Through The Looking Glass
They carried Captain Montgomery's flag draped coffin from the hearse to it's place over his grave. The pipe and drum corps preceding them to the tapping of drums. The four of them who knew him best and kept his dark secret between them would lay their beloved Captain, their friend, their mentor to rest. In spite of everything, he would be missed. Kate Beckett stepped up to the podium and began her eulogy.
"Roy Montgomery taught me what it meant to be a cop.
He taught me that we are bound by our choices, but we are more than our mistakes."
Her words were clipped in that manner of speaking she used when she was trying very hard to keep her emotions in check. Though she meant every word, Castle could see the conflict in her body language, see the war going on behind her eyes as she continued speaking of the legacy that she would have wanted her mentor and substitute father figure to leave behind, but was forever shattered for her. She had forgiven him, but she could never forget what he had done. What he had been a part of.
"And if you're very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you"
Kate paused and looked over at Rick Castle when she said it, hoping to convey absolution and "I'm sorry" with a single look.
As she finished her eulogy, a mirrored glint caught Castle's eye off in the distance. A flash of metal that was incongruous with the sea of marble and grass, something menacing, a shadow behind one of the grave markers. He immediately swept across the the remaining distance between him and Kate and leaped for her, catching her in the midsection in a flying tackle as the loud crack of a high powered sniper rifle broke the silence.
"Castle!" Kate shouted, "What the hell!" But, there was no reply, she felt something wet as she rolled out from under Rick Castle's dead weight.
"Castle!" she cried out again as she rolled him over and her white gloves came back dark red.
"Castle, wake up! Please!" She cried out and shook him.
He moaned and his eyes fluttered open. They were dilated and unfocused. She could hear Alexis screaming somewhere behind her, but Lanie and Espo held her down, kept her out of the possible line of fire.
"Rick! Stay with me, please!" She cried out to him desperately.
"Kate..." He mumbled as though half asleep, as she desperately tried to staunch the blood coming out of the wound in his chest. He reached up and grabbed the lapel of her uniform, she looked down into his eyes and just before the light faded from them,
"I love you, Kate"
Twice he had gone into fibrillation on the ambulance as Kate looked on in horror, and twice Lanie had brought him back from the brink of death. The paramedics worked to stabilize him, tried to keep the worst of the bleeding under control. She worked frantically, like a woman possessed. She knelt over him covered in his blood keeping his heart beating seemingly through willpower alone.
"Richard Castle, don't you die on me, you son of a bitch!"
Kate tried to keep up with the paramedics as they wheeled him into the OR but she could barely keep one foot moving in front of another. She dropped into a chair in the waiting room, pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them and began to cry.
"It's all my fault" she said quietly.
Martha Rodgers sat down next to her, put a hand on her shoulder and said "Kate Beckett, don't you dare blame yourself, you are not the one who shot him!"
"But I am the one he was shooting at" Kate said her voice hollowed out, she had nothing left. "Alexis could lose her father because I couldn't let this goddamn case go." and burst into another fit of tears on Martha's shoulder.
Kate didn't didn't know what to expect when she approached the door to Rick's room. Though he'd only been in the ICU for one night, to her it had felt like an eternity, the last words he had said to her before he faded out were still ringing in her ears, twisting in her heart like a knife in her heart.
"Kate...I love you."
As much as she wanted to confess her love for him, kiss him and be with him forever, her one and done, she knew what she had to do.
She knew it and she hated herself for it.
Rick visibly brightened when she came into the room, and her heart felt like it had been gripped in gauntlet of ice.
They made small talk for a few minutes, as Martha and Alexis retreated to give them privacy. As soon as the door closed behind them her expression turned to stone.
"Rick we can't do this anymore. Your family can't afford to lose you, I can't have you shadow me any more. If you try to go to Mayor Weldon, I'll transfer out." she said with no trace of the crushing guilt she felt in her heart left in her voice.
"But Kate, I..." Rick tried to say, but she silenced him with glare.
"No Rick, don't," she said "I told you we were done, and I meant it. Don't come back."
Then she turned on her heel and walked briskly out the door. As soon as it closed behind her, her cold demeanor evaporated. She cast a mournful glance at Martha and Alexis and as she passed them, she said, "He said he loved me, but I'm a poison to him, I destroy everything I touch. He's better off without me." and then walked away. As soon as the elevator doors closed in front of her she she slid down to the floor and broke down her sobs echoing in the confined space.