The bar was dark, the low lighting on the walls reminiscent of the smoky bars Kate had frequented during her time in Kiev. This, though, was a little more upscale; infused vodkas in dozens of flavors, Beckett had run her gaze down the menu, rolling her eyes at the decorative Cyrillic script heading up each section before selecting a vodka with a shrug.
Vanilla infused. Nothing like the bitter herbal spirits she'd partaken of on her semester abroad, but was it so bad to indulge every so often?
She shook her head as the bartender slid the drink across the counter. No, it wasn't; she never let go, but if there was ever a night to do so, this was it.
Just a single night off, that was all she needed.
A night away from the nightmare that was her life, a reprieve from the jarring reality that she faced each and every day. She closed her eyes for a second before opening them and looking around the bar. Across the room, a tall man caught her attention, and she smiled at him, raising her glass as she met his gaze, swallowing the vodka down in one go and signaling the bartender for another.
Tonight she could be anyone.
Rick leaned back in his seat as he took in the room. Ostensibly, he'd come here to write, but in reality he'd come here to escape. Just for once, he wanted to be someone else. Writer, playboy. Father, son. All descriptors he gladly owned, even playboy to a degree, but, for now, he just wanted to be himself, wanted to discard the baggage that came with being Richard Castle.
He ran his hand through his hair as he sipped the drink in front of him, reflecting on his melancholy. Tonight was supposed to have been different, a Saturday night set aside for time with his favorite girl, but his eight year old's mother had arrived, unannounced, driving him from his own apartment. "Stay," Meredith had implored, her eyes wide and innocent, but he'd begged off, unwilling to confuse their daughter with the mixed signals he and his ex-wife seemed to send every time she was in town.
Around him, the bar buzzed with a laid back energy brought on by the combination of alcohol and the weekend; no loud music here, and no bright lights, just a relaxed pulse that seemed to thread through the crowd.
Except for her.
He'd spotted her the moment she'd walked in; heels giving extra height to legs that went on for days, the short black dress barely decent. As she'd glanced in his direction he'd caught a glimpse of a black bra under the low cut top, and he'd swallowed.
She was anything but relaxed.
She was fire, and if he was lucky-
Ex-wife aside, Rick considered himself something of a slow learner; this one had trouble written all over her, he didn't need to be a writer, an observer of people, to see that.
She'd turned, raised her glass to him, before accepting another drink from the bartender.
He closed his eyes for a split second as she walked toward him, opening them as she approached, and sitting up a little straighter.
He was going to get burned tonight.
"Scotch, huh?" She seemed to be fighting laughter, and Rick shrugged.
"What's wrong with scotch?"
"It's a vodka bar," she pointed out, and he nodded conceding to her as he held out his hand.
"Rick Ca- Rick," he introduced himself. This was a bar, a one off… meeting - if that - and he didn't need to be revealing his life story. Though, if he could get her to spill her secrets, he was sure they'd fill a book-
"Kate," she replied, her lips quirked as she took his extended hand, and he returned the smile with a raised eyebrow.
"So you're here by yourself?" he guessed, gesturing for her to sit down. He caught the flare of momentary hesitation in her expression before she nodded, folding herself into the seat beside him, her legs crossed demurely.
He looked down as her skirt slid up a little, revealing creamy skin on what was surely a luscious thigh, before snapping his eyes back to her face.
Endless depths of green-brown met his eyes, and he gulped down the rest of his scotch before raising his hand to the waitress in request of another.
He didn't know what he'd done to get this lucky, but if the most beautiful woman in the bar - the most stunning woman he'd seen in a long time, maybe ever, in fact - was deigning to sit with him?
He wasn't going to complain.
"So what do you do?" he asked when the waitress had brought another drink his way.
"Really?" she asked. "You want to talk nine to five? Because I didn't come here for that."
"Fine," he smirked back at her. "What did you come here for?"
At that, Kate lowered her gaze, taking a sip from her own glass. "The vodka, of course," she said, but he heard the lie in her voice, the plaintive longing that was nearly obscured by the darkness.
"Then," he said, one hand raised to call the waitress back, the other - bravely and of its own volition - on her thigh, "let's have vodka."
"Another scotch?" their waitress asked, her Russian accent strong, and Kate smiled, answering before Rick could.
"Dva vodki, pozhaluysta," she requested, keeping her visible satisfaction to a bare minimum as Rick stared at her, open jawed.
"But. What- you-"
"I speak Russian, yes," she teased, noting the bob of his Adam's apple before he formed a cohesive response.
"That is so hot."
Kate ducked her head, her cheeks warming as she caught sight of the way Rick's hand looked on her thigh, and she shuddered with want as she lifted her gaze, meeting his eyes.
She could be anyone tonight, she reminded herself. It had been a long time since she'd last let go, last let off some steam, last forgotten what it was like to be anyone other than Beckett.
Tonight wasn't about focus, it wasn't about fighting.
It was about finding a spark when everything seemed burned out.
It was about untying herself from the memories that haunted her every day, and unless she was very much mistaken, Rick was going to be happy to help her forget.