Chapter Three:

A Matter of Memories, Abandonment & Items of Sentiment

"Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart."

Haruki Marakami

"Alexis! Time to wake up, it's time to go to Storybrooke!"

Up the second floor of the penthouse apartment, a young girl of sixteen groaned in her half sleep and curled herself up further into her nest of sheets and quilts. Alexis Harper Castle, nee Rogers, was no fan of morning wake ups as it was encrypted into every teenager within the world. Usually, the idea of a rose-scented bath to wake her up was enough to get her out of bed but the concept of her missing out on the last three weeks of class to go onto summer holidays hanging over her head, made her belly churn nervously.

Class exams were already over and right now, it was simply a three-week long wait for summer to finally come and Alexis was not sure if the three weeks of studying 24/7 was enough to get her the grades needed for her to enter university; something that her grandma Martha simply smiled charmingly at and told her that 'with a mind like yours, you simply can't fail, my dear!" (Martha always adored Tempy from the moment she walked in with three-year-old Alexis in front of her and Castle at her side. To Martha, Tempy could do no wrong and was, in her words, a mixture of practicality, wit, intelligence, spirit and some sense of beauty, something Castle blushed at when mentioned, that was universally desirable. Now days, Tempy's name hung in the air but was never spoken, having taken up the hole that she left behind).

"Sleeping Beauty…"

She could hear her father's voice let the last syllable continue on longer than it should, Alexis feeling a weight come on the bed and that light peck on her cheek. "Time to wake up, Alexis, we need to get going to Storybrooke."

"And where is this… Storybrooke place?" Alexis said tiredly, Castle giving another peck, this time on her forehead and sitting up at the side of her bed.

She sat up from the mess of her pink-starred and dark brown and orange background silk bed covers, Castle looking around the place with a cheerful air about him that fitted him perfectly like a tailor made suit. Looking at Alexis, she was certainly had her similarities with her past mother, Meredith; the brilliant hair of red that was a few shades away from being a bright and sunny orange, her round and intelligent-looking eyes of pastel green that always carried that look of brightness, her face that was (usually) free of acne and in the shape of a heart and that petite frame of 5'4 that came from her mother's height of 5'2.

Catching himself in the mirror, one could not deny that Castle's handsomeness, which had spread far and wide in all of New York, was genuine; Castle waggling his eyebrows at his reflection. There was the neatly combed back and perfectly groomed hair of black like that of coal, the smoldering dark eyes that always twinkled merrily, the usually fine-dressed shirt and trousers, the tall height of 6'1 that was what made up of Castle. None of Castle, except maybe his cleverness, could be seen in Alexis's looks. (But back in the old days, people would always ask if Tempy was Alexis's mother and looking at her, Castle could see why they would ask.)

"Maine," Castle replied, getting up and drawing away the curtains, "which is 11 hours away."

"How are we going to get there?"

"Um… friends." Castle decided not to tell Martha or Alexis about Brennan or her friends; he wanted to make it a pleasant surprise for his daughter and mother, seeing it had being three years since they last seen each other. In a way, Castle figured that Brennan could come to know them again and vice versa in Storybrooke, while Brennan reunited with Emma.

"Well…" Alexis said curiously, an eyebrow nestling close to her hair line, "how are these friends going to get us to Storybrooke?"

"One of Kate's friends, one of my past friends," Castle added, coming down to plunk himself on the side of Alexis's bed, "has hired a bus and we will be heading up the coast and to Boston, then make our way down to Storybrooke."

Alexis groaned and settled herself within her nest of pillows. "Who are these friends? People from the Precinct?" She asked softly, her eyelids opening and closing and more seconds going by with everytime her eyes closed before she opened them. Castle chuckled and, leaning over, gave her a small kiss on the tip of her nose, just like when she was little.

"Didn't you get any sleep?" Castle asked curiously, brushing away Alexis's fringe.

"Got caught up with a book," Alexis responded, sleep still found in her voice but instead, she raised herself up on one elbow and opened one tired eye at him. Looking at her bedside counter, the softcover of Scarlet in the Snow by Sophie Masson had glinted in the sunlight. And underneath, to some sense of excitement, Castle could see the hardcover of Bones are Forever underneath Sophie Masson's pages; a book written by Brennan.

