Back for CastleFanficMonday! This is from a prompt on castlefanficprompts on Tumblr, which will be posted at the end. I hope you enjoy!
It began when Lily was a toddler...
"That's right, Lily!" Alexis caught the animal book before her eighteen-month old sister batted it out of her hands in excitement. "Those are tigers!"
"Ornj and back!"
"Right again! Tigers are orange and black."
Lily's enormous smile triggered Alexis's. She tried to turn the page.
"But Lily, there are pandas on the next page. Don't you want to see a picture of Yin-Yin?" she indicated Lily's stuffed panda sitting on the couch next to them.
Lily looked over at the black and white bear, then picked it up and hugged it.
"'In-'In 'ook tiggers."
Wide hazel eyes peered into blue and Alexis was a goner.
"Okay, baby girl. We'll stick with the tigers."
'Tigers. Why did it have to be tigers?'
Rick smiled sourly to himself at his inadvertent paraphrase of Indiana Jones.
'Though' – he mused, 'snakes would be worse'.
He was leaning on one of the bookcases that formed the entrance to the office; watching his daughters reading together. His smile became genuine at the beautiful sight. The two looked nothing alike, but sisters couldn't be closer than these two, no matter the age difference.
He felt arms circle his waist as he heard Alexis ask Lily if she was bouncy like Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh stories; the tiny girl proving she was by springing up and down on her sister's lap, making Alexis laugh.
"Hey," Kate greeted Rick with a kiss to his cheek.
"Hey, yourself." Rick turned to smile at his wife, giving her a quick kiss before turning back to the girls.
"What's going on?" asked Kate.
"Alexis is reading to Lily," he answered.
"Why were you so pensive a second ago?" she asked, pinching his side lovingly. "Feeling a little old?"
He eyed her smirk, faking annoyance at her tease.
"No," he replied, keeping up the appearance of offense a moment longer. Then the somberness came back into his eyes. "No, they're reading a book about animals," he sighed. "And Lily is stuck on the tigers. She won't let Alexis turn the page to the next animal."
"Oh, God," Kate murmured. "Do you know that even after all this time, after everything we've been through; I still get nightmares about that case?"
"I know, right? It even put a damper on our handcuff play the first couple of times. 'Next time without the tiger' notwithstanding."
Kate's smirk was back.
"Thank goodness we got past that," she remarked, reaching up to run her fingers through his hair in a move that was more tender than erotic.
Rick waggled his eyebrows then gazed at Alexis and Lily again.
"I love seeing them together like this, I love how much Lily's enjoying books and reading. I even love that she loves animals."
He paused and Kate filled in the rest.
"You just wish it wasn't that particular animal."
They continued watching as Alexis and Lily growled at each other and dissolved into a fit of
The love of the big cat didn't stop there…
Four-year-old Lily ran into the hospital room, Alexis on her heels, trying to get her to slow down.
She skidded to a stop next to her mother's bed, breathing heavily.
"Sorry, Kate," Alexis panted. "I tried to calm her down but she wasn't having it."
"That's all right, Alexis," Kate told the redhead. "Hi baby girl! Are you two ready to meet your brothers?"
"There's two, Mommy!" exclaimed Lily. "We gots two presents, 'cause we gots two babies!"
Kate smiled at her little girl and looked up at Alexis.
"I can't wait to see what you've brought for them!"
Lily looked around the hospital room and hopped over to the twin bassinettes.
"Where are my babies?" she asked, small frown lines forming above her nose.
"Yeah, where are our brothers?" Alexis broke in with a teasing voice.
Kate laughed at the innocent look on her stepdaughter's face and turned back to Lily.
"Daddy's gone to get them from the nursery. Will you let me see what you brought before they get here?"
"No, Mommy," Kate almost laughed aloud at Lily's exasperated tone. "We hafta wait. My babies Jake and Reece hafta be here to get their present!"
Rick walked in as Lily was admonishing her mother.
"Aaaannndd... Here they are!" he announced with a flourish.
Alexis was up and at her father's side in a flash. Lily was right behind her, jumping up and down in excitement.
"Lily, why don't you climb up by me?" Kate patted a space in the bed beside her. "That way I can help you hold one of the babies."
Lily lit up and immediately clambered up the side of the bed.
"Gimme my baby!"
The adults laughed.
"Wait just a second, honey," Castle told her as he held out an arm full of baby to Alexis. "Alexis, meet Jacob Roy Castle."
Alexis took Jake from Castle and began cooing a greeting.
"Hi, Jakey! I'm your big sister! It's so nice to meet you!"
Rick watched his eldest bond with her brother a moment before handing Reece to Kate.
"Lily – I'd like you to meet Reece James Castle."
Kate gently placed Reece in Lily's arms as she looked up in awe.
"He's so tiny," she whispered.
"He is," replied Kate, as she ran a finger down the baby's face.
Reece wiggled his fingers.
"He waved 'hi' to me!" Lily's smile was so wide it nearly split her face in two. "Do you think my babies will like their presents?"
"Let's open them and see!"
Kate took Reece as Lily climbed off the bed and ran over to where the gift bags had been placed.
"I hope my babies like what I got them," she mentioned as she scrambled back onto the bed.
"Should Daddy and I open them at the same time?" Kate asked her little girl. The twins can't open them by themselves yet."
