|To Love & Live in LA
Author: Paige Terner PM
Kate Beckett has suffered another tragic loss and can't stand to stay in New York, where the memories are unavoidable. Can new places and new faces help her rise from the ashes of her painful past? AU.Rated: Fiction T - English - Chapters: 14 - Words: 44,400 - Reviews: 142 - Favs: 66 - Follows: 117 - Updated: 06-22-12 - Published: 04-13-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8020594
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: To Love & Live In L.A.
Summary: Kate Beckett has suffered another tragic loss and can't stand to stay in New York, where the memories are unavoidable. Can new places and new faces help her rise from the ashes of her painful past? AU.
Disclaimer: I don't own most of the characters I write about. If you recognize a name, odds are it isn't mine. But seeing as this is a fanfic website, you probably knew that already.
Thanks again to Sunshiny-Kate, the best beta a writer could ask for!
Katherine Beckett trudged up the gangway from the plane to the terminal. She had just been through the longest ten hours of her life. She'd sat through two layovers, both nearly two hours long, and was in the air for a total of almost six hours. Not to mention the time it took for the plane to taxi from and to the building before and after takeoff. But it wasn't the time spent that had exhausted and annoyed her. It was the crying baby that had traveled all the way from New York to Los Angeles with her. Well, not with her, but near her. The young couple was on their way to visit the baby's grandparents, and had literally been within twenty feet of Beckett for most of the trip. And the baby obviously didn't like planes or airports.
She stepped out of the movable hallway and was actually taken aback. Even though she'd flown to California several times before she was still amazed by the size and splendor of LAX. Somehow living in New York most of her life had not numbed her to the beauty and intricacy of giant man-made structures. Her awe was cut short by the abrupt jostling that came along with someone bumping into her. They didn't even mumble out an excuse me or glance in her direction. Apparently rude commuters weren't only in New York.
With her moment of wonder gone, she started towards the terminal exit. She didn't need to go to the baggage claim because she'd had most of her things shipped to her new apartment. It had been expensive, but it made the move a lot easier. The few things that were too precious to trust to anyone else were in her carry-on. And judging by the crowd headed for the spinning conveyer belts of bag confusion, she was glad she had foregone the use of suitcases.
Once she was outside the balmy warmth eveloped her immediately. Before leaving to take her to the airport, her dad had fussed at her for only wearing a light jacket, but she'd reminded him that she would only be outside in New York for a few minutes and she didn't want to start sweating the moment she stepped into California. And since she was carrying two bags, carting around a discarded coat didn't sound too appealing either. So she'd stuck with the jacket.
She saw a line of taxis that was seemingly unending. Seeing other people walking up and climbing in to them, she did the same. After selecting one, she opened the back door and slid in.
"123 South Figueroa street, please." She told the bald-headed cabbie. "It's on the corner of Figueroa and Second street."
"You want the scenic route?" He asked without turning around, his voice bored and gravelly, sounding every bit like a two pack a day smoker.
"No." She answered. "Quickest way please."
He nodded and headed for a road that a sign told her was interstate 105. She just wanted to be done with traveling for the day. Plus she'd have plenty of time to see the sights, seeing as how she lived here now. She settled back in the seat and realized she was actually nervous about seeing her apartment. She'd gone on virtual tours and discussed its layout, amenities, and other details at length with the realtor, Heather Winn, but she'd still technically bought it sight unseen.
It was far from the nicest place in Los Angeles, but it was affordable and was pretty close to the main office for her new job. Also, the complex had an outdoor pool and a small work out room, so that made Beckett happy. And her apartment in New York was apparently just as desirable as when she'd purchased it, because even with the bad market it had sold quickly. That gave her one less thing to worry about.
Thinking about her old apartment made her think about New York. Thinking about New York made her think of her father and all the things that led up to her moving out here. Thinking of those things made her sad. And she wanted to be done with sad for the day. She leaned over and propped her elbow on the door so she could hold her head in her hand. From her new position she could comfortably take in the view as it blurred by. She let her mind escape into numb, touristy mode and she began to feel a hint of relaxation ebbing in.
