A/N: Alright, this is something completely different from what I usually write, but this idea has been nagging me for months so I thought I should finally do something about it. It's my first time writing AU in the Castle fandom, so I am slightly nervous about it. I really hope you guys like it because I'm excited about this new story as it will most likely be my last one before the season premiere in September.
Disclaimer: Castle is still not mine. Sigh.
Someone Like You
Time had gone by so fast and at the same time so agonizingly slow. Ten years ago today she had gotten home with her dad to find the police on her doorstep. Ten years since her world had ended. Since she had heard her mother's voice, hugged her for the last time.
She was terrified of one day forgetting what her mom sounded like, smelled like. She was terrified that one day she would wake up and not remember how it felt to be in her mother's arms. Even now that she was a mother herself, she couldn't bear the thought that her mom was truly gone.
Now as she watched her little boy sleep, she wondered what her mother would think of him. What would she think of her getting pregnant so young, fresh out of the Academy? What would she think of the fact that she was now a homicide detective?
It seemed so unfair. No, scratch that. It was so unfair. Her mother had had a brilliant life ahead of her. Now she was motherless, her father still battled alcoholism and she had an 8-year-old boy to raise all by herself.
Life was not fair.
But that's just it. Life wasn't fair to anyone.
"Ty, sweetie." She sat down and touched her son's back gently. The boy didn't even stir. "Tyler, it's time to wake up. You have school today." She leaned down and kissed his brown hair.
"Five more minutes." She heard him mumble, face half buried in his pillow. Sometimes she worried he might suffocate sleeping like that and she still checked on him a couple of times at night to make sure he was okay.
"Alright, I'm going to go take a shower. You better be up by the time I come back here, squirt." She stood up and pulled his covers with her.
"Mom!" he whined and curled his body into fetal position, trying to retain warmth. "It's cold."
"One more reason for you to get up and get dressed for school." She winked at him and leaned down one more time to give a loud peck on his cheek. "Morning, kid." She smiled and he smiled at her sleepily. She brushed his hair away from his eyes. Her eyes. He was the spitting image of her.
"Morning, mom." He stretched and wrapped his arms around her neck. "You really need to work on this wake up call thing." He whispered in her ear and she laughed, tickling his sides.
"You have five seconds to be inside that bathroom, kid. One…" she started counting and he quickly let go of her and was out of bed and in the bathroom just when she hit number five, his laughter gracing her ears.
His delight was heavenly for her today. She was going to have to hold on to that sound tightly if she wanted to make it through the day.
The three feet of snow that had fallen overnight had covered Manhattan in a white blanket. It was all around her, that seemingly endless sea of white with frigid temperatures and biting winds. She drove Tyler to school, navigating carefully through the slippery streets of New York. That particular task took her the better part of an hour and by the time she arrived at the 12th Precinct, it was already past 9.
She tried her best to focus on the case they were working on, which still had no solid leads after three days. She knew her partners, Detectives Ryan and Esposito, were trying their best to keep her occupied as they knew just how much today affected her. They bounced ideas off each other during the entire morning and into the early afternoon, but they still didn't get anywhere.
It was nearing 2pm – and she had finally made her way across the street to buy something to eat – when her phone rang.
"Beckett." She said distractedly into her phone, handing the sweet, pimply kid that worked at Remy's the cash for her burger.
"Mrs. Beckett? This is Angela Conway, I am the nurse at your son's school."
As soon as she heard those words, it felt like her blood had just frozen in her veins. No. Not today. Please, God, not her son, not today.
"What happened?" she could hear the panic in her voice. The cool, calm and collected Detective Beckett was gone and Kate Beckett, the mother, had taken over.
"No need to be alarmed, Mrs. Beckett. Tyler fell during baseball practice and hurt his arm. We want your permission to take him to the hospital to check his injury as I suspect it may be broken." The nurse explained calmly, but all she could think about was that her child was in pain and alone and she wasn't there to protect him.
"Where are you taking him? I'll meet you there right now." Kate ran a hand through her hair nervously and picked up the package with her burger the kid offered her.
"We're going to NYU Medical Center."
"Alright, I'll be there in ten minutes. Tell him I'll be right there." She said and got in her car.
