"You must understand that the touch of your hand makes my pulse react...that it's only the thrill of boy meeting girl, opposites attract..."

- Tina Turner

If anyone happened to be paying attention to Castle's bedroom door at just the right moment - not the door to the bedroom adjoining his office, but the one leading into the living and entertaining area, just along the wall from the loft's entry; that door - they would have seen the owner of the house expelled through it as if shot from a slightly tipsy cannon.

The man in question casts a panicked glance around the room, eyes feeling bleary and dry, and like his reaction time has been shot to pieces by nothing more than a couple of treacherous cocktails, and the best part of two glasses of Muscardin.

A recon check finds nothing too alarming: The sofas are pushed out to the perimeters of the space, and the shag-pile rug has been taken away, leaving a polished hardwood dance floor, where Lanie is laughing with Jenny Ryan. Captain Gates is standing, half-empty cup of punch in hand, poking at the gaming console with a microphone. She seems to be digging for its mate. Which to Castle seems to suggest 'awkward workmate karaoke' might be next on the playlist.

Castle next casts a glance over his own appearance, because he's not even sure he meets socially acceptable standards. A reasonable concern, given that less than two minutes ago, he was nearly caught rolling around the floor getting handsy with his secret girlfriend.

He grasps the edge of his beige trench, which is now a little the worse for wear, bearing a suspicious spatter pattern from an expensive French wine. He yanks the stiff fabric tighter across his front, using his other hand to pin the belt to him to tighten it, and grimaces when he notices not only is the coat spotty and crumpled, it's also slightly tented with the inconvenient evidence he's been rolling around the floor getting handsy with his secret girlfriend, and liking it.

Liking it a lot.

He sighs. This is the only beige trench coat he owns, so outside of making a fairly obvious costume adjustment, by swapping for something else, which may arouse suspicion, or by taking off the coat, leaving his groin area exposed before its current state of agitation settles down...well, neither of those are an option.

He resigns himself to the fact that there's just not much he can do about this. He should be okay, so long as no-one inspects his outfit or him too closely.

So...where was I...? After the panic of his escape from his bedroom and the fog of distraction from kissing Kate, he takes a moment to berate himself for the unthinking consumption of just enough alcohol to account for the mild befuddlement he now feels.

And he was in the middle of something, but what was it...?

His gaze wanders back over to the middle of the living room. Lanie and the Ryans are still laughing and dancing. He notes the absence of Esposito and thinks about Kate, wondering how she's doing...

Dammit! He takes off toward his office at a gallop.

When Castle rounds the corner into his office, Esposito's foot disappears out of sight as the ex-Marine sneaks through the open door.

Castle takes the distance between the office entrance and his bedroom at a speed-walk, whipping his head around quickly to determine whether he's drawn any attention. Doesn't look like it.

He hurls himself through the door - Espo already has his hand on the handle of the closet door.

In his peripheral vision, Castle can see Kate sticking her head out from the bathroom; he knows she's endured her colleague's threatened illegal search from a terrifyingly close vantage point without being able to do anything about it.

Castle makes eye contact with Kate; she spots him and ducks back into the bathroom again. It's time for him to create a diversion, because Espo has opened Castle's closet, and is slowly swivelling his head toward the other exit, checking whether he's being observed. Castle is sure his own presence is about to be detected, as the detective's hand tightens on the doorknob, about to turn it and pull the door towards him, in readiness to peek inside.

He knows what's in there, and, if Espo figures out the significance of what he's looking at...with Captain Gates in the next room...

It just doesn't bear thinking about. The last thing he and Kate want to risk is giving Espo enough evidence to confirm his suspicions or let him walk out, having solved the mystery - who's the new guy? - clutching Kate's Jimmy Choos in his fists.

Castle shouts "Hey Espo!"

Esposito whips his head around, peering with a frown at Castle as he strolls in.

"Hey." He turns toward the writer and shifts his weight self-importantly from his left foot to his right, cocks his chin upwards in manly greeting, then leans forward to exert detectively influence, designed to make even the worst miscreant spill his guts. "Just heard some suspicious activity in here, and came to take a look." Castle knows the full intimidating-body-language playbook backwards, having worked alongside the NYPD the best part of four years, but that doesn't make it any less effective, as he feels the urge to be open and honest with the detective. Knowing it's the quickest way to get Kate to kill him, it's an urge he immediately tamps down.

But the good news among all the bad is, Espo's now facing away from the living room exit, through which - Castle notes with much relief - Kate does not hesitate to make her escape.

"Suspicious activity, huh?"

"Yeah, and I heard voices. And a whole lotta makin' out."

"Yeah? Really? Huh...did you hear who it was?" Castle lets out a nervous laugh, which, in the face of Esposito's hard stare, subsides into an awkward silence, while his mind thrashes around for conversational dry land.

"Nope. But the way I see it. Beckett was in here with Lanie. Then you went in and Lanie came out. And Beckett didn't come out."

Dry land? Nope. That's not it.

"But... Beckett's not here, so-"

"You might wanna close your bedroom door, Castle. You never know who could get in and start pokin' around. Anything you want to tell me?" Esposito stands nodding his head slowly, gaze fixed on his victim, one eyebrow cocked, letting a pointed, bloated silence suck all the air out of the room.

