Drifting towards Dating
(aka. En Route to a Relationship)

Alright, here it is, the start of the sequel to "A Matter of Motive." I hope that people aren't too disappointed. You don't really need to read the first one since I summarize a lot of what happened in this chapter, but you might want to anyways (I think it's a pretty good story). There's not that much Castle/Beckett in this chapter, but there will be I promise. Let me know what you guys think so far. (Again, the chapter is ridiculously long, but that seems to happen when I write these two, so whatever).

Disclaimer: I still own nothing

xxxxx

It was already late when they got to the crime scene. Well, okay, not late, but late-ish. Taco-night at the Castle residence had been pretty much over when Kate'd gotten the call. At least the main course had. The way things had been going it looked like a little bit of lingering over coffee was in order. Not surprising given that the owner of the residence Richard Castle himself, had, only minutes before mind you, kissed the lovely detective. Against the door. In his writing room. Not that the advance had been unwelcome. She'd returned the favour only minutes later to even the score.

But it meant that it was long dark by the time everyone was finishing up with the crime scene (an old parking lot near an abandoned building). It was always harder to see the details in the dark. And in this particular instance, even though the vic was a gunshot victim dressed up as a teddy bear, he wasn't the most interesting thing around. He also wasn't the only thing being examined for details. Given that when Kate had left the office the Friday before still hating the writer for all that she was worth, the pair's apparently overnight reconciliation puzzled their colleagues. Ryan and Esposito weren't too worried about the details, though they definitely gossiped… ahem… discussed them when Beckett wasn't within earshot. Whether or not Castle heard them the boys didn't mind so much. Might have even asked him what happened, if the writer was ever more than three feet from his muse that is. When the detectives did finally manage to get the man alone all he'd had time to say was that their female colleague had decided it would be better if they reached an understanding before he came back to the station on Monday, at which point Beckett herself had called a question to him from across the crime scene. The writer had jogged right over to see what she was talking about and hadn't left her side since. Neither Ryan nor Esposito was stupid of course; they knew there was more to the story then that… Privately they came to the conclusion that Castle had obviously charmed his way back into Beckett's good graces. Somehow. No doubt after she'd given him a good blasting. But both men knew enough not to poke in where they weren't wanted. Especially since things would definitely run more smoothly that way.

Besides, Beckett with a smile on her face had been a rare sight the past few weeks and Castle had already teased a couple out of her. Probably at his own expense of course, but that was irrelevant.

The coroner on the scene was less ready to accept the simple sentence Castle had offered by way of explanation when she'd alluded to his sudden return. Of course Dr. Parish had the joint advantages of knowing her friend pretty well, being a smart woman with a fair bit of intuition, and having been promised details later. Details always meant a story and a pretty good one too, if the couple's body language was anything to go by. She was internally cursing the lack of light, not only because it made her job harder, but because it meant that she couldn't watch her friend's facial expression as closely as she'd like. Castle was fairly easy to read. He was too obviously overjoyed to be back in Beckett's good books. How far he'd gotten into those books… well she wouldn't know until she talked to Kate. As it was, her imagination was running wild, what with the mischievous smile that had accompanied the promise of details, the ghost of a smile that had hovered over the woman's face a couple of times in the last fifteen minutes, and most tellingly, the fact that fences had apparently been mended well enough that Castle felt comfortable enough invading the good detective's personal space from time to time. He'd even placed a hand on her waist to guide her over to look at something or other, a gesture which would have resulted in a withering glare if not a broken arm had Beckett still been angry.

Frustratingly a talk with Kate had to wait until they were away from the crime scene. Not that Lanie planned to wait long for her promised details. She figured she could drum up some excuse or other to get her friend down to the morgue later that evening. While Kate refused to talk about her personal life at a crime scene Lanie'd realized long ago that she didn't always extend that rule to the morgue. The trick would be getting rid of Castle. Snapping off her gloves Lanie stood. "I've got all I need from here. Can't get anything else until I get him back to the morgue. I can probably have more details for you in an hour or two."

Kate nodded absently, clearly running some piece of information over in her head, "Thanks Lanie. Just let me know and I'll head over when we're done with witness statements and canvassing the neighbours. I could use whatever you can find."

"Oh, don't worry, you'll definitely be hearing from me," Lanie told her friend.

