Summary: "Frankly, we should've expected something like this. When we're together, Beckett, we're just too damn good. We just overshot a little." Beckett and Castle do things a little too well. Post-series.
Disclaimer: I do not own Castle or the recognizable characters who appear in this story. Any other names, for characters or businesses, are fictional, uncompensated, or are in the public domain.
A/N: A few notes:
1. I tagged this Humor & Fantasy because there's no category for 'Irredeemable Nonsense & Wishful Thinking.' But Fantasy is appropriate, and I'm hoping for a few chuckles on the way.
2. I appreciate this is a risky topic, so what follows is meant in good fun.
3. I've offended my own sensibilities, too, while trying to touch all the bases with this one. Remember, this is just fiction.
"This is all your fault," Beckett growls, staring at her husband in shocked disbelief. "We wouldn't be in this situation if you could just control yourself!"
Castle's defensive options are limited, since they both know she's right. "It's not like you were uninvolved," he tests, cringing at her look of fierce disbelief. Right – not the time to bring that up, he thinks. Holding his hands up in a vain effort to calm her, he avoids making any sudden movements, all too aware of her training and likely reactions. "And look, it's not really that big of a deal…"
"Not that big of a deal?!" Beckett nearly shrieks, causing them both to cringe at the pitch.
"Just a bump on the road," Castle stumbles, reaching for words to mollify his wife but grasping only bland platitudes and hackneyed clichés. "Just a temporary situation. It'll be fun, right?" he asks, flinching. "Just a short detour before we get back to our plan."
"I was supposed to be a Senator, Castle!" she replies.
"So, you're finally admitting Simon was right?" he asks, hoping the return to an old debate between them will reinvigorate her or help restore her usual equilibrium.
But instead, her anger and fear fall away together, leaving only dismay. "I don't think I can do this."
"You'll be perfect, Beckett," he assures her, risking his mortality by approaching and drawing her close. Blessedly, she comes willingly into the cove of his arms, seeking a temporary respite within his encircling strength. She needs this now, and probably for the next several years, at least.
"It's not really a change in our plan," he whispers to his wife as he holds her tight and nuzzles her hair. "Frankly, we should've expected something like this. When we're together, Beckett, we're just too damn good. This is no different. We just overshot a little," he minimizes with a shrug, finally securing a fragile, exasperated laugh.
"Besides," he adds, unable to control himself. "We were talking about moving into a bigger place, right?"
It started as a joke.
Castle had been doing the talk-show circuit again, which proved to be unimaginably taxing. While most shows were light and airy, there were so many touchy subjects – his disappearance, his short-term separation from Beckett, their near-deaths in the loft, his deviation from the Heat series to try something more serious – that he'd been a bundle of nerves preparing for any question that might stray into a minefield. As a result, he developed a tendency to wax loquaciously on safer topics.
It wasn't the hostess' fault. Maya was actually an old friend, someone with whom Castle had spoken many times over the years, always in a professional capacity. There was no romantic history between them, not even the frisson of unrequited tension. He'd mentioned it to Beckett before the interview, about how he was looking forward to that show amidst all the others that his agent Paula had scheduled just because he could feel safe to let his guard down a bit.
They should've known that would lead to disaster.
The first bit had gone okay – gone well, even. Castle started the interview more relaxed than his other visits, and his friend Maya kept the questions focused on his professional works. It wasn't a light interview, since she'd pushed him on multi-book arcs and comparative character developments in his series and standalones, paying particular attention to gender-based conflict and growth. Castle'd appreciated the chance to speak meaningfully about his books and reveled in the topic.
Things went sideways when Maya expanded the scope of the interview.
"So, Rick," she said with a bright smile, "I understand your daughter will be finishing college soon."
"That's right," Castle beamed, never shy about his pride in Alexis. "Look out, world, my daughter will be running the place soon!"
"Always fun to see a proud papa," Maya replied, encouraged and affirmed by some smitten applause from the studio audience. "So, she's going into politics, then?"
"Absolutely not," Castle laughed in reply. "Well, perhaps I shouldn't be so sure. I don't know what she'll do. I only know that whatever it is, she'll do it well."
"That's sweet," Maya offered, "and true, from what I hear. But that was quite an initial reaction, Rick. Your long-time friendship with the mayor of New York City is well known, so I'm a little surprised to hear such an aversion to politics from you."
