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04 June 2015 @ 08:44 am
OuaT: Curse of the Unexpectedly Written Story  
Just when I thought my fanfic muse, fickle creature that she is, was enjoying a prolonged holiday in Neverland, she came back with a vengeance. I really should have seen her coming, though, since the signs announcing her return were rather unmistakable.

Massive consumption of the respective source material, leading to show discussions. Show discussions leading to episode rewatches, episode rewatches leading to ideas. ([personal profile] selenak , I definitely still owe you an answer, and lots of thanks!) So I sat down and wrote, initially just to test the waters a little. But the more I wrote, the more the whole affair got a life of its own.

It's finished by now, roughly two thousand words long, a crossover with Castle, and essentially dealing with the question how on earth Hook, being all on his own, manages to locate Emma in New York prior to the events of "New York City Serenade". Readers wouldn't need to know anything about Castle to enjoy the story, though, since everything is written from Hook's perspective. The story is mostly a character study, with a touch of romantic fluff, balanced (at least I hope) with darker undercurrents.

My problems now, since I am not actively involved in any of the respective fandoms and therefore don't know anything about their infrastructure: Would something like this be worth getting betaed and published at all?  And, if so, where could I find a beta willing to do at least a quick language check?

ETA: Thanks to astrogirl2  the story has been successfully betaed and the finished version uploaded to the AO3. Yay!

 

STARS OF NEW YORK
by Bimo

 

If he sat down, say over a bottle of rum, and counted his losses, Kilian Jones would not consider himself a lucky man. One hell of a pirate, and dashingly handsome survivor? Well, yes. But lucky? Not quite, though distant observers might think so, looking down on him, judging his fate from high up above. Adrift more than once in his life, Kilian has always found some guiding star, some floating barrel to hold on. So why should New York, be any different he ponders, knowing that he must navigate this strange, hungry realm of towering stone, brick and glass.

At eight o'clock on an Autumn's night the city seems an ocean of electric brightness and noises. An ocean of people, really, with Swan somewhere among them, spending her days and raising her boy Henry, though not as the woman that Kilian first met, the swan who climbed into the skies on a beanstalk. Once he has found her, she won't recognize his face, will not listen. Why would she, really, with her memories changed and altered? But first problems first, one step, one obstacle after the other.

Kilian's feet begin to feel heavy from walking. He only stops briefly, though, when behind a corner the street opens up into some sort of clearing, a square, complete with trees, benches and in its centre even a fountain surrounded by lawn. On the square's northern edge bright colourful signs stand out against nightly gray buildings, announcing what must be this world's version of taverns and inns. Maybe it's the absence of cars, maybe the open space and the patches of green, but the people that walk by appear somewhat less rushed here. One of the benches, right under a lantern, seems unoccupied. He could take another look at the travelers' map that he had nicked from a newspaper stand earlier this evening. Think, take a breath. There will be none of Cora's magic spell shortcuts to make things easy for him this time, only his own wits and determination.

Printed on the map's back it says that New York provides food, shelter and occupation for over eight million people. A true and mighty Leviathan, if he has ever faced one, only to be beaten with tricks. So he reckons that getting hold of one of these all-knowing internet telephone machines that he has seen people use back in Storybrooke should be his first task tomorrow. And if typing Emma Swan's name into a search mask doesn't lead anywhere, he can still try locating Swan's boy Henry. After all, the child must attend school or perhaps be engaged in some public sports club.

"If you are looking for the Orion, it's that way," a woman's voice calls, slightly nasal and obviously directed at him, so he looks up. The lady in question is tall. Long, brown hair, rather beautiful face. Back in the Enchanted Forest, Kilian would have assumed from her posture that she was royal.

"Pardon?"

"The Orion cinema, for the long Pirate Films Night. We are going there too." 

For a second, he is too confused to react.

"You could come with us, if you like. By the way, what a great costume!"

Jolly admiration springs from her words. Her male companion, maybe her husband, maybe an escort, seems equally cheerful.

"First time in New York?" he asks.

"Actually, the second."

"It's just that you've got the classic overwhelmed tourist stare. No offense. This city always does this to people. Now, what?"

Not that Kilian wants to, but he finds himself rising, for he knows bloody well that only self-assured, generous people hand out offers like this on a whim. And yes, he is right. From up close the man strikes him as wealthy and clearly on his way to middle-aged heaviness. Good, unspoiled food on his plate every day. His brown woolen coat is of a superior quality that only rich folks like Regina and Mr. Gold would be wearing.

