In spite of an incredible 'do over' the following morning, things were far from rosy. Rick
wanted to deal with his problem the same way he had years before, on his own and
with time. Kate had to fight him on this. Three days later it took the guilt of another
angry outburst and a smashed coffee cup before he agreed to see a therapist. After
some research and a few phone calls they had an appointment scheduled for ten
o'clock Friday morning.

Friday morning was a bitch for Kate. It took multiple attempts to roust him out of bed.
She pulled the covers down, twice. He pulled them back up. She finally pulled off the
covers and dragged them downstairs. When she heard the shower going she was
relieved. An hour later she was knocking on the locked bathroom door telling him he
needed to hurry up. When he came out he tromped off to the closet. She sat on the
bed and watched as he changed clothes three times. She tried to get him to eat
before they left, but he refused, only to change his mind when she said it was time
to go. She sighed and he gave up. Grabbing an apple, he headed for the car.

They drove back to the city in silence; if she could call listening to the loud yet muffled
music squelching from his ear buds a type of silence. When they arrived, she had to
wait in the lobby for him to catch up; she held fast to his hand the rest of the way. In
the waiting room she watched as he fidgeted and squirmed in his chair. It wasn't even
noon, yet and she felt exhausted. How the hell could worrying about someone take so
much out of you? Rick's greeting when he met the doctor was terse and he sank into
the office couch where he remained tight lipped for most of the session. Kate did most
of the talking. With enough information from her, the doctor was able to ask him yes or
no questions to try and draw him into the conversation. By the end of the session Rick
had relaxed enough so that he looked like he was sitting on the couch and not trying to
hide in it. He was even agreeable to returning for another session with the doctor on
the following Monday.

Come Monday he was diagnosis with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) by the doctor.
The proposed treatment, called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR),
was relatively new to Psychiatry but it has surprisingly quick results. The eight step process
would eliminate or greatly reduce the emotional distress that he experienced when
remembering his trauma. His bi-weekly therapy sessions, combined with at home relaxation
and distraction techniques produced a remarkable improvement by the third week. The
sound in his head was gone and he no longer physically relived his memories. They were
still there though; at least six or more times a day she would find him with his eyes closed
as he used the relaxation techniques he'd learned to help deal with the memories. For a
distraction, he began carrying around a small book of Sudoku puzzles in his pocket.

Things were going so well, that during lunch on Saturday afternoon Kate suggested they
could probably head back to the loft the following Monday. The change in his mood was
abrupt. His anxiety was back and his therapy techniques were forgotten. When she tried
to remind him to close his eyes and relax he lashed out and told her to "…quit trying to act
like my fuckin' therapist". He was out the back door, slamming it as he stormed off to the
pool room where he remained, with the radio blaring for hours. She knew his anger wasn't
about her; it was about the fact that they still had not addressed the one lingering problem
to his recovery, his relationship with his mother and daughter.

During the weeks they'd been in the Hamptons, Kate had been the one who kept in contact
with them. Rick said he wanted to focus on getting better but Kate knew he was avoiding
them. She didn't press the issue; she only asked that he text Alexis at least once a day so
that she wouldn't feel like he had abandoned her. He agreed to that, and he and Alexis fell
into a routine of texting each other in the morning and in the evening. He was always happy
to receive her text, but by the time it was over she could tell he was stressed because his eyes
always closed as soon as he put his phone down.

She pressed the issue at his therapy session on Monday. Aside from the first visit to the doctor,
all the subsequent visits had been one on one with Rick and Kate stayed in the waiting room till
his sessions were over. That morning, when he was called into the doctor's office, Kate stood up
and barged in ahead of him. Neither of them sat, and the doctor could feel the tension as it bristled
between them.

"So, who wants to go first?" The doctor asked.

"We have a problem," Kate blurted out.

Rick's mocking laughter was quick to follow. "We? Why don't you just come out and say it Kate?
I have a problem. I'm the one who's all fucked up here!"

"This is not just your problem!" She snapped back at him. "I thought we were a couple? If so,
that means what ever affects you affects me."

"Just because you're my girlfriend doesn't give you license to be intrusive." He didn't realize how
condescending he sounded.

