A/N: Yes, I know. Another story. I'm sorry. I am finishing the last two chapters of "Serious Literature" as you read this, and hopefully the muse will strike again on "Live Fast Die Young" soon as well. Anyway, this little plot bunny came up and bit me so here you go. AU from Kate's shooting, and you'll soon see why. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Castle in any way shape or form.
Jim stared down at his hands, watching how they trembled. He spent a few moments debating why they were shaking so badly- if it was because his leg was jogging up and down nervously, or if he was really that on edge. He didn't know. He didn't know anything anymore. Everything was turned on its ear in one simple moment, and suddenly, he couldn't think, couldn't move, could barely breathe.
Because his daughter had been shot.
All the sounds, the speech going on around him was dulled, muffled. He couldn't focus if he'd wanted to. His daughter had been shot and he was going crazy himself. A small voice yelled out at him inside his head, telling him to wake up, pay attention, screaming not to go back. But he couldn't help it.
"Jim? We haven't seen you in a while, would you like to say something?"
Jim Beckett felt his ears start to burn with the heat of embarrassment. Here he hadn't even been listening, paying attention. And they wanted him to talk? The other man's gaze didn't waiver, so Jim sighed and stood up from his chair. He nervously twiddled his fingers, ran a hand through his hair, looked consistently at the hard concrete floor below him. Anything to avoid the looks on their faces. He knew what he would see if he made eye contact with any of them. Anger. Disappointment. Jealousy, perhaps. Worst of all, pity.
But he knew that all in all it was no use. It was time to put up or shut up. For everyone's sake.
"Hi everyone. My name is Jim and I'm an alcoholic." A chorus of resounding "Hi, Jim" responded and he grimaced. "Most of you already know me, and that's not the important part anyway. I've been sober for over 11 years and four months. Going strong. Or at least, I was."
Jim fell silent then, his conscience burning so hot inside him that he was sure it was radiating onto his face by now. He wiped his brow anxiously. "I... I fell off the wagon. I don't know how... well, that's a lie. I know how it happened. About a month ago, my... my daughter was shot. She's a police officer, a detective, and it's always been in the back of my brain that something might happen to her, in the line of duty. But this was different."
He looked down at his hands once more, toying with the simple wedding band he still wore on his ring finger, a distraction to keep the back of his mind busy. "She was at her Captain's funeral, delivering the eulogy. A sniper shot her mid-speech. She... she hasn't told me exactly, but I know it had something to do with her mother's... with my wife's case.
"Anyway, I broke down that night. I was there at the hospital, saw her carted in for surgery. They didn't know if she was going to make it. Everyone else was there waiting for her too. It kind of broke out into chaos, and I slipped away, just to get some peace of mind, some fresh air. That... that's when I broke. I had my first drink in over eleven years. I... I was-" Jim felt his throat starting to close up, and in his moment of panic he glanced up and accidentally made eye contact with the group leader. Before he darted his gaze away, he managed to catch a glimpse of empathy and encouragement in the man's eyes.
"You're doing fine, Jim. What were you going to say? If you don't mind me asking."
He hesitated before continuing, then remembered how much it had helped him to hear the experiences of others in the past- the good and bad. In some ways, it was encouraging to hear from those who struggled, even years down the line. It made them seem fallible, normal. It made the goal of getting sober attainable once again. So he spoke. "I... I hid it. From my Katie. From everyone. I was so ashamed. Embarrassed that I'd gone back to that place. You don't know how badly I'd hurt her in the past, how I'd abandoned her. And there she was fighting for her life, and I'd abandoned her again. Of course, I'm sure many of you know exactly where that thought cycle gets you. Disappointment, anxiety, depression, self-loathing. The whole nine yards, and it only leads you back to another drink. Which only makes you feel worse. Until you're so drunk you can't see straight.
