Stained-Glass Windows

Darkness Rises


April 30th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

1:57 P.M

Kate didn’t need to look at the remaining contents of the package to know exactly what this was and what it meant. Less than 12 hours after she thought she had finally rid of herself of this suffocating weight, one letter had the power to change everything. This was not what she wanted but it had been thrust upon her.

Katherine Beckett,

If you are reading this letter, it can mean one of two things. I am on the run or I am dead. More than likely, given the circumstances, I am dead, so don’t waste time looking for me and don’t worry about where it came from. That isn’t important right now. Roy once told me that you were the greatest NYPD detective he ever trained. I hope you can live up to that endorsement Ms. Beckett because what you face now is bigger than anything you have before. You have reached the big time, Katherine. Congratulations.

By now, I would guess that you know this is about your mother’s murder and the conspiracy behind it. If you have this package you know now that the deal that kept you alive has fallen apart. I don’t care why it happened or the circumstances that led to this place, you and everyone you love are now in danger and the only way out is to take him down yourself. Trust no one detective.

Everything you need to win this war that has been thrust upon you is in this package, but I must warn you, do not run head-first into him. Use that cunning and spunk that Roy always spoke about.

Finally, I feel I must apologize. Fear kept me from finishing this, fear at the scope of what we faced, and so I allowed evil to grow into the abomination contained in this package. I truly am sorry Ms. Beckett that this task has fallen to you and only you.

Hopefully, you can do what neither Roy nor I could do. End this.

End this detective and make the world a better place.

John

“Kate, what’s wrong?”

She threw the rest of the package on the bar and handed Castle the letter so he could read it. Kate didn’t know quite what to feel at this point, her emotions seemed like the perfect storm raging inside her, and though she had yearned for the justice her mother deserved, she now yearned for something more. She knew that wasn’t possible now. She knew that this package changed everything. It seems life thought differently.

When Rick saw the look of shock and agony on Kate’s face, he knew the contents of the package were a harbinger of something horrible that lie ahead. After he read the letter, he could feel nothing but guilt. It felt suffocating and overpowering. Oh God, what had he done? The situation was horrifyingly similar to the events of three years ago. Kate had put the case behind her and his mistakes forced her back to an obsession that threatened to destroy her.

Castle could barely form the words, “I…I’m so sorry Kate.”

“You know, it would be wonderful if you didn’t have to keep telling me that.”

She stalked the front room like a lioness in a cage, ready to attack at the slightest provocation, but it was her eyes that revealed the depths of that anger. It wasn’t pain, it was simple and utter rage. The look in her eyes at that moment resembled that of a lioness kidnapped from the wild and placed in a cage at a zoo. Those who knew could always tell the difference between a big cat who was born in captivity and one caught in the wild because those who were captured in the wild held that primal instinct and thrill of the hunt in their eyes. It was a glint of what could happen at any moment the instinct roared to life.

“We could run. Pack up just what we need and hide from them?”

“So you would be willing to give up everything? Take Alexis and Martha away from the lives they know and love? And we would never be safe, they would do everything they could to find us. We can’t run, Castle.”

“Then turn it over to the FBI like we talked about last night. Turn it over and let this just pass us by.”

“Did you read the letter? You’ve said it yourself, they are powerful and evidence has a way of disappearing in this case. We can’t trust anyone.”

“This isn’t your responsibility, Kate.”

She couldn’t hold back the rage any longer, “What do you want me to do Castle? Seriously what the hell am I supposed to do? The deal is off and that means they are coming after us, and now I’m certain that I’m not the only one they are after. Did you read the fucking note? Everyone is in danger! Everyone! And we can’t trust anyone, which means we have to end this or they will end it for us!”

Castle tried to surge towards her but she quickly backed away, “Maybe we could contact them and try to make the same deal again?”

She tried desperately to calm her nerves and squelch that rage, “Are you really willing to take that chance? With Alexis? With Martha?”

