Summary: Castle doesn't find Kate putting him in the doghouse because of a dream not even a little bit funny. A different response for 8x18. NOT FOR BECKETT LOVERS.

Disclaimer: I do not own Castle

A/N: For this to work I have changed the timeline a bit. I want Beckett and Castle to be able to concentrate on this problem and the case with Haley doesn't allow for that. So, imagine there is an extra episode right before the finale and Kate being angry at Rick because of a dream she had and him fixing her bike happened there and not on 8x18. The case in this episode would be irrelevant. What's important is the starting scene with Kate and Rick in the kitchen where he tries to kiss her and she moves away.

Warnings: My stories are NOT FOR BECKETT LOVERS. I am not bashing her, but I am discussing her flaws and hurtful actions that were not discussed on the show. I do not do the same for Castle because his hurtful actions were hashed and rehashed on the show repeatedly. I want to find a balance. No one is perfect, but no one is so imperfect either. No one should get automatic passes just because. So, in my stories I discuss exactly that. I discuss situations where Beckett got free passes while she shouldn't have. I also discuss the double standards. Things that give Beckett certain rights on the show but where the same does not apply to other characters. Or things that condemn Castle, but when Beckett does them are completely dismissed. So, if you can't read a criticism towards Beckett without being offended. Stop, don't go ahead. You've been warned.

"You're kidding me, right?"

"What? How? When?" Rick asked bewildered. She just accused him of betraying her. She moved away from him when he was about to kiss her. He didn't do that to her even when she had bad breath. And she said that was not the problem, the problem was he betrayed her and he was pretty sure he didn't.

"Last night, in my dreams."

Rick looked at Kate in disbelief. He steeped back to try and rein in his temper but was unsuccessful. She had to be kidding. And a bad taste joke at that. After everything she pulled this year?

"So, let me get this straight," he asked slowly, his face closed, and Kate is surprised at his cold tone. She was expecting some kind of jumbled defense. "You actually dump me, lie to me for months, your minions treat me like crap and blame me for the separation and I not only forgive you instantaneously, but I am actually expected to by you and everyone else. But you dream of something I did not actually do and I'm in the doghouse? You're shitting me, right? Because I can't have possible heard that right. You can't possibly be shunning me because of a dream after everything you pulled this year. After making me believe I did something wrong, letting me humiliate myself to try to get you to love me again and placing me, my daughter, my mother, your father, the Ryans, Espo and Lanie all in danger so you could go play hero and get yourself involved in something that was not your jurisdiction and unlike your mother's case actually has someone more qualified looking into it? Right? This a joke, right? A really bad taste joke?"

"You said you support me, you're helping. You looked into Locksat too?" she tried to defend herself. Where was this coming from? This was going off the rails really fast and she did not understand what was happening.

"And apparently I backed off and had my brain purposely messed up with so I wouldn't put us all at risk. So, I could come back to you. See the difference?" he asked angrily, stalking away from her to give himself some breathing space. He stopped a few steps away and turned around. "It's in the taking the out you were given. Choosing us instead of the thrill. You've never chosen me, so I wasn't surprised you didn't choose me again. And I was presented with fait accompli. You purposely kept me in the dark so I wouldn't get to weigh in on this. Have a choice. And I love you," he snorted. "So I forgave you, because I know that I never have any say in this relationship and if I complain I get kicked to the curb," he gestured wildly. He had been holding this in ever since the day he figured what she was up to out. When she batted her eyelashes and he forgave her. But he'd been in constant fear of her just walking out again because there was something she wanted more, anything she thought more important than their marriage, which he had full knowledge was pretty much everything in the world. She made him very aware, once and for all, of his priority in her life, which was none. And he had tried very hard to keep it all inside, but he was bursting. "So here I am always wondering when is the next time you'll run after something shiny that is more important to you than us."

She shook her head because there was nothing more important to her then them. He had to know that. She had to go after Locksat. Who else would if she didn't? Rita, the little voice that always answered that when she used that line of reasoning answered, but like always she squashed it.

"Why do you think I haven't talked about children anymore?" he continued passing back and forth rubbing his hair desperately. He had reached his limit. "Because suddenly my dream of being a father again evaporated? No! because I know I can't have that dream with you. So, I gave up on that dream," his eyes were tearing up. He was losing his cool and he hated that because he didn't think she would care, but he just couldn't stop. "One thing is for me to accept to be your last option and another is to put a child through that. I've accepted my fate, to always just accept whatever scrap you give me, but this is too much even for you," he laughed derisively, "And you have the gall to punish me for something I didn't do! You know what? Whatever. Today I'm focusing on me and my firm. Good luck at the precinct," he moved away to get his jacket.

