Flowers For Her Grave
Part One of Three
Detective Kate Beckett walked into the crime scene and was immediately struck by a sense of Deja-vu at the scene before her. One she had never actually seen with her own eyes, but had imagined more than once with every re-reading of Richard Castle's "Flowers For Your Grave".
"Who are you?" Kate whispered as she knelt next to the dead woman covered in rose petals, her eyes obscured by sunflowers. Something about the scene felt off, it was just on the fringes of her imagination, but she couldn't place it.
"Alison Tisdale. 24," Esposito replied, as if she'd been asking him. "Grad student at NYU, part of the social work program."
"Nice place for a social worker." Kate replied, she had come from money once herself, but even idf her mother hadn't died and her father gone to the bottle and she'd become a lawyer instead of a cop, she would never have been able to afford a place like this as a grad student.
"Daddy's money," Esposito replied, reading from his notebook. "Neighbors called to complain about the music when she didn't answer they had the super check on..."
"No signs of struggle," Kate replied, "He knew her."
"He even bought her flowers," Dr. Lanie Parish snarked, "Who says romance is dead?"
"So what did he give her besides roses?" Kate replied, not bothering to dignify Lanie's raised eyebrow with a response. Lanie knew she had shied away from a romantic life after Will had given her his ultimatum and left when he didn't like her answer. She lived for her job now. Until her mother could have the justice she deserved, then that was how it will be. She'd settle for finding justice for others.
"Two shots to the chest," Lanie replied, with a tone that said we will talk about this later, "Small caliber."
"Does anything about this scene look familiar to anyone?" Kate asked.
"No," Esposito replied, "but I'm not the one with a thing for freaky ones."
"Oh, but the freaky ones require more," Kate replied, as if she were a guest lecturer at the academy, "They reveal more."
Kate waved her hand at the body on the table.
"Look at how he left her: covered modestly."
"So?" Ryan asked, not sure where their lead detective was going with this. Detective Kate Beckett had an odd, but dogged affinity for figuring out the weird cases. It's why their team always seemed to get the harder, less clearly defined cases. The ones nobody else wanted to touch because they defied any neat box or label to define them.
"So," Kate continued once she had his full attention, "despite all of the effort, all of the preparation, you won't find any evidence of sexual abuse."
"You really get all that from just this?" Esposito asked.
Kate had only been put in charge of their team recently, but they had worked together outside of homicide years ago. Enough that he might ask questions but he never discounted her instincts out of hand like many other cops might after one look at her model quality looks and sky high heels. He had learned years ago that she had a fire in her to solve cases others thought unsolvable, be it Vice or Homicide. She saw things others missed, asked questions others never thought of, it was uncanny.
"This. Plus, I've seen this before," Kate replied
"You've seen it before," Espo replied, hoping this wasn't some cold case serial killer popping back up. He remembered 3XK from back when they were both rookie uniforms. Those crime scenes had not been pretty. "Where?"
"Roses on her body?" Kate asked, noting their blank expressions.
"Sunflowers on her eyes?" she tried again, but still more blank looks.
"Don't you guys read?!" Kate asked. She'd know the scene from "Flowers From your Grave" anywhere, especially after the murder scene two weeks before straight from "Hell Hath No Fury". There was only one man who might have a better grasp of the subtleties of those two crime scenes, their similarities and differences from his books better that she would. It just so happened that she also knew right where he would be, in fact she had planned to attend the launch party for "Storm Fall" before she'd been called to this crime scene, if she put on the gumball she might just make it.
"Looks like I won't be getting my copy of Storm Fall signed tonight," she thought to herself as she swept out the door, more swiftly than any of the men in the room thought possible in four inch heeled, knee high boots. Richard Castle rarely did personal appearances since the death of his mother five years ago. What might have been her only chance to get what was touted as his final novel signed before he disappeared into reclusive retirement would be stymied by her professional obligations.
