A phone rings once, twice, thrice, before it is answered. The line crackles slightly with the long distance that even the information age hasn't been entirely able to rid trans-Atlantic communication of.
"Metropolitan Police Service, DI Lestrade speaking."
"Detective Inspector Lestrade, this is Detective Kate Beckett with the Homicide Unit of the New York Police Department's Twelfth Precinct. Badge number four-one-three-one-nine. I'm sorry to bother you, but your name has come up in connection with one of our active cases, and I was wondering if I could have a moment of your time to sort out some... points of interest."
"Always happy to help a fellow cop, Detective Beckett. What do you need?"
"Well, we found this man interfering with one of our crime scenes and when we arrested him, he gave us a wallet with your identification in it. He identifies himself as a... Sherlock Holmes?"
There has never been a more meaningful pause in the history of pauses than the one that currently holds up that phone line. It is followed by the weariest sigh in the history of breathing.
"Detective Inspector Lestrade?"
"Call me Greg. Right, cards on the table time. Yes, he's bloody weird and he's a pain in the arse, but he's not a serial killer."
"How did you...?"
"Trust me, you wouldn't be the first person, and you're not gonna be the last. Just on the off-chance, though; tall, dark-haired, wearing a long black coat, face you just want to punch. Sort of comes off like a stick insect version of Hannibal Lector?"
"Ummm... something like that, yes."
"And you found him poking around a murder scene, right? And if I don't miss my guess, right now he's busy deconstructing the hidden personality flaws of you and your fellow officers."
"I am gonna kill that son-of-a-bitch!" yells a voice across the bullpen. Beckett watches as one of her team tries to guide the other, rather angrier member down the corridor to the elevator to calm him down.
"Take it easy, bro..."
"'When I find out who told him that stuff..."
"You mean that stuff about your ex-girlfriends and the teddy bear collection?"
"... Ryan, I swear to God..."
"Just sayin', bro."
Detective Kate Beckett bites her lip as the two disappear into the elevator, Detective Esposito still ranting furiously.
"He, um, might have brought up some things, yes."
"Yeah, that's him alright. I thought he'd been a quiet lately. Didn't think he'd give America a try."
"Okay, then -- am I to assume that Mr. Holmes has some connection with the Metropolitan Police?"
This pause might be even more meaningful than the last one.
"Officially, I am required to say 'no'."
"Off the record? One cop to another?"
"He comes in handy. We use him from time to time."
"Sorry, 'use' him?"
"His services have led to the satisfactory conclusion to numerous troubling matters which have come before Her Majesty's Metropolitan Police Service."
"So he's a consultant?"
"That would be one way of putting it, yes. Another, slightly more accurate way of putting it would be that he's a annoying anti-social know-it-all who is, unfortunately, fantastic at solving mysteries. You ever had to call on someone who you know's just going to drive you up the wall, but you just find yourself having to call on him anyway?"
"... You'd be surprised, actually."
"Hmmm. Just another stab in the dark, I'm guessing the case you found him poking his nose in is a bit... unusual? Off-the-beaten path?"
"It... has certain irregularities, yes."
"Yeah. He likes the ones with 'irregularities'. Bit of advice then, Detective Beckett. Not my place, I know, and I don't want to tell you lot how to go about your job. But if he has something to say, listen to him. When I say he's fantastic, I mean *fantastic*. He sees things. Things other people don't see. I've been doing this job for over twenty years, and if I had one *tenth* of his observational acuity..."
"Greg. Please. You've just crossed paths with Sherlock Holmes, trust me, you've earned it."
"I don't know what your stance on consultants is over there, but if you're anything like us, you probably get a lot of weirdos trying to nose around. Most of the time, tell them to sod off, no harm done. But trust me; listen to him. It might sound weird, or impossible, or utterly impossible to believe. Or like he's just made it up that second. But listen anyway. He's legit. He just also happens to be an insufferable pain-in-the-arse about it. Do you get what I'm saying?"
"Actually Detect -- Greg, I know exactly what you're talking about there."
A tall, expensively-suited man scurries up to Detective Beckett's desk with a look on his face like a five-year-old who's just been given a dinosaur for Christmas. A real one.
"Beckett! This guy is awesome! He knew about my mother! And my daughter! Which, admittedly, is a little creepy and weird, but he's so cool!"
"Castle," sighs Beckett, "On the phone."
"He knew I was a writer!"
"Castle, you're splashed across the gossip pages every other week. Your face is on every single book. Everyone knows you're a writer."
"... Still cool, though. Can we keep him?" Castle asks eagerly.
