Stained-Glass Windows

Healing


May 1st, 2012-New York City

Beati Pacifici Inc.

9:27 A.M

Mason Harrison stood in his office with his personal secretary Jordan Cambell, “Sir, I think we should wait.”

“This should be good, Jordan.”

“Have you seen the news this morning? The attempt was all over the television last night. It doesn’t help that Richard Castle is a famous writer.”

“We sent Ben after Beckett at Roy’s funeral, do you think I fear the press?”

“That was different, Sir. She hasn’t written 20 best-selling novels.”

Mike Tucker chose that moment to walk into the office, “I agree with Jordan.”

“Mike? Really?”

“Is that any way to say hello, old friend?”

“Good morning, Mike.”

“There you go. See, was that so hard?”

“Harder than you think.”

“Hello, Jordan.”

“Good morning, Sir.”

“No, no you call that idiot Sir. My name is Mike.”

They all smiled as they stood around Mason’s desk, “Mike, then.”

“Jordan is right, Mason. Don’t be stupid. The wolves are circling, just angling for a story and you are a high powered CEO for a corporation that made 1.6 billion dollars last quarter.”

“They know…”

“They don’t know a damn thing. All the files were destroyed when John died. They have nothing and they won’t. It was stupid to attack the author, don’t make it worse by throwing chum to the sharks. We live in a world where making money means you are evil, right or wrong.”

“So back off and control the narrative?”

“Consider it a strategic retreat.”

“Alright…we give them a respite but I want our sources in the NYPD working overtime. Jordan, stay on top of it and if they get a whiff?”

“You will be the first to know, Sir.”

“Good.”

May 1st, 2012-New York City

Good Samaritan Trauma Center

7:57 A.M

Castle poked his head into Alexis’ room, “Pumpkin, are you awake?”

“Yeah dad, that’s what having my eyes open means.”

Castle forced a smile while standing at the door, “Good to see you can still make fun of me.”

Alexis saw the façade, “Oh dad, you don’t think I could ever stop doing that do you?”

“Hey, I do provide quite the target.”

They paused at his poor choice of words, “Get in here, father.”

Slowly, Castle entered the room and sat down next to his daughter’s bed. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, “Good morning, how was your night?”

Alexis waved Kate into the room, “It was alright. Detective Beckett, the more the merrier.”

Kate stood at the door prepared to give father and daughter a moment, and she was shocked when Alexis beckoned to her. “Hey Alexis, how are you feeling.”

“Actually, pretty good. I thought I would be flush or my chest would hurt but they don’t. This bee-sting on my shoulder doesn’t even hurt. I really want to go home, dad.”

“And so you will. I’ll have the loft ready by the time you get home, sweetheart.”

Alexis and Kate nearly said it at the same time, “How’s that?”

“I have a guy. He owns a cleaning company that is going to come in and clean the entire place, replace broken glass, and…”

When her father paused, Alexis knew why, “It’s alright, dad. You can say it. I did sort of make a mess on the carpet upstairs.”

Castle visibly swallowed and choked up just a little. Kate stepped in, “So…Alexis…did you sleep through the night? When did you wake up?”

“Not more than 5 minutes ago. It’s alright guys, I understand why you had to leave.”

Castle allowed his guilt to surface slightly, “I should have stayed.”

“Dad…you wouldn’t have been any good here driving the nurses crazy. That’s all I need are more people coming after me.”

“Well, were going to work on that, pumpkin.”

“Hey dad, not to cut this short because I know you will be in here all day, but can I speak with Detective Beckett for a second?”

“Um…well, sure if that’s fine with Kate?”

“Uh, yeah of course.”

“Alright, I’ll be right outside the door. If you need anything…”

“Dad, go get yourself and Detective Beckett a cup of coffee. We won’t be long, I promise. Then you can cry with me while I think of how much therapy I am going to need.”

Castle almost smiled, “Sure thing, sweetheart.”

Castle leaned down and kissed his daughter on her cheek. It spoke of his reverence, his love, and his grief. Alexis knew her father and she knew that he blamed himself for everything, though he did seem to carry less weight than she witnessed yesterday. Kate must have done that.

That was something Alexis had planned to spend the day correcting, this wasn’t his fault and she loved him unconditionally. Before she left this hospital, Alexis had made a promise to herself that he would understand that, “And dad?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you so much.”

Castle’s face lit up in the smile he deserved, “I love you too, Pumpkin.”

A few moments later…

“Alexis…”

“I saw what you did last night, Detective.”

