Perspective

Eric Vaughn noticed her hesitation when he asked Kate about how serious her relationship with Castle was and moved in to seal the deal. When she closed her eyes he took that as her tacit approval and leaned in to kiss her, to take possession of her, when he felt a hand at his chest pushing him back along with her whispered "No."

Once again sensing some hesitation on her part, he moved to try again, only to be pushed back more forcefully. The glare in her eyes letting him know the moment was past and she wasn't going to play ball.

Before he could decide whether he should push his luck and go for broke, the window they were standing in front of exploded in a shower of broken glass, the high pitched bark of a sniper rifle catching up to the supersonic flight of the bullet half a second later.

Kate shoved him to the floor and away from the window. As she fell backwards onto the floor her hand went to her backup piece in its ankle holster as she crab-walked back from the window to the wall next to the door to his bedroom. She began hyperventilating and her eyes were wide with fear, bordering on panic.

Vaughn noticed that Kate was sitting on the floor, vulnerable and emotionally compromised. More so than she had been when he had first tried to kiss her. He could see that she was in some sort of distress. She was acting strangely, but in spite of the potential danger he saw an opportunity. Her boyfriend, Richard Castle was nowhere to be found and this was his chance to work his way into her pants after all. Not tonight perhaps but he could use this as an in to get her to fall for his charms later.

He approached her quietly and without any preamble attempted to reach for her arm. His fingers brushed her right shoulder and closed around her forearm when suddenly, he was met with the barrel of a small handgun pointed between his eyes, stopping him in his tracks.

"Get away from me!" Kate shouted "Get the hell away from me! Where's Castle? I want Castle!"

This had not been a part of the plan when he had contacted the NYPD's Chief of Detectives and insisted that she be assigned to stay with him here in the presidential suite as his "bodyguard" until the person who tried to kill him was caught. He certainly didn't need her to protect him, he had enough of his own private security men in the hotel to defend this place against a small army.

He wanted Kate Beckett here alone, he knew she found him attractive, and had overheard enough of her conversation with her author boyfriend to know that the two of them were having a crisis in their relationship. A little champagne, a nice sob story to get her sympathy and he was sure she would have been putty in his hands.

From the moment he had laid eyes on her, he had wanted her. He was curious if she was anywhere near as good in bed as her alter ego in her boyfriend's novels, Nikki Heat. She would be an entertaining notch on his bedpost, the fact that he would likely break up their relationship and ruin both of their lives never once entered into his head.

Of course that was all before he learned that Kate Beckett was a complete basket case.

He had done crazy once or twice before and it never ended well. The sex was phenomenal, but the aftermath was never worth the afterglow.

When her backup arrived, he graciously accepted the ranking uniformed officer's kind offer to take him the greater protection of the 12th Precinct. As he passed the man in charge of his actual security detail, his hissed in a hoarse whisper, "Keep that crazy bitch away from me."

On his way out, he passed a worried looking Richard Castle, still wondering just what she saw in the man, his womanizing reputation had been almost as bad as his back when his research told him they had first met. With a derisive snort, he was out the door with his new protective detail, he had Ellie Monroe on speed dial, maybe he would give her a call. Even Richard Castle would have to admit that she was a world class ride.


If Richard Castle had any lingering concerns about Kate's intentions with Eric Vaughn, they were gone by the time he burst into the suite. The boys said she had been calling for him, and it seemed that the billionaire he had once admired couldn't get away from her fast enough now. He felt awful for her, he knew how much she hated for people to see her when she was at her weakest like this.

When he saw her, sitting propped against the wall next to one of the bedroom doors with her backup piece in her lap with the safety off, her eyes glazed over gently rocking back and forth, whispering his name over and over again like some kind of mantra it just broke his heart.

He knew from previous experience with her PTSD fueled nightmares not to sneak up on her, or try to touch her without announcing himself first. Especially when she was like this, nearly catatonic with barely concealed terror. Though she was seeing a therapist and getting better every day, some things (like loud unexpected noises or being shot at with sniper rifles) still set the panic attacks off.

He knelt down beside her, and whispered, "Kate...it's me..Castle...I'm right here next to you."

When her vision locked on him, her eyes cleared a little and she practically launched herself into his arms, sending her backup piece clattering to the floor. He deftly wrapped his right arm around her, pulling her into him while she peppered his face with kisses, and simultaneously scooped up her backup piece with his left hand and handed the pistol to Ryan before wrapping her up in his arms and leading her into the room where he spied her suitcase.

There was absolutely no way they were staying here, not only was the place an active crime scene, but was also paid for with his money. He simply needed a little bit of privacy to get her steadied down, so she could walk out of here under her own power and salvage least some of her dignity tonight.

"He tried to kiss me, Rick, but...but...I didn't let him...I didn't let him. I pushed him away..and then...and then...the shots..." she trailed off, unable to say any more, as she burst into tears in the privacy of the empty bedroom.

Rick pulled her tighter into his arms, as she lowered her head to his chest and kissed her on the forehead, rubbing soothing circles on her back as she let it all out.

"Shh, Kate, it's okay...everything's going to be all right...I've got you...shh."

As his soothing ministrations began to have their desired effect and her mind began to clear away the cobwebs of her panic attack, the difference between Castle and Vaughn suddenly became readily apparent.

Vaughn was every bit the type of man she had once assumed Castle had been when they first met. A bit more sophisticated, a bit smoother maybe, but still a boorish, skirt chasing womanizer who lived only for his own self gratification without any thought to the consequences.

The type of man she had learned over the past five years that Richard Castle wasn't. Rick was so much more than Eric Vaughn.

A doting father.

A caring son.

Her partner.

Her friend.

Her lover and (recent events notwithstanding) devoted boyfriend for the past eleven glorious months.

The man who had not only told her that he loved her on the day she was shot but, if she was honest with herself, had proved it both before and for the last two years since. The man who had let her back into his life every time she had hurt him. Had come back to her every time she had sent him away, or ran and hid in either her mother's case or in the arms of men she didn't love.

Like she had come very close to doing with Eric Vaughn.

She had come within half a heartbeat of giving in and letting him kiss her, of kissing him back and giving him what she knew he wanted, but when she closed her eyes...all she saw was Castle and she just could not do that to him, not when they had worked so hard and suffered so much to get to where they were.

In a stunning moment of clarity, she realized that it really didn't matter where their relationship was going, as long as they went there together.