Craving some more L/E? Not to worry, I'm back with a fix. XD Trying Beckett's perspective this time. AND IT'S A ONESHOT.
I know I'm kind of breaking my own, 'Don't write a scenario that isn't actually what happens' rule, just a little bit, because I know that this probably won't be the way everyone in season 3 finds out about Lanie and Esposito's relationship. But this has been living in my head for a long time and finally I just had to write/post it. ^^ It's not implausible. (And Andrew Marlowe's more than welcome to it. ;D )
Speaking of Mr. Marlowe: he and ABC own Castle; I do not.
Oh! And this story goes along with my other stories "Keep Your Finger On The Pulse," "Downbeat," and "Gambling With Fate," so I'd obviously recommend giving those a read, though it's not necessary. I'd still appreciate it, and you wouldn't be sorry. ;D This is about a month after "GwF."
And a special 'Thanks' goes out to ApollaCammi for proving that, even though I proudly do not use a beta, it's still sometimes better to take the Beatles' advice and get by with a little help from your friends: the results are quite worth it. ;) Enjoy. ^^
At exactly eight p.m, Kate Beckett rapped softly on the door of Lanie Parish's apartment. Pausing, hearing nothing, she tried again, gave an adjusting tug to the cuff of her red leather bomber, re-crossed her arms and waited, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
"Lanie, it's me," she called, albeit quietly enough not to disturb her friend's less-than-cheerful neighbors. "Ready?"
The two had had Friday-night drink plans, cases pending, for just about as long as Kate could remember. That understood: it wasn't too outlandishly bizarre, Kate thought, to assume Lanie would eventually answer the door, right? No girl on earth was ever on-time for every single night out she ever attended - the inevitable beauty emergency always made sure of that - but was it too much to ask to be spared the pan-Indian cooking smells wafting from the couple in 2B? Not that Kate had room to talk, living in a place that always smelled like Hung's Takeout, but Lanie's vanilla candles were preferable to either.
Still no answer. The cop in Beckett was starting to get a little suspicious, but just as she brushed her hand down to the concealed gun clipped to her dark-wash legging jeans, the sounds of someone getting ready met her ears from inside, and her suspicion immediately ebbed. Lanie just hadn't heard her, obviously, that was all. Instead of arming up, her hand slipped into her purse, and fished out her spare key to Lanie's door. She had no problem waiting, didn't mind it at all…she just didn't have to endure hallway subjection in the process.
Jabbing the key into the lock, she turned it quietly, and Kate let herself inside, putting it back the way she found it. "Lanie, it's me," she repeated, just for insurance, but since the 'getting ready' sounds were revealed to be the running of the shower, she doubted she'd be heard over the faucet scream.
Giving up on identifying herself - Lanie would figure it out - the detective gave her freshly-volumized hair an absentminded toss with one hand as she looked around, and settled on picking up a copy of GQ Magazine from Lanie's coffee table. Ha. Why am I not surprised to see an address in the subscription window. Both of Kate's four-inch high heels were discarded languidly on the carpet below, and she settled cozily into the plush corner of the couch; legs tucked under her, flipping the first page, starting the waiting process.
It took a Daniel Craig article, an 'of-the-month' spread and a 'How Well Do You Know Your Man?' quiz before the shower-running sound became a squeak of interrupted faucets, then finally a nothing. Kate - who hadn't actually worn her father's watch with this outfit but had tucked it in her (discount sale) Tory Burch clutch - pulled out the timepiece and gave it a casual check. It's only been eight minutes…? Huh. There's gotta be longer articles in here somewhere.
Her soft-focused green eyes and most of her attention were on the Gerard Butler interview currently in her hands when the bathroom door opened a crack, letting a small flowing steam cloud out to disperse itself around the ceiling.
"Hey; I figured I'd let myself in," Kate said, once she felt the faint gust that came from the door opening all the way, hearing footsteps emerge. Without bothering to look up, she teased, "Take extra long to ditch the formaldehyde smell tonight? We've got to get you out of that morgue more often."
The footsteps came to an abrupt stop, pretty much as soon as she announced herself - the kind Kate had heard a thousand times before, usually when 'playing dead' to confirm whether or not a suspect was on the move. And since she'd been expecting some verbal backlash to the effect of, 'I get out more than you do, thank you,' it was something of a surprise. Now she looked up.
And then the word 'surprise' was totally redefined in her vocabulary.
That was…not Lanie. The very-not-Lanie man in front of her, the damp one wearing only military dogtags and a towel wrapped at his waist, was a pretty good first clue to that. Plus there was the fact that she knew him. (Not this well, granted…)
"I…what are you…"
"…What the hell are you doin' here?"