“What I did?”

“You kept my dad from jumping into the gunfire and then you ran through them to get to me.”

Kate decided to take the chair beside Alexis’ bed, “You really don’t like small talk do you?”

“I’m not like my dad in that respect. Or you for that matter. I like to get right to the point. Saves time.”

Kate smiled, “Point taken.”

Alexis understood that the jokes she made were products of a defense she had constructed as she fought to find solid ground. In her mind, she had reacted terribly to the shooting, and if she were being honest, she was ashamed that she allowed the situation to overpower her. During the night, Alexis made a decision. She would try to correct her mistake. She would force the empathy and love she felt to overwhelm the fear and shame. She failed last night. She would not fail again.

“If there were ever masters of delayed gratification…”

“Alexis!”

“What? Just pointing out facts, Detective.”

“Lanie would be ever so proud.”

“I bet.”

“Listen Alexis…”

“Thank you.”

“Thank you?”

“Thank you for saving me. Thank you for saving my dad. Thank you for…for…everything.”

“I was actually thinking I should apologize to you.”

“You put your body between me and the bullets. You saved my dad. I’d say we are more than even.”

“I’ll take it.”

“Good. Now it’s my turn to apologize.”

“For?”

“Reacting the way I did…”

Kate reached for and took Alexis’ hand, “Alexis, don’t. Alright? We all react to situations like that in different ways.”

“Yeah but you were so calm and level-headed.”

“On the outside, maybe. I was just as scared as you, trust me.”

“You didn’t show it.”

“I have years of training that created that mask. You know, the first time I drew my gun my hands shook for hours after it was over.”

“Still, you know you would like to think that when you are in a situation like that you could react like the hero you’ve always wanted to be.”

“I think being a hero means living Alexis. I really do. My one great failure…”

She looked at Alexis to make sure she caught the meaning, “Is that I have allowed myself to become defined by the tragedies in my life. Don’t make my mistakes.”

Alexis couldn’t help but smile, “Ill work on that Detective.”

“Please, call me Kate. I thought we went over this at dinner?”

“We did, still feels weird though.”

“Well, when you are ready.”

“Oh, there is one other thing I need to tell you.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Hurt him, I’ll hurt you.”

Kate smirked, “Simple as that?”

“Simple as that.”

“I think I got off easy!”

“Don’t let the red hair and the girlish screams fool you, Kate. I can be ferocious.”

“Oh please, your dad’s girlish screams are so much more girly. But I don’t doubt it for a second, Alexis.”

“Thank you again, Kate.”

Where it came from Kate would never be able to say but it just seemed appropriate to lean over and kiss Alexis on the forehead, “Anytime, Alexis. Now, let’s get your dad back in here.”

“Ten bucks says he is leaning against the wall outside.”

“Twenty says he has his ear to the door.” Just then, Kate pushed on the door lightly and heard the girlish scream she wanted to hear.

Kate winked at Alexis, “I win!”

May 1st, 2012-New York City

Good Samaritan Trauma Center

7:57 A.M

Lanie was seated next to Javier Esposito’s hospital bed, “Javi? Are you up?”

“Give me a minute. Maybe rub my…”

“Javier Esposito!”

“Wow that hurts. Don’t yell chica, my head is still pounding.”

“Well, it should be. You and that damn hard head. Making jokes, I oughta smack you.”

“That’s kind of what I was joking about.” When she didn’t meet his smile, Javi sighed, “What am I supposed to do?”

“Maybe…for once…take this seriously?”

Javier took Lanie’s hand, “I am taking this seriously, Lanie. I promise.”

“That’s all I ask.” Lanie paused for just a second, “So how are you feeling Javi?”

“Well, better now that you are here.” Lanie’s look said all it needed, “My head still hurts a little but my ribs are…painful. Every damn breath…”

“I know Javi but it will get better. We can keep the icepacks on you and get you the really good pain medication.”

“I need to help with the investigation Lanie, I can’t be high all the time.”

“They can deal for a few days without you. And you can lay there and listen to me or I will make you.”

Javier laughed, “Oh God, don’t make me laugh.”

“It wasn’t even a joke!”

“No but it’s always funny when you boss me around.”

“Javi…”

“Alright, alright. Ice packs and pain meds. Got it, Chica.”

“You know what else this means Javi?”

“What’s that?”

“It means you don’t have to help me plan the wedding for a while.”

“Please, that’s more for you than me.”

