A/N I haven't stopped working on "Plausible deniability". Lots of extra hours at work and a plot issue. I hope you like this in the meantime. This episode always bothered me, so I tried to fix it. I'd love to hear what you think of my solution.

Castle and Beckett were informed by Agent Stack that the Attorney General and the President offered their thanks for helping to solve this case. Castle smirked and said, 'Can I put that on the dustjacket of my next book?'

Stack looked at Castle, the way a professor would look at a student, and said, 'This never happened Mr. Castle, do you understand me?'

Castle thought to himself that he hated this man even more than he did a few minutes ago, when Special Agent Stack was staring at Beckett while she interrogated the suspect. It was part of his job, but still, something felt off. He was used meeting men that stared at her, but this was different, more insidious.

Castle replied, 'Yes I understood you.'

Stack turned to Beckett and asked, 'May I have a word with you in private Detective Beckett?'

'Of course, right this way.' Kate led him to an empty room.

Stack immediately launched his sales pitch.'I worked homicide in Chicago until some guy tapped me on the shoulder. Today I'm that guy. I think you are exceptional. You're smart. You're strong. You're an asymmetrical thinker. I see bigger things for you.'

'Who says I want bigger things?'

'Practically everything about you screams it. There is a job opening in DC.'

'What job?'

'A job reporting directly to the Attorney General. We would work on the cases that literally will change history. You would have the opportunity to defend your country.'

She looked out of the window at the bullpen. Her eyes sought out Esposito, Ryan and then Castle. She did want bigger things, but what she had was pretty special too. Her eyes returned to Agent Stack. He must have sensed her interest, and her hesitation. He wanted to close the deal.

'Come to DC and find out?' He thinks that he has her where he wanted her. What person wouldn't be affected by this well-crafted salesmanship? He smugly reached into his pocket, took out a card and handed it to Beckett.

'I'll take your card and think about it.'

Stack and Beckett walked out of the room together. He headed for the elevator. She went directly to Castle.

Esposito, Ryan, and almost every officer on the floor, stared at Beckett. They may not have known exactly what had just happened, but they all knew it was something very significant. They knew enough about Agent Stack to know that he worked on cases that they would never be allowed to be involved in.

Kate didn't notice any of that. Her attention was on her partner. She wasn't sure yet how seriously she was considering this opportunity, but she was extremely flattered to have been asked.

She said, 'Castle, there is something that I need to tell you.'

His look was not that of a relaxed, or happy man. He looked directly into her eyes and asked, 'Kate, why do I feel that you are not about to tell me that you love me?'

'Because I'm not … I do love you, but that isn't what this conversation is about. I was just offered a chance to interview for a position on the Attorney Generals' team. Unfortunately, the job would be in DC.'

He had so many expressions simultaneously that it was impossible to pick the dominant one. He was proud of her, worried about what this would mean and relieved that she had decided to come directly to him with this news. Her history hadn't been very good when it came to being open and honest about heavy emotional things. And that was sugar coating it, in fact, it had been terrible. The phrase, 'It's my life.' suddenly invaded his thoughts. He lacked information. Stack had made an offer for an interview, now what? Did she want to go to DC and explore her options? She hadn't said that yet. That certainly would be reasonable. He had always loved to look into her eyes, at this moment he may have been looking at them, but he wasn't seeing them. Kate somehow picked up on that.

'We will talk about this, in detail, once we get home. Please tell me that you understand that this is our decision.' Her voice was almost pleading. She did indeed understand the gravity of the situation. She may have been offered an intriguing opportunity, but she has something precious she could lose too.

Castle's face brightened. There isn't anything that she could have said at that moment that would have lifted his heart, and spirits, any higher.

'Do you want to go to your apartment or the loft?' Castle was an odd mix of confidence and tentativeness.

'Can we stay at the loft tonight? Maybe order some Chinese, and talk. I mean really talk.' Kate almost couldn't believe the words that came from her mouth. She was going to let someone else be a real participant in a life changing decision — she had never even come close to that before.

There was something different in her tone. This was the Kate that told him she loved him last month while standing on that bomb. This wasn't the Kate that had questioned if he had started taking her for granted the week before. And any trace of their recent argument about Vaughn was nowhere to be found. They had moved beyond that. She had apologized for her swooning, and her insensitivity for Castle's feelings. She even admitted that she flirted. He had made it clear that he accepted her explanation, that Vaughn had tried to kiss her and she pushed him away. He trusted that she never would have cheated on him.

As they walked into the loft he looked around for his mother or Alexis. Neither was supposed to be home tonight, but he wanted to make sure. This was going to be one of the most important conversations of their lives, for many reasons. Not finding anyone at home he said, 'The food should be here in about 15 minutes, do you want to talk now or wait until after we've eaten?'

She said, 'let's start now, we have.' She froze in the middle of her sentence. She almost said that THEY had delayed important conversations, which was clearly untrue. She had to choose her words more carefully.

She quickly realized what she had said and changed it to, 'I have always found a reason hide and delay important conversations, no more. I want to reiterate what I said at the station, this is our decision Castle, you are not only my partner at the Twelfth, but my partner in life.'

