Even When You Fall Apart

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Castle apart from a season one box set. Song lyrics in the title and at the start of every chapter are from "Bloodstained Heart" by Darren Hayes.

Author's Note: I started writing this a couple of weeks ago. It's actually pretty much finished bar the epilogue I'm planning, because I have a really bad track record with starting and not finishing multi-chapter stories. I've got six chapters, plus an epilogue (big thank you to Tammy for being my first reader, as usual). Essentially, this is my little foray into life after 'the case' is solved. You all know which one I mean. I don't intend to go into a lot of detail about how the case is solved (mainly because I don't really have a theory, credible or otherwise), but there are flashbacks throughout in italics, which will take us back to some moments during the case. I've taken a few liberties, but I hope they'll pay off. No spoilers to look out for because I don't know anything, and this definitely broke from canon well before 47 seconds and the chaos that has ensued. We all need a little bit of happy, every now and again. As always, I would love to hear what you think.

Chapter One

You hit me like a subway train, and I will never be the same
And darling I'll follow you down to the ground

She stands by the railing at the edge of the decking. She is facing away from him, towards the ocean and the slowly setting sun, but he can see even from his position in the doorway that her arms are not tense, knows even from a distance that her knuckles won't be white from the tightness of her grip on the wooden railing, as he became so used to seeing just a few months ago. Instead, her fingers will be loose, curling around the wood in a hold gentle and reminiscent of everything about her that he's fallen in love with.

The knowledge still eases his heart.

Clad in a loose, flowing white vest that's just sheer enough for him to make out the delicate black strings of the bikini she's had on all day, her hair is flowing freely over her shoulders, curling like it does when she lets it dry naturally. It should remind him of unplanned trips into the Hudson, but it doesn't anymore. Now it only reminds him of when she's fresh out of the shower or reclining on a sun lounger after swimming lengths in his pool.

They've been spending a lot of time in the Hamptons recently, and he didn't think it was possible to love her any more but every time he sees her here, sees how she's learning how to be happy and carefree again, he can't help it. He falls in love with her a little more, every time.

Beneath the white vest, hinting tantalisingly at what's beneath, she wears denim cut-offs that are shorter than he thinks he's ever seen before. Or maybe that's just because her legs go on forever. Whichever it is, he's certainly not complaining. She's barefoot, and he can see her toes curling against the wooden decks as the wind blows.

He could spend all day watching her. All day and more, if he's honest.

"I know you're there, you know." Her voice is soft but strong, carried to him by the wind even though she doesn't turn. She always knows. He's not surprised anymore. He steps out onto the deck now, crossing the short distance to her. She turns round when he's only a step away, and her smile is just for him as his hands settle on her waist. She smells like a summer's evening and he breathes it in, commits it all to memory as she stretches on her tiptoes until she can brush her lips against his, lingering for little more than a second before dropping back to the balls of her feet.

Her actions aren't so considered anymore. She doesn't think things through so much before she does them, especially the quick, affectionate gestures like this that she saves solely for him. She nudges him lightly with her hip, and he realises he's been quiet a little too long as she laughs softly.

"Hi," he breathes eventually, which somehow only makes her laugh a little more as she hooks both arms around his neck. She murmurs the greeting back to him as her lips meet his again, lingering for a little longer this time. He slides a hand to the small of her back, fingers slipping comfortably into the small dip there as her teeth nip lightly at his jaw in approval.

"How's Nikki?" she asks softly, moving slightly to rest her forehead against his cheek. When she's barefoot he revels in the height difference (and she's even told him she likes it too, now and then). There's an incredibly affectionate, feminine side to her, beneath that tough cop exterior. He's been witness to her compassion right from the start, but this is something different. This is all woman, and incredibly private. More people see it these days, but they're still a select few, this group of people that she loves with a fierceness that he wishes he could bottle and hopes he returns. When she has to nudge him out of his thoughts again, it's he who laughs.

She knows him well enough not to hold his lack of focus against him when he's been writing for any length of time. When he writes, he loses himself in the detail. It can be his greatest gift and his biggest curse, all at once. He had looked up from his screen fifteen minutes ago to find with genuine surprise that the sun was starting to set, and it's taking him a while to adjust.

