Quite the Irony

Summary: The companion piece to Quite the Character (aka this will make more sense if you've read that story first). I don't much like it so I'm very open to some constructive feedback. Our dashing author has no idea he based the Nikki Heat love interest character on his own subconscious feelings for his muse...will our feisty detective be just as clueless?

"So how bad is it?" asked Esposito in hushed tones, as he furtively glanced over his shoulder to make sure Beckett wasn't within earshot. He was having a secret lunch with Ryan and Lanie and the last thing he needed was Beckett hearing this conversation.

"Haven't you read the book yet?" asked Ryan irritably, as he waved the approaching waiter away. This was a covert discussion.

"I've been busy, okay, I got a wife and kids at home." Unlike Lanie and Ryan, Esposito didn't have the time to become a rabid fan of Castle's books. Not even when Castle had kindly presented all of them with advanced copies of his new Nikki Heat novel.

Lanie rolled her eyes. "He wrote a love interest for Nikki Heat. Whose name is Nick Cast-, I mean, Haskell, and he's a writer and he helps her on her cases."

Esposito's mouth dropped open. "No," he said in a hushed tone.

"And," said Ryan. "Nikki supposedly hates him because he's come onto her turf and he's always teasing her and they're always bickering."

"No!"

"Yeah," said Lanie sarcastically.

Esposito shook his head, not knowing whether to laugh as Castle's obliviousness or cry at the thought of Beckett strangling Castle. "So if I want to find the book, I should go look at the nonfiction section?" Ryan snorted loudly. Esposito started to guffaw.

"Don't be laughing at this, it ain't funny," said Lanie tartly. "Bad enough girlfriend and writer boy act like that, what do you think it's going to be like once this book is out?" For some reason, that made them laugh even harder.

Ryan was laughing so hard, tears were actually rolling down his face. He reached for his napkin. "I, I can't believe, he's doing this," he choked out between guffaws. "What do you think Beckett will do to him?"

Speak of the devil...

"Hey, guys. What're you all doing?" Oh, my god. Beckett.

Lanie shot the others terrified looks as they quickly straightened their faces. "Hey, girl. What're you doing here, I thought you had a case?"

"I finished early. We got the guy this morning, paperwork all done, so I thought I'd get lunch. Mind if I join you? No more tables left." Before any of them could respond, Beckett pulled up a chair and sat down. "So what were you all laughing at?"

"Oh, I, uh, I don't know, I mean, I don't remember-"

"It was silly-"

"We should order, don't want to wait too long, get back to work before the Captain-"

Beckett looked at all of them in bewilderment. What was going on?

"Have you read Castle's new book yet?" Ryan suddenly blurted out as Lanie and Esposito shot him what-the-hell-are-you-doing looks.

"Yeah, I did," said Beckett calmly, picking up a menu. "Just finished it last night."

It was the other three's turn to exchange puzzled glances. Why didn't Beckett seem upset?

"So...what did you think?" asked Ryan cautiously.

"Of the book? Well, don't tell Castle I said this, last thing I need is him getting an even bigger head, but it's actually really great." Beckett paused, while the other three tried to keep from keeling over. "It's even better than the Derek Storm series - really tight story, good twist at the end, and Nikki Heat is a great character."

"So," said Lanie, sounding like she was pretending to think, "what did you think of, oh, uh, the reporter character?"

"Yeah, Beckett?" chimed in Esposito in the same tone of voice Lanie was using. "What was his name, Rick? Er I mean, Nick," he hastily corrected himself upon receiving another of Lanie's death glares.

"The potential love interest?" added Ryan, leaning forward, anxious to see Beckett's reaction as they all were.

Beckett looked at them completely non-plussed. "I thought he was fine," she said, taking a sip of her glass of water. "Well, he's flaky and annoying and a bit too hyper. It's a bit obvious how he and Nikki are supposed to get together eventually. Not really subtle writing there, I have to say. Don't tell Castle I said that!" she added quickly. "But come on! They're always fighting and she pretends not to like him and he pretends to be this great Casanova but he secretly likes her but they're not going to admit it to anyone how they really feel about each other?" Beckett snorted, shaking her head. "Kind of unrealistic, don't you think?"

Lanie's eyes immediately fell on her plate. Esposito quickly looked away and Ryan nearly choked on his drink.

"So," croaked Ryan in an attempt to regain his composure. "You know what Castle told me? He sometimes bases his characters on real people."

"No, really?" said Esposito in the fakest put-on voice he could muster.

Beckett rolled her eyes. "Well, of course. That's what he's doing here. You all know that."

"So tell me, Beckett...Nick Haskell? You think Castle based him on anyone in particular?"

Lanie and Esposito leaned forward. Surely, Beckett could see what was going on?

Beckett shrugged casually. "A composite character of writers who follow people to do research for their books?"

Then again, maybe not.

"So, you don't think that Nick Haskell sounds like anyone you know? Say, anyone who is a writer doing research and drinks coffee and, oh, helps you, er, I mean Nikki solve her cases and fights with her constantly?" The disbelief in Ryan's voice was unmistakable.

Beckett shrugged again. "Well, I know you drink a lot of coffee, Ryan, you practically live near that stupid coffee machine, and you and I have our disagreements, but no, I don't think Haskell is you. He's too twerpy. And too much of a man-child." Beckett paused, frowning. "Oh, and I don't think any guy would torture any woman he liked the way Haskell does instead of just telling her he likes her, or that any woman who was being treated that way wouldn't figure out that the guy likes her, especially since she likes him back. Wouldn't happen in real life." Beckett sipped her water. "It's like he's trying to hint that they'll get together, but the audience already knows it way before. Quite the irony, don't you think?"

Flabbergasted, the other three nodded weakly, not knowing what to say.

To their relief, their beepers went off, cutting the conversation short.

"Better go, we have a case," Beckett said briskly. "I'll see you guys at the crime scene." She walked off toward her car.

Lanie tossed some money on the table as Ryan and Esposito stood up, dazed.

"She...has no idea who 'Nick Haskell' really is," murmured Esposito.

"She thinks he's over the top and unrealistic," said an awed Ryan.

A long pause followed.

"She can't believe that a man and woman who annoy each other and fight all the time wouldn't admit that they secretly love each other," said Lanie.

Another pause.

"You know what?" said Ryan. "I'll bet even Castle couldn't make this stuff up."