Can I just begin by saying, Wow?!? XD THANK YOU SO MUCH, everyone who loved/reviewed "Keep Your Finger On The Pulse." Know why I'm thanking you? Not only because those reviews made my day(s), but also because, you guys are what inspired me to write a companion piece. The other side of Esposito's sick day. ^^ (I thought about just uploading this as a second chapter of "KYFotP," but I decided I like these better as a matching pair of stand-alone oneshots. Kinda like a certain cop duo. ;) )

So. Let's see what was going on around the same time that Espo was doped out on Ny-Quil. Since the first oneshot started out from Esposito's POV, guess whose POV this one starts with. ^^ Yep, the other partner. (If you were thinking Lanie, just wait, I'm getting there. xD )

Without further ado, as Castle would say. ^^ Enjoy.



Along with the myriad of things there were to love about New York City, there was an accompanying list of things to hate, and the latter list was scary-long. Like, longer than your arm. As in, for a totally non-biased example, the wack-job who'd decided it would be a good idea to murder his ex-wife by dragging her through the Hudson, poison his boss, then carefully scrap all the evidence and come up with phony-but-plausible alibis, making it impossible to convict him. For every respect-earning tramp and troubadour out there just trying to make a name for themselves, there was some jerk-off who was just plain inconsiderate.

In short terms, all of that meant that Detective Kevin Ryan's morning had just gotten a lot longer. Especially since his partner---in both police work and low-stakes bets over Monday night Madden---had decided to take a mental health day…. All right, just a health day. Whichever way you spun it, the stack of folders on Ryan's desk wasn't getting any shorter.

"How goes the valiant solo mission, Detective?"

Ryan turned around in his chair, switching his caffeine-enabled ice-blue gaze from the seven-zillionth page of Folder One to the face of Det. Kate Beckett. Both her polka-dotted 'Innocent Bystander' mug and her slight sisterly smirk were ever-present.

"Less than valiant. I almost feel bad for monopolizing the gaiety," Ryan deadpanned.

"I take it our suspect's got an elusive rap sheet?"

"Oh, he'd make Houdini wanna take notes."

"Hang in there," Beckett offered with a hint of a smile. "I'll make sure Esposito knows exactly what he's missing out on."

"And suffers?" Ryan and sarcasm were clearly good pals.

"I think it'll do the job," Kate returned. Giving him a pat on the shoulder, she made her way across the bullpen to interrogate a witness.

That was Kevin's universal cue to get back to working, and he did, for about three more hours. Okay, so it was possible that half of one of those hours was spent standing at the cappuccino machine with Castle, debating whether or not their suspect had a psychopathic obsession with Sid Vicious…and then just debating Sid Vicious. A power-glare from Beckett got everybody back on track real well.

The clock spun as usual. Sometime after the little hand hit the 'eleven' and Ryan's hand started twitching, another familiar figure showed up next to his desk. Ryan didn't look up, for fear of having the same effect happen to him that happened to vampires in the daylight. "If it's more death, leave a message after my suicidal shrieking," he said.

He looked up after a smack grazed the back of his head, though. "Easy, Scream, I'm just here for your keys."

Ohh, mild abuse aside, now he was intrigued. Kevin looked up from his work and spun around in his chair, crossing his arms and giving Lanie The Violent M.E. an amused half-smirk and turn of the eyebrows. "You need my keys," he repeated.

"Just the one to Esposito's apartment---I know you two got that whole little 'Odd Couple' thing goin' on. Hand over, please."

This just kept getting better and better! "Why would you need a key to Espo's apartment?" His quick-spreading grin spoke volumes about how much he wasn't going to let her off that easy.

Lanie crossed her arms right back, her face saying something between 'just throw me a bone, here' and 'don't make me kill you, whiteboy.' "Beckett needs somebody to run him a copy of our poison vic's tox report. Okay?"

"And this 'somebody' is you."

"You got a problem with that?"

