Brick by Brick
[Original] Author's Note: I know 4x01, Rise, just aired, but this fic shouldn't have any spoilers for season four since it primarily takes place in this season-one-to-season-two timezone. As the summary suggests, it's an AU wherein Kate has a daughter, and this chapter serves to lead everyone into the !verse so that we can get this party started. Please tell me your thoughts on this, good and bad. I'm self-editing, so if you notice something, let me know! Enjoy!
[Additional] Author's Note - December 2014: Hey all, if you're reading this, thanks first of all because this has been sitting online for years now without any real progress, so the fact that people still click on it is amazing and flattering and honestly helped remind me that I really enjoyed writing this fic and fully intend on writing it further. That being said, I am revising this fic and working on it now. I'm not going to take down the old drafts because the changes aren't that extensive, and I can make them into the fic as I see fit. The biggest change at this point is that I changed Kate's daughter's name. As you'll read below, she used to be named Aimee (don't worry, the name's not gone entirely) but now she's Harper Grace Beckett. She's referred to as a combination of both Harper and Gracie, though the latter was never Kate's intention. For more on that and other changes to Brick by Brick before they all move over to here, feel free to go to my writing tumblr and search [brick by brick updates].
Chapter One / circa 2005
His eyes were welded shut, tight so that she couldn't spot even a sliver of his doubt. She had enough of her own. It doubled every second they waited in the near silent back room of the restaurant. She didn't doubt him – never – only herself.
She wasn't a good enough shot. She didn't have enough training. She never paid enough attention. She paid too much to him and not to what was actually happening in the real world. She had her head up her ass looking for some light and only getting caught in the never-ending shit that the world had to offer. Shit in the form of cases that went unsolved, criminals that lived unpunished, love that remained unrequited. Shit. Shit. Shit.
She needed to stop thinking. Just stop!
Her eyes zeroed in on the wild, brown eyes across from her. A spark of emotion flashed through them as Hatchinson pushed the .45 further. Shit. Shit.
She pulled the trigger and waited.
When Kate was a child, she added her own twist to every game that she played. She played Monopoly where a person had to spell a difficult word before buying any property. She forced her Barbies to abide by real time and refused to use the Barbie yacht if it wasn't summer. She used odd and even numbers for 'He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not'. She still did that actually. Her current count was up to seventeen.
Her mind focused on the counting while her eyes remained trained on the wooden door before her. She rocked slightly on the pads of her feet, pressing into her toes to pitch closer to the door. On every odd number, she bit down on the right side of her bottom lip. She felt restless, insatiable, and uncertain. She needed the door open. She needed him.
"God. Open the door," she grumbled. Her voice sounded hoarse. Odd since she spent the majority of the day silent. What did she really have to say? Thank you. Sorry. I can't believe you did that. I still love you. Shit.
The count reached thirty-nine when the doorknob turned. Kate tried to remember the old rules of the game. Did she count the one she just finished, or the one about to begin? She shook off the thought. She had to focus.
He froze at the sight of her. His right hand lingered on the knob, out of view, but she knew it was tense. She hated that he did that. He locked himself into this box that was meant to be indestructible. To protect his heart, she told herself. 'To protect her' was his typical excuse. All the guardedness truly did was make Kate push harder.
"Kid?" Royce said. Kate resisted the urge to nod. Something about that action made her feel like she accepted the name. She wasn't a kid. She was a cop. She was a cop who got a little caught up that day, but could have done her job just fine without him. She didn't need him, to save her at least. Well, on the job.
"You didn't have to stop me," Kate said.
Royce's lips quirked downward. Though, it seemed to be more out of resignation than sadness. He stepped back and held open the door to invite her in. She stepped through without outward pause. He shut the door behind her and leaned against it. The action made him seem older and more tired. He spoke next as if they had this argument before, which they sort of had.
"I have to protect you."
Kate shook her head. "I don't want you to protect me. I want…. You know what I want, Mike."
He did. She saw it in his eyes and heard it in the sigh he released. He ran his fingers along the scruff on his chin. He weighed his words like that. What words was he searching for?
"Kate," she corrected. "Or Beckett. I'm on my way to being one of the best; I'm not a kid."
Royce told her, "You are to me."
"Bullshit." His eyes widened slightly. She repeated it again and added, "You don't look at a kid the way you look at me. I've seen you. I wonder all the time. When we're together, there's this pull, like gravity pounding down during a hurricane. It's strong, so stinking strong, and I'm sick of trying to fight it. I'm sick of pretending, Mike. Aren't you?"
He looked away and said, "Stop."
