Holy schmoly... I'm not even gonna try to talk about this chapter because I've been writing for the last 6 hours and it's 3 o'clock in the morning... Goodnight. "Snore"
A little after two am that morning, as Castle and Beckett lay sleeping in each others arms, Beckett's phone began to ring.
The pair of them woke up, groaning.
"Castle…" Beckett gurgled, sleep dripping off of each syllable.
"I got it", he returned wearily, rolling onto his stomach and reaching down below the bed to pick up the phone. He put it to his ear, flicking on the bedside lamp and squeezing his eyes tight as the light assaulted them.
"Hawkeye, it's The Swordsman. Don't say anything, I know you're on your girl's phone but we could still be being traced. The morro is a go, meet me half an hour before the time of day you were born, there's a significant landmark that should be easily recognizable to you, twice the distance from the home your mother lived in when we met to your favorite place in the city. Get some sleep, Hawkeye. She's safe for another night."
The cryptic phone call was ended when his Father hung up, disallowing Castle to say anything, not that he had planned to, or even could in fact.
"Hawkeye, it's The Swordsman".
How dare his Father try bond at a time like this?
Castle threw the phone down on the dresser and stood up from the bed with a huff. He took a glance back at his partner who was sound asleep again. It was no wonder why, she had flown from New York just to at his side while he looked for his daughter, it wasn't a small journey and she'd put her detective skills into practice the moment the wheels of the plane had hit the tarmac.
She deserved to sleep, though he couldn't now if he tried.
He replayed his Father's message in his mind:
"Meet me half an hour before the time of day you were born".
Castle was born at 8:30 in the morning. He would be meeting his Father at 800 hours.
"There's a significant landmark that should be easily recognizable to you, twice the distance from the home your mother lived in when we met to your favorite place in the city"
Castle wasn't familiar with any landmarks around the area outside of Paris, only those within it, but with a quick calculation, he recalled the fact that his Mother had lived in a dingy little studio apartment in Harlem at the time of his birth, and as far as he knew, she'd been there a couple of years prior to that time.
His favorite place was clear to him but how was it so obvious to his Father? Castle still couldn't wrap his head around ho intimately this stranger evidently knew him, but Castle knew to trust it.
His childhood home was two and a quarter miles from the New York Public Library – his favorite place in all of New York City. Which meant that whatever this landmark was, it was situated four and a half miles away from their target location – Prevot's estate.
Cast walked to the window, hoping upon all hope that his calculations were all correct, and that he and Agent 47 were on the same page. The concerned Father gazed out the window, and down upon the lights of Paris, which seemed to glisten far less in comparison to his dear New York.
He mulled over his Father's final sentence over and over again.
"Get some sleep, Hawkeye. She's safe for another night."
Sleep wasn't an option. And neither was the alternative to his daughter being anything but safe.
He climbed back into bed with his girlfriend and switched the lamp back off, muttering quietly to himself.
"You'd better be right, Dad."
It was 7:45 and a very confused taxi driver was taking Castle and Beckett along the highway, still not sure of his exact destination.
There were many old stone houses and a couple of buildings to be considered more a chateaux than a regular home. Nothing around here stood out to Castle.
He shook his head, giving up all hope, when suddenly, he saw it.
There was a long path which led to a restaurant. At the end of the path, the name of said restaurant was advertised on a large, hanging wooden sign. The name, written in black cursive with a picture of a large black, crow like bird; was "Le Corbeau".
"The raven", Castle said to himself, smiling a little at his Father's sense of humor. He knew from then that the man definitely knew him well enough that Castle should have no more doubts about it.
"Pull over here, s'il vous plaît."
"Oui Monseiur", the driver pulled over and Castle gave him what he owed, as well as a large tip for his trouble.
"You got your gun? I don't want to take any chances", Castle asked of Beckett.
"Right here", Beckett assured him, patting her jacket.
Castle nodded. "Stay on high alert."
"Castle, are you sure this is it? I don't see him."
