Kevin's Here

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fan Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
FOR ANY CASTLE FANS - Beckett and Castle have finally solved the murder of one of their fallen comrades. They want to pass along the news to his partner, but will he even comprehend it?

Submitted: October 22, 2016

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Submitted: October 22, 2016

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It looked imposing from the outside: five-foot-high walls were topped by a five-foot-high iron fence with sharp spiked tips. The only break in the chain was the arced iron gate that led up a small path towards the door of a soulless, grey-brick building with few windows.
Beckett glanced at Castle, and recognised that he felt the same pain as she did in that moment, staring just at the containment techniques. He reached out and offered his hand, which Beckett took gratefully. She felt his warm fingers interlock with hers and squeeze. He attempted a smile, but couldn't bring himself to mean it.
'I don't think I can keep doing this, Castle,' she said. 'Coming back here.'
Castle squeezed her hand again.
'You can,' he told her. 'We can.'
Beckett stared into his eyes, and knew that he meant this. She nodded slowly, then reached forward and pressed the intercom buzzer.
'Who is it?' said a muffled voice.
'Captain Beckett and Mr Castle,' Beckett said. 'To see Javier Esposito.'
A sharp buzz sounded and the iron gate swung open. Beckett took a deep breath, felt Castle squeeze still her shaking hand, and walked inside.
The gate swung shut and locked behind them. Castle and Beckett took the steps up to the front door and entered. A small woman in scrubs was sat at the desk to their left. Beckett didn't need to flash her ID badge: they had been here enough times the staff knew them by name.
'Kate,' Nurse Jeffers nodded solemnly. 'Rick. How are you today?'
Beckett froze. How to describe how she felt? Numb. Guilty. Ashamed. Alone. Pained.
'We're fine,' Castle answered.
Nurse Jeffers nodded sympathetically, and lifted a key from a chain around her neck.
'Come with me,' she said.
Again, Castle led. Beckett dragged a foot behind, using the distance to stare at him unnoticed. She knew he felt as broken as she did, but he was being strong for her. She was grateful for that.
'How is he?' Beckett asked blankly, as Nurse Jeffers led them down a long, echoing, high-ceilinged corridor.
'There has been no improvement,' Nurse Jeffers said.
'So he's still talking to himself?' Beckett asked.
'Regularly,' Nurse Jeffers replied.
'What about sleep?' Castle asked. 'Is he sleeping?'
'Barely,' Nurse Jeffers answered. 'We have to give him sleeping pills most nights.'
Beckett felt her legs become heavier: every step, punctuated by every non-update, grew harder to take.
Nurse Jeffers stopped outside the cell. Beckett and Castle hesitated while she unlocked the cell.
'He'll be happy to see you,' Nurse Jeffers smiled weakly.
'Thank you,' Castle said.
Beckett felt a tear well up in the corner of her eye. She blinked it away. The moment she entered that room she was not the one in pain. And anyway, to deliver bad news was not why they had come.
She took another deep breath, squeezed Castle's hand and hurried into the cell.
Espo was in the middle, scratching at the padded flooring, perpetually trembling and whispering to himself. His hair had grown longer, his beard was unshaven and he smelt like a bath had evaded him for a couple of days. He looked up when Beckett and Castle entered, but looked away sharply.
'Espo?' Beckett said tentatively.
He turned away again.
'Espo?'
This time he turned his whole body round to face the other way.
'Javi?'
'G-go away,' Espo murmured.
'Javi, look at us,' Beckett implored.
'I said go away!' Espo shouted.
Beckett glanced at Castle.
'We haven't got much time left,' Espo said. 'I have to talk to Ryan.'
At his name, Beckett felt her heart sink.
'Espo, Ryan's dead,' Castle said.
'Do you think I don't-don't know that?' Espo spat.
'No, we know you know that,' Castle said.
'But-but you only think he's dead!' Espo cried. 'He could hold on until the ambulance arrives!'
Beckett shook her head desperately. The image of Kevin Ryan lying on the ground, the life seeping out of him ... She could barely think, barely breathe ... Why were they here again?
'We caught him, Javi,' Beckett spluttered through the brainfreeze. 'The guy who killed Ryan.'
Espo wheeled around.
'Kevin?' he cried hopefully. 'Kevin's here?'
Beckett saw the desperation in his eyes and averted her gaze.
'No,' she told the window. 'He's not here.'
'But he-he's OK, right?' Espo checked quickly. 'He got to the hospital; they - they're helping him?'
'No, Espo,' Beckett said, her voice breaking. 'They're not helping him because he didn't make it to the hospital.'
She couldn't hold back tears, and raised a hand to cover her eyes.
'He died at the scene,' Castle explained grimly.
'No!' Espo laughed.
He stood up.
'No, no! You guys just - you said you-you caught him. You caught him, that's what you said?'
Beckett looked at Espo through her fingers.
'No,' she said. 'We caught the guy who killed him.'
She found a strength from somewhere, compartmentalising the horror that seeped into Espo's expression.
