Inspired by the prompt on CastleFanFicPrompts: Any fic (possibly a one-shot) hazarding an explanation why Beckett's wearing her engagement ring all the time now (season 7)?. A one shot at the end of 7x03 after Castle and Beckett finally get to font. Because let's be real, it was much needed.

I own nothing, except the words below. All credit belongs to Andrew Marlowe and company for the wonderful show and characters they have provided. Thanks for taking the time to read and review, feedback is always much appreciated.

"I can feel you staring, Castle."

Kate Beckett opened her eyes, blinking until her eyes focused even in the shadows. Castle's blue eyes were shining lovingly even in the darkness. The light from outside their window brought his face into subtle light, his handsome features relaxed. He was sitting up, leaning back on his hands, the picture of complete ease. His hair was deliciously rumpled from her fingers and sleep, both of them succumbing to the pull of sleep after three glorious rounds of sex.

They'd barely tumbled into the bedroom, clothes flying haphazardly, before he'd pinned her between the bookshelf and the hard steel of his body, his tongue thrusting into her mouth as he slid into her effortlessly. Two months trying to remember the feel of him was nothing compared to having Castle inside her. His thrusts were quick and hard, need for her too great to hold back. Kate moved against him with familiarity, her body so in tune with his. She cried his name as she came hard around him, the sheer feeling of him overwhelming Beckett. He quickly followed, "I love you, Kate," tumbling like a prayer from him as he spilled inside her, raining kisses on any exposed skin he could reach.

The second time was slower, both of them stretching out on their exquisite bed, their kisses languid and exploratory. He tasted like coffee and mint, drawing a dark moan from Kate as he tugged her bottom lip into his mouth, biting gently on the tender flesh. She pushed away from him long enough to ask Castle to let her show him how much she missed him. He had grinned wolfishly at her before nodding vigorously.

Beckett took her time re-tracing every inch of him, as though trying to memorize him all over again. The tight muscles of his arms. The sharp jut of his hips, and the way he jumped as she trailed her lips over his thighs. His fingers, long and dexterous as they palmed her breasts, his thumb flicking her hardened nipples. She moaned deeply as he dug those wonderful fingers into her hips as he moved within her, his kiss as slow and sensual as his thrusts. She broke apart under him as his hands found hers in the dark, gripping her fingers tightly within his own as she bucked against him, drawing him deeper inside her. He growled her name against her throat as he buried himself inside her, her release triggering his own. She'd traced the shell of his ear with her tongue, her voice shaking as she whispered "welcome home, babe."

Sleep had come easy at that point, Beckett murmuring that she had no idea how she would be able to walk tomorrow. Castle woke her up a few hours later, his tongue trailing between her breasts, promises of giving her a reason to blow off work echoing around the room before he slid beneath the sheets. He lavished her, tongue and fingers deliciously tormenting her. As he brought her dangerously close to the edge, Castle climbed over her, sliding between her hips, his voice sharp as he told her to open her eyes. As soon as he slid inside her, Castle's dark cerulean eyes holding her own hooded gaze, Beckett fell over the precipice, Castle's gentle murmurings of "I've got you, Kate. I've got you," drawing out her pleasure. He rolled her over as she came back to him, biting gently on her shoulder as he thrust deeply, losing himself in Kate. She sucked his thumb into her mouth, twirling her tongue around the digit, humming as Castle's deep groan of pleasure reverberated off the walls as his release shuddered through him.

Now, wide awake and alert, Kate move into him, her body molding into his side as earlier passion giving way to well-earned intimacy. Beckett trailed her lips over his shoulder and bicep, reveling in the nearness of Castle. God how she had missed him. His presence, his smile, the feel of his lips against her skin. His stupid jokes that always made her laugh. Just him. His fingers skimmed over her tone abs, chuckling slightly as she moaned softly, insatiable for him. He finally whispered as he pressed a tender kiss to her cheek

"You don't ever take it off now."

Clouded by desire, Kate stared blankly up at him, raising her eyebrows in confusion. Castle shrugged slightly as he raised her left hand, kissing her knuckle right below engagement ring, the simple gesture a silent question. Beckett moved to sit up, her fingers tracing over the strong planes of his chest. She glanced down at the still healing pucker mark where the bullet had grazed him, her eyes clouded over with pain at Castle being hurt. Rick brought her back to him, squeezing her hand gently. Taking a deep breath, Beckett opened her mouth to answer but her fiancé cut her off, Castle eyes narrowing as he linked their fingers together.

"Not that I mind, because I love it. But…what happened to not wearing your ring at work?"

