For this and all subsequent chapters, I will issue the disclaimer that I do not own the characters. However, I do reserve the right to claim my ideas that originate from this storyline. There are some ... interesting things that are going to start to happen in this chapter that are independent of the characters, and I do claim those as my own ideas, which may not be copied or used without my written permission.
"I thought you were staying at school tonight," Castle told his daughter. "It's really late, honey."
"Dad, I'm in college now. This is early. And I was going to stay at school, but then I found this, and I knew you had to see it. Now." She held out the iPad to them.
Castle was put on guard by something in her voice. "What is it, honey? Did you get a bad grade?"
Alexis rolled her eyes at him. "God, Dad ... no. I was talking with Kate earlier, and ... well, just read this."
Kate knew what they'd been talking about, so she asked the girl, "Alexis, what is it?"
Alexis took a breath. "I think I know why all of those women have been stalking Dad today, and why they're so creepy about everything."
"Well, Dad, I don't know quite how to say this, but you're oozing."
Castle's face reflected a quick moment of morbid shock as if Alexis was seeing him naked, before he quickly looked down at himself to make sure that anything embarrassing was indeed covered. Whew. But he didn't know what ... he kept trying to look around on his body, trying to find what Alexis was taking about. "Uh ... from where? Do I need a towel?"
Alexis shook her head and looked at the ceiling. "Really, Dad. Gross. Not that kind of oozing. Goo oozing," she clarified as if that cleared everything up.
But the two older adults, completely clueless as to whatever point she was trying to make, simply stared at the younger adult, waiting for the punchline. Or the explanation. Or something. And that younger adult stared at the older two, waiting for some show of recognition which just was not there.
Finally, because it was late and they weren't accomplishing anything by staring at each other, Kate asked her, "Alexis, what are you talking about?"
"Goo?" she said again in the form of a question, looking back and forth between Kate and her Dad. "Oozing? ? Come on, you guys!"
Castle's eyes got big once more, and then he quickly reached down and grabbed Alexis' arm, and began to haul her over to the other side of the room. After a few steps, she jerked her arm away as she admonished loudly, "Dad! What are you doing?"
Castle didn't say anything at first, but just leaned very close to her and peered into her eyes. "Alexis," he asked in a hushed voice, "Are you on drugs?"
Now it was Alexis' turn to have the shocked look on her face as she asked her father, "What? Dad ... no!" Seemingly ignoring her negative response, he reached forward and tried to pry her eyelids open with his fingers so he could look into them more closely, which only resulted in her swatting his hands away as she took a step backwards. "Dad! What are you doing?" Turning to Kate, who was also looking like she was surprised by the turn of events, Alexis asked Kate, "What is wrong with him?"
"I'm ... not sure. Castle!" she said, redirecting her attention to her suddenly very odd significant other. "Come here and sit down and let's talk about this rationally. I'm sure Alexis isn't on drugs."
"Thank you," Alexis said, voicing her gratitude toward Kate, while giving her father a strange look as she sat back down.
"She's not making any sense and that's one of the first signs that she could be on drugs! And she just started college, and you know how college is! All this talk about gooey things, and I still don't know what part of me is oozing—oh, my God! Are you having hallucinations too?" he asked with a stricken look on his face.
"Castle, shut up for a minute," Kate told him as Alexis put her head in her hands. "Give Alexis a chance to tell us what she's talking about, because Lord knows, I'm certainly wondering. And then I'm sure you'll find out she's not on drugs." She grabbed his arm and pulled him down side of her.
"Thank you," Alexis said again to Kate. Then after taking a deep breath, she asked, "Okay, so you guys have no idea what Goo is?"
Castle was apparently adhering to Kate's order to shut up, so she was the one who replied, "Sure, but I don't think you mean the same thing."
"It's supposed to be ... oh, I guess the random stuff that happens every day. You go out for coffee, you catch a cab ... whatever. Sometimes it's stuff that you might not normally even notice, like how many people are wearing black boots in a certain place. So there's this website, and they do a lot of this stuff. They post something, and then you have to find it. Finding it and posting about it is called 'oozing'. Goo oozes, you know?" She looked at Castle with that last comment, and he finally shrugged and nodded, because he couldn't argue that goo, did, well, ooze.
"So anyway, different things could be oozing at different times. And sometimes, the site will start an ooze about some goo, or they'll pick up on someone else's ooze, and they have prizes for whoever can keep the ooze going. You get points if you post some goo for the ooze. There are challenges. Some are little and easy, some are more difficult."
"Like a scavenger hunt?" Kate asked.
