tagCelebrities & Fan FictionCastle: College Experimentation

Castle: College Experimentation

byZev95©

Having Kate Beckett walk into the hotel room was like stepping back in time. Alexis could've been studying for her SATs again. She could've been into Twilight again.

Funny how she remembered Kate as a swaggering, domineering badass in a motorcycle jacket. Beckett came in light and springy as a summer day, wearing a light-toned pantsuit with a purple silk blouse underneath, hair flowing straight down her back. "Alexis! God, you've grown! You have a growth spurt in the last week?"

"Just started wearing high heels." Alexis returned the hug Kate greeted her with.

"Your dad buys you high heels?" Kate clapped Alexis on the back as she broke away. Her smile was condescending. "How's college?"

"Traumatic. Just like the last three years."

"Try doing it with student loans to look forward to." Kate took off her jacket and hung it on the door.

"You want coffee?" Alexis marched off the landing of her hotel room like she was giving Kate the slip.

"Oh my God!" Kate exclaimed, clearly meaning she was surprised that Alexis didn't drink juice boxes.

"Stop! I get enough of that from my dad. If I didn't have an Amazon wishlist, he'd still give me Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures for Christmas."

As she went in the kitchen to get the snack tray she'd prepared, Alexis quickly checked her reflection in the metallic refrigerator. Charcoal-gray blazer, pale blue Oxford shirt with the buttons undone just enough to be womanly, Capri pants, and uber-comfy Skechers. She looked becomingly professional. Perfect.

Alexis went back into the main room to find Kate sitting by the window, one leg folded over the other, looking far more like a debonair playboy on a policeman's salary than Richard Castle did with all his millions.

"So," Kate nestled her hands together on her lap, "how's this work?"

Alexis took her seat across from Kate, setting the tray on the table between them. "Well, I'm not writing a book about you, just a dissertation, so it's just an interview, not... five years of being besties."

"Rick told you about our BFF necklaces?" Kate gasped, barely sarcastic.

"You're not gonna get me." Alexis had sworn to herself that she wouldn't fall for any of Kate's jokes.

The detective played quietly coy, reaching out to open the can of Diet Pepsi Alexis had brought her.

"What's your dissertation about, Ms. Castle?"

"Oh, metafiction, fantasy versus reality, stories within stories—" Alexis mimed jerking off. "You wouldn't be interested."

"I don't know about that. I've always found you interesting enough."

Alexis felt like giggling under the force of Kate's fond stare. Childhood worship came rushing back to her—the kind of crush where you didn't know if you wanted to be with someone or be them, their persona was so inherent to your identity. Nowadays, Alexis knew who she was and who she wanted to be.

She wanted to be strong, like Kate.

Alexis took her forty-gig pocket recorder out, seeing it alongside the snack tray and turning it on. "Okay, we are rolling—I want this to be really informal, so don't even think about that being there." Then she took out pen and trusty notepad.

"Still an overachiever." Kate's nose scrunched with her smile.

"Sorry."

"Don't be. Mediocrity made the world the way it is. We should try to fix it."

Overeager, Alexis jotted down a note. Kate kept smiling.

"Okay. Ms. Beckett," Alexis teased. "First question. Do you still read the Nikki Heat books?"

Kate nodded softly, casually, and Alexis was glad she hadn't hurt her feelings. "Yes. When I have time. I have a deal with myself to wait for the paperbacks, but I break it often enough."

"And do you interact at all with the fanbase?"

"I have a Twitter account. It's good PR for the department, letting people know about charities, outreach programs—I don't mind chatting with a few shippers in exchange."

"So you're aware of the series' gay fanbase?"

Kate reached out, picked up a celery stick, pushed it into the spinach dip, and took a bite before she leaned back. "Yup."

Alexis made a note. "Did you know my—the author was going to have your character enter into a relationship with another woman?"

"Well, firstly, she's not my character, Alex. It's not like I play her in a movie. She was inspired by me, but there's a lot of things that I do that Nikki Heat doesn't do, or that she's done that—I have no idea where Castle got it from," she grinned amusedly.

"So you've never broken up an international spy ring while dressed in drag?"

"No. And there are a lot of personal aspects of my life that Castle didn't incorporate into the books because it was private. It's selling him short as a writer to think that all he did with the Nikki Heat series was follow me around and transcribe what I said. He's... very creative."

