Disclaimer: I don't own Castle. Just going a bit loopy.
A/N: Well here I am again, with another post-Knockout offering. Basically I'm in love Martha and her life lessons, and one of my favourite scenes from Knockout was the Castle/Martha scene. She knows her son. I could actually consider this a spin off from my other one shot Front Page, as it fits in with the time line documented. But you don't need to read it to read this one.
The Daytime Coma
It was mid morning when he returned, his body heavy with exhaustion. The blazing sun causing the redness in his eyes to become more vivid; the day was mocking him like the ruthless flash of cameras.
He opened the door to the loft quietly, the eerie silence that seemed to be following his every step even more settled here. I didn't feel like home.
Numb sickness crept into his heart, closing the door, half leaning against the wood as he crunched his eyes shut. A shuddering breath rattled from his lungs; quivering the tears on the precipice of his lashes.
He turned to see his mother standing there, her floral gown wrapped tightly around her as her green eyes studied him with sorrow; her child's heart ache became her own. Even though he wasn't looking at her, the shadow in his eyes stole her breath; the boyish twinkle extinguished.
Castle couldn't even force the smallest of smiles on his face; his hope hidden too far down, drowning in her blood.
"Is Alexis in bed?" He asked, avoiding the questions in her gaze.
"Yes, she went up about five hours ago. She wanted to stay up for you, but we didn't know when you'd be back."
The air was pregnant with silence, the darkness under his eyes so severe it almost looked like he'd been punched.
"Hospital security chucked me out, but they know I'm coming back. I'm showering and changing." His voice was empty as he moved across the room. His eye caught the Heat Rises poster still on the floor punctured by shards of glass; Nikki Heat lay there scarred.
Her eyebrows flickered with concern, "You've been there over 24 hours; you need to get some rest."
Castle walked into his room as his mother followed, "I can't. I have to be with her."
His mother moved beside him, her hand on his arm, "Richard, you're killing yourself over this in every way possible. It wasn't your fault. You will be no good to her like this when she wakes up."
He ignored her observation, "The papers have already found out, there's a swarm of paparazzi camped outside here and outside the hospital. I don't want Alexis going out by herself without myself, you or one the NYPD there. My face will be strewn across the hospital waiting room by tomorrow no doubt, but I don't want them getting to her."
"We heard them pull up a few hours ago; we thought it might be you but when you didn't come up . . ."
He gritted his teeth as his eyes shined, "I just didn't expect it to be so soon. I mean, this isn't Nikki Heat here, this is her life. This is our life."
He tried to hide his face behind the wardrobe door, under the pretence of looking for a fresh shirt; she closed it. She heard a sniff and caught a single tear glide down his cheek like a fallen star.
"I should've been quicker; I saw the glass on the lens blink twice. The bullet shouldn't have got to her before I did."
Castle paused, trying to swallow the golf ball in his throat. His eyes glazed over as he stared into the middle distance; the colour of his red shirts merging into the green and black.
"What if she doesn't wake up? What then?" He barely whispered. "I have nothing else to give to this world if she's not in it."
Martha sighed sadly and pulled him into a hug and he clung onto her as if he was a boy trying to erase a nightmare from his mind. In all her years, and for all his heart, she never envisaged her son feeling this strongly about anyone. Even though she knew the detective lay in a hospital bed across town, a large part of her knew that could easily have been her son; wires coming from every part of his body like a limp puppet.
"You told me not to waste another minute . . . and I just stood there. . ."
You're overreacting mother, where's this coming from?
She felt the sting of sorrow in her chest; how life and love can circle in on itself and spiral out before we know it; now he'd certainly look back and see why she had felt this way knowing her son could've been stolen away from her by the ruthless bite of a bullet. That pain of having someone taken away from you so brutally.
He inhaled her comforting cinnamon scent, "I told her I loved her. God, after all these years I went and told her whilst she lay there. . ."
"Shhhhh, Richard." She interrupted, placing a hand on his cheek. "You told her, that's all that matters."
Silence fell, and he just looked at his mother forlornly, gulping down his tears. He waited for her to comfort him. He waited for her to tell him that everything will be alright like any parent would do. Even if sometimes it's a lie as transparent as glass or as distorted as puddle water.
Martha always knew how to say the right thing to quietly push her son towards owning up to himself, lest anyone else. Only a mother can deliver the harsh realities of a 'truth bomb', and be there to pick up the fragmented pieces of heart afterwards and meld them together again; brush them off like a child who's fallen over and scuffed their knees. A plaster and a kiss on the head would've done it three decades ago. You get to this stage though and your craft has changed, parenting becomes about being behind the lines and watching, hoping that your whisper will be heard in the chaos of it all.
In the screaming and panic of the cemetery he heard her. . . and he let his heart go.
I think you should be honest with yourself about why you're doing this. . .
Go on. . .
"You know Beckett better than anyone else does, and even I can tell you that she won't let you have the last word. She'll get through this."
He let out a teary laugh at that, Beckett certainly wouldn't let him get off lightly. She wouldn't tell him outright, she'd watch him squirm and wait like he always did. Then that blissful light would rise from the back of her eyes and he would know deep inside that she felt like he did. His breath would stall and she would try and shrug it off. Maybe this time she wouldn't.
It made him feel a little ill how well he could imagine it. Please. . .
Castle was broken from his reverie, "Go on, you get washed and I'll pack you some things."
He smiled at her softly in thanks; she squeezed his arm before he left the room.
She'd folded the clothes up methodically, slipping a pack of sleeping tablets down the side and a little bottle of something. Normally she was the drinker of the house, and she certainly didn't advocate it for Alexis' benefit, but if anything needed the edge taken off it right now it'd be the limbo her son had been caught in. He was in a coma as much as Beckett was.
His hair was half dried and he was freshly dressed when he walked back into the living room. He was clean but his whole skin was an off grey colour that didn't mask the deep raw redness of his heart. His normally confident, buoyant stride dragged down as if his limbs were filled with wet sand.
She caught his hand as he took the bag from her. He caught her pale green eyes and smiled weakly.
"Alexis and I will come by in a few hours."
He barely nodded, kissing her on the cheek, "Thank you."
The door closed and she heard his footsteps echo like ripples.
A/N: Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! I wouldn't put it past me to produce more post-Knockout one shots. . . Minx xx