A season 3 AU taking place during the Castle Halloween Bash. Written for CastleFanFicMonday and the Castle Halloween Bash.

Many thanks to those taking the time to read, you have my eternal gratitude.

"Oh good, you're still here. I thought maybe you'd left."

Her fingers still along the spines of his novels, Beckett shifts her gaze from the books in front of her to Castle standing in the doorway. A soft smile flirts along his lips, tugging the corners of his mouth up as he studies her.

She'd let Lanie talk her into stopping by the party, the annual Castle Halloween bash in full swing by the time she'd snuck in the door. Greeted by Alexis dressed as Jessie from Toy Story, the youngest Castle had pulled her into a hug and whispered her thanks for giving her advice about study abroad. The two were still talking when Castle approached. She arched an eyebrow at his Dracula costume, hiding her disappointed frown when he barely gets a chance to say hello before getting pulled into an animated conversation.

Beckett had wandered through the crowd of party-goers once Alexis had excused herself to go study, elbowing her way through the throng of superheroes, fairy tale villains, and various people who couldn't be bothered to not show up in their police uniforms.

Two drinks later with a little more liquid courage she tried to approach Castle again, finally feeling brave enough to ask him about the invitation to the Hamptons that she'd spent all summer wishing she had accepted. She wanted to tell him that Josh was simply a fling, their relationship simply a means of escape.

Seeing Gina approach sent Beckett looking for shelter, hiding out in Castle's office as the party carried on in the living room.

"Looks like you can't stay away from your literary ego," he muses confidently, Beckett's cheeks burning with heat as he steps further into the room. She shoves the hardback edition of Heat Wave back into the empty space on the shelf.

"Don't you have guests, Castle?" She means the quip to sting, wants him to forget about her as he had apparently done all summer.

Instead, Castle steps closer, fingers skimming down the cloak she wore. "Nice costume, I should have known you'd be a Harry Potter fan. Professor McGonagall, right? Although I am partial to last year's costume."

Beckett adjusts the pointed hat resting atop her head, teeth sinking into her bottom lip to avoid flashing Castle the smile that threatened at the memory. "That bird is still on my bookshelf."

"Good, you earned that bird." The fake teeth he wore as part of his costume shine unnaturally white as he laughs. "Ah, that was a great costume."

Ducking her head to shield her smile, Beckett flinches as his hand straightens the hat she wears. She meets his eye, is sure he is reading the questions she's avoided since she'd arrested him months ago. He clears his throat and drops his hands to her shoulders. The heat from his palms radiates through the thin cloak she wears, her skin tingling at the simple touch.

"What was your best Halloween, Beckett?" His blue eyes bright with curiosity, his warmth sudden gone as he settles against the edge of his desk. He removes the fake fangs, running a hand over his gelled hair as he questions her more. "Come on, best year you went trick or treating or best party you ever went to?"

She bites back the retort she wants to toss his way, ask him why he even cares. Instead she swallows the hurt she'd spent weeks denying and lets her want to tell him and to let him back into her life win.

"The year my parents both took off and we all went trick-or-treating. I was 6, and I was incredibly original and went as a puppy because I'd spent all year asking my parents for one. My parents even dressed up."

She smiles at the memory, meeting his kind gaze as she moves to sit beside him. "My parents let me stay up late and eat way too many pieces of chocolate. We sat around the fire and my mom made hot chocolate and my dad told not-so-scary ghost stories. It's the only year we went as a family."

His hand finds hers, giving her fingers a gentle squeeze. She takes the simple comfort, letting the silence settle around them. She swings her legs, dress billowing around her ankles, a soft chuckle escaping.

"And now that you've got a little more back story for Nikki Heat, your turn. Your greatest Halloween memory?"

Castle lets go of her hand as he rubs his palms together in excitement. She grins at his childlike enthusiasm despite missing the warmth of his fingers.

"It's a tough choice, I've got to admit. But the winner is the first time I took Alexis trick-or-treating. She was barely old enough to walk, her baby hand tucked into mine as we wandered the streets of New York. I dressed her up as a space cowboy."

"Of course you did," Beckett laughs, enjoying hearing of Castle as a doting dad. He nods his confirmation, absentmindedly scratching at the two fake puncture marks on his neck as he continues.

"She was the cutest kid out there that night. And I can't wait to do it again someday." She stills at the assured tone in his voice, hazel eyes colliding with the sparkling blue that she'd spent all summer thinking about.

The question escapes before she can bite it back.

"Why are you in here talking to me, Castle? You've got a party going on." His heavy sigh pricks at her heart, eyes darkening with hurt that was all too familiar, the same one that was reflected at her in the mirror.

"Because the one person I wanted at this party is in this room."

He changes topics, pushing off from the desk and shoving a hand through his hair. She's breathless, her brain racing to catch up with his words.

"She left, you know. Early, from the Hamptons. We had a fight; she called me out on my feelings for you. Which I didn't deny. And I didn't tell you sooner because you were with Dr. Motorcycle...Josh. You're with Josh. But being around you the past few weeks, I can't deny it anymore."

He looks away shyly, his words healing her heart even as he averts his gaze.

"We…" Beckett fights to find her voice, willing the courage she'd found last spring, the courage that disappeared with his absence over the summer, to come back. "We broke up. After you came back. Because I spent all summer wishing I'd been with you in the Hamptons. And I thought I could deny it and I thought I wanted to get lost in something safe. I thought I wanted something easy. And it wasn't fair to anyone to deny what I really wanted."

The surprise shows on Castle's face even as he crowds her space, hands bracketing her hips as his breath mingles with hers. "And now? What do you want, Beckett?"

Dropping her gaze to his lips, she lets the truth escape on a breath.

"You. I just want you."

His smile is beautiful as his fingers sneak under her chin, tilting her face to receive the soft kiss he bestows on her lips. Her hands cup his cheeks as he deepens the kiss, fingers skimming against the rough 5 o'clock shadow she already can't wait to feel against her cheeks.

The loud music suddenly booming from the other room pulls them apart, Castle dropping his forehead to rest against hers as their breathing slowly returns.

"I guess we should…get back to the party," she whispers as he groans, Castle's hand covering hers that settles over his heart.

Stepping aside and helping her to her feet, she holds his gaze for a second longer before admitting with a smile, "But…you should know, this might be one of my new favorite Halloween memories." Beckett dusts her lips against his cheek, shooting him a wink as she turned towards the door.

His voice is rich and warm as he presses one last kiss to her lips. "So long as you plan on sticking around after."

She tosses him a smile over his shoulder.


Many thanks to my amazing beta Jen, who has never given up on my words. Did you ever know that you're my hero. My endless thanks, friend.

Always grateful to learn, extremely appreciative of any reviews. Thank you for taking the time to read.