Thirty-seven minutes later Beckett was slipping her shiny key into the deadbolt of her new apartment door. She swallowed and turned it, heard the click of the tumblers releasing, and then moved to the other lock that was located in the knob. She felt it give way so she removed the key and pocketed it. Her hand gripped the knob and she turned it, feeling swept up in nervous excitment as she pushed the door open.
The sun was setting outside, so there wasn't much light coming through the mostly closed blinds on the windows. Beckett stepped inside and found the light switch. When she flicked it up, the small entry hallway was the only thing that lit up. She frowned in thought and headed into the living room. She saw another light switch and was pleased when it bathed the entire main room of the apartment in light. Now that she could see better, she sat her oversized purse and fully loaded carry on bag down and began walking around, taking in everything for the first time.
Her gaze fell on the couch, then the easy chair that matched. She looked at the tv sitting on a simple entertainment center, then noticed the small table surrounded by four chairs in the dining nook. She threw a glance at the kitchen, nodding in silent approval when she heard the gentle hum of the refrigerator. There was no dishwasher, but Beckett didn't use that many dishes so that wasn't an issue. She knew each floor had a community washer and dryer room, so she didn't have a utility room to investigate.
Realizing she'd seen all there was to see in the main area, she started towards the bedroom. Halfway to the hall she found the pile of boxes she'd shipped. Heather had met the delivery guys and let them in so Beckett's stuff would be waiting for her. The boxes held her clothes, books, a few of her favorite dishes and some other incidentals. She decided to finish checking out the apartment before staring to unpack, so she continued to the hallway and into the bedroom.
It was small, but it would be enough space for her. All she'd be doing in there was sleep anyway. She found the closet, which was going to require some creative cramming to fit all her clothes. She would make it work though. She sighed and walked to the bathroom. Again, small, but doable. As she stepped out of the bathroom she noticed a door across the room. Her eyes lit up and she went to it, opening it excitedly.
She'd actually forgotten about the balcony. But here it was. And the view took her breath away. She could see part of downtown LA, and about ten miles away she could see the Hollywood sign from its perch on the hill. Her little spot of outdoor real estate had enough room for a chair and a table, so once she obtained the two pieces of furniture this would be a great place to sit and read. Maybe living here wouldn't be so bad after all.
Suddenly Beckett remembered that she had promised to call her dad when she got in, so she went back out to the living room. She pulled her phone out of her purse and made the call. It rang one-and-a-half times before her father's warm voice came though the speaker.
"Did you get in your new place okay?"
"Yeah I did." She answered.
"Do you like it?"
"It isn't home. Not yet anyway." She sighed. "But it'll do just fine."
Her father had never really been a man of many words, so when he had something important to say, he usually went quiet for several moments. Beckett heard the telltale silence and sat down on the couch as she let out another sigh.
"Dad, please don't."
"You wouldn't let me say this before you left. I should have said it anyway. So I'm going to say it now."
"I don't want-"
"I didn't ask what you wanted." Jim interrupted. "I'm giving you what you need." He paused, and Beckett knew he was choosing his next words carefully. "What happened wasn't your fault, Katie."
"Dad." She whispered.
"No, listen to me. He made his choice. He stood by you. It was not your fault."
"If only I hadn't pushed for answers then he wouldn't...he wouldn't be dead."
"No matter what you did that may have led to that night, the fact remains that it was still his choice to be there. It was his choice to go down fighting. He did it for you, not because of you."
Beckett bit her lip to keep from crying. She'd cried every night since the shoot-out, and she knew she'd keep crying herself to sleep for a while. But she refused to let herself cry about it anywhere else. Even when no one could see her. Several moments passed before she felt she could speak again without being betrayed by her tear ducts.
"Dad, it's going to take me some time. I know I need to work through it, but I just can't deal with it yet."
"I don't want you to lock it away and pretend it didn't happen, sweetheart. That's not healthy, and you won't be able to let go of him."
"I don't want to let go." She said breathily. "I don't want to forget."
"There's a big difference in letting go and forgetting, Katie. You know that."
Beckett took in a shaky breath and let it out slowly.
