She watches the numbers ticking upward with a glare and an annoyed huff of breath and no small amount of impatience, but it doesn't make the elevator move any faster toward her ultimate destination.
Ready or not, Kate Beckett, here comes Hurricane Lanie.
Five days. It's been five days since Kate took on her shooter and almost met her end for it. Five goddamned days since she was suspended, and then resigned on top of that, and Lanie hasn't yet heard a word from her. No calls, no texts, no emails. No nothing. Every attempt she's made to contact her friend has gone ignored and unanswered. She would be content with a postcard via carrier pigeon at this point, but there hasn't been a single peep. And now? Now she's worried and pissed off and just done with waiting.
At first, she had simply been frightened and upset for her friend. Javier had come straight to her place following his meeting with Gates, in need of a friend with strong shoulders and a sympathetic ear. She got the entire story from him later that night when they lay in bed together, his anger and frustration relieved sufficiently enough for her to draw the details of the case from his loosened lips.
No one gets the toll this cause has taken on Kate over the years better than her best friend, and while Lanie understands the passion and dedication she's put into bringing her mom's murderer to justice, she's fearful for her immediate safety now. A contract killer was after her, for heaven's sake (until he got blown up…another detail she drew from Javi after a second night spent in her bed). Lanie also knows that being officially disciplined by the NYPD is probably wrecking Kate, but at the same time, she hopes it will force her to cool off and take a step back from the case, at least for the foreseeable future.
In the course of their pillow talk, Javi mentioned that not only had Kate rescinded her resignation, but that she and Castle had apparently patched things up following their disastrous falling-out just days ago. Still, she's worried about her support system. Would Kate even go to her dad about something like this? Because she sure as hell isn't leaning on her friends like she should. Lanie has visions of Kate continuing to pursue her mom's case off the books, doing something reckless and illegal; something that would get her kicked off the force for good, or even worse, force her to risk life and limb in the process.
So with a bottle of their favorite red wine in hand, she'd headed over to Kate's place tonight, hoping beyond hope to catch her at home and get the straight scoop from her, while giving her a serious tongue lashing for making her worry. The elevator finally reaches Kate's floor, and with a rush of renewed determination, she steps out of the car and makes her way to her friend's apartment at the end of the hall.
She's still about twenty steps away when Kate's door suddenly swings open, and Lanie almost sends the bottle crashing to the floor, tripping over her own feet as she comes to an abrupt halt.
For a moment, she wonders how Kate could possibly know she was coming over, but she shakes that thought loose seconds later…no, she couldn't have known. She didn't tell anyone about her plans this evening, so what gives? Lanie takes two more steps in the direction of her door, the soft carpet muffling the sound of her footfalls, when she sees someone backing out of the door. And not just any someone: it's Castle.
Lanie can only gape as she watches the scene unfold in front of her. Castle is halfway into the hallway when he's stopped by a set of hands that have grabbed onto his lapels and are tugging in the opposite direction. He smiles, laughs, says something in a deep, rumbling baritone that she can't quite make out from where she's standing. And then he's stepping into the hallway again, the hands still fisted in the material of his jacket. Another step back followed by another, and finally, the owner of the hands appears: it's Kate.
Lanie's jaw drops even further as she sees Kate, dressed in some short, silky kimono-style robe push up on her tiptoes and whisper something into Castle's ear. He smiles again, and then Kate is lacing her arms around his neck, pulling him in for a kiss that under any other circumstances, would have Lanie fanning herself. As it is, she can only stare, her body paralyzed and her voice choked off in her state of shock.
Their bodies are shamelessly pressed together as their lips fuse, one of Castle's hands gravitating to Kate's ass and pulling her into him further, while the other drifts up to lace into her hair. He angles her head to deepen the kiss, and Lanie can hear the moan Kate makes in response, her eyes like saucers as she watches Kate's palm skim across the prominent bulge forming in Castle's pants.
Lanie feels a flush of self-conscious warmth over the entirety of her body then, the awkwardness of just standing there and witnessing this unabashed make-out session in the hallway suddenly washing over her. No matter how shocked and fascinated and pissed and pleased she may feel at this moment, she can't continue to just…stand here and watch this private moment between her two friends.
She tries for subtlety first, a light ahem! escaping her throat, but they don't even register the sound, too engrossed in each other's mouths and hands and bodies to pay her any mind. She's going to have to be more forceful.
That seems to do the trick, as they spring apart like two teenagers caught making out on the dance floor at the prom. Their lips are swollen and their hair is mussed, their clothing wrinkled and askew. Both of them look positively ravished, and considering the display she was just treated to, she can only imagine what was going on behind that closed door prior to her arrival.
Castle recovers first, grinning at her like the proverbial cat that ate the canary, while Kate has the decency to look at least a tiny bit horrified.
"Lanie! Hey! Um…we…ah…we were…um…" Kate trails off into nothingness.
A deep red flush is creeping up Kate's chest, plainly visible since her robe parted almost indecently while Castle was groping her. Castle, on the other hand, looks completely unapologetic for the scene Lanie just walked in on.
"Ladies, I do believe this is my cue to leave. Actually Lanie, it's probably best that you showed up when you did. She might have never let me leave otherwise."
