Chapter Nine: Kate Beckett and the Closed Case
Kate was completely galled at how much of this stupid, crazy investigation had been taken up by waiting for someone else to do her job. She prided herself on her ability to solve cases and to give families closure. To have to rely so heavily on someone else to investigate her case because these people were insular and secretive was a constant irritation. She tried to remind herself that it would be so much worse if she had just been ordered to drop it and her team had been left in the dark, or worse, made to forget. It didn't help. At this point, all she could hope for was something to come along to give them a quick end to this mess so that she could go back to cases where she didn't have to rely on anyone but herself.
It was a couple more days of waiting for useful news from the NYAO team before she got her wish. She resented them a little bit – okay, more than a little bit. Still, she had done her best to help them figure out who to ask about what when as they sought out and questioned the more traditional wizards. She could accept that those people would likely turn uncooperative if they knew the investigation was being done in conjunction with the 12th, so she was free with advice. Nothing would prevent her from doing everything she was allowed to do to help close the case, feelings aside. Even still, every time they came back saying that they hadn't found anything suspicious, she had to wonder if perhaps she'd been there, the story would have been different. The thought of going to the captain, or even calling McAdams had crossed her mind more than once.
Instead, she forced herself to focus on what they could do, which was look into the non-magical lives of the Society members. It had been a long shot, hoping that something obvious would turn up there, but at least it gave them something to do. Mostly all they got out of it was that as much as the Society members had been priding themselves on their ability to make their way in the muggle world, their neighbors and coworkers all still thought there was something a little off about them. Still, as haphazard as their understanding of all things non-magical had seemed during the interviews, there wasn't anything too suspicious in their muggle lives, case-related or otherwise.
In the end, luckily none of it mattered too much, because they got a hit on the fingerprint, finally. It was from Brandon Milant, and Kate definitely found herself hoping that despite all the shenanigans with wizards and magic and secret societies (that she was just about to strangle Castle for loving), it would be just that simple. Every lead they got she always hoped might be the one to break a case, but with this one, that was so much more true than ever before.
She called in the number they'd been given for the NYAO's contact phone, and they had a short meeting, her and the three aurors. She told them about the fingerprint match giving them a suspect and explained how they would normally go over everything about the man with a fine-toothed comb to find a way to trip him up in interrogation. Considering what they had learned so far about the magical world, she knew a lot of the regular avenues for information were going to be out of the question, but thought that the trio might have some ideas as to how to achieve similar results.
Mr. Potter went her one better, however. Apparently, because of the nature of this case – four murders – and the fact that such a thing was nearly unprecedented in the magical world and unusual in the muggle one – there had already been certain exceptions made. Since a wizard would be tried in wizard courts, they were only obliged to follow the rules of the wizarding world, and McAdams had authorized the use of some kind of truth potion on any sufficiently likely suspects (as determined by Potter's team). Veritaserum, Potter had called it. So all that had to be done was for the man to be found and brought in. Then hopefully they'd get some answers, at the very least as to what business he'd had at Amy Jackson's apartment shortly before she'd been killed.
Unfortunately, picking up the man wasn't something that she could be involved in either, since the suspect might turn to magic if cornered. They had looked into Milant's claimed job as a legal assistant and found people at the firm confirming he worked there and not had reason to look into it much further. He had only been one of many persons of interest at that point, after all. However, when Potter's team went to try and find him there, it soon became apparent that the man had used some kind of mind-altering magic to give that impression. There were records of the man working there and people that thought he did. Those people were sure they knew him well enough to comment on what he was like, but his supposed office was a broom closet and his schedule a complete fabrication. That definitely bumped the man from possible suspect to likely suspect, all things considered. As promising a development as it was, there was also a problem with it.
Considering how little technology the wizarding world used, Beckett feared it might mean the end of their ability to catch the killer. The man only had to check in at his fake job and then vanish upon realizing that they'd been there looking for him. They would just never see him again because they couldn't track a phone or bank transactions or anything of the sort. True, the aurors had implied that they were actually much better at tracking down suspects than determining them, so it wouldn't necessarily be hopeless, but she had no idea how much stock to put in that. She overestimated Milant, though. He showed up to the next regular Modernization Society meeting, where Potter's team nabbed him. He either hadn't checked in at his supposed job or hadn't figured it was significant that the investigators had been asking after him.
