Yes, everyone and their momma knows I'm an Esplanie shipper by now. Sometimes I feel like I'm paddling the boat alone, but whatever; I will gladly stick an Esplanie flag on the roof of my place of residence and call it a day. Therefore, I am NOT HAPPY that they've (spoiler alert) called it quits. (Even if I DO enjoy the resulting snippy banter. That's always fun. XD ) I remain hopeful (and by that I mean desperate) that they'll get back together in 4x11. (Read Tamala's interviews and you'll see why I think that.)

So, after tonight's episode (4x08, "Heartbreak Hotel"), and that VERY surprising, erm, undercover operation, this needed to be written. It just needed to. (And also, we will ALWAYS need more Beckett/Lanie. Always always.)

As always, ad nauseum, I don't own Castle. Nor do I own Elvis. And thank God for that.

Enjoy. And stuff.



"I have something. And you're not going to guess what it is."

When words like that came from the mouth of Kate Beckett not two seconds after the double-doors banged open, it was usually worth paying attention to. Dr. Parish finished pulling off her latex glove, disposing both in a trash receptacle before turning around, hands finding perches on her hips. She raised an eyebrow. "A date with Writer-Boy," Lanie guessed.

Beckett's eyes narrowed on her friend. "No."

"Coupons for a spa weekend?"

"I wish."

"Then it's gotta be some kinda vital information for you to come all the way down here."

"Oh, you have no idea. Better." Dipping a hand into her coat pocket, Beckett started thumbing through the photos on her phone.

Lanie chuckled slightly, shaking her head. "Aren't I usually the one with crucial dish for you? It seems like it usually goes that way." She turned to wipe her table down with an antiseptic before throwing that away too. "This is a little backwards for me, but okay, I'll take it."

"Trust me; ten seconds from now you are going to be very glad I came." At this point, Kate looked like she was a breath away from laughing, and she wasn't hiding it very well, either. For another agonizing few seconds, Lanie was left standing there, wondering what was up, until the detective finally detected what she was looking for. Biting her lip, she turned the screen of her phone toward her best friend.

Lanie blinked. After a glance, she cast her gaze back to Kate, missing something. "Why am I looking at three Elvis impersonators who clearly live in their mothers' basements?"

"Look at it again," was all Beckett would answer her. "Look closer this time."

Grabbing the phone for herself, the medical examiner complied, squinting at the picture until- "Ohhh, my God."

"I know," Kate practically yelled, exhaling all at once.

Lanie's jaw was close to dangling. "That is not."

"Oh, yes it is. Trust me."

"Nuh-uh. You put them up to this."

"Oh, are you kidding me? I only wish I was that cruel. That would've been genius at the Christmas party." The usually-composed detective was openly snickering at this point.

"I'll be hot-damned." Beckett moved to take her phone back, but Lanie pivoted away, swatting her hand down. "Oh, no. I'm committing this to memory. And you owe me a print copy, besides an explanation."

"Well," Kate started, hopping up to sit on the edge of the table, "Rick said the whole thing started when - "

"Rick said?" For that one, the M.E. tore her eyes off the blackmail for a second, throwing a little 'mmm-hm' look at Kate.

The cop just rolled her eyes. "Yes, Rick said. Shut up."

"Hey, that's all right by me. You keep lyin' to yourself and one day they'll make you president."

"Anyway." Kate chucked a spare glove at Lanie's face, scrunching up her nose when it came back at her. "He said that it all started when the owner threw them out of the Sapphire."

"Oh, why does that not surprise me."

"And there were costume guys moving racks of these outfits for the convention - "

"So those Elvis conventions really exist, huh? I thought that was just a TV thing. My mistake."

" - which was what gave Castle the idea. Apparently it was the best way to get back into the building without being caught by anyone. And hey, it worked - I'm just surprised he got the guys to agree to that, though at this point I'm not really sure why that shocks me. I should know better by now."

"Yeah, I'd say you probably should," Lanie clucked. "The only thing I can't believe is that they let you commit it to film."

"Hey, what they don't know won't hurt them. At least until it ends up on all the bulletin boards."

The coroner turned to give her friend a highly-impressed raise of the eyebrows. "Katherine Beckett. I think I get prouder of you all the time."

"Thanks. I like to think I'm not all work."

"Mm-hm, attagirl…"

Lanie's eyes had drawn back to the phone by then, looking as distracted as she sounded, and after half a beat or so, Kate couldn't help but notice that her associate was staring slightly right-of-center. She swung her legs back and forth a bit, heels lightly banging the base of the table to combat the silence, and she waited another moment before she said anything.

