She is given a brief respite from the stupidity when she is called away, phone chirping in her pocket. It's nothing important, a confirmation for dinner plans with a friend, but she uses it to escape. She just can't face the absence of lingering looks any longer, she shakes her head and sighs.
It's getting beyond a joke, this miscommunication, these interruptions and distractions. She growls, thrusting a hand through her hair as she strides away. Feet moving fast so she can distance herself.
She has to get away from it for a few minutes, just to collect herself, before her anger spills out. Focusing hard because she doesn't want to do something drastic and embarrass herself, or anyone else.
She can see the truth of it, obviously, that the blonde is nothing more than a distraction. It doesn't make it any less annoying, painful even, but she can see it.
And the soul searching, oh god, there has been more than enough questioning of self and motives and timing to last a lifetime.
Waiting for the perfect moment is moronic, not to mention impossible. Nothing and no-one is perfect, of all people they should know this. She stomps with more force, like a petulant toddler. Who wants perfect anyway?
What you need is real. Real and true and lasting and…something more than the stalled nothingness that exists at the moment.
Puffing a breath through her lips doesn't help, counting to ten does nothing, but slamming her heeled feet against the sidewalk takes away a bit of the frustration, even if she does feel ridiculous doing it.
What she needs, what they both need, is to start living . To just give in and get on with it.
"Smooch," she mutters under her breath as she circles her vehicle, "kiss him, just kiss," she throws the door wide with a satisfying crash, and starts to root through her bag "arghh have sex already."
"Lanie?" Kate hisses softly, her head appearing from behind the large door of the M.E van, "Did you just say something about having sex?"
Lanie shakes her head, smiling innocently "Nope, why would I mention sex?"
She tilts her head watching her friends face. The animation of scrunched eyebrows and pursed lips. Lanie stares, focused, willing her friends eyes to do it, to dart to him over there with the bleached blonde bi...distraction. Her gaze narrowing, she can't help it, Lanie just needs this one, teeny tiny, ray of hope amidst all the...crap.
Kates eyes flick briefly sideways, she means it to be fast, hardly noticeable, but it lingers. Her eyes take him in and hold, forced to watch as he waves to the woman leaving in the Ferrari she herself has driven.
She takes in the shadows under his eyes, the smile that washes over him, too false too sharp. Like his words, no longer coated in sugar and love, in air and fun. They fall flat, bitter and hurtful.
Kate bites her tongue as she watches him, arms, that she longs to be wrapped in, raised in farewell to another woman. She tugs her lip between her teeth, inhaling sharply when he realises she's watching him.
Their gaze holds, and she thinks, hopes even, that he is about smile because his lips move and his eyes crinkle. God how she has missed that smile. Kate craves the tenderness that used to emanate from him.
But it passes.
Kate drops her eyes fast, ignoring the heat that rises in her face. It doesn't matter how he watches her, what festers behind the looks he gives her now.
It still feels like he's staring straight into her heart, her soul even, as cliché as that may sound. Everything feels as though it's laid bare before the forceful penetration of his broken eyes.
Like he is privy to every deep dark secret she has ever kept buried inside.
Kate can still feel him, she knows he is still staring and the flames licking their way through her veins rise higher. Circling her chest, it squeezes tight at her heart before scalding her cheeks.
She can ignore it all she likes, but Lanie sees it, oh yes she does. Lanie chuckles softly her hand sliding over her mouth when Kate finally looks up at her in suspicious confusion.
"What?" Kate asks, reaching over the bag between them, holding out her hand for a set of gloves. She steps back as Lanie slaps the latex into her hand a little too forcefully.
"Nothing, Beckett." Lanie smiles again as she lifts the bag over her shoulder, turning on the spot. She strides off with a smile, away from her friend but speaking over her shoulder as she goes "Not a damn thing."
Lanie waits until she's out of sight, barely dipping under the police tape as she makes her way back to the body. When the door closes behind her she scans the room before fishing through her pockets, seeking out her phone, muttering under her breath.
The message she sends is simple, five words sent to all those that love them most, that care about their futures and those that have damn well had
*THE DUMB-ASSES NEED AN INTERVENTION!*
The call goes out, far and wide...
*THE DUMB-ASSES NEED AN INTERVENTION!*
It doesn't take long for the first responses to come in, which shows her just how much the people around them are emotionally invested in the outcome.
In fact the very first reply takes Lanie by surprise when it arrives with a merry chirp less than a minute after she'd sent it. And from barely five feet away.
Of course she observed the moment the message went through. The loud tonal beep causing everyone in the room to stare and the cheeks of the recipient to flush pleasantly pink.
Lanie smiles and is actually pretty impressed with the subtle reactions. Both Castle and Beckett are only inches away but there is barely a flinch from the girl as she turns her back on the pair.
Alexis doesn't laugh or groan, or, as Lanie feared she might, storm from the room. Instead her fingers fly across the screen rapidly before she pockets the phone and turns back around, facing them all.
Lifting her head and tilting it in appraisal of the young girl, Lanie finds the trade mark Castley blue eyes suddenly staring back at her. The resignation burning behind the smile she's greeted with. With a sharp flash of her eyes in the direction of her father and his disgruntled partner.
Kate drops down, crouching by the door, her hand almost skimming Castles knee in her search for balance as she tilts too far sideways. She catches and rights herself, but its too late, he saw the movement.
Their eyes meet and the tension seems to flood the room. Only it's not the good kind of tension, the rip your clothes off kind. It's more the, we should talk but that would make this simple and we're both too stubborn and too stupid for simple, kind of tension that pisses Lanie off.
She turns from the pair before she gives in and slaps one of them with her latex glove. Twisting and reaching for her phone as she feels it vibrate in her pocket.
Though Alexis hid her reactions well, Lanie is not as subtle when the response *tell me about it!* comes flying back to her at lightning speed.
She stutters a laugh, a loud giveaway of a laugh, quickly turning it into a cough when the subjects of her little scheme both turn to stare at her.
"You ok Lanie?" Castle queries, his brow furrowing with concern. He is standing next to Kate as she rises from the floor and his hand falls to hover over the small of her back, unconsciously protective as he speaks.
Kate moves around him, her hand almost skimming his arm as she does.
