She heard the yells when she was being escorted to his office. Everyone heard the screaming.

She can feel the air of nervousness and tension from here, sitting in a small, uncomfortable plastic chair outside the door to the director's office. No one knows what it's about, but everyone is smart enough to know it's about her, just another faceless nobody in a sea of nobodies in a profession where you're meant to be faceless. Everyone makes an impact of some sort here. It's not always meaningful, never credited to the person responsible, and almost never the impact people think they are making.

She was just trying to do the right thing.

With another barrage of shouting coming muffled through the door to her right, she sees the secretary eye the door with the same twinge of fright and nervousness she has. She pretends not to notice and flicks her eyes back down to her lap, to her perfectly creased black slacks and the binding white fabric of her blouse, rolling her shoulders to adjust the shoulder pads in her blazer. Once the one-sided yelling stops after a few seconds, the phone on the secretary's desk lets out a shrill, quiet ring.

The secretary pokes her headset, "Yes, Sir?"

Her neck craned, she peeks over to watch her reaction.

"Right away, Sir." The secretary says and pokes the side of her headset again as she quickly looks back down to her lap. "Agent Beckett?"

She looks up with a lift of her brow, pretending as if this meeting is nothing out of the ordinary.

"Director Williams will see you now."

Beckett musters up a feigned smile and presses her sweaty palms down onto her thighs as she stands. Clearing her throat, she makes for the door. She pauses as she grasps the long, cold handle and tries to stop the nervous gallop in her heart, the sickening churn in her stomach, and the weakening cold sweat that's washing over her entire body.

She was just trying to do what's right. Just like she always has.

After a few long seconds where she's sure that the secretary is judgementally watching her, she cranks down on the handle of the door and pushes it open, striding inside with one long, here-goes-nothing stride. Her neck craned, she looks ahead to the large wooden desk that sits in the center of the large office, with the director standing at the windows that make up the entirety of the back wall.

He has one hand on his waist underneath his suit jacket and the other hanging down by his side, holding a manilla folder. "Sir?" She announces her presence to him as she gently closes the door, cranking down on the handle again to make as little noise as possible, wanting to sound as small as she feels.

The director waits until the door is closed to look over his shoulder to her, sending her a deathly cold glare. She feels her throat close, knowing the look is one of someone who's about to make her entire world a living hell.

And with a quick second of retrospect, he might be a little late.

She shoos the thought away like a dust mite and quickly strides through the center of his office, her eyes locked onto the carpet as she approaches his desk between the two chairs sitting in front of it. Director Williams lets out a long, frustrated sigh as he turns around, takes his hand off his waist to run over his balding head and for a moment, she thinks he'll go just a bit easier on her than she thought.

But when he raises the manilla folder above his head and slaps it down onto his desk as forcefully as he can, she jumps. She gulps passed the rock in her throat and clasps her hands together.

"You were told..." he hisses through clenched teeth as he pushes his jacket back at the bottom to plant his hands on his waist, "to back... off."

"Sir, I-"

"What part of that..." he shouts at her, leaning over his desk, "did you not understand?"

Beckett pauses for a long moment to see if it was a real question or not. When all she feels is his eyes bore into her, she gathers her voice again. "Sir, Abdalla gunned down an innocent woman. I couldn't just-"

"No!" He spits at her, making her swallow the rest of her rebuttal. "You didn't understand."

"Sir, Hassan Abdalla murdered someone in cold blood and being an enforcer of the law, I couldn't just let that go. When he drew on me, I had no choice." She finally takes her chance to defend herself. After another tense few seconds, she looks up to the director to see his expression hasn't changed, just keeps coldly staring at her with his knuckles pressed into his desk. "I did what I was trained to do and I put him down."

The director lets out another huff through his flaring nostrils and leans back off his desk.

She takes his silence as an opportunity to continue to justify herself. "And to be honest, Sir, I don't understand why this is-"

"Hassan Abdalla," he stops her in a calmer, but somehow more imposing voice, "was an undercover intelligence asset."

Beckett's heart shrivels and her blood drains, feeling her life drain from her entire body. Because she knows there's only one way she's leaving this building.

