Disclaimer: Castle is owned by Andrew W. Marlowe and all the grand high mucky mucks of ABC. No copyright infringement is intended and no money was made from this of course. Any similarity to any other story not my own is coincidence.

Title: Since You've Been Around
Genre: Castle, hints of Richard/Kate
Rating: PG, rated for general concepts, mild language
Timeline: Immediately after "Kill the Messenger"
Author's Notes: Okay... so there was this drabble meme and in an epic moment of fail I never got a real chance to do it. But... I did come up with this real quick like from the prompt to do a Castle drabble. Of course, it's not really a drabble, and it isn't about Rick's Mal costume, but...

As for the "name" of one of Richard's books, it's not canon, but it fit the story.

Oh, and the title is taken from the Rosie Thomas song.


"Not yet... not yet... not yet..."

The damn phrase, pitched to perfection in her mind, kept repeating itself over and over in her thoughts. Kate practically growled in frustration.

"What the hell did he mean, not yet," she muttered. "Not yet?"

She hadn't had time to really consider his words, not when they had been hip deep in the case, but now...

"Not yet... not yet... not yet..."

The rhythm of the words fell into the echoes of her boots as she walked quickly toward Castle's door.

"Does he honestly think..." she muttered. "I mean, it's not like I've ever given him any reason to..."

Of course, she had thought about... well of course she had; she wasn't blind after all. And as much as he got under her skin, there were times... well, suffice it to say that there were times. But really, not yet, like it was somehow a foregone conclusion; like it was something straight out of his novels; like she really was Nikki Heat and he...

She suddenly stopped in her tracks as a particularly memorable passage from his last book forced its way to the forefront of her thoughts. Then just as suddenly, she shook her head to clear it and took back up her rapid pace.

"I will not be a foregone conclusion," she declared under her breath.

Kate was so focused on her own thoughts that she found herself almost surprised when she was suddenly in front of his door, her hand rapping sharply on the cool surface.

"Detective Beckett," Richard offered in greeting as he opened the door. "Perfect timing. I need a second opinion."

He was already walking back in the direction of his kitchen before Kate could say anything. She sighed instead, and followed him in, shutting the door behind herself.

"Castle..."

"Here," he said as she stood on the other side of the kitchen counter. "Try this."

Kate blinked and saw a that Richard was holding a wooden spoon out in her direction, his hand cupped beneath it. Inside, was a small bit of what she could only guess was some sort of gourmet macaroni and cheese.

"Castle..."

"Come on, Beckett. I'm not trying to poison you or anything. I mean, if I were going to do that, I certainly wouldn't try using mac & cheese to do it."

She raised an eyebrow even as the writer gave her a cheeky sort of smile.

"Book four, The Poison Pen..." he offered without going into further detail. "Come on, Beckett, just take a bite and tell me what you think," he cajoled her, wagging the spoon a little.

Quickly, Kate tasted the pasta, trying to ignore the way Castle watched her intently.

"Well?"

"It's pretty good," she admitted.

"Just good?"

"Yeah well, pretty good," Kate repeated. "What's the big deal, Castle?" She asked when she saw Richard's mildly disappointed look.

"It needs to be better than just good," he said quietly.

Kate raised a familiar questioning eyebrow.

"Alexis had her audition for first chair today. Which means that which ever way it went, we're going to need the favorites; mac & cheese, garlic breadsticks, mushroom pesto soup, and flan," he explained simply.

"I'm sure she'll love it, Castle," Beckett felt moved to say. "Really."

Richard nodded almost absently, and turned back to the stove. Kate watched silently for a moment, studying the man, and unexpectedly realizing that there was still a lot that she didn't know about him.

"I didn't know you could cook, Castle," she ventured impulsively.

"Well, Detective Beckett," Richard said with a smile as he turned back to her, holding out yet another spoon. "That's because I am quite the man of mystery," he teased, clearly pleased with himself.

