Title: To My Mom

Disclaimer: Don't own anything. Sigh.

Summary: Kate celebrates her first Mother's Day with the Castle's. Well, her first night-before-Mother's day.

Author's Note: Okay, so this barely counts as a Mother's Day fic, since it's almost not Mother's Day anymore, but I wrote it, so I figured I'd put it out. It's set about two years from now, give or take. The setting basically speaks for itself. This is a fluff monster, beware.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

Emma


The knock on the door jolted her awake.

"I got it, Kate," Alexis snickered as Kate looked blearily at her over the little head that was snoozing on her chest. "And we should work on your startle reflex."

"Cheeky," Kate yawned.

She heard the door open and the click of high heels. And then there was noise.

"Alexis!" an enthusiastic voice exclaimed. "I got in early, isn't it wonderful?"

"Mom," Kate heard Alexis' muffled voice complaining.

"I saw the ticket and I just thought, well, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could get here early? Then I can spend Mother's Day with you and maybe we can drag your father with us. You know how mopey he can get."

And then there was crying. Kate gingerly sat up and cradled the baby to her chest, shushing her and rocking side to side. "I know. I know it's loud. Don't worry, she'll be quiet soon."

"What's that?"

Kate heard Alexis sigh and she looked over to find both red heads looking at them. "That's Jo, my little sister," Alexis replied.

"Oh, yes, I think Richard might have mentioned that."

"And that's Kate, my stepmother."

"Hi, Meredith," Kate greeted, smiling as Josie stopped crying.
"Hello, Kate," Meredith replied before she turned back to Alexis. "So, where should I put my things?"

"Uh, Mom, you didn't book a hotel?" Alexis asked, sounding miffed and annoyed.

"Of course not! I always stay here."

"You haven't stayed with us in over three years," Alexis replied. "And we've got a baby in the house now."

"Well, I could bunk with you, or in the spare room. Your grandmother doesn't still live here, does she?" Kate could hear the hopefulness in Meredith's voice.

"Martha moved out about six months ago," Kate replied. "But she'll be by tomorrow."

"Mom, you really need to go find a hotel," Alexis added. "We just got all of my stuff back from school and it's all in boxes in my room, so there's no space there, and the 'guest room' is Jo's room now."

Kate watched as Meredith fought with complaining or taking the high road. "Fine. I'll see you tomorrow morning then?" she asked, glancing around the apartment.

"Rick's out at a publicity meeting," Kate told her.

"Of course. I see that you're not at work," she replied. "Do you not have a case?"

Kate just looked at her. "No, I have a baby," she replied after a moment. "She's only three weeks old, Meredith. I thought Rick had sent you an email or a call or something."

"Must have missed it," Meredith shrugged. "Anyway," she turned back to Alexis with a grin. I'll be by tomorrow morning to take you out for breakfast."

Kate watched as Alexis shifted from foot to foot and glanced over at Kate and Josie. "We were, ah, going to order in, tomorrow morning," she replied carefully.

"Then I'll just come over then. Sounds perfect. Alright, well, I guess I'm off. See you."

Alexis tried to protest, but Meredith was hugging her and out the door before she could get a word in. Alexis gave a groan and Kate watched as she closed the door and leaned against it.

"Sorry about that," Alexis told her after a minute. "She's…well, she's mom, isn't she?"

"It's okay, Alexis," Kate smiled. Josie gurgled in agreement. "Jo thinks so too."

"She does, does she?" Alexis smiled, coming back over to plop down next to them. "Do you, kid? Do you think so?" She tickled Jo's feet. She looked back up at Kate. "I'm really sorry that she invited herself over, Kate."

"It's really okay, Alexis. She's your Mom. She should be here with you for Mother's Day."

"But this is your first Mother's Day," Alexis said quietly. "And we wanted it to be really special, because you're a great mother. And now she's going to ruin that."

"Hey, it'll still be special," Kate said, reaching out with her free arm to wrap Alexis in a hug. "I'm still a mom. And whether yours is here or not doesn't really matter. I have a feeling that she and Martha will spend so much time bickering that it won't matter."

Alexis gave a small laugh. "I guess."

"What's really the matter, Lex?" Kate asked, observing how down Alexis seemed about the whole thing.

"It's just…this is the first Mother's day that I'll get to spend with you, and…and I don't want her to ruin it. I mean, I just…I know I'm a bit old for it and everything, and I'm not actually your kid, but…"

Kate squeezed her shoulder. "You are just as much my kid as Jo here is, Alexis. I hope you don't doubt that. I love you, biological kid or not, okay?"

