A Fuzzy Halloween
A/N: Sorry I've been gone so long, I've been dealing with a major case of writer's block. My co-writer and I are still working on The Hunter, so I hope you guys haven't given up on that one! A couple of weeks ago, I posted a kind of half drabble on my tumblr: grabnetsrik1 dot tumblr dot com and that inspired this prequel fic. Hopefully I can get back on track with my writing now. This one is for the #CastleHalloweenBash. It's not very Halloweeny, but it does take place on Halloween, so I hope it counts! :) I wanted to post this for Fluffy Friday, but I was too late. Oh, well. I hope you enjoy this!
"Mama, I wish you were coming wif us." Lily's big hazel eyes looked so sad, though there were no tears, thankfully.
Kate returned the look. "I know, baby, I wish I could too. But we couldn't get a big enough costume, so this whale's gotta stay beached."
A voice called from the office.
"Hey now, don't insult the beautiful mother of my children!"
Kate grinned at her husband's sappiness and turned back to her daughter in her Dorothy outfit. The four-year-old was scowling at her mother in her blue gingham dress, pigtails and silver shoes – an insistence from Castle, because they were silver in the book – "As much as I love the movie, as an author, I must go with the literary."
"Yeah, Mama. Don't 'sult yourself," the little girl parroted.
Kate's smile grew wider.
"Ok. But I still have to stay here," she said. "You and Daddy will have fun, though. Just the two of you, while the three of us are at home."
"And Alexis," Castle interrupted the conversation as he walked in the bedroom, straightening his scarecrow hat in the mirror over the dresser. Kate smirked at the straw in his costume getting everywhere. He'd be cleaning that up later.
"She just called and said she'd be able to come over after all." He bent to kiss Kate on the cheek and then her just under eight months pregnant belly. "Are the twins behaving?"
"Yeah, they seem to be napping now. They won't start kickboxing until I try to go to sleep."
"Did I do kickboxing, Mama?" asked Lily.
"You certainly did!" Kate replied, booping the little girl's nose.
"Did it hurt?"
Kate's heart melted a little at her daughter's concern.
"No, baby girl, it didn't hurt. It was a little uncomfortable, but it was worth it to feel you inside my tummy. Just like it's worth it to feel the twins."
The doorbell rang.
"Trick or treaters already?" asked Kate.
"No – well, I suppose it could be," said Rick. "But it's probably Alexis."
"Oh, that's right. You just said she was coming, didn't you?"
Her husband just smirked.
"Don't make fun of me, Castle," she glared at him.
He gave her a mock "Who me?" look and left the room, followed by Lily begging to answer the door.
Kate hauled herself out of bed, refusing to 'entertain' Alexis in her bedroom. She wasn't exactly on bed rest like she had been with Lily – due to her injuries during the Loksat case – but her doctor had told her to take it easy this time too, and she took that advice to heart.
She began medical leave a month after the ultrasound confirmed twins. She knew she was healthy, and she was confident she could carry to full term, but twins were different, and she didn't quite trust that confidence.
Ryan and Esposito kept her in the loop of what was going on at the precinct. Their reports were more of the 'which officer is getting married' variety, which in Esposito parlance was, 'which officer has lost his damn mind'. Her replacement sent her a file of the official stuff along with the guys when they visited her every couple of days.
Lily's squeal interrupted her thoughts along with a two-person chorus of "Shhh!" from Castle and Alexis.
After a quick detour to the bathroom, (these two really needed to get off her bladder already) Kate waddled out of the office to see Alexis coming out of the laundry room.
"What's going on?" she asked.
Rick turned to the closet and pulled Lily's jacket from its hanger.
"Just heading out for some candy, right Lil?"
"Yeah! Trick or treating, Mama!" she exclaimed.
Kate eyed the all-too innocent expression on Rick's face, then let her suspicions go.
"Do you have Toto, Lily?" she asked, a little surprised at the almost fearful furtive look the girl gave her father.
"He's in your basket, baby," he lifted the cloth cover to show her the stuffed Scottie dog nestled inside. "So, are we off to see the Wizard?"
Lily's smile lit up the room.
"The Won'erful Wizard of Oz!"
Castle opened the door to escort Lily out.
