A Future To Be Proud Of


Natalie Elizabeth

Alexis yawed as she walked down the hallway leading to her home. Her graduation night had been amazing and she had only gotten a few hours of sleep. Not that she minded; she had fun and she could have slept in more. The fact was, today was the first day of the rest of her life and she was eager to get started. She couldn't get started without first giving her dad a hug and a kiss. She had honestly expected to get like a million texts from her dad last night but had only received one.

'Have fun, but not too much. Don't do anything I would do.'

She really had the best dad in the world. Tonight he had arranged for a special dinner for the two of them. The dinner wasn't until six so she didn't have to be home until much later but she wanted to see him. As hard as graduation was for her, she knew it was hard on her dad. Maybe if she had another sibling it wouldn't be so bad, he wouldn't feel like he was being abandoned. Which was why she had chosen a college close to home; he was her solid ground and she was his. Family was important to her but so was a future career. She hoped she made the right decision concerning both.

Reaching into her bag for her keys she heard her phone ringing and quickly scrambled for it. As she drew it out of her bag she saw it was her mother calling. She tapped her phone quickly not wanting to miss a chance to speak to her mother.

"Mom hi, where are you? I tried to call you like a million times yesterday. Is everything ok?"

"I'm in L A. Where else would I be? I got this role in this movie and they are predicting it's going to be huge. Isn't that so exciting honey?"

She was in L.A.


She was supposed to be here. Months ago she had sent her mother the invite to her graduation and she said she would come. Knowing her mother, Alexis had sent her fortnightly reminders via email. It had only worried her a little when she asked for her mother's flight details two weeks ago and found out she hadn't booked yet. There were plenty of flights to New York and she knew her mother had an inconsistent life schedule. To find out that she was still in L.A. angered her.

"Mom, yesterday was my graduation."

"That's nice."

That's nice. That's nice! Alexis couldn't believe her mother. That's nice, like she had just told her it was sunny in New York.

"Mom you said you were going to be there, I sent you an invite."

She heard her mother sigh. "Oh I am sorry dear; I have just got a lot on my plate right now. I'll make it to the next one. I promise."

Next one? Next one! When was she going to graduate from high school again?

"But Mom, I was valedictorian."

"That means your passed, right?"

Alexis ran a hand down her face in frustration. Although she would never admit it to his face, she definitely got her brains from her father. "Yes, I passed. So I guess that means you won't be coming for the post-graduation dinner that Dad organised for us."

"That was tonight?"

Alexis rolled her eyes. Yes post-graduation means after the graduation. "Yes that was tonight." Alexis tried not to be angry. She should be used it. Her mother often broke plans but this wasn't any old plans, this was a once in a life time thing. "Well I guess I'll see you next week when I come out then."

"Oh sweetie next week really isn't good for me. Can I let you know?"

Alexis tapped her phone angrily and hung up on her mother without responding. She didn't want to hear her excuses. Her mother wasn't there when she needed her and her dad was. She needed a hug and she didn't want to waste time listening to her mother's excuses when her loving, caring father was only steps away. Dropping her phone into her bag she reached for her keys and opened the door.

It was quiet when she entered the loft. It was 10 am but she knew her dad had planned to stay up watching movies last night. He had probably collapsed on the couch a few hours ago. Dropping her bags on the floor she walked over to the couch. Nope, no Dad. She decided to try his room. Maybe he had decided to make his bed his home base. If he got chocolate ice-cream on his sheets he was in big trouble. She wasn't helping him clean them in the bath, so the cleaning company didn't think he was incontinent.

Spying the lump in her father's bed Alexis smiled in delight. He was home, he was asleep, and he was in big trouble. Alexis ran towards the bed and launched herself onto his sleeping form.

"Wake up!" she yelled loudly enough to wake the dead.

She couldn't help but laugh when she heard her father's feminine scream. Using her knees she pinned the covers to the bed so her father couldn't escape and then began to tickle him. Well it wasn't so much as a tickle as a poke and prod through the thick covers.

"You can't escape the tickle monster," she bellowed.

Her father let out another muffled girlie scream which only spurred her to tickle him faster. It was moments like this she would cherish when studying until all hours of the morning in college.

"Ahh haa haa."


