"Kate? Where's Kate?" Castle asks trying to shake the cobwebs from his brain.

"I'm right here Rick. I'm okay." Kate whispers as she reaches for his right hand.

"God, my arm hurts and I'm really tired." Rick yawns and flinches as the nurse tends to his damaged left arm.

"Just relax, you're gonna be okay. No nerve damage. Apparently, Maddox didn't hit anything too vital. You have quite a few stitches and you're gonna have a pretty good size scar once it heals." Kate says as she brushes her thumb over his knuckles.

"Chicks dig scars, right?" He asks with a grin that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Are you really okay? I saw what he did to you Kate. You have to be hurting. You still have bruises from your fight on the roof."

"I'm fine now that I know you'll be okay. God, Rick. I was so scared when I came out of the bathroom and saw what he had done to you." She sighs and swipes a tear that has slipped down her cheek. "I was terrified that we weren't going to survive him. This was so much worse than the rooftop...to see you bleeding and knowing there was nothing I could do scared the shit out of me Castle."

"Did you mean what you said Kate?" Rick asks wondering if she just said it in the heat of the moment.

"What did I say?" She asks, knowing where this is headed.

"Nothing... never mind." He mumbles showing his disappointment.

"I meant everything I said that first night at your loft when I was soaked to the skin and everything since." She says, eyes shining with tears as she leans in to kiss the stubble on his chin.

"Not the most romantic of proposals Beckett. I thought you said most girls want something intimate." He says looking into her gorgeous green eyes.

"Not how I envisioned it either, but I'm not taking it back. I think the ring shopping might have to wait for another day though." She breathes into his neck. "I just want to go home and spend the rest of the day in bed snuggled up next to you."

"Go be mean, bossy Beckett and get me discharged so we can make that happen." He grins and kisses the top of her head.

"Martha and my dad have been patiently waiting to see you. Alexis' patience has long since disappeared. I'm gonna go get them and then I'll see what I can do about speeding up the paperwork to spring you from here." Kate says as she pulls away from him.

"Hey, I know we are supposed to go back to the city tomorrow, but I was thinking...maybe we could milk our injuries and stay in the Hamptons a few more days." He says with a glint in his eye.

"You know that Gates wants my statement and we have to check out my apartment." She says noting the pout forming on his handsome face.

"Why don't we invite Lanie, Espo and Ryan out here for the weekend. Kevin can even take your statement from here. Besides, I think we should share our news with them sooner rather than later. Especially in light of your very unromantic proposal!" He smiles...the one that he saves just for Kate.

"Fine, but we ARE NOT telling them about that! I'm not telling anyone until I have your ring on my finger!" She says poking him in the chest.

"Shouldn't you be buying me a ring? You're the one who proposed!" He jokes. "Seriously, though... we are going shopping for that ring as soon as I am allowed to leave this hospital! I'm not gonna let you back out of this or slip through some lame Beckett loophole."

"I'm not gonna back out, Castle." She huffs as she stands to go get the rest of the family. "Let Alexis see that you are okay and then we'll do anything you want. I'll call Lanie and the boys and invite them out."

"I love you Kate." He says as she opens the door.

"I know...I love you too Castle." She calls as she exits the room.

"Daddy! Are you okay? What happened? Is your arm okay? Does it hurt?" Alexis lets fly with all the questions that she has been wanting to ask since arriving at the hospital an hour ago.

"Whoa, slow down Pumpkin. I'm fine, just a few stitches." He lies about the number of stitches, not wanting to scare his daughter. "I'm in a little bit of pain, but nothing I can't handle with a few pain pills. I just want to get out of here. Kate said she would work on getting me discharged while we talk." He says trying to ease Alexis' concerns. He knows she worries, rightly so this time, but he really is okay and Maddox is dead.

"Dad, there was a dead guy in the garden when we came here. Are we safe now that the man is dead? How can you want to go back to the house? It kind of creeps me out." Alexis asks a little uneasy about returning to the beach house.

"We are not going to let these people win by chasing us out of our home. We have so many good memories there and we have made a bunch of new ones there in the last week." Rick says trying to make Alexis think about good times instead of what she encountered this morning.

"We have had some fun this week." She says with a hint of a smile creeping at the corners of her mouth.

