Word Count: 1, 158

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following work of fiction.

Warnings: Contains mature content.

As they pulled up to the precinct, Beckett's phone rang.


Castle watched as she hummed in agreement to whomever was on the phone. He watched the play of light through her hair and thought back to their morning. Since Castle had known him, Jacques St. Jean had been a charming flirt. Not unlike Castle himself. However, seeing the innocent interactions directed towards someone Castle had more than a passing attraction to, sparked a ripple of jealousy.

"That was Lanie. She said she's heading over with the autopsy results," Beckett said, pulling Castle from his thoughts.

He followed her into the bullpen, taking up his place by her desk as Ryan and Esposito gathered the information they had found.

"Luke Demarcus had one sister in Jersey. The parents died when he and his sister were young and the grandparents died a couple years back," Esposito read.

"Lived alone. Worked at an antique store in Midtown," Ryan added, flipping through the file.

Beckett tapped her fingers on her desk as she digested the information. She took the folder that Ryan handed her and browsed the facts gathered. One person's whole life reduced to some words on a page.

"Alright, you guys head down to Queens and talk to the sister. The usual, enemies, money problem and so on. We'll wait for Lanie then head to Midtown and talk to his boss; see if he recognizes the coins. Call me if anything comes up."

"Sure thing boss," said Ryan, following his partner to the elevator.

Beckett rolled a white board over to her desk and picked up a marker.

"Is there anything I can do?" Castle asked, flipping through the case file.

"Grab a marker," Beckett nodded.

Together they set up the timeline and the details they had accumulated on the case. Just as they finished, Lanie appeared carrying another folder with her.

"He was shot. Once in the forehead. The round was recovered from inside his skull. It was a .38. X-rays show he also sustained multiple bone fractures in his ribs and a broken wrist. The way the bones are broken in the wrist are common in someone who's fending someone off," the ME explained, taking Castle's hand and demonstrating. "The arm was brought up to shield himself as he was struck, breaking the wrist."

"So he was beaten, shot and then placed on a funeral pyre in Central Park. Doesn't really fit with some sort of cultish ritual does it?" Castled mused, flipping through the autopsy report.

"Thanks Lanie," Beckett said, walking with the ME back to the elevator.

"No problem. I needed to join the living for a little while," she laughed, waving as she stepped onto the elevator. "Everything's in the file."

When Beckett returned to her desk, Castle was adding the new details and photos to the whiteboard and updating the timeline. As he finished, she looked over what they had managed to gather since the call that morning.

"Alright, let's go see what the boss has to say."

As soon as they entered the quaint little shop, Beckett knew it was a bad idea. With knick knacks, bric-à-brac , and breakable objects as far as the eye could see, the place was just begging for Castle to get in trouble.

Of course, true to form, not even a minute after the bell chimed above the door, the author had bumped into a statue and dropped an incense burner he was inspecting.

"Can I help you?" came a mildly amused voice from behind the counter.

The man stood from his crouch and pushed his glasses farther up his nose. He appeared to be in his 60's with thick salt and pepper hair and a cheerful smile.

"I'm Detective Kate Beckett with the NYPD and this is Richard Castle. We're looking for the owner," she said, flashing her badge quickly.

"Well you're in luck. This is my shop. Stephen Riley. May I ask what this is in regards to?"

"We'd like to talk to you about your employee Luke Demarcus."

"Of course, come this way. Mr. Castle I'm going to have to ask you not to touch," he scolded gently.

The author guiltily pulled his hands from an urn full of sharpened spears and followed quietly behind Beckett.

"Luke's not in trouble is he?" Riley asked, ushering them into a comfortable sitting area at the back of the store.

"He was found murdered this morning in Central Park," Beckett said as Riley set down a plate of cookies on the coffee table in front of them.

"Oh dear."

Riley collapsed into the overstuffed chair across from Castle and Beckett's couch as and regarded them with wide eyes.

"Mr. Riley I hate to ask, but where were you this morning between two thirty and three thirty?"

"I-I was at home. Sleeping," he stuttered as Castle helped himself to another cookie. "I got up at five so I could be here for six and finish inventory before I opened at eight."

"Can anyone verify that?" Beckett asked, jotting down the details.

"Just my wife. I mean, the man in the apartment next to me works nights and he saw me leave a little after five thirty."

Beckett wrote down the wife and neighbor's names before turning back to her questioning. She threw an irritated glare at Castle when he asked for a drink to go with the cookies.

"What? Good cookies," Castle muttered around a mouthful.

"Mr. Riley had Luke missed any work in the past couple of weeks?"

"No," he said, producing milk from a mini fridge by his desk. "I didn't even know he was missing. He had two days off, including today."

"When was the last time you saw him?"

"A day a go. He worked here until close and I brought him something for lunch at about one."

"Have you ever seen these before?"

Riley took the photo Beckett showed him of the coins and studied it carefully. His brow furrowed in thought.

"No. We don't usually have coins unless they're specially ordered and the last order was months ago. It was for something for more contemporary than this."

"Was Luke a good employee?" Castle asked, setting his empty glass on the table.

"Yes. I wouldn't have hired him if he wasn't."

"So nothing ever went missing? You never had any problems with him?"

"I've never had any problems with Luke," Riley said, scratching his jaw. "There was a theft a couple of months ago, a sword, but the police said it was just a random theft."

"Okay, well thank you for your time," Beckett said, standing.

"And the cookies," supplied Castle.

With a shake of her head, Beckett handed the shop keeper her card and told him to call if anything else came to mind. As they headed out to the car, Castle looked over at his partner.

"What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking we need to look into that theft again."

Author's Note: So due to school and life things my partner/beta is currently MIA most of the time and I'm quickly discovering casefic is a beast to write, hence the long delay. So with that in mind…

Wanted: Someone to bounce ideas off/beta read this fic (possibly more in the future). Must be willing to offer criticism beyond yeah, great, loved it etc. Being available a couple nights a week or able to respond to emails within a day or two is preferable. Keeping in mind this fic probably won't be a Caskett one. Send offers to: sweet_n_inocent666(at)hotmail(dot)com with Beta Reader in the subject line.