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19 June 2010 @ 09:29 am
Fic: Determined Spirits, part two  
Determined Spirits
Castle - V crossover

Rating: Adult

part one back here

(and now it's bonus crossover time! *g*)

Tom thought of Lisa, who he hadn't seen since she'd been a hatchling, and James, who'd opened him up to a greater world of understanding and emotion. Lisa was nearly grown now and he'd missed it all, as he'd missed James' becoming a man. It suddenly seemed like a very high price to pay -- but then, he would never have known or felt anything for them at all, if he hadn't done this. "I ... wish I could've watched you grow up," he confessed, looking at the young man standing before him. "I thought of you all the time."

Now James looked as if he was going to cry, as he blinked rapidly. "But why would anyone want to kill you?"

He shook his head in regret. "I... I was once a very different person, before I met you and your mother. I made some powerful enemies. And that's why -- "

James interrupted fiercely, "No! Don't say it. You can't tell me to forget and go home. Not after this, you owe me. You owe me my dad back, and my mom -- she's dead, did you know that? Five years ago. I had to live with my uncle and he was never half the dad you were. And I know I sound like I'm five, but... please don't go away again," he pleaded.

"Lily died?" he asked, stunned. He'd always imagined her being angry at him, but going on with her life. It felt like a heavy stone sitting on his chest, realizing she was gone. "Oh. I'm sorry, James. I didn't know."

He felt Kate's hand on his back suddenly, lightly pushing. "Give the kid a hug," she murmured.

Knowing this was a terrible idea to get re-connected, it was also a wonderful idea as he wrapped his arms around James and held him tight, inhaling his scent from his hair to bring it deep inside. "I've missed you," he whispered.

"I've missed you, too," James sniffled and wiped his face on Tom's jacket. They stood there for a few moments and then with a last pat of James' back, Tom pulled back, both hands on James' shoulders, and looked into his face.

"Now you need to listen to me," he said. "This is still incredibly dangerous. For you, and especially me. They may still be keeping an eye on you. So you can't tell anyone that you saw me. Because if you do, the best outcome is I'll have to run again. Or they'll kill me. So you can't tell, not a word. I'm working toward a day when it won't matter, but that day isn't here yet."

"I promise," James said, looking earnestly into his face. "But you won't disappear again?"

"No, I won't." He took a deep breath and squeezed James' shoulder. "I know this is hard to take in. I'm glad to see you again, but I'm so sorry that I got you mixed up in all this. It shouldn't be this way."

"Dad, I understand," James said, and John was relieved and proud at the look on James' face, but also stricken by calling him 'dad' .

"I don't deserve being called that, but thank you. It feels wonderful," Tom confessed. "I promise I'll contact you, under a name you won't know, but I'll use the word 'museum' so you'll know it's me. But please, don't come looking for me until I know the coast is clear."

James nodded, now very serious. "I get it. I -- I'm so glad you're alive."

"Not half as glad as I am to see you, James. You've turned into a fine young man, and that makes me prouder than I could ever have imagined before I met you. Now you go back around the front and you walk away, like nothing happened. Okay?"

"No, but I guess I have to. Please, don't let them win."

"I won't. Take care of yourself, James."

He watched James slowly walk away, looking back over his shoulder until he turned the corner. Then he felt Beckett at his shoulder.

"It's been ten years and you think the threat is still current?"

"These people don't forget, Kate. Not ever." But he couldn't help a small smile. "But I got away once, I can do it again."

* * *

John opened his eyes, aware he was somewhere on the ship and he felt horrible - his human skin felt too tight, and he was deeply aching everywhere as if the poison had scoured him on the inside. Every breath let like tiny, sharp claws in his lungs, and his head was pounding. But given that he shouldn't feel anything at all, he felt alive.

When he opened his mouth to talk, or maybe to groan, a hand stopped him. "Hush," Joshua said, moving close. "I know you're in some pain. I couldn't administer the antidote as quickly as I would've preferred."

"-- bought it?" he asked. His voice was raw and ragged, and it hurt like hell to talk.

Joshua nodded. "As you predicted, Anna grew bored with it once you were dead. Still, it was a close thing bringing you back."

