Good lord my chapters are really getting out of control so I'm glad that longer chapters are popular. I very nearly split this one up, but there was really no good place to do it. Okay, so that's a lie. There was no place that I wanted to do it. So I didn't. Anyways, this is the end. And I think it might be the end of the series (which I'm kind of sad about), because I'm not so sure where to go from here. Although I suppose you never know. I'd like to thank everyone who reviewed either this, or A Matter of Motive, because as I said, I really appreciate it, and if the feedback to the first one hadn't been so positive this might never have been written. I appreciate everybody's comments. So thank you for taking the time.

Speaking of comments, this fic is the first true romance that I have ever written, so any feedback anyone has would be by me appreciated, if it's not too much trouble. Even if you just mention what you liked and what you didn't. And I suppose I should warn you, this chapter is pretty much pure fluff from start to finish.

Oh, and I will be re-posting all chapters in a few days or so after correcting all the little grammatical errors, so if anyone happens to notice any, feel free to point them out.

And now there's nothing left to say except, as always I own nothing. And enjoy.


Kate arrived home not long after her conversation with Castle. She'd gotten started on some of the paperwork for their last case, but had decided to leave the rest until the morning. Right now she had to get ready for her date. With Castle. Oh God. She had a date with Castle.

No Kate, she told herself. You will not panic. You decided you wanted him. And he told you he wanted you. Well sort of. He might not have used those words, but it was definitely implied, even if he might have been teasing a little bit. It was always hard to tell with Castle. But he had said the two of you would talk. So calm down, and get changed.

Oh crap. What on earth was she going to wear to go out on a date with Richard Castle?

In order to stop the panic from rising again Kate grabbed her cell phone and punched in a familiar number.

"Hello?" a voice on the other end greeted.

But Beckett was in no mood for social niceties. "Lanie what the hell do you wear out to dinner to a place that is, and I quote: Nice. Not too fancy, but nice?" she demanded.

"Beckett?" Lanie asked confused. "What on earth are you... Oh girl, the reason you're asking me that question had better be the one I think it is."

Kate sighed, "It is."

"So he's taking you out to dinner?" Lanie asked, and Kate could hear her friend's grin down the phone line.

"Yes." Kate admitted.

"About damn time," was the good doctor's opinion. "I guess he got his courage up after you solved the case. Maybe some sort of post-case celebration?" Lanie guessed.

"Actually I think it had more to do with the fact that I kissed him," Kate admitted as she rummaged through her closet. The second the words were out of her mouth she regretted them. Lanie was going to go nuts now.

Lanie just laughed, "Did you now? Why Detective Beckett, kissing your consultant. Again. I'm glad to hear it."

"Lanie, can we focus?" Kate asked, even though she figured it was futile. "Right now I'm not interested in the kiss. I'm interested in figuring out what on earth I'm going to wear."

"Speak for yourself. I'm far more interested in this kiss," Lanie told her.

"Of course you are," Kate said with a sigh.

"It's what, your third?" Lanie double-checked.

Kate paused in her search, "Does on the cheek count?"

"When'd you kiss him on the cheek?"

Oh crap. Well now she was royally screwed. "Last night, when I was returning Alexis' cell phone. She left it at the precinct," Kate explained, trying to keep her tone nonchalant.

"You were at his house with his family? Again?" Well that was interesting, Lanie thought to herself. It seemed her friend had been spending a quite a bit of time with the Castle family. And somehow Lanie didn't think she was quite getting all the details.

"They asked me to stay for ice cream!" Kate said defensively. "You try saying no to that family. Anyways, the kiss, well, it was just to say thank-you for the sundae." Kate paused in her search for something to wear a second time. God, she didn't even believe that. There was no way Lanie would.

"And what was this one to say thank-you for?" Lanie asked with a grin, not buying the excuse for a minute.

Kate decided she might as well tell the truth. Lanie'd just badger it out of her anyways. "Nothing. This one wasn't to say thank-you for anything. It was... it was different."

"Was it now?" Lanie had to admit she was having the time of her life. Kate so rarely got flustered, that when she did teasing her was always fun.

Kate sighed. Yup, she'd been right, there was no way she was getting out of this. Lanie would have been one hell of an interrogator. She'd better just get it over with. "Alright, I kissed him because I wanted to. Because he's a good kisser. Because every time he's within five feet of me I pretty much want to anyways. I like him Lanie; I want to go out to dinner with him. Is that what you wanted to hear. God. I thought this is what you wanted me to do. I'm attracted to him. Are you happy now? What is so wrong with that?" Kate asked.

Kate realized that despite (or perhaps because of) her outburst Lanie was still irritatingly amused. "Nothing's wrong with that sweetie. I'm just glad you finally dug yourself out that pit of denial you'd buried yourself in and admitted it to yourself."

Kate gave up and rested her head against her closet door. "Great, so can we focus on my wardrobe problem now?" she asked.

"You want me to come over and help you?" Lanie offered.

"No." Kate told her, "Because I don't have a lot of time and if you're still here when he gets here then that's just weird. Besides, I've been dressing myself for a while now and I'm sure I can figure it out."

"If you say so," Lanie told her sceptically.

Kate sighed, "Just tell me what you think 'nice, but not too fancy' means."

"Truthfully?" Lanie asked. "I think that's basically the date equivalent of the dreaded 'dress-code: semi-formal'. I'm pretty sure it means you can wear whatever the hell you want. My advice though? Wear a skirt. He sees you in dress pants all the time. Skirt and a nice shirt and you'll be fine hon'. You must own a black skirt. Those things go with anything."

Kate sighed, feeling slightly calmer. "Okay. Thanks Lanie."

"No problem. Maybe find one on the shorter side while you're at it."


"Nothing wrong with showing a little leg girl," Lanie pointed outs slyly.

Kate laughed, she should have known.

"And Beckett," Lanie added.


"Calm the hell down. This is a good thing."

Kate paused before replying, "Yeah, I know it is."

"Good," Lanie said. "I hope you have fun tonight."

"Me too," Kate admitted.

"Oh, and Beckett?"


"I want details," Lanie told her.

"Good-bye Dr. Parish."

"Good-bye Detective."


Castle walked into his apartment and set his keys on the counter. Moments later a surprised Alexis walked into the room, "Hey Dad. You're home early," she said.

He looked up and grinned at her, "We closed the case," he told her. "Thanks in part to yours truly of course."

Alexis rolled her eyes. "I'm sure Detective Beckett had something to do with it as well," she pointed out.

"Of course," Castle admitted easily. "That's why I said in part. Beckett figured out who our murderer was, I figured out how to get him to admit it. It was a joint effort."

