Author's Note: Wow, it's been a really long time since I uploaded anything to this site. But today is a very special occasion and if there was anything that would get me to come back, it's this: Frea O'Scanlin's birthday. For those who don't know Frea (and I'm not sure how many of you will, since both of us are primarily Chuck writers), she's a totally awesome, amazing, wonderful person. Most importantly, she's my friend. And I wanted to do something special for her birthday. This story is for her; I am writing it for her and I hope she likes it. Thank you, Frea, for being so supportive and understanding and helping me when I need help. I hope you enjoy your present.
This will be a Castle/Fringe/Chuck story, so if you have any problem with either of those shows or characters, this might not be the story for you. With that said, I hope you all enjoy!
Kate took the proffered coffee from Castle with a murmur of thanks and continued on her way to the crime scene. They were just outside a rundown warehouse off Columbia Street. The scene was crawling with patrol officers, CSU, and onlookers. Fortunately, there was no press yet and she hoped it would stay that way.
She led the way inside, looking for Esposito or Ryan. Castle chattered beside her— asking question after question about how her morning had been so far, what kind of case they had, who was the victim, whether or not she'd heard about some new robot from Japan that could bake cakes—and she barely paid attention. She'd long grown used to Castle's inane chatter to pass the time. Truthfully, she'd even come to enjoy it—most of the time.
Esposito had sounded confused and vague on the phone. All she'd been able to get out of him was that she needed to see things for herself. She had been a little irked that he wouldn't tell her more than that, but she figured he must have had a good reason. And it looked like she was about to find out why.
Esposito was waiting for her by what appeared to be some kind of structure jutting up from the floor and covered by a piece of cloth. Was that supposed to be their victim?
"What have we got?" Kate asked as she pulled on a pair of gloves.
"I honestly have no freaking clue," Esposito said.
Kate arched an eyebrow at that. "Is that our victim?" She nodded at the lump with the dirty cloth over it.
"Yeah, but…" the other man shrugged his shoulders helplessly. "I've seen some crazy stuff before, Beckett, but I've never seen anything like this."
Kate compressed her lips into a frown and then nodded her head. She peered at Castle out of the corner of her eye, but he was just staring at the cloth-covered thing and didn't seem to be paying her any attention. She could see the concentration on his face and the interest in his eyes.
She imagined the mystery of the hidden victim was piquing his curiosity like nothing else.
She opened her mouth to tease him, but knew that now wasn't the time. "All right; no point just standing around, let's see what we've got." She motioned with her head for the CSU techs to remove the cloth from whatever it was that was freaking Esposito out so bad. She was not at all prepared for what she saw next.
She didn't really know how to describe it. It was like a statue…but not. The victim was a man, she could see that much. He was Caucasian and had brown hair. His face was clearly contorted in pain, making an estimate on his age or facial features difficult, but he looked young. He had on a white coat, probably a lab coat of some sort, and a pale blue dress shirt.
And that was about all she could glean from him because the remainder of his body—from mid-sternum to his feet—was encased in some kind of orange-colored crystalline structure. Esposito's confusion made perfect sense.
"Holy—what is that?"
Kate managed to tear her eyes away from the victim to glance at Castle. He was staring at their victim with a wide-eyed, fascinated look on his face.
"The gentleman over there," Ryan piped up from behind her and she looked over her shoulder to see him pointing at an older man in thick, well used clothes and a shaggy beard, "was the one who called it in. He told me he found our victim like that, and was the one to cover him up."
"It's like frozen carbonite," Castle said.
"You know, Star Wars, Han Solo?"
"I seriously doubt our victim owed money to an intergalactic crime lord, Castle."
Castle just grinned at her and she smirked. Esposito rolled his eyes and Ryan continued talking. "He said that he knows he shouldn't have disturbed the crime scene, but, well, he was just too freaked out." Ryan looked at the victim askance. "Can't really say I blame him."
Kate turned away from Ryan just in time to see Castle tentatively reach out with a finger and poke the orange structure. "Castle," she snapped, "don't touch that! You don't know what it is."
"But it's so cool," he said, awe in his voice.
"Yeah, well," she said and tried to understand what the hell she was looking at. She pulled out a pen and decided to try some poking of her own. The end of her pen encountered solid resistance and so she knew that whatever the substance was, they were probably going to have to cut their victim out of it.
"Are you sure this is an actual homicide?" Castle asked.
