ROLE REVERSAL

THE SPRING

"Ready Castle?" the voice is amused, coldly so.

"How do you want to do this?"

"Walk onto the bridge Writer Monkey, Jersey side walkway. Move along till you're at the half-way point. We'll be taking a ride and I'll want to see your hands at all times! Anything suspicious … you know what will happen … your girlfriend will spend the rest of her days in a wheelchair pissing in her pants …."

Castle's hands clenched into fists, he squeezed his eyes closed and forced himself to breathe. They were close now, close to the conclusion; he just needed to keep it all together for a bit longer.

"There won't be any need for that Tyson, you'll get what you want … so long as Detective Beckett is unharmed …"

"Will I Castle? You're being very generous considering you haven't got a clue as to my demands!"

"Let's get it over with Tyson!" and he cut the call. He waited for an angry call back. The phone remained silent. He slipped it into his right hand pocket. Picked up the burner phone, checked that it was still on and had enough charge left. He lifted the left-hand edge of his coat and dropped the burner into the inside coat pocket, the wire running to the mic was now effectively out of sight.

"Andrei moving" he muttered and heard a double "Roger" whispered in his ear.

Castle climbs out of the car, shuts and locks the door … pauses with a smile on his face … it's quite possible he won't survive the next few minutes, yet here he is carrying out the most mundane actions … with a sigh he drops the keys into his pocket and checks before crossing the road.

He pauses at the dividing barrier separating the opposite lanes of traffic and looks around. Everything seems to be deathly quiet … is it his imagination or is even the Canal holding its breath? With a slightly shaky huff he steps over the dividing barrier and crosses to the other side of the bridge. Once on the sidewalk he begins to move slowly along towards the central section.

He's only just reached the start of the Draw Span where the tarmac changes to steel sections when the gong sounds. It makes him jump and he pauses a moment, watches the yellow barriers coming down across the road further back, the warning lights flashing across the top of the lower deck. With a somewhat juddery heart, he continues moving forwards towards the centre of the bridge.

"Packets arriving" he hears from Javi in his ear … "… occlusion"

He turns his head to look towards the other end of the bridge, he thinks he can make out some movement behind the girders, but from this angle can't be sure …. the occlusion means Javi can't get a clear sight … or shot at them.

By now he's reached the centre of the bridge and is standing on the sidewalk, turning his body slowly to face the approaching figure … figures? On the opposite side … there are over twenty meters separating the two sidewalks and the angle they are approaching from adds to it. The lights casting shadows, the girders between them … he thinks he can make her out … held tightly with his arm across her shoulders …

He stands there, trying to keep his feet from moving, his fists clenched by his side betraying the tension. The others have reached the central part of the bridge now, are across from him, the distance and the harsh shadows cast by the lighting makes it difficult to distinguish details. He can make out Tyson … or at least someone of his build …. standing behind Kate, arm across her neck and shoulder, gun jabbed into her side …. she looks terrible, face pasty white in the overhead light, dark shadows under her eyes, though that could be more from the lighting … duct tape across her mouth, hands taped together in front of her, her clothes look dirty, trouser leg torn just above her right knee.

The gong has stopped ringing several minutes ago. He can feel a shuddering under his feet and then a slight grating sound. Suddenly he feels slightly disorientated, feels the floor rising, slowly, the horizon in front of him beginning to shift as the Draw Span moves upwards. A small part of his brain wants to be fascinated by the experience watching the scene shift before him. He turns his head and stares as they rise level with the upper deck where the three tracks of the IRT subway run as far as the edge … slowly they rise higher, the tracks now stretching away towards Broadway. The Draw Span comes to a juddering halt as it reaches it's maximum height of forty one meters above the water.

Tyson moves forwards under the massive inverted V-shaped girders. He waves the gun at Castle indicating he should also move forwards ….