"You two make a good team," Alexis told her father with a grin.

"I like to think so," Castle confirmed.

Alexis decided a change of subject was in order. "Well, I'm sorry I can't stay and celebrate, but I told Owen I'd go to a movie with him tonight," she told her father. "Don't worry, we're going to the early show so I should be back by ten."

"Okay sweetie," he told her. "Have fun, and be safe. But actually I have plans myself so I probably won't be here when you get back. So make sure to lock the door, especially if your grandmother's not home. And don't wait up, I'm not sure how late I'll be," he told his daughter. Given her ridiculously responsible schedule he figured there was a chance she'd be in bed by the time he got home. Well, he hoped so at least. There was always a chance the evening would be a disaster and he'd be the first one back. Back from his date with Beckett. Had a nice ring to it. He wondered if now that he was dating her, she'd tell him he could call her by her first name.

"Dad, I'm not five. I know enough to lock the door when I get home, whether I'm alone or not," Alexis told him indulgently. "Wait, you have plans? Since when?"

"Since this afternoon," he told her.

"Really?" Alexis asked, suddenly suspicious. "With who?"

Castle grinned. "Now sweetie, I know that a lot of the time you're the responsible one in the family, but I am capable of taking care of myself. Don't worry about me. And go get ready for your date with Owen."

He was avoiding answering her question. Pretty pointless, considering his avoidance pretty much confirmed her suspicions about his mystery plans, but a valiant effort nonetheless. "I just want to make sure your date is good enough you know," Alexis told her father.

"Who said I had a date?" Castle asked. "I said plans."

"Dad," Alexis said in utter disbelief. It was completely obvious.

Castle's smile grew. "Alright fine," he told her. "I know you're concerned, but trust me, you have nothing to worry about. Now go, you don't want to be late."

"Actually, I'm already ready," Alexis told her father. "I just have to grab my purse from the closet. But I guess I should be heading out, just in case there's a line at the theatre."

"Okay honey. Be safe."

"Bye Dad!" Alexis called as she opened the door. "And tell Kate I said hi!"

Castle just shook his head as he walked upstairs. Was he really that transparent?


Half an hour later Castle was walking downstairs again, ready to head out. He'd gotten changed (though picking out an outfit had taken more time than he'd willingly admit to), and called the restaurant to make a reservation. All that was left was to stop and pick up some flowers for his lovely Detective and he'd be all set.

"Well don't you look nice," a voice from the other room said as he went to grab his keys from the counter where he'd left them.

Castle gave a mental sigh. Of course she'd be home tonight, "Thank you mother. I didn't realize you were home."

"Actually I've been home all afternoon," Martha told him with a smile. "What's the occasion?"

"None of your business," he replied quickly.

"Well that may be true," Martha told him, "But a mother has a right to pry into her son's life from time to time." She gave him another once over for effect, "And based on appearances I'd say that my son has a date. But a date with whom I wonder?"

This must be what living in a fishbowl was like, Castle thought to himself. So much for keeping things relatively private. He'd never stood a chance. Not that the fact that he was dating Beckett was something to be ashamed of, or was something his family would even find particularly surprising. He knew he certainly didn't need to hide it from his family, but... if it didn't work out.... If it didn't work out they'd know. And things would be awkward. A little privacy would have been nice is all, at least while he and Beckett were testing the waters... but now...

Throughout his mental panic Martha had continued talking, "You've been working on a case for the last few days, which would tend to limit your pool of potential dating partners, unless you stooped to a new low and started dating a person of interest in your murder investigation of course. But let's assume that's not the case shall we darling? Besides, unless you're acting like an irredeemable cad, given your behaviour towards a certain homicide detective over the last few days..."

"Enough mother!" Castle interrupted. "Just. Back. Off." He practically growled at her.

Martha broke off her speech abruptly at his interruption. "Why darling, I was just teasing you a little. There's no need to get angry," she told him as she walked over to him to get a better look at his face. "But you're not actually angry are you? No," she said as she examined him more closely, grinning when he looked away, "You're not angry at all. You're nervous," his mother amended, her tone shocked. "In fact, I might go so far as to say you're downright terrified!" Martha exclaimed with glee.

"I am not terrified," Castle shot back, "I would remind you that I have been on quite a few dates before," he added.

But Martha shook her head, "Not like this one," she told him. "Even when you were dating your ex-wives, you didn't react like this. You are terrified, and all I can say is Praise the Lord!"

"Excuse me?" Castle asked her.

"You heard me," Martha retorted. "I've watched you. I've watched you go out with society belles, over-adoring fans, and hundreds of other similarly vapid people, all trying to nail a rich husband. But none of them mattered. And I don't blame you for it; everyone needs a little fun in life. But for the last twenty years I've been waiting for you to find a real woman, a strong woman. And now you've found one, and she matters. And you know your usual shtick won't work on her. Katherine Beckett doesn't care that you're a millionaire celebrity, doesn't care about being photographed for the tabloids. She is not going to be impressed by fancy cars, or a beach house on an island paradise, or whether or not you can get a table at the fanciest restaurants in New York with one phone call..."

"I'm not taking her to a fancy restaurant," Castle muttered. "I'm taking her to Frankie's."

Martha paused pleased, "Ah, so you do know her."

"Mother, I've been following her around for the better part of a year now. I think I know her pretty well," Castle pointed out. "This could be awkward enough without taking her somewhere with white table-cloths, 18 utensils, and waiters in tuxedos."

"Yes, I could see how this type of shift in your relationship could be awkward," Martha said softly in an attempt to keep him talking.

"Right, well, it's obviously going to be a little awkward, but we can get past it," Castle replied, trying to sound convincing.

"Well you'd better, given that you see her almost every day," Martha told him.

Castle shot her a look, "Thank-you for that Mother. That had occurred to me already."

"Well of course it has," Martha told him with a wave of your hand. "That's part of the reason you're terrified. Quite apart from the fact that you're falling fast," she added with a grin.

"Mother," Castle said with a groan. "Well, if you're done having fun at my expense, I really should be going now. Don't wait up."

Martha's voice stopped him. "You know, for all that people talk about how insightful your characters are, you really can be hopelessly dense sometimes."

Castle stopped in his tracks, "What now mother?" he asked exasperated.

"There's no need to get snippy," she told him. "I was merely going to point out that for all your panic you've clearly not recognized the one advantage you do have."

Castle sighed, and turned, "And what would that be?" he asked.

Martha grinned, "Merely that the good Detective is quite obviously just as twitterpated as you seem to be." When she saw the shock register on his face, Martha knew she'd hit home. "Ah, you didn't think of that one did you?"

Castle was completely flummoxed, "How do you... Did she..." he started to ask.

