So today is the one year anniversary of the day I opened my account here. To celebrate I have decided to write a crossover of my two favourite fandoms, Castle and the Mentalist. What would happen if Castle and Beckett met Jane and Lisbon and a book signing? It's pure fluff, although as usual the length got away from me. But I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, from either show.

Double the cops, double the consultants

xxxxx

"Jane," Lisbon said irritated. "I do not see what was so important that I had to come with you right now. It was my day off, I had stuff to do."

"Lisbon we both know you were planning on sneaking back into the office and catching up on your paperwork," Jane told her indulgently.

"I was not!" Lisbon exclaimed. "I had stuff to do at home. I need to do laundry, and my apartment desperately needs to be cleaned." She took a breath, "And even if I was planning on catching up on paperwork, I would point out the only reason I have so much extra in the first place is currently dragging me out to god knows where on what is supposed to be my day to relax!"

"Who said this outing wasn't going to be relaxing?" Jane asked, eyes twinkling.

"You're here aren't you?" Lisbon retorted.

"I'm hurt Lisbon, I really am," Jane told her. "You honestly think that I enjoy making your life difficult so much that I've started trying to do it on your personal time?"

"I wouldn't put it past you," Lisbon muttered under her breath. When she thought she saw a flicker of something, (hurt?) flutter across Jane's face she sighed. "Where are we going?" she asked him wearily.

Jane's grin came back full force, he had her! "Nope!" he told her cheerfully. "I'm not telling. It'll ruin the surprise. But you will enjoy it. I promise."

"It'd better not involve public humiliation of any kind Jane!" she warned him. Then she considered, "for me at least. You're more than welcome to get up in front of a crowd and do something stupid. I'm not responsible for you right now, so if you get punched in the nose I don't have to do anything other than stand back and enjoy it like everyone else."

"Now Lisbon, you know as well as I do that I haven't been punched in the nose in a good six months."

"Yeah, it's a new record for you," she told him. "Did the pain finally cause you to re-think your strategy or were you just worried that one of these times it'd get so bent out of shape that no amount of plastic surgery would help?"

"Do you really think I'm that vain Lisbon?" Jane asked grinning. She was in rare form and he was enjoying every minute of it.

"Maybe." Lisbon told him with a grin. When Jane shot her a sideways look of confusion she laughed. "Truthfully? I think you're too smart to risk it Jane. You know part of the reason you get away with half the stuff you do is because you're so pretty. No way you'd jeopardize that."

When she saw Jane's scandalized look she burst out laughing.

"Pretty?" he exclaimed, shocked.

"Come on now Jane, you've seen the way women look at you. It can hardly come as a surprise," she told him with a pat on the shoulder.

"You couldn't have come up with something slightly, I don't know, more masculine though?" he asked her petulantly.

"Didn't seem as appropriate," she told him easily. "Besides, you can't honestly tell me that you're insecure about your masculinity. Come on, you think it's funny when witnesses and suspects think you're gay!"

"That's different," he muttered to himself.

"I don't see why," Lisbon told him with a shrug.

No, she wouldn't, Jane thought to himself. But he shook off his annoyance, "So does that mean you think I'm pretty Agent Lisbon?"

Lisbon glanced at him sharply and told herself that she would not get flustered. "Oh, come off it Jane, you know you're attractive."

Ah, her cheeks were turning just the lightest shade of pink. Excellent. "That doesn't answer my question Lisbon," he pointed out.

He wouldn't let it go, would he? So she grinned, "I think you're a very pretty boy Jane," she told him. "I'd think you were prettier if you told me where we were going though."

His grin widened, "Divulging information makes me more attractive to you does it Lisbon? I'll have to keep that in mind." When she looked like she was gearing up for an irritated retort he spoke quickly to placate her. "Don't worry Lisbon, we're almost there."

She looked out of her window, but she didn't see anything particularly noteworthy. Realizing that questioning the man beside her would be pointless, she let out a sigh and leaned back into her seat, trying to relax. Hopefully whatever it was wouldn't be too bad.

A few minutes later Jane turned into a parking lot. "Here we are!" he exclaimed.

Lisbon glanced out the window. "Here" wasn't what she'd expected. Jane had pulled into the parking lot for a strip of larger box stores. There was a grocery store, some sort of party supplies store, a couple of clothing outlets, an electronics store and a bookstore down at the end. A bookstore which appeared to have several large banners outside the doors and a steady stream of women going in. And it was evidently exactly where they were going.

