So I thought I'd try my hand at Castle fic again. There hasn't been a lot of it this season yet. Oh, in case anyone's wondering, I'm still considering sequel to A Matter of Motive, but am waiting for inspiration and time. This fic on the other hand is a one-shot. Post-ep for 2.03. Castle/Beckett conversation. More friendship then anything, although I suppose you could find hints of more if you squint (or if you really want to).

I don't own anything.

Beyond an Image

Castle smirked to himself as he wandered into his study, his mother's words echoing in his mind. Ah yes, he'd cultivated and maintained his image quite deliberately he had to admit. Rich, handsome, playboy writer with a talent for bending the rules. It was more interesting than just being some guy who happened to write books. If you had the money to support the lifestyle why not have a bit of fun now and again? Besides, it wasn't all an act. He was famous and he was rich. That was a combination that tended to result in women throwing themselves at you whether you deserved it or not. Besides, he was a red-blooded male. It didn't hurt to have a bit of fun. And he'd had a lot of fun over the years.

So he was a bit of a big kid at heart, nothing wrong with that. As he'd said to Beckett on the day he'd met her, boys will be boys. She could learn a bit from his philosophy; have a little bit of fun. He did.

Just not as much as everyone seemed to think.

But show up in the right places with a couple of beautiful blondes every so often and people paint a picture. A picture that provides a lovely little façade. And that lovely little façade provides a lovely little bit of safety. Charming and immature means people only dig so far.

He sighed as he flashed back to all the parties they'd seen after their last case, the glitz, the glamour, the girls. It was great on the surface but it could do some crazy things to people. Some not too nice things. He'd been to a lot of similar parties in the writing world. Hadn't really let it bother him because for the last decade or so he'd been one of the undisputed stars. He'd been in a position to reap the benefits. Still was. But a lot of the other people there shared a lot of the characteristics of the people at those modeling parties.

Vapid, superficial, petty, cruel, catty. He could go on. He was good with adjectives; he was a writer after all. Sure a lot of them were hot, and young, and hot. But they really just wanted a night or two with a famous playboy writer. Or you know, to become wife number three and really secure the lifestyle. For the most part they didn't really care what was beyond his little act, or if he was putting on an act to begin with.

And most of the time he was fine with that. Had had enough experience with marriage that he certainly wasn't going to be jumping into anything quite so serious again anytime soon thankyouverymuch.

But lately, working with the police… well… he still enjoyed the fun of his world. It just felt a bit pointless when compared to say… arresting a murderer. And it made him want to lose the act. Prove his own worth.

Of course, one of the problems with that was the act had become habit. And habits were hard to break even if you wanted to.

Even if there was someone you'd rather didn't think of you as some sort of curiously successful, but inevitably superficial court jester.

Shaking his head Castle booted up his laptop to check his e-mail.

He scanned briefly through some of the publicity requests and other cursory praise for the Cosmo article from a variety of acquaintance, pausing when he saw one from Esposito.

Subject: An early Christmas present

Ryan and I thought you might need this for your book, for researcher purposes obviously. Just do me one favour; if you tell her, give us enough warning to make a getaway. Enjoy.

Curious now, Castle clicked on the attachment. His eyes widened when he saw it. It couldn't be. There was no way. It was impossible that Detective Kate Beckett, one of New York's finest, was smiling at him wearing a tennis outfit. A tennis outfit consisting of the shortest skirt he'd ever seen her wear. Not that it was overly revealing… but he could see her legs. And they were worth seeing. Or they had been when she was however old she was in the photo. Oh who was he kidding? He'd been a bit distracted when she'd disarmed the Russian mobster but he'd still gotten a look. They were still worth seeing. And in the photo the one wasn't exactly in the most natural position in the world…

She'd been a model? He assumed it hadn't been for all that long. Probably a part time job of some kind. And let's face it, she'd had the looks. The height. The body.

Oh God. He was lusting after a young, a very young Kate Beckett. But was it still creepy since he knew her (and still lusted after her) now? She wasn't that much younger than him after all.

But back to the important point, she'd been a model. He couldn't believe he hadn't noticed. Although some things were beginning to make sense, like how she'd seemed to know what was what with the case, knew a bit of the lingo, a few of the designers a bit about the world. Not that he thought she'd ever done anything on the scale of what they'd seen over the past week, but what she had done probably would have given her a taste. Some things wouldn't change.

Oh this was too good.

Castle grabbed his phone and dialed a very familiar number.

"Beckett."

"Detective, how are you this lovely evening?" he asked blithely in response to her professional greeting.

He heard a sigh on the other line, "What do you want Castle?"

"I can't just call to see how my favourite detective is doing? I'm pleasantly surprised to find that you're actually at home and not still at work. After all it's before midnight."

"I do occasionally go home before the night crew gets in you know Castle."

"Sure you do."

She changed the subject. "What about you? No glamorous plans this evening?"

"I'll have you know Detective that there is a gorgeous model upstairs in my apartment as we speak."

"Then why are you calling me?" she asked him dryly.

He grinned. "Because I'm not in the mood for a High School Musical Marathon. "

"What?" he could hear the confusion in her voice.

"It's Rina. She and Alexis are catching up," he told her dropping the act.

She laughed, "Really."

"Really."

"You're still going to tell Esposito and Ryan you had a model in your apartment all night aren't you?"

"Maybe," he told her. Probably not though, because even having seen her on the runway all he saw now was that gangly teen looking after his daughter. "I'll have you know I've had a beautiful model in my apartment before now."

"Course you have," she said dryly. "Did you call me to discuss your previous conquests because I've got to say…"

He interrupted her, "Aren't you going to ask me who she is?"

