Castle Halloween FanFic Competition Entries


Take a look here for the winners of the judges vote: 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition: Results of the judges vote

And here for the public vote: 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition: Results of the public vote


Here you can find all the rules for the 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition.


For an easier read on your iPhone, iPad, Kindle or Nook, check out the TwelfthPrecinct account at fanfiction.net for, where all the entries are published too.










Story: Epitaph
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 2500




"Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence"
 –George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)


As the clock ticked over midnight, Castle reached for his empty mug to fill it yet again. He had lost track of how many times in the past twenty-four hours his hands had completed the ritual. It had been a long, dark week, fitting with the season, if not his usual jubilant celebration of it. Now, before he could rise from his seat beside her desk, Beckett caught his wrist, closed the file in front of her, placed it on top of the overflowing outbox.

“Finished?”

“Yeah.”
He knew she meant more than just the last piece of paperwork. Letting out a breath, she closed her eyes. Every one of the past five sleepless nights showed in her heavy lids, the creases deepening at their corners. Kate Beckett would always be beautiful, but some nights, the push for the close, the rush for answers at any cost, surfaced despite the make-up and caffeine.

Though he had released her mug, she hadn’t yet removed her hand from where it rested just below the cuff of his dress shirt. That alone told him she must be exhausted. Still not admitting the change in their relationship to anyone other than his family, and living in constant fear of discovery by Gates, both had kept to “minimal contact” at the precinct.

Now, the soft pad of her thumb circled against the thin skin just above the articulation of his wrist and arm.

“You ready?”

“Let me splash some water on my face.”

It didn’t occur to him to ask where they were going, or if they were going together. Knowing they might not be lucky enough to leave early, might be in a rush for their plans, and not trusting the availability of cabs on Halloween night, he had a car waiting. As the hours ticked by, he decided to keep the car service on call, as neither wanted to battle the noise and rush of public transit tonight. His words to the driver alerted him that they were on their way down, but that their destination had changed.

Their case had hit her hard. Children always did. But this time, there was something more—this one had taken her deeper inside herself than she had been since that night in May. For five months, Kate had been happy. For the past five days, the old shadows had fallen once again, clouding the bright eyes and paling the flushed cheeks, dissolving her beaming smile into that familiar somber press of lips.

He hadn’t pushed, though he wanted to. In the end he knew more would come from his steady presence than from any attempt at words.

When she reemerged, some of the roughened edges smoothed, he saw the tinge of red, the carefully-wiped smudges.

Standing close, he tried not to crowd in the elevator. Time had taught him she would come. When the backs of their hands brushed, he imagined it reminded her that his comfort was there for the taking. Her hand spiraled around his, clasped palm to palm and squeezed tight, though her eyes were fixed on the falling numbers.

That contact lost fearing prying eyes in the lobby, it returned with the press of her thigh against his in the back seat.

“I’m sorry about tonight.”

Her eyes wouldn’t meet his, but her hand encased his knee, warmed it with the gentle spread of her fingers. Recognizing the invitation, he wrapped an arm around her, felt her head drop against the shoulder of his jacket, turned to find the top of her head with his lips.

“Don’t worry about it. Mother and Alexis understand.”

One measured breath in and the regret cascaded out, along with a genuine attempt at levity.

“But you had it all planned—the movies and the Jello brain and the absurd amount of candy corn.”

A hint of a snarky smile played at her lips.

“They said they saved us both temporal lobes, and that you’re not getting out of Rocky Horror.”

She let out a disgruntled moan and nuzzled into his lapel.

“Hey, you’re the one who told Alexis you played Janice in high school.”

“Next year?”

“I make no promises where musical theater is concerned.”

The remainder of their short ride passed in silence, both exhausted and unsure.

Shoulders hunched, she unlocked her door and let him in. Thinking he might at least ease some of the physical tension, he turned back to her as she locked up, closed his hands over her shoulders, worked his fingers against the stiffness of her muscles through her coat.

“How about a shoulder rub?”

But she shrugged away and out of her coat, took his and hung it as well.

“I think I’m just going to take a quick shower.”

“Want a bath instead? Some wine, maybe?”

Already halfway to her bedroom and unbuttoning clothes, she answered absently.

“No, I’ll be quick. Just need to get this day off of me.”

Opening the wine anyway, he poured them each a glass, thought back to the last time they’d had a chance to relax. They had been out on Friday night, a clandestine little date in a hole-in-the-wall in the East Village. And afterward they had gone to bed early, though not for sleep. They had finally fallen under, wrapped naked around one another in his bed, when the call came about the bones found under the floorboards in a closet a few blocks from their dinner.

His initial quip about appropriate places for skeletons on the week of Halloween had fallen flat. Soon after they had learned the bones belonged to two children. They had been found by the current tenant, on a hunt for more storage space. No one seemed to remember any children living there. So when Lanie informed them that the bones were decades old, belonging to two young girls, the team had started slogging through the filing cabinets of cold cases.

The break came when another detective heard the story in the break room, and the details rang a bell. Bruce Adler had come to Kate with a memory from nearly fifty years before: two sisters who had gone missing, the older one a grade school classmate. Names and newspaper details and the medical examiner’s hard work had all coalesced into a macabre but final answer for the team.

The trail had led directly to the prime suspect in 1963, a disturbed neighbor never charged for lack of evidence. He had moved into the East Village apartment ten years after the girls had disappeared, but apparently he had brought that evidence with him.

For what little closure such devastating news might provide, no once was alive to listen. The parents had passed, had had no other children, no other family to speak of. And the murderer, too, had long since died, unpunished and unpenitent.

Sorrow, somber and gray, had settled over their team as the board was taken down. Beckett had sent Ryan and Esposito home early, taking the brunt of the mindless form-filling. She had tried to send Castle home as well, even used his family as a pawn to guilt him into leaving her. But he knew that whatever had Kate so wrapped up in darkness, had her chasing a cold case with the fervor of a fresh homicide, needed out. And he knew if he left her to her own devices that she would manage to push it down deep again.

Wine in hand as he crossed the bedroom, the sound of running water reached his ears. Knuckles poised to tap and offer the glass of cab, he stopped cold when he heard another sound, muffled by the water stream. A gasp, he thought, setting down the wine. But when it came a second time, his heart lurched to a halt. She was crying.

Instinct took over and he turned the knob, was relieved when the door opened.

“Kate?”

There was another strangled sob from behind the curtain.

Waiting her out, giving her space, letting her come to him all be damned. He tugged gently on the fabric, released a cloud of steam, and in the midst of it huddled Kate, naked under the spray, arms wrapped tight around herself, chin tucked down to her chest. Her ribs expanded unsteadily, then slowly contracted as she carefully, silently let out the air. The heat of the water blotched her skin with pink, and dark tendrils of hair fell in a curtain around her face.

“Oh, Kate.”

Already reaching for the taps, he fumbled with his other hand for her big fluffy robe, grasped it just as she finally let out a single plaintive note at the top of a nearly-controlled breath. Swaddling her in soft terrycloth, he wrapped his arms around her, let her bow and curve in around his body, bury her face in his neck. The heat of her was soaking his clothes, but he just gripped her tighter, lifted her off her feet until she picked them up, let him take her from the tub.

He walked her backward toward her bed, still tucked against him, but with every step she was reining in her tears. Half lifting her on the bed, he had to follow her when she wouldn’t let go.

“Hey…” he soothed against her ear. Her throat clenched around a swallow, cleared.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t you even think that, not for one second. Do you hear me?”

A silent nod and a stuttering breath were her only response.

“You cry all you want to. That’s what I here for. Think of me as your own personal human hankie. Very absorbent.”

A huff of something closer to laughter than tears washed warm against his skin.

Eventually she loosened her grip, started to fish for the arms of the robe, let him guide her hands to the openings and smooth the fabric, his own hands stroking up and down her back. Sucking in a steadying breath, she pulled one sleeve up to scrub over her face as she lifted her head from its place on his shoulder.

His fingers felt clumsy as they twined into the wet strands of hair still sticking to her cheeks and forehead, but he managed to tame them, tuck them back behind her ears. Catching her chin with the crook of one finger, he finally brought her eyes up, was taken aback at the shadows he found there.

“So are you going to tell me?”

“After all this, I guess I’m sort of obligated.”

“No, you’re not. And if you don’t want to, I’ll drop it and never ask again.”

Her eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly.

“So all these years all I had to do was burst into tears and you would have shut up and left me alone?”

Brushing one errant tear from the curve of her cheek, he tried to make the smile reach his eyes.

“You’re leaving out the most important part, Detective. You burst into tears naked in your shower. And you know exactly what all that glistening skin and dripping hair does to me.”

His eyebrow waggle finally coaxed the watery chuckle from her. Rising, she headed to her bathroom, rubbed a towel through the aforementioned tresses.

“I brought us wine, but I can make tea instead.”

“Wine is fine. There’s a pair of pajama pants you left here in my bottom drawer. Maybe a t-shirt too.”

So he was staying. Good.

Making fast work of changing, he joined her under the covers, looking sad but no longer distraught, propped up against the pillows at her headboard sipping wine with a red-tinged nose and swelling eyes.

Their bodies fit now without trying, but reaching around her shoulders, pulling her back against his chest, he was reminded of just how small she was. So often larger than life, protector, warrior, she seemed more substantial than he, but here, wrapped up in his body, she felt just small enough that maybe he could protect her, too.

“Her name was Emily.” Kate spoke steady and low, head leaned back against his neck.

“She was my first best friend. We went to school together, lived down the block, had sleepovers, did all those little girl things together. Neither of us had a sister, so we sort of adopted one another.”

He could picture Kate, pigtails curling, holding a flashlight in a blanket fort, giggling and telling secrets with her friend.

“When we were in second grade, we decided to dress up together for Halloween. We even got to wear our costumes to school. I was She-Ra.”

“Princess of Power?”

“Mock me and you will never see in a costume. Not even the special private kind.”

“Damn. Didn’t know that was even a possibility. Besides, I wasn’t mocking. She-Ra was a badass. Definitely worthy of eight-year-old Beckett.”

“Emily was Wonder Woman. We both had capes—that was key. I was jealous, though, because she got the bracelets.”

“They were pretty awesome bracelets.”

Swallowing some wine, she fiddled with the edge of the blanket, let the silence fall.

“She disappeared from the playground that day.”

Her ribs expanded slowly, and she turned her head toward him, let her warm breath brush his collarbone.

“No call, no note, nothing but one of the bracelets left by the curb. It was a small school, good neighborhood. Everyone was shocked. My parents didn’t tell me details until years later, but they found him a week later, a school employee who had just lost his job. He had hanged himself in his apartment, with a note confessing to the kidnapping. Claimed he hadn’t meant to hurt her; that she fell trying to get away from him, hit her head. He left directions to the field in Jersey where he buried her.”

Quiet settled over her, and he clung to it, sank into the cloud of memory with her. Remembering his own close call with Alexis, those moments of panic when he thought he might never see her again, he couldn’t help but hold his partner tighter.

For all her loss, all the sadness chasing her, she deserved some comfort, care.

And suddenly he realized for once she was taking all he offered, sharing this memory.

“That case four years ago—Sorenson told me about another case, one that didn’t end happily, said that was the reason our case upset you so much.”

“He didn’t know, Castle. I’ve never told anyone about her.”

His heart fluttered, swelled, pressed hard against his ribs. Something so small shouldn’t affect him this way, shouldn’t make him so grateful and needy and sad all at the same time. Turning in his arms, she looked up at him through the inky blackness of her lashes, laid a hand on his chest.

“Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget her, afraid the world will, too, like the little girls we found.”

“The world won’t forget her. She’s part of you.” Mirroring her pose, he placed his palm over her heart. “She’s right here.”

She covered his hand with her own, intertwined their fingers, held them firm against her so that he could feel the heavy thump of the muscle beneath her ribs.

“And so are you.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story: Come As You Are
Rating: T
Word count: 2352



Come As You Are
______________________________________________________________

“Werewolf.  That’s a werewolf.”

Kate tried very hard not to roll her eyes. “It’s not a werewolf, Castle.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
“Kate. It’s Halloween. It’s a full moon on Halloween.” Castle pointed to the dead man on the ground, the bloody and ripped flesh of his arm clearly visible through his ragged clothing. “It was eating the victim. It’s a werewolf.”

Lanie sat back on her heels away from the vic, trying to keep her full skirt off the alley floor. Kate heard her sigh.  “It’s not a werewolf.”  Lanie sounded exasperated. Kate figured she would too, if she were up to her elbows in blood at 10:30 on a Saturday night while wearing what looked like an old-timey saloon girl costume.

“Yeah, bro. Halloween’s not for another four days.”  Esposito stepped back into the circle of light around the dead body, returning from tying up the dog that Kate refused to believe was a werewolf.

“Close enough. And there is a full moon.” Castle stopped. “I’m sorry.  I can’t take either one of you seriously dressed like that.  Espo, are you supposed to be a cowboy?” He gasped. “Were you guys at a Halloween party without us?”

“We were, um…” Esposito fumbled for words, clearly uncomfortable in his checkered shirt and bandana.

“It was a private party at my house.” Lanie interrupted. “And the rest is none of your business.”

“Wow.” Castle looked like he was biting his own lip to keep from laughing.  “Are those chaps you’re wearing the assless kind?”

Seriously. Kate was going to have interrogate Lanie about that later.

“Whatever.”  Esposito snorted at Castle. “You’re wearing a cape.”

Kate cinched the belt of her coat a little tighter and held her breath, but before Castle could answer, Ryan stepped into the circle of light.

“Hi guys.”

Dressed as…holy shit, what was he?

The dog started barking like crazy, the sound echoing throughout the alley.

The rest of them were struck silent, staring at Ryan, who was head to toe in some sort of foam costume that looked like meat. No wonder the dog was losing it.

Ryan glanced around at their slack-jawed faces. “Are you guys staring at me because of my costume?”

 “Yes. Yes we are.”  Esposito’s eyes were about to fall out of his head. “What are you?”

Ryan sighed. “I had to come right from Jenny’s brother’s Halloween party, okay?  Jenny and I were Bacon and Eggs.”

“That. Is. Awesome.” Castle was about to burst.

Kate was trying so, so hard not to laugh. “Why didn’t you take it off before you got here?”

Ryan had to turn his whole foam encased body to look at her. “I would have, but all I have on underneath is my underwear.”

Esposito was shaking his head. Ryan looked faintly indignant. “What? This foam is hot!”

“I can’t even look at you right now, bro.”

Ryan ran his eyes up and down Esposito’s Western flair. “Whatever, Roy Rogers. This is cute.”

“Who told you that? She was lying.”

“Guys!” Lanie sounded irritated.  She had to be cold, seeing as how she was half-naked. “Can we please start working so we can go home?” She narrowed her eyes when Ryan turned to look at her. “Not a word from you, bacon.”

“Uh, okay.” Ryan was obviously trying not to stare at Lanie’s boobs. He squinted against the loud, echoing barking. “What’s with the dog?”

“He might have, um, evidence on, or…within his person.”  Kate shot a look to Castle. “Don’t say werewolf.”

“What?” Ryan frowned, confused

“He was eating the victim.”

Castle coughed into his fist. “Werewolf.”  Kate sent him a side glare.
Ryan covered his mouth. “Ughh. That’s so disgusting.”

Lanie whipped her head around, the feathers in her hair dancing, and pointed at Ryan. “Do NOT throw up, Ryan. I’m serious. This scene is messy enough already.”

“I’m not going to throw up.”

Kate took a step back. Ryan’s choked delivery didn’t inspire confidence.

“No, really. I’m fine.” Ryan turned his head away from the mangled body of the victim, his gaze falling on Castle. His eyes widened.  “Are you wearing a cape?”

Castle held it out. He looked ridiculously pleased with himself.  “It’s my Batman costume. I was trying it on when the call came in.”

“Where’s your mask? Your bat ears?”

“Please.  We’re working.  That would be unprofessional.”

“But a cape isn’t?”

Castle huffed. “Fine. Beckett said I couldn’t wear the mask.”

“Beckett said, huh?” Esposito glanced at Ryan and Kate felt the stirrings of panic.

Castle was very carefully not looking at her. “Yeah, I mean, when I got here, she made me take it off.” He cleared his throat. “Because that’s when she saw it. When I got here. Not, like before.” Castle gave the fakest laugh ever.

Kate could feel her cheeks getting hot with anxiety.  Or maybe with sympathetic embarrassment for how badly he was blowing this.

“It’s not like we were together while I was wearing it or anything. That would be dumb.”

How did Castle have a reputation for smoothness and suavity? How?

“Really? You let her order you around like that?” Ryan gave an exaggerated eye roll so he was staring right at Kate. “Why ever could that be?”

“Okay!”  Kate couldn’t take it anymore.  “Everyone shut up.” She pointed at Castle, Lanie, Ryan and Esposito in turn.  “Wearing a cape, old-timey hooker, breakfast meat, and some sort of western porn star. None of you can talk. If we could actually work this case, maybe you all will have a chance to go back to whatever you were doing in these…these classy and elegant costumes.”

Ryan was unfazed by her outburst. He cocked an eyebrow, his lips twisted into what would be a smirk, if bacon could smirk. “Where’s your costume, Beckett?”

Kate pulled her trench coat around her more tightly. “I’m not wearing a costume.”

“Right.” Lanie, from her position squatting by the victim, leaned over and patted Kate’s calf. “You always wear leather pants to crime scenes.”

Kate made an extraordinary effort to stare anywhere except at Castle. “I just…had on leather pants. What?”  Thank God it was dark and no one could see that her face was on fire.

“Really? A new look for you, huh? What kind of top do you wear with those leather pants?”

“Yeah, Beckett? What kind of top?” Castle was waggling his eyebrows at her and Kate was going to kill him.

“Wait. Leather pants? Like, part of a cat suit?” Ryan pretended to gasp. “Are you dressed up as Catwoman, Beckett?” He turned and widened his eyes at Castle. “What a coincidence!”

The smile dropped off Castle’s face. “I don’t think she’s Catwoman.”

“Um, excuse me?”  Someone was in the alley just outside the light circle, a uniform standing behind Castle. The kid looked about eighteen.  Kate closed her eyes and breathed a prayer of thanks for the interruption.  Maybe she wouldn’t have to kill Ryan immediately.

Castle swiveled around. “You’re dressed up as a police officer!”  He turned back to the others and stage-whispered, “Not very original, but points for authenticity.”

“Castle!”

“Sorry.”

“I’m, um…”  The kid was having a hard time keeping his eyes off Lanie’s cleavage. “I’m supposed to pick up a dog? For evidence?”

“Sure! Right this way.” Castle swooped his cape around his shoulders as he stepped toward back of the alley where the dog was tied up. “Did they tell you the dog’s probably a werewolf?”

“Not…no?” The kid’s eyes flew to Kate, as if for help. Probably because she was the only person who didn’t appear completely insane. Kate made a supreme effort and tried to look as though nothing unusual were going on. Like they always attended crime scenes as if they were on their way to some sort of demented rave. The kid’s eyes tracked back to Castle. “Is that a cape?”

“Yeah.  Awesome, right?” Castle stopped. “Uh oh.”

Kate suddenly realized she hadn’t heard the dog in several minutes. “What?”

“He’s gone! The dog’s gone!”

“That’s impossible.”

Ryan looked nervous. “The dog’s free? I don’t think it likes me.”

“Yes!” Castle fist pumped in victory. “Obviously, the werewolf took on his man-shape and walked away.”

“We’re the only ones in the alley, Castle.” Kate spoke before she realized that doing so would be supporting the werewolf theory.

“Has anyone else been here?” Ryan asked. Kate was glad she wasn’t the only one who’d  her mind.

The kid in the uniform had eyes like saucers. “Is this a Halloween prank?”

“What?”

“No.” Ryan adjusted his foam.

Esposito held up the chewed up leash. “This looks like a prank to you?”

“Who’s your supervisor?” Castle narrowed his eyes, but Kate could tell he was loving every second. “Heeeey. You just appeared out of nowhere. You sure you’re not the werewolf?”

The kid’s eyes darted from one to the other.  Castle in his cape, Ryan with his foam bacon, and Lanie and Esposito, who had walked right out of The Best Little Whore House in Texas.  He looked terrified. “You guys are police officers, right?”

Act normal. Kate put on her best concerned face and looked the kid right in the eye.  “Why do you ask?”
 _______________________________________________________________________________


Castle flopped back on his bed, the cape spread out underneath him. “I still think that dog was a werewolf.”

Kate hung up her phone and sat down beside him. “You do not.” She ran her fingers through the hair at his temple. “You were just trying to torment that poor newbie Uniform.”

“Maybe a little.” Castle closed his eyes and nudged his head against her hand. “That feels good.”

Kate traced her fingers behind his ear, along the soft skin at the back of his neck. “That was Esposito. They found the dog in the next alley over, eating trash out of the dumpster.”

“Eating trash out of a dumpster? That’s not very werewolfian.”

Kate bit her cheek so she wouldn’t smile. “Espo said they think it’s a coyote.”

Castle reared up, delighted. “Really? A coyote? Just like in Naked Heat!”

“Yes, it’s all very meta. Except this time there’s no actual murder. No ID on the victim yet – they think it’s a homeless guy - but he died from cardiac arrest. They only wounds on his body were where the dog – “

“Ate him?” Castle shuddered a little. “Still a little creepy.”

“Creepy, but no longer our problem.” Kate moved so that she was almost in Castle’s lap. “So, what were we doing before we were interrupted? Trying on our Halloween costumes?”

Castle wrapped his arms around her, his fingers brushing under her vest, against her bare skin. “I’d rather take off our Halloween costumes.” He brushed his lips against the underside of her jaw before he suddenly lifted his head. “But what exactly do you think Lanie and Esposito were doing in their costumes? I think I’m intrigued.”

“I think I can figure that out.” Kate sucked in a little breath as Castle popped the button on her pants and slipped his hands along her stomach. “The more pressing question is what Ryan and Jenny do while they’re dressed as bacon and eggs.”

Castle laughed. “Oh my God. Stop. I want to be able enjoy breakfast.”  He pulled at her pants, his hands stuck at her hips.  “These leather pants are misleading. They look super hot, but are impossible to get off.  You might as well be wearing a chastity belt.”

Kate smiled and lay down, shimming her hips, helping him work the resistant leather down her thighs. “That’s another costume idea. What does a chastity belt look like?”

“These pants.” Castle abandoned her pants to start unbuttoning her leather vest. “I can’t believe Ryan thought you were dressed up as Catwoman. How unoriginal does he think we are?”


“He’s not supposed to know we’re a ‘we’.” Kate felt her breath come a little quicker. “But to be fair, not everyone is as well-versed in Batman lore as you are.” Her eyes fluttered shut as Castle peeled back her vest, his fingers brushing her collar bone, the sides of her breasts. “As a love interest, Catwoman is way more well-known than Talia al Ghul.”

“Humph. Talia is obviously more important.” Castle was making headway with her pants. He had moved down her body and was slipping the leather past her ankles, one leg at time.  He looked up and locked his eyes with hers. “Batman married Talia al Ghul.”

Kate’s heart turned over in her chest even as she wanted to roll her eyes at herself. Only Castle could somehow make a conversation about Batman costumes into something romantic.

Her pants were off, and Castle was slowly kissing his way up her body, the Batman cape sliding against her skin.  Kate swallowed hard, trying to keep it together for a few more minutes.  “Are you going to wear that cape all night?” Her voice might not have been completely steady.

Castle grinned. “I like it. It’s versatile. I can be Batman or a vampire.” He rose up on his knees, holding the cape out on either side, like Dracula. “I’m going to seduce you now!”

Kate almost laughed out loud. He was so ridiculous. So fun. “You don’t have to try very hard.”

Castle swooped down, aligning his body with hers and wrapping her in the cape. “I’ll show you hard.”

“Wait. Where’s the Batman mask?”

Castle’s eyes went wide with delight. “Yes. Awesome.   I think I left it in my office.” He kissed her hard before he jumped up and stood beside the bed. “You’re the best girlfriend ever.”


Kate felt a great swell of happiness pushing against her ribs, her chest.  She propped herself up on her elbows and shrugged, but she could barely hold back her smile. “Well. I know how much you love dressing up for Halloween.”

“You know how much I love you?”

It always took her by surprise. Every time.

“I love you.” Kate blinked past the moisture in her eyes as the smile broke across her face. “Now go find that mask.”


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Story: Bump in the NightRating: T
Word count: 2420




From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
-Traditional Scottish Prayer

-------

Two weeks passed and it happened again.

Castle was alone for the evening, his mother on a date with her newest beau, his daughter studying in her dorm for a chemistry exam, his muse out for a girls' night with her best friend.

He sat up, bleary-eyed from too many hours spent typing furiously away at the no longer blank document on his laptop. But he was done with Nikki for now. He had set the scene, conveniently written her into an impossible situation, and all that remained was for Rook to ride in and save the day.

Well, for Rook to ride in and *attempt* to save the day, resulting in the dynamic duo being in more danger than ever and forcing the indomitable Detective Heat to save both their asses.

The writer pushed away from his desk, leaning back and rolling his head from side to side, lifting one hand to press hard against the tight muscle that ached so much. He missed her and the way she always managed to find just that spot with her strong, agile fingers.

