AN: This is a semi-sequel to 'The Cold Read'. It's not absolutely necessary to have read the first to understand this one; but it will be more enjoyable, and make more sense. So, for purposes of having the timelines clear; this is set somewhere during Season 4 of Castle. Castle and Beckett aren't together yet; and Gates is the Captain. In Sherlock Timeline, this is after A Scandal in Belgravia, but before Hounds of Baskerville.
"You told me where the crime scene was, and I had to reach for a city map." Castle called as he arrived at the crime scene.
The warehouse was abandoned, and in a state of total chaos. Half the building was torn down, burned out. Fires were still smouldering, huge chunks of the rooftop collapsed across the floor. Police were stepping gingerly, trying to get around and study each piece of destruction carefully.
"I saw this on TV this morning." Castle called out to Team Beckett. "They said it was a gas main rupture. Since when does Homicide handle faulty equipment?"
"It wasn't a gas main." Esposito said. "It was made to look like one, but the building was wired."
"Who owned the building?" Beckett asked, walking the scene, taking everything in.
"Nobody. It was abandoned."
"Nope. No bids on anything. Buildings are as worthless as everything else on the block."
"Any word on the explosive used?"
"Nothing. Witnesses say there was one person in here. A squatter. Came here all the time because nobody came here."
"Then why go to the time and trouble of blowing it up?" Castle asked, with a gleam in his eye. Beckett recognised it at once. It was the gleam of a mystery. A question that could be spun into any number of stories. "What was the place back before?"
"It was an accountant's office. The company went bust in the eighties, the area was never really in the middle of anything. Someone used it as an op-shop for the Salvation Army, then a storeroom during that trucking strike... Nobody really has any real interest in keeping it."
"Well, someone had an interest." Beckett said firmly. "The victim?"
"It'll take a while. He's buried under half the building, and CSU is checking for any further explosive material... You ever try digging a body out of a burning pile of rubble that might explode while trying to take forensic evidence?"
"Twice last week, and I was done by now." Castle deadpanned.
"Either way, there's not much we can investigate except the building. Homicide can't get a whole lot without a victim." Beckett turned to Ryan and Esposito. "Let's run the building, look for anyone who might want it for something, or stand to gain from having it gone."
"We already checked, there wasn't anything."
"Then let's do it again." Beckett said. "There's not a whole lot else we can do."
"Speak for yourself!" Castle said brightly. "I've got a pickup to make!"
Beckett glanced at him. "Alexis is back?"
"Home for a week, ETA three hours." Castle responded happily.
"Didn't know she was away." Esposito observed.
"Checking out collages." Beckett put in. "She settle on one yet?"
"I don't know, but I plan to ask her sometime after Laser Tag."
Watson was tapping away at his laptop and Sherlock was devouring stacks of world newspapers. Watson was typing up the details of the Irene Adler case, – or at least as much of it as he could – with Sherlock tapping out corrections or dissenting opinion via his phone. Mrs Hudson got in on the impromptu chat-room and brought up a tray of cakes.
"Not your housekeeper." She corrected him doggedly. "And you shouldn't have cakes for lunch."
"As soon as John buys groceries, and either of us learn to cook, I'll gladly improve my diet." Sherlock waved that off, already back at the paper.
Not really expecting any kind of difference to be made, Mrs Hudson was already going back downstairs.
Sherlock returned to the news and chewed absently. He had his mouth full when he suddenly went upright. Watson didn't move. The Consulting Detective made crazed moves like that whenever he noticed what day it was.
"Call Lestrade." Sherlock said darkly, and he ripped a page out of the newspaper.
"Why?" Watson said without looking up from his laptop.
Sherlock put the torn segment of the page down, sliding it in front of his laptop screen. "He's back."
There was only one 'He' in Sherlock's world. There was only one 'She', namely Irene Adler, and there was only one 'He', namely James Moriarty.
Watson called Lestrade immediately.
Castle came downstairs the next morning and found his mother dressed as a giant insect. She was dancing around the room with a baton, doing a little tap number, with three pairs of fake legs hanging off her sides.
He didn't even blink.
Neither did Alexis, who was serving pancakes. "Morning dad."
"Morning sweetie." She had coffee waiting. "Ahh, good girl. With you at Stamford I had to push the button on the coffee machine myself after I woke up. I was living like some kind of animal." He put a kiss on top of her head. "Anything interesting in the paper?"
"Gas main blew in the East End." Alexis offered. "If there are any dead bodies out there, they dropped after the morning edition."
"Usually do." Castle agreed, not filling her in just yet. Alexis was still having trouble with her father following around Homicide Detectives, even after four years. Martha's buzzing in the next room hit a new pitch and he gave his daughter a look. "I told you to switch off the lights before you went to bed; and now look: You attracted flies."
Martha came into the kitchen. "Buzz." She said to him firmly. "I'm a method actor, that comes with certain... eccentricities."
Castle rolled up the morning newspaper and swatted her with it lightly. She took the hint and retreated.
Alexis' nose twitched. "You're wearing the aftershave I got you."
Castle nodded. "Mm. Never tried this brand before."
"You like it?" She asked, not looking at him.
"Sure." Castle said, covering his nose before it twitched. It was actually fairly cheap for him, but it was a gift from his daughter, so he wore it proudly.
Castle's phone buzzed just then. Martha's buzzing in the next room changed to follow the pitch.
Castle and his daughter gave each other a long suffering look as Castle answered. "Detective Beckett, where are you, and do you have a can of raid?"
Twenty minutes later, Castle was speed-walking after Beckett down toward the Morgue. "We have a victim now?"
"CSU managed to dig out the corpse, which is where our action begins."
He smelled the victim before he got in the room. "Whoo. Who ordered extra crispy?"
Laine heard that as they came in. The body on the table had apparently died in a fire. "Vic's name is Torren Higginson. White male, no record, late twenties. Cause of death blunt force trauma from the explosion." She ticked off the list. "Witnesses say the explosion happened at ten past midnight last night exactly."
"Alexis mentioned there was an explosion, but there was no mention of missing persons." Castle said.
"Squatters don't usually have people to contact police, and it's only been a day..." Beckett waved that off. "CSU get anything else from the crime scene?"
"Just this." Laine said grimly, and pushed over a tray with a white envelope on it.
"The thing is, the envelope wasn't a survivor. It was put there after the blast." Laine said with certainty.
"Deliberately?" Castle blinked. "Before emergency crews got there?"
"Nope." Laine stopped him there. "The envelope wasn't wet or dirty. It was placed there after the emergency crews were done putting the fire out, but before CSU got to the body or finish their review of the damage."
Beckett and Castle traded a look.
"Our bomber snuck into the crime scene and left us a note?"
"I don't know who did it, but it was put where we'd notice it. I haven't opened it, but CSU swear on a stack that it's not rigged." Laine promised. "Also it's way too heavy to just be a note or a letter. There's something in there."
