The Mystery in The Library

By Lorraine Anderson

"Damn it!" Castle looked down at his keyboard. He had been stuck on the same paragraph for two hours now, and letting his mind run free during Candy Crush or Pet Rescue Saga hadn't helped. No, what he needed was a juicy murder case with his favorite detective, but the department was slow as far as murders go.

This was a good thing, he reminded himself. Murder BAD. Unless it was in one of his books, in which case murder was money.

He sighed. Mother was gone on retreat; Alexis was at school. Beckett was doing the never-ending paperwork and told him that she would call him if anything happened. He smiled as he recalled her handshake. He wished they didn't have to keep their relationship a secret from Gates. Or anyone else, for that matter.

He sighed again. He needed to take a walk. Or a trip. Or two or three trips. He put his feet down and jumped out of his chair. Leaving a note for his mother, he slipped out of his door and walked down the street.

Two hours later, he looked up and smiled. He had ended up in his favorite place, of course - the Library. He had spent many happy hours here, exploring all that it had to offer. He hadn't been here for a year or two, but he bounded up the steps like he was fifteen, only to stop at the top of the stairs and pant slightly.

No, he wasn't fifteen any more. And he really, really needed to lose that spare tire.

He walked in and looked around, luxuriating at the smell of old books. He loved that smell, almost as much as he loved the smell of Beckett's hair. He smiled. He could almost see Beckett shake her head at the simile.

He looked at the top of the stairs. He had given a bunch of money to the library to the acquisitions department at the urging of his CPA - it was a good write-off. What was the name of the acquisitions director? Or the Librarian, as he liked to be called? Flynn. Flynn Carsen - that was it. He was a fount of knowledge. He headed up the stairs, stopping at the office. He nodded to the secretary - what was her name? She looked up sharply. "Yes?"

"I was wondering if Mr. Carsen was in."

She sniffed. "As a matter of fact, he is out of the office right now. I'll tell him you called. Your name?"

"Castle. Richard Castle. We know each other."

"Ah." She sniffed again. "And what may I say this was regarding?"

He frowned. "You haven't heard of me?"

"Should I?"

He blinked. He didn't often run into people that didn't know his work, but it did happen every once in a while. "I write mysteries."

"As a matter of fact," an older man said, "He writes blockbuster mysteries."

Castle blinked again. Where had that man come from? He could've sworn that he hadn't been in the room a moment before, but there he was, standing by the secretary as if he had been there throughout all of the exchange. The man held out his hand. "I'm Judson, Mr. Castle."

"Please. Call me Richard."

"I... oversee Mr. Carsen. You might... call me a manager." He turned to the secretary. Charlene. That was her name. "When do we expect Mr. Carsen back?"

She looked rather discomfited. Looking at Castle suspiciously, she answered slowly, "Any minute now," she said.

"Would you like to sit down?" Judson said.

The secretary look startled and stared at Judson, as if she believed that he was going crazy. "I'm sure we can offer you some coffee while you wait, can't we, Charlene?"

"I suppose." she said, and she got up and went into another room, coming back with a fresh cup of coffee. She glanced at Judson again as she passed, and Castle heard her whisper. "You do remember what he's bringing in, right?"

"Of course," Judson replied. "And there should be no..."

The door burse open, and Flynn Carsen stumbled in. "I have to get this thing off!" He tore at his shirt, and Castle glimpsed a shining piece of armor through the shirt.

"Why are you wearing it!?" the secretary said.

"It was the only way I could think to take it through the subway without either the police investigating it or someone stealing it out of my Macy's shopping bag!" He tore his shirt, popping his buttons, and the armor was revealed - it was chain mail, and it shone unnaturally, getting brighter as Castle looked at it. Carsen leaned over, using his jacket to pull it gingerly over his shoulders, and it clanged to the floor. Carsen sighed and panted, as if he had been in a race. "Lancelot's armor, as ordered."

Judson smiled slightly. "Thank you."

The secretary cleared her throat, looking at Castle. Carsen turned and froze. "I'll bet you were wondering what that was all about," he said, finally.

