Author's Notes: For yuletide 2010, gifted to veils, who prompted with her favourite fanfic cliches (fancy events requiring formal wear, jealousy, hate sex) which also happen to be some of my favourites, so I indulged the both of us and wrote this. It's not the sort of thing I see as having a place in canon, but oh how I love it when a character knows they're making a terrible decision but does it anyway. Sigh. Something about that and the painful tragedy of the human condition.
Castle is staring. Well, he's trying to be subtle about it, but no, he's definitely staring. He can't help himself. She' s wearing a simple midnight blue dress that has very little back to it, and it's made of something shiny and soft-looking and he's dying, dying, to touch the skin it reveals. Instead he's stuck doing press with Gina, downside to dating your publisher, and she's definitely in the mood for more professional antics than what he has in mind. Which isn't his fault, mind, Kate Beckett is wearing half a dress, and it's, he swallows, inspiring.
Of course the image is ruined by the surgeon hanging off her arm and every word, but that's ok, he's dreamt a few ways to get rid of an unwanted lover in his time. She's laughing, laughing at a doctor (straight arrow, boring), and he will never get used to the sound of other men making her laugh. He clenches the stem of his champagne flute a little too violently.
Gina nudges him, trying to pull his focus, make him work, but she has little success. She rolls her eyes at him and waves him in the direction of the bar, "Well at least make yourself useful and get me a drink."
He switches to hard liquor while she makes nice with the right people and sulks.
Lanie is talking to her and has been for some time, apparently. Her friend snaps her fingers in front of her face. "You seem distracted," the M.E. drawls, following her gaze across the room and fixing her with a knowing look. "I thought things were getting serious with the good doctor over there."
"He thinks they are," she mutters into her drink.
"And you're eyefucking writer-boy over there like the world's about to end." Lanie's been taking full advantage of the open bar.
"I am not." It's probably a little too fast, a little too indignant and not at all convincing.
Lanie laughs at her. "You are so. It's ok. I won't tell. It can be our worst-kept secret."
"Lanie," she sighs, quickly running out of patience.
"Fine," Lanie nudges her shoulder, "Deny, deny, deny. "
"It's not denial," Josh is taking an abnormally long time at the bar. She needs to be rescued from this conversation. Lanie can be supportive, when she's sober, but she's a romantic drunk. "It's ... we have our thing, and that's work."
"Mmmhmm," Lanie hums. "I'm not even going to begin to pretend to understand the two of you. It's like some strange marital arrangement from 18th century France." Lanie pats her arm, "Whatever works for you honey."
Kate is rearranging the bracelet on her arm and hoping her silence will discourage her friend from pursuing this line of enquiry. She also doesn't want to know exactly what Lanie thinks their arrangement entails. And she certainly doesn't want to think about her, Castle and marriage being thrown around in the same sentence.
"He's looking at you too you know," Lanie apparently doesn't take the not-too-subtle hint.
"Well he shouldn't be," she plucks Lanie's drink out of her hand and claims it as her own, downing the contents neatly. "He's here with Gina."
"Try to scowl less, it'll make it sound more believable when you tell me you're not jealous."
Mercifully, Josh returns with their drinks. She hands Lanie the empty cocktail glass, hastily. Two drinks in quick succession and the liquor is going to her head. She tries to keep up with the polite conversation Lanie's making with her boyfriend, but she's busy counting the seconds until they can make a polite exit.
Gina puts her hand on Castle's arm across the room and she bites the inside of her cheek.
Not that it's jealousy -- there's nothing between her and Castle, nothing at all, except maybe 60 seconds of the misguided notion on her part that there could have been, before the summer -- it's just that, well, it is what it is. The fall/winter '10 version of herself likes to pretend that she doesn't like to overanalyse.
Just when he thinks his night can't get any worse Gina latches onto the idea of getting a photo of him and Beckett in the newspapers, an idea he's sure Beckett will never, ever go for, even at gunpoint. But Castle does have a type, of sorts, and that's determined women. Gina's not going to let it go and he doesn't fancy the special brand of psychological torture she uses when she's annoyed at him. (She should sell it to the military, he thinks, it'd clear the whole situation in the Middle East right up.)
"Ask her," she insists.
"She won't say yes," he states, with a kind of certainty.
"Well fine, I'll ask her." Gina makes a move to cross the room, but there's something that tells him that particular interaction is going to cause him grief. He stops her with a hand on her arm, "No, I'll do it."
Gina raises an eyebrow, and he thinks maybe she's on the verge of that question he knows is coming ("what's going on between you and Beckett?") but she just shrugs, and says, primly, "Ok, but if you can't convince her, I'm sure I can."
He'll take that bet. But he puts down his drink and makes his way across the room regardless. There's really no point arguing with Gina when she gets like this -- something she has in common with a particular homicide detective.
"Beckett," he puts a hand on the elbow unattached to Josh. "Can I borrow you for a second?"
She gives him a dirty look, clearly displeased that he's man-handling her. Normally he wouldn't have the gall to try it, but he's four drinks down and feeling brave.
"Gina had a terrible idea," he tells her and it's interesting, watching the way her face changes when he says that, like she has no idea what to expect but she's entirely sure she'll hate it. "She wants... a press photo, of the two of us."
"Castle," she sighs out,
"What? So I can have the entire precinct cat-calling and teasing me about Nikki Heat when we get to work on Monday?"
"I'll cut you in for two percent of the profits," he offers, "For your services."
It sounds a lot more offensive than he intends. She raises an eyebrow. "Try harder."
"Fine, I'll get Paula to promise they won't run it after we do it, just please, don't make me talk Gina down. It never goes well."
She takes a perverse pleasure in that knowledge. "Ok fine. In exchange, I get to tell Ryan and Esposito know how whipped you are."
