January 9, 2012

Hey mom, it's me Katie. I can't believe it has been thirteen years since that night that Daddy and I came home to find that detective standing on our doorstep to deliver the worst news that anyone should ever have to face. I couldn't bear to go to work today. My emotions are all over the place. Every year on this day, I take this day off every year to come here to visit you and hide myself away from the world and cry my eyes out. I thought that my grief would subside over time, but the anniversary of your murder is like a gash to my heart that can't ever be stitched back together.

I'm sorry that I haven't been by to see you in a while but I have been busy with work and therapy. Dr. Burke is really helping me deal with the "emotional train-wreck" that I have become since that day last May. That brings up the other reason I need to talk to you. I have always been so determined that I need to solve your murder before I can move on with my life and have a chance at happiness. Mom, I don't want to let you down. Dr. Burke keeps telling me that I can't let you down because you are dead. He also tells me that all a parent wants for their children is for them to be healthy and happy. I want to be happy and I think I can be with Rick. Yes, I called him Rick. He makes me want to be happy. I never thought I deserved to be happy, at least until I could give myself closure with solving your murder.

I am in love with him. I wish you could give me some advice like you did when I was a lovesick teenager. He told me he loves me when I was lying there with a bullet hole in my chest bleeding out in his arms. What should I do? I lied to him. I told him I didn't remember what happened at the cemetery that day…that I didn't remember him confessing his love. I need to tell him but I'm scared to put myself out there. I keep telling myself that he said it in the heat of the moment because he thought I was going to die in his arms. I know that isn't entirely true, but I tell myself that to justify lying to him. I know he loves me. I see it everyday in the little things he does like bringing me coffee and the fact that he has always stood by me even when I told him to leave. I am afraid to dive into a relationship with him because I can't lose him. What if this doesn't work out and he is no longer in my life? I don't think I could survive it. I have been so mean to him, Mom. Why does he let me treat him so bad? I don't deserve him. I have lied to him about my shooting and ignored him for months because of my emotional hang-ups but he keeps showing up and supporting me. What happens if I tell him that I heard him and he gets angry and never speaks to me again? Mom, tell me what to do.

I am jerked from my one-sided conversation by a bone chilling gust of wind and the snap of a twig behind me. As I turn to locate the source of the snapping twig behind me I am met with the deep blue pools that I find myself staring into across my desk everyday at the 12th. There he stands, just staring at me mouth agape. Our eyes never waver. We just look at each other for what seems like hours but is really only a minute or two. I break eye contact and look at the ground as these thoughts cross my mind. How long has he been standing there and how much did he overhear before I heard him approach? What is he heard my confession to my mom? What happens now? Do I bring it up and try to get him to admit how much he heard or do I let him bring it up? As I look back up I notice that he is still watching me and he has a beautiful bouquet of flowers in his left hand.

"Rick, what are you doing here?" I asked hesitantly, my mind racing back to my previous thoughts.

"I remembered what today was when I got to the 12th and the guys said you weren't coming in today. So I stopped by the flower shop on the corner and thought I would bring these to your mom. I know I never met her, but it felt like the right thing for me to do today. I am sorry that I interrupted. That was not my intent. I'll just put these down by the head stone and leave you to it."

"Rick, you don't have to leave. I was just talking to my mom about everything that has been going on with me. It's been a while since I spoke to her. God, my shrink would have a field day with this talking to a tombstone thing! I was …"

"You're seeing a shrink?" Rick blurted out.

"Yes, I am. I have been ever since I came back to work. I see Dr. Burke, the department psychiatrist, at least once a week sometimes more if necessary. I saw him several times a week during the sniper case."

"Oh, I'm glad you have someone you can talk to about that stuff."

"Castle. I'm sorry I didn't tell you about seeing Dr. Burke. It's just easier to talk to a stranger sometimes. I'm not trying to shut you out. I am just really trying to work through some stuff and he is helping me deal with the PTSD and the repercussions of my shooting."