Beckett took the envelope, weighed it up, checked it from all angles, and sliced one end open with one of Laine's scalpels. A smart-phone with a pink protective sleeve slid out into her hand.
"A phone?" Beckett thought aloud. She switched it on. "No ID... nothing in the address book."
"I know what that is!" Castle pounced. "I know what that's for! That's from a London thing."
"London?" Beckett repeated. She didn't like to admit it, but this was usually the part where Castle started spinning his wild theories, and she was always just a little curious.
"Yep. A Study in Pink!" He was running out the door immediately, thrilled. She wasn't sure if he was shouting over his shoulder to her, or just declaring it to the entire Twelfth Precinct at the top of his lungs. "It's Pink! The phone is Pink!"
Beckett looked at Laine. "Was that story over?"
Laine shrugged, and Beckett took off after her partner.
"This is that blog you were telling me about?"
"Mm-Hm." Castle confirmed. "Dr John Watson. Home from Afghanistan, so now he works with his room-mate. A Consulting Detective named Sherlock Holmes."
"I've never heardof a Consulting Detective."
"Neither had I until I read this." Castle nodded. "Look at the post titled 'The Great Game'. Second paragraph."
Beckett did so, and made a quick skim of it. "Reads like our police report. A house wired with explosives, made to look like a gas main explosion... With a box left behind by the bomber."
"Containing a bright pink cell phone." Castle finished.
Beckett skimmed the rest of the blog post. "A mastermind bomber." She looked at Castle with concern. "Scotland Yard ever catch the guy?"
Beckett leaned out to call over to the next desk. "Ryan, Esposito, take a look at this blog and compare it to the police reports. Then have forensics check for detonators. Have them start with British made equipment. I doubt he'd be able to fly them over but-"
"Oh he could do it." Castle interrupted. "This one is the Big Kahuna. The Top Target. The James Bond Villain. This is the Mastermind who runs an unending labyrinth of Byzantine criminal enterprises. He can reach anywhere and get to anything. He can find any secret, steal any prize. He'll kill without mercy and make cities run in fear. He has a private army and unlimited funds, and he does it all because its fun. The Mystery Man. The Untouchable One. The Spider In The Web. Lex Luthor Meets Machiavelli."
His voice had taken on that suave spooky tone that it got when telling a story, and Team Beckett had more or less learned when to tune out the rhetoric.
"Mr X have a name?" Esposito asked once Castle had finished.
Castle grinned. "Oh yes." He confirmed, letting the name roll of his tongue like invoking an ancient demon. "Moriarty."
"What makes you think it's him?" Lestrade demanded, looking at the page of the New York Times. "The paper says it's an accident."
"Third paragraph, second sentence." Sherlock directed him. "A gas leak."
"Granted, it's the same official story we gave over the two bombs he set off here, but that doesn't mean anything. Gas leaks do happen, and they do explode."
"Then why the photo?" Sherlock demanded.
"Sherlock, not everything is that complicated. Newspapers like pictures of explosions and destruction."
Watson stepped in at that point. "Inspector, the two people on the left in that photo, are Richard Castle and Kate Beckett."
"That name sounds familiar." Lestrade said slowly.
Watson pulled a copy of Heat Wave out of his bag and showed it to Lestrade. "Richard Castle the author."
"The woman is Detective Katherine Beckett, 12th Precinct. She's the inspiration for his latest series of books." Sherlock spelled it out. "He's been following her around for four years. Why would a homicide detective be at the scene of an accident?"
"She wouldn't." Lestrade agreed slowly.
"It's the same MO, and it's killed someone."
"So you think this bomber has come to play the same game in New York." Gates guessed. "It could just be someone else who reads this blog."
"Either way, it fits the MO of the explosion like a glove. If it is the same bomber, then there's no doubt information not in the blog that would be an asset." Beckett pointed out. "Any edge would be helpful, if only to see if it is a copycat, and if so, how much do they know about the original?"
Gates considered that and picked up her phone. "Worth a phone call to Scotland Yard, I agree."
"Why would Moriarty repeat his MO?"
Sherlock was staring at Beckett's picture again. "The only reason I can think of is that he might have found another playmate."
Lestrade considered that. "Worth a phone call." He decided finally, and picked up his phone. "Switchboard, I need a phone number for NYPD; 12th Precinct."
"Inspector." The answer came. "We actually have a call waiting for you. I think they said it was the Twelfth Precinct. They wanted to know who handled the Moriarty Bombings case."
Lestrade blinked in surprise.
Sherlock actually smiled.
"I was actually just calling you." Lestrade said to Gates. "You're not imagining the connections. Sherlock Holmes saw them too."
Castle beamed, thrilled. "Ooh. This is gonna be fun."
Gates gave him a look, like he was a bug to be crushed, and he settled.
"If you want to send an agent over here, there's precedent." Gates said. "We can get an edge on a man that's taken lives already."
"Glad to help out the Brotherhood Captain, but you should know, it wasn't anyone from the Yard th-Sherlock!"
Gates frowned. "Inspector?"
"Who's running the investigation?" Another voice broke in over the phone, deeper and impatient.
Beckett leaned forward. "I am. Detective Kate Beckett."
"Ah. You sound exactly the way you look in the papers." He observed. "You found the phone?"
"The pink cell. Yes."
"Has he called yet?"
"He will. I will make an effort to be there before he does, but if he sticks to the same timetable... I might not make it. Record everything he tells you. Who was the phone addressed to?"
"Nobody. Plain envelope."
"Hm. That's... different." Sherlock's voice was disapproving.
"That's not good." Beckett agreed.
"I'm on my way." Sherlock said, and there was a clattering sound. A moment later, someone picked it up.
"Lestrade here. I can get Sherlock Holmes and his... companion a priority flight to New York, but it's your show Detective Beckett. Most cops I know don't approve of outside agitators."
"Heh. You should meet my guy." Beckett couldn't help the way her eyes flicked to Castle.
"Detective... if it is Moriarty, you'll need Sherlock." Lestrade said. "I've spoken to plenty of police officers about working with Sherlock, and I'll tell you what I told them. Listen to what he tells you, and do your best not to punch him in the face."
Beckett's eyes flicked to Castle again. "That's good advice."
Beckett led the way back to the Murder Board. Castle, Ryan and Esposito were all following. "At best, Holmes and Watson won't get here until four. That gives us six hours to find-"
The Pink Phone rang.
Castle and Beckett traded a look. By now the whole team had read the blog, and knew the rules. They gathered around as Beckett answered it, putting it on speaker. "This is Beckett."
"Hello?" Gasped a voice. Female, mature, scared. "I've been kidnapped!"
"Where are you?"
"I don't know. I... The phone is sitting on the table in front of me. I can't reach it. He said I had to describe the situation to you when the phone dialled again."
