"Threshold"

Nominated for the 2011 Castle Fan Awards in the fanfic category: Best Drama

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SPOLIER ALERT!

I'm going to leave the A/N for the end but I need to tell you that this story is season 3 spoiler heavy, especially concerning the season finale. So if you don't want to be spoiled, come back after you've seen all of season 3. I'll wait for you! :)

This story is complete and was originally all one "short story" but now I've divided it up into 3 parts. I'm posting each section separately but they will all be up by the end of the day.

Disclaimer: I do not own Castle, it's characters, locations or dialogue. I just borrowed them and then put them back.

"Threshold"

Part 1

Kate choked back tears as she stood before the crowd of mourners. She couldn't even look at the devastated Montgomery family, due to her own pain and guilt. After tortured years of practicing putting her feelings aside, she should be able to numb herself enough to make it through the short speech, but seeing the hurt in the eyes of her friends and coworkers was almost more than she could take. Every word she uttered brought her one step closer to losing her remaining grasp on her composure.

"... and if you're very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you."

She turned toward Castle who hadn't left her side since the night at the airport. He of all people knew and understood what had really happened; why their beloved Captain was dead, and why she carried the weight of it on her shoulders. He didn't blame her. No one did. No one except for herself, and he knew that too. He'd told her countless times in the last three days that it wasn't her fault. He reminded her of Roy's words that it was his own sins he was dying for, and that he did what he felt he had to in order to make things right. Castle's strength and constant support couldn't change how she felt, but it did take the edge off her pain. More than once she felt that if he wasn't at her side, both physically and emotionally, she would have completely crumbled. And now even here, he was standing close to her where he probably didn't belong, because instinctively he knew he was where she needed him. So when he looked to him, he encouraged and comforted her with his eyes, renewing her resolve to continue.

"Our Captain would want us to carry on the fight. And even if there is a moment when we falter, he would want..."

"Kate!" Castle shouted as he dove for her.

She never heard the shot, but the moment she felt the searing impact, she knew. She was next. The sniper's bullet found it's mark and stole her breath, a split second before Castle was able to knock her out of harms way.

The feel of liquid fire spread through her. The chaotic screams of those who saw her go down, faded away. Her strength seems to flow from her body with her blood.

Suddenly Castle filled her line of sight. She wanted to reach out to him, to cling to him and tell him how she felt, but she was already in shock, paralyzing her on the ground.

His lips were moving just inches above her face. He was telling her something. She tried with everything she had left in her, to focus on his whispered words, but she couldn't make them out. Then, just before slipping away, his voice broke through the fog in her mind. "Kate, I love you. I love you, Kate."

XXXXXXXXXXX

When Kate woke up, it was dark. She had no idea where she was and couldn't see anything that would give her a clue.

Something in her brain told her she should be afraid, but for some reason the fear never came. Slowly, she sat up from what seemed to be a small bed and tried to take a personal inventory. She wasn't in pain and that surprised her, but she didn't know why.

Kate stood up and began to walk around the room. The longer she walked, the more her eyes adjusted to the dark, and after some indiscernible amount time passed, she noticed a faint light near the floor.

When she got closer to the pale glow, she found that it was coming from below a door, hidden in the murky blackness.

Feeling that she had nothing to lose, Kate moved her hand to the cool doorknob and gave it a turn. At first it stuck, like it hadn't been opened in years but then gave way and opened into another room.

Not for the first time since waking up, Kate was completely confused by her surroundings. She stepped into the old familiar office and shut the door behind her. The stained glass lamp sitting on the large wooden desk emitted a soft glow, allowing her to take in the details of the cozy room. An antique globe stood in one corner, a large potted plant resided in another. Floor to ceiling books lined the built in maple shelving on the far wall. Everything from leather bound classics to paperback romances graced the shelves. When her eyes fell on the large set of law books, she stepped forward and reached out to touch their soft bindings, but stopped when the high backed chair behind the desk spun around.

"Captain!" Beckett gasped. "What! I thought...! Am I...? Where are we?"

"No need to call me Captain anymore, Kate. Call me Roy."

"Are we in Heaven?"

