For Nathan fan, who requested a fic about Castle meeting Kate's book club (assuming she belongs to one of course). This is set somewhere around the second season, although I'm not setting it anywhere really specific. I also decided to not really deal with the idea of how big a fan of his she really is. Kinda went another way. I hope you like it.

xxxx

Book Club

xxxx

"Why won't you bring him Kate?" Ellen pressed.

Kate Beckett sighed. Ellen, one of the dominant personalities in her local book club was starting in on a familiar refrain, namely why she wouldn't introduce them to her partner-of-sorts, Richard Castle. The entire book club knew about him of course. She knew she'd never be able to hide it. And they were all desperate to meet him. None of them seemed to understand how very, well, complicated, that could be. "Because..." Kate said, knowing it wouldn't cut it.

"Because why?" Ellen pressed.

"Because it's awkward," Beckett told her. " I work with him every day. Every day he follows me around, and, I don't know... Ell."

"Well, I think it's very selfish of you," Ellen said stubbornly. The other women in the group nodded in teh background. "Keeping that big hunk of a man all to yourself."

"Guys, it's not like that," Kate insisted.

"Sure it isn't," Ellen teased.

Kate felt like banging her head against the table. "It isn't!"

"Kate, you're working with your favourite author ever, the guy whose books you recommended to this book club yourself," Ellen reminded her. "You love his writing. We love his writing. And now you actually know him."

"I know," Kate all but growled.

Ellen concealed her smile, sensing that she might actually be getting somewhere with her arguments this time. "I just think it's selfish of you not to introduce us. After all, if I knew Michael Connolly, I'd bring him along."

"He knows Michael Connolly," Kate murmured.

"Well, a fat lot of good that'll do us, since we'll never know Castle or Connolly," Ellen groused.

Kate sighed again, "It's not that I don't..."

"What?" her friend prompted.

"Look, I've said things here..." Kate explained.

Ellen started to finally get an inkling about the real issue. "Things you haven't maybe said to him?"

"Maybe," Kate admitted.

Ellen leaned in, a plan for getting what she wanted forming in her mind. "What if we promise not to spill the beans as a group?"

Kate wavered, "I don't know guys..."

"Come on Kate," Ellen said. "A real famous author. How often does that happen to anyone? Anyone who isn't you at least."

"It's not like it's happened to me all that many times!" Kate objected. "Castle's kind of... unique."

"Kate..." Ellen said, ready to press her point.

But Kate cut her off before she could launch into it again. "I'll think about it, alright?"

Ellen smiled, recognizing progress when she heard it. "That's all I ask."

"Fine, can we stop talking about this now?" Kate asked.

"Of course," Ellen agreed, deciding to launch one more attack before a temporary retreat. "It would be a nice Christmas surprise though."

"Ellen!" Kate growled.

"Okay, okay," her friend said, raising her hands in surrender. "Moving on, what did everyone think of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie?"

Kate watched as her book club turned their attention back to the latest book they'd been reading. She'd been expecting Ellen to ask about Castle for a while. The topic of the writer came up reasonably regularly. Kate wasn't sure how long she could keep avoiding the issue anymore.

It was irritating, (much like the writer himself).

She knew that eventually she'd have to face the issue.

xxxxx

Kate shuffled awkwardly. She'd been putting this off as long as possible, but there was no point in stalling. She knew the girls would just tease until she gave in.

"Detective," Castle greeting, walking into the precinct one morning. "Your coffee."

"Thanks Castle," she murmured.

He frowned, obviously noticing her distraction. "Something wrong?"

She exhaled slowly. "Could you do me a favour?"

Castle smile slowly, sitting down across from her. "Name it," he said. "What would you like? Box seats to baseball game? A table at a restaurant? A pony?"

Beckett smiled at the last offer. Then she took a deep breath, preparing for the worst. "I'm in a book club," she explained.

"That's not all that surprising," Castle said. "After all, I think we've already established that you like to read, Detective. Maybe some authors more than others," he teased.

Beckett didn't take the bait, ignoring the second half of his comment. "Anyway, the girls know I work with you, and they were wondering..."

Castle grinned. "If I could stop buy one day, maybe sign a few autographs?"

Beckett winced, "Well, I don't know about the autographs, but they would like to meet you. After all, I'm really the only one of us on speaking terms with a professional author. Apparently I owe it to the group. If you'd rather not, that's fine," Kate hastened to assure him.

But Castle was already shaking his head, still beaming at her. "No, no!" he said immediately. "It would be my pleasure, Detective. I'd love to meet your friends. When's the next meeting?"

"Thursday," Beckett muttered, unsure what she'd just gotten herself into. "We usually meet at around 8pm at one of the neighbourhood restaurants. I can give you the address."

"I'll be there," Castle promised. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."

And he wouldn't, a chance to meet his very private Detective's friends? He'd have to be crazy. He sent her a reassuring smile.

Unsurprisingly Beckett's smile in response was more than a little shaky.

xxxxx

By the time Thursday rolled around, Beckett's nerves still hadn't settled. The girls (even Ellen) had promised not to reveal anything too embarrassing, not deliberately at least. But there was no telling what they might reveal accidentally, and Beckett was worried about what might come out.

Not to mention, the book club may have been a private party, but she was about to witness Castle interacting with the public up close and personal, and a mostly-adoring public at that. Beckett didn't know what to expect. After all, she'd seen Castle with his readers before, she'd seen the persona. The Castle who loved expensive dinners, fancy parties, flirting with any woman who smiled at him, and signing various parts of their anatomy. Kate wasn't sure she always liked that Castle. Of course, in the last couple of years, she also felt like she was getting to know the other side of Castle, the devoted father, loving son, the man with a sometimes almost childlike joy, who loved to write, who loved words and what he did. That was the Castle that Kate begrudgingly admitted that she was intrigued by.

