When he finally shows at the precinct the next day, it's mid-morning and there's an ebb in the traffic in the precinct, a momentary lull of relative quiet. Esposito and Ryan are out tracking down a victim's next of kin, and Beckett's sitting at her desk typing in few quick notes. He slides into his spot, and for once doesn't start talking. Instead, he watches her like he's done a thousand times before.

She flicks a glance at him. "Castle, it's still creepy."

"Kaa-ate," he singsongs back. "It's still fun. And I still like looking at you. And we still have a date on Friday, right?"

She reaches out with nimble fingers to grip his ear until he mouths "apples, apples" at her. "Right…And we also still have something called a professional relationship." She rises from the chair and snares her purse. "Come on, Castle, got a call about a homicide. And no…you can't drive." She turns away and walks towards the elevators while he scrambles to follow her. He really loves the way she walks.

To ease the blow, she sends him a smoky look as she stands innocuously next to him on the elevator as it descends, and adds in a teasing undertone. "And if you don't piss me off too much, you might find out what I'm wearing under this trench coat, Rick."

He brightens, and quips, "As long as it's not what you had underneath the first time you came to my Halloween party."

Lanie calls Esposito up, catching him while he's driving back to the precinct. "You owe me a twenty. Castle and Beckett have their date this Friday night."

He groans, though he can't be too mad given what he lost the money on. He's grinning as he turns to Ryan as they're stopped at a light in Manhattan's mid-town. "They finally have a real date. Montgomery is going to be pissed – he was thinking there was no way anything's starting until at least Christmas."

The car is quiet for a moment before Ryan muses, "What do you think they're doing for a first date? Think Castle's going all out with the fancy dinner?"

Esposito considers it. "Nah, too overdone. It's probably what he does with other women. If I were him, I'd do something different, switch it up a little. I could see Castle ordering in and getting all smooth with the candles and music."

"On a first date? I don't think so!"

"Bet you."

"You're on!"

Castle and Beckett arrive at a crime scene. While Beckett talks to the owner of the goth club, Castle wanders over to where Lanie is taking notes beside the victim. The vic's body is splayed on the floor, a pool of blood congealing with sparkly motes all through it as though a murdering pixie went on a glitter-rampage all over the scene of the crime.

"Do you think this is the work of the sparkly Twilight vampires?", Castle asks irreverently, hunkering down and leaning in next to Lanie.

She gestures as though indicating something about the corpse, tiling her head closer to his to whisper in an undertone, "Just so you know, if you do anything too stupid to my girl, I know exactly what to write up in your autopsy report." She sends him a sassy smile and goes back to taking notes.

When they get back to the precinct, Castle notices how tired Beckett looks and rises to get a cup of coffee. As he's heading to the break room, Ryan and Esposito catch him on his way in and frog march him down to the locker room. Esposito says in a low, jovial tone, "Yo, we hear you have a date with Beckett."

Ryan continues, "We're happy if she's happy, but if you're the one that makes her unhappy – like more unhappy than the time you dug into her mother's case…"

Esposito chimes in with, "...or more annoyed than the time you filched her case files and she arrested you…"

They slowly start to back Castle against the lockers.

Ryan adds, "…more pissed off than the time you were Bachelor Number 9 with Beckett's name linked to yours in the Times…"

Esposito grins at Ryan, sharing the memory, before coming up with, "…more unhappy than the time you set up the date with the prostitute…" (Ryan adds, "That was sweet, bro. We loved it.")

"…or the time your cell phone went off in the middle of a bust and it was Deep Fried Twinkie calling…"

Ryan breaks in with, "…and what about that time he was drooling over Agent Shaw's equipment?"

Esposito sends Ryan a perturbed look. "Man, stop finishing my sentences!"

Castle breaks into their banter before they remind him of everything he's ever done to make Beckett less than happy with, "Guys, I get the picture. Your point?"

They both lean in close to him, breathing in his face, and Esposito ends with,"The point is…if you make her unhappy, we'll know. And you will not be a happy man after the entire precinct is through with you...Kitten."

Ryan's smirk is painfully smug. "But hey, good luck!"

They both abruptly grin, high-five each other, slap Castle on the back, and start heading out of the locker room, leaving Castle trotting after them in their wake.

As they return to bull pen, Beckett watches them with an air of suspicion. "Just what were you guys up to?"

"Nothing much," Ryan replies smoothly, as Esposito chimes in right after with, "Just teaching Castle some new defense moves down at the gym."

She clearly doesn't believe them, giving them a long look with slightly narrowed eyes before turning back to her computer to continue typing in some case notes. Castle backpedals rapidly towards the break room, glancing over his shoulder at the duo.

The moment her back is turned again, Esposito and Ryan mime eyes-watching-you gestures to Castle with mock menace.

At the end of the day, as Castle's about to leave, Montgomery calls Castle into his office. "Hey, Castle. Looking forward to poker Wednesday night. Appreciate that you finally got the balls to ask Beckett out. I got a pretty penny off the Mayor. He was pretty sure you'd be back in her good graces after Ying-Ying showed up, but I thought it'd take awhile longer." Montgomery fixes Castle with a stern look. "Just so you know though…all bets are off if you - "

Castle spreads his hands, his best innocent look plastered on his face as he interrupts defensively, "I got the point! I got the point!"

When he gets home, Martha's over at the house sipping a cocktail and Alexis is practicing her violin in the living room. "Hey, kiddo, how was your day?"

He heads straight to the fridge for a beer. "Hi Mother." He uncaps the beer and takes a long swig before turning to her. "I've been threatened before, but... never by an entire police department. That's new."

As a writer, he had a great memory. She'd said no the first time he asked her to dinner, not wanting to be another notch on his bedpost – though he was more than happy at the time to be a notch on hers. As he eagerly anticipated their first date, he wasn't thinking of trying to be a notch (though he'd lose his man-card if the fantasy hadn't crossed his mind several thousand times over the past couple of years). He just really wanted her to have a good time.

As a detective, she had a great memory. She'd said no the first time he asked her to dinner, not wanting to be another notch on his bedpost - though sometimes when she woke up in the middle of the night alone, she wondered if even a notch didn't have some perks. She still didn't want to be a notch, but this time she was pretty darned sure she wouldn't be – and that made all the difference.

He remembers the moment he absolutely, without a doubt, knew after he met her that he wasn't willing to let her just walk away. It wasn't when she hauled him in for questioning at the launch party of his last Storm novel. (He'd been intrigued at the time .) It wasn't when she arrested him in the New York Public Library. (Actually, he thought that was kind of hot.) It wasn't when she'd handcuffed him to her car. (That was just plain annoying, because he'd really wanted to follow her.)

It was when he suggested to her they might have been good together and she'd walked over to him and whispered into his ear, "You have no idea."

He was really looking forward to finding out.

Author's Note: I went for a lighter mood for the ending. Hope you've enjoyed!

This has been a pretty stressful week from a work perspective, and it's been a huge surprise to me that writing fanfic for the first time in my life ended up being a bit of an escape and stress relief. The bit with Esposito and Ryan with Castle in the locker room is expanded due to the reviews of Oasis Blackmore. It's been a huge added bonus to get thoughtful encouragement from strangers - really want to thank Kavi Leighanna again for setting off this whole journey, my sister, and really all the awesome reviewers. (I started going back and listing y'all by name, but ran into the really lovely problem of it being a long list.) Consider this a bow of gratitude because I really don't think it would've progressed beyond the one-shot drabbles I initially intended. And just for y'all, I actually have their first two dates outlined so expect them up in the next few days as a new fic.