Everything That Glitters
a Dash Companion
Everybody said you'd make it big some day
And I guess that we were only in your way
But some day I'm sure, you're gonna know the cost.
Because for everything you win there's something lost. . .
But as for me, I've come to know
everything that glitters is not gold.
Everything That Glitters, Dan Seals
"You are-" the director thumbs-ups her across the set, "-without a doubt - the Queen of Stunts. Everyone - Ellery Queen."
She gives him back a thumbs up, beaming the effusive director her most winning smile, and then she turns around and snakes her way towards the dressing room with her weave itching like crazy and her clothes soaked through with water.
And the sound stage is - of course - freezing. She's going to have hypothermia before she makes it outside. She has a new and terrible appreciation for that story her dad always told when they were kids, the one that she and her brother never could quite believe to be real, but it has to be. Even Mom confirmed it was a Beckett story.
Because now Ellery sees that her dad described it all too well. Freezing. She is absolutely freezing. It makes her bones feel fragile but as solid as steel - a strange combination.
She's soaked through because they've done water stunts all day. From four this morning when she showed up for hair and make-up until - Ellery checks her watch and groans - eight o'clock tonight. And that's getting out early for this week.
It was fun though. The huge tank, getting dunked repeatedly, pretending to kick her way out of a submerging car, saving the lead actor, the complicated underwater moves, the adrenaline rush. She's a junkie; she admits it.
Calculated risk. She's always loved it. Her dad says it's the Beckett in her, and her mom says it's the Castle. She doesn't care - the crazier, the better. Stunts have always done it for her.
The PA, Emily, catches up with her before she can quite make it out. "Ellery, sweetie, you did fabulous, as always. Perfect. You know, you're leading lady material. I don't know why you stick with stunts."
"I couldn't do stunts if I was lead," she says back automatically, the answer she always has for that throwaway line.
"You're gorgeous, you know. Those eyes would just pop on screen. Anyway, here's tomorrow's edits to the script. Here's the shooting schedule, and. . ."
Ellery takes the pages as she's given them, trying to keep them away from her wet clothes. The towel draped over her shoulders is soaked through as well, and she can't get the script wet or it'll fall apart. They're being so hush-hush about this episode.
"Oh, and you got a message. I didn't talk to the woman, someone else did." The PA hands her a bright pink While You Were Out message and Ellery closes her fingers around it, frowning. She doesn't have her phone on set, of course, but everyone knows her shooting schedule. Not like Nick would call her just to chat anyway.
"Thanks," she says absently, checking the message.
"Oh, you're shivering. Go, go, go. Don't let me keep you. I think the guys turned on the heater in your room."
"Oh, bliss," she moans and waves Emily off as she turns to go.
Ellery Castle - Ellery Queen to Hollywood - reads the message with growing concern as she hustles to the stunt trailer. She needs out of these clothes and the annoying weave off, but first-
First she has to call Shannon.
What's going on? And why wouldn't Dashiell just call her himself?
When Shannon answers, Ellery jumps right in. As usual. "Shannon? What's wrong? Is it my brother? Did something happen to Dad?"
"What? Oh, no, Ellery. Your brother and your dad are fine."
"Is it-" Ellery sinks back against the door, throat tight. "Mom? Is Mom-"
"No! Oh, God. I've really - I'm so sorry. No, everyone is fine. Alexis is fine, the kids, everyone. I swear. I was just trying to reach you."
"I got a message from the PA."
"The. . .okay. I don't know who that is, but I called your room mate and he gave me the number of the lot?"
Ha, she called Nick. Oops. "Yeah, yeah, the main line. I guess someone took a message and it sounded - most people call my phone."
"I did that."
"I was on set since four this morning."
Ellery pushes off the door and runs a hand through her hair but it catches in the weave. She's trying not to be frustrated with her family - or almost family. Close enough. Dad calls Shannon his third daughter anyway. And with Alexis's kids to contend with, Ellery being in LA - with Meredith no less - probably doesn't put her high up on her father's list.
"I'm really sorry," Shannon says calmly. "I called your phone last week too though, and I never heard back. And it's - ah - kind of important. To me, at least."
"I've been shooting this tv show," Ellery starts.
"Oh, yes. Your dad's been talking about it. Raving. Writer and his muse, right? Cop show."
"Yeah," she says quietly, chewing on her bottom lip as she tugs at the hair woven through her own; it's loose at one end and despite feeling like a drowned rat, Ellery can't help trying to get it out first, before doing anything else. "Dad's been talking about it?"
"Of course. We're all pretty excited. I mean, yeah, we've seen every movie you've done but this is somehow more - I guess because Dad's convinced it's based on him."
