Monday, May 31, 2010

The same river twice

Kate watched them walk out of the station and into the sun-filled Perfect Summer Days the Hamptons always promised and often delivered. She could feel her--no, she couldn't feel anything. Inside her chest was a single congealed mass like stale Play-Doh, not moving, not beating, not breaking. It wasn't rational, cerebral, verbal; not 'This is not happening.' It was very much like a blow to the head or a car accident. The last thing she had expected. No, of all things she might have expected, Gina would never have occurred to her. Gina with her arm around Castle and Rick snuggling with his ex-wife. She watched them go and could not move. Lanie finally came out of the party room and took her to sit down.

“Well, that was a surprise. I thought he'd stay longer,” said Montgomery. “Should I know who she was?”

“The second wife, not Alexis's mother,” said Ryan. “Blood-Sucking, not Deep-Fried.”

Montgomery made the face of one who would not criticize without walking the requisite mile, but was at a loss to understand. “Good thing you have Demming.”

The other three sentient persons in the room looked at him.


Kate just sat there, emotionally concussed. She went through the motions and took the weekend off. Not drinking, not crying, not thinking.

This was a place she had been before. This was the ringing emptiness she had met with as she collapsed exhausted over the unbreakable case of her mother's murder, which had helped her hide from the immovable truth of her mother's death. Letting go of her mother's case had meant finally letting go of her mother, some crazy hope that if the puzzle was solved the problem would disappear, like unknotting a piece of yarn. But the yarn was broken, and she had to get the ends worked in and secure enough to go on somehow. It took a long time.
If her mother had lived longer, Kate might never have realized how much Johanna's fire had sustained their family. She had lost both parents. Her father drifted farther from fatherhood, from any kind of responsible personhood. Then, a few years after her mother's death, her father announced he had 'loved her too well;' he had 'hit bottom' and was going to 'make amends.'

Despite her father's embrace of 'powerlessness,' he continued to mouth that remark about 'life never giving you things you could not handle,' which seemed to Kate to be the opposite of AA's radical helplessness. She wondered if he had noticed the contradiction. She understood her father had decided to live a smaller life, because he needed to if he was to live at all. She forgave him, she knew better than to challenge him, but he was no longer the dynamic man she had believed in. He could not shelter her and he could not spur her. He was alive and he loved her and he was coping, by now somewhat better than she was, if you called his sensible, pedestrian life living.

While Kate was intensely grateful for his sobering up, the philosophy repelled her. Love-- you can't love too well. You can't throw too much after it. Love makes the world go round. Love is its own reward. Love seeketh not itself to please. Love never ends. Didn't you and Mom used to believe that?

Passionate, take-charge, kick-the-world's-ass was the only way young Kate had known how to live. Kate took risks in college; did illogical things as college kids are supposed to do; went to Russia, for pity's sake-talk-about-messed-up-countries; realized she could not put her mother's death behind her at all; went headlong into becoming the best cop ever. After all, 'life never hands you anything you can't handle,' right? So she could handle this, right?

“I know you love your mom,” her therapist had said, “But if she saw you and your dad lose her so suddenly, would she said that? It's too glib. Life hands everyone things they may or may not be able to handle, and some people, for one reason or another – good ones-- may not be able to 'handle' things very well. There are things we cannot 'handle'.”
“Like my dad's thing from AA? 'Powerlessness?' That seems bogus,” Kate had said.
“Well, I don't think it's the right answer for everyone, particularly women. We get told we ought to be powerless so much of the time anyway. But some events in our lives 'handle' us, and we have to change to survive.”

Kate had changed.

“Love does not not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, never fails.” That was Love: Divine Love. People were... people. Sometimes some of them touched that kind of inhuman perfection, but it was hardly the standard. People failed, they envied, they boasted and snarked and cried, they hoped... she had seen enough women hoping or trusting or persevering in the wrong men to know human love was a problem (okay, some men were dragged into trouble by their women friends, true. It was less common in her experience and right now, this this was about her).

“Love has no end.” But people did. People died, people got tired, people ran out of resources. No wonder they let alcohol, or, more or less destructively-- differently-- let work, avocation, kids fill the void. Accept a small dream, seek more self-contained joys.

It took her a long time to learn why anyone would do that, to accept limitations in her own passion for life and integrity and high ideals. The part of her who was 'the girl single-handedly going to change the NYPD and track down her mother's murderer' almost killed all the rest of Kate. The person she found when her head had come back together, was someone stronger, deeper, and much more focussed. And dry. It was the strength of cast iron rather than an ocean. Her college self didn't much like the person she had had to become. But she was alive, she was effective – very effective-- and duty was more reliable than joy. Learning to live with imperfection and uncertainty and smaller goals had not been intended to shut down the spirit of her youth, but that seemed to have been the cost of saving herself from obsessive despair.

Play it safe, Katie, play it safe. It worked, consistently. It gave her one unshakeable place to cling: You did the sensible thing. So play it safe. Don't get dragged under by passion. Play it cool. Don't love inconvenient men. This often amounted to not loving anyone. Well, not that way. Play it safe. He looks sweet, but love is like the lemon tree. He says he will give you everything, as long as your everything is more inclusive, as long as you will leave town, friends, career for him. Because he loves you: but his everything is more important than your everything. And Sorenson never saw the problem there. Kate had tried to love sensibly, and be loved sensibly in return, and without noticing, Sorenson had offered her his sensible life in return for her own. Kate had noticed one day as she thought about leaving New York. Apparently even sensible men were too risky.

Then into her perfectly rational and realistic world came someone who laughed at danger. Who sneered at convention (though innocents rarely came to harm in his books), and set society on its ear with his callous disregard (Kate did wonder about the horse. In the nude? Ow). Who loved his daughter with madcap, annoying abandon. Alexis was used to being annoyed, but she took her father's tendency to ruffles and flourishes and fake blood as evidence of the depth of his affection, which was exactly right. Kate suspected Richard Castle's eventual grandchildren would have regular bedtimes and never taste beer until they were 21. (Or were left alone with their grandfather).

Having Castle around had stirred things up. Not just in Kate's depths, the places she didn't want to go; but in her shallows, where it turned out she had ignored bright colors and light-mindedness, the beauty of the world that did not tear your heart, but even mended it. A clownfish? Safe despite the stings of New York's violent side? Someone with a different way of getting through the hard stuff? She had thought he had no hard stuff in his life; Castle liked to give that impression. Castle could have chosen to play his bastardy, his choppy childhood, his hurt from Meredith entirely differently, bearing them on his 'strong but burdened, poor brave injured male' shoulders.

