A/N: This is a birthday present for my wonderful, inspirational and fun friend Thais (aka ms_TGR - for a good time, follow her on Twitter!). She's a great editor and brainstormer and one of the dirtiest minds I know. Sorry this isn't more dirty for you, but I thought a little flirty fun might make your day brighter! Happy Birthday!
Disclaimer: I don't own Castle but I love to play around in this universe. To AWM, the cast and crew goes my highest respect and admiration.
Richard Castle sat at the end of the long Art Deco bar, the sole patron of the somewhat seedy establishment. It wasn't his usual haunt, but he was in the area. And he needed a drink.
He had just finished yet another excruciating meeting with his publisher.
"Rick, I don't know how to say this but Storm is getting stale. You need to fix it or Black Pawn is going to pull out on your deal."
He wasn't sure which was worse, the fact that Gina, his publisher and ex-wife, was smirking as she said it, or that he knew it was true.
Storm was getting stale. Castle could feel it every time he started plucking away at his keyboard. He was tired of writing the ruggedly handsome spy's stories of espionage and deceit. Clara Stryke no longer held his attention as she once had, and Derrick, well, Derrick was getting old.
Castle sat quietly contemplating his 10-year scotch, trying to figure out his next move. He took a long pull from the cut glass tumbler and closed his eyes, savouring the smoky dry flavour as it rolled across his tongue, burned slightly as it slid down the back of his throat, and settled warmly in the pit of his stomach. It wasn't going to improve his lack of inspiration, but it was dulling the sting a bit.
The welcome bell at the front of the bar rang loudly as the opening wood and stained glass door slammed it into action, bringing Castle out of his reverie. He wondered what other sad soul needed a drink at such an ungodly early hour in the day. He shook the sentiment off. It's five o'clock somewhere.
Three figures entered the long galley-style room, their features shaded by the back-lighting of the bright sun outside. Two men, one woman.
Castle sized up the fellows as best he could given the poor lighting and their distance from his seat at the end of the bar. Both of the men appeared to be just under six feet, one stockier than the other. Both men walked with confidence, striding towards a booth on the opposite wall from where Castle sat, still sipping his scotch.
As they advanced into the bar, their features became more visible, thanks to the faux Tiffany coloured-glass chandeliers overhead. The stockier man, about ten years younger than the other, had a long scar running down the length of his cheek to the corner of his mouth, giving him an almost clownish appearance of a smile. Like a bad cartoon version of The Joker in a Batman movie. However, the seriousness of the rest of his features suggested nothing else clownish about him. In fact, Castle noted warily, he seemed more than a little scary.
The other man carried himself with an air of power and assurance, an image supported in part by his clearly expensive suit and close cropped hair, greying at the temples. There was something about him that told Castle, he too, was not to be messed with. And that he was the one in charge.
Returning to his his drink, Castle briefly noted conspicuous bulges under the left arm of both of the men.
But what truly caught Castle's ever-increasing attention was not the way the two men looked like they could handle themselves in a fight, or the contrast of the angry smiling scar, or the obvious tension that these two, clearly powerful, men brought with them. No, what completely intrigued mystery novelist Richard Castle was the tall, slender woman, hanging on the arm of the taller, older man. She was really interesting.
The choppy layers of her chin-length hair were starkly bleached, so blonde they were nearly white, and her dark eye make up was thick, almost caked on. In another setting, on another woman, he would have thought her trashy, but somehow this woman pulled it off.
In fact, he thought, she was all kinds of sexy. The short, tight, tank-dress she sported clung perfectly in all the right places. Her legs were easily a mile long, and her strong, shapely calves were accentuated by three inch strappy leather stilettos. She was actually stunning.
And then she spoke.
"Okay boys, who's buying me a drink?" Her raspy yet playful voice was laced with a thick Russian accent and Castle's breath caught in his throat. Who was this woman? Castle watched as her playfulness turned to pouting when the two men, already lost in tense whispered conversation, ignored her request.
"Fine," she said standing up again when it was clear they weren't going to answer her, "I'll get it myself, but Vlady, you're paying."
Vlady glanced quickly in her direction waving the woman away from the table, his lack of interest changing her pout to a scowl. She turned and huffed away, high heels clacking on the dark stained hardwood floor.
As she neared his place at the bar, Castle quickly hid his eyes, returning them to the caramel-coloured contents of his glass. After a brief moment, he chanced a quick look up at her to find that she had not even noticed him and was now leaning up against the bar a few stools away. She stood seductively, her elbows resting on the wooden counter, her upper arms pressing together to make her already prominent breasts that much more impressive.