She thought about it. "Well, yeah, I guess, in a way. But a scavenger hunt is more with random things that don't go together, where all of the Goo oozing is centered around one particular Goostream ... uh, topic."
"Goostream?" interjected Castle. "Uh ... bad mental image there."
Alexis ignored her father's observation. "When Kate told me about the weird stalker women—"
Castle turned to Kate. "When did you tell her about the weird stalker women?"
Without missing a beat, she replied, "When you were showering off your alley-stink. Now let your daughter finish."
Alexis and Kate had reached a sort of friendly coexistence since Kate and her Dad had started dating. They weren't extremely close yet, but they were friendly. Since they'd gotten to know each other a little better, Alexis had been a little bit amazed at how well Kate was able to reign in her dad when he got fixated on something, like when she'd just ordered him to shut up after he got it in his head that she was on drugs. It was a little disconcerting at first, but eventually she realized that the detective kind of grounded her dad, and he did seem happy. So for now, that was good enough for her.
"So when Kate told me that she thought something was going on, more than just creepy fangirls—"
Castle turned to Kate again, obviously surprised. "You thought more was going on that just creepy fangirls and you didn't tell me?"
"Castle ..." she warned. "Will you let your kid talk now please? We can talk later." She pointedly turned away from him and silently signaled to Alexis to keep going.
"When Kate told me what some of the women were saying and doing, I had it in the back of my mind as I was studying, and then it just hit me. And I checked it out, and this was what I found." She proudly handed Kate the iPad and pointed to the screen. "Dad is oozing. See? This is from when he was in the store tonight."
Kate looked at the screen and read out loud, "LB4 IS Larsen's Market, Grand St." She looked up at Alexis. "That makes no sense."
"Yeah, it does, if you speak Goo. LB4 is Dad, at least right now. Ledger Bachelor number four ... LB4 ... get it? And the IS isn't the word 'is', but it stands for 'initial sighting'. So someone spotted Dad going into the store, created a piece of Goo and added to Dad's Ooze."
"Initial sighting? It makes me sound like I'm a UFO." Then he looked like he had a thought. "Wait a minute. So somebody saw me in the store, and then ... " Once again, he turned to Kate. "I told you those women just came out of nowhere! So Scotty didn't beam them down! They ..." he thought for a moment about how to say it, "... they floated in on the flow of oozing goo!" he finished proudly.
"Goostream," Alexis corrected as Kate rolled her eyes. "And Dad? With the Scotty reference, are you sure you're not on drugs?"
"Be quiet, daughter. Hey, how far back do the tweets go?"
"Dad, this isn't Twitter. It's Goo. Goo is different."
"But it sounds like Twitter."
"Well, it's not," she admonished. "But you can search all the way back in your Ooze, or in the main Goostream, from the time everything was started."
"Good," Castle acknowledged. "But how can you even say Goostream with a straight face?"
Kate, who had the iPad and was scrolling through her boyfriend's ... Ooze, she guessed, was now was glancing back through entries from the day. She was amazed at all of the activity, just about him. She didn't understand a lot of it yet, but she was able to pick out the posts from when they were at the park when they'd found the victim. 'LB4 IS Central Park baseball diamond north', 'LB4 Q3a none' or ''LB4 picture,' followed by a link.' She didn't understand the middle one, but she could pretty much figure out the other two. There seemed to be quite a few ... what did Alexis call them? Oh, yeah ... pieces of Goo. About Castle.
And, like Alexis said, that would certainly explan the crazy fangirls. At least a little bit.
"What's this one?" Kate asked, pointing to the middle ... piece of Goo on the screen of the iPad.
Alexis looked at it and responded, "I'm not sure exactly, but it's a question. That's what the 'Q' means. The site has different challenges. This is probably one of them. If you try the challenge, you get points. If you successfully complete the challenge, you get more points.
"How do you know what the questions are?" Castle wanted to know.
"There's a list at the main page of the Goostream." She tapped a little bit on the iPad. "The app has shortcut buttons for the challenges and—"
Castle perked up at that. "There's an app for Goo?"
"Dad!" she admonished because he was interrupting her yet again. "Yes, there's an app for Goo. You can download it later. Now as I was saying, the app has buttons so you can post new Goo really quickly. If you want to win, sometimes it's a matter of seconds." She was tapping on the screen. "Yeah, here are the challenge questions. 'Get to know your Most Eligible Bachelors! Find out any of the following before noon and create Goo: What time was he born? Does he have a pet? What was his favorite food as a child? What was his first tea—"
Castle interrupted her reading by jumping up and gesticulating wildly, alternately pointing at the iPad and then at Kate. "That's it! That ... crazy mac and cheeeeese woman," he proclaimed, imitating the exaggerated vowel sound, "from the crime scene this morning. You heard her, Kate! She was trying to get the Goo on me!"
