A/N: I'm kind of antsy about posting this, but I'm just going to take a leap here. I haven't written anything this big in a while, and I probably need to brush up on a lot of skills. I hope you guys don't hate this, it's certainly a bit AU and I know some people might not like it all that much. I hope it makes sense. Anyways, without further adieu, here is: In Paper Boats
In someone else's past
And fold my hope
In paper boats
Just 24 hours ago, Katherine Beckett would never have guessed that one simple word would change her life forever. Two syllables, 8 letters.
Her best friend nearly bought the local drug store out of pregnancy tests before she was willing to believe that she, Katie Beckett, 21 year old Dean's List student with a 4.0 GPA, would end up sitting on the bathroom floor of her apartment, holding a stick that proved that one single word, defining the rest of her existence.
The word seemed to reverberate mockingly inside of her head, taunting her until the sound of her best friend's voice in her ear brought her out of the stunned trance she had fallen into.
"Girl, are you okay?" the worried voice repeated, laced with genuine concern.
Tilting her head back to prevent any more tears from falling, Kate managed to quaver out a small, unconvincing "I'm fine."
Lanie Parish let out an audible sigh as she tried, and failed, to imagine what her friend was going through at that moment. "It'll all work out, honey. I know it will."
"Yeah," Kate said weakly, her phone cradled between her shoulder and her ear as her hands rested lightly on her flat stomach. The tile floor was uncomfortable, but getting up meant facing the music, dealing with the fact that her boyfriend, the same one whom she had called a simple distraction only weeks earlier, was now in this mess with her. She hadn't seen the relationship going much further than it already had, but she wondered how this announcement would faze the other occupant of the off-campus apartment. She silently cursed the tiny 3% written on the wrapper of every single condom they had used in recent weeks.
The sound of the rain outside slightly calmed her, reminding her of the dreary Manhattan days with her father. He would help her put on her coat and rainboots and shelter her under his umbrella, a paper bag tucked under his arms as they walked through every puddle. It was days like these when Jim and Katie Beckett would venture out to a secluded area of Riverside Park and hold tiny, origami paper boats with wishes written on them, releasing them to the river's power. For sunny days. For green frosting. For strawberry ice cream and for happy memories. It was the rainy days when she missed her father's warm presence the most, joining the ever-present ache for her mother in her heart.
Ignoring the sound of Lanie's voice still in her ear, Kate's attention focused on the foreboding sound of the front door opening, closing, and the familiar footfalls of her boyfriend as he called out for her.
"Lane, he's back from class. I have to go!" Kate whispered harshly into the phone, flushing the empty toilet and twisting the faucet as she called out to him in reply.
The pre-med student on the other end of the phone sighed. "You have to tell him, you know. This is big news. Not, like, I stole the answer key to my exam big. This is world-changing, drum roll please big."
"I know this is huge, which is why I need to wait for the right time to tell him. I can't just drop a bomb on him like this, it's the end of the year and we both have finals to worry about. This is enough to make anyone flunk."
"Kate. You need to tell him. He deserves to know." Lanie reasoned, unable to fathom the turmoil Kate was experiencing.
Kate began to weakly argue. "I want to go to the doctor first. I don't want to tell him if it's a mistake. Especially after our fight last weekend." She had finally admitted to him that she planned on joining the police academy instead of attending law school, and her boyfriend had been less than pleased. Apparently, dating a law student sounded much more appealing than her chosen alternative.
"Come on, now. You're pre-law for Christ's sake. What are the chances of getting two false positives in a row?"
"You know, I'd really love to be that one in ten billion right now." Kate said darkly, biting her raw lips for the millionth time with a wince.
Comfortingly, Lanie whispered "I know, sweetie. I know."
"I have to tell him." Sighed Kate, counting down the seconds until he would be in earshot and when she'd have to finally end the hours-long call.
"You do." she agreed.
"Okay. I can do this. Right?"
"Of course you can. Call me as soon as possible. I love you."
"Love you too, Lanie." Pressing the end button, she took what seemed like her thousandth deep breath since the day had taken this unlikely turn and pulled herself up from the floor. Her trembling hands clutched the end of the counter as she studied her pallid yet blotchy complexion. In a quick attempt to seem presentable, she scrubbed her face and applied a small amount of concealer before coating her dry lips with chapstick and tried to focus on remembering the entire periodic table.