Kate looked up then, giving her friend her full attention and a knowing smile, "Then I'll wait for your call."

"Uh huh." Oh, something had happened alright. And unless she was very much mistaken (and she wasn't), something good. Very good.

xxxxx

He was hovering again. Not quite invading her personal space, but standing somehow just on the edge of it as he looked over her shoulder (to see what she was looking at she assumed). He'd always enjoyed dogging her steps, literally. It took some getting used to and she'd been out of practice for two weeks, not used to another person watching her this intently. Until know she hadn't realized how much she'd missed it.

Castle interrupted her thoughts, "So, this your first teddy bear?"

"Nope." She told him. She grinned at his look of surprise. "Third actually." He raised his eyebrows in question and patiently waited for her to continue. Turning back to what she'd been examining before she continued, "Found a pair of them murdered in an apartment once."

"You really do like the weird ones," he remarked, his voice half amusement, half appreciation.

"And people in costume definitely qualify. Not to mention the things people tend to wear them for outside of Halloween are also the sort of things that can get you killed," she told him absently as she tried to get a better look at whatever was half-stuck behind the cement post she was examining.

"What sort of things are those Detective?" Castle asked her, his voice all innocence.

But Kate wasn't fooled. "You're a writer Castle, I'm sure you're more than capable of filling in the blanks," she responded dryly.

He leaned ever so slightly closer so that he was almost whispering in her ear, "Maybe I just want to hear you explain them."

Rising to the challenge she turned to look him right in the eye, "Well, either he was going to a child's birthday party or this was some sort of role-playing simulation, likely with sexual implications."

"Could you have possibly phrased that more clinically?" Castle asked her with a pout.

"Sadly no," she told him absently as she put on a pair of gloves. "I can never remember any of the technical terms."

He grinned at her. "Ever do any role-playing of your own?" he asked innocently. When Kate whipped around in surprise he continued, "I ask purely for research purposes Detective. Why else?"

"I can't imagine," she told him. "I also don't know why my answer even matters seeing as Nikki Heat is some sort of part-time prostitute anyways. I'd have thought she'd already be familiar with these sorts of things."

"Sexual situations yes. But I haven't decided on the specifics yet. So have you?"

Deciding this conversation had gone far enough all things considered, Kate decided to draw his attention back to the task at hand, "Concentrate Castle."

"That's kind of hard to do. Ever since you said role-playing and sexual situations in the same sentence… Well…" he told her with a suggestive leer.

She grinned, and moved in slightly herself. There was more than one way to get what she wanted. "Tell you what Castle, the faster we close this case, the faster we'll be able to continue this… discussion. After all, I think it's a conversation best had when we're alone, don't you?"

Castle's eyes widened slightly, before he rapidly changed gears. "Okay, so the case, whaddya got?"

"Maybe nothing, but grab me an evidence bag will you?"

Castle turned and dutifully found one and held it open for her. "You know they're staring," he remarked casually.

She didn't even bother asking who he meant. "That was to be expected."

"Think they'll ask you about it?" He asked, trying to gauge her reaction.

But she was calm about the whole thing. "Ryan and Esposito, maybe eventually, but probably not tonight. Lanie'll give me the third degree the second she gets me alone."

"You going to tell her?" He asked curiously.

"Why wouldn't I?" Kate countered.

"No reason."

But Kate was used to interrogation, and his dismissal had been too quick for it to be nothing. "Do you not want me to tell people that we kissed each other?"

"Beckett you can feel free to tell anyone and everyone you want that we kissed each other. Twice." He said with a grin. "I just thought you might not want people to find out, me being who I am, and working with you and the book and everything." Very eloquent Castle. No wonder people sometimes questioned his writing skills.

"Well, I would prefer to keep things relatively private if you don't mind. But I'm going to tell Lanie. What about you? Martha's got to be dying of curiosity."

"Martha can stew about it for a while; she'll be far too smug if I tell her." This conversation seemed far too serious. So he'd kissed her, and he wanted to again. Didn't have to be a big deal… Did it? Castle decided a change of subject was in order, "Find anything?"

"Just regular trash," Kate told him with a sigh. "We'll bag it of course just in case anything is important, but I'm not sure we'll find much. That's the problem with finding bodies in abandoned areas. There's always tons of unimportant junk littered around."

