" I feel like the writer observing the grief, but it is difficult to be detached from it."
- Hugh Leonard
Rick Castle's breath hitched as he caught sight of what lay behind the door. He had not been expecting that. Not at all. "Hey!" He said quickly, holding his hands up in surrender, trying not to look threatening in any way. "Beckett! Its a kid!" He yelled behind him. He could hear the quickening of Kate Beckett's footsteps and dropped down to the child's level. She looked absolutely terrified. "Hi sweetie, my name's Rick." He scooted forward, crawling partly into the closet.
"Castle?" Kate called out as she, Ryan and Esposito entered the bedroom.
Kate walked over and glanced down, seeing the little girl huddled into herself in the corner of the closet. There was blood on her face. "Castle?" She repeated warily.
He glanced up and nodded to her, holding his arms out to the girl. "It's okay sweetie, come here, I got you." The girl hesitated, clearly not trusting either of them, regardless of the fact that they were cops; well, that Kate was a cop. Finally, she moved forward and allowed Castle to lift her up into his arms. She was surprisingly light, dark brown, matted curly hair, dirty clothes, pale skin, much to thin. She clutched his neck with a grip that surprised him considering her tiny frame. Castle carried her out of the cluttered apartment with Kate following him; they descending the stairs and went out to the cars. The little girl never spoke a word as he placed her into the backseat and climbed in next to her. Kate pulled out and drove back to the station after giving a nod to Ryan and Esposito.
Minutes later, the little girl looked very out of place on the interview room couch. She had yet to speak a word or look anyone in the eye. "Do you think she saw?" Castle asked softly to Kate. She turned around and glanced into the room with a deep sigh.
"Most of me hopes not, but yeah, I think she did Castle and we need to know what she saw."
"I know." Castle said solemnly. "We can at least feed her right? She looks like she hasn't eaten for days."
"I already ordered a pizza." Kate said with a small grin. Castle returned it, but neither were sincere. The situation sucked to much to actually be happy. The two of them walked into the room quietly, the little girl looked up at them, then instantly back down to her hands. Kate and Castle sat down, Kate across from her and Castle next to her. "Hi, can you tell us your name sweetie?"
"Emily." She whispered, not looking up at her.
"Emily, that's very pretty, I'm Detective Beckett, but you can call me Kate if you want okay?"
Castle leaned forward with a smile. "I'm Rick." He whispered.
"Hi." She whispered back.
"How old are you?"
"Ten. I mean...no eleven."
"You don't remember?" Castle joked. He couldn't believe this tiny girl was eleven, she looked closer to eight or nine at the most.
"My birthday was three days ago." Emily explained.
Kate watched them, marveling once again at how good Castle was with children. "Emily, we need to ask you a couple of questions if you don't mind." Emily nodded, refusing to look up at either of them. "Can you tell us what happened today?"
Emily fidgeted with her hands, taking a deep breath. "My mom's friends came over, they were really mad at her and they had guns. They shot her leg and I screamed and ran into the closet. They just keep yelling at each other, my mom kept saying she didn't have it. And they shot her again, then they left. I looked out and...she was all bloody, the phone doesn't work, so I couldn't call 911. I just went back in the closet."
"That was really helpful Emily, thank you." Kate said warmly. Emily looked up and gave her a light smile. "Do you know what the men were looking for?"
Emily shrugged. "Probably drugs or money, that's usually what her friends want."
Castle shot a concerned look at Kate while Emily picked at a hole her jeans. Her pants were much to small for her and her shirt was much too big, both were dirty. There was a knock on the door and Ryan opened it, a pizza box held in his hands. "Half cheese, half pepperoni." He announced with a smile. Emily looked up, a feral look of hunger in her eyes that broke Castle's heart. He leapt up and took the box from Ryan, opening it and taking a large piece.
"Want some?" He asked with a childlike grin.
Emily hesitated a moment, and Castle handed Kate a piece as well. Confused she frowned at him. He began making exaggerated noises proclaiming the deliciousness of the pizza. Kate caught on and joined in while Emily licked her lips subconsciously but made no attempts to take a slice. Kate held out a piece to her and she finally took it, shoving such a large bite into her mouth that she choked. Castle acted quickly and with the reflexes of a parent who had pulled food and objects out of children's mouths before, and freed her airway.
"Sorry." She whispered as she caught her breath.
"Not a problem, perhaps smaller bites?" He offered. Emily nodded and picked the pizza up again, clearly having not eaten for days. "Hey Emily, is there a number we can call to reach your dad?" Castle asked casually. At the look on Emily's face, Kate reached out and kicked him in the shins under the table.
"He died when I was two."
"I'm sorry." Castle said softly.
Emily shrugged again, stuffing pizza into her mouth. "S'ok." She mumbled with her mouth full. "I don't remember him."
They ate in silence for a few more minutes. Emily ate four slices of pizza before Castle stopped her. He knew what happened when kids stuffed themselves. He had dealt with the aftermath before and it hadn't been pleasant. He shot glances over at Kate frequently. A little girl witnessing her mother's murder wouldn't sit well with Beckett at all. He could see it on her face.
"Emily? Is there someone else we can call? A grandparent or an aunt, uncle? Someone like that?" Kate asked.
Emily shook her head and dropped her eyes to the floor. "No. My mom didn't have any brothers or sisters. I don't think I have grandparents. I never met anyone. It was just me and my mom...when she was around."
"Okay." Kate said grimly. She nodded to Castle and rose from her seat. "We're going to call..."
Emily interrupted her. "DCFS. I know." She said with a sigh.
Kate looked a little taken aback, but walked out of the room with Castle, asking one of the younger beat cops to sit with Emily.
"She knows what DCFS is? That's never a good sign." Castle said.
"Ryan, what have you got on our vic?" Kate asked.
"Virginia Donnelley, age 26, multiple arrests for solicitation, underage drinking, possession of narcotics, and the building manager said it was pretty well known that she was a prostitute. Pimps and dealers came in and out of that place all the time, not just her apartment either, the whole building is full of women and men just like her. Social services had been called more than once, Emily spent time with foster families twice; once when she was two after the father, Gary Maguire, died in a shooting she stayed with the family for six months. Again when she was six, she stayed with another family just shy of a year before her mother cleaned up her act and got her back." Ryan read of the computer grimly. He looked over his shoulder and caught a glance at the little girl. Shaking his head in frustration, he turned back around to Beckett and Castle.
"She was only 26? That means she only had Emily at 15. Is there any mention of other family? Someone who can actually take care of this kid?" Castle asked angrily.
Ryan shook his head. "No, no one. Gary's mother died when he was a kid and his father died two years ago, from the looks of it, he was never in Emily's life. Virginia's parents disowned her when she got pregnant and both died a few years ago. The father from a heart attack and the mother was in a car accident a couple years back, right around the time Emily went into foster care the second time. There isn't anyone else."
Castle watched the social worker walk through the elevators, barely hearing Kate speak. "Castle?"
"I said do you want to go with me to talk to her friends? These girls tend to work in groups. Safety in numbers and all, she might have had a pimp, maybe she was holding out cash on him."
"Humm? Oh um...yeah." Castle said, keeping his eyes on Emily.
"Castle?" Kate asked again. "I know this sucks, but we've still got to find out who killed Virginia."
"I know." He said, not looking back at Kate.
She sighed and gave his arm a small tug. He followed her out of the precinct without a word. Kate didn't blame him. She wanted to go home, curl into a ball and throw the covers over her head too. Thankfully, not many of their cases involved children, but any was one too many. And a little girl loosing her mother cut too close to home for Kate to even think about. Especially with everything that had been going on recently, and her mother's birthday coming up. The only way she would make it though was to block it out. Social services would deal with Emily and Kate would do what she could to find justice for her mother. Unfortunately, from the sound of things, she didn't appear to have been much of one, but Kate only knew a few facts and couldn't judge on them alone. Virginia clearly had a rough life. Becoming pregnant as a teenager couldn't be easy at all, especially if your parents disowned you. Right now, Kate couldn't afford to think about it. That would come later, tonight, she was sure. It would hit her late at night and she would deal with it then, right now, she was going to do her job.
Castle swung his apartment door open with vigor and sighed deeply.
"Dad?" Alexis asked, a concerned look on her face. "Are you..." He cut her off, wrapping her up in a very tight hug. "Umm...Dad? Should I be concerned about something?"
"No. I just need to hug you." He admitted, not loosening his grip.
"Richard darling, smothering your children will not bring you good press for your new novel." Martha said as she waltzed into the room.
Castle glared at her, kissed Alexis' forehead and headed into the kitchen, finally realizing how hungry he truly was. This had been a day. He couldn't get the image of Emily's sad little face as the social worker had lead her out of the precinct earlier that afternoon out of his head. There hadn't been any foster families available and she would be spending the night in a group home. As a father, it gutted Rick. He smiled at Alexis as she followed him into the kitchen.
"Leftover chinese." She offered.
"Ah, and this is why I love you." He smirked. Alexis frowned, she could tell he wasn't genuine.
"Dad? What happened today? Bad case?"
Castle popped a container of vegetable lo mein into the microwave and poured himself a glass of wine. He leaned onto the counter and looked at Alexis, Martha entered the room behind her and listened in. Castle sighed. "A little girl witnessed the murder of her mother, who was already neglectful and she has nowhere to go, no family and she...she's just...I don't know, its not fair."
Alexis frown deepened. "That's awful." She said quietly.
"How old was she?" Martha asked.
"Just turned eleven three days ago."
"Oh the poor dear." Martha said, dropping into her seat dramatically.
"I just can't get her face out of my head you know?" Castle said as he pulled his heated up food out of the microwave. "I just wish there was something more I could do."
"Well like what dear?" Martha asked.
"I don't know!" Castle said in frustration. "But...something, its...the world should not be that unfair."
"Well...maybe, I could give her some of my old clothes and toys or something?" Alexis offered. Castle set his container down on the counter and stared at his daughter in awe. Where had this wonderful young woman come from? He smiled lovingly at her.
"That's very sweet of you Alexis." He said proudly.
She shrugged, a little embarrassed at his fawning and slid out of the seat. "Not a big deal. I'll pack some stuff up, you can take it over this weekend?"
"Thank you sweetie." Castle called after her.
Kate twirled a piece of her hair that was falling out of her bun. She had been staring at this case file for at least twenty minutes and hadn't absorbed a bit of it. Castle had been weird all week. Quiet, not joking, the jokes he did make sounded forced or weak and she caught him lost in thought more than once. They had solved Virginia Donnelley's murder yesterday, two men she had stolen drugs from had broken in and shot her. Castle being off his game caused her to be off her game and it annoyed her. She was fully prepared to call him out on it if he ever got his ass into work. Looking up, she saw him plop down in his chair next to her.
"Hey." He said, the smile didn't reach his eyes as he dropped a small coffee onto her desk.
"Castle? What's up with you?" Kate asked, taking a sip of her coffee and getting right to the point.
"This? What? Are you okay?" Kate asked sincerely.
"Yeah." He said unconvincingly. Kate glared at him. "I..." He started to say something, but clearly decided against it. Changing the subject quickly, Kate resolved to ask him about it later. "Have you heard anything about Emily?"
"Yeah, Alexis put together a bag of some stuff, old clothes, some toys a couple of books. I wanted to take them over to her, is she still at the group home? East side it was called right?"
Kate was taken aback. He gotten together a bunch of stuff for a little girl he met once for approximately an hour. She should stop being surprised at how big of a heart he had. But he never failed to make her look at him differently. So that was it. Emily. Kate had been having a hard time getting the little girl out of her mind as well, but she hadn't thought to give her anything. "Umm...yeah, last I heard."
"Okay, do you need me today?"
Kate felt her eyes widen. He wasn't going to stay? "Um..no, just paperwork, which you never help with anyway." She joked hoping to hide the slight hurt that he was leaving.
"Great! I'm gonna take Alexis' stuff over to her. Call me if we get a case?"
"Of course." Kate said with a small smile. He leapt up and all but ran out of the precinct. Kate glanced at the coffee on her desk and let out a sigh. Turning back to her paperwork, she ignored the looks she could feel coming from Ryan and Esposito across from her. "Its not gonna write itself guys." She called to them without looking up. She could hear them scrambling to get back to work and grinned to a little to herself. At least some things still felt normal.
He couldn't get her to smile.
That was the first thing he noticed. He had sort of expected that, but it bothered him all the same. She had been cleaned up, but her clothes still didn't fit, they were mostly too big now. Her short hair fell into her face and she never bothered to push it away. Castle fought the urge to reach out and tuck it back for her. She sat quietly, looking at the floor rather than him. He wasn't exactly sure what to say, he loved kids, he knew how to talk to kids...but not kids that were this broken. This was a new level and he was in over his head.
That had never been something that stopped him before; if anything else, it only made him more determined to break through to her.
"I brought you some of my daughter's things. She's grown out of them. Some clothes, toys, books, stuff like that."
She looked up and met his eyes for the first time in fifteen minutes. "You've got a daughter?" She asked, her stoic expression softening a little.
He nodded, quickly taking advantage of the fact that she was finally talking to him. "Alexis, she's eighteen, gonna be off to college in the fall."
They were both silent.
"You're sad." Emily said a moment later.
"You looked sad when you said your daughter was gonna move." Emily explained.
"Oh, well, yeah I'll miss her. I don't know what I'm gonna do without her around everyday." He admitted. Emily didn't say anything, and began picking through the bag. She pulled out a frayed copy of Harry Potter and grinned to herself. Castle beamed. He had an in. "The seventh one's the best."
"I've only read the first five." Emily said with a small frown. "But I saw all the movies."
"Don't compare." Castle scoffed. "Decent movies, but the books are a million times better. I'll get you the sixth and seventh."
"Is this one your daughter's?" Emily asked, running her fingers gingerly over the cover.
Castle nodded. "She's got another copy. We wore through them. I used to read them out loud. All of them actually, even when she was old enough to read them by herself, we made an exception for Harry. I'm good at doing different voices." He said a little proud of himself.
"You're a weird cop." Emily said as she studied his face. Castle squirmed a little under her gaze, it reminded him eerily of how Kate would look at him. Take him all in, like she could somehow know what he was thinking whether he wanted her to or not. If Emily had that look down by eleven, she was going to be a force to be reckoned with.
"That's cause I'm not a cop."
That seemed to catch her off guard. "You're not?"
"Nope. Beckett's the cop, I'm the writer."
Emily scrunched up her nose adorably and frowned, contemplating his words. "How come you work with cops then if you write books?"
"I needed a muse, Beckett worked. My novels are kind of based off of her, well, the recent ones."
"She's a character?"
Castle nodded, thrilled that they finally had some semblance of a conversation going. She leaned forward interested in what he was saying. "Nikki Heat."
"That's a stripper name." Emily said with a grimace.
"It its not! And you're eleven don't talk about strippers."
"Mr Castle, I'm an eleven year old who's mother was a hooker, I know all about sex and strippers and drugs, don't talk to me like a little kid." She said with a glare.
Saddened, Castle nodded. "You don't look eleven. You look about nine."
"Well I'm not." Emily hissed through gritted teeth. "I'm eleven and I'm not stupid."
"I never indicated that you were, I just don't like that you know about certain things."
"Like fucking people for money or drugs?"
Castle froze and stared at her. He could see it all over her face, she had sworn on purpose to get a reaction out of him. She was testing him. He had no clue what the test entailed, only that it was there. He wanted to scold her and as he watched her, he realized she wanted him to as well.
"Don't swear." He said firmly but calmly. "And yes, that would be one thing I would rather you not know so much about."
"You're a weirdo Mr Castle."
"Just call me Rick."
"Fine, Rick, why are you here? Just to give me this stuff?"
"And to see how you are."
"My mom's dead, I live in this shithole and I have to go back to school. My life fucking sucks." Emily stood up and crossed her arms, standing over him and waiting. She thought swearing would make her seem older, tougher, but it didn't, it just made her look more like the small, broken little girl that she was. He held her gaze. Her eyes looked like they had seen much too much of the world in much too little time. He desperately wanted to hug her, instead he smiled lightly and handed her the bag again.
"I'll come back and visit you. Bring the rest of the Harry Potter books, call me if you need anything, anytime." He pulled out a piece of paper and wrote his cell phone number on it, pressing it into Emily's tiny hands. "Even if you just want to talk to someone, or even if you don't." He knew she wouldn't want a hug, but he reached out and pat her arm before walking out of the room.