Both Kate and Esposito stared at him. "What?" he said.
Esposito pointed at the man cocooned by the…whatever it was. "Rock doesn't usually eat people, Castle."
"And I don't see any similar substances around here, do you? That means either our victim was moved or somebody did this to him here, either way, I think we're looking at a homicide."
Castle didn't look entirely convinced, but he was clearly too distracted by the victim to really disagree.
"So how do you want to handle this?" Esposito asked.
"We're going to have to cut him out. Once he's free, we'll ID the victim and Lanie will look him over and try to figure out just what the hell this stuff is."
"And I'll see if, uh," Ryan paused and looked down at the notepad in his hand, "Mr. Kurtzman has anymore information that he can share with us," Ryan said, before making his way back over to the homeless man.
"Wait!" Castle blurted out. "I know this guy!"
Kate blinked and stared at Castle. "You know him?"
"Well, not know him, like personally, but I think I know who he is."
# # # # #
Esposito handed Kate the pieces of paper. "Looks like Castle was right. Our victim's name is Brandon Fayette. He's apparently some kind of important scientist over at Massive Dynamic. Ryan's contacting them now to get more information."
Castle nodded his head vigorously, and looked over Kate's shoulder to read along with her. "I can't believe it," he said.
This was just terrible news. He had been so excited when Massive Dynamic made the announcement that they had actually successfully sent a mouse from their headquarters in New York to a research facility in Hong Kong by means of instantaneous matter transportation. And he had remembered Brandon Fayette was a key member of the development team. If he was dead, who knew what would happen to the project now?
Still, he couldn't deny that this case had been more interesting than the usual. It wasn't every day that it looked like somebody had been murdered by what seemed like rock. Sure, he'd heard of people getting their heads bashed in by rocks before, but he'd never heard of anybody being cocooned by it. He was making sure to pay extra attention to what was going on.
"How do you even know who this guy is?"
"You really need to watch the news more, Esposito."
"No way, man, do you have any idea how depressing it is? I get enough of that while I'm on the job."
"But he was working on an actual transporter!"
"Boys," Kate said in that overly patient way of hers that Castle knew meant she wasn't actually feeling patient at all. She gave them both a look and then pushed away from her desk. She tacked the piece of paper with Brandon Fayette's face on it to the Murderboard and then stepped back to study it.
"Has CSU gotten back to us on what that orange stuff encasing our victim was?"
"Amber," Castle said.
"I'm just saying, it had more of an amberish hue to it than orange."
"Really? Because I thought it was more tangerine," Esposito said.
"The lab results, Esposito?"
Castle gave the conversation between Esposito and Kate half his attention. He watched as Ryan hung up his phone and walked over to them with a clearly confused look on his face.
"What's up?" Kate asked.
"So I just got off the phone with a Nina Sharpe over at Massive Dynamic and it turns out that our victim? Not actually dead."
Castle quickly looked at Kate and Esposito and was glad to see that they looked just as shocked and perplexed as he knew he must look. "Uh, what?"
"That was pretty much my reaction too and I tried to explain to her that we have his body in the morgue, but she was pretty insistent. So then she put me on the phone with him."
"This case keeps getting better and better," Castle said.
Ryan shrugged. "And he certainly seemed to think he was Brandon Fayette." He turned to stare at the Murderboard. "Hard to believe he helped design an actual transporter. It's like something right out of Star Trek."
"Thank you," Castle said. He stared pointedly at Esposito, who just rolled his eyes.
Kate walked over to her desk and grabbed her coat. "We're going to Massive Dynamic. I want you two to contact the lab about the amber and find out everything you can about our victim."
Castle followed Kate to the elevator. "Do you really think this guy is who he says he is?"
They stepped into the elevator and Kate finished buttoning up her coat. "I think we should talk to him first before we start jumping to conclusions."
Castle was too caught up in sudden theories to keep quiet. "Maybe our victim is really Fayette's long lost twin brother. Or somebody had plastic surgery to make himself look like Fayette. He could be some kind of government spy, though I can't imagine why anybody would want to impersonate our victim. Shapeshifter, maybe?"
He grinned when he saw Kate's rolling eyes reflected in the elevator door. "Shapeshifters, Castle? Really?"
Castle snapped his fingers. "I've got it! He's from an alternate universe! That makes perfect sense!"
The elevator stopped and the doors opened. Kate stepped out at a steady walk and he had to scurry forward to keep up with her. "Yes, because an alternate universe makes so much more sense than a government spy or twin brother."