"She's good," he offers eventually, forcing himself to focus on her question as he jostles her slightly so he can move to brush a kiss above her ear. She huffs a little at the movement, tightens her arms around his neck for a moment before eventually moving properly to hook them around his waist. He knows she still struggles to hold them above shoulder height for long periods of time, and he lets go of her waist to settle his palms over her shoulders. She all but melts against him in response. "She was thinking about doing some things that were precisely the opposite of good though," he murmurs against her ear, going back to Nikki and laughing as she lightly pinches the skin at his waist.

"If the things she's thinking about even come close to the things I did last night, you know I'll shoot you," she tells him, though the laughter in her voice does make him question her intent just a little.

"What about the things I did to yo…ouch!" He winces as her fingers pinch sharply. "Apples, Kate," he murmurs against her ear. She laughs softly at that, brushing her lips against his chin as her thumb soothes the skin she pinched.

She doesn't have her gun here, anyway. He's not too scared.

"Have I done that yet?" he questions, finally easing his fingers gently into the muscles of her shoulders to try and ease the soreness that still troubles her. She lets out a cross between a purr and a laugh from somewhere close to his ear, and presses the warmth of her lips to the top of his jaw.

"I don't know," she answers, and he feels her lips curl into a smile that tells him she's got something clever to say. "This is the first book you've written since we've been… together, and I told you I don't want to see the manuscript until it's finished." He laughs, hugging her a little closer. She doesn't sound worried, and that's because he has made her a promise that she will still never be anything more than a muse for Nikki.

When it comes down to it, they're actually just as private as each other.

"I'm glad you're writing." She speaks into the silence eventually, reaching up to tug his hand off her good shoulder, cradling it between them as she works her fingers into the delicate, overused muscles there. It has been a while. He's lost count of the amount of deadlines he missed, and he knows this book will be at least a year behind schedule. It's taken him a few months to settle back into his day job, though, and he knows she worries.

"Missing your next Richard Castle fix?" he asks, light and leering and aiming for nothing more than a laugh from her, which she gives him freely. She always does, these days. When she looks up from his hand to meet his eyes though, hers are sparkling.

"I get those every day," she shoots back, meeting him punch for punch with a voice that's soft, but innuendo-laden. He laughs fully, letting her other shoulder go and bracing his hands on the railing behind her because even now, it feels so good to laugh.

They're not okay yet, but they're getting there and this, the banter and the laughter and the love they have for one another is the first step.

"Oh, good answer," he breathes as the laughter subsides, hauling her back into his arms. "You're never going to stop surprising me, are you?" he asks, lifting a hand to run his fingers down her cheek as her eyes soften completely.

"I hope not," she tells him quietly, her lips finding his jaw again as she speaks. "Because it'll never happen the other way round." He doesn't know what to say to that. She's the only person who really ever manages to leave him speechless, and so he settles for trying to tell her everything he's feeling through the touch of his lips against hers. It's slow and languid and breath stealing, and when she eventually pulls away and drops her forehead against his cheek again, she's panting slightly.

That side to him that's inherently masculine still gets a little kick out of knowing that that's entirely down to him. Only him.

"What time is everyone coming tomorrow?" she asks eventually, her fingers gentle at his waist as she leans back against the railing to look up at him.

"Alexis said she and mother are setting off after breakfast, so they should be here by lunchtime," he tells her, brushing the wild curls behind her ears as she smiles. "Is your dad still doing the same?" She nods, her thumb slipping underneath the thin cotton of his shirt and stroking against the waistband of his shorts. It's barely there, but the intimacy still almost takes his breath away.

"He's an early riser," she's speaking again, with a slight quirk to her lips that tells him she did that absolutely on purpose. She gets a kick out of testing his reactions to her, and he loves her for it. "I wouldn't be surprised if he actually beats Martha and Alexis. He's looking forward to seeing the place," she adds with a proper smile. Jim Beckett has been his biggest champion in this relationship and he knows that when they argue, because that was never not going to be the case, it's to Jim that his daughter turns every time.

Because she knows that he will talk her round.

"So family by lunchtime," he continues with a warm smile, rubbing his hands down her arms as a gust of wind chills her. It's almost dark, but he doesn't want to move quite yet. Not when he can keep her warm enough. "The boys and Lanie and Jenny should be here early afternoon."

"Let's just hope that the four of them in a car goes better than the four of them in a restaurant," she murmurs lightly, laughing even though they both know that the four have actually had a lot of successful double dates now. They're her boys. Even though other people find it odd, he knows that the humour the three share is cop code for affection. They've proven that.