"Why do you need the key? Can't you just press the buzzer?"

"The buzzer'll wake him if he's asleep."

"Aww, that's sweet! How maternal."

"I will smack you."

Ryan shook his head, milking the moment. "I'm sorry---did I hear you ask me for my keys? What? Ohhh, that's right, I don't think I did."

The 'don't make me kill you' look was getting stronger. "May I please borrow the key to Esposito's apartment?"

"All right, that was a good start…now, I'm thinking, how about…'Can I please borrow your keys to the apartment, O Illustriously Brilliant Sir Ryan.'"

The M.E. hit the bottom of the patience barrel. "I got your 'Sir Ryan' right here if you don't hand me over the keys."

Ryan decided against extending the banter, fun though it was, and reached down to the hook under his desk for the key to his precinct locker, doing so with a shrug. Hey, if he were the one hacking up corpses for a living, he'd want to get out once in a while too. No matter how useless the errand.

"My locker, 2-4-1," he explained. "Keys are in my left coat pocket." He dangled the locker key from its ring on one finger, shaking said finger out a bit when Lanie snatched it off.

"Thank you. I'm not gonna find any sappy 'love notes' from Jenny in there, am I?"

Ryan's expression said he was not amused at the sarcasm. The coroner's said otherwise. "No, I think all she did today was pack my lunch and cut the crust off my sandwich in little heart shapes."

Lanie gave him a look, shaking her head and chuckling to herself as she walked away. "Got a Supermom girlfriend and still leaves the house lookin' like that."

Needless to say, Kevin's next bout of procrastination with Castle at the coffee machine was not over Sid Vicious, but over exactly what was wrong with this tie.




The following day, everything, of course, was back to normal. Everybody was back where they had to be, the normal pecking order of business was restored, certain detectives stopped complaining about their doubled workload, and this case, like all the others, was brought to a close, closing the work week along with it.

Like every Friday night, the Soho House on Ninth was almost as jumping as some of the hottest clubs in the district, but with half the bass reverb, and a lot fewer high-school kids trying to sneak in past the velvet ropes. On top of that, they served an appletini that packed a wallop. Smooth, but just strong enough to fuzz the edges of whatever problems you had that week.

The drink must have been taking its effect on the M.E. already, because she had to snap her gaze to attention when she heard, "Lanie."


Kate Beckett sat across from her, as she did every Friday night---at least, every Friday night that the psychos decided to stay home and play Yahtzee. It was a 'best friend' thing; as was the look on Beckett's face as she leaned forward a bit, forearms resting on the edge of the table, fingertips keeping a loose hold on her condensing glass of Jack and Coke. "What's with you? You okay?"

Was she okay. Well, that was a matter of debate. Her mental health could probably use a checkup. "Me? Girl, please. Why wouldn't I be?"

A smirk grazed Kate's lips. "Maybe because you've been staring into space for the last five minutes."

"It has not been five minutes."

"So I rounded up. Sue me."

"Kate. C'mon."

"Lanie. C'mon. Tell me."

Oh, just tell her? Just let her know what was going on in that screwed-up head of hers? Psh. Like it was that easy. How was she supposed to do that? How was she supposed to look her best friend---a savvy, take-no-prisoners, point-running cop---in the eye, and just casually blurt out that maybe she couldn't stop thinking about one of her best detectives? Who also happened to be like an older brother to said cop, by the way, to make things even more festive. Mm-mm, nuh-uh. There were so many ways for this situation to bring the Awkward into the workplace, it was best to just squash it now. And not ever say anything about it out loud.

After that good long contemplative pause, Lanie set her martini on the table. "What do you think of Esposito?"

….That was NOT supposed to come out! Next time, order a virgin….

Kate's already-wide eyes bugged, and she practically spat her latest sip of cocktail onto the Formica. "As in…Esposito? My Esposito? The…one…we…know?"