Lanie rolls her eyes as they repel each other like magnets, drawn in and pushed away, never quite touching.
"Dr. Parish?" The concern in her friends voice, the soft tilt of her head, almost break Lanie and she has to swallow thickly, biting at her cheek to stop the laughter bubbling out.
It shouldn't be this hard to keep a straight face, with the dead body on the floor and the confused faces of her friends staring back at her. It doesn't help that the teen is now standing behind them with her hands folded across her chest and a look on her face that clearly says 'I'm judging you.'
"Swallowed a bug." Lanie finally mutters turning around and pretending not to hear Castle murmur a disgusted 'eww' under his breath.
Little Castle? Who would have thought?
All that frosty determination and focused, narrow minded, dislike, and it's Alexis who answers first. Maybe she should have given the girl a little more credit for protecting her father, maybe she should have...ah hell she doesn't even care. The girl's in, that's all that matters.
Lanie holds the girls gaze when their eyes meet the next time and a brief nod is exchanged. It's quite covert and kind of a shame that the one person who would most get a kick out of all the secret messaging that's going on is one of only two people they can never tell.
She would feel guilty, except they so totally deserve everything that's coming to them.
The next message she gets about ten minutes later when she has relocated away from prying eyes. Clearly there has been a little conferring going on because this time when her phone beeps Alexis looks up expectantly.
The grin she gives the older woman is telling, it betrays her eagerness to see her father happy, to do the right thing, or the secret sneaking around thing. The lightness behind the smile, the familiar looking crinkle to her eyes all seem to prove to Lanie this was the right decision.
And she doesn't care if it's not she's had enough.
They need a little push, hell a great freaking shove up the backside. Some flood lights shined on the obvious love between them, and at this point she is not beyond stealing Javi's handcuffs and locking them up together somewhere.
The last handcuff incident seemed to bring them closer together, maybe another one would do the trick. Yeah, that's definitely Plan B.
Sitting side by side in the M.E's van as she reads the message from Martha, Lanie chuckles softly before handing the phone to the girl beside her.
“lets get this show on the road!*
The third response comes at the worst possible moment because both Castle and Kate are doing that new thing they do of completely missing each other cues and stepping all over each other sentences.
It's nowhere near as much fun to watch as when their joint association of ideas leads them towards the killer, bippity boppity boo, voila.
No, this, this is painful, grating even.
Lanie grinds her teeth as they clash behind her. Watching their reflections in the glass of her lab as they rant and rave at each other, using the case as a surrogate for the issues that are eating away at them. The hidden words they bury behind stupidity and subtext and...Lanie puts the scalpel down, just to be safe.
"Well clearly the killer had to bend down to enter the room and gain access to the victim." Kate moves gesticulating with her hands as she goes.
"Is the circus in town?" Castle sits down leaning across a slab, his head in his hand, sounding bored. He's toying with his phone and Lanie watches
Kate glare before her hands fist at her sides, knuckles turning white.
She smirks, watching Kate, seeing every eager yearning she has play across her face. It looks a lot like she want to scroll through the phone and delete certain names, all the names that aren't hers. Maybe even pull the thing from his hands and throw it at the wall.
But, as usual, they remain impassive, actions denied and words locked away, blah blah morons the both of them.
"I'm sorry what?" Kate turns, stopping dead to stare at the man who has clearly lost all interest or maybe just his mind. Even Lanie is thrown off, intrigued by the sudden change in direction.
"Maaaybe," he drags out sarcastically "the killer was short." he shrugs his shoulders
Kate pauses for a second, rubbing a hand over her eyes, before she catches on "Are you suggesting that performing circus midgetsteamed up to take down our 300lb victim?"
Lanie bites back the halleluiah that wants to explode from her mouth when her phone goes off and interrupts them before they can get going again.
It's Ryan and his response is pretty much what she expected, though she's surprised it arrives before his little buddy has had a chance to get in first.
*I will deny all knowledge of this if I'm asked, but I'm in. Tell B we have a lead.*
Rolling her eyes Lanie smiles before swivelling in her seat. "Ryan needs you, so..." She smiles sweetly "Get out!"
"The fine Doctor wants rid of us Beckett." Castle stands, raising his phone to his face again " I have...a call to make." He breezes out of the room, the door swinging loosely back and forth behind him.
"You know for two grown adults you do a fine job of acting like teenagers."
Lanie twirls her pen between her fingers, tapping her foot as she watches her friend drag her eyes from the door reluctantly.
"Shut up." Kate hisses as she throws her jacket over her shoulder, glaring before she stalks after Castle.
The last message comes through as she sits down with a glass of wine, her tiny feet plonking down heavily on the sofa as she stretches out.
*U mess with Beckett's love life & she'll hurt u!*
Lanie smiles, she doesn't need a confirmation from Esposito that he'll help. He's a softie, a not so secret romantic. In fact he's almost as pissed off with everything that is happening as Lanie herself. There is no way he wouldn't want to be a part of it.
*She'll have to catch me first!!*
Lanie replies quickly standing as she hears the knock at the door. She reaches it and pulls it wide, smiling up into the face of the man whose message she has just answered.
"You couldn't tell me that in person?" She asks with a knowing smile.
"Chica, you didn't call me here to talk." He smirks as he walks past her into the apartment, but she can't contradict him, he's not wrong.
They meet under cover of darkness...
"I am about one step away from tattooing the phrase 'use your words' on one of their foreheads". Lanie grumbles as she storms around the room. She narrowly misses sending a wine glass in freefall towards the floor, but only because Ryan makes a grab for it, raising his eyes at Esposito.
But Esposito is too busy watching Lanie as she continues to navigate the furniture in the living room of her apartment. Occasionally ranting, but mainly just getting everyone where she wants them before she sets out her idea.
The last twenty minutes have been enlightening for everyone, who, unbeknown to the woman in question, have all made silent vows to never get on her bad side.
Or more aptly her romantic, frustrated side.
They have agreed to meet here, knowing Castle is on another 'date' and Kate, having been blown off by Lanie, has secreted herself away in the confines of her apartment.
They sit, preparing to discuss schemes and plans for domination like a weird superhero group whose only mission is to make two fools see the light of day.
