She's been quiet since they left the obstetrician's office. Not angry. Not agitated. She doesn't seem upset at all, in fact. But the news they just got was huge and life-altering and her silence about it is becoming a little unnerving.
Stepping through the front door of the loft, Kate toes her shoes off and kicks them to the side and out of the way, padding over to the kitchen to heat the tea kettle while Castle hangs up their coats. She uttered maybe a dozen words on the drive home, mostly in response to his queries about what she wants for dinner and if she has to report to the office tomorrow. Single syllables and a few head bobs are the only things she gave up.
Castle is growing more tense by the moment. Sure, his wife can be introspective at times, so that's nothing unusual, but the doctor just told them that she's carrying twins. He wants to race to the roof of their building and shout the news to anyone within earshot. He wants to take out a full-page ad in the New York Times announcing their double delight. He wants to sweep his wife into his arms and spin her around and kiss her passionately. Maybe even entice her into bed before Lily returns in a few hours from her day at the zoo with Poppa Jim.
But her reticence has him thrown for a loop. Is she unhappy about this? They were thrilled when they discovered she was pregnant again. Lily's been such a sweet blessing upon their lives, and they had talked about having more children. At long last, there were finally no more dragons to slay, no more dangerous upheaval in their lives. They started their family without the specter of the LokSat case hanging over them, and it's been pure bliss. The news of another baby on the way had only compounded their joy.
He approaches her slowly as she watches the kettle, yearning to make a joke about the watched water not boiling, but he decides not to poke the bear this time. His wife is usually a pretty easy read for him these days; eleven years of partnership has attuned him to her moods and body language, but she's got him stumped at present. However, if those eleven years have taught him anything, it's that avoidance never ends well for them.
Kate's finally meets his eyes with a small grin. That's encouraging. "Hey. I'm gonna have some tea. Want some?"
"Sure. Some of that peppermint stuff you like so much, please."
He settles on one of the stools as she wanders from one cabinet to the next, gathering mugs and tea bags and setting them on the bar between them. She's still reserved, but she doesn't seem closed off.
"You've been awfully quiet since we left Dr. Haber's office. What's on your mind, Kate?"
She sighs, tucking her hair behind her ears. Classic Beckett, he thinks. She always does that when she need a few seconds to gather her thoughts, but at the very least, she appears calmer now, ready to talk.
"I actually wasn't very surprised. About having twins, I mean."
His eyebrows shoot up at her confession. "You weren't?"
She's wearing a soft smile, and he's taken aback all over again by how gorgeous his wife is; never more so than when she's pregnant. She positively glows.
"No, not really."
"Okay, I'll bite. What do you know that I don't?"
"Well, first of all, I'm forty now, and the odds of conceiving multiples definitely go up as women get older."
Castle takes a long, appreciative look at his wife, from head to toe. "If I may, I've known you since you were twenty-nine and you have only gotten hotter with age. If you keep going like this, you'll put me in an early grave."
Kate snorts at his praise, but he can see the pleased blush on her cheeks. He's not kidding when he says she grows more beautiful by the day, and the knowledge that she's carrying his children? His heart can barely take it, threatening to burst from his chest when it swells with pride and love for her.
"Not my intention. I need you to stick around for a long time to come. We're gonna have three kids to wrangle soon." Her hair briefly hides her face when she shakes her head at the idea, and he understands all too well; he's still trying to wrap his mind around it, too. Three children…this was not their intent. But then again, when have things ever gone according to plan for them?
"And I think I've told you this before, but there's a history of twins on my mom's side of the family. So, who knows...these two could be identical or fraternal. Time will tell." She runs a hand over the small bump that's already taking over her middle and his hand itches to do the same.
"You've mentioned it. Your morning sickness was a little worse this time, too. And maybe it's just my imagination, but you popped out a little earlier this time. Aren't both of those a thing with twins?"
She narrows her eyes at him but her smile never fades. "You callin' me fat, Castle?"
"Ha! Hardly. You're one of those women who only look pregnant in profile." He slides from the stool and rounds the island, no longer content to be separated from his wife. One hand glides over her hip while the other settles on her belly as he murmurs, "Not to mention you are the sexiest pregnant woman I have ever laid eyes on."
"Flatterer. You know better than to mess with a hormonal woman."
He shrugs as his hands coast over her waist to clasp at the small of her back, pulling her to his front, the hard bulge of their twins (their twins, oh my god, it hits him all over again) snug against his torso.
"My mother didn't raise a dummy. And it's not flattery. You really are stunning, Kate. You've taken to motherhood like a pro. I couldn't have asked for a better partner to raise my children with."
Kate laces her arm around his neck and draws him forward until their foreheads meet and their noses brush. "You did a pretty great job on your first crack at parenting, and lest you forget, you did it alone."
"Pure luck. Alexis practically raised herself. And me, in retrospect. But it's so different this time around. Having you here, knowing I can rely on you, knowing you want and love these kids just as much as I do...it's everything."
