A/N: My heart is currently in another fandom, so I can't promise how quickly or often this'll get updated...but I can tell you it will be thanks to two very special ladies who I have a feeling will remind me.
For blindassassin...if you don't like this, blame her for pushing me to write Castle...and if you do like it, go review some of her stories. Every writer needs a little inspiration.
And for lalaurala-bones...for betaing this monstrosity and sharing her infectious fan-girl enthusiasm with me. Laura is an amazing friend and talented writer. I'm honored to know her.
Disclaimer: I don't own Castle.
Chapter One: What's in a Name?
Richard Castle stands at the podium in front of a full audience. His navy blue suit is perfectly tailored, the shirt beneath it crisp and a similar shade of blue. The look says Trust me, this one's another best seller. At least he hopes it does. His mother...
"No one..." Looking up from the book in his hand, he sees her. The words he carefully penned tumble carelessly from his lips as his voice breaks on the final sentence.
His partner, the inspiration behind the character for his next series, enters the room in bold can't be missed color. The porcelain skin of her long legs races from the peep-toe stilettos on her feet to the flirty hem of her dress. Her coat slinks from her toned shoulders as she allows it to billow ever so slightly behind her before tossing it over her arm. Her hair is artfully tussled in a way that screams for his fingers to run through it.
Getting himself under control, he finishes the line, his eyes never leaving hers, "...will see my tears."
The crowd gets to their feet and he mumbles his thanks, meeting Kate's mocking smirk as she joins them in a slow clap. Smiling amusedly, he prepares to approach her when he's bombarded by fans. He follows her with his eyes as she works the room while he tries to focus on answering questions and signing autographs, but it's almost half an hour before he reaches her.
"Detective Beckett," he says, his voice breathy as he interrupts her conversation, "To what do I owe this very unexpected pleasure?" His fingertips trail over the silk of her arm as she turns to look at him. He grips his wrist holding it at his waist to keep the touch from lingering longer than appropriate.
"Excuse me," she says dismissively to her companion. "Thank you."
Taking a few steps toward him, her tone becomes confrontational. Her delicate features tightening, she snaps, "I just figured if you're gonna bother me at my work, I should bother you at yours." Tilting her head, she feigns a serious tone. "That was quite a reading. Very...uh moving."
Rick's gaze narrows and he gives Kate a sideways glance. Playing hurt, he asks, "Are you making fun of me?"
"Good, she thought, as the wind gathered up her hair, no one will see my tears..." she says dramatically. Crossing her arms, she almost laughs as she looks into his eyes. Wrinkling her nose, she asks nonchalantly, "How does wind gather up hair? Just curious..."
"Oh," he says questioningly, a hand rising to his chest. "You're telling me how to do my job?"
"Irritating, isn't it?" she answers, nibbling at her lower lip.
"Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh," Martha says, looping her arm through her son's. She gives Kate a once over. "Oh! Look at you!"
Part of Rick groans at the intrusion, but a bigger part of him is relieved - relieved because the tight thread of his restraint was threatening to snap. He wraps his arm around Alexis and, smiling down at Martha, allows himself to be swept away by his mother's nonsense. He'd deal with Kate and her saucy mouth later.
"Denise, from The Ledger, says you're going to be number one this week. And look!" she says, gesturing around the store. "Everyone is buying your book!" Poking him in the chest, she adds, "Now, don't you feel silly for believing all of those reviews?"
Looking at Kate and Alexis's tolerant smiles as both women attempt to keep straight faces as Martha steals the limelight and brushes her own insecurities off on him, Rick answers, "Yes. Yes, I do."
"Let's just hope Nikki Heat does as well!" she says, shifting her gaze to Kate.
"Nikki Heat?" Beckett repeats, her face falling as she practically chokes on the name.
Martha nods. "The character he's basing on you."
"Nikki Heat," she repeats again, angrier this time. Raising a hand, she demands more than questions, "Can I talk to you for a second?"
Seeing an exit strategy, he ducks away from his mother and daughter quickly following Kate. "Of course."
The sway of her hips as she walks purposefully away is hypnotic. He suppresses a grin. He likes riling her up. Getting under her skin. This would be fun.
"What kind of a name is Nikki Heat?" she growls, hands fisting at her sides.
His brow furrows as though he has no idea what she's saying. An innocent look crossing his features, her answers, "A cop name."
Kate's jaw clenches and her eyes close. Taking a breath, she meets his eyes. "It's a stripper name."
Rick chuckles slightly, the corner of his mouth turning up wryly. His head tilting unconsciously to the side and back again, he says casually, "Well, I told you she was kind of slutty."
"Change it, Castle." The command is flat. There's no humor or plea behind it.
