As requested by rainbow-dango. Outtake from "Murder Most Fowl".
Keep the kid occupied for an hour. Wrapping up with the Dad.
Beckett pockets her phone and gives the young brown haired boy a smile. "My captain's trying to wrap things up with your dad, Tyler. What do you say we let Mr. Castle buy us a burger and a shake at Remy's?" she asks, lifting her gaze to shoot Castle a small smirk. He narrows his eyes in response.
Tyler looks skeptical. "My dad's okay, right?"
"Are you kidding? Now that you're back, he's great." She says lightly, patting him on the shoulder. "And I promise that as soon as we're done, we'll take you back to him at the precinct."
Tyler considers her offer. "I am hungry," he admits.
"Come on. I'll even let you kick Castle to the back seat," she jokes.
"He didn't even call shotgun," Castle protests, feigning a disapproving face.
"Shotgun," Tyler shoots back.
"Damn," she hears Castle mutter under his breath. Her mouth twitches, suppressing a grin, happy to be stuck with a couple of big kids for an hour or two.
"I'm paying and I have to sit in the back? What's in it for me?" he whines, trailing after them to her Crown Vic.
Beckett shrugs. "Nothing. I guess you can go home." The words flow so easily from her mouth because she knows he has no intention of doing so. And she would never suggest it if she thought he actually wanted to go home.
She likes having him around. Though perhaps she's not so forthcoming in saying so.
Castle scoffs. "You're not getting rid of me that easily, Beckett."
She rolls her eyes.
"Are you guys always like this?" Tyler asks, raising an eyebrow as she opens the door for him.
Castle shivers. "That was almost uncanny." She shoots him a questioning gaze, doesn't get it. "That little raising of the eyebrow? You do that all the time," he explains.
The boy settles into the passenger seat and Castle's looking at her like he can't really believe she's going to make him sit in the back. She closes the door, brushing past him as she makes her way to the driver's side. "All the time, huh? Been staring again, Castle?" she hums in disapproval.
"You wish," he throws back easily, making a show of opening the back door and sliding inside indignantly. She lets out a little breath, her cheeks warming slightly at the suggestion that she wishes he had eyes only for her.
She shakes her head at herself and slips into the vehicle, making a mental note to call Josh after she returns Tyler to his father.
"Castle, I didn't order a plate of fries so you could steal them," Beckett scolds, slapping his hand away.
"But they're so much better than my mozzarella sticks," he complains.
"And whose fault is that, exactly?" she asks, shoving a fry into her mouth.
"You guys sure you're not married or something?" Tyler asks, taking a long slurp of his chocolate shake.
"Please. I'd kill him before we even made it down the aisle." Beckett rolls her eyes.
She waits for his quip, his comment, something, but he's silent. She cocks her head, silently prodding him.
He grins. "Oh, nothing. Just the implication that we'd make it that far."
Beckett's fingers curl against the table, her mouth as dry as the Mojave. She shakes her head, clearing her throat as she turns to Tyler, pasting a quick smile on her face. "See what I have to deal with everyday?"
Tyler's eyes narrow, sizing Castle up. "You don't really look like a cop. What exactly do you do, anyway?"
She chokes on a laugh, presses her fingers against her mouth, but it's futile. Castle narrows his eyes at her before turning back to the young boy. "What gave me away?" he asks. She can see the wheels turning in his head, planning to use Tyler's insight to his advantage.
Tyler shrugs, swallowing a bite of his burger before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "I don't know. Aren't cops supposed to be more macho?"
Her laugh rings out loud and full this time, can't stop the gasp from escaping, not as she watches Castle's face fall so dramatically.
"I'm a writer, actually," Castle says sourly, answering Tyler's earlier question. She knows he loves what he does, always has, but the distaste drips so clearly from his tongue.
"Oh. That sounds cool, I guess," Tyler responds, voice filled with lackluster enthusiasm.
She throws Castle a line before she can stop herself. "Actually, Tyler, Mr. Castle's really good at what he does. He even helps me solve crimes every now and again," she teases.
"'Helps'? 'Now and again'? Don't boost my ego too much, Beckett," he says sarcastically.
She rolls her eyes. "You don't need me to tell you how much of an asset you are," she says seriously. She can't miss the way his eyes brighten at her words, the way the corner of his eyes crinkle at her veiled compliment. So pleased.
She responds with a duck of her head, her mouth wrapping around the straw of her strawberry shake. When she looks up, she catches his eyes darting quickly away from her. Before she can even contemplate calling him out on staring yet again, his attention is on Tyler, concerned father written all over his face.
"You okay, buddy?" Castle asks him. She turns to the kid, who's managed half his sandwich, but hasn't touched his fries. His hands are nowhere near the table, fidgeting anxiously under the table.
"Yeah," he replies quietly. "Just miss my mom and dad."
Castle gives her a helpless look and she purses her lips on a nod, flicking her wrist to check her watch.
She allows herself to briefly ruffle the boy's hair before letting her hand drop to gently squeeze his shoulder. "Let's get you back then."
She reaches for her purse, grabs a few bills from her wallet.
"I got it," she hears Castle say, shooing her hand away.
"I was joking, Castle, I'm not gonna make you pay for everything," she says.
He shakes his head. "It's on me." He pulls the bills from his wallet and tosses them onto the table.
"Castle-" she starts, sighing in exasperation.
"Kate." The use of her first name on his lips startles her, but she presses on.
"I'm leaving a few ones for the tip, then." He gives her a look that says if you must and grabs his coat, slipping into it easily.
When Tyler leads them out of the restaurant, Castle leans into her and whispers, "Should we be worried about him?"
Ignoring the way his warm breath curls around the shell of her ear and trips down her spine, she shakes her head. "I think he'll be okay. We'll make a recommendation for a child psychologist, but he seems to be handling it all right."
Castle frowns. "How can you tell?"
"I've dealt with children before, Castle. This isn't my first rodeo, you know."
"Mmm. A rodeo. Suddenly I'm picturing you in nothing but a cowboy hat and a pair of-"
"Castle," she says sharply, swallowing the stunned laugh that's caught in her throat. But he just gives her a grinning, unapologetic look before re-entering the vehicle to escape her wrath.
She misses the warmth of Tyler's small hand in hers as he reunites with his father. She feels Castle's eyes on her and she turns into his gaze, finds his eyes warm and understanding. But he doesn't say anything, not for a long while until he leans into her as he brushes against the sleeve of her coat.
"You can hold my hand anytime, Detective," he rasps, slipping away before she can even muster a half-hearted slap against his arm.
She sinks her teeth into her lip, shaking her head at his retreating form. Infuriating man-child.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket, signaling an incoming call. She pulls it from her coat, the image of her boyfriend lighting up the screen. She hesitates before her thumb slips over 'Ignore'.
She'll call him later.
Love to hear from you.