His phone lit up with a text just then. Be there in a few. Hope you're still awake.

He grinned, knew he probably looked a little dopey as his thumbs flew over the screen in response. Can't wait. He refrained from ending the message with a smiley face, knowing she'd tease him mercilessly if he did.

When he looked up from his phone, he saw it. A bump under the rug. A large bump.

No one had believed him the first time. Kate had rolled her eyes and shrugged him off. Alexis had patted him on the shoulder and said he must have been imagining it after staring at his computer screen for so long. And Martha had glanced at the other two and mimed tipping a bottle.

Castle had finally figured his daughter was right. He'd imagined the whole thing.

He must have.

But again?

He stood slowly, quietly, and tiptoed across the floor toward the spot. Carefully, he stuck his foot out and nudged the bump. It seemed solid enough beneath the shaggy, cream-colored rug.

Keeping his eyes on the spot, he moved quickly toward the corner where he kept the fencing foils, blindly reaching back to remove one from the set.

He was just about to use the foil to lift the edge of the rug when he heard a knock on the front door. Pivoting on the spot, he looked through the open shelves toward the sound, glanced back down at the floor at the mysterious bump, and then back toward the door. He wished hed just given Kate a key already.

But alas, he knew shed likely balk at it, dubbing it too soon. So he hadnt.

Be right there, he called out.

He looked over his shoulder once more as he walked out of his office. The bump was still there.

Opening the door, he greeted the detective with a wide smile, his lips parting of their own accord as she pushed up to press a lingering kiss to his mouth, her fingers curling around his bicep.

Hi, she murmured, her eyes opening bright and happy as he heard the click of her heels dropping back to the floor.

Hi, he whispered back, still a little dumbstruck by the ease of being with her like this. He hoped it never became mundane.

How was your—” she began and then switched gears rapidly, her voice rising an octave. Castle?

His eyebrows furrowed. What?

Why are you holding a sword?

Glancing down at his hand, he waved it around casually, and Beckett stepped back slightly, out of the path of the flashing silver. He frowned apologetically, and she rolled her eyes.

Its a fencing foil, actually, he pointed out.

She let out a little huff of breath as if to say, I know that, you idiot, but still looked at him expectantly.

Oh, I... he trailed off. Well, come with me.

Obediently, she followed as he turned and strode away, the staccato of her footsteps ringing through the loft as they made their way back into his office.

But it was gone.

What? she asked when he had been standing in the middle of the room for a long moment, silently regarding the spot where he could have sworn hed seen it.

There was a bump, he said. Under the rug.

A single arched eyebrow greeted him when he turned to look at her, her expression amused, and a bit incredulous.

You know what? he muttered. Nevermind.

He slid the foil back into the repurposed umbrella stand that held the rest of the collection and swiveled back to find his detective with her shirt already half unbuttoned, her eyes dark and inviting on his.

The creepy mystery could wait.

-------

The next two weeks were unexpected, to say the least.

It had started the following night. At midnight. Of course.

He had just checked to make sure the front door was locked when he heard an unearthly voice.

Riiiiichaaaaard.

It wasnt loud, more like a whisper really, but he startled all the same, turning his body as he jumped, a shiver shooting up his spine. But he was alone in the loft. Completely alone.

He waited for a moment, but there was no other sound.

Shrugging it off as his overactive imagination again, he went to bed.

The next morning, he overslept.

Beckett and the boys teased him when he finally showed up just before noon, coffees in hand and what he hoped was an apologetic expression on his face.

Alarm didnt go off, he explained, handing over one cup to his favorite detective. It was set, but it didnt go off.

Esposito just shook his head, Ryan looked a little sympathetic, and Beckett smirked as the boys wandered off. Yeah, right. Youll take any excuse to get more beauty sleep.

His lips curled upward and he leaned in, relishing the fact that her breathing changed and her cheeks turned pink as he invaded her space. Why, Detective, dont you think Im pretty already?

-------

Four days later, just as he was drifting into a peaceful sleep, Kate curled in his arms, he heard a door slam. Upstairs. He hadnt heard the front door open, and his mother was out of the apartment again.

Be right back, he whispered as he pressed his lips to the detectives forehead and slipped out from beneath her body.

He grabbed a flashlight and padded quietly across the room and into the entry way. It was still dark, just as hed left it. As he passed the kitchen, he snagged the heavy frying pan that still sat empty on the stove after their dinner, figuring it would make as good a weapon as any. And then he climbed the stairs, as silently as possible.

He had just finished checking all the rooms when he heard footsteps behind him and swung around, barely missing Kate with the pan.

Castle? she yelped, pressing a hand over her heart.

He lowered the pan and walked toward her, smoothing his palm down the arm bared by the thin tee she wore as a nightshirt.

I heard a door slam, he explained. But theres no one here.

Must have been the wind, she postulated, stepping into his warmth and pressing her cheek to his chest.

Maybe so, he answered. But hed just checked, and all of the windows were shut.

-------

Over the course of the next several days, objects mysteriously moved while he wasnt looking, doors creaked ominously, and he could have sworn he heard Alexis laughing in her room though she was nowhere to be found.

He was beginning to get freaked out.

And then on Tuesday, he left the apartment as his usual time, and walked briskly toward the elevator. He waited only a moment before the car arrived and he stepped in, hitting the button for the lobby.

Just as the doors closed, he caught a glimpse of a hulking black dog with red eyes.

He saw the same dog right before he walked into his favorite café, nearly bumping into an old man holding a box of pastries and a tray of coffees.

Watch where youre going, why dontcha? the man growled, and Castle hastily apologized.

The dog appeared again near some bushes while he and Kate were walking in the park at lunch time. The detective saw nothing.

That evening, as he was sitting on the bed rubbing the days tension from her shoulders, something caught his eye and he looked up from his task and out the window. The dog with its glowing red eyes was watching him from the window of an apartment in the building across from his.

His hands stilled, and Kate lifted her head just enough to give him a sleepy smile. Mmm. Dont stop.

Beckett, he said slowly. Look out the window.

Her head snapped up then, and she looked. What am I looking at?

That...that dog, he said.

What dog?

He raised his hand to point. That dog right there. The giant black dog with the red eyes.

She looked again, but then glanced back at him, her eyebrows knitted. Castle, theres no dog.

He turned his eyes from her face to stare out the window again. No dog.

Leaning back against his chest, she sighed and settled into his grasp.

I think youre working too hard, she said quietly.

He brought one hand up to his face and pressed his fingers against his forehead. Maybe youre right.

-------

It was well past midnight and hed only been awake for a few minutes, but he could tell that Kate was nearly awake too, her breathing light.

Hmm.

If hed been working too hard, then maybe he should try playing a little harder. Besides, she was off work the next day.

He leveraged himself up on one elbow, skimming his fingers lightly over her shoulder toward the ridge of her collarbone and the soft skin that stretched tight over it. She sighed, but she wasnt quite awake yet.

Carefully, he lifted the blanket away from her body and watched in wonder as she instinctively moved closer to him.

He dropped his head to replace his fingers with his mouth, tasting the remnants of sweat and crime-solving on her skin, his palm smoothing down her side until he encountered bare thigh.

Inching upward, he fingered the edge of her nightshirt, pulling it up over her hip and revealing pale flesh broken only by a scrap of dark cotton that slid easily down her legs when he tugged on it.

Mmm, Castle, she groaned, and he looked up at her, found her watching him with eyes luminous in the dim room.

Hey, he husked, pressing one more kiss to the center of her chest, and she smiled, warm and sexy and adorably sleep-rumpled.

He pushed himself up until he could kneel between her legs, his fingers delving beneath the shirt she wore to remove it swiftly.

So beautiful, he whispered, and even in the near darkness he could see the way she blushed at his words.

Not so bad yourself, she teased, hooking a finger into the waistband of his boxers and pulling him back down until their chests pressed together, delicious friction and warmth sending both of their hearts pounding.

He kissed her then, slow and deep, taking his time with her until she was panting beneath him, her fingers clenching at his back muscles and her legs squeezing around his thighs, urging him closer.

And then he heard it.

A door slammed.

He lifted his head, his mouth popping wetly away from her neck.

Riiiiichaaaaard.

He pushed himself off her as quickly as he could, his legs still tangled with hers.

Castle, dont stop, she huffed, her fingers rising to curl around his ears and tug him back to her.

I- he began and then shook his head.

When he didnt answer, she lifted her hips against his, lowered a hand to let her nails rasp against his chest.

I heard a door slam, and then a voice calling my name, he blurted out, even as she scraped her teeth against his Adams apple. I think my loft is haunted.

No, its not, she assured him, hooking a lithe calf behind his knee and forcing their lower bodies together.

Really, Kate, he tried to tell her, but she was touching him in all the right places and he was starting to shiver for reasons other than fear.

Its not, she said, and she pressed against his shoulder, flipped him neatly onto his back so she could hover over him.

But... he tried again, his voice trailing off when she plastered the length of her body to his and he felt her hot breath washing over his ear.

Its on a timer. I just didnt count on being in the middle of...something when it started tonight.

He got both hands at her ribs, lifted her torso away from him so he could see her face, her hooded eyes. Wait. It...it was you?

She laughed, a throaty, dripping-with-sex, absolutely sensuous sound that made his spine tingle. The doors, the voices, the dog. Youre not the only one who knows people, Castle.

He gaped up at her, his mouth open in shock.

She grinned, pure happiness and a devious kind of pride flashing through the lust in her eyes.

Kate Beckett, he declared. I have never been more in love with you.

Yeah? she said with a smirk. Prove it.

-------

He sighed and felt her smile against his chest. A little help from Martha and Alexis, some expertise shared by their friend, the magician Tobias Strange, and a favor owed to her by a couple officers from the K-9 unitshe had explained everything.

Almost everything.

How *did* you manage that bump under the rug in my office?

She sat up. "Uh, Castle?"

"Hmm?" he murmured lazily, contentedly, his hand trailing softly up and down her bare side.

She captured his fingers in a tight grip, and he opened his eyes to take in the spooked expression on her face.

"I thought you were joking about that, she said quietly.

He shook his head. No.

And then she went pale. Castle, that wasn't me."

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story: Best Ever
Rating: T
Word count: 1571




Okay. So. This is weird.

His front door barely opens. He really has to push, throw his whole weight against it for it to budge, and when it finally gives, it squeaks and creaks ominously in its hinges. What is wrong with this thing?

Castle shoulders inside, immediately squeaks in an unmanly fashion when something stringy and sticky itches across his face. Ugh, gross, gross! He flails his arms like an impaired ninja, tries to wipe the thin, gluey strands off his forehead and hair. What is… are those spider webs? In his home? Gross. He shudders.

“Kate?” He calls into the darkness, her name almost echoing through the space but there is no answer; everything stays eerily silent.

He blinks, only now becoming aware that all the lights are off in his loft, even the entry light he usually leaves on. Instead his whole apartment lies dark; he can barely see anything except for a greenish, eerie glow that seems to float through the space.

Blinking a few more times, his eyes slowly seem to adapt to the gloom around him and he can make out a few silhouettes and shadows. He squints. Is that… a tree? Where his entry is usually a wide-open space, all sorts of shapes are now blocking his way. He steps closer, carefully reaches out a hand because who knows if something will come forth snapping at his fingers but all remains quiet, not a sound ripples through the ghostly quiet in the loft.

He touches his fingertips to what appears like the trunk of a tree. Plastic or papier-mâché, it looks like but yes, that’s definitely supposed to be a tree. He looks up, finds branches and fake leaves hanging over his head, knotting together with more branches from what looks like another tree just a couple of steps next to him. Forming a type of arch… or a path?

Castle drops his eyes to the ground and then he sees them, small pebbles that are glowing in bright orange, illuminating what appears to be a pathway that vanishes into the depths of the darkened space of his home. A skeleton forearm with its hand is stuck to the edge of the path, the bony index finger pointing into the darkness.

He grins, falling to his knees. Guess he’s supposed to follow the path.

He starts crawling forward. Squeaking, scratching sounds of critters suddenly sound from all around him and his heart stumbles for a moment. Then he laughs at himself; he’s being silly, right? It’s just his loft.

He keeps moving forward, following the narrow path that winds toward what he thinks is through his kitchen. He hates to admit it but he’s already lost a bit of his orientation. In his own home!

Something wet and ugh, slimy brushes across his face and he squeals again, and hopes nobody heard that. A gravestone sits by the side of the path, a bloody hand sticking up from the ground as if grasping for him to help.

The narrow pathway is blocking his sight of everything around him; he has no clue where even his furniture is within this whole setup. He pokes out a finger, feels something soft against his fingertips. A blanket maybe?

It’s a blanket fort! A big, elaborate Halloween blanket fort.

His own magical, creepy ghost Halloween forest.

Wow.

He stops, sits for a moment, his heart hammering in his chest as he takes it all in. Nobody has ever, ever gone out of their way to create something this spectacular just for him.

Kate. He knows she did this, without a doubt. That woman truly is extraordinary. He always knew it but since he got to know her so intimately, it only ever gets reinforced. By everything she does, the ways she challenges him, laughs with him, loves him, smiles at him.

And now she’s built him his own Halloween maze. Because he loves Halloween.

He swallows the lump in his throat that threatens to water his eyes. He really is getting soft. But wow yeah, for her… He smiles, imagines her hiding somewhere, waiting gleefully for his reaction. Her smile wide and teasing, but so filled with happiness and uncensored love. And he can do this to her, make her this happy. It’s like a gift that he treasures beyond anything.

He starts crawling forward again, at once eager to see what all awaits him, and to find her at the end of it.

Ghoulish sounds emanate from corners when he circles around, squeaks and howls and zombie growls. His hands step in wet, slimy things. Things brush past him, coming out of nowhere, like thin ghosts. There is blood dripping, mangled body parts strewn along the way. Spider webs stick to him like glue. Fake critters seem to crawl over him, there are light and sound effects, gravestones and witches and zombies and ghosts.

This is the most awesome thing ever!

The path winds through his place; he didn’t even know he had this much space in his home but it goes on and on, and he has to feel and find his way forward with the orange glow lights only occasionally pointing him in the right direction. He crawls along, dodges things coming at him, jumps in surprise. His heart hammers and sometimes he does squeak in a rather unmanly fashion but this is just awesome and fun and creepy and the best surprise ever.

The path now seems to come to an end; he stops, can’t quite figure out where he’s supposed to go next or what to do.

A weight lands on top of him and he groans, drops to the ground.

“Surprise,” Kate whispers against the shell of his ear, her breath teasing his skin and he shudders in anticipation, turns around underneath her.

She sits astride him, only illuminated by the green and orange glow lights that surround them but he can still make out the wide, happy smile that shines on her face. Her hair tumbles down in large waves and he is a bit surprised, almost expected her to be dressed up in a fitting costume as well but now he’s glad she isn’t because she is so breathtakingly gorgeous.

Her fingers run teasing circles over his pecs and his insides flutter, his skin immediately alive and heated under her touch.

“Did you like it?” She smiles, that tender touch of shyness in her eyes that he’s now so intimately familiar with but how could she ever doubt how amazing this is, how amazing she is.

He grins, runs his fingers down the side of her neck to tug her closer. “Best surprise ever.”

She resists his hand though, wiggles out of his grasp to sit up straight atop his hips. “Hmm, really?” Her fingers dance up his chest, circle over his shoulders and up his neck to come play with the strands of his hair. “I think I can do you one better.”

He grins; there’s no way, he can’t imagine anything that would top this but then Kate plays her fingers over his forehead and he can’t think; all thoughts vacating his brain like they always do when she touches him, smiles at him like this.

She paints the rim of his cheekbones, his nose, his jaw with wide brushstrokes of her thumb, slides the pads over his bottom lip as if she learns him by touch alone. Her eyes are wide, luminous. Earnest.

“Will you marry me?”

His heart stops beating for a moment, and then it starts hammering in his chest, leaping excitedly in his throat. She’s worrying her bottom lip with her teeth, seems to have stopped breathing as she waits for his answer, as if she’s worried what his answer might be.

As if there was ever any question.

He grins, the smile spreading wide across his cheeks, elated and pleased and stunned and so excited, he can barely contain it. Wrapping his arms around her back he sits up, tucks her tightly into his embrace, his face nudged into the welcoming cradle of her neck. Needs to soak in her slender body, the wonderful softness of her skin, her enticing scent, this astonishing reality, the magic of this moment.

He’s been wanting to ask her, wants to never have to spend time without her ever again, but he didn’t want to overwhelm her, or push her, and so he’s waited, looking to find the elusive signs whether she might be ready and now she’s asked him.

She built him a Halloween creepy ghost forest to ask him to marry her.

Kate wants to marry him. Wants to spend the rest of her life with him and it’s the most amazing, extraordinary thing and he can barely breathe, it is so very overwhelming.

“Castle,” she urges, pleads. He lifts his face to hers, finds her beautiful eyes, wide and shining, with love and need and nervousness. He needs to see her, watch her when he answers. His heart hammers but there’s no doubt, only certainty that rushes through his blood.

“Yes.” He nudges her nose with his, runs his palms around her neck to hold her close and her eyelids flutter, her body pliable, falling into him as she exhales a relieved breath.

“Yes of course.” Kisses her soft, sweet lips, once, twice.

“Yes. Yes. Always yes.”

Best surprise ever.

End


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: Samhain
Rating: T
Word count: 2500



Samhain was the ancient Celtic celebration of the New Year. It was believed on this night that the veils between this world and the Otherworld (the supernatural world) were thinnest, and the dead could make contact with the living. This celebration was Christianised, and eventually became the modern holiday Halloween. Aquae Sulis is current day Bath in England, and Siobhan is the Celtic equivalent of the name Johanna.

****

Something was afoot. It was nothing that anybody could put a name to, but the entire town of Aquae Sulis was buzzing with tension, and Kate could feel the pressure as she wandered the streets.

“We must celebrate Samhain!”

Kate froze. She spun on her heels, and looked into the face of one of her dearest companions. “Kevin!” She snarled. “Are you trying to get us both killed?”

Grabbing him by the ear, she pulled him into an alleyway. “Kevin, you know as well as I do that Brutus has forbad us from practicing,” she growled. The Celts and Romans had lived in peace for generations, until Titus Cornelius Brutus had been granted leadership of the town from Rome. His first action as governor had been to prohibit the practice of Celtic spirituality. Kate’s mother, the chief druidess, had been beaten and quartered in the town square for casting lots and reading what the bones foretold.

Samhain hadn’t been celebrated in three years.

“The people are on the brink of madness, Kate. If we do not appease our
Ancestors, I fear they will raze the town to the ground,” Kevin warned her.

Kate sighed heavily. “And what can I do about this?”

“Kate, we all know you’ve been contacting your mother every
Samhain’s Eve. You’re our druid. Do your duty and stand up to Brutus.”

“Attempting to contact my mother,” Kate muttered. Her lips twisted into a wry
grin. “I haven’t been gifted with the Second Sight.”

“Nevertheless, Kate. You’ve made your offerings to the Otherworld. Your family is safe. The rest of us are not so lucky.” Kevin looked at her with wide, imploring eyes. “Go to Brutus. Make him see reason. We must celebrate, or the town will burn.”

“The man hates me,” Kate warned him. “But I will do what I can,” she promised.

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted him. Lucius Rabirius Castus. A poet,
Roman born; having made his way to Aquae Sulis by roads of Port Magnus, Gaul and Cornwall. A look across the town square was all she could afford him. If Brutus were aware of their clandestine romance, Castus’s head would be cleaved from his shoulders before she could say Minerva.

A high-pitched wailing echoed through the air of the town. Women frantically grabbed their children, men’s hands dropped to the hilts of their swords, and
Kate heard more than one townsperson mutter the word “banshee”.

Ignoring the chaos, Kate stepped forward to investigate. Alexis, Castus’s beautiful, sweet daughter, was curled into a ball, tearing at her hair and scratching her arms, keening hysterically and begging for it all to go away, all the while pleading for her father.

Behind her, Kevin swore loudly. “Kate, she has the Sight,” he hissed.

Kate hastened forward. The girl’s fit would do nothing to allay the townsfolk, especially so close to Samhain. They would all see it as an attempt from the Otherworld to break into theirs.

Kate looked over at Castus, who was frozen in shock. She shook her head, indicating silently for him to turn tail and run home. “Child!” Kate addressed her comfortingly, desperately trying not to show her haste, or any sense of familiarity. “Child, you must calm yourself.” Kate grabbed the girl, wrapping her arms around her from behind, crushing the girl’s slight frame to her own. Kate shushed her quietly, whispering to her soothingly in the rolling tongue of the Celtic people. “Come on,” she whispered, as the girl’s breathing slowly reduced to shuddering gasps.

“Please, take me to my father,” Alexis pleaded.

“Of course. Come along,” Kate directed.

Kate could feel the eyes of the entire town on them as they made their way toward the town’s Roman quarter. She was mere steps away from the door to the Castus homestead when she heard bellows from Roman soldiers.

“Keep walking, Alexis. I’ll fend them off,” Kate whispered fiercely, shoving her towards her doorstep. “You will not touch that girl,” Kate growled.

“The girl was practicing sorcery. You know what the punishment is,” The centurion answered.

“You have absolutely no proof of that,” Kate responded; stepping into the middle of the footpath, ready to face off with the soldiers. She was roughly shoved aside, her head smashing against the cobblestone path. The last thing she was aware of as she faded into unconsciousness was Alexis being dragged away by her long red hair, Castus’s bellowing ringing in her ears.

****
Kate came to with a groan. She gingerly touched her hairline, her nimble fingers inspecting the damage to her skull. The gash wasn’t that deep.

“Castus, I am so sorry.”

Castus ceased his pacing. He knelt before the chaise where Kate lay, his face white.

“Don’t apologise,” He soothed her. “It was foolish for Alexis to wander the town alone so close to the New Year.”

“I should have protected her,” Kate insisted.

“That wound on your head suggests you did all you could,” Castus argued.

Kate brushed her fingers through his hair, nibbling on her lip. “Why didn’t you tell me she was a Seer?” She eventually asked.

Castus sighed. He pressed a kiss to her cheekbone. “Her mother was Cornish,” he began.

“Explains that red hair,” Kate interjected, trying desperately to say something to smooth the crease on Castus’s brow.

“Indeed,” Castus agreed, fiddling with one of the beads woven into Kate’s braids. “She died in childbirth four years ago. My son, too. Soon after, Alexis had her first vision. It scared the life out of me,” Castus explained. “We came to this town because of you. Alexis had a vision that involved you.” He ran a hand through his hair.

“So you just packed up your life and moved?”

“Alexis was adamant that meeting you would change the course of history.”

“And then you arrived, nearly four years ago to the day,” Kate murmured, shifting to sit up, ignoring the wave of nausea that hit her.

“I did. And I fell in love with you the second I saw you,”

Kate rolled her eyes. “Liar,” she teased. She leant forward, pressing a kiss to his lips. “Even if I manage to free her, there’s no way you can stay here. You have to leave.”

“Kate, no. We’ll find some other way,” Castus argued.

She rested her forehead against his. “Castus, there is no other way. I will not allow that man to take your daughter from you.” Her voice hitched. “Besides, you’ve met me already. I’m sure history will still be changed.” Her hand slipped through his hair. “Don’t worry, I’ll still let you write me those poems from the other side of the Empire,” she teased, referring to the epic tales he wrote of a Celtic woman-cum-goddess, whom Kate insisted seemed a little bit too extraordinary to be real.

“Castus, I have an idea.”

****
“You must let the people celebrate Samhain,” Kate growled as she crossed the threshold into Brutus’s villa.

“Must I?” He sneered.

“Have you walked the streets? The town is on the brink of insanity. If you do not allow them to honour their ancestors, they will burn the town to the ground.”

Kate rested her hands on the arms of Brutus’s chair, moving so her face was inches from his. “Do not make the mistake of believing that because the Romans seized control of this town that we have been broken. We are a warrior people. Any one of my kind would sooner tear open your throat with their teeth than pay tribute to Rome.”

“Do you really believe that hollowing out turnips and throwing bones on a bonfire will keep you safe?” Brutus scoffed.

“There has been no edict from Rome prohibiting traditional worship,” Kate snapped, suddenly grateful that her mother had insisted she receive a Roman education. “The people of the town you govern will raze the village to dust if you continue to deny them liberty. How will that reflect on your record in Rome?”
****
Kate donned her mask. The Samhain celebrations had begun in the early afternoon, far earlier than required, but the community was desperate to pay homage, and to make amends for the years they’d failed in their tribute. Kate had every intention of taking advantage of the madness to break Alexis free.

Drawing her black cloak around her, Kate stole into the town prison, using the hilt of her iron knife to knock the sole guard unconscious. She tossed Alexis a bundle of clothes. “You’re coming with me.”

****
“I don’t understand,” Alexis gasped out for the third time. “What’s happening?”

Kate looked back at Alexis, and made certain they weren’t being followed to her favourite grove. She came to an abrupt stop next to a fast moving stream, spilling forth from a cave. “You are a Seer, Alexis. It is my duty to have you live up to your heritage.”

Kate moved towards Alexis, inspecting the violet bruise splayed across her cheekbone. “This is who you are, Alexis. We’re going to contact the Otherworld, and then you and your father are getting the hell out of this town. I don’t care what your vision told you. You cannot stay here if you intend on giving your father grandchildren.”

