Stained-Glass Windows

The Fall of Katherine Beckett


“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”--Anonymous

If you allow them, the worst moments of your life will rise up and define you. It’s something Kate Beckett knew intimately, and yet, as she tried to find meaning in something other than pain, her quest seemed quixotic as her own world crashed down around her. She was the Man of La Mancha and Castle was her Sancho Panza. As always, we don’t come to these moments lightly, the moments that threaten to destroy our very nature are products of our actions and our choices.

It is the greatest human frailty that brings about heart-breaking choices. When we choose our own pride and malevolence we allow that frailty to dominate. We are the makers of our own fate, as inconsistent as that may be. Ultimately though, if we create our own fate and are masters of our own choices, then the very nature of humanity demands that we yearn for something better. An optimism born of the true nature of mankind.

Though there will always be evil in the world, what we forget sometimes is the ever present light that forces the darkness to recede. When our world explodes in a cacophony of fire and turmoil, our choice is never simple and our reaction is never beyond our control. It is a gift and a curse. It is in that responsibility that some fail, that some cannot see past their own ego, but when someone rises to meet that challenge, their story becomes worthy of song and their tale shows us the way. It is in our darkest hour that we must find our brightest light.

May 4th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

8:47 A.M.

Detective Jason Stone, Officer Brenda Hines, Officer Karen Dost, Councilmen Jensen Scott, Councilmen Angela Luckey, and personal assistant Terry Buchmeyer. Those were the people who were taking money from Mason Harrison and who kept him in the loop concerning politics and the actions of the NYPD. After discretely running their financials, they saw the evidence as plain as the paper in front of them. As it turns out, $50,000 a year was all it took for these people to sell their souls. Since that late Wednesday night, the gang had formulated a plan to take them all at once. Using the warrants secretly served by ADA Jason Cruz, they would divide themselves into three different teams and take each informant into custody all across the city at the same time. It was an intricate operation meant to maintain control over the situation and the informants so that they could not report back to Mason Harrison. Really though, it was meant to be seen as a bold strike against Beati Pacifici, they would strike back in a swift move that would hopefully buy them some time to continue to put together their case.

In that vein, they also decided to take them on Friday so they could take the weekend and finish putting together the press conference they would call for Monday afternoon. All of it was meant to give them the time they would need to put together this massive case, and to plan an assault on Mason Harrison himself. They would take away his foot soldiers first, both with the take-down on Friday and the assault itself, and then they would take his money by using the bank account numbers they received from Ben Jenkins. Once they did that, Mason Harrison would face the justice he deserved.

As Esposito and Ryan walked into the loft Friday morning, they were met with a very snuggly Beckett and Castle, perched on the couch, “Are we ready to go?”

Kate looked up from her spot next to Castle and smiled, both getting up and walking with their partners to the electronic murder board, “Seems like it. We have all 6 informants and their locations.”

Gates was already looking at the murder board and trying not to lose her temper at the couple who joined her side, “I’ve made sure Detective Stone won’t be called out on a body and the other two officers have been assigned to the precinct today. I must take my leave, I have approved all of your vacations, but I cannot be absent. Unlike certain writers, I actually work for a living.”

Castle smiled at the dig but didn’t take the bait, “The Mayor assured me that his meeting with our city-council people was a go for 10:45. Both of our targets will be there.”

Ryan wondered allowed, “What about The Commissioners’ assistant?”

Captain Gates turned to answer his question, “He will be in the same office he’s always in, Detective Ryan.”

Kate was in cop mode now, “Alright, we take them down at 11:00. Castle and I are team 1, Esposito and Ryan and team 2, and Captain Gates is team 3.”

Castle’s concern was evident, “Are you certain you don’t want someone to back you up, Sir?”

“Terry Buchmeyer is an assistant in the Commissioners’ office. Mine will be easy, Mr. Castle. Besides, I will need to explain to the Commissioner why we are arresting one of his assistants and why he didn’t know in advance.”

Esposito took a sip of his coffee and mumbled, “Good luck with that.”

Captain Gates turned to Beckett, “Go easy in the 12th, Kate. Remember the blue shield. It is something I am well acquainted with.”

“Castle and I have this. We’ll use his natural charm.”

“Hey, don’t knock my charm, it won you didn’t it?”

“Yeah, I must have been crazy.”

“I get no respect.”

“With banter like that, what do you expect?”

“Alright children I’ve already been forced to stand here while you sat together and made goo-goo eyes at each other; before I lose my breakfast, I wish you all good luck.”

