I loved this episode. Highlight episodes are difficult to execute, but the Castle team did especially well. I loved the replay of many key moments. Little things like picking up on Beckett's changing hair styles. As a shipper you have to celebrate Kate finally saying those three words. Just wish they weren't in a life or death moment.

Of course on TV it is almost impossible to convey the character thoughts unless you have them talk directly to the audience or some other method of narration. So this is my take on what I thought might have been going through Rick Castle's mind for a couple of key scenes including some that weren't in the broadcast.

Disclaimer – even in my wildest dreams I don't own Castle or any of the characters. If I did, you'd see way more than primetime TV allows and the end of Season 5 would have been way less angsty! All the other legal stuff applies too.

He had woken to her body beside his. She hadn't been here when he flaked out last night. He loves this. He makes no secret of it. His enthusiasm and almost childish delight that she tries to deflect with gentle sarcasm, an acerbic comment or a roll of the eyes but he knows her tells. How her eyes soften, and she'll blush a little, smile if she thinks he isn't looking. She's fooling no one but he won't call her on it.

This all seems so natural, feels so right. She must have been in late, and he did sleep like a log. Well a drooling, snoring lump if her last compliant was accurate. Never-the-less here she was in his bed. He'd love for it to their bed. But he won't push. If he's honest he won't push because he is afraid. Scared that she could or would run.

They were almost living together just without the discussion about living together and sharing just one place. They should talk about it. But they never do. One or both dissemble and change the subject before it gets too serious.

They loved being together at the Loft. He was sure of that. Although they both liked the haven her place offered when the Loft's other occupants, or even just him, became too much. He loved her kitchen and the homeliness it embodied especially when she was displaying long supressed culinary skills learnt from her mom. He treasured those moments alone with her, and the glimpses of her from a life lost too long to tragedy.

Still, he can't help the innate sense of insecurity that still coils around his thoughts and his heart. Whether he will ever be enough for her. Ten months ago she had told him that he was all she wanted. She had quit her job, given up her mother's case. Yeah well that didn't last long. But he didn't begrudge that, it was an intrinsic part of her after all. They were together, he had waited years. It was worth it. But it doesn't stop the fear that lurks beneath even the most innocuous and mundane aspects of their lives.

There were times he cursed his writer's brain with the inability to switch off the multiple trains of thought, the curse of imagination and the inability to leave a tale unfinished even if the conclusion was…..well best not to go there this morning and tempt fate.

All week she had been working late, cold cases initially and then she caught a new one yesterday. He's been busy procrastinating and making glacial progress on the outline for his next book. He has the ideas but lacks the willpower to craft the chapters. He misses his muse but she'd kill him if he called her that, and she had banned him from the precinct until he made progress on his other job. He had finally made headway last night, stung into action by the prospect of missing a new case and had emailed the outlines to Gina last night before collapsing into bed near 1 am.

Kate hadn't come home until after that. He knew that whatever case she has begun yesterday wasn't done, and once she had awoken after the late night she would be inching to dash back to work. He'd switched her alarm off to give her a few minutes more. There was a time – even recently - she would have killed him for that. But now she trusts him with her schedule. He'll wake her with enough time for a shower, breakfast and some conversation and connecting – not that sort very often – before she has to leave.

Collecting his thoughts, he picks up the breakfast tray complete with newspaper and pads quietly back to the bedroom. He'll put the tray down and stand there and admire her still sleeping form. Somehow she knows when he's staring even when asleep and if he's lucky he'll be rewarded with her infamous 'still creepy Castle' retort as she wakes.

With less than ten minutes to go before the countdown concludes, Rick reluctantly leaves a tearful yet outwardly composed Kate. He knows she's not really. He has no idea why he isn't crying himself, bawling his eyes out. He wonders what the favour she was going to ask him. As he descends in the stairwell, his feet pick up the pace and he starts to move faster. His mind afire with his own internal debate about what he is doing.

She finally said them. The words. That word. It sounded stupidly clichéd and hackneyed especially to his writer's mind but in truth he would probably would have waited forever to hear her tell him she loves him. She certainly deserves a better response than his own simple declaration of love. Before abandoning her.

Lots of what they had talked about today was meant to distract her and himself if he was honest. But instead the moments talked recalled resonate with him. One particular phrases repeats. 'Big and intimate' she had told him when Ryan finally proposed to Jenny. He's been searching for his own 'big and intimate' moment for a while. He has the ring. For a while. Waiting for the moment.

