Author's Note: Set around Halloween in Season 5, except 5x05? Never gonna happen-land. Just humour me...

Assumes no-one but Ryan has found out that Castle and Beckett are in a relationship.

Spoilers for post-Always episodes.

This fic was written for the Halloween ficathon, but I didn't get it finished on time. I'm publishing it anyway!

**Quick! Check out the Halloween ficathon stories over at TwelfthPrecinct's page**

Started out as a one-shot, but I need to get part of it out and published, and hopefully get some feedback to give me direction. Thanks to Holly for the very helpful beta! Warning! It's a bit fluffy!

Disclaimer: The characters you recognize are somebody else's. I'm just moving them about like little dress up dolls, for no commercial gain whatsoever.

"The Veil is Getting Thinner" - Pagan poem, poet unknown

I heard this whisper and I wondered,
I heard this laugh and then I knew.
The time is getting near my friends,
The time that I hold dear my friends,
The veil is getting thin my friends,
And strange things will pass through.

Another year, another successful Castle Halloween party, thought Castle, perched on a bar stool near the casement window at the far end of his living room, gazing moodily out onto the street below.

He'd left the fedora of his 50s detective costume around somewhere, and the long trench was draped carelessly over a sofa on the other side of the room. He shifted and flexed his shoulders, feeling slightly constricted by the leather shoulder holster that spanned his chest. He checked his watch. It was getting late.

He swivelled around in the stool for a quick status update. Most of the book business people had left by now but the crew from the 12th was still here, and the noise level in the loft still energetic. Teensy carved pumpkin candles still lit? Check. Drinks still flowing? Check. People still having fun? He looked around...

Some leftovers from Black Pawn - a couple of their young up-and-coming authors - were propping up the kitchen bench, chatting up the pert cocktail bartender Kennedy, who was moonlighting from the Old Haunt, while they scarfed mini red-velvet cupcakes (frosted with Ana Steele and Christian Grey faces) by the handful. Ryan and Jenny (Space Cowboy and Companion) were sitting alone on Castle's sofa near the roaring fire, smiling at each other, in their own little honeymooner bubble. Lanie and Esposito were over by the stereo system, where Esposito, apparently some Korean rapper in sunglasses and a tux and spats, was 'helping' Lanie, who made a very cute Katniss Everdeen, with moves from the latest dance craze. The detective was leaning right into the Medical Examiner, hips flush with hers, well inside her personal space. Castle wasn't sure about Lanie, but from the eye contact and smiles, he could see the dance lesson was going very well for the Latino detective. It looked like Lanie had put away the crossbow for now. Castle tapped his swizzle stick against the glass, not immune himself to the insanely catchy beat. People still having fun? Check.

He smiled wryly and returned his absent stare to the streets still damp and dank after today's late fall rainstorm.

"Hey, great party, Castle!"

Castle turned and grinned at Ryan, "Hey, thanks, Kev. Glad you're having a good time. Say, I haven't seen Beckett in a while...when's the conference finish?"

"Tomorrow night. She's flying back from New Orleans straight after the last session. It was a pity it was until this weekend. I know Beckett was really sorry she couldn't make it tonight."

Castle nodded sagely for the benefit of the Irish detective who excused himself and lurched off to the bar. But Castle already knew full well that his girlfriend was stuck at that damn conference until tomorrow night. Nevertheless, he didn't want Kevin Ryan suspecting him of having contact with Kate while she was away, any more than was appropriate for a work partner-slash-best friend, at least.

Like that he and Beckett spoke on the phone every night to wish each other good night. That Kate had been sending him hot texts all week, not at all the sort of texts you'd want to share with your workmates.

No, nor would he want Kate's workmates to know about those late-night phone calls when either one of them couldn't sleep, the ones that made him want to drop the phone, pack a bag, jump on a plane to New Orleans, wake her up, keep her sleepless that night and the next, make her forget about the National Law Enforcement conference, make her forget everything but him, make her sob his name till the moon set and the sun rose over the French Quarter...

No, it was pretty important that Kate's colleagues didn't know about that.

Last weekend, they'd had an eventful, yet blissful time in the Hamptons, which, once the murder investigation was out of the way, saw the two of them indulging in the few remaining hours of love-soaked, hedonistic relaxation. Neither of them wanted to leave in the end. But they had to go home, and she had to go away to the conference.

She'd been away less than a week, and he missed her, a lump in his chest that burned with need.

He stared into his martini and fidgeted with the olive-laden toothpick.

"Gee, Castle, anyone would think you were sulking."

Kate Beckett watched as her boyfriend - totally sulking, by the way - swivelled on the barstool at his fancy living room window, eyes widening as he took in the sight of her, and not merely the fact that she was there at all. The red leather bustier and pants fit like a second skin. Her hair was down, shiny and curled just so, the way he liked to wrap in a sleek rope around his hand when holding her in close for a deep kiss, and she'd spent a lot of time in the airport bathroom getting the eyes just the right degree of smoky and almond-shaped. He looked like he was on the verge of cardiac arrest. Poor guy really didn't stand a chance. Oh yeah, Kate thought to herself, Elektra was definitely the look to go with.