She needed to see her son. Now.
Calling Esposito to let him know what happened, she drove as fast as she could, but the snow and traffic made her life more difficult. She was close to abandoning her car altogether and walking the remaining block that separated her from her son, when traffic finally cleared and she managed to park almost in front of the hospital.
Locking her car, she ran up the steps to the emergency entrance and pushed through the doors. She looked around for a moment to locate someone she could talk to and made her way to the nurse's station.
"Excuse me? I'm looking for my son. His name is Tyler Beckett. Someone from his school was supposed to bring him in." she asked a young nurse, who was checking a chart.
"Oh, hi, yes. He just got here. The doctor is seeing him now. I'll take you there, Mrs. Beckett."
"Thank you. How bad is it, do you know?" she asked anxiously, following the nurse down the hallway and into the pediatric emergency ward.
"Looks like a broken arm, I'm afraid. But he should be just fine, no need to worry." She smiled at Kate comfortingly and pushed open a curtain. "Here he is."
He looked so small in that bed, his arm cradled against his chest. Tyler was a tall kid, but right then he had never looked more fragile to her. She blinked back tears of relief that burned behind her eyes.
"Hi, honey. What happened to you?" she asked him gently, placing a kiss on his forehead.
"I was running and didn't see the plate. Fell on my arm. It hurts a lot, mom." His voice broke in the end and she watched as he bit down on his lip, trying not to cry.
"Oh, Ty, it's okay to cry, baby. You're going to be just fine."
"Your mom is right, you know."
She turned around and realized the doctor was in there with them. She seemed to be well into her fifties and reminded Kate terribly of her mother.
"Sorry, I didn't see you there. I'm Kate Beckett." She stretched out her hand and the doctor shook it.
"I'm Dr. Sanders. I think Tyler may have broken his arm, but we have to get an x-ray to be certain. He's been a very brave boy, right, Tyler?" she smiled kindly at him, but he just hid his face in his mom's arm. "We'll give you something to help with the pain real soon, buddy."
"Can I go with him?" Kate asked and the doctor nodded.
"You have to wait outside, though. A nurse will be in soon to take you guys to Radiology." Dr. Sanders explained. "I'll be back to see you soon, Tyler." She winked at him and closed the curtain a bit, moving to the next bed. "Alexis, how are you doing today, darling? We've missed you around here." Kate heard her ask the other child, followed by a giggle.
Turning back to her son, she tuned out the conversation going on around them and sighed.
"Hanging in there, kiddo?" she asked, brushing his hair away from his eyes again. He needed a haircut badly.
"It hurts, momma." He told her in a small voice, a tear finally slipping free from the corner of his eye.
"Oh, sweetie. You'll be okay real soon, I promise. I know it hurts, but you heard the doctor. They just need to take a picture of your arm to see what really happened and then I bet you'll get a cool cast." She smiled down at him and kissed the top of his head.
"Really?" he asked, looking up at her, eyes wide in a mix of fear and excitement.
"Yup. And you can get all your friends to sign it too."
"That's kind of cool." He muttered to himself and Kate smiled at his childish wonder.
Soon a nurse came by to take them to Radiology. The whole process was fast, but not pain free for Tyler, unfortunately. When they returned to the Pediatric emergency ward, the nurse gave him something for the pain, which put him right to sleep. Kate was glad; she couldn't bear to see her kid in pain.
She pulled a stool and sat next to his bed with a sigh, waiting for the doctor.
"That's the worst part of being a parent, isn't it?" A voice to her right startled her out of her thoughts.
She turned around and her eyes widened.
Richard Castle was sitting right in front of her. Richard Castle, her favorite author, was less than ten feet away. The guy who had gotten her through the darkest times with his words after her mother's death; who had created worlds she could escape into in order to forget her own tragedy; whose words had encouraged her to become a homicide detective.
She felt her jaw dropping slightly and it took her a moment to pull herself together.
"Yeah." She said quietly. "I can't stand to see him in pain." She told him and was proud of herself for managing to say a full, coherent sentence to him.
"What happened?" he asked quietly, so not to wake the sleeping boy. His daughter was curled up facing the other side, reading a book.
