Alright, so I kind of forgot about this series. Well, not so much forgot about as pushed it to the back burner. Then corlando informed me my little series was listed as a recommendation, which reminded me about this story. This is going to (potentially) be a series of one-shots in what I've decided to call the Alliteration-verse, which contains both A Matter of Motive and Drifting Towards Dating. If you haven't read them you might be a bit confused. They're AU after the Season 1 finale. No idea how many chapters there are going to be. At least one. This one's been bouncing around my head for at least months now. Thanks to DarkStrider for putting the idea in my head. And to all the people who've asked about it, it's not the walk in the park. I'm sorry. Oh, and to all the people who are still waiting for an update to "Unacknowledged as of yet," I'm sorry. I'm slow. I know. Stupid writer's block. Please accept this as a peace offering.
As always, I own nothing.
The Morning After
Richard Castle strolled into his office mid-morning swinging his arms. Alexis was at school. As far as he knew his mother was out. There wasn't a case. He supposed he could write, but he wasn't feeling particularly inspired. He smiled to himself, not that his muse wasn't inspiring. He was pretty sure Kate Beckett would be able to inspire him to do pretty much anything, if she put her mind to it. Especially after last night.
It'd been the stuff of fantasies.
Well, okay, maybe not the whole night. The trip to the restaurant had started out unbelievably awkwardly, which had almost led to disaster. And at one point during dinner he'd gotten up to go to the washroom and had almost collided with one of the waiters, something that would have almost certainly resulted in red wine down the front of his shirt. Luckily, in both instances, his quick thinking (and reflexes) had saved the day. As a result, the evening had ended with him watching a smiling and oh so alluring Kate Beckett somewhat regretfully close her door.
And they had plans for later in the week. He would see her on Saturday. If she didn't call him with a dead body before then of course.
Yeah, life was good.
In fact, life was far too good to chain himself to his computer for the morning. Even if writing Nikki Heat was tremendous fun. Sometimes spending time with Nikki was almost as good as spending time with her real life alter-ego.
But then again, that was before lingering kisses became a part of his relationship with his favourite homicide detective.
Still, when Beckett wasn't available, Castle supposed Nikki was a passable substitute.
He wondered what Kate was doing.
Should he call her?
He wanted to call her.
After all, he was used to seeing her most days. Why couldn't he call just to check in, say hi? Didn't have to be a big deal. It was, quite simply, odd not seeing her. She'd probably even welcome the break from the paperwork.
Castle reached for the phone, but hesitated before he could pick it up.
On the other hand, did calling her mid-morning the evening after their first date smack of desperation? It hadn't even been twelve hours since he'd last seen her. Should he be playing it cool here?
Obviously cool wasn't always his forte, and she knew that, but he didn't want to come off as desperate.
He slowly withdrew his hand. No. Better to wait a while. No need to pressure her. Things were good.
But that meant he still needed a distraction.
Maybe he should write.
And if he got a jump start on the writing now that meant he'd have more free time later, free time that could be spent with Alexis at the movies, or perfecting his laser tag technique, or wooing female detectives…
Yes. Probably best to get a jump start on the work.
Castle sat down in front of his laptop and turned it on.
This was a good idea. Well… except for the fact that he wasn't feeling particularly inspired.
After staring blankly at the screen for about ten minutes, his mind occupied by the image of Kate Beckett sitting across the table from him with a sexy grin on her face while she teased him, Castle decided he probably was pretty pathetic. But on the plus side, he was dating one of the sexiest women on the planet so he didn't much care.
He wondered if Kate liked Lebanese, because there was the greatest little place not far from Frankie's and…
Not Kate Beckett.
Maybe some music would help.
Castle grabbed the remote for his stereo and switched it on.
He couldn't remember what was in the CD player so he decided to take his chances with the radio. He grinned when he realized Summer of 69' was starting, which, of course, was a song he was pretty sure it was impossible to listen to without drumming along. It just wasn't done. No one could resist, not even Richard Castle. Soon he was keeping time with his hands on his desk. Within seconds desk slapping had turned to head bobbing, and before he knew it he was out of his chair and playing a mean air guitar.