"Didn't you," Castle said quizzically, "have to read Scarlet in the Snow as a assignment?"

"It was apart of my English assignment, fantasy and fairytale retelling genre, Dad. The teacher said I could keep it for the rest of the summer but I'd have to give it back when I came back to school," Alexis said.

"Did it have to do something with, I don't know, getting a A?" Castle mused.

"A+," Alexis cheekily said.

Castled kissed her on the head, Alexis laughing. God, she was so much like Tempy. "Get dressed and I'll get going on a bath," Castle promised, running out the room and making his way down the stairs. Sunlight streamed through the clouds, onto the busy and waking town of New York and through the windows of the penthouse apartment. Right now, New York was in the time of 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the only reason that Alexis was still asleep was because Castle didn't feel that it was necessary, especially since it was the beginning of holidays for her.

Heading down into his study room, a sleek travelling bag was at the door; Castle had prepared the night before and was soon expecting Kate, Esposito, Ryan and Lanie at his door within an hour or two. He told Martha and Alexis too, having sent an email to Henry and to Alexis's school about her early beginning to summer holidays, got his bags packed and also sent an email to Hodgins concerning the address of his apartment.

Seeing it was two, it would now only be 2 more hours until Brennan and her gang had drove into New York and made their way to their apartment. Walking into his office, bathed in the sunlight with its bright and rustic colors and sleek furniture, Castle made his way to his desk. And upon his desk, was that of a picture frame. Alexis, five years old, sitting happily in Brennan's lap with a large sunhat on top of her beautiful auburn locks and the background of Newport Pier and beach right behind the pair of them was kept immortal as a picture at Castle's desk, the desk would have being considered incomplete if it was not there.

Castle always took Brennan with him on holidays. Not from the very beginning, very much not. But after a year spent together, Castle offered to have Brennan come with him, Alexis and Martha to their holiday to Los Angeles and up to the Caribbean, the adventure presented in the picture bringing up memories. Picking up shells at the beach, riding the Ferris wheel, a competition between Brennan and him to how far they could swim, dancing in a fire celebration, the nights where Martha took Alexis out for a walk and Brennan and him were alone in their – his, he quickly reminded himself – holiday house…

He missed her. They all missed Brennan, their Tempy. (He could remember the night their perfectly made world fell apart, the night she said no. She made a flimsy excuse to get out of his apartment after what seemed like hours of fighting – "I need to go over bones, sorry, Richard" – and in a dash, she ran into the night and faraway. Alexis cried her heart out, Martha kept hugging him and Castle's heart was broken – scratch that, smashed to tiny bits. In eight phone conversations and two meetings, they agreed that they needed to build lives beyond each other, gain independence, break those eight years running. And in the blink of an eye, three years passed and Brennan's voice was on the other phone. And today, after three years passing, they were going to see each other again. Like nothing ever happened between the pair of them.)

"Dad? Is everything alright?"

Castle spun around and at the doorway, Alexis stood there in her nightgown and long leggings, clutching her old stuffed rabbit to the chest. "Um," Castle said, "everything's okay, I was just…"

Alexis's eyes trickled over to the picture frame, her face paling, becoming a little greyer. She looked up at her Dad, a small frown on her cheek. Upon her neck, that necklace still hung; a miniature rose in a glass vial that hung upon a silver chain, Castle's heart aching at the sight of it, his mind slipping back a few years…

(…12-year-old Alexis hugged Tempy, beautiful laughter escaping from the anthropologist's lips as Castle took a quick snapshot of them and the birthday presents that surrounded them. "You see," Tempy explained, "roses are flowers that have many meanings over the years. Some mean love, some unity, some mean timelessness and eternity." Putting the necklace around her neck, Tempy looked Alexis in the eye with a teary smile. "My love for you is timeless, Alexis. Always remember that." Alexis hugged Tempy and Castle glomped the pair of them into a group hug, Alexis soon breaking away so she could have another slice of cake...)

