Summary: All secrets eventually see the light of day. Spoilers for Rise.

Author's Note: Apparently I've been on a role lately with angsty one-shots; this is my third one in two weeks. I guess sometimes the mood just strikes, you know? We all know that when Castle and Beckett find out about each other's secrets this season it's not going to be pretty…this is my take on it. Takes place about three months after Rise. Also, a special thanks to everyone who responded to my question about this fic on Tumblr!

Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own them.


Secrets

December 20, 2011

Castle was on his way to the kitchen for a glass of water when a knock at the door startled him from his thoughts. He had been working on Beckett's case all afternoon and his body had gone on autopilot while his mind combed through the facts for what seemed like the millionth time. Something still was not adding up.

He detoured to the entryway and cracked open the door to reveal a haggard-looking Kate Beckett.

"Beckett," he managed, confused as to why she would be at his doorstep at...he looked at his watch…almost ten o'clock on a Tuesday night.

"Hey," she said meekly and he stepped aside, allowing her entry, while his brain struggled to snap back to reality.

"Is everything okay?" he asked tentatively, shutting the door and then retracing his steps to the kitchen. She followed him quietly, unsure of what to say.

"I'm not sure," she admitted. "I'm just...God, this makes me sound ridiculous, but I didn't want to be alone. I..."

She trailed off as Castle turned to face her and she felt his hand settle on her shoulder. "Kate, there's nothing wrong with needing company sometimes, especially after what you've been through lately."

Logically, she knew that. She did. But she was not accustomed to finding herself in this position. "I know."

Castle lowered his hand and turned back to the refrigerator.

"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked, straightening up and offering her a glass of ice water.

Kate shrugged. "I'm not sure."

He closed the fridge and indicated the main room. "Why don't we just hang out and watch TV or something and you can talk when you're ready?"

She certainly did not have a better suggestion. "Sure."

They made their way into the living room and it was not until Castle was lowering himself onto the couch that he realized that the door to his office was open and he had left the murder board on. He was about to excuse himself to go turn it off when he saw Kate freeze, water glass halfway to her mouth.

She set the glass on the coffee table and turned. "Castle, what's that?" She hoped her voice sounded steadier than it felt.

"Ummm...it's...don't worry about it," he managed.

"That's my picture in the center," she pointed out, taking a step towards the office, and Castle moved as well, hoping that by some miracle he could manage to prevent her from seeing any more than she already had.

"Nikki Heat is based on you." If he was hoping for unaffected nonchalance, he failed miserably.

"Yeah, but last time I checked, Hal Lockwood and Detective Raglan weren't part of the plot."

"Kate, it's nothing. Just leave it alone," he pleaded. This was not the time for her to find out all of this.

She whirled around. "Nothing? You call that nothing? You've been investigating my case behind my back and the whole time you've been saying to my face that we will get this guy."

"We will, Kate. I promised you that and I have no intention of not following through on it."

"So you decided the best way to accomplish that would be to lie to me?" she snapped. "That's not we. That's you and your insatiable need to play hero."

"No, I just..."

"Castle, how could you hide this from me? You know how important this is to me. You know that I need to solve this case and you even know why I need to. You had no right to interfere."

"Kate, if you keep digging, you're going to get yourself killed."

"You don't know that."

"Yes, I do." She opened her mouth to protest but he stopped her. "I do. The day I we talked to Halstead a man called me, an old friend of Montgomery's. He received a package from Montgomery after the shooting, a package that must remain hidden. If that information is discovered, or if you try to uncover it, he informed me that they would kill you. And Kate, I'm not going to let that happen."

"So what, you were just planning to keep this from me, to keep steering me away from the truth?"

"No," he protested immediately. "I've been working on it for you. I've been trying to solve it because I can dig around more without causing suspicion. I can always pass it off as research for a book if someone catches me poking around somewhere."

"So you decided that it was okay to risk your own life but not mine?"

"I didn't mean it like that, I..."

"It's my life, Castle, and you have no right to try to control that."

"I'm your partner," he shot back. "And it's my job to keep you safe. It's my job to keep these guys from getting to you."

