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Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by my story. If you navigate away from this page before you've finished reading, gypsies will eat your soul. Thank you. ^^ XD

So, I know I normally don't do the type of fics that speculate what happens in an episode before the episode actually airs, but, I could NOT help it with this one. As soon as I saw the spoiler pics for 3x13 "Knockdown" - and noticed that ninety percent of the discussion about it all revolved around Caskett while totally ignoring that Rysposito were in trouble - inspiration hit like a mac truck.

Therefore, what you are about to read is my idea of the events of episode 3x13, focusing on Beckett's reaction to the boys' capture. I do not own Castle in any way, shape or form, even if this somehow ends up being what really does happen in that episode (which it won't - but I'll be damned if Esposito and Ryan get ignored, dangit! XD ). Just consider it an alternate version, I s'pose. I tried to work in/explain all of the relevant spoiler pics, completely made up the villain's name, etc. Hopefully it'll put y'all on the edge of your seat - and it IS A ONESHOT; there are no more chapters. Sorry. XD

Before you ask: no, I didn't include the kiss. Too much pressure to make it awesome. We'll assume that's in a different part of the episode. However, there WILL be some definite Caskett moments. ;)

Anyhoo. Carry on. No further ado.

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"Bull. I don't believe you. I don't care if I have to take this to the mayor; I want answers!"

Kate Beckett never lost it that way on the job. At least not to her fellow officers of the law. But, then, there was nothing usual about tonight. Nothing - including the fact that she'd left thirteen unanswered voicemails to the two of them. Thirteen. Over eight hours.

Something was definitely wrong.

The uniform sighed. Though she was usually the type to pride herself on being personally efficient, Kate couldn't even remember the officer's name. Right now, in the heat of the moment - Castillion pun ignored - he was faceless to her. "We didn't find anything at their apartments, Detective Beckett, I told you, that's the best we can do. Our resources are thin."

Hers weren't. Bitterly, she scoffed, "Too thin to protect New York's Finest? Isn't it supposed to be like watching out for your own ass? You seem to do that just fine." With a short roll of her eyes, she mowed right over his attempt to speak. "What did you get from Jenny?"

"Jenny..." he blinked.

For God's sake, she didn't have half the patience to deal with this. "Kevin Ryan, half of the team you're looking for, he's got a live-in girlfriend, fiancée, whatever. She's with him, she'd know anything there is to know - did you bother to think to talk to her?"

"Ah. Relax, Detective, my people did, and we didn't get any - "

She cut him off. "What about Dr. Parish?"

"Dr...? I don't see how her witness is relevant, Detective."

"You don't see how...? Oh, forget it, it's like there's no use in me even talking right now, I'll call her myself - has any family contacted yet?"

"No, Detective. Probably because they aren't as medicated as you seem to be."

"Well what about call histories, suspicious entries, flat tires, a magazine out of place, I don't give a damn! The littlest thing out of the ordinary - "

"Detective Beckett, I'm sorry. I don't know what else to tell you. You seem to want answers I do not have to give you. And frankly, you know as well as I do that we can't be wasting our time. Us cops go off the radar in spurts all the time, especially in twos; it's called work. At this point and time we can't be sure anything's even wrong at all."

It took every muscle in her body to fight the urge to slap him across the mouth. "I can," she gritted out. Unable to keep a lid or censor on anything else she had to say to him, she turned on her heel and stormed out of the officer's presence. She didn't care what he said; she didn't give a damn what he thought of her, or of her protocol. She knew them. She knew them like brothers, she knew their every little mannerism, quirk, and skill - anything that could be picked up by close observation - and she knew that she'd trained them well.

When she called, they responded. They always responded.

Stopping by her desk, Kate frustratedly jammed a fresh clip into her gun, locked it, and grabbed her coat up in a fist. The only thing that stopped her from double-timing out of the precinct was a surprising, gentle hand on her wrist from the side. Kate looked over, and there was Castle, full of concern.

"Whoa, hey, where are you running off to?" he wanted to know.

