Summary: Castle has enough when Beckett compares him to Dr. Motorcycle Boy. NOT FOR BECKETT LOVERS.

Disclaimer: I do not own Castle

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.

"I've had enough, I deserve better"

"He saved a life this morning, what did you do, eat waffles?" she teased him. He probably did. He loved waffles, and she loved his waffles. She had opportunity to try them when she stayed at his place for a few days. Before she got spooked by how she liked the family life with Castle.

"I saved your life several times," he snapped as he stopped walking. "I wake up at all times of night and day to join you on giving people closure for free and taking time out of my actual work and family because I think what we do is important. Not because of book research. I had enough for that after the first week. Yet here I am on my third year in a row of my volunteer work with the NYPD and apparently that's still not enough for you to have an opinion of me higher than that of a cockroach," he laughed derisively, "God, this is Demming all over again, with his helping at youth risk," he ran a hand over his hair. "Except maybe I should be grateful that this time you're not kicking me out of interrogations for your boyfriend. Well, you know what Kate? I had it right back then. When I decided that since I was bothering you, I would just leave. Shouldn't have come back. But I'm stupid in love with you that way. That you kick me, and I come back like a puppy. You know what? Since you clearly don't need or value my help, help yourself. You don't need anyone right?"

And with that he turned around leaving her speechless and with his mind going on a mile a minute. Why did he put up with her abuse? And not only hers, he had done the same with going back to Gina hadn't he? Gina too seemed to find a reason to treat him like crap all the time and yet he went straight back to her when Beckett made herself clear that she had no interest in him at all.

The other day when Beckett had surprised them with Josh, who came out of nowhere, he had been so shocked that when he got home and his mother and daughter had asked how his day had gone he had blurted out Beckett had a new boyfriend instead. They had both looked at him with pity. But worse. After Martha had left to some soiree or another, Alexis had asked if Josh was why Beckett broke up with Demming and he didn't know how to answer. He figured that yes. And then Alexis said:

"For a one and done kind of girl like she told you she was, she doesn't seem to take her relationships very seriously, does she? I mean, you told me they were serious. She treated you horribly for him and yet she dumped him for this new guy?"

He hadn't known how to answer, because yes. From all Beckett had always told him and how she criticized him for dating, he had assumed she was the kind of person for whom going away on a weekend was a prelude for moving in together and getting married being a given. And yet, at some point she broke up with Demming and got together with Josh, while at the same time deriding him for trying to work things out with his ex-wife. And at first, he thought that was jealousy, but Josh intimated they had been together for some time, so she had to already be in a relationship with Josh when he came back and he was clearly wrong. She wasn't jealous at all. It was just another way she had to put him down. Like just right now.

And he had been thinking a lot about that because Alexis's remarks and the tone she used made him realize that his little girl wasn't looking up to Beckett like she used to. He realized that started with the Demming debacle. Martha confessed to him that she may have told Alexis about how he was upset Beckett had been pushing him out of the investigations in favor of her boyfriend during the summer when they were talking about if he was going back to the precinct or not, and why he might not. And apparently his little girl took offense on his behalf.

He didn't want that. He had liked that Alexis had a good role model other than his mother. He wanted his little girl to understand she could do whatever she wanted, be whatever she wanted, and she had the right to do so, without anyone telling her differently and he had thought Beckett and Gina were that to her. And he was worried that his romantic fumbling was getting in the way of that. But when he had told his mother this the other day she had asked.

"But is she really? Do you want Alexis to be someone who thinks it's okay to bully others just because she is a woman?"

And his knee reaction had been to defend Beckett but the more he thought about that, the more he saw his mother was right. And for his mother to peg Beckett as a bully was something, since his mother was a champion of putting him down (Freud might have had something to say about that and his choices in women). But he realized she was right. And only so much could be excused as Beckett's irritation at him using his contacts to intrude into her life, especially considering, she had been the one to open that door when she arrested him without any probable cause in the middle of his launch party. And he knew she knew that. He had been warned by Bob that Beckett had gone all the way to the Police Commissioner when he first started shadowing her and the Police Commissioner had given her a reality check. That was mostly the reason he had never complained about how she or the boys treated him to a superior, even Montgomery. He didn't want to add black marks to their records, even though he rationally knew he wouldn't be responsible for them, they would. After all, they were all intelligent adults who had to understand that threatening to break someone's leg or shoot them on a daily basis was not okay or funny.

And yes, he flirted, a lot, but she flirted back. She didn't just up and tell him to stop flirting, that she didn't enjoy his advances. If she had he would have stopped, because he knows the line between harmless flirting and harassment. No, every time he said something flirty, she said something flirty back, and many times she was the one starting the inuendo and then in the next second she was threatening to do him bodily harm. If he had ever threatened her the same way she threatened him, he'd have been arrested in a heartbeat. But she was a woman, so everyone thought it was okay and funny. And he was just confused because she was like a yo-yo. One second she likes him the next she's shutting him out.