Alexis turned teary eyes on her. "Really?"

"Oh, I must be doing something wrong if you don't already know that," Kate said, brushing a tear off of Alexis' cheek. "You're amazing, Alexis, and I'm very proud to be your stepmother, and I love you very, very much."

"I love you too," Alexis whispered. "And I do know, I just…"

"Sometimes hearing it makes the difference," Kate nodded.

"But you tell me all the time, you know? I have some issues," she laughed.

"No issues, Alexis. There's nothing wrong with you."

"No, there's stuff wrong with her," she replied, gesturing toward the door. "She's flighty and I've never felt like…like a priority. But, I mean, I'm in college now. It's not like I need my mom."

"Oh, sweetie, we always need our mom," Kate told her. "I know I think about mine all the time."

Alexis looked over at her. "I'm sorry, Kate. I didn't mean to dump this on you. God, here I am complaining when I have…"

"No, no, Alexis. That's not what I meant," Kate smiled. "I just meant that you always need a mom, no matter how old you are. And for some of those things, I have your grandmother, and I'm very grateful for that. And yeah, I miss my mom, but I have you and your Dad and Jo here, and I'm okay with that. She's somewhere, watching us and smiling."

"I'm sure she is," Alexis said quietly.

"She would have loved you."

"Really?"

"Oh yeah. Maybe even more than my Dad, and that's really hard to do. I think he's trying to figure out a way to kidnap you, actually."

Alexis giggled. "I love him too."

"He knows," Kate smiled.

"And I'm really glad that you're my stepmom."

"Me too, Lex. Me too."

They sat there for a long time, just hugging and taking turns making Jo laugh and smile, a newfound skill that had everyone in the house completely besotted.

"She looks like you," said Alexis.

"Your dad keeps saying that, but I don't see it," Kate replied. "She's so perfect."

"Uh, Kate, have you looked in the mirror lately?"

Kate just narrowed her eyes at her. "If you're going to try that trick where you tell me that Jo looks like me because I'm perfect, save it. Your dad has been trying for weeks. I look like I just squeezed a human out of my body."

"You look radiant," Alexis countered. "You do. And Jo is just as beautiful as you are."

"Lex.."

"You're ridiculous," the younger woman sighed. "I mean, really. How can you possibly not see it?"

Kate shrugged. "You're beautiful."

"Well, we're just a love fest of insecurity, aren't we?" Alexis laughed.

"How about we agree that Jo's beautiful, and secretly keep being annoyed at each other for not believing it about ourselves?" Kate suggested.

"Done," Alexis grinned.

"Do I hear pacts being made behind my back?" A voice called as the door opened and Rick came into view.

"We're planning on running away with your money and turning Johanna into a model. Hope you don't mind," Kate replied while he put down his computer bag and hung up his coat.

"Oh, of course not. As long as I get to see her on weekends," he smiled, coming over to kiss his daughters on the head. Then he leaned in and gave Kate a chaste kiss from the back of the sofa. "How has your afternoon been?"

"Well," Kate looked over at Alexis who sighed.

"Mom came in early."

"Meredith's here?" he asked, looking around with annoyance and a bit of panic.

"Not here, here," Alexis continued. "She's at a hotel, that I had to force her to book. You did tell her about Johanna, right?"

"Of course," Rick replied quickly. "I sent her an email and a phone call, but she's been on location for a while, and well…you know your mother."

"Yep," Alexis nodded. "She, uh…invited herself for brunch tomorrow."

Rick sighed and came around the couch to sit on Kate's other side. "She did, huh?"

"I tried to stop her, but she's hurricane Meredith," Alexis told him. "She said she'd be over tomorrow morning, and then left in a whirl of channel and shopping bags. I couldn't get a word in."

"Not for lack of trying though," Kate added.

"I'm sorry I was out," he told them both.

"It's not your fault, Dad," Alexis replied, sinking into the back of the couch. "She's just mom."

"Do you want me to get her another part in a movie?" he asked.

Kate laughed and they both turned to look at her. "Wait, you've seriously done that?"

"Remember that week where you thought it was oh-so-funny to call me 'Kitten?' That's how I got her to leave."

"Using your powers for good instead of evil, I see," Kate said, smiling as Johanna gurgled up at them.

"Hey there," Rick cooed, reaching for his younger daughter. Kate happily passed her over as he picked her up. "Do you agree with Mommy, huh? Did Daddy do the right thing?"

"I think he did," Alexis added from Kate's right. "Can you image what it would have been like to have her here all the time?"