Esposito and Ryan shared a look that wondered, did she really just say goo-goo? Castle and Beckett looked appropriately affronted at their ever surprising captain.

Esposito turned to an almost fleeing Captain Gates, “See you at 11:30, Sir?”

“11:30, 3rd floor holding.”

Castle could hardly contain his glee, “Alright, Operation Righteous Justice is in effect!”

All of the detectives looked at Castle but it was Kate who spoke, “Really, Castle?”

“Hey, that name is awesome!”

May 5th, 2012-New York City

Mason Harrison’s Office

12:52 P.M.

“I thought I told you to keep me informed, Jordan!”

“Sir, they hid it so well, I don’t know how they did it! None of the informants saw them coming!”

“They have all of them?”

“All but one of them.”

“How? How did they know all of this?”

“We think Ben told them.”

“He is former Delta, Jordan, he didn’t talk. Which means they must have Montgomery’s files and they have been using them.”

“If they do, then they know everything, Sir.”

Mason could not contain his anger and his rage, “You think?”

“Sir…I’m sorry…”

Mason stalked towards Jordan, his rage was palpable, and she never saw the hand that rose to strike her across the face. She was thrown back into the wall in shock, and before she knew it, Mason Harrison’s fist found its mark on the right side of Jordan Cambell’s face.

“You should be sorry! I could have ordered them killed days ago, and now, they have enough information to come after me!”

Jordan fell to the ground and allowed the blood from her busted lip to fall to the ground, “Sir, I’m sorry…I really tried to stay informed but they…they…until yesterday were working silently behind…behind the scenes!”

She was hysterical as the crazed man who loomed above her threw another punch that landed with sickening force across her nose, breaking it instantly. “Obviously, you didn’t do a good enough job!”

“Sir, please!” She screamed as she spat the blood that accumulated in her mouth onto the floor.

Mason Harrison looked at the woman who now lay on the ground in her own blood and was disgusted. He always knew Jordan was weak but this was something entirely different. Now, she was pathetic.

“Get yourself cleaned up, Jordan. Order the hit. And don’t even think of failing me again.”

He said it calmly and walked back to his desk. “And make sure to get my carpet cleaned. You seem to have made a mess.”

May 7th, 2012-New York City

Front Steps, 12th Precinct

3:32 P.M.

Kate was lost as the aftermath of the bombing was coming into sharper focus and Captain Gates recognized it immediately, “Detective Beckett, are alright?”

“…Yeah…yeah I’m good. Is everyone else alright? Castle?”

“I’m alright, Kate.” Castle said as he stood just behind the captain.

“Alright, Detective Ryan and I will take a few officers into the building to look for survivors and get people out, you run things from here and call it in. I want a full tactical alert for all precincts. Am I clear?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Detective Ryan, let’s go.”

Kate turned to the six officers who looked at her expectantly, “Alright, listen up! You three, secure the scene. I want the roads closed north and south of the precinct, only emergency vehicles. Set-up road blocks on every side street as well. You three, begin to triage the wounded and help EMS when they arrive. Go!”

Kate turned to Castle who placed his hand in hers giving her the strength she needed to do her job as she pulled her walkie-talkie from her belt, “Dispatch, 1-Lincoln-40, we have a possible terror attack at the 12th precinct. We need ambulance, fire and back-up immediately. I also need a tactical alert for all precincts in New York City, and send out the call.”

“Stand-bye 1-Lincoln-40.” A few moments passed before dispatch came back, “All precincts have been notified 1-Lincoln-40. EMS and back-up en route. ETA, 4 minutes.”

“Roger that.”

“1-Lincoln-40, officers from the 15th and 20th precincts are en route as well to lend assistance. ETA, 10 minutes. Stand-bye.”

“Roger that dispatch. Help is appreciated.”

Rick saw it almost immediately, “Kate!”

She turned to look at him, “Castle?”

He pointed to a place near the podium, “Over there!”

They raced over together, “Of…Officer Stegner?”

When Beckett looked down upon the prone form of Officer Stegner, her breath caught in her throat. A metal bar, maybe a foot and half in length, impaled the frightened officer’s stomach, “Hey…Detective.”

Tears stung her eyes as Castle reached for Stegner’s other hand, “Hey. Hang on, alright. EMS is on…on…the way. Just hang on, alright?”

Stegner reached out and took Kate’s hand as she kneeled down, “I…I’ll try Detective.”

