A/N: Sorry about the delay!... I had to take a trip with the family and we had no internet :(

Longest chapter ever! This is the final one... hope you like it... let me know? :D

Again, thanks to A.R-062 for keeping me sane. You Rock! :D

Disclaimer: for the last time... I don't own Castle :cc

Reviews are love :D


Today was it, when it would be decided, kind of, if Rick was going to be Kate's partner or not. To say he was nervous was an understatement. It had been already three weeks since Jim Beckett had told Kate about his friendship with Lisbon and since Kate and Lisbon had talked. Kate didn't go in to detail about the conversation, not even to Rick, but since then, things had been friendlier at the precinct.

Those three weeks had been part nightmare, part dream come true for Rick. There was nothing he hated more in the world that reading something boring and with no substance. It was partly the reason he was not a lawyer now, besides Damian Westlake. That was his nightmare, studying for a test like if it was your lifeline, especially law. His dream come true was having an excuse to have a certain detective almost 24/7 on the loft. Since she knew the law and didn't bend easily she could help him study; quizzing him and taking surprise exams. Of course, some of those study sessions had led to more intimate sessions, not that they were complaining.

Now, both of them were getting ready. She had part of the closet on his bedroom. He wasn´t saying anything, he didn't want to scare her, but she did seem to unconsciously drop more and more items on his loft every day; most of them were clothes, creams and hygiene products, nothing major. But when she brought her guitar for a concert night with Alexis and left it there, he knew it was almost time to ask her to move in with him.

According to Beckett and Esposito the physical test would be a piece of cake. Castle would have to fight against an opponent of Lisbon's choosing. Then, there would be a one-on-one with knives, something he was really scared about. Finally, was the shooting practice, for the gun permit, that included a little quiz about the types of guns and calibers that the NYPD used.

He was pretty confident in the gun area, after all, Derrick Storm was fond of them and research was his greatest ally. He was okay with the fighting part, fighting with NYPD's finest was no short accomplishment, but not knowing who he was fighting against was unsettling. The knife part was scaring the life out of him, not only did he not know who he was fighting against, but he had no liking for white weapons. He knew what they could do to a body and that, combined with his over imaginative and worst case scenario mind, was driving him crazy.

"Rick? Asked Kate. "What's going on in that mind of yours?" She sat on the bed next to him.

"I…I'm thinking about today." His voice was full of sadness and worry. "What if I fail? What if I can't be there for you? Kate, I…" He hung his head in defeat and ran a hand through his hair.

"Hey, hey, come here." She wrapped an arm aver his shoulders, in a sideways embrace, and caressed his face with her other hand, like a mother consoling her child. She lifted his chin with her long and graceful fingers and made him look her in the eyes. "No matter what happens today, Rick, you'll always be there for me, even if you're not always next to me. Do you understand? I'll always love you whether you pass o not this silly test. You'll always be my partner."

His mind couldn't comprehend the level of gratefulness that was on his body, nor a proper response to such an admission, even for a writer. So, he did the only thing a lover could do; he kissed her, slow and sweet, trying to transmit how grateful he truly felt, how much love he felt right now for her. When they parted he pulled her on to his lap and hugged her, burying his head on her long curly hair.

When he hugged her, she felt a little shocked by the sudden movement, but quickly relaxed to enjoy his embrace. These moments seemed even more intimate than anything else, and he gave the best hugs in the world. He made you feel save and warm and loved, that is why she preferred movie nights to fancy dates, she wanted to feel that sense of comfort, protection, safety, love that he gave her. But today it was not about her, it was about him. She knew she could take care of herself; she had, long before he'd met her and still could, even though she didn't want to. She wanted him by her side, but this was no easy task for him, for any civilian. That is why no matter what, they'll pull it trough together, like they'd always had.

After a while, he managed to control his emotions better and they decided to make some breakfast before heading to the 12th. To their surprise, Alexis was already in the kitchen with the final touches of a very large, very tasty meal. She had made coffee, waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs and cut some fruit. "Wow, pumpkin, what's all of this?" Asked a very surprised writer.

"Dad! Kate!" She forgets her culinary duties for a moment and went to hug them both.

"Hi Alexis, Hey Martha." Greeted Kate at both red hairs. Martha was on one of the kitchen stools next to the bacon.

"Hello, Kate, dear did you sleep well?"

"I did thank you, and you?"

"Ouh, didn´t get much sleep. I was out with the hang."

"Did you have fun, Mother?" He asked as he kissed her cheek sweetly.

"Of course, my boy."

"Tell me, daughter," he said turning to Alexis who was making sure nothing burned, "What is this feast I gaze upon?

"Father, this is a good luck breakfast," she said grinning. "Besides, you need your energy today, so I want you to eat all of your fruit."