The older man, who had a glass of brandy in one hand and a cigar in the other, looked thoughtfully around the room. "I don't think so. You mom had a beautiful office, but I'd hardly call it Heaven."

"But you died! I saw you. I tried to save you but I couldn't. I tried Roy, I really did but there was nothing I could do. You were already gone."

"Thank you, Kate. I know you did everything possible."

"And I was at your funeral. We carried your casket and I was giving your eulogy and then I was..." Kate gasped and grabbed at her chest as she remembered for the first time, the last moments from before everything went black. She didn't feel a hole in her uniform or see blood on her gloves, but she knew she'd been shot.

"How are you feeling?" Roy asked.

"I don't know."

"Are you in pain?"

"No," she replied after a thoughtful pause.

"That's good. Getting shot hurts. It's not something I'd want you to have to keep feeling."

"So I guess that means I'm dead?"

Roy shrugged. "I don't know. All I know is that I've been waiting here for you."

Kate wanted to cry, not for herself but for all those who she left behind. Castle warned her about this. She knew that if something like this ever happened, there were those who loved her that would know the pain of loss like she did. Thinking of Lanie and the guys, and of her dad and Rick, feeling that loss left a burning in her gut, much like the earlier gunshot did.

Captain Montgomery stood up and walked toward his friend. "C'mon. You can't turn back time, so there's no need to beat yourself up over this." He handed her the drink he'd been holding. "Drink this. It will help you relax. Then you can show me around your house."

Kate took the glass and drank deeply. As the golden liquid flowed down her throat, it numbed and soothed her in a way that it never had before, not in her previous life.

"What's in this stuff?" Kate asked, feeling completely refreshed.

"It's not what's in the glass. It's this place, it's unlike anything you've ever know. Now come on, I'd like the grand tour."

XXXXXXXXXXX

Roy opened the other door in the office, the one that opened into the living room, and waited for Kate to go ahead of him. After a moments hesitation, she did just that.

In the large living room there were several overstuffed chairs, a couch, coffee table, TV, fireplace and an old upright piano.

A young man was stretched out on the couch, sound asleep, with a forgotten newspaper draped across his chest and a slim auburn haired girl, who was probably around seven years old, was practicing the piano.

Roy leaned in and spoke to Kate who was watching the younger version of herself. "You were a beautiful little girl Kate. I'm sure you had your dad wrapped around your finger."

Kate smiled knowing there was some truth to that.

Little Kate played the same song over and over again trying to master the piece. Sometimes she got quite far, other times she was restarting after only a few notes.

"I remember that. It was a simplified version of the "Entertainer". My piano teacher gave me a month to learn it, and I was so determined to move on to harder material, that I had it mastered in a week. I spent so many consecutive hours on that one piece, my poor parents must have been ready to kill me," Beckett said quietly to Montgomery. After watching the scene for another moment she asked,"Can they see me?"

"No, this is like The Christmas Carol; we're just looking in on your memories. They have no idea we're here."

Kate moved slowly across the room, until she was standing next to the piano, watching herself struggle with her hand placement and timing.

"Katie, Sweetheart! Are you ready for a break? Mrs. Goldman doesn't expect you to learn that in a day. Here, I brought you a snack," Johanna Beckett said as she entered the room with a plate of sliced apples and peanut butter dip.

"Thanks, Mom. I'll get to it in a minute. I can't stop now. I'm so close!" Little Kate answered.

"Mmm, I've heard that before," Roy said out loud.

Kate rolled her eyes and then sat down on the bench beside herself.

When the youngster failed at yet another attempt of the piece, Kate took the child's hands and placed them back on the keys. "Don't give up," she whispered to the unhearing ears. With her large hands covering the smaller ones, they began the song again from the beginning, playing together as one. Page after page of music flew by without a mistake until soon they'd reached the end.

Seven year old Katie, jumped from the bench, full of youthful excitement. "Dad, Mom! I did it. I played the whole thing!"

Jim chuckled and smiled, but never opened his eyes. "Yes you did Pumpkin, and it sounded wonderful. I think I'll have to call Julliard tomorrow!"

