Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I watched the show.
It's 93 sticky degrees out, and on the theory that cold air might jump start his dormant brain cells, he's thinking about turning the air conditioning down to its lowest setting, 58 degrees, and immersing his feet in a tub of ice.
Oh. Wait. Maybe not. He's suffering from brain freeze, brain freeze that's now 37 days long. Why would cold air and colder water help unthaw his brain? What kind of science is that? He's not a scientist. Is it too late to go back to school and study science? Any kind, he's not picky. He's got plenty of money, so he wouldn't need a scholarship. That might have some weight with an admissions office. Colleges are always hungry for money.
Huh. Maybe not that, either. He has no gift for science.
One thing his frozen brain does know is this: it's apparently time for him to find another line of work. His greatest gift, imagination, has abandoned him. He hasn't written a word–not counting grocery lists and texts to his daughter–in 37 days. Even his texts, which he used to take pride in for their ingenuity and wittiness, if he does say so, have become as boring as–. As boring as what? He can't even come up with a decent simile.
He's not entirely sure that he has a job with the NYPD any more, either. He'd gone off to the Hamptons with Gina for the summer, but that had lasted until only 9:37 a.m. on Memorial Day. She thought that he talked too goddamn much about Beckett. Those were her very words, until they had a serious fight, which she brought to an end with, "Why don't you do your usual, Rick? Just fuck her and check her off your Got Lucky, Got Laid List." She'd slammed the door, packed her suitcases, called for a car, and left. He'd never seen her move that fast. If he hadn't been so angry, he'd have commented on it. Zinged her as she deserved to be zinged. But it doesn't matter now.
After moping around the beach house for a few weeks, he'd decided that the city might spark something, and he'd driven back to the loft. Yet here he is, eleven days later, and zilch. A visit to the Twelfth might help, but he hasn't dared. There would be questions, and he doesn't want to answer. Worse, far worse, he might catch sight of Demming. Or worstest, which even he in his pathetic state realizes isn't a word, he might catch sight of Demming and Beckett together.
He's a desperate man. A desperate man who's also hungry. At least he can do something about that. A new Shake Shack opened around the corner last Saturday, and as a connoisseur of haute cuisine, fast-food division, he owes it to himself to give it a test run.
Not long after, he's lying on the sofa, polishing off a double bacon-cheeseburger, a large order of fries, and a chocolate shake. Mentally, he gives it all four stars. Sucking noisily on the straw, he contemplates dessert. He hadn't bought any. Not that the freezer doesn't have plenty to offer, but maybe reading will be a satisfying follow-up. He gets up and goes to his office, running his eyes over shelf after shelf of books. Nothing is calling out to him until he reaches his own section. He'd intended to skip it as too depressing, now that he's incapable of writing, but he stops at Heat Wave. Why? Because it describes the weather? No. Because it's sticking out from its place maybe half an inch? Maybe. He realigns it, stares at it, and then slips it from the bookcase. He passes it from one hand to the other, back and forth, over and over, like a one-man bucket brigade. Hey, there's a simile! But it sucks. Especially as he's anything but on fire.
After flopping back down on the sofa, he starts to read, occasionally returning to a sentence or a whole paragraph, wondering if he could have done anything better. He certainly can't now. Shit, what a soul-destroying thought. He pushes himself up and returns to his office, not for a different book but for a brand-new bottle of single malt and a glass, which he clutches to the front of his wrinkled tee shirt and carries to the coffee table.
He knows that he should drink the Glenlivet more slowly, savor it, roll it around in his mouth, reflect on its many virtues, but he doesn't. He wants to get drunk. Get drunk while he reads about Nikki and Rook, the barely disguised alter egos of Beckett and him. In four gulps he reaches the bottom of the glass, and refills it. "This is eighteen years old," he says halfway through, gazing fondly at the label as though he'd made some newsworthy discovery. "Hey! This drink is old enough to drink."
