Disclaimer: This may have been born mostly out of my sudden obsession with Seamus Dever. Wherever it came from though, I still don't the rights.

A/n: This plot bunny randomly cropped up out of nowhere, and though I pushed it away repeatedly, feeling crazy, it would not leave. I figure since I've written several unlikely (and unlike me) pairings out of the blue lately, then what's one more semi-insane pairing?

Lucky Stars

Even though Castle had been going on for weeks now about Alexis coming home from college, somehow Ryan was still not prepared for it when she walked into the precinct that day. Or rather, he was not prepared for his reaction to seeing her.

Ryan had always thought Alexis was a pretty girl, with her bright blue eyes and long red hair, but she'd always been just that: a girl. Castle's daughter, a young kid, a teenager, a girl making her way through high school. She was a nice kid, bright and sweet and earnest. But she was a kid, and no thoughts to the contrary had ever crossed his mind – before now, that is.

When she came striding around the corner with her father, Ryan's heart nearly stopped. He hadn't seen her in a couple years at least, as she was attending college abroad and only came home to her family for the holidays. This was not a little girl, this was a 20-something woman, who was stunning.

He reigned himself in at once. If Castle saw the way Ryan's jaw had fallen open at the sight of his daughter, he chose to ignore it for the moment. Ryan caught his breath and plastered a big smile on his face as the pair reached Ryan's desk.

"Hey!" he greeted, standing. Esposito did the same behind him. "Good to see you!"

Castle was beaming as Alexis leaned forward and gave Esposito a quick hug. Ryan thought it would probably better if he didn't hug Alexis, given the way his imagination was already in overdrive, so he stuck out his hand to shake hers. Of course, she had just hugged Esposito and was turning to hug him too, so he nearly jabbed her in the gut. Then there was an incredibly awkward moment where she pulled back to shake his hand and he, realizing she'd been going to hug anyways, moved to hug her back. They laughed and she hugged him anyways.

Ryan ended the embrace a bit quickly because the way she smelled was sufficiently intoxicating, and Esposito shot him a questioning, narrowed-eyed look which Ryan pointedly ignored. Beckett approached the group just then anyways, saving him from having to make awkward conversation. Ryan further thanked his lucky stars when the phone on his desk began to ring.

"Sorry," he said and sat back down at his desk to answer the phone.

"How are you doing, man?" Esposito asked, taking a swig of his beer.

Ryan picked idly at the label on his bottle and answered, "Fine."

"It's okay if you're not, you know. I mean, six months to the day after Jenny left you – "

"I said I'm fine."

Ryan was looking over some files when he rounded the corner and nearly crashed headlong into Alexis.

"Oh!" she exclaimed. "Detective Ryan!"

"Sorry," he apologized hastily and bent down to scoop up the papers he'd dropped. She squatted in front of him to help. He asked, "Er, looking for your dad?"

"No," she laughed. "I'm just going for a coffee break."

He looked up surprised.

"I just started today," she supplied. When he was still staring blankly, she added, "My summer job? Didn't dad or Kate mention it?"

They hadn't, he was sure. Or maybe they had and he hadn't been listening. It was possible, as he'd sort of gotten into the habit of tuning out whenever Castle started talking about Alexis again. He was having trouble enough as it was not thinking about how gorgeous she'd been that day she'd come home from college, he didn't need her name coming up in conversation and sparking his imagination all over again.

"Oh, right!" he lied. "Of course! I just, uh, just have a lot going on with this case, you know."

She handed him the last of his papers with a wide smile. "No problem. See you around!"

His head turned of its own accord to watch her walk away. He snapped his attention back to the files with a forcible jolt and continued on to his desk.

No lucky stars today, he thought grimly, and wondered how he was going to survive a whole summer at work seeing Alexis every day.

By the end of the month, Ryan was convinced he had done something to seriously piss off his lucky stars (or Beckett). Alexis' summer job was mostly as an admin assistant, though she was also shadowing some of the detectives and interning in the various departments. Beckett often assigned her to help with case paperwork, and usually chose Ryan to teach her the variety of processes or asked him if he minded staying behind to lend Alexis a hand with projects.

"No, of course," he would smile. "Not a problem."

Esposito would clap him on the back and say things like, "Thanks bro" or "I'll stay next time", even though he hardly ever did. Castle wouldn't even give him a second glance, knowing his daughter was capable and safe in Ryan's hands.

Ryan wasn't so sure.

Another night at the bar where he and Esposito were relaxing with a couple beers, and yet another time when Ryan was being unusually quiet. This didn't go unnoticed by his friend and partner.

"You know you can tell me anything." He said.

Ryan swallowed and thought, Not this.