"Daaaaaad," Kate retorted. "I'm not that good. Yet."

Johanna stroked her daughter's hair and handed her the plastic plate of food. "Even Beethoven had to start somewhere. If you want something bad enough, and you really work hard to achieve it, you'll be able to do anything you set your mind to!"

Katie shoved a thick slice of fruit in her mouth and smiled up at her mom. "You know what I want?"

"To learn not to speak with food in your mouth?" her mother asked.

The child chewed quickly and swallowed the apple in a large lump. "I want to play it at my next lesson with Mrs. Goldman, without having to read the music!

Johanna and Jim shared a look over their daughter's head, knowing that they would be hearing the ragtime song a lot over then next few days, but Kate was oblivious and already back at the piano, now attempting to memorize the music one line at a time.

Roy moved toward the open doorway that led into the hall. Catching Kate's eye he nodded, letting her know it was time to move on. She followed him reluctantly, after taking one long look back.

XXXXXXXXXXX

Across the hall from the living room was the dining room. Another Kate was at the table, this one probably around ten years old.

Roy and Kate went to the far side of the table so that they could see what the girl was doing.

Katie Beckett was a mess. The hair in her ponytail was sticking out at all angles, her face and hands were smudged with blood and dirt, her knuckles bruised and swollen, and the elbow of her jean jacket had a gaping hole. She didn't seem to be bothered by her appearance though, instead focusing intently on the bright yellow legal pad in front of her. Carefully she wrote out the same signature over and over again, Johanna M. Beckett.

Montgomery looked from Kate as a girl to Kate as a woman. "What did you do this time?"

Kate grinned sheepishly, "Just wait and see. My mom should be here in just a minute."

As if on cue, the sound of keys unlocking the front door, broke through the silence of the room.

Katie quickly tried to shove the pad of paper into her backpack, but her stiff achy hands slowed her down. Knowing that she'd never get it zipped in time, she chose to try escaping instead. She wasn't fast enough.

"Hey Sweetie! I'm home early, and I brought pizza!" At first Johanna was headed past the dining room to the kitchen, but out of the corner of her eye, she spotted her ragged daughter frozen in place.

"Katherine Elaine Beckett! What happened! Are you OK?"

"I'm fine mom. It's nothing."

Johanna tossed the pizza box and her briefcase on the table and ran to her child. She smoothed back Kate's hair, and inspected her her swollen cheek and hand.

"Fine! FINE? You look like you've been in a fight! Please tell me you weren't in a fight. Tell me you fell off you bike or something."

"Ok, I fell off my bike... or something."

"Don't lie to me Kate."

"I was in a fight. But it's not what you think. Besides, if you think I look bad, you should see Grant Mitchell. He wishes he came out looking this good."

"You fought a boy?"

Katie tried, but couldn't hide her pride. "Yup, an eighth grade boy."

Beckett nudged her Captain. "You should have seen him sir. Not only was he a good four years older than me, but he probably had fifty pounds and a good foot on me too."

Johanna pulled out a chair and sat down so that she could look her daughter in the eyes. "What possessed you to fight him? What he picking on you?"

"No Mom. He was picking on Jamie Webster. He picks on him all the time, just because he stutters. Jamie's been in my class forever, and he's always stuttered, but it's gotten so much better lately. He almost never does it anymore, unless Grant is around. Grant just won't leave him alone, and the more Grant messes with him, the harder it is for Jamie to talk."

Johanna watched her daughter as she spoke and couldn't help but think that they were more alike that she'd prefer sometimes. She knew that like her, Kate wouldn't be able to stand idly by and watch someone get abused.

"So just after I left school, I saw Jamie and Grant at the corner, and Grant was tearing into him. Jamie was trying not to cry but then Grant pushed him and told him to speak up or he'd make sure he'd never speak again. I just snapped, Mom. Jamie didn't deserve to be treated like that and was beyond the point of fighting back. So I just ran up to Grant and punched him in the mouth. It hurt my hand, but boy did it feel good!"

Young Kate suddenly became animated as she got into the story.