"I've been exceptionally fortunate," Castle said, building into his answer while taking the hostess and audience with him. "My career flourished and allowed me to visit readers all over the world. I love the travel, I love talking to new people," he said as he worked the audience and the camera by drawing them in. "And I love coming back home. This city, this country – we have the most unbelievable collection of people. All nationalities, all professions, all jumbled together into a vibrant mosaic that provides the most fertile ground for good stories, good friends, and good lives that I can imagine."
Only because she knew him did Maya not interrupt. Perhaps it would've been better if she had.
"So, when you ask about politics, I'm torn," he confessed. "Here we are, surrounded by all these remarkable people, all this talent, all this history, and yet when it comes to electing a leader we're left with these two candidates as our choices?" he'd said in deep dismay. "How did it come to this?"
"Not a fan of our options?" Maya asked, on the trail of an interesting conversation.
"Seriously? How could I be?" Castle had asked, honestly flummoxed. "Do I pick the outsider, the outclassed bully who doesn't have a clue about how to interact with anyone in a way that doesn't involve hate, ignorance, or measuring this size of his… ego?" he asked, not coincidentally while he gestured with his large hands. "Or do I pick the insider who's shown a chronic inability to stay free of questionable ethical quandaries, who points in whatever direction the political winds blow? Is this really the best we could do?"
"Perhaps," Maya had suggested, providing one last conversational exit ramp, "you should vote for your friend Mayor Weldon."
"Bob would be excellent, obviously, and certainly better than either of the candidates," Castle agreed before he hit the accelerator and sped down the road to disaster. "But the obvious choice is my wife, Kate."
"Aha!" Maya laughed. "We've already seen the proud father, and now we get to see the proud husband?"
"How could I not be proud?" Castle asked, which had endeared him to the audience anew. "But I'm serious – Kate's a perfect candidate, and not just in relation to our official choices."
Maya had adopted a skeptical look in order to challenge Castle's hyperbole. "Really? Give me an example."
"Easy," Castle replied, and his wide smile, gleeful expression, and rubbed hands clearly conveyed his enthusiasm. "How often have you heard people complaining about all the crooks in Washington? Anyone?" he'd asked in turning to the audience for ready and loud support. "What has either candidate actually done? But, Kate – Kate marched right into the capitol and arrested a corrupt Senator on the spot. There was no negotiating, no bargaining, no 'you need to respect the dignity of his position' – it was 'turn off the cameras, you're going to prison.'"
"Except they didn't turn off the cameras," Maya reminded the audience. Proving that she'd been prepared for the many directions this interview could've proceeded, Maya had the studio play a clip of Beckett's arrest of Bracken. It wasn't new footage, but it was a powerful reminder of corruption in Washington.
"Impressive," Maya concluded after the clip. "A good example."
"But not the only one," Castle crowed, happy with this line of discussion. "Does your Programming Director have any footage of Vulcan Simmons?" he asked. Satisfied when Simmons' image flits up on the studio monitors after only a few moments, Castle stood and walked to the monitor. "Mr. Simmons was murdered in an attempt to frame my wife. Do you know why it was a promising attempt?" he asked the audience, pausing to await an answer and build suspense. "Because she'd thrown him through a window during one of their earlier meetings," he laughed, embellishing happily. "Do you think Putin's gonna intimidate Kate after she tossed this guy? Plus, Kate speaks Russian – he couldn't even say anything impolitic without her knowing about it."
"Well," Maya answered, her concern that this interview might spiral out of control starting to show, "it's certainly true that neither established candidate can speak Russian. Or toss people through windows."
"Exactly!" Castle laughed, joined by the studio audience. "And nerves – you wanna talk nerves?" he asked rhetorically, gleefully. "My wife stood on a live bomb for eight hours – eight hours! One move, one twitch, and Boom!" he said and clapped his hands, startling many (including Maya), "Goodbye Beckett, goodbye apartment building, goodbye city block. If she didn't flinch then, do you think she'd flinch when dealing with Iran or North Korea? Please," he said dismissively, emphasized with an eye roll he learned from his wife.
"Your wife is obviously a brave woman," Maya said, starting her efforts to shut down this discussion. "But she doesn't have any experience in politics, does she?"
