Part Three of Three

The following day, Kate Beckett appeared at the door of Castle's building. Flashing her badge and announcing herself got her past the outer door and the security desk, though she was certain the doorman, who's name badge read "Eduardo" would have called upstairs in spite of her admonition not to warn the reclusive author she was coming had she not stationed Ryan and Esposito to prevent him from doing so.

At first there had been no answer when she knocked. Kate hadn't seen lights coming from the third floor, but someone with Richard Castle's money and apparent level of paranoia could esily have had the windows tinted enough to not let light out.

She heard harsh, hushed whispers from behind the door, but before she could raise her hand to knock again, it swung open to reveal Alexis Castle, who shot a wink and an eye roll at her before stepping aside.

"Richard Castle" Kate's commanding voice rang out, "I have been ordered to take you into protective custody as a material witness in the murders of Allison Tisdale and Marvin Fisk."

An hour later the two of them sat in the same interrogation room as last night, surrounded by stacks of his fan mail from the "suspicious/ potentially dangerous, do not answer" file cabinet that Paula kept carefully documented. Castle kept shooting looks at her from the corner of her eye as he glanced at letters from some of his less coherent fans.

After the third time, it became apparent we wasn't going to initiate the conversation it was clear he wanted to have.

"What?" Beckett grumped, finally tired of the game.

"Can I ask you a question?" Castle asked.

"Shoot." Kate replied.

"Why am I here? I thought I made it clear last night I didn't want to be involved. Yeah, it bothers me that this guy is aping my books, but it isn't my job to bring this guy to justice, so I don't see why it's necessary to drag me out of my home in front of my daughter on her last weekend before she goes back to school, bring me all the way here and compel my involvement with a warrant signed by an old poker buddy of mine."

"I need you here for the story." Kate replied.

"The story?" Castle asked, bewildered. He'd never known an actual cop who cared about the story before. That usually only happened in his books.

"Why those people?" Kate asked, "Why those murders? Why those books?"

"Sometimes, there is no story," Castle added darkly, though in his heart he knew it wasn't true, he wanted answers to those very same questions, "Sometimes the guy is just a psychopath."

"There's always a story," Kate replied. "Always a chain of events that makes everything make sense."

Kate had offered him an opening, though he'd hoped it hadn't been necessary. He didn't really want to hurt her, he wasn't that sort of guy, but he'd done his research on Kate Beckett in databases he was certain the detective didn't know existed. If this is what it took to push her away so she'd leave him be, then so be it.

"If that were true, my dear detective," he began, keeping his tone light and jovial, "then under normal circumstances, you should not be here. Most smart, good-looking women become lawyers, not cops and, yet, here you are. Why?"

"I don't know, Rick," Kate replied smugly, not realizing the trap she was falling into, "You're the novelist. You tell me."

"Well, you're not Bridge and Tunnel," he began, starting with the basics to draw her in, "no trace of the boroughs when you talk, so that means Manhattan. That means money. You went to college. Probably a pretty good one. You had options. Better options. More socially acceptable options. And you still chose this."

It was clear that Kate still thought she had the upper hand. She thought she knew him, but she really didn't. He knew how to go for the jugular when he had to. She was about to get an education in how much of a bastard he can be, even if he did hate himself for doing it

"That tells me something happened," he continued, clearly getting her attention. "Not to you, you're wounded, but you're not that wounded. It was someone you cared about. It was someone you loved."

When Kate's smug facade began to melt away her expression softened and her bottom lip began to quiver, it was clear he'd struck the nerve he'd been looking for, "And you probably could have lived with that, but the person responsible was never caught."

His conscience finally caught up to his mouth when it appeared that she was on the verge of tears. He'd had more, could have gone further, but it was clear that he'd done enough and needed to back off. He could be a bastard if needed, but he wasn't a monster, so he chose to stop rather than carry out his psych warfare to its natural conclusion.

"And, that Detective Beckett, is why you're here."

"Cute trick." Kate replied, her voice wavering, "But don't think you know me."

"The point is," Castle replied, yes, there's always a story, you just might not like it when you find it."

"Like it or not," Kate replied, finding her control again, "I think I just did."

