Taken from the castlefanficprompts tumblr page: "Your mom was one of the best detectives and youngest to ever make Captain. Your dad is a world famous author of multi series. Not to mention your older sister is a scholastic genius. You have a lot to live up too. But poor Lily is almost out of high school and has no clue what she wants to be in life. She feels like a failure. Maybe her family can help her out."
A/N: Okay this story is a bit of a mess, but practice makes perfect right? This is a oneshot, but I have decided to use this story thing to create a collection of prompt fills (so each chapter will be a oneshot for a prompt). I'm currently taking prompts from the castlefanficprompts page and browsing it for inspiration, but should there be any specific requests, please just let me know. Hope you enjoy! :)
The loft is quiet when Lily settles on the couch, her computer in her lap, pamphlets spread all around her. Spring break has just begun, and everyone but her was out somewhere. Jake and Reece are on a school trip to D.C., her dad had gone to the library a few hours ago to write because he kept getting distracted by all the videogames and other things he could play with at his home, and her mom texted her to let her know that she was working late and that she could order dinner for herself.
Lily had just ordered Chinese takeout, a habit she had picked up really quickly from her family early on in life, before deciding to sit down and use the rare opportunity of being in the living room with no interruptions.
She is eighteen now, and graduation is fast approaching. All her peers seem to be able to discuss these days are which college they would all be attending. Lily had been to several college fairs, had had numerous discussions with her guidance counselor, and had tried to listen to see what her friends had to say about the topic, but she eventually had to admit that she was lost.
The pamphlets that she had picked up at the college fairs hadn't been of much help, but she really felt pressure to make up her mind. Everyone already had some form of idea of what they wanted to do with their future – everyone but her. And she can't help but think that she should have something in mind too. So she wants to take this evening to go through every bit of information that she had collected and have a brainstorm session during which she would conjure up possible career paths that may interest her even in the slightest.
With a sigh, Lily opens a random pamphlet and reads through the information she had already memorized once more. They all sounded the same after some time. Every college promised to offer the best opportunities, an inspiring community, great preparation for the workplace, and an experience of a lifetime. But none of them told her what they could do with a student that had no direction in mind.
Six pamphlets in, the doorbell rings, and she welcomes the temporary interruption of the food delivery. She returns to the couch, unpacks her dinner, and munches on her dinner while her thoughts continue to race through her head, caught in a loop. What was she meant to be doing? What was she good at? Why did everyone always appear to be so ready to tackle to future and fulfilling their dream of becoming a successful this or that, while she struggled to even pin down what job she wouldn't hate to have?
The rattling of a key outside the door startles her. She hasn't expected her mom home so soon after the text, but when the door swings open, she realizes that it isn't actually her mother returning from work, but rather her older sister entering the loft.
"Hey," Alexis calls in her direction while taking off her shoes and looking through the open living space. "You home alone?"
"Yeah," answers Lily, rushing to get up and hug Alexis. When she was younger, Alexis had played with her all the time, babysat her when her dad was away on a book tour and her mom tied up at work.
Now, she didn't get to see her all that much anymore, since Alexis's occupation as one of New York's top lawyers constantly kept her busy. And if she wasn't at work, she was spending time with her husband and her child.
"Well this is unexpected. What brings you here?" Lily asks as she returns to the couch, Alexis following her.
"Matt's taking Luke to the planetarium. I didn't really feel like tagging along today, so I thought I could come by for a visit. It's been a while… Oh," Alexis pauses as she spots the mess of pamphlets that Lily had left in an unorganized pile. "It looks like you've been busy."
"Yeah…," Lily grumbles in response. She looks up to see Alexis eye her with amusement of her face. "What?"
"You don't exactly look pleased or excited to be picking out colleges," her sister remarks.
"Oh… No, no, it's fine, it's fun really. Exciting stuff," Lily murmurs, already knowing that she is doing a very poor job hiding lying. What was she trying to lie to an amazing lawyer anyway?
Alexis chuckles. "You wanna talk about it?"
Lily considers it for a moment. "I just… I don't know what to do. I don't know what I want to do."
