The door slams shut.

Shuffling forward, she drops heavily onto the bench, leans down, lets her head fall into her hands.

This isn't how it was supposed to go.

Oh, Castle.

If he-

She'll never forgive herself.

Three days earlier...

She gets the call when she least expects it. Not that she really would have expected it at all, but maybe she should have. It's been a year.

Not just a year since she was shot. It's a year that marks her own pain and tragedy, yes. But she shares that pain with another. With Evelyn. Her captain's wife.

All the same, when her cell phone flashes his name, the word 'home' in smaller letters underneath, her heart stills, a fresh wave of grief crashing over her. A good man who made a bad mistake and lost his life for it.

She answers the ringing phone, wills her voice into submission. "Beckett."


She wonders sometimes how much Evelyn knows about her husband's death, wonders if she has any idea of why beyond that he was protecting Kate. "Evelyn. Hi. How are you?"

There's a hesitation on the other end of the line, and then the woman speaks, her voice low and quiet. "I'm- I'm okay. How are you?"

"Better," she answers, matching the other woman's tone. "I'm doing better. Thank you."

She was glad her captain's wife hadn't visited in the hospital, hadn't sent flowers either. She had only sent a card, a generic 'Get Well Soon' card, simply signed. Anything more would have been too much for the wounded detective who hasn't yet managed to visit Montgomery's family.

There's a long pause, a silence that stretches on uncomfortably. It's been a year.

"What can I do for you?" the detective finally asks. "Is everything all right?"

The other woman sighs, the sound crackling over the connection. "No. Kate. Something happened."

She has his number dialed, her phone to her ear before she even realizes what she's done. He's gone.

He's gone, worked his last case, and she has no right to be calling him. It's just instinctive. She pulls the phone from her ear as she hears it ringing.

Just as her thumb hovers over the 'end call' button, he answers, sounds a little breathless. "Beckett?"

Well. She can't just hang up on him now.

"Hey, Castle," she says, trying to keep her voice even as she lifts the phone back to her ear. "Sorry. I didn't mean to call you."

"Oh, okay," he replies, his voice a little different from its usual timbre.

She nods decisively, even though he can't see her. "Okay, um. Take care then."

But he must hear something in her tone. She's pulling the phone away when he calls out. "Wait. Beckett, wait."

Her heart thuds sharply in her chest, aches with each beat. "What, Castle?"

"I, uh," he begins then trails off for a moment before starting again. "Are- are you okay? You don't sound like yourself."

She shuts her eyes, taking a deep breath. "I'm fine. Nothing to worry yourself about."

"Kate," he sighs, and she wonders if he has his eyes shut as well. "Just because- just because I'm not shadowing you anymore doesn't mean that I don't still care about you, don't care if something's wrong."

"Evelyn Montgomery just called."

The words are out before she even realizes she was thinking them, and she hears him suck in a sharp breath.

"Is everything okay?" he asks.

She shakes her head, lifts her free hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. "I'm not sure. I don't think so. I'm about to go over there."

There's a moment of silence and then he speaks, his voice both soft and resolute. "I'll meet you there."

He hangs up.

Castle stands silent at her back, his presence warm and reassuring as she lifts her hand, raps three times on the ornate wooden door. She sees a flash of movement inside, hears the rasp of the deadbolt turning, and then Evelyn Montgomery stands before them, half hidden by the door.

Her eyes dart over their shoulders, her face drawn and weary. Worried too. "Kate. Rick."

She steps back and beckons them in. Kate hesitates for a moment, but Castle's fingers at her elbow prod her forward. She glances over her shoulder at him and he immediately pulls away, his eyes speaking an apology.

She doesn't want his apology though, doesn't want him to think that his touch is unwanted. But maybe it's habit, maybe it's just something he didn't even think about and really didn't want to do. He's the one who pulled away, who has systematically cut all ties from her over the past several weeks. She didn't push him out of her life. Not this time.

Still. He's here now, and she's grateful for that, even if she's not exactly sure what it means.

She's pulled from her musings by Castle's arm brushing hers as he steps forward. The detective watches as he thrusts out his hand toward her captain's wife. Evelyn shakes her head, reaching up to pull him down into a hug instead.

"Thank you, Rick," she hears the woman whispering. "Thank you for all you've done for us."

He shakes his head, his eyes falling shut, and Kate can see the pain etched into his handsome face. She may have known Roy Montgomery longer, but that doesn't mean she's the only one who suffered loss that night last year.

"He was my friend," the writer murmurs. "He did so much for me. How could I not try to repay the favor?"

She doesn't know, doesn't know how he's helped this struggling family, but she's not surprised. This is the man who tossed down a hundred thousand dollars for a chance at her mother's killer. He's a good man. Her heart aches all the more for what she's lost.

A hand closes around her wrist, and the detective looks up, finds the other two watching her. "Kate, so good to see you. Especially since..."

Evelyn trails off, but the detective just gives her an understanding, sad smile. She searches the older woman's eyes for signs of resentment, for anything that hints at blame for her husband's death. But there's nothing.

"You told Detective Beckett that something happened?" Castle says then, and her title paired with her name sounds foreign, especially in front of this woman who calls them both by their first names.

Evelyn nods. "Yes. There was- I came home the other day and a few things seemed out of place."

"Someone broke in?" Kate asks. "Did you call the police?"

The woman shakes her head. "Nothing seemed to be missing, and I chalked it up to my imagination. But then today..."

She pauses, looks between writer and detective, her brow furrowed. Castle steps closer, and Kate can feel his warmth at her side. Ohh, she's missed that. He doesn't touch her. But he's there.

"What happened today?" the detective asks quietly.

The woman sighs, turning away from them and heading off down the hall. Kate lifts her eyes to Castle's and he shrugs, nods his head. They follow.

A door leads them into what must have been the captain's office, and they find Evelyn bent over an open drawer.

"I was looking for some stamps," she says without turning to face them. "I found this instead."

She steps back, gives them a clear view. Kate's shoulder vies with Castle's as they both lean in to see what the drawer holds.

It's a knife, military issue - hauntingly familiar.

She gasps, and Castle's broad hand wraps around her forearm as she reaches toward it, halts her progress. "Kate..."

Her gaze lifts to his face but his terrified eyes still linger on the creamy card that rests beneath the blade and the words written in a graceful, flowing script.

Like mother, like daughter.

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