Alexis set down her pen and paper, picked up a Diet Coke. She opened it, had some trouble with the fizz, slurped it up. "Uh, you know you don't have to answer any of these? If you're not comfortable with a line of questioning or whatever—"

"Alex, your e-mail made it pretty clear what we were going to talk about. It's fine. I'm ready. I'd rather you tell people about it than some spray-tan idiot at one celebrity gossip site or another."

"Okay then." Alexis drank. "Right. So is your sexuality one of the things you share with the character of Nikki Heat?"

Alexis thought Kate's smile was a bit wry, a little wistful. "Well, sorry to say I don't get nearly as much action as she does—hard to afford all those pink martinis on a cop's salary—but I am bisexual."

"And did that inspire Nikki Heat's relationship or do you think the author came up with it on his own?"

Kate shifted in her chair. "I'm not really sure. I know Rick introduced the character of Bella St. Claire just intending her to be another kooky character, but the fans really liked the friendship between the two women—I may have mentioned that I thought she was adorable—Castle was the one who ran with it. I did have some very intense relationships with other women in my college years and at the academy, but I wasn't really relationship material in the end, you know? I'd been single for a long time when I met your dad."

"So the Nikki-Bella relationship, was it inspired by any of your relationships?"

Kate laughed. "Alex, not with a gun to my head would I tell your father anything about me and lesbian flings. No, I just corrected a few details, sent him some pointers, recommended some reading. I'm not taking credit, I was like Gandalf with Bilbo. Barely involved."

"But Gandalf did all the work."

"Alex?"

"Yeah?"

"I really wanna eat some more of those little crackers you got, but I'm gonna feel enormously guilty unless you do too, so—eat up."

They got pretty in-depth over the next two hours, walking each other through the books of 'The Bella Trilogy' as many fans now called them. Kate cackled upon being told that a lot of the femslashers didn't even bother with the books prior to Bella's introduction—the ones where Nikki was involved with a journalist named Jameson Rook. They'd split up around the same time Castle had moved to Calgary—the one timeframe Kate didn't want to discuss.

After Alexis shut the recorder off and put away her notepad, Kate grabbed some beers for them from the fridge. Alex had bought them on a hunch. They drank on the room's balcony, watching nighttime New York turn on the lights.

"Hey, Kate, can I ask you something? Off the record?"

Kate toasted her. "Here's to off the record."

Alexis took that as a yes. "Why didn't things work out with you and my dad?"

Kate shrugged less than eloquently, blowing her cheeks out. "Was never really anything to work out."

"Come on. I saw the way he looked at you. He had a bigger crush on you than I had on Liam Payne."

Kate put her beer can down on the ground and rubbed her arms for warmth. It was breezy so far off the ground. "Honestly? I did—momentarily—have a bit of a thing for him. But it was just never the right time. It never developed. And finally, we just parted ways. Ships passing in the night, I guess. Life's like that, Alex. We tell ourselves things are inevitable or fate or meant to be, but so often, all it takes is one little push—one butterfly flapping its wings—maybe in some other dimension, there's some Kate Beckett pregnant with a little baby Castle because her alarm clock didn't ring one morning or something silly like that. Or maybe in every possible universe, we cross paths and nothing happens. It's a crapshoot, Alex. All I know is, I'm happy right now, this way, and I don't know any other way I'd like to be."

"I'm glad. I never really wanted you and my dad to get together. I just wanted you to be happy. Sometimes, you seemed kinda sad. You don't anymore."

"Your dad did help me, Alex. He was a really good friend and he showed me how to enjoy life a bit more than I used to. But I can't see myself with him." Kate picked up her beer again, drank steadily. "What about you?"

"I can't see myself with my dad either. This isn't Game of Thrones."

Kate rolled her eyes. "Have, you, met anyone? You seemed really serious about that guy during college prep, what was his name—"

"Don't ask me, I can't remember either." Alexis ran a hand through her hair. "I have not had much time for relationships. Harvard doesn't let me get away with a lot of spare time."

"That's a shame. You don't want to work too hard, Alex."

Alexis drank. It seemed like the thing to do with the sun going down. "I'm... open to it. I put myself out there, some. I just don't go trawling for it like some people do. I don't think you have to. When you meet the right person, and you're the right person for them, you just sorta know. Things start happening."

"Nice theory, Alex. Not my experience." Kate checked her phone. "Anymore beers and I'll need a taxi; and if I get back now, I can show up for work in the morning with only minor sleep deprivation. Have you got enough for your dissertation?"