"Is it Jenny again?"

It was easier to just nod and listen to Esposito launch into all the reasons why Ryan should, after eight months, be long over her. Ryan meanwhile, had returned to his silent mantra: She's Castle's daughter, she's too young, she is off limits. She's Castle's daughter, she's too young…

They were seated side by side at a table in one of the side rooms, working on a couple of old cases together. She was chatting happily and he was struggling to stay focused. Her proximity was killing him, much as it had all summer, but today was especially difficult because today she looked especially pretty. Her hair was up in a messy bun and she was wearing a slim-fitting dark blue shirt. There was a piece of hair that kept falling down and he wanted badly to push it behind her ear.

"You know, Detective Ryan," she was saying as she reached past him for a file. "I have a confession to make."

"Oh yeah?" he replied.

She turned those amazing eyes to his. "I used to have a big crush on you."

God. Just what he needed to hear.

He laughed, maybe a little too loudly and definitely too forced, but she didn't seem to notice. "Really?"

Alexis nodded and giggled. "When I came to visit dad at the precinct, I always thought it was so obvious."

"Not at all," he answered honestly. "I never noticed a thing."

"Honestly, I don't know if that crush ever totally went away. I think it's your eyes – they're so blue." She smiled and laughed again, completely at ease.

Right back at you, he thought.

She was still smiling at him and he could feel his pulse racing. He just wanted to lean forward and kiss her…

Castle's daughter, Castle's daughter. You will be the newest murder victim if you do anything.

"Ah," he jumped out of his chair, startling her. "I need to – I just remembered – I forgot to –"

Ryan bee-lined for the door, and was out and down the hall before he'd even come up with a proper excuse.

Several days later, he found he was an expert at avoiding. He ducked into the break room, various file rooms or co-workers offices for a chat if he saw her coming. He took to carrying case files wherever he went so he could pretend to be engrossed in them if passing her in a hallway was unavoidable, and if she greeted him, he would casually wave and perhaps mumble a response. He did his best not to make eye contact, and took on more work so he didn't have the time to help her, though thankfully by this point she didn't need his help any more.

This system was working just fine for him, until she cornered him when he getting himself an espresso in the break room.

"Why have you been avoiding me?" she demanded without preamble. She had one hand on her hip and the other held the counter beside the espresso machine he was currently using.

"I haven't been avoiding anyone," he lied and kept his gaze trained on the liquid filling his cup. "I've just been slammed with a lot of work lately."

"Really?" she snapped. "Because it sure seems like ever since I told you I had a crush on you, you haven't spoken three words to me or even looked at me."

He was never good at confrontations, generally preferring to be passive aggressive or just shy away from conflict. Ironic, he supposed, seeing as how he was a cop. At this moment, however, he had to fight the urge to run away. Or take her in his arms.

"Normally, it might not bother me," she continued. "But it seems like you got the wrong idea – and, I kind of thought we were friends."

"We're… coworkers." he said uneasily.

"Coworkers." Alexis repeated coldly.


There was a sticky silence before she turned on her heel and headed out of the break room. He glanced up, watching her go, and cursing himself silently for making things complicated. If he would have just acted normally, everything would be fine. But no. He had to go and make things awkward because he couldn't properly control – or dismiss, like he so desperately wanted to – the feelings boiling inside him every time she walked in the room.

The next day when Alexis came to work, she strode past Ryan without a word but greeted Esposito cheerfully. Ryan pretended he hadn't heard her at all and stared pointedly at his computer screen.

Around lunchtime when Alexis offered to go get lunch from the cafeteria downstairs, she returned from getting Beckett and her father's orders, asked what Esposito wanted, and then walked away.

"Yo, Alexis!" Esposito called. "You forgot my man Ryan!"

She faced them with a wide smile. "Oh, he said he brought his own lunch today when I asked him earlier."

Ryan met her falsely innocent gaze and clenched his jaw briefly before answering, "Yup. Thanks, though."

She left and Esposito raised an eyebrow at his friend.

"You never bring lunch." He said.

Ryan cleared his throat. "Oh, you know. Leftovers. Just thought I'd… save a few bucks. Today."

When Alexis returned with sandwiches for the others, Ryan made an excuse about running some errands and ate at a fast food place down the street.

She's more passive aggressive than I am, he thought grimly.

Around mid-afternoon, Castle was spinning theories as usual when Alexis arrived with a stack of files. Beckett gestured to Ryan, and Alexis shoved them at him with unnecessary force. She headed away as if nothing had happened while he ignored the questioning looks from the others, Castle in particular, and read out the information Beckett had requested.

Before he left for the night, Castle pulled Ryan aside.