She showed him a letter on the yellow paper from a legal pad. The scene from "Flowers For Her Grave drawn on it in careful detail, scrawled with handwriting clearly written by a man in the throes of a manic episode. Their encounter almost forgotten in the moment of discovery of a clue, their eyes meeting with the same grip of nearly electric excitement, before Castle dropped his gaze.

An hour later, Kate was sitting at her desk, on the phone with the crime lab, most over her responses monosyllabic and some peppered with sotto voce expletives. She'd shown Rick where to sit earlier , went to the ladies room to gather up her composure then returned to find him sitting quietly when the lab had called, his eyes apparently taking in the objects littering her desk while she was on the phone, including her mother's elephants. It was clear that he was avoiding eye contact with her again. She hung up the phone a moment later, her expression unreadable. Castle wasn't sure if it was good news bad news or a combination of the two.

"Lab's got lifts off the letter." She announced.

"Did they say whose?" Castle asked. Since it was clear that despite his best efforts to drive her away she had no intention of letting him off the hook until this case was over, he would need to at least try to get with the program.

"The system's backlogged," she replied with a shrug, "it'll take a week to run a match."

"A week?!" Castle asked. This was unacceptable to him, he could not be out in public for that long. Steps would have to be taken to get this wrapped up.

"Welcome to reality, superstar." Kate snarked back.

"Well, time to open you up to a new reality." He replied, taking out his secure cell phone before slipping away from them to a more quiet corner.

"Open channel D" he muttered into the phone. Though this was the real world, not "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." he hadn't been able to resist that as his code to unlock the more secure options on the direct line to his handler.

Though it sounded for all the world like a conversation with a receptionist he was actually transferring information from his phone to the secure server it was attached to.

"Man's got the mayor on speed dial," Esposito muttered to Kate, "The rich really are different."

When Castle returned to where they sat, he offered only a single terse explanation for his five minute whispered conversation.

"You'll have your prints in an hour."

"Mr. Castle? Half of the guys here are waiting for prints; you don't just jump the line." Kate sputtered, shocked. "We have procedure. Protocol."

Before the conversation could go further, another detective stopped in front of her desk and stated,
"Beckett. Mid-town, they just found another one."

Beckett and Castle stepped under the crime scene tape and into the apartment complex swimming pool where their next victim was discovered, floating face down in the middle of the swimming pool in a yellow prom dress, a knife sticking out of her back. The two of them whispered in near perfect unison,

"Death Of A Prom Queen"

"Maintenance found her an hour ago," Esposito noted, "Kendra Pitney, she lives in the building."

"All right, let's get her out of the water." Kate ordered, Um, Castle, stay here, and don't touch anything.

Once the crime scene photos were taken, Kendra Pitney's mortal remains were removed from the pool, the knife was collected and placed in an evidence bag. Kate was busy talking to some of the other detectives and uniforms doing the canvas and initial interviews as Rick slipped closer and knelt directly across the body from Lanie Parrish - who was busy checking the victim's hands and taking scrapings under her fingernails - until she finally noticed he was there and cleared her throat.

"Richard Castle," he offered without offering his hand, knowing she couldn't reciprocate the gesture, "I was called in to consult on the crime scenes."

"Richard Castle, the author?" Lanie asked, clearly not impressed with the idea of a civilian at her crime scene

"Once upon a time, on my better days" he replied.

"Lanie Parish, medical examiner," she offered, finally putting the name and face together and gushed, "It's a shame you aren't writing anymore, I love your books. You have a real gift for the details of death."

"I thought I told you to stay over there?" Beckett asked, showing more irritation than she actually felt. Inside her heart leaped at the thought that he might actually be getting interested in the case. Clearly his daughters' assessment had been right on the mark.

"You wanted my help," Castle replied diplomatically, "I'm helping."

"You got a C.O.D.?" she asked Lanie, settling into her role as lead detective.

"Not until I do the full exam," Lanie replied, "but it certainly wasn't by stabbing or exsanguination."

"Lack of blood around the wound and in the water" Castle noted without prompting, "suggests she was dead before it was inserted. No foam around the mouth, so she wasn't drowned."

"Oh, you're good." Lanie offered before prompting him to continue.

"Yeah, she was killed first then brought here and posed, just like the others."

"Yeah, I know," Kate stated, "Can I have a word?"

When she'd pulled him far enough from the body, and her friend the medical examiner, she said
"When I give you an order, I expect you to obey it."

