I seriously don't know what's wrong with me. I have four other stories currently ongoing, and yet I keep cranking out oneshots. And I've been working on a drabble chronology, too. Just diagnose me OCD now.
This is a oneshot - there is no more of it - and I should stress that it takes place sometime during EARLY season 3. Roy is alive, Becks is with Judy Bloom over there, and Esplanie is either still closeted, or not together yet. This time-setting was picked at random. I just sort of had the idea…Castle and Beckett always have to do flirty stuff together for the job…but what would happen if Castle was ever out of town? ^_^ AWKWARDNESS, THAT'S WHAT. XP
So, this is a team-bonding fic. If I did it right, prepare to bleed laughter. If not, I don't give refunds. ;] And as always? I do not own Castle. Now have at it.
"But, sir - "
"No buts, Beckett. Our window for this takedown is narrow enough as it is."
Detective Beckett followed her skipper through the bullpen anyway, sticking to his heels like a mutt waiting for scraps, only in her case, she was after a reprieve. Her brow rumpled in consternation. "How are Castle and I supposed to go undercover as a couple when he's still in Williamsburg with Alexis?"
"I never said you and Castle," Captain Montgomery corrected, still keeping up stride. "Last I recall, I don't pay Castle for his time here. But there are two men under your umbrella that I do. So, pick one of them to be your fake husband - hell, even take Karpowski. It's a modern world out there."
So not my type. No thanks, Kate shuddered to herself. She followed Montgomery to the door of his office, but he lingered in it, preventing her from entering. He even looked a little amused. How was that fair?
"I trust this operation to be put to bed by tomorrow afternoon, Beckett. I can trust you to have that done, can't I? Or should I assign someone else's team your lead?"
"No!" Damn, that was too quick. Beckett calmed herself, breathing slowly in and out. "No, sir. You're right. I will…I'll get over it and get it done."
Montgomery smiled. "Atta girl." And he disappeared into his office, leaving Kate alone in the bullpen to curse quietly to herself.
After a moment, Beckett pivoted on her toe to cast a look over at her brother-like coworkers - they were both squinting at their computer monitors, and she couldn't help but think that her fictional dating pool had slim, if slightly incestuous pickings. Sighing heavily, she walked up to them, girding herself for the uncomfortable sentence to come.
"One of you has to fake-marry me for twelve hours. Don't everyone jump on the grenade at once."
Ryan wheeled back in his chair a little bit as he stared at her in confusion, sort of like the idea itself was contagious. Esposito just stuck to the confusion. "What for?" the latter asked.
"To get Ferguson. We already know he's our killer - we've got to nab him somehow without spooking him by noon tomorrow or he's gone, which means posing as a husband and wife to get into the couples' retreat, therefore I need a man. Something I'm pretty sure you two are at least related to, somewhere on the evolutionary chain…"
Ignoring the well-placed barb, Ryan proposed, "So, just get Castle to do it."
Giving him a flat look, Beckett spread her hands at the bullpen. "Noticed anything missing these past two days, Ryan?"
The Irish detective looked around for a moment before adopting an 'oh yeah' face, his partner shaking his head in the background. "I did think it was a lot quieter in here," said Ryan.
"That is sad, bro."
Feeling her patience whittling lower, Kate crossed her arms and leveled a look on them both. "It's not like I want to do this either. But it's a fake ring and a few forged docs in case they background-check and in twenty-four hours it'll be over, and it's not going to kill any of us. So one of you volunteer or I'll pick one myself."
"Why don't you just do it that way, then," Esposito suggested. "Just assign one of us. We're not gettin' anywhere like this anyway." Ryan nodded in agreement, fist-bumping his partner.
"Fine." She was getting irritable at this point, and spent about two seconds weighing the options. Grateful to end it, she nodded at Esposito. "Then I choose you."
Esposito's eyebrows shot for the ceiling, while Ryan sniggered to himself. "What? Why me?"
"This is all about acting. Ryan can't lie to save his life," she reasoned.
