The following takes place after 'The Final Nail,' so spoilers for that episode (and any others aired prior to it).



The pair sat across from each other in a booth in the back of a dimly-lit bar in the middle of the afternoon on Valentine's Day.

Castle slowly ran his index finger around the top of the glass, his eyes focused on-but not really seeing-a nick in the lacquered tabletop.

"I'm not used to you being without something to say," Beckett said, trying to lighten the mood.

"Don't feel like talking," Castle replied somberly.

Beckett nodded slowly-not that Castle had looked up long enough to see it-and said, "Then we'll sit here… And drink."

"It's impossible to get drunk without alcohol," he muttered, referring to Beckett's Coke with lime.

"You've had more than enough for both of us," she pointed out with a tiny smile.

"Probably," he said, before emptying his fourth-or was it fifth?-drink in the last half-hour. The glass clanked against the table, and Castle mused about how he and the glass had one thing in common-they were both empty.

He shook his head at his own dismal, flowery description. Was that the talent to which Damian Westbrook referred? Bitterness swept through him again, and he sighed loudly, frustrated with life in general.

"I'm sorry about Damian," Beckett said, swirling the straw through her Coke. "I know how much you cared about him."

"It is what it is," Castle replied with a cynical chuckle. "It's like you said: I created a figure I wanted him to be. I put him on a pedestal…" He fell silent and stared into his empty glass.

For a moment, Beckett thought that was the only response she'd get. Then, Castle spoke again.

"Damian made me who I am, Beckett. I wrote because he encouraged me to do so. He was the one person who believed in me when no one else did. But he's told so many lies, I don't know what's true anymore. Was he lying when he said I had a knack for writing?" He hadn't meant to say that last part aloud…

"Castle, you made yourself who you are today," she told him. "You've written over two dozen novels. A writer doesn't have that many bestsellers unless he or she has talent. Besides, millions of adoring fans can't be wrong."

Finally, their eyes met. "Millions of adoring fans?" he replied, slightly cheered up.

"Uh-huh," she said, nodding.

"Eh," he shrugged, "they just read my books for the sex scenes." A beat later, he smiled.

Beckett laughed, glad to see his mood somewhat improved. "You know, one thing I've learned on this job is that although someone else might influence our choices, at the end of the day, we are the only ones who can be held accountable for those choices."

"And making the right choices corresponds to the extent of our talents?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow.

"Exactly," she agreed with a smile.

Castle chuckled, too. "Why are you so good to me?"

"It's the least I could do after the way I treated you," she admitted.

"On this case or all the ones before?"

"Castle!" she protested.

"Only joking," he replied quickly. "No, I mean, there's been at least a hundred times you could have refused to continue allowing me to work with you."

Beckett leaned forward, holding Castle's gaze. "Maybe I think you have a talent for solving crimes."

Castle gasped and placed a hand on his chest. "That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. You're an amazing woman, Kate Beckett," he finished with a wide grin.

"That's one of my many talents."

If she only knew…


Thanks for reading.