notes: sometimes the fact that castle and beckett went on a date is hard to ignore, and then fanfiction happens. a little like unplanned pregnancy, really.

Quietly, Castle is lately starting to question the stretches of his luck with her. It has oddly long and steady fingers for such a fickle thing, the well not running dry even as he thinks the buckets he pulls up should be emptying it at an alarming rate. (He's mixing his metaphors a little, but the sentiment is the same.)

At the back of his mind, he wonders when it's going to run out.

The cinema is close enough for him to walk home, so they stop at Beckett's car to say goodbye after the movie, the edge of her coat brushing his thigh as she turns to face him.

"Does this feel weirdly like the part of the date where we make out?" he asks as she idly searches a pocket for her keys.

As she stills, her gaze dips to his mouth and for a millisecond he thinks he may actually have a chance to follow through on his question – before her eyes narrow and she starts death-glaring him.

"I knew it! You set the whole thing up!"

Knowing exactly what she's talking about, he tries really hard to feign surprise and righteous anger, but he's too late. She squares up to him, pokes his shoulder.

"I knew I saw you quoting the Commander in that scene!" she hisses, and he can't tell if she's actually angry or not because he swears there's a tiny smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. Though to be fair, it could be a smile that belies her joy at maybe actually getting to cause him some real physical pain for once.

"Busted?" his attempt at a sheepish grin comes out more like a wince, half-expecting her to sock him in the arm for his cheek.

She huffs, completely indignant. "Not only do you whisper mindlessly at the best parts of the film and steal all my candy even though you managed to buy the majority of their stock of Skittles—"

"It was only three bags!"

"But you have the audacity to trick me and try to turn this into a date." She crosses her arms, her eyebrow arching, daring him to justify himself.

It may be the sugar high, but he can't seem to stop himself from nudging just that bit further. "In my defence, I didn't have to try very hard, you kind of did most of the—"

His ear burns with pain, and he knows she's digging her nails in on purpose when she twists her fingers, eliciting a horribly feminine yell from him as he tries not to fall to the ground.

"All right! All right! It wasn't a date itwasn'tada... my god, woman, I'm sure I could get you written up for that kind of unprovoked violence against a civilian." He rubs his throbbing ear, feels the tiny crescents her nails left in his skin.

"You signed a waiver." He marvels at the way she can seamlessly change topics without the smallest indication that she's done so as she continues her thoughts with "I had a good time tonight."

"Even though I tricked you into going on a date?"

"It wasn't a date." She fiddles with her keys, and after a moment she speaks again, addressing her feet. "You just make things easier sometimes, Castle."

He wants to say isn't that what boyfriends are for? but lets it go, brushes his fingers over her elbow. "Don't spread this around, but I'm actually very good for that sort of thing and am very willing to offer my services any time you need them, Detective."

Beckett rolls her eyes but she's smiling again, her nose almost crinkling when she looks at him. Her gaze is yellowed by the streetlamp above them, and for a minute they are wordless. These moments are becoming more and more frequent with them, little revelations rolling into understanding, like he's finally unravelling the tiniest of her mysteries. He thinks she must finally feel at home with him under her skin.

"So," she breaks the silence, bites her lip. Metal jangles. "If this were a date would now be the part with the goodnight kiss? Or are you more of a 'wanna come up for coffee' kind of guy?" The grin she gives him turns him on more than it should, especially because she's been around him long enough to know exactly what kind of guy he is.

Gambling, he takes a step closer. "Too bad this isn't a date then, huh?" He drinks in her small, quavered breath. "If it were you'd be able to find out."

His smile turns into more of a leer, but she recovers quickly from her initial surprise. The toes of her shoes nudge his as she gets even closer, and her expression matches his. He swallows. To his mother's chagrin he has never learned not to play with fire, and Beckett is one of the most perilous flames he's ever encountered.

She leans forward, lends a kiss to the corner of his mouth, and then pulls back. It seems she's close to getting burned herself. "Hypothetically."

It's all she says but he still sees it as a challenge. This is dangerous, teetering so close to the boundaries of not allowed, but his mind is ticking right back to a similarly-lit instance not so long ago when he first found out the kinds of things Kate Beckett's mouth could do to a person. Not to mention the deliciously slow slide of her tongue and the nip of her teeth and before he realises it he's leaned forward, hand at the back of her neck and captured her lips again. He's becoming an expert on recklessly raising their stakes.

