Time lines: Castle wise we're set sometime in Season 3 after To Live And Die In LA but before Knockout, Once Upon A Time we're set sometime after the last aired episode The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.
Pairings/Characters: Castle/Beckett (sort of), Henry, mentions of possible Regina/Emma, Mary Margaret
Unbetaed, so all mistakes are mine. Title inspired by quotes from both shows. "Because if you don't believe in even the possibility of magic you'll never ever find it." and "Believing in even the possibility of a happy ending is a very powerful thing."
"Beckett," she answers on the first ring - and it's not because she knows who's calling without looking.
"Beckett!" Castle sounds like a kid in a candy shop. "You'll never believe where I am!"
Her brow furrows at that, because he's supposed to be on a book tour in Bangor, Maine (and oh how the boys had laughed about that). "Aren't you in Bangor?" She asks, hoping against hope that he won't start in on the ridiculous jokes again.
"I was supposed to be, but my car broke down on the way and I ended up in this little town. Beckett, it's called Storybrooke and everyone here is a fairy tale character! Only they don't know it!" He's apparently distracted enough by this new thread of an idea that he lets Bangor pass, for which she is grateful. Until she realizes what he's just said.
"Wait a minute, what?"
"Everyone here is a character from a fairy tale. Only they don't remember, because of the Evil Queen's curse. How awesome is that?"
"Castle, how much have you had to drink?" She remembers the Richard Castle from the book parties and police reports, before he was her partner. It is entirely plausible that he is just drunk. Although it is only 11 in the morning.
"Nothing, Beckett, I swear to you. This is real! I'm sitting in a diner that's owned by Granny. Granny! And Little Red Riding Hood is my waitress and let me tell you, I can see why the Big Bad Wolf would've wanted to lure her off the path, if you know what I mean."
She can see the lewd look on his face just from the tone of his voice. "Castle, focus! You aren't making any sense."
"Beckett, I know it sounds crazy, but I met this little boy, Henry, and he told me about the curse and showed me the book, and I'm telling you, it's real! I saw the Evil Queen, Beckett. She gave me shivers down my spine."
Someone giving Castle shivers down his spine? Beckett doesn't like the sound of that at all. "Castle, where did you say you were?"
"Storybrooke, Maine. It's off Highway 95."
Beckett looks around the squad room, debating with herself. She certainly has enough vacation time saved up, and while this certainly wasn't how she was planning on using it, it sounds like Castle's gotten himself into a situation that could lead to trouble. "Castle, stay where you are. And… don't talk about the curse to anyone else until I get there."
"You're coming?" And again, he sounds so excited. "Just wait, Beckett, you'll see!"
"Castle," she sighs, "just - stay put."
"Beckett?" He calls, just as she's about to hang up the phone.
"Can I keep talking to Henry?" He sounds so very much like a little boy asking if he can stay out and play with his friend for a few minutes longer that she can't help but give in.
"Fine, Castle. But only him. And definitely not," she can't believe she's saying this, "The Evil Queen."
"Oh, no way!" Castle assures, and she hangs up the phone, heading for the chief's office. Isn't he always telling her she needs to take vacation time?
The trip takes over seven hours, and the entire way she is cursing Castle and hoping against hope that he's staying out of trouble. She knew, she just knew, when he announced that he was going to be driving himself on this book tour, that it was a bad idea. But of course he wouldn't listen to her.
Her GPS doesn't recognize the town of Storybrooke, Maine, so she has to call Castle for directions once she makes it to Highway 95. He gives her the directions, while alternately spouting off information about Jiminy Cricket and Snow White, and her headache increases at each mention. Finally, she sees the large white sign that proclaims 'Welcome To Storybrooke' and follows the main road to the diner where Castle has promised he would stay.
When she enters, she doesn't even get a chance to look around before Castle calls out to her from a booth in the corner. "Beckett!" He waves her over and she finds him sitting with a small boy who can't be more than 10, their heads bent over a large, old looking storybook.
She slides into the other side of the booth, unsure what to say now that she's actually here. She's saved by the waitress, who comes over with a sashay in her hips and a smile on her red lips.
"The boys said you'd be joining them. One coffee and one bear claw." The waitress - Ruby, according to her name tag - says as she sets them down in front of Kate.
"Thanks." Beckett smiles at Ruby, while watching as Castle mouths 'Little Red Riding Hood' over and over again, comically.
"No problem. Just let me know if I can do anything else for you." Then she moves away from the booth, and Beckett watches as Castle watches her go.
"Castle," she snaps, and his eyes snap up to hers, "what is going on here?"