"Jane, what on earth…?" Lisbon started to ask. At that moment they got close enough to the store that she could read one of the banners: "Introducing Richard Castle's latest, In the Heat of the Night. Book Signing starts at 10:30." She sucked in a breath before she could stop herself and glanced quickly at the clock. It was just after eleven, which meant that the signing would probably still be going on. But how? Why? She glanced back at Jane who looked like the cat who caught the canary. "Jane… how? I mean…" she started.

Jane smiled, "Oh come now Lisbon, you didn't honestly think that I didn't know did you? You forget, I've been to your apartment, and that entire shelf of Castle hardcovers is kind of hard to miss. It's nothing to be embarrassed about," he told her. "I've read a couple myself, they're not bad, especially the sex scenes." He grinned when she dropped her head into her hands. "And besides Lisbon, it could have been worse; I could have found your secret stash of romance novels. Now let's go, I've always wanted to meet a famous author." And with that he was out of the car.

xxxxx

Kate Beckett was not having a good day. No, scratch that, she was not having a good week. How on earth had she let Castle talk her into this? Had this ever seemed like a good idea? She couldn't imagine a scenario where it could have… And she was pretty sure she hadn't been drunk when he'd asked her… Then she remembered, the mayor, Montgomery, good press for the NYPD, not to mention Castle's own excitement. All of that added up to her, Detective Katherine Beckett, accompanying one Richard Castle on a five-day book tour through California. Apparently his publicist thought it would boost sales if people could see the real-life Nikki Heat. Personally Beckett wasn't sure how her presence could possibly be helping. Still, the deal had come with a free trip to California. Which, now that she thought about it, was partly how she'd allowed herself to be talked into the whole five-day fiasco. She was wondering now if even the admittedly better weather made it worth all the hassle. It was day three and she already felt like shooting somebody.

For one, it was a media circus. At least she wasn't at the centre of it, but she'd had to make appearances and smile pretty, answering fan questions mostly, and signing the odd book (though she was trying to discourage that as much as possible). But she missed New York, she missed the quiet of her apartment, she missed her job, she just missed her life. She wasn't some prize to be puffed up and paraded around in front of everyone. Besides, Castle had some seriously deranged fans.

Okay, they weren't all deranged. Some of them were lovely, and sweet, or young and relatively innocent. And some of them seemed genuinely interested and impressed with her work and her job, so she knew the PR would be good, and her boss would be happy. But it was all a bit tiring. Which was why she was currently semi-hiding away from the main table, trying to divert as much attention away from herself.

The fact that Castle kept coming over to annoy her wasn't helping. She was actually impressed with how he dealt with his fans. Sure he flirted outrageously, and signed a few things (and body parts) that weren't exactly appropriate, but in general he was sweet and attentive, stopping to talk to everyone who came to see him. He really seemed to appreciate their role in his success. Unfortunately, he also seemed to appreciate her company.

He kept showing up at her side, drawing her back into conversation, bringing her back to people's attention. Or, if he wasn't doing that, he was sneaking up on her when she wasn't paying attention and scaring the crap out of her.

So Kate shouldn't have been surprised when she heard a voice in her ear, "I have to say Detective, this hiding spot is much better than your last one. You're probably not visible to at least half the room here."

Kate jumped, and then sighed. "Castle, if you don't stop that I'm going to kill you!"

But to Kate's surprise, the voice answering her wasn't the one she expected. "Careful, I'm technically off-duty, but murder's kind of hard to ignore and I'd hate to have to arrest you." Kate turned away from Castle's insanity to see a woman standing behind her a few inches shorter than herself with dark hair and an amused smirk.

Beckett found herself grinning back, "The way things have been going I'm almost guaranteed to get justifiable homicide, so you can enjoy your day off Officer..." she trailed off hoping for a name.

Lisbon was happy to supply one. "Agent actually," she said, holding out her hand to the other woman. "Agent Teresa Lisbon. I'm with the California Bureau of Investigation."

Kate took the other woman's hand and shook it with a smile, "Kate Beckett, NYPD," she told her.

"You're Nikki Heat," Lisbon said. It wasn't a question.

"I'm just the inspiration," Beckett was quick to correct. "I'm not Nikki Heat."

Castle chose that moment to rejoin the conversation, "Now there's no need to be modest Beckett. You're far more than just the inspiration for the character, you're my muse," he told her as he draped his left arm over her shoulders. Lisbon's smirk grew. "Richard Castle," he said, holding out his other hand to her.

"Theresa Lisbon," she said as she shook it. "I like your work."

