Riddler on the Roof
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
Castle walked into Beckett’s small, Manhattan apartment. He was instantly reminded of how sparse and monochromatic her furnishings were.
“For the thousandth time Beckett, please just have mercy on my eyes and let me hire a personal decorator for your place. It hurts me every time I step through this door,” he yelled out to her.
“Then stop coming over,” she yelled back from her spot on the couch. Kate had her laptop out and was going through the details of their latest case: Galen Jackson, 26, had been stuffed in with the insulation of a new house that was being built. The contractors had almost missed the body, which would’ve been hidden for an innumerable amount of years.
Rick entered her living room and saw the detective buried in wayward papers and her laptop, eyes focused and searching for clues. It was their day off today, under the captain’s orders since he’d noticed his top detective clocking in too many hours at the station. Montgomery had hoped if Beckett refused to stop working, then she might at least catch some more sleep working at home.
Castle doubted it, but he preferred hanging out at Kate’s place anyways. The decor was indeed just as bad as the precinct’s, but with less cops around to keep his good behavior in check. He also noticed, as he got closer, that apparently the detective didn’t prioritize wearing bras while at home either. It was a win-win in his eyes.
“Can I make you some coffee since I’m betting you’ve been at this all morning?” he asked.
“Sure,” her eyes didn’t leave the screen, “Castle, I’ve got a feeling that this house was chosen for some particular reason. The murderer didn’t choose one that was being commercially constructed to look like all of the other ones in the neighborhood. No, this was a house that had undergone years of planning by the Westwoods. They cared about this house, it was going to be personal, it was going to be unique and their’s.”
Rick stared off as he thought while making their coffee. He also noticed Beckett’s sad excuse of a drip-brew machine. His ideas for her birthday and christmas presents were constantly changing. Three minutes ago he’d been planning on getting her a scandinavian maltino rug for her living room, but now he realized her dire need of a Nespresso machine instead.
“There’s a lot of family pride and history that goes into a house. Scottish castles in the fourteenth century would be decorated with the family crest hanging on their flags and embroidered on clothes. It was a message of their political alliances, social status, military rank--” he ducked his head into the living room. “It’s called taking pride in your home, Beckett. I understand why this concept fathoms you, since you’re determined to live inside of a Sears clearance catalogue.”
Beckett broke herself away from her laptop screen. “Not all of us can afford six million dollar lofts, Castle.”
He handed her the coffee mug and settled in on the couch with his own. “No, but you can afford a sixty dollar end-table instead of this one that probably cost you sixteen bucks. Hell, I would’ve paid you to take that thing.”
“Shut up, Castle. You’re here to help me solve a murder, not irritate me enough to cause your own,” Beckett said firmly, but with a slight smile.
Castle smiled wickedly. “It would be an honor to become your first victim, detective. However, you’re lucky that I am thoroughly intrigued by the Jackson case and Westwood house.” He leaned in closer to get a better look at the files on her computer, and subtly wrapped an arm around Beckett in the process.
Kate froze in alarm from his nearness and intimate touch, but she was trapped with his body on one side, the cord from her computer on the other and the precarious hot coffee in her hands. She inwardly glared at her partner, somehow figuring he had planned out this exact scenario.
“Hmm, so if we focus on the house, the murderer had to have been close with either one of the contractors or the Westwood family. They would’ve also needed the skills to know where the body would be least likely to be found,” Castle theorized.
“Yeah, but the body was found. Why go through all of the trouble to climb a ladder with a body, carry it on a roof and stash it in the insulation--all without being seen, but then not hide it carefully enough? It doesn’t make sense.” Beckett tried to focus on the case, but the scent of Castle’s cologne kept distracting her.
“They were trying to send a message to the Westwoods? That the house would be haunted by dead accountants? Maybe they had a fight to pick with the contractors, so they thought business would drop if word got out that their contracts came with a free non-disclosed dead body? Oh that would be so cool if that was a thing,” Castle said eagerly.