"But…" he looked at her pleadingly.

"Dad," she gave him a glare that reminded him a little too much to Kate for his liking, "all of it."

"Yes, pumpkin."

Kate barely could contain the laugh. Which he saw and have her a look, making her smile even wider. "Alexis, do you need some help in there?"

"Actually, if you wouldn't mind... Dad, grams, go sit on the table."

When he and Martha were finally out of earshot she continued to focus on the stove but Kate could see she was struggling to say something.

"Kate, I need you to be honest with me."

"Of course."

"Today, how dangerous exactly is? I heard about a knife fight and…"

"Oh, don't worry, we'll use training knifes, made of rubble. He is well trained and if he gets in trouble I'll stop the fight myself. I can't let anything happen to him."

Alexis seemed more relaxed, but there was still something on her mind. Kate decided to wait it out. "If he passes, won't it be more dangerous for him, out there?"

"It won't. He'll be capable of defending himself, something he couldn't before and I won't let anything happen to him. He is my partner, Alexis. But if you want him to stop, if you think it's too dangerous for him, you can ask him not to do this."

"I can't say that I'm a 100% comfortable about this, but he is happy. Since the 12th he has been happier than I've seen him in a long time. If I took that away from him, I couldn't live with myself, I couldn't do that to him. Even after you guys started dating; going to the precinct always puts a smile on his face, even if he ended up being beaten by you." They both chuckled at that, relieved for the tension breaker. "I know you'll take care of him. Just promise me you'll also take care of yourself, you are family now." Kate almost choked from emotion right then; she gave the girl a side hug and promised her that she would.

Breakfast was great; Alexis had indeed inherited those genes from Rick. After saying their good bye's and good luck's they went to their business as usual.

….

Once in the elevator Rick grabbed Kate in a bear hug and kissed the crown of her head. "Thank you." He said, still not letting go. "What for?" She asked. The sound coming a little muffled from being still pressed against his broad and warm chest.

"For everything."

….

They got to a shooting range a little after 9, just in time: the shooting part was set at 9:30. The place they were was called The Outdoor Range, located in the Rodmans Neck section of the Bronx, is a 54 acre facility where the majority of the uniformed members of the NYPD train and take re-qualification courses.

He was carrying a sport bag with all of his clothes for the match a couple of hours later. He was a little nervous still, but managed to control his thoughts every time he saw Kate. They were the only ones at the shooting range; both Esposito and Ryan were chasing down a lead and Lanie had a body. Castle thought that the less people witnessed this, the better. Lisbon was there, talking to a detective he recognized from vice. His name was John Jordan, ex-marine, best shooter in the 12th. He was a little intrigued as to why he was there. "This is not some kind of duel, right?" He whispered to Kate. She rolled her eyes." No, he must be here to watch your technique or something, maybe he is just here for practice." "Yeah, on me." It took everything she had not to pull on his ear. "Come on, let's see what this is about."

"Hey, Captain."

"Beckett, how are you?"

"Trying not to kill Castle."

"Hey!" He exclaimed, insulted. Everyone ignored him.

"He is already getting on your nerve, huh?"

"When does he not?" That made Lisbon smile.

"Beckett, Castle, you know Jordan. He is here to witness your abilities and take your exam."

"So, we're not going to duel?"

"Is he serious?" Asked Lisbon to Beckett clearly amused.

"As a heart attack." Beckett sighed.

"No, Castle, we're not dueling. This is just a shooting range, with a little change."

"I'm not going to like this, am I?"

"Not really. Ok, so, the test consists in knowing when to shoot. So if taken by surprise you don't shoot a little girl or an old man, got it?" He waited until Castle nodded. "Great, now, you have how many bullets in a 9mm like the one the forces uses?"

"Depends."

"How so?"

"Currently the NYPD uses three kinds of 9mm; the Glock 19 uses 15 rounds per magazine, the Sig Sauer model P226, 12 to 13 and the Smith and Wesson model 5906 uses 10 up to 15 rounds."

"Very good, Castle. Ok, so the test it's pretty simple, there are going to appear different targets, ones dressed as a criminal and ones as civilians. There will be 10 targets between the two and they'll appear at irregular intervals of time. Is it clear?"

"Y-Yes. How many do I have to get right?"

"Seven."

Jordan gave Castle a few minutes to gather his thoughts and choose a weapon. He went with the Smith & Wesson. He checked the barrel, magazine and safety in smooth, coordinated and clean moves before approaching Kate who tried hard not to look impressed, but failed.

"Castle, where did you learn to shoot?"

"When I created Derrick Storm, I realized that I would have to use guns a lot and I needed to feel what it felt like. How hard it really was, so I know a guy who is in the business and he taught me."