Lying to their friends should feel like more of a chore. Working in secret probably shouldn't be as fun as it is, even if they are all completely over the secrets and lying and crap. There is just something...uplifting about banding together.
At least until they start to argue.
Lanie puffs out an exasperated breath, striding past Martha who is next to Ryan on the sofa.
"They are driving me crazy." Ryan states with a shrug and a shake of his head.
"They're driving everyone crazy," Lanie barks, feet moving again. "God I wanna...slap her and kick him and …"
"Bang their heads together?" Martha suggests, swirling her glass so the wine rides the sides in mesmerizing waves.
Ryan sighs longingly, not meeting anyone's eye as he speaks "They should just sit down and talk."
Lanie spins on the spot, rounding on him, not entirely able to believe her ears "Yes Ryan...Yes they should." She points at him glaring forcefully
"Privately. With no interruptions..."
Ryan nods sedately, agreeing. "Yes exactly. They should just talk about it without...
"Oh hush, " Lanie barks "you're part of the problem. In and out, in and out..." She starts to wave her hands in time as she speaks, her eyes burning into Ryan's as he retreats into the cushions. "Back and forth, you ever think of just shutting up when you walk into a room and see they are trying to have a conversation?"
Ryan stays silent, assuming it's a safer option, a rhetorical question. But Lanie narrows her eyes and steps forwards, arm stretching out before her, one finger pointing at him accusingly.
"Well?" she demands in a way that makes everyone in the room very glad she doesn't carry a gun. Probably for the best her scalpels are locked up at the lab as well.
Ryan, feels the blood flood to his cheeks in the face of such harsh criticism, even if it's warranted. "I...we... There were cases Lanie, I have a job to do."
He can hear the near whine that has taken over his voice and he clears his throat before he continues "I needed to pass on information and..." he pouts and turns, pointing to Esposito, seeing a way out. "He is just as bad, worse even."
Esposito's eyes grow wide and his mouth drops open in shock before he turns. "Oh throw me under the bus bro, nice."
"But he's not wrong, is he?" Lanie chirps, with a smirk, eyeing Esposito as he moves around her apartment all too comfortably.
"No," He agrees shocking her into silence for the first time all night. "Ryan isn't wrong." He throws back a little of the attitude that's being aimed at him, enjoying sparring with her, even if they do have an audience. "We do have work to do and cases that need..."
A low growl from behind has them all turning or rising in confusion as Alexis stalks through the room "There are always cases, always excuses...it's frustrating...infuriating...she's infuriating."
Alexis paces, her hands on her hips as she narrowly avoids the boys, who move out of her way as she storms about the room intimidatingly. The two men catch each others eye, one raising an eyebrow and the other responding with a sly grin. Alexis is looking a lot like the woman she's annoyed with as she slams around the room her eyes fierce.
Lanie turns, waving her finger "Hey, little Castle, I love you I really do, but do not bad mouth my girl in front of me. She's been working through some stuff and, sure, she's slow...my god snails move faster than she does. But...she's ready."
Martha puts her glass down on the table as she sits up, making herself known to the room. Her voice is commanding, forceful when she speaks "My son's been ready and willing to wait but she lied to him." She shakes her head, sighing softly, "He can forgive a lot," she looks pointedly at Alexis, her mind flooded with memories, her eyes softening, "God knows he's had to, but she lied."
Lanie waits a second, taking in the pain and anger in the older woman's voice before she asks "What?"
Martha sighs, "Richard heard her in the interrogation room, the day of the bombing. He heard her say.."
"She remembers..." Lanie nods "Oh, this explains so much." She can feel the eyes of everyone in the room focus in on her as she has a mini revelation all alone. It's easy when you have all the information, and therein lies the problem. "Kate said she could feel Castle pulling away, but she didn't know why. I get it now," She smiles widely "God, they are both so freaking blind."
Martha chuckles "For a Detective and a mystery writer they sure do miss some glaringly obvious clues."
"But so did he." Alexis suddenly blurts out, as if she has had an epiphany of her own, unaware as the other four stop dead to stare at her.
Esposito elbows Ryan as he sits on the arm of the sofa "You following this?"
Ryan shrugs, his eyes looking pained "Kind of." He lies. He's pretty certain he knows what's coming.
Alexis shakes her head "Grams you said Detective Beckett lied, but Dad did too." The girl speaks with such reverence that Lanie realises she's missing something else now.
There are too many damn secrets floating around and she can feel her tentative grip on her temper slipping rapidly.
Martha opens and then audibly shuts her mouth, unable to defend or deny anything. She lets out a breath, scrunching her lips and tilting her head.
"This is a complete and utter fiasco." She exclaims picking up her glass again and swigging from it.
Esposito and Lanie both turn to stare at Ryan, before they bark at the same time "Knew what?"
They startle, catching each others gaze and there is a roaring flash of heat between them.
Their eyes remain locked and, oh, it's not good.
They are doing that Castle/Beckett thing, or maybe it's worse. It's the
Javier/Lanie thing that leads to blushing memories and late night phone calls. Frantic, heaving, desperate, kisses and...
Lanie swallows as she remembers last night and being pressed deliciously slowly into the couch Martha and Ryan are sitting on at this very moment. If they only knew that...
Martha clears her throat with a smirk, before she looks at Alexis, who in turn looks to Ryan and asks "He told you?"
Ryan nods with another sigh, "Yeah."
"Oh well isn't this all just a fine mess." Martha says refilling her glass before plonking the wine bottle down on the table
The three of them nod, all in agreement about a situation that continues to leave Lanie in the dark. She can feel her patience slipping again and she starts to talk in a singsong, scary, voice that quickly captures everyone's attention. "Oh Javi, I'm gonna kill one of them if someone doesn't tell me what the hell is going on."
But Esposito doesn't react at all how she expects, his eyes are narrowed as he looks back and forth between Martha and Alexis, before levying the full force of his gaze on his silent partner.
"He looked into the case didn't he." Esposito states with a slow shake of his head.
"WHAT case." Lanie barks as the final shard of patience she was clinging to explodes into nothing. She glares around the room, moving away from them all as they stare at her. Like she's slow, like its obvious what case...
And just like that, it is.
Her mouth opens and closes, once, twice before she finds her voice again. "No way in hell...and he's upset cos she didn't tell him she heard him? Oh that hypo..."