The woman, still impatient from the lack of attention of her companions, furrowed her brow at the bartender who was busily restocking his beer fridge. "What does it take to get a drink in this place?" She asked in frustration.
Castle was entranced by the way her accent caused 'this' to be pronounced 'zis' and he was unable to hide his gaze when she glanced over at him. He smiled sheepishly, colour rising to his cheeks. Something in her features changed as she subtly returned his smile, like the hard edge she brought into the bar was just a shield, and this smile, this soft, shy, charming smile, was who she really was. Who was this woman?
Just as he was about to say something to her, though exactly what he wasn't sure, the bartender finished his work and turned to take her order. "Vodka," she stated simply, three fingers raised, her eyes still staring into Castle's.
The bartender poured a single shot, finally taking note of the exquisite woman standing before him, his chin dropping slightly in awe. Before he could fill the other two glasses he'd placed on the bar before her and return the vodka to its rightful place on the shelf, she placed a single hand over his, looked deep into his eyes and pulled the bottle to rest in front of her. "Leave it."
Gulping awkwardly, the bartender slowly removed his hand, his eyes glancing quickly down at her chest, entranced by her intense sex appeal. He stared at her, lust in his eyes, but any attempts he might have made to garner her favour went unreturned. In fact, as he continued to stare at her chest, she rolled her eyes in annoyance. She then turned to look again at Castle. He smiled, careful not to let his gaze drop too low, though he desperately wanted to look.
Finally, wanting to save the poor woman from further ogling from the bartender, he cleared his throat to get the young man's attention. And, without looking away from his mystery woman, Castle tapped the edge of his glass. The bartender, finally coming to his senses and interpreting the signal, topped him up.
As the scene continued, Castle's heart picked up its pace ever so slightly. The woman before him did not match, in any way, his typical conquests, but there was something so alluring about her that he couldn't imagine not trying to spend more time with her. The mystery she exuded had piqued his interest, demanding that he learn more about her.
Just then, she brought the glass to her sultry, smiling lips, and downed the shot like it was water. Castle watched as her chin tipped back, elongating her slender neck, and he wondered what it might be like to run his hands through her hair, to taste the harsh alcohol on her lips. He took another drink and tried to steady himself as images flashed dangerously through his mind.
He barely noticed when the front door of the bar opened again and another Russian entered the room. Castle's attention was completely captured by the woman who had turned back to her glass to pour a second shot. She lifted it to her lips, turned slightly his way and winked, before downing it with ease. Then she retrieved the shot glasses and the bottle from the bar and walked back to her companions.
Rick turned and watched sadly as she walked away, though pleased all the same to have the opportunity to take her in from an entirely new angle. Seriously, who was this woman?
The third man walked up to the table and sat down, interrupting Castle's line of sight, so he returned it to his glass. His mind filled with questions that needed answers. The storyteller in him was bubbling with details, making up the fiction to fill in around the very few facts he knew. He pulled out a Moleskin notepad and his favourite pen and started jotting down ideas.
A few moments later, Castle was broken from his work by the sound of glass smashing to the floor, followed by a sonorous, thick Russian accent. "What is this shit? Why do you bring us this vile cheap vodka? Katya, have you been gone from the motherland so long that you have forgotten what real vodka tastes like? Take this shit away!" He pushed the bottle hard towards the woman as she glared angrily at him.
"Fuck you Vlady, what would you know? You're so drunk already you can't even taste it!" She shoved the bottle back towards the older Russian and crossed her arms across her chest. Before she could react, he reached over the table and backhanded her hard across the face.
Without thinking, Castle jumped up from his stool and raced across to their table, "Hey! Buddy, settle down. There's no need for that!"
The man looked up at Castle, surprised by his interference. "Why don't you go back to your seat. This matter doesn't concern you."
The woman stood, placing her hands on Castle's chest, only to remove them just as quickly from the spark they both felt at her touch. "Please, go back to your seat, I'm fine. It's just his way." She spoke quietly, the intensity in her eyes pleading for him to heed her words, her hand hovering tentatively above his chest.
