Stained-Glass Windows

Life

Life

If I could give you one key and one key only to a more abundant life, I would give you a sense of your own worth, an unshakeable sense of your own dignity as one grounded in the source of the cosmic dance, as one who plays a unique part in the unfolding of the story of the world. – Greta Cosby

If you ever doubt mankind’s capacity for unbridled joy, then look no further than those beacons who share a deep and powerful love. That’s why love exists. Love is a reminder that for all the turmoil and ugliness our world has to offer, it will never rival or win out over our capacity as human beings to forgive, to cherish, and to embrace our own better angels. For it is when we embrace humanity, when we believe in the humanism of the world, that we begin to fully understand the deeper meaning of life itself and achieve some small measure of victory.

Our politics are divided, conservative and liberal are dirty words, and we sometimes look at the world as if only tragedy and discourse rule the day. Our goal should never be to divide, the world should never force us to embrace the darkest embers of an unquenchable flame, and it should never cause us to despair. There is no question that evil exists, that the worst of humanity can truly be horrifying, and yet, we should not question that belief and love and sacrifice are more powerful swords than the arrows evil deploys.

In the end, that’s how Kate Beckett, Richard Castle, and their family won the day. They embraced their humanity and Mason Harrison did not. It may seem cliché, it may seem trite and banal, but the love and passion of this family, the belief they had in each other, and the love they embraced were the weapons of war which won them a joyous victory. They are the beacons. They are our hope.

They are a family.

And this was their story from the beginning. We are all stained glass windows.

Remember?

May 15th, 2012-New York City

Good Samaritan Trauma Center

11:14 A.M.

Castle poked his head into Kate’s room and peered around the door to see his patient, “Hey.”

Apparently, Kate was cranky, “Get in here, Castle.”

“Yes ma’am. Geez, bossy today aren’t we?”

“I want to go home!”

“Kate, it was only for a night.”

“Then trade places with me.”

“You know I would.”

“You are an infuriating man.”

“It took you this long to figure that out? I’m a little disappointed, actually.”

“Are you really going to joke with me?”

Castle moved further into the room and pulled a chair up to Kate’s bed, “Of course I am. What else would I do?”

“Anything else? Yeah, anything else would be good.”

“You know, if I didn’t know better, I would say that Kate Beckett is afraid of hospitals!”

“Castle, I am not scared of hospitals even with their horrid smell, clinical walls, uncomfortable beds and…and…nurses that scare the fuck out of me.”

“The nurse?”

“She’s scary, alright! She came in at least six times last night and kept looking at me like I was next on the menu. Like she wanted to eat me…”

“So let me get this straight—you can take down 6’4” suspects in high heels but Nurse Ratchet scares you?”

“I didn’t have my gun, Castle.”

“Uh huh. Someone has a fascination with Peanuts.”

“Peanuts?”

“Capital ‘P’ Peanuts. You know, Snoopy, Linus, Charlie Brown…”

“How in the world does that make any sense?”

“Hey, Linus. You carry that gun around like a blue blanket.”

“Does that mean you are Sally?”

“Nope. Linus eventually fell out of love with Sally, so the metaphor won’t work here.”

“You got that right…”

“Speaking of Lanie, she wants to come see you and I just got out of Esposito’s room. He is going to be fine.”

“Yeah, they told me the plate and the screws would keep him from limping. He lost a lot of blood, Castle.”

“I know. They transfused two units during surgery, but Kate, he is going to be alright.”

“Good.”

“So how are you feeling this morning?”

“I’m good.”

“…”

Kate sighed in frustration, “Alright, I hurt a little. My ribs are killing me and I don’t even want to look at the bruises on my face.”

“Trust me, Kate. Only you could make bruises look sexy.”

“That’s a little dark and twisted, Castle.”

“I think that makes me the Tin-Man.”

“The Tin-Man?”

“Have you read Baum’s original novel?”

“I can’t stand The Wizard of Oz.”

“What?”

“Dorothy is just so passive and weak.”

“Wow, another layer. Though, to be fair, it was the 1930’s.”

“Who cares?”

“Let me guess, you hated Cinderella too?”

“Absolutely. I always wanted to be the Prince.”

“Alright then, no Wizard of Oz.”