"Richard Castle," the stranger says. Saturated as he might seem, in each of his movements, his face, there's a younger, sharper man shining through. Playful, observant. Some of the better, more worthy merchant captains whose vessels Kilian had raided over the years had been exactly like that in their prime.

"Kate Becket."

"Kilian Jones. Honored to meet you, madam."

To amuse and to please her, he performs a mock bow, all movements slightly exaggerated. Successfully as it seems, she laughs up. Good. Telling his actual birth name should not cause any trouble; in this world it is as good as any other alias he could come up with. From the books in Belle's library Kilian has learned that this playwright called Barrie, who got Pan's very essence so frightfully right, for whatever reason lists him as James. No proper surname, either, just Hook, Captain James Hook.

"Mhm, Kilian, that's Irish, isn't it?" Castle asks. "Some seventh century missionary to southern Germany, if I'm not mistaken. You know, I had to research the whole saint business for one of my early Derrick Storm novels, Sacred Storm, but that was years ago," he goes on.

Perhaps it is good that Kilian never gets a chance to react to this gibberish, although he would hardly dare call it a blessing. Not if the diversion is paid for with the blood and bones of an innocent. All blink of an eye stuff, really; happening so very fast. One hell of a thud, followed by screams. Castle running towards the injured girl, holding her, calling for help on his phone. It is Kate who first sprints after the fugitive.

Once an ambulance has arrived the scene, Kilian thinks "screw all convenient chaos, no matter how useful". He has been there himself, knows how it feels to lie on the ground; hit, frightened, in pain.

Reckless cyclist, attempted hit-and-run, the traffic cops' report will state later that evening. Perpetrator captured by two witnesses, one of them being Detective Katherine Beckett, NYPD, twelfth precinct, the other a tourist from Ireland.

"Thank you for doing the all the talking, Kate," he says, while a uniformed officer is finishing off his last bit of paper work. The police car's flash lights are still turned on, their red, white and blue colours reflecting in the fountain's water pool. Kate puts a loose strand of hair back into place.

"Well, I guess it comes with the job. I wonder what the drug test will say," she adds after a pause. "That guy was high as a kite. I'm not sure I would have managed to hold him down any longer, if you hadn't come after me."

"Nah, that was just instinct."

"Very good instinct, then," Castle says. His voice makes Kilian startle, he had not noticed that Castle had already come back from the ambulance. Quietly all three of them watch the driver shutting the ambulance's orange-striped back doors, then walking up to the front and finally driving away. Apparently most useless bystanders have seen enough now, for they, too, are leaving.

"Rick, did paramedics tell you if she'll be alright?"

"Well, only that it's too early to say without a proper CT. You know what it's like with concussion. Her elbow is definitely broken, though. If anyone ever did that to Alexis..."

"Alexis?"

"My daughter. She is already off to university. Columbia," Castle hastens to add, as if expecting the name to ring any bells. Probably it must be very prestigious to have your child enrolled at that place, especially if it's a girl.

"She must be outstandingly smart."

"The smartest and sweetest."

After a brief, awkward moment in which Lord knows what is going through Castle's head, the man turns toward Kate. "Honey, I don't think I'm in the right mood for Errol Flynn, anymore. Anyway, it's ten past nine. By now, they should be a good twenty minutes into the movie. Even with commercials and stuff."

"What then?"

"Let go to Luigi's. I mean, it's right here, and the food's nice. What about you, Kilian? Fancy Italian? Come on, hero of the day, you are invited!"

The whole blasted situation makes it hard to decline, so Kilian says yes, feeling trapped and rather unsure where "yes" could lead to. It has been ages, oceans, whole worlds ago, since anyone last offered the Dread Pirate Jones, the grand Captain Hook such hospitality out of sheer kindness instead of fear or cold calculation. How odd, Kilian ponders, that at least for this evening he should turn out just some clean, unsoiled page in these people's diary.

Throughout dinner he tries his best to uphold their misguided good impression of him, listens and observes more than he speaks. One or two of his own, more good-natured seafaring anecdotes he reserves for dessert. They are events that could have taken place anytime, anywhere, like Turtle Island or the night of the luminescent squids.

"It must be great to have your own sailing ship, even if it's just for offering tourist cruises in the Caribbean," Kate says. In his tales, Kilian has made the Jolly Roger sound much smaller and newer to veil her true purpose.

"Some more pastry, Kilian?"

