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24 June 2010 @ 02:15 pm
Fic: Determined Spirits 5/6  
A V-Castle crossover epic of epicness

We're in the home-stretch now! *flails wildly*

Also, for those who missed the V pilot ep: Agent Dale Maddox is Alan Tudyk. :)

"You're working hard this morning," Castle greeted her, leaning up against her desk. "Something new on the case come in?"

She glanced up from her computer and smiled. "One of Tom's contacts came up with some information. We're going through it."

"Is there anyone in the city he doesn't know?" Castle grumbled.

Her smile widened and she teased, "Moving into your turf, Castle?"

He made a face and didn't answer, though the agreement wasn't hard to see. He came around to look at the screen, leaning over her shoulder. "That... looks like financial info?"

"A bank in Monaco. Source of the funds to pay the late Mister Berger for his forgery skills. He didn't have long to enjoy them. We have the account holder's name now, and Tom's running the inquiry to the feds." She shook her head, disappointed. "But there's a lot of information on here, that's going to take a whole lot of going over."

"Can I help?" he asked eagerly.

"Um," she thought about it for a moment and then nodded. "Sure. This drive is packed with files, and I haven't even had a chance to look at some of them and see what they are, and how they're relevant to the case. See what you think." She handed him the thumb drive, and he wandered away to borrow another computer.

After lunch, she was working her way through a group of photos taken from one of New York's metro cameras for the area surrounding the museum, when she was interrupted.

"Detective Beckett?"

"Yes?" She looked up to see a blond man with blue eyes and an easy grin, wearing a black suit. She saw his holster and knew before he spoke he was a fed.

He flipped out an FBI badge. "Special Agent Dale Maddox."

They shook hands and then she invited him to the opposite chair, "Please. What can I do for the FBI?"

She expected to hear something about how the FBI was going to take the case, since it was likely connected to a larger international theft ring, but instead he said, "I'm part of a counter-terrorism taskforce. And we have automatic flags in the system for when certain persons of interest are run by law enforcement. Can you tell me how you ran across the name of John May?"

Her stomach seized up, and she stared at him, blindsided. "What? I make an inquiry on a guy who killed himself ten years ago, and, near as I can tell was never of interest at all, and you're telling me there's a federal flag on it?"

He smiled perfunctorily. "I know it must seem odd, but we had to play that one close to the chest. Before his death, John May was the leader of an anti-government terrorist organization. That group still uses his name as a rallying cry. So if someone was using his name, they're connected to his organization."

"Oh, I see." She nodded, while thinking quickly. She wanted to believe him -- he was FBI, after all -- but it reeked. An agent showing up the very next day? That was unlikely in her experience, unless there was a mass death involved. Worse, John May was an 'anti-government terrorist'? Those hadn't been anti-government screeds, but exhortations to compassion. If Tom had been a terrorist before, he certainly wasn't one now.

She remembered the flash of distress in his eyes, when she'd offered the cuffs, and how he'd said that his enemies would stop at nothing to get to him. Was Maddox one of them? She could let Tom explain himself first.

So she lifted her chin, smiled slightly, and lied to Agent Maddox. "Well, I had no idea. It's not much I'm afraid . My friend, Richard Castle -- the novelist - do you know of him? -- he works with us, and he told me to check out this blog because he liked the writing. So I did, and then I looked into the name. But the blog didn't seem like it had anything to do with anti-government anything."

"Don't let the pretty words fool you, Detective. We believe it's full of coded messages, sent between May's successors."

"Not May himself?" she asked in surprise. "Are you sure? The body was never recovered, according to the police report."

His smile was unnerving. "It was recovered. He's dead."

She frowned. He seemed so certain. But it gave her less reason to tell him about Tom, if the two weren't the same after all. "Oh, well, that's that, then."

"If you hear anyone else espouse that 'John May Lives' rhetoric, Kate, please let me know. I'll take care of it."

Those words echoed ominously in her ears. She forced a smile and took Maddox' card. "Sure."

She watched him leave, making sure he had cleared the building. Then she went downstairs to find Tom. When he got off the phone, she asked, "Tom, can I talk to you a minute? In private?"

Puzzled but with an eager flash of a smile that suggested he thought he was getting something fun, he rose to follow her. "Sure."

But when he moved to kiss her in the changing room, she held up a hand. "Wait. This is serious."

"Okay," he stopped and looked curious, not worried.

"Does the name Dale Maddox mean anything to you?" she asked and handed him the card.