Rick paused and saw the efficacy of her words, “No…no I’m not. Kate I…”

“Just…just don’t.” She held up her hand to stop the words from spilling forth. “Just give me a minute Castle.”

She continued to stalk across the living room, all of her nerves were on fire, and she felt like a nuclear device just ready to explode. As if she hadn’t already. What could she do? She couldn’t risk the people she loved just as she was getting better at letting them in and seeking their council but she couldn’t escape this either. It was then that her mother’s words came back to her, “I am sorry that you are the one who must stand now. You must find it within yourself to forgive, to love, and to save those who need it most. You must rise to the occasion.

And then she screamed. As loud and for as long as she could. He closed his eyes. He could hardly bear the weight and the sound tore through him like the bullet that had ripped her apart nearly a year before, but as she turned toward him, he understood that this wasn’t about grief or failure. She was letting go of the rage, letting go of the anger that threatened them both, but more than that, she was coming to terms with what they both realized they had to do. This was no longer about justice, it was about protecting what made life worth living. It was about making a stand for those you loved because she would be damned if she let them down.

She made a split decision, “Castle, I need to take you somewhere. Now.”

April 30th, 2012-New York City

Legacy and Remembrance Cemetery

2:20 P.M.

They stood together, Castle a little behind Kate on her left, looking towards the head stone that had come to define every January 9th. Neither had spoken in ten minutes, they just stood and took in the atmosphere. It was neither awkward nor uncomfortable, it just felt normal. Never before had she shared this with him and it gave him hope that she wouldn’t see their relationship as a casualty of the battle that loomed. They could do this. Together. At least, that was his hope…

“Hello mom. I’m kinda at a loss, I don’t really know how long it’s been, but it’s been a while since I have been here. I’m sorry about that. Today, I brought someone I’ve wanted you to meet for a long time. I want to introduce you to my partner, my friend Richard Castle. The man I love.”

He stood behind her, as he always had, awed at the honor she seemed to bestow upon him. His mother was right, for a writer he could never find the words when he needed them most, and so he stood rooted to his spot unable to speak.

She grinned at him and lightly took his hand in hers, silently giving him both the strength he needed and the permission he sought to be himself, “Usually, I can’t get him to shut-up mom, though I can’t now imagine a life without his words. He is the one mom who helped me get through the worst moments of my life, and though I never did before, with all that has happened, I am beginning to believe in something. I don’t exactly know what but I do. I remember how you used to rave about his novels and how you said they were so good because they always brought justice to the world. When you died, I picked them up. They helped. More than he knows. And that’s why I am telling you this. I need him to know that this will not break us, this will not be our Waterloo, our roots flow deeper than that which threatens to tear us apart, and it’s important to me that he knows that. This is where I choose to make my stand. With him standing by my side.”

With a small urge forward by her clasped hand, he took two steps forward and stood beside her instead of behind of her. It was a small gesture but it meant so much. The last few days, hell the last few months had been nothing short of a roller coaster, one that reached to the sky and fell to the ground, but they had made it this far and together they would do their best to make it home.

He leaned over and whispered, “Thank you for sharing this with me. For making me a better man.” He then let her hand fall to her side and turned to pick up the flowers he had laid on the ground while waiting to see whether she would allow him to give them to Johanna. They were lilies. They seemed appropriate. He stepped forward and placed them on the ground that held Johanna’s casket and paused briefly to whisper something she could not hear. Rick placed his hand on his mouth and then touched the headstone with the same hand, while leaning down on one knee.

Kate watched with rapt attention as he stood and slowly took the few steps it took to retake his position by her side. She then asked, “Can I ask a favor?”

“You can ask me anything.”

“Can I get a moment alone with her?”

He looked at her and recognized her plea, “Of course. I’ll be at the car.” He then leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. Without hesitation, she took his face and claimed his lips. It wasn’t passionate or heated, it was comforting and told him all he needed to know.

When Castle was safely off towards the car, Kate turned to her mother, “I was ready to give this up mom. I was ready to try and live the life I want. I wanted to make my stand with him. But today I realized something. He isn’t my last stand nor is this case. Whether you were real or not, I finally understand that both Castle and this case are but stops along this journey. I get it now. It’s not about overcoming all that has come my way, it’s about the sword and the shield and the aftermath.”