Because he was totally cool. He was famous mystery writer Richard Castle. Wealthy, charming, reasonably intelligent. He owned an awesome apartment, had a fabulous daughter (and he was totally the cool dad!), a mother who, well… he guessed she was pretty good too. And to top it off he had fantastic taste in music. The new Nikki Heat was going reasonably well. He got to spend his days helping the NYPD. And he was dating Kate Beckett.
His air guitar got particularly spectacular then.
Yeah, that was right. He was dating Kate Beckett. He, Richard Castle, was the guy she let take her out, and take her home, and kiss her. Not her stupid square-jawed ex-boyfriend, not one of the pretentious college-graduates he was sure she met when she went browsing through book stores (or book signings), not another cop. Him. And yeah, maybe he wasn't the most serious or practical of men, but he was smart and successful and she seemed to like him. All those other guys could get lost. When he'd asked her to dinner Kate Beckett'd said yes.
As the music started to crescendo he easily matched it. And as the song approached its end Castle spun on one foot, furiously strumming his instrument. Just as was about to nail the final few chords he looked up, you know, to check in with his stadium audience, only to see his mother standing in the doorway, one eyebrow raised.
He stopped playing abruptly.
"Mother, I didn't realize you were home."
"Clearly," Martha said dryly. "Too busy playing rock star."
"What can I say? sometimes the music just moves me," Castle told her with a shrug.
"Any particular reason for this celebration?" Martha wondered.
"Why would I need a reason?" he asked innocently.
"Oh, don't even bother," Martha told him with a wave of her hand. "Look at you. You couldn't wipe the idiotic grin off your face if you tried." He glanced at her in mild surprise. "That's right," Martha continued. "You've been grinning like an idiot since you got back last night. And now apparently you've graduated to dancing around your office."
Castle held his head high and tried to sound as mature as possible, "I was merely trying to get into writing mode. Clear my head as it were."
"Why? Is something, or should I say someone, else occupying your thoughts dear?" Martha asked with a smile.
"Well, now that you mention it, I did have dinner with a beautiful woman last night."
"It sounds like it was a bit more than just dinner."
Castle glanced over sharply then, "What are you implying mother?" he asked.
"Why, nothing sinister darling," Martha replied easily. His mind had obviously jumped to a place she hadn't intended. "But you were gone for about six hours so unless the two of you are the slowest eaters on the face of the planet or had about twenty courses…"
"There may have been dancing as well," her son admitted.
"May have?" Martha asked indulgently.
"Yes mother," Castle told her in mild exasperation. "And then I escorted her home, like a perfect gentleman. And this morning I was listening to some music to try and get me in a writing mood. You should be proud; I was trying to be responsible."
"In other words, you can't stop thinking about her."
"Mother…" Castle said with a sigh.
"Darling, you were literally dancing across the room. And do I need to mention the perpetual grin again?"
"And a man can't be in a good mood after a nice evening?"
"Which I suppose is your way of asking me to mind my own business and stop sticking my nose in yours?" She didn't mind so much. Emotionally her son was an open book. If something happened she'd know almost immediately. And she was pleased things seemed to be going so well with the first sensible woman he'd asked out to dinner in a while.
"Fine, fine. I won't pry." Martha told him. There was just one thing she needed to double check. "I take it you're seeing each other again."
"Well, I am shadowing the lovely detective, which would make not seeing her again would make awfully difficult…"
"Richard…" Martha said warningly.
"We're going to the park on Saturday," he told her, realizing she wasn't about to let it go.
"The park?" Martha asked surprised. She hadn't been expecting that.
"She likes walking in the park," Castle said matter-of-factly.
"And you like making her happy."
Martha just nodded. "You're not at the station today?" she double-checked.
"No case," he explained.
"Ah. And how is she this morning then? Is the good detective walking on air as well?" Martha certainly hoped she was, or her son might be in for a world of pain.