"Then you don't know me very well," he replied, "not to mention, in my book the dress was blue."

"Don't try to change the subject." Kate stated coldly, as much as she wanted Castle involved, she didn't like having her authority questioned.

"Did Tisdale and Fisk know each other?" Castle pressed. He didn't have time to play personalities. As much as he appreciated Beckett's tenacity, he didn't have time to play games. If he was going to have to help solve this murder to get back to his life in exile, than that was what he would do.

"We haven't found a connection. Why?" she asked.

"What about motive?" he asked again.

"He's a serial killer," Kate shot back as her cell phone rang "he doesn't need motive "

She pulled out her cell phone and answered it

"They got a match off the print. Kyle Cabot. He's in Brooklyn. We got him."

As the group walked up the stairs to Kyle Cabot's apartment, Kate wheeled around and pressed a hand to Castle's chest as he moved to follow them, his hand reaching for a sidearm that wasn't there.

"Stay here," she orderd.

"Scout's honor." Castle replied, knowing he had no intention of keeping that promise. Other than the motto, Boy Scouts didn't last long in the teams or in the CIA. They tended to play fair and that could get people killed. They either learned to adapt or they were out.

Kate and the other detectives put on their body armor and waited quietly at his door till Kate got the signal that ESU was in place on the fire escape to keep him from going out the window before Kate pounded on the door.

"Kyle Cabot, this is the NYPD! Open the door!"

Kate kicked the door in and entered

As the rest of the NYPD tactical unit cleared the room, Kate noticed the book covers and newspaper clippings on his living room desk, she pulled one of Richard Castle's books off the shelves to find scrawled drawings on the pages and manic writings in the margins, clearly Castle's worst nightmare of a fan.

"Beckett, you gotta see this." said one of the other detectives, walking through the door to reveal Cabot's shrine to all things Richard Castle.

"I was never a scout." Castle stated behind them in a harsh whisper, making Beckett jump slightly.

Kate did her best to pull him away from his perusal of Cabot's the wall mural, his eyes wide with both guilt and horror as Esposito lifted up a blouse likely belonging to Allison Tisdale, along with a small caliber handgun. Moments later they heard a loud banging coming from the bedroom closet. When the door was yanked open, Kyle Cabot was found inside pounding his head against the wall.

Beckett tried for nearly an hour to interrogate Kyle but he wasn't speaking, in fact it was all she could do to keep him from pounding his head into the wall. Her heart and her mind at war with heach other. He met the profile for their killer to a tee, but something felt off.

"He's still not speaking," Kate stated with irritation when she walked out of interrogation room one, "State medical records indicate he has pervasive developmental disorder."

"Well that explains his fixation with me," Castle replied, "PDD sometimes manifests as an obsession with a single subject."

"Yeah, well, your super fan also has a history of delusions," she replied before turning to Montgomery, "Guess who his social worker was."

"Alison Tisdale." Montgomery replied.

"Yeah," Beckett replied, "Her files indicate he was on some pretty heavy anti-psychotics"

"Limited intelligence," Montgomery recited, ticking on his fingers as if nailing Kyle Cabot's coffin shut with them, "thinks he has a personal relationship with his hero, looks like the profile was right, Detective Beckett."

"So, what? That's it?" Castle asked, as much as he wanted this to be over, he wasn't sure if he wanted it this way.

"What more do you want?" Montgomery interjected, "Evidence is in his apartment, we can connect him with all three victims. Two from the diner where he worked, and Tisdale was his social worker. Call the D.A. Get him legal aid."

"This is too easy, too neat," Castle replied, not believing he was the one saying it. "There's something more going on here."

"It's not one of your books, Castle." Kate offered, "We find a guy standing over a body with a gun, he's usually the guy who did it."

Castle, however thought differently. He had studied the profiles of too many killers with this man's condition for his books, for that theory to wash. Too many of the little details in the crime scenes were obviously wrong. Details Cabot - if he'd done it - would have obsessed to near distraction over getting precisely right. Everything would have been exactly like it was in his books. No deviations, no shortcuts. He knew they had the wrong man, that the killer was still out there.

The question he kept asking himself all the way home was: Could he live with himself if he simply walked away and let an innocent man go to prison for three murders while the guilty party walked free?