"Girlfriend?" She rounded on him with her hands on her hips. "Is that all I am? I thought we were
past that? And look whose talking about being intrusive; you've been intruding in my life for the
past four years!"

"Well if you didn't like it, why didn't you just say something!"

"I believe I did! Several times, in fact!"

He had no reply to that truth, and so there they stood, glaring at one another.

The doctor was the next one to speak. "Why don't you two both have a seat so that we can
discuss what's going on here?"

They both sat down…on opposite ends of the couch.

Rick avoided all eye contact and fidgeted in his seat as Kate spilled the beans to the doctor, who
was less than pleased that this issue had been kept hidden. It represented a setback to his
therapy. When the doctor said that family sessions would be needed Rick jumped up from his
seat like he was going to bolt from the room. He paced the room instead. The doctor reiterated
the importance of family sessions and insisted that his therapy could not continue without them.
Rick reluctantly agreed, and when he sat back down on the couch it was to sit next to Kate. He
was relieved when she reached for his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He was relieved
that she still cared after his stupid outburst, and he hoped her love would be enough, because he
knew for sure that when his daughter found out what he'd done she would never be able to forgive him.

The night before his session on Wednesday, Kate called his mother and told her she needed to
come. Martha had been anticipating and dreading this call. She knew there was more going on
than she'd been told. Truthfully, she didn't want to know. Her guilt already had her drinking
herself to sleep every night, how could she possibly cope with anything more? How could he?
She never slept that night. She spent the evening in his office, sitting at his desk, looking at his
accomplishments neatly stacked on his bookshelves. She wondered how he ever managed to
survive without having a father, and having a mostly absent, frequently drunken two bit actress
as a mother. Tears plagued her most of the night, but she never drank the scotch and soda she
held in her hand for comfort. Hours later, when the sun poked its way through the windows, she
poured the watery drink down the kitchen sink and set about getting ready for the meeting that
wouldn't come for another five hours. Her nerves had her arriving at the doctor's office an hour
early. The receptionist brought her a cup of decaff from the back and she nursed it while she
waited. Forty five minutes later she nearly spilled what was left into her lap when her son came
through the door. She hastily set the cup down and pulled him into a hug. She knew she would
cry when she saw him again, but the reason for her tears surprised her. She thought they would
be caused from the guilt she carried. Instead, they came from seeing him after nearly a month
apart. She pulled away and dabbed her tears.

"I'm sorry," she said fanning at her face. "I'm just so happy to see you."

Rick pulled her back into another hug. "I missed you too."

Those four words brought back her guilt and a new flood of tears.

Kate reached out and squeezed his arm and the pained look her gave her told her all he really
wanted to do was run…but he stayed. He knew that if he ran he could never go home, and as
he held his mother he realized how much he really did miss her. Running was no longer an option,
but he was afraid he would lose her anyway when she found out he had tried to kill himself all
those years ago. He would surely lose her somewhere at the bottom of a bottle. He began to
second guess himself and the doctor. Maybe he should just leave? He didn't have time to follow
through on his thought; the receptionist appeared and called them into the office. Kate sent them
on in while she waited outside.

It went about as bad as he had expected. Her tears and self recrimination became so heart
wrenching that it wasn't until he started crying that she was able to stop. She realized her
guilt was selfish. He was the one who was hurting and her tears were only making him feel
worse. She moved in close to him on the couch and pulled him into her. He cried on her
shoulder as he kept apologizing for what he did.

"I'm sorry…I didn't mean it, I was just angry and I didn't know what else to do. I wanted you
to come find me, but it was too late…and I couldn't undo it…and I'm sorry."

It was her turn to apologize. "And I'm sorry for being such a crappy mother. You always had
to be the adult when you should have been just a kid." She managed a little laugh. "Maybe
that explains why you act like a twelve year old sometimes, you're trying to recapture your
lost childhood."

He had to laugh too as he leaned back and wiped the tears away. "What do I need a therapist
for when I have you?"

"Beats me kiddo."

They had both survived the worst, but one session could not repair their individual guilt that they
carried. That would come with time. The doctor recommended that Martha come in for private
sessions of her own and she readily agreed. She wasn't about to let her son down, not a second

It was around one o'clock when they left the doctor's office and they stopped for a quick bite to
eat before heading home. After lunch, the combination of the warm weather, the stress of the day
and the heavy meal had both Rick and Martha nodding off in the car five minutes down the road.
Kate smiled. One down, one to go.

