A/N: So, I'm not sure whether I should apologize for subjecting you all to this cracked-out expression of my frustration. Thankfully, Once Upon a Crime did much to send me to a happier place but I was not a fan of the two-parter and this is what happened. Beware the silliness, snarkiness, fourth wall busting and general shenanigans. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Also, for those hoping for another long fic from me, it won't happen any time soon since I am trying to work on some original stuff. I will, however, continue posting oneshots (although hopefully later ones will bear little resemblance to this bit of strangeness) to keep you satisfied in the meantime.
Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't have any claim to anything that you might recognize. That, sadly, would be the property of ABC/Disney and Castle's creators. Oh, and Andrew Marlowe, I apologize for this but ... you deserved it.
Beckett was standing at the end of the pier, gazing out at the dark water as if she hoped to see the remains of her cruiser somewhere under the surface, when Castle walked up to her, making some comment about Alexis being able to bring them dry clothes, something that was much appreciated in the chill winter weather. But the dry sweatshirt and jacket were not the only things Beckett was currently feeling thankful for, and it was high time she acknowledged that.
"Thanks … and, um, thanks," Beckett said as she gave Castle a significant look.
"You'd have done the same for me," he told her with a small smile.
"Yeah, probably," she replied and then grinned at him when he pretended to be hurt by her prevarication.
It wasn't much of an exchange but they had had a close call and the next thing they knew, they were staring into each other's eyes with the full enormity of the car crash finally hitting them. They had almost died … again. How many more times could they escape. Did they have nine lives like a cat, or was it less? The thing was, they wouldn't know until it was to late and there was at least one regret they didn't want to die with.
At least those were the thoughts that ran through Beckett's mind as she she gazed at Castle, her partner, the man who, despite everything, was there for her. Always. The crime scene spotlights illuminated much of the dock, but the end where they were standing was still in relative shadow and she decided to take advantage of it. Eyes still locked with his, she stepped closer to Castle, her hands reaching up to grasp the lapels of his coat.
"Kate?" he asked, hardly daring to move.
"Shut up and let me thank you properly."
Her lips were so close to his that he could feel her warm breath against his cheek as she spoke. Then she closed even that tiny distance and his entire being shivered with the almost electric shock of her lips on his own. He soon recovered from his surprise, threaded a hand through her mussed and tangled hair and opened his mouth just far enough to ghost his tongue across her lower lip. He could feel her moan, soft and low in the back of her throat and …
"What the hell is going on around here!"
Guiltily, they jumped apart, Castle's eyes still glazed and Beckett's face flushed with a telltale blush. Standing right behind them was a man with slightly shaggy, thinning hair and a closely cropped salt and pepper beard. He was puffing hard, as if he had just hurried up to them from some distance away.
"Can't I leave you two alone for more than a minute without you trying to get yourselves in trouble?" he asked.
"Who the hell are you?" Castle snapped, unable to believe that he had been interrupted yet again, just when things with Beckett were finally looking up.
"That's not important …" the man started to say before Beckett broke in.
"I'll decide that, because if you had something to do with this," she said as she gestured towards the dark and silent water where she and Castle had so nearly met their end, "I plan on knowing exactly who you are."
"That?" Then the man blew a sharp huff of air through his lips with a dismissive sound. "That was just a cliffhanger. You were never in any real danger." As Kate and Castle stared at him in disbelief, he continued, muttering to himself, "Like I'd be stupid enough to kill off my leads."
"Not in danger!" Castle exclaimed. "We almost didn't get out …"
"But you did, of course, because I planned it that way. What I didn't plan on was you to getting all cozy afterwards. I knew I should have listened when the other writers said I should have you guys suffer from water inhalation. But no, I had to be nice about it."
"You what?" That was more than enough for Kate. She started to reach for her cuffs, determined to find out what this man was up to because, despite whatever assurances he made about their safety, he clearly was involved right up to his neck.
But before she could detain the mysterious stranger, Esposito walked up to them. "Are you going to tell me what's going on now?" he asked.