Beckett gave him an exhausted glare. He smiled cockily back at her and noticed her perky shirt again, this time with a much closer view. Her chest began to rise and fall sharply, as her breathing sped up. He lifted a finger and swept her hair behind her ear.
“Castle--” Beckett started.
“Shh, don’t spill your coffee now, detective.” Rick looked down and back up into her eyes, along with a slight nervous smile. “We wouldn’t want to stain your lovely polyester couch now, would we?”
Kate didn’t know if she even could move at this point. But she’d be damned if she was going to lay down while this cocky millionaire dissed her furniture. “Polyester cleans up well, it’s durable and lasts a long time.”
Castle paused. The head contractor had said the same about the roofing materials. The Westwood’s had invested in a tile roofing so that it would last longer than the more traditional asphalt kind. So the body would’ve been hidden an extra possible twenty years. That answered why the murderer had chosen this custom-built house instead of just another one on the market. It also answered that their perp was more likely in contact with the contractors than the family, given the minute detail. What it didn’t answer was why the body was found at all. Bad luck, maybe?
“What is it, Castle?” Beckett asked.
Rick quickly weighed the importance of catching a murderer compared to keeping Beckett stumped and staying right where she was, on an ugly couch that would unfortunately last a long time, but under his arm. He gave in to his better half, no doubt due to Beckett’s influence on it, and explained his theory to her.
She quickly knocked his arm aside and stood up, finding the need to pace out her thoughts.
Castle sighed in regret.
“Yes that makes sense. And while that helps us, now we’ll have to narrow out all of the contractors’ contacts, which just made our pool of suspects a lot bigger,” Beckett said, illustrating her thoughts with her hands.
Castle cocked his head, hoping to grab her attention once more. “But why was the body so easily found?”
Kate stopped. “Well, we don’t know that yet,” she sighed defeatedly.
He held her mug out for her to grasp. “Let’s see if we can work it out.”
Beckett took the mug and sat back down, this time with a good amount of space between her and Castle. “The guy had all night to stash the body. Why the sloppy job?”
Rick grabbed her shoulder and turned Kate towards him. “Rapid-fire ‘If I was the murderer what would I do’ game. Go.”
“Someone saw me.”
“Then why don’t we have an eye-witness?”
“Rats. Yeah, that’s a no-go.”
“I got bit by a rat while stashing the body.”
Beckett cocked an eyebrow at him in disbelief.
Castle held up his hands. “What? It could happen. I’d ditch my plans if it happened to me. There could be a New York City slums rat out there with evidence in its system.”
Beckett rolled her eyes. “I was running late to meet someone.”
“Grabbing coffee at two in the morning?” Castle asked skeptically.
Beckett snapped her fingers. “I’d convince someone to get coffee with me at two a.m. if that meant I had an alibi, shaky as it is.”
“Sloppy body stashing, sloppy alibi. Doesn’t make sense, our killer thought out his plan strategically--he wasn’t this messy,” Castle said.
“So. He got interrupted, something went wrong,” Beckett surmised with bright eyes.
“Yes--has to be. Something he didn’t anticipate. Something he couldn’t control,” Castle agreed.
They stared at each other excitedly.
“But, at two in the morning? In a quiet Queens neighborhood?” Castle asked.
“Something...he couldn’t control. Castle, it had rained that night,” Beckett’s quiet voice surmised.
“Rain would’ve made a trip on the roof with a dead body slippery, dangerous even,” Castle continued.
They stood and stared at each other.
“He fell off the roof,” Beckett whispered.
Castle grinned. “Which would leave some pretty obvious injuries on whoever our killer is. And it would explain why the body was able to be found.”
Beckett grabbed her phone to call the precinct and tell Ryan and Esposito to start looking for injuries on their contractor suspects. “Yeah, you guys start with the top of the list, Castle and I will check the rest.” She hung up and started rummaging around for her keys and coat. “Come on Castle, we’ve got to reinterview our contractors.”
Rick sighed, knowing his window had just closed.