New story I'm writing when I really should be studying for exams. But it just hit me, and I like where it's going, if I do say so myself. This could take place anywhere after season 3. Josh is still in the picture (sorry) and Montgomery is dead. This is in no way related to my other stories. Also unlike my others this is written entirely from Kate's point of view to increase suspense. Tee heehee.
I may up the rating in later chapters, it just depends on how...adventurous I feel. We shall see.
Oh yeah: and I don't own Castle. But I do have lots and lots of ideas for them. :)
As always, I appreciate your reviews and criticisms. And now, Abduction...
Chapter 1: MIA
"Yo Beckett!" Esposito called from the other side of the yellow crime scene tape. Detective Kate Beckett, NYPD, waved and started toward her teammate. A uniform, who was not-so-subtly checking Kate out, held up the tape so that she could walk under. Beckett gave him a forced smile and a nod of thanks, rolling her eyes as soon as she passed.
It was a sweltering Saturday afternoon in late August, the sun beating down on the asphalt and a shimmering haze of ozone blanketing the city. Even the slight breeze rustling between the buildings offered little or no relief. The officers and CSU techs at the crime scene were sweating profusely, their movements sluggish despite the immense desire to wrap things up in a hurry. It was just too damn hot to hustle.
However, it seemed it wasn't too hot to murder someone. At least not if the body Medical Examiner Lanie Parrish was crouching over was any indication. Lanie looked unusually grumpy. This was probably due to the effect the heat and humidity were having on her hair, but also potentially due to whatever Esposito-related activities the call had interrupted. The only item in the alley that seemed unaffected by the heat was the dead body itself, the four gunshot wounds in his chest having effectively rendered the man impervious to the hostile weather conditions.
"Castle MIA today?" Esposito asked as they approached the DB.
Beckett shook her head, trying not to let her disappointment show. She didn't want anyone -least of all Castle himself- to know how much she had come to rely on the writer and crave his company. "He's at a book signing" she told Esposito.
"Ahh, the latest chapter of the Nikki Heat saga" Esposito's partner mocked as he approached. Ryan grinned teasingly in spite of the sweat that was trickling down his brow.
Beckett rolled her eyes and turned to face her her friend the ME. "What've we got, Lanie?"
Lanie opened her mouth to speak, but looked around in confusion instead. "What, no Castle?" she asked a moment later.
"You do know he doesn't actually work here, right?" Beckett asked. "He's not chained to my side."
"Except that he is" Lanie muttered.
Beckett sighed, narrowing her eyes at Lanie. "He's at a book signing. I ask again: what've we got?"
Lanie rapidly switched gears, becoming the model professional. "Caucasian male, mid thirties, four GSWs to the chest at close range. No wallet, no ID. Judging by the tan line on his left wrist I'd say his watch is missing."
"Robbery gone wrong?" Ryan offered.
"A mugger who shot him four times? That seems like a lot of anger to have toward some random person" said Beckett.
"I do have signs of struggle" said Lanie, "abrasions on both hands. I might be able to get you a DNA sample."
"Thanks Lanie" said Beckett.
The team spent the next few hours pounding the smoldering pavement, knocking on doors, trying to find someone who saw or heard something. But the buzzing of air conditions and the noise of traffic had somehow muffled the four gunshots, apparently. No one heard a thing.
It was a frustrating case. By nine o'clock the only information they had come up with was an ID for the victim: Gary Hobson, thirty six, journalist, lived in Chelsea. He was in the system from a single drug charge fifteen years earlier. Both of Gary's parents were deceased. His brother didn't know of anything that was troubling him, but had provided them with the name and address of Gary's girlfriend. They had hoped it would be a break in the case, but the girlfriend didn't know anything either. They hadn't been able to contact anyone from the New York Times, where Gary worked. Beckett and the boys finally called it a day around nine fifteen, when the lines on the murder board started to blur and the words run together.
Something had been nagging at the back of Beckett's mind all afternoon, but until she left the precinct she didn't have time to really consider it. Castle. It was something to do with Castle, she realized as she walked to her car. He hadn't called or texted all day, which was highly unusual. Ordinarily he would've been all over her for the details of the case, texting Kate and the boys wild theories between signing copies of his book or artificial breasts, whichever the fan preferred. Then after he left the signing he would've called, dropped by, maybe even brought dinner. Not that Kate had missed him.
He was probably just busy, Kate rationalized. Knowing Castle, he had run down the battery on his phone playing Angry Birds, met some hot young blonde at the signing and was out on the town with her, or back at her place, not even aware that his battery was dead. Kate felt her stomach clench at the thought of Castle with some woman, who in her mind's eye looked much like a younger version of Gina. Dammit.
