The Root of All Evil
A/N: Here it is everyone, the end of RoAE. It has been a fun (if angsty) ride. As always, thank you for all of your love and support. A special thank you to klindsey for the shout outs and getting me new readers and to my new Beta Deb838. You are awesome. :)
Keep your eyes peeled for Canivale, it will be out shortly. There is a sneak peek at the end ;)
Kate stared through the bars of the jail cell, quietly watching Laura sleep on the hard wooden bench, her back turned towards the world. She turned back towards Demming, resting back against the metal as she crossed her arms over her chest. The man was standing, leaning back against the edge of the desk, mirroring her posture.
"She's been punished enough, Tom. Just let her go."
Demming sighed. "I let her go and they will kill her. You know those miners, they are an unruly bunch, drunks the lot of them. She killed a man they respected. I have enough trouble keeping them in line now, if I let her go…"
Kate leaned her head back, a hand coming up to rub over her eyes. She was tired, oh so tired. "When the general gets back he can pardon her. He's done it before. Delay trial until then."
"Demming regarded her for a moment. "Deal. I will need to wait for a new prosecutor, anyway."
Kate nodded in agreement, before continuing. "She gets three squares a day, private bathing time and the freedom of time out of her cell with an escort. And after General Johnson returns, you are stepping down and Esposito is taking over as sheriff."
Demming raised an eyebrow. "Not you?"
Kate ducked her head. "No, not me. I need time. Esposito will take over."
"Agreed, but I will still be in charge of the law at the mine. You aren't getting rid of me that easily Sheriff."
Kate smirked. "Of course not, where would the fun in that be?"
Kate pushed herself off of the bars, placing her hat back onto her head as she took a step towards the door.
Kate paused as a small voice sounded from behind her, turning back to see Laura sitting up on the bench, staring up at her, arms wrapped around her knees, which were pulled up to her chest.
"Have you heard from my mother?"
Kate sighed as she pulled her hat from her head and stepped back towards the cell. The untouchable Amanda Stevenson; as far as Laura knew, her mother had had nothing to do with any of this situation, and God help her, Kate was willing to keep it that way.
"We haven't been able to reach her, sweetheart. We've tried."
And they had. Gina had sent a telegram the other day. She and Port were even talking of going back to New York for a while. Kate had told them what Stevenson had said about Amanda being in on the scheme to free Bryant and frame Kate for Rick's death but there was no proof, everyone with proof was dead.
She was, in a sense, untouchable. For now. But Kate had the feeling that she had not heard the last of Amanda Stevenson, and she sure as hell, was going to let the Amanda know that she had not heard the last of Kate Beckett.
Laura nodded, breathing back the unshed tears gathering in her eyes and Kate nodded at her with a reassuring smile before plopping her hat back on her head, once again, turning towards the door.
Kate paused again, tilting her head around to look at the girl. "Yes, Laura?"
"Thank you, for everything."
Kate simply winked at her, before turning to push her way out through the doors, and into the blinding light of the Colorado afternoon. Summer was in full swing and it had brought the blistering, dry, heat with it, making Kate's skin feel like it was burning through the thin cloth of her long sleeved shirt as she walked across the dirt road, but she welcomed the heat, the burn, against her skin; it was another reminder that she was here, she was alive.
The baby fluttered in her belly, and she placed a firm hand against it, rubbing it soothingly as she made her way up the stairs and through the door of the saloon.
It was quiet, a couple of locals sat at the bar, nursing their drinks of choice. Another man sat, slouched, in a chair in the corner, his head resting back against the wall, a trail of saliva working its way down his chin to pool on the collar of his yellowing shirt. Kate crinkled her nose at him before turning to find her father behind the bar, polishing a glass. She lifted her hand in a wave as she rounded the bar and walked into his arms that were wide open for a hug.
"Hello, Katie," Jim greeted with a kiss to her cheek, before pulling back to regard his daughter, his hands still gripping her shoulders. "How are you doing?"