"Do not call my son a hypocrite." Martha warns.
"But he is one..." Lanie says rolling her eyes and folding her arms across her chest.
"So is she." Alexis blurts out defending her father, expecting an argument, a tirade from the other woman in defence of her friend, but Lanie laughs.
"Oh I'm not denying it. They're both morons."
Alexis huffs a relieved laugh as she nods "Idiots."
"Dumb-asses." Esposito grunts in agreement.
Martha stands, dramatically claiming the attention of the room as she raises her glass in a toast "And so say all of us."
They laugh, and it's enough to break the tension. It reminds them all that they aren't here to take sides, there is no team division. They have one common goal, they are a united front in the face of stupidity, denial and secrets.
"So Chica, " Esposito says, raising his eyebrow and flashing her a smile "You're running this show, what's the plan here?"
Lanie grins wickedly at him, before turning the full force of her calculating smile on the rest of the room and saying with a satisfied hum "Divide and conquer."
Synchronise your watches...
Lanie checks the clock one last time, a small grin darting across her face, before she throws the last folder onto the slab and makes a grab for her coat. She's just finished sliding it over her arms and shucking it into place when Kate walks through the door.
"You're early." Lanie grins, oh it's all just so perfect, even Beckett's playing along. Of course the woman doesn't have a clue but somehow that makes it better.
Kate looks back at her confused "You said seven and it's nearly half past." She had in all honesty been expecting a Lanie-esq lecture.
"That is early for you." Lanie snarks elbowing her friend who returns a weak smile "Oh hell no." Lanie growls "Cheer the hell up Beckett, girls night. I want fun."
"I can do wine." Kate grumbles as she sits down in the seat Lanie had just vacated "fun might be pushing it.".
"No wine for you tonight girl," Lanie grins again, wine isn't strong enough for this, "Cocktails!" She elbows Kate out of the chair, her hands at the small of her back as she forces her towards the door. "Lots of them."
"Lanie." Kate whines sounding nothing like her normal self "I don't want to go to a sleazy cocktail bar..."
"Oh honey," Lanie said with an obviously fake pout, "we're not going to a bar."
Though he was steadfastly avoiding everyone by keeping his eyes down, supposedly engrossed in his phone, he hadn't missed Kate's early exit.
Castle refused to wonder where she was going, he instead, childishly, ignored her mumbled 'g'night' and started flicking through names on his phone.
But almost the second she is completely out of sight, the phone is unceremoniously removed from his hands and pocketed by Esposito. The man rounds on him, arms folded over his chest as he sits across Beckett's desk in a way he would never dare if she was anywhere nearby.
"Lame bro." He comments shaking his head.
"Totally." Ryan agrees appearing from nowhere and making Castle jump as he stands next to him, staring down.
"It's been, what?" Esposito asks over Castle's head, pretending the man isn't there as he speaks to Ryan "Days?"
"More like weeks." Ryan states flatly.
"And you don't call, you don't write." Esposito ticks Castle's listed offences off on his fingers, still shaking his head as he does.
It's a joke and a reprimand all in one and Castle almost laughs, realising he has been neglecting his friends lately, almost until Ryan pipes up.
"You don't even say hey anymore." Both Castle and Esposito turn to the man who has let too much emotion spill through his voice, watching as his eyes take on a dreamy quality and he sighs forlornly.
Castle looks back and forth between the two men, waiting for a quip or sarcastic comment, instead he watches as Esposito scrunches his eyes and mimes at Ryan to tone it down a bit.
Something is clearly wrong here, and he's missing it.
"I mean we know you hate Beckett now, but..." Esposito trails off deliberately, refolding his arms, shaking his head, giving Ryan a few seconds to compose himself.
"We thought we were your friends." Ryan finishes for him, with a squeaky edge to his voice that shows clearly he hasn't had long enough.
Castle flicks his eyes between the two men, catching Espo's frowned eye roll and look of exasperation. Then it hit him, what they had said, how casually they had thrown it into conversation. Like it was an accepted and acceptable statement of fact.
He is definitely missing something.
"I don't..." He states vehemently, but his words fall away as the two men look at him, waiting "I mean hate's a...and you guys? We are… what did I do?" He asks looking to both men again hoping for some explanation.
"You ditched us." Ryan states folding his arms across his chest and staring menacingly.
"Off playing with your new buddies."
"Getting roughed up." Ryan scowls letting Castle know exactly how much effort their team goes to on a daily basis to keep everyone safe, then he scoffs "In and out with lunch dates."
"And it's lame," Esposito agrees, "you owe us."
"Drinks." Ryan confirms pointing, before he moves to stand further behind Castle. Resting his fingers on the man's shoulder, squeezing hard until he feels him wince and turn in his seat.
Lanie said not to play fair. Don't take no for an answer, and even if the woman's not here, there is no arguing with Lanie Parish.
"It's the least you can do, after all you own a bar." Ryan finishes, removing his hand from Castle's shoulder with a triumphant smile. The man has no idea what's happening, wearing an expression somewhere between bemused, worried and totally confused.
"You're buying." Esposito confirms, rapidly jumping off Beckett's desk and moving around the two men. He stops once he's at Castle's side, and, in a joint and clearly practised move the two men slip their hands under his arms, heaving him out of the seat.
"Guys what the hell?" He yelps as his knee crashes into Beckett's chair and he stumbles, taking the two men forwards with him.
Holding onto Castle tightly, they wait until he regains his balance before they spin him on the spot and march him like a suspect towards the elevator.
They ignore the rest of his mumbled protests and confused calls, staying deathly and deliberately silent until they finally feel him surrender.
Reaching the elevator they shove him inside, stepping in quickly behind him with matching sinister smiles as Castle turns and slumps into the opposite wall.
Castle grumbles as the machine begins its descent "I'm having severe deja vu."
Ryan laughs "Yeah me too, but at least this time you're not dressed like Elvis."
The cab pulls up slowly outside the loft, and Kate scrunches down low in the seat, her narrowed glare flicking between the building and her supposed best friend.
Lanie sits opposite her with a grin stretching widely across her cheeks.
"What the hell is going on Lanie?" Kate hisses, looking out onto the street.
She watches as two very familiar looking women emerge from the shadows of the building.