Castle nodded, mutely.

"That would be... a play we're putting on," Carsen said. His eyes were a little too wide.

"Right," Castle said.

Judson reached down and picked up the armor. "Mr. Castle does not believe you," he said calmly. "Do you, Mr. Castle?"

Castle shook his head, still looking at the armor, then at Judson. Flynn turned to Judson, with a puzzled look.

"Judson," Charlene said, looking alarmed. "What are you doing?"

"I... believe that Mr. Castle has a purpose for being here."

"Right," she said, and turned to glare at Castle.

"It wasn't his fault I came in with - this," Flynn said, pointing at the chain mail, now hanging docilely from Judson's hand. The chain mail started to glow again. "I don't think it likes me." He backed away. "Shouldn't you put that away?"

"In a moment," Judson said calmly. "Mr. Castle, I believe that you are a library backer."

Castle stared at him. "Yes, I am. I've never seen you at one of the fundraisers."

"No, of course not." he said. He went on. "I do believe that you also solve mysteries with New York's finest."

Castle smiled involuntarily. "Detective Kate Beckett is the finest detectives in New York."

"Yes." He looked at Flynn. "We may need your services, but the New York Police cannot officially know."

"But Detective Beckett works in homicide," Castle said. He smiled. "Are you expecting a murder?"

"Yes," Judson said unblinking. "Mine."

"What?" Charlene and Flynn burst out. "Judson!"

"You see," Judson said. "I was not as old as I am now."

"What?" Castle said flatly. He wrinkled his nose. "Um," he said, glancing at Flynn, "we all age."

"I knew it," Flynn said, staring at Judson. "That's why you keep going into the Fountain of Youth."

"Yes," Judson said. "And you see how long that's lasting."

"Are you finally admitting that you're immortal?"

Judson laughed. "No, of course not. Nobody is... immortal." He sobered. "But I should be good for a few more centuries, at least."

Castle looked at the little man. "Did you just say…?"

"Yes," Flynn said. He looked triumphant and horrified at the same time. "He did." He narrowed his eyes. "And you don't want me to do the investigation - why?"

"Oh," Judson said. "I do want you to investigate. I just don't want you to do it alone."

"So what am I?" The secretary said. "Chopped liver?"

Judson shrugged. "I like chopped liver." He turned to her. "You're needed here."

""When would you like us to start?" Castle said.

"I'll talk to the commissioner and get Detective Beckett attached to my service. Can you start tomorrow?"

He wasn't sure whether to believe the claims of the elderly little man, but - well - it was better than getting stuck on a scene of a book. "Yes," he said.

"Good." Judson said. "I will see you tomorrow."

#

"I don't believe you," Flynn said. "I can't tell my mother what I do, and you're bringing in a detective and a novelist?"

Judson nodded. "Yes."

"Why?"

"I told you. They're the best team in town."

"And they're professional gabbers!"

"And," Judson said. "They can keep a secret, with the right persuasion."

Flynn stared at him.

"I may be letting them believe that the Library is a government facility. And that they'll be working with the FBI."

"The government doesn't know about the..."

Judson blinked at him.

"No. Of course not." Flynn shrugged. He really didn't think that the Library was government property; too many people would have known about it and it would have been in the tabloids.

One thing was still bothering him. "I don't understand why you're letting these outsiders in. Don't you trust me to find out what's going wrong with you?"

"Flynn, you're too close to the problem. As am I." Charlene looked up. "As are you. We need a fresh look at... my little problem."

"Your little problem! You're dying!"

Judson shrugged. "I still have another century or so."

Flynn looked at him, his head cocked. "A century? I thought you had a month. So why the song and dance to Mr. Castle?"

"I wasn't lying. Something is killing me." He shrugged again. "And I'm guessing about the century. I'd rather the investigation not take long."

"And?"

"And you have something to get for the Library. I can get Detective Beckett and Mr. Castle assigned to me for a couple of days."

"And you want them familiar with the library?"

"It might be useful someday."

"So what do you want me to do?" Charlene said.