“Well…sure…”

“Lanie, the word bridezilla has been uttered more than once.”

Lanie nearly blanched, “Who said that? If it was Kate, she is so dead!”

Esposito laughed loudly, “I will not be party to murder.”

“Yeah, you would never catch me though.”

“I thought I already did catch you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“So when can I get out of here so we can play doctor?”

“You’re just lucky you have a hard head. There will be no playing doctor for a little while. Your ribs would yell at you.”

“You know you can’t keep your hands off me.”

“Damn straight. But first, we need to talk.”

“About?”

“Why you wouldn’t talk to me on the phone last night.”

“Lanie…”

“Don’t you lie to me Javier Esposito.”

“I wasn’t going to lie to you. I just…” Esposito sighed.

“Javi, you don’t need to protect me. I’m a big girl and you aren’t invincible.”

“Figures you would already understand.”

“Javi, I know you. I’m going to marry you. Of course I understand.”

“You know I respect you.”

“Do you?”

“Of course I do!” Esposito winced from yelling.

Lanie squeezed his hand and whispered, “See, that’s what you get for yelling at your fiancé.”

“I’m sorry for yelling at you, but I do respect you.”

“Then why don’t you trust me enough not to ruin dinners or not freak out when you get hurt?”

“Lanie…”

“No, I understand. I do. In spite of that, I’m still going to say those words to you September 24th, but you have to trust me baby. If we are going to do this together, then we have to do this together. You don’t get to hide behind that machismo that you think oozes out of you, especially when the only thing oozing out of you is your own blood.”

“I was just worried about you.”

“I know. But sometimes I get to worry about you.”

“I can live with that.”

“Good. Because I would kill you if you couldn’t!”

May 1st, 2012-New York City

Good Samaritan Trauma Center

9:42 A.M

Lanie made her way into the waiting room for a moment and saw Kate sitting in a chair in the corner, “Hey girl, fancy meeting you here.”

“Hey, Lanie. How’s Javi?”

“Stupid. Being a man.”

Kate leaned back in her chair and smiled, “So…he is just fine?”

Lanie smiled and sat down next to Kate with her matching cup, “Yeah. He is going to be in pain for a few days but he will be just fine.”

“How are you Lanie?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t think I didn’t see that massive bruise on your wrist. I know you are trying to hide it, which only means that it seriously hurts.”

“I just…how…how did you know?”

“I know you and Castle was preoccupied.”

“Can’t blame him.”

“Can’t blame yourself either.”

“Figures you would already understand.”

Lanie looked at Kate with the shock apparent on her face, “Did you and Javi practice that?”

“Again, huh?”

“He just said the exact same thing.”

“Oh God, we really have to work on our banter Lane.”

“You can say that again.”

She thought about it for just a second, “We really have to work on our banter Lane.”

Lanie turned and smirked at Kate, “You have been spending far too much time with writer-boy.”

“Yes, yes I have.”

“You know, I love that he puts that smile on your face. It’s good to see you smile like that.”

“He makes me happy Lane.”

“And that’s all I will ever ask. Do I have to go through the whole kill him/hide the body trope if he hurts you?”

“No, I think Espo and Ryan have that covered.”

“So, about your wrist.”

“Oh, I just sprained it when I tackled Rick to the ground at the loft. I am fine Lanie.”

Lanie grabbed her wrist and saw the wince Kate couldn’t hide, “Uh huh. I can tell. We need to get you looked at Kate.”

“Maybe later.”

“Later better not mean never. Here let me see…”

“Lanie…just…”

“Shut-up Kate and give me your arm.”

Kate relented almost immediately, “Fine.”

Kate thrust her left arm towards Lanie who began to look at Kate’s bruised wrist, “Well, I don’t think it’s broken so that’s something. Ice it down for me please.”

“Thanks Lanie.”

“No problem, girlfriend. So how did it happen?”

“I told you, I sprained it…”

“Not that Ms. Passive Aggressive, you and Castle.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

“Hey, I’m not going anywhere.”

For a moment, Kate debated telling her friend, the scientist, about how their relationship had begun, but instead of hiding like she normally might, she determined to make the effort. She wasn’t going to be good at this right away, her wrist was evidence of that, but she could be better. She wanted to be better.

Thus, Kate told Lanie everything. How she had that visit from her mom, how they had kept secrets from each other, how she had determined to put her mother’s case away only to have it crash down around her, how they had visited her mom in the cemetery and how they were sleeping together, and when she was finished, she felt a weight lifted. Huh, that wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be.