"We hear he is a whiz of a Wiz…"
"If ever a Wiz there was!"
Kate could hear the chant singing continuing after she shut the door and turned to Alexis.
"Can I get you anything?" she asked.
"You don't have to wait on me, Kate," the redhead replied. "I just want to hear about your last ultrasound."
"Okay, so your dad…" she was cut off by a snuffling.
"What was that?"
"I didn't hear anything. Probably just trick or treaters."
"No," Kate disagreed. "I'm sure this was inside."
There was a knock and a muffled "Trick or treat!" coming through the door.
"Why don't you get these kids and I'll make us some tea," Alexis said a little too quickly, almost running to the kitchen.
She opened the door with the bowl of candy in her hand and oohed and awed and shrieked appropriately at the group of princesses, superheroes and monsters.
As soon as she shut the door, however, Kate's detective instincts kicked in.
There was something in the loft that her husband and stepdaughter didn't want her to see or know about just yet. And they'd gotten Lily in on it too, so that meant it wasn't a bad thing.
Then why the secrecy?
The snuffling started up again, followed by what sounded like a woof and a whine just as the doorbell rang.
Kate marched to the laundry room. (Marched? Okay, fine, whatever. In her mind she was marching.)
"Um… Kate?" Alexis queried, obviously trying to deflect Kate from her mission. "The door?"
"Your turn," Kate said, raising an eyebrow. "I know you guys are up to something, and I'm gonna find out what it is. Detective, remember?"
Alexis went to the door with a sheepish smirk on her face. She and her dad had been hoping it would be a little longer before Kate figured things out, but yeah. Detective.
As Alexis was doing her own gushing over costumes, Kate opened the door of the laundry and gasped.
A half-grown bulldog looked up at her, snorting and panting and giving her a big doggie smile.
"Well, hi there, bud," she smiled. She couldn't really bend down to pet the dog, but she tried and was able to touch his nose.
The puppy slurped at her fingers and Kate's smile grew.
She and Rick had discussed getting a dog – ostensibly for Lily, to help keep her company while Mama and Daddy were busy with the twins, but Kate was the one who got excited while they were tossing ideas around on specific breeds and/or sizes. She hadn't had a dog as a kid, (her mom was allergic, and then she was way too busy after graduating from the academy to have a pet) but she'd always been partial to bulldogs.
"It's their faces, Castle," she had told him, more animated than he'd seen her since she began her leave. "And the way they snuffle and snort is so cute!"
That's when it stopped being Lily's dog. Kate would share, though.
She didn't want a young puppy. Six or seven months old at the youngest. At least partially house trained, though they'd make it work if it wasn't.
A sharp kick straightened Kate up.
"Hi, guys," she said to her bump, wincing at the sharp nudge and rubbing the place she felt the movement. "It looks like your daddy and sisters got a Halloween surprise for us."
"Yeah, Dad wanted you to be a little spooked, though. Maybe think the loft was haunted before you figured it out."
Kate jumped at Alexis' voice behind her.
"He's followed me long enough that he should know better," Kate grinned.
I told him that, but you know how he is, he gets an idea and then he's on rails.
Kate joined in the laughing. Yes, even after all these years Castle was still a nine-year-old on a sugar rush.
The tan and white bulldog looked up at the two women quizzically.
"Come on…." Kate glanced at her stepdaughter. "Does he have a name?" she asked.
"Not yet," Alexis returned. "Dad said that was your job. Don't worry though, he knows this doesn't give him carte blanche to name one of the twins Cosmo."
Kate patted her belly in a 'come on' gesture and moved back out to the living room, the puppy bounding after her. Alexis stayed behind to see if the absorbent puppy pads needed changing.
No sooner had Kate sat on the couch when there was another knock at the door. Alexis jogged to the door and passed out candy to the group, and the next one who arrived before she shut the door.
"Can you lift him up here?" Kate asked. "I want to pet him and I can't reach him."
"I'm surprised you want him on the furniture," Alexis mentioned.
"Well, things are about to get more hectic than usual around here, I don't know if I'll have the energy to keep him off. Besides, I'm a bit of a sucker," she said, remembering how she let Royal on the couch during the Francisco Pilar murder case.