Castle sighed. He always knew that Brennan was not an emotional woman; like her middle name, Brennan had ruled herself with empirical perfectness and logic. But, love always brought out a thousand different sides to someone, as all of us would know. (But sometimes, love is not eternal, sadly). "So," Castle said, in a brighter tone, hoping to switch the mood for something brighter, "morning bath, right?"

Alexis put on a small smile, deciding to look away from the picture and to her father, "Yep. Where's Grandma?"

"Out shopping with friends, as always," Castle said, chuckling at the end of his sentence. "I'll can run the bath and you can grab whatever bath salts you want."

Alexis nodded and ran off, Castle sighing. Grabbing the phone, Castle dialed down the number of Brennan's mobile (one thing that he always remembered, when sometimes he would go on wild searches for his keys and socks when the keys were in his back pocket and socks at the very bottom of the bed) all making his way up the stairs and to the bathroom.

Right below him, Martha Cherise Castle glided through the entrance, her red hair blazing, hazel eyes hidden behind a dark, round and cherry-red sunglasses and on every slender arm, was there three or four shopping bags linked on her arm. Castle winced at the sight that his imagination gave to him, of the sight of the bill at the end of the week. "So, mother," Richard asked nicely, "How was the shopping trip?"

"Oh, fine, fine darling," Martha said in her charmed voice, resembling that like a voice that would belong to a actress in vintage Hollywood, "perfectly well, Richard. My friend Gretchen and I figured that we could make up our lost time and,"

"- Rack up the number of zeros on my credit card bill?" Castle added with a smirk.

With a little hand wave, Martha gave him a cheeky glare. "There is nothing wrong with wanting to catch up friends, much like you want to do. And besides," Martha added, "I heard that the Broadway show of Cinderella is coming back to New York and I wondered if I could arrange a few tickets for after this… holiday of yours?"

"Um, alright," Castle said off handedly, "just have to run Alexis's bath and make a phone call."

"To Kate?" Martha asked slyly, heading up the stairs and up where he stood, a small smirk playing at her lipstick-layered lips. Castle nly rolled his eyes and looked at her, Martha still bemused.

"No, not Kate," Castle said, "just a old friend." He said the last words softly, a quizzical expresson dawning on Martha's face.

"All well, make the call, whatever suits you. But anyway, I heard a small piece of trivia behind Cinderella, truly interesting, something to do with…"

Martha's voice floated and bounced off the hallway of the upstairs level of the penthouse, now in search of her granddaughter. Sighing in relief, he quickly fast-walked to the bathroom and pressing the dial button, held the phone to his ear. "Hey, Tempy?"

"Strawberry ice cream with chocolate sauce, coming up!"

The smell of cooking grease, air freshener and food had spun around the diner room, Hodgins going over the orders from what his four friends would have liked. "So," Hodgins said clearly, "three sodas, one water and one orange juice, a large package of donuts and one ice cream?"

"Yep, the donuts for me," Booth cheekily said, flipping his shades off his eyes, a small twinkle found in his eyes. Hodgin's glowered at him, shaking his head.

"Let's remember that the donuts are for everybody," Hodgins said to Booth, a small-amused smile seen on his face. Heading up to the counter, Hodgins made his order, Brennan more occupied by the book she had brought along for the road trip up to Storybrooke. And no matter what, Brennan still found that her hands kept shaking. The group decided to make a small, five-minute pit stop in New Brunswick, seeing there was one more hour until they could reach Castle's apartment, merely stopping for snacks. They agreed that they would stop for half in hour somewhere in Boston before heading down to Storybrooke, the implications being that it would be four hours and eleven at night when they got into the town and the fact that no one, besides Cam, knew the members of the Precinct. Brennan seen it as a opportunity for everyone else to settle with each other, seeing they were all staying in Storybrooke for the three months.

"Hey, Bren, you alright?" Angela looked up from her shades, applying another layer of tanning cream to her hazel-brown skin. Brennan grimaced, using her right finger as a bookmark and closing the novel. Brennan was only reading the Lovely Bones as a guilty delight, seeing the laughable use of prose and the ridiculous themes of an afterlife. She almost got into an argument with Booth over his religion, Roman Catholicism, again in the car concerning the means of the concept of heaven, hell and purgatory with Hodgins, Angela and Cam as equally snarky audience members to the debate.

