Title: Now I Know
Summary: Twenty-six letters in the alphabet. Twenty-six moments in the lives of our favorite partnership. Some are hard and others easy. They're all complimentary in a way and, when put together, they give you something worth a whole lot more than apart.
Warnings/Spoilers: S3 finale
Disclaimer: I own nothing. All rights for the characters and the world go to their owners. I, in no way, believe – or would lead others to believe – that I own Castle. Though, I would have no objections to having some time with this cast.
Author's Note: I am embarking on a new adventure. This story started from nowhere and now it is definitely on my list of favorite ideas. Each letter of the alphabet gets a chapter. They range in time, length, and content. Some chapters are fluffy while others are swimming in angst. I update on here and Tumblr (gleesanatomy) and usually I update there first. I'll also be posting things to let people know how things are going so feel free to follow. The list of words is actually on the blog if you want to check it out and get the gears turning for future chapters.
"Zenith" means the highest point. This part of their lives - specifically Castle's - is a very intense portion where emotions are heightened and the stakes could not be any closer to the endless sky. This chapter takes place at the hypothetical beginning of Season Four. The main gang (plus Alexis, Ashley, and Martha) are in the waiting room of the hospital, mere hours after Kate was shot.
(1/26) Z FOR ZENITH
Rick currently hates two things - snipers and beginnings. The latter carries over from his many years of writing, wherein he typically debated over how to start his latest venture. Should he begin in the middle of the action and flashback to when Derrick first gets involved? Should it be a normal, mundane morning when a cry sounds in the night, echoing inside of the prison some foolishly call the brain? The options have always been endless. Anything can happen in the beginning. It's daunting, dreadful even. Today is a beginning.
The title of this chapter of his memoir will be 'The Zombification of Richard Castle.' The created word will get a few chuckles from the reader and also lend to he or she wondering whether or not he shrugged off the whole honest fact thing part-way through and dove into the fiction he knows well. He hasn't. He merely enjoys the more poetic way of saying what happens in his life. Alternatively, he could call it 'The Wilting of Richard Castle.' In it, he curls into himself from lack of water and breaks bit by bit with every touch from outside hands, no matter how gentle or well-meant the hold might be. He slowly crumbles until nothing is left but murky water and a scent that makes people turn up their noses and spray a bit more Febreeze into the air.
On page one of this chapter, he pushes too far and tries to bring some water with him out of the pot they belong in. He tries to uproot and winds up separated from his life source. He crashes to the ground and takes things with him, small things like the life they both festered and his dignity. He wallows on the ground for a while until someone picks him up and brings him back to the water. He gets a chance again. For a fleeting moment, he deludes himself into thinking that something could possibly change and they can survive together. And then some jackass with a gun shoots Kate and burns it all to hell.
Rick slams on the delete key of his laptop a few hundred times. Esposito glares at him from across the waiting room, but Rick stays focused on the screen. He watches tales of Nikki and Rook living happily ever after disappear into the vast blank page. It feels oddly cathartic. Like he is releasing the hopes of ever living that life with Kate. Relinquishing control to whatever else is out there. Letting Jesus take the wheel and praying another bullet doesn't come flying through the windshield.
His hand halts of someone else's volition. Alexis's small hand holds onto his, tight and clenched. He wonders if that's from the situation or just to stop him from continuing the aggravating clicking noise. He flips over his hand and squeezes until some of the tension goes away. He can feel her eyes on him long after he lets go. Therein lies the downside of having such an intellectual child, she seems to know just when to wait rather than push. Why was that not a hereditary trait? Maybe if it was, Kate would still be-
He breaks his staring match with the blinking cursor to start a new one with his progeny. Alexis's eyes are dry but drenched in concern and fear. She should be concerned. About Beckett. She should be afraid of just what will happen to him if Kate doesn't pull through. She should… she should be home, sleeping or talking to Ashley about Columbia. She shouldn't be here keeping Esposito from ripping Rick's hand off.
"You should head home," he says.