"You're not going in?" she asked quietly. No, this couldn't be happening. She didn't like to go the day without him at the precinct.

"And get harassed by your minions once again by something I didn't do? No thank you."

"Rick, we need to talk."

"Yeah, when I wanted to talk you didn't want to. So now I'm the one who needs space," he said angrily opening the door. "A fucking dream!" she heard him snort as he banged the door.

A few hours later Beckett was in her office wondering how she could make things up to Rick. She hadn't realized he was still so angry about what she'd done. Of course, he was a priority to her. Of course, she'd choose him – the little voice inside her called her a liar, that she never had chosen him. The only time she said she chose him was when they first got together, and she only chose him because she lost everything. She just expected him to be there and wait for her when she was done with her things. No, that wasn't true. She squashed that voice. He was the best thing in her life (that's true, the voice said) and the most important (maybe, but you sure as hell haven't shown him, the voice added). And the minions dig. Yes, she knew the boys and Lanie gave him a hard time, but was it that bad? The way he talked it looked like he resented them a lot too. She was surprised by her door opening unannounced and the furious redhead that barged in and dumped a helmet and keys on her desk.

"Your fucking Harley is downstairs in the garage," Kate was taken aback by the swearing. Alexis never swore. "Dad had it detailed and bought a bike for him and took lessons as a surprise for you. He was going to take you in a cross-country road trip this summer for your vacation. Dad, who thinks anyone with a motorcycle over thirty is an irresponsible moronic child. Dad, who likes to play with toys and thinks that, was going to risk his life on a motorcycle because you like them. And you put him in the doghouse because of a fucking dream? After everything you've done? You kidding me?"

"Look, Alexis, I don't know what he said to you?" she tried to placate the furious girl. She could not afford to have Alexis mad at her again. Not after the long time it took for the girl to trust her again after she was shot.

"Nothing, dad never badmouths you to me. He wants to preserve your image. He does the same with mom. So, I learned early on that if I want to know what's happening when he is so clearly upset and hurt, I have to eavesdrop on him and Grams. Turns out apparently, he trusts Hailey too as a confidant now. So, I listened in to their conversation when she asked why he hadn't answered Esposito's text of a body. You know, when I think my opinion of you can't drop any lower, you surprise me. I supported dad getting back with you against my better judgement because of how sad he was when you dumped him for your new boytoy."

"I never cheated on him," Kate defended herself shocked. Alexis thought she cheated on Castle. Who else thought that?

"That's not what the papers and your closed door, touching foreheads meetings with your techie say. But I still bit back what I wanted to say and gave you a chance and you pull this," Alexis snorted derisively. "Well, I'm done with you. Dad should have divorced you when you dumped him and I'm starting that campaign. I thought I could matchmake him and Hailey," Alexis nodded. "But apparently she has a really good reason for not going there, but that's her secret to tell dad when she's ready. Doesn't matter, plenty of fish in the sea."

"What? No Alexis, I love your dad?" this couldn't be happening. She was not going to lose Castle to some newbie former MI-6 agent apparently Jackson sent to babysit them.

"You have a really shitting way of showing it if that's true, I mean, you can't even be bothered to plan a date night for him, after how he goes all out to make you happy," Alexis snorted grabbing the keys and jingling them in front of Kate and then dropping them again. "And I don't believe you."

With that she turned around and stalked out of the room leaving Beckett to her thoughts looking at the familiar keys of her Harley and thinking back to how all she did for date night was order Chinese and try to wrap it up as being considerate instead of just forgetful and how Rick had said he loved it. Because he did. He always loved anything she did. Treated any gesture she made as a priceless diamond and of course he did. Alexis was right. They were few and far between. The last big gesture she made towards him was his first birthday with them as a couple while he took every chance, every opportunity to do something nice for her, from small to big. He didn't want much. Just maybe reservations somewhere and a movie to hold hands and she couldn't even do that. He actually had to remind her of their date night. Had he realized she wouldn't remember alone? Had he known all along she wouldn't plan anything?

