Authors Note: I know this idea has been done before but I intend to take it in directions that I don't believe have been done so please give it a chance! I intend to bring a lot of emotion and elements of danger, along with the usual romance of Castle and Beckett. So stick with me if you will as I make a foray into the world of drama. Set after Undead Again.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Chapter 1 – Somebody That I Used To Know
'Now you're just somebody that I used to know' – Gotye
Meagan Stevens leaned against the kitchen counter in her small home in Wyoming. The table was strewn with papers waiting to be graded but she was procrastinating. She just didn't feel like grading papers tonight, so she stood with a mug of tea in her hands, allowing the small television sitting on the end of the counter draw her attention to national headlines. She sipped her tea as a newscaster switched stories.
"In New York City this morning, an officer was shot at the funeral of her Captain."
The statement grabbed her attention more than any of the other stories and she moved closer and turned up the volume.
"NYPD Detective Kate Beckett was shot by a sniper as she eulogized her Captain, Roy Montgomery…"
"No. No!" she cried as she heard the name and a picture of the young woman flashed on the screen. The mug slide from her hands crashing to the floor and shattering, the hot liquid that it had held splashing her bare feet but she didn't register the sensation.
"…shot in the chest and was rushed to a nearby hospital where she is listed in critical conditional."
The words were echoing in her brain as she began to shake, her eyes never leaving the picture on the screen, a picture of a young woman who looked a lot like her.
"…Some of you may recognize the name of Kate Beckett as she is the inspiration of the popular Nikki Heat mystery series by Bestselling Author Richard Castle. The shooter remains at large…."
The newscaster droned on reading statements from the 12th precinct and the Mayor but the words were barely making sense as they filtered through her mind.
The picture of Kate Beckett faded away and the newscaster moved on to other stories but Meagan didn't here any of it. The last story was still running through her mind and ringing in her ears.
'Shot in the chest…critical condition…Nikki Heat….'
Her stomach twisted into a thousand knots and it threatened to turn on her at any moment as the room spun before her eyes. She slid to the floor, tears running down her face.
She knew Kate Beckett, but not as Nikki Heat although she had read the books and had devoured every tidbit she had gleaned about her through magazine articles and following the author on his website and other social media. Kate Beckett was so much more to her than a cop, or the inspiration of a book.
She forced herself off the floor, her unsteady feet carrying her to the table where she grabbed her purse from where it rested on a chair. She dumped the contents out on the table, her fingers fumbling clumsily as she tore her wallet apart in search of the card that had been hidden away. Meagan grabbed her phone and punched in the number and forced herself to be calm as she went through the channels to get the person she wanted on the line.
"Ms. Stevens," the agent said gravely as if he had been expecting her call.
"I want to know what's happened to my daughter and I want to know now!" she demanded.
He gave a slight sigh of exasperated patience. "Ms. Stevens…," he said again and she knew what was coming. He'd tell her that it was better not to know, that knowing would be of no use to her but she wasn't playing that game this time. Not when her daughter was possibly dying.
"No," she stated firmly. "My name isn't Ms. Stevens; it's Beckett! Johanna Beckett; and I want to know what's happened to my daughter and I want answers now or I swear to god I'll get on a plane and go to New York and find out for myself."
"I wouldn't advise that," Agent Jenkins stated firmly.
"Then you better get me some answers," she demanded.
"Give me an hour," he replied. "I'll call you back."
Johanna ended the call and laid her phone down and swiped at the tears on her face before retrieving her laptop. She'd give Agent Jenkins an hour, but in the meantime she would search for a flight to New York just in case he didn't call back. Her mind reeled and her stomach still felt as though it were tied into knots. Five minutes before the deadline her phone rang and she snatched it before the first ring had been completed.
"The bullet nicked her heart but the damage has been repaired and she's made it through surgery although it was touch and go at times and she lost a lot of blood," Agent Jenkins stated. "She's still listed in critical condition but she's stable now and they feel confident that she will make a full recovery."
She released the breath that she had been holding. "Is my husband with her?" she asked quietly.
"Is he safe?"
"Why did this happen?" she asked. "Why did someone try to kill my daughter?"
"Ms. Stevens," he stated with exasperation.
"It's Beckett," she replied; her tone brokering no nonsense. "And there is a flight to New York in the morning," she threatened.
"That wouldn't be in your best interest or your daughter's."
"Then start talking."
By the time she hung up the phone she had been informed of the situation. More tears fell. This was all her fault. Her child was lying in a hospital with a bullet hole in her because of her, because she was chasing this thing that had sent her into hiding. She was looking for justice, wanted her mother's killer to pay for his crime and now she had almost lost her life because she didn't know the truth. She didn't know that her mother was alive.
