And finally, ALTERNATE ENDING NUMBER FOUR, a.k.a, what really happens. Enjoy. ;)



Sam Egan pressed hard on the trigger, sending a whole round of fleeting green lights from his smoking gun.

"Aaaaagh, ahhh, hahaaaa! Nooo… It's goin' dark…I'll be avenged, bastards!"

Amid his Elizabethan cries of vanquish, Ryan stumbled and twisted dramatically to Castle's varnished apartment floor. Castle, on the other hand, reached up and peeled off his 'Uncle Sam' Halloween mask to reveal a childish scowl. "Aw, how theatrical was that? This is supposed to be character research! Sell it!"

Across from them, Esposito let the act of indignant mortal fear drop like a hot rock. He impatiently lowered his laser gun as well. "Says the dude in the Uncle Sam mask."

"It was the closest Sam I could find. There isn't exactly a section called 'serial killer' at the local novelty store," Castle sigh-defended. And after a contemplative moment, he added, "And if there was I don't think they'd let me shop there."

"I suppose it never occurred to you to do it without the face," Ryan pointed out. He pushed off on one arm and got up off the hardwood.

"If it had I would not be me, young Padawan - whoa whoa hey, what're you doing? Back on the floor, you're dead, I just cosmically rearranged your intestinal system."

"I thought you were going for a do-over?"

"No: the whole point of this is to get inside Egan's head. A serial killer knows there are no do-overs. Unless of course they're a deranged gaming fanatic like in 'The Calm Before The Storm.' Now come on, be dead, be dead." Castle's urging wasn't even slightly interrupted or slowed by the others' eyerolls, but Ryan exhaled in defeat and got back down anyway.

"Can I just bring up one more time that you invited us over here for a Mets game, not character-research-laser-tag?" Esposito said.

"A real fan would've known they weren't playing today. Now, aim at me again but make sure I have no idea what you're doing. Egan has to be completely in-the-dark and ready for all contingencies for when Nikki Heat makes her move."

But Esposito wasn't about to start again; not after he'd heard that. "Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. I'm s'posta be Nikki? Why aren't I Ochoa?"

Castle shrugged. As if all his reasonings were always completely normal. "I needed a stand-in for Heat who knew most of the same gun tricks. I'd be Rook if I weren't Egan."

"Who'm I?" Ryan wanted to know.

"Nameless Vic Number Four. I just threw in the 'I shoot your partner' line to get you two more into the plot."

"Oh, nice."

"Come onnnn, the day is wasting! Before you know it one of you'll get a call about a real dead body and unfortunately that's legally more important and then all of this was for nothing."

On the floor, Ryan lifted his arm like dead weight above his face and checked his watch, pushing out a sigh. Esposito shook his head, muttered, "Can't believe you conned us into this," and raised his lasery firearm again…

…Just in time for the door to open.

"All right, you copper, it's just you and…" The drawn-out villainery died on Castle's lips. "…Me." He turned innocently to the new entry. "Detective Beckett. Hi. We were just…"

He trailed off for a second time, because Kate Beckett's slack-jawed stare was pretty full-force, and it was the kind that said it was 'silent processing' time now. She took in the three flashing laser guns, the pushed-aside furniture and the manuscript rolled up in Rick's hand, and finally her eyes landed on Larry, Moe and Curly.

She found the ability to form words again, directing them at the brains of the operation - well…ha, okay - while her eyes weren't quite sure where to stop. "I…just came by to pick up the…case photos…used my key…what're you doing?"

"We, ah…"

"Oh no, I'm sorry, I should have clarified…what are these two doing. You, I completely understand."

Castle's sarcastic 'ha ha' face went ignored in favor of the sheepish ones on Ryan and Esposito. The former was quick to get on his feet and stuff his hands in his pockets, while the latter rubbed awkwardly at the back of his neck and took a shot at some explanation. "Castle, he… The Mets were on TV, see, and… So then - "

"Research," Ryan broke in, prompting a nod from his partner. He cleared his throat: "You know; real psycho-killer stuff - "

"First-hand experience - "

"Can't really get that from shadowing, so - "

"And then he had the guns, and we - "

"It's…Nikki Heat…she's gonna…disarm this guy - "

"So y'know, we figured we'd…help out."

Somewhere about halfway through that, Beckett had folded her arms and narrowed her eyes suspiciously and just listened. "Uh-huh." Spinning a tight degree on her heel, she turned to Castle. "As much as I hate to interrupt Whose Line Is It Anyway, I need back those photos you stole."

"Hey! Why Detective Beckett, I resent the implication. I only brought those home to review."

"Fine: stole to review." She spun back to her teammates. "If it's not too much trouble to the Actors' Studio, I need you two back on the phones asap. We need a warrant if we want to get the murder weapon for Evidence." The boys knew better than to do much else but nod, and before Beckett turned to leave, she faced Castle one more time. "If you follow, you bring the photos, and they stay with me." Eyes still on Castle, she pointed at Esposito, biting back the urge to smirk wickedly. "And he can be Nikki Heat all you want, but if he's the one naked on the next cover you can feel free to withhold my advance copy."

"H…hey! Wh…huh: I actually don't know whether to be insulted or relieved at that," Esposito mused.

Ryan clapped him on the shoulder, smirking as he grabbed his coat. "Relieved, bro, always relieved."

"Gah - let's catch up to her before she ditches us with a cab again…." Discarding his laser gear, Castle snatched his own jacket and raced out the door after the law.



HA! None of you saw that coming, be honest. XD So! There it is, The Complete Hostage Project, brought to you by the fine people at Championship Vinyl (schizophrenic? Never. xD ). Hope it amused you. If not, well, ApollaCammi made me put it up here. XD Thanks luv.

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Peace and love, all. And speaking of love, who doesn't love a review? ;D