"I already told you," he says, sounding like a child, "everyone in this town is a fairy tale character. Only none of them remember."
"And you know this how?" Beckett asks, biting into the bear claw.
"It's all in my book," the little boy explains, sliding the book across the table to her.
Beckett looks from the book to the boy and Castle and then back to the book again. "So, you know that everyone here is a fairy tale character because you read it in a book, but no one else does?"
"Yep." The little boy smiles.
"Just look at the book, Beckett." Castle insists, reaching over and flipping through the pages until he stops on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. He taps the picture in the book. "See. It's the same person!"
Beckett looks at the picture and then at their waitress. She does have to admit that the woman does bear a striking resemblance to the picture in the book, but that can easily be explained away. Castle is a writer who loves to let his imagination run wild. She's a cop who deals in cold hard facts. And the truth is, there's no way that what this little boy believes – and what Castle has so willingly bought into – is true.
"Castle," she starts to say, but is interrupted by the sound of another voice, one that makes the little boy sit up straighter, his eyes wide. Even Castle looks worried as he grabs the book and shoves it down beside him, under his jacket and out of sight.
"Henry, there you are! I've been looking everywhere for you."
Beckett turns to take in the source of the voice, a striking woman with dark hair and eyes. 'Evil Queen', Castle mouths at her.
"Sorry, Mom." Henry says. "I was just talking to Mr. Castle and Detective Beckett."
Regina takes them both in with suspicious eyes.
"Mr. Castle is a writer. His car broke down just outside of town." Henry quickly goes on. "And Detective Beckett is his friend. She came to give him a ride if he needs it. I was just keeping them company while they wait to see about Mr. Castle's car."
"Hmm…" Regina doesn't look completely convinced, but she nods. "Well, that was very thoughtful of you, Henry. Although you know that you should never talk to strangers."
"Your mom's right, kid." Beckett says, and she wonders what it is that she could've said so wrong, because Regina looks ready to murder her.
"Mayor Mills," Castle cuts in, all charm, "you have a beautiful town and an enchanting son. I'm glad that if I had to be broken down somewhere, it was here. I promise Detective Beckett and I will be out of your hair just as soon as my car is fixed."
"Thank you, Mr. Castle. I hope you've enjoyed your time here in Storybrooke, and that my son hasn't bothered you too much." Regina is playing the part of the mayor to the hilt.
"Oh, not at all." Castle smiles at her.
"Come along, Henry." Regina puts her hand on the boy's shoulder and leads him out of the diner without another word. Henry looks back once, but Castle nods, as though reassuring him.
"See!" Castle turns back to her once they are both out of the diner. "Totally the Evil Queen!"
Beckett just rolls her eyes. "Castle, I get that this is just the kind of thing that you love, but it's just a book and a story a little boy made up because he's bored and his mom can be a little abrasive."
"That's what I thought at first too," Castle says and Beckett gives him a look that says she doesn't believe that for a second.
"Okay, so maybe I wanted to believe him from the beginning, but Beckett, after we talked, I honestly think it's true."
"Castle, you believe in psychics and UFOs and Santa Claus. Of course you're going to believe in this too." Beckett sighs.
"Beckett, seriously, just keep looking at this book and look at everyone around here. They all fit in."
"Castle, just because one waitress looks like a picture in this book –"
"It's not just one waitress. Come on," he tosses some bills on the table, smiles and waves at Ruby, and then leads Beckett out of the diner, holding the book tightly.
As they walk, they pass various people on the street. Castle spouts off who they are in fairy tale land, some because he and Henry apparently talked about them and some that are obviously just guesses.
A red headed man is walking a dog and waves at them. Castle waves back, while whispering to her, "That's Archie. He's Henry's therapist, but he's actually Jiminy Cricket."
"Jiminy Cricket? Really?" Beckett rolls her eyes and wonders for the hundredth time why she didn't just let him stay here and have his fun for a while before he came back home.
The dog barks and Archie pulls on his leash. "Pongo, stop that."
"Pongo!" Castle gasps in glee. "The dog is Pongo!"
"Castle, do you have any idea how many Dalmatians there are out there with that name?"
"Yeah, but how many of them are the real Pongo?" Castle counters.
"None! None of them are the real Pongo, because Pongo isn't real. None of this is real." Beckett sighs.
"Look!" Castle says, grabbing her arm and pointing to a woman across the street. "It's Snow White! She's Henry's grandmother, only she doesn't know it."
