It's a secret language to them whenever their families get together.

As soon as their aunts and uncles spill through the front door, Reece runs to find his cousin in the rest of the excited bodies.

"Dia dhuit!" Reece shouts over the noise until Nick's head pops up near the couch, the Gaelic hello catching the eldest Ryan's attention.

The loft is absolute chaos but the two of them exist in a little bubble near the windows, giggling when the rest of the family can only look at them in confusion as they babble in Gaelic, trading stories.

Languages come so easy to Reece having inherited his parents' love of words. He talked the earliest of their children, nailing English fast before Kate started feeding him tidbits of French on her nights to watch the kids so Castle could write, speaking slowly as she gave him his bath so he could catch onto the meaning of her words. Esposito added Spanish to the mix when Castle would bring the kids to the precinct, hanging with Reece in the break room and looking nothing like the hardass detective he appeared, which made Ryan jealous.

One day, Kate came home to find her four year old talking to his stuffed lion in Gaelic.

As soon as Reece and Nick had learned enough of the complicated language from Ryan, it was impossible to tear them apart. If you tried, one of them would throw out some long phrase and the other would laugh and they both had such devilishly charming grins that no one tried to reprimand them too much.

"Boys," Jenny interrupts as they talk excitedly. "What do you want for dinner?"

Their heads go together and both sets of parents start to groan because the next words out of their sons' mouths aren't going to be English.

"A prátaí bácáilte, le do thoil," Reece states as Nick nods enthusiastically.

Rick groans. "Not Gaelic. Please, boys."

Nick begins to scowl before Reece stands up, stretching himself to every inch of his little body and meeting his parents' eyes. "Una papa al horno, por favor." Reece looks so proud of himself and Nick doesn't help, snickering behind his back.

Rick crouches in front of his son. "You know I don't understand either of those languages, right, bud?" Reece nods, glancing to his cousin for help and finding that Nick has abandoned him for Lily's company, tugging at her ponytail until Lily stomps on his instep and sashays away. Rick touches his son's chin, redirecting his attention back to the matter at hand. "And while it is wonderful that you like learning languages so much, it's not fun to not know what you're saying."

"Sorry, Dad," Reece says.

His father ruffles his hair before pulling him in for a tight hug. "Just remember that not everyone knows Gaelic or Spanish or…"


"Yeah. French," Rick grumbles, ticking at Reece's sides until the boy is squirming against his chest and breathless, squealing with laughter. "Now, in English, what was your dinner request?"

He travels abroad for the second time right before moving to college.

Each sibling got a trip somewhere the summer preceding the start of their freshman year, a gift from their parents on the one condition that the entire family had to go but the graduate got to pick the location.

Lily had them packing up for a trip to New Orleans after Kate let it slip that she and their father may have conceived their first born during a cross-country motorcycle ride, insisting that she see the city that so inspired them. It's here that Lily gets her first tattoo, a tiny fleur-de-lis drawn by Kate that gets inked just below her ankle.

Jake got to pick the trip for their summer first once he pulled rank (by seven minutes, Jake, why can't you just let it go?) and they booked tickets for a week in Sicily where he spent the time holed up in the kitchens of locals, learning how to make homemade brioche and arancine, torta setteveli and genovesi ericine that he brings back to their villa each night.

Reece, though, finds it hard to narrow down a single place to visit. Back in sophomore year of high school, the Ryans brought him along with them to a trip to visit Ireland and he doesn't want to repeat a location he's seen already so he spends hours on his laptop, researching countries and cities to find the right one.

Eventually, he finds the perfect place.

They take a plane from Palermo to Kilimanjaro International Airport and spend another week watching giraffes, zebras, and lions wandering the Serengeti from the porch of a beautiful cottage.

It doesn't hurt that he picks up a little Swahili from the men running the safari camp, able to joke with them as they lead the entire family out on a sunrise expedition to find wildebeest.

That night, his mother finds him sitting on the patio, his feet propped up on the rough wood railing with his laptop perched on his thighs looking frighteningly like his father in the midst of one of his writing spells.

"Hey, Mom," he greets without looking away from the screen.

He hears her drag a chair over moments before her feet appear next to his on the rail. "This was a good choice, Reece," she says, leaning back in the chair. "Not what I expected from you, though."

Reece glances up from the email to Nick. "What'd you expect?"