"I know." She replied.
"Okay." Jim said somberly. "Just remember, I may be over two thousand miles from you, but I'm always just a phone call away."
"I know." Beckett repeated. "Thank you, Dad. For everything. I love you and I miss you already."
"I love and miss you too, Katie. Be careful out there."
"I will." She promised. "You too. Bye."
Beckett heard the click of the line disconnecting and she set her phone down on the coffee table in front of her. She leaned back onto the surprisingly soft cushions and rubbed her hands over her face. Thankfully, before she could get lost in thought, her stomach reminded her that the last thing she'd eaten was a sorry excuse for a hotdog during her second layover.
She stood up and walked absentmindedly into the kitchen. When she reached the fridge she wrapped her fingers around the handle and tugged the door open. She was met by the glaringly bright light of an empty white box. She completely forgotten that she needed to buy some food. Luckily, another one of the reasons she'd liked this apartment was that there was a small market on the complex.
She shut the fridge and walked over to her purse. Once she had pocketed her keys and some money, she went to grab her phone. Fully prepared, she went out the door, making sure it locked securely behind her. She started for the elevator but opted for the stairs at the last minute. The little bit of physical exertion would help her loosen her day-of-travel-stiff muscles. So she opened the heavy metal door and began trotting down the stairs.
Beckett had spent Saturday evening and all of Sunday unpacking and settling in. That meant she'd been left alone with her thoughts. So when Monday morning came around, she was more than happy to be headed to her new job, so she'd have something constructive to do.
A twenty-four minute bus ride brought her to the headquarters of Aegis, the private security firm where she was now employed. She happily stepped off the over crowded and offensively pungent public transportation and headed towards the front doors of the one story brick building. The moment she opened the heavy glass door she felt like she'd walked into a wall of air-conditioning and she shivered involuntarily. She took a few steps inside, letting the door close behind her.
"Can I help you?" A red-haired woman behind the front desk asked with a smile.
"Hi, I'm Kate Beckett." She walked up to the desk. "Today's my first day."
"Oh, of course." The woman's smile grew wider. "I'm Nancy Reynolds."
Nancy's eyes lit up and Beckett found herself transfixed by them. They were blue, but the shade was so pale that they looked almost gray. Then the receptionist extended a hand with long, delicate fingers out to Beckett, who reached up habitually to complete the greeting.
"Nice to meet you, Ms. Reynolds."
"Oh please, call me Nan." She laughed. "Pretty much everyone around here does. Did you get all moved in? You came here from New York, right?"
"Yes." Beckett answered with a polite grin, but home was the last thing she wanted to talk about, so she changed the subject. "So, what do I need to do before I can get to work?"
"Oh, we have an eager beaver!" Nancy giggled.
It was all Beckett could do not to grimace at the outburst.
"I just like to stay busy." She said.
"Well, there is some paperwork for you to fill out." Nancy explained as she turned to a filing cabinet. "Then we will get you your keys."
"For your car."
"I have a car?"
"All our security personal receive a car to use. You will be responsible for gas, but all other expenses are handled by the company."
"I wasn't aware of that."
"Well, surprise then!" Nancy giggled again.
"Okay, so forms and keys. Then what?"
"I'll give you your assignment and send you on your way."
"When do I meet the capt...um, the boss?" Beckett asked.
She had done a phone interview and exchanged several emails with the founder of Aegis, but of course had not had a chance to meet her in person yet.
"Oh, she's off doing a press thing. You can meet her this afternoon. Or tomorrow." Nancy paused when she looked up and noticed Beckett's confused expression. "Look, here's the skinny. You'll be given someone to look after. This will sometimes be an hour long assignment, like for a transpo. Other times you'll be with the same person for a week or two, traveling on a interview circut or whatnot. You don't have to come in to HQ everyday. You'll get most of your assignments by phone call or email." She halted her spiel once more as she attached some papers to a clipboard. "Aegis is a great company to work for. You do your job, keep your charges safe and hold off the fangirls, and you'll soon realize you have the best job in the world. We have staff meetings sometimes, and yes, the boss'll want to meet you soon, but no worries. She'd never have even called you for the phone interview if she didn't already plan to hire you." Nancy handed Beckett the clipboard and a pen. "These are your standard emergency contact, direct deposit and tax forms, and other boring stuff we have to have in your file. Fill them out, take your time, and then we'll get you your employee i.d. and all that good stuff. Then we can get you to your car and send you off to your first assignment."