"And why would I care?"

"Because I think you might know her. You know, I just got the most intriguing e-mail from Esposito. Not the longest e-mail I've ever received mind you, but you know how they say a photo is worth a thousand words. Personally I'd say this one's worth even more than that…"

"Castle." He could hear the warning in her tone but decided to ignore it.

"I've never been much of a fan of tennis but I may have to re-think my position,…"

"Castle."

"Especially if the outfits always look…"

"Castle." Any minute now and she'd snap.

"How many tries did it take to get your leg up like that? It looks hard. Not bad or anything. Quite the contrary Detective. But that can't have been comfortable. I mean…"

"CASTLE!"

"Is something wrong Detective?" he asked innocently.

"I'm going to kill them," she said venomously.

"Who?"

"You know who."

He did. "Okay, but could you do me a favour? Could you wait half an hour. I promised I'd give them a heads up so they could make a quick getaway. I really don't think it'll matter if you're determined to catch them of course, but I'd still feel better if I kept my word."

"I hate you."

"Why?" he asked logically. After all, he hadn't been the one to find the photo.

"Who says I need a reason?"

He supposed he could give her that. "Well no one of course, but I don't see what the big deal is. It was what, a summer job? And you were what, eighteen?"

"Seventeen actually."

"Right. So you modeled for a summer to make some money. What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing's wrong with it. Let's just drop it." She told him.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked her.

"Because I'm letting you shadow me. I'm not giving you free access to my entire life," she pointed out.

"Yes," he agreed easily. "But that just means that you didn't have to tell me. It doesn't explain why you didn't. You had experience with the modeling world," he said. "It was relevant to the case. I always tell you when I think my past experiences are relevant," he told her somewhat petulantly. He'd thought things were getting back on track.

"Yes Castle, we're all well aware of the glamorous life you lead," she told him with a sigh. "A summer of modeling even in New York hardly gives you insight into the inner workings of high fashion. I didn't tell you because it wasn't relevant. And you didn't need to know."

"Plus you thought you'd get made fun of."

"I knew I'd get made fun of. And now that you've achieved that goal I'll say goodnight."

"Wait Beckett." Sure he'd called to tease her a little, but… this wasn't how he'd wanted this to go. He wasn't sure how he'd wanted it to go exactly, but it wasn't this. It wasn't her saying goodnight in a huff. "I… Are you alright?"

"What?" He could hear the confusion in her voice, "Why wouldn't I be alright?"

"Because I did keep talking about how models were ten pounds underweight, likely taking drugs and catty with terrible hair."

"Well when brought up the hair I really had to keep the hurt from overpowering me," she snorted. "Don't worry about it Castle. I'm a big girl. I know what the modeling world's like and what people think of it. If it were true I'd never have found enough brain cells to rub together to make it in my current job. I think I've moved past it by now."

All of a sudden he understood. "That's why you didn't tell anyone."

"What are you talking about now?"

But he ignored her annoyance. Because he'd finally figured it out. "Well, the teasing was part of it I'm sure. But you didn't tell people you were a model because you didn't want them to think you were some flighty thing with a brain that would fit in a tea spoon. That's why you always stand with your arms crossed in the Nikki Heat publicity photos. You're clearly familiar with getting your picture taken in another position, not that I would recommend pulling out your old tennis stance for the next cover of course. You're afraid people won't take you seriously anymore if you do anything else."

"Well, cop and model don't tend to go together all that well."

"I don't know, just look at Charlie's Angels." He pointed out. "They fought crime. They were hot."

"Not quite the image I was going for there Castle."

"And no one who's actually met you would think you were actually a moron just because you also happen to be attractive and happen to have modeled at one time."

"Still, I'd rather if everyone who's ever read Cosmo didn't think that either."

"I wouldn't worry, that review was far too positive for that. And trust me Detective, I understand all about the importance of maintaining an image."

She paused considering, "Yeah, I guess you would."

"There's actually probably quite a bit of overlap between the writing world and the modeling world. All the work that goes into maintaining appearances. We could trade war stories, compare notes so to speak."

"We could…" she said, sounding hesitant.

Despite her reaction he thought it was a great idea. "Come on! It'll be fun! You could tell me all about stereotypes and how you transcended them, moved on from the glamorous lifestyle. I'll buy you coffee."

"What, right now?" Kate asked him surprised.

"Why not?" Suddenly he found himself really wanting to talk to her about this, really wanting to. Maybe he just wanted to talk to someone normal who had a bit of an idea what it was like not to be. He'd figured Rina might need a friend outside of the insanity. Maybe he did too. He had Alexis of course, but there was something to be said for having someone, not more mature, but… closer to his own age.

"Well…" she was wavering, he could tell.

Castle decided to sweeten the deal. "Coffee and desert. That place downtown you like so much." When that didn't work he tried another tactic. "Come on Beckett, you can teach me how to be more than the world expects of me. Give me some tips."

"Tips." She told him. "You mean like, how to raise an incredibly grounded and mature daughter? Or how to give a girl in a whirlwind world a link to reality after you saw one of her friends get killed?"

"Yeah," he replied, his smile widening. "Like that."

He could hear the answering smile in her voice as she gave in. "Meet me in half an hour."

"Okay."

"And Castle…" she added before he could say good-bye.

"Yeah?"

"In return I want to hear the story behind you on the horse."

Before he could reply she'd hung up the phone. It figured that Beckett would look beyond the obvious. It's what she did.

Then he grinned. He was totally telling the guys tomorrow that he'd managed to swing a date with a model.

xxxxx

The End