Author: Googie PM
SEQUEL TO BLIZZARD! AU. They're dating now, but she wants to move slowly. Kind of. Can he get her reservations to melt along with the snow, despite a tough case and other things that keep them apart?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Kate B. & Rick C. - Chapters: 44 - Words: 178,989 - Reviews: 1,330 - Favs: 269 - Follows: 549 - Updated: 10-08-12 - Published: 11-07-11 - id: 7531384
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Thanks for all of the positive response on the last chapter. It's so nice to read your comments...I appreciate them like you appreciate an air conditioner on a 100 degree day. Really. And considering that our air conditioning in our house died right as the heat wave struck our area, I REALLY know how much you appreciate an air conditioner.
Disclaimer: No ownership of Castle here.
Somehow, she beat them to the Langley building. When the guys walked in, Beckett was already in a conversation with one of the guards at the front desk, a woman who looked to be in her mid-forties. As they walked up, she started moving around to the back of the desk, where some of the building's system controls were housed. She caught sight of them and motioned them over, introducing them to the security guard, just as the building manager came out of his office.
They explained that their questions were regarding the death of John Nowatowski, and the guard and building manager became a little more alert. It wasn't every day that a man was found dead in their office building. And then when police show up and start questioning your operations regarding that death...well, that makes you sit up and take notice.
At the detectives' request, they very cooperatively showed the detectives the elevator control panel, which was one much like Rafi had showed them. After asking about any employees that might have the knowledge to work it, they determined that none of the personnel fit the age or gender requirements of their suspect, the elusive William Jackson. They even showed the manager the old picture of Jackson that they were able to find, and he didn't look familiar to either.
"Who was working on the night of Mr. Nowatowski's accident?" Esposito asked the manager.
He brought up the work logs, and found out that the female guard who stood with them now had been on duty, along with a part-timer who was approaching retirement age. The maintenance man she remembered being on duty with her at the time was a young man, only about twenty-five years old; once again, someone else who didn't fit the description of William Jackson. It looked like they were striking out again.
That is, until they brought up the elevator activity logs. The building manager was trying to nicely prove to them that their theory was obviously unfounded. The logs showed usage and floors accessed, and during the time in question, it did appear that no elevators stopped on the twenty-second floor for a time period of approximately an hour and twenty minutes. "Well, I'll be..." the manager said, obviously surprised.
"So how would the elevator get reprogrammed like that? It's obvious that it was. Ms. Saunders," she said, turning to the guard, "Do you remember anyone else who may have been working that night? Anything unusual that may have happened?"
"Yeah...I do remember, actually," she said, seeming almost a bit surprised that she could recall the day. "A lot of times, the days just seem to mesh together, you know? But that night, there was something weird. The computers...they just went crazy. We had to restart everything."
"Is that unusual?"
"Well, yes. We do weekly maintenance on the systems, so they're pretty reliable in between those times. We never had anything like that happen before. George and I—he was working with me—we were joking around, wondering if there were aliens landing on the building and they took over the computers." She let out a little chuckle as she thought back. "It was just so odd, all of the systems going haywire at once, and there wasn't even a storm or anything."
"So there wasn't anyone else back here with you? Anyone that had access to the controls?"
"No. Nobody." She shook her head.
They stood around for a moment, and then Ryan had a thought. "Mr. Dougherty," he said, addressing the building manager, "is this the only way that the elevators can be controlled?"
He thought for a moment, and then he said almost nonchalantly, "Well, there's the big room in the basement, but the systems company is the only one that uses that room with any semblance of a regular basis. We generally do all of the controls from the terminals here; they're a lot easier to use."
"The systems company?" Beckett wanted to know. If Castle was there, he'd say his spidey sense would be tingling. Hell, her spidey sense was tingling when the manager mentioned a basement room.
"Yes, you know, those companies that have a lot of integrated systems...HVAC, security, even the elevator maintenance. It's easier and more cost effective to have one company take care of all of that."
Sometimes it was just a matter of continuing to ask questions. "And that company—their employees have access to this room?"
"Of course. They're under contract for maintenance, and that includes semi-regular checks of all of the systems to ensure that everything is in proper working order. Our tenants are assured of no downtime in their leases. We have the company under contract to do regular checks to be sure that all of the systems are kept in tip-top shape."
"Mr. Dougherty, we'll need to see that room." Beckett's voice was like steel; not angry, but forceful with her desire to catch their killer.
The basement room was what you'd expect from an electronic control center located in a basement: dark, no windows, cold and containing a lot of complicated-looking electronic equipment (with what Kate was sure Castle would think were a lot of really cool lights). The building manager directed them to the elevator controls. "Everything that you need is right there," he said, pointing to some equipment in the corner. "But I'm not sure how this is going to help you. Like I said, nobody comes down here. And the door is locked anyway."
"Mr. Dougherty," Beckett said off-handedly as she walked into the room and started looking around. "With all due respect, someone altered the controls on your elevators—which you, yourself verified from the log—and that led to Mr. Nowatowski's death. We believe Mr. Nowatowski was lured to that stairwell by the elevators not stopping on his floor. By your own admission and what Ms. Saunders said, that reprogramming wasn't done at the terminals on the ground floor. So it had to have been done here. Possibly during the time when the computers went down?" She looked at the man, and she could see the moment of realization when he understood what she was telling him.
His eyes got just a little larger in disbelief. "Detective, are you talking about...murder? In my building? That Mr. Nowatowski's death somehow wasn't...an accident?"
In her mind, she wondered how on earth this man could possibly manage the building operations when he'd been having such a hard time figuring out why they were there. Duh. But then again, she did have to explain her theory about the elevator programming to Esposito and Ryan too, and they'd been as involved in the case as she was, from the start. So she supposed she should cut the guy some slack. "Yes, Mr. Dougherty. That's exactly what we're saying. And that's why we need to have CSU come over here and dust for fingerprints and see if we can find any physical evidence that our...suspect may have left behind. Do we have your permission?"
"Yes, yes of course," the man replied, now obviously a little nervous that his building may have been the scene of a murder.
"And I'll also need the contact information for your systems company...the ones who do the maintenance on the elevators and the other equipment? We're going to need lists of the people who service everything."
The manager left then with Ryan, to go back up to the lobby, where Mr. Dougherty could check on the contact information and Ryan could get a cell signal to call for a CSU team. That left Beckett and Esposito in the basement room, and by unspoken agreement, they weren't going anywhere. Now that they had the potential of a promising lead, there was no way they were going to leave this room until it was processed.
But of course, that left Beckett alone with a still very curious Esposito, and there was nowhere to go. She walked around the room and was making a few comments, hypothesizing about their killer when she noticed that Esposito wasn't responding. She turned around to find him leaning against a section of the cement wall, arms crossed over his chest, staring at her. And he had something of a smirk on his face, if she wasn't mistaken.
"What?" she asked him. "Got any better ideas?" she asked, referring to her musings about the case.
"Oh, no, not about that." He pushed off the wall and took a few steps toward her, but the smirk never left his face. "I was just thinking that it should take CSU at least a half hour to get here, even with the rush that Ryan is putting on the request. So..." he said, nodding a bit, "I think it's the perfect time for you to tell me what you were doing in Castle's building at 7:30 in the morning, how you happen to know Castle's doormen by name, and how they know you as well as they seem to."
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to send any comments my way. I LOVE to read each and every one of them!