A/N For Sam.
Happy Fathers' Day to all the dads out there – hope you had an enjoyable day.
"Ugh," Beckett said tiredly, hanging up her phone and slamming it on the table.
One date. That's all she wanted. One measly date. A night of food, fun and laughter. A reason to shave her legs and wear perfume.
She'd had everything set up, a guy on his way to pick her up from the precinct, and she'd had to cancel because of a case. Story of her life, really - work always getting in the way.
Her plans were the reason she was sitting there with her hair pinned up and her 'going out' clothes on.
"Hey," Castle said, sitting down in his chair next to her desk. "Big date tonight?"
"I wish. Had to cancel," she replied stretching her arms out behind her head. "Again."
"The date with that guy Lanie set you up with?"
"And you cancelled because that dirtbag's here for interrogation?"
Castle looked at her awkwardly. "...you know Ryan and Esposito are already in there taking care of it, right?"
"Dammit!" she exclaimed. She could have gone out after all.
"But..." Castle continued, "...if you still wanted to go out, there's a new restaurant I've wanted to try for weeks."
Beckett stared at him. "You're asking me to go out to dinner with you?"
"You're ready to go out, it'd be a waste of nice clothes," Castle justified, combining an explanation and a compliment in one comment.
"I won't care if work calls or anything. I like 'work'," he grinned.
Beckett considered it for a moment. "Ah, what the hell," she muttered. She grabbed her coat and they headed towards the elevator.
"How did you get reservations so fast?" Beckett whispered. Their waiter sat them at their table and gave them menus.
Castle pointed to himself. "Best-selling author, Kate," he said. Beckett stared at him. "If this is a date, per se, we should be ignoring all things related to work; I call you 'Beckett' at work, therefore I should call you by your actual name now."
"So I can call you Di-"
"Rick is fine," he said quickly.
Beckett sniggered. It really was a beautiful restaurant. Red and gold hangings adorned the walls, candles were on every table.
She just didn't think she'd be in a place like this with the man she worked with.
"So, in the spirit of not working, we should discuss things other than the case," Castle said as he sipped from his wine glass.
"You're really getting into this whole thing, aren't you?"
"Fancy restaurant, beautiful woman, excellent wine; may as well make the most of it," he smiled.
Castle started a conversation about his first arrest – "It's not like you investigated it, so it's not work" – as Beckett read over the menu.
She'd eaten at restaurants before, sure. But this one? So fancy that the food wasn't listed under names – it just had a long-winded description for each meal followed by the name of a suitable wine.
Considering the Chinese food temple she had in her fridge at home, she wasn't really an expert at red wine reductions and glazed sautéed things.
While he was talking, Castle noticed Beckett's awkwardness as she read over the menu. As discreet as she was trying to be, he could still see the tiny furrow in her brow and the miniscule biting of her lip that occurred only when she was confused.
"Excuse me," he said to the passing waiter. Beckett looked up, wondering what the hell he was doing.
"Sir?" the waiter replied.
"Could you please bring out the chef? I have a question for him."
"Absolutely, sir." The waiter left.
"Two things: can you just ask for the chef like that? And what are you doing?"
"Can't say I've ever asked for the chef before and-"
Beckett turned to where the voice was coming from. A man wearing the complete head chef uniform was striding towards them, beaming at Castle.
"Alain DuGras!" Castle responded. He stood up and shook hands with the man. "I didn't know you were the head chef here!"
"Oui, monsieur. Ze previous chef moved to Iowa shortly after ze opening, so I took ze job," he explained, his French accent heavy. "And who is zis?" he added, looking at Beckett.
"Alain DuGras, meet Detective Kate Beckett. Kate, Alain DuGras," Castle introduced.
Beckett stood up and shook DuGras' hand. "Pleasure."
"Ze inspiration for your books!" DuGras said to Castle as he and Beckett took their seats again. "J'adore ze Nikki Heat novels."
"I'm glad," Castle beamed. Beckett rolled her eyes. "Alain, could you do Miss Beckett and I a favour?"
"Anyzing for you, monsieur."
"Could we have two of your amazing hamburgers? I've told Kate all about them, and-"
"Ah, of course! Deux hamburgers, coming up!"
"You know the head chef?" Beckett hissed incredulously.
"Best-selling author," Castle said, pointing to himself again. "I tell ya, it has perks sometimes."
Beckett laughed again. When was the last time she'd had this much fun when she wasn't working a case?
Their burgers arrived - with a note from DuGras saying "Enjoy the hamburgers, Mademoiselle Beckett!" – and they ate happily, discussing various topics ranging from favourite type of cupcake to how to instate world peace.
Beckett's phone rang.
She closed her eyes, praying that the ringing was just an illusion so she could stay there and keep eating.
It didn't stop.
She looked apologetically at Castle before answering. "Beckett."
"It's Ryan. Just got a call saying our prints won't be ready until tomorrow afternoon instead of in the morning. Just giving you a heads up."
Beckett sighed, relieved. "Thanks, Ryan."
"Hope I didn't interrupt your date with the writer monkey," Ryan continued, and Beckett could hear sniggering in the background – clearly, Esposito was there as well.
"Bye," Beckett said lightly. She put her phone back into her bag. "Prints have been backlogged. Bit of a delay," she explained to Castle.
"Awesome," he replied, and went back to eating his burger.
Dessert time came an hour after they'd finished their burgers – the conversation had been so constant that they hadn't even looked at the menus again until the waiter came over and pointed out that people were waiting for a table.
Beckett liked the conversation. At first, she'd stifled it a bit, thinking I work with this guy, he's a co-worker, don't tell him anything he doesn't need to know, but caved when he started talking about his summer holiday adventures from when he was a teenager. Next thing she knew, she was telling him about the time she'd snuck out of her house to go rock climbing with her boyfriend, only to be stood up and left to spend the night waiting for another taxi to take her home.
"Poor Beckett," Castle said, sounding both sympathetic and sarcastic at the same time. "Here, have some sorbet to make you feel better." He held his spoon up in front of her, loaded with the dessert.
Instead of leaning in a taking it, Beckett grabbed the spoon and his bowl and claimed it as her own. "Never offer Kate Beckett ice cream unless you want to lose the entire lot."
Castle had no idea how to continue eating without cutlery. "Grrr," he said sarcastically.
After Castle paid the bill ("I took you out, I'll pay," he insisted as Beckett reached for her bag) they took a taxi back to her apartment.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning," Castle said as she opened the door.
"You don't want to come up for drinks?" she asked. Part of her couldn't believe she was asking Rick Castle to her apartment for drinks; the other was hoping he wouldn't decline.
"Sure," he said enthusiastically.
They went up to her apartment, and she poured them both glasses of wine. They kept talking – her laughing while telling him about her first day as an officer was enough to make him snort into his glass. It wasn't often that he saw her appear to have this much fun.
"Well," Castle said, picking up their now empty wine glasses and transferring them to the sink. "I should be going. Alexis leaves for camp tomorrow, and I want to be well rested by the time she leaves."
"In the morning?"
"She just wants to make sure she gets there in plenty of time."
Beckett smiled and walked to the door with him. "I had a really good time tonight. Thank you."
"We should do it again sometime."
Without hesitation, Beckett replied. "Absolutely."
Castle slowly leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. It wasn't aggressive, but it was far from a polite peck. "Until tomorrow, Kate Beckett."
"Until tomorrow, Rick Castle."
Beckett closed the door behind him, unable to wipe the smile from her face.