Alexis froze at the voice she heard. It sounded a lot more feminine than her father's. When a very delicate hand pried its way out from under the covers Alexis shuffled back. Oh no, it wasn't her father. Now that Alexis had lifted off the covers slightly, the unknown person had room to move and

Alexis watched she sat up.


The sleep befuddle Kate ran her hand through her hair before looking up at the young woman.

"Umm, hi Alexis."

Alexis was confused. Why was Kate in her father's bed, and where was her father?

"Why are you in Dad's bed? Did your apartment blown up again?" What other reason could there be for Kate being in her father's bed?

Kate pulled the covers up slightly. She was wearing Rick's shirt and only Rick's shirt.


"Then why are you in here?"

She looked at Alexis and raised her eyebrows, furrowed her lips and moved her head side to side.

Alexis's eyes widened as she realised why Kate was in her father's bed.

"Oh. OH. I am sorry, I just assumed it was dad in bed."

Kate laughed. "It's fine. I used to do the same thing with my parents. One day I came home early from my friend's house and decided to surprise them. Except they were naked in bed; talk about an awkward moment. You have no idea what that's like."

Alexis crossed her arms over her body. "Oh I think I have an idea."

Kate looked at Alexis who seemed to be quite angry and annoyed. "Right."

"Where's my dad?"

Kate looked at the empty space beside her then her eye spied a folded piece of paper on the bedside table with her name on it. She reached over and snagged the paper.

Morning beautiful, you didn't sleep with a gun last night so I can call you that and not be worried that you will shoot me. I realised there is next to nothing left to eat in this place and Alexis will be home later so I have just stepped out to get a few things. Be back soon. Love you.

Kate smiled at his words. He called her beautiful. She had looked like a drowned rat when she had come to him last night and probably didn't look that much better now. It was the last two words that he had written made her heart sing: love you. Words that had been uttered over and over again last night by both of them.

"So where is he?"

Kate looked up almost forgetting that Alexis was there.

"He, umm, went to get some food. He wanted to make sure there was something here for when you got home."

"Dad and I are meant to be spending the day together before going out for a post-graduation dinner," the sullen woman informed her.

Right, Rick had mentioned that last night. "I should probably..."


Kate paused. Well actually she was going to say get dressed but maybe she should go. If Rick didn't get home by the time she was ready she would just have to call him and explain. Alexis was going through a lot of changes and this one came out of nowhere. Rick needed to talk to his daughter and it would probably be better if she wasn't there. Alexis left the room and slammed the door causing Kate to wince. Well she had just made a great first impression.

Climbing out of bed she looked for her clothes and found them in a soggy pile in Rick's very large bathtub. Rick said he would dry them for her in the morning. She guessed he had other things on his mind. Retrieving a hair band out of her soggy jacket pocket, she used Rick's vast array of hair products to pull her hair into a half decent bun. Returning to Rick's room she rummaged through his drawers until she found a set of sweats with a draw string waist. Pulling them on she glanced at herself in the mirror. Oh, if Rick could see her now. She couldn't help but snort. Beautiful, I think not. Pulling on two pairs of Rick's socks she slid her feet into her very wet boots. Gathering up her phone and keys she decided to leave her wet things; she could get them another day. Walking out of Rick's room she saw Alexis sitting on the couch, her arms crossed over her chest. The young woman didn't look happy and Kate wondered if it was all her fault.

"I'm leaving now."

Alexis didn't look at her.

Kate nodded, right she should go. She turned to leave but then stopped. No she couldn't leave like this. Alexis was upset and she felt a need inside of her to fix it.

"Look Alexis, I am sorry you found out the way you did."

"What, that you and dad had a one night stand? You know I'd rather have not found out at all."

One night stand! Alexis thought it was just a one night stand. Kate had only intended to stay to apologize to settle things but now she needed to set things straight. She sat down on the couch opposite the distraught young woman.

"It wasn't a one night stand, Alexis. I love your father."

Alexis turned to look at her. She scowled at her for a few seconds before the woman's eyes widened at her.

"Oh my God, Kate! Did I do that to you?"

