[Author's Note: I brainstormed a dozen different ways in which I could present this concept, but in the end I decided on this. It's just a little ficlet from Capt. Gates' POV. It's set at some point roughly in the middle of Season 4, and it's basically just Gates' musings on our favorite squad of detectives and writer. It's a little random, but I think you'll like it!]

From the minute she walked into the door of the precinct I now call mine, I could see that she was it. She was the something different that made the Twelfth Precinct's homicide unit so unlike any other police unit I've ever seen. It's not just her squad- the whole division is drawn to her as if she's magnetic.

The applause: it's not the average round given for a recovered cop returning to her team. No, it's much deeper than that.

Of course I knew Kate Beckett's name. For one thing, she took my title. Until she came along, I was the youngest woman ever to make detective in the NYPD. (But who's counting.) That aside, though, she had quite the history. It seemed she had some sort of attachment to just the kinds of cases that attract plenty of media attention. But none of the history of her really mattered when she stepped off that elevator and I finally understood.

The Homicide Division of the Twelfth Precinct of the NYPD is not just a police division: it is a family.

And there is something pretty incredible about that family. It's in the way they care for each other. Of course, I had gotten glimpses of it over the course of my first few months as their captain. But now that she's here- now that I've seen them all in action together- it makes much more sense: they all bond around her. They are a family, and it all falls into place when you look at the way in which they care for Kate.

If the whole division is a family, then it is definitely comprised of a long list of extended family members. And if that is the case, then Detective Beckett and her squad are by far the most close-knit immediate family in the group. And it all comes back to her. It all comes back to the way they take care of their squad leader.

First you have Detective Esposito. He's the one who best understands Detective Beckett. I've heard him say it himself: he's been where she is. He understands her drive, the fact that it's sometimes obsessive. He cares for her by pushing her. He cares for her by being her backup. He's the one beside her guarding her life when she has to go rogue. He's the one who doesn't argue. He understands that she both wants and needs to be pushed. He can see the way she pushes herself, and he is always right there behind her, whether or not he's breaking direct orders. And he is the one to push her when she is unable to push herself because he knows that no matter what she is going through, that's what- deep down- she wants.

Detective Ryan is different. By virtue of his relationship with Jenny, he can better understand Kate- even if he doesn't always understand Detective Beckett. He takes care of her by ratting her out and turning her in when he knows it's necessary. He cares for her by blocking the way and forcing her to stop, no matter how much she may hate him for it. He's able to look past the awards, and the fa├žade, and the stony resolve and see a little girl who's still trying to fix her own perfect, little world after it fell apart. He stops her from being eaten alive by the push and the drive.

But, while those things in combination are quite effective, while they worked well enough all along, there is a reason she needs Mr. Castle. Castle can do what neither of the other two can: he can see both sides of her at the same time. And he can help her to see them, as well. He is the only one who can make her stand down without putting a commander and a list of threats in her path to do it. He cares for her by helping her make the one choice she could never make on her own: to stand down.