Disclaimer: All Castle characters are the property of Andrew Marlowe and ABC.

Later that day...

This was a bad idea. Quite possibly one of the worst she'd ever had. Sure, it had started as a joke, as her yanking his chain. But what it had turned into was something far more dangerous.

He had wanted to go back to the victim's apartment. Said something felt off. And she trusted his judgment enough to agree. He had an eye for these things, and if something had been nagging at him, it was probably important.

So she agreed, telling him they'd leave as soon as she was able to get a car from the motor pool. Hers was in for maintenance, she reminded him. Or they could take a cab, he'd suggested, eager to see if his hunch had any merit. She shrugged. They could take her bike, she mentioned, completely as a joke, just to tease him.

He got that pleading look in his eyes. That look that she had such a hard time refusing. The look that told her he would be crushed if she said no. And she had been the one to suggest it, hadn't she? She couldn't take it back, not without admitting that she was trying to get a rise out of him.

So she agreed, pulling out the extra half-shell helmet she kept in her desk for when Josh picked her up from work on his bike. He grinned, his eyes lighting up like it was Christmas, and she couldn't help her own small smile—he was just too cute sometimes.

When they got outside, she'd helped him with his helmet and gotten him situated on the bike. She told him where to put his feet, and gave him a few tips for being a good rider: try not to slide forward too much if we have to brake hard, keep your feet up, look over my shoulder in the direction that we're turning so you'll lean with me.

He nodded and said he'd been on a bike a few times, though it had been several years ago. She figured he'd be alright, and the vic hadn't lived far from the precinct, so it wouldn't be a long journey anyway.

Now, though, now she was regretting it. Now she remembered why letting Castle ride on the back of her bike was a bad idea.

His fingers were firm on her hips, and though there was nothing inappropriate in his touch, every time he readjusted his hold, she felt a jolt of electricity shoot up her spine.

This was New York City, and she had to brake suddenly once or twice. Every time, his thighs squeezed tight around her as he braced himself, trying to follow her rules by not crowding her. But his heavier body slid forward nonetheless, and she felt his chest pressing against her back, his heat radiating into her, even through the layers of leather and fabric.

They took a tight turn and he started to lean the wrong direction. He corrected his mistake quickly, but it threw her off balance for a moment, and as soon they pulled up to the next light, she turned to give him a glare.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he chanted, his blue eyes repentant.

She softened a little. Not enough that he would lose his concentration on caution as they rode, but enough that he would know she wasn't really mad at him.

She broke her gaze from his just as they light turned green and they took off again. It was just another few blocks, and she was glad of it.

They made the last turn, and she was grateful that he leaned the right way. His fingers tightened a little against her and when she looked in the mirror, he was smiling over her shoulder, his face happy and relaxed.

She looked away from the mirror and realized they were about to zoom past their destination. She braked, hard, and he wasn't prepared this time.

Inertia carried him onward, propelling his chest once again into her back. Her own reflexes—and his, once he understood what was happening—kept them from toppling, but his weight against her drove her forward. He tried to steady her, his hands gliding from her hips to her waist, slipping just under her jacket, his fingers skating over her belly and drawing her back toward him.

"Sorry, Kate," he said as she pulled off her helmet, his voice low and close to her ear.

She worked to get her breathing under control. Just an adrenaline burst from that brief feeling of falling, she thought.

"It's okay," she answered, turning to look at him and finding him much closer than she expected. "It's my fault. I got distracted."

He didn't speak, but his eyes flicked down to her mouth, and she realized that he was still wrapped around her, his thumbs grazing aimlessly across her ribs, his thighs tight against her hips, his hard chest warm on her back.

She cleared her throat and his focus broke. His hands stopped their movement and he pulled them away, scooting back from her.

"Can I get off now, or do you want to go first?"

She stifled her grin.

"You can get off first."

Carefully, he shifted his hips and then swung his leg over, finding his balance and standing. She followed, securing the bike and coming to stand beside him at the door to the building.

"Helmet," she reminded him and he reddened, reaching up to undo the straps and lift it off.

His normally perfect hair was a mess and before she could stop herself, she found her hands reaching up to smooth it down a bit.

He went completely still under her touch, his eyes drifting shut for just a moment, opening again when her hand dropped to his shoulder for a quick squeeze.

"You know, you're a pretty good passenger, Castle," she said with a smirk.

"Thanks," he nodded. "It was fun. Anytime you wanna go for a ride, let me know. I'd be happy to come with you."

She bit her lip, and arched an eyebrow at him. He blushed and shook his head at her.

"Not what I meant, and you know it. Though I'd be happy to make that offer as well."

She grinned and gave him a slow wink.

"I'll keep that under consideration. Now let's go see what we can find."

He nodded and opened the door, ushering her in with a warm hand on her lower back. He'd done the same thing many times, and she'd gotten used to it. But this time his touch reignited the flames that had died down when they'd dismounted the bike a minute before. She tried-and failed-to suppress a small shiver.

"Cold?" he asked softly as they walked to the elevator.


He didn't reply, but when she looked over at him, she found just a hint of a smug smile on his face.

"Shut up, Castle."

"I didn't say a word, Detective Beckett," he protested, reaching out to push the button for the elevator.

She glanced at him again, and he turned to catch her gaze, his blue eyes sparkling in that way that made her heart flutter in her chest.

"I'm looking forward to our ride back to the precinct," he said, and she felt her eyes widen. "I think I'm really getting the hang of it."

Oh, crap. This really was a bad idea.

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