The Shiny Frontier


After watching Castle 5x06, "The Final Frontier," I couldn't help but feel that part of the story was missing. Here is the missing scene, from when Beckett tells Castle that there's been a murder at the SuperNovaCon, to the time they enter the crime scene. Slightly AU. You don't have to be a Firefly fan to read this, but you'll probably laugh more if you are.

Humorous one-shot. Castle with heavy Firefly references. At SuperNovaCon, Rick Castle is mistaken for the actor who played Captain Mal Reynolds on Firefly.

My first foray into writing Castle fanfiction, although I'm a regular reader and reviewer. But not my first fanfic. Check out my profile to find out where my writing loyalties lie.


"To Jonathan Frakes…best regards, Richard Castle," he wrote. "And … here you go," Castle said with a smile, handing over the copy of Storm Season he had just signed.

"Thanks. I'm your number one fan," the man replied, and Castle had to believe it. Commander Riker was wearing an "I (heart) Richard Castle" T-shirt!

"Well, thanks for coming." He shook his head. How far they fall. He didn't look up at the next fan before he asked, "All right, where do you want it?"

"Could you sign my chest?"

He jerked his eyes up in surprise, to meet those of Katherine Beckett.

"Wow," she laughed. "That actually caught your attention."

"What are you doing here?" he asked in a low voice, eyeing the line of fans snaking away from his table.

"You'd know if you answer your phone."

"Listen, if you want your very own signed copy of Storm Season I'd be happy to arrange a private signing."

"Cap your pen, Castle. There's been a murder here."

Castle was all ears. "What, here at SuperNovaCon?"

"Mm-hmm."

"Shiny!" he exclaimed. He stood up excitedly, eager to join her immediately.

"She's making off with our Captain!" one of the fans in line complained. "I've been waiting for an hour to get my book signed."

"Beckett, I can't just leave my post here," Castle demurred. "I should at least sign—"

"All right," Beckett conceded. "You sign the next twenty fans' books. Then we cut it off, and get to the investigation. Time is of the essence here, Castle. There's been a murder."

"Castle will sign for the next twenty in line," she announced in an authoritative voice, "then his presence is required elsewhere." Groans of disappointment resounded from those at the back of the line, but Beckett had a police officer's skill in crowd management, and though they grumbled, they dispersed as requested. Beckett stood by the front of the table to enforce her decree.

The blond-haired man at the head of the line gave Beckett a quizzical look. He seemed to want his private moment with the famous author. He was dressed in a blindingly bright tropical print shirt. "I am a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar," he told Castle, and presented him with a book.

Castle smiled brightly and signed the book, which Beckett noticed was not his new Derek Storm graphic novel, but something called Still Flying.

"Castle, that's not even one of your books!" she hissed.

"Wasn't it?" he asked her, seemingly unaware of the problem, before greeting the next fan, a distinguished-looking older man dressed in clerical garb. He signed the man's book, which Beckett noted was also not Derek Storm, but apparently some kind of devotional text, called Serenity Found.

Castle turned to the next in line.

"Where would you like it?" he asked the attractive dark-haired woman, with a bit of a leer. Like nearly everybody at SuperNovaCon, the woman was wearing a costume. This one was an attractive dark green outfit that resembled a cross between a belly dancer's costume and a sari. It exposed her bare midriff and revealed a fair amount of cleavage.

"Castle!" Beckett hissed, glaring at him. "I'm not going to stand here silently and watch you sign your fans' chests."

To her surprise, the woman doused Castle's leer with a dignified stare, and spoke to him with a hint of disdain. "In your lonely, pathetic dreams, Captain." She held out her book, making it clear that chest-signing was not on her agenda.

Castle was beaming. "What's with these fans, Castle?" Beckett whispered. "That woman just had you sign Firefly: The Official Companion. I thought you were here to promote your latest Derek Storm?"

"Well, yes, but…" he hedged, not making eye contact. "Hang on, travelers!" he greeted the next three fans, a group of teenagers dressed in flowery shirts and brown coveralls. He signed their books with a flourish of his Sharpie.

The teens' responses of "Shiny!" and "Yessir, Cap'n Tightpants" were lost in a blare of noise, as the public address system announced that ticket holders for the panel in Ballroom F were now being admitted to the room.

The last fan to make Beckett's cut-off simply nodded to Castle, saying only, "Captain," as he handed over his book. Castle beamed, obviously pleased with the attention.

As Beckett walked Castle through the convention center throng, she said, "Doesn't it bother you that not a single one of those fans wanted you to sign Storm Season?"