He had come up with the idea after they officially got back together as a way to work on their marriage. She had mocked him. Said their marriage didn't need work and yet here they were. Their marriage clearly needed work. He was still upset, and she hadn't stepped up when it was her turn to. And now Alexis was working against her and she knew that to Castle there was only one thing more important than Kate, and that was Alexis. What was she going to do? She needed help, she picked up the phone.

"Alexis, honey? That you? Do you want to join me on a stake out? Cheating wife," he held up the folder as he came into the reception area of the PI firm. "Husband needs proof so he can get full custody. Apparently, she is also a crappy mother. She left the baby alone in the home to go meat her beau and when the husband got back the poor little tyke was screaming his lungs out. He made sure to call the doorman as a witness, but he wants a fool proof case. Even with better legislation the courts still tend to favor the mother no matter what."

"Fitting case," Alexis mumbled.


"Nothing dad, just, he couldn't have gotten a better advocate."

"I don't know what you are talking about," Rick tried to evade.

Alexis shook her head fondly, her dad was sweet, but she was 21. She didn't need him protecting her from the truth. "Both mom and grams have told me dad. Granted, with different spins, mom's was trying to say you overreacted. But they both told me how you caught her with her director or something in your bed and how that wasn't the first time she'd been negligent with me. How there was a reason you didn't like leaving me alone with her, which is why you probably rushed your meeting to get back home fast – that was grams."

"They what?" Rick asked flustered. "Alexis, no. That's between your mother and I – she loves you – she's just."

"Mom?" she deadpanned. Her dad had really shitty taste in women. Her mother the cheater. Gina, who was his publisher first and wife second and used her inside knowledge against him and for Black Pawn and now Kate, who from the start bullied him and left him hanging and continuously chose someone or something else over her dad. She didn't understand. Her dad was such a good guy. Such a good heart. And when he loved he loved with all his heart, all his being. Didn't hold back. She wished she found someone who would love her a tenth of how her dad loved Kate. She would be extremely lucky. And yet he kept choosing these losers who didn't deserve him.

Oh, yes. They were considered strong professional women. But she didn't think they were strong at all. They may be successful, but their success was predicated on treating other people like crap. His dad was successful and treated everyone with respect, with kindness. That's what she wanted to be like. To her that was a strong woman. One of her teachers at Columbia was the same way. A very successful woman who would never say a bad word or treat anyone, no matter who, with disrespect or cruelty. She was the role model of a successful woman to her. Her mother, Gina and Kate weren't. Yes, they were kind to her. But they treated her dad like crap, her mother wouldn't bat an eye at pulling the rug at a colleague to get a role, Gina didn't mind pulling the rug on her dad and other writers as long as Black Pawn got the best deal, and she lost count of the times her dad came back hurt because of something Beckett did.

She worked in the ME's office. She heard the gossip. Most officers didn't like Kate. Her dad wasn't the only person she treated like crap. Some excused it as her thinking that as a woman in a predominantly male environment she thought she had to be that way to be respected but most, when given that excuse pointed out several examples of women in the force who managed to be though, not let anyone walk all over them, respected, without treating others badly. A lot also thought at the time there was something going on between Beckett and Captain Montgomery. They now knew, after his tape was used to convict Bracken, that his blatant favoritism of Beckett was guilt. But at the time there were very few officers at the 12th who didn't resent the fact that Beckett got away with stuff that other officers would have been suspended or demoted for with Montgomery. They actually liked when Gates came along and didn't give Beckett so much leeway.

And most officers didn't understand how dad stayed, didn't just up and leave. Yeah, there was a pool about when they were going to get together. But that was just a few people, the biggest pool and that was still ongoing, was when her dad was going to finally have enough and kick Beckett to the curb. She had put money on that one at the time. She had already started seeing Kate for what she really was, and not the extraordinary person her dad seemed to see, in the summer, when she froze her dad when a simple text would have lessened his depression, his nightmares that he tried his best to hide from Alexis but that she saw through his façade. Then they got together, and she tried, really did, to give Kate another chance. But then she chose a job over her dad. Seriously, a choice she didn't have to make because dad would have followed her, supported her. She lied to dad. She heard dad and grams talk the day before she left for Costa Rica. And then, once again her dad just rolled over and was the one to work for their relationship. Not Beckett. Beckett was ready to end the relationship for the job. Just a few weeks after dad had stood next to her on a bomb. Dad chose her and she couldn't choose him. No, she was kissing Vaughn the next week.