"Grant never saw me coming and was stunned for a second, but then just started swinging all over the place, but I'm fast and missed most of his punches. Then Jamie joined in. It was like he couldn't defend himself but he could defend me! The next thing I know, Mr. Vaughn, our gym teacher was pulling us all apart. You should have seen Grant's face when he realized a girl took him out."

For Mrs. Beckett it was one of those times as a parent when you're torn between being proud of your child and angry at them at the same time.

"Does this mean you've been suspended?"

"Nope! It didn't happen on school property, so technically none of us got in trouble. But Mr. Vaughn did write letters for all of us to bring to our parents to sign and bring back, so he knows you're aware of the situation."

Johanna held her hand out. "Let me see it."

Katie reached into her backpack for the long white envelope, and ended up pulling out the legal pad full of forgeries with it.

"Katherine!" Johanna scolded as she scooped up the tablet. "You were going to forge my name?"

For the first time, Kate was actually remorseful and hung her head. "I didn't think it was such a big deal. The school wasn't going to contact you, and I was doing the right thing. I was afraid you wouldn't understand and I'd get grounded. I didn't want to miss going to Opening Day with Dad next week."

"Come here Kate," her mother said.

Kate sat down in her mom's lap for the first time in years. Her mom just pulled her close and began to talk.

"I want you to know, that I'm not happy with you fighting. Physical violence never solves problems. But what upsets me more is that you were not only going to lie to your teacher by signing my name, but that you were going to hide something this important from you father and I. The truth can never hurt you. Your dad and I would support you. I understand about fighting for the underdog. I do it everyday and I can't tell you how proud I feel to know that you're prepared to defend those who can't defend themselves. If more people had that attitude, our world may not be the place it is today. But you need to figure out the best way to do that, and not with your fists. You need to go through the proper channels and get help from those in authority. Do you understand?"

"Yes Mom."

Johanna quickly read over the letter that was sent home and signed it. "I'm not going to ground you this time. I have a feeling the way that hand is swelling, that you'll be learning your lesson about fighting for a couple more days. But promise me that next time you find yourself in a tough situation that you come to Dad or me, or a teacher or police officer or someone. You don't have to fight these battles alone." Johanna paused to make sure Kate was really understanding what she was telling her. "Now let's get some ice on you before you swell up any more."

Young Beckett dutifully followed her mom out of the room.

Roy placed a protective arm around Kate. "You mom was a very wise woman. I see a lot of her in you."

Kate unsuccessfully tried to blink back a tear and then ended up swatting it away with the back of her hand.

"Do you know what ever happened to those boys?" he asked her.

"At first Jamie was kinda mad at me, or maybe embarrassed by me fighting for him, but he got over it pretty quick when he realized that no one knew about it. Grant certainly wasn't going to tell the school he had his ass handed to him by a fourth grade girl. By that summer, he became my first boyfriend, that is if you count watching Yankee games on TV and reading "Choose Your Own Adventure Books", dating. But he was also my first kiss. At the end of the summer, his dad got transferred upstate though and I've never seen him in person since, just on TV and billboards at election time."

"Are you saying that little Jamie Webster is now Senator James Webster?"

"One in the same."

"And Grant the bully?"

"Now it's Dr. Grant Mitchell, pediatric surgeon at Mt. Sinai. I actually ran into him a couple years ago while checking on a victim in one of my cases. He actually thanked me for bringing him down a peg. He said it was the last fight he'd ever been in. Apparently high school was good for him. He graduated Valedictorian, double majored at NYU and later got into a top med school."

"Funny how things work out, isn't?" Roy asked.

"Yeah, it is. Let's keep going."

This time Kate led the way out of the room, and down the hall to the kitchen.

XXXXXXXXXXX

The smell of ham frying met Beckett and Montgomery as they entered the next room. It was dark outside and the only light that was on in the kitchen, was in the hood over the stove. The counter radio was quietly playing a Matchbox 20 song that Kate was singing along too. Her hair was pulled into a messy knot on top of her head and she was wearing a Greenday T shirt, flannel boxer shorts and toe socks.