"Castle," Kate warned through gritted teeth.

"Yes my dove?"

"What have I told you about calling me your muse?"

Castle responded happily, "That you'll break..." He paused considering, "I'll just be moving my arm now. Actually, I think I see my publicist gesturing frantically for me to get back over to the table." He squinted, "Well, either that or she's playing charades and the answer's The Wizard of Oz. That last one definitely looked like a flying monkey." Turning back to the two women, he added, "I'll just leave you two law enforcement ladies to your female bonding. It was lovely meeting you Agent Lisbon. You should stick around. If you don't, Beckett might just snap and kill someone like she's been threatening all day. Most likely me. Think of it as keeping the peace." With that he was gone.

"Told you, justifiable homicide," Kate remarked to Lisbon as she watched Castle hurry back towards his publicist.

"I've seen worse," Lisbon told her honestly.

"Really?" Kate asked, shocked and interested.

Lisbon gestured over her should where Jane was holding a group of children (and some of their parents) enthralled with a reading of Fox in Socks. "My consultant. He looks harmless now, but just you wait. At least you appear to get fun travel opportunities out of the deal. Mine's practically psychic, has a bit of a love-hate relationship with the law and enjoys causing as much trouble as possible. If he gets out of here without someone physically attacking him I'll be happy."

Kate laughed. "So why do you keep him around?"

Lisbon shrugged, "He closes cases."

Kate looked around surreptitiously. Castle was busy signing books for adoring fans. After her original appearance there wasn't really much more for her to do. She just had to stay in the building to keep Montgomery happy. "Hey, you want to pull up a chair? After a couple of days of this I could use a bit of sensible conversation."

Lisbon smirked, "You sure there's nothing you have to be doing?"

Kate shook her head, "Nah. I make an appearance at the start, and then hang around so people know I exist basically. The less I have to do the better in my opinion. But it's good publicity for the department so my boss insists. If you're worried about getting a book signed, I'll make Castle write whatever you want in the thing if you stay and make this day somewhat more tolerable."

"Well, with an offer like that, how can I refuse Detective?"

xxxxx

Jane was separated from Lisbon almost immediately once they got in the bookstore. Well, okay, so he wasn't so much separated as he wandered off. He wasn't actually all that interested in getting a book signed by Richard Castle. Sure, the guy wasn't that bad, but Jane didn't care enough to stand in line with a bunch of infatuated middle-aged women just for a signature. He was far more interested in helping distract some of the other patrons who cared as much about Castle as he did. Plus, he'd always had a soft spot for Dr. Seuss.

Still, he kept an eye out for Lisbon. He was mildly shocked when she appeared to strike up a friendship with the woman Jane could only assume was Richard Castle's latest inspiration. Not that Jane could blame the other man for his taste. Even from across the store it was obvious that the woman was uncommonly attractive. Given that she and Lisbon seemed to be getting along rather well, it was probablyalso a fair bet that she was relatively intelligent, and given her facial expressions and body language, probably fairly good humoured, even if she wasn't exactly pleased with her surroundings. The writer himself on the other hand, seemed perfectly at ease, even if Jane noticed his eyes straying to the two women sitting off to the side from time to time. He wondered idly exactly what the relationship between writer and inspiration was. He grinned to himself, now that could be fun…

He noticed that the crowd was thinning and figured the signing was about to come to an end. With a smile he bid all of his new friends (and their parents) a quick goodbye, before heading off to a table in the corner of the room.

xxxxx

"…so then we walked into the bar, and I was just standing there calmly waiting for the barfight to finish, when next thing I know Castle's somehow managed to get punched in the face just standing there. Course then I had to cuff the guy. But it turned out to be handy, because he'd apparently been stalking our vic for a couple of days anyways. Not that Castle pressed charges in the end," Kate told Lisbon with a grin.

"Oh of course not." Lisbon agreed laughing. "Great aren't they? Jane's still been punched in the face more times."

Kate nodded, "Yeah, but you two have been working together for years now. Give Castle time and he might catch up."

Jane decided that his cue, "Oh I don't know. According to Agent Lisbon here, I have quite the talent for irritating people and getting punched in the face."

Beckett turned towards the stranger smiling. She was hit full force by one of Patrick Jane's more charming smiles. Well, Agent Lisbon certainly hadn't been kidding about the man's charm. Kate could see keeping someone like him around, at least for a little while, not that she had any plans to tell him that of course. "From what I hear you deserve it," she told him, toning down her smile a notch.