She didn't feel like explaining herself again or crafting a wall of backup to her theory. She just knew. Ryan always argued for statistics; Esposito typically sided with gut instinct. Beckett listened to both avenues as a rule, but this time, her gut was in a knot, and she knew that something wasn't right. "Esposito and Ryan are missing," she told Castle, not making eye contact, not even giving more logical theories a chance this time. "I have to go. I'm going."

Seeing the look on her face, Castle didn't have to ask if she was sure. Eyes widening, he jumped immediately on her bandwagon. "Where do we start looking?"

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"Start with the last known place they were headed," came Captain Montgomery's voice, filling the car on speakerphone. "I'm with you, Detective. Something here's not right, and I want it found."

Amen there. Beckett drove with a death grip on the wheel, and for his part, Castle stayed quiet unless spoken to, mostly, separating 'wiseass' from 'jackass' by understanding what was important. Kate had almost forbidden him from coming, but, when it came down to it, arguing for Castle to stay behind would have wasted time that Beckett wasn't sure her partners had. Instead, he was in her passenger seat...and, if the truth was forced out of her, Beckett would admit that she wanted him there. If not for her own comfort, then at least to have another brain at work on this. She would take all the sincere help that was offered to her. The rest of the world could get out of her way and go screw themselves, for all she cared.

She directed her voice back toward the phone and Montgomery's earshot. "I asked them to go talk to Otis Gershon again to see if anything new shook loose that could help convict his gang with Raglan's death. He's got them because he wants me." Knowing a man like Otis Gershon, he'd slit Ryan's and Esposito's throats if they didn't lead him to her. And, knowing Ryan and Esposito, they'd never talk. Kate focused on the road.

"Then that's where you go," Montgomery advised, thankfully cutting through her mental image. "Make him think he's getting his way, then bring him down before he makes things worse. I'm sending a team of backup to Gershon's warehouse."

Castle did speak at that point. "What kind of person could cop-nap Esposito and Ryan, anyway?" he mused, genuinely confused at the thought of someone being so risky. Or worse: so calculated.

"Someone big as D'Andre and fast as Jerry Tyson. Or a whole lot of 'em," Captain replied through the phone.

Beckett felt a bitter pang of realism. They made it sound like an impossible job to capture them. It wasn't, no matter how prepared you thought you were. Everyone bled sometime. Her tone came out short and jaded, her gaze locked ahead. "They're not infallible, Captain."

"No, but what they are is a military vet and a former Narc detective who are by no means new to what they do." Even through the phone, Montgomery's stern, commanding presence was felt in every word. "I gave them to you for a reason, Beckett: because with your skill, you deserved to work with the best of the blue this city's got to offer. And I know you won't disagree that they are." Beckett had fallen silent; Castle almost mute. "So I'm saying that you need to be prepared for someone who's fast, strong, and dangerous. I'm not any happier about this than you are. No, I'm angry. But we're gonna get those men home alive. Is that understood?"

For a moment, Beckett could only muster a nod, though she knew he couldn't hear. She knew a veiled pep talk from a threatened father figure when she heard it; his speech was just as much that as anything else. But she wasn't ready to let it work on her. Not until everyone made it home. "...Yes sir."

"Good. I want updates the minute you have any." With that, both sides ended the call, and Kate was left to stare vacantly at where she was driving. Castle was smart enough to let her be.

Scanning the address numbers under the passing streetlights, Beckett suddenly screeched the car to a halt, braking in front of their current suspect's last known hotspot. "There it is," she confirmed breathlessly, and in that moment, she was out of the car.

Beckett heard Castle's footsteps behind her all the way through the warehouse where Gershon did his finest torturings and killings. Where he'd tortured and killed Raglan.

The thought of associating her partners' names with that list made Beckett wish she had the time to throw up.

Stopping at a clear point, Kate wordlessly turned around and thrust her backup firearm into Castle's palm. He accepted it with one nod, and, adopting a face as stone as hers, they continued to advance, Beckett leading by a meter.

It was slow going; the two of them moving glacially as Beckett determined each area clear. For a while, there were only cement pillars and openness, making the building resemble an abandoned parking garage.

And then she heard voices ahead.

"...or have you had enough? Come on. Where's she at, Detective? Hm?"

