A/N: Okay, now that I'm done crying, I can post this. I wanted to wait and post it for Monday, but the story wouldn't shut up, and it's sexual assault awareness month, and I am a survivor who desperately wants to make people aware. So, I edited this a bit just because even I can't deal with the death of a child, but I think that the important stuff is there, and I really hope that whoever prompted this likes it, or helps them figure out their feelings if that's what they need. Trigger warnings apply, but It's not really graphic, just mentioned.
This case hit him hard. If Kate had noticed, she didn't say anything, but the whole time he was working it with them he felt like he was in a fog.
It hadn't started out that way. No, at first it had been a simple stabbing, her body discovered in the subway. Then they had an ID. Jenna Chapman, a 21 year old college student just shy of her 22nd birthday and graduation. Interviews with her family members told them she was smart, somewhat childish, and that she genuinely cared about the happiness of others. But it was what they found on her social media accounts that stuck with him, and made his heart fall.
She appeared on camera, thick black glasses obscuring her eyes, her dirty blonde bangs sweeping across her forehead. The camera angle was strange, but she didn't seem worried about that. She was on a mission. "Hi everyone! My name is Jenna, and I want to change the world. Before I tell you more about that, there are a few things you should know about me." He learned a lot about her from those few minutes of rambling. She liked to watch crime shows, a lot of crime shows. He didn't watch them anymore, not while he got to live it every day. She liked fantasy books, books with dragons. He also liked books with dragons. She was ambitious, wanted to be a doctor, and was crafty. He laughed when she called herself a dork, finding so much of himself in her words, "I embrace my dorkiness." He cringed at her music taste, having no use for country music. After hearing all of this, he felt like he knew her. He felt like having a conversation with her wouldn't be awkward at all, not while they had dragon books to talk about.
It was her next statement that stopped his heart and sent a chill down his spine. "I was molested." She went on to talk about how she planned to end the shame that managed to seep into the soul of survivors, and how she hoped people would share the video, starting conversations in their community. She urged other survivors to come forward, telling their stories so that newer survivors, ones who still held on to that guilt, would realize that they weren't alone. "You are more than a statistic on a data sheet listed on a .gov website." She told the camera, her courage making him wish that he could make a difference in the world too. And it touched his heart, knowing that people out there wanted to make a change.
The video had made its way around the precinct, starting conversations between many officers, and of course Ryan and Esposito. When they approached Beckett, she bit the inside of her cheek before she answered. "I think that she was a brave girl who had a chance to change the world. That only makes me want to solve her murder even more."
Castle just nodded in agreement. For once it appeared that he was taking the job seriously. He wasn't cracking jokes, hiding behind his wall of humor. Instead, he was doing paperwork (much to Beckett's surprise), looking at the financials and combing through the victim's social media accounts, looking for any threats or problems with people.
"Dude, are you okay?" Ryan asked him when he hadn't joined in to heckle Esposito.
Castle shrugged. "I will be. This one just hit close to home."
He saw a flash of recognition in the younger detective's eyes. Ryan bobbed his head up and down. "Alexis is around Jenna's age, right?"
"Yeah." Castle's voice was flat as he answered. "They seem pretty similar. They might have been friends." It wasn't why this case had hit close to home, but he wasn't about to tell the detective why. He hadn't told anyone. He didn't know how to tell anyone.
Ryan's lips pursed as he took in the writer's answer. "We'll get the guy. We always do."
Castle nodded, his eyes not looking up from the screen as he clicked yet another blog post, reading through the comments, looking for threats. "I know."
All day without a break in the case does not make for a happy bunch of detectives. And Castle had been the most disappointed to leave at the end of the day, dragging his feet behind his wife as they left for the elevator. On the way home, he didn't protest about her driving. He never once reached for the radio. His music ADD couldn't bother him if he wasn't listening anyway. He just kept hearing her voice in his head, telling him, "We ordinary people can do extraordinary things in this world."
