I started writing this story for last Mother's Day but it remained unfinished. I remembered it today and decided that I wanted to finish it. It's definitely set in the future and has spoilers up to Always.
I don't own anything you recognize, it's just my procrastination from lesson planning and assignments.
Dedicated to all of the Mothers out there and thank you all the wonderful things you do for your children.
Her eyes opened slowly to the sound of tiny footsteps walking towards her. She lifted her head from the chest of her husband, waiting for the arrival of her daughter.
She felt a small kiss on the back of her neck and she turned back to look at him.
"Morning." He whispered with a smile as she leant down and kissed him softly, her lips pressing against his as one of his hands cupped the back of her head, his fingers tangling in her hair.
Their kiss took on a life of its own – they always did. Years of marriage had done nothing to dampen the passion between the two of them. Reluctantly and breathlessly she pulled away from him, turning her attention to the clock beside the bed, it was almost 6am. "She's awake much earlier than usual." She told him worriedly, "I hope she isn't sick again."
He shook his head and smiled a smile she knew meant that he was up to something. It was a smile their daughter had inherited, a smile that both of them used to manipulate her. A smile she couldn't resist. "Castle," she said warningly, "what are you both up to?"
Again he shook his head, as footsteps neared closer. "Pretend you are asleep." He said quickly.
She glared at him, her eyes narrowing towards him, "I'm not pretending to be asleep."
"You have to." He said with a smile, "She wants to make you a Mother's Day breakfast. If you are awake you'll ruin the surprise."
"Daddy?" a little voice questioned from just outside the bedroom, her small feet tiptoeing towards the bed.
Kate felt her eyes fill with the beginning of tears and she immediately clamped her eyes shut tightly, turning her head away from Castle and snuggling into her pillow, listening as her daughter approached the bed.
"Daddy?" she questioned again, "Are you awake?" she whispered quietly. "You said you'd help me make breakfast for Mommy."
Slowly he opened his eyes and made his best acting attempt at pretending he'd been sound asleep. "Morning Potato." He whispered quietly as he smiled at the little girl standing next to the bed. He'd wanted to give his second daughter the same childhood as he'd given his eldest and a nickname related to a vegetable was part of the Castle childhood.
"Is Mommy still asleep?" She questioned as she moved closer to the edge of the bed, staring carefully.
Castle nodded as he slowly slid out from the bed, standing next to his daughter and ruffling at her long brunette hair. "Have you decided what you want to make?" he questioned as he lifted her up and onto his shoulders.
"Pancakes," she replied, "Pancakes and waffles." She said correcting herself, "Mommy is the best, she deserves both."
"You are right about that Zu-Zu." Castle replied calling his daughter by her other favourite nickname as he stepped out into his study.
"You are the best too Daddy," Zoe Castle replied from the top of her father's shoulders, "Will you tell me a story as we make breakfast for Mommy?"
"Of course," he replied, "What story do you want today?" He questioned as he closed the study door behind them.
"A new one." Zoe answered excitedly.
Castle laughed, it was excellent that he made up stories for a living; his daughter always wanted something new.
As she heard the footsteps move towards the kitchen, Kate opened her eyes once more; quickly she brushed away the tears that had formed at the knowledge of her daughter's sweet gesture and pulled herself up into a sitting position. She folded her arms across her chest as the reality of the day swept over her. Mother's Day. A day she'd ignored for years. A day that had broken her heart. She closed her eyes and let the memories appear in her mind.
It was early, as she crept from her bed; she winced as she tripped over an empty bottle that littered the hallway. There was a line of them – her father had as usual left a mess in his wake. Tiptoeing towards his bedroom door, she found him in is normal place. Slumped on the bed. Face down and snoring. This had become her life since her mother's murder; waiting and watching her father drink each day and all night. He'd drink until all he could do was stumble towards his bedroom and fall onto his bed. Slowly she walked over to him and moved his head onto the pillow, he groaned quietly before beginning to snore once again. A tear escaped her left eye and it trickled down her cheek, she wiped it away slowly. Today she wanted to cry; today she was going to cry. It was Mother's Day and she no longer had a mother.