"Do I want to know about this guy?"

"Probably not," he grinned.

"Thought so," she rolled her eyes. "Good luck."

"Thanks."

The range was kind of like an alley with a painted background of the city, including trash cans and light polls. There were some cracks on the ceiling, floor and side walls from where the targets would come out. He stood in the center, just outside of the alley with his body slightly inclined to the right, left hand holding the barrel and right hand on the trigger. He had the security glasses and ear plugs on. Jordan tapped him on the shoulder and ask him with signs if he was ready, Castle nodded and Jordan stepped out to activate the targets.

Castle stood there, concentrating on any movement, time seemed to stop. For what he thought were hours no target made even the hint of appear and he was getting more nervous and impatient by every tick of the clock. He took a deep breath and thought of Kate, the reasons why he was doing this and before he knew it, he saw movement by a corner, he turned ready to fire, millimeters to pull the trigger when he saw the actual target; a little girl. He pulled the gun down and took a breath, it was close. Before he could get ready again, another target appeared, this time it was a criminal. One shot to the shoulder. At different intervals the targets appeared; sometimes too close together, sometimes long enough for him to let his guard down. He shot almost every criminal and missed all of the civilians. He had lost count of the shots until there were no more bangs, just a loud click, indicating the end of the magazine. He put on the safety before taking his glasses and ear plugs and went over to behind the safety glass where everyone was.

"So, how did I do?" He asked as he stood next to Kate.

"I noticed you shot every criminal in the shoulder or leg." Said Jordan, in a severe disapproving tone, "why not the head?"

Rick panicked inside, but didn´t let it show. "I'm not a killer, the job of the NYPD is to catch the criminals and let the justice system deal with them, I thought that would apply for me, as well."

Both Jordan and Lisbon looked at him for like feel far too long, with blank looks. Rick thought he should invite Lisbon sometime for poker, hers was extremely good. Finally Jordan smiled. "That's right, Castle. I'm glad you have that imprinted on you head. You did great, only missed one and didn't hurt any civilians."

Castle let out a long breath in relief and grinned.

"Don't look that relieved, boy, we still got to do the exam."

Both men left the ladies alone in the room. Even thought they'd talked about everything, Kate still felt uncomfortable around Lisbon. Her father was right, she felt Lisbon was trying to replace Roy and that could never happen. But she owed it to her father and his happiness to try to like her, see her as her dad's friend and not as Roy's replacement.

She decided to break the silence. "So, how long does this one take?"

"About half an hour, depending on how much Castle studied."

"Oh, then it should be just about 10 minutes."

"That much?"

"He really, really wants to use a gun."

"Right, the gun. Kate, what I'm about to say it's off the record and we will never discuss this again." She waited until Kate nodded. "If you and Castle are or decide to be in a romantic relationship you don't have to hide it from me or the precinct, if you want." Kate's eyes widened. "Becks didn't say anything; it's obvious on its own. To ease your mind, since Castle is not officially your partner, the protocols don't apply to you. Besides, I don't want any bad Karma from keeping two people so in love from each other." She smiled. Kate blushed and dipped her head.

"I…thank you ma'am. And since we're coming clean, Castle and I have been together for almost two months. But I want you to know, this relationship won't affect mine or his job on the 12th. We wouldn't allow that."

"As long as you keep your private life private and don't bring your fights to the precinct, I don't see any problems."

"Thank you, ma'am."

"And," Lisbon got that twinkle in her eye that reminded Kate of Castle way too much, "In name of the 12th and your dad, it was about time."

In that moment, Kate wished a hole would open up in the ground so she could be swallowed.

….

A proud and happy Castle sat at the copilot's seat of Beckett's SUV on their way to the precinct. The range was about 15 to 20 minutes away, depending on traffic. The man had passed the test with honors, especially the written part. "Castle, your face will stick that way if you don't quit smiling."

"Ah, come on Kate! I'm closer to becoming your partner. Aren't you happy?"

"Castle, in case you've forgotten; we're partners."

His voice softened and he grab her hand with both of his, kissing her knuckles softly. "I know, Kate, I meant in a more official, in the eyes of our boss kind of way."

Damn that man and his way with words.

….

It was 11. The physical test was in 5 minutes. They were in the gym. All of them: Ryan and Esposito, Rick and Kate, Lisbon, even Lanie.

"Just remember not to let him in your space, ok?" Both Rick and Kate were in a corner, very close to each other. "And remember to immobilizing him first. No need for unnecessary waste of energy, got it? You still have other opponents after this one."

"Detective, is that concern I hear?"

"Castle! Don't make me shoot you before the fight." She hissed.

"I'll behave. Now, who is the guy I'm supposed to fight against?"