"Wait a minute, you're telling me that Henry's grandmother is Snow White, but his mother is The Evil Queen?" Beckett can't believe she's even having this discussion with him.
"The Queen isn't his real mother. She adopted him. His real mother is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She was sent to this world by them in a magic closet to bring an end to the curse. But she doesn't know that that's what she's supposed to do, because she doesn't remember either."
"And this little boy –"
"Henry," Castle supplies easily.
"Henry told you all this?"
"Yes." Castle nods, holding up the book to her again. "See, it's all here."
She takes the book and looks through it, seeing the resemblance between Snow White and the woman that Castle has just pointed out. She can't exactly argue with that. But there is something she can argue with. "Castle, there's nothing about a baby in this book."
"That's because Henry and Emma had to pull out the pages for Operation Cobra! See." And he shows her where, if you look at the spine closely enough, it is obvious that some pages have been torn out.
"Operation Cobra?" She really doesn't want to know, and yet she asks anyway.
"That's the name of the plan to help everyone remember and to stop the curse."
"And let me guess," Beckett says, "you are now part of Operation Cobra?"
Castle grins like he does when they have a really juicy case or when he's got a really great story idea. "I think I could help. I told Henry I'd take the book and try to figure out how to break the curse."
"He doesn't know how to break the curse?"
Castle looks at her like she's grown a second head. "If he did, then they wouldn't all still be here. All that he knows is that it has something to do with Emma, his real mother."
"Snow White and Prince Charming's daughter."
"Yes." Castle grins at her with pure joy. "I just wish they hadn't burned the last few pages. I mean, I get why they needed to but –"
"Castle, are you serious about this? You're supposed to be on a book tour. Aren't Paula and Gina going to be having a fit?"
"I can't go anywhere until my car is fixed, and it won't be done until tomorrow at the earliest. I already called Paula and Gina. They're both pissed, but dealing with it."
"So what's your plan, Castle?" She's almost afraid to know the answer.
"Granny has a bed and breakfast too. So I figured I'd get a room there and work on Operation Cobra stuff. Since you're here, you can help."
"Castle, I am not helping with some delusion a little boy has–"
"Beckett," Castle whines, "you're the best at building theory with me. Please?" He gives her a puppy dog look and she sighs.
"You're paying for my room. My iown/i room, Castle. And dinner. And the next time I tell you to stay in the car –"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Castle grins, grabbing her arm and hurrying her down the street. "Of course, Beckett. C'mon, let's go!"
Castle got them adjoining rooms at Granny's Bed & Breakfast and managed to find a white board at the pawn shop in town that he bought quite happily. Beckett thought the owner was a bit suspect, but Castle had insisted they needed a 'murder board' to build theory on.
So now she's watching through the open door between their adjoining rooms as Castle writes frantically on the white board, checking his facts from the story book as he goes. When he finally stops writing, he moves back and begins to examine the board, just as if this were another case they were working.
"The Queen wanted her own happy ending. She wanted Snow White and Prince Charming and everyone else to suffer. So she sent them here. But how is this her happy ending?"
Beckett pushes herself off the bed and moves into his room, taking in the scribbling on the board. "She rules over everything here. No one remembers who they were. Maybe that's it." She can't believe she's doing this.
"Nah, can't be. I mean, come on. To be mayor of the town is her happy ending? No. It's gotta be something more than that."
"Well," Beckett says, moving forward to grab a marker, "there's the kid. I mean, she adopted him, right? So he has to fit in somehow."
"The Queen blamed Snow White for taking away her happy ending. She took Snow's memories, and from what Henry told me, Prince Charming – David, here – is married to someone else, so she took him too. They don't know who their daughter is and now the queen adopts their grandson. Seems like she's carrying out a vendetta to take everything away from Snow."
"But did she know who she was adopting?" Beckett asks as she looks at the lines Castle has drawn connecting the various residents and fairy tale characters, ignoring how he can manage to make any situation sound like a mob one. "I mean, if Emma is supposed to be able to break the curse, then why adopt Henry when it could just lead Emma here eventually? Wouldn't that be the opposite of what she'd want?"
"Yeah." Castle murmurs, going back to the book and looking through it as though searching for an answer. "So Henry's supposed to be her happy ending. Only that's not working out now."
"Castle, maybe we're looking at this the wrong way." Beckett taps the board with her marker. "We're trying to figure out the Queen's motives… but the Queen doesn't want the curse broken, so she's not going to give us anything. We have to figure out how the curse can be broken against her will."
Castle snaps his fingers as he flips through the pages. "True love!" He exclaims.