"Oh, but think of the ammo I'd have against dad if she had," Kate said wistfully, trying to get Alexis to snap out of her funk.

"Do you need more? Because I have some hidden photos that I'm sure you'd love," Alexis grinned.

"Now, this isn't fair," Rick said unhappily. "You can't gang up on me. They can't gang up on me, that's not fair!" he said to Jo.

Jo took that opportunity to blow a spit bubble. "Looks like Jo's on our side," Kate grinned while the little girl yawned. "But, it looks like someone's ready to go back to sleep. Meredith woke her up when she came over."

"I'll go put her upstairs, then," Rick smiled. "You guys want to watch a movie after dinner?"

Alexis considered them. "Could we...I mean I know we were going to do it tomorrow, Dad, but…well, Mom's going to be here."

"I think we definitely should do it tonight," Rick smiled. "I'll bring everything down, and we can do it when Jo wakes up after dinner."

"Good," Alexis grinned.

Kate looked bemusedly between them. "I'm missing something."

"Very astute of you, Detective. Your maternity leave hasn't dulled that crime solving instinct at all," Rick beamed.

"I can still twist your ear enough to tear it off, Castle," Kate threatened.

"Mommy's mean sometimes, isn't she?" Rick asked Jo as he quickly headed for the stairs.

"I think leaving her alone with him is dangerous sometimes," Alexis laughed. "He tells her potential plot ideas when he has her for the afternoon, you know."

"I do," Kate sighed, but there was no malice behind it. "I think he wants her first word to be Nikki. It would be so apropos."

"Mine was denouement," Alexis smiled. "He did the same thing."

"Well, I figure it can't be that bad. You turned out pretty well."

"Thanks."

"So, what is this thing we're doing after dinner?" Kate asked, going in in the girl's moment of weakness.

"I've lived with you long enough not to fall for that," Alexis grinned as she finished her yawn. "You'll just have to wait."

"You are your father's daughter, aren't you?" Kate replied with a pout.

"And you're much more prone to pouting when you're hungry," Alexis replied. "I'm going to call out for dinner. Chinese sound good?"

"Perfect," Kate said happily.

Alexis got up and went into the office to make the call and Kate glanced around the living room, looking at the pictures of the four of them, and the three of them before Jo had arrived. She'd moved into Casa Castle about six months before they'd gotten married last year. A month before the wedding, she was pregnant, which amused them all to no end. She and Rick couldn't do anything normally. Hell, their first date had ended with them at the Hamptons, making up for lost time, after an extremely long case with five bodies and two serials.

Alexis had been ecstatic about the relationship, and Kate's moving in had only spurred them to get even closer. She and 'Little Castle' took a day every week to go shopping when Alexis was home from Princeton. And frequently while she was at school, Alexis would come down to have lunch with her. Kate was very grateful to have been accepted into such an amazing family and now she had a second daughter and a husband and a baby and a mother-in-law; she was lucky.

Dinner went by without incident. Rick and Alexis kept up a running conversation, arguing back and forth about which Star Trek was better. Kate chimed in every once and a while, but she was more than happy just to listen. Even with the maternity leave and constant task of doing nothing but watching her baby sleep and sleeping, Kate was exhausted. And she'd never been so happy.

After the meal, Rick sheparded her into their room while Alexis did the dishes and went to grab Jo.

"Rick, why do I have to be in the bed?" Kate asked as he turned down the comforter and gently nudged her down onto the soft blankets.

He smiled and pulled the comforter over her. "Because, we were going to have breakfast in bed tomorrow."

"We could still do that," Kate replied, confused.

"Yes, but we were going to let you sleep late and have brunch in bed. Mother was going to join us too," he continued as he sat down on top of the comforter on his side of the bed.

"On our bed?" Kate asked.

"Alexis was very specific in her instructions," he shrugged. "Oh, I hear the pitter-patter of collegiate feet."

"That's so not the saying," Kate laughed.

The door opened and Alexis entered carrying Johanna. Both were wearing hats that said 'Happy Mother's Day!" Alexis carried a large bag in her free hand and blew a party popper as she came up to the bed.

"Happy Mother's Day!" she proclaimed.

"Thank you, Alexis," Kate laughed as Alexis passed Johanna to Rick and then climbed onto the bed to come and sit cross-legged between them.

"We got you some presents," she explained, passing the large bag to Kate, who took it with wide eyes.

"You didn't need to get me anything," she said quietly.

"It's your first Mother's Day!" Alexis scoffed. "Of course we got you presents. Now open them."

