A/N: Well, this post-ep to 3.02 has been bouncing around my head for a week now. It changed a little over time, and I'm not sure how I feel about it exactly, but I think it's done either way. I hope you enjoy it. As always I own nothing.
It was easy for someone to say they believed in psychics.
It was easy for most people to say that though they personally hadn't seen any evidence of the supernatural that they were open to the existence of things that weren't exactly explainable. Maybe they personally couldn't commune with the dead, or see ghosts, or do magic, or fly, or turn invisible, or make rainbow-coloured lights appear in the night sky with a wave of their hand, but most people liked to secretly believe that there was an outside chance that the un-scientific was at least possible. That everything wasn't quite so black and white, that as they went about with their day to day lives something otherworldly might be happening to someone, somewhere.
And why not? It was easy to say that you wanted to believe in mystery.
Just as it was easy for Castle to say he believed in psychics.
But personally Kate didn't have that luxury anymore.
She was a cop. She dealt in facts.
Cops gathered evidence, collected it, analyzed it, sometimes mentally rearranged it, whatever was necessary. Hell, sometimes you just stared at it for an hour. And while you were looking at it, sometimes you got an idea; or you realized that you needed more information to get a complete picture. And then you went and collected more evidence. Eventually, if you were thorough, and hard-working, and a million other things (maybe even a bit lucky), then you caught a killer.
If you had the right evidence of course.
The whole process was all very logical, arguable, provable.
It had to be.
Anything else was just dangerous. It was sloppy police work and it lead to assumptions, to running down blind alleys and wasting time. Sometimes it even led to killers walking.
That was the worst.
And that's why the logical, sensible way was best. No matter what else a cop might want to believe.
Because let's face it, most modern juries won't convict a man for murder based on the advice of a psychic's vision. Especially since most of the so-called visions inevitably consist mainly of things like "I see running water, lots of bright light and movement," a description so vague that in a pinch it could describe almost anywhere in the city. Like any cop Kate had figured out early on that vagueness was an asset to any good 'psychic.' There were exceptions of course; sometimes one of 'em got something right. But it happened so rarely that it was probably just the result of prior research or pure dumb luck.
Which is why most good cops ignored so-called psychic visions, unless they were desperate.
Kate'd made a promise to herself once that she'd never let herself get that desperate ever again.
It was the best all around.
Even if a part of her regretted the necessity of ignoring a belief in the impossible.
She hadn't always been that way.
When she was young Katherine Beckett had loved a good faerie story as much as the next person, probably more actually. She'd inherited the reading gene from both parents and before she could read the stories on her own, she'd been read to. She remembered curling up beside her father while he read her faerie tales. And not just the sanitized Disney versions either. Young Kate was told tales of young girls being lured into bogs by malevolent sprites, of witches in the woods, of women being forced to walk the world for years in search of something that seemed unfindable. She'd been enthralled. Before she even picked up a book of her own Kate already knew more about faeries than most people. And once she did learn to read, she spent a part of most evenings with her nose buried in a book. During her elementary school years she's devoured countless stories featuring plucky young heroines travelling to magical worlds, meeting magical creatures, and getting over their fears and somehow saving the day. Or sometimes their worlds weren't actually magical, but the protagonist's lives were made wonderful and exciting by the people in them, and the things that happened. She'd loved it. So Kate Beckett grew up reading about young women who got over their fears and somehow managed to save the world, or sometimes just themselves.
All the while building her own little castles in the air.
Kate's castles changed as she grew older, became influenced by the realities of life. She didn't stay quite so idealistic as her ten year old self had been. The innocent adventure stories made way for romance novels, some of the classics, the odd mystery. Still all the books had a lasting effect; her original major in university had been English. And she always enjoyed the lure of a good faerie story, even if she didn't quite believe in them as readily as she once had. But, from time to time (and like most people) she let herself indulge in the fantasy.
If you'd asked her she'd have said that she wanted to believe it was possible.
Then all at once her castles faded from view.
Any secret dreams of becoming an English teacher seemed irrelevant after her mother's death. A lot seemed irrelevant in the face of such a senseless killing. It wasn't fair. This wasn't how her life was supposed to go.
But supposed to or not, this is what Kate got.
So while everything else was falling apart around her, Kate steeled up. She dealt with the mystery of her mother's death by devoting her life to finding killers.
In and of itself it was almost like a faerie tale. Girl's mother is brutally murdered. Girl responds to life-changing event by becoming a police officer to help those in similar situations. Thanks to a lot of hard work and a pure heart the girl finds and punishes her mother's killer along with countless others. Good triumphs over evil and balance is restored. Kate hadn't thought about any of her decisions like that at the time, at least not consciously. But after a lifetime of reading, her subconscious had been so inundated with faerie tales that the narrative tropes of children's fiction had to have been an influence.