His words temporarily distracted both Beckett and Castle, who shared a worried glance because they were both still bound to secrecy and they knew that their continued reticence was a sore point with the rest of the team. They would have to, yet again, dismiss him with the rapidly fading excuse that their situation was classified. But before they did that, Kate wanted to have the suspicious man in custody. She turned around with every intention of slapping the cuffs on their mysterious interloper only to find that the man had disappeared.
She whirled back around to scan the dock but he was nowhere to be seen. "Where did he go?" she asked Castle.
"I have no idea. He was there just a moment ago." Castle was just as confused as she was.
"Where did who go?" Esposito asked.
"There was guy, middle aged, light brown hair and a beard, who claimed to know something about our trip into the harbor. He was standing right over there," Beckett told him.
"We were just talking to him when you walked up," added Castle. "You know, it's funny, but I could swear I've seen him before."
"I know, he did look familiar," she agreed, chewing on her lower lip as she tried to remember when they might have met him. Suddenly it came to her. "He was at Ryan's wedding."
"You're right!" exclaimed Castle. "He was that guy who came up while we were talking in the corner, just as we were about to …" he trailed off with a quick, embarrassed glance at Esposito.
Beckett blushed at the memory but quickly covered it. "He kept talking about how beautiful the ceremony was and wouldn't leave us alone. How weird, but I remember it now."
"I don't think that's the only time he's been around either," Castle said. Then he made a wry face. "I can't remember everything, but I think he has a strange knack for turning up at the most inopportune moments. What do you think it means?"
Before she could reply, Esposito, who had been giving them a look that was both worried and confused, interrupted them. "I didn't see anyone. Are you sure you two are alright?"
"We're fine," Beckett snapped. "But I want that man."
"Guess it's just one more 'classified' detail you can't tell me," said Esposito, with irritation once again creeping into his voice.
By the time they had smoothed Esposito's ruffled feathers and started to talk to Lanie about Blakely, Sophia's car screeched to a halt in a blaze of light. Once she had finished dressing them down, the odd little man had slipped from their minds, replaced with other more urgent concerns.
And whatever had been about to happen on that darkened dock was also lost in the shuffle, just one more missed turn on the tangled paths of their relationship.
No sooner had they made it back to the precinct when yet another twist appeared in the case. Lanie called to let them know that Blakely's body had never reached the her. Fifteen minutes later, they were at the morgue to see for themselves.
"They intercepted it in transport," she told them. "Apparently they had a court order."
Even Castle, the king of expediting when it came to his friends among the circuit court judges, was amazed. "That's impossible. How could they get a court order that fast?"
Unfortunately, Beckett chose that moment to let her frustrations with the case get the better of her. "I don't know," she said snarkily. "Maybe you should ask your girlfriend."
Lanie was instantly on alert. "Girlfriend?"
But Castle had had his fair share of frustration tonight, especially now that the earlier thankful Beckett had morphed back into a green eyed monster. "Yes, I slept with her. It was a long time ago. What's the big deal?"
"There is no big deal. Sleep with whoever you want - the more the merrier," said Kate, her brain to mouth filter still disabled by irritation.
The exchange alone would have been bad enough, but a not so subtle throat clearing behind them let them know that Lanie was not their only audience. Beckett wished the worn linoleum underfoot would open up and swallow her whole when she realized that Alexis had heard the whole thing. She couldn't even look at Castle, who had an expression on his face that let her know he might actually, truly be angry with her for her outburst.
Thanks to the suddenly frosty atmosphere, they finished their business with Lanie as soon as they could and made it back to the elevator without speaking another word to each other. Once the doors closed in front of them, Beckett took a deep breath and tried to apologize.
"Look, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that in front of your daughter. I wasn't thinking."
"You shouldn't have said that at all," he said, refusing to give an inch.
His intransigence brought her annoyance back to the surface. "Why? It's true. If you had your way, I'd be just another in a long line of your creatively intimate influences. Forgive me for not being flattered."