“Kate, you don’t understand,” Alexis argued. “My vision wasn’t just about you.”

“We’re running out of time,” Kate reminded her.

“Kate, listen to me!” Alexis demanded. “My vision was about a man. This man will advise a King who can unite all the Britons and drive the Romans from this land.”

“Alexis, time is scarce. Your father will be here in moments, and he is taking you far away from here. If we don’t get started now, I will never see my mother again,” Kate begged, her eyes wet with tears she refused to shed.

“Let me speak first,” Alexis ordered. “We cannot leave. The man that I was given vision of is your son. Yours and my father’s. The vision I had in town today was of what will happen if I leave. Britannia will be decimated. The King will never come to be. Your son must be born. And my father and I must be here to allow that to happen.” Alexis stepped back from Kate. “This vision must come to fruition. If that means that Brutus separates my head from my body, then that is my duty to Britons this land over.” Alexis turned on her heel, ready to leave the grotto and return to her fate.

Kate snagged her arm, dragging her back. “Alexis, that would destroy your father and you know it. You will go back into that town alone over my dead body,” Kate whispered fiercely. She gently turned Alexis back towards the grove. “You never did anything like this with your Mama, did you?”

Alexis shook her head, drawing her cloak around her to guard against the wind. “We only ever left offerings of food and lit out hearth from the town bonfire.”

“This was my mother‘s favourite place,” Kate told Alexis. “She’s buried underneath that Oak right there. Tonight is the night that I teach you how to contact the Otherworld.”

Together, they lit the candles that sat on the smooth stone table from the torch Kate had carried from the town’s bonfire. Kate carefully unwrapped the
hearthcakes she’d spent the morning preparing, placing her offering on the stone table along with several of her mother’s favourite apples.

Kate reached for Alexis’s hand. She quietly began to mutter an incantation in the tongue of her people, repeating the words her mother had taught her as a girl, desperately hoping that this night would be different, and that the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead would be thin enough to allow her to see her mother again.

Alexis picked up the words of the chant, muttering along with Kate. Kate’s heart swelled with hope when the candles’ flames began to flicker and lengthen – a spirit was present.

Alexis gasped.

On the edge of the white stone table, Kate’s mother appeared. They’d done it.

Kate instantly burst into tears.

“My darling girl,” Siobhan breathed. Kate fell to her knees in front of the ghostly figure, weeping.

“Katie, my dear girl, I am so very proud of you,” Siobhan murmured, her ethereal hand reaching out as if to brush Kate’s cheek. “You must listen to this brilliant girl. The child you will bear Castus will give wisdom enough to save Britain. My darling girl, they cannot leave town now.”

“Who is to say I’m not already carrying the child? I cannot ask him to stay. Alexis will be taken from him the way you were taken from me. His heart is too light for that, and I cannot bear to watch him suffer.”

“The decision to leave should be mine, Kate,” Alexis interjected.

“You need to beat Brutus at his own game. Single combat, in the Roman fashion. Castus will take control of the town, and he can overturn Alexis’s death sentence. You need to challenge him tonight.”

A cold gust of wind rustled through the trees, and lightening tore open the sky. In the second Kate looked away from the table, her mother had disappeared.

“You have your orders, Kate. There are only a few hours of Samhain left.”

****
Kate ignored the mud that soaked into the hem of her cloak and dress. She ignored the celebration of the townspeople. She walked toward Brutus, who had insisted on setting up his own throne in the town square to oversee the madness.

“Brutus,” Kate bellowed, loud enough for the entire town to hear. She vaguely registered the whispers of the townsfolk as they gathered around her. She tightened her grip on Caliburnus, the sword hidden beneath her voluminous robe. Certain she had the eyes of the entire community on her, Kate tossed a glove at his feet. The symbol was understood unanimously.

Brutus sneered, one hand resting on his sword as he marched down to collect the glove.

“Does she really think she will defeat me?” He jeered, unsheathing his sword, posturing to the Roman soldiers amid the crowd.

Kate hesitated no longer. She threw back her cloak, drawing her sword from its sheath, and in one fluid movement, swung the blade and severed Brutus’s head. She tossed Caliburnus into the mud, deftly picking up the head. The townsfolk separated, nobody daring to cross her path as she made her way to the homestead.

Without a word, Kate skewered the head onto a pike and left the post to stand before her front door.

Entering the house, she was unsurprised to see Alexis and Castus warming them by the fire, drinking cups of unwatered wine with her father.

“It’s done,” She murmured, slinking over to sit on the arm of Castus’s chair.

“I hear I am to become a grandfather,” Kate’s father asked.

Kate shrugged, accepting a cup of wine. “I’ve always been partial to names beginning with M.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story: Arresting Devices
Rating: T
Word count: 2473



The music pulsed in waves around him.  An electric beat surrounding the dance floor.  Her eyes were dark and smoky, flashing with a mixture of desire and caution. This mystifyingly sexy woman.  He needed a plan.

Earlier that night

“Yes.  Uh huh…yes sir, I understand.  I’ll be there in twenty,” Beckett said, sighing as she ended the call and tossed her cell phone onto the bed. 

She quickly peeled off the costume she’d only just finished putting on.  A cop outfit that consisted of a tiny grey dress, belt with cuffs, and insanely tall spiked high heels.  Not original at all but with her schedule in Vice it was the easiest thing to throw together.  And she knew Madison would appreciate the humor.  Of course now she was getting called in on Halloween.  Go figure.

She pulled on her real uniform, grabbed her purse, and made a last minute decision to stuff the dress, plastic cuffs, and heels down into it.  Maybe she’d get lucky and be done early enough for the party.  Pocketing her phone, she took one last look back before closing her door.  She couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed.  It’d be nice to let go for a night, have some fun…

Work came first though.  She’d accepted that a while ago.  She locked her door and headed to the precinct.

XXXX

Castle was practically bouncing with energy.  Halloween was his favorite.  And he’d been looking forward to this for months.  He’d learned during research for his current Storm novel that one of the most notorious poker legends in NYC had been frequenting Club Tox lately.  He’d pitched the idea to his writer buddies immediately.  Halloween, high stakes poker, undercover.  It would be awesome.

So here he was putting the finishes touches on his costume.  It was Connelly’s idea that they all dress as literary characters.  He’d finally settled on Ichobad Crane. Alexis talked him out of dressing as the headless horseman after they’d spent an entire day perusing Halloween shops for severed heads and horse costumes.  And then she’d nixed both the raven and the tell-tale heart from Poe’s works. 

“The heart isn’t a character, Dad!  And do you really want to dress up as a bird?

Even at ten years old she was already far too sensible for him.   

He peered at himself in the mirror, pleased.  Long black coat that gave him the appearance of being taller, white turtleneck, and pale makeup that made his eyes gleam even bluer than usual.

Let the fun begin.

XXXX

A Vice shift on Halloween was never dull.  If it wasn’t crazy enough working the streets of New York City, combine costumes with excessive alcohol consumption and Beckett felt as though she was starring in the Thriller music video.  On cue, the eighteenth zombie she’d seen that night staggered by groaning and gesturing at her. 

Even worse, every girl in the city felt she had a free pass to dress like a hooker.  Tacking the word “sexy” onto any animal or profession equaled instant Halloween costume.

Okay, so maybe she was being hypocritical based on her own costume.  But it certainly didn’t make her job any easier trying to separate slutty college girls from actual prostitutes.

She glanced at her watch.  Just fifteen more minutes.

But as she was getting ready to return to the precinct, her radio buzzed with a message that they could use her for an undercover op.  They’d received a tip that there was activity in a gambling ring they’d been trying to take down for the last several months, at Club Tox. 

They needed someone who could easily blend into the crowd at the club, a trendy place that was also known for its high stakes poker games in a secret room adjacent to the dance floor.  Her only task was to watch for suspicious activity and contact her team if she identified the suspects.  After an hour, she’d be free for the night.

She ducked inside a coffee shop to change back into her costume.  Couldn’t exactly go undercover in uniform, so sexy cop was turning out to be pretty convenient.  It even gave her an excuse to keep her badge.

She felt her adrenaline increase as she approached the doors to the club, as it always did when she had the rare opportunity to go undercover.  She couldn’t deny that even though she’d been looking forward to a night off, she felt a rush at the chance to assist in something more than street work.  Who knows, maybe she could have still a little Halloween fun tonight.

XXXX

It was supposed to be fun.  And it was at first.  Poker in a secret room, club full of costumed people, higher than usual stakes.

But after a couple hours he only found himself out of a lot of money to Lehane and no sign of the rumored greats.

Oh, and there was the bet he’d lost.  Not one of his finer moments.  He needed a drink…or three.  Especially if they were going to call him on it.

No more cards for him tonight.

He’d just made it to the bar when he saw her.  The second she walked into the club, he couldn’t help but stop and stare. 

He found no explanation for the immediate and overwhelming connection he felt to her.  His eyes drawn like magnets to the long length of her legs in a short grey dress and heels, causing all of his blood to flow south.  A walking fantasy.  But it was her eyes that had him enraptured, so expressive as they met his across the room.  They briefly flashed with recognition, as though she’d been coming here to meet him all along.  He lost the ability to breathe momentarily while she held his gaze.

There was something about her.  The way she exuded confidence and allure.  She was gorgeous, no doubt.  But there was also something vulnerable about her.  A youth that glowed within her eyes.  A silent mystery to her movements that sparked his brain, always needing to write the rest of the story. 

Before he knew it, she was shrugging off her jacket at the coat check.  He suddenly realized what her costume was when he spotted the cuffs hanging from the belt around her waist.  A sexy cop.  He gulped as she tossed one last look at him, smirking knowingly before walking in the opposite direction.

He tried to follow her with his eyes but the club was too crowded, and within moments she’d disappeared between the waves of other costumed club goers.

“Hey buddy, you gonna stand there all night or are you going to tell me what you want to drink?” The annoyed tone of the bartender snapped him from his reverie and he reluctantly turned back to the bar.

But he couldn’t get her out of his mind.

XXXX

She shook her head, trying to regain focus.  But damn if her brain wasn’t swimming with the knowledge that she’d just seen Richard freaking Castle.  Her mother’s favorite author.  Her favorite author.  Hell, she’d been contemplating the idea of going to one of his book signings for a year now.  That is, if she ever had a day off.

But it was more than that.  It wasn’t just that she’d seen him.  He’d noticed her.  There’d been an almost tangible chemistry between them, even from across the room.  The realization set a warmth swirling through her veins that she couldn’t understand. 

How was it possible to feel such a strong connection to someone she’d never even met?

She didn’t have time to think about it though.  She was on duty.  She had a job to do. 

She slipped into the room where the cards were being dealt and pretended to busy herself with her cell phone at a table where she had a clean view.

She suppressed a laugh as she noticed the table full of writers, one chair empty. Presumably Castle’s spot?  She briefly wondered if he’d return.

They were all costumed as characters.  She made the quick deduction that they probably thought they were being clever going incognito.  And in this crowd, she imagined they had been largely successful based off of the multiple Snookis and 90’s neon and denim outfits she’d seen.  She highly doubted these people were big fans of English lit. 

Again, she forced herself to focus on scanning the rest of the room.  Three tables of college age kids, trying way too hard to look casual, a table of women, and a table with of people dressed as the Scooby Doo gang. 

No sign of any suspects.  That was for sure.  If there was no activity after an hour then she’d radio back in and be done.  Suddenly, she couldn’t seem shove away the nagging thought that if she could just get through that hour, maybe she’d see him again.

XXXX

He was both actively avoiding the poker room and scanning the crowd in the hopes of catching another glimpse of her.  He had no desire to get forced into making good on his bet.  Especially now that his mind was running full speed at the thought of her. 

At the curves of her body outlined in grey, skintight material.  The smooth legs that stretched for miles.  Those downright sinful heels.  She had been intoxicating.

But she’d disappeared.  Like some sort of beautiful apparition haunting his memory.  It’d been over an hour now and all he’d managed to do was down two drinks and bump into a lot of sweaty costumed dancers.  He was just about to give up when felt someone stumble into him again, grasping at his arm to steady his or herself.

“Sorry,” he and the person both said simultaneously.  He turned, only to find himself face to face with the women he’d been searching for.  Her eyes flickered from apology to surprise to something else he couldn’t quite read.  He barely registered that she was still gripping his arm and neither had moved.

“Do you know you have gorgeous eyes?” he blurted, before he could stop himself.

At that she released his arm and took a step back, rolling her eyes.

He groaned inwardly.  What the hell was he thinking?  This was clearly a woman worth more than what sounded like a bad line.

She turned to walk away just as he noticed Patterson and Cannell making their way toward him.  His mind worked furiously to form a plan.

“Wait!” he called, reaching out to touch her arm, immediately entranced by the flow of electricity that sparked at his fingers as they grazed her bare skin.

She startled and he wondered if she could feel it too, this inexplicable heat between them.  “Excuse me?” she raised her eyebrows in a silent question.

He took the opportunity to step in closer again, shielding himself from the view of his buddies in the process.

“It’s just…I need your help.  You see, I sort of lost a poker bet to my friends earlier.  The stakes can get pretty high here.”  He waggled his eyebrows at her, hoping to be impressive with his statement.  He studied her reaction, noticing the way her eyes gleamed golden in the light and her lips quirked up in amusement.  She didn’t back away so he continued.

“They’ve been looking for me and although I always…rise to a challenge, this one is rather illegal.”

“And just how am I supposed to help you?” she asked, still smirking at his innuendo.

He shrugged and leaned in to whisper in her ear, “Simple…arrest me.”

XXXX

She shivered, feeling a surge of arousal shoot through her.  Her body’s natural reaction to his breath along her ear.  Arrest him…she could definitely do that.

“And what exactly am I putting you under arrest for?” she asked, not even bothering to hide her curiosity.

“Stealing a police horse,” he replied, eyes dancing sheepishly as he ducked his head.

She couldn’t restrain the bubble of laughter that escaped.  “Stealing a police horse? Really?  Who makes a bet like that?”

He shrugged, “They thought it would fit with the character.”

Ahh. Ichobad Crane.  That explained the coat and pale skin.  Wow, these men really did get into their Halloween costumes.

He leaned in again.  “So, are you going to help me, Officer?”

Oh, the costume. Right.

“I’m not sure if you could handle it, Mr. Crane.”

XXXX

He finds himself up against the cold brick wall outside the club, as Patterson, Cannell, Connelly, and Lehane stand watching from a distance.

He grunts as she locks the cuffs into place, crowding him from behind.

“Bondage, I like it…my safe word is apples,” he says low and rough.

“I never promised to be gentle,” she whispers along the shell of his ear, pressing him into the wall.

In the back of his mind he wonders if his friends have bought it but, all he can really focus on is the feel of her warm breath against his skin and the way she has taken complete control, as if she knows exactly what she’s doing.

“They left, in case you were wondering,” she says, backing away to leave, and he blinks out of his thoughts.

“Wait, where are you going?” he cries out.  “This doesn’t have to be it.  We could grab some dinner or a drink…get to know each other,” he says, not above begging at this point.  He has to see this woman again.

“Why, Mr. Castle?  So I can be one of your conquests?” she says, biting her lip in a way that has him thoroughly aroused.  He never told her his name. 

“More like I would be one of yours,” he replies, admiring the way her eyes tease him, flecks of gold and green in the darkness.

“Happy Halloween, Castle.  It was nice to meet you,” she says, sauntering away.

“Don’t you need these back?” he asks, holding his cuffed hands up toward her.

“Nah, I’ve got a real pair,” she says, winking at him mischievously.

“It would have been great, you know,” he says as she walks away, hips swinging in her short grey dress.

“You have no idea,” she practically purrs, with one last look back.

Oh, but he has lots of ideas.  His mind is swirling with them, in fact.

The last thing he registers before she’s out of sight is her voice answering her phone.  “Officer Beckett.”

Officer?  She was actually an officer?! And now he had her name too.  He would find her again.  Happy Halloween, indeed.

XXXX

When he actually does get arrested that next spring he recognizes her voice immediately.

“Finally made good on that bet, Castle?”

Even through the haze of alcohol and the embarrassing lack of clothing he can’t help but grin.

He’s more than happy to allow her to cuff him again.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: Great Minds
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 2498



Castle has arranged everything. He's got a theme, most of the decoration, and he's already sent out invitations (there was even one for Captain Gates, since he's still trying - and failing - to get back into her good graces).

He doesn't think she'll come. But who knows? He remembers that unexpected smile on her face when he gave her the Gemini doll, the warmth in her voice the next day when she talked about Nikki Heat, and a flicker of guilt travels through him for ruining that.

Eh. Not his fault the USB and glass eye were hidden inside the ugly thing. Besides, he's already bought the captain new ones - he's spent a ridiculous amount of money trying to fix this - and she still hasn't forgiven him.

Whatever. He doesn't care.

What matters is: his Halloween party is but days away, and he still hasn't found a costume.

He heaves a deep sigh and drops his chin into his open palm, stares at the open screen in front of him. He's been on websites that he had no idea even existed, peered at geeky stuff and fun stuff and historical stuff, but he's still not sure.

Problem is... He wants them to match.

And he's not exactly certain that Kate will wear any of the costumes he's got his eye on.

The Princess Leia getup is definitely out of the question, as much as he would love that. The Catwoman suit...? He dreamily pictures Kate's smooth lines and curves hugged in shiny black leather, and when she does come into his study, all long legs and gorgeous eyes, and leans over his shoulder, he's too distracted to remember to close his laptop.

"Wall-E?" she says, in that dry tone that he loves. "Seriously, Castle? You're that desperate for a good Halloween costume?"

"Actually, I was looking at-"

And then he stops, shuts his mouth - but it's too late already.

Kate reaches out to scroll down, round breast pressed at his shoulder blade, and he holds his breath, feels a dark strand of hair tingling at his neck. She studies the screen, no doubt noticing that most attires are meant for women, then turns slitted eyes to him.

Yikes.

"What are you doing, Rick?"

Oh, like she doesn't know.

He opens his eyes wide for his best innocent look. It doesn't seem to work too well.

"Nothing," he lies, wanting to press his mouth to the tempting angle of her jaw. She's so close.

"Nothing, really," she echoes, her voice that cold, arched-eyebrow tone that she uses in interrogation. "Because it sure looks like you were in the middle of buying me a costume."

He says nothing, has a feeling he should maybe call his lawyer.

"Castle."

He's never been able to resist her.

"I just wanted us to match," he explains, hears the whine in the words. Not good. "I was... going to surprise you," he says, carefully suppressing the childishness from his voice. "But I haven't found anything good enough for us both."

She opens her mouth and he can see she's not sure which part of that to answer first. She pushes herself up again, takes that lovely brush of a breast away from him as she skirts his desk, hands on her hips.

She spins back to him, a curious look on her face - disbelief meshed with repressed laughter, he thinks.

"You wanted us to match."

He's not sure what's so wrong about that, so he gives a little nod. He did, he does want matching costumes for them. Seriously, how cute would they look as Antony and Cleopatra? Ohh, Antony and Cleopatra - that's a good one-

"Castle. We've been, successfully if painfully, hiding our relationship from everyone at the precinct, including Esposito and Ryan, and even Lanie. And you want our costumes to match? At a party they're all invited to? Jeez, even Gates-"

"Gates is never going to show up," he objects with more confidence than he feels.

"Still, Rick - come on. Wearing matching costumes would be like wearing a neon sign that says, We're together. No way."

He would like to argue. He really would. But he's got nothing.

"Besides," Kate adds, that dark, teasing look flashing in her eyes as she lays her palms on his desk, leans in a little, "I've already got my outfit all figured out, Castle. And I'm not changing it."

"You have?" Excitement flares in his stomach. He remembers that year when she wouldn't even tell him whether or not she was coming - and now she's got her costume planned in advance?

"Uh-huh," she drops, her voice that low caress that always sets his nerves on fire. "And before you even ask - no, I'm not telling."

"Ka-ate," he begs, but she's already pushing off his desk, laughing at him while she steps back into the living-room, hips swaying in the exact same way as they did after that very first case.

Ugh. Frustrating, maddening - he got that right.

But he might have forgotten to mention sexy as hell.

-----

The moment he gets a chance, he corners Esposito and Ryan at the precinct, grills them thoroughly. (Well, he grills Ryan; Esposito throws him a, Why d'ya wanna know? and pretty much walks out.)

Neither of the guys know what Kate’s costume will be.

It's so unfair.

He's got a spare key to her apartment. He could sneak in when she's not home, do some snooping.

But he remembers all too well that time when he tracked Alexis using the GPS on her phone, the way Kate reacted, the disapproving look in her eyes. She'd kill him if she knew he was even thinking that.

He likes their teasing game too much to risk it. She wants to surprise him, fine. He'll get his own costume, then, and maybe next year they can coordinate. He wants it so badly; his chest clenches at the thought.

He's never had anyone to coordinate outfits with. Gina would never dress up at all - of course not, it was for children - and the only time Meredith agreed to do it, was supposed to be the Little Red Riding Hood to his Big Bad Wolf, she turned up dressed as Marie-Antoinette instead.

It's stupid, he knows, but years after he still remembers that sharp pang of disappointment, betrayal almost, when she appeared at the door. Talk about foreshadowing.

So he'll wait for Kate. No big deal. She's not going anywhere; she's told him that, showed him over and over again. He believes her.

He can wait one more year for them to be Daredevil and Elektra.

In the meantime-

Oh, yeah. He knows exactly who he's going to be for Halloween.

-----

Ten past ten, and she still isn't here.

He's trying to keep an eye on the door while listening to Ryan and Esposito's conversation, and as a result, he only hears one word out of two. It makes it a little difficult to take an active part in it.

He nervously straightens his jacket, feels the weight of the holster and fake gun under his arm. Seriously, he doesn't know how Bond moves so seamlessly. That thing's seriously awkward.

His eyes dart to the door again.

"Waiting for a special someone, Castle?" Esposito asks in that abrupt way of his, quirking an eyebrow.

Ryan keeps quiet, which is surprising, but right then the door opens and Rick really can't pay any sort of attention to the boys-

Oh no.

Shit.

Seriously?

Victoria Gates walks into his loft, very recognizable despite the fact that her hair is frizzy and tied back at her neck; her arm is hooked around a man's, her husband very probably, a white guy with silver hair who looks in his mid-fifties. He's wearing a summer shirt on top of a long-sleeved tee, a palm tree print that's a little bit ridiculous but also feels strangely familiar.

There's something in his shirt pocket - a plastic toy? Castle can't quite see from where he is.

He makes his way to them, plastering his host smile on his face, and then Gates turns to him and the red leather top she's wearing-

It's all he can do not to burst out laughing.

Right. It's not just any toy in her husband's front pocket - it's a miniature dinosaur. This is awesome.

"Mr. Castle," Captain Gates greets, her voice even and cool as usual.

He's got to admit, she makes a pretty great Zoe. Even though he never would have guessed she was a Firefly fan.

"Captain," he says with a little nod, knowing his mouth must be twisting with the smile he's fighting so hard.

"This is my husband, Alan. Alan, this is Richard Castle, our...civilian consultant."

The way she says the words - it surprises him. There's a sort of reluctant acceptance there, and he suddenly wonders if this is Gates's idea of a peace offering, her showing up to his Halloween party.

"Nice to meet you, Alan," he smiles as he shakes the man's hand, meeting a pair of grey, intelligent eyes. "I like your costume."

Alan smiles back, not embarrassed in the slightest. "Our daughter was the biggest Firefly fan when the show came out; she got us addicted to it. You can't imagine the tragedy in the Gates household when we learned it wasn't renewed."

Castle stares, mouth parted on a laugh that won't come out. "Actually. I might have an idea."

Gates has a defiant look in her eyes, like she's challenging him to comment, but when he says nothing her face softens. Before either of them can speak again, the bell rings, and Rick bolts to the door with an excuse me thrown over his shoulder, certainty curling in his gut.

It's her; he knows it's her.

He yanks the door open - and he's not disappointed.

Kate Beckett stands in front of him, her dark hair gathered up in an elaborate hairdo that has golden beads and pearls dangling from her temples, her eyes made wider and greener by the subtle make-up. Her dress - is that even a dress?

It looks like purple veils artistically wrapped around her body, with a golden bustier holding the whole thing together, matched by bracelets around her biceps, her wrists. There's a scarf knotted around her waist, too, emphasizing the graceful curve of her hips, and holy crap-

Is she Scheherazade? Are the veils coming off for him?

He can't find his voice.

Her eyes twinkle, the only outward reaction she will give, it seems, and she nods at him.

"Can I come in?"

"Uh, yeah," he answers, transfixed, moving to the side. And then he changes his mind, blocks the door with his body. Their chests brush. "Wait. Tell me who you are first."

Kate tilts her head, a slow smile stretching her lips. "Guess, Castle."

He stares at her until suddenly his brain starts working again - and he knows.

"You're Mata Hari," he whispers; her expression tells him he's guessed right.

Shit. How awesome is that?

She's a spy too.

-----

He spends most of his evening watching her.

Not only does she look stunning in her Mata Hari outfit (and seriously, how cool is it that she even knows this shit?) but the way she effortlessly mingles with people, dazzles everyone with her gorgeous laugh - it fascinates him.