"Tell us everything you can." Castle called.
"I'm tied to a chair, and... oh god, there's a bomb... The only thing I can reach is... keys."
"I... he gave me ten keys. They're numbered. He said one of them will disarm the bomb... and all the others will set it off. He said, you've got to tell me the magic number. It's ticking..."
"Can you see the Timer?" Beckett called.
"Yes. Six hours, twenty one minutes... Hurry! Tell me which key!"
Click. The line disconnected.
"He's controlling the phone. The bomber." Ryan said. "He called her to tell her the rules, and then made the phone dial here to tell us."
"He's letting the hostage speak for themselves." Castle observed. "That's new."
"That's two differences." Beckett agreed. "Either this Moriarty guy is mixing it up, or our bomber is a copycat."
The phone beeped, and they all got closer to get a look at the image that appeared on screen. It was a man's wallet. There was a gold embossed insignia on it, and it was sitting on a telephone exchange.
"Alright." Castle said to those assembled. "Six hours and twenty minutes. Go."
Another half hour and they had found the scene in the photo.
"Telephone exchange. It hasn't been touched, hasn't been sabotaged, but the numbers on the side was enough to get a location out of Ma Bell." Esposito reported. "The site hasn't been touched."
Beckett walked up from the curb. Since getting the call she had been marching everywhere. "The wallet?"
"Right where it was in the picture. No money in it at all. Only a credit card, and one receipt."
"You run it?"
"Yep. Belongs to Micheal Klass." Ryan reported. "The card is used every Tuesday to pay for a room at the Carlton Hotel. That's what the receipt is for, plus miscellaneous snacks."
"Carlton? Ritzy." Castle observed. "Every Tuesday?"
"Yep. The woman behind the desk says it's a standing appointment; he has the room reserved every week." Ryan confirmed. "But this week he didn't show up."
"Well. Let's go give Mr Micheal Klass his credit card back." Beckett said calmly. "You dusted it for prints?"
"Yes. Found a nice clean set of prints, but they were small. Kid sized. No match."
Micheal Klass and family lived in a ritzy New York Apartment. Security building, plenty of money behind it. Beckett flashed her badge to get them past the lobby. Castle was tapping away at his phone.
"Updating Holmes?" Beckett guessed.
"Yup." Castle nodded. "Gotta say, I'm really looking forward to meeting this guy."
"Well, keep a hat on it for a while Castle. His plane won't land till four. At best, he'll get there just in time to hear the hostage blow up if we can't crack this." Beckett said tightly.
The elevator stopped and they made their way to the apartment.
"Apartment 101." Castle read. "Not the Magic Number."
Beckett knocked. The door opened quickly, revealing a woman with puffy eyes and designer clothes. She looked borderline wrung out. "Yes?"
Beckett lifted her badge. "Detective Kate Be-"
"Oh thank god you're here." The woman gasped. "Our son Joey has been kidnapped."
"How long has he been missing?"
"Two days." Helen corrected.
"No, only one day." Micheal insisted, and Beckett got the sense that this was an old argument. "He's a very capable kid. He's taken cabs before, he knows how to charge them."
Castle, a father himself, wasn't convinced. "Has he done this before?"
"Yes, but he's only ever gone to places he knows." Helen insisted. "We've been calling his friends, his classmates, the school..."
Beckett put the wallet on the table. Micheal's eyes flashed when he saw it, but he didn't reach for it. "That's... not mine."
"The only thing in it is a credit card with your name on it." Beckett said, watching his reactions. He was lying.
"There must be more than one Micheal Klass in a city this size." He said, pulling out his own wallet. It had everything in it. "See?"
Beckett and Castle traded a bleak look. Back to square one.
"What does any of this have to do with our son?!" Helen demanded.
"Have there been any new people in your life lately?" Castle asked. "Anyone who might have noticed Joey?"
Helen sent a glare at Micheal.
Beckett pointed swiftly at her. "That's a yes."
"It's not relevant." Micheal said quietly.
"We don't know what's relevant yet." Beckett said firmly.
"The reason Joey has taken off in cabs before is... is because of him." Helen snapped, pointing accusingly at her husband.
"Because of us." Micheal snapped back with equal venom. "He's been going because... we've been fighting lately. He goes to stay with a friend, is back by morning. We called the police the first time, but he was back before they even arrived. After a few times like that... You don't call as fast as you should. But it's never been this long."
"Either way..." Helen said bitingly, still pointing at her husband. "The only new person in our lives, is his little tart, whoever the hell she is."
Beckett and Castle turned pointedly to Micheal, who sighed and looked down. "Fine. Yes, I've... I been having an affair for a while now."
"I've been trying to find out where and who, but he won't tell me." Helen spat. "He's been careful."
"When did you find out?" Castle asked Helen.
"Three weeks ago. From Joey, of all people. Our son knew before I did." Helen growled. "I don't know how, but Joey found out where he was taking his little tramp. That's how I found out." She looked at Castle. "You have kids?"
"A daughter who stayed with me, and an ex-wife who cheated." Castle commiserated.
"Imagine your kid knowing about the affair before you do, and asking you about it." Helen said; suddenly seeming more wretched than she was.
"A very special hell." Castle agreed.
"Look..." Micheal said finally. "I admit I'm not a saint, but I really don't see how this is connected."
"But someone is taking the trouble to disrupt your life and family in a huge way, and we're looking for reasons why." Beckett said professionally. "So I'm going to need contact details for your girlfriend."
Helen looked at Micheal expectantly. "And I, for one, would like to know that too."
Micheal looked trapped. "Um..."
Castle grinned. "There's more than one, isn't there?"
Beckett took it in stride. "Fine. We'll need to talk to both of them, and minutes count."
Micheal bit his lip.
Beckett rolled her eyes. "Fine. All three of them."
Micheal was silent.
"How many are there?" Helen demanded incredulously.
"How many?" Gates repeated in jaded shock.
"Eleven. Plus his wife." Beckett said, looking embarrassed just to report it.
"Only ten keys, so we know that's not the magic number." Castle put in.
"But we stopped by Joey's room on our way out and collected some fingerprints. They were a match to the ones we found on the wallet."
"I thought he said it wasn't his."
"He lied to us." Beckett said simply. "The gold insignia on the wallet we found his Micheal Klass' company logo. He kept the second wallet at his office, and had the bills sent there. A second card so that his wife couldn't check the credit cards for proof of infidelity."
"So Joey got the wallet. That's probably how he found out about his father's affair." Gates nodded. "So, is the Bomber getting you to jump through hoops because of the kid, or because of the women?"
"That's the big question." Beckett agreed. "We're still tracking down the..." She paused to search for the right word. "The group of women. But I doubt it'll lead us anywhere."
