In A Handbasket

Prompt: 2x20 AU. Ellie Monroe calls Castle when he leaves for the bathroom and left his phone on the table, to which Beckett decides to take matters into her own hands. (from castlefanficprompts )

Note: I guessed which of the phone calls the prompter meant, and I definitely took some other AU liberties, but hopefully it still works.


Hell.

She was going to hell.

It was sneaky and underhanded of her, and she was absolutely going to hell for it. He didn't leave his phone on the corner of her desk for her to pry into his private business, he left it so he didn't drop this one in the urinal like the last one. She was the one who decided to look at the screen when it started to chirp, half in annoyance and half in concern that it might actually be his mother or his daughter.

She hadn't expected to pick it up after the second call, in case in all of Castle's cell phone misfortunes, he'd lost an important contact and they were urgently trying to get in touch with him.

And when she did pick up, she hadn't expected it to be Ellie Monroe, the flighty actress she'd watched hang all over his arm last night on Bobby Mann's show.

And she hadn't expected the well of… whatever… in her gut as the other woman babbled to her. Wasn't it so tragic what happened to Bobby; life was just soshort, and she was hoping to get in touch with Rick to talk through it all, since they'd been some of the last people to see him. Right. To talk.

But what came out of her mouth next, that was the kicker,

"Actually, Rick's busy tonight."

Definitely going to hell.

"Busy? Oh, that's a shame. Does that mean he's working the case?"

"I, ah, yes. He is. But that's not… he's just busy."

In a handbasket.

"He's seeing someone?"

A flaming handbasket.

"Yes. He is. Me."

A flaming handbasket with a musical serenade.

It… well it wasn't a total lie, but it wasn't the truth either. Meals after work had been the norm for a while, but whatever it was had started in earnest after she'd found a sublet and left his place. They'd started spending time together when she was on-call, even on her off days when they had no reason to actually see each other but one of them always called and asked to meet anyway. They'd gone to a movie or two, too, and they'd argued over who would get the tickets and who would get the snacks each time. There had even been a trip to the museum.

It was… nice. Fun. But it wasn't dating.

Was it?

"Oh, that's… I didn't know. I'll, well I actually have another reason for calling, too. Will you ask Rick to call me back? It's work-related, so… "

Uh huh. Working to get into her partner's pants. Which didn't matter. It didn't. "I'll let him know you called."

She wouldn't.

"Great! Thanks."

Yep, right to hell. Good job, Beckett.

"Let me know who called?"

Kate jumped, glancing guiltily at the phone – his phone – in her hands. How long had he been standing there?

"Ah, um, Ellie. Monroe. From your interview last night."

She pointedly ignored the way her stomach dropped at his smile. It wasn't jealousy. It hadn't been jealousy earlier either. Absolutely not.

"Oh yeah? Did she say why?"

"Well she… wanted to talk to you about work. A work something." Oh god, she needed to get out of this conversation fast. Slapping his phone into his palm, she turned back to her desk.

"A work something?" he asked, seemingly happy to attempt to pry the rest of the details out of her.

"Yes, a work something, she didn't elaborate." One look at his face stopped her. "But you knew anyway, didn't you? You heard the whole thing."

His lips twitched. He was using her own interrogation tactics against her, making her squirm until she gave in.

"Okay fine, I lied and said you were busy. And now I have work to do, so why don't you go call your groupie back and stop asking me questions."

His smile only widened, the bastard.

"Nah, I think I want to ask more questions. Like what am I doing tonight? Since I'm busy with you, I think I should really know what my plans are."

She hated him. She hated that stupid smug smile and how damn pleased he was because he'd caught her in a lie. He'd caught her practically peeing in a circle around him and marking her territory and he was thrilled about it, and she hated that, too.

"Taking up space in Lanie's morgue while I watch her autopsy you if you don't stop."

His laughter pissed her off, but it also warmed her. It also sent zings through her belly and down her fingers. She could get used to hearing him laugh.

"Yeah, that's no fun. How 'bout this instead?" He dropped into the chair at her side, leaning into her workspace eagerly. "We reach a stopping point for tonight and we go to dinner? You said last week that you wanted to try that new restaurant by your place."

Damn, she had said that.

"Uh huh," he continued, leaning on his hand as he read her mind. "So dinner, my treat, and then I will walk you home."

"Oh you will, huh?" She lifted an eyebrow, pursing her lips; his smirk needed to go.

"I will. I am a gentleman, after all. And then once we get to your place, I'll come in for coffee or to talk about the case and check in with the boys. It's all an excuse to prolong the night, though, so we can be flexible with the story –"

"That's a little presumptuous, Castle. Who says I won't want to say good night long before that?"

"Trust me, Beckett, you won't."

"Mhmm," she hummed, picking up her pen. "And then what?"

Castle didn't even try to hide his grin. "And then I'll say thank you for a great evening and go home."

Wait, what? "That's it?"

"You wanted more?" He feigned innocence, leaning back in his seat.

"If that's how you think an evening with me should end, maybe you should go out with Ellie Monroe," she muttered, fighting to regain her composure. Lamest date ever.

"I mean, I could, since she did call me to ask me out," he drawled, lacing his fingers around his knee. "But I don't think that's what you really want. Otherwise, you wouldn't have told her I was seeing you. Am I seeing you, Kate?"

Words stuck in her throat. Was she seeing him? Did she even want to define whatever the hell it was they were doing? Neither of them had seemed to be in a rush to put a label on it so far, but maybe he'd been wondering just as much as she had.

Her head dipped, but she knew he was still watching her. She had to say something, even if it was to tell him he was out of his mind.

Fuck it. She was going to hell anyway. She might as well go for it.

"You are, you have been, and if you want to continue to, you better not conclude our night by thanking me for a great evening and leaving."