That was why she was angry with dad and started her misguided relationship with a boy who she knew would drive her dad nuts. Yes, she was upset she learned from grams of the engagement, but she also knew her dad had probably wanted to tell her in person and grams jumped the gun, and then the first time they saw each other she sprung Pi on him. She was really punishing him for once again just forgiving Kate. Because she too didn't approve of his choice, but she didn't know how to say it since grams approved of Kate so much.

And when her dad went missing. She didn't believe the whole CIA story; she knew her dad. There was something wrong in that story because her dad would never leave them without notice for nothing short of their safety. So, unless letting them know put them in danger there was no way. She knew that, and she would have thought Kate knew that too, but no. Once again dad was having to sign himself out of the hospital AMA to prove his innocence. Even though when the tables were turned, he always gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone at the precinct was gossiping about how Beckett overrode protocol to get Vikram a job. How they had too many closed-door meetings and close quarter whispered conversations. A lot more than any captain had with any of their techs. Even the rags had witnessed her coming out of Vikram's place at all hours of the night and had no problem printing it and yet dad never once believed she was cheating. Despite her history with Vaughn. Always tried to figure out what he did wrong. Beckett wouldn't and hasn't given him the same benefit. Alexis was pissed. This was too much. She knew she gave her dad a hard time during the separation, but she thought it would make him give up on Beckett. Reverse psychology. Because every time someone tried to point out maybe the problem was her, her dad shut his ears and eyes. But today he arrived at the firm pissed and when she asked if he wasn't going to the precinct, he said the precinct wasn't his firm and he needed to concentrate on himself. He was right. And she was going to help him.

"Sure dad, I love stake outs with you. You always get the best junk food."

Rick's brilliant smile was all she needed as a reward. "Let's go. I got a car that isn't going to stand out. Hailey made fun of me because of that stake out we did in the Ferrari."

Hailey was another one. This morning after Alexis had overheard dad explaining what happened to Hailey and Alexis had cornered a reluctant Hailey, she had the epiphany. She really liked Hailey. They got along really well. Hailey seemed to be fond of her dad from the get-go even if she tried to hide it. So, she stated point blank Hailey should try to get together with her dad at which Hailey splutter a 'no' with a disgusted face. Alexis got offended on her dad's behalf and started giving Hailey a piece of her mind about what a catch her dad was when Hailey interrupted her blurting out:

"He's my brother!"

To say Alexis was shocked was an understatement. Apparently, Jackson hadn't mentored and chosen Hailey out of coincidence. She was another of his missteps and, no Hailey didn't know if there were more. She said it took years for Jackson to confess to her and only because he needed her to try and find Rick, so he had to fess up his reason for his interest in the writer. Hailey apparently was both shocked and pissed at Jackson, but finding out she had other family than just him, made her rethink her life. And when she had found Rick and brought him back, she had wondered if she could be a part of his family. She told him that when she found him, she had told him the truth. To get him to trust her. But that was part of what he had to forget and then she decided that before reentering their lives she'd make sure she had dealt with any loose ends from her time in MI-6. Once again, she was thwarted when she took a freelance job from Jackson's wife (Alexis was shocked that Jackson had a wife) and ended up entering their lives by accident earlier. But hadn't told them who she was in case she had to disappear again. Like she almost did.

Alexis thought her dad must know subconsciously Hailey is his sister even if he can't remember. Because he trusted her really fast. The only other person he trusted that fast with his personal life, and moreover, with Alexis, was Kate. That's why she thought Hailey was a good option. But now she shuddered a bit at the thought. But she didn't want to keep a secret from dad for long, so Hailey better buck up the courage. She also wasn't going to just believe her, so she had demanded a DNA sample she had Lanie currently running, despite being upset at Lanie for her part in treating her dad badly. "Because you're Castle!" Humph. What about "Because she's Beckett," that makes a lot more sense to Alexis. She returned the banter.

"Well, the car does stand out dad."

"So, you mean I shouldn't lend it to you because it calls attention to you?"

"Let's not get hasty."

"I want you safe."


"This is the beginning of a beautiful partnership. Castle and daughter. Castle and Castle," he put his arms around her shoulders guiding her out.

"I'm the first Castle, right?"

"No, it's by seniority," he huffed as they walked out.

