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17 June 2010 @ 10:46 am
Fic: Determined Spirits, part one  
Determined Spirits
A V-Castle Crossover
Pairing: Beckett/Demming
Rating: ADULT
Wordcount: 30K (this part 5K)
Continuity/Notes: AU, but before "Deadly Game" and pre-series for V. I also basically created my own V society and biology. And it is probably important to note that Michael Trucco played both Tom Demming and John May, and that inspired this whole thing.

Summary: It begins with a robbery-homicide. That's the last time anything is ordinary.

Kate took deep breaths and stretched, feeling deliciously loose and content as the aftershocks faded from their early morning wake-up call.

Beside her Tom breathed out. "I could do that all day."

"Oh yeah?" she propped her head up and looked at him. His eyes were closed and the look on his face was meditative. "You could? All day?" She reached out to trail a lazy finger down the middle of his chest with appreciation.

He cracked open his eyes, grinning. "Well, most of the day. I'm not superman." She made a face of pretended disappointment. But then his grin faded, as he closed his eyes and took a deep breath again. "That is such a good feeling."

"Oh, yes," she agreed.

He stirred a little to hold her hand and tug her closer, so she put a leg over his and her arm across his chest, practically draped across him. He hummed in pleasure. "Mm, you're warm."

His free hand caressed down her back slowly and the curve of her hip and leg as if he couldn't get enough of touching her.

He was cooling already, so it was pleasant to lay there and listen to him breathe. It had been too long since she'd spent a night so pleasurable and fun. Tom had definitely lived up to the promise that had been tacit in their wrestling - he knew what he was doing and seemed to enjoy making her feel as much as he could.

"We do have to get up and go to work eventually," she reminded him.

He put a hand to his forehead and gave a little cough. "I think I'm feverish. And I need someone to take care of me while I'm sick. How about it, Doctor Beckett?" He looked up at her with a hopeful face.

She smiled but shook her head. "Work, Demming. Bad guys don't put themselves in jail."

"That's very inconsiderate of them." He pouted and she leaned in, unable to resist the humor in those bright eyes. They kissed until she pulled away, knowing they really were going to have to call in sick if she didn't start making a move to get up.

"You want the shower first?" he asked. "The blue towel's clean, I promise."

"Thanks." She gathered up her clothes and took them to the bathroom. It was definitely a bachelor pad bathroom, with not a spare toothbrush or any scents that weren't woodsy, but she made do. She was going to have to stop by her place and change, or she'd never hear the end of it.

When she emerged, Tom had slipped into his boxers and was sitting at the dining table in front of his laptop, typing away. She stood in the doorway a moment, admiring. Somehow he looked larger without his clothes and definitely fitter. She was pretty sure there were laws against those shoulders. "All yours," she said.

Without looking away from the screen, he said, "Great, thanks. The water's hot if you want tea or there's instant coffee in the cabinet."

Oh, right, she forgot he didn't drink coffee. "Freak," she muttered.

His lips twitched. "I don't usually eat breakfast, but there's toast, if you want."

"You run a shabby hotel, Demming," she teased and came up behind him. "I'll manage. What are you typing?"

"I have a blog," he answered. "This is a draft of what I'm going to post later. I wanted to get it down, while I had the words."

"A blog?" she asked. "Really? You talk about cases?"

He shook his head. "Not at all. I talk about... I don't know, life? Living? I know it sounds pretentious, but how I live my life is very important to me. To take each moment and feel it as it comes. As fully as I can."

He said the words with a somber earnestness that she hadn't heard from him yet, and he didn't act embarrassed by it, clearly meaning every word deeply. She nodded and bent closer, leaning on his back to look over his shoulder at the screen.