"This is never going to work." Beckett said as soon as she saw the list. "It's misdirection. He wants us chasing the women, chasing the father, till we run out the clock."
"I agree, but I can't see what we're being directed away from." Castle said. "The story is the same with each girlfriend. They meet, he charms them, tells them he travels a lot, calls them when he has a day in New York. All of them on Tuesdays." He bit his lip. "What about Joey?"
"I placed a call to the FBI. But by the time they get here..." Beckett growled, her hands closing around the edge of her desk. "Twenty minutes left."
Sherlock and Watson came off the plane and found Esposito waiting for them. "Sherlock Holmes?"
"You're from the Twelfth?" Sherlock asked without breaking stride.
"Detective Javier Esposito. How much do you know?" Esposito asked him, falling into step as they marched for the doors.
"Mister Castle's been texting me details as they came up, but when we reached US Airspace, my phone stopped working suddenly. I don't have an international plan on my phone." Sherlock reported. "I need data."
"We figure the missing boy found out about his father's affairs by the receipts in the wallet. The receipt and the card were the only things in it, so we figure it was kept at his office."
"The office number?" Watson guessed.
"Office 182, Level fifteen. Not our magic numbers." Esposito said as they hurried. "I've got a car waiting outside. What about your bags?"
"I don't have any." Sherlock said plainly.
Watson held up his backpack as evidence. "No time to stop at baggage claim anyway. We've only got fifteen minutes left."
Back at the bullpen, and audience was gathering. The particulars of the case had been discussed; more than a few of New York's Finest taking a look at Watson's blog. Beckett had taken advantage; putting as many minds against it as she could. "All right." Beckett called to the room. "Ten minutes, go around the room. Magic numbers, what have we got?"
"Number Three. Three members of the family."
"How old is Joey?"
"Twelve." Castle shook his head. "And it's not eleven either. Keys only go up to ten."
"Two. He meets his girlfriends every Tuesday."
Beckett bit her lip. "Anyone willing to bet a hostage's life on their choice?"
Esposito was leaning on the horn, the siren was blaring, and New York traffic was being as cooperative as it could be, which wasn't much.
Watson was hanging onto the door handle for grim life. "Bloody hell."
"They drive on the right here John, calm down." Sherlock said, unflappable. He was looking at the photos of the wallet, seemingly unaware that the car was screaming around corners.
"Three minutes left."
"Detective Esposito, I need a phone." Sherlock said coolly.
The Pink Phone Rang. Beckett answered it. "Beckett."
"HELLO?!" The hostage screamed in near panic. "The... the phone just switched on and called you, there's less than a minute on the clock! Which key?! Which key do I try?!"
"Try any key!" Castle shouted. "What have you got to lose?!"
A tall man with hawk-like features and piercing blue eyes strode into the Precinct, marched to Beckett; his dark blue overcoat and scarf trailing behind him a little as he marched. His long stride getting him there in seconds, and he took the phone off Beckett. "The seventh key." He said clearly into the phone.
"It... It worked." The woman gasped into the phone. "I turned the key, it didn't go off. The timer switched off."
Sherlock handed the phone back to Beckett. "Trace the call. Go find her."
Beckett handed the phone to Ryan without a word and took off after Sherlock. He had marched to the murder board and was staring at it. "How did you know it was the seventh key?"
"The child wasn't kidnapped. The charges on the father's credit card were the clue. He wants to hide an affair from his wife, so if he pays for the hotel by credit card, it can't be one she knows about. A second credit card, in his name only, that goes to his business address, same place he got the wallet."
"He takes his mistresses to the hotel." Castle agreed. "They all said he met them on Tuesdays, so he had a standing booking. Every Tuesday night."
"He tells his wife he's staying at the office, but he's not, he's going to the hotel and staying there. She's trying to prove the affair, but she can't find evidence. She can check a credit card she knows about, but not one he keeps hidden from her. The card that he booked the hotel room with. That was the one you found in the wallet. It wasn't staged, Klass never put anything in it, except for a second credit card. What were the last charges, and when?"
Ryan checked the financial records. "Two days ago. A room at the hotel. A box of fruit loops, box of doughnuts, microwave pizzas..."
"Hardly the diet of a man trying to keep a wife and eleven mistresses happy." Sherlock summed up.
Beckett almost laughed, the mystery coming clear in her mind. "But exactly the sort of diet that a twelve year old boy who ran away from home might try." She finished. "The kid wasn't snatched, he ran away because his parents were fighting, and he went to the place he knew was safe. A hotel that he knew his father went to all the time."
"The receipt in that wallet was marked for two days ago, when Joey went missing. The wallet you were led to wasn't a plant. It was just kept for a specific purpose. Joey found it, and booked himself a room away from home, and some provisions for his stay. His father wasn't meeting any of his mistresses, so he didn't notice it was gone." Sherlock nodded, holding up a phone. "The Clerk at the Carlton Hotel says the room booked was room seven, but she didn't mention it because Klass didn't show this week. If you send a patrol car over there, I am certain you'll find a twelve year old boy having a sugar rush."
"Location of the missing child." Castle nodded. "Magic number." Castle came forward quickly. "Sherlock Holmes. I'm Richard Castle. I'm a huge fan of your blog."
"His blog." Sherlock corrected instantly, tilting his head at Watson. "I never read it myself."
"You're not wearing the hat." Castle said, disappointed.
Sherlock turned to stone and Watson quickly stepped between them. "Yeah. Don't mention the hat. Dr John Watson, I'm a big fan too."
"Oh good, everyone's saying hello." Sherlock muttered under his breath, not liking it.
Ryan put a hand out. "That was pretty good work."
Sherlock left it hanging in the air. "Yes."
The tension spiked a little. Holmes wasn't the first civilian to put himself into the middle of their Precinct and make a nuisance of himself, but Castle had worked to make friends and put people at ease. Sherlock was the Anti-Castle.
"Here's what I don't get." Esposito said. "What exactly is a Consulting Detective?"
"Me." Sherlock said instantly. "I'm the only one, so I'm the only example I can give you."
Beckett put herself between them, mindful of the tension growing. "What Detective Esposito means is... To become official Detectives you need training and approval from the city, to be a Private Investigator you need a license... What qualifies you?"
"Intelligence, Observation, and Deductive Reasoning." Sherlock said.
Ryan blinked. "Well... We sort of have that already. I mean, it's what we do."
Sherlock raised a single eyebrow. "Really, Detective Kevin Ryan..."
Watson tensed. "Oh god, here we go."
"Your wife isn't leaving you, so you can relax."
"Wha-a-a-at?" Ryan blurted.