"Kate and I were thinking about calling Lanie, Ryan and Espo and having them come out and spend some time with us out here in the Hamptons. We want to share our news in person with everyone and try to get back to a sense of normalcy in light of everything that has happened lately." He says as he opens his arms to his daughter. "Can I have a hug, Daughter?"

"Are you sure you're up to it? It won't hurt your arm right?" She asks as she hesitantly steps into the circle of his arms. "I'm okay with them coming out. We have plenty of room and I know Kate is probably anxious to see her friends."

"I'm looking forward to seeing them too." He says as he kisses her cheek. "Can you go see if Kate has found someone that has the authority to release me?"

"Sure, Dad. I know how much you hate hospitals. I'll be right back." Alexis says as she heads to the door. Just as she opens the door Kate comes in with a doctor in tow.

"I hope that you haven't acquired a new shadow in the short time you've been gone." He pouts.

"You're the only shadow I need Castle." She grins with eyes twinkling. "This is Doctor Hoffman, he has your discharge papers and care instructions for your arm."

"Thank God. I want out of here. I have some shopping to do!" He says, flashing his megawatt smile.

"Seriously, Rick?" She asks, knowing there is no stopping him. "Lanie and the boys will be at the house in a few hours."

"Well, I guess you better spring me, Doc. I have a narrow window of time to make a very important purchase." His smile can't be contained.

"Mr. Castle, you just need to sign a few forms here and then you are free to go." Doctor Hoffman says handing Rick the paperwork.

"Kate, can you get your dad to come in here for a second? I have something I need to ask him." Rick says, suddenly very serious.

"You are not going old fashioned on me and asking him permission are you?" She wonders aloud.

"Would that be a problem?" He asks hesitantly afraid of upsetting his fiercely independent girlfriend.

"No, it's actually kind of sweet, Castle." She says looking him in the eye.

"I just want to do this right for once. I need to do this Kate. You already threw old fashioned out the window by blurting out your intentions." He says with a wink. "Just let me have this, okay?"

"Okay, I'll get him while you fill out the paperwork." She sighs as she heads out to the hallway to get Jim.

"Dad, Rick would like to talk to you for a second." Kate shrugs feigning ignorance to Rick's request.

"Okay, Katie, is there something wrong?" Jim asks curiously.

"No, he just asked that I send you in to talk to him." She adds shyly.

"Okay." He says shaking his head as he heads for the door to Rick's room.

"Hey, Mr. Beckett." Castle says casually.

"What can I do for you Rick?" Jim says as he walks up to the table where Castle is filling out paperwork for his release. "Katie said you needed to talk to me."

"I need to ask you something, and I'm a little nervous about this. I've never done this before and I..." Rick stammers.

"First off, call me Jim. Now what is it Rick? Does this have something to do with Katie?" Jim asks his voice wavering with concern.

"Jim, I was wondering if I could have your permission to...uh...marry your daughter." Castle finishes sheepishly.

"Does she know what you called me in here for?" Jim chuckles, enjoying Rick's discomfort a little. "What exactly are your intentions here Rick? What if I can't give you my blessing? Would you still propose to my headstrong daughter anyway?"

"Uh...Jim...? Are you saying you don't want me to marry her? That you're not okay with this?" He asks trying to swallow the lump in his throat. "I know it's kind of soon, but you said it yourself...Kate is a headstrong, independent woman."

"Of course I am okay with you marrying my daughter. I have never seen her this happy. You bring out the Katie that I haven't seen since Johanna was taken from us all those years ago." Jim says as he smiles and reaches out to shake Castle's uninjured hand.

"Thanks, Jim." Castle sighs as he returns Jim's smile and grasps his future father-in-law's hand.

"Is it okay to interrupt?" Martha calls from the doorway, anxious to be let in on the little drama that has unfolded in the last few minutes. "We are ready to head home and Kate says that Rick and her have a little shopping to do before their friends from the city arrive."

"Yes, Mother. You can interrupt. We're all done and my discharge papers are all filled out." Castle says giving nothing away to the diva at the door.

"How about I give Martha and Alexis a ride back to the house and get everything squared away while you and Katie get that shopping trip taken care of. We can all meet back at the house in a couple hours." Jim says giving Castle a knowing grin.

"Castle! Would you be serious? That ring is ridiculous. You know I would never wear something like that. This stuff is just way too big and way too expensive." Kate growls.