Kate opened the bathroom door and met the gray eyes of her boyfriend, who was untying his shoelaces on the edge of the bed. She could feel the weight of a single positive test in the front of her hooded sweatshirt. The rain seemed to drip mockingly down the window across from her. She idly thought that he must have opened the curtains when he entered the room. She had been unable to stand having the outside world glaring in her face while sitting in apprehension, wondering about what she now knew to be true. About the life that would make her plural.
"Hey," she said softly, the dread for the impending conversation weighing down on her.
"Hey yourself." eyes raking over her, he sensed that something was troubling her. "Everything okay?"
Kate inhaled deeply and stared at the floor, steeling herself for whatever his reaction may be. "No, not really. I…God." She squeezed her eyes shut. "I'm pregnant."
The smooth sound of his laugh echoed through the small apartment. "Wow, Kate, I thought I bought you a calendar after you got the late fees for all those books you forgot about. April Fools Day was yesterday, remember?"
Out of nowhere, Kate felt heat spread through her entire body. "I'm not fucking around here, you asshole!" she seethed as she flung the test from her pocket at him. Her eyes blazed as she watched his face slowly pale. Then, the anger quickly draining out of her, she dropped her eyes back to the floor. It was silent for several minutes before Kate had the courage to meet his eyes again. She was a little stunned when she realized there was no single emotion behind them as he dropped the test and returned to untying his shoes.
"Well?" she asked hesitantly, clueless as to why he was being so calm. She was prepared for denial, shock, even anger, but this cool indifference was totally unexpected.
"Well what?" his pale gray eyes met her green ones once more. "It's not like you're keeping it, right?" When Kate remained silent, his eyes widened. "Kate. Be real here. You're barely in your twenties. We're both full time students, there's no way in hell we could raise a baby and keep up with both of our educations. No offense, but you're not really housewife material, even if you could afford to just stay at home with it. I've got med school to worry about! What about my career? What about yours? You gonna cart around a toddler to internships and job interviews?" he paused, as if pondering something before he continued. "Well, once you've come to your senses about that whole cop thing. Honestly, Katie, what is going on with you? Can you imagine us both going through school with a screaming, needy kid?"
Kate shrugged her shoulders silently, her eyes focusing on a picture of her and her mother on their dresser as she fought back the tears and the lump in her throat. Her mother was in a cemetary on the other side of town and her father was more than likely passed out drunk in any number of seedy bars that dotted the area. Neither of them could reassure their daughter that this was the right thing to do.
He shook his head at her and sighed, asking "Does Lanie know?" even though he knew that the two women shared everything soon after he introduced them. "You should ask her if she knows where you can get a safe abortion."
His words seem to shake her out of her stupor. Her compusure regained, she furiously ended that line of thinking. "I will not abort our baby."
"It's not our baby." he fired back coldly. "Were you not listening to anything that I've been saying? If you're actually going to keep it, you're more stupid than I thought."
Kate raised her chin defiantly, the anger returning full force before she managed to spit out "And you're nothing more than a coward."
He studied her for a long moment before he shook his head and stood. "Then be that way, Katie. Don't come crying to me when you can't feed the damn thing and study at the same time. I want nothing to do with this idiocy." He said calmly, wiping his hands on his pants and standing up. "If you'll step out for a few, I can have all of my things packed up within the hour."
And just like that, she realized she was going to be alone in this. She had been raised Catholic, and even though most of the lessons she learned in weekly Catechism had been lost between boys that smelled like wet flannel and the taste of tequila and skin, she had never been able to reconcile with herself the idea that she would be able to end a life after creating it. Her fingers shook as she contemplated her options, only realizing that he was still expecting her to leave when he cleared his throat awkwardly. She stumbled over her heavy feet to the door and made it all the way down to the street before even realizing she was still clad in her pajamas and the only thing on her feet was a thin pair of socks. She had left both her coat and her keys in the kitchen, but thankfully her phone had been tucked away before her emotions had shut down proper brain function. She reached into her pocket, uselessly trying to hold in her tears as she pressed the number of the only person who she could seemingly count on.
"Lanie," she choked out between sobs. "I don't think I can do this alone."
