Series: Grimm Reflections
Fandoms: Castle, Grimm
Genre: Fantasy, Angst, Romance, Humor
Details: Slash, crossover, AU, genre!crack, fairytales, mythical creatures, unbetad.
Characters/Pairings: Castle―Javier Esposito/Kevin Ryan, Richard Castle, Jenny O'Malley. Grimm―Nick Burkhardt, Hank Griffin, Monroe, Drew Wu.
Summary: A close call on the job exposes Kevin Ryan to a hidden world that has always existed just out of sight―and leaves him viewing the people closest to him in a whole new light...
Notes: Follows Until Lambs Become Lions.
Chapter Seven: The Foxes (Part 1)
Richard Castle was terrible at waiting.
This was, of course, a fact unlikely to surprise anyone one who had ever spent more than five minutes in his presence. All the same, however, it was a fact that had never ceased being relevant. It wasn't that he was incapable of waiting—he was a father, after all, and all joking and modesty aside he thought he was a damned good one. Over the years he had been surprised to find himself capable of a remarkable degree of patience. It was just that his coping mechanisms for dealing with things like boredom and suspense were often tragically detrimental to the patience of everyone else around him.
Or even, on a few rare occasions, people who weren't around him.
His present situation seemed to fall into that category—or so he was forced to assume, given Esposito's current, irritated expression. After all, he and Javier had not actually spoken or seen each other for a stretch of time approaching two days. And yet, if forced to judge solely by the look on the detective's face, someone might have come away with the erroneous impression that Castle had been in his face and deviling him the whole time.
Admittedly, if pressured, Castle would have grudgingly acknowledged that the tenor—or, more probably the frequency—of his texts could be to blame... Or, he supposed, it could have been his decision to greet the boys at the airport holding a sign which read "Roach".
Both, Castle thought, were equally likely.
"So, gentlemen," Castle greeted them as soon as they drew close—and he was fast, but not fast enough to keep Javier from snagging the sign out of his hands. "How was your trip? Educational, I hope?"
Though he kept an eye out for retaliation from Javier's corner, the bulk of Castle's attention was on the Grimm.
Kevin seemed...more relaxed than he had the last time Castle had seen him, certainly. Though, given that his last image of the other detective was one of utter panic, that really wasn't saying very much. Kevin was visibly uneasy, of course, but Castle was relieved to see more of awkwardness in his present nervousness than actual fear. This was proven when Kevin greeted him with a somewhat embarrassed smile, but even more so when he answered.
"Well, I made some new friends," Kevin said, lightly, "and Javi got beat up by a watchmaker."
The noise Javier made sounded as sullen as it did pitiful.
"The, uh...guy Kevin went to see?" Castle asked, concerned.
"No," Javier huffed miserably. "A friend of his. Blutbaden."
He frowned, releasing a breath.
"I might have...possibly deserved it," Javier admitted testily. "A little."
Under normal circumstances Castle would sink his teeth into a story like that and never let go, but their circumstances had ceased even resembling normal months in advance of all this madness. Still, though it was clear from their body-language—a guarded awareness in their movements around one another, and the subtle yet alarming distance between them—that they hadn't yet fallen back into their usual ease, whatever rift the truth had torn between them was clearly beginning to mend. Though genuinely relieved, at the same time Castle was sincerely disappointed…
Whatever other secrets might now lie in the open, it seemed as if the full extent of Javier's feelings for his partner was not among them.
"So how have things been here?" Javier asked. "And just how pissed is Kate right now?"
His attempt at deflection was painfully transparent, but he was plainly past the point of caring.
"Not too pissed, actually," Castle reassured them. "We managed to wrap things up just fine without you two, thank you very much. Though once Mr. Dane was told you two were…busy elsewhere, he became surprisingly cooperative."
It had taken Castle a little subtle nudging—and getting a chance to speak to Dane in private hadn't been easy. When it came to exploring a wesen angle on their case, Castle had gotten better over the years at questioning witnesses in a manner that flew under Kate's radar. But when it came to CIs and suspects, usually that was Javier's job, and it was a job much harder to do without a badge.
Fortunately, Dane had caught on fairly quickly... Given that the alternative involved being stuck in lock-up when the Grimm returned, the skalengeck had been unsurprisingly eager to get things over with as soon as possible.