"What? No!" Castle returned, unperturbed. "I love the fans. They're—"

Whatever he was going to say was interrupted by a group of fangirls who surrounded him and Beckett, begging to be allowed to take pictures with the famous author. Beckett tried to remind him that time was of the essence—there was a murder to investigate, after all—but Castle was lapping up the fans' flattering attention. Beckett watched Castle's ego inflate with every flash and click of the iPhones. "Thanks, Nathan, you're the best!" they squealed, and finally Beckett was able to get Castle moving again.

Nathan? "What the hell, Castle?" she said.

Castle shrugged. "It happens all the time. Part and parcel of being a famous, ruggedly handsome mystery writer."

"They called you Nathan," Beckett reminded him. That removed the smirk from his face and deflated his overblown ego somewhat.

"It seems that I resemble the actor who played Mal," Castle explained.

"Who?"

"Captain Malcolm Reynolds."

Beckett continued to stare blankly, so he added, "Come on, Kate, don't tell me you never watched Firefly?"

"It was only on for half a season, ten years ago, Castle," she rebutted, though her answer revealed that indeed she had watched Firefly.

"Half a season of brilliance, Beckett. It was the best sci-fi western ever."

"And just how many sci-fi westerns have there been?" Beckett countered.

"Anyway, about that actor," Castle continued, skirting the issue, "I get taken for him all the time."

"You don't mind it a bit. You play into it."

Castle gave her that mock-wounded look. "You think I encourage that kind of behavior?"

"I know you do. I mean, look at you, Castle—you're wearing tan trousers." She paused to appreciate the snug fit on his backside. "And a brown leather coat. You're trying to look like him."

They were passing a mirror affixed to the wall of the hallway, and Castle paused to preen and examine his reflection, much to Beckett's annoyance.

"Well, maybe a little," he conceded, turning sideways and examining his physique. "Do you think these pants are kind of tight?"

He was fishing for compliments, so she ignored the question, and raised her eyebrows at him. "Only a little?"

"Well. Okay. A lot. But seriously, why wouldn't I want to be taken for him? He had the best role ever—he got to play the shiniest spaceship captain in the 'Verse."

Beckett turned to ask him to explain just what kind of poetry he was talking about, and why was it better to be the captain of a shiny spaceship than, say, a stealth ship or a space station—but they were driven apart by a large group of fans trekking towards Ballroom F. This group consisted of half a dozen men and women sporting ridiculous orange knitted hats with ear flaps, two more women wearing flowery shirts and coveralls, and a man wearing an outrageous Hawaiian print carrying a plastic dinosaur figurine. Sci-fi convention-goers these days were a strange lot, she thought. Not like when she was in college. The Nebula-9 outfits were cool, not to mention that Lieutenant Chloe's short skirt showed off her long legs to great advantage.

"You gotta admit, this is a genius place to commit a murder," Castle observed. "I mean, you don a costume, strike down your intended target, and then melt into the crowd unseen."

"You sound like you've actually thought about this, Castle."

"I used to come here a lot. Alexis and I would come here every year and dress up. You should have seen her—she dressed up as the Captain of Serenity, actually. A little pint-sized Mal Reynolds, so cute in her browncoat."

"And you were?"

"Uh… also Mal, of course."

Beckett rolled her eyes.

"I wore it every year at SuperNovaCon. I loved that show. I also wore the Space Cowboy costume for Halloween," he admitted, "until just a couple years ago, when Alexis pointed out in her sweet way that I'd never stopped wearing the browncoat. Made remarks about there being no cows in space."

"Well, there aren't," Beckett pointed out, practically. "Cows in space are impractical. Impossible." There were never cows on the set of the Nebula-9 spaceship.

"Yeah, but…sometimes you have to believe you can do the impossible. That makes you mighty."

Looking back in the direction they had come, she spied Castle's daughter and two of her friends in outfits that made her Lieutenant Chloe skirt look modest. Glancing ahead quickly, she noted that Castle had again been waylaid by Firefly fans, and was busily signing T-shirts that read, "Aim to Misbehave" and "Keep Flying." Beckett made eye contact with Alexis and alerted the girl to her father's presence nearby. Alexis gave her an alarmed look, and she and her Space Bunny friends rapidly removed themselves from Castle's line of sight. Interesting.

"Those hats look ridiculous," Beckett said, pointing ahead to distract him from Alexis in her skimpy Space Bunny outfit, to which he would certainly object if he saw it.

"What? No, those hats are awesome. They're Jayne hats, Beckett," he said, as if that should convey some special meaning to her. "And see the T-shirts? Those are the Chinese characters for Blue Sun. Shiny."

"Speaking of hats, will you just put this on?" Frustrated with their slow rate of progress, Beckett produced an NYPD ball cap and placed it in Castle's hands. Maybe if the Firefly Captain's fans didn't "recognize" Castle, they could finally get somewhere.

