It's...not what she expected.

Well. She didn't really know what to expect, to be honest. Dinner and a movie would have been cliché, of course, though dinner and a movie premiere had crossed her mind briefly as something that would be right up his alley.

Still, she's glad he didn't go that route. She's with him, yes. Fully with him. But she doesn't want it to be on display this quickly, wants to keep it just theirs for a little while.

He could have done something outlandish (not that a movie premiere wouldn't have been outlandish, but she's thinking more like a hot air balloon ride or lunch in Paris).

Instead, his fingers curl lightly around hers and she lets him lead the way into a bright room where a dozen or so other people mill about, making small talk and looking at the pictures on the wall.

He turns, smiles shyly at her, and she finds herself smiling back, unable to hide it now. But she's curious. "What are we doing, Castle?"

His head tilts to one side as he lifts an eyebrow. "Really? You can't smell it?"

"Smell what?" she asks, shaking her head.

"Hmm," he muses. "If it's so much a part of you that you don't even notice, we might need to start cutting back your coffee intake."

She glances around the room then, realizing that it's not art on the walls but diagrams and photos of plants and machinery. "Castle?"

Before he has a chance to answer, she hears the clearing of a throat and turns toward the sound. A short, thin woman with dark hair and light eyes stands at the front of the room, hands pressed together in front of her chest.

"If you could all take a seat," the woman calls. "We can begin."

The detective shoots one more look at the writer, but he gives her a quick grin, his hand releasing hers, his fingers sliding over to rest against her lower back.

"Trust me," he whispers, nudging her forward gently.

She ducks into a mostly empty row, and he follows. Catching his sleeve before he sits, she tugs on the fabric to capture his attention. "I do."

He furrows his eyebrows.

"Trust you, Castle," she clarifies, her voice low and meant only for him. "I do trust you."

His eyes crinkle, his mouth curling into a soft smile. "I know you do."

Kate slides her fingers down to wrap around his wrist, tugs him down into the seat next to her as the rest of the people in the room settle as well. Her eyes roaming the space, the detective notices for the first time a table at the front that holds several boxes and a small plant.

A sly smile from her partner catches her eye as she turns her attention toward the woman who speaks once more, and she wonders what exactly she's gotten herself into this evening.

"Welcome, welcome," the cheery woman says, her voice holding a hint of an accent.

Bright eyes peruse the crowd, landing on each one for a moment, and Kate feels Castle's hand drop to her knee when the woman's gaze settles on the two of them briefly before flitting away.

The woman claps her hands once and then lifts them, as if in invocation. "Good evening, all, and I'm so glad you could join us tonight for an experience that will tantalize your tastebuds and change your life forever."

The detective turns quickly toward the blue-eyed man at her side, but his pursed lips and crinkled eyes indicate amusement. He glances at her, winks once, and then leans forward. She follows his lead.

"Now, how many of you have done this before?" the woman asks.

Only a few hands lift into the air. Castle's doesn't, the detective notes.

"Well then," the woman pronounces. "Looks like we all have a lot to discover this evening."

They spend the next hour learning about the life cycle of coffee, from field to cup.

Castle eagerly volunteers to help demonstrate the proper way to plant the seed, dragging the reluctant detective to the front of the class with him and swiping his dirt-covered finger across her cheek when he's finished tamping down the soil.

The instructor follows that with an exploration of different regions of coffee, how certain Ethiopian coffees are known for their flowery flavors while Costa Rican coffees possess more spice. She glances at Castle every few seconds, sees the look of concentration on his face. She's almost certain she'll be trying new varieties every day for the next month.

When they move to the final stage, she hesitates to follow instructions. The writer bumps her with his hip. "You heard the woman: sniff and slurp."

She glares, but does as she's told, inhaling the bouquet for a moment before she tips the spoon between her lips, swirling the dark liquid around in her mouth, her tongue darting out to capture the remnants of the coffee on the spoon.

Looking up, she finds Castle's eyes on her mouth, the normally ocean blue darkening to midnight.

"Almost done," he rumbles, too close.

She laughs, reaching out to pat him on the chest. "Still got eleven more cups to try."

His answering groan sends sparks through her veins, and she has a hard time concentrating as she fills out the card in her hand to note the different characteristics of the coffee she's just tasted, and what the heck does quakery mean when it comes to coffee anyway?

When they leave, it's a little chilly out. He offers to call a cab, but she shakes her head, linking their arms instead and leaning into his side. "You can walk me home."

"Can I carry your books too?" he whispers as they start off down the sidewalk, and she hears the teasing in his gentle tone. She elbows him in the side anyway, and he yelps, turning offended eyes on her.

He opens his mouth in protest, but she cuts him off, pushing upward to press her lips to his. Sinking into the kiss, he curls his arm around her back, tugging her closer.

They stay there for a moment, lost in each other until a passerby jostles into them, breaking the pair apart.

"Hey," she murmurs, pulling back to see his face.

Lifting his fingers, he swipes a stray lock of dark hair from her cheek, tucks it behind her ear in a gentle caress. "Hey yourself."

She smiles, leans into his side once more and wraps an arm around him until she can grasp the opposite side of his light jacket.

They walk in silence then, thighs brushing, his arm thrown jauntily over her shoulder. It feels natural. Far more than it should on a first date.

But this is Castle, and if she knows him like she thinks he does, he probably saw her initial interrogation about the Tisdale case as their first date. He wouldn't be entirely wrong.

She'd been intrigued then, drawn to to the bright blue eyes and the scruffy chin and the words. Always the words.

But now-

Now she's far more than intrigued. She's in love with him, and he knows it.

"You wanna come in for coffee?" she offers, realizing that they've reached the door to her apartment. Did they take the elevator?

He chuckles, raises an eyebrow. "Any more and I'll be up all night."

Leaning back against the door, she tilts her head, watching him through her eyelashes as her fingers rise of their own accord to curl in the placket of his deep purple shirt.

"Is that a problem?" she whispers, her fingers brushing the bare skin of his firm stomach. "Because that sounds pretty good to me."

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