She's at the frontier between Beckett and Kate tonight, relaxed and confident, in control, her eyes deep and mesmerizing even as she listens to Patterson's lame jokes, and Castle wishes, so badly, that he could go over to her and wrap an arm around her waist.

Claim her.

This is the woman who loves me.

But Gates is here, her eyes just as sharp as usual despite the couple drinks she's had, and he knows he can't do that.

Probably the reason why Kate's staying away from him, too. She's not taking any chances. He understands, of course. But it still sucks.

He wants to touch her. He wants to curl his fingers at her elbow, feel her skin respond to his.

As if she can read his mind, she looks up, meets his eyes across the room. A tiny smile lifts the corner of her mouth, the dark glow of promise in her eyes, and his stomach twists with his need for her.

The second the last guest is out of the door, he tells himself. The second they're alone together - James Bond is gonna get to know Mata Hari a whole lot better.

-----

"So you liked it?" she asks him, much later, when she's draped over his chest and he can only see the faint outline of her face in the darkness.

"I thought we'd already had this conversation," he smiles, running his thumb across the smooth skin of her forearm.

Her hand lifts over his chest, falls back, and if she meant to smack him she really ought to put a little more strength into it. Not that he's complaining, of course.

"You know I don't mean...this," she murmurs, and he feels the edge of her smile at his shoulder. "You've been pretty - vocal - about how much you like this, Castle."

He grins in the dark, knows she's right. Totally her fault, too. All those veils slowly peeled off, her skin revealed inch by inch.

Times like tonight, he's actually glad his daughter moved out. And that his mother found herself another Halloween party to attend.

"Did you like my Mata Hari outfit?" she prompts when he doesn't answer, lost in fresh, vivid memories of all the ways their bodies fit together.

He hums happily, tightening his arm around her waist, fingers brushing at her side.

"Oh, I did. Very much. Smart. And sexy."

Kate makes that little laughing sound at the back of her throat, pride and pleasure both, and she sighs into his chest, "Good."

God, he loves her so much.

"You know what I liked most about it though?" he says despite himself, wrapping a strand of her dark hair around his index finger.

"What?" she asks, clearly expecting something dirty.

Not what he has in mind, though.

"We matched," he says, trying to keep the satisfaction in his voice to a bare minimum.

He's met with surprised silence, and when she speaks again, her voice is soft.

"Both of us spies," she acknowledges. He can hear her smile. "That make you happy, Castle?"

"You have no idea," he says, knows she can probably hear it all, the goofy, stupid joy that breaks free in his chest.

They didn't even plan it.

Great minds.

"Next year," she murmurs, a kiss brushed to his jaw. "You can choose our costumes, Rick."

His breath stills in his chest. "Yeah?"

"Yeah," she promises, fingers dancing at his chest. "But careful what you pick, Castle. Cause the year after that? It's my turn."



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: The House That Haunted Us
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 2498




“Come on, Carl!” Billy called from the dinning room door. “You’re missing all the fun!”

Carl nodded and waved his friend off. “We’re coming!” He yelled, turning to his girlfriend, who was giving him a terrified look. “Come on, Becca! This is supposed to be fun!”

The girl snorted and crossed her arms. “Well, it’s not, ok? I’m tired of this. I wanna go home.”

“Hey, I told you you weren’t going to like this and you insisted on coming. At least try not ruin it for me, will you?”

Becca glared at him and turned around. “Well, excuse me if being hunted by creepers in an old haunted house is not my idea of a fun night.”

Carl ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “It’s all fake, babe. They’re actors, like in the movies.” He tried to reassure his girlfriend.

The girl shook her head. “I know, but it’s still scary.”

Carl smirked. “That’s what I’m here for.” He said, putting his arms around her waist. “To protect you.”

The girl smiled and leaned her head on her boyfriend’s shoulder, putting a kiss on his neck. “Ok.”

Nothing made them suspect, that in just mere minutes, a decapitated man in a coffin was going to ruin their ‘fun’.
XXXX

Castle kept bouncing on his feet as they approached the crime scene. They had gotten the call half an hour ago, and since she had told him about it, the writer had been acting like a kid on Christmas morning.

The crime scene was a haunted house, a fake one, of course. Halloween was in a few days and as it happened every year, everything scary was a big hit all around the country.

A couple of years ago, a group of young men just out of college, had decided to get their own piece of the cake by creating the ‘Real Haunted House Experience’, and Castle was…  Well, ‘excited’ didn’t even start to cover it.

They arrived at the house, an old Victorian building that was more than perfect for the ‘haunted house’ charade. The place gave Kate the chills just by looking at it.

“Oh, my god! This place is awesome!” Castle shrieked, as soon as they put a foot inside the house.

Everything was set as if it were a real abandoned house. The antique furniture was dusty, there were spider webs hanging of the ceiling and some of the stuff was covered with dirty, white sheets. It was creepy. Horror-movie creepy.

Castle kept commenting on everything he spotted around him. “Look at these old paintings.” He said, touching one of the frames and then cleaning his finger in his pants. “They’re horrible!”

“Ok, Castle, I know you’re excited, but we’re here to investigate a murder. Try to be a little less… cheerful, ok?” Kate scolded as she turned around, trying to hide a smirk. She really loved that dorky side of his.

They walked into the big living room, the printed wallpaper making Kate’s eyes hurt at the horrible pattern. ‘Horror house or not, who would want to put that atrocity on their walls? ‘ She thought. The room was enormous. Three big windows surrounded the place with heavy, blue velvet curtains. Most of the furniture was covered with sheets and the big chimney was still lit, the sound and the light of the fire giving the living room an even more phantasmagoric look.

Uniforms and CSU agents were all around the room, searching for any kind of clue and documenting every single thing they thought out of place; which had to be a very hard task, since everything should be out of place in a haunted house, right?

They approached Ryan and Esposito, who were standing in the middle of the room before an open casket, observing while Lanie examined the body.

“A body in a coffin…” Castle started. “I thought we put them there after Lanie cut them open, not before.”

The ME turned around, giving Castle a glare, her left eyebrow arching dangerously. “Aren’t you funny, Writer Boy…” She replied.

Kate chuckled, giving her partner and amused look as she walked closer to the wooden box, peeking over it. “Garlic?” She asked incredulously.

Lanie nodded, handing the detective one of the hundreds of garlic heads that were on the coffin. “Yup; tons of them.”

“According to the witnesses they were covering the body.” Ryan chimed in. “Do you think this could be any kind of ritual?”

“Hm. I don’t know.” Kate mumbled, rounding the casket as she took a look at the body. “The head was completely cut off…” She observed. “Apart from the garlic, is there anything that could suggest a ritual murder?”

Lanie shook her head. “No. Not that I can see right now. Sometimes there are marks on the body, herbs or specific kinds of food on the stomach… You’ll have to wait until I perform the autopsy.”

“Ok. Thanks, Lanie.” The detective said, stepping aside the coffin and signaling the boys and Castle to follow her.

“Have you talked to all the witnesses yet?” Beckett asked the boys.

Esposito winced and pointed upstairs with his head. “No, just two of them. They’re upstairs trying to calm the girls down. They’re practically kids.”

“Fine.” Kate wrote something on her pad and pointed to both the boys with her pen. “You two go upstair-“

“Hmm hmm. “ Castle hawked.

Beckett sighed and turned to her partner, one of her bests ‘looks’ on. “What, Castle?”

He just stood there, looking at her, pouting and giving her the most devastating puppy dog eyes she had ever seen.

“Ugh. Ok!” The detective growled. She turned to Ryan and Esposito again, trying to ignore the boys’ knowing look. No one talked about it, but they all knew that Castle and Beckett’s little secret wasn’t such a thing anymore. “We will go upstairs to interview the witnesses, and you guys can go back to the precinct and try to contact the owners of the house. Maybe any of them knows who our headless man is.”
XXXX

When Castle and Beckett entered the room, the two girls were still crying. Four boys, around 20 years old were surrounding them, trying to comfort them.

“Come on, Becca. It’s ok. It’s gonna be ok, baby.” A blond young man, mumbled in the ear of a brunette girl who was grabbing his shirt for dear life.

“I told you we should have left!” She sobbed. “We could have died!”

Beckett walked inside the room, clearing her throat to attract the kids’ attention. “Hi. I’m detective Kate Beckett and this is my partner, Rick Castle. We need to ask you some questions about what happened here tonight.”

The boys nodded, stepping aside to let her get closer to them. “Can you please tell me what happened? How did you find the body?”

A tall, dark haired boy talked. “We were following the instructions. They give you an itinerary. You have to follow the rules and do what they tell you so you don’t miss any of the ‘acts’.”

“Acts?” Castle asked.

Another boy nodded. “Yes. They have like a show, you know? Things happen all around the house, but it’s not funny if you’re not there to see them, right?”

The writer frowned. “Right.”

“So you have to follow the itinerary. First you have to leave the suitcase in your room, then you have to meet with the others at the corridor and then you go downstairs and enter the living room. Things happen when you do that. Like noises in the room, the drawers open by themselves, the frames on the walls move… That kind of stuff.”

“Uh huh.” Beckett assented. “So you went into the living room and…?”

Carl sniffled and went on with the story. “We got in there and the sheet said that we had to open the coffin, so we did.” The boy stopped and took a deep breath, sneaking his arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders. “There were like a million garlic heads in there and we thought it was funny.”

A strangled laugh sounded behind Castle.

“Ok, go on.” Beckett encouraged. “What happened then?”

Carl swallowed and licked his lips. “We… Billy started throwing the garlic to us. We were playing. It was fun. Then, one of the heads hit Becca in the face.” Carl stopped and looked back at the girl. “There was blood in it.”

“And then you stopped throwing the garlic?” Beckett asked.

Billy coughed and scratched his head. “Um, no. I thought it was fake blood. You know, like cranberry syrup or something like that. I didn’t realized it was real until I touched the guy’s hair.”

Castle tilted his head to one side, narrowing his eyes in wonder. “How did you know the head wasn’t fake?” He asked intrigued. “It could have been part of the atrezzo.”

The boy shook his head effusively. “No, man. No way those eyes could be fake. The moment I saw it I knew it was real.”

Beckett took a pause from writing on her pad and took a look at the six kids. “So I guess that’s when you called 911, right?”

“Yes.” Carl agreed.

“Can we go now?”

Beckett turned to look at the girl snuggled against Carl’s side, her eyes red rimmed and her hair tousled. “Sure. We’ll call you if we need to ask you anything else. Thanks for your collaboration.”  She blurted, stepping aside, so that the two girls and Carl could get up from the bed they were sitting on and get out of the room.
XXXX

When they were alone, Beckett looked at Castle who was still lost in thought. “What? You think any of them did it?” She asked.

“No. Not really. They were all too shaken.” He replied. “But, I seriously think that we need to take a look at the place, see if the CSU missed anything.”

Beckett smiled, walking closer to him and pocking him with a finger. “You just want to snoop around the haunted house, Castle.”

“Yes. So what? I’m just trying to do a thorough investigative work, detective.” He said, circling her waist with his arms and bringing her closer to him. “But since you’re so reluctant, I’ve decided to start my exploration somewhere else.”

Castle leaned in and caught her mouth with his; nipping on her lower lip until she moaned his name.

“Castle…” Kate sighed. “We shouldn’t do this. Hands to ourselves when we’re working, remember?”

Castle chuckled and moved his burning lips to her neck, running his tongue along the length of it. “We’ve tried that, Kate. Never works.” He mumbled, making her skin stand up in goosebumps. “We need another course of action.”

“Uh huh.”

The detective felt her knees start to fail her and hooked her arms around her boyfriend’s neck, letting out a gasp when he took it as an encouragement and bit down hard on her jugular.

“Aaahhh. Castle! If I find a mark in there later, you’re a dead man!” She threatened.

He laughed. “No marks.” He whispered against her ear. “I know you a little, you know?”

Castle was waiting for her reply, but it never came. When he removed his lips from her neck to look at her, the look in her eyes was anything but amused, or even aroused.

“Kate?” He called. “What is it? Are you ok?”

“I… um… th-that painting. It winked!” She gasped. “H-How did it wink?”

Castle turned around to check on the painting. It was an old man sitting on a bench with a bouquet of flowers in his hand. His eyes were both open and he was smiling.

“Kate… This is a haunted house. It was probably one of the tricks they use for the guests.” He tried to reassure her. There was no way it could be anything else.

Kate nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, it has to be that.” She laughed nervously. “It just caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting that.”

“Of course.” The writer replied, letting a mild mocking tone in. “That’s why you practically stopped breathing.”

Kate glared at him, her eyes practically burning his skin. “You better stop that if you want to continue what you started here later.” She warned.

“Later?”

Suddenly, all the doors in the corridor started slamming closed one by one, startling the couple, who were still tangled in each other’s arms, looking at the corridor incredulously.

Kate let go of Castle’s neck and straightened her blouse with unsteady hands. “Ok, this is officially freaking me out.

“Yeah. Me too. Let’s get out of here.”

That was easy to say, but when they tried to open the door that led to the stairs, it didn’t work.

“Castle, it doesn’t open…” Kate said through gritted teeth as she tried to turn the doorknob over and over again.

The writer swallowed hard and rubbed his eyes, trying to clear his mind. “What do you mean, ‘it doesn’t open’?”

“That it’s opening easily, Castle. What the hell would I mean?” Kate snapped.

“Ok. Ok. Let’s calm down. We’re both getting nervous.” Castle said. “There are people down there who know we’re here.”

“Yeah, the-…”

The lights went off.

They were locked in the dark, in the second floor of a ‘haunted’ house. Could it get any worse?

Apparently, yes.

Steps. They heard steps coming towards them, and they were not regular steps. These were heavy and slow, as if someone were dragging their feet along the floor.

“Hello?” Kate called. “We’re locked in here! Can you help us?”

“Grrrrraaaahhhhuuummmlllll”

Castle grabbed Kate’s hand and pulled her to him. “What the hell was that?” He hissed.

The guttural noise came out again, a little closer this time.

“I don’t know, but we better get outta here!” She whispered. “Open up, you stupid door!”

They both struggled with the wooden piece until they heard a crack and the door popped open.

The two partners ran downstairs as fast as they could, making the CSU team and all the uniforms in the living room look at them in confusion. Before they could start explaining their behavior, they heard someone coming down the stairs. Kate practically jumped the three steps left and walked backwards until her body hit the wall. Castle followed.

Their faces went white when Ryan and Esposito came down the stairs, laughing so hard they couldn’t breathe.

“Oh, my God!” Ryan said between shallow breaths. “That was the funniest thing ever!”

“You bet, bro!” Espo replied. “You should see your faces.”

The latin detective, passed by them and handed Castle an ipad with a ‘remote’ app open.

“This house is better than a video game, man.”

With that, the two detectives left the house, still laughing at their partners.

Kate gritted her teeth and plucked the ipad from Castle’s hands. “You better start thinking of a good alibi, ‘cause I’m gonna kill those two.”

Castle nodded and added, “And I’ll help.”


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: Simply Epic
Rating: K+
Word count: 2497



It was going to be epic.

Castle had fully intended to rope Kate into being his better half . . . for the party, of course. She might not be ready to pick a china pattern, but surely she'd understand the need to commemorate their first Halloween as a couple. Right?

He had outed them the previous week by showing up to a crime scene wearing a smear of Kate's lipstick on his cheek. Even the unflappable Detective Beckett couldn't help but blush under the other detectives' intense scrutiny. When Lanie had threatened to swab Castle's cheek and Kate's lips for evidence they had to confess.

Gates had graciously chosen to look the other way so, now that they were safe, Castle's biggest concern was their costume.

He and Alexis had done every Star Wars combo imaginable, that was until "The Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma Incident of '02," after which Alexis had held an intervention. Castle had rebelled by being a space cowboy for the next three years.

The pressure was on. Sonny & Cher? Cleopatra & Marc Antony? Two ends of a cow? He was getting desperate. He was a best-selling author with an imagination the size of Wyoming. Why in the world couldn't he come up with something more clever?

Ooh, maybe they could be the Borg and 'assimilate' all their guests? Hmm, he liked the concept but costume hijacking would no doubt be in poor form according to polite society.

"I'm not going to wear spandex, Castle." Kate hadn't even looked up or paused while typing her report.

She was good.

"Well, that eliminates all superheroes, most Bond girls, and Seven of Nine." His brow scrunched.

"Can't we just be Waldos and disappear into the crowd?"

"Well, I'd have to redecorate the loft to incorporate random striping so we'd blend in, but I'm not totally opposed to the idea."

She rolled her eyes but the edges of her mouth tugged only just concealing her amusement. "How about 'red shirts' then we can leave the party half-way through?"

He leaned his elbow on her desk, closed his fist and rested his chin on it. "That would depend on why you wanted to leave the party early." He quirked his eyebrow at her.

She couldn't help but smile, but her expression quickly turned pensive.

"Castle," she looked around the bullpen to make sure they were out of earshot of others. "I know they knowabout us, but being in joint costumes will make it seem like we're . . ." she was searching for the right phrase, "hosting together."

"Well, yeah. I mean, I'm hosting and you're going to be my date so I guess that could be taken as hosting together." He studied her then added, "but this is about more than an issue of semantics, isn't it?" He glanced away.

Kate rested a hand on his knee to make her point.

"Castle, it's not that I don't want to advertise that we're together, it's just that I'm used to being in the background. In all the years you've known me, how many parties have I thrown?"

He looked conflicted then covertly caressed her hand as he weighed his words.

"Kate, you've always known that the spotlight is part of the Richard Castle package. Everyone's been discreet so far, but I am a public figure so it won't be long until page six is all over this and that will be much more invasive than a private party." He dipped his head to try to meet her lowered eyes. He added patiently, "Kate, you know I would never pressure you into anything, but I won't always be able to shield you from that part of my life."

He brushed her hand with his fingers one last time then straightened. He had expected her to drop her hand from his knee but instead she applied enough pressure to still his movements.

She finally looked into his eyes, her expression open and vulnerable. "Castle, you've sat in that chair patiently . . . well, persistently anyway, for four years." His expression softened to match hers. "I guess it's time I stepped into your world, and one day maybe I'll be as comfortable at a book launch as you are at a crime scene."

"I'd like that."

She shook her head, "I just wish I could be everything you need me to be right now."

He leveled his eyes at her playfully, "Why, Detective Beckett, you are much more than what I need, you are my dreams personified."

She rolled her eyes, dismissing his sappy sentiment. "Well, I guess I could at least be your arm candy at the party."

He asked in a shocked tone, "You mean you would host the party with me?"

She laughed lightly. "Semantics."

"I'll take it as a win."

"Castle, nothing outlandish."

Just then Ryan and Esposito entered.

Castle asked them, "You're both coming right?"

"You Bet."

"Wouldn't miss it, Bro."

"Beckett, I think I have the perfect solution so you won't feel singled out." He turned to the boys, "Have you picked your costumes yet?"




"How in the world did you get fatigues with the ranks and names of the Stargate SG-1 characters in our exact sizes? Wait, isn't this impersonating an officer?"


"I know people, and technically 'no' since the Air Force changed from the traditional camo to the pixellated uniforms a few years back. Anyway, only you and Espo have ranks. I'm an alien and Ryan's a civilian."

Castle had already affixed a bald scalp piece to cover his hair and was adhering a golden emblem to his forehead while Kate tied her combat boots. He turned to admire her. "And I thought spandex was hot! I have to say you definitely know how to work a uniform, Major Carter."

She looked at her lapels and nodded, "So it's Major Carter, then?"

"During the best years of the show."

"Well, Teal'c, when are Daniel Jackson and Colonel O'Neill getting here?" She groaned, "Espo's going to insist I salute him, isn't he?"

Rick schooled his expression and flicked up a single eyebrow, "Indeed."

She followed him into the living room where he tossed her a replica of the 'Carter Special,' a modified assault rifle, then he started wielding a staff weapon. She rolled her eyes as he flipped it over and pressed a button that split the end and activated a blue light.

"Wow! You should feel the weight on this, I think they might have actually gotten this from off world!"

She turned on her heel. "I think I need a drink already."

Castle started whipping the staff weapon around, pretending to fight off enemy Jaffa. He was facing away from the kitchen then suddenly spun around, whirling his extended staff and . . . THWACK!

Kate hit the ground, her glass went flying towards the kitchen and shattered.

Rick froze in horror for a split second then dropped to her side.

She was curled on the ground, moaning and covering her face. All he could mutter was, "Oh, Kate!" He had felt the sickening crack reverberate through the metal as it had squarely made contact. His hands hovered but he hesitated to touch her. "Are you okay?" He shook his head – definitely a stupid question. "I mean, let me see."

She removed her hands to expose first one very watery eye then her inflamed nose and the gush of blood emanating from it. She turned towards him fully and he saw her swollen cheek as well. His own eyes pricked from the guilt of what he'd done. She clenched her eyes shut, but through the pain she gripped his arm and managed, "Castle, it was an accident."

"I'll get some ice then we'll go."

"No, I'll be fine in a few minutes."

He ran to the kitchen, grabbed an icepack from the freezer, wrapped it in a towel then dampened another cloth. She tried to smile at him, "Thanks." He ever so gently tried to clean the blood from her face and then held the towel against her nose to try to stem the bleeding.

To Castle, words had never seemed so impotent. Every phrase he could conjure to convey his self-loathing sounded in his mind like nothing more than, 'Gee, Kate, sorry about your face. My bad.' Silence won by default.

He settled on the floor behind her and scooted them so he was leaning against the couch and she against his chest. He held the cloth with one hand then secured her firmly against him with the other.

Kate couldn't keep her eyes from tearing. She focused on feeling Rick's breath against her neck and his hand splayed on her stomach rather than her rapidly swelling nose.

After a few more minutes of stunned silence Castle kissed her hair, "Kate, we need to go to the ER. I felt your nose break." He winced as his mind replayed the horrific moment.

"Maybe Lanie will come as Dr. Frazier and she can magically cure me. Seemed to work for SG-1 on a weekly basis." She tilted her head towards him and awkwardly attempted a smile. "I'm okay, really."

He clenched his jaw tighter than Kate thought possible.

"Castle, would it make you feel better if we went?"

"It would make you feel better, so yes."

"What about the party?"

"It will be in good hands. Mother's slinking into her 'Cats' outfit right now and Alexis will be over with a few friends from college in about half an hour."

Despite his penetrating concern, it was really hard to take him seriously while he was bald and sporting a gilded tattoo.

"Alright."



No amount of name-dropping, or badge flashing could jump them forward in line. They sat in the company of a vomiting vampire, a family dressed as life-sized crayons, a limping Abraham Lincoln, and three zombies, whom had Castle on edge. To pass the time he entertained Kate with an elaborate story that tied them all together, weaving new characters into the mix with each whoosh of the automatic doors. Kate leaned into him as he alternated playing with her hair and brushing his hand along her arm. The constant touching did more to sooth her than the four aspirin she had taken.


Despite the pain she kept reassuring him that it was just an accident.

Despite her assurances, he would never forgive himself.

"Castle."

"Yeah."

"Sorry you're missing your party."

He looked at her suspiciously. "Wait. Beckett, was this an elaborate ruse to get out of hostess duties?"

"You got me. I used mind control to make you whack my face."
He considered. "You know, it's a bit early in our relationship for my first domestic abuse charge."
"Your first? Are you planning on running me over with a sleigh at Christmas? Setting off fireworks inside my apartment on 4th of July?"

"Only if you need an excuse to dramatically escape from a social obligation. Never doubt that I have your back, Partner."

She nuzzled the back of her head into his shoulder and played with his fingers.

"I never have."

Finally, after an x-ray and multiple recitations of how exactly she had been injured, the doctor set and taped her broken nose, packed it with gauze, gave her Vicodin pills, and ordered her to rest.

Kate had refused to take the meds until she was snug in her own bed. Castle couldn't leave Alexis with clean up duty, nor could he leave Kate alone in her apartment so he asked her to stay at the loft for the night.

"The least I can do is wait on you hand and foot. Please, Kate, let me do this." She nodded, if only to assuage his guilt, although the last thing she really wanted to do was walk into a party looking and feeling as pathetic as she did.

They opened the door to quite a sight. Five gallons of liquid chocolate had spilled on the floor from the tipped fondue fountain, Martha was belting out 'Memories,' with a smitten gentleman caller, Esposito was cuffing a young guy whom Ryan had pinned, and Alexis was running her hands through her hair while pacing in circles, unsure where to start with damage control.

Kate raised her eyebrows at the chaos. Castle, unfazed, led her to his bedroom mostly undetected then closed the door and eased her to the bed. He filled a glass with water and shook a pill into her palm then unlaced her combat boots and tugged them off. He placed his fists on the mattress on either side of her hips, leaned into her, and tenderly kissed her good cheek. He brushed his own cheek against hers and breathed, "I'll be right back." She ran the back of her finger down his forearm and nodded.

Alexis met him at the bedroom door, handed him an ice pack then briefed him.

"Gram got a hit on her gray-dar, obviously. Patterson and Judge Markway found our light sabers and got into a duel that ended badly for the fondue fountain and culled the ghost Peeps. My study partner, 'Thor,' over there apparently goes from polite brainiac to moron after one drink. He used a pick up line on me that Detectives Esposito and Ryan found inappropriate. They subdued him to defend my honor.

