December 10, 2011
It's weird, having to keep a secret from her dad. She's never done it before, but she doesn't know what to do with this one. It's not like they're together, or were ever together; Alexis is pretty sure the ship sailed on that one a few years ago. Nonetheless, there was definitely something, she knows there was. So she doesn't know what to do.
When she walks into the kitchen he's standing over the stove, wearing a ridiculous snowman apron she bought for him one Christmas when she was six or seven. Every year since she turned eleven, she's begged him to stop wearing it, but every November, it's back;
and he wears it to cook everything right up through New Year's.
“Baby bird! I thought you were doing something with Beckett this morning?” He's stirring something on the stove, and she thinks she knows what it is.
“Are you starting that already?”
“Already? It's four days until the Christmas party. A quality Castle Christmas Surprise has to age at least 10 days!” He stops stirring and looks up at her. “What's wrong, kiddo? You were doing something with Beckett this morning, weren't you?”
What, I'm the child of estranged parents again? she groused silently. At least I actually like spending time with Beckett, unlike my mother. “Oh, something came up. We're going to do it tomorrow instead.”
“With a case? Did it sound murdery? Should I call her?”
Shit. “Uh, no, not a case. She didn't say, but the phone call didn't sound case-like at all. Something to do with packages or something. I think it was about Christmas presents. She had to drive to, uh," where would Dad never go, even for Beckett? Ah! "New Jersey?”
“Well, we know how I feel about New Jersey.” He winked at her. “Hey, you wanna help? It's just about time for the Corn Pops.”
“You know I do. Come on, gimme that spoon, I'll stir.” She sighed. Lying to Dad thoroughly sucked, but it was for his own good.
Kate paced the room, back and forth, back and forth. Lanie wondered if she was going to wear a groove in the rug.
“Shit, shit, shit.” Lanie watched quietly from the couch. Kate swore, paced, and swore some more. Scientific curiosity aside, it was time to rescue the rug.
“Kate, stop swearing. And pacing. In fact, come here and be quiet.” She reached an arm out and grabbed Kate by the wrist, pulling her onto the couch, nearly into her lap.
“I don't understand why you're being so calm about this! That was Castle's daughter! You opened the door wearing nothing but my NYPD tee shirt -- to Castle's daughter!” Kate pulled out of Lanie's grip as if to stand up. “She's going to run home and tell Castle!”
“Kate, please.” Lanie put her arm around Kate, who sat on the edge of the couch, glaring at her toes. “She's not going to tell Castle. She's a bright and mature kid who certainly understands her dad's limitations and our right to privacy. And anyway, even if she did, who cares?”
“He's the biggest gossip in department history! All of homicide will know by lunchtime! You're the one who wanted to keep this on the down low.” Lanie reached out and took Beckett's hand, kissed her knuckles once and held it in her lap. Beckett allowed herself to relax against Lanie's shoulder, but looked up at her, worried. “Don't you think it's going to hurt his feelings? I hate that damn puppydog look.”
There are four RSVP envelopes waiting for her the next morning when she goes to check the mail. As she's riding up the elevator she flips through them to see who their from. That guy, the director Grandma insisted they invite, James Patterson, Beckett, and holy hannah, Laney Parrish.
“What's in the mail, my little parakeet?” He was still wearing the apron from when he had made breakfast.
"Dad, I swear that this is the year I'm getting rid of that apron and getting you a new one."
"But I love this apron!" She glared.
"Well, if you pick it... Anyway, The mail?"
“RSVPs for the party. That director guy, Jim and, uh, some people from the police.”
“Didn't that invitation say RSVP by December first? I say you call them all and tell them they can't come.” When she smiled up at him and said nothing, Castle decided there was something very wrong with his daughter. “What's on your mind, kiddo?”
“You know, I think we should. It isn't right that people think they can just answer whenever, walk all over you like that. Just because you're well, you, doesn't mean they can treat you like that.”
He was taken aback by the harshness of her reaction. Alexis, his Alexis, usually knew when he was kidding around. He didn't care one way or another about the invites, the RSVP date or any of that, never had, never would.
“Baby bird, is there something you want to tell me? Boy trouble? A bad grade?”
“No, nothing like that.” Alexis leaned over and kissed her dad on the cheek. “I have to go. I told Chelsea we'd go shopping today, and I'm already running late.”
Alexis waits three days before calling Beckett. She's mad at her, and she's big enough to admit it. Her dad, really, really likes Beckett and Alexis really, really likes her dad. She certainly doesn't keep secrets from him. Ever. Beckett's put her in an impossible situation. She had to go sleep at Chelsea's for two nights just to keep from blurting it out over breakfast.
As she waits for Beckett at their coffee shop, she keeps getting more and more angry. They're supposed to be friends. Her dad and Beckett are supposed to—how could she do that to him? To them? Alexis isn't a child anymore, and has never been a fool, she knows her dad can be frustrating sometimes but she'd thought Beckett reciprocated... and then for them to both accept their invitations to his party!
“Alexis?” She looks up and Beckett is standing there looking down at her.
“You're going to ruin my dad's party!” she snaps and suddenly bursts into tears. Right away, she feels like an idiot and tries to stop crying, but it's her dad and this is going to hurt his feelings so much. “Beckett, how could you?”
