A/N: Set during season 1, after "Little Girl Lost." Spoilers for that episode & "Ghosts."

Disclaimer: Please. If I owned 'em I'd just screw 'em up.

Thank you to the Anon who corrected my word misusage. :)

For Kelly.

"Not scared of a little action, are you?"

"Ying-yang is harmony. Ying-ying is… a name for a panda."

Shaking her head, Beckett began gathering stuff from her desk. "Any more wisdom, Obi Wan?"

"Nope, that's it for today," Castle stood as he continued, "What do you say we celebrate by going out for a drink?"

She knew he'd tried to make asking her out sound as casual as possible, thrown in at the last second, like he couldn't be bothered with the answer one way or the other. It was time to call his bluff this time.

"Alright, Castle," she replied, watching his face do its best job not to look too surprised. "But I want more than a drink."

His eyes widened as she moved closer, his bravado fading faster than the moisture from his mouth. "You, ah… umm… more?" His voice wavered as he narrowly avoided squeaking out the words.

She licked her lips, watching his eyes flicker down to her mouth before roaming back to her face. "I want a rematch from the other night."

"Rematch?" As his confusion faded, the corners of his mouth tugged into a smile. "Oh, you mean when I beat your pants off and stole all your gummy bears."

Narrowing her eyes at him, she stepped even closer. "Rematch, Castle."

Gathering all his remaining courage, he puffed out his chest. "No. Drinks."

"What, are you afraid I might beat your pants off this time?" They were standing way too close, but she couldn't give in to this now electrically-charged staring contest. She had him against the ropes, could see the blood rushing to his face, see his eyes widen as she mentioned anything having to do with his pants.

Finally, he blinked, breaking the spell, at least temporarily.

"Okay, Detective. A rematch." She smiled and reached for her coat as he continued, "And drinks."

He cut her off before she could protest. "After all, if I'm going to lose my pants, it's only fair that I'm drunk at the time."

He ignored her slacked-jawed glare as he brushed past her, an unnecessary move, since he then had to make a sharp right toward the elevator.

He'd somehow convinced her that his apartment was better than any bar. Higher-quality booze selection, an available poker table and chips, and a third reason he didn't mention, but she suspected was high on the list anyway: privacy.

Castle continued with his jabs about Sorenson in the elevator up to the apartment, and Beckett rolled her eyes and sighed at his obvious insecurities, which of course he vehemently denied. Mr. Page Six, with his perfect hair and hypnotic baby blues, couldn't possibly be jealous of anyone when he could pull out one of probably numerous black books and have any number of floosies available for "fun" whenever he wanted.

And yet she knew there was more to him than that; something shone through in his eyes during some of their conversations, and she felt it deep in her bones, the feeling that even though he liked her, the fact that he wanted to know her was much more revealing. And the fact that thinking about him with his floosies made her jealous was even more revealing, but she tried not to give any credence to that.

It was this last remnant of thought that ran through her mind as his voice snapped her from her reverie.

"Hello? Beckett?" He stood there in the kitchen, laying several bottles of liquor out on the counter. "I was asking what do you felt like drinking. I've got Scotch—single malt, of course—tequila—the good stuff, Beckett, I swear you could sip this stuff—wine, vodka—"

"Tequila's fine. But I'm not doing shots, Castle."

He grinned. "Nah, not with this stuff. You are going to love this." Pulling out two small tumblers, he opened a bottle of Agavero and poured a healthy amount in each glass. "Remember to sip."

He clinked their glasses in a toast and then took a slow taste of the amber liquid, watching Kate closely as she did the same. She made a moan of approval as the warmth slipped down her throat, and then licked her lips as she nodded.

"Okay. That's pretty good."

"Told ya," he replied, taking the bottle with him as he moved to the poker table in the living room.

Well, this just wasn't fair.

His chip stack far outweighed hers, his victorious grin annoyed her, and after two healthy servings of sipping tequila, she was too buzzed to think of the right barbed words to tell him how unfair it was that she was losing this rematch. She was honestly too distracted by his stubble right now, and that annoyed her even more, her chin falling onto her hand as she was forced to fold. Again.

She exhaled in a huff of thinly-veiled frustration, blowing a lock of short hair out of her eyes.

"Good thing we're playing with chips, Beckett, or my huge stack of gummy bears would be melting onto my nice table."