"Answer questions," Judson said. "After Flynn leaves."

"Wait a minute," Flynn said. "Where will you be?"

"I may not be available."

"We're investigating what's killing you, and you're taking a trip?"

"I won't be taking a trip," Judson blinked. "I just may not be available."

" And I thought you had an assignment for me?"

Judson blinked. "Yes."

Flynn looked at Charlene. She shrugged. "He's done this before. I don't ask."

"I wouldn't tell you," Judson said, "even if you had asked."

"So I don't ask."

Flynn looked from one to the other and sighed. "Will I at least get to show the two of them around before you send me on this trip?"

"Oh, it's not much of a trip. It's a substitution."

"Huh?"

"There's an artifact at the Museum of Natural History that needs to be substituted."

Flynn smiled. "At that Museum? I love the new interactive exhibits."

"You should know that they're more than exhibits."

His smile dropped. "Don't tell me..."

Judson blinked. "Yes. The exhibits are not supposed to be interactive."

"I have to stop that?" He looked disappointed.

"No. We're monitoring that situation. The night guard has things under control. There was a situation for a while where I thought we might have to step in, but he ended up fine. Even when the... object... got sent to the Smithsonian."

"Ah." Flynn reflected that whenever his job got weird, something happened to make it weirder. "So what am I going to substitute?"

"Just a vase. I will arrange for the night guard, Mr. Daley, to meet you." Judson smiled. "Then perhaps he will introduce you to the…" he held up quoting figures "… exhibits."

"But not until after I introduce Castle and Beckett to the Library, right?"

"Yes." Flynn looked at Charlene, then back at Judson. Judson was gone.

"I hate when he does that."

#

Beckett scrunched up her face. "We're in the library, why?"

"Because we're trying to prevent a death," Castle said. "I told you."

"What you didn't' tell me," she griped, "was how you managed to bypass Gates to get the commissioner to assign me to this job." She looked around. "I usually only get involved after the blood is spilled."

"A lot of literary blood was spilled here," Castle said. "And it wasn't me that influenced the commissioner." He motioned to the stairs. "After you."

She gave him a puzzled look and walked up the stairs to the office. She walked in. The secretary looked up. "Ah, Mr. Castle. And this must be Detective Beckett." She didn't smile.

"Is Judson in, Charlene?"

"I never quite know..." She looked to one side. "Oh, here he is."

The small, bald man walked in. "Detective Beckett. It's a pleasure to meet you." He held out his hand, and Beckett took it and smiled. "Did Mr. Castle fill you in?"

"I'm afraid that he didn't, except that I was sent here to prevent a murder."

"That would be mine." Judson said.

"You look rather healthy," Beckett said, slowly.

"Something in the Library is killing me." He glanced at Castle.

"And - we believe that it's supernatural," Castle said, wincing.

"Oh," Judson said. "There's no doubt that it's supernatural."

"Really," Beckett said. She rolled her eyes.

"I'm telling you the truth, this time."

"And the rest of the time..." Beckett said, raising her eyebrow.

"Well," Castle said. "I always thought..."

Judson sighed as Flynn walked in. Flynn glanced at Castle, then at Beckett – and stopped dead. "Simone? How…"

Beckett's eyebrows drew together as she held out her hand. "I am Detective Kate Beckett," she said. "And you are?"

Flynn seemed to pull himself together. "Sorry. You just really reminded me of someone I knew – who passed away." He held out his hand. "I'm Flynn Carsen." He cocked his head. "Would you have any French in your background?"

Beckett shrugged. "I believe so. I'm not sure."

Castle cleared his throat. "The Library."

"Yes," Judson said, giving Flynn a sympathetic look. "Let us show you... the real library." He walked to a bookcase, pulled a book, and a door came open. A guard looked at them. "They're all right, Flynn said. The guard nodded. They entered an elevator, and rode down in silence. After a second, Castle remarked, "I didn't realize the library was this big."

Flynn smiled. "Oh, it's even bigger than you might think." The elevator door opened into a hallway, then a double door. Flynn threw them open. "And here's the library."

