This is NOT a death fic. No need for it. It's a set-up chapter. It'll wrap up in one or two more chapters. This is just a character thing. I appreciate the continued support for what reads like a dark fic. Thanks for the patience.

No Matter Where You Go by Oldest Man

Chapter 2

Beckett's Apartment

A pounding awakened her from a deep sleep on her apartment door. Kate grabbed her service pistol and walked through the living room and into the foyer and glanced out the peephole in the door.

She saw Captain Montgomery, Lanie Parish, and FBI Agent Shaw all standing grim-faced waiting for her to answer the door. Her mind was inundated with random thoughts but one stood out – someone had died and this was the 'official notification team'.

She removed the safety chain, undid the deadbolt and opened the door. Lanie was first in, giving her a brief hug and then leading her back into the living room and pushing her down on her couch.

"Kate, something happened tonight. Something bad. You need to be strong, Kate." Now that scared Beckett. Oh, no, not her father!

"Lanie, was – is it my dad?" She didn't think the FBI would be with them but it was the first thought that came to her sleep-muddled brain.

"No, Kate. It wasn't your father. It was Rick. Rick Castle. He's dead, honey. Captain Montgomery got a call from the 26th Division and he took me with him to the scene. I ran a DNA comparison from samples I took when you first arrested him and compared them to – to – to tissue samples I found at the scene when I got back to the morgue."

Captain Montgomery sat on the other side of her and told her what he knew. It was brief but unassailable.

"Bob Halsey over at the 26th called me. They found Castle's car all shot to hell and partially submerged in the East River. There wasn't a body but there were – there were blood and tissue residues on the driver's window glass that hadn't been carried away by the river."

"You said his car – " She couldn't think straight. It was too much to comprehend.

"I drove over with Dr. Parish and saw the car. It looked like another car tried to run him off the road several times. There were bullet holes in the door, the back and side windows as well as the trunk lid. There was a 9mm Glock found on the passenger seat. An empty clip was on the floor and he'd fired all but 2 rounds from the pistol before – "

"Would you like some coffee?" Kate was running on instinct and autopilot.

"No, Kate, it's all right. Jordan and I will take care of it later. Just listen to Captain Montgomery, sweetie."

"A stolen SUV was also found at the scene. Castle went down fighting. There were several bullet holes in the door and the windows on the passenger side were shot out and the airbags had deployed when they hit the seawall. There were bloodstains on the passenger seat and on the dash and steering wheel. There were at least two attackers and that corresponds with FBI intel."

Jordan Shaw spoke for the first time.

"Detective Beckett, two members of the sleeper cell that planned the dirty bomb attack that you and Castle thwarted are unaccounted for. We've learned that they planned on killing everyone involved with foiling their plans. Castle, being famous, was first on the list followed by his daughter and mother and then 'the cop'. They didn't even know your name."

Kate felt her blood run cold. "You knew this and you did nothing to protect him? What about his family? You knew and yet you did nothing? You used him as bait, didn't you? Answer me, Jordan!" She hadn't mentioned herself. She could take care of herself. Rick was -.

"Yes, Detective Beckett, live bait. The best kind. It was his idea. This has been in the planning stages for several weeks now since the plot was discovered. We offered to place him in the Witness Protection Program but he said couldn't do that to the people in his life and instead came up with another scenario and it would have worked but – " Jordan stopped talking and seemed to be gathering herself up for something worse than she'd already related.

"Someone called him and said that they had Alexis and would kill her if he didn't surrender to them for 'the execution of righteous justice'. If he did, they promised to let everyone on their list off the hook. He called me and I told him it was a trap but he wouldn't listen. It was his daughter, Detective, who was at risk, and you know Poppa Bear. That's the last I heard from him until the liaison with the 26th contacted the FBI."

"What about protection for him and his family? Why didn't you have someone on them 24/7?"

"We did. His detail was less intrusive that the others since we couldn't let the terrorists know we knew about their intentions. His detail was right behind him but got involved in a traffic accident when they pushed a red light and got blindsided by a trash truck. One is dead and the other is in the hospital. It was a terrible coincidence, nothing more. An accident."

"Shaw, what about Alexis? Is she alright?"

"She's fine. She's asleep right now in her dorm room in Princeton. Her detail confirmed it again before we came here to – to tell you about Castle. After Rick called I checked but he didn't answer his cell when I called back and so he didn't know it was a trick and that he was driving into a trap or he was already engaged in the fight."