"He is not from the 12th, he is from the 20th." Chimed in Esposito.

"You know him?"

"Nah, the cap just told me. His name is Chris Gardner, detective in homicide."

"Anyone knows him or maybe his Achilles heel?" he asked, hopeful.

"Sorry, Bro." Responded Ryan.

"And why from the 20th?"

"Everyone here loves you, Writer-Boy, Lisbon thought people could ask questions later on."

"And since when are you and the cap besties, Lanie?" Asked Beckett.

"We're not, I just asked her." at the looks of everyone else, she added. "What? I was curious."

"Castle! Gardner is here." Came the voice from Lisbon, everyone retreated to give the couple a moment alone.

"Remember, Rick, no matter what."

"I know."

"Be careful. Love you."

"Love you, too. No kiss good luck?" He smiled.

"We're at work, besides, Lisbon is there."

"Ok, ok, a hug?" She nodded, how could you resist that adorable face and those blue orbs boring holes into your soul? After a brief hug, Castle went to the mattress where a tall, red headed guy was waiting. He looked in his mid thirties, well built and a smug face. Great.

"Rick Castle. Nice to meet you." He extended his right hand for a shake.

"Chris Gardner. You, too."

"Thanks for doing this, by the way."

"I owed your captain a favor and I could do with the practice."

Another man from the 20th announced the fighters to prepare for the match. The rules were simple. The first down lost, standard combat rules.

Both men stood in fighting position; right leg front, arms near the face and chest, blocking them. Gardner seemed confident, too confident for Castle's taste. All he could think of was that he needed to beat him. He remembered Kate's advices; no unnecessary waste of energy, don't let him into your defense...

Before he could continue, he saw in the corner of his eye a fist coming rapidly to his face. He ducked to the opposite side of the blow. It nearly hit him. It threw him out of balance. There was another punch, this time directly to the ribs, Castle flexed his muscles in time, and it didn't hurt so much. He would have to buy something to Esposito for the training. He stepped back to assume the fighting stand again and decided to attack. It wasn't a good idea. Gardner avoided the attack and hit him scare in the jaw, making him fell to the floor. It took him a second to get up, but he did. He had to switch tactics. Once more he was in fighting stand, he almost flinched because of his sore jaw, but his poker face was better.

Gardner was giving him a smug smile and it took everything he had not to go there and erase it. Gardner came this time with a side kick directly to his face, but his forearms blocked the blow. Not a second later, a circular kick to the other side surprised him but he managed to shelter most of his body. It left him a little off balanced, which gave the other the opportunity to hit him on the stomach, making him gasp for air. Castle was bend, trying to breathe normally again, something Gardner wasn't allaying him to do as he went to attack him once more, Castle, still bend, went against the detective full force, like a bull against a matador, taking Gardner to the floor with him. Rick was getting tired now, but his breathing was returning to normal. He stood up, believing it was over, but as the other detective was about to call it wins, Gardner stood up. Do you really think one hit it's going to take me down, Castle?

Castle was a little startled but assumed his fighting stance as Gardner was assuming his. He needed to end this now, before he got more injured. He still had the knife thing.

The next attack was a straight one to the face, apparently Gardner thought too little of Castle. Rick saw it a mile away and stayed, acting as he didn't know what was coming. As the fist was centimeters near his nose, he turned his body to the left at the same time he grabbed Gardner's forearm with his left hand and his shoulder and turned the detective's arm behind his back, making him yelp both in surprise and pain. Taking advantage of his momentum, Rick swept his right leg in a circling motion over Gardner's feet, making him fall. Rick fell with him, straddling the guy and taking his other arm behind his opponent's back. He was pinned down. The other detective from the 20th indicated it was over and that Castle had passed the second test.

He stood up and offered his hand to Chris who took it after a moment of hesitation. "Great lock, felt like a pro."

"Thanks, learned from the best. No hard feelings?"

"Nah, all good. Good luck with the rest of the tests."

"Thanks, Chris."

They shook hands again and Gardner gave a polite nod to Lisbon before taking his stuff and leaving.

"Great work, Castle."

"Thanks, Boss." He smiled broadly.

"The last test will be after lunch, at three. Go and get checked. I'll see you later."

He nodded and watched her leave along with the other detective from the 20th. As soon as they were gone, he turned around, walked over to where Kate was and hugged her as fiercely as he could, given his injuries, and kissed her on the cheek. After pulling apart he happily announced. "I won! Did you see that lock?" His kiddy glee was back with full force.

"I saw, not bad writer-boy. I'm impressed."

"Writer-man, Kate. I think I've proven that much."

"It was a good fight…"

"Oh," he leaned in and whispered huskily in to her ear, "I wasn't talking about the fight."