"I don't know; I haven't spoken to her," Castle admitted.
Martha's eyes widened in surprise. That wasn't the answer she'd expected. Usually when he was pursuing a woman her son was anything but subtle. "And why ever not?" she demanded.
"I thought that might look too clingy," Castle explained.
Martha rolled her eyes. Sure, under normal circumstances calling the morning after might not be the best idea, but any relationship between Richard Castle and Katherine Beckett would be far from normal. But before Martha could offer her opinion, her son's phone rang. She watched as he checked the collar ID. She couldn't actually see the screen, but she didn't need to. One look at his face was enough for her to identify the caller.
"Beckett!" He greeted her exuberantly. "Where's the body?"
Martha watched as his smile got even bigger. "Really? Then to what do I owe the pleasure?" There was a slight pause as Castle sat back in his chair. "Of course. Well thank you very much for calling. I always like being informed, though I'm sorry I missed that. How'd he take it?"
Martha smiled, shook her head indulgently and left the room. She suspected she didn't have to worry too much about the relationship. That woman had him wrapped around her little finger. It was almost nauseating. Or it would have been if he hadn't been so innocently happy.
Kate Beckett was having a good day. The weather was lovely. The citizens of New York seemed to be particularly law abiding. She was getting caught up on her paperwork. Ryan and Esposito were even being kind of sweet. Sure they were teasing her a bit, but that was almost their right as her partners. And she was sure she'd be seeing Lanie later, probably around lunch time. Her friend loved hearing details of her dates under normal circumstances. Given that her partner the evening before was Castle…
Come to think of it, Kate was surprised Lanie hadn't been standing outside her apartment building that morning begging for details. The M.E. must have had an early morning autopsy or something. Either that or she was lying in wait, waiting for the opportune moment. Because so far Kate hadn't gotten so much as a phone call asking about her first date with Richard Castle.
Kate grinned, bit her lip and ducked her head slightly.
Her first date with Richard Castle.
She might be able to get used to that. Okay, not the 'first' part, but the whole 'date' and 'Richard Castle' parts she might be okay with. It had been a pretty great evening after all. Flowers, dinner, good conversation, dancing, and fun. Lanie'd really been right about that. Castle was fun.
Not to mention one hell of a kisser.
Actually it was kind of strange not having him around. She'd kind of missed him the past few weeks when he'd been away from the station and hadn't been nipping at her heels all the time. Not that she had any intention of telling him that. Having him to bounce ideas off of during the last case had felt so nice and normal. She was glad things were better now. Oh boy, were they better.
Although, she thought wryly, if Castle had been at the station she wouldn't have been able to get any work done since the man would've probably pestered her for the entire morning. She probably would have been ready to strangle him after about twenty minutes.
Of course, five minutes later he'd probably be making her laugh.
Theirs was an interesting relationship.
She wondered what he was doing.
Probably writing. Well, either that or playing with his light saber collection, not that he'd have an opponent…
Which meant he might not be busy. Or if he was writing, he might be blocked and want a break. She glanced at her phone.
On the other hand, if the writing was flowing she didn't want to disturb him.
She sighed. Paperwork was boring. Even if she couldn't be distracted all day, Kate admitted she wouldn't have minded a distraction for five minutes or so.
She glanced at her phone again. She didn't usually call him without a reason. But the day before had changed things, hadn't it? Before she could make up her mind one way or another about picking it up she was distracted by a kerfuffle in the bullpen.
Kate watched in amusement as Esposito began rapidly flipping through the files on his desk in confusion. Suddenly something occurred to him. She watched as he jumped from his chair and stormed over to Ryan's desk, files held aloft in accusation. Holding in her laughter became even harder as the two men's argument got louder and louder, culminating in Esposito chasing Ryan around the desks while his partner alternated between laughter and holding his hands up defensively.
Kate eyed her phone a third time. Before she could tell herself it was a bad idea she picked up the phone and dialed a familiar number.