Kate couldn't stop herself from rolling her eyes, even though she was more than certain that it would only encourage him further.

"And admit it Beckett, it makes it more fun that way," Richard added, daring to give Kate a quick wink and a smile.

The detective felt her lips turning up in small smile in response before she could quite stop them.

"Now taste," Richard coaxed her, holding out the wooden spoon of creamy soup.

"Castle..."

"Beckett..." he echoed in a soft drawl, giving her a charming smile.

She sighed before relenting and sipping carefully at the hot bowl of the spoon.

"Well?"

Kate made a show of considering the question, peaking her tongue out just a bit to lick the lingering traces of soup from her upper lip, but otherwise giving the writer no reply. She was startled to realize that Richard was watching her very intently. Then suddenly, he smiled and reached out a quick hand to brush his thumb gently over her bottom lip.

"Missed a bit," he explained at her surprised look, but before she could make any further response, the apartment door suddenly flew open and Richard's excited teenage daughter came bursting through it.

"I got it! I got it!"

She was practically dancing as she bounced over to her father and was swept up in an engulfing hug.

"Congratulations, Kiddo!"

Alexis spotted all the food at the same time she was greeting Detective Beckett.

"Just how many were you planning on feeding, Dad?" She asked with a smile as she stole a small bite of the macaroni and cheese and made an appreciative sound.

"Well..." he said with a tiny shrug.

Alexis gave him a fond, knowing look and rose up on tiptoe to give him a quick peck on the cheek.

"Thanks dad."

He returned the quite gesture with a light kiss to the top of his daughter's head.

"But..." Alexis drawled, turning to Kate.

"Oh, I'm not here for a case," Beckett assured the young girl, finally recovering from the unexpected tingle she still felt from the memory of Richard's brief caress.

Alexis smiled.

"Well then, you should stay for dinner," she suggested with an easy charm that made it more than apparent to Beckett that she had gotten the knack from her father.

"Oh, I couldn't..." Kate said, glancing at Richard.

"More than enough," he replied casually. "And I am a pretty good cook, you said so yourself," he added with another one of his easy smiles. "You should stay."

"I never..."

Richard gave her an even brighter and more charming smile that prompted Kate to shake her head slowly. Alexis added her own light grin and the detective sighed a little.

"Okay, Castle, why not," she relented, sitting down at one of the stools lining the outside edge of the counter.

She watched as Alexis and her father bustled about the kitchen, serving up plates full of food, and began wondering how exactly she had ended up in this situation. Which of course, only provoked the question of what exactly this situation was. Because suddenly, watching Castle with his daughter, seeing something besides the cocky writer persona, made the prospect of not yet seem... almost possible.

"What?" She asked, abruptly realizing that Castle had been talking to her.

"Not that I'm not pleased to see you, but I was asking, if you're not here about a case, then why are you here, Beckett?"

Kate could feel the sudden flush creep slowly up her cheeks and found herself desperately hoping that Castle didn't notice. She shook her head, trying to think of something to say and uncharacteristically finding herself at a loss for words.

"Nothing that can't wait," she replied as quickly as she could.

Richard studied her face a moment, and Kate gave his scrutiny as serene a look as she could in return.

"Okay," he replied slowly. "Well...then..."

The writer brushed his hands off quickly and walked around the counter. He offered his hand to Kate with a smile. She eyed it carefully, then accepted his assistance off of the stool, expecting him to release her hand after she had done so. When he didn't, she raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Whenever you're ready," he offered, holding her hand just a moment longer than was strictly necessary, his thumb brushing a few casual caresses into her skin.

Kate found herself nodding slightly before she slowly slipped her hand free. Richard smiled a little and turned to lead the way to the dining room.

"Not yet..." she murmured under her breath and followed. "But maybe... someday," she added quietly to herself, surprised, but not quite as upset by the thought as when she had first arrived. "Not yet..."


Fin (in others words... it is what it is... *grin*)