Now it reversed - Esposito snickered under his breath at his partner's expense, while Ryan squawked out a "Hey!"
"True," Esposito noted.
"You're so not getting a fake-wedding present," Ryan grumbled, returning to his work.
"Hey, you're not expectin' a fake proposal for this whole fake marriage thing, are you?" Esposito called after Kate as she walked back to her desk. "'Cause that's gonna take some time to prepare, gotta do it classy, you know, and we're in kind of a time crunch."
Wearing something between a smirk and her 'unamused' face, Beckett hid her hand in a folder and flipped him the bird.
Time to make things fake-official and get it over with.
Checking in at the reception desk turned out to be harder than they thought. For starters, acting like lovebirds was near-impossible; lucky for them, half of the couples taking part in the weekend getaway had been married for so long, they weren't affectionate anymore anyway. Still, there was a certain amount of 'selling it' involved, and neither of them were too comfortable with it.
It wouldnt've been so difficult if the receptionist wasn't a blithering moron and kind of a racist.
"Good morning," she'd said cheerily. "Welcome to the Burke Suites Hotel and Spa." Then she'd glanced between the two of them, smile intact, adding, "Would you like Economy? I have one available with checkout in an hour."
Beckett subtly stepped on Esposito's foot to remind him that punching the woman in the face was a bad idea. Gritting her teeth a bit, she smiled just as brightly - It's all an act, Kate. Just go with it. "Actually, we're here for the couples' retreat." Mentally vomiting a little, she hooked her arm through Esposito's and snuggled a little closer, stepping even harder on his foot as a silent Don't roll your eyes.
"Oh. Well then." Instead of apologizing, Ms. Happy just looked at the two of them again. "I suppose it takes all kinds…let me see. Ah. We just have one reservation left available. It will be two-hundred dollars for the two-day package. Will that be a problem?"
Esposito opened his mouth to say something, but Kate acted faster. "Shh, honey, I know you want to pay, but we agreed to split it, remember?" She smiled at the woman, handing over the cash that the NYPD would be receiving back by next Monday. "I have it right here."
"Wonderful." The Shiny Bitch accepted Kate's cash and tucked it into the drawer, presenting them with a room key and flinching slightly when Esposito yanked it out of her hand. He winced himself when Kate nearly drove her heel through his shoe. And they were steel-toed boots. "You'll be in room C-19, on the third floor, sixth door on the left."
"Thank you so much," Beckett replied, and then used her arm-leverage to physically drag Esposito from the spot. "Let's go, sweetheart, I know you're dying to check on the room." I hate you, Roy. You suck.
When they were far enough away, Esposito's jaw finally unclenched. "Economy? Economy? What the hell was that about? I can afford Premium, thank you - and it'd take more than an hour."
Ew. "Just stop talking. Enjoy the fact that you'll never have to see her again."
"Isn't she supposed to be in on the crime? Don't we arrest 'er later?"
"No, she isn't, so quit fishing. And at least try to act couple-y; there are cameras everywhere in this place."
They stepped into the elevator, and after the doors had closed, Kate had a thought that suddenly made her pupils dilate without her permission. A glance at Javier, and he was looking the same way. She was pretty sure they had both seen that episode of NCIS.
"We don't…" he hedged. "We don't…hafta…that, do we?"
Kate was pretty sure this was starting to be a good time to shoot herself. She swallowed the urge to introduce her lunch to her shoes. "No. God no. There aren't cameras in the rooms. They can't have cameras in the guests' rooms."
Right? No, they didn't. Of course they didn't. She was going to check. Still. She was a dedicated cop, and if there were, she had to prepare herself now. Prepare for lots and lots of therapy.
"But if there are," she granted, stepping first out of the elevator at level three, "you're going to play it a lot shorter than an hour. Or I will shoot you."
She didn't look back to see if Esposito was choking on his own tongue yet or not.
Dinner was a total bust. Kate had never felt her brain going quite that numb before.
