Stained-Glass Windows

Where Evil Lies


May 8th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

7:19 A.M.

Castle woke early the next morning to the sleeping form of Kate Beckett. He was torn between the feeling of insane happiness, which seemed either like an oxymoron or a painful truth, and a crushing dread that spoke to the events of the night before. He hadn’t seen it coming, he had been so preoccupied with the case, with his daughter’s healing, and with the protection of his family that he had let things slip. He didn’t see the coming storm, only the battle brewing. How utterly cliché.

With everything she had, she tried to be strong for her family, and in the process, had allowed that horrible parallel to her father’s decent to tint her own view of the world. It was proof that overcoming the psychological and emotional torments of a bleak past was a journey that Kate wasn’t ending. It was a path she was just beginning, and it made him even more determined to help and to be there for the woman he loved as she navigated this treacherous road she chose.

When he first realized he loved her, sitting in that break-room as they built theory about the escaped billionaire and the magician, he steeled himself to wait and to see that she was happy, whether that be with him or another. That’s how he knew this was different, that’s how he knew that two divorces and a litany of failed past relationships could hold nothing to the flame ignited that day. When he told her he loved her, it was the product of a desperate plea for the efficacy of his words to bring her back from the darkness so that she could live the life she deserved. It was a plea to whatever Gods might be listening to save the woman he loved, to bring her back to him and allow him the opportunity to show her that life meant more than a case or a fear of failure.

His secret and subsequent obsession nearly tore them apart, cruelly ripping his heart from hers and forcing him to view the world in its ghastliest and ugliest reality. A life without Kate Beckett, without the beauty that he swore he would see blossom, without a love that scorched his very soul, and when they had been sewn back together with a string of friendship and mutual respect, he finally realized where he stood. He stood on top of the mountain leaning this way and that, teetering on an edge of which he had no prior knowledge.

Now as he lay in bed, wrapped around the woman he loved, he allowed himself a moment to reflect on what had been and all that might be. He imagined the world of possibilities which stretched forth in front of him, of the battle’s they would fight together, and of the ensuing war that lie just above the horizon.

What he came to understand that early Tuesday morning lifted him to heights never before seen. As she lay beneath him, he understood that he no longer stood atop that mountain alone, he no longer feared falling because if he could no longer maintain his balance, she would be there to catch him. And he would do the same for her. He would never again fear the ground because the sky had opened itself to him.

They weren’t each other’s lives and they would never consume the other. What he held in his arms that morning was the woman who would enrich his life and force him to walk a path that spoke of something greater. He would bring her back from the abyss and force her to embrace the small whisper of whimsy and fun she lost 14 years ago, and in return, she would love him and show him a path out of the heartbreak and frustration of a life lived between words and fame.

The love they shared would be their instrument used to navigate lives for which both ached. When this was over, their love would be the string that sewed their lives back together. As she slowly stirred from a frigid night, he finally understood how they were the bed-rock of lives truly lived. They gave each other the greatest gift mankind had to offer, the promise of hope and the wonder of true and meaningful love.

“Kate?”

“Rick?”

“I’m here. Always will be.”

She snuggled back into him, her head buried deeper into the crevice of his right arm, and sighed as she felt the anxiety and fear of the previous day wash over and around her like a blanket that only held the promise of healing.

“I’m sorry…”

“Don’t. No need. Just know that I will always be here, when you need a place to stand.”

“A writer and his words…”

He ran his hands through her hair and softly skimmed her features with the knuckles of his hand, “A muse and her passion.”

“Passion can destroy.”

“Only if the passionate have no outlet, Kate.”

“Are you my outlet?”

“And you are mine. Equals, remember?”

“The same amount of black and white…”

“And the circle which always returns to the place it begins…”

“Harmony.”

“Love.”

“Forever.”

“Bathed in a single word…”

Kate looked up from her place on his arm and felt nothing but the cocoon of strength and warmth he created last night and this morning. She smiled a weak and shy smile, it spoke to the forgiveness and understanding he provided, and it buoyed her heart and her mind. She had fallen but he had caught her. As she had for him.

She whispered the next part, “Thank you. Thank you for being my outlet.”

“Always.”

As he kissed her, the passion and desire in the room pushed away all doubt and reservation, it strengthened her and provided him the relief and love he desired, and as they made love, he took his time, allowing his lips and his hands to stay her to this world. As she came apart once again, pleasurably aware of the parallel, she allowed his taste and feel to transport her from the agony of a day she would just as soon forget to a morning she would always remember.