When they arrived home she sent them both off to bed. Martha looked like she had aged another
ten years and Rick didn't look much better. He wanted Kate to join him but she begged off saying
that she wasn't tired. She really wanted to be the one to greet Alexis when she came home. The
note they found to her grandmother on the counter said she was off shopping with her friends and
that she would be home by five at the latest, it was already three. Alexis was going to be a little
surprised to find her dad there and also a little pissed to find out where her grandmother went
without telling her this morning. Kate was a little surprised herself to find out that neither of them
had told her a thing, especially since she was the most mature person in their family. She was
determined to give the girl the respect and honesty she deserved.

She was bent over rummaging in the crisper drawer of the fridge looking for some idea of what to
make for dinner when Alexis came home. From the living room she thought Kate was her grandmother.

"Hey Grams, how was your day?"

They were both startled. Kate hadn't heard her come in and Alexis was shocked when she spun around
to face her and slammed the refrigerator door in her surprise.

"Kate!, what are you doing here?"


"Is my dad here?"

'…yes, but..."

She turned to go find him so Kate spoke up.

"Alexis, wait!"

Kate's plea stopped her in her tracks, something wasn't right. She turned around and looked warily at her.

This was not going right. "Can you have a seat?" Kate asked as she motioned to one of the bar stools.
"I need to talk to you about a few things."

She sat, but she was ill at ease. "What's going on?"

"That's what I want to talk to you about." Kate took a deep breath and sat down in the empty chair next to Alexis.

"You know that you Grandmother and your dad love you very much."

Alexis shook her head in agreement.

"Well, sometimes that love causes them to do the wrong thing for the right reason. You just need to
understand that they are only trying to protect you, because no matter how old you are, you will
always be a little girl to them. I know you're not, so I want you to know what happened today."

"What happened?"

"This morning, your grandmother and your dad had a joint therapy session…"

"Why didn't they tell me?"

"Well, you may hate me for saying this, but it's none of your business. They are two adults who need
to be left alone to deal with a very personal and private matter. And before you get too indignant with
me, your turn is on Friday."


"You're going with your dad to a therapy session on Friday. Today was a difficult day for him. Both he
and your grandmother were emotionally exhausted and have been asleep since we got back two
hours ago, and as bad as today was, talking to you on Friday will only be worse, so trust me when
I say this, you're not as grown up as you think you are…none of us are. I just want you to be prepared
…I need you to understand that life is not all rainbows and unicorns…"

"I'm not a child!"

"Yeah, well we're all children until life smacks us upside the head for the first time." Kate's sarcasm
wasn't lost on Alexis but it had her worried.

"You're starting to scare me Kate."

"I'm sorry, that's not what I'm trying to do here, I just care about you and I don't want you to be
blindsided by what's going on with your dad."

"Why don't you tell me then?"

"As much as I want to, I can't. He said had to do this for himself and for you, so be patient for one more day.
And take it easy on both of them when they wake up, I don't think they can deal with any more drama
today, ok?"

"Don't worry Kate; I'll do what's best for everybody."

"There you go again," Kate smiled and nudged her elbow. "…acting like a grownup."

Alexis laughed and gave her a hug.


The reunion when her dad woke up was a happy one. The conversations stayed superficial and preparing
dinner along with the cheesy comedy they watched afterwards kept everyone's attention off the elephant
in the room. That was until the next day, when the superficial conversation ran dry and the elephant began
flailing itself around in the middle of the living room floor as it tried to take an imaginary mud bath. Alexis
begged off for a few hours claiming she had a date with Ashley. He was out of town for the weekend but
she needed a reason to leave for a while. Kate needed to get away too and she thought of a perfect reason.

She came up behind Rick as he sat on the couch. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and kissed
him on the cheek. "I think I'm going to run back to the Hamptons and collect some of our things. Most of
my stuff is there and I'm going to need my things."

"I'll come with you."

He started to get up but she pushed him back down. "No, you stay here and take it easy, besides, I'm
suppose to carry everything down remember."