"Kate, I just want you to have the best. I want everyone to know that you are going to be my wife." He says a little hurt by her objections.

"You don't need a massive diamond to prove that. I just want something simple, something practical. You know me better than anybody, Rick. You know I'm not about the flashy, material stuff. Let's try and find something we can both agree on." She says as she tugs on his good arm and directs him over to some more traditional rings. "I know this is the Hamptons, where glitz and glam are the rule of the day, but I want something a little more us."

"How about this one?" He says as he points to a simple, solitary diamond set in platinum with a matching wedding band.

"Rick, are you sure? Are you okay with your future wife wearing such a simple ring?" She giggles loving the simplicity of the engagement ring and platinum wedding band.

"It's practical enough that you can wear it to work, but elegant enough to wear out to a book launch party. Besides, I saw you looking at it when we first came in. I just wanted to push your buttons a little with those tacky bobbles in the other case." He gives her that cocky grin as he nods to the jeweler that they have found what they came for. "Do I need to pick out my ring now too? I mean you did propose to me Beckett."

"I was kind of hoping they would have a wedding band for you that would match mine." She mumbles. "And before you say a word Castle, I'm buying your ring. I may be unemployed at the moment but I'm not destitute and you know I will eventually end up being a cop again. It's all I know."

"I know better than to argue with you Kate Beckett. If the last four years has taught me anything, I know I can't win an argument with you." He says leaning in for a kiss.

"We better get back to the house, Lanie and the boys will be there in about an hour." She says as she gestures to her father's watch on her arm.

After Kate and Rick pay for their purchases they make their way back to the beach house. They talk about Maddox's death and what that might mean. They talk about getting married a year from now. They joke about their friends' reactions to their news and how this important change in their relationship will affect them both professionally and personally. As they walk up the beach, nearing the house, Castle distracts Kate by pointing at something out in the water. When she turns around, he is down on one knee in the sand in front of her.

"Kate. Don't say anything. Just listen, okay?" He whispers looking deep into her eyes. "I know we already agreed to this, but I just need to say this. I know that I have been married twice and I'm sure you have your concerns, but this is the first time I have asked for a father's permission. The first time I will marry because I'm truly in love, and hopefully the first time that my wife will take my last name. Meredith wouldn't hear of it because she was an actress and Gina didn't want to change her name because of what people at Black Pawn would think. You'll always be Beckett at the precinct and I get that, but would you do me the honor of being Kate Castle at home? Will you marry me, Kate?" He says with tears slipping from his eyes.

"Yes, I'll marry you." She says, launching herself into his arms and kissing him senseless. "Of course I'll marry you. I already proposed to you! Don't think you can take credit for proposing first."

"I'm not going to ruin your story, but I wanted you to have the kind of proposal you said every girl wants back when I was giving Kevin all of those crazy ideas when he was trying to decide how to propose to Jenny. I just want to give you the world." He says as he pulls her engagement ring from the box, preparing to put it on her finger.

"I don't want the world Rick. I just want you." She breathes into his ear before pulling away to look at him and the ring he wants to put on her finger. "I'm still not telling them about the proposal. Lanie will be insufferable. Maybe we should wait on the ring until we have a chance to talk to Alexis. Is she gonna be okay with this? It is kind of quick." Kate says now a little self-conscious about his daughter's reaction to their ever changing status. "It's just so surreal that a month ago we were barely speaking and now we're engaged."

"Kate, it's not like we haven't been dancing around this thing between us since that first case. We've been in a relationship for the better part of four years. We just finally came to our senses and did something about it. You're it for me Kate." He says taking her hand that now sports a shiny new addition, heading for the back porch and their waiting family.

"So do you want to tell Alexis and Martha before the gang from the 12th arrives?" Kate asks uncertain.

"No time like the present since our family is hovering on the back porch. There will be no slipping into the house unnoticed." He nods toward the three familiar faces looking at them from the deck.

"Well at least Dad already knows...He can't stop smiling. That takes a little pressure off." She grins.

"Here goes nothing." He says squeezing her hand a little tighter. "Hey, family. We have something to share. Um..." Rick stumbles through his explanation. "Kate and I are getting married!" He blurts.

"Congratulations kiddos! I knew something was going on in the hospital when Richard wanted to speak to Jim." Martha says looking truly happy for her only son.

