Kate Beckett awoke not to the sound of the hustle and bustle of city streets or the chirping of birds or even to the loud arguing of her children (thank goodness). Instead, she awoke in her most preferred way: the gentle graze of a warm hand over her belly and the sensation of lips pressing against the pulse point of her neck accompanied by the scratch of morning stubble. She exhaled long and slow and moved her left hand to cover the one on her belly. Their skin smudged together, the rings on their fourth fingers bumping to make a soft metallic clink, and Kate snuggled against her companion a bit closer.
"Mmm good morning Mrs. Castle." Her husband husked into her ear. "Happy anniversary."
A wry smile crossed her lips and she rolled her head so she could just barely catch sight of his piercing blue eyes. "You already told me that—at 12:01." She had almost been asleep—merely moments from drifting off—after he'd worn her out quite thoroughly with their anniversary celebrations when he proclaimed it to be their anniversary officially. Though his sentiments were adorably sweet, she still would not have minded all that much if he'd waited the additional seven hours to utter them.
"I can never tell my wife too many times how much I love her and how happy I am that it's our anniversary. Ten years, Beckett—a decade!"
"Feels longer." She quipped and his smiled disappeared, which made her laugh. "Just kidding, Castle."
The grin returned and he looped both arms around her waist, pulling her closer to his side of the bed. Lying beside her with his left arm across her belly and his right propping up his head so he could gaze down at her, he asked, "What was your favorite part?"
"What? Of the last ten years?" she asked. He bobbed his head and her mind spun at the mere thought of narrowing it down. Choosing a favorite moment was like choosing a favorite child; it simply could not be done. "There's no way I can pick a favorite moment, Castle."
"How about top five? C'mon; I'll tell you mine." Then, rolling onto his back, he began ticking off events on his fingers. "Lily's birth. Jake and Reese's birth—wait, no. Those should be tied for first. Let me start over. One—each of the kids' births. Two—the day we got married. Three—the day we found out about Lily. Four—the day we found out that the twins were going to be twins. Five…" He paused to roll over and face her. "Every morning when I wake up to see you."
As her heart fluttered for what had to be the billionth time during the sixteen years since they met, Kate leaned over and brushed her lips against his. After dusting her thumb over his cheek, she said, "I think I'd have to agree with those…except maybe my fifth one would be the day I came home from ten grueling hours at 1PP and thought I'd have to send you to a mental institution to recover."
Though her descriptor was vague, the memory was so burned into their minds, no other explanation was needed. Castle's eyes darkened and he leaned away from her. "That is not funny."
She giggled. "It'll always be funny, babe."
The twins had been three months old at the time and she had just started going back to work for full days. A very pregnant Alexis had been helping her father take care of the trio of Castle children while their mother was away, but the red-head had delivered his first grandchild, a chubby-cheeked baby boy named Connor, a few days before and was thusly occupied. Typically, when Kate left for work in the morning some, if not all, of the children were still asleep, but that day they were all up and already running amok. There was no chance of Kate coming home early due to her required captain's training, but Castle assured her they would be fine. He'd been alone with the three kids before (admittedly, never for more than three hours) and it would be fine—totally fine. She remained skeptical—and concerned—but she left to start her day.
At seven p.m., more than a little weary, Kate returned to find the apartment in shambles. Toys and clothes were strewn everywhere. The kitchen counter was littered with used bottles and spilled formula. Jake was asleep in one of their baby swings wearing only a diaper, draped in a light cotton blanket. Kate found Castle on the floor of the kitchen propped up against the cabinets with a screaming Reese in his arms. His shirt, pants, and face were covered in what she later found out to be fresh formula, regurgitated formula, and a little bit of urine. He also looked as though he'd been run over by a truck. Just as Kate was about to stammer out a thousand questions, Lily walked up to her eating a cherry popsicle, her hands and cheeks slathered in red, sticky liquid and said, "Daddy broke."
At the time, she had been horrified, but as the story slowly came out, it became hysterical that her husband—the man who was generally known as Dad of the Year—had been defeated by his twin infant sons and three-and-a-half year old daughter. His response to her inquiries had merely been a pitiful, "I might be too old for this." Thankfully, the Day from Hell had been a one-off event and he was back to Dad of the Year status in no time.
"You're right, though." Kate continued after her moment of reflection. "I don't think there are better moments than our children's birthdays."