"No, thanks please. It's delicious, but I fear I was already full after the sea bream."

"Drinks then? I could use a glass of grappa right now." Castle reaches for the wine list, then passes it over. A few of names that he reads strike Kilian as rather familiar, but most other drinks he has never tasted or heard of. In the end he finds himself ordering one of the whiskies that is described as mellow, aromatic, ripened in sherry casks. He'd rather keep his rum habit private; his  hosts for the evening have not yet seen his true nature. Maybe they will even trust him enough to do him a favour.

The timing feels right. What better moment to ask than during the brief pause before the final round of drinks will arrive? He would only have to trick and deceive them a little. So, off it goes.

He starts small, with a puzzled look as if remembering something. With sudden alertness he reaches for his left vest pocket, then, acting ever more alarmed, for the right. "Oh, damn. Please, no," he swears, his voice barely, just barely loud enough for Castle and Kate to get the exact words.

"What's the matter? Smartphone? Hotel keys?"  Castle asks.

"The address of a friend I am supposed to meet. I had written it down on a piece of paper. But I think I must have lost it when we pursued that bicycle fellow." Kilian swallows, lowers his eyes, then looks up again, to imply that he had gotten a sudden idea.

"Could I perhaps ask you a favour? You wouldn't be so kind to check out a name on your  smart phone for me? I don't have one myself, because with my hand I keep finding them rather impractical."

Though he is sure that Kate and her husband must have noted the lifeless black glove by now, and so far only have been too reasonable to comment on it, Kilian is waving his left.

"Sure, no problem, but please tell me one thing," Kate gently teases, "Special lady friend or  guy friend?"

The question is leaving Kilian somewhat speechless, though he gathers it is meant in good humour.

"Oh, come on, deary, you are positively blushing."

"Alright, lady friend," he admits. "Her name is Swan, Emma Swan. Surname spelled like the bird."

"Okay, then. Let's see."

Kate takes out her phone and touches its surface. Somewhat impatient Kilian watches her fingers slide over its screen. "She lives right here in New York City, right, Kilian?"

A few more seconds pass.

"Roughly your age? Late twenties, early thirties? Blonde, and apparently running a small bounty hunting agency?"

"Well, yes. That sounds exactly like her! Fantastic! How did you..?"

"Actually It wasn't that difficult." She is turning the phone's display towards him.

"There are four or five Emma Swans alone in Manhattan, but look, it is this news article which is generating the most hits. 'Emma Swan always gets her man'," Kate quotes from the article's headline. "The second it popped up, I just had a hunch she might be the swan you are looking for."

 And really, amidst a lot of fleeting, barely readable small print, there's a picture of a proud-looking Emma, smiling confidently in a way that Kilian has never seen her smile back in Storybrooke. With Swan's image so close, yet out of reach, he can feel his heart shifting and turning.

Kate draws back the phone and puts it down on the table.

"Rick, do you have your blue felt pen with you, the one that you always use for autographs?" she asks.

"Yeah, sure."

Taking another look at the phone's display, she grasps for Castle's pen and then writes something down on a napkin. The exact location and phone number of Emma Swan's office, as it turns out.

"Here, for you, Kilian. And even waterproof," she adds triumphantly. Finally, their drinks arrive and they toast.

As he finishes the last few drops of whisky, Kilian knows that the sudden lightness and warmth he experiences with every fibre, in every vein of his body is stemming not from his drink but a far greater and ever more wondrous source. Plain, simple hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



This entry was originally posted at http://bimo.dreamwidth.org/67803.html. Comment there or here, as you like. I'd be glad to reply to your comments over on DW.
 
 
Current Mood: productiveproductive
 
 
 
Selena: Flint by Violateraindropselenak on June 4th, 2015 02:45 pm (UTC)
Like Kilian, I didn't know Castle or Kate, but I enjoyed the story regardless, and think you caught his voice very well, complete with poetical "Swan who climbed a beanstalk to the sky" descriptions. And it's a great explanation of how he managed to track down Emma without magical help!
Bimobimo on June 5th, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! :)

So glad to read that my approach to writing Hook worked for you. I thought it might be wise to tackle him from a somewhat more poetical angle, mostly because he never got any of the instant 21st century socialisation most other fairy tale characters received via the first Storybrooke curse. So his own "larger than life" self-perception is still for the most part intact.

Btw: Thanks to Astrogirl's quick and accurate beta, a proofread version of the story is now available at the AO3. :-)

http://archiveofourown.org/works/4080076