"Girls night." Lanie states with a shrug.
"With Castle?" Kate asks confused.
Lanie laughs "Well I know writer boy has a tendency to be a bit girly, what with all the screaming and the facial products but I..."
Lanie rolls her eyes at Kate's tone "He's not here, Happy now? He's gone for drinks with Javi and Ryan." Lanie glances up, watching Kate's face contort before she quickly regains control and stuffs away her emotions.
Lanie sees straight through it and points "And I am not going to pretend you didn't just look totally disappointed when I said he wasn't here." She reaches across the cab and pats her friends knee, offering the smallest amount of comfort before she laughs. "Just go with it Kate, it will be easier in the long run."
Lanie is probably the only person on the planet that doesn't back down in the face of a Kate Beckett death glare, and it's lucky because the one she's being given now should be turning her to stone...and they haven't even gotten inside yet.
The door swings open and in a combined move that takes the usually fully prepared Detective by surprise she is both shoved out of, and pulled from, the cab.
Kate stumbles onto the sidewalk coming face to face with Castle's mother and daughter. Alexis greets her with a smile, before turning back for Lanie, whilst Martha slips her arm through Kate's, tugging on her elbow.
The older woman is surprisingly strong as she near drags Kate along after her.
"My dear." Martha says with a soft and knowing smile, turning back to the wide eyes of the woman trailing her. "How about we go get you a drink? Hmm?"
Castle has spent the entire journey observing the two men, and when they arrive at The Old Haunt, it is clearly at a pace that neither of the Detectives is happy with. From what little intel Castle has been able to gather, given that both men spent the entire cramped and awkward cab journey glancing between their phones and their watches, they are on some sort of deadline.
They sure know how to make a man feel loved. Even if he has been acting
like an ass.
As the two men settle into a booth, Castle mumbles something about buying drinks that gets completely ignored as the men whisper to each other across the table.
He heads to the bar, casually watching them over his shoulder as he sets them up with three bottles of beer and three whiskey chasers. He's not entirely sure why, but, sensing he's going to need it, Castle downs two of the shots at the bar before asking for refills.
When he reaches the table both men look up at him expectantly, their voices falling away as if he interrupted a private conversation. Castle sighs as he sits down feeling like he's been doing a lot of that lately.
"So how are Jenny and Lanie?" He asks searching for something to break the quiet.
Esposito puffs out a blast of air shaking his head "Lanie is a force of nature, but we're not here for chit chat bro."
"Nope." Ryan agrees with nod.
"In fact, you're here because we've all had enough."
"Oh god." Castle mouths as he looks between the two men, suddenly very aware of where this conversation and this night in general may be headed.
"More to the point, Lanie has had enough." Ryan states, capturing Castles attention again as his eyes and forehead scrunch together.
"Oh my god." Castle states again, only this time out loud and more high-pitched than he intended. His hand reaches for the whiskey in front of him, and he lifts it to his lips.
Esposito watches him knock the drink back before he slides his own chaser towards him. He waits until Castle's fingers close around it and the small glass is touching his lips before he speaks. "Lanie has taken Kate to your place for a girls night."
Castle chokes around the liquid halfway to his lungs as he barks "What? Why?" He continues to splutter, coughing down the whiskey that burns his throat.
Ryan thumps the man hard on the back as Esposito starts to talk again.
"Your mom's gonna tell her you heard her in the interrogation room,"
Esposito pauses to let Castle absorb that as he continues to cough "that the reason you've been acting like a shallow di..."
"Person who was hurt," Ryan interrupts, talking loudly over Esposito as he thumps Castle hard on the back again.
"Right." Esposito nods, not looking at all convinced, "Is because you heard her say she remembers."
"Which, by the way … not cool you never said anything." Ryan states quietly as he sits back down.
Esposito gauges from Castle's now almost steady breathing that the man has calmed down enough to hear the rest. He blurts it out, not holding anything back in a way that makes him wonder, if Castle and Beckett had taken this approach months ago, where would they all be now?
"Then Lanie, Alexis and Martha are gonna show her your murder board and tell her you've been investigating her mom's case."
Castle's mouth falls open wide as he stands up, forcing himself away from the table. "They can't."
Ryan shrugs looking at Castle "Secrets are coming out..."
"Yup enough is enough bro and we have all had more than enough."
Castle's mouth still hangs wide open, fighting to find the words. "Why would they do that?"
"Why not?" Esposito asks swigging his beer "Fair's fair right? She hurt you and now she hears the truth from someone else and you guys are even."
Castle swings towards the men his arms waving wildly. "It's not about being even." He states like everyone has lost their minds. Though it hits him hard in the stomach as he says it, maybe it has been a bit about making it even, making her pay. That doesn't mean he wants this. "They can't...I have to be the one to tell her."
Ryan scoffs looking over at Esposito as they continue to drink nonchalantly from their bottles "What are you going to do? Run all the way over there, interrupt girls night, drag her into your office and blurt everything out?"
Ryan and Esposito share a look, waiting, watching, hoping. This is Lanie's grand plan they are messing with and everything rests on Castles reaction.
Castle's mouth gapes open again as he thinks about what the two men have just said "I... YES." He says forcefully, not seeing the grin pass between the two men as he is engulfed with a powerful sense of rightness and conviction.
Castle grabs his coat not bothering to put it on as he heads for the door.
"Better move fast then," Esposito yells, causing Castle to turn before he leaves "it's Lanie, she's not going to pull any punches."
The two men continue to drink, listening as the door slams shut behind Castle and they lift their beer bottles to clink them. Esposito sets his drink on the table and retrieves his phone from his pocket. He fires off a quick text to Lanie, marvelling at the woman's innate ability to read her friends.
*On his way, u got 20mins.*
A wise woman once said...
Twenty minutes isn't really long enough for what she needs to do, but Lanie can work with it. Of course she can, she's gotten them this far with barely more than anger, frustration and a plan she will readily admit was mostly fuelled by wine and some pure personal determination to see her friends happy.
Before she lost what was left of her patience and killed one of them.
Between the three of them they have already managed to get Kate to drink one and a half of the lethal looking green things Martha has concocted.
Lanie knows her friend can hold her alcohol, but she's already swaying just a bit.
