I just wanted to mention that I wrote this before the Will Sorenson episodes, so I just had a random guy in mind. I don't care for Will, but I agree that he seems neither the adventurous type, nor does he seem vindictive or malicious to me. You never know, though. Right? I guess we will find out what is up with him next season. Yay!

I was finishing up a beer when she finally came out, in a tee shirt and jogging pants, and carrying my jacket.

"Thanks for this . . ." She held the jacket out, almost shyly, and very obviously uncomfortable with the whole awkward situation. ". . . and for getting here so fast."

I took the jacket from her, and fiercely fought the urge to smell it to see if any of her unique scent still clung to it. I decided instead to just put it back on, pretending that none of this was having a very strange effect on me. "Sure, what are friends for, right?"

I eyed her curiously as she sat down next to me at her breakfast counter. She did not seem overly enthusiastic about filling me in on the details, but I noticed that she had not made a move to kick me out yet, so I gestured at her with my nearly empty bottle. "Can I buy you a beer?"

She rolled her eyes, and I handed her a beer out of her refrigerator. She twisted it around, playing with the label. "Mr. Wonderful thought it would really turn me on to play the part of the victim. He thought I would find it extremely pleasurable to participate from a different point of view."

"Did you tell him he was creepy?"

She seemed thoughtful, and determined to avoid direct eye contact with me. I wondered what was going through her mind. "The creepy part is, he is not somebody I just picked up at a bar and brought home. We have been spending a lot of time together. I never considered him the creepy type. He's spent the night. I've stayed at his place. We've had normal sex."

"You say that like it's a good thing. If the best adjective you can come up with to describe sex with somebody is normal, then he's not doing something right."

"You've got a point." She surprised me with an embarassed laugh. "I guess I have a new adjective for sex with Stephen then."

"Right . . . creepy. Wait a minute, I thought there was no sex.... What exactly happened after he handcuffed you?"

"Nothing happened, at least nothing after one strategically placed kick." She looked very on edge as she paced across the kitchen, and then to the living room, where she flopped herself down on the sofa. "It's very late, and we have to work tomorrow . . . ."

"Are you trying to throw me out? That would be unacceptable at this point because, you see, I have an overdeveloped imagination, and I am just wondering about a couple things."

She sighed, and finally turned around to face me. "Like?"

"First, given that your range of mobility was . . . severely restricted, how were you able to place a strategic kick?"

"Come on, Rick." She only used my first name when it was laced with sarcasm, and this time was no different. "You've made a few remarks about my handcuffs yourself. You've presented a few scenarios of your own. Just use your imagination, and put yourself in his shoes."

"Thanks, but I'd rather not." That was a slap in the face I didn't see coming, or in my opinion, deserve. I had to think about it a minute to make sure I was being completely truthful. Could I see myself in his shoes? The cuffs are, without a doubt, a very intriguing addition to her allure, and sure, in the spirit of fun and playfulness, I wouldn't turn down the opportunity if offered. Could I see myself taking control, forcing the idea on her? Absolutely not, even if it started out in fun. It actually took a lot less than a minute to confirm that some lines should never be crossed. "There is a difference between good natured teasing, a little healthy fantasizing, Kate, and attempted rape."

"Attempted rape? You're letting your imagination carry you away again, Castle. Besides, you helped yourself to a good, long look in there. Did you see any obvious signs of a struggle?"

That was another low blow. She wasn't pulling any punches. "OK, fine. Maybe I am way off target here. Maybe the cuffs were your idea. You changed your mind, and he backed off, forgetting to unlock them before he left. I doubt that's what happened, but I'll concede that it's possible."

I thought I was getting through to her, when she opened up the table drawer, and pulled out a fresh pair of handcuffs. She leaned close, so I could feel her breath against my face, dangling the shiny contraptions between us. "Do you want to test your theory . . . see how plausible it is?"

"Again, no thanks." She was quickly ruining the allure of one of my favorite fantasies. I took them from her, and placed them back in the drawer. "The thing is, Kate, I heard your voice. I saw your face. You're a cop. I don't have to explain to you what attempted rape is."

I could see the crack in her facade for just a moment when she looked up at me with wide, smoky eyes. I could see that what happened shook her, and she wanted to open up to me. I was sure of it, but just as quickly, her mask slipped back into place, and she looked away. Opening up about her fears and vulnerabilities is not what Detective Beckett does. That is why I was not surprised when she, not so subtly, tried kicking me out again.