“Yep, so don’t ever expect me to sit down and watch it at Thanksgiving.”

“As long as you are there, I wouldn’t care.”

Kate smirked but turned her attention back to the convoluted story Castle wanted to weave, “So what about the Tin-Man is dark and twisted?”

“He was history’s first masochist. He chopped his own arms and legs off and simultaneously replaced them with tin. He just forgot his heart.”

“That IS dark and twisted.”

“A theme for which we are well acquainted.”

As Castle took Kate’s hand in his, the mood of the room descended with the weight of past events. Kate knew she needed to be honest with Castle, and though she had found it to be much easier than she thought before, she understood that it was a character flaw that she still needed to work on. “Castle, I…”

“No matter what you say, I’m going to forgive you.”

“Would you just shut-up for a second?”

“Only if I can get into bed with you.”

Kate smiled at his obvious eagerness. He just wanted to be close to her, he wanted to hold her and make sure she was real, and if she were honest, after everything, she felt the same. He would have to be careful because of her bruised ribs and he would have to scrunch in to the little space of the small hospital bed, but Kate was certain that wouldn’t matter.

She smiled, reached out her hand and scooted over in the bed as far as she could, “Of course.”

Castle smiled that dorky smile that spoke to his love for her, “Alright, shutting up.”

Of course, she still had to tease him a little, “You know if you say it, you aren’t succeeding.”

“Alright, Ms. Technicality.”

“Castle…”

“…”

Kate took a quick breath, winced from the pain in chest, and pushed forward, “I…I’m sorry. About the letter. About leaving you behind.”

Kate’s eyes watered at the memory of that horrible dream and looked into Castle’s eyes as he lay with her, his arm around her head as she turned gingerly to lay on his chest, “That nightmare I had…it…I saw you die from a gunshot wound to the chest. I buried you. I just…I couldn’t do it.”

Castle understood the pain she felt, for it was the same for him, “I forgive you. Of course, I forgive you. And just so you know, your fear was mine. We share more than you think, Kate.”

They looked at each other, both confident that they understood, “I know we do.”

“If my divorces taught me anything, it’s that you have to find that person who walks the same path. My greatest mistake with both Meredith and Gina was that we were never able to find a rhythm we both could dance too. If I want to avoid those mistakes, then I know we have to walk this path together. No more secrets, no more leaving the other behind. Equals in life and in death.”

“You know I’m not good at this.”

“I know. The only way to get good at something though is to try. I know you can’t fail if you don’t try, but you can’t succeed either. And I’ll always bet on you.”

“Ditto.”

“So, do you want to tell me what happened on that roof?”

“Only if you show me yours.”

“How very naughty.”

“Oh good grief, Charlie Brown.”

“Now that I think about it, you are probably more Lucy than Linus. You always did pull the football away as I tried to kick it.”

Kate laughed a teary chuckle and playfully slapped Castle’s chest, “I don’t think I denied you much these past weeks, Castle.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yeah, you better be smiling.”

“Oh, I am.”

“Uh huh. You know, you saved me on top of that roof.”

“What do you mean?”

As Kate went through what happened on the roof from the moment she left Ryan and Esposito in Mason’s office, Castle simply nodded along and listened intently to the story she wove. He was livid and thankful, frightened and relieved, and as the emotions flew through him, even though he knew the ending, it still tore at his heart.

“I think I want to kill Mason Harrison again.”

“I don’t. I’m just glad it’s over.”

“Me too. When I was in the helicopter, all I could think of was getting to you.”

“How in the world did you end up on that roof?”

“Well, it was easier than I thought it would be. First, I basically told the truth. I told the two officers you placed outside my door what you were doing, and they couldn’t wait to get to BP and help because of the bombing. That part was easy.”

“And the part that wasn’t?”

“Well, did you hear about the high-speed chase that occurred on the L.I.E around 9:30?”

“Vaguely, I was kinda busy at the moment.”

“Well, the helicopter that was scrambled to assist landed with time to spare. I didn’t really know what to do by the time I got out of the loft, so I went to the 12th and called Ryan. Apparently he was already in the camera room, so I basically got Karapowski to call in more ambulances. She arranged for me to get to the helicopter and take SWAT team 3 so we could help. When we were in the air, the hard part was finding Mason’s chopper and ordering it down. By the way, if anyone asks, I am a junior member of the National Guard.”

