Okay so I am trying to come up for a new chapter for my Senior Project, but that's not going to happen until I tap this little fic out, so enjoy!
Set in the (hopefully close) future
"Want some tea?" Castle asks his wife as she wriggles on the sofa, trying desperately to get comfortable. She's never really been good at staying still; not since she was able to crawl. Her parents must have had fun with her and she predicts that she'll have fun with the little one growing inside of her right now—who also refuses to stop moving.
"No more liquids," she sighs. "I think I have to go to the bathroom. Again." This must be the hundredth time since she woke up that she's had to relieve herself because Peanut—what they've decided to affectionately nickname their child until they are born—keeps kicking her bladder. At least, she thinks, her kid might be good at sports. Most likely soccer if they keep this up.
Castle, ever the patient, loving husband, returns from the kitchen to help her up, both of her slender hands held warmly in his as he pulls her to her feet, chuckling as her rounded tummy brushes against his flat one. His hands instinctively lower to cup the place where their baby lay, his eyes brimming with love. They've been that way since he found out she was pregnant (it was around his birthday, so she'd given him her positive pregnancy test along with a realistic-looking heart, as a gift. He'd thought they were both pranks and had been positively radiant when he found out that the latter wasn't—and that the former most definitely was) and she couldn't be happier at his mirth and excitement. Especially considering that her bosses at 1PP were less than thrilled that—less than one year since she'd been promoted to Captain at the 12th—she would be going on maternity leave around Christmas (which was, horrifically, their busiest time of the year).
But now, she couldn't care less as her husband leans down to press a kiss, first, to her cheek and then another to the top of her belly. Then her bladder tightens and she's pushing him away with an unapologetic smirk as she waddles—ugh—to the bathroom through his office. Castle doesn't take it personally, and just shakes his head, a wide grin spreading over his lips as he watches her go.
He's about to head back into the kitchen when there's a knock at the door. He sighs, hoping that it's not Ryan or Espo or—god forbid—Hayley with another case for them. Kate had promised no work this weekend and he was going to hold her to it.
He checks the peephole and his body practically sags in relief when he sees his father-in-law instead. Jim has Sunday dinners with them every week, but today is Saturday. And why is he holding a box? Only one way to find out.
Castle unlocks and swings open the door with a warm smile. "Jim!" he exclaims. "What a pleasant surprise! How've you been?"
"Nice to see you again, too, Rick," Jim replies with a small grin of his own. It's that sheepish grin that Kate gets when he compliments her or—in their early partnership—when he would show up at her door, unannounced. "I've been good," he adds. "May I come in?"
Castle realizes with a start that his bulk is still blocking the door so he moves aside and gestures Jim inside with a wide gesture of his hand. "Mi casa es su casa," he says and Jim rolls his eyes. Oh, so that's where Kate gets it; he'd always assumed it was something she'd inherited from her mother.
Castle follows Jim to the dining table, where he places the box down and then looks around. "Is Katie here?" he asks.
"Yes," Castle replies, nodding. "She's got the weekend up. She's just in the—"
"Dad?" Speak of the devil. Kate waddles—uuuggggghhhhhh—out of the office, one hand pressed to her tummy—hidden beneath one of Castle's hoodies, which she must have pilfered sometime in the last five minutes—smiling at the sight of her father. "Hey," she greets, kissing his cheek when he meets her halfway in a hug. "What are you doing here? I thought you had AA."
"I've been going there for over a decade," he said. "I can take a day off. Besides, I wanted to go through everything in my storage locker; clean out everything I haven't even looked at in years and organize a little. You know me; I can't stay still for very long."
"Sounds familiar," Castle says, smirking at his wife, who pokes him in the side for it. "Hey!" he whines. Kate rolls her eyes and Jim chuckles.
"Peanut's gonna have a hell of a time with you two, eh?" he laughs.
"I'm sure Kate's childhood was just as wild, huh?" Castle replies. "Especially with that 'wild child' phase."
"Phase?" Jim snorts. "Try life. Katie was wild well before her teens. Which is, coincidentally, why I'm here."