"Well, we know he was shot here…" Castle trailed off, searching for what that implied.

The detective picked up his train of thought. "… so either he must have been meeting someone. No one would be here without a reason. Maybe he was grabbed and brought here to finish the job."

"Or he hid something here and someone followed him."

Beckett nodded, acknowledging the possibility before turning to the other side of the crime scene, "Come on. Let's go see what the guys have."

xxxxx

Turns out the guys didn't have much. They'd been searching for any potential witnesses, but it wasn't exactly the kind of neighbourhood that produced many reliable witnesses. Even after Beckett and Castle started helping with the search it proved to be slow and tedious. It was late when they finally made their way back to the station after canvassing the nearby buildings and talking to passers-by. Search hadn't yielded much, a couple of people thought they saw an older car (not sure of the make or model as accounts differed, but the colour appeared to be blue or black) drive by the area, someone got out (male, dark hair, potentially wearing a light-coloured jacket), walked in the direction the body had been found, and ten minutes later got back into the car. Kate was hoping Lanie would be able to tell them something more useful.

As if on cue her phone rang, "Beckett."

She heard the coroner's voice on the other end of the line, "Hey. It's me. I've got something for you."

"Thanks Lanie, I'll be down in a minute."

"See you in a bit."

Kate hung up her phone and turned to the other two detectives. "That was Lanie, she's got something so I'm gonna stop by the morgue on my way out."

"Alright," Esposito told her. "I guess we'll just pick this up in the morning." He turned to his partner, "Unless you've got something."

"Nah," Ryan replied. "I've got nothing. We'll start fresh in the morning."

"Okay," Kate told them, "Night guys."

"See you guys tomorrow," Esposito told the pair as he grabbed his coat. "You never know, maybe Lanie'll tell us something that'll break the case."

"Yeah, you wish." Ryan retorted. "Night Beckett," he paused, then added with a smirk, "Night Castle."

"Night guys," Castle responded absently. He wanted to talk to her, wanted to know what was going on, what they were doing. He wasn't sure if he'd get a chance that night, but maybe that was best. After all, what did he want to be doing? Besides the obvious of course. On the other hand, he wasn't about to let another opportunity slip by. He'd almost lost her once.

Kate herself interrupted his thoughts, "You coming to the morgue?" she asked him.

"Hm?" He'd lost track of the conversation.

"Castle, focus. The morgue. Lanie. The case. You coming?" Then her voice softened slightly, "You don't have to. I can get this one if you still need to catch up on some sleep."

But he'd recovered himself by then, and even if it was a bad idea he wanted to continue their earlier conversation when his daughter wasn't in the next room. Maybe she'd be agreeable after they found out what Lanie had to tell them. "And pass up the chance to wear one of those wonderful morgue helmets? You're not getting rid of me that easily Detective. I'll come."

"Alright, then get a move on."

"Yes ma'am." He told her, as he stood grabbing his jacket.

xxxxx

Lanie didn't have much to tell them. As everyone had assumed cause of death had been the gunshot wounds to the chest. No ID yet, but the victim was Caucasian, late-twenties/early-thirties. No drugs in his system although there was a low amount of alcohol in his blood, well below the legal limit. No ID of any kind, but she was running his fingerprints through the system. And based on the wear on the inside of the costume, it appeared to have been made for him.

While she ran through all the facts Lanie watched the pair across the table from her, hoping to get a hint of what might have happened when they were in better lighting. Neither of them betrayed much, Kate was too focused on the case; Castle might have been slightly preoccupied, but it was hard to say. Had they always stood that close together? She couldn't remember, but she thought maybe they had. The pair of them did always have a habit of invading each other's personal spacem so that was nothing to go by. Luckily she had a plan.

"And that's it. If I get a hit on the fingerprints I'll let you know, but he might not be in the system."

"Thanks. Any evidence of sexual activity?" Kate asked.

"None that I could see, but if he had a shower afterwards there might not be," Lanie pointed out, knowing why Beckett had asked.

"Okay, thanks Lanie. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Actually Detective," she said keeping her tone casual, "I was wondering if you had a few minutes."

"Sure." Kate told her agreeably, "Whaddya need?"

"Signatures on some paperwork from some of our old cases. It shouldn't take too long if you don't mind waiting." Okay, so there wasn't actually any paperwork, but she was sure if Beckett pressed she could find some.