Jane shrugged and let his smile widen, "Possibly."

Lisbon rolled her eyes. "Detective Kate Beckett, Patrick Jane, my pain in the ass consultant," she introduced.

Jane held out his hand immediately, "Lovely to make your acquaintance Detective."

"Nice to meet you," Kate said as she shook his hand. Lisbon's been telling me all about you. 'We've been trading stories of our consultants," she said gesturing towards the table where Castle was wrapping up his last books signing and moving towards the three of them.

"I'm sure you have a lot of them," Jane replied, noticing that the writer was probably close enough now to hear the conversation.

"Well, they've kept us occupied for almost an hour now," Kate pointed out. "I'm at a bit of a disadvantage of course because the arrangement between Castle and I is only temporary," she said, catching the writer's eye behind her and shooting him a half a grin, which the man immediately returned.

"Interesting..." Jane said, as he took her hand in both of his.

"What's interesting?" Kate asked, trying to ignore the fact that a near-stranger was still holding onto one of her hands.

"Don't ask," Lisbon warned her

"Okaaaayyyy..." Kate said slowly, looking at Jane sideways.

Jane finally decided to let go of her hand with a mischievous grin. "Despite the lovely Agent Lisbon's warning you're still curious though aren't you Kate? Do you mind if I call you Kate?" He didn't wait for an answer, amused when the writer stepped closer to her, his instinct to protect. Like this woman needed protection. Still, Jane supposed the intent was admirable. "But you'll never ask. You don't trust me."

"Of course I don't trust you," Kate told him. "I don't know you and from what I've heard, you're probably about to try and pry into my life."

"Ah, but you trust Lisbon." Jane pointed out. "At least enough to put some credence into her assertion that you probably don't want to hear whatever I'm about to tell you. That's interesting Kate. I think you've got trust issues. Not quite as bad as Lisbon's of course, but trust issues none the less." Lisbon shot him a glare at that. Jane ignored it.

Kate was amused, "Do I?"

Jane nodded decisively, ignoring her amusement. "Yes, you do. And with some justification I think… Detective, you're a good cop, a very good cop even, one might even say extraordinary," he added with a smirk, amused when her mouth tightened. "And you're smart. But you're not as put together as you like to project. Something in your past... violent death of a loved one perhaps?" He watched her reaction closely, noticing when her eyes went cold. "Yes, definitely violent death of a loved one. A parent. I'd guess a mother. But not recently. And you're still dealing with it. And you're terrified of getting hurt like that again. So you keep people at a distance. Including a man that part of you wants to trust so very badly. I'm guessing he means more to you than you're letting on. And there's more to it than the attraction you deny so constantly. So yes, you're interesting."

Kate froze momentarily, but she quickly summoned a neutral expression onto her face. She ignored Jane and turned to Lisbon. "At least when mine does something like that he has the decency to look apologetic afterwards," she remarked cooly, pointedly ignoring Jane to his further amusement.

Castle watched in fascination. He was torn between wanting to shake the blond man's hand repeatedly in thanks for the second half of his analysis and wanting to punch him in the face for the first (and he was actually pretty sure he could actually take this guy without Beckett's help. If Agent Lisbon decided to get involved though all bets were off. Despite her size the Agent looked like she could take a man down with ease. A fight between her and Beckett now… Ooh…). Castle shook himself and turned his attention back to the conversation at hand.

"Yeah, well, if you can get Jane to behave like a normal human being, let me in on the secret would you?" Lisbon told her in irritation. "Jane stop showing off and leave the nice detective alone or you can go have lunch on your own."

"Oh, are we having lunch together?" Jane asked cheerfully.

"Well, I asked Agent Lisbon if she wanted to join Castle and me," Beckett told him pointedly. "You on the other hand…"

Jane tried to pout, but he could see that it was having no effect on the New York cop. He turned to Lisbon.

"What do you want me to do?" she said, before he could ask. "I certainly can't blame the Detective for not wanting you to join us for lunch."

"Not without an apology at least," Castle said, shooting Beckett a grin. He wasn't sure he approved of this other man, but it would make for a more interesting lunch. "Rick Castle," he said holding out his hand in introduction.

"Oh I know," Jane told him. "Your face is on half the surfaces in this room." And the
the man definitely wasn't bothered by that. "Patrick Jane," he added as an afterthought, noting that the man's eyes widened in recognition, though he didn't say anything. "I'm Agent Lisbon's irritating consultant."

"Ah," Castle said, before lapsing into silence and standing next to his Detective.

