Disclaimer: I don't own Castle, which is a good, because I would have run out of great ideas a long time ago.
To say Kate Beckett was surprised to walk into work that morning would be an understatement. She knew that her team was faced with the seemingly endless stacks of paperwork that accompanied the events surrounding the end of their last case. Having to document the discharge of her weapon was always something that took twice as long as the rest of the paperwork on a case.
These were the days that her ever-present shadow found it best to stroll in around lunch time instead of anything resembling the morning hours, if he even came in at all. As if to prove his own pattern wrong, though she hadn't realized it was one until just now, Richard Castle was already seated in his chair beside her desk.
He was always a little more mobile than most. She wasn't going to put him backwards to when they were still getting to know each other and she had classified him as a puppy chasing its tail, he had learned a little self-control over the years. Still, he had a hard time sitting still. As she approached, she could tell this was going to be one of the more active days as he seemed to vibrate with some kind of internal pulse.
"What are you doing here?" she asked as she took her seat and nodded her appreciation for the coffee she hadn't been expecting on her desk.
"I work here." He responded immediately, but with a shrug added, "Sort of."
She knew that there was no need for her to ask again; the look she leveled on him was usually more than enough to get him to cave, so she waited him out.
It only took a few seconds for a sigh to escape his lips, "I need help." He finally responded, sounding a bit dejected.
She almost laughed, but managed to contain it with a small smirk, "Tell me something I don't know, Castle."
"I'm serious." He whined with a little pout marring the line of his lips that she, unfortunately, found adorable.
Interested in shaking that thought, she focused on her response, "Well, there's a first time for everything." She responded flippantly as she arranged things on her desk in preparation for a day that would undoubtedly leave her hand slightly cramped from repeatedly signing her name and filling out boxes that were always too small for everything she needed to put in them.
"Ok, fine, I get it." his pout was gone, replaced with a mild irritated expression that she could tell he didn't mean. "Never mind. Whatever, it's fine." he said as he braced his hands on the armrests of his chair as if he were going to get up. It was the look of hurt hiding behind the mask of frustration that got to her
Her hand on his sleeve stopped him before he actually started to stand, but as soon as she knew he wasn't going anywhere she quickly withdrew from the firm warmth beneath soft fabric. "What can I do to help?"
"It's Alexis." He said as an intro and instantly she tuned more fully into him as his agitation and impatience began to make sense. She waited for him to elaborate, wondering what bit of parenting he'd ask her opinion on this time.
It hadn't escaped her notice that he always seemed to be asking for advice from her, someone that didn't have any kids. The thought had never stopped her willingness to help him work through a problem. She figured it was just the need for a female opinion, but didn't downplay these brief glimpses of 'Papa Castle'.
"I'm really bad at these things." He finally said, hanging his head just a little as he looked away from her with something akin to shame in his features.
"Hey," she called his attention back to her softly, sensing his unease with whatever was on his mind, "Don't be so hard on yourself. You're a good father, Castle."
There was a smile playing on his lips almost instantly and she watched him appear to contemplate a response, from the glint in his eyes she knew she wouldn't like whatever it was. However, almost as quickly as it came up it was gone, he buried it before finally speaking, "I know, 'World's Greatest Dad', I have the mug to prove it. It's just this one thing I've failed at for so long and I don't want to let her down again."
"It can't be that bad." She replied, but he fixed her with an expression that clearly told her she had no idea. "I can't help unless you explain what the problem is."
"So you'll help me?" his hopeful expression had her rolling her eyes at him.
Beckett shook her head, "I didn't say that." She gave him a look that she hoped projected to him that she wasn't born yesterday, "For all I know, you're trying to talk her into vacationing in Australia and my agreement to help would end with you assuming I was flying halfway across the world with you. Nope, Castle, not falling for that one."
"As tempting as that is," he threw in a little waggle of his eyebrows, though she could tell his heart wasn't in the gesture, "it wouldn't solve the problem."
Beckett simply nodded for him to go on and watched as he seemed to gather his thoughts.
"It all started when she was five," He explained, his tone solemn. "As so many things do, it started simply enough. Her name was Koko, she was a clown. Poor little Alexis thought she more closely resembled a serial killer than a fun loving circus performer."
Kate had to turn to her stack of files to keep from laughing as he started to explain in earnest the various ways he had managed to mess up his daughter's birthday over more than a decade. He told tale after tale from cake-tastrophes to food poisoning to party faux pas that would make for great comedy on some episodic television show about a family.
She had to split her focus with the work in front of her in order to keep a straight face. It seemed that no matter what he did, something came up every year that would ruin the day for Alexis. She really didn't want to laugh, but was finding it harder than ever to keep a straight face as he tried to explain his attempt to evade the problem the year before.
"I thought the curse of horrible birthdays couldn't possibly follow us out of the country." He scoffed.
"I'm guessing the 'curse'," she made air quotes as she repeated his word choice with humor, "caught up with you?" she asked. Though the answer was obvious, she was waiting for the story.
"Worst one yet, like we were being punished for trying to flee." He shook his head in frustration, "Our plane had to make an emergency landing due to the weather and we spent three days snowed in at an airport, breathing the recirculated air and sleeping on the floor. They lost our luggage and if all that wasn't bad enough, by the time we got out Alexis was so sick that she ended up spending the rest of our trip in a hotel room with a hundred plus fever and her head in the toilet."