That earns him a sharp slug to his arm, but before Kate can inflict any more damage, he swoops in and kisses her thoroughly, backing away then with a love-drunk smile on his face, murmuring, "I'll call you later." Kate can only nod, an identical look gracing her own face as he disappears into the stairwell, whistling a slightly off-key tune.
The slam of the door behind him reverberates in the hallway while Lanie simply stares at her friend. She feels…shit, she has no idea what she feels at this moment. There are so many questions. So many.
She's surprised when Kate is the one to break the silence.
"Lanie, I am so sorry I haven't been in touch. I got your messages, I did, and it's just been this crazy couple of days, and I haven't had a moment to myself to call you, and…"
"Oh, I think I know exactly what you've been doing for the last few days, Katherine Beckett." Lanie slowly closes the distance between them, her eyes narrowed, her steps measured.
"Oh. Yeah, well, a lot has happened and…"
"A lot? A LOT? Ya think? You almost die at the hands of a contract killer. Twice. You resign from the force. And apparently, you and Castle are sleeping together now. Did I miss anything?"
Kate purses her lips as she shakes her head and nudges at the frayed edge of the carpet in the hallway with her toe, her eyes evasive. "Nope. No. I think you covered it all."
Lanie softens; she loves this woman. She's one of her best friends and yes, she's scared for her and furious at her for worrying her so, but she can plainly see that Kate looks…happy. Really, really happy. She's practically glowing, and Lanie knows it has everything to do with her persistent shadow and the obvious change in their relationship status.
She can't bring herself to torment her for even a second longer, and wraps her arms around Kate. "I'm just so glad you're okay. I was worried about you, but I can see now that you had someone taking very good care of you."
Kate hugs her tightly in return. "Yeah. Yeah, I did."
Lanie breaks away then. "Let's go inside and open this. You have some explaining to do."
Kate smiles brilliantly at her – ah, there's her friend! – and simply nods, holding her hand out to guide Lanie into the apartment first.
"So. You and Castle."
Lanie's opening line comes after she's taken a long sip of wine, while Kate is still pouring her own. Kate's not surprised, though. How long has this woman been encouraging her relationship with Castle? Maybe since the second case they worked together? Lanie is nothing if not consistent.
"That's what you're going with? 'You and Castle?' Not my resignation or being thrown off the side of a building?" Kate smirks at her friend's ability to cut to the chase.
"You're kidding right? On the scheme of things, yes, that is the most important thing we can talk about right now. So stop avoiding the question. What happened? The last I heard, you two were getting closer again, and then you told me the other day that you two had fought like cats and dogs and you thought he might be gone for good this time."
"Yes, all of that is true."
"And now you're having sex."
Oh, they're definitely having sex. She can feel the warmth radiating from her cheeks at Lanie's declaration. It's still so new, so fresh, so exciting and electric, even the mere mention of it takes her by surprise all over again. She could reply, but allows her smile and the blush on her skin to do the talking instead.
Lanie continues, "And from that smile on your face and that public display of affection I was just treated to in your hallway, it's pretty phenomenal sex. So, please connect those dots for me."
Kate sighs, but she's still grinning, unable to contain the joy that began welling up within her that fateful night that she trekked through the rain to Castle's loft, finally spilling over when she spoke the truth of her heart to him. It felt like the moment when the rest of their lives began in earnest.
So she tells Lanie the story, from beginning to end; how stupid and reckless she and Espo had been, how she got suspended, how she had felt drawn to their swingset even in the downpour. How the rain had cleansed her and led to the epiphany that landed her on Castle's doorstep that night. How they forgave each other over and over under the cover of darkness and the sheets of his bed.
Lanie listens thoughtfully, nodding on occasion, murmuring a soft uh huh or okay here and there. Her quietness is almost unnerving, a polar opposite from her usual brash, intrusive demeanor. Kate finally finishes, conveniently glossing over the fact that she and Castle had just spent the last few days together (mostly naked), and she looks to her unusually reserved friend, awaiting her reaction.
To her complete surprise, Lanie swipes a hand over her cheek, and is…is she crying?
"Lanie, what's...are you…was it something I said?"
Lanie throws her hands up, not even bothering to disguise the emotion on her face and in her voice anymore. "Oh my God, girl! It finally happened for you two! Do you know how long I've been waiting for this? I knew you'd be perfect together. Knew it!"
She reaches across the kitchen counter and takes Kate's hand in hers, squeezing and smiling brightly as a stray tear drifts down her cheek.
"I'm just…I'm so thrilled for you, Kate. It's written all over your face, how good that man is for you. You're practically glowing, for God's sake. It's a little disgusting."
Kate laughs at that, because Lanie's not wrong. She feels so good, so weightless, so right for the first time in so very long. She'd almost forgotten what that kind of happiness felt like, but once she let it in, allowed it to fill heart, it was like a cozy, familiar blanket, welcoming her with warmth and contentedness.
Lanie withdraws her hand then and takes another long draw from her glass of wine before swiping under her eyes one last time, brushing away any remnants of her emotional outburst.
"Now then, Kate Beckett. Don't think for a moment that I didn't notice how you skimmed over all of the juicy stuff from the last few days. I want details. Now."
A/N: Personally speaking, I've always been of the opinion that Lanie was the first to know about Castle & Beckett's relationship (and that it happened much earlier than we were led to believe on the show). As always, thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoyed the story, and if you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.
Many thanks to Alex and Maribea for the polish!