Kate watched Castle joke with Ryan and Esposito. His eyes weren't doing that light up twinkle thing she normally saw and she didn't like that at all. He wasn't acting like her Castle anymore and it was throwing her off a bit. If nothing else, Castle was talkative, he told her everything, even things she didn't want to know, but he wasn't talking to her right now and she was about ready to smack him for it.
"Girl, I have yelled your name three times, you better look at me." Lanie chastised.
Kate quickly turned to a very annoyed looking Lanie and made her face look adequately ashamed. "Sorry, what did you say?"
Lanie just shook her head. "Girl, jump his damn bones already you are all driving me nuts."
"Lanie, I...I don't want..." Kate bit her lip, there was no point in denying it to Lanie. "I don't just want to jump his bones as you so crudely put it. I'm worried about him." She could at least admit that much.
"He is being weird." Lanie said as she cocked her head to the side and studied the three men. "Probably cause of Alexis."
"She's my intern, we talk." Lanie scoffed. "She's moving away to college and he's freaking out. Empty nest syndrome or whatever. That man isn't going to know what to do with himself by the time fall rolls around."
"Oh, that must be hard." Kate bit her lip and kept her eyes on Castle.
"He needs to get the hell over it, kids grow up." Lanie said with a shrug as she rose from her seat.
Kate rolled her eyes at her friend. "You're so understanding Lanie." She said sarcastically.
"I know." Lanie smirked as she sauntered away. Kate just shook her head and went back to watching Castle. She didn't quite know how to help him. She wasn't a parent, she had no idea what he was feeling. She settled on coffee and food. She could handle that. Properly caffeinating and feeding him, that she could do. She got up from her seat with newfound determination.
"If, at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it."
"Castle?" Kate asked, waving her hand in front of his face. He had spaced out for the third time during their lunch and frankly she was a little sick of being ignored.
"Sorry." He said genuinely.
Great, now she couldn't yell at him. "Castle, will you just tell me what's up? Is this about Alexis?"
He sighed and picked up his coffee, not quite meeting her eyes. "Yes...no..." He said. Kate raised her eyebrows at him and he laughed lightly. First time she had seen him actually smile in days. "Kind of. I mean, part of it is Alexis, I have no idea what I'm going to do with myself once fall rolls around. I'm trying not to think about it actually, she promised we would hang out a bunch this summer but...I mean its gonna suck." He trailed off.
"What else?" Kate asked warily.
"I keep thinking about Emily. I went and visited her and she just...she's so little and she's trying not to be and its not fair that she doesn't have anyone."
"No, its not." Kate whispered.
"What if..." He trailed off again, waving his hand he sipped his coffee and looked back out the window.
"Nothing, its dumb never mind."
Kate was about to press him on it when her phone rang. Sighing, she picked it up. "Beckett...yeah...yeah, we'll be right there." She hung up and glanced across the table to Castle. "We've got a body." She explained. He nodded and stood up, following her out to the car.
"Gruesome?" He asked, some of his childish glee coming back.
Kate smirked. "No idea."
Gruesome didn't even quite cover it, odd definitely did. A man was stuffed behind an industrial freezer. Not in the freezer, but behind it, pressed up against the wall in what would have been an extremely uncomfortable position had he been alive. Castle was ecstatic, almost back to his old self, bouncing ridiculous theory after another. Kate was too happy seeing him happy to bother shuting him down. She let him go on and on until he suggested ninja spies for the millionth time.
"One day it will happen, today might be that day." Castle protested as they walked back into the station.
"Castle, the day it turns out to be ninja assassin spies...I will...hell I don't even know. It will never be ninjas." Kate said with a smirk.
"You are gonna be so mad when it is and you have to shave your head."
"I'm sorry, what? Shave my head?" Kate asked. Castle grinned like an oversized five year old and Kate glared at him. "I will not be shaving my head, pick something else."
He frowned and thought about it for a second before snapping his fingers and grinning. "You will have to buy me dinner."
"Yep, something expensive...lobster! I expect lobster, and to be wined and dined and bragging rights for life. Ryan! Is it ninjas?" He asked excitedly as Ryan and Esposito walked over to them. Kate hid her smile at the thought of wining and dining with Castle.
"No." He said with a straight face.
Kate smirked. "No lobster for you."
"One day Katherine Beckett." Castle said firmly, pointing his finger at her. She kept her half glare on her face and crossed her arms, waiting for him to finish. "One day, you shall buy my lobster and there will be ninjas."
"Uhm hum. Let's talk actual theories." Kate said as she turned back to Ryan and Esposito. Castle pouted and sat down. Kate stopped herself from reaching over and rubbing his back and grinned to herself.
"Richard! I am having a couple of people over for dinner tomorrow night, make yourself scarce." Martha said the second Castle walked through the door. He glared at her.
"Mother, this is my house." He reminded her.
"And a party would do you good, you've been a real downer lately. You can come only if you bring Kate." Martha said giving Castle a wink. Castle deepened his glare and walked away from her, crossing his fingers and wishing she would magically evaporate or something. "Richard!" She yelled, following him. No such luck.
"Mother, did you ever want more children?" He asked her abruptly.
"What? No... Why are you asking me this?" Martha said with a frown.
"Its just a question." Castle said trying to appear casual.
Martha stared at him and he squirmed a little under her gaze. "Richard, what is this about?"
He sighed in frustration and ran his fingers through his hair. "Honestly? I don't know."
Martha sat down on a stool, dramatically smoothing down her dress and waving her hands for him to continue. "Try me."
Castle leaned over onto the counter. "I...well, I can't get that little girl Emily out of my head. I went and visited her again the other day, gave her the rest of the Harry Potter books and she was...I don't know. I want to do something more." He explained.
"You're back." Emily said, looking somewhat shocked as she saw Castle standing in front of her.
"I said I would be." Castle said with a grin. "I brought you the other two books." He held them out to her. She stared, they were brand new. No one had ever bought her a book of her own before.
"Thanks." Emily said suddenly feeling shy. "So..."
"How are things going?" He asked.
Emily glared at him. "Fucking fantastic." She said sarcastically.
He frowned at her cursing, but ignored it. "I...want to go get ice cream? Am I allowed to take you out for a while?"
Emily shrugged. "I doubt it. Why?"
"Go put those in your room, I'll ask." He ran off and Emily stood there awkwardly before turning and walking up to her room. She had no idea why this guy was being so nice to her. She didn't trust him, she didn't trust anyone, but getting out of East Side even for half an hour sounded great. She walked back down to the lobby and found him practically bouncing up and down with excitement.
"We can go!" He announced. "Come on." He held his arm out and she ignored it, walking past him.
"I don't have any money." She admitted as they walked outside.
"My treat." He said with a bright smile.
They walked in silence for a few minutes, Emily didn't know what to say to him and frankly, she didn't want to make small talk. If she didn't have something to say, she didn't see the point in talking. Clearly from the way Rick was fidgeting, he was not so comfortable with silence. "Why are you being so nice to me? If this is pity ice cream for the poor orphan girl with a dead mom I don't really want it." She finally said before they walked into the ice cream shop.
He paused and turned his body to face hers. "Its not pity ice cream." He said firmly. "Though I do feel bad about your situation, I just...I wanted to do something for you." He admitted.
"Why? And that sounds a little like pity."
"Because you seem like a nice kid, and no one deserves what you're going through."
"Well...thanks or whatever I guess." Emily said awkwardly.
"No problem, what's your favorite flavor?" He asked happily as he held the door open for her.
"Mint chocolate chip."
"Really? Good choice." They got their ice creams in cones and took the long way back to East Side Children's Center. Castle got her talking a little after a while and once they started discussing the Harry Potter books, he really got a conversation going. "You've got to read more before you judge Snape, you'll see what I'm talking about." He insisted for the second time.
"No way, Snape is an asshole. Nothing he ever does will make me like him, not even if he saved Harry or anything, cause it would probably be fake."
"Just read the rest of them. I'll come back and you can apologize to me for slandering Snape's name."
"No way." Emily said with a grin.
"You are gonna feel like such a jerk once you figure everything out." He teased her.
"You're gonna spoil it if your don't shut up!" Emily yelled, a smile on her face as she smacked him on the arm. Her social worker looked up at them and Emily sighed, dreading having to go back in. "Well...thanks for the ice cream Mr Castle. I'll pay you back." She insisted quickly.
"Nope, you'll just owe me another ice cream date, and its Rick." He reminded her. "I'll see you later okay?"
"Sure." Emily said, not quite believing him, but wanting to. She gave him a little wave and walked inside. He sighed as he watched her go.
"I just...she's a good kid Mother. She's smart and funny and the system sucks and I don't want her stuck in it. She doesn't have anyone."
Martha studied her son, she hadn't seen him this upset and frustrated about something since Kate had been shot months before. "So...are you going to what, become this girl's friend or mentor or something?" She asked, trying to understand. "Is this about Alexis going to college? You want to feel needed?"
"No! Well...maybe a little, but its also about her. I don't know...well I had a thought but...its a bit...well its extreme."
"What is it?"
"She could live here." Castle said softly.
Martha didn't say a word, she just stared at him, for a second he thought she hadn't heard him, until she started yelling. "HERE? You want to take some orphan in and let her live here? Richard? Are you truly thinking this though? You know nothing about this child, you...you want to adopt her?"
"No I just...I could foster her...I have money Mother, and room, and Alexis turned out pretty well...I'm good with kids I just." He trailed off for a minute, trying to explain to his mother this weird need of his. "She doesn't have anyone, everyone should have someone, I can take care of her. I...I want to take care of her."
"You've known this child all of what two weeks? Richard...this is a big decision." Martha said a little more gently.
"I know! Believe me I know, I've been thinking about it a lot though and...I want to do this."
"Do what?" Alexis asked as she walked into the room. Castle froze and Martha turned to him, waiting for his reaction. Alexis noticed their odd looks and frowned. "What's going on?"
"Sit down honey." Castle ordered.
"Is someone dead?" Alexis asked worriedly.
"No. No one is dead." Castle assured her. "I just have something big to ask, well, talk to you about, get your opinion on. Its just an idea."
"Okay..." Alexis said waiting.
"Do you remember Emily?"
"The kid we gave my old stuff to? Yeah, is she okay?"
"Well, physically yes, but she doesn't have any other relatives and the social workers are having a hard time placing her with a family."
"That's what I thought." Castle said, moving to sit down across from Alexis and ignoring his mother's look. "I had a crazy thought that maybe she could live here, with us. At least until they find her a more permanent placement, that children's home is horrible and we've got the room. I would never do it if you didn't want to, but I wanted to know what you thought about it."
Alexis remained silent and Castle nervously waited for her reaction. He had no idea what to expect. "You want to like be her foster parent?"
Alexis was silent for a minute or two.
"Well...are you going to be doing this regularly?" She asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Like a bunch of foster kids coming and staying here?"
"No, nothing like that, just her...just letting her stay with us until they find her a permanent placement."
"Oh...well then..." Alexis bit her lower lip and looked at her father. "Then I think its a good idea." She smiled.
"Really?" He had no idea what to expect, but he really wasn't expecting that.
"Yeah. If more people were like you then the world would be a better place, I can help set up the guest room, and I always wanted a little sister, it might be fun for a while."
Castle reached over and hugged Alexis tightly, grinning like a madman while Martha rolled her eyes. "You are awesome." He said. Alexis laughed.
"I know." She said with a smirk. "What does Beckett think about it?" She asked. Castle's smile immediately dropped while Martha roared with laughter.
Kate looked up and grinned as she saw Castle making his way towards her. "Hey." She greeted him as he dropped a cup of coffee onto her desk. "How are you?"
"Are you busy right now?" He asked, nervously running his fingers through his hair. Immediately, Kate grew worried.
"No, why what's up?" She asked, trying to appear casual.
"I...can I get your opinion on something?"
"Of course Castle, what's going on?"
He plopped down into his seat and sighed deeply. Kate waited – rather impatiently – for him to continue. He was silent a moment or two, trying to figure out how to explain himself, then finally decided to just jump in. "So I'm thinking of fostering Emily for a while and wondered what you thought of that." He said quickly, then turned and stared at Kate.
She was completely shocked. Of all the things he could have said...that was not what she had been expecting.
"I'm sorry, what?" She asked.
He sighed again and leaned forward. "She's a good kid Kate, and she doesn't have anyone. I've been over to visit her a couple of times..."
She interrupted him. "A couple? I thought you just went the one time?"
"No, I went back to give her the rest of the Harry Potter books and we went out for ice cream twice."
"Oh." Kate had no idea he had grown so attached. "Okay, go on." She prompted once she realized he was waiting for her to process things.
He nodded and got excited. She couldn't help but smile at him. His excitement and enthusiasm was infectious. She bit her lip as he continued, wanting to actually hear him out.
"Well, that place is horrible. She shares a room with four other girls, she's stuffed into this tiny corner and they're all older than her and they take her stuff and pick on her and...its just not a good place to live. Her social worker hasn't been able to find a placement yet and I figure...I've got plenty of money and plenty of room and I'm a writer, I can do that anywhere so I've got plenty of time. I mean, she'll be in school for another month or so, and once summer rolls around, I can cut back my time here a little if I need to." He lowered his voice as he said that and Kate had to forcibly work on keeping her face neutral. She didn't want him to cut back on anything. She wanted him here all the time; but she simply bit her lip harder and nodded for him to go on. "Well, I...I think I could help her. She tries really hard to act tough and like she doesn't care, but I can tell she does." He glanced away and sipped his coffee. "She actually reminds me a lot of you..." He said softly. Kate's eyes widened and she bit down on her lip even harder. If she didn't cut it out she would draw blood. Castle wanted to take in a little girl who reminded him of her? Christ. He was silent for a few minutes, Kate just watched him, waiting to see if he was done or not. "I...what do you think?" He asked after a while.
It was Kate's turn to sigh. "I think...I think its a big responsibility Castle. She's...she's not a normal little kid. She's had a really rough life, including recently watching her mother being murdered..."
"Yeah, but I figured maybe you could help with that part." He said with a small smile on his face.
"Well, yeah, you're my partner." He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "I'm not doing this if you don't think its a good idea. I've only talked to the social worker, Alexis and Mother. I haven't mentioned anything to Emily yet or even hinted at it. I don't want to get her hopes up and not deliver. I want your opinion."
Kate wasn't sure if she heard him correctly. "What?"
"They only let single people foster kids if they've got enough money, time and a good support system, you're my support system. It actually works to my advantage that you're a cop." He said with a grin.
"You talked about me to the social worker?"
"Of course." He shrugged. Kate leaned back in her chair in shock. She had no idea how to respond to that. "So...?" He asked after a minute.
"Humm?" Kate looked up at his waiting face. "Oh..sorry." She sat up straight and looked at him. "I...Rick, I think you might get really attached and she might break your heart." She said honestly.
"Then I get a broken heart and hers gets fixed." He shrugged.
Kate knew her face looked astonished. She couldn't hide that. How could he be so amazing? Not trusting herself to say anything else right now, she shifted his attention off of herself. "What do Martha and Alexis think?" She choked out.
"Ah, Mother is not so enthralled by the idea, I think she's thinking the same as you." He frowned. "Also, I think she's afraid Emily will make off with her valuables...but Alexis is surprisingly very on board with the whole thing. She's says she's always wanted a little sister and it will be fun. But, I want to know what you thought." He reached out and almost grabbed Kate's hand, but stopped himself, something Kate took notice of. "I'm not stupid enough to think this is going to be easy, I know she's got a lot of very real problems and I know its temporary, but...but I need to do this. I don't quite know why, but I want to help her and I'd love for you to help me."
Desperately needing the whole situation to be a hell of a lot lighter than it was, Kate joked. "What, is this some weird proposal to adopt a kid together Castle? You gonna get her than make me take care of her while you go out and do idiotic things?" She laughed. It worked, Castle beamed and she melted just a little bit.
"I assure you Katherine Beckett, when I ask you to start a family with me, you'll know." He said with a causal smirk. Before Kate had the chance to even move or contemplate the meaning in that sentence his joking quickly went back to serious. "Honestly though, what do you think?"
