A/N: Hello, everyone! I've been reading fanfiction for years, but this is my first foray into writing it. Please be honest with your comments, because I want to improve my writing as much as I can. Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

Story: After encountering a suspect with a stun grenade, Castle is left temporarily blind. Beckett, feeling guilty about the accident, offers to take care of him. (Set mid season three. Josh is still in the picture.)

Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own Castle.

Chapter 1

She rubs her temples and lets out her third sigh in the last two minutes. However, the object of her frustration appears to be oblivious to her mood. After running out of paperclips to add to his record-breaking paperclip chain, Castle found a new, more annoying project. He has been using her skittles and empty coffee mug as his own personal basketball court for the last thirty minutes.

"Kobe!" Castle yells as a red skittle flies through the air towards her favorite NYPD mug. It swirls around the rim a bit before falling in. Castle mimics a crowd cheering. "I told you it works if you say an NBA player's name!"

"Castle, focus," she says with a glare.

"I'm trying, but I'm so bored," he whines. "Why are his financials taking so long?" Beckett pinches the bridge of her nose, hoping to alleviate her headache. It's not his fault really.

His daughter is going on college visits with his mother for the next week. In Europe. He glosses it over with jokes and self-deprecation, but in the quiet moments she knows how much it pains Castle to imagine his daughter going to school half a world away.

As much as she's loath to admit it, Castle has grown on her. Despite his annoyingly childish tendencies, he really does make her days more fun. It might just be her, but she thinks they have been growing closer ever since 3XK and the kiss she won't let herself think about.

He's less quick to tease, replacing his humor with genuine concern when her frustrations start to boil over. He orders food when she has forgotten to eat, and somehow he always knows what she's craving. And of course, he brings her coffee every morning.

Behind his playboy façade, there is a good man and a good father. She's mature enough to admit at least that. She can't imagine why his ex-wives divorced him. If he were her husband-

Wait, what? No, she's not thinking about what it would be like if Richard Castle were her husband. No way. She's delusional. It must be this headache. Yes, it's the headache, and she's getting a little hungry. Yeah. That's it.

Plus, this case has been a doozy.

Their vic was found nearly a week after he was murdered, and aside from the gruesome crime scene, it appears that the Jack Wheatley had many enemies. Thanks to his questionable past, most of them had the means and motive to kill him. They had been digging through the criminal records of Jack's previous associates all day, but each one led to a dead end.

It had been Castle's idea to look into the coworker.

"Alright, Sam Dalton, 41. His wife's name is Laurie Dalton, works as a grade school teacher. They have one son. Looks like home address is in Danbury, Connecticut," Ryan reads.

"Danbury? What is he doing working a job in the city?"

"Don't know. My guess is more money," Ryan shrugs. "But, according to our records, he has a small apartment of his own on 54th. He started working at Seigal and Co. six months ago."

"Which is the same time Jack's other coworkers noticed him acting strangely," Castle adds.

Jack was quite the workaholic, so when he began leaving early every Tuesday and Thursday, his coworkers were the first to notice. His best friend overheard him talking on the phone with a lawyer once, but Jack ended the call before he could find out why. His secretary said that she caught him working on something personal a few times. When she would enter his office, he would quickly cover the papers or stuff them in an open drawer. The weirdest part was his request to transfer to another project.

"Don't you see, Beckett?" Castle began. "It's Sam Dalton! He joined the company almost the same time that Jack started leaving early and meeting with a lawyer. He even asked for a transfer to get away from him!"

"That could just be a coincidence. What's his motive?" She asks. "The two didn't even know each other."

"Or did they?" His eyes widen. "Maybe Sam was a ghost from Jack's past. Maybe he was a fellow foster kid that Jack beat up, or Jack got him into drugs and ruined his life. Maybe he mugged him on the street once!"

"And fifteen years later, Sam manages to find him, get placed in the cubicle across from his office in the same company, and murders him with a military grade knife even though he has no record of service." She says sarcastically.

"Yeah!"

"No!" Beckett chuckles. "Besides, if Sam were from Jack's past, why would Jack need a lawyer? Any petty crime he committed then would be at least ten years past the statute of limitations."

"Okay, fine. It's possible they didn't have a first degree connection." Castle's eyebrows furrow in thought. Suddenly, he snaps his fingers. "Maybe Sam was the friend of someone from Jack's past, and that friend is paying him to spy on Jack. Clearly he needed the money!"

Beckett rolls her eyes. It certainly isn't the most well thought out plan, but it's the only theory they've got to go on. Which leaves them here, waiting on financials.

"Yo, Beckett." She looks up to find a very smug Javier Esposito. "Check it. Your boy was not receiving any payments regularly."

"What? I was so sure of it," Castle whines.

"Hold up. I'm not finished," Esposito says. "While Dalton did not receive any money over the last six months, he was paying three hundred bucks a month for the last six months to an Elliot Lang."

Beckett stares at Esposito as Castle stares at her. "Alright, I'll bite. Who's Elliot Lang?"

"Elliot Lang is Dalton's cousin. He's a former first lieutenant of the US Army. Did three tours in Iraq. And since he's returned stateside, he's had a little trouble with the law. He's been arrested for two A and Bs, one drunk and disorderly, and one count of breaking and entering."

"Looks like he went for the Trifecta," Castle quips.

"Alright, so he was receiving some money every month from Dalton, that doesn't mean it was payment for spying on Wheatley," Beckett says.

"He also received three nine thousand dollar payments from one Sam Dalton the day after Jack was killed," Ryan adds.

"I knew it!"

"Not so fast, Castle. The money is suspicious, but it still doesn't connect Dalton to our vic," Beckett says. "We gotta talk to Sam Dalton."

"You want me to pick him up?" Esposito asks.

She looks on in thought. "No. I don't want to spook him."

"Well, I guess this calls for a home visit," says Castle.

"The secretary said Dalton called in sick today," Esposito explains as they ride the elevator to the sixth floor. "Yeah, sick with guilt," Castle adds. Esposito touches his nose in agreement.

They're walking along the hallway looking for Dalton's apartment when Castle notices an old woman peering out from behind an apartment door. He stops to speak with her as the three cops continue down the hall. Ryan sends a questioning look to Beckett, but she just motions them forward.

When they arrive at Dalton's place, they immediately notice the door is slightly ajar. Ryan peaks in and nods to Beckett. She slowly opens the door while Ryan and Esposito draw their weapons and enter.

The place has been trashed. The coffee table is flipped over, and glass from the tabletop litters the ground. The cheap dining room chairs are sideways on the floor, and a picture frame on the wall is cracked but still hanging.

"Mr. Dalton, NYPD!" Beckett calls into the apartment, while gesturing to Ryan and Esposito to start clearing the apartment. Suddenly, a canister rolls into the living room, crunching over the broken glass. "Flash bang," Beckett whispers while Esposito screams, "Down!"

They duck for cover as Castle runs into the room. "Guys! I was just talking to Mrs. Sanchez from down the hall, and she said–" The flash bang goes off. The last thing Castle sees is Beckett reaching for him and yelling something, presumably his name but he can't hear a thing over this ringing in his ears. The ground is coming at him. Then darkness.