45 minutes and a few moans later…

Castle stood in the kitchen cooking breakfast while Kate showered in his en suite, “How is my incredibly talented and lovely progeny this early morning?”

Alexis entered the kitchen smiling, “Good, how is everyone after the bombing?”

“I think we are better. Getting better, anyway.”

“I’m so glad you are okay, Dad.”

Castle reached out and took his daughter’s hand, “Me too, pumpkin. Me too.”

“And Beckett?”

“Better. Maybe not good, but better.”

“I can’t imagine what this must be like for her.”

“Yeah, sometimes we forget the toll of war, when we see only the battles.”

“How very profound. Let me guess, Patterson?”

“My lovely daughter, the comedian. Would you like some sarcasm to go with that?”

“Nope, think I’ve had my fill. I will take some simple prodding with just a touch of wit and guile. I’ll understand if you have to send out for that, though.”

“I’ll try my best.”

“Try harder, dad.”

“My own daughter has turned on me? I am shocked, shocked I say!”

“You shouldn’t be! Now, where are my pancakes?”

“You know, just for that, I might not cook you breakfast.”

Martha didn’t so much enter the room as glide gracefully into it, “Oh please, Richard your threats are as empty as my bank account.”

“Always have to make with the grand entrance, mother?”

“All the world is a stage…and I need a drink!”

Alexis nearly choked on her orange juice, “I don’t think that’s the quote, Grams.”

“Everything deserves its own flare, my dear. Good morning, darling!”

“Yes well, hello mother.”

“So how is everyone?”

“I was just explaining that to Alexis, actually. For the most part, we are fine. We lost eight officers yesterday, and two are still in the hospital. Wait till the funerals are over. Then we will see.”

Alexis’ curiosity got the best of her, “Do they know how or why?”

“I think we know who and why, but how is still coming together. Esposito and Ryan are coming over this morning so we can discuss it.”

“And to talk about Beckett?”

“I still don’t know what happened last night. We haven’t talked about it yet.”

Alexis was puzzled and allowed her uncertainty to force it’s way forward, “Didn’t she spend the night?

“Yeah. We didn’t talk though.”

Martha was knowingly delighted, “Alexis, honey. I’d leave it there. Save some sanity and maybe a brain cell or two.”

Alexis screwed up her face, “Ew, gross dad.”

“Alright, why do you guys automatically assume that’s what happened? How do you know I wasn’t the perfect gentlemen?”

Martha couldn’t hold back her incredulity, “Because we have lived with you before?”

And neither could Alexis, though hers was served with a side of mischief, “And we know how much you love her?”

“Funny. No, she just needed a safe haven last night, and I was happy to oblige.”

“I believe you dad.”

Martha didn’t buy her son’s answer of course, “I don’t. You two should have kissed long ago…”

Beckett agreed from the door frame, freshly showered, “I agree.”

“Kate! Come in, join us. We heard you had a hard night dear, are you alright?”

As Martha swept Kate into a hug, she was delighted with the atmosphere of the room, “I will be…thank you Martha. I appreciate it.”

“Well then sit down! Richard, fix another plate…”

“No, no Martha I was just going to grab something on the way to my apartment, before coming back. I didn’t want to interrupt your breakfast.”

“Non-sense. I will not take no for an answer. Now sit…”

Alexis rose from her bar stool and made her way towards Kate, enveloping her in a hug that revealed a silent admiration and forgiveness Kate wasn’t sure she had earned, “I’m glad you’re here, Kate.”

“Me too, Alexis. Thanks.”

Kate’s eyes were suspiciously blurry; this family, that in her estimation may have been better off without her appearance in their lives, held no grudge and accepted her without condition or want. As she joined this family at the bar in Rick’s kitchen, she felt the final few morsels of weight that rested on her shoulders being brushed aside. She felt the fractures of her wounded psyche being set and the wounds of a fourteen year old battle finally beginning to smooth over. They did that. They did it for her. And she could not be more grateful.

May 8th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

10:41 A.M.

He walked into the 12th precinct with a restrained sense of fear and dread. He never thought he would die this way, he didn’t want to die this way, but if it meant that his little girl got to live a full and happy life, then he would make the sacrifice. He worried what it made him that he was willing to take innocent lives to save his little girl, but existential questions were far down the list of his things to do today. Nothing mattered when it came to his little girl.

Esposito ran the case over in his mind before he told the group gathered before him what he had found, “His name was Jeffrey Horn.”

