Among Friends

Ryan sipped his coffee and stared out the break room window. He was starting to feel insulted.

"You know, Beckett's pretty good at her job. I don't think she needs the support of Castle's hand on her upper thigh in order to do routine paperwork." Castle and Beckett had been "working" at her desk for the last twenty minutes. They were getting ridiculous. And gross. "Do they think we're stupid?"

Esposito slammed the refrigerator door harder than was strictly necessary. "I don't think they're thinking. I don't think enough blood is getting to their brains."

Ryan snorted. "Or they're too tired to think."

"Yeah." Esposito took a long drink of his soda, wiped the back of his mouth. "Constant sex takes a lot out of you."

"Ew, man." Ryan held up a hand. "I don't need that image."

"Don't blame me. Blame Romeo and Juliet out there." Esposito pursed his lips in disgust. "I can't believe they think we don't know."

"Right? Do they think they're being subtle?" Ryan raised his mug to his mouth. "Because they're terrible at subtle."

"They are so terrible. Did you see Beckett bend over to hand Castle his coffee this morning? Her nipples were practically brushing his chest. He almost drooled on her."

Ryan choked on his coffee. "I can't believe you just mentioned Beckett's nipples. We're at work, man."

"Again, don't blame me. I'm not the one shoving my boobs in Castle's face."

Ryan grabbed a napkin and scrubbed at the coffee spit on his tie. "And yet another image I don't need."

Esposito ignored him. "I can't take much more of this shit. Wait." He jumped to the window and lifted the slats. "Are you kidding me?"

"What?" Ryan nearly knocked over his coffee getting to the window.

"That." Ryan followed Esposito's accusatory finger to find that Castle had moved his hand and was trailing his fingers up and down the inside of Beckett's thigh. Beckett's spine was going to snap, she was trying so hard to sit still, but she was smiling, gazing at Castle from under her eyelashes.

"Is she giving him sex eyeballs? Is she biting her lip?"

"What the hell are they doing?" Esposito's voice was an octave higher with disbelief. "Do they really think we can't see that? Her desk is in the middle of bullpen."

Ryan could feel his eyes bugging out. "Can too much sex make you actually lose your mind? Because I think that's what's happening here."

Esposito gulped down the rest of his soda. "How am I supposed to get any work done? I can't sit three feet away from that. I keep accidentally looking at them." He crushed his soda can in his fist. "Makes me feel like a perv."

Ryan sighed. "What's up with them today? Yesterday they were at least trying. Now it's like soft core porn out there."

Esposito shuddered. "Did I tell you I got trapped in the elevator with them this morning?"

"Oh no."

"Yes. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pretend you have no idea what's going on while they're behind you, rustling and whispering? Beckett was giggling." Esposito looked baffled. "Beckett doesn't giggle."



"Have you noticed that Beckett's been making him coffee?"

"Yes." Esposito raised his eyebrows. "That's when she shoves her boobs in his face."

Ryan rubbed his head. "Dude, seriously, I can't talk about Beckett's boobs again."

"If she kept her boobs to herself I wouldn't have to talk about them!"

Ryan tried to change the subject. "How about all the handshaking? What the hell is up with that?"

"God! The handshaking! Get a room already!" Esposito sucked in air, his nostrils flaring. "You just know that ten minutes later they're doing it in the supply closet."

Ryan turned, his eyes wide. "No way! The supply closet?"

Esposito nodded, his mouth twisted, like he was trying not to barf. "Saw them sneaking in after we wrapped that case yesterday afternoon. Who knows how often they go in there?" He looked faintly frantic. "What am I supposed to do the next time I need coffee filters? What if I need toilet paper?"

"We can't go on like this."


As they watched, Beckett answered her phone. She spoke for a minute, then hung up and leaned in to whisper something to Castle.

"Does she need to get that close? She was practically in his lap already."

Ryan took a breath to answer, but was mid eye-roll when Castle looked up, directly at them.

"Whoa!"He and Esposito reared back from the window so fast they slammed their heads together. Esposito fell against the table while Ryan spilled the rest of his coffee down the front of his shirt.

"Damn it! I don't have a clean shirt here."

"Whatever." Esposito was holding his head with both hands. "I think you broke my skull. You forget to tell me about the steel plate in your head?"

