aman_icon.gif castle_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title Uninvited
Synopsis Sometimes uninvited guests are welcome.
Date November 14, 2020

Aman's Place

It’s morning.

And there’s the distinct smell of eggs and cheese and sausage and hashbrowns and all the sounds of things cooking coming from downstairs in the kitchen.

But it’s not Aman downstairs cooking. It’s not Isaac downstairs cooking. When they wake up to the smells and start to get pulled from their beds, it is neither of them that is downstairs in the kitchen. It isn’t even the food that was in the fridge that is being cooked.


Broke into the house. Before dawn. With groceries. Set up in the kitchen. And began cooking. And no one heard anything. There’s no damage to the house at all, no sign that anything happened at all. The door’s locks aren’t even disturbed, but weirdly an axe sits next to the door as if it had been used at some point. The door itself seems perfectly fine now though…

But in the kitchen stands a familiar figure, someone that both of them have seen at least once. Isaac more than once, though never dressed quite so casually. Castle is wearing a loose gray top and very colorful — and tight — leggings. A long coat hangs next to the door, and a bunch of tote bags sit in the kitchen as if they had been carrying groceries and utensils and cooking supplies.

There’s a minibus van parked outside, too.

The siren song of breakfast had been enough to lure Isaac out of bed and downstairs, still wearing his sleeping clothes — faded Blue Öyster Cult shirt, black pajama pants, no socks — but what awaits in the kitchen is not what he'd been expecting. He'd been expecting that maybe Aman might have been in a culinary mood. He had not been expecting Castle.

Isaac stares for a long moment as he tries to process what he's seeing.

He gives up after a moment, looking towards the door — still intact — and out the front window — is that a minibus out there? — before looking back to Castle.

"Morning," he finally settles on. Maybe Aman invited Castle over? Faulkner has no idea why that would be the case, but it makes more sense than anything else he can think of.

Aman has no idea Castle's here, actually. He's only just now stirring over the sounds from downstairs. He blinks himself awake bleary-eyed, checks the clock beside his bed, and then lets his head sink back down into his pillow. His eyes droop closed again and he sniffs deeply to clear his nose.

Mm. Whatever's cooking smells nice.

He begins to doze off again, trapped in the liminal space of sleep and waking just a little too long with his eyes closed again how they are. He starts to slip away, his mind catching on little details here and there… the smell, especially. God, that smelled good. He wouldn't have to cook before going into work today, maybe? That'd be nice. What a change. How unusual for Isaac.

His breathing slows again as he slips closer back to sleep.

Then it stops entirely before he skyrockets straight from relaxed to alarmed. His eyes open and for a moment all he can do is just lie there.

Isaac can't cook.

So who the fuck is in his kitchen?

Aman starts to his feet, throwing back the blankets only after he's halfway dragged them off the bed with him. He swings his door open to look down the hall, preparing to warn Isaac— but his door is ajar. He hears him downstairs. Head swiveling, he looks down the flight of stars to the front door, sees the— is that a fucking axe?— yes, an //axe laying against it.

"Shit," he breathes to himself in near silence. The bat behind his bedroom door is forgotten in the face of an axe. Shirtless but in pajama pants, Aman slinks down the stairs as quietly as he can manage, reaching for the ax as soon as he comes down to the wood flooring of the first story. He turns his head slowly over his shoulder to peer down the hall into the kitchen to get an idea of just what the hell is going on in his house.

The need for the ax lessens in his mind when he sees just who it is by the kitchen range, even if he doesn't let go of it just yet while his expression slides blank. "I'm sorry," Aman blurts out, unable to help himself. "The Department of the Exterior does fucking house calls?"

With axes. And groceries. And break-ins.

As the first of those who are supposed to be in this kitchen arrives, Castle turns to offer a warm smile and waves the spatula in his left hand in greeting as he shifts the eggs around again and moves the pan off the burner with his right hand. There’s a slightly different aire about him than there’d been at the interview or the meeting, or even in the hospital, something not quite the same, it was almost as if—

Well. “Morning Isaac. I’m making breakfast for you. I used what you ordered for breakfast at the hospital as a basis, but added some spices, cause this definitely isn’t hospital food.” Even his voice isn’t quite the same, the accent definitely more light-hearted and Irish. There’d been those hints of Irishness a few times before in previous moments, but this seemed thicker, more firm— and was he wearing eyeliner? And he was also barefoot— his shoes and socks were near the coat he’d hung up.

His toe-nails were painted black.

“Morning to you as well, Amanvir. I cooked the meats separately in case you’re still a vegetarian, but if you are not you can eat whatever you want to eat. We do make house calls, we do, but this isn’t business, really. I wanted to cook you breakfast.”

