Disclaimer: I don't own Castle… these characters belong to the genius that is Andrew W. Marlowe. 8-)
Summary: What if the one moment that changed everything never happened? Castle finds himself "transported" to a world where the murders in Flowers For Your Grave never happened and Castle and Beckett never met. He remembers everything and all his friends have no idea who he is. Has the world gone mad? How's he going to get back?
Tagline: "If" is a very big word.
Spoilers: Basically the whole series (up to about Countdown) – nothing too serious.
A/N: Today is Monday, April 18, 2011 – there was something I was supposed to do today… now what was it? Oh yeah! :P I'm posting the start of my new story If. The idea for this gem started floating around my mind awhile ago and as soon as I had a good solid plot to work with, I decided to write it. I hope that this story lives up to all the hype and excitement it has attracted. The poster, banner, and EPIC trailer were made by the phenomenally talented Christy (ImraArdeen1 on Youtube) – give her some love for her amazingness! (You can see the banner, poster, and trailer in my profile page).
This story turned out to only be about 63 pages on the border of 64. I split it up into a prologue, nine chapters, and an epilogue. I'm not sure about the update schedule quite yet, but once I figure it out, I'll let you guys know. Please leave a comment if you can! I want to know what you guys think of this story. This is my second Castle story, but my first time writing a full-fledged murder integrated in it… I would also like to give a little "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SCHATZIE!" shout-out. :) I hope you like your b-day present, Schatz. *hug*
Okay, okay, I hear you guys. You all just wanna start reading already. I'm not even sure if half of you guys read this part. :P Fine… without further adieu, I give you If. :D
The precinct was vacant save for three detectives and one best-selling author. They were all sitting next to each other at Beckett's desk staring at the murder board full of pictures, facts, and dates. This case was getting on everyone's last nerve. It was late and they were all dead on their feet.
Ryan cut the silence, "How long have we been working on this case now?"
"What day is it?," Esposito turned to his partner with all seriousness.
"Cut it out, guys," Beckett pushed herself off of her desk, "We've gotta be missing something."
"We've been over every bit of information a million times over," Castle said.
"Yeah, and if I have to look at any of the files one more time, I'm gonna shoot something," Ryan commented.
"I'm going to get some coffee and see if it can't clear my head," Beckett pushed herself off the desk once again.
"Ditto," Ryan followed her. Castle and Esposito gave each other a look and did the same. Just as Esposito and Castle started for the break room, Beckett's phone started to ring.
"Tell Kate I'll get it," Castle told Esposito and answered the phone. Castle watched Esposito make his way into the break room and then turned his attention to the phone, "Hello? Beckett's phone, Castle speaking."
"You know, with the amount of times you've been answering her phone, I might as well just call you," Lanie's comment came from the other end.
"But this is more fun. It's like a game, you'll never know which one of us you'll get," Castle smiled as he grew hopeful, "Did you find anything new for us?"
"Unfortunately, no," Lanie replied as Castle's hopeful expression deflated, "I actually was wondering how you guys were doing. I know this case has been nothing but dead ends."
"We're managing somehow," Castle replied, "We're just trying to clear our heads and see if we can't figure something out after stepping away from the case for a few minutes."
"Good idea," Lanie nodded, "I'll let you go, but call if you find anything interesting. I may be able to back it up with some medical proof down here."
"Will do," Castle replied as they both hung up. He placed the receiver back in its cradle before heading over to the break room to get some much needed coffee.
While Castle was having his mini-conversation with Lanie, Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito were having their own in the break room.
"I'm about ready to tell Montgomery to hand this case over to another detective, I can't look at it anymore," Ryan commented.
"Just be patient, Ryan, I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of it soon," Beckett told him to keep his faith, "We can only hit so many dead ends."
"We've all been pretty useless in this case," Esposito was siding with Ryan, "It's like we lost our groove."
"It does seem like that," Beckett was starting to agree and paused to take a sip from her coffee. Castle finally reached the break room, but before he could enter, the next thing Beckett said made him stop in his tracks, "Sometimes, I feel like we'd get more things done if we didn't have Castle following us around."
