Of Bars and Secrets

It had been a particularly stressful week and she had been dealing with a particularly difficult case. When she walked into "The Old Haunt" that night, her only intention was to have a drink and relax a little before going home. To be honest, she had wanted to go home straight after she left the precinct, but her boys had convinced her to go and unwind for a little while at what was now their hang out place.

She hadn't seen Castle in over a week as he had been away for a book tour in the west coast. She would deny even under torture if someone had asked her, but – at least to herself – she admitted that she missed him. Going to work wasn't as fun and fulfilling without him there to press her buttons and pull on her pigtails. Strange how her entire perspective when it came to her job had changed since Castle had barged into her life.

He was supposed to be touring for two weeks and it had only been ten days since she had last seen him. So imagine her surprise when she walked into "The Haunt" and the first person she laid eyes on was him, nursing a drink by the bar. He turned around at the sound of the doors opening and her heart skipped a beat when his lips turned up in a smile when he saw her.

She couldn't help the smile that immediately graced her lips and walked over to him, Detectives Ryan and Esposito following her closely behind.

"Why, Detective Beckett, fancy seeing you here." Castle said, his eyes sparkling with humor.

"Right back at you, Castle. Aren't you supposed to be in California?" she said, her smile never leaving her lips.

"Yeah, the last couple of cities were postponed until next month. I just got back in town this morning and thought I'd see how things were going here." He explained and she took a seat next to him. "So what did I miss? Anything interesting?"

She busied herself by ordering a martini while the boys filled him in on this week's particularly trying case. She didn't even want to think about it and was just glad it was over. Even after being a detective for years, she still couldn't distance herself from whatever case she was working on. When it was about children, like the last one had been, it hit her really hard and she did her best to forget about it afterwards. Well, not forget – she could never forget her cases – but at least hide it away in a dark corner of her mind under lock and key.

"Kate?" she was startled by his voice and especially by the fact that he had called her by her first name. When she turned to look at him, his face was so close to hers that she involuntarily shied away.

"Yeah?" she asked, taking a sip of her martini to hide the blush creeping on her cheeks. He had caught her off guard being so close to her like that. She could feel his breath on her skin and it was doing wicked things to her body.

"You okay?" he asked, concerned. "You're awfully quiet." He tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear and she fought hard not to shiver when his hand lightly brushed against her cheek.

"Yeah, just tired. This case was… it was hard." She sighed and he offered her a small smile.

"The guys were telling me about it. I'm glad you caught the guy who killed her." He touched her hand and she looked at their hands touching for a moment. What exactly was he doing, she wondered to herself.

Looking back at him, she nodded and took another sip of her drink.

"How was the tour?" she asked, leaning against the bar.

"Exhausting. I think I'm getting too old for this. It's not as fun and exciting as it used to be." He looked away and she gave his hand – which was still holding hers – a comforting squeeze.

"I thought you liked meeting your fans and signing autographs and stuff."

"No, don't get me wrong, I do. I really appreciate the fans and everything. I just don't like being away from home for long periods of time anymore." He looked at her for a beat and she bit on her bottom lip, trying to decipher what exactly he meant by that.

"I'm sure Alexis misses you." She offered, not quite sure what to say.

"And I miss my little girl like crazy too. It's been just the two of us for so long, you know. And usually she gets to tag along for those tours, but she had this important exam, apparently. Personally, I just think she didn't want to leave Ashley." He said with a laugh and Kate chuckled, nodding.

"Well, that's young love for you. I'm glad things are working out for them, though."

"Yeah, I guess." He shrugged and they were silent for a minute. "You know, I missed you too." He confessed and she looked at him surprised.

"Oh." She said after trying unsuccessfully to think of an answer to that.

"Now would be the time for you to tell me that you've missed me too." He wiggled his eyebrows at her, grinning.

"Not a chance, Castle." She slaps his arm playfully.

"Oh, come on. Not even a little? You did admit once that you've gotten used to me pulling your pigtails." He encouraged and she shook her head, smiling.

"Fine, maybe a little bit." She admitted and he grinned at her victoriously. "And if you ever tell someone that, I'll deny it even under torture."

"Duly noted." He gave her a salute and she rolled her eyes at him.

"Hey, guys?" Ryan interrupted their banter and they looked at him. "You guys up for game of pool? Me and Javi against you two?"

"What do you say, Detective?" Castle offered his hand to her and she took it without hesitation.

"You're on." She grinned at him and turned to Ryan. "You guys are going down."

After successfully beating Esposito and Ryan multiple times at the pool table, Kate and Castle collected their winnings from the ever increasing bet that took place during the game. Ryan decided to call it a night, saying Jenny was expecting him at home and Esposito left shortly after him, which left the writer and the detective alone in the bar with a bottle of vodka.

She was already feeling a little tipsy when Castle decided to prepare one of his special drinks that he insisted was the best thing he had ever invented. She rolled her eyes at his statement, but decided to humor him, anyway. She knew she would have to at least get a cup of coffee to sober up before she could drive home, but there was still time and she was enjoying herself way too much to leave.

He grinned at her as he placed the colorful drink in front of her. She rolled her eyes at him again and took a sip of the fruity mix. She could taste the vodka in it, but only slightly. She looked up at him and he was raising his eyebrows at her expectantly.

"Are you sure you didn't make this virgin? I can barely taste any alcohol in it." She took another sip to prove her point.

"Ah, my dearest detective, that's where you're wrong. I have mixed a very healthy dose of vodka in there. That's what makes this my best invention ever. It's my little secret." He winked at her and she shook her head with a laugh.

"What is it, then?" she asked curiously, but he shook his head. "Oh, come on, Castle. You love to share your stories."

"Uh-uh, Kate. This one remains a secret. It's a great way to get people to loosen up a little without them noticing it."

