The Western Way
Disclaimer: I still don't own them.
Plot: The year is 1875. When notorious hit man Hal Lockwood is apprehended in the backwoods town of Colorado Springs, Colorado, infamous playboy and New York Times star reporter, Richard Castle, is sent to do an expose on Lockwood and the person responsible for his capture- Sheriff Beckett. But things aren't always what they appear and Castle is in for a few surprises as he ventures out of the big city and past the Mississippi River into the Wild West.
A/N: This is a rewrite of The Western Way. I had originally started that one only from Castle's POV, and as much as I liked it, I was severely limited and not able to do everything I wanted to do. So, I decided to rewrite it. This is the product of that decision. If you go look for the original and can't find it, I probably decided to take it down, but as of this moment it is still available if you want to compare.
Anyway, I am aware that this is not your typical Castle story, but I would love to hear what you think. Reviews are love. :)
Richard Castle sighed and looked at his pocket watch; one minute had passed since the last time he had performed the ritual. The seconds continued to tick the hand moving slower and slower with every beat. Richard Castle sighed again. He held out his pointer fingers over the raised keys of the typewriter. Hesitating for a moment he dropped his hands back into his lap. He was bored and worse, he was blocked. There were four potential stories he could be working on right now, four stories that his editor wanted on his desk by the end of the day, but he hadn't written a single word. His gaze turned to the window and he let his mind wander to the concrete buildings and cobblestone roads of New York City. A horse drawn carriage clattered down the road and Rick shifted in his seat.
At that moment a single sheet of paper was slammed onto the wooden desk in front of him.
"Excuse me?" Rick replied, started out of his reverie to find himself staring at the round belly of his editor, James Porter.
"Hal Lockwood," Porter repeated, leaning against the desk with his arms folded across his chest. "The man thought to be a killer for hire and responsible for the deaths of some of the most powerful people in the country. He has been caught, and I want you to go do the interview."
Rick sighed again, he was the best reporter at the New York Times and arguably one of the best reporters in the country, but internally he was cringing at the thought of being handed the best interview of the year on a silver platter.
"Of course," he forced a smile onto his face and pushed himself out of his seat, reaching up to straighten his bow tie before shoving his arm into the jacket that had been thrown haphazardly over the back of his chair. "Is the jail expecting me or should I set an appointment for tomorrow?"
Porter let out a chuckle that caused his belly to jiggle and reached up to dab a handkerchief across his thinning hairline as he turn to smile at his friend, and colleague. "Oh, Rick, that is the best part. He was caught, but not here. You, my friend, have a train leaving tomorrow morning for Colorado Springs."
Castle stopped short as his stomach plummeted, his jacket pulled half way up one arm, "Colorado? Oh, no, I am not going to Colorado. It is not even civilized out there. There are no roads, or theaters, and there are Indians running around like banshees. No way, Port. I can interview Lockwood when he gets here for his trial."
"Rick, people have been searching for Lockwood for years and he is wanted all over the country. So, while the states bicker over who gets to try his case, you get to get your pretty little arse out to Colorado and interview Lockwood and the sheriff who caught the son of a bitch. The New York Times wants an entire expose on this Sheriff Beckett fellow, Colorado Springs, and Lockwood. Apparently Beckett is the best in the west. As we both know, New Yorkers are obsessed with the west and the romance of it all. So, you are going to give them what they want."
With that James Porter pushed himself and his potbelly off of the corner of Richard Castle's desk and gave his long time friend a pointed stare. "This is the deal of a lifetime Rick. This could make your career."
Great, Castle thought to himself as he plopped back down into his hard wooden chair. Colorado, what could be better than the middle of nowhere? His gaze made its way back to the window and the concrete jungle that surrounded him. There was a steaming pile of garbage on the corner and the rancid smell wafted up through the open window and over his desk.
Letting out one more sigh he pushed himself out of his chair once more and lazily pulled his jacket up over his arms and shoulders. He flattened out his collar and lapels and adjusted his vest. Honestly, other than traveling to Boston or Washington DC, he had never left the city. Traveling days out west to do an expose on the "romantic" Wild West and some pseudo detective wasn't his idea of fun. In fact, it sounded like pure hell. Why people were so obsessed with the west was beyond him anyway. Out west Mexicans and ex-slaves ran wild, drunken men hopelessly pursued the dream of finding gold, whore houses and saloons lined the streets and women didn't wear corsets. To Richard Castle it sounded like the most backward of civilizations and he was not looking forward to the "romance" of it all.
