Takes place in Season 3. May have minor spoilers or references to any episode so far, but not spoiler heavy.

Disclaimer: I don't own Castle, which is a good, because I would have run out of great ideas a long time ago.

To Have and To Hold

Chapter One

Castle saw the sudden flash of movement as Beckett noticed him entering the bullpen. She had shoved something into her desk drawer, slamming it with more force than necessary. Kate looked just a little flustered as he approached her. He gave her a quirky smile as he set her coffee and a bear claw on the desk beside a small stack of files.

His raised eyebrow was a silent question, but Beckett pretended not to notice as she flipped through a case file she had printed out. She drew out her signature in all the right places, getting it ready to be filed away. Another case solved, and the rest of the day off rotation to get the paperwork completed.

"Thanks." She mumbled as she took a sip of the coffee before turning back to her file. "It's a paperwork day. I thought you weren't coming in?"

Castle shrugged, "Alexis is at school and my mom has some kind of life coaching session today, so it was either wander the streets of New York aimlessly, or come in here and pester you guys." He gave her a crooked smile. "I think I have an equal chance of ending up in the hospital either way, mugged on the streets or pistol whipped for being a smart ass. I figured at least this way I'm with friends and I'll probably get to keep my wallet."

Beckett rolled her eyes at his over-dramatization, "You could hide out in your room with your laptop and actually get some work down for a change." She suggested, averting her eyes from her paperwork for just a moment to meet his eyes before turning back to the work at hand.

He just shrugged, nonchalance emanating from the gesture, "I'm trying to figure out a piece of evidence and I'm a little stuck on how to incorporate it."

Interest peaked, because he rarely talked about his book in advance, Beckett shifted to sit back in her chair and consider him directly. "Couldn't they just find it at a crime scene, what's the big deal?"

"It's a key piece of evidence that points them right towards a suspect." He sighed, his frustration over such a small detail coming out in the exhale. "This is how they catch the guy, but he lawyers up and they can't get any info out of him. It's pivotal because they're certain they've got the right guy, but turns out he's the red herring. By the time they realize it, they've let their guards down and it's too late."

"So what's the evidence?" she asked, feigning only mild interest, though she was fascinated to see a little bit of the creative process that went into his writing.

Castle just shook his head, "No way. I've said too much already."

"Seriously?" she countered, "It's not like I'm going to go out and post spoilers on your fan site."

Castle's mouth turned up in a grin, "Ooh, Detective Beckett," he teased, "How is it that you know about spoilers on my fan page?"

Beckett shrugged, turning back to her file so he couldn't read the lie on her face, "I assumed your page would be like Patterson's. His fans are always claiming to have new spoilers, but they rarely turn out to be accurate."

"You wound me detective." He responded with mock astonishment, before he smiled as if just getting an idea. "You're busy right now, but I'm being abandoned by the women in my life this evening, so perhaps you could stop by and we could discuss it over dinner?" he suggested, trying to force a light tone in his voice. He didn't want to spend the entire day stuck out of his house and the whole night wandering the large loft alone because both of the women he lived with had plans that involved not coming home until tomorrow.

Her eyes flicked very briefly to the drawer where she had shoved whatever she'd been looking at when he walked in. The movement was so quick that he almost missed it, "I can't tonight."

Something about what she was hiding away was definitely the reason she was turning him down. While before he had been slightly curious, now he burned with the need to know what was in that drawer.

"Lunch?" she suggested, vaguely disturbed that she was disappointed to have to turn down his request for dinner. Spending an evening talking about the next Richard Castle novel before it was even completed was something she would have normally jumped at the chance to do, especially considering how long they had worked together and he'd never asked for her input before.

Castle shrugged, "Sure." He hid his disappointment and curiosity behind humor, "We'll have to talk in code because we might be overheard at a restaurant."

She smiled at him briefly, before ducking back to her report. "I can bring a case file if you think it would help. They know us down at Remy's well enough that none of the regulars will think twice about us talking evidence over lunch."

"Sure." He responded and then pulled out his phone as she went back to her paperwork. He had at least an hour to kill before Beckett would even consider taking lunch, so he retrieved a few documents he had saved and started organizing them on his phone. He'd always been a very solitary writer, not one to look outside for help. Inspiration? Yes. Help? No way.

But he was stuck and she seemed excited at the prospect of him requesting her help. He spent the next hour and a half setting up his documents so that he could easily share them with her, making sure not to give too much away because he knew she like to read his book and wouldn't want the end spoiled.

"I have to go down and grab Lanie's report to stick in here before I call it a closed case." She said as she stood and stretched, oddly exhausted from half a day spent reading and signing forms, typing statements, crossing T's and dotting I's.

"I'm going to finish getting my thoughts together here." He told her, gesturing to his phone. "That way I don't accidentally give away the end while we're going through things."

She smiled down at him, obviously at least a little excited for the sneak peak as she nodded an affirmation and headed to the elevators.

He waited until she was on the lift and the doors closed before quickly moving over to take a seat in her chair. He looked around the bullpen, glad that Ryan and Esposito were still out reaffirming the witness statements for the District Attorney. He was here so often that very few detectives even took notice of him anymore, but Ryan and Esposito would grill him about going through Beckett's desk or at the very least tell her that he had been snooping.

He stilled his hand on the handle of the drawer as he felt a moment of doubt.