For the universe's record, these were two people not used to being well-versed in stammering. Clearly they hid it well.
Stunned out of a poker face for once, Kate looked just as gobsmacked as she felt, which was about as much as her half-dressed detective there. (If you could call that 'dressed' in any capacity…) As a woman, it was hard not to once-over him and give the 'eight-point-seven out of ten' rating that popped (un-invited) into her brain; and as his boss/pseudo sister, it was even harder not to yell 'Are you aware you still have no shirt on! And that's not even the extent of the problem here! God!'
A difficult situation all around, basically.
"I…" The word seemed to force its way out of him, driven by some desperate need to provide explanation. With a couple trips and some decisive blinking out of the way, he caught his balance and was back to running for the goal line. "I…was just…here because, the water's out, at my place; Dr. Parish was kind enough to - "
Beckett put up a palm, partially to stop him, and partially to block him. "Spare me the bullcrap, okay? I'd like a little credit for having braincells, and beyond that I don't wanna know."
"Don't lie to me Esposito, it's unnecessary and it's annoying."
Detective Wisteria Lane over here's expression went from faked ignorance to flat and blunt, making better transition time than his car. "So you're tellin' me you didn't want a reason for this seventh-level-of-hell awkwardness here."
Beckett stuffed her sentiment of 'Exactly!' into a tight, dark, airless metaphorical corner, covering it up with a good 'that's insane' laugh that'd only come off as nervous if you tried hard enough. "Why? It's not like I own you."
"…Exactly." Was this okay on any level? He was taking the opportunity to agree either way. "You don't own me."
"Right. I don't."
"So…you're not weirded out by this." He was just about as good an interrogator as she, and he knew he'd get more results with a question phrased as a fact.
"Why should I be?"
Or not… Just don't question it. "Right."
"I don't care what you do. You…two."
"Yes it is."
"Glad we got that settled."
"Put something on, please…?"
Probably the most abrupt subject-change ever, but Kate had to do it, forcing herself to swallow after the first word to cure panicky-drymouth. She'd tried, that counted, and she was a fully capable adult here - but just because she'd schemed in their relationship a little didn't mean she wanted to be walking in on the post-game show. Now or ever. Her involvement ended at meddling and potential future wedding toasts, if she had her way, and right about now her meter for pretending this was totally adult and normal was hitting 'full.'
For the first few seconds it seemed like he didn't get it, so she pointed at him with her non-shielding hand. (It must have been like that 'at work in your underwear' dream, where inevitably by the end you forget where your humiliation actually sourced from, you're just used to that 'oh crap' feeling.) "Oh. Right, yeah."
It was at that moment, naturally, because of the universe's impeccably fantastic timing - either that or, y'know, she'd heard them - that a door at the back of the apartment opened, and Lanie came out of her bedroom. (Whichever way you went with, it meant Javier still wasn't going anywhere. 'Freeze' was the setting of the day.) The second the doctor's feet touched carpet, Lanie froze as well, looking between her best friend and her…whatever, with a red-handed kind of sheepish look that said she'd just as soon wake up in a cold sweat right now.
She was a common way out for the two detectives. Ironically, they added another layer of 'no eye contact for a week' by greeting her at exactly the same time. It was like an auction, only the competition was unintentional.
"Lanie, hi; I - "
"Lain! We were just - "
Kate killed her sentence instantly and mercifully. 'Lain?' Good God: when it works, it really works fast… She shook her head and re-started: "I just…let myself in, I came by to pick you up - "
"Ohhh, for drinks; right, it's Friday," Lanie finished for her, as if she'd just assembled that information. She smacked her own forehead into her palm, looking up from the carpet after half a second to send Beckett an apologetic look. "Honey, I am so sorry, I forgot all about it."
Clearly. "It's okay."
The medical examiner made for her purse on the front table. "'Cause we can go right now…"
The universe was persistent, and, being a smart woman, Kate decided to listen to it. (This, it appeared, was her penance for meddling in it. Blindsided awkwardness.) She stood up and slipped back into her shoes - regaining a little of her familiar, usually-powerful height, which could only help - and paid extra special (unnecessary) attention to placing the magazine back where she'd found it on the coffee table, all aligned in the stack as if somebody would eventually care. "No, no, that's okay. I've actually got some case notes I can finish up anyway; I'll just take a rain check and let you guys get back to…" Not finishing that sentence. "…Yeah."