She couldn't. "Today, what you did was dumb. You put yourself further out than you would ever have done if it weren't me with you. You risked your life for me, then nearly got yourself killed so that I wouldn't have that asshole's blood on my hands. But you won't even admit to feeling something for me? I know you do, Royce. I know it!"
"Damnit, Kate, I said stop!" Royce's fist slammed back into the door as he was catapulted off of it. The deep-set frown he wore during tough times emerged. His eyes fumed, radiating a frustration too strong to be just focused on her. He was frustrated with himself. For what? Letting her into his apartment? Listening to her talk? Loving her? Gosh, she hoped so.
Kate stepped forward tentatively, counting each labored breath he took. He loved her. He loved her not. He loved her. He loved her not. "No," she said. She stepped in again and claimed his lips for her own. He didn't miss a beat.
It was her fault. She shouldn't have pushed him. She should have waited until he was ready. She should have just done her job. She should have never been put in this position. Kate leaned against the off-white wall of the precinct bathroom. She needed a moment to herself. Everyone was suffocating out there. Karpowski, the captain, Esposito – everyone – congratulated her on making detective. Everyone except, of course, Royce.
Royce had been gone since the moment Kate first told him about the rumored promotion. She said she was going to take it if it came,; it put her one step closer to catching her mother's killer. He told her she should take it and he said nothing else. That was the day after their night together. Their crazy, unprofessional, completely amazing night together. Him avoiding her was her fault too. She shouldn't have told him. But she did and he was gone.
She sighed. The soft sound echoed through the confined space. It ebbed and flowed the way her emotions did. Happiness battled with despair. Heartache definitely worked as a better buzz kill than coffee and water ever could. She should have told Maddie. Actually, she did.
She plucked her phone from her pocket, scrolling through her contacts to find her old best friend. She hit the green call button. The ringing calmed her more than sighing. It was persistent and couldn't be misinterpreted for the noises she made in the bedroom.
Kate grinned at the voice. "Hey, Maddie. It's Becks." The nickname felt a little sour on her tongue. She hadn't been called that in a while. Esposito had tried once, but she had threatened to sock him if he tried again.
"Becks!" Maddie sounded delighted to hear from Kate. She went on, "Calling because it's the fourth fourth?"
Kate blanked momentarily. Fourth four-oh! She laughed as memories of Maddie, herself, and the rest of their group huddled in the bathroom fled into her mind.
"No, but I am in a bathroom," Kate supplied. Maddie cracked up at that.
"You're halfway there then! I still do it, every time. It's just a great way to say, I'm having sex and I'm keeping Walgreen's in business," Maddie said.
Kate rolled her eyes. Going into the drug store every four months and buying a handful of pregnancy tests would hardly keep the store open. It just made the unlucky girl of the month look the part of the college party girls they used to be.
"I'm sure you have to, every time. You couldn't go four months without sex," Kate said.
"And you're saying you have?" teased Maddie.
Images of the night with Royce weeks before crept forward in Kate's mind. "I didn't, not this time at least."
"Ooh, with who?" Maddie asked.
"No one important," Kate lied. Or perhaps it was hopeful thinking. That's what Royce should have been. He was her training officer and her friend, not the love of her life. No matter how bad she wanted him to be.
"You should take a test. Join me. We can do it over the phone."
"You want to hear me piss?"
"No, God, Becks, I just want you to relive the good old days a bit. Just get a test and text me your shining answer, okay?"
Kate could just picture Maddie on the other side, sitting at her desk and pouting at the phone. Kate sighed again.
"Fine," she agreed. Maddie squealed and hung up soon after.
Kate pushed off the wall to head towards the break room. The last case the team had solved involved a teen whose alibi was that she was at home taking pregnancy tests. Since all evidence had been thrown away to hide from her parents, Ryan had been sent to buy a test to check and see if the girl was lying about being pregnant. He'd come back with about a dozen, stating any extras could be used by the lovely women of the Twelfth whenever. Kate planned to take him up on that offer, secretly.
She walked to the coffee machine and started it up. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was around before reaching to the small stack of boxes beside the sugar container. She removed the stick from the top most box and slid it into her pocket. She all but sprinted back to the women's restroom.
The next three minutes carried on forever. The only moment that didn't clench her heart with the fist of holyshitwhatifitsnotnegative was when a text from Maddie popped up in her inbox.
NEGATIVE :) –MADS
Kate gave herself a moment to be grateful. Maddie was nowhere near ready to raise a child. Maddie still had the hardest time deciding between fish or beef at weddings.