"NYPD," he read. "I like it." He pulled the hat onto his head, and donned a pair of sunglasses. "So you think undercover is the way to go?"

She was about to respond with a sarcastic no, when a surge of fans propelled them into the open door of Ballroom F. This was not where they were supposed to go, but Castle had disappeared and she couldn't spot him in the crowd. The ballroom was packed. She began searching for her wayward partner, paying little attention at first to the panel discussion that was now underway.

"Is there any chance that Firefly will be continued in some form?" the fan at the microphone was asking. "Besides the occasional comics. Maybe another feature film, or an animated series?"

"I'm all for it," the actor who played the doctor responded.

"Never say never," the show's co-producer chimed in.

"Was River really completely cured, at the end of the movie?"

The glamorous actress who had played the mentally disturbed teenager made a reply, but Beckett wasn't paying attention. She was scanning the crowd, looking for Castle's distinctive form.

"If Firefly had continued, would Mal and Inara eventually have gotten together?" the next fan asked.

Beckett shook herself. She'd been sucked into paying attention to the panel, when she needed to find Castle, and get to the scene of the murder. Where the heck was Castle? She missed the director's answer, whatever it was. Must have been ambivalent, because some of the fans groaned.

"Do you think Zoe and Wash would ever have a baby?" a woman on the far side of the room asked.

The beautiful actress who played Zoe fielded this one. "I like to think that there's a wiry-haired, redhead boy—with freckles. And that Jayne babysits, and that he and I have arguments about who's gonna teach him about guns." The fans roared with approval.

"Why not continue Firefly in a series of novels?" a fan asked the director and creator of the show.

Joss's answer was a somewhat unsatisfying commentary about artistic vision and copyright issues. Murmurs were heard throughout the crowd.

"Hey, that would be a great way to keep flying," Castle commented, suddenly near her again. With his ball cap and dark glasses, she barely recognized him. "Maybe they'd ask me to write them! Wouldn't that be shiny?"

"Sir, if you're intending to ask your question, you must step closer to the microphone," one of the handlers interrupted. He turned toward Beckett. "Ma'am, if you did not submit a question, I must ask you to return to your seat."

The handler propelled Castle toward the microphone. He drew in a breath, uncharacteristically hesitant, and began his question in a mumble. Beckett wondered why he was not using the mic with his usual aplomb, but then recollected that he'd just been put on the spot, and had no time to think of a sensible question. "Uh, I'm a big fan. Uh, thank you very much for all your work." His words were nearly unintelligible. "Uh, it's apparent that you've worked with a lot of the same actors, uh, a lot of the same actors all the time. Some would even say that you play favorites. But, do you have any…favorite actors?"

There were titters of laughter from the audience.

"Well, you know…I love…" Joss hedged diplomatically. "Y'know, I mean, how much trouble would I get in if I actually said, okay, I have a favorite actor?"

"I don't want to tell you buddy."

"But I guess I would just say, it's Nathan Fillion," Joss proclaimed, a broad smile dawning on his face. "It's Nathan Fillion," he repeated.

Someone knocked Castle's hat and glasses off, and the crowd went wild, as they recognized him—or so they thought. Chants of "Nathan" resounded throughout the hall. Castle basked in the cheers, hamming it up for the crowd, before Beckett gave him a tremendous glare, grabbed his arm and propelled him out the side exit. "What the hell, Castle!" she exclaimed, as she pushed the two of them through the hallway, heading for the crime scene as rapidly as she could get them there.

"It was the only question I could think of, at such short notice."

"That's not what I meant!"

"I mean, I was in awe," he continued. "That was Joss Whedon."

"I know it was Joss Whedon."

"I mean, it was Joss Whedon," he repeated.

"The director of The Avengers, the highest-grossing film of 2012. I know."

"No, I mean it was Joss Whedon, the creator of Firefly. Fourteen episodes of pure shininess," he said, his voice filled with awe.

"Shininess? Is that even a word?"

"Beckett, you have to understand. Some of the best storytelling on television. Ever. Nine characters looking into the blackness of space and seeing nine different things."

"Like interviewing nine different witnesses to the same crime," Beckett muttered. "They never see the same thing."

Castle continued gushing over his favorite sci-fi show as they moved along. "Such depth of character! Each episode with its twists and turns, darkness like you can't even imagine, leavened with humor. I mean, I like noir, but I say, make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of god, tell a joke! That's the way it was with Firefly. It wasn't all sterile Starfleet perfection. They weren't trying to make a better world, or a better universe—they were simply trying to survive. It was an Everyman show—not about the people who made history, but the people history stepped on. It had this great 'used future' vibe."

"You mean the spaceship was an old junker with parts always falling off," Beckett retorted with some asperity. She happened to like that 'Starfleet perfection,' and that aspiration to make a better world.