Through coughing, another voice distinguished itself. "Go to hell." Ryan... Beckett's eyes widened as she shot a brief glance at Castle, craning again to see into the next room.

She'd found a view just in time. The man who had spoken first - Gershon, or one of his lackeys - twisted his face into a sickeningly angry expression that looked like it saw plenty of practice, and stepped forward. In one motion, in the space of a second, he grabbed a fistful of the back of Ryan's vest, clamped the back of his neck and forced him forward, underwater.

"I told you to leave him the hell alone - " Kate immediately recognized Esposito's voice, as angry as she'd ever heard it, but he was cut off, the rest of his crusade turned into a strangled grunt. She flitted her eyes all over the room to find him, and once she did, it wasn't hard to see why: he was on his knees, handcuffed, stripped of his gun, with another lackey tightening a rope around his neck. A third thug stood guard on the side.

The first still had Ryan underwater. "See, you'd think bright guys like you would have realized by now that we're a little picky when it comes to you talking," one of them was saying; it wasn't clear which. "Either say what we wanna hear, or keep your mouths shut."

"Newsflash, Hulk; you don't scare us," added another. "Soon as your little pal here breaks you can go nap in the Hudson. Shouldn't be too much longer."

The thugs laughed, but Kate was done listening. She'd already heard too much. Her entire pulse seemed to be emanating from her throat, and her whispered instructions when she turned to Castle were shaky, and barely audible. Yet she forced control. "Castle...I need you to fire at the middle one," she nearly begged, yet it tried to be an order.

"...Me? But - "

"Castle. I can only get an aim from here on the one who's got Ryan; if I shoot him without backup, the middle one's going to kill Esposito. I can react in time to take care of the third but not in time to get them both out of this. I need you."

The words hit him exactly as she hoped they would. Solemnly, vowing to do his best, Castle nodded.

She nodded back, just once. "I'm going to distract them; you re-position and get a clear shot." If anyone had thought she was afraid to save Jordan Shaw, they should see her now. Beckett couldn't even pretend to be brave - but she was damn well going to be silent, efficient and fast. She was going to end this. With a final 'okay' nod, she broke away from the author, weapon aimed, and vanished from the shadows into the light.

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Castle stared heavily at the gun in his hand. He'd fired at an actual person before, and sure, it had worked, but this time, everyone was counting on him, the whole team...what if he missed? What if he hit Esposito? How mad at myself will I be if this goes wrong; what if they get hurt…and how many ways could Beckett kill me…not that that's really important right now… And suddenly, he got a better idea.

Beckett had ordered him to get a clear shot, right? Well, good, because there was no better, more open place to get one than up on the rafter beams, and the ladder was within sneaking distance. Picking his way carefully over, Rick ascended the rusty fixture, one rung at a time, managing to reach the top without attracting anyone's attention. Yes!

With a level of stealth he'd only ever written about - and didn't know he even had - he crept along the beam, inching over the dividing wall and into the room. From here, he could see everything Beckett must've seen, only clearer. Esposito restrained like a dog; Ryan being pulled up from underwater, gasping for air. A deep frown etched onto Rick's face. Beckett was right to have worried.

Avoiding the urge to yell right now and cause a distraction for her to move in, Castle made himself remember the plan. Silently, he moved to a position of advantage, hoping against hope that he wouldn't screw it up.

...Oh, damn. The gun was jammed.

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"Drop him, Gershon!" Beckett's shouted command drew everyone's attention. The three criminals whipped her way with matching, shocked scowls, but held onto their charges. Ryan, fighting for his breath, twisted around to find her but was dragged back into place, and Esposito stared at her in horror, praying she had a plan that wouldn't end with her dead. "Now!"

Her bluff had been correct. The one with the hold on Ryan must've been Gershon himself, because he was the one who brushed off his shock to chuckle out a reply. "So. Looks like the lady knows what bait is after all. How've you been, Detective Beckett?"

"Peachy," she growled through her teeth.

"Funny. You look just a little...annoyed by something. Huh." Feigning surprise, Gershon gave a theatrical little gasp. "Oh! I know! These two must be important to you, aren't they?" He signaled the second thug with a single nod, who immediately delivered Esposito a hard kick to the ribs. The captive detective doubled over, and Beckett saw red. "Let's just be honest: which one are you sleeping with? Or is this like a workplace Three's Company thing?..."