Lanie makes a grab for Alexis as the girl exits the kitchen "Little Castle what the hell is in those drinks?"
"I have no idea," Alexis states eyeing her Grandmother and wrinkling her nose. "But I can smell Grams from here."
"I said I wanted to loosen her up," Lanie growls "I meant tipsy not catatonic."
Her phone beeps again, and Alexis peers over her shoulder. "Dad on his way?" She asks in a hushed whisper that makes Lanie smile as she nods her confirmation that he is indeed headed towards the loft. Hopefully riled up enough that his conscience and his heart will over ride his pride and set him back on track.
The man has been a confrontational and distant ass of late, hurt or not his behaviour is driving Lanie crazy.
"Boys coming back?" Alexis asks with a teasing tone and leading smile that are just so very Castle, the fun good natured version, that Lanie barks out a shocked laugh.
"No," She shrugs, shaking her head "the cowards decided to make their escape for the night."
"Ahh so are they scared of...?" Alexis tips her head towards Kate in the kitchen. "Or..." Alexis lets her eyes dart to Lanie before she can stop herself, her cheeks flushing pink as her meaning is made clear.
"Yeah, lets breeze past that shall we." Lanie laughs pulling the girl close and turning them both back towards the kitchen "We need to get cracking on the deluded Detective over there."
The two make their way back to the kitchen, to Martha and Kate who are chatting at the counter. Lanie pulls herself up straight, she's going to need her full height, the full force of her ability to crack through her friend's crap and make her see sense.
"So Kate." Lanie says shuffling into the stool and levelling her with the full force of her wide-eyed stare "What's up with you and writer boy?"
Kate shakes her head looking at Lanie with her eyes wide "I don't think that this is the tim..."
"Writer boy?" Martha laughs before turning her attention to the pink flushed face of the Detective opposite her, "What a…delightful nickname." She snickers sarcastically before reaching across the counter to both pat Kate's hand and refill her glass. "What is up?" Martha looks to Lanie for confirmation she has gotten the phrasing correct before she proceeds "With you and my son?"
"Dad's been...off." Alexis states, her eyes narrow and they all wait in awkward silence for Kate to speak.
Lanie prods her friend, waiting until he catches her eye before tilting her head "You said he's been pulling away right? Maybe if we talk about it, we can work out what's..."
Kate lifts her head and stares at Lanie, understanding and suspicion washing across her face. Despite behaviour to the contrary, especially where a certain writer is concerned, Lanie knows her friend isn't stupid. Lanie watches her eyes narrow before she sighs and her gaze drop back down to her drink.
"It's my fault." Kate says swirling the green liquid in front of her, and much to Lanie's relief not putting it anywhere near her mouth. She doesn't want the woman on the floor before Castle gets here.
What happens after the two of them talk however...
"You're right Lanie, I waited too long."
"For what?" Martha asks winking at Lanie.
"To tell him." Kate says swirling the drink again, still refusing to meet his mother's eye.
"To tell him what?" Lanie queries, really trying not to bite the woman's head off as she leads her through her internal revelations as quickly as she can.
Lanie huffs out a breath because it's really hard not to draw attention to the need for speedy responses and the fact she is on somewhat of a deadline.
"That I heard him say he loves me." Kate shakes her head "God I'm an idiot Lanie."
"Preaching to the choir sweetie." Lanie states, smiling angelically and ignoring Kate's eye roll.
Martha and Alexis work to catch Lanie's eye when Kate stares back down at her drink again, losing herself in the luminescent liquid.
Lanie nods her head at Alexis, her eyes opening wide with a flash of meaning before she nods back to Kate.
They need to tag team, keep up the flow and keep her talking. They need to not let her think too much about her responses. They really need her to just start blurting things out.
"So why didn't you tell him?" Alexis asks quietly, gently, as Lanie smiles.
There is a softness behind her eyes, when Kate looks up, so kind and familiar that it draws her in and she starts to talk.
"I wasn't ready." She says simply "I would have screwed it up."
Lanie bites her lip, forcing herself not to comment on how ironic that statement actually is.
"But you're ready now?" Martha asks leaning forwards, a hopeful but cautious smile greeting the younger woman who finally lifts her head to meet Martha's gaze.
Kate nods "The day of the bombing I… I was going to tell him but...we kept getting interrupted." She grumbles over the last word, her annoyance clear.
Lanie and Martha's eyes meet then, as realisation dawns on them all.
"That was the day he started pulling away..." Lanie leads, asking and telling, informing and waiting all at once.
"Yeah." Kate agrees, scrunching her lips to one side as she thinks. The day of the bombing should have been a defining day for them in an entirely different way. She shakes her head "And I still can't figure out...unless..."
Kate feels her mouth fall open and her head snaps to Martha opposite her "oh god..."
Kate looks quickly between the three women, her eyes darting rapidly. They were fine before she interviewed the suspect, he had left the building with a warm smile and a promise to return with coffee. But when she emerged from the interrogation room he was distant, pained even...
"He heard." She whispers quietly.
Martha nods slowly, her hand reaching across the counter top to cover
Kate's as her face blanches in shock.
"When I was in the interrogation room..." She scrunches her eyes "It just slipped out." She explains, to herself more than anyone else. The charged atmosphere of the situation, the bombing and the pressure from Gates had forced her to push the suspect. And then the pushing had become too easy as she picked apart his lies, using the truth of her own life, her own experiences to prove him wrong.
Whilst Castle stood outside and listened to her blurt out something she should have been able to confess to him in private.
Martha nods again tapping gently at Kate's hand once more before she pulls away.
"And that's why?..."
This time Lanie nods, but watching Kate's face she doesn't think she's listening anymore. She's absorbed in memories or possibilities, maybe missed chances. Though Lanie wants to rush her, help her through, she knows the woman well enough to let her have the moment.
But she better be damn quick about it.
"And all this time he didn't know that I was..." Kate trails off quietly as her mind is flooded with eight months worth of therapy sessions, talking and working through everything.
Moving forward. All to be better, to be more.
The other women look confused as Kate rubs at her eyes, but they stay quiet, leaving her alone to work through whatever epiphany she seems to be having.
"And now he thinks what?" She asks turning towards Martha "That I don't care? That I lied to him for months, for nothing? That I don't feel the same? That I don't love him back?"