"Isn't this a little soon?" Alexis questions, glancing between her father and his new fiancee.

"Yes, but I have never been more sure of anything in my life." Kate answers to everyone's surprise. "Are you okay with this Alexis? I understand your concerns, I do. But I finally figured out what I want and I am so tired of waiting for the perfect time. I love your dad Alexis and I will do everything in my power to make him happy."

"When are you getting married?" Alexis asks a little intrigued.

"We were thinking of getting married this time next year." Rick says smiling at Kate.

"Where?" Jim asks.

"We uh, haven't really got that far yet. We've got plenty of time to think and plan it all out. I was hoping that we could do this as a family." Kate offers.

"This will be a new experience for Richard. He has never been allowed to contribute to the planning of a wedding unless you count paying the tab." Martha adds with all the sarcasm she can manage.

"It's true, but in all honesty I never really cared about that stuff until now. I'll be as involved as you all will let me this time around." Rick shrugs at Kate's shocked expression. "I know how you women get when it comes to weddings. Just don't let my beautiful fiancee become one of those bridezillas they show on those reality TV shows." Rick teases.

"You are more of a girl than I am Castle. You will probably be the one we need to worry about." Kate dishes right back at him. "Seriously, though Rick. I want us all to do this together as a family...all of us." Kate adds smiling into those deep blue pools that make her heart skip a beat.

"Kate and I do have one request though. We don't want you to say anything to Lanie and the boys. We will tell them, eventually. We just might make them work for it a little bit." Rick adds with a hint of mischief in his tone.

"Well, if you guys don't want to them to know, I suggest you take that shiny ring off my Katie's hand and stash it somewhere safe. You two might want to dial the wattage down on those goofy smiles you two have had on your faces since you left the hospital." Jim tells them with a smirk.

"Kate Beckett, get your skinny butt over here and give me a tour. Oh my God girl, this place is amazing. Just think how much time you could have spent out here if you would have confessed your feelings for writer boy two summers ago." Lanie says just getting warmed up for all the things she intends to tell her friend. "How long have you been here and what have you and Castle's family been up to? When did he invite you and why didn't you tell anyone where you've been?"

"Slow down Lanie, you might hurt yourself if you don't stop to take a breath periodically. We have been enjoying the sun and the sand until we had an unwanted visitor early this morning. I don't think I have ever been more relaxed. These last few days have been just what I needed." Kate says purposely leaving out several reasons for her relaxed state of mind.

"Well you do look relaxed, ...happy even. But Imma gonna smack you if you don't tell me what the hell is going on between you and writer-boy. Has something changed between you two? The sexual tension is still there, but something else is in the air. You need to spill it Beckett or I am going to have to go seek my answers elsewhere and you know I scare the crap out of Castle. You need to start at the beginning...wherever that is and tell me exactly what has happened to you over the last week. I know what happened on the case that connected our dead body to a robbery that happened at Captain Montgomery's house. Kevin and Javi filled me in on the connection to your shooting and how that all went sideways. What I don't know is what the hell happened to you? Why did you resign?" Lanie interrogates her intent on getting to the bottom of everything that has transpired in the last week whether Kate wants to share or not.

"How about I give you a tour and show you where you can set your bag? I'll fill you in as we go. I'll start with the easy questions first. Castle and Alexis invited me out here the day after Espo and I were suspended. I accepted because I realized that getting away from the city for a few days was just what I needed since I had no job and no idea what to do with myself. I resigned because when I was hanging off of that building by my fingertips, I realized there were more important things than my mom's case." Kate tells her as they reach the top of the stairs on their tour of the house. "You can have any of the three rooms up here. You should leave this first one for Kevin and Jenny, it's the biggest of the three.

"What things were important enough for you to quit?" Lanie prods.

"Castle. When I was hanging from the side of that building all I could think about was him." Kate says avoiding Lanie's intimidating stare.

"It's about damn time you saw what has always been right in front of your face." Lanie says matter-of-factly.

"Yeah, that's what my dad said when I told him I had fallen in love with my best friend." Kate smiles meeting Lanie's smirk. "Him...not you, no offense."

"None taken. Girl, I know I'm your best girlfriend. But you've told him stuff you've never shared with me. I'm just glad you have finally admitted to yourself how much that man-child means to you."

Lanie says with a touch of pride at her friend's admission.