Kate could hold back her tears no longer, “No, you will hold on. That is an order officer, do you understand me?”

Stegner smiled, “Yes…yes m’am.”

Castle shouted as he heard the first of many ambulances approach, “I need a doctor here, now!”

When the paramedics reached them, Kate let go of Officer Stegner’s hand and instantly felt nauseous. She fought it down as best she could but those feelings only intensified as the moments, which seemed like hours now, only served to pull her further into the abyss. All she could think was, not now. My symptoms have been fairly dormant the past few months, please not now. Please. They need me. Everyone needs me. Please, please not now.

The death and destruction before her was truly an abyss and she stared directly into it without abandon, hoping that she could hold it together long enough for the people who needed her. What she didn’t understand was that she was quickly being swallowed whole.

May 7th, 2012-New York City

3rd Floor, 12th Precinct

9:02 P.M.

Eight police officers dead, including Officer Stegner, fourteen suspects in holding including every informant they had arrested in connection with Mason Harrison, two innocent victims in the street who had succumbed to falling debris, and nearly 100 injured, both in the precinct and on the ground. The New York Police Department had not suffered such injury since September 11, 2001…

“We missed something.”

Castle looked over at Kate, “This was a targeted bombing meant to get rid of the people we arrested. How did they know where we were keeping them?”

Esposito replied tersely, “We must have missed an informant.”

As they all stood in the remnants of the third floor of the 12th precinct, Kate’s temper and guilt were on high alert, “You’re damn right we did. All that posturing, all that planning and we couldn’t find them all.”

Castle looked worriedly at the woman he loved, “We got everyone on the list.”

Kate looked around the burned out and charred remnants of the one place she always felt safe, and as the water dripped from the destroyed remains of the 12th, she felt the anger rise with every drop of water that fell. “We obviously didn’t get them all. We fucking missed one!”

Castle tried to reach out to Kate, “Kate…”

But Kate would have none of it, “No, Castle. We screwed up. Don’t humor me. Esposito, Ryan I want you to run every cop in the 12th who knew we were keeping them here, every one of them, and I want that before morning.”

Kate snarled her next sentence, “Find the son-of-a-bitch who turned on us and do it now!”

Kevin was beyond shocked, “Whoa Beckett, every one of them? Are we sure that placing suspicion on good officers who aren’t on the payroll is the way to go?”

Kate barely heard him, “Do it! I don’t give a damn whether they are good or not.”

When she was finished she failed to notice the concerned looks of her friends and lover, she spun on her heal and walked purposefully from the crime scene, and Castle, Esposito and Ryan shared a knowing look.

Castle went after her and reached for her elbow, “Where are you going.”

Kate turned at his touch but forced her elbow from his grasp, “Somewhere you aren’t. I have a phone call to return.”

With that, her meaning was clear. Castle hoped that the Kate who walked out of that cemetery just days before would win out over the Kate who fell so hard before, and so he did not follow her. He decided to trust her. He hoped he wasn’t making the biggest mistake of his life.

May 7th, 2012-New York City

The Coffee Shop

9:47 P.M.

When she walked in to the coffee shop on 8th and Ave. of America’s, she was met with a store empty of customers or employees. Three armed men surrounded a seated and smiling Mason Harrison. The man closest to her walked forward and gave her a gesture that meant he was going to search her for weapons. Kate held out her arms and spread her legs, looking at Mason the entire time. He wasn’t what she expected. He appeared to be mid-50’s, graying hair, thin and fit, and he was impeccably dressed in a black suit with a dark blue Calvin Klein shirt.

When the man began to search her, he leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time.”

Her demeanor remained unchanged as he searched her, while it was clear that he was enjoying himself. He took his time, slowly patting down her legs and brushing her ass with his hands, and though she was disgusted, she fought to reign in her temper. When his hand got far too close to her left breast, she’d had enough. She grabbed his hand and twisted his wrist bringing the man to his knees. Without hesitation, Kate kneed the man in the face and saw the blood spring forth from the man’s obviously broken nose.

The other two men surged forward but were instantly held back by an amused Mason Harrison, “Let him be. He deserved it.”

The man collapsed to the floor holding his nose, “Please, Detective. Have a seat.”

Kate took her seat across from him and said nothing. She couldn’t. The rage was mounting inside her like a geyser waiting to spew forth, she felt like a hurricane churning and gaining strength in the warm waters of the southern Atlantic, and she searched desperately for dry land that might absorb some of the wild energy she could not control.

“I’m glad you decided to meet me.”