Seventeen year old Kate Beckett moved effortlessly around the kitchen, preparing the eggs and hash browns as naturally as if she'd been born cooking. English muffins popped up in the toaster just as she finished making the creamy Hollandaise sauce. Soon she was placing all the food together on one dish, making a perfect plate of Eggs Benedict. After putting the plate on the table and pouring 2 large mugs of coffee, Kate ran out of the kitchen for a moment before returning with the morning paper which she placed next to the steaming breakfast. Then she sat down in front of the second coffee cup and waited.

She didn't have to wait long though, because almost immediately the sound of footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs.

When Jim Beckett entered the kitchen in his slippers and thick blue robe, he stopped dead in his tracks and appraised the situation.

"You're up early this morning. I didn't think you had to be up for school for another hour."

"I don't. I just thought that with mom gone at the conference all week, you might appreciate some company this morning."

"Well Honey, I always love your company, but you didn't have to make me Eggs Benedict just to spend time with me." Jim shuffled over to his seat and took a long drink from the steaming mug.

"But they're your favorite, and I just though that maybe it would be a nice surprise!"

Jim put the mug down and looked at his daughter. The polite chitchat was over. It was time to cut to the chase. "What do you want, Katherine?"

Kate began to make an excuse, but her Dad saw through her and leveled her with a look that told her to get to the point.

"I want a motorcycle!"

Jim threw his head back and laughed. "That's a good one. I get it, ask for something ridiculous first and then your real request won't seem so absurd. What do you really want?"

Kate's face fell. "I want a motorcycle. I've had my license for over a year now and still don't have my own wheels. A car is expensive, so I thought a motorcycle was a good alternative."

"What do you need your own vehicle for? We live in New York City, public transportation will get you anywhere you want to go."

"Dad do you know how much time I could save with a motorcycle? Waiting for buses and trains and cabs take hours out of my day. Do you know how many times I've been late to work because the buses run late? It's not like I can get out of school any earlier!"

Jim picked up his fork and tasted his food for the first time. "Mmmm, delicious! You've turned into a great chef. Remind me to thank your mom for teaching you to cook."

"Stop changing topics, Dad. I'm serious about this. I've already got the money saved, and Nick has been teaching me on his bike."

The look of contempt that crossed Jim's face told Kate she'd gone too far. Her father already disliked her boyfriend, why she thought that telling him they rode his bike together, was a good idea, she'd never know.

"I'm assuming that by coming to me with the bribe means you think I'm an easier nut to crack than your mother."

"It's not that. I just thought you'd understand! I know you had a motor bike when you were my age. I've seen the pictures."

"That was different." Jim rubbed his face with his hands, trying to figure out what to do.

"Why? Because I'm a girl?"

Jim looked up immediately. "No Katherine. Not because you're a girl. Because it was a different word thirty years ago. Because I was living in a rural upstate farming town, not New York City. Because at the time I didn't have any other options!"

Kate looked deflated.

Jim ate his breakfast in silence.

Adult Kate sat down at the table next to her father, but then looked up at Roy. "I still can't believe he changed his mind. I've always thought that he figured my mom would veto it and then he wouldn't have to be the bad guy."

Montgomery smiled because he'd been in similar situations with his own kids.

After taking his last bite of food, Jim put his fork down and sat back to just stare at Kate. The clock in the hall ticked loudly as time passed.

"I suppose if I tell you no or to wait a couple more months until you're eighteen, you'll just go out and get one without us knowing, like you did with that tattoo of yours."

Mortified, the teen pulled her shirt lower of her behind. "How did you know about that?"

"Ahhh Katie, these things always have a way of being found out. This time it was when you went swim suit shopping last month with Mom. When you showed her one of them, she saw it sticking up over the material."

Kate's face turned completely red. She had no idea her parents knew. They'd never said anything. "Are you angry, Daddy?"

"I can't say that I'm pleased to know my little girl has a rose on her rear end, but what am I going to do about it? What's done is done. You're a teen. It's your job to rebel and explore the limits. I'm just glad it's nothing worse. As much as I'd love to pack you up and send you off to the nunnery at times, your mother would never let me hear the end of it, so I just stick it out and pray that the rest of your teen years pass uneventfully."