Unfortunately—and also, Castle thought, unsurprisingly—Kevin seemed to catch on just as fast. He seemed rather uneasy at the thought of his presence being used as a threat. Castle moved on quickly, hoping to derail that train of thought off before it could go much further.
"Which isn't to say Kate's very happy about being left with all the paperwork," Castle offered, "but she was very understanding once I explained—and I'll fill you guys in on exactly what I explained to her on the drive."
Kevin frowned at this, but whatever his objection it was swiftly overruled by one of Javier's own.
"You do that, Castle," Javier said, "but I'm driving."
"It's my car," Castle argued, frowning.
"You're already about as fidgety and distracted as I've ever seen you," Javier told him firmly, "and I think we both know that as soon as you finish filling us in you're going to have all sorts of questions of your own. I'd prefer you not split your focus between your curiosity and the road. So no, Castle, I am not letting you drive."
"But it's my car..."
Castle glanced at Kevin, hoping to appeal to the other detective's more charitable nature—and by extension appeal to the part of Javier that was wrapped firmly around his partner's finger.
Sadly, it seemed to Castle that the tide had turned against him.
Despite his energetic call of dibs, Kevin hadn't actually taken the front seat for himself—which Castle thought might have had a lot more to do with Javier's mood than it did with his partner's compassion and sense of justice. As much as it galled him, Javier had a point—there were questions Castle was dying to ask, and having Castle asking those questions from the rear-view might have been just as distracting as the other way around.
As promised, Castle filled them in during the drive with every detail of the cover story he had so very artfully crafted for Kate's benefit. Still, though the information was necessary, Kevin seemed to give only the bare minimum attention to Castle's account. Far from being enthralled, Castle thought he seemed almost morose and somewhat distant.
Well, if need be Castle had a remedy for that...
He let the conversation drop, turning around in his seat to watch the other man. Beside him Javier frowned, already wary of the sudden quiet, but Kevin seemed not to notice.
It was only once Kevin finally looked up in concern that Castle broke his silence.
"What do you call a gelamcaedus with a badge?" he asked the Grimm—which, honestly, felt like the set up for a joke all on it's own.
Kevin only stared back at him blankly, but Javier let out a noise that was almost pained.
"Come on, Castle, don't..."
There was a moment of delay—as if he had been forced to mentally double-check Castle's words to confirm their content—before Kevin let out an amused and somewhat baffled snort.
"Castle, I swear..." Javier warned.
"Did you hear about the ziegevolk that made a name for himself in the Games?" Castle asked, grinning.
While Kevin met him with one of the most confused expressions he had ever seen on the man's face, Javier took his eyes off the road just long enough to shoot him a sharp glare. Castle pretended not to notice either one.
"He had to beat the ladies off with a stick," Castle said.
Javier huffed an almost disgusted grunt, and Castle wasn't looking, but he suspected the detective would be mustering a perfectly manly-looking pout. His evidence was the faint smile that flickered across Kevin's face as he cast a glance at the rear-view—Castle doubted he actually understood any of the jokes, but seeing his partner get wound up over them was a hard thing not to smile at.
Which had entirely been Castle's point.
"You realize these are our version of ethnic jokes, right?" Javier asked, casting a quick glance back at his partner.
And Kevin very clearly hadn't, because the question wiped the smile from his face rather abruptly and he looked away.
The sudden silence that fell in on them was all but physically painful. Though the other man was staring straight ahead, one could almost imagine it was still enough for Javier to hear rather than see the glare Castle was sending his way. He might have said something, but judging from the faint slump to the detective's shoulders it was obvious he already felt a little guilty for breaking his partner's good mood.
And if there was one thing Castle had learned in his years of working with the two men, it was that there was just no beating Javier's capacity for self-flagellation where Kevin was concerned...
Damn, but he could be stubborn, though—they made it a couple blocks more before Javier finally gave in. He released a put-upon sigh.
"Two fuchsbau and a kehrseite are playing poker," Javier said, his words muttered and so bland they were nearly monotone, the only real feeling in the brief, irritated glance he threw Castle's way. "The first fuchsbau throws down a straight flush, declaring himself the winner. The second fuchsbau calls him out as a dirty cheat. The kehrseite looks confused and asks how he can tell. And the second fuchsbau says: 'Those aren't the cards I dealt him!'"
