His attention was snapped from Nikki and Rook at the dangerous tone in his wife's voice, a sense of déjà vu reminiscent of their very first case together.
"I didn't do anything this time. I know it."
"Oh, you did something alright."
Kate strode into the office, her heels clicking angrily on the hardwood.
"You mind telling me what the hell this is?"
A thin strip of white plastic smacked to the desk in front of him, and he winced; equally affected by the noise and his wife's stormy expression.
"Um…" he looked down at the offending plastic, uncovered now, by his wife's hand. "Wait, is that what I think it is?"
"It is what you think it is. Do you mind telling me why it has a little pink plus sign on it?"
"Wait, where did you find that? Is Alexis…?"
"Would I be this pissed off it belonged to Alexis, Rick?"
"Yeah, Castle. Me. According to this, you managed to go and knock me up. Again!"
Beckett began to pace.
"How in the hell is this even possible? You told me you had a vasectomy."
"I did," Rick shouted indignantly. "You think I sat on a bag of peas for two weeks for theatre?"
"God," Kate visibly deflated, sinking to the sofa underneath his office window. "I'm pregnant. How did this even happen?"
"Don't even, Castle. I swear to God I will murder you in this office and put your body in the garbage disposal."
"That's…" he shook his head, grimacing slightly, as he dismissed his thought in favor of survival.
"What the Hell are we going to do with another baby, Rick? Another one? I'm 42 years old, we have three kids under the age of 10, and I'm so fucking tired. Oh God."
Castle stepped towards his wife as she dropped her head into her hands and groaned in obvious despair.
"Hey. It's going to be okay, sweetheart."
She cast him a thunderous glare, and he stopped in his tracks, holding up his hands in self defense. And then the tears came. Fast.
All thoughts of self defense went out the window and he dropped like a stone at her side, tugging her into his arms as she cried.
"I can't do this again, Castle. I love our kids so much, but it's so hard already. How are we supposed to juggle your work, and my work, and three little kids, and a baby? You're in your fifties, by the time this kid is grown, you'll be seventy, Rick. I thought we were done."
Castle choked inwardly, at the thoughts her words created in his mind, but he continued to caress her back supportively.
"We're going to get through this exactly the way we've made it through everything else life has thrown at us, Beckett. Together. I'm not going anywhere, and we've done just fine so far, making it all work. Our kids are amazing, and smart, and happy, and loved. We have more than enough to make room for another one, there's no way our lives could ever be too full for that."
"We're both stretched so thin, Rick. Between the precinct and trying to split my attention between them, and you, I don't even have any time left for myself. What do I take away from to give a baby the attention it needs? Lily? The boys? I already feel like I can't give them as much as they need from me."
"They're fine, Kate. They're great. They know how much you love them, and they're proud of everything you do. They don't need any more than that."
"What about space? Where are we going to put another kid? The boys aren't going to want to share a room forever, so where do we get the space for four kids?"
"I've actually been wanting to talk to you about that."
Kate raised her head, and wiped her eyes, a look of trepidation darkening her features.
"It's nothing crazy. I'm not talking about selling the loft and moving into the suburbs, I know how much you'd hate that. Nothing much would have to change, we'd just have more space to expand a bit."
"What are you talking about?"
"Mr. Calloway, from downstairs got caught up in one of Jake's conversations, in the lobby, and we got to talking. His wife is having trouble, forgetting what stops to take on the subway, and it's getting more difficult for him to manage on his own. Their son lives in Arizona. He built them a house on his property, but they've been resisting. He thinks maybe it's time to make that move."
"What does that have to do with us?"
"He wasn't sure if he'd sell their apartment, or lease it out. I told him I may be interested in making him a very generous offer, after running it by you, of course."
He had the sense to at least appear chastened, but her hesitation remained.
"You're losing me, Rick. Let's cut to the chase, huh."
"I want to buy his apartment. It's one floor below ours. We can renovate the space into our offices, or a master suite, with two smaller apartments, and divide the floor space up here into a bigger, more divided room for the twins."
"I don't completely understand this master scheme of yours."
"Our parents are getting older, Kate. They're going to need more care soon, but knowing your father and my mother, as I do, I know they aren't going to give up their independence, willingly. So, if we have two small apartments within arms reach of our home, everyone gets what they need."
"And you think our parents are just going to fall in line with your little plan? Have you met your mother?"
"I'm not talking about tomorrow, Kate. I'm talking about the five-year plan. We have the space we need for now, and when my mom, and your dad feel like it's time, they have their own home waiting for them here, where they can have a quiet dinner alone, or just pop upstairs for breakfast with the kids. Your dad can watch baseball games on tv with the kids, my mother can give Lily piano lessons after school, and no one has to leave the building. It would be great for everyone."
"You've thought about this a lot."
"Yeah, I have. Not the baby part, obviously, that's kind of a new development. Unexpected, but not unwanted, Kate. I love the idea of having another baby with you."
She did not look as touched by his sentiment as he would have liked, but ever the optimist, Richard Castle plodded on.
"Our family is the best thing that has ever happened to me, Kate. Our kids are incredible, and I love that I get to share that with you. We made it work so far because we're partners, so we make a few adjustments to the routine, and we make it work all over again. If anyone can do it, it's you and me."
Beckett chewed her lower lip, thoughtfully, her gaze remaining fixed to his.
"You really believe that?"
"Yeah, Kate, I do. And you do too."
She deflated yet again, dropping her forehead to his shoulder.
"So, what's stopping us?"
"On which part, because you already pulled the goalie and the baby is already in full production."
"On all of it. We invite the Calloways to dinner, let our kids charm the pants off them, and make them an offer to buy their place. We get an architect in here to redesign the space downstairs and cut in the floor up here with another staircase. We go to our parents with blueprints, and our ideas, and we tell them about the baby. I don't think either one of them will resist the idea as much as you think they will."
She let out a strangled sound of acceptance, or defeat, and sighed again, before raising her eyes to meet his.
"Is this really happening?"
"Do you remember how it felt when Lily got the hiccups the first time, in your belly? Or how you cried at every ultrasound and how big your smile was, every time you heard their heartbeats?"
Kate smiled softly at the memories and twined her fingers with his.
"How about when you heard them cry for the first time, or held them in your arms? How hard you laughed when Lily thought coughing was hilarious?"
Her eyes slid closed with the memories, and he couldn't help but steal a soft kiss, at her dreamy expression.
"We can have that all again, one last time. I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty damn amazing."
Beckett huffed out a soft chuckle of acceptance.
"It is, I know it is, I'm just…"
"In shock. I get it. We weren't expecting this, and it's a lot to process. But we got this, you and I."
"I love you, you know that? You're so good for me."
He accepted the kiss she offered, with a happy hum.
"I love you too. And my greatest achievement in life, is that I can be that for you. You do the same for me. That's why we work."
"And here I was thinking it was just the amazing sex."
"Well, you're not wrong. Speaking of amazing sex…"
"Not a chance in Hell, Castle. You're not getting anywhere near me with that, until you make an appointment to get that shut down for good."
"But Kate…" he whined.
"Nuh uh, buddy. Don't even try it, with me. This is not happening again, you got that. This baby factory is being shut down, condemned, all access denied."
"I got it," he sighed.
"Just to clarify, though. I did only say, until you made the appointment, in case you were wondering. I mean, it's not like I can get more pregnant, right?"
"You are a very smart woman, you know that? And you are absolutely right."
"The phone's over there, Rick."
"Right, I'm just gonna…"
"Phone. Now. I'll be waiting."
His reply was cut off by the sound of retreating heels, and the soft contact her bra made with his forehead.