World-famous playboy murder mystery novelist Richard Castle entered the night club Anthemusa dressed in one of his best suits, but with his tie loosened and his top shirt button undone. The idea behind his look was to make others think he was stopping in for some drinks after a long evening of public appearances. Hopefully, the attractive celebutantes that frequented the club would notice, allowing him to work his magic while NYPD Detective Kevin Ryan, undercover as an assistant manager, and his partner Detective Javier Esposito, also undercover but as a bartender, would scope out the crowd for the club's owner. Detective Kate Beckett, the beautiful, tough, and intelligent woman whom Castle had been shadowing for the previous three years and who served as his inspiration for his wildly successful Nikki Heat series of novels, would also be undercover, but Castle didn't know in what capacity. He secretly hoped it wasn't as a waitress.
Two weeks prior, "Beckett and the boys," as they had come to be known around the NYPD's 12th precinct, had begun working a series of murders of young women in an upscale part of the city. As their investigation progressed, they came to suspect that the night club's owner was behind the murders. It seemed he was using the club as a recruiting ground for girls he could force into a prostitution ring. And anyone who decided they wanted out of their so-called "waitressing gig" ended up dead.
The catch was that the club's owner was rich, handsome, and cocky, so they all agreed that he wasn't likely to go quietly, nor was he likely to make it easy for them to collar him. But arrogance was arrogance, so they figured the lord wouldn't be able to resist presiding over his manor – especially if he got wind of the fact that a celebrity of Castle's stature might drop in. So Castle leaked it to a few gossip magazine reporters he knew that he'd come by tonight after a public appearance. Sure enough, when Castle arrived in his limousine (an idea suggested by the detectives' boss Captain Roy Montgomery to heighten the effect and impact of his arrival) the paparazzi were stationed outside and the bar was crowded with young, attractive, star-struck coeds in low cut tops with Sharpies at the ready in case New York's Ninth Most Eligible Bachelor was feeling up to some chest-signing.
Castle worked his way towards the bar, pausing frequently to shake hands with a prominent personage he knew or, more frequently, to sign a boob that was thrust into his face. Once he reached the bar, he ordered a martini from Esposito, making sure not to blow the detective's cover. He spotted Ryan in the crowd as well, conferring with the club's general manager, who was in on the sting and wanted nothing more than to put an end to the owner's nefarious reign. Thank goodness someone still had a sense of civic duty.
Things were going just as planned and right about the time Castle wondered when Beckett would show up, the general manager appeared on a stage located directly opposite from the bar where Castle was holding court. He held a microphone and introduced the night's entertainment – a fresh new talent just into town who he fantastically characterized as a direct descendant of the infamous Greek Sirens – Lily. A smattering of applause broke out and a piano struck up a slow, sultry melody. Here we go, Castle thought: another pop-tart wannabe who doesn't even have a quarter of the talent that even the best backup singer in Nashville has. He turned to take another swig from his drink, then almost dropped his glass when he caught a glimpse in the corner of his eye of the woman introduced as Lily. It was Beckett.
She was wearing the red Jimmy Choo heels and matching strapless, and rather short, red dress that she always wore in one of Castle's fantasies where the two of them flirt incessantly over a game of pool. She took the microphone and adjusted its stand with the same amount of confidence with which she had so many times entered one of the interrogation rooms at the precinct to question a perp.
"Now that is entertainment," Castle quipped to Esposito the bartender, just as a bar patron might casually observe to any bartender. Esposito gave Castle a nod.
"I saw her rehearse earlier," the detective said, keeping in character. "Man, what a babe."
Castle momentarily wanted to shoot Esposito a shocked look and smack him across the face, but he remembered that such behavior would blow the act. He composed himself internally and did his best to cover up his brief surprise as the detective continued.
"It would not surprise me in the least if she really was a Siren's descendant." With that, he hurried off to help another customer, while Beckett began her performance. Castle recognized the song as The Way It Should Be, originally performed by Paul McCartney and featured in the recent film The Lake House.
"I'm very sure this never happened to me before…" Beckett began singing. Her voice was velvety smooth and sultry as sultry could be. Castle had no idea Beckett was such a talented singer. He knew she had had some dance training from the one time they had danced while also undercover at a charity gala not long after Castle began shadowing her. She had followed his movements that night almost as if she could read his mind. He hoped that she couldn't do so right now.
Her singing was getting to him in a way he hadn't expected. Yet another layer of that Beckett onion she teased him about has been revealed, he thought. She owned the stage as she sang, scanning the audience and carefully gauging their reactions to her rendition, so she could adjust her performance and give them what they wanted. Her obvious confidence in her ability to entertain astounded Castle. She worked the microphone and used her voice as Leonardo used a brush to paint the Mona Lisa or Michelangelo used a hammer and chisel to sculpt The Pieta.