"Good." God bless Esposito and Ryan.

Castle surveyed the scene before him then looked back at his bedroom door.

"Dad, I'm still your wingman. I've got this. Jenny and Lanie are going to help me clean while the guys make sure Thor 'gets home safely.'" She used air quotes.

She nodded towards the door to his room. "Go." He grimaced, feeling both thankful and guilty that his daughter was taking charge.

"Pumpkin-"

"I know, what would you do without me? Yeah, yeah, now, scoot!"
Castle kissed his daughter's temple then returned to the bedside. Kate was sprawled with her mouth slack and brow relaxed in sleep. Her cheek was turning a vivid purple and her nose had to be throbbing relentlessly. His hands still felt the echoes of the mortifying vibrations from the moment of impact and he knew he'd be forever haunted by them.

Still, seeing his partner asleep in his bed was such a precious sight. He gingerly undressed her to the comfort level of a well-worn t-shirt and underwear then tucked her beneath the covers. He stroked her hair and lightly kissed the corner of her mouth while being mindful of her injuries. His heart swelled in adoration as he whispered, "You being here, Kate, . . . Best. Halloween. Ever."

He'd even call it epic.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: What the Closet Revealed
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 2498



“Castle, where’s your phone?”

The glare she levels at him might be lost in the darkness, but darn if that keeps her from using it against him.

“Well, uh. Kate, I’m sorry. I left it on your desk. Didn’t think I’d need it.”

He does sound a little sheepish, so her glare might have gotten through to him, somehow.

“Where’s yours anyway?”

Ah. This time, there’s no missing the smugness underlying his words, that little smirk of his that irritates the heck out of her. She wants to wipe it off his face, nip at those full lips and kiss them back into place, find that too clever tongue of his with hers and teach it a trick or two of her own. Slide her hands down his shoulders, his arms, find his fingers with her own – oh, his knowing digits that write Nikki Heat, map out paths of fire against her skin, cup her breasts –

Wait.

“Castle!” she whispers, her voice a strangled high-pitched thing in her throat as his hands slide down her sides, squeeze her waist, scorching her skin even through her clothes and spreading the blaze in her veins on their way down, down, down –

“Are you –” she begins, swallowing thickly, claiming control of her throat. “Are you out of your sweet mind? Did you or did you not agree to the no PDA policy at my workplace?”

Kate feels his breath in her ear, preceding a low chuckle that tickles her nerve endings in the most delicious way and – oh – how is she even going to survive this? Aggravating man.

“Well, technically, this is not where you work, Kate,” Castle explains, sounding all patient and reasonable, and if she doesn’t go crazy first, she might find his ear in the dark and swat it – hard – because she cannot for the life of her follow the logic behind his behavior or his words. “We are currently in the supply closet and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen you work from here in the four years we’ve known each other.”

Kate shakes her head, disbelieving, because here they are indeed, locked in the supply closet at the 12th and the man is fiddling with recreational semantics.”

“Castle, I don’t think you’ve taken in the seriousness of our plight – “

“Ooh, plight. I love it when you use your words. So hot – Ouch! Kaaate. This is not my ear you’re twitching here!”

She sighs, releasing his – whatever she had managed grab in the pitch-black darkness of their unorthodox prison cell.

“Castle, focus. How are we getting out of here inconspicuously?”

Kate realizes her mistake as she hears his breath hitch, the excited gasp he lets out at her five-syllable word.

“Don’t. Don’t even go there. We’ve got to get out of here, fast, before anyone notices we’re missing.”

“Well,” Castle begins, and he sounds more grounded, “Even though you spectacularly failed to answer my fairly simple question about your phone, I think the body search clearly established you’re not carrying yours either, right?”

“Body search? That’s what you are going for?” Kate gasps. Unbelievable. This man is unbelievable.


“Kate,” Castle huffs. “Did you think I was trying to ravish you? You should know by now that any ravishing that takes place between you and me ends up in far more than roving hands and aborted making out sessions. No, I was merely asking you a question and was forced into, ahem, taking matters into my hands when you didn’t answer. You did seem a little distracted. Come on, Beckett, can’t you see we’re locked in? Focus!”





He loves to needle her, get under her skin, then watch the evidence of her growing irritation, the first sparkles of temper igniting like firewood. It warms the skin of her chest, neck and cheeks with a delicious flush, the vein in her brow beating in time with her heart. And then there’s that dangerous tinge of darkness in her eyes as her pupils dilate and meld with the softer green and brown of her irises.

Her tells are singularly similar to the state he likes to drive her to in the privacy of his home or hers, when their aroused bodies fight to get closer, faster, cannot wait to – oh, yeah. He has her under his skin all right, and he loves to get her bothered, in both senses of the word.

It’s eerie how he intuits her every mood, how electric their connection is. How, even now, temporarily deprived of the sense of sight, he can feel in his bones the full spectrum of her emotions.

They’ve been here awhile – fifteen, perhaps twenty minutes, difficult to say – and he’s been trying to fix the knob that mysteriously severed itself from the door and remained in his hand when he drew it shut earlier.

None too gently, Kate pointed out at the time (because she is mean like that), but Castle knows otherwise and he’s been fumbling at the lock long enough now to be sure that no amount of door banging could have resulted in this clean cut in perfectly sound and solid metal.

“Could be the work of a poltergeist,” he muses.

Kate sighs but he can hear her smile too, her annoyance abated, morphed into quiet resignation now that they have ruled out gunning the door down and crying out for help to attract someone’s attention. Well, the whole Precinct’s attention, more likely, and the hilarity that would ensue would be relentless, the bad jokes, the endless teasing – ugh. Doesn’t bear thinking about.

“Mmm, yes, Castle. Poltergeist is a totally acceptable excuse for your clumsiness.”

“Kate!” he protests. “No fair. We both know it would have happened to you if you had been the last one into the closet.”

“Ah, but I wasn’t and it didn’t. So, how do you propose we placate this poltergeist and convince it to let us out in time for your Halloween party and preferably before we become the laughing stock of the whole Precinct?”

Castle slides against the wall and joins Kate on the floor, where he knows she is sitting. She finds his hand in the dark, laces her fingers with his, leans her head against his shoulder.

Mmm. He doesn’t mind staying here all night as long as she’s by his side. Who needs a fun Halloween party, Christmas in Paris or Carnival in Venice when they can share a supply closet with their partner?

A poke in his ribs, a nip at his earlobe. Ah, yes. Answer required.

It’s got to have something to do with that doll I broke,” he theorizes. “I’m reaping the effects of Gates’ wrath and you… hmm, must be collateral damage.”

Kate lets out a chuckle, a beautiful thing, light and free even within the confines of the closet.

“Gates would have to be dead to get poltergeist status. Besides, she doesn’t need to die to make your life a living hell.”

“Ah, yes. Gates still alive. Point taken. So…”

Kate suddenly springs to her feet, her hand still in his and she draws on his arm, hoisting him up beside her. She slides her arms around his neck, fingers toying gently with his hair as he gathers her against him, hikes her shirt up a few inches to find skin. She’s all lithe and lean and warm against him, coiled energy barely repressed as he feels the ripple of her muscles against his palms. She is a panther, quiet and graceful but always ready to –

– Uh-huh. No. Not a panther; he doesn’t need to deal with a big cat right now. Been there, done that… The Precinct poltergeist is new, however, and is providing sufficient amusement for the time being.

“So I suggest we do what we came in here for while we wait. Someone’s bound to need a pen or a new cartridge for their printer at one point. We’ll give our best shot at acting normal and they’ll let us out. End of story.”

“Much as I appreciate your no-nonsense reasoning, Detective, surely you must see the catch. How do we look at those carved pumpkins and vote for the best one when the bulb burned out on us when I switched on the light?”

“Like a blind person would?” she answers.

And yeah, that’s pretty awesome. She’s smart, his Kate. She has all the best ideas.

“We find those pumpkins,” she continues, moving them in the direction of the pumpkins that everyone hid in the closet to keep Gates from turning them into purée before the contest could even take place. “And we let our fingers figure out their stories. Think you can do that, Writer-boy?”

“Writer-man,” Castle corrects her with a growl (like she shouldn’t know better), as he gropes around for a pumpkin.

“Oh, that one’s mine,” he says, immediately recognizing the familiar shape he dedicated hours carving.

Castle fumbles for Kate’s fingers and directs them to his work of art. “Can you guess what it is?”

Kate hums quietly as her digits shape the contours of the carving. “Mmm, feels like letters at the bottom… and then there’s some kind of long shape above… F.R.O.Z… Frozen Heat? Castle, did you carve Nikki Heat into a pumpkin?”

“Yes! That’s the cover art of Frozen Heat.” He is bouncing on his toes, his body buzzing with excitement. “Took me ages to do. Makes you want me, right?”


“Well, I reserve judgment on the art work until the light comes back.” Kate sounds stern and annoyed and doesn’t grace him with an answer for his last question (he wasn’t really expecting one) but he knows she is laughing silently from the vibrations he picks up in the air. “How about we move on to the next one?” she adds as she steps to the right and touches their joint fingers to the pumpkin next to his.




Even though she knows better than to stroke her partner’s ego, Kate Beckett is fairly impressed by Castle’s pumpkin carving skills. The pumpkin she is currently holding, however, will not by any stretch of the imagination end up on the receiving end of well-deserved praise. By no fault of its own – but still – the vegetable is wobbly, dusty, and there is some sort of hole on its side, a rough, gaping wound that nearly has her dialing 911. Well, she would if only she hadn’t left her phone in the pocket of her leather jacket on her chair.

“I don’t know what to make of that one, Castle. You?”

Castle’s hands brush hers as he blindly reaches for the pumpkin to try his luck.

He doesn’t say anything for a while and she smiles into the silence as she imagines the snarky comment he is bound to make about the messily carved cucurbit.

“Oh, it’s a girl wearing a satin dress, obviously.”

Er. Wait. What?

Oh, he is being sarcastic. Of course he is.

“Do you know this story, Kate?” Castle continues, oblivious of her arched eyebrows and gaping mouth. “There’s this girl from New-York, works in a box-factory and is as poor as Job’s turkey. One day, she gets invited to a fancy party but of she has no money to buy a suitable dress so she rents one from the pawnshop near her home after work. It’s a beautiful white satin dress and she looks radiant in it.”

Castle pauses and Kate hears him moisten his lips as she stands transfixed next to him, his storyteller voice lulling her into the spooky folktale.

“At the party, time quickly slips away as the girl is caught in a whirlwind of excitement and awe, and is inundated with dance partners. After a few hours, however, she is overwhelmed with nausea while she keeps hearing a ghostly voice whisper in her ear: ‘Give me back my dress… I want it back.’ The girl is found dead the day after and the autopsy report states she has been poisoned by embalming fluids. Turns out that the dress that killed the young woman was removed from the body of a dead girl just before her casket was nailed…” Castle trails off, infusing his story with a healthy dose of Halloween cheer.

“And that, Kate, is the true story behind the carving of this pumpkin. Actually,” he adds as an afterthought, “I think it’s Ryan’s.”

“What is Ryan’s?

The sudden glare of unexpected brightness blinds them to the world as a voice that registers as Ryan’s booms into the room. They squint through their fingers as they get accustomed to the light and start to discern his dark figure outlined against a décor of Twelfth Precinct bustle and paraphernalia.

Castle is trying, Kate can tell, but is miserably failing at this whole looking normal thing they’ve had going for a few months.

“I was –uh – showing her my pumpkin.”

Ryan walks into the supply closet and snorts through a giant smirk.

“Showing her your pumpkin. With the light off. Sure, guys. Is that what the cool kids call it these days?”

“No, Ryan, seriously,” Kate stumbles through an explanation, but Ryan looks all too pleased with himself. “Bulb burned out, we got locked in. Bad luck. But castle really was showing me his pumpkin.”

“Eww, Beckett, bet he was. But could you please steer the conversation away from your vegetable patch? Just so you know, you might be fooling everyone else, but you’re not fooling me. But don’t worry,” he whispers conspiratorially, “Your secret’s safe with me.”

And on that note, he is gone.

Beckett rouses from the shock first and she thumps Castle’s arm to shake the dumbstruck expression off his face.

“Come on, Castle. We need to get going.”

Kate walks out of the closet (and what is it with closets recently?) feeling like a busted kid, followed by Castle, his own head held none too high. She gets to the comparative safety of her desk, reaches out for her phone –

“Detective Beckett. Mr. Castle. In my office.”

Gates. Figures.

Kate catches Castle’s caught in the headlight panicked look, silently pleads with him to just stop looking guilty as he trudges through the bullpen behind her.

“Detective, where have you been? Have you seen the time?”

“Sir, I –”

“If you want to go to that tacky party of Mr. Castle’s, you better be on your way. You’re on call and Halloween being a favorite among murderers, I have the feeling you will catch a weird one first thing tomorrow morning. Now I have my own party to get to,” she says, standing up from behind her desk. “Good-night, Detective, Mr. Castle.”

Kate glances at Castle as they are left stranded in Gates’ office, stupefaction painted across his features in what may well be a mirror of her own expression.

They stare after Gates as she strides through the Precinct and into the elevator, oozing cool authority and collected self-confidence in a rustle of billowing white satin.



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Story: A Hunted Castle
Rating: T
Word count: 2490




It was completely out of the question that she was going this year. She’d always refused to go, every single year and every single year she ended up being there anyways. Sometimes the boys had dragged her there even though they were working on a case at the time, they just didn’t care and once she even went because she had to see what (or more specifically) who was there as well. She could never blame the boys for wanting a little bit of fun and she had to confess, Castle’s Halloween parties really were the best but this year, no, this year she just really couldn’t and wouldn’t go.
Just imagining it gave her a terrible headache.
Up until now everything had gone perfectly smooth. Well, almost. Their relationship was still a secret. That was, if she didn’t consider Alexis and Martha knowing about it.
That said, they had been in some really precarious situations more than once and the boys as well as Lanie knew that she wasn’t single anymore. She was actually surprised at how well Castle was dealing with it, he chimed right in whenever the boys started teasing her. He always paid for it later though. And with that trip to the Hamptons they actually both paid for it. Damn that case, now Ryan knew and Kate had no idea for how long he would be able to keep quiet about it.
The Halloween party might be a trigger for him to spill the beans or he might just drop a stupid comment that would give their secret away. She knew it he might do that accidentally. It was Ryan after all but she didn’t want to risk it.
It wasn’t like the boys didn’t know Castle’s loft as well, they’d been there often enough to know their way around. But everyone got familiar with a place after a certain time. You could actually see by their behaviour if they were living in a place or not. And Beckett…she’d definitely been living at Castle’s loft. They stayed at her place often enough but Kate had noticed herself how differently she behaved whenever she was in the loft. She and Martha had a different way of talking to each other, she felt comfortable in every corner of the flat and the worst part if the boys or Lanie came over, there were a lot of her toiletries in the bathroom. Yes, it was Castle’s en-suite but during a party the toilets tended to be used, and not just the guest toilets. And she was almost certain that she’d lost a pair of earrings somewhere in the living room and Castle hadn’t found them yet. Lanie would recognise them and even Esposito would get suspicious.
“Come on, Kate! You have to come!” he begged her again with puppy dog eyes and pulled her out of her thoughts.
“I told you already, Castle, I won’t. There’s no way in hell that I’ll come this year.”
“But they’ll suspect something if you’re not here. What reason could you have to be somewhere else?”
“I am having a horror film night with my boyfriend. Ryan won’t tell on us and Esposito will believe it because he knows I actually do have a boyfriend.”
“Can’t you humour me then? Or my mother? She was so looking forward to this.”
“Try as much as you like, I am not coming. Now drop it or you won’t get anything from me anymore tonight.”
Castle grumbled but said nothing more about the matter. He was sure he’d find a way to convince her even if it took him till the last minute. For now he stayed silent though because he really didn’t like spending the night alone anymore.
***
The bad mood started three days later. The invitations for the Halloween Party had been sent out ages ago. Okay, maybe just two months ago but still. It always took some people a very, very long time to RSVP. Some however, had already given their yes.
It was lunch time when he got the call. One of his regular guests had to cancel. His mother, who lived in Europe, was ill and he had to go over to see her and wasn’t sure when he’d be back. It was past 2pm when he got another call. Another regular had to cancel because her very new boyfriend had a weekend trip planned for them and she didn’t want him to cancel that because their relationship was so new. By the end of the day he had received 5 cancellations. 5 bloody cancellations in one single day. It really put him in a bad mood and not even Beckett managed to cheer him up.
“It’s like the first day of bad luck! And it’s your fault too!” he moaned at her, almost hanging over his chair in the precinct, drawing a long face.
“How is it my fault?”
“Yesterday! When we went to the crime scene, remember?”
“Oh. Come on, Castle, you can’t be that superstitious.”
“Well, I am. You made me walk under that ladder even though I didn’t want to!”
“There was no other way to go and we were in a hurry.”
“It’s not like a dead body is going anywhere, now is it.”
“Alright, fine. If you want to blame me, blame me, but I have nothing to do with this. Maybe this just isn’t the year. Maybe –“ she said and after quickly looking around leaned in closer to him, finished her sentence ”- this is the year where we can spend a scary horror movie night together without a party.”
He smiled a little at that but it didn’t satisfy him.
“I call it my first day of bad luck anyways. Bad luck from walking under a ladder.”
On the second day of bad luck it was rather quiet. No one cancelled, no one agreed to come either.
Beckett managed to keep Castle occupied by giving him tasks that would help solve their current case and by the end of the day, they had another scumbag locked up safely behind bars and the boys were joking around about Castle’s misery. Ryan told Castle he couldn’t make it which was when Castle moaned about being cursed again.
“You gonna have to find another magician to un-curse you?” Esposito asked with sly grin but Castle ignored him.
Day four and five weren’t very eventful either. Some people had the courtesy to call and tell Castle that they couldn’t come. Alexis was home over the weekend and kept her father’s spirit up by making jack-o-lanterns and getting some decoration ready that she could hang up in her room at the college dorm. Beckett had her own means to keep Castle’s spirit up during the night.
On the sixth day, Castle was seriously getting worried. He had not even had one single guest RSVP-ing, not a single one – except for the ones who cancelled again. He had no idea why – except for the fact that he walked under a ladder and had bad luck for the rest of his life – and he didn’t know what he would do if no one came. Or if just one person came and he’d have to tell them that the party was cancelled completely.
He had a hard time concentrating at work and when a new homicide was called in he couldn’t focus. Whenever Beckett asked what he was thinking (about the case), he’d get out a new theory of why no one came to his party.
“Do you think they didn’t like Frozen Heat and they don’t want to tell me so they’re avoiding me?”
“No Castle, your book was brilliant as always. Now focus.”
“But what if they think this year’s theme was too appalling?”
“What is this year’s theme?”
“None really…Marvel maybe…”
“Whatever it is, stop wondering and help me solve this case.”
“Only if you help me figure out why no one’s coming.”
“Fine,” she replied just to make him shut up about it for a while.
The days passed by but Castle still couldn’t find a reason why no one was coming. There were only three days left till the date of the party (it was obviously going to take place before the actual Halloween because some of his guests had kids and they had to go trick or treating on the 31st) and he was now thinking about alternative plans for the night.
Beckett kind of enjoyed watching him being so worried over a tiny little party, it was fun. But then, she did know how much it actually meant to him. So that by Friday evening after solving another case that allowed them to have their Saturday off, she invited him for drinks and brought the boys and Lanie along. Both Esposito and Lanie had cancelled during the week. Castle had been absolutely gutted.
“You always come to my party! Even if you’re working on a case!” he’d said and had gotten a wave of apologies that didn’t quite satisfy him but he eventually just stopped arguing and sulked away.
Now they were having some drinks together and it seemed like Castle had forgiven them again.
The night wore on and soon one after the other left so that only Castle and Beckett were sitting at the bar.
“Now you don’t even need an excuse not to come. I am so very disappointed in all my guests. How could they do this to me?”
“Next year, Castle. We can do it properly then. But for now, let’s just enjoy a nice weekend off.”
She drowned her drink and took his hand.
“Come on, I’ve got something for you,” she added teasingly and together they went to her apartment.
She’d found his costume for the night – Captain America – during the week and had smuggled it to her place. She’d found an Elektra costume for herself – there was no harm in teasing him a little bit – and she was about to show it to him. Her plan was to convince him to just have a little party themselves at his place but only after a peaceful day at her apartment.
When she told him, he was over the moon about the idea of having a private party and even more so about her costume. They spent all of Saturday morning in bed, went for a walk in the park during the afternoon and got themselves ready for a private party in the evening.
What they didn’t know, was that the loft was occupied.
There was actually no reason for them to be dressed up since they were having a private party but Beckett liked to tease Castle ever so often and dressing up just happened to be one of the things which drove him crazy. And she had fun too.
She was wearing a black coat over her costume – which she did cover up a bit because it would’ve been a bit too showy – and Castle kept trying to get the coat off her in the elevator.
When she’d seen him in his Captain America outfit first she wasn’t sure whether it was better to laugh or to admire. She did both.
“Why didn’t you go for Iron Man, wouldn’t that have been better for you?”
“Why, because of our similarities? Ruggedly handsome, rich and creative?”
“And served with way too much ego, yes.”
“There are no good and half way comfortable Iron Man costumes out there that look authentic and building one was too hard…”
It had made sense to her. And she liked him as Captain America. And it was hard to resist Captain America.
“Will you just leave it? We’re not even in the loft yet.”
“That hasn’t bothered you before…”
“Yeah well, I wasn’t wearing a red leather costume then.”
He grinned at her but did give in and just held her hand.
The elevator opened, the two of them got out and went to the door. There, Castle spun her around and kissed her fiercely and she kissed him back for a moment but then remembered something and tried to stop the kiss but it was already too late.
“KATE?!” she heard the very surprised voice of her best friend and the gasps from several people who stood behind Lanie who had opened the door, wanting to scream “Surprise” at them.
Castle had immediately let go of Kate when he heard her name but it was too late. They knew. Not all of them but enough.
“What is going on here?!”
“Hi dad…” Alexis peeped around the door and looked at a very flushed Kate Beckett and an utterly surprised Richard Castle.
“It was supposed to be a…well…prank and surprise…I guess the surprise is on you though,” the girl answered her father’s question.
“What kind of prank. What is going on, what are all these people doing here? They all said they couldn’t come?” Castle was really confused now and looked at Kate who – even though she was feeling really hot and sweaty and uncomfortable because her friend kept staring at her in disbelieve – had a hard time not to start laughing.
“I’m sorry Castle. This was supposed to come out a bit differently. Alexis called me a while ago. She had this plan of getting back at you for the Zombie outfit and every other prank you ever played on her and she needed my help. I stole your guest list and gave it to her and she and Martha called everyone to cancel and RSVP to them instead.”
“You let them make me believe that I was being haunted by bad luck for walking under a ladder just so they could prank me?!”
“Yeah.”
“Oh Kate, I love you.”
She blushed again and hoped no one but the people at the door – Lanie, Esposito, Ryan, Martha and Alexis – could hear.
“Well…it didn’t quite have the effect we intended.”
“Oh, you did great. I really believed I was having a streak of very bad luck.”
He finally stepped into the loft, hugged his daughter and then looked around to see who was there.
Almost everyone who was ever invited was there, filling every bit of space and looking fantastic in their costumes, drinking and finally, starting to talk again. Castle went and played the lovely host, laughing about how his family tricked him and making sure about who had seen him and Kate kiss. Beckett told Lanie to not say anything for now because she wanted to enjoy the party and her friend obliged with a serious frown on her face – as did Detective Esposito.
In the end, all she wanted was to have a bit of fun. The fact that their secret was out, didn’t matter that much anymore.
“She even managed to make you come after all,” she heard him whisper into her ear at one point and she laughed.
“She is your daughter after all.”


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Story: Real Live Haunted HouseRating: Unknown
Word count: 2476




“No, Castle.”

“Come on.”  He duck-walks Ryan’s rolling chair towards her at the murder board. “We so need to go.”

“I’m not going. Take Shaggy with you instead.”

His eyebrows twitch at that, but he doesn’t relent.

“But it’s a haunted house. And it’s almost Halloween. And you won’t wear the slutty nurse costume I bought-”

Ninja-fast, she’s twisting his ear, and he’s dropped to one knee on the floor, grimacing and wrenching her hand away. “Jeez, woman. You-”

“No.”

He rubs at his ear over and over, scowling at her, and she lifts an eyebrow down at him, on his knees in front of her, in the same instant that Ryan comes back and starts looking for his chair.

He whistles at the scene, and then the whole bullpen is looking, and Castle’s eyes go wide for a flaring moment before he scrambles to his feet to make a big production out of her ear-twisting.

Ryan has a strange look on his face when he approaches them, but he comandeers his chair. Castle turns to him. “Hey, convince Beckett to come check out the Real Live Haunted House with me.”

Ryan grins. “Ohhh, so not a proposal?”

“Shut up,” Kate growls, turning away from both of them.

“Real Live Haunted House, Beckett. When does that ever happen?”

“Last year?” she says snarkily, turning to look at him. He’s fist-bumping Ryan and looks entirely too pleased with himself. And she realizes she’s admitted that they encountered something - other-wordly - at last year’s murder scene. “I mean. . .”

