She's so beautiful.

I know, I don't usually swing that way, but Beckett... maybe it's like the celebhomo crush, you're allowed to have feelings if you know they'll never be touchings... . I'm not all that wrapped up in the flavor of the people I love. I figure the best thing I can do is enjoy the ride. This one hurts a little more than I'd have expected.

It should be Castle I think about, though he's not really my type either. Handsome enough, but I wouldn't say 'ruggedly.' Needs some scars, more time out in the black. Or less emotional plastic surgery: you can't ever tell what he's been through, too busy talking you into something. I'm not sure he knows what's hit him yet, though I'm told a fellow-sufferer sees these things sooner. But I like watching him watching her. Sometimes he looks like he's proud of her, what's she's made of herself – I figure those are the times he's seeing Nikki Heat. He's got nothing to say about who our Beckett grows into. Or maybe he just likes seeing someone who could be one of his heroes, heroines, whatever, in real life. In front of him. Flirting with him.

I say I don't care, and most of the time I don't, but I would like to know that sometimes – ever -- she was looking at me with that speculative, sizing-up glance. I see her looking at Castle when he says something intelligent sometimes – those occasional times when a remark, an idea comes out when he's not waiting for her to notice how clever he is. Which I can't blame him for wanting her to notice. To give him credit, I think he likes having someone who can tell him he's not really all that cool. Someone he can believe.

I don't stand out very much. I'm more effective this way, but who doesn't like to be a star in their own story, some of the time? If she'd look at me that way, I'd be a star for long enough. I hope she doesn't see how I look at her. Ryan's had an idea, I think, but he's decent enough not to ask.

Unless someone is speaking, Beckett doesn't look very long at the rest of us. She focusses on whatever she's doing. I know if I showed up with a broken heart or a sick relative I would get at least that, her attention and her caring and her intelligence, whether there was anything she could do or not. She does have a corner of her heart for the relatives of the vics, but that comes with a side of 'By the way, you were where at the time of the death?' I don't think most of them notice that.

And she's not really comfortable when someone goes into hysterics; actually Castle is better with them. Maybe having his mom -- a legitimate drama queen, makes a living on it, more than I can say for some people I know – has given him some practice at being calm around the crazies. Maybe that's one of the things he likes about Beckett. I've seen her about as sad or angry as I'm ever likely to, and the damage is very controlled. Calm on the outside, anyway, these days, even when it's bad.

She is so beautiful.

The kind of work we do, I don't think you can help but love your partners, not that anyone is comfortable saying that. Hell, we're cops, we are the store where you go to buy some Tough. Mixing the men up with the women is kind of neat. It seemed at first like the 'men' thought they were getting mixed up with the 'boys,' some guys wanting to prove the women were sissies, some women not sure what they were if they weren't so damn cute they were useless. Revolting combination. One of the things I like about Beckett is she can do macho with the best of the hard-asses – do I mean the worst? Anyhow -- but you know that's kid-stuff to her. Always has to have her tough guy badge on so people will take her seriously, so she can get what she wants done, the same as anyone. But she balances it. Her 'soft' side is strong compassion, the kind any man I'd like to know, that I'd want to be, would want to have; and no one ever says she isn't up to the job. Unless they're idiots; we do get some of those.