Martha's grin turned indulgent. "She didn't have to you fool. Do you really think that Katherine Beckett would risk something like this, with a man like you, especially given your existing working relationship, without a very good reason?" Martha paused and waited for her words to sink in before continuing, "Now get going or you'll be late. And for goodness sake's try not to screw it up. Oh, and invite her to the play would you? Brian was able to get tickets. It's on the 25th."

"Right." Castle replied somewhat dazed, "Well, I've got to go. I'll see you later Mother," he told her as he left the apartment.

Martha watched him leave, shaking her head in amusement before sighing softly. God help them all if this didn't work out.


Castle walked down the hall, his heart pounding. Kate couldn't really... I mean, surely he would have noticed if... She had randomly grabbed him and kissed him earlier that day. And she did seem to enjoy his company when they weren't working. And he had thought she'd wanted to stay for ice cream despite her feeble protests. Castle couldn't help grinning. So maybe he had a reason to be hopeful. But then he squashed that thought, he didn't want to seem too arrogant, that would just irritate her. He couldn't be too sure of himself, he'd just be... optimistic.

Yes, he thought as he got into the elevator. He'd be optimistic. Now he thought, for flowers. Because even if Kate Beckett wasn't indifferent to him, he was still going to try and tip the balance further in his favour any way he could.


Kate was standing in her apartment trying not to fidget. She'd followed Lanie's advice and settled on a simple skirt cut to just above the knee and a red v-necked shirt. She'd found her shoes, her coat was by the door and she'd double-checked her hair and make-up. All she needed now was Castle, who should be arriving any moment now. She hoped he got there sooner rather than later; she could use the distraction.

As if on cue her buzzer rang, "Hey, come on up," she told him. Minutes later she heard a knock on her door. After checking that it was indeed Castle on the other side, she opened it. "Hi," she said with a nervous smile.

"Hi," he replied. "These are for you," he told her as he pulled a bouquet of red tulips from behind his back.

"You actually brought me flowers," she said with a little laugh. "They're beautiful, thank-you Castle. Come on in for a second while I put these in a vase."

Following her in and shutting the door behind him, he glanced around her apartment. Unsurprisingly it was full of warm colours and soft furniture, probably to act as some sort of safe haven from the world she lived in every day at work. Turning his focus back to the woman searching through her cupboards for a vase he remarked, "I don't know why you're so surprised Detective; I told you I would bring you flowers."

Kate glanced over from the counter where she was arranging her tulips, "Yeah, but I thought you might have been joking about that," she told him with a grin, before she turned back to her flowers.

He frowned momentarily. She'd thought he'd been joking? Did she think he was taking this lightly? Okay, so he'd be the first to admit that he wasn't often the most serious person in a room, but that didn't mean that... He walked towards her, "I can assure you Detective that I'm taking this very seriously."

Kate glanced up at that, unable to control the blush that rose to her cheeks, or the smile that bloomed across her face. "Me too Castle."

He smiled in response, "Good," he told her. "Are you ready to go, or do you need more time with your tulips?" he asked.

She grinned, "No, I'm ready," she told him.

He held out a hand, "Then let's go." When she took it he added, "By the way, I don't believe I mentioned how lovely you look tonight. Because you do. Look lovely I mean," he said as he helped her with her coat, grinning when her blush deepened. She really did look fantastic in that skirt. It was a shame skirts were so impractical for catching criminals really. He liked her hair that way too, half up and curling slightly around her face. And enlightened as he was, he couldn't suppress the male pride that surfaced at the thought that she'd put all that effort into looking nice specifically for him.

"Thanks," she told him. "You look nice too," she added. He did look nice in his black slacks, blue dress shirt and beige jacket. He smelled good too. She wasn't sure what was in his cologne but it made her want to do the most interesting things...

"Such praise," Castle told her, softening his words with a laugh.

"Well, I wouldn't want you to get too conceited Castle," Kate retorted quickly.

"No chance with you around Detective," he replied.

Kate just laughed.

Castle waited patiently as Kate locked her apartment door, before offering her his arm and escorting her to the elevator. Once they got out of the building he led her to a waiting cab, and after giving the driver the address of the restaurant, they were off.

Now what? He thought to himself. Well this was just great. He finally got Beckett on a date and he had no idea what to say to her. It's not like he could ask her about her day. After all, he'd been right there for most of it. And small talk just seemed... strange. He supposed there was always the usual 'getting to know you' type questions, but he already knew a lot of her answers to those, and she knew his. Well crap, this was awkward. He should have anticipated this problem and come up with some sort of list of potential topics of conversation. Stupid, he told himself.

Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you looked at it), Kate seemed to be suffering from the same problem. The situation was a bit surreal. But she was the one who thought of something to break the silence first, "So, where are we going for dinner?" she asked him.

Castle glanced over and tried to sound relaxed, "A little Italian place not far from here," he told her. "You do like Italian don't you?" he asked, suddenly worried.

Kate grinned at that, "Yes Castle, I do like Italian."

"Good. I suppose I should have checked, but I didn't think. I mean, most people like it anyways, but that's beside the point." Good grief, he was rambling. He didn't know which was worse, that or the awkward silence. Deciding that the rambling was the lesser of the two evils he kept going, "I go there every so often. It's really good food, without being really pretentious or really fancy. Plus it's smaller, which is nice."

"Sounds perfect," Kate told him with a smile.

He smiled back. Unfortunately, after that the both lapsed into silence. This is idiotic, Kate thought to herself. It's just Castle. What the hell is wrong with you? And what the hell was wrong with him? Usually she couldn't get him to stop talking! She sighed softly; maybe this had been a mistake. Maybe they should have taken a couple of days to think this through. No, she was not going to sabotage this before it even started. They'd figure it out. It was always bound to be a bit awkward. Maybe things would be better once they actually got to the restaurant.

Castle heard her sigh and winced. And things had started off so well what with her opening the door and looking all fantastic. Although to be fair, she still looked fantastic. They just needed to figure out a way to get past the awkwardness. Yes. That was all. He blamed the cab. Things had been fine back at her apartment, but now they were in an enclosed space, a set difference apart, and things were awkward. That gave him an idea. He glanced at his watch, they definitely had time.

"Hey Beckett?" he asked.


"You want to walk the rest of the way? We're a bit early and it's not far. It's a safe neighbourhood, and a nice night."

Kate considered the request. She had a feeling she knew why he was asking, and it wasn't a bad idea. A walk would be more natural... she hoped. "Sure, that sounds nice," she told him, sending him what she liked to think was an encouraging smile.