"And you think you should?" Alexis questions with a knowing look on her face.
"I mean, yeah," she lets out in an exasperated sigh. "It feels like everybody knows what they wanna do. All of my friends do, and you should hear my teachers. They make it sound like you're supposed to have some sort of epiphany, some sort of calling that tells you where you're supposed to go in life. And then I look at all of you, and I can't help but wonder if that's really what it's supposed to be like."
She lets all of her thoughts spill out. So far, she has never felt comfortable enough admitting how lost she really is, always felt like she was revealing a weakness no one else - especially no one in her family - seemed to have, but she no longer thinks she can hide her frustration.
"What makes you think that?" Alexis calmly asks, looking genuinely interested in Lily's dilemma.
So she finally decides to reveal the thoughts that had been nagging at her for weeks, maybe even months. "Look at all of you," she starts, "you have it all figured out, everyone in this family does. Do you know how frustrating that can be?"
Alexis laughs. "I think I have an idea."
"Do you?" Lily exclaims, now unable to stop herself. "Dad's known he wanted to be a writer ever since he was young. And he didn't just know what he wanted to be, he just went ahead and published his first novel while still in college. And soon after that, he had bestseller after bestseller. He was even able to kill off one of his freaking bestselling characters. And what did he do? He just created a new one."
Alexis drops her head to hide her smile from Lily, who is clearly upset. She takes her sister's worries seriously, but the memories that just ermerged cause her to smirk nonetheless. She remembers how her dad's publisher and agent had scolded him for giving up Derrick Storm, how even her dad – although not regretting his decision – had struggled to write for months… before eventually meeting Kate and suddenly defeating his writer's block and creating another hit series. Though never questioning her dad's talent, even she had been amazed at his ability to recover so successfully.
She pays attention to Lily again. "Then you have Mom, who is basically the best detective ever, youngest to have become Captain, and then she decided that she wanted more... and became Senator. I know she had to work hard and all, but she just seems to always know what the right thing to do is, and once she decides that she wants something, she makes it work. Something always drives her, motivates her somehow."
Lily gets up to pace around the room, unable to sit still. She kicks a few brochures that have fallen to the floor, so relieved that she is finally able to talk about this particular insecurity.
"My older sister aced pretty much every subject in school and college. Not to mention all your extracurricular activities. I mean, you won like how many trophies?" Lily briefly pauses to look at Alexis and give her a slight smile. She doesn't want her sister to think that she isn't proud of all the accomplishments, isn't happy that she had such an amzing sister to look up to. But when Alexis returns her smile, she feels that it is safe to continue. "And of course, you weren't just successful academically, but you also managed to take care of Dad's P.I. business back then, and eventually, you became this amazing lawyer. Have you ever even lost a case?" she jokes, knowing very well that there had been a few.
"Nope," Alexis replies with the straightest face she can manage. "I am undefeatable."
That at least manages to make Lily laugh before returning to list off her family's success stories.
"Even Jake and Reece already have some direction in their life. Jake's a pro at just about every sport, so he'll probably become an athlete sooner or later, and Reece inherited the theater gene, which is working out great for him too. He was already a child actor on Broadway, how many get to say that of themselves?"
Again, Alexis thinks back, acknowledging the sadness that comes with the memory. Grams had been thrilled that at least someone else in her family shared her passion for acting. As soon as Reece could walk and sort of talk, he and her grandma had put on small productions for the family. Grams was also the one that found out whenever a production was in need of a child and was relentless in convincing his parents to let him audition. Martha watched with pride as her grandson performed on stage, kept every single program his name was in.
She passed away a few years ago, and after her funeral, the family gathered and read the script for the one woman show she'd put on before Kate and Richard had even been dating out loud. It was then that they had discovered that there was a second act, one that described how she had an even more successful life than before – both as a revived Broadway star, and as a proud grandmother of four amazing grandchildren.
"Alexis?" The older woman looks up and notices that Lily has interrupted her rant to eye her with concern. "Is everything okay?"
"Yes, I just remembered something… But listen, Lily, I understand. Believe me, I do," Alexis rushes to assure, returning to the topic of Lily's apparent early midlife crisis.