Kate wasn't sure she could think right now. If she heard everything correctly, he had basically said they would have a family together one day and that...that brought on a whole lot more than she could handle at this particular moment. Knowing...knowing that he loved her, that he had no idea she felt the same way...it was a little too much to be talking about children. She bit her lip, this time, tasting blood. "I think you are already an amazing father and she would be lucky to have you in her life for any amount of time." She said genuinely. "It sounds like you've already seriously thought about it and your not just impulsively jumping into things. I think its a good idea." She smiled at him and his face exploded into a grin.
"I shall expect you to babysit from time to time." He said pointing his finger at her as he jumped up and began to run down the hall. "Call me if we get a case!" And with that, he was in the elevator and gone, leaving a very stunned Kate sitting at her desk.
Ryan and Esposito chose that particular moment to walk in. "What's with him?" Esposito asked.
"He's going to be a father." Kate murmured into her coffee.
Ryan choked on his own cup and Kate glanced up at him with a frown. "You're pregnant?" He sputtered.
Kate just stared at him while Esposito's jaw dropped. "NO!" She screamed. "He's fostering Emily, what would I have to do with anything? Why would you..." Kate couldn't keep talking, she shot him her worst glare and stormed out of the bullpen.
Esposito kicked Ryan. "You dumb shit." He said while Ryan wiped the spilt coffee off his tie. "Man, what is wrong with you?"
"I didn't...I mean I just...god, she's going to murder me isn't she?"
"Yeah man, it was nice knowing ya." Esposito clapped him on the back and walked away chuckling to himself.
"But, she won't really kill me." Ryan nervously laughed. "Right? Esposito? Wait!" Ryan ran after him. "She won't really!"
"Cause it will be way better than living here." Castle said with a soft smile. Emily didn't look up at him. Her gaze had been directed at her shoes since he and her social worker, Tony, had begun talking to her that afternoon. Somehow, he had imagined this part would be easier. "And we're friends right? Friends do nice things for each other."
"This is pity." Emily said through gritted teeth as she finally looked up at him. She was pissed.
"No. This is not pity." He said firmly. "Do you like living here?" He asked. She shook her head, he knew she couldn't deny that one. "My loft is huge, you can have your own room, I've got a huge tv, tons of books and laser tag. My daughter, Alexis, can't wait to meet you; neither can my mother. I'd love for you to come stay with us."
Emily picked at the chipping green nail polish on her thumb and bit her lip. Castle almost laughed out loud but stopped himself. She looked a lot like Beckett in that moment. Finally, after what felt like hours to Castle, she looked up. "Fine." She muttered quietly.
"This is gonna be awesome." Castle grinned and clapped his hands together. "I vote ice cream for lunch. Get your things!"
Everything was so new and expensive looking. Emily didn't want to touch anything in fear she would break something. Her mom's place had been a dump. Rick was bouncing on his toes in excitement, showing her everything in sight. Emily had smiled shyly and curtsied at his mother. She thought it was polite. The older woman had cackled and pulled her into a hug.
"You and I are gonna get along just fine." She had said. "Call me Martha."
Emily pulled away the second Martha had released her. Rick's daughter seemed really nice. Nothing like the older girls at East Side, or the ones who had lived on her block. She took her upstairs and showed Emily her room. It felt bigger to her than her whole old apartment ever had.
"We can get you anything you want. If you want different sheets or something, or a different color on the wall. In fact, I'll bet Dad's hoping you do, he loves to paint and do stuff like that. My room's been seven different colors." Alexis said with a smile. She sat down on what was apparently going to be Emily's bed. "You're eleven right?" She asked. Emily nodded. "Are you in sixth grade?"
"No. Fifth. I'll be in sixth in the fall." Emily whispered.
"Oh, that's right, I think I turned eleven in fifth grade too."
"What grade are you in?" Emily asked. Unsure of what else to say. She had never been very good at talking to older kids unless she was yelling at them to fuck off and leave her stuff alone. Otherwise she always felt really little and dumb.
"I'm almost done. College in the fall." Alexis said happily. "And you'll be in middle school!"
"Yeah." Emily said unenthusiastically. She hated school, she skipped most days when she could get away with it.
There was a bit of an awkward silence. "Well, I'll let you unpack your stuff and get settled in. Just yell or come find me when you're done. My room's right down the hall. Then we'll find something fun to do, sound good?" Alexis asked.
"Sure." Emily whispered. Alexis left the room and Emily shut the door. The walls were white and mostly bare. This had clearly been a guest bedroom. Emily set her beat up suitcase down on the ground and shoved her clothes into the drawers. They only took up one drawer. She sighed and pulled the books Rick had given her out and stacked them on top of the dresser. Then pulled out her raggedy stuffed koala bear and set him on the bed. She sat down herself and looked around the room. It was weird thinking this was hers for a while. She didn't really know what to make of it. She didn't know why this nice family wanted her here bothering them. Her own mother always told her to get lost, why did strangers suddenly want her around?
Thinking about her mother only made her begin to cry and angrily she wiped the tears away. Virginia Donnelley didn't deserve her tears. She had been a shit mom anyway. Emily stood up and walked out of the room, in search of a bathroom. Finding one, she quickly splashed some cold water on her face to make sure no one could tell she had been crying, then unsure of what else to do, went to find Alexis.
The redhead was laying on her bed reading a book. She looked up and grinned at Emily as she stood in the doorway. "Hey!" She said, spinning around and sitting upright. "Did you find everything okay?"
"Well, I vote we go shopping or something tomorrow, Gram would love to take us. We can get you a whole new wardrobe!"
Emily shrugged. She hated shopping but it was Alexis' house if that's what she wanted to do then fine.
"You hungry?" Alexis asked. Emily shrugged again. She was starving, the food at East Side sucked. "I'm starving, we can order in, what kind of food do you like?" Alexis hopped off the bed and walked over to Emily, surprising the brunette as she took her hand and continued on downstairs. "Pizza? Chinese? Tai? Subs? Italian? Whatever you want, I'm in the mood for anything so long as I get to eat." Alexis laughed. Emily marveled in the fact that the older girl was still holding her hand. No one had ever held her hand 'just because' that she could remember. It was weird, but kind of nice.
"I like pizza." Emily whispered as they entered the kitchen. Rick was sitting on one of the island stools and grinned at the sight of them.
"Pizza! Brilliant, you'll fit right in. Half pepperoni, half cheese?" He asked the pair of them. Alexis nodded and looked down to Emily. Apparently that was their usual, she nodded as well. Sounded fine to her. "Great, I'll call it in."
"Want to watch a movie?" Alexis asked. Emily shrugged. Alexis took that as a yes and led her into the living room. Emily stood awkwardly in the middle of the room while Alexis went through the hundreds of dvds. They ended up settling on the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and sat together on the couch.
"Good choice." Rick said as he plopped down in between them and rested his feet on the table. Emily sat very stiff and remained quiet, barely watching the movie until the pizza arrived. She had been so little the last two times she had foster families. She didn't remember the first one at all and only remembered bits and pieces of the second. Mostly, she remembered how much she had felt safe and wanted and then suddenly, it had all gone away and she was back with her mom, who never wanted her around. Now, Virginia was dead, so when this was over, who knew where she was gonna have to go?
The pizza arrived and with it, Detective Beckett. Emily was a little shocked to see the older woman but was surprised when she realized she was happy to see her. She didn't quite know why, but she really liked her, felt safe around her. Probably because she was a cop, really pretty, and could beat up a boy if she wanted. Also, because she was nothing like Virginia.
"Hi Emily." She said with a smile.
"Hello Detective Beckett." Emily said shyly as she sat down on the opposite side of her.
"Call me Kate."
"Hi Kate." Emily whispered and stuffed some pizza into her mouth. Rick and Kate joked around throughout the rest of the movie, Alexis joining in from time to time. Emily mostly ate her pizza and watched them, rather than the movie. They acted like a real family like on tv, especially once Martha came down and joined in. Emily watched Rick and Kate closely and realized that they totally wanted to kiss each other naked. Kate laughed at all the funny things Rick said and he looked at her like boys in the movies look at girls they are in love with. That must be why Kate was here, they were dating. Emily wondered if that meant Kate stayed here sometimes. She didn't think she would mind that too much.
Someone was screaming.
Castle shot up in his bed and tried to zero in on the noise. Hearing it again, he jumped up and went into the hall, nearly crashing into a half asleep Alexis as he did so.
"Someone's screaming." She murmured.
"I know honey, I think its Emily, I got it, go back to sleep."
"M'kay." Alexis shuffled back towards her room as Castle directed her and he went into Emily's bedroom. The little girl was thrashing about, clearly in the middle of a nightmare.
"Emily." Castle whispered softly, trying not to frighten her more. He bent down and placed his hands on her arms, trying to still her body.
"Mom!" Emily yelled out.
Castle tried again. "Emily, wake up, its a nightmare, you're alright." He rubbed her arm as her breathing began to slow down. "That's it, you're okay. Hey." He said warmly as her eyes fluttered open. "There you go."
"Rick?" She whispered.
"Yeah kiddo, you had a nightmare."
"I'm sorry." Emily said quickly, embarrassed. She tried to pull away, but Castle tightened his grip for a moment holding her in place.
"Its fine Emily, that's what I'm here for. Do you want anything? Drink of water? Ice cream?"
"Is ice cream your answer for everything?" Emily asked.
Castle burst out laughing. "Yes actually it is." He answered, lowering his voice so as not to wake up Alexis again. Emily bit her lip adorably and contemplated it. "I bought mint chocolate chip." He grinned. Hoping to entice her.
Emily smiled. "Okay."
"Brilliant!" He grabbed her hand and lead the little girl downstairs. Directing her to a stool he began pulling out bowls and spoons, setting them up in front of her, he dished out the treat. "So, want to talk about it?" He asked casually. Emily shook her head and rested her chin in her hands with a yawn. He figured as much.
"Where's Kate?" Emily asked, taking a bite of her ice cream.
Castle sat down next to her and frowned in confusion. "Beckett went home."
"Oh, you're not 'at that stage yet'?" Emily asked, putting air quotes around her words. Castle's brow furrowed, oblivious to what Emily was getting at. "You guys don't have sex yet?" Emily clarified.
"What?" Castle spit out his ice cream a little in shock. "Why...no, we're...Emily, Beckett and I aren't dating. We're friends and we work together."
"Bullshit." Emily deadpanned, her spoon poised in the air.
"I'm eleven, I'm not an idiot, you guys are totally in love with each other. I could tell after five minutes."
Castle let out a sigh and set his spoon into his bowl. Turning his body to face Emily, he placed his hands on her shoulders and forced her to look at him. "Emily, first of all, while you live here, we're gonna have a couple of rules, one of them, is no more swearing." He said sternly. Emily groaned but nodded in agreement. "Alright, secondly, we're not dating."
Castle glared at her.
"BS." She corrected herself.
"That's...sort of better, but no we're not."
"You love her." Emily said. There wasn't a hint of a question in her voice and Castle sighed. There was no point in denying it. Emily grinned, seeing that he had given up. "She totally loves you too. She's like, smitten or whatever. She smiles at you all the time and laughs at your jokes, even if they're really dumb, which by the way a lot of them were."
Emily shrugged and took another bite of her now melting ice cream. "Ust callin it like I see it." She said with her mouth full.
"I am too funny." Castle protested. "And...its very complicated."
"No its not, grown ups are just idiots. You like her she likes you, kiss and get over yourselves."
"Emily, there are a lot of things complicating things with Beckett..."
Emily cut him off. "For starters, you don't even call each other by your first names."
"Are you going to keep interrupting or are you going to listen?"
"I'll listen." Emily muttered and made herself busy finishing her ice cream.
"Thank you." Castle said smugly. Emily shrugged and waved him to go on. "A lot of it is none of your business, or at least, not my business to tell you, if Beckett wants to tell you then that's up to her. I...I do love her and I told her last year when she got shot but she doesn't remember. I am pretty sure she feels the same way, or at least likes me, but she's not ready."
"That's the bit that's not mine to tell you."
"Well, that's what it is." Castle picked up their bowls and dropped them into the sink while Emily let out another big yawn.
"So, you're just gonna wait around until she thinks she's ready to be your girlfriend? That's sad."
"Not really, she's my best friend I like being with her no matter what." Castle shrugged.
Emily cocked her head to the side and studied him for a minute before shrugging. "Well, its your life." She dropped her head down onto her hands and closed her eyes.
"Hey! No, none of that you're neck will hate you in the morning." Castle moved around the counter and made to lift her up but Emily instantly reeled back from his grasp. "Sorry." He apologized, holding his hands up in the air.
"S'fine. Night Rick, thanks for the ice cream." Emily yawned again and trotted upstairs, Castle right behind her.
"So, how's the kid Castle?" Esposito asked as Castle walked into the bullpen the next morning.
He smiled, let out a small yawn, handed Kate her coffee and nodded. "Good."
"You awake Castle?" Kate asked with a grin.
"Not really no, she had a nightmare last night, so we were up eating ice cream and talking late."
"Hum, 'bout what?" Kate asked.
"You actually." Castle murmured and sipped his coffee. "Do we have a case?"
"No, you talked about me? What about me?" Kate asked. She kicked Esposito's shins as he chuckled at her expression. She couldn't fathom why she needed to know what Castle had said to a little girl she barely knew, but she did. Castle smirked at her and she couldn't help but grin.
"Jealous Beckett?" He laughed. She glared at him, but smiled. "Well, you are invited back for dinner tonight, Emily's request."
"Really?" Kate asked a little shocked.
"She likes you." He shrugged with a smile. The phone rang and before Kate could respond, they had to head out.
"We've got a body." She said with a sigh. "I'd love to come for dinner again, if I can make it."
"Great! Murder awaits!" Castle said as he clapped his hands together and walked out. Kate shook her head and followed him.
The day was becoming very, very long. Castle had been sluggish and tired all day. His yawning was contagious and it was making working the case hard for Kate, Ryan and Esposito. Frankly, she was ready to either punch him or give him a pillow. The case wasn't particularly difficult, the man they had interviewed and who was now in lockup had almost definitely done it, they simply needed to find the proof through his flimsy alibi. Kate reached down and went to take another sip of her much needed coffee, but it was empty. Sighing, she told the group she would be right back and went for a refill. Just as she turned on the expresso machine Castle had bought, Emily appeared in the doorway.
"Hi!" She said cheerfully.
"Shit!" Kate burned her hand and leapt back, startled by the little girl. "Sorry, hi...goddamnit." She groaned. That really, really hurt.
"You gotta put it under cold water." Emily said quickly. She moved forward and grabbed Kate's wrist, hauling her over to the sink and pushing her hand under the cold water. Kate was a little shocked, but let her do it. "Sorry I scared you." Emily apologized softly.
"Oh, no Emily its fine." Kate said quickly. "Barely really a burn, not a big deal. But what...what are you doing here?"
Emily turned the water off and patted Kate's hand gently with a towel. Kate couldn't help but take note of how easily she slipped into the role of taking care of her. It broke her heart a little knowing she had done things like this for her mother more than once. After Castle told her that he wanted to foster Emily, Kate had pulled her file from social services. Emily had taken care of her mother more than her mother had ever taken care of her. It wasn't fair.
Kate slipped her hand out of Emily's grasp and took over. Emily went back to the machine and poured Kate's coffee before handing it over to her. "There's cream you can put on it to make sure it doesn't scar and stuff." She said. "And I'm here to make you and Rick feed me. Its 7:30 and Martha is at some play thing and Alexis is out studying with her friends. She dropped me off here." Emily stood next to Kate, both of them leaning against the table. "I told her I was fine, but she said Rick would get mad at her if she left me home alone."
"Well that was good, you shouldn't be left alone." Kate agreed.
"You're just saying that cause your a cop and you think I'll burn the house down or someone will break in and kidnap me. I know how to call 911, I can kick someone in the nuts or hit them in the head with a bat, and I know how to use a stove. I'm not helpless."
Kate smiled. "No, I don't think you are, but eleven year olds shouldn't be left alone anyway. I'm glad Alexis brought you here."
"Can I order a pizza?" Emily asked.
"You should probably ask Castle."
"He said anything I ever need I can ask either of you." Emily said simply. Kate looked down at her in confusion. Castle hadn't informed her of that. "You're the one I'm talking to, so, can I order a pizza?"
"Sure, everyone's hungry, get enough for Ryan and Esposito too."
"Okay!" Emily smiled. "Can I help you solve the case?"