After pausing at Porter's office to gather up his train tickets, made his way out into the cool New York night. It was October, so the wind was cool enough to be pleasant, but still managed to remind him that winter would be rolling around soon. He walked slowly through New York, the city that he loved and took in the sites and the sounds. He had been raised in and by the city that never sleeps. He had run through the dirty busy streets as a child and spent his first drunken night in a New York jail cell. He listened to two men fighting in an alley and looked at a frail sickly child begging for food on the streets. The child's dirty bare toes wiggled as he danced in place on the corner and his clothing was fraying at the edges. His eyes met Rick's and the emptiness startled him.
New York: the city of dreams.
Rick let out a puff of air and pulled his jacket tighter around him. Making his way down the bustling New York streets he could feel the eyes of women follow him as he passed. He couldn't help but let a smirk pass over his lips as he forgot about the gaunt child on the corner and took in the sound of twittering giggles and whispers as they made their way to his ears. If there was one thing that Richard Castle wasn't afraid to admit, it was that he had a way with the ladies. In the years since Meredith had left he had taken pride in his ability to charm women. It was something of a game to him and it was fun. He only hoped that Colorado would not take too long of a time since he was already looking forward to the influx of holiday balls and cocktail parties. In fact earlier that week he had put in the order for Alexis's dress which was to come over from the best designers in London.
'Oh no,' he thought as he nodded to the doorman of his apartment building. Alexis was not going to like the thought of him leaving for a few months or being left with the nanny, or even worse, his mother, for that long. At 15 she was practically a woman, and she had gotten a few interested suitors, but Richard was not ready to marry her off quite yet. He also knew that she was a city girl, and had no intention of exposing her to the hardship and dangers of Colorado Springs. Stealing himself as he walked up the stairs, Castle pushed open the door to his elaborate apartment and found himself stopped short, dumbstruck at the sight before him.
"Alexis!" The shout was out of his mouth before he could stop it and he would readily admit that a sense of perverse pleasure over took him when he saw his daughter and the young man that she had been kissing in the parlor jump apart so quickly that the boy tumbled backward over a chair.
"Daddy!" Alexis exclaimed, a look of shocked horror covering her face as she watched her father stalk towards the young man. "Daddy, you remember Ashley Sinclaire. He, we, I mean, it wasn't what it looked like I promise."
As Castle reached the young man, and lifted him up by his ear, he let out a disgruntled huff at his daughter's words. "Yes, of course, Ashley," he replied, walking the boy to the door, still with a firm grip on his right ear. "Tell your parents I say hello."
Firmly slamming the door, after depositing the boy in the hall, Richard Castle turned around to meet the disapproving stare of his teenage daughter.
"Was that really necessary, Daddy? All we did was kiss and you have said many times that you trust my judgment and you know that I would never disappoint you. You have known Ashley and his family for years. In fact," she continued with a stiff finger poking her shell-shocked father in the chest. "You and Ashley's parents have talked about us getting married. So, we both deserve an apology and you know it."
With that Alexis Castle turn on her heels, a long mane of bright red hair whipping around as the porcelain skinned young woman stalked into her bedroom leaving her bewildered father in her wake.
Castle sighed as he brought a hand up to rub his forehead as he stood rooted in his spot in the parlor. In that moment, he made a snap decision; it didn't matter what he and the Sinclaires had talked about concerning their children. Talking about a theoretical future and watching your only daughter make out with some boy were two completely different scenarios. And where had Rebecca, Alexis's nanny, been during all of this?
"Alexis," he called as he made his way to her door. "Pack your bags, we are leaving in the morning for Colorado. Make sure you bring enough, we will be gone for a couple of months at least."
Watching his daughter's jaw drop in shock for the second time in five minutes, Richard Castle couldn't help the sense of immense satisfaction that warmed his chest. Maybe a trip to Colorado wouldn't be so bad after all.
The days on the train had been tense to say the least. Alexis had barely said two words to her father since they had left Grand Central Station three days prior and while the silence was starting to grate on his nerves, Castle was not willing to apologize for his actions. If he had to spend two months away from civilization, he was not going to do it on his own. Besides, seeing some of the world would be good for his daughter. There was more to life than just New York City, and it was time for his daughter to learn that. This had nothing to do with Ashley Sinclaire at all. This was just his way of being a good father and teaching his daughter about different cultures. There was absolutely nothing immature or petty about tearing his fifteen-year-old daughter away from her life, school or her society boy suitor.
