Disclaimer: I own nothing. I'm just borrowing Mr. Marlowe et al's wonderful creations.
Detective Kate Beckett holstered her gun, knowing that it was over. It hadn't been an easy case by any stretch of the imagination, but they'd finally broke it wide open with a typically 'Castle' inspired revelation. This had led them to one of the seedier neighbourhoods in the city, and the knowledge that this guy was dangerous, vicious and was not going to make it easy on them. She, Ryan and Esposito, plus backup, had gone in hard. He'd been given his warning but as soon as he refused to relinquish his weapon, going to far as to fire one stray round in Ryan's direction, they had taken him down in less time than it had taken Castle to go rogue on her once more and make his way up to the shitty little SRO on his own. At least these days he always took care to wear his vest.
She had no way of knowing which of them had fired the kill shot, so as she waited for the CSUs to turn up and do their thing, she glanced around the room. To say squalid was being kind. The place wasn't worth the floor it was built on. Cracked, bare plaster, an ominous dripping sound came from somewhere underneath the sink and a smell that even after all her years on the force she couldn't – and didn't really want to – identify.
"Not exactly the Ritz, is it?" Castle's glib remark caused all three of the detectives in the room to turn towards him.
"Nah, man, why waste money on a concierge and decorative moulding when you can have cockroaches and rats?" Esposito replied as Castle did what Castle did best, snooped around.
Kate was busy calculating just how much crack was still stocked on the work bench when she heard Castle's voice from across the room.
"What was that…?"
Again the writer caused everyone's attention to leave whatever they were currently doing and their eyes to follow him as he started to push against what looked like a small stowaway cupboard.
As usual, Beckett's warning came a fraction of a second too late – not that he would have listened to her anyway – as she watched him pull the cupboard door open slightly, peer inside and then fling to door wide open.
"Oh my God!" It was the obvious shock in his voice that had her striding over to him. The same thing must have carried to Ryan and Esposito too, but they were closer and got there first. Their answering 'holy shit's' caused her skin to itch with foreboding.
It was really only a matter of seconds before she had crossed the room to reach the three men, but already Castle was shoulders deep in the cupboard and reaching to pull something out. Her hand automatically went to her holster and just as she was pulling out her Sig, she saw what Castle had lifted out of the tiny, dark space. She knew her mouth dropped open, but the sight before her shook her.
"Oh my God…"
"Exactly my thoughts, Detective Beckett…" Castle wasn't looking at her as he answered; rather he was staring at the unnaturally limp bundle he hadn't hesitated to settle into his arms.
This was not good.
She looked at her partners, their faces only showing the disgust and shock that was reflected on hers. That unnaturally limp bundle was quite obviously a baby, and after a quick assessment, Kate could see that, while shallow, the little chest was rising and falling. The baby was dirty, having been in less than sanitary conditions for who knew how long, obviously malnourished and, she thought sickly, fairly obviously drugged to keep quiet. She looked away, not able to swallow the disgust lodged firmly in her throat. Who in their right mind would… why would they… the questions flittered around her mind as she realised this case had just gotten a whole lot harder.
"Well, this complicates matters." Ryan noted the obvious.
"No, bro, that complicates matters…" Kate looked up and let her eyes follow Esposito's finger as it guided her to the tableau in front of her.
Settling on Castle she saw it more clearly than she was comfortable with. Because there, right in front of her was Rick Castle, holding a tiny, raggedy baby, his finger stroking reverently over the small button nose.
Her gaze locked onto that subconscious gesture of paternal protection and right then and there, she realised that she was watching Richard Castle fall in love…