Castle got the impression of vastness, then his attention was snapped to the sword that came out of nowhere and pointed itself at them.

"There's somebody here with a cloaked outfit?" Beckett said.

Flynn looked at her. "Somebody's making cloaked outfits? Like a cloaking shield?" He grabbed a sword from the wall and lunged forward, lunging at the Sword. "Cool." The Sword circled around Flynn. "Excalibur! These people are friends!" A pan pipe floated up, playing lively music while Flynn fought Excalibur. "Go rest!" Flynn said, as he parried at the sword, slapping it down.

The sword snapped upright, as if in salute, then lowered as it floated off and set himself in a stone.

"THE Excalibur?" Castle said, his eyes wide.

"It's annoying." Flynn said, glaring at the sword then glared at the pipes. "And shut up."

The flute stopped with a squeak.

"Is this a laboratory?" Beckett said.

Castle blinked. "A laboratory this big?" He glanced at her. She looked a little shell shocked.

Flynn frowned. "No, this is the library. These are all magic."

Castle was grinning.

Beckett shook her head. "There must be some sort of scientific explanation."

Flynn started to talk, Judson stopped him. "Detective, haven't you ever found anything you can't explain?"

"Well," she said, "yes. Then I find an expert who will explain things to me."

"Consider us your experts," Judson said. "Let me pose this question to you. Do you consider the human race to have reached the limit of knowledge?"

"No," she said. "Of course not."

"'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,'" Castle said. "Arthur C. Clarke."

"Are you saying that these are inventions?" She pointed to the sword floating menacingly behind her.

"Perhaps not human inventions," Judson said, "but would help you believe in inventions rather than magic?"

"Hmmm... Well..."

"Then let me put it this way, Detective," Judson continued. "Don't you believe... in divine intervention?"

"Wait a minute," Beckett said, shaking her head. "First, you talk about inventions, then you bring up the divine?"

Judson nodded.

Flynn snorted. "We don't need you to understand what's powering these... things," Flynn said. "We just need you to find out what's happening with Judson."

"Flynn," Judson said, "we can do both at once."

"I prefer to believe in magic," Castle interjected.

Judson looked up at Flynn. "Did Charlene... have them sign the non-disclosure forms?"

Flynn smiled. "She did."

"Question," Castle said.

"Yes, Mr. Castle?" Judson said.

"Should I decide to write a book - fiction, mind you - with fantasy elements, I won't be put in jail, will I?"

Judson smiled broadly, "No, of course not." he said. "But consider... your words carefully, or things may happen."

Castle looked nonplused. "Okay," he said. "Don't name the characters Flynn, Charlene, or Judson. Got it." He shook his head. "I should probably stick with the hard-boiled mysteries."

"Yeah," Beckett said, her voice ironic. "And leave your flights of fantasy for the murder investigations."

"Hey," Castle said. "My theories are based on cold, hard, solid facts."

"Yeah," Beckett smiled. "Right."

"So," Beckett said. "Exactly how are we supposed to find what's killing you?"

Castle's eyes lit up. "Do we get to go through the library?"

"Not without supervision," Charlene warned.

Castle and Beckett jumped. When had she come?

"Ah, Charlene," Judson said. "Is everything all right upstairs?"

"Oh, yes," she said. "I locked the door."

"I'll be with them, Charlene," Flynn said.

Charlene didn't look comforted. "As I said..."

"And they will have a guardian with them," Judson said. He suddenly looked tired. "I believe - I shall go to rest."

He took two steps and disappeared behind a large plant. Castle blinked.

"He does that a lot," Flynn said.

"There's a hidden door back there," Beckett said.

"No, there isn't," Flynn said flatly. "Shall we get started?"

Castle looked around. This was the first good chance that he had had to look at the large room.

"And you expect us to find the murder weapon in this?" Becket said, staring around the room. The cavern? It looked endless.

Castle stepped tentatively out into the room. "The scrolls of Alexandria," he murmured, putting his fist almost in his mouth.

"Yeah," Flynn said. "I had that reaction, too." A white haired man stepped from a side hall. Flynn looked surprised. "Jenkins. I thought you were at the Annex."