Two days later, as the train pulled to a stop at the Colorado Springs station, Richard Castle had managed to pester Alexis into speaking an entire sentence. They made their way off of the train and onto the rickety wooden platform sharing a worried glance as the sun beat down onto their exposed skin and dust swirled in gusts around them. Alexis gazed down at her skirt and the toes of her healed ankle boots as the fine red dust began covering her fine garments. Rebecca, Alexis's middle aged nanny, who had been adamant about accompanying them so to protect Alexis from "the unnatural forces that could be found on the frontier", let out a huff of disgust from behind them.
The buildings were no more than three stories tall and the roads consisted of beaten down dirt paths. Men were walking around in dirty wool pants and cotton shirts, cowboy boots and hats that the Castles had only seen in pictures. Women were wore ill fitted plain cotton dresses and skirts with their hair pulled into single plaited braids. Suddenly both Richard and Alexis felt severely overdressed in, what would be considered, everyday casual wear in New York. As passersby stopped to stare at the pair, it became painfully obvious that they had just entered a whole new world.
The pair made their way through the streets towards the only hotel in Colorado Springs, Alexis clinging to her father's arm. The term 'streets' was a stretch, Rick thought as he looked around, there was only one main road with a couple small alleys branching off to the sides. The buildings, while looking sturdy were made of wooden boards and most of them, but not all, had glass windows. Many doors were swinging panels. There was a saloon across the street from the hotel, and a couple of drunken men were sprawled in rocking chairs outside the doors. Any previous ill will seemingly forgotten as they made their way through the foreign land. Men leered at them and scantily clad women leaned out of windows from above the saloon, calling out while they walked down the dusty road.
Once they reached the hotel, the freestanding building was a pleasant surprise. The doors were made of solid wood and had stained glass windows. The lobby boasted a large chandelier and a dining room, which they were informed, was the best restaurant in Colorado Springs. Their room was a suite, booked by Porter the week before and had large rooms for both Alexis and Rick, with a smaller, but still elegant room for Rebecca. The older woman had continued to cluck about one thing or another as they had made their way through the town, trying to shield Alexis's eyes from the seedier elements. Alexis, for her part, had continued to crane her neck around, taking in all the sights she could.
Once they reached the room Rebecca had settled down, seemingly content with the state of their temporary home she ushered Alexis off to take a nap, despite her protests, and Castle was left to venture out to explore the city and find the infamous Sheriff Beckett on his own.
Wandering back down Main Street, he stopped to talk to a few of the locals and was pointed in the direction of the sheriff's office. The office, as it turns out, was a couple of jail cells and a wooden desk. Walking through the swinging door Castle took in the sight of a couple of seemingly drunken and extraordinarily smelly men sleeping in the first cell. A lone figure, presumably Hal Lockwood, was sitting stock still in the far cell, his back to the bars staring at the far wall.
Turning to the desk he found probably the most beautiful woman he had ever seen staring at him with a small, amused smirk on her face. He was surprised to see she had on dusty cowboy boots, which were propped up on the desk as she lounged back in the chair. An equally dusty cowboy hat sat on her head, covering her long dark brown hair that was falling over her shoulder in a braid. As he took her in, he was suddenly shocked to note that she was not only wearing boots and a hat, but also pants. A woman wearing pants? Castle couldn't help but find that scandalous, even for Colorado Springs.
His thoughts flashed back to the society women in New York City with their whalebone corsets, the best that could be imported from Europe and their hand stitched and beaded dresses- always in the latest fashion. How could a woman possibly think that it was okay to dress this way? He could understand the limited means of the frontier population but pants on a woman? At least the other women he had seen had the decency to be wearing ankle length dresses, hell, even the prostitutes were wearing dresses. What was even worse, Castle thought was that the sheriff had left this woman in charge of Lockwood. But right now he didn't have another choice; this woman was the only one here who could possibly tell him where the sheriff was and if he could charm the women of New York, he could definitely charm this woman too.
"Excuse me, Miss," He began, tipping his head in her direction and letting a confident smirk cross his face. "I am looking for a Sheriff Beckett. Do you have any idea where I can find him?"
The woman stared at him for a moment and the smirk on her face grew and he could have sworn he saw laughter fill her eyes, "Well, Sir, if you are looking for a man named Beckett, you would probably find him at the saloon."