Alexis leaned forward and reached out a hand and gently ran it down her bruised jaw as if her touch could heal. Beckett winced even though Alexis' hand was slight on her skin. She didn't have a chance to check out her battle scars from yesterday in the mirror but she was sure starting to feel them now. Kate grabbed Alexis's hand and drew it away from her face.

"No, that happened yesterday."

Alexis was confused. "What happened yesterday?"

Beckett sighed. She had gone over this all with Castle last night and she really didn't feel like going through it all again. The chase, the blow by blow, dangling from the roof, but Alexis should know the feelings behind all the action.

"I was stupid," she told the young woman. Was there any other way to described what she had done? "I went after the man who shot me even though your father told me not to. He said if I felt anything for him at all I wouldn't, but I did. I was scared. It's like you said in your graduation speech. Everything eventually ends, leaves fall, we close the book, we say good bye. I thought if I let my mother's murder go than I would be letting go of my mother. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I wasn't ready to say goodbye to everything that was familiar and comfortable. My mother's murder has been so much of who I had become. I didn't think I was ready to move on from that. Yet when I was on the rooftop fighting against the man who shot me, it was like all the fight had gone out of me. Your father wasn't with me and I was weak without him. Nothing would ever bring back my mother, but as you said there are some people that will be with us, always. My mother will be with me, no matter where I go, no matter what I do. Not letting go of my mother's case meant letting go of your father. That has been the most stupidest mistake of my entire life and I nearly lost my life because of it. I was too weak, the man who shot me was to strong. He threw me off the side of a building. It took me dangling there to realise all the things you talked about in your speech. Your father would be in my heart always but I could have him in my life if I just took a chance. I realised a lot of things in those few moments before impending death and a lot of things after. I was ready to read the last chapter of a book, because it meant starting a whole new book, a whole new story. The last day of summer means the next day is the first day of fall, which brings rain and fresh new look at the world with all the beautiful colours. Parting ways with close friends opens up the opportunity to meet someone new. I am ready to start a new life, experience new things and I am going to do them with your father by my side."

Alexis simply started at her and Kate wasn't quite sure what to do. She had never really spent a lot of time with young people. Kate went to rise to leave but Alexis grabbed her arm and tugged her back down.

"How do you know my graduation speech?"

Kate removed her phone from the pocket of Rick's pants that she was wearing. Unlocking her phone she tapped it a few times until the preloaded YouTube clip started playing. She handed the phone over to Alexis as the young girl's voice filled the room.

Alexis took the phone and stared at it in shock. There she was standing on stage reading out her speech. She was so confused.

"Why have you been watching my graduation speech?"

"Well your father was telling me about it last night. He was upset that he didn't record it so I went online to see if someone else did. It was a beautiful speech Alexis, you should be very proud of yourself. You have your father's gift for words. People will remember it for a long time, not just those graduating but everyone who hears it."

Alexis handed Kate back her phone.

"You watched this last night."

Kate nodded. "Over and over again."


Kate lowered her head embarrassed. "We, umm, watched it after we umm…."

"After you had sex?"

Kate wasn't all too happy with the way the word sex just easily slid of the young girl's tongue. Yes, she was eighteen now and Kate thought about what she was getting up to when she was eighteen. Which is why she was worried. Kate nodded at Alexis.

"My graduation speech isn't exactly romantic post sex talk. Why were you discussing it?"

Kate ran a hand over her face. "Well at first your father wanted to know all the details about what happened with me yesterday, and then we talked about you."

"But why?"

"Because you're important to your father and he is important to me, which makes you important to me. I am not even sure when it happened Alexis. I've been seeing a shrink since I was shot, trying to become something close to a normal human being. He told me I spent too much time focusing on a woman who was gone; I needed to focus on the living. My shrink asked me to name woman in my life who are important to me. Woman who are alive. I wasn't allowed to think about it, just name them. Do you know what I told him?"

Alexis shook her head.

"I said Lanie, Alexis, Martha."

Alexis's mouth dropped open as her eyebrows rose.

"I know," Kate said smiling at Alexis's reaction. "That seems strange, right? It confused me at first, too. We have known each other for almost four years but in that whole time we have maybe spent what, no more than a week together if you add up all the hours. Yet I somehow feel close to you. I guess it's because your dad talks about you so often. I often joke that Richard Castle's favourite topic is himself but really, it's you, and I enjoyed listening. I loved hearing about your healthy, happy family, it gave me hope."

