Sometimes Castle just wouldn't shut up.

Not when he needed to, not when he was asked to, not when he was threatened. Not even, as she discovered during those first few months working together, when he had a gun to his head. Though they both knew she was never really going to shoot him. He didn't know she wasn't above cold cocking him. Just to get a little peace and quiet, because after a year, she couldn't escape the endless random pattern of Castle's chatter even when she was alone.

In her apartment, she would run over the day's events, trying to solve a murder, or replaying the case she had just closed, Castle always giving a running commentary in her head, offering a few more wild ideas, sarcasm flowing from her own thoughts but in his voice. Even now, when he re-read any of his older work, read the new Nikki Heat novel, the stories were told in his voice, he read the books to her. Not that she'd ever admit any of this to him, or anyone. It was her little secret, one of many, and oddly comforting. Which just made the whole thing worse, and made her even angrier when in the real world, he wouldn't. Shut. Up.

At night, alone, in her apartment and away from him, Beckett had nice thoughts about Rick Castle. She liked him, thought he was a good guy, handsome, sweet at times. Alone, at night, she risked thinking about him in this positive light, despite all his arrogance and annoying habits. Alone, at night, she risked thinking about the fact that she actually liked Castle, admired him, cared about him, was a little attracted to him. Just a little.

She was definitely never going to admit that.

Not that it mattered, because most of the feelings evaporated during the day, when they were actually together and he wasn't shutting up and her patience was wearing thin and she was getting ready to shut him up. Hard.

The thought made her grin, and it made him pause mid-story telling, made him forget about his wild theory of Mafia protection and look at her for a moment.

"What's so funny?" he asked, looking at the murder board, where her attention had been, trying to see what she saw. She didn't see anything though, the pictures a blur, her own handwriting unfocused. "Beckett?"

He was quiet now, and she found that a little uncomfortable for a moment.

Damn him, the two Castles, the good and the bad, were beginning to merge in her mind. Which was a probably a good thing for her mental health.

"I was thinking about knocking you out so I can concentrate Castle."

"You want me to be quiet? I can be quiet," he said, and she smiled again. "Quiet as a mouse, a mute mouse, picked on and outcast by other mice, but starts a gang of other outcast rodents in a bid to-"

"Castle!" she snapped, standing up straight and glaring. "You need more practice at being quiet. And drink less coffee."


"And never write children's stories."

He laughed and her glare softened into another smile, as she relaxed back a little. Later, alone, she would think about this, be amused with his theories, almost delighted by the sound of his voice and his smile.

Until then, she was going to try and solve a murder, that had nothing to do with protection rackets or rodents, and try not to put Castle in the hospital.