Authors Note: When I dived into this story way back in October 2012, I had no idea what it would become; all I had was a song and an image in my mind of Johanna Beckett taking down Bracken; and I set out to tell Johanna's story and here we are, 20 notebooks, 2 computers and countless dead pens later, at the end of the road…so to speak. This chapter functions as an epilogue and mainly serves the purpose of tying things up neatly for those of you who won't want to read the sequel; but with that said; I believe everyone can read it without taking anything away from what I have planned for the next story. As always, thank you for your reviews and your support!
Special thanks to: Andy, Lisa, Cindy, Lin, Mandy and AC; for promoting this story and talking me into joining Twitter; which is one of the best things I've ever done because I've found wonderful friends there.
Chapter 42 – Two Black Cadillacs
"And the preacher said he was a good man; and his brother said he was a good friend, but the women in the two black veils didn't bother to cry" – Carrie Underwood
Late March 2013
"I guess I'd be wasting my time by asking if Kate's here," Castle said once Jim Beckett had opened the door of his home.
The man nodded; stepping back to allow the writer into the house. "And I suppose there's no point in asking if you've seen my wife this morning."
"No; I haven't seen her; but Kate did leave a note saying that she was with her."
Jim picked up a scrap of paper from the coffee table. "I got a similar note; and her phone is going straight to voicemail."
"Kate's too," Castle replied as he took a seat on the sofa. "Where do you think they are?"
A heavy sigh passed through the older man's lips. "Staked out in the cemetery. My parents and a few other relatives are buried in that cemetery, so if Bracken is being buried somewhere near them; they'll have a good vantage point."
"I don't know why they have to do this."
"Closure," Jim stated; although it didn't entirely make sense to him either. "And maybe just to make sure he's dead."
"Kate had Lanie run a DNA test to make sure of that it was him," Castle remarked.
"It doesn't matter; they need to see it…it might not make much sense to us but it does to them."
"So what are we going to do?"
"What we always do," Jim answered. "We just sit here and wait awhile…and while we do that, we think of a better plan."
Kate pulled weeds away from the headstone of her grandmother Elizabeth Beckett; and cast a casual glance at the funeral taking place a fair distance away. They really shouldn't be there…and yet she couldn't seem to make herself stay away and being that her mother was next to her, she knew that she felt the same way. It had been a long winter, Kate mused as she pulled the zipper of her jacket a little higher; the air of late March still carrying a chill. The media had been relentless and intrusive once the whole story behind Bracken's arrest had come to light. Everyone wanted the story and neither she nor Johanna was willing to talk…it only seemed to make things worse. Some outlets tried to make heroes out of them; others, which were apparently in Bracken's pocket tried to vilify them. Old foes crawled out of the woodwork to defame them; going out in public became an unwanted nuisance. It had brought a whole new set of tensions to their lives…and in the course of that, it had created a small riff between her and her mother.
Kate glanced towards her silent mother as she cleaned away old leaves and weeds from the grave of Robert Beckett. Sometimes she was surprised that the woman was still standing. When she thought about it; she realized that Johanna had taken the brunt of the media but she had been so wrapped up in how the interference had trodden upon her privacy and disturbed her world; that she hadn't really taken that into consideration until things had already gotten out of hand.
Bracken's trial had seemed to drag on forever; the smirk on his face every day as he entered or left the courtroom, telling the world that he was really arrogant enough to believe that he could beat the charges against him. He had been wrong; and the look of surprise on his face when the verdict had been read was almost comical, Kate recalled. Sentencing had followed and they thought that it was all over…but it wasn't. Three days after the sentencing, her phone had rang at three in the morning, informing her that Bracken was dead. By four-thirty that morning after her calls had gone straight to voicemail; she had let herself into her parents house and had pounded on their bedroom door until finally her mother had gotten up. She'd never forget the look that had crossed her mother's face when the news had sunk in, nor the sob that followed. Johanna had felt cheated…and truth be told; so did she.
She sucked in a breath as she glanced towards the funeral once again. She wasn't sorry that he was dead…just very sorry that he had escaped the punishment that justice had set for him; and now here they were, watching from a distance as the final curtain came down. They looked like they were on some CIA mission she thought to herself with a small smile. They were both dressed in black jeans and black jackets; their hoods pulled up, covering their hair and dark sunglasses hiding their eyes.
As they had sat in a small diner early that morning; they had formed their plan to act as though they were merely tending to the family graves now that spring had supposedly arrived, while ignoring the fact that the men in their lives probably wouldn't be too happy with them once they woke and found them gone. They bought flowers to plant; and took a few small gardening tools to aid in their cleanup. They were far enough away that no one paid them any mind; but thanks to the fact that the speakers were using a microphone; they were close enough to hear the proceedings.
