Hello Crumbsians! So this story is going to be a four-parter only, and the second two parts can't come until a little more of Rookie Year is completed because I want to keep my time-lines as coherent as possible. That being said, the first two we jump to seeing how Lanie and Dave met in the Crumbsverse. If you need a refresher prior to actually reading it, read chapter 7 - Lanie Equals Awesome - in 'Sixth Wheel' and chapter 2 - Confirmed - in 'Angel Undercover'. And as always, read review and enjoy!
When her shift was done at midnight, Lanie called Beckett up; she had the night off too and since Castle was out at the theatre with his daughter and mother, she was relishing the time free to have a girls' night with Lanie. But after what she'd just seen happen, the last thing Lanie wanted was to see her friend so happy in a new relationship and hear the tired, cliched words made all the more sticky by the work relationship they all had.
Beckett picked up her phone on the fourth ring, bright and alert. 'Hey Lanie, you just finishing up for the night?'
Beckett, obviously knowing her friend well, and what she'd planned to do tonight, changed her tactic immediately. 'I take it things didn't go so well?'
'They didn't go at all.' Lanie sighed as she clocked her timesheet. 'I had to call Castle and Ryan and...him in tonight, and he showed up with lipstick on his mouth from kissing someone.'
'Oh, damn, Lanie, I'm so sorry. That sucks out loud.'
'Yeah, it does.'
'Are you okay?'
'I guess...I mean, it's not like he made a decision between seeing me and another woman and chose the other woman. He probably didn't even know how I felt.'
'I'm sorry,' Beckett repeated, not liking the dejected tone of her friend's voice. 'So let's skip going out. Come here, and we can bash him over ice cream and vodka.'
'I kinda just need a little time to myself tonight. I'm going to get a drink at Stewart's Basement and call it a night.'
'Be careful. Text me when you're home, okay?'
Stewart's Basement was exactly what it promised to be in its name - a basement bar owned by Stewart Donaldson, and the choice place of hangout for the third-watch workers. Most often, all they had to say was 'see you in the basement' and they knew exactly where to meet.
Lanie didn't go there as much anymore but tonight...she just needed a little space where she could go for a drink and clear her head of the demons. When she slid onto the barstool, she put in an order for a double-barrel sting-ray and raked her hands through her hair feeling thoroughly hollowed out.
He'd been on a date.
The soul-crushing knowledge of that when she'd glanced up from the body and the file to see Detective Javier Esposito walk in with a smear of woman's transferred lipstick on his mouth had been an icy dagger into her ego, if not her heart. Heart, in Lanie's mind, always came later. She'd called him on it when she'd sent Castle and Ryan on their way, felt her spirit sink even farther when she realized he hadn't had just a date, he'd been out with Meredeth Coleman, author extrordinaire of the Lady Hawk series, one of Lanie's favourite crime-fighting serials, and who could compete with that? The woman was beautiful, tall and curvy and had a smile that made Lanie want to tear her hair out coupled with those Scandanavian bluebird eyes.
And yet, to her utter surprise not only had she been able to keep her cool but she'd even suggested he call this new lady up. Lanie knew he was just completely oblivious to how she felt when he came out of the autopsy room a few minutes later, clearly having made a date with Meredeth.
Her drink appeared in front of her, and when she didn't lift it, just stared at it she heard a soft, smooth voice beside her.
'Now that is just not right.'
Lanie turned, and even in the morrass of feeling sorry for herself, she did a double take. The man addressing her was, in a word, gorgeous. He was lean and lanky, with a halo of waving black hair around an angular Italian face, and it belonged in a black and white billboard selling fragrance over Times Square. The body, clad in loose jeans and a light blue pullover, showed hints of ropy muscles on arms and thighs, and despite being such a tall fellow, he had rather small feet.
'What isn't right?' she asked, impatient.
'A pretty woman like you drinking alone on a Saturday night looking so depressed,' he said.
'I am a little drepressed actually.' Lanie sipped her drink, hoping this guy would get the message and leave her be. Apparently, God wasn't checking his inbox tonight, as the guy just continued to look at her with shyly, like she was a puzzle he was trying to sort out.
'I know. If I tell you a joke and you smile, you give me a chance and tell me. If you don't, I'll buy your drink and leave you alone. Sound fair?'
What the hell, she figured. Couldn't make her night any worse than it was. 'Okay.'