Okay. Aman hadn't invited Castle. Isaac's face goes a little blanker at this discovery, a shock of alertness hitting him like ice water.

Aman has an axe? Where did he get an axe? And Castle came because they… wanted to cook them breakfast?

Isaac stares for a long moment, a thoughtful frown starting to creep over his face as he tries to make sense out of this. "Al… right," he says after a moment, running a hand through his slightly mussed hair. "I… feel obligated to note that it's fairly atypical to sneak into someone else's house to cook breakfast for them…"

He hesitates a moment longer, then shrugs. "Although I'll also admit it smells great." That decided, he shrugs. "I'm gonna go wash up. Be back in a minute," he says, turning and padding towards the bathroom.

If possible, Aman's expression runs more placid than before, even though underneath the hood his heart is racing. He tenses his grip around the handle of the axe, sense screaming at him that this is super not okay

But sense also has him let go of the axe and let out a long breath to begin to relax himself, because attacking a government agent— regardless of if they broke into his house— sounds like a quick trip to federal charges. And he really has been doing his best to avoid those all this time.

Doesn't change the least bit how unsettling Castle's attention to detail is, though, not in the slightest. Knowing Isaac's food preference— not to mention his own? His mouth is dry, but he shakes his head slowly. "I'll skip the sausage," he decides, because what else is there to do but go with this conversation? "And, I— uh…"

Aman runs a hand back through his hair, realizing he's the last person who should feel awkward about navigating through his own house. Abruptly, he walks into the kitchen, heading for cabinets to begin pulling out plates. Not like it seems Castle has any trouble finding his way around, but he feels an obligation to go through the airs of being a semi-accommodating host. Especially in light of…

"There's not really a dining table. So, hope you don't mind eating either on the couch or in here." He's never felt an urge, particularly, to fix that quirk about the home he purchased for himself, but here they are. "Do, uh… you do coffee? Tea?"

A beat later, he asks in the same light, querying tenor, "Mind explaining just why you decided to drop by?"

“Yes, clean up first! It’s almost ready, though, so chop chop,” Castle says with a smile, not seeming to mind that this whole situation is most definitely weird to everyone that doesn’t happen to be him right now. He didn’t even blink or give a second glance at the ax in Aman’s hands, cause he knew exactly where it came from and— well— he probably didn’t mind that the man who owned the place felt the need to have it while looking at an almost stranger in his kitchen. “Tea, please— but use the soy milk,” he motions to the small container of soy milk sitting on the countertop.

As he turns away and focuses once again on the food on the stove, getting everything ready, he starts to move things onto plates for serving and some last minute seasoning. All the while answering that question, “I couldn’t sleep and had a bunch of breakfast stuff that was going to go bad, so I figured I might as well use it before it did and—” He hesitates a moment, as if trying to figure out the best way to explain this situation.

When they glance back, there’s something different about the way their eyes look, the way the light hits them, as if they had slightly changed color, but that could just be the kind of green eyes that they had. “I don’t have a lot of friends and sometimes even federal agents need people to talk to.” That Irish lilt seemed to have faded a bit then, too, but then the light hits the eyes a bit differently once again, looking brighter, greener, and he’s smiling once again. “I thought Isaac and I hit it off pretty well, and you seem nice enough. But keep those hands to yourself. Trust me, you don’t want what I got.” There’s a wink as he says that.

How did the DoE even know about Aman anyway?

Should he be worried?

"Yeah, I thought so too," Isaac agrees as he drifts back in, cellphone held loosely in one hand. He looks somewhat less mussed now, at least; running water is nice, and not having it is one of the things he least misses about his Park Slope lair. He sees Aman's already got the plates; good, that saves him the trouble.

He eyes the kitchen for a moment, considering whether an additional pair of hands might be a help or a hindrance in this particular case. "Anything I can do, or would you rather I just stay out of the way for now?" he asks.

Aman's slid back a step from the entire situation again once he's been winked at it. But it's not the wink that's distressing, it's the hint to knowing just exactly what his ability is.

The look he suddenly gives Isaac is one that states I abruptly know what it's like when people unexpectedly know you're SLC-E and what your ability is, and I don't like it in no uncertain terms. The horror he feels is his own, unabated on by outside tethers at least, to his chagrin. In this moment, maybe handling this would come just slightly easier if he had the emotional fortitude of two people instead of one.

