A Caskett AU
"And when I looked down at her, this feeling hit me. Like I'd been struck by lightning. It was love. That instant, inexplicable love you can only feel for your child." – Richard Castle
"I don't know what I'm doing, Kate."
"And you think I do?" she blurts out, incredulous.
It comes out more than a little snappish, she knows, but he cannot honestly be serious. He knows nothing, it's true, but she knows even less than that! Turning to her for anything more than moral support is a terrible idea. The most she can do is pace with him, and she's already doing a pretty good job of that.
"No, no, I know you're just as clueless as I am," he sighs, scrubbing a hand over his face. She softens a touch; his distress is genuine, as is his confusion. "Erm, sorry. That sounded bad."
Kate laughs, giving her head a shake. "No, you're right. I don't know what to tell you; it's the blind leading the blind right now, Rick."
"Yeah," he breathes, rubbing his face again. "I'm just–"
"Freaking out," she supplies, nodding when he nods.
"To put it mildly. You're the cop, is this even legal? Can she do this? Isn't it abandonment or something?"
Beckett blinks, looking to the massive pile of stuff that had been dropped on their – his – doorstep. It's not enough, either; he's going to need more, so much more.
"Well, I'm a cop, not a lawyer, but technically no, I think. She drew up a custodial rights agreement, turning sole custody over to you provided you sign–"
"Which is insane, because I have no idea what to do with a baby–"
"Yes, well, your lack of experience aside, I think that from a legal standpoint she did it the right way. Or she's trying to. Assuming you sign the form acknowledging paternity, I believe everything else will be legal. You could check with a lawyer – and you probably should – but I don't think it would change the answer about legality of it. You could contest it, or refuse to sign, but she could take you to court and force a paternity test, I think. Which… that could work in your favor if you're not sure," she suggests.
Rick shakes his head, wincing sheepishly. "No, no I'm sure. That part's definitely true."
"Yeah, I figured. Even so, you could try to contest it, I guess, but that's almost guaranteed to get messy. And I don't know that the court would handle it differently if you did. I also don't know what would happen to…" she trails off, glancing toward the carrier sitting at the base of the couch again before looking back at him.
Her friend exhales, pacing again only to stop midway across the living room. He looks so lost, her heart clenches in sympathy. She would be freaking out if she were in his place. Hell, she's freaking out now.
"So, what you're saying is you can't arrest her?"
Kate snorts. "Sadly, Rick, I cannot arrest your ex-girlfriend for this."
He looks hopeful. "Does that mean you can arrest her for something else?"
She rolls her eyes, letting that slide and focusing on the crisis at hand. "Look, she had to believe you'll take good care of the baby, that's why she's trying to turn custody over to you."
He sighs, but nods.
"What about your mom?" she asks, steering him away from the idea of her putting his ex in cuffs and back to the more present issues. "Could you call her?"
Rick shakes his head, pacing past her. "She's touring for the next month and a half, so she's not in the city. Plus, she'll murder me if I interrupt her big run."
Even after all these years, the relationship between Rick and his mother still baffles her. If the shoe were on the other foot, her mother would've been her first call. And Johanna would've been here in a heartbeat, no hesitation, no concern for her work commitments. Surely Martha would do the same if she found out her only son had become a dad without any notice at all?
"She could help, though. Better than I can. Besides, don't you think she should know before she comes back from her tour and gets a shock?"
Rick exhales. "I'll tell her, Kate. I will. Just… not tonight. I just want to get through tonight and tomorrow, and figure out what I'm going to do, then I'll figure out what to tell her."
"Okay," she says instead of pushing. He's not in the mood to debate about his mother's priorities, or his perception of his mother's priorities. "That's fair. Wanting to get your footing first is fair."
He nods. "I'm just glad you're here and you have my back." He gives her an uneasy smile she returns without a second thought. She is here, and she'll do whatever she can for him.
