The club was jumping, and all the furniture seemed to vibrate with the thump of the bass. But despite all the noise and cramped conditions of too many sweaty bodies, there was a bubble of calm around one of the corner booths. Two women sat there, tall glasses of obviously fancy cocktails in front of them, a half dozen empties testifying to a serious drinking session.

Once in a while, a man braver than most would wander over and proposition one or the other – the tall pale brunette with legs that obviously led to some kind of heaven, and her shorter but more well-endowed companion with chocolate skin and dark curls framing a cherubic face. But as soon as he'd step within range, he would be cut down by a glare from the brunette, her no nonsense facial expression clearly telling him to move on and not waste her time.

The conversation was easy and fun, and the dark skinned woman raised her arm for another round of drinks.

"Right, girl, enough of the fluffy stuff, we need to get onto the strong drink now" Lanie stated, then ordered a round of Tequila shots for the two of them.

"Oh, sure, Lanie, but you know I can drink you under the table. You even warned Castle about that, remember?" there was a momentary furrow in her brow, but it was gone so quickly it may never have shown. But of course Lanie knew her best friend, and she could recall very clearly exactly when that event occurred. How it led to a miserable summer for Kate, and it was only now, in October, with Castle back in the precinct and no sign of Gina that Kate had started to seem herself again.

Their conversation continued between drinks, two girls catching up on their life happenings, and gossiping about the people they knew. Both trusted the other completely, so let their hair down and released their deepest thoughts and desires. Well, sort of. Lanie decided that Kate needed a little more 'encouragement' to own up to hers. Time for Operation Kiss-Marry-Kill.

"You know, Javi is great and all, but sometimes, I don't know if I want to kiss or kill him" Lanie started, to be interrupted by Kate's chuckle.

"Yeah, I know what you mean, although I have never been tempted to kiss him. Eww, that would be like kissing my brother" Kate pulled a face and shivered at the thought, while it was Lanie's turn to chuckle.

"Yeah, girlfriend, and don't even think about it. That hunk of man is all mine! But let's see, who else" she paused for a second, as if she was thinking; "Yeah, who else would you Kiss, Marry or Kill?"

"Huh?" Kate asked, not quite following her friend's train of thought, the first sign that the alcohol was starting to affect her.

"Remember the games we used to play in school, about which boy we would like to kiss, marry or kill? Let's do the grown up version of that. I'll start. Perlmutter. He is definitely on the kill list for me" Lanie shuddered. The Senior ME was not popular.

"Oh, yeah," Kate replied." He is definitely on my kill list, can't even think about the other two options, and I don't think he ever has." Both of them laughed at that, picturing Perlmutter as the ultimate bachelor.

"What about Ryan?" Kate asked. "I mean, he's like my little brother most of the time, but I think he's a kiss or kill too".

"Yes, I think you are right. He and Javi are so much alike, they really do make a great team." Lanie agreed, casting a sly look at her friend and pushing another shot towards her.

They continued back and forth, mentioning a few more of the guys they both knew, both at OCME and at the precinct, until Lanie thought Kate was ready for the big one.

"And what about writer boy, Kate? I would definitely kiss him, you know. That ass, man, he sure has the goods."

"Yeah, sometimes all three," Kate responded, and then slapped her hand over her mouth when she realised what she had just let slip. Her eyes slowly tracked up to Lanie's, and widened when she realised it was what her friend was working towards the whole time.

"Girl, you need to tell that man how you feel, and get your freak on already! You know he worships the ground you walk on, and I haven't seen you smile and laugh as much as you have in the last two years. I'm not telling you to marry him straight away, but take a chance once in your life."

Kate's phone rang just then, and her partner's smiling face lit up the screen.

"And there is no better time than right now. I wonder if his ears were burning?" Lanie grinned and pushed the phone towards Kate.

A/N Thanks to fembot77 for the prompt on tumblr for the Castle Flash-Fiction Challenge –

"It's Kiss, Marry, OR Kill … OR, not AND" written in an hour, so be gentle with me