"What do you mean? Are you saying we'd be better off if he never came into our lives three years ago?," Ryan couldn't quite believe what he was hearing and neither could Castle. He looked down and time seemed to halt as he waited for Kate's reply.
"Truth be told, there are times I feel that way," Beckett nodded and took another sip of her coffee. Feeling a little defeated, Castle opted not to grab any coffee and slowly made his way back over to Beckett's desk with his hands in his pockets. He slumped down in his chair and looked longingly at his friends. He took a deep breath and looked down at his shoes.
Castle was so consumed with his thoughts back over at the white board he didn't hear the rest of what Kate had to say, "Then there are times where I don't think we'd solve some cases without him. He's become a real asset to our team."
"And a hell of a partner, right?," Esposito smirked at her.
"Yes he has," Beckett nodded. At Ryan and Esposito's smirks, she immediately remarked, "But if you tell him that…."
She left it as an open-ended threat. Ryan and Esposito simply gave each other smirks and left it at that. Beckett put her finished coffee/espresso cup down, "Come on. Let's go back out to Castle."
"Yo, Castle," Esposito made the author look up, "Everything okay? Who was on the phone?"
"You answered my phone?," Beckett asked.
"It was just Lanie," Castle sat up a little straighter and cleared his throat, "She wanted to know if we were any further on the case."
"Is everything okay, Castle? You look lost in thought," Beckett echoed Esposito's question.
"I, uh," Castle stood up. He didn't know how to phrase it, "I heard what you said in the break room."
"Oh," Beckett was taken aback. Ryan and Esposito exchanged looks and couldn't help but grin at the scene in front of them. Hopefully, it would lead to something good.
"Is it true?," Castle started and licked his lips, pausing for a second to gain some courage, "Do you really feel that way?"
"If I'm being completely honest, Castle," Beckett stepped forward, her arms folded, "Yes, I really do feel that way."
"Yeah and we do too," Ryan piped in and Esposito shot him a glare for ruining the small moment between their friends.
"Really?," Castle couldn't believe it, "Well, if that's the case then I think I'll just head home."
"You need a ride?," Beckett asked. He wasn't reacting the way she thought he would. She thought he'd be gloating at the fact that they truly valued him, instead he seemed agitated.
"No," Castle grabbed his jacket, "I wouldn't want to be any more trouble. See you."
"Castle?," Beckett called out to him as he made his way to the elevators. He heard her, but kept moving forward. If he turned around, she would've seen the glisten of tears starting to well up in his eyes.
"Let him be," Esposito said.
"It's probably just this case," Ryan agreed, "It's making everybody a little nuts."
"Right," Beckett wheeled her chair up to her desk and turned her attention to the evidence for their case. After a second, she looked back up toward the elevators and saw the doors close on Castle. She could've sworn he looked at her like she had just trampled on his heart, but that couldn't be. This case really was making everybody crazy.
Outside the precinct…
Castle decided to walk a little bit before hailing a cab to go home. It wasn't long before he was consumed with his thoughts, "I can't believe it. They all think they would be better off if I never came into their lives? But I've helped them solve dozens of cases. I even helped Beckett find her mother's killer."
"Yeah, and opened up an old wound in the process," another voice in his head made a point.
"Shut up," Castle said out loud and started talking to himself, "I'm being ridiculous. They really don't feel that way. Maybe they just said that to mess with me."
He stopped in his tracks and turned around, "I have to straighten this out. I'll just ask them directly. They're my friends. They'll tell me the truth… right?"
Rick took a deep breath and started to stand a little straighter, talking himself into it, "I can do this."
The sound of a truck blaring its horn at Castle took him out of his thoughts. The driver rolled down his window and started yelling profanities at him. Castle just kept apologizing and made his way back to the precinct. He made it to the doors of the building and looked at his watch. He had been walking around for almost an hour and based on the time, they could've called it a night.
"I guess I'll just talk to them about it in the morning," Castle said to himself and turned back around. This time he hailed a cab and told the driver to take him back to his loft.