“Wow, so you have had quite a few days.”

“No kidding.”

“So do you think it was really your mom that visited you?”

Kate turned to Lanie and sighed, “I have no idea. I…I want to believe. Is that the same thing?”

“I think it is if you want it to be.”

“I can handle that.”

“So I assume you and Alexis have made up?”

“Yeah, I was going to apologize to her but she let me off the hook. It was amazing Lanie, sometimes it seems like she is where I want to be. And she’s only a teenager!”

“Give her a few more years with Castle. That should sufficiently traumatize her.”

Kate laughed, “I hope not.”

“This is a new side to you that I really like.”

“It’s not really a new side Lanie, it’s just…I don’t want to be stunted or broken anymore. I’ve been working so hard on everything, on the PTSD, on my therapy, on being a better person, and it’s become clear that this is what I have to do. I am going to face this down, just like I am going to face down Mason Harrison.”

Lanie was near tears and reached out to take Kate’s hand, “I’ve wanted that for you since the moment we met. I am so proud of you baby.”

Kate looked her best friend and saw the pride, “Lanie…don’t make me cry.”

“Shut-up Kate. There is nothing wrong with crying.”

“I think I am starting to realize that.”

Lanie sniffled, “Our little girl is growing up!”

Kate couldn’t hide her snicker but she tried to force it behind a sneer, “If only you would start.”

“Speaking of growing up, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

Kate knew what this was and had been expecting it, “About?”

“I uh…you…”

Kate picked her feet off the ground and held them to her chest, “What are you doing Kate?”

“I thought maybe hell was about to freeze over and I didn’t want my feet to get cold.”

“Funny. Ha, ha. Do you want me to continue or not?”

Kate laughed once more, “Oh, please do.”

“When this is over I’m gonna smack you too.”

“You would never do it. You love me too much.”

“Love is a strange thing, Katie-bug.”

Kate nearly scowled at Lanie, “I told you never to call me that again!”

“Uh huh, keep making your jokes. I know your secrets and the embarrassing ones are the best.”

“You wouldn’t!”

“Try me!”

“Payback would be a bitch. Kinda like you actually!”

“Cursing Kate? Really? Don’t you think that’s a little beneath us? Besides, if anyone is the bitch, it’s you.”

Kate stuck out her tongue at Lanie, “I’m rubber and your glue.”

Lanie smirked at her, “Do you want me to ask you this or not?”

“Of course I do, Lanie.”

“Can we go get a drink tonight?”

That was certainly not what she thought Lanie would ask, “Uh…I mean…”

Lanie busted out laughing, “God, you are so easy.”

“Don’t tell Castle…”

Their combined laughter filled the waiting room, and when they were finished Lanie finally asked her real question, “Would you be my Maid of Honor?”

Kate paused and smiled, “On one condition.”

“Really? There are conditions?”

“Forgive me. Forgive me for this summer?”

Lanie took Kate’s face in her hand, “You were forgiven a long time ago.”

Then Kate did something she had hardly ever done, she pulled her friend into a giant hug, “I would be honored to be your Maid of Honor.”

They pulled apart and had to fight back more tears, “It’s a good thing you didn’t say anything about making yourself cry.”

May 1st, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

9:12 P.M

Javier and Alexis had both been released from the hospital around 4 that day, and as promised, the entire gang returned to a loft returned to nearly pristine condition. All traces of the terror that invaded this place the night before were gone. The cleaning crew had done an outstanding job in repairing the windows that had been shattered and replacing some of the heirlooms that had been destroyed. There was no trace of blood on the second floor, either. The metaphor was powerful.

Kate couldn’t imagine how much this kind of service had cost, probably a month’s salary, but it didn’t phase her one bit. Who cared if he had more money than she had ever seen or even if people thought she was only with him for it? The most important people in their lives knew the truth. She knew the truth. Besides, his money was just an excuse for her to run from this. From what they were building. She was not about to do that ever again.

Jim Beckett and Jenny Ryan had joined the group at dinner, and to everyone’s astonishment, Captain Gates accepted Castle’s offer to join them that night. The dinner that night showed just how this family was going to heal and come together in joint cause. They laughed, they cried, and they reveled in each other. It was sorely needed and didn’t disappoint. Around 7:30 that night, Captain Gates excused herself to be with her family, and without hesitation, Castle rose from his seat and gave the Captain a hug. Those expecting fireworks were disappointed as “Iron Gates” simply smiled. It was a moment that spoke to just how far they had come in the last few days. That smile was a plea for forgiveness and an acceptance a year in the making. Soon after, Martha and Alexis retired to their respective rooms and Jim excused himself for the night, leaving Kate, Lanie, Castle, Javier, Ryan and Jenny.