She remembered both events with joy and an almost crushing swell of love in her chest. Lily's had been full of excitement, but terror in more ways than one. As it was her first pregnancy, her first child, Kate had no idea what to expect. Even with all her reading and all Castle's calm affirmation, she still knew the firsthand experience would be completely unique; both terrifying an exciting.
Barely a year out from yet another traumatic shooting—this one with a bullet entering her abdomen—her doctors had recommended a C-section for her high-risk pregnancy, concerned that a grueling labor would put too much strain on her body. As she had spent more than her fair share of days in a hospital or doctor's office that year, Kate agreed and the surgery was scheduled for 39-and-a-half weeks, but Lily had other plans; Kate's water broke at 39 weeks and one day.
Though her husband calmly assured her everything was going to be fine, Kate could feel the contractions coursing through her body and was terrified with each one that her abdominal wounds would open up and put both their lives in danger. She half considered calling an ambulance, but as many of the EMT staff knew her, she ultimately decided that was silly. Her contractions were still uneven and over eight minutes apart; she would make it to the hospital.
By the time they entered the ER Lily was crowning and fifteen minutes later she arrived naturally—and one hundred percent perfect. The family of three cried together for the better part of their first hour together out of a mix of relief, joy, and hormones. To that point, it was the best day of Kate's life; her husband had to admit to it tying with the day Alexis was born.
Fortunately, the twins' birth was far less dramatic. Their C-section was scheduled for thirty-eight weeks and everything went smoothly, with Jake arriving first and Reese a minute after. Kate's only disappointment from that day was that she had to wait an extra hour to hold them because of the doctors sewing her up. All she could do as Castle held them for her was kiss their heads as and tell them how much she loved them.
Her husband sighed and dropped a kiss onto her forehead. "We did good with them, you know? I mean, Jake and Reese might send us to an early grave, but we did good."
She chuckled at the prospect she did not entirely disagree with. Twin boys that had half Castle DNA was just as scary as she thought it would be the moment the ultrasound tech announced she was carrying not one but two. She loved them, though; more than she ever thought possible.
"Yeah, we did good, Castle, but they're barely four so don't count your chickens quite yet…"
He brushed off her comment. "Nah, they're going to be great—we just have to send them to Alexis more often."
Kate let out a full laugh. "Make sure you run that by Alexis, first."
For their anniversary, Castle's eldest had agreed to take all three children, which elevated the under-age-ten sector of her apartment to five. Kate had asked her three times if she was sure since the last time Kate had watched all five had nearly pushed her over the edge, but Alexis said it was fine. Lily practically took care of herself, little Daisy slept most of the time, so really it was just the three four-year-olds she had to watch—and that was no small feat.
"Speaking of—we're supposed to relieve her at noon, right?"
Castle yawned out an affirmative response. "But that still gives us over four hours—which, oh. Hang on."
He flipped back the covers and scurried out of the bedroom heading towards the kitchen. Kate could just barely see him fiddling around by the refrigerator, but she was not quite sure what he was doing until he returned with two champagne flutes full of orange liquid. "To celebrate." He explained.
She eyed him skeptically when she took one of the glasses. "It's not even eight a.m."
"I know; that's why I made them mimosas." He winked. Kneeling down on the bed, he raised his glass in toast to her. "Here's to ten years with my beautiful wife."
She tapped her glass against his. "And to ten more with my handsome husband."
Castle pulled his glass into his chest and gazed down at her with a furrowed brow. "Only ten more? You're going to divorce me on our twenty year anniversary?"
She rolled her eyes. "No, that's not what I meant obviously."
"Well then change it or you'll put a curse on us."
"Cur—ugh." She grumbled. Curses—of course there would be a curse. Shaking her head, she held up her glass and changed her previous wording. "Here's to many more with my handsome husband."
He grinned and tapped their glasses together. "Perfect."
Their lives may not have been perfect, but that was okay because perfect was boring. Their lives were messy and complicated. They were stressed and had arguments. They made difficult decisions for themselves, for their family. But there was love. And laughter. And joy. And summers at the Hamptons. And cozy winter weekend afternoons with them all piled in a king-sized bed watching cartoon movies and eating popcorn.
And she wouldn't change a thing.
A/N: Prompt: 10 year anniversary of Caskett and them looking back on last 10 years of marriage.
Prompt fill for tshlw filled as a gift for a 3rd generous donation to CHLA for the #goodluckstana project
Thank you tshlw and I hope this story lived up to your expectations!