He had told her he was leaving and she asked him to stay, and yet a few weeks later when he told her to ask him why he was there she responded with the dig "I ask myself that all the time," like she hadn't asked him to stay at all. Then a couple of weeks later, after he saved her life and opened his home to her, where his daughter lives, she is treating him like he is a bother again. Like he is only good to fetch coffee for her and partnering up with Demming.

And yes, he had gone out with Ellie Monroe, for a "one night stand", but he hadn't made out with Ellie in front of Beckett and he only went out with Ellie because Beckett couldn't leave his home fast enough. She exchanged his private guest room for a couch at Lanie's. She couldn't have been clearer to the fact that she was not interested in him.

So, after a month of that treatment, he decides to leave and then when they meet again everyone, including the captain who was his friend way before he ever met Beckett, treat him like crap because he didn't call? Why didn't they call?

He had given all of them an open invitation to go to the Hamptons any time that summer. Why didn't any one of them show up there? And yet he is the one treated like crap?

His mother's remark had him thinking on a lot more than just Beckett's treatment of him. Ryan had shot at him when he was putting the gun down and yet nothing happened. Not an apology and not a reprimand from the captain. They all, Beckett the most, just acted like he deserved getting shot. Like it was okay and justified.

He had been thinking a lot about all that ever since that night and Beckett's remark just added to his already swirling mind. Was the straw that broke the camel's back and he realized he needed to change not only his situation but himself. He needed to stop thinking that people treating him badly was ok. Which meant he had somewhere to go.

Kate stood there like a statue for forever. What had happened? Of course, she valued him. Of course, she knew he wasn't there just for research. He was smart, kind, had a huge heart and was a great detective. She knew all that and he knew she knew that, right? Of course, he did. He had to.

And did he say he loved her? Well, yes, she kind of already knew that too. And she knew, rationally, that it was her fault he left with Gina. She had continuously rejected him and was in a relationship with Tom. But while a part of her told her that, a bigger part of her had expected him to just sit tight until she decided she was good and ready to risk their partnership and friendship and move forward in their relationship.

She loved him too. Of course, she did. There was no one who understood her like he did. Who was there for her, like he did. Who took care of her, like he did. Worried about her feelings, if she was fed and rested. Safe. Who always thought of her first, like he did. And she couldn't risk losing that. Once you added sex to the mix, relationships got messy. People started expecting you to consider them too. To share your life with them. And yes, a very small, super hidden part of her realized the hypocrisy that she loved Castle put her first and expected him to do so while also not wanting to return the favor. While still wanting to be able to think of herself and herself alone. But she quickly squashed that part. That was the same part that told her she didn't have the right to be angry at him for leaving with Gina instead of waiting until she had dumped Demming. And especially for his timing. Like he should have just guessed what was on her mind and known she had dumped Demming that second, despite her rejecting his offer twice.

That was the same part that told her she should have gone after him, to fix this. Apologize for her remark. But as she always did, she just beat that part into submission, turned around to go interrogate her witness.

"I wasn't expecting you Rick," Gina huffed closing the door to her office. "You know better than to interrupt me at work."

He nodded to himself. Yes. He knew better. Even when they were married, he didn't come first and was a bother most of the time. Oh, he wasn't blameless. He knew that he didn't allow her completely into his life. The part of him that was still hurt by Meredith's betrayal and was worried that would happen again and hurt him and Alexis again, kept a part of his heart locked, and most importantly, Alexis barricaded from Gina. But that doesn't change the fact that Gina was his publisher first and wife second. And that had always hurt. Because even protecting his heart. If it came to a choice between his job and her, he wouldn't have blinked and would have chosen her. She wouldn't and hadn't. A lot of their fights came from the fact that Gina used personal things she knew from being his wife to get Black Pawn better deals when signing his contracts. Apparently, history was repeating itself with Beckett.

He should have asked for a different publisher when they married but he had been determined not to jeopardize her career because of their relationship. And she was a great editor. Really shrewd businesswoman, who could sell sand in a desert. But maybe if he had insisted on her not being his publisher back then, their marriage might have gone a different way. Maybe he would have stopped her when she put him down because he wouldn't excuse her behavior as being the tough editor trying to get the best from him.

He looked at her. He had loved her. He still did. In a different way. With all her faults, she was a good person and he had been in this planet long enough to know people weren't perfect. Black and white. All good and all bad. This woman was capable of gentleness. He had seen that with Alexis, with his mother. That was part of the reason he still cared for her so much. No matter how she treated him, she had always treated the two most important women in his life really well, with a lot of kindness and fondness. She just wasn't capable of that with him. And he had realized, with how Alexis was upset with Beckett on his behalf, that he deserved kindness too.

