"I have to go to California."
NYPD Detective Kate Beckett looked up at her pseudo partner with a perfectly cocked eyebrow. "Um… Okay…"
"Book stuff," Richard Castle explained airily.
"Have a good trip?" Kate replied, her statement really more of a question. She had no idea why he was telling her this, no idea why he was mentioning it to her. Nor, for that matter, why he actually sounded apprehensive about it.
If she was honest, which, these days, she really wasn't while the sun was out and she was in public, she'd actually gotten kind of comfortable with the idea of Castle shadowing her and fuelling ideas for Nikki Heat. It freaked her out sometimes, when she came up in a Page Six article – which, of course, she never read, just heard about – or when someone stopped her on the street to ask, but all in all, she had to admit, she had come to terms with being the muse for an author. In fact, as she Heat Wave and now Summer Heat, she discovered that even knowing herself, she was spellbound by the stories Castle was able to weave.
"I want you to come with me."
Her pen dropped, her eyes widening in absolute shock. "You want me to what?"
"Come with me," he repeated, and suddenly his apprehension made perfect sense. "To California."
Kate rolled her eyes. "Castle, I'm not going to get on a plane to California to play your Nikki Heat, okay?"
"Well, Detective Beckett, I didn't know you were in to role play," he responded with that little bit of Castle flare.
"Wouldn't you like to know," she shot back, unable to keep in the secretive tilt of her lips.
"Oh, you have no idea." His face sobered quickly. "Who said anything about playing Nikki Heat? I may have to go for my books, but you wouldn't be coming as my arm candy."
Her eyebrow arched elegantly. "Then I don't get it."
He plopped down into his chair. "You need a vacation."
"No, I don't."
"Yes, you do. You sit here, day in and day out, bodies piling up around you… Even the strongest detectives need some R&R, Detective. And what better place is there than California? Sun, sand, beaches…"
"And rabid fangirls, not to mention the media. I'm not going, Castle."
"Hear me out," he virtually begged, following her as she stood and headed for the breakroom and coffee. "You won't even have to come to anything, should you so choose."
That stopped her. "I don't get it."
"Kate," he began, and she deliberately ignored the warmth her first name evoked. "You need a vacation. Ryan and Esposito know it, Captain Montgomery knows it, heck, Alexis and my mother know it. Since I have to go to California, I figured it would be a good opportunity for you to go somewhere for a while on someone else's dime."
Kate snorted. "First of all, I do not need you to pay for a vacation. Second of all, I do not need a vacation."
Okay, the last part was a lie. She couldn't remember the last time she'd gone home without simply crashing. Things had been busy and when she had free time, she spent it filling out paperwork or something equally as mundane. She actually hadn't even had time to read her own advance copy of Summer Heat, even though this time, Castle had made very sure she was the first one with a copy.
"It's not about me paying for your vacation, it's about taking a break, reading a book, relaxing in the sun, going to the spa…"
That sounded stupidly tempting. He was wearing her down and doing a damned good job of it too. He seemed to know exactly which buttons to push, exactly what she was yearning for. She eyed him warily, aware that he could tell he was slowly persuading her that she could take time away from death, murder and mayhem.
"You won't have to come to anything, though you're always invited if you should so choose. You can spend your days on the beach, get a massage, get a tan, and come back refreshed. No media, no fans, no Nikki Heat."
Kate cocked her head to the side. "It sounds like you really want me to come, Castle. If I didn't know better, I'd say you liked me."
"Oh, Detective Beckett," he drawled. "I do like you."
Her lips twitched before she looked at him seriously. "You promise no appearances?"
"I swear. You don't have a contract, you're not obliged to do anything you don't want to." Castle paused. "There is one condition."
Well, she had to give him points for telling her now, before she agreed to anything. "I'm listening."
"You're not allowed to say 'no'." At her arched eyebrow he hastily continued. "Within reason, of course."
Kate chewed the inside of her lip. The idea of a sunny California beach sounded absolutely heavenly. So did a spa and honestly, some time to read and step away from the job. She couldn't remember the last time she took a vacation and wasn't even sure she knew how. But Lanie had been bothering her about getting some time off and she knew she'd probably been working herself a little too hard. It would be taking time out for herself, something she rarely did.
"If I say no?" she finally said, unwilling to give in that easily.
The spark in Castle's eyes told her he was on to her. "Then I'll pester you until you do."
"You can't annoy me onto a trip, Castle."
"I'll talk to Captain Montgomery."
"You're showing your hand early."
"Hazard of the job."
She paused for a moment, then said, "Okay."
"Okay? That's it?"
"You'll come to California with me?"
"No appearances, right?"
He nodded swiftly.
"I can do whatever I want, whenever I want?"
Castle nodded again.
"And the only condition is that, within reason, I can't say 'no'."
She shrugged. "Then I don't see the harm."
"Yes!" There was bright glee on his face and Kate was actually taken aback. She'd assumed that this was nothing much, just another way to annoy her, and maybe just because he could. Plus, it wasn't like they were actually going to be together at all. He'd be so busy with his book that she'd have all of the week to herself, enough time to relax and decompress before coming back to the job. And even Kate had to admit, as much as he annoyed the hell out of her on a regular basis, she wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"There's one more thing," he said, and she was immediately on guard by the sheepish tone of his voice.
"We leave tomorrow."
I decided to wait until the end here to do my little rant.
First off, this is my first foray into the Castle fandom. Criminal Minds is my usual home, but thanks to SignedSealedWritten, I'm addicted to yet another show.
Second, updating may not be as consistent as we'd all like. This is meant to be a WIP but I'm in my fourth year of university trying to get my applications for grad school in. Real life gets in the way of writing on a semi-regular basis, but this one bit me hard so hopefully it won't be months in between updates.
Third, I'm a terrible person for starting another new story, I just couldn't NOT do this one!
Fourth, yes, I'm aware that the likelihood of Kate giving in to a vacation this easily is slim to none. Closer to none than slim too. Bear with me. There's a reason I'm sending them both off to the west coast.
Lastly, review? Please? I'd really appreciate it. More than you could know.