Around the World Series

Part Five

North American Dream

Chapter 14

*I am affectionately dubbing this The Wedding Chapter I. You'll see why.*

. . . . .

In the middle of the annual review of expense reports and case closure rates, Captain Roy Montgomery reached for his shrilly ringing phone.

"Montgomery."

"Roy, it's Rick."

"Rick!" Roy's attention shifted almost immediately. The man had been calling weekly to check up on Kate, so this call was an aberration. Still, it felt a little bit like getting a call from a child who had moved away from home. "If she finds out you're upping your check ups to two a week she's really going to kill us both."

That got a hearty, if exhausted laugh. Roy could tell that the absence was weighing on them both. It was actually kind of freaky, how easily Kate had reverted to the dark days before Rick was around to help out. "I'm not calling to check up on her, though the update is appreciated."

"She took the day," Roy revealed easily. The precinct was his work-family and Kate was his work-daughter. That made Rick his soon-to-be work-son-in-law.

The man on the other end of the phone offered a sound of approval. "She works too hard."

"She always has."

They both knew why and while they may have both wished Kate take a break every now and again, there was no doubt that she needed to do what she did. She needed to be a cop. She needed to get justice.

"I am calling for another reason though," Rick said, and Roy, good cop that he was, definitely detected something in the other man's voice. Nerves perhaps. "It's about the wedding."

There was very little Roy wasn't willing to do for Kate and Rick's wedding. He was so happy to see Kate happy, to see her living again, that he was prepared to do everything. He drew the line at officiating though.

"You know Jim's walking Kate down the aisle."

No one had ever had a doubt. Kate and her father had their ups and downs but even Kate knew that allowing someone else to be her escort would be something she'd regret.

"But, we'd both want you to play a big part in our wedding."

Yeah, Montgomery knew that too. Kate had been easy going about sharing all the details with the precinct when they weren't smack dab in the middle of a case. Just last week they'd all gone out to celebrate, Roy and his wife included, and Kate had filled them in on what they had. It wasn't much, but Roy had refrained from asking. There had been something lurking in Kate's eyes and he was afraid to open a can of worms without realizing he was twisting the opener. Since no one else had asked, he figured they'd all caught on that something wasn't right.

"So I was thinking," Rick went on, then paused.

Roy waited. The silence was uncharacteristic of the writer. His relationship with Kate had done nothing to quiet him, so the pauses were odd.

"Roy, I'd be honoured if you stood up with me."

That had been unexpected.

"I couldn't choose between Ryan and Esposito if I tried," Rick continued. "And you let me follow her in the first place. You gave us the opportunity. And you're like a second father to her."

"Rick." He was scolding his child at this point. It was kind of amusing. "I'm the one that would be honoured to stand up with you."

Roy sat back in his chair as the hung up, looking at the phone, reports forgotten. God, if this was what he was like when Kate was getting married he didn't want to think about what he'd be like when his own daughters got married.

But he was so incredibly happy for Kate. He'd noticed her early for her drive and her work ethic. He'd watched her until he could pull her into homicide and had without second thought. Sure, he'd found out about her mother's case along the way and yeah, he'd had to put his foot down more than once in terms of watching her fall of the worst of cliffs, but he'd been her mentor and he knew it. Royce had been her training officer, a rock through the worst, but he had been an unmovable boulder with only her best interests at heart. So where Royce would have given in because he wanted to give her everything she didn't have, Roy put his foot down because he cared.

He'd thought she'd locked herself away after Royce, after the therapy. He'd been careful picking her team, giving her boys with big hearts and the same passion and drive. He wanted her to have a team that understood that being a cop wasn't a video game or a TV show. It was solving real crimes with real people and real families. People with their own pasts and secrets. It was a job as much as a mystery and he'd needed to build a team around her that would support her if she fell.

Inadvertently, he'd created a family.

Then, Kate had arrested Rick Castle. Roy hadn't known anything about the man when he'd first met him, nor that Kate was a fan of the books – he'd only figured the second out when she'd brought in a box of them during that case. He'd been immediately drawn to the way he could fluster her, the way she couldn't control him. He'd wondered, watching Kate, if she was fortifying her walls to thick, if she even knew what fun was anymore. How many times had he forced her to take a vacation, pushed her out of the precinct, quietly threatened to send her back to therapy? Then in came Castle and the entire dynamic changed.

He had the absolute pleasure of watching her let this man in. Dogged persistence had been Castle's middle name for almost three years as he pushed, prodded, cajoled and manipulated her into telling him things Roy was pretty sure even he didn't know. The thing was, Castle responded. The wild playboy that had strutted into the precinct that first day was a far cry from the man that worked cases with her now. Sure, the fundamentals were there, but so was a genuine respect for the things the NYPD did, and a recognition that these weren't mystery novels. They were real cases. They were real deaths. And all Castle had done was be there, be her support, her helping hand, her rock. He'd been so stable for her and he'd broken through the wall she'd built around her heart so long ago.