They had spent the entire two-hour meal mingling and fake-laughing at Hamptonite sycophants, finally managing to remember to act like a couple in subtle little ways that didn't make them as nauseous as they could've been. Beckett let Esposito keep his hand on her back, and she found that it sold the façade more plausibly; they'd even gotten the reputation of being the 'cute couple,' if the whispers around the room were any indication. The eveningwear didn't hurt that assumption either, and as much as Kate hated bourgeois, she had to admit, it made people more likely to talk freely.
If only all that talking had resulted in something useful. But it hadn't, and now here they were, puttering about their thankfully-cameraless hotel room and organizing notes and wiretaps and trying to somehow get ready for bed.
A task, by the way, that became even more difficult once it hit them: It was a king-sized bed. Only one. Without so much as a couch in the room.
"We're not sharing that," Beckett said immediately. Her foot was literally put down on this one.
Esposito looked like he, too, would rather carve his own eyes out than play snuggle-buddy. "You think I wanted to share?"
"Good. Because I'm not sharing."
"I - wait. You're not sharing?" He backtracked faster than Michael Jackson, giving her a look. "What makes you think you get the bed?"
Kate operated on the assumption that he probably would've offered it to her anyway, and just skipped the middle-man, crossing her arms. "Because I'm senior detective - "
"Psh, by what, coupla months?"
" - and I say I call the bed."
He spread his arms, at a loss. "So where'm I supposed to sleep?"
"The floor's all yours, G.I. Joe." Kate grabbed up her yoga pants and NYPD shirt from her duffel bag and headed for the bathroom to change, leaving Esposito to fend for himself.
"Fine," he called after her, "Enjoy it, get cozy. Just don't look at that thing with a blacklight."
…Ew. Okay. Seriously. She really hated everyone right now.
The room was pitch-black, and Kate was staring at the ceiling. Oh, sure, she tried to sleep, but that only sounded nice in theory. It was weird; the whole thing was weird.
For starters, she was smack dab in the middle of the bed. She'd tried to keep the same position she did in her own bed at home, slightly left-of-center, but for some reason she kept gravitating toward the big, empty middle, and then felt like she was drowning in the overstarched sheets. Getting comfortable on this thing was apparently an Olympic sport.
And she could hear Esposito, too. He'd snatched up the spare comforter and spread half of it on the floor, laying down on it and flipping the other half over himself, like an undone sleeping bag. He had a pillow that he used in combination with his arm, but it was too understuffed to be worth much of anything, so he kept shifting around. First he faced the wall, then the end-table. Then he took his watch off, only to take it right back off the table again to set the alarm for seven A.M. Then he flipped again and finally stopped moving…
…when Kate's guilt started to set in.
She was being a baby. Wasn't she? They were both mature adults. Esposito was a detective too, he'd worked just as hard on this case as she had, and he'd gone along with everything, even when she hadn't been the best sport about it. And now she was making him sleep on the floor - probably bringing back God only knew what kinds of bad memories - which, of course, he endured without complaint.
It was a big bed, right? Gigantic, even. If she just…if she just stayed way, way, way over here, all the way on this side, he could…he could have some of it, right? It wouldn't be that creepy. It didn't have to be creepy unless she made it creepy. Remember, you are an adult, Kate. This is a work gig, not summer camp. You will be fine.
Kate sighed to herself, cursed out her conscience a little bit, and finally spoke into the darkness. "Esposito?"
Either he was halfway asleep already, or he was faking it. "Yeah."
She scooted so far to the her side of the bed that one wrong breath would've sent her over, and reluctantly offered, "If you want half, come on - provided no one ever learns I just said that and lives."
The floor must've been a bitch to try to sleep on, because he didn't take long to consider it. Kate was already building a Great Wall out of throw-pillows when he climbed on. "Madre santa de Dios, real sheets," he breathed, exhausted. "You can keep my fall bonus for this."
"You don't snore, do you?"
"If I did, it would've been worse on the floor."