"I told him Lanie. I told Rick that I love him too." Kate says with a smile Lanie has never seen grace

the features of the stubborn woman standing next to her.

"Too?" Lanie asks now thoroughly confused. "What did I miss?"

"He told me he loved me when I was bleeding out in his arms when I was shot, and he told me again that day I almost fell off the roof. We had a fight; he told me if I felt anything for him at all I would walk away from my mom's case before it killed me. I said some awful things. I was mad at him for hiding stuff about my mom's case from me. He walked away; he said he couldn't stand by and watch me get myself killed...He said we were over. It was awful Lanie. I found out why he acted out with that stewardess, why he stopped waiting for me." Kate mumbles, shaking her head at the memory. "He found out that I lied about not remembering my shooting. He heard me tell a suspect during the bombing case that I remembered every second of being shot in the chest. He walked away with the blonde bimbo because he found out I lied and thought I didn't feel the same way about him,...that I didn't love him."

"But you do and you told him? So does this mean you guys are going to give it a shot? Have you,...well you know what I'm gonna ask." Lanie says uncharacteristically shy.

"Lanie Parrish, I never thought I'd see the day when you would be embarrassed to ask the question that I know you have been dying to ask since you found out I was here in the Hamptons with Castle."

Kate teases, enjoying her friend's sudden shyness. "And, yes we have and no you aren't getting any details. That is between me and Rick. That is just for us."

"When?" Lanie pries; she just can't help herself.

"The night of my latest near death experience. For the first time in four years he wasn't there to save me, Lanie. That's when it hit me...All I wanted was him. Nothing else mattered. I just wanted him. So yes, I am staying in the master bedroom downstairs and you need to pick a room so we can get back to the guys. That's all I'm gonna tell you." Kate says as she pushes Lanie toward one of the empty bedrooms.

"Kate. I'm really happy for you. I mean it. I don't think I have ever seen you this happy,...ever. No man has ever put a smile on your face like this." Lanie says as she bumps Kate's shoulder.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Castle is facing his own version of the Spanish Inquisition. Esposito, Ryan and Jenny (by default) are trying to pry as much information from Castle as they can before Kate and Lanie return to the media room.

"Yo, Castle. Are you and Beckett...together now? You can tell me bro." Espo jumps into the fray, not one to mince words.

"Yeah, Castle. You might as well tell us, cause you know Lanie is up there prying every ounce of information out of the boss that she can." Ryan says continuing the tag team interrogation.

"Yeah, man. You know that Lanie will tell us anyway, so spill it. I don't want to have to hurt your other arm." Javi adds with a glare.

"You know she's like a sister to us right, Castle? If you are together we are gonna have to have 'the talk'." Kevin tries for menacing but can't pull it off.

"Bro, if you hurt our girl, we..." Javi says motioning between Ryan and himself. "We will have to hurt you,...maybe even kill you. And we know a certain M.E. that could help us cover it up!" Javi growls.

"Kevin, Javier,...why don't you give Rick a chance to answer your questions before you threaten to kill him or cause him bodily harm?" Jenny says trying to run a bit of interference for Castle. She feels horrible about the boys ganging up on him.

"Guys, hold up a second. Yes, we are together now. We have decided to give this thing between us a shot and I don't intend on ever letting her go. You guys know how I feel about her. I've never been good at hiding it. I'm just glad it's out in the open and you guys know. You also know that I would never hurt her intentionally." Rick says trying to placate Kate's 'brothers'. "Hey, are you gonna give Kate the talk too? I mean she could hurt me too?"

"Dude, don't be such a girl! We've known for a while how she feels about you. We're just glad that you both finally came to your senses." Javi says, a far off look in his eyes.

"Yeah, we just want Mom and Dad to be happy." Ryan laughs at their nickname for Rick and Kate.

"Castle. Why did she kick you off the team that day we went after Maddox." Javi asks wondering why Rick's eyes have suddenly clouded over.

"Yeah, man. You are usually the only one who can make her stop. She wouldn't listen to reason." The blue-eyed detective says, glancing to his partner.

"We fought in her apartment earlier that day. I tried to get her to stop before her mom's case got her killed. She refused and I walked away. I told her that I loved her and there was no way that I was going to stick around and watch her get herself killed." Rick filled the detectives in.

"So is she going to come back to the 12th?" Espo asks, hoping Kate's decision was heat of the moment and she will change her mind after some time to think.

