women like that don't become mystery writers

Disclaimer: There are now 17 days until graduation. Thought you ought to know.

A co-written story from Liviafan1 and FanficwriterGHC

Chapter 6:

It's like the bat cave.

While he digs for something or other upstairs-a book, maybe? She kind of missed half of what he was saying the minute she spotted his desk.

While he does that, she wanders around his office, fingers trailing along his desk-this great modern thing with knick knacks and scrap notes spread out around his closed laptop. Richard Castle's desk.

A part of her—the very girly, fan part of her—is squealing.

She shakes her head and spots a few framed photos on the mantle behind the desk. Photos of him. Jeez, he's got photos of himself in his office.

She moves from the desk to the bookshelves, trying to convince herself that his arrogance far negates the wonder of seeing his desk, where he wrote all of those books, the books she—

He has full wall bookshelves. Double sided, full wall bookshelves. And shit, is that a first edition Hemingway?

The spread is incredible. She thinks she might be able to live in this office, reading book after book, and never get bored.

But then she'd be living in Richard Castle's office. And he may be her favorite writer, but he's an enormous ass.

With an absolutely lovely family. Honestly, how does a man so childish and irritating raise a daughter like that, and mostly on his own?

Alexis is adorable, and well spoken. She reminds Kate of what her mother used to say she was like, but she can't remember ever being. Poised, together, delightful—his daughter is just simply a delight. And that's really not fair at all.

If his daughter were stuck up, like him, or rude, like him, or just...as completely insufferable, maybe she wouldn't feel that big brick wall chipping at the back of her mind.

There's got to be some good in him for him to have a kid like that.

"God, you'd think finding my own book wouldn't be so hard. But there are just so many of them to go through."

Or maybe the kid is a complete fluke and he's really just an ass with an ego ten miles long.

"You went to look for your own book."

He nods and gestures to the couch, following her just a hair too closely as she slowly sits down. He plops down right beside her, eager as a cocker spaniel, and flips the book open.

"I had this idea once. Made a mention of it in Storm's Break." He turns a few pages then taps one triumphantly. "Ha. Here: 'Storm wondered idly if it were even possible to fall down a manhole like that.'"

Kate stares at him and he looks back, weirdly proud of himself.

"That's what you left me down here for? A line about falling in a manhole? The body we saw today wasn't anywhere near a manhole."

"Yes. But!" He taps the page again, like she's supposed to divine his meaning out of the manic tempo of his fingers. "What if her killer fell down a manhole, broke his neck, and died."

"Then the case is over," Kate supplies.

Ten Bestsellers? Is Gina sure he didn't pay someone off to write them?

"Ah, but what if he was a hitman?"

"A hitman."

"Yes!" She holds back a smile at the sight of his blatant enthusiasm, those blue eyes all lit up and bright with excitement. "The hitman falls down a manhole, thus cutting the detectives off from their main source."

Kate pauses. It's not half bad, and certainly an inventive enough way for someone to off themselves.

And hitting dead ends, well, she's good with those, isn't she?

"Alright," she concedes. He whoops. The child. "Alright. So it's a hit then. A violent hit."

"Likes to leave a signature, but he always gets the job done," Castle says, nodding at her.

"So...someone wanted her dead. Someone high up?"

"Of course. S'no fun if it's a bookie or something."

"Though infinitely more surprising," Kate counters.

"You want to write the book about the bookie who hires a hitman to kill his what, girlfriend, mistress? Talk about low stakes, Beckett."

"Murder is always high stakes," she snaps. Shit.

He considers her, eyes narrowed for a moment. She lets him look, keeping her face impassive, and after a minute, he gives up.

"Be that as it may, I think, for our purposes, shooting for a Best Seller here, we should aim high."

"Fine," she says. The bookie angle isn't any good anyway. "So, he's—"

"Or she," he puts in, cheeky grin already in place.

"Or she," she grits out. "Is some kind of big—what? Politician, official?"

"Well, who's our girl," he asks, tossing his feet up onto the coffee table. "Are we going with the exact details of Lanie's stiff, or are we getting a bit more creative?"

