Four Winds: On the Job Training
A Castle Fantasy AU/crossover with The Sentinel
By Laura Picken
This story is in the continuing series of Castle fan fiction based on my fantasy alternate universe story "Four Winds". The crossover aspect of this has allowed me to explain a lot, though, so you might be able to keep up if you haven't read "Four Winds". The story's on my author page, though, if you get lost.
If anyone has read the quick biography on my author page, then you'll know that I cut my teeth in the fan fiction world writing stories about the old UPN show "The Sentinel". So, after the legend left Kate Beckett with enhanced senses, this was the first sequel idea that came to mind. This will be written independent of most of the canon of "The Sentinel", and I'm writing with Castle fanfic readers in mind, so you do not need to have seen "The Sentinel" to keep up here.
For very loose timeline purposes, Castle fans can place this somewhere in the post-"Always" future: Castle and Beckett are a firmly established couple, Beckett's back on the force and Ryan has fought his way out of the doghouse. Season five might make it into the canon of this series if I'm still writing it in September, but right now I make no promises.
DISCLAIMER: The Sentinel is property of Pet Fly Productions. Castle, Beckett, et al. are property of Andrew W. Marlowe and ABC. The legends described herein are inventions of my own twisted imagination and should not be taken to reflect the traditions of any particular group. All non-English language phrases are courtesy of Google Translate, so please forgive me if I get anything unintentionally wrong.
Okay, enough business, let the adventure begin!
He rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck for the third time. He was tempted to complain about the heat...but there wasn't any. All he could see was jungle. Sweaty, sticky jungle. But then why was there no heat?
He walked around for what felt like hours, and the lack of direction was starting to frustrate him. He felt like he should be going somewhere, but where? Clearing the vines in front of him, he found a boulder large enough and flat enough for him to sit on for rest. The tigers came to sit at his feet, and he smiled, welcoming the company. He slid off the rock to the animals' level, letting the gentle rumble of their purring lull him into a restorative nap.
The active twisting of the tigers' heads woke him. He sat up and turned his head to line up with the way the tigers were facing. A black panther and a white wolf entered his field of vision, but stood at a distance, as if they were waiting for him to join them. When he stood, the tigers joined in, and the group broke into a run, tracking the panther and wolf with all the speed his gifts had given him.
Finally, he caught up with the animals, and the sight before him took his breath away. A collection of rivers poured their contents over five waterfalls into a crystal clear lake under a blanket of stars. He sat on a rock ledge near the edges of the lake and dipped his toes into the water, watching as the stars danced, shifted, and coalesced into a shape that looked to him just like the skyline of Manhattan...
Javier Esposito woke to the always pleasant sensation of having his beloved Lanie Parrish in his arms. He shook his head, trying to shake the feeling of post-vision disorientation from his mind. It eased off as he grew more awake, but the persistent sense that something was coming lingered in the back of his mind.
Lanie noticed the sense of uneasiness coming from her boyfriend. "Javi? Babe, is everything okay?"
Esposito nodded. "I'm fine. Just a weird dream, is all-"
"Bull," Lanie interrupted. "I know that look by now, Javi. What did you 'see'?"
"It was nothing that specific," Esposito replied. He then described the dream to Lanie, who frowned in contemplative confusion herself-an expression that Esposito was all to happy to point out to his girlfriend. "See! I told you it was weird."
Lanie agreed, "Yeah, it's definitely not like your usual visions. Wonder what it means..."
"Guess we'll find out," Esposito shrugged.
Blair Sandburg shook off the familiar disorientation that came with not getting nearly enough sleep as he stretched and yawned. He looked at his clock radio.
This is going to be a very long day, thought Sandburg. He sighed as the next thing in his bedroom that came into clear focus was his half-packed suitcase. Detective Jim Ellison, his friend, roommate and grad school observational study had drawn the short straw at his job, which meant that Ellison was now the Cascade Police Department's official delegate at the NYPD's upcoming conference on how to create an Anti-Terrorism Task Force.
Ellison was less than thrilled...and not just from the prospect of having to spend five days in what was likely to be one of the world's most boring conferences. Not wanting to have to face alone the miserable havoc that air travel seemed to inflict upon the detective's five heightened senses, Ellison had generously paid for Sandburg's companion ticket, giving the younger man the first opportunity he'd had to see more of New York City than just it's airports.