"Hey, are you guys okay?" Castle was in the doorway. He was frowning with concern, but it still couldn't dull the light in his eyes. The light of lots and lots of secret sex. Ryan pulled his wet shirt away from his body and tried to suppress the urge to punch him.

"We're fine, bro." Esposito might have been gritting his teeth. He was still clutching his head. "That a call about a body?"

"Yeah." Castle seemed oblivious to the glares and teeth gritting. Apparently secret sex acted as a shield against the displeasure of others. "Central Park. You riding with us?"

"God, no." Esposito dropped his hands. "I mean, we've got a quick errand. We'll meet you there." He smiled, but it sort of looked like he was baring his teeth.

Castle didn't even hesitate. "Okay. See you there!" He rushed in the direction of the elevators, where Beckett was no doubt waiting to make out during the thirty second trip to the lobby.

Ryan turned to Esposito "What errand are we running?"

"Nothing. I just can't be in a car with them." Esposito shuddered. "I mean, do you want to ride with them?"

"Oh." Ryan blanched "Hell no."

"That's what I thought."

Lanie was trying very hard not be pissed off. Very, very hard.

She squatted in the wet grass over the body –GSW to the chest, pretty straight-forward – and glanced up to see Castle and Beckett approaching across the open field.

Oh, good Lord. They were walking so closely their arms were brushing, the slight stiffness in their shoulders and arms indicating that they were trying not to hold hands. Kate wasn't even watching where she was going, her face tilted up, saying something to Castle. His head was bent so that her lips were practically touching his ear. They were still too far away to hear what they were saying, but Lanie bet it was something sappy. Or dirty. Both of them had stupid, gooey smiles on their faces.

Lanie rolled her eyes so hard she almost gave herself a headache. If they weren't going to try any harder than this to hide their relationship they might as well just send out a notice on the precinct listserve.

Lanie'd had her suspicions all summer, of course. When Javi told her that Castle had been at Kate's the morning after she'd nearly died, Lanie was sure something was up. Castle and Kate were stubborn, but surely even they wouldn't waste yet another near death experience. Lanie didn't know firsthand, but she was willing to bet I-love-you-and-I'm-so-glad-you're-not-dead sex was the best, especially if it was preceded by four years of foreplay.

Still, Kate and Castle seemed determined to pine for each other forever, like some sort of idiotic fairytale, so it was hard to be sure.

But their first day back? Suspicions confirmed. They were trying to hide it, but it was hard to conceal that kind of happiness.

Lanie fully expected them to tell her the minute they were alone. She was just messing with them when she'd announced "you're having sex", the expectation being that they would shush her like crazy, Beckett would blush, Castle would look ridiculously please with himself, and they would tell her all about it so Lanie could squeal and flail accordingly.

But that didn't happen.

No. They actually tried to act like they didn't know what she was talking about. Like Kate might have been having sex with some mystery guy, with someone other than Castle.

Did they think she was an idiot? There were several ways Castle might have reacted had he honestly believed Kate Beckett had a secret boyfriend who was not him. All of which involved hurt feelings and pouting. None included light-hearted joking. And the cover up had only gotten more ridiculous from there.

Lanie understood why they wanted to keep it a secret from everyone else, but they were keeping it a secret from her, and they were keeping it badly. They were denying Lanie her rightful best friend flails of happiness, and that was why she was trying so hard not to be pissed off.

It's not that Lanie wasn't completely, totally happy for Kate and Castle. She was. Never had she seen two people take longer to come to their damn senses, and, frankly, the fact that they were – finally! – together, was a relief.

She just wanted to be able to share their damn happiness, and maybe take Kate out for a Girls Night and get some details. After having to watch them both be so stupid for so long, Lanie did not feel that details were too much to ask.

"Seriously? We got here before they did? They had a ten minute head start!"

Lanie tilted her head back. Ryan and Javi were standing behind her, squinting at Kate and Castle, who were still trudging across the field.

"I'm not even going to think about what they were doing with those ten minutes." Ryan was shaking his head so quickly his cheeks were quivering. "I'm not."

Lanie tried not to laugh. Poor Ryan. For him this was almost like having to think about his parents having sex. "Gentlemen. Hello. How's our favorite secret couple this morning? And I'm not talking about you two."

