This is cheating.

It is unequivocally cheating, and Kate's going to kill him.

She'll smile first though, he hopes. No. He knows. He knows she'll smile first. Because, well, it's also kind of adorable.

Giving Minnie a final soft squeeze, he crouches on the floor next to the door to his office. Even in the near darkness he can make out the glare the little creature is sending him, wide green eyes reflecting the light of his own vest. Her ears lay flat against the top of her head, and it's entirely likely that she won't trust him again for weeks.

He thinks this might be worth it.

Besides, he can always lure her back with the sound of the can opener and then reverse his fall from her graces with a little tuna.

The small gray cat looks up at him one more time, lets out a quiet, plaintive mew. He shakes off a frisson of doubt, pats her on the rump, and sends her on her way.

And then he waits.

Peering through the open shelving that separates his office from the rest of the loft, he watches Minnie's progress. She slinks across the space, small body low to the ground, her head turning from side to side, as if she expects to be attacked at any moment. Poor thing. He's probably traumatized her.

He should really-

Oh. Ohhh.

He can see the corner of another vest. Kate's, he thinks. She's sitting, back pressed against the kitchen island.

It could be Alexis, but the angles are wrong. What little of the form he can see looks more like Kate's hard lines.

Rising slowly and carefully from his crouch, he watches as his girlfriend spies the shape moving stealthily across the floor of the living room. She ducks back behind the island for a moment, and he imagines her giving herself a three count.

She's a cop, through and through, a fact that has worked both for and against her in their now numerous laser tag showdowns.

Her aim is deadly, yes. But she's too careful, too accustomed to guns that shoot lethal bullets rather than harmless lasers.

It's why they've always worked well together. His creativity and her pure skill.

Of course, his creativity has gotten them in a few tight spots too over the years, and he's always been grateful for her ability to get him out (and he, of course, has returned the favor - a bottle of champagne and a handful of wires come to mind).

But here, on this battlefield, they're fairly evenly matched most of the time. Still. He's pretty sure she won't have anticipated this particular strategy.

His guy had given him a funny look when he asked, but eventually had just shaken his head, mumbled a 'sure thing, Mr. Castle,' and told him to come back in a few days and he'd have it ready.

Now, now, it's going to pay off.

He keeps his eyes trained on Minnie as she continues to crawl across the floor. And then, in his peripheral vision he sees movement, exactly where he expected to see it.

It's definitely Kate. She leans past the other side of the island where he'd previously seen her, just briefly. And then she barrel rolls, firing as she moves, aiming straight for the glowing form a few feet away.

Just as she lets out a 'HA!' of triumph, he leaps from behind the shelves, and with a single shot to the sensor on her right side, he takes her down.

His maniacal laughter rings through the loft, but a finely-tuned sixth sense has him turning just in time to see his daughter trying to sneak up on him from somewhere near the stairs.

He doesn't have time to get his gun up, but it doesn't matter.

Alexis has made an ill-fated error. She takes one more step, lifts her phaser, and aims.

Her vest dims suddenly, a loud beep echoing between them.


Oh yeah. The auto-fire feature was definitely worth it. Grinning, he watches as his daughter's eyes dart between him, Kate, and the small form on the floor.

Green eyes flash up at them, catching the light of the laser tag vests, giving off an almost otherworldly glow.


The detective's voice is incredulous, and then her gaze rises, lands on the writer. "Castle?"

He lets out an amused laugh, sliding past the trio to flip on the nearest lamp and reveal his handiwork.

"Richard Castle."

Ooh, full name. So hot when she's angry.

He turns, tries to hold back the smirk, but can't quite manage it.

"What-" she begins, shaking her head. "What did you do to our cat?"


*Our* cat.

His heart floods with a sudden warmth, and the restrained smirk turns into a full-blown grin.

"Castle." "Dad."

They're both looking at him with exasperation in their expressions, and Kate has scooped up the little creature from the floor, is stroking the ridge of her nose soothingly while Alexis unfastens the straps on the tiny laser tag vest that he had custom made.

"What?" he says, shrugging as he steps forward to sling his arms over the slim shoulders of the two women he loves most. "Now we're even. Two on two."

the end

Author's note: Just...I don't know. Blame Dave and Karen and giggly podcasts. ;)