"Did she quit for good?" Kevin asks hoping it isn't true.

"I think she will ride out the suspension and then maybe talk to Gates about taking back her resignation. She's a cop. It's who she is. I'm pretty certain she'll be back on the job in a few months." Rick says thinking back to Kate's admission that she will go back to being a cop.

"What about Gates?" Espo says knowing their captain holds Kate's fate in her hands, well as far as her job and Castle's presence at the precinct. "If she finds out you two are together, I doubt she is going to be happy and you will be out on your ass, Bro."

"Here come Kate and Lanie. Let's change the subject, grab some drinks from the kitchen and decide how we want to spend the time we have left out here. Kevin, I promise before you head back to the city, we will give you all the information you need to get Gates off your back." Castle says after he rises from the couch and heads toward a smiling Kate as she descends the stairs.

"Hey, everything okay?" Ricks asks as he leans in to place a chaste kiss to Kate's lips, forgetting about the other people in the room.

"Ugh, gross! Are we gonna have to watch Mom and Dad kiss all night?" Kevin and Javi blurt out in unison.

"Sorry, forgot you were here." Kate apologizes to the guys. "Are you guys ready to eat and get something to drink?'

"We're gonna need a lot to drink if we are going to be subjected to you guys swapping spit all night." Lanie says trying to get a reaction from Kate.

"Well, Castle's liquor cabinet is well stocked, the wine cellar is full and there is plenty of beer in the fridge. If that isn't enough, you can run into town to buy more." She says completely unfazed by the ribbing that her and Castle will be facing.

"Yeah, deal with it guys, cause now that I am allowed to do this..." Rick says leaning in for another kiss. "I will do it whenever I feel like it!"

"Let's go join the rest of our family and decide how to spend the rest of the night. And there will be no talk about work or my mom's case. Let's just enjoy spending time together as family and friends. All of that other stuff is still gonna be here tomorrow." Kate says wandering toward the kitchen.

The group decides that they will order pizza and play some poker, something that they all love to do but never get the chance. Even Jim, Martha and Alexis agree to join them in a few spirited hands of Texas Hold'em.

"Mrs. R it's your turn to deal!" Ryan says from his perch between Esposito and Kate. "Castle isn't allowed to deal anymore. He cheats! It seems like the boss gets really good cards each time he handles the dealing responsibilities."

"Yeah Bro, I liked it better when Beckett and Castle went head to head, no holds barred. They used to look like they wanted to kill each other every hand. Now they can't stop making goo-goo eyes at each other long enough to get through a hand!" Espo says grinning like a fool.

"Yeah, my girl used to take her card playing far more serious. I guess she has far more important things on her mind these days." Lanie smirks from her spot on the couch where her, Alexis and Jenny have ended up after bowing out on the poker game.

"Well I think it's cute how they can't take their eyes or their hands off each other for that matter." Jenny chimes in.

"Thank you Jenny, I knew there was a reason I liked you better than Kevin!" Rick says as he reaches for Kate's hand.

"Hey, how do you think I feel watching all of this? You guys should consider yourselves fortunate for not walking in on the same scene I did when I arrived." Jim says with a shake of his head.

"Don't even go there! I'm still a little mortified by being busted by my dad!" Kate says as her cheeks become visibly flushed.

"Come on Mr. Beckett. You gotta tell us. It's gotta be a good story to make Beckett blush like that!" Kevin begs.

"Let's just say I caught Katie and her writer in a compromising position on the lounge chair out back." Jim said enjoying his daughter's embarrassment.

"Girl, were you and writer-boy making out like teenagers?" Lanie asks, knowing Kate is getting more uncomfortable with this topic.

"And you wonder why I didn't share our news sooner! Seriously guys!" Kate says looking around the room hoping for a change in subject.

"Well kiddos, I'm going to turn in now. It has been a very long and emotional day." Martha says tossing her cards onto the table.

"Hold on Martha, I'll walk up with you. I'm having a hard time concentrating on my cards anyway." Jim adds as he pushes away from his spot at the table.

"I'm gonna head up to my room too. Good night everybody." Alexis says as she kisses her dad on the cheek and squeezes Kate's shoulder as she exits the room.

"Night Pumpkin." Rick says making his way to the kitchen. "Anybody need something while I'm up?"

