"After you," Castle said and gestured towards the door of the break room, where their friends were watching them from behind the window.

"I mean we could just leave now," Kate suggested with a shrug.

"And miss the Pizza they got for me? No way."

Kate rolled her eyes but couldn't suppress the smile on her face, before she walked in the break room, trying to ignore the expectant looks of her friends.

"So, what did you guys talk about?" Espo asked.

"Nothing for you to know," Kate replied and sat down on the chair that was closest to her.

"That I will come back after the summer," Castle interjected before he sat down himself. "Kate said you were worried about that," he added and grabbed a piece of Pizza.

"So, are you joining him for the Hamptons or what?" asked Lanie and Kate started coughing into her beer. She did not want to talk about this; not right now, not with an audience. Everyone was here, and they would likely ask questions. Yes, they might find out the truth eventually - most likely when she and Castle embarked on their trip - but she would have liked it if Lanie could have given her more time.

"Yes, I am," she said after gaining back the ability to breathe properly.

"Good for you," Lanie said with a grin. "Also good for me, 'cause that means I can stay at home."

"Wait, what?" asked Ryan, looking from Lanie to Kate to Castle. "Castle invited you," he pointed to Lanie, "to his house in the Hamptons?"

"Yes, he did," Lanie confirmed with a nod. "But now Kate said she'll go so I can stay home," she added taking a sip of her beer.

"Thanks, Lanie," both Kate and Rick said at the same time.

Ryan looked mildly disappointed, seemed to wonder what he needed to do to get invited to the Hamptons by Castle.

"So, the Hamptons, huh," Espo said with a suggestive look. "And what are you planning to do there?"
Kate shrugged, she didn't have any plans and based on Castle shaking his head next to her, he didn't make plans beyond wanting to spend some time with her, either.

"Oh, so it's a secret," Espo continued. "Interesting. Really interesting."

"You know what," Kate said to stop Esposito from continuing this thought process, "we have to leave. I still have to pack my bag and it takes a while to get there so we should get going."

"Thanks for the Party guys," Castle hurried to say while getting up from his chair, "it was really nice. and I promise I will be back in the fall, so you don't have to miss me for too long."

"So should I just call you when I am done with packing?" Kate stopped her car in front of Castle's building and turned her head to look at him. She had offered to drive him home to get the stuff he needed for the Hamptons before she went home herself to pack her own bag and he had happily accepted.

"You could just pick me up when you're done," he replied.

Kate frowned. "Why would I pick you up?"

"Oh, I thought we could take your car."

"My car?"


"But why would I drive us there when you're the one who lives there and knows the direction?"

"Well, you're only staying the weekend, right?"

"You're not coming back to the city?" Kate asked after a few seconds of silence between them.

"Well, I will but later. I finally talked to Gina yesterday and I need to finish my book." Castle shrugged. "So, I figured I'd just stay up there for the summer. Or however long it takes to finish the book."

"So … I would leave you there alone without a way to come back," Kate summarised to make sure she understood correctly. Somehow this option didn't sit well with her. Of course, she knew he had other options to get back to the city, but she couldn't shake it off completely. Maybe she had assumed he would come back to the city with her, now that she agreed to spend the weekend with him. Maybe she should stop assuming things when it came to Castle as they all turned out wrong lately.

"You could always stay longer or come again if you miss me."

His words interrupted her thoughts and she scoffed "Yeah, right."

"Okay but seriously, Mother can pick me up, she's going to come up later in the summer either way. Or I can call my driver to get me when I am done. It's not a big deal, Kate," he assured her. "But if you don't want to, then we can take my car and I'll come back to the city with you," he shrugged before his expression changed into a mischievous smirk. "You might have to solve the resulting murder case if I don't finish my book in time."

"Well, I already know it will be Gina."

"Oh but think about all the paperwork you'd have to do. Plus, you'd feel guilty because you made me come back and get distracted by the city."

She rolled her eyes. "Fine. But don't think I don't know you're just too lazy to drive yourself, Castle."

"Yeah yeah, see you in a bit."

He opened the door and got out of the car, waving at her through the window before he hurried inside his building.