She knelt down in front of her mother’s headstone, “This can’t be about revenge or I am no better than them. You told me to let them in and that is exactly what I am going to do. Now we all face the greatest challenge we have ever faced. We will do it together though, and that will make all the difference.”

Tears began to flow down her face in earnest, “Mom, I am going to walk into hell with the help of my friends, take the Devil’s trident, and plunge it through his heart. And I’m going to do it…for Castle.”

She stood from her kneeling position, “Please, please forgive me.”

Kate leaned down and kissed her mother’s name, she traced it lovingly with her fingers, “I’ve gotta go mom. It’s time for me to wake up.”

They met back at the car and he saw the tears soaking her face. Yet, there was something different about her. The way she walked, the way she looked at him screamed something other than hurt and pain. It screamed determination and focus, the things that had first drawn him in, and it dawned on him, the meaning of what had just occurred. She had steeled herself to the coming battle like a general who saw the impending war that must be waged.

“You’re ready.” He took her hand in his and provided the comfort he knew she needed. They were together and he would be there for her, no matter what dragons they encountered or paths of fire they avoided.

It wasn’t a question, more a statement of fact, but she nodded all the same. Let him in Kate, let him in, “I have something I need to tell you.” She sighed and let her new mantra flow through her and protect her like Linus’ blue blanket, “The night before I came to your apartment, I had a…dream. I think. I don’t really know what it was actually but that’s the only thing that makes sense. It was about my mother. We were in a white room and she helped me to both say goodbye and to realize exactly what I needed to do.”

His face shown of understanding, “I wrote a letter to her the night we got together, thanking her for everything.”

She smiled, “I kind of figured.”

“Even in death, she, like her daughter, is extraordinary,” he quipped.

She smiled at him and brought his hand up to her mouth and placed a chaise kiss on the back, “She would have loved you.”

He wanted to take away the darkness for just a moment, give her a breath of life even when the darkness was around them, “I knew you were both fan-girls.”

She laughed loudly, “Not fan-girls Rick, fans. Big, huge difference.”

Just as he desired, her smile lit up the cemetery, “Uh huh, are you ever going to tell me your screen name?”

She couldn’t hold back her patented eye-roll or the laugh that escaped her mouth, “Haven’t we already had this discussion? C’mon Castle, you have to be more original than that, I’m not that boring.”

He disconnected his hand from her and began to make his way over to his side of her cruiser, “Hey, you could never be boring but we all know I’m a hack.”

She again laughed and allowed herself to be taken away by their banter, “Do you expect me to disagree with that?”

“Hey, I was looking for a little sympathy here, you can only bruise my ego so much Beckett!”

“Ha! That helium balloon you call an ego needs to be popped every once in a while. If it gets too big you are just going to float away!”

“Ha, ha, very funny. Just you remember, I can withhold sex from you at any time.”

“Yeah right, you couldn’t resist me if you tried.”

As they both entered the cruiser, Castle rose to the invitation, “Is that a challenge?”

Kate quickly leaned over the seat and took his face in her hands. She began to rub her nose against his. Her breath was hot and she moaned slightly. He closed his eyes and let her play with him, and as he expected, she began to nip his ear with her mouth and tongue. Then she whispered in his ear, “No, it’s a fact.”

He barely had enough blood in his head to form a coherent response. Well, at least not that head anyway, “Tease. You are an amazing tease.”

“And don’t you forget it.”

She placed her keys in the ignition, and as the car roared to life, he knew that he would never forget, “So what do we do now?”

“Actually, I was going to ask you that.”

He was shocked. Not that she was unable to relinquish control but he expected her to dive into this head-first. “You’re asking me?”

