To Kate

Summary: The first time Alexis finds them, she knows she wasn't supposed to find them at all.

Disclaimer: I own nothing, clearly. Otherwise I would've watched everything.

A/N: This is my first foray into the world of Castle – a disclaimer right at the start, to date I've only watched season one and the first episode of season two. I'm a little late to the game, but absolutely 100% in love with the show. Any inaccuracies, anything that doesn't make sense, anything that I seem to have missed – it's probably because I don't know about it yet. That said, I just couldn't resist writing about these characters who have well and truly worked their way into my brain. This little series will consist of four parts. There will be a second chapter to this story, and then two accompanying standalone stories. Suggestions, comments, criticism, advice are all welcomed, especially as I'm so new to the show.

To Kate

The first time Alexis finds them, she knows she wasn't supposed to find them at all. Martha has taken her to the theatre and by the time she goads her grandmother away from the after party, it's well after midnight. Her father is a night owl though, so when they get home Martha sends her up to see if he's still awake.

He isn't.

Nor is he alone.

Lit by a thin sliver of moonlight at his side, lies Kate Beckett. Fast asleep, the detective is lying on her stomach with her head inclined slightly to the right, towards Alexis's father. Her hair falls in a sleek curtain across her face, and the sheets that cover her have fallen down beneath her shoulder blades and Alexis can see the thin straps of her tank top. She can also see how the detective's right arm is slung casually over her father's stomach where he sleeps peacefully next to her.

It's a strangely intimate picture. More so than all of the things she knows she could have walked in on, over the years. Despite her fifteen years, led as innocently as one can with Richard Castle as a father, she can also tell that it's not the first time this particular picture has occurred. There's a comfortable intimacy exuding from the formerly unlikely colleagues that Alexis can't quite place, but that she also knows is much more like something resembling love than tolerance.

Alexis knows better than anyone that her father has a side far softer than he lets most people see, and that it looks like Kate Beckett is no longer most people. She suspects the detective might have her own soft side too, if what she is seeing is anything to go by.

With that thought she quietly closes the door to and makes her way back downstairs. When Martha asks her if he was still awake, she tells her no. She doesn't tell her that he wasn't alone.

That's not her story to tell.

The second time Alexis finds them, they're laughing. She doesn't think she's ever really heard Kate Beckett laugh in the times she's met her, other than the time with the red dress and the eggs. Martha is away for the week, somewhere with sun darling, and Alexis has finals fast approaching. Venturing out of her room for a soda, she finds her father and the detective in her way.

Wrestling a bottle of beer out of her father's hand, Kate Beckett has one hip leant casually against the fridge, and Alexis halts on the stairs as she watches her father lean one arm against the fridge, easily invading her personal space as his other hand falls to her waist.

He says something Alexis can't quite hear and after a second's pause, she watches Kate hit him even as her laughter rings out again.

Alexis has seen them talking before, and she knows that she's seen them flirting before, but in the scene before her there's an easy kind of familiarity that she thinks can only come from the type of relationship she suspects she's watching develop before her.

The type of relationship that she finds herself happy to watch develop before her.

As Alexis finishes her descent down the stairs it's the detective who sees her first, and she smiles an almost shy greeting as she pushes away the hand that rests on her hip. At the change in position her father turns, his grin widening as he spots Alexis. Breaking away from Kate, he traps her in a playful headlock before hugging her tightly, lifting her feet off the floor as the detective looks on, a warm smile crossing her lips that Alexis suspects she's unaware of.

Neither of the adults look willing to confess to much, and when Alexis asks what they're doing they cobble together an answer about case files and Nikki Heat that doesn't really make sense, when she looks back.

Still, she leaves them to it to return to her revision with a smile and a wave of her soda can. As she walks up the stairs she hears Kate chide him with a soft, laughing exclamation of his surname, and she doesn't have to turn around to know that her father has been inappropriate. Again.

