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

Best. Idea. Ever.

Somehow he'd managed to fluster her. The normally stoic detective was off balance. And he'd caused that. Usually it was the other way around, he mused. Usually she was the one to distract him, to leave him a little addled by her teasing.

Though she'd gotten to him for a moment, he had seemingly turned the tables. And with a simple touch to her lower back, something he'd done dozens of times? That made it even better.

He watched as she fumbled a little with the keys to the apartment, her normally graceful hands having turned into butterfingers.

Reaching a hand out, he felt her hand freeze under his.

"Allow me," he said, and was it his imagination or did his voice sound deeper than usual?

She turned a glare on him, but he took the keys and opened the door, his palm once again coming up to meet her back and guide her through the portal. She paused, and he gave her the slightest nudge.

He hoped that her pride, her inability to admit when something was affecting her, would hold today. Because if she didn't say anything, he knew he could keep pushing her. Nothing overt, nothing too far out of the ordinary for them. Just a brush of the shoulders here and there, a spark between their fingers as he passed something to her. Everyday things that always had an effect on him, but had never seemed to move her in the least. Until now.

They entered the apartment and split up.

"So what exactly are we looking for, Castle?" she asked as he walked around the living room.

"I'm not sure," he responded. "Something just felt off the other day."

Something had been off. A coworker had come to check on her when she didn't show up for work, entering the apartment with the building super. They found her sprawled on the living room floor and immediately called the police. When they'd arrived, the scene was spotless. There had been nothing to suggest forced entry, nothing to suggest a visitor, nothing to suggest that the dead woman had not simply collapsed from a heart attack. Except there were marks around her neck that Lanie said indicated she'd been strangled.

Beckett's team had gotten nowhere at the scene and nothing from interviews with friends and family either. By all accounts, the victim had lived a quiet life as a receptionist at a local doctor's office. She didn't have any family, and few friends. He hated to even think such a thing, but it didn't seem like anyone would really miss her much. Conversely, they hadn't met or heard of anyone who would have reason to want her dead. Everyone said she was quiet and kind and a somewhat of a neat freak. Having seen her apartment, Castle agreed.

The writer wandered into the immaculate kitchen. He surveyed the table and chairs. Nothing amiss there. No dishes in the sink. Everything neat in the doorless cabinets. Every plate in its place, every mug turned upside down with the handle...

"Beckett?" he called, starting to turn back toward the living room.


He'd been so focused that he hadn't heard her come up behind him. He jumped and whirled at the same time, and she took a quick step back in surprise. Her heel skidded on the recently waxed floor, and she began to slip, her eyes widening in shock. Her fingers scrabbled for purchase against his sleeves, and he abruptly realized that now they were both falling.

His reflexes weren't fast enough to catch himself in time, but he at least managed to get a hand behind her head to keep it from slamming into the cold floor.

He landed with an "oof" on top of her, one hand flying out to brace himself next to her head, the other tangled in her hair as his knuckles bashed against the tile.

Her body was warm under his, their chests mashed together and legs tangled as they lay there in a heap. One of his knees had hit the ground, hard, and he was finding it a little difficult to move.

He could tell by the fact that she hadn't pushed him off yet that she must be winded herself, but when he felt her shaking beneath him and heard what sounded like a whimper, he lifted his head so he could see her face. Her eyes were squeezed shut and tears were streaming down over her temples.

"Kate, oh my God, are you okay?"

He started to roll off her, but her hands clenched on his arms, holding him in place. His gaze dropped back to her face to see her lips curling upwards as her green eyes opened.

She was laughing. And suddenly he was too.

They spent several seconds just looking at each other and laughing.

"Your face, Castle," she panted out. "Oh, when you were falling. I've never see you look so terrified."

This brought a fresh round of giggles from her, and though he knew he should be offended, he joined her.

Finally, their laughter slowed, and he gave her a more serious look.

"Are you really okay?"

"I'm fine," she said, lifting one hand to wipe away the wetness on her face from laughing too hard. "You okay?"

"Well, I banged my knee and sacrificed my hand to keep you from cracking your skull, and I think I sprained my dignity, but other than that, I think I'm fine."

She brought her hand up and patted him on the cheek.