This is what they do for one another, take on the challenges that get thrown at them, keep each other grounded. He helped her through her mother's death, helps her every day to keep her from getting lost in her grief; she can do this with him.
"Yeah," Kate breathes, stepping into his side, resting her cheek on his bicep. Her arm winds around him, offering him the comfort of the embrace he so often provides her. "I have your back, Rick."
His lips touch her hair, just as they have a million times before, but she gives herself an extra few seconds to relish in the affection. This is big for him, for his life, which means it's big for her, too. Differently, of course, but still big.
"Okay, here's what I think: first order of business is to figure out what she has already and what she needs," Castle says, though it sounds more like a question. "And then call someone to bring in whatever we don't have? I'm sure I can find a service to go shopping for me, even at this hour."
"Rick," she starts, glancing across the room to where the carrier sits. "Maybe–"
"Oh, and we'll have to figure out where she's going to sleep – tonight, I mean. I can't leave a baby to sleep on the living room floor, or in the carrier, can I?"
"Rick," she tries again, but he's oblivious to her efforts.
"Meredith did say something about a portable crib. We could set that up in my ro–"
"Castle," Kate snaps, yanking him from of his rapid-fire spiral. "Why don't you start by holding her?"
He blinks, his brow furrowing in confusion before her words sink in and the frantic look in his eyes fades.
"I'll do a quick inventory and then figure out where to put all the stuff Meredith brought for now. You just… hold the baby. Hold your daughter."
He nods, his shoulders sinking. "Right. I should've thought of that."
Beckett shakes her head, rubbing his arms with both hands. "Cut yourself some slack, Rick. You're overwhelmed. This wasn't exactly the Saturday you were preparing for."
"Yeah, that's an understatement. Plan for a poker game, get a baby instead."
She laughs, giving his arms a gentle squeeze before releasing him to cross the room and drop beside the car seat carrier. She moves behind them, grabbing the first of the bags and opening it to see what exactly Meredith Dixon had left with the baby.
"She looks like me," Rick says after a few seconds. "My mother, too, but I see myself in her face."
Beckett smiles, glancing down at them. "She's cute enough, I guess," she teases.
Pursing her lips to avoid laughing, she reaches out a hand and gives the back of his neck a squeeze. Her experience with babies being what it is – non-existent – she doesn't have much to offer in the way of advice or comparison, but she can admit that the kid in front of her with her shock of red hair and sweet bow lips is cuter than most usually are.
"What's her name? You said Meredith hadn't picked something yet. Not that you've had a lot of time to think about it yourself, but–"
"Alexis." He reaches out a hand, touching the soft green baby blanket. "Alexis Harper."
"Castle," she adds, waiting for his eyes to meet hers. "Alexis Harper Castle, yeah?"
Rick's lips lift. "Yeah. Alexis Harper Castle. That's you, Pumpkin," he says, addressing the baby. "Sorry you had an identity crisis for a few weeks, but we worked that out, didn't we?"
The baby sleeps on, her lips pursed in the same expression Rick sports when he's deep in thought. Rick brushes gentle fingertips over Alexis's forehead, moving down her face and stroking her cheek.
"There's a lot going on right now, I know, but we'll work it out. Don't worry about any of it."
Kate holds her breath as he fumbles his way through moving the handle of the carrier back and slipping his large hands underneath the tiny girl. Alexis stirs as Rick lifts her, making a soft sound, but doesn't wake as he gets her settled on his chest.
They both exhale once he's seated on the couch, looking down at the baby as she sleeps on, oblivious to the upheaval around her.
"Oh," Rick breathes, dipping his head, dusting his lips over Alexis's hair. "Wow."
Wow is right. His face is light with wonder, awe, and she feels her throat tighten. "Yeah," she clears her throat. "I'll just get this stuff set up. Let you two bond."