She looked at him and started in immediately, “Castle, this time is going to be different. I can’t give up the case like I wanted but what I can do is find a balance where I don’t fall into that hole again. I’ll make you a deal, you help me keep my head above water and I’ll keep you from falling back into the obsession that drove you the past few weeks. We can find that equilibrium Castle and I think part of that is allowing others to help and sharing when it needs to happen.”

The pride was evident when he spoke, “It’s a deal, detective.”

“So what do you think, should we bring Martha and Alexis home?”

“I think we should, yeah. I think it will be easier to protect them here than in The Hamptons, and I want them here. I need…I need to make it up to them.”

“Castle, they will forgive you. I forgive you. Don’t you ever think this is your fault.”

He looked down at his hands as she pulled out of the cemetery, “I’m trying. I really am.”

She reached over and took his hand in hers, “I am here for you. I know that guilt Castle. Over the years, we became intimately acquainted. Don’t hide it from me, alright?”

He smirked at her, “Should I be jealous?”

“Of an emotion? Are you kidding me?”

“Just checking detective, just checking.”

“Castle?”

“I promise, I won’t hide it from you.”

She looked at him and this time it was her turn to be proud, “Thank you.”

He squeezed her hand and pulled out his phone, “I’m gonna call them and tell them to come back, then we can call Esposito and Ryan and tell them to meet us at the loft as soon as they can get there. We can explain everything then.”

“I think it might be a good idea to put the case back together in your study as well, we can use that package to add to it and try to get a picture of what we are dealing with.”

“What about Lanie?”

“Call her too. We are going to need all the help we can get and she is one of the smartest people I have ever met. Besides, she would kill me if I didn’t tell her about this. I’ve already kept more from her than I should have.”

“You guys still haven’t fully made up?”

Kate sighed, “We have and will always be friends but we still haven’t gotten past the summer. Sometimes, I forget how much damage I did…”

“Hey, yin and yang, remember?”

“I know, I know. I’m going to do my best to work on that too.”

“Your best has always been good enough.”

April 30th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

9:32 P.M.

The entire afternoon had gone according to script. Well, mostly anyway. Martha and Alexis had arrived around 6, and the tension between Alexis and Kate was palpable. Rick had spent over an hour with just them as he explained everything, and it seemed that things between them had returned to what it was before. However, Kate couldn’t shake the feeling that every time Alexis looked at her, she was somehow blaming her for all of this. Was this her fault? After they had ordered Chinese food and chowed down on moo goo gai pan, pork ribs, sweet and sour chicken and beef, and far too many eggrolls to count, Martha and Alexis had excused themselves around 8:15. That left Esposito, Ryan, Lanie, Rick and Kate together again.

The entire gang had spent the better part of the day when they were alone going through the files and creating a murder board that allowed them to see the entire picture. That picture was daunting to say the least. Apparently, Roy had been a member of Delta Task Force 19 with Dick Coonan, Hal Lockwood, Mason Harrison, John Smith and two others. That fact was confirmed by a picture in the package that showed them all together. The picture was taken in 1985 just outside of Kandahar, Afghanistan. It was a part of their former bosses’ history that they never knew. What they came to realize was that Kate wasn’t the only one who wasn’t a sharer. They also had a good idea who the sniper at Roy’s funeral had been. One of the ‘others’ in the photo was likely Kate’s shooter, and that fact was lost on none of them.

What they also realized was that this case did not begin with the murder of Bob Armand in 1992, it began in 1988 during the first Palestinian Intifada. On April 19th, 1988 PLO leader Abu Jihad was assassinated in Northern Africa while on a diplomatic mission. When news reached Gaza and other Palestinian territories, tempers flared and riots erupted. Those riots turned dangerous quickly with deaths attributed both to Israeli efforts to quell the violence and in-fighting amongst groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Though Americans were warned to leave Israel and all Palestinian territories, many aid workers remained behind to help the dead, the dying and the destitute. Almost expectantly, three American aid workers were taken hostage, and after diplomatic efforts with Israel failed, the United States sent Delta Task Force 19 in to secure the hostages.