He leaned on her desk and crossed his fingers and started with care. He had lashed out at Beckett, but he had time to cool his head off. He was ashamed now of how he acted. He should have talked to her calmly. Brought up his concerns, like he had been thinking of doing, in a civilized and calm manner. He hated losing his cool. But most importantly, Gina wasn't at fault for Beckett riling him up. She was at fault for her actions and her actions alone. And he was old enough to understand that people shouldn't have to pay for other people's mistakes.

"This won't take long. This summer, we were both in a bad place. I was rejected by Beckett and you had just broken up with your boyfriend. And we got together as each other's rebound and that wasn't right."

Gina looked at him and said simply, "Rick, we were honest with each other. I'm not expecting another marriage here. Just fun and companionship. Remember how we talked about this. If one of us finds someone else, we would break this off no hard feelings. Has your detective made a move?"

"No," he laughed sadly shaking his head. "Quite the opposite. But it was her actions that made me realize we both deserve better. You deserve someone you respect, and I deserve someone who respects me. And we both deserve someone who loves us back wholeheartedly. Not half-way. With conditions and restrictions. That's not love, at least not the kind of love that a romantic relationship should be based on. The kind of love who is happy to see the other even when they are interrupting."

"If this is about what I said, I'm just swamped Rick-"

"No, maybe, yes. But that's my point. One day you are going to meet someone who even swamped you won't mind if they show up at your office unannounced. Whose phone calls you aren't going to dodge because you don't want to hear about how you are late on your deadline," he pointed at himself and she rolled her eyes, "You won't mind picking up that call and getting berated and then making lovey dovey conversation. Just as you won't mind being interrupted even if that means having to rush with something later. That phone call, that interruption is going to bring a smile to your face not a frown. And that goes for both of us. I love you Gina, and when we got married, I really thought that love would be enough but now I see that love is enough for a very good friendship, but not a romantic relationship. And us being together… when neither of us is committed to the other, when I have openly told you I'm in love with Kate… that's not fair to you or me. We're getting in each other's way of actually finding someone we deserve. Who is going to be that person for us. And while I've come to realize, that won't be Kate for me. I deserve that, too don't I? What have I done that is so wrong that people seem to think I deserve to be constantly put down?"

"Nothing," Gina said sincerely. Because he was right, she did constantly put him down. She sighed. "You are a great person, a loving husband. I was very lucky to have you. You always thought of me, took care of me, that's you, you are a nurturer by nature. Put me first in everything except Alexis, and that is how it is supposed to go. She is your daughter; nothing comes before her. But you are right. I never put you first and I never let go of the publisher-writer relationship. I represent Black Pawn. My job is to be hard on my writers so Black Pawn's interests are protected, and I was never able to let that go with you. But that wasn't because you did anything to deserve that Rick. God, never. You think I don't know what I let go when we divorced? Anyone is lucky to have you love them. You had your faults, but I know that most of our fights were because of me."


"They were Rick," Gina smiled sadly, coming close to him and caressing his cheek fondly. "I hurt you so much when I leveraged our relationship to get you to write more, faster. That was wrong and for a second there I thought, maybe I can have both with this new, just for fun relationship. Maybe I can have all the good without hurting you because you won't be that invested. But that's not you. You can't do just for fun Rick, and eventually you would end things. I kind of knew that but I wanted to pretend that wasn't so," she shrugged. "You are right. I love you, but no, I don't love you more than my job, my independence. And you deserve more. I don't know if I believe in that kind of love you are describing but I sure hope one day I find it."

"It exists," he insisted and she smiled. "I feel like that for Kate. She doesn't return my feelings, but that is not her fault. No one is obligated to return someone else's feeling. What they are obligated to is be correct with the other. Not string them along. Not expect them to stay there and offer everything to them while not getting anything in return. I've realized that's Kate. She doesn't love me, but she enjoys my devotion. And I don't want to be that person. I don't want to do that to you."

"You weren't," she shook her head. "You never mislead me Rick. You were very honest about your feelings for Kate. Don't worry about that."

"But I hurt you, and I don't like that," he said sadly.

Gina shrugged, "A relationship without some kind of hurt is impossible. People aren't perfect. We both hurt each other. What matters in the end is the desire the person has not to repeat their action. I think that's what tells you if the person loves you enough. If they are willing to stop whatever they are doing that is hurting you. And – I'm not Rick. I'm not willing to stop being your publisher, and I know that. I've always known that."

"Then that's what you'll be, my publisher, my friend," Rick said simply getting up, holding her gently by the arms and kissing her forehead. "Sometimes romance doesn't work, that doesn't mean we can't still care for each other."

Gina smiled. She knew she deserved a tongue lashing. But that was Rick for you. Oh, he might lash out in the heat of the moment, but it takes a lot to get him there and after that, he tries his best not to hurt the person he is talking to. She knew his epiphany had a lot to do with how she treated him. How mean she was to him sometimes, and how he deserved someone in his life who didn't treat him like that. And yet, he tried his best not to point out what a bitch she can be. A word that would never come out of his mouth. But she just doesn't know how to flip the switch, from publisher to lover. She never could. And maybe he is right. Maybe it's just because they aren't each other's 'one'.