YOU? – MADS
Kate's attention went back to the stick on the top of the toilet. The shining plastic taunted her like the forever gleeful white of a clown mask. The spot where the words would appear was the smile, promising to tell all sorts of secrets if ever it actually felt the drive to. Kate had nothing against clowns. She just hated waiting. A lot.
Another text came in. BECKS?
The woman in question didn't notice that one as the lips of the monster opened to let out the line to change her life. She felt that hurricane slam into her again, only this time gravity had no say in anything. It tossed her into the stall wall where the box for sanitary napkins jostled in collateral damage. It lifted her back into the door and the hand pressed tightly to her lips did nothing to stop the water from sweeping down her face. She needed a raft in that moment. Where was the shining beacon of yellow light or the orange raft? All she could see was pink.
"Mr. Xennyl, we know that you lied to us about where you were last weekend. Either start telling me the truth, or be prepared to tell the guys after a few nights in lock-up."
Kate hated guys Xennyl. He leered at her with his beady eyes, tracing the slopes of her body. She could feel it. It made her stomach churn. Then again, that also was the result of her newfound sensitivity to the smells of onions and select spices. Xennyl had the Mex-again Chili Dog at the stand on Twenty-Third. She could smell it. Their last investigation had left her more than a little queasy, but this one had her pushing a little harder than normal just so that she did not wind up splattering their suspect with the breakfast she had actually eaten that morning.
Kate had to admit that she was proud of herself. Her eating habits had improved since finding out that she was pregnant. She ate three times a day, every day. She had to thank Esposito for lunches. He kicked her out every day and told her she couldn't get back anywhere near the murder board if she didn't have proof of a lunch in her system. He had a good heart, even if he was a pain in the ass. Their suspect, on the other hand, was just a pain in the ass.
"I ain't going to lock-up. I also ain't telling you nothing," Xennyl said.
She turned on her heels, chancing a glance into the mirror to where Ryan and Esposito were watching the interrogation. Xennyl whistled from the other side of the table lowly. His eyes stopped on her. She couldn't tell if he was looking at her chest or her stomach. Either way her gut churned because of something other than his horrible breath for a moment.
"You can stall all you want, but it won't change the fact that you murdered Heather," Kate said.
Xennyl shook his head. "I told you I didn't do that."
"Then where were you the night she was killed?" Kate asked.
"Wouldn't you like to know, Mom," Xennyl said with a lean closer to her. On the final word, she got the whiff she needed to send her gag reflex into overdrive. Kate stumbled back and grabbed hold of the small, metal trashcan beside the table. She emptied her lunch quickly enough and held onto the bucket to wait for the swaying to subside.
Damnit. Of all the days and times for the stupid hyperactive pregnancy senses, it had to be that one. Honestly, did this kid hate her already? Was he or she trying to torture her? Damnit. Xennyl looked oddly pleased for being a few seconds away from tasting regurgitated poptarts. Wouldn't that have been something?
Kate's voice didn't waver when she spoke again, a feat that surprised all of them. "My basic sense of human decency has my face in this bucket, but next time you might not be so lucky."
Xennyl looked up into the mirror and asked, "Can I have someone other than Mommy-Pukes-a-Lot do the interrogation? As fun as she is to look at, the smell is-"
Kate slammed the bucket down so close to Xennyl's hand that the man retracted the appendage to under the table. As she leaned menacingly into his personal space, Kate did her best not to breathe in too deeply through her nose. Her angry, flaring nostrils helped with that. She practically snarled at him.
"Make one more comment about me being pregnant and I'll take your scrawny, little right hand and pretend I'm having contractions."
Xennyl's other hand made its way under the table at that.
"That's police brutality, you know? You're gonna be sorry," Xennyl warned.
Esposito knocked on the door to the interrogation room. She whipped to face him. She was ready to gibe him for interrupting, until she saw the file he waved in his hand. Kate turned her attention back to Onion Breath.
"Not as sorry as you're going to be. Excuse me."
She met up with Esposito with her hand outstretched. He dropped the file in her hand with a smug grin on his face. She pushed the interrogation room door closed behind her. Once shut, Esposito started talking.
He said, "Check it, girl, I got it. It took me a while, but finally my guy came through."
Kate opened the manila file folder curiously. The only thing inside was a short slip of paper where she recognized Esposito's frenzied handwriting.
"What is this?" she asked him.
"An address," he answered. She glanced back down at the paper as her own request from two months earlier replayed in her ears.
Even though Kate knew the answer, she asked, "What for?"