"…Hey. You okay?"

Lanie looked up, plaintive. "What? Any reason you'd be asking?"

Kate bobbed her head toward the phone. "I was just thinking it might've been too soon, that's all."

"Oh - girl, please." Now it was Lanie's turn to scrunch up her nose, and she handed the phone back to Kate, ready to get rid of the thing like a venereal disease. "I am just fine. And besides: dressed like that? The only thing I'm thinking is that I dodged a big-ass, blue suede bullet."

"Uh-huh. Sure."

"Oh, what. You know somethin' I don't?"

"No. No." Beckett raised both palms to shoulder-level in defeat, leaving the phone by her hip on the autopsy table. "I just thought I should be sure. If you say you're fine, I'll believe you."

"I thought you said you were stayin' out of this, anyway?" Lanie asked suspiciously.

"I am. It's not my business. Not that that ever stopped you, by the way," the detective couldn't help but jab.

"Well gee, don't I feel just special."

"Of course, if there was something you wanted to talk about, you know you could tell me," Beckett hedged.

Slipping her arms out of her lab coat, Dr. Parish crossed the room to hang it on the hook by the door, coming back to the sinks to scrub the rubbery feeling off her hands. She shot a look in Kate's direction on the way. "Don't think I don't know what you're doin'."

"Please. I'm not doing anything."

"Oh, yes you are. You're not that coy. I know that face, and that is not Sweden."



"People always use Sweden when they're talking about neutrality. Switzerland was actually neutral first."

"Don't make me hurt you, Kate."

"Anyway, that's not it at all. I said when you two got together, I wasn't going to get involved, and I said it again when you guys split up. And I mean that. And I told him that too. After all, you're my best friend."

"Good, you remember."

"And Esposito is my friend too. And teammate."

"Yes; shockingly that information stuck with me as well." Lanie shut off the water and snatched a disposable towel from the dispenser on the wall, drying her hands with it as she turned around. "And I told you. There wouldn't be a 'side' to choose even if you wanted to. For the hundredth time, we ended things mutually."

"That doesn't mean you're not allowed to act hurt about it, Lanie." Almost without pause, Beckett added, "Which you obviously are, considering you practically bit his head off at the crime scene - "

"Okay, you can stop right there," Lanie interrupted her; "I did not - "

Kate interrupted right back. "Oh, come on, Lanie. He and Ryan have been way bigger wiseasses before that, and you never said a word before. In fact most of that stupid punchline came from Castle. Besides, you called him 'Detective' in front of everyone. That's a little thick on the formality considering you've seen each other naked."

"So what's your excuse with Castle?" Lanie snarked back, folding her arms across her chest.

Beckett actually laughed at that one. "Oh, you are so far off-base."

"And you're any closer to home?"

"Yes, yes I am," Kate declared confidently. The two women had a moment's unintentional staredown, then Kate reached back into her bun to scratch at a bobby-pin, softening her tone considerably. "Look," she preempted, "I'm not going to go giving you relationship advice. I think after Tom and Josh combined I'd be the last person allowed to do that, even if I thought this was relatively safe to stick my nose into."

"Oh, somehow I don't think those two are your worst offenses," Lanie muttered.

"I'm just saying, you're always telling me not to shut up about these things. So, I just thought I'd let you know it's mutual, just in case you happened to be hiding behind some, I don't know, double standard," Beckett hinted, somehow offhand and pointed at the same time.

With that floating out there, it was a few moments in silence before Lanie said anything. She sighed, chucking her paper towel into a wastebasket, pivoting to prop her hip against the counter and aim a relenting look at Detective Beckett. "It's not that I don't appreciate."

"Good. But?"

"But, as I have said, I'm fine. And I'm not talking the Kate Beckett brand of 'fine' in which you slap on your Supergirl mask and lie your ass off to everyone around you."

"I…resent that, but I hear you," Kate followed patiently.

"Javier and I, we just wanted different things," Lanie explained, the pang at his name obvious, but Kate didn't call it out. "We're both adults - "

"You are both adults."

" - and if I possibly haven't been the most mature in professional situations, all right, I apologize. But honey, trust me. If I was honestly messed up, you would know it. And he would know it. In fact I'm pretty sure most of Manhattan would know it," she finished, running on either self-assurance or stubbornness. Taking a deep breath, she added, "However, if that changes and I need a good talk and strong alcohol, I'mma hold you to that offer."

