Mad Dash

A/N: Ya'll wanna do this again? I promise to be more diligent about the 'in the floor's, but I can't guarantee that after 100 more chapters, you won't find them.

When Kate comes around the corner in the vestibule of the church, she stops dead at the sight of Allie in her dress. Her breath catches and she hurries to the young woman, wrapping her in a hug.

Alexis laughs and hugs her back. "I'm so nervous."

"You'll be fine."

"You're not the one who has to stand there in front of everyone," Allie sighs.

"Don't worry." Kate laughs and pulls back to brush the wave of red hair off the girl's shoulders. "No one will be looking at you."

Allie's face scrunches together, eyebrows knitting. "Yeah, but I'm in charge of all the grandkids up there, and I'm not really a grandkid and it's such a huge honor, Kate-"

"Stop. You are a grandkid," Kate interrupts, squeezing the woman's shoulder. "And think of it like good practice for your wedding."

Allie makes a face. "That's not exactly helping my nerves."

Kate grins at her even though her own stomach is churning. She has to walk her father down the aisle and give him away. "You'll do fine. The kids are all old enough. Ella's the youngest, and you know she'll do what you say."

"I'm not worried about Ellery. It's Dash that I know is gonna do something. Entirely on accident, but he'll steal the show."

Kate winces. "Yeah. Good point. I'll be on the lookout for him."

"But he's got the rings, Kate. It's not like you can grab him."

Kate rolls her eyes. "I'll do what I can. We'll figure it out. Don't worry. Kelly's grandsons could probably corral him too. Dash kinda adores them. It'll be fine. No matter what happens."

"Yeah," Allie sighs. "Ignore me. I'm just - I just can't believe your Dad wants me to-"

Kate takes a fierce hug from the girl, trying to squeeze that thought out of her. "You're mine, so you're his too, Allie. Has Papa ever treated you differently?"

"No," Allie whispers back, her arms tightening around Kate. "No. I just - sometimes it's hard to fight my own issues."

"Don't I know it," Kate laughs. "We all want you in this wedding. No one questions your place or your right to be here, Allie. You are my family. Don't forget that, okay?"

"Yeah. Okay."

Stepping back, Kate squeezes her hands and lets her go. "Okay. Now I gotta track down your dad and Dash. I'm supposed to give them the rings. And I have no idea where Ellery is."

"I think the guys were over on the groom's side," Allie gestures behind her. "And I've got Ellery. So don't worry about her. You just focus on your Da - on Papa."

Kate grins back at her, thankful Allie can accept it, her place in this family - not just as Dash and Ella's older half-sister or Kate's adopted daughter, but as an integral piece of their puzzle.

"You look beautiful. And don't let your Dad see you until the ceremony because he'd probably get choked up."

Allie laughs out loud, a hand over her mouth, her eyes sparkling. Kate grins back, glad she could make the girl laugh, make her forget her anxiety for just a moment.

"Good idea. Rafe's over there with them and I think that might be reminder enough."

Kate gives her one last hug and then heads down the hallway towards the groom's side, her insides fluttering like the skirt of her dress, the rings on her own finger to keep them safe. And because her own hands are bare, because Kate's is on Allie's finger now as an engagement ring, the weight of Kelly's bands feels strange.

She hears Dashiell before she sees him, comes around the corner and finds her son doing a handstand against the side doors of the sanctuary. She steps up, yanks his feet down with a growl.

"You're scuffing up the wall with your shoes. Where's your father?"

"Dad's taking one of the little kid's to the bathroom."

Oh, that would have to be Mark? Mike? He's four. "Why can't he go to the bathroom by himself?"

Dash shrugs and rolls his shoulders in the suit jacket. "Momma, it's itchy."

She sighs and slides her fingers under his collar, moving aside the tag to soothe his skin. She feels him relax, then his whole body cants towards her, his face against her thigh. She glances down at the dress, but he's not staining it, just wrinkling it a little. No big deal.

She strokes along his thin shoulders, up his spine, scratches his scalp, then back down, distracting him. "How's that?"


"Okay, I've got the rings you're supposed to carry, but Daddy must have the little basket thing." And she doesn't have a whole lot of time to get back to her father and lead him down the aisle. It's so messed up. She put up a fight, told him that only the bride is supposed to do that, but he and Kelly wanted their families to give them away to each other.

Kinda sweet, sure, but she's already dealing with so many issues, she's not sure she can make it through the ceremony without crying.


"Daddy's gonna make me late. All right, come with me."

Dashiell follows along at her side as she heads for the men's bathroom, intent on getting Castle out of there.

"What are you doing?" he yelps, instinctively blocking the poor kid from the line of sight of the open bathroom door.