She read: "Yesterday I saw a man and his daughter on the sidewalk. She was small, maybe three years old, and she was sobbing. The man was trying to calm her, patting her hair and her back. I couldn't tell if she was unhappy or she was hurt, so I stopped to ask if they needed help. The man shook his head and answered that she had lost her stuffed animal. It was precious to her - It wasn't an inanimate object, not to her. To her it was her baby, a playmate, a friend who would never leave her. Except this friend had left her after all and she felt sadness. We, as thinking feeling people, need to cultivate that sense of attachment to other people, to things we care about, and especially to this planet we live on. Love is our birthright and our bliss. And no one should try to take it from you."

The words seemed to have some sort of physical weight pressing on her. If asked, last night, she would've said Tom Demming was a good cop, an attractive and intelligent man, and a fun and excellent lover, but hardly thoughtful. This was evidence of something deeper. She had the brief thought he was writing it to impress her, but they'd already slept together so it wasn't as if he needed to pretend to anything to get her back in the sack. But she was impressed anyway. "This is the kind of thing you post?" she asked.

He shrugged. "Sometimes. Sometimes it's what I ate for dinner. Sometimes it's going to the park or listening to music." He closed the laptop's lid and turned with a smile. "Sometimes it's the beautiful woman I saw punching the crap out of a bag."

She had to return his smile, feeling warm from his words though she knew he was trying to distract her from his hobby. "Oh, you are smooth," she murmured but bent down to kiss him anyway. Her hands slid down his bare shoulders, very tempted to do more because he had on no clothes, but forced herself to let go. "You better go shower."

He pulled himself away with a reluctant groan. "I think I'll have to write about the evil woman who's making me go work, when all I want to do is stay in bed with her all day," he muttered, meaning to be heard as he padded to the bathroom.

"Hurry up," she retorted, smiling.

While he was using the bathroom, she made herself Nescafe from the jar she found behind six different kinds of tea, and opened the fridge to see if there was something to put in it. Not surprisingly, it was pretty bare inside. There was an unopened quart of milk, but the expiration date was two weeks ago. Making a face, she left it on the counter. He was such a guy -- sour milk, no vegetables, but there was a six pack of beer and the steaks and chicken were fresh.

Shaking her head, she went back to the dining table/desk, which was stacked with case files, mail, his laptop, and a plastic animal cage where he kept his pet mice. She leaned down to find them, smiling when she saw them all curled together in a cute little ball of fluff in their wooden shavings. She tapped the plastic, but none of them stirred from their sleep.

She wandered over to his bookshelves. The organization seemed haphazard, with the Dalai Lama's books standing next to books on WWII, and poetry compendiums shelved beside books on modern weapons. There wasn't a single copy of any Richard Castle novel or any other novel anywhere in the collection that she could see.

The pictures on the wall were a matching pair - one of some forest with big trees and the light slanting down to the forest floor, and the other, a city at night where the skyscrapers were in a similar position to the trees. A third picture was of the Earth, taken from space. The only personal photo in the whole place was of him receiving his detective's shield. There were no pictures of his family or anything from his past, at all. And she frowned, wondering what had happened that he had cut himself off from them so completely.

She had a glimpse of him with a towel around his waist as he emerged from the bathroom to cross to the dresser. She licked her lips in remembrance. Even if it never went anywhere, there was no regretting last night.

He came out of the bedroom shrugging into his suit jacket, with his badge and gun already on his belt. "Ready to go?" he asked. "I assume you want to get home and change first?"

She nodded. "That way you can go in first. Let's keep this between us. The guys... they'll never leave it alone."

He let out a little snort of agreement. "Yeah, I don't need the gossip either. No problem. Though you know Esposito's already got a pool going, right?" He got a paper cup out of the cabinet and poured water in it from the electric pot on the counter, choosing a tea bag, and then lifting it to sniff at it with deep appreciation.

She didn't know, but she wasn't surprised. Esposito got a pool going on just about anything. She gestured to the cage. "I didn't ask last night-- what are their names?"

He glanced at them as if he'd forgotten they were there. "Names?" He paused and answered with a little smile, tapping the cage wall, "The mother is Anna. The second one I got turned out to be a boy, and now there are too many to name."