"I'll take another beer Castle." Espo says. "Why aren't you drinking tonight, Bro?"

"He isn't allowed to have alcohol with his pain medicine." Kate says as she excuses herself to join Rick in the kitchen.

"Oh, sorry man, I forgot all about your arm." Javi says feeling bad for the oversight.

"Don't worry about it Esposito, I kind of forgot about it myself for a little while. If you guys don't mind though, I'm gonna turn in too. I won't last long once I take these things." Rick says wiggling the bottle of pain pills. "You coming?" He asks as Kate passes him a glass of water to wash down the pain medicine.

"Yeah, I'll be right behind you. I'm starting to feel the effects of that early morning workout,...not the one with you Castle. I meant the fight with Maddox." Kate whispers before Rick even has a chance to wiggle his eyebrows.

"Do you wanna share my pain pills?" Rick asks suddenly concerned about his fiancee.

"Nah, I'll be fine once I get some rest in that big, soft bed." Kate assures him with a squeeze of his good arm.

"Go to bed Kate. Don't feel like you need to entertain us. We'll be turning in soon. We've had a pretty full day too." Lanie says trying to ease Kate's mind about playing hostess to her friends. "We'll clean this up and head to bed too. See you in the morning before we head back to the city."

"Thanks Lanie. Night guys." Kate says headed toward the master bedroom.

As morning arrives in the Hamptons, the smell of bacon, pancakes and coffee greet the occupants of the beach house. Jim and Martha bustle about the kitchen preparing enough food for the small army of friends that will soon descend upon the kitchen. The two eldest members of the household decide a big breakfast, brunch really, as it is nearly noon is in order before everyone goes their separate ways and head back to the city.

"Morning." Ryan and Jenny offer as they arrive in the kitchen. "Can we help with anything?"

"Could you kids pour the coffee?" Martha asks as she starts plating the food.

"No problem, Mrs. R." Kevin says reaching for the pot.

Lanie, Esposito and Alexis are the next to arrive drawn by the smell of food. Gratefully accepting the offered food and beverages that are set out before them.

"Where are Kate and Castle? We were hoping to see them before we have to head back'" Lanie asks slightly disappointed at her friend's absence.

"Right here Lanie. Just moving a little slower than usual this morning. Our bodies are feeling the effects of our run in with Maddox yesterday." Kate says grimacing slightly as she makes her way to the coffee pot for her first shot of caffeine.

"What time are you guys leaving?" Castle asks their group of friends.

"Javi, Lanie, Jenny and I are going to have to leave after we're done eating. I've got some paperwork to finish up and Gates will want Beckett's statement on her desk first thing tomorrow morning." Kevin says knowing Kate isn't really looking forward to giving him a statement for Gates.

"Speaking of my statement. Here Kevin. I wrote this up last night before I fell asleep. I figured it would save both us the hassle and the awkwardness of getting it done before you leave." Kate says offering him the folded piece of paper. "Castle and I have decided to stay here in the Hamptons for a few more days before heading back to the city."

"Yeah, we figured you might hang out up here for a few more days and rest." Lanie says with a wink. "Just give us a call when you get back in town. Maybe we can all meet up at the Old Haunt for a drink." Lanie says giving Kate a hug.

"We'll do Lanie. Thanks for coming all the way out here yesterday. Next time, we'll do a long weekend when we can really relax and enjoy ourselves." Rick says as he wraps his arm around Kate's waist. "Hopefully, we can all spend Labor Day together."

Once brunch is finished and the dishes are cleaned up, the mass exodus begins. The gang from the 12th departs first, followed by Jim. Alexis and Martha are the last to leave as the car service finally arrives to transport them back to the city, leaving Kate and Rick alone for the first time since she showed up soaking wet at his door almost a week ago.

"Alone at last." Rick says grabbing Kate's shoulder as they make their way back toward the house.

"How about we go back inside, put that ring back on my finger and spend the rest of the day curled up in bed. No funny business. My body is in no shape for any physical escapades right now." Kate sighs into Rick's shoulder.

"I'll take what I can get. Spending the day cuddled up in bed next to my fiancee. What more can a guy ask for?" Rick says as he pulls her a little closer.

THE END...FOR NOW (Check out Where I Belong:One Year Later)

(Thanks guys for all your support with this story - Castle fans are the greatest on Fanfiction!)