"When you said we were infiltrating the Swedish embassy's soirée tonight this was not exactly what I envisioned," Castle said, peering over the rim of the dumpster at his partner, Kate Beckett.
"I said meet me at the Swedish embassy as soon as you can, there's been a theft. I also remember telling you to wear something you didn't mind getting dirty." Beckett stood up, still managing to look as alluring as ever despite being knee deep in trash, and looked him over. "I'm pretty sure that doesn’t qualify."
Castle was wearing one of his favorite tuxes and a dark green cummerbund, carefully chosen to coordinate with Becket's ensemble. Of course when he had asked about the color scheme for the evening he had neglected to ask about the actual outfit. To be fair he might have tuned out everything after the words embassy and party; thoughts of Beckett in a low cut green dress pretty much crowded everything else out.
Reality was Beckett in her oldest jeans and a ratty green sweatshirt.
"Get in here and help, Castle," she said, ducking down out of sight. He sighed and was in the process of taking off his jacket when several moldy oranges barely missed his head on their way to joining the pile of trash on the ground. He left the jacket on and quickly climbed in the dumpster, figuring it was safer on the inside.
He found Beckett in one corner of the dumpster, wearing gloves and methodically sifting through the rubbish. "Seriously, this is not the glamour I was expecting," he said, gesturing to the piles of trash under the yellow streetlight. "What happened to the opulent setting of a foreign embassy, which is technically foreign soil you know so it would have been like we were in Sweden without the eight hour plane ride and the dark and the cold. Where's the champagne and caviar and those little canapés that you just can't get enough of?"
"I think there's a wine bottle over there under that pile of potato peelings," Beckett said, not pausing in her search. "Now will you please help me so we can get out of here sometime tonight. The Ambassador is furious."
"What are we looking for anyway?" Castle asked, grateful that he was wearing his brown leather gloves. They would have to be sacrificed to the cause, there was no way he was digging through this mess barehanded. Thankfully the dumpster was well lit by a light on the wall directly above them.
"The princess'sblue diamond pendant was reported stolen, it's set in gold and it's huge, so I’m hoping it will stand out. One of the sous chefs claims she saw the head chef and I quote 'hide something shiny in the trash' late this afternoon before the dinner service, so here we are. He does have a record of petty theft and, sadly, this is the best lead we've got so far."
Castle moved to the corner of the dumpster opposite her and started digging, wincing at the pile of used tissues, empty yogurt containers, and fatty meat trimmings in front of him.
"Why aren't Ryan and Esposito on garbage duty?"
"Because they caught the Reccki case last week remember? I figure we owe them one."
"Right, two dead bodies in a sauna for twenty-four hours, ugh." Even though the sight and smell had been among the worst Castle had experienced during his time working with Beckett and her team, he was considering using it as a Roach subplot for his next novel. Although this bout of dumpster diving was now in the running when it came to the most noxious odors.
"They're inside doing the interviews," Beckett continued as she discarded candy wrappers and a pair of worn out shoes over her shoulder and onto the ground. "There were over a hundred guests, plus the staff and the live in residents."
They had finished half the dumpster and bumped into each other as they moved to the other side. Castle carefully picked a piece of blue and yellow ribbon out of Kate's hair. Then he fished out a fish that managed to find his way between his jacket and his shirt. Castle couldn't tell if it salmon, herring, or something else entirely and he didn't really want to hang onto it long enough to find out. It wasn't fair that Kate was still practically clean and he was a slimy mess. He was burning every stitch of this clothing as soon as he possibly could.
"Jameson Rook never had to dig through other people's trash."
"Yeah, well, Nikki Heat didn't have to listen to Rook whine about it either. You wanted to see the down and dirty world of police work, here it is. If it weren't for the politics we could have just dumped it all out in the morning, which would have been a lot easier. This is practically a needle in a haystack."
"More like a wild goose chase, given how flimsy the evidence that it's even in here and how slippery some of this stuff is. Eww," Castle said, standing up to stretch out a kink in his back. Something was nagging at the back of his brain, reminding him of an old detective story. Now that he thought about it, there was something really fishy about that fish.
Castle climbed out of the dumpster and this time it was Beckett's turn to peer over the edge at him. "Castle, where are you going? We've still got half this thing left to go through."
"Give me a sec, I've got an idea," he said as he dug into the trash pile in front of the dumpster, scattering the litter all over the ground in his haste until he found the fish of undetermined species. Wiping his still gloved hand on his trousers he asked, "Got your knife on you?"
She reached into her jeans pocket and tossed her red Swiss army knife over the side. Castle cut the fish lengthwise and recoiled at the strong smell. He had never had the desire to go fishing and the stench was enough to almost convince him to never even eat it again.
"Remember that Sherlock Holmes story with the goose?" Castle asked, holding up the diamond pendant which shone in the light despite being coated with fish innards. "Ta-da!"
Beckett quickly scrambled out of the dumpster and jumped lightly to the ground beside him. "Good job, Castle," she said, giving him a quick kiss on the lips as she took the pendant from his hand and wiped it on the inside of his jacket, the only part of him that was still even remotely unscathed.
"That's all the reward I get?" Castle asked, mock indigently, as he followed her back toward the embassy, prize in hand.
"Until you get a shower, yes," she called over her shoulder. "But if you're a good boy, I might wash your back for you."