Alexis was a little taken aback by her father's outburst, and looked back and forth between her Dad and Kate a few times. Kate acknowledged him and put a hand on his arm in an attempt to calm him down, while simultaneously trying to push him back onto the couch. When he wasn't quite as animated, Alexis asked Kate, "Were there a lot of people trying to talk to him, or ... do things, like get pictures or ... other stuff?" Alexis glanced down at the iPad a few random times as she was talking, and her voice held a bit of a worried edge to it.
"Uh...yeah. One girl slipped your dad her phone number, and some other woman leaned over and hugged him and snapped a picture."
"Was this her?" Alexis asked, showing them the iPad, where they saw a picture of the grinning woman at the crime scene with her arm around a somewhat stunned looking Castle.
"Hey, that's a horrible picture of me!"
Kate ignored Castle's vanity statement and confirmed, "Yes, that's the woman from the park this morning. Of course, Alexis, other women were getting pictures too, after your father decided to act like he was holding a press conference at the crime scene." She rolled her eyes.
"Hey, I did not! I was just ... uh ... trying to be friendly," Castle stammered, trying to defend himself over what he realized too late was a major gaffe on his part. If he only knew that what he knew now ...
"Well, did they return enough of your 'friendliness' to you, Castle?" Beckett asked him with a smirk, knowing that he regretted it now. He really regretted it now.
Before he could answer, Alexis, who was looking down at more of her father's Ooze on the iPad, exclaimed, "Oh, my God! Dad! In public? Tell me you didn't."
"Didn't what?" The older adults asked in unison.
"One of the challenges ... it was for getting a piece of his clothing. And some woman said she did!" The girl had a worried look of disgust on her face. "God, Dad, tell me you didn't ... try ... something naked somewhere? Please? Because I'm thinking if some woman got your clothing and it's not Kate ... that's just bad." Then she shot an apologetic look to the detective. "Uh ... sorry, Kate, but it says—"
They both looked perplexed for a moment, but then Kate started laughing. "That's why she did it!" She looked at Castle. "Your pocket thing, Castle. That woman who ran away with your pocket thing? Didn't she yell something about your clothing right before she ran away like a lunatic?"
Alexis visibly relaxed as the detective laughed, but she still looked puzzled as Castle said, "Yeah! She was right before mac and cheeeeeese lady, wasn't she?" And then he clarified, "Alexis, I was not naked in public today. The woman was probably desperate and she saw the little decorative thing in my jacket pocket, so she grabbed it and ran away. And then it sounds like she Oozed about it."
"Posted some Goo," Alexis corrected.
"Whatever," he said. Then he looked at his watch and was amazed at how long Alexis had been educating them in the world of Goo and Oozes. "Alexis, honey, don't you have an early class tomorrow?"
"It's at ten, so I'm good." She looked between the two adults. "So ... what are you guys going to do now? I mean, now that you know more about why the crazy stalker women are doing the crazy stalking?"
Castle and Beckett looked at each other. "Uh," Kate started, "I guess the first thing we should do is get that app on our phones. Then can we ... follow the ... Ooze or something?" The terminology still sounded strange to her.
Alexis shrugged. "You can float the Ooze or just ride the Ooze. 'Following' is more of a twitter term so Goobers don't really use it."
"Goobers?" Kate asked.
"Goobers are just people who post Goo."
"So," Castle asked, "If we start using Goo, then we'll be Goobers too?"
Alexis nodded. "Oh, wonderful," Kate replied, rolling her eyes but still smiling. "Yet another horizon that you've broadened for me, Castle. I've always aspired to be a Goober," she told him sarcastically.
"Hey, it always helps to be in tune with pop culture," he reminded her. Turning to Alexis, he asked curiously, "How did you learn about all of this, anyway? And how in the world did I not know about it?" Castle wanted to know. "I always know about things like this. I pride myself in having my finger on the pulse of pop culture." He sounded a little put out that his daughter had had to give him a tutorial for the latest 'thing'. And the fact that there was an app for it and he still hadn't known about it? Double-whammy.