“Okay, but this time it’s real.”

“It’s never real, Castle.”

“This time it’s Paranormal Activity 5. I swear. Come on.”

“Ohh, those movies were so good,” Ryan says, leaning against the back of his chair.

Castle grins. “I know, right? So good. When she goes to the crib-” He shivers hard and his eyebrows wriggle in delight.

Ryan is nodding eagerly. “Have you-”

“Okay, girls,” Beckett sighs. “Wanna wait to have this discussion until the sleepover? Give you something to look forward to.”

Ryan slinks off, rolling his chair back to his desk, and Castle turns his body to hem her in, his face that eager and intractable please.

“Come on. Real-”

“If you say Real Live Haunted House one more time, Rick Castle, our sleepover is canceled.”

-----

Even as she walks along the side of the house, cloaked in deep darkness, she still can’t believe she’s here.

“This is so cool,” he whispers at her back. “Isn’t it so cool? This-”

“Shut up until we get inside,” she hisses at him, nudging open the squeaky wrought iron gate with her hip. Beckett turns back to look at him, to make sure that didn’t leave a mark on his ego, but she needn’t have worried.

He’s still entirely too delighted.

Castle’s hand snags at her hip, crowding her through the gate, and just to keep that burning touch off of her, she takes his fingers, laces hers through his to pull him into the back yard.

He waits, vibrating with excitement as she stops at the dilapidated back porch.

“It’s supposed to be unlocked,” he whispers.

“This is trespassing,” she warns him again.

“Not really. Everyone goes. Come on.”

“I can’t believe you suckered me into driving all the way to Jersey-”

“Come on, Beckett. Stop dawdling. If you’re scared, just say so.”

She glares at him in the darkness and turns back to the door. The house is practically in ruins, the last crumbling edifice at the end of a long, gravel drive in the middle of nowhere. The window panes have all been broken, the front porch has sagged so far down that they couldn’t even attempt a front entry. The back is overgrown with weeds as tall as her waist, and she’s pretty sure she nearly stepped on a snake.

“Is it unlocked?” he mumbles, crowding closer, his heat dissipating the chill in the air.

She touches the knob and the door swings back, groaning.  Beyond is more darkness, shadows of darkness, and suddenly this seems like a really terrible idea.

He shivers at her back and she feels it thrum through her; she squeezes his fingers and tugs him inside.

“Scully-”

“Don’t even, Castle.”

“But if we die tonight-”

“Castle.”

“I just want you to know-”

She’s only one step past the threshold, but she turns around suddenly, his body bumping into hers, and she presses her fingers to his lips.

“Don’t make me hurt you.”

“Again?” His eyebrow twitches up and she can feel the grin under the pads of her fingers. Instead of another round of stupid banter, she drops her hand and presses her mouth into his, quick and tight, tongue swirling until he gasps.

“What was that for?” He pants against her cheek, fingers digging into her hip.

“Just in case you really can be scared to death. Now come on.”

-----

Castle is using his flashlight app, but it only creates more shadows to jump at.  Which he does. With an almost predictable regularity.  She stops turning to look every time he gasps and simply explores.

The back door leads to a kitchen, a miserable expanse of cracked linoleum and stripped fixtures, the gaping cabinets like hungry mouths. They abandon it soon enough and start down a narrow hall, the ceiling brushing the top of Castle’s head, the passageway so close that their shoulders bump together.

As they pass, he shines the lights over discolored patches of yellowing wallpaper.

“Framed photos?” she wonders aloud, skimming her fingers over the outlines. She comes away with girtty cobwebs, hears the skitter of insect-like feet farther down the hall.

Castle shvivers beside her and shines the light towards the sound. “I feel like we’re in Old Misery’s house,” he murmurs.

She steps ahead of him down the hall and flashes him a quick grin in the beam of his light, reaches back to take his free hand. “Graham Greene? Really? I was expecting Poe, for sure.”

“I like to keep you on your toes.”

She hums and pulls him towards the end of he hall. “That you do.”

“Hey, there are stairs,” he says softly, pointing the light towards the wooden staircase reaching to their right, just off the askew front door.

“No.”  Kate grips his hand and keeps him from mounting the first step. “You saw the outside of this place. You’d fall right through, Castle.”

“I think you’re calling me fat.”

“No, kitten, just big-boned.”

He grunts on a laugh and swings his face back to hers, a startling pale moon in the darkness. “I warned you about that.”

She lifts an eyebrow as he steps in close, but now he’s thoroughly distracted from the emergency-room-visit-inducing stairs - just as she hoped.

Still, she didn’t plan on the way her body cants into his, the irresistible tug of darkness and the unknown and that retalitory heat in his eyes. His allure rolls in waves over her, his fingers seeking her hipbones through her jacket, her fingers skiing up the the slope of his spine to draw him closer. His lit-up phone is still in one hand, angled crazily towards the listing door, making his face a strange contrast of deep shadow and harsh glare as he looms over her.

His mouth descends, but instead of a kiss, he nips at her jaw with his teeth, a shiver vibrating through her. He chuckles, pulling her hips roughly against his, and she sucks in a breath at his ear, curling her fingers in his jacket to hold on.

“Kate,” he says softly, his mouth at her neck, the rough scrape of his bite making her hips jerk forward. He hums at that, pleased with himself, and she tries to gather herself back together, effect some kind of payback.

She forces her eyes open, draws her hands around his chest, and fumbles her fingers at his belt-

He screams.

She startles hard, biting her lip, and his hands clench too tightly and drag her to one side and back, down the hall, and she still can’t find her feet, she has fistfuls of his jacket and the broad expanse of his chest blocking her view, and something flies past her head and he ducks-

and then she feels it, the icy wet cold, and she jerks on a yell, arching into him, making him stutter to a stop, trembling-

“What was that?” she hisses, twisting around to see-

“What was what?” he yelps.

“Why did you scream?”

“Why did you?!”

“Something cold. Wet. On my back. Castle-”

He grunts and shoves her down towards the kitchen, twisting to avoid the walls, and then she feels it, the brush of her elbow against cool, dewy moisture, and even as he’s bodily carrying her backwards, she sees the walls are red - red - the walls are glistening red-

“Is that blood?”

“Oh God, we’re gonna die-”
“We are sure as hell not going to die-”

“Is it blood?” he pants, still shoving her back, refusing to look, but she won’t go. There’s- “Is it blood? If it’s blood, we are out of here. Is it-”

“It’s wet,” she growls, pushing on his shoulders so she can just see, the big oaf. “It’s wet and where is your flashlight app?”

“I dropped my phone,” he moans, his hand gripping the back of her neck, his hips knocking into hers as he tries to get her to move. “I don’t know - it’s not in my hand - I think when I went for your bra, I-”

“You dropped-”

“Don’t judge me. There was a face. At the stairs. I was practically at third base and then I opened my eyes and there was a face-”

“There was not a face-” If she could just look closer at these walls - it can’t be blood. It can’t be - it has to be dew or leaky pipes and the water is discoloring the wallpaper and-

“You were pointing the wrong direction. I swear to God, Scully-”

“Rick Castle, if you don’t stop calling me-”
“MOVE,” he grunts, practically shoving her out of the hallway and back into the kitchen.

She trips over something and stumbles back, her body finally untangling from his, and when she catches herself against the kitchen island, hands smeared with a wet, rusty grime, she sees what she tripped over.

So does Castle.

“That’s my phone.”

“Did you throw-”

“That’s my phone,” he says again, staring dumbly at it.

“I felt something fly past my head-”

“I didn’t throw it.

She stares at his phone.

He swallows loudly in the harshly illuminated room, his eyes track slowly up to hers. “Poltergeists will throw objects-”

“Don’t even.”

They stoop for his phone at the same time, cracking their heads together, and she groans and falls back.  Castle reaches for her, gripping her by the elbow, and she feels him haul them both upright again, listing for the door.

“We’re getting out of here.”

“But the walls-” she starts.

“No. Not-uh. No dead body, no need to investigate-”

“Oh jeez, you totally jinxed-”

“Turn around and walk out the door,” he growls, pocketing his phone and turning towards the way they came in. The door is shut.

“Did you shut the door?”

“That’s not funny, Kate”

“I didn’t shut it.” Her voice has gone up an octave.

“Not funny,” he says again and he reaches out for the knob.

It doesn’t turn.

“Oh God.”

“What?” she whispers. “What. What is it.”

He rattles it harder, but the door is locked. Kate turns wide eyes to him, her heart thundering hard, and he stares back at her.

“No,” she says, shaking her head, closing her eyes for an instant. “This is not a haunted house. This is just. . .”

“This is just what?”

She pushes past him, pick-pocketing his phone as she goes, and shines the light towards the hallway, reaching to her back-

But she didn’t bring her gun. Damn it. He told her not to - he told her shooting at ghosts wouldn’t do them any good.

“Kate? No. Not - not a good idea. Let’s get the door open.”

“I am not in a haunted house. I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Sure you do. Everyone does, when it comes down to it. We want to believe there’s something past this life, a reason for-”

“Shut up, Castle.” She steps into the hallway carefully and takes a quick breath, then shines the light on the walls.

They’re oozing red. Runny, thin, and red. Water mixed with blood.

“Oh my God,” he moans.

She reaches back, her fingers fumble with his, but he takes her hand, he takes her hand and even when he resists her tug forward, he comes with her.

The walls are dripping red. She can’t bring herself to touch it.  It looks. . .but no. It can’t be.

The groan of a floorboard echoes down the hallway and she snaps the light towards the staircase, heart thundering so hard she can barely hear anything else.

“Kate,” he mutters, his grip getting tighter, his chest practically pressed into her back. “Not - let’s not do this.”

She sees the faint reflection of a light in the broken remnants of the front door’s window. Like it’s coming from upstairs and mirrored there.

“Do you see that?” she breathes.

“Kate.”

And then rustling, a step right above their heads.

“Castle,” she says, turning around and clutching at his jacket, tugging him in close, her eyes on his. “Castle. In case we-”

He gapes at her, his neck flushes. “No. Kate, wait-”

“In case we don’t-”
Kate,” he grits out, a hand coming up to stop her.

“I love you.”

His jaw drops, the air is sucked out of the hallway, and his grip on her is so hard, she couldn’t move if she wanted to.

“In case this is a really stupid idea,” she says more clearly, her voice strengthening. “I love you.”

He still can’t speak.

And then thunderous crashing from behind her and - “Holy shit, Beckett, did you say-”

She jerks around on a gasp and stares at Esposito and Ryan tripping down the stairs and tumbling to an open-mouthed stop at the foot.

Espo and Ryan.

She turns slowly back to Castle.

“Um. Boo?” He flashes the boys a look over her shoulder and then finally meets her eyes with a wince. “And. . .I love you too?”

“Rick. Castle. You set me up.”

She narrows her eyes at him, pushes past him roughly for the door. It better damn well open this time.

Behind her, she hears him.

“Best Halloween ever.”

She calls over her shoulder. “But just think, Castle. It’s only October 25th. Plenty more Halloween to come - and payback is a bitch.”

-----


_________________________________________________________________________________
Story: Macabre Mastication
Rating: T
Word count: 1499




They spoke quietly, in almost hushed whispers, their heads bent towards each other. Being discreet imperative as they steadfastly worked the case. 
 
Time was of the essence. 
 
“The scratches, whilst unusual,” Lanie stated, rounding the table, “are not my immediate concern.” Her eyes flicked up, surveying the room, not wanting to be overheard. 
 
“Scratches?” Ryan cocked his head squinting at the victim, trying to make out the almost indistinguishable marks as Lanie carried on talking. 
 
“Four fingernail scratches,” She said waggling her fingers in mid air between the two Detectives, “that run from the base of the skull,” She indicated a spot behind her ear, “Through the hairline to the Adams apple.” 
 
“There were scratches on the back too remember.” Ryan nodded towards Esposito, waiting for him to agree. 
 
“Yeah,” Esposito’s eyes left the floor, shifting uncomfortably on his feet, “but eight not four, all the way down his back.” 
 
“A two handed assault.” Lanie drew in a shallow breath as she considered the evidence in front of her. “Quite forceful by the look of it.” 
 
“But not drawing blood?” Ryan shuddered, his head swimming with images of claws and sharp rusty knives, implements or torture wielded by psychos, getting into the spirit of Halloween a bit too much. 
 
At least there were no dolls involved this time. 
 
“No. I would say more frantic than vicious.” 
 
“Like an animal.” Ryan whispered, almost to himself but not quite. When he glanced up and saw the look on his partners face, half pity half shame, he cleared his throat. “So what do the bite marks tell you Dr. Parish?” Ryan asked leaning against the table and folding his arms, trying to keep still when another shudder threatened. 
 
“Well initially they were hard to make out.” She grinned, ever confident in her own abilities, “But, if you look at the collar of the shirt,” She fingered an area just under her own chin, “you can see the distinct trace of concealer.” 
 
“Meaning the marks were covered?” Espo shifted again, unable to stay still, it’s distracting and annoying, and drawing attention that they do not need. 
 
Lanie gave a short sharp nod and rushed on, “Badly hidden, they also tell me that our victim didn’t put up much of a fight.” The M.E sighed and set down her cup, “ Subdued or... I don't even know what, but the bites themselves worry me just a bit.” 
 
The two men looked up in unison, eyes bright and full of concern. 
 
“The circular pattern over the jaw would seem to indicate he was -” 
 
“Attacked?” Esposito asked stepping in closer. 
 
“Savaged?” Ryan suggested. 
 
“More like ravaged.” Lanie drew out the word, added a snap of her teeth to the end, biting at the last retreating syllable like the assailant bit at the victim. 
 
Hard. Hungry. Feral! 
 
Ryan shuddered again and they both ignored him, turning instead to stare even more intently at their victim. “There is a bruise to the left of the carotid artery, another at the jugular, teeth marks in both areas and more bruises that would lead me to believe.” She glanced up at both men, swallowed thickly and took a deep breath. 
 
“Just say it Lanie.” Ryan begged, pulling his cape more firmly around him. Flimsy protection. 
 
“I would say he was scratched, bitten and then sucked.” 
 
“Sucked?” Esposito barked, hoisting his fishnets higher and shuffling from foot to foot. 
 
“Like by a…a vampire?” 
 
“Well it is Halloween.” Lanie rolled her eyes, adjusted the leather gloves. She stood straighter and ignored the flash of fire through Javi’s eyes when her movement made the latex bodice squeak. 
 
“Sounds more like a beast to me.” He said darkly, his eyes on Lanie. 
 
“A wild demon.” Ryan said in a hushed tone, as if afraid the creature could hear him. 
 
“Hey now.” Lanie said waving a hand, “You watch your mouth and Javier will you stop leaning on me.” 
 
“It’s the shoes,” He wiggled, and groaned, “I don't know how Beckett runs in these, I can barely stand.” 
 
“She has magical powers.” Castle grinned, suddenly appearing holding out a tray of drinks. The sharp black bat ears of his mask sticking up comically either side of his head. 
 
“Yeah, that or years of practice, what were you guys doing?” Kate said twisting majestically into Castle’s side in a brown leather skirt and beaded bodice, something that looked like a dragon tucked under her arm. She turned, smiled and stole a drink, eyes lingering over the writer, catching the inhale of breath as he finally got a proper look at her costume. 
 
“Beckett, I’m impressed.” He nodded his approval, licking his lips, the world forgotten, “You actually took my advice.” He poked at the creature under her arm, grinning far too widely. 
 
“And, typically, you ignored mine completely.” She reached up and flicked hard at one of the ears above his own. The sharp snap of black leather under her fingertips making them both jump and Kate swallowed, stepping back. 
 
The other three glanced at each other. Lanie averted her eyes and adjusted the red latex mask that covered her face, seriously? 
 
They thought they were covert? Please. 
 
“So,” Kate turned back to the group, swigging her drink, “You three?” 
 
“Just working a case.” Ryan mumbled quickly, pulling his cape tighter, swirling it loosely. 
 
“Narrowing down our suspects.” Esposito agreed, his eyes scrunched shut, tugging on his restrictive corset. 
 
“I didn't know you caught a case.” Kate said, leaning into Castle’s side unintentionally, not touching, but close enough. 
 
Oh they caught a case alright. 
 
Three sets of eyes met, decision made in a split second. Now or never 
 
“Old case, we thought it had gone cold.” Espo looked Kate over, eyes wide and he tried not to grin, “But new evidence has come to light.” 
 
“Oh?” Castle bent forwards, bowing over the tray with exaggeration, “Anything we might have heard of?” 
 
“You're probably familiar with it.” Ryan reached for the tray, squinting into the blood red cocktail, before he lifted it gingerly to his lips. He caught the look that passed between writer and muse, the silent conversation 
 
Do you know? 
 
No idea. 
 
All spoken with nothing more than the scrunch of their eyes, the pout of their lips and followed by Kate’s gentle shrug, the lift of her chin. 
 
“What case?” 
 
“What new evidence?” 
 
They spoke together, heads turning appraising each other once again, soft smiles and lingering looks. Castle’s fingers drift to the mark she had made on his neck in the breakroom and Kate dipped her head, letting her hair fall to cover her cheeks and the rising blush, because she had gotten carried away - 
 
And loud. 
 
And now here they stood, partnering each other in sentence completion. She grinned, he grinned back. 
 
And Lanie rolled her eyes, enough was enough and seriously, who the hell did they think they were fooling? 
 
Months of we know but they don't know we know, they suspect we know but we pretend we don't and oh look Castle’s shirt is inside out and Kate has another hickie. 
 
Please. 
 
It was ridiculous. 
 
And enough was way more than enough. 
 
“We were wondering about the marks on Castle’s body.” Lanie stated bluntly watching as Kate choked on her drink and Castle just managed to maintain his grip on the tray in his hand. The glasses clinked and wobbled and he let them thud down on the table. 
 
“The,” Kate swallowed, “Marks?” 
 
“The scratches.” Ryan added, hands falling to his hips as his cape rippled around him. 
 
“The bruises,” Espo held out his arms, finally finding his balance in the heels before he looked up at Castle, “Bro you let her suck on your neck? Ew.” 
 
Kate’s dragon fell from her fingers, her hand curled around Castle’s forearm. Was the room spinning? It felt like it was spinning. 
 
“I don't know what...” 
 
Lanie held up her hand, “No excuses.” 
 
“No details.” Ryan blurted, superhero persona falling away replaced by repulsed detective. 
 
“No more going at it in the break room.” 
 
Kate gasped. 
 
“Or in the gym.” 
 
Lanie growled ferociously, “Or my morgue.” 
 
“And there are cameras in the elevator...just F.Y.I,” Esposito smirked. 
 
Castle jumped, “I...we...” 
 
Lanie rolled her eyes again, cutting him off, “Shut up Castle, we know. So...” She waved her hand between the two of them, mirror images of fear and worry but relief, maybe, just a bit. “Enough with the charade. It’s fooling no one. We’re your friends and we understand the need for secrecy.” 
 
“Plus we don't wanna know.” Espo piped up. 
 
“Or hear or see...again.” Ryan shuddered. 
 
Stunned silence filtered between the five of them until it was broken by a happy sigh. 
 
“But one piece of advice, if you’re gonna bite him, either do it where it doesn't show or buy him some decent concealer.” Lanie smirked over her shoulder at the gaping pair, before she walked off, having finally put to rest. “The Case of the Hungry Detective.” 




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story: When Jack Met Sally
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 1412


Kate could hear truck noises. 
 
A childish vibration off of a grown mans lips. The rumbling of the engine which was followed by a sputtering muffler, and she could vaguely hear the squeak of the wheels rolling along the floor of the loft. 
 
And as she unlocked the door, knowing they hadn’t had a kid recently... the continuous sounds filtering through the door, made her eager to know what he was up too. Because despite how long she’s known him, and been with him romantically. He never ceases to amaze her.  
 
But she definitely was not anticipating what she walked into, the key turning in the lock, and the door pushing open, banging into something that literally bounced across the floor as the door came back at her. 
 
Kate!” Castle shouted at her, throwing his hands up in the air to stop her, her heeled feet smooshing into something, she rather not know what it was. 
 
The toy truck, she knew him to be playing with, rolled away and collided with a pumpkin...tower? 
 
Castle!” She yelled back adjusting her footfall so as not to squash what she now saw to be a tiny gourde. “What are you doing?!” She asked, shutting the door behind her, and leaning back against as not to stumble into anything else. “And what,” She started again, looking up and surveying what exactly had had been doing. “Is Jack the Pumpkin King doing with my bra strap?” She pointed a exasperated finger, hand still clutching the keys, in the direction of the couch, and the rest of the apartment he had plenty of room to do... well... whatever it was this was. 
 
Sure enough, there was Jack, stationed upon a pumpkin, stick in hand wielding it with her bra strap like a whip. On the ground were oxen made of green gourdes, toothpicks for legs, pulling a cart made of popsicle sticks. 
 
It’s bed was full of candy corn. 
 
His truck, which had been carrying a load of candy pumpkins, had crashed into a tower, hallowed out of a tall pumpkin, a windmill crafted out of toothpicks sticking out of the side. 
 
Getting ready for the festival.” He said in all seriousness, rising up of his knees and popping a candy pumpkin into his mouth.  
 
He exaggerated his steps, walking on his tiptoes and extending his legs longer than he needed as he stepped over the makeshift roads he’s created out of his pencils and pens, the actual pavement was discarded pages from his unneeded rough drafts. 
 
Nikki Heat shouted up from under the wheels of the cart, and Jameson Rook jumped to defend himself as Castle’s foot whacked it, and sent all the corn skittering across the pages. Castle caught himself at Kate's elbow, pushing her back as she held her ground, sighing at him as she yanked him into what little space there was by the door. 
 
A festival huh?” She asked, pecking his cheek without much enthusiasm and grabbed his face, pinching his cheeks and making him look at the mess he made. “Did you have to use the whole loft do it?”
 
He flexed his jaw beneath his fingers and tried to nod his head while shrugging his shoulders at the same time. “Trial run?”
 
She let him go, patting his cheek before walking around him and taking one, graceful leap over the town he had made out of pumpkins and various gourdes, and landed by the kitchen chair, which she used to steady herself.

You know they have actual Halloween towns you can buy?” She said with a raised eyebrow, walking into the kitchen to get a glass of milk, and finding all the innards of his making in the sink and all over the newspaper folded out on the counter.

What's the fun in that?” He asked, kneeling back down and collecting all the candy corn, eating half of them before putting them back into the cart, and patting one of the oxen on it’s little green head. “You haven’t even seen all that I’ve done yet.”
 
Kate placed her hand begrudgingly on her hip, eyebrows raised high as she tilted her head skeptically. “There's more?” She asked, tone dipping as her lips puckered in the end, and she waited as he stood up.
 
He smiled, nodding his head vigorously before he suddenly stilled and made his way around the pumpkin town, climbing over the couch to get to one of the only safe zones.  He reached out his hand to her, a goofy grin on his face, the childish glee gone from his eyes and replaced with a more of a grown mans excitement.
 
It intrigued her more. How he could go from being such a nine year old, to reveal something of a more adult intention. She didn’t need to see whatever it was, to know he probably out did himself. It was there in his eyes, the way he looked at her, so eager to show her new things, impress her without being so... over the top, or like he needed to.
 
He didn’t need to impress her, he already had her. But she did like to see him try. Kate loved that feeling she got, starting with a flutter in her chest, and a growing crease in the corner of her mouth as she started to smile. The way anything he did, brought her lip between her teeth and a sparkle in her eye. 
 
Because it was all for her.
 
Just like now, as she took his hand and let him lead her around to the piano. He looked down at her, his face having gone soft, hand squeezing hers, as he flicked the lights off. 
 
Her eyes were still locked with his, but those blue’s were now dancing with tiny twinkle lights. A flickering pulse of orange flame reverberating around the room. And when she turned towards the source, she gasped.
 
There were orange lights hanging everywhere, Jackolanterns on every surface, with every face imaginable. Toothy grins, illuminated by tea candles. Scary faces, evil eyes, demonic grins followed by laughing pumpkins, dramatic dips in their mouths, and odd shapes for noses.
 
And she laughed, when she saw the one specifically for them. He had carved out a hearty round pumpkin, with two coffee cups in the middle. And laughed even more when she saw one with a pair of handcuffs, a gun, a cherry hugging an apple. 
 
He had everything.

Castle... just... wow...” She finally said, rubbing her thumb along his knuckles as she pulled him closer, farther into the room and in the middle of what seemed to be a halloween wonderland.

So you like it?” He asked, walking a bit away from her and turning to face her smiling face. “Because I was going to move the village in here, set it up like one of those train tracks around the walls on the floor.. OH!! I could put pumpkins ON the train and it can carry them around the room!”

Castle.”

Oh, Kate I have to get started!” He said excitedly, starting to let go of her hand.

Castle, stop.” She said, yanking him in until her bumped into her, and she pressed a finger to his lips. “You.” She said, kissing him softly. “Are the Pumpkin King.” Kate kissed him again, feeling his hand coast over her back and pull her in closer.

Mmm.” He hummed into the kiss. “I like the sound of that.” He murmured against her lips.

Yea?” She asked, nipping at his lips.

Mmhmm. And you can be my sally.” He smirked.
 
