A/N: Just felt like warning you, one of the genres is supernatural. So this won't turn out exactly like a Scooby-Doo episode. The Wizards of Waverly Place crossover also kicks in this chapter - ended up including a little more of that show than I originally intended, but I like how everything turned out. Thanks for the great reviews, glad I did okay with my first Castle chapter story! Hopefully you won't mind the slightly unusual twist. ;)
After what felt like an hour of running, Rick and Beckett managed to put some distance between themselves and the lizard…but not enough to reach another ladder. They reached an intersection, so they dared to catch their breath. For a brief moment, they stood next to each other, their hands on their knees. "So…it was a mutant lizard monster!" Rick said through jagged gasps for air. "Finally! I knew one of my theories to turn out right one of these days."
"Not…funny…Castle…" Beckett sputtered. She looked back down the sewage pipe to make sure the pursuer still wasn't in sight. "We have to figure out what the hell that thing is so we can get out of here alive. There has to be a way to unmask the monster."
Rick shrugged. "I didn't see a zipper in the back. Although, that could be because I was far too busy screaming." Naturally, the creature had scared him. If it was fake, then he had to give major kudos to the costume maker. Every drip of slime, every razor-sharp tooth, even the bad breath all seemed so real. "Wait, correct me if I'm wrong, but…if this was the murderer, wouldn't he just want to scare us off? Why would he want to test his luck by offing a cop and a famous writer when he doesn't need to?"
"That's…true…" Beckett realized, her eyes widened as she looked with the flashlight further down the pipe they'd just run through to check if it was clear. "I don't see anything. Do you honestly think we're okay, though? It really looked like it wanted to rip us to shreds."
"Well, yeah, we should still get out of here as soon as we can," Rick agreed, then explained, "One of my theories finally turned out to be right, which means we probably shouldn't trust my next one. Just your basic odds."
Beckett gave him a perplexed look in response before she looked around the intersection. "Okay then, do you see a piece of duct tape anywhere? Maybe we're close to the crime scene. Hopefully we didn't take too many wrong turns."
"I don't see one. So which way do we go?" Rick asked. They were at an intersection where they could choose to either keep going straight or make a right.
"Um, well…hold on, let me get a mental picture of where we are in the park," Beckett said as she closed her eyes. Rick let her think, and kept a watchful eye on the entrance. Fortunately for them, because the monster was picking up speed, thundering down the sewer. It let out another loud hiss that made Beckett's eyes snap open. "Oh, God."
His pulse quickening, Rick asked, "Which way?"
"Turn. Hurry!" Beckett said while she started to do so. But before she could, the lizard super-sped to their choice's entrance to block them from escape. "Oh my God!" she exclaimed. "How the hell did it do that?"
Rick stared at the lizard with new-found terror. "Someone's been eating his Wheaties."
"This is insane," Beckett muttered as she took out her gun again and tried to seem threatening. "Who are you?" she demanded. "What do you want?"
The lizard's huge bug-eyes blinked. Then it turned its head and shot some acidic green goop at the other two exits.
"Oh, God, we're gonna die," Rick said in horror.
Beckett's face also overcome with pure fear, one of the few times Rick had ever seen that, she determinedly emptied her gun into the monster. Her shots were aimed all over the place with the hope that she'd hit a weak spot. Given what happened last time it was shot, Rick wasn't that surprised when the lizard barely lost balance.
However, it did roar with annoyance and start to pick at the bullets. This gave them a precious few minutes to think of their next move. Or say their final prayers.
As she moved closer to him so they could talk, Beckett explained, "I don't know what the hell is going on here, but I'll be damned if I'm going to die by being clawed to death. We throw the thing off-balance so that he crashes into his own acid, then we go back the way we came."
"Brilliant. See, this is why you're the cop, and I'm the writer," Rick replied gratefully. "Because I was about to start saying all kinds of sentimental yet eloquent last words."
"Oh, please," she said as she gestured to the lizard. The irritated monster was trying to pick a bullet out of his left foot. "He's totally distracted. We've been standing here talking for like what, a minute? In fact, we should probably make our move now so we can get ahead for - "
She was interrupted when there was a sudden, bright flash of purple light that made both of them cover their eyes. What's this? Rick thought eagerly. More weirdness? I love this case so much!
When the light subsided, the sewer was still there…but all of the green acid was gone. And the lizard monster was still trying to pull bullets out. But someway, somehow, it was only a foot tall.