The next day…
"Morning, pumpkin," Castle greeted his daughter as she neared the kitchen.
"Morning," Alexis furrowed her eyebrows, "What are you doing up and dressed so early?"
"How do you mean?," Castle looked down at himself.
"You're out of your study, dressed, and eating an actual breakfast," Alexis said, "Are you feeling okay?"
"I just wanted to get an early start," Castle replied, "And I could use some of your wisdom, oh daughter of mine."
"Shoot," Alexis took a seat at the stool.
"I think everybody down at the precinct is starting to feel like they don't want me around anymore," Castle replied, leaning on the counter.
"Precinct?," Alexis was confused. Before she could reply any further, Martha entered the kitchen, "Richard, what are you doing up so early?"
"I'm not up any earlier than usual," Castle shook his head and opened the fridge, grabbing a water bottle.
"Dad, why are you talking about a precinct?," Alexis wanted to get back to the matter at hand, "Are you in some sort of trouble?"
"I hope not," Castle sighed, "I know what I can do. I can offer them all a peace offering of their favorite foods and coffees and we can get back to things the way they were… I'm sure I was just blowing things way out of proportion. Thank you, sweetheart."
He gave Alexis a kiss on the forehead and without saying another word, Castle was out the door to try to make things right, leaving a very confused mother and daughter in his wake.
"What on Earth was he talking about?," Martha asked.
"I have no idea," Alexis shook her head, "I just hope he isn't in any type of trouble. There are only so many times a daughter should be expected to bust her father out of jail."
"Mm," Martha agreed, "You better keep your phone on in case he calls or texts you when you're with your friends. I'm off to the theater."
"This thing happens once in a blue moon, huh?," Captain Roy Montgomery asked as Beckett finished telling him the last details of their case.
"You can say that again, sir," Beckett nodded, "For once, the killer wasn't connected to the victim in any way and it really was a… random wayward event."
"Take it easy, Beckett," Montgomery went back to his office.
"You okay?," Lanie asked as Kate came up to her.
"Yeah," Kate nodded, "I just can't believe that cases like the one we just had really exist."
"And it was all wrapped up before we technically have to clock in," Ryan came up to them, looking at his watch.
"Anybody up for some coffee and/or hot chocolate before we have to start work?," Esposito asked, looking at Lanie when he mentioned the hot chocolate.
"Why do you think I'm here?," Lanie motioned for them to all get up. They started putting their jackets on when they saw a man struggling to balance bags of pastries and cups of what they could only assume were coffees coming their way.
"Here," Ryan jumped in and helped out.
"Thanks," Castle said.
"Can we help you?," Beckett walked up to him, arms folded.
"Actually, you guys can take your coffees and your bear-claws," Castle replied, "Here is a black coffee for Esposito, a coffee with two sugars for Ryan, and of course a grandé skim latté with two-pump sugar-free vanilla for the lovely Detective Kate Beckett."
"Lovely?," Lanie started to grow suspicious, hands on her hips.
"Lanie," Castle smiled, "Had I known you were here, I would've gotten you something… you know what? Here, just take my hot chocolate, I know how much you enjoy them."
"Um, thanks?," Lanie accepted the hot beverage from him. She turned to Kate, "Do you have something you'd like to share with the class, Kate? Like where you really went last night when you were 'taking a break from the case'?"
"I-I," Kate didn't know how to respond.
"What's going on?," Castle asked, looking between everyone.
"That's what I'd like to know," Beckett put her coffee down, "Who are you and how do you know our names let alone what we all like to drink?"
So? How is it so far? Interesting? I hope you guys like it. Castle's already in the world where they never met. Throughout the story there are little clues dropped as to what's really going on and all will make sense when I get toward the end of the story. Please tell me what you guys think! I'm really rather proud of how this story turned out, so I would really appreciate it if some reviews accumulated from it. :D Can't wait for the rest of Season 3 – the spoilers for it are out of this world! I decided to start posting today so we could have some Castle on this Castle-less Monday. ;) Fanfiction is definitely gonna be the thing tying me to sanity this summer. 8-)
Clois and Caskett Forever! :D