"Good," Beckett declared again, cracking half a smile this time. She nodded once, seeming satisfied…until she seemed contemplative. Her demeanor changed by a margin, and after a few beats, she cocked her head at Lanie. "…But, you do miss him, though."

The drawback of being friends with a detective. Lanie turned halfway, stacking medical supplies from her tray back onto their shelves, lips pursed into a fine line.

"You do," Kate concluded. She'd known it before, but confirmation was half her job.

"I might have my moments," the doctor conceded, "but I still don't doubt we made the right decision. Things just weren't working and it was time for a change. Little air to breathe."

"You think it'll stick?"

Lanie glared at her friend strongly enough to fry skin from the bone.

Again Beckett's palms went up. "Sorry. I take it that was asking."

The M.E. softened, going back to her restocking. "It's like I said. All of this was for the best. No regrets from me, absolutely not."

"So… You would be okay with it if he…went out with somebody else."

"Hell no, but that's a respect thing. You wanna jump beds, you'd better be an eight-year-old in pajamas. There is a consideration period for everyone involved. It's like waiting for the divorce to be final, only less paperwork."

"Uh-huh. And how would you know about divorce proceedings?" Beckett smirked.

"Let's just say I had a particularly volatile aunt and uncle."

"I almost forgot I was talking with the Queen of Relationship Consultants for a second. Won't happen again."

"Don't you let it," Lanie mock-warned.

The detective gave her grin time to fade on its own, watchfully looking over at her best friend, like a sister-hawk of sorts. "You're sure you're okay?"

The shorter woman feigned complete indignance. "Yes, mom, I promise on your advance copy of whatever Heat book Castle cranks out next," she exhaled.


"Anything else you'd like me to swear on? That coffee cup maybe? Your favorite boots you still won't let me borrow?"

"I keep telling you we're different shoe sizes."

"And I keep telling you that would never stop Naomi Campbell."

"And I notice you never offered to swear on a stack of Bibles. Isn't that usually a go-to?" Beckett smirked, sliding to hop off the countertop.

"You're off-duty. You can stop noticing things now," Lanie deadpanned. "Now are we sharing a cab or am I shoving your size-nothing ass out of my exam room?"

"I think I can swing half a cab fare," the detective grinned. She stretched her arms behind her back, then picked up her empty coffee cup and dropped it in the wastebasket, and together, the two women made their way toward the doors. "Ooh, hey - if we pass by the guys, you want me to run interference?"

Lanie grabbed her blue coat from the hook, expression flattening sharply. "Now stop that."

"No, seriously, I could throw my jacket over you and he'd never know. It totally worked in L.A."

"Katherine Beckett. I will climb those boots and slap you if I have to."

"Of course, he'd probably still know it was you since we're coming from the morgue. But that's okay, 'cause then we can just cut through the back alley that leads a block over and cross in front of Winston's…"

"I am half a step from pretending I don't know you."

"Oh, I know! We could always dress you up as Elvis…"



So, there you have it. I choose to believe there is yet hope for Esplanie - and if I get to mock the Three Kings of Atlantic City in the process? That's just a sacrifice I'm willing to make. ;) Hope you enjoyed this small moment of much-needed girltalk. (I love Beckett with her "hair down.")

I say this on every new installment that I publish here, so here it comes: Do you enjoy Castle fanfiction? Want to roleplay with Castle characters in a writing-based Castle community? Head over to my profile page and read the paragraph in bold font. We're an un-affiliated, nonprofit, free forum, made BY and FOR Castle fans. ^^ ((SPECIAL NOTICE: one of our members has dropped a character, and as of this moment, we are NOW LOOKING for someone interested in playing DR. LANIE PARISH! ANYONE who's interested, please! Read up! Check it out! We can hook you up with a ready-made Lanie profile; all you have to do is inquire! You'll be able to pick up where the old player left off, and Lanie is a hot canon character, so don't hesitate! ^^ ))

Okay, I think I've rambled enough for one author's note. XD I've sort of gotten used to a drought of reviews, given that I write mostly Esposito, Lanie, or Ryan stories and everyone mostly cares about Caskett…but I would ADORE it if you guys proved my meager expectations wrong. Just a few seconds to tell me what you liked about the oneshot, a favorite part/line, any thoughts you might have; that would really make my day. And my days are crazy hectic lately, so I could use that. Please consider it. Reviews are like chocolate. :D

That's all for now, loves. (I'll be updating both "Valor" and "The Paths We Take" soon, by the way.) Peace and love. I'm out.