This story is dedicated to Miranda & Jenna. I'm so sorry that my Castle obsession has now rubbed off on you, lol.


Richard Castle was a man on a mission. He had a plan, a sure-fire plan.

He was tired of being in limbo where Kate Beckett was concerned…He was tired of just being her partner, just being her friend. He was officially through waiting for Kate and that damned wall of hers to come crashing down.

God, he longed for the day, when he could call Kate his own, dreamed of that day… But recently, Richard Castle had become more of a realist, and his heart was leery about hoping for forever with Detective Kate Beckett.

He had been utterly devastated after her shooting when she didn't contact him for over 3 months…His heart couldn't take another stab like that again, so now he was more cautious where Kate was concerned.

Even though he truly believed that he had finally met his soul-mate, that he was unquestionably her other half, he was afraid Kate wasn't ready to let him prove it to her.

He knew she was the 'one-and-done' type; and unfortunately, with his track record, he didn't believe she'd give him the chance. Hell, she'd had 4 years now to warm up to his boyish charms and never-ending loyalty.

He was only hoping for some small sign from her,...some morsel that she thought more of him than just the famous author, the annoying side-kick, or the dependable tag-a-long,…that he meant more to her than just a dedicated partner. He was looking for some sign that she would allow him to spend quality time with her outside of work, to go out on an actual date together, and to entertain the possibility of a future together.

It was almost 5 months since Kate and he had their enlightening talk on the swings. She had definitely insinuated that she had broken up with Josh for him…She had said that she couldn't completely commit to a new relationship without some of her past being resolved,…without a few chunks falling from her brick wall.

Rick was a very patient man though, and he had Kate to thank for that…Being her shadow now for almost 4 years had proven patience was a necessity, but he was actually starting to feel like it might be a wasted effort…He was starting to feel like the uphill battle of winning Kate Beckett's heart was futile...and it unsettled him.

That's why he was determined to make this last stand with her… It was 'do or die' time for him right now. Everyone at the precinct knew that it wasn't about the books for him anymore. Hell, even Esposito had mentioned that he could write 50 books with the amount of material he had on Detective Beckett.

His was tired of struggling just to make it to first base with Kate. He was tired of holding back the natural instinct to cover her hand with his own when they were in the patrol car together alone. He wanted to whisper in her ear how utterly extraordinary she was after an extremely difficult interrogation. He wanted to brush his lips lightly across hers when she bit down on that bottom lip of hers, deep in concentration…

Thinking of kissing Kate brought his vivid memory back of their amazing, undercover kiss… Castle didn't really count that kiss in his mind as getting to first base with Kate, because one, it was done as a diversion to distract the guard, and two, she was with Josh at the time.

He sure wished though that he could wipe that incredible kiss out of his dreams. . .Kate had responded so willingly, had nipped at his upper lip and emitted such a sexy moan that he was finding it very difficult to keep a lid on his fantasies…Just thinking about that kiss made him uncomfortably hard.

He adjusted his pants a bit when suddenly they felt too tight.

He longed to grab her by the neck, roughly pull her towards him and grind his lips onto hers,… show her the definition of chemistry with his tantalizing kisses. He longed to run his fingers through her silky, alluring hair and massage her scalp with his hands. He longed to smell her hair deeply to confirm that it really did smell like cherries,… that it wasn't just a figment of his sensory imagination. He longed to show her how much he admired, treasured and loved her.

But that wall of hers was an immense barrier. Was it ever going to fall apart?

God, I hate feeling so unsure of myself where she's concerned…

He ran his fingers through his hair, disheveling it.

Being a writer, it was natural for him to want to solve a mystery, and there was one question he was dying to know the answer to as it was certainly a mystery to him...Would Kate finally give "them" a chance?

It seemed almost like an insurmountable task where she was concerned.

He was going to be cliché about it and plan something stupendously romantic on Valentine's Day,…something that would show her exactly the way he feels about her and why he wants her not just as his muse…but as an intricate part of his entire life,…at his book signings, at his charity events, in his loft, in his bed.

He wanted her included in his Mother's & daughter's lives as well. He wanted Kate Beckett complete with her flaws and that ever stubborn brick wall of hers…

Now, how in the world do I keep these plans secret as she'll most likely shoot me if she finds out? She'd seriously use some of her bad-ass ninja skills on me and maim me for life if she ever catches wind of this…

It was going to take some sneaky, devious planning if he was going to show Kate once and for all that the time was now right to give "them" a try, and he was certainly up for the challenge.

He smiled to himself…Kate Beckett wouldn't know what hit her by the time he was done with her. He was a world-famous, renowned author who could do sneaky…He'd learned quite a bit from the boys here at the precinct these last 3 and a half years working on cases with them. He prided himself on being more than a writer at this point in his life…He felt like he knew the basics of being a detective and actually had some skills to back it up. He was going to put into use his new talents acquired on the job.