Not for the first time, she feels like the roles are reversed and she's more like the parent in their strangely dysfunctional relationship.

Only this time? The teenagers are in the kitchen, slowly falling in love.

The third and fourth times Alexis finds them are similar to the second. Both involve laughter, alcohol and a spark that Alexis doubts anyone could deny. Yet still, she hasn't heard from their own mouths that they're anything more than friends. The fifth time she finds them, while they're not really together in the strictest sense of the word, tells her more than any of the previous four times.

She's been shopping with some friends one Saturday, and when she lets herself into the apartment it's filled with an eerie quiet she wasn't expecting. She knows there's a big baseball game on, and she's used to the sound roaring from his expensive speakers to greet her.

From what little she's gathered from his unexpectedly frequent phone calls that morning, the latest case he has been shadowing is horrific. Still, her father is a seasoned crime writer and lover of the macabre, and even though he might hug her a little tighter than usual after a bad day, even the worst cases haven't seemed to get him down too much so she has been secretly looking forward to joining him for the second half of the game she doesn't really understand, no matter how many times he patiently explains the rules to her.

Instead, she finds her father sprawled on the sofa, and she can read the tension in his body even though he's face down and dead to the world. When she turns, she finds Kate Beckett perched on a stool in her kitchen, nursing a mug of coffee and looking like she's got the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Somehow, she's not surprised.

Alexis knows this wasn't the way they'd been planning for her to find out, and even if she hadn't she finds it written all over the detective's face. It's also clear to Alexis from the look in the older woman's eyes as she watches over him from her carefully selected position, that it's a relationship they will no longer be able to deny. When she eventually asks the confident, self-assured detective who she respects more than she lets on if she's okay, Alexis doesn't quite know how to react when Kate rubs a hand roughly across her eyes and doesn't respond.

I only meant to drop him off and make sure he went to bed, she finally tells Alexis quietly. We worked all night, and he took the case... horribly. I couldn't bring myself to leave him like that, so I...stayed.

This wasn't how we wanted you to find out, she adds when Alexis tells her not to go, and it's the detective's turn to not look surprised when Alexis tells her that she already knew. You're a smart girl, she says eventually, and Alexis feels proud that she's helped put a sliver of a smile on the detective's face when she eventually continues and offers a dryly phrased sometimes it makes me wonder whether he really is your father.

Pouring herself a glass of juice, she takes a seat next to her father's new girlfriend and as they silently keep watch over her father, she finds herself really starting to like the new woman in his life.

For the first time.

The sixth time Alexis finds them they're very much together, and openly so. It's also the first time she sees them kiss. It's like a weight has been lifted off her father's shoulders now that he doesn't have to reveal his relationship to his only daughter, and while she realises that makes her sound conceited, she also knows it's true.

The fact that he was so worried about it speaks volumes to her.

They're in the kitchen when Alexis gets home one evening, and the detective is sitting on the counter next to the stove, her gentle laughter ringing through the loft as her father shows off his cooking skills. Which are extraordinary, Alexis acknowledges with a smile, so she can't really blame him.

They're both dressed casually and Kate is barefoot as she sits on the counter, but she holds a half empty wineglass in her hand and the table boasts two carefully set places, so Alexis knows that it's a date. She also knows that her father never dates at home. Then again, she can't actually remember seeing him date someone who wasn't out for the fame and fortune, and she's also not naive enough to know that the detective won't be entirely comfortable with the media attention.

The combination of those facts makes the fact that her father never dates at home even more significant though. It means that Kate Beckett is important enough to break his rules for.

That said, as she watches Kate lean over to try and steal a taste of whatever her father's cooking, Alexis realises again that there's far more to the detective than the cool, aloof persona she exuded at first. She bites back a smile as they fight a little, her father eventually victorious as he dips a spoon into the sauce he's making and holds it to the detective's lips.