He smiled back, relieved, before tapping on the glass in front of him and informing the cabbie that they'd be getting out early. After paying the man he joined Beckett on the sidewalk and again offered her his arm. "I assume we're going this way," she remarked, gesturing in direction the cab had been going.

"Yeah," he confirmed. They walked in silence for a couple of minutes, before Castle broke it rather desperately, "You're not too cold are you?" he asked.

"No, I'm fine." Beckett told him.

"Or your shoes, they're not hurting your feet are they? Because I know that, for some inexplicable reason, women's shoes aren't always made for actually made for walking in."

Beckett laughed, "No Castle, trust me, I'm fine. I'm not cold, and these shoes are actually fairly comfortable."

"Okay good," he told her before they lapsed into silence again.

Beckett's thoughts began to wander. Okay, what was going on? Maybe she should have pretended to be a little cold, if only to keep the conversation going! This was getting ridiculous. It was awkward; she felt it, and she knew he did too. And if things kept going the way they were the evening could well end up being a disaster. It just didn't make any sense. They'd been circling each other for the last week, and it had never been this awkward. But then again, there'd never been any obvious intent until now. Before this afternoon everything could still be denied, and they'd suddenly lost that luxury. Kate got a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach... Maybe...

She shook her head quickly. No, she'd already put herself on the line here. She owed it to herself to see this through. There had to be a way to ease the mounting tension between them. She stopped walking abruptly, and Castle turned to her concerned. "Something wrong?" he asked.

"No." She told him, shaking her head, before sighing and amending her statement, "Well, yes, actually." She watched as his face fell slightly, before she just decided to bite the bullet. "You haven't done anything wrong, quite the opposite actually, but... well... It's just..." She took a breath and just said it. "This is really awkward."

"I know!" he burst out, glad that she'd just come out and said it. "It's ridiculous."

"Completely ridiculous," she agreed.

"I mean, it's not like I thought it was going to be smooth sailing from start to finish," Castle explained, "but this is insane! For some reason I can't think of a single thing to say to you. I mean, it's you. It's like my brain has just disappeared! Even when you're mad at me, I can still always think of something to talk about."

"Well how do you think I feel?" Kate asked. "Usually I can't get you to shut up."

"Yeah, and let's face it, it's not like I'm not attracted to you Detective. Because I am. Very attracted to you," Castle couldn't help pointing out.

"Yeah, I got that," she told him. "And I can't say that I find you completely unappealing," Kate admitted.

"Really?" Castle asked, pleased by the admission.

"Oh shut up," she told him good-naturedly.

"Yet this is still really awkward," Castle concluded.

"Yes it is," Kate confirmed.

"Huh," Castle remarked. "So what do we do about it?" he asked.

The both paused in the middle of the sidewalk lost in thought.

"There has to be some sort of a solution right?" Kate asked.

"Sure," Castle told her. "And we're smart... aren't we?"

"Yeah, we are." Kate agreed, "We catch murderers for a living Castle, surely we're smart enough to figure this out."

"Right, this should be a piece of cake," he told her. "I mean, it's you."

"Exactly. We've just need a game plan," Kate agreed, "Otherwise..." she trailed off because although she really didn't want to go down that road, but her stupid brain couldn't seem to stop.

Castle realized where her thoughts were heading and his heart leapt to his throat. She was thinking of stopping this thing before it even had a chance to start. No way was he letting her do that, "NO. No otherwise. Stop right there Detective. We will figure this out," he insisted.

"I was just going to suggest that maybe we should wait a couple of days, you know, to wrap our minds around everything," Kate told him feebly. "I wasn't going to suggest dropping the idea altogether." Well, she was pretty sure she wouldn't have suggested that. But she was pretty terrible with relationships so...

A part of him thought she might have a point; maybe they had taken things a bit too fast. Maybe some time would... he didn't now... be a good thing. But then another part of him disagreed vehemently with that suggestion, "I don't think that's such a good idea. Maybe that might have worked if we'd thought of it before I picked you up tonight, but if we do it now we'll always have the unresolved awkwardness of tonight hanging over our heads and sabotaging all future attempts," he pointed out.

"That's true," Kate acknowledged. "And if we did postpone then I'd just be hungry on top of everything else."

"Exactly," Castle said. "So, other ideas?"

Kate lapsed back into silence considering.

"Ooh. I know!" Castle exclaimed, "Maybe it would help if you didn't call me by my last name," he suggested.

Kate paused considering. "To separate the professional and the personal you mean... I see your point. I can try, but I've gotten pretty used to calling you Castle. I kind of like it. And calling you Rick just seems strange somehow." Then she remembered a request made earlier in the week, "However, now that I'm out on a date with you, I suppose you can call me Kate if you want," she told him with a smile.

Castle grinned, "Okay Kate," he told her, stressing her first name. "That's one change. What else has changed?"

Kate paused to consider. "Not much," she pointed out. "It's not like you don't flirt with me at the precinct pretty much constantly already," she told him.

"Yeah," Castle admitted. That was true.

"Everything else is the same," Kate continued. "Well, except the intent of course."

"And it seems the intent is the problem," Castle said with a sigh.

The pair lapsed into silence again.

Castle had to admit she was right about there being some sort of serious intention behind the banter now, but should that really make that much of a difference? Sure, the original flirting had been all in fun, but just because they both wanted it to go somewhere didn't need to suck the fun out of it, did it? So why had he been panicking all evening? It wasn't like he'd always been perfectly calm around her before. Heck, sometimes his heart-rate rose whenever she stepped anywhere near him. Any fool could see the chemistry between them. In fact, the only time since he'd seriously started thinking about pursuing this that he hadn't been panicked at all had been... Castle paused, well that was an interesting notion.

"I have an idea," Castle told her suddenly.

"You do?" Kate asked, her voice hopeful.

"Maybe what we just need is to calm down for a minute, figure out a way to stop the panic and awkwardness from settling in. Then we can move on with dinner."

"Okay, sounds good," Kate agreed. "But how do you plan on doing that?"

Castle grinned and stepped towards her, moving her into a little alcove off the sidewalk to give them at least the illusion of privacy, "I was thinking about a little distraction," he admitted.

Her heart started thudding in her chest, "Like what?" she asked, trying to keep her voice steady.

Castle noticed her nerves and his grin turned predatory, "Just trust me Kate okay?" he asked as he took her hand and began tracing the lines of her palm.

Kate's breath hitched, "Okay." she told him as she inched towards him.

Castle watched her eyes for a second longer before cupping her face with his hands and kissing her. It was like flipping a switch. Any residual panic just fell away, and all he could think of was Kate. He could smell that heady combination of her perfume and her body wash again. God, how did she manage to always smell so good? Then she let out a murmur of pleasure after he traced his tongue across her lower lip and he lost the ability to think altogether. Eventually he pulled away slightly to catch his breath. Mere moments after his lips left hers she wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered his name.

