"Beckett! Thank God! Come in, quick, it's unlocked!"

The door crashes open and she bursts inside, all tense arms and edgy eyes. "What? What is it?"

Castle spares a long second admiring how vibrantly alert she is at 7:55 in the morning, but he doesn't move from his post over the dog. Kizzy is currently sprawled on the floor, completely covered by the overlarge throw from the couch. "I think Kizzy is -" he drops his voice to a low, serious whisper, "mentally retarded."

Beckett crosses her arms. "You have got to be kidding me," she says.

He can tell immediately that she's not going to be inclined to treat this situation with the seriousness that it deserves. "No, no, you need to hear me out," he says, holding out his hands in supplication. Kizzy's form stays limp under the blanket.

Her arms stay crossed. "I'm listening."

"We were just playing Find the Treat, like we do, you know, and I decided to hide a treat under a Solo cup that I found in the bottom of the closet from the Christmas party." His eyes start to glaze, but he immediately refocuses on the topic at hand – this is too important to indulge himself in a moment of fond remembrance. "And Kizzy saw me hide it, but she didn't even try to knock the cup over. She just sat there and stared at me." He pauses. "Kind of like you're doing right now." It becomes clear Beckett is not going to comment until he explains why the dog is under a blanket. "So I googled Dog IQ Test, because it's important to know these things, and one of the other tests was seeing if the dog can extricate itself from underneath a blanket. And she's just been lying there for minutes." Surely, Beckett isn't speaking because she's busy pondering all the ways to emotionally support him in his time of need. "I have such a brilliant child," he finally says, mournfully, "it figures that I would get my comeuppance in the form of an intellectually disabled dog."

"Did it ever occur to you, Castle, that maybe the dog thinks your games are stupid, and she's just patiently waiting for you to stop harassing her?"

"No," he says.

Beckett rolls her eyes, crosses the room, and pulls the blanket off Kizzy. The dog bumps her forearm with her snout, licks her hand twice, turns to stare reproachfully at Castle. "I'll try to be here to protect you next time, Kizzy," Beckett tells her, running her hand along the dog's spine.

"Not fair teaming up on me," Castle says, but for some reason, it doesn't really bother him.

Beckett rolls her eyes at him. "Feed me, Castle."

He kisses her because he's not sure how else to stop her from leaving.

He knew he wasn't going to just roll over and put her coat on (again), not after the way she was smiling at him over omelets. It had started like the day before, her slow withdrawal as they cleared plates, except when she'd stepped forward and he'd moved sideways they'd crashed, the angle of her hipbone jutting sharply into his thigh. "Jesus," he heard her exhale under her breath as he'd stood there, feet frozen to the ground. "You've been bumping into me more in the last two days," she'd continued, louder, smiling as she shook her head, and he murmured something offhand and nonsensical about her magnetic pull, but the whole incident set him buzzing with a kind of energy that he hadn't been able to shake.

He hadn't meant to initiate anything with the kiss – he really hadn't. He'd tugged at her hand as she stepped toward the door, felt their fingers knock against each other, skin catching and sliding over skin, dry and electric, and before he knew it he was stepping closer, falling into her pull. She must have tilted, too, because he'd only meant to breathe the same air as her, to leach a little more of her warmth into himself and to give a little more of his warmth to her, but suddenly where there should have been air there was instead the supple bow of her lips.

He'd been a little scared of what she'd do to him – he'd predicted her inflicting any number of different kinds of bodily harm upon him, he'd predicted her bolting out the door, he'd predicted her drawing her gun and arresting him for some kind of indecent assault. What he didn't understand was the current of desperation vibrating just beneath her placid smile.

He understands now, now that she's walked them backwards so that he's pressing her against the door, now that her tongue is in his mouth and she's tugging his shirt up, up over his stomach, raking her nails along his ribs, now that a moan is vibrating through her throat. He understands and he makes himself still his hands, which have been smoothing circles over her back. "Beckett," he says, his voice managing to cant up and then down and then up again in the space of the two-syllable name. His pulse is thrumming wildly. He leans his forehead into hers, tries again. "Beckett."

"Shut up," she growls, biting at his lower lip.

"You're maybe a little emotionally vul –" he starts, breathing out against her lips, but her foot winds around the back of his calf and the length of her body presses up against him, and somehow he's rucking her shirt up so that the smooth plane of her stomach slides over his, and then she's wrapping a hand around the back of his neck and pulling his head down to her.

"Stop thinking," she says as she slides a hand between them to work at the waistband of his jeans.

He does.

The aftermath of first-time daytime sex is awkward.

He's forgotten this, somehow; it has been a long time since he was having first-time sex of any sort, never mind while the sun was shining. He's not sure what to offer her in the wake of sixteen of the most exquisitely hot moments of his entire life up against the front door. They've only just eaten, so not breakfast. It's morning, so it would be ridiculous to try and tug her up to bed.

"Shower?" he finally croaks at her as she shimmies her jeans up over her hips.

She blinks up at him. "Are you saying I need a shower, Castle?" she asks throatily.

"No, no, it's just that after –" He stops when he catches a twitch of her lips. "Oh. You're messing with me. That's not nice."

"I probably should go," she says with a regretful smile.

"Help me walk my poor doubly-disabled dog," he says, the first thing he can think of.

She grins, and the awkwardness melts away. "I thought we were over that."

"Are you ashamed of her? Is that why you don't want to come?" The smoldering look she gives him makes him stutter for a moment. "On the walk," he clarifies. "With us."

"I do need to shower," she says.

"I have showers. And soap. And towels," he says helpfully.

She rolls her eyes at him. He focuses on projecting an air of endearing desperation, subtly toeing Kizzy in the leg to make sure that she's giving off the same aura. "After the shower and the walk –" she says threateningly.

"We'll release you."

She steps into him, close, slides her hand in front of his torso, holding her palm flat for him to shake. "Deal," she murmurs, closing her fingers around his palm as she leans in and brushes her lips over his.

"Deal," he echoes, a little breathless.

She draws away abruptly, walking over to the stairs and leaving him standing, adrift, next to the door. She doesn't turn, but she pauses for an instant, and he can imagine the quirk of her lips, the light in her eyes as she calls out, "You coming?"

He doesn't even try to curb his ridiculous smile as he starts after her. "I always am."


So… I know I labeled this "Complete." And it is complete in the sense that I've posted the stuff that I had mostly drafted already, and in the sense that I haven't left Beckett bleeding out in a cemetery or Kizzy getting diagnosed with rabies or something, and in the sense that I am probably not going to go write another bundle of chapters tonight, at least hopefully, because I really do like to get my sleep. But I am not saying that there will definitely never be any more of this, because it has been a lot of fun, and, I don't know, some of you keep giving me ideas for more things to write about here.