'What's the difference between 'ooh' and 'ahh'?'
'What's the difference between 'ooh' and 'ahh'?' When he nodded, Lanie furrowed her brow in concentration, then shook her head. 'I don't know.'
'About three inches.'
The smile came before she could stop herself, as did the giggle and snort that accompanied it, and it had him pointing a thin finger at her face.
'See? Got you smiling so whatever's got you so down can't be too bad if a joke that awful makes you cheer up a little.'
The bartender passed him a fresh point of beer with a wink. 'Refill for you, Dave. Something wrong with your sting-ray?'
'No, I'm good.' Lanie waved him off before turning in her chair fully to towards him. 'So you're Dave?'
'I'm Dave. Robbins,' he added, holding out his hand. 'Dave Robbins. I'm a paramedic with Saint Vincent's.'
'I thought you looked familiar. Doctor Lanie Parrish.'
'Lanie. Is that short for something?'
'Elenia.' Lanie paused, momentarily wondering if she'd ever shared that detail with her friends before. They just knew her as Lanie. The thought was gone in the next instant, as Dave flashed his own smile and Lanie went a little buttery.
'Elenia Parrish. That is very pretty. What kind of doctor are you?'
'A pathologist. I work with the OCME office.'
'And you had to do an autopsy on someone you knew? No,' he self-corrected after a sip of his beer. 'You'd be a lot sadder if that was the case. The only other thing I can think is it's a break-up of some kind or another.'
'Or another,' Lanie echoed, stirring the chunk of pineapple on the plastic sword around in her martini glass. 'I had a crush on this detective out of the Twelfth Precinct, I'd flirt with him from time to time over a body, and then, tonight when I was going to get my courage up and tell him how I felt...' Lanie trailed off, gulped some of her drink. 'I had to call him in for details on an autopsy from one of his cases and he showed up to my office with woman's lipstick on his mouth.'
'He's a cross-dresser?'
Lanie laughed again in spite of herself. 'No, it was from kissing another woman. He'd been on a date, and he was...you know how you can tell when someone's got stars in their eyes after a first date? That's how he looked when he talked about Meredeth, the woman he was out with.'
'Ah, that blows, Lanie. I'm sorry. Clearly this guy doesn't know what he's missing out on.'
'You've known me for all of five minutes.'
'And I learned your name, you're a medical examiner, that you like a strong drink when you're upset, and you're a kind enough person to give me a chance. And you're looking sad again so look out, here comes another bad dirty joke.'
By one-thirty, Lanie hated to admit it, but she was enjoying hanging out with Dave. He kept telling her those bad dirty jokes to keep her mood light, off her troubles. She'd only had the one drink, switched to Diet Coke afterwards since she didn't want to float away on a river of self-pity and gin, and she certainly didn't want this guy to think her some sad and pathetic woman who used the excuse of an unrequited crush to get shit-faced.
'Okay, that one was really bad,' she laughed at him. 'Six-point-nine.'
'First time I heard that, I was so grossed out, I didn't...' Dave trailed off, drained his glass before he looked at his watch. 'Listen, I'd like to stay and chat but I'm on shift at seven tomorrow morning.'
'Oh of course.' Lanie smiled at him, glad to have had a single-serving friend like him. 'It was nice talking to you, and thanks for cheering me up.'
'Well, who knows, you and this Meredeth friend of Javier's just might hit it off and become best gal-pals.'
'Listen, this might seem a little forward, but could I, ah...get your number?' Dave asked, scratching the back of his neck.
'You want my number?'
'Yeah. You could meet me for a drink again sometime. You know, keep me updated on the drama.'
'Sure, I guess,' Lanie decided impulsively. 'It's two-one-two, five-zero-eight, six-two-eight-six.'
Dave keyed it into his cellphone, then tossed some bills on the bar. 'It was lovely meeting you, Elenia. I'll be in touch soon.'
He smiled at her once more, and left, leaving Lanie staring at her empty glass. She counted what he'd tossed on the bar and realized he'd also paid for her double sting-ray and her Cokes, as well as his own drinks. That he'd be so considerate when he'd just met her had her shaking her head all the way to her subway stop. She'd just boarded the train when she felt the buzz in her pocket; fishing out her Blackberry, she looked at the incoming text from an Unknown Number.
There, now you have my number too. Take care and talk soon. D-R.