The coffee shop door opened with a little jiggly sound. The smell immediately hit him, warm and strong. Foggy hummed in appreciation. Nothing like coffee to prepare you for an ungodly-early meeting with a client.
Once he got a steaming cup warming his palm, he scanned the room for a free booth. There were a lot of folks in the room, some chatting eagerly and some alone, reading the newspapers or looking at their phones. That's when his eyes fell on a familiar slim figure, with strawberry-blonde hair and a white shirt. He moved towards her.
She jumped a little and then half-twisted to look at him :
"Foggy ? What are you doing there ?"
He grinned mockingly.
"I'd have expected a 'good morning' at least, Karen. I have an appointment in, like, twenty minutes one block away and for the first time since ever I didn't miss the subway so I'm here early."
She nodded, then a smile eased itself across her features.
"Good morning, Foggy."
"Yeah, yeah, good morning to you too. By the way, what got the 'I'm-not-a-morning-person' Karen I know to be up at-" He made the gesture to look at an imaginary watch on his wrist. "- seven o'clock ? And also, is that seat taken ?" He added, pointing to the one in front of her.
She let out a little laugh, slipped back one of her locks behind her ear. Foggy suddenly noticed how nervous she looked, and how her eyes were always darting in the same direction, somewhere near the waiting line. He glanced in turn but didn't see anything blatantly unusual or even slightly worrying. Still, there was something wrong. He wondered if Karen spotted someone she was investigating on, or...
"Actually, the answer to both of your questions is kinda the same," Karen said, biting on her lower lip. "Yes, this seat is taken. And I'm up early because... because he had to go to work early and I still wanted to share a coffee with him."
Foggy froze for a split second.
"... what ?"
Then he leaned forward and whispered with a conspiratory look on his face, all threat of a mysterious suspect far from his mind.
"Would the independent and fierce journalist – who also happens to be my best friend – be dating someone ?"
Karen's cheeks turned a nice shade of pink before she covered her face with her hands, letting out a groan. Foggy slipped in the booth next to her, pushing her slim frame a little to the side so he could fit. His grin was so wide that it threatened to split his face in half.
"Who ? Why ? When ?", he asked excitedly. "And most importantly... when were you planning to tell me ?"
Karen peeked at him from in between her fingers. And then her gaze went a little higher up. She very visibly gulped down her saliva.
"Uh... Foggy, may I present you... uh... Pete."
Her friend smiled a last time at her, as to say "we aren't done with it", before turning to face the newcomer. As soon as his eyes landed on his face, his smile disappeared and the hand he was offering for a handshake just hanged limply.
"Oh good Lord", was the only thing that managed to escape his lips.
That was definitely not a "Pete" standing there in front of him. And all of a sudden, Foggy'd have preferred that the word "dating" never came out of his mouth this morning, because it fitted the newcomer at least as badly as the fake name – but unfortunately Karen's previous blushing had been a very obvious confirmation, one that he would have wished not to have.
"And I assume that you recognize Foggy", she added in an attempt to break the awkward silence.
"Give me that coffee, by the way. I need it."
She reached across the table for the cup still in Frank's hand. Their fingers brushed for just a few seconds longer than necessary.
"Hi", he finally rasped, turning to Foggy again.
The smaller man stayed mute, still having not recovered from the initial shock.
"You're supposed to be dead, not... uh... dating Karen ?" He eventually said with an abnormally high-pitched voice.
He had said those last words with a face that told it made him feel slightly sick and Karen suppressed a laugh.
"Um, yeah, yeah. Still don't believe it either, tho."
She looked up at him, caught his gaze and couldn't help but let a fond smile blossomed on her face.
"Let's get out, it would be better to talk," Karen finally said after a few seconds of them just standing there, motionless, looking down at each other. Well, Frank was the one truly looking down while the smaller man tried his best.
Foggy got up and repressed the urge to make up a job emergency to excuse himself from the conversation to come. As much as he wanted to, he also needed to talk his friend out of this... nonsense ?
"I'm a big girl, you know," Karen whispered to him as she walked past, just as if she could have caught his thoughts.
"You also tend to run straight into danger," he fired back... loud enough for Frank to hear.
"See, ma'am, I'm not the only one to think that."
Karen looked at the two of them in turn then shook her head in disbelief.
"Well, at least that makes you guys a common ground, uh ? Also," she added in a whisper, grabbing Frank's arm, "you're one to talk, Castle."
He scoffed. Around them, New York was buzzing as always, roaring of cars and cabs on the road, rustling of feet against the asphalt and quiet conversations. A soft smell of coffee still lingered in the air, coming from the dinner they just got out of.
"So you are... Pete now ?" Foggy eventually said in an attempt to break the silence that was threatening to settle in.
"Yeah. Pete Castiglione."
Foggy frowned slightly.
"It sounds oddly Italian."
"Well, my family is."
That earned him a surprised look from Karen.
Frank hummed in response.
"Castiglione is my birth name, actually."
That time she stopped dead in her tracks.
"... What ?"
"Francis Castiglione, to be specific." He added with a grin, amused by her shocked expression.
"I changed it when I entered the Marine corps."
He shrugged :
"My parents kicked me out as soon as I turned eighteen. Was pretty pissed at them back then, so..."
He trailed off.
Foggy looked away. He remembered that Karen, one or two months ago, had said that you had to know someone before judging them – of course, they were talking about someone in particular. Well, that particular aspect of this someone's life wasn't going to make him change his mind, because how the hell did you even manage to get evicted by your own parents ?
"And how come I didn't know that earlier ?" Karen went on.
"You never asked." Frank tilted his head a bit, smiling again. "What, did it frustrate your inner investigative journalist ?"
She looked a bit offended, then laughed :
"There does is a lot of things I don't know about you... Francis."
He made a face.
"If you ever call me like that again, Karen, I swear I'll knock you down."
She elbowed him in the ribs, but her smile faded when she caught Foggy's gaze.
"Foggy, he didn't mean that literally," she reassured him, rolling her eyes.
He mumbled something that sounded too much like "you don't know that" according to her tastes. Frank shot them both an interrogative look.
"I think Foggy is still scared of you," she explained.
"Well, means he at least got some sense in him, unlike you, ma'am. But-" he added, speaking to Foggy, serious again. "But I swear you have nothing to fear from me. And I won't hurt Karen or let anything happen to her, not ever. Not ever."
His voice broke slightly on the last words and Karen's grip on his arm tightened.
"Hey, tone down on the chivalrous 'I'm gonna protect you', big guy," she said in an attempt to lift the mood again.
"I made you a promise, Karen."
"Uh-uh. I know."
It all sounded sincere, and that was the moment Foggy decided that maybe, maybe Frank really could make Karen happy.
Actually, the "birth name" part is from the comics - made me laugh when I ran across it so I had to include it in a fic at some point ;)
Also I can't believe the show got cancelled :( :(