Alexis's nose flares the second the words are out of his mouth. Her eyes widen in indignation and he imagines she would stomp her foot down if she were standing. His mind flashes back to her childhood reaction when he would tell her to turn out the light, put down the book, and go to sleep. He wonders if allowing her one final chapter will calm her down now like it did back then.
"Where would I go, Dad? Grams is here. Ashley is here. Detective Beckett is here."
His face contorts at just the sound of Kate's name. He forces his muscles to relax, but not before Alexis catches it. He sighs.
"There's nothing you can do right now. You should sleep. You have classes and-"
"I could miss one day of school. I'm not leaving you alone right now. Every time I turn my back, something happens to you," Alexis says.
Is it wrong that he thinks that's the most selfish statement he has ever heard her say? They are sitting in the waiting room of a hospital because Kate got shot, in the chest, and Alexis only cares about what will happen to him while waiting. That's ridiculous.
Vaguely, though, he recognizes the thought process. Zeroing in on the person that she can help is a coping mechanism for efficiency. Derrick did the same when the flirty secretary wound up with glassy eyes and a knife to her chest while the delivery boy had a gaping leg wound. Derrick had pushed the unwanted thoughts aside and tried his damnedest to save that pimple faced kid because he was the one that would certainly get through the ordeal and Derrick simply did not have the right training to play with knives in chest cavities.
Rick gets it. He does.
He turns to face her a bit more. "I'm fine here. Nothing is going to happen. And if it does, emergency room's right over there." He tries to give her a smile, but it comes out almost as weak as his defense.
She shakes her head and that redheaded spunk appears.
"I'm not leaving. If you want me out of here, you'll have to drag me out and lock yourself away with me. I'm serious, Dad. You could've been shot too," Alexis reminds him.
He wishes he had been. The thought is fleeting, but it resonates a bit into his next comment.
"I wasn't. No cuts, guts, or dripping blood." He holds his arms out for her to check. She doesn't.
She puts her hand back on top of his and brings it to her lap. She watches them for a moment. He does as well. It seems the moment he looks away from her Alexis gains the courage to speak again.
"I'm worried, Dad."
"Me too," he whispers. Her grip grows more purposeful.
"I'm worried about what you're going to do. You never listen when people tell you to stop. I can't lose you, okay? You can't follow her right now. Not into this," Alexis insists.
He isn't just following Kate. He's never been just following her. He wants to tell Alexis, but her eyes inform him that she already knows that. She averts her gaze after passing along the message. His thumb traces along hers lightly. It's meant to soothe but it somehow brings the tears out in her eyes. She blinks and one falls slowly down her cheek. He raises his other hand to wipe away the tear. She pushes him away.
The voice of a doctor cuts Rick off.
Everyone in the room glances up at the man in the white lab coat. Rick takes the moment before the man speaks to breathe in deeply. He holds onto that breath, somewhat prepared for it to be his last. Alexis's grip tightens. The cursor blinks. Rick decides he hates three things - snipers, beginnings, and the long pause that doctors leave between the introduction and what everyone really wants to know.
"How is she?"
"Is she alive?"
The doctor holds up his hands to quiet the troops. They all fall silent, Esposito's question ringing through their ears.
"Yes. For now."
Rick lets out that breath. Looks like he gets to rename this chapter of his life. Personally, he likes 'A New Beginning Worth Working For.'
End Author's Note:
And so the journey begins! How did you all like the first installment? Does it intrigue you? Are you wondering what other moments in their lives I have planned? (And let me tell you, I've got quite a few fun moments that should have you pretty excited.) Please tell me your thoughts about the characterization, the situation, heck what you suspect for season four.
Also, do any of you guys have a good word for "O" that works with Castle/Beckett? It is the one letter that I have nothing for.
Ooh, and if you could choose, when would you want me to update this? Should I have one day a week when I update? Or should I post whenever a new chapter is completed, no matter the day? Do you want me to go in order (Z to A) or hop around to whichever letter you all think should be next?