After spending way too much time thinking about what to pack for a weekend with Castle in the Hamptons, and then probably taking too much, Kate had finally picked him up again. He had been eagerly waiting when she arrived, his bag slung over his shoulder, looking happier than Kate had seen him these past weeks. There had been a brief moment where Kate could see relief on his face as if he had expected her to not show up after all, but he flashed her a smile and she had decided not to dwell on that thought.

As Kate drove, the radio played in the background. Castle started talking, telling her all about the town and how he had fallen in love almost instantly when he found the house. About how much he loved spending the summer there; the sound of the ocean always nearby, soothing and exciting all at once. Kate listened with an easy smile on her lips. She hummed here and there to let him know she was still listening but didn't interrupt his words.

But after telling her the story about Alexis' first time in the ocean after learning to swim, he grew silent. Kate looked at him, but he was looking out of the window at his side of the car and she looked back at the road, debating with herself if she should say or do anything or if she should just stay silent. However, she had no clue what to say to him right now.

"Hey, Kate," Castle said after a while, turning to look at her again, "can I ask you something?"

"You just did."

Castle shot her an 'are-you-serious'-look and Kate laughed. "Of course, you can ask me something, Castle. But since when do you ask permission?"

He thought about her question for a second before shrugging and asking her what has plagued him since she had dropped him off at his loft and went to pack a bag for herself. "You said you had plans with Demming. I mean I am happy you are here but what happened?"

As soon as the question left his lips, the mood in the car seemed to drop significantly. Finally, she shrugged but didn't answer, her eyes fixed on the road ahead of them and he slapped himself internally. How had he managed to ruin this trip before it actually started? As if it was any of his business in the first place.

"You don't have to tell me if you don't want to that is fine. I was just wondering," he hurried to say, trying to undo whatever he just did before it was too late.

"The plans got cancelled," she said, her voice indicating that this was all she was willing to tell him.

But he still had questions, still wanted to know the why, when and how. Had it been her idea or Tom's? Was he just the rebound now?

No, he told himself. He had invited her as a friend. She had accepted as a friend. There was no underlying reason and he needed to stop interpreting it as anything else.

"I'm sorry if I overstepped."

"It's fine," she said, offering him a small, half-hearted smile before turning her eyes back on the road. "I just don't feel like talking about it right now."

But the silence grew, became thick and heavy, and seemed to drown every other sound in the car.

Kate kept looking at the street ahead of them, refusing to acknowledge his gaze on her profile and he sighed before finally turning away, watching the landscape fly by the window of his side of the car.

Maybe she said it was fine, that he hadn't overstepped any boundaries with his questions, but he knew that wasn't true.

He should have just kept talking about the Hamptons, even when that had brought up the fact that Alexis had cancelled on him and their tradition. It had made him sad to realise his little girl was growing up, and there was nothing he could do about it. But of course, thinking about it had made him think about how Kate had initially declined his invitation, and he didn't know what changed. And his stupid annoying writer brain had just refused to let it go, needed the whole story no matter the consequences. Castle sighed, forced his mind to think about something else, something they could talk about for the rest of the drive, anything to get rid of this awkward silence that seemed to grow heavier with every passing second.

Kate fiddled with the radio, changed the station a few times until she ended up at the one she started with and put her hand back on the steering wheel. Her fingers tapped lightly to the beat of the song coming from the radio, and subconsciously Castle started humming along.

The tension that had been building in the car seemed to vanish with every second as if the music absorbed it, and when the chorus started, they shared a short look before singing along.

Following the directions Castle gave her, Kate turned the car into the driveway of his beach house and stopped in front of his door.

While Castle got out of the car, stretched and walked around it to open the trunk and get out their bags, Kate finally allowed herself to take in the house completely and she briefly wondered how a family of three people needed a house that big. She had expected it to look like this, had seen the pictures Castle had shown her, and yet the size of it surprised her. It Left her in awe as she realised just how much money Castle must have had. And he invited her of all people to spend the weekend in this house.

Wrapped in her thoughts, she didn't notice that he left the car, didn't hear the sound of the trunk opening and the bags being lifted out of it. A knock on her window was the first sound she registered, and she turned her head, noticed Castle smiling at her through the window and she shook her head before opening her own door and exiting the car.

"You okay?" he asked, sounding concerned.

"I… yeah I am."

