And here we are, the final piece of this story. I'm so happy you've all stayed with me on this ride and I hope you enjoy this as well!
Where we left off:
"It's to go along with the honeymoon, really. But um, Katherine Houghton Beckett, will you marry me again? At a time when we're not stealing Ryan and Jenny's thunder and when everyone else can be there with us?"
His hand opens slowly and her mouth follows suit. Oh, that is an engagement ring. A gorgeous, large engagement ring.
They've been married for a month and a half and her husband is giving her an engagement ring and proposing to her in front of her dad, his daughter, and his mother. (All of whom are beaming, she notices out of the corner of her eye.)
So they're doing it all a little backwards; marrying before dating, getting engaged after marrying. But by some miracle they work, and she'd be lying if she said this gesture doesn't make her love him so much more.
Stepping into him, she kisses him until her lungs burn. If that's not answer enough, once they part, she grins against his lips and manages to find her voice, "Well, if you insist."
The last time she woke up this befuddled, she found a man in her bed and a ring on her finger. This time she wakes alone, sore, and said ring is gone. This time, though, it doesn't take long for the fog to clear. Her fingers are swollen and have been for the last month, so no ring, even though it'd pained her to take it off after over two years of wearing it every moment of every day. She's in a small hospital bed, one that makes sharing comfortably a feat. And, oh yeah, she spent seventeen hours working to bring her son into the world.
Now she remembers why everything hurts. No wonder she slept like a rock once it was over. But he's here – finally – and as sore as she is, she can't help but want to get up and find her baby.
Her baby first, then her husband, although she has a feeling they're probably in the same place.
"Cassle?" she calls, wiping the sleep from her eyes. Stretching is a bad idea, but she does it anyway, looking around the room carefully for signs that anything is amiss. Not that she expects anything to be, she's just being cautious.
"Hey, honey," he's whispering. Oh, he has the baby on his chest. Their son felt so large while she was pushing, but he looks positively tiny against her husband. "How're you feeling? Besides being sore."
"Like I could eat a cheeseburger while drinking a latte in a hot bath?"
Castle smiles; even in the relative darkness of her room, she can see the flash of teeth.
Pushing herself up isn't easy, but she manages to do it without wincing much. Castle looks concerned, but he doesn't comment. Good man. He knows she knows when to stop these days.
"Is he okay?"
"He's okay, Kate. We're just bonding."
"Yeah?" She reaches for them both, pushing sleep away in favor of this wonderful, quiet time with her family. No doubt the morning will bring another slew of visitors and they'll have to share. "Have you been bonding for long?"
She shifts over, attempting to make room on the bed for them. It'll be a tight fit, but they can manage. He slides beside her with a grace he doesn't always possess, holding the baby securely. The little thing doesn't even stir as his father settles against her bed pillows. God, he's so trusting already, theirs to protect.
"Maybe an hour?" Meaning longer than that, but he won't admit it. "A nurse came in to check on you guys and it woke him. So I gave him a bottle and he settled."
"Mmm." She strokes her son's cheek with a finger before lifting her hand to stroke her husband's cheek, too. Castle leans into her hand, soaking up the affection joyfully. God, he's so happy to be here. "How'd he do with the bottle?"
"Good. She said if you're up for it, you can try to nurse in the morning."
"I'd like that." Her first attempt hadn't gone so well, but the baby had been agitated and she'd been emotional just feeling him in her arms. She wants to do it, though, if she can.
Her lips touch Castle's quickly. "Have you slept?"
Rick shakes his head. "Just watched you two."
"You should rest, Castle," she chides, listing into him a little more. "If you don't they might take him back to the nursery to sleep."
The nurses tried a few times earlier, citing a more restful sleep for her, but neither of them wanted to let their son out of their sight. Even with that tracker bracelet around the baby's ankle, they're not taking any chances. Not after the man who had her mother killed tried to have her killed – twice – and then framed for another's murder before finally getting his rightful punishment. Not after someone attempted to take her husband as he was on his way to meet her in the Hamptons for their anniversary vacation. She's never going to complain about his weird obsession with Zombie Apocalypse Survival again; that silly camp he'd dragged her to the spring after they were married probably saved his life.
The prospect of Castle not being here to meet his son terrifies her even now, months later.
Castle kisses her forehead. He knows. He knows she's on edge still. He's been beside her each time nightmares have startled her awake, leaving her terrified that someone had taken him or the baby from them.
"I'll rest, Kate, I swear. He's just hard to put down."
