MORE THAN WORTH IT
I'm so in love with you
And I hope you know
Darling your love is more than worth its weight in gold
We've come so far my dear
Look how we've grown
And I wanna stay with you until we're grey and old
Say You Won't Let Go - James Arthur
He isn't surprised that he wakes alone, although he'd be lying to himself if he said he isn't a little disappointed. His favorite mornings are the ones when he wakes slowly, his wife in his arms, when they can take their time greeting each other before facing the day.
He smiles as he swipes his hand over the indent her body had left in the mattress; it's still warm, so she hasn't been gone long. A glance at the clock tells him what he'd suspected: their late night of rediscovering each other's bodies after a long week apart had led to an equally late morning.
He pads to the bathroom, shivering when the ocean breeze from the open window hits him. His boxers are by the bedroom door, flung haphazardly as they'd made their way to the bed, and he can hear sound from the kitchen when he retrieves them.
So that's where his wife went.
After relieving himself and a quick brush of his teeth, he slips on his robe, not bothering to put his boxers back on. They're alone here, and even if anyone could see into the house, he really doesn't care today.
The sight that greets him makes him stop in the middle of the living room and just stare. Her hair is pulled into a messy bun, likely an attempt to smooth the tangles his fingers had caused. She's wearing one of his old t-shirts, one of many she'd commandeered for sleeping. Her voice propels him forward; she's humming, but he can't make out the tune until he's close.
"'I'm in love with the shape of you,'" he hums into her ear and he palms her hips, nuzzles her neck.
"It's about time," Kate teases, her tone gentle despite the touch of her temple against his. She turns to loop her arms around his neck, tilts her head in an invitation.
He accepts, dipping his head, meeting her mouth in a slow, soft kiss. "You haven't been up long either, the sheets were still warm," he says between kisses. She tastes of toothpaste and coffee, and he hums, tastes her once more before stepping away. He eyes the stovetop, the pans of what look like pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage. "Someone's hungry."
Kate rolls her eyes but the smile on her face betrays her, and she turns back to the stove, leans back into the wall of his chest even as she stirs the eggs. "Someone distracted me before we could make dinner," she throws back, grabbing the spatula to flip the pancakes.
Rick chuckles and presses a kiss to her exposed nape. "Don't pretend you weren't just as enthusiastic to skip." He slides his hands beneath her shirt and cups her belly, palms almost entirely covering the slight bump. "And how is our little one today?" he rumbles.
Kate hums and covers one of his hands with hers. "She let me sleep in for once, but I think she was jumping on my bladder. That's what woke me," she explains, turning off the flame to the eggs and checking the sausage. With a short nod, she turns that burner off as well.
Rick keeps one hand on her belly even as she turns to face him again. "You think we have a future dancer?"
"Or a kickboxer," she retorts with a raised eyebrow and a smirk.
"Regardless," Rick says, fingers splayed wide at her back, "she'll be extraordinary, just like her mother."
Kate grins and surges into him, her hands sliding beneath his robe, fingers tripping over his ribs. "I love you, you know," she breathes when they part.
Rick drops his forehead to hers, bumps her nose with his. "I love you too, you know," he echoes. He yelps when her fingers ventures south. "Why, Mrs. Castle, I haven't even had my coffee."
She steps away after a squeeze, retrieves a mug from the cupboard. "I can't help it," she admits with a shy smile, pouring coffee and a little cream before handing it to him. "You're sexy when you talk about our child."
He helps serve the food, ignoring the look she throws him. It may be his day, but he'll be damned if he lets his pregnant wife do all the work. "So, it's not just the hormones?"
She brushes her fingers through his hair as he sits at the breakfast bar, and she makes sure the stove is off before she joins him. "Not even close." She leans over and presses her smile to his. "Happy Father's Day, Rick."
"Shh, sweetie, we need to be quiet. Daddy's still sleeping."
"Yeah, Da-da. Mommy wore him out last night, he needs all the rest he can get."
He keeps his eyes shut, wanting to listen to his wife and almost eight-month-old daughter talk. Well, his wife talk and his daughter converse in the babbles that she knows. But after a moment he feels the mattress shift, feels the familiar touch of his wife's fingers along his back. A lighter touch joins hers, and he can't stop the corner of his mouth from lifting.
"Good morning," Kate chuckles, slipping her fingers beneath the hem of his shirt to lightly scratch at his lower back. "Sleep well?"
Rick turns over, grabs her hand and sits up, reaches for the baby in her arms. "Can't imagine why," he teases, laughing when Lily holds her arms out, her whole body squirming and struggling to get out of Kate's grasp.
"Da-da!" she squeals, and Rick lifts her, blows a raspberry on her belly.
"Hi sweet girl," he coos, nuzzling her soft cheek. "Did you let Mommy sleep a little this morning?"
Kate rolls her eyes and sits on the edge of the mattress. "If you call waking up at 6:30 instead of 6 sleeping in, then yes." She leans forward and pecks him on the lips. "Good morning, by the way."
He smiles against her mouth. "Morning," he rumbles. "You should have woken me, I would have gotten up with her. You need rest too."
"It's Father's Day," Kate argues, and the look in her eye leaves no room for discussion. She squeezes his thigh. "Besides, it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading."
Rick matches her look with a raised brow of his own. "Reviewing case files isn't 'catching up on reading,' Kate," he chides gently. He shifts Lily to one arm, where she seems content to snuggle against his chest, and covers Kate's hand with his free one. "We talked about this."
Kate cups the back of Lily's head as she leans in to kiss him again. "I just signed off on some paperwork, then I put it away," she promises. "Come on, I made us breakfast. And I don't know about you, but I'm starving."