He rubs at his eyes to shake off the last bit of sleep and opens a lower cabinet to pull out a steel pot by its handle, setting about filling it up with water while waiting for range space to open up on the stove. "Right, if we're friends now, Castle, can you text ahead next time? Might lead to less… um—"

There really wasn't a good word to follow that up with. No one single word, anyway.

"You know," Aman tries to clarify anyway with an edge of exasperation.

“We do need to get you two a table! I like to collect junk that people toss into the bins, would you like me to bring you one?” Castle says simply, not seeing to care that he’s disturbed the emotional balance of these two, or especially Aman, who has to deal with the Agent’s eccentricities in a way that most people probably wouldn’t be accustomed to. “You can push the bread down in the toaster for us,” he instructs Faulkner, gesturing at said toaster with the spatula. The bread had already been dropped into the slots, and there were some not butter sitting there ready to be slathered upon them as well.

As Aman has words about this particular situation, the agent shrugs, “Sometimes you just have to roll with it, Amanvir. I trusted that you two would hesitate before shooting me in the back at the very least, but fine, fine, I’ll try to text ahead next time. But where’s the fun in that?” He shakes his head, as if that’s really ruining everything by having to think that far ahead. “I don’t plan to do this, I just do it. I needed to cook this food before it went bad and I wanted to talk to someone who I could consider a friend and most everyone I know is either dead, or a special agent, so you two were the first ones to come to mind so you won Castle Ball.”

There’s a hint of sadness by the way he said that last bit, like it was an inside joke that was now— sad?

That emotion doesn’t last long as he returns to his cooking and asks a very important question, “How crispy do you like your bacon?”

"Gotcha," Faulkner says, setting his phone down and obligingly pushing the lever on the toaster. He considers for a moment, then heads over to the cabinets to retrieve a saucer. Castle Ball draws a smirk to his face — it makes him think of Calvinball, which… feels appropriate.

But he doesn't press. It seems rude to bombard someone with questions when they're doing you a good turn, and doubly so while they're cooking. Instead, he nabs the first slice of toast as it pops up, laying it on the saucer and applying some of the not-butter to it. Then he grabs the second, and starts slathering some on it. "Not very," he replies to Castle. "If it gets too crispy it seems like it burns the flavor out of it."

"Same," Aman chimes, forgetting he's supposed to be playing the part of a more loyal vegetarian than he actually is. When a burner opens up, he sets the filled pot of water down, cranking the heat to full. Then he's moving to finish adding the tea bits to the water to actually make it tea, tossing them in freehand. He'll strain out the floating flavor later— there's a reason he owns two very fine mesh strainers.

It's easier to do this than address the depressing number of friends Castle feels he has.

"Fair warning," he advises. "Not texting may lead to getting hit or worse, so there's that joyful gem to remember. Between Isaac and I, you're lucky we didn't swing first and ask questions later." Aman sounds lighthearted, ribbing for all that he's deadly serious.

"But anyway, thanks for thinking of us in your time of overabundance, I guess? And warning number two," he grins at his own expense, beginning to head for the laundry room adjacent to the kitchen. He can still be heard by raising his voice while he rifles through an unstored stack of clean clothes in the other room. "I have a mean mom friend streak. It's countered only by my irresponsible bachelor streak. God help you if you need advice on something that pings both characteristics at once."

In that case, the bacon is plucked off the skillet before it gets anymore crispy and anymore of the flavor cooked out, because honestly, Castle agrees with them. Turning off all the burners and spreading the serving plates out on the counter for the boys to pick and choose what they would like, he backs up and spreads his hands. “Breakfast is served. More or less. Pending toast and tea.” At least. More or less.

“In my defense, I did knock. Maybe once. I think. I’m pretty sure I did. Not too loudly cause I didn’t want to wake the whole block or anything, but I did knock.” But didn’t text or call or make a concerted effort to let them know that he had arrived. “But I promise next time I will call ahead by at least two minutes before I break down your door and magically fix it again.” With magic.

Or not magic.

“I’m already an irresponsible bachelor, so I don’t really need that, and if a mom friend is someone who is like a mom, well, if you’re anything like my mum that’s worse than an irresponsible bachelor honestly, so— ” He trails off, flailing hands about for a moment. “I mostly have— you know— people problems. Like is it actually possible to miss someone you just met so much it hurts?”

Faulkner places the toast on the counter. "Toast, present and accounted for," he says, smirking faintly.

Coincidentally, this seems like an excellent opportunity to load up; he's going to have to put some extra oomph into his morning workout to make up for this, but as far as Isaac is concerned, that's an acceptable trade off.

"You broke down the door and fixed it again," Faulkner asks, glancing to Castle with an incredulous grin. He snickers, turning his attention back to the eggs, shoveling some onto his plate.