Lanie watches Kate quietly, her eyes flicking over Kate's head before she smiles softly and asks "Do you feel the same? Doyou love him?"
Kate closes her eyes and shakes her head. Her hand drops to cover her mouth before she sucks in a shuddering breath, and speaks with a soft smile
"Of course I do Lanie."
"Perfect timing Castle." Lanie says grinning over Kate's shoulder, forcing down the part of her that wants to yell in triumph and hug the man who stands motionless and shocked in his doorway.
He arrives, as she hoped he would, breathless, worried and anxious. His coat thrown over his arm and his keys dangling from the tips of his fingers, frozen by the confession he has just heard. The one he has waited almost a year to hear.
"Lanie that's not funny..." Kate growls as she spins on the stool, hearing the door click shut even as she moves. Her eyes find Castle's across the room as she mumbles under her breath "oh god."
Fight or Flight.
Castle pushes the door open silently, not entirely sure if he should duck and cover as he enters his home. It's Kate after all, fiery and often scary Detective Beckett with the gun. But the room is filled with quiet talking, no yelling, no screaming and he walks in in confusion.
The four women sit around his kitchen counter. Kate's back to him as she looks to Lanie. He is about to speak and make himself known when he meets Lanie's eye over the top of Kate's head and he falls silent.
The tiny M.E smiles before she drops her gaze to Kate and speaks, her questions rocking Castle to the core.
"Do you feel the same? Do you love him?"
Castle feels his heart beat erratically against the walls of his chest. He can't bear it again, the accidental omission and pain she causes when she denies it. This time made so much worse as it's witnessed by their friend, his mother and his child.
But Castle finds himself frozen to the spot. The internal fear overshadowed by the tiny spark of hope that still lingers.
Then Kate shakes her head, and his world spirals. His mouth hangs open and again as he makes to speak he is interrupted.
There is something new in her voice when she answers, lifting her tone and his heart at the same time "Of course I do Lanie."
He can't breathe.
His lungs have vanished and there is no air in the room. He stands motionless and stunned with his mouth open wide, seeking the oxygen that will allow this all to settle and be real.
She just said...out loud she just said...
"Perfect timing Castle." Lanie grins at him, alerting the other women to his presence and he finally sucks in a deep breath, watching as Kate flinches.
"Lanie that's not funny..." Kate grumbles, her voice dark and threatening as she grips tight to the seat and spins. He takes a step back as she speaks, bumping the door and forcing it closed with a soft but sufficiently audible click.
He meets her eyes as she mumbles "oh god" and it takes everything he has, everything in him just to breathe normally and remain upright. To not launch himself at her full tilt and seek answers.
He can't break her gaze, the heated pull of her eyes as she swivels slowly in her chair to face him, blinking rapidly.
There is something back in his eyes, something Kate has missed seeing for the last few weeks. It's there now, a tiny, dim spark behind his pupils, and she wants it brighter. Kate needs to make it brighter, to fix things and if this is the problem that has settled between them, then she can do it.
She can fix it.
Kate stands up from her chair, not entirely sure of the next move, but she knows it's hers to make. She can feel the words pounding in her chest, the ones she wants to yell at him in a joyful rush, the ones that leak from her heart and burn bright in every smile. The words that echo through every lingering look they share, she can feel them so intensely as she finally opens her mouth.
But they are not the words she speaks.
"I...I'm sorry." She says quietly, because she is. Not for needing time and not for healing but for hurting him, so much unnecessary pain, and she is sorry for that.
The last thing she ever meant to do was give him reason to doubt her, even as she stole his trust, and she takes those first few tentative steps towards him. There has been too much space between lately and she can remedy that now, but she freezes in her tracks when he starts to talk...to Lanie.
"Did you..." His eyes flick briefly to Kate's, the dim spark still there but edged with conflict, worry...and something she can't define. He stares at her a moment longer before he looks back to Lanie and continues "did you tell her?" Castle barks the rest of the sentence glaring between his mother and Lanie.
"Of course not." Lanie scoffs, folding her arms and rolling her eyes "What do you take me for?"
"Tell me what?" Kate asks in a distinctly darker voice than she has used all evening, looking back and forth between them, her eyes narrowing. There is a thread of fear, trepidation tugging through her chest. Like she should know what's coming and already be prepared, but everything is clouded and she just can't quite...reach the conclusion she should.
Castle sighs, taking a second to bury the memory of her voice and the confession that echoes in his head.
She loves him, of course she does, that's what she said.
As if it could never be doubted.
But for how long?
Knowing that in a few minutes everything will change Castle moves towards her, dropping his coat and his keys as he does. "We need to talk." He states quietly, his voice authoritative, strong and calm, and it's misleading because he's not. Internally he is in total free-fall.
He stops just in front of her and reaches for Kate's arm, fingers aimed for the crook of her elbow, to lead, to guide. But as he gets within touching distance he pulls back, unsure.
It would feel like cheating, like taking advantage of her confession, to curl his fingers over her wrist and pull her with him. But as his hand drops Kate steps into him, her eyes wide as she lays her hand over his arm, lifting her face to look at him expectantly "Yeah, we really do."
Castle takes it as the invitation it is, to draw her away from the rest of them and head into his office. His eyes find Lanie's across the loft as he pushes the door shut behind them, and he nods.
"Halle-freaking-lujah!" Lanie mutters under her breath when the couple are out of sight. She won't interfere...well anymore than she already has, but she keeps her narrowed gaze on Martha. The woman has been known to do more than a little interrupting of her own and Lanie refuses to let that happen again.
It doesn't take long, the reaction she was expecting, clipped tones and raised voices seeping out from the enclosed room. She's not dumb, in her heart of hearts Lanie knows that Kate is not dumb, but she is...emotionally challenged and any second now she expects her to storm out of the office and into the night.
Nope, not happening. Kate may be able to take down men three times her size, but Lanie Parish is no pushover and she is prepared to jump the woman and force her to stay if she has to...But she reallyhopes she doesn't have to.
When the voices get louder and more forceful, carrying in from the other room, Lanie catches Alexis's eye and nods as the girl mimes making herself scarce. She gives her a reassuring wink, watching as she mounts the stairs. Alexis shakes her head but she smiles, acknowledging they're all in for a long night.
