.

I know, I know, I haven't written much of anything in a long time now. I had to take a hiatus - I had some pretty heavy reasons, but nonetheless, I'm sorry I had to keep you guys waiting.

I AM going to jump back into my other ongoing stories (especially "Valor" and "The Paths We Take"), but first, I'm going to be cranking out a oneshot or two, and maybe some more of my Esplanie drabbles, just to get my feet wet again.

I actually wrote this particular one several months ago. It's an Esplanie-minded post-ep for episode 4x13, "An Embarrassment Of Bitches," and it's a ONESHOT. (Meaning, as much as I appreciate seeing Story Alerts from you guys, there's no point in Alerting this one. Sorry.) Last but not least? It's our favorite M.E.'s POV, so what are you waiting for?

I, as always, do not own Castle.

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He wasn't going to sleep with Kay Cappuccio.

He was not going to sleep with Kay Cappuccio.

He wouldn't. It was inconceivable.

Nope, he w-

He'd probably already slept with the bitch. She was probably at his apartment eating pancakes around a cigarette. That skank. He could have her. Ignorant man-child.

Letting out a frustrated growl at herself, Lanie practically chucked her medical tools down at the tray, then folded her arms and scowled at the dead man whose torso she'd been just about to Y-slice. "Oh, and just what do you think you're lookin' at," her voice demanded of him. "You do not have room to judge me. If you hadnt'a been sleepin' with some little hussy on the side we wouldn't even be having this conversation right now. You just keep all that postmortem condescension to yourself; we'll get along just fine."

…Great. Look at her. She was talking to the dead guys now. According to the Spinster Scale, she was one romantic movie and a can of whipped cream away from buying a hell of a lot of cats.

She hated cats. This was a problem.

Snapping off one of her latex gloves, Lanie rubbed her hand across her forehead as if that alone might straighten out her thoughts - and this was coming from a woman who'd set records in medical school, so her current level of desperation was clearly much higher than anticipated. This was not normal. This was is no way standard Lanie Parish behavior. She had to do something, fast. Something to quiet her mind. She had to think.

Okay. What is it that's bugging me this much. Well, that one was easy, even though it killed her to admit it. Like pulling teeth without Novocain. Fear. Fear is my problem. Okay. But what was it that she was so afraid of? The M.E. pulled off her other glove while she chewed that one over, dropping both used gloves in the waste bin under the counter. Dying alone? Well, no, not dying alone. That's Kate's problem, at the rate she's going with Castle. Me, I can get a date, thank you. And even if I did spend the rest of my life with Me, Myself and I, I'm fun to be around. I make excellent company. I do not fear being an old maid, if necessary, bring it on.

So, fine. Then what was it?

It was the Kay Cappuccio of it all, that's what it was. Dumbass Javier and his eyelash-fluttering, label-crazy, famous-for-now bimbo celebutante. Made her jealous as hell.

Well that just sucked, didn't it.

Some days, Lanie just truly didn't get that man. And she'd dated him for almost ten months, total duration considered, so that was saying something. Why on earth would he throw such a mantrum over her bringing a date to Ryan's wedding, then? He clearly wasn't about to pursue her, considering the fact that he was still playing the Jealousy Game despite about a thousand colossal hints - as if bringing a gay guy as her date wasn't a big enough clue. For God's sake, how clear was she supposed to be? What more did Javier need, a smoke signal? A puppet show? Giant spotlight beam over the city in the shape of the words 'I'm ready now?' Apparently Hard-Headed Javi had missed the point of why they'd played the whole 'wedding date' game in the first place. And of course, saw no reason to play White Knight once he learned her 'other man' shopped at Burberry. Shoulda kept my mouth shut and let him writhe about it. 'Least if he still felt threatened, he'd know who he should be flirtin' with.