He made his way past the front desk with the pass provided him, he was nervous and sweaty, and he was afraid he would be confronted before he reached his objective. He walked slowly towards the elevator, careful to keep his eyes forward and as non-threatening as he could make them.

“At 42, he was single and recently divorced from his wife of 17 years, Lindsey Huntington.”

He reached the elevator and pushed the up button as officers shuffled by him and regarded him with nothing but a nod or a quick glance. He was halfway to fulfilling his mission, a mission he was forced to undertake, and yet, those existential questions came rushing back.

“In 2010, his twelve year old daughter was diagnosed with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a swift moving cancer that requires intense treatment. He was a lawyer for a small non-profit organization out of Hell’s Kitchen, and the money he made would not cover the expensive treatment his daughter needed. They caught the cancer early but the family did not have health insurance.”

How could he do this? How could he take the lives of innocent people, even if they threatened to kill his precious little girl? He stepped onto the elevator without thought or care as though he had no control over his own actions, and as the elevator ascended towards his target, he thought back to the time his little girl asked him why bad things happened to good people. He couldn’t answer that then and he couldn’t answer it now.

“After a few weeks of trying desperately to procure a loan from any bank, Mr. Horn’s daughter began to slide down a slope. They claimed it was a miracle when the money was donated in their name to the hospital. $450,000 paid for their daughter’s care. She now lives a full and healthy life in remission.”

He shook off the feelings of remorse. He made his way into the room with the holding cells but his thoughts quickly turned to Lindsey and the promise he made to his little girl. Remorse had nothing on the love of a father and a husband. He had promised to find her when this was over but it was a shallow promise that he knew he probably would be unable to keep. He had promised to make his way back to his little girl.

“They are off the grid, no cell, no credit cards, nothing. They are ghosts in the wind.”

He would have to break that promise too, but he would do so with the promise that the people he loved were safe and the man who forced his hand would not be. When you make a deal with the devil, he owns you for life. He reached his destination and saw the six people he was meant to kill. “Hello, boys. I have a message from Mason Harrison. The deal is off.” With the voice in his ear satisfied, Jeffrey Horn pushed the button connected to the bomb strapped to his chest, detonating the large device and delivering a message to those who chased Mason Harrison.

May 8th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft

5:52 P.M.

Captain Gates stood off to the side of the group gathered in Castle’s loft and silently felt the pressure of press conferences and new command centers dissipate for just a moment. There was still so much work to be done but for the first time in days, she felt at ease in the company of her three detectives and famous novelist. Roy would be proud of her tonight, “The entirety of the 3rd floor of the precinct is gone and the building itself won’t be livable for a few months at least. Thus, we are going to set up a new precinct in the building across the street while the investigation is on-going so that we still have a command center.”

From his perch at Castle’s dining room table, Esposito spoke, “We went over the security footage. It was pretty much what you guessed.”

“Suicide bombing?”

“Yeah. And from the footage, Castle was right. It was targeted. He went after the people we arrested.”

Castle couldn’t help but wonder, “Doesn’t that mean he is getting desperate?

Kate agreed, “And more arrogant.”

Ryan joined in from his space next to Esposito, “I think we have enough to take Mason Harrison down.”

Esposito looked at his partner, “Not yet.”

“Why not?”

“This bastard didn’t have the decency to respect Montgomery. We will. First, we bury every one of them. Then we go after him.”

Kate spoke next, “I agree. I think we need to find the last informant as well before we move on Harrison. Any news on that front?”

Ryan turned his attention from his partner, “We ran financials on every single police officer in the 12th and none of them popped.”

Kate grimaced, “Sorry about that.”

Esposito shook his head, “What did we tell you?”

“Yeah, we got your back boss.”

Captain Gates smiled at the display before her but it was Kate who felt it most, “Thank you, boys.”

Ryan smiled at his boss, “So we wait?”

Captain Gates broke in, “I think so too. We have a lot of information and Mr. Cruz has his hands full right now. In my 30 years of being a cop, I have never seen a suicide bombing.”

“When I was in Iraq, I saw a few. Actually, I mostly saw the aftermath, but still.”

Ryan had to wonder, “Do we know for sure that Mason Harrison is the one who paid off Jeff Horn?”

Kate pulled one of the files strewn across the table, “Yeah, one of the bank account numbers we have was used to transfer the money to the hospital. I guess he didn’t expect us to get this far.”