Alexis still seemed shocked by her response.

"Look, Alexis, I want you to know I am not here to push you out of your father's life. You are a big part of his life and I wouldn't change that for anything. Just because I am dating your father doesn't mean I am going to try and pretend to be a mother to you, either. You have a mother. I really care about you Alexis and I think you are a wonderful person but I can understand if you don't feel the same way about me. I'll accept any kind of relationship you are willing to offer me. However I think for your father sake we should try and get along, no matter how you feel about me."

Alexis scrutinised Kate. She wanted them to get along for the sake of her father. Other woman had pretended to like her while her father was around and then completely flip when he was gone. Kate told her she wasn't going to pretend to be a mother to her because she had a mother. Yeah a mother who had forgotten her graduation yet Kate had willingly sat though watching her graduation on her phone after she had sex.

"I know I am probably not your favourite person right now. I have hurt your father in the past and I can promise you that I'll do everything in my power to stop that happening again. Your father has always been there when I needed him except for last night. Last night he was watching you graduate, it was where he belonged and I should have been there by his side. He has been so nervous about your graduation; it's all he talked about. He needed my support, to hold his hand, to hand him tissues, and from now on I will be there for him. I know us getting together probably seems sudden to you. God knows what you must think of me, finding me half naked in his bed!"

Kate had been going to say more but then it hit her. One day Castle had been her partner, the next he was her lover. At least that's what Alexis would have thought.

Alexis stared at the woman in shock. She had woken this woman up by jumping on her this morning. She had been rude and had practically forced her to leave. Despite all that Kate was worried what she thought of finding her in her father's bed.

"After the initial anger it was more, hold on how come she isn't yelling at me?"

"Why would I yell at you? It's your father's bed; you had every reason to believe it was him under the covers."

Alexis looked down at her hands and began fiddling with them. Realisation dawned on Kate. A woman in the past had obviously yelled at Alexis for doing the most natural thing in the world that all kids love to do. Jump on their parent's bed.

"Well I didn't mind really. It scared the hell out of me at first but now I can see the humour in it."

Alexis laughed it was pretty funny now that she thought about it. "I am sorry though, it was pretty childish. Jumping on the bed and then being rude to you."

"You have nothing to apologize for. Childish, Alexis you are a child. I know you are 18 but no matter how old you get you will always be your father's child. As his daughter it must be hard seeing him with all these different woman. My dad hasn't dated anyone since my mother and honestly I don't know how I would react if he did. The point is as far as you knew your father wasn't seeing anyone so you thought it would be ok to come into his room. I understand that."

Alexis nodded. She could see why her father loved this woman so much. She was really cool. Waking her by jumping on the bed hadn't fazed her. The woman wanted to be at her graduation to support her father but Alexis had the feeling if she had invited Kate, she would have come for her. The woman really didn't deserve the recrimination she had dealt upon her.

"For the record, there haven't been that many women. Sure he has dated a few but he rarely brings them home unless he is serious about them."

Kate couldn't help but smile. Rick had brought her here numerous times before they were even dating. She didn't want to read too much into that but she couldn't help but smile. Now that she thought about it Rick was pretty cautious when it came to Alexis. She didn't think he would parade a bunch of strange woman in front of his daughter.

Kate gave Alexis a brief smile.

"I appreciate you telling me that. I know your father has a past, and so do I. I am looking forward to making a future with your father. A future I can be proud of."

Kate watched as Alexis leaned back on the couch and seemed to be mulling over the information she had just given her. She seemed a bit calmer and, she hoped, happier. Kate stood to leave; it was obvious Alexis need some alone time and then some daddy time.

"Well, I better go."

"Kate. Can I ask you something?"

Kate nodded. "Sure, you can ask me anything."

Kate wasn't sure what the woman was going to ask her, but she made a promise to herself to be honest with Alexis.

"What makes you so special?"

The question shocked Kate she hadn't been expecting that.

"Excuse me?"

"What makes you so special? What made you so special that your mother loved you so much? I mean she had to have, right? Why else would you almost get yourself killed trying to find her killer? You loved her deeply because she loved you the same way. What did you do to make her love you? What am I doing wrong?"

