It is the first time he's been into her place and he's surprised by the simple elegance she's managed to create with just a few items of decoration; a couple of pictures on the walls, a bronze of a blacksmith at work on his anvil, a number of items which look fairly old, probably her mother's, though he's not going to inquire too closely just yet. She told him to take a seat whilst she disappeared into what he assumes is her bedroom. He can hear doors and drawers opening and shutting as he turns his head to take in his surroundings.
There's a pretty professional looking multifunction printer sitting next to a laptop on a table in the corner. The table also holds a small pot with a selection of pens, markers, scalpel-like cutters and next to that is what he thinks is a laminating machine. The décor is rustic, autumn colours, russets and oranges and browns and beige, giving the place a warm, cheerful feel despite the cold outside and the not very warm temperature inside. Kate warned him that she turns the heating off when she's not in the place.
She comes out of the bedroom carrying a holdall which she drops onto the couch next to him before heading to the kitchen and filling a jug with water. She's telling him about the neighbour who plays the saxophone at all hours and the building's superintendent who's always offering to check her plumbing, the eye roll making him grin, but he's not really listening to her, much more interested in watching her as she moves comfortably within her familiar surroundings, confidently striding around the room watering the plants that are sitting on windowsills and kitchen counter. He can't help pulling his phone out as she stands in front of a window, half bent as she spills some water into the flowerpot, hand holding her hair behind her ear, a sweet smile on her lips as she tells him about the time Lanie had dressed up for Halloween and mistaken her neighbour's door for hers.
She hears the click and whir of the snap being taken and turns her head to look at him, eyebrows arched in surprise, her hand still holding her hair to the side of her head, he can't help taking a second picture and quickly puts his phone away before she can do anything about it. Kate stares at him for a moment then shakes her head, hiding the smile that's trying to get out.
Half an hour later they're driving into the underground garage and she can't help wondering at the difference from the first time she'd seen this place. Then she'd been frightened, her back cut by the broken glass from the cabinet and bruised from the impacts of assailant and floor, scared in case the writer sitting at the wheel was intending to turn her in or hurt her in some other way, confused because his behaviour had been irrational to her way of thinking, exhausted from loss of blood and drained adrenaline. Now she's sitting next to the same man, in the same car, driving into the same garage and thinking of his family and dinner and sex … and not necessarily in that order!
He notices the blush on her face as he pushes the door open and the roof light comes on, but decides to let it go for the moment. They ride up in the lift, her bag on the floor in front of them. The Johnson's, who'd got into the lift on the ground floor keep up a polite conversation with Castle about the weather and their plans for thanksgiving whilst they keep glancing curiously from Rick to her to the bag on the floor and back again. She keeps a polite smile on her face all the while, patently ignoring the tell us all about you look from Mrs Johnson in particular and the admiring one from the rotund Mister Johnson. Once they've stepped out on the second floor, Kate relaxes, turning her head to look up at Castle only to see he's watching her in amusement. "I told you, I've never brought my 'double entendres' here, so it's normal for the natives to be curious"
"I'm not sure I like being thought of as one of your double entendres"
"Well …" he grins at her, "… next time maybe we should ride the lift handcuffed, then there won't be any doubts"
Kate laughs, but adds "In your dreams Castle!"
"Oh Kate you have no idea what my dreams are like" and he's giving her a full blown eyebrow waggle and lecherous look.
He's expecting to get the eye roll from her and is surprised when she turns into him, puts her arms round his neck, presses herself up against him and says in a husky voice, "And you Richard Castle, have no idea just how good … or bad I can be!" He's left gulping and staring at her in awe, the pinging of the lift totally lost to him as his imagination runs riot. Kate's picked up her bag and has taken a couple of steps down the hallway when her "You coming Castle?" brings him to his senses and he follows her out, his whispered almost lost to her as she heads for the loft's front door.
When they enter the loft, both Martha and Alexis are sitting on the couch, the elder redhead with what looks like a martini in her hand the younger one holding a book. Martha takes one look at their faces and her lip twitches, "Well, I must say it's nice to see you again Kate, I take it my son's looking after you adequately?"
Before Kate can say anything, Rick's standing next to her looking at the two seated women and says "I hope you two haven't been swapping items before we arrived?" indicating the book and drink.
"It's ok Pumpkin, I'm not so worried about you drinking … just a minute … scratch that … it's your grandmother reading that would really scare me"
The elder redhead raises her glass to him, gives a mock bow of the head and adds "Not half as much as it would me kiddo!"
Kate throws a look of thanks at Castle for getting her out of that one, the glance not lost on Martha who smiles even more and taps the seat next to her, "Join me will you Kate … or do you prefer Katherine?"
Castle takes her bag from her and moves into the study, allowing Kate to sit in the indicated spot. Once in the study he drops her bag by his desk pulls his phone from his pocket and pulls up the two pictures he'd taken of Kate. He definitely was going to be taking more of her, she was incredibly photogenic, but for now he'll use the second one for her ID. Satisfied once he's got her picture into the contacts, he slips his phone back into his pocket and heads out to rescue his damsel in distress.
Much to his surprise, Kate is laughing at something his mother's said to her, and he's inordinately pleased to see her so relaxed. She glances at him, a teasing look in her eyes and he turns worriedly to his mother "Just what are you regaling Kate with Mother?"
"Oh, nothing dear, just a few of your childhood and not so far removed antics"
"Is that why my daughter is sitting there covering her ears?"
"Your daughter is trying to concentrate on her book, not listen to even more stories of nappy rash and riding stolen police horses though central park … naked!" says that same daughter and the look of disgust on her face has both her grandmother and Kate laughing whilst Castle is blustering, not knowing whether to refute the allegations, instruct his mother to stop telling tales or asking his girlfriend what she finds so funny about nappy rash.
Nearly four hours later, Rick and Kate are finally alone in the sitting room, Alexis having gone to bed and Martha out to meet friends. Castle is half sitting, half lying on the couch, one leg stretched out along the back, his arms around Kate, both hands resting on her stomach, her own hands covering his. Kate is nestled into him, both legs stretched out along the couch, her back against his chest, head nestled into his neck as they quietly talk to each other, each little story or reminiscence revealing a little bit more about the one to the other.
Eventually Rick drops a kiss to her neck, his arms tightening momentarily around her before he asks "You want the guest room or the playroom?"
She turns slightly within his arms and gives him a raised eyebrow "Playroom Rick, really?"
He grins down at her, "Well I like to play … don't you?"