Disclaimer: Something about Castle and how I don't own it.
Author's Note: This is a long overdue response to Cops and Robbers. It's probably my favorite episode of Castle ever. This story has been sitting on my hard-drive for a while, so it was time that it saw the light of day. I'm thinking of making this story into a series of one-shots, each involving Martha and another show character. I have so much fun writing her, and we all know that she has an opinion on everything. So let me know if there is any interest in me continuing the series.
Mother Goose: Good Night, Sleep Tight
Beckett slipped softly across the living area of the loft. Without her heels on, she was slient on the floor. "Kate, is that you?" Or maybe only nearly silent.
She grimaced at the Castle family matriarch, dressed in a garish robe. "Sorry, Martha. I didn't mean to disturb you."
Martha tutted and waved off her concern. "No, not at all, dear. Occupational hazard of a Broadway diva. A lot of late nights with an adoring crowd lead to a bit of insomnia from time to time. Especially after the excitement of a day like today. So, can't sleep either?"
Beckett shrugged, "No, not really."
Martha tutted in agreement, "I can only imagine, after the day that you've had. I don't know how you ever sleep." She adjusted her robe and then stepped closer to the detective, trying to see the expression on her face, lit only by the glow of the fireplace.
Kate sighed, turning her face toward the warmth of the fire. "It's not that, exactly. I just always have trouble sleeping in strange places."
Martha's eyes swept around the loft. Kate didn't really visit all that often, but it had been Kate's home for a few days once. "Is this place really so strange?"
Kate continued to stare at the fire, pensive. Large, expensive, glamorous? Yes. Cozy? Definitely. Strange? Not really, no. Not anymore. Kate shrugged again. "I don't know, maybe it is the case." And maybe it was more than just the case, but Kate didn't want to reflect on that particular thought, it was part of the reason that she was having difficulty sleeping.
The actress pulled Beckett's attention away from her own musings. "A psychotic man willing to kill anyone in his path in order to kidnap his son and get revenge on his wife. Who could sleep after a case like that?" Martha paused for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "And after that bomb went off, my heart stopped in my chest. We were safe in that room, but the rest of you. I can't even imagine what you thought when..." Martha choked up a bit, and Kate twisted her body in order to face the older woman.
Kate reached out and placed a hand on Martha's shoulder. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring the subject up again. I didn't mean to upset you."
Martha clasped Kate's hand firmly in her own, giving a warm squeeze before releasing it. "Think nothing of it, dear, it's done, and that little boy and his mother are safe, and we are all fine." Martha sniffled once, but seemed to regain her typical joie de vivre. "Really, it will make a great story at Richard's next poker night. A thrilling plot, real danger, drama around every corner. It's a shame that Richard doesn't try his hand at play-writing much these days."
Beckett let out a soft laugh. "I forgot that Castle's written plays. He mentioned it on a case once."
Martha chuckled a bit as well, "Yes, still unproduced, of course. And it would be a little self-serving for him to write me a role in one, if he ever tried again. But don't you think I'd make a good lead detective? It'd be the perfect part for me. Steely determination, gorgeous looks, and harrowing bravery; I can practically smell the Tony!"
Beckett smiled indulgently. The matriarch of the family could be a bit over the top, but she was always entertaining. And Kate could picture it. Martha on stage in a slightly sexy version of a police uniform, her red hair tamed back, grilling a fellow actor into a confession. She could almost see Castle backstage, mouthing along with the words that he wrote, and frowning when Martha threw in the occasional ad-lib.
Martha's voice broke through Kate's imaginings. "How rude of me, would you like something to drink? Something warm, perhaps?"
Kate smiled, that was why she had left the guest room in the first place. She had been thirsty as well as restless. "Actually, some tea would be nice. But don't trouble yourself, Martha. I can find where everything is."
Martha's eyes lit up. "Oh, I know just the thing. You go grab a book off of the shelves, and make yourself cozy on the couch. I'll be right out."
Beckett attempted to protest, but Martha was already raising some lights, and gesturing at a wall of bookshelves. There were more in the den, but there were more than enough books here to choose from without going into Castle's space. Surely Kate could find something to entertain herself for a little while.
Ten minutes later, Martha walked over to Kate holding out one enormous, steaming mug, keeping the other for herself. Kate reached for the piece of ceramic and held it in her hands, absorbing the warmth for a long moment.
"It's just cocoa, not poison, dear. Drink up." Martha seated herself on the opposite end of the sofa and tilted her mug in a silent toast before taking a long drag of the drink.
Kate smiled and took a tentative sip of her own. She choked on the liquid, clearly she wasn't drinking just hot chocolate.