And to an extent her plan had worked. Joining the NYPD had given her life enough focus that it'd forced her to pull herself together at least enough to function. Kate forced her conscious mind to forget about the faerie tales she no longer believed in, trading in the stories for something more productive. When she did feel the old familiar longing to immerse herself in fiction she turned to crime novels and murder mysteries. After all, at least they might help her understand why some people could do the things they did to each other. That was the type of story Kate Beckett needed to understand now. She didn't live in a world of happy endings anymore. She lived in a world where most marriages weren't happy, where affairs were discovered with shocking regularity; in fact it was generally acknowledged that a romantic partner was the most likely suspect in a murder case. She spent her days surrounded by sad, unhappy people who needed her help, who wanted the answers she never got. Because of her motivation Kate got herself a reputation as someone who wouldn't let anything go.
And she'd look at each and every single angle to do it.
As a police officer you were exposed to crazy people fairly frequently. It came with the territory. Witnesses to crimes came in many shapes and sizes. Good cops tried to keep an open mind. So when Kate crossed paths were her first psychic she figured why not? After all, what could it hurt? Yeah, chances were that the man was a complete crackpot, but that didn't mean she shouldn't at least listen to what he had to say. And who knows? Any messages from the great beyond he could relay might just be helpful. So, despite her supervisor's disapproving shake of his head, Kate had asked a Mr. John Mallory, psychic, what he knew about the death of their vic, a Manhattan housewife.
Mr. Mallory's response involved a jealous influence in the victim's life, the sound of traffic and the colour green, which was all about as helpful as you'd think. When the crime turned out to be almost entirely random, motivated by a psychotic break, not any overwhelming envy, Kate'd ignored her supervisor's triumphant look and told herself that she'd never really believed that Mr. Mallory was a psychic, and that she'd only talked to him on the off chance that he was right.
It certainly wasn't because she'd wanted any of it to be possible. That kind of thinking was foolish.
Still Kate usually tried to give the psychics and the mediums a fair hearing. After all, just because some (or even most) of them were frauds didn't mean they all were. And Kate wasn't so close-minded that she couldn't acknowledge that there might be some things she couldn't explain. Except that sometimes the psychics were more a hindrance than a help. She came to realize that they influenced the investigation. Their insubstantial predictions influenced her train of thought, much as she tried to remain objective. And ninety-nine percent of the time they were either wrong, or if they were right in any way, it was completely useless.
Despite all that, Kate wasn't quite ready to give up on them completely. After all, when it came to murder any lead, no matter how much of a long shot it was, should be pursued, right?
That's what she always told herself anyway.
Then came Vera.
Vera Van Horne. Almost certainly not her original name. Another one of New York City's many residents with a 'gift.' And at one point or another almost all of the ones with the so-called 'second sight' decided that it was their civic duty to help the police with an ongoing investigation.
At first Vera had seemed more credible than most. She didn't have six shawls wrapped around her person; she didn't carry a crystal ball in her purse, or a rabbit's foot, or any other silly nonsense. She'd walked calmly into the police station and asked to speak to someone regarding the murder of Trevor Barclay, a superintendant whose body had been found in the basement of the building where he worked. Apparently Ms. Van Horne lived in the same building and a death so nearby had sparked a vision.
When Kate first met Vera, she'd tried to be optimistic about the potential clues. At least Vera's messages were reasonably straightforward. Kate always hated it when the fakes tried to dress up their nonsense to make it sound more mysterious. Last medium she'd come into contact with had started talking about a lion wearing a blue coat while the deceased emerged from a river surrounded by alligators. Kate had politely shown the woman to the door, promising to take their vision very seriously. Admittedly Mrs. Van Horne's descriptions of a "woman with dark brown curly hair and a worried expression," and "a natural area, like a park, though nothing was specific enough to identify which one" weren't all that helpful either. Still, Beckett had promised Vera that she'd check for there weren't any reports of unusual activity at the parks nearest to the building, and double check that none of Mr. Barclay's acquaintance matched Mrs. Van Horne's description.
The psychic just smiled at her, seeing through Kate's polite smile. "You're sceptical," she told Kate. "That's fine. Not a bad thing. I see it a lot in police officers, comes with the territory I assume. But you're also more open than most. Try not to lose that."
"Thank you," Kate said evenly, then she got up to thank the psychic for coming forward and escort her from the station.
