Writer's note: I'm burned out on fluff, so a serious piece for now. I don't write much serious stuff and Castle never gets very serious anyway, so feedback on how this turned out would be great.
Summary: From Castle's analysis (in the pilot) of how Beckett came to be a cop, it didn't seem to me like Beckett would've been the type to read Castle's books. So how did Castle's books come to help Beckett cope with her mother's death? one-shot flashback
Kate stood in the foyer of the 3-story house near the country where her parents lived. Correction: where her father lived now. Alone.
She squeezed her eyes shut, promising herself she was going to hold it together. It had been 3 weeks since the funeral and, according to their grief counselor, it was now time to move on. Dwelling on it and thinking about it and her and the way they found her and all the horrificness of it all was too unhealthy and too much to bear anymore.
They'd agreed that today would be the day they would finally pack up all of Johanna Beckett's things and move them out of the house that her parents had shared for 40-something years, the house Kate Beckett had grown up in. Some things they would keep - most likely in the attic or someplace else where they wouldn't come upon them and cry while reminiscing about happier times. Some things they would give away to relatives or to charity. Some they might even throw out.
Whatever it took, it needed to be done. Even if it was hard or painful or it would take them a few drinks to do it.
"You're not removing all signs of your mother from your house or your life," the counselor had very gently insisted to Kate in one of their individual sessions. "You're finding a better place for them to be. There'll always be a place for them in your life, just like there'll always be a place for her in your life. Her being gone doesn't change that, Kate."
"Hi, dad." Kate reached out and gave her father a one-armed hug as she juggled the flat cardboard boxes in her arms. Jake Beckett nodded solemnly. He'd seemed to have aged since the funeral, and looked like he had lost weight. Kate tried remembering when her father, usually so full of laughter and stories and life, had been that quiet. She couldn't recall.
"Hello, dear." He gestured to the boxes. "I got some, too, from the moving company." He paused. "It's early. Why don't we have breakfast first and-"
"I grabbed some toast on the way home," Kate interrupted. "We should go ahead and get started. I need to head back to school first thing Monday morning." She looked away.
Jake stood quiet for a moment, giving his daughter a worried glance. "Kate...you don't have to be here, you know, I can call Charlie or someone else to help-"
"Dad, you can't pack up so much stuff by yourself."
"I just don't think we both have to do this-"
"Well, I do," said Kate a little more forcefully than she'd intended. She looked down, embarrassed at her tone but Jake looked sad, not hurt. "You heard what the counselor said, dad. We both need to do this, and we both need to be here, get it over with. The sooner, the better."
Her father sighed resignedly and headed toward the kitchen. "Are you sure you don't want something to eat first?"
"I'm okay, thanks." She grabbed one of the boxes and the tape dispenser and started assembling the boxes she'd brought. She looked up to ask if he needed a hand when suddenly she realized he was heading toward the wetbar, not the kitchen. She stared as he poured himself a glass of scotch.
Jacob Beckett wasn't unusually quiet this morning, but intoxicated. At 7:45 in the morning, no less.
Kate stood for a second, her mind wandering. She remembered back when she'd been about 16 how her mother had pulled her into her room one night and sternly asked if Kate had been drinking, who she'd been drinking with, what, when, where, why, the usual parental stuff. It hadn't made sense to her first until Johanna had admitted to her daughter that Jake Beckett had had a drinking problem several years ago, around the time her parents had met in college. A fairly serious drinking problem at that.
"He's recovered now," Johanna hastily assured Kate. "But I still worry about him sometimes. I guess it's natural. I don't want to worry about you, too."
Kate glanced warily at her father as he downed the scotch in one gulp and poured himself another. Apparently, worrying about her father's constant drinking of late was something her mother would've had good reason to worry about. If she were still here.
Realizing she couldn't stand there and watch him much longer without saying something to him about it, Kate grabbed a couple of the largest assembled boxes and headed toward the first floor study. "I'm going to start in there."
"Okay," said Jake. "I'll let you know when it's lunchtime."
Kate walked into the study and places the boxes on the floor, not exactly knowing where to start. The place, while not a mess, was so full of stuff; it had never made sense to Kate how her mother could be an organized neat freak and a sentimental packrat at the same time. It seemed like every single inch had something or other in it or on it. Paintings and artwork covered most of the walls, some her father's favorite abstracts, some her mother's Monets. Books, knicknacks, assorted odds and ends filled the room - figurines and small sculptures, her mother's fountain pen and Faberge egg collections, all kinds of stuff, all of which Kate hadn't thought much of while her mother was alive. Except for the occasional thought of how exactly it was that Johanna Beckett had managed to collect so much junk.
Junk, thought Kate, tears suddenly stinging her eyes. All of it, nothing but junk. And every single stupid little porcelain cat figurine or vintage Waterman pen a painful reminder of her.
Well, no point in standing there dumbly staring at everything. Forcefully wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Kate grabbed the delicate crystal animals off the shelf and started wrapping them in bubble wrap. She worked steadily through the room, trying not to get caught up in pointless sentimentality as she packed every strange thing her mother had collected over the years, everything Kate had once found ridiculous or pointlessly spendthrift.
"Katie?" Hearing her father's voice, she was startled to realize it had been almost three hours since they'd started. She looked up from the floor where she was carefully packing the Faberge eggs and saw Jake standing in the doorway, carrying a small box filled with what looked like books.
