They pulled up opposite the alley, the front driver's-side tyre riding up the curb slightly and then dropping off with a slight thunk and a settling of springs. They released their belts and took a couple of heartbeats to glance at each other, Rick giving her his encouraging smile, Kate throwing him a stern 'behave' look which was totally wasted … not just because Castle was incapable of behaving, but also because her own twitching lips robbed the glare of any menace … she shook her head and sighed, yep, she had lost her badass mojo where Castle was concerned.
Both doors clunked shut as she pressed the remote and they stepped round the car, heading towards the uniform guarding the taped off entrance. With a nod in their direction, the officer lifted the tape for them to duck underneath and watched them join the ME and two detectives further down the alley.
"Morning Perlmutter, boys, what do we have?"
"Morning Beckett, Castle .." answered the two detectives, whilst the ME returned the greeting but as usual paused before including the "… Mr Castle" rider at the end. The three cops hid their grins whilst Castle glowered at the impervious Medical Examiner.
"Victim is Maria Somerville, 23. The name tag on her uniform matches the driver's license and papers in her purse found over there .." said Esposito as he pointed to a pile of empty crates and boxes stacked to one side of the alley "… uniform belongs to the Broadway Hotel round the corner" he finished.
Ryan flipped open his notebook, "Receptionist and Manager confirm the vic's ID, say she finished her shift at six thirty and left as usual. No one saw or heard anything out of the ordinary. Uniforms are canvassing the area and I'm just heading back to the hotel to get a list of any colleagues who may have finished their shift at the same time, maybe they saw or heard something."
Beckett nodded and crouched next to the ME "COD?"
"Single GSW to the chest, fairly large-calibre, from the blood pooled below the body and the smudges and splatter on the wall here, she was probably shot from somewhere over by the crates, fell back against the brickwork and slid down into her present position .… and Mr Castle, I'm sure I can survive if you take a step back and stop crowding me …"
She glanced up at her fiancée and hid a grin as he took a step away from the ME and mimed strangling him.
The ME continued as if nothing had happened "Looks like a straightforward pop-and-drop, estimated time coincides with detective Ryan's inquiries … I'm guessing sometime early this morning, I should have more for you once I get her back to the morgue."
Beckett nodded, thanked the ME and rose to her feet before turning to Esposito, "Get CSU to work out the shooter's position and get a photo of the victim from there. Castle! Let's go see if we can find anything down here."
Esposito nodded and stepped to one side as Beckett, with Castle following on her heels walked past him down the alley "Whipped!" he whispered as the writer walked past.
Castle grinned, and whispered back "Only because the wrong ME's here! I know all about yesterday's booty call .."
Beckett, ears sharp as ever, bit her lip to try and stop the grin curving her mouth as she glanced back and saw the colour flooding the detective's face.
As she and Castle walked further into the alleyway she raised her eyebrow at him. He shrugged back "I don't know …" waggling his eyebrows, "but both of them with a couple of days off work … pretty easy to guess!"
As they were walking past a couple of bins by a door with faded lettering indicating "Rosa's Pasta Palace" Becket suddenly stopped, turned and crouched down. Castle took a couple steps before realising his muse was no longer at his side and turned back. As he approached he could see she was bent over, holding something in her lap.