He laughed and let her go. He knew they needed some time apart and he needed some time alone with
his mother. Kate dialed Alexis' number as she headed down to the parking garage.

"Hey." Alexis answered.

"Hey yourself, where are you at?"

"Um…I'm at the mall with Ashley."

"So, would you rather stay on your date with Ashley, or would you like to ride with me out to the Hamptons
to pick up some of my stuff?"

"How did you know?"

'I needed to get away too, so you comin' or what?"

"I'm coming. You can pick me up at the little deli around the corner."

They were both still laughing when Kate picked her up five minutes later.


The time apart was the best thing for everybody. After an awkward fist hour of their rip, Kate and Alexis found
something to talk about when Alexis turned on the radio. They talked about songs, music and their favorite
bands. Kate was soon transported back to her days as a teenager and she lowered her guard and began to
talk about her first boyfriend and her days in high school. When they arrived back at the loft six hours later
they were giggling like a pair of best friends when they burst through the door. The shocked looks on Rick and
Martha's face sent them into further fits of laughter. Kate did her best to cover for Alexis.

"Guess who I found downstairs?"

"Me!" Alexis yelled out, and they started laughing again.

Rick gave both of his girls a kiss and he headed back down with Kate to help unload the car. He began to suspect
what had happened when he noticed the two empty sodas in the cup holders and Alexis's favorite candy wrappers
littering the passenger seat.

"Date with Ashley, huh?" He looked over to Kate as he waved one of the candy wrappers at her. She snagged
it from his hand.

"Hey, leave her alone. We all needed a break today."

He grabbed her hand with the wrapper and pulled her into a kiss. "I know, I'm glad you guys had a good time."

"I'm sorry I ran off on you too, so how was your day?"

"Actually, it wasn't that bad. We talked some more. She cried some more. But we got through it ok. We were
watching a movie when you came in."

The movie was forgotten as everyone pitched in to help with the luggage. Rick and Kate lugged everything to
the elevator and Alexis rode up and unloaded it all into the hallway. Martha carried some of the smaller bags
inside and they were soon all carrying the last of it into the loft. Kate disappeared into Rick's bedroom to start
putting her things away and Rick cornered his daughter in the kitchen as she took a pop from the fridge.

"Are you ok with Kate staying here?"

"Sure dad, she and I already talked about it on the drive to…," Alexis slapped her hand over her mouth. Rick
just smiled at her flub and pulled her into a hug.

"It's ok; you left all your incriminating evidence in the car."

Alexis and Martha both left them alone and headed to their rooms for the night.

"She outed herself," Rick commented to Kate as he returned to the bedroom to help her unpack.

"I figured she would. She may be smart, but she's not too bright. I think she gets that from you."

"Hey! I resemble that remark!"

She laughed and threw a pair of balled up socks from her suitcase at him. She then threw several pairs of
underwear at him, followed by a bra and a slinky nightgown. He began making space in his dresser for the
things she's thrown at him and she watched as he started to daintily fold her things before placing them
in the drawer.

She waited just long enough before she spoke up. "Yep, he's smart but he ain't too bright."

He looked back over his shoulder and saw that she had undressed and was lying on his bed dressed only
in her matching bra and panties. He grabbed the rest of her garments from atop the dresser and shoved
them in the drawer. "All done," he said as his eyes roamed her body.

"Yeah, well I'm not," she teased.


The good day and night went a long way in helping to displace some of his anxiety about Friday morning's
session with Alexis. He was cheerful at breakfast and even upbeat on the drive over. He quieted down on
the walk from the parking garage, and held her hand tightly in the elevator. Alexis noticed his mood change
and her anxiety also increased. Kate had to give him a tug out of the elevator and by the time they arrived
outside the door to the doctor's office, she had to shove them both inside. His left leg began to bounce
nervously as they waited and the worry on Alexis's face began to grow. Kate reached down and stilled his
jitters with a hand to his knee. "Thanks," he said. Seconds later he was biting his thumbnail.

When the receptionist called for them, Rick tried to pull Kate along too. She pried her hand loose from his
and gave him a hug. "You can do this," she whispered into his ear before kissing him on the cheek and
shoving him through yet another door. The fear on Alexis' face when she turned back and to look at Kate
one last time nearly broke her heart. All she could do now was wait and hope for the best.

