Rick Castle couldn't stop smiling. It was ridiculous really, he must have looked like a lovesick fool, but he grinned even more when he thought about it. Wasn't he? Her hand jiggled in his, capturing his attention as they walked down the hall towards their home.
"You're completely ridiculous," she teased, shaking her head in amusement. His wife. He couldn't stop grinning.
"You mock, Kate Beckett, but you're looking a little smitten yourself," he raised their joined hands to gesture towards the tiny bundle, snug against her mother's body in the soft cotton carrier Kate had donned that morning. "Face it, we're both done for."
Kate huffed out a quiet laugh, caressing the baby's body through the carrier. "Fine. But only because I'm hormonal, in love with my baby, and your goofiness is endearing."
He set the baby's seat on the floor, as they approached their front door, and let the bags slide from his shoulder. Drawing her close, the baby cradled gently between them, he dropped a kiss to Kate's forehead. "You ready for this? You know everyone is in there and it's about to get crazy. My mother said she may actually die from the, and I quote, 'sheer torment of anticipation'. She's getting more melodramatic with age."
Kate giggled and pulled away slightly to poke his ribcage. "Be nice to your mother, Rick Castle. She had to squeeze your giant head out a hundred years ago, and she's completely entitled to fawn over her granddaughter."
He brought a hand to his chest and feigned indignation. "Ouch. That got me, right here, Beckett."
Kate grinned, and shook her head at their mutual giddiness. It was forgivable, at least for today. She raised up on her toes to fit her mouth to his, and kissed him with as much quiet passion as permitted with a sleeping baby between them. He chased her lips as she dropped back to her heels, and settled his forehead against hers. Castle closed his eyes and they stood, still and quiet, breathing in the baby sweet scent of their brand new daughter, and the muted sounds of joy through the door behind them.
"I love you," she exhaled softly. "So much."
He hummed his agreement, and dropped another soft kiss to her lips. "I love you too, Kate."
The baby began to wriggle against Kate's chest, and a tiny squeak of discontent emerged as she blinked once, twice, and found her daddy's face moving in close so she could see him clearly. "Are you feeling left out, baby? Daddy loves you too." He stroked her dark hair softly, and chuckled as she let out another angry squeak and began to root against the softness of Kate's shirt for her next meal. "Somebody's hangry."
Kate laughed and bounced slightly to settle the baby's increasing frustration. "We should go in. Feed this one and start preparing for the hell she'll one day bring us when they've all spoiled her rotten."
Castle sighed dramatically and Kate scoffed. "Oh Please. You look for every opportunity possible to show her off, and you punk out for your big moment." She stuck her tongue out and maneuvered the newborn from the carrier, slipping the flailing creature into her father's arms. "Get in there Daddy. Show them what you made." She winked over her shoulder, as she slipped past him to open the door. She heard them before her eyes caught sight of them.
"Mommy," the pounding sounds of socked feet on the hardwood made her grin as she turned towards the noise, in time to be pummeled by the weight of small bodies against her own.
"Hi guys. I missed you so much." She dropped kisses to three dark heads and they were gone as quickly as they came, racing towards their father and baby sister. "And I see you missed me too." Shaking her head in amusement she turned to accept a long hug from a grinning Alexis.
"You know, when I told you I wanted a baby sister, I didn't expect you to keep them coming."
Kate barked out a laugh and squeezed the red head tighter. "Shut up. I'm done. I was done after the boys, but that little one was a perfect little accident."
"And eew," Alexis groaned, pulling away from her step-mother. "Now, let me hold my sister." Rick dropped a kiss to his oldest daughter's head and gently placed the baby in her arms. Bending down with a groan to properly greet Lily and her brothers. Despite age creeping up on them both, faster and faster each year, Rick was still a completely and utterly devoted father, never giving up an opportunity to build a blanket fort, or wrestle on the floor with the boys. She saw the winces, and heard the effort it took at times, his body had taken a beating in his 54 years, and his knee had never quite been the same since his skiing accident all those years ago. She loved him all the more for how much of himself he gave to their children, despite the discomfort it caused him. He loved them all so fiercely. She snapped out of her daydream at the soft hand on her shoulder and turned to see her father behind her. "Hi Dad," she smiled. She would never quite get over the sight of her father getting older. It scared her, knowing he could be gone in an instant, but she forced back the thought and squeezed him tighter. "How are you feeling?"
Jim chuckled, "Shouldn't I be asking you that, Katie?"
Kate laughed and led her father by the arm, toward the couch, easing herself slowly down to the cushions. She was feeling every bit her 43 years, and a long, hard labour the day before had taken more out of her than she realized. "I'm good Dad. Happy, tired, sore. Mostly happy."
"You look it, sweetheart." He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close. "I'm proud of you, you know. You've got a great family over there," he gestured to where Rick stood, Jake perched on a hip, Reese hanging from his back, and Lily leaning against him gently as she gazed at Alexis and the tiny baby with starry eyes. "That's never easy, but you and Rick make it look like it's the simplest thing in the world." Kate laughed and leaned her head on her father's shoulder.
"Oh wow, I can tell you now that none of it is easy. Being a mom, a wife, juggling work and the kids, now another baby, life is the furthest thing from easy right now, but it's so worth it." She sat up, reached out her arms as her dark haired daughter turned and walked towards her, snuggling into her mother's free side on the couch. "How you doing Tiger-Lily? You think we should keep your baby sister?" Lily giggled, and looked longingly at the baby, as she changed hands again, to the waiting arms of her grandmother.
"She's so pretty Mommy. Like a little doll. I can't wait to hold her."
"Soon, sweet girl. As soon as Gram has her turn, she's all yours." Kate ran her fingers through Lily's dark hair, gently easing the tangles left over from sleep, and Lily sighed. She had such a gentle and giving spirit, her firstborn. She loved so openly, and took great joy in taking care of anyone and anything. She was already a fantastic big sister to her twin brothers, but when Kate and Rick had told her the baby they were expecting was a girl, she had been elated. A living doll for her to love on. The baby let out a wild shriek and Martha gave a dramatic flourish.
"I understand completely, my precious one. It is a difficult life you have, isn't it?" The tinkling of her jewelry and the vibrant red of her hair, never changing, captured the baby's attention once again, quieting the squalls, as Martha made her way to the couch, placing the wildly unhappy infant into Kate's outstretched arms.
"I think it's just about time for this little one to have some lunch," Martha chuckled. "She's certainly inherited the lungs of a young diva in the making. My genes, of course."
"I'll remember that at 2am when she's screaming for something to eat," Kate grinned, pulling the baby to her chest, momentarily stilling the tiny thing's movements. "What do you think, little one? Are you ready to see your big sister? Can you hang on for a few more minutes? You're such a tough little thing aren't you?" The baby stilled and listened to the sound of her mother's soft words. "That's it my baby. Have a little visit with Lily and then you can eat."
Lily's face lit up at the chance to finally, finally hold the baby, and she stretched out her arms, scooting backwards on the couch to free herself from her mother's side. Kate stood and gently eased the baby into Lily's waiting arms. Her first and her last, together. She blinked back the sudden onslaught of tears, stupid hormones, and smiled at her girls. "There you go Tiger-Lily. You're doing a great job."
Lily beamed up at Kate, and cradled the baby close, hushing her with soft noises, as she set her blue eyes, on her sister's face. "Hi Poppy. Welcome home."