Sandburg had been thrilled at having the opportunity to visit his old friend Mark Schoenweiss and dig into the extensive collection of Sentinel research materials at the NYU library...until he woke up this morning. That was such an odd dream, thought Sandburg. He knew that the panther and wolf represented himself and his partner, but then who was the man he had seen? And what did the two tigers represent? Sandburg pushed himself to full wakefulness and got up to finish packing for the trip, trying and failing to push to the back of his mind the feeling that this trip was going to end up being anything but an easy research vacation.
Sandburg was getting frustrated. He had thought the archives of the NYU library were going to be a gold mine. Mark had assured him that the books the library had would spur his research on for the next five years, and Sandburg's backup search of the online library catalog confirmed that that university had at least a dozen books that he was practically drooling over getting the chance to look at.
So who the hell had grabbed every single book he was looking for?
Blair started to walk the halls of the library, trying to discreetly peek inside the study cubicles of anyone who had pulled more than two or three books. He was growing more and more determined to find those books, even if he had to walk through fifteen or twenty floors of the library to find them.
Finally, deep in a corner of the third floor he checked, Blair spotted a girl who looked like she was trying to bury herself in a pile of books. As he got closer, Blair recognized the top book on her pile as Burton's fifth Sentinel journal. He looked at the book, then at the girl. She was cute, but obviously young - he pegged her as an undergrad freshman or sophomore at the *most*. The girl's long red hair, though, reminded him of what he thought his mom might have looked like at that age. Blair quietly coughed a couple of times to get the girl's attention. "Excuse me," he asked, "Are you done with this?"
The girl jumped at the sound of Blair's voice, obviously startled. "Sorry," she remarked, catching her breath, "You startled me. Got too deep in my reading, I guess."
Blair smiled. He could relate. "Yeah. I do that all the time myself. Doing research for a paper?"
The girl started to shake her head, but stopped herself and nodded. "Yeah. Freshman English. They want to make sure we know how to do write a research paper or some such nonsense. Anyway, I caught an episode of that show Stan Lee's Superhumans and found it really interesting, y'know? So I did some digging and found out about all the books they have here."
Sandburg knew an obfuscation when he saw one, but decided to let it go...for the moment. "You're not a student here?" asked Blair.
The girl shook her head. "Columbia, actually. You?"
"I'm a grad student at Rainier, in Washington," replied Blair.
"Wow," exclaimed the girl in surprise, "you're a long way from home. Did you come all the way out here just to look at these books?"
"Something like that," Blair muttered. The shushing starting to circulate around them made Blair realize that they were starting to bother their neighbors, so he asked the girl, "Listen, how would you like to go to dinner with me, and we'll compare notes?"
The girl hesitated for a minute, but her curiosity overwhelmed her 'New Yorker' instincts and she caved in. "Okay." As she got up, she reached out her hand with a smile that Blair found completely disarming. "Alexis Castle."
He returned the handshake with a charming smile of his own. "Nice to meet you, Alexis Castle. Blair Sandburg."
"Man, that pizza..." Blair closed his eyes, savoring the memory of the flavors from dinner in his mind.
Alexis could only chuckle at her new friend's reaction. "What'd I tell you, Blair? Pizza is different in New York City. And it really does spoil you for almost anywhere else."
"Yeah," Blair agreed. "I get that now."
Alexis smiled, sipping at her iced tea as they crossed Washington Square Park. "Are you sure your friend won't mind helping me with this paper?"
Blair shook his head. "He won't mind at all. We *became* friends because of how much he loves talking about this stuff. That's why I came out here this week." Well, part of the reason, at any rate.
"Okay." Alexis and Blair showed their IDs at the door to the school building and took the elevator down to the basement. She started to picture how her friends at the 12th would react if she'd ever told them (or worse, her dad) that she was going down to a room in the basement of the school with a man she barely knew. And yet, her gut was telling her that Blair Sandburg was someone she could trust.
She just hoped that her gut wasn't steering her wrong.
She realized that Blair had been talking all the way down to the basement, going on about some of the trouble he and Mark had gotten into when they were a little younger. She half listened until she realized they had gotten to the teaching assistant's door.
Blair knocked, "Mark? It's Blair." Surprised that his friend hadn't answered the door, he turned to Alexis and apologized, "We had planned to meet here after dinner this afternoon. He's probably listening to something on his computer." Blair started to turn the doorknob, only to find that it wasn't necessary.
The door opened slightly to show that, behind a mountain of papers, Blair's friend Mark Schoenweiss was at his desk, slumped over and very, very dead.