"Agent Beckett, I trust that you have handled your personal problems and are ready to do your job without any distractions?"

"With all due respect Sir, my personal life isn't a problem and I resent your insinuation that it has affected my ability to do my job." Kate answers, back ramrod straight, eyes locked on her prey.

"But it has Beckett. Agent Stack gave glowing accounts of your tenacity and drive to solve cases when he recommended you for this position. However, I have failed to see that in the last few months. I am guessing it has a lot to do with Rick Castle, your fiancé. Agent McCord has repeatedly mentioned how distracted you are when he is in the city."

"Rick is my fiancé, but he has never once interfered with my ability to do this job or the previous one. He knows how to be professional and he knows what is at stake. He would never jeopardize my career or my safety. So I have no idea how this even applies to this conversation." Kate can barely contain the rage that is boiling beneath the surface.

"I beg to differ, his public persona and the fact that everyone knows that you were the inspiration for a series of novels has been nothing but one huge distraction for this office since you arrived."

"Sir, I have done everything that has been asked of me since coming to DC and find it insulting that you are questioning my professionalism, my abilities and my fiancé's integrity. With that said Sir, I have realized that this job is an amazing opportunity and a dream job..."

"A dream job for someone who wants to be married to their career, to have no time for the people who should matter most and for someone who doesn't care about bringing justice to the victims and their families." She thunders on so there is no mistaking where this conversation is going.

"I have numerous regrets about taking this position many of which are none of your business. The one that is totally job related is that I'm a cop, a very good homicide cop, who likes providing closure to families who have lost a loved one. I'm not built for dealing with the moral ambiguity and the gray areas of DC politics. And to that end, I am formally tendering my resignation from my position here at the Attorney General's office effective immediately so that I can have a life and go back to doing a job that I love and can be proud of." Kate emphasizes her point by placing her badge on her supervisor's desk before turning to stride from his office.

Before she can make a clean exit, Villante calls out to her. "Agent Beckett, you need to turn in your sidearm at this time as well. You will need to pack your belongings within the hour. I will have Agent McCord escort you from the building. McCord will pick you up at said residence at 7AM tomorrow morning to bring you back into the facility for your exit interview. At that time, you will relinquish your agency credentials and all other company property, including the keys to your residence, cell phone and laptop. That will be all, Beckett."

Kate closes the door to Villante's office and strides over to her desk and grabs her bag. Marching quickly toward the elevator she catches sight of McCord looking up from her desk as she sends a questioning glance at Kate. Kate squares her shoulders and tilts her head from side to side trying to dispel the tension in her neck from her confrontation with her superior. She pauses just as the elevator doors open and looks back at McCord. Rachael looks like she is getting ready to speak, but thinks better of it and goes back to the paperwork lying on her desk. It's just as well; Kate is in no mood for idle conversation right now. And at this point, she could care less what Rachael has to say about her leaving. She is pretty sure she will hear all about it tomorrow when she arrives to pick Kate up in the morning.

Kate pulls her phone out of her bag and sends a quick text off to Castle.

KB: It's done

RC: Everything ok

KB: Better than ok

RC: Good

KB: C U Soon, ILY


Kate steps inside her apartment and catches site of Rick bending down looking into the oven. She smirks to herself as she pauses and admires the view. He has uncorked a bottle of her favorite red wine. Kate quietly closes the door and drops her bag on the floor; announcing her arrival. Rick turns and throws a grin her way as he reaches for the wine and pours her a glass and hands it to her.

"So, how was your day?" he smiles knowingly and quirks an eyebrow at her.

Kate tries not to spit out her wine at his wiggling eyebrow. "Oh, the usual," she pauses and shrugs her shoulders noncommittally, "chasing down bad guys and watching them walk away unscathed. But for extra entertainment, I stopped by Villante's office and gave him a piece of my mind. He tried to place blame on you for my lack of performance. But I defended you. And us. In the end, it doesn't matter what he thinks of me. I feel good about my decision and I refuse to look back on this part of my career and have any regrets. If I had not pursued this job, I would have always wondered what it might have been like to work for the AG. Now I know."