But Castle, despite his continued playboy reputation, didn't…play so much these days. And Kate was beginning to understand that the author's bad-boy persona wasn't the real Rick Castle at all. It was the Richard Castle he portrayed for the media, the one that sold the books. It wasn't the Rick Castle she and the rest of the 12th knew, the adoring father, beleaguered son, devoted friend.
Be that as it may, Castle had changed over the past few years. He had matured significantly, and his stream of female companions had dwindled to nothing as far as Kate could tell. Though he used to relish every opportunity to bask in the glow of his success, Castle had complained endlessly about today's event. He had no desire, he had told her, to spend an afternoon sitting on his ass in a packed bookstore with nothing more interesting than a hand cramp to help him pass the time. Ever so gradually, Richard Castle: playboy author extraordinaire, was morphing into Rick Castle the cop. Badge or no badge, he was Kate's partner.
Yes, that was why Castle's lack of contact bothered Kate: it was out of character. It had nothing to do with the fact that she missed his witty commentary, his outlandish theories, the cup of perfectly prepared coffee he always provided, the way the corners of his deep blue eyes crinkled when he smiled, how he stood a little too close yet not nearly close enough…No, that wasn't it at all. Kate had seen Castle yesterday. She couldn't possibly miss him.
Right, said an all-to-honest part of Kate's brain, that's why you're calling him, right? Because you don't miss him?
Castle's phone went straight to voicemail, the familiar deep, slightly rough voice making Kate's skin tingle. Oh, God, I'm so pathetic.
"Hey, you've reached Rick Castle. You know what to do."
"Hey Castle" said Kate, not bothering to identify herself. He would know her voice anywhere, just like she would know his. And his posture, and his scent… Shit. "Just wanted to let you know that we're nowhere near wrapping up the case if you wanna come in tomorrow. It might be too close to home for you, dead writer" she joked. "Anyway, if you're not out too late with your groupies and want in on this one I'll see ya tomorrow. Don't forget my coffee."
Kate hung up, wishing this odd prickling on the back of her neck would go away. It didn't, even after a long bath, a glass of wine, and finishing the newest Nikki Heat book for the third time. Still nothing from Castle. When Kate finally fell asleep at around two thirty that morning she was hoping, for the first time, that Castle was in bed with some stupid, slutty starlet.
By nine thirty the next morning Beckett still hadn't heard from Castle. She was sitting at one of the conference tables with Ryan and Esposito, staring at her woefully empty coffee cup and thinking about the writer far more than she was thinking about poor Gary Hobson. She already thought about him far more than she should, far more than was healthy, but this time those thoughts were laced with worry.
"Hey guys?" she asked the other two Detectives. "Have you heard from Castle?"
"Why? Do you miss him?" Ryan teased.
"No" Kate answered, narrowing her eyes, while that honest part of her mind said yes. I miss him a lot. "I called last night to update him on the case and I still haven't heard anything from him. I was just curious."
Ryan and Esposito exchanged glances. "He was at a book signing yesterday" said Esposito gently. "He might have…you know…gone home with, uh….he might've had a late night."
"I know" said Kate, screwing on her expressionless mask. "It's just unusual not to hear from him, that's all. I don't know, I had a weird feeling all day yesterday like something was up." She tried to shrug it off, but judging by the looks of concern on the boys' faces she was unsuccessful.
Kate focused her attention more fully on Hobson's financial records, glancing only occasionally at her idle phone. When it finally did ring at a little after ten, "Castle Home" displayed on the ID, she answered before the first ring was even complete.
"Detective Beckett?" said a familiar but timid voice. "It's Alexis Castle."
Every hair on the back of Beckett's neck stood up, her nerves prickling unpleasantly. If Alexis was calling…. "Hi Alexis. Is everything okay?" Kate asked, keeping her voice even for the teenager's sake.
"Is my dad with you?" Alexis asked, the worry in her tone unmistakable.
"I haven't heard from him actually, why?"
"He never came home last night, and he never does that anymore unless he's working a case" said Alexis. "And even then he always calls or texts or something. I haven't heard from him since he left for the book signing yesterday afternoon."
"Was everything okay when he left?"
"Sure, yeah. I mean he wasn't all that excited about going, but he was fine. He said he'd see me at dinner."