Instead, he wore them on his sleeves, made the scars on his own heart into a patchwork coat and asked people to laugh. Stuffed silk (not just a cushion of ready cash, though that certainly helped) rather than plate steel; warm and soft and actually even moderately protective. No secrets, unless you counted not admitting to a foundational myth for his interest in writing murder mysteries. Or unless you counted pretending to have no depth.

She had seen his heart sometimes, and it worked better than hers. Even though she was a cop and needed some armor and some cynicism to do her job, she had to admit that joy was not an occupational liability. She saw it in her colleagues' faces sometimes, and knew she was arrogant to call them simple-minded. The world and too many of its people sucked. There was still baseball. The perfect Crab Rangoon. The crazy birders in Central Park who loved Pale Male. Kate had started to notice happiness all around her and she thought it might be all right if she had some too, without denying the real presence of frustration, heartbreak and human failure. It was doable.

She thought she had begun to get better at juggling them when her apartment blew up.

It was hardly the first time someone had tried to kill her, but the cold-blooded method was new. Say 'psychopath' all you like, it was more deeply scary than a gunfight. She told herself this was true, and therefore it was okay to be kinda traumatized. She ignored herself because she was Kate Beckett. Her insides congealed. Everyone thought the heart of Castle's home would be a perfect sanctuary. Castle hoped it would be more than that – well, she thought he did. Hard to tell. He was playing cautiously, trying not to scare her, realizing on some level that the candy-colored whacko functionality of his family was as frightening as any bomb.

Maybe if she had stayed with the Castle-Rodgerses while her apartment house was getting its elevators fixed--some other 'normal' disruption, with a nest she could go on believing safe and solid, of her own, waiting for her to come back to it--she could have seen it more calmly: people of privilege who knew they were privileged, valued it. People of emotional honesty who had dug the foundations for years.

As it was, for a woman in shock, it was like living on the set of Star Trek. Particularly when they played laser tag. She had no experience in parents congratulating their child for killing them repeatedly. Or grandmothers who sniped unexpectedly from the staircase and beat all of them. Or men who made souffles as easily as pancakes and muttered about their daughters' folding the egg whites vindictively (“They're not your guidance councilor, be gentle”).

Whatever. Something about the easy-looking love in that kitchen sent Kate to a real estate agent before the sheets in Castle's guestroom needed changing. Even before Montgomery (and his weightier friends) had suggested to the insurance company that delay in paying out to the tenants of her building would be a really bad idea, she was in a new place. “IKEA Tower,” Alexis had called it, biting it back too late when Kate had a small housewarming. In her new, rather sterile, really tidy apartment, Kate had time to think about why she needed out of Casa Castle so fast, and she didn't like what she found. Apparently the visceral Kate Beckett did not trust Castle to see her in sweatpants, in dirty hair, in exhaustion, in pain.

Though of course he already had. He had courted her in her pain and offered to go with her into tribulation. He thought she was strong enough to fight demons. She was very tired and new ones kept showing up. It took her a week before she noticed how upset she was that one of them wanted to play Nikki Heat in the movies, and in Castle's bed.

Of course it was his bed and he was free to let anyone he wanted lie in it. Kate knew she didn't want to.

“You know what I think.”
“Yes, Lanie, I do. And you know what I think.”
“If you don't care about him why are you so torn up about a little Hollywood good time? I know you're not worried she broke his heart.” Lanie had looked at her across the restaurant table and searched her face. “Are you?”
“No. He doesn't have a heart, anyway.”
“Wow, look who's talking.” Lanie watched Kate's calm, even face twist. “Oh, hon.”
“He flirts with me all the time and then he goes to bed with a floozy.” Kate clamped her voice down against rising to a howl.
“Yeah, he's a guy. Honestly, the fact he still bothers to flirt after all the encouragement you've given him--”
“I haven't given him any encouragement!” Kate said, with perhaps a little more force than was necessary.
“But he still wishes you would.”
“I don't want to be one of his conquests!”
“I think he would be happy to be one of yours. And if that worked for both of you, he might be willing to settle into something more permanent.”
“I don't work like that! And we work together! It would be awful!”
“Or maybe not. Look, hon, have you ever had two beers with him and told him what you just told me? That you don't want to throw your friendship under a bus, that it means something to you and you worry that having a good time would make it impossible to pick up as friends or sidekicks or whatever again?”
“I bet he'd be interested to hear it.”
“Maybe.” Kate thought about it. The next time Castle batted his eyelashes at her, she could grab him by the necktie and say something like, “Listen, you idiot--” The thought made her sweat. Sweating was good. She went to the gym to work off some of her nerves and met Tom Demming.

Demming was like a warm bath. With a massage after it. And chocolate. He thought she was wonderful. He thought she was the bees' knees. She thought he kissed rather nicely. Her body was more explicit, but she had to admit it was not very particular after no touching for so long. She was glad she had let it happen with someone nice, and kind, and decent. “You are so wonderful, Kate. I would never hurt you,” Demming whispered in her ear. “I can keep you safe.”

How different could you get from a man who admitted he had an appetite for a deep-fried Twinkie once in awhile? From someone who fell into bed with any slutty manipulative movie star who happened to be passing? From someone whose idea of loving gifts began “It's about your mother”? From someone who took risks, and respected her enough he assumed she did, and respected her enough to apologize for taking them without her permission? Kate was no man's deep-fried Twinkie. She shied away from wondering if Demming was hers, and threw herself into his arms in gratifying response to his decency. Also, it felt really good.

When they went out, people looked at her, not him. It was she who waved back to the mayor one night in a small restaurant, and introduced him to Tom. If Tom thought she was strange for choking and leaving the next place when she recognized somebody who wrote for Page Six, well, let him. Nikki Heat was off-duty. (What a skank.)

Her toes curled when Demming held her, but somewhere she could see Castle's lips' curling (that would be every time he saw Demming). No, but a part of her that she hadn't realized looked and sounded like Castle, a part of her that danced in the moonlight and laughed loudly and sometimes wore impractical clothes, a part of Kate she had only allowed to come out and play under the strictest supervision (a part of her that was very reasonably hiding under a heavier psychic vision of the new couch she had not bought from Pottery Barn, damn it) – kept thinking bad thoughts. Kate ignored them.

