Disclaimer: I still don't own this stuff, but if I did…oh the possibilities.

A/N: I am a hardcore Caskett shipper and Esplaine, but this isn't one of those stories. There's Castle, Beckett, Alexis and Martha. The thing was, I was so MAD last night at Alexis…I feel like she's acting like a stupid teenager. I mean, she's supposed to be more mature than your average teenager and here she is, making a decision to go to Stanford in a day! And not finishing her senior year…it just made me mad. My friend did something like this and it turned out horribly. I realize that sometimes it can turn out great, but like Alexis said, "The odds are…" Anyway, rant over. People may be OOC, let me know please! Read the story if you want, I hope it's enjoyable!

"I'm so excited!" Castle exclaimed. "You'll have a great culinary experience!"

"Oh, you're not cooking?" Kate teased. She had finally agreed to come to the loft and have dinner with the Castle's. She usually didn't do things like this, but Castle had been begging her for months and he was a bit depressed lately. She knew it was from Alexis' snap decision to go to Stanford. Apparently Alexis hadn't changed her mind yet. Kate assumed she would, or at least look into some other places, but she wasn't sure. It had been a while.

"You wound me, Detective!" Castle sighed.

Kate couldn't help it, she had to smile. "Oh, you'll get over it."

Castle was still complaining as he let her into the loft, but a flash of red and an excited voice stopped him.

"Dad! Dad! And Detec—Kate," Alexis corrected herself when she saw Kate's raised eyebrow. "You'll never guess what happened!"

Kate looked over Alexis' head at Martha who was standing near. She had heard a small sigh and wanted to know why. Martha didn't look too excited about this, and Kate had no idea what could be going on.

Castle smiled at his daughter and chuckled quietly at her excitement, not noticing his mother's expression. "What happened?"

"I got in!" Alexis cried. "I got into Stanford! I just got the letter today! It came in a big envelope and everything!"

Castle's eyes got wide. Kate almost sighed too, but managed to hold it in. She was a trained detective and all. "Alexis, that's great."

"Great, Alexis," Castle agreed.

"Thanks, guys! I have to go call Ash!" With that, Alexis bounced up the stairs. Luckily, she was too excited to notice her father's certain lack of excitement.

As soon as Alexis was out of view, Castle turned, went into his study and shut the door.

Kate winced when the door shut and began to follow after him.

"Kate, darling," Martha called, stopping her. "I would wait. He'll be out soon."

Kate wrinkled her eyebrows. "Will he be okay?"

Martha didn't answer right away. "He…will be."

Kate turned away from the study, and instead of joining Martha, Kate went up the stairs instead.

Martha sighed. "I need a drink."

-%

Kate stopped when she heard Alexis' voice. "I know, isn't it exciting!"

Kate knocked on the door and heard a voice from inside the closed door. "Hang on a second, Ash. Who is it?"

Kate opened the door and poked her head in. "Just me."

"Oh, come on in, Kate," Alexis said. She brought the cell phone back to her ear. "Listen, Ash, I'll call you back later, okay? I love you too. Bye." Alexis closed her phone. "What's up?"

"Oh nothing much," Kate decided not to waste time with small talk and dive right in. "What other colleges have you applied to besides Stanford?"

Alexis gave her a funny look. "None."

Kate had sort of expected this, but it still took her a bit by surprise. "None? I thought you wanted to go to Princeton…Oxford! What changed?"

"Nothing," Alexis told Kate.

"Then why…oh!" Kate exclaimed. She thought she knew why Alexis wasn't going anywhere else (and it had nothing to do with what she was about to say), but she wasn't going to let Alexis know her suspicions. "Stanford is in California. You'll be close to your mom. No wonder you want to go there."

"Right," Alexis agreed. "I'll be close to…Mom!" Alexis hadn't really thought about that aspect of it. She hadn't really thought about anything. Sure, she had done a little bit of research on it, but if it was Ashley's dream, she was sure she would love it. "Mom is in California. I would be close to her. Oh, God."