Richard Castle didn't know how he'd let Paula talk him into attending the book launch party for "Storm Fall" He'd only written it because it was the last on his contract she was fully aware that he'd gotten out of the playboy lifestyle for a reason and being out in public made him paranoid, to the extent that he even sent a driver for Alexis when she came home from boarding school.
He'd been out of the spy game for years, Lieutenant Commander Richard Alexander Rodgers, USN turned CIA case officer had ceased to officially exist long before Sophia had turned up in New York to reactivate him and ask for his help, only to turn out to be the very bad guy she had asked him in to help chase. He'd sanctioned Sophie up close and personal, but not before she'd killed his mother and terrorized his daughter which left him scarred emotionally.
At the end of Storm Fall he'd put down Derrick Storm just like he had Sophie, sparing his readers none of the gory details. Double tap to the back of the head... the large messy exit wounds necessitating a closed casket funeral, leaving Clara Strike to carry on alone. Clara had always been more him than Sophie anyway.
Shortly after finishing the book, he'd gone completely dark. He owned the entire third floor on 595 Broome Street and hardly any of his neighbors saw him or knew who he was. He worked out, practiced martial arts surfed the internet, played video games (he preferred Halo and Skyrim Online) and Skyped with Alexis. His IP address, if tracked - and he always assumed it was - would lead back to somewhere south of Tokyo, Japan and even his internet pseudonyms had aliases.
That was his life now, Richard Castle, mystery writer-turned recluse. He was used to it, comfortable with it, even though he knew Alexis didn't approve. When she came home from school to visit he put forth the effort to go out with her. Buried his paranoia deep so she wouldn't see, or worse, worry enough about him to actually come home. He loved his daughter dearly, but she was young enough to still have a life of her own and he didn't want to poison it like he had his, which was - for all intents and purposes - over.
If he didn't go out, didn't engage, kept a very low profile on the grid and stayed well out of the public eye, he wouldn't be seen as a threat to anyone ever again. Alexis - the only personal attachment he had left - would be safe... even from him.
"You know what I hate about these parties?" Castle complained bitterly, only partially lying to her, he'd hated these things even before everything fell apart. He just hated going to them on general principle now. Thankfully, Gina had been honest about keeping the guest list small and this one would be the last.
"They've become so predictable. 'I'm your biggest fan!' ' Where do you get your ideas?'
"And the ever popular, 'Will you sign my "chest"'. Alexis interjected, with air quotes.
"That one I didn't mind so much." Castle quipped back to hide his irritation, he'd quit doing that years ago.
"Yeah, well, FYI, I did." Alexis replied.
"Just once I'd like someone to come up with something new." Castle shot back, though he really wished Paula would just let him be. Let him go back to his loft and disappear. He'd only come to this damn party because Alexis had practically begged him, and he never could tell her no when she gave him the sad puppy eyes.
"Mr. Castle?" a woman's voice said from behind him.
Castle whirled around, sharpie in hand, ready for a new round, never one to be told he did not meet his obligations "Where would you like it?
"Detective Kate Beckett, NYPD," the tall slender, statuesque woman with the red-tinted bob replied, badge in hand, "I need to ask you a few questions about a murder that took place earlier tonight."
"That's new." Alexis quipped darkly, watching the young-looking police detective lead her father away. She repressed a shudder at the thought of what had happened the last time a tall dark-haired woman she didn't know had led her father away. Bad things that she had spent the last five years trying hard to forget, but that woman's voice hissing in Russian was never far from her thoughts. The gun switching from her head to her grams...
"Choose Richard. Which one lives and which one dies? Who will it be?"
End Part One. Part two coming soon.
Based loosely on the prompt: "Rick was badly hurt and scarred while on a mission with his CIA muse Sophie. He dropped his playboy cover, quit writing and became a recluse. So when the Tisdale murders happen instead of him pulling strings to follow her Kate has to basically drag Castle out of his loft kicking and screaming. She's determined to get him back writing and back into life. She somehow forces him to tag along with her."
I made a few "modifications" to the prompt, went with more emotional scars than physical ones. Part two (and now three) will take us through Flowers For Your Grave with this version of Castle..