Good lord, if he'd had any idea how much a single breathy "Rick," would affect him he'd have insisted she call him that from the day they met. As things stood he had no other option but to kiss her again even more desperately. Castle felt her arms tighten around his neck as she pressed her body into his. She was trying to kill him, there was no other explanation for it. And he couldn't bring himself to care.

Kate's head was spinning. She knew they were in a semi-public location, but that didn't seem to matter all that much at that moment. Not as long as he kept doing what he was doing. She had to admit the panic and awkwardness had disappeared long ago. She felt one of his hands drop to her waist to pull her even closer, while the other tangled in her hair to further prevent her escape, not that she wanted to escape of course. Letting out another moan of pleasure she angled her head to deepen the kiss, and then gasped as her knees buckled, thankful that he had a pretty solid hold on her.

Sometime later his grip on the back of her neck loosened and she managed to dethatch her mouth from his. Dropping her head to his shoulder Kate grinned, "I've got to say Castle, that may have been one of the best ideas you've ever had," she told him, leaning against his shoulder and waiting for her legs to steady.

Kate could feel his answering grin against her hair. "Oh, so it's back to Castle is it now?" he asked her. "Not that I mind," he added quickly. "In fact, I'm not sure that I'd mind anything at all right now."

"Hmm..." Kate hummed in agreement.

"So, your panic gone?" he double checked. "Because mine flew out the window ages ago. God you smell good."

"Nope, no panic here," Kate admitted. "How'd you know that'd work?" she asked him.

"I didn't," Castle told her candidly. "But I thought it was worth a shot. And even if it didn't get rid of the awkwardness I figured that at the very least it'd give me one hell of a reason to make sure neither of us bailed on this thing."

Kate laughed delightedly. "And what exactly is this thing, Mr. Castle?"

He sobered slightly, "What do you want it to be?" he asked her.

"I asked you first," she countered quickly.

He mentally sighed, "Well I guess one of us has to bite the bullet and just say it, it may as well be me." He took a deep breath, "Detective Katherine Beckett, Kate... I am utterly, and completely crazy about you, have been since the day we met, though I may have been too stupid to realize it at the time. And I would like very much for you to be, for lack of a better word, my girlfriend."

Kate grinned, "Okay." She told him happily.

"Okay?" he asked somewhat put out. "I tell you I want to start a relationship and that's all you have to say?"

Kate laughed again and kissed him quickly. "Yes, Richard Castle, I'll be your girlfriend." She caught the expression on his face, "You needn't look so surprised," she told him. "I told you I was an all or nothing kind of girl once."

"I know," he agreed, "But, but... I told you from the day we met that all you had to do was say the word. What did you think I wanted?"

"I wasn't sure. And if I recall the original offer was for a night in your bed if I'm not mistaken."

"Hey, all I suggested was that we get to know each other better. You were the one who interpreted that as being a conquest of some kind. And I don't ever recall putting any kind of timeline on the offer."

"You honestly expect me to believe that you were suggesting a relationship back then?" Kate asked him incredulously.

"Well maybe not," Castle admitted. "I can't remember exactly what I was suggesting, but I would like to believe that if I had been lucky enough to get a night with you I'd have been smart enough not to let you get away afterwards. Like I said Katherine Beckett, you are extraordinary."

Kate wasn't sure what to say to that, so she settled for quickly kissing him again.

"This is getting to be a habit Detective," he told her when she pulled away.

"Isn`t that the idea?" she asked him with a wicked grin. Pleased beyond measure when his eyes widened in surprise, Kate took his hand in hers, "Take me to dinner Rick."

"Of course," he replied as he led her towards the restaurant.


Castle was sure he was still grinning like an idiot when they arrived at the restaurant, but he didn't much care. He knew they were a little late, only about fifteen minutes or so, but Frankie'd be sure to notice.

Sure enough he heard a voice calling his name as soon as he stepped in the door, "Richard Castle!" the older man cried. "I was beginning to worry. For all your flaws, you're almost always punctual when it comes to your meals," he exclaimed.

"Sorry Frank," he apologized with a grin. "We got a little distracted."

At that the older man focussed on Kate for the first time, "Ah. Well, that I can't say I blame you for that Richard," he admitted.

"Kate this is Frankie, he owns the place."

"Very pleased to meet Kate," Frank told her.

"It's nice to meet you as well," Kate agreed. Then she turned to Castle, "You really do know everyone don't you?"

"Pretty much," the writer agreed, laughing when she shook her head.

"Alright, well come on you two, your table's over here," Frank told them. "Your server will be right over to tell you the specials."

"Thanks Frank," Castle told him as they sat down.

"Anytime Rick."

Kate took a moment to look around. This wasn't exactly the type of place she'd expected Castle to take her. For one, it was pretty unobtrusive from the street. And Castle had been telling the truth when he'd said it was small, although cozy was closer to the word she'd have used. The tables were plain wood, the booths were overstuffed and covered in cushions, and the whole place was decorated in warm colours and low lighting. She loved it almost instantly.

Glancing back at Castle, she realized he'd been watching her. He raised an eyebrow, "Well, what do you think?" he asked her.

"It's perfect," she said sincerely. "And I'm sure the food's good."

"Some of the best pasta in all of New York," Castle told her.

"But not the best?" she teased.

"Well, maybe," he admitted, "But there's an awful lot of competition so I don't want to commit myself. They definitely have the best chocolate mousse," he told her, laughing when her eyes widened. "Yeah, I thought you'd like that."

Kate grinned, "Well, I guess it was inevitable that you found out what I like, you do seem to keep feeding me."

"All part of my plan to lure you into my trap," Castle told her candidly.

"Hm." Kate paused, "Well maybe I'll have to return the favour then."

Well that called up all sorts of interesting images of an intimate dinner for two at the Beckett residence. Castle grinned, "Just name the day, and I'll be there with bells on," he told her.

She grinned indulgently, "Well, maybe leave the bells at home. My neighbours might complain."


"I guess we'd better at least open our menus before the waitress gets here," Kate pointed out.

"I guess," Castle agreed. "Although I know pretty much everything that's on there. But you go ahead and look through it."

The waitress did come by shortly to take their order. When she left Kate started up a new topic of conversation, "So, what's everyone at the Castle residence doing this evening?" she asked.

Castle grinned, "Well, Alexis has a date with Owen at the movies, and Martha, well, I'm not sure what Mother's plans are. She was home when I left, though I have no idea if she's planning on staying there. I'm just praying the apartment's in one piece when I get back."