"No." Kate answered immediately. Emily pouted and Kate couldn't believe how much her expression mimicked Castle's. The girl knows him for a few weeks, and she already acts like him? Kate was a goner. "Emily, you're eleven, I'm not letting you help solve a murder."
"I'm smart, I can help." Emily protested.
"You let Rick help."
"Castle's an adult."
"Barely." Emily muttered as she dialed the pizza place.
"Well, I have to agree with you on that, but still, I can't let you help."
"Fine." Emily sighed, ordering enough pizza to feed an army and then beaming up at Kate. "So, why can't you let yourself be in love with Rick?"
Kate choked on her coffee and stared down at Emily. "What?"
Emily grinned. "I know you love him, and I know he loves you, he told me grown ups are complicated and I should ask you."
"You smile all the time around him, I could tell after five minutes. Why don't you just kiss him? He likes you I promise."
"I...this..." Kate bit her lower lip and looked out the window, Castle was walking over to them. She needed to wrap this up quickly. "Can we maybe talk about this some other time?"
"Yeah." Emily sighed, but grinned as Castle walked into the room. Kate tensed, praying she wouldn't say anything to him. "We ordered pizza! Alexis is studying and Martha's...some play thing I don't remember. Kate says I can help solve the case!"
"No, no, I said you couldn't help." Kate corrected her.
"Ah, trying to play us against each other already?" Castle grinned, then looked up at Kate. God, that felt like a loaded statement.
Emily followed the two of them back into the bullpen and plopped herself down on top of Kate's desk. Reaching out and trying to look through the file before Kate lightly slapped her hand away and took it.
"I've seen dead bodies." Emily insisted.
"Well, you're not going to see any more." Kate insisted, putting her arms around Emily and half lifting, half shoving her off the desk. "Go wait for the pizza in the interview room."
Emily groaned, but complied and walked away. She pushed the door open and looked around. This was the room Kate and Rick had brought her to when she met them. After her mother was killed. Emily felt sick. She didn't want to be in here. She backed up quickly and knocked into Ryan. "Sorry." She apologized quickly.
"No problem, you okay?" He asked, concerned by the look on her face.
"I'm...yeah." Emily said and quickly ran away from him in search of the bathrooms, anywhere that wasn't that room.
Worried, Ryan headed over to Castle and told him Emily looked upset. Castle took off after her, but was deterred when he realized she had gone into the ladies room. He was knocking loudly and about to go in regardless when Kate walked up behind him. "Castle, you can't go in there." She reminded him.
"I know that but..."
"Castle, I got it." Kate said, pushing the door open.
"Thanks." Castle sighed in relief.
Kate smiled at him. "I'm your support system right?" She walked into the bathroom, leaving a grinning Castle behind her. "Emily?" She called out. Only one stall was closed and Kate walked over to it, knocking softly. "Emily? Are you okay?"
Emily nodded into her hands, but then remembered she had shut the door and Kate couldn't see her. "Yeah." She answered.
Kate leaned back against the sink, waiting for the girl to come out. Emily sighed, realizing Kate wasn't going to leave her alone. She stood up and walked out of the stall, angry that her eyes were red from crying. To her credit, Kate didn't say a word while Emily went over next to her and washed her hands. The little girl refused to look up at Kate, embarrassed and feeling awkward. Kate had worked out what happened the second Ryan had come back and told them. She cursed herself internally for telling her to go sit in that room without thinking about it beforehand.
"My mother was murdered too." Kate said after a few minutes of silence. Emily looked up at Kate in shock and didn't say anything. "If you want to talk about anything, or if you just want to hang out with someone who will leave you alone, let me know." Kate smiled.
Emily looked down at her hands shyly. "Thanks." She whispered. "Can I sit out there with you guys? I won't pay attention, I'll read my book I promise."
"Sure." Kate wrapped her arm around Emily's shoulders and gave her a light squeeze before leading her out of the bathroom. Castle caught sight of them immediately and ran over with a worried look on his face. "We're fine Castle." Kate said before Emily could become further embarrassed.
Castle nodded and the three of them headed back to the bullpen. Emily sat down on the floor, leaning back against Kate's desk and pulled out the sixth Harry Potter book. Kate, Castle, Ryan and Esposito went back to the murder board and shot ideas and theories back and forth. As promised, Emily paid no attention. When the pizza arrived, everyone dug in hungrily. They spent about another hour or so working and then decided to call it a night. Emily was asleep on the floor, the book having fallen from her grasp. Castle laughed and bent down to pick her up, easily shifting her comfortably in his arms. "Thanks for talking to her, what was wrong?" He asked as he and Kate headed to the elevators.
"That was the room we interviewed her in, just brought back memories of her mom." Kate explained.
"Oh, yeah, she's been having nightmares. I don't really know how to handle it though, she doesn't seem to want to talk about her." Castle admitted.
"She will when she's ready Castle, don't push her on it."
"I won't. Want to do something this weekend? See a movie or something?"
Kate looked at him and smiled shyly, but was about to decline when Emily spoke up. "Can we go see a play? I've never been to one. Martha says I'm missing out of being a cultured human being."
Castle and Kate shared a look and both smiled at each other. "Kate?" Castle asked.
"Say yes." Emily demanded, half asleep.
Kate chuckled and nodded. "Sure, sounds good."
Castle said goodnight and deposited Emily into the back of a cab before climbing in himself. Kate grinned as she watched them go. She headed home herself and happily shucked her clothes and climbed into a warm bath. Talking to Emily had brought up a lot of emotions about her own mother and she really didn't want to deal with it right now. Sighing, she allowed herself to cry, she didn't often, but she felt like she needed it right now. She remained in the tub until the water was cold. Climbing out, she slipped into sweats, grabbed a book and settled into bed. She wasn't sure how she felt about Emily, or about the fact that Castle was getting very attached to the little girl. She didn't want him to get hurt in this situation, but she had a feeling that could easily happen. Kate herself was afraid of getting too attached to her. She could tell from the little bit she had interacted with her so far that it could happen very easily. Kate didn't think she could handle getting attached to another person only to have them leave again, especially if it was a child. Sighing, Kate turned off the lamp, she couldn't concentrate on her book right now anyway. She pulled the covers up around her and went to sleep.
Hours later, she woke up to the sound of her phone, still half asleep, she answered it automatically.
"Hi." Emily's voice whispered.
"Emily? Is everything okay? Are Castle and Alexis alright?"
"Yeah, they're asleep, I found your number in Rick's phone."
"Oh." Kate glanced at the clock beside her bed and frowned. "Emily, its almost 3am, what are you doing up?"
"I...I dunno." Emily answered. Kate could hear the tears and the embarrassment in her voice and let out a sigh.
"How's the Harry Potter book?" She asked, hoping to distract the girl from her nightmares. "What part are you at?"
"You've read them?" Emily asked.
"Sure I have. I make it a habit to read good books."
"I know Snape's the Half-Blood Prince."
"Ah, gotcha." Kate yawned. She was exhausted.
"You can go to sleep." Emily said.
"I'm fine sweetie."
"No its okay, I'm tired too. Thanks for talking to me."
"My pleasure, goodnight Emily."
Kate hung up and dropped her phone back on the table. Shit. She was already getting attached.
Castle looked up and grinned at the sight of Alexis and Emily laughing on the couch together. It was a saturday morning, they were still in pjs and had devoured the ice cream waffle sandwiches Castle had made earlier. The last couple of days had gone by rather smoothly. Castle and Beckett had solved their case, they didn't have a new one, and Emily didn't wake up with nightmares – at least not to Castle's knowledge – and she and Alexis had been getting along wonderfully. Emily was guarded around everyone – apart from Alexis – but seemed to be doing better. Castle dropped her off at school, picked her up, hung out with her and Alexis in the evenings and did it all over again in the morning. So far, so good. Castle was optimistic and hopeful. He was taking the girls and Beckett to the theater tonight and even though she tried hard not to show it, Castle could tell Emily was incredibly excited.
His phone rang and seeing the caller, he involuntarily smiled a little. "Ah Beckett, to what do I owe this pleasure? Dead body? Can it wait until tomorrow? We have a date tonight with two very excited girls if you don't recall."
"No body Castle relax." He could hear the smile in her voice. "And we're still on for tonight, I actually...I was wondering if you guys wanted to get dinner first?"
Castle's small smile turned into a grin. He held the phone away from his ear for a moment and yelled, "girls, want to go out to dinner before the play?"
Two heads whipped around, Alexis looked indifferent, but Emily looked excited. "With Kate?" She asked. Castle nodded. "Yeah." Emily said happily then both girls turned back to their movie.
"Did you hear that?" Castle asked.
"Yep, I'll drop by around five?"
"Sounds terrific, see you then." Castle hung up the phone and went over to the couch, shoving the girls apart he plopped himself down in between them with a large bowl of popcorn on his lap. "Ah, musicals all day I see." He said as he realized they were watching Chicago.
"They're murders." Emily told him, in case he hadn't seen it twelve times before with Alexis.
"I had a feeling since that one is dancing with a gun."
Emily laughed and took some popcorn. Castle looked over to Alexis and they smiled. The three of them spent the rest of the late morning and afternoon on the couch, going through one musical after another. Castle and Alexis acting out various scenes they were all to familiar with, and Emily laughing along with them. Pizza was ordered for lunch, and after pleading from Emily, a fencing demonstration was preformed by Castle and Alexis. By the time four pm rolled around, the girls ran upstairs to shower and get ready for their night out. Alexis finished first and came downstairs to meet her father. He grinned at the sight of her.
"You look lovely sweetheart. Emily almost ready? Beckett should be here any minute."
"Yeah, she'll be right down."
"She seems to be doing better, don't you think?"
"Yeah." Alexis said a little warily.
"I still hear her every night Dad."
Castle frowned. He hadn't heard her wake up once. It was his job to get up and take care of her. That's what he signed on for and he wasn't doing it. "I didn't know that."
"My room's closer." Alexis shrugged. "She doesn't cry like she used to, or not for as long anyway. She calls Beckett and talks to her for a while then usually falls back asleep."
"Beckett never told me that." Castle said, a little hurt.
Alexis shrugged again. "Makes sense though, both their moms died, it probably helps to talk to her more than anyone else."
"Yeah I just...I wish she wouldn't hide it."
"Gram says she should probably talk to a psychologist, she's probably right. Someone who knows how to deal with kids in her situation."
"Yeah, I've been thinking about it...I don't know if she'll go for it though." Castle said softly. They both quieted down as Emily descended the stairs, looking the picture of childhood innocence in a fitted white t-shirt and a small blue skirt. Her short hair was still wet and a little tangled and she tried to smooth it down furiously. Alexis laughed and ran over to her, taking her hand and leading her back upstairs as the doorbell rang. "Girls! We've got to go!" Castle said as he opened the door and greeted Beckett. "Wow." He whispered. "You look amazing."
"We'll be right back!" Alexis yelled. Beckett looked up over his shoulder and smiled sheepishly as he still stared at her.
"They still getting ready?" She asked, trying to take his attention off of herself.
"What? Um.. yeah, fixing Emily's hair I think." He said shaking his head a little. "Come on in, hopefully they'll be back down."
Kate nodded and stepped over the threshold, dropping her purse down onto a chair and sitting on the arm rest. "Any ideas where to go?" She asked.
"I'm game for anything." He said with a shrug. He cocked his head to the side and studied her. She shifted a little under his gaze. "How come you didn't tell me she calls you after a nightmare?" He asked. There was no accusation in his tone, just curiosity.
"It seemed like she didn't want you to know." Kate said calmly. "If she said something I thought you needed to know about, I would have told you, still will."
"How does she seem when she calls?"
"Scared, and lonely. Usually, I read to her."
Kate smiled. "I have a copy of Half-Blood Prince, I usually just pull it out and read a few pages or so until she falls back asleep."
"I could do that." Castle said with a little pout.
"Jealous Castle?" Kate teased. He frowned at her playfully as the girls trotted down the stairs, Emily's hair now pulled back into some sort of braided headband by Alexis.
"We're ready." The redhead announced.
"Hi Kate." Emily whispered shyly.
"Hey sweetie, you excited?" Kate asked as she stood up. Emily nodded and accepted her coat from Castle. The four of them headed outside and hailed a cab. Castle climbed into the front seat while the girls sat in the back. They decided on a restaurant that was more causal than fancy and took a large table in the back. The conversation was playfully and light, due mostly to the Castles. Kate was used to their banter and joined in easily, but Emily remained quiet and only spoke if someone asked her a question. Kate noticed Castle's frown at her behavior and tried to engage her into the conversation a little more, but Emily wasn't really having it. Kate could tell she was enjoying herself, so she let it go and kicked Castle under the table. He glared, but got her message and tried not to make much off it.
Once they arrived at the theater, Emily's excitement visibly grew and Kate and Castle shared a look. Castle's excitement grew with hers, which caused all four of them to act like children. As they walked to their seats Emily practically ran ahead of them. According to her, the overture was much too long and once the curtain finally did rise, Kate heard her gasp a little. As the play wore on, she inched further out of her seat and by the time intermission rolled around, she was practically in the lap of the woman in front of her.
"We should run if we want to hit the bathrooms." Alexis said as soon as the lights went up. Martha had trained her well. Kate nodded and took off with the girls, promising to meet Castle by the coffee stand in the lobby.
"This is so cool." Emily gushed. "I wish I could sing like that."
"Yeah, this is one of my favorites." Alexis said, taking the younger girls hand as the crowed thickened. Kate stood close to them as they made their way to the restrooms.
"Have you ever seen it before Kate?" Emily asked.
Kate shook her head. "I really like it so far though." She said with a grin. "That one's free, go ahead." She said. Emily took off to the empty stall while Alexis and Kate waited for another one to free up.
Emily came out of the stall and didn't see either of them. She went to wash her hands and then was pushed out of the crowded room. She stood outside the restroom, looking for Alexis and Kate. She figured she would spot them easily, Alexis was a redhead and Kate was fairly tall, but she didn't see either of them. The area grew more and more crowded and Emily grew anxious. As someone bumped into her and muttered an apology she felt tears well up in her eyes. It was stupid, she knew that immediately and part of the reason she cried harder was because she was embarrassed at her reaction. Everyone was taller than her, she didn't see anyone she knew and she didn't know which way went back to the lobby or the theater. She was afraid that she would miss the second half of the show and would just be left there. Emily tried to force herself to stop thinking like that, but she wasn't part of this family, maybe they wouldn't care if they couldn't find her.
No, Castle liked her and Kate was a cop, it was her job to keep people safe. She wouldn't leave her alone.
Emily didn't believe that for a second. She wanted to, but she didn't. Her own mother had left her alone a million times, it would be easy for other people to do it too. Terrified, angry and lost, Emily decided she was going to at least get to see the end of the show whether she got left or not. She pushed herself through the adults and found a doorway saying the balcony was up ahead. Emily went through the hall and followed the crowd of people. Her seat wasn't in the balcony, but she didn't see any other exits or places to go back downstairs.
It was much less crowded up here and Emily felt like she could breathe a little better. Walking up to an older woman, Emily tugged lightly on her skirt. "Excuse me Ma'am? Do you know which way you get back downstairs? My seat's down there." She pointed down to the center section of the theater.
"Oh, yes sweetheart, is...is your mother around?"
"Umm...no, she's not...I don't know how to get back to my seat." Emily said, feeling her eyes welling up again. She didn't want to talk about her dead mother with some old lady, she just wanted to see the rest of the play before she was all alone again.
"Oh, you lost her? Frank!" The woman pulled the arm of the old man next to her. Emily sighed, she shouldn't have asked. She tried to walk away from them and just find her way back by herself but the woman grabbed her. "We'll find an usher. Was your mother taking you to the bathroom?" She turned back to her husband, not loosening her grip on Emily's arm. Intermission was going to be over soon. Emily bit her bottom lip and contemplated yanking her arm back roughly. "She had to be right Frank? The women's bathrooms are up here."
Emily pulled lightly, but that only caused the woman to tighten her grip. An usher walked into the room and looked all around, Emily felt like crying again and pulled away. The woman waved the usher over and for some reason she looked relieved at the sight of them. The usher turned back behind her for a moment, and then Emily saw a very worried looking Kate and Alexis look around and see her. Kate looked relieved and ran over to them, wrapping Emily up into a tight hug.
"Oh thank god! Is this your mother sweetheart?" The woman asked as Kate hugged her.