She could see that he didn't believe her. He looked at her for a moment as if to figure out what to do, but he didn't say anything. And she was thankful for it. She didn't even really understand it herself. She knew he was rich, had always known that, and she never freaked out about the size of his loft. But somehow seeing this house was different. She shook her head. There was no need to be freaking out about this, and she really wanted to go inside, so she smiled at Castle, and grabbed her bag from the ground where he had put it, ready to follow him into his house.

"Your room is upstairs," he told her when they entered the house, the sun leaking through the glass door at the other side, illuminating the hallway, as Kate looked around, tried to take it in. "Do you want the complete tour, or do you first want to put your stuff away?"

"Uh… the complete tour sounds good," Kate replied, "but can I combine this with putting my bag in my room?"

"Good idea. Yes. I like the way you think"

Kate rolled her eyes but grinned when she followed him up the stairs.

"This is Alexis' room," he pointed to the door at the right side of the stairs, "there is mother's," she followed his arm to the door on the opposite wall. "And one of these would be yours" he directed her to the end of the hallway where she could see two more doors on each side. "I apologize for the view of the driveway," he said when Kate walked to one of the rooms. "But, well, mother and Alexis chose the other two rooms."

"Oh, that's no problem," Kate assured him.

"I mean you could probably stay in mother's room if you wanted I-"

"Rick, it's okay," she interrupted him with a smile. "I don't mind this view. As long as I have a bed to sleep in, I am fine."

Kate walked past Rick and into the room next to Alexis' to put down her bag next to the bed and then turned back to him, ready to see the rest of the house.

While they made their way downstairs, Castle started telling her about how he got this house, didn't fail to mention how Kate unknowingly chose the room he used to sleep in, back when Alexis was little, and he felt more comfortable having the room next to hers instead of on the lower floor.

The anecdote about his room turned into an explanation about how exactly he changed the house over the years. Opening the kitchen to the living room because he didn't like how closed off it was. And Kate thought about the time she spent in the loft with him, coming home after a day of work, with Castle preparing dinner in the kitchen, chatting with his family. She could see why he didn't like having a wall in his beach house either.

Crossing the living space, they reached another door that opened to a library. Kate couldn't help but let her mouth fall open, even though she had no explanation for why she was surprised to see this. Castle having a library felt normal, felt right. But somehow, she hadn't expected it.

She entered it with amazement, walked past Rick who stood next to the door he had opened for her, an amused look on his face that she didn't see, too enthralled by the books that filled every space on the walls.

The armchairs that stood in the middle of the room looked inviting and she almost let herself sink into one of them, grab a book from one of the shelves - it didn't even matter which book - and start reading.

But then her gaze fell to the window at the other end of the room. And the chairs seemed uninteresting.

"Alexis asked for a window seat once and well, I made it happen," Castle said from behind her, catching her off guard. She had almost forgotten he was here as well, that this was his library and not someplace in some fairytale.

"It's amazing."

She could imagine herself spending hours in that window seat, slowly making her way through Castle's book collection as rain drummed against the window.

Or maybe she could just curl up on one of the chairs if Alexis was here as well. She wasn't going to take away that spot from the girl.

After a few more minutes of absorbing this room, Kate turned back around to face Castle. He was watching her, a soft smile on his lips, and his eyes lit up with something she decided she couldn't name, and she had to look away.

They left the library and made their way through the living space back into the hallway, turning towards the glass doors that lead to the garden.

They walked past a closed door, that Kate assumed lead to his bedroom, as she could see a desk and a few more bookshelves when they passed the open door next to it, assumed it was his office where he spent his time writing when he was here.

She knew what to expect when he opened the backdoor for her, after all, he had told her about the pool and the beach being right there. And yet, seeing it stopped her breath for a second.

She could see the water of the ocean, reflecting the sun and suddenly Kate couldn't help feeling out of place, thinking about the other people - women - he brought here. Women who weren't like her, women who were more his type. And she knew he wouldn't have invited her had he not wanted her presence. But then, maybe he only did it because he didn't want to be alone after Alexis cancelled, and she was the only available person right now. If she ignored the fact that he didn't seem to have a problem asking Lanie as a rebound when she initially declined.