"That's not fair. Sophia aside, there haven't been any others," he said and then clarified when she rolled her eyes at him, "No other muses I mean. And besides, I told you - we're different." Kate gave a disapproving huff and he decided to press the point. "You know, you might want to ask yourself exactly why my past relationships bother you so much, given that, according to you, we're just partners."
She blushed but ducked her head to hide it. "They don't bother me - except when they're responsible for my bodies disappearing, us getting dunked in the Hudson, and our repeated kidnapping by your ex-girlfriend's alphabet agency."
All valid points, but he didn't believe her for a second. "So it has nothing to do with the fact that earlier tonight our partnership extended to swapping saliva out on the dock."
A mix of anger and embarrassment swirled in her gut. She looked up at him but any retort she might have made died in her throat when she realized that, as he was speaking, he had crowded in so close to her that the first thing her eyes took in was his mouth, hovering close to her own. She tried to hold on to her anger, but that heated emotion was mixing now with the another fire rising from her very core. The thought crossed her mind that pissed off Castle was actually, surprisingly … hot.
And then the rest of her rational self shut down and she kissed him.
There was no delay this time, no moment of shock or awe. His emotions were running just as high as her own, so as soon as her lips touched his own, he stepped into the kiss, pressing her back against the wall, trapping her lithe curves between the cool metal of the wall and his own rapidly heating body. Any pretense of gentleness he might have hung on to fell to shreds when she took his lower lip between her teeth, her mouth hungry and demanding. One of his hands found its way under her sweatshirt, ghosting up her bare flank to cup her breast, while the other slid under her thigh to lift her leg as he pressed his hips towards her. Her own hands were just as busy. Fingers digging into his ass, she pulled him even closer, moaning into his mouth as she ground against him.
Time (and the elevator, because, despite the length of this ride, the morgue is not in some sub-sub-sub-basement like the CIA) slowed down, but it meant nothing to them until …
A disembodied voice crackled out from somewhere in the vicinity of the ceiling grate. "No. No. No. You two are supposed to stay angry - not start dry humping each other in some misguided sort of make-up ritual."
They sprang apart. "What? Who?" Castle mumbled in a daze, as his lust fogged brain struggled to comprehend this newest interruption.
Beckett was quicker to recover. Her hand was already on the but of her gun as her eyes scanned the small elevator compartment. "Where are you? Show yourself," she demanded.
"Don't bother looking, I'm not really here," said the voice.
"Do you suppose it's just some figment of our imaginations. Maybe a shared hallucination brought on by near drowning. Although if that means that the last few minutes were just a fantasy, I'm going to cry like a girl," Castle said.
"Shut up, Castle."
Then a soft chuckle could be heard echoing in the car. "Perhaps he's right. Except if it's a fantasy, maybe you're the ones that are a figment of my imagination," the voice told them. "And this is not how, or when, I pictured it at all."
"Okay, the idea of someone else imagining us …" Castle said, breaking off when Beckett elbowed him in the ribs. "It's a bit creepy is all I was going to say."
"It's a bit suspicious, is what it is," she whispered to him before going on in a louder voice. "I don't know who you are or how you're doing this but I can assure you, I will find out and you will regret it."
"Now, now Kate," the voice chided her. "Is that any way to talk to someone who is just trying to do you a favor. After all, if what I just witnessed is anything to go by, despite Sophia, you need to be reminded that you still don't completely trust your writer boy."
"Hey!" Castle protested.
"And you certainly don't trust yourself," the voice continued, unperturbed by Castle's outburst.
Beckett tried to ignore the flicker of doubt that their interloper's words raised in her chest. "None of which is any of your business. Now tell me who you are," she demanded.
She was answered by a silence that was only broken by the grinding of gears as the stalled elevator resumed its journey. Frustrated, she scanned the walls and corners, looking for some sort of microphone or speaker but came up empty. Chewing her lower lip, she looked at Castle.
