This is a short little piece that insisted on dislodging from my brain. I hope you enjoy it. Also, I know at this point, disclaimers are popular, but I don't really see the point. It's fanfiction.

"But, Katie! He doesn't like baseball!"

Kate inwardly groaned as she stepped out of the elevator into the dimly lit parking garage. She'd opted to walk with him to his car, glad to be free of the tension in Castle's loft following what was easily the worst meet-the-parents dinner in the history of meet-the-parents dinners. Not that she'd had a lot to go on. She knew for a fact that neither she nor her father had ever participated in a meet-the-parents dinner. Meet the boyfriend? Yes. But the boyfriend's family? No. Never. Completely unnecessary.

This was Castle's fault. Castle's idea. She'd been a naysayer, but he'd insisted. And she gave in. Because—dammit—he was whiny and persistent and he loved her and it was a little thing. And she liked Martha.

And her father. He liked Castle. He'd said so. Many, many times.

Call him, Kate.

He cares about you, Kate.

You're not being fair to him, Kate.

Here. Picked this up at the store, Kate.

Glad you got your partner back, Kate.

Don't let this one go, Katie.

And, now? Now? He was going to obsess because Castle didn't think baseball was exciting? There had to be more to it than that.

"Come on, Dad. Give him a break. He grew up with Martha. No steady male influence in sight."

"Yeah. Martha." Jim Beckett shook his head ruefully. "It's no wonder he doesn't like baseball."

"That's only because we haven't introduced him to baseball with the Becketts yet."

Her father paused, taking a long look at her.

"So, you're planning on that, then?"

Kate cocked her head, questioningly. "Yeah, Dad."

Her father nodded, briskly.

Kate looked at her father. Really looked at him. He seemed…disturbed.

"What?" she demanded.

Jim Beckett shook her question off, though, and wouldn't look her in the eye. He reached for his car door handle.

But Kate persisted. "No. What?"

"It's nothing, Katie."

"It's not 'nothing.' What's the problem? Is there— I mean, it's Rick."

"I know. It's just…" he trailed off.

"Just what?"

He looked her in the eye and then looked away again. He tucked his head sheepishly, and said quietly, "I thought little girls were supposed to pick men like their fathers?"

Kate huffed a surprised little half-laugh-half-scoff.

"You think Rick's not like us? Not like you?"

Kate stepped into her father wrapping her arms around his neck.

Jim Beckett immediately brought his hands up around his daughter's back, squeezing her tight. He could never get enough of her hugs and took advantage of every opportunity to hold on to his little girl. Still, he felt him embarrassment grow with each shake of his daughter's head against his own.

"Oh, Dad," Kate sighed. "He's so much like you. More than you know."

"Always there for me. Always forcing food my way like you did with Mom. And coffee. And he makes me laugh and he lets me cry. Just like you used to—without saying anything about. He's just there."

She pulled back to look at him. "And, God! The way he teases me—that's just like you and Grandpa."

"And he's smart, Dad. So quick. And he sees things other people don't see and sometimes, I think he looks at the world with rose-colored glasses—kinda like Mom—and it annoys the hell out of me—but, then, other times, I feel like he does that just for me."

"He's good for you." It's a solemn statement.

But she answers with a small smile. "Yeah. He is."

She tugged on the lapels of his jacket, her smile growing. "But, you know how he's most like you?"

He gave a slight shake of his head, and she was glad she had her father's attention.

"He's a great father. The best. Just like you're the best for me. And he'd do anything for Alexis, just like you'd do anything for me. And he did it on his own, Dad. And she's amazing and grounded—though I don't know how."

Jim nodded, eyes moist.

"And he'd do anything for me, too, Dad. He loves me that much."

"I know." He did. There was no denying that Richard Castle loved his little girl.

"Even baseball," Kate assured. "If I asked him to, he'd know every Yankees stat from the Bambino to Jeter by tomorrow morning."

Kate laughed. "He's probably trying to set up box seats with Joe Torre to make up for tonight right now."

Jim nodded, and pulled his daughter in for another hug. He felt like he wasn't going to get to be the one doing the hugging anymore.

"I know, Katie. You'll have to forgive. Just feels like I'm losing my little girl."

"Never, Dad," she whispered scratchily.

"We've never been here before, that's for sure."

"No," she said, pulling back. "No, we haven't."

"But, we'll make it."

"Yeah, we will."

"And, you two. You'll make it."

"I hope so."

"You will."

"You know—so long as you keep Martha out of the kitchen."

"Eh," Kate shrugged. "She's not so bad. Eccentric and—I don't know. But she's welcoming and believe it or not—"

"She likes you."

"Yeah." Kate didn't doubt that. "But it's more than that. She's…unconventional, but she—she taught him to live out loud. And…I don't know." Kate flushed not knowing how to put it in words. "It's nice. He's so unabashed—to the point that it's sometimes inappropriate, but you also don't have to wonder what he's thinking or feeling. Most of the time. So—"

"Polar opposite of you?" Her father joked.

"Yin meets yang," she mused. "I'm not that bad."

"And I dare say you're getting better." Her father went quiet.

"No. I know all that, Katie. And you're right. Don't have to guess how that man feels about you. I've known for a long time."


"I just don't want to see you get hurt. And I've never seen you in a place where you could be—not since your mom was here and she was yelling at me to leave you be. And, still that damn boy—"

Kate nodded. She knew exactly who her dad was talking about. Jason. She was young and he'd made her cry.

"Well—he could definitely hurt me, Dad. But he's had that power for a long time."

"Two-way street, though, huh?"


"It's hard, though, 'cause he might be able to hurt you, but tonight I've had to accept that he has more power in your life than I do."

"Ugh—that's not—"

"So true, Katie. The way that man can make you smile. I've never seen you so at ease. So happy. Used to be me looking out for you. Your number one. You and me, kid."

Kate hugged her father. "It's still you and me. You know I'm never giving you up."

"I know," he mumbled into her shoulder. "Just gotta learn to share."

A low laugh rumbled in Kate's chest, but came out as an exhale. "You and Rick both."

Kate pulled back, shaking her head at her dad. She'd hugged him more in the last few minutes than she had in the last few months, but he seemed to need it. Still, she had to admit, she was hoping to end this conversation soon, before it turned to more embarrassing questions or ammunition for later. Plus, it was cold and she hadn't grabbed her coat. She was glad when her father climbed into his car.

He rolled the engine over and put the window down.

"Maybe I'll take him to a game? We can bond over our daughters growing up, flying the coop."

"Oh. Please don't! You'll send him into a panic. Trust me. He hasn't had as much time to prepare as you."

"Can't prepare for something like this, Katie."

"Give him a few more years."

Jim Beckett narrowed his eyes at his daughter. She didn't seem aware of her off-handed comment. His smile grew and grew until Kate registered her words. Then she flushed.

There was a reason Jim Beckett was a lawyer. He loved these "gotchya" moments. Kate glared at him for making fun of her.

"Deal," he said finally, joy returning to his tone. "So long as you're patient with me."

"I can do that. Besides, I wanted to thank you, anyway."

Her father's eyebrows raised in response.

"For not doing the scary-dad-twenty-questions-I-have-a-shotgun thing."

"Didn't have to," her father said pulling out of his parking space.

This time, it was her eyebrow forming a question mark.

"Already had that chat when he invited me for dinner."

Kate's jaw dropped.

Her father smiled.

"Night, Katie."

Jim Beckett left with visions of ice cream and pigtails. And Kate, too.

Any and all comments appreciated. Thank you! And Happy Castle Monday!

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