"Baseball practice. He said he tripped on the plate and fell on his arm. The radiology guy said it was a mild fracture." She explained and he nodded with a grimace.
"Fractures suck. I remember breaking my arm when I was ten. Not a fun experience." He shook his head sympathetically.
"Yeah. He's excited about getting a cast, though. So I guess there is a silver lining for everything, right?"
She smiled slightly and he chuckled. She felt like she had stepped into another universe.
She was talking to Richard Castle. Holy Mother of God.
"I'm sorry, I never introduced myself." He looked at her sheepishly. "I'm Rick Castle." He reached out his hand and she took it, the warmth of his skin comforting her.
"I know." She said and fought a losing battle against the blush that was creeping up her neck. "I really admire your work, Mr. Castle." She said quietly, feeling almost like a school girl with a crush on the most popular guy.
"Thank you, Mrs…" he squeezed her hand gently and she realized she was still holding it. Pulling her hand away from him almost as if she had been burned, she self-consciously pushed a strand of her hair behind her ear and cleared her throat, blushing furiously.
"Beckett. Kate Beckett." She said nervously and watched as he tried to fight a smile.
"Are you a secret agent like James Bond?" he asked with a mischievous glint in his eyes and she chuckled, feeling more at ease.
"No, but I am detective with the NYPD." She confessed.
"Really? That is so cool." He told her excitedly. "It is really nice to meet you, Detective Beckett." He smiled at her warmly and turned back to his daughter. "Did you hear that, pumpkin? She's a real NYPD detective. How cool is that?"
The red-haired girl turned around to look at them and Kate immediately noticed she had her father's eyes, although a lighter shade of blue.
"Like in your books, daddy?" she asked closing the book she had been reading.
"Exactly." He told her enthusiastically.
"Do you catch bad guys?" the little girl asked her. She was probably Tyler's age.
"I try to, yeah." Kate replied, amused by their excitement.
"This is Alexis, by the way." He introduced his daughter, tugging on her pigtails affectionately. "This is Detective Kate Beckett, pumpkin."
"Nice to meet you, Alexis." Kate smiled at the girl and was rewarded with a partially toothless grin.
"Nice to meet you too, Detective."
"Please, you guys can call me Kate. I'm not on duty right now." She dismissed their formalities and felt the butterflies in her stomach go crazy when he smiled at her. He looked even better in person, she thought to herself.
"Mom?" Tyler's sleepy voice made her turn around to her son.
"Hey, Ty. How are you feeling?" she asked him soothingly and he yawned.
"Sleepy. Can we go home?" he blinked at her groggily and she shook her head.
"Not yet, honey. The doctor needs to see you first, remember?" she smiled gently at him and he nodded.
"I hear you're getting a cool cast there, little guy." She heard Rick comment behind her and Tyler shifted to look at him.
"That's what mom said." He said shyly. "I broke my arm." He offered and Rick nodded.
"Your mom told me. You were playing baseball?" he asked and Tyler told him what happened.
"It hurt really bad when I fell, but now it doesn't so much anymore." He explained and Kate watched her son proudly. He was talking to her favorite author. God, she was such a fangirl inside.
"I'm getting my cast off today." Alexis chipped in and Tyler realized there was another kid in the room.
"What happened?" he asked curiously and Alexis sighed.
"It's a long story. I'm Alexis, by the way. And this is my dad, Rick Castle." She pushed her bangs away from her eyes. "I fell off my horse. Broke my leg. Needed surgery. It was messy."
As Alexis explained the abridged version of what happened, Kate saw Rick's eyes darken as he seemed lost in memories. Involuntarily, she reached out and touched his knee, only to retreat hastily when she realized what she had just done.
"You okay?" she mouthed to him and he nodded with a small smile.
"Just remembering. It wasn't a fun day." He told her quietly with a sad smile.
Just as she was about to respond, Dr. Sanders walked back into the room with a nurse, holding several charts.
"Alright, Ms. Alexis Castle. Time to get that cast off." She told the girl, who was practically bouncing on the bed with excitement.
"Finally!" she exclaimed with a relieved sigh as the nurse began to cut the cast.