It didn't help when Ryan said “Sorenson, I mean Demming, sorry --”
“Well, it's great you were able to find the same thing but not upholstered in Fed.”
“You like good, steady, white bread men,” said Esposito. “Nothing wrong with that.” He and Ryan continued their routine.
“Consistent taste.”
“Key to happiness.”
“Or making the same mistake several times,” Ryan admitted.
“Says Honey Milk.”
“I know now I don't like Goths.”
“They were attracted to your Irish pallor. You were attracted to their attraction.”
“Hey,” said Beckett.
“What? I'm picking on Ryan now.”
“We can go back to giving you advice if you want.”
“Thanks anyway, but no.”
“Right,” said Ryan, “Because men don't know anything about how relationships work.”
“You should talk to Lanie,” said Esposito.
Kate closed her eyes. “I don't need to,” she said. “She's been very clear.”
“Then you're in good hands,” said Ryan.

They were nice guys. They were more than that, they were her partners, and they wanted to cover her back. Which she appreciated, of course, but it was her life. And it wasn't as though they knew her all that well, really. They had the decency to keep it light. They would never have made her feel uncomfortable. Like Castle did. When she got caught having lied to him in the middle of the Spycation case. Castle's announcement—as far as she could tell right out of the blue-- that they were taking a break came as a complete shock. Like coming out from under nice warm water and having a bucket of icy slush poured over your head. As soon as there was a quiet moment, Kate went and found Lanie.
“What kind of reason did he have to do that? It was only a little white lie, and I really ought to be working this weekend.”
“Exactly. What you said,” Lanie told her, busy at a desk.
“And I didn't tell Tom I was going away with him, I said I'd look into it.”
“Of course you are. You're going to make a reasonable decision and Castle isn't in the running. Because his house isn't as nice as a motel in Asbury Park.”
“He knows I feel bad. I told him I didn't want things to be awkward between us now that Tom and I are together. I didn't want it to be an uncomfortable situation for any of us.”
“You put it that way? You actually said the words?”
“Yeah, well, Tom and I are together, so?”
Lanie looked up from her paperwork. “And that doesn't make any difference between you and Castle. You want all of you to be good friends.”
“Well, yes, I think that would be nice, but then he goes and says he's going to the Hamptons for the summer and taking a break from helping out here. Running off like a sulky kid.”
“You can't see what all the fuss is about? Are you turning into a man? Kate, you can lie to Castle, even if you used to be one of the most honest people I've ever met. And you can lie to yourself because it's human nature and we live in a fallen world. But don't try to lie to me and tell me you honestly think everything is going to be like one big happy family.”
“I don't see why not.”
“Leave. My friend Kate has been kidnapped by aliens.”
Lanie hardly ever lost the undercurrent of amusement at her life, least of all when discussing aliens, but Kate saw nothing humorous in her face. “You are out of your mind. You are ignoring anything you ever knew about human nature, about men, about friendship. I assume you're exhausted. I hope you're not getting sick. And I think you're contagious because I don't feel too well myself. Go back to Homicide, Kate.”

Kate wanted to say, it shouldn't have to be one or the other. All she and Castle did was rub their brains together, not … body parts. Right? After that it was like a cascade. Esposito came and spoke to her about a going-away party for Castle. Away from Ryan he was often more serious. (Like her and Castle? Well, Castle was never more serious than she was. Smiled and tried to dance away from the awkwardness, make light of things, smooth them over... no big deals...) And he told her in his plainest words that he didn't think Castle was leaving for the summer, to write his book. Kate tried not to hear him but felt her familiar precinct fade out of color into monochrome like the end of The Wizard of Oz.

She was so quiet at dinner Demming took her home to IKEA Tower and left her to get some sleep. He always knew when she wasn't in the mood. He didn't press. Being pushed made her uncomfortable, and Castle was always pushing. Demming thought she was a goddess. One did not tease goddesses. Or worshippers, she realized. It had seemed nice to be placed on a pedestal, but it sure got boring up there (although boredom was an underrated commodity). But it was like living with a stuffed animal. Maybe one with a purring function. Kate felt bad, literally, a Bad Person, one who did not belong with someone so purely Good, because … she was bored. And Lanie was angry with her, usually a sign Kate had messed up. How safe was safe? Had she been underwater for the last few weeks?

Kate wasn't sure what she wanted, but it wasn't an endless Asbury Park summer. She scratched and scrabbled inside her head all night, trying to figure out what she needed to say, to whom. All the times she had considered taking what Castle offered--the warmth and the sparkling possibilities, the fear of only becoming a notch on his bedpost—one of the risks she had wanted most to avoid would have been to upset their comfortable working relationship. It was good for both of them, she would have sworn. Although apparently he'd been having trouble with the new book, something she couldn't recall having heard him mention. But the awkwardness she had wanted to prevent by not dating him had apparently bloomed when she told him she was part of another real couple. Her head ached. Couldn't Rick see he was not her type? That she wasn't his? That what they had was more real than sexual attraction?

But it seemed like Rick could not take it if she was settled and unapproachable. He wouldn't flirt if she belonged to another guy. And that was, for him, a deal-breaker. Lanie had made it clear the ball was in her court; if she wanted the cleverness, the fun, the ideal complementary help to her own flashes of insight, she had to be open to more from Rick Castle.
And that meant?
Kate wished that just for a few minutes the roaring in her head, that had been there in varying volume since the explosion in her home, would quiet down. For a second she realized she really did need a vacation, badly. But her head worked just fine on a homicide, so why take a vacation from that? Tom Demming was a vacation; he was warm white noise. And that was an awful thing to say about someone so sincere and so loving.

She knew what she had to say to him, and she said it. And then he had to realize she did not just mean for the weekend, and he had to spell it out. And again, Kate had the feeling life was running faster than she was. But it was true that the person she liked to be, the one who had been growing stronger before her apartment blew up, would not be satisfied with Tom's sweetness forever. Wasn't than something like what she had been trying to do: have Castle as her work boyfriend and Demming to go home to? Lying to Castle, pretty much taking Demming for a ride: was this who she wanted to be?

She was sure of that, anyway, and despite the part of her that kept saying what a great, safe bet Tom Demming was, she had ended them. Felt good enough to swagger a little as she picked up her beer. Almost confident enough to speak to Castle about the things she had been trying not to tell even herself.

She had been in this state of shock and ruins before, but, as is the way things go, she had changed from the person she had been that earlier time. She knew about going on and she would. And she would see him in the fall. Kate picked up the phone and called Lanie. “If I say you were right, and I was wrong, can we go to the beach?”
“Can I say it a bunch more times?”
“Could you maybe hold off on that a while?”
“I think so,” said Lanie. “You know where your towel is?”
“For the moment.”
"That'll have to do."

