She's working on his third button when her phone rings.

Growling, Castle drops his forehead to her shoulder, his hot breath washing over her exposed skin. "You should probably answer that."

She shakes her head, her fingers abandoning his shirt front to rise and card through his hair. "I don't have to-"

"You do," he grunts, cutting her off. "It's probably Esposito or Ryan. They might have something."

"Could be a telemarketer."

He laughs. He laughs, and oh, the sound shoots right through her, his body vibrating against hers.

"You want me," he gruffs, his mouth close to her ear.

Her fingers clench at his scalp. "Yes."

His grip on her waist tightens, his touch scalding against her sides. His voice is rough, desperate when he speaks. "This first."

"This?" she echoes, canting further toward his body, pressing her curves into his palms.

He groans, fingers digging into her muscles. "Kate. Please."

She sighs, relents, releases her grip on him to reach toward her discarded jacket, fumbles for the still-ringing phone tucked into the front pocket. She snags it, sliding her thumb across the screen when she sees that it indeed is Esposito.

"Beckett," she answers as she hits the button to put it on speakerphone.

"Castle with you?" the other detective asks, his voice low, a little hesitant-sounding across the line.

The man in question halts his movements, his eyes flashing to hers. She nods at him, and he nods back, clearing his throat. "Yes, I'm here."

"What is it, Espo?" she asks, crooking one finger toward the writer. He gives her a half smile, leaning down to retrieve her shirt from the floor. Straightening, he holds it out as she slips one arm into a sleeve. His fingers brush the tender skin of her shoulder, and she shivers.

"We've got a body," Esposito says.

Castle meets her eyes, and she shakes her head, setting the phone on his desk as she tugs the other sleeve on. "Gates knows about what happened today. Shouldn't someone else be taking the new one?"

Nimble fingers start on her bottom button and she shoots him a grateful smile as she runs her hands along the hem of her shirt, tucking it back into her pants.

The other detective clears his throat. "It's- Beckett..."

She stills at his tone, and Castle pauses in his task as well. She meets his eyes, setting her hand gently over his. "What, Javi?"

"The body," the troubled voice says. "It's the former police commissioner."

She shuts her eyes. "Still."

"No," Esposito says. "We ran the knife Evelyn found, and it was clean. But a partial print on the card popped immediately. It popped because it belonged to the former police commissioner. And now he's dead."

Was it really just a few hours ago that she got the call from Evelyn?

Castle hovers nearby as she examines the car where the body was found, his presence reassuring. He held her hand the whole way to the crime scene, gripped her harder when she started asking questions that neither of them could answer. The only time he spoke was to ask if she wanted coffee. They both knew it would be a long night, so she'd nodded, let him hop out at a shop a block from the crime scene. He came back with coffees for the boys too.

He hasn't left her side since.

It's an old car, a little beat up, the inside now streaked with blood. They've already seen the body, met Lanie on the way in. Five shots, the ME told them, the first one a fatal shot to the heart, based on the pattern of gunshot residue. Castle asked about the other four. Revenge or an insurance policy, Lanie had said.

They haven't retrieved the slugs or the casings, and there's no sign of either in the car, nothing except copious amounts of blood that would show a crime had been committed inside.

"The killer must have put the body inside," Castle says, leaning into her space to make his own examination of the vehicle.

Beckett turns, finds his eyes roving the interior for a moment before they come to rest on her. He looks worried, of course he does. But there's also a warmth in his gaze that she's missed these past few weeks.

More than just a warmth. It's a fierce tenderness she's never seen before - his love for her unleashed.

"Yeah," she says, finding that her throat is a little clogged, her voice emerging with an unfamiliar rasp. "I think so too.

His eyes stay on hers for a moment longer and then he steps back, extends his hand. Giving him a hint of a smile, she slides her palm against his, letting him tug her out of the car.

A cough echoes behind him and he turns, not releasing her hand. Ryan, shifting from foot to foot, stares at the pair.

"We've got the wife down at the precinct," he finally says.

Kate sighs. "I don't think there's anything else here. We'll meet you back at the Twelfth."

The other detective glances between them, his eyes drifting to their joined hands. Beckett turns to see her partner's face, stoic and determined, fire in his eyes. Focusing back on her teammate, she nods.

One corner of his mouth quirks up slightly, but Ryan says nothing else, just trots back to Esposito and their cruiser.

Kate doesn't let go.

"He'd been going to church recently," the woman says quietly, nodding her thanks to Castle when the writer hands her a cup of tea.

"And was that unusual, Mrs. Akins?" Beckett asks gently.

A sigh answers her. "I always been involved with the church, but Michael usually only went on special occasions. You know, Christmas and Easter and such."

"Until lately," Castle supplies. The woman nods.

"Yes, lately he'd been there more than I had," she says softly. "I was glad. It'd always been something we argued about. But now it makes me wonder."

Kate's shoulders straighten. "Wonder what?"

Mrs. Akins shrugs. "Our priest called today to thank me for our generous donation to the church's building fund. But I hadn't made a donation yet. I wanted to talked it over with Michael first, maybe see if we could sell some things we weren't using anymore so we could give more."

"So you think your husband made a donation without telling you?" Castle asks.

"Yes," the woman answers. "Father Guzman said Michael hadn't given him the money but that they'd found it after he left confession two days ago and he'd been the only parishioner at the church that day."

Becket leans forward, elbows balanced on her knees. "Mrs. Akins, may I ask how much the donation was?"

"Fifty thousand dollars," she murmurs. "And I can't figure out how Michael could have had that amount of money, much less in cash."

The writer turns to the detective, and she meets his eyes. She doesn't have to ask what he's thinking.

"Thank you for your time," Beckett says, standing and extending her hand toward the grieving woman. "I'm so sorry for your loss, and I promise we'll do whatever we can to find whoever killed your husband. Please let me know if you think of anything else that might help us."

Castle reaches out too, taking the nearly empty mug from the woman and offering his own condolences. The detective ushers the woman out of the interview room then, toward the friend who had accompanied her downtown. But just as she's about to turn away, about to go find Castle and see what he makes of all of it, Mrs. Akins calls out. "Detective Beckett?"

She turns back. "Yes, ma'am?"

"You're the one who was shot last year, aren't you?"

Kate nods, a phantom twinge flaring up in her chest. "Yes."

The woman's brows knit together. "Michael mentioned you a few days ago, when that zombie case was on the news."

Castle appears at her side then, the mug missing from his hands. He must have taken it back to the break room. He answers for her. "We worked that case."

"What did he say?" the detective asks, dread churning in her gut.

"I don't know what he meant by it," Mrs. Akins says hesitantly. "I'm sure it's nothing, but I remember him saying that if he were you, after what happened last May, he'd have been trying a little harder to lie low."

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