Word Count: 1,050
Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following work of fiction.
Author's Notes: Set some time in the Days-verse. Can work as a stand alone.
Beckett's dark lashes fluttered against her porcelain skin as she lay in the twilight between sleep and waking. She reveled in the rare stillness of the very early morning, both mind and body. The usual thousand thoughts that all vied for her attention were silent, as she broke the surface of consciousness. Even the city outside seemed to be holding its breath, waiting.
Castle slept soundly next to her, his bare back turned grey in the dim moonlight. One arm was sprawled vaguely in her direction while a stray foot broke loose of the sheets and hung off the bed. His handsome face was relaxed; an open canvas without expectation. He wasn't the novelist, the son, the father or even the lover; he simply was. For a moment Beckett wondered at the fact that she was allowed to see him like that. That he trusted her enough to be vulnerable near her was surreal. Yet there he was with no other thoughts beyond his dreams and taking that next breath.
A movement outside the window tore her attention from her observation. For a moment there was nothing else, and then a stark, fluffy flake fell against the window pane. It melted almost instantly, unable to withstand even the slight heat of the cool glass, but was quickly followed by another. The first snowfall of the season. Full of bittersweet nostalgia, she gently kissed Castle's bare shoulder and slipped out of bed.
She pulled on one of Castle's hooded sweaters and a pair of thick socks over her tank top and plaid pajama bottoms. Wearing his clothes had become like a second nature to her when they were at home. Whosever clothes happened to be closest were what she grabbed. Mostly his as Castle's sweaters and shirts rarely made it to the hamper or back in their closet.
Quiet in her socked feet, Beckett padded out into the silent hallway. A clock could be heard ticking from somewhere, the faint hum of the refrigerator downstairs, all sounds of home.
Slowly she turned the knob on the room across the hall. Alexis lay burrowed under her thick winter duvet, only an errant foot sticking out. 'Just like her father' Beckett smiled, shaking her head. Walking to the end of the bed, she wiggled the exposed pale pink toenails and whispered the teen's name.
"Alexis, wake up."
The only response was a twitch of the foot and a sleepy grumble.
"Come on sweetie, wake up," Beckett coaxed, moving to crouch at the girl's head.
"Kate?" Alexis murmured. "What's wrong? Is Dad okay?"
"Yes, he's fine. He's sleeping," Beckett said, brushing ginger strands of hair behind the teen's ear.
"Lucky him," she muttered, a bit of her father's sarcasm bleeding into her words.
"Put a sweater and some socks on and meet me downstairs in five minutes," Beckett grinned, kissing the girl's forehead and disappearing back into the dark hallway.
When Alexis appeared a few minutes later Kate was wearing a coat and holding an afghan from the couch. She guided the girl to the closet, letting her bundle up in a coat and hat, before taking her hand and leading her out into the hallway of the building. They walked down the hall, passing the elevator in favor of the stairs and heading up one more floor to the roof.
A low, stinging wind nipped an Alexis's exposed face while Kate propped the door open. The sounds of the city seemed far away, muted by the snow. It was like they were in a bubble; separate from the rest of the world. Brushing off a section of the roof, Kate spread out the blanket and sat down, revealing a thermos and two mugs. She poured hot chocolate into both, watching as steam rose in wispy tendrils from the container. Kate passed one to Alexis and recapped the thermos.
"My mother and I used to do this," Kate murmured quietly, breaking the silence of their first few sips. "I remember she used to make special hot chocolate and we'd sit up here for hours. I always liked how it seemed like we were the only people in the world."
"What was she like?" Alexis asked, resting her head on her bent knees.
Kate exhaled slowly, her breathing fogging in front of her, and seemed to think for a moment.
"I don't remember her as well as I used to. That happens I suppose, with time. I do remember how happy she always was. She and my dad were always laughing. I can't even think of a time I ever saw them argue. Not seriously. When I was little I used to think she was the smartest person in the whole world. No matter what I asked, she always had an answer. If she didn't know, then we'd write the question down and every Sunday we'd look it up at the library."
Alexis watched as Kate's eyes held a faraway look and knew she was in the vast library stacks instead of a chilly rooftop. Then as quickly as it had come, the expression left and Kate was with her again in the cold, sipping hot chocolate.
"She sounds really great," said Alexis, finishing off the last of her hot chocolate. "You must really miss her."
Kate nodded, touching her jacket where Alexis knew her mother's ring resided close to her heart.
They sat for a time longer, each contemplative in the stillness. Alexis thought about the envy she used to feel when her friend's mother's used to pick them up from school. She loved her father more than anything, but at times wondered if she was missing out not having her mother around. For a moment she turned her gaze to Kate.
The first woman she could remember, other than her grandmother, whose maternal attentions seemed genuine. Kate was the sort of woman she had wished her mother was when she was growing up. The pretty detective helped her with homework, fussed over her when she was upset, and was always eager to hear how her day went, no matter how mundane.
Alexis had long ago accept how her flighty mother was. But if it opened her father up for someone like Kate Beckett then maybe, she thought, it wasn't such a bad thing.