A/N 1: Back again! :) I'm still so amazed and grateful for the response to this fic! You guys always come through when I need a little wind put in my sails, and I thank you so much.

This chapter is pretty heavy on dialogue from the episode, once again all credit for that goes to the writers of The Limey. Certain things have been switched around to fit the narrative of my story, so hopefully that's not too off-putting. I hope you enjoy this chapter!

Chapter 3

"Castle."

"Hey, Castle,"

God, she sounded so vulnerable. His terse 'are you ready to tell me the truth, Beckett?' died on his lips.

"Hey," Rick tried to lighten his voice a bit, but wasn't sure how successful he was. "Are you ready to come over for our talk?"

"Yeah, about that..."

Rick's heart sank. He was afraid of this.

"Beckett, don't do this. We can't do this on the phone..."

"No! Rick... That's not what I mean."

Castle's spirit lifted a little at that statement. Rick. Beckett called him Rick. She only ever used his first name when she was serious. For some reason that gave him hope. But – he had to remind himself – she'd looked him straight in the eye and told him she didn't remember her shooting, even though she did.

"What do you mean, Beckett?" Rick asked, careful to use her surname as something of a shield for his heart.

She caught on; he could tell in the break of her voice when she spoke.

"Yeah, um, Castle," she fumbled, back to last names for her too. "I just wanted to know if we could do this at my place?"

He could swear he heard her bite her lip.

"I mean, neither yours or mine is really neutral ground, and I can't think of any place private that would be."

"The swings would be neutral," Castle replied. "But not private." He wasn't sure why she wanted 'neutral ground', but he didn't think it bode well.

"So, I thought my place, since... um... well, I don't want to get in the way of Martha or Alexis. I mean, you're obviously pissed at me about something, so I would imagine they're not too happy with me either, depending on whatever you've told them."

A little presumptuous on her part, Rick thought, but not inaccurate. He'd only told his mother about the lie, but Alexis had been at best wary of Beckett since at least the shooting at Montgomery's funeral. And thinking about it, not having the redheads there would probably be better. He didn't want Beckett to run before finding out her reasons (excuses?) for her lie. And if the three of them ganged up on her, she would run. And cut all ties and kick him out of the precinct and then he'd never know.

Cutting ties and leaving the precinct might still happen, but not that way. He wanted the story. And damn it, he still loved her and didn't want to hurt her any more than he had to.

"Castle?"

Oh, right. He was still on the phone.

"Sorry. Um...Yeah. I think that would be fine to do this at your place."

"Great!"

Wow, the relief he could hear in her voice was palpable. She must really not want his mother and daughter there. Rick supposed he really couldn't fault her for that.

"Tonight?" he asked.

Beckett sighed. Castle could feel her deflating through the phone.

"I wanted to, I wanted to get this moving forward..."

"But?"

"But I got called in to put together an undercover op tonight. Ryan and Esposito got the info we needed in the last hour, and it all came together really quickly."

Well that was okay – sort of. At least it was a real reason and not just blowing him off – unless she was lying about this too.

Maybe that was uncharitable.

"You going in alone, or is Ryan undercover with you? Or Esposito?"

"Um, neither. A British Detective-Inspector is involved in the case, and he'll be my partner."

British Detective-Inspector? Ok, Rick accepted she was telling the truth. The BD-I was a story he would tell. Beckett wouldn't tell a story like that... unless...

God he was turning into such a cynic.

Then he saw green, and mentally slapped himself. He had no reason to be jealous… But partner. He was her partner… Even now.

"Handsome?" He couldn't help himself. Idiot.

"What does that matter?"

"It doesn't, I'm sorry, I'm being stupid."

"Maybe a little."

She was smiling now, he could tell. Even after everything, how could they still be so in sync?

"We're hoping to get enough information to wrap up the case in a couple of days at the most."

"Well then, I'll call you in a couple of days."

If she caught the implied rebuke about her not calling for three months after she said a few days, she didn't let on.

"Sounds good, Castle." There was a pause. "Castle, I know we're not exactly poster children for good communication, but I do want to resolve whatever's been going on between us. How-however it's resolved."

Did her voice break with that last sentence? Or was he reading too much into it?