The plan had been for Rick to be the one to tell his daughter what had happened and the doctor would help
guide the session if needed. The plan quickly went out the window. He began to hyperventilate and kept
sputtering, "…I can't…I can't." The doctor quickly calmed him by initiating the therapy techniques used during
their sessions. After he had calmed his anxiety, he stole a quick look at his daughter. The fear and confusion
in her eyes broke his resolve. He leaned in and whispered to the doctor.

"I can't do this. I know I should be the one to tell her, but I can't."

"I told you at your last session, you don't have to be the one to tell her, as long as someone does that's all
that matters."

"I'll be right back." He jumped up from the couch and went back into the waiting room.

Kate was surprised when the door flew open and Rick came out. He knelt down before her and held her hands.

"I couldn't tell her. I tried, but I can't. I couldn't breathe and then I panicked and I started to hyperventilate
again before I almost lost it. I know I'm asking a lot, but would you tell her for me, please, I can't put this off
again because I don't think I'll ever be able to tell her if I do. She trusts you and I don't want the doctor to
be the one to do it."

He expected her to be scared or even angry at his request but he never expected her to laugh. She took
his face in her hands and locked her eyes on to his.

"Jesus Rick, do I really have to get down on one knee. What part of for better or for worse don't you understand,
you don't even have to ask because when I told you I was all in, it didn't mean with exceptions." She leaned in
to kiss the dumbfounded look off his face.

"You were serious?"

She stood and pulled him to his feet. "Yep, smart, but not too bright." She held tight to his hand and led him back
into the room.

Kate noticed the look of relief on Alexis' face when she walked into the room. She sat Rick down next to his
daughter and grabbed a chair from in front of the doctor's desk positioned it in front of them. Kate was
nervous but determined as she sat down. She couldn't just blurt it out so she decided to start where it all
began, with that day at the precinct.

"This all started with a case I was working on while your dad was out of town last month. A young boy's
body was found in a dumpster behind the theatre district. He had been sexually assaulted and murdered.
When your dad came into the precinct he recognized a picture of one of the suspects and he became so
upset that he ran off." Mentioning that her dad had tried to kill someone was off the table. "I went to your
home to look for him but he wasn't there. Your grandmother was, so I asked her if she ever knew the
suspect. She did. Your grandmother had been engaged to him when your dad was just a boy. He even
lived with them for a time."

Kate waited for the information to sink in and glanced over at Rick; he tried to look blank faced and stoic.
When she looked back at Alexis there were tears in her eyes. She reached for her dad's hand and
held it tight. He kept his gaze focused on the floor as his brow furrowed and his jaw began to tremble.
She hated to continue, but she had promised him.

"But that's not what this is all about. The reason your dad ran off that day was the same reason for the
attack he had at your house last month. He remembered something he did as a boy that was so traumatic
he couldn't deal with it, physically or emotionally." Kate's own tears welled up when she spoke again.
"Your dad was only a thirteen year old boy when he tried to kill himself. He tried to hang himself but all he
succeeded in doing was torturing himself as he hung there till he passed out."

"Oh my god. Dad!"

He pulled his hand from hers and hid his face..

"I'm sorry." He began to cry. "I didn't mean it, I would never hurt you. I just didn't know. I didn't know."
He shook his head and looked up into his daughters tearful eyes. He reached up to touch her face and to
beg her forgiveness.

"I'm so sorry. I know you must hate me, but I'm so sorry for what I tried to do to you."

Alexis was at a loss as to what he was talking about and she looked to Kate for answers. She was just
as confused and looked to the doctor. The doctor seemed to know what was happening and motioned
for her to keep him talking. She took hold of the hand still in his lap.

"You didn't do anything to her Rick, she's right here and she's fine."

He yanked his hand from her grasp and was forced to his feet by the unaddressed anger that burst forth.
"What do you mean I didn't do anything? I tried to kill my own fuckin' daughter! What kind of a dad does
that make me, can you tell me that?"

Alexis was frightened by her dad's outburst, but Kate jumped in his face to confront him.

"You didn't try to kill her Rick, you tried to kill yourself."