"Judson called me in to help you." He looked at Beckett and Castle and frowned. "I disagree that we need to bring in outside help."

Flynn inclined his head. "Judson insisted."

Castle looked at the older looking man. "Is this one of the Guardians?"

"No," Flynn said. "Jenkins runs the Library's annex."

"So, not a fighter." Castle said.

Jenkins smiled slightly. "But today I am going to serve as a Guardian, so I would suggest you not try to cross me. I may surprise you." He headed down an aisle. "Shall we get started?"

"I thought I might start them in the small items room."

"And I," Jenkins said, "Thought they should start with the card catalog."

"The card catalog? Really?" Castle made a face.

Flynn smiled. "Wait until you see it."

"I'll be along in a minute," Jenkins said. "I need to look something else up."

Flynn nodded, then walked led them down one aisle, then another. Castle started to feel faint. "Is that," he said, "the Spear of Destiny?"

"Oh," Flynn said. "That old thing? That was the first object I retrieved when I was hired."

"How did you get this job?"

"I got invited."

"Beckett?" There was a pleading note in his voice.

"Castle," Beckett said. "You're a bestselling author who helps solve crimes with the NYPD. I thought that was your dream job."

"I can have another dream job, can't I?"

Beckett smiled. Flynn started to look smug, then wistful. "On the other hand, I would dearly love to write a bestselling novel."

"It's not as easy as you might think."

"I know," Flynn said. "I tried to write a book once."

"What happened?"

"Even I could tell that it stunk." He opened a door. "The card catalogue."

Beckett peered into the room. "You have got to be kidding."

Castle grinned. "I love it!" He looked over at Flynn. "Are you sure Hogwarts isn't in here?"

At first glance, there was a room with a number of file cabinets. But the cabinet drawers were constantly going in and out and file cards were jumping from one part of the file to another.

"That is not practical," Beckett said.

"But it's fun," the two men said.

She sighed. "How are we supposed to work in here with everything flying around?"

"Have you ever seen how the computer works on Star Trek?"

"Um..." Becket said.

"It's voice activated?" Castle said, his eyes gleaming.

"Yep,"

"But," Beckett said. "Where do we start?"

"You frame your questions like you would the Enterprise computer," Flynn said. "I'll leave you to it. I have to fetch something."

"Wait." Beckett said. "How will we find our way out?"

"Ask the card catalogue," the voice echoed down the hall.

"And... he's gone," she said.

"I'm surprised that they're leaving us here by ourselves."

"Actually," Castle said. "We're not alone." He nodded toward the door, where Excalibur was hanging. "I think that Excalibur will watch over us." He stepped to the middle of the room. "I can't believe I said that!"

"If your voice goes any higher, you're going to squee."

"Men don't squee."

"Right."

"What artifacts in the library would do harm to Judson?" Castle said, rhetorically. She started as the card catalogue stopped for a minute. Nothing popped up.

Castle smiled. "Guess we should narrow that down, huh?" Castle said. "What are the new items in the library in the past three months?"

Fifty cards popped up.

"You know," Beckett said, "his troubles could be due to old age."

"I know," Castle said. "But I doubt it. He said something about being centuries old."

"Nobody is centuries old," she scoffed. "But I do wonder how old he actually is."

"Card Catalogue, how old is Judson?"

A card popped in front of him. He read it and shook his head.

"What?"

Castle looked up at Beckett. "If this is right," Castle said slowly. "Flynn is right. He is a lot older than he looks." By too many zeroes, Castle thought.

"One hundred?"

Castle frowned. "A little bit older." He wasn't even going to tell Beckett about this one. On the other hand, the truth here wasn't any stranger than some of the stories he came up with...

Naw.

"Let me look," she said.

He pushed it out of the way. "This isn't helping us help him."

"True."

"Maybe," Castle said, "Instead of concentrating on what's making him ill, we should concentrate on what would make him better." He looked at the other cards, still floating in air.

Beckett followed his gaze up. "It has to be wires. Really."