"What's wrong?" Kate asked. "You don't sound like you're too excited about it."

"I mean, I love her and all," Alexis clarified. "But, she's so flighty. When she came here to visit, she came to school and told the principal my uncle had died so I could get out of school. After we left the building, she told me she wanted to go shopping and now was the best time."

Kate raised her eyebrows. "Well, that's definitely…"

"Stupid," Alexis supplied. "I know. She can't do that in college! I mean, they don't even have principals. If you don't want to go to class, you don't go. Oh well, I'm sure Mom will be too busy with movies or something."

"If you're not excited about moving out there with your mom, then why the sudden decision to go to Stanford…without even finishing your senior year of high school?" Kate asked.

"Ash is going there," Alexis said. "At the end of this year. He's a senior and all, so I want to be with him as soon as I can. I have plenty of credits."

"And…" Kate prompted.

"And…what?" Alexis asked. "That's all."

"That's it?" Kate asked, a bit shocked. She knew this was the main reason, but she had hoped there was something, anything more. She wanted to be able to tell Castle that Alexis going to Stanford wasn't all for a boy.

"Yeah, what's wrong with that?" Alexis asked.

Kate didn't answer the question, but instead said, "Would you like to hear a story?"

Alexis looked at Kate suspiciously. "Um…sure."

Kate began to spin a story that even Castle would've been proud of. "When I was your age, guess where I was going to college?" Kate asked rhetorically. "I had got accepted and everything…to Harvard."

Alexis gasped. "No way!"

"The tone of surprise?" Kate teased, with a raised eyebrow.

"No, no, I just…" Alexis began.

"I know what you mean," Kate assured the girl.

"So, you were going to Harvard…" Alexis began, waiting for Kate to fill in the rest.

"Right. I had a boyfriend in high school," Kate explained. "His name was Travis and he was gorgeous! He wasn't exactly the smartest kid on the block and he got accepted into NYU. He was depressed that I was going to Harvard and even though I was excited about it, he didn't want me to go. He wanted me to apply to NYU and go there, so I did."

Alexis gasped. "How did your parents take it?"

"My dad yelled and screamed," Kate told the red head, laughing at the memory. "My mom took me aside and told me that if I really wanted to go to NYU then I should, but if it was just for a boy, then I shouldn't. I told her that I really liked the school, I had done extensive research and I would be really happy there.

"I had just gotten my class schedule and Travis had gotten his the day before. We compared classes and we had one together. We only had one because I had gotten a lot of general education classes out of the way in high school. I had three gen eds and the other two were major courses. That started another problem."

"Another problem?" Alexis asked. She had plenty of common sense and she knew instinctively where this story was going. In fact, she knew before Kate had even started the story. At the same time though, she was interested in hearing the story, so she stayed quiet and listened.

"I was going to be a lawyer," Kate told Alexis. "I loved my mom's job, how she got justice for people who needed it and I wanted to do the same thing. Travis didn't want me to be a lawyer. He told me lawyers argue all day and I didn't want to do that. It was annoying and troublesome and then I would come home and argue as well. He told me to do something practical like him. He was going to be an accountant and I should do something decent, like be a nurse or a teacher."

"So you changed your major?" Alexis guessed.

"I did," Kate confirmed. "My dad yelled and screamed, again, and my mom took me aside, again. She said if I was only changing my major because Travis wanted me to and being a lawyer was my dream, then I shouldn't be a lawyer and not listen to Travis. She said if I wanted to be a lawyer because she was a lawyer, then I shouldn't do it. She said if I, and only I, wanted to change my major and decided I didn't want to have anything to do with law then changing my major was the perfect decision.

"I didn't think about it too much, or really at all. I took as many gen eds as I could that first year and then…well, my decision was made for me after that."

Alexis nodded. She figured that was when Kate's mom was killed and she knew Kate didn't like or want to talk about that, so she didn't press. Instead, she just smiled. "What happened to the gorgeous guy?"

