Title: The Goddess Wants to Play

Rating: T

Timeline: Mid-Season 3 AU.

Summary: Beckett's friend Carly visits the precinct during Season 3.

Disclaimer: I do not own Castle or the recognizable characters who appear in this story. Any other names, for characters or businesses, are fictional or uncompensated.

A/N: I get a kick out of stories that mess with the established timeline. For this little story, I've plucked Beckett's friend Carly from 6x19 (The Way of the Ninja) and imagined what might've happened had she visited the precinct several years earlier. Just as a quick reminder, when Beckett was telling Castle about her friend, she said "You are exactly her type. And the last thing I need is to watch someone from my past trying to seduce my fiancé while talking about the goddess that lives in her hoo-ha." So, buckle up, here comes a much different take on season three than my last story. Quick warning: I don't write 'M' fics, but that doesn't mean the discussions won't get risqué.

Tuesday, Late Morning

"Hey, Becks," Esposito calls out with amusement as he walks into the bullpen, "forget anything?"

Refusing to look up from the paperwork that's vexing her as she races to complete the documentation demanded by the DA's office, Beckett growls an answer. "Yeah, to break your kneecaps for calling me 'Becks.'"

"Would you prefer 'Katie'?" asks a feminine voice, instantly collecting Beckett's attention.

"Carly! Oh my God, I totally forgot!" Beckett emits as she stands at her desk and strides over to greet her high-school friend who's visiting the city for a few days, and with whom she was supposed to go out to lunch.

"Look at you!" Carly marvels, pulling out of the hug and holding Beckett at arms' length to examine her. "You must be the most gorgeous detective in the city," Carly compliments, and Beckett's embarrassed to feel the leading edge of a faint blush. This is Carly, so unless she's changed, her innate competitiveness will prompt a comment that'll reclaim some of the ground ceded by these kind words, but she'll take them for now.

"Makes me feel bad about coming straight from the airport," Carly says with a hand that primps her hair. It's an act, of course, since she looks fantastic. She's still petite – an active gymnast in high school and college, it looks like she's still at it based on the toned arms and legs highlighted by her flowy, sleeveless blouse, knee-length skirt, and sexy heels. But it's her hair that still commands attention. Carly was blessed with a head of devastatingly perfect thick, curly hair. "But I didn't want to be late for our lunch outing, so I just dashed over."

"Oh, Carly, about that…," Beckett starts to explain, wondering how her friend will react to a postponement.

"Don't you even 'Oh, Carly,' me," she replies with a perched brow. "How often am I in town? Plus, you've got to eat, right?"

One of the problems with her friend coming from money, Beckett realizes anew, is that she's never really appreciated the necessity of meeting job requirements and responsibilities. But there's no way Beckett can leave without finishing the documentation for the DA's office.

"I'm really sorry…," Beckett starts again, before being cut off again.

"Come on, Becks," Carly commands, causing more smirks from Ryan and Esposito who are deriving entirely too much pleasure from watching Beckett get worked over by someone she can't boss around. Of course, they're both drooling a little bit, too, so she'll have to settle their hash later. "I saw the most darling place on the ride over. It reminds me of the best little patisserie in Paris, this little place on Rue Rougemont. It shut down, but it had the cutest…," she trails off her attention is captured by Castle, who saunters over from the break room with coffee in hand.

With his eyes on Carly, Castle hands the coffee mug to Beckett before completing the motion to hold his hand out to the visitor. As Carly clasps his hand, Beckett finally remembers her manners.

"You've already met Esposito," Beckett says, though Carly's focus on Castle is so complete that it's unclear whether she's hearing anything. "And his partner, Ryan. This is…"

"Rick," Castle cuts in smoothly as he lifts Carly's hand and graces it with a gentle kiss, never taking his eyes off hers.

"Carly," Beckett's friend replies in a low, smoky voice, apparently forgetting that there's anyone else in the room.

"Forgive my presumption," Castle requests smoothly, "I couldn't help but overhear. Were you talking about the place with the green door on Rougemont?" When Carly finally nods after realizing that she'd frozen up, Castle offers a wide smile. "Good news – it didn't shut down. Joséphine moved to a new place over by Galerie d'Orléans on Rue de Montpensier."

"That is good news," Carly answers with an unfurling smile of her own. "That place was my second-favorite in Paris. It's almost as good as Zatarra's in…"

"Marseilles?" Castle answers. "You're right, their bouillabaisse is divine. What about Salut! in…,"

"London, obviously," Carly answers with a grin, enjoying this game. Ryan and Esposito, meanwhile, keep swiveling their necks to watch the back-and-forth as if attending a tennis match. "They're a little heavy with the garlic, but not as bad they are with the pepper at Gregor's…," she offers as a tease, curious to see if Castle knows the place.