Jane glanced between the two of them realizing that the man hadn't been kidding about the apology. Detective Beckett was looking at him expectantly, Castle was smirking, and Lisbon looked like she was having the time of her life. Jane sighed. "I apologize Detective. My comments, although correct, were inappropriate. May I please accompany you to lunch?"

Jane thought his delivery had been rather charming, although Detective Beckett didn't seem to be particularly impressed. She glanced at both Lisbon and Castle, before answering, "Alright, you can come. But do that again and the amount of time since you've been punched in the face'll be back to zero before you know it."

"Sure thing Kate," he said with a grin.

She sighed, "I've just got to get my bag, I'll meet you guys at the door."

As she turned Kate noticed Castle was still hovering around her. When he was sure the two CBI employees were out of earshot, he leaned in to whisper in her ear, "So, denying the attraction huh?"

Beckett shot him a glare that could have frozen hell, if he hadn't already been amused. "A word of advice Castle? Shut up, or you'll be the one who gets punched in the nose."

"I thought you preferred tweaking," he told her. "And 'apples' is still my safe word."

Kate whipped around, but Castle was not an idiot, and he'd moved away quickly enough to ensure that he was out of her smacking radius. Kate shot him another glare before stalking off after Agent Lisbon, muttering under her breath the unfairness of having to deal with two annoying consultants on a trip that was supposed to have been a bit of a break.

Jane watched her storm off in appreciation, the woman was attractive when she was angry. A bit confrontational, but still quite lovely. He ambled over to the writer, who was busying himself collecting his own things. "A word of advice, if I may," Jane told him. "She might actually believe you were serious about her if you ever actually got the guts to man up and tell her how you feel without acting like a six year old on the playground. Not to mention she thinks you just want her for her body, and that fictional character of yours. Just thought you'd like to know." And with that parting shot he walked over to the pair of women waiting at the door, confident that Agent Lisbon would be able to put the Detective back into a good mood. She was good at soothing ruffled feathers.

Castle watched the other man go in shock. Great, now he really wasn't sure whether he wanted to hit the other man or not. Patrick Jane was clearly not as infallible as he liked to believe. Beckett didn't think he just wanted her for her body.

Did she?

xxxxx

Despite the rocky start, lunch went rather smoothly. Although that may have been helped along by the fact that Kate made sure to position herself as far away from Jane as possible, and by Lisbon's threat to set fire to his couch if he wasn't civil. Lisbon liked the other woman quite a bit, and wouldn't mind keeping in touch after she left California. Besides, she was going to have lunch with one of her favourite authors and she didn't need Jane causing a scene.

Jane for his part, had apparently decided to behave, and turned his talents towards amusing his companions as opposed to annoying. Eventually even Beckett was able to relax a little and let herself enjoy his antics. Lisbon managed to get her book signed (although Kate refused to co-sign on the grounds that if they were going to keep in touch that would be creepy) and Castle was fascinated by Jane and his abilities, asking him tireless questions.

"Shopping for a new inspiration?" Jane asked, his grin widening when he noticed the good Detective glance over sharply.

Castle just laughed and leaned back in his chair with a shrug. "I'm always looking for new book ideas Patrick, but I'm pretty locked into Nikki Heat. This is only the first book in a three book deal. But you never know, there's always the opportunity for a subplot on a case or something."

"Are you telling me I'm going to have to deal with him on the page too on top of it all?" Kate asked dryly.

Castle grinned, "No Detective, not you, Nikki Heat."

Kate just rolled her eyes, "Uh huh. Well, as long as he's not a love interest," she told him.

"I was thinking maybe a villain," Castle admitted cheerfully.

Lisbon nearly spit out her coffee, and had to be patted on the back by Jane.

"That would mean she outsmarts him," Lisbon pointed out.

Castle's grin just grew, "Exactly."

xxxxx

The meal ended with the two men fighting over who was going to get the check. Beckett and Lisbon were more than willing to let them. Jane suggested rock, paper, scissors, but Castle refused to play any game where nonverbal cues could be an issue. Eventually they decided to split the bill down the middle, and stood to go pay the hostess.

"God, I thought they would never stop," Lisbon remarked.

"Me neither. I'm actually kind of surprised by Castle's insistence though."

"Really?" Lisbon asked.

"Yeah," Kate murmured. "He's usually pretty free from all that macho crap. It's one of his better qualities."

"Is it now?" Lisbon asked in amusement. She couldn't blame Jane for what had obviously been an attempt at giving these two a push. Not the method she would have chosen, but still, it wasn't the worst idea in the world.