"No," says Detective Beckett, emphatically.
"Yes," says DI Lestrade, just as emphatically, at exactly the same time.
This pause is a bit more awkward than the previous ones.
"Castle. Sit down and hush."
Richard Castle sits down, slightly sulkily.
"Sorry, who was that?"
"Oh, just... our pain-in-the-ass consultant, as it happens."
"I said 'hush'."
"You have one as well, then? Does he just sort of linger about waiting for you to call him, and then spend all this time coming up with theories you'd say were stupid, except he's right too many times? And then he acts all smug about it?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Except ours also happens to be a mystery writer."
"You poor, poor bastards. Anything I'd have read?"
"Probably, but I'm not telling you. He's sitting right here and his ego's big enough already... Castle! Put the elephant down."
"Was just lookin'." Castle mumbles as he returns the miniature elephant to it's rightful place on Beckett's desk.
"Well, look with your eyes."
"Just talking to my consultant. He... likes to play with things."
"So does Holmes. Oh, God, don't get him started on his experiments. Found a human brain in his fridge one day."
"... Sorry, you say this Holmes guy isn't a serial killer?"
"... I'm reasonably certain he isn't a serial killer. In any case, I've busted him so many times I'm sure I'd have found something by now."
"You bust him?" Beckett can't help but grin.
Lestrade laughs the laugh of someone with many fond memories of revenge. "Random drugs searches. Loads of fun. It even shuts him up for half a minute."
"Hmm. Maybe I should try that with mine. I'm sure I could find some probable cause to hey, what the hell?!"
The phone receiver is suddenly snatched from her by a tall, serious-looking man in a black suit who has just appeared from nowhere (having supposed to be under secure observation in the interrogation room; Beckett will be having words with someone about this), who ignores her protestations and barks into the telephone. "Lestrade."
Another long-distance sigh. "Hello, Sherlock."
"These Americans won't believe how brilliant I am."
"Yes, I gathered, Sherlock. I'm sure you used the full force of your charm and tact in telling them that as well."
"Their methods are atrocious. Worse than yours."
"Thank you. I'll certainly be drinking to those praises tonight."
"I need some better ones. These two are clearly sleeping together and are obviously distracted."
"I am so basing a character on this guy!" Castle squeals happily. The glare he receives from Beckett could melt lead.
"They're keeping it secret, but frankly the pretense is feeble. You can practically smell the hormones. It's rather pathetic, really. Any way, can you get me some different ones? I can't work with these two."
"Sherlock, I... sleeping together or not, I am not responsible for how the New York Police Department chooses to assign it's officers. It's not even my country, let alone my division. Now put the nice lady back on the phone and let me sort this out before you get charged with something. Last thing I want's your bloody brother getting involved."
Sherlock Holmes shoves the receiver back at Beckett, who accepts it back with a certain lack of goodwill. He begins to wander the bullpen, looking around as if everything around him is so dreadfully tedious, before slumping moodily into Detective Kevin Ryan's deskchair. It's not his, but he frankly doesn't look like he cares very much. Castle watches him eagerly, as if he might pull a rabbit out of a hat any minute.
"Right, sorry about that. As you can see, he gets a little... carried away."
"Are you absolutely sure I can't arrest him for anything?"
"You could arrest him for anything you like, really. I'm just not sure it'll stick. He has... connections. And they have connections."
"Yes, I know."
"And just for the record, I'd like to make it entirely clear that I am not sleeping with my consultant."
Across the room, Holmes snorts loudly. Castle looks disappointed. Beckett clearly can't decide who to shoot a laser-eyed death glare at first, and so settles for both of them.
"Not my place, Detective Beckett. But about Sherlock. I know it's hard, but listen to what he has to say. God help me, but I'll vouch for him."
"Got it. Thank you."
"Also, count backwards from twenty. That'll help with the urge to knock his teeth in. Works for me, anyway."
"I usually have to go to thirty." Beckett remarks absently, before she realizes what she's said.
"... Wow, yours must be really annoying."
"Greg, you have no idea."
"So, is that it, or is there anything else, Detective Beckett?"
Beckett looks over for a moment. Holmes finally appears to have gotten sick of Castle's eagle-eyed observation of him.
"Do it again," Castle begs.
"Do what again?"
"That observation thing. What else can you tell about me?"
"Other than the fact that you're incredibly annoying?"
Castle waves a hand. "You just gotta get to know me."
"I assure you, I do not."
"Detective Beckett?" Lestrade asks again.
"Please, Greg. Call me Kate."