SUMMARY: An AU featuring Castle as a hard-boiled private detective in 1940s Los Angeles.
SPOILERS: There are NO spoilers for the S3 finale, but there are references to some characters from S2's "Sucker Punch" and S3's "Knockdown."
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This story is a tribute to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, two authors who would have been tremendously influential to a mystery writer like Richard Castle. Many references throughout my story were taken directly from their works.
Light rolled in gradually like a thick red fog. His head hurt, but it was a distant pain, like something that belonged to someone else’s body. He tried to will the light to go away so he could slip back into that blissful, cool darkness, but the pain in his head kept getting stronger, more insistent.
He thought he heard someone call his name, but he couldn’t be sure. Then he caught of whiff of Shalimar. Memory struggled to fight through the haze of his consciousness.
“Wake up, damn you.” It was a woman’s voice. One that he knew he should recognize.
Something wet hit him full in the face. It made his nose and his eyes burn. He sputtered and wiped the Scotch out of his eyes. When he could focus he saw Kate Beckett standing over him holding an empty glass.
“Helluva way to wake a guy up,” Castle mumbled. He was lying on the floor in Gary McAllister’s house. He sat up, ignoring the throbbing pain in his head and the way it made the room tilt and sway. There was a lump the size of a ping pong ball on his skull. His nose didn’t feel so great either, but he didn’t think it was broken.
“We need to blow,” Kate said. “If I’m right we’re about to be all wrapped up in law.”
McAllister’s cold dead eyes gazed at him sightlessly from the open closet. Someone had moved the baseball bat out of the closet and placed it near Castle’s right hand. He didn’t need a fingerprint kit to know his prints would be on it, put there while he was unconscious.
“They set me up,” he said.
“It’s the only reason you’re alive. They wanted a patsy for McAllister’s murder.” She’d taken a handkerchief from her purse and was using it to wipe down the glass she’d been holding. Then she wiped off the bottle of Scotch and the baseball bat.
Something heavy and bulky bumped against Castle’s hip as he stood up. He reached into his coat pocket and his fingers closed around cold steel. He pulled a Colt .32 out of his pocket. It wasn’t his.
“And Raglan’s murder, too,” he said. “This looks like the gun that killed him.”
“Come on,” Kate said urgently. “There’s no time.” She grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the back door.
The sun was high, casting a hazy yellow glow over the world outside the darkened house. A siren sounded in the distance, faint, but getting steadily louder. They hurried into the alley. Kate started to turn south, but he pulled her the other direction. “My car’s this way,” he said.
There were ballfields on the other side of the alley and the familiar sounds of a late afternoon baseball game drifted over the fence towards them: kids yelling, parents cheering, and the occasional crack of a bat. Over all of it the sound of a police siren could be heard, getting closer and closer. A few lots down from McAllister’s was a big new apartment building. Castle guided them out of the alley and alongside the apartments. His car was parked on the street out front. They walked towards it, slowly and purposefully.
As they approached the Hudson a prowl car turned onto the street, lights flashing, and Kate’s hand tightened convulsively in his. They watched as the police car sped past them and screeched to a stop in front of McAllister’s place. Two uniforms got out and hurried towards unit 940.
Castle opened the passenger door of the Hudson and handed Kate into the car. Then he got in and drove slowly and carefully away.
“Thanks,” he said when they’d blended safely into the traffic on Santa Monica Blvd. “I owe you for what you did back there.”
“I warned you to forget about me,” Kate replied, staring out the window.
“That’s not easy to do, sweetheart.”
She turned to look at him, her expression unreadable. “Where are we going?”
“My place,” he said. He smelled like a wino and there was blood on his shirt from his tangle with the brute. “I need a clean shirt and a stiff drink. And then you and I are going to have a talk.”