She blushed, damn that man. Thankfully, Lanie interrupted. "Come on, Rocky, I need to check if you cracked any ribs."

"I'm fine, just a little sore."

"Castle." Both women said at unison which made him flinch.

"Ok, ok. It's freaky the way you do that."

Both rolled their eyes at him. "Again, freaky."

Lanie made him sit while she gathered her stuff. The boys stepped in front of him.

"Not bad, Castle."

"Yeah, you took a few punches but pinned him down good."

"Thanks guys. He was really fast, though."

"Yeah, good thing you developed good reflexes or it would be a different story."

"Oh, I know coach. But I couldn't fail."

Both detectives looked at each other knowingly before stepping out to give some space to the ME.

"Let's see. Lift up your shirt." Lanie's eyes widened. The training had had his good results on the writer. She had noticed his waist and stomach losing a size or two, but man o man Kate was indeed a very lucky girl. She looked at Kate and told her with her eyes that same thought. Kate grinned mischievously in response.

"What? It's something wrong?" Asked a very concerned Castle.

"Oh, nothing. Let's see what we have here." She was in professional mode now, poking and prodding his ribs and stomach for any damage. Then she checked his jaw and forearms.

"You're fine, a couple of bruised ribs, but nothing permanent. Try not to get hit there again, ok?"

"I'll try, thanks doc. Now, lunch? I'll order pizza, sounds good?"

Everyone nodded and went to the bullpen, except for Rick that went to shower and change first. Before he got anywhere, Kate went back and didn't even let him say a word as she pulled him in for fierce kiss that made them both forget their names.

"I'm glad you're Okay." She said after pulling apart, gave him another peck and left a very dazzled, smiling fool behind. Another five minutes passed before he could remember why he was standing in the middle of the gym alone…

Twenty minutes later everyone was enjoying a gooey and delicious pepperoni and double cheese pizza.

"I'm so going to have to work double at the gym tomorrow," said Beckett as Lanie nodded in agreement.

"Oh, come on! If anything, you need to gain weight." Said Castle chewing on his slice. Beckett rolled her eyes in response.

Esposito also talked. "And you, chica, are perfect the way you are." Lanie smiled and gave him a peck on the lips and kept eating.

Ryan muttered something in the likes of "I miss Jenny" causing everyone to laugh.

It was around 1 when everyone finished their lunch, leaving a two hour window for Castle to freak out. Conveniently everyone except for Kate had found an excuse to escape his whining.

At around 2, Kate was almost ready to kill him. He had played with his phone, made paper airplanes, tap his fingers on her desk, even trying to write. Nothing was helping. When he began to tap his fingers against her desk and to tap his foot against the floor she had had enough. "Come on Castle." She said as she stood up and began walking through the bullpen to the stairs. Castle was at her side in a matter of seconds.

Beckett descended the stairs about half flour, not saying a word, even if he was asking her, constantly.

"Ok, Rick. What?"

"What do you mean what? You dragged me here."

"You have been impressively more annoying than usual. And a hell of a lot more nervous. What is it?"

"I…I know you weren't there for the sessions with the knives. Esposito has the military training after all, but they were with training knives and we never got to actually fight, just techniques."

"You're scared you're going to hurt yourself? Badly?"

"Well, yeah. Besides I don't want to scare Alexis more than she already is. If I got hurt with a knife…"

Kate smile one of those smiles that made his heart stop. "Don't worry Rick. You won't fight with real knifes."

"I won't?"

"Of course not! Lisbon can't risk hurting a civilian so he can follow a detective. Can you imagine the bad press it would bring to the NYPD, to us, if word got out?"

"True…but…"

"Don't worry Rick. There won't be an actual fight. It will be just like with Esposito."

He visibly relaxed but there was still a bit of preoccupation in his eyes. Beckett looked both ways before encircling her arms around his neck, pulling him for a hug. He hugged her back and relaxed, buried his face in her hair and inhaled her scent, it brought him comfort. "Thank you," he whispered. It seemed like hours passed with them taking comfort in each other, but it was only minutes. Since the lunch break was over and the bullpen was gaining life again, they decided to separate. They brushed hands every couple of steps, not ready to break completely the connection.

Castle was a lot calmer and much less annoying after that.

….

They were all at the gym once again. Only instead of Gardner, there was another guy. According to Esposito, the new one was from the 54th. This time he knew him, his name was Hal Stevens. They had trained together in the army before joining the force. He was a good detective, a stand up guy and to Castle's misfortune one of the best on hand to hand combat and white weapon combat. He taught Esposito everything he knows.

After introductions were made, they were given a couple of minutes to prepare. Castle was close to Beckett. He was whispering. "I'm so dead" she rolled her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous."