Kate raised her eyebrows, before smilingly slightly. "No problem." She turned to Castle, "I might be a while. You know, boring cop stuff. Why don't you go home and I'll see you tomorrow."

"But…" he started. This wasn't how he'd wanted this to go. But he knew Kate, and he knew there was no way he'd be able to push her once she'd made up her mind. "Okay, but I don't mind waiting."

"Nah, no point in both of us being sleep deprived. Get out of here Castle." Her tone softened ever so slightly, "I'll talk to you tomorrow."

He decided it would be best to retreat gracefully. Besides, he could use the time to come up with a strategy. "Until tomorrow Detective."

She sighed, before adding with a smile, "Until tomorrow." He shot her one last grin, before adding a quick goodnight to Lanie as an afterthought. With that he left the morgue.

Well, so much for convincing Beckett to go out for that missed coffee. Though he supposed he now had a few hours to come up with a game plan.

xxxxx

The two women watched him leave. When she was sure he was out of earshot Kate turned to Lanie, "Paperwork?" she asked with a smile.

"Figured it was the best way to get writer-boy out of the room. He always tries to avoid the mundane."

"Unless he's avoiding something even scarier," Kate said in agreement. "But what if I'd asked you what you were talking about."

Lanie shrugged unapologetically. "Oh please. You know as well as anybody how much paperwork our line of work generates. I'm sure I could have found something for you to sign if I'd really needed to."

Kate acknowledged that with a nod before getting to the truth. Keeping her tone innocent and slightly confused she asked, "So if not paperwork, what did you want to talk to me about then?"

Lanie's expression turned incredulous. "Right. What on earth could I want to talk to you about? Girl last time I talked to you, you were a bit of a wreck, not to mention out for writer boy's blood. Tonight you waltz onto the crime scene with Castle in tow, a smirk on your face and mischief in your eyes. And don't think I didn't notice the way he was looking at you, forget about how close he was standing. So drop your innocent act Katie dear and give me details!"

Kate laughed, giving up all pretence of innocence. "Alright, I'll give you your promised details, but not here." When Lanie started to object she continued, "It might take a while so we might be better off somewhere more comfortable. So go get changed and we'll go for coffee."

"Fine, but this had better be good," Lanie grumbled.

"Oh, it will be." Kate promised with a grin. "Let's just say I decided to follow your advice." When Lanie's mouth dropped open, the detective laughed again. "I'll meet you upstairs Dr. Parish."

Lanie's mind was swimming. Followed her advice? But what advice? She'd given a lot of it over the last few months, most of it unasked. And it had ranged from simply talking to the man to jumping his bones… At this point she wasn't sure which she wanted to have happened. She needed to get cleaned up. Right now. Kate couldn't hold out forever, although the fact that the detective was clearly enjoying herself was a damn good sign. She definitely wanted her promised details.

xxxxx

Kate had irritatingly refused to start talking until they were settled at the coffee shop and had given their orders to the waiter.

"Alright Beckett," Lanie said, "Stop stalling and spill."

Kate nodded to her friend and started talking. "Do you remember our conversation on Saturday, when you told me that if I wanted to know anything, whether it was about my mother's death or why he'd stuck his nose in to begin with, I needed to talk to Castle?" When Lanie nodded she continued, "I decided you were right. I was driving myself crazy with all the what ifs. I needed to talk to him. But I couldn't call. It just… I don't know. Maybe I wanted to yell at him face to face. Maybe I just needed to see him to see if he actually meant anything he was saying. Maybe I just couldn't do it over the phone. So…"

"So?" Lanie prompted.

"So before I could talk myself out of it I stormed over to his apartment." When Lanie raised her eyebrows in surprise Kate amended her statement. "Okay, so maybe I didn't storm over. It started out as storming over, but by the time I got there, that had kind of petered out, and I kind of wished I'd just stayed home.. But it was too late for that because I was already knocking at his door without any idea what I was going to say. I mean, I could hardly start screaming at him, what with his daughter and his mother sharing the apartment. And then Martha opened the door." Kate laughed softly. "She was pretty surprised to see me."

"I bet." Lanie remarked dryly. She could well imagine the surprise on the other woman's face. From what she'd heard about Castle's mother she would have prodded and poked until she'd gotten all the details out of her son. Lanie did wonder though if the older woman might resent the pain caused to her only child. "She wasn't angry at you or something was she?"