She trusted him, he didn't know if he should be invading her personal space like this. It wouldn't be the first time he had gone through her desk, but it had been a long time since he had done it.

They had built a strong and trusting friendship over the past couple of years. A real friendship where they knew they could both rely on each other when times were tough. Granted, their definitions of tough times were vastly different.

His tough times were dealing with his mother or his teenage daughter. Sometimes they were from his worry over Beckett herself or even experiencing some of what she went through every day. To him, though, it was never the same level of personal as it was to her. It's not that he didn't care; he just had a different way of storing the information that allowed him to sink away the stress and strain on his emotions until he could vent them productively on the page.

However, for her a rough day at the office was something else entirely. It was the body of a child, the slaying of a mother or a near death experience that reaffirmed what she had known since she was a teenager. Life is short, sometimes too short.

He could see the same crime scene and he wouldn't feel one tenth of the empathy and passion she had towards the families of the victims. Some days it got to be too much for her and on those days he was there. To his surprise she let him be there, go through it. She had opened herself up to him a lot over the past several months. That level of trust wasn't something he wasn't keen to ruin just because he had a silly little level of curiosity about something or other that she may or may not have been trying to hide from him.

He could just ask her what was in the drawer, or just forget he had seen anything at all. Perhaps she didn't even notice that he had seen her shove it away in the dark recesses of her drawer. Perhaps it was nothing and he was making a big deal out of something as silly as her hiding that she was eating a Snickers bar for breakfast again because she didn't stop to get anything and she had thought he wasn't coming with her bear claw.

That's probably all it was, Castle had convinced himself. Something as simple and silly as that and he decided that wouldn't be an invasion of her privacy. That would be something he could give her a little grief over when she came back up from getting the papers from Lanie and he had it out on the desk for her to see that he knew what she was hiding.

She really did need to take better care of herself. She worked out and physically she was in great shape, but sometimes he worried about the ways she tried to maintain her energy. Sometimes he wondered how she survived as long as she had on Snickers bars and take-out. There was a fine line between driven and obsessive and sometimes she toed the line so hard that she wouldn't even stop to eat anything at all. Sometimes she didn't sleep a wink because she had to know. She had to figure out the answers.

With a little grin at the positive influence he had on her, though a bear claw and a burger at Remy's wasn't much better than a candy bar and nothing at all, they had made progress over their time together.

Deciding that it was definitely a half-eaten candy bar and nothing really important he pulled the drawer open and prepared to set the trap.

What he saw inside sent his heart skittering in his chest. Cautiously he reached out and grabbed the small velvet box. He stared at it for a long moment hoping that he really wasn't seeing what he now held in his hand. He felt each breath he took as if they were burning his lungs and wondered if he might stop breathing all together.

Finally, with slightly shaky finger, he pulled the lid back, hearing the small hinge give a quiet click that sounded like a gunshot, the only sound he heard in the noisy bullpen as his eyes fell on his nightmare in a box.

There, nestled gently in a velvet crease, sparkling at him like the eyes of a demon, was a gorgeous two karat diamond ring. An engagement ring. Kate Beckett's engagement ring.

He couldn't think as blood rushed through his veins, roaring in his ears, his heart thumping so loudly he was worried everyone in the room could hear it. He had to force himself to blink, physically make a conscious effort to do so as his wide eyes started feeling dry from staring at the item in the box. The blinking didn't help as now his eyes felt unnaturally wet. With shaking hands he forced himself to close the lid and put the ring back in the drawer.

He felt his heart breaking as he realized that she must have taken the ring off when she got here and put it away in her desk for safe keeping.

His writer's mind, damn foolish creative side of him, started weaving scenarios on how Josh must have proposed. Each thought was more romantic than the last. Each time he pictured Kate's eyes welling with tears of joy as they had when Ryan had proposed to Jenny. Each time she cried out 'Yes!' and flew into Josh's arms, kissing him passionately. Each time he died just a little more on the inside.

He couldn't stay there anymore. He had to move. He had to get out before he couldn't breathe at all. He had to go before Beckett got back, before the heartbreak he felt manifested into an outward physical reaction that she could see. He felt his eyes burning as his heart thumped painfully as if it were actually going to split his chest wide open. He had been holding out hope that someday she might grow weary of her motorcycle boy and someday she might be willing to give him a chance to prove to her that they were meant to be.

He threw his jacket on quickly and headed blindly towards the elevator. As the door opened he rushed in, bumping shoulders with someone and muttering a cursory apology on instinct as he jabbed the button to go to the main floor.

"Castle?" he heard her surprised voice.

He looked up to see that it had been Beckett he ran into disembarking the elevator a moment before and she was standing just outside the lift with a curious expression on her face. Confusion with a hint of concern written on her features as the doors closed with her still watching him from outside.

Once the doors closed, he let out a ragged breath in the quiet of the elevator. He was glad to have this brief moment alone as he attempted to regain control of the torrent of emotions raging through him.


A/N: This story popped into my head, so I decided to run with it. This is my first fanfic that doesn't have a crime mystery running through it. I don't know how I'll deal with that. There may be a case or cases, but they will be more peripheral and situational than the focus. That's freaking me out a little so let me know if we want to continue this and see how it goes without a case, or if I should get back in the land I'm comfortable in and focus on murder, mystery and intrigue.

Thanks for reading.