The girl has excellent timing clearly, because the minute she is out of sight there is a loud thudding crash as the office door is flung wide and Kate and Castle stalk back into the room.
Kate's voice raised as she continues to yell, oblivious to the other women as she vents her anger "...and you've been working on the case, well of course you have." Kate turns waving her arm as she growls "You think you're some sort of..."
Unable to find the word she starts to gesticulate wildly but when nothing comes to her, Kate reaches for the half full glass of noxious looking green cocktail. She ignores Castles grimace when she raises the glass to her lips and knocks back the remainder of her drink.
She slams it down viciously on the countertop before she turns on him and yells "Invincible ninja!"
Lanie bites her lip to keep from laughing, wondering if Kate realises she's just given him a weird backhanded sort of compliment.
"I do not think I am an invincible ninja." Castle yells back sounding disgusted, his eyebrows shooting high, before dropping as he glares.
"Jackass." Kate growls as she narrows her eyes even more and moves towards him fast, so fast Castle barely has time to back up before she barrels into him "...Looking for some weird thrill." She continues, following him as he backs away. "Acting the spy." She waggles her fingers.
Lanie turns following them, giving up all pretence of not watching. She's earned this, hell they all have and she can feel something...important is approaching. And even if it's not, anything is better than awkward silences and pained waiting and...eugh.
"If you love me" She yells pushing him into the wall, her finger poking him hard in the chest, "then stop parading around with blonde tramps."
Lanie grips tight to the chair, her eyes as wide as they will go and she mentally cheers "Go Kate, claim that man." And there needs to be a little claiming on her side, some possessiveness, not just jealousy.
Kate pokes him hard again. "Stop looking into my mom's case Castle," She barks "I mean it, before you get yourself shot." She pokes him again, harder this time and Lanie winces on his behalf.
"Kidnapped." Kate yells as she pokes again.
"Oowww." Castle takes another step backwards as she follows him.
"Or blown up you idiot." She punctuates the words with one final harsh jab to his chest letting out her frustration and anger.
"Ow Kate jeeze." Castle rubs hard at the no doubt brilliantly bruised skin oh his chest as he glares at her. He captures her finger, the one she still aims at his chest, and casts it aside before he speaks.
"I did it for you Kate," He yells as she steps back, "Because you wanted closure. To keep you safe..."
"What good is me safe if you're dead?" Kate spins, her arms wide "Because if you don't stop..."
"You know I'll stop if you want me to." He growls, interrupting as his voice drops dangerously low "Stop investigating, whatever it takes, but me loving you isn't really the issue here."
He stops her pacing dead with the statement, "What is the issue?" Kate asks, tilting her head to watch him as her hands fall from their poking stance, one darting up to tussle through her hair, as if she is trying to shake it free of the frustration.
Lanie wants to spin on the spot, maybe dance in a circle, because they are actually talking. Yelling and screaming and poking, but talking none the less.
Clearing the air.
About freaking time.
"Balls in your court Kate." He says quietly, still rubbing at his chest. Castle lets out a long breath, raising his head to stare her down "It's never been if I love you...the issue is whether or not you're ready to love m..."
"That is not an issue." She growls "You think I would react like this if I didn't love you?" and Lanie watches as Kate steps further into Castle's space.
Forcing him backwards again until he is leaning against the wall. "Idiot." She murmurs gently as she fists her hands in the collar of his shirt, raising onto her toes, pressing her lips hard and fast to his to drown out any more doubt.
How Lanie doesn't leap to her feet and cheer is beyond her. She clamps her hand over her mouth to stop the noises that want to escape and she stares longer than she should. But she doesn't care, she feels like she's earned this kiss almost as much as they have.
Standing on the sidelines and cheering them on, forcing them together, scheming and...Lanie finally averts her eyes when Castle's hand strays low and Kate moans. She will cross boundaries and invade personal space, but Lanie is quite certain there are some things she really doesn't need to see.
Probably time to make her exit anyway, but as she moves to gather her things the pair draw apart and she can't help but stare again.
Just a quick peek.
They are both complete morons, but they are so cute.
They are both slightly giddy with it as they separate. Nonsensical and glassy eyed, and Lanie knows this topic is something the two of them will have to revisit. No doubt a bone of contention cropping up repeatedly in the next few months, but it's a start.
A step forwards...at last.
"Kate what the hell have you been drinking?" Castle asks, a rush of words as he hums softly, smiling when he pulls away, his fingers still sliding through her hair.
"I...Nothing," She responds, a little shocked "well some weird green…thing your mom made to loosen me up." She laughs at the look on his face, her cheeks pinking up as she leans into him "...why?"
"You just..." He grins at her sheepishly, sighing, his free hand rising from her hip to cup her face "you don't taste like you." His thumb runs slowly along her cheek as he holds her close.
Lanie rolls her eyes as they start to get mushy, sensing that this is definitely her cue to leave. They are going to be sickeningly adorable...when they aren't trying to kill each other or driving themselves (and everyone else) crazy. Lanie smiles as she slips her coat on, but at least they'll be
And if not, Lanie grins wickedly at Martha, who smiles in response, yeah there are ways and means if things start to go south...
"You know?" Martha whispers quietly to Lanie "those cocktails that loosened her up?" She winks dramatically as she tips another glass down the sink, "non-alcoholic."
Lanie laughs, thinking that sometimes all you need is a great hefty shove and a little bit of misdirection to give you the courage you lack.
She glances over at her friends, Kate's body still pinning Castle's to the wall as she runs her thumb along his bottom lip. There is a glorious smile across her friends face, and clearly it's infectious because there is a matching one shining back at her from Castle.
Lanie starts walking towards the door perfectly content to leave them to it but basking in the awe and joy that floods her friend's voice when she continues to speak quietly.
"One undercover kiss over a year ago and you remember what it tastes like when you kiss me?"
Castle nods emphatically as he draws her back in, his arms pulling her close and his mouth hovering over Kate's.
Both completely unaware as Lanie stops dead. Her mouth opens wide before she slams it shut and turns on the spot raising her hand as she barks at the dumb-asses she calls friends.
Screw no interruptions.
"WHAT undercover kiss?"