"No problem, Castle. It's what partners are supposed to do."


She swivels around mid-stride, surprised by his voice. The two syllables that spill from his lips brings a smile to her face, a flutter in her heart and she shoots him a modest grin when she finally meets his tentative gaze. He's still doubled over, clutching the middle of his body but he tries to stand, wincing as he does so.

"Yeah, Castle?"

He wheezes a few times, still catching his breath and then gingerly sidles up close to her. "Um, about what you said, at the overpass. Look, I – "

"Don't worry about it, Castle. No big deal. Slaughter's probably going to put in a word with the Chief of Detectives and we'll be alright," she says, pre-empting whatever speech he's got prepared. She sees a pained expression cross his face for a fleeting moment though and she reaches out to touch his arm, hoping it's enough to subdue whatever it is he's feeling.

"I just … you were willing to give up your – this is your job we're talking about. You shouldn't … shouldn't need to make that decision ever. Especially not because of my stupidity or recklessness," Castle says as he breathes heavily into the quiet precinct atmosphere. "I don't want you to lose your job."

She pulls her lower lip between her teeth, silently contemplating his words. Yes, the thought did run through her mind the moment she decided she was going to stick her nose into Slaughter's case. But she'd seen Castle's nosebleed, his look of terror as he stepped out of the precinct – he was her partner for God's sake and she was damn well going to do everything she can to help him.

"My job … honestly was never really on the line," she mutters. "I mean, c'mon Castle. You've got good instincts, we've got good instincts. We were always going to get the guy, so really – nothing was going to happen to me or my job, so don't worry, okay?"

She sees him visibly relax and grins. "Besides, I couldn't let you and Slaughter have all the fun, could I? Prepping for trials makes me antsy for some action, you know that."

"I just … god, Beckett. I feel like an ass, like a … a – and you, sometimes you confuse me so much and –"

She cuts him off mid-tirade, not quite sure if she's ready to hear the rest of what seemed to be the start some sort of confession and she hugs him. Really hugs him, arms tight around his neck, their bodies pressed close together, thighs melding into one another. He reaches around her, enveloping her in a warmth so welcome that she never wanted to leave his embrace.

"I'm sorry," he whispers into her hair. "I'm so sorry, Kate."

She nods, her face smushed against his neck and she inhales his sweet scent. "I'm sorry too, Castle. For what it's worth, I'm so sorry."

They stand like that for a while, their apologies floating in the air around them as they shift into a more comfortable place in their relationship. He's not sure what he's apologising for, and truth be told, neither is she – but they knew it's what they both needed. There's an undercurrent of tension that remains between them, she knows he's still trying to distance himself from her and at some point in the near future she's going to make sure they address that particular elephant in the room. She clutches the back of his shirt a little tighter as the thought crosses her mind. She's so not looking forward to that. At this particular moment in time though, they're good. Or at least she thinks they're good. It's comfortable and nice, wrapped up in their own world, their two hearts beating in symphony against each other's chests. Somehow, it's perfect and just enough.

For now.