He's moved onto the hashbrowns when Castle asks his question; Faulkner is facing them, so not likely any of them can make out his expression… but the abrupt pause, the momentary stillness, are a little easier to pick up.

Neither lasts. He quickly finishes putting some hashbrowns on his plate, then moves on to grab a slice of bacon and some sausage. "Someone you just met, huh?" he asks, in a tone that's just a bit less carefree than before. He finishes by placing a piece of toast on his plate, then turns to face Castle.

"Tell me about them," he says quietly.

In the other room, Aman's in the process of working a shirt over his head when the pieces regarding just how Castle entered his home make themselves apparent. "How about we don't break down my door, even if you fixed it? You knock and wait and give people time enough to answer the door fully-dressed and not with a gun or a bat, or…"

But he imagines this is an uphill battle.

When he comes back to the kitchen, the process of making sure the heat gets turned back on to keep heating the tea is one Aman completes in silence. Wearied, he glances to Castle, mind still on the state of his front door— at least until that last comment.

Then the light in his eye changes. "From experience, yes," Aman offers up with a surprising amount of sympathy. "You wonder how they are, wonder how they would have fit into your life… If you had good chemistry, it can be really fucking painful to suddenly not have them anymore."

“She— but I appreciate not assuming,” Castle says with a smile and a laugh. “If you hadn’t been part of a job, I might have considered asking you out for a drink,” he teases the young Faulkner— though perhaps not really a tease because perhaps it was truthful. There’s a small sigh, though, because— well— SHE. Sinking into the chair he sprawls onto the table with his arms like a child who doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions anymore and is just trying to be present for the moment. “But yeah, she— she likes music and philosophy and is brave and smart and kind and all the things that I like in a person and there’s still so much I wanted to know about her and— “

With another sound of protest at himself, he rests his head down on his arms and makes a groan of embarrassment. “I have too— stop teasing me,” he can be heard murmuring to someone. “Those count!”

Was he talking to himself? Is this Agent legitimately insane? There’s another groan and he pops his head back up and looks at them again, “It is really painful. It’s like this big chunk of me I didn’t even know I had is suddenly gone and I don’t know what to do about it.”

Faulkner gives a surprised chuckle at Castle's teasing, then snorts, shaking his head in amusement. As the agent starts his description, though, Faulkner's expression shifts towards a mix of wistfulness and sympathy.

He does raise an eyebrow at Castle's apparent argument with themself, but… whatever.

"Man," he sighs, taking his plate and making for the couch. "Sounds like you really gave her a piece of your heart, huh," he says, mood starting to descend towards gloom.

No gloom allowed.

"Too early to be sulking," Aman declares without even looking at the slumped Castle over the table. He can just sense it apparently. "Fix you a plate and then see how you feel after eating."

He sniffs through his nose idly, stirring the warming tea as he waits for it to bubble with heat. He rests one hand on the milk prescribed, glancing at it for only a moment before focusing again on the pot. This is an art, after all, he needs to focus on it. It doesn't keep him from asking, "So what's the issue, exactly? Why can't you see her again? Did you not get her number?"

“I didn’t mean to.” Castle says defensively as if giving her part of his heart might be an accusation of some kind. Something he should have avoided! At least he picks himself off the counter and starts to grab for a plate now, even if he looks as if he might want to flop on the floor and flail around a little bit. “Now you really do sound like my mum. She always would accuse me of being too skinny.”

And he really was, probably, from the look of his frame, but that was neither here nor there. At least he had some muscle now that he’d not had a few years ago, and definitely much better fed. Even if he cooks way better for others than for themself.

“I have her number. And her address. And her social security number and pretty much everything that the government ever had on her…” probably not something that he should be admitting to, but there it is. He did actually have all of that. “I tried calling her a couple of times, but she didn’t answer or call back and anything else felt… wrong.” But it hadn’t felt wrong to literally break into their house and cook them breakfast? Apparently not. With a sigh, he plops down with his halfheartedly made up plate and moodily nibbles on a piece of toast with eggs piled on it, frowning.

"You never do," Isaac says dryly. "You meet someone, you think they're fun, you hit it off, and…" And then something happens and you're alone again.

That's way too gloomy to say aloud, though, and fortunately Castle's comment about having her Social Security number makes for an excellent distraction. Faulkner's head turns sharply towards Castle. "That's, uh. Maybe not something to brag about?"

Faulkner turns his attention back to his plate. "Do you have any idea why she isn't answering you? Did she get upset at you, or anything like that?"