"Kate." Rick catches her hand before she can make a strategic retreat and get the flutter of her heart under control. "There's time," he says. "Sit with us for a little while, then we'll deal with it."
She gives a slow nod, lowering beside them. Rick murmurs a thank you, his fingers slipping over hers. She squeezes his hand in return.
Kate alternates between watching him and watching Alexis, cataloging more similarities between them. She narrows her eyes when Rick catches her, but he doesn't tease. He just smiles, allowing her to see that while there's still hesitance in his gaze, something else burns bright in his eyes, too.
"You're in love, aren't you?"
He chuckles, making a face when the movement jostles Alexis. The baby doesn't wake, allowing them to relax for the moment. "Little bit, yeah."
"I can tell." She grins, resting her chin on his arm. He's smitten and it's, well, pretty damn attractive. (She's never going to tell him that, though. He already knows he's good looking; she's not going to give his ego too much of a boost.)
"You know, I'm sure I'm going to freak out again the second she starts crying, but this is nice. I can do this."
Kate rubs his arm. "You can do this even when she starts crying, Rick."
Rick offers her a grateful smile, lowering his chin at the praise. Kate stretches up, dusting a kiss over his cheek, allowing her lips to linger against his skin.
"I'll go get that crib thing set up in your room."
She's careful when she stands, giving Rick and the baby one last glance over her shoulder as she hauls some of the baby gear into her friend's bedroom. Rick's attention has already returned to his tiny daughter, and she watches him count Alexis's tiny fingers and touch her button nose.
Jeez, he really has a kid. Rick Castle, a man she's been friends with for over a decade, a man she's fought hard not to love (only to fail and fail spectacularly) has a kid. A tiny, beautiful child he already loves beyond reason. And she has a front row seat to it all. To the joys and the insanity, the smiles and the laughter – the tears, too. There's an entire lifetime of experiences ahead of them, and she gets to be a part of it if he lets her. She might not have a clue what to do with the little thing in his arms, but she hopes she gets to be a part of it.
Kate exhales, lifting the portable crib and arranging it by the side of the bed that Rick usually sleeps on (when he's not sprawled in the middle, that is), making sure he'll be able to get up without tripping and falling. Most of the time, she won't be here to help with the midnight feedings and diaper changes, but she can at least make it easier for him to get around when he gets up with the baby.
A sharp cry pierces the quiet, followed by a panicked call of her name.
"Help!" he adds, just in case she hadn't figured out why he's summoning her.
Kate puts the rest of the baby's things on the chair, making sure nothing's in the walkway before she returns to the living room to back Rick up.
Together they spend the rest of the evening walking the floor and figuring out diapers and formula, how to hold and soothe the baby without freaking out. It's not a perfect system, they're both fumbling and inept at best, but they make it through the first few hours without issue, without needing to call in reinforcements from the outside world. It seems to be enough for Castle, making it enough for her.
The rest, whatever that might entail, will follow.
Prompted a long, long time ago by Anon: "Kate and Rick have been best friend's for a long time. She keeps him grounded what with his new found author fame, he keeps her life lively and fun. But one day a knock on the door changes everything. Meredith, Castle's ex flame shows up baby(Alexis) in hand. Meredith shoves the baby to Castle and tells him she's off to Hollywood to be an actress and has no time for a baby. Kate suddenly finds herself in the mom role to a gorgeous baby girl. Will this change her best friend status also? :D"
I have no idea if you're still reading Castle fanfic at this point, Anon, and I'm so sorry it took me so long to write this story for you. I hope if you're still here, that you enjoyed it!
6 years ago today I took a leap and posted my very first Castle fanfic, Give Her Joy. Now, 6 years and hundreds of Castle drabbles, ficlets, and full size fics later, I wanted to take a moment to express my extraordinary gratitude to each and every one of you for your support, your kind words, the way you make me think about my writing and help me to become a better writer. Thank you all for reading this story and thank you all for reading every story that I've written and will write.
Until next time!