Kate Beckett walked into the precinct the following morning to find Castle sitting at her desk, looking through the files in her "out" box. She'd written up her DD-5's the night before and had waited to sign them until now. Something about what Castle had said before Montgomery thanked him for his help and showed him out kept whispering in the back of her mind. She needed to silence them before she could sign her name and walk away.

Castle - up until last night anyway - had just wanted to get this whole thing over with so he could go home and be left in peace, had insisted something was off, even though it meant being dragging this out even longer, resonated with her and she'd chosen to leave her signature off and sleep on it.

When she cleared her throat he nearly jumped out of his skin.

"Why are you still here?" Kate asked while Castle was getting his breathing back under control. It was clear that he was incredibly uncomfortable.

"I... uhm... just came by to give you this," he said, pressing a rather nice looking gift box into her hands. "A little something to memorialize our brief partnership and apologize for hurting your feelings the other day. When I saw you weren't here I was looking for a post-it to leave you a note."

Castle seemed to find his composure at her dubious expression, her gaze flipping between the box in her hands and his eyes.

"Don't look so suspicious," he added, "go on, open it."

Beckett opened the box to find a copy of Storm Fall inside.

"I got you one of the nice, high gloss ones we were giving out at the press event, even signed it to you," he muttered sheepishly. "Not that you're a fan."

Kate had heart palpitations. She'd meant to go to the party to get her copy signed, hers had come by private messenger along with her invitation to the event, which was why security had no idea a cop had turned up at there. She'd used the invitation from the drawing she'd won on the Black Pawn website.

"Thanks," Kate said when she found her voice, "that's actually kinda... sweet."

"I don't say this very often anymore," Castle said, for once meaning every word, "but it was nice to have met you, Detective Beckett."

With that he kissed her on the cheek and walked out the door, Kate's eyes following him all the way out, with a shocked expression on her face. When she regained her composure at his sweet gesture and the chaste kiss on the cheek, her brain returned to the tableau she'd witnessed just before she announced herself. Her pens and post-its sitting very clearly next to her phone where she always kept them.

"He didn't, he wouldn't." She muttered as she rifled through her out-box files, "Oh, he did!" she nearly shrieked indignantly before picking up her desk phone, but he'd already made it out of the building before she could have him stopped.

Castle was sitting in a private room in the New York Public Library looking over the files from the three murders, photocopied sections of the crime scenes from his books scattered about the table with scribbled notations in them denoting the inconsistencies with the crime scenes. They were all so sure they had the right guy because of the arbitrary rule of thumb that three such killings meant a serial killer. That it had to be somebody of "limited intelligence" like Kyle Cabot. So sure in fact that they had overlooked things Kyle would not have.

The Tisdale crime scene had been elaborately staged and carried out, while the other two had appeared to be half-assed. Serials rituals tended to get more organized, not less with each killing. If Cabot had targeted his therapist – the only person trying to actually help him – he would have killed her last and gotten every last detail of the scene exactly right. Including the type of rose petals, his description of the scene had been quite specific.

So laser precise was his focus on the case files and his notes, he took little notice of his surroundings. (He had been a very dedicated analyst after his active field days came to a screeching halt and the CIA was deciding whether to retire him or not. Bad intel could get field operatives killed, so he'd been detail oriented nearly to a fault. His supervisors had occasionally had to remind him to stop for meals) Caste hadn't noticed the angry clacking of high heels across the hardwood floor until Beckett was nearly upon him.

"Richard Castle," Beckett barked, making Castle jump, "you are under arrest for felony theft and obstruction of justice."

"Obstruction implies that I intend to subvert justice, not see to it justice is done," Castle retorted, "I really thought you were different."

"You know, for a minute there, you actually made me believe that you were human," Beckett shot back, nodding to the uniforms flanking her, "Cuff him."

"How did you find me anyway?" he asked while they cuffed and searched him, he'd been very careful about turning off his cell phone.

"I'm a detective, that's what I do." She replied.

"Alexis told you, didn't she?" he asked, then added his parting shot as they led him away, "By the way, the rose petals in the Tisdale murder were grandiflora not hybrid teas."

"I'll make a note of it." Beckett replied, too angry to really hear him.

"If finding the real killer is really that important to you, then you probably should," he shot back, "since it means Kyle Cabot is innocent."