Ugh. Arrogant bastard. Did he just wink at her?

"I still have my gun, you know."

If she only knew how turned on that made him.

His arm folded in the latest pot of chips and he began adding them to his existing pile. "Now, now, don't be a sore loser. I'm just used to playing for higher stakes, that's all. Gives me a competitive advantage."

Her head popped out of its cradle in her palm. "Are you for real, Castle? I don't know about high stakes? I'm a cop—"

"And it's your turn to deal." He interrupted quietly, patiently stacking up his latest chips, purposely avoiding eye contact with her as a smug grin grew on his lips.

Shaking her head, her eyes narrowed to slits. "You…conceited…self-centered…obnoxious…condescendi ng—"

"I know; I'm a pain in the ass." This time he looked right at her, his eyes teasing, challenging, loving how he'd been able to push her buttons.

He wanted to push all of them.

The room grew quiet as her liquor-slowed mind churned, her eyes never leaving his as she started to smile, ever-so slowly.

"Alright, Castle. How about we really up the stakes, then?" Her eyebrows raised along with his as he fingered the deck of cards distractedly.

"What'd you have in mind?"

Her voice lowered, rough with tequila and sex. "Your mom's favorite poker game."

His brows knit as he tried to follow. "My mom's—"

"Strip." She put extra emphasis on the "p" as the word popped from her lips.

The arrogance in his eyes soon gave way to total surprise, his mouth suddenly dry as he cleared his throat.

"You… want to play strip poker." He was mostly just repeating it aloud for his own benefit. "Beckett, are you drunk?"

"Afraid you'll lose?" Her mouth twitched, shooting a charged warmth straight to his groin.

"Not at all. Even when you lose, you win." The gravel in his voice raised the skin on the back of her neck, and she fought to keep the blush from her cheeks.

Were they really doing this?

"Hmm," she answered vaguely. "I think you're afraid I'll beat your pants off."

There's no way she could hide the blush this time, nor the quickening of her pulse. She didn't care because he seemed just as aroused.

He handed her the deck of cards, sliding a finger over hers as he deposited them in her palm. "I'm counting on it."

"Castle, no."

"Oh, c'mon."


"The rules were never specified."


"Sorry, but if you don't specify—"

"Ugh. Fine. Cheater."

Leaning down beneath the table, he emerged a moment later holding up his shoe, which he then dramatically dropped with a thud, earning an eyeroll from his opponent.

"Shoes are clothing, Beckett."

"They are so not."

"Are too. Yours are most definitely part of your warddrobe."

She sighed loudly. He was even having fun when he was losing. "Just deal the damn hand, Castle."

Before she knew it, she was minus both heels, her jacket, and her sweater, left wearing a solid cotton camisole. She was better off than he was, though—he was down to his t-shirt, pants, and one bare foot, having won the "Each sock counts as one item!" battle earlier in the night.

By the time she'd won another hand and his other sock was peeling off, they'd forgone the table for sitting on the floor in front of his fireplace, and she suddenly realized that this plan of getting Richard Castle drunk in his apartment while playing strip poker had most definitely backfired on her.

She knew this the moment her eyes stared too long at his neck when he sipped at his drink, his adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed. She absently wondered what that neck would feel like under her tongue, imagining a salty tang and rough stubble scraping her cheek. He'd probably let out a soft moan as she ran her lips across his throat, and she could feel the heat pool between her legs as she imagined it playing out.

The vee of his shirt did nothing to quell this latest round of thought, and she caught a glimpse of the base of his neck, of the spot between his collarbone. The shadows from the fire gave its movements increased depth and texture, drawing her in even more.

"Why, Kate Beckett, are you staring at my suprasternal notch?"

Her eyes snapped up to see him leering at her.

"What? No. No. Please. What the hell, Castle, I don't even know what a suprawhateverthehellyoucalledit is." Damn, her words were slurred, even she could hear it.

Re-fanning the two cards in his hand, he grinned. "Suprasternal notch. Are you going to try and tell me you've never watched The English Patient?"

She was beyond flustered now, the tequila clouding her ability to sass him as quickly as usual. "What? Please."

"Oh, come on. Every woman I've ever known has seen that movie, and every man who's ever been forced to watch it knows exactly what I'm talking about. Deal the flop, please."