"Hang on," he pushes back. "Think of the titles," he says slowly, his tone taking on an erotic air as he ticks them off one by one, "Summer Heat. Heat Wave. In Heat." He grins at her, his eyes lighting at the spark blazing into an open flame in hers.
"Change. The. Name." She advances, getting in his personal space.
They bicker for a minute, the Yes-No banter making him tingle and feel something he hasn't felt in quite some time. It's the start of something. An excitement that rivals the first time he made the best seller list and the day Alexis was born.
But it's more than that. It's passion. A passion he hadn't felt with any of his exes. She challenges him. And he loves a challenge. If she'd just said please, he'd have done it. In a heartbeat. He's a sucker for the women in his life. But the way she demands the change, the way she manages to push every last button he's got, just turns him on.
"Change the name, Castle. Today," she says, walking to snatch up her coat where she left it.
He follows her, staying tight on her heels. Shaking his head as he sets the cardboard cutout of himself aside, he answers, "No."
"You're unbelievable!" she groans, heading for the exit.
He fumbles to sign a book that's thrust in his face as he calls out to her. "Kate! Wait!"
Smiling, he hands the copy back to the reader and touches her on the shoulder before hurrying after his partner. His publicist grabs his sleeve just as he gets to the door and he gives her a murderous glare as he watches Kate climb into a taxi.
"Where do you think you're going? You're booked for another hour!" she complains.
He gives her a flourish of his free hand and bats hers away, his eyes still glued to the lights on the cab as it pulls away from the curb. "Figure it out. Isn't that what I pay you for?" He tugs the cuff of his shirt and rolls his eyes at her. Not wanting to lose any more time, he pushes through the door calling back over his shoulder, "Take a list and I'll sign them all and pay for postage."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Castle ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
He's waiting outside her apartment when she gets home. Leaning casually against the door, his jacket tossed over one shoulder and sleeves rolled up.
Kate just shakes her head. Extracting her key from her purse, she laughs softly. "Go home, Castle."
"Come on, Kate," he teases, following her inside and laying his jacket over the couch. "It's just a name. What difference does it make?"
"It makes plenty," she answers crossing her arms. "I've worked hard to get taken seriously and you..." Sliding her fingers through her hair, she growls in frustration. "You just don't get it and you never will."
Rick shoves his hands in his pockets and considers his next move. The creator in him kicks into overdrive and countless scenarios play through his brain. He stands still, letting Kate circle him. It won't hurt to let her think she has the upper hand and see where she goes with it.
Throwing her coat over the back of the sofa, she turns and faces him with a smirk. Trailing her fingers down the buttons of his shirt, she looks up at him through partly closed eyes. "Give it your best shot, Castle," she purrs throatily in challenge. "Let's see you seduce Nikki Heat."
Rick stumbles for a moment, trying to keep his jaw from dropping open at Kate Beckett's words. Gathering his composure, he carefully closes the gap between them. Cocky swagger entering his posture, his hand fans over the magenta fabric covering her hip. He feels the layers shift beneath his fingers as he presses against her and takes a breath. Lips hovering millimeters from hers, he murmurs, "What if I don't want Nikki Heat?"
His mouth is hot and wet on hers, tongue demanding entry as he cradles her cheek in a large palm. His fingers tangle in her hair and he moans at the sensation - the touch, smell, taste - of being lost in Kate. He sucks at her lower lip, his teeth gently tugging at the plump petal tormentingly. Nuzzling softly, teasingly, he continues to devour her. She's irresistible and he can't get enough.
Pulling back when he feels her hand on his chest, he looks down into the stunned emeralds of her eyes for answers. He steps away, freeing her from his spell and leaving the next move to her. "What if I want to seduce my partner? How would you handle that, Detective Beckett?"
Kate presses her lips together in a tight line and inhales deeply through her nose. The confident part of her won't let her cave the way she's sure he's expecting. Honeyed words mean nothing and she refuses to give in - to take a chance.
She wraps her arms around herself, suddenly feeling cold. What started as a game was quickly becoming more than she bargained for. She hesitates, meeting the steel blue of his stare and feeling a blush rise to her cheeks.
An eyebrow raising toward the ceiling, Rick swallows his smile. He feathers his lips over her forehead before bending to allow the warmth of his breath to tickle over her ear, making her shiver. "This isn't over," he tells her. His fingertips drift over her bare arm, he adds, "The next time I kiss you, it'll be because you asked me to."
Hooking his jacket over his shoulder, he heads for the door and leaves Kate touching her kiss-swollen mouth. His voice soft as his hand settles over the knob, he reminds her, "Don't forget to lock up."
Richard Castle, best selling author: 1. Detective Kate Beckett: 0.
Let the seduction begin.