The way he felt, John wasn't entirely sure coming back was a good thing. He'd been nearly eviscerated in battle and felt better than this. He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on breathing because he knew he was going to have to move soon.

"We have to find a way to get you off the ship. Quickly." He injected John with something and a coolness spread across the pain, muting it. "Can you rise?"

It took a moment to coordinate his limbs, but with Joshua's help he sat up. Dizziness made the room seem to whirl around him, and he gripped the edge of the table he'd been lying on to keep from falling to the floor.

"I assume you have a plan?" Joshua asked.

"I thought you would have a plan," John said and put the heels of his hands to his head, trying to push out the massive headache and think. "I didn't expect it to work."

"Anna told me to reduce you to ashes," Joshua said. "So I have at least the leeway to bring your body on the gurney toward the incinerator. I could find you a weapon and you could fight your way to the shuttle bay."

"No, that would expose you to no purpose. I couldn't fight them all anyway." With the way he felt, he doubt he could take on more than one or two. There had to be a stealthier way. "I don't suppose you have another body lying around?"

"Yes, of course," Joshua answered. "Anna has one answer to perceived treason, now that she has discovered how painful a method of execution it is. I was able to kill him first before skinning, this time."

John nodded, approving the mercy, but wishing it didn't have to be that way. "Good. Was he as notorious as I am?"

"There's no one as notorious as you," Joshua responded, with a touch of dry sarcasm that made John smile a little. But then Joshua blinked and nodded, understanding why John wanted the outer appearance of someone less known. "He was little known. But his human skin is too small to fit over yours."

"I only need his face."

"It won't bond, since the tissue is already dying," Joshua warned.

"Since I'm going to rip it off the instant I'm out of here, I don't care."

Joshua nodded slightly. "Very well. It might work." He went to the other room to prepare.

John waited, watching the outer door warily. If Anna or Marcus came in here, this was over. He might defeat Marcus on a good day, but this wasn't a good day, and he could never force himself to attack Anna, when she was the only mature queen in the Nest of the advance fleet.

Joshua returned and spread something on his skin - at first it was cold and clammy, then it started to burn. He clenched his jaw, breathing harshly through his teeth, as it felt like Joshua was dissolving the skin.

"Hold very still," Joshua warned and took the extra skin and tissue and laid it over John's face gently.

John clutched at the edge of the table on either side of him, and tried not to move, holding his breath as Joshua tried to smooth the false features over his own. He tucked the ends into John's nostrils and mouth, making him taste the bonding agent which was disgusting, but he knew that was the only way to hide the edges. It felt like plastic, like a mask, and it smelled of blood and a little bit of decay.

Joshua spent a little more time and used more of the bonding glue around his eyes, trying to get that right, then Joshua pulled his hand back and regarded him. "You don't look like him, but you don't look like you, either. There is a line at your temples and under your jaw, if anyone looks closely."

"If anyone's that close, it's going to be too late," he answered, finding that it was difficult to open his mouth to speak. At least his face had stopped feeling seared.

Joshua nodded and handed him a pile of clothes. "These were his."

John pulled the slacks and shirt on - both were too tight, made for a smaller body, and he kept his own shoes, but it would have to do.

Then they were ready. Joshua put the skinned body on the gurney and headed for the door. John stopped him with a hand. "No one must know, Joshua. Unless this fails and I truly die, but if it works, it stays a secret. I'll hide until the Arrival comes. Anna and Marcus have to believe I'm dead, so they don't come looking."

"I understand."

"Thank you. I'm glad you're with us."

Joshua's eyes met his. "To the death," he promised quietly. "I look to the day when you are Lisa's defender, John, and you can teach her how to bring us back to life."

John squeezed his shoulder. "Someday, little brother. I long for that day, too. Keep her safe."

Joshua opened the door, looked carefully for observers and pushed the sheet-covered corpse into the corridor. Without another word, he went left, and John went right, walking down the corridors. He tried to remember he was supposed to be a worker, not a defender, doing his job, feeling nothing... When the first people approached, anxiety skittered up his spine and it was hard to give way, when instinct called on him to assert his own primacy. But he dug his nails into his palm as a sharp reminder that now was not a good time to retreat to instincts, and he stepped aside, casting his eyes down and slumping to look smaller as he passed.