"Um, yes, Angela. Why do you ask?" Brennan asked.

"Because of the fact that you're shaking like a leaf, you look like a ghost,"

" – I have a natural pale complexion, Angela, you know that." Evidence was the massive sunburn she got when she and Angela were holidaying in the Caribbean that took a whole day of taking a milk bath could only sooth.

" – Besides that, sweetie, you look nervous." Angela frowned, her face soft. "This is about seeing Alexis and Emma again, isn't it?"

Brennan looked at her, her eyes suddenly going steely, Angela recognizing that look in that little spilt second. That look when a question was a blow and Brennan was putting up her walls of iron and ice. "It's being some time since I last seen them but," Brennan curtly said, "that does not mean that I'm worried over meeting them." Angela quietly and pleasantly nodded.

"Well, besides of New York," Angela asked, "what's going on between you and Castle?" Dear God, Angela wanted to ask that question for so long. A small luscious smile played at her lips, her eyes glittering with glee. It was obvious the pair had a history together, like, the pair of them knew each other from when Brennan was 19!

Brennan went red with embarrassment at Angela's smile and glittery eyes. She could instantly tell what Angela was thinking, like how she could have age of person in their skull and their height in their femur bones. "Ang…"

"Something happened!" Angela giggled, nodding her vigorously. The look in Brennan's eyes, which was directed at Angela, would have perfectly suited the face of the Snow Queen from Danish fairytale. Clearly Cam noticed because she swerved around, her summer dress fluttering around her. Warm red with a black belt around the invisible waistline, it had its clean and modern cuts and slender silhouette that were the signatures to Cam's dresses that she wore to work; clean, modern, beautiful but highly professional. Brennan figured on the other hand she could rock out to Storybrooke in a simple pair of jeans, a button-up shirt, a denim jacket of worn blue and some sneakers. Unusually casual, but, as Brennan reasoned it, eleven hours would be spent in a car with few breaks so far now, she preferred comfort to beauty. (Brennan wondered what Emma would look like.)

"What happened, precisely," Cam asked coolly, looking at the pair not too far off from how a teacher would look at a pair of naughty preschoolers. Often, that look was more often directed at Hodgins than at Brennan and Angela (and once upon a time, at Zack too.)

"I was just asking Brennan about her boyfriend in New – "

" – He's not my boyfriend, Angela!" Brennan exclaimed.

"Who?" Booth asked, not having a clue in the slightest. Dressed in a simple shirt of black, some running shoes and jeans, there was no denying that Booth was handsome. But right now, from the look of his face, he looked like a lost puppy.

"Richard," Brennan answered in a highly annoyed tone, "Richard Castle."

Brennan's phone went off, as if fate was listening to the conversation and decided it would be a funny time for Castle to call when Brennan was talking about (well, more distract away from) Castle. And apparently fate also thought it was a time to pull on Booth's strings, considering the searing glare he gave to the phone, the phone deciding to ignore him and continue on ringing.

Brennan huffed. "One minute. Probably from Castle."

Angela did one little catcall and Cam snickered to herself, the snicker having turned to a laugh with – what seemed too much like jealousy – on Booth's face. And Brennan shrugged, turning around and making her way to an empty booth. "Jealous, Booth?" Angela asked.

Booth looked at her, incredulous. "Me? Jealous of Castle? Pfft, no way."

"Yes way," Angela rebuffed, Cam looking at her and Booth with raised eyebrows.

"Okay, children, calm down," Cam said. Booth noticed that Cam was inches close to going back to snickering, huffing to himself. Clearly Angela had less restraint because she began laughing again once more. Booth merely hunched up his shoulders and went straight up to the booth with Hodgins. Seeing his grouchy face, Hodgins quickly turned around. 'What the hell did you do to make him unhappy?' was what his face asked. But all it took was for a small shake of Cam's head for Hodgins to shrug, give a small and hidden smirk and pay his attention back to the counter.

"So," Cam said interestingly, "…. Richard Castle's called?"

"If I'm right, by the look of her face," – Angela let her right hip stick out lazily and smirked – ", yep."