Monday, February 1, 2010

process of Castle in the Air, Feb 1

On Jan 19, I had 12,700 words. Fialka had a look at it and made some excellent suggestions, and I messed around for another thousand words. Today I hoped I could finsih it, even though I knew finishing was not going to happen. I was determined to work till I had 14K, and after messing around most of the day (amply distracted by the Web), I have 15K some-odd. I hope to God the end is in sight.

I put in datelines to try to keep track, and realized Castle would never have been out of town for Halloween.

I need to go back and put more Beckett thoughts in, if I am going to have them cropping up because I was looking for her on Facebook. What if she won't friend me? Hers is not as well-filled as Castle's, but better than Lanie's.

I played with Google maps a bit, and there are some good looking restaurants within a couple blocks of the precinct hq.

I realized I had said something clear about one minor character that meant a rework of what I was doing (if she got her lawyer on the board, the executive director knows her) and that seemed to help a bit. I dislike my villain so much I fear I am telegraphing.

Nice articles on Muslim liturgy. Halaka in Hebrew is the same thing as halaqa in Arabic.

The NY sanitation department has a decent website.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It was an ideal site for a new Feed’n’Seed, the developer considered. Big enough for a nursery greenhouse, a couple of salesrooms, a warehouse with loading docks in back and in front for deliveries and customers. Room for everyone to park and get their birdseed and horse feed and flats of petunias and sacks of lawn chemicals. The highway was not so busy it couldn’t accommodate a turning lane, but the parcel was barely two miles from one town and practically in the suburbs of another. The nearby river was far enough downhill not to flood the basement. The soil was rich enough not to support the habitat of inconvenient butterflies. He had every reason to think the town meeting would welcome his offer; it was good for everyone and disturbed no one. He still had a few hoops to jump, though; the damned bloodsucking archaeologists were coming this week. The developer wasn’t too worried, just annoyed. Couldn’t they tell just by looking that nothing had ever been here?

Fifteen hundred years earlier there were no towns, no highways, no lawns, and no horses. The developers’ ancestors wouldn’t get there for nearly twelve hundred years. They would have agreed with him in thinking the lands hereabouts were uninhabited. Some times of the year, in some parts of the region, they would have been right. But even then they might have noticed the forest was relatively open, almost parklike. Some of the trees were girdled in a manner that ruled out beavers or rabbits. Near one cleared area there were some quite elaborate wickerwork affairs, but if you were used to lumber or stone, or even wattle-and-daub, they did not look like houses. But people returned there one spring and made comments any summer renter would recognize.
“I don’t remember leaving this place such a mess,” Many Fawns grumbled. “Beanflower, can you take that bundle to your grandmother? Feather, catch this line while I knot it –“
Her husband’s mother, Didn’t I Tell You, pulled her end of the hide covering taut and swatted at the four-year-old next to her. “You can pull harder than that.”
Feather, who was nine, came and stood over his young brother and helped pull the skins over the framework. Didn’t I Tell You laced it up and patted them both with more approval, while Beanflower and Fawns unrolled the next bundle of hides. Feather and Child Underfoot pulled, their mother and sister laced, and Didn’t I Tell You grumbled until the wickerwork was suddenly covered in a patched, overlapping skin of its own, much more homelike, with a definite inside and outside and a door between. “Right then, Beanflower, you can get the floor cleaned up and Grandma and Feather can go look for sweet fern and maybe some mint – take Underfoot with you – and I’ll get the fire started up. Gran, will you look for some decent kindling --?”
“How many times did I set up camp before you were born?” asked the older woman, without much heat. “Come on, Feather, bring a couple of sacks and we’ll see if we can find a snack as well…. Your mother would tell a moose how to swim and that sister of yours is worse, make some man rich and very tired in a year or two.” She took a handful of Underfoot’s shirt for steering purposes and picked up the digging stick she carried everywhere. Feather came after, with a bunch of netting bags and the smallest bow Didn’t I Tell You had ever seen used seriously. Maybe if there was a grouse about to die of old age… but the boy had thrown his shoulder out so badly last winter. It seemed to be all right now. “How’s that arm, boy? And don’t give me any of that manhood crap.”
Feather giggled briefly at her language -- he had learned most of the bad words he knew from her – and fell in alongside. “Pretty good, most of the time.”
“Unless you use it?”
“No, really. Sometimes it aches at night.”
Underfoot fell over. They picked him up. Didn’t I Tell You watched Feather dust him off. He was good with the younger ones. He was, she admitted only to herself, her favorite of Fawn’s children. It was partly the habit of fear; Feather was not strong and every passing illness seemed to sit on him longer. “So tell me, how many things you see around here are good for eating?”
“Not very many now,” said Feather. “Things with big roots are still scrawny from the winter. In a month or two, we can dig that one up – come look at these leaves,” he told his brother. “We can eat that one there when the shoots are about as long as your arm, and we at that one after midsummer.”
“And when do we eat that?” his great-grandmother asked.
“You can’t eat that. Can you?”
“Good! You can, however, make fairly good rope out of it if you can’t find cedar bark or milkweed or what else?”
As they walked, picking their way among the trees, Underfoot found a turtle, but it was not the time of year for eating turtles so they just praised his powers of observation and walked on. At the top of the hill, they stopped to catch their breath and looked down to the canoe landing. The cousins were unloading the last of the sacks and Beanflower was carrying the largest cooking pot with exaggerated caution. Feather pointed off to the right.
“Did we use to live over there, on the other side of the stream?” The place looked brushy but picked over somehow. No big trees.
“You didn’t, but I did,” his grandmother answered. “About thirty years ago. But the river moved one season when we were away for awhile, and the land was wearing out. Needed a rest. My parents are buried there. You can see a couple of sticks left of the house.”
“Did they need a rest? Will they get strong again like a cornfield?”
“I don’t think it works like that,” she answered cautiously. “I think they just went to be with the ancestors, somewhere else. Like your baby sister last winter.”
“How can she be an ancestor when she never had children?”
“You’re a Feather of a very talkative bird. I don’t know. I’m an ancestor of you and your cousins and I’m not even dead. As far as I know, and your mother doesn’t come to find us wasting time.”

