Post-Always, After the Storm AU. For Alex's birthday.


Beckett stretches, limbs extending up and over her head as she blinks the sleep from her eyes. She feels funny; sore but relaxed, well-rested yet exhausted. Her gaze lands on the sleeping form next to her and her heart flutters in delight. Castle's naked chest rises and falls in a steady rhythm as he sleeps on, silent and dead to the world. Heat radiates around him, blanketing her in a pleasant cocoon of comfort and warmth.

She turns to him and the corners of her mouth tilt upwards in a soft smile. They'd been a little enthusiastic the night before, tumbling between his sheets, getting tangled up in love and lust and everything else in between. It's no wonder he's out of it, sleeping hard through the night. She doesn't know how long it's been since they succumbed to the pull of slumber, but the adrenaline and haze of want have faded away and despite the pleasant memories, she's starting to feel the uncomfortable effects of her fight with Maddox on the roof.

Her back hurts, pain pulsing around the bruises she knows have started forming and she groans into the darkness. Her entire upper body protests as she shifts on his bed, her shoulders tensing with discomfort as she sighs through the agony.

She kicks the covers off her side of the bed, goosebumps forming on her skin as the cool air settles around her. She sneaks a glance at her bed partner and wrinkles her nose, making a mental note - Castle sleeps like the dead, generates a lot of heat while snoozing.

Easing herself into an upright position, she swings her feet over the side and her toes curl as they come into contact with the cool hardwood flooring of his bedroom. It's still dark out, save from the sliver of moonlight peeking through the window. If her body wasn't currently aching all over, she'd wake him up for another round, show him a few other tricks she has up her sleeve.

Ah, she can save those for later

Her bones crack as she stands up and she rolls her neck to release the building tension. She'd stuffed a bottle of painkillers into one of the pockets of her leather jacket before she'd made the trek through the rain to his door and it's currently screaming her name.

Spying Castle's maroon shirt discarded on the floor, she picks it up and slips into it, basking in the lingering scent of paper and want - of freedom and desire. She stills at the thought and frowns. God, one night with the man and he's already turned her into a sappy mess.

She finds that she doesn't quite mind it.

Smiling, she picks up his boxers and tugs that on as well, still finding it a little uncomfortable to be completely bare in his apartment. She's now swathed in everything Castle and the very notion that she's in his clothes warms her enough for her to brave the slight chill and make her way out of his room.

The loft is silent, save for the soft pitter-patter of rainfall against the windows. She picks up her jacket, gropes it until she finds the bulge within the side pocket. The bottle rattles loudly, disturbing the calm serenity of the early hours of the morning.

Beckett tips the bottle, palms the two pills that fall out and walks to the kitchen. She's visited Castle often enough over the last year that she knows where he keeps most of his things. She pulls open a cabinet door and grabs a glass, eyebrow quirking when she spies a bag of M&Ms stashed right at the back.

She recalls a conversation he shared with her a few weeks ago, before their mini-fallout, about Alexis being concerned about his unhealthy eating. This must have been his way of both appeasing his well-intended daughter and still being able to indulge in his childish habits.

She pulls the bag out and settles it onto the counter. She fills the glass with water as her eyes dart to the entrance to his office. She can bring the bag to him later and maybe they can enjoy the candy together. In bed. Naked.

Yes.

She swallows the pills, chases them with a sip of water but before she can set the glass on the table, the front door flies open and she chokes, startled by the sudden intrusion. A hand flies to her chest, tries to calm her racing heart as she gulps down the rest of the water.

Alexis stumbles through the doorway, heels falling from her hands, clattering onto the floor. Beckett blinks and licks her lips, fingers clasped in front of her on the counter as she stares at the younger woman.

A nervous shiver travels down her spine and she finds herself unsure about what to do next. Alexis isn't privy to the recent change between herself and her father and she shifts from one foot to the other, brain working overtime to come up with something to say.

"Detective?" Alexis stares at her, confusion etched in her features. "Whadd'ya doing here, so late? Is it late? I don't know? Is that water?"

Beckett nods, speechless. Alexis is drunk. Not just tipsy, but actually drunk. Her fingers press between her eyebrows, massaging the spot as she decides on the next course of action. She's so far out of her comfort zone, not quite sure where her responsibilities lie when it comes to the younger girl. Her eyes fall on the empty glass in front of her.

She can start there.

"Um, yeah, hi. Here's some water. Sit down, Alexis. Please, before you fall over."

Alexis nods, eyes shutting as she eases into the bar stool by the counter, swaying precariously before she collapses into the seat. Beckett stifles a smile, memories of herself being in that very same position flooding back to her. Alexis pillows her head on her hands, muttering into the cave created by her folded arms.