Blinking rapidly, she flipped the new cards over, not even seeing them clearly at this point, too disconcerted with how out of control this situation had become.

Running a finger over the top of his cards, he watched her for a moment before setting his down on the floor so he could move closer to her.

She watched him out of the corner of her eye as he crawled across the carpet, pretending not to care how close he was getting. "You're drunk, Castle." She stated bluntly, staring at her cards at she let out a nervous laugh.


He was close now; she could feel his breath on her hair.

"Or maybe not drunk enough…"

She made a light gasp when he suddenly touched her, running his finger down her neck so lightly it gave her goosebumps. As he brought his hand around to the front of her throat, tingles spread all the way up her scalp and down to her toes. Her whole body was vibrating and all he'd done was touch her with one finger.

He paused when he got to the base of the front of her throat, dipping his finger into the hollow there.

"This is it right here," he whispered, staring at the spot. "The suprasternal notch."

Without even glancing at her first, his head moved down to press lips his lips lightly to the hollow, feeling her pulse just below the skin. He couldn't help it when his tongue snaked out to taste her. It was even better than he'd imagined.

Her breath was coming in puffs, her hands frozen, not knowing what to do. But when the warm wetness of his tongue hit her skin, she moaned, her brain shutting down all rational thought as she gripped the back of his head, threading her fingers through his perfect, arrogant hair.

He was thoroughly kissing her throat now, his lips warm and soft as he made his way up the side of her neck, leaning her back the further along he went. By the time he reached her jawline, she was lying on the floor, his body half covering hers, his hair still entwined in her fingers.

His hands finally joined the action, reaching across her to slip slowly under the hem of her shirt, skirting against the soft skin of her stomach. One of her hands joined his, running over the hair on his forearm.

After a moment, his movements slowed, and she could feel his breath on her face. Opening her eyes, she saw him hovering above her, a sweet reverence in his eyes despite his intoxication.

He smiled down at her, and she leaned up to press her lips to his.

Oh, this was not supposed to be happening. He was not supposed to be making out with Kate Beckett on the floor of his loft, and yet…here they were, her tongue curling against his own, nibbling on each other's lips, hands against skin, pulses racing.

He knew he was drunk, and normally that alone would be reason enough to stop, but he knew they were both under the influence, and this felt too good to stop right now. He wanted to taste her just a little bit longer. She was making sounds he'd never heard from her before and he never wanted her to stop.

Just a few more minutes. Then he'd stop. He promised.

Somehow his leg slipped between hers as they'd rolled around on the floor, and she now found herself grinding against it with embarrassing abandon, her hips moving of their own volition as they sought pressure and friction.

He broke briefly from her lips and inhaled deeply, meeting her half-open eyes before diving in again. God, her mouth. He never wanted to stop kissing her.

Shifting above her, he settled in between her legs, drawing a groan from them both as he pressed his hips against hers.

"Oh, God..." she breathed when his arousal pressed against her groin.

She was so hot, her skin on fire, her blood boiling, the tequila warming her senses and dulling her brain.

They should stop. They needed to stop.

"Ca…Castle…" she managed between kisses, her hands leaving his hair to fist in his t-shirt.

He abandoned her lips once more to return to his new favorite place on her body: her aforementioned notch. His hair tickled her cheek and she gasped, pulling him away.

"Wa—wait." She heard herself say. Swallowing, she finally found her voice. "Stop."

He froze immediately, raising his head from her neck and leaning on his elbows. "Did I hurt you?"

His concern made her smile, along with his mussed hair and swollen lips. "No. Just…I think we should stop."

After a moment, he nodded, exhaling as he rolled onto his back. "No, of course. I'm sorry."

His apology was sincere but she could feel the rejection. "Castle, it's not that I don't…" she turned her head to look at him, but he continued to stare at the ceiling. "I think I'm just too drunk."

"Oh, I know you're drunk."

She pursed her lips, grateful that they could have a moment of levity in the face of this potentially volatile situation.

"That was your plan all along, was it?" she asked, rolling to her side and leaning up on her elbow.

He finally turned to her. "This?" he waved a hand between them, indicating what had just happened. "No. But beating you at poker? That was definitely my plan."

She smacked him in the arm and he held onto her hand, finding her eyes with his.

"Next time, Castle… I promise to beat your pants off."