“Why?”

“First rule of war: know your enemy.”

“Are we at war, Mason?”

“It’s Mr. Harrison or Sir.”

“Only if I respect you.”

“Young lady we are not animals, have some respect for your elders.”

“Don’t patronize me, jackass.”

“Pity. I thought we could be civil.”

“You just blew up the 12th! You killed eight of my friends! Eight police officers whose families won’t have their father or their mother or their brother or their sister in their home tonight! I think civil was destroyed with that bomb.”

“I’d like to see you prove that.”

“Just give me time. I will make you pay for what you did today!”

“How predictably naïve, Detective. This world consists of shades that you cannot even fathom. In your world, what I do and what you believe I have done is easily placed in a box that justifies your existence. Your great failure is not a failure of the heart, it is a failure of the mind. You fail to properly understand the world.”

Kate sat back in her chair and crossed her arms, “And you do?”

“With age and perspective, comes wisdom. The world is a much scarier place than your blossoming optimism can fathom and I have seen the depths to which mankind can sink.”

“So your solution is to kill innocent people? How can that make sense?”

“How can it not? There are philosophy classes across the United States that ask the question, ‘what is moral’? They are a waste of time. Morality is easy; it’s a simple calculus that allows for the death of innocent people when they fall on the wrong side of an equation.”

Kate leaned forward, placing her arms on the table, “People aren’t variables in an equation! Just go ask the families of the officers you killed today whether they are just numbers in some warped equation!”

Mason matched her, “And what about all of those families that I save because I stay in business? What about all those people, the innumerable number of Africans, Arabs, and Asians that are free and alive because there are men in this world who are willing to stand in front of tanks and do battle with the worst mankind can offer? If I have to kill thirty to save thirty-thousand, then shouldn’t that be an easy decision?”

“Why don’t we put that theory to the test?”

In an instant, Kate flew across the table and grabbed Mason Harrison by his silver hair. She slammed his head into the table and released the locking mechanism on the gun she hid on her arm, the same one Roy used to kill Hal Lockwood. She held the gun to Mason’s head and turned to his guards, “Stay where you are! Slowly, place your guns on the ground.”

Mason spoke softly, “Do what she says. She won’t shoot me.”

The guards complied with Kate’s demands and she turned her attention to the man whose head she held menacingly against the table. “By your own calculus, if I kill you I am justified aren’t I? How many more people have to die to make this right, Mason? Huh? How many more people have to die before this moral calculus you spew spits out a justification for your death!”

“None. And yet, you still won’t do it. You are weak, Detective. You are bound by the rules of your job and by the rules of society, unable to make decisions that the people themselves can’t. They need you to make those decisions detective, they need you to tell them what is right, and yet, you allow them to make their own decisions. That’s why your mother is dead, and that’s why I am going to win.”

Kate was unbelievably enraged. He was right. If she did this, she could end it right here and no one would blame her. Nobody else had to die. Just do it. Just do it, Kate. Pull the trigger and make the world a better place.

Just do it!

Do it!

DO IT!

The voices in her head screamed at her to pull the trigger but she paused.

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

The seconds that passed as she breathed heavily seemed like an eternity. The war raged inside her, as the words of her mother and Castle came back to her. Esposito and Ryan weren’t there to pull her off the suspect, she had walked into hell without her friends, and thus, her decision was her own.

“But the thing about death is that it teaches an important lesson about life. The lesson is quite simple: it is meant to show us why the journey matters so much more than the destination.”

“You are the best detective in the NYPD, you do bring closure to those who need it most, but more than that, you bring justice to a world of injustice. More importantly, you demand better from those around you. You saved your dad from the bottle and I could not be more grateful. Your forgiveness forces those you love to seek redemption and provides others the purpose they seek.”

“I love you, Kate. When this is over, when the man who ordered your mother’s death is behind bars, I want you to be whole.”

She might end this if she pulled that trigger, she might be able to claim insanity, but none of those defenses would quell her own regret. No, Kate. No. She could never be whole if she pulled that trigger, she had promised to be whole for Castle, she said ‘always’, and as the words washed over her like a cleansing flood, she was overcome with the enormity of the situation. Don’t pull that trigger, Kate.

What had she done? She knew she could not pull that trigger, she knew that if she did, no matter the consequences, she would never be whole. She would take the life of an unarmed man in cold blood, and that thought made her sick. Slowly, it brought her back to herself. Her hands began to shake, her body felt weak and threatened to collapse, and so, she pulled back slightly. She pointed her gun at the guards in the room and backed away from Mason Harrison, while slowly making her way to the door.

