Kate's not crazy about the set-up for Rick's interview with Jasmine Regidor. Even with the small table between them, their knees are almost touching. However, on the monitor, the distance looks normal—just one of the confounding things about television. As often happens, Lily's eyes are riveted on her father, even as her fists are tightly grasping Gamoee's obnoxious fur.
Jasmine smiles as the producer's fingers count down. She begins without hesitation as he points at her. "Today I'm here with best-selling author Richard Castle, known affectionately by Twitter's trivia buffs as 'Recollection Rick.'" She turns to Castle. "May I call you Rick?"
"I hope so." Rick wiggles his eyebrows. "When someone calls me Richard, I'm usually in trouble."
"Rick it is. So, Rick, you have a story to share, unlike any in your books. But before we get to that, tell me how you beat Ken Cornbloom and Buffy Manfred to become the Recollection Grand Champion. Quizzer challengers have been trying to dethrone those two for years. How did someone from outside the trivia competition arena manage it?"
"Jasmine, to explain that, I need to give a shout out to the New York Public Library. As the son of a single mother…"
"Veteran actor Martha Rodgers," Jasmine interrupts.
"Yes, although I'm not sure how Mother would feel about the 'veteran' designation. I suspect she'd prefer 'accomplished.' However, while I was a kid, during her many hours paying her show business dues, I spent a lot of time in the stacks. Often the library seemed more like home than the various apartments Mother subleased between tours. Through some genetic accident, I'm a fast reader and have a pretty good memory."
"Very good, from your performance on Recollection," Jasmine comments.
"It got me through. Also, I crammed a lot for the show. And I've always loved some of the weirder history of comic books. That got me through the final category. I started collecting in the eighties when new issues were 40 cents. And when I was older and lucky enough to have the money, I went after Gold and Silver Age editions. But I never would have made it to the finish line without Dana Wygard, who aimed me toward the esoteric bits of science I needed to keep me afloat between movie lore and obscure literary figures. And Dana is an essential part of the real story I'm here to tell you today."
Jasmine nods. "All right, Rick, let's get on to that story, then."
"My daughter Alexis, a recent and very unwilling target of erroneous reporting, has a fascination with forensics. The aforementioned Dana Wygard, who is the winner of the Lee Award, has a similar passion. The stars aligned just enough for them to pursue it together. They were looking for new and accurate hair analysis methods to replace the discredited ones recently tossed out by the courts. But they found something they weren't expecting – evidence of a far-reaching crime. Employing the tools available to him as the CEO of the SQUZ Group, the perpetrator of this villainy is one Palmer Chase.
"You may remember from your student days, and I certainly do, that each penny counts. And for many Americans, that is true every day of their lives. The people with the least are those that Chase chose to exploit the most. He shipped millions of products produced overseas under disgraceful conditions to stores that put them into hands that couldn't afford better. Poisoning would creep upon the purchasers too slowly for detection until it was too late – except that Alexis and Dana, with sage guidance from brilliant professor Francis Gilly, did detect the poison.
"As you might expect, they wanted to shout it to the world, but Palmer Chase fought back, accusing the forensic heroes of manufactured infamy. I'm proud to say that fighting back involved my family, friends, and like most good crime stories, a confidential informant or two. Palmer Chase is now safely constrained by the bonds of litigation. He will receive no more ill-gotten gains. Further shipments of his dangerous wares to retail outlets are at a halt, and the ones already there are being cleared from the shelves. Any recovered monies will go to his victims. The U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York has also taken an interest in Chase. Those wheels of justice will continue to grind."
"Are we going to see hints of this tale in an upcoming book?" Jasmine inquires.
"Actually, my rendition of the true crime story will be serialized in The Ledger and available in the online edition. Since the paper was tricked into putting out the original false accusation against Alexis, Dana, and Professor Gilly, publishing the truth is a redemption of sorts."
"And I believe Craig Daniels has some connection to the story as well," Jasmine prompts.
"That is true," Rick confirms. "I mentioned that Dana Wygard won the Lee Award. The news has been embargoed until now, but Craig will be playing a Leeish character in an upcoming movie."
"And Craig is also rumored to be keeping company with the indomitable Martha Rodgers," Jasmine adds.
Rick's eyes harden. "I believe that Mother and Mr. Daniels are quite capable of giving their own interviews. Actually, she's given me a few pointers over the years. Shall I tell her to have her agent expect your call?"
Jasmine's smile leaves her eyes. "I'll have our staff look into it. And I think that's about all we have time for. Look for Rick's story in The Ledger, coming out…"
"Next week," Rick inserts.
"And Access New York will be right back," Jasmine finishes.
"That was sneaky, Rick," Jasmine chastises as a commercial rolls.
"No, asking me about Mother's private life was sneaky, Jasmine," Rick retorts. "But she does give a wonderful interview. I suspect you know that. If you ask his people nicely enough, Craig might even turn up. You never know. But never expect to pull scoops on my family's personal business out of me. Now, I see my younger daughter wants a Daddy hug. Family is everything, Jasmine. It might help you to remember that. Have a good night."
"What was that about?" Kate asks.
Rick lifts Lily into his arms. "A little education of the media. We put out one fire. We don't need another one. And I've had enough time in front of the camera for now, too."
"Ready to go home?" Kate asks.
"More than ready."
Alexis plops down next to Dana on the bed in his apartment and intertwines her fingers with his. "I like the new lab equipment. It was great that Recollection came across with the money Dad won so quickly. He thought it was going to take a lot longer, but I think Mr. Beckett sweet-talked them a little."
"Uh-huh, I guess it wouldn't look good to hold up money headed to a charity, especially after editing out our plug." Dana pulls her close. "I wish you could stay."
"I wish I could too, even if your hot water is out again. But I need to study, and you know how my Dad is. If I don't come home, he'll want to come charging up here after me."
"I told him we're not sleeping together, Alexis. Well, sometimes sleeping, as in closing your eyes and losing consciousness, but not going all the way, much as I'd like to."
"Me too. But I made him a promise. It only lasts until I'm 18 and out of high school. That's less than a year. It just seems like forever."
Dana nuzzles her hair. "It sure does."
A/N So, that was Rick's foray into the trivia gameshow world. I hope you enjoyed it. The next story will continue in the same AU. It will be called "Couples." We have a lot of them: Rick and Kate, Alexis and Dana, Martha and Craig, Lana and Eli, Holly and Mark, Kevin and Jenny, and Lanie and Lorne. Let's have some fun! Also, RIP, Alex Trebek. His first name was George. He was a great host and human being. He'll be missed. Thanks to all of you for hanging around with me. Love, Sally