"He was a good man…" the preacher stated; causing Kate's head to snap up at the audacity of the words.
"A good man?" she murmured as she glanced at her mother. "Really?"
Johanna scoffed. "Apparently our definition of good differs from theirs."
"Yeah; it must," Kate replied. "Because my definition of a good man says nothing about being a murdering bastard and that's exactly what he was."
"He doesn't fit my definition either."
They fell quite as the preacher droned on, extolling all of William Bracken's goodness and lamenting his 'troubled' last days.
"I wonder how much they paid him to spew that bunch of garbage," Johanna whispered; her tone full of disgust.
"Whatever it was; it wasn't nearly enough," her daughter remarked. "You'd think a preacher would have a moral dilemma about lying like that."
"Yeah, well we both know about the lack morals going on around this town and with the people involved with him."
"That's true," Kate replied before growing quiet as the preacher invited Bracken's brother up to the podium to speak. "This should be good," she muttered.
Adam Bracken had been adamant that his brother was being wrongly accused and set up by the NYPD to take the fall for crimes that he had no part of. He told the media that the NYPD was avpart of a conspiracy to discredit his brother and to ruin his political career and that Johanna and Kate Beckett were the ones who should be investigated.
"…My brother was a loving husband and father; a wonderful son, brother and uncle, and he was a good friend to many…"
"With friends like him; you didn't need enemies," Johanna couldn't help but comment.
"Maybe it would've been better to say that he was a good enemy," Kate replied. "At least that would be closer to the truth."
"…He was a tremendous asset to the community…"
Kate laughed softly. "He was a tremendous ass, alright."
Her mother chuckled. "You can say that again."
"…He served his community with pride and always did his best to serve the people…"
"Unless you pissed him off or got in his way," Johanna remarked. "Then the only service you got was having your life ended for you."
"Without even asking."
"I guess that's what made him such a Good Samaritan," her mother replied. "He didn't wait for you to ask him to kill you; he just went ahead and arranged it for you."
"God I wish I was giving this eulogy," the younger woman remarked.
"I wouldn't mind giving it myself," Johanna responded. "I'd start off with 'Here lies a no good, scum sucking bastard' and end it with 'I hope you rot in hell'."
Kate nodded. "I like it; it not only has the ring of honesty but it has pizzazz too."
Johanna smiled. "It's a shame they didn't call and ask us to speak."
"I guess when they were looking for speakers they were more in the market for liars than, how was it Adam Bracken put it? A couple of maniacal, obsessive women who were looking for a scapegoat for the troubles they had made for themselves."
The older woman scoffed. "I'd like to punch him right in his mouth."
"Take a number and get in line."
"...the loss of my brother William is a devastating blow to the community and to the country which he only wanted to make better. He will be greatly missed."
"Oh I know I'm going to cry into my pillow every night," Johanna retorted.
"Me too," Kate replied. "I'm just so devastated to know that he can't try to kill anyone anymore."
"I just wonder if he's giving his campaign spiel to the devil in an attempt to make him understand that it's all a mistake that he should've gone the other way to claim his seat among the angels," her mother murmured as the service began to wrap up.
The younger woman chuckled softly. "I wouldn't doubt it at all; because let's face it, he's 'done good things'," she replied; quoting Bracken's favorite phrase. "So what if he had to have a few people murdered and terrorized along the way. It was all for the greater good…of himself."
Johanna nodded; her own gaze straying towards the proceedings. "It's been a hell of a show…I just wish we didn't have to guest star on it."
"Well it's over now," Kate said as she glanced towards her. "I think it's safe to say that the show has been canceled."
"We keep saying that it's over," her mother replied. "We said it was over when he was arrested, and we said it was over after the trial…but every time we seem to think it's over, it's not."
She reached for her mother's gloved hand and held her gaze. "This time it's over," she told her. "There can be no more permanent ending than the one we're watching right now."
Johanna squeezed her daughter's hand and nodded as she grew silent. It had been a long winter…perhaps the longest winter of her life, she thought to herself. Moving on wasn't as easy as it was proclaimed to be. She had been so accustomed to being hidden away for so long that being shoved into the spotlight had been very discontenting. She didn't like being on display; nor did she like being perused by the media as if she were some type of prize winning game in a hunt. She had felt, and still did feel in some ways, naked and exposed as her life and her choices had been picked apart and dissected; analyzed and talked about. The world felt that she owed it her story but she begged to differ. It wasn't a story she was proud of; it wasn't one she wanted to tell unless she had to and she hated the intrusion into her world. She hated how it put stress on the relationships she was so painstakingly repairing and rebuilding. She hated it all and, in the darkness, when she would lie awake, quietly shedding her tears to keep from waking her husband, she often thought about how William Bracken was probably sitting back in his cell and smiling in that slimy way he had of doing as some factions of the media tore her apart.