"I kept it together, mostly, while she was in the hospital, except that first night. I-I lost it then. After that, I nervously waited for her to recover, staying mostly sober. It got a lot harder when she checked herself out of the hospital, against medical advice, one week in. She'd decided that she didn't want to be in the city anymore, because it put her on edge. So we went out to the country. Long story short, she found out about my drinking a week ago today, kicked me out. I admit, it set me back. I spent the first day completely hammered. When I finally sobered up, I decided to come to a meeting, which is why I'm here tonight. I need... help. I need to nip this in the bud. I need my little girl back. I can't let her down anymore than I have."
Jim sank back into his seat, knees giving out beneath him. It took everything out of him to admit all that. He wiped at his cheeks, wet with his own tears, and an ache filled his heart. He had lost so much already. He couldn't afford to lose Katie again. What if she wasn't taking proper care of herself? What if something happened to her while he was gone? She was walking minimally, when he'd left, and she'd promised that she'd have people to call to take care of her more when she needed, take her to physical therapy and the like. He somehow doubted that. Another wave of guilt crashed over him. He was hurting his daughter- physically this time, by denying her his assistance. It had only been six weeks since her shooting.
With one last shuddering breath, Jim composed himself, setting his jaw firmly. He was resolute in his decision. He had to get better, for his daughter. And for himself.
He only hoped he wouldn't be too late already.
One Week Earlier
Castle startled from his sleep suddenly to the angry sound of his ringtone. He blinked slowly at the display on his phone, first trying to comprehend the time and how it could be three o'clock when it was still the middle of the night. But then he registered the face of the person who was calling, and he sat up ramrod straight, eyes wide and hyper-alert. For a moment he didn't know what to do. She hadn't called him in over a month. Five weeks, to be exact. Five weeks of disillusionment, anger, disappointment, and bitterness.
But she was calling now.
He knew what he had to do. On a heavy sigh, Rick answered the phone and raised it to his ear. "Beckett?"
Silence greeted his ears. He glanced at the screen once again to make sure she hadn't chickened out and hung up on him, but the seconds were still ticking by on the phone call. "Beckett? Kate? Are you there?"
He heard it this time. The quiet noise that snuffled in the background, the deep gasp for air as she presumably brought the phone closer to speak into it. A pit formed in his stomach at the sound and the realization. Kate Beckett was crying.
And there it was. Not a question, not quite a statement either. Her voice was filled with tears and pain, slightly garbled and strained. His heart broke for her. "Kate. What's wrong? What's going on?"
"Castle, help me. I need you. I can't... I can't... I can't-"
"Shh-shh-shh. Hey, it's okay. I'm here for you," Rick soothed gently, comforting, even while a part of him spiked with hope at hearing the words I-need-you coupled with his name. "What do you need? You name it, I'll get it for you, as soon as possible."
"I... Mom. My mom. I want my mom, my mama, my mom..."
His heart sunk as he listened to his partner spiral further and further into hysterics. Things must be really bad if she was that confused and desperate. Before he even registered what he was doing, Castle found himself hopping out of bed and scrambling to find clothes- some to wear and some to put in a bag, just in case. "Kate. Beckett. Stay with me, Beckett. Don't panic. I'm on my way. Where are you?"
"M-my dad's cabin..."
That would be good enough for now. She'd told him about the cabin before, and he had a rough recollection of where it was. "Is someone there with you right now?"
"N-no. No one here."
Fear spiked in his veins. She was all alone? Recovering from a bullet wound and traumatic surgery all by herself? That couldn't be good. He was too worried to entertain the question of where Josh might be for longer than two seconds. And besides, she was alone in the middle of night and he was her phone call. "Okay. Can you stay on the line for a while? I'm heading out right now."
No response met his ears, but he could still hear her sniffling, so he took it as acknowledgement. "I'm leaving right now. Okay? Can you hear me?"
More sniffles. God, something had to be really wrong for her to be crying this hard, and to turn to him. "Rick? Please hurry. Pl-please."
Castle felt his gut clench, slamming the door to the loft shut hard behind him. "I'm on my way, Kate. Just hang tight a little longer."
A/N: I have plans to continue this one, but not gonna post it until I have finished more. Review please?