Ten pages later, the second Scotch already a fuzzy-edged memory, he skips ahead to the memorable page 105. He tries to read it with clinical detachment, but no luck. "Their kisses were deep and urgent, familiar all at once, her tongue finding the depths and sweetness of his open mouth while he explored hers." Jesus. Deep and urgent. He extends his arm, manages to pour more booze in the glass, and with a shaky hand takes a few sips. Deep and urgent. He closes his eyes for a moment, reopens them, and focuses on the text. "One of his hands began to reach for her blouse but hesitated. She clutched it and placed it on her breast. The heat of the room was tropical."
The heat of this room is more tropical by the minute.
And just like that, he knows the answer to his problem. He needs his muse. He'll go see his muse. Just for a minute. Just long enough to see her in the flesh, uh, in person. Maybe hear her laugh, if he can make her laugh. That's all the magic his writer's imagination needs, he's sure of it. A booster shot of Beckett. Simple as that. She's complex, but the solution is simple.
He shoves his bare feet into a pair of sneakers, fetches a bottle of extraordinarily good red wine from the rack, puts his phone, keys, and wallet in his pocket, and heads for the elevator.
One good thing about a stifling midsummer weeknight in Manhattan is that most people are smart enough to stay indoors. He has his pick of cabs on Broome Street, and picks a shiny, mini-SUV.
"This a new ride?" he asks the driver, after giving him Beckett's address.
"Yeah. Three days."
"I figured. It smells really good. Someone should make an aftershave called New Car Smell."
The driver chuckles. "Nice, man. You an inventor or something?"
"Not sure what I am, but thanks." He's so pleased by the compliment that when the car pulls up to the curb he gives the guy a fifty, even though the meter says six bucks twenty.
He's just stepped into the tiny outer lobby when a couple comes out through the inner door, and holds it open for him. He nods his thanks, and in a rush to get to her place takes the stairs. It's only when he's ringing her doorbell that it occurs to him that he probably should have buzzed her from downstairs. What if Demming's here? Damn it. He's in the middle of an awkward pivot when he hears a metallic scratch–the unmistakable sound of a peephole opening–followed by the door opening.
"Guilty," he says, turning back to her door. "I mean, not guilty. Of something. Whatever."
"Aren't you supposed to be in the Hamptons?"
"Fate had other plans."
"Gina. Formerly known as Fate."
"She wanted the two of you to come back to the city?"
"No, she came back to the city, um, a long time ago. I have to think." He presses the bottle of wine against his sweaty forehead. There's no central air in this building, although the fact that she's standing less than two feet away from him, dressed only in shorts and a tank top, might be the reason he's sweating. "May thirty-first. She came back May thirty-first. That was Memorial Day, right? I'm a little foggy right now."
"Or a little drunk. Or a lot."
"Yeah. But not so foggy I don't remember that she left. Went back to her apartment. By herself. I don't know, she could be in a spa somewhere or a writer's colony. No, she'd never be in one of those. Too rustic. Plus she's not a writer. But neither am I. Any more."
"What do you mean," she asks, shifting slightly on her bare feet, "you're not a writer any more?"
"That's why I came back. Ten days ago. No eleven. That's after ten, right? Trying to write at the loft. Not working. Can't write." Without planning to, he takes a step towards her. "I haven't talked to Gina since May thirty-first." He looks blearily at his fingers, counting backwards on them. "But I haven't talked to you since before. Since May twenty-eighth." He swallows hard. "Could I come in for a minute?"
"You know what time it is?"
"Midnight. Give or take."
"Would you be willing to give a little and let me in? Please?" She's glaring, sort of, but he can't hear anyone else inside. "Unless, you know, Demming's here."
She looks at the floor. "Not here. Okay, come in. For a minute."
"Can you drink a glass of bordeaux in a minute? It's Château Margaux." He trips over the lintel but she grabs him by the elbow and he stays upright.
"I think you've had enough wine, Castle."
"Not a drop. Haven't had a drop."
She arches her eyebrows and his knees go weak. She's so much sexier than Nikki. Nikki whose tongue was in his mouth less than an hour ago. Not a real tongue, even if it felt like it. What's the word for something that's not real? Oh, he's got it. Figurative. Figuratively her tongue was in his mouth. Deep and urgent. Oh, God.
"You okay Castle?"
"Yup. Gonna sit down."
"Good idea." She points towards her sofa. "Over there."