"He was as an Isreali agent on loan to us for a joint operation into the terror cell that you and your partner were ordered to help track down."

Her throat shakes intensely for a second but she's quick to push it down. "Sir, that doesn't justify him..."

She trails off when the director puts his hand onto his computer screen and turns it toward her. When she looks at it, she sees the same surveillance footage she saw that sent her to track the killer down in the first place. Abdalla on the left of the video, the woman he gunned down on the left holding up her hands in surrender. "Tell me what you see, Agent Beckett." The director orders as he plays the video by clicking the space bar on his keyboard.

The video plays and she watches it again, seeing the muzzle of Abdalla's gun flash three times and the victim fall to the ground. "I see Abdalla fire his gun three times, killing Nancy Jenkins... Sir."

"Look..." he trails off and pokes a few more keys on his keyboard, making the video zoom into Abdalla's gun, "again... Agent Beckett."

The video plays again and the muzzle flashes, but when the zoomed-in video plays... she knows. "There's no recoil." She answers with wide, cold eyes, as the last of her life drains from her body.

"I'm not sure how you got this job without knowing that blanks don't give off recoil, Agent Beckett." He seethes through clenched teeth.

"But..." she tries, her dry eyes finally blinking as her head shakes. "But the woman went down... there was blood at the scene." She says and looks up to the director for answers. "I saw the body, Sir."

"The woman in the video was a junior agent working undercover." The director answers, stone-faced. "And the body you saw was of a young girl that died of a drug overdose and had no one to claim the remains."

The air gets pulled from her lungs at that. She doesn't know if it's because she's here for pursuing justice for a victim that wasn't even murdered... or if it's because she took this job eight months ago thinking she wouldn't be asked to see doing this type of thing as right. "Sir, I didn't-"

"You weren't supposed to know!" He shouts again, pounding his knuckles on the surface of his desk. "You were told," he continues, pointing at her, "to back off. A direct order from a senior agent should have been enough. But because you wanted to play vigilante, not only do I have the head of Isreali intelligence demanding answers, all leads we had on the terror cell have vanished."

"Sir, if I was just told that he was undercover..." she starts pleading with a desperate shake in her voice.

"There were four people," he shouts again, "that knew of his existence, Agent Beckett. The identity of an intelligence asset is on a need-to-know basis!" The director lets out a huff and after a few seconds of staring at her, he shakes his head and paces back toward the windows. "You're a field agent for the AG's office." He insults her, turning back around with a wave of his arm. "You think you're entitled to know everything, what, just because you came from some New York homicide division?"

"No, Sir, I-"

"You follow orders, you investigate what we tell you, and if you're told to back off of something, it's for a damn good reason!" He shouts, picking up the manilla folder again and slamming it down.

The director shakes his head again while Beckett swallows and looks down to the floor. After a tense moment of complete silence with the director facing out the window, she manages to speak. "What happens now, Sir?"

"Normally," he signs and turns around, sending her the same cold, angry glare as before, "I'd have you arrested for treason and whatever else I could think of for screwing up an operation this badly."

Beckett feels her whole world collapse on her when that's mentioned. The rest of her life, spent in a windowless, concrete room because she was trying to do the right thing.

"But..." he continues after leaning off of his desk, "I've been told that... given your record with the NYPD and... given the circumstances... to let you off easy."

Beckett swallows thickly but doesn't let herself relax at the thought just yet. "Easy, Sir?"

The director sighs deeply and flips open the manilla folder in front of him and flicks something out of it to the edge of his desk. "What's this, Sir?" She asks after reaching forward.

"A plane ticket."

She takes the ticket in her hand and flips it open. "New York?"

The director turns back around and crosses his arms. "You're fired."

Her heart quivers in her throat, feeling a very odd mix of intense relief and heartbreaking shame and loss. She had her whole life staked on this job. She gave up everything for this job.

She gave up... absolutely everything.

Feeling her eyes burn coldly, she nods and turns to make for the door. "And Beckett," the director stops her after she takes a few steps. She turns to see the director glaring at her. "What I just told you is still classified. You tell anyone, it will mean my letting you off easy will mean nothing."