After nearly an hour sitting in lockup, the cell door finally swung open to reveal a uniform who lead him back out into the squad room, to be met by Captain Montgomery, Detective Beckett and Alexis 'who should have been on a plane to London two hours ago' he thought to himself.

"Thank you officer," Montgomery stated to the uniform, indicating for him to release Castle from the handcuffs after which he was hugged by his daughter.

"Hello, Father." She whispered before burying her face in his chest.

"Hello, Daughter." Castle whispered into her hair as if seeing her, truly taking her in, for the first time in years.

"They have agreed to drop the charges," Alexis whispered, "if you agree to behave."

"No more interference with this case, Mr. Castle," Montgomery scolded, "Do we understand each other?"

"Yeah," he replied, "but you still have the wrong guy."

Shortly after Castle and his daughter were escorted out to their waiting town car, Kate found herself sitting at her desk staring at the murder board, which she had only half succeeded in taking down, mulling over what he'd told her told her for the first time and finally seeing what he was trying to tell her. Realizing for the first time that she'd nearly done to Kyle Cabot what Detective Raglan had done with her mother's case. Taken the easy way out by pushing all of the pieces into a box too small to hold them...all because she wanted to show up her favorite author.

"Nah. No-no-no, don't tell me he got to you." Esposito exclaimed when he saw her staring at the murder board like she always did when the pieces didn't fit, looking over Castle's notes.

"Please, he didn't get to me," 'Liar!' the little voice in her head exclaimed as she nodded at Allison's photo on the board. "She did."

"Who?" Esposito asked, "Alison?"

"Marvin Fisk, first murder," she began, ticking on her fingers, once more sounding like her instructor at the academy, "Kyle knew him from the diner. Then he kills Alison, his social worker, and then he kills Kendra Pitney, also from the diner."

"So?" Esposito asked, still not buying it

"So," she continued, "he starts with a murder of convenience, escalates to a murder of someone he knows very well, then goes back to a murder of convenience. It doesn't make any sense."

In the towncar on the way back to the loft from the precinct, Castle is explaining to Alexis what he'd found so far. Though Alexis feigned irritation at having to bail her father out of jail, she secretly rejoiced. This was the most present and animated she'd seen her father in years.

"Somebody set up Kyle to take the fall," he muttered, "Somebody, who knew enough about his fixation with me to use it to get away with murder. That means we're not looking for a serial killer, we're looking for a good-old-fashioned murderer. Someone with motive."

"You think the victims were somehow related," she replied, playing along. If this is what it takes to truly get him back, she thought to himself, then let him have at it.

"Detective Beckett would have found another connection between them by now," he replied, "Now, if we're talking an A-B-C style series of murders, the killer would only have wanted one of the victims dead. He would have killed the other ones just to cover up the crime,"

"How do you get away with one murder by committing two more?" Alexis asked, confused.

"With one murder you look for motive," he replied. "After the second murder, you look for a connection. After three, you look for someone like Kyle. You don't need a solid motive because serial killers don't usually have one."

Meanwhile at the precinct, Kate continues to lay out her reasoning to Esposito.

"Castle's right," she admits, "If a guy like Cabot was trying to follow his books, then the roses on Alison's body were wrong, Fisk should have been suffocated by a plastic bag, not strangled with a necktie, and Kendra's dress should have been blue, not yellow. For an obsessive, like him, it would have been impossible not to get the details right."

"Well, if it wasn't him, then who was it?" Esposito asked.

Meanwhile in the towncar, stopped at an intersection:

"The killer had to have known both his intended victim and Kyle fairly well," Castle continued. "The only victim that had any real knowledge of Kyle's obsessive condition would have been Alison Tisdale.


"Alison's the key," Kate replied, "she's the one the killer is trying to hide."

"As far as we know," Esposito offered, "she wasn't seeing anyone and none of her other case files fit the profile."

"Well, somebody had to know something about her." she insisted

Back in the towncar, turning onto Broome Street

"So if the killer found out about Kyle through Alison," Castle theorized, "then Alison must have been the intended target. Somebody wanted Alison dead. I just have to figure out why."

"Dad," Alexis snarked, only half joking, "If I have to keep bailing you out, I'll have to move back home and you're going to have to raise my allowance... by a lot."