Her guys were efficient. She had to hand that to them. If she told them to do something, they got it done. They hunted down guys who disappeared to apparently the other side of the country because she wanted them to, no questions asked. She almost wished they did ask questions. About everything. They just looked at her. Esposito hid it better than Ryan normally. Except for then; he just sort of stared at her as if waiting for her to either fall apart or hug him. Kate Beckett did not fall apart so she got angry.
"You interrupted me for that?"
Esposito's chest puffed up slightly. "You told me to tell you the second I located your boy."
"I didn't mean it literally," she snapped. Esposito's jaw tightened. Great, that made him angry. Damnit. He was just being helpful, following her orders. She needed to get a reign on her emotions before she wound up on forced maternity leave six months early. She amended her statement with "But, um, thanks."
Esposito brushed her off. Casually, he said, "Anytime. I mean that, you know. Ryan too. We've got your back."
Kate glanced over her shoulder to the viewing room. She could just imagine Ryan on the other side, watching their suspect sit in the interrogation room alone. She grinned.
"You're welcome, Becks. Now go get that guy. I'm sure a few minutes with your puke has made him a bit more willing to get out of there."
She bumped him with her shoulder, mumbling, "Shut up. I'm pregnant."
Esposito nodded, his brown eyes bright with thinly veiled excitement.
Sometimes, she swore he was more excited than she was.
Kate dreamed about Royce, the night she learned her baby was a girl. She dreamed that she was lying in the hospital bed, a baby in her arms with eyes all her own. She glanced up and there he was, leaning against the doorframe with one thousand apologies on his lips. She didn't hear a single one. She just held out their daughter to his hesitant arms. And he said, "You're beautiful, kid." Kate figured he meant it for both of them.
The image changed, morphing into a day at the park. The little girl was older and had hair down her back. She tossed her head back in laughter as Royce spun her around in circles. She rushed to Kate when he let her go and wrapped her arms around Kate's neck. Johanna's ring was gone, locked away in a chest of other things Kate had gotten over. As Kate realized that, the world melted again. A warped, darker reality came into play.
Royce was at the address Esposito found with some new lovestruck uniform with a less tragic motivation. Their daughter just cried and cried and nothing Kate did could stop her. Kate wasn't enough. Kate ruined her. And Johanna's ring felt heavier than ever before. Like the heart of the ocean in Titanic, or an anchor that somehow brought her into the sea in the first place. That ring was the reason she was in the hurricane. It was the reason this baby – this little girl – existed. It would kill her.
Kate awoke to a kick, an assurance, but very little hope.
"How many lines are we crossing right now?" Esposito asked loudly over the screams. He flexed his hand and grimaced as more pain shot through it. "Give me a number 'cause I'm pretty sure it's in the thousands."
Kate twisted her neck to get a good view of him from the hospital bed. He had a smirk on his face that told her he was just messing with her. His eyes were serious though. Of course they were; she was in labor and he was by her side trying to be the cocky and resourceful detective/friend that he prided himself on being.
"Shut up, Esposito. You can leave any time," Kate grumbled.
Esposito's smirk fell at her statement. He reached over with the hand not in her grip and pointed at her seriously.
"I wouldn't leave even if you fired me," he told her. She grinned lightly. He added, "Especially if you fired me because then I wouldn't be thinking about sitting at work tomorrow like 'hey, saw my boss have a baby. What'd you do last night?'"
Kate laughed before another contraction started. He winced as her grip on his hand tightened. As the contraction eased, Kate tried to focus on his statement.
She said, "I'm serious, Espo. If you want to go, you can. You shouldn't have to be here. Not that I'm not grateful, but-"
Espo cut her off with an understanding nod. "But I'm not Royce." Kate's eyes widened. How did he – when did he – did everyone – what? Esposito shrugged and said, "I'm almost a detective too. I'm good at figuring stuff out."
Kate didn't know what to say. She had spent the majority of the pregnancy refusing to let anyone know who the father was. Montgomery didn't even know. Unless, he pieced it together like Esposito. Shit. Had he? Did her captain know about her ridiculous feelings for her training officer? Did he know everything?
The next contraction ripped her out of her thoughts. Through her own screams and the blood rushing through her ears, she heard Esposito, who somehow was still talking.
"I think you keep forgetting that I choose to be here. I'm not getting my hand crushed just for kicks and giggles. And I know I don't have any right to be saying it, but I'm your friend and I'm here for the little squirt whenever. And you too," he said.
The pain subsided to make way for something heavy sitting on her heart. It felt too much like safety and family for her to breathe. Her mom had been gone for six years at that point. Her dad was making his way back, both figuratively and literally as his AA buddies steered their fishing boat back towards home. Her baby was tearing apart her insides to get to her. One of her best friends was there to help her through it, all of it. How did Kate say that it meant the world to her?