She opened her eyes slowly, brushing a tear from the corner of her eye. She remembered that day like it was yesterday, her father hadn't surfaced until early that evening – he'd made no mention of what day it was and neither had she. She'd simply left him alone with the dinner she had prepared and she'd gone to her room to read. She smiled wistfully; she'd read half of one of Castle's novels on that day – she'd lost herself in the complicated plot and then been shocked by the thrilling twist.
Mother's Day had been a day that had meant nothing but sadness – a day where she had hid away from the world, but that all changed that when she was pregnant with Zoe. She smiled as she listened to Castle begin a story for Zoe – this one about a girl who started a fire while cooking breakfast for her mother. She heard Zoe giggle loudly, before explaining that she wasn't going to start a fire, she had been taught kitchen safety. It was then that Castle told her that it was the Dad who would start the fire. Zoe laughed again and told Castle that he had made a clever twist. Although with her slight lisp it sounded as if she had said whisk, Kate smiled as the conversation grew fainter until she could no longer hear either of them talking.
She groaned as another kick landed forcefully on her bladder, at eight months pregnant Kate Beckett-Castle felt like a whale. She turned slowly, slowly was the only speed she could move at the moment and read the clock. Her daughter was on time; it was 6am – the same approximate time she'd woken her mother for the past three weeks. She laughed to herself quietly – at least their daughter inherited something from her. Sighing she pulled herself up from the bed and waddled towards the bathroom.
She leant over the basin and washed her hands staring down at her belly as she did so, "You are going to be trouble like your father aren't you?" she questioned quietly.
"I am not trouble." A voice answered, startling Kate so that she jumped. "I am entertaining." He added as he stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her carefully, lightly kissing her neck as he did so.
She smiled staring up at the mirror so that she could see his face, "I guess you are entertaining, some of the time." She said seriously as she watched his face crinkle in confusion.
"You should be nice to your Mommy," Castle said quietly, patting the top of her swollen stomach with one of his hands, "It is Mother's Day after all." He added, his voice barely above a whisper.
Kate remembered the way her breath had caught in her chest at the mention of that day – the way her heart had began to race thinking of the pain she had felt on this day in the years before. Truth be told she'd even forgotten that the day years before was Mother's Day, in the years that she and Castle had been married before Zoe Alexis had given her presents on this day, but they never made a big deal of it. Castle had of course noticed her response and had immediately turned her face towards his. He'd told her that she owed it to herself to make new memories of this day, he'd told her that their daughter was so lucky to have her as her mother and that she was going to deserve a day where she was celebrated – because he knew that she was going to be an amazing mother. Castle had kissed her tenderly and then held her tightly as she'd cried into his shoulder. He'd then spent the rest of the day excited that the next time it was Mother's Day they'd have a daughter who was almost one year old.
On the very first Mother's Day, the following year Castle had presented her with the largest card he could find and a framed picture of Zoe's tiny footprints. She still had the card and the framed picture hung proudly on the opposite wall of their bedroom, surrounded by photos of her family – some of them just the three of them and others of Alexis too. She smiled at the memories and then snuggled back underneath the luxurious bed covers. It would be easier to actually be asleep when Zoe and Castle returned, her daughter had inherited an ability to be suspicious and Kate didn't feel like her acting skills were up to the challenge of being tested to a Zoe-interrogation.
"Daddy?" Zoe questioned from her seat at the kitchen counter, "How do you spell amazing?"
Castle turned and looked towards Zoe, she was staring at him intently, one hand holding a crayon tightly the other resting on the counter holding her chin. She looked confused – as if she had tried to write 'amazing' several times but just couldn't get it right. He checked the pancake that was in the pan before walking over to his daughter. He'd been right about her attempts at spelling, there were two pieces of paper in front of her – one had a picture of their family. Castle recognised Zoe's familiar rendering of the Beckett-Castle family, Kate, Alexis, Alexis's husband James, Zoe, Jim, Martha and himself. The second piece of paper had an assortment of letters on it; she had made many attempts to get the word right on her own. His daughter was fiercely determined – a trait she'd inherited from her mother.
