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March 5, 2014 10:49 am  #1

A Castle story

"Dad?! Dad, are you home? Where are you?!?"
Richard Castle looked up from the laptop.  What was his daughter doing here? She was supposed to be in her Sociology class.
There was a note of hysteria in her voice.  Something was really upsetting her.
"I'm in the office," he called back. "I've almost got this chapter finished. . . ."
Alexis appeared in the doorway, eyes reddened with tears.  "Dad! I've been trying to call you all day! I must have left at least five messages, why didn't you pick up?"
He glanced at the phone lying beside him. "Oh! I must have turned it off when I started writing. I got inspired, and you know how often that happens - namely, never.  I figured with you in school and Martha off in Philly for that Actor's Symposium of hers, I finally had a chance to get some work done with no distractions."
At the mention of Martha's name, Alexis began to cry. Castle, already alert to his daughter's distress, was now even more concerned.
"Alexis, honey, what's wrong?"
With a sob, she blurted out "Gram's dead!"
She tried to compose herself. "I got a call this afternoon. I was on my way to class when my phone rang. It was the Philadelphia police. They said they wanted to talk to you, and I figured it was something about either one of your books or a case you worked on, so when I gave them your number they said they'd been trying all morning to call you with no answer, and that's why they called me. Then they asked me if I knew Martha Rodgers, and when I said she was my grandmother, that's when they told me she was dead."  Her voice choked on another sob.
Castle tried to absorb this news. "Do they know what happened?"
"She didn't show up for her round table discussion. They waited for her, but after about 15 minutes, they sent someone up to her room to check on her. The door was locked, so they got Hotel Security to let them in." Alexis stifled another sob and wiped her streaming eyes. "She was . . .she was lying . . .on the bathroom floor. They said it looked like she'd been getting ready for bed." She took a deep breath. "They said it was most likely very quick, and that it must have happened sometime last night. When they found her, it was . . . too late to do anything."
As Alexis recounted the news, Castle powered on his phone.  There were six messages from the Philadelphia police, seven from Alexis herself, and two from Beckett. At that moment, his phone rang.
"Kate? I'm in a . . . uh, situation here. Can't talk right now . . . ."
Beckett's voice was uncharacteristically soft. "Yes, I know. I have a friend in the Philly Coroner's office. He knew we worked together, so he called me when they couldn't reach you." She paused. "Castle, I'm sorry about Martha. She was a good woman and a good friend."
"How are you doing?"
He swallowed hard. "It hasn't sunk in yet. I've only known for about five minutes. Look, I need to get off the phone, Alexis is here and . . . ."
"Of course. And, Castle? If there is anything - ANYTHING - I or the guys can do, you'll let us know, ok?"
"Yes. Thank you, Kate." He turned back to Alexis, who was now sobbing openly. "I don't understand. Why did they call you when they couldn't get ahold of me?"
"Because . . . because I was her second contact number. On her phone." She looked up at her father, lip trembling, eyes swollen. "When I couldn't reach you, Dad, I got so scared! I thought something must have happened to you. So I ditched the rest of my classes, borrowed Janie's car and drove up here. I even drove above the speed limit!"
Castle flinched. His daughter was a "strictly by the book" girl. For her to deliberately skip school, much less break the speed limit, she had to have been nearly out of her mind with worry. He sat beside her and put his arm around her. "Honey, I'm . . . sorry. I'm so sorry you had to go through that." In reply, she pulled him to her and sobbed on his shoulder. As he held her shaking frame, he tried to comprehend the news, but he was too focused on Alexis to allow any thoughts of Martha or her death to intrude just yet.
"You'll stay here tonight." he said decisively. "I'll call the school and let them know what happened, and arrange for you to make up any tests or exams you miss."
Alexis nodded, sat up and grabbed a tissue. "Janie said she'll get notes for the classes I missed today. I'll call and ask her if she can get them for the next few days, too." She wiped her eyes, blew her nose, and took a deep breath. "Dad, is there anything you want me to do?"
He shook his head. "No, honey, you  just try to relax. I'll take care of all the arrangements."
She managed a quirky smile. "Actually, Dad, I think Gram already did that."
As it happened, Alexis was right. When Castle contacted Martha's lawyer, he found out she had already planned her funeral, paid for her casket and the cemetery plot, and had left detailed instructions on how she wanted her personal belongings dealt with. He was somewhat surprised, Martha's motto having been "Live for the moment, let the future take care of itself". However he could hear her saying "I didn't want to put you to the trouble, sweetheart. Besides, you know how I love planning parties; think of this as my last and greatest party."
The next few days flew by in a blur. It took a couple of days for the Philadelphia Coroner's office to release her body, and the cause of death was determined to be a massive stroke. A few of her students who were at the Symposium reported she'd gone to her room early that first evening with a headache. They said she'd been pale and hadn't looked well, but she'd insisted a good night's sleep was all she needed.
Meanwhile, thanks to her detailed instructions, the guest list for her memorial service was quickly assembled and invitations were issued by email. All the newspapers printed her obituary (she'd already written it herself), Castle had her eulogy ready (she'd written that as well) and when the day came, it was SRO at the funeral home. Castle mused that the large number of mourners would have pleased his mother very much - she'd always loved a good audience.
The service was short, the music she'd chosen was uplifting and upbeat, and when he got up to give her eulogy, Castle was surprised to see Captain Gates, aka "Sir", among those gathered there. Of course Ryan, his wife Jenny, and Esposito were sitting toward the front, Beckett was just behind Alexis to offer moral support, and Alexis was quietly crying throughout it all. Losing her Gram had been very hard for her - they had always been close, especially since Alexis had grown up without her mother; Martha had filled in as best she could.
The eulogy was a success - as he'd expected. There had been a few chuckles, one or two outright bursts of laughter, and at the end, there wasn't a dry eye in the house, except for his own. He refused to become emotional, and simply concentrated on "performing" her eulogy as she would have wanted.  It hadn't hurt that she'd even included stage directions to make sure it went exactly as she'd planned. As he finished and looked over the crowd, he could picture his mother smiling as she whispered "Nailed it!"