"Well, we're a little early. He'll be here, this is definitely the right place."
At that moment, a maitre'd stepped out of the restaurant, squinting nervously in Castle and Beckett's direction. "Uh, pardon me. Are you Mr... Poe?" The young man asked.
Castle glanced at Beckett, raising his eyebrow. "Uh, yeah that's me."
"Follow me", he instructed Castle who followed the man, Beckett close on his heels.
The maitre'd led the couple through the tasteful restaurant, which, was of course, closed at this hour of the morning. Upon arriving out the back of the restaurant, Castle and Beckett found themselves in a garden which was bordered by a lake.
There was a canoe floating peacefully on the water top, and a man who stood beside it.
Castle's Father, of course.
"Non-audible, untraceable mode of transport that leads right onto Prevot's estate? et voila."
"So what's your plan of attack once we finally get there?" Castle asked his Father, annoyance evident in his voice at the physical labour of having to canoe four miles upstream. "I mean assuming all of our energy isn't consumed by that stage."
"Kid, you want to pike out and let me row this damn boat, you go right on ahead. Sit back, relax. Only pull up a bailing can and make yourself somewhat useful."
Castle gave his Father a look of pure contempt and Beckett rolled her eyes.
"Alright, there's no need for sarcasm. Just remember whose mess we're trying to fix here", Beckett shot at 47, making Castle smirk and his Father narrow his eyes a little before speaking.
"My plan is simple, believe it or not I don't want to have to kill anyone today." 47 informed the other two. "So here's what's going to happen. Prevot is expecting a shipment in today and since his warehouse has been abandoned, and I'm sure he's had no time to think to make other arrangements, we're going to send the lovely detective in, playing the part of a confused import who has just been dropped off by one of Prevot's many incompetent men."
"Wait a second...What?" Castle reacted defensively.
"Castle shh, go on", Beckett prompted 47.
"She will go up to the door, and Prevot will no doubt be distracted with her for a while, giving you and I time to find Alexis and Sara and get them out of there."
"And what about Kate in the meantime, and what about security? The girls aren't going to be unguarded."
"You're right, but son, I'm the best at what I do, I can take a couple of Prevot's clowns, no sweat."
"And I'll be fine, I can take care of myself and if things get out of hand, I am still armed, remember?"
But Castle shook his head emphatically. "No, no way. I am not risking the life of a person I love to save the life of another person I love."
Beckett's breath caught in her throat, but she recovered quickly, not letting it show too much. "Castle, it makes sense that I go in first, out of the three of us I'd be the least recognizable to Prevot."
Castle still looked terrified and Beckett took his hand, ceasing his movements as he rowed. "Hey. I'll be fine. You just get Alexis and Sara out safe, OK?"
Castle felt like it was the worst thing he'd ever agreed to, but he did so even still.
They pulled into a small bay off the lake and Beckett hoped out.
Castle's eyes widened as he took in the large mansion in front of him. "That's a hell of a big place to search."
"Don't worry Richard, as soon as we've got the girls to safety, we'll be going back in for your lady love here."
Castle stood up to help Beckett onto the bank. He leaned forward out of the canoe and took her head in his hand, bringing it forward to meet his own. "Be careful" he told her, his voice wavering.
"You be careful", she instructed him back. She pulled back from him and gave his Father a small nod before turning away from them and walking up the great lawn of the estate, toward the mansion.
He watched her go and then tried to climb out of the canoe himself but his Father stopped him. "Whoa there, we're best to sit tight until she's had enough time to attract their attention. We want her to cause enough of a commotion that our entrance goes as unnoticed as possible."
Castle shook his head at his Father. "Do you have any idea how unbelievably selfish you sound?"
"Hey, I am only trying to get Alexis out of there safely... And the El-Masri girl. It's bad enough losing your own child but being responsible for the loss of someone else's too?"
"Well that's what got us into this whole mess in the first place, isn't it? You being responsible for taking the life of someones child."
