12th Precinct Castle Valentine's Day FanFic Competition: Poker And Valentines

Another story for our fanfic competition. Here you can find all the stories for the 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition. And here you can find the rules.
You can also find the stories at www.fanfiction.net for a possible easier read (blogspot doesn`t agree with word format most of the time).

Story: Poker And Valentines 
Rating:  T
Words: 2700

"Dude, where did you get heart-shaped poker cards?" Esposito asks sarcastically, making a face and holding up one of the red and pink cards by its edge, as though it's about to give him cooties.
"You got a problem with Castle injecting a little Valentine's Day fun into our poker game, Javier?" Lanie asks, throwing a classic Lanie-esque side-glance at him. She surreptitiously peeks at his 'assets' as he takes the seat next to her.
Esposito drops the offensive card back on the deck piled in the middle of Castle's custom built poker table, ignoring Lanie. Which, admittedly, isn't easy because she's looking sexy as hell in a tight red sweater that perfectly accentuates her very womanly curves and nicely compliments her smooth ebony skin. He schools his features then looks at Castle with mock disgust. "Not very manly, bro."
Kate grins from her spot on Espo's left then reaches to her left and pats the back of Castle's hand. "Castle is perfectly comfortable in his metrosexual skin, Javi," Kate defends, glancing at her partner with shiny eyes and a crooked grin.
"Thank you, Beckett." Castle smiles, shuffling the cards.
"Bro, that's not a compliment!" Esposito exclaims, taking a swig from his bottle of Stela Artois.
"Javier Esposito. Just because YOU are insecure about your manhood doesn't mean EVERY man is," Lanie exclaims.
"Whaaaat?" Espo defends. "I am NOT insecure about my manhood. Besides, you've seen my manhood, and..."
"Dude," Ryan interrupts, shaking his head at Esposito.
Espo looks across the table at his partner, raises his shoulders and mouths 'what?'
Ryan just continues to shake his head, his eyes shifting to the left to indicate Jenny, then darts across the table to eye-point at Kate.
Javi rolls his eyes, then takes another generous gulp of beer. "Whatever. Let's get this game started," he rubs his hands together greedily, "I am about to win me some doe-rey-me!"
Castle reaches behind him to pick up a huge box filled with poker chips. "I special ordered these just for the occasion!" He announces, opening the box.
They all scoot forward, leaning over the table to more closely inspect them. Jenny squeals, "Oh, that is so CUTE, Rick!"
Esposito groans, "Dude. Chocolate poker chips? Have you lost your frickin mind?"
"What?" Castle grins, unwrapping the sleeves of the variously colored wrapped chocolate casino tokens.

"I'm gonna have to take away your man card, bro."
"Because I bought chocolate poker chips?"
"Because you like Valentines Day! Guys only PUT UP with Valentines day, Castle. They don't LIKe it!"
"I seem to recall you liking it just fine last year, Javier." Lanie reminds him.
Javi pulls $200 from his wallet and tosses it at Castle, "Yeah," He blushes, "Well, that was different."
"Mmm hmm," Lanie teases, "It was different all right." She leans to her right and whispers to Jenny, "He thought it would be all sexy to dress up like cupid? I didn't have the heart to tell him he looked more like the tooth fairy!"
Ryan did a spit-take as Jenny covered her mouth, giggling. Kate and Castle grinned, knowingly, having already heard this story, while Javi raised his hands, his face beet red.
"Lanie!" He roars. "Some things between a man and a woman should be kept private!"
"It's not like you need to be ashamed of it, Javier. As I recall, you shot me with your arrow three times that night."
Now it's Kate's turn to do a spit-take as Castle's ears turn pink. "Okay, so, how about we play cards?" He interjects, handing out the chocolate casino tokens while Kate collects everyone's money.
Castle shuffles the cards, no small venture since they're shaped like hearts and don't easily shuffle. But, he manages. "Okay, everyone ante up. Opening bet is a dollar."
They all toss a white token towards the center of the table and Castle deals the cards. "Texas Hold Em. No blind. Nothing wild." He deals two cards each from left to right. Everyone picks up their cards. Lanie hums, Espo keeps a steely face, Kate swings her leg back and forth, Castle taps the back of his cards, and Jenny and Ryan show each other their hands.
'Hey," Kate admonishes, pointing her finger at the pair. "None of that, this is not a team sport!"
While Lanie continues to hum, Esposito smirks. "Lanie has a good hand, everyone."
She holds her cards to her ample chest. "What? Why would you say that?"
"You're humming. You think I can't tell when you're happy?"
"I could be bluffing, Javi. I'm pretty good at it."
Esposito snorts.
She looks him square in the eye, her lips pursed, an eyebrow raised. "In fact, I am VERY good at it, as you may RECALL."
Espo coughs uncomfortably. "Whose bet, Castle? C'mon, man, take control of this game."
"Whoa!" Ryan cries.
Everyone looks at him. His face bright red.