He makes it there without falling over anything else, including his feet. Oh, hey, his shoelaces are untied. It's easier to take off his sneakers than to tie knots, so he toes them off. He'd left in such a hurry that he'd missed putting on socks. Will she mind? He looks sideways and sees that she's uncorking the wine. Her feet are bare, so she probably won't be offended by his. Look at those polished toenails. They're pink. He'd never have pegged her for pink. Red, yeah. Probably as a teenager she painted them black. He likes the pink. He feels in the pink just seeing her. Think pink. That's what he's doing. Thinking pink.
His rosy reverie is interrupted by the clink of two wine glasses as she sets them on the coffee table. Ordinarily he'd hate having a Beckett-centric daydream brought to a halt, but when the person responsible is in fact the star of the daydream, well.
"I'm letting this breathe," she says, nodding toward the wine. "Just for a couple of minutes."
"Fine," he says. More than fine, fantastic. The more minutes the better.
"It also gives you a little bit of time to sober up. I should be giving you coffee and saving the wine for me."
"Told you I haven't had any."
"Right, you had something with a far higher alcohol content. Let me see if I can guess. Single malt."
"It's like you're clairvoyant, Beckett. You should open a fortune-telling stand."
"Uh, huh." She pins him down with her eyes. This must be what a hapless perp feels like sitting opposite her in interrogation. He'd confess to anything at this point. "So, what's this about not being able to write, Castle?"
Thank God. She hasn't said anything about the elephant he'd brought into the room, namely, Gina. And he's not going to say anything about her elephant, either. Detective Dumbo Demming. "I'm a block head. Never had writer's block go on so long. Ever. Can't write a freaking word."
Her eyes are still boring into him, but they're softer. "I'm sorry, Castle. That has to be tough."
"It is." Her hair is in a pony tail, but one strand has just come loose and has tumbled down the far right side of her face. In between the end of her cheekbone and the beginning of her ear, which has suddenly become a magnetic erogenous zone. He should look elsewhere, but he can't. Yes, he can. He may be drunk, but he's still able to move his eyes. He shifts his glance a few inches and it lands on her mouth. Right smack on her lips, which she must have just licked because they look wet.
"You mean besides the fact that I have to find another thing to do for the next forty-five years because I can't write?"
"No. Because you're staring at me."
"You are. My chin, I think. Do I have food on my chin?" She swipes a palm over the area in question, which isn't, in fact the area in question.
He shakes his head, a little too vigorously. It makes him feel loopy. "I should have brought something for us to eat with the wine. Amuse-bouches."
"It sounds a lot better from you. Very sexy, if you don't mind my saying so. It's, you know, a bite-size something, like a tiny appetizer. It means mouth amuser."
"I know what it is, Castle. Why would you bring amuse-bouches with you in the middle of the night?"
"Because–." Uh, oh. "Because." He cranes his neck. "You sure Demming isn't here? Or coming over?"
"Why the hell would he be?"
"Because you two, were, you know."
"Not any more."
"Good. I mean sorry."
"Don't be. Anyway. If your alcohol-infused brain can get back to the question, why did you think you should have brought amuse-bouches? A term, incidentally, that I've never heard you use. Not once in the hundreds of hours I've heard you talk about food."
"You're my muse." He hadn't meant to say it, although it's true, and it's the reason he's here. Her cheeks redden and he's ecstatic. He's hardly ever seen her blush. "A muse, not amuse, although you do amuse me. That's not it."
"You're rambling, Castle."
"You're trying to change the subject, Beckett." He's suddenly aware that she's closer to him than she was a moment ago. How had that happened? Oh, he's leaning into her, that's how. But she hasn't moved away. That's good. "You're my muse. I need you for inspiration. And I've been thinking about your bouche all day. Your mouth. Your lips, really. Your lips are amazing. Did you know that? I think that I'd be very inspired if I could kiss them. If you would let me kiss them. You. Let me kiss you, on the lips. What do you think?"
A/N I have been enduring the same problem as Castle since August 1, exactly three months, and that's new for me. I mentioned it to Roadrunnerz in an email the other day and she said, "You should write a story about Castle having writer's block." So here I am, grateful to her for pointing me in the right direction. I hope it's the simple solution to a complex problem.