When I first started writing this, I thought it would be part of The Trouble With Paris. Now I'm not so sure. So, it's a standalone for the moment till I see where that story goes. For Roy Montgomery, RIP.


It's over now, not even any strength left for shouting.

Kate is aware, vaguely, of Castle kneeling down beside her as she bends over the body. He guides her gently towards him and this time, she doesn't fight. She leans against his chest, and for a few moments it's just the two of them and the silence. Montgomery is gone, like Royce is gone. All the men she once looked up to, the men who molded her career, have turned out to be flawed and conflicted, as capable of betraying her as supporting her. In Montgomery's case, maybe for years.

But she's not going to think about that right now. She still has her job to do, and as she sits up and reaches for her phone, she feels like she's stepping into Nikki Heat instead of Detective Beckett. Nikki is taller and stronger and most of all, Nikki is his, Castle's, and she needs his strength right now. Not that she'd ever admit that out loud.

She helps him to his feet after she's called it in. Castle doesn't try to hold on to her, and so she can reach out to thank him for being there, cup his warm cheek in her cold hand.

Later, after Perlmutter arrives and the bodies have been removed, she steels herself to face the next task. Esposito has offered, but this is her job, her burden. And she needs him to stay with Ryan at the scene, needs the two of them to make sure every single bit of evidence is gathered. They know who killed their Captain - shot by a fugitive he was trying to apprehend, or at least that's the story she's determined to tell - but not who engineered Lockwood's release, whose dirty work he was doing. It's not something she can face at the moment, but she has no doubt that one day soon, once the shock and the grief have worn off, once she's really understood Montgomery's role in her life, in this whole sorry mess, then she's going to want to start looking again.

The sun has risen by the time things are locked down enough for them to go. Castle gets in the driver's seat, both of them so wasted by the night that there's not even the energy to make sanity-saving jokes about letting him drive at last. He turns to reach across her body and for a moment she thinks he's going to kiss her, right here, right now, but it's only her seat belt he's reaching for, clipping her in with an apologetic twist of his lips. It warms her right down to the pit of her stomach, and that's enough to make the tears threaten again.

'Maybe you shouldn't be the one to do this,' he murmurs, hand on the ignition.

She closes her eyes, fighting for control. 'I owe it to him. And to Evelyn.'

He puts a hand on her knee, briefly, and then starts the car. They drive all the way to Flushing in a silence broken only by the GPS on the dashboard, telling them where to go.

At Montgomery's house, Evelyn greets them with the kind of look that says she already knows what she's about to hear. Mary, the younger one, sits in her mother's lap as if she's still a toddler, while Rebecca sits beside her, their childhoods evaporating with each passing minute. It's like the night her mother was found all over again, but Kate makes herself look them in the eyes and swear that she'll be there for them, always. She promises Evelyn all the funny stories about Roy at work, whenever she's ready to hear them. She's promised herself that she'll let the heat die down before she takes her next step, but somewhere in the back of her mind she's already working on what that might be. She's lost two people she loved to this Dragon now, and she won't lose another. Next time she won't make a move until she's strong enough, knows enough, to be absolutely certain it will be the last.

She drifts off in the car on the long journey back, away from the sharp ache in her throat, and the dull, deeper one in her chest. Castle said almost nothing at Evelyn's, and he still says nothing as they finally come out of the Midtown tunnel and head downtown. But as soon as they cross 34th, he finds a space to double-park and turns to look at her, his careful writer's gaze taking in every tiny detail.

'Please,' she whispers. 'Just take me home.'

'Tell me where Josh lives. I'll take you there.'

She turns her face away, towards the window. She doesn't want Josh. Not right now.

'What about your dad?'

She shakes her head.

'Then come home with me. I don't want you alone with this. I don't want to be alone with this.'

She doesn't want to fight with him; she's too tired. But she needs the comfort of her home, surroundings that are familiar. Castle sighs deeply as he decodes the clenching of her jaw, her refusal to look at him. He puts the car into gear, heads towards her apartment in the East Village.

She doesn't exactly decide to let him in. Her needs lie outside of logic, that's why she always tries so hard to keep them in check, especially around him. But somehow he reads them anyway. Sometimes. Most times. This time, walking her from where they've parked over to her building, up to the fourth floor, and then through the door she's left ajar for him to follow her through if he dares.

By the time she hears him close the front door and lock it, she's fallen face down on her bed, still fully clothed, spent. He follows her into her bedroom as well, and she can almost see him through her closed eyes, removing his jacket, placing his shoes side by side under her rocking chair. He lifts each of her feet in turn, easing off her boots and putting them - she thinks - to rest besides his shoes. The covers bunch against her side as he pushes them back, and then gently coaxes her into the empty space.

She catches his hand as he draws the blankets over her shoulders. 'I'm sorry,' he murmurs. He tries to pull away, but she holds on, only slowly realising that he's not apologising for being here, for touching her, for taking off his shoes as if it's assumed he's joining her in bed. 'I did this,' he says. 'I started this, and I'm so sorry. Kate, I'm so sorry.'

She pulls him towards her as his face crumples, any resistance she might have had left simply melting with his tears. 'We both did this,' she whispers, making room for him, pulling the covers over his shoulders as well. She curls herself around him, holding him until they both fall into a restless sleep, until they're woken by Ryan and Esposito and it's time to face the world.


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