My first one-shot! For those of you waiting of FTR, I hope you'll forgive me for doing the following instead. It's something I started this week while at work, and finished tonight (or this morning?). I wasn't cheating my employer! Just there way too early and through lunches while my hubby's been working too many hours! (We carpool.) FTR was at home on the personal, I'm working on it! I promise!

Summary: Kate's progressed in therapy and has finally decided that A) she needs answers, and B) to get them, she's going to have to be completely honest with Castle.

"I blamed you."

Castle turned on the couch to look at Kate, silently questioning her statement. She had placed her carton of Chinese on her coffee table and turned to face him.

"I blamed you. You were there. And I blamed you."

Montgomery. Finally, she had dropped all measure of pretense.

"I didn't call 'cause it hurt to look at you. To think of you. I couldn't pick up your books. And I wondered how you were doing, but I didn't want to know. And I know I hurt you. Not calling. And I'm sorry, Castle. I truly am."


She shook her head "no."

"No. No. I've forgiven you—you need to know that. It took a while. But I'm at a point now…in my therapy…I need to know. Why, Castle? If you loved me—like you said you loved me, why did you do it? I asked you; I begged you to leave it alone."

She knew she was admitting she heard him.

Castle didn't know what to address first, her plea or her lie. He put his face in his hands and ran them roughshod over his face. His eyes were burning. He couldn't look at her. Everything about that fight, about that night, coiled within him. He stood and turned on her.

"What the hell was I supposed to do, Kate? Just let you die? You were running headlong into something you couldn't see."

She wasn't going to argue with him. She needed answers and he had a right to be mad.

"Your father came to me. Begged me to make you stop. Didn't want to lose you to the same bastards that took away his wife."

He could see her eyes were pricked with tears. Apparently, she didn't know that.

"And, my God! You act like I knew what Montgomery was planning. Hell, if I'd known he was using you as bait, I'd have shot him myself. You wouldn't have been anywhere near that hangar. I wouldn't have been anywhere near that hangar."


"No, Kate. You wanted answers. I'm giving you answers! Well—there's really just one answer. I loved you, Kate. And you wanted me to just walk away?"

Loved. Past tense. That stung, but she wasn't crawling away yet.

"Hate to tell you this, honey—" She'd never heard a term of endearment so filled with acrimony. "But runnin' ain't so easy for everyone."

"You think that it was easy for me? Walking away?"

"I think it's what you do best! That and lying. Or denying. One look at something real and you go running in the other direction."

"I'm not running now."

It was true. She was on the edge of her seat. She'd fought to stay there, stay down, remain non-confrontational.

"And you're not doing much to make me want to stay."

"I want you to stay. Does that help?"

"You got your answers. I want mine."

"Do you want to sit?"

Castle shook his head no, so Kate moved to stand in front of him. Part of her wished she had her power heels on. She'd feel more confident then. But she didn't want confident. She wanted honest. And so did Rick. He deserved it. He was right. She'd run. Lied and denied.

"I felt like I'd lost everything. I'd nearly lost my life. Montgomery. Any chance I had of catching my mom's killers. My dad's trust. Yours. My effectiveness. My confidence. Maybe my job." She paused, looking up at him. "You."

She wanted to touch him, but refrained.

"I was so happy to see you when you came in, but I was so mad at you, too, Castle. And I didn't know what to do with it. Seeing you…all I could think was about our fight and you dragging me from that hangar. I wanted to stay. To fight with him. It wasn't right that he had to die alone. For me. Another someone lost to my mom's case."

"And then, when I was shot, I thought, at first, it would be okay…'cause then it'd all be over. No one would have to lose anyone else to this. Alexis would never have to worry about losing you. You could move on."

"It…I…" Kate stopped and wiped away the tears slipping down her cheeks. "I loved you, too, Castle, but I didn't know how to abide with someone who'd risk so much for me, someone I couldn't stand to lose and someone I was so completely angry with."

"I didn't think about asking you not to come—or saying I'd call you. It's just what came out. I didn't plan it, but I won't lie and tell you I wasn't relieved when you agreed. I needed some time. And I honestly thought you'd cave, that you'd be back. I mean, when have you ever listened to me?" Kate scoffed weakly.

"Then I had time. Lots of time. And I thought about everything you'd done, everything I'd done. And I couldn't come up with a single thing I'd have done differently…or that you weren't right about. And that pissed me off even more."

"Why? Didn't you think about me at all? How I must be feeling?" Rick asked, more hurt than anger coming through now. "My best friend shot? Not only that, but I tell her I love her and she falls off the face of the earth."

