Quick notes: NOT a finale fix in the classic sense. Spoilers for 2x24 (A Deadly Game) and definitely the end of season 2, but everything's pretty much fair game as far as this is concerned. It fits in the Castle timeline after 2x24.

There and Back

One: Emotional Trigger

Katherine Beckett had been the tender age of twenty-one when her mother was taken from her. Since that day, she'd focused on becoming two things: strong, and independent. Both had been largely forged out of necessity, the independence because of her father's coping mechanism of alcoholism and the strength because her father couldn't be. She didn't begrudge the man his flaws, but there was no doubt in her mind that it had shaped the person she was now. At thirty-two, Detective Kate Beckett had both independence and strength in spades.

Which was why it made absolutely no sense to her as to why she was wallowing.

July had brought with it a sweltering heat wave – and she'd studiously avoiding using the term and would have killed half of the force with her glare when they used it – and the final nail in her proverbial emotional coffin. They'd had one of the roughest cases of Kate's career, long, drawn out and brutal and she'd been utterly exhausted when she'd finally turned the key to her apartment. Things had largely gone downhill from there.

As a general rule, Kate wasn't one to wallow. She didn't sulk, she didn't pout, she sucked it up and moved on. She'd been doing it for over a decade now and she wasn't about to quit. This, the open half-finished bottle of wine on her coffee table, the scattered tissues, her mother's blanket that she only pulled out during the odd flu and the ever rarer weak moments, and the tear-jerker movie were not things she did. She beat her emotion out with a punching bag, she ran until she couldn't see straight, she cleaned until her apartment shined. But for the first time, she'd felt like doing only one thing, and that was wallowing.

June had been a hard month. Part of her had anticipated it, part of her had dreaded it, and part of her had been mad at herself for feeling both of those. It was stupid really, the reason it had been hard, because Kate firmly believed that emotionally investing yourself and your happiness in another was not only a big sign of weakness – though there was definitely a feminine, romantic part of herself that vehemently disagreed – but a blow to independence at the same time. As a woman who had carefully cultivated both, she held back from emotional commitment of any sort with a fierceness that would scare a lioness protecting her cubs. That wasn't to say she hadn't done it – after all, her relationships with people like Montgomery, Esposito, Ryan and Lanie were testaments to the fact that she could and did – but this one, this…

God, she didn't even know what to call him. Castle. He'd broken down her independence without even realizing it, made it easy to give some of her emotional well-being to him. She hadn't thought it was possible, especially after he'd gone rooting around in her mother's case, but she'd slowly started trusting him again. Then it had all started falling apart. Ellie Monroe had been the beginning, the moment that while Kate seemed determined to ignore the emotions that simmered under the building trust, Castle had started moving on from them. She'd been stung when he'd started sleeping with her, then royally pissed off when the actress basically admitted to sleeping with someone else to get a role. She hadn't wanted to be right that time and there had been a part of her that had been hurt when she was.

But that didn't stop the protective instincts from kicking in. He was dangerous, emotionally more than anything else, because Kate's protection of Esposito or Lanie in the same circumstances would come off differently than it did for Castle. As long as she'd tried to deny it, it had become more and more difficult to say that she hated the man. But somehow, he'd managed to stay out of the 'friends' category she'd all but forced Esposito and Ryan into from the first moment of meeting them. Beyond the fact that she didn't want to get involved with her teammates, Kate protected herself first and as a result, her first instinct was always to try and put a man into either the 'friend' category, or the 'superficial relationship' category. Never anything deep, never anything emotional.

Castle hadn't gone willingly. In fact, he'd managed to keep himself out of the 'friends' category with a skill and precision that, had she been looking at the situation – both past and present – clinically, would astound her. Every time she tried, he'd pushed back, forcing her to reveal more of herself, forcing her to expose things that even Lanie didn't know. And really, he'd done it without her knowing.

Then he'd walked away.