“Oh God…”

“Yep, hey is impersonating a military officer a federal offense?”

Kate was incredulous, “Yes!”

“Well, it was for a good cause…”

“Yeah, I think we will let it slide just this once.”

“In the end, we got them to land at Mt. Sinai and we had some officers of the 12th meet them there. You know the rest.”

“Wow, Castle. We really do need to get you that Junior Detective Badge.”

“Really?”

“No!”

“Buzz-kill.”

Kate had one final query that she had to know, “Do we have a final body count yet?”

“Um…yeah…4 SWAT officers wounded, 8 members of Mason’s security force are dead, and 8 more wounded. Fortunately, there were no more NYPD deaths, though Williams will have to retire.”

“At least they are alive…”

“Kate, after the bombing, not one of those officers would rather have been anywhere else.”

“I know.”

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Captain Gates stepped through the door and met her lead detective.

“Hello, Detective Beckett. How are you feeling?”

“Better. It still hurts but it’s getting better.”

Captain Gates looked towards Rick who was still in the bed with Kate and made no move to get up, “Uh huh. Mr. Castle.”

Rick nodded, “Captain.”

“Well, I won’t keep you. It seems you are both busy at the moment.”

Was that a smile and a joke from Captain Iron Gates? They really had changed the world…

“What can I do for you, Sir?”

“Well, as per SOP in the case of an officer involved shooting, especially one such as this and with the press hounding us at every move, the decision has been made…” Captain Gates grimaced as she spoke her next words. “To suspend you until the investigation into the shooting is complete.”

Castle and Beckett were in shock but it was Captain Gates who spoke first, “I’m certain that you will be vindicated, Detective Beckett. Let’s make that clear.”

Though she expected to be angry at SOP and the cowards in the NYPD who wanted nothing more than to cover their own ass, Kate simply smiled at her Captain. Together, they had come a long way, and as it stood, the mutual respect between them forced Kate to see just how difficult this was for her captain.

Her captain. Huh…

“It’s alright, Sir. I understand.”

Captain Gates smile was reserved but hopeful, “I already collected both your gun and your badge, Detective.”

Kate held up a hand, “Please, Sir. Call me Kate. I’m not a detective anymore.”

Captain Gates smiled once again, “Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Kate’s captain walked forward and shook her hand, “Mr. Castle. Keep her out of trouble for the next few days, understood?”

It was Castle’s turn to smile, “Yes, Sir. By the way, Rick is fine with me.”

Gates shook his hand and looked him over, “Victoria.”

They said their goodbyes as Victoria left to check on her other detective. The mood in the room wasn’t as solemn as Castle thought it would be and Kate’s face didn’t feature a clue as to how she really took the news.

“Are you okay?”

“Actually, I am. I don’t know who I am without that badge, but maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s time I figured that out.”

Castle smiled and held Kate just a little tighter, mindful of the pain in her ribs, “There’s my Scarecrow.”

May 17th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

5:53 P.M.

As The Thin Man solved a murder in Castle’s blu-ray player, Alexis sat with Martha in the recliner and Kate snoozed next to Rick on the couch. It had been a joyful respite from the drama of the past weeks, they had talked and laughed together, and later they expected the gang, minus Esposito who was still in the hospital, to join them. Even Jim Beckett would be there, though this wouldn’t be the first time Mr. Beckett had seen Kate since everything had transpired. When Kate was released on the 15th, Kate and her father had spent the night together at Johanna’s grave, they reveled in their mother and wife, and allowed fourteen years of grief to finally lay itself to rest. For Jim Beckett, he not only had justice for his slain wife, but also a daughter whose heart had returned to its once magnificent glory. The murder of his wife and subsequent alcoholism had taken so much from this family, but now, the promise of a new day lifted Jim to a place he never expected.

The knock at the door startled them from the chemistry of William Powell and Myrna Loy, but Alexis was up before anyone else to get the door. When she re-entered the living room, her puzzled look preceded the man in the black suit.

Alexis spoke directly to Kate, “This is Mr. Ryan from the FBI. He’s here to see you, Kate.”