Kate rolled her eyes, "I'm sure your apartment will be fine."

"You say that, but you don't know what Mother's capable of," Castle warned.

"Your mother is a lovely woman," Kate argued.

"Yes, she is," Castle agreed. "But that doesn't mean that she's always a responsible one," he pointed out. "Seriously, one time I got home after she'd been home alone and there were literally lime shards embedded in the ceiling."

Kate giggled, "I'm sure you were able to get them out," she told him.

"That's hardly the point," Castle grumbled.

"Oh poor baby," Kate mocked gently.

Castle grinned at her again, "Speaking of Martha, a friend of hers is staring in a new play this month and he's given us four tickets. She wanted me to invite you to come along if you're free. It's on the 25th."

Kate paused, "Oh, well that's awfully nice of her. Of course I'd be glad to come, if you're sure I'm not intruding."

"Kate..." Castle started to interrupt.

But Kate kept talking. "I know you always say I'm not Castle, but I hardly need to come to all of your family events. Besides, I thought you weren't planning on telling Martha about this yet. Not that I mind, I'm just curious"

Castle sighed; he guessed he'd better just tell her. "Okay, well first of all, I didn't tell Martha where I was going tonight; she guessed. Actually, she and Alexis both guessed. And as for feeling like your intruding at family events, you'd better get over that Kate. One, we wouldn't invite you if we didn't want to, and two," he paused, "Two, my mother and daughter already like you so much that they've been scheming for the better part of the last week to have you around as much as possible."

"What?" Kate exclaimed genuinely shocked.

"You honestly haven't noticed?" Castle asked, continuing when she shook her head. "Oh yes. It seems my family has been playing matchmaker. From Alexis inviting you out to Indian food with us, and then over for taco night, to dropping by the precinct and "accidentally" leaving her phone conveniently on your desk, which she made sure I called later, coincidentally at the exact time that we decide to have sundaes, as suggested by my mother, whose friend also just happened to give her four tickets to a new play. I'm afraid you've been hooked into a scheme."

"I'm not sure how I feel about that," Kate acknowledged with a grin.

"I felt that way at first," Castle admitted. "After all, I was worried that the only reason you were spending time with me was because you happened to like my family."

"They are pretty great," Kate agreed.

"Thanks for that," he told her ruefully. "Then I realized, hey, who cares why you were there? I was still getting exactly what I wanted anyways. What did it matter how it happened? So I decided to go along with their nefarious plots because it suited my own ends," he told her with a grin.

But Kate was still processing what he'd told her, "So you're saying that your family has been effectively plotting to..."

"To throw us together at every turn. Yes," Castle confirmed. "In short my female relatives have decided that you are so vastly superior to any woman I have ever showed any interest in that they couldn't possibly leave things in my incompetent hands. And like I said, since I happen to share their opinion, I didn't see any point in putting a stop to it."

Kate could feel the warmth bubbling up from somewhere near her stomach and radiating through her entire body. "It's really not fair you know," she told him.

"What isn't?" he asked confused.

"You. Your family. You're just so unbelievably charming." Kate sighed, "I never even stood a chance."

"Nope," Castle agreed with a nod.

At that point their server arrived with their food, interrupting their conversation.


After getting over the original awkwardness their conversation flowed naturally for the most part, and dinner seemed to fly by. Soon Kate was toying with the ends of the fettuccini she wasn't sure she'd be able to finish, good as it was. "That was amazing," she told Castle.

"I'm glad you enjoyed it," he told her with a smile. "Did you save room for desert?"

She groaned, "I don't know Castle. I would say no, but I believe you mentioned chocolate mousse?"

"Dark chocolate mousse," he confirmed.

Kate sighed, "I suppose I could be persuaded then."

"Excellent," Castle said with a smile. "They also make a mean cappuccino here," he told her.

"Better than that fancy machine you bought for the station?" she asked with a grin. "And speaking of the station..."

"Ah yes," Castle said with a grin, "The inevitable work discussion."

"Castle!" Kate exclaimed. "I'm serious here. I want to see where this thing goes, but my job is important to me. What I do is important, and I won't let anything get in the way of that."

And you think I'll get in the way of that?" he asked her surprised.

"No," she told him honestly. "Not intentionally, but I think you could."

"I see." And he did. He also realized he needed to tread carefully, but he wasn't about to go making promises he wasn't sure he could keep. "Kate, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this changes nothing when we're working, that we can keep it completely separate. Even if we had the best intentions, I'm not that naive. What I can tell you is that I would never, ever intentionally do anything to prevent you from doing from doing your job effectively. You forget Detective, I've seen you work, I've seen how good at it you are, and I've seen how important what you do is, both to you and the people you help. And I would never knowingly jeopardize that, or ask you to do anything differently. You have my word on that. And I will also do my best not to let this affect how we act when I'm shadowing you."

She always forgot about this side of Castle, the serious side. The side that cared about the victims and was honestly trying to help. She found it unbelievably attractive. Who would have thought that the one person who actually understood her job would be a so-called playboy mystery writer who at first glance behaved like a six-year old? "Thank-you Castle," she told him softly.

"Hey," he told her. "I'm not saying it's going to be perfect. And don't think that just because we're dating I'm going to start obeying your every request," he told her honestly.

"I think I'd be disappointed if you did," Kate admitted wryly. It'd certainly take a lot of the fun out of her day. Maybe some of the frustration as well, but then again, he wouldn't be Castle if he was easy to deal with.

"I always knew you found my roguish charm secretly attractive," he told her.

"You're insufferable you know that?" she asked him exasperatedly. "Look Castle, it's all well and good to say that we won't let this change things, but I still think we have to keep this out of the office as much as possible."

"Technically you don't have an office," he couldn't help pointing out.

"Castle," she said in warning, "I'm serious."

"I know," he admitted. "So no groping you at the precinct huh? Well that's a bit of a disappointment, not to mention a fantasy-killer. But, I suppose I can try and keep my hands off of you while you're on the job Detective, however difficult you might make it."

"Thank-you," she said with a smile.

"You're welcome." Castle replied. "Although I would like to point out that of the two of us, I believe you were the one who practically attacked me in one of the observation rooms," he told her teasingly, grinning when she blushed and let her head drop to her hands. "My virtue never stood a chance," he added.

Kate looked up in shock, "Your virtue? Oh you've got to be kidding me Castle. And I didn't hear you complaining at the time."

"Are you crazy? A beautiful woman decides she wants to passionately kiss me, who am I to argue? Feel free to do it as often as you like, I promise you'll never hear me complain. I was just pointing out that you might be the one we have to worry about here, not me."

Luckily Kate was spared from answering by the arrival of their waitress asking if they wanted desert.