Though to have delivered it so easily, Castle had to imagine it was one Javier had heard—possibly even told—several times before.
Castle let out a wounded noise, clutching his chest dramatically.
"Touche, detective," he said, "that one hit me where I live."
Javier just let out a snort, shaking his head, but Castle watched the earlier distress ease out of his expression when he glanced back and saw Kevin smiling.
(And Javier liked to claim he knew how bad he had it for his partner, but Castle was sure he didn't know the half of it.)
"Have you hear the one about the Grimm that–"
And Castle was smart enough to recognize that, this time, Javier's warning was one-hundred percent real.
"Yeah," Castle admitted quietly with a wince, offering Kevin an abashed glance. "That one's probably a bit too soon..."
For a while, it seemed as if his overstepping might have brought the conversation to a halt, but the lull didn't last for long.
"Can I see it?" Kevin asked quietly, after a moment.
The question was somewhat lacking for context, and it took Castle a moment to understand.
"See–" Realizing, he was suddenly at a loss for words. "Oh."
"I mean, well, I've never seen a fuchsbau before," Kevin said, all earnest and awkward and actually rather pathetic in a way Castle simply could not previously have imagined a Grimm capable. "You'd be my first."
Castle opened his mouth but a faint noise from the man's partner—almost like a cough—seemed to threaten some kind of reprisal should he make the obvious joke there, so it took him longer than it otherwise might have to reply.
Castle generally considered himself both adventurous and daring—he could even recall Kate rolling her eyes once or twice upon saying so out loud. The point is, he wasn't stuffy or stiff, or set in his ways, or hung up on tradition the way many wesen tended to be. But still, there were taboos that he had been raised to hold sacred. Barring the Vertrautheiten and other formalized greetings you really didn't just woge in front of anyone who asked, especially if they weren't wesen.
And you definitely didn't want to be seen showing yourself off by a Grimm.
It was strange enough being asked by a friend that he had, in the past, expended a not-inconsiderable amount of time and effort hiding the truth from. That this friend was also a Grimm only made the whole thing impossibly more strange—nay, make that disarmingly bizarre. Because, alright, sure it was Kevin they were talking about—he wasn't about to let himself forget that for a moment—but it was still enough to move even Castle to momentary pause.
In the end, of course, it was the expression of simple, vulnerable curiosity on Kevin's face and that won through his doubts.
Castle turned around fully in his seat to face Kevin, raising his eyebrows one last time as if to make certain Kevin was ready. Kevin's own hesitation was brief, but he gave a small nod. And if he startled visibly as Castle shifted into his woge, at the very least he could be given credit for moving very quickly past it. The Grimm's eyes seemed to wander over Castle's face for a moment before meeting his gaze–
Though, Castle noted with palpable discomfort, those eyes certainly made it difficult to really know for sure.
"I bet Alexis is stunning," Kevin said finally, ticking a faint smile.
And that was Kevin Ryan, alright—Castle couldn't help himself smiling back. The exchange broke through the writer's momentary trepidation. Castle found his usual boldness returning enough for him to study Kevin right back, shamelessly staring into his eyes.
Familiar goof or not, the sight was every bit as disturbing as Castle had always imagined it would be.
"Man, that is just too weird," Castle said finally, returning to his human face with a shudder.
"What's weird?" Kevin asked, that openly wondering expression crumpled into a frown of confusion.
It took Castle a few seconds to realize Kevin was utterly serious.
"You mean you don't know?" Castle asked. He threw a glance sideways just in time to see Javier wince. "You haven't told him?"
"I was honestly hoping Burkhardt told him," Javier muttered unhappily.
"Tell me what?" Kevin insisted, and though his face was reasonably composed his voice held an edge that was close to panic.
Beside him, Castle heard Javier let out a slow sigh.
"Your eyes, Kev," Javier told him slowly. "It's how we know what you are."
"My eyes?" Kevin asked, clearly struggling to understand. "I don't–"
"They look...different to us when we're woged," Javier admitted gently.
"Different...how, exactly?" Kevin asked.
The way he hesitated, as if weighting the question, Castle had to wonder whether Kevin honestly wanted to know the answer.
Javier gave his partner a long, considering look in the mirror, frowning, Castle would guess, as he tried to recall it.