Now Kate was beginning to feel a nagging guilt over other things she'd done that perhaps her parents knew about. She was definitely starting to regret even asking about the bike. This wasn't going at all like she planned.

Jim took one last drink of coffee before standing. "You say you have the money?"

The teen was completely taken back by the change in her father's tone. She nodded her head wildly.

"If you can pay for it completely out of your own money... gas, repairs, insurance, helmet, everything, and if you take a safety course and get your motorcycle license, and most importantly, if your mother OK's it, then it's OK with me."

Kate flew into her father's arms. "Thank you Daddy! I promise I'll be really careful and take good care of it! I won't let you down."

"I know that Katie. If I didn't, I wouldn't have said yes."

"I've been eying an almost new Harley soft tail down at Benson's. Will you come with me after school to check it out?"

Jim couldn't help but smile. "We're just looking, not buying."

"I know!" Kate answered expectantly.

"How about I leave work a little early, pick you at school and then we can go look at it."

"After that, lets go grab some dinner at the Golden Dragon. My treat!"

He nodded and gave his not so little girl a big hug.

Jim kept his arm around Kate's shoulders as the pair left the room to begin getting ready for their day.

Roy clamped his hand on Beckett's shoulder. "Your father is a lot more understanding than I am. I don't think I would be nearly so calm if one of my girls wanted a motorcycle or secretly got a tattoo."

Kate turned and stood up again.

"My Dad is a good man. I wish we hadn't lost so much of the time we had together these last years, isolated by our own grief. I can only imagine what he's going through now that I'm gone too. I was shot right in front of him."

"Something tells me that he and Castle will console each other in whatever happens."

"They don't even know each other."

"So neither one of them told you?"

"What are you talking about Roy?"

"The night I called Castle to meet me at the hanger. I told him everything and I told him that I needed him to protect you because I couldn't anymore. His answer was that a lot of people seemed to be asking him to do that these days. Then he told me that your Dad went to him earlier in the week and told him how afraid he was for you, and that he knew the only one who could save you was Rick."

Kate was stunned. "That's why he came to my apartment. He was just doing what my Dad asked him to do. I thought that he... I thought it was him that was scared of losing me."

"Don't sell him short Kate. You know Castle. You know how he felt. And you know that he was just as scared for you as I was and your dad was. In some ways he had even more to lose. But he would rather lose his heart than to lose you."

"Now he's lost both," Kate said quietly. "Now both Rick and my Dad will live knowing they couldn't save me from myself."

"You're thinking too hard about this. None of this is your fault, and right now there's nothing we can change. Let's just keep going. Someone else will be waiting for you soon."

XXXXXXXXXXX

Together Roy and Kate climbed the stairway in the hall. When they reached the upper level, several closed doors surrounded the landing. One was plastered with yellow crime scene tape, a Yankee's pennant, a poster of the Saved By The Bell Cast, a neon bumper sticker that said "Boy Crazy" and a hanger on the door knob that said "Enter at your own risk!".

As they headed in the direction of that particular door, Roy piped up, "Let me guess. This must be your Dad's office."

Beckett laughed. "Hardly. I think after I hit thirteen he probably only stepped foot in here like three times. Oh, and I have no idea what it look like in here, so excuse the mess."

She turned the knob as she spoke and slowly opened the door. The room was completely dark. The shades were pulled and not a single light was on. At first they thought that maybe the room was empty, but then the soft snoring coming from the bed told them otherwise.

Kate went over to her desk and pulled out the chair, offering it to Roy. He sat down and she leaned on the wall waiting for whatever flashback from her life would come next.

Eventually the bedroom door opened again and this time Johanna entered. She immediately went to the window and the french doors and opened all the blinds and curtains. Bright sunlight which reflected off the white snow outside, streamed in, illuminating the entire room. Kate moaned and buried herself deeper under the covers.

Johanna walked around the room picking up stray items of clothes and threw them on top of the open suitcase in the closet.

When the room was tidy, she went and sat on her daughter's bed and patted her back. "Kate Honey, I know it's your first day home on Christmas break but don't you think it's time to get up?"