Kate was startled once more and wondered why the FBI needed her, “Uh, alright.”

“Hello, Ms. Beckett. I’m sorry to disturb you but could I have a minute alone?”

Kate looked at Castle as he shrugged his shoulders and pointed to his office, “Sure. Let’s go into the office.”

The man followed Kate without a word, “What is that about, Richard?”

Richard turned towards his mother and then back to the retreating forms entering his office, “I have no idea.”

20 minutes later…

“Thank you, Mr. Ryan. I’ll let you know.”

As Mark Ryan left the loft, Kate returned to the living room and snuggled up to Rick on the couch, “Well, that was interesting.”

Castle looked at the woman he loved, “What was that about?”

“The President has initiated a task force that will investigate corruption in Washington D.C. related to Mason Harrison in the hopes that they can take down the informants and corrupted leaders that took money from BP. Since I know the case better than anyone, they offered me a job.”

Martha was flabbergasted, “I didn’t know you were unemployed, dear.”

Kate shrugged, “Well, I guess I am. Captain Gates told me that it was temporary, but I guess these things could go either way.”

Castle’s concern was evident, “What does the job entail?”

“Well, I would help run the task force with Mr. Ryan and help put together cases against dirty politicians and the elite of Washington that were touched by Mason Harrison.”

Castle’s curiosity was piqued, “What did you tell them?”

“I told them that the only way I would even consider it is if I had my team with me, including Lanie and you. When he agreed to that, I told him I’d have to think about it and that I would get back to him.”

Though he had proven himself countless times before, the ease and certainty which Kate exhibited by firmly placing him as a member of her team filled his heart and lifted his spirit. This incredible woman…

Castle felt his support rising, “So, what do you want to do?”

Kate looked up at him from her perch against his chest and then looked down, “I don’t really know. It’s a great opportunity but there is a part of me that wants nothing more than to be done with this case. I don’t think I knew who I was until he offered me that job, but I think I finally figured it out. I want to be a member of the NYPD, I want to be a detective, and I want to do all of that…with you.”

As Kate looked back towards Rick, he saw the want in her eyes, “I want that as well.”

Alexis spoke up from across the room, “We want you here too, Kate.”

Kate and Alexis shared a smile that spoke to their repaired relationship. It was a relationship that had been fractured, mostly because of their love for Rick, but it was one well on the mend. Alexis had welcomed Kate into the loft, especially after the letter, and they had begun to rebuild a friendship that was deeply important to everyone in the loft.

Kate turned a little red at that one, “Thank you, Alexis.”

Rick laughed, “Huh, you know it’s funny how the color of your face can match my daughter’s hair!”

Oh, he was so getting it for that one!

May 28th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

9:37 A.M.

In the eleven days since the visit of Special Agent Mark Ryan, the lives of this special and unique family had slowly begun to return to normal. The press was still buzzing about the death of Mason Harrison and the implications of the special panel convened by the President of the United States, they constantly circled around the gang, especially Kate and Rick, and as expected, Kate and Rick’s relationship had become part of the ether.

Esposito was released to the care of a very grateful Lanie on the 19th, and after a hearing that was a mere formality, according to a grateful Mayor whose poll numbers had surged, Kate had been cleared in the investigation. She would receive a formal reprimand for dropping her clip on that roof however, and though it did not sit well with the members of the 12th, Kate accepted her punishment for the violation of the NYPD’s SOP. In the process, as a family and after a lengthy discussion with the people she loved, Kate decided to turn down the offer from the FBI. The decision had been unanimous.

In the meantime, the mayor and Captain Gates had seen to it that every member of Kate’s team, including Lanie, would receive paid vacation that lasted until June 6th from a grateful city for a job well done. Not one to be outdone, Castle had invited the entire gang, including Captain Gates, to his estate in the Hamptons for a week of relaxation and fun. Everyone had accepted except Captain Gates, but she promised she would make an appearance if she could get away from the new precinct.

That’s where Kate and Rick stood this breezy Monday morning two weeks to the day Mason Harrison had died, together in the loft and packing for a trip with their family.

“You know, at some point, I should probably go back to my apartment. I can’t imagine the dust or the bio-hazard my refrigerator has become.”

