In honor of the blizzard that swept through a good portion of the country yesterday, leaving a 6 foot snow drift in between our house and the neighbor's house and canceling schools and malls and most of life in general, I have crafted this little fluffy ditty to take advantage of my time being snowed in, while the mood is there. This has nothing whatsoever to do with my other story, "The Plan", but I just couldn't resist taking a little detour. Pure fluff, nothing more. If you don't like fluff, stop reading now. Hope you enjoy it.
By the way, Castle and Beckett are not quite together as a couple yet, but they're not with anyone else either. And as far as where they're going (at least in this story)...you'll just have to keep reading.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in the story below. I just like to make sure they have some adventures.
The blizzard was coming.
They'd been at Castle's Hamptons house since the middle of the afternoon on the previous day. It was just the four of them: Castle, Alexis, Martha and Beckett. The group of detectives were scheduled for some time off anyway, after a series of back to back murder cases, and with the impending storm coming, the family decided to get out of the city and go to the Hamptons until the city was cleaned up again. The storm was supposed to be bigger than the one six years ago, and that one had resulted in around two feet of snow being dumped on them in about a day, so 'bigger' in reference to that was really saying something.
On the spur of the moment, Alexis had called up Kate and asked her to come along with them; she knew they didn't have to work for several days, and she cajoled Kate into coming with them to help her with her homework. Her private school had been canceled for the next two days in with the advanced warning of the impending storm. Alexis figured that since she was going to be snowed in, she might as well do something useful. And Kate could actually help her with her French, as opposed to her dad, who absolutely murdered the pronunciation, and her grams, whose sum total of knowledge of the French language consisted of "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?"
Kate had agreed, thinking that Alexis' proposal sounded a lot better than staying in the city (where she would probably end up going into work anyway). So the foursome arrived at the house with warm clothing, movies, games, french textbooks and enough comfort food to last them for a week. Kate had sat in the back with Alexis on the drive, looking over the girl's homework to find out how accomplished she was at the language. She didn't want to go too fast and confuse her. Every so often, Kate would say something in french and Alexis would tentatively reply. Castle thought it was cute, until the french got more animated and the laughing started. Then, he got paranoid. What were they talking about? Martha just sat in the front seat with earplugs in, dozing. By the time they arrived at the house and had everything unloaded, he'd had about five different yet involved-and all highly inappropriate-scenarios running through his head. When he showed Kate to her room, he closed the door and leaned against it. "Okay," he told her. "Now we're alone."
She looked at him and rolled her eyes. "God, Castle, that is so cliche. I thought you were much more subtle than that. That's just...desperate or something."
A bemused, crooked smile appeared on his face. "While the direction that you're going is quite interesting, I must point out that you're misreading my intentions. And I'm not desperate. But anyway, what were you and Alexis talking about?"
"In the car. In another language."
"We were working on her French."
"But what were you talking about? You were laughing and giggling and...that doesn't sound like homework to me. That sounds like when she and Paige talk about the cute boys. But you don't...you don't talk about cute boys anymore. You talk about...other things," he finished, sounding very wary.
She stared at him before she started laughing. "Rich, Castle, really rich. You actually think I was giving your daughter-your teenage daughter-some sort of a sex talk? Regaling her with the experiences of my wild ways? In french, la langue d'amour?"
He gulped. She could see he was worried about that last bit of french she spoke.
"God, Castle. French, the language of love-that's all I said. And you really think I'd do that? But no, we didn't talk about anything but your bare butt."
"What?" he squeaked.
She laughed again. "For some reason, her class is doing some beach-themed unit in the middle of winter. So we were talking about the beach. I tried to just get her talking, so she could practice putting things together on her own; not from a textbook or an assignment, you know? And Alexis regaled me with the story of how you were tubing one time and lost your shorts. When she had a bunch of her friends visiting. Sent those poor girls running into the house."
"Oh, yeah. It was for her thirteenth birthday. None of those girls could look at me for months." He raised wary eyes to hers again. "Are you sure that's all it was?"
"That's all it was. You can have all of the uncomfortable sex talks. That's part of being a parent, right? Now, how about you give me a tour of the rest of this hotel?"
They'd fixed dinner together, with Kate taking her role of french tutor to heart by quizzing Alexis on the names of the different foods that they were preparing. The laughter continued, but this time mainly because Kate tried to include Rick in the tutoring session. He was a dedicated student, and he did show some improvement, but Alexis was just not used to her father speaking in a different language and it was hard for her to keep a straight face.
The snow and wind had started in earnest while they were making dinner, and when everything was cooking, they went over to the window just to watch it. Through the lights at the edge of the back deck overlooking the ocean, they could see the thick snow blowing and swirling in the wind. It made Kate cold just thinking about it. Turning back to the kitchen area, she realized how nice it was inside, with the warmth and the laughter. She was having a good time.