It changed Kate. It didn't change the passion, the drive, the determination or the love of the work she did, but Roy could see that she was different. She went home now, without having to be ordered. She was quicker to smile, faster to make a witty comment, as open to going out for a drink as she was having the team over for Thanksgiving. She'd created a home, found herself someone who could love her unconditionally, who worshipped the ground she walked on. And Roy knew that she wasn't above admitting that it was surreal.

Roy smiled to himself as he leaned forward again, knowing he had to get back to his job. Detective Kate Beckett, marrying the writer she loved so much.

Roy never would have expected it.


Meanwhile, Kate had decided that it was time to relieve stress with a friend, and since she'd planned to spend the day with Lanie, she'd decided wedding dress shopping was in order. It wasn't her characteristic relief of choice, but she'd needed girl time. And, more importantly, she needed a wedding dress. So she'd bribed Lanie into taking the day off with coffee, company and maybe a little bit of manipulation. She just wasn't sure she wanted to be by herself.

Planning the wedding with Rick for those few hours in New Orleans had been fantastic. It had been exactly what she'd hoped for, exactly what she wanted. She'd reveled in making choices with him, in goofing around almost like they did in the precinct. But now, she was back in New York and things were different. Not that she'd really take Rick dress shopping. It was kind of a girl thing and the only girl who's opinion mattered was currently shuffling around pedestrians at her side.

At least, the only girl on earth. But Kate was trying not to dwell on the emptiness her mother's death seemed to leave in her wedding. Plenty of women got married without their mothers present and it wasn't like she didn't have a female support system. They just… they weren't her mother.

"You're going to that dark place again."

Kate offered the best smile she could at Lanie. "Sorry."

"Uh huh," the ME replied, linking her arm with Kate. "I get it."

She didn't, Kate thought, but appreciated the sentiment.

However, Lanie did understand, probably better than Kate realized. How many times had Kate been a bridesmaid and seen that moment between mother and daughter? Lanie could appreciate how hard it was to plan what was supposed to be the happiest day of her life without the one woman that probably mattered most. Martha was a phenomenal stand in, but she wasn't Johanna Beckett. Nothing could change that, and realistically, Lanie doubted Kate would want to change it. The detective had always been the 'play-your-hand' type. It was one of the key tip offs for Lanie that she and Rick were perfect.

So, it was her job to keep Kate out of a funk and with Rick across the country-ish and Martha busy with her own life, it was Lanie's turn. It was an assignment she accepted with gusto.

"Girl, you know to buy a dress we actually have to go into a store," she groused playfully, waving the paper take-out coffee cup she held.

"I know," Kate promised. "It's just…"

"Hard."

The detective released an explosive sigh. "Yeah." She offered another tight smile. "Sorry."

"Nah. 'Cept you wouldn't show Castle the dress anyway. You'd be shopping by yourself. And even I know that's just depressing," Lanie retorted. "Though seriously, my fingers are starting to freeze and we've only got a couple of hours."

She made a point, so the next boutique they passed Lanie pulled Kate through the door. "Okay, go over the requirements with me."

"Summer," Kate replied, shuffling through a rack. "So not heavy, not long-sleeved."

"May it the Hamptons'll still be cold."

Kate smiled, truly and mischievously. "That's what Rick's coat's for."

Lanie grinned back, even as she asked, "Is anything at your wedding going to be traditional?"

"No," Kate answered with a tinkling laugh. "Rick and I figure we're both so unconventional that it would be out of character."

And that was it, the bare truth. It was why Kate wasn't looking for a princess dress or a massive train. Beyond that not really being her style, she wanted simplicity. She wanted something that was about them and to do that, they just had to be them. She didn't want her wedding transformed into the social event of the season because, quite simply, they weren't tabloid fodder. They were real, what they had was real and Kate was determined to ensure that who they were came through in every aspect of their wedding.

Which included her dress.

"Money's no object, right?" Lanie asked.

Kate jumped because Lanie had thankfully asked the question in a low voice right beside her. "Right," she agreed. "I'm not allowed to say no to something I love because of the price."

"Kate Beckett with a bottomless wedding account. I never would have seen it coming."

"You and me both," Kate promised.

"Okay, here's what we're going to do," Lanie said clapping her hands together. She'd noticed one of the sales women circling them, working her way towards them and with how skittish Kate seemed to be about the whole idea, Lanie was incredibly reluctant to allow any one else to weasel their way in. Plus, it wasn't like Kate's name and picture were kept entirely out of the press. The last thing Lanie wanted was Kate trying on a bunch of dresses she'd never choose for herself because the sales woman thought it perfect for Rick Castle's wife-to-be.

That wasn't Kate.

"I'm going to pick three, you're going to pick three, and we're going to start narrowing down what works and what doesn't."

Kate grinned and reached over to give Lanie a one-armed hug. "You're the best."

"Yeah," Lanie grinned back. "I know." Then she pointed. "You, over there."