That's not to say that she won't hurt the boys and him when they suggest a triple date, though.

"Sure you're ready to unleash Lanie on this place?" she asks softly, with another nudge of her hip to pull him out of his thoughts. "You were there when she saw the pictures, you know she will want to move in." He laughs, because she is talking about the same night he got 'the talk' from her best friend, a talk that was both infinitely sweeter and a hundred times scarier than he was expecting all at the same time.

Yes, he remembers.

"I think I'm ready," he murmurs, laughing. "Anyway, the good Captain said that they would be here mid-afternoon, and I think Jordan was aiming for the same." She shakes her head against him, and he knows that if he could see her face her expression would be incredulous.

"I still can't believe you talked them all into coming," she murmurs. "The look on Gates' face when you invited her was priceless," she adds, laughing. "I couldn't decide if she was going to smack you or tell you to get the hell out of her precinct." He agrees with her wholeheartedly, although he doesn't think she knows that he invited Gates out of the blue like that that just so that she would have something to laugh about. She shivers again, and lays her head against his shoulder when he tightens his arms around her a little.

"Cold?" he murmurs against her hair, smiling as she shakes her head a little.

"I want to stay out here a little longer," she whispers, fisting the back of his shirt gently in her fingers. He slides one hand up to her shoulder to give her the extra warmth he knows she would never ask for, and as he feels her slow, steady breaths against his neck he can't help but let his mind wander back to a scene that will be forever imprinted in his memory as if it were the first chapter of one of his books.

Sometimes he wishes it was, because then they wouldn't have had to live through the rest.

Another sniper case.

It's the only three words he can think as they work the dizzying case that threatens to spin them all off their axis, yet again. He wonders just how these cases manage to follow them around quite like they do, and he knows he's not the only one. There's a tightness to Esposito's jaw and an unnatural stoicism to Ryan's speech that he knows is reflected in his own off-kilter behaviour.

They're all taking it worse this time around.

Except, possibly, for Kate. She has grown since the last stalker case, in small leaps and bounds. She has healed a little further, patched herself together a little more. She has coping mechanisms. She has shared some of them with him as they grow closer, because some of the tools her therapist gives her ask for a second person. Some of them need someone to know what's going on and how to respond.

He knows that every time she shares, she's showing him her feelings in the only way that she knows how. Every time she stumbles over her words as she asks if he'll help her, there's something shining in her eyes that tells him he's the only one she would ever ask.

So in this case, she's coping a little better. Hanging on, by a thread and a couple of hastily scheduled therapy sessions, but hanging on nonetheless.

Until the moment he realises that this time, he doesn't have to say it's about your mother.

This time, he has to say it's about you.

The moment that the words leave his lips, Esposito and Ryan go deadly silent. Kate goes deathly pale, and her eyes slam shut. And then three things happen simultaneously. There is a large, loud commotion by the elevator. A detective yells "Get down!". A shot is fired.

As he raises from his crouch behind the desk and the boys holster their guns, he realises that her coping mechanisms will only get her so far. A gunshot in close range in the middle of a sniper case? That's more than enough to send her cowering underneath her desk, particularly when she has her eyes shut with no prior warning. The boys realise what's happened around the same time that he does, and they step up behind him, forming a tight protective circle in a way that only they know how. He crouches back down, extends his hands under the desk to his partner.

"Kate," he breathes, stopping well before he touches her. "Take a couple of breaths, there's no danger," he tells her quietly. "Reach out and take my hand." He needs to talk to her, but he knows that the movement, the touch, has to come from her.

And eventually she reaches out, catching his fingers in a death grip that's shaking violently. He doesn't say anything else.

By the time she manages to take the second hand he extends to her and lets him help her out from under the desk onto worryingly shaky legs, Gates has stepped out of her office and is observing them quietly. He feels the boys tense a little more, their fierce loyalty shining through, but he knows that Kate and her Captain have somehow managed to develop a mutual understanding where just about everyone else has failed.

He also knows from one glance at her face that Gates already knows.

"My office," she commands quietly, but even though her words are stern her expression is soft. Kate finds the strength from somewhere to nod at the boys, but has to cling onto him to stay upright as they cross the short distance to Gates' office. As he tries to steady her on her collapse into the nearest chair, he thinks he hears the Captain send Ryan for a glass of water, but all he can focus on is the woman struggling to breathe and shaking almost violently next to him and the way it breaks his heart. He lays a hand against her back as she leans forward, arms braced on equally shaky legs and her head dropped low, between her knees.