She hoped that it was over now; that she could slip back into anonymity and continue to put her life back in order in a much quieter fashion. She also hoped it was over for Kate's sake as she knew that it had taken its toll on her as well and Johanna bore the guilt of that. She dipped her head, still feeling the weight of all she had caused for her daughter and her husband. Would it ever go away? Probably not, she figured; but she was learning how to deal with it and how to keep it from overpowering her life. It wasn't an easy process but then again, nothing in her life ever was. She was still standing though and she figured that had to count for something…perhaps she wasn't as permanently damaged as she had thought. Maybe she could finish healing now; maybe they all could. Maybe things would settle now and a new chapter would begin…she hoped that chapter would include new wonderful memories with her husband along with wedding planning and grandchildren, she thought with a small smile but she wouldn't mention that to her daughter just yet. Johanna breathed deeply; taking the cool air into her lungs and then expelling it slowly. She just had to take it one day and one breath at a time…she had been learning that lesson for nearly a year now and she felt that she was getting better at it.
"Are you okay?" Kate asked; her voice breaking through her thoughts.
"I'm fine," Johanna answered with a nod as she glanced towards her daughter. "I was just thinking."
"New chapters," she answered.
"Do you have some things in mind that you want to see in the next chapter?"
She grinned. "Yeah but I wasn't going tell you what some of those things are."
Her daughter smirked. "Well now that I figure I have an idea of what it is, you may as well."
Johanna shrugged. "I wouldn't mind helping you shop for a wedding dress…that is if you'd want me to."
"Of course I want you to," Kate answered. "I know things have been…tense between us at certain moments during the last few months and I'm sorry for that but that doesn't mean I've changed my mind about you. You're my mother and I love you. Just because we bicker sometimes doesn't mean I'm going to walk away and not come back."
"I hope it never comes to that."
"It won't," she assured. "We're just a normal…or as normal as we can be, mother and daughter. It's in our nature to be at odds with each other once in awhile. Didn't you ever have a little tiff with Grandma McKenzie?"
"Yes, but my mother and I didn't have something this big between us like you and I do, Katie."
"It doesn't matter; we'll be fine, we always are."
Johanna gave her a small smile. "You just have to be patient with me…I'm still a work in progress."
"I believe you once told me that Grandma said we're all a work in progress," Kate reminded her.
"That's true; some of us just take a little longer than others."
"Well don't worry; I'll overlook it if you fall behind once in awhile. I know you'll catch up when you get your second wind. As for wedding dress shopping, I think I have to be proposed to first."
"Oh it won't be long," Johanna commented. "I figure the time is coming soon."
"We'll see," Kate said with a quiet laugh. "Anything else in that new chapter of yours that pertains to me?"
"I'll give you a hint; it's small and wiggly and smells like baby lotion and will learn to call me 'Grandma'."
She laughed. "You know, I never thought you'd be so eager to be called Grandma."
"To be honest, I never thought so either but now I anticipate it. Your father and I are still young and active enough to get some enjoyment out of chasing a toddler around the house so…you might want to get started while we still feel that way."
"I'll see what I can do for you," Kate replied; a small smile clinging to her lips.
"That's all I ask."
"For now; let's go close out this chapter," her daughter stated as she rose from her place; holding a hand out to assist her mother.
They had talked and been lost in their thoughts long enough that the crowd and media and had departed, and the burial had been finished. Kate and Johanna pulled off their gloves and sunglasses and flicked back their hoods as they crossed the cemetery. Finally, they came to a stop at the newly covered grave of former Senator William H. Bracken.
"Well," Kate murmured as they stood looking down at the freshly turned dirt. "I guess when you had this dream, it was always the other way around. You were standing over our graves…and here we are standing over yours. Nice twist of fate, don't you think? I hope you rot in hell you bastard…and even that's too good for you."
Johanna stooped down and picked up a clump of dirt and as she stood, she released it from her hand; the breeze capturing it and pulling the grains apart as it sprinkled them over the grave. "I told you so," she stated. "I told you that I'd take it all away from you…that your perfect little world was over. I told you so."
The breeze turned warmer, softly ruffling their hair as if to herald the delayed arrival of spring along with the opening of the new chapter in their lives. Kate's hand slipped into her mother's as they took one last look and then they backed away, turning in the opposite direction. As they made it half way across the cemetery, Castle and Jim caught their eye as they approached. As they neared the men they loved, they squeezed each other's hand and then separated, Kate moving in Castle's direction and taking his hand; Johanna walking towards her husband and taking his before they silently headed back to their cars, ready to get on with their lives now that the menace was silenced.
A/N: Don't worry, there's sequel ;)