Cam suddenly had a small moment of thought to herself, folding her arms over her chest. "Angela, what if Henry is lying?"

"About Henry being Brennan's adopted nephew and his mom being Brennan's sister?" Angela asked, gawking. That would kill Brennan if that was the case and Angela would kill Henry if it was found that he was actually lying about the whole thing. As her friend since Brennan was 21, one of the essential facts about Temperance Brennan was that the past was a delicate thing best avoided through any mentions.

"No! No, no," Cam said, quickly shaking her head, "I mean about the skeleton, the corpse."

Angela's shoulders relaxed, her face quizzical. "What makes you think that?"

"Almost a decade of service in the New York Police Department, interviewing suspects and basically training myself to be a lie detector." Cam looked at her seriously. "I know he's not lying about this Emma person; he knew too much about Brennan's past. But about the dead body?"

"Well," Angela asked, smoothing back her hair, "Why would he lie about that?"

"So we had a professional, not a personal, reason to come over, perhaps? I don't really know." Cam looked through her bag, looking through for her fan before suddenly spying Angela's language. A hot pink that left a scorch mark of the same color behind people's eyelids, one zipper was open. And from looking closer, Cam could see the DVD's of the Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty in the bag, along with a large and strangely secure box labeled Disney Trivia Pursuit.

And looking up, it was clear that Angela seen Cam's astonished and somewhat amused look, cringing visibly. "Why is there Disney movies and a Disney board game in your suitcase?" Cam coolly asked.

"Memories." Angela shrugged, kneeling down and zipping the bag up. "When my Dad and Mom were travelling around on their band tours, I came with them and in the trailer," Angela explained, dark hair falling in front of her face as she zipped it up, "and there would be other kids from the other band members. So, Mom would buy me and the other kids Disney movies to watch while our dads and moms were out on concerts. I gotten the Disney Trivia board game when I first entered college, you know…"

Cam noted the sentence that ran off, joining the dots together. Angela usually never discussed her mother, ever; all that Cam knew was Angela's mothers name (Cuifen), the fact that she was Chinese and that now, Billy Gibbons was a widower for several years. "Did you ever had anything from your past?" Angela asked suddenly, standing up and brushing down her jeans, "I mean like, something from when you were younger?"

Cam twirled the necklace she wore, as if it was a response. A pendant of blue topaz linked upon a chain of rose-gold, her mother Liza claimed that it was a family relic of her maternal family line, the Beauforts, straight down from her great-great-grandmother that came out of a loving marriage; once just a gesture of love and now a passed down relic of familial courage from mother to daughter. (She could still remember that night. The night when her Dad received the call that his wife of 25 years wasn't going to be coming home. The night that when she drove almost miles on the highway to stay with her father, the coldening of the air and the sweet sound of her mother's voice awaked 23-year-old Cam in her old childhood bedroom. That night where a gentle hand lead her to a cupboard where a necklace lay hidden in folded clothes, only for a ghost to fade away into the spring chill and air.)

Angela looked over at Brennan, clearly focused on her conversation with Castle. "Do you think… Brenann has anything from her sister? Kind of like us?"

Kind of like us. Girls left behind by loved ones, be it for better lives or through twists of fate or lives that were cut short. Cam could only think back to the Disney Princesses that Disney created. Ariel lost her mom when she was little. Tiana lost her father to what seemed like stress or a war. And Cinderella had a misfortune of losing both her mother and father. People after that always seemed to make the mistake that life within a world of Disney was a world that was eternally beautiful and carefree. And yet in those moments, Cam pondered to herself cynically, that only proved how even in a world of magic could things still be broken. Be it glass slippers or spells or hearts.

"I'm not too sure. For now, I just want to focus on this body of ours," Cam answered, watching Brennan make her way out of the diner and hold out the glass door for another to come in.

Leroy Peterson nodded in thanks to Emma as she held the diner door open for Leroy to come in as the woman went out, the summer wind blowing at her hair pleasantly while she huffed the fringe out of her eyes. Yellow files in her hand and open in her arms to read while a take-out hot chocolate was settled perfectly in her other hand, Emma had a full night on her hands and she already called Mary-Margaret that she wouldn't be in until 9 at night. There is was already enough cases, which had the whole police department of Storybrooke full, and she had her first case.