She whispered, "Thanks, Espo."
She had never felt so alone in her own home before. A thick beam of light shone into the apartment from the open doorway to the hall. It bathed the couch that had a dent on the right cushion from the number of times she had fallen asleep there since moving in. It washed over the carpet, which felt cool even through the shoes and socks on her feet. It didn't quite reach the bedroom and neither did she.
Kate pushed the door closed and flipped the closest light switch. The entryway lit up, making the place seem a bit more alive. She took in the place, still a bit off balance from her rushing out when she went into labor a few days before. It was real. The last few days were real. She looked down at the little bundle in her arms. Yeah, they were.
She toed off her shoes in her usual spot. She kept her jacket on, but mostly just so that she wouldn't wake up her daughter. Her daughter. Gosh, it felt weird to think it. A good weird. A calming one. She felt different almost, as if something about her had changed since Esposito slammed the apartment door behind them. She knew the only real differences were physical. There wasn't a baby in her stomach. She was lactating. Her body was filled with all sorts of hormones. She was a little lighter, a little sorer, and a lot more tired. Somehow those didn't encompass how she felt.
She tried talking it out.
"Hey, baby girl, this is home. I know it's not much, but I've been here since I left NYU. We've got one bedroom, but we don't really have to think about that for a few years. It's not too baby friendly, but you can't get anywhere anyway. You're tiny. So tiny…."
Kate trailed off as she reached the bedroom finally. She pushed open the door and spotted the crib right next to her bed. She ignored it, taking a seat on hers. She scooted up towards the headrest. What did she do now?
Esposito had told her to call if she needed anything. She didn't want to need anything. She did though. She needed Royce. She needed to know that she wasn't screwing up this little girl's life. It was easy to mess a kid up. She wasn't her mother. She didn't just know how to do it. She was floundering, and it wasn't even the end of week one of motherhood.
Kate sighed. She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a slip of paper. She didn't have to look at it, but she did that too. (925) 555 7621, it read. Royce's new number. She had it memorized. She remembered it pretty simply. Nine, the number of months since last she saw him. Two, the number of days she spent just staring at it after Esposito dropped it off. Five, the number of times she had typed it in and never even made the call. Seven, the number of times they went out for drinks after work. Six, how many years since her mother's death. Two again, how many times they…. One, one more try.
She hit send before she could talk herself out of it. She pressed her cell phone to her ear and just listened. First to the silence and then to the ringing. It rang like the pounding of rain outside the window she knew would crash in soon. Each beat between she expected to hear the dead silence of a call ignored. She wished for it. Wanted him to turn his back on her completely because that would have to be easier to take a second time. The ringing stopped. She heard his voice.
"Hey." It was as gruff as she remembered it. Warm and inviting. She opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her to it. "You've reached Mike Royce. I'm busy right now so leave a message. I'm sorry I couldn't catch you, kid."
The automated voice came on, informing her that it was time to leave a message. Should she? If she did that, she would be leaving it up to him. Waiting for him again. Always waiting. She hated that fact almost as much as the knowledge that she would, wait that is. She had to say something.
"Um, izvinite slishkom. Pravil'nyi nomer, ne vovremya. Ya skuchayu po tebe. Stol'ko. Stol'ko."
She clicked off the phone and tossed it away from her. Why was she such an idiot? Who the fuck left messages in Russian? He would know it was her. He would know and then he would call her. Or not call her. Which was worse? She didn't even know. And she said that she was sorry! She had no reason to be sorry. He had just as much of a part in that night as she did. He ran off. He was the kid, the child out of the two of them. Not her.
So why was she the one staring at the phone and willing for the screen to light up?
She tossed her cell away with a grunt. The bed shook and her body went with it, jostling the baby and eliciting a sharp cry from the young one. Kate pulled her in closer and rocked her.
"Shit," she cursed. She sighed. "I shouldn't say that around you. God, I'm sorry to you too. Stop crying. Please stop. Everything's going to be okay. It will. I promise. Mo…Mommy promises, Aimee. I promise."
I used Google Translate for the Royce message. It's just straight to Russian and she says, "Um, sorry too. Right number, wrong time. I miss you. So much. So much."
I hope you guys liked it. Share your thoughts please. I'm very nervous about this. Child AU is a category sort of run by amazing authors and I'm a bit unsure about how well this will be received. So... what do you guys think? Are you even alive after "Rise"? (I'm not really. This is my ghost posting this.)