"Oh, I put in a drop of Bailey's. Hope you don't mind."
There was more than a drop of alcohol in her mug, but Kate didn't call her on it. "No, of course not. It's delicious. Thank you." As if to prove her point, Beckett took a deep drink and sighed as the warm liquid ran down her throat.
They were silent for a few moments, each enjoying the play of firelight around the apartment and the warm drinks in their hands. Once again, it was Martha that broke the silence. "I always find cocoa such a soothing drink on a night like this, don't you?"
Kate hummed a response. "My mother used to make it when one of us had a bad day. She had this recipe for perfect cocoa, but I never learned her secret ingredient. Every time I tried to make it after she died, it just didn't taste right. I haven't even attempted it in a long time."
"Kate." Martha set her mug down on the nearby end table, turning her full focus on the detective, her eyes full of an unspoken emotion.
Kate hadn't meant to be so maudlin. And even though she hadn't planned on sharing that bit of her mother, it did feel nice to open up just a little bit. Dr. Burke would be proud. "No, Martha, really. This is delicious. Thank you for making it. It is soothing. It's different than hers, but it's nice. Thank you."
Kate bent her head down, focusing again on the drink in front of her, but Martha continued to watch her for a long moment. Martha let out a hearty chuckle, earning an eyebrow raise from Beckett. "I'm surprised that Richard isn't hovering over you."
"Richard, he likes to hover. Around you."
Kate smiled, "Hover, intrude, annoy. Yes, he does like to do that." A slight blush rose in her cheeks, but Martha kept her innermost thoughts to herself. She wouldn't tease Kate about Richard, not tonight. The poor girl had been through enough today. But Martha had seen Kate's face, the detective's hand reaching out for her son's lapel. Whatever Richard felt, Martha now knew for a fact that Kate's own emotions reflected back, just as deep. She would tease Richard about it later.
Still, Martha couldn't drop the conversation entirely, it wasn't in her nature. "I'm glad that you agreed to stay over. After a day like today, it's nice to all be here, together." Kate said nothing, just pressed her lips together. Martha continued, "And I think that it helped cheer Alexis up too. Seeing that life goes on, even after your heart gets broken. Richard was in fine form tonight, wasn't he?"
A soft smile graced Kate's face, her voice a whisper. "He's such a good father."
"Castle, Rick, he's a good father. You've raised a good man."
The actress beamed at the compliment. "Thank you, that's nice of you to say. Lord knows, I wasn't perfect. In fact, most days, I'm not sure that I had much of anything to do with how he turned out."
Kate set her mug down, and reached over to pat Martha's hand, "Don't be so hard on yourself."
Martha laughed again, "Don't patronize me."
"I thought that you knew me better than that. I don't patronize anybody. Except Castle, but only when he deserves it." Both women chuckled at Castle's expense.
Martha took a last sip out of her mug, "Well, I think that it is time for me to hit the hay. I have some phone calls to make in the morning. And one particular call to make to a rather debonair bank manager, I need my beauty sleep. Don't stay up too late, dear."
Kate gave the woman a small smile, bypassing her empty mug in order to pick up the novel that she had chosen earlier. "Good night, Martha. I'll see you in the morning."
Martha began to turn away, but snapped her fingers and twirled back to face Kate. "Love."
"Your mother's secret ingredient. It was love."
Kate closed the book, holding her place with a finger. "I don't understand."
"I read a story once about a woman who had a tin can of a spice. She would sprinkle it on everything: pies, potatoes, pasta, you name it. Her husband would always ask about it, and she just said that it was her secret ingredient. He never saw her refill the can, but he watched her use it on everything that she ever made. After she died, her curious husband got the can out of the pantry and opened it. The can was empty except for a note that read, 'to everything you make, add a dash of love.' I think that's what your hot cocoa was missing."
Kate used the hand that wasn't trapped by her book to wipe away a tear. The story was sappy, but it sounded like something that her mother would have done; some lesson that Johanna Beckett tried to teach her daughter. Kate's mother would have added a dash of love to everything.
She wiped at another tear, and suddenly Martha's arms were around her, giving her a comfort that she hadn't felt in over a decade. Martha was entirely different from her mother, but Beckett took solace in the elegant scent and in the warm arms. After a day like today, when a young boy had nearly lost his mother, when Alexis had almost lost a father and a grandmother, when a Kate had almost lost her partner, a hug from Martha felt nice.
Martha held her for a long moment, until Kate pulled away slightly, whispering a "thank you."
Martha gave the detective one last squeeze. "Sometimes, you just need a mother. And if you ever need one again, you know where to find me."