She hopes one day she will meet this mythical man she won't feel the need to put down and assert her dominance over. The man she will accept as her equal. But that wasn't Rick. And like she said, deep down she knew this fun had numbered days. She sure as hell would miss the sex, the man wasn't creative just in the pages and he always made sure to be extremely attentive to her. She had been around the block enough to know that a man who is more concerned about pleasing his woman than himself is rare. She so wished he had been her one, but she guessed the saying was true. The heart wants what the heart wants, and her heart didn't want Rick, regardless of what a catch he was.

He was writing when suddenly she walked into his office and he frowned. Alexis was in school and his mother was out too. How did she get in?

"You didn't come back yesterday, and we're stuck in the case!" she said by way of greeting crossing her arms, a file in her hand, as if she was about to lecture him.

He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms looking at her straight and not letting her intimidate him. "I told you I wasn't going to. I've been reflecting a lot on this relationship I have with you and the 12th precinct detective, and I realized I don't like it."

"What?" she said taken aback. He called her detective in a way she didn't like. In a way that was clear he was distancing himself. "But you said you like bringing closure to the families-"

"Yes, I do," he nodded. "But I don't enjoy being treated like crap. I don't enjoy being reminded every second I am not a cop and just good for bringing coffee. I don't enjoy being shot at. And so I have decided I won't be coming back to the 12th precinct unless things change. Not that I am holding my breath, you are probably celebrating my decision despite having asked me to stay the time I offered to leave."

"I don't want you to leave", she snapped.

"I am not delusional," he continued as if she hadn't interrupted him. "I know that just because I love you that does not mean I have a right to you or that you have to love me back. I do however have the right to be respected. I do however have the right not to have you lash out at me when I try to get over you. You have the right not to love me back. You do not have the right to treat me like dirt. You do not have the right to complain, make fun or deride my relationships. You do not have the right to put your colleagues up to giving me a hard time and shooting me. Your colleagues do not have the right to bully me and shoot me. And I expect a formal apology for all of the above if I am to return to the 12th precinct. Especially from your captain who condoned one of his officers shooting me when I was putting the gun down and from said officer for shooting me. I also expect said officer to have to attend some kind of seminar that explains when it's okay to try to kill people," he finished breathing hard. He tried to calm himself. He had promised himself he was not going to lose his cool again, but just listing everything that had been going on made his blood boil.

"He wasn't trying to kill you," she huffed despite cringing inwardly at everything he said. That little part of her screaming he was right and yelling at her for making him look the way he did. Rick Castle wore his feelings on his face and while his posture screamed "I am trying to be tough here," his face showed a lot of hurt. And she knew she had placed that hurt there.

"The CSU report begs to differ. There is a nice drawing of the trajectory of Ryan's bullet that shows that had I not bent down quickly to drop the gun, I would have been hit right in the heart, a kill shot."

"I – er – I didn't know that," she stammered shocked. What?

"Funny, because I saw that on the report that was delivered to you on your desk."

"I read about the victim not you," she tried to explain. She never even stopped to think he was almost shot. Her blood turned into ice at his words. At how close he came to being killed, and how she hadn't even blinked or let that filter through her anger. What was wrong with her?

"Of course," Rick sneered. "I was the perp who dared to have some self-respect right? Instead of staying there and taking shots from you and your boyfriend."

This was getting out of control. Yes, he had some very valid points, but she couldn't lose control, right? She needed to put order back to this dynamic.

"Look, Castle. I shouldn't have taken a dig at you yesterday. But there is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill."

"Oh, this isn't just about yesterday. I had been thinking all this for a while. I was intending to talk to you about that after work yesterday, but well, you just had to, didn't you?"

Kate looked at him shocked and he realized she thought this was just about yesterday. He shook his head.

"I apologize for lashing out yesterday. I shouldn't have been rude. But the content of my speech is still very valid. I deserve and want respect, otherwise, you can do without me, which you have repeatedly said is what you desire."

"That's not true!" she cried and at his raised eyebrow she added. "Okay, yeah, maybe I have said that on occasion, but I didn't mean it. You know that. Of course, I want you working with me. Of course, we value you and your input. You are a good detective."

"I think that's the first time you've ever said that," Rick deadpanned.

"Look, Castle, you said yourself. You like helping the families. You don't want to stop that do you?"

"You are not the only precinct in town with a homicide squad. I've actually gotten several proposals from other precincts for quite some time now. Apparently, the stats at the 12th have improved since I joined and these other captains seem to think that may have something to do with my consulting. And since I'm an unpaid volunteer, it's not like they have to lobby to open a spot or get the budget."

"You wouldn't go to another precinct?" she asked horrified at the thought and he sighed uncrossing his arms and leaning them over his desk. He gently said.