Operation Tip of the Spear was mostly a success but small skirmishes forced Delta to separate, and in the chaos, Roy was left behind. Delta was ordered to leave Roy behind but they disobeyed orders and went back in to retrieve their fallen comrade. In the process, they were forced to blow up an apartment complex which housed anywhere from 300 to 500 innocent Palestinians. Estimates put the death toll at somewhere between 30 and 60, and though Delta was able to ex-fill successfully, the Palestinians blamed the Israeli’s for the incident. The Oslo Accords and The Madrid Conference were placed in serious jeopardy by the actions of Delta, and as a result, on May 2nd, 1988, all of the members of Delta were honorably discharged. They were spared a dishonorable discharge because of the resulting cover-up concerning American involvement in the downing of the apartment complex, but the damage had been done and Delta Task Force 19 could no longer be trusted.

Mason Harrison had joined Delta as a way to test himself and find something greater than the wealth he inherited growing up with millionaire parents. When the thing he found purpose in was taken, he was shaken to his core. He was the leader of a group of men that did important things in the world, they helped those who could not help themselves, and when he was no longer on that front line, he roamed the world searching for purpose and meaning. When he had his own revelation, he used his money, his influence and his contacts to create a company where he wouldn’t be beholden to the whims of pencil-pushers who failed to see the complexities of the world. He created a company that he named Beati Pacifici Inc., roughly translated from Latin as “blessed are the peacemakers”. It was a company that specialized in tactical support and mercenary services, he would train his own people and use them to bring peace to those who so yearned for its gentle embrace. When the company first began, he recruited all the members of his former task force and every member of the team signed on except for Roy and John. The remaining members of Delta Task Force 19 created an inner circle that sought to protect and defend each other and spread their message across the globe.

And when Roy refused to join in the cause, they determined that they would watch to make sure he would never be a thorn in their side. Those first few years were tough, they lacked the necessary funding to properly run this fledging company, but opportunity soon presented itself. After the murder of Bob Arman in 1992, Mason Harrison saw an opportunity to boost his company and place Roy under his control. He blackmailed Roy and the others into giving him the money they had collected: 29 million dollars. With a fresh infusion of capital and police officers he now owned, Mason Harrison was able to take his company and make it a dominant force in the world.

Today, Beati Pacifici was the 2nd largest mercenary company in the United States behind only Blackwater, it’s influence was global and it’s reach was nearly omnipresent. According to the files, they had NYPD detectives, people inside the Mayor’s office, United States Congressmen and Senators on the payroll, and they used that reach to land contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and South Korea and keep their actions from coming under scrutiny.

Though there were still questions about Roy’s past, the rest of the story came into sharper focus the more they studied it. It became clear that Dick Coonan wasn’t hired by Mason Harrison to take out Johanna Beckett, he was ordered to do so as one of the CEO’s top lieutenants, and that Coonan’s drug business in Afghanistan was just a front to keep money rolling into Beati Pacifici. In fact, that’s how Coonan had been laundering the money he made from the drugs he sold, he ran it through the company as extra stock dividends or expenses paid, and when that didn’t work, accountants at Beati Pacifici had cooked their books in order to hide the money and later launder it so that it looked simply like profits. Al Capone had never gone down for murder but the government had gotten him on tax evasion, and that was one avenue Beckett and her gang were going to explore. The more evidence they could gather and the more illegal things they could pin on this bastard the better.

“This is fucking unbelievable. How in the world are we supposed to fight this?”

Instead of throwing cold water on everyone in attendance, Ryan’s curse caused everyone to pause and then burst into laughter. It might have been a coping mechanism but it was sorely needed.

“Yo, honey milk. Since when do you curse?” Esposito could barely contain his laughter.

Even Ryan allowed a smile to break through the enormity of the situation, “Hey, I’m Irish. It’s genetic.”

Castle couldn’t help himself, “I thought drinking was genetic?”

“That, writer boy, is a stereotype that I would thank you not to indulge.”

Esposito nearly coughed at that, “It’s not a stereotype when it’s true.”