His disguise held, and he was glad for both Joshua's skill and, for once, Anna's policy of getting them all used to their new skins, since this would never have worked before the infiltration phase began.

His face started to itch, the bonding already starting to fail, and he hurried.

In the docking bay, he hid, considering how best to do this - openly or with stealth. Then, figuring quickness was his only ally at this point, he walked boldly up to the nearest shuttle which was preparing to depart.

The pilot glanced at him, as John sat down on the bench nearest the cockpit. "I didn't know we'd have a third passenger."

"Yes," John said shortly, and lowered his head to wait. The pilot accepted the answer, not requiring proof of orders as a human would.

Two more came on board, giving him casual dismissive glances as they sat down. John rested, knowing he was only going to get one chance at this. The female-skin drone was carrying a blade - she was a guard. He would have to take the blade first.

The pilot took them up. John tensed, wondering if his escape had been noticed, but the shuttlecraft departed the mothership smoothly. He didn't know whether they were headed to Earth or to another mothership, but it wouldn't matter once he had control of the ship.

The guard across the way said, "You. Your mammal skin is... loose. You can't go down to the surface looking like that."

"Loose?" he repeated and looked up as if he had no idea what she was talking about. "How can it be -- "

In midsentence, he launched himself off his bench, hands out to slam both of their heads back into the wall. He grabbed the handle of the blade and pulled it out of its sheath, right through the fabric of her pants and cutting her flesh. When he extended the swing, he ripped the blade across the pilot's throat.

The second drone blinked in shock but had enough time to get to his feet. "What are you -- traitor!" He managed to grab hold of John's blade hand, to keep it from him, but John's battle rage ignited, strengthened by his real anger at everything he'd lost today. Pain washed away, leaving only the kill. He grabbed the drone with his free hand around the throat and with a quick jerk, snapped his neck.

The guard was still alive and she came at him, in a hissing fury, but he swept her flailing claws aside and slammed the blade through the ribs, into the heart, and out the other side.

Then he jerked the blade free and let the corpse fall to the floor. He was breathing a little harder than he should be.

He surveyed what he'd done. For once it was a relief to let the emotions slide away, and not try to feel them. They were dead, and he was alive, and he was pleased that he'd managed to accomplish it quickly, as weakened as he was from the poisoning.

Pushing the pilot's body out of the way, he sat down to figure out how to destroy the shuttle in such a way that he could escape and the rest would disappear.

Five minutes later, he had the engine locked into maximum acceleration into the ocean. It would either disintegrate on impact or sink to the bottom, and either way, no one would be recovering obviously murdered bodies from it. He opened the hatch, and the fierce wind ripped at him. Makeshift bag over his shoulder, and an escape parachute strapped on his back, he jumped into the sky.

He looked below at the land, as he floated downward. Earth was welcoming him home again.

* * *

Kate glanced at him. Tom looked distracted, but otherwise seemed surprisingly okay with having his past come out of nowhere and bite him on the ass. She thought she might be having a little more trouble with finding out that he had a secret past. It was one thing to send other people into witness protection, which had happened a few times in her career, but it was entirely something else to meet someone who had a new identity. She was extremely curious about his old identity and the circumstances of how he had been targeted. After all, she rarely saw people before they were murdered. "You okay?" she asked.

"I'm fine. It was... good to see him," he admitted softly. "I've always regretted leaving him behind. But it makes things harder."

She smiled a little, remembering him with James - so gentle, so ... dad-like. The basketball coaching suddenly made more sense. "You worry about him."

"I do. I wish I didn't, because he's a weakness that I don't know if I can afford, but... " he let out a soft sigh. "Funny, I was only with them three years. But those years changed my life."

"You said you weren't the same. What did you do before?" she asked.

He didn't answer at first, eyeing her, then gave a small smirk, purposefully lightening things up. "Are you kidding me? You have a badge. I'm not admitting to anything."

"Oh, come on," she coaxed and elbowed him. "Off the record. What'd you do? Accountant for the mob? Assassin?"

He chuckled. "You've been reading too many of Castle's books."

