"Believe it or not, there are a lot of women in this town who like the idea of being romantically linked to me."

A bit of background: It's summer here right now. Being a mom, I'm in my car a lot, toting kids here and there. The kids watch Castle DVDs from previous seasons during our rides. One of them that they watched recently (several times...) was 'The Third Man'. The line above was from that episode, where Castle was named New York's #9 most eligible bachelor. He uttered that line after he told Beckett about his date with #3 and she gave him a hard time.

Now, background on this story: In listening to this episode, this line jumped out at me and I thought that given recent circumstances, it would be fun to revisit the whole 'Most Eligible Bachelor' thing, but with a different take on it since they're 'together' now. And here's what came out of that thought. (The timing isn't exactly correct, but please overlook that aspect.)

Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Castle, but now I kinda wish I did b/c then I wouldn't have to wait until September to find out what's going on.

"I absolutely cannot believe this!" she said, pulling the paper down from in front of her face, and glaring at him where he stood across from her in the kitchen.

"It wasn't...I didn't have anything to do with this!" he said, shaking his head while proclaiming his innocence.

"Oh, sure. Like you didn't know about the last one either." Her tone was pure sarcasm.

"That was years ago, and yes, I did know about that one. Donna interviewed me for that article. Well, I mean...I didn't know she was going to mention you, but I knew about the article. But I was single then! And I'm...not...anymore." He sounded uncomfortable, not wanting to say the wrong thing,

"So you're saying that she didn't interview you this time? Right." She obviously didn't believe him.

"No! Of course not!"

"Well, then how did she get all of this information? Huh? It even says something about your latest book!" She wasn't letting up in the least. He'd just woken up, and after the night they'd had...man, how did she have the energy to even make herself get up this early, let alone grill him about a newspaper article that he hadn't even—



The benefit two weeks ago. "Well," he started sheepishly, "there was that benefit that I had to go to a couple of weeks ago? Remember, you didn't want to go to it with me because you thought—"

"I know what I thought, and it's what we both agreed to," she challenged.

"Yeah, well...Donna...the reporter at the Ledger who wrote this? She was there, and we chatted for a while. But Kate," he said, taking a step toward her, "that was it." He pulled the paper out of her hands so there was nothing in between them, and he stepped closer to her. "It was just idle chit-chat because I hadn't seen her in a while, and I was just trying to pass the time until I could make a graceful exit. Come on...I was at your place by 9:30 that night." He tried to pull her a little bit closer but she was having none of it.

She glared at him. "You're number four this year!" She hurled the comment like it was the epitome of insults. "How did you manage to pull that off, when you were a lowly number nine before?"

"I didn't 'pull anything off', as you say, unless you're counting your clothes last night," he told her, trying for some humor. But from the look on her face after he said the words, that was not the thing to say right then. "Okay, sorry," he said, holding his hands up in a surrender motion. Even though a small part of his ego was stroked at moving up five spots in the rankings, that didn't compare to the need he felt to smooth things over with Kate.

"Come on, Kate. It's a really cruel form of irony that I was number nine when I'm not involved with you—"

"But the article implied that you were involved with me then!"

"Exactly my point! That's all it is...irony. It's the universe trying to mess with us. And now that we are involved, I not only move up on the list but there's no mention of you at all? Come on..."

"Yes, fine. It's ironic. But the point is that you're still on the list."

"What's going on? What list?" Alexis walked into the kitchen, somewhat bleary-eyed, and plopped down on one of the chairs at the counter.

The two adults looked at each other, startled by the arrival of the girl in the kitchen. Kate was just glaring at him and was making no move to say anything, so he told his daughter. "I'm in the Ledger again."

"Why? You haven't stolen any..." And then she got a good look at the two adults, and something about the looks on their faces, along with her hearing the word 'list', jogged something in her memory. "Oh, no Dad. Tell me you didn't make that list again." She looked to Kate, and she had her answer. "What number this time?"

"Four. And he says he didn't have anything to do with it." Kate's tone sounded anything but convinced.

"I didn't!" Rick protested again.

"Yeah, well," Alexis said, giving him her version of the glare that could wilt flowers. "I'm sure that's not going to matter to most of them. So, dad, do you want me to give Fraulein Sonnenberg a call? Or maybe my friend Sloane? She's legal now, you know."

"Alexis, what do you mean?" Kate asked the girl.

"The women who will undoubtably start trying to get to him now. Last time, it was my vice principal, my German teacher, and even one of my friends. And that was just at school. And then there was—"

"Whoa, whoa!" He turned to his daughter and pointed a finger at her in what he hoped was an authoritative, fatherly gesture. "Alexis, you may be over eighteen now, but I still know how to use itching powder when you least expect it." He turned to his secret girlfriend, at least as far as the rest of the world was concerned. "And Kate...you know we agreed to keep our relationship under wraps for a few months. I talked to Donna at the benefit, yes, but I didn't think I said anything about...oh, never mind. It doesn't matter what's printed in the paper."

"Right. It's in the newspaper, Castle, on the front page."

"But it doesn't matter."

"Did you even read it?"

"Well, I...not really...you had the paper first, and then we started talking about it..."

She reached for the paper again, and after clearing her throat, began reading, "The Ledger's number four choice is bestselling author Richard Castle, whose new book 'Frozen Heat' hits the stands later this month and promises to be another bestseller for him. He's been absent from our last couple of 'Most Eligible Bachelor' lists, but rumor has it that the dashing author and NYPD 12th Precinct shadow is again quite single and eligible, as evidenced by his solo attendance at the Art Institute Benefit earlier this month, where he confessed that he didn't have a date for the evening and had all the markings of a man looking to be a little bit less lonely."

They were all silent after Kate finished, with Alexis first gaping at her father and then just shaking her head. "God, Dad, what did you tell her?"

"I...nothing!" he protested yet again.

"It sounds like you were...on the prowl or something!" Kate said disgustedly

"I couldn't very well tell her that we were involved, now could I? You would have shot me! Or at least twisted my ear off. What was I supposed to say?"

"Well, something obviously different than what you did say! You make your living with words, after all."

He tried again to move closer to her, hoping that with Alexis in the room—even though his daughter was more on Kate's side than his—Kate wouldn't make a show of backing away. "Kate," he said as he stepped up closer to her and put his arm around her back, and was relieved when she didn't back away or even stiffen up at his touch. "I'm a bachelor, yes, but I'm not eligible to anyone but you." He gave her a chaste kiss on her cheek. "Really. It'll blow over. It won't be a big deal." And then, in a lower voice, he told her, "And I love you. Believe that, not what the damn paper says. It will blow over."

"Do you really believe that, or is it just wishful thinking?" she asked him skeptically, but with a bit more warmth in her eyes than before.

"I do believe that. I haven't even really done very many public things lately at all. I've been so far out of the limelight lately that most people will need a flashlight just to know who I am. Just watch...it won't be a big deal at all."

Kate looked over at Alexis, who obviously had more experience with this than she did. The girl just shrugged at her. Looking back at Rick, she said, "Okay. But I don't want to hear any more about this damn list. Now can we get to work, please?"

He gave her a full-watt smile and this time, a kiss on the lips. "Definitely. It'll be fine...don't worry. It's not a big deal."

But when they got to the precinct, they found out that Castle had never been more wrong in his life.

Hope you enjoyed it! If there's enough interest, I'll continue it.


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