Alright, this is dedicated to corlando, who has managed to magically give my reluctant Castle muse a much needed kick in the pants after the season finale kind of killed it. I haven't even been reading Castle fic recently, something I'll have to rectify after this weekend. (I know I owe you guys a chapter for Unacknowledged as of yet, but that's probably not happening at the moment, because I still have some sort of mental block and at least this is better than nothing right? I still plan on getting to it eventually...)
So here we go, my (admittedly very late) post-finale fic. I plan on posting more next week. I promise.
"Come on, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up!"
Rick Castle paced back and forth in his living room, trying very hard not to panic as he listened to ring after ring in his right ear.
"Beckett," he heard suddenly.
"Oh thank god!" the writer expostulated before collapsing into a chair.
"Castle?" Detective Beckett asked, clearly surprised by the identity of her mystery caller.
"You're alive," Castle said in obvious relief. "You're alive," he repeated, half to himself. Realizing that Beckett probably thought he'd gone crazy he tried a more normal topic of conversation. "So how are you Detective? Besides still breathing obviously."
"I'm fine Castle," Beckett said slowly. "What made you think I wouldn't still be breathing?"
"Well, even out here in the Hamptons we still get the occasional news report from the city Detective. Especially when the headline on the six o'clock news reads 'New York City Detective gunned down on the street by drug dealer.' Not that the Detective's name was released of course, on-going investigation, waiting to make sure the family was notified, and all. I've gotta say, that type of story takes on a whole new meaning when you actually know a New York City Detective or two, or even three." He paused, "Tell me it's not Ryan or Esposito either."
"No," Beckett replied immediately.
"Karpowski?" Castle checked.
"No," Beckett told him, resisting the urge to smile. "We're all fine here, though I'll tell Ryan and Esposito you were worried. Victim was Detective Lopez over at the twenty-third precinct. No one you know. At least I don't think so."
"No," he agreed. "Did you?" Castle asked suddenly. "Know him, or her?"
"Him," Beckett corrected absently. "And not really. I knew him by sight, met him briefly once or twice."
She shrugged. "Like I said, I didn't really know him."
"Not what I meant," he replied softly..
"I know," she said with a sigh.
"Yeah," she said. "It's the job Castle. We all know the risks. Heck you signed that waiver. And last I heard they think they may have caught the guy who shot him. Of course the guy who did it's just an angry kid who got caught doing something he shouldn't have been doing, and then panicked when he saw a detective."
Castle winced. Sometimes he forgot how much her job really sucked. "At least they caught the guy."
"I may have been a bit worried. And I didn't even know if..." he trailed off.
"Sorry," she told him. "I didn't think... didn't realize the news'd make it that far I guess. So I didn't think to call you," she admitted. After all, it wasn't like she'd been hurt, or even anyone he knew had been involved.
"Clearly we need a system so this doesn't happen again," Castle told her.
"How about this?" Beckett asked. "If one of us gets hurt here at the 12th, we'll call you. Maybe we should get Lanie to do it, since she's the one least likely to be in the line of fire."
"Don't even joke about that," Castle told her. "Besides, you never know. Her hearse might get high-jacked again."
"True," Beckett replied with half a laugh. Then she paused. "If it had been me or Esposito or Ryan we would have called you Castle. Someone would have let you know."
"Thanks," he said sincerely.
"So how are you?" he asked tentatively. "I mean, other than mourning a colleague."
"I'm good," she told him. "Really good."
"Good. That's good, that you're good," he explained.
There was an awkward pause. "How's the book coming?" Beckett asked quickly.
"Oh, actually really well, now that I'm being forced to concentrate on writing it."
"Huh. Naked Heat. Unless you decided to change the title?"
He laughed quickly. "Not a chance," he said affectionately. "Artistic integrity. Besides, I know what sells."
"Uh huh," Beckett replied. "Still, Gina must be happy about your progress.
"Hard to tell," Castle told her. "Every time I send her a chapter it's more like pacifying the beast than anything else. I get an angry e-mail from New York two days later demanding more pages."
"Oh, she's not with you then?" Beckett asked surprised.
"Nah," Castle told her. "She's been back and forth all summer. She stayed for a couple of weeks originally, but she got called back to take care of some emergency or other in the city. So I'm all by my lonesome"
"That's too bad," Beckett said sympathetically.
"Not really," Castle told her pleasantly. "Turns out there's a reason we got divorced."
"I see," Beckett replied with a grin.
"Yeah," Castle said, wishing he could ask her down for a visit, but knowing she'd refuse. "So how's Demming?" he asked instead.