She laughed. "There are only six."

"You know that phrase, 'breed like rabbits'? Mice are worse. I give the extra back to the pet store. At least the reptiles eat well," he answered with a bit of a smile.

She felt sort of queasy at the thought that Tom was knowingly breeding mice to feed to other pets, but shrugged it off and changed the subject. "I couldn't help but notice there aren't any photos of your family," she said.

"Detecting, Detective Beckett?" he teased, in a weak effort to turn the question aside.

"It means something," she answered. "You know that. I wanted to know what, so I don't put my foot in it."

He acknowledged her point with a nod. "It means..." his face grew still and his eyes went distant, staring into some hurtful memory. "We don't get along. They're not like me and they don't approve of how I live my life. So I left them, a long time ago."

Though confused about how any family couldn't approve of a son who wrote blog posts about how people needed to care for each other more and whose day job was being a police officer, the set of Tom's jaw and the way he turned to the door told her he wasn't interested in pursuing the topic any further.

When she got to the station after stopping at her place, she found Tom already waiting with a small folder he waved at her, smiling enthusiastically. "I have a case. And, since it includes a homicide, chief has already suggested we team up."

"Let me guess," Castle said from the door. "The museum robbery?"

Kate turned to frown at him. "Museum robbery?"

"Uh, yeah," Tom said, sounding disappointed that Castle had stolen his thunder about telling her about the case. "How did you hear about it?"

"I got a call from the mayor," Castle said. "Two paintings and one dead security guard at the Museum of Fine Art."

"Right, that's the one." He frowned and shook his head. "I don't even know what was stolen yet."

"Well, then, we'd better get over there," Kate suggested.

* * *

Tom glanced aside at Kate, as they walked up the stairs to the museum. She was so vibrant, as if she glowed within her own life. He had written a post about that and the feeling of wanting to get to know someone better from that first sight. He had the odd impulse to tell her the truth. Not that he would, but he thought she'd be able to handle it.

She glanced back, and raised her eyebrows in silent question. He smiled at her, as if he'd been thinking of last night and this morning, and her question turned to a disapproving glare and she marched ahead of him.

He dropped his eyes to watch her walk, appreciating the movement of her hips and how confidently she walked in her boots.

"So," Castle started, coming up next to him. "How's it going?"

He slanted a look at Castle, suspicious of the sudden chattiness. "Fine. This looks like a great case. Most of mine are stop-and-robs, not stolen Old Masters."

Castle didn't rise to the bait of the case. "I called around, and nobody had anything but good things to say about you. C'mon, you gotta have some skeletons in your closet, or at least some vices? Nobody's that pure."

Tom smiled a little. Oh, if you only knew... "I don't know about pure, but I'm pretty boring. I try to live like a decent human being, as much as I can." And in my free time I try to inspire others of my race to embrace freedom and live their lives as decent human beings as well.

"There must be something," Castle persisted. "You eat kittens? You cheat at cards? You didn't send flowers for Mother's Day?"

"I've never eaten kittens." Though Tom was amused by how close Castle's little joke was to the truth. "I don't need to cheat at cards. And I never sent my mother flowers." His amusement died away at the memory. Anna had killed his mother. He had felt nothing but the mildest regret at the time and still couldn't muster up any sadness, though he had been one of her top warriors and fought hard for her. But as soon as the Bliss had broken, he had added that death to his mental list of things that Anna was wrong about.

"Well, there you go. I knew there had to be something wrong with you," Castle said, sounding smug but grinning, too, that he was teasing.

Kate was waiting for them at the top of the steps and had heard their talk. Knowing about his 'family issues', she changed the subject. "He's a writer, too, Castle, did you know that?"

"Really?" Castle asked, trying for neutral interest, but not quite hiding his irritation. "No kidding."

"It's a blog," Tom answered with a shrug, trying to brush it off. The last thing he needed was Castle poking his nose in any deeper. "It's no big deal."

