Taken from a photo prompt, which can be found at castleincalifornia dot tumblr dot com slash post slash 147116156079.

Please don't be upset.

Kate stares at her phone for beat, a frown creasing her brow. Nothing good can come of a text message from her husband that begins that way.

Her sweet, loving husband. The silly, impulsive man that's currently caring for their infant daughter at home today. So his initiating any conversation with a plea like that makes her mind spin wildly into all of the worst-scene scenarios that her cop's brain can conjure in ten seconds flat.

Upset about what exactly, Castle?!

She struggles not to tap her foot and drum her fingers on the surface of her desk while she waits for a response.

Oh, no no no, all is well at home, Beckett. Lily is great. Ate all of her cereal and green beans at lunch like a champ. Sorry to worry you. Not my intention.

Something in her chest loosens with his assurances that Lily is alright and in one piece. Not that she believes her husband would ever allow any harm to befall that girl; he's completely besotted with his youngest daughter. There really is nothing more captivating in life than a man who's an amazing parent, and Castle is definitely in the running for best dad in the world. He's got a few more scars and gray hairs than when she first met him, but he's never been been more attractive to her than in his role as father.

Now that her heart has slowed from a worried double-time rhythm, she returns her attention to his first message.

Okay Castle, I'll bite. About what am I not supposed to be upset?

God damn, do you know how sexy it is when you use proper grammar? Makes me want to drive straight over to the 12th and drag you into our supply closet and have my way with you.

He attaches a smug, smirking emoji to the last message that makes her laugh out loud. Oh, she's very familiar with that closet. It's hosted many an impromptu make-out session over the years. Crazy as it may sound, the odor of disinfectant is actually arousing now.

You can have your way with me later, Castle. Now spill it. What did you do?

The next text from him doesn't arrive until a few minutes later, as though he's carefully formulating his response. What on Earth is he up to?

Okay, so remember when we strolled through that awesome toy store near the loft a few weeks ago? When I was bemoaning the closure of FAO Schwarz and how it was an end of an era?

Yes, I remember. You talked about all of the fabulous toys you'd bought there when Alexis was little. I also remember that you griped about it all the way home.

Oh, and he had. It was like a personal affront to him that the world-famous store had closed its doors. It made her wonder just how many of those toys had been bought for Alexis way back when, and how many had actually been for him.

I resent the term "griped."


Okay, okay! Well, it was such a beautiful morning, I decided Lily and I needed to get out of the loft and enjoy the nice weather. So when we walked by the toy store, I figured, why not go in a let Lily pick out a toy? She's such a good girl, she deserves it.

Castle… a) Lily is only 7 months old and is incapable of picking out a toy on her own, and b) she already has far too many toys/stuffed animals/knick-knacks. Her room is overflowing with stuff.

That's beside the point, Beckett. I mean, who actually NEEDS a giant stuffed bear? No one. So let's not dwell on that part.

Oh God…no. He didn't. Did he?

Castle, what did you do?

Oh…soooooooo I may have bought that amazing teddy bear I was freaking out over the last time. For Lily, of course!

May have? Castle! That thing is HUGE! Where on Earth are we going to put it?

Well…I mean, I hadn't really thought that far in advance.

Of course he hadn't. He wouldn't be Rick Castle if he had.

She shakes her head; over the years, she's accepted that this is the who her husband is. This is the man she fell head-over-heels in love with, in spite of her early promises that she would never allow him close enough to get under her skin. Yes, he's impetuous and doesn't always think through the consequences of his actions. He still screws up on occasion and continues to find new ways to needle her, but his intentions are always genuine, his heart always in the right place. He's kind and generous to a fault, and when he gives you his heart, he does so completely and without hesitation. He makes her smile, brings her joy, sheds light on all of the dark corners of her psyche and drives out the shadows.

He also buys gigantic stuffed animals on a whim.

Jesus, Castle. How did you even get that thing home?

Ha! That was an entirely different adventure that I'll expand upon later. Suffice it to say, it involved duct tape and a bungee cord.

She laughs aloud again, in spite of her annoyance. Life with Castle is never dull.

Sounds like an interesting tale. I look forward to hearing it. But you haven't answered my question, Castle. Where are we going to put that thing? If my memory is serving me correctly, it was enormous.

Oh, yeah. It's huge.

You're not helping your cause here, babe.

Whoops? Listen, we'll find a place for it. We always do. And at the end of the day, if we need to buy a bigger home to fit all of Lily's (and all of our future children's) toys, then we will. Easy peasy.

Her heart stutters at his words, at the suggestion of more kids, because while she never viewed herself as a "baby person" in her youth, she wants that now. Oh, how she wants more children with this man. Their daughter is perfect and beautiful and chubby and such a happy, happy girl, and she adores her more than she believed possible. She has dreams of a little boy, one that looks exactly like his daddy, but maybe just a tiny bit less mischievous than him…

Easy peasy, huh? Just casually pack up the home you've lived in for the better part of 25 years and head out to greener pastures?

If that's what it takes for my loved ones to be comfortable and content, then yes.

She knows that he's simply attempting to placate her, but she also doesn't doubt his sincerity for a moment. He'd pick up and move tomorrow if it's what their family required.

Okay Castle, but keep the receipt just in case.

Done and done. Now…wanna see a picture?

Duh. Yeah!

It's a few minutes before her phone chimes with the next incoming message, and she can imagine him the entire time, setting up the picture so that it's just right. She opens the text and taps on the picture, and it's mere seconds before her eyes sting with the threat of tears. She blinks them away as rapidly as she can, typing out her response to him.

You're right. It's amazing.

Thank you for reading...as always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.