There he was, calling her Kate again. She wasn't exactly sure what had changed, but he had been calling her by her first name all night long. Not that she minded in the least. If she was honest with herself, she loved the way her name sounded when he said it; it made her feel like they were more intimate than they actually were.

With a grin, he started to make another one for himself. She caught her bottom lip between her teeth and narrowed her eyes at him.

"Are you trying to get me drunk, Mr. Castle?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him.

"I think you're already on your way there, detective. You don't need my help." He smirked at her and she slapped his arm, outraged.

"I am not drunk!" she exclaimed and he laughed at the look on her face.

"I didn't say you were, Kate. I just said you're getting there." He explained, trying to keep a straight face.

"I am not." She insisted and he laughed again, even rolling his eyes at her, the bastard.

"You know, if I knew you were such a fun drunk, I would have gotten you drunk way before this." He told her with a smirk and she slapped his arm again.

"Speak for yourself, writer boy. I doubt you'll be able to drive home." She shook her finger at him with a grin.

"I took a cab here." He told her with a victorious grin. "And you totally just admitted that you're drunk."

"I told you, I am not drunk. You know I can hold my liquor!" she said, exasperated.

"Fine, whatever you say, Kate." He said and she felt her skin break out in goose bumps at the sound of her name rolling from his lips. Maybe she was drunker than she thought, she mused to herself. "How about another game of pool?" he suggested as a peace offering and she took his outstretched hand when he came over to her side of the bar.

"Bring it on, Castle." She grinned at him and tried to ignore the tingly feelings running up her arm as he led her to the pool table. It was just the alcohol buzzing through her system, she tried to reason with herself.

They flipped a coin to choose who would shoot first and Kate took the pool cue from his hand, grinning at him teasingly. Positioning herself, she aimed the cue at the white ball and tried to hit it. When she missed it completely, Castle tried to stifle a laugh.

"And you say you're not drunk." He smirked at her knowingly and she glared at him.

"You do it, then, if you're so much better." She responded childishly, fighting the urge to stick her tongue out at him.

He rolled his eyes and walked over to her side of the table, until he was standing behind her. "Come on, let me help you." He touched her hand and helped her position the pool cue just right to hit the white ball.

Multicolored balls were sent flying across the table and she felt her body trembling slightly at his proximity. What the hell was happening to her?

"See, we make a good team." He whispered close to her ear and she fought the shiver that wanted desperately to run through her body.

"I guess we do." She said back and turned her head to look at him, making the mistake of focusing on his lips first. She swallowed hard and bit on her bottom lip before looking up into his eyes. "Thanks for the help." She told him quietly, aware that his eyes were now focused on her lips.

She licked her lips, feeling her mouth dry all of a sudden, and held her breath when she realized he was leaning in. He stopped half an inch from her lips, giving her a way out. She hesitated for a quarter of a second and during that time her brain went blank because that was when she should have stopped. She had Josh, who was probably worried that she hadn't called him at all that day, and who was one of the nicest guys she had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

She should have stopped. She knew that.

But she didn't.

Instead, she closed the distance between them and brushed her lips against his tentatively. He responded immediately and tugged on her wrist for her to turn around to face him, his lips never leaving hers. Despite her better judgment, she allowed him to deepen the kiss and tried hard to suppress a moan when his tongue touched hers. His arms encircled her waist and he pulled her impossibly close to his body. Her hands roamed across his back until they found the back of his neck, where her fingers gently played with his hair.

He was doing some pretty wicked things to her body and she could feel herself melting into his embrace. His lips worked furiously on hers and their tongues battled fiercely for dominance. She could feel the heat start to pool between her legs and almost saw stars when he brought her hips even closer to his.

She sucked on his bottom lip and bit gently on it, eliciting a smile from him. He kissed her deeply again before starting a trail of light feather kisses between her neck and shoulder. She opened her eyes for a second and the first thought that came to her mind was that she was glad the bar was mostly empty and that the pool table was located in a somewhat secluded spot. Running her hand through his hair, she tugged on it when she felt him suck on her pulse point and then lick away the slight pain. He was driving her absolutely crazy and if they didn't stop now, she wasn't sure she could be held responsible for her actions.

That was when her thought process seemed to come to a screeching halt.


They had to stop. This wasn't right.

Shit, what the hell were they doing?

"Castle." She tried to say, but it came out like a gasp. He kissed her lips again and she lost herself again for a moment. "Castle!" she tried again after a minute, pulling away from him.

He looked at her confused, his eyes now a dark blue and his lips swollen from her actions. She involuntarily reached out and ran her thumb across his lips, before remembering why she had stopped in the first place. He looked at her questioningly, their bodies still pressed close together and it was all she could do to refrain from kissing that confused look away.

"I…" she started, but had to take a deep, strengthening breath before she could continue. "I can't do this, Castle. We can't do this." She pushed him away gently and stepped away from him.

"Kate…" he tried to reach for her, but she shook her head.

"No, I have to go. I'm sorry." She looked at him one last time before turning around and walking back to the bar.

He easily caught up with her and grabbed her wrist when she was reaching for her purse.

"Kate, come on. You can't just leave." He pleaded with her, but she shook her head stubbornly.

"Rick, this was a mistake. A huge mistake. Let's just forget it ever happened, okay?" she told him as she put her coat on.

"No, Kate, wait. Let's talk about this." He took her hand in his and she bit her lip at the tingly sensation running up her arm at his touch.

She couldn't do this.

"There's nothing to talk about." She said quietly. "I'm sorry, let's just please forget about it?" she pleaded with him and made her way to the door.

"But I don't want to forget." She heard him say, but didn't dare to look back. She would give in if she did.

Opening the door, she walked out into the cold December night.