"By keeping secrets about my mother? By preventing me from finding the answers that will allow me to put this to rest and move on with my life? I thought you said you lov..." Kate stopped abruptly, clamping down on the inside of her cheek to prevent herself from finishing that sentence.

"I said what?" he asked in shock.

She shook her head. "Nothing."

Castle stepped forward and grabbed her by the forearms before she could flee. "That's not nothing, Kate. Finish was you were going to say."

She looked away. "No."

He released one arm, using his fingers to raise her chin and force her to meet his eyes. "Tell me you didn't lie to me."

Kate attempted to look down again but he would not allow it. "I'm sorry," she choked out.

"You remembered?" His voice held a combination of anger and betrayal.

She looked him squarely in the eyes. As hard as this was to say, she knew that he deserved to hear the truth. "I never forgot."

He jerked his hands away from her as though he had been burned and Kate stepped back in shock. Castle collapsed onto the couch, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.

"Castle..." she knelt beside him and laid a hand on his arm.

His head shot up. "I trusted you," he exclaimed, yanking his arm away from her touch and not giving her a chance to explain. "I trusted you and you lied right to my face, Kate."

"Yeah, well now you know how I feel," Kate snapped.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he asked, fixing her with an angry glare.

"This," she indicated his office. "You've been hiding this from me for months out of some misguided quest for my safety."

"If you understood the extent of my feelings for you then you wouldn't see it as misguided," he yelled.

"And if you understood mine then you'd realize why I lied."

Castle looked up in surprise. "What?"

"You think I lied just for the hell of it?" Kate questioned, her eyes daring him to agree with that statement. "You think I didn't have a good reason for doing so?"

"Oh, you mean like you wanting to run away scared again, just like you do anytime anyone gets too close to you?" he retorted.

"That's not true," Kate denied even though she knew he was right.

"Yes it is." It still took her by surprise every time he called her out like that. He used to just go with the flow but ever since the shooting he had stopped putting up with it.

"Fine, it's true," she conceded. "But that's not why I didn't tell you. I just didn't want to hurt you."

"Yeah, well it's too late for that," he retorted.

"Rick, please, I'm sorry," she pleaded. "I realize now that I was wrong, so please give me the chance to make things right."

"You want me to sit here while you tell me the truth? To listen to all the reasons you can't say it back? Why don't you just run over my heart with a steamroller and save yourself the trouble?"

He stood, fully intending to shut himself in the office, and was taken completely off-guard when Kate's hand connected with the side of his face, the loud smacking sound echoing through the otherwise quiet room.

"What the he..."

"Damnit, Castle, if that's what you think of me then maybe you don't deserve the truth."

"You lied, Kate," he accused. "It's pretty obvious what you're going to say."

She advanced on him. "Oh really? Then why did you lie to me?"

"To protect you," he shouted, ignoring the fact that it had been intended as a rhetorical question.

"So you're allowed to keep things from me to protect me but I'm not allowed to do the same to you?"

"You expect me to believe that that was your reasoning?" he asked incredulously.

The look on her face stopped him in his tracks. She was angry and scared but there was no mistaking the honesty and love also present in her eyes. "Yes," she answered truthfully.

They stood in silence, a battle of wits, perhaps, before Castle finally gave in and reclaimed his seat on the couch. Kate lowered herself onto the cushion next to him, careful to leave space between them.

"I wasn't ready, Castle. You saw me when I first went back to work. I was a mess, and that was after three months of recovery and talking to the department psychologist. I flat out told you after your book signing that I wasn't ready, and I figured it would be easier if you just didn't know rather than having to sit there and listen to me make up some lame excuse."

"And so you decided that kicking me out of your life for three months was in my best interest?"

"No, I just...I was selfish, okay? Once we talked, I knew I couldn't keep lying to your face but I couldn't deal with the truth either. Not seeing you seemed like the best option."

Castle snorted.

"Would it make you feel better if I told you it was hell for me too?" Kate offered.

He was too upset to even consider empathizing with her. "Not really."

"I was going to tell you eventually," she admitted, hoping to salvage what was left of his trust in her.

"Yeah? When? It's been six months, Kate."