Ryan couldn’t stop the laughter now, “Uh huh, I seem to remember a night 5 years ago when you got drunk and swore me to secrecy, so be careful partner.”

Both Lanie and Kate perked up at that but for different reasons, “Ha! I remember that too, Espo. Do you really want that story out for public consumption?”

“Hey, don’t hold out on me on his account. I’m going to marry the guy, I should know all of his embarrassing stories!”

They all laughed as Esposito squirmed in his seat and tried desperately to sink into the floor. Before Ryan could gleefully tell that story, a knock at the door startled them all.

Kate was the first to ask, “Castle are you expecting company?”

Castle replied quickly, “No. They are already here.”

They all descended into cop mode and Kate took charge, “Alright guys, stack’em up. Castle, take Lanie into the kitchen.” While Castle put himself between Lanie and the door, Kate, Esposito and Ryan drew their guns and made their way to the door. They went on three…

Kate was stunned, “Sir?”

Captain Victoria Gates walked calmly through the door and past the drawn guns of her three best detectives, “At ease gentlemen. Hello detective, I think we all need to talk.”

10 minutes later…

They sat around the table in Castle’s kitchen stunned at the turn of events. They were surrounded by the electronic murder board they had decided to move from Castle’s study and by a silence that was awkward to say the least.

Captain Gates broke the stalemate, “So, I guess I should explain a few things. I received the same package today that I assume you all did. You may wonder why and that’s what I am here to explain.”

Castle couldn’t hide his wonder, “Did you know Roy before we did?”

“Yes, Mr. Castle I did.”

Kate was taken aback, “How did I not know this?”

“You may wonder detective why I seem to have taken such an interest in you. It’s because Roy spoke so highly of you.”

“He never spoke of you.” It wasn’t meant as an insult necessarily, but Gates had been a thorn in her side for almost a year now. She wasn’t looking to make a new friend either.

The captain locked eyes with Beckett, “No, I wouldn’t imagine he did. Allow me to explain detective, we are close.”

Kate internally debated between embracing the anger and allowing her captain to speak. At least that part of by-the-book hadn’t left her yet, “Of course, Captain.”

“When I first came into the precinct, I can admit that I was jealous of you and part of my attitude was a direct product of that jealousy. Then I saw in you what Roy had spoken of for so many years and I decided that I could not allow you to be anything but the amazing detective Roy had admired. See, I know more about Roy Montgomery than anyone here, and that is probably the reason he never spoke of me. In 1978, Roy joined the army. After a few years of excellent service, his superiors saw something in him and urged him to join special-forces and put his unique skill set to better use.”

Ryan could no longer hold back his question, “Sir, how do you know all of this?”

“I joined the force in 1996 and quickly flew up the ranks because the NYPD was desperate for female quota fillers. It’s the reason I want to be called sir. I can’t stand that politics and law are why I am where I am but that is the nature of the business. I decided to play the game a long time ago. In 1997, Roy Montgomery became my training officer. He was my Royce, Detective.”

Kate bristled at the comment and the eyes of the room descended to her, “You have no idea whether that’s true or not, Sir.”

“I know that when the rumors became too much for the two of you, he left the force so that you could be a detective and work in Vice.”

The look that adorned Kate’s face told the captain all she needed, “But this is Roy’s story. Though he was a few years older than me, we became close friends who leaned on each when times got tough. He married Evelyn in 1980, and though I knew that, I could not help but fall in love with the man who saved my life. Twice. Of course, Roy would never cheat on his wife and I am not that kind of woman. Still, our mutual attraction had many, including Evelyn, wondering whether we were in fact participants in a torrid love affair. When the rumors became too much, I requested a transfer to Internal Affairs.”

Kate was the first to ask the question, “That still doesn’t explain how you know all of this.”

“I’m getting there detective. I would think that with your shadow being a famous writer, you above all would appreciate some build up.”

Kate almost laughed, “Fair enough.”