It took them twenty minutes to find three dresses a piece and they were shown to a fitting room. The sales woman, who had introduced herself as Juliet, hovered, but a quick glare from Lanie sent her scurrying. Kate would not be pressured.

Lanie knew the wedding planning was hard. Harder, obviously, because Johanna wasn't in the picture, but neither was Rick. Sure, Kate wouldn't be showing her fiancée her wedding gown, but she had the rest of it to plan too. She'd been on the receiving end of more than one angry rant about how unhelpful Rick was being while on tour and while Lanie couldn't exactly fault him, she wasn't entirely taking Kate's side either. Despite how far they'd come, Lanie knew that Kate still had trouble opening up about some things, actually expressing what she wanted. Lanie also knew that part of that stemmed from how much Kate thought she'd taken over the years. The ME knew that sometimes Kate felt like she didn't give as much as she received in the relationship and was still very uncomfortable with the idea that Rick would move the world for her if he could.

The unlocking dressing room caught her gaze as Kate stepped out in a form fitting, thick spaghetti-strapped ivory satin dress. The sweetheart neckline was kind of cute but Lanie wrinkled her nose.

"Yeah," Kate agreed on a bit of a laugh. "It looked better on the hangar I think."

"Looks a little like you walked out in your nightie," Lanie answered as Kate shut the door again.

Still, the ME smiled to herself. They were dress shopping. It was insane. Actually, what felt even more insane was the fact that Kate was getting married before Lanie. Lanie had always figured it would be her first because Kate could be so incredibly closed off, so incredibly protective of herself.

Lanie sighed. She couldn't help wondering when she'd be able to do this kind of thing.

Kate interrupted her thoughts again, this time stepping out in a strapless dress. The bodice was embroidered with glass beads and the skirt fell loose to her knees.

"I like the length," Lanie offered.

Kate laughed. "I'm going to sparkle like a disco ball."

"True," Lanie said, cocking her head to the side. "Should have thought about the sunlight." It had been one of her picks. She made a mental note.

Kate poked her head back into the dressing room. "Okay, that eliminates the long ones…"

They continued through another twelve dresses before they both decided to move on. Lanie sighed as they stepped onto the walk, catching Kate's attention.

"Something wrong?"

Lanie wrinkled her nose. "Not wrong," she said. "Just… odd."

Kate didn't say anything for a few moments, but Lanie knew the wheels in her brain were turning. When didn't they?

"You want to marry Javi."

Yeah. Why had she chosen a whip-smart best friend again? "All this wedding stuff has me thinking, yeah."

"Thinking isn't the same thing," Kate argued. "You actually want to."

Lanie took a sip out of her cup, stalling. "His parents' place was fun." Actually, Lanie had been a couple of times since, when their schedules coincided. "And… Kate, I can see it. Goin' every Christmas, takin' the kids-"

"Kids, Lain?"

"You can't tell me you haven't thought about it. Little Castle babies." Lanie arched an eyebrow even as Kate blanched. "I can see it. You'd be a good Ma."

"I don't know," Kate admitted. "With my job… And Rick's got an empty nest now. A kid's not conducive for writing."

Lanie filed it away, but avoiding pressing the subject. Wedding first, then she'd worry about godchildren. Pseudo-nieces and nephews. Whatever they'd be. "Point is, I could see it. I can still see it."

"The question is whether you like it."

"I do," she said after a pause. "But we haven't even moved in together."

"What's stopping you?"

Lanie laughed. "Girl, you're getting married. That's a lot to take on. Javi and I just got over a bit of a hump with his parents…"

"You don't want to rock the boat just yet," Kate finished. "And that had better be it, because if you're telling me you don't want to overshadow my wedding I'm going to beat you."

Lanie snorted. "Try me. You may be trained, but I'm street trained."

The laughed together as they went into the second boutique.

It took them four more before Kate slipped into the perfect dress. It was strapless, to her knees, with an intricate lace overlay. Lace edged the bottom hem while a peach sash tied around her waist. Simple. Unconventional. Lanie knew the minute Kate stepped out of the fitting room that she was in love with it.

"Kate?"

"This is it," Kate breathed. "Lanie, this is my wedding dress."

They'd found it.


Okay, story time with Kavi:

I'd initially planned to make this about Hanson and the interrogation. It was in my story notes. But I've been dying to do the wedding dress shopping and the wedding discussion that comes with it, and then the scene with Montgomery came... Needless to say, the chapter took on a life of it's own. I promise to remember to explain and make the timeline clear in terms of when they manage to track the bastard down.

Have I mentioned how weird it is to write Montgomery in this? I haven't given my Montgomery any sort of backstory and the way he's played his role in this series means that in actual fact, he can't really be partially responsible for her mother's death. At least that's the way my head's processing it. So it's odd to write him without the guilt of making Kate suffer. It was hard to write the chunk of how he fixated on Kate and brought her into homicide to work under him.

And, as if all of that's not enough, it's a quick update! My third today, actually. Sometimes, you just have to shut the world out and write.

Hope you enjoyed!