'We caught the guy who shot him,' Beckett said hotly. 'And he is going to go to prison for a long, long time. And he's never getting out.'
Espo stared at the ground.
'Do you hear me, Javi?' Beckett hissed. 'We got the guy.'
Espo kept his eyes fixed on the ground, tears in them. Beckett reached out slowly, put a hand on his cheek.
'NO!'
He shoved her hand away and staggered backwards, tripping.
'Kevin's not dead!' he screeched. 'Kevin's here!'
'Kevin is not here,' Castle said sharply.
Espo frowned.
'But - but he is. We talk - he talks. He,' Espo suddenly laughed at a memory, 'he tells me all - all about how Sarah-Grace is looking forward to going to school. And how-how excited he and Jenny are.'
Beckett sighed.
She knelt down beside Espo, who stared at her confusedly.
'Javi, Sarah-Grace has been in school for over a year.'
Espo's eyes widened in shock.
'W-what?' he cried. 'No, no, no.'
His eyes flickered around the room. His mind was searching for something, something he couldn't - or wouldn't - remember.
'What year is it?'
'It's 2019,' Castle answered.
'Twenty ninet...'
Espo struggled to comprehend the news. Then he froze.
'Kevin's dead?' he asked Castle.
'Yes,' Beckett replied, trying to be stout.
'But - but Kevin's here!' Espo exclaimed, shuffling away and pointing beyond Castle's shoulder.
Beckett and Castle followed the direction of Espo's finger to the corner of the room. There was nothing there but the corner of the room.
'Espo, Ryan's not here,' Castle said. 'He died. He was killed. And we came to tell you that we caught the guy who killed him.'
'But he's right there, man!' Espo shrieked, climbing to his feet. 'Can't you see him?'
'No,' Beckett replied. 'Because he's dead!'
'No, no, no he's not, y-you guys are - are - are punking me! Just - just stay away from me, don't - don't come near me, OK?'
'OK,' Beckett said soothingly, taking a step back. 'OK.'
Beckett shot Castle another look, one that asked if they should stay or go. Castle shook his head sadly. Beckett understood.
'Hey, Espo,' she said. 'We have to go now.'
'But Kevin - Kevin's staying?' he pleaded.
'He's not going anywhere,' Castle sighed. 'But we're having lunch with Alexis, so we -'
'Al-Alexis?' Espo asked, shooting forwards suddenly. 'Ho-how is she?'
'She's good,' Castle said.
Espo smiled, relieved.
'She's good. She's good, that's - that's good.'
'Yes it is,' Castle agreed.
'We really have to go,' Beckett said. 'Espo, we'll see you soon, OK?'
Espo sat back down in the middle of the room.
'Y-you say hello to Alexis for me,' he said.
Beckett and Castle nodded, which seemed to please Espo. He raised a hand while they walked out of the cell, but the moment the door shut behind them he returned to whispering something unintelligible.
And with that clang, Beckett felt a sense of relief. Being in that cell, seeing Espo again, had been constricting, stifling. She couldn't breathe. Outside, she took deep breaths, gathered herself.
'Are you OK?' Castle asked.
Beckett shook her head.
'No, Rick, I'm not.'
She didn't want to say more in front of Nurse Jeffers, so while she locked Espo's cell door, they left the mental hospital. After the pressure of the situation inside, the gentle breeze and the knowledge that it was over felt calming to Beckett. Her urge to cry fell away.
But she still couldn't talk.
'Do you think we should have told him Bracken ordered the hit?' Castle asked. 'It might have jogged his memory.'
Beckett took a sharp breath at the mention of Bracken's name. Bracken, who killed her mother, who had been running for the Presidency when she arrested him, who sought his revenge behind bars by ordering Beckett to be killed, whose hitman fluffed the opportunity by missing, but sought to draw her out by capturing and torturing Ryan and Espo ...
'Kate?'
She jumped, startled.
'No,' she said. 'Espo's too far down the rabbit hole. We must've told him five times that we caught the hitman and he never heard us once.'
Castle looked up at the sky.
'At least Ryan's with him,' he said thoughtfully.
Beckett followed Castle's lead, looking up at the blue sky above. Perhaps it was because she had come from such a constricting atmosphere that in comparison the sky was even more peaceful than usual, but she didn't feel it.
There was so much she wanted to say: that Ryan should be alive and well and with his family; that Espo should never have wound up in a mental hospital; that it was not a consolation that Espo didn't remember their friend's death ... but the rational part of her knew it was the risk cops took. She had given the speech at the police academy saying just that a few years ago. But it had been easy to say that then. Ryan and Espo were still around and she and Castle were together and thinking of children; those words now didn't seem to help with the pain she felt whenever she thought of Ryan, whenever she thought of how it was her fault he had died. So maybe, even though she didn't believe it herself, it was better to believe Ryan was still with them - in whatever capacity they preferred.
'I guess so,' Beckett said.
She held out her hand for Castle to take.
'Come on. We don't want to keep Alexis waiting.'
And with one final deep breath to steady herself, she put Espo out of her mind. Until next week, when maybe this time he would remember -
Kevin wasn't here.


© Copyright 2017 Sam Pinson. All rights reserved.

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