She stared at him, shivering slightly under his intense gaze. As if he could speak to her soul with just a look. The silence reigned for a minute, both lost in memories of months separated, before Castle finally admitted

"We don't have to talk about it…"

Kate shook her head vehemently, quickly dispelling his disappointment that they were once again separated by her walls. Beckett knew she had to tell him, needed their relationship to continue to grow.

"No, I want to. We're not that couple that hides anymore, Castle. I want to tell you. It's just…hard sometimes. Going back to those months. But truthfully Alexis actually had a lot to do with it."


The voice surprised her, had Beckett stopping mid pour of fixing her fourth cup of coffee. Alexis leaned against the door jam, dark circles under her eyes mirroring Kate's. There wasn't much sleep for the women in Castle's life these days.

The precinct was blissfully silent this early in the morning, still several hours before Kate's shift was set to begin. She craved the solitude, forging ahead to find any solid leads in Castle's disappearance on her own. She had numerous consulates to call today, her brain already thinking ahead to the long hours on the phone ahead of her.

Alexis hadn't come by the precinct since her father's disappearance, both women hiding behind carefully constructed walls as they dealt with their missing common link. Turning her attention to the young woman, Beckett said softly as she set the coffee aside

"Hey Alexis, is everything-"
"No. Everything is not all right."

She wasn't angry, her voice just resigned to the sad truth that nothing was all right since Castle's sudden vanishing. Her blue eyes held hardness now, the fear and frustration of no leads or communication taking its toll on Alexis. Castle's absence was hurting everyone.

Six weeks. Six long weeks without him. A father, a son, a soon to be husband. Kate glanced down at the mug in her hands, grateful to have something to hold on to. Six weeks without one of his crazy theories, six weeks without his gorgeous smile. Six weeks without the feel of him, his arms protecting her from the weight of her job and the world. No silver linings, no feel of his lips claiming hers, no rolling over and feeling the strong beat of his heart under her hand at night. No long nights making love, no cups of coffee, no stolen kisses at the precinct. Six weeks of silence. Six long, terrible, awful weeks that Kate still wondered how she was surviving.

Alexis stepped awkwardly into the break room, extending her hand as she stammered haltingly, her voice shaking slightly with unspoken sadness

"I saw this on the counter this morning, wanted to bring it to you."

The diamond engagement ring Castle had slid onto her finger last spring sparkled in the bright room. Blurry images from her hurried morning raced through her mind as she placed the ring on her finger. She hadn't been staying at the loft, often crashing on the couch in the break room or crossing town to sleep at her apartment. Kate hated being in their bed without him. Last night she had retraced hers steps, taking time to painstakingly search his office for any clues she might have missed. As her frustration boiled over, angry tears Beckett hated coursing down her cheeks at once again reaching a dead end, Kate had crawled into their bed and buried her face in his pillow, breathing in the linger scent of him and letting it lull her to sleep.

Vivid dreams of Castle startled Beckett awake long before the sun. Dreams of their honeymoon, lounging on a private island. Dreams of dancing with him at their wedding. Images of a life she wanted more than anything that was just out reach taunted her in sleep. She'd taken the ring off to wash her hands as she made coffee, too wrapped up in her constant mantra of needing to find him alive to realize she walked away without her ring. As the familiar weight settled on her finger, Alexis crossed her arms over her chest and said quietly, her eyes dropping down to the ring that spoke of Castle's future with Beckett.

"I thought you didn't wear the ring to work. Dad…" her voice broke slightly at the noun, drawing Beckett's eyes to Alexis', "Dad said that you didn't wear it."

Leaning a hip against the counter, her cup of coffee now completely forgotten about, Beckett stared down at the beautiful ring. Closing her eyes briefly, she pictured him standing in front of her, promising they were going to be "great." She finally spoke, words tumbling from her without conscious thought as she suddenly realized how much she needed to talk. To not feel so alone.

"I used to wear it on the chain with my mom's. And that felt right, having the ring that drove me next to the ring that grounded me. Reminding me how far we had come, you know? After we solved my mom's case, I realized I needed to try and put that behind me, really focus on our future. So I wanted to put my mom's ring away. So what did I do with the engagement ring? I didn't really want to wear it at work, afraid something would happen to it."

Kate twirled the ring around on her finger, missing the feel of his arms around her as she recalled him quietly agreeing with her. The ring was flashy, could cause problems for the detective at work. She would be devastated if she lost it, or in the middle of an arrest lost some stones. A small smile tugged at the corners of Beckett's mouth as she realized her trepidation over talking to Castle about her ring was unwarranted. Pushing a strand of her shorter hair behind her ear, Beckett swallowed hard and pushed through her emotions, tears shining brightly in her emerald eyes.