"Young, white Jane Doe too boring for you?" she wonders, eyeing his feet. It's a nice coffee table.

"No, but, what's her story?"

"I thought we were figuring out the killer," she grouses, shifting around and sinking into the unfairly comfortable, buttery leather couch.

He tosses his book onto the coffee table, giving her look like he knows exactly how comfortable his couch is. "I usually work from the bottom up," he admits. "Get a little excited by the killer sometimes, but building it back from the body is easier than building forward. At least in my, admittedly vast, experience."

She rolls her eyes and toes out of her heels before plopping her feet up onto the table. "Me too," she admits.

Ugh, that smile. Smug bastard. It's not like it's the secret to mystery writing or anything.

"Alright. So, our vic. Jane Doe. Maybe she's a little older than mid twenties."


"Even forties. Are we set on a woman?"

"You want to change the gender too?" she asks, catching his eyes as they flick over her. Seriously. He's checking her out now?

"Well, forties, male. Maybe he was on the way back from work, going home to dinner with the family."

"Seems pretty average. Not really the big bang you were looking for," she counters.

"You said it yourself. Murder is always high stakes, right? Not coming home for dinner's just as bad as not making it to the helipad."

She stiffens and he notices, her silence too long to be written off as humming over his words. He doesn't say anything, seemingly content with watching her squirm.

"Sounds like something you'd read about tucked into a corner of the newspaper that nobody reads."

She flushes under his intense gaze, his curiosity lingering over her reaction to his words.

"But wouldn't you agree that it's important to remain true to life?" he asks. And of course he's absolutely right. That was one of the reasons his books had helped her through the all the heartache—they were real.

"It should be fused with excitement, of course—no one ever picks up a book to escape into reality, but it's the moments of truth that make it so easy to fall in love." He pauses, his eyes a little starry now, swept up in the poetry of it all. "With a novel I mean," he adds hastily.

"Right." She clears her throat, shifting her gaze to a spot on the wall. "I agree," she says softly.

"Good." She turns back in time to catch his smile. His genuine smile that crinkles at the corners of his eyes and makes him look an adorable, pleased little boy.

Oh, man.

"We should be writing this down." She lifts her feet from the coffee table and reaches for her bag, pulling her laptop from its snug pocket.

"Memory loss at your age?" he teases.

She rolls her eyes. "Don't be cute, old man." Her fingers nudge the track pad, bringing the screen to life.

"I'll skip over your commentary about my age since you called me cute."

"That's nice, Castle. I'm sure your ego really needs that boost," she says wryly.

He shrugs. "Couldn't hurt."

She hums her response, distracted as she opens a new document and dashes off what they've come up with so far, including the facts of the real case involving Jane Doe. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees him lean over, peering into the screen. His shoulder is warm against hers as his breath fans across her jaw. She manages to suppress a shiver, but her keystrokes have stopped, her fingers halting along with her inability to focus at the hands of his proximity.

"Do you always use that font?"

She presses Enter a little too forcefully. "Yes." She pauses, wants to cut her eyes to his, but he's still only mere inches away and she's really not in a place to play with fire. "Is that a problem?"

"It's just—Garamond? C'mon, Beckett. It's so old and stuffy." He shudders, leaning back into his own space. She closes her eyes, disguising her relief with her annoyance at his judgment.

"Well, I'm sorry that my font is too boring for you, Castle. I like the way it looks on the page." She rolls her eyes. "You probably use something ridiculous like Comic Sans, don't you?"

He scoffs. "No. Times New Roman." He puffs his chest out proudly.

She lets out a disbelieving laugh. "And I'm the stuffy one? At least I'm original. You're just a lame old default."

He narrows his eyes. "I think the word you're looking for is classic."

"Or stale," she throws back. Are they seriously arguing over fonts, right now? This is ridiculous. Seconds ago she wanted to jump his bones and now she wants to crush his bones.

As he sits there ticking off the reasons on his fingers that his choice is far superior to hers, she wonders how in the hell she's going to make it through this next month without falling into his bed or murdering him in his sleep.

Then again, she's always been an adept multi-tasker.

No reason why she can't do both.