"Oh?" Castle asks, looking down at the box as if trying to see through the cardboard. Kate glances down at it, too, and her eyes widen at the familiar drawing on the upper right hand corner. It's an elephant, drawn very poorly, with only two legs and a too-wide trunk; a side view, Castle surmises. He looks up at Kate as she reaches out to run her fingers over the small sketch. "What is it?" He directs the question at both Becketts and Kate takes a deep breath as she nods to her father.
Jim nods back and lifts the top, revealing bundles of Polaroid pictures kept together by rubber bands, two photo albums with post it's and loose pictures sticking out at the sides, and a small, knitted blue elephant with black button eyes. Castle can see a tiny girl with two missing front teeth in one of the pictures facing him and he smiles, looking up at Kate, but finds her gaze riveted to that knitted elephant, tears welling in her eyes.
"You found her?" Kate whispers, looking up at her father and he nods.
"Right after I got sober," he says. "I had to clean out all the alcohol from the apartment and it was hidden everywhere, so I had to check every single nook and cranny and I found her under your old mattress. She was a little roughed up, but no worse for wear. I had her dry-cleaned—Mr. Jacobs looked at me like I was insane—but you weren't talking to me at the time and…and looking at her hurt so much. I had to put her in storage."
"And you never told me?" Kate looks genuinely hurt and Castle wraps one of his arms around her waist. She cants into him.
Jim sighs. "I'd forgotten all about her by the time you finally came back," he admits. "Didn't even think about her until you told me you were pregnant. Then I couldn't remember where I put her. I'm old, Katie; I forget things more easily now."
Kate looks closely at him—at her father, who'd caused her so much pain after they lost her mother—but she can't bring herself to feel angry. She's done being angry at her father. Instead, she looks down at the elephant—Elly, her mother has smartly named him before Kate could even lift her head; she was a gift from Aunt Theresa, who'd knitted Elly herself—and reaches out to pluck her out of the box by her trunk. She is so much tinier than Kate remembers. She used to have to wrap her whole arm around the toy to keep her in place, but now she practically fits in the palms of Kate's hands.
More tears flood Kate's eyes as she looks down at the elephant and she curses those damn hormones for making her so emotional. But Elly was her best friend growing up. She took her everywhere; muddied her up at her father's cabin, cuddled her on plane rides to visit family, read books with her under the covers when she should have been sleeping, and so much more. She'd even sat against the washing machine when Elly had to be cleaned, while her mother did other laundry. Usually she had a book to keep her company, but Kate could never pay attention to the words when Elly wasn't by her side.
She'd only stopped carrying her everywhere when her friends made fun of her for still having a stuffed animal. Then she only slept with Elly in her arms on the nights that her friends weren't over. Elly was actually the one that got her over her fear of the dark, curled up in a ball in the middle of her bed, eyes wide open in fear, her elephant pressed to her chest in comfort.
There were a lot of memories coupled with this little toy.
"Kate?" Castle whispers, his hand squeezing her hip. She starts and looks up at her husband, offering a wan smile.
"I'm okay," she says, and it's true. She's fine. Just…surprised. She'd thought Elly was lost forever. She turns to her dad. "Thank you," she says, "for finally bringing her back."
Jim nods. "Of course, Sweetheart," he replies. "I brought some of your mom's old photos, as well."
Kate groans, pressing her face into Elly's belly and Castle's eyes widen at her sudden change in demeanor. "What old photos?" he asks Jim.
"Mom thought she was a photographer," Kate grumbles, her response muffled by her elephant. "She took pictures of everything."
"That's not an exaggeration, either," Jim concurs as he pulls out a bundle of photographs. "These are just from Katie's first six months." There are at least a dozen more. "This entire box is her first, oh, I'd say ten years of life."
"And this is, like, box one out of a thousand, right?" she asks. Jim nods.
"But I'll give those ones to you, later," he says. "I thought you might appreciate these ones now that you're about to have your own little monster."
"I wasn't a monster," Kate huffs.
"I beg to differ," Jim chuckles. "Remember the bubble incident?"