"I just had one, or two, or maybe a few, maybe a lot - I don't know, but I was dancing and it was so much fun, ow, my head hurts, Beckett."

"Oh Alexis," Beckett says as her fingers card through Alexis's red tresses. "I'm sorry, but this is gonna be so much worse tomorrow."

"Nooooooo," Alexis moans. "Noooo, Beckett, help me."

It's almost comical and Beckett grimaces on her behalf. She's not sure how much exposure Alexis has had to alcohol - with Castle as her father, she's sure it's not her first time drinking - but it's clear she's never been this drunk before.

Part of her wants to wake Castle up so he can take care of his daughter, but another part of her remembers her own father and how he'd hovered over her one night after she had a little too much. It had been so overwhelming, and she's not sure if Alexis was up to it. Still, she posed the question to her.

"Do you want me to get your father? He can-"

Her head shoots up, eyes blue and piercing as she shakes her head vehemently. "No! Don't wake him up, please! I can just sleep. I'll tell him tomorrow. Please!"

Beckett nods and slides a glass of water toward her, urging her to take a sip. "Okay, I won't tell him tonight. But he's going to want to know about this, you know that right?"

The water disappears from the glass quickly, and Alexis sighs. "I know. I'll tell him. I'm hungry, Beckett." She sways again, body tilting to the left and Beckett gasps before throwing an arm out to steady her.

Beckett comes around the counter to stand next to the younger woman, curling an arm around her shoulders to keep her in place. She's aware that Alexis is probably still a little wary of her presence in Castle's life - especially with the way she left things with Castle before tonight - but Alexis seems rather unconcerned with her being at the loft so she takes the chance to comfort her.

"You want something to eat? I can look for something, make a sandwich for you if you want?"

Alexis shakes her head and leans into Beckett, her body loose and fluid against hers. "I want other things. Ice… ice cream. Lots, please? Dad hides them behind the vegetables. And couch. I wanna lie down on my couch."

Beckett grins, her arm tightening around Alexis. She's definitely Castle's daughter, true and true.

She nods her assent to Alexis's request and helps Alexis off the barstool. Together they shuffle their way into the living room and she helps the redhead onto the couch. She stands over her for a moment, marvels at how young she looks, and a surge of love and affection swells from within her.

She'd watched Alexis grow up over the last four years, given Castle advice about her - and in turn heard enough stories that made her feel like she might know the girl a lot better than she thought she did.

Picking up a throw from the side of the couch, she drapes it around Alexis's shoulders and whispers a promise to be right back with a giant bowl of ice cream.

She finds three tubs in the freezer, under a few bags of frozen peas - no surprise there - and a slew of toppings scattered in various cabinets in the kitchen. She makes up two bowls of ice cream, three scoops - one of each flavor, and sets in on a tray along with smaller bowls of every topping.

After a second of thought, she adds the bag of M&Ms to the tray and carries it out to the living room.

Alexis perks up at her footsteps, neck craning around as she tracks Beckett's movements. She moves to the side, making room, and Beckett settles in, her side pressed up against the soft throw covering Alexis's body.

They eat in silence, not as awkward as Beckett feared it might be, but it's oddly comfortable. Alexis turns to her after a while, setting her half empty bowl on the coffee table in front of them.

"Thank you, Beckett."

Beckett swallows at the honesty that shines through Alexis's eyes and her skin flushes. The young girl had snuck into her life, much like her father did, and made a little home for herself in her heart. She cares about her, no doubt about it - and it might kill her, especially with the recent change in Castle's and her relationship, if sober Alexis disapproved of them.

"Hey no need to thank me, Alexis, I'm … here. I'm here for you," Beckett says, offering her a soft smile. "Anytime."

Alexis sighs, her own lips curling into a smile. "Okay, Beckett. Okay. I'll sleep now."

Beckett's eyes widen in alarm as Alexis crawls up onto the couch. "Beckett, can I sleep here?"

Speechless, Beckett grunts out a surprised 'yes', and before she can stop her, Alexis has arranged herself on the couch, so she's stretched out lengthwise, her head pillowed on Beckett's lap.

Okay.

This is fine.

Her heart thuds under her breastbone as her fingers fall onto Alexis's head, stroking her soft strands of her hair in an attempt to soothe her into sleep. She can do this - this is not weird at all.

She looks down on her sleeping form and smiles. Alexis sniffles, the adorable sound echoing through the silent loft.

"Hey, Beckett?" Alexis mumbles, words slurred with exhaustion.

"Yeah?"

"You look good in Dad's clothes."


Thanks for reading!

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