But it's not here and he doesn't have time to get the ring. Seriously she's probably going to die and he wants to propose. She gets shot and almost dies and he tells her he loves her for the first time. He is such a coward. He loves her so deeply. He trusts her with his life. With Alexis and his mother. But maybe that is the problem. Why he is so scared. He has invested his heart too, and is still uncertain that he can trust her entirely with that. He's so afraid that if he pushes, and let's face it a ring is definitely pushing the envelope in a relationship, especially theirs' where so much remains unspoken and unresolved, that she will run.

But their word that encompasses everything brings him back. Always. He did mean it, and he is sure she did too. They both mean it still. She said it had been a good run. Well it's not over yet. At Montgomery's funeral she had spoken of being lucky to find someone to stand with you. That's where he should be standing with her. Her bomb buddy and more. Well he's not abandoning her now.

He takes stock of his surroundings and he's by the edge of the police cordon. The crowds are being moved back. Striding over to Beckett's car, he pulls the tactical vest off and dumps it in the trunk. Decision made.

Pulling his phone he calls Alexis and then his mother. Both conversations are of necessity short, countdown timers wait for no one. He had expected them to be difficult and hard but he truly had no idea until finds himself heading back towards her, two coffees in hand and no direct recollection of where and how he got them. Wrought is simply the most apt term his mind conjures up for his current state.

As he returns to the police line he can see the last of the bomb squad leaving, admitting defeat. Leaving her. First he passes the cordon keeping the public back – the cop there – Harrison – simply nods and lifts the rope barrier. Closing in on the entrance to the building there is small cluster of cops, frantically doing nothing useful. The Bomb Squad Captain takes in the two coffees but says nothing and simply nods, eyes full of understanding. Castle is dimly aware of all of this, his focus elsewhere. His glances from side to side are instinctive but he is not really seeing. His focus remains upstairs.

The stair well is just ahead beyond the door. As he approaches the doorway, first the cops from the Twelfth and then the bomb squad all come to attention. There is no salute but none is needed. He has no words for them, but he thinks they know. Another time there would be a joke, a smile, unbridled optimism. None here, simply one partner going to stand with their partner. Facing the odds. Very long odds.

His knows he doesn't have the right, but he feels their respect and it burnishes him. The pride – God his ego is still pounding away – maintains him. But his focus is upstairs. As he climbs, he hopes that time it takes him to make his way up is long enough for his face to recover, for the sudden tears to stop. He needs to be strong for her. For himself too. He's never done this before. Not so calculatingly. He never thought he would be brave enough. He's not sure he is. But he is desperate enough. He promised her always.

There is beep and vibration from his phone. The tone indicates a message from Alexis. He can't read it now. He knows it would break him. Break his will. Make him turn back. But he cannot for as much as his daughter is his life, his heart lies with another upstairs. Maybe later. Hopefully later. He hopes whatever happens they will forgive him, even if understanding is hard to find.

Word had spread and his phone starts to hum and buzz. He moves to mute the phone. He doesn't have time. It is heartening to know that the lonely kid hiding in the books has friends now who care so much, but the only one that matters is only heartbeats away and yet they still never have the words. He would change that if it he could but there is not the time now.

He wanted all the time in the world, but he now knows there will never be enough time for them. When he wanted a lifetime, their always wasn't meant to be way less than ten minutes. It wasn't meant to end so soon. But at least it will end as he always imagined it. Together.

He's reached the top of the stairs and he schools his face. The irrepressible optimist and nine-year old attempts a return.

Except she knows. Not everything. But enough. She is so very good at reading him. He expected her to protest more, even threaten to shoot him, but she concedes relatively gracefully. He'll be in trouble later. If there is a later.

Of course he can't actually give her the coffee. That would trigger the bomb.

Wait. Why is the bomb trigger over there? Why not by the door?

Suddenly the odds don't seem quite so long.

They had only a few moments together before the bomb squad returned to the apartment. It would have taken a few moments to ask her. But he is distracted by the holes in the logic of the case. His mind was afire with big questions. How had a criminal recently released managed to get enough serious explosive and construct a bomb that would make a terrorist green with envy not to mention raise flags from the ATF, Homeland Security, other federal agencies. These didn't add up. He says as much. Beckett agrees, so does the Bomb Squad Captain.

After the quick debrief, she had hugged him again. Tells him to forget about the bomb for the moment. There is a lightness in her and taking his hand she pulls him with her as she skips down the stairs.

Reaching the streets and reaching for her had been of course been interrupted by the arrival of the Boys and Gates. But there's no more hiding from Gates. Turns out there really is no hiding what they have.