Dario Coressi does not consider himself a bad guy, sure, he's done some stuff his mama wouldn't have approved of, but hey, a guy's gotta live right! And the ponies … well, a big win and he could leave this lousy job, get himself a good house, a good car, maybe a good woman, go visit the old country … there's a lot a guy can do with a bit of money. And when the man came and suggested how he could get some … a nice big packet that Uncle Sam wouldn't even have to know about … it was after all just a question of putting the frights on a guy, a quick, quiet job, no one the wiser … and a nice bank roll which could pay off the debt … get Vittorio the loan shark off his back … or maybe he could just try on the track … maybe win enough to pay Vito off and set himself up …

… but he doesn't like the way things are panning out. He was supposed to have turned the cameras off once the gong went …. a malfunction if anyone should ask … and he has. He has turned the cams off … except for the one … he just wanted to see what the fun was about … but then he's seen the woman, the creep holding her at gunpoint … that wasn't what he's imagined, agreed to …. he doesn't want to know what's going down … but the cam is still showing him the scene as the central part rises … now their heads are cut off as they rise up towards the upper deck … only their legs visible now ….. soon they will be out of sight ..

Coressi is still too engrossed in the one active screen …. doesn't feel the cool breeze as the door behind him opens, doesn't hear the stealthy entrance of the black-clad visitor ….. all he feels is the touch of cold steel to the back of his neck .… Dario Coressi is not a bad guy … but the video feed he has been watching … the sudden unexpected feel of cold steel to his neck … Dario Coressi collapses in a dead faint. The masked figure looks down at the crumpled figure in surprise, perhaps a faint smirk detectable behind the wool mask.

Esposito is kneeling by the parapet, the Remington tight against his shoulder the scope showing him a close-up of Beckett and Tyson. The angle is all wrong. Tyson's height and Beckett's are too alike, he is holding her as a shield and right now she is between his scope and Tyson. There is not enough exposed target for him to be able to make a shot ... the slightest shift of position, turn of a shoulder and he could kill Beckett ….

He had made the last minute preparations as soon as he got the call from Castle. He had rechecked the windage, watched how the strips of orange plastic had been fluttering, had made the calculations of range to the target as soon as Castle had muttered "Centre bridge" … had got his breathing under control … he was as ready as he could be to take a shot with an unknown rifle … but the target was just not cooperating

"Don't have angle …" he muttered into the mic.

Agent Shaw is fuming. They had eventually managed to triangulate the call and narrow down the area … it had taken them all of thirty minutes before someone had realised that Beckett's apartment was within the specified quadrant. A search of the apartment had thrown up little, some empty Chinese takeout cartons … not difficult to guess considering the two uneaten spring rolls on the kitchen counter ... a small black, foam packed box with several empty recesses … the guys were analysing it right now, but most of them could guess at the contents it had probably held.

They had been back in the War Room when the trace on Castle's phone had kicked off once again. Now they are rushing down into the street, piling into their cars and tearing up the tarmac as they head north, turret lights flashing to clear the way ...

Castle is about five feet from the central divider when Tyson tells him to stop. He and Beckett are about the same distance away on the other side. He can see her clearly now, the wide pleading eyes, trying to tell him something … probably to run and save himself .. but he doesn't want to listen to her, not just yet .. first he has to get her safely out of here … she is trying to say something but the duct tape across her mouth muffles it … she's shaking her head from side to side, but a sharp jab in the ribs from Tyson's gun has her gasping in pain through her nose …. for a moment Castle thinks maybe Javi can get a shot, but he's still holding her up with his arm across her neck and shoulder.

As they had approached each other he had also noticed her feet. Tyson has fashioned some leg shackles from the duct tape, about a foot of tape between her ankles, enough to allow her to shuffle her feet back or forwards … not enough to allow her to run or kick.

"So Castle, remember what I told you that night in the cell?"

"Which bit? The bit about murder being just an act, that it's all about the anticipation, the planning... or the bit about my ruining your perfect vanishing act and screwing up four years of your life? … I can't remember …. you said so much … and here we are again!"