47 swallowed hard, glancing away from the harsh sting of his son's words. "If you had seen those girls. If you had witnessed what I witnessed..."
"So, because you were never be there for your own goddamned kid, you now feel it's your responsibility to protect everyone else's?"
Those words seemed to cut even deeper as his Father closed his eyes, taking in a shaky breath.
"I regretted it… I still regret it, every day. I left for a job when you were six months in the womb… Time I came back, you were walking. I watched you and your mother at the park, you slid down that big slide and she caught you at the bottom. You both laughed, and I knew right then that I had missed my chance. I knew that if I were to come into your life at that point, I'd only ruin it. Every job I went on would drive us further apart and I couldn't stand to see you break like that. To the little boy you were then, I was a nobody, just another face in the crowd… But I loved that little boy."
Castle could feel himself becoming affected by the older man's words, and he didn't want that. He needed to be emotionally stagnant right at this moment, blocking out anything that would affect clear thought and logic.
"Come on, she's been up there long enough now."
47 stood up and, without facing his son, said "We need to keep low, there will still be a couple of men floating around. If it's totally necessary, I can take them out but the less commotion we cause, the better."
Castle and his Father flanked around the back of the mansion. "How do we even know where to start?" Castle asked him.
47 reached into his back pocket and pulled out a smart phone. "Metal detecting app. I used this in Damascus to find their shipment. I saved the composite data and then re-loaded to make a comparison for the next time. If Alexis and Sara are being held in cages similar to the ones Prevot usually holds his girls in, this will tell us where they are."
"Wait a second, where did you get that phone?"
47 shrugged. "The waiter at The Raven."
Castle shook his head.
"Alright, so far nothing. We'll have to be standing right beside the right area to even pick up a signal anyway", 47 told his son as he scanned the area.
There was some animated chatter in Arabic nearby them and Castle Sr. pulled the younger man down behind a shrub, concealing the two of them as two men walked by.
They came out from behind the shrub and made their way hastily to the end of the mansion, keeping close to the wall.
"We may need to go up a level", Castle told his Father.
He could hear a lot of whooping and laughing going on inside the expansive home and he balled his fists tight at the thought of what might be happening to his partner right at this moment.
"Yeah, I think you're right..."
Castle shushed his Father. Somewhere near to where they were, he could hear a faint yelling. It was a female, and it wasn't Beckett.
"Alexis", Castle's head shot up and he threw all caution to the wind as he ran around the front of the house and pushed the side kitchen door open, excusing himself as he knocked into household staff.
"Richard!" His Father whispered frantically to him as he chased his reckless son through the house.
Something about hearing his daughter's voice made Castle react though, and the inexplicable need to see her, even if only for a moment before being shot dead, was driving Castle on.
Castle exited the kitchen and found himself in a parlor of some kind.
He barely had time to blink before shots were being fired. But none of them hit him. His Father took out the two men who were in there, and soon another one had come running and Agent 47 had rid him of his burdens too.
Castle's heart flew, gaining a new lease of life as he heard the voice of his daughter for the first time since she had skype called him in distress two nights ago.
"Pumpkin-" He ran to her entrapment and began trying to pointlessly pry the bars open.
"Hurry Dad, there are others, they'll be coming soon too."
"Stand back, kid", he heard his Father's voice and Castle stepped back just in time for a shot to go whizzing past him and blow the lock on the cage to pieces.
Castle flung the barred door open and pulled his daughter into his arms of safety.
The two of them hung on to each other for dear life, Alexis crying into his shoulder.
"Where's Sara?" Castle asked his daughter.
"She-she escaped back at the place in the city. I mean, I think she did, God I hope she did and they didn't just kill her."
"No, Shh sweetheart, I'm sure she's fine, and it's all over now OK? I'm here now, everything's going to be alright."
"Well, well", a cold, French accent filled the room.
Castle turned to see a man in a well-cut suit with slicked back jet black hair and glasses, smirking evilly and holding a gun in front of himself, pointing it, not at himself or his daughter, but at Alexis.