Fear claws at his throat, and Castle feels like a worm, turned loose from a gull's beak...to land inches away from a fiery pit of doom. It's not much of a reprieve, this change of tack by the detective; still, he'll reach for it with grabby hands. "Nah, I'm good. I'll remember your advice, thanks for that. Whoops, don't trip over that bump in the carpet on your way out..." He crowds Esposito into the safety of the office, where Kate, bless her, is waiting, glass of red wine in hand.

"You lookin' for me, Espo?" She draws herself up to a formidable height in spike heels, takes a leisurely sip, and stares her fellow detective fully in the eye.

He gives her a dark look in return, and he backs out of the office, fixing the two of them in place with a glare. "I'm watching you two!"

"Geez, that was close", she mutters within Castle's earshot, as she follows him out into the living area. She's glad her clothes are tidy and properly assembled, that her hair and makeup have been repaired and that her and Castle's story seems to have held up to reasonably severe scrutiny.

She stands near Castle, but not too close, and pretends to inspect the wall of bookshelves that line the exterior of the office. She's inspected – and a lot more besides – these shelves plenty of times in the last six months.

He stands facing side-on to her, ostensibly watching the goings on in the kitchen, and mutters back. "Yeah...wouldn't it just be simpler if we just-"

"No! I don't want it getting back to Gates. I'm sure I can trust the guys, but it just increases the risk. They're gonna know eventually..."

"All right," Castle pouts. "Doesn't mean I have to like it."

"I know, Castle, I don't like it either. It's killing me not being able to finish what we started in your bedroom before."


Kate feels her cheeks warm and drops her gaze to the floor, then back up to meet Castle's with a smile "Yeah."

Not everyone is oblivious to their return to the party. Neither of them is able to avoid a bout of eyebrows-at-ten-paces with Lanie, who then grins and gives them the two thumbs up. Kate goes adorably soft and pink, and Castle can't help grinning at her like a dope.

Lanie skims past them on the way to the bar. "Nice work flying under the radar, champ." It's his turn to blush.

He's distracted from his discomfiture by warm breath on his ear.

"She's right. We gotta work on that...Meanwhile..." He looks back to see Kate standing right behind him. She nods over to the makeshift stage which is a platform below the windows at the back of the apartment, where he sat lonely and moping what seems like a lifetime ago.

The stage is now occupied by Captain Victoria Gates, grasping one of the ubiquitous red party cups and a karaoke microphone; as the playback starts, she begins to sing with a smooth contralto.

Like magic, everyone turns to watch and it's like they're alone at the back of the room. Castle feels a warm touch snake around his wrist that suddenly yanks him backward, and before he knows what's happened, he's on the other side of the loft door. And she's on him.

She lets him up for air some minutes later. "Where are your neighbors?"she asks. He opens his eyes and looks at her. She cocks her head towards the front door of the loft opposite his, the only other residence on his floor.

"I-I tell them when I'm having the party every year and they usually fly to Florida to visit their grandkids. They won't be back till Tuesday."

"You expecting anyone else to show tonight?"

"Uhhh. No, but why do you ask?"

"Oh...no reason..." And she's untying his trench coat belt, and has undone his shirt, warm hands roaming the skin she uncovers.

"Uhhh..." He's almost certain that it's not exactly the best idea to be making out in the hallway like this. But he was getting tired of Kate not being there, this last week. Then there was that hot dream he had. Then getting her back, and being so rudely interrupted by Espo. Now, as her fingertips lightly graze over his nipples, he feels a burning arrow of sensation right to the groin, and he, or parts of him at least, are thinking that making out with Kate outside his apartment, well, anywhere, really, could be the best damn idea ever. "Cool."


She claims his lips with hers, telling him, with lips and tongue but without a sound, all that she's nowhere near ready to say out loud, cradling his face with tender hands. "Need you..."


She pulls him forward, reaching out to a feeling, craving not the gentle press of two bodies enjoying each other, but the overwhelming force of one body, his, pushing her into the wall.

Soon, it becomes bigger than both of them, this moment, and hands and mouths and tongues lose any control, any finesse; and she's dizzy with lack of air, lungs are tight, flesh is scraping and bruising; but she doesn't care...there's nothing and no-one to separate them, or stop them; nestled safe inside the dark and the heat between them; as her dream becomes real and it anchors them right here in this one moment, gasping and moaning, driving them onto one inevitable path towards-


Author's note: *big evil grin* Hello! I missed this story. It's been on hiatus while I took on the challenge of the Castle Hiatus Ficathon (50,000 words during the nearly four months of summer hiatus. Check out my profile for my ficathon story, Remember Tonight, a Cops and Robbers AU. I'm only up to 16k words but I've been really enjoying getting there!)

The plan is to alternate chapters of the ficathon fic and this fic until they're done. Though I think this one's drawing to a close. Maybe one more chapter to go.

Love and thanks to Ky for another beta and my lady friends for all the pom pom waving! Heart you!

Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Let me know your thoughts with a review. That'd be sweet :)