So there are excuses I could make and reason upon reason I could explain.

But I won't. Sorry this took me 928 days.


Alexis woke with a startle. Alone in her room, she knew that the happenings of the night before were not good. She rubbed her eyes and shuffled toward the edge of her bed. Though she preferred to wait for her Dad before she left her room, the urge to check and see how Kate was took over.

She hopped out of her bed and ran over to the door, her socks causing her to slip on the floor of her bedroom. Catching herself on the door handle, she ran out of the room and into the hall.

"Daddy!" she called out, running down the steps and toward his room. Fists raised, she knocked on his door a couple of times.

"Come on, Daddy. Wake up!"

She groaned and pushed his door open, scrambling over to the bed and climbing up.

"Daddy" she said, patting his chest.

Rick woke with a start, and tightened an arm around Alexis' waist to keep her from falling.

"Hey sweetie. What're you doing?"

"Where's Ms. Kate? Is she okay? Did the bad man hurt her again?"

He sighed and sat up in the bed, pulling the young Alexis into his lap and cuddling her close.

"Well, Lex…" he began. "Ms. Kate is okay. She's not hurt at all. But I have to tell you something else."

"Oh no. Is it bad? Is Ms. Kate not gonna be a detective anymore?"

Rick pulled her into a tighter hug, reveling in the young innocence of his child's mind.

"Lex, Ms. Kate and I broke up. So I don't think she'll be around to come play with you anymore. Since she got hurt, she wants to spend some time by herself."

Tears welled in Alexis' eyes and she shook her head. "No Daddy, that's not fair! Ms. Kate loves you, and me. She said so herself. You don't take back on love. I want to go see her."

"I'm sorry baby, we can't. Ms. Kate wants to be by herself for a little."

Alexis began to cry, pulling herself away from her father's embrace. "No, no, no! She can't! She loves us!"

Rick climbed out of his bed and walked over to the now sobbing Alexis, and scooped her up into his arms. "I'm so sorry sweetie… I'm so, so sorry."

"She loves us daddy" she cried into his shirt, clinging onto him.

"I know she does, Lex. But hey, if we give her a few days, especially since she just got hurt and she needs to get better, maybe we can get her back. Okay?"

She nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him close. "Can we make French toast?"


Kate spent most of the night crying. She hated herself for what she'd done to them. She knew Alexis wouldn't understand and Rick was so hurt, and it pained her to think of what she had caused them.

That morning, she was discharged from the hospital, and was in the precinct an hour later.

"Okay we need to stop Meredith, now."

The boys spun from their desks at her voice, and looked alarmed. "Beckett…" Espo started. "You've got a broken wrist and a cracked rib. You need to go home."

"The hell I do. I had to give up those two so she wouldn't hurt them. I can deal with a little tough breathing if it means getting Rick and Alexis back quickly. Now, what do we have on my kidnapper?"

"We have a name. Jacob Marconi. He's 22, from Brooklyn. From what we can tell, he was working on the set with Meredith in her most recent movie, so that's how they met. We watched the surveillance video from when you were dropped off out front of the precinct and there's nothing. No tags on the car, no people. They pull up on the curb, the back door opens, and you get shoved out, already unconscious."

"Can we track the car from when it drives away?" Kate asks.

"We've been trying but not much luck" Ryan commented, leaning back against his desk.

She signed and fell into her chair, dropping her head into her hands. "Guys… I need them back. We need to do everything we can. Meredith is crazy. Beyond crazy. There's no way she can get full custody of Alexis."

The boys nodded and turned back toward the board, looking at the surveillance video of the car dropping her off.

"So here's the only thing. For you to get shoved out of the car from the back, there would have been two people in the car. Meredith was there too."


Rick and Alexis, much to Rick's dismay, went out to the park after lunch. Alexis spend the entire morning moping around the loft, staring at pictures they'd taken over the months of Kate being in their life and working on another book to give her when they'd see her again. Finally, after lunch, Rick couldn't take the agony of being in the loft and decided to go for a walk through Central Park.

"Daddy, can we get an ice cream and sit by the Alice statue?"

He looked down and nodded, scooping her up and placing Alexis on his shoulders. "Yea baby, absolutely. I'll carry you though. It's a bit of a walk."

"Okay" she nodded, patting on his head and humming songs as they walked.