A whimper escapes her and he draws in closer, presses, swears he can taste the lingering flavour of Junior Mints on her tongue from earlier when she slips it into his mouth.

They say your life flashes before your eyes right before you die. They don't say anything about what happens when you suddenly see all your old ghosts contained in the infinite seconds of a kiss; missed opportunities culminating in a moment of finally. It's intoxicating, the feeling he has with her wrapped around him, warm and shaking and humming right into his chest, through his fingertips right down to the soles of his feet. He tries to write poems on the inside of her cheek with his tongue; repent, siphon off their regrets and maybe tell her what's been festering in his mind. Her mother's killer died beneath her hand, beneath his own hands her bones started to freeze, a bomb didn't go off, he didn't get to say what he is desperate to. So he kisses her and she kisses him back, mouth fused to his, hands raking through his hair. He's sure there are a few things she's trying to say too.

She abruptly pulls back, brow creased, and regains her breath. Somehow, he got her pressed up against her car, and he can feel the shift of her hipbones against him, unable to say anything.

"I guess that was kind of a dumb thing to do." His voice is gruff, his hands running up and down her arms.

"Monumentally stupid," she breathes. "My fault."

He steps back, shakes his head. "I think you'll find a jury would convict us both if it came down to it. Assuming no one died before they could."

She grimaces.

"Too soon?"

"With you, Castle, everything is too soon."

She sounds weary, whether it's with him or his jokes he's not sure, but he doesn't push. No matter how much his erratically-beating heart implies he should.

"See you tomorrow?" he asks, wanting reassurance.

She nods. "Paperwork."

"My favourite. I'm guessing it'll be a triple-shot, venti kind of morning?"

With another nod, she concurs, and turns to unlock her car door. "Night, Castle."


In the morning, he barely gets to place Beckett's coffee on her desk when Ryan and Esposito are behind him, uncannily similar expressions on their faces.

"Hey Castle." Ryan's mouth tilts into a smirk.

"Hey, guys. What's... up?"

"We saw something very interesting last night," Esposito replies, his gaze flicking to Ryan, grin mirroring his partner's.

"Very interesting," Ryan concedes, nodding.

"You and Beckett..."

"...Walking into the Angelica at about nine pm..."

"Together," they finish in tandem, crossing their arms over their chests.

"I told you guys to stop stalking me after hours," Castle deflects, sipping his coffee. "I'm going to have to consider a restraining order."

Frowning, they ignore his attempts to change the subject. "Were you on a date, Castle? Because there are several people we're sure would like to be informed of that particular turn of events."


"Lanie," Esposito continues.

"The Captain."


"Beckett's dad."

The two detectives look at each other at the same time.

"Wait, bro, does Beckett know you were on a date?"

"It wasn't a date!" He whispers urgently, seeing Beckett come down the stairs behind Ryan and Esposito. They turn to follow where his gaze is resting, and immediately separate, going to their respective desks with a muttered morning, Beckett. Beckett looks at him quizzically but he chooses to shrug, pretends he doesn't know either.

They shoot him death glares all morning.


"What." She doesn't bother looking up from watching the shot of dark liquid pour into her cup, finger resting through the handle.

Other than the occasional fact check or asking if anyone needed a refill, most of the last few hours have been spent in silence. He has written three pages of drivel on notepaper she gave him to stop his inane doodling on all her post-its, and he's finally had enough.

"I'm sorry for kissing you."

She spins, and her finger catches on her cup handle, almost sending it to the floor. Instead it clatters against the grate, the soundtrack to her next sentence. "Castle, we're in the middle of the precinct, do you mind?"

Lowering his voice, he ploughs on. "It was inappropriate and I'm sorry that I didn't respect your... situation." He doesn't want to use words that make it obvious how much she is not his, but adds, "I didn't mean to compromise your integrity. It's never my intention to do that."

She just stares at him for a minute, swallows visibly, blinks a little too often. Her voice is heavy when she replies. "Um. Thank you, Castle."

Then she takes her coffee and brushes past him back to her desk, ends their conversation.

He thinks maybe his luck is running out.