He says nothing.

Esposito drops into a crouch in front of her with a hand on the arm of the chair, but he too stays quiet. Just breathes, slow and steady. Eventually, he hears Kate start to catch onto Esposito's breathing pattern, her panic starting to recede, and he moves his hand gently against her back in time with every inhale and exhale. He only glances up when he hears movement. Gates is sitting on the corner of her desk, quietly observing the scene before her, and he swings his eyes round further. It's the door opening that he heard, and he watches as Ryan enters with a glass of water, quickly followed by Lanie. His eyes lock with the ME, and they nod quietly as he rubs his thumb a little more firmly against Kate's back, trying to alert her of Lanie's presence before she startles her. Lanie passes a hand over Esposito's shoulder briefly and takes a seat on the other side of Kate, careful not to touch her.

She knows. He didn't have to worry.

He doesn't know how much time passes in the strange silence that settles over them, their funny little family, but Kate has all but drained the glass of water and is sitting a little straighter in her chair when they're interrupted by a sharp knock on the door that sends her back down over her knees again as she struggles to catch her breath.

"Easy, Detective." Gates speaks surprisingly quietly, her words meant for Kate as she gestures for whoever is on the other side of the door to enter. Rick looks up, only to be greeted by an unfamiliar black man in a suit. One glance at the boys tells him they're just as in the dark as he is. "Detectives, I would like you to meet Special Agent in Charge, Marcus Gates, FBI. Marcus," she pauses, and the familiarity there is clear for them all to see. "Detectives Ryan and Esposito," she sweeps a hand in their direction, "Dr Parish, one of our ME's, Detective Beckett," she pauses, but Kate doesn't even lift her head. He eases his fingers against her back a little more, doing the best that he can to help her fight the struggle to control her breathing. "Mr Castle," Gates finishes, with a nod to him.

"Detectives, Doctor… Mr Castle," Marcus Gates greets, with a genuine smile at their multitude of titles that suggests it isn't the first time he's heard of them. Gates's husband combines authority with a calm, easy-going manner like it's effortless and somehow Rick already knows that he's going to like this man. "I've heard a lot of good things about you all, although I can't say it's a pleasure to meet you under these circumstances."

"I've filled Marcus in on your current case and the implications of its current development," Gates tells them. He had been in so very over his head with Smith, and his secrets had come out not only to Kate, but also to the boys and to Gates. There had been no other option. "I've asked the FBI for their assistance, given the… delicate nature of the case. Beckett," she speaks quietly, the tone of her voice softening considerably as Kate startles a little at her name. "It's your call, Kate. I'll let you and your team run point on this one if you think you can handle it, but I want you to think about taking a step back in the investigation. I'm not asking you to stand down," she adds hastily, feeling the force of their collective glare. "I understand that all of you need to be a part of this, but your safety is most important to me. All of you," she adds. "And if that's the decision that you make, Marcus has bought one of his best agents along to run the investigation with him."

"I understand she won't need any introductions here," Marcus Gates adds as the door opens, having gestured with a sharp flick of his wrist.

"I try to make it a rule never to work with the same group of detectives twice," comes a distinctly familiar voice. His head snaps up in time with Ryan and Esposito's.

Jordan Shaw.

"Detectives, Mr Castle," she acknowledges, with a nod at the boys and himself respectively. "Seems you're your team is determined to stop all over my best laid rules. Captain Gates, it's a pleasure," she continues, calmly shaking the hand of her boss's wife before finishing. "Kate."

"Jordan." When Kate raises her head to greet the other woman she's pressing her fingers into her closed eyes to hold back tears in a gesture that has to hurt, and he does the same into the small of her back. She feels like something close to defeat, but when she leans back into his hand just a little, something inside him glues back together.

"Kate, I know this is a personal one. Whatever your decision, I'll respect that." He feels her nod at Jordan's words, and he can tell the moment when their eyes meet. Her whole body goes rigid for a long moment, before she slumps over again, her head in her hands.

The silence in the room feels brittle, and when he looks around the room he notices that Lanie is close to tears too. With a quick nod to Esposito he solves that problem, watching quietly as Javier lays a hand on her shoulder, standing tall under the Captain's knowing gaze. Ryan crosses his arms over his chest as his partner moves, defiantly loyal.