"Same difference! I almost destroyed my mother, my daughter and the last thirty years of my life Kate,
I almost destroyed us! Now tell me what kind of a man could do that. Who could possibly love a man like that?"

Kate was shocked by the revelation when it emerged. None of what had happened since that day at the
precinct had been about what happened to him. It was all about what his actions had almost done to the
ones he loved.

Kate held his face again, she held tighter when he tried to pull away.

"A lost, scared, and confused thirteen year old boy tried to do that Rick, not the man I've come to know
and love. Not you." Her words barley lessened the anger in his eyes. She knew she was going to have
to go for broke.

"You're really going to make me do this aren't you?" When she saw a flicker of confusion in his eyes at
what she said, she knew she had a chance. She took hold of his hand and dropped down on one knee.

"Richard Castle, would you finally make an honest woman of me by marrying me and making me your wife,
for better or for worse, and for as long as we both shall live?"

His reply said one thing while his eyes said another. "Dammit woman, I can't possibly marry you now!" He growled.

"And why not?" She smirked at the twinkle in his eye.

"Because you just stole my scene."

The doctor laughed and Alexis was more confused than ever.

"What just happened?" She asked.

'I think I just deflated your dad's ego when I asked him to marry me."

She looked at her dad and then back at Kate. "Was that for real?"

"I don't know Alexis? It's the third time I've asked him and he still hasn't answered me yet."

They both stared at him.

"Yes, ok! Yes, I'll marry you! Jeez, you make me court you for four years and now you
decide to get impatient."

Alexis sprang from the couch and embraced her dad. "I love you so much."

"I love you too."

"This may sound weird dad, but I'm sorry for you and I'm happy for you."

"That's ok sweetie, nothing can surprise me anymore."

"Are you sure about that?" Kate arched an eyebrow at him.

"What do you mean?"

"God, you're slow."


Two weeks later Kate sat at her desk before the morning shift change and pondered the
changes about to take place in her life. She had been dying to tell Lanie and the boys the
news, but the right opportunity never seemed to present itself.

"Just tell them, it's that easy." Rick had been growing frustrated with her excuses.

"It's not that easy and you know it. We're always working. What am I suppose to say. Hey
Lanie what's the vic's time of death and oh by the way…"

"Yeah, well if you won't I will."

"Don't you dare!"

He dropped it and she went back to waiting for the right moment. The moment came when
she least expected it.

Her mind had wandered and the morning shift change had come and gone. She looked across
the room and saw that Ryan and Esposito were sitting at their desks staring at her.

"What?" She called out.

"We were wondering the same thing ourselves." Esposito spoke up to be heard across the room.
"You seemed kind of space out there for a moment."

"Haven't you ever seen anybody thinking before, I was thinking."

"Hey, whatever?" Esposito replied.

"Don't you two have paperwork you need to finish?" She was always pulling the paperwork card
out when she needed to cover an awkward moment and she wondered if they ever noticed.

Esposito pulled up a stack of folders and was beginning to sort through them when his phone
vibrated with a text message. He was surprised when he saw it was from Castle. No one had
see or spoken to him since he'd run out of the precinct almost two months ago. Kate said that
he wanted to wait till the IA investigation was over, but they suspected other reasons.

What he read on his phone was baffling. Get Lanie upstairs ASAP and keep quiet. I have a surprise
none of you will want to miss.
He showed the text to Ryan.

"Well you better hurry up and call her. If she misses whatever it is she'll be pissed."

He took off to the bathroom and returned a minute later.

"She's on her way, but not before asking me a million questions. I finally had to hang up on her."



"Not a smart idea."

An irate Lanie came barreling down the back hallway the same time the elevator opened across
the room. Castle had arrived. Esposito quickly waved his hand across his neck to stop Lanie from
charging in on the scene. She caught the gesture and waited around the corner till it was safe to
sneak over to their desks. They watched and waited as Castle came to a stop in front of Kate's
desk. They could see she was surprised as they were to see him.

"Good morning detective." He played his usual banter for anyone within earshot.

"Castle, what are you doing here?"

Neither of them saw Lanie zip across the hall and crouch down behind Esposito's desk.

"I missed our mornings here, and I'm sure you missed this." He held out her coffee.