Alexis's voice crackled as the last words barely slipped out and Kate's heart broke. This time she sat down on the couch next to the young woman, who right now looked like a child. Placing her hand on Alexis's shoulder she hoped she wasn't stepping over a line here.

"Alexis you are a very special woman. You're not doing anything wrong."

Alexis now covered her eyes with her hand, Kate surmised to hide her tears.

"Then why doesn't my mother love me?"

"She does," Kate insisted.

Alexis removed her hand and confirmed what Kate thought. She was crying. Big fat tears were running down her pale face.

"No she doesn't. Just because she gave birth to me, doesn't mean she automatically loves me. You don't know her, how can you say she loves me when you don't even know her?"

The young woman had gone from being at peace a few minutes ago to distraught and Kate wasn't really sure what to do. If this were a victim's daughter how would she handle it-with the truth.

"Your right, Alexis. Just because she gave birth to you doesn't mean she loves you. I don't know her, but I know facts."

Alexis wiped her eyes but didn't say anything. She looked at her intently so Kate knew she had to prove her case.

"Your father has full custody yet your mother still sees you. It's not like she gets extra money to spend time with you. Meredith may not always be here when you want her to be but she does come and visit and you visit her, too. In my line of work I have seen too many parents simply up and leave their children and never see them again. She may not be the kind of mother you want or deserve but she is your mother and I can guarantee she loves you. Don't try and be someone you think she would want to love. There are plenty of people in your life who love and care for you, just the way you are. I am not going to tell you that the love the rest of us have for you is enough. I, more than anyone, can understand wanting your mother's love despite the fact that others love you. You should just focus on loving those around you not trying to earn love from others."

Alexis swallowed down the last of her tears and wiped off her face with the back of her hand.

"You must think I am a spoiled brat. Not what you expected to get when you started dating my dad, huh? Look at me, I am crying because my mother didn't turn up to my graduation. At least she is alive! You haven't had your mother there for so many special events. One day you will get married and have kids and she won't be there to see it." Alexis shook her head and gritted her teeth. "And here I am acting like a whiny baby because my mother missed my stupid graduation."

Kate turned Alexis to face her. "Your graduation isn't stupid and I don't think you're a whiny baby. It was a very important day and your mother should have been there. For whatever reason she wasn't and you have every right to be upset about it. If anything it's easier for me. My mom always turned up to events. I have the knowledge that if she hadn't been taken away from me then she would be there for all those special times. I like to think she is looking down at me from heaven smiling at all my achievements and also frowning at all the wrong things I have been doing."

Alexis laughed at this which made Kate smile. She couldn't believe how much pain ripped through her heart at the sight of a sad Alexis. Now that the girl was smiling a whole new sensation was moving through her. Joy! She felt joy that Alexis was happy.

"It has to be harder on you, knowing your mother could be there but isn't. That's not being a spoiled brat, that's being human. For the record I knew exactly what I was getting myself in for when I started dating your dad. He is a package deal. You, your grandmother, his fame, the paparazzi. I knew all of it coming in and yet I still chose to have a relationship with him."

Alexis nodded. Of course Kate knew her father came with baggage. Kate was right. Her mother did love her, even if she wasn't the perfect mother. It was about time she accepted that. Based on what she had just heard, Alexis realized that Kate at least cared for her, possibly even loved her. Kate understood her and tried to help her feel better about herself despite the way she had just treated her. Alexis stood and ran a hand through her hair. She had a lot to take in.

"Thanks Kate. I think I might go and take a shower. I always feel better after a shower."

Kate nodded at the young woman and rose from the couch.

"Sure. I better go to."

The pair walked off in to their respective destinations.

"Alexis, if you ever need to talk I am always willing to listen."

Alexis nodded as she walked up the stairs. Kate sighed. She hoped she had said the right things. As she went to open the door it swung open before her.

"Kate hi," Rick's smiling face greeted her before it quickly changed into a frown.

Alexis, having heard her father's voice, stopped walking towards her room and snuck back to the top of the stairs. She peaked around the corner to stare down at her father and Kate.

"You're leaving?" Rick asked in dismay.

Kate nodded. "Yeah, Alexis is home."

