New York's Detective Kate Beckett walked around the body of a young man. He was pale, showing signs he's been here in the dumpster for a day or two.
"Name's Daniel Keeper, seventeen years old." Dr. Lanie Parish said as she moved out of the way to allow paramedics to take the body.
"Cause of death?" Beckett asked.
"It's not pretty. Our victim was stabbed in the lower right hand corner of his back, and the weapon used was dragged all the way up to his lungs. Basically cutting most of his vital organs, but that's not how he died, he bleed to death. I also found bruising almost all over his body, so either he was beaten or he put up one hell of a fight. One other thing, our victim wasn't killed here, if he was he'd be swimming in blood." Lanie paused and took a look around. "Hey, where's Castle?"
"Talk about change of subject," Beckett said with a smile, "said he was busy and would meet us at the precinct. Call me when you figure what was used against our victim."
"You got it."
When Beckett walked into the precinct she expected Castle to be fooling around with something at her desk, but when she saw it was empty she couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. Should she call him again, make sure he was okay? She mentally kicked herself for thinking that. She couldn't worry about him right now, she had a murder case to deal with.
A couple of hours passed until Beckett got a call from Lanie. As she headed towards the autopsy room, Castle came off the elevator and quickly caught up next to her.
"Body?" was the first word out of his mouth.
"Yeah, where have you been?" Beckett asked.
"I had...stuff to do," he said. Beckett eyed him but didn't push. "So where was the body found?"
"In an alleyway dumpster by Union Square. He was stabbed and the weapon was dragged all the way up, cutting his insides."
Castle was silent, his face paling slightly.
They entered the autopsy room and Lanie was there in her blue scrubs with the body.
"There's our Castle boy," Laine said as she saw the duo back together.
"Hi, Lanie," Castle said, "so body in the dumpster?"
Castle looked at the pale body on the metal table. "Young boy," he said.
"Seventeen. What did you find?" Beckett said.
"Our victim here was stabbed with a machete."
"A machete?" Beckett and Castle said at the same time.
"Yup, also he was choked with a chain around the neck and our victim was beaten, I found rope burns around his wrists and ankles indicating he was bound. There's something else, too."
Beckett looked over the body. Her mind raced with possible reasons as to why anyone would do this.
"Lanie, was he raped?" Castle asked in a voice that didn't said like his own.
Beckett and Lanie just starred at him.
"Castle?" Beckett said.
"How did you know that?" Lanie asked, bewildered.
Castle looked up, shocked. He hadn't realized he spoke out loud. "Hunch?"
"Right on the dot Castle. Our boy was raped and this is no motivated killer, this is serial. The way this boy was killed is a signature and that signature belongs to a Cole Gray. He killed twenty-six out of twenty-seven, seventeen year old boys within three months."
"When was this?"
"I'd say twenty years ago. He was killed when one of the boys got a hold of his gun and used it for self-defense."
"Are you sure it was self-defense and not revenge?"
"The detective on the case saw the whole thing and wrote it off as self-defense."
"But if he's dead then this is..."
"A copycat," Castle finished for her. No one noticed how pale he'd become.
Beckett sighed and walked back to her desk. It wasn't easy telling a family that a loved one was murder, she would know. She was doing everything she could to find this killer, but serial killers weren't easy. They usually had no relationship with the victim or a motive. They just killed. Castle was starring off into space when she sat down at her desk. He didn't even acknowledge her presence. She snapped her fingers in his face.
"You okay there?" she felt a little concerned. She figured he was out of it because of the case, but didn't ask any questions.
"Uh...um," Castle rubbed the back of his neck. "I have to go," he said and left Beckett speechless at her desk. Just as she was about to follow him out Ryan stopped her. They had contacted the, now retired, detective that was on the Cole Gray case.
"Thank you for coming in Detective Leemen," Beckett said as she took a seat across from the retired detective.
"You can call me John, I haven't been Detective Leemen in twenty years," his face got a dark look to it, "not since that case. To even think someone is repeating that nightmare. Sends shivers down my spine."
"Well, there is someone and I need your help."
"Tell me all you know of Cole Gray."
John drummed his fingers on the table. "Where should I begin?"
"Perhaps with his victims."
"Boys. Seventeen year old boys. Wouldn't accept any other age. Never knew how he got a hold of them, never could ask since in the end they all were killed."
"What about the one survivor? The boy who killed Gray? Can you tell me about him?"
"Not much I can tell. Boy was traumatized. Couldn't get any information out of him. Gray's method was take a boy, beat, rape and murder. He never had a boy for more then three days. But this one boy. This one boy he kept for a whole month."
"John can you tell me his name?"
Beckett looked over her shoulder to see if Castle had come back. It took her a moment to realize what he actually meant. "Excuse me?"
"Richard Castle the author. He's the boy, well, man now."
Ryan and Esposito watched as Beckett walked back to her desk.
"Jeez, what happened to you? Looks like you've seen a ghost...or worse," Ryan said as he took a sip of his coffee. Beckett just stared at her computer screen.
"Beckett?" She shook her head and shot up from her chair.
"I have to find Castle," she said as she grabbed her coat and headed out of the precinct, leaving the two men bewildered.
"Damnit Castle, pick up," Beckett said as she got his voice mail again. She flung her phone onto the passenger seat as she stopped at a red light. She slammed down on the wheel and look out of her window. She saw the man she was on the hunt for sitting on one of the swings in the empty playground. She was shaken out of her trace when the car behind her blared their horn. After spending fifteen minutes trying to find a spot, which is close to impossible in the city, she finally found one four blocks away. She walked as fast as she could, hoping Castle was still there. When she saw he was she let out a breath she was holding and slowed her stride. He rocked gentle back and forth on the swing as she took a seat next to him. They sat in silent for a little until he spoke up.
"I suppose you talked to Leeman," he said not looking at her.
"I had to Castle," she said. "I'm so sorry."
"Remember Halloween, when you asked me why I became a writer," he began. "It was because of this. When I pulled that trigger, when I killed Cole Gray, the feelings that washed over me..." He took a breath and sighed.
"Castle you don't have to tell me, you don't have to explain yourself. It was self-defense. You didn't have a choice."
"But I did."
After that Castle stopped talk and Beckett didn't ask him to elaborate.
"I want to be on the case," he said.
"If this a copycat...," Beckett didn't need him to explain. She looked him in the eyes. All she saw was solid determination.