Kate laughed softly again. "No. Not even a little. She was having some sort of informal party, but she barely gave me a chance to apologize for the interruption before she'd hauled me in through the front door and propelled me into Castle's writing room." She'd remembered how pleased Martha had been to see her, how determined the older woman had been to get her into Castle's office. For all her insanity, Martha Rogers was certainly one of a kind.

Well that was interesting, Lanie decided. His mother had been anxious to speed up a reconciliation. Clearly the Castle residence approved of Beckett. That was a good sign. She noticed Kate had trailed off again, apparently lost in her own thoughts. "Bet he was surprised to see you as well."

"Oh he was completely shocked." Kate agreed. "He was pretty clearly expecting me to ban him from the station."

Which meant she hadn't done that. Even more interesting. "What did you do?" Lanie asked.

Kate sighed, "I asked him why. I realized that I needed him to tell me. Needed to make sure…"

"That it wasn't just for Nikki Heat." Lanie supplied. When Kate nodded she continued, "And what did he say."

"That he did it because he cared about me. He'd apparently meant it as some sort of gift or something, though he realizes now that was a bit stupidly idealistic. But he was trying to be nice."

"That's one hell of a gift," Lanie remarked.

"Yeah," Kate agreed. "And then when I told him how I felt about my mother's case he apparently decided to close it back up. But the guy he'd asked to look at it had already found something. So he had to tell me."

Lanie knew she had to tread particularly softly here, try to disturb old wounds as little as possible, especially as they'd already been recently disturbed. "Did you ask him what he found?"

"Yeah." Kate kept her eyes resolutely trained on her coffee cup. "She was targeted Lanie. The knife wounds weren't random. The assailant knew what he was doing. And there were three other people killed in the same way around the same time. Someone wanted my Mom dead."

"Oh sweetie…" What else could she say? "If you need any help…"

"I know. And thanks. Apparently Ryan and Esposito have been giving him a hand so they'd probably welcome anything you'd noticed."

Oh, back the truck up. What? "Giving him a hand? He's still trying to solve it?" Writer-boy had some serious guts.

"He's still trying to solve it." Kate confirmed. "I'll probably get on-board soon. I just need a couple more days. He said he'd do whatever I needed."

Lanie's mind was reeling. Whatever she needed? And Kate had taken him up on it? There was far, far more going on here. She was about to ask her friend exactly what it was she'd asked Castle for (oh, the possibilities), when Kate continued. "He really did look like crap you know."

"He was upset," Lanie supplied.

"Yeah." Really upset, which had been flattering, and sweet.

"You believed him," Lanie added, even though that much was obvious.

"Yeah," then Kate smirked. "According to Martha he'd been pining."

Lanie laughed. "Castle, pining? Now that I'm sorry I missed." Then something occurred to her, "When were you talking to Martha?"

"Oh, not long after that," Kate told her. "Alexis wanted to talk to her Dad about dinner plans since Martha and her friends had apparently taken over their kitchen." She paused before biting the bullet. "They invited me out for dinner with them," she said as casually as possible.

Lanie grinned. Well, now this was getting really good. "Did they now?" she asked innocently.

"Yup," Kate confirmed.

God it was like pulling teeth, Lanie thought to herself. "And Alexis didn't seem to mind?"

"Hmm. What? Oh, no. It was her idea actually." Kate replied. Alexis Castle really was a sweet girl. Far more sensible than her father too.

Lanie's grin grew. So mother and daughter were on side. Well that was excellent. "I'm assuming you went."

"Oh you know Castle, wouldn't take no for an answer, and his daughter's just as bad." Kate told her friend. "I was worried about intruding but they didn't seem to mind. They took me to their favourite Indian restaurant and bet me that it would be the best Indian food I'd ever eaten."

"And was it?" Lanie asked.

"Yes," Kate admitted sheepishly.

"What were the terms?"

"Of the bet?" Kate sighed, Lanie was going to have a field day. "If I won Castle had to do whatever I said for two weeks; if I lost I had to let him pay for dinner, basically let him be nice to me, oh and get desert," Kate said with a laugh. "It was nice," she added.

