Happy birthday, Natalie! I didn't even tell you about this story idea, so it's a REAL surprise! :)

So nobody gets the wrong idea- 1) Josh does not exist in this universe and 2) Castle broke up with Gina after the 10th episode; this one is based on a scene from the 12th episode.

Disclaimer: I would have never thought of putting tension between Castle and Alexis if I owned the show. I'm still not sure if it's a stroke of genius or not, but the DC storyline is long gone and Caskett is doing fine, so I'm perfectly happy with it.


"Dummy."

Castle didn't really just say that, did he? His respect for her abilities as a cop was as obvious as the sexual innuendos he threw about so freely.

"Not you," Castle was quick to clarify. "The-on-in the cockpit. They switched out real Dahl for a dummy doll."

Ah, the case. That made more sense.

Kate mentally sifted through what they knew about Christian Dahl, trying to figure out if Castle's latest theory fit. As Castle continued to explain, Kate realized he was right. It was the link in the chain of events that they needed for everything to make sense.

"That's the magic trick!" he said excitedly.

I can think of another magic trick.

The thought flitted through her mind before she could stop it.

Giving herself a mental smack upside the head, Kate forced her attention back to where it belonged, on the case. Even so, she couldn't stop the brief glance at Castle's lips and the desire to kiss him that had prompted it.

She was just glad that Castle was too focused on the case and the theory he was building to notice. But that meant-

Castle was more focused on the case than she was?

It didn't matter that it was only for an instant, the realization was mortifying. Castle would tease her for weeks if he knew.

Or he might….

"…the same way Tobias Strange made it look like he was still in the cabinet when the swords went in."

Castle's words reminded her of that grizzly scene. Kate had seen hundreds of murder victims after the fact but it was one of the few times she thought she would be witnessing someone's death first-hand. Well, not including the times she and Castle had been in mortal danger.

It was enough to put her attention back where it belonged.

"And then he used the catering box to get the dummy on board and Christian Dahl off," she realized. But that still left the question- "Then who's piloting that plane?"

"Christian Dahl," Castle said. "Only not from the cockpit."

Kate moved closer to the TV where they were watching the footage, searching the scene as Castle fleshed out his theory even further.

And then, in that moment that happened so naturally between them, the theory became theirs.

"And then he detonates the explosion," Kate said and turned her gaze from the screen back to Castle, "and everyone thinks that he's dead because everyone has seen him on board." When Castle turned his own gaze from the TV back to her Kate was startled at how close he was. But Castle wasn't the one who had moved. In moving closer to the TV, she had also moved closer to Castle. Close enough that she would be so easy to just-

"Only Dahl is very much alive, and there's only one person," Castle raised his pointer finger for emphasis, "who knows it."

Kate was barely able to keep her gaze from straying to that finger, although the thought of kissing it-for starters-made her focus waver.

Until she looked directly into his eyes. A fluttering sensation that some would call butterflies but Kate, far less whimsical than that, would just call lust if she called it anything, took residence low in her stomach. Reactions like that happened so frequently anymore that she was almost able to ignore it.

Almost.

"Zalman," Kate stated confidently the name of the one who had helped their suspect, "and as long as he's alive, he's a threat to Dahl."

"So, Dahl has to tie up that one loose end."

The soft, slightly husky tone of Castle's voice as he said the words caused the flutters to speed up and each one to hit with greater force.

"But he can't risk anyone knowing that he's still alive," Kate continued their joint thought. Her body may be reacting to Castle, but her mind was caught up in what had become one of her favorite aspects of her job, building theory. With Castle.

"So Dahl has to kill Zalman himself." That last word was said almost at a whisper.

Kate's breath hitched as she wondered if he would sound that way when-

But, wait.

That look on Castle's face. Like he had unearthed a secret that thoroughly delighted him.

A secret he couldn't wait to tell her.

Something more about the case?

So why didn't he just say it? Murder cases were time sensitive; the longer it took to solve one, the greater the chances that the murderer would get away with the crime.

"What?" she finally pressed him.

He blinked a few times, a flash of disappointment crossing his face before he replied. "Nothing."

Except it wasn't nothing. And Kate was tired of pretending that it was.

It had been over two weeks since Castle had broken up with Gina and many long, lonely months since she had broken up with Tom Demming.

If the 'secret' wasn't about the case there was only one other thing it could have been about.

Her.

Otherwise, Castle would have told her. When Castle got excited like that, he didn't remain silent about the reason. Especially with her.

Exactly how much had she inadvertently revealed to Castle in the last few minutes? As much as she hated the term, she was his muse. Watching her was a large part of his job and the main reason he even came to the precinct. It wouldn't be the first time he'd picked up on subtle clues.

And how subtle had she really been?

This time, Kate wasn't sure. Hiding her feelings for Castle had grown more difficult the closer they grew as friends and, if Kate was completely honest, partners. Because the way Castle worked with her on cases was very similar to the way Ryan and Esposito worked together. Except she and Castle were more in sync.

She wasn't sure she should try to hide her feelings anymore.

Most of her didn't even want to.

"So what do we do now?"

He meant about the case, she knew that. He wasn't even looking at her anymore but back at the TV and the paused image on the screen.

"This." As soon as Castle turned his head back in her direction her lips were on his. His mouth was still under hers until she took the remote out of his hand, tossing it onto the table behind them and placing his hand high on her hip. With a barely audible groan he slid his other hand around her waist and pulled her tight against him. Her lips parted on an involuntary gasp at the contact. She could feel him everywhere. Even where his body wasn't physically touching hers heat emanated from him in soft waves. The flutters in her stomach spread out, moving at hyper-speed and doubling with her every breath.

"Kate," he growled her name against her parted lips, "you better be sure."

The warning caught Kate by surprise. What exactly did he think was going to happen? They were still at the precinct, or had he forgotten that?

The sharp squeeze of her hip that followed when she failed to answer told her he probably had.

Kate didn't answer him in words. Words weren't really her thing.

She just dove in, doing what she wanted.

Within reason. Giving free reign to the longing that had built up over the last few months would have to wait until they were alone without any possibility of interruption. For now she had to tide herself over with kissing him the way she had wanted to for far longer than she would ever want to admit to anyone.

"Is that answer enough for you, Castle?" Kate finally got out, once she was able to speak. She bit her lip to hold in her laughter as she got a good look at the state she had reduced him to. His normally perfectly groomed hair was spiked out in various directions, courtesy of her eager fingers. His jacket was hanging off his shoulders, the shirt underneath twisted at an odd angle, the top two buttons missing.

Oops. Maybe she had overdone it.

Especially considering they were still at the precinct.

She had come dangerously close to forgetting that.

His answer didn't come in words, either. He simply buried his face in her neck, his breathing still heavy, a shudder causing him to softly brush up against her. Once his breathing had slowed back to normal he pressed a small kiss against her throat before backing far enough away that there was a full two feet between them.

"So what's our next step?" he asked, adding when she arched a brow at him, "with the case."

Kate let a small smile full of promise escape before she turned her attention fully back to the case. Work had to come first. But if their theory was right they should be able to wrap that up within the next few hours.

And she was off for the next two days.

She couldn't wait for the chance to finally get to play.


One other thing – I know Kate might/probably wouldn't go this far (not that it's all that far; I only write T-rated stories, after all) at the precinct, but it's just kind of how the story went. And they were sort of secluded where they were in that scene, so…