As usual, this is Polly Lynn's fault. And thanks to her for editing.

This is post-episode. Remember: someone won a date with Richard Castle in that auction, because Beckett refused to bid on him.

Chapter 59: 1x07, Home Is Where The Heart Stops

Oh, not a chance in hell, Castle.

"Beckett." She answers her phone by habit, even though caller ID says it's Castle. She answers everyone that way. It's easier to go on autopilot. At least Dad finds it amusing. He always responds I know you are, but what am I? And then he chuckles at his own joke. Every time.

"Hey, Beckett. It's me. Can you buzz me in?"

"Can - what?" She freezes. "Where are you?"

"I'm right outside."

Kate pads over to her window, peering through the curtains, and sure enough, she can see his tall figure under the street lights, phone in one hand, small grocery bag in the other. "Why?"

"Because I just escaped from possibly the most awkward date in the history of Earth, and I need to decompress. I brought ice cream. And wine. And cupcakes."

Kate worries her bottom lip between her teeth. This is probably a bad idea.

Of course, she's morbidly curious about what an auction date is like. She didn't even see who won.

"And," he adds, "it is all your fault, because I begged you to save me from this, but you didn't."

She flushes. That's true.

"Beckett? Please?"

She sighs. Reaches for the buzzer.

"Come on up."

She opens her front door to find Castle beaming at her, shifting the paper bag to his right arm. He's still dressed for a date: deep wine-red shirt, sharp black suit. His tie is loosened, his top button undone, and his hair looks like he's been running his hands through it.

He looks really, really good.

She knots her fists. "Hi."

"You wouldn't believe the dinner I just had." He sidesteps her in a moment, taking his bag of groceries to her kitchen. "And since you refused to bid on me, I think it's only fair to force you to listen to my tale of woe."

Before Kate realizes it, she's on the couch across from him, watching as Castle pours a generous amount of wine into her glass. "So I walk into the restaurant, and she's already at the table. With a rose inside a copy of Romeo and Juliet. So I know this won't end well."

Kate chokes on the ice cream she's just tried to swallow. "Sorry. Continue."

"Her name is Samandra."




He shoots her a baleful look. "Funny. You're funny."

"So you walked in," she prompted, "and immediately knew she was your soulmate, and then -"

"She was just - she was so, so so so creepy." He shudders. "She wanted to have my babies."

Kate rolls her eyes. "Don't flatter yourself."

"No, she already had names picked out." Castle plants his spoon in his ice cream like a little flag, staring at it. "And that's how dinner started."

Kate sinks back into her cushions, pulling her feet up under herself. This is beautiful. "What names did she pick?"

"Bryson. Elliott." Castle ticks them off on his fingers. "Cortland. Gulliver. Xerxes. For girls, she liked Briseida. Pandora. Cleopatra. Krystyl with two y's. Iridessa. Oh, and Quinoa."

Kate blinks at him. "Quinoa?"

"I don't think she knows what quinoa is."

"You know, if you two have twins, you could name them Scylla and Charybdis," Kate suggests. "I think they're gender-neutral."

"You're not helping."

"I'm not trying to." She points with her spoon. "So what else?"

"Well, by day, she's a professional actualization facilitator." Castle slips his tie out of his collar, draping it over the arm of the couch. "And no, I don't know what that means."

Kate beams at him."She sounds incredible."

He glares at her. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"

She leans her chin on her hand, smiling sweetly. "So very, very much."

"Beckett. This woman was scary. She'd researched me. Said I was the perfect man to father her children." He makes a face.

"That must be terrible," she says. "People following you, assuming they already know you, refusing to leave you alone when -"

He sighs. "Okay, I get it."

"- you ask for privacy, but they don't -"

"I get it, Beckett."

"It sucks, doesn't it?"

"This is completely different," he informs her. "The mayor said I could."

Her ice cream is melting in the bowl, wine glass near empty, when Kate realizes she feels good. Warm, loose, laughing. She can't stop smiling.

For the first time since she's met this infuriating, ridiculous man, she can honestly say she's enjoying being around him.

"Come on, Beckett," he wheedles, his eyes sparkling. "Don't you at least feel a little guilty? You abandoned me to this woman."

"You think a date with me would have been any better?"

"Would you start asking about recessive genetic traits so that you can plan what our future children will look like?"

Kate almost spits out wine. "What?"

"So, no." He leans back against the cushions, his eyes fixed on her. She feels her face flushing. "No, we'd have a lovely evening. I'd take you to a nice restaurant. Pull out your chair for you. I'd probably let you pick the wines. And we'd enjoy ourselves."

"You really think so?" She's trying not to think about it. This is dangerous territory. This is a road she doesn't usually travel, the world of if I did. Ever since the day he asked if she wanted to debrief him.

"We'd have the perfect date." His eyes are still bright, but there's something in his face that tells her he's not really joking anymore. "I might even let you kiss me goodnight."

She's leaning towards him almost unconsciously, the slow, dizzying pull of heat sliding through her veins. "Really?"

"Maybe." Castle swallows hard, his throat bobbing. "If you earned it."

Kate bites her lip, and his eyes fall to her mouth. "How would I do that?"

He drags his eyes back up to hers, and she catches her breath.

"I think you figured that out a while ago, Kate."

She doesn't even know who moves first, but suddenly they're kissing and she can't breathe.

He tastes like chocolate. And wine. He nips at her bottom lip teasingly, soothing it with his tongue, and she slides her hands in his hair, pulling him closer, long and slow and lazy.

The shrill ring of his cell phone jolts them apart like a spark. Kate scrambles back, cheeks burning, watching as he pulls the phone out of his pocket, sighing. "Really? Really?"

He groans, stealing one last kiss before leaning back to answer his phone. "Yes, Mother?" Long pause. Kate can imagine the torrent Martha's unleashing. "Yes, Mother. I - Mother. Mother. Mother!" He pinches the bridge of his nose. "Yeah. Okay. I'll be home soon."

He sets his phone on the coffeetable and sits back, rubbing his face. "Dammit."

"Does your mother know you're here?"

"No," he grumbles. "And she wants to know all about Samandra."

"Checking up on her future daughter-in-law?"

"Ouch," Castle gasps, clutching his heart. "Low blow. And after I brought you something so sweet and delicious."

"I did enjoy the ice cream."

He grins. "I meant myself."

"Get out." He's the worst. He's actually terrible. She plants her hands on his chest, shoving him back.

But he's a good kisser.

"Kaaaaaaaaate." He whines, but she throws his jacket at his face, trying to bite back the grin.

Castle's taking his time, but she needs him out, because every inch of her skin is flushed and aware and if he doesn't leave, she's probably going to push him down on the couch and start unbuttoning. It's been two minutes since they kissed; that's a little early for the things she wants to do to his body.

She pushes him along, ignoring his protests, and he finally opens the door.

"You can leave the cupcakes, Castle."

"Fine." He pulls on his jacket, but leans in for a long, deep kiss. "But I'll be back tomorrow. For dessert."