"I do too," was all Rick replied. And almost to his surprise, he meant it. The eternal optimist was peeking his head out again.

No sooner had he clicked off than his phone buzzed again, startling him so much he nearly dropped the thing. Geez, he should be used to that by now. It was Gina.

"Hello, Gina."

"Richard."

"What can I do for you?" he asked. "Did the set of chapters I sent you this morning suck?"

"I didn't call about your chapters, though there are a few edits to discuss."

"Okay..."

"But we can set up a time to do that later. Do you have plans with your detective tonight? A 'case'?" The airquotes were obvious in Gina's voice.

Rick rolled his eyes at her snarkiness. He'd told her multiple times how important the precinct was to him – even though he was thinking of leaving it now.

"No, Gina," he answered. "No case, no plans."

"Great. I got a call this afternoon from the secretary of one Nigel Wyndham. He's the Deputy General of the British Consulate here in the City."

"Uh-huh..."

"Apparently, he's a fan of your books and would love to meet you. There's a party tonight at the Consulate and you're invited."

"Really?"

"Really. This could help your international sales, so put on your tux, turn on the charm, and schmooze with the upper crust."

"I'm not saying no, Gina, but this is a little short notice. Should I have a plus one or...?"

"That's for you to decide, but yes, the invitation includes a plus one. However, it's black-tie, and as you said it's short notice. Would your detective have enough time to get a dress?"

Wow. Jealousy was running rampant tonight. He had no reason to be jealous of the detective inspector, and Gina certainly didn't have reason to be jealous of Beckett. She wasn't with him with him – neither Gina nor Beckett, which Gina certainly knew, with their disastrous personal relationships. They shouldn't have married in the first place, let alone rekindled the romance later on.

His relationship – or lack thereof – with Beckett was none of Gina's business.

And anyhow, he had someone else in mind for his date.

"Richard?"

He jumped.

"Sorry Gina, I was lost in thought."

"Hmmm... So, are you willing to go?"

"Of course, I have no plans for tonight, and it's always nice to meet a fan."

"Great. I'll call Mr. Wyndham's assistant and RSVP for you."

"Thanks Gina," Rick clicked off and brought up another number.

XXXXXX

Kate hung up the phone at her desk and looked at it pensively. Did Castle believe her? It sounded like he didn't believe her. Shit. Well, he was right to be skeptical, she supposed. Damn she wanted to cry every time she thought about that transcript of Bobby Lopez's interview. She wasn't necessarily sorry she hadn't told Castle she remembered at first – she had needed that time alone, but Dr. Burke was right. She should have told the writer sooner.

Why hadn't she? She was scared.

Ha! Some badass cop she was.

Since Kate had been called in tonight, she'd gone to the morgue to talk to Lanie. It had gone better than she was afraid it would, better than she thought she deserved.

"Hey, Kate, you sounded serious on the phone." Lanie said as soon as Beckett strode into the morgue.

"Yeah, I figured out why Castle has been so pissed off at me."

"Oh? Spill."

Kate hesitated.

"Kate?" Lanie pressed.

"You'll probably be mad at me too."

Lanie side-eyed her.

"Whyyyyy?" she drew out the word warily.

Kate took a deep breath.

"I remember my shooting, and have since the beginning."

Lanie stared at the other woman in shock. Beckett usually told her everything.

"Kate, why didn't you tell anyone?" she asked.

Kate sighed.

"Let me explain..." She dove in.

The ME was silent after Kate ran out of words.

"Lanie?"

"Oh, Sweetie," Lanie's arms encircled Kate in a tight hug. "I won't say I'm not a little bit mad, because I wish you weren't so inside yourself. You know we'd all help you if you'd just let us in. I think even Captain Gates would."

That made Kate give a watery laugh.

"So, Castle knows that you lied about remembering your shooting." Lanie continued. "Understandable he's ticked, but why has he been acting the way he has?"

"He said he loved me… and I've never acknowledged it," Kate answered, wincing at the ME's look.

"HE SAID WHAT?" Lanie squealed. "Now I really am mad at you! You've known all this time and haven't said anything to him? Or to me? Girl, what is the matter with you? You know this is real."

"Do I?" Kate retorted. "I mean, the guy has been divorced twice and he's still chasing bimbos like this 'Jacinda' person. Maybe that's just who he is."