She can't argue with that, not even in the slightest. "Yeah he is. He didn't want the hat?"
"Nah," Castle hums, twisting a little to accommodate the arm she's snaking under the baby. "No swaddling, either, as you can see."
"He stretches like you."
Her nose nuzzles his cheek, lips pursing in a gentle kiss.
"Says the bed hog."
Tired as she is, she can't help but giggle. They've been having this argument since they got married.
"He comes by it honestly."
"Yeah he does," he agrees softly. "We have a baby, Kate."
"You're just now noticing that?" she teases, brushing their son's hair. "Thought it would've been obvious when my boobs grew two cup sizes and I turned into a blimp."
He feigns confusion. "You mean those weren't just really good bras and too much of your dad's macaroni casserole?"
"Oh, that was exactly it. And then bam, this guy shows up out of nowhere."
"Alien abduction, obviously." He's mostly abandoned his usual favorite – CIA Conspiracy – in the last few years, for obvious reasons, but he still likes to throw the crazy theories out there once or twice.
Her thumb slides against the back of the baby's head. She's careful not to touch that one spot all the books talk about. "So I hear these things are supposed to have names, is that right, super Dad?"
"That's the going thought. Although there is something to be said for calling him 'hey you' for the first two years. We could do it."
"No, babe, we're not doing that."
"Fine, Mrs. Castle. What do you suggest?" He thumbs the baby's ear. "Is he a David?"
"Mmm, what do you think, baby?" she whispers, watching their son's eyelids flutter at their voices. "You look like you like David. Or are you a Ricky like your daddy?"
Rick hmphs beside her. Ricky's his least favorite nickname, except for when she's running her lips along his neck as she murmurs it.
"I still like Thomas, too," he adds as he shifts the baby a little.
"I do, too."
It was her grandfather's name. Her mother's father. The man Castle's playfulness often reminded her of in the early days of their partnership.
Her fingers slide against her son's fingers. God, he's perfect. Ten fingers, ten tiny fingernails, perfect little lips, perfect nose, a perfect little forehead. She sees Castle in him and she sees herself. Her baby.
"Thomas David," she murmurs, kissing her husband's shoulder. He likes David, he has since the random summer day she handed him a positive pregnancy test and asked if he was happy only to have him practically tackle her in excitement. "Or David Thomas?"
"Thomas David Beckett Castle?"
It's sweet, but a mouthful. "Four names, Castle? Isn't that a little much? He's so little."
"Only for standardized tests and when we're really, really mad at him. He's the best of both of us, Beckett, shouldn't he have that?"
Her heart clenches. He is the best of both of them. He's proof that they've made it through everything life has thrown at them.
"Thomas David Beckett Castle," she hums, brushing her lips over Castle's cheek. "Do you like it?"
"I love it, Kate."
She smiles, rubbing her son's cheek. "What do you think, baby boy? Is that your name?"
He sleeps on, nestled against Castle's chest. "I think that's him, honey."
"I think it is."
"Hi, Thomas," Castle coos. "Welcome to the world, little boy."
Her breath seizes at the words. Their son's finally here. After all the fighting and the worry, he's here in Rick's arms.
"I love you," she breathes, breaking the gentle silence and swiping at her nose. Stupid hormones won't stop making her cry.
"I love you, Kate. What you did earlier was… amazing. Extraordinary."
"I'm just glad he's here and that you're here."
He passes Thomas over gently, waiting until she's settled to slide his arms around her.
"Kate, there is nothing, nothing, that would keep me from being here."
She sniffs, kissing her baby's forehead carefully. "Damn right. And I'll shoot you if go anywhere."
Castle's lips slide against her temple. "I'll never go anywhere, Kate."
She shuts her eyes, feeling the slow movement of his chest against her back. Thomas stirs against her, tiny fingers clenching the loose nightshirt she'd been allowed to don after getting cleaned up. Her breath stutters at the motion, but somehow she finds the words,
"I'm here, Thomas, I'm here. Daddy's here, too."
Her husband grins. He loves being Daddy. He loved it the first time she called him that when talking to their dog, and he's lit up every single time she spoke to her stomach while she was pregnant. He's murmured it against her belly nearly every night, just before curling around her and falling asleep.
"We're here." He thumbs their son's back. "And tomorrow your uncles are coming to meet you, and your big sister will be back with your grandpa and your gram. Everyone's coming tomorrow. Except for your puppy brother. He has to stay at home, but he's excited, too." Castle's fingers slide over hers when he pauses. "They're so excited, Thomas."