But then kissing her and listening as she told him they were only getting started was memorable. She had been both right and wrong. They had a lifetime together to come but they had five years already even if they hadn't been kissing for much of it, they were still connected.

Coming down off the high had been sped by the phone calls to their family. Kate had suggested they make them together. So one after the other they had called Alexis, Martha and Jim. Relief had been tempered by a mixture of disbelief, anger and love.

Their arrival back at the Precinct had been greeted with applause and cheers, hugs and backs slapped. Gates had once again given her nod of approval– plausible deniability be damned – and then Beckett seized his head in her hands and kissed him soundly – to the applause and catcalls of the bullpen. Released from her public embrace he had been snapped – damn camera phones – by more than one cop looking somewhat bemused and speechless. Some smart arse noting that they had found another way to keep the author quiet.

A large number of office pools were settled that afternoon, and just as many new ones established.

The Loft.

He still hasn't had the courage to read or listen to the messages on his phone. As if he had expended it all earlier. And he does feel drained. Dead tired. But he'll settle for being able to feel that exhaustion and to have her with him.

He so wanted to give her the ring tonight. Dodging the Reaper had given him the courage to put his lesser fears aside. But after their earlier shared solitude standing over a bomb there had not had been the opportunity.

Alexis had thrown herself into his arms. And then proceeded to slap-thump-hug him with tears streaming down her face and sobs shaking her body.

Kate had looked mortified. She had tried to stammer her apologies. Alexis had wrenched herself from his arms and hurtled into Kate's.

Alexis had simply told her to shut-up and not to do that again amidst tears from all of them.

Mother had retreated to compose herself. He and Kate had both received a very stern talking to from his daughter who had not pulled any punches. She has a remarkable grasp of language even unscripted, although knowing his daughter she would have rehearsed her arguments and been ready to refute everything including his most sincere puppy-dog eyes.

Eventually they had eaten. No massive feast to celebrate life like after the bank. Mother had remained withdrawn and quiet all evening even after, first Beckett and then he had sought her out.

Both Alexis and mother retreated to bed early. Alexis stating she was staying over and would see them both in the morning.

Before they could retreat to bed and perhaps an opportunity for him to sink to his knee and ask her for always, there was a knock at the door.

It was Jim Beckett. He looked hallow, rung out and Rick could understand that. Jim's eventual return phone call to Kate earlier that afternoon had not be enough for the man, nor his daughter. Rick could understand that too. He knew the next few days would see him spending deserved time with Alexis and his mother. And probably Kate would spend time with her dad.

Castle was shocked to be the first recipient of the man's hug before the father had embraced his daughter. The Beckett's were not naturally huggers but here he was receiving one from Papa Beckett. His writer's mind couldn't but help speculate as to what that meant. Kate and her father had embraced wordlessly and Rick had stepped away to give them some privacy.

He headed into the kitchen to make them drinks. Eventually they had joined him and he had spent a some minutes chatting amiably with the two Becketts. After sharing some hot chocolate and brownies, he had retreated to his office to leave Kate and her dad to continue their private conversation.

Jim and Kate had stayed up talking for a long time. They will still going when the emotions and events of the day caught up to him and threatened to drag him into slumber in his chair. Temporarily shaking off the pull, he had been the dutiful host and emerged from the office to wish them both a good night and offer Jim the use of the guestroom. Kate had briefly left her dad's side to wrap her body into his and muss his hair and gently kiss him goodnight with soft words of thanks, apologies, promises and tomorrow.

By the time Kate came to bed, she found him fast asleep.

Affirmation of life would have to wait for another time. But she didn't care. Stripping her clothes off she had changed into one of his surplus superhero t-shirts and some of her pj shorts and headed to the bathroom to wash off her makeup and brush her teeth.

She nestled in beside him. Spooning her body around his, she heard a pretty much instinctive grunt of endearment as her hands sought the heat and comfort of his mass.

In the morning he would awake to her body and her own private acclimation of his actions. Somehow he is disappointed for he finds his courage gone, and another moment passed by.

Author's Note

I was originally going to try and do this chronologically but that's not where my thought patterns and ideas are taking me. So I'm going to jump around a bit or a lot. Sorry about that.

I might reorder the chapters once I get to the end. I'll let you know my thoughts on this and I progress.

Next Up – what happened to Castle's other job? Writer, Celebrity, Most Eligible Bachelor, etc. Where's Gina and Paula?

I welcome any ideas or contributions to help fill in the missing bits or fix things up.