But Mrs. Van Horne wasn't done. She quickly took Kate's hand and looked her in the eye. "I see, I see something in your past," she said dramatically. "A tragedy. Someone in your family."
Kate had been utterly shocked; she couldn't even react in time to stop what was almost certainly coming.
In hindsight Vera's inferences about her past wasn't all that surprising. Kate'd learned long ago that she wore her tragedy on her person like a coat. That someone who was perceptive enough could look at her, at her job, at the way she carried herself, and make an educated guess about what had happened to her.
Castle had done it practically the first day they met. But it wasn't the first time she'd experienced it.
Mrs. Van Horne gasped for effect. "Oh, my dear," she said, false sympathy positively rolling off of her. "I'm so sorry. Your mother, she was killed wasn't she? It's what inspired you to become a cop."
Kate still hadn't been able to reply.
"I'm getting a message from her now," Mrs. Van Horne continued, apparently unperturbed by Kate's lack of response. "She says, she wants you to be happy. And she's proud of you."
Kate finally grabbed her hand away from the psychic like she'd been burned. How dare this woman presume to know what her mother would think? How dare Vera Van Horne dig through those wounds in what was probably only an attempt to make herself look more credible, to make Kate believe what she said? How dare this fraud use her mother's death to... to further her own career? Kate tried to control the anger she felt rising up in her chest.
"I'm sorry if that upsets you," Mrs. Van Horne said, obviously surprised by the change in the previously contained police officer sitting across from her.
"My personal life isn't any of your business, and I don't appreciate people poking their nose into it," Kate said tersely.
"I'm sorry," Mrs. Van Horne replied, all false sympathy. "I didn't mean to upset you. There's something else if you're interested."
Kate hesitated. She was angry, furious actually. She should really just throw the woman from the station. Listening to any more was a bad idea. But when she opened her mouth to do get rid of Mrs. Van Horne once and for all Kate paused. A small part of her couldn't help being curious. Maybe this was the one time her faith would be justified. And didn't she always tell herself that when it came to murder any lead was worth following up on? Surely that held true of her mother's case even more than most.
Mrs. Van Horne took Kate's silence as acquiescence, "The man who killed her. He's an important man, he wanted her dead. Tall, dark hair, and an evil smile. She got in his way. And nothing is as it seems. I see a rose, and the colour purple, a ring and a book. Does that mean anything to you dear?"
Kate's breath clogged her throat and she couldn't reply, her hand compulsively reaching for the ring hanging around her neck. Had the psychic been able to see it?
"I hope you find out what happened," Mrs. Van Horne added. "You have strength of character. Your mother wants me to tell you to look after your father. And to try and let her go."
Kate found her voice then. "Please leave," she said hoarsely.
"I'm sorry if I touched a nerve dear," Mrs. Van Horne said again, still positively oozing sympathy. "But I couldn't in good conscience not tell you what I saw, not when I got such a strong vision."
"Please go," Kate said again. "I'll get someone else to see you out." She couldn't do it herself. Couldn't spend another second with this woman.
A ring. If the Vera hadn't seen her necklace it was one hell of a coincidence. What if it wasn't a coincidence? Could it... could the rest of it be possible? Could this be the break she'd been hoping for all this time?
Kate had tried to brush it off. Knew it was implausible. And she was still in the middle of another case. She didn't have time for this now. Still, that evening she couldn't help going down to the storage room, getting out her mother's file, and looking for any evidence of something that was missed, of roses or books. Or even the colour purple. Even when Mrs. Van Horne's prediction about Mr. Barclay matched up with reality about as well as any other 'psychic' visions usually did (ie. poorly), Kate couldn't rid the idea from her head. That insidious hope that she might have a hint of a clue about her mother's case. That maybe the woman had given her the key to solving her mother's murder. That maybe what little (hidden) faith Kate had left in the mysterious and unexplainable wasn't completely unjustified.
After two weeks of nearly running herself into the ground it'd taken Lanie practically forcibly removing her from the station, getting her drunk and hiding her mother's file to make Kate drop it. Then she had to take a couple of vacation days to force herself to put it behind her completely.
The day she got back to the precinct Mrs. Van Horne (née Jessalyn Smith) was arrested for fraud.
That night Kate cried herself to sleep.
But when she woke up the next morning she promised herself (and Lanie) that she was done with her mother's case. This wasn't a novel. This wasn't a fairytale. This was the real world. And in the real world you weren't guaranteed a happy ending. There was nothing else Kate could do. She'd worked on the case long after most people would have given up. Some of them were just unsolvable. It was the way of the world.