Beckett couldn't help needling him, "Castle, if you're cursed, I don't know if there's anything I can do to help. Not to mention that I probably shouldn't risk it rubbing off on me."
"Come on, Beckett." He pleaded. "I don't know what I did to deserve something like this to befall my family, but whatever it is I know it won't try anything if you're in on it."
"So, you think your bad karma will be offset by my good?" she asked incredulously.
He gave a shrug, his palms rising open and directed up in a supplicating gesture as he graced her with a sheepish smile, "It couldn't hurt?" he offered, though the way he phrased it as a question left her doubting the truth behind the statement.
"It better not." She supplied with a warning clear in her tone.
His grin was instant. "So you'll help me?" Castle's excitement was contagious, but she swept the feelings under a reflexive eye roll.
"What makes you think I want to use all my good karma to make up for whatever crappy things you did to bring this on yourself?" she asked with a lilt in her voice, finally taking her eyes off the paperwork that was going much faster than she had anticipated. Perhaps, it was just easier to go through the monotony of it all with some light entertainment on the side.
She had been ready to fix him with a glare as if the suggestion that she would even help him was ludicrous, but when she looked up he was pouting again. Damn him.
"It's not for me." He pointed out quietly. "It's for Alexis."
She wondered if he knew that was the trump card he hadn't needed to play. It was a phrase that would apparently always work on her. She wouldn't be able to explain why if she were asked; the knowledge was for her and only her. It wasn't pity or even empathy for the teen who was struggling through teenage years without a mom the way Kate had from age nineteen. It was more than that and less than that at the same time. As she thought on the subject, Beckett realized that it was probably good no one had asked her, because she couldn't even put it into words for her own thoughts.
"Fine, I'll help you." She responded with a sigh that spoke of someone who had just had the weight of the world put upon their shoulders. She followed the sound with a quirk of her lips that had him grinning at her like a mad man.
"Thank you. Thank you." He repeated quickly and she turned back to work as relief seemed to wash over him.
It was hours later, as Beckett was finishing her paperwork and Castle was typing out his name to confirm his new high score in Bejeweled on his phone, that he casually asked, "Anything fun planned for after work?"
She shrugged as she signed the statement she had just printed out on the events surrounding her use of her firearm in the line of duty. "Not really. Probably just curl up with a book, despite how little I've moved around today, paperwork is exhausting. You?"
He stood out of his chair quickly, grabbing his jacket off the back of the seat in the same motion. "I'll be by at seven." He said, casting her a quick smile that displayed an attitude that was a far cry from the mood he had been in a few short hours ago.
He didn't wait for a response and turned to head out, slipping on his jacket as he went. It took her a moment of staring after his retreat for her to register what he meant by his comment. She almost hollered her belated response after him, but her eyes instantly fell on all the other detectives seated between her desk and his purposeful strides towards the elevator.
She sighed, not interested in making a scene and pulled out her phone. Kate typed out a quick message to him that her revelation that she didn't have plans was not an invitation for him to make plans for her.
He pulled the phone out of his pocket as he boarded the lift and she watched him smile. As his eyes came up to meet hers, he rolled them before the doors closed him inside.
It wasn't more than a few seconds later that her phone buzzed from its position still in her hand. It was a message from Castle that she didn't want to read.
She hit 'open' anyway.
'You said you'd help. See you at 7 for brainstorming. I'll bring dinner.' It read and she groaned. Tossing her phone back to her desktop, she ducked her head back to the work at hand, unwilling to dwell on her urge to respond.
She had listened to him tell all those stories and the one common element had been Castle and his ability to over think a situation. She was fairly confident that if she put her focus on distracting him the day of the event then whatever they planned would go off without a hitch. Still, she didn't like the thought of spending so much time with him while he was in such a worried state. He was likely to be unbearably annoying throughout the process. She began to wonder why she had said yes in the first place, but the image of the dejected look on his face was enough to remind her.
Beckett knew she was going to regret agreeing to help him, she just had no idea that it would be quite so soon.
A/N: This is the only warning you'll get for the duration of the story: This is starting with an absolutely ridiculous and silly premise. It will likely continue in that direction as a way to alleviate any stress my more serious stories might put me through. I've taken this on through a challenge and plan to do what I can with what I was given.
I was not provided a plot, but a song and some imagery to include. Initially, I was dumbfounded as to how to keep this even remotely in character, but I think I've got it figured out. I will divulge the song/imagery I was given as it comes up in the story so as to retain a little bit of mystery.
As that was your only warning, don't cry to me if there is any or none of the following: Gore, sex, violence, silliness, strong language, fluff, angst, insanity, and/or divergence into the land of the ridiculously implausible.
This will be my escape fic and I'm hoping my drama and angst stories are better for having this more upbeat and quirky outlet. This is not based on any episode, though I'm claiming writer's rights to pull in references to any episode that has aired thus far if I need them.
That being said, I doubt that this will have any spoilers at all, because it's just a random little happy piece to keep my sanity levels in check as I write stories that sometimes leave me feeling depressed, sad, or generally negative. Also, I'm not sure how often I'll update because this is not going to be my primary focus, but I'll do my best to keep this current.
Ok, so this will be a very different story for me, stretching that writer's muscle again. Hopefully I can do a lighter genre a little justice. Let's all find out together.
Holy Crap that was a long note!
Thanks to everyone for reading.