A/N: So, it's true, I'm a terrible friend. It was Em's (Tadpole24) almost two weeks ago and though I endeavoured to have a fic ready, a last minute change of idea and then some drama with a certain Australian official (kind of like a certain British spy...) stole away the very last of my free time has made me hopelessly late. I'm so so sorry that this wasn't ready sooner and I promise to do better next year.
This is supposed to be just a little bit of silly fun. Happy belated birthday, Em.
A Short History of American Literature
Within a short time of their first meeting, Temperance Brennan decides that Richard Castle is an irresponsible, insufferable man.
For starters, there was the errant assumption that some amount of what can only be described as charm would be enough to win her favour. His over-excited nature, right along with his inability to stick to any kind of plan for their publisher-mandated weekend in New York meant that she spends most of their time together just short of grinding her teeth and anticipating the moment she can finally get onto her flight back to DC.
She's supposed to be learning from him. Fresh off the success of Storm Season, Rick Castle is a confident man, an experienced writer and a personal friend of her newly acquired literary agent. Said agent had suggested that with Brennan on the cusp of her own success – her final edits of Bred in the Bone well underway – that she spend some time outside of her comfort zone with an established author like Mr Castle.
The whole trip had been a bit of a disaster. When he tried to show her the sights, she tried to direct him back to the purpose of their weekend together (that is, educational not recreational thankyouverymuch). When he tried to wine and dine her, she bristled, made awkward conversation and made excuses to ensure she was back in her room by ten.
She's not actually sure why she agreed. Except for the fact that saying no didn't really seem to be an option, and she is rather keen to please her new agent who is convinced she can go onto big things.
(It's strange for her now, having someone blindly believe in her.
In the last few years there have been a handful of people who have acknowledged her talents in the more academic of fields, but she's worked for that – harder than anybody could imagine – and while that makes it very satisfying, it's also very pleasing to have someone take to her instantly, to believe in her freely.
It's been a very long time.)
It's a Sunday afternoon, when their time together is almost over that he takes her to lunch and looks over her with a smirk and a careful eye.
"Your book is good."
Castle grins, "It's sexy."
"That was my publisher. And my friend Angela." She clasps her hands together on top of the table.
"Oh. Not you?"
"Well I wrote it. But they told me to."
"That doesn't seem like a good reason."
Her confidence falters, "I don't... I don't know these things as well as they would."
"Having read your book, I would suggest you know them quite well."
She pauses for a moment and thinks carefully about her response, "I understand them, of course. I was advised including some extra scenes would make for better reading. I imagine that's what a publisher is for."
He seems a little taken aback at this suggestion. With a considered nod and a fond smile, "Well I suppose you're right."
She turns back to her meal in the hopes that his questions don't continue.
Except they do.
"So what gave your your idea?"
"For the book."
She looks at him questioningly, "I'm a forensic anthropologist. I thought it was evident that I was drawing on my work when constructing the story."
He lets her pointed tone roll off him. He's never met a woman he couldn't charm and he is determined. "Yes of course. But the sexy FBI agent, the duo out there fighting crime, where did all that come from? From what Selene told me, you're mostly involved with lab work."
She shifts in her seat.
"My book is fiction Mr Castle, much of what I developed was a product of my imagination."
"I did have the opportunity to do some helpful background work when I assisted an agent with an investigation approximately a year ago, but I have been reluctant to work with other investigators in that capacity since then."
"Ohhh, now I get it. You got to do a ride along?"
"A ride along, with your sexy FBI guy. That's why you wanted to write the story."
"N-no. Not at all. The book is, as I said, purely fiction."
Something about her flustered response, the way her brows knit together prompt an unexpected affectionate smile.
Temperance Brennan may be a tough nut to crack but she is an interesting creature and a remarkably innocent soul.
(In his head, a rough sketch of a character begins to form.
He can't help it.)
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with a bit of real life to go with your fiction. You know, I worked with a CIA agent for a while for Storm Season - I may have taken some inspiration from the experience when I was writing Clara Strike. It can be... a lot more fun when you have someone in mind."
Brennan hesitates, "And she doesn't mind that you used her likeness?"
"Mind? No, not at all. She thinks it's kind of sexy."
His eyebrows hit the roof as, like most of his comments, she seems to carefully weigh the meaning of what he's said.
"Sleep with her. Your CIA friend."
His ever-present smirk becomes a grin, "Well it wouldn't be gentlemanly to..."
Tough he tapers off, his expression says it all. Even to Temperance Brennan.