Esposito spoke up while looking at the murder board that had miraculously not been hit, “Hey Beckett, why don’t we have these electronic murder boards in the department yet?”

“Would you rather be paid or have cool equipment, Espo?”

Esposito smiled, “Isn’t there anyway I could have both?”

He sat down very gingerly in his seat next to Lanie at the table and marveled at the picture before him. The pain pill he took less than five minutes before would kick in soon, but before he was forced to leave his family, he wanted to soak them in as much as he could. They were all paired off: Ryan and Jenny, Lanie and Esposito, and Kate and Rick. That last one was still taking some getting used to, but he couldn’t remember a time, even under these circumstances, when he saw her happier. They sat next to each other holding hands and smiling randomly and each other. It was amazing.

Ryan jumped in, “I still think we should have more photo-shoots at the office.”

“What, so you can ogle some model? I think not Kevin Ryan!”

Esposito tried to hold back his laugh because it still hurt, “Dude, you are so whipped.”

Jenny exclaimed, “Damn right!”

Both Castle and Kate laughed at Jenny’s exuberance, “If anyone would know what it is like to be whipped, it is certainly you Esposito.”

Kate turned to Castle, “And you aren’t whipped?”

“I hope you are talking about bondage, Kate.”

“In your dreams, Rick.”

“Hey, I seem to recall a certain case…”

“Yeah and I still have the ball-gag. Careful writer boy.”

Lanie just shook her head, “There they go again, off in their own world.”

Castle and Kate mutually paused their conversation, “Hey, we don’t do that!”

Everyone at the table exploded in laughter as they both said the same thing at the same time. Kate turned a lovely shade of red and Castle just smirked while looking at her.

Lanie turned to Kevin when the laughter had subsided, “They are one thing. You’ve just been whipped longer, Kevin. We understand. You’ve done an amazing job Jenny!”

Jenny could not contain her glee, “Oh thank you! You have too!”

Javier cut in, “Hey, I think we need a new subject to talk about.”

“Aww poor babies.”

Ryan wondered, “Well, should we work the case?”

Kate immediately made clear what she had been thinking all night, “Not tonight. Gates already interrogated the suspect, and as expected, he didn’t talk. We need a plan but not tonight. Let’s just enjoy.”

The room sat in stunned silence, “What? I can be off-duty!”

“We know you can, sweetie. It’s just not expected.”

Esposito couldn’t help himself, “Yeah, I half expected to see a pig flying by the window.”

“Hey, do you want to work traffic Espo?”

“Gates wouldn’t let you do that, Kate.”

“Maybe not but I can make you do all the canvassing by yourself for the next few cases!”

“You are a benevolent boss who I am proud to work for.”

“Uh huh, nice try, Espo.”

“Wasn’t really joking actually.”

Javier and Kate shared a look and both smiled at the implication. This family would be fine. At least for tonight. Her brothers, her sisters and her boyfriend would heal together.

That’s when something occurred to Kate. Fourteen years ago, she had lost half of her family. Since then, she had gained the one sitting at the table in Richard Castle’s loft, the one upstairs in their bedrooms, and even the one who had left to see her family that night. They were truly a family of brothers and sisters, of lovers and friends, and their value was limitless. She had always believed that these people were indispensible, that Ryan and Esposito were brothers whom she could never lose, that Lanie was a sister that would never judge her, and that Castle was simply someone she could not live without. Yet sitting there in the dark ambiance of the softly lit room, Kate realized that if her mother had not been murdered then she would never know the comfort and the strength of the people she loved in this room. For as much as she had lost over the years, she had gained so much as well.

Well damn.

Castle leaned over and whispered in her ear, “You alright?”

She didn’t realize that she had drifted off into her own world until Castle spoke, but when she registered the quiet that enveloped the room, she felt the overwhelming need to tell them just what they meant to her.

Kate looked at the members of her family, “Yeah, I’m fine. I just…I’m just beginning to realize how lucky I am to have you all in my life.”

For the first time in 14 years, Kate beamed at the people she shared this table with because she was with family. Conversation continued into the night, they played poker together, they laughed, they shared, but most importantly, they took comfort and pleasure in each other.


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