Shocked, the two could only stand there in silence for a long, bewildered moment as they stared at their pint-sized attacker. Even Rick, the experienced writer, could not think of an explanation that made sense. He hadn't even known what the lizard really was, so thinking of why it had suddenly shrunk was nearly impossible. On that note, he didn't even want to imagine how hard this must be for serious, logical Beckett to comprehend.
As if on cue, Beckett sputtered, "W-what the hell just happened?"
"A miracle," Rick reminded her. "That thing would've killed us eventually."
Frustrated, Beckett shook her head. "I know, Castle, but…just how? There has…there has to be some way to explain…There has to be…"
Afraid she might be having a breakdown, Rick quickly put an arm around her shoulders. "Come on, let's get back to the precinct, or at least back to the car so you can relax. We can look at the crime scene another day."
"N-no…" Becket insisted. "I need to find out…how…"
His heart was breaking for her at that point. This was traumatizing her, and there was nothing he could do to help. "I'm sorry, Kate. For once in maybe the entire time I've known you, I'm not sure what to say."
Her head was spinning. Between running from the monster, and then witnessing "a miracle," Kate really needed to sit down. But since that wasn't an option, she took out her gun and pointed it to where the light had come from.
Alarmed, Castle raised an eyebrow. "Uh, Beckett?"
"Someone had to flash that light. It didn't appear out of nowhere," Kate insisted. Her mind was going through every possible explanation for what happened, including someone replacing the giant lizard with a similar, smaller version, but none seemed probable. So she relied on her first instinct – taking some sort of control over the situation. "NYPD," she barked. "I don't know where you're hiding, but whoever you are, show yourselves now."
"Great, now you're going to get us arrested. I always knew this would happen."
The voice was distinctly male, but...younger, like a teenager. Another teenager's voice, this one a girl's, replied to him.
"What? That we'd be fighting a lizard monster and expose magic in front of a cop? Talk about freakishly accurate paranoia."
"Very funny. I meant that you'd be arrested one day, and take me down with you."
"You're the one who started talking! If we'd just stayed quiet, no one would've known we were even here!"
"Okay, that was my bad. But I can't help it, authority figures make my nervous! Especially when there's a gun pointed at me!"
Surprised, confused Kate traded glances with equally confused Castle. They heard the teenage voices loud and clear, but the speakers were still hidden. And the odd conversation topic just made the situation worse. "Magic"? And how am I pointing the gun at him when he isn't even here? What the hell is going on? Kate thought frantically. Her gun still held out in front of her, she demanded again, "Show yourselves now."
"Okay, okay! Please don't shoot!" the male voice pleaded.
There was another spark of light, this one blue. When it cleared, sure enough, there were two nearly average teenagers around Alexis' age standing there, a girl and boy who looked like they could be siblings. The boy was wearing a black vest that covered his upper body. And they were both carrying weird sticks in their hands, the girl's red and decorated, the guy's simple wood.
Still plenty wary, Kate showed some faith and put her gun back in its holster. Shaking with nerves, the boy seemed like he was about to pass out any second. And while she put up a brave front, Kate could sense that the girl was equally afraid. She wasn't sure what it was, maybe neglected maternal instinct, but she felt as if they were just kids who'd ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time, despite their unusual behavior. Of course, she wasn't about to drop the tough cop image just yet. "I want your names, and an explanation," she ordered, her arms crossed in an intimidating manner. "What's going on here? And you'll possibly save yourselves a trip to the precinct if you tell the truth the first time."
The anxious teens exchanged unsure looks. Finally, the boy cleared his throat. "I-I'm Justin Russo, and this is my little sister, Alex. And, uh..."
Alex sighed. "We're wizards. We have wands," she said as she held up hers. "And magic powers. My brother is a monster hunter, so we were tracking the lizard beast." She pointed to the miniaturized creature, which was still picking bullets out of its body. "That's what killed that guy the other night."
"Alex!" Justin admonished, frustration in his voice. "Didn't you learn anything from Crumbs' test? You don't expose magic. Ever."
Instead of showing remorse, Alex rolled her eyes. "Well what was I supposed to tell them, that we're aliens or something?" At Justin's "that would've been better" expression, she shrugged. "Eh, what can I say, I guess I'm going through an honesty phase. It'll pass, I'm sure."
"Wait, wait, hold on a second," Castle finally spoke up. He actually seemed to be enjoying this confrontation, amused by the siblings' banter and amazed by the supposed existence of magic. "What kind of wizards are you? Like in Charmed and Dangerous?" At Kate's exasperated glance, he explained, "I had to ask! Alexis loved those books!"