"FBI?" he raised his eyebrows and shook his head. "No, I don't know him. But Peter didn't tell me they were taking our case, if that's what you're asking."

"No," she shook her head. "He was here to talk to me, because my inquiry into your blog managed to trip a flag on the name of John May."

He stared for a moment, unblinking, and his hands shook. "You... you didn't. You searched for that name? And this guy came to ask about it?"

She nodded.

He flared into sudden anger. "Damn it, I told you to let it go. I warned you. Shit. I have to get out of here--" He started to turn, to head for the door.

She grabbed his shoulder, fearing if she let him get out the door, he'd be gone. "It's okay. I didn't tell him anything about you, and he's gone now. But obviously that's you. Now tell me what the hell's going on, before I regret lying to a fellow law enforcement officer."

He calmed himself down with a deep breath. "He's not FBI," Tom answered, holding up the card. "Or maybe he is, but that's not all he is."

"And I have to take your word for that, when Tom Demming isn't even your real name?" she demanded. "Come on. I need more than that. The FBI thinks your blog is a front for terrorists."

"It's not," he objected immediately.

"Then tell me what this is about."

He considered, barely seeming to breathe as he weighed his options. "All right. But not here."

She half-expected him to make a break for it, after they went out the back of the precinct. But he didn't. If anything he seemed resigned as they walked toward the little park where he bought them coffee from a vendor.

She let him have his minute or two, then prompted, "So? What the hell is going on? You think people are out to kill you, you faked your death and changed your name-- why?"

"People are out to kill me," he corrected and pulled in a breath. "Or they would be, if they knew I was alive."

"But the Feds think you're an anti-government terrorist," she asked.

He snorted a laugh, surprising her. "The Feds don't think I'm anything at all. They're not the problem. Look, Kate, he's right, sort of. I am a leader of a resistance," he admitted, and she had a moment to be shocked, before he turned to her and added earnestly, "I didn't set out to become that, but now I have that obligation because people followed me. But it's not the United States we object to; it's back home we're trying to change. Not our leaders, but our entire way of life. And there are others who want to stop that, at any cost."

She frowned, trying to think of a place he could be talking about. "Where's 'home'?" she asked. "Russia? Iran?"

He turned away. "I can't tell you that. It doesn't matter now; I left and I'm never going back. The blog is my way to keep in contact with those who stayed and try to give them hope. All I want is to live my life my way, and help other people do the same."

"I want to believe you. I do," she said. "I read the blog and that was no kind of anti-government rhetoric I've ever read. Maddox' insistence otherwise was what made me suspicious in the first place. But... it doesn't make sense. There's something big you're not telling me. I have to know. No matter what you did in the past, you need to tell me the rest. If you were some kind of terrorist or assassin or cult leader, or, I don't know, whatever, I need to know it all."

"It's not that easy." He shook his head slowly negative. "If I tell you, you can't go back to how you were before. Knowing this will change everything. I know this makes me sound like a nut, but it's true. This isn't something you can take back or forget about."

"I became a cop because I want the truth," she reassured him. "I can't believe you until I understand."

He blinked slowly, thinking, and then nodded with a look of deep resignation. "All right. But it's easier to show you." Putting his untouched coffee to one side, he slipped out of his jacket and started to unbutton the bottom of his shirt. "When I was shot, it did a little more damage than I admitted." He pulled up the edge of the large bandage on his side. Gritting his teeth, he pushed two fingers deep into the wound.

"Tom, stop it! What are you doing?" she demanded.

He gasped out, "You want the truth? Then look."

She bent down. At first she couldn't figure out what she was seeing -- he was pulling apart his wound and there was some blood and pale tissue... and -- something green. Something completely unnatural.

Something inhuman.

"Oh my God," she whispered, staring.

He pulled his fingers out, put the bandage on it again, wincing, and let the shirt fall over it. Then he held up his bloodied fingertips. The red stood in stark contrast to his words. "I'm not human," he admitted softly. "I look human, but I'm not. I'm not the only one of my kind here on Earth either. And someday, very soon, the others will arrive. If they don't learn what I'm trying to teach them, they're going to conquer this planet and destroy it."

She couldn't believe it. She sat there, looking at him, blindsided and stunned by the revelation. She'd expected a story about terrorists, cults, foreign mercenaries, deep cover spying.... hell, the Illuminati was more expected than his being an alien.