Kate also vowed never to listen to a psychic again. Because in the real world it wasn't possible to communicate with the dead.
So Kate gave up her stories for good.
Well, not all of them.
She may have kept the mystery novels.
She'd been reading her entire life; she couldn't just give it up cold turkey. Besides, maybe the mysteries were still a good idea. They'd help her with her job, help her catch the killers. Plus, they still helped her understand some of what she saw every day. At least a little bit. It was almost therapeutic.
And yeah, okay, maybe the mystery novels weren't quite reality. After all, the detectives almost always caught their killer eventually. But a little bit of unreality, of unhealthy optimism, might be good for her. At least in general. The gritty world of crime novels certainly didn't lend itself to fantasies of happily ever after. They were still close enough to reality to be safe.
Slowly Kate started putting herself back together. Minus the magic. Nothing that smacked of the occult. Some of the nonsense may have seemed harmless, but she knew first hand that it wasn't.
It wasn't good detective work, and it was dangerous. You ran down blind alleys because you wanted to hope. But in the end it was just false hope, and that helped no one, least of all the victims.
She was done with that sort of thing. Stories belonged in paperbacks, not police stations.
Then, in a series of events that could have been taken from the fiction she'd banned from her workplace, Kate Beckett got a writer for a partner.
And though she'd spent two years trying to deny the fact, Kate had to admit to herself that though he could be infuriating, insane and even incomprehensible sometimes, Richard Castle was her partner.
His way of thinking was different, but it did help her solve cases. And that drove her crazy too.
Mainly because it conflicted with her entire worldview.
Castle wanted to believe. He wanted to believe in the fantasy. That things existed that human beings just couldn't explain. That there was an infinitesimal chance that fairies really existed. That sometimes you could defy the basic laws of physics. That the prince carried the princess out of the castle on a big white horse after slaying the dragon. That people lived happily ever after. That sometimes psychics and mediums spoke the truth.
It was admittedly still an attractive idea. Even to Kate.
And the more time she spent with the irrepressible writer with the almost childlike sense of fun, the more Kate found herself wishing, despite her job, and her past, and the fact that the world had basically systematically drummed all the magic out of her, that she could believe again.
Castle would have told her it would be good for her.
To be like the Red Queen in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and believe three impossible things before breakfast.
She still couldn't actually do it, even though she wanted to. Craved it really. Sometimes late at night she even found herself thinking about faeries again. And she wanted someone to tell her a story. Only this time it wasn't her father spinning the tale in her mind, it was Castle, his voice convincing her that his often absurd and unrealistic stories might come true.
The man certainly had a way with words.
It was why of all the detective stories she'd ever read over the years, his were her still favourite.
Because Castle's willingness to believe in magic shone through, even when his characters were at their most cynical. Because in a Richard Castle novel the hero was always so secretly hopeful. And lurking underneath all the cynicism and the murder and the betrayal that each book always featured among the criminal element, was the tentative idea that maybe there was still magic that lurked in the everyday. And no matter how cynical Derek Storm got, when it came right down to it, he almost always took a chance on the unknown, and it paid off. In a Richard Castle novel there was so much damn potential. In a Richard Castle novel there was always a chance that a seemingly nonsensical clue from a psychic would save the day eventually.
And in her secret heart Kate wanted that still.
She wanted to be one of those people who could at least say they believed in possibilities again.
Maybe she wanted Castle to convince her.
If anyone could do it he could, with all his immaturity and his innocence and his kindness and his nonsense and his fun.
He called out to the girl she thought she'd buried long ago. The girl who'd spent her evenings buried in a copy of Grimm's Faerie Tales. Who'd built castles in the air, and longed to go on a quest and save the day. And who'd dreamed of a handsome prince to make her happy at the end of the day, after she'd saved the world obviously.
Castle spoke the language of stories. And Kate never could resist the call. Not even now.
She was half terrified, half exhilarated by the thought that she was being pulled back into that world. By him.
Richard Edgar Castle, or, if you prefer, Richard Alexander Rodgers.
It was an insane coincidence, nothing more. She knew that logically. Detective Beckett was still done with psychics. Still didn't believe. No matter how lucky they got. Their latest victim's daughter wasn't the one psychic who'd be right, any more than the fraud who'd broken her heart years ago would be.
Kate'd been disappointed too many times to give in that easily.
After all, Alexander was a very common name.
But somehow that didn't seem to matter.
Just as it didn't matter that she'd been disappointed before. By lots of people, most recently by him.
There was still a small part of her that wanted to hope.
Because that meant there was still a chance her story would get that happy ending.