He'd set up a bet where if he lost she had to let him be nice to her? Lanie nearly slammed her head down on the table. Just how dense was the woman sitting across from her? Glancing at her friend's face and remembering the mischievous smile she'd been seeing all day, she amended that thought. Maybe she wasn't dense at all… "Just nice?" she asked.

"Lanie!" Kate said with another laugh. "Yes, it was just nice. His daughter was right there and I'd just learned my mother had been murdered." Right, she'd forgotten about that. "But yeah, it was nice. A nice distraction, from, well, all the other stuff. They're really sweet together you know. And they didn't make me feel like an outsider."

So Kate had noticed the man was a good father, that he might be a good distraction for all the rest of the stuff going on. Those were two more good signs. The farther along this story went the surer Lanie was that it didn't end up with the two of them jumping each other, not yet at least. "Bet you heard from good stories though."

"Oh yeah." Kate nodded, "Remind me to show you the pictures with the llama."

"You have pictures?" Lanie asked in surprise.

"Alexis sent them to me," Kate confirmed.

Lanie couldn't resist, "She seems to like you."

"Yeah. She's a nice kid. Too bad she had to leave early." At Lanie's look, she continued. "One of her friends had a boy emergency, needed moral support. So it was just Castle and I for desert."

Better and better… "Then what happened?"

"Nothing that you're thinking. We talked, had desert. He took me home, walked me to the door and kissed me on the cheek. Like I said, it was nice."

Nice. Right. It was nice. That was why the woman across from her was trying (and failing) to keep an idiotic grin off her face. "Uh huh. And are you sure that's all that happened."

"Yes, Lanie, I'm sure." Beckett insisted. When Lanie's face fell slightly, the mischievous smile resurfaced, "Well, all that happened Saturday night anyways. They'd asked me over for taco-night, which just happened to be today."

"What!?" Lanie cried. "Girl, tell me you said yes!"

"I did." Kate confirmed, "When I was sure I wouldn't be intruding, but apparently they have guests all the time."

"Who was there this time?" Lanie asked suspiciously.

"Just me, Castle, Alexis and Martha," Kate admitted.

So she'd been invited for a family dinner too... "And?"

"And it was nice too. We had dinner. His family's lovely. It was fun. After dinner I decided we'd better get a few things straightened out before we went back to working together."

"Like what?" Lanie asked.

"I told him I wanted in on my mother's case," Kate told the other woman, who nodded. "And I yelled at him for pushing his nose into my personal life without asking," Lanie smirked, "And I forgave him."

Lanie stopped nodding abruptly. "I'm sorry hon, did you just say you forgave him? The man you'd been ranting about and tearing to pieces for the past two weeks?" She couldn't quite believe it.

Kate blushed and ran a hand over her face, "I know, believe me, I know. It wasn't intentional, but I believed him and I did forgive him. I'm not sure I trust him 100% yet… I threatened to kill him if any of it every made it into a book, but he promised me it wouldn't."

"He promised you." Lanie repeated. Apparently, whether she realized it or not, the good detective trusted the man enough to believe he was genuine.

"Yeah."

"Then what?" She was missing something, she knew she was.

"After that?" Kate asked with a full-blown smile, "After that he kissed me."

"WHAT? Where?"

"Against the door of his office." Kate said as nonchalantly as possible. Seeing her friend's scandalized look she continued, "On the mouth Lanie. This isn't high school."

Lanie was still a little shocked. I mean, sure she'd been hoping, but she'd never actually expected… "Then what?"

"I kissed him back, he teased me, I insulted him. Then I kissed him again, and we went back into the kitchen for coffee when I, well we I guess, got called in. Cue the pair of us arriving at the crime scene," Kate said, finishing her story and looking quite pleased about the whole thing.

Lanie's mind was starting to settle. "So now what?" she asked.

"I don't know," Kate sighed. "Apparently he wants to kiss me again, and between you and me I can't say I'd mind it..."

"But?" Lanie prompted.

"But I'm not sure it's such a good idea. I mean, between us working together, and my mother's case, and I don't even know what he's looking for. Because I'm pretty sure I don't want a casual sex thing with Richard Castle."