Kate leans forward to taste it with laughter in her eyes, and Alexis isn't surprised at the groan of appreciation she lets out. Her father's pasta sauce is to die for. What she is surprised at is the reaction it evokes in her father, as he leans forward to kiss her.

She doesn't have a lot of experience of being kissed and it's slightly disturbing that it's her dad she's watching, but as she watches Kate's hand come up to tangle in her father's hair Alexis thinks she's starting to realise what she's missing out on. What her teenage relationships have yet to materialise into.

The sauce is good, she hears Kate murmur eventually, laughing softly as she accepts one more kiss.

You taste better, her father responds smoothly, and at this point Alexis interrupts and tells him to tone down the cheese, before she starts to hear things she really doesn't need to be hearing.

She might have already decided that she's behind this relationship, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a line.

They both look up at her comment, and the confident detective blushes crimson within seconds. Alexis has already realised that she's incredibly private, so she suspects that she's probably still getting used to her father's openly affectionate side when it's just the two of them, let alone with company present.

Do you want to join us? Kate asks softly, her cheeks still flushed. Her words are warm and sincere, but she seems unaware of the significance of the simple question to Alexis. I think your father's overestimated my appetite, she adds with a laugh.

Get used to it, Alexis tells her with another smile, dodging her father's attempted ambush easily as she crosses the kitchen and removes a bottle of water from the fridge. She has already eaten and she tells them that, but what she doesn't tell them is that it's the offer itself that has well and truly cemented Kate in her good books, even though she was probably there already.

None of his dates have ever cared enough to invite his teenage daughter to join them for dinner, let alone this early in a relationship, yet his detective has just done exactly that without even thinking.

She watches her dad press a kiss against Kate's hair as she hops down off the counter, and the look on his face means Alexis suspects she won't have to clue either of them in on her revelation because she thinks he's had one of his own. And as she watches Kate snake both arms around his stomach as he murmurs something that only the detective can hear, she's struck by another realisation.

She's watching the start of something really good.

The seventh time Alexis sees them together is also the first time Richard Castle sees Kate Beckett interacting with his daughter.

Answering the door one evening, Alexis tells Kate (who she's somehow started to stop referring to as the detective in her head) that her father is writing, and they share a laugh when she adds that Kate can interrupt, but it's at her own risk. Despite the fact that she is by all accounts one of the best and most fearless detectives out there, Alexis finds herself liking her even more when it seems that the thought of interrupting her father when he's writing scares her just as much as the next person.

Telling her she's more than welcome to stay, Alexis goes to turn back to her secret, guilty pleasure, the marathon of trashy teenage drama which is filling her Friday night, but is halted in her tracks by Kate's equally guilt-ridden confession.

I love this show, she tells Alexis sheepishly.

Alexis finds herself turning and grinning, and before she knows it they're both seated in front of the TV, engrossed. She finds Kate Beckett, secret trashy TV watcher a million times more accessible than the slightly intimidating detective she's experienced before, and when the next commercial break starts with Kate asking how school is going and how things are with her boyfriend Alexis finds herself responding easily, the hesitance in the grown woman's questions making her realise that Kate is just as nervous as she is. That she wants them to get on just as much as Alexis does.

It also makes her realise that she's really starting to like her.

By the time they're well into the third hour of the marathon they've shared a bowl of popcorn, found out a few essential details about one another and are laughing at a particularly funny scene when her father finally emerges from his office, halting mid-stretch as he takes in the sight before him. Alexis shares a conspiratorial glance with Kate that makes her feel slightly warmer inside, and can't stop a grin crossing her face as her father leans over the back of the sofa, ruffling her hair as his arm snakes around his girlfriend's shoulders.

My two favourite ladies, he announces with a grin, pressing a kiss to her forehead before leaning over to kiss Kate. Alexis doesn't have to give a second thought to her answer when he goes on to ask Is there room for me in here?, and her lovingly delivered No! coincides perfectly with Kate's.

For his part, she notices that her father can't hide the happiness in his eyes, even as he slumps into the armchair opposite them, mission defeated.