"I don't want to Kate. Despite your treatment of me, I am very fond of everyone in the precinct. I respect you as cops and I've seen you are capable of treating other people with kindness and respect. Just not me. And I know that I forced my way in, and that was wrong. Though to be fair, you're the one who opened that door when you abused your power and barged into my launch party, arresting me in front of the cameras even though I had no connection to the victim any more than anyone else who had read my books, yourself included. If you had just approached me politely, and asked for my help about the fans that have written to me, like we've done in other cases, the mayor and the Police commissioner wouldn't have approached me begging me not to sue and then given me permission to shadow you so long as I didn't sue. But still, I guess I could have been the better person and turned the other check and all instead of giving you my default treatment for dealing with bullies, which is irritating the hell out of them, and you had a very big neon sign pointing to you with big words "BULLY" right there when you first waved your badge at me. That was wrong. I agree. We started out on the wrong foot on both sides."

She winced internally because she knew he was right. She had been chewed out by the Police Commissioner when she tried going over Montgomery when he insisted Castle shadow her and the Police Commissioner had not been happy. He had pointed all the very valid causes Castle had for pressing charges against her and the department because of her stunt. And had made the fact that Castle shadowing her was both to suck up to him, so he wouldn't sue, as well as her punishment.

"You had no problem doing the deed now you suck it up and accept the consequences detective," was what the Commissioner had said at the time. And deep down she knew she only approached Castle in that manner, instead of politely and discretely, as they had done for others (including a sports agent who turned out to be a murderer) as he pointed out, because she indeed was a huge fan and his books represented such a big part of her relationship with her mother and how she worked through her murder, and she hated other people having that kind of power over her. So she had wanted to show who was boss. Castle had never asked her to apologize, nor had he mentioned that he had been annoyed by the action, but he clearly had been, or he wouldn't bring it up now.

"But I thought that after over two years I had earned respect," he continued. "I had earned my place there," she nodded her head, because of course he had. She had realized in the Tisdale case there was a lot more to him than the childish playboy he was insistent in showing to the world. She just couldn't let him know she knew. "But that's not what you say. You constantly put me down. And I've come to realize I can't just keep taking that laying down. And if not for me, for self-respect, then for my daughter. What am I teaching her if I don't defend myself? I have accepted that my love for you is unrequited and I am trying my damn best to get over you. I am not expecting you to return my love, ever. But I am expecting you to respect my feelings. You have all the right to have a relationship. You don't have the right to shove that relationship in my face and want to make me feel inferior to your boyfriend. I may not be a heart surgeon but what I do both as a volunteer and as a writer matter," he said getting up and walking to his shelf. He opened a cabinet and took out a box.

"This is the most recent box I have. These aren't just any fan letters. These are fan letters from fans that said my work helped them in some way or the other. To let them see there is a way out of darkness, to give them an idea of what to do with their life or even to just give them an escape from the harsh reality of their life for a few hours. I may not be saving the world, but I'm not useless to society either. And what you said implied you think I am."

"I don't!" she cried. How could he think that?

"Go back to your book signings Castle," he mocked and she winced. "Like I am somehow inferior to you because I take time to respect my fans and give back to them. Because I acknowledge the fact that without them, I'd be writing to myself. I am who I am because of them and the least they deserve is a few hours of my time to listen to them. Be nice to them. Smile at them and even flirt and let them fantasize they might have a chance with me even though I know that's not true because unfortunately my heart has been completely kidnapped by you. Or would you have wanted me to treat you badly on February 9th of 2004 when you stood in line to get my autograph?"

"You remember that? You never said?" she asked shocked.

"I have a photographic memory and you caught my attention even back then."

"You didn't say anything. You didn't flirt with me."

"I was married at the time Kate," he sighed. "I don't cheat. Regardless of how much someone may attract me. And if someone does attract me, I make sure not to do something dangerous as flirting. There is a big difference between harmlessly flirting with someone I know I won't have anything and doing so with someone who attracts me."

"Oh, I – I never thought about that," she confessed. He had known all along what a fan she was and hadn't lorded it over her when trying to get her to confess she was a fan.

"Of course not. You formed your opinion of me before we met from the very inaccurate gossip hags and apparently there is nothing I can do to change it," she shook her head because her opinion had changed. She knew he was a good man, with a good heart, even if somewhat childlike at times. But when push came to shove, he was someone she could count on. She knew that had she called this summer he would have ran to her despite Gina and Demming. Expecting nothing more than friendship from her. He made that clear in his speeches now. And yet she didn't. Instead she nurtured her anger and blamed him for not calling.

He continued, "That day, I saw a young woman who was in pain. You had an old, very well-read book with you. You were also in uniform and when you gave me the name Johana, I saw your tag said K. Beckett and realized the book wasn't yours. I realized the book probably belonged to someone who either couldn't be there because they were sick or because they weren't there anymore, but that they meant a lot to you. I tried to be kind. I tried to write something that would make you smile."