And that was another thing - well, there were a lot of 'other things.' What did he think it meant when she picked on him at crime scenes? Was he just completely deaf and dumb to female body language? Lanie sure hadn't thought so, but then again, that was when they were sleeping together. You could overlook a lot when your bedfellow looked and worked like Javier Esposito. But that was no excuse, not anymore, not this far into things. Hell no. Honestly, with the number of signals he misinterpreted, you would never think that the man was a police detective. A slow drive-thru operator, maybe. Or a janitor. But certainly not a detective. How else could you explain it? It was your basic kindergarten sandbox theory. Picking at him didn't mean 'You piss me off;' it was universal lingo for 'Hey dummy, I'm into you!' Didn't he pay attention to Castle and Beckett anymore? Did he even still have cash riding on them?

Lanie had dated some thickheaded men in her time, but this one took the cake. He was horrible at this. The man fights a breakup, then flaunts his freedom in Atlantic City. He brags about scoring sorority sisters, but gets jealous enough of her wedding date to bring his own cousin. He acts so relieved when she all but admits she's still on hold for him, walking her to her seat, dancing with her, making her think…

Well. It didn't matter what she thought. He followed that up with a heaping dose of the Look At Me Now in the form of a Kay Cap-freaking-puccio flirt-fest. One step forward and ten steps back again. None of this fit into any emotional, natural, or rational science. Neither did that girl's obvious silicone.

That was the matter here. Lanie Parish was stuck, and she hated being stuck, especially without a ball in her court. It really. Frustrated. The hell out of her.

You do realize this is all because you're in love with the idiot, Conscience Lanie told her. And you kinda asked for this. He didn't wanna take a break to 'figure out what we want' and you did. Took you long enough to make your mind up. You're just like Beckett, is your problem -

Regular Lanie shut Conscience Lanie up really quickly. Conscience Lanie was not helping.

All right, so what do I do now. Well, for starters, she could get back to work on the dead guy on her table and start slicing on the dotted line, but that shockingly didn't sound very appealing at the moment, and it wasn't like he was going anywhere… Option B jumped out at the good doctor like a beacon from the holy grail. The magnetic draw of her cell phone. Lanie Parish was done being on hold.

Marching toward the back with purpose, Lanie snatched up her phone and thumped the speed dial for Beckett's number. She drummed her fingers on the top of the storage counter while she waited through three or four rings, and then was surprised to hear a familiar male voice answer on the other line. "Well, hello there, Dr. Parish. What brings you to this neck of…airwave space?"

Wait. Castle. Answering Kate's phone? Why even question it anymore…

And then a light bulb clicked on.

Hmm…this may be even better.

"Hello Castle," she said cheerfully. Almost too cheerfully. The theme from Jaws was probably playing in the author's head right now. "You know, it's a good thing you picked up, 'cause I would like to collect on one of those numerous favors you owe me."

"Uh, what favors, again? I don't remem- "

"Go with it, Castle."

"Oh those favors. How could I ever forget. Right."

"Mmmm-hm."

"Well, what can I do for you? Just name it. Unless it's something that'll get me in trouble and then we may have to haggle a little."

Here went nothing. With all the confidence she had, Lanie declared, "I would like for you to set me up a date."

Rick choked for a second on the other line. Somehow she'd called that. "Me? You…want me to set you up with a man that I know?"

"No, I was hoping for a squirrel that you know. Yes, a man."

"But, but what about-?"

"Don't play, Castle. Now, you know more or less every eligible bachelor with a penthouse and a pension in this town, yes?"

"Well I do, but I'm…to be honest I don't have a lot of other guy friends and it's been a few years since I've had to remember the penalty for setting up an ex-girlfriend; I just don't know if this'll be a severe violation to the Bro Code- "

Out of Castle's sight or not, Lanie raised an eyebrow. He'd probably be able to hear it. "Okay, then let me ask you whet you're more afraid of: your Bro Code, or me with sharp medical tools and a bone to pick with you?"

"Can I get back to you?"

"Castle!"