After dinner, Martha retired to her room to make a few phone calls. Rick started a fire in the fireplace (which didn't really involve much since it was a gas fireplace) and grabbed an armful of fleece blankets out of the closet, tossing one to each of the ladies. "Movie time!" he declared, wrapping one of the blankets around him and plopping down in the middle of the comfy-looking couch. Alexis quickly followed suit, sitting on his left side. As both Castles settled in and started looking at the TV, Kate was wondering what she should do. The only place left to sit on the couch was right next to Rick, and while it seemed a little to familiar and intimate to be cuddling on a couch with Rick and his daughter, she thought it would look overtly strange if she sat anywhere else.
She pretended to be fiddling with the blanket when she heard Alexis say "Come on, Kate, get over here so we can put the big one over our laps."
"Uh, it's pretty warm in here already, especially with the fire." Kate tried to deflect the girl.
"But the temp outside is supposed to get colder. And we're in the middle of a blizzard. You have to snuggle under blankets when you're in the middle of a blizzard. Come on."
"Yes, Detective, come on. I promise I won't bite," Castle added. Kate, not able to think up another excuse and not wanting to make things more awkward, acquiesced and, after wrapping herself in her blanket as the Castles had done, sat down next to Castle, but was careful not to touch him. After she was settled, he leaned close to her and continued with his previous thought, "not unless you want me to." She rolled her eyes at him and he grinned, but all from a respectable distance away.
They began the movie, but stopped it after only about ten minutes when Alexis realized that they didn't have any movie snacks. Rick promptly jumped up and went into the kitchen to satisfy his daughter's wish, and Alexis and Kate filled the movie void by engaging in another impromptu french lesson.
Rick came back several minutes later with a bowl of popcorn, hot chocolate for Alexis and a bottle of wine and two glasses, obviously for him and Kate. Giving the mug of hot chocolate and bowl of popcorn to Alexis, he set the wine down on the table behind the couch and poured some in their glasses. When he came to sit down again, Kate realized that she and Alexis must have moved closer together on the couch while Rick was away, because it seemed when he sat down this time, he was a lot closer to them-especially Kate-than he'd been before. Before she wasn't touching him at all and had, in fact, almost a foot of space between them. Now, her leg was touching his and she didn't want to seem nervous or prudish by jumping back to put a more reasonable distance between them. So she sat still. She didn't move a muscle as he started the movie again. And all was fine.
At least until he remembered the wine. Then he had to reach his arm back toward the table, and he had to turn his body toward Kate. It brought their faces and bodies in pretty close proximity, a fact that wasn't lost on either one. But after a look when he realized how close she was, he finished reaching back for the wine, grabbing both glasses and handing her one. "Here," he told her. "Can't get much better than this. The storm is out there, and we're in here under blankets with a good bottle of wine. With excellent company, if I do say so myself." Then he raised his glass and clinked it with Alexis' mug, and then with Kate's wine glass.
The hot chocolate and wine toast-with popcorn, no less-served to dispel some of Kate's unease about being basically snuggled against Castle. Well, not really, but she almost felt that way, since she just about never sat with him in a purely non-work related setting like this. Well, actually, she never sat with him like this at all. But he did have a point, after all, and she had to admit it was better being here, with company, than it would have been at her apartment, alone. So she relaxed (or tried to) and enjoyed the movie.
Alexis proved to be a good distraction for the rest of Kate's unease. Every once in a while, Alexis would ask her how to say something in french, a line from the movie or the name of some object. They would lean forward around Castle and talk to each other, and he'd look from one to the other like he was watching volleying in a tennis match. She ended up talking to Alexis so much that she didn't even realize it when she tucked her legs up on the couch, and turned to face Alexis-and consequently her father-a bit more. Kate didn't realize it when she put her arm on the back of the couch so she could rest her head on it. And she didn't realize it when, after a couple of refills of wine and after her bookend was fast asleep on her father's left shoulder, Kate's own head slipped from her arm on the back of the couch as she fell asleep herself, and she unconsciously just moved it to a more secure and convenient location, which happened to be Castle's shoulder, while she took her arm and wrapped it around his.
Rick, when he felt this, was kind of afraid to breathe, let alone even move, lest Kate wake up and clobber him. Of course, he did have Alexis next to him, and he could always use her as a shield because he knew that Beckett would never hurt his daughter. And with that thought, he settled back against the couch himself, and enjoyed the sensation of his two favorite women snuggled against him while the blizzard raged outside.
Kate woke up to find herself hugging a warm pillow. It wasn't a very soft pillow, but it was comfortable, and it smelled good. It smelled like Castle. On that thought, her eyes flew open. Her pillow smelled like Castle because it was Castle! She'd fallen asleep against the man, and was now hugging his right arm for dear life as she slept. Oh, this would not do, not at all. She'd never hear the end of it. She slowly extricated her arms from around his, so as not to wake him. Then after a last look at he and Alexis-they did look cute, laying there sleeping together like that-she stole up to her room and spent the next forty five minutes trying to feel as warm and content in the bed as she'd just felt while laying against Castle's arm.