"Well, first of all girl, you need to talk to him. Find out what he wants. I know he's got a reputation and all, but this doesn't exactly sound like he's angling for a one-night stand. I'm sure he's had them, but do you really think his daughter or his mother get to know any of those women? The man's been married twice, he's clearly capable of having a more serious relationship. Two, you complain about working with him all the time, and you've pushed him out once, if you really needed to you could do it again. And three, what does your mother's case have to do with whether or not you're in a relationship?" Lanie had an idea, but she wanted Beckett to say it.

"Well, he is the one with the connections. And he is the one who promised to keep working on it. And he promised to help keep me sane if I needed it," Kate reasoned.

"Sweetie you do not need Castle to solve or get through your mother's case," Lanie pointed out. "You've got your friends, including yours truly I might add. You're a damn strong woman. And you've solved cases without him before."

"But maybe I want him!" Kate shot back. "Maybe I like the idea of having someone with connections look into this with me, of being able to stop by his apartment to talk, or getting a hug whenever I want it! Maybe I don't want that screwed up!"

Hugs? Yup, definitely more than Beckett was letting on, but now was not the time. "And do you really think if you started something it would screw all that up? From what I hear the man seems pretty invested in this, in you. He's not likely to drop it all if it turns out the pair of you don't work. I mean, he's still on fairly good terms with his ex-wives isn't he? Wasn't one of them his publisher? He still manages to work with her, and you two don't even have to go near that far." When Kate acknowledged that Lanie continued, "I know you're worried about screwing up the newly-restored peace between you but from where I sit it sounds like you already want more. So figure out exactly what you want, then go and talk to him so you can figure out exactly what he wants. Look how well talking to him worked this time. You're happier today than you were on Friday weren't you?" Lanie paused before adding, "Let him in Kate. Even if it's just a little. You know you'll regret it if you don't at least try."

"Yeah," Kate said softly.

"Besides, if it doesn't work out, the offer to help dispose of the body still stands," Lanie added.

Kate grinned, "Thanks."

Lanie grinned back, "And try to relax a little! This doesn't have to be a big thing. It's supposed to be fun. Castle's fun. Try and let yourself enjoy it." Then, deciding to lighten the mood, she added. "So, hugs?"

Kate blushed, "That might have been part of the deal," she admitted with a laugh.

"Oh, you've got it so bad," Lanie shot back.

xxxxx

Castle was trying to come up with a game plan. Problem was, a game plan for what? What was his goal here? What they were doing was definitely fun. When he'd first met Beckett his original offer had been for a wild night together, and while he had no doubt that it would also be fun, the idea of some sort of casual sexual relationship with Beckett (somewhat similar to the one he had with Meredith he couldn't help thinking) left him cold. He didn't want casual with her. She was special. He'd just have to show her.

He wondered what Beckett thought of all this. Sure she'd agreed that they needed to talk, but maybe she didn't want a serious thing right now. She was going through a lot. He wished he could talk to her, but stupid Dr. Parish had kept her at the morgue doing paperwork, which was irritating. And come to think of it, surprising. He would have thought both of them were far too organized to get behind on their paperwork.

Suddenly it hit him, he'd been had. There was no paperwork. What had Kate told him, that Lanie would get the details out of her as soon as she got her alone? The medical examiner had been maneuvering to get her friend alone so she could get the story. And Kate had gone along with it. Of course she had, she loved pulling the wool over his eyes, not to mention she probably wanted to share the details with her best friend. He grinned to himself; it seemed he would have to catch up with his favourite detective later.

He picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number, unsurprised when he got her voicemail, "Wow you're still not home. I guess there must have been a quite a lot of paperwork to keep the two of you busy for so long. I'm on to the pair of you Detective. Although to be fair, I guess it is a pretty juicy story if I do say so myself. I would like to talk to you about continuing it, if you could spare me some of your time. I promise to make it worth your while. But I guess there's plenty of time for that later. I can be patient if I need to." Then he added almost as an afterthought, "See you tomorrow at the office Detective, and sweet dreams."

He spent the next half hour as he got ready for bed planning out how he could win the lovely Katherine Beckett.

xxxxx

Kate was smiling as she wandered into her apartment. Lanie was right; this wasn't necessarily something to panic over. And it certainly didn't need to be decided today. She should just try to let herself enjoy it. Noticing the light on her answering service blinking she went over to check it, praying she wasn't about to be called out.

Hearing the voice on the other end her smile grew. Yes, Kate thought to herself, this could end up being very good.

xxxxx

TBC