"What?" Beckett asks, trying to keep the shake out of her voice at his words.
"True love. It's what always breaks the curse. Prince Charming's kiss woke Snow White from the sleep the poisoned apple put her into. Sleeping Beauty's sleeping curse was lifted by true love's kiss. Man, couldn't the Grimm Brothers be a bit more original?" Castle asks as he flips through the story book.
"So, what, you think Snow and Charming need to kiss to break the spell?" Beckett moves to look over Castle's shoulder.
"No. I don't think it's them." Castle shakes his head. "Henry said that Emma would be the one to save them. Emma is the White Knight, come to defeat the Evil Queen. She's the key."
"So Emma would need her true love to help break the spell."
"Yes!" Castle claps.
"But who is Emma's true love?" Beckett asks, looking at the board.
"Henry said he found her in Boston. She's a bounty hunter. Moves around a lot. Not in a relationship right now. Apparently she was maybe starting something with the former Sheriff, but he died. Henry thinks his mother had something to do with his death, but it was ruled as natural causes."
"So who could her true love be?" Beckett's eyes run over the murder board. "It would have to be someone here in Storybrooke, wouldn't it? And what if it was the Sheriff? He's dead."
"No, Henry said they kissed and nothing happened." Castle keeps flipping through the pages of the story book, looking at the pictures of the Queen. There was something there, right at the edge of his brain, but he couldn't make the pieces fit.
"You know what I think?"
"No, Castle. No." Beckett does know what he thinks, and yes, she's been building theory with him over this ridiculous curse idea, but that's where she draws the line.
"Come on, Beckett, we've gotta go talk to her."
"This isn't New York, Castle. I can't just launch an investigation here. Especially not this investigation."
"Pleeeease, Beckett?" Castle sticks his bottom lip out in a pout. Beckett rolls her eyes.
They find the blonde at Granny's diner, eating with the woman Henry thinks is her mother, Snow White. Castle looks like he wants to explode, but Beckett grabs his arm and squeezes, hard.
"Castle, be calm. And not a word about the curse." Beckett says, still not releasing him.
Castle squeaks in protest and she finally lets go, but gives him a look that he knows means she'll be grabbing his ear if he steps out of line.
"Hi," Beckett smiles disarmingly as she approaches the booth. "Are you Emma Swan?"
Emma looks up with a look of surprise on her face. "Yeah. Why?"
Castle recognizes the guard she puts on her face as she studies them. He's seen it on Beckett before. "We're friends of Henry's." Castle says to try and diffuse the tension. "Well, sort of friends. He kept me company today while I was waiting on my car to get fixed."
Emma is still eyeing them suspiciously but she seems to relax a bit at that. "Okay."
"Henry's such a sweet boy," the woman with Emma – Mary Margaret in this universe – smiles.
"Yeah, he's a really cool kid." Castle enthuses. "Anyway, while we were waiting, Henry let me look at this book, but then his mom showed up and he asked me if I could make sure you got it back. He said you'd know why."
Castle holds the book up for her to see, and Emma and Mary Margaret exchange a glance that both Castle and Beckett pick up on.
"Thanks." Emma says as she takes the book from Castle, who looks like he might cry at having to give it up. "Did Henry say anything to you about the book while you were looking at it?"
"Oh, he told me all about the stories. He was pretty enthusiastic. I'm a writer myself, so it was fun to talk to him about them."
"He didn't mention anything about believing the stories were true?" Mary Margaret asks.
Beckett shoots a sharp look at Castle and doesn't allow him to answer. "All kids think fairy tales are true, right?"
"Right." Emma says, still eyeing Beckett. Castle sees the way the two women are sizing each other up and has to turn away and bite his knuckle for a second.
"Well, thank you, for returning the book. I'll make sure it gets back safely to Henry some time when Regina's not around." Emma tells them.
"Yeah, she seemed… not so nice." Castle says.
Emma laughs humorlessly. "Our Madam Mayor is… interesting, to say the least."
"Sounds like you don't like her very much." Beckett slips into detective mode easily.
"She's not my favorite person, no."
"So you must not like the fact that she's the one who adopted your son." Beckett pushes on.
Emma's stare is hard. "Look, like I said, Regina isn't my favorite person, and there are choices she's made that I don't agree with, but I know that she cares about Henry. And I'm in no position to judge her as a mother."
"Fair enough." Beckett demurs.
Mary Margaret smiles at them. "Emma and Regina have a very… tempestuous relationship."
"Really?" Castle asks, intrigued.
"She gets under my skin, that's for sure." Emma nods. "All those songs, they make sense now."