"Yeah," Kate admitted before changing the subject. "I still don't know how you work with him."

"Who Jane?" Lisbon asked. "He's useful, and I've gotten used to it. It's kind of fun sometimes actually. I still consider investing in a shock collar every so often."

"Tell me about it," Beckett agreed.

xxxxx

Castle and Jane were standing at the counter, waiting for the hostess to come back with the newly divided bill. "I know who you are, you know." Castle told the other man suddenly. Jane didn't reply so Castle shrugged apologetically before ploughing on, "Comes with the territory I guess. For what it's worth I'm sorry."

Jane just nodded.

If Castle was put out by his companion's silence he didn't show it. "The say you're determined to catch the guy who did it. You sure you want to do that?"

Jane, realizing that the other man probably wouldn't be stopping anytime soon, decided to break his silence. "He killed my family. Besides, what's it to you?" Before Castle could answer Jane kept going, "Anyways I would point out that one could see the same about your pretty partner. You think she doesn't think about the fact that her mother's killer's still at large almost every day? You don't think it shapes her life?"

Castle didn't even bother to ask how Jane knew that Beckett's mother's killer had never been caught. "Oh, I know it does. Difference is she doesn't let it consume her, and if she ever caught whoever's responsible, she's not out for revenge, not Beckett, she'll deal with them legally."

Jane sighed, that was probably true, even if it killed her. "Good for her," he said woodenly.

But Castle kept going, "I only brought it up, well, because it's one hell of a story isn't it?"

"Glad I could amuse you," Jane replied, beginning to get really annoyed by the man's sheer temerity.

"Oh, I'm not amused, believe me," Castle told him. Jane glanced at the other man. Castle was telling the truth, wasn't amused at all. But he also wasn't finished. "It's not amusement, no. But stories are kind of my thing. I admit I have a writer's interest, always want to tell the end of a good one, find a way to make it interesting. It's another occupational hazard."

Jane laughed mirthlessly, "Well, how 'bout this? When it's done I'll let you write it."

But Castle just shook his head, "Thanks, but I don't do true crime. Bad experience, long story. And I actually don't need to hear the ending thanks. I figure you've got two main options here. The first, and if you'll forgive me, the one that you seem to be gearing up for, is the epic revenge saga: A man's family is tragically stolen from him, but he can't let it go. So he devotes the rest of his life to catching their psychotic killer out of self-loathing at guilt, immersing himself in a world of superficiality, lies and games. He makes friends, well, not friends, not really friends, connections, shall we say. After all, they're only there to help him achieve his goal. And he uses that. And one day he manages to do it. The madman slips up. And the man catches him, catches him and kills him. And he delights in doing it. But what's the cost? His life? His soul? His freedom? His partner's trust?" Castle shrugged. "Stories never end well for people out for vengeance. Of course, there's always option B, we'll call it the epic friendship for now. Sometime along the way on his murderous path he meets a good woman. Not a saint, no not by any means. She's certainly not easy, but she's strong. Strong enough to put up with him. And she yanks him back to the land of the living, saves him by the sheer force of her will, at least that's what he thinks sometimes. And in the end she helps him catch his nemesis, but not at the expense of his soul. Between them they strike a balance, and justice is served."

By this time Castle was looking at the other man who was looking right back, his expression carefully blank. He certainly was a piece of work, Castle thought to himself. "Call me a romantic, but I prefer ending B. Makes for a better story. Less depressing too." He paused, and asked lightly, as if he was changing the subject. "Agent Lisbon's quite the woman isn't she?" He almost laughed when the other man glanced at him sharply. At that moment the cashier returned with his credit card receipt to sign. Castle signed it with a flourish and shot her a smile. "Well, think about it. I'm going to head back to the ladies." The writer walked away, made it about two steps before turning back around, "Oh and Jane?"

"Mmh?" Jan e asked. What could the man possibly want now? To his shock, the writer's face was deadly serious.

"Pull something like that on Beckett again and I will personally see that you'll regret it. She's another good woman, and she doesn't deserve to have you dabbling in her personal life for your own amusement," Castle told him quietly.

His words surprised Jane, at least they pulled him out of his funk. "You're going to see to it?"

"Yup." Castle told him.

"Going to talk me to death?" Jane asked.

"Nope," Castle admitted readily. "I'm a writer remember? I know that too much exposition and not enough action often leads to many an otherwise foolproof plan derailed. No, there'll be no warning, just something unpleasant coming your way in the dead of night."