Castle almost melted into the deep pools of her eyes. At once he saw fear, pain, and concern, mixed with just a slight touch of determination. It made him shiver as much as the feeling of her fingers when they lightly grazed his chest. He softly touched her cheek as it reddened from the force of the older man's strike. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Perhaps you should remove your hand from my girl and return to your seat before I make you." Castle glanced over to the harsh eyes of his opponent. He noted the position of the man's right hand creeping slowly toward the bulge in his jacket. He swallowed thickly. Castle wasn't looking for a fight, especially outmatched as he was, but he was consumed by wanting to do the right thing for this enigmatic woman who stood before him.
"Please," she begged, "please just go back to your seat. I'm fine." She brought her hands again to his chest and pushed him lightly, guiding him away from their table. With her back turned to her companions, Castle saw her look change, returning once again to the playful smile from earlier, accompanied by a reassuring wink. His brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of the look but somehow he knew he should just listen to her. Castle backed away slowly and returned to his seat, his eyes never straying from the Russians.
Returning to his drink, the bartender quietly whispered a warning, "Be careful sir. You don't want to mess with them." The knowing look on his face told Castle that he spoke from experience. Castle nodded in response but kept them in his sights out of the corner of his eye.
Katya returned to the table and sat down next to Vlady, who caught Castle's eye and threw an arm around her possessively. He was throwing down a further challenge, knowing that Castle would back down. This guy was all about exerting his power, wherever he could, and right now he knew he had the upper hand.
Castle finally looked away, returning his gaze to the contents of his glass. He wasn't so sure he really wanted to stay there any longer, really no sense getting his ass handed to him over a girl, especially one that he likely had no chance with anyways. But at the same time, he just couldn't bring himself to walk away. He downed the remaining scotch in his glass and motioned to the bartender for another. It was five o'clock somewhere.
Suddenly, all the chairs pushed back from the table abruptly. "That wasn't the deal Vlad. Don't try to fuck me over now." Vlad was standing across the table from the newcomer, his hand poised near the gun at his side.
"Look Alexi, the terms have changed. This is the deal now. You want the shipment, you pay for it." Vlad responded sharply.
Castle perched nervously on his stool, wondering if he had made the right choice to stay. He looked briefly over to Katya to make sure she wasn't in the middle of the argument. He found her standing slightly to the side of the men, her posture suggesting she was ready for a fight.
"Are you fucking crazy? You know I need the shipment. Vlad we're friends, why are you doing this?" Alexi appeared to be nearing instability as he pleaded with his friend.
"Alexi, don't make this any harder than it needs to be. You try to fuck my girl, so now this is how it is." Alexi looked nervously over at Katya.
"But Vlad, she turned me down. You know that. Nothing happened."
"Of course she turned you down, you zasranec. She is with me and she is loyal. Who do you think told me what you did?"
At the mention of Katya's betrayal, Alexi sat down dejectedly, beaten. He needed the shipment. "Okay Vlad, you win." Alexi lifted a shiny silver briefcase from under his chair and placed it on the table.
As Alexi opened it, Castle managed to catch a glimpse of the high tech equipment inside. A screen slid up from the bottom of the case and came to rest on a thin black keyboard. With a few keystrokes, the screen came to life and numbers flashed bright green against the black background.
A few more keystrokes and Alexi sat back in disgust. "There. It's done. The money is in your account. Now tell me where my shipment is."
Vlad reached over and turned the screen to face him, verifying the information. He whispered inaudibly to the short man with the scar, who then handed him a piece of paper. Vlad peered at the slip then passed it over to Alexi.
"Your shipment. Now be a good devushka and fuck off."
Just then, the door to the bar burst open and two plainclothes police officers poured through. "NYPD! NYPD! Put your hands where we can see them. All of you, hands up!"
Alexi stood abruptly at the invasion, knocking his chair over behind him. Vlad, Katya and 'The Scar' all stood in a panic, looking at the quickly approaching men moved away from the table into the middle of the room, Katya trailed behind.
Castle remained fixed to his stool, his hands awkwardly raised over his head, watching the scene unfold. What the fuck was going on? Who were these guys?
Castle watched as the two cops, a well-built Latino and a wiry Irishman, moved further into the bar, their guns sweeping across the room, keeping everyone in check. "Let's go assholes, down on the ground, down on the ground!"
'The Scar' and Alexi both complied, recognizing the weak position they were in at having been caught off guard. But Vlad seemed much more hesitant to follow orders. He was all about power and control and Castle could sense that he wasn't about to just back down because of a couple of NYPD detectives.
Slowly, Vlad moved so that he was standing behind Alexi. He was hoping to shield himself behind his business associate, to hide the fact that he was slowly reaching for his gun. Castle could see it happening but he didn't know what to do it about it. Before he could say a word, Vlad grabbed his gun and raised it towards the cops.