"That you do," Rick concurs as he takes her glass from her hand and puts it on the counter to draw her in for a long, slow kiss. Kate snakes her arms around his waist and pulls back from the kiss and lays her head against his chest on a sigh as the day's tension leaves her.

"So," Rick begins, as he pulls her chin up to look at him, "what are your plans for the evening?"

Kate takes stock around her apartment and takes in the empty boxes and packing tape. Pulling away from his embrace she picks up her glass of wine off the counter and grabs his hand and leads him into her small living room. "I don't know about you, but I say, we finish off this bottle of wine and start putting these boxes to good use."

"Oh, I like your train of thought, Agent, I mean, Detective Beckett," Rick states as he takes in the dishevel of her living room. "I don't know, Kate, I sort of like what you've done so far. I mean, who would have thought the site of packing tape and boxes could bring out the decorator in you," he teases.

For the second time tonight, Kate nearly spits out her wine while trying to hold back a laugh.

Kate is wrapping up her exit interview when she feels her phone vibrate in her pocket. She suspects it's Rick. She kissed him good-bye just over five hours ago before she climbed into Agent McCord's vehicle who had arrived to escort her into the office and he had climbed into the rented SUV to take the boxes from her DC apartment back to New York.

"Agent Beckett, do you have anything more to add?" inquires Agent Moore as he gathers up his papers signaling the end of their interview.

"No, Sir, I don't," Kate replies.

"Very well, Agent, if you would just turn over the items Agent Villante mentioned to you yesterday, you may leave when you are through."

Kate exits the office without anything further from her former co-workers. A few of them catch her in the hallway on her way out and wish her well. Pulling out her cell, she swipes her screen and sees it's a text from Rick. Opening the text, she takes in the picture attached. It looks like a closet. She's not sure, but there are a few of Rick's clothes hanging up inside. Kate takes it to mean he must have made it home. She fires off a text.

KB: Make it home ok?

RC: Yes, how was your interview?

KB: Just finished, glad it's over

RC: Me 2, when r u leaving?

KB: heading to airport soon

RC: text me before u takeoff

KB: u no I will

RC: k, C U soon

Two hours later as Kate is turning her phone back on after disembarking she receives a text.

RC: cant wait til your home

With a grin that she just can't wipe off her face because she IS finally home, for good this time, she replies. She got lucky and got on an earlier flight as a standby so she could surprise her fiancé.

KB: which one

RC: Ours?

Just about the time she is about to fire off another text asking if he means the loft or her place she receives a text containing only a picture of the outside of her building. Momentarily caught off guard with what this picture implies she just stands there stunned.

RC: Kate?

The tone for another incoming text jars her from her thoughts and she decides she should text him back so his overactive imagination doesn't run off the rails.

KB: B home soon

Knowing where he is now will make her surprise easier to carry out. With her goofy grin still intact, she makes her way out of the airport to hail the cab that will take her home, to him.

Forty minutes later, Kate's taxi makes the turn onto her street. Her excitement is building at the prospect of finally being home and starting her new life with Rick. As Kate exits the cab, she bumps into a man who must be waiting to take her spot in the taxi. When she raises her head up to make her apologies about running into the stranger, he speaks.



" I was just on my way to the airport to meet you. How are you here already?" He stumbles over his words at the appearance of his future wife.

"I got on an earlier flight, standby. Wanted to surprise you?" She says with a sheepish grin on her face.

"I do love a surprise," he laughs and sweeps her into his arms for a much overdue welcome home kiss. "I'm so glad you're home."

"Were you serious? You want this to be our home, not the loft?" She asks hesitantly.

Entering her apartment he says "let me show you something." Leading her through the living area to the bedroom. "Does this look serious to you?" He makes a sweeping motion to the few new additions to the space. "I brought a few things from the loft to make this space ours. Hope you don't mind."

"Where did this come from? I don't remember seeing this at the loft." She says taking note of a new piece of artwork adorning the wall, containing an assortment of seashells that look vaguely familiar to her.

"Oh, that. That's made from the shells that we collected that first time you came to the Hamptons with me. I just thought, well, that these were from back when we were just starting out with the being a couple thing and I thought it would be an appropriate gesture to have it symbolize our future." He turns to see her reaction to what he said and sees a beaming smile on Kate's face.