When they made it to the ice cream stand, Rick reached up and took her off of his shoulders, placing Alexis on the ground next to him and patting her head. "Pick out what you want, okay?"

She nodded, telling the man behind the kiosk, and he turned to Rick to ask more questions.

Alexis wandered to the edge of the cart, smiling and waving at a woman passing by with a dog about two sizes bigger than she was. The dog pulled towards Alexis, coming close and pressing his nose to her cheek, causing her to giggle profusely. "Hi puppy" she smiled, bringing her small hand out to pet the dog.

She heard a loud smack and spun to see her Daddy on the ground, his eyes closed.

"Daddy!" she screamed, before the woman with the dog scooped her up. Alexis started to scream again, but the woman put her hand up over her mouth and whispered in her ear.

"Shhh Lex, it's mommy. Everything will be just fine."

And then, it went dark.


"I need to see Detective Kate Beckett, now!"

Kate's head shot up as she stepped off of the elevator onto the first floor of the precinct. She made eye contact with a distraught Rick Castle, being held back by the officer at the front desk who had called her down.

"Sir please-"

"Let me go! Kate- Kate, she took her. She took Alexis."

No.

No, this was why she left. They said- they said they'd be safe.

"Kate, please!"

"Let him go" she started, moving quickly toward him. The officer let him go and Rick ran toward her, colliding into her arms.

"She took her, she took my baby. I'm going to kill her. Kate- I can't-"

"Rick, breathe" she chided, though she was having trouble doing the same. "Let's go upstairs."

"We can't Kate. She took my baby." The tears welled in his eyes and he clung to her, one hand on her bicep, the other cradling her cheek. "I can't- I won't live without her."

"Shh, honey, I know" she whispered, holding his face in her hands. "But we need to go upstairs and get started on this correctly. Jumping into it will only get Lex hurt. Rick, she's crazy. We can't do this without a strategy."

He nodded, pressing his forehead against hers. "Kate"

"I know. Come on" she said, taking his hand and pulling him to the elevator with her. "What happened?"

"You broke up with us, that's what happened. Alexis and I were both moping around all morning, so we decided to go to the park and get some fresh air. She wanted to eat ice cream at the Alice statue, and when we were in line… She was right there, Kate. I had my eye on her. She was just… petting a dog. And then I felt this sharp pain and I was on the ground, watching Meredith take her away. She looked so scared…"

Kate nodded, reaching out and linking her fingers with his. "We'll find her. Rick, I'm so sorry. When I broke up with you… He promised me if I did neither of you would get hurt. You'd be safe. I- I love you more than anything. The last thing I wanted was for either of you to get hurt."

The elevator door chimed open and they stepped off, walking up to the board.

"Yo boss, what's going on?"

"Meredith and Jacob kidnapped Alexis in Central Park today. We need to get her back."

"Wait, what?" Espo stood from his chair, his hands balled into fists. "Where?"

Rick ran his hands through his hair, falling into his chair by Beckett's desk. "We were in the park, over near the Alice statue. No one… No one helped. No one paid attention to the little girl screaming. I can't… I need my daughter back."

"Okay, I was all available uniform's in the park. Put out an amber alert for Alexis, and an APB on Meredith and Jacob. This little girl is everyone's top priority. Rick, I need you to come with me." Beckett reached down and laced her fingers with his, tugging him up and into the break room.

Finally alone, she reached up and pressed her hand to his cheek, and he broke, tears streaming down his face.

"Kate-"

"I know" she whispered, pressing her forehead to his.

"She's everything… She- twice. My daughter has been kidnapped twice. I am a terrible person" he cried.

"You're not, Rick. You- you are absolutely the greatest father I have ever seen. You love that little girl more than life itself. And she knows that. We both know it. Now, you're not going to like this, but I need you to stay in here."

"No!"

"Rick" she whispered, pressing her lips to his jaw. "I know you don't want to, but you do. Meredith is doing this to get to you. You trust me, right?"

He pulled back a little and looked into her eyes, nodding.

"Then let me get our little girl back."

Once she convinced him to stay in the break room, Kate went back out onto the floor. "Anything yet?"

"Uni's found some witnesses down at the park. They said they saw a little girl crying with a woman, and they were walking towards the Met.

"Okay, I'm going to head to the museum. Check traffic camera footage along 5th and see if you can spot them."

She grabbed her jacket and stopped for a moment, deciding ultimately she couldn't leave Castle at the precinct.