Justin chuckled. "Yeah. Actually, our friend Harper got one of us to send her back in time so she could write and sell those books, which she based on our lives." He paused. "I'm still wondering how any of us thought that was a good idea. Makes me worried that Alex becomes the family wizard after all."
"Says the guy who just panicked and let the mortals know we were here," Alex snapped. "If we did things my way, we would've been able to capture the lizard thing and sneak away without getting arrested. Sure, the cop probably would've ended up in therapy, but again, not my fault."
This is getting way out of hand, Kate thought. Despite the impossible conversation, she was determined to make sense of this mess. "Hey, 'the cop's' name is Detective Kate Beckett. I still don't know what's going on, but I'm taking you two down to the precinct. Maybe waiting in jail until your parents take you home will get you to start telling the truth. The real truth."
"You know what, I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner," Justin said as he held up his wand. At Alex's look, he explained, "I'll just cast a memory spell on them so they forget the monster and us. Problem solved."
As Kate's eyes widened, curious what exactly he meant by that, Castle stepped in. "Whoa, okay now, there has to be some way to resolve this without...that. How about, uh, we just promise to keep our mouths shut and let you two go?"
"Excuse me, Castle?" Kate retorted, almost hysterical from aggravation. "There's no such thing as magic, okay? There's an explanation for everything we've seen, we just can't figure it out yet. I'm not letting our only suspects walk because you believe their insane story!"
About to get out her handcuffs, Kate started to feel dizzy again, overwhelmed by the damp sewer air and all she'd witnessed in the last hour. Though she tried to fight it, she eventually fainted, falling into Castle's arms as everything went black.
"Merry Christmas, Theresa! You've raised some wonderful kids. Thanks for being a fan, love Rick Castle." He handed the copy of Naked Heat to excited Justin. "Here you go. I meant every word."
"You wouldn't if you got to know us," Alex assured him. She glanced at the signature, then narrowed her eyes at Justin. "That Christmas present is from me too, by the way."
Justin raised an eyebrow. "Hah! I'm the one who thought of it! You didn't even know Mom was a fan of his books!"
"I know she's a fan of his picture on the back covers," Alex said with a laugh, which made Rick's face redden. She then turned to the author. "Yeah, she thinks you're 'muy caliente.' I'm pretty sure that means cute." Shaking her head, she added, "Besides, Justin, he wouldn't even be here to sign the book if I hadn't used the shrinking spell on that lizard."
Despite his embarrassment, Rick had to chuckle at the translation mix-up. Both Alex and Justin had such unique, entertaining personalities that he'd love to make them characters. So not fair that the Charmed and Dangerous author could travel back in time and beat me to it, he thoughtresentfully. I call foul. "She has a point, Justin. I'm making an executive decision. The book's from both of you." Though Justin wasn't happy about it, he reluctantly nodded in acceptance.
They were standing the park, above the sewers where they'd met. The siblings had used their magic to transport everyone above ground. Of course Castle had been unnerved by the sensation of traveling by magic, but he was still able to support unconscious Beckett and lay her on a nearby bench. That's when Justin remembered that his mother was a fan, and Rick had told him where the copy of Naked Heat was in his apartment so the wizard could make it appear. Giving the Russos a hardcover copy of his latest book from his private stash seemed like the least he could do.
As he looked over at Beckett, he did feel awful that she hadn't been able to take the news. But he was pretty happy to discover that magic actually existed. He always tried to find the excitement, the unexpected in life, even if he had to make it up himself. So realizing that sometimes what seemed to be fantastically impossible could be such wasn't a bad thing at all. In fact, it made him hopeful that maybe one day he'd run into something other worldly again. Naturally, he also hoped whatever it was would be as friendly and helpful as these two wizards.
Funny how he and Alexis were just talking about this the other day. At least now he knew he was being honest. Too bad he couldn't tell her about this. Well, he could, but she'd never believe him.
"Look you two...thanks again," he said. "And I promise I'll never breathe a word of this to anyone. I'm all for the whole eccentric author image, but I think professing my belief in the paranormal would be a little much."
The siblings laughed. "Thanks, Mr. Castle," Justin replied while Alex nodded appreciatively. "Honestly, I always feel a little weird casting memory spells. It's like an invasion of privacy." He gave his sister a meaningful glare. "And trust me, I know what that's like."