"Castle," is all she says before he is met with a heart stopping kiss that is closely followed by a bone crushing hug from his fiancée.

"I'm guessing by that response, that you really like the shells?" He huffs a laugh as he steps back to look her in the eye. "That was one hell of a hug...not to mention that kiss. Damn woman, for a tiny thing you about squeezed the life out me."

"Don't be such a baby Castle! And...I love our shells. I had no idea you even kept them." Beckett says as she skims her fingers over this new memento of their life together.

"Seriously though, my home is anywhere that you are, Kate. Besides, the loft is a little overcrowded and we would get absolutely NO privacy. And I have a feeling we are going to need a lot of privacy." He chuckles while giving her his patented eyebrow waggle.

"And what might we do with all of this new found privacy and togetherness? You have a few ideas about that do ya?" She teases as she slips out of her blazer and heels, her eyes never leaving his.

"Oh, you know me, I'm always full of ideas, especially when it involves alone time with my favorite detective." He sighs with a dreamy look in his eyes. "But right now, I'm more interested in what you have in mind."

"Well... I was thinking that I could really use a nice, hot bath. I have really missed that old tub." She says nodding her head to the adjoining bathroom.

"Okay, so, I'll just go start on dinner while you relax in the tub. You want a glass of wine while you're in there?" He says as he starts toward the kitchen.

"Or, you could grab the bottle, a couple glasses and join me?" She calls out to him, stopping him in his tracks.

"I'll grab the wine, be right back." He shouts as he hustles into the kitchen to get the requested items so he can wrap himself around her in their tub.

After being in the tub for the fifteen minutes, Rick finally speaks. "So, Beckett. Did you talk to Gates today? Tell her about resigning?"

"Yeah, I called her on my way to the airport after I left the AG's office." After taking a sip from her half full wine glass she continues, "I told her that I would like to take her up on the offer to return to the 12th."

"When did she say you could start?" He asks, truly curious as to how soon Gates intends for her to return.

"She told me I was welcome back whenever I was ready...tomorrow if I want." She says wondering how he will react to her next statement.

"That soon, wow. I thought there would be some kind of bureaucratic red tape she would have to go through to get you reinstated." He said a little disappointed that she would be going in the next day.

"There was, but she got the ball rolling on that right after I talked to her last week about the possibility of returning to the 12th. But... I told her I needed a little time to get my mind around being back at the 12th. That I want to be the one to tell the guys and Lanie that I am coming back before just showing up at a crime scene. She said she would just tell the boys that a new detective would be starting in a couple weeks and they would need to be prepared to show the 'new guy' the ropes."

"Yeah, I guess that would be a good idea, they have really missed you...not as much as me, but a lot. Would be kinda funny though if you showed up unannounced in two weeks just to see the look on their faces!" He laughed.

"I also told her that I was going to take a vacation." She smirks as she shifts in the tub to look at him. "I was thinking of sweet talking a rich, handsome man I know to take me to away for a little bit. Maybe celebrate an engagement and a homecoming?"

"I know a guy who could help you out with that." He winks and kisses her cheek. "Where do you wanna go?"

"I'm up for anywhere as long as it's somewhere with you." She says.

"You know me, I'm always up for anything...especially where you are involved." He whispers in her ear before trailing kisses down her neck.

"I can see that!" She giggles.

"I think it's time to get out of this tub. I have celebratory plans for you before we decide where to go on vacation." He mumbles as they wrap fluffy towels around themselves and return to the bedroom.

"Do these plans involve clothes or not?" She asks before making her way to her side of the bed. "Cause I'm suddenly feeling like I need to crawl into bed for awhile."

"Clothes are totally optional and dinner can wait. We might need to work up an appetite first." He says as he pulls back the covers and settles into his side of their bed.

"You know I'm always hungry after a good work out." She growls as she slides over to his side of the bed for a kiss, knowing it will lead to far more.

"Have I told you how glad I am that you are finally home?" He sighs as she kisses down his chest.

"Yeah, I was kinda hoping you would stop telling and show me how happy you are." She mutters before going back to her task of covering his broad chest with open mouth kisses.

A/N: As this story draws to a close, we would like to take a moment to thank all of those who have stayed with us and for all of the wonderful reviews, they mean so much to us.

Until next time!