With a tsk, Aman cuts the heat and pours in a large serving of almond milk from the carton, stirring the tea and minding the color shift. He picks up the pot by the handle, sets aside the spoon he used, and begins to pour them each a cup, leaving it to steam and cool. Pot set aside, he fixes himself and invites himself into the living room and sits on the armchair by the couch.

"Determine the least creepy way to do it, then apologize," he suggests without waiting for Castle to answer Isaac's question. Because surely he did something wrong.

"Next thing you do, is if she tells you to fuck off, you fuck right the fuck off and leave her to her business." Aman regards Castle severely out of the corner of his eye as he leans back with his plate. "You take that rejection no matter how crazy you are about her, and you move on with your life."

There’s a mumbled sound from Castle that almost sounds like a child-like protest, but then there’s a nod. They agree with almost everything that is said, really, that there should be apologies and that they need to find the least creepy way to make said apologies. Even if they haven’t come up with what it will be, yet. “I arrested one of her friends,” he explains after a moment, leaning back into the couch with a sigh. “Eve Mas. At Xpress. Even if I hadn’t SESA was going to. I only did cause the SESA agent on hand had hit her and I— I figured it would be safer to just tranq her and deal with it ourselves. The Department was probably going to get their hands on her in the end anyway.”

They would have needed to question her, after all. “Because of Detroit.”

Not because of Xpress. Eve Mas had been on the news, after all, everyone had seen that face. “I didn’t know they were friends when we met, and I didn’t recognize her at first— I was kind of in the moment, you know?” The moment had been a good one, though. “But she’s in Rikers now, and she was mad about that. Or hurt. Or— I don’t know. Maybe she felt guilty, but we’re going to try to get it sorted out. It’s safest that she’s there for the time being, though.” They are not sorry for arresting her, given the circumstances.

But they are sorry that it was something that hurt Chess. “I’m kinda hoping that she’ll forgive me when she gets her trial and we get her name cleared for Detroit at least.”

Faulkner raises his hand to his head, looking perplexed. So… Eve Mas hadn't been responsible for whatever it was that went down in Detroit? He frowns as he considers that… but that's not what the conversation is about at the moment. He exhales slowly, then takes a breath in. "Okay," he says, moving back to the matter at hand… and for the moment even Castle's (excellent) surprise breakfast is forgotten. "Sounds like it's something you've thought about pretty hard," Isaac says, looking to Castle.

"If you honestly, truly think that what you did then was the best thing you could do under the circumstances… that it was the right thing to do… then maybe don't apologize," he says slowly. "Because — and this is something I was told when I was young — you should only ever apologize when you can mean it from the heart." There's a hint of a smile on his lips as he says this, but his eyes are serious.

But that still doesn't help Castle much, does it? Isaac frowns, thinking hard. "My two cents would be… wait a bit. Give her a little time to think about things. Then? Reach out to her. A small gift, maybe?" he frowns, sounding uncertain. "Then… like Aman says. If she turns you down, move on," he says, sounding faintly apologetic that this is the best advice he's got.

Arrrested a friend of hers? Ouch. Eve Mas, though? Aman loks up from the bite of his breakfast he'd started to take. He's not at risk of choking on his food, but of all the ways he expected the conversation to go, safe to say that was the least expected way.

He busies himself with his eggs lest he let his thoughts wander back to when he helped ferry someone to a secret meeting with the at-large precognitive while she was still on the run.

"That's good advice," Aman says of what Isaac proposes. "And I mean it, Castle— from one Relationship Status Complicated motherfucker to another, I hope you get your shit worked out." He takes another bite of food, tines sounding against his teeth so his fork is clean before he uses it in a simple, vaguely threatening gesture in their direction. "But you break down my front door a second time and we're gonna have more than just words."

He looks off toward the kitchen, thinking ahead to the after-breakfast tea. "That being said, you cook a mean breakfast, so you're welcome back anytime."

With all the conflicting advice, it is a wonder that Castle has any idea what they are going to do when things settle down in the future, but— they seem to have a vague idea how to approach things, now. As they are reminded of how they entered, a thing they had admitted to really, they can’t help but grin a bit, raising hands as if to show they are not bearing any weapons, “Who broke down what door. You can’t prove anything. Never happened.”

Literally. It never happened. As far as anyone is concerned who doesn’t happen to have Castle’s own memories. The door doesn’t know it happened. The space-time continuum might know it happened, maybe, but good luck getting it to give a straight answer.

“And don’t worry, I won’t leave you with the clean-up.”

Anyone who gives good advice and lets them talk about their problems and most importantly doesn’t shoot at them doesn’t get left with all the dishes.

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