"Look, maybe's it's the wrong time. Or maybe he's even the wrong guy. But if he is, how long are you going to wait to find out?"

Kate examined the tile floor. She didn't know what to say.

"Ten years I've been keeping them company," Lanie went on, gesturing at the wall of lockers where the bodies were stored. "While they spend a night or two here on their way to where we're all going. They all had plans, Kate. Things they were going to do when they got around to it. Go on a cruise, lose 10 pounds, fall in love. They thought they had all the time in the world. But nobody does." She eyed her friend, and softened. "Kate, don't let the 'maybe's' keep you from something great."

"Hey, Beckett?"

Kate jumped and looked up at Ryan standing by her desk.

"You okay, Beckett?" he asked.

"Yeah, sorry Ryan, I guess I was a little lost in thought."

"I could tell. So, a package just arrived for you from Luke's Boutique…Fancy". He pointed to the box he'd placed on her desk.

Wow, she must have really been out of it if she'd missed that box. It wasn't small.

"Sorry Ryan," she repeated. "This must be the dress for the op." She looked up at him. "Are Colin and Esposito back from renting his tux?"

"Not yet, Espo just texted me saying they were on their way, though."

"Good, I'll go change."

"Ten bucks Hunt finishes changing first even though he's not back yet," teased Ryan.

"Shut it, Ryan," Kate grinned as she stood and marched off to the locker room.

XXXXXX

Once inside, Kate's smile fell.

She had found the fabulous evening gown on a shopping trip with Lanie a week before the bombing case fiasco. She imagined herself wearing it to a party at Black Pawn with Castle. It was classic enough that it wouldn't go out of style so she could wear it at a New Year's party with Castle. A Broadway premiere of a play Martha starred in with Castle.

Always with Castle.

She didn't buy it at the time – a formal evening gown wasn't exactly appropriate for a girl's night out, and Lanie would have known exactly who Kate would wear it for and would tease her unmercifully. Especially since she wasn't with Castle yet, although Lanie would also probably praise her for finally getting to the point of being ready to dive in with him.

She had gone back to the exclusive boutique on her lunch break the next day to try it on. It needed several alterations but the shop was backed up so it would take a week or so to get them done. That was fine with Kate, since she wasn't planning on wearing it immediately.

Then Boylan Plaza blew up and Castle lost interest. Kate almost canceled the dress order, but ultimately decided to keep it, since it was already being altered to fit her, and who knows? Maybe there'll be a time to wear it, Castle or no.

Or, the dress would sit in the back of her closet as a reminder of what could have been… if only.

Now, here it was, still in the box, sitting on the bench by her side. She needed to hurry or Ryan would be right. Her smile returned recalling the detective's teasing. He was probably right anyway, a fabulous dress required fabulous primping. Kate thought it was too bad Lanie wasn't here to help, but no. This was a party sure, but it was work, not a time for girly talk.

She opened the box and got started.

XXXXXX

It was a good thing Kate hadn't taken Ryan's bet. He, Esposito and Colin Hunt – indeed in his tuxedo – were waiting in the bullpen when she walked out of the locker room. Judging from the stunned looks on their faces she either looked really good, or really bad.

Kate hoped she looked good. Undercover or not, she really could have used Lanie's input. 'I guess I could have asked Gates,' she thought, 'but that would have been weird.'

She was still dressing for Castle, she realized as she rummaged through the small box of costume jewelry she had in her locker left over from her Vice days. She'd bought the dress for him, and she wanted to wear it for him, not for an undercover case. She found some earrings that would work, fake diamonds, but they looked good, they weren't gaudy. The necklaces in the box on the other hand...

This dress required real jewels or nothing, so nothing was what she chose to show off for Castle.

But he wasn't here.

The disappointment surprised her since she knew he wouldn't be, but she'd built her hopes up so high even in the locker room, that she'd almost forgotten. Maybe that was why she was insecure. He wasn't here to make unprofessional remarks about how she looked.

And she missed it.

Idiot.

Kate went into 'Beckett' mode to get herself and the boys back into the game. They went over the particulars of what they were trying to accomplish, and how they were going to achieve it.