Both turn their gaze to Kate, and then to Castle after a moment, the concern etched in their eyes when she doesn't look up nothing short of brotherly. He knows that Gates can't be blind to any of this, because somehow, no matter how close the past four years have brought them, they've never felt more like a family than this.

"So what's it to be, Detective?" the Captain asks eventually, breaking the silence. There's a long moment where Kate doesn't move, and neither do they. Slowly though, she raises her head, her focus settling on a spot over all their heads.

"I want to be there," she says eventually, and it's not until she squeezes, hard, that he even realises she's gripping his hand. "This is my case and I want in. More than in," she adds, her tone firm even though he can feel her shaking. Esposito and Ryan take a collective breath, ready to stand with her in the decision it sounds like she has made. They shoot him surprised, almost betrayed looks when he doesn't move, but there's something in the way she's gripping his hand that makes him wait. Eventually, his patience pays off. "But…" Her voice cracks painfully, and he wants nothing more than to take her in his arms and make it all go away.

The boys suck in a sharp breath, Lanie sits up a little straighter in her chair, and he finds that he doesn't have a clue what to say.

"Then let's get to work."

And with five calmly spoken, authoritative words, he knows they all breathe out with one collective thought. Thank god for Jordan Shaw.

When he manages to drag his mind back to the present, to the warm but shivering woman in his arms, he can't help but let out a shuddering sigh. Her fingers flatten against his back in a silent response, and the simple fact that she doesn't make him speak, that somehow she knows exactly where his mind wandered tells him how far they've come.

It's one of the 'better' memories that they have anyway, although he knows that she doesn't remember very much of the worst day. He fists his fingers in her top as her out of control, panicked breathing flashes through his mind again, and she presses her lips just underneath his jaw, almost sensing that he needs to feel her steady, even breaths against his skin. She feathers a gentle series of kisses along his jaw until he relaxes his hold on her. It's another one of those quiet, intimate gestures that she doesn't think twice about anymore, and it grounds him.

She shivers again, and as he feels it shake her entire body he shifts a little, so her slight frame is shielded a little more by his body. She shakes her head a little until she realises that he isn't moving to go inside, and then he feels her burrow a little further into his arms, like a small animal seeking warmth.

He never imagined that she would be so affectionate, so tactile, back when the only thing he could do was sit on a chair next to her with a hand on her back.

They weren't together, back then.

It's been six months since they closed the case, since they finally caught the people responsible. Five and a half months since he brought her out here to the Hamptons for the first time. Five since he kissed her for the first time that counted. Three, since she went back to work.

One week, since the trial that ended with a unanimous guilty verdict.

They came out to the Hamptons the morning after and have been here all week. She isn't allowed back to the precinct for another week, at least. Her therapist thinks she should tack a third week on the end of that, and he knows that she's actually considering it even though she feels strangely disconnected from the job that she loves. The job that she still loves, even though what she came to do is done.

When all is said and done, she's still a detective. He knows that she always will be.

"Stop thinking so much," she murmurs against his jaw eventually, breaking the silence. He chuckles softly, turning to press a kiss to her temple.

"Thinking about you," he murmurs, laughing as she socks him in the arm. She doesn't like it when he's cheesy, and he does it deliberately to get a smile or a laugh out of her. Most of the time, anyway.

"So if no one's getting here until lunchtime, you're saying we don't have to get up early?" she asks once she's controlled her laughter, tilting her head up to look at him as she goes back to their earlier conversation.

"Why detective," he murmurs, delighting in the spark that flashes through her eyes, "should I infer from that that your intentions tonight are less than pure?"

"What makes you think my intentions are just for tonight?" she teases, laughing at what he can only assume is the look of sheer delight in his eyes. Her fingers settle on his chest as she speaks, and he catches them with his own.

"God, I love you," he murmurs, drawing her hand up so he can press a kiss against her knuckles. Her smile as she whispers the words back lights up her entire face, and he wraps his arms as tight around her as he can.

"You know, there's that bottle of champagne in the fridge that we forgot all about last night," he murmurs against her ear, keeping her close to his body.

"Can't think why," she laughs against his chest, nuzzling into him a little.

"Oh you know exactly why," he counters proudly, revelling in the laughter she continues. "Why don't we head inside and open it while I cook? I'll even make your favourite."

"Are we celebrating something?" she asks softly, hooking her arms around his neck again as she kisses him.

"You know we are."