"No, seriously, Kate, the guy was working on a real life transporter. Maybe what happened is that he used the transporter on himself and somehow an alternate universe version of himself was transported into our universe. It happened to Kirk once, it's totally possible."
"Yeah, but Castle," Kate said and looked at him over the top of her car, "no goatee."
Kate climbed into the car and Castle was left grinning at the motor pool.
# # # # #
"Well, I'm convinced."
Kate really didn't know what to say, so she nodded. They'd just spent the last forty minutes interviewing the man who claimed to be the real Brandon Fayette, and she was now more confused than ever. "We're going to have to do a full workup on him. Prints, DNA, probably even dental."
"The resemblance is uncanny. Seriously, Kate, that was freaky."
According to their records, Brandon Fayette had no twin brother. Kate knew that didn't necessarily rule that out as a possibility, but it was looking more and more unlikely. And according to Lanie, the man they had in the morgue showed no signs of having had extensive plastic surgery, so that was likely out as an option as well. They were quickly running out of viable theories for why they had a murder victim that was clearly very much still alive.
"I think we need to call it a day and come back tomorrow to look at this case with fresh eyes, because I really don't know what's going on right now. None of this makes any sense," Castle said.
"What did Esposito have to say about the lab results?"
Kate frowned and felt her frustration build. "Still inconclusive. They've never seen anything like it, apparently, and he says the lab is going to have to send for an outside expert. That could take days, maybe even weeks."
"It's okay, Kate, we'll figure it out. We always do."
"Yeah," she said and tried to make herself believe he was right. It'd already been at least twenty-four hours since their victim had been murdered and she knew the clock was ticking on finding their victim's killer.
# # # # #
"You wanted to see us?" Kate asked.
"Yeah, but I don't think you're going to like what I have to say."
Kate sighed and walked up to the exam table. She'd been hearing that a lot the last few days. Nobody seemed to have any answers, and all she managed to uncover were more questions.
They'd scoured hours of airport security footage, subway footage, city footage, canvassed the warehouse district, interviewed all of the real Brandon Fayette's friends, family, and colleagues, and spent countless hours dissecting his life, all in an effort to find out who their victim really was and where he had come from. Or at least gain some insight into who he might have been. Nothing they'd found had really helped.
They'd still found very little to explain how the man lying on the exam table in front of her even existed.
The frustration was mounting. She'd snapped at Castle earlier, and she knew he'd only been trying to get her to relax, but the lack of any leads was really starting to get to her. She knew they needed to catch a break soon or the Captain was going to designate it a cold case and reassign them.
And now it looked like Lanie was going to give them more bad news. That was just wonderful.
"Let me guess, he's actually an alien," Castle said.
Kate scowled at Castle and expected Lanie to automatically shut him down like she always did when his theories got too ridiculous, but that didn't happen.
"Actually, you might not be that far off the mark."
It almost made her laugh, the way Castle's cocky smirk faded into confusion. What Lanie had said, though, was just crazy. "You're not seriously suggesting that our victim is really an alien, are you?"
She wondered if this was how Castle felt whenever Lanie gave him the 'Would you stop being ridiculous and pay attention' look. Kate decided she didn't like that look at all and would make sure she never got it again. "Okay, so if he's not really an alien, what are you saying?"
"He is definitely human," Lanie paused to look at Kate again, "that much I can tell you for sure. However, where things get complicated are the test results. They all came back as a positive match for Brandon Fayette."
"What?" Both she and Castle said at the same time.
"DNA, a near 100% match. I ran it three times, so yes, I'm sure. Dental, again, matches up. And as for fingerprints, well, look at them yourself." Lanie handed her a folder and she looked down at the results.
That just didn't make any sense. According to what she was seeing, their victim had the same fingerprints as the real Brandon Fayette.
"How—how is this—"
"Possible? It shouldn't be. But, according to just about every test I've run, our victim is Brandon Fayette."
"Best. Case. Ever," Castle said.
"How can there be an exact copy of the same person?"
"There can't be," a voice from behind her said. "Or, perhaps I should say, there shouldn't be."
Kate spun around to see a blonde woman enter into the exam room. "I'm sorry, but you can't be in here, this is a restricted area."
The blonde reached into her suit jacket and pulled out her identification. "I am FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham and I just might have some answers for you."
Note: This is not the end. There will be more chapters.