A/N: Don't hate me. This is an experiment.

Disclaimer: Not mine. But, I love them.

"Hey, there you are." He's a little out of breath when he finally catches up to her right outside the evidence room. He thought for sure she saw him heading towards the elevator as the doors closed between them, but she made no move to hold it for him. Weird.

So, he took the stairs instead. This is her (their) first day back at the precinct, and he's spent the better part of the day with the Ryan and Esposito. Even though Gates was the one to convince Kate to withdrawal her resignation and just finish out her suspension, she knew she'd be under scrutiny and didn't want to add fuel to the fire. It was, actually, his idea to spend today apart, so they could get a feel for being back.

"Hi. I'm, um, kind of in a hurry. My current case might have a connection to a cold one. I need to go," she points to the door.

"Wanna grab some lunch? When you're done. My treat," he proposes. She gives him a gentle smile that doesn't reach her eyes. Well, she's probably just exhausted.

"I already had lunch with Lanie earlier. In the morgue. Sorry," she offers. "I figured you and the boys would have eaten on your way back from serving your warrant."

"They did. I was waiting on you." She looks guilty and he regrets the words. "Don't worry about it, though. I thought we'd get pizza for dinner anyway. Especially if I get the "Sweet Pig" from Giovanni's. Bacon and ham and pineapple and…grease. I could afford to skip a meal." He smiles, expects a smile from her too, but it doesn't come. "By the way, eating in the morgue cannot be sanitary, Beckett."

"Lanie's OCD. You could eat off of her slab."

His face screws up. "Ew. Tell me you didn't." He leans into her personal space just slightly, props his hand on the doorframe behind her, flicks his eyes to her lips. God, she smells good. "I kiss that mouth," he whispers, after looking around to make sure they're out of earshot.

"Castle. Don't." She pushes on his chest and he backs up, stands more upright, a little embarrassed at the rejection.

"Sorry. Sorry. I didn't think that qualified as breaking the rules." They were tangled in her sheets that morning, her fretting nervously about their first day back, while he tried to distract her by sliding his mouth over random parts of her body. This is when she tried setting some ground rules. She was naming things he couldn't do—they couldn't do, she amended when he huffed—while at work, in her car (shucks), on NYPD assignments, etcetera etcetera. When his lips clamped onto the flesh at her throat and his hand slipped between her thighs, he asked if that would qualify as 'off limits'. She pinched his ear and spread her legs wider. He loves her mixed signals.

"We don't need people talking." There isn't anyone around except a man, it's not even the usual guy, stationed twenty feet or so away, whose job it is to log evidence in and out. He isn't paying them any attention, though—playing on his phone.

"I'm not yet used to censoring myself around you. I'll do better, I promise." He gives her the 'Scout's Honor' gesture, and she disappoints when she doesn't call him out on the fact that he was never a Scout. She seems distracted. "Oh, lunch with Lanie," he blurts, realization hitting him. "Did you talk to her? About…you know"

It's been three weeks since they consummated their relationship, three weeks of making love, making plans, three weeks of hiding it all from their friends and family so they could get to know one another in this new capacity without prying eyes. But, this was the week that would all change. They decided she would tell Lanie first, then (as gossip would have it) the news would make its natural progression to their immediate work family. And, tonight, over dinner, they would reveal to his mother and Alexis.

He's excited.

"Yes, I told her."

"And?" Giddiness oozes from him; he can feel it, but is too happy to apologize for it. "Was she surprised? Oh, I bet she was so mad, wasn't she? Ah, I love it."

She's quiet for long moments. Too long. Then, she surprises him by reaching up and pressing her fingers to his lips, smoothing them before moving to his chin, letting them linger, then finally drops them to his chest over his heart. Um, that's probably breaking the rules, right? Not complaining. "Castle—," she starts, stops.

Her eyes are shiny, red rimmed. What's going on here? "What is it?"

"We can't do this." She pulls her hand back and tucks it under her arm pit, hugging herself.

"I understand, Kate." He nods, trying to soothe her. "I really am sorry for earlier."

"No, you don't understand." She sighs heavily.

"Help me to, then. What's wrong?"

"We can't do this. Us. It's—it's not going to work, Castle."


This is some kind of joke. Yeah, he can totally see Lanie orchestrating this. He knew she'd be happy for them, but furious that they successfully kept it a secret for weeks. This is her payback. Ha, she's pretty clever.

But, Kate. She's crying now, full, fat tears are sliding down her cheeks and…this is not a joke, is it? His throat is closing, but a sob pushes though, spills from his lips. He stumbles backwards, wants to leave, preserve an iota of dignity, but can't. He reaches for her, drops his arm when she shakes her head.

He doesn't understand. What did he do? The day rewinds in his mind. They made love this morning; she seemed contented then. And she washed his hair. And kissed him over coffee. And…this doesn't make any sense. "Whatever I did, Kate, I can fix it. Just tell me," he pleads.

"It's not you. You didn't—you've been perfect."

"Then what is it?" His chest is heavy; he sucks in a breath on a wheeze. She's not saying anything. She's tense, caged, ready to run.

"You should go, Rick." She won't meet his eyes—if she meets his eyes, they'll be fine.

"No. You don't get to do this to me—to us—and not tell me why. I get a chance to fix this."

Let me fix it.

"You can't fix it. There's nothing broken."

"Bullshit," he snaps. She flinches, but he doesn't backtrack. "I thought you cared about me."

"I do," she sniffles. "You know I do."

"Do I? Because this isn't how you treat someone you care about."

"It's complicated."

"You're making it complicated. I don't know why. It doesn't have to be. Kate, I love you. You don't have to say it back for me to know that you can love me one day, Kate. Don't you feel this? How good we are?"

"Castle, stop." Her voice is calm now, too smooth, emotionless. Two uniformed officers are walking past them, one turns his head, tries to sneak an observation, but keeps up with his steps, disappears around the corner. He's sure he looks a mess, can taste the tears on his tongue.

"No, you stop!" He grabs her elbows, tugs her until she's only inches from his face. Personal space be damned; he can't lose her. "Look me right in the eye and tell me you don't want me. Do that, Kate, and I'll let you go."

She meets his eyes, then. Hers are cold, dark, and lifeless. It scares him. He's never-

"I don't want you."