Emma Ruth Leopolda Swan was a beautiful woman; made men talk easier, in her cynical opinion. There was the pale skin from having spent inside (she was not the only one that got burned easily), the green eyes tinged with silver that always held that sense of carefulness, the body made slim from frequent visits to the gym and self defense classes with a height of 5 feet and 5 inches to help defense-wise, the hair of golden blonde always curled around her face but either swept into a ponytail or allowed loose around her shoulders.

Emma always found that trouble and beauty went well together; if you were pretty, apparently that was an unofficial yes to assholes when it came to advances. Emma would always be quick to show them else (much like her older sister). She could only wonder if a case like this, an attempted rape gone wrong, that caused the case that she received last night.

A heavily decomposed body was found in the garden of a house in the downtown section of Storybrooke, having being there from what autopsy reports said, around a week. The neighbors had went over after smelling the body decomposing from the heat and Mrs. Scarlett nearly had a heart attack when she discovered the rotting body. So, that was one thing that Henry was not lying about at all.

Her mind suddenly went to Henry, her little son still in school and was going to be there for one more hour. She could remember the times where Henry sneaked over to Mary-Margaret's apartment, the times where Emma caught herself talking about the case while Henry was listening. For now, she could only hope every night that Henry did receive nightmares over the case, seeing his visits would only be discovered by Regina Mills. Honestly, what did she have against her?

Before she knew it, Pink sang out Funhouse on Emma's phone on full blast, Emma taking a grateful sip of her hot chocolate before placing it on the tables outside, properly positioning the papers in her arms and grabbing her phone.

"Yep, Graham over there?"

"Good guessing." An Irish accent spoke on the other side, Emma pulling her leather jacket around her as the wind blew just a little harder.

"So," Emma said quickly, "what do we have over the Jane Doe case? Got an idea about the identity of our victim?"

Graham huffed on the other side of phone. "Let's just that the forensics department sucks and leave it at that. We haven't got a ID or cause, be it accidental or murder, yet so instead, I' submitting it to the hospital and to Nurse Andersen."

Emma gapped. "The forensics department is so bad that you have to go to a nurse to get it solved."

"She's got forensic training and she's exceptionally capable from what I know. Went to Trinity College, very trustworthy."

Emma simply huffed and got her hot chocolate, making her way to the yellow car. "What about Sidney Glass? Has he came up?"

"The case's tight safe until we get more details and whether this was accidental or not," Graham reassured. "How was Ruby over there?"

Emma's eyebrows came together in a puzzled line. Graham was usually a man to keep to business and cases but, he always came over to Granny's for his usual brownie slice and for Emma's bear paw every Friday and night shift that the pair had. Ever since Emma helped Graham recover David Nolan after his disappearance, she received the position of deputy which she had taken on immediately. Only for Henry's sake, she always told herself (magic binding the young princess to the town), only for him (not for Mary-Margaret or for Archie or for Graham or for that simple wanting of not wanting to drift anymore, to bind herself to somewhere. To build herself a second home). "She's okay. She's hounded by her grandma again."

A laugh escaped from the other side of the phone. "All right. You're heading over to the station?"

"Yep." Emma wished she wasn't. She almost had to fight every cell in her body to drive over to Henry's school and take him to the diner (…Matthew would always do the same. Every Friday, Matthew Brennan would pick her and Temperance up from school and drive them to the Hum Bug, a sweet and ice-cream parlor. They'd sit at the window right next to the lake where Emma could watch the swans and eat at her strawberry ice cream and hot chocolate while chattering to Matthew. At one point, on her 10th birthday, Temperance bought her a necklace of a swan and Matthew told her about the story of the Ugly Duckling…)

Emma forced the memory out of her mind. Sentimentality wouldn't help her out, be it having Henry or about dead bodies. That didn't stop her mind from offhandedly reaching out for the necklace on her neck, hidden by her leather jacket and golden curls, feeling the cold metal and the meld of the swan imprint on the copper. (It was exactly the same like her keychain. He must have seen it and decided to get her a matching keychain. She could only hate and love him, a blending of emotions that only felt cold and distant in her mind, far from her chest).She was nearly tempted to throw away the thing after a year or two after the incident, as she apathetically called it. But every time, every singly bloody time, she always back for it, like a child for its beloved teddy bear or blanket. Damn it.