"He didn't want me to go to the police academy," Kate said. "But this time I didn't care. So we broke up. I couldn't help but think that if I hadn't been with him, I could've been at Harvard and my dad and I wouldn't have had such a rocky relationship after that."

"But it worked out well for you, didn't it? Because he didn't want you to be a lawyer you got all your gen eds out of the way and you didn't waste your time on a major you weren't even going to pursue. Besides, being in New York, it worked out well for you when your dad…" Alexis paused.

"Kept drowning his sorrows in alcohol," Kate supplied. "You know, I never really thought about it like that."

"See, so you're not being very fair," Alexis said.

Kate was confused. "To Travis?"

"No, to me," Alexis clarified. "You're basically telling me I'm acting like a stupid teenager and I shouldn't go to Stanford!"

"No!, No, no, Alexis. That's not what I'm saying," Kate assured her.

"Then what are you saying?" Alexis questioned. "You certainly don't want me to go to Stanford."

"I just think it would be a good idea to explore other options," Kate told her. "If you want to be…a teacher and Stanford has a great teaching program then you should go there. If Princeton has a better program then, maybe you should consider that school. If Stanford has extra-curricular activities that you would love to be involved in, then you should go there. If Oxford has better ones though, maybe Oxford should be considered too.

"And…do you really want to miss out on your spring semester of high school? Everyone in Stanford will have already made their friends. Sure, you will have Ashley, but don't you want girlfriends too? Who will you room with? Besides, you'll miss senior skip day, your senior prom, graduation with all your friends. Sure you'll go to Ashley's prom, but it's not the same as yours. You'll graduate, but it won't be with all your friends in a big stadium. Not many people graduate in the fall," Kate pointed out.

Alexis bit her lip. "I looked at Oxford and Princeton before and they seemed really nice. Oxford looked amazing and I really liked Princeton when I visited it this summer."

Kate smiled. "I looked into Princeton before I decided on Harvard and it was an amazing school. I almost went there."

Alexis sighed. "I just…what if Ashley decides he likes some Stanford girl better than me?"

"Oh Alexis," Kate said. "If he does that, then he's an idiot. Honestly though, if he does decide that, you being there isn't going to change that decision. You're an amazing girl and that boy is crazy about you. He came down to the precinct because he wanted to be able to talk to you, but didn't want to break your "No call" rule."

Alexis smiled. "But the odds are…"

"Do the odds matter?" Kate asked. "If you two really love each other then the odds aren't important."

Alexis still didn't look convinced so Kate pulled her trump card. "I never told anyone this, but I hated NYU. I never told my parents because my dad would've said 'I told you so,' and my mom would've sighed knowingly and I never told Travis for obvious reasons. The only good thing about NYU was Lanie. She's the only girl I met there that I didn't find totally obnoxious and about the only one I've stayed in touch with completely. I'm not saying you would hate Stanford, you may very well love it should you go. I just don't want you to go to a school you're not sure about and build your future around a boy because…" Kate trailed off. She didn't know how to finish this sentence without sounding rude.

"Because the boy might not be there," Alexis finished for Kate. "I know what you meant, and it's okay. I know what the odds are."

"Alexis, you've got to stop paying attention to the odds," Kate said, chuckling. "Besides, half the stuff you read on the Internet, even statistics, aren't true, and I bet you know that as well."

"I do," Alexis confirmed. "Maybe I should do some more research, look at other places. I do have another whole year, right?"

Alexis smiled at Kate with that question and Kate had to smile too. "You sure?"

"Positive," Alexis said truthfully. "Even if I do end up going to Stanford, there's no need to jump the gun, right?"

Kate outright laughed at that statement. "Right!'

"Now I have a question for you," Alexis informed Kate. "Did Dad put you up to this?"

"No," Kate replied. "Why?"

"Because he would've come looking for you by now," Alexis said. "He finally gets you to come for dinner and there's no way he would let you out of his sight for fifteen minutes. You aren't even out of his sight for fifteen seconds at work. So, how does he not wonder where you are?"