For a moment he thinks he had gone too far. The gun jerks in Tyson's hand, shoots forwards to point between his eyes … he can see Kate's widening in fear … time seems to stand still for a moment … then Tyson laughs … literally laughs … "Almost Castle, almost … but not how I planned it. Move!"

The gun jerks to the right, telling Castle perfectly clearly where Tyson wants him to move. He begins moving sideways, towards the end of the span, Tyson keeping track of him, the gun never wavering, Kate held as a shield in front of him.

Something makes Castle look to his right and he stops. He is now less than three feet from the edge of the span, Tyson facing him from the other side of the central barrier, about ten feet from the edge. "What's up Castle? Getting cold feet?" he laughs at his own joke.

"No target, I need him to turn" whispered in his ear

"What's the deal Tyson? I jump … is that it?"

"You've got a choice Castle. I tried to destroy you last time … I don't know how, but you got out of it. This time I'm not waiting for others to do the job for me, this time I'll make sure I do it myself!"

"Now, you have two choices; you can either take a few more steps … and jump … who knows, you might get lucky and survive …. or I put a bullet through your Detective's spine .. and then I put one between your eyes."

"Take choice number one, and your girlfriend survives, intact … of course, she may feel guilty about your death for the rest of her life, but hey! At least she'll be able to carry on normally".

"Chose option number two and you die anyway … but you'll die knowing that she'll spend the rest of her life in a chair, unable to do even the most basic things like wiping her ass … how do you think that would affect her Castle?"

"Get him turned" Javi's insistent voice whispering in his ear

"What guarantee do I have that you will let her go unharmed?" He ignores Kate's wildly shaking head and pleading eyes

"I give you my word Castle … I know it may not mean much to you … but as I told you that night in the cells … the fun is in destroying you … and in tomorrow's papers, I'd much rather read about Ricky 'Splatt' than Nikki 'Splat'!" he grins.

Castle nods "Give me a minute?" he sees Tyson nod and turns his back to them, looked up at the sky above, a few barely discernible stars winking down at him. "Fireworks south?" he mutters.

"On the count of five" comes back the voice in his ear.

"Javi, on five" he says quietly.

Turning back to Tyson he takes a deep breath then looks straight into Kate's eyes. He musters every ounce of love and feeling he can into both look and voice "Kate, there is always a tomorrow … I love you, always!"

Tears are pouring down her cheeks, the tape muffling her sobs as she tries desperately to shake free of Tyson's grip.

Castle turns and takes a step towards the edge of the span. Below he can see the subway tracks leading into Marble Hill station and heading off into the distance towards Yonkers. With his feet barely inches from the edge, and keeping his eyes firmly away from the vertical drop to the tracks below, he turns to face Tyson and Kate. Quietly he starts counting "One … two … three …. four … "

On the rooftop, Esposito is cursing everything and anything under the sun. He has an almost perfect shot. The target is just a bit lower than his firing position, no more than two hundred and fifty feet away!

But the bastard has Beckett right in the way. He was going to chance the shot anyway even an injuring one, just hope that Castle could get to him before he could fire at Beckett or that he could get a second finishing shot … but now the crazy guy is counting to five? What the hell?"

"..five"

At the far end of the span, two rubbish bins detonate seconds apart. They are not big explosions, just a lot of noise, a lot of glaring light and a lot of smoke lost in the night-time sky. The unexpected detonations separated by less than a second have Tyson spinning round to face the source of danger, his gun sweeping to span ….. the sharp turn and Kate's taped ankles means she loses her balance, falls sideways and the weight pulls Tyson's arm down, Kate slipping out of his grip.

Almost as if he guesses what is about to happen, Tyson begins to swing back round towards Castle, his gun hand trying desperately to line up the gun.

Castle doesn't hear the shot, doesn't feel the whisper of a passing bullet, but suddenly Tyson's temple grows a mark … something clouds the air behind his head …. and Castle watches as he crumples to the ground …. It seems ages before his brain reacts, before he can force his eyes away from Tyson to look at Kate, lying on the ground, propped up on an elbow, staring at him in disbelief …

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