For her part, Beckett felt something completely foreign coming over her. It had nothing to do with the fact that she hadn't sung in front a crowd in many years. It was the fact that this man, whose books she had read, whose fan site she had trolled, and for whose autograph she had once stood in line for hours to get, was more than likely watching her. She worked the crowd, scanning for the owner or anything unusual, making eye contact with those who seemed to be particularly enjoying her singing, then moving on to others. She closed her eyes, used her hands to accentuate the song, and moved slowly to the music while holding the mike stand like a seasoned singer.
" …I met you and now I'm sure
This never happened before.
Now I see
This is the way it's supposed to be.
I met you and now I see this is the way it should be.
This is the way it should be for lovers
They shouldn't go it alone.
It's not so good when you're on your own…"
She finished the first verse and spied Castle in the crowd. He was watching more intently than she had expected. From his position across the room, she could feel his eyes boring into her soul, not undressing her like she had felt so many times before, but simply taking everything about her in while tuning everything else out. She decided to have a little fun with him and looked deep into his eyes. Two can play at this game, she thought, remembering how easy a mark he was. I'll lead him to water, only to snatch the cup from his thirsty lips at the last second. So she gave her singing a more seductive, pleading dimension with the second verse.
"…So come to me..."
Their eyes locked.
"…Now we can be what we wanna be.
I love you…"
Castle's heart was racing now, not in lust like it had so many other times in the past, but in wonder. This woman who was still an enigma in so many ways, but had proven herself his equal in intelligence, wit, sauciness, heart, and passion had blown him away.
Beckett's heart was racing too. When she sang the line "I love you," a tingling, energizing feeling she hadn't expected, nor ever felt this strongly before flowed through her veins. Being a passionate, attractive woman she had naturally felt those tingles and flutters before, but typically they had come and gone like a windstorm. This feeling qualified as a major hurricane that in her heart of hearts she knew was not going to just blow over when the case was closed and she went home. She was now a total slave to the music. Her rational side had gone into hibernation and she sang and moved without inhibition, without regard to anything else in the world. All that existed was her, the intelligent, fun, charming, and handsome Richard Castle and the music.
"…And now I see
This is the way it should be.
This is the way it should be…"
There was no denying it now, Castle thought. She wasn't just performing for the crowd now, she was singing to him. She was finally putting into words what both of them had been feeling from the beginning of their partnership: that something about this was right, that their paths had intersected for a reason. Fate had brought them together and was now telling them as they stood with eyes transfixed on each other, that this is what they were each meant for. They were meant to be together. As the song said "this is the way it should be."
Beckett knew there were only a few lines in the song left. She knew she had to make the most them. I've gone this far, she figured, why not go all the way with it. Hold nothing back. I can never find the words to tell him how much I respect him, how he's brought me out of such a dark place and shown me so much light, how thankful I am for our partnership, and how much I've grown to care for him, and now, love him. Her rational side made a comeback and tried to stop her, but she quickly buried those thoughts and continued.
"…This is the way it should be for lovers…"
She sang with conviction, putting as much meaning into every syllable as she could muster.
"…They shouldn't go it alone.
It's not so good when you're on your own…"
Castle saw her swallow hard after singing these lines. He suddenly wanted to bolt towards the stage to and look deeper into her eyes, in hopes that his being closer to her would bring her some comfort and reassurance that he'd always be around. For her part, Beckett was now struggling to hold it together. The thought that those last two lines brought to her mind were unbearable. If Castle left, he would take with him a chunk of her being, as well as her heart.
"…I'm very sure
This never happened to me before.
I met you and now I'm sure
This never happened before…"
Beckett closed her eyes.
"…This never happened before.
This never happened before…"
She held the last note until after the music had stopped and slowly opened her eyes, looking upon Castle meaningfully. Even though he was across the club, Castle could see tears had welled in her eyes. She recovered long enough to smile and take a small bow as applause rang throughout the bar then hurried nervously off the stage. Oh no, Castle thought. She's come to her senses. It's all over that fast. He suddenly remembered the martini he was holding and turned his back to the stage. As he stared into the bottom of his glass while swirling the drink, he felt Esposito the Fake Bartender approach him.
"Some song, huh, Mr. Castle?" he asked casually, but with a knowing look on his face. Detective Ryan also sent him a meaningful smile from his assigned perch overlooking the crowd.
"Yeah," Castle answered. "Some song."