Castle looked at the sword hanging in the doorway. "Somehow, I wouldn't want to test that theory." The Sword took a dip downward, solidly, without swaying. "Or these are the most amazing wires I've ever seen."

"Well," she said. "Let's look at these cards, first." She tried to pull one down, but her fingers slipped off of the card. She looked at her hand, then the card. Getting a determined look on her face, she tried again ... and failed.

Castle smiled. "You don't believe in magic." He reached up, grabbed the card, and pulled it down. "The burial cloth of Lazarus."

"Lazarus?"

"The man that Jesus raised from the dead?"

"Oh. That Lazarus. Right."

Castle pulled another card down. "The staff of the wandering Jew."

"That's supposedly the person who mocked Jesus on the cross, right?"

"Right. Condemned to wander the world until the second coming."

"So far," Beckett said. "Both objects have Jesus in common." She shook her head. "I can't believe I said that."

Castle snorted and grabbed another card. "I wish that I had a flying broom so I could grab all of these."

"If you had your way, you'd play Quidditch in a minute, wouldn't you?"

"Uh-huh." He looked at the card. "The loincloth Methuselah wore." He made a face. "Euww. What magical powers would that one have?"

"I don't think I want to know." Becket said. "But, still biblical. Next one?"

"The philosopher's stone."

"Not Biblical."

"The Ankh of Tutankhamen."

"Worked out well for the boy king, didn't it?" Beckett said.

"Well," Castle said. "At least he's going to be remembered forever, right? Here's another. The head feather of a Phoenix."

"Why not a tail feather?"

"Because that's in Harry Potter's wand."

"Really, Castle," Beckett said. "Why are you obsessed with Harry Potter right now?"

"Are you kidding?" He looked up at the cards. "How can I not be obsessed with Harry Potter right now?"

He pulled down another card. "Ponce de Leon's Spring of Immortality."

"Really, Castle," Beckett said. "How could they move an entire spring?"

"Carefully," said a female voice at the door.

"Ah..."

"I came down to see how you were doing,"Charlene said. "I'll just bet that Flynn didn't bother to tell you much. And I know that Jenkins is patrolling."

"Tell us things such as..." Castle said.

"Well," she said. "Practical matters. Such as the way to the exit? Or to the bathroom?"

"Well," Beckett said. "I was wondering, but I really didn't need to use yet."

"And besides which," she said. "If you don't have anyone down here with some perspective on what to do or how these objects work, or even where they are - that makes your help a bit useless."

Castle looked up at the hanging cards. "I didn't realize that there were so many objects to keep a person immortal."

"Many more ways to kill a person. Which is why many of them are tucked away safe in the library."

"How could this exist and nobody know about it?" Beckett asked.

"The library has ways of picking people who keeps it's secrets."

"Nobody's ever talked?"

"Never." she said. "And if they do, nobody ever believes them."

"Why doesn't Judson... retire?" Castle said.

Charlene looked a little shocked, then thoughtful. "I don't believe that he can."

"Really?"

"You see," she said. "Flynn may be the Librarian, but Judson is the Library. Or at least the spirit of the Library. Just as Jenkins is the spirit of the Annex."

"You mean," Castle said, "they're both already dead?"

"No, of course not," Charlene said. "If so, why do you think Judson hired you."

Beckett wrinkled her forehead. "Does he think that some person is trying to kill him?"

"Oh," she said. "The Library does have its enemies, but none can get in here."

"So he's sure it's an object?"

"I've been going about this all wrong," Castle said, suddenly. "Card Catalogue. What artifact will keep Judson alive the longest?"

The cards jumped into the drawers, and one flew out and into Castle's hands.

"Alice's Mirror?"

"Oh, of course," she said. "The other side of the mirror. He'll age backwards over there."

Beckett blinked. "Huh?"

"You have Alice in Wonderland's mirror?"

"One of them." She pursed her lips. "The dangerous one is being kept in another facility."

Castle grinned. "Cool!" His smile faded. "But," he said, "I get the impression that he's very, very old. Would he have to stay over there an equal amount of time in order to be youthful again?"