There was no graveside service - she'd never liked those ever since Beckett had been shot at Roy Montgomery's funeral. Instead, Martha had written that she wanted a good old-fashioned Irish Wake, and she had insisted there had to be plenty of good food and an open bar. Everyone had been instructed to have a good time, to celebrate, and "Most important of all - NO CRYING! I want people to be happy I was here, not sorry I'm gone."
In spite of her request, there were quite a few wet cheeks and the occasional sound of sniffling, but in general everyone made merry. Castle mingled with the guests, accepting their condolences, listening to many stories of Martha and her exploits, reminiscing. Alexis mingled as well at first, yet after a while she made a hasty retreat when she could no longer bear to hear "I am so sorry for your loss" any longer. Beckett, seeing her leave, followed and found her in the alcove, weeping.
"Alexis? Is everything ok?"
Alexis sniffed and wiped her eyes. "I feel as if all I've been doing is crying ever since Gram died. Just when I think I'm back in control, I'll think of her and then I'm crying again." She gave a watery smile. "I must look terrible, my eyes all puffy and my nose all red."
"Not a bit." Beckett replied. "You look like you've been through a really rough time." She hugged Alexis. "I remember how it was after I lost my mother. I was a wreck, but eventually I was able to pull myself together and keep on going. It may take a while, but it does get better." There was a long pause and then she added "I know how hard losing your grandmother is for you. If you ever need to talk. . . ."
Alexis nodded. "I'll call you," adding with a sigh "but it won't be the same."
"No, that's true. Martha was definitely one-of-a-kind." She chuckled as she handed Alexis another tissue.
"It's just that I miss her so much!" Alexis wailed as her tears started up again.
"I know." Beckett replied. "I miss her too." She pulled Alexis close, holding her and letting her cry.
Hours later, after the party was over - toward the end there had been quite a few slurred toasts to the late actress, followed by off-key singing and general blubbering (clearly, the open bar had been a huge success) - Alexis and her father made their way home silently. As they walked into Castle's loft and flicked on the lights, neither said a word. Alexis just gave him a hug and kiss, then went up to bed.
She spent the next day cleaning out Martha's room. It was a time-consuming task, but not a difficult one; Martha's instructions had left nothing to chance. That evening, Kate Beckett stopped by after work to provide moral support and advice. Most of Martha's things would go to her drama school as costume pieces, but there were a few items Martha had said to let certain people "Pick what they want out of what's left". Alexis had already set aside a brooch for Lanie - she'd admired it in the past when she'd seen Martha wearing it. With Beckett's help, Alexis picked out a necklace for Ryan's wife, Jenny, along with a picture for Esposito and a book for Ryan.
Beckett, after looking over the remaining items, chose a scarf that had been Martha's favorite. "It's not really my style," she confessed. "Your grandmother and I are . . . were . . . very different people. But this looks exactly like something she'd wear. I know I'll think of her every time I put it on. In fact," she continued, "I think I'll wear it the next time Castle takes me out. It'll go well with that red dress."
Alexis smiled. "You mean his favorite dress? The one you wore when you went to his book signing right after you worked on the first case?"
"That's the one. Actually, I was hoping you'd help me figure out how to wear this scarf with it."
"I’d be glad to. You know, that was always the scarf Gram liked best." Alexis stepped back and looked Beckett up and down. "You'd look great with it tied around your head. Wear it with big sunglasses and have Dad drive with the top down when he takes you out - you'll look just like a movie star."
Beckett smiled wryly. "That sounds like a suggestion your grandmother would have made. She was well known for making a grand entrance . . . .." Without warning, a stray tear slipped down her cheek. "It's hard to believe she's gone."
"I know." Alexis agreed. "I keep thinking she'll come bursting through the door. Gram was always larger than life. Everything seems so . . .quiet with her gone."
Beckett quickly changed the subject. "When are you going back to school?"
"The day after tomorrow. I'd like to stay longer, but Dad has been hinting that I'm neglecting my studies. I think he's looking forward to having the place to himself."
"Well, hopefully he'll be able to get some writing done. Doesn't he have a deadline coming up?"
Alexis smiled. "He's ALWAYS got a deadline coming up. I’m just worried he’ll keep putting it off. The book is due pretty soon, and without Gram to encourage . . . ."
"You mean nag," Beckett interjected with a grin.
". . . all right, nag him into working, he'll just keep putting it off."