"It's cheesy but it's right, after the storm there's always a rainbow. Never forget that and hold on tight," Kate repeated because he had made her smile. And she realized the irony of her dismissing his books and book signings as unimportant when she herself was one of those people who used his books as an escape, who had his books let him know that one day justice would be meted out and who did indeed decide to become a cop because of his books. She checked all boxes. She knew firsthand how important his work could be and yet she belittled him and his work every chance she got. "Don't go to another precinct," she begged. "You're right. I am sorry. So sorry. I didn't realize how we made you feel. I thought you knew what you meant to us," how could he think she didn't love him back. God, she needed to fix that. And for that she needed him back. "I'll talk to the others and the captain. You are right about everything you said. I will do my best to make things better for you. I promise. But please don't leave."

She looked down at the file in her hand. "After all this I am kind of ashamed to say this. Because I came here because we are stuck, not to apologize like I should. But please take a look at this. You don't have to come in. Just text me your idea later. I know you are angry and hurt and upset, and rightly so, but this victim doesn't deserve to pay because the guys and I screwed up and we really need your help."

Crap, she got him there. Way to use emotional blackmail, "Fine, but just because I had already started this case," he leaned over the desk and grabbed that file. And looking at the file he said, "The key I gave you was because I wanted you to know this is your home. But that doesn't give you the right to barge into my office unannounced. Next time knock and if I tell you to leave me alone, do so. The loft is big enough you don't have to be in here."

She smiled and couldn't help but add because, he was hopeless, "That's not what you should have said. You should have taken the key back and told me off for entering the loft, not your office, without authorization. Tell you what, I'm going to work in being less of a bitch."

"I never said you were-"

"I'm going to work in being less of a bitch," she repeated, "and you are going to work on establishing clear boundaries and holding your line. You are not coming back to the 12th until you get your formal apology from everyone. Including me. I'm going to write one."

"That's what I said."

"And that's what you are going to hold to."

"Yes," he said affronted and confused, and she shook her head doubtfully.

"I'll make sure you do," and she knew that was counterproductive for her. But the look on his face yesterday, and today. She never wanted to see that look again. And while she knew his forgiving nature wasn't a pass for herself and others to treat him badly, she also knew it was a slippery slope for them to do so.

"Good work detectives," the Captain congratulated the three detectives in his office at closing the case and helping out the lovestruck couple.

"Couldn't have done it without Castle's help," Beckett added, and he raised an eyebrow in question. Beckett had never before admitted to Castle being instrumental in a case, and he found it odd especially since one, she hadn't yet lifted the order to give Castle a hard time and two, he hadn't seen Castle around for this case.

"I didn't realize Castle was part of this case."

"He consulted from home. I fed him the development and he texted me back his thoughts. Er, Captain. Actually. That is something I need to talk to you all."


She looked uncomfortable, "Er, we need to formally apologize to Castle."

"What?" the other three men cried.

"And, I know that you guys were just having my back, but well, even that doesn't excuse it."

"What are you talking about?" the captain asked.

"It has been brought to my attention our treatment of Castle may be bordering on bullying."

"Not bordering no, it's bullying," the Captain said simply nodding.

"You know?" she asked shocked.

"Just because I don't reprimand you guys that doesn't mean I don't know what is going on?" he said firmly. Yes, he knew, and he cut Beckett slack because of their past. He thought Castle was good for her. If Castle thought she was a bully now, he had no idea how she was before. Castle was the first partner since her training officer to stay with her for more than a few weeks. Everyone else had come with complaints against her, her attitude, her refusal to follow orders and her reckless behavior. The only way he could avoid sending those complaints up to 1PP and protect her was by quickly assigning her partners to someone new of their own choosing. But Castle hadn't complained. He had just taken the hits and had somehow managed to get her to focus most of the hits on him, lowering the amount of complaints from patrol officers, technical staff and pretty much anyone she interacted with by smoothing things over for her when she offended someone. Oh, he knew that deep down Beckett could be a great cop and an empathetic person if she wanted to, but to do that she had to let go of that chip she had on her shoulder because of her mother's murder. And since he knew that case wouldn't be solved any time soon or most probably, never, he just did his best to smooth the path in front of her out of guilt. Deep down he also knew he wasn't doing her any favors by spoiling her this way, but he couldn't help himself.

"So, do you realize you should have reprimanded Ryan? That we're all very lucky Castle didn't lodge a complaint?" she asked.

"Of course, had it been anyone else Ryan shot while they were putting the gun down, he'd have his gun taken, an investigation conducted and had to go through recertification. But it was Castle," the captain said dismissively, and Kate looked at him shocked.

"CSU said that if Castle hadn't bent over to put the gun down, he would have died."

"But he didn't," the Captain shrugged as did the other two.