But the smile on his face when she finally told him she would like to come with him was evidence enough that he really did want to have her here with him. And didn't Lanie remind her that she knew very well how much the actions that brought him to page 6 were just acts for the public, a tool to sell more books?

Castle was next to her, talking about what they could do in his garden, pointing to the path that led towards the ocean, and she tried to listen, but her mind kept interfering.

Why would this rich author - her favourite author on top of that - want her, a simple Detective, in his beach house when he could have anyone else? She just couldn't explain it to herself.

Castle looked to Kate, waiting for her response to his question about checking out the beach before dinner, but she didn't react at all. Her face was directed to the ocean like she was watching the reflection of the sun. He had done that too the first few times he was here after buying the house. Back when Alexis was little and wanted to spend the summers with him. But Kate wasn't really watching the water, her eyes not focused on anything and she must be deep in thought.

He could ask her what was wrong, but maybe she was thinking about Demming, how much fun they could have, had she not decided to come with Castle instead. Maybe she regretted this choice, maybe this was too much at once for her.

But he needed to clarify. If she shut him out again the way she did in the car, decided to actually leave again, then he would find a way to apologize somehow.

"What is it?" he asked, trying to sound casual but failing miserably.

She blinked after a second and turned her head to look at him. "I … it's stupid."

"Nothing you think or do can possibly be stupid."

"Oh, believe me, this one is."

He raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Prove it."

"Well it's just -" Kate sighed, ran a hand through her hair and turned her head back to the water, avoiding his gaze, "me realising that you're rich."

He frowned. "You didn't know that before?"

"Of course, I knew that before, Castle. But knowing and experiencing it are two different things. I mean I know you have the loft and your car service and all these other things that I am never going to be able to afford. But I am used to that. And this is ... just new."

"Oh … I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize for that," she waved him off with an apologizing smile.

"But this isn't everything, is it?" he asked after a few seconds of silence.

She sighed. Of course, he noticed. "Maybe I am also thinking about the other people you brought here and gave that tour and wondering where I fit in."

He followed her gaze to the ocean, thinking about how to reply to that. He hadn't expected that. To be honest, he hadn't expected her to even admit that there was something in addition to realizing he was rich. But here she was, opening up to him in a way that surprised him, caught him off guard.

"Yes, I brought other people - other women - up here," he finally started, turning back to her, needing to watch her, "but you, Kate Beckett, you are the most amazing person I know."

She lowered her head, let her hair fall over her face, but he still caught a glimpse of the smile that spread over her face. "Don't worry too much about what kind of other people I know, when you're better than all of them combined. You're here because you're my friend, not because I have money and am famous."

She raised her head again, shook it to get the hair out of her face and turned her head to him, let him see her smile. "Yeah … I'm being weird."

"I think you're just Beckett," he shrugged.

"Are you saying I am always weird?"

"What?!" he replied, his voice high pitched and alarmed. That wasn't what he meant. She couldn't think that. "No, I didn't- I meant - what I - you always - I-"

He fumbled for the right words. Needed her to know this wasn't what he meant at all. And her smile grew bigger, turned into a laugh.

"Oh, you're so easy, Castle," she gasped, holding her sides.

He crossed his arms over his chest and pouted. "You know, just for that, I'm not making you dinner tonight."

"Oh no, how will I survive?"

They stayed on the patio for a while, Castle told some stories about the town but mostly they just enjoyed the view, the soft breeze in their hair, and the sun slowly sinking lower over the ocean.

Then Castle declared he was hungry and could use some food, and Kate realised that she hadn't eaten anything since her breakfast, so they went into the kitchen.

Dinner was something easy, quickly done and as much as Kate wanted to help him, didn't feel comfortable sitting around and letting him do all the work, she had to agree that there wasn't a lot she could help with today.

But when they were done and she got up, gathered the dishes and brought them to the kitchen sink, she didn't let Castle stop her even if he tried.

So he shrugged and took a kitchen towel to dry the dishes and put them away after Kate cleaned them.

His mind wandered back to their conversation in the car, reminded him that he still wanted to know what exactly had happened with Demming. But he knew he shouldn't ask her again. It would ruin the evening, she might even actually go back to the city.

So he swallowed his questions and followed Kate with his glass of wine into the living room, where they sat on the couch and talked until Kate yawned and decided to head to bed.