Kate Beckett was heartbroken when she learned that she would no longer be able to meet the physical fitness requirements to be a New York City Police Detective. When the sniper's bullet had fragmented on impact with her rib cage, it had spared her heart from serious damage, which saved her life, but one of the larger fragments had lodged in the lower corner of her left lung and the operation to remove it had cost her a quarter of her lung capacity on that side. At first, when Dr. Corday had explained to her that she would likely never be able to return to work, she flat out refused to believe it.

With Rick's unflinching support, she worked herself to the bone over the course of that summer pushing herself hard every day, even though she was unable to run as fast or for as long, and she found herself out of breath a lot more often than she used to be. In her heart she knew something was wrong with her physically, but she was stubborn, and she was prideful and she wanted her gold shield back, wanted back what William Bracken's hired sniper had taken from her.

Sadly for her, it was not meant to be.

The day she took the NYPD physical fitness exam and failed it, Kate was inconsolable. She shut herself in her room at the loft, cried herself to sleep and didn't get out of bed for three days. It was like her entire world had come crashing down and taken everything from her.

Richard Rodgers took a month of unpaid leave from the FBI to stay with her. No matter how many times she told him to go away and leave her alone, he refused to let her give up on life. He made sure she got out of bed, exercised and ate. Made her go outside in the sunshine until gradually she realized that her life was not over, that he loved her, and would support her in whatever she wanted to do next.

Not long after that, he took her out to dinner at Le Cirque, got down on one knee and slipped an engagement ring on her finger, in a proposal that was both big and intimate. Kate burst into tears when she said yes, and so did he. It had been a step in their relationship that had been a long time coming.

That fall, Kate was officially honorably discharged from the NYPD, with the thanks of a grateful city for over a decade of faithful service. The position of lead detective for the 12th Precinct Homicide Squad was offered to both Javier Esposito and to Kevin Ryan, but both of them declined out of deference to their friend. It just didn't feel right to either of them.

In the end the promotion was granted to Detective First Class Sydney Bristow, who had since severed her ties with the CIA. Serving two masters had never appealed to her, so Richard Webb was true to his word and let her go without argument now that her current assignment had been completed. She had the fresh start she had wanted when this whole business began, and had the full support of what was now her team.

Including her partner, Detective Third Class Ann Hastings, who had hung up the Lone Vengeance costume for good after the incident in the parking garage, so her writer, Paul Whitaker merely rebooted his series with a retooled Lone Vengeance. Kick ass detective by day, and superhero by night. They were married the following summer.

Pursuant to Executive Order 13599, the President of the United States secretly reinstated Project Archangel to active status. As he was now too prominent a public figure to lead such a clandestine organization not to mention unconfirmed sources in government circles stated he had been seen in the company of Broadway diva Martha Rodgers, with rumors in the tabloids that they had been dating for months, and an engagement ring had recently exchanged hands, Richard Webb appointed a successor in his place.

A charismatic, shrewd, hard charging woman named Jessica Bennet, who had risen in the clandestine services over the past decade, seemingly from out of nowhere. But then again, so had Webb once upon a time, according to unofficial reports which were sketchy at best. She would have to work out her personal demons just like he did, and maybe one day he hoped she would be able to get back the family she had walked away from to keep them safe. He hoped she wouldn't make the same mistake he did, and wait four decades.

As is the way of such things, Special Agent Richard Rodgers' tenure as the FBI liaison for the NYPD came to an end and he was being offered several different options for advancement. One of which was the job of Deputy Director which would require him to relocate back to Washington DC. Another was as the Director of the New York City Field office. which sparked the following conversation:

"Kate this is a pretty big step." Rick said, still unsure if he was ready to go back to DC.

"I know, Rick." Kate replied as she looked longingly out the window at a city that had been her home for her entire life.

Rick looked up from where he was sitting, at the forlorn look on her face, got up from his desk and sat next to her on the couch.

"I know it's hard contemplating leaving after living here for so long." He said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close.

"It isn't just that, Rick," Kate replied, "but I've been independent for so long, and I'm not sure I can be just an FBI agent's wife. Just sit at home either here or in DC, worried about that day when you don't come home...when..." she trailed of as her tears took over, because she knew how dangerous the job could be, even in the upper echelons, and now she wouldn't be at his side when he was out there.

"I have an idea." he whispered in her ear. When he explained it to her, she looked at him incredulously, as if he had suddenly grown another head.

"Are you sure?" she asked timidly, unsure of herself for the first time in her life.

"Absolutely." Rick replied.


Six Months Later

Black Pawn Publishing presents:

Heat Wave

By Katherine Beckett

Coming this fall to booksellers everywhere!

Katherine Beckett Rodgers attended the official launch for Heat Wave not long after the advertisement came out with her husband Richard Rodgers, director of the New York Field Office for the FBI on her arm. She still couldn't believe that her first novel was coming out to rave reviews.

She had been hesitent at the beginning, in spite of all of his reassurances to the contrary that he was enthusiastic about her taking up his old profession. One that caused him far too much pain to ever contemplate taking up again himself. No matter how hard he tried, he just found himself unable to summon the words. In the end, she decided if he could not find the words, then she would find them for him.

She had chosen the name of her protagonist, Nikki Heat from the name Rick had given the file folder for her mother's case on his smart board all those years ago. She thought it sounded like a stripper name, but in the end she found it fitting to have a small piece of Richard Castle in her first novel, just like she had had in her real life. Along with her unofficial partner, Jameson Rook, a maverick, exiled FBI Agent, Nikki and her team investigated murder, and fought criminal scum in the City of New York.

It went on to become an international best seller within a day of opening sales, spawning another three books in the series and a deal with Black Pawn for more. She went on to consult on cases for both the NYPD and the FBI and later wrote a tell all account of the Armen/Beckett murders. It was at times like these that she tended to miss her mother the most. She knew her mom would be proud of her success and she wished that she could share it with her.

Though Kate never seemed to get a good look at her, a nondescript strawberry blonde in her early fifties made a brief appearance at every one of her book launch parties, observing from the shadows with a proud, but forlorn expression on her face. Paula Haas, her publicist had taken to calling her "The Gray Lady" for the color of the suits she wore.

It was the closest Jessica Bennet would allow herself to get to her old life. She had enemies of her own now, ones who would have no qualms about coming at her sideways through her family if they knew she had any. It wasn't enough, but it would have to be enough for now.

Her daughter was safe, and she was happy. That was all that mattered.