"You -- you're not human," she repeated slowly. "You're from another planet?"

He didn't smile, and his gaze rested on her, concerned and somber. "Yes. Another planet."

She was going to reject the whole idea as insanity, but that flash of greenish skin, or whatever it was, underneath made that impossible. It was true.

"My people have very little sense of empathy," he went on. "But we can learn it. I discovered that human emotions make me feel more alive than I had ever felt before. I changed. And others of my race have changed, too, and I've become their leader. But the rest, like Maddox, think I'm a traitor and defective because I want us to be free. They tried to kill me ten years ago, and I barely escaped. I've been hiding ever since."

She fought to understand, and one thing suddenly jumped out at her. "But... but you've been here years," she realized. "How long have there been aliens on Earth?"

"We found you decades ago," he answered. "The decision to infiltrate was made about twenty years ago."

Her mouth soundlessly formed 'decades'. There had been aliens on Earth for decades, and no one knew.

"Why? Why are you here? What do you want?"

He glanced up at the sky and answered. "We're a dying race. We came here, even changed ourselves --" he watched his hand flex into a slow fist, as if remembering his hand looking different, "in the hopes of using your genetic diversity to save us."

"And so this outside is just... just a mask?" she demanded, feeling ill at the thought. She'd been intimate with him, had sex with him for heaven's sake and he wasn't human. He was something else, pretending to be human.

He answered calmly, "No, it's not a mask. It's become a part of us. It's real human tissue and skin, cloned and grafted on our own and connected to our nerves. If they catch me, what they'll do is skin it off me alive. It's a very painful way to die."

"Oh. That's horrible." But it made her feel a bit better, that everything wasn't a lie. "You weren't kidding when you said your family were terrible people."

"No, I wasn't. They don't understand humans; they don't want to understand humans. They believe emotions like compassion are primitive and a weakness, not the strength I know they are." He glanced aside, lifted a hand as if he wanted to touch her, and then lowered his hand again with a sigh.

"I understand this is a lot to take in," he murmured. "But I have to plead with you not to tell anyone. Not for my sake alone, but if our presence here goes public, Anna - our leader - will move to outright conquest. It'll be a slaughter, and I have no way to stop her yet."

He stood up and she avoided his eyes, looking down.

"I'll go back to the station and give you some space. I... I'm sorry I ruined everything," he added, sounding regretful and a bit helpless. And he walked away.

She watched him go, and stayed on the bench, sipping at the coffee absently and trying to wrap her head around everything.

That flash of green haunted her thoughts. Aliens. Tom was an alien.

As he had warned, she knew everything had changed. Not only aliens existed, which would be amazing enough, but they were here, pretending to be human. She'd known Tom had some deep, dark secret, but she'd never guessed he wasn't human. Who else did she know who was an alien in disguise?

They'd been here decades, and nobody knew. Worse, there was an invasion planned in the future.

What was she supposed to do about all this? Go back to her ordinary life, be a cop, solve murders, and pretend she didn't know anything?

She inhaled a deep breath and blew it out. That was exactly what she had to do. Tom had warned her. Everything -- the whole world -- had changed. She'd never look at a stranger, or up at the night sky the same way.

And yet...

She tipped her head back and looked at the tall buildings all around her and up to the cloudy sky, imagining the stars beyond that.

She was one of the first humans to learn that humans weren't alone in the universe. And if it was bad news that they weren't all friendly, at least one of them was, and that felt very special that he'd shared the truth with her, when he could've disappeared.

Getting back to her feet, she tossed her coffee cup in the trash bin and went back to work.

* * *

On the second floor, she wound her way past the briefing room and the sergeant's office, to the room that held the rest of the detectives' desks. His desk was off to the side, out of casual view of most of the floor.

He was on his desk phone when she moved around the corner cubicle with one of his files open in front of him, taking notes on a notepad.

There were other case files on the desk, photos of evidence pinned to the side of the cubicle, a calendar, but the only personal items were the plastic dinosaurs on top of his monitor.

He didn't notice her at first, too busy writing down whatever interview he was conducting.

It was a little surreal. Here she was, full to the brim with this amazing new knowledge about what he was, and there he was, talking on the phone like a cop as if nothing had changed.

Before he could've seen or heard her, he straightened as if he could feel her gaze and turned around. His eyes met hers, and he didn't smile, waiting warily for the reason she had sought him out. He was utterly still, and though he was sitting in his desk chair, she knew he was poised to run.