Granted, Kate really couldn't blame him. Esposito had been right and she'd seen it long before. She wasn't blind or stupid, and she'd caught the tension between Demming and Castle. She'd studiously ignored it, half of her hoping they would just deal with it – because Demming was so much safer than Castle and never asked of her more than she was willing to give – and the other half hoping that they'd come to some sort of medieval duel over it. Over her. But neither of those things had been the eventual outcome and, after too long, she'd finally made her choice, gathered her courage…

Then he'd walked away.

She sighed as she set her wine glass on the table, glaring at it. If it wasn't for the case, if it wasn't for her sudden need to just curl up and cry, Kate was certain her thoughts would never have gone down the trail they were. Then again, after his departure, she'd become that strong, independent detective again, the take-no-prisoners hardass cop that had gotten her where she was today, that had made her the effective force to be reckoned with. She'd never given herself time to think about their actions, his and hers both, hadn't given herself time to consider things at all angles and it was only after her mind had drifted through the entirety of the case they'd just wrapped that she'd even considered letting her mind wander down that pitfall-laden road.

And it had only done that because the little traitorous part of her brain had whispered that the case wouldn't have been half as hard if Castle had been there.

She hadn't been lying to him when she'd told him she'd gotten used to him pulling her pigtails, nor had she been lying when she'd admitted that having him around made her job just that little bit easier. It had been too weird to build theory without him, too odd to do interrogations with Esposito and Ryan, so much so that as the case wore on, she either did them herself or had the boys do it together. Even going down to Lanie's for autopsy reports and lab results had felt weird without him pestering her the whole way down. It was only as the case wore on that she'd finally admitted to herself that she truly missed him.

That pissed her off for a while, irritated her to no end because it spoke of the emotional attachment. It had taken her a few days to absorb how much she missed him and find her even keel again. Thinking about him hurt and that moment had come as a surprise. It had dredged up the pain she'd buried deep, much like Castle himself had done when he'd presented her with the new findings on her mother's case. And it had been that moment that Kate decided she was going to have to deal with it. So she did the only thing that even after years still worked, the one thing her mother had always said helped.

She curled up in her mom's blanket and waited for the inevitable cry-fest.

But she'd been sitting there, on her couch that still didn't smell right, in an apartment that still didn't feel quite right, with nothing. She'd done everything she could think of, watched every sappy movie in her collection and still, there was nothing. Yet, when her phone vibrated across the coffee table, she growled, grumbling about Montgomery telling her to take time off then calling her in. But it wasn't a phone call. It was a text. A text from him.

Her hand hovered for a moment, finger poised over the button that would send the message to her inbox where she could simply delete it, but she couldn't seem to bring herself to do it. She'd had a hard day, a hard month, and as much as she hated to admit it to herself, the fact that he'd texted her, even after so long apart, made her feel just a little bit better.

She was shocked when she opened it to find a picture of a sunny beach, a towel spread over the sand and the water lapping at the frayed edges. The message was simple and straightforward, but held so much more meaning than even he probably knew.

Wish you were here.

And the strong, independent Kate Beckett burst into tears.

I was missing Caskett, and this came to me - literally this scene - while I was in the shower.

As Xleste can attest to, I've been throwing around the idea of this in my head for a little while, I just couldn't seem to get a grasp on where I wanted to go with it. But I've figured it out. Which makes me happy.

And, not to avoid terrible reviews or garner sympathy, a lot of Kate's thoughts and reactions in this come from personal experience. Sometimes, as much as you don't want it to, only one person can cheer you up on a bad day - or in this case invoke the tears she's crying - whether you want it to be them or not. I've been there and it's such an annoying brat to deal with. Pair that up with the inherent need to cry every once in a while, even the strongest of us, and this is what you get.

There's going to be more. This is to tide me over until I can start posting Hamptons because I've been dying to write Caskett again.

So while you review, I'm going to go write the next part. I like that deal.