The couple lingered over their coffee and desert, and Kate had to admit the chocolate mousse had certainly been well worth feeling slightly over-full. But the pair couldn't linger forever, and eventually Castle paid the bill, helped Kate with her coat, and the couple left the restaurant.

"You want to go for a walk?" Castle asked suddenly.

"What, now?" Kate asked surprised.

"Well, yes," he told her. "Or we could go grab a drink. I know a nice place not far from here. They usually have live music."

Kate paused and looked at him, her smile widening she tilted her head to the side and waited for him to continue.

Castle let out a breath of exasperation as he realized she wasn't going to make things easy. "Alright, so I'm unwilling to give up the pleasure of your company just yet Detective. Sue me."

Kate ducked her head briefly and took his hand, smiling when he looked surprised. "Nah, how about we just go get that drink instead," she suggested. His answering smile told her everything she needed to know.


A short time later the couple were settled at a table in a little jazz bar not far from the restaurant listening to a band playing something vaguely bluesy in the background. This time Kate broke the silence first, "You like blues?" she asked him.

"I do." Castle confirmed with a nod. "There's something about it. You?"

"Yeah, when I'm in the right mood," Kate confirmed.

"And what mood would that be?" he asked with a knowing smile.

Kate picked up her drink and took a sip before answering, "What do you think Castle?"

His smile warmed, "Oh, I think I could come up with a few suggestions," he told her, brushing a stray hair out of her face. "If you wanted me to of course."

She smiled back, "Why Rick Castle, are you trying to seduce me?" she asked him playfully.

"Always," he told her candidly.

Kate finished her drink, "In that case, wanna dance?" she asked him.

"Absolutely," he told her as he led her over to the dance floor.

Several songs later the couple was still on the dance floor swaying softly with each other. "You're not a bad dancer Detective," Castle whispered in her ear. "Any other talents I should know about?"

She smiled softly. "I guess you'll just have to wait and see," she told him.

"I guess so," he murmured, as he tightened his hold on her.

Kate sighed happily. She could get used to this. A handsome man paying her compliments, taking her out to dinner, dancing with her, teasing her. She let herself snuggle further into his arms. So he drove her up the wall sometimes, at least he wasn't boring. And while the playboy author image wasn't exactly ideal, he did have a fabulous family to make up for it. "So how much flak are you expecting from Martha and Alexis?" she asked him suddenly.

"Hard to say," he told her. "Why? You're not worried are you? You needn't be."

"No, not really," she admitted. "I told you, I like your family."

"I know," Castle said with a smile. "I'm glad. And they like you. They might tease for a while, but it'll wear off eventually. Don't worry about me, I can take it."

"It's nice that you're so close," she murmured. She wondered if he realized how attractive watching him with his daughter was. If he did, he certainly hadn't used it to his advantage, she thought to herself. Well, except to use her affection for his family to spend time with her. Although from the sounds of it, they'd had as much to do with it as he had. Suddenly she froze; he didn't think... he couldn't... I mean, she'd never actually denied...

Castle noticed when Kate stiffened, "Something wrong?" he asked her.

She pulled back slightly. "No," she told him. "Well, yes... maybe... no, not really... it's just..." she trailed off.

"Kate?" he asked concerned.

She let out a breath, knowing she was being an idiot. But then again, she'd never been particularly good at this. "You know that your family isn't your only attraction right?" she asked him, faltering when his smile widened. "I mean, I just wanted you to know that... I know you were just joking before, but I didn't want you to think that... God I'm terrible at this," she muttered.

Castle was grinning now, "I think you're better than you think," he told her as he kissed her.

She pulled away first, looking at him pleadingly and willing him to understand. "It's just, I wanted to tell you that I... I want..."

But he cut her off, "I know Detective," he whispered. "Believe me, I know," he told her.

"Okay," she replied, before kissing him again.

"Are you done freaking out now?" he asked her.

"Hard to say," she told him with a grin. "I do like the established method of solving that particular problem."

He grinned in return before pulling her into another kiss.


It was several hours (and several dances) later when Castle finally walked Kate back to her apartment door. "Well thank you for a lovely time Castle," she told him.

"You're very welcome Kate," he told her with a grin. "We should do it again sometime."

She smiled back, "Absolutely."

"What are you doing Saturday?" he asked.

"Nothing I don't think. Why?"

"I thought we could take that walk in the park," Castle offered with a smile.

"I'd like that," Kate told him.

"Alright," he told her. "Well, I guess I should say goodnight then."

"I guess so," she agreed.

He leaned in and kissed her. He didn't think he'd ever get sick of this. "Goodnight Kate," he murmured to her.

"Goodnight Castle," she replied before kissing him again.

She'd meant it to be a relatively short kiss, but apparently her body had other ideas. She felt him ease her up against her front door, and wondered idly if she should ask him in for another drink. Part of her didn't think it was such a great idea. After all, they didn't want to move too fast and screw everything up. But another part of her, well... She sighed, and pulled away.

"Rick," she whispered.

"I know, Kate," he told her. "And believe me, if it weren't for the fact that we had what may have been some of the most awkward 20 minutes of my life in the taxi earlier this evening because we were afraid we were moving too quickly. Well..."

"Yeah," she told him. "Pretty much."

"So I should go," Castle concluded.

"You should," she agreed.

"The fact that your arms are still around my neck makes that difficult," he told her.

"I would point out that your arms are still wrapped firmly around my waist," she countered.

He grinned. "Huh. So they are."

She laughed and kissed him again.

"Alright, well that definitely isn't making this easier," Castle told her.

"Who said life was supposed to be easy?" she asked him. But she did reluctantly remove her arms from around his neck. He stepped away from her and allowed her to open her front door.

"Well, I guess I'll see you on Saturday Detective," he told her. "Unless there's a murder of course."

"Of course," she agreed with a laugh. "Night Castle."

"Night," and with that, he did let her leave, watching as she shut the door before turning and heading back to the elevator.

Kate leaned against the other side of the door, unable to contain her grin when her eyes landed on the vase of tulips still sitting on her counter.


Castle strolled into his apartment, fully expecting everyone to have gone to bed long ago.

"I see it went well," a voice said from the kitchen.

"Jesus mother!" he cried. "That's twice in one day. I thought you'd be asleep," he told her in an attempt to deflect the conversation.

"Well, obviously that's not the case," she replied. "I was having trouble sleeping so I came down for a drink of water," she told him, gesturing to her glass. "And you don't have to say anything," she added. "You've been gone for literally hours. Alexis went to bed long ago. And you certainly don't look like you've spent a significant chunk of that time drowning your sorrows in alcohol. Add that to the look on your face, and well..." Martha trailed off knowingly.