Feeling lifeless and beaten, she nods and turns back to the door. "Understood, Sir."

She opens the door, that seems much heavier than before, seeing her partner waiting for her at the door by the secretary's desk with two large agents behind her to escort her out.


Alexis should be home from class in a little while.

The neighbors across the street are supposed to come over and have dinner with them. It's a Friday after all and Greg wanted to break in the brick barbeque he just finished building himself a few weeks ago. His wife is nice and easy to talk to. Greg is a pretty decent guy. Alexis seems to like having actual neighbors. They're good people.

That's why he stayed out here. Everyone's just... good people. Everyone is always nice and friendly. They know him by name now.

Castle lays back in the living room on the couch, his legs crossed and his feet propped up on the arm, his eyes closed. There are certain times when he just likes to lay back and listen to the quiet. Getting out of the city made him realize just how noisy it is. He has the same realization whenever he used to travel out to the Hamptons. That was always his favorite part of going out there. But here, it's something else that drew him.

After a few more minutes, Castle feels her nuzzle her nose curiously against his neck, them up to his ear. He chuckles with a smile. "Hi, Sasha."

She lets out a small whimper into his ear and he feels her breath start fanning off his cheek.

Castle opens his eyes with a smile, staring at the ceiling. "Alright, fine, come on." He nods his head over.

Without any hesitation, Sasha jumps from the floor onto his chest, scrambling wildly to get comfortable on his chest. Castle laughs as he pets his hands into the thick fur of his dog and wrestles with her until she's lying sprawled out in his side in between him and the back cushions of the couch, her tail tickling his bare feet as it wags excitedly.

"You're just convinced you're a lap dog, aren't you?" He asks his German Shepard, Collie mix. She answers by moving her head back until her snout is pointed straight at him, her face hidden in the crease of his arm. Castle laughs and rubs her chin. "Yes, aren't you?" He plays with her, scratching her rib cage.

Castle relaxes back into the couch as Sasha settles down, now just casually running his hand up and down his dog's side, starting to zone out again.

He never asked Alexis to follow him out here. But when she told him that she'd decided to transfer to OSU, just a forty-five-minute drive or so, he wasn't going to pretend not to be happy. And she seems really happy out here with him, just the two of them. Well, three counting the large, mostly fur, dog laying sprawled out half on top of him.

"Alright, come on." He tells Sasha, patting her side as he starts to lean up off the couch. Sasha takes her cue and jumps off him and back onto the floor, shaking out her fur as Rick sits up.

The jangling of keys and the turning of a doorknob makes Sasha let out a single bark before Castle looks through the window on the door to see the familiar flare of his daughter's hair. And right as the door opens, Sasha knows who it is and starts to whimper excitedly as Alexis puts her keys down onto the table by the door and leans down to pet her. "Hey you."

Castle smiles and notices Alexis holding a magazine, but pays it no mind. "Hey, pumpkin." He says and stands up.

"Hey, Dad." She smiles over to him as he comes over to her to kiss her on the cheek.

"What's the magazine for?" He asks casually as he turns to head into the kitchen, Sasha by his side.

"I picked it up when I stopped for gas on my way home." She tells him as she follows. "I thought you'd want to see it, if... you haven't already heard."

"Heard?" He asks, pulling open the fridge to grab a bottle of water. "What am I suppose to have heard about?" He continues, twisting the cap off and taking a drink.

Alexis stands on the other side of the island in the large, spacious kitchen and puts the tabloid on the surface, pointing at the article headlined in the top corner.

Playboy Richard Castle in hiding? What caused the writer to disappear and where he is now REVEALED!

The picture is of him, head down and sunglasses on, in an open flannel shirt and a grey t-shirt underneath, walking out of the local grocery store. "Hmm..." He says and goes over to the trash can to toss the cap away.

Alexis turns to follow him, curious. "You're not worried about it?"

"Nope," He smiles over to her and places another kiss to her cheek to reassure her that all is well with him. "It's in the past."


A/N: Lucky for you guys, I got bored with Borderlands 3. Ever want to read a story that genuinely has Beckett chase after Castle for a change? ;)