She also knows that it's not lost on any of them that their collective relationship just turned a massive corner.

The eighth time Alexis sees them is the time the penny finally drops for Martha. Alexis is equal parts amused and surprised they've managed to keep it from her for so long, and nothing but amused that they 'choose' to reveal it to her in such spectacular style.

She's sitting in the kitchen enjoying a late supper and a typically dramatic dinner table conversation with her grandmother when her father and Kate practically stumble through the front door, decidedly less than sober. Alexis knows they have been out celebrating Kevin Ryan's birthday, and she has always suspected that when the detectives let their hair down for more than the ever more regular games of poker the results could be entertaining.

Nevertheless, she hasn't prepared herself for the true hilarity of the look on her grandmother's face when the couple come to a clumsy halt in the kitchen, Kate's giggled oops! being the only noise to break the silence as she grips hold of her lover's arm to steady herself. They start to laugh, a sure sign of the amount of alcohol they've consumed, and Alexis watches as her father practically throws his arms round his girlfriend. His jacket is draped around her shoulders, but she's wearing a shimmering emerald green dress that clings to every curve and heels that put her practically at her dad's height, and Alexis notices that she makes no effort to pull away from his embrace, instead leaning against him contentedly as she giggles.

Their laughter is infectious, and Alexis finds herself laughing along with them as they all notice her grandmother's horrified expression. How could I have missed this? Martha cries eventually, causing the three of them to laugh even harder.

Kate is the first to pull herself together. I'm sorry, she offers as her giggles subside. Alexis finds that she is suddenly the object of her father's drunken affections, trapped in a bear hug and only laughing harder as Kate, left to her own devices, offers a calm Hello, Martha, nice to see you, as if she hasn't touched a drop of alcohol all evening.

The fine detective simply cannot handle her cocktails, her dad announces gleefully, dropping his arms from around Alexis to pin his girlfriend's arms to her side as Kate darts at him with only slightly dampened reflexes.

They are too inebriated to answer her grandmother's questions with anything other than riddles and laughter, and as they retreat to the living room with a bottle of liquor and hands wandering to places that she really doesn't need to see, Alexis finds herself the sole subject of Martha's interrogation and thinks that Kate would actually be rather impressed by her tactics.

She avoids the questions about how she found out because she's already decided that's not her story to tell, and dodges the questions of when they got together because that's their secret.

And honestly, she doesn't know.

The ninth time Alexis finds them, she's coming home from a date. Well within her curfew, because no matter how much they joke about it she wouldn't dream of doing anything else. She says goodbye before opening the door, because she's experienced firsthand the fact that her father will be waiting up for her.

Still, she finds herself unable to quite wipe the smile from her face as she closes the door behind her, and she allows herself to lean against it for just a second. Opening her eyes, she finds herself grinning a little wider at the sight that greets her, partly because it is, for want of another word, adorable.

Mainly though, because she knows it also means that she's about to get away scot free.

Richard Castle, her confident, self-assured father, is sprawled diagonally across a corner of the couch. His laptop – the one he uses for writing – rests at his feet, and she can see the small orange light that flashes repeatedly and tells her it hasn't been used for a while. Tucked into his side, dark curtain of hair falling casually over her face, rests Kate Beckett, decidedly detective no more. She has one leg hooked comfortably across his lap, and Alexis can see her father's fingers anchored against her knee. Both have their eyes closed, and she can't quite tell if they're awake or not.

Eventually her father stirs, with the second sense she knows he always has when she's concerned. The excited grin that instantly crosses his face confirms to her that he probably wasn't asleep, but his movements simultaneously disturb the woman at his side who, judging by the way she jolts alert, definitely was sleeping. Alexis watches as her father's attention is drawn instantly away from the questions forming on his lips, his fingers rising to touch Kate's cheek lightly as she wakes. Kate is fairly quick to offer her a sleepy smile and a greeting once she takes in her surroundings, and Alexis shares a look of understanding with her as they both humour her father in his efforts to interrogate his daughter.