"Goodnight Mother," he told her as he kissed her on the cheek, more amused than irritated by her perception.

"Goodnight Richard," she replied. "Sweet dreams." Not that Martha expected that to be a problem given her son's mood.

Castle sighed, and paused on the stairs. "Kate said she was free on the 25th."

Martha grinned, "Lovely," she told him, as she took a drink of water.


Alexis Castle wandered downstairs the next morning to the smells of breakfast cooking.

"Dad?" she asked tentatively.

"Morning pumpkin!" he greeted her exuberantly. "You're up. Good. I made breakfast. Chocolate chip pancakes!" he told her with a grin as he handed her a plate.

"Thanks Dad," she said with a smile. "You're in a good mood this morning."

Martha walked up behind her. "You think this is bad? You should have seen him last night. He practically floated in the door looking like he'd won the lottery. It was almost sickening," the older woman told her granddaughter.

Alexis laughed. "Did he? Now what on earth could have caused that?" she asked innocently.

"I haven't the faintest idea," Martha remarked sarcastically.

"And after you tried to deny that you were going on a date last night," Alexis scolded as Martha scoffed.

"I didn't try and deny it," Castle defended himself as he ate his pancakes. "I just didn't confirm it either."

"Of course," Alexis said with a sigh, while Martha grinned. "Seriously though Dad, I'm happy for you."

"Thanks pumpkin," he told his daughter. "I'm happy too. And Kate asked me to tell you, the next time you want to talk to her, just give her a call. It'll be easier all around," he said with a grin.

Alexis grinned back, "I can do that," she told him.


Ryan and Esposito were surreptitiously watching their female colleague for the second time that week. "I'm telling you man, this is just weird," Esposito whispered.

"I know," Ryan agreed.

"She's wished everybody at the station a good morning, and even told Cranky Carter down at security desk to have a nice day. And she meant it," Esposito explained.

"Forget that," Ryan told the other man. "When I bumped into her at the espresso machine, almost spilling her coffee all over her, I might add, she just smiled and told me it wasn't a big deal. She didn't even make fun of me man. Not even a single crack. Plus she's humming. And she's been doing it for at least a half an hour now."

"That's it," Esposito said as he shook his head. "I'm getting to the bottom of this." He picked up his phone and dialled, waiting for the other person to pick up.

"You've reached the morgue, Dr. Lanie Parish speaking," he heard on the other end of the line.

"She's humming," Esposito told the other woman without preamble.

"What?" Lanie asked confused. "Who is this? This better not be some idiotic prank. Who's humming?"

"It's Esposito," the Detective explained. "And I'm talking about Beckett. She's humming. Has been all morning. Ryan and I were getting concerned."

"You mean you're getting creeped out," Lanie corrected.

"Maybe," Esposito admitted. "You have any idea what's going on?"

Lanie grinned, Kate had better not have any lunch plans, because from the sounds of things the two women needed to talk, and fast. Turning her attention back to the conversation at hand she replied, "I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I have an idea," Lanie told the confused Detective. "And I think you boys owe me $50," she told Esposito.

"Yeah, we know that already actually. We realized yesterday," Esposito admitted. "But what does Castle being in love with her have to do with..." he paused, considering. "Oh. Oh. You're joking," he said, his face breaking out into a smile.

"Do I sound like I'm kidding?" Lanie asked him. "Now if that's all Detective, I have a corpse to get back to."

"No, no that's everything Dr. Parish," Esposito told her. "Thank you as always."

"You have a nice day now," Lanie told him with a grin, before hanging up.

Esposito turned to his partner with a smile.

Ryan had already figured out most of the conversation from the half he had heard. "Not really?" he asked.

"Lanie seems to think so," Esposito told him with a shrug.

"Oh, this is going to be fun." Ryan told him with a grin. "Come on."

Together the guys walked over to Beckett's desk, where she was working on paperwork. "You guys need anything?" she asked them with a smile.

"Nah," Esposito told her. "We just thought we'd drop by and say hi."

"Okay," Beckett said, leaning back in her chair. "Hi. How's it going?"

"Pretty good," Ryan told her. "You seem like you're in a good mood today."

"I guess I am," Beckettt admitted.

"No Castle today?" Ryan asked innocently.

Beckett's eyes narrowed slightly. "No," she told him. "No case," she told the other man slowly.

"Yeah, I know." Esposito said agreeably, "But sometimes he drops by anyways."

"Well, I haven't seen him," Beckett said with a shrug. "But if you're desperate for his company I'm sure you could give him a call..." she told the pair with a grin.

"Somehow I don't think it's our company he's after," Ryan muttered under his breath.

"What was that?" Beckett asked.

"Nothing," the other man told him.

"Okay," Beckett told them as she got up from her desk. "Well, if there's nothing else I'm going to go file these reports," she told her colleagues as she turned to walk away.

Esposito called her back, "Hey Beckett?"

She turned, "Yeah?"

The other man smiled, "We're happy for you."

Beckett froze, "What?" she said as she tried to control her blush.

Ryan grinned, "You're happy. We're happy for you. That's it."

"Oh," Esposito added, "And so you know, that offer to kick his ass still stands if you ever need it."

Kate sighed and nodded, "Thanks," she told them as she walked away.

Ryan and Esposito watched her go.

"Well, I never thought I'd see that." Esposito remarked.

"Hell no," Ryan agreed. "I have a feeling things are going to get interesting around here."

Esposito just nodded.


Captain Montgomery was in the middle of the latest budget report when he heard a knock on his door. "Come in!" he called.

"Good morning sir," Beckett said as she opened the door. "I'm sorry to disturb you, but I wanted to give you a copy of my report on the Morrows case," she told him.

The Captain looked up, "Yeah, thanks Beckett," he told her. "That was some case."

"Yes it was," she agreed easily.

"You okay?" he asked her. "You seemed pretty upset yesterday."

"Well," she told him, "I admit I felt badly for our victim's fiancée, still do. But I'm trying to move on."

"Good," her boss told her. "We all need to find some balance in life doing this job."

"Yes we do," Beckett agreed softly.

"See you later Beckett," he told her. "And thanks for this," he added waving the report in the air.

"Of course," she told him. "I'll see you later."

He watched her as she strolled out of his office, a secret smile on her face. He couldn't help smiling himself. It seems things were changing in his department. He certainly never would have seen this coming on the day that she first escorted Richard Castle into the interrogation room. In fact, if anyone had suggested it he would have laughed them out of his office. Still, he figured stranger things had happened.

Captain Montgomery grinned to himself before picking up his phone. Judge Markway was never going to believe this.


The End