"Hah, hah, hah," Alex retorted. "I'll have you know that I haven't stolen anything from your room in over a month." At her brother's look, she confessed, "Okay, a week. But I returned the stuff I stole a month ago, so that doesn't count!"
Rick chuckled again, amazed that wizards could have normal sibling problems. "Oh man, I really wish I could write a book about you two."
"Already been done," Justin said, as if the author needed reminding.
Pouting, Rick whined, "And it's so not fair!"
Still worried as she looked over at the unconscious cop, Alex said, "So, we don't have to worry about Detective Beckett, right? Like, she's not going to wake up and issue a warrant for our arrest, is she?" She glanced at her brother. "Maybe we should do the memory spell. On her at least."
Alarmed when Justin considered the idea, Rick sputtered, "Whoa, whoa, no one's casting a spell on Beckett! There's no way she'd be okay with that...if she did believe in magic..." However, he had to admit that it wasn't exactly a bad idea. He knew that accepting magic's existence, or trying to prove to herself that it didn't, might cost Beckett some of her sanity. Still, he knew it wasn't his choice to allow the Russos to erase her memories.
So he made another executive decision. "How about this..." he began. "When Beckett wakes up...I'll tell her that she fainted before we even entered the sewer. She'll probably think everything else was a dream anyway."
Sure, Rick would always feel guilty about lying to Beckett this way. And she would be furious with him if she ever found out. Still, if he could spare Beckett the pain of going through this, he was going to do it, whether it was the right choice or not.
The wizards were satisfied with that plan, and the three said their good-byes. They exchanged personal email addresses, both so the kids could let Rick know how their mother liked the present, and so they could warn him if there were any supernatural killers he and Beckett should avoid. Of course, he had no idea how he would keep Beckett away from anything she thought committed murder, but he sure would try.
She was lying on what felt like a bench. And someone was poking her shoulder.
Her mind still unclear, Kate managed to slowly open her eyes, then blinked when the bright sun seemed harsh. Finally her vision sharpened enough that she felt comfortable keeping her eyes open.
"Rise and shine, Beckett." Castle's voice sounded so loud. Was he right next to her? "Wakey, wakey."
"Stop it..." Kate muttered. One hand on the bench's back, she managed to pull herself up. "What the hell happened?" she moaned as she put her free hand to her aching head. "Last I remember, we were...we were..." For some reason, her memory of the last few hours seemed a little fuzzy. She remembered bits and pieces though...running through the sewers...talking to a couple of kids...
"We were going to check out the crime scene," Castle reminded her. "Walking across the park when you passed out. I would've called for help, of course, but I remembered you saying you hadn't gotten a chance to eat anything substantial all day, and you did mention you were starving. So I figured we'd just get something to eat when you woke up since I guessed you wouldn't want to go to the hospital."
The information made Kate pause while she tried to place what he said in her memory. She did sort of recall being hungry all day, and she obviously did faint. Then again, why would Castle lie to her about this? Which meant those bits she remembered must have been a very odd dream. Which made a lot of sense, considering she also "remembered" something about magic and wizards. Absolutely crazy, she thought with an amused shake of her head. "Good call Castle, but for future reference if someone ever does pass out, you should take them to the hospital whether you think they would want to or not."
"Duly noted," Castle replied. "So, are you okay?"
Though she was still surprised that she'd uncharacteristically fainted, Kate nodded. "I think I am." She then laughed. "Man, my brain must really be fried. I had this dream where we were on our way to the crime scene, but we were chased by this lizard monster and rescued by wizards. Weird, huh?"
"Maybe my crazy imagination is rubbing off on you. I'm so proud," Castle teased, then helped her stand up. "Now let's get you something to eat."
"No, we have to check out the crime scene," Kate insisted. They couldn't just leave when she was supposed to work. Everyone would want to know what she thought of the crime scene, and she'd prefer if no one found out her little fainting incident.
"Your health comes first," Castle reminded her as he started to guide her towards a deli across the street. "Everything else can wait."
About to protest, Kate paused when her stomach rumbled. The last thing she wanted was to faint again. Besides, for some reason her gut instinct was telling her this was one murder she wouldn't be able to solve, no matter how much research she did. While she hated when a case became cold, it did happen. And unless some vital evidence turned up, this would probably be one of those cases. With a disappointed sigh, she began walking towards the deli. "Fine, Castle. Guess it wouldn't hurt to grab some dinner."