Yet she had absolutely no fear that he would hurt her. She came up to him, hands carefully nowhere near her weapon, and tried to smile that everything was okay. He relaxed enough to turn his head away and finish his conversation on the phone.

As she waited, she read the Gandhi quotation pinned right above his desk: "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Now her eyes went to that quote and she understood why it was important to him. That quote had nothing to do with Detective Tom Demming. That quote belonged to the alien resistance leader - 'John May.' He was one of those determined spirits.

But she didn't say any of that when he faced her again. Instead she told him simply, "You didn't." He frowned at her in confusion. "You said you ruined everything. You didn't."

He swallowed. "No?"

"I'm glad you told me," she answered softly, aware of the people nearby and how much she couldn't say in the open.

"You are?"

"I appreciate the risk you took," she reassured him. She leaned closer to murmur in his ear. "You're safe, Tom. Please don't run."

A look of relief washed through his face, and he let out a breath. "Thank you."

Then he lifted his head sharply, as Castle's voice came across the floor: "Demming? Have you seen--?" She straightened and he saw her, her name getting stuck in his mouth. "There you are, Beckett. I've been looking for both of you. That drive is chock-full of what looks like very tedious work, probably best done over beer tonight." He lounged against the end of Tom's desk and picked up the T-Rex to menace the diplodocus, while explaining, "My mother and Alexis will both be out, and it would make more sense to be in a nice place and look through all these files over dinner, don't you think?"

"I -- I don't know--" Tom hesitated, glancing up at her, uncertainly.

"You're invited, too," Castle told him.

"Thanks, but --"

"Do you already have plans?" Castle asked, sounding deflated.

"No, that's not it," she reassured him. "It's -- we should, maybe..." Then she looked at Tom, who was looking at his files with studied indifference to whether she still wanted him around or not.

Taking her uncertainty for no, Tom added, "This isn't my only case, I should probably work on those tonight. Beckett can --"

Her hand found his shoulder and squeezed to stop his words. His shoulder beneath his suit jacket felt like the same muscle and bone she'd felt before she knew the truth. It didn't feel alien, though she'd expected to feel something different. But it was only her perceptions that were different -- he was still the same. "No. This is our case; we all work it together."

Castle's eyes darted between them, obviously sensing something else going on, but he showed surprising discretion and merely put the dinosaurs back and brushed his hands on his pants. "Okay, then, that sounds good. I'll go make extra copies of the files and take them to my place. Come over when you're ready."

"We'll see you later," she told him.

When he was gone, Tom offered quietly, looking at the notepad filled with his scrawling notes, "I can probably get Peter to take the case for us. Then it'll be off our lists, and we can go our separate ways. I know this is ... strange for you, so I'll do whatever you want, to make it easier."

She considered. It would be easier, certainly: get Tom out of her life, forget everything he'd told her, and go back to her normal life. But thinking about it, she didn't want to go back to that life, even if she could.

She perched on the edge of his desk and nudged his chair with her foot to turn it in her direction. "Look, I don't know what I want, right now. But I do know it feels wrong to chase you away when I'm the one who pushed for the truth. So let's take it slow and give me a chance to know you - the real you."

His head lifted to look at her and a slow smile formed on his face. It was pleased, but also a little stunned, as if he hadn't expected her to say any of that. "Deal. I've got to write this up," he gestured to his notes, "for another case. But then we can head over to Castle's."

She agreed and left him to wander back upstairs. She stopped in the doorway to look at the case board, wondering for a moment if any of it mattered when there was an alien downstairs and aliens in the FBI and more aliens on the way. A couple of stolen paintings and a murdered security guard seemed so ordinary.

"You wanted to know, Beckett," she muttered. "And now you know."

"Beckett?" Esposito asked from the hall. When she turned, he frowned a little. "You okay?"

She tried to smile. "Yeah. I'm fine. Heading out."

He didn't seem fully convinced. "You and Demming - you've got a thing, right?"

"We do," then she remembered the betting pool and smiled. "So who won?"

"Lanie," he answered, but he didn't smile, still looking concerned. "It's going good?"

There were so many possible answers to that, she couldn't find one at first. 'It was good right up until I found out he was from another planet'? No, she couldn't say that. "I... yeah, it's good. We're going over to Castle's place to work on the case some more."

Esposito frowned as if he wanted to say more, but he let it go with a nod. "Okay, then, g'night."

She gathered up her things to leave for the day, including the case files and Sophie's thumb drive, and went down to meet Tom.