Emily was about to shake her head, but she just wanted to get away from the woman and her husband, so she didn't do anything. "Thank you." Kate said to the couple. The lights flickered twice and Kate released Emily from her tight hug, immediately taking her hand. Alexis took the other and the two of them led her back downstairs quietly. The lobby was almost vacant and a worried looking Castle was waiting for them.
"Took you guys long enough, its about to start, was the line long?"
"No Dad we..." Alexis began but quieted down after a look from Kate. "Yeah, long lines." She said. Emily was grateful they didn't tell Castle, she was incredibly embarrassed and just wanted to leave. Castle could tell something was going on, but the look on Kate's face told him not to press it and she would fill him in later.
"Alright, we better hurry." He said, slinging an arm around Alexis' shoulder and walking back into the theater.
Kate had yet to let go of Emily's hand, and if she was being honest, the little girl was glad. She didn't say a word as they slid back into their seats. Her hand remained gripped into Kate's throughout the rest of act two, as they made their way out of the theater, and until they arrived back at Castle's apartment. She only released her once Alexis silently took the other. Emily saw them looking over their heads at each other, but she numbly ignored them, just wanting to be left alone.
"A shrink? No fucking way."
"Ahem, rule one."
"Sorry, no freaking way." Emily corrected herself. Castle sighed and cracked an egg to make another omelette. He had been trying to convince her to go ever since Beckett had informed him about what had happened at the theater. He was horrified that she had been lost, even for a few moments and he felt even worse for Beckett. The way she described how terrified she had been, he remembered that feeling from the time Alexis had snuck away once as a kid. Alexis had been overprotective all week long, walking Emily to and from school and hanging around the house more often than she usually would have. According to Beckett, Emily stopped calling her after her nightmares, and every time Castle tried to go in and comfort her, she would just ask him to leave her alone. She was distant and quiet, hardly speaking to anyone unless she had to and Castle didn't know what to do about it. His last hope was a psychologist. Someone who knew how to deal with children who had been through trauma. Now all he had to do was convince the girl to go.
"It could help." He insisted as he added chocolate and marshmallows into the omelette. He saw Emily grimace. "It is going to be great. A s'morelette. Alexis loves them."
"No I don't. Emily, run while you still have taste buds." Alexis said as she swept into the room. She kissed Castle on the cheek, ruffled Emily's hair and announced she was heading to the morgue to meet Lanie. "See you later Em?" She asked.
"Yeah." Emily groaned. Castle knew she was getting a little annoyed with Alexis' attention. It was the only thing keeping him from being even more overprotective than usual.
"Are you going to be daring?" Castle asked, dangling the plate in front of Emily's face with a grin. She frowned at him and stared at the food suspiciously.
"I think I trust Alexis' judgement better than yours." She said after a minute.
"Ah, and you are probably smart for that." He shrugged. "More for me." He cut out a large piece and chopped on it, moaning loudly while Emily cracked a small laugh. "How about you go at least once, then if you absolutely hate it, we can maybe not do it anymore." He asked. Emily sighed and turned away from him. "Please? It might really help with the nightmares."
Emily stuck her chin out and glared at Castle but sharply nodded her head. "Fine. One time."
"For now." Castle added quickly. Emily's glare deepened and almost rivaled one of Beckett's.
Emily crossed her arms in front of her and glared at the woman sitting across from her. "I was told there would be cookies." She said angrily.
"Excuse me?" Dr Owens asked, looking confused.
"The only reason I agreed to come here was because I was under the assumption I would be given cookies." Emily stated calmly.
"Oh...well...I don't actually have." The woman pulled open drawers and cheered. "I've got a mini Hershey's bar?" She offered.
Emily sighed. "No thanks."
Dr Owens smiled and wrote something down on a pad of paper. Emily couldn't fathom what she possibly could have found interesting enough to write down. She didn't want to be here. Rick was waiting outside in the lobby and he was pissed at her. He had just found out how much she had been skipping school. School was overrated. Emily hardly ever went before, why start now? She had much better things to do. Namely hang out with her old friends in the park. Rick was furious and apparently, so was Kate. Emily was annoyed to find that she would be meeting them here after her session. Alexis had some study thing with Lanie and Rick and Kate were taking her out to dinner. Emily wasn't looking forward to it. She had been avoiding Kate as much as she could. She was embarrassed about her reaction to getting lost. Besides, these people weren't her family, she shouldn't get attached to them anyway.
"So, why the park?" Dr Owens asked.
Emily shrugged. "Why not? That's where my friends go."
"All of them are older than you aren't they? In high school?"
"Not all of them. Lisa's twelve."
"But most of the kids are older?"
Emily shrugged again. "Yeah, so what?"
"Well, generally children who skip school and go to the park tend to get into trouble. What do you usually do?"
"Is this private?" Emily asked.
"Are you going to tell Rick and Kate what we talk about?"
"Do you not want me to?" Dr Owens asked. Emily hated adults who did that, turned everything into some weird ass question.
"Of course not."
"Well, then sure, legally you are a ward of the state and I'm not obligated to tell either of them anything. Though usually, I do discuss general things with parents and guardians. You mood, state of mind, etc."
"Even though Kate's a cop?"
"She's not your guardian, Mr Castle is, unless you've broken a law other than truancy, I don't see the need to tell either of them specifics unless you give me permission."
Emily nodded, satisfied with her answer. She thought this woman was a bit of an idiot, but she would be lying if she didn't want someone to talk to. "We usually just hang out, the boys skateboard a lot, I do too but I'm not that good. Some of the older kids drink or take pills, but I never have besides a sip once. It tasted horrible. Its not a big deal. Its better than school."
"I suck at school, I'm stupid, why bother?"
"Why do you think you're stupid?"
"I get really shitty grades, my parents were both high school drop outs, its inevitable."
"I don't think eleven year olds who use the word inevitable causally are unintelligent." Dr Owens said with a smile.
"Well, I read a lot." Emily shrugged.
"And you still don't think you're smart?"
"I suck at everything, I'm failing math and science, almost failing history, the only one I'm good at is english."
"Do you enjoy it?"
"Yeah I guess, I like to read and write."
"Interesting that a famous writer is your guardian." Dr Owens said with a smile.
"Yeah I guess."
Dr Owens could tell Emily wasn't going to say anything more about school, so she switched the subject to more important topics. "I hear you've been having nightmares."
"So what?" Emily said, shifting uncomfortably in her seat and not meeting the woman's eyes. "Lots of people get them."
"Can you tell me about them?"
"Mr Castle told me you won't talk about them to him, or anyone else, I've found that talking about them usually helps."
"Like makes them go away?" Emily asked.
Dr Owens nodded. "Sometimes."
"Don't tell Rick and Kate." Emily threatened. Dr Owens nodded again. "They change a little. Usually I see the drug dealers shooting my mom, sometimes they shoot me, sometimes...sometimes they shoot Rick and Kate once they get there."
"So, it revolves around your mother's murder?"
"Can you tell me about her?"
"She was a bitch and she hated me." Emily answered instantly.
"Why do you say that?"
"Where to start?" Emily said sarcastically. Dr Owens didn't look amused. Emily sighed, she might as well lay it all out there. "She tried to abort me, then she tried to give me up for adoption, the only reason she didn't do both of those things, was because reverse psychology worked on her and she hated her parents. She never wanted me around, she always told me to leave her alone. She hit me more than once if I pissed her off bad enough. She would rather get high than take care of me. She never cared when I got taken away, only pretended to the second time cause she found out the people I was living with wanted to adopt me. She let pimps and drug dealers come into our apartment all the time, one of them watched me undress once and she didn't care when I told her. When they came in with guns, she didn't even try to protect me. She was a horrible person, I don't care that she's dead. I'm better off."
"Well, that is certainly a lot of information." Dr Owens said with a sigh.
"Whatever." Emily rolled her eyes and looked out of the window, she was sick of talking. "Can I leave now?"
Dr Owens glanced up at the clock and nodded. "Yes, but I would very much like to talk to you again next week Emily."
"Will you have cookies next time?"
"I think that can be arranged." Dr Owens said with a smile. Emily made a face at her, she hated adults who tried too hard. This woman annoyed her a little, but she wasn't too bad.
"Yeah sure whatever." Emily said, rising and walking out the door. Rick and Kate saw her and both stood up at the same time. Both of them looked angry. Emily thought maybe she would rather go back inside and talk to the shrink some more, but Dr Owens gave her a small push forward.
Rick, Kate and Dr Owens talked in hushed tones for a few minutes while Emily made herself busy picking at a small hole in one of the chairs. Once they appeared to be finished, Rick and Kate looked a little less angry than they had initially but that didn't make Emily feel any better. Emily followed them out of the building silently and climbed into the back of the cab, squished in between the both of them.
"We were thinking we would order in instead." Rick said after a minute or two.
"Fine." Emily answered. That wasn't good news. They could yell at her if they were in public. She was probably going to get kicked out now.
"We already ordered a pizza." Rick informed her.
"Great." Emily said, wishing very much that she had a window seat. It was impossible to sit there without having her body touch both of them. The fact that Rick was so quiet freaked Emily out. Kate she understood, she didn't feel the need to talk every second of the day, but Rick did. Him brooding quietly couldn't be good.
When they arrived back at Rick's loft, Emily tried to escape upstairs, but Kate and Rick stopped her. She sighed, here it comes.
"Emily, we need to talk about you skipping school."
"And going to the park." Kate added.
Emily chose not to say anything.
"Emily, if you're going to live here, you need to go to school." Rick said calmly. "That is going to be rule two."
"And going to the park with a bunch of older juvenile delinquents isn't safe." Kate said firmly, walking over and standing next to Rick. Emily looked back and forth between them. She couldn't believe neither of them would just admit they loved each other. They looked like an old married couple right now. In fact, it felt like she was being yelled at by parents or something. She realized she hated it but it did make her feel a little normal.
"So, when do I leave? In the morning?" She asked without looking at either of them.
Both Kate and Rick looked utterly shocked and shared a look before staring at Emily. "What?" Rick asked. "What are you talking about?"
"You said if I'm going to live here, so do I go back to East Side?"
"No, let me rephrase that, since you are living here, you are going to be attending school. It wasn't an option. You're not leaving, we want you here."
Emily stared at both of them, confused and unsure of what to say. Rick looked like he was about to say something else, but Emily saw Kate pinch him. They spent the rest of the night in an awkward tension. Kate and Rick tried to get Emily to engage with them, but she just didn't want to talk. She liked listening to them anyway. Once they went on about a recent case, Emily was happy to sit back and listen. This was insane. She decided that she was going to get them together before she had to leave, whenever that was.
Kate woke up suddenly, cursing her phone. Fumbling around in the dark she realized she had fallen asleep on her couch. The shrillness of the phone burst through the silent apartment. Kate groaned, trying to find the source of the noise. "Beckett." She mumbled automatically.
"Hi." A small voice whispered.
Kate pushed her hair out of her face and opened her eyes, now fully awake. "Emily?" She walked into the kitchen. She had fallen asleep before she ate dinner, exhausted from the long day at work. "Are you okay honey? Are Castle and Alexis..."
"They're fine." Emily cut her off. "I just...I had a nightmare. Sorry if I woke you up."
"No, I'm fine, I haven't eaten actually, so you did me a favor." Kate said lightly, happy the girl had called her this time. She knew that Emily had been very withdrawn for the last week or so, her phycologist appointment hadn't helped much. She had however been attending school, so there was some improvement.
"What are you gonna eat?" Emily asked.
"I haven't decided yet? Any ideas?"
"Ice cream." Emily answered immediately.
Kate laughed lightly. "God, you really are turning into a Castle." She joked. "I don't think I've got any ice cream."
Kate dug through her cupboards. "Cheerios it is." She announced. She could hear Emily laughing quietly on the line. Kate poured out a bowl and brought it back over to the couch, Emily listening silently. Kate had gotten used to that. She found that mostly when Emily called, she didn't have much she wanted to say, she mostly just wanted to listen to Kate; to know there was someone else on the line. If Kate was honest with herself, it comforted her as well. "So, Harry?" She asked.
"Oh, okay, anything you want to talk about while I eat?"
"Can I ask you something?"
"So, you told me you would talk about this some other time, and that was weeks ago..."
Kate grimaced. She had a feeling she knew where this was going.
"How come you won't tell Rick that you love him?" Emily asked quietly. "He totally loves you back."
Kate sighed. How to explain to an eleven year old the complications of adult relationships? Or at least, the complications of her own. "It's really..."
"Don't say complicated." Emily cut her off quickly and Kate could hear the hint of anger in her voice. "I'm not smart, but I'm not a complete idiot."
"You are smart." Kate corrected. The psychologist had informed Castle – who told Kate – of Emily's insecurities about school. They - along with Alexis and Martha - had been taking every opportunity to make her feel intelligent. Alexis especially was all too happy to tutor the younger girl. "And I mostly just don't know how to explain it." She said with a sigh. "Castle...he drove me nuts when I first met him. He was a complete pain in my ass. He...well, he'd gone through a lot of women, he'd been married and divorced twice, he...he was not my type. You've seen it, he worms his way into your life whether you want him to or not and he grows on you. That's how he got you to live with him isn't it?"
"Yeah I guess."
Kate ran her fingers through her hair, smiling involuntarily talking about Castle. "Well, eventually, we became friends, I would probably say he is my best friend – which I think is important – being friends with the person you fall in love with. He's...he's a big child, which can still piss me off at times but usually I love. He's loyal to a fault, brave, protective, funny, charming, he's the best guy I know."
"So why don't you just kiss him already?" Emily asked exasperated.
Kate laughed. "Well, that's the complicated part."
"You know he loves you, and you love him, I don't get what's complicated about that."
"I don't want to get into a relationship until I'm ready. I...there's a lot about my mother's case that I need to know, and before that...before that, I trusted him as a friend but I wasn't sure about as anything more. I'm not someone who likes to rush things, I'm a one and done kind of girl and I wanted to be sure."
The line was silent, Kate shoveled in her soggy cheerios while Emily thought about what she had just said. Out loud, she did see the absurdities that a child would.
"Kate?" Emily asked after a few minutes.
"That's bullshit." Emily said. Kate could hear the smile in her voice. She was about to scold her for swearing, but the girl wasn't finished. "Life is shit. If you find someone who actually likes having you around, then you should be with them. That's common sense. Also, I thought you got the guy that hurt your mom."
"The hit man yes, there...her case is very complicated."
"I think I hate that word." Emily groaned.
Kate smiled, got up and brought her empty dish to the sink. The tiredness of the late hour finally hitting her, she trudged off to her bedroom. "It's appropriate." She said with a slight pout.
"But dumb." Emily added. Kate climbed under the covers and turned off the light, listening to Emily's light breathing. After a while, Kate thought the girl had fallen asleep – tired herself – she was about to hang up. "Kate?" Emily whispered, so lightly Kate thought she might have imagined it.
Kate smiled. "Anytime sweetie, goodnight."
Castle frowned. His house was too quiet. Alexis and Emily were usually – not loud exactly – but not this quiet. He headed upstairs and knocked on Alexis' door.
"Come in!" She called.
"Hey." He smiled at both of them. The two girls were lounging on Alexis' bed, guilty looks etched onto their faces. "What's going on?"
"Ummm nothing." Alexis said. Castle raised his eyebrows, his daughter was a horrible liar. Her nose crinkled, it was her tell. Emily seemed to be aware of it as well, Castle saw her kick the redhead.
"We were just hanging out. Alexis said you have laser tag, is that true?"
Diversion. Shit. Emily was good. Now he really wanted to play laser tag. A grin grew on his face, causing Alexis and Emily to smile as well. "She is correct, downstairs the both of you, fight to the death!" He yelled dramatically then made his exit, hearing them laughing behind him. It was nice to see how well Alexis and Emily had been getting along. He had heard her in the night a few times, but she had begun calling Kate again. He wished she would talk to him, but he was happy she felt comfortable talking to someone.
Castle pulled out all his ridiculous laser tag equipment and strapped Emily in. "You know that under the rules of the game, I may show you no mercy?" He asked with a gleam in his eye.
Emily grinned. "I'd kick your ass if you just let me win."
Castle glared at her.
"Did I say ass? I believe I said butt. Alexis, you heard me say butt right?"
"That's what I heard." Alexis said with a smile. Castle eyed them both.
"Ganging up is not allowed."