"I don't think he's too concerned about where any of us are right now," Kate said.

"Why?" Alexis questioned.

Kate didn't know if she should tell the girl this, but one look at Alexis' face and Kate knew she had to. Kate wondered if she had passed some habits onto the red head, because that look was one that Kate was very familiar with. She was sure she had used it on suspects at some point. "I think I'm giving you bad habits."

Alexis' look just got more intense, so Kate told her. "After your big announcement, he went into his study and shut the door."

"He…" Alexis trailed off with a gasp. "I am a horrible person!" She got up and began to pace. "Oh my God, how could I have been so selfish! I am awful!"

Kate stepped in Alexis' path and put her hands on the girl's shoulders. "Calm down. Sit down, breathe and tell me what you are talking about."

Alexis obeyed and began talking again after a minute. "I can't believe I did this. All I thought about was how glad I was going to be with Ashley. All I thought about was how great going to Stanford was going to be for me. All I thought about was how going to Stanford was going to benefit me. Me, me, me! I never even thought about Dad, Grams or how this decision was going to affect them. I never even asked them. By the time I told them, the application was already sent."

"Alexis, that doesn't make you selfish," Kate tried to calm her.

"Yes, it does!" Alexis insisted. "Dad misses me when I go to visit Mom for a like a day. He wouldn't be able to handle it if I left to go to college all the way in California. I need to get an application into Princeton right away. I can't go to college across the country!"

"Alexis!" Kate said. "The only way you can't go to college across the country is if you don't want to. You need to make your decision on what you want to do, not on what anybody else, even your dad, wants or needs. He'll be fine. Sure, he'll miss you, but all parents miss their children when they go to college."

Alexis hesitated. Now that she thought about, California was a long way away. It was really close to her mother, but very very far away from her father. "Is it bad that…I'm not sure I could handle going to college all the way across the country?"

Kate smiled. "Not at all. I wish I felt that way when I was your age. I only stayed for Travis."

"Speaking of him," Alexis said. "How much of that story was actually true?"

Kate blinked in surprise. "All of it."

Alexis connected her gaze with Kate's. "I'll ask you again. How much of that story was actually true?"

"You're not by chance thinking of being a detective, are you?" Kate asked, rhetorically. "I did go to NYU, pretty much hated it and I did meet Lanie there. Travis did not exist and I was nowhere as smart as you are, therefore I could never even think about going to Harvard."

Alexis nodded. "I have been listening to Dad tell stories long enough to pick up on his tells. And you did learn from 'the best.'" Alexis used air quotes when she said "the best," knowing that's how her father would refer to himself.

"And you're still thinking about what I said?" Kate asked, amazed that Alexis would since everything Kate used to make points was made up.

Alexis shrugged. "You have a point. Everything you said was true, just not for you. I never stopped long enough to actually think about what I was doing. What I could be throwing away, what I could be losing. Stanford's still in the basket, but it's just not the only place I'm considering anymore."

Kate nodded. "Good."

"Now, if you ask me, it's time we go get Dad out of his study so we can eat dinner," Alexis said decisively.

"Sounds good to me," Kate agreed.

Alexis began to walk out of her room with Kate following, but Alexis suddenly turned back to Kate. "Thanks."

"You would've figured it out on your own," Kate assured Alexis, completely confident in the belief that she would've.

"Maybe, but I needed a little push," Alexis admitted. "When I figured it out, who knows what decisions I could've already made. It might've been too little, too late."

"It's never too late in matters like these," Kate said.

"Maybe not," Alexis said. "But thanks all the same."

Kate smiled at the girl. "Not a problem."

-%

Alexis and Kate came down the stairs and Alexis immediately started toward her father's study.

"Alexis, I wouldn't go in there just yet," Martha warned her granddaughter.

"Not even to tell him I might not be going to Stanford?" Alexis asked her grandmother defiantly.

Martha was speechless. "That's what I thought," Alexis said, continuing her journey to the study.