Johanna thought of Jim, thought of him sitting beside their child in a hospital room. He must be going through hell. She knew she was. Twelve years…Twelve years she had been living this lie in order to stay alive and tonight she couldn't bear it. She'd trade places with her daughter in a heartbeat. She still remembered the day she had been whisked away, of how she had cried the entire way knowing that her family was being fooled into believing that she had been murdered. She should've known that Katie wouldn't let it be. Katie always had to have an answer; Katie always needed the whole story.
She had cried every night the whole first year away from them. Shed her tears in the darkness as she lay in a bed that seemed too cold and empty without her husband next to her. During the day she went through the motions of living, of becoming Meagan Stevens instead of Johanna Beckett; adjusting to the quieter life of Wyoming instead of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, teaching a pre-law course at a small university instead of arguing cases in a courtroom. She had never been able to act as though she hadn't been married; her new friends assumed that she was a widow due to her evasiveness and her avoidance of dating, despite the interest of a fellow professor named Jack Dalton. Jack was a good man, honest and caring but she couldn't be in a relationship with him and she had to tell him that she would accept his friendship but nothing more. He was still around in the capacity of a friend but there was always that little glint of hope that he carried in his eyes that she'd change her mind, but she wouldn't. She was still married, still in love with her husband and she wasn't going to be unfaithful to him.
Three years into her new life she had accidently let it slip that she had a daughter. She realized her mistake as soon as the words had crossed her lips. Her friends tried to pry it out of her but she had clammed up and refused to discuss the matter. They assumed that she had lost her child as well. Johanna didn't like having people think that her husband and daughter were dead but what else could she do? She couldn't tell the truth, and most of the time she didn't know the truth of how her family was or where they were or what they were doing. Ten years had passed before she caught a glimpse of Kate via an article in Cosmopolitan. She had been flipping through the magazine as she stood in line at the market, her interest piqued by the picture of an author that she sometimes read on the cover. Suddenly her daughter's face materialized on the glossy page and she had almost cried out in surprise. She purchased the magazine and made it home before she broke down in tears.
She had stared at that magazine photo for an hour that day, studying Kate, drinking in her first glimpse of her in over a decade. She looked so different in some ways; her hair was shorter and her eyes didn't hold the sparkle that she remembered. Once she knew that Richard Castle was with her daughter on what sounded like a daily basis she made sure to read and follow everything possible about him in hopes of catching glimpses into Kate's life. She searched her name on a weekly basis, printed off articles that mentioned her and photos of her from book release parties. It eased the pain slightly to be able to see her in some ways. She only wished that she could so easily find information about her husband.
That night as she laid awake in the darkness, her heart heavy and her mind twisted with worry, she cried. She cried for Katie and prayed and begged god to allow her to recover. She cried for Jim; could easily feel his anguish as well as her own and she cried for herself, at the feeling of helplessness that wrapped around her like a suffocating vice that couldn't be loosened. She wanted to be with them. She wanted to take care of her daughter. She wanted to lean on her husband and have him tell her that everything would be alright.
Johanna had always thought that as the years went by, that being separated from them would get easier but it didn't. It only grew harder; especially now and she didn't know how much longer she could carry on in this farce that she lived. Every time she closed her eyes that night the image of Kate's face on the television screen flashed in her mind, the newscaster's words echoing in her head on an endless loop and she wished in those moments that she could rewind time and keep all of this from happening or that her supposed murder had been real so that she wouldn't have to carry the guilt of knowing that Kate had been hurt because she was pursuing justice on her behalf.
A year later she was still reeling, unable to put her thoughts of Kate and the shooting behind her. The feelings of longing and need to be with her family just wouldn't let go of her. She knew that Kate was fine, that she had been back at work since September and had obviously fully recovered but it didn't ease her worries. She was distracted, her thoughts always drifting and the people around her were starting to worry.
"Meg, are you alright?" her friend Carolyn asked her on an almost daily basis.
She always smiled and said that she was fine but they both knew that she was lying, and so did Jack. She accepted his invitation to lunch that day in hopes of persuading him that she was fine.
"Meg, you know that you can talk to me, don't you?" Jack asked once they were settled at their table with their food.
"I know," she replied with a light smile as she stabbed her fork into her salad.
"Then tell me what's wrong," he implored.
"Nothing's wrong," Johanna answered; while thinking that everything was wrong and had been for thirteen years.
"You're not yourself."
That was the understatement of the century, she thought to herself as she shrugged. "I'm just restless," she replied. "My mind isn't focused."
"What's brought that on?" he questioned.