"What are you doing, you know I quit drinking coffee," she hissed. "Are you just trying to torture me?"

"Oh come on, I couldn't show up without your coffee, besides, it's decaff."

She stuck out her tongue and made a face at the word decaff. Rick took the second to sneak a peek
at Ryan and Esposito and he could see Lanie's head bobbing behind Esposito's desk. Showtime!

He set the coffee down on her desk and it was a moment before Kate noticed the small velvet box
he'd placed next to it. When she did notice, she scooped it up with both her hands as if she was
trying to hide it.

"Rick, what do you think you're doing?" She glared at him.

"I'm doing what you couldn't." He smiled smugly back at her glare.

She set the box back down on her desk and nervously moved it around before she finally opened it.
She tried her best not to cry.

"It's beautiful."

"But not as beautiful as the woman who'll wear it." He reached over and pulled the ring from the box.
He held her left hand in his and slid the ring onto her finger. When they looked up from the rock on her
hand, they noticed that their friends had joined them.

"Yo! Castle," Ryan quipped. "You were supposed to propose when you gave her the ring. Where's the proposal?"

He glanced up sheepishly from his chair. "Sorry guys, she proposed to me first. I'm just supplying the ring."

"When the hell did that happen?" Lanie demanded.

"About two and a half weeks ago. She said I had to make an honest woman of her, and me, being none to bright,
it took me a while to figure out what she meant by that."

Lanie squealed, Kate blushed and Ryan and Esposito looked confused. Castle knew he needed to help the guys out.

"I've already raised one kid on my own and I'm not doing it by myself this time." He lifted Kate's hand to his lips
and kissed her ring finger. She blushed again.

Lanie squealed again and ran around the desk and pulled Kate out of her seat and into a hug.
"I'm so happy for you two."

Esposito held out his hand to Rick. "Yeah, congratulations bro." As the two shook hands, Ryan
couldn't help but point out the obvious.

"You two danced around each other for more than four years, driving us all crazy I might add,
and now, in a little over a month you've gone from friendship to relationship and now marriage
and a family. You two are nuts."

Everyone looked at Ryan and nobody knew what to say. Rick and Kate were the first to start
laughing and soon all their laughter filled the bullpen.

It was Lanie who noticed that sometime during the laughter Kate had started crying.
She pulled her into another hug.

"What's wrong girl you should be happy?"

"I am Lanie, more than you could possibly know. It's just…I have something else I need to tell you."
She looked over at Ryan and Esposito. "All of you." She reached out for Rick's hand; she couldn't do
this without him.

"I turned in my resignation this morning. In six more hours, I'll no longer be a cop."

Their silence was worse than any recriminations could have ever been. She hugged Esposito to keep
herself from crying. "Besides, you guys don't need me anymore; these last two months have proved
that." She had stopped herself from crying, but she made Esposito cry in the process. He was
frustrated with his emotions and he brusquely wiped a tear away.

"Dammit Castle, why did you have to go and knock her up?" He may have been joking, but they were
all thinking the same thing.

"That's not why I'm leaving guys. There's no rule against being a pregnant detective. It's just…after all
that's happened, I can't do it anymore. I don't want to do it anymore. I don't know if you can understand,
but I need something more. Being a wife and mother may not seem like more to you, but it's a start for me."

Lanie was the first to reply. "I don't care what you do, so long as I'm your bridesmaid at your wedding
and the godmother of your baby, the rest can sort itself out."

"You guys will be my best men, right?" Rick asked Ryan and Esposito

"Isn't it supposed to be 'best man'?" Ryan asked.

"You want me to choose, I can't do that. How about you two arm wrestle for it."

"Hey, that's so not fair!" Ryan complained.

"Ok, how about we Rock, Paper, Scissors for it?" Esposito offered.

"How about I be the godfather and you be the best man?"

"No way, bro. Best man lasts for a day, godfather lasts for a lifetime."

"Coin toss?"

"Nah…number between one and twenty?"

"Let's draw straws!"

"Yeah, I could go for that."

They looked over at the others and found Rick and Lanie staring in awe at their mindless banter. Kate
took the opportunity to roll her eyes at them one last time before she spoke..

"And it's times like this, when I wonder why I didn't quit a long time ago."