"For me, just from using it a few times and hearing other people talk about it. And there were some freshmen Oozes at school, to try to get to know the campus or get to know other people. But for you? If I had to guess, I'd have to say that you've been a bit ... out of touch lately." She smiled knowingly. "Maybe you've had other ... interests that have been occupying your free time," she suggested, stealing a very quick but pointed look at Kate. But then she adopted an innocent expression as she suggested, "I'm sure you've been doing a lot of reading, right? Trying to catch up on Patterson's and Connelly's latest books? Or ... Dad! Have you taken up knitting? I know you've always wanted to learn. And since you didn't even know about the hottest thi—"
"Point taken, daughter." He shot a look at Kate to see how she was taking Alexis' obvious insinuations, but she had a slight grin on her face at the way Alexis was ribbing him. "And yes, I haven't been ... out in the world too much lately; I fully admit it. You know we're still trying to keep this under wraps from everyone, and—"
"I get it, Dad. Don't worry. I just couldn't resist. Patterson? Knitting? As if," she laughed. "Now, I do think I'll go up to bed if you think you're okay with everything. Can you handle getting the app?"
Castle gave her a pithy look. "I may not have known what this type of Goo was until tonight, but I think I can still handle downloading an app all by myself. I'm not that out of touch."
They exchanged their goodnights and Alexis retired to her room upstairs. Castle and Beckett leaned back onto the couch, just thinking about the whole situation. Then, almost simultaneously, they both reached for their phones. "We have to get that app," she proclaimed.
"Yeah, but let's wait until the morning. I'm tired." He said the words tiredly, but he leaned over and nuzzled her neck with a kiss right afterward, letting her knew that he wasn't that tired.
She swatted him away gently as she searched for the app. "Castle, you heard Alexis. There's basically a contest where you're the prize. Or actually, you're the means to an end for someone to get some really good prizes. There's some nice stuff ... I saw some of them when I was looking on Alexis' iPad."
"Are you saying I'm not a good prize?" he asked as he raised one eyebrow at her.
"Are you saying that you want to be the prize for some little fangirl?" She raised an eyebrow at him, and the smirk dropped off his face at her implication.
"No, no. I'll just be your prize." He punctuated his statement with a quick kiss on her lips.
"Fine, but no more hiding in alleys, okay? You really did stink before."
"But anyway, do you realize that there could be new challenges about you? How do you know that one of them isn't to play ding dong ditch or something like that?"
"The doormen would never let random fangirls up here in the middle of the night," he reasoned.
"Castle ... okay, maybe not that exact thing, but my point is that we have to know what to expect. What about when you tried to get coffee this morning? If you'd had the app then, or had even known about Goo then, you might have had more of a warning."
She did have a point about that. "Okay, fine." He grabbed his phone, and they both were silent for a few minutes as they found the app and started the downloads.
"So what about tomorrow?" Beckett finally asked.
"Well, like you said, forewarned is forearmed. I'm sure it'll be fine, now that we know what's going on."
She looked skeptical. "You really think that?"
"Sure. We've been surprised by crazy fangirls, but now that we know where they'll be, we'll just avoid them. Easy." He shrugged and stood up from the couch, pulling her with him. "Let's go to bed. It's late, and we have a case to solve tomorrow, right?"
"Right, she said as she followed him back to his bedroom. But even though he sounded confident, there was still a funny feeling of foreboding in her gut, like, once again, they might be in for some surprises.
There it is! I hope you all enjoyed it, along with the explanation of the Goo and the Ooze. If you see any typos, please let me know. My keyboard is still acting funny.
I got such an amazing response and such wonderful feedback for the last chapter, so THANK YOU! To all of those who so consistently read and review, I thank you from the bottom of my heart (or the tips of my typing fingers). The curse of the weekend is hereby lifted, at least for now. I contacted a number of you, but if I didn't contact you, please know that I still did appreciate your feedback and I'll try to get to you next time. I am really enjoying writing this story and having this little plot unfold, and I love it that so many of you are intrigued with it too. And several of you did guess the scavenger hunt angle, so even if you were one of those people, I still hope you were somewhat surprised by the whole Goo thing.
Several of you have said that this would make a good episode. I definitely agree, and I wish the show would revisit this sometime. As I'm writing this, I can 'see' the actors playing these scenes. I would love to see this played out on screen, because I think with their facial expressions and comic abilities, this could be hilarious.
If you are just now finding this story and want to receive alerts for new chapters, I ask again that you leave me some feedback, good OR bad. After 7 chapters, you must have formed some kind of opinion about the story. This is an amateur writing site...that's the whole purpose of the site: if a story shows promise, provide some feedback and motivation, and that author will in turn provide more and better things for you to read. Win-win, right?
(As I stated previously, the whole 'Goo' concept as outlined here is strictly a product of my imagination and is not meant to mimic anything that is currently in existence (if it turns out that I'm like Castle and don't know what's going on with pop culture). That said, if there is currently no medium like this already in existence as I publish this chapter on the afternoon of 10/4/2012, I claim these ideas as my own and they may not be used without my permission. The characters, of course, still do not belong to me.)