"I haven't seen you in several years and today you called me in the middle of the day and asked me to fit you urgently, I imagine that is not for the niceties we've exchanged so far. So why don't you tell me what's really in your mind Kate?" the doctor asked gently, and Kate fidgeted. She wanted him to tell her how to fix what she fucked up. How to make Castle understand she had no choice, that of course he came first. That her leaving him wasn't to not let him weigh in in the decision, but to protect him. She had intended to expose her case to Dr. Burke so he would validate her and help her build up arguments, but for once in her life, the little voice that told her she was wrong, that she knew all along investigating this was putting Castle in danger, regardless of if they were together (like he pointed out earlier), spoke first.

"I fucked up Dr. Burke. Really badly."

The consult went for much longer than the usual and Kate came out of it with something very different than what she had intended. But with a lot of clarity and a clear path to what she had to do.

"She called me and said she was out. That she gave the cellphone to someone who had jurisdiction."

"Did she say who?"

"No. Look. I'm out too. And I suggest you leave them alone. All the times I told you to just kill them you didn't want to because of the backlash. Now your little trap went sideways. You are exposing yourself for nothing. From what I can tell they got nothing. If you hadn't purposely led them to me, they would still not have me and you know as well as I do that my time doing this was coming to an end. Well, I'm not waiting a week for my retirement plan."

He might have a point there. Mason always suspected Jackson may have another kid out there. He and Jackson had been partners when he knocked up Martha Rodgers, what a woman. He didn't blame Jackson the slip. But he had been young and sloppy and involved Mason when someone realized he'd been sending money to Martha and they had to take care of the problem. A few years later he recognized the signs. The melancholy, the guilt even though Jackson would never dream of leaving the job. When pressed Jackson claimed Ricky was turning four. But by then he had been a pro in checking on his son and accepting that was for the best. But Jackson learned his lesson and Mason was never able to suss out this probable second kid.

So, going after Castle meant not only risking his old partner hunting him, but some unknown. That's why the detective was still alive. Going after her meant having Jackson's pretty smart, resourceful and lovestruck kid after him. And going after the kid meant Jackson.

But his lieutenants were dropping like flies and he was getting nervous, so he decided to finally take some preemptive action and find out what those two knew, especially Castle, and be done with them once and for all.

Almost two years ago he went through a lot of trouble to get Castle when he knew Jackson would be otherwise occupied, so he would be able to one, keep Beckett occupied while Bracken plead guilty, so she wouldn't investigate more and accept that was a problem solved. And Bracken knew better than to stir more trouble than he already had. The second was to interrogate Castle to find out if they did know something about Locksat.

That was harder. The kid not only didn't crack but he managed to escape. Come back to try and get evidence against them. Escape again, and almost see Mason. At least the second time he got shot. Two weeks later he showed up with no memory and Mason tested it thoroughly by sending in people Castle had interacted with to see if he recognized them, fake Jenkins included.

He didn't know who Castle went to for the memory job, but they clearly did the same Mason had intended to do. So, all Mason had to do was continue the plan to make it look like Castle was faking and had gotten cold feet. But this was two years later and a nifty new drug was available that could bypass Castle's loyalty. And Flynn was biting at the bits to have his plaything back. Flynn loved chemicals and Mason loved how they could use them to torture someone without leaving marks.

But there was also the fact that two years ago, when Castle came back for evidence, he had help when he was cornered. Which meant he wasn't all that successful in only keeping the kid while Jackson was otherwise occupied. And Jackson had been very careful with who knew Castle was his kid. Which reinforced his theory of another kid, since his sources guaranteed that Jackson was still deep under when Castle was found. He never managed to get an identity on the person who helped Castle escape the second time.

But maybe Beckett taking the out was better. He'd keep an eye on them and the tech guy to see if they really gave up.

"Fine. When are you pulling out?"

"I mean I am calling you from a plane that is currently directed to a non-disclosed, nonextradition country. See you never"

And the line went dead. Yeah, Brown was burnt anyway so no loss there.

He needed to figure out who was gunning for him because it clearly wasn't the detective and her husband.

In another life, Rick Castle had just taken the hit quietly. Had swallowed his feelings once again and in a weeks' time Mason Woods would be arrested and his operation publicly destroyed. Caleb Brown would be dead and Rick Castle would have spent a year recovering from a gunshot to the chest, while his wife would have gotten the scare of her life. Because though she was lucky, her wounds weren't serious, her obsession came very close to costing her her husband and her unborn daughter. And it did cost her seeing her husband go through a lot of pain, her relationship with her step-daughter who never forgave her, and with her mother-in-law, who even though she wasn't as outspoken as Alexis, chilled her relationship with Beckett to freezing levels, being polite because of the children. And her job, because her very public take out of Locksat cost a three-letter agency a two year infiltration operation to get Locksats' supplier. And the brass and upper echelons were not happy.