A week later the camp was transformed. Even the most civilized eye (probably from Asia) would have agreed. Seven skin-covered homes were linked to each other with clearly worn paths, and more paths led to the cornfield and the latrine and the river and off into the woods. Small fires leaked smoke through the seams of the houses and the crevices left open in a little smokehouse full of rather lean deer meat. The fresh skins were stretched over frames for scraping or smoking or otherwise processing into usefulness. A tree, girdled years before, now lay felled. It was being dismantled into firewood, tanning bark, basket and arrow and bow and spoon and bowl and packframe and bedding materials. A row of pots dried under a lean-to shelter, guarded anxiously by Beanflower from her younger relatives. Underfoot had learned about skunks. Many Fawns had set up her netting posts and informed all of her children that they could twine whenever she caught them looking idle or causing trouble.
This gave the children an incentive to keep out of her way and learn to look busy; and, most of the time, they really were. They weeded the mounds in the cornfield and set the seeds to grow. Everyone used the new latrine to the west of the field, and helped empty the old one-- some years old and now unsmelly --into baskets and spread the rich soil onto the corn mounds. Feather and his brother scared crows and jays off the field, and helped their mother clean pigeons when their father, Walks Into Moose, came home with a huge net full. Even Beanflower dropped her adult pretensions for a moment and chased bits of feather down floating in the sunlight and the draughts from the fires.
“Why did you call me Feather?” the boy asked his oldest relative one evening. “I don’t catch fire and smell bad, and I can’t fly.”
Didn’t I Tell You looked around and picked up a stray flight feather, too small for fletching. She bent it almost double and it snapped back straight and apparently just as strong. They smoothed the barbs together; it looked as crisp as it had in the bird’s wing. “You’re light but strong, boy,” she said. “You came through a bunch of illnesses in fine shape.”
Feather nodded. Could be worse (like Reeks Underfoot, as his small brother was known these days). “Something Mom said once that you said when I was born --? What was that?”
Didn’t I Tell You pursed her lips, successfully hiding her concern, and spoke slowly. “Sometimes I get these notions, and sometimes I’m right.”
“Like when Uncle Bear broke his leg?”
“Like that –“ Early the winter before she had woken Many Fawns--and everyone else—out of sound sleep to tell her to go up the game trail with some of the cousins. A long time later, they met Walks Into Moose. He was two hours’ walk from the place he had been forced to cache his brother. It had taken six people most of the day to get Uncle Bear home.
“—but usually less useful. Sometimes when a baby is born I know things about them. I knew your father would be catching a lot of ducks, and when I met your mother I knew they would end up together—“
“Which was weird, because she’s from the people who live on the coast and we don’t see much of them,” Feather completed the formula of the family story.
Didn’t I Tell You, who privately considered her son’s connections to be coastal trash, nodded. “And they twine their cordage the wrong way around. I was worried that when she started showing your sister how to –“
“But what did you know about me?”
She would much rather have stayed with a safer subject, but the boy was persistent. “When you were born I knew you would do something for us no one else could do.”
“For you and Mom and Dad and Uncle Bear and the cousins?”
His grandmother shook her head. “Yes, but no – for people I don’t know, too. All the bands, Real People. Even other people. And no, I don’t know what it will be. Maybe you’ll find a way to make a better fish-spear.” She hoped that would be enough. For the moment, it was. Feather leaned back into the bedding and thought about fish-spears.
Spring was always busy – actually, so was summer and so was autumn – but Walks Into Moose listened when Didn’t I Tell You asked him to start teaching Feather more about hunting. A month later he reported to her that Feather was getting stronger; not a natural shooter, but quick and good at noticing. He knew entirely too much plant lore for a boy. “And he wants me to carry a full set of hunting gear and a digging stick too.”
“At least you’d bring back something every time,” his mother snapped. They both knew Moose would never be caught doing anything so undignified. “And that load of hemp you helped him bring home really was unusually long. Saves a lot of time.”
“So he told me until we helped him pick it. He looked like a squirrel nest all the way walking home. He’s a good kid.”