Alexis watched as her father looked around the room trying to find her. She slinked back slightly so he wouldn't see her eavesdropping on their conversation.

"So, you can still stay."

Kate shook her head. "No, I think she needs some daddy-daughter time."

Rick's face darkened. "Why? What happened? Do I need to kick someone's ass?"

Alexis had to peer around the corner to look at Kate's face for this one. Yep, it was worth it. Kate was giving her father a 'yeah right' look, which was the same one she wore. Her father obviously realised how ridiculous his plan was. Like he could really kick anyone's ass.

"Ok, so do I need to get you to kick some ones ass for me, for my daughter?"

Kate laughed and shook her head. "No, but I certainly want to strangle someone."

Rick frowned.


Alexis watched as Kate shook her head.

"You know what? It was a conversation between Alexis and I. I don't want to betray her trust."

"If someone is hurting my daughter, I need to know."

Alexis was surprised. She rarely saw her dad get angry.

"Rick, trust me if someone was really hurting her, I would do everything to stop it. I had a talk with her and I hope I made her feel better. All she needs now is a hug from her daddy. At least I think that's what she needs. It's what I would need in the same situation."

Alexis was surprised Kate hadn't told her father why she was upset. It wasn't a real big deal; however she did know that her father always felt bad when her mother let her down. It was like he blamed himself for providing her with a bad mother.

"Look Rick I should go."

"Will you come back later?"

Kate shook her head. "No, you have Alexis' dinner, remember?"

Alexis covered her eyes as her father gave Kate his puppy dog eyes.

"You could come over after that."

Alexis split her fingers and watched as Kate wrapped her arms around her father's neck. "You need to make today all about your daughter, ok? I already told her about my intentions towards you so she knows we are together. I think we should wait until she is ok with us before we start flaunting our relationship in front of her."

Alexis then turned her head and walked back to her bedroom to avoid watching her father and Kate kiss. She was ok with it. She just didn't want to see it.

"So what will you do today?"

Kate shrugged. "I don't know. Go home, relax. I might go visit my dad, fill him in on what's been going on."

Rick nodded at her. "Ok, but stay safe."

Kate smiled up at him. "Always."

Alexis walked down the stairs and into the fatherless kitchen. He was probably still changing or checking his phone for the millionth time that day. Opening a cupboard Alexis pulled out two packets of microwave popcorn and put them on the bench.

Alexis then went in search of her father's secret stash of chocolate. She knew it existed as he had pulled some of it out earlier that day after she had finished her shower. He hadn't poked or prodded about what she talked about with Kate, yet she told him anyway. She was no longer going to L.A. next week so he needed to know her plans had changed. Of course her dad had gone into full over compensation mode, making all kinds of suggestions of fun things to do. She had declined all of his ideas for the moment. A lot of things were changing in her life and she didn't want to plan to far ahead.

Alexis had done a lot of thinking in the shower, a lot of pondering. She thought about all the things Kate had told her. Alexis wasn't used to getting intelligent advice from her father's girlfriends. She was still reeling from it. Kate understood her need for her mother's love like no one ever had before. Yes her mother was flaky, self-absorbed and never around but she was still her mother. More than one of Alexis's friends came from the non-stereotypical two parents living at home family. When she had confided in them about her mother they had a negative view about it. If they can't make the time to see me why should I want to see them? Her friends implied she should have the same attitude, but she couldn't. For reasons that still befuddled her Kate understood that. Kate! A woman whom on more than one occasion Alexis had wished would disappear from their lives and leave her dad alone. Yet now Kate was her advocate, Kate was the one who was making her feel better. Alexis had honestly expected Kate to berate her for crying over the fact that her mother had missed her graduation. At least Alexis's mother was alive. But Kate hadn't. Kate felt sorry for her. Not pity sorry, sympathetic sorry. Kate's comment about not trying to earn her mother's love had been advice that was long overdue. Yes she would still contact her mother but she would no longer pretend to be interested in all the things her mother's was. This new realization gave her an unexpected peace.