Alexis lifted the puppy onto the couch and then went back to the door to pass out more candy.
"So, what are you thinking about namewise?" she asked when she returned.
"Oh, Alexis, you have no idea how long I've thought about this," Kate laughed. "Even after I'd decided not to get a dog, I thought about it. Definitely longer than I've ever thought about names for kids. I've had one in mind for years, but I don't know. I wouldn't mind some input from you guys"
"So? What's the name?" the redhead leaned over to pet the puppy.
Kate looked thoughtful.
"I picked Leroy when I was a kid. But since your dad's an author, maybe something literary? Beowulf? Because 'wolf'?"
Alexis watched the bulldog squirm onto his back, not at all subtle about wanting his belly rubbed, his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
"Maybe a little pretentious? What about Beowoof? Keep the book reference, but soften it up a bit?"
A low growl came from the pup. Both women laughed.
"Or not," Kate snickered. "He doesn't seem to like that one."
They spent the next 20 minutes tossing names back and forth, interspersed with Alexis passing out candy to trick or treaters.
Kate changed the subject when the puppy stood up and began snuffing around the couch, whining and nosing forward like he wanted to jump off, but was afraid to.
"Do you think he needs to go out?" she asked.
"I think you're right," Alexis replied. "The pad was wet earlier, but nothing else. Let me get his box."
She stood and went back to the laundry room, returning with a medium sized box with doggie paraphernalia – toys, treats, a collar and leash. She put the collar around his neck and attached the leash. Kate picked him up and put him on the floor. She frowned.
"I wish I could take him," she said. "But by the time I get ready to go, he'll have already gone."
Alexis grinned at the play on words.
"We'll be quick," she said as Kate heaved herself up. Standing was so much easier when she was pregnant with Lily. She rubbed her hands across her belly. Big as a house or not, she loved her twins.
"I'll take care of the monsters at the door," she told Alexis as she was putting a jacket on. "I need to stand for a few minutes anyway."
When Alexis returned ten minutes later, she had her dad and Lily in tow.
"You're back early," Kate said, kissing Castle as Lily put her basket and stuffed Toto down and scrambled onto an ottoman to make it easier for Mama to hug her.
"Lily was excited to come home to our new dog," he answered. "We did get some good loot, though," he held up the pumpkin container filled with candy.
"Yeah, Mama. We went to Grap's 'partment and did two floors, then we went to Gram's and did one floor, then I wanted to see our puppy." The four-year-old jumped up and down excitedly as she spoke. She'd lost both ribbons from her braids, Kate noticed.
"Alexis tells me you figured something was up almost as soon as we left," Castle fake-pouted.
Kate gave him a mild version of 'The Look'.
"You'll have to try a lot harder than that to spook me, Richard Castle." She laughed at his devious grin. "Maybe just wait until after the twins are born?"
"Of course," Rick leaned in for another kiss. "But other than that, it'll be when you least expect it. I can wait years, Beckett."
Kate rolled her eyes. She doubted he would wait that long. She turned to Lily, who was rubbing the dog's tummy and giggling at his squirming.
"Did you name him yet, Mama?" Lily asked, still petting the dog.
"Alexis and I were talking about it earlier. Did you and Daddy come up with any names?"
"Daddy said you really like bulldogs," the little girl said seriously.
"That's right, I do," Kate replied, equally serious.
"So I decided you should name him whatever you want." Lily looked up at her mother, smiling her biggest smile.
"Yeah?" Kate asked, her eyes a little misty. Her sweet daughter.
"Yeah, Mama. I'll still play with him and help with giving him food and stuff, but I want him to be your dog."
Kate bent down as best she could and hugged Lily tight.
"Well, you know what?" she said as she pulled away from her daughter. I've had a name in mind almost ever since I knew what a bulldog was!"
Lily smiled. "What! What Mama?!"
"Leroy. I think he looks like a Leroy."
Leroy let out a happy woof.
"He likes it, Mama!" Lily exclaimed. "He knows it already!"
"Yeah? You like that, Leroy?"
The doorbell rang again, and Leroy barked in earnest.
Lily's peals of laughter drowned out the calls of 'trick or treat' from the door.
Best. Halloween. Ever.
A/N 2: Thoughts?