But then the mosquito season began in earnest. All of them itched. They added green stuff to smudge the fires till their eyes burned and no one’s nose could tell good meat from rotting. The cousins’ new baby cried most of one night with a fever and then died, and suddenly eight of the twelve adults in the band were feeling dizzy. Didn’t I Tell You just stayed in the house and swore, horribly, drinking as much water as she could get anyone to carry and peeing immodestly close to the living areas. She shivered a lot, and tried every kind of safe bitter bark in her remedy stash, but nothing was better than willow (and she would never misremember that purgative again. Nor would anyone else).
It was a measure of her illness when she felt better one morning and realized she couldn’t recall when Feather had stopped being the one to bring her water. “Where is he?” she asked her daughter-by-marriage.
“He got sick two days ago.” Many Fawns looked like a starved deer but she, too, was on the mend. “He’s bedded down with Too Much Marrow in their house. We didn’t want to disturb you.”
What she didn’t say, but Didn’t I Tell You managed to find out in the next few minutes, was that Feather had tottered around bringing people water until he keeled over in a dead faint, spending most of the time since then not coming very far out of it. Too Much Marrow was perfectly healthy by comparison and complained vigorously when made to get up. Too Much Marrow’s mother pursed her lips and hoped Didn’t I Tell You would have a stroke as the old woman condemned the state of the bedding, the treatment of the hides, the vermin (as IF!) in the flooring and the clearly demonstrated incompetence of Too Much Marrow’s family for the last five generations or possibly all way back to the Big Floods Time. But somehow through the vituperation and cursing, Feather was moved back to his mother’s house, gently sponged and forced to drink some infusion and even take a little meat broth thickened with cattail starch.
Four days later Feather was able to walk slowly to the latrines by himself, even if he needed to rest on the way back. Every joint he had ever wrenched hurt like he had torn it the day before. The taste of willow in his mouth seemed to be eating through his cheeks and if he had felt better he would have been in a foul temper. Even thinking that was too hard. The sun felt good. It had been a long time since he had been able to escape from hovering relatives; even now Underfoot was running up alongside him, shaking his head. Feather fixed his version of their grandmother’s glare on him and the child swerved away. Good. Feather was having enough trouble dealing with himself. His arms and legs looked gaunt; he guessed the lightness he felt in his head was true of the rest of his body, too. No wonder people looked at him anxiously. His breath wouldn’t go deep enough, either.
He crept out of the campsite along the nearest trapline. Other people had been tending his snares and deadfalls; Feather didn’t think much of their idea of concealment and his grandmother would have told them to redo the knots. He retied some of them himself, but even his fingers felt clumsy.
And none of the efforts he put forth did anything to alter the wavy disparate memories from his illness. Pictures swam in and away: the look of resignation on his mother’s face; his so-assured sister in a kind of long-term terror; Underfoot and their grandmother somehow wearing an identical expression of stubbornness and anger. Feather had never noticed how much alike they looked, with her wrinkled old face and Underfoot’s young plump one, but both of their brows knit the same way and both of their mouths pursed up in the same disapproval.
He pulled his thoughts away from that and tried to see the path in the stray beams of light through the trees, to pay attention and see and hear the presences that concerned him. A fox yipped and Feather was on the edge of another band’s homegrounds. Two brothers wrestled and their mother, tired, lay easing herself on a warm rock nearby. The fox kits didn’t even glance at him. The vixen noted Feather’s arms remaining by his sides, and maybe, he thought, his general weakness. She didn’t move, just watched him. Foxes were never good to eat and it was not the time of year for taking their pelts, and anyway he didn’t feel any stronger than the kits, snapping at one another with their milk teeth and tripping over sticks. He nodded to the vixen and went away in another direction, feeling his weakness and uselessness shown up by another set of people.
No one else had been taken by the fever so hard; well, no one else who could walk, or hunt, or bring home goods. He tried to keep his eyes here, in the sunbeams with the dragonflies and the birds, but the pictures in his mind keep returning: his grandmother and his brother scowling, his mother and his sister deeply upset – not the way he would have thought Beanflower would look, since she usually pretended Feather didn’t exist anymore than Child Underfoot. He couldn’t remember seeing his father there, though he knew he had been, could recall his voice. It wasn’t just the faces that haunted him so much as a snatch of conversation between his mother and grandmother.
“You said he would do something important,” Many Fawns had accused, in such a low voice Feather knew only his grandmother was meant to hear. Didn’t I Tell You had grunted in as much pain as if Fawns had struck her, and answered in just as much pain, “Fawns, he will do it for us being dead, I have always known that, my poor little brave child. He works so hard and it’s being dead that he will work to our good, I hate it, I want to see him married and strong—but Fawns, he will do something, and I hope it’s so many years from now I’ll have gone to dust and never know what.”
“How can he help anyone being dead?” Fawns had almost sobbed. “I want him alive with his bad shoulder and his caution and his little steady head. Moose says he is too weak to be a great hunter but they come back together with good stuff. What is use is it knowing he’ll be a powerful spirit? Will he send us to meadows of very tall hemp?”
“He could do worse,” said the grandmother. “Enough noise, Fawns. These notions of mine either go too far or not far enough. You’ve never considered them much before. Let it go. Moose is a good provider with no imagination, and I don’t know what Feather will be, but get him more water and more willow bark. I want him to stay as long as he can before he becomes Feather on the Night Wind.”
The memory of the pain in their voices stabbed Feather again and he gasped in the brush, and then again as he remembered it was himself they were mourning. It took him a few minutes, but the tears stopped and his breath came back, as much as it ever did these days. He thought of his tall, hearty father and the uncles and cousins who hunted together and they were like different animals from him altogether, bears to his woodchuck. Now that would be an awful name, Woodchuck’s Shadow.
There was a coil of new string in his pouch, so he worked on rabbit snares. It wasn’t the same as bringing back a deer, but a couple of rabbits made stew for a family and warm leggings for the winter. He set the snares up carefully, wondering if there was a better way to make one. Fish spears were not something he had used much yet.
Then he walked slowly back to the houses and had a relapse.

“Sometimes people get these fevers,” Didn’t I Tell You assured him, when Feather had been awake for awhile a day later. “I knew someone your father’s size who had these spells two, three times a year. He did all right, except for his daughter marrying that complete fool from the Inland River-Too-Good-to-Use-Quartz People.”
“I don’t want to marry anyone,” Feather rasped.
“Well, not for a while yet, you wouldn’t.”
Feather looked at his grandmother harder. She looked away, which answered his question. He couldn’t see all the fuss about marrying anyway, though it seemed to be all Beanflower and her friends talked about. Uncle Bear and his friends mostly laughed and told each other about that monster fish they caught last year, eh?
But you didn’t marry anyone if you were dead.
“Do spirits marry? Is that how my little sister from last year can be an ancestor?”
“You’re not a spirit yet, my lad,” his grandmother said darkly. “One day soon some girl like Beanflower from another band will notice how quick your eyes are and –“
Feather’s laugh came out sounding like a heron, but it was a good sign anyway. “Right now I need to get to the latrine or someone exactly like Beanflower will be yelling about getting new bedding.” He sat up slowly; his grandmother helped him stand. He was thinner than she was, now. “It’s not as bad as last time. I can walk well enough myself.”
He ducked carefully out of the house and made his way to the latrine. Spirits, he assumed, did not have to pee. Except for his bladder (and even that once it was empty) his body felt remote and unconcerned. But otherwise they might feel just as drifty and unconcerned. He felt like he was gliding and had to stifle a giggle when he nearly tripped.
“You should eat something,” his mother said, handing him a strip of meat. But chewing jerky was too much trouble and the stew wasn’t ready, so he munched some popcorn and drifted off to his trapline.
It wasn’t so sunny today and he had more trouble finding his path. Apparently his father had had trouble too, because no one had checked his snares. A rabbit dangled shoulder-high in the air, but whatever joy Feather had in his success vanished as soon as he touched his prey. It must have been caught within hours of his setting up the snare. He should have been there at dawn the next day, instead of lying sweaty and unconscious in his bed while the rabbit swelled and spoiled. Feather doubted that it was fresh enough to make a good pelt. No one liked to waste a death; the little bloated body cut through even his detachment. This little dead one would not be helping anyone’s tribe except the Small Flying People. He was still looking at the snare when Underfoot crashed through the brush, accompanied by their grandmother. “He didn’t think you should go off by yourself,” said the old woman. “Showing more sense than some people not far from here.”
“I wanted to tend my trapline. Look –“
“Overripe, but at least you caught something. Good knotting.”
“I might as well be dead, for all I can do. I can’t even trap properly.”
His grandmother looked at him levelly. “You’re lucky you’re too weak to hit. You’re not the only one here missing his kill or spoiling work after that fever. Now, do you want to explain what you’re being so ungracious about to your brother?”
“No,” said Feather sullenly.
“He came after you. He’s not too young to help you set traps. And you’re not so useless you can’t show him how. You could use someone else knowing where they are. And if you want to leave my sight any time for the next week you can remember to take him with you.”
His brother’s stance indicated that he had no idea what they were talking about, but he intended to be stubborn. “You want to be Child Comes Along instead of Underfoot?” Feather asked, glad there was someone to speak to besides his grandmother in her nastiest mood.
“Want to be Catches Rabbits.”
“Not that particular one,” said his grandmother. “But he could do worse. All right? You mind living a little longer, if it’s not too inconvenient?”
Feather nodded. “Can we check the rest of the line? It isn’t far.”
“I can’t stop you, and you have a keeper so I suppose it’s all right. Back before noon?”
“Maybe sooner.”
“Maybe you aren’t completely without common sense after all. I’ll see you then. You might want to take that rabbit farther from here, before something less choosy comes and learns to tend your trapline for you.”
Feather wondered for a moment what could be possibly want to eat spoiled rabbit, and then realized who would. He took the rabbit’s leg in one hand and his brother’s shirt in the other and they walked along his trapline. To his relief, the other snares and deadfalls had failed. “Now watch me reset this one. You put the rock back just like this. Well, something like that. Over there, can you see the next one?”
The traps ended as they neared the rock where the mother fox had rested. Feather shushed his brother and they crept forward.
“Smells funny,” muttered Underfoot.
“Smells like foxes. Shh, now.” Feather threw the inedible rabbit toward the pile of boulders where the foxes lived and settled to his haunches. They waited a little while. Then the mother fox appeared, and sniffed at the rabbit. Three cubs tumbled out of the den and their mother watched indulgently as they threw themselves on the rabbit, yipping with excitement and tearing it to pieces. The wind, fortunately, carried the smell away, or maybe the relatively clean foxy smell masked the worst of it. The rabbit certainly gave one family a meal and a morning’s entertainment.
“Rolling in it,” Underfoot giggled.
“Just remember, people don’t roll in their food. Now, can you remember where all the traps are? Then we’ll go home.”