Javi snorted. "Disgusting. They're disgusting"

"Yeah, Lanie. It's like they're not even trying today."

"Today?" Lanie got to her feet and raised her eyebrows at Ryan. "They haven't been trying all week. Remember that shirt Beckett was wearing on Tuesday? The white one, with the black bra underneath? Castle couldn't rip his eyes off her boobs."

Ryan groaned. "Not the boobs again."

Lanie took pity on Ryan and decided she didn't want to know. "They had to spend the last two nights apart." Lanie shot a look at Kate and Castle, who were still only half-way across the field. They probably parked that far away on purpose. "All of that love and affection and honeymoon sex has been without an outlet for over forty-eight hours."

"First of all - yuck. Second - how do you know they spent two nights apart?"

"Yeah?" Javi sounded pissed. "Did they tell you? You and not us?"

"Shhhh!" Sound carried across the field. Any louder and Kate and Castle were going to hear Javi and the secret would be out. Their secret, the secret between the three of them, the secret that they knew their secret. They would know that they knew what they didn't want them to know. Or something like that.

Lanie shook her head to clear it. "No, they didn't tell me. Please. Alexis told me. She was home for the last two nights. Castle was hanging out with her."

"Alexis knows?" Ryan sounded totally betrayed.

"She's his daughter, Ryan"

"What, like we're not family?" Javi's nostrils were doing that weird flaring thing they did when he was hurt and pretending to be mad instead.

Lanie sighed. Children, all of them.

"What is wrong with you? They aren't thinking about you. They're scared. They don't want Castle to get kicked out of the precinct." Lanie didn't add "you moron" but hoped that it was implied.

"We get that Lanie, we're not idiots."

"Then you see why they aren't telling you."

"We can keep a secret!"

Lanie fixed him with a look. Ryan couldn't even keep his voice down. "Can you? Can you really?"

"Yes!" Ryan was almost sputtering. "We don't want Castle kicked out, either."

"Seriously. We're not assholes." Javi shrugged. "Most of the time."

Lanie rubbed Javi's arm, small circles to sooth him. "They're nervous and worried about telling people. They're being stupid, but that's nothing new. As their friends, we are going to let them think they are doing a good job keeping their secret for a reasonable amount of time."

"They way they're acting, a 'reasonable amount of time' was up several days ago." Javi narrowed his eyes at her. "And why aren't you mad? Last week you said, and I quote, 'If Kate Beckett doesn't tell me soon I will rip the secret from her throat with my bare hands.' unquote."

"Oh, don't worry." Lanie waved her rubber gloved finger for emphasis. "Kate Beckett is going to pay for this. But after the year they've had, the four years they've had, isn't it nice to see them happy?"

"Hmmph." Javi huffed as he and Ryan turned towards Castle and Kate. As they watched, a gust of wind blew up, sending Kate's hair flying around her head in a dark halo. She stopped walking, laughing, her hair all over her face.. Seemingly without a thought Castle reached up and brushed the strands behind her ears, while Kate smiled at him with such love Lanie could see it from where she stood.

"I guess." Javi folded his arms across his chest but he didn't sound quite as disgruntled as before. "Happy and repulsive."

"Yeah." Ryan was starting to smile a little. "Disgusting, but it is cool to see them so happy."

The sun dappled through the trees, and Lanie had a sudden flash of another day, another stretch of green grass, with the sun in a beautiful sky. Watching Kate and Castle come towards them, smiling, whole, together, almost made her want to cry. How different this day was, how far they'd come.

"Hey guys." Kate and Castle finally meandered up to them, trying subtly to step apart so they weren't quite so close. Castle's hand twitched a little as they did, the back of his fingers brushing Kate's. Kate dropped her eyes for a moment, the slightest hint of smile flitting across her face, and for half a second Lanie really was in danger of tearing up.

"Lanie?" Kate cocked her head and raised her eyebrows. "Why are guys looking at us so weird? What's going on?"

Oh, they were precious. Lanie was almost going to feel bad the next time she messed with them. Almost.

She smiled, her heart almost too big for her chest. "Oh, nothing. I just know a really great secret."

A/N - Thanks so much to Nic, for answering my frantic call and looking this over at the last second.:)

Reviews are so yummy.:)