He kept rambling, trying to get a rise out of her, but his voice had faded to a poisonous drone at the back of Beckett's subconscious. Every thought toward these miserable convicts turned blacker and blacker, and by the time she broke through into clarity, she was cutting him off with a yell. "Castle, now!" And she fired.

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Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap... Castle instantly pulled the trigger twice, but each time, the gun only clicked. He had nothing else to do. "Roll!" Without thinking, he vaulted himself over the girder and jumped down, directly over the second lackey's head. Esposito listened, snapping his body to the side just in time for Castle and the thug to come crashing down to the floor in a struggling heap.

Bang, bang - two more blasts from Beckett's gun immediately followed the first. Ryan ducked to clear her path, but he didn't have to. All three shots left reddening holes in Gershon's torso. Now it was his turn to gasp for air. And he did, stumbling backward, landing in the pool with a splash.

On his side, Esposito threw his leg out, sending his guardian's dropped weapon skidding out across the cement floor. He pushed himself to his knees, then to his feet, and shouted at the third guard, whose aim was on Beckett. "Hey! This way, fatso; c'mon, you been dyin' to shoot me for hours!"

It worked. Frustrated, the man twisted around in search of the voice, gun ready, only to be clipped by two bullets from Beckett's. One embedded in his shoulder, the other in his back, and he collapsed, blacking out from the pain. That left only one.

Castle had managed to grapple himself the top position. He'd taken a few punches, but he'd given some back while his opponent reached fruitlessly for a gun that wasn't there anymore. At this stage, the criminal was pinned beneath him when Castle heard the click of a gun being readied to fire. He looked up, pausing mid-punch.

There was Beckett, arms locked in front of her, hovering an aim on the guard's face. "It's over," she huffed levelly, getting her breath back. "You have the right to remain silent. Unless you wanna follow the leader."

"And you probably don't want that," Castle panted. Beckett retrieved her handcuffs, and he took that as his signal to stand up, so he did, watching her flip and book the man. "Since it's looking like he's pretty dead."

"Can I?" asked Esposito.

Beckett wasn't sure what he was asking for, but to hell with it; she nodded. "Absolutely." Without so much as a warning, Esposito took one step forward, drew his foot back, and nailed his captor in the ribs. Hard.

"Good dog," he said dryly, over the cuffed man's groans of pain.

"Turn around, I'll uncuff you," Beckett said, stepping over their fresh arrest. She moved behind him and, with a turn of her spare key, freed his wrists from his own handcuffs - an ironic way to be bound if there ever was one. She held the pair out to him on a finger.

Esposito took them back and re-hooked them to his belt, starting to untie the makeshift leash they'd put him in. "Get Ryan."

Beckett didn't have to be told twice. Or at all. She was already running to the other end of the scene, going down on both knees beside her other teammate.

"I..." His sentences were punctuated by water-induced coughing. "...shouldn't really be surprised that...there's no backup in here, right?"

"Hey, I resent that," Castle cracked, "I make excellent backup."

Beckett was already at work, pushing Ryan's wet hair off his forehead and ignoring the puddles she was kneeling in to make her key work in his handcuffs, despite the waterlogging. "There wasn't time to wait," she brushed off simply. Then, she looked up meaningfully toward Castle, just for a second. "Castle was all I needed." Moment over, she gave one last twist to the key, and the cuffs unlatched; she gave them back to Ryan as she helped him sit up straight. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." Ryan wheezed a bit with the effort of righting himself, but he nodded, and didn't appear to be hurt. "Bastards jumped us at the apartment; thought he'd use us to get to you."

Esposito joined them, hitting a knee beside the rest of his team. "Yeah, and technically it worked," he noted, glancing at Beckett. "Fifty bucks says Captain told you to wait for help."

"He didn't, not technically, because he knew I wasn't going to, and he wouldn't've either," she dismissed. "Anyway...thank you...for that save back there."

"Got your wing," was all Esposito said, giving half a shrug as if it was nothing.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm all right."

