A/N: When I realized what the date was today, I wanted to get something out, to show a celebration of Johanna Beckett's life, rather than concentrate on her death. I hope you enjoy!
Castle padded into the living room, rubbing his eyes and yawning, looking for his wife.
Ah, there she was. He frowned. She'd started early – 3AM early.
Kate knew he was there, of course, and he knew it. He wasn't trying to be stealthy, and even if he had been, he wasn't awake enough to pull it off.
Rick saw her smile wanly in the reflection of the window she was standing by.
"What are you doing awake?" she asked as his arms snaked around her.
"I got lonely."
"I didn't want to bother you," she said, turning into his embrace.
"As if that would ever happen," he snorted.
"I want to not be sad anymore," Kate's words were muffled against her husband's shirt as she snuggled closer. "I have so much here with you and Lily and…"
"And you miss your mother today, and that is absolutely 100 percent okay," Rick interrupted. "You're visiting her today, right? Do you want to be alone? Do you need me to hide somewhere with Lily? Anything you need…"
It was Kate's turn to interrupt.
"No, babe," she gave a half laugh. "I need the two of you. I want us all to go visit. That is – unless you don't want to…"
"What did I just say?"
The smile grew bigger and reached her eyes. "I want her to meet Lily, and I want to explain why I haven't been around for the past year."
"I think you've had good reasons," Castle mentioned.
While in the hospital with Castle after being shot by Caleb Brown, Kate had discovered she was pregnant. At first the news devastated her – she was positive the doctor was going to say she had miscarried. And even after the joy in finding out the baby had survived, guilt weighed heavily on her at the danger she had put herself and her child in. Rick had pulled her up many times in the ensuing months on bedrest.
January 9th of last year came and went – not without a mention of Johanna, but the determination to keep baby Lily inside just a little longer necessitated not visiting the cemetery. "She understands" was a mantra both she and Castle recited all day that day.
Then the greatest joy of all, and proof to Kate that her mother was watching over her little family. Lily was born February 4th. Still two weeks early, but having her daughter born on her mother's birthday just made it all the more joyous for her and for Jim as well.
"What's your dad doing today?" Castle asked, reading her thoughts.
"He likes to read her old case files, and look up the people she helped – see how they're doing now. Mostly he just Googles them, but he's become friends with a couple, and even sponsored one when he fell off the wagon."
A cry came from the nursery upstairs.
"Want me to bring her down?" Castle asked.
"No, let's both go up," Kate replied. "I want to rock Lily while I feed her, and tell her about Grandma.
The next morning – or rather, later that day, the three bundled up and went to visit Johanna's grave. Both adults contemplated how true the inscription on the headstone was. Vincit Omnia Veritas – they had beaten the odds. And the proof was crawling on the grass in front of the grave.
Castle had cleared away the snow surrounding the area so Kate could set Lily down, and the baby was trying to pull herself up using the headstone. Mittened hands frustrated her a little, but it wasn't enough to make her cry. Lily was jabbering and babbling – a few words legible to her parents, but she wasn't talking to them.
"I think she's talking to your mom," Castle said. "Do you think she's seeing something we can't?"
Kate just smiled.
The rest of the day was similar to the morning. Joy tinged with melancholy that would be a part of the emotion of this day forever. The three ate breakfast at Johanna's favorite diner, and picked up hot dogs for lunch at a Nathan's Famous that was close to her law office.
They went to Rockefeller Center to watch ice skaters, and Kate told Rick about her neon green skates.
"They were awesome, Castle," Kate laughed. "I wish you could have seen them, but they were one of the things I lost in the explosion." Her smile fell, but she brightened again when Castle came back with:
"We'll have to find some new ones for you then. Maybe neon pink this time."
Kate looked at her daughter, sacked out in Castle's arms.
"I think we should get this one home," she said. "It's been a big day."
"For you too," Rick replied. "Was this change in your tradition a good thing for you?"
"Oh, yes, Castle. It sounds corny and sappy, but it's been so freeing to celebrate her life instead of crying over her death. There will always be a sadness there, that… I don't know… I don't want to end, if that makes sense. But yeah, remembering her life – more than her death – has made this a good day."
She kissed his cheek.
"And we're going to visit again on their birthday."
"Sounds like a plan."
It was cold, but they were only a few blocks away and they didn't want to fight to get a cab. So Castle heaved Lily into one arm without waking her, took Kate's hand and they moved down the sidewalk toward home.
A/N2: I have a headcanon that Kate got pregnant during one of the "time-in's" in season 8. Nine months from May is February, and I liked the idea of Lily being born on her grandmother's birthday. :)