"Can't I sleep until at least nine?"

"Sweetie, nine was three hours ago. It's past noon."

"Really?"

"Yes really, and I took today off so that we could spent some time together. I've missed you."

Kate finally sat up. Her hair stuck out in every direction and she was having a hard time keeping her eyes open. "Mom, I see you every two weeks when I bring home laundry."

"True, but the whole time you're hear, you're usually either studying or on the phone. It's been a long time since we just spent the day together."

Kate stretched and threw back the blankets. "Fine. I'm up. But I'm going to need coffee before I can do anything else."

"How about, you get dressed and we can stop for coffee on our way out? I was thinking maybe we could head to Rockefeller Center for some ice skating and then do a little Christmas shopping." Kate's mom was already in the closet pulling out a red turtleneck and brown leggings. When she stepped back out, she tossed them on the bed

Kate looked in the mirror. "I cannot leave looking like this. Have you seen my hair?"

Johanna grabbed a hairbrush and some elastic bands from the dresser. "Come sit next to me on the bed. I'll braid your hair for you like when you were a little girl."

Kate wanted to argue but couldn't when she saw the excitement in her mother's eyes. "On one condition Mom."

"What is it?"

"Tonight when Dad comes home, we put on some Christmas music, make cocoa and decorate the tree."

Johanna's smile was radiant. "You drive a hard bargain counselor, but I think we can agree to your terms."

After Kate's hair was done, she grabbed her clothes and headed for the bathroom to finish getting ready.

Johanna lagged behind, while she took a long look around the room. She picked up a stuffed elephant from the bed and hugged it close before speaking aloud to no one in particular. "My little girl is all grown up. Before I know it, she'll get married and have kids. Where does the time go?"

Kate left the Captain's side and reached out to touch her mom, but she never felt her.

Johanna put the toy back before leaving the room, leaving Kate and Montgomery alone again.

"Three weeks later on the last weekend of winter break, she was killed. That was the last time we ever had a girl's day out."

"I bet these happy memories are what kept you going sometimes," Roy stated quietly.

"All the time."

For a long while neither of them spoke. Kate walked around her old room inspecting things, recalling other memories, but never talking. Roy allowed her the space and time she needed, knowing that soon enough she'd be ready to move on.

When she finally did say something, it wasn't what he expected. "Roy I wanna go back! Every time we go somewhere new, we go forward in time. If we go forward again she'll be gone."

"We can't go back Kate. We can only go forward."

"No! I won't go. I've lived that already. It took years to come to terms with her death. If I walk into a new room, my mom is dead and my dad might as well be. Do you know how long it took for him to sober up and be the man I needed him to be?"

"So are you saying that after your mom died, there was nothing left in you life worth living for?"

"No. It's just that those scars have started to heal. I don't want to rip them open again."

"Even if we could go back to that time when you were little and playing the piano, could you live in that moment forever and still be happy? How long would that be enough?"

Beckett couldn't answer. She didn't know what to say because she didn't like any of the answers.

Instead, she went back to her bedroom door and walked out into the hall. But instead of seeing the upstairs of her childhood home, she only saw inky, consuming black. In every direction it was the same. No matter how hard she walked or ran, it was always black except for the doorway leading back into her room.

Finally she went went back in and laid on her bed. Neither she or Roy spoke for a long time.

At one point, Kate thought she heard music coming from somewhere but couldn't place it. She cocked her head and listened intently but it was already gone.

More time passed before she sat up.

"You can't take me back? Even for a little while?"

"I can't do anything Kate. I'm just along for the ride."

"I don't know what to do, Roy."

"There's only one thing to do, Kate. You pick yourself up and move on."

Another long time passed.

"Where do I go next? When I went in the hall there was nothing left."

"Then find a new door."

The door to the hall was still open and had nothing but desolate void beyond it. The door to her closet stood open and went nowhere either. The only door left was the set of french doors leading out onto the snow white balcony.

With one last look, Kate moved to the door, turned the handle and stepped out into the light. When she looked back to see if Montgomery was close behind her, there was nothing there. No door, no room, no Roy.