"Rick."

He quickly wiped the tear streaks from his face, looking up from the couch. "Anything?"

"Witnesses saw them headed towards the Met, so I'm going to the museum. Do you want to go?"

"I thought-"

She sighed. "I know what I said. But if I leave you here, you're going to go out and get yourself killed. So come on, let's go."

He stood up and pulled his jacket on, reaching out and grabbing her wrist before they could leave the room. Rick pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly and pressing a quick, yet meaningful kiss to her lips. "Thank you" he whispered.

Kate looked up and nodded, bringing a hand up to press against his cheek. "Come on, let's go."


Once at the museum, Kate flashes her badge at the front desk. "I need your head of security, immediately."

The young girl at the desk, no more than 18, nods quickly and grabs the phone next to her. "They'll be out in just a moment ma'am."

The man comes out and escorts Kate and Rick back to the main office. "How can I help you folks?"

"We've got an amber alert in this area. Alexis Castle, age 4. I need all of your security footage from the last hour so we can see if they've been here."

The security officer complied quickly, and within minutes, Castle and Beckett were scanning the footage for any sign of Alexis.


"No!" Alexis cried, pounding her tiny fists against her mothers back. "No, no, no!"

"Alexis!" Meredith snapped, tightening her grip around the girl to stop her from squirming so much. "Quit it. You and I are going to live and be happy and everything will be fine."

"No!" She yelled again, tears pouring down her cheeks. "I want Daddy and Mama Kate!"

Meredith gripped her daughter's arms, setting her down and leaning in close to her face. "She isn't your mother, I am. Now stop crying and let's go to the museum. You can look at all the pretty pictures."

Alexis trembled, too afraid to keep crying because of the pain her mother was causing her. "Okay" she whimpered, tugging away.

Although she was young, Alexis was bright. Daddy always said that if anything ever happened, go somewhere with a lot of people and find a policeman, like Mama Kate.

Meredith reached down and grabbed her hand, pulling her through the park and towards the museum.


"Look, there they are" Kate pointed, her finger tracing along the screen as they watched Meredith practically drag Alexis into the museum.

"She looks so scared" he whispered, tears springing in his eyes again. "Follow them on the screens."

After another moment or so of watching, they realized that they had not yet left the museum. Kate turned to the security officer, standing up quickly. "I need you to shut down all exits of this museum. Our kidnapper is still here, and dangerous."

"I'm hungry" she whispered, tugging on her mother's hand.

"What?" Meredith snapped, spinning Alexis to look at her. "Stop mumbling, I can't hear you."

"I'm hungry. I wanted ice cream with Daddy, but I didn't get it. I need something to eat."

Meredith groaned, reminding Alexis of the villains in her Disney movies like Cruella or Maleficent. "Fine. Let's go take you to the food court."

Alexis nodded and walked alongside Meredith, keeping an eye out for anyone who worked at the museum as they walked. However, she only saw people in suits, and families looking at all the pretty pictures. "I want mozzarella sticks."

"Those are fattening. You can have a salad."

Her bottom lip trembled, and she leaned away from Meredith, trying to pull away. "I want Daddy" she began to cry.

Rick continued to watch the videos, following them through the museum. He could tell, even from the video, that Alexis was crying and pulling away from Meredith at all times. It broke his heart, but he needed to keep watching so they could devise a plan to get Alexis back safely. Kate worked with the museum curator and security department to keep everyone in the museum inside, and called the boys to get a team down to the museum.

"Kate! They're in the food court. God, I taught that child so well. We need to go get her."

"Rick- ok look, we have to do this carefully. From the looks, she isn't physically harming Alexis. But that isn't to say that she isn't armed and dangerous to the other people here. I'm going to go down first, then as soon as we have Meredith in custody you can get Lex, okay? The boys just got here, so our strike team is ready to go."

He nodded, standing up and pressing his lips to hers. "Go get her back."

The team swarmed around the food court, all in plain clothes, with bluetooths in their ears.

"Ok guys, I'm going to go in first. Keep a eye out on suspect, and make sure that she doesn't have any escape routes. Our top priority is to get Alexis out safe. Copy?"

"Copy" sounded back in her ear from her teammates.

"Okay, I'm going in."

Meredith, not the brightest, left Alexis sitting at a table by herself while she went to get food. Kate looked across the room, and it broke her heart watching Alexis cry. She walked over, keeping an eye on Meredith to make sure she wasn't seen, and went to the table, kneeling down.