If Kate noticed his odd behavior, she didn't press him about it. She sang along with the radio for once, relishing the fact that she could listen to an entire song without him changing it. Back at home, they kicked off their shoes and ordered food, each relaxing with a book on the couch. Her feet rested in his lap, something he didn't mind, as she fell into the world of Nikki and Rook again. Rick had selected a fantasy book, hoping to be transported as far away from his current state of mind as possible. The problem was, he couldn't concentrate. He would read the same sentence three times and it still wouldn't sink in. When it took him ten minutes to read a page, he gave up, tossing the book onto the coffee table, and moving Kate's feet so he could go get his laptop.
He sat back down on the couch with it, and typed away, the noise from the keys amplified in the silent room. "Are you working on a fight scene?" Her voice made him jump, even though he knew she was there.
He tilted his head to the side, meeting her hazel eyes that were glinting with amusement. "Why would you ask that?"
She grinned. "You only type that furiously when you are working on a fight scene. Or if you're angry."
He was angry. He was upset at the injustice that their victim had endured. Twice. That she had survived a terrible situation just to be murdered, and that her family, which had bounced back from the initial trauma, now had to deal with her death. But he didn't say that. He didn't want to talk about that yet. So he changed the subject. "You can tell what I'm writing based on how I type?"
She laughed. "Sometimes." She bent down the corner of the page she was on and placed the book down in her lap. "When you write dialogue, you type carefully, like you don't want to lose your flow. Like you might lose the character's voice in your head if you stop." She grinned. "Toward the end, when you are resolving the case, it's like your fingers are so happy to be done, that they bounce on the keys." She chuckled out loud, her face turning a light red. "When you write love scenes, you stop a lot, like you are trying to get it just right. I can almost hear you asking yourself, 'is it okay to say that?' But when you do type, it's fast, like you can't wait to get the words on the screen, like the characters are moving too fast for you to keep up."
He pictured this as she talked, imagined what his fingers must sound like too her. "I didn't realize I was that predictable." He chuckled as he looked at her, her lip caught between her teeth and her hazel eyes dancing with mirth. "How long have you been watching me?"
"Less time than you've been watching me." She quipped as she tried to conceal the smirk on her face.
"Fair point." He grinned at her and went back to typing, his mind at least a little clearer than it had been. When the food arrived, he got up to pay, and they ate at the table, talking about anything other than the case. Neither of them wanted to touch it, the uncomfortable subject matter of her video swirling around in both of their heads. But they remained silent about it, wanting to stay in their happy worlds for a bit longer.
It wasn't until they were getting ready for bed that they even broached the subject. It was his fault. He couldn't get the image of this girl out of his head, and he watched her video again hoping to shake her out of his system.
"This case really got to you." She noted, resting her head on his shoulder and watching with him.
"It just stinks, you know?" He answered, resting his hand on her knee. "She lived through some serious trauma, and came out the other end, ready to take life by the reigns and make a difference. And now she's dead, and her whole family has to suffer again, get justice for her again. And that sucks."
"Not again." She whispered, nuzzling closer to him. "I talked to her Mom. Jenna's abuser died before they got justice."
"Seriously?" His stomach fell as he thought of that family. He didn't even want to think about what her family was going through. "Kate, we need to catch this guy." They couldn't be left without justice again, it just wasn't fair.
"I know." Her fingers laced with his on her knee, and she squeezed, letting him know that she understood. They watched her some more, and he switched clicked on another link. It was her. She was further away, but it was Jenna, speaking in front of her congregation. She spoke faster in front of a crowd, but the message was the same, she wanted to change things. "I can't imagine going through what she has." Kate spoke again, softly.