Alexis held up a bag of chocolate in triumph. Ah ha! Her dad thought he could hide the contraband from her. Hiding the chocolate in the utility drawer was defiantly one place her grandmother would never go. Placing the chocolate on the counter, Alexis turned to the fridge. She opened the door and spied the bottle of wine she had placed in there earlier. Giving someone peace should be rewarded. Alexis grabbed the bottle out of the fringe then turned to grab two wine glasses. One for her father, one for Kate. Earlier when getting ready for her special post- graduation dinner she made the decision to invite Kate over for late night movie fest. Kate seemed surprised by her invite but accepted. Alexis hoped this olive branch was a step in the right direction for both of them.

Taking the wine, glasses and chocolate to the coffee table, Alexis was returning to the kitchen when she heard a knock at the door. Detouring, Alexis went to the door and checked the peephole before opening it.

"Hi Kate."

"Hi Alexis, thanks for inviting me."

Alexis noticed the nervousness in Kate's voice as the woman tentatively entered their home. She wondered if the lack of confidence was due to Kate not wearing her unofficial uniform. When Alexis had called Kate she had informed her to wear comfortable casual clothes. Alexis was surprised. She didn't know Kate owned shoes other than high heel boots.

"Nice shoes."

Kate turned around and stared at her surprised before looking down at her Nikes.

"Umm yeah, you said comfortable," Kate shrugged at as if excusing her look.

"You look," Alexis surveyed her father's girlfriend. Bright pink Nikes were on her feet, faded jeans and a well-worn sweat shirt finished the ensemble. "Relaxed."

Kate smiled at her. "I feel relaxed here."

Alexis nodded and then shut the loft door before walking back to the kitchen.

"Now that your here I can pop the popcorn."

Throwing a bag into the microwave and pressing start, Alexis turned suddenly when she realised Kate was missing something.

"Where is your overnight bag?"

Kate pulled a chair out and sat down on the other side of the kitchen bench.

"I didn't bring one. You said to bring an overnight bag with pajamas as the movie nights usually go late. I figured there is no point changing into pajamas only to change back into my jeans when I go home."

Alexis bit her lip and smiled. "Umm, the point was you wouldn't be going home."

Kate looked generally shocked and flustered for a few seconds before her shoulders dropped.

"Look, I realise you father probably guilt tripped you into inviting me tonight so I appreciate you doing it for him, but it isn't necessary. I'll stay for a few hours to make him happy and then I'll go and the two of you can enjoy the rest of the night together. Alexis, you and I, we are not quite there yet, but I hope to be someday. It just doesn't have to be today. I appreciate you trying but, it's ok, really."

The microwave beeped to indicate the popcorn was ready so Alexis turned away from Kate to reload the next batch. Kate certainly had a way with words, almost as good as her dad. Alexis switched the bags of popcorn before squaring off with her dad's girlfriend again.

"You're right. We are not quite at the braiding hair stage."

This caused Kate to laugh.

"However, dad didn't guilt me into inviting you. He doesn't even know your here actually. Right now he is in his room changing into his pajama jeans."

Kate's eyebrows rose. "Pajama Jeans?"

Alexis stood back and plucked at her pants. "Look like jeans, feel like pajamas. Dad has a habit of buying things off late night infomercials. You will probably get a pair very soon."

Kate shook her head but smiled.

"I asked you to come tonight Kate because I'd really like to get to know the new you, or rather, the real you. There are still a few issues I have with the way things have gone down in the past between you and my father but I am willing to move on from that. Or at least try to. I may have questions that I really have no right to ask."

"No Alexis," Kate said interrupted the young woman. "You have every right to ask. If it were my father I'd act in the same way. I promise to be honest and try and give you answers although at times even I am confused about some of the things I did."

Alexis smiled and that was exactly the reason why Kate was here. Kate realised she had made mistakes and she was honest about that.

"I really liked what you said earlier about creating a future you could be proud of. I think I am going to make that my life goal. In my future I see a happy dad and I know that can't happen unless you there with him." The microwave beeped again and Alexis turned to grab the second bag of popcorn. "I also know that movie night can't start unless Dad is out here. Can you go see what's taking him so long?"

Alexis turned back as Kate rose.

"Thank you, Alexis. Just so you know, I am willing to talk, day or night." With that Kate tuned and left the young woman making them their movie snack.

To say that Kate had been shocked by Alexis call was an understatement. She had been sure Rick had used his puppy dog face on his daughter. To find out that it was a genuine request from Alexis gave Kate hope that they would be ok. Coming to Rick's closed bedroom door she tentatively knocked at it.