"Hey sweetie" Kate smiled, reaching her hand out to hold Alexis'.

"Kate!" she gasped, throwing herself into the woman's arms. "Kate, help, help me. She-" Alexis begins to sob, shoving her face into Kate's neck.

"I know. Come on, let's go get Daddy" she whispered, scooping Alexis up and holding close. As she stood and turned, she was met eye to eye with Meredith, who was flaming red.

"Let go of her."

Kate wrapped an arm protectively around Alexis, not breaking eye contact. "Meredith, it's over. You've lost."

"The hell I have. That's my child, let her go." Meredith began reaching into her bag, and Kate eyed the handle of a pistol.

"Lex, go run over there to Uncle Javi, now" Kate said, setting the terrified child down, who quickly ran. Within seconds, Kate had her gun out and pointed directly at Meredith, who in reflect had her gun out as well.

"Everyone says I'm crazy" Meredith broke, her hands trembling. "I'm not a great mother, but… everyone says he's the great one. It's all 'Poor Rick' and 'How'd he end up with her'. No one see's it how I see it."

Kate nodded, taking a step closer to Meredith. "Okay, look, I get it."

"You don't!" She cried out. "You're fucking him too! Rick Castle is everyone's hero."

Kate took another step closer, using her hand without the gun to wave off the boys, who were getting closer. "Meredith, I see where you're coming from. But this? This isn't what you need. Do you think shooting me, in front of your 4 year old, is going to solve anything? Absolutely not, Meredith. You need help."

Meredith shook, the gun still pointed at Kate. She eyed the gun, then Kate, then back at the gun. "I'm crazy" she whispered.

Kate shook her head. "You're not crazy, Meredith. You just need help. Now, you need to put down the gun. Don't let Alexis see you like this."

Meredith nodded, and set the gun down on the table she was standing next to. Within seconds, Kate had her gun holstered and had Meredith in handcuffs. "I know" Kate whispered, as Meredith hung her head and cried.

Alexis leapt out of Epsositos arms and ran straight to Rick and flung her arms around his neck, burying her face into his shoulder. "Daddy!"

"Oh baby" he whispered, holding her close. "I'm so happy your safe."

"I'm so sorry" she cried. "She took me and I-"

"No, don't be sorry. You're safe, and we're together, and that is all that matters." He whispered, pressing a kiss to her head. "Hey, let's go get some ice cream, what do you say?"

She nodded, clinging to him as he stood and held her close.

After Esposito had delivered Alexis to Rick, he went back to the food court with Ryan to help get Meredith out and in custody. When they finished, Kate walked back toward the security office, her eyes landing on the scene between Rick and Alexis. Tears began to fall as her eyes met his, and he mouthed a thank you to her before squeezing his daughter tight.

Once Rick picked up Alexis, they walked toward Kate. He used a free arm to pull her into a tight hug, pressing his lips carefully to hers.

"Does this mean you forgive me?" she asked quietly, her arm wrapping around Alexis as she pressed a kiss to the young girl's cheek.

He nodded, tears forming in the corner of his eyes yet again as he hugged his girls tighter. Alexis curled into both of them, reaching an arm out to hug both of them.

"Love you Mama Kate" she whispered.

"I love you too Lex. I love you both."


4 Years Later

"Mom! Mom, Elias keeps changing the channel. Get him to stop"

"Honey, he's 2. If you move the remote, he can't change it anymore."

Alexis looked at her for a second and grinned wide. "You're so smart." She ran back toward the projector and grabbed the remote, turning "Beauty and the Beast" back on before running toward the kitchen and sliding the controller into the fruit bowl. "Perfect" she whispered, going back to where her little brother was curled up in his pajamas in their pillow fort.

It'd been 4 years since the kidnapping case. Meredith had been ruled psychologically unable to stand trail and was placed into a psychiatric ward until fit to stand trial immediately after her arrest. Jacob was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of early release for kidnapping with intent to harm.

Kate stood in the kitchen of the loft, dicing tomatoes to put into their omelets, when Rick came up behind her and slid his arms around her waist, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek.

"You know, I've imagined this scenario in my head thousands of times, but every time I see it in person, it gets better and better."

"Oh yeah?" she chided, turning her head to press a kiss to his lips. "And what scenario would that be Mr. Castle?"

