"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature."

― Abbé Prévost, Manon Lescaut


"I lied, before."

Kate looked up from the soft little body in her arms. The baby's face was slack with sleep, his mouth opening and closing. He was blond like his sister. The fingers of Beckett's free hand dusted over his scalp again and again, smoothing down his cap of hair.

The room was as dim as it could get, but the fluorescent hum from the hallway outside gave him enough light to see his wife. They'd each had their turn with the baby. First Javier, who had choked up and whispered in Spanish to his namesake. Lanie had been next. Rick had captured Kate's hand in his and squeezed as they watched their friends with Nicholas, and then it was his turn.

He loves babies, always has. He'd hammed it up for the benefit of the others, pulling ridiculous faces at the newborn. And then it had been Kate's turn. She'd taken the baby from him with ease, smiling and still chatting to Jenny, but Castle had seen the trembling in her fingers right before they secured themselves at Nicholas' back. She was nervous. Espo and Lanie had left pretty soon after, and then Ryan had gone home to see Sarah Grace.

Castle and Beckett had promised him they would stay with Jenny until the hospital kicked them out, or until Ryan got back. Kate had been holding the baby the whole time. She whispered to him every so often, and offered her index finger for him to wrap his tiny hand around.

"What did you lie about?" she asked. Her eyes were already drawn back to the little one fast asleep in the crook of her elbow. She had a pillow on her lap to support the baby's weight, but he was still tucked in close to her body.

"When I said I already have everything I could wish for." He scooted his chair a little bit closer to Kate's side. Jenny was asleep in the bed, her back to them. He kept his voice low, his lips brushing Kate's ear as he spoke. "I want this for us. This is what my wish would be."

There was a bassinet next to the bed and Kate laid the baby down inside, making sure the blanket was tucked in close around him. She came back to Castle's side and offered a hand to him, used that grip to bring him out into the corridor with her.

"A baby?"

"Yes." He summoned his courage and lifted his eyes to hers. "We talked about it, last year. Before what happened with Tyson, and then you became captain, and then. . ."

Tension rippled along the length of her spine, but he wouldn't make her hurt again. They've talked it out enough. "We never even finished the conversation. I never got to tell you how much I want that for us. For you."

"I want it too." She lifted her chin in the face of that truth, as if she thought he might tease. It made him laugh, and he wrapped his arms around her. She took her heels off earlier, and barefoot in the hospital corridor she fit neatly underneath his chin.

His lips traced the pale line of her scalp and he felt her breath coming in content little puffs against the hollow of his throat. "I want to start trying, Kate. There's never a right time, not really. And I don't want to wait anymore."

"Okay."

"Yeah?"

Kate stepped away from the wall of his chest and grinned up at him. She nodded, and he choked on something that would have been a sob on someone less manly. He captured her face between his palms and leaned in to kiss her. They were tucked in close to the doorway of Jenny's room, but he was still mindful of the nurses that milled in the corridor. He kept it light, kept it sweet.

When they broke apart, she tangled her fingers with his. "I want to do this, Castle. We've been talking about it in the abstract since that case with baby Benny. And I think. . .I think we're ready. If this year has taught me anything, it's that you and I can handle whatever life throws at us."

Ryan appeared at the other end of the hallway before Castle had time to say anything back. "Hey Castles. How's my son."

Pride puffed up Kevin's chest. Castle clapped him on the back. "He's great. Fell asleep in Auntie Kate's arms."

He caught her blushing from over Ryan's shoulder, the way she turned her face as if to hide it. It made him soft. "We were thinking. If you want, we can babysit Sarah Grace tonight and Jenny's mom can get a chance to come and meet her grandson."

Castle darted a glance at his wife to make sure she didn't mind, but she was already nodding and coming to squeeze Ryan's hand in both of hers. "We'd be happy to do it."

"Sure, yeah, that'd be great. Thanks guys. I'll text Jenny's mom and let her know, if you're okay to go straight from here?"

"Absolutely. Go snuggle your son, Kev."

They watched through the slats in the blinds as Ryan went into the room and scooped Nicholas up from the bassinet. Kate's cheek was at Castle's shoulder, her arm hooked through his. He felt the strange work of her jaw as she spoke.

"At least he got to be there this time. You are not allowed to go into any burning buildings while I'm in labour, got it?"

He laughed and kissed the top of her head. "Honey, please. Be serious. I'm not leaving your side for the duration."

"Labour can be pretty long. It can last days."

"I meant the pregnancy."

That made her laugh and she rewarded him with the warm press of her lips to his cheek. He stayed in the corridor while she ducked inside the room to get her shoes. It allowed him to watch as she leaned in close over Nicholas and kissed the soft crown of his head. He breathed slowly, tried to keep the great tide of yearning at bay, but it was already swamping him.

Kate came back out of the hospital room and put a hand at his shoulder to steady herself while she slipped her heels on. Once she was done, he took her hand and walked with her to the elevators. She was too quiet, and when he darted a glance at her she pressed her lips together, but amusement came spilling out all the same.

"What?"

"Hmm?" She tilted her head. "Oh, nothing. It's just that you kind of shot yourself in the foot, buddy."

"I did?"

She lifted one shoulder in a shrug and stepped away from him to lean against the wall of the elevator car. "Well, I was pretty eager to start trying tonight, but you volunteered us to babysit our niece, so."

He squeaked out a noise of indignation, but she was already laughing and leaning in to kiss him.


A/N: This one's for Allie, the light of my life, a beautiful princess.