“On one of the occasions that Roy saved my life, the incident shook me badly. That night, Roy took me to a diner, Remy’s I believe, and told me his story. For months, I had been on him to tell me how he became a cop and how a former member of Delta had ended up as a police officer in the NYPD. In 1982, Roy finally made it as a member of Delta Force and was assigned to Delta Task Force 19. There he met the men that I assume you have already seen. What the files don’t give you is context. You see, Roy and John were different than the others in that task force and they bonded quickly. In 1983, while helping to train Afghan forces against the Soviet invasion of their country, John Smith was badly wounded. It was Roy that carried him out of there. Since then, they have been life long friends. Both are now dead. I assume you know about Operation Tip of the Spear?”

“We just read that.”

“Good. That mission tore Roy up, the thought of those innocent civilians dying just to save his life and the honorable discharge that followed forced him to re-evaluate and refocus. In 1990, Roy joined the NYPD to seek penance for that day. Really, Roy just wanted to make a difference for people. That’s when he met McAlister and Raglan. He told me about Arman, he told me about Harrison, and he told me that he would never again be party to an innocent person’s death. I don’t know if he died a hero, I may be blinded by his stupidity, but I do know that he thought you were innocent Detective. In my wildest dreams, this mess of man died to protect another innocent person. In my worst nightmares, he died a coward unwilling to face his own demons.”

Silence settled over the loft while Gates rose from her seat at the table to stare at the electronic murder board with all the information they had collected in that day. It was Esposito who broke the tension, “Roy Montgomery was not a coward.”

Gates turned to look at Esposito, “I know what happened that night. He told me what he was going to do moments before Detective Beckett walked into that hangar. I couldn’t get there in time, though I did try. When I did get there, everyone was dead and all of you were gone. I’m the one who called it in. And I’m the one that helped all of you keep his name clean. In a final act of…hell I don’t know, let’s call it compassion, Roy left a paper trail that legalizes your cover-up. He knew that all of you would hide his betrayal and he wanted to save you from that. Actually, that’s why I took the position as Captain of the 12th, I wanted to make sure that his betrayal didn’t taint the rest of you.”

Kate could hardly form the words, “He betrayed you as well.”

“Yes. I owe Roy Montgomery my life. When this is over though, I’m not sure I will ever look at him as anything else.”

When she was finished, none of them could talk. How do you add that story to a murder board when it hits so deeply? How do you function when you find out that a part of your own personal story was never yours to know? They thought the picture they saw before Gates arrived was daunting. Now, the story was just tragic and painful.

It hit Castle incredibly hard, and as he stood off to the side near the window on the ground floor of his loft looking out over the skyline of New York City, Kate joined him while the others fought to regain their composure.

“Castle?”

“If I had never opened that file…”

She reached over and tugged on his hand, “I told you about that guilt, didn’t I? This is not your fault, Castle. It’s not. Roy made that choice. Roy chose to make his stand. Whether it was right or wrong has nothing to do with you.”

“Would he have had to make that choice if I didn’t force the issue?”

“At some point, I firmly believe he would have had to make that choice, Castle. Something I have come to realize is that one day, whether it was yesterday or tomorrow, this case would have been forced into the open.”

Castle sighed, “He might have…”

Castle was cut off as Beckett leaned into him and kissed him passionately in front of everyone in the room. Esposito laughed, “Yo Ryan, you owe me big time.”

Ryan happily paid up, “At least something good came of all this though.”

Lanie just shook her head, “It’s about damn time.”

With that, this family firmly defined how they would react to Kate and Rick. They were ecstatic for this new light that shined between them, and as Lanie leaned in to kiss Esposito, this unusual family found that the way they would survive was by being with each other. By leaning on each other and depending on the friends they trusted with their lives.

Of course, Rick and Kate heard none of this, so when they broke they were oblivious to the scene behind them. It was then that Beckett saw the red dot that adorned Rick’s forehead, and for a moment, she didn’t register its meaning. In an instant, realization tore through her and with everything she had she tackled Rick to the ground. At the same moment she screamed, “Everyone Down!”

Everyone dove for cover as bullets began to fly and the loft exploded in gunfire.


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