Beckett laughed. "Don't worry. Between the two of us, we can keep him on track."
That night, after she had gone to bed, Alexis woke from a sound sleep feeling thirsty. She got up and headed down the stairs toward the kitchen for a glass of milk.
As she reached the foot of the stairs, she saw the livingroom was dark, except for a small circle of light from the lamp beside the couch. She turned toward the kitchen, and then realized her father was sitting on the couch in the shadows. She wouldn't have noticed him there if he hadn't moved slightly.
"Dad? Is everything ok?" she asked, concerned.
He was staring at his hands. He nodded, but didn't look up.
As she peered closer, she saw he was holding a bracelet, turning it over and over. She recognized it immediately - it was the one her grandmother had worn when she and Castle had been taken hostage in a bank robbery. He'd used it to signal a code to the outside world, and it had been a favorite of her grandmother's from then on.
He sighed. "I found this in the couch cushions. I remember when your grandmother lost it; we tore the place apart trying to find it. We searched for days with no luck." Another sigh. "And then when I sat down tonight, I felt something hard against my hip - and there it was."
"I didn't know she'd lost it."
Castle nodded. "It was about a week before the Symposium. She'd wanted to wear it for good luck. I managed to convince her she didn't need luck - she had enough talent without it." His voice trailed off.
There was a long pause.  Then, "What are you doing, sitting here in the dark?"
He still couldn't meet her gaze. "I didn't want you to see me . . . like this."
"Like what?" she said, turning on the overhead lights. As the room brightened, she caught a glimpse of her father's face. He looked as if he was having the worst allergies of all time. Reddened eyes, puffy, swollen nose - and the table beside him was littered with used tissues. "Dad, I'm a big girl. I can handle seeing you cry."
"I'm not crying," he replied shortly. "Your grandmother left specific instructions that we weren't supposed to cry."
Alexis sat down beside him, putting her arm around his shoulder. "Dad, Gram was many things, but stupid wasn't one of them. I'm sure she wasn't expecting us to NEVER cry; she just wanted to make sure we didn't go overboard with grieving . . . that we didn't let all this get us so down that we couldn't eventually be happy again."
"But I'm your father," he responded. "I'm supposed to stay strong for you."
"And you have been," she replied. "But you can't be strong all the time. Maybe it's time you let me be the strong one for awhile." She smiled. "As I said, I'm a big girl."
"No," he said sadly. "You're not a big girl anymore. You're a young woman. And I'm having a hard time dealing with that.” His eyes took on a faraway look. “I remember when you were born; I couldn't understand how something so small could inspire so much love. And then, when your Mom and I split up, your grandmother came to help me raise you." He turned to her. "She did a good job."
"You both did."
"I was so proud of her, just like I'm so proud of you." There was a pause, and then he mused "I keep thinking about the last time I told her I loved her. Kate and I had been captured by bad guys, and your grandmother just happened to phone right at that moment. I asked if I could take the call, and ended it by telling her "I Love You." Luckily, she knew what I meant by that - so she went to the precinct and then they came and found us."
"I remember that. I thought you were really clever, getting the message to Gram without tipping off the others."
His eyes filled with tears. "It may have been clever, but . . . I never said it to her like I should have. I never did tell my mother how much I loved her!" He choked back a sob.
Alexis pulled him closer. "Dad, Gram knew you loved her, even without you telling her. Same way you knew she loved you; she didn't say it all that often either."
“I know, and you’re right. But she didn’t need to say it; it was always obvious to me.” He turned away. “But I wish I knew if she knew how I felt. Was it as obvious to her?” He glanced at the bracelet in his hands. “She wasn’t a perfect mother, heaven knows. And I was hardly a perfect son. But I loved her. I really did.” His voice broke. “I loved her so much . . . !” He buried his face in his hands, desperately trying to hold back the sobs that threatened to break through. Alexis wrapped her arm around him and laid her head on his shoulder.
“Dad, it’s ok. Holding it in won’t solve anything.” She moved closer. “Let it out. It’s what Gram would want you to do.”
“She hated seeing people cry,” he said, with a hitch in his voice.
“She hated seeing them hurting even more. I think she would forgive you for this. No,” she added quickly, “I KNOW she’d forgive you.”
“Oh, Alexis . . . .” his voice broke, and the tears finally began to fall. She held her father as he wept, hesitantly at first, and then freely. After a few minutes he sat up and wiped his eyes with a sigh.
“Do you feel better?” she asked quietly.
He nodded. “A little, anyway. For now.” 