The girls shared a look, then turned to Castle raised their weapons and started the game with no warning. Castle yelled and ran for cover. The next hour was spent in a frenzy, chairs were overturned, pillows thrown onto the floor, and no room was safe. Castle liked to let out a war cry of his own invention randomly causing one of the girls to run, thinking he had the other. By the third time he had done it, they caught on and ignored him. Alexis and Emily had formed a temporary alliance under the condition that they take down Castle and then fight it out with each other. He was determined not to let either of them win.
"There he is!" Emily yelled. Sprinting out of his line of vision while Alexis attacked him.
"Oh, that's not fair." Castle pouted as his light went out.
Alexis blew on the top of her laser gun with a smirk. "Sorry Dad."
Castle's eyes suddenly lit up. "Me too." He said. Confused, Alexis was about to look behind her, when her own vest was hit. The redhead turned around in shock and stared at the little girl behind her.
"I win." Emily announced with a grin.
"We had a truce!" Alexis yelled.
"Temporarily." Emily reminded her. "You got him, I got you. It's called strategy."
Castle and Alexis shared a look of awe. Castle leaned down and whispered loud enough for Emily to easily hear him. "She is evil. Watch your back."
"Castle, that's mean." Kate said as she walked into the loft.
"Kate!" Emily yelled happily. "Want to get beat by an eleven year old?" She asked waving her laser gun around.
"I think I'll keep my dignity while I still have it thanks." Kate smiled.
"Good choice." Castle said with a laugh. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"
"I invited her for dinner." Emily said coyly. She tried to get herself out of the vest Castle had strapped her into and almost fell over. Kate quickly moved over and pulled her out while Castle watched.
Emily was up to something.
He turned and looked to Alexis, question in his eyes, but she just shrugged and went to put the laser tag equipment back. Castle turned back and watched as Emily pushed Kate towards the kitchen. "I also ordered pizza, the white kind without sauce." She announced. "It should be here any minute."
The doorbell rang.
"Or right now." Emily grinned. "I'll get plates."
Castle rolled his eyes and went to pay the delivery boy while Emily and Kate set the table. Alexis walked in and joined them, starting to sit down before Emily stopped her. "No! That's Kate's seat." She insisted. Kate and Alexis shared a confused look, but Emily shoved Alexis over before she could say anything. Castle sauntered over with the pizza and dished it out to everyone, taking the only empty seat – next to Kate. They ate happily for a while before Emily pulled Alexis over and whispered something in her ear. Castle and Kate shrugged at each other. "We're gonna go eat the rest in Alexis' room." Emily announced, pulling the older girl along with her.
"Have fun." Alexis said with a shrug and allowed herself to be removed from the room.
Kate turned to Castle. "What's that about?" She asked, having a small idea.
"Not a clue. They've been inseparable lately. I'm taking it as a good thing." Castle shoved a large bite of pizza in his mouth and grinned at Kate, causing her to laugh. Kate shook her head, that girl...she knew what she was up too.
Alexis looked up as she heard a noise and smiled as she saw Emily standing in her doorway. "Hey." She greeted the younger girl.
"You like Kate right?" Emily asked coyly.
Confused, Alexis frowned a little. "Yeah sure, why?"
"What's your mom like?" Emily asked, deflecting the question and moving to sit down on the floor. Alexis was perched on her bed and lay down, sticking her face next to Emily's head.
"My mom? She's...well, full of life might be a good description?"
"What's that mean? I mean, do you see her a lot?"
"Mostly we talk." Alexis said. "She visits when she can, I love her but...she's a bit much to have around all of the time."
Emily seemed to think over Alexis' words, remaining silent for a while. Alexis was about to speak up again, but Emily twisted around and looked up at her. "You like Kate right?" She repeated her question.
"I already said yes and asked why, which by the way you never answered."
Emily smirked and dropped her chin onto the edge of the bed. She didn't often act like a little kid, but in that moment, Alexis thought she looked her age and smiled back at her. "Your dad is in love with her." Emily stated calmly. "And she's in love with him." Emily waited, trying to gauge Alexis' reaction. When the redhead didn't say anything, and her facial expression showed nothing, Emily pressed on. "I think they should get together and I was wondering your opinion on it."
"You...you want to get them together?"
"Yeah. I've done a bunch of shitty things and I figure this can be my good karma. Plus it's like a thank you for letting me crash here for a while."
"Don't swear." Alexis scolded lightly. "And I don't think you can force two people to be together. They're adults, if they want to be together then they will or they won't."
"But do you object to the idea?" Emily asked. "Of having Kate as a step-mother or whatever? I mean regardless of what history and fairy tales imply she doesn't seem like the evil type."
"You sound like Dad." Alexis exclaimed. She had noticed that Emily had been picking up Castle-esque phrases as of late, but it was a little hilarious when you weren't expecting them. Emily only smiled and shrugged. "And...not really I guess, I've never really thought about it. I mean, I know he loves her, and I think she likes him too, but I never really thought of them marrying each other."
"But would you be okay with it?" Emily prodded.
Alexis shrugged. "I guess if it would make him happy."
Emily's face broke out into a grin and she jumped up. "Great, then you are my partner in crime. We're gonna need code names, and a game plan. I've got a couple of ideas, but they could use a little work. I was thinking that..."
Alexis cut her off by covering her mouth with her hand. "Hold on there, like I said, if they want to be together, they will. They're adults Emily, we can't force anything on them, that's not how love works."
Emily huffed and stood up. "They're being idiots. That's why they're not together. If you don't want to help me fine." With that she stamped out of Alexis' room and slammed the door closed behind her, leaving Alexis baffled and alone.
Castle heard the slamming door and sighed. Alexis came downstairs a few moments later and announced she was going to the morgue to work with Lanie. Castle, bored and wanting some company, went up to find Emily. "Knock, knock." He said at her bedroom door. "Want to go get some ice cream?"
"You have some in the fridge." Emily said without looking up at him.
"Ah yes, but not soft serve twist."
Emily lifted her head up from her pillow and let out a small grin. She hopped off the bed and followed him silently out the door. They began to walk down the sidewalk, enjoying the sunshine. Castle was itching to talk, but Emily was adamant about remaining quiet. They ordered their ice cream and continued on their walk, neither paying much attention or caring where they ended up. Hearing sirens faintly caught the attention of both of them and they turned to watch as the cars pulled to a stop a block ahead of them. Emily was about to take off running and see what was going on when Castle's phone rang. He caught her with one hand and answered the phone with the other, dropping the last little bit of his ice cream.
"Hey Castle, we've got a body..."
"Yes, I believe I'm already here." He said cutting her off. She was a little shocked but said she was en route and would be there in about a minute or two. Hanging up with her, he got a better hold on Emily, who was still trying to see the commotion. "Not a chance." He said.
"Oh come on!" She protested.
Kate, Ryan and Esposito pulled up and all looked a little shocked to see Emily along with Castle. Kate instantly walked over to them and placed her body in between Emily's and the crime scene. "What's going on Castle?" She asked.
"We were out for a walk, ice cream." He explained.
Emily held the last bit of her melting cone up to Kate. "Want some?" She asked with a smile.
Kate made a face at her. "Thanks, I'm good though. Why don't you go hang out in my car and we'll be back in a minute." She said, directing Emily forward without giving her a chance to protest. Emily shot a look back to Castle as a last attempt, but he shook his head and pointed to the car. Reluctantly, she climbed into the passenger seat and pouted.
The four of them walked up and met Lanie, Castle was grateful that Alexis wasn't there as well. One kid at a crime scene was bad enough. They surveyed the scene – a man who's head was chopped clear off – and questioned the woman who found him. Esposito was the one who noticed Emily trying to sneak back onto the scene and quickly ran over and pulled her away, just as she got a small glimpse of the body.
"His head is gone!" She yelled in shock, catching Kate's attention who was closest. She glared as she saw Esposito pulling her away.
"Yeah, and that's exactly why you're not supposed to be here kid. Castle's gonna kill you." Esposito said, somewhat amused.
"Rick? I doubt it." Emily scoffed.
"Yeah, well, she might." Esposito pointed as Kate quickly walked over to them, the frown on her face deepening the closer she got. Emily backed up slightly, pressing her body into Esposito's as Kate advanced. Emily would be lying if she wasn't a little afraid of the woman.
"What part of stay in the car didn't you get?" She asked. Castle was rubbing off on her too much.
"His head is gone." Emily announced instead of answering.
Kate took a deep breath and looked up at Esposito. "Go help Ryan, tell Castle to get his ass back here so we can head back to the precinct."
"Can I come?" Emily asked excitedly. The glare Kate shot her shut her up instantly. The older woman didn't say a word, but looked back up to Esposito as he nodded and left. "I'll bet it was a ninja assassin." She offered as Kate took her arm and pulled her firmly but gently away from the crime scene.
Kate pursed her lips and stopped herself from saying anything as Castle approached. "Dude! I said stay in the car!" He yelled at them. Emily only smiled and tried to step forward but was stopped by Kate's grasp.
"I told Kate it was probably a ninja assassin." She said to him. It took everything Kate had not to roll her eyes as Castle's gleamed excitedly.
"That's what I said!"
Kate cleared her throat.
"But, you should not have been over there, stay in the car was the instruction." He said, growing a little angry himself. Emily simply shrugged and ducked into the car, leaving Kate and Castle behind her. They shared annoyed looks and climbed in as well. "We'll drop you off at home, Mother is there I just got off the phone with her." He announced from the back. Emily had climbed into the passenger seat, much to his annoyance.
"What? No, why can't I come to the precinct with you guys?"
"Because you're eleven." Castle said. "And Mother is going to teach you how to act. She's pulled out all her old dvds, Sunset Boulevard, All About Eve, you're in for a real treat."
Emily whipped her head around and glared at him. "You sound like you'd rather have your eyes poked out than do that." She accused.
"That's because I would. But you like movies, you'll have a great time."
"You like movies too." Emily spat back.
"Not when I watch them with my mother."
Emily narrowed her eyes at him. Kate watched through the rear view mirror as they were waiting at a stop sign. Neither Castle nor Emily looked like they were going to back off. Kate cleared her throat and Castle looked forward with one last glare to Emily. The little girl huffed and turned around in her seat angrily. Kate hid a smirk. Emily was adorable when she was angry, but she didn't think it would help much to say that.
Emily turned her head and stared at Martha. She had decided that the woman would be a perfect ally in her plan to get Rick and Kate together; she just wasn't sure how the older woman would feel about it. They were currently watching All About Eve, Emily hadn't thought she would like the film, but she did. Eve was a bitch, Emily hadn't trusted her since the moment she was introduced. She liked Bette Davis' character though, her dramatics reminded the girl a tiny bit of Martha, but she knew better than to voice that particular opinion.
"Martha?" She asked softly.
"Hum? Dear this is a wonderful part, see that young girl? That's Marilyn Monroe! One of her earliest parts."
"Do you like Detective Beckett?"
"Of course." Martha answered without taking her eyes of the screen.
"But like, what would you think of her as like a daughter in law?"
"Rick totally loves her and she loves him back, I think we should make them get together, Alexis does too, what's your position on it?"
Martha turned her head from the tv and looked at the young girl quizzically. "You are a very odd child." She stated with a smile. Emily shifted in her seat but waited for her to go on. "I agree, she makes Richard happy and their both being a pair of fools, but sweetheart, that's their prerogative, they're adults."
Emily slammed herself back into the couch and pouted. "That's what Alexis said."
Martha smiled and affectionately pushed Emily's hair out of her face. "Well, Alexis is right."
"I think you're both wrong." Emily said as Rick walked through the door. "Who cut off his head?" Emily asked him.
Castle frowned at her but she could tell he wasn't actually angry. "Not sure yet, still working on it. Hey, it's late, why don't you head up to bed?"
Emily huffed, but stood up and went to move past him, Castle caught her by the arm and kissed the top of her head, shocking her. She shook it off quickly, gave him a light smile and walked up the stairs. "Night." She yelled back to Castle and Martha.
Castle walked over and plopped down onto the couch next to his mother, taking Emily's seat. "She's onto you Richard." Martha grinned.
"You're not as subtle about your feelings for Detective Beckett as you think."
Richard scoffed and lightly patted his mother's leg. He stood and went into the kitchen, avoiding his mother's gaze. Shuffling around and making a lot of noise in the kitchen as Alexis walked in.
"Hi Dad, Gram." She greeted them. "I'm beat, I'm heading to bed." She walked over and kissed them both on the cheek before trotting up the stairs.
"Are you still going to avoid the subject?" Martha asked her son.
"That little girl is going to try and force you and Kate together."
Castle laughed bitterly and made himself a peanut butter sandwich. "Good luck with that, I've been trying for what feels like years."
"No, actually you haven't. You've cared for years, you've never actually tried, not that I've seen." Martha corrected him.
A little annoyed, Castle bit into his sandwich and stomped up the stairs. "Goodnight Mother." He called back.
Kate looked up from her file and grinned as she saw Castle making his way toward her with two cups of coffee in his hands. "Thanks." She said as he set hers on top of her desk. He sat down in his usual chair and sighed, sipping his coffee and not looking at her. "What's up Castle?" She asked.
He looked at her as if confused about something then smiled. It didn't reach his eyes. "Hum? Oh nothing, Emily's a little...I dunno, nothing, any leads?"
"Castle? Is she okay?"
"Yeah fine it's really nothing, what can I do?"
"Well, Ryan found a possible lead on a man who used to be friends with our vic, I was thinking we could head over to his apartment and question him. You up for it?"
"Yep." He stood up and followed her as they made their way to the elevator. "Did Emily call you last night?" He asked as they climbed into Kate's car.
"Yeah she seemed alright though, read about six pages and she was out again." Kate answered with a small smile. She hated that the reason Emily called her was because they both shared the trauma of having dead mothers, but she had grown used to talking to the little girl late at night; sometimes she felt like it helped her more than Emily. It had become a nightly ritual that helped her get more sleep than she had in a long time.
"She didn't say anything?" Castle asked with an odd look on his face. "About me I mean?"
"Believe it or not Castle, we have things to talk about besides you." Kate smirked playfully. It worked, he smiled into his coffee and kept his gaze ahead, looking a little more like himself. "Why?" She asked gently. "Did something happen last night?"
"Nah, just something my mother said, its really not a big deal I promise. I was just curious."
"Alright, well let me know if you need anything." Kate said as she pulled her car to a stop. "He's in, twelve B apparently." The two of them headed up and knocked on Robert Kelly's door, being greeted by a scruffy looking twenty something who looked rather high. "Mr. Kelly? I'm Detective Beckett with NYPD, we need to speak to you. Grab your coat and come with us down to the station." Luckily for them, the man was cooperative. He was shaky and nervous, but he followed along, Kate was having doubts that he was their killer, but she wasn't about to rule him out.
The rest of the day went by mostly in a blur, interrogating Robert Kelly, they had found that it was in fact him. He all but blurted it out the second they walked into the interrogation room; crying and admitting to their argument.
"Your friend sleeps with your girlfriend and you chop off his head." Castle said in awe. "Jesus."
"Yeah, he doesn't really look like the kind of guy to have it in him." Esposito commented as they began taking down the white board. "You guys wanna grab a late lunch?"
"Yeah sounds good." Ryan and Castle agreed.
Kate was about to when her phone buzzed; pulling it out she glanced at the screen and frowned.
Kate, can you come pick me up? Please don't tell Rick. I'm at school. - Emily
"Beckett? You in? Lunch?" Esposito asked.
"Uh, um.. no thanks you guys go ahead, I've got to do something. I'll catch up with you tomorrow." She smiled at the three men and grabbed her coat, leaving before any of them had any time to ask her any more questions. She was confused to say the least, driving quickly and pulling into the school's parking lot, she all but ran into the building. She had no real idea where to pick Emily up, if she was hurt, in trouble, or what. Kate made her way to the front desk and spoke with the woman there who directed her to the principal's office. "Hello, I'm Detective Beckett, I'm here to get Emily Donnelley?"
"Have a seat right over there." The secretary directed her. She nodded and sat down, her foot tapping nervously against the floor. She was only there a minute or two when a woman arrived and stopped in front of her.
"Are you Detective Beckett?" She asked. Kate nodded. "Emily's in here." She motioned to her office.
"What's going on?" Kate asked as she followed behind and saw Emily slunk down into her seat. The little girl refused to look up at her and she frowned.