She smiled back, shaking her head slightly as they kissed once more, her nose rubbing against his as she stepped back. “No.” Kate said, I have a different costume idea.” She said deviously.

Wha... what’s that?” He gulped.
 
Kate pushed her tongue between her teeth, walking backwards towards his office, “Electra.” 
 
His eyes grew wide. “With the..”

Mmhmm.” She nodded.

And the...”

Yup.”

Can... can I see?”
 
Kate leaned on the door frame to his office, her finger scratching up and down the woodwork as her eyes flicked to his. “If you can find it.” She barely got the words out before he kicked up a wind passing by her and started to search for the costume.
 
But she knew he wasn’t going to find it. Kate laughed, playing with the buttons of her blouse.
 
He wasn’t going to find it, because she was already wearing it. 




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Story: Room 217
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 1825

                                                                     
 
Friday, October 26th.


"Tell me why I signed up for this again?" Kate asked, looking out the window.

"Because you love me?" Castle replied.

"No, I don't think that's it."

The Range Rover Castle was driving went around the bend, revealing a large white Neo-Georgian hotel with a red roof.  He parked while Kate looked out the window at the Halloween decorations in front of the plain exterior.

"Is this it?  I thought we were going to a Bed and Breakfast," she said.  For weeks, Castle had been needling her about a getaway, after the Hamptons had mostly been a wash.  She'd finally agreed, though he could tell she was hesitant when he mentioned needing a specific costume.  Flying to Denver and then driving two hours to Estes Park hadn't helped either.

"This is better.  It's the Stanley Hotel."

"Stanley Tucci has his own hotel?"

"The hotel from 'The Shining,' Kate."

"You mean with Jack Nicholson?  Good movie. But isn't that the Overlook Hotel?"

"Kate!  You dilettante!  Choosing a movie over a book?  This is the hotel Stevie stayed in that inspired the novel!"

"This is really meaningful to you, isn't it?"

"It's Halloween!  It's haunted!  We're in Room 217."

"And that's a special room?"

Castle's face fell.  Kate sighed and shook her head.  "Come on, Castle.  Show me where they kept Cujo or whatever."

"Now you're just piling on."

"Maybe a little," she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him along.  "Let's go see what you've gotten us into."

-----------------------------------

The Stanley was much better on the inside, she had to admit.  The lobby and the main drawing room were both huge, covered in ornate wood and turn of the century fixtures.  She let Castle chatter excitedly with the clerk as they checked in.  She wanted to roll her eyes over how they kept mentioning the place was haunted, but everyone seemed to be into it, so she let it go.

Room 217 was beautiful, with thick rose drapes and quilts and green accent pieces.  As Castle paid the bellhop, she quietly moved the portrait of Stephen King from her bedstand to his.  

"You know, The Shining was King's third book," he said, catching her in the act, "but his first bestseller.  I guess some of us don't hit it out of the park on our first try."

"Don't tell me you have a rivalry with King, too."

"No.  Stevie's a good guy.  He actually blurbed my first book.  We're friends. I even tried to be in the Rock Bottom Remainders, but they said no."

"No musical talent?"

"Too pretty."

"Whatever, pretty boy.  Let's go get some dinner, I'm starving."

----------
Early Saturday morning.


Castle sat bolt upright in bed for the fifth time that night, a huge smile on his face.  The Halloween party wasn't until Saturday night, so they'd spent the evening in town having dinner and walking around Lake Estes.  Castle had continued to regale her with the stories around Freeman Stanley and his habit of visiting his guests, even seventy years after his death. 

"Did you hear that, Kate?"

"If you say, 'did you hear that' again, I may have to remove your spleen."

"It sounds like the piano again."

"I'll make you sleep outside."

"In the hall?"

"Outside the hotel."

"Fine," he said, lying back down.  


---------
Saturday Evening...


"You ready?" Kate called out from the bathroom.

"Yep," he said. They had gotten dressed separately, so that each's costume would be a surprise to the other.

Kate opened the door, and Castle had trouble catching his breath.  She was dressed in a tight fitting white blouse and jeans, along with old colt six-shooters in dual thigh holsters, Stetson, and a lasso slung to her belt.  A bright gold star was affixed to her fringed vest.

"Sexy cowgirl?"

"Kate Warne, first female detective in the U.S."

He burst out laughing.  "Oh wow, do we match or what?" He asked.  He was dressed in an old longcoat, bowtie, and bowler.  "I'm Allan Pinkerton."

"The man who tracked down Jesse James.  Excellent. Warne worked for him, you know."

"You told me.  Give you any ideas?"

"Not even close," she said. "Let's go."

They walked arm in arm down to the music room.  The Shining Ball had a yearly Halloween event that sold out months in advance.  Kate figured Castle must have used his writerly reputation (or his ties to Stephen King) to secure the room and the tickets.  Either that, or he'd been planning the whole thing since May.

The music room had been darkened and most of the furniture cleared.  A band sat in the corner, playing traditional waltzes mixed in with more contemporary music as crowds of well-costumed couples danced and mingled. Castle led them around to several couples who seemed to know him, though whether from his celebrity or prior visits, Kate couldn't tell.  But they enjoyed themselves as they talked, drank, and generally made merry.

Per the rules, everyone was dressed in a nineteen century costume.  Kate and Castle had fun guessing what some of the couples were dressed as before finally heading out on the dance floor to do a few turns.  Several people approached them, this time obviously knowing Castle from previous visits, not just his fame.  Kate wondered how regularly he'd made it out here, before she met him.

Eventually, once everyone who knew Castle had come by and said hello, Kate got him on the dance floor alone.

"Okay, Castle, why The Shining?"

"Well, it is Halloween..."

"I get the Halloween angle.  But the man wrote a lot of books..."

"Oh.  Well, I like the parallels."

She raised her eyebrow.

"With you and me," he continued.  "Writer, struggling to find his direction.  He comes here, finds inspiration, creates his best stuff yet, goes on to great things."

"That's very sweet.  Except for the part where you compare me to a building."

Castle shrugged apologetically, then twirled Kate in place.  She gave him the look of disdain for another minute, but she couldn't hold it for long, not while she was in his arms and he was looking at her like she was the entire world.

The band switched to a slower song, and Kate tucked into his shoulder for a slow turn around the floor.

------------------
Two hours later...

"Excuse me," A man dressed as Lincoln said into the lead singer's microphone.  People clinked their glasses until everyone went quiet.  "I am Stephen Marchant, the hotel director.  I just wanted to take a moment and thank all of you for coming."

The crowd clapped in response.

"And to announce the winner of tonight's costume contest."

"That's odd," Castle whispered into Kate's ear.

"What?"

"They've never had a costume contest before.  I didn't even see where we could vote."

"Hmmm."

"So," Marchant continued.  "Since a mystery writer put The Stanley back on the map once again, maybe tonight's winner is all the more appropriate.  I'd like to congratulate our winner ... dressed as the famous detective Allan Pinkerton and an old friend of The Stanley ... Richard Castle!"

The crowd clapped again, and Kate pulled Castle along to the front of the room where Marchant was waiting.  Again, Castle whispered in Kate's ear, "Not that I don't like winning, but there are a lot of costumes here better than mine."

"Just enjoy the celebrity moment," she said as they got to the dais.  "Be your normal charming self and wave."

Castle looked at her, and shrugged in assent.

Just as he waved, Castle felt something splash down on his head.  In seconds, he was covered in a dark red liquid.  Cheers rose up from the crowd.  He turned to Kate, who had stepped away in time to miss getting hit by the blast.

He looked at her face and could tell she'd been expecting it.

"What was that?"

"Now is the point where you kill everyone with your mind powers."

"Did you set this up?"

She nodded.

"There's no 'costume contest' is there?"

"They like you here."

"You knew about this whole weekend, didn't you?"

"Happy Halloween, Castle."

"Why Carrie?"

"Better than It or Firestarter.  Clowns are always creepy and I can't start fires with my mind."

He chuckled and wiped away some "blood" that had splashed onto her face.  On a whim, he tasted it off of his thumb.

"Why does this taste good?"

"It's cherry syrup.  You know, when I planned this, I thought of a few ways we could clean up, if you're interested?" she asked, licking off some of the syrup from underneath his ear.

"I love Halloween."


------------------
Early Sunday Morning...


Much later, they made their way back down to the party, only to find that the party had passed them by.  Kate checked her watch. It was a little after 2am. They'd been 'cleaning up' for three hours.

"I think we missed the rest of the party," Castle said, standing in the middle of the now empty room.

"Shame, really.  I wanted at least one more dance," Kate said, walking up and around him.

"What we just did seemed very much like dancing to me," he said with a smile, but he pulled her over to the piano anyway.  He held her against him with his right arm, while he reached down to the piano with his left.

"Shall we?" he asked, after playing a few bars of what Kate recognized as a Debussy waltz.  She nodded, and he took her in his arms, slowly dancing her back towards the center of the room.  She tucked herself into him, letting her head rest on his chest, as he rested his on her crown.  For several minutes, they swayed softly in the moonlight to the waltz in their heads.

"The Carrie reference was great," he said finally, "but I think I like the haunted piano more."

"What?"

"Arranging for us to dance to a haunted piano.  Very clever."

"I didn't..." she said, looking up at him, her voice dying when she realized the music she'd been hearing hadn't just been in her head. "Are you messing with me?"

He shook his head no, and she could tell by his look that he wasn't lying.

They broke apart, both heading for the piano as the music abruptly stopped.  They looked around the piano, but there was no one there, no way for someone to have run off. The instrument itself was a perfectly normal, unmodified Steinway.  Castle looked up from the soundboard at Kate.

"Now do you believe in ghosts?"

"What I believe," Kate said, "is that from now on, I get to pick our vacations."


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Story: Haunted
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 2483




Castle can’t remember why he’d thought this would be a good idea.

He likes to talk a big game. He’s wrapped himself up in murder and death for the entirety of his adult life, so why shouldn’t he? Says he’s one of the crew, working homicides with the NYPD and chasing down murderers. He deals with chilling moments in the midst of a good mystery day in and day out. He dreams about it, writes about it, lives and breathes it- it completely surrounds him.

Right now, though, he’s a little… terrified.


They’ve just arrived at a Halloween fair somewhere in Jersey. Kate’s idea. She thought it would be a fun night, just the two of them. His annual Halloween party is tomorrow, which means they’ll be back to their usual sneaking around. Hopefully he’ll be able to convince her into a secret rendezvous in the middle of the night (though, with her, these sorts of things don’t really take much convincing).

Snapping back to the present, Castle jumps out of his car and slams the door shut behind him. It’s another moment before he realises his mistake, when he goes to take a step and falls flat on his face because his cape is stuck in the damned door.

He’d like to blame it on the cape (because, really- does a cape need to be this long?) but it’s his own fault. He is the one who’d been a little unoriginal with his choice of costume this year.

A vampire.

In his own defence, he’s been… preoccupied. With Kate. So when he’d been reminded about Halloween only two weeks ago, he had no time to organise something a little more extravagant. Now he’s stuck with this mundane costume that gets caught in car doors and makes him look like the idiot he really is.

He’s still on the ground when the sound of Kate’s chuckling fills his ears. Cheeks heating up, he tilts his face up off the ground, only to be met with the point of her black, leather boots.

He gulps.

Slowly, he lifts his eyes. Castle lets them rake unashamedly up her legs and over her body once again. When he finally catches her eye, she’s smirking down at him at his typical man behaviour. Can she really blame him, though, when she’s dressed like that?

Catwoman.

That had been her brilliant idea. Thigh high boots and tight black leather. She even has a classic bullwhip for full effect.

He doesn’t know how she expects him to keep in control of himself.

“You know,” he stutters on a breath, taking the hand she’s offering him to ungraciously stumble to his feet, “I thought you said your favourite comic book character was Elektra?”

She draws her lower lip between her teeth, eyes flicking down to his parted mouth for just a second before once again meeting his eyes. “You don’t like my costume?” Kate purrs her question, leaning in to graze her body against his, drawing in a long breath and sighing it out slowly.

Oh, yes. He likes it very much indeed. He can’t wait to show her just how much he likes it. Repeatedly.

And just when he moves to start showing her exactly how much-

She walks away, her hips swaying ever so enticingly and not at all innocent.

Tease.

By the time Castle shakes himself from his stupor, she’s smiling at the pimply-faced cashier as she hands over their pre-paid tickets. The teen visibly gulps, eyes straining with the effort it takes him not to drop his eyes and stare inappropriately at the woman before him. But before the boy can even offer them a smile and a have a nice night, Kate is already walking through the large metal gates that are hanging off their hinges for effect.

Once again, Castle finds himself bounding after her like an eager puppy. There’s another smirk on his face when he jumps to her side, but she doesn’t say anything. Just slips her fingers in between his like it’s the most normal thing in the world. To him, it’s not enough, so he drops her fingers and instead snakes an arm around her waist. It is the one time they can act like a couple in public, after all, so he’s going to make damn sure he milks every last second of it.

Kate’s too busy glancing at the fair around them to even comment at his action, taking in the cobwebs and the jack-o-lanterns and the bloody tombstones with hands rising from the dirt. Castle does his own search of the fair, making note of the different attractions and judging everyone’s costumes. With the movies released only a few months previous, there’s an array of superhero costumes littering the fair. There’s Captain America and Iron Man and Batman galore, some costumes almost complete replicas and others obviously last minute. Of course, there’s also a great deal of woman dressed as Catwoman, though none of them hold a candle to Kate.

Yes, Castle admits that he might be biased, but the stares Kate’s receiving from every single person they pass don’t lie. Men, women- it doesn’t matter. They either want to be like her, or they want her.

Castle frowns, because they can’t have her. She’s his, and he wants everyone to know it. However, he knows marking his territory won’t get him anywhere, and so he clenches his jaw and swallows the rising urge to jump her right here in front of everyone.  

At least, that was his plan. As they wander further into the fair, the turning heads become increasingly obvious. At least, to him they do. Kate seems completely oblivious to it (though, he wonders if she’s just putting on an act on his behalf). Surely she has to know exactly what she’s doing to every man here. She may be not be showing any skin, but dressed in that tight, black leather that hugs her every curve…

Castle yelps in surprise when an inappropriate pinch brings him back to the present. He jumps a little at the touch, mouth parting as he angles his head towards Kate. She’s grinning at him with those alluring eyes, and Castle can see she knows exactly the way everyone is looking at her.

Has this been her plan all along? Dress in tight black leather and have everyone staring at her to drive him wild?

If it is, it’s working. He’s completely turned on and raging with jealousy at the same time. So when one man actually has the audacity to wolf-whistle at her, Castle growls.

He’s done with this.

Fingers digging into her hipbone, he half-drags around the fair, looking for somewhere- anywhere- to get her away from all the ogling eyes. She must understand just what he’s feeling right now because she goes along with him, lets him pull her along beside him. He finally stops a minute later when he spots it.

The Haunted Mansion.

A dark maze spread over three stories in what’s built to be like an abandoned house, it’s perfect from keeping her away from others. Judging by the queue outside, it’s not an in-and-out-in-three-minutes kind of attraction. He can keep her all to himself for a while.

“You sure you can handle this, Castle?” Kate teases him in a sing-song voice, but he’s far passed amused. He thrusts their fast-tracked tickets over to the kid manning the attraction and drags her inside without another word.

When he stumbles to a sudden stop in the pitch-black darkness, her body falls against the length of his. Castle grits his teeth when she doesn’t move away, instead slinking her fingers around his waist to lock together at his front, her forehead pressing between his shoulder blades.

“It’s not too late to turn back,” Kate whispers against his skin. He shivers, but doesn’t back down. Instead, he pulls her hands from around his waist, laces his fingers with hers, and pulls her along behind him as he moves forward into the blackness.

It isn’t long before he smashes face-first into a wall. Padded, it doesn’t hurt, but his pride is wounded when Kate chuckles softly behind him. Clenching his jaw stubbornly, he presses on. Ducks under cobwebs when they wrap around his face, skittles away from the low and rumbling growls to his right, climbs the dimly-lit staircase to the second level. He’s just about sure he has himself under control when someone dressed as Leatherface wielding a chainsaw jumps out at them suddenly, and Castle can’t stop himself from leaping back into the safety of Kate’s arms.

“It’s not funny,” he whines upon the sound of her laughter.

“How about I go first for a while?” she proposes, squeezing his hands before dropping them to brush by him. As always, he follows, keeping close as they squeeze through the half-cracked open door and into the next room. When the door slams shut behind them, he jumps, neck snapping as he whips around at the sound. Satisfied there’s nothing creeping up behind them, Castle breathes out a long sigh of relief, whirling back around to Kate. 

That’s when he realises he’s lost her.

She was right in front of him just a moment ago, but now, she’s gone. Castle turns on the spot slowly, eyes squinting in the dark, but he wouldn’t even have a chance of seeing his hand if he put it right in front of his face.

“Kate?” he calls out hesitantly.

No response.

He tries again. “Kate?”

His voice is a little louder this time, but there’s still nothing but silence. Heart pounding in his chest, Castle sucks in a deep breath.

Okay. He can do this.

Raising his hands in front of him, Castle feels the air around him, but his fingertips can’t find anything. Somewhere above him, a terrified scream pierces through the air. He jumps back in response, groaning when his elbow comes into contact with the door. Palms beginning to sweat, he rubs them along the fabric of his pants as he takes a few cautious steps further into the room.

Suddenly, there’s the tell-tale scrape of a footstep somewhere off to his left. Castle spins around, hands ready in what mimics a classic karate pose, but he moves so fast he can’t even be sure he hasn’t turned too far.

Then another shuffle sounds behind him. He does a one-eighty, eyes wide as they desperately try to adjust to the absolute blackness surrounding him.

In this moment, Castle can’t remember why he’d thought this would be a good idea.

He likes to talk a big game. He’s wrapped himself up in murder and death for the entirety of his adult life, so why shouldn’t he? Says he’s one of the crew, working homicides with the NYPD and chasing down murderers. He deals with chilling moments in the midst of a good mystery day in and day out. He dreams about it, writes about it, lives and breathes it- it completely surrounds him.

Right now, though, he’s a little… terrified. Away from here- in the real world with madmen and guns and all kinds of explosives- he has Kate to protect him. His fierce girlfriend, who carries her own weapon and is expertly trained in at least ten different kinds of hand-to-hand combat.

But here, right now? He’s on his own, and even though it’s just a haunted house at some freaking Halloween fair in Jersey, the stark reality is petrifying.

The shrill sound of nails being scraped down a blackboard resonates throughout the room. Castle swears he can see the shadowy outlines of something gliding through the room, dipping just above his head before it circles back up to the ceiling.

He gulps. It’s just his imagination. Just his overactive writers imagination, that’s often carried away over nothing. Everything’s fine. He’s perfectly fine.

He’s not.

Suddenly, he’s attack from behind. Something jumps on him, and his only response is to scream. It’s high-pitched and girly, but he doesn’t care, because whatever it is that’s just jumped on him has him gripped in a bear hug.

Before he can even move, that thing is biting down on the tendons of his neck. Castle stretches, trying to move away, but it only opens more skin, teeth digging into his skin.    

He can’t believe that this is it. This is how he’s going to die. A vampire attack at some stupid Halloween fair in Jersey. He considers only for a moment how fateful it is that he’s going to die at the hands of a vampire when he’s dressed just like one before the panic sets back in. He throws his hands up wildly into the air in what is supposed to be an attack, but is really just him being terrified, and he’s just about to make a break for it and find a wall to smash into and hopefully kill it when the vampire giggles.

Castle freezes.

“Kate?” he cries out, his voice choking and squeaking and doing all kinds of things he wishes it wouldn’t.

The giggling continues for another moment before she’s pressing her open mouth to his neck to suck on her bite, the tip of her tongue tracing over the bumpy marks her teeth have left. Despite the terror still racing through him from just moments ago, Castle has to hold back a moan at the feel of her tongue (he’s a man, after all) because she is not getting away with this.

“Oh, Kate,” he groans. His cheeks flush a deep shade of red, and he’s suddenly immensely thankful for the pitch-black darkness surrounding them. “Kate, that’s not- I mean, I- that wasn’t funny,” he whines, not at all caring he sounds like a petulant child.

“It was a little,” she disagrees on a chuckle.

He sulks in silence. 

“And that squeal you let out? Very manly Castle,” she teases, her laughter ringing loud again. In the blackness, Castle frowns, but slides his hands underneath her knees to support her before they both topple.

“It was a scream,” he huffs.

“Is that really any better?”

“It was a yelp,” he changes his mind.

“Don’t worry,” she whispers, flirtatious fingertips trailing underneath his shirt and down his bare chest. “I’ll protect you.” 

And then the sound of her whip cracks through the air.

Hot.

Castle’s mood shifts instantly, going from absolutely terrified to very aroused in less than a second. His thumb begins to rub over her knee, fingers slipping up higher on the underneath of her thigh.

“I promise to make it up to you,” Kate whispers sultrily in his ear, her breath hot and ever so enticing on his neck. 

And when her lips return to his bare skin, teeth grazing and tongue soothing, Castle hums in all kinds of pleasure.

Maybe this isn’t half bad after all.



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Story: Costumes Not Allowed
Rating: K+
Word count: 1079



“This is the ugliest damn tie I’ve ever seen, bro.”


“Shut up and put it on.”
Esposito grumbles but puts the tie on, grimacing at the paisley fabric before knotting it.  “Lavender.  What kind of man wears lavender?”  He plops into Ryan’s chair, swiveling around to face Ryan sitting in his.  “You got the better end of this deal.”


The brisk clip of heels sounds from the hall, and they both turn to grin at Beckett, who flashes them a quick smile on her way towards her desk.  “Hi, guys.  You’re here early.”


“Morning, Beckett,” Ryan chirps, settling his hands on his stomach and fixing her with his most innocent look.  


It’s only then that she stops.  Frowns.  “Why did you switch desks?”


Esposito just folds his arms.  “Happy Halloween.”


She looks back and forth for a moment, one eyebrow quirked up, before she finally sighs.  “I don’t get it.”


Ryan grins.  “I’m Javier Esposito.”


Esposito scowls, tugging at his necktie.  “And I’m Prettyboy Ryan.”  He yanks at his sweatervest.  “Dude.  What is wrong with you, that you wear this?”


“Look who’s talking.  What is your problem with ties?  Why do you always dress like some lazy college kid?”


“Hey.  That is a manly shirt.  Not like this pansy-ass -”


“Guys!”  Beckett cuts them off with a raised hand.  “I thought Gates said no costumes.”


Ryan shrugs.  “What’s she gonna say?  It’s not a costume.  Just Esposito’s crappy clothes.”


“Oh, shut up.  I look like a freaking Ken doll in this stupid sweatervest.”


She raises an eyebrow, an amused smile playing at her lips.  “Actually, you both look - very nice.”


Beckett heads for her own desk, shaking her head, and Ryan turns back to face his partner.  “Is it just me, or - is something different?”


“I feel you, bro.  Something’s up.”


There’s nothing specific.  Ryan glances back at Beckett, who’s hanging her jacket over her chair.  He sees no obvious clues, nothing concrete.  But - she keeps smiling.  


Esposito folds his arms over his sweatervest.  “She looks happy.  Not, like, normal happy.”  


“Castle here yet?”


“No,” Esposito grumbles, tugging uncomfortably at his shirt cuffs.  “Otherwise I’d just ask him.”


“Yeah.”  Ryan wrinkles his nose.  “It’s probably something personal.  She probably doesn’t want to share.”


“You thinking what I’m thinking, bro?”


Ryan nods.  “Let’s go bother her until we figure it out.”


They bump fists and prepare for the operation.
............................................................................
Subtlety is overrated, so Ryan plops down into Castle’s empty chair and makes himself comfortable - well, somewhat comfortable.  The zipper on Esposito’s shirt is never quite right.  He fiddles with it for a second before giving up.  Beckett looks up, raising an eyebrow.  “Something you want?”


“Just wanted to chat.”  She stares at him.  “I mean - if that’s okay.”  Jeez.  Even when she’s happy, she’s intimidating.


“Ryan, what’s going on?”


He scans her desk.  Nothing telling.  Computer, pens, paper –


Oh, wait.  There is a difference.  There’s a new elephant in the little parade of them on her desk.  This one’s made of smooth, pearly white ivory, its tiny trunk curled up, wearing little trappings of swirled lavender and gold.  “Oh, nice.  Cool elephant.”


He picks it up, and Beckett sort of - flinches.  She gets that quiet look, the one where her eyes are just a bit too wide, her hands too ready to stop him.  Okay then.  There’s something about the elephant.  Uh - well.  It’s a miniature elephant.  Not much to –


His thumbnail catches on a hidden seam, and before he can react, the ivory elephant opens, the top flipping up smoothly.  The body is hollow, lined with purple satin.  And - oh.  There’s a tiny card tucked inside, with a single line in cramped, handwritten script.


Will you marry me?


“Oh my God.”  Ryan stares at her.  “Oh my God, are you - ”


“Yes. We are.”  She’s glowing.  Her eyes are bright, her face flushed, and there’s an air around her, some new atmosphere of sweetness and happiness and such utter joy that Ryan actually feels his throat getting tight.


Ryan opens his mouth, closes it, and blinks for a long second before he recovers himself.  “Well.  It’s about damn time.”