"Jonah Malcolm Beckett, if your scrawny little butt isn't out of bed, they will never find your body." Kate Beckett yelled as she stormed down the hallway to her son's bedroom. She flung his door open to find him burrowed underneath a mountain of blankets and pillows, his head barely poking out somewhere around where his feet should've been. He winced his mother turned on the light and groaned out. "Mooom."
"Don't 'Mom' me, kiddo. Your alarm has been going off for the last 10 minutes and it's been driving me absolutely nuts." Kate complained as she yanked the blankets off his bed and walked across the hallway into the bathroom to turn on the shower.
"I'm sick?" Jonah tried, knowing before the words even came out that it was a lost cause.
Kate, quite accustomed to the claim, rolled her eyes and pulled his resisting body into a sitting position before making him stand and pushing him into the bathroom. "Shower." she ordered, handing him a towel. "And don't try to fall asleep in there again, if you're not downstairs in fifteen minutes I'm going to tell Maxie that Mrs. Hurst is going to stay with you tomorrow instead." At that, the nine year old's eyes widened in horror as he pulled his baggy NYPD shirt off and shooed his mother into the hall. The elderly woman who lived next door liked to spend her days hoarsely swearing at her cat and monitering the cleanliness and politeness of anyone that crossed her way. She was only used as a last resort, when Lanie and her former neighbor's 18-year-old cousin Maxie, were both unavailable. "I'd rather kiss a broken bottle." Jonah muttered as he stepped under the hot spray of the shower.
Exactly 12 minutes later, he materialized in the kitchen, his soaked hair dripping onto his shoulders. Noticing Kate standing near the plugged-in waffle iron, he turned his wide green eyes on her and smiled as he sat at the counter.
Kate took notice of the familiar, hopeful look and braced herself as she set down his plate. "What do you want, Joh?"
"Ice cream?" he asked winningly, glancing down at the warm waffle that had been placed in front of him.
She shook her head. "No ice cream before noon, remember?" Although in special circumstances she sometimes waived this rule, but right now was no special occasion and no amount of puppy dog eyeing from her son would budge her.
"Please, mom?" Jonah begged. "Ice cream is to waffles like Kenny is to getting killed!"
At that, Kate laughed. "I don't know whether to be more disturbed to the fact that you watch South Park or that you just made a simile."
Jonah grinned mischievously as his mother ran a finger through his damp brown locks. "You need a haircut, buddy." she said absentmindedly, studying the slight curls as a peculiar smell filled the kitchen. Jonah's eyes widened as he recognized the smell. "Mom! Your waffle!"
"Oh, shit!" Kate realized, turning around to see smoke beginning to rise from between the irons. She raced forward to grab it without thinking, burning her hand in the process. "Fuck!" she cried, yanking her right arm back while unplugging the iron with her left.
Once her hand had been run under cool water and the burnt waffle had been disposed of, Jonah assumed a grave look and shook his head disapprovingly at his mother. "You said shit and fuck, mom."
Kate rolled her eyes and pulled open the freezer, grabbing the ice cream scoop from a drawer and plopping a dollop of vanilla on top of his waffle. "Don't tell that to your friends," she reminded him. "It'll make me look bad."
"The swearing or the ice cream for breakfast?" Jonah asked sweetly, triumphantly taking a bite.
"Both." Kate laughed, stealing his second bite straight off his fork. "Although you'd better not tell child services about this either. They'll probably take you away." she teased.
"Never." he giggled around another mouthful. "What time will Uncle Javi and Uncle Kevin be at school today?" Remembering that the two detectives had been volunteered to accompany a few uniforms to his elementary school's assembly, Kate gave her son a wicked grin. "Bright and early, kiddo. Make sure you give 'em hell for messing with mommy dearest."
Jonah matched her smile and saluted her, all while crossing his fingers under the counter. He was silently hoping that she would never find out who really broke her desk chair ("Too much spinning!" the custodian had declared after seeing the missing wheels, while Jonah, Ryan & Esposito all stood innocently nearby.)
The two Becketts finished their breakfast, and Jonah rinsed the dishes off while Kate arranged them in the dishwasher. Both mother and son jumped in surprise as shrill ring filled the silence of the room.
"I'll get it!" Jonah yelled, nearly dropping a plate as he spun around and dove for the cell phone on the other end of the counter. "Beckett." he answered cheerfully, ignoring the glare from his mother before she inspected the forgotten plate for damage. He listened for a moment before mouthing "It's Grandpa!" and passing the phone, ducking under her arm to finish loading the dishwasher.