Kate froze. "Oh, he's good," she said quickly. "I think." Before Castle could say anything else she continued, "Look, Castle, I've actually got to go. Memorial service actually." It wasn't actually a lie, she did honestly need to leave... in about ten minutes.
"Oh, right of course," Castle said. "I'll just let you go then."
"I'm sorry about Lopez and all, don't get me wrong. But I'm glad you're not dead."
"Me too," Beckett said softly.
"Goodbye Castle. Wait!"
Castle quickly brought the phone he'd been about to hang up back to his ear. "Was there something else Detective?"
"Yes. No." Beckett took a breath. "It was nice talking to you again Castle."
Castle relaxed. "It was nice talking to you too Detective. Maybe I'll have to call you again sometime," he said with a smile.
"Maybe," Beckett replied softly. "Right," she said suddenly. "Well, I've got to go now. Bye." With that she hung up.
"Bye," Richard Castle murmured to himself. For their first conversation in almost a month, it could have been much, much worse.
Richard Castle was staring at his laptop willing his characters to cooperate when he heard his phone ring.
"Hello," he said, grabbing it without checking the caller ID.
"Heard you were worried about us," a voice on the other end informed him.
"Well, first Beckett then us, most likely," a second voice corrected.
"True," the first voice agreed.
"Still, he did send us some great pastries," the second voice conceded.
"There is that," the first voice replied. "Hey Castle you there?"
"Just wondering if the two of you are perched beside each other, hovering around one phone like two schoolgirls at a sleepover," Castle told them with a grin.
"Schoolgirls!" Esposito exclaimed. "Did he just call us schoolgirls?"
"I think he did!" Ryan agreed.
"I'm just sayin', two men, one phone call from the same station house," Castle told them. "You do the math."
"No, no, no, bro," Esposito told him. "Ryan and I we were just sitting here, at our desks."
"Our very separate desks," Ryan interrupted.
"Yes, our very separate desks, and then someone sent us a box of pastries," Esposito explained.
"Now who do you suppose that could be?" Ryan asked.
"So we look at the card to see who sent it," Esposito said. "And we decided that maybe we should call you to thank you."
"From our two separate phones," Ryan emphasized.
"Yeah," Esposito agreed. "We totally conferenced you in."
"Totally," Ryan repeated. "We called each other first, then we called you."
"You called each other from your desks right beside each other," Castle double checked.
"That's right," Esposito told him. "It's better than two guys on one phone."
Castle couldn't disagree with that.
"Plus we had to thank you for the pastries," Esposito added.
"Yeah," Ryan agreed. "Would have been rude not to. Plus, these are really good pastries. These little chocolate things, to die for."
"Yeah where'd you get these things man?" Esposito asked.
"Little bakery, just around the corner from my building," Castle told them. "They deliver."
"Nice," Ryan told him.
"Have you tried the ones with the blueberry filling?" Castle asked them. "A-mazing."
"No we haven't gotten to those yet," Esposito replied. "What do they look like?"
"They're the little diamond things with the sugar on top," Castle told him.
"I'll look forward to that," Esposito said, apparently deciding against rummaging through the entire box of pastries.
"You know you didn't have to buy us pastries though," Ryan told him. "I mean, it's not that we're not appreciative..."
"Because we are," Esposito interrupted.
"But you still didn't have to," Ryan finished.
"I know," Castle admitted. "But I wanted to do something, after I heard about... I was worried."
"Yeah," Esposito agreed. "Thanks."
"So how's the book coming?" Ryan asked curiously, breaking the awkward silence.
"Right now I feel like throwing my laptop down the stairs and beating it with a hammer," Castle admitted.
"That well huh?" Ryan asked.
"Guess this is what happens to a man when he's away from his muse," Esposito taunted.
"You'd better hope she's not standing behind you," Castle warned.
Ryan laughed. "Who Beckett? Nah, she's in with the Captain at the moment. We're good."
"Waited until the boss was away to play hooky?" Castle asked.
"Now why would Beckett care if we talked to you?" Esposito replied.
"Yeah?" Ryan double-checked. "She was the one who told us she talked to you yesterday."
Castle shrugged. "I dunno," he told them. "But she seemed a bit weird on the phone yesterday," he admitted.
"Weird?" Ryan asked, trying to be nonchalant. "Weird how?"
"Like she was almost mad at me or something." Castle explained. "She's not mad at me is she?"
"Why would she be mad at you?" Ryan asked, after sharing a look with Esposito that the writer couldn't see.