Castle's mouth drops open at her words, and Mary Margaret looks concerned. "Are you okay, Mr. –"
"C-castle. Richard Castle." He manages to get out.
"Hey," Emma points a finger up at him, "Richard Castle – the writer. You wrote the Derrick Storm books. I was so pissed when you killed him off."
Castle nods, but he's still distracted. "That's me."
"I do like Nikki Heat, though." She offers, looking at Beckett. "You must be the detective he based her on."
Beckett sighs. "Guilty."
"So, uh, now that we all know each other, what exactly was it you were saying a minute ago, Miss Swan. About the songs making sense?"
"Oh," Emma flings her hand dismissively. "You know, about people who drive you crazy or that you hate."
"Castle." Beckett hisses. "We really need to be going. We just wanted to make sure that we returned Henry's book. It was nice to meet you."
"You too." Both women smile, and Beckett drags Castle away before he can say anything else.
She can't keep him quiet once they're out of the diner though. "Oh my god! Oh my god! Beckett!"
"Castle." She's shaking her head. "It doesn't mean anything."
"Of course it does!" Castle bursts. "The songs make sense. You're the one that said –"
"I said that the songs make sense when you're in love. What she was describing was not love."
"No? Regina is under her skin?" Castle starts humming the Sinatra song. Beckett shakes her head. "She drives her crazy?" Again, he hums out the bars of a song, this time by the Fine Young Cannibals.
"Beckett. Think about it. It's perfect. I couldn't have written it better myself."
"Please. It's downright Shakespearean. My only love sprung from my only hate!"
"Castle!" Beckett grabs his ear this time as she drags him into the bed and breakfast. She only lets go of him when they are back in the adjoining rooms with the door open.
"Beckett! That hurt!" He whines, before he turns back to the white board. "But I'm right. I know I am."
"Castle, not only are you crazy for believing in this curse nonsense in the first place, but you are insane for thinking that Regina is Emma's true love."
"Beckett, just hear me out. Regina curses everyone because Snow White took away her happy ending. All Regina wants is her happy ending. Snow White's daughter makes it through to our world too, to break the curse. Curses like these, dark curses, are broken by true love. So if Emma is to break the curse, then she needs to use true love to do it. Her happy ending and Regina's are intertwined, hence Henry. It wasn't an accident that Regina adopted him." Castle is pacing around the room in his excitement. "Regina thought Henry would be her happy ending, but he's only part of it. And if Emma breaks the curse, everyone gets to live happily ever after."
"Castle, the villains don't get to live happily ever after. They get punished." Beckett reminds him.
Castle looks at her for a long time before he speaks. "You know that that isn't always the case. Things aren't always black and white. And this… this is brilliant."
Beckett shakes her head. "You're out of your mind."
"I'm right. I'm right, Beckett. I've gotta tell Henry!"
"Tell Henry what, Castle? That for the curse to be broken, his birth mother – The White Knight – has to fall in love with his adoptive mother – The Evil Queen. I'm sure that'll go over swimmingly with everyone."
Castle sighs as he sinks down on the bed. "I know that that's it." He tells her, sadly.
Beckett sighs too and comes to sit beside him. "I know you believe that. And – hey – maybe you're right. But, Castle, this place, this curse – if there is one – it's not for us to mess with. It's for them to figure out, on their own. And if you're right –"
"You know I'm right." Castle says like a petulant child.
"If you're right, then they'll figure it out eventually. The story's already been written, right? Now it just needs to play out."
Castle is still pouting, but he nods at her. "I guess you're right."
"So tomorrow we pick up your car, I drive back to New York, you go to the next stop on your book tour, and we leave the residents of Storybrooke to figure out the curse – or not – on their own."
"Castle, I know you want to believe that this is true. That fairy tales and magic do exist and that curses can be broken by true love. But sometimes they can't." Beckett bumps his shoulder with hers as she stands up to go back to her room.
"Beckett?" He calls and she turns back in the doorway, her hand on the knob.
"If sometimes they can't, then that means that sometimes they can, right?"
And she's driven over 7 hours to build theory with this man about a curse that isn't real and it's still probably the best vacation she's had in quite a while, so she smiles at him softly. "Yeah, Castle. I guess it does."
And the smile he gives back to her makes it all worth it.
"Good night, Castle."
"Until tomorrow, Beckett."
The fact that she drops her hand and leaves the door between their rooms open is proof enough to Castle that fairy tales are real and happy endings can happen. He just hopes that everyone in Storybrooke gets theirs.
And that he gets his too.