CHAPTER ONE

Lightning flashed outside the main office room. The desk lamp flickered as the rain beat against the windows abruptly.

Detective Kate Beckett quit writing and walked to the window in the meeting room.

She could barely see the street below, but the trees were dancing in the wind.

A hell of a storm, she thought.

She was startled when her office phone rang.

"Beckett," she answered. "Esposito? I thought you had this important thing that couldn't wait until after the paperworks? She walked back to her office desk while he made himself an excuse.

"I was about to call it a night, what can I do for you?" She looked at the time and took her coat off the chair. "The murder weapon for the Murdock case? Hmm, yeah, hold on, I'll get the ME's preliminary report." She walked to her partner's desk, looked over the papers on his desk and found the ME's file. It was only a few pages thick. "Espo-? Yeah. ME seems really uncertain about it, he writes 'body is covered in bruises and knife wounds, suggesting fatal stabbing or fight.' Actually, no wait, that's not right. I think we're looking at multiple potential murder weapons. Yeah. Okay, knife, baseball bat and … firearm. Why, what have you found?" Beckett heard the tick sound in the phone indicating the second line was on hold. "Esposito, I'll have to call you back."

She listened to the dispatch women, but with the storm outside, she had trouble hearing her clearly.

"I'm sorry Dispatch, say that again?"

Tonight, she just wanted to go home and call it a day. The week had been full of long, long hours, a lot of work and very little sleep. She did not want to take that call.

Unlucky for her, dispatch reported a unit requesting back up over a possible breaking and entering.

"Well, get Robbery over there, this isn-" She told the dispatcher.

However, at the mention of 'a lot of blood', it gave her a new perspective. This story might be interesting after all.

"Alright, alright. I'll have a look at it. 'Kay, let me just-"

She jammed the telephone handset between her ear and shoulder. She found a pencil and flipped her notepad on a new page. Beckett wrote down a few keywords while the information was fresh.

"Where's this you said? Soho? Wait a sec!" She stopped writing. "That's not even in the precinct's-"

As she heard the address, the pencil fell from her hand and onto the floor.

Interest morphed into commitment and fear overtook her excitement.

O.o.O.o.O

Paramedics transferred the body from one stretcher to the other and ran the wounded men inside the hospital's emergency unit with the medical staff. In trauma, nurses opened two intravenous accesses in both of the man's arms as the doctor on call assessed the patient's physical condition. Replacing the stethoscope on his neck he looked at the late hour on the clock.

"Call the OR; this man needs surgery. Who's the surgeon on call tonight?"

"Dr Davidson, sir."

"Good, wake him up and get him down here"

The monitor's alarm went off. The nurse silenced it. "BP is dropping fast," she said, "blood loss is too massive, tourniquet's not holding"

"Get him two units of O neg. Stat."

"Glasgow 8, sir."

"Damn it, get him up to surgery now. Do we have an ID on this man? Medical history? Known allergy? Get everything we have to surgery. Have we reached the family yet?"

"No sir, we don't know who he is," said a nurse.

"Sir, crossmatch came back, patient is AB positive," mentioned another nurse with the printed file in hand.

"Good. Switch him for two units of AB positive," he told the second nurse. "What d'you mean we don't know who this guy is?"

"He had no ID on him."

"He was shot at home and nobody cared to pick up an ID? That's just great."

Doctor Josh Davidson entered the service, after the patient was sent to OR. He yawned loudly. "What d'we have?" He opened the file placed in his hands.

"John Doe, shot at home, heavy bleeding from a GSW to the right upper arm, he's holding up but BP is low. He's stable for now" said the emergency doctor.

Dr Davidson nodded at the doctor's word. He continued to read.

"Apparently he called the ambulance himself but was unconscious when EMT arrived. We know nothing more," completed the ER doctor.

Dr Davidson had a quick look around. "Where is he now?"

"Upstairs; waiting for you. You okay? Not awake yet? Have a cup of coffee, son." Dr Davidson quickly rubbed his eyes with his hand.

"I'm fine, thanks. Okay," He said after cracking his neck, "Anything else I should know?"

"There's two units of blood ongoing, and we patched him up the best we could but the brachial artery was hit; it's bloody"

O.o.O.o.O

Detectives Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito were already on the crime scene when she stepped into Richard Castle's apartment. When he saw her, Detective Esposito, forbid her to walk in and he invited her back in the hallway, outside the apartment.

"You got here fast" she said.

"You sure you're okay with this?" he asked instead.

"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"

Kate Beckett wasn't ready, nor okay with it. Normally, arriving on a crime scene, she would take a few minutes to close her eyes and clear her head. When she attempted to do so while parked in front of the author's and ex-partner's apartment block, she couldn't focus. She was about to investigate a crime scene at Castle's apartment and he was nowhere to be found. Of course, she wasn't thinking straight, but what was she suppose to do? On her way to the crime scene, she tried the author's phone.

No answer.

Same with all Rogers' phones; the mother and the daughter would not pick up either. Her gut instinct told her this was wrong. Very wrong.

"It's been two weeks since the two of you last talked, Beck, don't let it mess with your head," said Esposito.

Two weeks, she thought. Already? Two weeks since Castle's official request to Captain Victoria Gates to be reassigned to another Homicide detective. He needed to cool off, he had said. Their last case, the TakeOver bombing, had him thinking things over. The next morning; he was gone. She did not know how long his new partnership lasted and she did not want to know.

During that last case, she did sense something off about him, although she could not say what.

The chair next to her desk at the precinct disappeared shortly after his departure. Apparently, Ryan had borrowed it one morning and it simply broke down.

"I swear, I placed only a few files on it and the next thing I knew, I was on my knees trying to put the papers back in the right files. Took me all morning," Ryan has said when she asked about the incident. "Seriously Beckett, Esposito saw it all. Right man?"

"Absolutely," backed up the second half of their duo. "My man here was on the floor gathering his mess, when our Captain Sunshine got out of her office and stopped right in front of him. We all should kneel down before our Captain. Very respectful," then he burst out into laughter.

She did not missed the opportunity to tell them to be more respectful of Captain Gates, and did not believe a word of their story. However, she didn't ask for a new chair in replacement.

"You're sweet Espo, but I'm a grown woman, I can handle it like any other case," said Beckett stepping back in the bloody crime scene, in front of her disapproving partner.

"Oh-hey, Beckett?" he said to stop her from stepping inside again. "Don't push it, 'kay. For all we know, nobody died."

She nodded and, ready or not, she entered the crime-scened apartment.