"In St. Petersburg, right?" Castle returns the volley, failing to notice Beckett's upturned brows at the reference to a Russian location. "If I want to eat there again, you'll have to sneak me in," Castle offers with a conspiratorial whisper. "Ol' Gregor and I had a bit of a disagreement."

"Oh, dear," Carly laughs, giving the same chiming giggle that Beckett remembers her using when they were younger. From Castle's look, it's even more potent now. "A troublemaker, are you? Better stay away from The Blushing Lady in…"

"Shanghai," Castle answers with a grin. "But really, how am I supposed to stay away from a place with a name like that?" he asks with a rakish grin. "I adore blushing ladies."

Carly accommodates on cue, to Beckett's disgust.

"What about Es Terral?" Carly asks, looking triumphant when Castle draws a blank. "Ha! I win! What's the matter, Rick, never been to Ibiza?"

Now Castle's the one who's blushing. Carly senses something interesting, but the rest of the team leans in, too, since not much manages to dent Castle's ego.

"Ibiza…," Castle repeats, finally releasing Carly's hand so he can run his fingers through his hair. "I've been there. Didn't get out much," he admits with a shrug. "Just the book signing and the hotel," he clarifies, though his blush darkens by a degree.

"Book signing?" Carly asks, before illumination strikes her. "You're Richard Castle!" Spinning to face Beckett, she admonishes her friend. "This is the annoying writer who always gets in your way?" she asks incredulously. Facing away from him, she fails to notice Castle's flinch at this description, though Beckett cringes in recognition.

That's not a fair characterization of her comments, but before Beckett can explain or offer an apology, Carly's already spun back to face Castle. "Wait a minute. You didn't leave the hotel while you were staying on a beautiful Mediterranean island?" she purrs as she walks around to his side and wraps her arm through his. "There must've been quite a distraction."

"What I can remember of it, yeah," Castle answers with a short laugh.

"So, Rick, why don't you tell me all about it over lunch?" Carly entreats in a breathy voice. "Kate here's trying to ditch me anyway, so why don't you show me the best New York has to offer?" she asks while giving him a lingering look from head to toe.

"Carly, I was just going to delay…," Beckett starts to suggest, strangely uncomfortable with how things have developed, but her friend cuts her off yet again.

"Maybe dinner, Becks?" she calls out over her shoulder as she pulls Castle toward the elevator. "I'm in town until I leave for my yoga retreat on Friday morning. I'll call!" she offers in what Beckett thinks is an insincere tone. But the elevator doors are already sliding shut, preventing a reply.

Beckett's still looking at the elevator in disbelief when Ryan startles her.

"Wow," he offers, eyebrows raised. "That was…"

"I know, right?" Esposito replies when Ryan says nothing more, looking at the elevator himself. "I mean, I didn't believe the stories, but it's different after seeing him in action."

"Must be nice to be a famous author," Ryan ponders, but Esposito starts shaking his head.

"I don't know, bro," he disagrees. "She was pretty in to him before she knew who he was. Still, probably didn't hurt."

"'Mating rituals of the rich and famous,'" Ryan suggests. "If feels like Robin Leach should be narrating."

"Nah," Esposito replies as he finally starts moving towards his desk. "The kind of show they'd be in wouldn't have a narrator, just a generic techno backbeat. I swear, it looked like he could've just swept Beckett's desk clear and taken her friend…," he pauses suddenly, realizing Beckett's listening with an eyebrow cocked, "out to lunch."

"Speaking of lunch," Ryan interjects quickly, noticing Beckett's look only became frostier after Espo's attempted course correction, "just because Beckett's working through it doesn't mean I'm not hungry. I know a lovely little food truck that reminds me of the most darling little eatery in Florence," he teases, noticing the corner of Beckett's lips turning up.

"Must you?" Esposito replies with a ridiculous accent, some mangled stew of Mafioso, Cockney, and snob. "I'm feeling peckish for some nosh from a right little shop that reminds me of dive in Brisbane."

"Smashing!" Ryan replies, marching smartly up beside Esposito and offering an elbow. "Let us depart!"

When they stride off to the stairs with arms linked and drawing many odd looks, Beckett finally gives up and lets a chuckle rumble free. Shaking her head at their ridiculousness, she slides back into her chair and returns to her paperwork.

Tuesday, Late Afternoon

"So, Becks, what'm I dealing with here?" Beckett hears her friend ask as soon as she answers her cell phone. She's still sitting at her desk, still working on the DA's paperwork, and still hasn't eaten, so she's not in the best mood.

"Carly? Where are you?" she asks her friend, trying to switch gears and figure out what her friend's asking.