While Kate was on the phone, Jonah slipped back into his bedroom to grab his backpack. He knew his mother and grandfather had a rather shaky relationship, despite his mother's attempts to cover up the extent of damage the years of abandonment and indifference had caused. He had gone into rehab shortly before Jonah's 4th birthday, but the relationship she shared with him was much more fragile and timid than the one they had shared when Johanna had been alive. Jonah himself usually enjoyed the company of his grandfather, but always took care to notice how much interaction with him was too difficult for his mother to handle. By the time Jonah had returned to the open front room, Kate had finalized plans for the trio to grab an early dinner followed by a movie later in the week with only an air of resistance. After hanging up, her hands seemed to be magnetically drawn to the chain around her neck. Jonah's smaller fingers entwined with hers as they both reverently touched the ring's stone and he brought both of their hands down to their sides.
Kate smiled at her son and ruffled his hair. "Ready to go, kiddo? If we wait much longer, you'll miss our favorite two detectives putting on a show." She opened the door and let the shaggy haired boy pass under her arm before closing the door firmly behind them and indulging her son in a race down the stairwell.
"Beckett, to we really have to?" Detective Kevin Ryan whined, pouting across the room at his friend and boss. "What if a body drops, huh? You can't just call us out of there! And you'll need us!" Sitting next to Ryan, Detective Javier Esposito was sulking as well, albeit silently as to appear slightly more complacent than his counterpart.
Kate held back a smirk as she looked up from the folder on her desk. "Come on, guys. Jonah's super excited that you two are visiting and already told all of his friends. You wouldn't let my kid down now, would you?"
"Super excited." Esposito mumbled under his breath in disbelief, thinking of the mischievous nine year old Baby Beckett who seemed to be able connive and convince better than almost every cop he'd been around. He was clever, that was indisputable, and that was only one of the many traits he had inherited from his mother. His wallet still ached from the misfortunate poker game that had taken place earlier in the month.
"I wonder what Beckett'd think if she knew it was her precious little spawn of evil who spun the wheels off for once." Ryan whispered. Although they both knew that they were asking for trouble by giving into the boy's dare ("See how fast you guys can spin me! I bet you can't even make me dizzy.") Jonah could've at least tried to finagle them out of the school assembly. It was even worse than being put on desk duty, the preferred form of an NYPD time out.
"What was that, Kevi?" Kate called out across the room, interrupting the thoughts of the disgruntled detectives with a grin. Sometimes, messing with them was just a little too much fun. She loved the two men like they were her brothers, both of them serving as surrogate uncles to her son, but the teasing-as-a-form-of-affection thing never got old.
"Nothing, Katie. Just planning the perfect way to show our appreciation for our wonderful boss." groused Esposito, already dreading the hordes of children who would bombard him with questions and a certain young boy, who would no doubt be enjoying this as much as his mother.
She quickly responded with mocking sarcasm "Oh really now?"
"Yeah, really." Esposito fired back, fighting back a slight smile.
"Should I be expecting a card? Some roses? A back massage, maybe? It'll take some time to get used to this new chair." she contemplated while leaning back into the replacement chair, while Ryan muttered "Yeah, something like that. Maybe something to go with your personality, like a nice, prickly-" he was interrupted by Esposito's foot powerfully kicking his seat over, sending him tumbling to the floor. Kate pressed her hand to her mouth to hold in her laugh as Captain Montgomery poked his head out of his office.
"Detective Ryan, do I need to get maintenance to weld your chair to the ground?" Montgomery asked suspiciously, after realizing no real damage had been done to his precinct. He eyed Beckett's sparkling gaze and Esposito's carefully schooled expression as Ryan stood up.
"No, sir. Just some-just some gravity troubles." he panted, struggling to set his chair upright while maintaining eye contact with the older man.
"Right." said Montgomery. "Well, shouldn't you two be off already? I'm rather certain that Hunter has you scheduled for a 9:30 assembly. We wouldn't want to disappoint some eager kids now, would we?"
Both men grimaced as they assented and grabbed their belongings, but not before shooting Kate another dirty look as she called out "Behave yourself, boys! Don't have too much fun! And don't let my kid embarrass you too much!"
She caught the half-hearted glare from Esposito and the annoyed expression from Ryan before shaking her head with a grin and returning to her paperwork.