"But before you ask, it was definitely worth it."
She warms to him after that. It's hard to explain but something about her uptight demeanour shakes loose and their night leans towards something that they can't help but think of as enjoyable.
And when she leaves New York the next morning, she promises - genuinely - to keep in touch.
(There's also the part where she leaves a little more receptive to the calls of one Special Agent Seeley Booth.
But that's a whole other story.)
When she mentions to Booth that she's going out to dinner that night with an old friend who's come to town, quite predictably, he begins to show concern.
"Just let me run the guy. C'mon Bones, you've not exactly made great choices with these guys in the past."
"I've known this man for several years Booth. And I'm slightly insulted at your insinuation that my own judgement is not to be trusted."
"I just want to make sure you're safe, that's what partners do."
She gives him a flat look that makes no mystery of her desire for him to drop the matter.
He lasts another minute or so. "You're not even going to tell me his name?"
"Because I don't think it's important and I'm..." She trails off.
"You're what Bones?"
"I'm worried how you might... conduct yourself should I provide you with this information."
"Oh god, you're actually going to dinner with an axe murderer, aren't you? Dinner with Charles Manson for research or something."
"Charles Manson is dead Booth."
"Well what else could it be?"
She sighs, chews on her lip and relents.
(Maybe that way, he'll finally quieten down.)
His eyes go wide. "The author?"
"Yes, the author. He provided me with some assistance before my first book was published and we have remained friends since then."
"You're friends with Richard Castle?"
"...Didn't he just get divorced?"
"Well, yes. How do you even-"
"It was in the news, okay? And that's just great."
She sounds confused, "That he got divorced?"
"Well it's not really any more reassuring than the Charles Manson thing!"
"Just-" Booth suddenly looks flustered, "Just never mind. We should go."
With a hand on her shoulder, he's steering her to the door before she has much time to protest.
He announces something about having dead bodies waiting for them and doesn't let her dwell on the topic any longer.
And though he's a little quiet for the rest of the day, he doesn't bring it up again.
She looks up from her menu.
Richard Castle leans into their table, a gleam of conspiracy in his eye, "I don't mean to alarm you but there is a man out there watching you like a hawk."
She shrugs and scowls, "I noticed."
"Should I be concerned?"
"No. It's my partner. We ran late at a crime scene and he dropped me off. He's... watching."
"Something like that."
With another glance over to the entryway where he hovers, Castle's eyes light up. "So this is the famous Agent Booth?"
"I wouldn't say famous."
"Well I would. You're still working with him then?"
"And you're partners." He sounds fascinated.
"I did tell you that."
"I know. It's just the idea - getting your research in full time like that - it's brilliant!"
"It's my job."
"If I recall, there was a time when you were determined that your job kept you in a lab all day - not out fighting crime."
She a little defensive in her explanation, "I do very good work with the FBI. The expertise of the Jeffersonian have helped to provide answers that would have otherwise unobtainable."
"I don't doubt that." Yet he can't help but add, "But you are sleeping with him, right?"
"What?" And then, "No, no, definitely not."
"I don't think I believe you."
"Well you should."
"But just look at Kathy and Andy! There has to be something a little more... authentic behind that."
Her response is automatic and flat - the same way she's said it a hundred times before, "They're purely fictional characters."
"Booth and I are definitely not sleeping together." Brennan is firm, but there's no hiding the way her mouth tips just so as she explains.
"Well if that's the case, you don't seem very happy about that."
She opens her mouth. And then closes it again.
After a moment, she tries, "It's fine. I'm fine."
"Sure you are." His Richard Castle smirk is back and Brennan can only glare at him in return.
"Why are you being so insistent?"
"Because I'm... tired. I'm bored. Eleven books later and Derrick Storm is getting a bit old. So maybe I need something like you have to liven things up."
'I was under the impression that contractually, you still had one more book in the series to write."
"Yeah, I do. And it's almost finished, but I've gotten so far and now I'm... stuck." His hands rub over his face, "I'm thisclose to the end and I don't know how to give the character a fitting send off. I've been writing him for so long, and between that and this fatigue, I just can't nail down an ending for him."
There's something about the way he explains it, hands waving and his frustration so rich and evident, she does feel a little sorry for him.
"Well traditionally, I understand that readers often enjoy a happy ending. Metaphorical loose ends tied up and the protagonist seen as being content with their situation in life."
He laughs - freely and out loud, "That is one perspective." More seriously he adds, "I just can't see myself doing that with Storm, you know? He's not a happy ending kind of guy. He's always been about action, about adrenaline and bold moves..."