She put her hands on her hips. "You have a dark, mysterious past. You faked your own death. It's totally one of his books."

Still smiling in amusement, he shook his head and teased, "I thought you hadn't read any of them. I'll have to tell him you're a fan."

She realized he'd tripped her up, and glared at him, threatening, "You say one word, Demming, one word --" Then she paused. "That's not your real name, is it?"

"Sure it is," he protested. "Now."

"Not the name you were born with," she corrected herself and heaved a disgruntled sigh. "And of course you're not going to tell me. But how about you tell me what book your life was, if it's not a Castle mystery?"

He thought about it for a moment and then answered, "Hamlet."

She wasn't sure she'd heard right. She expected him to say The Godfather or something like that. "Hamlet? Seriously?" Then she thought about it for a moment and it didn't seem so ridiculous. There was that part with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern sent to kill Hamlet, and he'd said his family were terrible people...

"Well, not exactly," he corrected with a flashing grin. "But certain elements, yes. And that's all the clues you get." The smile faded. "Look, I understand you're curious, Kate. And I wish you'd never found out, but please, let it go. I have my life now, and stirring up the past is only asking for trouble."

"All right, but so you know, I'm going to keep watch on you now," she said and took his hands in hers. "And I will take down anybody who threatens you."

He smiled and pulled her close. "I'd try to talk you out of it, but I know it's useless."

"Damn right."

"You're amazing," he murmured, and his hands slipped around her waist as his mouth dipped down to hers.

They shared a quick kiss and then headed back to the precinct, where she tried to forget Tom's secret past and deal with the case in the present. He went to his desk, and she climbed up to her floor and the case room, where Castle was waiting.

"Where've you been?" Castle greeted her. "And where's your boyfriend?" he asked, peering behind her as if Tom could be hiding back there.

She glanced up at the ceiling, praying for patience. "He went to make calls and run the victim. And it's still none of your business." He made a face, which made her smirk at him. She opened the folder and put up postcards of the stolen paintings onto the case board.

Two portraits: one of an old man by Vermeer, and one of a little rich girl and her mother in fancy dresses by Velasquez. She regarded them and shook her head. "Kind of boring paintings to kill someone over, aren't they?"

"They're still worth a lot of money. And that's what people kill over -- love and money." Then he corrected himself with a grimace. "Mostly money."

She thought of Tom and his concern that there were people who might still murder him if they found him. "And secrets," she added thoughtfully. "People kill to protect their secrets."

But the question was who and what was the secret? What did Tom know that was worth killing him for, especially ten years later? Or was he overly paranoid and worried about a threat that would never materialize?

Castle interrupted her musing with a question about the timeline, and she started to write that information down as well to build their case.

* * *

At his desk, Tom started printing out the basic i.d. and criminal record of the security guard, filled in the warrant request for his financials and phone records, and then flipped through his contacts on his phone looking for the cell number for Special Agent Peter Burke.

"Burke. Demming, is that you?"

"Hey, Peter. You heard about the museum robbery?"

"Who hasn't? You got the case?"

"Yeah. I was hoping to pick your brain. And the brain of your special assistant." He leaned back, put his feet on his desk, and looked at the computer screen. "Because this is a fucked up case that makes no sense to me."

"You should come for dinner and pick our brains there. Elizabeth was asking about you yesterday. I'm pretty sure she has another friend to set you up with."

Tom laughed. "You can tell her I have my own date. But I don't want to impose..."

"Your own date? Oh, that sounds promising. I can't remember the last time you found your own girlfriend. It must be serious," he teased. "And no, it's no imposition. We'll bring something in. So you bring your girlfriend and she and Elizabeth can talk --"

"Actually she'll be talking with us, since she's on the case, too."

Peter hesitated for a minute and then put it together. "Oh! In your new precinct? I know who it's gotta be. Nikki Heat. You are one smooth operator, Demming, bagging her."

"Fuck off, Burke." And Peter had the nerve to laugh. Tom said, "Her name's Kate Beckett. I don't know if she'll be with me, but if she is, she will kick your ass if you call her that. I'll be there around eight, unless work gets in the way."