"Thanks for not letting me crack my skull. That was very gallant of you."

He grinned.

"I am a gentleman, after all."

She smirked at him.

"Is that why you tackled me and still haven't gotten off?"

He shook his head.

"That may be the way you tell it, but as I recall, you pulled me on top of you and then you held me down."

"Yes, well, at your advanced age, I don't think I'm the one making it difficult for you get up, Castle."

She squirmed a little as she freed her other hand, and he strained to keep his eyes open and focused on hers as she moved against him.

"Oh no, my dear detective," he drawled. "You make it very easy to get up. Trust me."

Her face flushed, and she shifted a little more, pushing against his shoulder with one hand, forcing his upper body away from her. What she hadn't counted on was his current lack of balance, and Newton's Third Law. In this case the equal and opposite reaction to her push against his shoulder was that his lower body pressed even closer to hers.

He knew she was feeling the same thing he was when her blush deepened.

"What happened to being a gentleman?" she asked, trying to wiggle out from under him.

"I'm trying, but you're making it a little hard."

She stopped moving to stare at him, and Castle smirked. He could have sworn her eyes darkened a little as she scowled at him. It took all his restraint to not lean down and kiss her annoyance away.

Finally, he sighed and removed the hand that was still tangled in her hair, using it to push himself up so he could roll away from her.

He lay there on the floor for a moment, his eyes closed as he thought about blizzards and freezers and ice-cold showers.

When he looked up again, she was standing and extending a hand to him.

"Just don't pull me down again."

He grinned and forced himself up, taking her hand only when he was sure he was steady enough not to make her slip again. She gave his hand a brief squeeze once he was on his feet and then released it.

"So, what did you find in here before our little mishap?" she asked curiously.

"Oh, yeah. Look."

He pointed at the cabinet, and she shrugged, not seeing what he did.

"Look at the handles of those mugs. They're all pointed the same way."

"Except that one," she finished, reaching into her pocket for an evidence bag and carefully placing the mug inside.

"Nice observation skills, Castle. Turns out you're good at something after all."

He grinned.

"Oh, I'm good at a lot of things, Detective," he said, lowering his voice a little.

She narrowed her eyes, and he decided to push a little harder.

"But I can think of one area where I could use some practice, especially if what happened earlier is any sign. Of course, I'll need your help."

"Oh, really? And why is that?"

Her eyes flicked briefly to his lips and he took a step forward, just inside that bubble of socially acceptable closeness.

"Because I'd like to have an experienced teacher, and from what I've seen, you're an expert."

"Am I?" she wondered, and maybe it was just his imagination but she sounded a little breathless.

"Mmm, you should be by now. How long have you been doing it after all? Twelve, thirteen years?"

Her eyes widened a little but she didn't say anything.

"In fact," he continued. "Now that we're done here, I think we should go practice."

She was biting her lip, and he knew he had her where he wanted her. Finally, she spoke, a little hesitantly.

"What exactly were you thinking, Castle?"

His lips curled upward and he quirked an eyebrow at her, taking a step back and turning away.

"Alexis and I are supposed to take a motorcycle safety course next weekend before we get that scooter," he threw back over his shoulder. "I don't wanna look like a complete amateur."

He heard her let out the breath she'd been holding, and he scooped up the helmets as she followed after him, locking the apartment on their way out.

He stood close to her in the elevator, enjoying his triumph, and watched the play of emotions on her face. She seemed to be waging some sort of internal battle.

"Next weekend, you said?" she asked as they reached the bottom and exited the building.

"Mmhmm," he answered, pulling on his helmet and passing over her own. "Why?"

"Well," she said, throwing a leg over the bike. "We really need to get back to work now, so I should probably handle it today. It'll be faster. But if you're free on Saturday, we can go for a ride, nice and slow, and I'll even let you drive. Just so you can get a better feel for things."

"That," he began and was horrified to hear the squeak in his voice. "That sounds good."

She pursed her lips, and from the twinkle in her eyes, he knew she was holding back a devious smile at having turned the tables once again. She pulled on her helmet as he mounted up behind her and settled his hands on her hips.

"Ready?" she asked over her shoulder.

He grinned.

"Anytime you are."

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