"Are you about done here? I thought we could go grab a bite in town," said Jake, walking over to her. "By the way, I found these in your mother's and my bedroom, do you want them? I don't think the library would want them, they're too marked-up, Goodwill didn't need them either."
Kate stood up, dusted her hands off and glanced disinterestedly at the box. "What are they?"
"Some of your mother's books." Her father frowned. "They were in our bedroom closet."
Odd. Johanna hated clutter and not putting things where they belonged, both her husband and daughter knew it. "Why wouldn't she keep these books in here?" Kate gestured to the empty bookshelf space in the study.
Jake shrugged. "I don't know...maybe she didn't want to come in here to read them, I think she might've read these before she went to bed, they're pretty worn and marked up." He handed her the box. "Figure out what you want to do with them, okay, sweetie? I'm going to go shower and change and then we can eat." He left the room.
Kate took a closer look at the hardcover novels neatly piled in the box. These didn't look like her mother's usual books. They weren't leather-bound with gold-edged pages, they didn't look like first editions, and none of them were titled Wuthering Heights or A Scarlet Letter or any of the other classics she usually read.
They were plain, regular hardcover novels with regular thick paper and a separate cover, much like the novels found in drugstores and bookstores and public library fiction sections. Nothing fancy. Not the kinds of books Kate had ever seen her mother read while Kate was still living at home, but maybe her interests had branched out a bit. Curious, Kate picked up one of the books and took a closer look.
Storm Rising, the title was in big, all-cap letters, each a different color on the front book jacket. Above it, in slightly bigger print, still all-caps, presumably the author's name: Richard Castle.
Kate frowned thoughtfully as she opened the front cover and saw her mother's seal in the inside ("From the library of Johanna Beckett.") She'd never read this book or any other ones from this Richard Castle, but she knew she'd heard that name before somewhere recently. Then she remembered: Time and The New York Times Book Review had done a piece about young, hot new author Richard Castle's books a while ago. Something about him being the "hot new writer to watch" and "this generation's Agatha Christie meets Stephen Cannell."
Kate gave a slight, inward shudder. She hated crime novels, always firmly marching past that section in the drugstore and heading straight to the trashy romance novel section instead. Despite that, she flipped to the back cover and read the quick summary of Storm Rising, snorting to herself at every cheesy word. This guy was the next big mystery literary genius?
What seemed even more surprising, however, was that her mother had apparently been a big fan of his work - most every page Kate flipped through had had highlighting and parts circled and underlined and even notes written in the margins on some pages, all in Johanna Beckett's immaculate handwriting. Kate's eyes narrowed. They looked like notes about clues and characters in the book.
So. Not only had this Mr. Hotshot Mystery author guy written grisly crime novels that had managed to pull in the very squeamish Johanna Beckett, but he had even gotten Mrs. Beckett into taking notes and trying to figure the mysteries out herself. Who would have thought?
Kate shut the book and started to rifle through the rest of the hardcovers in the box. "Ready to go?" Jake reappeared at the door.
"Yeah, just a minute, dad," she said distractedly. Not knowing what got into her (the last thing she was in the mood for were books about murder), she carried the box up to her room and set it down on her bed.
The minute they returned to the house from the restaurant and Jake left to take a nap (or more likely, get a drink alone in his room), Kate got an iced tea and went up to her room and picked up a hardcover titled Flowers For Your Grave. Same bold lettering on the front, same lettering proclaiming "RICHARD CASTLE" as the author above the title. Same rubber stamped seal of "From the Library of Johanna Beckett" in the front cover. But this one felt different. Smelled a little different, she realized, like her mother's expensive perfume and willowbark tree shampoo.
She inhaled the smell of the book deeply. Normally, she thought anyone who smelled old books like a crazy, stuffy librarian ought to be locked up in an asylum somewhere.
But these books felt different - rich repositories of Johanna's handwriting, her thoughts, even her smell.
Resisting tears again, Kate flipped open the copy of Flowers For Your Grave and didn't put it down till she had read the whole thing cover to cover, not realizing till then just how good, how filling, how addictive crime pulp fiction could really be.
She'd been so absorbed into the story and reading Johanna's carefully-made, meticulous thoughts next to the prose that she almost didn't notice the author photo on the back cover till she'd finished reading. A color photo of a handsome man in his late-20s to early 30s with dark hair and smiling, almost smirking, deep blue eyes gazed back directly at her.
Kate blinked, taken aback. She hadn't expected something that well-written (she grudgingly admitted to herself) to be written by someone who seemed so young (and so good-looking, sniggered the same voice in her head, which she quickly and sternly silenced). Who would have thought someone who wrote grisly murder scenes could be that entertaining, even insightful?
The loud clinking of ice being poured into a glass jarred her out of her reverie. There was no mistaking the sound of Jake Beckett, a few doors down from her, pouring himself yet another drink. Kate gazed down grimly at her bedspread, not knowing what to do about him. There was no doubt the next few months weren't going to get any easier for him - or for her.
Her eyes fell on the box of her mother's remaining Richard Castle books. She placed Flowers For Your Grave on her nightstand and picked up another hardcover from the box.
Kate fingered a congealed blob of wax on the first page of the book she held, wax that had probably dripped from one of Johanna's lemon-scented candles sometime ago. Rough times were certainly ahead, no doubt about it.
But for now, as she took another sip of iced tea and settled more comfortably on her bed, the only things ahead for Kate were Johanna Beckett's thoughts on one Richard Castle's book, Hell Hath No Fury.