"You're wearing new shoes that are slightly uncomfortable but made from more expensive leather than your partner's." Sherlock began. "A cop can't really afford it, and eight out of ten men don't care, so you bought new clothes to appeal to a woman. At the same time you placed your order for the office lunch run, which gave me a look at your wallet. You ordered a salad, while everyone in the place, women included are eating some kind of meat or fast food. You've suddenly decided that you need to improve your appearance. The only reason a married man does that is to impress a mistress or to keep his wife happy. Receipt stub next to the credit card in your wallet suggests an early purchase this morning of delivered flowers, and no cop could possibly be stupid enough to charge flowers to his credit card if they're going to a mistress. Your wedding photo is your screensaver, so you two have a deep loving connection; ergo, you aren't worried that she's cheating, only that she's losing interest. Your friends will no doubt tell you that's normal in a marriage at the six or seven month mark."
"How did you know we've been married seven months?" Ryan asked, interested now that the relief was setting in.
"Seemed about right. Put you between 'the honeymoon is over' and 'the routine has settled comfortably'." Sherlock finished.
"That was cool." Esposito grinned.
"That is so going in a book." Castle asked, thoroughly enjoying himself. "How do you do that?"
Sherlock glanced at Castle. "Roughly the same way I know your daughter is keeping her new boyfriend a secret from you, but she keeps telling him that you approve of their relationship."
Beckett sent a quick glance at Castle, who had shifted from 'having fun' to 'paranoid papa' in a heartbeat. "Explain." Castle demanded violently.
Sherlock waved to Castle's jacket, hanging up next to the break room door on Sherlock's left. "Your jacket still has traces of the aftershave you wore yesterday. Today's is freshly applied this morning, but it's not the same type. It's a lower quality brand than the one you were wearing yesterday, which means it was cheaper. You don't have to worry about price, so you didn't buy it. Your mother was probably the first one to suggest you wear aftershave, and if she's ever had a serious relationship, she would know her brands; so it has to come from your daughter. Your daughter grew up around you, so she's comfortable with spending money, but rarely buys fashion or grooming products for men, so she wouldn't know the difference. The boy in question is trying to win points with his girlfriend's father, so he's sending gifts along. She's worried you won't approve of him, so she's not telling you where the gift came from. Your daughter hasn't told you the source, so she's hiding him. If she's telling you she got the aftershave herself then she's also telling her boyfriend that you're using his gift. You are using it, so she's not lying to him, but you haven't asked, so she's not lying to you. There are only two reasons a girl does that, to protect the guy, or to protect herself. You wouldn't buy cheap aftershave, but your daughter's boyfriend does, which suggests that he's not from money himself, a point that might be of concern given that he's attending an Ivy league college." Sherlock paused. "You might want to keep an eye on that given that Alexis knows you hang around cops all day."
"Excuse me, I have to go home for a bit." Castle said and stalked out without another word.
Beckett turned to Ryan. "The wallet was left at an electrical transformer. Any chance there was a camera nearby?"
"If its Moriarty, that won't help." Sherlock told her. "London has more security cameras than any place in the world, didn't even slow him down."
"And if it's not Moriarty, it could be a lead." Beckett said without blinking.
"Bingo." Esposito said. "We found a traffic cam that had a partial view of the Transformer. We ran the tape, a car pulled in alongside. A man got out of the car, set the wallet down right where we found it, and drove off. We got the license plate; it's a company car registered to Connorel Systems."
"The same company where Klass works." Beckett observed.
Esposito's eyes narrowed, just slightly. "That suggests an inside job."
"Or that Moriarty had someone take a car from somewhere convenient." Sherlock countered. "If he kept that wallet at the office..." He paused. "Let's go."
"What are you thinking?"
"You couldn't possibly keep up with what I'm thinking." Sherlock waved her off.
"You're thinking that if the car wasn't stolen, then someone at Connorel Systems was working for our bomber." Beckett challenged. "You're thinking that the wallet would have to be taken away from Klass on a Tuesday, because the only time it leaves his office desk is when he takes it to the Hotel, so how did it get from him, to his nine year old kid, to that Transformer where we found it before Michael Klass noticed it was missing?"
Sherlock glanced over, seeming to be aware of Beckett for the first time. "Hmm. You're not bad." He conceded.
Beckett took the barely recognizable compliment with a nod, and turned to Ryan. "Find out what else Mr Klass was doing on Tuesday." She said, and looked around. "Where's Castle?"
"Not back yet."
She sighed and turned to Sherlock and Watson. "Let's go."
They pulled in at Connerell Systems, and were issued a pass to park in the company parking level. A quick elevator ride took them upstairs. Beckett flashed her badge, and got them into the Personnel office.
"We were all glad to hear that Joey was safe." The personnel manager said. "If there's anything you need, anything at all we can do to help..."
Beckett pulled out the surveillance photo of the car. "We need to get a look at your company vehicles."
"Certainly, they're all down on the parking level." The manager said instantly. "I'll get you a list of people that have made use of them."
They all loaded back into the elevators, heading back to the parking level. Five company cars lined up, one of them being washed. The car washer looked up at Beckett, and nodded respectfully, putting his cleaning supplies away. Beckett stared at him a moment. Their eyes met.
The car washer tossed the sponge aside and bolted in the opposite direction. Beckett drew her gun and took off before any of the men realized what was happening.
"NYPD! I WILL SHOOT!" Beckett roared, running after him.
"Americans." Watson commented under his breath. "Like it's a bloody Wild West Show."
The car washer was at a dead run, heading for the ramp. Sherlock and Watson took the stairs; effectively beating him to the next level.
Their quarry was fast on his feet; but Beckett was almost keeping up with him in spike heels.
The kid they were chasing hesitated barely, as Watson was the first one out the stairwell door. in three long stride; Watson had managed to crash tackle the fleeing suspect; bringing him down hard.
"Wild West show indeed." Sherlock observed.
"How did you know he was the one we were looking for?" Sherlock asked Beckett.
"He was washing the car."
"I saw him."
"They don't wash cars on parking levels. He was trying to dodge us." Beckett explained. "Is Castle back yet?"
"No." Sherlock lied. "Need a partner for interrogation?"
"I can handle it myself."
"Of course." Sherlock said reasonably, following her in anyway. "That was my fault for phrasing the point as a question."
They came into the interrogation room.
"Am I allowed to smoke in here?" The kid asked, twiddling the pack between his fingers.
"Yes." Sherlock said instantly.
"No." Beckett said in the same breath.
Watson was searching the break room when Castle showed up, looking haggard. "Hey." Watson nodded a greeting. "Everything okay with your daughter?"
"She wasn't home. Probably out getting her boyfriend's name tattooed somewhere I won't see it." Castle growled.
Watson smirked. "I've been a Doctor, a soldier, a student... One thing you can be sure of with teenagers is that you can't tell them anything."
"Not my daughter." Castle rubbed his eyes. "Alexis is a hell of a lot more mature and reasonable than I am. I've never had to worry about anything before when it comes to her."
"Then what are you worried about now?"