"What I wanna know," Ryan said, looking up at the writer in slight amusement, "is what possessed Castle to drop on the guy."

Castle grinned, sheepishly. "The...the backup gun was stuck."

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Two days passed, and everyone was either back to normal, or getting there. Jenny and Lanie had met them at the precinct when they'd returned to file their reports, rushing to their emergency-blanket-draped boyfriends and redefining 'PDA.' Captain Montgomery had warmly welcomed them home, a new pride in his eyes as he complimented Beckett on a job well done. And Beckett, smiling wide against her will, admitted that she couldn't've done it without Castle.

Now, all that was left was to sign on the dotted lines and put this case where it belonged. Away. Beckett sat at her desk at the end of the day, bent over a short stack of legal faxes with a pen in her hand. Determination was bugging her to have these done before the day ended, so she worked alone in silence, until a voice broke her concentration.

"Hey."

It was Ryan. Kate looked up. He was standing in front of her desk, hands in his pockets, looking down at her with puppyish eyes...and Esposito came to stand beside him, giving her a nod. If they didn't look so...well, almost sheepish, she would have assumed this was an intervention for something.

"Hey."

Esposito spoke this time, and he pointed toward the breakroom. "...Can we talk?"

Slowly, she rose, wondering what they were getting at. But she rose anyway, giving them back a nod. "Yeah. Sure." She followed Ryan into the breakroom, and Esposito followed them both, shutting the doors quietly behind them.

She stopped by the cappuccino machine, turning around to lean against the counter's edge, folding her arms, but not impatiently. "What's this about?"

It seemed to take them a moment to figure out who would begin, even though this had felt planned from the beginning. Ryan sat at the table, folded his hands, and looked at his partner; Esposito stood on the other side and glanced back. Finally, Esposito started. "...You saved our asses."

"You and Castle," Ryan added.

"And - no, don't talk yet, I'm not done - yeah, we know it's the badge and whatnot, and we'd have done the same thing for you, but... We wanted to thank you for how you went in there for us."

"Bet nobody else would've even figured what was up," Ryan noted on the side. Back on topic, he looked straight to Beckett. "And, it's a good thing you did it how you did it, because, there's no getting around it...they would've killed us both; that was no bluffing."

It was easy to see that Esposito still held some anger. "Him, then me, just to piss me off," he agreed.

"And..." Ryan sounded more thoughtful now; he seemed to be going down a different road with this. Beckett tilted her head, obeying for once and not saying a word. "...And, maybe it's a good thing that they did plan to get rid of us. Because...if they'd planned to leave us around...Gershon probably wouldn't've told us...about your mom."

Kate's eyes widened, and she gasped, just barely enough of a gasp for her to feel and no one else to hear.

Esposito took a careful step her way. "If you're ready to hear it...we'll tell you what we know."

Beckett stayed silent, as information about her mother's case always seemed to leave her. But...for the first time in her life...she knew she could make it through. And - maybe it was out-of-character, for her, but something about now made it impossible to stop herself - for the first time in her life, she moved forward with foreign will, tightly hugging them both.

As she stepped back, she nodded, and took a seat at the table, ready for whatever she was about to hear. It was time. And she wasn't alone.

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There - the boys being held hostage, Castle on top of a suspect, Raglan's involvement, and Beckett's mom's case's involvement, all accounted for. I hope it comes off as believable as an episode - and who knows? Maybe the real episode will be something like this. ;) Who knows - even if not, hope you enjoyed the read anyway. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm a sucker for Beckett's bond with her boys.

Also, as I say on every chapter of all my stories: if there's anyone (ages 14 and over) interested in joining a free, writing-based Castle roleplaying forum, check out the bolded paragraph in my profile. Thank you. (And, seriously, we do NOT tolerate or appreciate spammers, okay? If you come to spam you'll just get banned and deleted. We're a fun atmosphere that's all about the writing, so please help us keep the maturity? It's appreciated.)

Anyway, I'd really, really appreciate it if you guys would PLEASE leave a review. I put a lot of my time and energy and love and a few organs into these fics, and it really, seriously makes my day to hear what you guys' favorite parts/lines/whatever were. Thanks everybody.

So, more fics to come, as always. Peace and love.

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