Disclaimer: I am not writing this story to make money in any way, and I do not own any characters that I don't make up. It's all for fun!
The Doppelganger Effect
Detective Kate Beckett pulled up to the dock and tried to find a place to park. The dock itself wasn't all that big, and there were already several cars and vans parked all around, taking all the good spots. She was spotted by one of the uniformed officers who had been keeping the small crowd of curious civilians back behind the hastily erected taped section, and was waved over to a spot that she hadn't noticed until he pointed it out. With a little relief that she wouldn't have to park all the way out in the street and then push her way through that crowd, she parked her car, made sure her badge was tucked into her pants' beltline, and headed for the end of the dock.
The helpful officer held the tape up for her to duck under and she thanked him with a smile, even as she took a cursory look at the crowd that was gathered. Not that she was looking for anything in particular, it was just her nature to see if there was anything out of place – or anyone that looked guiltier than anyone else. Nothing made her suspicious offhand, but before she could head for the end of the dock she saw Ryan heading her way from out of the middle of that crowd.
"Hey. What do we have?"
"I'm not sure. I just got here." He looked around. "Where's Castle?"
"I'm not sure. I called him, but it went straight through to his voicemail."
"He'll show up," she said. "Soon as he gets the message." There was no doubt about that. She hadn't seen him in a few days, so she was looking forward to it – even though there was no way she'd tell him that. "Where's Esposito?"
"He's already here – somewhere. I was at Jenny's when the call came in and she lives further away. He said he'd come and get the preliminary things out of the way."
Since Kate could see the Medical Examiner's truck, she knew Lanie would already be at their crime scene – or at least at the spot where their dead body had been pulled out of the water. Beckett hadn't heard much more about the scene than that, but they'd soon know more than they wanted to about the evil things that one person could do to another.
Ryan fell into step beside her as she started walking toward the end of the dock. Now all she had to weave her way through were the various official vehicles; police cars for the most part. She spotted Esposito coming around the Medical Examiner's van and he saw her at the same time, and started her way. He looked a little pale, and there was definitely something off in his step. She stopped walking and waited for him to come to them.
"What do we have?" she asked.
"You okay?" Ryan asked at the same moment. He obviously saw the same thing she did. Something was definitely not right.
Esposito ignored Ryan's question, focusing instead on Beckett.
"Have you talked to Castle?"
She shook her head.
"I tried to call him, but there wasn't an answer."
"Why? What's wrong?"
"We don't know for sure yet that anything is," he temporized. "It could just be-"
"Javier? What is it?"
"Our dead guy is pretty messed up from being in the water. We can't-"
"What are you –"
"He had Castle's wallet in his pocket."
"We found Castle's wallet in the pocket of the guy they pulled out of the water. Lanie-"
He didn't get any further. Beckett had started walking again, her mind numb and filled with denial. There wasn't any way. Just because she hadn't seen him or talked to him, that didn't mean anything. Castle's presence in the precinct was erratic at best. Sometimes, when he was writing, he wouldn't be seen for days. Although he did normally call every now and then, just to say hi or share some interesting thing that might have happened to him that day.
Lanie saw her approaching and walked over to head her off from the covered corpse that she'd been studying.
"Don't panic just yet, Kate," the Medical Examiner told her. "We don't know anything for certain."
"Esposito said Castle's wallet was found on the… the…"
"We found his wallet, yes, but the body has been in the water for at least two days and it's badly mangled. I can't see enough to confirm any kind of identity – and you wouldn't be able to, either, so there's no sense in you even trying."
"The clothes are high quality," Lanie said, softly. "The size is right, more or less, and so is the build, but Castle is average enough that it still could be anyone. I'm going to try and get fingerprints and I'll request dental records. Until then, there's nothing I can tell you about the dead body."
Beckett bit her lower lip, feeling a little lost and lightheaded, but she felt the presence of the two detectives who were standing on either side of her and saw the compassion in Lanie's expression.
"We should go to Castle's place," Ryan said. "There could be a good reason that he's not answering the phone. We might find the answer there."
Beckett's eyes strayed to the covered body, but instead of stating the obvious, she just nodded.
"I'll let you know as soon as I have anything, Kate."
"I know. Thanks."
Lanie reached out and touched her arm, briefly, and then turned back to what she'd been doing. Beckett turned to Esposito and Ryan. Both of them looked as sick as she felt just then.
"I'll meet you guys at Castle's."
They nodded and all three turned and headed for their cars.