"Your dad completely understood; I just had to promise to wear my wedding ring. He wanted the world to know that I was his. We promised each other that we would always wear our wedding rings, no matter what. We wanted a visual representation of what we had. I didn't even realize how important that was to him, until that moment."

Clenching her fist, Beckett kept her feelings in check as the band cut into her palm. She blinked back furious tears as she met Alexis' eyes, irises deep pools of understanding at Beckett's reasoning. The silence finally too much, Kate whispered the simple truth that she had kept hidden since Castle's disappearance.

"After….after your dad disappeared I didn't want to wear it. It was too much a reminder of our happy ending that was suddenly gone. But your dad said once that if we want the happy ending, we can't give up. So. I have to wear it. It's a constant reminder of what we're fighting for."

Kate stuttered out a breath, emotion trapping her voice as she thought of Castle's strong voice calming her, as he had always done. She pictured him clearly, sitting on the bench as she bemoaned the terrible trails leading to their wedding. God how she ached for that man. Alexis grasped her hand, her thumb tracing over the diamond as Castle's daughter said passionately, silent tears trekking down her pale cheeks.

"We'll find him, Kate. And you'll get your happy ending. This ring can be put next to your mom's, because you're going to have a wedding band here. We're going to find him. We can't give up. We'll find him, Kate. And then this ring, as beautiful as it is, can be put away where it belongs. You'll have your wedding band, Kate."

Alexis pulled the detective into a fierce hug, her words soft against Beckett's shoulder. Alexis offered to stay and help for the day, admitting she was unable to sit idly by why Kate slowly slid down the rabbit hole of Castle's nonappearance. As they walked through the empty bullpen, Kate's heels clicking along the hard wood floor barely masking the sound of Alexis' converses squeaking, Alexis collapsed in her father's chair and said stubbornly

"And you have to quit sleeping at your apartment. Stay with us, Kate. Stay with us."

Words from long enough echoed in her mind as she met Alexis' blue eyes. Like father, like daughter. Glancing down at the ring that once again reminded her of the family she was joining, Beckett nodded and repeated Alexis' words, drawing strength from his daughter.

"We'll find him."

Kate twirled the diamond ring around her finger as she said softly, her eyes focused solely on her ministrations with the ring to avoid meeting Castle's sorrowful gaze.

"I haven't taken it off again. It's too much a part of our story."

Castle's throat bobbed as he swallowed hard, his finger digging almost uncomfortably into her side as he hauled her against him, teeth scraping along her shoulder as he muttered harshly, pain evident in the writer.

"Kate, I'm just so-"
"Don't. Please don't say I'm sorry."

Sitting up fully, Kate framed his face in her hands. Her eyes searching his, hating the torment she saw in his stunning blue eyes, Beckett finally buried her face into his neck and said softly

"You're home, Rick. Nothing else matters. We're okay. We're finding solid ground. And we're together. That's all I need. And you were right. We want the happy ending, we can't give up. And I needed to wear it, and to have that physical reminder of you. Your chair sat empty, this bed was empty, and I was empty. But this ring…this ring was a tangible reminder of the life we were going to have. I needed to hold on to it. I needed to remember not to give up on our story."

She pressed tender kisses to his jaw, smiling at the stubble that scraped along her lips. He jumped slightly as she traced her tongue along his collarbones. She finally whispered, propping up on her elbow to meet his steely azure gaze

"Soon we'll be starting a new chapter. And while our engagement has been a wonderful chapter, give or take a few things…" she nudged him in the ribs, cracking a smile to try and show they were moving forward from his disappearance before continuing, "But I like the idea of keeping this ring safe, next to my mom's, and wearing the wedding ring you give me as a tangible reminder that we're now married."

Becket grinned as she felt more than heard the sigh that escaped him, her confidence in their future calming him. Castle's fingers cupped under her jaw, tipping her chin up to meet her gaze. He kissed her softly before saying quietly, the eternal optimist that was her fiancé warming her to the core.

"I can't wait to be married to you, and give you a new ring. I can't wait to start a new chapter with you, Kate."

Castle pressed a tender kiss to the top of her head, sliding down under the covers and pulling her down with him. Kate rested her head on his chest, feeling the steady beat of his heart under her cheek. Home. She fell asleep in the comfort of his arms, his thumb running lightly over her ring, knowing their story could only continue to be amazing as long as they were together.