"OK, I get the hint, but I have something to say first." She sighed. I ignored her, and went on. "You are a cop, but that's not who you are, it's what you do. It may be a huge part of who you are, but you are a woman first, a human being with feelings."

She didn't say anything at first, and I was pretty sure she was going to laugh at me and then finish throwing me out of her apartment. Instead, she agreed with me.

"You're right. I do forget sometimes that I am more than just a cop, but like you said, it is a huge part of who I am." There was a long pause, and I wondered what possessed her to actually admit to agreeing with me. "Cops do not get raped."

"Whoa, wait a minute. I think you are leaving out something very important....attempted, right? As in, tried and failed." I watched her silhouette, as I waited for her to confirm what I believed was the truth. She was obviously struggling to come to terms with what she was feeling.

"Whatever, Castle. It's all semantics. The facts are, cops do not get chained to their own beds, with their own handcuffs. If anyone finds out about this, I would have no credibility left, at all."

She could not have picked a single word that freaked me out more. I grasped her shoulders, and turned her to face me. I needed to hear it straight. I mean, I'm pretty sure I knew, but I needed it verified. Like she called me on earlier, and I say this very sheepishly, she didn't have a mark on her . . . anywhere. She would have fought him, violently. I am sure of it. "'Whatever'? How can you say that? That one word, attempted, makes a huge difference. With it, it just means that he was another jerk with an agenda, and you didn't let him get away with it. Without it, it scares the hell out of me, because I don't know what comes next." I have a habit of spilling everything that is in my brain into words. Being too honest really can be a curse.

She tried to pull away, but I slid my hands down from her shoulders, and held on to her forearms. I needed an honest answer, and if she let me look in her eyes, I hoped I could see the truth. Her voice was barely a whisper. "I told you. There was no sex. He did not rape me." She shook her head, looking away from me. "Why am I telling you this?"

I felt the breath I didn't realize I had been holding escape my lungs. I was relieved, but she looked anything but. "Because, you know that I care. You know that, sure, I can be a jackass occasionally, but you can see through it. You are telling me because you know I would want to help by imparting some of my vast knowledge on you . . ."

"Don't push it, Castle."

"Too far?" She nodded, and I went on. "You are telling me, because you know we will hash it out, argue about it, reason it out, and leave it behind." I hugged her, tightly, and probably longer than was necessary. "OK, now for the wisdom. First of all, saying that cops are not victims of sexual predators, is like saying pilots do not get in airplane crashes . . . or doctors don't get the flu . . . or writers don't ever . . . ."

". . . come up with bad metaphors?" She raised her eyebrows at me, and smiled, and my heart melted.

"Very funny, but you get my point, right? It doesn't make sense. Second, you didn't let him get away with it. Even though he had you at a disadvantage, you came out on top . . . so to speak."

I let go of her, and she settled back into the sofa cushions. She was quiet for a minute, lost in her thoughts. Suddenly, she stood up, holding out a hand for me, indicating I should take it, and follow her. "You should probably go now. I'm exhausted, and like I said, we have to work tomorrow, . . . " I took her hand, and she guided me up from her couch, but she didn't move to let me pass, or to let go of my hand. ". . . but I have two things to say first."

I suddenly realized how unsure of herself she looked, standing there holding my hand with unshed tears in her eyes, making them shine. I stroked my thumb across the soft skin of her palm. "OK. I guess it's my turn for a lecture?"

"First of all, I want to say thank you . . . for being a good friend, for coming out here in the middle of the night, for helping me put everything in perspective." She touched her hand to the side of my face, and brushed her lips across my cheek. My breath caught, and I felt the electric tingle all the way down to my toes. I shook my head, and directed my attention back to her when I realized she was still speaking.

"Secondly, I want to apologize. You're right about coming across like a jack ass sometimes, all shallow and smarmy, but you are one of the good guys. I just want you to know that I can see that, and those things I said earlier . . . . I didn't mean any of it. I'm sorry. I really am."

I was still holding her hand, and I lowered my eyes, lifting it toward me. "Thanks, I think, but let me tell you something, Kate." I kissed the back of her hand, letting my lips linger for a moment longer than I should have. "You really need to work on your compliments."