Major points went to Lanie for managing to look sincerely disappointed. "What? No, c'mon - you sure?"
Kate flashed a smile. "Definitely, yeah, of course. We'll hang out Sunday. You guys have fun." And keep me totally ignorant of it.
"And you don't need me on it with you?" Javier checked.
Not like that… "No. No. Boring legal stuff. I won't need you and Ryan again 'till a call comes in."
For the love of God, will the two of you stop asking me if I'm sure! Here she was trying to end this little play, and they just kept adding lines. "Positive. Seriously, it's fine. So. …I should get to work."
"All right…Soho on Sunday? Usual spot?" the M.E. asked.
Lanie smiled for the first time in the last ten minutes. Probably had a lot to do with relief. "Perfect," she exhaled. "I got the first round, you hear?"
You know? Kate really wasn't going to argue this time. "Deal," she said. Purse in one hand, the other was on the door, beyond ready to go pretend to work and not think about the precursor to what she'd just walked in on. "See you then. I'll…see you Monday Esposito."
"Yeah, see ya Monday."
In a far-reaching corner of her peripheral vision, Beckett caught a split second of his and Lanie's loaded glance at each other…but her back was pressed to the other side of the closed door so quickly that nobody could've had time to say 'you sure' again, so, it really didn't make her list of stuff to dwell on. She took what felt like her first breath of freedom from an itchy turtleneck, and shoved out the exhale in one of those sighs that bug your eyes out. Talk about an informative evening.
Her 'processing and digesting' moment ended up being shorter than its title. No more than five seconds went by before Kate pushed off the door and walked her brisk walk down the hallway, waiting until the elevator ate her to pounce on her first order of business.
The 'scroll' and 'talk' buttons on her keypad must have thought she hated them. Assault completed, Beckett lifted the phone to her ear and waited for the click and the voice.
It came in a ring and a half. "Ryan here."
"Why didn't you tell me?" she demanded. The term 'hi' was so overrated anyway.
"Hang on…" In the background there were a handful of sounds that annoyed Kate by keeping her waiting, like the pausing of a movie and a muffled "Hey, Jen, it's work: one second okay?" (Kate was too distracted to feel bad.) When those were sufficiently over, he returned to full clarity. "Tell you what? If you're talking about a body, I swear I thought Stegner's team was on call this weekend - and, if you're not, I'm lost."
It wasn't so much what Ryan was saying, she didn't really pay attention to that: it was more like, the proof that he was listening again was her clearance to pick up where she left off. Which she did. "Don't try to act like the dummy in all this. I know you know because if anybody was gonna know, it'd be you."
"Uh, have you - ?"
"You didn't think just a little courtesy heads-up would've been a good idea?"
"At this point I'm seriously hoping somebody's dead over there, actually - "
"No, no. I get it. You two. All three of you guys; you just like to see how many ways you can pull one over on me in a day." Ryan had just stopped trying to butt in with his own words. "That's really spectacular, that you all enjoy this. Apparently you don't think I'm crazy enough."
That one was too good to pass up. "…Can I argue with that, or…?"
"You know what? I'll see you Monday, I have to go: but do not think this is over."
"I…don't even know what to think it was in the first place…" But all Beckett heard of that was "I don - " before she hung up her phone, stepping out into the post-rainy street to slide behind the wheel of her car. Come Monday, her sense of logic would undoubtedly be back in working order…but it was only Friday night. There was a whole weekend ahead to fake-work herself back into professionalism and for Ryan to wonder exactly what she thought he hadn't told her.
It was a self-sacrificing job, cultivating other people's relationships.
So, the word of the day is 'awk-waaaaard'…;D Hope you guys found that as fun as I did. I've been thinking about it for forever, so, I'm glad it finally got written, because it just makes me giggle. ^^
(AND: just in case anybody still doesn't get why Kate was so stunned to find them together, I'll clarify. YES, she did scheme to get Lanie and Esposito together in "Gambling With Fate," but like I said, this story is about a month after that. As far as Kate knows, nothing ever really came of it. So she's happy for them: she'd just rather have found out less awkwardly that her plan worked. And yes, poor Ryan really is cluelessly innocent. XD Hope it's clear enough. )
Also, as I say on every chapter of all my stories: if there's anyone (ages 14 and over) interested in joining a Castle roleplaying forum, check out the bolded paragraph in my profile. Thank you.
That said, hope you guys enjoyed, and I LOVE hearing specifically what you liked, 'cause that's a huge help, so PLEASE REVIEW! REVIEWS MAKE MY DAY! :D
Thanks again. Peace & love, all.