Kate flushes bright red and Castle looks between her and her father. "What's the bubble incident?" he asks.
"Katie thought it would be a grand idea to put her bubblegum scented bubble bath into the dishwasher while it cleaned. She thought it would make the dishes taste like bubblegum."
"Oh no," Castle gasps, but there's a smile blooming on his face. "I'm guessing that didn't go well."
"Her mother and I found her sitting in a big pile of bubbles less than ten minutes later," Jim laughs. "You should have seen her face! Oh, I think you can." He reaches into the box and takes out one of the photo albums. "It was one of Jo's favorites." He flips it open to a page somewhere in the middle and then hands it off to Castle, who snorts at the faded photograph.
Kate is about four years old, her hair done up in pigtails that curl at the ends, her green eyes wide in surprise as she sits on the kitchen floor, surrounded—and covered—by pink bubbles. Elly is held tightly in her arms, looking much bigger in the tiny girl's arms. The caption underneath reads, "Note: don't leave Katie alone with the bubble bath." Castle snorts and Kate pinches his arm.
"Come on, honey," he says. "This is adorable. In fact, this reminds me of the time Alexis tried to do the same thing, but with the washing machine."
"She did?" Kate asks, the corners of her lips lifting up.
Castle nods. "She'd kill if she knew I told you this, but she poured an entire bottle in while I wasn't looking. The entire first floor of this place filled with bubbles while I was upstairs reading to her." He shakes his head. "Thank god I own this place, otherwise the landlord would have had a fit. I had to replace all the flooring."
Kate snorts at the image of a baby Alexis Castle in her place, swimming in a sea of bubbles while Castle panics behind her.
"See?" Jim says. "Everybody has embarrassing stories about when they were little. I bet even Martha could tell you a few about Rick, here."
"I definitely could!" a voice rings out from above. All three turn as Martha appears at the top of the stairs, dressed in a plum purple dress with gold trim. "Good afternoon, James," she greets with a warm smile.
"Good afternoon," Jim replies with a nod in return. "How are you?"
"I'm quite well, thank you," Martha says, embracing him. They hug for a moment and the Martha backs away, smiling over at Kate with an impish twinkle in her eyes. "While Richard never used his bubble bath to wash any of our clothing—I made sure to keep it locked away; I'm no fool—he did strut around in my heels for a week straight."
Now it's Castle's turn to blush as Kate grins toothily at him. "He did?" she asks.
"Oh yes," Martha confirms. "He must have been around seven at the time. He was the shortest boy in his class and got so sick and tired of it that he insisted on wearing a pair of my heels to school. I just couldn't talk him out of it."
Castle's ears become crimson red and Kate's smile could light up all of New York and more. "Is that so?" she asks. "Did he get bullied?" Her smile drops a little at the thought, but Martha shakes her head.
"Maybe at first," she says, "but he moved with confidence and poise; I don't think anybody gave him a problem after he stepped on that boy's foot. What was his name, Richard?" she asks.
"Terrance Matthews," Castle growls. "Jerk."
"Oh yes," Martha sighs. "He was a rather rude little boy. Anyway, Richard stepped right on his foot in those heels and that boy didn't bother him again. Neither did anybody else."
"Didn't you get in trouble?" Kate asks, turning to her husband.
"He was too embarrassed to tell the teacher that he got hurt by a boy in high heels," Castle replies with a grin.
Kate snorts at that and shakes her head as she looks back to Martha. "Do you have any pictures?" she asks.
"I believe so," Martha chuckles. "There was always a camera nearby; especially in my presence."
"Mostly selfies," Castle whispers to Kate and earns a stern look from his mother. He gives her an angelic smile, which she obviously doesn't buy.
"I think," she says, ignoring him, "that they're in the office upstairs. I'll go get some and perhaps we can all trade stories from our youth, yes?" Kate and Jim nod, though Castle looks unsure. Martha sighs. "And I'll get some of Alexis, as well," she says. He grins happily; the thought of embarrassing his firstborn too good to pass up.