She shrugs, taking a drink of her wine. "Somewhere you speak the language. Always thought you'd be like Jake, going off and hanging with the locals, coming back unaware that you were still chatting in Chinese or French."

"I thought about it. About doing Shanghai or Madrid. But that can't be as fun for everyone and I wanted…" He pauses and shakes his head. "It's silly."


He sighs. "It's the last pre-college trip for us and I wanted everyone to enjoy it."

Kate steals his hand, squeezing it hard. "You know you didn't have to do that, right? That you could have picked anywhere in the world and we all would have had fun."

"I know, Mom. But this is pretty great. Can't beat this view."

"Stanford's going to have some pretty great views too. You excited to head out there?"

Reece grins, shifting the laptop the little side table and reaching over to steal a sip of his mother's red wine, ignoring her half-hearted glare. She never minded them trying alcohol before twenty-one as long as it was done in their own home; hell, it was Kate who taught all of her kids to do shots the right way as soon as they turned eighteen.

"Yeah. The school looks great and it'll be cool to see what the West Coast is like, but…" his gaze wanders out to the savannah as he collects his thoughts. "But also scared. What if I don't love it like Lily loved Georgetown?"

"Then you finish out the year and transfer to a school you do love but Reece?" She waits for him to face her, knowing that he is failing at hiding the shame in his eyes. "Picking a college is hard and it's almost ridiculous for you to know what you want to do with the rest of your life at your age. So if Stanford isn't right, then we'll do everything we can to help you find the right fit."

He slumps in the chair, his head tilted against the woven back rest. "But everyone else had it figured out. You and Dad and Lily and we both know Jake is going to be amazing at Johnson and Wales and what if I'm just… not as good at this?"

"You think you're going to be the first person to struggle through this choice?" his mother asks him in the same tone that she used when interrogating them all about who decided it was a good idea to slide down the staircase on storage box lids.

"Mom, I'm…"

"No, Reece. Listen. Your father got kicked out of pretty much every high school he went to which is not something I encourage you to emulate," she states with a little wink. "I chose a school to get as far away from home as possible and it didn't hurt that Stanford was a really good college. But when your grandmother was killed, I couldn't stay there anymore and be far from family so I moved back. Lily may not have told you, but she changed her major three times before finding the right choice. All I'm saying is that you find your own way and you know we'll be here for you no matter what."

He gets up, ignoring the shooting pain as he stubs his toe on the chair leg, and wraps his arms around his mother's neck. "Thank you."

"Always, bud." She stands, gathering up her wine glass to finish off the last sip of red. "Time for bed. I heard we're going to try to spot some elephants tomorrow and I want everyone rested for that."

If there were a way for him to summon a few of his mother's favorite animal to the front of their savannah villa right this moment, Reece knows he would not hesitate.

They hardly see him during the summers, settling for skype when timezones match up and long emails.

Freshman year, he gets an internship in Argentina doing some translation work at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Sophomore year, he goes to live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to assist with creating businesses with locals.

Junior year has him in Saudi Arabia to work for a college friend's family as a translator.

He does a winter internship in Beijing during his senior year, writing up the English translations of government contracts.

Each time, he comes home with stories and gifts for his family, little trinkets that made him think of each person while living in another country.

Reece is in the midst of cramming for finals when he gets the email which he ignores for three days in favor of figuring out the complicated conjugations for his Chinese final.

He doesn't open his emails until he's moved everything back home, boxes of dorm things crowding his childhood bedroom as he procrastinates unpacking. There are tons of promotional blasts from places he shops that he deletes immediately knowing the dates for sales have long since past.

The one from the United Nations, though, makes him stop his deleting spree.

He responds immediately to set up the interview for the following week, his hands shaking.

A month later, he has a job that he would have killed for.

"You don't need to move out," his father insists as Reece flicks through apartment listings in the city. "You know we're happy to have you here."

"Scared of being a true empty-nester, Castle?" Kate teases from the kitchen while making dinner.

Rick scoffs. "Never going to have an empty nest with Alexis's babies."

"Plus, you've still got Jake with his restaurant opening up in the next couple of months," Reece comments, eliminating another possibility. "I don't need you worrying about me too."

"Well, always going to worry about you, bud," his mother reminds him. "Part of the package deal. But Dad's right. You're more than welcome to stay here until you get your feet under you at the UN. A twenty-five minute subway ride isn't bad and you'd get Dad's cooking each night."

Reece closes his laptop, sliding it across the dining room table. "I'll think about it."