She heard his enthusiastic greeting on the other end of the line. "Beckett! Where's the body?"
Kate paused, momentarily thrown. "Uh, no body actually," she told him.
"Really? Then to what do I owe the pleasure?" Castle asked. She could hear the grin in his voice, but decided she didn't mind.
"I thought you'd be interested to know that Esposito finally figured out Ryan's been pawning a bunch of his paperwork off on him," Kate told him. "I know you were looking forward to seeing the potential fallout once Esposito realized what was going on. And I know you also like being kept in the loop on these things, for research purposes of course."
"Of course," Castle agreed readily, unbelievably pleased she'd called. "Well thank you very much for calling. I always like being informed, though I'm sorry I missed that. How'd he take it?"
"Chasing Ryan around the bullpen as we speak."
"Aw!" Castle whined. "I'm missing that?"
"I could tape it on my phone for you if you'd like Castle," Kate offered.
"Really?" he asked hopefully.
"Tease," Castle told her lightly. "Come on Beckett," he pleaded. "Help a writer out. I'll owe you one."
Kate leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs, flipping open her cell phone, "Really? And what would I be getting out of this?"
"What would you like?"
Castle could almost hear her considering her options, so he decided to throw out some of his own. Whatever she came up with could be positively diabolical. Though come to think of it, that might be fun as well. Still, it was early days yet. Plenty of time to get to know Kate's evil side later. "An evening at the theatre?" he suggested. "Fancy restaurants? Tropical vacation? A one on one laser tag showdown with yours truly? Think about it. It'd mean you'd get to shoot me."
She laughed, "Are you saying I don't get those things already?"
He paused. He supposed she had him there. "Well, yes. Although the vacation may be hard to swing on short notice, but I could probably make it happen."
Kate laughed, "Just buy me an ice cream cone when we go to the park on Saturday," she told him.
"Of course," he agreed readily. Then he sat up in his chair suddenly, "Wait? You're actually taping it?"
"Hey, sometimes I need a good laugh like anybody else," she told him with a shrug.
"You are awesome!" Castle exclaimed.
She just laughed again. "Thanks."
Castle settled back into his chair. "And what are you doing this fine morning?" He asked.
"Ugh, paperwork," Kate replied. "You?"
"Trying to write."
"It's not going well?" she asked, mildly concerned.
"To be honest, I haven't really started." Castle admitted. "Not feeling particularly in the mood I guess."
"I'm glad I didn't interrupt you in the middle of an idea or something then."
"I think I could probably make time for you Detective," he told her.
"Really?" Kate asked. Ryan and Esposito had gone back to acting like detectives, so she shut her cell phone and gave their conversation her full attention.
"Un huh," Castle told her. "I've decided you might be more interesting than your fictional counterpart."
"I am not Nikki Heat," Kate insisted.
"I know that. Even if you are the inspiration for the character there are some key differences," Castle conceded.
"I'm glad you recognize that Castle," Kate said.
He nodded even though she couldn't see him. "For one, I can kiss you."
Kate laughed and began spinning in her desk chair, "Is that the only difference you can think of Ricky?"
"After last night it's the first one that comes to mind," he admitted.
"Nikki's wardrobe on the other hand…" he trailed off suggestively.
"Watch it Castle," she warned him quickly.
"Oh come on Detective, I'm sure there are things you secretly enjoy about Jamieson Rook," he pointed out.
"Actually, I think it's fair to say you win that competition hands down," Beckett told him honestly.
"Really?" he asked, positively thrilled.
"Of course," she told him readily. "Rook doesn't have an Alexis."
Castle grinned. "Well played Detective, well played."
Castle decided he needed to turn the conversation back to more personal topics. "And to prove just how much better I like you than Nikki I'll buy you two scoops of ice cream on Saturday."
"And a waffle cone," Kate added.
"And a waffle cone," he agreed.
There was a slight pause in the conversation.
"I don't want to go back to work," Castle admitted.
"I thought you hadn't started yet," Kate countered.