"You could always just kill him off."
He laughs again at the thought, but she's quick to explain, "Logically, it's the easiest way to distance yourself from the character. You can't be called upon to write any more books from that series if the title character is deceased."
Castle's head tilts to one side, considering. "It would be a fitting send off. Out in a blaze of glory..."
"It would certainly be bold, if that's really what you wanted."
She doesn't think much of it at the time, but a few months later when the rumours begin to swirl in literary circles that Richard Castle might have taken the plunge and retired his title character in spectacular fashion (to the horror of his publisher), Brennan can't help but feel a little guilty.
(Only momentarily. Temperance Brennan was never a woman to feel regretful for too long.)
And a few months after that when she receives a text, she can't help but wonder what her author friend might have in mind.
Took your advice about the full time ride along thing. Watch this space. RC.
When they meet at the bar, Castle in a tux and Brennan in a carefully chosen ballgown, it's her opening line (and her very curious glare) that surprises him.
"Your partner looks lovely this evening."
(And she does.
The who's who of publishing who circle the room, all in the name of Selene's first annual charity ball, can't seem to keep their eyes too far away from the rather stunning Detective Beckett.)
Castle laughs - partly because the suggestion warms him through and partly because he never thought he'd see the day that Temperance Brennan had time for anything that could be considered a pleasantry - and carefully looks in Beckett's direction.
"I'd hope so. I did buy the dress after all."
"That's very generous of you."
He grins, "Not so much generosity as it was the easiest way to guilt her into attending. If the dress just happens to appear, she could hardly avoid coming, right?"
After so many years, Brennan is no longer surprised by his more irrational choices. "Couldn't you just have asked? It seems a much more direct way to achieve the same outcome."
Castle just shrugs it off, "This way was more fun."
(Easier too. Less fraught with meaning and questions and shaky ground.
But a ball is not the time or the place to dwell on that.)
As Brennan's eyes drift back across the room, seeking someone out, Castle sees his opportunity to change the subject, "I see you brought your own partner along."
"Yes. Fortunately, I only had to ask Booth to come as my companion for the evening."
"He already had his own tux."
Leaning against the bar, he turns in to murmur in her direction, "Yeah, well, judging by the looks he's been shooting at me every time we get the chance to talk, I'd say doesn't like me."
She's worryingly matter of fact when she explains, "For reasons that don't really deserve explanation, he may be under the mistaken impression that you are some kind of predator."
Dismissively, "It was a long time ago, and it's just Booth being overprotective."
He doesn't seem convinced and has to duck his eyes as Booth's glare sweeps back in their direction. "Right..."
"I would suggest that your partner doesn't seem particularly fond of me either."
Castle seems distracted by the suggestion, "Who, Beckett?"
"Did you bring anyone else with you this evening?"
"Well, no. But Beckett wouldn't..."
"I would suggest very much that she would." Brennan shoots him a sly smile.
To this, he can only grin. "So now you're giving out love advice? How things change."
She looks at him, surprised, "What? No. No, that is definitely not my area of expertise. I was merely making an observation based on body language and verbal cues."
"Oh please. I've seen the way your partner is looking at you. And the way you're looking at him. You've got yourself some first hand relationship knowledge and something is going on there."
She firmly says nothing and straight away, he catches that flicker of... something.
"Oh my. It's big, isn't it?"
Her eyes go wide and for a long moment, she considers her response. He holds her gaze with an expression that demands explanation.
And then she comes out with it.
"No one knows. This is the first time we've been out together as romantic partners."
"Oh, wow. Pregnant?"
"Three months." And then more softly, "We're very happy."
"Oh I believe you." And then he smirks, "You've only wanted to get into bed with him possibly the whole time I've known you."
"That is not true!"
"Oh it is. And you know what? I'm glad you're finally going there."
There's an unavoidable leer to his tone and she shoots him a disapproving look. When Castle just laughs, she tips her head in the direction of his partner for the evening.
"Maybe you should take your own advice Mr Castle."
She saunters off after her well-placed parting shot, allowing Booth to curl an arm around her when she makes it back to the table.
He has to admit, they've never served each other wrong before.
He wonders if maybe it's time to ask Detective Beckett to dance.
A/N: For Em, my Castle-loving friend, look where my love for you (and your fic!) has taken me. I'm not defecting to Castle full time or anything (so those of you who know who you are can stop glaring at me) but this was fun while my Bones mojo seems to be on an extended holiday. I hope you all enjoyed :)