"It's a start."

"Well, call me if you need anything. You're way more fun to hang out with than you give yourself credit for."

"I head back on Monday. Maybe you could stop by over the weekend?" Alexis pulled out her wallet. "Here. Take my spare key. Show up anytime, I'm just going to be enjoying room service and typing my fingers off."

"I'll see if I can find time." Kate wagged the card key. "People in this town have a bad habit of getting killed and needing me to find out why."

***

She jinxed herself with that. The next morning, three people were found dead in Central Park, eyes gouged out, tongues painted blue, and the murder weapon apparently a medieval axe. Castle would've loved it. She ended up working all through Saturday and Sunday, finally getting a warrant just before the judge went to bed and arresting a perp deep in the AM. Thankfully, Monday was her day off. She unplugged the alarm clock and slept past noon. It was only after she'd eaten a grossly misnamed breakfast that she thought of Alexis.

She tried Alex's phone, but went to voicemail. Feeling like shit, she drove out to the hotel. Her card key still worked on the lock, so she let herself in. And found Alexis asleep at her writing desk, conked out before her laptop. Kate hadn't been the only one to pull an all-nighter.

Kate put a blanket on her and managed to cajole her into accepting a cushion under her head. In the process, she saw plane tickets back to Harvard. They were for seven o'clock. Alex didn't have long to pack. But one look at the girl and Kate couldn't bear to wake her.

So, she decided to pack for her. It was pretty easy. Alex had packed light, though like her father, she couldn't resist bringing along a barrage of little knickknacks that 'helped her write'. Kate dutifully wrapped them up for the trip back. She was just about to start on the clothes—Alexis was the only person she knew who put her clothes in the hotel cabinets on trips. Then the laptop started beeping.

Alex stirred, moaning and grumbling in her sleep while Kate hurried to her side. She grabbed up the laptop, looking for an off-switch, but who knew if Alex had saved her work? No, it was running low on power and needed to be plugged in.

Kate looked around, trying to cover up the computer's speakers. She saw an AC adapter plugged into the socket by the bed. Kate hurried to it, plugging the attached cord into the laptop. It stopped beeping, the screen happily lighting up and the little battery icon starting to fill again. Kate sighed in relief, looking over for confirmation that Alex had gone completely back to sleep.

She sat down on the bed, deciding to help Alexis out by saving her work in case of any other catastrophe. Then she saw what it was Alexis was working on.

***

Alexis woke up with the unpleasant sensation of drool on her cheek. She scrubbed at it with the outside of her hand and looked for her screensaver, only to panic when her laptop was missing. She looked around frantically; it was worse than missing. Her laptop was with Kate. Kate Beckett was on her bed. Kate Beckett was using her laptop.

"Hey!" Alexis cried, nearly tipping out of her chair. She got up on sluggish legs to snag the laptop from Kate. The detective held it out to her. "That is—that's private!" Angry as she was, she lost herself in a yawn.

"I just wanted to look over your work. I was quite a good student back in the day. Thought I'd be able to give you some pointers." Sitting on the bed, Kate's legs hung off the side. "What's Nilla, Alex?"

Alexis hugged the closed laptop to her chest. "It's what some shippers call the Nikki/Bella relationship. It's a portmanteau. Like Bennifer."

"Shippers." Kate nodded. "I've heard about them. I thought you meant people who hoped Nikki and Bella would get married. Not people who wrote the wedding night."

Alexis blanched, her face going even paler than her red hair would suggest. "You cannot—dig into this, Kate, I cannot be the person who outed this to the Nikki Heat!"

"Why do you have this stuff bookmarked, Alex? Why do you have tabs open to tags like—'Pokemon AU' and 'Everyone Is Poly Because Black Heat'?"

"It's research! For the dissertation!" Alexis backpedaled, even as Kate held still. "It's really interesting, how Nikki Heat is based off you, and then people base these stories off Nikki Heat—like how Fifty Shades of Gray was based on Twilight? I wanted to get my essay done before I left, then ask you a few questions—very carefully chosen questions—so that people could see all the differences between these incarnations of, of you!"

"Well, I certainly haven't ever had anal sex, 'Nikki Heat Is An Anal Slut' tag to the contrary."

"They don't mean anything by it!" Alexis protested, hitting the wall ass-first. "It's not, it's not you, it's Nikki Heat, their vision of Nikki Heat. And it's beautiful, really—they use my father's work as a jumping off point, and they tell these stories that are funny and scary and sexy—"

"Does Castle know about this?"