They would have given her the option to resign quietly and with a partial pension for the simple reason that they did not want the public PR nightmare that firing Nicki Heat would bring, but everyone in the force knew it was because Beckett went rogue, again, and placed her officers in unnecessary danger, and sent two to the hospital in addition to herself and her civilian husband with her stunt, and the brass had enough of her stunts.

They had been close to demoting her when she failed to report to her command and instead went rogue 9 months prior and only her fame stopped that. Finding out she had spent the next 9 months misusing police resources in an unsanctioned investigation was the last drop that would have cost her and Vikram Singh their jobs in this world.

Instead, because Kate Beckett made the best decision of her life. The next week Rita's team finally was able to quietly take down everyone in the Locksat operation, including Caleb Brown in his tropical paradise, and get to the supplier by taking their place. Mason Woods and the others involved on the other hand were killed instead of jailed, because Rita and her crew did not have Castle and Becketts morals.

He opened the loft door to a dark living room, lit up only by candles, his wife kneeling in the middle, holding a rose in her hands like a prayer.

"Don't leave me for Hailey," she blurted and he frowned.

"One she's my sister," yeah, that was a surprise. "She told me today and I hate it because I had the feeling I already knew, and she confirmed it. She had told me before. Alexis, who apparently found out before me, had Lanie ran her DNA against mine that is in the system and it is true," he said annoyed. He hated that sensation. That there was something he was supposed to know and didn't. But he also understood Hailey, she was trying to protect them. "Second, doesn't matter how angry I am at you I'd never cheat," he said tiredly. "That wasn't the point of this morning."

She flinched as she remembered her kiss with Vaughn because she had been angry. "Alexis said-

"Alexis means well but she is only 21. She still sees the world in black and white. Good and bad. No one is all good or all bad or perfect. I know that. Now get up please. I don't like you humiliating yourself," he pushed her up gently and she came up and held his biceps.

"But it's okay for you to?" she whispered. "Someone told me today strength isn't pretending you didn't screw up. Strength is owning up to tour mistakes and being brave enough to humiliate yourself if need be to fix it. You are strong. You have never been afraid of humiliating yourself for a good reason. I want to be that strong," she said looking him in the eyes. Hoping he'd see her sincerity. Dr. Burke had said that, and she realized that she had often promised and said things to get Castle to let things go, without actually owning up to her mistake. And then her words turned out to be a lie. She didn't want that to be the case here. And she knew he had reason not to believe her, but she hoped he did. Because she really was being sincere.

"You are the strongest-"

"No, I'm not. I realize that today," she took a deep breath. "I went back to Dr. Burke and I realized I am a selfish coward."

"Kate, no-"

"No, listen up," she said silencing him with a hand to his mouth. "I know you like to see the best in me, and I love you for that. But it takes courage to share your life, to show someone else all of yourself. To accept input from other people in your life and I've never allowed that. You were right. I wanted the thrill. I knew someone would get justice, but I was so full of myself and I missed it, that I used any argument to convince myself there was no choice. And deep down I knew you wouldn't buy those arguments. You'd tell me to trust Rita like the families of our victims trust us. And so I did what I did. Because I missed the thrill. Chasing Bracken off the books for so long was such a part of me that after we put him away, I felt like a part of me was missing. Instead of realizing all the new things I had. But you. You've always been able to call me on my crap. You've always been able to see when we were going too far. When the price would be too high and pull me back. And I didn't want that."

"If I was able to do that, you'd never been shot," he said sadly caressing her chest.

"That was never your fault, you know that," she frowned. She knew he felt guilty, but she never thought he actually believed he could have stopped her shooting. Bracken put that in motion because Raglan grew a conscience. Not because of what they had found before Raglan called her. She would have been in the crossfire even if she'd never met Rick. Instead she met him, and he called her and tried to take the bullet for her. Her doctors had told her that that probably saved her life. She flinched when he called her and had already started ducking. The bullet missed her heart by inches, which if she had been standing would have been an instant kill. CSU proved that, he had to know.

"You told me about the rabbit hole and I still told you about Dr. Murray's finding, if I had kept my mouth shut-"

"I would have answered Raglans call and been right back there anyway. Telling me was the right thing to do, and you did it even knowing how I would be pissed. And you never pointed out how unfair I was to you at the time. How I accused you of looking into the case for morbid curiosity even though I had known you enough by then to know you just wanted to help."