Lily, who had become increasingly worked up throughout her speech, slowly goes back to the couch and sinks down. "I find that hard to believe," she mumbles.
Alexis takes a breath, taking a moment to conjure up the right words to say, to explain to her younger sibling that her own choice of a career path was not as easy as Lily perceives it to be. But she also understands that this may be difficult to hear from an adult who mostly had her life on track and whose high school experience was years in the past. Many years. Alexis pulls a face at the thought, earning a puzzled look from the girl opposite her.
"I just remembered I'm old," she explains, causing Lily to laugh at her.
"And you point is?" Lily prompts.
"My point is," Alexis begins, "that, although I'm old and have a job that I love, that wasn't always the case. As a matter of fact, I'd gone to college for two or three years already when I came to our dad with the same concerns you have now. I felt lost too," she admitted. "I had a lot of interests, I was good at a lot of things. But I didn't have one key moment that drove me to do something specifically."
When she sees the confused look on Lily's face, she tries to elaborate. "As you know, your mom had her own mom's murder that made her want to be a cop. Dad read a book that inspired him to become a writer, and witnessed a horrific event that pushed him towards figuring out crime stories. But I didn't have that. I had a collection of events happening that made me realize what I wanted to do. Saving a man from being punished for a crime he didn't commit was one. Talking to Kate about her mom's work another, but those are just examples. And once I decided that this was the path I wanted to pursue, I fully dove in, and worked, and worked and studied like crazy. I didn't find my passion, I chose it. No calling. No dream that I'd been working towards since my childhood. Just my strong interest and my choice."
She pauses, but senses that her sister is still unsure. "Look, you know what Dad told me back then? 'Every experience you ever had, every seeming mistake or blind alley, was actually a straight line to who you were meant to be,'" she quotes. "Discovering your path in life is different for everyone."
It is silent for a moment during which Lily tries to figure out what the speech she just listened to means for her. And if she even understands.
"All of my friends know what they wanna do," Lily mentions.
"Well, good for them." Alexis shrugs. "Although I'm certain that they aren't as sure as you may think. Or maybe they are, but when they start their courses, they might realize that it is nothing like they imagined it. Or they realize that they want to do something else entirely. I had a friend who stopped pursuing a degree in law and started taking art classes instead. And you know who else changed their mind?"
Lily looks up at Alexis, noticing the slight smirk on her face. "Who?" she gives in.
"Your mom. She had a genuine interest in law and a serious goal. But her life ended up changing so much and so did her goals in life. And I don't know about you, but I'd certainly say that changing her career didn't indicate failure. And even now, she is chasing new challenges and passions all the time. Becoming a cop wasn't an all-fulfilling thing. So even when you're an adult, have a career, have a family – there is still always time to find new passions. And I think life turned out pretty well for her."
Alexis leans back, finally seeing her words have some positive impact on her sister, and the hints of a hopeful look appearing on the girl's face. "That being said, if you want, we can get together sometime this weekend. We could discuss your interests, and then maybe see if you can do some internships that can provide you with some insights into some jobs. How does that sound?"
Lily's lips finally quirk upwards, a thankful smile now clearly visible on her face. "I'd like that."
Eventually, the girls decide to shove the college brochures aside, abandon the serious life-advice conversation, and begin to chat about Alexis's family, recent movies, and who Lily will go to prom with and oh gosh what will she wear.
Not much later, Castle and Beckett come home to them. Both tactfully ignore the brochures that they notice scattered around the floor and join in on the lighthearted conversation. Both are aware that their daughter had become increasingly distressed over her future, but could also sense that Lily didn't want to discuss it with anyone yet. However, it now appeared as though she had finally opened up, and by the looks of it, Alexis had been successful in soothing some of her worries, at least for now.
When it starts to become late, they all get up to tell Alexis goodbye as she returns home to her own family. Their next small family reunion at the Hamptons is already planned, and the promise of a get-together so soon makes it easier to send her home.
"Thank you," Lily whispers as she hugs Alexis at the door.
"That's what sisters are for."