"So..." Lanie took a sip from her Martini and popped an olive in her mouth. "You want to tell me why writer boy is making goo goo eyes at you?" she asked casually and Kate choked on her drink for a second, feeling the heat spreading from her neck up.

It had been a week since Raglan's murder and they were at The Old Haunt. Captain Montgomery had given them a couple of days off and when they had returned to work, things got hectic with a new case. It was only now, a week later, that they found time to honor their post traumatic tradition and have a drink to decompress.

Castle and the boys were shooting pool, which left Kate alone with Lanie for the first time since everything happened. She was quiet tonight, though. Thinking about her mom always hurt, even if they were happy memories. It reminded her that she would never be able to create new happy memories with her mother and that hurt more than anything.

The fact that she had dove head first into her case, though, had been killing her for the past week. Of course she never really forgot about it, but on her day-to-day routine she tried to keep it locked away in a dark corner in her mind. Having it thrown at her face unannounced had set her back into the darkness that had consumed her during her first years with the NYPD. She had been on a path of destruction back then. For the past week she had managed to compartmentalize her issues and problems and she knew she was a step closer to the truth now, which made her hopeful that she would actually be able to solve her mother's case.

It made her hopeful, but it didn't help with the searing pain in her heart. The wounds had never completely healed and when Raglan called her that day, it felt like the stitches that were holding her heart together had been savagely ripped off. Now all she could do was try to pick up the pieces and put herself back together, but that wouldn't happen overnight. Hell, it had taken her years in therapy to somewhat overcome her demons.

So for now, she was content to quietly enjoy her margarita and watch her friends goof around. She had come so close to losing them all last weekend. Just the thought of it made her heart ache even more. She had to keep reminding herself that they were fine. Every single one of them.

She had been watching them placing bets at the pool table and an amused smile had been playing on her lips when Lanie interrupted her thoughts.

"What…" Kate coughed, her eyes watering from having almost choked to death. "What are you talking about, Lanie?"

"Okay, fine. Let me rephrase it for you, then. He's always making goo goo eyes at you, but he is usually a little more discreet about it. He's not being discreet now." The medical examiner told her in a no-nonsense tone. "Is there something you'd like to share with the class, Kate?"

Kate swallowed and refrained from touching her lips at the memory. If she closed her eyes, she could still taste him and her lips tingled. It had been so unexpected. She admitted that she had thought about how their first kiss would happen, but that had never even crossed her mind. She knew it had been just a ruse and that was probably all he had intended it to be when he had grabbed her and claimed her lips with his. When she had gone in for the second kiss, she had been well aware that they had to make it believable for their plan to work. So she had pulled him closer and kissed him fiercely, while trying to keep an eye on the guy walking in their direction.

Something happened halfway through the kiss, though.

She wasn't sure what it was exactly, but suddenly it felt like the entire world had fallen silent and all she could hear was her frantic heartbeat. His tongue touched hers and the new contact sent a wave of shocking pleasure through her veins, all the way down to her toes. A moan escaped her lips involuntarily and she pulled him even closer to her body, the need to touch him, to feel his warmth against her skin suddenly overwhelming her.

Then reality came rushing back and she remembered where they were and why they were even kissing in the first place. Opening her eyes, she saw the guy turn around and knew that was her only chance. It all happened so fast – the kiss and taking the guy down – that she could barely catch her breath afterwards. Her mind was reeling.

She had kissed Castle. They had crossed a very, very important line in their relationship. A line that she had thought she would never have the chance to cross after he had left for the summer with his ex-wife in tow.

Where were they supposed to go from here?

When she heard his voice saying it had been amazing, she had wholeheartedly agreed with him. Even after he backpedaled and tried to pass it off as nothing. She knew this wasn't nothing. This was huge.

They had kissed.

"Sorry, but nothing happened. It's Castle. You know how he is." She shrugged, dismissing it, but Lanie shook her head.

"Kate, I know something happened. You guys are different now." Lanie told her softly. "Listen, I know this was a tough week for you and I'm sorry I wasn't there. But I'm glad that Castle was. Whatever happened between you two… I don't care. He was there for you and he took care of you, that's all that matters."

"Yeah, he did." Kate said quietly and looked down at her hands.

He had taken care of her. He had offered to be her rock, a shoulder for her to cry on and she was so grateful for that. He was one of the few people in her life that she could actually rely on and trust. She had finally realized that she trusted him with her life and she knew she was that much closer to trusting him with her heart. He had shown her a side of himself that she didn't get to see very often, which only reassured her thoughts that maybe they would get a second chance.

"What are my two favorite ladies talking about?" she heard his voice and turned around in her stool, only to find him right behind her and a little closer than strictly necessary.

"About you, actually." Her smile was genuine and he smiled back at her. "I was just telling Lanie about how you went all Chuck Norris on Lockwood."

"Yeah, Castle, please share the details." Lanie teased and Kate was grateful that her friend was willing to let it go for now.

As Castle started to recount their rescue mission, she leaned back and stiffened when she realized she was leaning against his chest. She was about to move away when she felt his hand lightly touch her hip. He kept his hand there, gently caressing it with his thumb, and she relaxed against him.

When Ryan and Esposito joined them a few minutes later, she took the opportunity to look up at him, since her friends were distracted. When her eyes met his, he offered a small smile and she grinned shyly.

"Thank you." She whispered so softly that for a moment she thought he hadn't heard her. "For everything."

He nodded and kissed her temple, lingering for a few seconds.

"No problem, KB. I've got you." He told her and she beamed at him, relaxing further into the warmth of his touch.

"Yeah." She murmured after a beat.

He's really got her.


Also, can we all just take a moment to talk about how ridiculously amazing Knockdown was? I can't even think about it without smiling. Bar none, the very best episode of the series so far.

God, I love this show!