Charlene's mouth fell. "Well, I understand that backwards time is accelerated," she said, "but unless we find what's killing him, he won't be able to emerge in our lifetime." She frowned. "Which means that Judson's interaction with us will have to be extremely limited. And Flynn will be the only Librarian."

"Wait a minute," Beckett said. "I didn't think Judson was the Librarian."

"He's not."

"I'm confused," Castle said.

"And it's best," said Charlene, "That you don't think too much about it."

Castle got a look of delight on his face. "He's M." The two women looked at him, blank. "James Bond's boss? You don't watch James Bond?" They shook their heads. He sighed.

"But that still doesn't explain what's killing Judson," Beckett said, with a look of frustration on his face.

"Actually," Judson said, appearing in the opposite side of the room from the door, "I now believe I know what's going on."

"What?" Castle's head swiveled around. "How did you...?" He stared at Beckett, who looked as puzzled as he did.

"Unfortunately," Judson continued. "I can't explain the problem to you." Jenkins appeared beside him. "But Galaha..." Jenkins cleared his throat, loudly, as Castle and Beckett fixated on him. "Jenkins." Judson blinked. "I forgot that you don't use that name." He smiled. "I do need a rest. Anyway, Jenkins is a young man; he'll help with the Library when he can."

"When I can get out of the Annex," Jenkins grumbled.

"I had never thought of Alice's Mirror," Judson said. "Good work."

Castle felt unaccountably pleased, yet disturbed. "But we haven't found out what's killing you."

"And that's... fine," Judson soothed. "What I need for you to do now is keep a watch out for Flynn. If you see anything unusual," he gestured at the card catalog, "in the Librarian sort of sense, get hold of the Library."

"Um," Beckett said. "This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this."

Judson smiled slightly. "That's because – like most people - you've never looked."

Castle smiled back. "I'll watch."

"I know you will," Judson said. "Now... we need to prepare Alice's mirror before Flynn comes back."

A spasm came over Charlene's face, then she composed herself. "Right."

"You two can go." Judson said. "And thank you."

"Wait," Castle said. "Will I never find out what happened?"

"I'll have Charlene talk to you," he said. Charlene, can you show them out? Jenkins and I need to prepare."

"Right," she said, and gestured to the two. "Come along." She walked briskly, taking Castle and Beckett up the elevator to the office. "I'm sure you know your way out from here..." Suddenly, she broke down, and Castle took her in his arms.

"You really like him, don't you?" Beckett said.

She nodded her head in Castle's shoulder, then sighed and pulled away. "Well," she said, drying her eyes. "It's not like I won't see him again." She composed her face to her business standard. "Thank you, Mr. Castle, Detective Beckett. I'll be in touch. But right now, I also need to prepare."

"Right."

She pushed them out into the main library, then closed the door. They stared back at it, then Beckett looked at Castle. "Did that really happen?"

"I saw it," Castle said. "I think."

"What am I going to tell Gates?"

"What I would suggest," Castle said, "is nothing. Besides, we signed a non-disclosure agreement."

"But..." Beckett said, looking at the door.

"I'll tell them the truth. They won't believe me, anyway. All you need to do is smile and roll your eyes."

"But I saw..." She shook her head. "There must be a logical explanation for that."

Castle nodded. "There you go. Just keep telling yourself that."

"But..."

He laid a finger on her lips. "There must be a logical explanation," he said soothingly.

"A logical explanation," she said, looking at the door, then turning away and striding off.

He spent another second, staring at the door, then smiled and strode off after her. Now that he knew that such things existed, he was going to look at things even harder and even more skewed to one side or the other.

And this was going to drive Kate nuts, wasn't it? He smiled - and not only that, he think he had the nucleus of a new book.

"And don't you dare write anything about this," Charlene called after him, opening the office door. "We have contacts in the publishing industry."

Castle's smile dropped, and he stood still for a second. "Oh, well, there was always the mysteries," he muttered.

"Good boy!" Charlene yelled.

Beckett looked at Castle and grinned.