"How do you think you'd spell it?" Castle questioned as he sat down next to Zoe.
"I know it starts with an A." Zoe said firmly, "And there's a Z in there too."
"That's a good start." Castle replied encouragingly, taking one of the spare crayons from the counter and beginning to write on the paper where Zoe had left the space.
"No." Zoe said firmly, "I want to write it. Not you."
"But you asked me how to spell it." Castle replied, putting the crayon back on the counter.
"Yes Daddy, but only cause I couldn't work it out." Zoe began as she pushed the second piece of paper towards him, "Look how much I tried. But I just couldn't work it out. It's a hard word."
Castle shook his head and smiled, dropping a kiss atop his daughter's head, "Challenging just like your mother, aren't you Zu-Zu? Maybe even a little maddening." He said quietly.
Zoe turned her head up to look at him, biting on her lower lip as she wrinkled her nose, "The word Daddy, please."
Castle laughed as he picked up the crayon again and wrote amazing for his daughter.
"Thank you Daddy." Zoe replied, reaching out her little arms to wrap around his middle.
"You're welcome." Castle replied.
"Daddy," Zoe began pulling her arms from her father, "I think the pancakes are burning!" She added with a laugh, "I told you it wouldn't be me making fires!"
Castle cursed inwardly and quickly made his way back to the stovetop, his daughter was right, that pancake was indeed ruined.
"I'm going back to see Mommy." Zoe announced a few minutes later, running towards Castle to show him what she had made. "No more fires Daddy." She added with a giggle.
"Promise." Castle replied, "Your picture looks amazing." He said proudly.
"A-M-A-Z-I-N-G." Zoe spelt carefully, "Thank you Daddy." She added before she scampered off towards the bedroom as fast as her little legs could carry her.
Castle smiled and turned his attention back to the food, he couldn't burn another one, even if none of them were in the room somehow the women in his life would know.
Kate blinked carefully, she had been able to fall back to sleep and was now being woken by her daughter. Zoe had climbed up onto the bed beside her and curled her body towards Kate's.
"Morning beautiful girl." Kate replied, "You are awake early today."
"It's a special day today Mommy." Zoe stated, "It's a day for Mommies."
Kate smiled, "And what happens on this day for Mommies?"
"Daddy and I make you breakfast and you get a present and a picture." Zoe answered excitedly.
Zoe nodded, "I left it on the floor."
Kate wrinkled her nose and looked at her daughter confusedly.
"I need to ask you two questions first." Zoe replied, "And you need to answer both before you get the good stuff."
Kate laughed, as she began to reach out to tickle Zoe. Zoe shook her head, "Mommy, I've been wondering something. Why don't you have a Mommy?"
Kate felt the blood drain from her body, and her heart began to pound. She'd always known that this question would come, but that didn't mean she knew what she was going to say.
"Daddy has Grams, Alexis has Meredith, I have you. And last week when we went shopping we all bought presents but you don't have anyone."
Kate didn't know what to do, she simply nodded and Zoe continued. "I asked Miss M about it at school on Friday but she said I should ask you. She said she didn't know. But that mustn't be true, because Miss M knows lots of things. And she's read all of Daddy's books. Remember when she brought them all to the interview and asked Daddy to sign them. Her face went bright red." Zoe said, occasionally stumbling over a word but ending with a giggle. "So Miss M told me that I should ask you, but I think she does know. She just won't tell me."
Kate smiled, Zoe's teacher was indeed a great fan of Castle's work, the Australian born woman had nearly fainted when they'd both walked in for their first meeting with Zoe's teacher. It had taken her at least five minutes to stop smiling madly, and Miss M would indeed know what had happened to Kate's mother. But Miss M was nothing but a professional and an excellent teacher with it.
"Mommy?" Zoe questioned again, regarding her mother's blank look with distain and confusion of her own.