"I read a bit of it," Kate continued, more to needle Castle than listen to Tom's desire to drop it. "It's very good. Inspiring."

Tom shot a look at Kate and tried for embarrassed. "Thanks, but it's a hobby. Daily life ruminations. It's not all that exciting."

But now neither of them were going to let it go. "I'd love to take a look," Castle said. "I could hook you up with an agent, if it's good. I can see it now --" he said with an expansive gesture, "how about, "Chicken Soup for the Detective Soul" maybe?"

That made him laugh, and then laugh again, thinking what he would call it. 'John May's Guide to Breaking the Addiction of Bliss and Learning to Live Free'. Too bad the audience was so small. Not to mention anyone buying the book would probably get killed.

Aloud, he answered, "Oh, no, thank you. Last thing I want is for my mutterings to be published."

"But if you put them online you want readers, right?" Castle persisted, following him closely as they went in the front doors. "And publishing online to a paper format is all the rage right now. I mean, look at that Julia Child blog-- it got made into a movie."

"Look, it's not that interesting, Castle. Sorry." Hoping that was enough to get both of them to drop it, he added, "Ah, that's Devon Sills, the museum director. Come on."

He walked off, hearing Castle complain, "But I want to read it! Beckett, tell me you remember the address?"

He felt amused as he went to do his job.

They spent a few hours at the museum checking the scene and learning about the stolen paintings, but as Beckett wrapped it up with Sills, Tom wandered back into the gallery. The empty spaces on the wall were obvious, and the evidence collection markers made it all seem wrong. His eyes swept over the Monet at the end, to look at the painting of the two children playing on the beach by Cassatt.

Beckett's footsteps moved across the hard floor toward him. "Hey, you done? We're ready to go back to the station."

"Yeah," he agreed but didn't move yet. "I love this painting. It's the very essence of humanity to me, somehow."

She turned to look at it with a frown. "Kids?" she asked.

"Children playing. Something I didn't get to do," he admitted. Which was true, if a deep understatement. There was no play, for anyone. They weren't supposed to need diversion, because 'fun' wasn't something they should feel.

Her gaze moved to rest on him, not the painting. "Oh. That sounds sad."

"That's why I left. Among other reasons." He turned from the painting and they started back toward the main entrance. "I'm wondering whether the security guard interrupted the theft, or it only looks that way. It seemed awfully... staged, didn't it?"

She nodded. "Yes. I'm thinking he was the inside man they decided to get rid of. We'll have to do a background. Castle thinks we should look for the buyer, too, in case someone paid to have them stolen."

"Yeah, makes sense. I have some contacts who might be able to help figure out who could pull a job of this complexity." He and Kate headed for the archway, when he stopped and turned around again to look at the gallery.

"What is it?" she asked.

"I ... don't know," he murmured. He looked over the room, high above to the false skylight, the painted walls, the paintings that remained, and the two empty slots. He couldn't figure out what was wrong. "I've been in this gallery probably twenty times in the past few years. There's something different."

"You mean besides the missing paintings and the CSU team's crap lying around?" she asked.

"Besides that," he agreed. But the more he looked the less he seemed to see. "Damn it. I don't know what it is."

She patted his shoulder. "Let it rest. It'll come to you."

He shook his head, irritated, and turned away. "At least they didn't take my painting. That'd piss me off."

She frowned and turned to look again. "Mary Cassatt, right? And that's a freaking Monet. Why the hell didn't the thieves take them, too? Aren't they even more valuable?"

"There are two dozen haystack paintings," he told her as they started back toward the front. "So maybe that one isn't all that valuable comparatively, but it's still a Monet. I don't know. I'll have to ask some experts."

In the entrance lobby there was a group of people milling around, getting told that the museum was closed for the day. He scanned the twenty people, wondering if any of them might be the thief coming back to gloat.