“So, Beckett, what - ” Esposito wanders over, but stops short as he sees the elephant Ryan’s still holding, with its ring-sized hollow and tiny, simple question.  His eyes go wide.  “Wait.  The - you - really?”


She just nods, biting her lip like she’s afraid she’s going to say too much.  Ryan gives her the elephant and she closes it, tracing its little tusks carefully before replacing it on her desk.  Esposito lets out a short laugh.  “Well.  No wonder you’re so happy.  When did he pop the question?”


“This morning.”  She looks down, her cheeks pink, and oh.  Okay.  So - yeah.  So the glow’s not just happy.  “We, uh.  Haven’t told anyone yet.  We’re gonna call my dad later.”


“Good morning, everyone.  I bring caffeine.”


Ryan turns to find Castle strolling in, four cups of coffee balanced neatly in a carrier.  “Hey, Castle.”


Castle’s eyes quickly seek out Beckett’s, and yeah, she’s still beaming.  The man’s not stupid.  He takes a longer look at the scene in front of him, at Beckett’s bright eyes, at Ryan in the official Castle chair, at Esposito hovering.  “Ka-uh, Beckett?”  Castle catches himself.  “Is - something going on here?”


“They figured it out, Castle.”  She’s still smiling, her eyes sparkling.  “They’re pretty smart.”


“Oh.”  Castle looks down at the coffee cups in his hands.  His ears are red.  “They think the elephant’s stupid, don’t they?”


“No!” Ryan cuts in.  “No, dude.  It’s actually kind of - perfect.”


“Okay.  Well.  I’m glad you think so.”  Castle holds out the coffee carrier.  “Here.  Drink up.”


Ryan and Esposito quickly grab their cups, and Esposito claps Castle on the shoulder.  “Congratulations, bro.  Glad you finally manned up.”


“Yeah.”  Ryan claps his other shoulder.  “Congrats on becoming Mr. Kate Beckett.”


Castle grins, relieved.  “I know, right?  Can’t wait to get my towels monogrammed.”
“Detectives.”


Gates’ voice cuts sharply through the quiet morning, and Ryan freezes instinctively.  Um.  Castle eyes Beckett cautiously, and no one moves.  Gates is leaning against the door of her office.  She folds her arms, her eyes trailing over the scene in front of her.  Her eyebrow goes up.


“Nice sweatervest, Detective Esposito.”


Espo coughs.  “Thank you sir.”


Her lips twitch, but she just straightens.  “Happy Halloween, people.  Now get to work.”




------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Story: To Still The Beating Of Her Heart

Rating: T
Word count: 2261



----------
AN: Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Noyes. 

Poems referenced are: The Raven and Annabel Lee, by Poe, and The Highwayman, by Noyes.
Short story completely mangled is: The Tell-Tale Heart, by Poe.

Set S5. Spoilers for all aired eps. 
-----------

It started low, just barely audible, and ignored at first. A light double thump in the background, as if from another room, muffled and thought imagined. She would pause throughout the week, stopping mid-thought, interrupted. She would stare at the murderboard, her hand poised to finish a word, her ears straining for confirmation she had heard it. 

Lub-dubLub-dub.

One week stretched into another, and still she couldn’t shake it. By Wednesday the noise, her constant companion, now clear and defined, could no longer be denied a name.

---------

Empty cup in hand, standing at the coffee machine in the break-room late Wednesday afternoon, Kate ignored Esposito’s inquisitive eyes boring into her while Ryan questioned her on whom she was taking to Castle’s Halloween bash later that night. Ryan spoke, and between his thoughts, as he paused to take a breath, she tried to ignore the low, but persistent, double thump. 

Was it her heart? 
She clutched a hand to her chest, feeling her heartbeat beneath. Steady and strong - and deafening.
It was

She dared meet Ryan’s eyes as she stirred her coffee, searching them for a hint he was aware of it too. Could he see her body reacting to his questions? His incessant, unrelenting, questions.
Esposito leaned in closer, curious. Was he listening to her words, or to her heart betraying her?

She wasn’t losing her mind, love had simply heightened her senses, and was turning her into an utter fool. God, she needed air. With coffee in hand, she brushed past both detectives, ignoring their taunts as she exited the break-room. Her eyes met Castle’s as she moved to where he sat beside her desk. The drumming resonated both in her chest and in her mind, and she knew they couldn’t go on like this.

-----------


Wednesday evening, not even close to midnight, and Kate was just ready for this all to be over.  
The party. The night. The secrets. 
Also, she needed to pee. 

“So, Beckett,” Ryan began, cornering Kate at the snack-table in Castle’s living room. “No date?”

Popping a handful of peanuts into her mouth to show her lack of interest in replying, Kate narrowed her eyes and walked off. 
Under the pretense of needing a refill, she wandered into the kitchen where Castle was shaking cocktails, and planted her empty glass down on the counter. In a tone just loud enough for him to hear she said, “This sucks.”

He looked utterly heartbroken for a moment, his hand frozen in midair, cocktail shaker gripped tight. 

“I mean, us, the secrecy. Not the party.” She smiled as if to say the party was brilliant. And it was, she supposed, since the the music was loud enough to cover the sound of her heart pounding heavily against her ribs. 

Richard Castle’s annual Halloween bash - and she had come alone. They may have talked about dating other people, but after the little incident involving Castle, a bikini-clad reporter, and the couch, the rules had been laid out and neither had any interest in breaking them. So she would spend the party at his side, just enough to appear normal, not enough to arouse suspicion. Together, alone. And only once everyone had left for the night would she be able to crawl into bed with him, curl her body against his, press her lips to his, and be his. 

“Agreed,” he replied solemnly. He brought the cocktail shaker down onto the counter, and asked, “Sex on the Beach?”

“Yes, please,” she replied, distracted, missing his raised eyebrows as to what exactly she was agreeing to. She was gazing out into the sea of people, all drinking and laughing, most in costume - and almost all paired up. She smiled at Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff (Alexis and her date), at Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy (Jenny and Ryan, although he didn’t deserve it after the snack-table incident), watched as Dorothy wandered past the kitchen, and bit back a surprised yelp as Pennywise entered the loft. All her friends, people she considered family, in the same room. She was so ready to share this secret with them, wanted to announce to them all who her mysterious boyfriend was, and how insanely happy he was making her. She wanted to, but she couldn’t. They couldn’t. And it was eating her up inside.

“Oh, Kate, Darling. You look beautiful.”

Beckett turned to Martha’s wide smile and shining eyes. “Thank you, Martha.”

“But who are you dressed as?”

Clad in a long, white, flowing Grecian dress, gold sandals on her feet, hair curled and pinned up, and Castle’s raven - from a Halloween past - on her shoulder, she had hoped it wouldn’t need explanation. “Oh, just a Poe reference,” she replied kindly. It had been a joke, a nod to her partner’s middle name, and the fact she’d had the damn bird in her apartment, perched on a windowsill in her kitchen, watching her every move for the past few years. While Castle had approved of her decision, he had a gone for a slightly scarier look. He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin. A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin; They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh. And, oh God, she was reciting Noyes in her head. But that was Castle tonight, dressed as the Highwayman from the poem. The fake blood staining his outfit, and the expertly applied bullet wound at his temple that Lanie had helped him fashion, turned him from the Highwayman of the first several stanzas, to the one at the end. Only Castle would announce as proudly as he had earlier that he was a Highwayzombie. To be precise. 

Martha accepted a drink from her son, and moved back into the crowd, tipsy but happy. 

Kate flashed Castle a smile, and accepted the drink he slid along the counter top to her. She mixed the colors in the glass with the straw, spun the little umbrella, sighed softly. She was nervous, scared of the truth slipping out after too many drinks, and she couldn’t hide it. 

“Girl, no date tonight?” Lanie stepped up to her, her balance just a little off, her words slightly slurred.

Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

The sound filled her head again, surrounded her. The air around her thickened, each breath more difficult as she tried to fill her lungs. Lanie was her best friend. The one person she had gone to with Castle-related problems over the past four years, and that she couldn’t tell her now that the relationship was happening just broke her. 
“He’s busy,” Kate replied evenly.

“And as I failed to find someone, Beckett and I opted to be one another’s plus ones,” Castle interjected. Innocent, really. Just friends. Like at Ryan’s wedding. 

Eyes locked on Esposito’s ass as he moved across the room to where Jenny and Ryan stood, Lanie replied, “You two ought to be careful or people might start talking.”

Kate didn’t miss her friend’s attention shifting, refocusing. “Don’t they already?” Kate asked. With a slight nudge to get Lanie’s full attention, she added, “You might want to take your own advice.”

Lanie turned to her, shrugging to show her lack of concern. “At least there would be truth to the rumor.”

It was on the tip of her tongue. The back of her hand brushed Castle’s behind the shield of the kitchen counter, and perhaps the reveal didn’t need to be spoken. Perhaps it could be subtle, like her leaning closer to Castle, him curling his hand at her waist, and the two of them simply smiling at Lanie until she clicked. 

But the moment flitted off, became lost. Lanie, drawn like a magnet to Esposito, wandered off slightly tipsy in his direction, leaving Kate and Castle to their cocktails. 

Lub-dub. Lub-dub.

Her heart taunted her. 

“I wish it were different too,” Castle said gently, having watched her silently struggle - tonight, last week, the past few months - with this secret. 

Kate exhaled a slow breath, before taking a long sip from the cocktail in her hands. She swallowed the cool liquid, and the hints of Midori and pineapple juice made her smile. He had made it to her preference. As always. 

“Telling them might change nothing, or it could result in -- Well, you know what.” She was done talking about how it might split them up. 

With a smile toward his mother and daughter, he whispered into Kate’s ears, “Neither the angels in heaven above...” Nodding over to where Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie stood, now watching them like hawks, Castle said, “Nor the demons down under the sea...” His eyes fixed on Beckett alone, he finished, “Can ever dissever my soul from the soul, of the beautiful Katherine B.” 

She had to roll her eyes at that, no matter how sweet and reassuring he was trying to be. “You’re a sap, you know that?”

He shrugged. “Hey I’m just happy that’s what you took from that, because that poem is all kinds of creepy.”

“Well, Castle, despite the fact it is indeed Halloween, I’m willing to ignore the necrophilia subtext.”

“Yeah, perhaps that wasn’t the best poem to recite.”

“Ya think?”

“But between your outfit and mine, it was either going to be that or something about plaiting a dark red love-knot into your long bla-- brown hair.”

“You need to stop it now,” she warned in a low tone. “Before Ryan and Espo work their way over here. They’ve been less than subtle for the past few minutes.”

“Hey, I’m just mixing cocktails and reciting poetry. You know, the usual Halloween stuff.”

Placing her cocktail down, Kate shook her head at him. “Mmhmmm,” she replied. With a sigh, she accepted the seal had to be broken. “Bathroom break, Castle.”

“Is that an invitation? Because that’s even weirder than the poem.”

She groaned. “Just guard my drink, would ya.” She turned, and left him to mix his drinks alone.

--------------

Moving through Castle’s bedroom to the en-suite, Kate never noticed the boys slipping through the study, never saw the ambush coming. 

“So, me and Ryan were just having an interesting discussion.” 

Kate’s shoulders slumped. She had almost made it to the safety of the bathroom. She turned to Espo and Ryan, trying to keep from glancing around the bedroom in fear of an item of hers forgotten and in view, and folded her arms across her chest. “Bad timing, boys.”

They ignored her. “Witnessed something interesting too,” Ryan told her. “We have a question, about you and Castle.”

Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. Lub-dub. 

They heard!

The more he questioned her, the guiltier she felt, and the louder the drumming sounded in her ears. In her head? She was guilty. Guilty of keeping her and Castle’s relationship from their friends, guilty of constantly lying to them. But she wasn’t going crazy. The sound wasn’t in her head. How could Ryan and Espo not hear it? 

They suspected!

They didn’t flinch, didn’t react at all, as the rhythm of her heart steadily beat along, increasing in volume. They closed in around her, pointing out little things here and there that they had noticed recently, how they’d been putting things together like good little detectives. 
But she barely heard them, their voices almost drowned out by her heart beating erratically in her chest. 

They knew!

When she couldn’t take it any longer, when the guilt became too much, she flung her hands up to hush them. “Enough!” She said hoarsely, unable to keep it inside. “Castle and I are together, okay? He’s my boyfriend.” She put emphasis on the last word, glaring at Ryan as she did so.

“Yeah,” Ryan replied, unable to suppress the smug smile. “We know. We figured it out.” 

Pride lit up their faces; whether it was from the fact they had solved the mystery, or because they approved of the pairing, she didn’t care. Pointing a warning finger between the both of them she said slowly, clearly, and calmly, “If this gets out, Castle and I will be split up.” 

“It won’t get out,” Esposito replied. He flashed her a brief smile, before his eyes narrowed. “But you could’ve trusted us ya know, Beckett.”

“Plausible deniability, Javi. We couldn’t...” She sighed. “I’m serious, guys. No one else can know.” 

“They won’t,” he promised her. “Your secret’s safe.”

Her eyes narrowed for a moment, before she nodded. She had to trust them. Then she waited, and when the sly smirks didn’t come, she asked, “What, no taunts?” They both should have been tearing her apart already.

Ryan shrugged. “You’ve been .. different recently, Beckett. Castle’s clearly good for you.”

“But if he hurts you, I will kill him,” Esposito warned, unnecessarily, but simply because it was expected from him. 

“He knows this,” she told them. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.” She stepped backwards into the bathroom, firing them a last warning look before closing the door, and slumping back against it. 

And, after a moment, she heard it - silence

------

In the living room, two detectives zoned in on their unsuspecting target, shaking cocktails in the kitchen. They had to appear at least a little menacing - before the high-fives, bird feedings, and back slaps were delivered. 

End.




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Story: Costume Quandary
Rating: Unknown
Word count: 1313




(Set during Oct. 2011, season 4)

OH, he was such a bad, bad boy. She was going to kill him.
Rick looked anxiously at his watch: 1:44 pm. The packages were expected to be delivered to the precinct around 1:30. His leg shook uncontrollably and his fingers flew over his Iphone as he played Angry Birds.
“Castle,” Beckett hissed, “You’re unusually hyper today. What’s up?”
“Oh,” his startlingly blue eyes gazed into hers. “Am I?” He threw her that flirty smirk which made her toes curl. “It must be the four cups of caffeine I’ve been forced to drink today because of your God-awful-early-morning-wake-up call.”
She rolled her eyes. Kate sat back in her chair with her arms crossed and teasingly glared at him. “It’s about the Halloween party, isn’t it?”
He looked sheepish, but before he could answer Ann Hastings interrupted them, carrying four medium sized boxes.
“Detective Beckett, here’s some packages for your team.”
Castle jumped up from his chair. “Officer Hastings, I was delighted to receive you and Paul’s RSVP to the Halloween party.” He reached out and shook her hand.
“We wouldn’t miss it for the world, Castle. Thank you for the invitation. We’re looking forward to it.” She winked knowingly at him before sauntering away.
Kate called the boys over and handed them their package. There was one for Jenny as well.
“So these are the costumes that Castle ordered for us for the party.” Esposito shook his box. “All I can say is, bro, it better be macho or I’m going to hurt your ass… I refuse to show up as Peter Pan.”
“Don’t worry, Espo,” he fist bumped him. “The Peter Pan costume is for Ryan.”
“Hey, I resent that.”
“You don’t need to worry either, Ryan,” Beckett joked. “I hinted to Castle that you’d be perfect as the Lucky Charm Leprechaun.”
“Ha, Ha,” and as Ryan opened his box, his eyes opened wide in surprise. “Cool. Spiderman… Thanks Castle.”
Rick grinned and replied, “Jenny, of course, will make a beautiful Mary Jane.”
Kate started opening her box and Rick immediately excused himself. He was NOT going to be anywhere near the vicinity of Kate Beckett when she saw her costume.
Damn, I should have hidden her taser, or at the very least had Espo take her glock.
“Cas – tle!” Her exasperated scream could be heard throughout the bullpen.
Shit, I’m so busted, was his last thought before the break room door practically swung off its hinges as Beckett threw it open. He jerked away from the coffee machine, spilling some of the hot liquid on his hand.
“You have a lot of nerve,” she exploded. “I’ll be the laughing stock of the entire precinct… There’s no way in hell I’m coming dressed as Wonder Woman.”
If looks could kill, he would’ve found a knife sticking out of his back.
“Beckett, think of this as a compliment,” he purred, trying to calm her down. “You know I have a Super Hero themed party and no one,” he smiled engagingly, “no one but you,” his voice dropped an octave, “could pull off her glorious, thigh high, leather boots with the killer four inch heels.”
Oh dear God, with the way Kate was standing, – her eyes flashing hotly at him, -  legs 12 inches apart with her hands on her hips and her chest heaving in and out in aggravation… He bit his knuckles as he couldn’t help picturing her as Wonder Woman in that exact same stance.
She’d be his fantasy-come-true in the red sweetheart, tight bodice with gold overlay covering her enticing breasts.  His eyes scanned her waist and dropped to her full hips. The royal blue spandex with white stars would hug her lower assets deliciously. The costume would highlight her hourglass figure as if it was made specifically for her.
Rick groaned when he felt the blood rush south. He turned away from her so she wouldn’t notice his arousal at the mere prospect of her dressing as Wonder Woman.
“Beckett, just think of it as a one-piece swim suit. There’s nothing particularly racy about the costume.” He took a quick peek at her through lowered lids and could practically feel the daggers shooting from her eyes. “Yes, it’s a little low, and yes, there’s not a lot of material to the costume, BUT it definitely will cover you up in all the right places and with the thigh high boots?” He licked his suddenly dry lips imagining seeing her in only those sexy-to-die-for-fire-engine-red-boots.
Down boy, down.
He cleared his throat, “And with the boots covering 75% of your legs, … no one could claim that you were under dressed for the party.”
Kate’s eyes narrowed as she gathered her thoughts.
Rick prepared to be blasted with, ‘This-costume-epitomizes-how-women-in-todays-society-are-only-seen-as-sex-objects’ speech, but his heart lifted as her gaze softened.
“Castle,” she said heatedly, “What happened to the Elektra costume?”
Voices filtered through as a crowd gathered outside the room. Kate shot a death glare to the window and walked over and forcefully closed the blinds. Castle heard scurrying feet as officers turned away from the show. He couldn’t help smiling when Karpowski yelled, “$50.00 on Beckett showing up as Wonder Woman.”
“Umm,” he swiped his hand through his hair, mussing it badly. Kate couldn’t help thinking how adorable he looked all flustered and disheveled. “About that… Paul Whittaker came to me last week.”
“Ann’s writer, Paul?”
“Yes,” Castle smiled broadly, still proud of the fact that he’d had a hand in bringing the comic book writer and his muse together… If only I could figure out how to do the same for Beckett and I.
“Let’s keep this between us, … but he has a certain -  fantasy
Oh, the way Rick said ‘fantasy’ had Kate’s nerves tingling.
“of her dressed in bright red leather, slinging around those Oriental sais, while mounting him - ”
“Castle!” She choked out. “Enough. I get the picture.” She breathed in deeply, trying to calm her racing heart. Unfortunately, Kate didn’t know if it was racing because of her anger towards her partner, or because she was so turned on by him. Damn the man.
Castle knew immediately when Kate thought of a resolution. Her eyes lit up and her expression turned gleeful as she approached him with a sexy swing in her gait.
“I’ll agree to wearing the costume on one condition, partner.”
Oh noooo. I’m done for, he thought as he watched her sultry body advance towards him and heard her torrid voice, and really? Just one condition?
His heart practically thumped right out of his chest as she leaned into him and whispered naughtily, “Only if you let me use her lasso – “ and she tapped the front of his chest. “Any,” another tap, “way,” another tap, “I want.” Her words ghosted over his lips.
Castle noticeably gulped. How he wanted to take those lips and brand them as his own.
He nodded his head emphatically up and down, up and down. “Yes,” he squeaked. “Any way you want, Beck - ett.”
And she knew from the strained tone of his voice that he was envisioning her tying him up to her headboard and having her dirty way with him.
Uh-Oh, wait… Now that she came to think about it… Mmm - She flushed - that didn’t sound like such a bad idea.
She turned away from him before her risque thoughts could get out of hand. Before walking out the door though, she just couldn’t resist tormenting him further. She turned to Rick and smiled suggestively.
“And Castle?” she threw him that, ‘I’m-always-right-and-don’t-you-just-love-me-for-it?’ look that drove him completely crazy.
And by God, he did love this remarkable, maddening challenging, frustrating woman.
“You’d better come as Superman because Wonder Woman loves to fly.”
And Kate Beckett would swear she could feel Rick Castle’s shit-eating grin as she saucily left the break room.


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Story: Whipped
Rating: K+ or T
Word count: 974

Whipped

It was so unfair. Not just unfair. It was downright cruel.

That last Halloween party, he was first disappointed and then delighted when Kate had showed up and revealed her costume. This year, when he decided to hold a party again, he had unashamedly pondered over what she would wear. Guess after guess after ridiculous guess, she kept saying no. He thought that ultimately, she would go in for something sober, in keeping with their policy of hiding their relationship, at least from the precinct lot.

Keeping his hopes not-too-high, he was so gob smacked when she first made her appearance that -well, the blood-colored fruit punch running down his chin might have given him away. Fortunately, everyone had their eyes on her. Because Kate Beckett had just showed up to Richard Castle’s Halloween party dressed as Lara Croft, Tomb raider. Cruel.

What he wanted to do was grab her and drag her into his tomb and do a bit of raiding of his own. What he had to do, for the sake of their relationship, was pretend to just be happy. Happy, excruciatingly turned on - same thing, right? No. No, it’s not.

He tried to keep his distance. He tried to direct his eyes at anything and anyone but her, because it was torture to have to look but not leap. Only, he was failing miserably. All he could look at was her. He did the whole hosting thing pretty well, even if he was slightly distracted. Earlier he’d even ushered her inside and thanked her for coming for the party. Eventually, once everyone was settled in and having a good time, hopefully distracted; he gave up the pretense of paying attention to anything but her.

He could see that she was pleased with herself for surprising him, but he also saw that she was looking at him hungrily, happy with his choice. Standing alone in the study, probably to take a break from the loud, bright party going on outside, she took him in as he approached her slowly after closing the door to give them some privacy. “So, Indy huh?”

“Mhmm,” he nodded. “I guess that means both of us are feeling adventurous tonight.” Nonchalant was what he was going for. The strangled sentence however, indicated otherwise. She bit down on her lip and looked down. A shy Lara Croft. Oh, the things Kate did to him. Angelina Jolie had nothing on her legs. Her long, creamy, silky, delicious looking and extremely distracting legs.

“I guess we are,” she replied as she finally looked back up at him, slightly more in control of her features – everything but her eyes. It looked like they were both inordinately pleased with their synchronicity in choosing costumes.

“Why didn’t you just use your real holster and guns?” He asked her, nodding towards the fake guns.

That earned him an eye roll. “I wasn’t about to bring real guns to a party, Castle. A party where people are likely to get drunk, might I add.”

“Ah, that’s true. Good thinking, detective. The props are a safer bet.”

“Speaking of which, where’d you get the whip?” Said whip was rolled up and resting on one of his shoulders. He did make for a rather dashing Indiana Jones.

He smirked. “Oh, this thing? I own it.”

She looked slightly peeved, though she was still teasing him. “Hmm. Don’t hurt yourself, Castle. With your luck, you’d probably take someone’s eye out. Most likely your own.”

He thought about teasing her back, but he’d heard the undertone in her words. Over the last few cases, he’d seen that they both still needed a little bit of reassuring, and heck, he was good at that. So he gave her a warm smile and chuckle and said, “You’re probably right. I bought it back when I was writing Storm. I wanted to give him an adventurous case, where his only means of escape from near death was if he used the whip and swung from a chandelier.”

“That didn’t make it into your books,” she pointed out.

“It didn’t. See, I like doing my research, and doing it well.”

“Don’t I know it,” she said with a leer.

He gave her a leer of his own. “Anyway, after a few days worth of trying to master the art of using the whip, and after a few broken lamps, several broken glasses, and one sore toe later, I finally gave up on it and let Storm use a crowbar instead.”

“Castle!” They both turned towards the source of the noise.

“Sounds like I might need to replenish the punch,” he said, looking amused. “Well Miss. Croft, feel free to borrow my whip anytime you need to.” He leaned towards her, within the V of her legs as she sat perched on his desk.

When he was just an inch from her face, with her breath skirting his lips, he paused. “But you don’t need it.”

“I don’t?” she whispered breathlessly, her eyes closed and hands resting on either side of his waist.

“Nope. ‘Cause I’m completely –,” he moved even closer so that his lips were aligned with hers but still, almost painfully, not touching.

She moved forward to cover the distance but he leaned back just as much.

“ – utterly –,” he said and moved so that his lips were just barely touching her cheek.

Seeking his lips blindly, she tried to turn, but he moved again so that his breath was tantalizingly flowing over her ear.

“Totally whipped,” he finished and gave her a peck on her cheek before moving away from her and towards the door without turning behind.

He didn’t turn around when he heard her huff, didn’t turn around as he turned the knob, and so he almost missed what she whispered. Almost.

“So am I.”

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Captain Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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