"I have no idea," Castle told them. "You guys have any idea why she was acting a bit strange."
"Look," Esposito said. "It was probably just because you guys haven't talked to each other in like a month. Anything other than that, well you're going to have to talk to Beckett to see if anything's wrong."
"In other words, you guys totally know, but you're not going to tell me," Castle surmised.
"No," Ryan corrected. "We're saying we don't know, but even if we did, we're staying out of it."
"Yeah, she's our partner," Esposito reminded him.
"Right," Castle said.
"Speaking of which," Esposito said.
"Yeah," Ryan agreed. "Beckett's just come out of Montgomery's office with that look on her face."
"What look?" Castle asked.
"Murder," both detectives replied.
"Gotta go bro," Esposito told him. "But thanks for the cookies and stuff."
"Yeah," Ryan agreed. "Sorry to eat and run, but you know how it is, murders to solve, scumbags to kill."
"Of course," Castle replied, trying not to feel too left out. "I hope it's a fun one."
"We'll see," Esposito said. "Talk to you later though Castle. Don't be a stranger."
"Yeah, talk to you later," Ryan repeated.
"Bye guys," Castle said.
Castle thought he heard a muffled, "I'm coming," before Ryan managed to hang up the phone.
Two calls to the precinct in a week. He was on a roll with this communication thing. Still, it was hard not to feel left out. Ryan and Esposito conferencing him in, adding him to their own pre-existing partnership. Because he was no longer really a part of it anymore. And now the two of them were heading out with Beckett to solve a murder.
While he got to write about it.
Castle stared at his screensaver, trying not to picture the three detectives looking for clues, interviewing witnesses, brainstorming around the white-board... Brainstorming around the white-board! That was it. Maybe if Nikki and Rook brainstormed in front of the whiteboard one of them would make the connection between the dead drug dealer and the somewhat sleazy politician.
Typing furiously before he lost his train of thought, Castle realized maybe he should call the station more often.
Glancing at the newest photo of the Nikki Heat cover art, Castle decided he should definitely call more often.
After all, the guys had both told him not to be a stranger.
"He called me."
"Well hello to you to," the New York City coroner said as she picked up her phone.
"Hi Lanie," her friend said with a sigh.
"That's better," Lanie said with a nod. "Hello Detective, to what do I owe this pleasure?"
"He called me," Beckett repeated.
"Who called you?" Lanie asked, wondering if her friend realized that 'he' could be any number of people.
"Castle," Beckett specified.
Lanie paused. "Castle?" she asked. She hadn't been expecting that. "What'd he want?"
"He heard about Lopez on the news, but apparently the media isn't reporting which New York City Detective was killed," Kate explained.
"I see," Lanie said, in a tone that implied that she saw a whole lot more than that. "And he was concerned I'd imagine."
"Yeah," Kate acknowledged. "By the way, I told him if anything ever happened to one of us you'd call him," she informed her friend.
"Nothing's gonna happen to you guys," Lanie told her.
"Well, I certainly hope not," Beckett agreed. "But on the off chance that something does..."
"I'll call writer-boy," Lanie promised. "But it's not gonna happen."
"Because you say so?" Beckett asked sceptically.
"Exactly," Lanie told her. "But that's not the issue here."
"It's not?" Beckett asked.
"No," Lanie said with a shake of her head. "The issue here is why are you so freaked out over a little phone call from Richard Castle?"
"I'm not freaked out!" Beckett practically yelled.
"I'm not!" she insisted.
"No, you just got the urge to call me immediately to tell me this, but you're not panicking at all," Lanie told her.
"I'm not calling you immediately," Kate shot back. "He called me yesterday."
Lanie paused, "Did he now?"
"Yes," Kate told her. "And I'm telling you today, because, well, because as my best friend I thought you should know."
"And why should I know this specifically?" Lanie asked. "After all, as your best friend you certainly don't tell me every time someone calls you. Not even every time a man calls you. What's so special about this call?"
Kate sighed. She should have known. "You're annoying, you know that?"
"Absolutely," Lanie said as she waited for her friend to answer her question.
After a brief pause Kate sighed and gave in. "I'm telling you because the two of us hadn't spoken in a while, since well, since he left."
"Oh," Lanie said in exaggerated surprise. "You mean since he walked away from you with his arm around his ex-wife right before you were about to tell him you loved him and you wanted to shove him in the supply closet and have a bit of fun?"
"Lanie!" Kate sputtered. "I wasn't going to tell him that I loved him or... or whatever else you just said. I was going to tell him that I'd cancelled my plans for the weekend,"
"Because you broke up with Demming for writer-boy," Lanie interjected.