"That's a plus in my book," Castle replied glibly, winning more support from the audience. "Besides, my wife built a successful career hunting the worst kinds of criminals, people who are so unimaginably evil that I tone them down for my books. How is that not 'experience' for interacting with members of Congress?"
"I'm not sure our elected representatives would appreciate the comparison," Maya mugged for the audience and earned some laughter of her own. "This has been an interesting discussion," Maya replied, dropping the pretense of ending this conversation with subtlety. "But perhaps we can…," she trailed off, startled by the noises of discontent from the studio audience. Surprised, she acceded to the crowd and turned back to Castle. "Okay, Rick, then let's pursue this. Any other examples?"
"Just one more," he answered, growing more somber. "Another reason I get frustrated with politics, why many people do, I think, is a lack of resolve. How many times have we heard our leaders promise action on something only to have the issue fade away with no change?" Murmured agreement bubbled up from the audience, diffused and subdued in following Castle's mood. "I'm not a rube. I know there are shifting agendas and opportunities, and sometimes great ideas can be stifled by a lack of consensus. But sometimes," he continued, again looking around the audience and connecting with several individuals, "it seems more like expediency, more like a lack of resolve. Why do we accept that?"
When no one, not even Maya, answered, Castle turned back to the audience and let his voice grow low and urgent. "If resolve is something that matters to you, think about this: my wife got shot in the heart by a sniper while speaking at a funeral. She was back and hunting her shooter three months later," he said, using his painful memories from that horrible time to drive home his point. "So: coming back from open-heart surgery or summer recess on Cape Cod – which do you think shows more resolve?"
"The press coverage of your wife's shooting said that you were the only one who saw the sniper before he fired," Maya replied, addressing Castle while providing more information to a studio audience that probably didn't expect to be swimming in deep political intrigue. "If I remember correctly," she added kindly, while the studio monitor changed to display the New York Times article on the shooting, "you threw yourself forward and almost prevented her injury."
"Almost…," Castle trailed off, looking briefly haunted. Then, as he remembered where he was and who he was talking to, he tried to cheer himself and get back on point. "Clearly, once Kate's elected, I won't be displacing any Secret Service agents."
Maya laughed gamely, tried to use this segue to move the conversation to happier ground. "So, Rick, would you be your wife's running mate?"
"Me?!" he laughed. "I think I'm better positioned for speechwriter and First Husband," he speculated with a laugh. "If she'll hire me – for the speechwriting, not the husbanding! She spent the first four years I knew her trying to get rid of me, so maybe I need to be careful. Although…," he trailed off, lost in thought about something that amused him.
"Share, Rick," Maya encouraged.
"I was just thinking," he laughed again. "I'd need to convince her to appoint me to some position that required confirmation hearings. Can you imagine, with my past?" he chuckled. "That would be fantastic theater. We need to make that happen – people might actually tune in to CSPAN on purpose!" he chortled.
"If not you, then who?" Maya asked, chuckling about his joke. "Come on, Rick, we're building a ticket here. You need a VP candidate, too."
"Well," Castle speculated, tapping on his chin. "Kate's a Castle, right? At least by marriage. And the strongest Castles have Gates."
"Sorry?" Maya asked, confused.
"I don't know if we could get her, but Victoria Gates would be perfect," Castle explained. "She's a Deputy Commissioner at One Police Plaza. Yes, that's her," Castle confirmed as the Programming Manager again impressed with an ability to provide a picture on the monitor. "She came up through Internal Affairs – you want somebody tough but fair to keep things running smoothly? That's DC Gates."
"An all-female ticket?" Maya asked, failing to hide her delight.
"Why not?" Castle replied happily. "About time we try to fix things, right?" That comment cemented his favor with the audience.
"So, Rick," Maya asked, closing the interview as their time began to run short, "how much trouble are you going to be in tonight when your wife finds out that you volunteered her for a presidential campaign?"
"No more than usual," Castle laughed with a shrug. "We've always said we want to keep our marriage interesting, and I think this qualifies!"
"You think she'd go along with it?" Maya asked shrewdly. "Be a shame for reality to dent this grand political revolution of yours?"
"Maya," Castle stage-whispered while leaning toward her, "I convinced her to marry me. That signed her up for much more trouble than she'd face as president. If the interest is there," he'd said, with a secret smile that suggested perhaps a private meaning to his comment, "I'm sure I could get her to run."