"Okay." Beckett replied simply, dumbfounded by the rush of information Nancy had delivered on just two breaths.
The phone rang before either of them could say anything else. Nancy sat down and reached for the handset while Beckett found a chair across the room. She looked at the top form and pulled the top off the pen. Then she sighed and began putting ink on paper.
A little over an hour later Beckett was making the last turn that her GPS had told her she'd need to make. Just ahead of her she saw a twenty-foot wide gate with an adjoining guardhouse. Beyond that she could see buildings that she assumed housed some of the soundstages. She slowed to a stop in front of the gate and rolled her window down just as a guard walked up to her black sedan. The smiling man had messy brown hair and happy green eyes.
"Morning." He greeted her. "May I please see some ID?"
"Good morning." Beckett responded as she grabbed the small badge that showed her picture, name, and job title off of the passenger seat. When she turned back to him she took note of his nametag. "Here you go, Lincoln."
"Thank you Ms..." He paused to read her badge. "Ms. Beckett."
She nodded in reply and Lincoln scanned a page on the clipboard he was holding. He pulled a pen from his chest pocket and made a notation, then handed her the badge back.
"You're good to go." He smiled again. "Just follow the main road until you hit building seven. Then hang a left and you'll see a parking lot."
"Okay." She said. "Thank you."
"No problem. And welcome to Zenith Studios."
With that, Lincoln walked back to the little guardhouse and a few seconds later the gate began to slide to one side. Beckett waved to him as she drove off through the opening. There were people everywhere so she had to creep along at a snail's pace. It took nearly five minutes to get to the large building that was emblazoned with an equally large numeral seven. She quickly found the parking lot Lincoln had mentioned and when she pulled in she saw two other black sedans that had the Aegis logo on the door like hers. She parked next to them, shut off her car, clipped her badge to the hem of her shirt, and climbed out.
After breathing in a few deep inhalations of the ever warming late morning air she headed towards a door she saw on the side of the building. She opened it tentatively, realizing that she didn't really know where to go. Nancy had told her that she'd be working with a couple of other PSOs for the first job or two, until she learned the ropes. She knew that she'd gotten into the studio because Nancy had called ahead to put her name on the authorized entry list, but she hadn't told her what the other officers looked like, or who the client was that they were working for.
Suddenly she felt lost and a little stupid for not even asking Nancy the names of her new, albeit most likely temporary, co-workers. Oh well. She'd made a living off finding murderers for most of her adult life. Finding a couple of fellow security officers in a warehouse-esque building couldn't be that hard. She stepped the rest of the way inside and headed towards the only group of people she saw in the room. This might be even easier than she thought.
As she drew closer she heard a robust laugh coming from someone in the center of the group, followed by a smattering of loud chuckles. The small crowd grew silent again except for one booming voice, and Beckett determined it was from the same person whose laugh had echoed off the walls moments ago. There was something oddly familar about the voice, but she couldn't put her finger on why. She didn't think there'd be anyone here she would know, but that voice...she'd definitely heard it before.
When she was still several feet from the group she angled herself so she could see who was talking. No one seemed to notice her walking up because they were too engrossed in whatever he was saying. He was moving his hands animatedly as he spoke, and he kept rotating slightly to try to look at everybody as he told his tale. It was during one of these turns that Beckett finally got a look at his face. She froze when she saw who he was.
This was a dream. It had to be. She would wake up any minute now and have a good laugh at her own expense. Because the man at the center of attention was her favorite actor. And there was no way that on her third day of living here she would see him. There was no possible way that on her first day of work she'd be assigned to not only the same studio he was working at, but the actual building he was filming in.
Yep, this was all a dream.
Because the man entrancing the crowd, and now her too, was Richard Castle.