"Where are you bringing us?" his mother asks once again, her fingers holding tight to his hand as he laughs

"Just trust me, okay?" he insists, opening the door to the little cafe with his back so he can lead his parents in. "Not going to walk you both off some sidewalk curb so you break your ankles."

Reece guides them to the table before he removes the blindfolds he tied over their eyes. "Surprise?"

The cafe is empty save for them, lights dimmed with music playing softly. He jogs to the maitre d' stand, coming back with two wine glasses that he places in front of their places before repeating the path to return with plates of food.

"What's all this?" his father asks as Reece adds a basket of foccacia to the table.

Reece grins, stepping back. "Just enjoy dinner. And I promise I didn't try to cook anything; this was all Jake's doing."

He makes himself scarce, nibbling on the second loaf of bread and watching as his parents have dinner. He always knew his parents were in love; they made it obvious when the kids were growing up as there were more than a few times that he and his siblings walked into the kitchen to find Rick smearing chocolate on Kate's nose to make their mother giggle or trudging in from visits with friends to see their parents cuddled on the couch, asleep with The Lord of the Rings playing on the TV. Little things that solidified the fact that Kate Beckett and Rick Castle truly adored each other.

Reece sees it again from his seat by the entrance to the cafe. How his father lets his mother steal a bite of his braised lamb, even helping her get a little bit of the yogurt sauce onto her fork to go with the meat. Her smile gets softer around him, no longer the face she adopted from breaking criminals in the interrogation room and brought to the Senate floor to argue for future laws.

Once they're done, just the last sips of wine left in their glasses, Reece clears the table.

"This was lovely, Reece, but what was the occasion?" asks his mother, pushing at a spare chair at the table for him to sit.

He just slides the black leather billbook onto the table in front of Kate, nodding at it with a grin. "Open it."

Just like every dinner out, Rick reaches across the table to grab the folder, always the one to slip his card into the little slot near the top but when he flips this one open, he stops the process of procuring the credit card.

"Reece," he gasps, handing the folder over to Kate. "What…?"

He waits, though, to answer his father until he gets to see his mother's mouth drop open. "What are these?"

"You're retiring in a month, Mom, and you and Dad have done so much for us. I know it couldn't have been easy raising all of us and doing both of your jobs so," he gestures toward the billfold holding the two plane tickets, "I pulled some strings at work with a friend and she got you a two week vacation on Santorini. Lily helped with the airfare and Jake hooked you up with one of his culinary school buds who works on the island so you'll be eating like royalty the entire trip. Alexis insisted on contributing so there's a spa day she threw in there for you both as a thank you for all of the free babysitting." He takes a breath, twisting his hands in his lap. "It's not nearly enough to thank you for raising us the right way but-"

He gets cut off when his mother pulls him up out of the chair into a rib-crushing hug. "Oh, mon doux garçon," she murmurs into his ear. "Thank you."

There's barely a second after his mother releases him before Rick wraps him in another hug, his familiarly wide hands patting his back. "You're a good man, Reece. Even if I don't understand what you're saying half the time."

It makes him grin, clapping his father on the back in return. "Love you, Dad." He steps back, pushing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. "Lily and Jake wished they could be here but, you know, protecting the First Lady and finalizing restaurant details but they all send their love and promise huge hugs when they make it here for the celebration."

Reece disappears for a moment, coming back with a plate of loukoumades, the little dough puffs drizzled in honey and dusted with cinnamon. "There are these too," he says, setting the plate down. "Not going to lie, I snuck a few when Jake was baking them and they're good."

"Everything your brother makes is good," Kate jokes, licking honey off her fingers after popping one of the puffs into her mouth. "Oh god, and these are no exception."

He cleans up while they eat the puff pastries, trying his best to leave the cafe in good condition since Jake put his name on the line to get use of it for the night, and after Reece locks the door behind the three of them, Rick loops his arm around his son's shoulders to pull him close.

"I did okay, Dad?" Reece asks, earning himself a pair of gentle slaps over the back of his head from both parents.

His mother leans over, touching her lips to his cheek. "You silly boy," she sighs.

"You did wonderful, bud. We're so proud of the man you've grown up into," Rick continues. "As long as you're happy."

Reece doesn't hesitate, grabbing his mother's hand and making them a tight knot on the sidewalk at the crosswalk. "I am so thankful I have you for parents," he states, willing them to hear just how grateful he is.