"Out for revenge?" Jane asked him sarcastically.

"I prefer to think of myself as more of a knight protector," Castle admitted.

"And Detective Beckett's your damsel in distress?" Jane asked him skeptically.

"Don't be ridiculous. And don't ever tell her you said that," Castle told the other man quickly. She's obviously my knight protector. But every so often I get a chance to return the favour."

Jane grinned, "And what if someone else swoops in in the meantime, and seduces her away from you?" he asked.

Castle shrugged, "Then someone else swoops in." He wouldn't like it, but he had no claim on her.

"I could do it you know," Jane told him arrogantly. Richard Castle needed to be taken down a peg in his opinion.

"No you couldn't." Castle told the man honestly, no trace of arrogance. Jane was forced to admit that might be true. "But even if you could, it's not my place to say anything. She's got her own life."

"Oh get your head out of your ass," Jane told him. "You're being an idiot."

"Maybe," Castle admitted. "But I also know her better than you do. Although, if you do decide to try and seduce her, could you do me a favour?"

"What?" Jane asked, curious.

"Let me know in advance so I can videotape it on my phone?" Castle asked eagerly. "Her partners back in New York would pay big money to see Beckett smack you around a little."

The two men turned when they heard Lisbon's laughter echo through the restaurant and something Beckett had said.

"Bet option B's looking better and better all the time," Castle said with a grin before heading back to the table.

xxxxx

Laughing at Kate's stories of epic gummy-worm poker games, and thinking of the Jane equivalent (winning hundreds of thousands of dollars from a casino), Lisbon couldn't help but smile. Then she realized the guys had been gone a while. "Uh oh," she said.

"What?" Kate asked, suddenly concerned. With Castle around that was never a good sign. She was still waiting the day that a sword-fight or something equally ridiculous broke out.

"Looks like some sort of idiot testosterone fueled competition's going on over there," the other woman told her.

Kate glanced over her shoulder, "Oh god, I so don't want to know."

Lisbon sized up the situation at a glance, "You might. Looks like your writer friend's jumped to your defense."

"My defense?" Kate asked shocked. "Why would he need to do that?"

Lisbon shrugged, "For what Jane said earlier I guess. Sorry about that by the way."

But Beckett just waved off the apology, "Not your fault. But… you think Castle's, yeah, I guess he might in that situation."

"Hmm?" Lisbon asked.

Kate sighed, "Let's just say he's learned his lesson about prying into my past."

Lisbon nodded, "Wish I could say the same. I'm sorry about your mother by the way."

"Thanks."

"I mean it," Lisbon told her truthfully. "I lost my mother pretty young too. I know what it's like."

Kate looked at the other woman, measuring her expression. Finally she nodded. "Yeah. Thanks. And you know, you too."

"Yeah," Lisbon said with a half-smile. Then forcing more brightness into her tone she asked, "So you think we're going to have to go separate the boys?"

Kate sighed before glancing over, "Nah, looks like they're on their way over. We're probably fine."

To Kate's surprise, Jane walked over and put a hand on her shoulder blades. Lisbon resisted the urge to roll her eyes, settling for hoping Castle didn't take the bait. "Well, looks like we're good to go, unless anyone wants more coffee." Jane told Beckett. "Or are you finished Detective? After all, you need to get the full California experience," he added with his most charming smile.

Kate wasn't sure what he was doing, but she just shrugged it off; his smile was unnerving at times. "No, I'm fine thanks." Then she stood and moved out of his touch, turning towards Castle, who had returned with their coats and was holding hers up to help her with it. "Thanks Castle," she told him.

"No problem Detective," he said, handing Lisbon her coat. "I saved you the cherry candy," he added, handing his muse the foil-wrapped sweet that had come with the bill. Kate took it happily. Castle turned to Lisbon, "Would you prefer grape or orange?" he asked her seriously.

Lisbon just laughed before taking one and tossing the other to Jane.

Castle walked back over to Beckett, placing a hand on the small of her back to lead her out of the restaurant, raising his eyebrow over her shoulder at Jane while he did it.

Jane was forced (at least mentally) to admit defeat.

Ah well, he hadn't really wanted to seduce her anyways. It'd been more about proving that he could.

xxxxx

The four parted ways outside the restaurant. Beckett and Lisbon had already exchanged cards with phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Castle and Jane had not. "Well, it was lovely meeting you Agent Lisbon," Castle told her, as he shook her hand one last time. "Have fun keeping this one in line," he said gesturing to Jane.