"Okay, okay! Sheesh. I will set you up with someone I know this Saturday night. But if I get strung up and pummeled for this it is so on you."

"I'm willin' to live with that," she deadpanned, then exhaled in satisfaction. "Thank you." There. If Javi was going to hobnob with the rich and brainless, so could she. She could do one better. They'd see who was really jealous when the dust settled.

"I just hope you realize you're only going to make it worse, you know," the writer added.

Lanie hadn't seen that one coming. She was expecting something closer to a hang-up. Her brow eyebrows knit downward in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"It's probably not my place to say anything."

"Since when has that stopped you before?"

"Confidentiality is a writer's virtue."

"Either you tell me what you were gonna say, or I let it slip in the middle of the next crime scene that you were playing Beckett's secretary."

"Okay, all right, fine - jeez, I think we really need to talk about that whole 'bossy' problem all you women have - "

"Cut to the point before I hurt you."

"My point is, anybody could tell that Esposito was obviously attempting to get over you which he isn't and I think you're just trying to make him jealous because you're not over him either but it's going to backfire since I'm pretty sure he already thinks you're not interested anymore and if you go out with someone else he's only going to take that as a sign to move on forever and I think you might really screw up you guys' chances at what could be a really good thing again and there I said it."

Damn. It took Dr. Parish a few moments to follow the breadcrumbs on that one. The best thing she could do was blink when she hit the obvious conclusion. So he's not over me…and he truly, seriously thinks I want nothin' more to do with him? Well, that was just beautiful. At this rate, she really was going to end up like Beckett.

"Is that why he was playin' Superman to that Malibu Barbie?"

"I'm not at liberty to say."

"So he wasn't actually tryin' to make me jealous," she mused to herself.

"I'm not at liberty to say."

"Castle."

"Right."

Lanie needed to think. This was valuable information, and it required some real damage control. Apparently she wasn't quite as obvious with her intentions as she'd thought. Maybe she'd been a little hard on him at crime scenes. Maybe it'd be better to play it more straightforward than coy for a while; no more playing games, just the honest truth and a little bit of time…

"Uh, Lanie? You're still there, right?"

She sighed. "Yes, I'm still here. You can go, Castle. Forget about the blind date for now. I have to think about a couple things first. Mind you, not a word of this leaves this conversation."

"Consider my lips sealed, Dr. Parish."

"And, Castle? Thanks. I think. Though one of these days you are going to tell me why you were answering Beckett's phone."

Writer Boy grinned; she could just tell. "I was playing Angry Birds on it. Mine's battery died in the car."

Somehow, she wasn't even surprised. Wouldn't be surprised if there was more to the story, either. "Goodbye, Castle," Lanie smirked.

"Until next time."

Hanging up, the M.E. jostled the phone in her palm a little, and she thought about what she'd just heard. Sometimes, it was a blessing that Rick Castle couldn't shut up to save his life.

So Javier had really been hunting for new prospects, huh? In all honesty, it did make Lanie a little bit sad to think she'd let it get that far. But it was all right. Soon enough, she would make it clear to him that this ship hadn't sailed. There were a few things she was ready to tell him now. They'd get back on track and back to where they were before. She would get her man back. She had to.

Finally, she relaxed, smiling with an odd sense of serenity as she took up her instruments again, content with her dead. As for Cappuccio? The woman wasn't a threat in the long run at all - because in the end, she, Lanie Parish, had the one thing that was sexier than any of Kay Cappuccio's high-dollar endorsements.

A doctorate degree.

There was just no competition when you put it like that.

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I always appreciate reviews (especially ones that say WHY you enjoyed this or that), and it's been a long time since I've published anything, so if anyone wants to give me their thoughts real quick, I'd be very much obliged.

If anyone's interested in joining any roleplaying groups, head over to my profile page and find the two paragraphs with the links in them. There's more info there.

Back to the caves I go, probably to clean out my doc files some more. Peace and love.

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