For Olivia, with special thanks to Jade.
"Did you know that there's evidence that William Tell was an avid bowler?"
"Really? I didn't know bowling had been around that long."
"Oh yeah. Since ancient Egypt in one form or another. Anyway, apparently William Tell and his family played in a league and everything."
"You're kidding me."
"No. But all of the Swiss records have been lost, so unfortunately we'll probably never know for whom the Tells bowled."
A groan echoes across the bullpen and Ryan looks up from his paperwork, finds writer and muse grinning over the desk at each other. He shakes his head and watches them for a moment, the pair's conversation filtering through the clamor of ringing phones and clicking heels.
"That was a terrible joke."
"You know you liked it. What did the baby corn call its daddy?"
The response comes quickly. "Popcorn."
"You already heard that one?"
"Uh-huh. When I was six."
Disappointment flits through bright eyes. "Darn."
"Come on, I know you can do better than that," a soft voice encourages. It's cute, really, but the Irish detective feels a little like he's intruding, wishes Esposito were here to snap them out of it. He tries to tune them out as he turns back to his paperwork, doesn't quite succeed.
"Fine. Have you heard the one about the bagger at the grocery store?"
"No, I don't think so."
"So there's this kid. Smart, polite, great with people. You know the type. Just an all-around good kid."
"Uh-huh. What about him?"
"Well, he works as a bagger at a supermarket. One day as he's bagging groceries, he glances over at the deli area and sees that they're installing a new juice machine. It's really fancy, all these knobs and levers, and the kid is just fascinated with it."
"He is. So he goes to his boss, and he says, 'Sir, I've been working here for two years. I've never missed a shift, I've never been late, and no one has ever complained about me.' His boss looks him over critically, nods and says, 'You're right. I think you've earned a raise.' But the kid shakes his head. 'I don't want a raise,' he says. 'I just want to run the new juice machine.' 'Oh,' his boss replies. 'I'm so sorry. You can't.' Of course, the kid asks why not."
"I'd be asking the same question."
"Yeah. So his boss tells him: 'Unfortunately, there's a company policy that says that baggers can't be juicers.'"
"Baggers can't be - oh," another groan reaches Ryan's ears, and he looks up again. "Oh. That is a horrible joke. You just wasted two minutes of my life. I can't get that time back, you know. It's just gone. Forever."
A grin answers the complaint. "My sincerest apologies. One more."
An eyebrow raises. "Really?"
"Yep. The past, the present, and the future walk into a bar."
"It was tense."
Castle's jaw drops. "Did you just- was that a grammar joke, Detective?"
She smirks. "Thought you'd like that one."
"That is so hot," he stage whispers.
"Mmm," she hums. "Like that?"
He nods. "Saved the best for last, didn't you?"
"Not the last," she says, her voice husky as she shakes her head. "And definitely not the best."
The writer opens his mouth, but Ryan has had enough. He pushes back from his desk, stands, and stalks toward the duo. "Look, can't you save it for when you get home?"
His boss levels him with a look, and he puts his hands up in surrender. "Fine, I was just leaving anyway."
He turns back to his desk, gathering up his belongings. Never thought he'd see the day when the writer was the one having a rough day and the detective told him corny jokes to cheer him up. Of course, he knows full well how marriage changes people.
"Come on, we should get going too."
Glancing back over his shoulder while he walks toward the elevator, he watches with a soft smile as Castle pulls his wife's coat over her shoulders, gently untucking her hair from the collar and leaning in to press his lips to her forehead.
More than a year and they've still got it bad.
"Getting hungry?" the writer's deep voice rings down the hallway.
"Yeah, I read about this new place we should try," she answers. "I think you'll love it. It's on the moon."
"The moon?" Castle groans, and Ryan punches the button for the elevator, wishing it would move faster.
They catch up to him though, just as the other detective answers. "Yeah, the critic who wrote the article said it had great food, but no atmosphere."
The writer chortles, and the trio steps into the elevator together.
Backing into the furthest corner, he shuts his eyes, blocking out the image of his boss and her partner giggling at each other and snuggling up close. Mom and Dad, indeed. He wonders what they get up to when they have the elevator to themselves, instantly wishing he'd never let that thought cross his mind.
"That is wrong on so many levels," he mutters as the floor sinks beneath their feet.
Castle turns to him with a smirk. "An elevator pun. Very nice. Looks like we're rubbing off on you."
Crap. He's doomed.