"There's so much mud, Beckett."

She turns to look at her partner, rolls her eyes. "Thank you. I can always count on you to point out the obvious."

"Just sayin'," he murmurs, and she immediately regrets the harshness of her tone.

"Hey, I'm sorry," she says quietly, bumping her shoulder gently against his. "It's just-"

He dismisses her apology. "No explanation needed. Frustrating day all around."

"Yeah," she sighs. "Definitely a frustrating day. I can't believe we went through all of that and he wasn't even our guy."

He shakes his head. "I know. I thought for certain-"

"Me too."

"Well, at least Ryan and Esposito had better luck," the writer says brightly. "So even if *we* didn't catch him, there's another killer off the streets."

She smiles. He's right of course. Even if their half of the team became a casualty of the day, in the end all that matters is that the murderer got caught.

"Hey, you know what I bet would make today a little more fun?" he asks after a moment.

"Mm, what?"

He lifts an eyebrow, smirks. "Getting all this mud off."

"Would it now?" she drawls, returning his raised eyebrow. "And how exactly do you think we should go about doing that?"

He shrugs nonchalantly, but she can see the excitement in his eyes. "I saw a place a little way back in that last town we passed."


"Yeah," he continues. "I mean, it looked pretty good. We could go there."

She looks at him for a moment. Does she really want to-

"We should probably just head back, Castle," she says finally. "I still have paperwork to do and the boys will be waiting for us."

He lifts his hands in supplication. "It won't take long. I promise."

She purses her lips. "I don't-"

He tilts his head, his eyes widening. Oh jeez. How is she supposed to resist that face?

"Please, Kate."

Oh, and the first name too. That's playing dirty.

Ha. Well, dirty is kind of why they're discussing this in the first place, isn't it?

"I don't really want to spend any money, Castle," she points out. "Not when we could just go back and-"

"No, no," he says, shaking his head vehemently. "My treat. Besides, this place had the prices posted on their sign. It was pretty cheap."

She pulls her bottom lip between her teeth, scrunches her nose a little. "I don't know. Sometimes you get what you pay for with these places."

His shoulders slump, the light in his eyes dimming a little. "Yeah. Yeah, you're probably right."

Oh. She didn't want to- oh... all the little boy excitement is gone. She feels like she might as well have kicked his puppy.

"You know- okay," she sighs. "Let's go find this place."

His whole expression brightens, his posture straightening immediately. "Really?"

She nods. "Yeah. Yeah, you're right. It'll be fun. Been awhile since I've done that."

He grins at her, and her stomach flips.

"Best...partner...ever..." he says, his voice hushed, wonder infusing his words. "Thank you."

"Not that big a deal, Castle," she says, laughing as she jabs him lightly in the side with her elbow. "Besides, I've always liked the smell of that soap they use."

His head bobs, eyes crinkling. "I know right? And when it all cascades down the windshield? All those colors. I've always thought there was something magical about a drive-through car wash."

She shakes her head as she starts the engine. He's practically vibrating with excitement in the passenger's seat. She glances over at him, meeting his vibrantly happy blue eyes. A fluttery feeling suddenly appears in her chest, and she smiles back at him, hopes she doesn't sound too breathless. "Yeah. Magical."

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