Unfortunately, she had no idea which Castle to expect that evening. He'd told her he'd meet her at the restaurant. The group usually booked a private room so that there were no outside distractions. Which didn't help Kate with her internal distraction.

But on the other hand, there was nothing she could do about that now. So she took a deep breath and marched confidently into the restaurant, determined to hold her head high (and not hide in a corner).

Ellen had a hold of her arm almost the second she walked through the door.

"Is he here yet?" the other woman demanded.

Kate shook her head. "He said he'd meet me here."

Ellen's grip tightened. "You're sure he's coming?"

Beckett nodded. "He said he was, and whatever else Castle is, he usually does what he says he's going to. You promise when he gets here you won't..."

"Describe in detail about how you sang the praises of Storm Rising a few years ago?" Ellen finished with a grin. "Relax Kate, we get it. You don't want him to know about your little obsession. We all understand the deal. We get to meet Rick Castle; we don't tell him how big a fan you are."

"As long as everyone's clear," Beckett muttered darkly.

"They are," Ellen assured her.

"Fine," Beckett said, flagging down the waitress to order a drink.

xxxxx

Castle jogged up the few steps into the restaurant. He wasn't late, but he was pretty much just on time. Normally it wouldn't be a problem, but he didn't want to make a bad impression.

After all, this wasn't just any book club that he was visiting; these were Beckett's friends. He felt strangely nervous. He wanted them to like him, wanted to fit in with the group.

Castle wasn't stupid. He knew he'd only been invited because they wanted to meet a famous author. He knew Beckett didn't really want him there. He knew she was uncomfortable with the idea of him meeting these women. And he knew that he wanted to prove to her that it wouldn't be that bad. He wanted to show her that he could behave, that he wouldn't do anything too inappropriate.

And if he managed to get a little gossip on his lovely detective, well, all the better.

Castle spotted her the second he stepped into the room.

The same second that everyone noticed him if the expectant hush was anything to go by.

Kate disengaged herself from the blonde woman she was talking to and walked over to him.

"Castle," she said with a friendly smile. "You made it."

"I said I would," he reminded her.

Kate nodded. "Let me introduce you to the group," she said.

And then Castle found himself meeting Ellen (the aforementioned blonde) and Katie, and Lucy, and Meg, and about a half a dozen others, all apparently huge mystery fans. All ready to tell him how they loved his novels, or ask for autographs, all ready to tell him how they couldn't believe it when Kate had told them who she was working with.

Castle smiled, shook hands and tried to make a good impression, well aware of the watchful eye of the woman next to him.

"So what drew you to Kate here?" Ellen asked the second she could get a word in edgewise. She'd heard Beckett's version of the story of course, but she'd always been curious about his.

Castle was relieved that they were starting with an easy question. "She was different," he said truthfully. "I was getting bored with Derek Storm, and she stood out in a crowd. A couple of days in her world and I knew I'd found my next main character," he told the group, shooting a smile in Beckett's direction. "Not that she was thrilled about it, of course."

"We had our differences," Beckett said dryly.

"Very tactful, Detective," Castle murmured.

She smirked. "Would you prefer I dress it up a little, embellish on the truth? Maybe throw in a reference to the CIA?"

Castle shrugged with a grin. "I think this might be a case of the truth being stranger than fiction."

"I'll say," Kate snarked.

"Well, I think it's lovely," Lily, another woman in the group said. "She's like your muse!"

Beckett froze.

Castle smirked. "I wouldn't use that term."

"Why not?" Lily asked innocently.

"Threats have been made to my person if I ever used it again," Castle told her.

Ellen grinned. "That's our Kate."

"I'm no one's muse," Beckett insisted.

"Inspiration then," Castle interjected smoothly. "So tell me ladies, since I'm a newcomer, what do you usually do in these meetings of yours? I don't want to upset the proceedings too much."

As she watched him talk, Kate felt herself relax. She should have known it would be alright. Castle was in his element in these situations after all. Still, she was surprised by how natural he was being with her friends. She'd watched him commiserate with Joan about the difficulty of cooking a good lasagne, tell Katie a couple of Michael Connolly stories, and discuss the difficulty of writing the printing press scene from Storm Trooper with Beth. But maybe it wasn't so surprising. After all, he'd somehow managed to get most of the precinct to accept him. Why not her book club? Kate took a sip of her wine and felt some of the tension release from her shoulders.

Ellen sidled up to her. "He's not what I was expecting, Kate," she murmured to her friend, careful to keep her voice down so as not to attract the attention of the group.

Kate shrugged. "He can surprise you sometimes. With Castle, you're not always sure what side you're going to get."

Ellen eyed her friend suspiciously. "Mmhm," she said sceptically. "I think you've been holding out on us, Detective."

Kate looked over quickly. "Ell!" she objected. "I haven't. Anyway, I'm as surprised as you are about how well this is going."

Ellen watched her, trying to decide if the other woman was telling the truth. After a moment she decided not to touch the issue. "Well, thanks for bringing him anyway. My brother's not going to believe this."

"No problem," Kate murmured, watching the man on the other side of the room as he charmed all of her friends. The evening had gone well, really. Having Castle around had been surprisingly not awkward. She should have known. After all, he'd met all sorts of people over the years. He seemed to fit in almost everywhere, why should her book club be any different?

Kate met his eyes across the room. He raised his glass in a silent toast.

Smiling, she raised hers in return, enjoying the way his eyes warmed across the room.

But why shouldn't she celebrate? The evening had been something of a success after all.

Maybe hanging out with Castle outside of the office wasn't quite the end of the world.

xxxxx

The end