The next morning in the Manhattan office for Jonathan Tisdale, Castle checked his look in the mirror finish of the tinted windows before walking up to the reception desk, noting one of his books sticking out of her purse on the coat tree behind her desk. He wasn't exactly business appropriate, but he had made himself presentable after a long night of database and Google searches. It was clear when she looked up that she recognized him but tried to hide it.

"Hi, I'm Rick Castle," he said, using his best book signing smile, "I have an appointment to see Mr. Tisdale."

"Yes. Mr. Castle," the receptionist replied, not even needing to look at the calendar on her blotter, her smile a little too bright, "He's expecting you."

"Is he, now?" Detective Beckett asked, flashing her badge as she walked past the reception desk. The smug grin from the other day back on her face.

"This is not what it looks like...this..." Castle spluttered as she walked past him to Jonathan Tisadale's door, "Okay, this is exactly what it looks like, but I can explain."

Kate stopped and half turned to see Castle still rooted to the spot in front of the reception desk.
"You comin'?"

Kate had asked the standard questions about possible enemies, both hers and his, but had come up dry, only Castle kept pushing, kept asking questions she had thought about, but rejected, about his finances, his will, things she hadn't thought pertinent at the time. The man had just lost his daughter and she didn't want to push too hard. She'd been on the other side of this discussion once upon a time and knew how badly it hurt. She couldn't understand why Castle was so dogged, so willing to press the man, however.

"What was that all about?" she asked.

"He's dying," Castle noted, he'd seen the signs before, knew how to assess people who tried to hide things from him. One of his sources when he'd been active had been in the same boat as Tisdale.

"Who's dying?" Kate asked, incredulously, "Tisdale? What makes you think he's dying?"

"See those pictures in his office?" he offered by way of explanation. "He's much thinner now. Sick thin, not work out thin and the way he kept touching his hair, like he's self-conscious.

"He was wearing a piece?"

"It's a good one," Castle noted, "better than most, but it's new to him. Chemo must have been relatively recent. He was wearing make up."

"So he's got cancer, that doesn't mean he's terminal." she shot back.

"But it would make a much more sense if he is." he noted, "You interview the brother?"

"There was never a reason to." Kate replied, trying to hide her embarrassment that she hadn't covered all of her bases, which wasn't like her. 'If Raglan had been more diligent, mom's killer would be behind bars'

"Well, now there is."

On their way back to her cruiser after they had interviewed Harrison Tisdale, who had seemingly alibied out, his passport doing all of the talking for him, Castle was crestfallen. He was certain it had to be Allison's brother. He had motive, means, access to the victim, even knew Cabot's history because of Allison's attempt to get the man a job so he could afford his meds. Everything fit until until he showed them his passport and it's visa stamps showing he had been out of the country.

"I was sure it was him," Castle sighed

"Oh don't take it so hard," Kate offered, shooting him a reassuring wink when the boys weren't looking, she had seen him brighten up more in the last few hours than she'd seen since she'd showed up at the launch party. "After all, you're just a writer."

"What?" Castle asked, not able to process the mixed feelings she was giving him.

"Oh, come on," Kate stated. "Of course he's lying. I get him knowing where he was the night of his sister's murder, but the other two victims? He didn't pause. He didn't ask for dates. He didn't even check his calendar, but he was ready with an alibi. In my experience, innocent people do not prepare alibis."

"So according to his credit card, Tisdale was out of the country." Ryan reported after they had returned to the precinct.

"Which means the passport stamps were forged." Kate replied.

"I'm going to call passport control and have them check the logs." Esposito stated.

"I'm sure they will come back one hundred percent legit," Castle noted, the conversation now turing back into his own area of expertise, "That's not how he would have done it."

"You got a better idea, Rick?" Kate asked, not sure she liked here this was going.

"Second passport," he replied, "under an alias."

"And how would he get one of those?"

"With his money?" he asked rhetorically, "Trust me, on the black market it'd be a piece of cake."

'Little does Beckett know I have eight of them for me alone. One at the loft, two at the house in the Hamptons and six more along with as many for Alexis packed with a go bag in a locker at Heathrow International in London." he though to himself.

"So he leaves the country on his own, comes back with the other passport, commits murder, flies out and then comes back in on his own."

"Perfect alibi, if you don't look to closely, the perfect murder…" Castle starts but is interrupted.

