It was completely Castle's fault. Utterly his fault. One hundred percent, God, no, 200 percent his fault. Okay, maybe it was the teensiest bit hers, but really, he had been needling her, and now she's hiding out in the precinct ladies' room, with one hand sharply pulling her hair away from her blushing face and the other, the offending hand, stuffed in her pocket.
Kate Beckett is still red-faced two full minutes after what she has already labelled, in her rapidly fraying mind, "The Incident." She's trying to figure out if it's actually possible to die of embarrassment. Death by mortification. Mortification of the flesh. Wait, not that kind of mortification of the flesh, not self-flagellation, because really, shouldn't she be beating up Castle? Since this is all his fault. And, shit, she really, really has to stop thinking about flesh. Especially his flesh, which she has definitively not explored. Admittedly, she has explored it plenty in her imagination, but not in the, well, flesh.
They have been inching towards something for weeks—for years, if she were honest with herself, which she should be since she's holed up here in the very same stall where Castle had caught her all but drooling over page 105 of Heat Wave ages ago. They have spent incalculable amounts of time flirting, verbally fencing, but lately their thrust and parry has gotten a lot heavier on the thrusting, especially on Castle's part. Still, Beckett isn't quite ready to concede, to tear off the mask, to put down the sword. Is she?
It was definitely Castle who precipitated "The Incident." They were standing together in front of the murder board. Beckett's frustration at not having gotten a handle on this case after three days was already high, and rising. Furthermore, the city is in the middle of a heat wave, the last, brutal gasp of summer, and the precinct's antediluvian AC is about as effective as a fly swatter deployed against an entire Okefenokee Swamp mosquito swarm.
But there was Castle, looking irritatingly comfortable in his bespoke linen shirt, with his sleeves rolled precisely three inches below his elbows. How the hell was he so unrumpled, anyway? Even his hair was perfect. He was closing in on her, crowding her, incessantly murmuring remarks that were designed to get under her (sweaty) skin. When he said, "The heat getting to you, Beckett? Can't be. You are the heat," she snapped. She turned sharply, fixing him with a glare that could peel the scales off an armadillo. Raising his hands, palms up, Castle stepped away.
Ryan and Esposito were out chasing some sure-to-be-a-dead-end, rat's-ass lead. Beckett, still looking at the board, was so intent on trying to think what she might have overlooked in the case that she didn't realize that Castle had come back. He was hovering so near to her that his breath was warm in her ear. If he blew in it, so help her, she'd kill him, and there would be no witnesses.
He didn't. Instead, he leaned perilously closer and whispered giddily, "Beckett, have you thought about wearing a skirt in this weather? That would be seriously hot. I mean, you'd be cooler, but you'd be seriously hot. What a thermodynamic paradox, right?"
How could she have known that he had gone off to get her an iced latte? She spun around with the intent of smacking him on the arm, his gorgeously muscled arm, and telling him to stuff it. Spinning too quickly, she missed her mark, knocking the latte out of his hand and making a belated, futile grab for the plastic cup. What she grabbed, hard, and squeezed, was not the cup but his crotch. His alluringly hard crotch. Simultaneously, in hapless synch, Beckett and Castle made strangled, indecipherable noises, and locked eyes. Then, compelled to look down, she discovered with horror that she was, unaccountably, still palming him. She let go as if her hand, and his pants, were on fire—and fled.