Kate chewed on her lip, taking a deep breath in an effort to remain calm. Images of a body lying broken and bloody in an alleyway flashed through her mind, but it wasn't Gary Hobson's or even her mother's face she saw. It was Castle's. Just the thought made her dizzy. "Have you called Gina or Paula?"
"No. I was hoping he was with you" said Alexis. Her voice was shaking.
"Alexis, is your gran there?" Kate asked. Though Alexis was an unusually mature and level-headed teenager, Kate still hated the idea of the girl being alone and scared.
"No, she's at a spa Upstate this weekend."
"Okay" said Kate, breathing deeply. She could handle this. She could. "I'm gonna make a couple of calls, and I'll be there as soon as I can. I need you to stay calm for me, though, and make sure you call if you hear from your dad. I'm sure this is all just a misunderstanding." That was an outright lie, but she wanted so badly for it to be true. She wanted so badly for Castle to come slinking in, doing his walk of shame, clothes and hair rumpled, buttons missing off of his shirt. She wanted to yell at him, to hit him and tell him to never scare her like that again. She wanted to feel his warm, solid arms around her as they had been too few times before. Wait...no. Scratch that last part.
Alexis's voice brought her back to the present. "Okay Detective Beckett."
"I'll be there soon" Kate promised.
"Thank you." The sincerity in Alexis's voice nearly broke her heart.
"Sure thing, kiddo."
Kate hung up and immediately began searching her contacts for the near-forgotten number of Gina Cowell, Castle's publisher/ex-wife/ex-girlfriend. Ignoring the concerned questions of Ryan and Esposito, she hit send and bit her lower lip nervously as she listened to the rings.
"Hello?" Gina answered.
"Gina, this is Kate Beckett."
"What can I do for you, Detective?" Gina asked cooly. Things had always been strained between the two women, though they had very little contact. Jealousy ran in both directions.
"I was just calling to see if you've heard from Castle recently.''
"No I haven't, actually" said Gina, irritated. "I must have called a dozen times. He walked out of the book signing an hour earlier yesterday, saying he had to take a call, and he never came back. You can imagine what I had to deal with after that little stunt. And then he has the nerve not to return my calls?" Gina paused for a moment. "Frankly, I assumed he was with you" her tone was icy.
Kate was too worried to even acknowledge the last statement. "No one has heard from him since the book signing yesterday. What time did he leave?"
"He didn't talk to Alexis?" Gina asked, her tone now full of concern.
"No, she called me this morning to say he didn't make it home last night and she hasn't heard from him. What time did he leave the bookstore yesterday?"
"A little after three. You don't think something happened…?"
Kate hesitated, not wanting to create a hysteria. If Gina went to the press about the situation it could make a bad situation worse. However, honesty was always best. "I'm not sure yet, Gina, but it's starting to look that way. Do me a favor and don't say anything for the time being?"
"Of course I won't, Detective" Gina sounded offended by the assumption.
"Thanks" said Kate. "Let me know if you hear anything, will you?"
"I will, and you'll do the same?"
"Beckett what the hell is goin' on?" Esposito demanded as soon as Beckett ended the call.
The senior detective clenched her fists, pressing her hands into the table to stop them from shaking. "Nobody's heard from Castle since yesterday afternoon. He got a call while he was at the book signing, ran out to take it and never came back." Ryan and Esposito looked horrified and concerned. Though Beckett was closest with Castle, both boys also counted him among their closest friends. "I'm gonna call Gates and tell her I need a sick day."
"In that case you better tell her we need one too" said Ryan, adamant.
"Yeah, we're on this, Beckett'' said Esposito. "See if Gates'll give Hobson investigation to Karpowski's team."
Beckett dialed. Captain Victoria Gates answered on the third ring. "It's Sunday morning, Detective" she said without preamble. "This had better be good."
"Quite the opposite, actually" said Beckett. "I got a call from Castle's daughter this morning. It seems no one has seen or heard from Castle since yesterday afternoon."
"He's probably out banging one of his groupies" said Gates carelessly. Gates was not Castle's biggest fan, though their relationship had improved significantly over the past few months. Gates was ever-so-gradually coming to understand Castle's value at the precinct.
"He disappeared from his book signing yesterday afternoon and hasn't contacted anyone since. He hasn't even called his daughter. Castle wouldn't do that to Alexis. Not ever. The boys and I would like to request that our current case be reassigned so that we can work on locating Castle."
Gates sighed. "And if I say no?"
"Then I would say that I'm not feeling well at all, Captain, and I need to take a sick day."
"Fine. I'll call Karpowski. You better be right about this, Detective."
Beckett sighed. "Frankly, Captain, I hope I'm wrong."