"I don't know," she answered as she focused her eyes on her plate.
"The way you've been acting isn't something recent; this has been going on for awhile now."
"So?" she said her tone taking on an edge.
"I'd like to help you, if you'd let me," Jack stated.
She forced a smile to her face. "That's kind of you but there's nothing to help with."
He smiled back at her, his gaze speaking volumes about his disbelief in her denials. "Maybe you need to get away for awhile," he said as he covered her hand with his own.
She stared at the sight of his hand covering hers and she couldn't help but think that it was the wrong hand; it should be Jim's hand. It should be Jim sitting across the table from her.
"I don't think you've taken a vacation the entire time I've known you."
Johanna nodded as she pulled her hand away. "You're right; I need to get away for awhile."
He grinned, "See I did help; any ideas of where you'd like to go?"
Her smile was genuine this time as she looked at him. "I'd like to go to New York."
"Good choice," he replied. "Lot's of things to see and do there."
Johanna nodded and a feeling of relief and anticipation flooded her. It was time to end this. It was time to go home.
The semester ended the next week and she handed in her students final grades and said goodbye to her friends and colleagues, allowing them to believe that her resurgence of energy was due to the long overdue vacation she was taking. Agent Jenkins wouldn't be happy but she was tired of living this way. She wanted to see Jim and she wanted to see for herself that Katie was fine, and maybe they could end this thing that had destroyed their lives.
She allowed Jack to drive her to the airport the day after the semester ended. As she settled into her seat on the plane, she released a breath that she hadn't realized she was holding. Johanna looked down at her hands, they were shaking slightly. She was nervous and at times she was afraid of what she was about to do but she wasn't backing down, she was going to see this through. She was leaving Meagan Stevens behind and taking back her life as Johanna Beckett.
Johanna walked into the 12th precinct, her hands still shaking and her stomach full of nervous flutters. She could turn back and forget all about this; simply wait somewhere nearby and catch a glimpse of her daughter and then drive by the house she used to call home and see if she could get a look at her husband but she shook those thoughts away. She had come all this way and she wasn't backing down, she wasn't settling for seeing them from a distance. She wanted to talk to them, hug them, and hold their hands. She had to do this so Katie would stop looking for these people that had torn them apart. Her eyes scanned the busy precinct in search of her daughter but she didn't find her.
"Can I help you?" a voice asked from behind her.
Johanna turned to face the woman. "I'm not sure," she answered. "I'm looking for someone."
"I'm Captain Gates, if you're looking for one of my people than I'm sure I can help you," she stated as she looked the woman over, feeling as though there was something familiar about her as if she had seen her somewhere before.
"I'm looking for my daughter," Johanna answered; "But it's a sensitive situation."
"Who's your daughter?" Gates asked. "Does she work for me?"
Johanna nodded, "Detective Kate Beckett," she said quietly.
The Captain stared at her. "I'm sorry, did you say Beckett?"
"That's not possible; her mother is dead."
"I assure you that I'm very much alive," Johanna whispered; "That's just what they were made to believe."
"Perhaps it would be best if we stepped into my office," Gates said as she continued to study the woman. Now she knew why she looked familiar, she looked like Beckett.
Johanna followed her through the bull pen, her eyes landing on a name plate that read 'Det. Beckett'. Her breath caught as her eyes lingered on the desk that was cluttered with papers and elephant figurines. Once inside the office, Gates shut the door and partially closed the blinds before taking her place behind the desk.
"You better explain yourself," the Captain stated.
Johanna took a breath and began her story. She told Captain Gates of how she had taken Pulgotti's case and how while investigating the case she had stumbled upon a group of corrupt cops who had been kidnapping members of mob families for ransom. As she followed the trail she realized that someone else was involved, someone powerful and with more sway than a few dirty cops but she never got to uncover who that person was. A hit had been put out on her, and the F.B.I who had been watching someone they would only refer to as a person of interest had caught wind of it. They said that this person was extremely careful, that he somehow always managed to keep his hands clean and suspicion off of himself and that they didn't have enough hard evidence to make an arrest. The best that they could do for her was to elaborately stage the crime and place her in witness protection where she had been for the last thirteen years, living in Wyoming as Meagan Stevens.
When she finished telling the story, she slipped Agent Jenkins' card from her pocket and handed it to Captain Gates. Gates studied the card and then looked at the woman sitting across the desk from her.
"So why leave now?" she asked. "If this is true why jeopardize yourself this way?"
"I've always thought about it," Johanna replied quietly. "But I never actually considered going through with it until a year ago."
"What happened then that changed your mind?"