"I'm at Rick's place," Carly offers boldly, smile apparent from her tone. "In his bedroom."

"What are you doing in Castle's bedroom?!" Beckett asks, astonished at the speed of this development. Her shock is mirrored by Ryan and Esposito, though she suspects there are other aspects of this development capturing their attention. To limit the gossip, she rises from her desk and heads for the stairs.

"I'm snooping, obviously," Carly answers with limited patience.

"Snoop – where's Castle?" Beckett asks, growing annoyed that all she's done is fire off questions.

"In the shower," Carly laughs. "I 'accidentally' spilled some wine on him while we were cooking."

At this, Beckett pulls the phone away from her ear and gives it a hard stare, making sure that it's actually connected and that it shows Carly's number. "Carly?" she asks as she returns the phone to her ear. "You don't cook."

"Becks, if a rich, famous, hunky man wants to make dinner with me, I cook."

"I thought we were having dinner together?" she asks, ignoring the uncomfortable feeling stealing over her as she imagines Carly flitting about the loft's kitchen.

"Ah, no," Carly says clearly, not sounding very contrite. "Sorry, but have you *seen* Rick? Maybe lunch tomorrow," she suggests. "Hopefully, a late one," she appends with a sultry voice.

"What," Beckett fires off sarcastically, "you're not inviting me over to try out the dinner you slaved over?"

"Are you kidding?" Carly replies immediately. "I already have to share his attention with Alyssa."

"Alexis," Beckett offers.

"Yeah, her," Carly continues without a care and without missing a beat. "But I'm hoping he'll take me out after dinner."

"Is Martha joining you?" Beckett asks, wondering how much reconnaissance and planning Carly's managed.

"Who's that, the nanny?" Carly asks, perplexed. "Can't be a lady – there's no pictures in his room."

"She's his mother," Beckett explains, laughing to herself as she imagines Martha's reaction to the supposition that she 'can't be a lady.' "She lives in the loft."

"He lives with his mother?" Carly asks incredulously. "I knew there had to be some problem."

"She fell on some hard times and he opened his home to her," Beckett offers, feeling it's important to recognize Castle's generosity after her earlier uncharitable comment hurt him.

"Oh," Carly offers, sounding immensely happier. "Okay. That'd have to change."

"What?" Beckett asks in surprise. "What would have to change?"

"So, mother and daughter. Anyone else I need to know about?" Carly asks, ignoring Beckett's question.

"He works with his ex-wife," Beckett offers, getting annoyed by this conversation and reveling in the chance to throw some kinks into Carly's plans. "She's his editor, lives here in town. And he's got another ex in Hollywood."

"Everyone knows about them," Carly dismisses in a tone that has Beckett imaging rolled eyes. "The redhead's a terrible actress who'll sleep with anybody and the blonde's someone he turns to when he's hurt," she recites blandly as if this information is available in a public dossier. "I'm not worried about either of them."

"What do you mean, everyone knows about them?" Beckett objects. "You didn't even know who Castle was this morning!"

"I knew all about Richard Castle," Carly objects, "I just didn't recognize him. Your description certainly didn't do him any justice."

By design, Beckett thinks. To avoid exactly this situation, she thinks, though she's careful not to explore her own rationale.

"Anybody else to know about aside from the ex-wives?" Carly persists.

"Nothing serious," Beckett grates out, still thinking about the assertion that Castle returns to Gina when he's hurt and last year's bungled timing with Demming. "Not that I know of." When Carly remains quiet, Beckett thinks she's fishing, so she removes the final hurdle. "And nothing here. We're just partners."

"Of course you are," Carly replies with a chuckle, as if this was completely obvious. But before Beckett can press her about what she meant, her friend interjects again. "Gotta go, just heard the shower turn off."

"What, time to strip down and jump into his bed?" Beckett asks sarcastically, still stung by Carly's casual dismissal of the notion that she and Castle might be more than work partners.

But her jibe accomplishes nothing but a laugh from her friend. "Oh, Becks," she says in exasperation. "That's not how this works. He's got to work for it, strive for it, be *desperate* for it. He wants to commune with the goddess, he needs to worship," she says with a laugh. "I'll tell you about it at lunch tomorrow, unless we're still busy!"

With that farewell, Carly ends the call, leaving Beckett staring incredulously at her phone. She jolts in surprise when it rings in her hand, this time showing Montgomery's number. "Beckett, where are you? The DA wants those forms!"

With a sigh, Beckett turns to head back to her desk. On the way, she remembers that she was supposed to meet Josh for lunch tomorrow. Great. Well, he'll get to meet Carly. After she makes her play for Castle. What could that possibly go wrong? she thinks fatalistically, laughing grimly as she trudges up the stairs.