Ohh, the ship for regretting that question had so already sailed. Lanie rolled her eyes. "No, Jennifer Esposito---I'm really missing 'Samantha Who' and my TiVo's just not gettin' it like it used to."

Now it was Kate's turn to roll her eyes. "Oh, forgive me for spazzing out a little when you randomly ask about one of my detectives. What about him?"

"Just…what do you think of him?"

'Confused' would be a good way to describe Kate's current expression, but she decided to at least humor the question. "Well, he is on my squad, I think that pretty much indicates a good opinion, yeah."

"Yeah, but I mean…" Okay, okay, the grave was dug…time to just jump in and settle down for a nice long nap. "He's cute, right? You think?"

"He's c---?!" Somebody should have had a bet going on whether Kate's eyes could have gotten any wider or not. They would have lost a lot of money. Would have been nice if it was Castle. "I…guess…? Lanie, what is going on with you?" The detective dropped her voice to a hushed whisper across the table, as if she somehow thought the entire precinct was listening from the surrounding tables. "Are you thinking of dating Esposito?"

Apparently, Lanie was subconsciously looking for any sign at all that this was crazy---hoping the universe would squash the option for her so she didn't have to face it---because the look on her face was almost pitifully hopeful, as she said, "You don't think it's a good idea, right?"

"I…I…don't know! I mean, have you thought about this? What, how? What brought this on?"

"I don't know!" Exasperated, the coroner threw her hands up from the table. "Love to find out, but I don't know. Not that there's anything to not know. Or know. 'Cause I'm not saying there's even anything to know, you know?" Anyone who was rambling less might have noticed Kate's eyebrow crawl up in amusement. "All I know is, he may have made his…interest known, in the past, but I called him on it."

"You turned him down."

"Well…yeah." She said it like it was the most obvious option in the world.

Her shock wearing off and her amused smirk returning, Kate ticked off the facts one by one, finger by finger. "Let's see: you said he's interested in you. You're obviously interested in him," she stated, moving right along and cutting off Lanie's protests before they caught volume, "since you're zoning out and acting like a flustered teenager. It's not like you're seeing somebody---"

"Oh, thank you."

"---since we both know you're as perpetually single as I am, and Esposito hasn't had a date since the Bar Crawl incident in January."

Lanie wrinkled an eyebrow. "How'd you know that?"

"I have my sources."

"Detective Ryan?"

"Slip him a tenner and he'll squawk like a parrot---the point is, Lanie, why not go for it?"

"Oh, like you 'go for it' with Castle?"

The M.E. knew she had a checkmate there, even if Kate rolled her eyes and kind of her entire head, the way she was doing now. "Oh, please. Castle is so not the same thing."

"Look, before we get into your hundredth denial-dance here---"

"It's not denial…"

"---can we just drop the subject? Please? Just forget I said anything."

Kate shrugged amicably, sitting back in her intended chair-sitting position and wrapping a slim hand back around her Jack and Coke. "Okay… But, can I get a last word on the subject, here?"

Lanie gave her a look, but with a gentler voice. Or maybe just worn-out. Or maybe anticipating a hangover. "What."

"He's a great guy. Those are kind of a dying breed."

What a way to sum up the problem. Maybe it was a detective thing. The M.E. thing, on the other hand, was to poke at it until you decided for yourself what it meant, and Lanie gave Kate a deadpan expression. "I know. And thank you. Now shut up."

"Fine." Beckett lifted her glass for a sip to hide her spreading grin.

Despite herself, Lanie smiled a hint too. "Oh---and, Detective? You bring up a word of this to anyone in the precinct, and I have ways of making sure you end up on my table. Case closed."

Indeed. The coroner brought the martini glass back to her lips. Yep…next time, definitely ordering non-alcoholic….



^__^ So! There's the flipside of "KYFotP." Now, you know what you do now, if you liked it? You click the happy 'review' button and say WHY! Yeah! Great idea! xD

THANK YOU, everyone! More ficcage to come. :)