"Look... I know that I'm not the easiest person to get to know. And... I don't always let on what's on my mind... but... this past year, working with you... I've had a really good time."
"Yeah. Me too."
"So... I-I'm just gonna say this, and whatever happens, happens, you know?"
Castle tilted his head quizzically, but nodded. "All right."
Taking a breath, Beckett dropped her gaze down to her beer bottle, fiddling with it for a moment before looking back up. "I broke up with Tom," she started, watching the surprise bloom across Castle's face. "I realized that... he wasn't what I wanted. He wasn't who I wanted."
"What do you want?" Castle asked, not touching the who part of the equation.
"Espo said it wasn't about research anymore," Beckett said, her tone soft, almost musing as she changed the subject. "That you've been following me long enough to have research for fifty books. He's right, isn't he? I just never saw it. I guess I didn't want to."
Castle stayed silent, waiting for Beckett to get to the pinnacle of her little monologue.
Running a hand thought her hair, Beckett sighed. "I guess what I'm trying to say is... I see it now, Rick. I see why you're here, why you stick by me. And... I'd like it a lot if you stuck around longer."
"Kate..." Castle reached one hand out, fingertips resting against Beckett's forearm for a moment before sliding up, his palm flat against her skin, fingers curling around her arm.
"I just want you around, Castle," she whispered, looking up at him. "I don't want you to walk away because I was stupid enough to try to be with another guy." She watched pain flash across his face before being forced away. Her voice lowered further, barely audible as she admitted, "I don't want any other guy."
Castle swallowed hard, forcing down the lump that insisted on forming in his throat. "Kate," his voice was little more than air, and he cleared his throat, repeating her name. "I don't want anyone else, either."
Beckett smiled, relief blossoming within her, and she reached one hand out, setting her beer on the desk beside them before taking a half step forward.
Taking the invitation for what it was, Castle let his hand slip higher up Beckett's arm, fingers curling around her elbow, his other hand resting on her hip, guiding her forward. She came willingly, one hand at his ribs, the other trailing up his arm to settle at his shoulder.
In the corner of her eye, Beckett could see her boss and coworkers standing at the window, watching unashamedly. Then Castle's fingers tightened at her hip and he drew her closer, and as she watched his head dip, she realized she didn't care. Let them watch.
His lips brushed hers, testing and teasing, and she leaned into him, deepening the kiss.
When they parted, Beckett grinned at him, wide and happy, and Castle returned the expression. "Shall we rejoin the party?" he asked, his voice lighter than it had been in the last day and a half.
"Yeah," Beckett sighed, kissing him again, little more than a chaste press of lips, before stepping back and picking up her beer again. "Let's get back," she agreed, sliding her fingers through his as she turned back to the conference room.