"I don't know." Castle admitted with a self-deprecating laugh. "I really don't know. But Sherlock gave that whole speech and I suddenly... I don't know. I was pacing around my apartment waiting for her to get back so I could hit her with the whole chain of evidence, and suddenly it hit me that I was going to make a complete fool of myself. Again."
Watson nodded, unsurprised. "You've been Sherlocked." He said simply. "He did it to me the moment we met, and I've been in the same headspace for the better part of a year now. You get put in a room with that much brilliance and you just keep watching, want to see what he tosses out next. It's addictive, the pace his brain works at. Working with him has cost me three girlfriends and two jobs so far. Half of Scotland Yard wants him taken out and shot, the other half wants to call him up for every case down to speeding tickets, just to see him reconstruct it; and today it made you go chasing after your daughter to challenge his brain; and see if he was right."
"You're right. I've been Sherlocked." Castle nodded helplessly.
Watson held up a coffee cup awkwardly. "Where in America can I get a cup of tea?"
Esposito looked up as Castle came out of the Break Room with Watson. "Hey. You missed the fun."
"Watson caught me up on most of it." Castle nodded. "Holmes is in with Beckett, huh?"
"He didn't waste any time." Esposito nodded sagely, more to needle Castle than anything else.
Watson snorted. "I think you're pretty safe."
Castle turned back to Esposito. "You get anywhere with the hostage?"
"No, she doesn't know anything. Left work one night, got knocked over the head, woke up in a room without windows."
Watson nodded. "She won't be able to give you anything."
Ryan came over, as he always did, at exactly the right moment. "I wouldn't be so sure of that. She was taken on her way out from work at a cafe, less than half a block from Connorell Systems."
"A hostage of convenience." Castle declared. "This whole Gambit was set up in a hurry. Here's the solution, here's the hostage... He took them as he found them." He seemed disappointed. "Does this sound like a James Bond mastermind plot to you?"
"He doesn't know anything." Beckett said as soon as they came out of the interrogation room.
"Agreed. Our killer is from Scotland Yard." Sherlock said as soon as he shut the door behind him. "It's got nothing to do with Moriarty."
"How do you know?"
"Because, the method he's using to detonate or disarm the bombs relies on the person wearing it, the original was set off by a sniper. Also, he's using locals, and paying them off. Moriarty would have his own team, also he's not using his hostages to communicate, nor is he using any other method." Sherlock explained.
Watson understood instantly. "The Great Game was Moriarty's challenge for Sherlock specifically. If he was behind this, he would have expected us to be here, or at least have a new player in mind."
"And it's not an obsessive; the envelope was wrong; the method has changed. If it was an obsessed fan doing this; they'd have the details right. This is someone who was... inspired." Sherlock said. "Our bomber wants to play Great Mastermind, but knows he's not as smart as the man he's emulating, so he avoided London, and me."
"That's why he's doing this in New York." Beckett agreed. "Nobody knows about the details of the mad bomber game here."
"So, who has full knowledge of the details of Moriarty's game, plus crime solving and bomb making skills, but is without a private army of accomplices that set off a bomb, but wasn't involved in the original himself?"
"One of the lawmen who got hold of the report." Beckett nodded. "Ryan, Esposito, track down every badge that flew in from London in the last six months."
"Eight months." Sherlock corrected. "From when the last Game ended."
The Pink Phone rang. Beckett answered it. "Whoever you are, you're talking to the police. Be calm, and tell us what you know."
Sherlock nodded approvingly. She took control of the situation before the other end of the phone line could get a word out. The ring of authority took command, and the voice on the other end responded to it. "I... My name is Carpenter. I was... I think I was kidnapped. There's a clock counting down. The... the phone is on speaker, and it just switched on. There was a voice on the other end, but it was, Darth Vader like, y'know? Scrawled, like going through a machine."
"I understand. Do you know where you are?"
"No. The clock has a keyhole... The clock says I've got three hours and two minutes." The man whispered.
Watson set his watch as Castle and Beckett traded a horrified look. Three hours wasn't even close to enough time.
"He says the rules are the same." Carpenter continued. "Which key do I choose?"
"How many keys are there?" Castle called.
"Twelve. Which one do I use?"
The line disconnected.
"Three hours." Castle said. "How on earth do we-"
The Pink Phone beeped, and an image came up on screen. It looked like a vacant lot, with a car in the background. "Are we hunting the lot or the car?" Ryan asked.
"Do you recognize the lot?" Sherlock asked.
"Then we're hunting the car." Sherlock said dispassionately.
"I'll have CSU run the image, get us a license plate." Beckett said, handing the phone to Esposito. "Holmes, why only three hours this time? That's not the pattern. A few hours yes, but that long?"
"He's changing the rules. Moriarty wouldn't change the rules mid-game." Sherlock said. "Detective, we should strongly consider the possibility that this is a copycat."
"Is that good for us, or bad for us?" Castle asked.
Ryan whistled from the phone. "CSU's got the plate."
"Put out an APB for it. We need that car ASAP; we've only got three hours."
The search continued for over an hour. Then an hour and a half and Beckett was pacing. Sherlock had turned to stone, fingers steepled in front of him. John yawned.
"Am I boring you?" Castle said, nonplussed.
"Sorry, still on London time." Watson waved it off.
"What about him?" Castle jerked a thumb at Sherlock. "Doesn't he ever sleep?"
"Not without being drugged. Come to think of it, I've only seen him eat once too."
"Castle, can I ask you something?" Watson asked quietly.
"Why haven't you told Beckett about the new lead in her mother's case?"
Castle dropped his notepad. It clattered to the floor and he scrambled to pick it up. "What?" He hissed, checking to see if anyone else, namely Beckett, had overheard.
Watson jerked a thumb over his shoulder at Sherlock. "Six months ago, there was a society case, and it made the papers. He reads newspapers from all over the world, and found a picture of you and Beckett. He did what he does and figured out about her mom, the cold case, and the fact that you know something. He did it all in three seconds. Is he right?"
Castle looked over his shoulder. "Everyone involved in what happened to Joanna Beckett is dead. She's obsessed. I've seen her when someone picks at that scar. I did it once, and it was a disaster. She's going to kill herself if she keeps hunting, and... I don't want her to die."
Watson sighed. "I can relate to that. You think its bad working with an obsessive, try living with one. I've been following him around for a year trying to keep him from going off the rails, I've been in combat before that... Some people can go on a crusade, declare victory and move on. Others look for something new. A compulsion like that will destroy Sherlock sooner or later. May Beckett have better luck."
"Amen to that." Castle said quietly. "I hope... I hope that one day, Beckett will let me help her the way you help him."
Watson felt his eyes bulge. "Sherlock and I are not a couple."
Castle leaned back. "Ah. Right. Neither are me and Beckett."
"...oh COME ON!" Watson yelled in frustration. "Does nobody... I mean... Do I, or for that matter, Sherlock, really seem gay to you?"
