Author’s note: I’m pretty sure I wrote this sometime during the first season of Castle, but I forgot about it until recently. Guess I couldn’t resist the parallels. Also, bonus points to anyone who spots the small cameo by a very different type of detective show.
“You look like a woman enjoying a well-deserved vacation.”
Kate Beckett looked up from her drink and glanced at the man who’d spoken to her. She studied him surreptitiously with a detective’s eye: tall, broad-shouldered and handsome with mischievous green eyes and the sort of smile that oozed charm and knew it. He was also, she noted with some amusement, giving her pretty much the exact same analytical once-over as she’d just given him.
Even though it was transparently an attempt at a pick-up, the easy kinship of law enforcement coupled with the fact that he was right, she was on vacation, made her smile. “That obvious, huh?”
He grinned. “Probably not for everyone, but to the trained investigative eye…” The eye in question twinkled. “Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, NCIS.”
“Detective Kate Beckett, NYPD.” She shook the offered hand.
“New York. Never did make it there,” was the somewhat cryptic answer, almost immediately clarified when he added, “Cycled through a few departments over the years. Baltimore. Philly. Peoria. Never lasted more than two years.”
Kate nodded absently. She knew the type. Hell, a friend of a friend in Toronto had gone through three captains in three years. “How long have you been with NCIS?”
Agent DiNozzo frowned. “Let’s see…wow. Just about eight years.” He grinned. “I think I’ve officially set a new personal record.”
Now that was a bit more unusual, at least in her experience. Either one had staying power or one didn’t. Men she’d known–LEOs and otherwise–didn’t start out with the attention span of a gnat and somehow turn into the most loyal of spaniels. Intrigued, she decided to probe a little. “Something just finally clicked, huh?”
DiNozzo shrugged. “You know how it is. Sometimes the chemistry is just…there.” He grinned again.
Beckett just rolled her eyes but the smile never left her face. In spite of herself, she found him amusing. And anyway, she was on vacation. Agent DiNozzo took that as an invitation and stood up from his own stool, shifting one nearer. “So, Detective, what brings you to our nation’s fair capital? Somebody take too big a bite out of the Big Apple?”
“Something like that,” she admitted, amusement slipping away into sober recollection. The last case they’d been on had been pretty horrendous, but then a murdered child was never a picnic. That it had been a little girl with red hair had only aggravated matters: the last she’d seen of Castle, he’d muttered something about going home to hug Alexis for a week and promptly disappeared. If Kate hadn’t already been planning this vacation before the case had landed in their laps, she probably would’ve marched straight into Montgomery’s office and demanded it anyway.
DiNozzo’s expression softened in sympathy. “What happened?” he asked quietly.
She was only half surprised to find herself pouring out the whole story. He was, after all, a fellow LEO. Contrary to what was usually portrayed on TV, that bond often transcended any petty interdepartmental rivalries, at least below the bureaucratic level. The agents and officers that still worked the streets generally knew better than to turn up their noses at anything that would help close a case. What did surprise her was she found herself including Castle’s reaction: apparently it had affected her more than she knew.
“Castle’s your partner?” DiNozzo asked, for clarification.
Kate’s expression lingered somewhere between a grimace and a grin. “Sort of. It’s Richard Castle, the mystery writer. He’s been tagging along as a ride-along for about the past year thanks to having the mayor on speed dial. ‘Research’ he calls it.”
DiNozzo made a face of his own, which Kate initially interpreted as sympathy for her for having to put up with a civilian underfoot on investigations.
“Annoying, isn’t it?” he asked. She was about to agree when he knocked her for a loop with his next words. “We’ve got a probie on the team who made a mint slapping together thinly-veiled accounts of some of our cases and changing the names to protect the guilty. Never was a big mystery reader–figure I get enough of those in real life–” He smirked “–but now I wish I’d thought of it first.”
Wait a second…she’d read a series of mystery novels about an NCIS team. They weren’t exactly Pulitzer material, but then neither were Castle’s. “What’s his name?”
“Tim McGee, although he writes under a pen name. Gemstone or something.” A look of horror crossed his face. “Oh, God, don’t tell me you’ve read them.”
Thom E. Gemcity. Deep Six. Oh, didn’t that just figure. “I think I have,” Kate admitted. “If the novels are thinly-veiled versions of your cases, does that mean the characters are thinly-veiled versions of your team?”
“More like thinly-veiled caricatures in most cases,” DiNozzo agreed with a half-hearted, half-affectionate scowl. “Wait…” He looked at her as if a light had suddenly gone on. “Castle…I think I remember McGeek raving about one of his books the other day. Made some crack about it being right up my alley if I knew how to read.” Another smirk and then, “Detective Nikki Heat, I presume?”
Beckett sighed. “Special Agent Tommy DeNofio?”
He chuckled wryly. “The one and only. Apparently.” He downed the rest of his scotch, glanced at his empty glass, then at hers. “I say this calls for another drink.”
Beckett shoved her own glass across the bar towards the bartender. “Make mine a double.”