They didn't even end up having to use the truth serum to determine his relative guilt, as it turned out. Not that Milant gave in easily and immediately spilled his guts when they brought him in to the precinct (Granger's neat business casual top was sporting a new singe mark upon their arrival that told Beckett it hadn't been quite so easy a pickup), but the wizards had a different neat trick up their sleeves. Right after bringing the man in, Potter had pulled the man's wand out and explained he could cast a spell to make the wand regurgitate all the spells it had recently cast. He'd added that it was quite likely that Milant had a secondary wand for the crimes, but it was worth a shot and they could give that a try before sending someone back to the NYAO to retrieve the serum.
When Potter had muttered a spell with his own wand pointing at the confiscated one, it had been the freakiest thing she'd seen yet when vaporous forms came pouring out. Including vague shadows of all four of her victims, which Potter confirmed was sufficient evidence Milant's wand had cast the killing curses. From the stony face and lack of immediate denials, it seemed clear that the man had done the crimes.
She couldn't suppress the minor surge of envy that it was just that easy, so far as wizarding justice was concerned. Although she had to admit it did make her wonder a number of things about their system in terms of relative personal rights and trials. There was apparently some kind of authorization required in the use of truth serum at least, but it wasn't really clear how stringent the requirements were. She was enough her mother's daughter that the thought of how personally invasive it was had immediately come up when they'd started talking about potions and spells. Those were thoughts she pushed to one side, however, in favor of wanting to know exactly why Milant had killed four people.
The man was disdainful of her attempts to ask, but was quick enough to respond to the same queries from Potter when the wizard mentioned that his team already had authorization to use Veritaserum and only had to go back to the ministry to retrieve some to do so. Apparently being dosed with the truth serum wasn't a pleasant experience even beyond being made to spill one's secrets.
It was a simple, if ugly story. Wizard meets witch, wizard dates witch casually and then wizard discovers that said witch has very unusual ideas about how magicals and muggles should interrelate. Wizard deeply disapproves but pretends to change his views to get close to the Society members - people he blames for keeping his happy illusions about the witch he wanted her to be from coming true. Actually attending the meetings drives the wizard into a rage, and instead of the campaign of harassment he'd planned, he turns to murder.
Aside from the method of murder, and the whole business of wizards entirely, it was sadly simplistic – if psychotic - at the end of the day. Castle was disappointed, but she was relieved that it hadn't been any more complicated. The trio from NYAO seemed like nice enough people, and she didn't really blame them for the rules they had to follow. The three of them had been more than willing to listen to her suggestions, but the whole situation where she wasn't even allowed to be involved in half of the investigation was better over and done with.
Potter took Milant back to the auror's office for processing, and the rest of both teams gathered up all the evidence to be sent off to their courts and erased the whiteboards. Beckett made Potter promise to let her know when and how Milant was sentenced and he was perfectly amiable to that. Once they had everything packed up and the wards and protections on the room had been taken down, Castle invited everyone to come out to the Old Haunt for a case closing celebration drink and that was more or less that.
Kate got her phone call a week later, saying that Milant had gotten a life sentence in wizarding prison. She was surprised but gratified that it had gone that fast, although the team had mentioned that the wizarding population was smaller and less prone to major crimes even in a city like New York. Again, if she didn't half want to forget the whole thing had happened, she would have been interested to know more about their legal process.
Things went back to normal at the precinct fairly quickly, aside from a few curious questions as to what Beckett's team had been working on with those mysterious specialists closed up in a room for all those days. Of course, most of the prodding was to Castle and the boys, the rest of the homicide floor knew better than to bug her.
It took a few extra weeks after that call from Potter for her to stop dreading the possibility whenever she walked into a crime scene that it would turn out to be another wizard-related crime. She knew it was incredibly unlikely – she'd gone her whole life before now without it happening – but that didn't lessen the sudden awareness that in some ways, the world was just as fantastical as Castle was always trying to get her to believe. She'd never meant to let him talk her into looking for magic, despite all the writer's best efforts. Yet somehow, she was sure the fact that it had found her was all Castle's fault. Somehow.
Things were just finally back to being completely normal when the phone on her desk rang.
"Detective, this is Harry Potter from the NYAO. We've got this case..."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this at least a little if you stuck around this long, and I greatly appreciate everyone that read this - most particularly those who alerted, favorited, or reviewed. I'd like to specially thank Allen Pitt for reviewing so many of the chapters and giving me extra incentive to think back over why I'd done what I'd done.
This fic was a pretty abnormal one for me as it went from conception to posting in under a month. I think perhaps it could have used a little more suspense and mystery to better fit the tone of Castle, but I'm fairly pleased with it for what it is. Note that despite the overly obvious sequel hook dangling on the end, I have no current plans to write a follow up.
Update 7/26/12: The sequel to this fic is now being posted under the title Cops and Wizards. A few extremely minor edits were also made, including correcting the spelling of Lanie Parish's name.