"…But almost impossible to prove..." Kate adds

"Unless you find the second passport." Castle finishes, both of them staring into each others eyes.

"He's gotta be freaked after your little meet and greet," Ryan offers

"Keep eyes on him." Kate orders, "If he moves, I wanna know."

"This guy killed his own sister in cold blood and two more people to cover it up." Castle said as Kate picked up her phone and dialed an outside line, "He's either a world-class sociopath or there's a lot more to this story than just money."

"Judge Markway, please." Kate stated with cool professionalism.

The police cars pull up to Harrison Tisdale's apartment complex. Kate's Crown Victoria stopping cleanly at the curb before she sprang out to take command of the scene

"What have we got guys?" she asks.

"Get this," Ryan offered, seemingly very pleased with himself, "junior's business is going under; he's tens of millions in debt."

"With his sister's share of the Tisdale fortune," Castle added, "he stands to pay off his debt and then some."

Before Castle can get out of the passenger side of her car, Beckett grabbed his wrist and handcuffed him to the grab handle above the car door.

"This time you're staying put," Kate stated with a smile before heading up to Harrison Tisdale's apartment door, flanked by uniforms.

"Harrison Tisdale, NYPD! We have a search warrant!" Kate shouted, pounding on his door.

"Just a minute." Tisdale shouted from the back of the apartment.

"Open the door, Harrison!" Kate bellowed, "Open the door. It's NYPD. We have a warrant!"

Castle had dispensed with Kate's handcuffs in less than three seconds after she was out of sight, when he saw Harrison Tisdale descending the building's fire escape, clutching a trash bag and gave chase. He had come to far to let the man get away now. He speed dialed Beckett as he moved.

"He's coming down the fire escape."

"He's out back." Kate husked after the door was kicked in, "Cover the front."

She climbed out the window and onto the fire escape just in time to see Tisdale running down the alley with Castle in pursuit.

"Castle! No!"

Castle had slowed down and come around the corner when he felt the 9mm semiautomatic pressed against his ear and the clacking of Kate's heels coming louder before she rounded the corner.

"Stay back! Stay back!" Tisdfale shrieked as he backed away, pulling Castle with him. "Don't come any closer."

"You okay Castle?" Kate asked, trying to get a clean shot as Tisdale, but Castle was too big in comparison.

"Yeah," Castle replied, his voice ice cold, "except psycho here needs a breath mint."

"Shut up!" Tisdale shrieked again

"So what is it Tisdale?" Castle asked coldly, anger boiling from deep within, "You asked your dad for money to save your business and he said no?"

"I was trying to make something of my life and all he cared about was her!" Tisdale spat.

"That's why you killed her, isn't it you son of a bitch!" Castle hissed, "It wasn't just the money. You wanted to punish him before he died, destroy the only thing he loved."

Kate didn't see the dangerous change in Castle's demeanor, the deadly calm that settled over him just like it had right before he'd pulled the trigger twice into the back of Sophia's head.

"Do you have any idea what I would do to have one more day with my mother? What I would give to have my family whole again, if only for a single day?" Castle said without a single shred of human emotion, "And you threw yours away over greed and petty jealousy."

Kate Beckett couldn't possibly have known that this was the same reason Sophia Turner had given for killing his mother, making Alexis watch her die, and then left her alive. So that he would have to watch his little girl suffer, that she would live out the rest of her life with the image of her grandmother bleeding to death in front of her because he hadn't been smart enough, or fast enough, or good enough to save her.

He wasn't punishing Alexis by sending her away to England to go to school, he was punishing himself for his failure as a father to protect his child.

"Who are you?" Tisdale asked incredulously just before Castle exploded into action. Kate never saw it coming, her eyes wide as saucers at how quickly Castle turned the tables.

His elbow shot back into Tisdale's sternum, just before his other hand snapped up and twisted the pistol from the man's grip, noting for half a second that the safety was still on before tossing the pistol aside and pivoting into Tisdale. It took him less than a minute to ruthlessly, savagely take the murdering bastard apart, dropping with a punch to the sternum, then a knee to his face, sending him sprawling into the garbage bags near the fence.

Castle dragged Tisdale to his feet by his collar, stood him against the wall by the throat and cocked his fist back to deliver the killing shot, only to find a hand in the crook of his elbow, bringing him back to himself.