"Well, Mrs. Castle, my beautiful wife, barefoot and pregnant, making breakfast is our kitchen. It's like every 1950's dream."

She blushed profusely, turning back to slide the now cut tomatoes into the bowl and start on the spinach. "Well, I hate to tell you, it's actually not 1950, and your barefoot pregnant wife hasn't told anyone she's pregnant yet, including our son and daughter, and still needs to get to the precinct in an hour to work."

He unwraps himself from around her and leans against the counter, plucking an orange from the counter. "Which makes it you even hotter. PS4 controller?" he asks, eyeing her carefully.

"Lex got mad at Eli cause he was kicking it and she wanted to watch her movie" she looked up at him and he leaned in to press another kiss to her lips. "The kids pancakes should be finished if you want to go get them? Our food will be done in minute."

Before the words even got out of her mouth, Elias came running, more-so stumbling, into the kitchen on his wobbly toddler legs, colliding into Rick's thigh. "Daddy!" he squealed as Rick lifted him. "Dadadadada."

"Hey buddy!" he grinned, hugging his son tightly. "You ready for some pancakes that Mommy made?"

"Cakes! Momma! Lexi get some too momma?"

"Hi baby" she smiled, leaning over to press a kiss to her son's cheek, who blushed. "Yes, they're for Lexi too. Do you want to go get her?"

He nodded, patting Rick's chest. "Daddy, les go get Lexi" he directed.

"Aye aye captain" he laughed, lifting his son onto his shoulders before walking them towards the pillow fort. "Daughter! Mom made breakfast. Time to eat."

She smiled and jumped up, walking over to them and taking his hand. "What'd she make? Pancakes?"

"You bet! It's Monday, we always need pancakes to start a new week of school. Go get some milk while I put Eli in his booster."

Within minutes, the family was sat around the table eating breakfast and talking about the day ahead. Kate was eating with one hand and making sure Eli's pancake bites were small enough, listening as Alexis enthusiastically told them how she was working on a project for school about who her hero was and how she was keeping it a secret until they did their presentation on Friday in front of friends and family.

Once they were finished eating and Kate and Alexis were getting ready to go, Rick stopped them and knelt down in front of Alexis. "Hey kiddo, can Mom and I tell you something?"

She stopped in her tracks and looked at him seriously "Are you okay? Momma, are you okay? Is it Eli? Is he okay? Are we moving? Are you dying? Am I dying?"

"Lex" Kate interjected, kneeling down next to her husband. "Dad and I are… Well… How would you like to be a big sister again?"

Alexis' eyes lit up and she grinned. "You're having another baby?"

Kate nodded. "We wanted to make sure everything was okay before we told you, but yeah sweetheart, we are. So you're gonna have to teach Eli how to be a big sibling, okay?"

She nodded and threw her arms around both of them, hugging them tightly. Rick could feel his shirt getting wet from Alexis crying. "Oh my I'm so excited! Have you told Eli? Is he too little to know? Wait- is it a boy or a girl? Or twins? Or-"

Rick stopped her while Kate got up to get Eli from his fort. "We aren't sure if it's a boy or a girl yet. When we find out though, you and Eli are going to come with us. And no, we haven't told him yet. Let's go tell him together, so you can explain."

Just as he finished speaking, Kate walked up with Eli in her arms. He clutched his stuffed tiger in his arms, laying his head on her shoulder.

"Elias, Mommy and Daddy want to tell you something" she whispered, stroking his back gently.

"Wha momma?"

"Well, you know how Lexi is your big sister?"

He nodded, looking down at his sister with a big smile. "Lexi sis."

"Yeah" Rick nodded. "Well, you're gonna be a big brother, just like how Alexis is a big sister. Mommy's got a baby in her tummy."

"Baby?" he asked, twisting in Kate's arms to reach down and pat her stomach lightly.

Alexis placed her hand over her brothers on top of Kate's stomach. "Yeah Eli! There's gonna be another baby!"

He grinned and squirmed until Kate let him down, holding his tiger up to Kate's stomach. "Share with baby?"

"Oh" Kate broke, tears welling in her eyes as she knelt down on the ground and collected all of her kids into a tight hug.

Rick sat next to them, tugging all of them into a big hug and pressing a kiss to the crown of Kate's head. "I love you" he whispered.

"I love you too."


Fin. Thanks for sticking with me.