"Do you think this could be some new trick of Sophia's?" she asked.
"To what end?"
"I think that should be obvious."
Castle sighed. They were back on that track again. "I've already told you; we were over and done with a long time ago. Besides, didn't the voice sound familiar to you?"
"A little. Do you think you know who it is?"
"I can't be sure, but I'd almost swear it was that guy from the dock … the one with the terrible timing."
"Damn it! I wish Espo hadn't distracted us. I need to find this guy."
"Can't happen soon enough," Castle muttered under his breath, his words lost in the sound of the elevator door finally opening.
When it was all over, when Agent Danberg had debriefed them as best he could and there was nothing left to do but go home, she couldn't help but turn over in her head all the things that this case had brought to light. Her assurance to him that most of what Sophia said had been lies echoed in her mind, reminding her that it was advice she could also give herself. For all her jealousy, he had finally admitted that Clara Strike was idealized, and in the end, more like her than Sophia.
She glanced at him from under her eyelashes as they walked out of the precinct and realized that he too was lost in thought. He looked so sad, almost deflated, that she wanted to do anything to cheer him up. With a small smile, she swayed close to him and bumped his hip companionably.
"Hey, are you as hungry as I am?" she asked.
"I can't decide whether I'm hungry or too tired to eat."
"Oh. I was going to suggest we get some burgers at Remy's but if you just want to go home …"
He could hear the note of disappointment in her voice. "I'm not sure if I'm up for going out right now, but …" He paused and looked at her, trying to study her reaction before he continued, "… why not come home with me? We can order in and … it's just, I think that would be more relaxing," he finished lamely.
She gave him another appraising glance, knowing that he was asking about more than dinner plans, at least if she was willing. They had stopped their progress towards the door while they spoke and now she stood in front of him, chewing her lower lip while she tried to make up her mind, her fears warring with an ever rising desire to conclude this dangerous case with the ultimate opposite of the death and destruction it had wreaked on their lives.
Finally she gave him another shy smile and spoke. "Can we eat it on the couch?"
His eyes lit up with hope. "Anything you want, Kate. Anything and always." Then his hand found hers and he enclosed her fingers within his warm grasp as they started back towards the door.
They didn't get very far, however, before a strange looking black cylinder rolled into the hall in front of them. Castle stopped to take a closer look, bending over to examine it once it came to rest.
"Weird," he said, "it's making some sort of buzzing noise."
Beckett was about to join his examination but she suddenly had a strong premonition. "Castle, get away from it and get down!"
Hidden around a corner, the scruffy haired man smiled to himself before he was interrupted by the arrival of a brown haired woman who surveyed the scene with a practiced eye.
"You might want to cover your ears and close your eyes for a moment," he told the newcomer just before the cylinder emitted a blinding flash and a high pitched noise that reverberated in the room. Once the explosion, if that was what it had been, was over, they both looked back around the corner to assess the damage.
The room appeared unharmed except for a few chairs that had been knocked over by the blast and a couple of small smoke stains on the wall nearest the cylinder. Beckett and Castle had managed to escape the worst, even though they were close to where it had detonated, by falling to the floor but they were clearly disoriented, shaking their heads and blinking repeatedly in an attempt to restore their normal vision and hearing.
The man nodded approvingly. "That ought to take care of them for a while."
The woman rolled her eyes. "No doubt it will, but how exactly are you going to explain this development."
His face scrunched up with concentration, the man took a moment to respond. "Well, we've already done a serial killer, a terrorist, and a spy so I don't know … maybe aliens?"
"Aliens? That's what you're going with? You won't let them have sex like a normal pair of consenting adults, but you think it's fine to throw aliens into the mix. I love you but I knew I shouldn't have let you watch Men in Black again last night."
Unfortunately, the man was oblivious to her criticism. Instead he contemplated the possibilities of his newest plot twist, a look of childish glee spreading across his face. "Don't worry," he said, "I'm going to make them funny aliens."