While Martha runs upstairs, Castle and Kate help Jim lay out all the photographs from the box out, as well as the photo albums. Castle opens the one with a pink-diapered baby on the cover and smiles at the sonogram on the first page. The caption beneath it, in scrawled handwriting reads, "It's a girl!" He bets it's Johanna's writing.
He turns the page and there's a tired looking Mrs. Beckett, holding a ridiculously small pink bundle in the crook of her arm. The other is out of frame, but Castle bets it's a selfie, taken by her. And, as tired as she looks, Johanna practically radiates joy. Baby Kate has a tiny little tuft of dark brown hair on the crown of her head and her murky brown eyes are half-lidded. She has a tight grip on her mother's finger as it comes up to secure her chest.
She's absolutely adorable.
The caption underneath this one is simply Kate's full name, her weight, and height. She was so small.
Castle shows Kate and she smiles, running the tip of her finger over her mother's smiling face. Castle can practically feel the pang of loss she is undoubtedly experiencing right now and he attempts to shoo it away with the brush of his lips to her forehead. She gives him a quick smile and then turns the page, groaning at the next Polaroid.
It's quite a time jump. Kate looks to be about three or four months old, lying on her back in a crib in only a diaper on her chubby frame. Her hair has grown and now stands on end on her head, refusing to stay tamed. Baby Kate's mouth is open in a big smile as she looks up at the camera, eyes clearer than the first picture, showing a tiny trace of green in the irises, though still brownish.
"Her grandfather called her Porcupine," Jim laughs. "We could never get her hair to behave."
Sure enough, "Porcupine" is the caption for this photo and Kate—adult Kate—pouts as she teases the ends of her hair. Castle chuckles and presses a kiss to her cheek.
"At least it looks good now," he says. Kate rolls her eyes and he kisses her again, then turns the page.
Another time jump. In this photograph, Baby Kate is in a bouncer, her feet planted firmly on the ground on the middle of a doorway. Her arms stretch out towards the camera, her eyes wide with wonder as the flash is reflected in them, turning them almost emerald in that split-second. Her hair is longer, but still sticks straight up; not even the pink bow buried in her hair can keep it tamed.
"First assisted steps," is the caption here. He turns the page and there's two pictures, side by side.
The first is of Baby Kate standing in the middle of a mess of toys. Elly is at her feet, but she ignores her. Instead, she's looking at the camera, a lopsided grin on her face. Castle can see a few teeth in that grin. Her hair is tied into a ponytail that sticks straight up on her head, so it's a little bit more tame, but not by much. This time, she's dressed in a pair of purple denim overalls that stop above her ankles, and a pink shirt underneath them. Her hand is lifted in a wave towards the camera.
In the next photograph, she's visibly running towards the camera, arms outstretched, one bare foot in front of her and one behind in a long stride. She looks as if she's floating in mid-air. Her smile is wide and her rosy cheeks stretch with it. She was such a happy little girl.
He laughs at the caption: "Who says you have to walk before you can run?"
"You were a runner?" Castle asks her and Kate smiles, blushing.
"I guess so," she murmurs. "I can't really remember that time."
"Oh, she was a runner, alright," Jim laughs. "Had her mother seriously considering buying a leash."
"For her?" Castle asks, pointing at his wife, who takes a snap at his finger with her teeth. He pulls it away just in time. "I can see it," he says. Kate sticks her tongue out at him. Jim chuckles.
"But Jo hated child leashes, so we didn't end up buying one, but she did keep a vice-like grip on Katie's hand."
"I'm lucky my hand didn't develop with an imprint of hers," Kate remarks, wryly.
"If you'd just done what you were told," Jim says, trailing off. Kate sticks her tongue out at him and he rolls his eyes, but can't help the small quirk of his lips. "Like I said," he says to Rick; "Katie was wild well before her teen years, but it was quite an adventure, huh?" He gives Kate a loving smile and she reaches out, placing her hand over his.
"Yeah," she says, "it was."
I'm going to end it here. Unless you guys want more? It wouldn't be more than a three-shot, but do you want to hear about Castle's past? Let me know in your reviews.