"It's...kind of hard to describe," Javier said finally—to Kevin's swift and vocal disappointment.
"Come on, Javi," Kevin pleaded tiredly. "I know you guys want to protect me or whatever, and I understand that, but I need to know. I'd like to think I'm past the point where I'm actually going to break or something if you tell me."
"Well, to be completely fair, Javi's not wrong," Castle said. "I mean, it is kind of difficult to put into words. Though if I may..."
Taking a moment to summon up the image, Castle framed it thusly:
"It's sort of like looking out of a window at night," he said. "We can see ourselves—our 'true' selves, you'd probably say—reflected on the glass. Only, behind that glass..."
Castle paused thoughtfully.
"Well...imagine being pinned down under the searching gaze of an unspeakably hostile void," Castle said slowly. Though with another thought he corrected himself. "Or perhaps more like...facing judgment from a nameless, persecuting force reaching out from beyond primal darkness. Or maybe–"
"That's enough, Castle," Javier interrupted sharply. "I think it gets it."
Looking at Kevin, Castle thought he looked unsettled by the idea. And perhaps a little pale.
"Hey, look," Castle said pleadingly, catching the detective's attention, "it's not that bad, alright? I mean, you freaked out at first when you saw us, but you're getting used to it. We'll get used to it."
Kevin looked back at him, but from his oh-so-dubious expression he seemed significantly less than convinced.
"We're all exactly the same people we were before all of this came to light," Castle continued insistently, keeping his tone light. "We just know more about each other than we did—in the long run that has to be a good thing, right?"
And Castle's optimism seemed to win him over briefly, but the faint smile Kevin managed was short lived.
"Maybe I know more about what you guys are," Kevin said quietly. "Myself I still have questions about..."
"Well... I could try help with that," Castle said.
Javier turned and cast him a suspicious look, but still Castle couldn't help the grin that spread across his face. He probably should have tried harder.
"What do you mean?" Kevin asked.
"Well," Castle began slowly, "while you and Javi were gone, I had a talk with Jenny..."
And Javier looked as if he were about to make some objection, but Castle cut him off abruptly.
"No, let me rephrase that: I needed to talk to Jenny," Castle said pointedly, returning his attention to Kevin as he pushed onward. "This whole thing was just so strange—and Javier apparently knew about it, but for me it came out of nowhere—so I had to ask."
Beside him, Javier was shaking his head, but he more than likely knew it was a lost battle anyway—even Castle was rarely an equal opponent to his own curiosity.
"Anyway, she told me about the work she did looking into your family," Castle said, "and I even convinced her to give me what she had, but she made me promise not to go looking through it without asking you first—and I haven't, I swear on my life, but the restraint is absolutely killing me."
Kevin looked at him uncertainly, neatly caught, Castle speculated, between his own curiosity and his recently-acquired existential dread.
"I don't know, Castle..."
"Yes you do," Castle said with confidence. "You know you'll feel better once you know—no matter what you find out—than you will if you leave yourself wondering what's even there to know."
Which, for just a moment, seemed to only confuse Kevin further, at least until his partner chimed in.
"You know, I hate to admit it," Javier said slowly, almost wincing as he did, "but I think he's actually got your number there, bro."
Kevin looked carefully between them, but he seemed to fail at finding any argument he thought would work.
"Alright," Kevin conceded finally, and Castle was happy to detect more than mere overwhelmed resignation in his voice.
"Excellent!" Castle exclaimed clapping his hands together. He only barely restrained himself from rubbing them together gleefully. "So. My place, then. Saturday night. Around seven o'clock–"
"Seven?" Javier asked, skeptically.
"Dinner," Castle answered brightly, offering Javier a broad grin. "And you're not invited."
Author's Note: This chapter was going to be longer, but I've decided to split it (yet again) in order to have something to post sooner.
Would Nick have told Kevin what Grimms looked like to wesen? Realistically, the answer is probably yes. But it couldn't have possibly been as fun as letting Castle say it. XD
Also, for the record, I'm not a big fan of ethnic jokes, but it's damned near impossible to escape them, and trying to think a few up for wesen was fun. And if anyone cares, Castle's interrupted Grimm joke is:
"Did you hear about the Grimm who hacked his target's phone?"
"He was aiming for his head."