Beckett, for her part, took some time to drink in the sight of him too. Hair ruffled, a hint of chin stubble, suggesting he'd suspended shaving for a day or two, perhaps to aid the illusion of a harried, scotch-soaked gumshoe, this illusion further aided by the leather shoulder holster that hugged and emphasized those broad shoulders, the sight of which evoked thoughts of that wide, heavy torso as it bore down, pressing her into his sinfully comfortable king bed. She was struck by an intense longing to be alone with him. It had been too long. These thoughts and the sight of him here, now, so handsome, in the flesh, made Kate's heart pound.

"But you''re supposed to be in New Orleans!"

She grinned. "I waited till dark and snuck out the window...Thought I'd surprise you. So Castle, I like the outfit. Detective looks really good on you..." She quirked an eyebrow and smirked at Castle, hoping he'd pick up on her meaning. But who knew, because he was still gaping and gulping like a goldfish in a bowl.

Kate's cheeky flirting and heated gaze had Castle's hands itching to pull her in, press her against the window with his body, and indulge in an endless kiss. Instead he took her hand and pulled her gently towards him, just far enough apart for respectability's sake, and linked their hands in a tender handshake. "It's great to see you, Detective. So glad you could make it. Can I get you a drink?"

"Sure, thanks," she agreed, with a sly grin, seeming to share his enjoyment of their handshake.

"We were doing Brandy Alexanders before. Want one of those?"

"Really, Castle, a girl's drink?"

He leaned right in so he was nearly speaking into her ear, "I want to be able to taste brandy and nutmeg on you later, so yeah, Kate, a girl's drink."

Holding her gaze, he brushed by her, making his way over to the bar. Beckett watched him as he went, blushing at what she saw in his eyes and heard in his words.

"Hey, there's our girl..."

Kate looked around and saw her friends gathering nearby after her subtle entrance.

"Hey, guys." Esposito guy-nodded to her with a smile. "Thanks for letting me in, Javi."

"No problema. So what's up with Castle? This is the first time he's come and joined the party for a couple hours."

Kate smiled, and looked around, hoping for distraction. "Hey, Lanie. How're you doin'?"

"I'm good. But talk to me." Kate smiled apologetically to Esposito and Ryan, while the ME dragged Beckett into the corner. "So, let's cut to the chase...Emo kid over there's been moping in the corner all night, all week in fact, waiting for you, while last week you're off with who-knows-what guy on a getaway!


"...I mean, pardon my bluntness, but what is wrong with you? I thought this whole soap opera would have been long done by now, culminating in you not leaving Castle's bed for a week. What happened?" Lanie fixed her friend with a glare. "Did you get cold feet?"

"Lanie, I..."

"...I mean I know you two had your moments in the spring. He hangs around with bimbos, you guzzle wine and ice cream and wonder where you went wrong. Now he's dropped the bimbos, but you're still dangling guys in his face. And now you turn up here looking like that, making sex-eyes at the man, and no mystery guy in sight! What is with you? I would have thought - "

"LANIE! Stop!"


Kate, seeing her fellow detectives hanging around a few feet away, showing a keen interest in Lanie's unsubtle interrogation, hauled her friend into Castle's office. "Lanie, you can't breathe a word of this..."


Beckett winced at her tone and dropped her voice to a soft murmur, "The new's Castle. He took me to the Hamptons last weekend..."

"Oh. My. God. Just how long have you been holding out on me?"

"Since May"

Lanie's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. "Kate Beckett! Do you mean to tell me the hook-up of the century happened six months ago and nobody knows about it?"

Beckett waved her hands in panic, "Shush! God, Lanie, please, if Gates gets wind of can't tell the guys, or it'll be all over."

"No worries, your secret's safe with me. Oh, I'm so happy for you, honey. C'mere..." Lanie hugged Beckett tightly.

Kate reflected on the conversation with Lanie and felt a mix of relief and apprehension. Relief because she hated lying, even by omission, to people she cared about.

Not only that; it felt great that she'd now have Lanie to confide in about everything that was going on with Castle. Some days, after hours spent in her lover's company and bed, feeling so sated, worshipped by his mouth, hands, body, she found it impossible to rein it all in. That glow Lanie had spotted when Kate returned from suspension? Kate knew that glow too, because she had been seeing it on herself, every morning in the mirror, in the shining eyes and in the soft radiant smile on swollen lips. Sometimes a girl just needs to talk it out.

But there was the niggling worry too; Beckett knew she could trust Lanie's discretion, more person knew about her and Castle. And with each new person knowing, the risk of Gates finding out increased too.

A/N: Thoughts? I'd love feedback. Drop in a review and let me know what worked for you and what didn't. I read a lot of fanfic, but when it comes time to put something together? Total newbie. Still trying to work out how it's done. Another one or two chapters to go, I think.