"When this case is over, when I was at a place where I could put one hundred percent of myself into a relationship rather than half-ass it while I hid behind my past." She reached out and took his hand, trailing her thumb over the back of his knuckles. "I'm so sorry, Rick. If I'd known it was going to blow up in my face like this I would have just told you the truth six months ago."

"What would you have said?" he asked curiously, feeling his anger beginning to ebb away.

"That..." she took a deep breath and forced herself to meet his eyes. "That I love you, Rick. I do, and it scares the shit out of me and I'm not ready to deal with it yet, and we deserve to have a chance and I don't want to ruin that by not being able to give it my all, and...I know I'm rambling, but...I'm sorry," she finished, blinking furiously in an attempt to hide her tears.

Castle stood and for a split second Kate thought he was going to walk away, but then he offered his hands and pulled her up and into his embrace.

She wrapped her arms around his midriff. "I'm so sorry, Rick," she murmured, her face buried in his neck.

"I'm not sure I can forgive you yet," he said quietly, and despite the obvious tension radiating off of both of them, Kate could not ignore the chills that traveled down her spine at the feel of his lips brushing against her ear.

"And I'm still pissed at you for hiding the case from me," Kate pointed out, "so why don't we call it even and leave it at that?"

He pulled back to look her in the eye. "I'm not letting you dive back into this."

"I have to..."

"I'm not, Kate. I watched you die once and I'm not going to let that happen again. I can't lose you. I wouldn't survive that."

Kate was shocked to see moisture collecting in his eyes and for the first time she began to appreciate just how much her shooting had affected him.

"At least tell me what you've found?"

"I can't Kate, not until I trust that you won't run into the line of fire," he replied honestly.

"I won't," she replied quickly.

"I just found out that you lied to me," Castle said sternly. "I don't trust you with this right now."

Kate stepped back and sunk back into the couch, dropping her head into her hands much the way Castle had just a few minutes before.

"What?" he asked, worried.

She shook her head but did not look up. "This is a mess. We're a mess."

He sat as well. "I know."

Kate looked up at him. "God, what do we do, Castle?"

"I don't know," he replied honestly. "I want to trust you. And I do, with most things." He reassured her.

"But not with this," she finished.

"Not with this."

"Castle, I have to find these answers." Kate was practically begging but she was beyond caring.

"And I'll give them to you when it's safe to do so." She opened her mouth in protest but he held up a hand to cut her off. "If I tell you right now when there are so many loose ends, you'll start digging, and don't even try to deny that. I know you, Kate. And you can't do the digging. Let me take care of that and when we have enough to take these guys down, I promise you will be the first to know."

"That's not enough."

Castle shrugged. "Well, it's going to have to be because I'm not letting them get to you again."

"Cas..."

"Let me have this one, Kate," he pleaded. "Let me work on this so that they can't get to you again before we have a chance to take them down. I promised you we'd make them pay and we will. Together. And then you can finally find the closure you deserve and put this all behind you."

"I..."

"Please, Kate. Please. Don't give these guys another reason to try to kill you."

"Fine," she relented. "I promise not to dig, but in return you have to promise not to keep hiding this from me."

"I'll tell you when it's safe," he repeated. "I will, I swear."

"But..."

"I messed up, Kate. I did, and I know that. I shouldn't have kept this from you but I didn't know any other way to keep you safe and that's my top priority. And I know I have no right to ask you to trust me on this, but I'm going to anyways."

Kate was waging an internal battle. Part of her was screaming not to trust him but the part of her that knew him and understood his protective instincts wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. After all, she had screwed up too, and if she expected his forgiveness then she was going to have to offer the same.

"Okay," she said at last. "I messed up too and it's not fair to ask you to overlook that if I don't do the same for you."

He let out the breath he did not realize he was holding and Kate herself breathed a sigh of relief.

"Thank you," Castle said sincerely.

"But if you do it again, Castle, we're through, and there will be no weaseling your way back in," she threatened, and he had no doubt that she would hold true on these words. "You know what this case means to me and if you screw it up I will never forgive you. Got it?"

Castle reached out and took both of her hands in his, his eyes begging her to believe him. "I'm not going to let you down again, Kate. I promise."


Thoughts?