"Detective, have a seat." The woman motioned to the empty chair next to Emily. As Kate sat down, she caught sight of Emily's face, the little girl had a black eye forming. Kate reached out and grabbed her chin, pulling Emily's face closer to her.
"What happened?" She asked again, this time her voice worried and angry, her protective nature kicking in.
"Miss Donnelley was involved in a fist fight with two boys at recess earlier today. She requested that you be called instead of Mr Castle, she said you are her foster mother for the time being?"
Kate shot a glare at Emily for the lie, but didn't call her out on it right now. "A fist fight?" She asked, looking over Emily's body for other injuries. Her shirt was torn, there were grass stains on her jeans, dirt on her face, and a couple of small scratches, that was just what Kate could see from a quick glance.
"Yes, we've already spoken to the boys and their mothers, from what we've been able to gather, there was some extremely rude name calling on their parts and Emily punched one of them. The other boy, Jake, then punched her back, leading to them all to fight with each other until a teacher broke them apart. Both boys are being suspended for a week and a half, Emily is suspended for a week. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to fighting, we've also had a lot of problems recently with vicious bullying, which is why the boys are getting the extra two days for their comments towards Emily."
Kate didn't know what to say, she looked over at Emily but the little girl refused to look her in the eye. "Is she alright? Physically I mean, did the nurse check her out?"
"Yes, all three of them have a few cuts and bruises, the boys got the brunt of it, they've already been taken home."
"I can take her now?" Kate asked.
"Yes, her things are in her locker."
Kate nodded and stood up, shaking the principal's hand and taking Emily's. "Thank you. I can assure you, this won't happen again." She held tight as Emily tried to slip her hand away and led her down the hall. The two of them walked in silence, Emily seemed to have resigned that Kate wasn't going to let go and stopped trying to pull her hand away.
"My locker's right over there." She pointed. Kate nodded and walked over, leaning against the row of them as Emily spun the lock. She watched as the little girl dropped books into her backpack and slung it over her shoulder, looking up, but not quite looking into her eye.
"Come on, my car's out front." Kate took her hand again and pulled Emily along, opening the door for her and making her sit in the back seat. "I haven't eaten yet, are you hungry?" Kate asked as they pulled out of the school's parking lot.
"Yeah." Emily whispered.
"You want to talk about it now, or wait until we get to the restaurant?"
"I don't want to talk about it at all. That's why I called you."
Kate suppressed a small laugh at her candid manner. "Well too bad. We're talking about it, I'm giving you a couple of hours but then Castle is going to know."
"Emily, he's going to notice you not going to school." Kate explained to her.
"He doesn't have to!" Emily insisted. "I can leave and go to the park or something, or the library, or the movies and then I'll come back. He'll never have to know. It's brilliant."
"Nice try." Kate pulled the car to a stop and got out, holding the door for Emily and pushing her gently forward. They walked into the restaurant, ordered some subs and sat down in a booth to wait. "So, what happened?" She asked.
"The principal already told you." Emily said, not meeting Kate's eye.
"I want you to tell me."
"Those guys were a bunch of jerks, they pick on everyone, I was sick of it so I punched Will, then Jake punched me, then we all hit each other, the end." Emily said angrily.
"What did they say?"
"You aren't a violent person Emily, it had to have been something to get you angry enough to wind up and hit them. Especially if your principal says they got the brunt of it, two on one and you beat them? That's not an easy feat." Kate wouldn't tell the girl she was impressed, but she had to admit, she was a little.
"I don't want to tell you." Emily admitted.
"Castle's going to want to know."
"I'm definitely not telling him." Emily said immediately.
Kate sighed and picked up her sub, deciding to let it go for now. She was hungry, Emily was clearly hungry from the way she was inhaling her sub and she wasn't sure how much of this was really her place. "Why did you tell them I was your foster mother?" She asked.
Emily shrugged. "So they wouldn't call Rick."
Kate nodded and took another bite of her sub.
"And you kind of are I guess." Emily said quietly. Kate looked across the table at her and smiled.
Kate felt Emily move behind her and had to work very hard not to smirk. Castle looked confused and worried and Kate tried to push Emily forward to start explaining, but the little girl was having none of that. In fact, Kate felt her grab onto the back of her shirt and just stopped bothering. "Castle, I had to pick Emily up from school today, she got into a fight with two boys at school, she wouldn't say exactly what about, but all three of them are suspended for a week." Kate said calmly and quickly. She watched as Castle's face escalated in worry, watching him try to inspect her injuries and then turn to anger.
"What?" He finally spat out.
"Emily?" Kate turned her head behind her and tried again to push the girl forward but she wrapped an arm around Kate's leg like a tiny child and clung tightly.
"Come here." Castle said, taking a deep breath and trying to relax. They could both tell that Emily was on edge and unsure of how he was going to react. Kate remembered reading her file and the fact that there had been suspicion of child abuse more than once. She tried to wordlessly tell Castle to be calm, somehow, he seemed to have gotten the message. He sat down, running his fingers through his hair and making himself seem non threatening. "Emily." He said softly. "Please come here." Emily released Kate's leg and inched forward, keeping herself closer to Kate than Castle and waited. When it was clear she wasn't going to move any further Castle began talking. "What happened?" He asked.
"Nothing, they're just jerks."
"Come on, they must have said something."
Kate could sense that Emily was getting angry, she could tell Castle was aware of it also, he stood up as if to comfort her, but Emily flinched and stepped back into Kate. Kate quickly steadied her to keep Emily from falling. Kate's arms around her seemed to set Emily off and she pulled away sharply, glaring at both of them. "It's none of your fucking business, either of you! You're not my parents!" She took off before either of them could catch her and bolted into the open elevator.
Castle pounded on the elevator door as it closed and looked to Kate, dejected. "Stairs." She said quickly, and turned to run, hearing Castle right behind her.
"Shit." He muttered under his breath while they were running. "Shit, shit, shit."
"We'll catch her Castle." Kate assured him, though she would be lying if she wasn't worried.
"Do you see her?" He asked as they scoured the street.
"No." He looked around frantically. "Shit!" He yelled.
Kate grabbed his arm. "Rick, we'll find her. She barely had a head start."
Ryan and Esposito came running down behind them. "Find her?" Ryan asked. Kate turned and shook her head, a little confused to see them. "We kind of overheard the end bit." He explained.
"There!" Esposito yelled. Castle whipped around and bolted, Kate right at his heals. Kate sprinted and ended up moving ahead of him, seeing a car coming that Emily clearly didn't she picked up her pace and slammed into the little girl, pulling her roughly out of the way as the car speed past. Kate held onto her tightly and tried to catch her breath as Castle enveloped them both.
"Are you okay?" He asked them, turning their bodies around to check for injuries. Kate ignored his questions and pushed Emily away from her, inspecting the shaking girl.
"Emily, are you okay?" Kate asked, repeating Castle's question. She looked back and forth between both of their faces, her lower lip trembling. Emily shook her head and threw her arms around Kate, half jumping up into her arms. Rather than hold her awkwardly, Kate lifted her up, surprised at how light and small she was for an eleven year old. She held on tightly as the group walked back down the street to the precinct.
"Why don't you guys get her outta here, we'll cover for you with Gates." Esposito said gently.
"Thanks guys." Castle said gratefully. He opened the door to Kate's car and climbed into the driver's seat. Kate gave him a glare to show her disapproval and climbed into the back, still holding Emily. The little girl refused to let go, or even loosen her grip. Kate awkwardly buckled them both in and Castle drove them all to his loft. The only sound in the car was that of Emily's crying, Kate rubbed her back and tried to calm her down as best she could. When they arrived at Castle's loft, he ran around the car and opened the door for Kate, who awkwardly climbed out. "Can I take her?" He asked.
"If she'll let go."
Castle reached out to take Emily and she let herself be pulled into his arms, refusing to look at either of them. As Castle carried her up the stairs, she reached her arm out desperately for Kate's hand. The older woman smiled and took it, walking oddly behind Castle and into his loft. He sat down onto the couch, shifting Emily onto his lap as Kate sat next to him. She didn't even stop to realize how oddly domestic this all was, only concerned with Emily's well being.
"Emily? Are you okay?" Castle asked. Emily nodded and dropped her head into his shoulder, her tears slowly subsiding as she calmed down. "You can't run out like that, that car almost hit you." He said firmly.
"I'm sorry." Emily moaned.
"And you swore." He reminded her.
Kate reached up and began rubbing small circles on her back, it seemed to help calm her down further. Castle stayed quiet – no small feat – for a few more minutes until Emily had calmed down enough to talk. "Emily, can you tell us what happened?"
The little girl glared at him, her anger returning. "I already told you, it's none of your business!" She leapt off of Castle's lap, shoved Kate's hand away and ran upstairs. Seconds later they heard a door slam and both winced.
"Well, today is not going like I thought it would." Castle finally said. Kate sat next to him on the couch for a moment before getting up and going into the kitchen. Castle didn't move and Kate began making coffee, she already knew where everything was. Taking two mugs back to the couch, she handed one to Castle. "I am not good at this." He finally stated.
"What are you talking about Castle?" Kate scoffed. "You're a fantastic father, look at Alexis."
"Yeah, that girl is her own creation, I lucked out, I don't know what to do with a normal kid. I suck."
"Rick." Kate said gently, turning her body towards his. "Emily has had an incredibly hard life, nothing about it was normal, you are doing a fantastic job with a very hard situation."
"No, you are." Castle smiled softly at her. "She calls you after a nightmare, she calls you to pick her up when she gets in trouble; she confides in you and Alexis, not me."
"I'm sorry Castle, if you want me to back off I will." Kate said. That was the last thing she wanted. She realized how much she had come to care about that little girl in such a short time, but if that's what Castle wanted...
"No!" He said quickly, grabbing Kate's hand. "I'm glad. I mean, I'm thankful she's got you if she won't talk to me, she needs someone. I'm just frusturated is all. It's not fair. She's eleven, her life shouldn't be this hard."
"I know." Kate whispered, angry at herself that she was grinning at the fact that Castle was holding her hand when she was worried about Emily. "She should probably go back to the psychologist." She said softly.
"I know. I'm making her go tomorrow, if she doesn't want to tell me, or you, maybe she'll tell her." They sat there silently staring at the wall, their hands still clasped. "Today sucks." Castle said with bitter amusement.
Kate leaned back onto the couch with him, sipping her coffee. "I agree."
Castle paced back and forth nervously and looked up at the clock for the third time. Kate sighed and kicked her boot at the floor, digging into the tear already in the rug.
"Castle, its still only been one minute." She reminded him softly.
He shot her a glare, but relaxed after a second and moved to sit down next to her. "Sorry I just..." He trailed off and Kate set her hand on top of his.
"I know." She replied softly.
"Thanks for coming with me, you didn't have to do that."
Kate smiled softly at him and knocked her shoulder against his. "Castle, shut up."
The two of them sat in the waiting room, mostly just watching the clock and every once and a while watched the door. Castle had convinced Emily to go talk to the phycologist and she had reluctantly agreed. According to Castle, it had been a tense night and morning. Emily wouldn't talk to Kate, she hadn't called her once and Kate was surprised at how much it hurt. She was attached now, there was no doubt about that. Looking to her side, she could tell from the look on Castle's face that he was in just as deep as her. They were both screwed.
"And instead of talking about it, you punched him?"
Emily glared at Dr Owens. "Yeah." She said through gritted teeth.
"He was an asshole so I hit him, I don't get what's complicated about that." Emily said with a shrug. She resented having to be there again. Only having agreed to it because she felt bad about yelling at Rick and Kate. Emily knew that she had a tendency to lash out and then regret it only moments later. After she had pulled away from Rick and Kate, she had almost gone back downstairs and apologized, but she had been too afraid to. Emily had trained herself as best she could to not care about anyone. No one cared about her, so she wouldn't return the favor. The problem was, she cared about Rick, Kate, Alexis and Martha. She liked them a lot. She knew that someday, she was going to have to leave and she didn't want to. Emily didn't say any of this to Dr Owens, she knew the older woman wouldn't understand.
"Will you explain to me what he said about you that made you angry enough to hit them?"
Emily let out a deep sigh. Shifting herself a bit in the chair, she looked out the window rather than at Dr Owens. She saw a bird out on a tree branch. It was blue. Emily watched the bird instead of talking. Dr Owens didn't push, she just sat there, and Emily remained immobile until the bird flew off. The little girl turned her head back to Dr Owens.
"You can't tell Kate or Rick. It's not their business." She warned.
"I mean it, you've got to promise. It's the law right?"
Dr Owens leaned forward in her chair. "I promise." She said firmly. Emily stared at her a moment longer before deciding to trust her.
"Tyler said that my mom was a whore, that she was better off dead, and that I would be an orphan forever cause I was a disease that no one wanted." Emily crossed her arms in front of herself and bit the inside of her lip to keep from crying. She didn't look Dr Owens in the eye, instead choosing to stare at the woman's shoes. They were black. "Then he said that Rick and Kate would probably wind up dead too, cause I was toxic and so I punched him. Then Jake punched me and we all fought each other until a teacher broke us up."
"You've gotten into fights before?" Dr Owens asked.
"Just getting all the information."
Emily kicked her legs back and forth and looked out the window, the bird hadn't come back, to her disappointment. "Look, I'm sorry I punched a kid, I know fighting is wrong and whatever and I won't do it again, can I leave now?"
"No." Dr Owens said with a smile. She reached behind her desk and pulled something out, passing it over to Emily. "I brought cookies this time."
Emily didn't want to take the woman's bait, but they were chocolate chip. "You play dirty." She grumbled as she took one of the more chocolaty ones.
"You make me have to." Dr Owens said simply. They sat in silence a few more moments while Emily enjoyed the cookie; getting melted chocolate all over her fingers and face and not caring one little bit. "Emily, were you raised in situations that showed you to hit when angry?"
"You're not very subtle, just ask." Emily said, a deep glare in her blue eyes.
"Alright, were you abused?"
"Define abused?" Emily asked, trying to stall the inevitable. Dr Owens raised her eyebrows and the little girl sighed. She figured this was what everyone was getting at. She knew better than to hit those kids, but she had hoped it would blow over before this. "Look, did my mom and her boyfriends get pissed and drunk and slap me a couple of times? Yeah. I'm fine. She's dead, it's really not that big of a deal, happens to a ton of people."
"That doesn't make it okay."
"No, but it makes it over and no longer relevant." Emily said coldly. "Also, none of Rick or Kate's business."
"Kate might already be aware, she has access to your medical records from your mother's investigation." Dr Owens explained gently.
Emily shifted uncomfortably in her seat, she hadn't thought of that. "Well, I don't want you to talk to her about it. It's really none of her business, she's not my foster mother."
"But you care about her." Dr Owens stated.
"So? I never said that."
"You never had to."
"Thanks for the cookies, can I please leave now?"
Dr Owens sighed and glanced at the clock. "Yes, our time is up for today, but I would like to see you again soon if that's okay with you."
"Whatever Doc, you bring the cookies, maybe I'll show up." Emily stood, paused and gave Dr Owens a small smile. She really didn't hate the woman or anything, in fact, she was kinda cool. Emily walked to the door and hesitated a minute before opening the door. Kate and Rick both leapt to their feet instantly at the sight of her. She stayed in place until Dr Owens pushed her forward gently from behind.
"She's all set for today, Mr Castle, would you like to make a new appointment with me for next week?" Dr Owens said. Rick jumped up and followed her after shooting a glance over at Kate. Emily slowly walked over to the tall woman and stood next to her, fidgeting with her hands and not looking her in the eye.
"How was it?" Kate asked gently. Emily shrugged and looked up as Kate laughed lightly.
"What?" Emily accused.
Kate grinned and licked her thumb, bringing it to Emily's face, she wiped away at the chocolate all over her cheek. Emily felt like squirming away the minute her hands lifted up to her face, but she remained frozen in her spot. It was an odd feeling but she didn't hate it. Rick walked back into the room and smiled at the sight of them, causing Emily to instantly feel embarrassed. She took a step back from Kate and saw the hurt in the older woman's eyes. Nothing she ever did was right.
Emily sat in the dark waiting. Alexis had told Rick that she would be home around eight. She lied. It was almost nine and Emily had been waiting far too long for the older girl. She was not a patient person. Huffing, she flopped down again on top of Alexis' bed. Finally, a few moments later she heard the sounds of Alexis returning and speaking to Rick downstairs. Alexis opened the door and Emily jumped to her feet.