"I expect only to 'ave ze pleasure of killing you, Agent. But wiz your son 'ere, how can I deny zis kind of poetic justice?"
"You let my family go, Prevot. I'm here now, it's me you want so let them go."
Prevot laughed at 47 and then turned to Castle. "You think your little woman out zere 'ad me fooled? I could smell the stench of police on her from a mile away."
Prevot yelled out something in Arabic and two men bustled into the room, each with an arm laced around Beckett's.
"Get your hands off her... Put 'em up!"
Castle spun around, his eyes widened to see Alexis holding a gun in her hands. "Alexis!" He squealed. "What are you doing? Where did you get that?"
"It's alright kid, it's my spare."
"You slipped my daughter your gun?! She doesn't know how to handle a weapon."
Alexis shut her eyes in exasperation, turning to her Father. "Well now everyone knows that."
A shot was fired in Alexis's direction but it missed her by inches as her Grandfather shot at the assailant.
"Don't shoot!" Prevot yelled at the last remaining man. "Do not keel ze agent, he is mine. I want him to die at my own 'ands."
There was a tussle and Beckett out-maneuvered the last guard standing, taking her weapon back from him and shooting him with it. Prevot turned around to shoot Beckett but both 47 and Alexis (though severely unwisely) had their guns pointed directly at his head.
Ever the joker, even in times of great distress, Castle groaned to himself. "It's like the family business."
"I got him sweetheart, you take Alexis and get out of here", 47 instructed Beckett.
Beckett glanced over at Castle who gave her a short nod.
"Come on Alexis", Kate called Alexis over to her but the girl shook her head, tears spilling from her eyes. "No, Dad."
"Alexis, go with Beckett. Now."
Beckett crossed the room and scooped Alexis up in her arms, pulling the teen out of the room with her.
Castle closed his eyes momentarily as his daughter screamed for him.
"Well, I suppose it's just us three men." Prevot snared. "Which is exactly the way I always intended it to be."
"Whichever one of us you shoot, Prevot, the other one will make sure you die", 47 warned the Frenchman in a dark tone of voice.
"You're willing to die for your son, just as I am willing to die for mine."
A pair of clicks behind them, and the self-satisfied smirk of Prevot, made Castle turn around in fear.
He'd forgotten about the two Arabic men he and his Father had almost been caught by outside a few minutes ago.
"I suggest you drop your gun, son. Both guns are pointed at your 'ead", Prevot warned Castle, an evil glint in his eye,
Castle dropped the gun he was holding and raised his hands above his head. One of the men kicked him to the ground so that he landed on his knees with a painful thud.
"'Ow many months were you watching my shipments go in and out of Damascus before you took the life of my poor, sweet boy?" Prevot questioned 47 who still had his gun pointed directly in Prevot's face.
"Why does it matter? Point is the kid died doing your dirty work. At least I'd never let my son die for my mistakes, Prevot."
Prevot chuckled cruelly at him. "Oh dear. Turn around, Agent forty-seven. You are letting zat 'appen right now."
Castle couldn't believe his eyes when his Father actually turned to look at him, dropping his own guard, offering Prevot a free shot at him. But in just one second of time, Castle seemed to understand why. His Father gazed at him intently, his eyes full of remorse.
They spoke silent words to him. "I'm sorry."
And then there was gunfire.
And Prevot fell dead to the ground, followed by his two men.
Castle gasped for air, not sure what was going on. He turned around quickly, but didn't find anyone he recognized. Instead, around ten members of the French police stood in front of him.
He looked at his Father who looked equally surprised at the unexpected turn of events.
As it turned out, the maitre'd from Le Corbeau had rung the police after the men had stolen not only his cell phone but his canoe and seemed to be about to engage in illegal activities.
The police tracked the phone by GPS and it lead them to Prevot's estate. They knew which man to shoot.
Apparently Prevot was not liked among ALL French law officials.