"I did. About how stupid you were to jump in front of a bullet for me, to follow me, to fall in love. With me. And I thought about how angry and hurt you must have been, but I thought it would be better if I stayed away. You'd heal and you wouldn't be at risk and Alexis and Martha wouldn't have to worry. I wouldn't have to worry. It was easier to cut you out and pretend."

"So you're telling me you weren't just saving face? That you stayed away because you cared about me?" Rick stepped away from her, toward the door. "I'm sorry, but I don't buy it, Kate. And frankly, it's a helluva lot easier to believe that you simply didn't appreciate—or reciprocate—the same sentiments."

"I did. I do, Rick. I'm here being completely honest with you. I care about you. More than you'd believe right now. But, I'm not saying it was just that. I was mad. A deep-seated anger. Not just at you, but I blamed you. For so many things. For turning my life upside-down. For calling me out on my pseudo-relationships. For seeing the cracks that no one else could see. For pushing when it mattered and not pushing when it could have."

"I didn't know how to move past that. I was—am—incredibly selfish. I was the one who'd been shot. I was the one without a mother, without a captain. Without a lead. I was the one who had the right to be angry and decide not call and to stay away. Before I came back, I had no idea that your anger matched my own."

Kate paused. "Wait. That's not quite true. I think your hurt matched my anger. And that's worse because I did that to you. And I could have prevented it. I could have stopped it, but I was just...just—"

"Too angry?"

"I'm not trying to be trite, Castle."

"Sorry, keep going. The honesty is refreshing. Later, I want to know what's brought it on."

"Therapy and—well…later." Kate moved back to the couch, and, thankfully, this time, Rick followed.

She'd lost her flow. She didn't really know what else to say.

"I didn't know how to come back, but a bigger part of me thought it would be better to stay away. If someone took a shot at me then, he more than likely still wants me dead. And I don't want you in the way of that. I don't want to lose you, Rick. Especially not to this. I couldn't handle it. Like I said, I'm selfish."

"I don't want to lose you either, Kate. Not to this. Not to anything."

She'd been talking non-stop for the last ten minutes, but now the air was punctuated with silence and unasked questions, and the atmosphere was ripe for answers.

At length, Rick finally asked, "Would you have come back if it weren't for the files?"

"I don't know."

His head bobbed, but he didn't like the answer.

"It hurt to see you—"

"Tell me about it."

"And I wasn't convinced it wouldn't be better for each of us to stay away."

"And now?"

"I'm convinced we can't, and that it's better that way."

Castle was surprised. At another time, he might have jumped up and down at that admission. "I want to hope, Kate, but don't want to misinterpret what you're saying."

"You're my hope, Castle," Kate said quietly. "If you give it up, I don't know where either of us will be."

"Is it always going to be just wishing for something?" he held her eyes this time, willing her not to look away.

"I hope not."

"What do you want, Kate?"

"Just you, Castle. Your forgiveness." Kate looked away, behind the couch, out the window. This was the moment that would decide whether he walked away. She could crawl to her room, her bed, if she had to. Hell, it was her couch. She could stay there and never move again.

"You've got it."

"And you?" she asked, so very, very quietly.

Castle reached out with a palm to the side of her face, turning her to meet him.

"You have me, Kate. Always have, always will."

"We're not broken?"

"Do you feel broken?"

Kate thought for a moment. He was still sitting there. The truth was she felt more together than she ever had, but like there was more to her. More to break.


"Me, too. But I love you. You love me." Wait. She had said a lot, but she hadn't said that. "You love me, don't you?"

Kate scooted closer to him and kissed his cheek. "I do. I love you. I blame you for that, too." She pressed another kiss to his lips.

"Then, we'll figure this out. We're good at figuring things out." Rick murmured over her lips.

"Together." Kate got the final word, but was happy to give them up for this. For him. Their emotional expose was reaching newly sensual, but equally passionate heights in the same place it started. It was more than she dared hope for, but Rick never failed to surprise her.

For the record, this is not at how I think this conversation will go down. This is just my take on Kate initiating the conversation as part of her own healing…and by extension his and theirs. In the show, I think Kate will either not address it directly and come back later with an explanation OR she'll be more heated and all "I was right" in her excuses.

Maybe the glimpse at Castle's anger are accurate to what I think he'll be like on the show. I'm glad in this piece he's angry with her and digs at her a bit. Does that make me mean? I didn't want him to give in too easily (like in the season opener), but also wanted a one-shot with a happy ending.

I'd love to know what you think. Obviously, different for me! Cheers!