Castle smiled at Kate who stood leaning against the door frame of his office, “Maybe after the trip, Kate.”

When she first began staying at the loft, it was a necessity because of Ben Jenkins and Jordan Campbell, but since then, she hadn’t felt the need to go home. Thus, she had stayed at the loft with Rick, occasionally trekking to her apartment for no longer than 20 minutes to gather clothes and personal items she might need.

“You don’t think the food in my refrigerator is going to grow legs and try to escape to some magical food land?”

“Magical food land?”

“Hey, you are the story-teller in this relationship. I just read them!”

Kate made her way into the office and wrapped her arms around Rick, “Well, you do inspire a great deal of creativity, Muse.”

“I can still break your legs, you know.”

“I could take you.”

“Yeah, out to lunch maybe!”

“Those self-defense classes have really paid off, actually. I could hold my own, Katie-bug.”

Instantly, Kate released Rick, “What did you call me?”

It was a response equal parts mischievous and anger-filled. Rick decided, for his health, to be funny, “Lanie tells so many of the best stories!”

“I am going to kill her!”

“After you are her maid of honor, of course.”

“Maybe. What did she tell you?”

“Oh, she might have let slip the events of a hotel room in Panama City, circa 2005.”

“Oh my God…”

Rick couldn’t hold back his laugh nor his want to touch Kate, “Don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. Besides, I have no secrets and neither should you.”

“You don’t think that will ruin the magic?”

“I thought you didn’t believe in magic?”

“I don’t. I do believe in something though.”

“What’s that?”

“Us.”

Rick was shocked as his arms snaked around her back, “Katherine Beckett, I never thought I’d see the day you would be as sappy as I am.”

Kate laughed and rested her head on his chest, “Yeah well, you bring it out in me. But if I ever hear that nick-name again, there will be casualties!”

Rick returned her laugh, “Alright, fair enough. By the way, I have something for you before we go.”

“Yeah?”

“Hang on a second, alright?”

Kate released Rick and he dashed behind his desk in his study to gather a small rectangular box, “I think, in no small way, I’ve wanted to give this to you for the longest of times.”

Kate looked on in wonder, “What is it?”

Rick placed the small black box in her hand, “Now, I know you said two whole months, but I’m not sure I can wait that long to start my life with you.”

Rick opened the box to reveal a key to the loft, “Move in with me?”

Kate wasn’t shocked per se. In all actuality, the transition had been much less painful than she ever dreamed it could be but this was a giant step to take after only a month.

Rick smiled at her hesitation, “Kate, we haven’t been dating for a month, we’ve been in a relationship for four years. I don’t think it’s too soon, I think this is long past due. C’mon, I’ll buy you the complete Peanuts collection on blu-ray. No girl can say no to that!”

Kate laughed and felt the hesitation melt away. He was correct, of course. They had been in a relationship for much longer than a month, they just hadn’t been smart enough or whole enough to realize the truth standing in front of them. She had her doubts though, she still had that fear somewhere deep down that occasionally bubbled to the surface, but nothing in the world felt like this. Like this moment, with him.

She had fought to make it home to him while she was on that roof. Now, standing in the soft light of a Manhattan dusk, it felt so right to call this home. And so with a giant smile and a promise of a wonderful future, Kate Beckett seized the fruits of her hard-fought victory, “Well, if no girl can say no to that, then I guess I’ll just have to say yes.”

Rick smiled and enveloped her in a crushing hug, “I love you!”

Kate laughed at the moment, “I love you too, Kitten.”

“Hey!”

“That’s for Katie-bug.”

Rick laughed, “Alright, alright. I won’t ever call you Katie-bug if you never call me kitten?”

“Deal.”

Rick leaned down and captured Kate’s lips in a deep and passionate kiss. When they both needed air, they pulled apart, “We are moving in together!”

“I already knew that.”

“We are going to the Hamptons together.”

“Knew that too…”

“Kate, this is the start of our last great adventure.”

Here in the loft, amongst the words that kept her from the abyss, and in the arms of the man she loved, Kate Beckett not only looked forward to the adventure but embraced it for the wild and magical ride only Richard Castle could promise.

Her life was finally hers.

“I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather embark upon this adventure with, than you.”


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