"You were right to be angry."

"Javi told me he let you see the files way before you ever asked me," she raised her eyebrows and still looked guilty.

"I should have asked first."

"You should have, but I made it way worse than it was, like I always do. And you didn't complain. You just worked your way back. Paid your penance and I never have. You have always allowed me a free pass for my mistakes and worse, I have always expected one. That's not strength Rick. Strength is what you did. You apologized, made amends, every time I was angry at you, even when I had no right to be angry at you, like the summer you went to the Hamptons."

"I didn't call, I didn't want to intrude but I should have called," he shrugged.

"I could have called too, and you didn't promise to call," she pointed out. "When I didn't call after promising to call, I made you feel bad for being angry instead of doing what you did. Paying penance. Accepting my mistake and apologize without justifying myself. Because I was never strong enough, courageous enough to admit my faults, to make amends and I want to be. And that is why I called Dr. Bruke. I am going back to him. To do better. I called Vikram and Brown and pulled the plug on the whole Locksat thing. I called Rita and gave her the phone. I choose you, okay. I choose you," she finished touching their foreheads and Rick swallowed hard nodding.

"I can't say I'm not relieved Kate," he sighed. "I've been petrified since I first confirmed you were after Locksat. Since before. I had a feeling that might be why you left, but I couldn't be sure. I never know with you."

"We'll work on that. Communication. You suggested couple's therapy and Dr. Burke gave me names. I think we both need work. Together and individual because Rick. What you told me today. About giving up your dreams for me. Of accepting scraps. That's not okay either. You deserve better and you need to know that." He shrugged so she insisted. "You do babe. I know I am guilty of constantly putting you down. All of us are. No wonder you're upset with the boys and Lanie too. I've talked to them too. I let them know the real reason I left and let's just say they are not happy with me. But while I took my fault, I also made them see theirs and I think they have."

"It wasn't your job to make them see how they have been treating me, they should have realized that themselves," Rick huffed.

"Sometimes we need a little push. Like the one I got today. I know we are far from okay, but babe, I want to put the work. Please give me another chance."

"I told, I was angry but I wasn't leaving-"

"I know. Because you're you, but I want another chance for both of us to become equals. Dr. Burke and you pointed out that we are not equal in this relationship. I have all the power and you are the only one compromising."

"You moved in, compromised your independence. I have a surprise for you because of that-"

"My bike, yeah. I know," she said at his shocked face. "That was very sweet of you but, no babe," she shook her head. "I moved into a place I felt was more home than my home. I made a big deal about my apartment and Dr. Burke asked why, since he remembered I had recently moved into my apartment when I first started seeing him. Why I felt a place I'd been for so little time was so important, and I realized it was because I felt I was giving up my backup plan and he told me I didn't. The lease is still in my name and I sublet to my cousin not a stranger I can't kick out. And I realized, that's true. I am still keeping a foot out the door. Not sharing my life. I haven't compromised babe. At all. I just moved my body here and I need to move all of myself. So, first thing tomorrow, I'm calling in sick because we are going to finish unpacking all those boxes that are in the guest room okay. And I am calling Sophia and the landlord so we can change put her name in the contract instead of mine."

The smile she brought up on him was worth the harrowing three hours she spent with Dr. Burke.

"Okay? And then we are going to start working on ourselves. And I have amends to make with everyone else too."

"I love you Kate, so much."

"I love you too babe. I just don't know how to show it."

"I'll teach you," and he kissed her passionately.


"So, mommy and I worked on that. Showing our love for each other. And a couple of weeks later we found out you were on your way and we were super happy about the surprise, because even though you were a surprise you are so loved," he bent down and kissed the little girl in his lap. "So bottom line of the story is that now you have to show how much, and how deep you love your brothers. So how about you give each of them a kiss because you love them so much."

"No!" the one-and-a-half-year-old said simply. Kate joined them on the floor with a glass of juice and said simply:

"What did you really expect when you decided to have kids with Beckett genes," she shrugged.

"She also has Castle genes!" he insisted. "And I thought the whole point of having them so close to each other was so they could play together. Be best friends. How is that going to happen if she keeps this severe case of the jealous?" he huffed from his position. He had placed the two two-week-old boys on the play mat in front of him on cushions and was seated with his littlest girl on his lap facing them.