Lily nodded in excitement, her smile growing impossibly wider.
Kate watched as her husband situated himself in a chair next to Alexis. He glanced up at her
"Three!" Lily shouted.
"A little impatient, Lily?" laughed Castle as he and Kate pulled stuffed tigers out of their respective bags, one white and one orange.
Their smiles dropped. Fortunately, Lily was too enamored of the baby lying on the bed next to her to notice. But Alexis did.
"Do you think they'll like the tigers?" Lily asked.
Kate smiled down at her daughter. "I-I think they'll love the tigers, Lily," she stammered. Maybe not as much as you do, because nobody in the universe loves tigers as much as you!"
"I wanna take them to the zoo!"
As their conversation went on, Alexis spoke softly to her father.
"Dad, what's the matter? Is there something wrong with Lily's gift?"
"No… Nothing's wrong. What could possibly be wrong?"
Once again it seemed Alexis was the parent and Castle the child squirming under her stern gaze.
"Oh, all right. Remember that case where Kate and I were handcuffed together? And it turned out to be tiger trafficking?"
"Dad, that was years ago!"
"I know – but we've both kind of been freaked out by tigers ever since."
"Are you serious? Did you know that Lily's been asking why you guys never go see the tigers with us when we go to the zoo?"
"Well, now you know why."
The love continued through the years for Lily – as did her parents discomfort…
"Mom, can I ask you something?"
Lily climbed on one of the barstools at the kitchen counter, watching her mother cut slices of tomato for a sandwich.
Kate put the knife in the sink, then turned to open the bread box for a couple of slices.
"You can ask anything, baby. What's up, Buttercup?"
The ten-year-old frowned, and looked down at her fingers, twisting them through the others.
"Maybe it's dumb – it's prob'ly dumb – but…"
Kate reached for Lily's knotted fingers and leaned over the counter.
"Lily Castle, whatever's bothering you isn't dumb. I don't even know what it is and I know it's not dumb. You can tell me anything."
"Younevercomeinmyroomanymore," Lily said in a rush.
Kate was nonplussed.
"What do you mean? I come to your room all the time."
"You knock on the door and tell me it's time for dinner, or whatever, but you never come inside anymore. Daddy doesn't either, but when I asked him he said he thought I might not want boys to come in. But I really don't get you. I pick up my toys and clothes so I'm not messy, but you never come in and I just wanna know why."
She sounded so devastated that Kate practically overflowed with tears. This was on her and Rick. His excuse sounded somewhat reasonable, but she had none. It was time to get over it.
"You know, Sweetie, I was wrong. This is dumb," seeing the look on her daughter's face she rushed on. "Not dumb on your part, but on mine."
Damp hazel eyes met damp hazel eyes.
"You'll laugh at me and in this case it's okay… It's your tiger poster."
Rick came into the kitchen then, having overheard Lily's distress. He sat in another barstool and pulled the little girl onto his lap.
"Your daddy used to have a big picture of a lion on the bedroom wall that kind of freaked me out."
"Kind of?" interjected Rick with a grin. "You said Linus was looking at you like he was going to eat you."
"Well, he did," Kate retorted with a slight grin, then turned back to Lily. "But Linus was nothing compared to all of your tigers."
"What's wrong with my tigers?"
"Nothing's wrong with your tigers, Lily," Rick said. "It's what's wrong with your mom and me."
Kate thought Lily couldn't look any more confused and decided to tell the whole story.
"A long time ago, before your dad and I got together…"
"Like boyfriend and girlfriend?" Lily interrupted.
"I think we need to have a discussion about how you know about boyfriends and girlfriends," groused Rick.
"Hush, Castle." Kate glared at him, but was cheered by Lily's soft giggle.
"We were working together – not boyfriend and girlfriend yet – and we were working on a case when we got kidnapped together."
Lily was wide-eyed.
"We ended up handcuffed together, and when we tried to escape by kicking through a wall, it turned out there was a hungry tiger on the other side."
"And we've both been really nervous about tigers ever since," remarked Rick.
"And it's high time we got over it." Kate was emphatic. "After lunch, we're going to the zoo and we're hanging out with the big cats!"
An hour later, Rick, Kate and Lily were getting up close and personal – albeit behind glass – at the tiger enclosure at the Bronx Zoo. The twins hadn't come, they'd had a planned baseball game with Grandpa Jim, Mets vs. Phillies. Besides, this was something Rick and Kate needed to do with their daughter.
"They really are beautiful animals," Kate murmured to Rick once she'd finally joined Lily, who had her nose pressed against the glass the minute they arrived. It had taken her parents a little longer to get that close.
"I wish you'd told me sooner, Mom. I might not have been as into them."
"Well, then I'm glad we didn't tell you," replied Kate, kneeling down to Lily's eye level. "You are entitled to love what you love. I'm sorry we let our fear take some of that away."
Lily hugged her mother and Rick hugged them both.
Then all three jumped back a few feet when one of the tigers leapt up and put his paws on the glass.
Lily laughed, bright and blissful.
"I love tigers!"
Her joy was worth the nightmares they'd have tonight.
Prompt: "Caskett feel uncomfortable about Lily's favorite animals being tigers due to the events of Cuffed"
I hope I did it justice and I'd love to hear your thoughts!