"Well, Sherlock didn't so much as check Beckett out when she bent over to write on the murder board. And you... well..." Castle shrugged. "You're British. You all seem gay to me."
Ryan suddenly jumped up, phone at his ear. "We got the car!"
The lot was overgrown, with bare grass. The angle of the photo had made the buildings impossible to see, showing instead the car parked at the edge of the lot.
"Car belongs to Nanette Blake, 32, mother of three. She lives right here." Ryan pointed of his shoulder toward the nearest buildings. "She's just slightly freaked out that there are a bunch of cops taking notice of her car."
"Any indications of why he would send us here?" Sherlock demanded.
"She has half a gram of weed in her glove box, other than that, zip."
"OVER HERE!" Esposito yelled. Not at the car, but over at the middle of the overgrown lot. They couldn't really see what was at his feet through the huge weeds and long grass patches, but they could hear the flies. There wasn't a cop alive that didn't recognize the signs.
Sure enough, they found a body soon after.
"I'll call Laine." Ryan said immediately.
"No time." Sherlock said, crouching next to the body. "Mr Castle, I have need of your phone."
Castle handed his Smartphone over. "You don't have an international plan?"
"Everything on this side of the Atlantic seemed too dull to bother with." Sherlock responded absently, his thumbs flying over the screen.
"Fifty-five minutes to go." Watson reported, crouching next to the body. "I'd say he's been dead for at least four days, based on decomposition. What's left says white male, mid fifties, I'd say... grey hair, very short or mostly gone."
"Call Dispatch, have them track down missing persons reports." Beckett ordered.
"His clothes say money." Castle observed. "No wallet, but his watch is still there, it wasn't a mugging gone bad."
"Our magic number for the hostage is Three, and Detective, you might want to inform your Captain that you're about to arrest one of the more powerful Wall Street players for Murder One." Sherlock reported absently. The man turned on his heel, already marching back toward his car. He tossed the phone over his shoulder, and Castle fumbled twice, trying to catch it.
Beckett's jaw was hanging open. Castle put his phone away and turned to Watson, who didn't seem at all surprised. "This is what he does for fun, isn't it? Not solving the mystery, but making us chase him, begging for details."
"Yup." Watson said without hesitation. "You get used to it."
Beckett took off after Holmes. "So, you want to clue us in?"
"You were looking in the wrong place. A man of wealth going missing would be front page news, in which case your society friend here would have known who he was instantly, even if half a dozen of New York's Finest, and I use the word loosely, could not." Sherlock explained. "You needed to look for someone leaving the city unexpectedly. His clothing was custom made, but his belt was more than three holes tighter than the wear on the leather would suggest was normal. He lost a great deal of weight recently, so I did a search for powerful people who were ill and found a news story about a Wall Street Billionaire rumored to have cancer. His name is David Doyle. He was the CEO of a highly successful brokerage firm, with one chief competitor, called Three Solutions."
"There's our magic number, but how do you know that's it?" Castle asked.
"The reports of David Doyle having cancer were false. According to his Wikipedia biography, he remarried eight months ago to a woman more than fifteen years his junior. An interview with Vanity Fair Magazine showed a picture of them together in their home; surrounded by exercise equipment. He got married to a woman that was too good looking for him and he decided very suddenly to get in shape. His sudden weight loss was noticed, and an article in the Wall Street Journal reported he was sick. He denied it, but the market didn't believe him, and his company stock went into freefall."
Beckett nodded, not showing how impressed she was. "You think the rumor was started deliberately to sink his company."
"The stock was all bought by their chief competitor, Three Solutions. Their Media Relations Agent is Mickey Durhnam. His brother is..."
"Let me guess. A reporter with the Wall Street Journal." Beckett guessed.
"The same one that started the cancer rumors."
"The last news story mentioning our Victim is that he was leaving the city four days ago to go to Zurich for treatment." Castle said, looking at his phone, and he quickly plotted out the story. "So, David Doyle knows that he's being rooked into bankruptcy via slander, so he has to prove he's healthy. My guess is he knows who's telling lies about his health, and for whatever reason he doesn't trust local doctors. He goes outside the city to find a totally objective doctor, finds out there are great cancer clinics in Zurich. If he's scared of something here, he's got no problem going internationally. But before he can get on the plane... Somebody stops him. The company goes bankrupt, and as far as everyone's concerned, a terminally ill man went to a far away clinic and never checked out."
Becket twitched. "Which means... His family might not know he's missing, let alone the fact that he died."
Sherlock was already back at the car. "Who cares? We've got the Magic Number. The correct key to the bomb is the killer. The Company name."
"'Who cares'?" Beckett repeated dangerously. It was a tone that the entire Twelfth recognized.
Watson noted the sudden promise of unspeakable doom and put himself between her and Sherlock, used to this by now. "Detective, why don't you leave the Pink Phone with us? We can give the hostage instructions when it rings again, and it'll be a while before the next puzzle comes. Long enough for you to inform the Next of Kin."
Beckett was still glaring at Sherlock. Sherlock actually seemed surprised by the scrutiny. "Bad?" He asked Watson.
"Bad." Watson confirmed.
Castle and Beckett were driving in silence for a while, before Castle finally spoke. "So, what do you think of him now?"
"Sherlock Holmes?" Beckett gave her answer some thought. "I think if he wasn't so brilliant, there would be very little reason not to have him shot."
Castle nodded, pleased with that.
"How about you?" Beckett asked finally. "You were nearly doing cartwheels when you heard he was getting on a plane. Now that you've met him?"
"He'd make a great Anti-hero if he beat people up. He'd make a great superhero if he showed emotion of any kind... He'd make a great character on a book, as long as you don't expect him to be likeable."
"You gonna put him in your books?" Beckett asked casually. It was the standard rule of thumb to see what Castle thought of someone.
"From what I've seen, he'd solve the mysteries too fast for a novel." Castle waved it off. "I could see Sherlock Holmes as the star of some short stories though."
The Pink Phone Rang. Sherlock answered it. Hello?"
"There's less than a minute left on the clock!" The hostage yelled. "What do I do?"
"The third key." Sherlock declared into the phone. Half the Precinct was gathered around the phone in his hand with their fingers crossed. Sherlock sat down at the computer, apparently with other things on his mind.
"It... The timer stopped."
The Precinct relaxed, letting out a combined breath in relief. Sherlock handed the phone to Watson. "Let me know when it rings again."
Watson handed it to Ryan. "What Sherlock meant to say was, track the call and you should be able to find your hostage, and see to their safety."
Ryan took the phone and gave Sherlock a hooded look as he went to do so.
Watson took the opportunity to lean in close to Sherlock. "Listen, Lestrade is used to your particular brand of... concern, but these guys aren't. You said yourself Beckett lost her mother to a homicide. Do yourself a favor and at least pretend to give a damn about the people you're trying to save."