He had never really known butterflies until then. He was sure that his heart was beating so fast that she could hear it, and his mind was racing with a thousand thoughts, all screaming at him at once. Should I tell her? Why wouldn't I, we're married. She'll appreciate me for telling her. Or maybe she'll be mad that I kept a secret. Maybe it's better if I don't tell anyone. Staying quiet hasn't caused an issue for me yet. What if she pities me? I don't want her to pity me. I don't want her to look at me as less of a man. Would she look at me as less of a man? Will she be freaked out when she learns that he was a man? Will she tell anyone else? Of course she wouldn't, that would be terrible. Once I do this, everything changes. Is it all worth it? But the words came falling out of his mouth before he was able to process his thoughts, his vocal cords and mouth moving without his control. "I get it."
He felt her tense beside him and slowly pull away. He guessed she was looking at him. He didn't want to look at her, he didn't want to see the way those words affected her. So he continued to stare at the screen, no longer listening to Jenna's sermon, just watching the subtle movements of the camera as they sat on their bed in silence. "Are you telling me that…" She trailed off, unsure of what exactly to say.
He didn't answer, and she didn't press him to. They sat together until his screensaver popped up on his laptop, a photo collage of them through the years. He decided to answer then, with a simple nod of his head. She reached out to grab his hand, clasping it tightly between both of hers. "Babe, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." She whispered, her voice cracking. He felt her hand on his cheek, her thumb running in smooth circles over his stubble. It was then that he looked at her. Tears were brimming in her hazel eyes, but she didn't look at him with pity. Instead, she looked hurt.
"I should have told you sooner." The idea that he had hurt her by keeping this secret made his heart stop. He never wanted to hurt her.
She shook her head, dropping her hand from his face. "No. You didn't have to tell me at all." She paused, thinking about her next words before she said them out loud. "And I am so honored that you trust me with this."
He believed her words, but her face didn't reflect them. "Why do you look so upset?"
She sighed, sniffling and wiping her eyes. "I'm not upset with you. I'm upset for you. I'm angry that you had to experience that, sad about the pain it must have caused, and proud of the person you are today despite that." She flashed him a very small but tender smile, one meant to reassure him. "And I am always here if you want to talk."
He squeezed her hand, and tugged her back into him, so her head rested against his chest. He pressed his lips to top of her head, and they stayed like that for a few moments, fully appreciating the enormity of the situation. "I was nine."
"You don't have to tell me."
He tugged her tighter as she spoke, thankful that she was there for him, helping him get rid of this burden. "I know." He paused for a minute, nervous, because what if she didn't want to know? What if what he had already said was enough? "Unless you don't want me to tell you."
She sat up again, meeting his eyes. "Babe, you tell me whatever you want to tell me, and keep to yourself what you don't want me to know. This is kind of uncharted territory for me but I'm here for you, right by your side."
He clasped her hands between his, and looked away before continuing. Looking her in the eyes was intimidating, and he didn't want to stop. He wanted this open line of communication with her. "I was nine, and it was one of the producers for my Mom's show. I used to play backstage with the props, invent worlds for myself, and sometimes he would join in." His breaths felt shallow as he talked, and his heart was racing. "I trusted him. One day he took me into his office, and he just started…" He couldn't say it, and despite his best efforts, a tear rolled down his cheek. "When I said 'no,' he threatened to fire my Mom. And that he would spread the word, so that she would never be hired. I was young, but I knew what that would mean for us. We'd have nothing. So I let him do what he wanted."
Kate shook her head. "You didn't let him do anything."
He wanted to believe those words. More than anything, he wanted to understand how she could say that with such certainty. "Sure I did. I didn't get help, or make him stop, or even tell my mother."
"Look at me." She demanded. He couldn't ignore her when she used that tone of voice. So he did, finding her eyes filled with tears again. "You were a nine-year-old kid. He was an adult. He was an adult who knew that he was in the wrong, and he manipulated you." Her hand touched his face again. "He was a predator. And you never let him do anything. And don't you forget it."
He smiled at his wife then, a genuine smile. She said this was uncharted territory, but she was doing just fine. "I'll try, I promise. Just remind me of that every now and then."