He glances around the table. "Sorry. I just noticed, Castle. Um, where did you get these cards from?"
Castle just smiles. "Ryan, your bet."
Ryan is studying his cards, a smirk planted firmly on his face. He grabs a red token and rolls it towards the pile. "I bet five." He doesn't take his eyes off the cards and Jenny elbows him angrily. "What?" He looks at her then Castle, a grin spreading from ear to ear.
"Jenny?" Castle asks sheepishly, avoiding eye contact with Ryan.
"I'm in." She picks up a red token and tosses it to the middle of the table.
Lanie is ready and throws her token at the pile. "In."
Esposito considers his cards, chewing the inside of his cheek. "Oh, what the hell," and tosses a red token on the pile.
Castle turns to Kate and does a double take. She's staring at him with narrowed eyes and he realizes he might be in trouble. Not removing her eyes from his, she picks up a red token and dramatically drops it in the pile.
Ryan chuckles, "Dude, you are in truh-baaaall."
Lanie and Esposito look confused.
Castle turns to look at Ryan then back at Kate and flinches. She's still staring at him with narrowed eyes, her teeth chewing the inside of her cheek. She raises an eyebrow. "Are you in, Mr. inappropriate man?"
"What the hell is going on?" Lanie asks, looking from Ryan to Kate to Castle.
Kate, not taking her eyes off Castle, explains, "Oh, I have a feeling you'll find out very soon." She pauses. "Rick? You in?"
He clears his throat, grabs a red chip and carefully sets it next to the pile at the center of the table. "I'm in," He says sheepishly, then grabs the deck to deal the flop. Placing them on the table in front of him one by one.
"The Seven of Clubs." He turns the second card. "A Six of Hearts," he hesitates, peeking at the next card, then shifting in his seat uncomfortably. He coughs again, holding his fist up to his mouth for dramatic effect. 'And, ah, the," he lays the card down, "...Queen of Diamonds."
Lanie and Esposito lean forward to look more closely at the card. Kate just continues to stare at Castle, and Ryan and Jenny wear matching amused expressions.
"Holy shit, Castle. I take back what I said earlier! Your manhood is fully intact."
Kate smirks, mumbling, "Yes. It. Is." Then looks up surprised, her face crimson. "Um, did I just say that out loud?"
Lanie rolls her eyes, grinning at Kate, then glances back at Castle. "Where did you get these cards, Castle? At a sex shop?"
Castle grins, "I thought they were funny. You know, get us all in the mood for a...?" He stops when he looks at Kate who is shaking her head at him. He turns around and looks to Ryan. "Okay, so, to recap. We have a Seven of Clubs, a Six of Hearts, and ah, a very naked and slightly aroused Queen of Diamonds. Ryan, your bet."
Ryan is still grinning stupidly while Jenny looks on disapprovingly. "Yes, I, ah, I am definitely in." He throws another red token at the growing pile.
"In." A red token goes flying at the pile but misses and lands in Kate's lap.
"I'm out. I got nothing." She slaps her cards down on the table in mock disgust, then picks up her wine glass and takes a long sip of the smooth amber liquid.
"I'm in." Esposito mumbles, flicking a balled up token wrapper towards the middle of the table.
Ryan points at it, "I don't think you're supposed to eat those until after the game, bro."
Castle almost doesn't want to look at Kate, but he does, and she's staring him down. "Oh. Me? Yeah, Castle, I'm in. I am very much IN." She throws her red token absently towards the middle of the table, never taking her eyes off her partner. She's rather enjoying his discomfort and a cool smirk graces the corners of her mouth.
He clears his throat again, then shakes his head as though coming out of a trance. "Okay, ah, I'm in, too." He adds a token to the pile, then picks up the deck of cards to deal the turn. He flips the card over and another naked queen stares up at them. This time of the spades variety. "Ryan?"
Ryan practically squeals and throws an orange token at the pile. "I. Am. In."
Jenny knows what he has, and knows she can't beat him, so she folds. "Out. Fifty bucks is too rich for my blood."
"Lanie's out, how about you Javier? You in still."
Esposito flicks another balled up wrapper towards the pile. "Yup."
Lanie narrows her eyes at him, "You got nothing, Javi, what the hell are you doing?"
Esposito holds his cards to his chest, "Woman! Mind you're business."
She points at the growing pile of balled up token wrappers, "You keep eating those and you're going to be up all night, you know."
He waggles his eyebrows at her, "So?" He leans in and whispers in her ear and after a couple of seconds her expression changes, her face rearranging itself, and she giggles.
Kate looks from one to the other than shakes her head. When will they ever decide if they are a couple or not? She picks up an orange token and sends it rolling towards the pile. "In."
"Me too," Castle agrees, throwing his orange token at the pile. "And, now the river!" He flips over the last card, a knowing smirk spreading across his face. "The king of hearts!"
The women lean forward while the men look away.
"Whoa," Lanie says,
"Oh my," Jenny exclaims.
"Hello!" Kate jokes.