A young man standing off to the side was staring at him, eyes wide in shock and disbelief. The instant their eyes met, Tom realized he'd been recognized and his breath froze in his chest. He put a hand on his holster, wishing he could shoot right now. But he couldn't; he was going to have to get rid of Kate and draw the agent somewhere else to kill him before he could contact anyone else.

Then it got worse, when the kid murmured, "Dad?"

The adult features fell into a familiar pattern that he'd last seen ten years ago, and he blurted, "James?"

That slip was enough for James to know he was right. "Dad!"

Fuck. The full horror fell on him, then. James now knew it was a lie.

But the lie had been to protect them both, and all that could be undone now that James had seen him. He turned abruptly, hurrying the other way, back past the security cordon.

"Tom?" Kate tried to follow in confusion, and he heard James as well, "Dad? Wait!"

As soon as he was out of sight, he burst into a sprint, cursing the huge galleries which left no exits and no place to hide. Damn it. Then he found the narrow hall with the coat check and the restrooms. Without hesitation, he ran into the women's room.

It was empty, and he waited, wondering if James would follow or if security would block him. When nothing happened, the panic faded. He took deeper breaths, calming down.

He stood there in the glare of the white lights of the empty bathroom, looking at himself in the mirror.

Sometimes he forgot that everything he saw was a mask. It had become familiar, and it was something that was now his own, but it was still a mask. Underneath the skin was his own blood and flesh and bone, and eyes that saw more colors and a heart that pumped blood that wasn't human. This face was a lie.

But the lie that hurt the worst of all was the one he had done to James. After everything James had taught him about the value of life and love, he'd given the son he loved a father's false suicide in exchange.

His phone buzzed and he picked it up to see Kate's text. WHERE R U?

Praying James wasn't with her, he texted back: women's room, and pushed send.

Then, in the little time it would take for her to reach him, he thought about what he could tell her.

The door slammed open. He could see in the mirror that at least she was alone.

"What the hell was that?" she demanded. "And what are you doing in here?"

"I figured it wasn't the first place anyone would look," he answered, with a shrug.

She put her hands on her hips, not mollified. "What's going on? That kid called you 'dad' and you ran away from him."

"I know," he murmured and shut his eyes, but didn't wish the pain away. Grief and guilt were emotions, and ones he had to experience, too. "I should've bluffed it out, but I was surprised. He... he has to believe I'm dead, Kate. For his own safety."

"What? Your own son?"

"He's not mine by blood, but when he was a child, I was with his mother. I loved him like my own. But..." He stopped, took a deep breath, and turned to her to explain as truthfully as he could, "My family are terrible people and I wanted nothing to do with them. But ten years ago, that life found me anyway. I was afraid they'd kill James and his mother. I had to leave them. As far as they've known since then, I was dead. Until he saw me today." He let out a breath and tried not to think of how much danger James might put himself in if he started blabbing about how he'd seen his former step-dad. "Shit."

Kate listened and then asked, sounding shocked, as she put it together, "You're under witness protection?"

He paused and said, "Any answer I could give you would be a lie. So don't ask." The implication that he was in formal witness protection wasn't true, but it was certainly true that he was never going to be able to tell her the real truth about his past.

She thought about that and nodded, before demanding incredulously, "And you came to New York to hide?"

Which did sound stupid when she put it that way. "There aren't that many people who would recognize me. It was a risk. Of course, I never considered the little boy I remember, would grow up and move to the big city." He tried to smile wryly, while running through the scenarios in his head. As long as James didn't tell anyone, he'd be safe, and surely he'd come looking for "John May" first, and get stymied by the wrong name.

But that was a dangerous name to be tossing around. Damn it.

He turned on the water and splashed his face. If he got wind of a hunt, he'd have to disappear again. He lifted his face to look into the blue eyes which now seemed more familiar than his own. He didn't want to leave this life behind, but that was the price he paid for doing what he believed in.

"Is this going to make you leave?" she said.