"He taught Esposito everything! I'm so screwed."

"Yes, but Esposito taught you everything, didn't he?"

"Everything he could in the time we had. The math isn't working in my head, Kate."

"Ok, Rick, I need you to calm down. Think of this as training, he is your new sparring partner, that's all. You've aced everything else, and as much as it pains me to stroke your ego, you've done an excellent job considering you're a civilian and been training for just over two months."

"I've aced them, haven't I?" He grinned proudly.

She sighed, at least he had forgotten about the test. "I won't deny or confirm anything. Now, go so we can get out of here."

"Home?"

"Yeah, the loft."

He secretly was jumping up and down with joy. On the outside he just smiled and went to the mat.

Stevens was a dark, tall man, almost as tall as Castle, broad shoulders, kind face, and curly black hair with a military cut. He was dressing sweats just like Castle and was holding a practice knife. Castle was in front of him, at a safe distance. Remembering everything Esposito had taught him, especially to keep your distance from the knife.

"Ok, Castle. Here is what the test it's about: I'm going to attack you 10 times, you'll have to stop those attacks at least 7 of those 10 and at least 3 you'll have to take away my knife and attack. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Ok," the referee told them, "go."

Without even having time to blink, he saw a knife coming from the air, directly at his chest. He felt like in a Hitchcock movie, all that was needed was the famous background music and the shower. At last minute, he managed to put both arms in front of his face making an X, to cut off the force of the attack and he pushed right onto Stevens face trying to punch him with his own arms. But Stevens was strong and fought back, trying to get the knife to touch Castle's chest. Castle took one step closer as he pushed; taking momentum to his advantage he made Stevens to step backwards and with one final push he got to hit Stevens with his own arms. Both men retreated to his respective sides.

"Didn't know you had that in you, writer-boy."

"Yeah, me either."

Both were sweating and Castle was breathing heavily.

Stevens took his chance and changing the angle of the weapon. The knife was being held with its edge facing Castle and Stevens was holding it like if it was an extension of his fist. He attacked sideways with a smooth move from his arm, angled directly at Castle's abdomen. Castle jumped back and sucked his stomach as much as he could to avoid the blade.

The following attacks were similar in speed and agility. Castle managed to stop most of them, taking the knife twice. There was only one more attack and he had to take the weapon or he would fail.

Castle was watching the knife intently, like it would tell him its next move. He was tired and all he wanted to do was to go home with Kate and snuggle on the couch with her or in his bed and cuddle. He took a flying look to his love and saw her with a huge smile on her face, encouraging him. He winked at her and continued to stare at his opponent, he felt less tired now.

Stevens weighted his options. Just one more attack and it would be over. Castle had managed to stop 7 of the 9 attacks and managed to take his knife from him twice. He was surprised and a little proud that Javier was a great teacher. He would have to invite him for drinks later.

The attacker went for the air again with his right hand; only this time Castle's defense was different. With all the strength he could muster he grabbed Stevens' right forearm with his left hand, pushing it aside and pulling Steven a bit closer. With his right hand, he grabbed his opponent's neck and used his right leg to push him to the floor, falling with him and taking the knife. Castle brought the knife to Stevens' neck, holding it with the edge against his throat. With his chest raising and falling rapidly he managed to smile as the referee was declaring his victory. Castle helped Stevens to stand and shook the man's hand, thanking him for his help.

Hal went to Esposito to congratulate him on his pupil and then talked a bit to Lisbon before leaving. While all of this happened, Rick took advantage of Lisbon's distraction to go to Kate and hugged her tightly as he spoon her around.

He received congratulations from everyone, including Lisbon: "Very nice Castle," she said, "just remember to study for next month. The test will be at 9 a.m. here at the precinct. Don't be late." With a final nod to everyone and a wink for Kate, which Castle was going to be asking about later, she left.

They all agreed a celebration was in order so they planned to meet at the old haunt the next day, to give Castle time to rest. The ride to the loft was quiet but comfortable, Rick was holding Kate's hand and a smile never left his face.

Once at the door of the loft, Rick grabbed Kate and pull her in for a kiss that made both forget their names, filled with love, passion and gratefulness from Rick. When they pulled apart for air, their foreheads were touching, breath mingling and big smiles on their faces. "I've wanted to do that all day" he said in a whisper. "I know the feeling." She whispered back.

He smiled and gave her one last soft and gentle kiss before opening the door to the loft. Before even entering the threshold, he was attacked by a sea of red hair. Alexis pulled him in a big hug before going over to Kate's and hugged her too. Martha was right behind her and Rick gave her a sweet peck on the cheek, Kate gave her a brief hug before Alexis pulled them both to the couch to demand details.