"You mean like they do?" Sherlock drawled, not turning around as he pointed off to the far left.
Watson looked and noticed money changing hands between several people.
"That doesn't count. Cops bet on everything." Watson shook that off. "What are you doing?"
"Testing a theory." Sherlock logged into his own website, and left a quick message on his own forum.
Is it you doing this? Because if it is, you're doing badly.
There was no answer.
Castle and Beckett returned to the Twelfth, and there had been no response on the website, nor any further communications from the Bomber.
Sherlock began mapping it out on the murder board. "Two cases so far, both involving money, both recent cases, hostages of convenience..."
Beckett joined him, staring at the details on the murder board. "Different parts of the city, untraceable explosives... You're right, this isn't Moriarty, so there has to be another connection between these victims..." She picked up a marker, and started scribbling notes. Sherlock cast around for a moment, and found another marker, quickly doing the same.
Watson yawned again.
"You know what?" Castle said suddenly. "You guys haven't hand a chance to sit down since this started, plus the time difference. You must be wiped."
Sherlock barely looked at him, but there was unspoken electricity in the hawk-like gaze.
"Well, okay." Castle conceded. "Dr Watson looks wiped, you don't seem to need sleep."
Sherlock nodded, authority restored, and went back to the whiteboard. Beckett was shoulder to shoulder with him, scribbling her own notes, mapping out details and drawing connections between them.
"We solved the latest gambit, so there'll probably be a good few hours before the Pink Phone rings again, you might want to take advantage, get some sleep, or at least a break." Castle suggested. "The Old Haunt is a great place, I'm buying."
Sherlock didn't respond, scribbling away on the board.
Beckett waved it off over her shoulder, still scribbling away with him. They seemed of one mind on what to do with their time. An easy alliance of intention that made Castle slightly uneasy.
Castle and Watson sighed in identical long-suffering unison, and by unspoken agreement, they left the two Detectives to it.
Several minutes passed without either of them being aware of it, and Sherlock spoke without looking at her. "I suppose we can't tell them to stay, just in case we need someone to pass a pen or something."
"Castle's not a cop." Beckett said without looking at him. "I can't make him stay at all. Clearing his head is fine. Better than going out to play laser-tag with his kid, anyway."
Sherlock didn't even respond to that.
"Who the hell does he think he is?"
"The problem, Mr Castle-"
Watson nodded, having had this conversation many times before. "The problem Rick, is that Sherlock Holmes thinks he's Sherlock Holmes. It's kind of hard to argue with." Watson looked around The Old Haunt, liking what he saw,
Castle snorted and led the way over to the bar. The bartender waved back and had two beers waiting by the time they got there.
"You're well known here." Watson surmised.
"I own the place." Castle shrugged. "Your tab's on me tonight."
Watson toasted. "Thanks." He sipped and hissed. "Ooh, cold."
The bartender blinked at him. Castle waved it off. "He's British."
Watson took another sip, unfazed by the comment. "So."
Castle nodded. "So. You wanted to talk about something."
"Sherlock gets obsessed. Sometimes you just have to be in the room to help him think out loud, sometimes you have to make sure he'll eat, because..."
"Because they have tunnel vision to the point where nothing else in the world exists. They don't look, they hunt, and they don't care if they get killed as long as they get the last word."
Watson toasted. "You too huh?"
"Beckett... has a phenomenal ability to disregard everything that doesn't involve protecting the innocent. She's been on the other side, see."
"Sherlock has the same blinders on, but for him, it's about beating the bad guy. Protect the innocent meets capture the guilty." Watson took a long sip. "Your guys don't like us, do they?"
"Ryan and Esposito? I don't know if they don't like you but... They take their cue from Beckett. Always have. The guys are all about loyalty to Kate. And she doesn't have a lot of patience for people without compassion for the victims."
Watson took it in stride. "I said as much to Sherlock before. I don't think he cares."
"Doesn't get it, doesn't care. Lucky bastard."
Castle tapped the bar and had another round in front of them instantly. He picked up his drink and led the way over to a booth. "Roy Montgomery, was the last Captain at the 12th, said that Homicide Detectives were Speakers for the Dead. He was killed in the line about a year ago."
"The Captain was out doing field work?"
"Well, I shouldn't be telling you this, but... Montgomery was helping Beckett with her mother's case."
"He got in too deep?"
"And then some."
Watson leaned forward. They were finally getting to the point of their earlier conversation. "If it pulled the Captain out of his office in the middle of the night, it means Beckett meant a lot to him... or he was in it deeper than he should have been."
Castle leaned forward, speaking confidentially. "If you're looking for a mystery there, go talk to her. I'm not gonna give you anything."
"Not even if Sherlock could help?" Watson probed. "You've seen him in action, and it's obvious how devoted you are to her. You have to be thinking about it."
Castle glanced around. "Roy's murder was because of something that happened a long time ago. I won't tell you any more than that, but... Roy said that the bad guy took a lot of money and used it to become what he is today. How he was connected to that money I won't tell you, except to say that Roy considered it his worst sin."
Watson stared at him, perturbed. "Moriarty. You think the Mastermind behind Johanna Beckett's murder was Moriarty."
"I'm not talking about this with you any more." Castle said suddenly. "I pulled her off target once because she was going to get herself killed. That hasn't changed. If Moriarty was involved with the murder of Beckett's mom, it doesn't make it better, it makes it worse. You've never seen Beckett obsessed; I have. She gets as bad as he is, only she has a gun. If Sherlock Holmes' arch-nemesis is behind the murder of Johanna Beckett, it would be..." Castle searched for an appropriate metaphor. "Combining obsessed Beckett with obsessed Sherlock? That's an Unholy Alliance. That's the Perfect Storm. On a scale from one to Chernobyl, that's the Apocalypse for us all."
Watson held up his hand. "I agree! I agree with you. I agree with everything you just said, but if Moriarty isn't a part of Beckett's world, then putting her with Sherlock for some grand conspiracy won't protect her." His phone beeped, and he checked it. "Text message from Sherlock."
"You gonna answer it?"
"I'm frankly surprised he noticed I was gone." Watson put the phone away.
A moment later Castle's phone beeped. "It's Beckett." Castle checked it with a sigh and put his phone away. "My daughter says I'm becoming less like her partner and more like her puppy; always running when she calls me."
Watson snorted. "Three girlfriends and counting have made the same comment about me with Sherlock."
Castle raised a glass. "I hereby declare the first meeting of Enabler's Anonymous open."
Watson toasted that grandly. "Cheers."
Watson looked at Castle. Castle looked back. After a few seconds they both pulled out their phones in unison, heading for the door.
"We're pathetic." Castle muttered.
"Oh God Yes." Watson commiserated.
AN: Read and review!