DISCLAIMER: Nope. Negotiations were in place for some paper clips from Beckett's desk...but my budget doesn't stretch to those, either.

Kate Beckett had a problem.

For the first time ever she was semi-seriously considering going all the way on a first date. Personally, she blamed Castle.

The man had shown up on the dot of seven, kissed her hand, complimented her dress, flustered her by brushing a lock of hair out of her face...and then had practically shoved her out the door, saying something about reservations.

She been irritated with herself for blushing when he'd touched her, then with him for making her blush, and then for making her hurry when she already felt panicky and unsure. So she'd locked her door, and stepped into his personal space.

"What, Castle, no hello?"

She'd found herself backed up against her door while he'd played with her; kissing her until she was arched against him and making noises there was no way she'd admit to making under interrogation. He took her to the point where she didn't care what noises either of them made as long as he kept touching her, and when she'd finally reached for his tie he'd eased them back down to slow and easy, teasing kisses along her jaw line. He'd murmured in her ear a hoarse hello and then something about being late for dinner.

She was just grateful he hadn't mentioned that her first steps after him had been unsteady, enough for him to casually place an arm around her waist, and the heat on her face hadn't died down until they'd almost reached the restaurant. They didn't talk; from the stunned, whacked-upside-the-head look on his face he'd had for most of the drive she figured he had his own problems.

So now she was seriously considering jumping her partner in the restaurant bathroom, which was disturbing firstly because this particular restaurant's bathroom was not built for multi-purpose use, and she still wasn't too worried. But mostly she was disturbed because she didn't normally consider jumping anyone where other people might figure out that she was...jumping.

Then again, she mused, 'normal' was definitely not sitting in front of her bitching about the breadsticks.

"I mean, it's not so much a breadstick, is it? False advertising. This-" Castle held up half of the stick he'd been systematically shredding for the last fifteen minutes. "-Is a twig. It's a stunted, growth retarded breadtwig."

She regarded him. "Are you finished?"

He held up a hand. "Not quite. This is the midget of breadsticks. It's a...bwarf."

She raised a brow. "A bwarf?"

He had that look he got when he presented her with one of his insights on a case. Pride, with a hint of look, no hands, Beckett! She shook her head, allowed the grin to slip on to her face as she watched him take a sip of wine.

"And to think, I was going to jump you in the women's bathroom."

Castle choked on his wine. She allowed her smile to turn wicked as she leant forward. "I think the bwarves may have killed the dream a little." She shrugged, watched him struggling to compose himself with no small amount of pride of her own. "Can't win 'em all, Castle."

He straightened his tie, then toasted her with what was left of his wine, smiling ruefully. "Can you tell I'm nervous?"

She smiled back. "Only if I squint."

He shook his head. "I'm trying to sweep you off your feet and I feel like a twelve year old on his first date. I shove you out the door, act like some sort of horny teenager outside your door and then entertain you with miniscule baked goods. My mojo is like, totally gone."

She watched him, arched a brow. "It's just me, Castle. And you weren't...entirely to blame for the hallway incident. The baked goods-that's on you."

Castle gave her a grateful half-smile. "Thank you. And no, it's not just you. It's you and me, and the fact that we're actually doing this is so remarkable that I feel like I'm...watching for eggshells. Am I making sense?"

She nodded, relieved he'd said it. She'd managed to find a tentative balance between the way she felt when he was pissing her off and the way she felt when he was being insightful, or kind, or completely insufferable. She'd even managed to keep an even keel when he tried to be charming. But now, given his current preoccupation with curling her toes in her boots...it was proving to be a challenge.

"I know what you mean. And trust me; I changed outfits three times tonight before you showed up, and you really, really do not want to know how long I spent picking out underwear Donald Trump has more chance of seeing than you tonight."

Castle raised a brow. "You're cheating on me with Donald Trump?"

She just raised a brow back and he grinned at her, his eyes warming. "Alright, but it doesn't seem right to let all that effort go to waste."

She shrugged, ignored the butterflies in her stomach as they flexed their wings. "Trust me, Castle, when it's time you'll know it." She grinned at him. "But I might let you get to second base tonight."

Castle cocked his head at her. "Not that the mental image of that isn't sufficiently distracting, but what's with you tonight?" He gestured in her direction. "I thought I'd be the one talking you down, but clearly I'm the damsel in distress here."

