As The Story Goes

Author's Notes: As The Story Goes is my collection of Castle/Beckett ficlets, drabbles, and one-shots I've written as responses to prompts. All are up on my tumblr, but I wanted to finally get them posted here. Enjoy!

For today's offering, lousiemcdoogle on tumblr prompted me with Castle walking Kate back to her car after Martha's one-woman show in Once Upon a Crime.

Spoilers: Season 4, post-Once Upon a Crime, Caskett, reasonably canon-compliant I think.

Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over Castle, Beckett, or anyone you recognize from this wonderful show. I'm simply playing with them for my own amusement.

"Well, it looks like you made it out of the woods, Castle."

Her partner chuckled beside her, a low, easy thing that spread warmth through her belly and down to her fingertips. It made her wool coat nearly obsolete, that warmth. She loved his laugh.

Well, she loved more than that, but things were still complicated. She was trying, of course she was, but it was a process. A sometimes infuriating process, but a process nonetheless.

"Yeah, I guess I did. And you didn't even have to use your gun."

This time she was the one chuckling, allowing him to see how much his recall of her earlier gaff amused her. He'd taken his lumps all evening with relative grace; she'd let him have this. This chance to hold the door for her and make her laugh on the brief walk to her car.

"Lucky me. It probably would've been hard to explain to Gates if I had."

The smile he sent her way had her smiling back without hesitation. This was the easy part.

"I had fun tonight," she offered softly, giving his jacket sleeve a gentle tug. Her handhold earlier had been impulsive, but this touching was becoming increasingly deliberate.

"You always have fun when you and my mother gang up on me."

Well he had her there. She grinned, bumping him gently.

"Say that like your ego doesn't love being the center of attention, Castle."

He laughed again, bumping her back. They'd been doing this a lot lately. The nudges, the laughter. It was good.

"I'm glad."

"Hmm?" She lifted her eyes to his, trying to follow his train of thought. Had she said something out loud when she shouldn't have?

"Glad you had fun at my personal history's expense, Beckett."

Right. The show.

"However will your actual innocent history survive?" she drawled, biting her lip to hold whatever it was she might also say in check.

"I honestly have no idea."

"You poor thing."

"Yeah it's tough being me."

Her head dipped in amusement. Sometimes her partner could give his mother a run for her money when it came to theatrics, but it was endearing. The man loved his mother dearly, no matter how much he grumbled.

Her cruiser came into view far sooner than she would've liked and she found herself slowing down before their stroll could come to an end. It had been a good night; she really wasn't ready for it to be over. Her apartment would be dark when she let herself in, quiet and empty. Any other time the quiet might be just fine with her, but after leaving the loft it just felt lonely.

"You're not heading back to work are you?"

"What?" Her eyes darted to him, finding him studying her carefully. She'd gotten used to his scrutiny long ago. "No, no. Just heading home. It's late, there's no reason to head back in until tomorrow morning unless we get a call."

Whatever he'd been looking for in her face, he must've found because he nodded, smiling easily once more.


"Yeah," she agreed quietly, drawing her keys out of her pocket. Her thumb worried over the ridges of her car key as she ran through their conversation options in her head. They'd run out of real estate on the sidewalk, making it time to go even if she didn't want it to be.

"So this is me." Was she really this bad at this?

"It is you," Castle observed, sounding as reluctant to say good night as she felt.

Nodding lamely in return, she shifted her weight.

"Thanks again, and thank Martha again too."

"I will."

This hadn't been a date, but it damn sure felt like it. Then again, any other date and she wouldn't be agonizing this way. She shouldn't be agonizing this way now, either. The process sucked sometimes.

"See you tomorrow, Castle."

She didn't wait for him to reply. She also didn't let herself think too hard about the kiss she pressed to his cheek. It wasn't anything substantial, over before it started really, but her cheeks flamed traitorously anyway as she unlocked her car door and slid inside.

"And oh!" she added quickly, clearing her throat and the fog from her mind. "Tell Martha I can't wait to see the pictures she digs up."

That seemed to shake Castle out of his stupor, too.

"What? No, no, that's not fair, Beckett. If you get the naked baby pictures, I do t-"

She shut the door on his protests, feeling the grin spread over her cheeks. That put things back on a more even keel, didn't it?

"Beckett! I'll call your dad!"

"Goodniiiight, Castle," she singsonged through her window, pulling away from the curb. A quick glance in her rearview mirror told her he looked as amused and dumbstruck as she'd hoped he would.

Good. It was a process and it sucked, but they were getting there.