He took the paper towels she handed him and dried his face. "Not if he's the only one, I don't think. But if word spreads... " It would probably take only a phone call from James to Lily that would trip the right recognition software to send someone to interrogate James and then it was a short leap to the museum robbery and the detectives assigned to the case. He let out a breath. "I have an exit plan. So if the worst happens, don't come looking."

"It's that bad?" she asked.

He laughed, a little bitterly. "Oh, it's worse. You shouldn't know this much."

"They would come after a NYPD detective? Seriously?"

"They would come after the pope."

She laughed, as if it were a joke, but when she saw the look on his face, she folded her hand around his and squeezed, surprising him with her gesture of compassion. "It'll be okay." Then she smiled at him. "Well, Castle was right, I guess. You were a bit too good to be true."

He stared at the mirror again, thinking of James and Lily. They certainly wouldn't be thinking he was good, after he'd abandoned them. "Yeah."

"Hey," she tugged him around to face her. "Y'know, it's okay, right? I don't mind a man with a mysterious past..." She tilted her head to kiss him, taking advantage of their solitude, with her hands sliding around his waist.

Her touch was a welcome solace and her scent was calming. He leaned into her, resting his head against hers. Of all the things he would miss if he had to run, she was the newest, but also what he would miss the most. He let her hold him up for a moment, before pulling away. "Let's go out the back way."

They left the museum through the door at the loading dock.

James was waiting for them. Tom felt a surge of pride -- the boy was smart.

This time, Tom didn't bother to run. His eyes held James' as he walked down the few steps to the street. "Hello, James."

"It really is you," James murmured, and his eyes were swimming in hurt and anger. "You're alive. You've been alive all this time."

Tom glanced in both directions in the alley to make sure no one was around, then nodded. "I -- yes. I'm sorry. I am so sorry, but I had no choice."

"Why?" James demanded and his lower lip was quivering. It about killed Tom to see him like that, as it drove home what he'd always known about how well James had taken his 'death.'

Aware that Kate was listening behind him, he asked James, "Do you remember the man who came to dinner that night?" It had been ten years, but he'd guess James had relived it in his mind, looking for clues to why his step-father had killed himself that same night. James looked briefly confused, then nodded.

Tom went on to explain, "He was there to kill me, James. He threatened to kill you and your mother unless I came quietly. I persuaded him to let me fake the suicide. I thought it would be better if I died, rather than vanish and leave you wondering what happened. I managed to escape, but ... I knew any contact with you would risk us both. So I had to go into hiding."

It was mostly the truth, and if he shut his eyes, he could see it again: standing in the dark, bidding goodbye to his life as John May.

* * *

The two watched his car go over the cliff into the sea.

"Do you feel that, Ryan?" John asked. "The wind? Can you taste the salt in it? It tastes like tears, the kind James and Lily will shed when they learn I'm dead. Tears of grief, tears of anger, of blaming themselves for not preventing this when it wasn't their fault at all. They'll never understand they changed me, and they taught me the true feeling of love. I hope you feel it, too, someday, and you'll understand that living without it isn't truly living at all."

Ryan swallowed and looked pained. John thought he had experienced Earth in the last year, enough to give him deep second-thoughts. But then he firmed up his jaw and said, "We have to go. They're expecting you. And then, John May, you will die."

"Then I'll die. But at least I've been alive. I've been whole." He turned away from the crash and held out his immolation suicide pill. It was easy enough to give away since he had something else. "Here. Let's go see Anna."

Ryan held out his hand automatically to take it, looking from the pill to John's face in confusion. "You're not going to fight me?"

"I could kill you, but why should I?" he returned calmly. "Killing you won't stop her from sending people after me until innocent humans get killed in the crossfire. I want to see her one last time, because I want to tell her my death isn't going to stop anything. I'm not forcing anyone to do anything. I might be leading the way, but our people are evolving their own nature, and the longer we're here, the truer that will be."

Ryan seemed a little reluctant as he escorted John into the shuttle. John took a deep breath of Earth air, letting that settle into his lungs, before the hatch closed. He didn't want to die, not with his work undone, but the chance for getting out of this was slim. The humans would say he had one last 'Hail Mary' pass, and if it failed, he was dead.