"I was watching the news one evening in May," she began; "And the newscaster began telling this story of an officer who was shot at a funeral, and then he said the name of this cop and a picture of my daughter flashed on the screen and all I could think of was getting to her but I held back. I called Agent Jenkins and threatened to come to New York unless he told me what had happened and if she was going to be alright. He kept me informed of her status and her recovery in exchange for me staying put."
Gates nodded; "But why now? That would've been reason to leave then but why now, a year later when you know that she's fully recovered?"
Johanna swallowed hard and blinked back a few tears that were stinging her eyes. "Because I can't get over it; because I know that it happened because of me. I know that Katie is chasing these people and she has to stop. I don't want her dying over this."
"Do you really think that exposing yourself is the right thing to do? Have you considered that when these people find out that you are still alive that they will come after you?"
"Yes, I've considered that."
"And I'd rather them come after me than my daughter."
Gates sighed; "It's not too late for you to walk out of here and go back to Wyoming."
Johanna shook her head. "I want to see my family."
"I can place you somewhere in the building where you would be able to see Kate and ease your mind. She'd never have to know."
"You don't understand," Johanna said; a hint of frustration shining through her tone. "Katie has to know so she'll stop."
"What makes you think that if these people are pursuing her that they'll stop?"
"If she stops trying to find a resolution to the case then they'll have no reason to hurt her."
"I don't think you're thinking clearly about this," Gates said. "I understand the worry and anxiety that you must have but this isn't a good idea."
Johanna bit her lip in effort to control the aggravation that she was feeling. "Captain, are you married?"
"Yes, I am," she replied.
"How would you feel if you were kept away from your husband for over a decade? How would you feel each time an anniversary passed and you didn't get to share it with him? What if all you had to think about during those string of nights spent alone were all the dreams and plans that the two of you had made that were going unfulfilled? You don't know how he is, you don't know if he hurts as badly as you do. You can't see him or hear his voice except in your dreams."
Gates was about to speak but Johanna cut her off. "Do you have children?"
"How would you feel if you were missing out on your child's life? You spend your days wondering where she is, what she's doing, is she safe, is she happy. Has she found the love of her life? Does she think of all the moments you won't get to share with her? Every birthday that goes by you wonder what she looks like now, if she remembers how much you love her. It's not easy, Captain."
"I'm sure that it isn't," the woman replied.
"I went ten years without a glimpse of Katie until I saw her picture in a magazine. The only insight I have into her life is through a set of novels, Google searches, and mentions on Richard Castle's twitter account and website. It's not enough, it used to ease some of the pain but it doesn't anymore."
"You're sure you want to do this?" Gates asked once more.
Johanna nodded; "I'm tired of living this lie. I don't want to be Meagan Stevens anymore. I want to be me; I want to be Johanna Beckett."
"The F.B.I. isn't going to like this."
"I don't care."
Gates tapped the card against her desk. "I have to call and verify all of this."
She sat quietly as the Captain made her calls and when she finished the woman leaned forward in her chair and locked her gaze on hers.
"Agent Jenkins strongly advises you to return to Wyoming."
"No," she stated firmly.
"If you leave their protection they are no longer responsible for your safety," Gates explained.
"I accept that," Johanna stated.
"You're not turning back?"
"You're willing to take the risk that the person you were being hid from may find out about your existence and retaliate against you?"
She nodded; "It's a risk I'm willing to take."
Gates studied her for a moment. "Mrs. Beckett, do you realize that your husband and daughter may not be the same people that you remember? There's a possibility that they won't take this news well."
"I realize that it will be a shock to them," she replied; "But I'm sure that I can handle it."
"Maybe you should think it over some more."
"I've thought it over for a year now and I've made my decision."
"Mrs. Beckett, I really believe that it would be best for everyone involved if you were to settle for seeing them from a distance without their knowledge and then go home to the life you've been living."
"No," she said sternly. "I'm tired of settling, hiding, lying, and being alone. Wyoming has never been my home, this is my home and I'm not leaving, I will find a way to see them."
Gates nodded although an expression of slight exasperation remained on her face. "Alright, if you're determined than we'll reunite you with your family."
Johanna smiled; "Thank you."
"Don't thank me," she replied; "Because I think you're going to be in for a surprise. I don't believe for one moment that this is going to go easily. If there is one thing I know about your daughter it's that she's stubborn."
"She always has been."
"She must get it from you."
"That's what my husband always claimed. Where is Katie?"
"She's out wrapping up a case. She'll be back later."
"I'm not waiting until tomorrow if that's what you're hoping," Johanna told her.