After Castle told the story, with Kate helping him be more realistic, Alexis hugged his father again and told him how proud she was of him. They set up for a movie and ordered pizza. When the food arrived, Kate and Alexis went to pick up the plates as Rick paid. Once Castle was out of ear shot and out of sight, Alexis pull Kate for a hug and thanked the detective for everything, especially for keeping her dad out of harm's way.

After dinner, both little Castle and Martha surprised Rick by bringing a cake that said "Congratulations" in chocolate syrup. The cake was made of chocolate with frosting, all made by Alexis. Rick`s eyes teared up.

When both Rick and Kate were alone in his bedroom, they celebrated in a more mature way.

Exactly one month had gone by since Castle's physical test. Since he had nothing to concentrate on, besides Kate, he had being studying every day, all day. The nights were to spend some quality time with Alexis and dates with his girlfriend.

Since Beckett had begun to work the week following his physical and he had to study, they didn't see much of each other as they were used to. They made it up at nights or when he surprised her to take her to lunch.

Castle had wanted to ask Beckett to move in with him all month, but the chance always slipped his fingers. It was beginning to frustrating him. That, combined with the test approaching was not doing anything good to his mind.

Jim had had dinner at the loft once or twice over the past month with the entire Castle clan and Kate. It was good for him and Rick enjoyed hearing embarrassing stories from Kate's childhood. Jim also told them about the adventures of Lis, Jo and himself when they were growing up.

The calls between Lisbon and Jim had increased over time, Kate noticed this. He was showing it, he was happy most of the time and that shadow of sadness that was on his eyes was almost gone.

It was 9 a.m. and Castle was waiting in the captain's office for Lisbon to show with the test and a room available for him. Five minutes later, he was in the interrogation room number 1 with pencil and paper in hand. He smiled when he entered the room; this was the one Beckett had question him the first time. Good times.

Lisbon had already explained the instructions: 50 questions, hour and a half to answer them and of course, no cheating or he would fail the entire thing completely. Castle just nodded and didn't wait for Lisbon to leave before he was concentrating on the paper.

As he examined the questions, he realized he knew the answers and not even because of all the study. Some of them he knew from cases and from actually paying attention to Kate when she talked. God bless that woman, he thought as he answered.

The test consisted in some law interpretations, practical cases and procedure of the NYPD and its homicide department. In the interpretations he used his writer mind to do the magic, putting a dramatic turn at the tales. The intensity of his story telling skills grew with practical cases and got more dramatic. He faltered a bit with procedure; he was never good at rules and protocols, especially if they took the fun out of mysteries.

An hour and fifteen minutes later, he was done and getting out of the room to find Lisbon which he assumed was in the observation room. His hunch was correct; he met her in the door of the room and handed her the papers with a smile on his face. "The results will be handed to you at the end of the day; you're free to hang in here if you want, Castle."

"Thanks, Boss."

Without any other remark, he went to sit in his chair next to Becket who was concentrated in the most fun experience of being a detective: paperwork. How had she managed to stay sane was beyond her, but at least Castle was back to distract her.

"Done?" She asked still with eyes glued to a folder.

"Yes, Lisbon is handing me the results later. Can you come with me to the break room?"

"Sure. Should I be scared?"

"Don't be silly, come. Please?"

Once in the breaking room, Castle closed all the doors and blinds while Becket was making them some coffee. When she turned around a saw everything closed she got a confused look on her face, she was about to start saying something when Castle hugged her. One of those thank you hugs that made the butterflies in her stomach go wild.

When he pulled apart she had a killer smile on her face. "What was that for?"

"The test had a practical part, I knew all of the answers from our cases, because you took the time to explain everything to me, because of the guys and the captain took me in as one of their own."

"You've earned it, Rick. You've worked hard." She kissed him softly and sweetly and pulled apart before things got deeper." Now come, the guys must be wondering why you closed everything."

"Sure. Are you coming to the loft tonight?"

"Yeah, I'm sure Alexis planned something."

"Oh, do you know something?" He asked excited.

"Just using common sense."

"Right, right, but is there something to know?"

They both sat in their respective seats.

"No. Now, I need to finish paperwork. Go play with the boys or something."

"Nah, they're working, I'll just hang here with you."

Beckett took a peek to the boys' desks, they were playing catch. She hid her face in paperwork so he couldn't notice the smile that bloom on her face.

…..

At 5 p.m. since they had no cases, Kate was getting ready to leave, Castle holding her jacket for her, when they heard heels coming their way. It was Lisbon with a single piece of paper in one hand and the other hidden behind her back.

"Castle, are you leaving without your results?"

"No, ma'am, I was just coming to your office."