She nodded, kept her face sober. "You are the damsel in distress here, aren't you? Well, I guess I figure...why break tradition?"

Castle leant over and tugged her hair, and she batted his hand away, laughing. "Okay! Okay." She nodded at him, sipped her wine thoughtfully. "It is you and me. And that's scary as hell, and weird and strange and...wonderful all at once. And I thought about it this morning with every intention of telling you today I was moving to Canada."

Castle smirked at her. "To herd moose? Or is it meece?"

She glared at him, then gave in and laughed. "Shut up."

He reached over and took her hand, squeezed gently. "I'm glad you didn't move to Canada. To herd moose or otherwise."

She squeezed back. "This thing we're doing, Castle? It's fractions of the same whole." She shrugged, looked him in the eye. "So I'm here."

"Yes, you are." Castle leant back in his chair and watched her, and she knew he was doing that thing he did where he looked under her skin and read her from the inside.

She moved a shoulder, suddenly nervous. "What?"

He just smiled. "You know, suddenly I find myself very keen to walk under the stars with you, Detective."

She shook her head, confused. "Is that a euphemism?"

"Not unless they've started doing some really kinky things in Central Park at 8 'o clock at night."

She rolled her eyes. "Please. You show me one romantic hand-holding couple, I'll show you a plastic-wrapped menage-a-trois in drag."

He glared at her. "Thank you, moment ruiner."

She glared back. "You're welcome!"

They both huffed and stared holes in the table until she noticed Castle's shoulders shaking.

"What, it's funny we can't go thirty seconds without you being a pain in the ass?"

He laughed out loud. "Yes! Don't you see, Beckett? That's us. We're each other's pain in the ass."

She nodded, refused to smile. "Can I get a refund?"

He eyed her, leant forward so he was hovering just in front of her face. "No. You know why?"

She stared back, fighting to be impassive. "Why, Castle?"

"Because You. Want. Me." He dropped a quick kiss on her lips, sank back, grinning at her. "In fact, I heard a rumour earlier someone was planning to use her police badge to close a bathroom facility purely so she could have her way with me." He waggled his brows at her.

She broke, laughed. "I didn't put it quite like that."

He waved a hand. "Details."

She made a decision, stood up.

He eyed her hopefully. "Are we going to the bathroom?"

She glared at him menacingly and he shrank a little. "No, Castle, but whether I let you drag me to Central Park depends on your next answer so I'd consider it carefully."

He just smirked at her. "Was it Professor Plum in the library with the wrench?"

She stared at him. "I can't take you anywhere."

He nodded. "Mostly not. Second chance?"

She held up a finger, hiding the sudden nerves in the pit of her stomach. "One." He straightened, looking worried and watched her with those writer's eyes.

"Are you here, Castle?" She watched him, fiddled with the pleating on the back of her chair. "I just...I'm here, and I need to know before we keep doing whatever the hell we're doing- are you here, too?"

Castle stood up, came around the table to cover her hands with both of his. "From the first day. And even when I wasn't here in person...there's a place, right about here," He placed a gentle hand over her heart. "This is where you are for me, all the time. I guess..." He watched her, seemed to come to a decision. "I guess I just figure I'll be here until the end. "

She just stared at him, trying to get words past the lump in her throat..

He smiled, shrugged a little. "I mean, it's always the best part, right?"

She cleared her throat, nodded at him. "Right."

He watched her for a minute, then offered his arm, bowing. "Shall we, my lady?"

She cocked her head at him, then stretched up to kiss him, smiling against his mouth as his stomach tightened under her hand. She stepped back and then took his hand, lacing his fingers through her own, smiling as she saw surprise and pleasure mingle in his gaze.

She tugged him towards the door. "You know what, Castle? I think we shall."


I think we'll leave them to their own possibilities on the other side of that door now. I had SUCH a blast writing this and hope to do more Castle stories as inspiration strikes, as long as a few people will read them!

I want to say again THANK YOU for the amazing amount of reviews and the amazing amount of people reading this- that you all took the time to do one or both is such a source of pleasure for me so merci beaucoup a helluva lot. I read every single one and I greatly appreciate the feedback on what everyone thinks of this. Hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing!

xx Kickstergal