Beckett remembers when Alexis was fifteen and Castle wouldn't let her go to a weekend-long party in Westchester with her friends. They'd all been eating dinner, some ungodly thing Castle had made, and she'd made the exact same face at him she was making at Kate now.
“I, um, I,” Beckett struggles to find the words. Teenage girls are a mess to try and deal with to begin with; a teenager like Alexis, whip-smart and devoted to Castle, even worse. “It just sort of happened, kiddo. Your dad and I really aren't suited. The job, the books...” The self-centeredness that blinds him to the needs of everyone except you... she added silently.
“But he really likes you.”
“I really like him too, but we don't love each other, not like that.”
Alexis nods, like she gets it, but she doesn't. The idea, that someone could not love her dad! He was hilarious, and a really great dad, he had tons of money but he never flashed it around, not unless it was to get people stuff he thought they needed to make their lives better. And he made Castle Christmas Surprise every year.
December 14 2:00pm
“Alexis!” Her dad was once again wearing his snowman apron, standing over the bowl that contained this year's version of Castle Christmas Surprise. “You're just in time for the unveiling of Christmas Surprise 2011!”
Grandma was sitting on the other side of the island, a bottle of brandy in her hand. Alexis eyed the bottle and met Grandma's eyes.
“He wants to flambé it this year.”
Alexis felt as worried as Grandma looked. “ I'll dial nine one, and wait.”
“Dad, seriously, do you think that's the best idea? Remember that Easter you flambéd the French toast? It took weeks for your eyebrow to grow back.”
“That's why Mother is doing it this year; she doesn't have any to lose!”
Alexis smiled, but she could tell it didn't meet her eyes. He was in such a good mood, Christmas was his second favorite holiday, after Halloween and before Thanksgiving. She really didn't want to ruin it for him but keeping secrets was so much harder. And this was so much worse than wanting to go to France for a semester.
“Dad, there's something,” She paused, “There's something you need to know.”
“This about the secret you've been keeping from me for three days?” He put down the blow torch and Grandma put down the brandy.
“What? You knew about that?”
“Alexis, you're my daughter, and as such I love you, but where you got your total lack of ability to keep a secret from me I'll never know.” He smiled at her and her heart just broke. It was serious, he knew it was serious, she could tell, and still he was trying to make a joke about it, to make it easy for her.
“It's about Beckett and, uh, Lanie Parrish.”
December 14 8:00pm
There were things about Kate that drove her crazy, sure. She was a bit of a control freak, but all cops were like that. She never, ever left her work at work. Ever. That being said, there were more things that drove her good crazy than bad. Like lying in bed watching her across the room try on the fourth dress of the evening.
“You try one more dress on, a girl's gonna get jealous you know.”
Kate met her eye in the mirror without turning around, smiled a half smile. “Yeah? Why's that?” As she waited for an answer she pushed the strap off one shoulder, caught Lanie's eye again and pushed off the other, letting the dress pool at her ankles.
Lanie's breath caught as Kate's dress slipped off, exposing a smooth expanse of back that she was definitely going to file away in the good crazy folder. “Might start to think you wanted to look your best for an old boyfriend, maybe make him a little jealous. Might start to think that's the whole point of bringing her along.”
Beckett knew people; she read them for a living. Her life and the lives of others depended on her ability to pay attention to the non-verbal clues as closely as the verbal. Lanie might have sounded like she was joking, maybe even lied to herself that she was joking, but her body language and the look in her eye gave her away. Beckett turned from the mirror and moved towards the bed.
“Hey now. That's not what this is about at all. You know that, right?” She reached out and took Lanie's hands, pulling her bodily up so they were eye to eye. “Making anyone jealous, that's not what this is about at all. You're not a rebound girl for me, Lanie Parrish.”
She leaned down a placed a light kiss on lips that met hers and quickly deepened it. Warm hands wrapped themselves around her waist and pulled forward, momentum knocking them both onto the mattress. Beckett huffed out a breath of air at the impact and Lanie took the opportunity to gently bite at her lower lip. Suddenly tongues were battling for dominance in Beckett's mouth and Lanie's hands were going places that precluded any attempts to get to Castle's on time.
Kate pulled away smiling, took a much needed breath, and pulled Lanie's around from her ass and lay them on her breasts. “I thought you wanted to get to Castle's on time?”
Lanie grinned up from where she was about to bite down on Kate's nipple. “That was before. You really want to pass this up to go to a party?” Kate's only response was to moan as Lanie's lips wrapped around her nipple, her teeth scrapping the sensitive flesh.
December 14 10:45
They stood before Castle's door. Kate had just knocked when Lanie grabbed her hand, spinning her so they were face to face.
“Kate, there's something, there's something you need to know.” Lanie looked serious and worried, not at all a face about to head into a party.
“Lane, what is it?”
“It's Castle, he knows everything about us. It was his idea.”
The news knocks the air from Kate's lungs. She doesn't know how to come back from that. She's about to launch a barrage of questions when the door opens.
“Lady cops! You made it!” Castle's standing there, wearing a red shirt and green jacket, a look he's totally not carrying off. Kate's still bewildered as to what the hell just happened, what's going to happen and responds in the only way she knows how.
“Castle!” And a slap upside the head.