"Yeah Beckett, why you all bent out of shape now? You didn't care then," Esposito asked bewildered.

"I was wrong!" she cried. "And me being wrong doesn't excuse your behavior. Last I checked you all have your own brains. Ryan, I know you didn't even apologize!"

"You were pissed at the guy! I was showing him what was what. I saw him ducking, it was just a scare."

"You saw he was putting the gun down and you still took the shot?" she asked her eyes wide.

"You don't think I was actually going to harm him?" Ryan asked disbelieving. "I was just scaring him. I never thought he'd shoot us. It was Castle, he picks stuff up but can't hurt a fly. Remember that time with the spider in the bullpen? He picked it up with a piece of paper, went all the way downstairs to set it free for crying out loud. The only reason he shot Kitty Canary was because she was about to shoot you. That's about the only thing that would make him hurt someone. If you or Alexis were in immediate danger. He was never in danger. I knew my shot would miss."

"What if he had stood back up?"

"In time, nah," Ryan said dismissively.

"And you are okay with that?" she asked the captain.

"No, actually," the Captain was glaring at Ryan. "I thought you actually thought Castle would shoot back. The lecture would have been about asserting the reality of the danger first."

"So let me get this straight, you," she pointed at the Captain, "thought Ryan jumped the gun and didn't think to make him understand that before he does that to someone else because this time the victim was Castle, you," she pointed at Ryan, "knew Castle wasn't a threat and shot at him anyway to scare him and you," she pointed at Esposito, "are okay with both scenarios."

"I knew Ryan was just scaring Castle. I saw Castle move to put the gun down before the shot too. Again, why you so bent out of shape? It's Castle and it's not like he was in real danger anyway. We give him a hard time for you all the time. You never minded. You actually encourage us."

"And I was wrong!" she cried and was horrified at all of them. Herself include. Castle is a person and yet they acted like because he is Castle, he doesn't have rights. Seriously?

"You know what, we are all?" she circled to all of them, "Fucked up and with all due respect Captain, but we all, you included need counseling. And to apologize to Castle understanding what we did wrong. He is not coming back until then."

"I can't have that. Our numbers took a hit when he was out this summer and I need them back up before review. Not to mention I know of at least 5 Captains who want to poach him. No way you can let him loose," the Captain said crossing his arms.

"Well then maybe you should start with reviewing your own behavior towards someone who you called friends way before he started here," Kate snapped back. Was the man serious? Were his numbers more important than his friendship? Than treating Castle like a human being?

"I was having your back. You are like a daughter to me. You are overstepping your boundaries detective," the captain replied angrily.

"And I acknowledge that sir, and apologize if I am out of bounds, but that doesn't excuse your actions. Or mine. I'm feeling extremely ashamed of myself and that you three aren't is very troubling. I'm sorry to talk to you this way but if I don't see some serious soul searching and attitude change here I will be lodging a complaint on Castle's behalf to 1PP and I will include myself in the complaint and all of you," she turned around leaving the three flabbergasted men.

"I'm sorry Castle I didn't realize how bad things were. I'm so sorry for what I did and what I let happen."

"It's okay," he tried patting Beckett on the back as she cried in his shoulder. She had rushed into the loft, this time ringing the doorbell, and had hugged him (a first) and started crying. He had gently steered her towards the couch and had let her cry and tell him about the conversation with the captain and the boys. He couldn't say he was surprised. He was glad Ryan at least wasn't trying to kill him, but his actions were still extremely reckless and uncalled for.

"It's not."

"Yeah, it's not. But what I mean is that you now see what's going on and can change. So that's a step forward."

"I broke up with Josh," she said leaning away from him and dusting her eyes.

"Why? What did he do?" if Motorcycle Boy had hurt her…

"Nothing, he was a perfect gentleman. He just wasn't you."

"Uh?" Now he was confused.

"I know you are trying to get over me with Gina="

"No. I mean. Yes, I am trying to get over you," he tried to explain. Where was this coming from? "But not with Gina. We broke up. Using her like that wasn't right. I saw that."

"Oh, don't."


"Get over me. I'm messed up. I know that. And I deliberately hurt you. But I also called my therapist. I'm going back to him. Please give me that time. I just need to figure out why I am doing this, so I don't hurt you anymore."

Okay, now he was even more confused. He thought he had been clear that he understood she didn't reciprocate his feelings. He didn't want to jump to conclusions and think she wanted him pining over her when she had no intentions of ever being with him. So he decided to once again explain he understood she didn't love him but he had the right to find happiness.

