June 18, 2017

Rick Castle woke up alone in their bed, and he had a feeling he knew why: Kate was making him breakfast. Because today was Father's Day, his first Father's Day as the father of six week old Lily Johanna Beckett Castle, and his 24th Father's Day as the father of Alexis Castle. Both facts kind of overwhelmed him, but they also filled him with joy.

He remembered back to his very first Father's Day ever. Alexis was about eight months old, and he was totally in love with his daughter. He thought everything she did was wonderful. He had made a fuss over Meredith on her first Mother's Day the month before – she had loved the diamond bracelet – but when his turn came, nothing. Yeah, she had been busy getting herself back to her pre-baby shape so she could go out on auditions, but he would have thought she'd at least get him a card 'from' Alexis. But the day passed with Meredith doing nothing. He remembered kissing Alexis good-night that Sunday, and telling himself that it was special enough to be her father; that the love he felt for her was enough for him. And on many levels, that was true. He'd never had that kind of instant bond with anyone before.

But once Alexis started pre-school, his gift situation changed. His little girl threw herself into everything she did, and present and card making were no exceptions. He remembered that first one, when she was four, and he and Meredith were newly divorced. She made him the most glitter-y card he had ever seen. And he loved it. Sure, there was glitter everywhere after he opened it, and after he displayed it on the refrigerator, but seeing that gap toothed grin was worth it. He still had that card – it meant the world to him. His little girl made him a card and he was never going to get rid of it.

After that, Father's Day was fun – Alexis made sure of that. He'd get breakfast in bed, a cool present, and a great card – usually a homemade one. And the last few years, she still made sure he had a special day. It didn't matter that she was growing up, she would do something special. Even last year, when he was rehabbing from being shot, she made it a great day. He didn't know how she did it – he knew she had been upset and worried and concerned (and maybe even a little mad at the both of them) but she put all that aside and made Father's Day as wonderful as always.

And now this year, he had two daughters. He still couldn't believe the miracle of Lily Johanna Beckett Castle. When he was on the kitchen floor, holding Beckett's hand as he bled, he never imagined that they'd be here – alive and well and the parents of a baby girl. When Kate had first suspected she was pregnant, she'd secretly bought a test and she was going to do it without him knowing. But when the time came, she couldn't do that – she'd called him into their bedroom and told him what was happening. They both tried not to get too excited, but when the timer on his phone went off, and they saw the pink plus sign, they'd laughed and cried together. And that's how they went through everything now – together, and with tears in their eyes. They'd cried when the doctor confirmed the pregnancy, they'd cried when they first saw their baby in the ultrasound, they'd cried when they told the family and boy, how they'd cried when Lily was born. The doctor had teased them that they'd cried more than Lily had, and Rick knew that was true.

But here they were, a family now. He hadn't made too much of a fuss on Mother's Day (he hadn't, no matter what Kate thought. He'd wanted to hire a skywriter but Alexis talked him out of that) since Lily was only ten days old. But he had a feeling that his older daughter (and it was so cool that he could say that!) and his wife had plans. And those plans were sort of confirmed when he heard them right outside the door. He quickly slid back under the covers and closed his eyes. He heard the door opening and his wife's voice say, "We know you're awake, Rick!" so he gave it up, and opened his eyes.

And the sight that greeted him was almost enough to make him cry. There was his beautiful grown-up Alexis holding a tray of food. There was his little girl, making her early morning squeaky noises. And there was his gorgeous wife, holding their little girl with the biggest smile on her face. They wished him a happy father's day and he grinned at them as Kate handed him Lily and Alexis placed the tray carefully across his legs. She leaned down to give him a kiss on his cheek and he took his free arm and pulled her down next to him. Kate took the hint and sat down too. Now this is how you celebrate Father's Day, he thought. All the beautiful women in your life, happy and healthy, and bringing you food. What could be better?

A/N: Yes, I know Lily is supposed to be seven years old in the "7 Years Later", but this is fan fiction, and I wanted to make her a little younger. I have my reasons…..