While Castle sat down, he passed out the mugs of coffee he brewed, “I think that gives us a bit of an advantage, he may be covering his tracks now, but back then? He is far too arrogant to think anyone would get that far.”

Kate looked at Rick and smiled through the memory, “That’s what I told him last night…”

Everyone turned to Kate, wondering if she was going to share what had occurred the night before, “I got a call right before the bomb went off. It was him. He told me to duck right as the explosion occurred, but first, he told me he wanted to meet. I called him back with the number that was on my caller I.D. and met him at the coffee shop. It was stupid and rash. I used Roy’s old gun that I strapped to my arm, and nearly killed him right there. Maybe I should have…”

Esposito softly wondered, “Why didn’t you?”

“I need to be whole when this is finished. No matter the justification, no matter the guilt, nothing could compare to taking an unarmed man’s life. I would have been broken forever. I made a promise to the man I love and I intend to see that promise to the end.”

Ryan and Esposito smiled at each other, “Sounds good to me.”

Castle leant down and softly kissed Kate on the cheek, “I’m glad you told us.”

The two lovers stared into each other’s eyes allowing the conversation to transcend words, and though they were willing to give them this needed moment, her friends would need words.

Ryan spoke softly, “It sounds like you did the right thing too.”

Kate turned towards him, “I guess that’s something. You know, Ben Jenkins once compared me to him.”

Castle responded immediately, “You aren’t Mason Harrison. If anything, last night proved it.”

“Maybe…I’m sorry guys.”

Ryan was the first to speak, “Don’t worry about it.”

“Yeah, we got your back, Kate.”

Kate smiled at her brothers, “And I have yours.”

Just then a knock sounded through the loft, and once again, the detectives were apprehensive as they looked towards the door. Ryan and Esposito moved towards the door with their guns drawn, while Captain Gates and Kate backed them up. When they opened the door, they were once again, shocked at who stood before them.

Jordan Campbell. A broken and beaten Jordan Campbell.

10 minutes later…

As Jordan entered the apartment, the shocked looks on the faces of the detectives were products of the bruises which adorned her face. She wanted to go to the hospital for her wounds but quickly realized she would have to tell them how she got the deep cut across the bridge of her nose and the black eye that threatened to close. With as much care as she could, Jordan had bandaged herself in the vain hope that she could hide the horrific assault she had suffered at the hands of Mason Harrison.

Captain Gates took her by her elbow and led her into Castle’s kitchen. She then proceeded to use Castle’s first aid kit to clean Jordan’s wounds thoroughly and re-bandage the wounds which needed the most attention.

“That should do it, Ms. Campbell.”

“Thank you.”

Ryan was the first to speak, “What happened?”

Jordan spoke softly but confidently, “Mason Harrison was angry with me.”

Understanding permeated the loft as silence enveloped the angry inhabitants. Rick was the one who broke the silence, “How can we help you, Ms. Campbell?”

“Actually, you can’t. She can…” Jordan pointed to Kate, who stood off to the side with Rick.

“Me?”

“Are you Katherine Beckett?”

“Yes I am. How…how did you know?”

“I saw what you did at the coffee shop.”

“I didn’t see you in that coffee shop, where were you?”

“I was in the back, waiting for Mason to finish.”

“You work for Mason Harrison?”

“I’m his secretary. And…and I’m trying not to be afraid anymore. For the longest time, I was afraid to go to work everyday. When I saw you in that coffee shop, saw what you did, I realized that maybe there was someone in the world that might be able to stand up to him.”

“You can do that too, Jordan.”

“It’s why I’m here. I…I don’t want to be afraid anymore.”

“You don’t have to be.”

“No, I don’t think I do. I want to testify against him. I want to see him pay for the crimes he has committed.”

Kate felt an overwhelming sense of relief, “If you testify, we will have two witnesses against him. He will go down, Jordan. And you can have your life back.”

“Ben Jenkins…”

Esposito stepped in, “Is safe. And we can make you the same.”

Jordan looked around the room and felt a trust she hadn’t felt in a long time. Her job was dangerous, her life was sometimes beyond repair, but standing in this room, with these people gave her the strength she needed to make a stand. She pulled a thick file folder from her backpack and two flash drives, “This is all the information I have or could find on Mason Harrison’s operations and dealing for the past nine years. It has his personal bank account numbers, proof of pay-offs to local, state and national officials, and everyone who has been on the payroll since 2003. I found evidence of the illicit money that comes in to the company, phone records that link him to the prison and to Hal Lockwood, Dick Coonan and Ben Jenkins.”