This is going to be so much fun, he thought, with a smirk, as he hailed a taxi cab to head into the precinct. I only have to keep my plans hidden from the most brilliant detective in New York City. . . his heart sank at the thought; Or, this could be an utter disaster in the making…This could be the worst decision of my life.

He knew that Kate wouldn't deal well with an ultimatum, but he just couldn't take the roller coaster of emotions any more from her. He had to take a stand, stop the coaster, and get off the ride.

Best case scenario, Kate decides to throw caution to the wind...She climbs up to the top of that wall of hers where he's been waiting for over a year now, grabs his hand, and they both jump off together.

His heart couldn't take thinking about the alternative.


Over the past week, since the Mayor had been cleared of murder charges, Kate had noticed some subtle changes in Castle. He seemed…slightly withdrawn, more reserved. He was still the same teasing Castle…still throwing out his crazy theories during a case, but he wasn't doing his 'creepy staring' as often and the sexual innuendos weren't as prevalent. It was almost like he was trying to distance himself…like he was trying to prepare her for something…possibly unpleasant.

To an outsider's eye, the changes in Castle may have been too slight to notice, but she was a trained detective and spent so much time with him during the week that she knew his little nuances and habits.

Her first clue that something was up happened about 5 days ago…She expected Castle to come into work around 8:15 am, her vanilla latte in hand. By 8:30 a.m., she texted him wondering where he was…

U coming in today? Where are U?

Is that concern I hear dripping from your text? ;) he replied with a grin. Admit it. You'll miss me if I don't come in.

No concern. Just curious. She rolled her eyes as she could imagine his smug expression while sending the text.

I'm here, talking with Lanie. Be right up.

With Lanie? She thought inquisitively, I wonder why? She was suddenly seeing red flags. She wouldn't put it past him to be bribing Lanie for a recorded copy of her autopsy notes for their recent case, or bribing her for photo copies of the body itself. She frowned.

She left her desk and hurried to the stairs practically jogging down them to get to the bottom floor. Kate didn't take the elevator as it would alert both Lanie and Castle that someone had arrived on their floor. She knew secrecy was her best option. She wanted to keep quiet and not announce her presence. If Castle was planning something concerning their current case, she wanted to know about it in advance.

Sure it was beguiling…the way a case could consume him, and he wasn't even officially a cop…She loved the way his brow would furrow when something in a case just didn't add up, and it was stumping him. It was even more disarming when they'd both be mulling it over in their minds, and then they'd simultaneously blurt out the exact same answer.

But she didn't appreciate it when Rick stuck his arrogant nose into a case, trying to work out something on his own, trying to top her. He was her partner, damn it, and she needed to know what he was doing when it concerned a case…

Maybe I can discuss it with Lanie later on?

As she approached the swinging doors to the autopsy room, she heard Lanie laugh.

"Castle, Kate doesn't even probably admit that to herself. Who knows with her?"

"So you honestly don't know?" he asked in an inquisitive tone, not quite sure he believed her.

"What I do know is,… mess this up, and she'll kick you out-of-her-life for good."

Lanie started putting on blue gloves to get to work on her recent corpse. "Now, get out-of-here, Writer-Monkey, before Kate's coffee gets cold. We don't want her to start her day off on the wrong foot because of cool coffee right?"

He laughed deeply. "We certainly don't want that to happen…A caffeine-free Beckett means a very snippy Beckett, and no one in Homicide wants to deal with her before she's had her caffeine fix."

As he was leaving, Lanie yelled out, "Thanks for the amazing espresso."

"You're welcome." He quickly hurried through the swinging doors to catch the elevator up to Homicide.

What the hell was that about? Kate thought as she hurriedly ran up the stairs back to her floor.

Why would Castle be asking questions about me, of a personal nature by the sound of it, to Lanie? Is he doing further research for Nikki Heat? And if he is, why not ask me about it? Why not come directly to me?

And it was pretty disconcerting to hear from Lanie, albeit teasingly, that if he messed something up that she would boot him to the curb…What was Castle up to? Every answer that she could think of was not encouraging,...that author of hers had a very vivid imagination, and who knew what he could be planning?

When did I start thinking about him as MY author? She thought suddenly distracted.

She knew though that she couldn't hint to Rick that she'd overheard part of his conversation with Lanie. She wasn't proud of herself for sneaking behind their backs and listening to an obviously private conversation.

Oh well, she was positive that Castle would talk about it when he was good and ready

A soft smile touched her lips as she thought about her partner. He certainly doesn't know how to keep that adorable mouth of his closed.


AUTHOR's Note:

Reviews make me as excited as thinking about the upcoming Castle Noir episode on Feb 6th. Can we survive until then? :)