"That and because I was pushing thirty-five."

Rick looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"You've been thirty-five for five years now. Any chance that is going to change any time soon?"


"I like forty-year-old Kate way better than thirty-five-year-old Kate. Forty-year-old Kate is much more centered and happier with herself. She isn't afraid of showing her emotions and sharing her life. She is a good Captain who is okay with delegating and doesn't feel the need to court danger. She is a loving mother. She knows a lot more sexy tricks," he waggled his eyebrows. "Don't you like forty-seven-year-old Rick better?"

"I do," she smiled. And she did. He had worked hard on learning to understand he deserved respect and that made their relationship better because he didn't just take her crap laying down. That also made his relationship with the boys and Lanie better because he didn't let them bully him anymore. Though they tried very hard not to, after the talking to she gave them.

He was also way happier. She only realized afterwards, how much she constantly hurt him. How many times he looked sad or stressed out. Because now he doesn't. He looks content and happy most of the time. The sadness, worry, stress has bled out of him and are a rare occasions, instead of the constant like it was before. He even lost a lot of weight because he wasn't stress eating. Though she missed the bulk. She liked it, and had told him not to exaggerate. Healthy was one thing but she liked her big Castle. But she needed to see him content to realize that. And to realize how much better she felt herself now. She wasn't just hurting him. She was hurting herself so much. Denying herself so much happiness by holding tight to the reigns. "And you mean thirty-five-year-old Kate."

"Nope, I mean I love every one of years. Right little bean?"


"Just like you love your brothers."


Kate smirked. "You can't trick her. Rick, relax. All the books say you only start forming long-lasting memories after you are two. Give her a couple of months and she won't even remember she ever was little queen of the Castle alone being spoiled rotten by her grandparents and sister."

"Siblings are supposed to love each other. I don't understand why she is acting up so much," he huffed.

"You're an only child, well, at least on your mother's side."

"So are you."

"I have younger cousins. I remember when Sofia was born. Little upstart had my parents eating out of her hand. They couldn't get enough of her," she huffed.

"You were a teenager at the time," Rick said bewildered.

"So what? Just because I didn't want them all in my business didn't mean she could hijack them," she huffed. "They were my parents."

Rick shook his head fondly, "I guess I was lucky grams family kicked her out and only came crawling back after I made my first million," he cooed to the little girl and the boys. "I was never close enough to them to feel jealous. Right little bean? But you are a sweet little bean, and you love your sister, don't you? Right, you adore Alexis."

"Lesi!" the little girl jumped on her bum excitedly.

"Yes, so it comes to reason you love your little brothers just as much."


"Alexis spoils her rotten. The boys take away our attention."

"Kate you are not helping!" Rick huffed and Kate laughed, and his daughter followed suit. Well, he wasn't giving up. The Castle stubbornness and charm had won against the Beckett stubbornness once and they would prevail again. He was plenty stubborn, and the boys had plenty of Castle charm.

A/N: I hope you liked the story. There were two things bothering me here that drove this story.

That the writers thought having Beckett put Castle in the doghouse because of a dream would be funny after everything that went on in the first half of the season and how easily he forgave her, and that Beckett wouldn't get any backlash from her Locksat sting from the NYPD. She may have gotten the bad guys in the end but she encroached on Rita's operation (and I remember her saying that was a very bad thing in season 4 when Castle asked her to step in on Slaughter's case) and she basically had her men have to go into a trap to save her and Castle. I've started watching Blue Bloods and seeing the One PP side of things and I can't see them not doing anything. Even before I started watching Blue Bloods I couldn't believe she would just go on being Captain without a reprimand. Now I am even more sure of that.

I didn't fix things easily here for them, but I also don't like repeating myself on common themes, so just assume they put in the work. And now they are in a very good place.

So, I thought this was one more time where Castle rolled over when he shouldn't have.

For anyone who is interested, I opened a twitter account to announce when I update so that you guys don't miss out when ffnet doesn't send the alerts (has happened a few times to me recently. I receive an alert after a long time of a regular writer being silent and I find out there were several chapters I missed). So if you want to, follow me on twitter at padyandmoony (the handle was wrong before but I fixed the problem).

I've also been playing with an idea for a crossover with Harry Potter similar to my other one, except this time Rick would be James and Kate Lilly. Would that be of interest to anyone? Or do you think it would be too close to what I did with "The Dad Who lived" I've put up a poll on twitter so please vote there. Let me know.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!