It's not easy, being tough but decent. I think we watch each other, try to do what we'd want the people we admire to see, to do what we want to see them do. It kills me that it's all a work in progress; I want to just have it done, sometimes: the character is BUILT, thank you. Now I'll just play it out, be good to the people in my life and faithful to the person I think I am. And I saw Beckett try it that way more than once. Can't blame her; we all have stuff in our lives, but having your mom stabbed out of a clear, white-bread, entitled, educated, blue sky is more dramatic than say, a childhood deciding when to stop putting up with it, when to start standing up for yourself, and where to stop before you end up in jail. More drastic, actually, and even if you've had the tasty balanced emotional food to Build Strong People Twelve Ways, as well as dental insurance and prep school -- the safety net – I don't know that you get the same practice at knowing when to quit, what to fight. Maybe I just know a bunch of smart, lucky poor people, like my parents' families. I don't think Beckett had ever met a brick wall before her mom died, and that kind of background did her no favors. I wasn't right there while she was dealing with her mom's case, but I saw her around, and I knew something was going on. She had a few close friends – very few, and as she got crazier she had fewer. There were, as always, people crashing and burning at the same time, and those of us who have been fortunate so far – note, I am not saying I will always be one, protect me God – didn't want to be too close, get dragged under. But she stopped in time. We watched her get the wind back under her wings; she drifted a little while, which beat the hell out of the power dives; then she just kept pulling it together. She came out understanding that whatever she was made of, there would still be brick walls. A piece of common sense many of us have had since grade school, but whatever. You still have to learn to recognize 'em.

So we have watched her gradually learn to live with brick walls; seen her try, very carefully, to help some people with their own brick walls. A grown-up, if you like, but such a proper good girl still. That explains Sorenson. Half the department thought that was a match made in heaven, two really fine pieces of design and engineering who would have little children with straight teeth and straight A's. I was not enchanted by him. I'd noticed I felt more than a little protective of the Beckett by then, yes, yes I know about jealousy, and no, it wasn't just that. Give me a little credit. But I never thought either of them realized how lucky Sorenson was to have her on his arm, which was why he never understood that she had a life of her own. I don't think he quite understands yet why she wouldn't choose him: he's such a 'good bet.'

And Beckett is too proper to admit to herself how boring it would be. At least she noticed in time that he came first whenever 'they' made plans, at least when it became too obvious to miss; she saw him as he portrayed himself, a fish-twice-a-week, meat-and-two-veg. guy. I don't think she had believed he would do something dumb. But she knows her value as a detective. Moving from place to place, following him away from the networks and the town she knows would be bad tactics. And they both liked being good cops. Whether he loved her like she deserved didn't come into it, until, maybe, after the bad tactics. Hell, I'm not altogether sure that's come into it yet. Sorenson said he loved her, so obviously he loves her. If it's not a love that does much for her, I doubt she allows that to matter either. Low expectations? I don't know if she was any more madcap before her mom died or not, but Detective Beckett cares about staying sane, and Sorenson... is sane. Not an out-of-line type guy. Completely the opposite of the more recent arrival.

I was afraid I'd see her break back into pieces last spring, when Castle came up with that about her mom. Of course we heard about it. We thought Sorenson had taken a bad turn at first, or her father or something. Castle even tried to keep his mouth shut for awhile, to give him credit, but we found the new information had been added to the file about Beckett's mom. I just had an idea to look there when we saw Beckett and Castle, separately, looking like – well, he looked liked his best friend had just died and she looked like she was ready to send him after. So Ryan idly asked him if he'd seen the new info and Castle about changed species and finally said he'd put it there, please not to discuss it with Beckett. So we haven't. One of us did ask her why Castle wasn't around much and Beckett just said "Breach of trust," daring anybody to ask whose trust about what. I have been wondering if any of the other vics' relatives would know a connection with Mrs. Beckett; no one has ever asked them. Which is something to think about, and I am. If we run into any of them, I will mention it, no matter what kind of five-hundred watt stare she'll give me. Being a cop is important -- even Castle thinks so.

He's not so bad. He's used to hearing what a catch he is, but he knows those people are just looking at the very shiny surface he likes to flash around. Whether it's from hanging around with phonies or trying to write people you can believe in, care about, he watches the crowd. When he noticed Beckett – really noticed, paid enough attention that he stopped needing everyone to pay attention to him -- I think it slowed him right down. He listens to her more than he used to. I'd never have thought being a pain in the ass was a good way to get her attention, but maybe that's what it took to get her eyes off her business. He makes her think about her life. Somebody that outrageous who is obviously besotted by her is a new combination; he's not 'by the book' but he's still forced her to take him seriously. No wonder she studies him.

And no wonder I study her.