She leaves them before the questions can progress too far with a suggestion that they might want to try sleeping somewhere a little more comfortable she knows her father won't be able to counter. She finds herself smiling all the way up the stairs, and while she knows it's because her date really did go well, she knows she's also smiling because it makes her happy to see her dad like this.

Still, she finds herself coming back to the same point again and again as she climbs into bed, and it's possibly the most telling point of the evening. There's something new, something different every time she sees them together. Something a little more personal. Tonight in particular, that means it's getting serious.

Because her father doesn't write in front of anyone.


The tenth time Alexis sees them is the first time she really sees the darker side to this crime fighting world that her father has become so attached to.

She hears them come home, and when she glances at her clock it's considerably earlier than she's accustomed to. It's almost as if something in the atmosphere changes in the entire apartment, and she finds herself drawn downstairs with a funny feeling that something's wrong.

She can't help the gasp that slips from her lips when she sees them.

Kate sits on a stool in the kitchen, quietly protesting that she's fine even though her voice is shaking as she does so. It's clear to Alexis that she isn't, as the nasty looking cut on her face stands out an angry red against her otherwise porcelain skin. There's blood on Kate's shirt, and on her father's.

For his part, her father stands over Kate anxiously, fingers tipping her face into the light so he can study her injuries. Alexis knows he can be surprisingly gentle when he needs to be. Years of being both mom and dad have taught him that, and he's no stranger to dealing with injuries.

She can see that he's upset, though. She saw a similar look in his eyes every time she fell over as a child.

Two inches, Kate. He repeats his agitated statement more than once, and if Alexis couldn't read the mix of terror and sheer affection in his voice, she could almost mistake his tone for anger.

I know, Rick, comes Kate's shaky response, and Alexis wonders for a second why she finds it strange to hear Kate speak her father's first name before she spots the way that she has his arm in a death grip and forgets all about it. She can read fear a mile off, and it's radiating off them both.

Two inches, and it would've been your eye, Kate.

Alexis knows her father has said too much at precisely the same time that he does, as Kate drops her gaze to the floor and a shudder rips through her body. It's at this point that Alexis suspects the detective is in more pain than she's letting on, confirmed by the fact that she watches her father wipe what Alexis can only presume to be tears from Kate's cheeks. She's about to turn on her heel and leave them to their private moment when her father looks up and spots her. He tips his head slightly, telling her it's okay to come in.

Kate looks up too when she walks in, alerted to her presence by her father's movement, and when Alexis asks if she's okay, she does a brilliant job of removing all traces of fear from her voice as she assures her that she's just fine. It looks worse than it is, really, she adds, although her fingers keep their grip on her father's arm strong.

While Alexis makes tea for them all, because her father is awful at it and she knows that a cup of tea solves just about everything, she talks to her dad about her day at school, her grandmother's latest antics and anything else insignificant that they can both bring to mind. They're well in tune, the pair of them. They've had enough practice. When she stands a steaming mug in front of Kate she receives a grateful smile, and she feels glad that she could help in some way, even if all she did was create a diversion so Kate had some time to pull herself together.

Alexis starts to feel like she's intruding when her father turns his attention back to his girlfriend so she makes a relatively swift exit, and as she crawls into bed she finds that this time she can't be grateful that her father escaped yet another dangerous crime scene relatively unscathed.

Because somehow, she's started to think of Kate as something close to family, and she's not okay.

The eleventh time Alexis sees them is the next morning. Kate's job involves a lot of very early morning and even late night starts, and the only other times their paths have crossed in the mornings have involved hurried breakfasts, usually stolen from her father's hand and replaced with quick kisses. It's a Saturday, but even that doesn't usually make a difference. Murderers don't tend to stick to a 9 - 5 schedule, she's learnt.

This morning is different, though.