Everyone's ecstatic, even the dog. The boys were working a case all day and couldn't get away, and Lanie was elbow deep in a body when Thomas arrived. Her dad, Alexis, and Martha were there nearly the entire time, only going home to feed Royal and make sure the house is ready for the baby to come home in a day or so.
"And now we have a name to tell everyone, too."
"Hey, we do." He grins, brushing his cheek against hers. "Good timing. I mean, it's writer's timing, since it's 3am, but it's good timing nonetheless."
"Well, you live with a writer long enough…"
Her husband chuckles. "Say that like you don't love it."
Oh, she loves it. It, him, all of it. She can safely say that, even with all the shit they've been through, she wouldn't change a minute of it. Not their spur of the moment Atlantic City wedding, not the awkwardness that they fought so hard to overcome in the weeks after, not the fights – oh they've had some knockdown, drag out fights over big things and small things alike – there is nothing she would change.
"Mhmm, shut up."
Castle grins, fixing their son's blanket gently. "Shut your eyes, Kate. I'll take him when you fall asleep."
Her eyes slip shut, only to pop open again. "You need to sleep, too."
"I will. I'll put him down and I'll sleep on the couch over there."
"You'd better. No more creepy staring."
"You love my creepy staring."
"Love you, not the staring," she reminds softly. "Love you more when we're both not sleep deprived before he's even a day old."
Castle chuckles. "That's fair."
Her chin lifts, intent on catching whatever part of him she can reach to kiss. It's not the best angle, but it's worth the stretch when she gets his mouth finally. The kiss is a little sloppy, a lot sleepy, but it's exactly what she needs.
"Thank you," she breathes, pressing her face against his chin. She'd thought she'd have to let him go home in the morning to clean up and shave, but he put toiletries for himself in her bag so he can stay and the selfish part of her is glad.
"For what, Kate?" He keeps his voice low, hypnotizing. It's the voice he used whenever she'd wake up from a nightmare and want to stay awake.
Sleepiness licks at her, just like he wants, but she pushes through.
"Everything? For Thomas? For marrying me even though I was a mess and couldn't do something simple like date you first?"
"Ah, but by marrying me you also couldn't date anyone else while we figured it out. So it was still a win for me, really." She feels his muscles shift when he smiles.
She laughs softly. He's only half serious, she knows, but she reminds him of one important part anyway, "Don't want anyone else, Castle. Just you."
"I know," he murmurs, dipping his head. "I know, honey."
Her shoulder tingles under his lips.
"Tell you a secret?" she whispers, shifting Thomas closer. He sleeps on, perfectly content in their hands.
Castle inhales softly, thumbing her ring finger gently. Hopefully the swelling will go away soon; she misses the weight of her wedding ring.
"Tell me a secret, Kate," he agrees, indulging her fight to avoid sleep for a few more minutes. He loves a good story.
"When you went to Atlantic City with the boys, you know what Gates told me?"
He shakes his head. They both remember her annoyance when the captain overruled her and sent him with the boys instead of keeping him with her. The power struggle with Gates ended when the woman backed her with Bracken, but they both remember how they clashed.
"She said she wanted to see what I could do without… distractions."
He kisses her shoulder again. "So, of course, you drove to AC to meet us and married me." He grins, rubbing his nose against her nightshirt. "Boss thinks your partner distracts you, so you marry him. You're such a rebel, Kate."
Thomas snuffles when she laughs. "Sorry, baby, sorry. Daddy's making me shake."
"But Daddy's right," Castle singsongs. "Mommy gets told to stay away from the bad boy and Mommy marries him instead. Not only that, Mommy makes it her idea. No wonder Gates was so baffled when she found out."
"Anyway," she interrupts, trying to breathe through her giggles. "I just… wanted to tell you that."
Her husband smiles. "Well I'm proud to be your best distraction. And your most handsome rebellion."
She's too sleepy to roll her eyes, especially since it's more or less the truth. "Better be proud, buddy."
His fingers smooth down her arm, the movement enticing her to slump against him. Sleep pulls her in, wrapping her up tightly.
"To have all this, Kate? Always," he whispers, and that's the last thing she hears before she drifts off again.
A/N: I cannot begin to express to you guys how much I appreciate the support you've given me over the course of this story. I was blown away by the response from the very beginning and I'm still amazed that so many of you have read and responded to this fic. Every favorite, every review, every rec has made my day without fail. In the coming days I'll try to respond to everyone, but for now thank you, thank you, thank you all.