"Not the point. Feel like playing hooky Detective?" he asked.
"Castle!" Kate scolded. "Unlike some people I have an actual job, with actual hours. I can't just sneak out of the station!"
"Who said anything about sneaking out? It's almost lunch time."
Kate glanced at the clock. He was right. But when she glanced up she also noticed Ryan, Esposito and Lanie attempting to subtly watch her from the break room. Realizing they'd been caught they waved and began walking over. "Much as I'd love to Castle," Kate told him. "I'm going to have to take a rain check. I've already got a lunch date."
"Your second favourite writer in town?" he asked playfully.
"Nah, just my favourite medical examiner," Kate corrected.
Castle grinned. Lanie was probably desperate for details. "I see. If it had been another man I was going to suggest you cancel, but now…"
"You recognize it would be a pointless request?" Kate asked.
Kate grinned, before semi-regretfully leading their conversation to an end. "I guess I'll see you the day after tomorrow then, for our walk."
"Unless there's a murder," Castle pointed out cheerfully.
"Yeah, well, hopefully I'll just see you in the park Castle."
"Looking forward to it Kate. And so you know, you're so much better than Nikki," he told her.
Kate bit her lip. "Castle?" she asked.
"If the warm weather holds I might decide to wear a tank top for our walk."
There was a brief pause on the other end of the line before Kate heard, "So very awesome!"
She laughed again before hanging up then she turned to face an amused looking Lanie. "Morning Dr. Parish."
"Good morning Detective," Lanie replied. "You look like you're in a good mood."
"Do I?" Kate asked.
"Uh huh. The guys were getting concerned."
"Were they now?" Kate asked dryly, turning towards Ryan and Esposito. "How very considerate of them."
Ryan didn't even bother to look contrite, "Well, there was the grinning, and the laughter."
"One might even call it giggling," Esposito added.
"One might," Ryan agreed.
Esposito continued with the list of unBeckett-like actions, "Plus the spinning in the chair."
"And the hair twirling."
"Not to mention all the humming that was going on earlier."
"We're just saying it was unusual behavior," Ryan finished with a grin.
If she was ruffled by their observations Kate didn't show it, just calmly turned and grabbed her bag from her desk. "Speaking of unusual behaviour Lanie, do you know that two New York City homicide detectives just spent the better part of the last ten minutes chasing each other around the station issuing ridiculous verbal threats?" she asked innocently.
Lanie grinned. "I was not aware of that, no."
Kate nodded and held up her cell phone. "I was just going to show the video to Castle but now I think that more people should be able to experience it. What do you think, youtube?"
Both of her teammates looked suddenly horrified. "Aww come on Beckett!" Ryan whined.
"Yeah, youtube?" Esposito asked. "Not cool."
"So what's all this about me looking happy being weird?" Kate asked.
"What? Did we say that?" Ryan said.
"Yeah, you're always smiling." Esposito agreed. "It's totally normal."
"You must have misunderstood," Ryan added. "When we said you looked happy, we were just pointing out to Lanie how today was no different than any other day."
"And if you are a bit happier, I'm sure it's just because it's spring and all," Esposito finished..
"Okay then," Kate told them. Both detectives let out the breaths they'd been holding. "So Dr. Parish," Kate asked. "You up for lunch. I could use a bit of a break."
"I was just on my way to drag you out of here," Lanie replied. "But you were on the phone when I got here. In fact I thought I heard something about a tank top."
"Well, the weather is getting warmer," Kate said.
"Yes it is," Lanie smirked. "The deli down the street?"
"Perfect," Kate agreed as she turned to walk down the hall. She turned back suddenly, her grin a mile wide, "Oh and Lanie? I'm in adamn good mood this morning."
Lanie grinned back, looping her arm through her friend's, "Tell me about it at lunch."
Like I said, I have no idea how many of these there will be. Or what they'll be about. No idea if the walk in the park or lunch with Lanie will get written. We shall see though. This one was tremendous fun.