Her head is resting in the crook of his elbow as they lie on the couch. He's not paying any attention to the movie playing on the flat screen in front of them, and from the way that her head is tilted slightly towards him and away from the screen, he doesn't think she is either. Her eyes are heavy lidded, but he doesn't think she's quite asleep yet, her breathing hasn't quite steadied enough. Testing her, he runs the pad of his thumb over the soft skin of her shoulder. She lets out a small puff of air, stretches her legs almost imperceptibly and reaches her hand up to tangle her fingers with his, pulling them away from her shoulder a little.

"Sorry," he murmurs, smiling as she wrinkles her nose a little and ends up tucking herself a little closer into his side. She's adorable when she's sleepy and relaxed like this, not that he ever tells her that. He knows that she can probably see it in his eyes, but she doesn't seem to mind and he's wise enough to stop when he's ahead.

"Tickles," she offers sleepily, stretching her legs out so her toes brush against his calf for a moment. He didn't really have this in mind when he designed the living room – in fact, he'd been young and impressionable and the pair of couches that were so big they could double as beds had been fashionable and expensive and he'd just had to have them. As he grew up and re-designed though, the couches stayed. He loves them and Alexis loves them, and he even has a vivid memory of his daughter threatening him in an impressively menacing tone when he remodelled the summer of her seventh birthday and briefly considered new furniture. So, while it's a little more minimalist now, that overriding feeling of comfort and familiarity remains. It's felt like a balm for both their souls every time they've escaped or hidden out here, but somehow he knows that this moment right now, this is why he kept the couches, even if he didn't know it at the time.

"Don't you fall asleep on me now," he tells her, running his thumb along her knuckles soothingly. It's the same trick she used out on the deck earlier, the same one that she has learnt to use on the rare occasions when a writing binge has hit him. Her fingers go satisfyingly limp in his hand as she shifts a little again.

"Not," she mumbles, a smile crossing her lips. "Just resting. I've got plans for you, remember?"

"Oh, I remember," he laughs, brushing his lips against her forehead. "Generally I'm a fan of you being a little more awake for those sort of plans, though." His teasing gets him the desired effect as her knee connects with his thigh and she opens wide, sleepy eyes to glare at him.

"I do not fall asleep," she huffs, laughter in her voice. "Your fault, trying to get me drunk. You know red wine makes me sleepy." He does know that, and he can't help his answering smirk. "See, you've got that look in your eyes." Preparing dinner had been a lengthy process. He had refused to let her help, but hadn't complained when she hopped up onto the counter with her glass of champagne and kept him company. It did mean that they finished the bottle of champagne quicker than he was expecting, which led to them opening a bottle of her favourite red wine to go with dinner.

Which, ultimately, led to the sleepy version of Kate Beckett in his arms.

He's not quite ready to let her go to sleep just yet though.

"You know, we could always christen that awesome new shower," he murmurs against her ear, delighting in the shiver he gets in response. "Might wake you up a little," he adds, teasing.

"Always trying to get me into bed," she murmurs, stretching up and bracing her hand carefully on the other side of his body to kiss him. She's definitely waking up, and he circles an arm loosely around her waist to keep her there and relaxed and flirting with him like she is. "Besides, I distinctly remember taking a shower this morning," she adds cheekily, her eyes sparkling.

"Not the same," he almost growls, laughing softly as she settles against his chest. "You wouldn't let me in with you," he adds grumpily, laughing as her smile grows a little further.

"Doesn't change the fact that I already took a shower today," she murmurs, brushing a series of fleeting kisses against his lips.

"I think you're underestimating the importance of cleanliness," he tells her seriously, pausing for a moment as she nuzzles against his ear. "Besides, it has a dual showerhead and like a million different settings, and gadgets Beckett," he adds, excited. It is a really, really cool shower, after all.

"Rich boy," she mocks, light and teasing as she kneels up, extending her hands to him. "And don't call me Beckett when you're trying to get me into bed… or the shower, whatever," she murmurs.

"It has gadgets, Kate," he amends quickly, grinning as he sits up, hooking his arms round her waist. "Really, really cool gadgets."

"For the record, gadgets," she tells him, all seriousness and sparkling eyes, "not the way into a girl's pants."

"Really?" he asks, because now he actually does have the upper hand. "That's not what you said the other week when I found that toy in your bedside dra– ouch!"

"Shut up and get in the shower before I change my mind."