"And you, Mr. Tyler, you're getting a brand new cast on that arm."
"Is it going to hurt?" Her little boy asked and Kate could tell he was afraid of being in pain again.
"Nurse Jacobs here will be very gentle with you, buddy." Dr. Sanders told him and he nodded warily. Kate took his uninjured hand and brought it to her lips.
"I'll be right here with you the whole time, sweetie." She said, trying to comfort him. "You can squeeze my hand as hard as you want."
He nodded and she kissed his hand again. Turning around, she met Rick's gaze. He smiled at her encouragingly. It really took a parent to understand the turmoil going on inside of her as she watched her child being scared. She still couldn't believe that she was being comforted by Richard Castle, today of all days.
With a sigh, she wondered what her mom would say about this. Alexis' voice broke her out of her reverie and she turned around again to see the little girl's smiling face as the nurse threw her cast in the trash.
It was Tyler's turn now and Kate felt him squeeze her hand in apprehension.
"I promise I'll be as gentle as I can, okay, Tyler?" the nurse told him and he nodded before closing his eyes and squeezing his mom's hand again.
When he realized it wasn't all that painful, Tyler started to relax. The nurse joked around with him and Alexis kept talking to him, which proved to be a great distraction. She met Rick's eyes again and smiled gratefully. He nodded with a smile and shrugged slightly as Alexis babbled away. The red head really was adorable and incredibly outgoing.
"All done, Tyler." The nurse said cheerfully and helped him put the sling over his head. Once he had his arm supported, he let out a sigh. "How's that? Anything bothering you?"
"No, not really." He shook his head. "It doesn't hurt so much anymore."
"Good. Dr. Sanders will be in to release him soon." She told them and waved goodbye, leaving the room.
"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?" Kate asked her son and he shook his head again.
"Are you going to let people sign it?" Rick asked behind her.
"I guess." He shrugged.
"Hey, Tyler?" Alexis called him and he turned to face her. "Maybe we could do something together? I know all sorts of games we can play since I had a cast for eight weeks." She offered and Tyler cheered up immediately.
"That'd be really cool, Alexis." He smiled happily at her and Kate shared a look with Rick, eyebrows raised. He nodded.
"We'll arrange something, guys." Rick told the kids and offered Kate a smile.
"It's going to be really fun, Ty. You'll see. Daddy knows the best games."
Both Alexis and Tyler were discharged at the same time, so they all walked to the entrance together. The kids walked a few paces ahead, heads bent together conspiratorially. They had become fast friends, despite the odd circumstances. Kate shook her head, still trying to wrap her mind around this day. It felt surreal that Richard Castle – Rick, as he had insisted she called him – was walking right next to her, their kids most likely planning some kind of chaos together.
"So…" Rick touched her elbow, making her turn to look at him when they reached the sidewalk. "How are we going to do this?"
"Do you have anything in mind?" she asked, feeling a little shy all of a sudden.
"How about you give me a call this weekend and we'll work something out?" He suggested and Kate nodded, handing him her phone so he could save his number.
"I'd love to talk to you about your work, if that's alright with you." He said and she thought she could sense a bit of shyness in his tone. "You know, for research. Maybe we can have a cup of coffee while those two hang out? What do you think? Or whenever you're free. I know your job is demanding and you probably don't have a lot of free time and…" he was rambling and she bit her lip to keep from smiling.
"Sure, Rick, I'd love to." She told him and he grinned happily.
"That's great." His smile was contagious. "Can I have your number so we can arrange something?"
She nodded, feeling slightly giddy as he handed her his phone. She quickly programmed her numbed into his contacts list and handed it back to him. He put it back in his pocket and surprised her by leaning in and pecking her quickly on the cheek.
"It was really nice to meet you, Kate." He said warmly and she felt herself blushing slightly.
"Likewise." She grinned and turned to her son. "Come on, Ty. Say goodbye to Alexis and Rick so we can get you home."
"Bye, guys." He waved at them as Alexis did the same.
"I'll see you soon, buddy." Rick ruffled his hair and hailed a cab.
Kate watched as they got into the vehicle and drove away, Alexis waving back at them.
Surreal. That's what this whole day was.