He was talking to Sergeant Martinez about the Knicks, and she listened, bemused by the thought of aliens being sports fans. But he noticed her and met her by the front desk. "I'm ready. Taxi or walk?"

"Walk," she answered. "Then we can talk."

Evening had fallen, but the street was still crowded with people heading home and shopping. Tom fell into step with her, quietly waiting while she wondered what to ask.

Finally, one question bubbled to the surface. "Does anybody else know?"

He slanted a look at her. "You're the first human I've told. I didn't expect it to go so well, actually," he admitted.

She took that in, for a few moments. She was the only person in more than ten years to know the truth?

She tucked her hand around his arm and he looked at it in such surprise, she had to smile and shake her head at him. "Come on, did you expect me to freak out? I admit it's sort of blowing my mind, but I'm not going to run and scream in terror because there's an alien around. I've been to racial sensitivity training, you know," she joked. His smile looked a little tentative, as if he doubted she was okay with this, so she leaned into his arm to stop him and said more seriously, looking into his face, "Thank you for telling me the truth."

"Thank you for not running and screaming in terror," he replied, wryly.

"I could never do that," she reassured him. "I believe you're trying to do the right thing. Hell, you're a better human being than a lot of humans I've met. And that's what matters to me."

Thinking about it more, there was one main thing that bothered her. "Would you ever have told your wife?" she asked. "Or me, if I hadn't pushed for it?"

"No," he admitted. "Probably not. I want to live as a human, with humans, and the only way to do that is to pretend the rest of it doesn't exist." He let out a short sigh. "I know it's a lie. I do, and I knew it wouldn't last. But still, a short time like this is better than a whole lifetime like them."

"But most of your people don't agree with that."

"No. We're capable of so much more, but our society is already under such pressure, the idea of greater change is frightening. Not to mention the thought of learning anything from you is appalling to some, when they think of humans as lesser animals."

The more she found out about his people, the more she was horrified and worried for her own. "Lesser animals?" she repeated. "Like pets?"

He thought about that for a moment and shook his head. "Some call you 'mammals'. It's not a compliment. Like humans call each other 'pig' or 'cow'," he explained. "They think of you as lower on the food chain because you're what we eat."

Her eyes widened in horror and she felt cold. "You eat humans?"

"No, no!" he corrected hastily, "that's not what I meant. We eat other mammals, not humans." Then he reconsidered and had to admit, "Though I suppose it's possible. There's no prohibition against it. Life has no value to my people. We kill each other with little qualm, and Anna would nuke this whole planet if she thought it was necessary. That's what I want to change. But for food, we prefer our mammals much smaller and fed on grains, not Twinkies."

He said it so deliberately, she knew it was a clue to something. Then she realized. "Oh, my God, don't tell me you eat those mice you keep in your place?" His face was enough, as his expression flickered with humor. Her lip curled in disgust. "Now, that's gross."

He grinned. "Come on, after a hard day of work, don't you want to kick back with a beer and a mouse?"

She stared at him and couldn't decide if he was joking or not. She decided he wasn't. "Ew. Of course not."

"Too bad. They're delicious," he retorted with relish, and licked his lips. Then he laughed at her when she pretended to gag.

She decided she didn't want to know if he cooked them first or not. He was messing with her enough, as it was.

But her knowing the truth had let him relax, and she thought about how rarely he could be himself with anyone.

Then they were at the entrance to Castle's building, and as the doorman let them in, she glanced at Tom.

He smiled and nudged her shoulder with his own as they entered the elevator. She elbowed him, smiling back. For a moment, all thoughts of nasty aliens were far away.


Crossposted from DW There are comment count unavailable comments over there. Feel free to comment wherever.
Merry F: kate beckett smirkivanolix on June 25th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Aww, they are cute! Personally, I think I'd trust any alien who looked like Trucco, but he also has a trustworthy track record. ;-)
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 25th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)

heh, yeah, me too! if our alien overlords all look like Trucco and Matthew Bomer, sign me up for Peace Ambassador ship! ;D
entertaining in a disturbing waylyssie on June 25th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
eeee. *pets fic* I am sort of worried about EVERYTHING FALLING DOWN AND THE SKY GOING BOOM. But, um, it isn't that much longer before the rest appears.
lizardbethlizardbeth_j on June 25th, 2010 02:05 am (UTC)
it's up. In case you didn't refresh while I was fiddling around with the links!