As she walks downstairs, Alexis can hear two voices. She can also tell that her father is fussing over his girlfriend, just like he does when she gets ill, and she tells them both just this in way of a greeting as she walks into the kitchen.

It surprises her to find that she's not jealous of Kate, like she has been of every other girlfriend who's managed to stay around long enough to make an appearance in the mornings.

That said, Kate still has a nasty looking cut above her eye, and in the morning light Alexis can see a smattering of bruises marring her pale skin, and a wrist that is painfully swollen, so there's probably not a lot to be jealous about at this moment in time.

It's clear from the look on Kate's face that she's not used to this kind of attention. It's also clear to Alexis that her father just doesn't care.

Kate looks uncomfortable but she doesn't actually look upset, so Alexis takes a seat at the counter and picks up part of the paper. She glances up in time to watch her father rest a heated pad underneath Kate's wrist, before standing behind her and just wrapping his arms around her tiny frame. He turns his attention to Alexis, with a cheerful Morning, pumpkin, like it isn't even remotely strange that he has his arms around his battered and bruised girlfriend while they talk.

Have you tasted dad's pancakes yet, Kate? she asks eventually, throwing a meaningful glance towards the stove. Her father sighs, presses a kiss to Kate's temple and loosens his hold on his girlfriend, asking her if she's hungry.

I could eat, she tells him quietly, her fingers fiddling absently with a button on the shirt she wears that Alexis knows is her father's. For his part he moves towards the stove and starts to pull down pans as Alexis assembles the ingredients on the counter.

Don't fuss, she tells him quietly as she passes him the eggs, and fixes him with a look until he nods in quiet resignation, before flashing her a grin.

I am the pancake master, he announces proudly, frying pan brandished. Are you sure you're ready for this? His humorous attempt seems to work, and Alexis notices that Kate brightens slightly, seemingly reassured by the familiarity of the scene in front of her and the relative solitude it offers her as she pulls a section of the paper towards her.

When she sees them hugging later that morning, after they've all consumed their share of his admittedly delicious pancakes and Kate's good arm is snaked as tightly around his neck as she can manage, Alexis knows for sure that she made the right decision.

Pancakes might not have solved everything, but they certainly seemed to have helped.

The twelfth time Alexis sees them, she barely makes it into the kitchen before she bursts into tears. She knows she's interrupting a rare moment of calm between her father and his girlfriend from the way that Kate's head is resting against his shoulder and their fingers are tangled loosely on the counter, but her dad is up and moving and she needs him and as soon as she's in his arms, she just doesn't care.

He knows her better than anyone, and he manages to coax the story of her break up out of her between sobs in the way that only he can. She loses track of Kate for a while, because all she wants is her dad. He's there for everything, and he knows her.

When Alexis eventually manages to get a hold of her emotions he steps away a little, and she feels him wipe the tears from her cheeks before she's slamming back into his arms. She hears him chuckle, and somehow it instantly makes her feel better so she clings onto him a little tighter. When she remembers Kate's presence she feels a little silly, but there's no judgement in the detective's eyes as Alexis peeks out of her father's arms.

She's still sitting exactly where her father left her, head tilted slightly as she quietly watches the scene before her. Alexis steps out of her father's arms slightly, wiping her eyes roughly with the sleeve of her sweater. One look up at his face though, and she's off again.

He's her dad, he's not meant to look that upset.

He tries to tighten his hold on her again but Alexis pulls away, slumping over the counter as she cries, the look on his face one thing too much for her. After a moment, and just as her father launches into one of his speeches about how no boy is ever good enough for his daughter, she feels hands settle gently against her shoulders. She knows the touch is too light to belong to her father. Kate's voice is calm and soothing when she speaks, and she rubs gentle circles on Alexis's shoulders while she persuades her father to go out for her favourite takeout. Comfort food, she tells him seriously. And you better come back with ice cream too. The good stuff.