Martha turned to Kate. "What did you say to that girl?"

Kate's eyes widened. "I'm sorry, I just—"

"No, no," Martha said. "I'm glad she might not be going, but I don't know how you convinced her."

"She knew it wasn't a smart decision," Kate told Martha. "She just needed a confirmation and a little push. So, I just told her a story."

Martha walked over to pour Kate a glass of wine and fill up her own. "You and my son are really made for each other."

Kate's cheeks flushed and she looked down at her lap while Martha finished pouring the wine.

-%

Alexis poked her head in the door of the study. "Dad?"

He turned his chair around. "Yeah?"

"Kate's still here," Alexis reminded him.

He got up out of his chair, not really feeling like entertaining anyone right now, but knowing this was the first time Kate had come over and he needed to make this enjoyable so she would want to do so again. "Right."

"Wait," Alexis said. "Can we talk for a second?"

Castle sat down on the couch in his study and nodded. "Sure."

Alexis came over and sat down beside him. "I was thinking. Maybe I'm rushing this Stanford decision just a bit. After all, I would be missing so much if I didn't finish out my senior year. Also, Stanford is in California. That's all the way across the country. It's pretty close to Mom."

Castle sighed. "If you want to be close to your mom, you should go Alexis."

"Dad, I don't!" Alexis exclaimed. "Want to be close to Mom, I mean. I do love her, but I can't stand her 24/7. I'm not even sure I can stand her for more than a day. There are so many more places I could consider though. Oxford, Harvard, Yale…Princeton!"

Castle swallowed with a small smile on his face. "What made you decide this?"

Alexis shrugged. "Kate gave me a little help. Stanford's still in the basket, I'm just going to fill out other applications, visit other places, and not go to college until the fall."

Castle felt a rush of emotion for Kate. She always said he was the one with the big heart, but right now he wasn't so sure. She went upstairs, took a risk of making his daughter mad at her, just to make Castle happy. Castle had no words for what she did. God, he loved that woman (but had no intentions of expressing that just yet).

"Besides, Dad," Alexis began, breaking into his thoughts. "Stanford may have Ash and may be close to Mom, but Princeton and even all those other colleges are closer to something Stanford could never have."

Castle wrinkled his forehead. "And what's that?"

Alexis stood up and smiled. "The other half to our own father-daughter version of Great Gardens."

Castle smiled at that.

"I love you, Daddy," Alexis said.

Castle stood up too and wrapped his daughter in a hug. "I love you too, pumpkin. So much."

After they pulled back, Castle asked, "So, you're going to apply to Princeton?"

"Definitely," Alexis assured him.

"And, what did Kate say to you?" Castle questioned.

"Not a chance," Alexis told him.

"Oh come on," Castle begged.

"One out of two ain't bad," Alexis teased. "Okay, so Kate's out there with Grams…"

"Kate's…with mother!" Castle exclaimed.

Alexis laughed. "You go save her," Alexis stopped to look at her watch. "And I'll order Chinese."

"I was going to cook," Castle told Alexis, stopping his sprint to the door.

"You want her to come back, don't you!" Alexis asked with a laugh. "That means, you go save her and I'll order Chinese!"

Castle sighed. "I'm a great chef ad you know it! Next time, I cook."

Alexis smiled at her father as he sped away, to save Kate from his mother. He was a great cook, but she knew none of them wanted to eat at nine, which is what time they would be eating if they let him cook. He was such a perfectionist with his cooking…with anything for that matter. She leaned her head back against the chair at his desk with a sigh. Yep, she would definitely miss this if she went away.

Well, that's it, folks. I hope you all liked it or at least enjoyed it at the most. All mistakes and typos are mine, I hope they're not horrible. This story makes me nervous because I'm not sure if I got Kate's dad's place of residence right, or if it is even going to be acceptable, considering what I wrote about. If you read it, please do me a huge favor and review, even if you didn't like it. It would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the rambling and thanks for reading!