TITLE: Private Eyes
AUTHOR: Lord of Kavaka
CHARACTERS: Castle/Beckett
TIMELINE: Post-Season 3 AU
STORY TYPE: Romance/Adventure
SPOILERS: Anything from Season 1 - 6
DISCLAIMER: I do not own them, and I make no profit.
SUMMARY: Everyday was the same. Get up, work, and then go to bed. Kate Beckett was bored. She needed a change in her routine. So, after some nagging from her best friend, she allowed herself to be set up on a blind date… and that's when she met Rick Castle. AU. Spy Castle. Entry for 2014 Castle Ficathon.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I always wanted to write a "Castle as a spy" fanfic, and seeing chezchuckles' success gave me courage to attempt my hand at one. So, everything up to Season 3 is still canon, minus Castle's involvement with the precinct and books. I'm hoping to get to 50,000 words for this Ficathon story.

Private Eyes – Prologue

The hustle and bustle of the airport had always been daunting, more so now than before. But it wasn't really the rushed and hurried energy buzzing about that did it. No. She could handle the fast pace just fine. It was the crush and mass of people. She had never really been agoraphobic, but ever since what happened, Kate Beckett had never been a fan of large crowds in contained spaces. Clenching her jaw tightly, she did what she did best… sucked it up, and stepped through the sliding automated doors, desperately trying not to flinch at every sudden and quick movement that she glimpsed from the corner of her eye. The din was loud and oppressive, and she had to will herself not to panic.

She didn't want to look crazy.

Gripping the handle of her roller, Kate walked briskly across the tiled floor, focusing on the staccato click of her heels as she maneuvered around a family of three—Mom, Dad, and child—just standing there as the parents bickered about some inane thing while their little girl waited patiently for them to finish.

Kate sympathized with the young brunette, seeing some of herself at that age in the girl. She allowed herself a moment to linger on the image, so reminiscent of her own childhood when her mother and father would argue about some little thing while on a family vacation, before she let it fade with a small sad smile, turning away to make her way to the check-in line. She could have done it last night, but the panel she'd been attending ended late and she'd been exhausted, falling asleep the moment she'd collapsed onto the bed in her hotel suite, completely forgetting about the early online check-in.

She'd only come to Washington, D.C. under orders. Apparently the brass had wanted the city's best to represent them at the annual Law Enforcement Officers Conference, and Captain Gates had volunteered Kate for the assignment. When she'd tried to protest, the captain had told her to think of it as a short vacation, a reprieve from the stress of work. All her colleagues seemed to share the opinion that she'd been working too hard since her return to active duty. So, in the end, Kate had relented to the demands of her friends—and boss—and attended the conference, representing the Homicide Division of the NYPD.

The line was moving slowly, and Kate was getting a little antsy. She was beyond ready to go home and get back to work. She glanced at her wristwatch—clunky, male, her father's. It was a reminder of the life she'd saved. Looking back up, tapping her foot impatiently, she reached up and absently felt for the ring safely tucked under her blouse, hidden from view. The ring hanging on the chain around her neck was a reminder of the life she'd lost. Her mother.

Kate closed her eyes and inhaled slowly, willing her thoughts to refrain from wandering down that path. She'd spent too much of her life going down that rabbit hole. And after what had happened, she had promised her dad—and herself—that she'd back off… let things settle. Kate wasn't done though. Far from it. She had poked the sleeping dragon and had nearly been burned. She'd survived… marred, but alive. She'd go back… poke again. But not today.

She was startled out of her thoughts when the man behind her bumped into her back, knocking her off balance. She canted to her left, hitting her roller and causing it to topple over onto its side.

"Oops! Sorry," the man said, quickly seizing her arm to catch her before she fell.

Her breath hitched up, and she froze, completely caught off guard. It had been so long since she'd felt another's touch. The sensation was almost foreign to her. His fingertips brushed down her forearm as his hand dropped away, unknowingly leaving gooseflesh and a strange electric tingle in their wake. He bent down and righted her roller with swift and deft movements.

Kate flicked her eyes up to the stranger in front of her. The first thing she noticed was that he was tall. Dressed casually in dark jeans and a light gray polo shirt, an unbuttoned khaki jacket draped over his shoulders, he appeared to be nothing more than an average traveler. She felt slightly ashamed that she'd almost been hoping she'd find something suspicious about him.

He smiled sheepishly, his lips quirking up for a brief second, and gripped the brim of his distressed red baseball cap, tipping it courteously. "Sorry," he apologized again. "The line started to move, and I just stepped forward, not really paying attention." He paused, a bemused expression flashing across his ruggedly handsome features. "Your mind seemed elsewhere."

"Oh," Kate blushed, flustered as she glanced around, noticing that she was, indeed, holding up the line. "Yeah. I was. Sorry." She gave him a weak smile, before grabbing the handle to her roller and turning around to move up in the queue.

She looked back at him, and he pursed his lips, smiling reassuringly. She couldn't help but marvel at the sparkle in his blue eyes, so clear and self-assured. She wished she had such confidence. Hers had been somewhat lacking since… the incident. Kate bit her lower lip, her cheeks warming on a blush as she ducked her head, averting her eyes from his kind gaze. Thankfully, he didn't seem to mind her quiet and shy demeanor. She sighed, grateful that he didn't pester her when she remained silent. She wasn't trying to be standoffish or unfriendly. She just didn't know how to respond to his polite manner. It had been so long since she'd engaged in casual discourse with anyone with whom she didn't already know. And she'd never been good at small talk.

Kate turned her attention back to the line, heaving in a quick breath as she glanced around, feeling a little calmer now than she had before. Instinctively, she reached up again and felt for the ring beneath her blouse. She bit her lip and released a sigh. She just wanted to get her boarding pass and get through security, hoping that this delay wouldn't cause her to miss her flight.