Alexis sat at the kitchen island with a Gray's Anatomy book in her lap - the medical textbook, not some fangirl TV show book. (Even though Patrick Dempsey is hot, for an old guy. He's, like, her dad's age, right?) She was studying for her work with Dr. Parrish.
She was getting good at this. It was important. Finding answers so the detectives could find killers and bring them to justice and give families some closure. It was meaningful.
She also had a psychology book out. Because real life sometimes seemed a lot more like a TV show than it had any right to. Like when she walked in on Beckett jealously telling her dad that he could sleep with whoever he wanted, the more the merrier. Or when Dr. Parrish excused herself to have a conversation with Esposito and returned with a smile that lasted the rest of the day. Or some of the other detectives gossipping about people she didn't even know. Or the creepy way Dr. Perlmutter enjoyed examining the bodies.
But something was off. Way off. She thought she saw Gina with her dad at lunch, but it turned out to be some other woman. And her dad didn't even notice passing her as they walked by. He was smiling when he told his team goodbye, but was preoccupied and clenching his jaw once his back was to them. She'd seen that look before. Back when some boys had shoved her around at school one day. The teacher didn't report it. "Boys will be boys," the teacher had said. She could hear him on the phone with each boy's parents that night after she was supposed to be asleep. He was livid. She had four written apologies in her hand the next morning in homeroom. She'd also seen that look when he fought with her mother when she was little. It was a rare look. But it was a bad one.
Her phone buzzed, bringing her out of her thoughts. It was a text from Dr. Parrish with an address for a crime scene. Alexis heard her dad's phone ring. The well-known ringtone was Beckett's. He let it go to voicemail.
Something was definitely off.
She put away her text books, grabbed her labcoat (she really loved how she looked in it), and called out to her father. "Dad, I'm going to the crime scene! Did Detective Beckett just call you to it? We can ride together."
He walked out of his room slowly. Crime scenes usually excited him. Alexis went from concerned and confused to a little worried.
"Yeah. Just lemme check the message." He listened and repeated the address to her; she confirmed that they'd been summoned to the same crime scene.
The whole ride, he asked about how she was liking her internships and how the other three were going, and generally avoided anything she asked about why he was acting so different.
She saw Beckett trying to talk to him. He seemed to be avoiding her. She caught Dr. Parrish studying them, too. She turned around to check on something out of sight and heard Esposito quietly asking Dr. Parrish, "Hey? You know what's eating at Castle? Dude's acting weird." Dr. Parrish started to answer, but realized her young intern was still within earshot.
Alexis returned in time to see the doctor shaking her head no. Esposito had the poor manners to glance at Alexis with the question on his face. She shrugged. She didn't know what was going on, either.
Her dad did the job, just like Ryan, Esposito, and Beckett did the job. He asked questions, listened to Dr. Parrish's findings, spoke to the witness, and did it all more than an arm's length away from his partner, when he usually was in her personal space. He never once smiled or joked with her. Nothing looked off to any outsiders, only to those who knew how Castle and Beckett were supposed to look.
They left the crime scene separately. She went with the doctor in the morgue-mobile, and she assumed her dad went with Beckett beck to the precinct.
When she got home, he was in his office, absently staring at the wall with a glass of scotch in his hand. The bottle had about a fifth left in the bottom. She started to ask if he was okay, but her grandmother glided in, wrapped her arm around her, and guided her away from her father's blank stare. "You don't want to know," was the only explanation Grams gave.
But she did want to know. Not out of nosiness, just out of concern.
The next afternoon, he seemed a little happier. His smile never reached his eyes, but he was trying to not brood. Whatever was wrong, maybe it would blow over soon.
"Dad, are you okay?"
"Yeah, Pumpkin. Fine."
"You'd tell me if something was really wrong, right?" She knew better than to pry.
"Of course I would, Sweetie. It'll be fine."
"So, it's not fine now?" Okay, maybe she wasn't so good at the not-prying thing.
"Just learned something I didn't like, that's all. I'll get over it." He took a deep breath and pulled himself up to his best posture. "In fact, I think I need a night out. Have a little fun."
Alexis's bottom lip and eyebrows quirked in surprise. She watched him call someone (Beckett, she hoped), and smiled as he made plans for dinner.
She was scheduled to help Dr. Parrish that night, so she didn't have to be called to a crime scene. She noticed the empty scotch bottle on his desk on her way out.
The officers were the only ones who beat her and the doctor to the scene. Esposito and Ryan showed up next. Then Beckett, alone. A while passed, and the two older women walked together, obviously discussing something personal. Beckett looked upset. And confused.