"I'm all right, Papa," Kate replied, her chin dipping slightly in attempt to hide behind her lie.
"Katie…" Jim chided.
Kate sighed. She had always been the worst liar. "I'm getting better. I'm eating more. Rick and I are talking of taking a trip to Denver soon; get away for a little while. I've been sleeping better."
The statement was closer to the truth.
It had been a week since Stevenson had been shot, and the first time Alexis and Rick had let Kate out of their sight for more than five minutes at a time. Not that Kate was complaining; she had enjoyed the company, someone to calm her from flinching at every small sound. She still had to force her body not to tense when Rick touched her, and even though she could kiss him sometimes, she had to be the one to initiate it and she still couldn't take it any further. They had tried, once, and he had held her while she had sobbed out apologies, curled in the middle of their bed, after she had pleaded at him to stop the moment his hand crept up under her shirt and she had felt him hardening against her thigh.
But now, in the light of day, with the world around, she could not allow herself to cry, to show any weakness. No, here, with everyone watching, she was fine, she was getting better. She gave her father a small, reassuring smile.
"I have to go," she stated quietly, as she backed towards the doorway. "I left Rick and Daniel to work on the house, Alexis is supervising but I'm still worried and Lanie said she wants to examine the baby before I head back."
Jim sighed at his daughter's attempt at humor, shaking his head as he picked up another glass to polish. "I love you, Katie, you know that, right? No matter what."
Kate nodded as she glanced back at her father, one last time before pushing the door open. "I know Papa."
Lanie stared at her, arms crossed, lips pursed, as Kate sat on the edge of the bed. "Stop bullshitting me Kate Beckett, how are you feeling?"
Kate sighed as her 'I'm fine' mantra failed to work on her best friend. "I'm…"
"And if you say you are fine one more time, I am going to smack you, pregnant or not."
Kate let out another resigned sigh.
"I keep having nightmares, I wake up in the middle of the night if I can fall asleep at all in the first place, I eat but only because I have to, not because I want to and…" Her voice trailed off as her hands twisted in her lap. "I should have killed him."
"I could have done it. I had the time. I could have gotten the gun, he wasn't holding me very hard. I should have tried to get away, Lanie. I should have tried harder. I could have negotiated. I let him…"
"You lived, Kate. There was no guarantee you could have gotten the gun or gotten away and then you would both be dead and so would Rick."
Kate sighed again. "I just…"
"I know, sweetie, but you are still here, I would say healthy, but we still need to work on that, and your baby is healthy. She's strong Kate and she won't judge you. She knows you did this for her and you know that, too."
Kate nodded. "She's okay?"
Lanie smiled softly at her friend. "She's better than okay, she's one of the strongest babies I've felt, just like her mama. How's the nausea?"
"Good. I'm going to have another conversation with Eustice. You will be eating better than anyone in the west until this baby is born."
"Lanie…" Kate let out a pained groan.
"No whining, you are loved around here, Kate Beckett, let us take care of you for once in your stubborn life."
Kate sighed. She was loved? It hadn't felt like that a week ago, but that wasn't fair, was it? Her friends had still fought for her.
"It's Castle now, Lanie. Kate Castle."
Lanie let a girly giggle slip as Kate flashed a smile up at her. "So it is. Mrs. Castle. You're married."
"The poor bastard."
"Lanie!" Kate squeaked, flailing out a hand to slap her friend gently on the arm. "Don't you start, Mrs. Esposito."
Kate paused, her jaw falling open at her friend's revelation. "Lanie?"
"Javier proposed last night."
Yes, finally. Finally, things were starting to go well in Colorado Springs.
Coming soon: 4th in the Western Series: Carnivale.
The circus is coming to Colorado Springs.
Kate's hand came up to press against her back, her nine-month pregnant belly protruding out in front of her. Her eyes went wide and she stared at the woman standing across from her. Slowly, she turned her head to look up at Rick, who was standing beside her with the same gob smacked expression on his face.
"What do you mean we're not actually married?"