Her words caught the ear of a passing Firefly fan, yet another young woman dressed in a flowered shirt and coveralls. "Junker!" she exclaimed to her friend. "Did you hear what that purplebelly called Serenity?" She cast Beckett an evil look.

"What did that woman just call me?" Beckett exclaimed. Castle must have caught some kind of inside joke, because he was grinning from ear to ear.

Catching sight of Beckett's face, Castle wiped the grin from his, and re-directed her attention to a tall man wearing an orange knitted hat. "Look, Beckett, isn't that—?"

"Detective Ethan Slaughter. What in the world is he doing here?" She'd had enough dealings with Slaughter last spring to want never to have to do with him again, and unless the homicide over on the Nebula-9 set had suddenly sprouted gang connections, he had no business being here. She marched directly over to him and said, "That hat makes you look like an idiot."

Slaughter looked affronted, but he didn't respond. Beckett was grateful, in a way, since half of what Slaughter said was inappropriate and disrespectful to women.

Castle pulled her away and hissed in her ear, "That's not Slaughter, Beckett. That's Adam Baldwin. The actor."

"Should I recognize him? I mean, other than he looks like Slaughter's doppelganger."

"Beckett, he played Jayne," Castle said seriously.

"Jane?" Beckett echoed. "Jane who? Jane Espenson? Jane Eyre? Jane Austen?"

"Jayne Cobb. On Firefly."

"He played a woman?" she exclaimed, having noted that the man was taller than Castle by a good few inches. He must be nearly six foot five. "What kind of—?"

"He played the role of the treacherous but lovable mercenary. A man who loved his guns, even gave them names…"

"Naming a gun is ridiculous, Castle."

"What, you don't have a name for your Glock?"

"It's my service piece, Castle. It doesn't get a name." She rolled her eyes at Castle. This was getting absurd. Beckett turned toward Mr Baldwin to apologize for disparaging his ridiculous hat, but Baldwin was being mobbed by more fans—at least half of whom were wearing the same stupid-looking knitted hat. It even had ear flaps.

"Pretty cunning, don'tchya think?" Baldwin quipped, modeling the hat to the obvious delight of his many admiring fans.

Beckett and Castle were nearly at the Nebula-9 set by now. The foot of the ramp led up to the high-tech spaceship's interior. Before they could board, though, they were waylaid by two men in business suits, wearing the blue gloves that the NYPD forensics teams donned at crime scenes. Beckett didn't recognize either of them and was about to demand what precinct they were from when one of them, wearing a very serious expression, pulled out a plastic rod, a little thicker than a pencil, and pushed a button. Two extensions sprung out of the ends.

"That is so awesome!" Castle exclaimed, delighted. "Did you make that yourself?"

The man smiled and nodded, and he and his friend produced posters, which they held up for Castle to sign. "We didn't fly eighty-six million miles to track down a box of band-aids, Captain," one of the men declared.

"Just a minute, Beckett," Castle apologized, and he took his time, chatting graciously and signing their books as well as their posters, much to Beckett's annoyance.

"C'mon Castle, we have a job to do."

"He gave me this." He proudly held up the rod-thingy with the springy-thingies.

"What is that thing supposed to be, anyway?"

"It's a—" he hesitated, obviously not knowing what to call the stupid stick-thing.

"Those weren't Derek Storm books they were holding."

Castle was a bit taken aback. "You mean…that wasn't Storm Season? I didn't even look."

"It was some book called Serenity."

"Shiny."

Finally, finally, they entered the "Nebula-9 Fan Experience" set at SuperNovaCon. It was all flashing lights and special effects with dry-ice jets whooshing in the doorway. Castle paused. "I'm sorry, but how is Nebula-9 worthy of all this? I mean, they were canceled over a decade ago after twelve episodes. Which was twelve episodes too many," he added in an undertone.

Beckett's face fell. After all that hoopla about your favorite show. Really, Castle. "I thought you would be a fan."

"I'm a fan of good sci-fi. Star Trek, Battlestar, Firefly. But Nebula-9? No, no. That's all phony melodrama and lifeless acting."

They walked up the ramp and into the ship set. They stopped at the entrance and gazed around them. Beckett was looking around with shining eyes, like a star-struck Nebula-9 fangirl thrilled to be aboard the famous ship. Even Castle was forced to admit it. "Okay, this is a cool ship. Not as cool as Serenity, but this is a cool ship."


A/N:

Molly Quinn really did wear a Mal Reynolds costume to ComicCon in 2011.

Check out the Youtube video "Big Fan Asks Joss Whedon Who His Favorite Actor Is."

Oh, and leave me a review while you're at it. :-)