"Heat, like work, is energy in transit."

-Laws of Thermodynamics

Kate Beckett is on page 28 of Castle's novel when she has to stop and put it down. Her hands are shaking. Again. But she hasn't just confronted a killer, she's confronted herself.

In these pages.

And in seeing herself, she sees him too.

She showed up at his book signing with the newly published novel, and he tried to walk away from her. But she chased after him. What else do you do with the man who loves you? But chase after him.

She might not have made things right, but she made them okay. Enough.

And sitting in a swing on a late afternoon, he wrote a second dedication under the one inside.

Two words.

We're back.

She hinted to him that she'd already read it, but the truth is, she couldn't bring herself to read it before she saw him. She needed that time to be nothing, not even a daughter, alone in a cabin in upstate New York, listening to raccoons at night and the wind in the trees in the morning. Existing. Because, well, because she very nearly didn't.

She's read spoilers and excerpts because she felt like she needed to be prepared when she finally saw him. But it seemed wrong to buy the book (who is she kidding? pre-order the book) and then read it without him, without acknowledging him first. Creator and Author. Keeper of the characters.

So she sat on a swing and watched the book in his hands as he signed it, took it back from him with a locked-down heart, knowing that whatever he had written there couldn't be as bad, as destructive, as beautiful as what he'd already written all over her life.

We're back.

It wasn't great, but it was enough.

She traces the words now with her fingers, unwittingly finding the book in her hands again. Because she can't put it down yet, not when things are so unresolved with Rook and Heat, not when it seems so vital to know if they work out. If they can work out.

Will they ever work?

Kate is ashamed to admit that she couldn't care less about the novel's murder investigation, but the stuff with Captain Montrose is digging at her. There are just. . .too many times she wants to pick up the phone and call him and ask why he put that in the book, or how he knew, or what it all meant.

She shouldn't call him. But she knows she will.

Despite the promise she made to herself not to string him along, not to tantalize him with the things he can't have. (Yet.)

She shivers and tosses that promise right out the window.

He answers on the first ring, which sends a frisson of pleasure through her that she doesn't stop to analyze.


"I'm reading your book," she says without preamble.

"Ah. I had the distinct impression you'd already read it."

"I couldn't until. . .no. I'm reading it now."

"You knew about the end."

"Message boards. On your fan site." She closes her eyes and berates herself for giving out that much information.

"Well, all I ask is that you spare me, Kate. If you hate it, I don't-"

"I don't hate it," she interrupts, surprised. "I like it. I. . .I love it." She flips to the front page and reads. "The ambulance lights lick the storefront. . .that's good, Castle."

He chuckles, but she can hear the nervousness in it. "You're on the first page?"

She laughs and turns back to her bookmark, a blank postcard advertising a local band. She picked it up at the bookstore too. Earlier today. "I'm on page 28."

She can hear noises on his end and then his intake of breath. "Ah. Well."

"I have questions."

"Impatient," he murmurs. "You could just read the end of the book."

"No. That would ruin it. And these aren't questions about the murder."

He laughs. "They're not?"

"I already have an idea. You're not predictable, Castle, but I do know you. Plus, I know the cases we've had this past year."

"Who says they have anything to do with this one?"

That isn't what she is calling about. She needs to get this out. "The stuff with Montrose. I just-"

"Ah, look. Kate. . .I. . ." He falls silent.

"Yeah?" She needs to know. And then there are harder questions, questions that tiptoe right up to the line she made for herself and swore she wouldn't cross. Because it wouldn't be fair to him. She's trying so hard not to be a bitch. She really is. Trying. It feels like she's failing.

"I don't know what to say. I'm a cannibal. I scavenge bits of my life, and everyone else's, and then it all goes into the mix. Pieces really."

She thinks on that for a moment, remembering how many misguided notions she had to face after the first book. How many of her own notions she had to put down, shoot between the eyes (is he as good in bed as he is writing it?)

But this stuff with the Captain. It isn't the information he is letting out in the novel that bothers her. It's the timeline. It's always been the timeline. When did he know this and why didn't he tell her?

"Just. . .how long did you think this - about the Captain? Or. . .when did the idea come to you, Castle? Before? Or did you write the whole book this summer?"

"No. Just the end."

She hasn't gotten that far yet, but something in his voice warns her. Talking on the phone doesn't cut it. She wants to see his face, wants to look up from the page and find him waiting.

Will he wait?

"Can you - Would you like to come over?"

"While you read it, you mean?"

She chews on her lip. "Yeah."

"You have more questions."

"I think I'm going to need answers. Just for my own peace of mind."

"Kate? About Montgomery. I didn't know. I really had no idea. Thinking about it this summer while I wrote, I realized that there had always been these little things that I never had answers for. But everybody has those things. No one is a complete open book. It's not like there were clues or mounting evidence."

"I should've seen it," she whispers, closing her eyes. It still hurts. The betrayal. She's had too many of them this past year. Michael Royce. Roy Montgomery. She might need to stay away from older men whose names start with R.

Oh. Well. Rick Castle?

To be fair, maybe so. To be fair to him at least. Her side aches, and she presses against the couch trying to ease it.

"There was nothing to see, Kate." His voice is pleading, a little insistent. "Nothing was there. There weren't any clues. It's not like his behavior changed or he dropped strange knowledge on us. It was just. . .he took care of you. He mentored you-"

"Damn it, I *know* that." She feels tears in her eyes and tilts her head back against the couch. She keeps her eyes wide open, studies the modernist painting she's bought recently to fill the wall. The woman in the painting is running from a world gone mad, a hand to her hat, her dress in flames, things crashing around her. It's dark and grey and bursting with determination. It makes her feel safe.

Safer. The ache eases a little. Castle's voice over the phone is another layer of safety.

"I just meant, Kate, that he took extra time with you. He paid attention. He made sure you were okay. But it wasn't like he was in love with you-"

Their conversation has suddenly gotten very close to that line she doesn't want to cross.

"-and not that paying attention to you only happens when someone's in - ah - in love with you - um - well, but. . .what I mean is. He did it because he saw something in you. Something good. He said that in the hangar before-"

Kate presses the heel of her hand into one eye and stops up the moisture threatening to spill out. "So that was your clue? That he paid attention, that he took an interest in me?"

"That's all, Kate. That was it. I'd written Montrose like that in the other two books, but I realized I didn't have a story for it. I couldn't explain it, there was no good reason for it."

"And my mom's - that was a good reason for it?" She knows she sounds illogical and a little strung out, but she's having a hard time dancing them away from that line without also getting too close to the other lines she's made. So many rules. So many lines circling her, barring her way, like a cage.

"It is, in hindsight. What I did in this one. . .well, you're only on page 28. All I meant to do was find a good backstory for the character, Kate. I wasn't - I didn't have any idea about the rest of it."

She nods even though she knows he can't see it, keeps her head tilted back on the couch, her eyes trained on the woman in the painting. Running. Does she run away? She's on a bridge, in transit somehow, running to escape the terror around her. But is she running away, or does she run towards something else?

Someone else?

"I can tell you what happens," he says. "If you can't stand. . .I can put you out of your misery right now, Kate."

"No. I want to read your book." She swallows, because maybe her voice gives too much away. But his comment is a good enough clue, though, isn't it? That things aren't as they seem, that the Captain Montrose of his novels isn't, can't be, a crooked cop.

"I'll come over," he says softly. "Give me twenty minutes."

She closes her eyes, suddenly regretting asking him. Too late. He's already hung up the phone.