"Hmm, well I must say. I expected different from your test." Castle visibly gulped, Lisbon had a disapproving look. "Here, see for yourself." She handed him the piece of paper and he grabbed it with shaky hands.

As he read the note, his face went from serious and worried to a hell of a smile, splitting his face in two. He looked up at Lisbon and had to control his impulse of hugging her." Are you serious?"

Lisbon changed her look and gave him a smile. "I am. You'll have to work a little on procedure, but with your history I'm not surprised." That earned a smile from Beckett.

"Look, read!" He handed the paper to Beckett, soon being joined by Esposito and Ryan.

Both read over Beckett's shoulder. "Hey, congratz Bro. seems like you'll be helping again." Said Esposito clapping him on the shoulder.

"Yeah, nice job, man."

"Thanks guys. Hey, it's still early, let's go to Remy's. What do you think?"

"Sure."

"I'm in."

Esposito and Ryan responded respectively.

"Castle, one more thing." Lisbon handed him what she was holding behind her back and it took everything in his power not to squeal like a little girl, so he bit his knuckles and grabbed the gun with its holster with the other hand. He turned to Kate with a huge smile on his face, secretly asking with his eyes if she was comfortable with him having the gun. She nodded slightly, a smile appearing on her face. She was proud of him.

Castle placed the holster on his belt and took out the 9 mm, Smith and Wesson, making sure the safety was on, he admired the weapon. He shouldn't feel this happy about holding a gun, but what represented had him flying over the moon.

None of them noticed Lisbon walking away, except Beckett. She caught her eye when Lisbon was closing the door to her office and they both smiled to each other. One thanking the other for the opportunity and the other one giving her approval.

…..

It was a little after 10 at night. Everyone was at bed or at their respective homes, except for Rick and Kate who were on the living room of his loft, sitting on the couch sipping at a glass of wine. Earlier, everyone had surprised him by being at the loft. Alexis and Martha were there with cake, Jim Beckett along with Lanie, Esposito and Ryan too. Everybody was having a great time and Castle couldn't wipe the smile from his face.

A few minutes before everyone left, Jim went to the kitchen where Rick was looking for some glasses. "Hey, Rick, congratulations again."

"Thank you, Jim."

"Rick," his tone was serious and suddenly Castle felt a mild fear, it was after all his future father in law, "Thank you."

Castle did not expect that. "Sir?"

"I know why you did this, even thought I was the one to give Lis a little push."

"Sir, no. I'm the one who should be thanking you. I need to be where Kate is, especially if there is anything I can do to protect her."

"I know, son. That is why I pushed Lis a bit. Just take care of her."

"I will, sir."

With a solemn nod Jim left.

…...

Now, they sat on the couch. Rick suddenly got up and went to his music player and dimmed the lights.

The soft piano melody and the rich and delicate voice of Kenny Rogers filled the ambient. Without a word Rick went to the couch and offered a hand to Kate, which she took with a sweet smile on her face. How he knew she secretly loved that music was beyond her. He pulled her close to his body, hands on her hips. Her arms surrounded his waist and her head buried on the crook of his shoulder.

They swayed slowly. Each was content with being so close to the other, enjoying each other's warmth and love. Another song started to play and he began to sing along in her ear. His voice was like a drug, she couldn't get enough, he was in tune and the sentiment with which was singing was overpowering.

A couple more songs went by when a very familiar and favorite song to her began. And Rick was singing it. She could die a happy woman.

Lady, I'm your knight in shining armor and I love you
You have made me what I am and I am yours
My love, there's so many ways I want to say I love you
Let me hold you in my arms forever more. At this, he tightened his arms around her.

He kept singing and she felt she was in heaven. When the final lyrics ended, he pulled apart a bit to look her in the eyes. He had to see her reaction to his next words.

"Move in with me."

The next song started to play, but neither of them noticed. "Are you serious?" She asked. She had to be sure she wasn't hearing things.

"More than anything, Kate. You're it, my lady. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I love you. Move in with me."

Kate had unshed tears in her eyes and she blinked them away, he wiped them from her cheeks delicately with his thump. She smiled. "Yes, I'll move in with you."

He hugged her and spoon her around in the air, laughing, making her laugh too. When he set her down, he cupped her cheeks with both hands and with the most loving eyes she had ever seen, he kissed her deeply. When they pulled apart, she whispered in his ear. "You really are my knight in shiny armor and I love you, Rick, so much."

The End!


So, this is it! please let me know your thoughts on this one... there are so many important things happening here.

When I have a bit more time, I'll write a sequel if you guys want, but it wont be for some time...college is a real annoying distraction to writers... u.u

I want to thank, from the bottom of my heart, to all of those who read, review, favorite, followed You have no idea how much this means to me :) you guys ROCK!

Love, AC.