And then, in the spectacularly embarrassing way he used to constantly do, her dad arrived. In the Farrari. With a date. Alexis couldn't even tell if that was the same woman he'd been with the other day. The woman was smiling far too much for someone who had just arrived at a crime scene. So was her dad for that matter.
Alexis looked at the other members of the team. Beckett looked mortified. Ryan and Esposito looked like they were watching a tennis match, from Castle to Beckett and back. They sprung into action, getting between her dad and his partner as quickly as they could. The blonde date, who was apparently a heartless bitch, kept smiling, oohing, aahhing, and generally fawning all over her dad because of the brilliant work he was doing. As if that was appropriate behavior for a homocide scene. Alexis wanted to march up and say, "Hello? There's a dead body right there. Someone's child. Someone's friend. It's not a theme park." But, just like how tourists sometimes took pictures, this woman simply accepted murder as part of the New York landscape. So the young lady held her tongue. It wasn't her place. Though she did decide to voice her disgust with her dad's choice of company once she got home.
She heard Dr. Parrish click her tongue nearby and saw the same disdain on her face. Plus a sympathetic look to Beckett. And Esposito & Ryan were also giving Beckett sympathetic looks.
"Grams? What happened between Dad and Beckett?"
"Oh, um, well, dear, that's between them."
"And everyone around them. The crime scenes have this whole awkward vibe and everyone's acting like Dad broke Beckett's heart. What happened?"
"Like he broke her heart? What makes you say that?"
"Everything. They way they act. The way they talk. She's acting like her best friend decided they aren't friends anymore, and she doesn't seem to know why, and everyone else looks just as confused as she is. He's been rude and distant. Then dad shows up in the Ferrari with some ditz acting like he's ready to start signing boobs. Do you know what's going on?"
"Who he dates is his business, not ours. I'm sure they'll figure out what's bothering them soon enough."
"But I thought he was trying to date Beckett. They were acting like a couple already. Then something happened."
"Something happened alright."
"So you do know!" Alexis dug in. She didn't intend to relent any time soon. Grams could hedge all she wanted, but she could get enough from her to be able to peice things together.
Martha patted Alexis's hand. "Darling, they are friends. They are partners. They aren't anything more. They never have been."
"Now, that's all you'll get from me. Your father's love live isn't your business, so I suggest you let it go."
Alexis went to bed still wondering what had happened. They were clearly more than just friends, even if they had never labled themselved as more than friends.
She heard the blonde skulk out before dawn. Ugh. Gross.
He looked even more depressed at breakfast than before his date.
"Coffee?" Alexis offered.
She was surprised. Then he mumbled, sounding sad and lost, "No more coffee. Ever."
She put the mug down, harder than she intended, making him startle. "Dad. Just tell me what's going on."
He looked up but avoided her eyes. His were bloodshot. He whispered, "I thought I could do this."
She smelled alcohol on him. "Are you drunk?"
"What? No. I had a little. I'm fine."
"What happened with you and Beckett?"
He stared straight ahead.
"Dad, what happened?" She had more compassion in her voice this time.
"Nothing." He abruptly got up and went back to his room. She hear him saying as he walked through his door, "Abso-freakin-lutely nothing."
And Alexis figured it out.
Gossip chains work both ways. Just as Martha got the scoop sometimes from what Alexis heard at work, Beckett & her dad could benefit from it, too.
"Dr. Parrish, can I ask you something personal?"
"How my dad and Beckett are acting... is this normal for them? I mean, do they do this from time to time?"
"Nuh-uh. This is new. They'll fuss with each other, but this isn't normal. Why?"
"He's just different. And I'm worried."
"Honey, he'll be fine. They're friends and partners. They'll come through this just fine." Lanie knew better than to go into more detail with his kid. She'd only just gotten all the details from Kate last night.
"So I've heard. But maybe it would help if you knew how he's acting when he's not here. Maybe you could help them figure things out a little faster?"
"Oh, girl, that would totally be wrong for his kid to give her best friend the scoop on what he's doing at home. Now dish."
Alexis chuckled at the doctor. But, obviously, Beckett needed to know he was hurting, when it started, and that it was because nothing had happened. So she told Beckett's best friend everything while standing over a dead body.
She hoped it would help. Then, almost as an afterthought, she added, "Now, don't ever let him find out that I told you that."
"Not a problem, girl. It came from an anonymous little birdie."
"Thanks." For the first time in a week, Alexis felt like her dad could be pulled out of this downward spiral. She hoped they weren't too late.
Please review! I'm addicted to reviews. They're addictive like the blog at portlandiamom. blogspot. com. Jen is funny and brutally honest and completely in love with Nathan Fillion.