"I didn't doubt for a moment that you weren't leaving until you saw her, Mrs. Beckett. In the mean time, I'll contact your husband and have him come down and I'll break the news to him. I think it would be better if he was here before Kate gets back."
As Jim Beckett walked into the precinct, a feeling of dread slid down his spine. Captain Gates had assured him that Kate was fine, but he wasn't sure that he completely believed the woman. She had stated that she needed to see him about a matter concerning his wife and he couldn't help but feel that if this involved Johanna then it would end up involving Katie.
He caught sight of Kate's desk and saw that her chair was empty, as was the one next to the desk that denoted her partnership with Rick Castle. This didn't feel right, something was wrong and he had a feeling that whatever it was, it wasn't going to end well.
"Mr. Beckett?" Captain Gates asked as she approached him.
He nodded and shook her hand when she offered it. "Are you sure Katie's fine?" he asked.
"I assure you, Mr. Beckett; your daughter is fine. She just checked in with me about an hour ago. She's fine, she'll be back soon."
"Then what's this about?" Jim asked. "If it's about my wife's case then you should probably discuss it with Katie."
"I'm afraid I have to discuss it with both of you," Gates stated. "Let's take this conversation elsewhere."
She led him into one of the rooms they used to speak to family members of victims and when he was seated across from her she took a moment to prepare herself. For someone with her reputation she found this situation difficult and she felt slightly unsure of how to broach the topic. Finally she took a breath and told Jim Beckett the whole story.
He shook his head when she finished. "That's not possible," he replied. "She's dead, they showed us her body, we buried her."
"It was staged, Mr. Beckett," Gates replied. "The body they showed you was not your wife."
"You're wrong. I don't know who this person is but she isn't my wife."
"She's in my office," Gates stated; "I contacted the agent she deals with at the F.B.I. He didn't deny her story."
"But did he confirm it?" he asked.
"The F.B.I never gives straight forward confirmation in cases like these but in his evasive way of not hiding the fact that he knew exactly who Meagan Stevens is, and his firm advisory to me that I should order her back to Wyoming, confirmed it to me. Not to mention the resemblance between her and your daughter."
"It's not her," Jim stated firmly. "It can't be."
"You would know if you saw her, wouldn't you?" she questioned. "You would recognize her?"
"Of course I would recognize her but I'm telling you that it's not my wife."
"Let's go to my office and see if you still feel that way once you see her," Gates said as she rose from her seat.
"Fine," Jim agreed. "Let's get this over with before Katie walks in here and finds out that someone is impersonating her mother."
He followed Gates into her office and shut the door behind them as she instructed. He then turned and faced the woman in question as she sat in a chair opposite of the Captain's desk.
He openly stared at her, his voice stuck in his throat unable to make a sound as her gaze locked with his. He didn't want to believe it but this woman certainly looked the part, especially her green eyes which were the same shade as Kate's.
"Sit down, Mr. Beckett," Gates said quietly as she observed his pale face.
He sank into the chair next to Johanna. "Jim," she said her voice thick with emotion.
He flinched and turned his head away from her. That voice had haunted his dreams for years.
"Is she your wife?" Gates asked.
"I can't believe this," he muttered.
"Jim," Johanna said once again as she reached for his hand.
He jerked his hand away from her and turned his head in her direction. "What the hell have you done, Johanna?" he asked as hurt and anger surged through him.
Tears stung her eyes at the sharp tone of his voice and she suddenly realized that the Captain may be right; this wasn't going to go well.
"I had no choice," she whispered.
He stood from his chair and paced the room. It very well may be that she had no choice, but that didn't make him feel any better right now. All he could think of were the years without her, the pain and anguish; the grief that had almost killed him and had destroyed a part of their daughter's heart. 'Katie,' he thought as he paused in front of the desk. She wasn't going to take this well.
"Are you prepared for my daughter's reaction?" he asked Gates; "Because she's going to go ballistic."
"That's why I called you first," she replied. "I'm hoping your presence will keep her calm."
He gave a short laugh; "I assure you, Captain; my presence won't hinder my daughter from losing her composure. If you want someone to keep her at some level of calmness then you better hope that Rick is with her; because he's the only person capable of that feat."
"He left with her so I assume he'll come back with her," Gates replied.
"God I hope so," he stated as he looked to his wife once more; "Because this is going to tear her apart."
Johanna's heart dropped as she took in the expression on his face and the words he spoke of Kate's coming reaction set in. She had been so certain of understanding but now…now she wondered if she had made a mistake.
Authors Note: Castle and Beckett make their appearance in chapter two. I don't intend to make this situation easy on any of the characters involved, especially Kate so be prepared for reactions that may not be what is expected but that I think is highly plausible.