"Don't, Castle," she whispered, "he's not worth it."

Ryan and Esposito surged around the corner moments later as Kate was cuffing Tisdale. Somebody would have to read him his rights after he woke up in the ambulance to be checked over.

"What happened to him?" Esposito asked, to which Kate merely shrugged her shoulders and handed him the gun in an evidence bag.

"Tisdale got the jump on Castle and he defended himself," Kate stated softly, watching Castle as he spoke to his daughter on the phone a few feet away, his expression almost serene. "damnedest thing I ever saw."

Kate had waited, leaning against the door of her Crown Victoria while Castle gave his statement to the uniforms and to Internal Affairs. She'd had to answer a few hard questions herself in the wake of the Harrison Tisdale arrest. Most notably how she had permitted a civilian to be in harm's way. Though it was clear that he'd won them over. Not an easy feat.

When he'd finally walked back her way, she straightened up and stepped forward to meet him.

"Well, guess this is it." Castle said. "I'm finally free to go."

"Well, it doesn't have to be," Kate replied, "We could go to dinner. Debrief each other."

"Why, Beckett? So I can be another one of your conquests?" he replied, making Kate blush and bite her lip, a hint of mischief cracking through the veneer of his ennui.

"It was nice to meet you, Castle."

Smiling, she turned and walked away with an extra sway in her hips as Castle watched her go with an odd look on his face, just before a small smile creased his lips, the first genuine one in a very long time.

Later on in his apartment after he'd called the headmaster of Alexis boarding school to let them know she would be late returning to school due to a family emergency, he sat down on the couch with his laptop and started writing. The words rushing out of him with little or no effort for the first time in years.

Two weeks later
12th Precinct Homicide Squad

Kate poked her head into Captain Montgomery's office. She had just finished filling out her paperwork on a standard pop and drop that had been more Ryan and Esposito's speed than hers when he had called her inside.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" she asked.

"Yeah," he stated clearly, "I just got a call from the mayor's office. Apparently, you have a fan."

"A fan, sir?" she asked, her brow crinkling in confusion.

"Richard Castle." he replied, "Apparently he's started writing again and it seems he's found the main character for his next set of novels. A tough but savvy female detective."

"I'm flattered," Kate replied to this revelation, doing her best to school her rabid fangirl reaction.

"Don't be." Montgomery replied, his eyes full of mischief, "He says he has to do research. He did help solve this case. And when the Mayor's happy, the Commissioner is happy, and when the Commissioner is happy, then I'm happy.

"How long, sir?" Beckett asked.

Montgomery nodded over Beckett's shoulder to indicate Castle, now sitting on the chair next to Beckett's desk, a wan smile of anticipation on his lips that sent a chill up and down her spine. She knew that he was still rather vulnerable, and closed off, but she would do her best not to quash his first attempt to come in from the cold of his self-imposed exile.

"That would be up to him."

**Author's Note** I am going to forgo my usual author's note to address the very disheartening news we all received this past Monday morning. I think as fans we all feel a certain outrage about ABC's decision not to renew the contracts of Stana Katic and Tamala Jones. To have Castle return next fall without both Castle and Beckett makes no sense to me either. But, aside from my usual retweets and postings I have chosen to throw my support behind an effort suggested by Airbefore on Tumblr

There are few things more integral to the Castle and Beckett relationship than coffee. Now it's time we take our love the them and their love coffee to the next level. By sending coffee sleeves to ABC's California offices, reminding them that a world without both Castle and Beckett simply does not make sense. You can buy multi-packs of blank coffee sleeves on Amazon or the sleeve off your morning coffee.

Please keep your messages are short, coherent, and positive. (no angry rants or threats please, they will be counter productive) Please remember: This is a coordinated effort to show ABC that we fans are dedicated and invested in keeping #Caskett intact. Please do not rant, or engage in bashing of anyone on the cast and crew. This will do us no good at all

Some suggestions for messages



a short, positive note on what Beckett and/or the B/C relationship means to you

Package your sleeves up and mail them to the California ABC headquarters:

Disney-ABC Domestic Television
500 S Buena Vista St
Burbank, CA 91521
Attn: Ben Sherwood, Channing Dungey or Patrick Moran

We can do this, guys. Let's go!