This is my first Castle Fan Fiction. I hope you like the story. I don't want to tie our characters to any particular TV series linked relationship timeline yet. Their relationship will develop as they see fit through the story.

I'd love some feedback. It's what makes writing worthwhile...that and getting to spend time with these awesome characters!

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Castle or any of the characters.

Chapter 1

The red numerals on Kate's alarm clock flipped over to 4.58AM, just as the phone by her bed started to trill.

"Beckett", she said, sleepily into the mouthpiece. The voice on the other end of the line confirmed her instant suspicion, that another body had been found, and that sleep was over, for tonight at least, for a certain Detective Kate Beckett.

Showering quickly and getting dressed she put in a quick call to Ryan and Esposito, before grabbing her keys and heading down to her car. They would meet her at the crime scene, a small neighborhood play park in SoHo on Thompson Street.

Given the hour Kate debated whether or not to call Castle, as she pulled her car into the light, early morning traffic. The sky was lightening and it felt warm and humid already, the nighttime temperature having not dropped below 75 degrees.

"I'll probably regret this", she thought, but she picked up her cell and hit the speed dial for Castle's phone anyway.

When the call connected, she heard a distinctive throat clearing sound at the other end and then silence.

"Castle, you there?" she asked, uncertainly. "I wasn't sure whether or not to wake you, but you said you wanted in on everything and we have a new case", she carried on, assuming the writer was just coming round.

"Morning Beckett. Yeah, I'm here. Sorry, caught me in the middle of a particularly, um, absorbing dream".

Kate rolled her eyes at the man's ability to conjure up innuendo this early in the morning and instantly began regretting her decision to include him in the day's case.

"Well, if you can tear yourself away, Castle. Meet me at the corner of Thompson and Spring. The Vesuvio Playground. They found a floater in the wading pool".

"Great," said Castle. "I'll bring my bathers," he quipped, drawing another eye roll from Kate. "See you there Detective. Oh and Kate?"

"Yes, Castle?"

"You were being such a naughty girl in my dream," he said, trying to draw her back into his earlier innuendo.

"Really?" said Kate, her voice clipped and impatient. She kept her tone devoid of any curiosity as she tolerated his flirtation. "Well, that is nothing compared to what I can do to you in real life if you irritate me today, Castle", she warned. With that she hung up the phone and sped off down 7th Avenue.

Lanie, Ryan and Esposito were waiting for her when she got out of the car, sitting at a stone checker board table under some trees just beyond the playground's chain link fence.

"Morning guys, Lanie," said Kate, smiling at her friend. "What do we have?"

As they walked over to the pool Lanie said "We got ourselves a female floater, late teens or early 20's. No signs of a struggle, but I'd say from the condition we found her in that we're definitely talking homicide."

"If there are no signs of a struggle, what makes you say that?" asked Kate.

"Well, she's naked for one and her clothes are no where to be seen and there ain't no way you'd catch me skinny dippin' in that pool" said Lanie, "what with all the little babies who visit this playground, if you get what I'm say'in girl?" said Lanie, her nose wrinkling in distaste.

"Did somebody say naked?" asked Castle, appearing at Kate's elbow, wiggling his dark, bushy eyebrows and twinkling his blue eyes.

"Not to mention how overlooked this place is." Said Beckett, studiously ignoring Castle's grand entrance and disrespectful remark. Spinning away from him she turned to Ryan and Esposito. "Guys, you got anything to add?"

"So far, nada", said Esposito. "No clothes, no purse, so no ID. We'll wait a half hour or so and start canvassing".

"Well, the site has entrances from both Sullivan and Thompson and it's a busy neighborhood, even at night, so someone had to have seen or heard something", said Kate, turning round to look for Castle.

Lanie carried on her outline. There were no obvious marks on the body, but they'd know more once they got back to the lab. Core temp would usually give them time of death, but Lanie warned them that the humid night and the water in the pool would mess with the accuracy of those results. Whether or not the victim had drowned or been dumped in the pool post-mortem would only really be evident once tests had been carried out. There was also a strong chance that any DNA evidence would have been washed away by the water in the pool. A lot of things were working against them on this one.

"You're very quiet, Castle. Penny for them?" said Kate.

"I, uh, was just wondering. Does our vic have a name yet?"

"Castle, you ok? Weren't you listening to Esposito?" asked Kate, frowning at her partner and following his gaze. It was unlike his writerly mind for detail to have missed Javier's update.

Castle was staring at the swimming pool where the young woman floated face down in the water, her hair fanning out around her head. CSU pulled a blue tarpaulin up to the edge of the pool ready to lift the body out of the water, as Lanie headed over to supervise. Castle's eyes never left the water and Kate began to wonder what it was about this particular crime scene that had knocked the cocky edge off his demeanor.

"You guys start the door to door. Lanie can get the autopsy going back at the morgue, I'll get CSU to process the playground and Castle and I will start searching through recent Missing Person reports back at the 12th", said Kate, turning to propel Castle towards her car by the elbow. "Meet you back at the station," she threw over her shoulder to her colleagues.

Quiet Castle was infinitely more disturbing than annoying Castle and Kate wanted to get to the bottom of what was occupying him. She could use some of his wild theories to kick-start their case and she knew they wouldn't be forthcoming if he stayed in this catatonic state. Time for a little flirting, as underhand as that was, needs must.

"So, Castle," she drawled, "you were telling me about your dream? Naughty, huh?" she grinned with more effort than she felt. But he didn't even blink.

"Castle. Snap out of it! What is with you this morning?" her concern and frustration getting the better of her.

"Hmmm? Sorry Beckett. I was miles away."

"Yeah, I got that. But where were you?" she asked, noting the sad, worried look in his eyes and instantly regretting snapping at him. She laid a concerned hand on his forearm hoping to coax him out.

"Alexis and I used to visit a playground just like that near Central Park when she was a little girl. Back then she also loved to lay back in the tub at night, floating, when she was so small her feet didn't reach end to end. Her hair would fan out in the water to make a red halo round her little head. She looked just like our victim, Beckett. She's somebody's daughter, Kate," he said, turning quickly to look at her. "That's what I was thinking." He finished, looking down at his hands.

"Castle, if this is too much for you, I'd understand. Cases involving children and young people are the hardest. No one would think any less of you."

Castle straightened in his seat. "Detective Beckett, I am your partner. Where you go I go. No ifs, buts or maybes." His mind was made up, but the distant look hadn't wholly left his blue eyes.

Kate let go the breath she had been holding, relieved to have him by her side once again. "Well if you're sure, Castle", she said, pulling out of the parking spot and heading towards the precinct. He patted her knee and fell back into an uncharacteristic silence.