But that was the price he was willing to pay for the years of true bliss he'd spent with his family. And it was right that he face Anna one last time.

* * *

No one else seemed to exist in that moment when he confronted Anna. He had the strange thought that if only she were different, they could have been true mates, as humans did it, working together to change things for the better for everyone. If she had been different, he might have loved her.

If their people had been different, he might have loved his mother more and fought harder for her. She might still be alive if he'd felt something for her beyond blind adoration.

But he was glad he felt nothing for Anna but anger. She would never change. Of them all, she was the only one who didn't have to.

Anna's cold eyes looked into his. "You are a traitor." Her claws lashed across his face.

He didn't flinch or cower from her. "I've seen the truth. We can be more. We are thinking, feeling, living people, not mindless drones."

"You are an evolutionary throw-back," she hissed. "Primitive. Like these mammals."

"No, I'm what we should be," he retorted. "What we would be without your pheromones drugging everyone into passionless obedience."

"You reject the gift of Bliss?" she said. "You're not a traitor, you're insane."

He raised his voice a little, knowing he had only a little more time. "I reject your tool of control. I reject existing inside a small cold box, doing nothing, feeling nothing, when there's so much more we could learn. I embrace a new way of living."

He knew it was futile to argue with her, but then he wasn't trying to reach her. There were eight other people listening, and who knew how many could be watching from elsewhere, and he wanted them to hear.

She figured out that she'd let him speak too much. "Your heresy ends with you." She glanced at Joshua. "Skin him. Now."

"Here?" Joshua asked, with a touch of surprise.

"Yes, here. I want to watch."

John's heart lurched and he knew he had to do it now. He bit down hard, cracking the special pill he'd hidden in his cheek. He swallowed. It burned in his throat and stomach, and he gagged, nearly vomiting it up again. His guards dropped him and stepped away, as he fell to his knees.

"What's happening?" Anna snapped.

"Poison," Joshua answered.

"Stop him!" she ordered.

Joshua didn't move. "It's too late."

Fire. He had swallowed fire, and it was burning through him. He couldn't breathe.

Helplessly he choked on the fluid filling his lungs and coughed it up as bloody foam spewing from his mouth.

"Will he die?" Anna demanded and stepped away with a grimace of distaste, so it wouldn't touch her.

"He's dying now," Joshua said.

It certainly felt like dying. Still retching, he fell forward, unable to stop his fall with his hands bound behind his back, but managed to turn onto his side. He had thought he might need to put on a show of pain, to give Anna what she wanted, but it hurt so much all he could do was writhe and gasp for desperate breaths.

Anna said, "Excellent. And afterward, bring me his heart."

"As you wish, but I should warn you, the poison will contaminate his tissues. I do not recommend ingesting it."

"I see." She bent down to look into John's face. "Very well. Eliminate his body. I want nothing to remain but ashes."

The burning seemed to fade for a worse cold that crept through his muscles, freezing them rigid. He reminded himself that he knew this would happen, but it felt much more frightening than he had expected, to be on the floor, helpless, feeling his whole body come to a stop.

He didn't want to look at Joshua and give him away, so he focused on Anna, remembering what this was for. They'd had one victory mating to ensure her dominance over him after his queen's death. It should have resulted in his absolute loyalty to her; instead, it had resulted in an unexpected and precious queen egg and the first time he had felt something so deeply it had broken the Bliss.

Lisa should have been only Anna's daughter to him. Their genetic tie was only important in that Lisa would be the union of two Nests. Otherwise she was a future queen, one of the few in recent times, and that should've been all.

But she was his. The first time he'd seen her, some intense feeling rose up inside him and said she was his, and he couldn't forget.

Searing fire ripped through his nerves again, but he didn't have breath to cry out and couldn't move. His heart labored for every beat, feeling heavy and too large inside his chest.

