fugaces labuntur anni

the fleeting years glide on

For Alexis

"Katherine, darling. You need to eat."

Martha touches two fingers to the detective's shoulder, feels the sharp cold of skin through the cotton of Richard's shirt where it has worn through with wear. Cadaveric and utterly still, there's barely a ripple of awareness to suggest that Katherine is even aware of Martha's presence. Ever since they lost Richard, the younger woman has been a shadow that haunts the loft, moving from the bed to the window seat and back.

As hard as it is to get by without her son, Martha takes some small comfort in his fiancée's presence. At least they have Katherine, and she has them. At least there's that.

"You haven't eaten all day. And you barely did yesterday either, dear."

Shifting to the side, Katherine presses her forehead to the windowpane and draws her knees in a little closer to her chest like protection. Outside, the city hums with life, the streets swollen with it as people stumble and laugh their way down the sidewalk. "I'm not hungry."

"I know. But you have to eat, honey. If not for you, for the baby."

A hand snakes free from the rolled cuff of Richard's shirt to ghost over the plane of Katherine's abdomen, settling there in a caress that seems to clash with the detachment rolling off of the younger woman. As if only her hand is able to battle through the thick clog of grief to even acknowledge the life within her. "Baby's fine."

"For now, yes. But you need to take care of yourself, Katherine. You need to take care of you, so you can take care of your child." Martha moves to sit at Katherine's feet, curling slender fingers around the detective's ankle and squeezing softly.

"We used to go up to the roof a lot in those first months." Katherine says, settling her head back against the wall and letting her eyes slip closed. Martha yearns for tears, for yelling, for anything other than this insular woman who doesn't even seem to be aware of her own body's movements. "He used to make me look at the sky, even though there were no stars because of the light pollution. And then he took me to the Hamptons and we finally saw them and he said to me see Kate, sometimes the most beautiful things take a little bit of effort to find."


"I don't know how to do this without him." It's flat, monotonous, the core of Katherine's being drawn so close inside there's hardly even a glimpse of who she is. And after over a year of seeing her open and vibrant and so blissfully happy, witnessing her daughter in law's grief is almost worse than contending with Martha's own.

Bringing her hand up to curl over Katherine's knee, Martha waits for the younger woman to meet her eyes. There's none of the rich green that used to flood in whenever Richard was in the room, none of the warmth. A flat, self-conscious brown fringed by lashes bare of makeup so they seem fragile, brittle.

"You are not alone. Not for one moment. You have the guys at the precinct, your father. And Alexis and I. You're family, Katherine."

"Martha." Katherine grits out, lets her hand be ensconced in Martha's. Limp and cold as it is, the powerful chords of strength hum just beneath the surface. "I don't want to do this without him."

"Okay. Well, there are. . .steps that can be taken."

"No." It's the first sign of life from her in a long time, in six weeks, and it sparks through her whole body. "No. This is his child. My last connection to him. I'm not getting rid of the baby."

"Alright, darling." A pause, and Martha decides that Katherine needs the reassurance, even if she won't admit to it. "You know he would have loved this baby so much."

Katherine's teeth cut into her bottom lip as she nods, her eyes flooding with tears. Finally. They spill over, leap for the hard edge of her jaw and Katherine swipes at them with the back of her hand. "I know. We never even talked about it, but I think we both wanted a family someday. I just never imagined he wouldn't be here to do it with me."

And there's nothing, nothing at all that Martha can say to make that easier.

"Mommy." Her little boy grins, climbing up into the bed and crawling across the sheets to her. He throws himself into her arms and presses a smacking kiss to her cheek, leaves a ring of ice cream smeared across her skin. "I love you."

"I love you too, my sweet boy." Kate hums to him, curling her arms to bring him in close and settling her mouth at his temple. He wriggles in her grip, squirmy little thing that he is, and his fist clutches at the fabric of her shirt. The smell of him, the weight of his body in her arms, brings a peace she's been searching for all morning. "Did you have fun at the park with your sister?"

"She did push me so high on the swings." Her son beams, flopping backward onto the mattress in delight. Kate leans in, pushing up his shirt to get at the soft curve of his stomach and blow raspberries until he squirms, clutching at her ears in an attempt to get her off of him.

"She did? Wow. Did you scrape the clouds with your toes?"

The boy frowns, sitting up to splay his palm at her cheek and regard her with too-solemn eyes, a soft mist of cobalt. "No clouds today, Momma."

Right, yeah. That's mostly just pathetic fallacy.

"You're absolutely right, baby." Kate murmurs, opening her arms to him in invitation. Her son curls up in her lap, his head pillowed against her collarbone, and already he's going limp. Little fingers clutch at the rings around her neck, his palm to her scar.

And it helps. It does.

"Momma? You tell me about my daddy?"

Oh. Right. Five years since she cradled Rick against her in the grass and begged him not to leave her. Sometimes even now she wakes in the night to the sound of his voice, her body warm with his embrace. There's some small comfort in the fact that he knew she loved him, that he knew she wanted to marry him.

And now there's this. Their little boy. So in love with life, just like his father.

"Of course I will. You remember you've seen Daddy's books? And photographs?"

Her son arches out of her embrace to snag the framed picture from the nightstand, bringing it in and clutching it in both hands. "This is Daddy and you."

"That's right."

"Daddy's name was Alexander." Her son grins up at her. So proud of himself to have remembered.

Kate peppers kisses all across his cheeks, his forehead, draws his laughter up. So easily. It had seemed impossible, pregnant and grieving her fiancé, but she's actually good at this. She's a good mom for their son, makes him happy. There are no walls around his heart, none at all, and she will do anything in her power to keep it that way.

It feels almost like their son has been cheated out of the amazing experience that is having Rick Castle for a father, and so every day Kate strives to try and love him the way Castle would, make the whole world an adventure.

"Daddy's name was Richard Alexander, that's right." Kate murmurs to their boy, shifting in the bed to lie down with him. Alexis offered to take him out this morning, let Kate have a little time to herself, and she seemed so pleased to be able to help that Kate didn't have the heart to tell her she'd much rather keep her son close.

Especially today.

"My name is because of Daddy's name?" Her son mumbles, lashes drifting like shadows over the pale moon of his face.

Kate cards a hand through his hair, thick curls that spill into his eyes so he huffs and has to push them back. Slipping down, she traces the curve of his cheek, smoothes her thumb along the fullness of his lower lip. "Yes. Your name is Alexander after Daddy."

"Daddy name me?"

This is the worst part. Their son understands that his father is not here now, but he still doesn't quite seem to get that Castle never even knew he existed.

"No, sweetheart. Daddy didn't name you. Your sister did. She wanted you to be named after Daddy, even though that's a little bit silly, isn't it? Because Alexis and Alexander sound so similar."

"I glad I have my daddy's name. Daddy love me?" Ah, she's almost lost him then. Whenever the gentle fingers of sleep curl around her son, he always wants to hear that his family loves him. All of them, even his uncles at the precinct, but he doesn't often mention Rick.

"Yes. Daddy loves you so much. So does Mommy, so does everyone."

Their son burrows down a little closer against her body, limp with sleep and his hand slack at her stomach. "I love you too Momma. And I love Daddy. I wish Daddy was here."

"Oh baby, I know. I wish he was here too."

A/N: I'm sorry, I'm sorry, inhismuse made me do it. Blame her, yell at her.

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Twitter: seilleanmor