Mason’s head came off he table and he smiled at her just before she was gone, “I knew you wouldn’t do it. Your naive view of the world will be your downfall.”

Kate was shaken to her core but mustered one last reply, “Your arrogance will be yours.”

In the next moment, she was out the door, racing back to the loft to find herself once again.

May 7th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

10:29 P.M.

In the twenty minutes it took to get back to the loft, Kate reeled in her emotions as best she could. Her actions had shaken her from a rage that had literally engulfed her, when she had her gun to his head it was as if she was an ethereal being watching some other person she didn’t recognize, and thus, what she needed above all was something firm and unforgiving.

She could hardly control her breathing and her heart raced as she knocked on the door to the loft. When Rick opened the door, he was met with an anxious and clearly distressed Kate. She walked past him into the loft and was met with her family who looked away from the board that had become their home in the last few days. Esposito, Ryan, Lanie and Captain Gates saw all they needed to see.

“Kate…”

Kate looked at her steadily shaking hands and tried to breath evenly, “I nearly put a bullet through Mason Harrison’s head! He called right before the bomb…I…he…meet…”

When her chest started to tighten, she instinctively rubbed the scars of her chest and looked towards the ground unable to finish her thoughts. She hadn’t had a panic attack in two months, the product of therapy and a will that kept her focused on the road ahead, but the emergence of Mason Harrison, the bombing, the death she saw on the street in front of the 12th, and her recklessness threatened to bring her to her knees.

Castle was there instantly, wrapping his arms around her and whispering in her ear the words she needed to hear. He kept her upright while Lanie made sure she wouldn’t collapse. Her friends were there for her, wordlessly giving her the strength she needed to ride out the terror of the war drums that permeated her senses. No one questioned her, they didn’t judge her, they were simply there for her in any way she needed, and somehow that made it worse.

In the past week, she fought to be so much better, she allowed herself to revel in her family and had managed every day not to become obsessed with the case that drove her. Even months of therapy could not sway her from her fall, old habits and her PTSD became more powerful than her own want and desire, and it drove her to do something rash and stupid. Her actions were purely and simply a product of an agony and rage that she wanted so desperately to step past.

As her panic attack subsided, the gang decided to leave and come back in the morning. They would find out what exactly happened then, but for now, Kate needed space to breath and a loving hand on her back.

When her family was gone, Castle wordlessly took her hand and led her to his bedroom. He sat her down on the bed and knelt in front her, red and blood-shot eyes staring back at him. Quietly, he began to undress her. She didn’t protest this turn of events, though she wasn’t sure she could if she wanted too, and for the longest time, an act such as this would have terrified her.

He was slow and deliberate, he provided her with a pair of Alexis’ sweatpants and one of his shirts, and helped her to get into bed. He too stepped out of his clothes and into his boxers and a t-shirt. He slid into bed behind her and wrapped himself around her legs and body.

They said nothing for what seemed an eternity, though it was likely more in the neighborhood of twenty minutes, and she was enormously grateful. She wasn’t completely cured, their love wasn’t a magical elixir that erased old habits, but it was exactly the sword she needed to keep her demons at bay.

With Castle’s arms wrapped tightly around her, Kate felt safe for the first time in days, she was in a place where Mason Harrison and his corroded and antiquated views of morality couldn’t touch her, and if she was honest with herself, she finally understood that she had one final lesson to learn. She couldn’t lead her family to victory, she wasn’t a general with troops ready to go into battle, and she couldn’t be the glue that kept them together. She could simply be Kate. And that was good enough. Turns out, it always had been.

And that’s when she finally, finally after years and years of repressed emotion and grief, allowed everything to collide. She did it because she wasn’t afraid, and that’s the gift Castle willingly provided her. She turned in his arms and wrapped her hands in his shirt; she buried her face in his chest and sobbed as she never had before with his arms firmly entrenched around her.

They say the sun must set before it can rise, and whether she knew it or not, the sun had set in that coffee shop for Kate Beckett. Whispers of past heart break danced around her, guilt threatened to invade her very being, and yet, in this safe haven, nothing could compete with the love of the man wrapped around her. She gave him the strength to fight his obsession and the ensuing guilt, and in return, he provided a home for her to finally wage a battle fourteen years in the making.

What we truly must remember about life is that our best dreams are gifts meant to become our memories. And everything else is a windmill…


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