Anna watched and looked vindictively pleased. "You could have been my right hand, John May. My defender," she murmured. "Instead, you die a traitor. And you will be forgotten."

Anna's face was blurring, the edges of his vision turning dark.

Lisa wasn't there, which was a little relief, since he didn't want to see her watch him die with not a spark of feeling on her face. He didn't know if she knew he had fathered her, not that it would matter to her. All she would care about was that a traitor was dying.

He did wish he could have seen her one last time, though.

That wistful thought was his last, as the pain tore through him again and pulled him down.

Go on to part two

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.

eta: I'm not quite done with the back half, so the next part is a few days away. But I figured I might as well let people start into it, since it's long. So, um, read?
entertaining in a disturbing waylyssie on June 18th, 2010 12:50 am (UTC)
Eeeee. I love this so hard.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 18th, 2010 02:42 am (UTC)
:D Thanks!
cujoy on June 18th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
Awesome. I really, really wanted John May to be Lisa's father. It would have been so awesome.

I love this scenario! And I wonder what Castle fandom would think of it.

Edited at 2010-06-18 02:32 am (UTC)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 18th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
I think it still might be true that he is/was her father - Joshua may know the truth. But obv I totallly agree it's awesome.

I'm a little ascared to find out what Castle fandom will think of it, but I guess I'll find out tomorrow. ;)
Rainne: Castle - Beckett - Sepia Tonexdawnfirex on June 18th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
This is very interesting. I've never watched V, but I get the gist of it from the story here, and it still makes sense to me. I look forward to the next part. Also, Beckett/Demming is hotness, though most of Castle fandom will disagree. ^_^
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 18th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC)
oh yay, one person from Castle fandom! I very nearly didn't bother at all, knowing how few people would want to read it, but I'm glad I got one! :D Castle/Demming is super hot (though admittedly as you can probably tell, I'm a Trucco fangirl, so I'd think that anyway *g*)

As we go you'll learn more about the Visitors, but I'm glad it's not too confusing at the beginning. (actually it might be a good thing since I'm making up quite a bit anyway, the tv show is pretty sparse on the details of the alien culture.)

Rainne: Castle - Beckett - Sexy Promo Shot w/ Poxdawnfirex on June 19th, 2010 12:38 am (UTC)
I agree that Castle/Demming is super-hot. I wrote a Beckett/Castle/Demming threesome based almost entirely on the premise that that much pretty naked in one room together would probably set something on fire. ^_^ And Trucco needs some fangirling. As a friend of mine likes to say, every time Demming smiles, God creates a puppy. ^_^
emmiere: Samemmiere on June 18th, 2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Mhmm, plotty, epic crossover hotness? Yes, please. I'm already having fun with this. :D

lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 19th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
yay! it was so much fun to write, I'm glad it's fun to read.
jen: v - joshua - fifth columncut_thestring on June 19th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
YEY! I like this a lot. (: Very interesting, can't wait to see what happens next!
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 19th, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC)
yay, thanks! More posted today, if you haven't seen it yet! :)
Merry F: trucco rehkaivanolix on June 19th, 2010 03:31 pm (UTC)
This is so awesome! I love the development of Demming into someone who could be John May, and making Lisa his daughter—brilliant.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 19th, 2010 08:26 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks! It was so much fun to try to put it all together!
TheAquamarine: seriously asking me?theaquamarine on June 20th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
Heehee :) I'm in the Castle fandom too, but I really liked this! And I'm a hardcore Castle/Beckett shipper, but still... Demming and Beckett is and enjoyable read, especially how you write it!
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 20th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
aw, thanks! I'm glad some shippers are having fun with it - I mean, it's Castle with ALIENS, how much more fun crack can you get right?? :)
yokotawaru: V.Joshua&104V.won't allow iton_the_ground on July 1st, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)
Bookmarking.. I have to check this out *g*
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on July 1st, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)
I'd love to hear what you think! :D