"We've got to get Wyndham's prints," Colin said.

"I'm surprised you weren't able to get them from Scotland Yard," Ryan mentioned.

"Wyndham's got connections there, apparently," Colin replied.

"So now, we've got to make our own connections," said Beckett. "Let's head on out."

XXXXXX

The two detectives strode into the party like they belonged there. Hunt grabbed two flutes of champagne from a passing waiter and handed one to Beckett, who didn't even pretend she didn't need to calm her nerves. Why was she so nervous? She's a cop, she's done undercover before, what's changed?

One word – Castle.

Kate should be arm in arm with him. Damn, they really needed that conversation.

"Thank you," she smiled at Colin as she took a sip.

The two made small talk for a few minutes while they mingled; eyes open for their quarry.

"So who is Sir Alfred Heath?" Kate asked.

"Tonight, I am," Colin answered. "The lads back home said the real Sir Alfred is down as a no-show. Gout or some damned thing."

"Yeah, but what if Nigel Wyndham doesn't show, either?"

"He'll be here. And I expect he'll skip the champagne and drink something posh and pretentious and leave his print on the glass." Colin took a sip of his own.

Beckett continued to scan the room, smiling at those who caught her eye.

"What if he doesn't drink?" she asked.

Hunt snorted. "He's British. Trust me, he drinks."

Soft piano music began playing and much to Kate's surprise, Colin took Kate by the hand.

"May I?" he asked, leading her to the dance floor.

"I didn't realize that dancing was part of the plan," she mumbled.

Twirling her under his arm Colin replied, "Oh...well... It offers the perfect vantage point."

"Hmmm..."

Kate was flooded with memories of another undercover dance as she and Colin circled the room. She never had told Castle where she'd hidden her badge, had she?

'Damn' she thought again. She should be doing this with Castle.

Trying to take her mind off the could've, should've, and would've's, Kate asked, "Do you come to a lot of these events?"

"No, thank God," Colin answered. "Why?"

"You just seem very … confident."

"Ah. Well, that's because my companion is the most beautiful woman in this room."

Colin took them for another twirl. Kate raised her eyebrow.

"That's clearly the champagne talking," she replied sardonically. "I'm sure you're just comfortable here because you're amongst your own people."

The inspector snorted again. "These aren't my people. My people are the ones carrying the trays."

Beckett's eyebrow was getting quite the workout tonight. This time it rose in surprise.

"I grew up in the East End," Colin continued. "My mum cleaned flats; Dad worked in a factory. They wanted something better, they just – couldn't quite get it."

For all Kate wished she was doing this with Castle, she was interested in what Colin had to say.

"And then?" she asked.

"I was admitted to Eton on scholarship where I minored in blending in. What about you?"

Interesting or not, Hunt didn't need her whole story.

"I grew up in the city and went to college in California."

"Well, you could obviously do anything you put your mind to. Why be a cop?"

'Stop pushing, Detective Inspector.'

Never mind that he was sharing, this was too personal.

"I guess it was just my calling," she evaded.

"Ah… crusader. I know the type. It doesn't leave a lot of time for personal life though, does it?"

He spun her around the dance floor again.

'Time to turn the tables a little,' Kate thought.

"What about you? Are you the crusader type as well?"

"Married to the Bill, I'm afraid. The job comes first. Sometimes I wish it didn't."

Kate pondered that for a moment.

"Yeah. I know the feeling."

They continued dancing and searching the room. Then Kate spotted Wyndham.

"Wait a minute," she whispered. "Look over there by the bar. My 1 o'clock."

Wyndham was speaking with a man who had his back to the two cops, an arm around the waist of a red-headed young woman.

Why did that back look familiar?

Inspector Hunt didn't seem to have that same recognition. All he said was, "Let the games begin," and ended the dance so Kate could move toward the Deputy General.

Kate was rehearsing how she would cut in on the conversation when the young redhead turned slightly.

Kate stopped in her tracks. A waiter passed by with a tray of champagne and offered her a glass. She took it and downed it like a shot. She recognized the man's back now, and only just stopped herself from blurting out his name.

'Castle?'

XXXXXX

A/N 2: What do you think? I know you guys all want the 'talk', and we WILL get there, I promise. :)