"Um, thank you Miss, I appreciate it," Castle stuttered as he looked into the woman's shockingly green eyes, her wide white smile disarming him momentarily. As quickly as he had mustered up his charm and charisma, he felt it melt away as the woman disarmed him completely. Backing away slowly, he felt himself run into the swinging wooden door before dragging his eyes away from her and turning to look back out to the street. He heard the woman's soft chuckle when he exited the building. Standing their, just outside the door he shook his head and couldn't help but wonder what had just happened. Never, had a woman had that type of affect on him before, and he hadn't spent more than a couple of minutes in her presence. He had to get control of himself. He was not allowed to be feeling things for a frontier woman, especially one that wore pants. It was too scandalous and that was saying something, because Richard Castle was the king of scandal.
Wiping a hand slowly down over his face, he glanced both ways down the street. Once he had again gained his bearings, he made his way towards the saloon. He was shocked that the Sheriff would leave a dangerous man like Hal Lockwood alone with a woman so he could go have a drink. But after all, this was the west, not New York, and he couldn't expect the men out here to have the same work ethic. Walking through the saloon doors, he paused for a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the dark room before looking around. There were four men sitting around, playing a game of cards. A woman was hanging around one man's neck as he leaned back casually in his chair, a drunken smile across his face. Panning around the room the only other patron was a lone man sitting at the bar, nursing a drink as he chatted with the bartender.
Making his way to the bar, Castle set his sights on the bartender, a rather clean cut man probably around fifty. His salt and pepper hair made him looked distinguished and he wore a pair of pressed black pants and a vest, which Rick noted, was a step above normal garb in the town. The bartender was nodding knowingly as the drunken man at the bar rambled on about whatever woes currently plagued him and turned his attention to Castle as he approached, putting down the glass he was currently drying.
"Can I help you?" He asked as Castle saddled up to the bar.
Castle glanced around once more, slightly confused. None of the men in the room seemed to fit the description of the tough as nails, no nonsense sheriff who had caught Hal Lockwood. Hell, none of the men in the room looked like they could even stand for a fight, let alone shoot a gun, at the moment. "Yes, I hope so. I am looking for Beckett."
The bartender let out a slight chuckle and stuck out his hand, "Well you found him, Jim Beckett at your service."
Castle felt his eyebrows rise to his hairline as he reached out to shake the man's hand, "You are Sheriff Beckett?"
Jim's laugh grew into a full belly laugh, "No, definitely not. Sheriff Beckett would be my child. "
Castle felt his confusion grow, "I don't understand, I was just at the jail and the woman there said that I would find him here."
Jim laughed again, set down his drying rag and glass, and beckoned for Castle to follow him.
"What's your name, son?" The older man asked as he made his way around the bar.
"Richard Castle, I am a reporter from the New York Times. I'm here to do a piece on the sheriff and Hal Lockwood."
Jim nodded in understanding as he pushed his way through the doors and back into the town. "I know who you are Mr. Castle. I'm a big fan of your work."
"Let me guess," the older man continued. "When you asked for the Sheriff you said you wanted to talk to him."
"Well, yes," Castle replied, his confusion not lessening as he followed the older man back to the jail.
"Oh, that child is going to be the death of me," he heard Jim mumbled as they made their way up the wooden steps and past two men who were now lounging on the front porch of the jailhouse.
"Katie!" Jim bellowed as he passed through the door.
The woman, who was still dozing at the desk, lazily push her hat up with one finger to uncover her face, and cracked open a single eye to see who was calling her. "Will you please stop making this poor man run all over town looking for the sheriff?"
"What can I say, Jim, he said he wanted to talk to him," the woman voice had taken on an innocent bored drawl as she addressed the older man but Castle could have sworn he could still here a hint of amusement in it.
Jim let out a sigh and rubbed his thumb and forefinger over his brow in exasperation. After dropping his head for a moment and rubbing the back of his neck he turned towards Rick and held out his hand towards the woman, "Richard Castle, I would like you to meet my daughter, Sheriff Kate Beckett."
"Katie, meet Richard Castle star reported from the New York Times."
Richard Castle, master of the written word, charmer of women, renowned playboy of New York City found himself staring at Kate Beckett and found he was at a loss for words as Kate Beckett stared back at him; her amused smirk turning into a full fledged smile. Colorado Springs just got a lot more interesting and Rick Castle wasn't sure if he liked it.