"Always." She tucked herself back into his chest, relaxing and letting him figure out what he wanted to say next.
"I think that's why I got kicked out of so many schools. I hid my pain and anger behind this class clown persona. But any time my Mother threatened to pull me out of school and homeschool me on the road, I calmed down, at least for a bit." He remembered Martha telling him that it was all over once, that she had gone through all the schools she could find. He spent hours the next day in the library and making phone calls, searching for other options. Anything other than the road. "It got better when I started writing. When I could really put my pen to paper and process my feelings. The anger slowly disappeared and was met with acceptance. It happened, but it didn't have to define me."
"I'm proud of you, for doing all that work on your own."
"It wasn't easy. And there are still issues sometimes. I get anxious before I go to any of Mother's shows. I refused to ever visit Meredith backstage. And I was relieved when she didn't fight me for custody, because I sure as hell wasn't letting my daughter backstage either." He would never forgive himself if Alexis ever experienced this, and was determined to do anything in his power not to let it happen.
"I'm guessing you never saw him again."
He shook his head. "No, but I looked him up. No one's come forward with allegations." He closed his eyes, the fatigue setting in. "I can't be the only kid, Kate."
"Probably not." She agreed. It was something that he hated, that there could be more people out there in the world like him, afraid to turn in that producer for any number of reasons.
He looked back at his laptop, the screen blank. "I wish I could do something. Something that could help other people like me. Other survivors."
She swiped at the mousepad, bringing the laptop to life. "Share the video."
He shook his head. "I can't do that, I don't want to tell anyone else."
"What?" She pulled away to look at him. "That's not what I was suggesting." She pushed a curl out of her eyes and behind her ear. "You have thousands of twitter followers. Share the video, just wait until we solve the case." He had to chuckle at her by-the-book approach. "Start a conversation. You don't have to say anything personal if you don't want to."
He thought it over. She was right. He could just share the video for the message, that it was okay, and that they weren't alone. He could help grow her movement even after her death, and maybe get some people the justice they deserved. "Okay." He agreed.
She wrapped her arms around him now, drawing him closer to her, tightening her arms, protecting him. "And if you are ever ready someday to go public with this, I'll be right here, supporting you the whole way. Whatever you need, I'll be there."
"Thanks." He pressed his lips to hers then, catching her off guard. But she didn't disappoint or pull away like he had feared. It was more tentative than usual, as if she was still unsure of the timing, but it was soft and comforting in just the way he needed. He pulled away from her, and closed the laptop, placing it on the nightstand on his side of the bed. They crawled under the covers then, her head still resting on his chest as they closed their eyes.
"Thank you for trusting me with this." She whispered in the dark.
"Thank you for listening."
A/N 2: So you may or may not have realized this, but the victim is based on me. My name is Jenna (no, my last name is NOT Chapman), and I am a survivor of sexual abuse. And the video I talk about is real ( www DOT youtube DOT com SLASH watch?v=5fz8t8mrDe4 ). Any quote from fake Jenna is something that I have actually said in a video, or posted in my survivor love letter. And I do want to change the world. I don't know why someone would want to kill me (maybe these author's notes...) but I used myself to dive into Castle's story. I have a Facebook page (www DOT facebook DOT com SLASH ordinaryisextraordinary ) (If you click the 'about' button you will see videos both from me and my Mom...) where I urge survivors to come forward and share their stories so that other survivors know that they are not alone. I hated that feeling, like no one else understood me. I also have an official blog ( www DOT ordinary-is-extraordinary DOT com you really need the www with this one or the page won't load) where I post stories and articles and inspirational quotes.
It would mean so much to me if you all could share this information, like the page or something, just to help get the word out. Because in my mind, this can save lives. If I had seen stuff like this, I might have tried to get out of my situation sooner. I'm sorry that I have been harassing you all with these author's notes, it just means a lot to me, and I can't stop speaking up against it. I really hope you all enjoy the story as much as I do, even if it is really freaking sad.