My first Castle fic! Please excuse me if the timeline with the divorce is wrong, I tried to make it cannon but there wasn't a lot to go on.
Written because I actually had a dream along these lines, and because while Castle and Beckett are great, my favorite dynamic in the show is actually Castle and Alexis, and I need more fluff with them!
"The corpse laying on the bed looked peaceful, serene, as though the killer wanted nothing more than to lay her to sleep and take all her cares with him. Storm knew the truth though. Morgan Callhune would never get up again, and the person who put her there wanted him dead as well."
Martha sat on the edge of the reading circle, listening to her son's pleasant baritone as he read the teaser chapter for his new book. Alexis, only just four and a half years old was sitting on her lap, her light blue dress all frills and her light ginger hair curling in on itself at the end of her pigtails. Alexis sat with rapt attention, her blue eyes wide as she listened to her father read. Martha wasn't sure that crime novels was the best thing for Alexis to be paying attention to at that age, but she was the daughter of Richard Castle and that gave her a different set of rules all together. Especially after the divorce.
Meredith and Rick had split only months ago, and Martha, in between acting jobs, was living with Castle to help the clueless father with the total care of his daughter.
Rick finished his reading and closed the book, peering over it with that smug expression that meant he was a best seller and he knew that gave him power. "To be continued." He said theatrically, kissing the cover of the book and handing it down to the attractive young woman sitting right at his feet. She gasped and stared up at him like he had blessed her with the cure to cancer.
Martha sighed and rolled her eyes, smiling softly when Alexis joined in with the clapping in the group.
After mingling with his worshipers, Rick approached the pair, his eyes sparkling and his arms outstretched. He enfolded both his mother and daughter into a hug, kissing Alexis on the forehead and his mother on the cheek. "Another success!" He crowed, shifting Alexis from her grandmother to his hip.
"Daddy, I have a question." Alexis said, looking at him and holding onto his shirt collar with a small hand.
"Yes princess?" He smiled.
"Why was the lady sleeping?"
"In my story?" He asked. Alexis nodded.
"She wasn't sleeping. She was dead. But sometimes when people are dead they look like they're sleeping." Castle explained. Alexis seemed satisfied with the answer so Rick gave her another kiss and handed her back to Martha. "I'll be home late tonight, the mayor is taking me out for drinks because of the new book!"
Martha wanted to say something, but she knew that Rick's transition into being a single father hadn't been easy and he probably needed the night out. She nodded and smiled some, giving her son a pat on the arm. "Just make sure you come home tonight, alright?"
Rick rolled his eyes. "Yes mother."
It was two A.M. Before Castle stumbled back to his apartment, his key fumbling in the lock before he finally let himself in. Once inside, he managed to get to his bed and change into his sweatpants and sleeping shirt, Martha watching him from a distance, relieved at least to see he got home safely. Alexis was in the room adjacent to her father, sound asleep since nine that night. For a drunk, Castle had an amazing sense of where he was and when he should be quiet, so Martha wrapped her bathrobe tighter around herself and moved into her bedroom upstairs, her work done for the night.
Castle flopped face first onto the bed and managed to get halfway under the covers before falling into a deep and very alcohol induced sleep.
At three A.M. He was woken by panicked calls of "Daddy? Daddy!?" and Alexis shaking his arm. He inhaled sharply, peering at her over his arm with confusion. The dim light in the room revealed his daughter's form by his bed, her hair mussed and her eyes shining with tears ready to streak down her face like others had moments before. The sight of Alexis in such a state shocked Castle into sobriety and he sat up, picking the little girl up and setting her into his lap.
"What is it, what's wrong?" He asked, a million possibilities flying through his head. Unconsciously he was looking her up and down for an injury or a cause for the distress. He was puzzled when he found none, but still worried.
Alexis sniffed and took a hiccupy inhale, trying to come off of her hysteria. She had to take a few moments before she was able to get words out. "I-I t-thought you were d-dead." She finally managed, her hands fisted in her nightgown and her eyes shining with barely restrained tears.
"Dead? No, no honey, why would you think that?" Rick asked, relieved and horrified at the same time. Relieved that she wasn't hurt, horrified that she was this upset.
"I had a bad dream and came in to talk to you and you wouldn't wake up, and I remember what you said about people being dead and looking like they were sleeping and you didn't move and I thought you were dead." She said miserably.
Castle immediately rethought the way he had been parenting Alexis in regards to his books. She had never had nightmares regarding what he had told her before, but with everything else going on in Alexis' world right then, he realized too late that she didn't need to have doubts about life and death on top of it. He had taught her so much about death, and what people could do to kill one another, but never about life.
"I'm not dead Alexis, I'm right here."
She sniffed and nodded, but didn't look convinced. She looked away. "The lady was there too, and she was dead."
Castle sighed, his heart aching. He hated what he had done to his little girl. "Here." he said softly. "Let me show you something." He took her tiny hand in hers and pressed it to her own chest. "You feel that?" He asked. Alexis waited for a moment, and then nodded. "That's your heart. Now if you put your hand here-" He said, moving her hand to his chest and pressing lightly. "you can feel my heart. That's what makes us alive, and it never stops, not even when we're sleeping."
Alexis looked up at him, wide eyed. "What about when it gets tired?"
"It doesn't." He said softly. "It's very strong and works all the time for our entire lives. As long as you can feel that, I'm alive."
"Even when you're sleeping."
He nodded, brushing her hair back with the hand that wasn't holding her to his chest. "Even when I'm sleeping."
"What happens if it isn't moving?" She asked, her voice trembling slightly.
"Mine won't stop for a very long time baby girl, I promise you that." He reassured her.
Alexis sat for a few minutes, tucked up against her father's chest, her hand pressed to his heart, her tears drying gradually as Rick wiped them away with his thumb.
"If you put your ear in the same place you can hear it too. So even if you can't feel it, you can listen for it." He said, brushing her hair back soothingly before rubbing her back. "So if you ever come in my room again and you're scared, just climb up and feel for my heart. Okay?"
"Okay." Alexis nodded, curling up against Castle's warm chest. It wasn't long before Alexis fell asleep and Rick shifted onto his side, careful not to wake her. He pulled the covers over both of them and tucked his head into her hair, soon falling asleep himself.
Three nights later Castle was awakened by the soft dip in his bed as Alexis sought refuge from another bad dream. No words were said, and none were needed. Alexis merely nestled her head under Castle's arm and lay with her ear pressed to his breast, listening to her father's heart as it pumped faithfully inside the writer and away from anything that could hurt it or her.