"Yes M'am," Kate laughed, reaching into the bag to pull out the first of a few oddly shaped packages.

"This one is from Jo," Alexis explained while Kate gingerly removed the wrapping. Inside was a clay mold of Johanna's little hands and feet, with the words, "I love you, Mommy," engraved on the top.

"Thank you," Kate said, looking up at Alexis and then over at Johanna. "It's wonderful. Her feet are so small."

"I know, right?" Alexis grinned. "It was a bit of a task to get her to stay still to take them."

"How did you manage it?" Rick asked.

"She may have been asleep for the hands."

Kate laughed. "I love it, thank you."

"There's more," Rick interjected as Kate stared down at the clay mold. "You can look at it forever later."

Kate glanced over at him and then gingerly laid the mold on the bedside table before reaching into the bag again.

"That one's from me," Rick told her.

"Rick, you didn't have to…" she petered off as the wrapping paper fell away and revealed a jewelry box. She opened it slowly and found a simple silver bracelet nestled in the black box. She lifted it from the fabric and then gaped as she realized that it was made up of tiny books, all engraved with different letters. "Rick," she whispered.

"Always and Forever, Katherine," he said softly. "Because you're still my muse, even if I've got a wealth of inspiration all around me. I could write a hundred thousand books about you, Kate."

She leaned over and kissed him, a tear slipping down her cheek. "Thank you, Richard."

Alexis just watched them happily, until the kisses started to become too much for her to handle. "Hey, baby and impressionable young adult in the room."

"Sorry, Lex," Kate laughed, wiping a tear from her cheek.

"There's still one more," Alexis told her.

Kate just nodded and reached into the bag, removing the last package. She placed the bag on the floor and turned it over in her hands. It was heavy, and thick, with the feeling of a leather bound book.

"Sometimes it's easiest to simply open presents, rather than try to mind meld with them," Rick murmured from her left.

"Dad," Alexis admonished.

"Yeah, Dad," Kate laughed, as she peeled back the paper.

A large black-bound leather tome slid into her lap, with golden words engraved in the cover that read: "To My Mom."

Kate looked up at Alexis and found her smiling shyly. "You've been more of a Mom than my own mother has in these past five years, Kate, and I…I just wanted to thank you."

"Oh, Sweetie," Kate whispered, reaching an arm out to beckon the girl to her. "I'm so honored."

"I love you, Kate," Alexis told her as they hugged each other for all they were worth.

"I love you too."

"Now, don't you want to see what's inside?" Alexis asked when they finally pulled apart, their eyes sparkling suspiciously.

"Yes," Kate nodded. She opened the cover and found a picture of herself and Alexis chatting at the dining room table one morning staring back at her. Only, it wasn't recent. Her hair was much too short. "Is this?"

"From the week when you lived here back when your apartment blew up?" Rick asked. "Yeah. I may, uh, have taken some pictures that week."

"Did you, now," Kate laughed, turning the page. The next was a picture of her and Alexis in a changing room, Kate zipping up Alexis' prom gown. Then a picture of them standing side by side in the Precinct, staring up at an array of bridesmaids dresses on the murder board, trying to pick something that Lanie would deal with and they could live with wearing. Then one of the two of them laying on the living room floor, watching a movie. Then one of them walking arm and arm through Paris from their trip last summer.

Picture after picture assaulted her senses, some from her time with Rick, but others from long before she and 'Big Castle' had been in a relationship.

"Alexis, this is amazing," she whispered as she turned page after page.

"I just…I wanted you to know how much you mean to me. How much having you be part of my life has meant to me," the young woman murmured into her shoulder where she was sitting between Kate and Rick.

"Thank you," Kate told her as she turned the final page and came face to face with a picture of herself and her mother when she was Alexis' age. It had been taken about two weeks before Johanna had been murdered.

"I know…" Alexis cleared her throat. "I know that no one can ever replace your mom, and I know how much you must miss her right now, but I just…I wanted you to know that you've filled a hole for me, and I'm so glad to have you."

Kate just wrapped her in a tight hug and let the tears fall. She looked over at Rick and found him beaming at them, Jo cradled close to his chest, his eyes shining.

"I love you," he mouthed.

"I love you too," she mouthed back, and then closed her eyes and hugged her daughter tight.

Meredith would be there in the morning and she was sure that it wouldn't be pretty, but now, with her husband and daughters in their bed and her mother smiling down on them all, Kate knew that nothing could ruin this Mother's Day. Perfect couldn't even begin to describe it.