The next thing Castle knew, Vlad was being thrown up against the bar, right in front of him. His face mashed into the countertop with extreme force, probably breaking his cheekbone. Castle jumped back in surprise, and looked over to find Katya pointing a gun at the back of Vlad's head, his arm twisting around behind him as his gun clattered to the floor.
"NYPD, asshole. Don't fucking move. You're under arrest."
Castle did a double-take as he realized that Katya had suddenly lost her Russian accent. She looked back at him smiling, struggling just a little with Vlad who was unsuccessfully trying to fight her off.
"You fucking bitch! I trusted you! How could you do this?" Vlad screamed at her, face still mashed up against the bar, just a hint of blood trickling from his nose.
"Shut up Vlady. You have the right to remain silent and I suggest you use it." She calmly said back to him. She produced a pair of handcuffs, though Castle could not even fathom a guess as to where she had hidden those, and locked them around Vlad's wrists.
Looking around the room now, Castle saw that the other two perps had been similarly bound by the other detectives. "Hey Beckett, you okay over there?" the Latino cop asked.
"Yeah, Espo, I'm good. Ryan? Can you get this jackass out of my sight? And make sure you add assaulting an officer to the charges."
"Sure thing Beckett." The Irish cop grabbed Vlad roughly and shoved him out of the bar with the other two men. Castle noted now a few other uniformed officers entering the building to help secure the scene.
Looking back at Castle, Beckett smiled and held out her hand. "Mr. Castle, I'm Detective Kate Beckett, NYPD. I'm sorry for the trouble. Are you okay?"
Castle was still stammering from the surprise of the bust he had just witnessed. "I...um...yes, I'm fine. Um...are you okay?"
She laughed lightly at the gallantry he was still displaying toward her. "Yes, I'm good. I'm sorry I couldn't warn you about what was happening. Didn't want to tip those guys off that I'm a cop. I hope it wasn't all too much of a shock."
"What? No, I'm fine." Castle tried to sound more confident than he really felt in that moment. It was like he was living a scene out of one of his books, only, he usually wrote the cops as men, saving the damsels in distress. But this...this was much more interesting. "Can you tell me what happened?"
"Sorry, it's still an open investigation. I can't talk about it."
"Oh, right. Of course." And then, he found his confidence, remembered his playboy charm. "Well, maybe when the case is closed...over dinner?" He flashed her one of his media smiles.
"Dinner? Mr. Castle are you asking me out?" Beckett asked him, incredulous at how quickly he had recovered from the shock of the takedown.
"Well, call it...research."
"Oh, so now you're going to write a book about this?" Beckett replied playfully.
"Well...most people would be honoured to have someone write a book about them. I mean, you are a fan after all."
"Oh really? What makes you think I'm a fan?" she asked curiously.
"I never introduced myself, but you knew who I was. Ever been to a signing?" Despite the racing of his heart from all the excitement, Castle felt so comfortable teasing this incredible woman, like they'd known each other forever. It was so natural.
"What? No!" But Beckett felt the hot pink rising to her cheeks.
"Uh-huh. Sure. I totally believe you."
Kate gasped out in frustration, though she had to admit, this guy was even more charming in person than he seemed in the interviews she'd seen.
"So, Detective Beckett, what do you say? Dinner?"
"She'd be happy to." Ryan stepped up to them and looked unassumingly at Beckett.
"What? We need his statement, and you need to eat." Ryan shrugged his shoulders and walked away without another word, but Castle caught the smile on his face as he turned and couldn't help but smile too.
"Great. So then, I'll pick you up. Seven okay? Just need your address."
"Wh...no. I'll be back at the 12th Precinct."
"Okay, fine. I'll pick you up at the twelfth."
"Come on Beckett, it's not espionage, it's just a burger." Castle smiled charmingly.
"So, seven o'clock?"
"Okay. Sure. I guess? Seven." Kate winced slightly unsure of what she was getting herself into. But Castle knew she'd say yes. The ladies just could not resist his smile.
Beckett turned to leave the bar as Castle stood and threw some money on the counter. Before she got to the door, she paused and walked back to him.
"Yeah?" he asked surprised she was still there.
"Thanks for trying to protect me back there."
Translations were taken from Google, so I hope they're right...my sincerest apologies if they're not. But this is what I meant the words to mean :)
zasranec - asshole
devushka - girl