She knew when it was the morning, but one glance out the window told her that the storm had not yet stopped. She could hear the wind rustling outside the windows. After she crawled out of bed, she went over to the window to see the confirmation that sure enough, the storm was still in full swing. She grabbed her robe and put on some thick, pink fuzzy socks and went downstairs. On the way down the stairs, she was assaulted with the tantalizing aroma of...something. She couldn't quite place it. She went down to the kitchen and found Castle typing on his laptop with a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee next to him. "Good morning," she said, announcing herself.
He smiled up at her, not entirely prepared for the sight of her in a robe, fresh from her night of slumber. Her first thought of him was that he looked really cute with his hair mussed from sleep like it was. "Is Alexis up yet?" she asked.
"Are you kidding? She's a teenage girl. Isn't there some rule that says you can't wake up before 10:00 if you don't have school?"
"Actually, it's 11:00. So then you have a reason to skip breakfast and just have a light lunch. That's how teenage girls watch their weight. Then you have a better chance of fitting into your skinny jeans when you go out with your friends that night."
The smile disappeared from his face. "Oh, I didn't realize that. I'm going to have to make sure she eats enough. Breakfast, yes," he said, as if reading a mental checklist. Then he fixed a direct look on her, one that showed his parental worry. "You don't think she's doing some excessive dieting thing, do you?"
He looked so worried that she couldn't mess with him any longer. "Castle. I'm yanking your chain. From what I've seen, Alexis is fine."
"Really? I mean, I haven't noticed anything either, but what if she's just..."
She patted him on the shoulder. "Relax, Castle. She's fine. She's just a normal girl." Then, as if seeing the familiarity that she was exhibiting, she pulled her hand away and tried to change the subject. "Something smells good. What is it?"
He smiled at her compliment and let the subject drop. "Breakfast casserole. Little bit of everything. It's almost done. Let me grab you some coffee."
He pushed her down in the chair next to him and poured her a cup of coffee. Then he moved to the oven and got the casserole out. Neither one spoke of her falling asleep on his shoulder, although there were a few loaded looks between them. After the breakfast casserole cooled for a few minutes, he cut them both generous slices. When it was cooled, she put a bite in her mouth, tasted it, and her eyes got big. "Oh," she said with her mouth full, "this is really good."
"Thanks," he told her.
"Wow, does this freeze well? Because if your book writing ever goes south, you could probably make a fortune selling these to overworked homicide detectives when they get called out of bed at five in the morning."
Rick smiled, pleased because she was eating his breakfast. She ate sporadically as it was, so when he could feed her, he felt that was a success.
"I do have a problem, though," he told her, with a complex look on his face, a cross between apprehension and excitement that only Castle could achieve.
"A problem? With what? Which scented soap to put in the guest bathroom?" she chided, referring to his lack of generally having to deal with the problems that 'real' people had to deal with.
As if reading her mind, he said "No. See, I have someone who clears the snow when it snows around here. I'd rather hire a real person than a service, so I just have one of the local guys that takes care of everything for me."
"Yeah, so?" she asked, taking another bite.
"So, Frank, the guy who does this for me...he slipped on some ice and broke his leg."
"Oh, that's terrible! Was he doing something for you when it happened?"
"No, he was helping his wife do the grocery shopping, of all things. Anyway, he was my guy who clears the snow, like I said. So with him laid up, I don't have anyone to do it."
"Hire someone else," she said simply, giving him the obvious answer.
"I tried some of the services, and they consider it an 'emergency'," he said somewhat sarcastically, doing air quotes, "and they said they can't come out for at least a couple of days."
She got his meaning. "A wee bit territorial?"
"Yes, just a wee bit."
"You'd think they'd want the extra business."
"So what now?"
"I...um...have to do it myself? If we want to have a prayer of getting out of here before Frank's leg heals or before it's springtime."
"You? You're going to shovel snow? I so want to get a picture of that!"
"Yes...and no. I do have a snowblower. It's in the garage. Frank uses it when his leg isn't broken."
"Okay, no problem then." Then she saw the look on his face. "Right?" she questioned.
"Um...I don't exactly know how to use a snowblower. I've never needed to use one so I don't know how."
"Geez, Castle, how hard can it be?" Beckett asked him. She knew he usually made more drama in things than what there needed to be.
But she didn't know that when you put Richard Castle together with large mechanical objects with which he was not at all familiar, much drama would naturally ensue. It was just an inherent fact of life.
Sorry for leaving it there. This was supposed to be a one-shot, but for those of you who know how I write, the fact that this will be a two-shot shouldn't surprise you. Now, if you think this is awful and just want me to get back to writing my other story, then please let me know, but do it gently.
I was visiting NYC 5 years ago, and we flew in about a day or two before that big blizzard hit. WOW! Being from the midwest where we have dedicated snowplows, I thought it was pretty funny that they just put plows on the front of their garbage trucks. But hey, it does make a lot of sense!
Casketty goodness is in the next chapter. It's where I planned to go all along with this, but the story just asked me to be split into two chapters.
Reviews are always appreciated. Thanks!