Author's Note:

This begins after Kate runs to Roy after he's shot in 3x24, "Knockout". It started because I was caught by the moment where Kate looks at Rick and says, "If you're very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you". I started wondering about what could have happened in the time between a death and a funeral, because it's usually at least a couple of days, and what if there was even more at stake than we as viewers knew. I still think there are worlds of unsaid things between them, and yet, I could also see a universe where a lot more got said than was shown in that episode - which actually makes the episode all the more poignant for me, the sense of possibility heightened. I hope you enjoy this. :) It is NOT a post-episode fix, though who knows where the muse goes...

I've been off the fanfic world for a bit, real life caught up, but hoping to continue because I really do love what people here contribute to the world and to my enjoyment of this great series. Thanks to Kavi Leighanna and Ignacio2012 who remind me of what's worth it about coming back and writing...There are actually a bunch of other authors who I've enjoyed recently that I am just so grateful for.

Also, these characters do not belong to me - they're the wonderful creations of Andrew Marlowe and company.

Castle was eerily reminded of pulling her off Coonan when he knelt down beside her, slid an arm around her shoulder. He could feel her shoulders shaking as he brought his arms around her, and just held tight. There was no struggle this time, no desperately loving fight to keep them both quiet. He pressed his lips to her temple, and after a long, long time, she turned her face into his shoulder and let her weight sink down onto the cold concrete of the hanger floor and against his side.

They stayed there for what seemed an eternity, until he finally heeded the insistent buzz of his cell phone. Esposito. "Roy's dead." His voice was raw. The call was brief, the only addendum was their location before he killed the line.

"Kate...Kate..." His voice was soft, insistent. She wiped her eyes, swallowed hard and looked at him. She took a deep breath, reaching down one last time to touch Montgomery's face.

"I forgave him, damnit..."

He shook his head helplessly at her, a writer at a loss of words - again. Too often with her.

She slowly got up...and then extended her hand to him to help him rise. A truce or an olive branch, he wasn't sure yet which. "We need to say that Roy was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had NOTHING to do with Lockwood..."

He got what she meant by the intensity of her words.

"We need to find out who these men are, where they came from, how they contacted him, how he contacted them..." She was all business - a facade that lasted all of a minute before she looked up at the ceiling and shook her head viciously, a primal, gutteral swear from her throat.

Esposito and Ryan were first on the scene. They broke into a run as soon as they saw Beckett and Castle by the bodies.

Esposito swore, his hands balled into fists. The look on his face was frightening in its intensity, in its roil of rage and grief.

Ryan ran his palms down his face, those open, decent features slick with tears. "He kept trying to retire, god damnit...Beckett..."

Even in her own grief, she comforted, reaching out briefly to touch his shoulder. "We take care of our own. He was a good man. He came here to take a stand, not betray me."

Ryan and Esposito looked up at her intently, something like relief mirroring on their faces at that.

Beckett continued fiercely, softly, "We get CSI here. 1PP will want reports up the ass. He called backup, we got here too late...he took them out as a hero." Beckett's voice broke. "He IS a hero."

They called the Medical Examiner's office and the precinct, and then looked at each other. Beckett pocketed Montgomery's phone without saying a word.

Ryan said numbly, "His family. Evelyn...the girls..."

Kate let out a long breath. "I'll do it...personally."

The arrival of more cops, a medical examiner, and crime scene investigators made the scene chaotic. Cops from the Twelfth and other precincts calling in as the news started to spread, they all gave as sparse statements as they could with enough detail to satisfy seasoned cops. The CSI crew was hushed, voices somber. Beckett requested the duty of letting Montgomery's family know - it gave her an excuse to be briskly on her way.

Castle caught up with her as he saw her finally leaving the scene. "I'm driving, Kate." She closed her eyes for a moment, and then nodded. The drive was silent, not uncomfortably so. She stared out the window.

They went to Montgomery's house that night. Castle watched Beckett straighten her spine and only he knew the micro-hesitation as she reached up to ring the doorbell. He silently put his hand on her shoulder, long enough to squeeze before letting his hand fall away.

Evelyn was a cop's wife long enough to know that Beckett at her doorstep in the middle of the night wasn't a bad thing. Still, she tried denial first. "Are you looking for Roy? He's working late..." She didn't quite meet Beckett's eyes.

"Evelyn. Roy was killed tonight. He took out four men, including the one that shot him. I am so sorry for your loss. He was like a father to me." Beckett's voice was raw, the empathy unmistakeable. "Evelyn, I'm so sorry..."

Evelyn just stood there with her eyes closed for awhile before they opened, wet with tears. "He was supposed to retire... I knew something was off when he said good bye to me and the girls today..." Beckett traded a quick glance with Castle at this. Evelyn's voice broke as she continued, "The girls...I have to tell the girls."

The older daughter, Mary, was already up, standing at the top step of their stairway with a teddy bear in her arms. "Mom..."

Castle closed the door behind him, trying not to intrude on the family grief and aching as he watched Beckett support Evelyn.

An hour later, the door shut behind Castle and Beckett, leaving them on the doorstep. They'd done what they could, offered what truth they knew and were willing to share, the grief they were unhesitating and unconditionally willing to share, and the small niceties of tea and tissue that are completely inadequate in the face of loss but still small kindnesses.

He looked at her. "I'm not leaving you tonight."

Shockingly, she acquiesced, too damned tired to fight. He called Alexis on the way to her apartment. Beckett tuned out the conversation, though she heard Alexis' shock and was struck by the solidity of his reassurances. When had she started thinking of Castle as reliable? The meet at the cafe with Raglan? She looked over briefly to study his profile, her thoughts circling and circling. She knew she was alive, breathing, feeling the grief because of Montgomery...because of Castle. The "if onlys" played in her head, wondering if she could've evened the playing field, if Montgomery would still be alive. As a woman who lived with a lot of "if onlys" already, she also knew the futility of it...and another voice resonated, another dead man who she thought had betrayed her. The last thing you want to do is look back on your life and wonder if only...

She let them into their apartment, remembering the last time they'd stood at this threshold together.

He heard her phone ring, glanced over at her to see her studying the caller ID flashing "Josh" with the surgeon's too-handsome mug on it...and watched as she just hit ignore.

He went to her kitchen and got her a glass of water, while she changed into sweats in her bedroom. She came out with a blanket and pillow for him, and he set up his spot on the couch. They stood there awkwardly for a moment. "Kate...I'm sorry...He loved you so much."

She dropped her head for a moment, dark hair obscuring her face, and then raised her face to look at him. "You know... age ago, he told me that whatever the mayor said, he really didn't have to keep you around because it was HIS shop." She took a deep, shuddering breath. "He did it because he thought you were good for me...just like he called you tonight when I wanted you gone." Her voice was so low he barely heard her next words. "He was right. He thought a lot of you, Castle..."

He swallowed around his own grief. "I looked up to him to...still do. Didn't have a lot of male role models in my life..."

She reached up to wipe wetness off his cheek.

"Kate...," he whispered.

"You were right. We never talk... and we should..."

"...but not tonight..."


It felt good, right to be on the same page, that rhythm of finishing each other's words for the first time turned on them. Her hand dropped from his face and she stepped back. Before she closed the door to her room, he heard her say, "Thanks...Rick."

The unspoken "always" hung between them.

For the second time in his life, he slept on her couch. He had his own "if only"s but the one thing he was dead sure about was that he was fiercely glad it wasn't her on that hanger floor. In the pre-dawn light, he heard a soft, punctuated sound that his brain interpreted as a sob...and then another, and then quiet. He lay in the dark with his eyes open, his own vigil in the night.