“Then go to bed. Some sleep will do you good.” She hugged him tightly, and added “Don’t worry, Dad. Kate promised to look after you while I’m at school. And we’ll still call each other at least once a week, right? Plus you can email or text me anytime. I’m not THAT far away.” She stood up, turned out the lights and added “It won’t be easy, I know, but you’ll be ok. We both will.”
He nodded. “What time do you want me to wake you?”
“No need, I’ve set my alarm. I’m already packed and I’ll just catch the train back. You go ahead and sleep in.” She turned back, quickly hugging his neck. “I do love you, Dad. You know that, right?”
“I know. And I love you too.” In a resolute tone, he added “I’m going to try to tell you more often. I don’t ever want to wonder whether you know how I feel.”
“Dad, I never have wondered,” she said with a smile as she kissed him on the cheek. “I don’t think I ever will.”

Last edited by caircair (March 5, 2014 11:03 am)

"We have our stalking memories, and they will demand their rightful tears."

May 6, 2014 5:27 pm  #2

Re: A Castle story

Really lovely writing.  I admit I watch Castle at least in part to see him (although I would of course settle for Ryan or Espo) cry.  I've heard Nathan Fillion is a very good crier, though this series has been disappointing in that regard.  Sigh, guess I will have to read your great fanfiction 

" do not cry. They will do anything BUT cry. They stop themselves crying. And eventually they do cry if it is bad enough. So that's how you know with a man how bad it is for him. Because he would've stopped himself...Men always cry like that. They don't cry and in the end they do and if they do then it's overwhelming." ~Michael Caine

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