"You have PTSD? I know you were struggling with the sniper case. I just thought it was due to our killer being a sniper. I should have figured it out. I didn't put it together, I'm sorry I couldn't help you."

"You helped more than you know. I knew you were there for me and I know that you are the one who convinced Esposito to have that conversation. You giving me space to deal with it on my own helped. I know it was hard for you to keep your distance and I know I said some pretty mean things to you and for that I am truly sorry. I know you wanted to help."

"Always."

I look back down at the flowers he is still holding and reach out for them to place them next to the single flower that I had place next to the grave marker earlier.

"I was about to fill Mom in on the plans for that "event" that we have been planning. Would you like to stay and help me fill her in on your grand plan?"

"Sure, I can stay if that is what you want me to do. I don't want to intrude. I got the distinct impression that you were having a very serious discussion when I arrived."

"Just seeking advice from my Mom and remembering the past."

"So what have you told her about this little "event"? Did you tell her how it all came about from the dead lottery winner case? Did you tell her about how I kept nagging you about what you would do if you won the lottery?"

"How did you figure out what I would do anyway? You never did tell me how you figured it out."

"Well, actually, it was something you said that sparked the idea. I overheard you telling mother that she should do something to honor Chet's legacy while you were waiting for me to change clothes before we went to that club looking for Oz."

"Oh. I just thought maybe you were a mind reader or a psychic or something." I say with an eye roll.

Castle chuckles at my comment and turns to face Mom's grave marker and begins to spin his next greatest story for her. I listen intently as he tells her about his guest list of the social elite from the mayor and city officials to a pretty impressive list of authors that he plays poker with. I realize he has put a lot more thought and work into this than I would have known without running into him today at the cemetery. Once again, it hits me full force that I really need to be honest with him about what I heard and how I feel about him. Everything he does for me proves that his confession had nothing to do with the heat of the moment. He loves me more than I could have imagined.

He can tell that I have zoned out during his story and just keeps on talking, thinking that I am off in my own little world and am not paying any attention to what he is rambling on about, which I am not. That is, until he says something that causes my head to jerk up and my eyes to lock onto his.

"…. I spent a lot of time over this past summer working on this scholarship dinner once I finished writing Heat Rises. I wanted everything to be all set when Kate came back to work. I knew she wasn't going to be able to deal with the planning while she was healing from her shooting."

"I, uh, had no idea that you worked on this over the summer. I…. I am so sorry that …I didn't know". I trail off as I break eye contact again, ashamed of how I treated this man who loves me so much.

"Don't worry about it. I had a lot of time on my hands and this kept my mind occupied while you were getting healthy." He says trying to get me to understand that it really helped him to have this connection to me while I was shutting him out. "Well, Mrs. Beckett, that is how this event came about. We are only month away from the big day in February when we can fund this scholarship that will help those people in the legal system that need more heroes like you."

"Rick …"

"No, Kate, it's fine … we're good. I do have a question for your mom though."

"Go ahead Castle, ask away… you have bent her ear for over an hour with your tales of the extravagant event you have planned for February. A few more minutes can't hurt." I try to lighten the mood resorting back to our banter that makes us, us.

He clears his throat and hesitates a moment before taking me by the hand and asking my mom the question he wanted to ask. "Mrs. Beckett, since you aren't going to be here for this event, I was wondering if it would be okay if I asked the most extraordinary woman I know if she will be my date to benefit dinner that is to be held in your honor." Rick shifts his gaze from the gravestone to my face and smiles, that one that lights up his whole face, and says, "Katherine Beckett, would you do me the honor of being my date to the scholarship dinner in honor of your mom?"

"Rick, I uh, I would love to be your date. I couldn't think of anyone I would rather go with. Thank you for this. I know I don't say it often but I do appreciate this."

"You don't have to thank me, Kate. I did it for me too."

"Give me a minute to say goodbye to mom and I will buy you one of those one hundred coffees that I owe you."