Ryan was amazed at the pot of gold which now rested on Castle’s dining room table, “Do you know who tipped him off to the location of our witnesses?”

“Yes…”

“Will you tell us?”

Jordan knew that this was the moment she dreaded but she found the strength to power through, “You have to promise to protect me.”

“Of course, we will. Ben Jenkins will remain safe and so will you.”

Jordan smiled for the first time in days, “His name is Raymond Zeigler.”

The gang was stunned and absolutely horrified by the name of the man who had given Mason Harrison the ability to blow up the 12th. It was Kate who found the words first, “Our own police commissioner?”

“Yes. We’ve had him since the fall of 2009; we blackmailed him because we needed access to your investigation, Detective. As you began to look further into your mother’s murder, we needed more than Mr. Montgomery’s word, and Mr. Zeigler was an easy target.”

“I can’t…what are you blackmailing him with?”

“The same thing many married men are blackmailed over. A sex tape. We hired a prostitute to sleep with him and tape her experience. She came through and we had the Police Commissioner on the payroll.”

Esposito was beside himself, “Yeah, his wife wouldn’t appreciate that tape.”

The entire loft was stunned at the prospect that the one who betrayed them, the one who allowed eight of their own to die simply to protect his life, was also the one who they answered to as police officers of the NYPD. It was unthinkable. Unfathomable. Yet, when they saw the evidence placed in front of them, they knew that the game had changed drastically.

May 9th, 2012-New York City

Castle’s Loft/Mason Harrison’s Office

6:42 P.M.

Mason Harrison saw the ever growing tide beginning to surge against him, and knew that this could potentially be his last stand. Minutes earlier, his sources inside the NYPD reported the impending arrest warrant being issued for him and the tactical plans being put into effect to assault the BP building on May 16th.

Captain Gates re-iterated the plan the gang had come up with to take down Mason Harrison. Instead of taking Raymond Zeigler down immediately, they would feed him false information in order to give them an advantage.

Mason had determined long ago that if he were to fall, he would make sure that his last stand was memorable. He would not fall into that silent night with nothing but a whisper. He would scream his protest to his dying breath.

They would claim that their advance would take place on Wednesday May 16th, three days after the final coffin of their fallen brethren was placed in the ground, but in truth, they would move on the 14th.

They were coming on the 16th. He would be ready. He had a cadre of loyal soldiers who would fight to their deaths to protect him and the cause they fought for, even if that meant killing a police force dedicated to keeping the peace on the streets of New York City.

They knew he wouldn’t go down easily. From Jordan’s actionable intelligence, they knew that Mason had a small army ready to fight to the end. They simply would not be able to just walk into the BP building and serve the warrant. Thus, a plan had been concocted to get them in and out in the quickest and least bloody way possible. They also ordered protection details to remain in place and strengthened. No member of this family would go anywhere by themselves, they would always check in with at least one other person, and they were to remain inside their homes and apartments as much as possible.

He knew their plans, he knew what they sought, and he knew that they were coming for him. And he would win because he knew his enemy. Kate Beckett. She would be the first to die at his hands for her treachery, and then when he was acquitted of all crimes, he would take the war to the remaining members of that family that tried in vain to bring him down. She would fall because of her naïve view of the world, unable to see the betrayal which stood at her door.

When ADA Jason Cruz once again walked through the door of Castle’s home, he was met with the entire strange family that had gone to war with Mason Harrison. They were on the cusp of one of the greatest achievements in the history of the NYPD. It amazed him how much the saying was proven true in this room: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ He didn’t doubt it for a second as he passed over the arrest warrant he had received only fifteen minutes prior. This small group of people would make the world a better place.

They thought they were making the world a better place, but what they were really doing was depriving the world of a force for righteousness and justice. Mason Harrison would not allow that. His cause was noble and the ends were just. Nothing else mattered. He spoke into the phone with authority and purpose, “Make sure we are ready, Captain.”

“Yes Sir!”

He would win this day, even if he had to kill every detective and police officer of the NYPD to do so.

With all of the evidence turned over to ADA Jason Cruz, the man who would put together the mountains of evidence against BP and Mason Harrison, and Jordan Campbell and Ben Jenkins secretly protected by the best the NYPD had to offer at Kate’s apartment, all that was left was to take down Mason Harrison.

May 14th, 2012 was a Monday. It should be sunny that day…


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