"Remember tonight…for it is the beginning of always."- Dante

DAY ONE – Late Saturday Night

It always begins with the explosion.

The rumble and flash and concussion of the blast. The smell of smoke that claws at her throat, the choking pall of concrete dust that settles over everything.

As the floor of the hostage negotiation command station quakes under her feet, the one thought crowding her mind is his name. She feels she's lost him for sure, and it's like a punch to the solar plexus.

She watches herself stumble out into the lengthening afternoon shadows, and sees for the first time the smoking, skeletal hulk on Lexington Avenue that used to be the New Amsterdam Bank and Trust.

She runs, panicked, through the clouds of dust, dodging the emergency first responder crews, and tries to tamp down the obstruction in her throat that she knows to be a scream, as she goes to see whether her partner has survived the explosion. No one could survive something like that, surely?

Her mind is in a flat spin as she crosses the former entrance of the bank and takes a few hazardous first steps inside.

He has to be all right. He has to be all right.

She shouts his name, not even trying to mask her fear, and she waits for a response as she continues to stagger across the wrecked floor, over the rubble of crumbled brick, torn wiring and reams of scattered, scorched paper.

She hears no response. The sights and sounds around her continue but her ears are attuned for any hint of the one voice that matters to her. But she hears nothing. Fear clenches her stomach with a cold fist as she proceeds further into the building.

She's pushed aside by a team of EMTs and she lurches off-balance, skinning her shin on a piece of broken brick that protrudes from a clump of shattered wall in front of her.

She follows the emergency workers and her knees nearly give way at the sight before her.

The hostages, huddled together in the cage underneath the bank's main floor. All of them, prone and silent.

She sees a familiar splash of brightly colored fabric and moves towards it, fearing what her eyes are telling her. Not willing to believe what she sees. She staggers toward it and falls to her knees.

Castle is there, his mother is there, the other hostages too, but all is silent. He's not conscious...he's...

The sound of a woman screaming splits her eardrums.

It takes her a moment to realize that it's her own voice.

Kate sits up in bed with a jolt, sweating, breathing hard, her heart galloping. She suspects she may be hoarse from silent screaming.

She gasps as she hears a grunt from beside her and a hand slides warm across the skin of the small of her back. "You okay?" he mumbles.

"Castle..." She lies back down and rolls on top of him, slips her hands down his arms to clasp his fingers with hers. Their joined hands drift upwards as he reaches for her. She meets him halfway, kissing him soft but deep, pressing her tongue into his mouth, imposing on his space, and reassuring herself that he's really there.

The hurricane candle on her dresser has been burning for hours and it still flickers, throwing beguiling outlines onto the wall, casting just enough light for the couple in the bed to see each other and not much more. The quiet of her bedroom is relative, broken by the city's white noise of early Sunday morning sounds. Local bars emptying, taxis taking the drunks, the lovers home.

"Dream again?"

"Yeah...the same one." She looks deep into his eyes then nuzzles his cheek, breathes in his presence, breathes out, a warm tickle on the skin of his cheek. He's here.

She shifts and relishes the hot pressure of his growing erection against her. "I'm extra glad to see you," she says, rolling her hips deliberately into his.

He groans, his eyes drifting shut with the effort to keep himself under some control. She smirks when he bucks his hips into hers, but drops her smile when he presses a hard thigh between hers, then takes advantage of her distraction to flip and roll her under him, entering her with one stroke. She draws and releases a breath on a sobbing moan, eyes shut, back arching against the delicious, pulsing pressure of him.

He's here. With her. Right here, inside her. He's safe.

Kate sits up in bed with a jolt. She looks around, frustrated, mildly disappointed. She's alone in bed, as is generally the case these days.

That dream, though. About Castle. Her partner, her friend, her future - maybe – something more.

The dream about the bank explosion was no surprise. She's had that dream more than once in the couple of weeks since the blast happened, and never fails to leave her feeling very unsettled and upset.

But the dream that they were...together? She recalls the particulars of that dream and lays her cool hands on her burning cheeks.

Yeah, that dream.

What the hell was that?

Author's Note: This my first M!fic and my entry for the 2013 Castle Ficathon. I'll try not to panic that I now have to dream up the rest of a 50,000 word story!

Many thanks to KyinHI for the on the spot betaing, waving the pom poms and insisting I MUST WRITE THIS because she NEEDS TO READ IT. Read her stuff! She's awesome!

Based on a prompt from the Prompt Queen, lousiemcdoogle. Hope you like, lady! Read her stuff! She's excellent!

Tell me what you think? (hopeful smiley face)

Edited: 24/05/2013 Minor edits and corrected a reference to Sunday, not Saturday morning.