"Ahh yeah," came Ricks response.

Kate wasn't sure if that was an 'Ahh yeah' come in or 'Ahh yeah' what do you want? Kate figured after the intimacy they shared last night it would be ok to come in. Opening the door Kate peeked her head in and saw Rick sitting on his bed in what she assumed were his pajama jeans, slipping on some very thick soft looking socks. Even seeing him in side profile had her heart racing. This was Rick, her lover, her friend. Kate couldn't handle being apart from him any longer.

"You know it's rude to keep a woman waiting, Rick."

His head turned quickly and his mouth had already dropped open.

"Kate," he gasped before he stood up and ran the short distance between them.

Kate squealed in delight as Rick wrapped his arm around her and spun them around.

"I missed you. What are you doing here? You are so beautiful."

Kate laughed as he set her down and simply looked at her. It was as if he hadn't seen her in days and she hoped her own face reflected the same expression. It was so good to see him again, to be in his presence.

"I missed you, too. Alexis invited me and you're looking pretty handsome in your pajama jeans."

"Do you want a pair?" he asked excitably.

Kate rolled her eyes but smiled as she leaned in to kiss him. His lips danced over hers and she tried to control the noises her body was emitting. Just because Alexis was ok with them being a couple didn't mean she had to hear them being a couple. Kate made a mental note to lock the door every time she entered Rick's room while he was in it. She had come in to say hi and see what was taking him so long. Now she was causing him to take even more time. She regrettably tore her lips away from his.

"Alexis is waiting for us."

He pouted at her but she wasn't backing down. She laced her fingers with his and drew him out of the room. Alexis was already set up on one of the couches with a blanket covering her legs and remote in hand. There was an identical blanket and bowl of popcorn on the other couch. Alexis looked up at them when they walked in and Kate noticed her eyes immediately locked onto the joined hands. Some people thought hand holding was for kids and teenagers. Kate had never been much of a hand holder before but holding Rick's hand felt right. Kate was tempted to let go of Rick's hand to make the transition easier on Alexis until she saw a twinge of a smile appear on her face. Kate walked over to the couch and Rick, always a gentleman, lifted the popcorn and blanket, gesturing for her to sit first. He covered them with the blanket and then tried to steal all the popcorn but Kate was having none of that. As she snatched the popcorn back Kate noticed the screen changed, indicating Alexis had started the movie.

"So what are we watching?" Kate asked before shoving popcorn into her mouth.

When the young woman gave her a nervous look Kate got worried.

"Umm, Camp Rock."

"Hey, I thought we were watching horror," Rick protested before snuggling closer to Kate in order share, or rather steal, popcorn.

Alexis stuck her tongue out at her father. "You know the rules-first one here gets to pick the movie.

"I haven't seen it Alexis, but I heard it's good." Kate told the young woman.

Alexis shrugged.

"It's a fluffy teen movie but I love it. Besides Dad, you could learn a lot from this movie."

Rick answered after finally swallowing his popcorn. "Like what?"

"If you have a song in your heart and friends and family who care for you, your real life can become your very own fairytale."

Alexis then turned back to the screen as the warnings stopped and the movie started playing. Kate snugged into Rick as he placed his arms around her shoulders and not just so he could have better access to the popcorn.

Her very own fairytale, that's what Kate was witnessing here. For years her real life had been such a nightmare and there had been times when she laid in bed and cried. Every little girl including Kate dreamed of their very own fairytale life. Kate never would have expected hers to turn out quite like this but she was grateful for every aspect of it. Being a slave to her stepmother and stepsisters was all the future Cinderella would have imagined was destined for her. Not that she would one day marry a prince and live in a castle. Princess Jasmine could never have known she would meet and fall in love with a street rat who would take her on a magic carpet ride. The circumstances under which she met Rick were by chance, just like Cinderella and Princess Jasmine. Except Kate's fairytale was better. A prince who was not only charming but ruggedly handsome, two Castles, and she was in for the ride of her life. A whole new world of love and happiness was being shown to her and Kate wanted to savour every minute of it.

The end.

So what did you think? Please review. You never know something you say may spur on a new story from me.