He protests, and Alexis can hear the waver in his voice that she knows is only ever there when it's her.

She feels a hand lift off one of her shoulders, and looks up just in time to see Kate reach out and wipe a tear from below her dad's eye with her thumb. It's an incredibly intimate gesture, and even through her tears, Alexis feels like she shouldn't be watching. Kate's fingers ease back against her shoulders a second later, and Alexis drops her head back against the cool counter and lets her take control, listening as she bickers gently with her father until she's shooing him out of the door, all the while keeping up the gentle rhythm of her fingers against Alexis's shoulders.

As the door closes behind her dad, the atmosphere feels visibly calmer, and as Alexis raises her head to look at Kate, her father's girlfriend simply smiles, gives her shoulders one more squeeze, then retreats back to her original seat.

Alexis can't quite put her finger on the point where her father and Kate became a team. But somehow, she seems to know exactly what Alexis needs.

They sit in comfortable silence for what feels like hours, while Alexis unscrambles the thoughts and the anger and the just plain hurt in her head and Kate quietly reads the magazine in front of her. The takeout place is only round the corner though, and something tells Alexis that this might be her chance to get the honest answers that she suspects are a million miles away from the fairytales her writer father weaves for her.

Does it always hurt this bad? Alexis finds herself asking eventually, her voice soft and hoarse with tears. Kate thinks about it for a while, sighing as she flashes her a sympathetic smile and passes her a glass of water. Do you want the honest answer? she questions eventually, fixing Alexis with a surprisingly understanding gaze.

That's a yes, then, Alexis guesses, sighing as she drops her head against her hands again.

I think it's meant to hurt, Kate continues eventually, surprising Alexis. That means you're feeling something in the first place. Don't tell him, but your dad is right about one thing, she adds with a soft chuckle, when he says that you will find someone who's worth risking the fact that you might feel like this for. I didn't think I would, she finishes, and the implication in her words is clear to Alexis, listening raptly.

How do you know? she can't help but ask, and she knows it's perfectly clear in her voice that she's not talking generally. When she responds, Kate's words are clear, and spoken without hesitation.

In general? I don't know, Alexis. I just know that... the way I feel about your dad? I've never felt that way about anyone before. Neither of them have heard the front door open, but when Kate's eyes jolt up to the doorway, Alexis knows her father is there, and that this is probably a conversation they haven't had with each other yet.

And somehow, the way they stand looking at one another gives her just a little bit more faith in this thing they call love.

She goes into her father's room that night to say thank you to them both, and somehow she finds herself coming full circle, face to face with her father and the woman she now knows that he loves, fast asleep in one another's arms. There's one difference though.

The first time she saw them, asleep in this very same bed, it seemed like Kate was lying in her father's arms. This time though, the detective lies on her back whilst her father is sprawled diagonally across the bed on his stomach, head resting against Kate's stomach. Alexis can see that the fingers of her right hand are tangled in his hair, but that her father has her left hand in an almost death grip, even in his sleep.

This time, the roles are definitely reversed. And Alexis knows for sure.

They really are a team.

Alexis sees the dedication in his latest book somewhere around the thirtieth time she sees them together, although she reflects that by this point, she's really stopped counting.

She also sees the look on Kate Beckett's face when she sees the dedication for the first time, and isn't blind to the agony on her father's face as he watches the woman he loves trace the words with her finger before flashing him one of the most brilliant smiles Alexis has ever seen.

She knows they're in it for the long haul by now, her father and Kate, and she knows that it's not the first book her father has dedicated to the detective. That said, Alexis also knows how incredible it feels to have a book dedicated to her because he loves her, so she knows that this is probably one of the defining moments of the relationship she is watching develop.

This particular dedication is nothing less than subtle. Entirely befitting of the relationship it seeks to define. Expressed concisely in two words and six letters, Alexis thinks it probably means more to Kate than three words and eight letters ever will.

The dedication? It's simple.

To Kate.