Castle instantly became ebullient. He had known for about a month, longer really, that she loved him. That didn't necessarily mean that she envisioned the same type of relationship that he did. This seemed to be a pretty compelling piece of evidence that she did. 'Partners in life.' That one phrase had Castle's head spinning.

His elation was dampened when she turned and started walking towards the door. The panic was evident in his voice when he said, 'Why are you leaving, I thought we were going to talk about this?'

She turned, smiled and said, 'I'm not leaving Castle, I'm going into your office to get some paper so that we can do a pros and cons list about our decision.'

It was just at that moment that there was a knock on the door. That gave him a much- needed respite from his embarrassment over having jumped the gun. Castle opened the door, paid and then carried the food to the table.

Kate was already in the cabinets getting plates and utensils. She then asked if she could choose the wine.

He brought his finger up to his chin as if he was considering it. Then said, 'Maybe I should wait until you tell me more about your, sorry, I mean our, decision, before I waste my best wine on you.' His remarks had no bite, but they were not supposed to.

She smiled and gave a small laugh. His sarcasm had the desired effect, it lowered both anxiety levels — a little. As well as things seemed to be going, both realized that the 500- pound gorilla in the room had been avoided thus far. There was still plenty of tension, it almost felt physically real, as if it was dripping from the walls and sticking to them.

After they had filled their plates, Kate took three pieces of paper and wrote: Reasons for Kate to interview for the Job, Reasons for Kate to decline the interview. And finally, 'How to remain 'Caskett' if Kate wants to go to DC'?

When Castle saw what she had written he burst into laughter. Yes, it was partly cathartic, but he genuinely enjoyed that she not only remembered, but used, the silly nickname that he had come up with in the Hamptons.

'Come on, Castle. Let's get started.'

Kate uncapped her pen, looked at Castle, and said, 'Why don't we start with the reasons to take the job, that one should be short and uncomplicated?'

He nodded his agreement, even giving her a smile. He was still confused by his own feelings. Could this be the end of the relationship? It certainly was the end of it as he knew it? If she moved to DC that wouldn't necessarily mean the end of the romantic relationship, but it did mean the end of spending 12 hours a day with her as her partner. Maybe this new dynamic is a signal that we are really moving forward, together. Together sounded funny to his own ears. They would spend so much less time together than before, was that really moving forward? What job could be more fulfilling than spending your days with the person you love?

For the first time tonight he was slightly angry. He was a firm believer in the maxim, 'The secret is to find a job that feels like play.' He had that now, her job would change that, taking it away from him.

Almost at the perfect moment she broke his concentration by putting her hand on his shoulder. Her timing was perfect. He was about to become agitated, but her touch soothed his rising ire.

The first page was titled: REASONS FOR KATE TO INTERVIEW FOR THE JOB:

I would have a chance to make a difference on a national, or even international level.

I would get to meet, and maybe influence, some of the people that make decisions that shape our lives.

More money.

Travel as a part of my job.

More opportunities for career advancement than in NYC.

The second page was titled: REASONS FOR KATE TO DECLINE THE INTERVIEW:

My family and friends are here.

I do love my job.

I get to lead a team of great friends.

I have a large degree of control as to how I investigate my cases.

I get to work with my best friend, the man that I love, every day.

Kate stopped writing and put down the paper.

Castle looked despondent, 'Aren't we even going to make a list of ways to make Caskett work in DC?'

'No, Castle, we are not.'

'I can't believe that you don't even want to consider that we could make it work.'

Kate smiled at him, grabbed him by the collar and pulled him into a rather aggressive kiss, a kiss that was very different from any of the others they had shared.

'We are not going to make that list because we don't need it.'

He needed clarification. His mind was clouded, not only by a toe curling kiss, but the growing fear that it might have been a goodbye kiss.

She playfully slapped his cheek. 'Hey, snap out of it! We don't need it because I'm not going to take the interview. Why I would do anything that would make me give up spending my days, and my life, with you?'

He got up and walked into his office. She watched his back with some irritated amusement. How could he have just left after what I said to him?

Upon his return, Castle took her hand in his. He proceeded to get down on one knee. He produced a rather stunning three-and-a half carat ring from his coat pocket.

'You know, Kate, I bought this with the idea of trying to show you that I wasn't taking you for granted, but that would have been the wrong reason to give it to you. One doesn't ask a woman to marry him because they had a fight.' He smiled and said, 'There would be weddings all the time, followed quickly by divorces.'

'I agree, babe.'

'Then for the last few hours I've been considering a proposal to try and secure our relationship if you had gone to DC, but again, that would have been the right thing for the wrong reason.'

She seemed confused by the appearance of a ring, followed by a list of reasons that he shouldn't propose.

'Katherine Houghton Beckett.' He held out the ring to her. She covered her face with . both hands and gasped.

'What you just did is definitely the right reason for me to ask you this question:

'Will you marry me?'

A/N This is the end. You don't need me to tell you what she said!

Thanks to Sonic Messiah.