Kate opened her arms and welcomed Zoe into them, wrapping her arms tightly around her middle as her daughter smiled towards her. Kate blinked slowly, watching the innocence in her daughter's face, not wanting to spoil her childlike wonder, but also not wanting to lie. "I had a Mommy." She began, "Everyone has a Mommy Zoe, none of us would be here without one."
"Had?" Zoe questioned, "Miss M said that had is a word for the past."
Kate nodded, taking a small breath, "She died Zoe. A long time ago."
Zoe nodded before questioning, "How long ago?"
"When I was nineteen." Kate answered, watching her daughter process the information she was being given.
"Was she sick like Poe?"
"No." Kate replied, Poe had been a dog that Castle had adopted soon before Zoe was born, he had died the previous year.
"Something like Daddy's books happened?" Zoe questioned.
Kate felt her shoulders tense, but Zoe still looked innocent, she was still staring at her mother with the same inquisitive glare that she'd always had. "Yes." Kate replied as she pulled her daughter tighter kissing her on the forehead.
"Are you going to leave me when I am nineteen?"
Kate felt the pinpricks of tears forming, she sniffled so that she could hold it together and whispered, "I promise Zoe Johanna Castle that I will always do my best to come home to you."
"Would your Mommy have liked me?" Zoe asked quietly.
Kate smiled as she let one of the tears she'd been holding back fall, "Zoe, she would have loved you to the moon and back. Sometimes you even remind me of her. And her name was Johanna."
Zoe pulled back from Kate's embrace, her face full of wonder, "That's my middle name."
Kate nodded again, "Exactly."
"Did Daddy ever know your Mommy?"
Kate shook her head, "But she would have loved him too."
"Do you miss her?"
"Every day." She answered truthfully, "But I have Grandpa Jim and your Grams and your Dad and your sister and you."
"I love you Mommy." Zoe said happily, kissing Kate on the cheek.
"I love you too Zoe-girl."
Castle felt his breathing return to normal and the plates on the tray he was holding stopped shaking. His wife really was the most extraordinary woman he'd ever known, neither of them had ever mentioned what they would do or say when Zoe asked after her maternal grandmother. But he'd always expected that they'd tackle it together.
"Mommy," Zoe began again, "I still have one more question before you can have your picture."
Kate braced herself for another question, but Zoe simply asked, "What does maddening mean?"
Castle coughed loudly and entered the room, "Breakfast is here." He announced proudly, placing the tray on the bureau next to the bed. "And not one piece burnt!"
"You put the burnt one in the bin." Zoe replied, "And Mommy can't eat until she answers my question."
Kate smiled, "Where did you learn the word maddening?"
"Daddy said I was, he said I was challenging and maddening like you Mommy."
"Did he now?" Kate questioned as she turned to glare towards her husband.
"In my defence, I only whispered." Castle replied by way of meek protest.
"You whispered too loudly Daddy."
"What do you think Zoe," Kate began, a menacing glint in her eye, "Do you think Daddy needs a tickle punishment?"
Zoe nodded excitedly, and Castle tried to make a run for it. But they were too fast for him and the three of them ended up on the floor, arms and legs wriggling and laughing in unison.
An hour later after breakfast had been eaten and presents had been given, Kate lay on Castle's chest staring up at him. Zoe had curled up in a ball at the bottom of the bed and she was sleeping peacefully.
"You are extraordinary." Castle whispered.
"You heard?" Kate asked cautiously. He nodded. "Did I say the right thing?"
"You told her the truth."
Kate nodded, "But what if she was too young to hear it?"
Castle shook his head, "You once told me that someone wise said that the truth can never hurt you."
Kate smiled, "You didn't tell her what maddening meant."
"I love you."
"I love you too." He replied, leaning down to kiss her.
"Thank you," Kate began as she pulled back from him, "thank you for all of this, for her, for pulling my pigtails and for bringing me back to life."
"Always." Castle replied, a smile playing across his lips. "Happy Mother's Day to you and to your Mom."
"Happy Mother's Day Mom." Kate whispered and even if she didn't always believe in happy ever afters and Prince Charmings, re-incarnation, magic and the power of the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. Today she believed her mother had heard her and that she was telling her "I told you so."