Disclaimer: I own nothing, and only borrowed these characters for a little while.

"I always knew you were only on loan," shrugged Demming as he brushed a stray hair from Kate's cheek. "I was just lucky to have you as long as I did."

"Tom..." began Kate as she struggled to explain.

"It's okay," interrupted the detective with a smile that almost masked his pain. "I get it."

Beckett crossed her arms over her chest. "Thanks Tom." She held his gaze as he waved off the compliment. "I mean it," she stressed.

Tom slung his overcoat over his shoulder and walked away. Almost clear of the room, he turned back. Kate's head flew around to him once more when he suddenly spoke. "Tell Castle if he hurts you, I'll hunt him down."

The female detective looked ready to object and dispute his conclusion, then thought the better of it. "I will," she replied wryly, thrusting her hands in her back pocket as she smiled softly.

As the good man walked out of her life, Detective Kate Beckett took in a deep breath and headed for the party.