"Is something going on between you and Alexis?" he asked at once.

"What? No, absolutely not," Ryan replied hurriedly. Here he was, spending his whole summer making sure no one got the wrong idea, and by doing nothing, he'd managed to turn it into something – though the opposite of the something he really wanted. "Why, uh, why do you ask?"

"Because I know my daughter, and she tends to get a bit passive aggressive when she's angry about something. She won't tell me what she's angry about – says it's nothing in particular, but the past week, she's sure seemed angry at you."

Ryan cleared his throat uncomfortably, thinking fast. "Yeah, I… I made a comment about… her college. I should just apologize."

"That would be smart. Having Alexis mad at you is no fun – I know." He chuckled and turned to walk away. Ryan nearly exhaled with relief, but stopped when Castle stepped back, his face serious again. "If there was something going on, you would tell me." It was an order or a threat, not a question.

Ryan nodded.

"And you know I would probably have to dismember you immediately, right? Her being my little girl and all?"

"Of course!" Ryan laughed – the weird, unnatural one he'd been using too much this summer – and put on his best reassuring smile. "There's nothing to worry about."

Satisfied, Castle bid Ryan goodnight and headed home.

It was late evening, and Ryan was still at the precinct though almost everyone else had gone home hours ago. He was determined to find a crack in the double homicide he was working with Esposito. He'd lost track of the time when he heard someone coming. Ryan looked up to see Alexis.

Of course. He thought with irritation. Of course it would be her.

"Why are you here so late?" she asked casually – practically the first words she'd spoken directly to him in days.

"Just trying to catch a break with this case," he answered, not wishing to anger her more than he already had recently.

The silence stretched for a couple moments before she gestured and said, "I forgot my coat. I came by to grab it."

He nodded but otherwise didn't reply and returned his attention to the papers scattered across his desk. He wasn't sure why she was still standing there, not moving to retrieve her coat, and then she plopped down in the chair beside his desk.

"Look, I'm sorry if it made you uncomfortable when I said I had a crush on you," she said. "That wasn't my intention. And I'm sorry I've been… well, kind of mean to you all week."

"It's fine," he said quickly, brushing her off.

"Please look at me," she said pleadingly and he reluctantly obeyed. "I can tell something else is going on. Did I do something else…?"

He swallowed. Oh, something else was going on, alright. He was going home and imagining scenarios where he was on a date with Alexis, where he was kissing her neck and she was laughing at his jokes, where they came into the precinct holding hands…

He sighed and ran his hand through his hair. "You didn't do anything wrong, Alexis. It's just that… you… you came back from… and now you're… " He waved his hand at her helplessly. Gorgeous, funny, smart, and everywhere lately, he finished silently. Aloud, he added, "Off limits. Very, very off limits."

She suppressed a smile with difficulty. "Well, I'm not a kid anymore."

"Yeah, that's the problem," Ryan blurted. "Not that I – not that you – I didn't mean – "

"I knew what you meant." That smile of hers was growing. "I didn't realize this was all because you felt the same way about me."

"I didn't – I don't." It would have been more convincing if he had been able to hold her gaze or keep his tone steady. He shook his head, trying to clear his emotions from the haze she had put him. After a moment, he said softly, "You're still Castle's daughter, which still means you're off limits."

Alexis rolled her eyes. "Dad doesn't chose who I date. I do."

He shrugged. "I'm too old for you."

She giggled and pulled her chair closer. "You're, what, 33? That's barely ten years."

"It's eleven."

"It's not fifty."

She was leaning ever closer and his resolve was circling the drain. This was a very dangerous situation and part of him told him to get up and walk away, to stop his traitorous body from sliding forward bit by bit to meet her halfway…

Her beautiful face was inches from his when he whispered, "Your father is going to cut me into pieces."

Alexis smiled and matched his volume. "I'll protect you."

Her lips met his and he kissed her back at once, all will power to fight his feelings gone. She laced her hand through his hair and he encircled her waist with his arm, pulling her tight to him. He couldn't help noting that either he had somehow redeemed himself in the eyes of his lucky stars, or this was just a little reprieve before the real pain started. Then he quit thinking all together, because either way, it didn't matter. It was Alexis, kissing him fiercely, and all his childish daydreaming didn't hold a candle to the real thing.

Somewhere between the part where time stopped and when he pulled back so his intense blue gaze met hers, he thought fleetingly about how he was soon going to know what dismemberment felt like – but that this was totally worth it.


A/n: I was sorely tempted to use (or at least reference) a certain conversation between Shepherd Book and Malcolm Reynolds about the "special hell"... ;D Thanks for reading, any and all feedback greatly appreciated!