"Great. I'm never going to sleep again."
"No, I don't snore. Not that I know of."
"Well everybody says that, nobody can hear themselves when they sleep."
"That's not true; I had a dog once that snored so loud it used to wake itself up."
"Hang on - you are wearing pants, aren't you?"
She could tell she must've come at him from left-field even without seeing him over the pillow-border. The confused face was audible. "Why would I not have pants on? You really think I'd be commando in this situation?"
"Good. Just making sure. Now go to sleep."
"Don't have to tell me twice. 'Night."
"Yeah. 'Night." Kate tucked her comforter up under her arms and waited until Esposito stopped shifting, staring at the ceiling again, willing herself to sleep. See? It's not that creepy. Like a bunk bed, only connected to the side. You can't even see each other. And now you don't have to be guilty. In fact, it's kind of comfy on this side over here, y'know? This isn't so bad…
Until five minutes later, when her eyes popped open. Discovery Number Eighty-Six: Partner B snores like a truck driver.
Sunlight filtered in gradually through the part in the hotel drapes, warming Kate's eyelids. "Mm, five more minutes," she mumbled breathily, not even using an eighth of her consciousness. She wasn't conscious yet, period. Sleep was too good, and she almost never slept in and she never knew before how comfortable this could be…
"Not yet, Castle…"
Which she murmured, by chance, at almost the exact same time that 'Castle' over there mumbled "Lanie…"
And Kate's eyes popped open as the awareness rushed in of exactly who she was…cuddling with? "Oh, my God!" That is not Rick's arm! Or…Josh's arm! Whatever, get it off! She bolted up, and across from her, Esposito must've registered the same level of horror, because so did he, and they jumped to polar-opposite sides of the room like shrapnel.
"There…you…what happened to the pillow-wall?" he freaked, running a hand over his head. "I distinctly remember pillows in the middle."
"Obviously they got shifted - did I just hear you say Lanie?"
"N…no! So what? You said Castle!"
Kate narrowed her eyes, trying to rub the feeling of unintentional incest off her arms. "So how long have you been picturing my best friend naked?" she accused.
"How long you been' dreamin' of makin' little mini-Castles?" he shot back.
"You shut up."
"Oh, my God, we are not having a 'shut up, no you shut up' fight right now! This is not a conversation!" Hating herself for it, Beckett started nervous-pacing back and forth, biting absently at her middle fingernail before whirling toward Esposito, pointing at him threateningly. "Nobody hears about this. Nobody. Do you understand me?"
"If I agree, that means you can't say what I said either," he hedged.
"Fine. It's under the rug. As long as you never, ever repeat any of this to anyone. Ever."
"Fine. Deal." Esposito eyed her cautiously. "Shake on it?"
"I think it's better if we keep a perimeter for a while," Kate shook her head.
"Yeah. Prob'ly right."
"Bathroom first?" she asked, pointing toward the door.
Javier nodded right away. "Take it. I'll change in the closet."
At this point, she didn't even care about concessions; she took her outfit for the day and locked herself in the washroom, eyeing the walk-in bathtub with a longing she hadn't used on an appliance since her apartment had been blown up. With a mental shudder, she spent a moment wishing there was time for six or seven consecutive showers, then discarded that hopeless cause to get changed.
And she definitely wasn't thinking about what it meant that she'd said what she'd said. Not at all. Because it didn't. Mean anything. At all. Really. So there.
"Hey." As soon as they made their way to the hotel bar, the bartender - bearing a striking resemblance to NYPD detective Kevin Ryan - turned around and slid them each a cocktail. It was after noon, after all. "How're you guys?"
"I woke up in a freaking Sandra Bullock movie; how do you think I feel," Kate grumbled quietly.
Esposito only exhaled in agreement, clearly way beyond tired of being a couple already. The mock-bartender raised an eyebrow, but luckily didn't ask for any details. It would've sucked to have to kill him if he did. "That bad, huh?" He looked a little amused, behind his sympathy, though. Maybe she'd have to kill him after all.