"Kate you don't owe me anything. I told you. Just because I love you doesn't mean-"

"I love you too, you dumbass!" she cried desperately. Had she hurt him so much that that was so hard for him to believe? She needed to make him understand, "I hate when you are not around. I love when you say stupid things to make me laugh. I always want to tell you stuff, and my day is awful when you don't come to the precinct. I'm just so freaking scared of losing you and of sharing with you. I've never done that, shared. You tell me everything. For crying out loud, right before you left you changed your phone and you passed it by me if it was okay to buy the phone you wanted and which one I thought was best. I don't know how to do that and usually that's when I end a relationship, when the guy wants to share our lives. For there to be an us, not just me. And I'm scared of doing that to you because that means there is an expiration date but at the same time I don't know how to share. Why are you smiling?"

"Because you are willing to try Kate. We can figure everything out. Alexis wants me to go to therapy too. I've never done anything like that. I talk to my mother, to you, but a stranger I pay… But Alexis asked me. She is worried about how I keep getting in relationships with women who don't see me as their equal. Who feel the need to remind me they are the dominant and well-"

"I'm like that," she said simply, and he nodded uncomfortably. "I don't want to be like that. I want you to be my equal."

"So, let's both of us work on each other," he said looking her in the eyes and holding her hands gently. "And we see how things go from there. But that doesn't mean we can't do that while at the same time being together," he finished kissing ger hand and she smiled and kissed him. Oh my, this was better than she imagined as he returned the kiss with fervor.

Beckett dumps Josh and decides to go back to therapy to see why she has been treating Rick so badly. She suggest he do the same to learn to value himself. He accepts.

"So, bottom line is, we screwed up Richard, and if you could forgive us, I can promise that from now on you will be treated with respect. Also Detective Ryan is undergoing recertification and has had a rip and a week's suspension for his actions."

"Yeah, he apologized," Rick said simply from his spot in the armchair in front of the captain's desk. He had actually never expected Montgomery and the boys to own up to anything. He was going to come back for Kate, so he was extremely surprised when he got letters from all four of them with formal apologies and said apologies were repeated personally when he came in to talk to Beckett today. He had to confess to himself he was glad Ryan had to face disciplinary actions. He and Esposito were going down a slippery road, and while up until now he had been their only target, it wouldn't take much for them to evolve to other targets. He thought they were good men, but everyone needs boundaries. If you allow anyone to get away with abusing power, they will increase the abuse and as police officers they held an enormous amount of power over other people. Power of life and death and freedom and incarceration. They needed to be held at a higher standard because when they messed up, lives were destroyed.

He had never understood that more than when he saw the CSU report and his blood had run cold at the thought that because they were trying to teach him a lesson, show him his place, Alexis could have been left fatherless. This wasn't a prank, a stern talking to. This was shooting someone, almost taking their life. And even though Ryan said he saw Rick bending down and thought he wouldn't be hit, if Rick had stopped going down or even moved back up, Ryan's shot would have hit. That was not a risk Ryan should have ever taken just to harass Rick no matter how confident he was. So he was glad this was being addressed. He would take the approach of wait and see. He firmly believed that once punishment was doled out and served there was no point on continuing to punish the person. That would only lead to resentment and not rehabilitation. So he accepted the apologies and was back at the 12th. But, that didn't mean he would forget or not be alert to the signs if things started to deteriorate again.

Right now he would just enjoy the fact that he and Kate were working towards being better for each other and he was back doing what he loved, solving crimes with his partner. They had also started officially dating. And had informed Montgomery of the fact. The captain had allowed them to stay together which had surprised Beckett. But Montgomery had just told her:

"You two have been in love with each other and acted as if you were an old married couple for over two years now. It would be hypocritical of me to separate you just because you have finally added sex to the mix."

Rick was happy about that because he thought he and Kate indeed worked well together, and now that she was trying to be more considerate with him, things were much better. Oh, he knew it wouldn't be always smooth riding and he had had some tough sessions with his shrink after which he needed some alone time. They had also had a few sessions together, with both their shrinks. But what mattered to him was that they were both committed to trying and to putting in the work. That gave him hope they would make it. Because that's all he wanted, to be old and crinkly and be solving the mystery of life together.

The end

A/N: As usual, my intention was never bashing any character, so sorry if Montgomery came out a bit on the bad side here. I was trying to get Beckett to be that extraordinary woman we were promised and explain why we didn't see her in the show. And I think Montgomery's guilt would have made him go to extremes for her, as he did in the show.

Also, I believe we were more than shown in the show that Rick Castle was a very forgiving man. So, in the end, when I am writing these stories, I end up not seeing him not forgive her, just search for more balance between them. Like I've said for Rick, I've been around the block enough times to know people aren't all good or all bad and in my opinion what differentiates a good person from a bad one is owning up to their mistakes, atoning and trying not to repeat them. A bad person knows they screwed up and just doesn't care. A good person does. A good person regrets their actions and tries to fix them. A good person isn't a perfect person who never does anything wrong, bad, that just not exists. They are just a person who looks back and says "Oh, fuck. And now let me see how I can fix this."

And I think that goes for all of them in this story and that Rick is old enough and wise enough to understand that.

Hope you enjoyed! Thanks for reading and reviewing!