Word Count: 1, 603
Rating: T (Adult subject matter)
Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following work of fiction.
Beckett looked at the clock as the officer related the information of the case. Three am.
"Okay, wake up Ryan and Esposito. I'll be there soon."
Disconnecting the call, Beckett set the phone back on her nightstand and turned over to see Castle sleeping soundly. With a content smile, she ran a hand through his sleep tousled hair, watching as his blue eyes fluttered open.
"Hey, everything okay?" he murmured. Even a year after her miscarriage, he still worried about her. Beckett assumed it would never change.
"We've got a case, sounds right up our alley," she said, twining their fingers together and kissing him awake.
"I thought we could jump in the shower, save some time."
Castle groaned as Beckett straddled him and ran her hands down his chest.
"Kate, honey, I can't," Castle said, stilling her hands.
Beckett fixed him with a skeptical look, raising an eyebrow.
"Alexis and I have a thing today."
"Really. What sort of thing?" Beckett said, crossing her arms and leaning back against his raised legs.
"Uhh, a school thing," he fumbled.
"A school thing?"
"A school thing."
Castle nodded and Beckett leaned forward.
"It's Saturday," she whispered, purposely lowering her voice.
"Well it's a-a thing," he said, avoiding her eyes.
Again Beckett crossed her arms.
"So let me get this right. You're turning down shower sex and a grisly murder for a 'thing'" she said, making air quotes with her fingers.
"Well I'm sure I can fit that first part in," Castle grinned, running his hands up her thighs.
Beckett smacked his hands and rolled off, heading for the bathroom.
"Sorry babe, it was kind of a time sensitive deal. Now if I don't hurry, I'll be late."
She gave him a saucy look and disappeared through the door, her waving fingers trailing behind her. Castle sighed, running his hands through his hair. 'Focus on the big picture' he reminded himself, then got out of bed, not planning on sleeping any longer.
By the time Beckett came down the stairs, fastening her holster to her belt, Castle was setting out a travel mug filled with coffee for her.
"Thanks," she said, kissing him deeply.
"I'll call you later."
"Okay, love you," Castle said, handing Beckett her coat from the closet.
Beckett shut the door behind her and Castle let out a sigh of relief. So she knew he was up to something, but hopefully had no idea what. Deciding to bide his time until Alexis woke up; Castle went to his study, intent on getting some writing done.
Castle held out a hand to help Alexis from the car and onto the curb. She waited while her dad thanked the driver and shut the door, then took his arm and let him lead her into the store. Alexis smiled letting out a sigh of feminine delight as she took in the familiar blue boxes wrapped in white ribbons and the display cases filled with sparkling jewels and diamonds.
"Mr. Castle?" asked one of the sales managers, coming out from behind the main counter.
Castle held out a hand to shake, letting go of Alexis.
"I'm Kendra Fletcher, I've been assigned to help you with whatever you need."
"That's very generous, thank you. Ms. Fletcher this is my daughter Alexis."
"It's good to meet you. If you'll follow me," Kendra said, flipping her blonde hair over her shoulder and walking towards the back of the store.
"Now I understand you're here for an engagement ring?"
"Yes, we're starting here and seeing what's out there."
Kendra stopped at a square counter of display cases.
"Well let's hope you don't have to look any further. These are some of the things were offer. Do you have any preferences?"
"White gold," Alexis spoke up.
Castle looked down at her thoughtfully and smiled.
"Alright, then we'll start here," Kendra said, going around behind the counter and pulling out a series of possible rings.
"These are our more traditional settings and they get progressively more elaborate from left to right. Would you like to look at matching wedding bands as well?"
"That might be a good idea," Castle said as he and Alexis perused the rings.
"I'll go get some then," Kendra said, walking across to the other part of the square of counters.
Castle looked over at Alexis, who was busy studying each potential ring.
"Thanks for coming," Castle said, turning back to the rings.