"Dude!" Esposito complains, shielding his eyes so he doesn't have to look at the card.
"That isn't even realistic," Ryan complains. "No guy is that..."
Jenny kicks him.
Castle grins, "See? Something for everyone!" He taps the naked, and very well endowed, King of Hearts and smiles at the three women, all of whom are looking at him slack jawed.
"So," he turns towards Ryan who is still looking at the saluting king, his head cocked to one side, his forehead wrinkled with troubled thoughts, "Ryan, man, you in?"
Castle chuckles. "You in? It's your bet."
He jumps, glances at Jenny who is still staring dreamily at the King, frowns, then throws a red token at the pile. "Yeah, I'm in."
"Okay, then. Jenny is out. Lanie is out. Esposito, you still trying to convince all of us that you have a worthy hand?"
Esposito makes a face, then pops another chocolate in his mouth. "Eh, forget it," he throws his cards down, "I'm out!"
She's still staring at the King, a crooked grin on her face.
She jumps.
"You in?" Castle asks, feigning annoyance.
"Oh, ah, yes, I am still very much in." She laughs.
"As am I," Castle declares, throwing a red token at the pile.
"Okay folks. Moment of truth. Watcha got?"
Ryan lays down his cards, a Two of Diamonds and Queen of Hearts, in his best porno voice, which sounds more like Moose of Moose and Squirrel than Ron Jeremy, declares, "Three lovely, naked ladies! King high."
Esposito smiles, "Nice, bro!"
Castle turns to Kate, an eyebrow raised.
She lays down her cards, one at a time, an Ace of Hearts and Queen of Clubs. "Not so fast, BRO. Read 'em and weep. Three Queens, ACE high!" She grins at Ryan.
"Ooooh," Esposito hisses, "She beat you, partner."
Castle leans back and smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkle with amusement. "Well, you two have very good hands, I'll grant you that." He scratches his chin. "But," he lays his cards down dramatically. "...you can't beat three naked dudes!"
"Bro!" Esposito complains, once again shielding his eyes. "That's just wrong."
"Oh, no," Lanie declares. "No, no. That is very, very right!"
Kate leans back, tipping her wine glass to drink while Castle rakes in his winnings. She has to admit this is a much better way of spending Valentine's Day than at some romantic dinner at an overpriced, pretentious restaurant that serves tiny food in tiny portions on huge plates. She smiles, her eyes betraying the warmth she feels for him, glad they have the same ideas about what constitutes 'fun'.
"Okay Ryan, your deal. Anyone need a refill?" Castle asks, standing up and grabbing his empty beer bottle.
Esposito hands him his empty, Jenny points at her nearly empty glass of wine, as does Lanie. He saunters to the kitchen, opens the frig for more beer, then brings the de-corked bottle of wine back to the poker table with him.
"How the hell do you shuffle these, Castle?" Ryan asks, heart shaped cards flying everywhere.
Castle is about to help him when the front door flies open and Martha breezes in. She freezes when she sees the gathered guests, then graces them with a dazzling smile.
"Darling! Oh, you're having a poker party. On Valentine's Day. How," She flicks her wrist in the air, "...dreadfully unromantic."
Castle stands, gesturing back at the group, "Mother, you remember everyone?"
Martha smiles at them, "Of course, of course. It's lovely to see all of you."
"Is your party over already?" Castle asks, glancing at his watch. It's not even nine o'clock yet.
"No. No, no. I just need to grab a different pair of shoes," She holds up one sparkling red shoe, a match to her sparkling red dress. "Broke the heel on this one!" She heads upstairs as Ryan finally corrals the cards, then simply mixes them up on the table to shuffle them.
Martha is back downstairs in a matter of seconds, a pair of sparkling black shoes on her feet. "Don't wait up for me darling," She warns Castle. Then eyeing Kate, she holds her hand up to the side of her mouth and half-whispers. "I ran into an ex of mine and I have a feeling this night might end up with us doing the horizontal tango!" She crosses her fingers and smiles broadly
Castle drops his head as Kate giggles, nodding at Martha, completely used to her inappropriate banter by now.
"As I recall, he can rattle a headboard like a sailor on leave!" She wraps a pink feather boa around her neck dramatically, "IF you know what I mean!" She chuckles.
Castle groans, "Everyone knows what you mean, Mother."
"Oh, good. Well you kids have fun! I know I will!" And, with a wave of her hand, she disappears out the door.
Castle bangs his head repeatedly against the felt poker table. Kate reaches over and tickles the back of his neck sympathetically.
Jenny slowly nods, as though something profound has just occurred to her. "So," She nods towards the door, "THAT explains a lot!"
Everyone laughs.
Castle looks up. "What?"
She grabs one of the naked queens and holds it up, "You come by it naturally, Rick."
He bangs his head against the table again, groaning, while everyone else laughs sympathetically.
Ryan checks the deck, his eyes bugging out, "Ahem, did you guys see the Jacks? Holy cow!"
Captain Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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