Alexis and Beckett ran up to greet Castle, amazed and relieved. Beckett let Alexis run ahead, sensing the teenager's need to hug her Dad was greater than her own.
"I love you so much", Castle told Alexis tearfully. "And I am never letting you out of my sight again."
Alexis cried even harder, probably because she knew that he meant it.
"I'm going to go back to the motel and grab my things. I'll give you guys some time", Beckett called over to them.
"Are you nuts?" Alexis called back to her. "You're not going anywhere. When we go, we go together. Is that a deal?" She looked between her Father and Beckett who both nodded slowly.
When she was satisfied, she walked over to Beckett and wrapped her arms around the Detective.
Beckett pressed her cheek to the top of Alexis's head. "I was really worried", she puffed out, as if she was surprised with herself for feeling as concerned as she had.
The two women pulled back from one another and Beckett looked over to see Castle glancing in the direction of the mansion, where his Father has just walked out.
"Go talk to him", she instructed him.
Castle inhaled a deep breath and then finally nodded, offering Beckett a quick but warm smile.
He heard Alexis ask Beckett "Who is that guy?"
Beckett answered "Just a guy who helped us find you."
"Well, that must have been something of a success for you. Man who wanted you killed, dead himself. You, still alive, somehow... How the hell did that happen anyway?"
47 laughed. "I'm not sure I know, but I'll tell you, every day I'm still alive is a success, son."
There was a silence between the two men for a moment.
"You know Richard, if there was ever a time when I thought I was doing you and your Mother a favor by coming into your lives, I would have."
"Hey listen, I get it. Not every man has a Fatherly instinct within them."
"You do though, and yours is powerful. More powerful than any gun, or any criminal that could ever threaten it."
Castle glanced over at his daughter lovingly and had to agree with his Father on that one.
"I'm going to try to get to New York as often as I can", Agent 47 said, pocketing his hands. He received no response that held any kind of interest from his son and he pursed his lips into something of a sad smile. "Perhaps we'll pass each other on the street", he said thickly, holding his hand out to Castle.
Castle took the large, rough hand, weathered by years of fist fights and trigger pulling, in his own, soft, well manicured one. "Perhaps", he returned, no trace of a smile dressing his face.
The two men held each others grasp for a moment longer, and even when they relinquished, their eyes stayed still connected. Agent 47 nodded, walking away from his son.
"One question... I guess it's not really important but it's the one thing I've always wanted to know", Castle called out after his Father who turned around to raise a questioning eyebrow at him.
"What's your real name?"
Castle's Father gave him a soft smile. "Now son, I know you, remember? You'd never forgive me if I didn't leave you with at least one mystery to solve."
He then turned for the last time, departing so suddenly that it felt as if his presence in Castle's life over the past two days had been some kind of fantasy.
Castle chuckled to himself and walked over to his two girls. Beckett placed a hand on his shoulder, looking at him sympathetically. "I'm sorry he wasn't what you'd hoped for, Castle."
Castle looked at her and then at his daughter who was giving him the same sad expression.
He smiled down at them, wrapping an arm each around them. "Hey, look at what I've got. What more could I hope for?"
Beckett and Alexis returned his loving smile and they walked away from the awful place that had affected them all so much.
"Man, I could really use a holiday", he added. "I'm thinking Barbados. Who's with me?"
Sara returned home safely to her parents who were greatly relieved to have their daughter back.
Alexis always believed that she and Sara were kidnapped to be sold to wealthy men.
Castle never told her about his Father. Nor did he ever discuss Agent 47 with his Mother.
His relationship with Martha only ever got stronger from that point.
She came with him and Beckett and Alexis to Barbados.
Two and a half years later, when Beckett and Castle were playing in the park with their one year old son, Beckett catching the boy as he slid down the slide into his Mother's waiting arms, laughing with her as she caught him safely; Castle thought he saw a man smiling at him and his family.
But by the time he turned back to check, his Father was already gone.