"See you over there, Emma," Graham warmly said. "And keep wearing your windshield."

"Heard ya." A press of the button and there was that tell-tale beep and somewhere, far away, Graham would have known that the call was over. The wind brushed at her back, as if urging her to get a move on. Emma merely chattered her teeth in response and got a move on into the car. Settling her hot chocolate on her opposite, placing the files beside it to make friends in the time being, Emma looked into the compartment and grabbed out the massive map and folded it out. In a film, the way the map covered her face would have made her out to be some nut-job stalker or a spy.

What nobody knew was that Storybrooke was in fact a very massive town. Population of 3000, founded in 1961 by town history on the Storybrooke official website, just a one or two more hundreds into being a small city. A rushing river went right through it and up to the forests that surrounded the town and heralded all comers into Storybrooke, as a bright-blue sea came at another district of the town. Downtown Storybrooke was a place of where the rushing river flowed right through with cobbled streets and bricked bridges that were flowing with climbing ivy and flowers, with the narrow streets being the home to cozy shops and cafes and cobbled narrow streets, the whole of Storybrooke a glittering place that was a few hidden mickeys, singing mice and birds and people in costumes from being Main Street U.S.A.

Storybrooke Police Headquarters was on Jakob Avenue, branching close to downtown Storybrooke and just a drive away from Main Street, the street tourists would drive into when coming into the town. For Emma, all it would take is around 15 minutes. A body would be waiting for her.

Grabbing her keys, the swan exactly like the one that hung lazily around her neck, Emma turned the keys and with a growl of the engine, the yellow bug made its cruise against the wave of angry gusts and towards to work. All she could think of was her need for help. The forensic department could do with some summer workers, Emma thought, the department could afford a few temporary officers at hand, Henry and Brennan – why Emma was thinking of her, she did not know – swirling in her mind as one hand handled the stirring wheel and another's fingers rubbed at the metal pendant, as if searching for luck.

Oh, how she didn't know.

"Right, see you there, bye Tempy."


Castle almost dropped the phone, his face wide open with shock and almost spewed a foul word when Martha's voice unexpectedly came from right behind him. Her face white, a combination of shock and curiosity and even a tint of sorrow, her hair freshly brushed for what seemed like the 3rd time that day. Not far, just a door away, the smell of a garden of roses swirled from the inch-open door along with that occasional flick of a turning page, Alexis having her morning bath.

"Um…" For once, the writer who wrote several New York bestsellers was lost for words. A silent – and ashamed – yes.

"Temperance?!" Martha said, her whisper more closer to a stage whisper from how loud it was. Castle heard the swish of bathwater, her heart pattering, wishing to God that Alexis didn't hear what her grandmother said. "We are going on a holiday with that woman?" Martha continued on, the whiteness in her face turning to a growing shade of what would be considered anger, if it was a color. "After three years, after she broke your heart, after she abandoned us, you are going to go on a holiday to some strange town in the middle of nowhere, with that - "

Before Martha could refer to her name – or judging by her voice, refer to much more fouler replacing words for the anthropologists name – Castle swiftly swept Martha to a less hearable place, down the staircase with a cautioning finger on his pursed lips. "Mother," Castle said once he safely got her into the kitchen, far from where Alexis's ears could listen, "she's still a friend of mine who – "

"Hasn't called you in three years, never checked up on her "daughter" Alexis after she broke your heart?" Martha furiously whispered, pointing upstairs to where her granddaughter innocently bathed without a clue to what was coming to her.

Castle winced but suddenly screwed his face up in frustration from his last words. "As you said," he argued, "it was three years. The pair of us agreed to separate for some time, to focus on our own lives, away from each other. We agreed on it; she didn't just leave us the middle of the bloom, as you're making it sound!" Castle reminded her, Martha's eyes sharpening at the last words.