“You hired me to find out if you could build there,” the archaeologist told the developer. “I found out. You can’t.” He had been in the developer’s office for half an hour; the atmosphere not been becoming any more cordial. “I’m sorry, but that’s why they make you hire us to find out. It’s a crapshoot.” Kind of a loaded one, he had thought since he'd seen the topo map; south-facing, gentle slope overlooking the water, old river. The only surprise was that the site hadn’t been plowed out of existence.
“You say it’s not even that old, why does it have to be preserved anyway?”
“I said Middle Woodland. I don’t know if you think the sack of Rome is recent history, and if you go seventy miles north you find traces of people here when they were building the pyramids in Egypt. But this is plenty old enough, and we don’t dig up cemeteries any more.”
“How the hell do you know there’s a cemetery there?” The developer looked at the array of ten or fifteen irregular blobs. Ground-penetrating radar sounded like Star Wars to him.
“For one thing, I’ve seen maps like that before. For another, I dug one up. Right here in this box.”
“What is right there in the box?”
The archaeologist had not been in a kindly mood at the beginning of the meeting and the reception of his news had done nothing to change it. He opened the box: red flannel cloth, green cedar branches, skull --. “About nine years old. A boy, we think; there were some arrowheads found with him.”
The developer had turned satisfyingly ash-colored. He had a picture of a nine-year old granddaughter on his desk. “That’s – that’s disgusting.”
The archaeologist let him draw his own conclusions.
“What are you doing with him, with, with it?”
“Since the burial is already disturbed, we took a lot of pictures and a measurements. As soon as we know you’ll be leaving the site alone the local Abenaki will rebury him.”
“What’s with the cloth and stuff? You didn’t find that with him?”
“No, but the modern Indians like it. Respectful.”
“Well, shit.”
In terms of bringing the interview to a quick end, the skull had done its work. The archaeologist felt a little gentler. “A chunk of open space is a nice thing, too. Your name on a park? Audubon Society, the Archaeology Conservancy – they could give you good press.”
“God damn.”
“I’ll be in touch, then.”
“Just take IT with you.”
The archaeologist would not have considered doing anything else. He took the dead more seriously than most; if someone a thousand years and more gone had anything to say, he wanted to hear it. The dead have very soft voices, even if you use the most modern techniques.

It was an ideal site to raise children. The road was noisy and dangerous, but that was only on one side. There were chickens not too far away, and a woodchuck, and lots of mice and voles and nesting birds. The thicket surrounded a really excellent pile of boulders, and no smell of anyone living here now. The fox crossed the little meadow, slipped into the thicket, and started to dig.


Here I am. Tomorrow is the 5-year anniversary of my real-world blog, Goldfinches and Fiber. I nearly called this one "Damn it Jim, I'm a writer, not a Webmaster" because I have been driven to this by the vile machinations of LiveJournal. HTML, no.

I still intend to post my stuff on the Castle FanFic pages of, but I can offer my non-Castle things a place to live, too.

In fact, here's one now.

Ms. Wrong

Word Count: ~1900
Rating: G
Warnings: moping self-pity
Spoiler alert: I don't think so
Summary: The view from a desk in the precinct
Author's Notes: Mainstream canon, between Season 1 and Season 2


Does anyone know who left this on the copier? Thanks.

She's so beautiful.
I know, I don't usually swing that way, but Beckett... maybe it's like the celebhomo crush, you're allowed to have feelings if you know they'll never be touchings... . I'm not all that wrapped up in the flavor of the people I love. I figure the best thing I can do is enjoy the ride. This one hurts a little more than I'd have expected.

It should be Castle I think about, though he's not really my type either. Handsome enough, but I wouldn't say 'ruggedly.' Needs some scars, more time out in the black. Or less emotional plastic surgery: you can't ever tell what he's been through, too busy talking you into something. I'm not sure he knows what's hit him yet, though I'm told a fellow-sufferer sees these things sooner. But I like watching him watching her. Sometimes he looks like he's proud of her, what's she's made of herself – I figure those are the times he's seeing Nikki Heat. He's got nothing to say about who our Beckett grows into. Or maybe he just likes seeing someone who could be one of his heroes, heroines, whatever, in real life. In front of him. Flirting with him.

I say I don't care, and most of the time I don't, but I would like to know that sometimes – ever -- she was looking at me with that speculative, sizing-up glance. I see her looking at Castle when he says something intelligent sometimes – those occasional times when a remark, an idea comes out when he's not waiting for her to notice how clever he is. Which I can't blame him for wanting her to notice. To give him credit, I think he likes having someone who can tell him he's not really all that cool. Someone he can believe.