Kate didn't respond, just took a long drink from her martini glass, craving a little vodka with every fiber of her being. Only when she lowered the decanter did she wrinkle her brow. "Ryan, this is virgin."
"Yeah, I know. Sucks bein' on duty, doesn't it?" he smirked.
She'd never felt so tempted to splash a drink in someone's face before. Beckett scowled, scarily, and Ryan cleared his throat, backing up to polish a rag over the counter.
"I should, ah…over there."
"Yeah. You do that." On the stool beside her, she felt Esposito start to sigh, and she lifted a finger. "Don't you say a word."
As Darius Ferguson was being handcuffed and led outside by hotel security, Captain Montgomery made his way through the freshly-secured perimeter and gave a smile to his detectives. "Nice work, you two."
"Hey!" Ryan whined.
"The three of you," Roy corrected, though he did throw a 'Watch it, son' look at Ryan, who promptly nodded once at his shoes. "How'd you do it?"
Smiling slightly for the first time since this catastrophic weekend started, Beckett let Esposito take this one. "It was mandatory for all the couples here to attend the 'Community Mixer' in the main ballroom. Just had to count 'em up to find the odd man out. Beckett faked food poisoning as an excuse to get us outta the room, and bam, we catch Fergie over there bookin' it with the cash."
"Red-handed with two-hundred-fifty cool ones," Ryan supplied.
"He came armed, but we had numbers on him," Beckett finished. "Once Ryan came from behind and he realized he didn't have an exit, he chose to surrender."
"Now that's what I mean by 'solid'," Montgomery congratulated them. Then he looked solely at Beckett. "In fact, there's a surprise for you just outside, Detective."
Beckett's eyes widened a fraction. "Me?"
Just in time, Richard Castle came jogging, literally, into the hotel lobby, panting like a Golden Retriever. He stopped in the cops' circle with a crooked grin. "Hey guys! Just…got back…what'd I miss?"
Immediately, Kate felt Esposito's stupid twelve-year-old gaze burning a hole in the side of her head, and she turned to shoot a glare at Captain Montgomery for bringing the puppy, but her superior just winked and walked away to deal with the press. Castle's the press! Can't you deal with him, too? Apparently she wasn't that lucky.
Instead of answering, she turned to Ryan and Esposito. "Both of you, go see if the unis need witness statements and then go home."
"But - "
"It's been a long weekend for all of us. Just do it and go. I expect you both back in first thing Monday morning, understood?"
Both men muttered lines of general agreement and split off, heading for their gear and the parking lot. The instant they were out of sight and earshot, Beckett darted a hand out and grabbed the upper part of Castle's ear, dragging him down to her liking.
"Ow-how! Owowow! Apples! What was that for?"
"Don't you ever leave me alone to have to do that ever again," she chastised him, then let him go and strode toward the rotating door, leaving a flinching, confused, and slightly-smiling Rick Castle in her wake.
For all she cared, this whole gig was just one more scar in the life of Kate Beckett that would never see the light of day, especially not as book fodder. As for her? She had some detecting to do down at the morgue. Some things were just too illuminating.
^_^ Yeah, I know. I know. Welcome to the city of Awkward in sunny Blame Castle Township. XD (If you're wondering why I didn't focus on the case, it's 'cause the case wasn't the point. I didn't even bother researching real hotels this time. Didn't care. It was a means. XD )
If you know which episode of NCIS I was referencing, you'll get it. If you haven't seen it, here's the jist: Tony and Ziva go undercover, only THEIR hotel room DOES have cameras, and they have to pretend to…well, yeah. You can figure out the rest. XD
Anyway. Like I always say, if any of you (ages 14 and over) want to check out a Castle RPG, stop by my profile page and read the paragraph in bold.
I adore reviews. I'm thinking of living off of them instead of oxygen. Please don't make me need the respirator. That would suck. Feed me, Seymour. XP
That's all for now. Peace and love.