"But three years ago, you were together for almost a decade. And then, that happened, and after everything the pair of you went through together, she left you in the dust and left Alexis, who she considered her actual mother, all when you – "

"I know." Castle's insides felt as if they were made ice and lead, his heart heavy with pressing memories (He spent so much time. The candles, the fancy dinner – Apple pie and gravy-drizzled chicken, Tempy's favorite – the words he spent days over. And all for nothing. If he never asked, would she have stayed? But they knew better). "But she had her reasons."

"Emma, in other words." Martha's voice was coldness personified. More of a statement, which was rock solid, rather than a question Castle brushed his hand tiredly against his face while Martha huffed to herself.

"Richard," Martha said sternly, "the past is the past. You need to forget about her and her coming up, with her friends, is only going to hurt Alexis – how do you think Alexis is going to react when she comes up at the front door and realizes she's going to spend three months with the same woman, who nearly spent a decade raising her, abandoned her?"

But she still wears her necklace, Castle argued silently. That had to mean something, some prove of a ember of lingering love for Tempy. She still kept it, when she had so many chances to get rid of it. Wore it everyday, everywhere, except for when she had her showers and baths. "That's why I did this. We gotten lives away from each other, now… the pair of us decided, we just try and see each other. Except, now as friends."

"Hmm-hmm." Completely unconvinced, Martha moved to the other side of the counter, heading over to the coffee machine. "That doesn't mean that you can make Alexis see her as less." Martha's eyes suddenly softened, the sunlight illuminating what seemed like pity. "Richard, are you sure there's nothing else... influencing you into seeing her again?"

Love, in much less elaborate words, as Castle solved in one second. "No," Castle said at once, firm and yet, a taint of more hidden behind that one word.


"Castle, open up! We're here!"

Knocking accompanied those two responses at the door. First was Beckett and besides that, that accented voice Esposito. Before Martha could add another word, Castle nodded to emphasize his last word and quickly made his way to the door, whistling under his breath. "Coming over!"

And opening the door, Beckett gracefully made her way in with a rolling suitcase, one single and pretty – but practical, completely Beckett – suitcase. Esposito also came in, smiling and nodding – "Morning, Mrs. Castle!" – with a army bag slinged over his shoulder. It was Ryan who Castle had more of a problem with, because minutes later Castle came struggling in with what seem like a suitcase made to hold Dumbo from the sheer size of it all while Ryan came strolling in with a roll-in suitcase.

He looked up, lost in thought; ever since the past few weeks, he was always lost in thought. "Three months!" Ryan exclaimed at Martha's expression of surprise. Beckett snickered and Castle made a laugh that sounded more like a groan from a stitch in his side.

"So," Beckett mused, "they'll be in around half-an-hour?"

"Yep," Castle replied.

And what a joy that will be, Martha could only bitterly think, determined to drown herself in coffee and enjoy that golden remaining time of peace before the bombshell was dropped. And yet, Martha could only muse on that 'no' her son gave to her. The firmness and yet what was left unsaid and all the love and memories and sentiment found deep and dark within that one word of denial, to not only to her but most of all, to Castle himself.

Author Note:

Guys, I am so sorry, but I was caught up with exams and a bout of writers block. I was also planning some characters and the world within the Ever Ever After Chronicles so yeah, there was that. Now about Storybrooke, I realized that Regina always said that Storybrooke was larger than what it was so I decided to build on it. In my mind, Storybrooke is much a combination of Main Street U.S.A, the Irish town of Sligo where my family members came to, to Joondalup in Australia where I live and of course, the town of which OUAT films Storybrooke upon.

I should also note to you guys, in the canon of the Ever Ever After Chronicles, there is no Ashley Boyd but, there is another Boyd wandering around the place. I was so disappointed in how they portrayed Cinderella (truly, she was thoughtless and selfish and always was whiney) so, I've decided to portray her differently. But, her book or 'episode' is yet to come up but in time, it will! I'm making a Tumblr website for all the characters of the Ever Ever After Chronicles where you can look at character profiles and stories, so I'm working on that as well! Love you all very much and I'm on the next chapter as well!

Niamh McConnell