She only needs to lean forward another few inches before her mouth is pressed to his. He basks in the touch and the taste of her lips, still intoxicating after all these years, and when he deepens the kiss, she answers his call willingly. Maybe he can coax her into bed, after all.
Of course, that's the moment the kettle begins its shrill whistle, and they pull apart with breathless smiles and darkened eyes. She goes about preparing their tea, the fresh scent of peppermint infusing the air in no time. It's not until they're settled on the stools and sipping their drinks that he speaks up again.
"So, Beckett. If you weren't surprised about the news that we're having twins, why so quiet on the trip home? You had me a little worried."
She reaches out to take lace her fingers through his, squeezing in reassurance. "I'm sorry, babe. It was just a little overwhelming. I was struggling to wrap my mind around it. And then, I couldn't stop thinking about Simon and the stuff he told us all those years ago."
"Simon? Simon who?"
She scoffs at him but he's honestly stumped. "Simon? Doyle? The 'time traveler'?" She holds up her hands to make exaggerated air quotes. "Remember? The one that became 'your favorite case'?" More air quotes.
Castle's eyes grow wide at the realization; he'd been so blown away when the obstetrician had detected two heartbeats on the ultrasound today, it hadn't even registered that yes, in fact, they were going to have three children, just like Simon had said they would.
"Oh my God, Beckett. Oh my God. Do you realize what this means?"
She rolls her eyes at him, obviously regretting having gotten him onto this line of thinking. Ah, his wife, ever the pragmatist.
"No, but Beckett, listen. He was right. Don't you see? He was right about everything!" He's vibrating with energy now, excited by the recollection of that long-ago case and the future that Simon had painted for him. The future with her that he had yearned for so desperately, the one that's now coming to fruition, particularly now that she's giving serious consideration to running for state senate.
She shakes her head as she sips her tea, humoring him and his outburst. He's well aware that they view magic and mysticism through vastly different lenses, but come on. The guy was eerily accurate about their destiny.
"Castle, he made some lucky guesses. Even a broken clock is right twice a day."
This time, it's his turn to roll his eyes at her. "Yeah yeah, and even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in awhile. I know. But think about it." He holds up a hand, ready to tick off his points to her, finger by finger. "First of all, he said we'd have three kids. Second, he said you were a senator."
"Well, in all fairness, I'm not a senator yet, Castle. I'm just mulling over a bid right now."
"Pppppfffftttttttt!" He dismisses her self-deprecation with a wave of his hand. "Like you won't win. It's practically a done deal."
Kate goes to object, but he's not having any of it. "And third," he says loudly before she can interject, "Please recall that he said I would write serious literature, and that novel that I wrote based on the materials Jorge Zamacona gave me? Very well received, both critically and commercially."
She blows out a long, audible sigh, appearing to acquiesce for now. He's so excited, how can she deny him?
"Fine, Castle. You're right. He managed to get a couple of things correct. I'm still glad we didn't let him tell us our children's names, though."
"Ooooooh, now that would have been interesting."
"No, not interesting. He probably would have told us we had a boy first, and knowing you, Lily would have ended up being named Cosmo instead," she exclaims, reminding him of the temporary moniker he had bestowed on the baby they had cared for during a long-ago case.
"Oh yeah, Cosmo. I want to keep that one in consideration for these little ones."
She bats his hand away when he reaches out to palm her bump again. "No. None of my children will be called Cosmo, Castle. Don't even go there."
"Fine," he sighs, feigning exasperation. He hops down from his stool and nudges his body between her legs, drawing her close again.
Kate nestles into his arms, a sweet smile adorning her face when she gazes up at him.
"You know Castle, he was wrong about one thing, and I'm glad for it."
"Hmmm? What's that?"
"You may have dipped your toe into the world of serious literature, but you haven't given up mysteries. I love how you write Nikki and Rook, and I love that I get to keep reading about their adventures."
Oh, how he adores the fangirl side of his wife. It's such an endearing, irresistible facet of her personality, and he's thrilled that the thing he does best in life makes her so very happy.
"I could never give Nikki up, any more than I could give you up, Beckett." He punctuates his statement by tilting her chin upward and pressing a lingering kiss to her lips that quickly turns heated.
When they part, they're both panting and gazing hungrily at each other.
"You know Castle, my dad won't be back with Lily for a few hours. I think we should properly celebrate our big news, don't you?"
He grins, wide and uninhibited, because how did he ever get so lucky in this life? To be able to claim this gorgeous siren as his own, to make beautiful children with her, to be married to his partner and best friend...it's more than he ever hoped for.
"Last one naked gets poopy diaper duty for the twins the first week home."
He lets her win this time, but later, when he's holding his wife after making love to her, he realizes he's already won, a million times over.
Thank you for taking the time to read, and I hope you enjoyed it. I always love hearing your thoughts, if you feel so inclined!
Thanks to Alex and J, two of the loveliest betas you'll ever meet.
Much love to my Monday night Skype viewing buddy for the last year+, Kelsey, for another amazing piece of artwork.