Kate rolls her eyes at him, fingers reaching out. "I need that basket pillow thing."

What? Castle is trying to help a kid - an anxious kid - go to the bathroom here and what is she doing in the men's room?

"Castle. Come on. I don't have much time." She snaps her fingers at him, and he lifts both eyebrows and stares her down.

Dashiell comes around from behind her. "Dad, gotta put the rings on those loops and tie them up. 'Member?"

Kate wriggles her fingers at him and he sees the flash of the rings that aren't her own, reminding him once again of how bare her hand has been these last few months. He tried getting her a new wedding ring at Christmas, but it was busy and she didn't have time to stop, look at online catalogs with him. And there's no way he's getting something without her approval.

"Rick," she says, exasperation lacing her voice. "The rings."

"Right, right," he mutters and nods to the bathroom counter where he left the thing. If Dash had kept the basket, it'd be lost by now. "Mikey's just finishing up, right my man?"

"I am not your man," Mikey says, but his voice wavers. Poor kid. Totally gunshy. Not even turning on the faucet is helping.

Kate presses her lips together, a smirk flirting on the edges as she shakes her head at him. "Sorry."

"For snapping your fingers at me?" he says, watching her lace the rings through the ribbons at the bottom of the basket. It's like a ring bearer pillow and basket in one, and it's a little bit over the top, but he's gotten the feeling Kelly is like that.

All the grandchildren are their bridesmaids and groomsmen; they're going to stand up at the front in a line. He's not sure Dashiell is going to make it through the whole ceremony. Kate's giving her father away while Kelly's two kids do the same on the other side, and to be honest, Castle isn't sure that Kate is going to make it through the whole ceremony.

"Snapping my - no," she huffs. "Not sorry one bit about that. Sorry you got restroom duty. That one okay?"

"Having some trouble. Little bit nervous."

"Can I please just have some privacy?" Mikey says hotly.

Kate laughs, claps her hand over her mouth as Mikey glares at her, her eyes meeting Rick's. "Come on, Castle. Let's give the man some privacy. Dash?"

"You got my basket?"

"Rings are tied. Back outside." She herds him towards the bathroom door and Rick follows them out, not sure he really should leave the kid. His father mentioned something about terrible aim. . .

"Maybe I should-"

"He's fine. Who can go to the bathroom when people are crowding around watching?" Kate laughs, fingers still working at the basket. She hands it over to Dashiell, hooks her finger in his collar at his grey tie. "Hey, guess what, Dash?"

"What?" he answers, distracted by the basket and apparently trying to figure out how to hold it just right.

"Your second wedding, huh?"

Dash grins up at her, eyes lighting. "Yeah. I'm a best man again!"

Castle laughs and ruffles his hair. "Not quite. No best man in this wedding."

Kate's leaning in over their son, kissing his cheek even as Dashiell squirms away, making a face. She laughs and rubs her thumb over the lipstick marks left on his skin. "Don't worry, baby. You'll always be my best man."

Castle clears his throat, looks at her pointedly, waiting for her to glance back at him. She grins when she sees him pouting, straightens up to step in close, her arms sliding around his neck.

He hums his pleasure when she kisses him, draws his hands up her back, fingers dancing over the exposed line of skin along her spine. Her mouth moves to his ear, hovering there as her body presses lightly into his.

"Castle," she murmurs, her voice doing all kinds of things to him that it really shouldn't. Not in a church. Not right before her father's wedding.

"Kate," he says back, his voice rasping over the syllable, unable to help himself.

"Tonight," she answers, a question he didn't even ask, but she knew anyway. Always does. It's probably the tux; she can't keep her hands to herself when he wears a tux. Like after their own wedding out on the lake.

"And then a ring," he says suddenly, gripping her by the wrist to hold her there for a moment longer. He tries to put some force into his gaze because he wants her wearing his ring again, needs it. As stupid and backwards as it is, she's his wife, his, and he wants her wearing his ring. Yesterday.

She skates her fingers down his jaw and then leans in to kiss him lightly. "We'll see, baby."

She steps away, heading back down the hallway towards the girls' side. And he's left wondering if she meant that as a term of endearment or as in big baby. For whining about the ring again. Hard to tell these days; it's almost like she likes saying it, calling him that.

The bathroom door creaks open slowly, Mikey barely slips out before the door crashes back.

"I'm done." And then Mikey is heading off a brisk trot.

"I hope he washed his hands." Castle sighs and collars his son. "Come on, kiddo."

"Hey, Dad. Does this look right?"

Castle glances down at the basket. And no, no it doesn't. How in the world did Dashiell already get it so tangled?