I don't stand out very much. I'm more effective this way, but who doesn't like to be a star in their own story, some of the time? If she'd look at me that way, I'd be a star for long enough. I hope she doesn't see how I look at her. Ryan's had an idea, I think, but he's decent enough not to ask.

Unless someone is speaking, Beckett doesn't look very long at the rest of us. She focusses on whatever she's doing. I know if I showed up with a broken heart or a sick relative I would get at least that, her attention and her caring and her intelligence, whether there was anything she could do or not. She does have a corner of her heart for the relatives of the vics, but that comes with a side of 'By the way, you were where at the time of the death?' I don't think most of them notice that.
And she's not really comfortable when someone goes into hysterics; actually Castle is better with them. Maybe having his mom -- a legitimate drama queen, makes a living on it, more than I can say for some people I know – has given him some practice at being calm around the crazies. Maybe that's one of the things he likes about Beckett. I've seen her about as sad or angry as I'm ever likely to, and the damage is very controlled. Calm on the outside, anyway, these days, even when it's bad.

She is so beautiful.

The kind of work we do, I don't think you can help but love your partners, not that anyone is comfortable saying that. Hell, we're cops, we are the store where you go to buy some Tough. Mixing the men up with the women is kind of neat. It seemed at first like the 'men' thought they were getting mixed up with the 'boys,' some guys wanting to prove the women were sissies, some women not sure what they were if they weren't so damn cute they were useless. Revolting combination. One of the things I like about Beckett is she can do macho with the best of the hard-asses – do I mean the worst? Anyhow -- but you know that's kid-stuff to her. Always has to have her tough guy badge on so people will take her seriously, so she can get what she wants done, the same as anyone. But she balances it. Her 'soft' side is strong compassion, the kind any man I'd like to know, that I'd want to be, would want to have; and no one ever says she isn't up to the job. Unless they're idiots; we do get some of those.

It's not easy, being tough but decent. I think we watch each other, try to do what we'd want the people we admire to see, to do what we want to see them do. It kills me that it's all a work in progress; I want to just have it done, sometimes: the character is BUILT, thank you. Now I'll just play it out, be good to the people in my life and faithful to the person I think I am. And I saw Beckett try it that way more than once. Can't blame her; we all have stuff in our lives, but having your mom stabbed out of a clear, white-bread, entitled, educated, blue sky is more dramatic than say, a childhood deciding when to stop putting up with it, when to start standing up for yourself, and where to stop before you end up in jail. More drastic, actually, and even if you've had the tasty balanced emotional food to Build Strong People Twelve Ways, as well as dental insurance and prep school -- the safety net – I don't know that you get the same practice at knowing when to quit, what to fight. Maybe I just know a bunch of smart, lucky poor people, like my parents' families. I don't think Beckett had ever met a brick wall before her mom died, and that kind of background did her no favors. I wasn't right there while she was dealing with her mom's case, but I saw her around, and I knew something was going on. She had a few close friends – very few, and as she got crazier she had fewer. There were, as always, people crashing and burning at the same time, and those of us who have been fortunate so far – note, I am not saying I will always be one, protect me God – didn't want to be too close, get dragged under. But she stopped in time. We watched her get the wind back under her wings; she drifted a little while, which beat the hell out of the power dives; then she just kept pulling it together. She came out understanding that whatever she was made of, there would still be brick walls. A piece of common sense many of us have had since grade school, but whatever. You still have to learn to recognize 'em.

So we have watched her gradually learn to live with brick walls; seen her try, very carefully, to help some people with their own brick walls. A grown-up, if you like, but such a proper good girl still. That explains Sorenson. Half the department thought that was a match made in heaven, two really fine pieces of design and engineering who would have little children with straight teeth and straight A's. I was not enchanted by him. I'd noticed I felt more than a little protective of the Beckett by then, yes, yes I know about jealousy, and no, it wasn't just that. Give me a little credit. But I never thought either of them realized how lucky Sorenson was to have her on his arm, which was why he never understood that she had a life of her own. I don't think he quite understands yet why she wouldn't choose him: he's such a 'good bet.'

And Beckett is too proper to admit to herself how boring it would be. At least she noticed in time that he came first whenever 'they' made plans, at least when it became too obvious to miss; she saw him as he portrayed himself, a fish-twice-a-week, meat-and-two-veg. guy. I don't think she had believed he would do something dumb. But she knows her value as a detective. Moving from place to place, following him away from the networks and the town she knows would be bad tactics. And they both liked being good cops. Whether he loved her like she deserved didn't come into it, until, maybe, after the bad tactics. Hell, I'm not altogether sure that's come into it yet. Sorenson said he loved her, so obviously he loves her. If it's not a love that does much for her, I doubt she allows that to matter either. Low expectations? I don't know if she was any more madcap before her mom died or not, but Detective Beckett cares about staying sane, and Sorenson... is sane. Not an out-of-line type guy. Completely the opposite of the more recent arrival.

I was afraid I'd see her break back into pieces last spring, when Castle came up with that about her mom. Of course we heard about it. We thought Sorenson had taken a bad turn at first, or her father or something. Castle even tried to keep his mouth shut for awhile, to give him credit, but we found the new information had been added to the file about Beckett's mom. I just had an idea to look there when we saw Beckett and Castle, separately, looking like – well, he looked liked his best friend had just died and she looked like she was ready to send him after. So Ryan idly asked him if he'd seen the new info and Castle about changed species and finally said he'd put it there, please not to discuss it with Beckett. So we haven't. One of us did ask her why Castle wasn't around much and Beckett just said “Breach of trust,” daring anybody to ask whose trust about what. I have been wondering if any of the other vics' relatives would know a connection with Mrs. Beckett; no one has ever asked them. Which is something to think about, and I am. If we run into any of them, I will mention it, no matter what kind of five-hundred watt stare she'll give me. Being a cop is important -- even Castle thinks so.
He's not so bad. He's used to hearing what a catch he is, but he knows those people are just looking at the very shiny surface he likes to flash around. Whether it's from hanging around with phonies or trying to write people you can believe in, care about, he watches the crowd. When he noticed Beckett – really noticed, paid enough attention that he stopped needing everyone to pay attention to him -- I think it slowed him right down. He listens to her more than he used to. I'd never have thought being a pain in the ass was a good way to get her attention, but maybe that's what it took to get her eyes off her business. He makes her think about her life. Somebody that outrageous who is obviously besotted by her is a new combination; he's not 'by the book' but he's still forced her to take him seriously. No wonder she studies him.
And no wonder I study her.