"Oh, I do alright," Lisbon told him. "But thank you. It was nice meeting you too. And thanks for signing my book."

"Of course," Castle said with a grin. "Always nice to meet a fan. Just ask Beckett," he added, before turning to Jane. "Mr. Jane," he added, offering him a hand.

"Mr. Castle," Jane replied, with just the hint of a smile, before addressing Beckett. "Detective, despite a rocky start it has been a pleasure."

"It's been interesting alright," Beckett told him. But she did take his hand, and she smiled when she did it.

"Bye Agent Lisbon, thanks for making the morning tolerable. If you're ever in New York…" Beckett told the other woman with a wave.

"Hey, if you're ever back in California let me know. Maybe a future book tour…" Lisbon added.

Kate sighed, "Somehow I doubt it, but we'll see."

With a final goodbye Castle and Beckett finally left.

Lisbon grinned as she watched the pair from New York walk away. "They are good together you know."

Jane shrugged, "They'd be better If only they'd get over themselves."

Lisbon glanced back at him, "Still, when I heard Richard Castle had found a new muse, well, I wondered... I mean, his books are great but he does have a bit of a reputation after all. But, he really appreciates her and for all her complaining you can tell that she likes having him around. It's nice to see." Then she gave herself a bit of a shake, "Come on, let's go. I still need to clean my house."

To her surprise Jane grabbed her forearm, and turned her back towards him. "You're appreciated Lisbon," he said quietly.

She looked at him surprised. "Thanks," she said just as quietly.

Jane smiled at her then, a genuine smile. But it quickly turned mischievous, "And I already know that you like having me around," he added.

"Oh yeah, you're wonderful," Lisbon told him good naturedly. "So what'd you and Castle talk about?" she asked him curiously.

Jane glanced at her, "Oh," he said airly, "Guy stuff. You know, male bonding. Couldn't possibly tell you."

Lisbon just snorted. Yeah, right. Male bonding. "Probably just as well that lunch's over. You never would have been able to seduce her anyways. And it might have caused a scene."

Jane's eyes widened, before he shrugged his shoulders. "No, probably not. So what'd you and Detective Beckett talk about while we were getting lunch? Girl talk?"

Lisbon laughed, "Well, we started out with hair tips, then we moved on to whether capital punishment is actually a deterrent, the best ways to make an arrogant misogynistic cop cry, and finished with the best way of tackling someone without breaking a nail. Typical girl stuff."

Jane nodded seriously, his eyes twinkling, "And what is the best way of tackling someone while protecting your nails?"

"Keep the damn things short enough that it's not an issue in the first place," she retorted.

Jane just laughed and led her back to the car. She was definitely one of a kind.

xxxxx

Beckett and Castle were making their way back to their hotel. "Well, that was fun," Castle told her.

"Yeah," Kate agreed. "She's great. And he, well he's interesting."

"Hey Beckett?" Castle asked suddenly.

"Yeah?" she replied, turning to face him.

"I just wanted to thank you for coming on the book tour with me. I mean, I know they can be tiresome. And I know you don't like the spotlight, but I really appreciate it," he told her.

Kate was unprepared for the seriousness of the discussion. Although, to be honest, serious-Castle almost always caught her off-guard. "You're welcome. And hey, I got a free trip out of the deal, and made a friend, so it wasn't all bad."

"Still, I appreciate the company. I've never really liked doing them alone, and Alexis hates missing all the school. So I'm glad you came," he told her.

"Well," she said trying to play it off with a joke, "I am the inspiration for Nikki Heat."

"Yes you are," he admitted. "But it's Kate Beckett I'd like to take out to dinner tonight after the second signing this afternoon, unless she has other plans."

Kate paused, unsure, so Castle continued. "Come on Kate. Let me take you out as a thank-you. I found this great Mexican place the last time I was here. It's practically a hole in the wall so the press won't find us. It's not fancy; you don't have to dress up. We'll get tacos, it'll be fun. Please? I'll have been signing autographs for four hours straight. I'm sure I'll be in the mood for some normal conversation. Even I'll tell you the story of the naked horseback riding."

"The naked horseback riding story on a police horse," Kate clarified. "Okay, Castle. I'll let you take me out for dinner," she said with a smile.

"Good," he told her. "Now I'm off to go sign the books of hundreds of adoring women."

"Yes, your life is tough," Kate told him dryly. "I don't know how you deal with it all."

Castle shrugged, "Well, the top of the line laser tag certainly helps…"

xxxxx

The end

I warned you it was fluffy!