"Where did Castle get a gun? I didn't know he had one."

"Detective, this is New York City and he had connections from his books. He could have got a gun anyplace. He had one and he used it to his advantage."

"Martha and Alexis – they need to know. Let me get dressed and I'll go to Martha's. Later, we'll both go to Princeton and tell Alexis."

"Beckett, Esposito and Ryan are on their way to Princeton to bring little Castle home. Martha's spending the night with her latest boyfriend and she isn't answering her cell. The security team will notify her first thing in the morning. They're parked outside his condo and will stay until she either answers her cell or 8am at which time they'll wake her and inform her of her son's death." Montgomery's comments divulged just how close he was to the operation.

"Detective, there's something I should tell you. He was out of time and the Bureau was turning him over to the US Marshals for transport to Witness Protection. He would have 'died' tonight anyway, just not so spectacularly or as permanently. I'm sorry for your loss. He was a special man and I know you will miss him."

Jordan Shaw stood and nodded to the others and then walked across the living room to take a call on her cell phone. Her work here was done. Someone else, probably Homeland Security, would do the follow-ups.

"This is Agent Shaw, who is this? How did you get…" She paled and then quickly left Beckett's apartment.

"Thirty minutes," Jordan Shaw replied and disconnected the call and made another one, this time to the FBI team that was assembled to handle the Witness Protection issues.

"Castle's in a warehouse out on Pier 26 on the East River. He says – he says 'he's solved our little problem and to come clean up the mess he made'." She gave out the address and then turned back to Beckett's apartment uncertain what to do then made her decision and left the apartment building.

Kate was numb. Lanie scurried off to make coffee and Montgomery spoke quietly to Kate.

"You're on bereavement leave for at least a week, maybe more if you need it. I know you and his daughter and mother were very close. Take the time to help them in this time of tragedy. Call me if you need anything at all. Dr. Parish will stay here until you decide what to do. We're all sorry for what's happened, Kate. All of us."

"Did you know, sir? Were you in on it?" She had heard what was said and who said it. Montgomery had known but hadn't said anything to her or her team. That was unforgivable in her eyes. She had a right to know. He was her partner, if nothing else, but he was so much more to her and Montgomery knew that.

"Castle and Shaw came to me and we worked together on Rick's plan but like Shaw said, we ran out of time. Take the time off, Beckett. Take all the time you need."

"Why didn't he tell me? He told everyone else but me. Hell, I'll bet he even told – Lanie! Did you know about this?" She was yelling by this time. Here famous temper and short fuse were plainly in evidence.

"I think that's my cue to leave, Beckett. Don't be angry with those who care about you. Everyone had the best of intentions and given the situation, those intentions were all we had going for us. Good night, Katherine."

His use of her first name surprised her. He'd never, in all the years they'd served together, referred to her as anything other than 'Detective' or 'Beckett'. Never.

Lanie walked the Captain to the door and they exchanged a few words and then he left. Lanie took a deep breath and walked over to the couch and handed her the cup of coffee she'd made.

"I was brought in towards the end when it looked like Castle's plan wouldn't work and we'd need to 'prepare a body' for him to go into Witness Protection. He – he fought us every step of the way. I asked him why once, after he'd driven Jordan off in tears. He said 'I'm not ready to leave Kate yet, while she's still so unsettled'."

"Lanie, why not Witness Protection for me? I'm on the list." It seemed unfair that she'd been robbed of that time with Castle planning his 'plan' and they could have gone off together and she said so.

"Oh, puleeeeze, Kate! He knew you'd never leave the damned job for him or anyone else. He knew what you two had was, how did he put it, oh, yeah, 'transient in nature'."

"What the hell does that mean, Lanie?"

"It means he knew he was a placeholder until you found the right guy at the right time. He didn't like it but accepted it as the price he had to pay to be with you, even if it was all just temporary. The one-night stands were things he overlooked because he loved you despite how things were."

"Lanie! I never slept with any of those guys. I just never dated them a second time because – because they weren't Castle. I was going to come clean and take all the right steps to make us a proper couple but this happened…I waited too long to be absolutely sure and now – "

Lanie stayed with her until she finally fell asleep and then she took up her place on Kate's couch and had herself a good cry.