"See you later." They hung up, and Tom grabbed his info and went upstairs to see Beckett hard at work on the timeline board. Castle was already there, so Tom decided he'd ask her about dinner when they were alone.

Ryan and Esposito sat at the table with them, and Tom started.

"Our victim," Tom posted his photo on the board. "Cornell Fisher. I'm sure it'll come as a terrible shock to all of you to learn he had a record, including manslaughter and theft. Former gang member."

"And he was a security guard at a museum?" Ryan shook his head. "I know it's hard to get good help these days, but Jesus."

"Inside man," Castle said, and Tom nodded.

"Yeah. Someone had to kill the video cameras and the alarm."

"CSU electronics techs are in there right now. Hopefully they can find something," Beckett made a note on her pad. "So he could be in their ring already. Or the thieves hire him --"

"Or blackmail," Castle interjected.

"Or blackmail him to help," she added in smoothly, "He gets them in, they shoot him--"

"And they earn themselves automatic life sentences." Tom returned to his chair next to Kate. "Most pros avoid a homicide. These people are either that confident they won't get caught or they don't care. I'm thinking they might be out of the country already."

"Contact Interpol?" Esposito asked.

Tom shrugged. "I sent an alert for the paintings already, but until we work some suspects, we've got nothing to tell."

"So we start with Fisher," Kate said. "The three of us will hit his apartment; you two," she addressed Ryan and Esposito, "get on family and friends, especially gang contacts. If he was the inside man, there's a connection there, someplace."

They disbanded and when Kate started for the door behind Castle, Tom called her back, "Kate, hang on a sec."

Castle lingered in the doorway, perhaps intending to wait for her or listen if it was something to do with the case. But when Tom gave him a look, he held up both hands and backed off. "None of my business, I get it," he muttered and made himself scarce.

Kate turned and folded her arms, giving Tom a reproving look. "I thought we weren't flaunting it."

"What? How is wanting to ask you a question without him listening, 'flaunting' it?" he asked, both honestly confused and a bit irritated by the implication that they were supposed to pretend nothing was happening, to spare Castle's feelings. He'd had his chance and he'd blown it; Tom refused to feel guilty or step aside because Castle suddenly regretted leaving the field. "He already knows."

Her gaze flickered away with something, but she nodded. He continued, in an effort to change the subject, "Anyway, I'm having dinner with an FBI friend of mine to talk about the case. You're also invited, if you want to go. Burke will know more about the international angle than I do."

"All right," she agreed. "That sounds good, if we're not stuck here at work."

"He'll understand if we have to cancel." Then he smiled at her. "Let's go collect Castle and go over to Fisher's place."

She smiled back, their moment's difficulty melting away under the brightness of her eyes.

Part Three

Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
karate0katkarate0kat on June 19th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)

Castle/V/White Collar crossover! My fangirlsih squeeing is making my dogs bark.

I love you and your brain.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 19th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)

thx! :D
entertaining in a disturbing way: yeah I ship itlyssie on June 19th, 2010 08:38 pm (UTC)
*makes with the happy flailing*
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 19th, 2010 08:51 pm (UTC)
cujoy on June 19th, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
LOL! The White Collar cross over was an awesome surprise. This is an awesome crossover. :D
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 20th, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
Hee. I was quite pleased with sneaking it in there (there's more, too *g*)

Rainne: Castle - Beckett - Little Castle Babiesxdawnfirex on June 20th, 2010 01:15 pm (UTC)
I've never seen White Collar, either, so I'm riding along on Beckett's coat-tails on this one. How on earth are you keeping all these crossovers straight?
lizardbeth: Determined Spiritslizardbeth_j on June 20th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
hee! There's another bonus crossover show later on, too. This crossover started out as such crack, I figured some more wouldn't hurt it. :)
Merry F: kate beckett smirkivanolix on June 22nd, 2010 02:45 pm (UTC)
I did not recognize the other crossover...but the chapter was great anyway! I like how you're developing the mythology already.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 23rd, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
well, I can tell you that in White Collar Neal is not an alien (probably), just in case you were wondering. ;)
(Deleted comment)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on July 2nd, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
thanks. This thing was so much fun. There's another little crossover later, if you watch Leverage. ;)