"He, uh..." Alexis bit her lip. "He has a tumblr account and sometimes he reblogs stuff but he doesn't want his headcanon Nikki Heat to be invalidated so he really doesn't interact much with the fandom."

"So he knows."

"He gave me the idea," Alexis admitted.

"Wait, tumblr?" Kate's hands tightened on the bedspread under her. "I went to the Nilla tag. They have pictures of me—of me, Alexis... and I'm Photoshopped to look like I'm—"

"That's just a few hardcore fans!" Alexis insisted. "You're their Nikki Heat face-claim, but that's just them, everyone else agrees that you're off-limits and... most of them think Scarlett Johansson should play you, actually."

Kate raised an eyebrow. "Well, that's flattering. And it explains the gifs from Under The Skin."

Alexis forgot herself. "Yeah, when that hit Blu-Ray, everyone got really pumped because Eva Green is Belle St. Clair and she gets naked all the time, so people use that in their gif sets, but they didn't have anything to use it with because ScarJo never did nudity until that movie, so Fuckyeahpervyfangirls made this really great manip—"

"People think my sex life is Scarlett Johansson and Eva Green boning?" Kate asked in sheer disbelief.

"Not you, Nikki Heat. Fuck, why do I have to do this before coffee?" Groaning in frustration, Alexis set down her laptop. "Look, it's not a reflection on you, it's not people stalking you, okay, I promise you—I've talked to them. Really, you barely come up. People just use you for a few headcanons and maybe an avatar here and there."

"If it's not that bad, why didn't you tell me?"

"Because I didn't want you to freak out!"

"Freak out?" Kate stood. "I've got a couple thousand people fantasizing about me having lesbian sex. It's like being a pop star in China and not knowing it."

"Kate, you would not believe the hope and the inspiration that Nikki Heat—this Nikki Heat—brings to the fans. She's not a porn star, there are, like, seven hundred thousand word fics about her solving cases with Bella or running a coffee shop or fixing cars, and the thought that it has some basis in truth... there are people it really means a lot to. Gay kids in bad places who get by thinking that someday, they could have that. That they could be as strong as you."

"So now I'm a gay icon." Kate leaned against the wall. "Holy hell."

Her lip compressed between her teeth so hard that discolor marched down Alexis's mouth, the redhead scooted over to the wall and hunched before Kate. "Listen. Please, just forgot all about this. Don't try to stop it or censor it or tell people how awful they are. They've been really good about not intruding on your privacy or creeping on you and—if you're angry, take it out on me. I'm as bad as the rest of them. Trying to get an A out of it."

Kate blinked a couple times before rubbing at her tired eyes. "So it's harmless?"

"Absolutely harmless. I promise. A lot of them actually make an effort to support the charities you endorse; their way of giving back to you for giving them Nikki Heat."

"Well, that's something at least." Kate full-on ground her hand into her eye. "Why is all of it about sex, though?"

"It's not all sex."

"I read it, Alexis. Fourteen stories—'alternate universes,' or whatever—and every story, Nikki meets Bella, they banter for not ten minutes, and then I'm bent over a table. How easy do they think I am?"

Now Alexis colored the other way. "Well, uh—was it AFF?"

"AFF?"

"Adult Fan Fiction dot net. It's an archive for... adult-themed fics. They split off from Fanfiction Dot Net proper when they banned po—adult-themed fics."

"So there's so much pornography about me that it gets its own separate website from the stories that are just about me in high school. Great. When it comes to porn, there's me and then there's Lisa Ann."

"Hey, c'mon..." Alexis tried to laugh it off. "It's not all that badly written."

"I never said it was badly written. I just said it's ridiculous how fast Nikki and Bella fall into bed. They may be gay, but they're gay women. Not dudes. At least, except in a few stories."

"Oh, did you read A Department Divided by Mary-Lou?" Alexis asked brightly. "That's a classic. It has fan art like—somebody cut together a fake movie trailer where Daniel Craig is Nick Heat and Benedict Cumberbatch is Bill St. Clair..."

"Nice," Kate said sardonically. "Real nice. Is there just a religion devoted to me or does this madness have an end?"

Alex had seen enough arguments between Kate and her father to know that kind of sarcasm presaged acceptance. She reached out and patted Kate on the shoulder.

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