Dad. Shannon calls him Dad?
"Okay, anyway. I'm rambling. But. This weekend. Can you come?"
"To New York?"
"I. . .you didn't get my message at all? From last week?"
Did she? Ellery can't remember. She must have. Oh, actually, Nick checks a lot of her email, her messages, and fills her in when she doesn't have time - and her schedule has been so crazy. . .
"Um. Ellery? Can you make it?"
"This weekend. New York. Uh, hold on a sec." Ellery fumbles with the shooting schedule the PA just handed her and flops it down against the counter, refuses to look at herself in the well-lit make-up mirror. Drowned rat. She already knows.
She flips through the pages until she finds the schedule and lets out a low breath. "Yes. Awesome. Yes, I'm free this weekend. What's up?"
"Just - you know - most life-changing event ever."
"Oh, shit. Match Day," she moans, clapping a hand over her mouth. "Dash told me and I totally forgot. I'm a terrible sister."
"No," Shannon breathes out. "No, just farther away than we'd like. But - well, yes. That's it. Match Day."
But Ellery Castle has been working in Hollywood long enough to know there's more, that the stutter to Shannon's voice and the strain as she said that's it reveals more than anticipation and anxiety over where her brother is getting placed after med school.
There's excitement. Something is going on.
"So. . that's it, huh?" Ellery asks, glancing up and curling her nose at her reflection. "All right. I'll bite. This weekend. I'll fly in Friday afternoon."
"And keep it a secret? Don't tell your family."
Hmm, this is getting better and better. "Can do."
"Thanks, Ellery. Thank you."
Ellery opens her mouth to add, Oh, and I've got to bring Nick to meet the parents at some point and don't mention that either because I kinda forgot to tell anyone but Shannon has already ended the call.
Well, looks like it's time for Ellery Castle to go home.
The loft is always like this, at least as far back as Ellery can remember. Laughter, loudness, voices, things going on. But she's still out here, standing in the hallway. She even told Jorges not to buzz her up, and she would use her key, but now she can't take that last step.
She knocks instead.
The music of the room - all that laughter and brightness - only dims a little, and she can finally pick out the thread of her father's voice as it comes closer.
"Come on, Kate. Live a little. You'll love it; I swear."
And the door wrenches open, it's been warped by the years, and her father's face is in profile, that crooked half-smile directed towards the kitchen, and then his head turns to the hallway and to Ellery standing, breathless, waiting.
It's like a story. It always is.
He drops the dish towel and his face deepens into that brilliant, eye-crinkling, joyful smile as he reaches out and grabs her in for a back-breaking hug.
"Ella Kate," he gruffs out, eyes suspiciously wet through the grin, his grip so fierce. And then he turns a little, her still in his arms, and calls back to the kitchen. "Look, I found a cricket."
Ellery laughs and wraps her arms around him, buries her face in his neck. She's forgotten how tall she is, how he's not the big bear of her memory, swallowing her up in his arms, but he still can make her feel small and precious.
She breathes him in, the fresh hint of Italian spices and then his familiar, day-worn cologne, and she huffs a laugh as he squeezes tighter and picks her up off her feet, shaking her a little as they stand in the entry.
"Okay, my turn," Ellery hears and her father is dropping her back to the ground. She turns her head from the comfort of her dad's broad chest and sees her mother standing a few paces off, eyes warm, a hint of a smile, looking thinner than Ellery remembers but still stunning.
"Mama." The Croatian pops out of her, as it always does the moment she sees her mother.
"Castle, let her go," she chides and takes a step towards them. "Or at least let her breathe."
"No, not yet."
Ellery laughs and glances up at her father's happy face, feels his embrace across her shoulders, her spine popping as he lifts her up once more. "Dad. I'm here all weekend. Now let me go."
"You Becketts never want to hug-"
"I'm a Castle too," she murmurs, giving his cheek a soft kiss. "Drop me now and I'll dogpile later."
"How later is later?"
"I'm interrupting this hostage negotiation," her mom laughs, tugging on her father's arm and sending Ellery back to her feet. She turns and waits a moment, just a small hesitation, silly really, but her mother is already gathering her up, a hand cradling the back of Ellery's head, a kiss at her temple.
"Ella," her mother murmurs, and with such pleasure it tumbles right through her. "Hey, my baby girl."
Her heart clenches as her mother tightens the hug, and Ellery grips fistfuls of her mother's shirt, swallowing hard to keep it all down.
Her mother's kiss brushes over her ear. "Šta god da uradiš neće me natjerati da te prestanem voljeti."
Nothing you do can ever make me stop loving you.
And Ella has so needed to hear it.