"And that I'd love to go to the Hamptons with him, as a friend," Kate finished, as if her friend hadn't spoken.
"You know, if nothing else I was really hoping what happened a few weeks ago woulda kicked you outta denial," Lanie said.
"I'm not in denial," Kate said with a sigh.
"You broke up with Demming, who was perfectly nice, so you could go to the Hamptons with Castle!" Lanie reminded her.
"I broke up with Tom because it wasn't what I was looking for," Kate corrected. "And anyway, even if I would have preferred going to the Hamptons with Castle, and I'm not saying I would have, isn't it better that I break up with Tom now, rather than stringing him along?"
"Absolutely," Lanie agreed. "So if you want Castle so much, then go get Castle!" she encouraged. "The Hamptons aren't that far girlfriend."
"I never said I wanted Castle," Kate replied.
"Argh!" Lanie exclaimed. "Are you serious?"
"Yes," Kate said. "After all, the guy apparently can't spend a week without female company, I mean, I'd turned down his invitation what, the day before? And he flirts with every female he sees, all for his precious image. We're talking about a guy who was mad when we were coupled together by a newspaper because it'd wreck his hot bachelor status! He's not exactly your safest bet for a relationship."
"Oh please, you know as well as I do a lot of that's just for show," Lanie replied.
"Yeah, but how much?" Kate asked. "I there's anything I've learned it's that..."
"It's that you had to watch the guy you wanted to spend time with, for whatever reason, walk away with another woman. And now you're hurting, and that's fine, I get it honey. But sooner or later you're going to have to get over that and give him another chance," Lanie tried.
"I knew I shouldn't let him in," Kate said, apparently ignoring her friend. "I knew he wasn't a safe bet."
"He might be safer than you think," Lanie told her.
"Right," Kate huffed. "He's completely immature, all the time. Every time anything remotely serious about relationships comes up he plays it off with a joke. Any time he can mention how many women he's slept with, he does. He's almost never serious. I get that, really I do. Doesn't want to get too close, doesn't want to push the relationship. It's hardly a ringing endorsement for putting myself out there again," Kate explained. "Even if that was what I was about to do," she added as an afterthought.
"He cares about you. You know that," Lanie reminded her.
Kate nodded. "Of course he does, but as what? As his inspiration? As the woman he follows around all day for his job? As a friend? He hasn't exactly made his intentions clear either. If he cared so much why didn't he ever say anything? Do anything?"
"I don't know," Lanie said honestly. "Maybe he thought you were happy with Demming."
"Maybe he's not sure what he wants," Kate corrected. "Something his track record with women definitely supports," she added. "We're probably better as friends anyway."
"And what about Demming then?" Lanie asked. "Why not give him a call?"
"Because I already told him he wasn't what I was looking for. Which is true. I can't go back now and say, 'oh, changed my mind, guess you aren't so bad after all.' It's not fair to either of us," Kate explained.
Lanie shrugged. She had to give her friend that one. "So then why did you call me to tell me you'd spoken to Castle?" she asked curiously.
"Because it's weird," Kate explained. "I used to see him almost every day. And then I didn't. Then he called, and I don't know, it was awkward. And whatever else it was, talking to Castle was never awkward."
"Did you tell him about Demming?" Lanie asked.
"No," Kate said bluntly.
"Why not?" Lanie demanded.
"I had to go to the memorial service."
"Fine," Kate conceded. "Because it's not something you just blurt out the first time you speak to someone a month later. And it would have been even more awkward than it already was, especially if he'd asked when I broke up with Tom, and I just didn't want to get into it."
"Okay," Lanie said with a sigh, knowing it was as much as she'd ever get. "He going to call you again?" she asked.
"I don't know," Kate admitted. "Maybe. I wouldn't mind."
"Well, I think it's great that the two of you are talking again at least," Lanie ventured.
"Is he coming back to shadow you in the fall?" Lanie prodded.
Kate sighed. "I don't know."
"But you hope so," Lanie guessed.
"I didn't say that," Kate immediately corrected.
"Sweetie, I'm your best friend," Lanie reminded her gently.
"Yeah," Kate said quietly. "Yeah you are." She paused. "Listen, I'll talk to you later Lanie."
"Bye Kate. Think about what I said."
"Think about what I said," Kate shot back.
Lanie shook her head at her phone. She didn't need to think about what Kate had told her. It was obvious the detective had thought about it all more than enough for the both of them.