"You're late!" She accused.
Alexis screamed out as Emily startled her and dropped one of the books from her hands. "Emily!" She yelped. "Don't do that!"
Emily ignored her and remained standing on Alexis' bed. "You said you'd be back at eight, it's 9:10." Emily said with a glare.
Alexis looked up oddly at Emily as she picked up her things. "Sorry, I ran late, what do you need?"
"Help! I'm planing a date for Kate and Rick." Emily said. Alexis frowned at Emily as she set her things down and moved over to the bed. Emily slammed her small body down next to her and pressed on, ignoring Alexis' looks. "I was a bitch to them, and they are just being dumb, this is how I can make it up to them before I leave." She explained.
That caught Alexis' attention. "Leave? What are you talking about?" The redheaded girl looked upset at the idea of Emily leaving. It confused her. The younger girl didn't know what to make of it.
"Foster kid implies temporary Alexis." Emily said coldly, before pressing her lips tightly together. She kept her gaze at her hands rather than Alexis' face.
Alexis only sighed and wrapped an arm around Emily, putting their foreheads together. "What's your plan?" She asked. Emily turned and caught the small smile on Alexis' lips and grinned mischievously.
Kate looked at her watch for the third time. She couldn't imagine why Emily had wanted to meet her at a fancy restaurant like this, the younger girl's taste in food resided more in pizza. Kate had certainly been thrilled when Emily had called her. It had been a few days since her outburst with them and Kate was surprised at how much she missed talking to her. Emily had apologized and offered to take Kate out to dinner. It had been so adorable and sincere that Kate had accepted instantly. She was curious as how Emily planned on paying, the girl had insisted on it being her treat.
Kate glanced at her watch one more time and scanned the room, shocked to catch Castle's eye. He looked just as startled as she felt. "Kate?" He asked as he made his way to her. "What...what are you doing here?"
"Emily invited me for dinner, are you dropping her off?"
"No she said..." Realization seemed to dawn on Castle and he laughed. Still confused, Kate stood waiting. "I think we have both been set up." He said, clearly amused by the whole thing.
Kate bit her lip and let out a small chuckle. "Well, she's certainly a cunning little thing." She feeling suddenly a little awkward. That girl was going to get it.
"Yes apparently. Shall we?" He asked, offering his arm to her.
Confused, Kate looked up at him. "You want to eat?"
"We might as well, best seafood in the city."
Kate smiled and took Castle's arm, dinner with him sounded great she had to admit. The two of them enjoyed themselves immensely. Kate couldn't remember a time recently where she had a more fun. They didn't have a current case, her therapy had been going well, she was feeling more and more comfortable letting herself go with Castle, and Emily was in better spirits. They talked about anything and everything, important and silly and Kate couldn't imagine it ever being any different. She let her guard down a little, and she could tell it was throwing Castle off a bit.
"I can't believe she did this." Kate said as the night was wrapping up.
"Ha! I can. She's been saying it to our faces forever, mine at least."
Kate twirled a piece of her hair that had fallen out of her bun. "Has she been better at home?" She asked softly. She hadn't spoken to Emily since she had gone with her and Castle to therapy; and Castle had stayed home with her during her suspension.
"Yeah, I mean she seemed to enjoy suspension a little too much. I've forced Alexis to tutor her so she's at least feeling punished somehow. Alexis decided to teach her all of the themes in Hamlet."
"Hamlet? She's eleven don't most kids read that in like their junior year?"
"Yep. Emily wants to murder Alexis." Castle said with a laugh. "Emily's insulted Shakespeare quite a few times, which of course insulted my life's work." He said dramatically. Kate rolled her eyes. "But she has taken to inventing much more creative insults with Old English, so at least she's learning something."
Kate let out a laugh as Castle grabbed the check before she could see it. "Castle, I can pay for mine." She protested.
"Emily would never forgive me." He said with a smirk. "I want to stay on her good side."
Kate glared at him, but conceded. The two of them walked outside and suddenly became incredibly awkward with each other. Kate could not believe it, she had never been nervous around Castle before and he was the king of making light of any situation. Right now however, he was staring at his shoes, the street, anything but Kate's face.
"Well, thanks Castle, this was fun." Kate said with a small grin.
Castle looked up at Kate with such an honest and loving gaze that it took the woman aback. "Until next time." He said and bent forward and kissed her cheek before jumping into a cab.
Kate stood there, shocked and elated for a moment before climbing into a cab of her own. She didn't know what to make of the evening. It was wonderful, but slightly terrifying. She felt like it was some sort of shift in their relationship but she couldn't figure out exactly what it meant.
Emily leapt from the couch the second Castle walked through the door, scaring the living daylights out of him. "How'd it go! Did you kiss her goodnight? You better have kissed her." She continued on, speaking faster than Castle thought was humanly possible before he grabbed her and placed his hand over her mouth.
"Hush child, I have no idea what you're saying." Castle smiled as Emily pouted and tried to move his hand. Just for fun, he kept it there and walked her forward awkwardly. "Slow down, and also, why are you up? It's late and you're going back to school tomorrow, you need to get some sleep."
Emily successfully smacked his hand away. "I was waiting for you." She explained, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "So did you kiss her or not?"
"You're devious you know that? We both went there under the assumption of having dinner alone with you." Castle said, changing the subject and pulling out ice cream. Emily got out bowls and spoons without a second thought and climbed up onto a stool, waiting. "Chocolate or mint chocolate chip?" He asked. Emily simply raised her eyebrows at him. "Both mixed together it is." He announced and dished it out slowly.
"Did you kiss or not?" Emily asked impatiently once her bowl was set in front of her.
"Is that really your business?" He asked playfully.
Emily looked horrified and annoyed. "As the matchmaker in the process, hell yes!" She yelled loudly.
"Shush!" Castle chided. "You'll wake up Mother and Alexis and then we will have to share our ice cream."
Emily shut up for a minute at that and they ate in silence. Being an eleven year old girl, she couldn't remain patient for long, and the second her bowl was empty she came at him again. "Was there tongue?" She asked with a guilty smirk.
Castle choked on his bite of ice cream. "Excuse me?"
"Tongue? Like french kissing? That's how you do it if you love someone, and you guys are in love. I think if some boy tried to put his tongue in my mouth I would vomit and punch him; but grown ups seem to like it." She shrugged casually.
Castle just sat there starring in horror at the thought of some faceless boy ever attempting to french kiss her.
"So!" Emily yelled impatiently.
Castle placed a hand onto her shoulder and smiled lightly. "We had a lovely time, thank you, don't do it again." He stood up and dropped the bowls in the sink, rinsed them and motioned for Emily to follow him upstairs.
"Does a 'lovely time' include kissing?" Emily asked as he led her up the stairs.
"Have a good night." Castle said, pushing her gently into her room.
"What! Rick! Did you kiss or not?" Emily yelled in frustration.
Castle smiled, bent down and kissed Emily's check in the same fashion as Kate's then promptly closed the door in her face. "I'll be waking you up bright and early!" He yelled and went into his bedroom, hearing Emily muttering angrily on the other side of the door. That Shakespeare was proving interesting.
"Did you kiss?" Emily immediately asked as she walked into the precent bullpen. Kate looked up in horror and glanced around her to see if anyone had heard the young girl. Luckily, Ryan and Esposito were nowhere to be found.
"What? What are you talking about? Why are you here?" Kate asked as she stood up and gently pushed Emily into the break room.
"Rick won't tell me, even though I asked politely, surprise attack asked him, threatened him, begged him, and sucked up to him. I gave up, I figured you'd be easier to crack."
Kate raised her eyebrows at the young girl and frowned. "You thought I would crack before Castle?" She asked skeptically.
Emily plopped down onto the couch and grinned up at Kate. "Of course, we're both women, its like a code or something right? That's what people in the movies say."
Kate glared at Emily and her grin faltered. Kate turned and began to make herself a cup of coffee. "First of all, you are a child, not a woman, and secondly, please don't believe things you see in movies, especially romantic comedies, they are not true to life." Kate turned around as she stirred her coffee and smiled at Emily. "And thirdly, Castle's right it is not your business, but for the record, no we did not."
Emily dramatically through her hands up into the air in frustration and let out a groan. Kate watched, amused as she stood up on the couch and tried to level her height with Kate's. "What!" She yelled. "I set you up on a date and you didn't kiss! What's wrong with you?"
"Emily, we didn't want to go on a date..."
"Bullshit." Emily interrupted. Kate glared at her and was about to chide her for swearing but Emily talked over her. "You love him! What are you scared of? Because he loves you back! I haven't even known you guys very long and its been obvious since I met you."
"What are you scared of?"
Kate set her coffee down and walked over to Emily, pushing lightly on her shoulders and forcing her to sit back down on the couch. Kate took a deep breath and covered Emily's mouth as she tried to speak up again. "Emily, I'm saying this again, it's not actually your business, but...you're right I am scared. I'm scared of..." Kate trailed off, losing her train of thought. As she said it, she realized that she wasn't actually scared anymore. Her date last night with Castle had felt right, moments had been awkward sure, but nothing about it scared her anymore. She had been using her mother's murder as an excuse, hiding behind it, Castle knew that, and she tried her damnedest not to see it, but it was true. The only thing keeping herself from being with Castle was herself. Hearing it from an eleven year old was eye opening. Kate smiled, which seemed to confuse Emily. Kate began laughing, hysterically and she barely saw Emily shrink back from her as she cracked up.
"What's wrong with you?" Emily asked in horror.
"I..." Kate was laughing too hard to explain. Emily stood watching Kate laugh for a moment and then stepped forward and slapped her across the face. "Ouch!" Kate yelled.
"You were freaking me out." Emily said with a shrug. "What's wrong with you?"
"I'm not scared of anything." Kate beamed.
Emily just looked at the older women, utterly confused. "Grown ups are weird." She announced and turned and walked out of the break room leaving Kate by herself. Kate sat grinning at her revelation. She might find her mother's murderer, she might not, at this point that wasn't a factor to her relationship with Castle. She couldn't believe she hadn't realized this before. Kate looked up as Emily walked back into the break room. "I need a ride home, Rick won't let me take the subway by myself even though I've done it a million times and I forgot money for a cab." She said with her arms crossed.
"How did you get here?"
"Oh I took the subway." Emily said casually. Kate frowned. "What? I forgot I wasn't allowed till now."
"Sure you did, come on." Kate stood up, eager to go over to Castle's immediately. She wasn't going to wait any longer, she might loose her courage.
As they drove over to Castle's apartment, Kate felt nervous and excited. She continually shot glances over at Emily and smiled.
"You're freaking me out again." Emily complained. "You're not supposed to do that, Rick's the weird one, you're supposed to be the normal one."
Kate only smiled to herself.
They walked up to Castle's loft and Emily was giving Kate odd looks, but the older woman paid no attention, she was almost giddy. Castle opened the door and she beamed at him. Confused, he looked back and forth between them both. "Emily? You are not up in your room." He stated slowly.
"Nope, but I will be in Alexis'." Emily announced and slipped past him, running up the stairs.
Castle watched her and then turned back to Kate, a lovable look of confusion still etched on his face. "I...how did she...what did she...that little..." He took a deep breath. "Want to come in?"
Kate grinned. "Yes." She stepped past him and played with her hands nervously.
"I can't believe that kid." He said shaking his head and sitting down on the couch.
"She's certainly a character." Kate paced in front of him. "Rick I..."
"How did she even get out? I was down here, there is only one door I would have seen..."
"Were you writing?" Kate asked in amusement.
Realization dawned on Castle and Kate let out a small laugh. "Crap." He moaned.
"Castle, its not like she ran away, she just came to ask me if we kissed." Kate said without thinking. Castle looked up in shock and Kate couldn't read the expression on his face. "I told her it was none of her business." She added quickly. "Then I said we didn't"
"Untrue." Castle joked. "I believe I kissed you on the cheek. Technically, that counts as a kiss no?"
"No." Kate said with a smirk. Castle pouted. Her nerves waning, Kate moved over and sat down next to Castle. "Rick...I wanted to tell you.." Kate looked up at his face and everything she wanted to say went out the window. She didn't need to give him some big speech. Her hands seemed to move on their own accord, she cupped his face and pulled him in to her, their lips connecting. She could tell he was shocked, but he wasted no time reciprocating. After a minute, Rick pulled back and just stared at Kate, clearly confused. "I just want you." She admitted. "I...I don't know what will happen with my mother's killer, or the fact that you've somehow acquired a foster child, or anything else Rick, I just want you."
He stared at her for a moment. Kate had never felt more vulnerable but then he pulled her into him and kissed her with everything he had. Kate thought she heard something upstairs, but she ignored it, focusing only on Rick.
"THEY'RE MAKING OUT!" Emily screamed as she burst into Alexis' room, a huge grin plastered all over her face.
"Who? What?" Alexis asked.
"Rick and Kate! Come look!" Emily ran over to the older girl and tried to yank her up off the floor but Alexis resisted.
"Emily, watching my father make out with someone is not exactly an activity I would enjoy."
Emily huffed and ceremoniously dropped Alexis back onto the ground. "You're a buzz kill, where's Martha?"
"I got them together and no one will celebrate with me!" Emily yelled.
"How do you know you did it?" Alexis joked. Emily glared at her. "Congratulations Emily, you're a wonderful matchmaker, want to get me a boyfriend?"
"Sure, I'm glad you're not with that Ashley guy, he has a girls name." Emily plopped herself down onto the floor next to Alexis. The redhead let out a laugh and wrapped an arm around Emily. "They're making out." Emily whispered mischievously. Alexis frowned at the look in Emily's eye.
"What are you thinking?" She asked, getting an ominous feeling.
Kate definitely heard something that time, but Rick's fingers were tracing her scar through her shirt and his lips were doing this wonderful thing on her neck and she just didn't care. She shrieked and leapt off of the couch, falling to the floor as cold water spilled all over her. Beside her, Rick was screaming as well, surprisingly in a higher pitch than herself.
"WHAT IS HAPPENING!" Rick screamed. He looked up and yelped, pointing his finger up to the stairs. Kate looked up and glared. Emily and Alexis were giggling, water balloons in their hands.
Alexis' grin immediately faltered at the look on Kate's face and she pointed to the younger girl. "It was her idea."
Emily frowned up at the redhead and broke a pink water balloon over her head. Alexis shrieked and stared at the little girl, completely baffled that she had turned on her. "You sold me out!" Emily yelled back.
"You're both dead." Rick announced. Kate looked over to him, met his eye and grinned. Emily only smirked and threw two more balloons a them, missing Kate but hitting Rick.
"We're the ones with all the ammunition." She reminded him.
"Oh really? Alexis, what is the number one rule in this house?" Rick asked as he walked around the room, his eyes never leaving the girls.
"Always keep the fridge stocked with ice cream?" Alexis offered.
Rick frowned. "No, the other rule number one."
Alexis' eyes widened and she pushed Emily in front of her. "Always have a water gun stocked and ready."
Emily yelped and tried to get behind the older girl as Rick pulled out a heavy duty water gun and cackled manically. He produced a second one and tossed it to Kate. The absurdity of this didn't bother Kate one little bit, she grinned and tested out her gun. Alexis screamed and tried to run back upstairs but Emily was clinging to her and trying to push the older girl in front of her as a shield. Rick ran up the stairs, soaking both girls and caught Alexis as she got out of Emily's grasp. "Get the little one!" He yelled to Kate.
Emily screamed and she bolted down the stairs, throwing water balloons at Kate and making a break for the bathroom to lock herself in. With ease Kate caught her around the middle, tackled her, and sprayed water into her face. Looking up at Rick and Alexis in almost the same position, she beamed as their eyes connected. She had no idea what the future would bring, but she had a feeling it would be good no matter what it was. Rick would be in it, that was all that mattered and this...this was all she could ask for. Rick, Alexis, Martha and even – hopefully – Emily. Kate let out an evil cackle of her own and tossed the water gun, tickling Emily instead and grinning as the girl giggled and begged for mercy. Kate leaned down and pecked her on the cheek.
Emily was half in Kate's lap, too tired from laughing to move herself. Alexis and Rick were still in an all out war; the two were more evenly matched and had much more experience with this sort of thing than Kate and Emily. "Thank you." Kate whispered.
Emily beamed up at Kate. "Kate and Rick sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g..." She began to sing. Kate grabbed the last water balloon and smashed her with it.