Oh, she has no idea.
"I really did try and talk her out of it," he nudges at her shoulder.
"I'll bet you did," she scowls.
"Hey, you have to at least try to look pleased, for the picture," he puts his arm around her and she flinches.
"Relax, I promise I'll be a gentleman." His hand is on her elbow and his fingers are moving and that's sending all kinds of shivers up her arm.
She turns to look at him, halfway between annoyed and aroused. The latter doesn't show on her face though. so all he sees is her irritation. "Why am I finding that hard to believe?"
"I don't know Detective Beckett, have I ever been anything but in the length of our acquaintance?"
Her lips twitch. He stills his fingers on her arm, beams at her, and nods towards the photographs.
"Smile," he tells her.
She does, begrudgingly.
It kind of goes downhill from there. The fact that the ribbing from the photographers sets her on edge. (One of them calls out for him to kiss her and she gives him a look that could melt the polar ice caps. "Try me," she says and he pauses, mouth half open in reply, thinking he would very much like to take her up on that offer.) And Castle's never been one to leave well enough alone, so despite the fact that he can sense her irritation in the way her smile is too tight and her weight is leaning on one shoe, he pushes.
"How's that doctor of yours?"
"Fine," she says, testily. This is not something they talk about.
"Trouble in paradise?" he sing-songs. She's going to slug him.
Instead she smiles, sweet. "No, and I can say no to him, unlike you and your," she tries to think of suitable way to describe Gina, fails and settles on, "Publisher." (Like that's a dirty word.)
He shrugs, "I don't like to say no."
"So I've heard," she's looking for an opportunity to escape, but he's not giving her an easy out.
He changes tact, "You look beautiful, by the way."
She grimaces at the compliment. "Thank you."
"But you've been avoiding me," he puts his hand on her back to guide her through the crowd and she whirls to face him, glaring. "Castle. Stop."
"Stop what?" he's bewildered.
She really doesn't have a good answer. She's just on edge, always is when work and play collide. She feels like she can't really be herself, can't just enjoy his company like she usually does, because they're in a room full of people and their significant others and she feels like everyone is watching them.
"Nothing," she chokes out, walks away into the one place he's pretty sure he won't follow. (Stupid, she should have known better.)
He follows her.
"Castle," she hisses, "This is the ladies room. Just ... let it go. Please."
"I can't," he tries to spin her around to face him, but she struggles against his hand on her shoulder. She shudders, once, one single, silent sob. He moves around her, fingers wrapping around her biceps. "I won't. Hey, why are you crying?"
She blinks furiously, "I'm not. Let go of me."
Her hand makes solid contact with his chest.
"Don't," he moves his hand to where hers rests against his dress shirt.
It's hard to tell who kisses who. Her hand makes a fist and curls into his shirt, dragging his mouth to hers but he was going willingly.
"Kate," he manages to convey so much with that one syllable. She bites her lip.
"Lock the door," she says, like they're playing poker and she doesn't want to tip her hand. He complies, because he's sure as hell not willing to call her bluff, not now, not as she slides her underwear over her heels.
(He's died and gone to heaven. This is definitely heaven's version of Beckett, standing there with her hair falling out around her bare shoulders holding something sheer and satiny in her left palm.)
He stares at her, unsure if it's an invitation or a cruel joke. It wouldn't be the first time she's teased. Hell, he decides, all in, and he wraps his hands around her elbows, kissing her again. She doesn't push away, doesn't say anything, but she does make a pleasant little groan against his mouth, which he decides is a good sign. He drops his mouth to her shoulder, moving his hands until they rest against the sides of her dress. It's slippery beneath his fingers. Her skin is salty, and it makes a nice contrast to the bitterness of the gin. And her mouth is hot, even though his tongue is cold, and she's letting him kiss her, will small wonders ever cease?
"What..." he tries to ask, but she shakes her head.
"Don't," she warns, lifting herself by her hands so she's sitting on the counter and reaching out to pull him in closer by his shirt.
"Maybe we should..."
She bites down on his lip and suddenly, all his reservations seem a lot less important than slipping his hands into the front of that dress. He blames it on a lack of blood to the brain and her gasp of surprise when he thumbs her nipple.
"You want Nikki Heat?" she scowls against his ear, fingernails digging into his forearms, "Fine."
"Are you kidding me?" he pulls back to stare at her, "I want you. I have always wanted you, Kate Beckett, tell me you know that."
"Shut up," she says, low and even and threatening.
"Not until you listen to me," he raises his voice.
Her heels dig into his spine.
"You're the most ... breath-taking woman I've ever met. You floor me, on every level. You're my partner and my friend and you inspire me and I don't want the version of you I made up so I could share you with the world. I want you."
She slaps him, hard. It stings against his cheek but she's kissing him before he really has a chance to feel it. "You have no right to say that to me," she whispers against his mouth, "To ask that of me."
"Yeah," he whispers back, defiant, "But I did. Your move Detective."
She busies her hands with his belt.
Gina politely informs him that Paula has worked her magic with the press, so he shouldn't expect the story on Page Six, but that he also shouldn't expect her in more than a professional capacity after the party is over.
"I can handle a lot of things Rick," she tells him, levelly, "Your refusal to acknowledge deadlines, your childish toys, the fact that you spend more time pretending to solve crimes than you do working or with me. There's one thing I won't tolerate, and that's having to hear from your publicist that you're screwing your muse in the bathroom."
When she puts it like that, she makes it sound incredibly cheap.
He nurses a scotch until Alexis plucks it from his hands and declares that it's time to go home.
(The marks on her neck are hard to ignore, but Josh does. It makes her feel nervous.)
She nearly ignores it. Try what Castle? It was a mistake.
No it wasn't. He texts back immediately. We could be great.
We already are. She taps it out, but doesn't send it.