"Where else would I be?"
"Well not many kids would be eager to pick out their future stepmother's engagement ring."
"Since when have you known me to ever be like other kids?" Alexis laughed.
"Dad, don't take this the wrong way. I mean I like Kate and I like having her around, but are you doing this because of the baby?"
"That was a year ago," Castle said quietly, surprised at how much it still hurt to talk about the life they lost.
"I'm doing it because I love Kate and I want to spend the rest of my life with her."
"I just don't want to see either of you get hurt because you rushed into something that you weren't ready for. I love you both too much to watch that happen."
Castle turned and hugged Alexis, kissing her forehead.
"Thank you for worrying, but it's okay. I've thought about this a lot, and I'm doing this because I love her."
"Good, because if you screw this up all her friends have guns and Lanie would know how to make it look like an accident."
Castle laughed, hugging Alexis again.
"Believe me, that was the first thing I thought about."
Castle held Beckett's hand as they walked through the park, watching the snow fall around them. He touched the box in his other pocket nervously. It had been there for almost a week, but he hadn't had the courage to actually give it to her yet. Stopping at one of the skating rinks, Castle got them both hot chocolate and joined Beckett sitting on one of the benches around the ice.
For a few moments they sat in silence, watching the people glide around in circles, some better than others. Setting the paper cup on the bench beside him, Castle reached into his pocket.
"That could have been us, you know," Beckett said quietly, pointing to a couple helping their toddler push a chair around the ice.
Castle let go of the ring box and looked at the family.
"She would have been learning to walk right now, crawling all over the place and getting into everything because she can't do as she's told. Just like you."
He laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders and pressing his forehead to her temple.
"That would have made two Beckett women for me to chase after."
"I still miss her," she breathed.
"Me too, love. I think we always will. Do you want me to book a session with Dr. Palmer?"
Beckett shook her head.
"No, I'm okay. Just sometimes I see women on the street with their babies and I think about how old she would be, or what she would be like. When I can't sleep I get the sonogram photo from your office and just look at it."
"I know. And I wish I could take that pain away for you."
"You do," Beckett whispered, kissing him.
"A little more every day."
Castle held her as they watched the skaters again, ring forgotten for the time being.
Sitting on the couch in the dim glow of the firelight, Castle held the soft grey bunny that usually took up residence on the dresser in his bedroom. As the need for the toy lessened, it had earned a place beside Beckett's jewelry box on the dresser. Every now and then Castle or Beckett, sometimes even Alexis would take the rabbit down from its perch and hold it or carry it around for awhile.
"What do you think Anna Rose?" he sighed, sliding further down the couch and letting Bunny rest on his chest.
"I'm going to ask Mommy to marry me. I'm just not sure how."
Stroking the Bunny's soft fur, Castle fell deep into concentration. So deep that he didn't hear footsteps on the stairs and jumped at the voice in the firelight.
"What are you doing down here?" Beckett asked, folding her arms across her chest and running across the cool hardwood to curl up with him on the couch.
"Just thinking," Castle said, letting Beckett arrange herself with her head resting on his chest and both their hands holding Bunny.
"This," he whispered, setting the ring box in her line of sight.
Castle felt more than heard her breath catch and her body stiffened in surprise.
"Rick," Beckett said, sitting up and looking him in the eyes.
Any doubts he might have had vanished at the sight of her in front of him. Bunny clutched to her chest and the ring box in the other hand, wide eyes looking at him in careful astonishment.
"I've been carrying that around with me for a week."
"Why didn't you say something?" she breathed, still afraid to open the box.
"I wasn't sure you'd say yes. I don't have the greatest track record for this sort of thing."
"Well I'm not sure I would be able to say no."
Castle sat up, taking the ring box from her. He opened it to reveal the simple 1 karat white gold ring Alexis had picked out.
"Then at the risk of sounding horribly clichéd; Katherine Marie Beckett will you marry me?"