Rick's stomach starts to growl when the smell of food and coffee hits him, and he goes straight to the cupboard for the "Best Dad Ever" mug that Alexis had gotten for him when she was six. "Hey, is your dad still coming over?" he asks as he pours a cup one handed.
With practised ease, Kate steals a sip of his coffee before refilling her own mug. "Yeah, he'll be here around one. It's still okay that he comes over, right?"
"Are you kidding? Of course. Alexis is looking forward to seeing him. You ready for some breakfast, Lilypad?" He blows another raspberry on the side of her neck, laughing when his daughter squeals and squirms against him.
Kate waits until Lily is strapped into her high chair and the tray is locked in before setting some mashed bananas and rice cereal in front of her. "Feed or serve?" she calls out with a quick glance.
Rick sets plates piled high with the French toast, bacon, and scrambled eggs that Kate had made. "Tag team."
He's just finished dressing when he hears the front door open, and the momentary panic that seizes his chest disappears when he hears the familiar voice of his oldest daughter. It's been over two years since the shooting, and security to their floor is tighter than ever, but he still occasionally has nightmares, still worries that it could happen again. And he knows that Kate does too.
He's brought out of his thoughts by a knock on the doorframe, and he grins at the smiling face of his oldest. "Hi, pumpkin," he greets her, fastening his watch before she steps into his arms.
"Hey, Dad." Alexis kisses him on the cheek before stepping away. "Happy Father's Day. Where's Lily?"
"Oh, I see how it is," Rick teases, following her into the living room. "I'm lucky you even said hi, aren't I?"
"Well, they're upstairs, Kate was putting her down for a nap. Or not," he says when he sees his wife descend the stairs, wide-eyed Lily in her arms. "Not having it?" He reaches for Lily, but Alexis is faster.
Kate rolls her eyes and gives Alexis a one-armed hug as she hands Lily over. "She heard her sister," she chides lightly, giving Alexis a pointed look. "Fussed as soon as she was in her crib. I'll try again in a little bit." She squeezes Rick's bicep as she passes. "More coffee?"
Rick manages to tear his eyes from his two daughters, the youngest laughing and grabbing at her sister's hair. He glances at his wife, and she's staring at him, an amused look on her face. "What?"
Kate chuckles and shakes her head. "Nothing. You look a little dazed is all."
He snags her fingers before she can step away, tugs her into his arms. "I'm just happy," he says softly, placing a tender kiss to her lips.
Kate loops her arms around his neck and pulls him in for another kiss, bumps his nose with hers when she pulls away. "Me too."
"Hey babe." Kate leans her head into the bathroom, meets his eyes in the mirror. "Alexis and Ben are here."
Rick smirks when her gaze flicks to his boxers. "See something you like?"
She narrows her eyes before sidling up to him, and he freezes when her fingers dip below his waistband. "Feel free to take your time in the shower," she husks into his ear, punctuates her words with a nip at his earlobe. "Maybe later we can pick up where we left off this morning."
Rick lets his toothbrush clatter to the counter when her hand wanders farther south, and he turns and sweeps her into his arms in one move. "I'm counting on it," he growls capturing her mouth with his.
She leans into him for a few long moments, pulls back after a final swipe of her tongue against his. "They seem happy," she murmurs. "I think they're okay."
Rick hums. "I'm glad. I'll be out in a few."
He doesn't linger too much while getting ready, but allows himself to reflect on the past year, on his family. Alexis has been seeing her boyfriend for just shy of a year, and although at first they'd seemed to be exact opposites, they work. Ben helps her slow down and relax, and Alexis has made Ben a part of their family after he'd lost his own.
He's glad that his wife hasn't lost any of her interrogation-honed observation skills, even after leaving the precinct ten months prior. She'd wanted steadier hours, so when the commissioner had resigned and Gates had taken his place, she'd lobbied for - and won - Gates's job. Save for the occasional media frenzy or IA investigation that requires more attention, she's still home when Lily wakes and home in time for dinner. He wouldn't have it any other way.
Ben is playing with Lily, the toddler on his back as the young man plays "horsey." Lily's squealing, her short arms tight around Ben's neck, and Rick chuckles when Ben has to stop.
"A little tight, Lilypad," he says, his voice firm yet playful, and Lily laughs.
"Lil' tight!" she echoes.
Ben pushes himself to his knees, wrapping fingers around Lily's ankles as she hangs onto his back. "C'mon, Lilypad, let's read a little."
Rick spots Kate and Alexis in the kitchen, the ladies watching Ben and Lily as they lean against the counter. He sees Alexis flush and lift her mug to her lips, then nod in response to something Kate says. He greets Ben and Lily, giving his youngest a squeeze and a sloppy kiss, his heart swelling as she loses herself in laughter. Ben continues to the couch, where Lily curls up on his lap, her chubby fingers grabbing at the pages of a book.
"Hi Alexis," he greets his oldest, with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He glances at Kate, brows furrowing when he sees the smirk on her face. "What?"
Kate shrugs. "Nothing." She reaches behind her for his mug. "Drink your coffee."
He finds Ben in the office after lunch, his eyes on the row of pictures Rick has behind his desk. "Everything okay?" he asks, wincing when Ben jumps. "Sorry."
"I hope I'm not intruding," Ben says, a picture in his hand. "I saw the pictures through the shelves and I couldn't resist."
Rick smiles at the picture that Ben is holding, the picture of him walking hand-in-hand with a young Alexis. "It's fine," he assures the younger man, patting him on the shoulder. "I'm glad you were able to come."
"Me too." Ben hesitates for a long moment before shoving one hand in his pocket. "Can I talk to you about something?"
"Alexis and I have been going through a bit of a rough patch. Been disagreeing a lot, I get on her nerves, she gets on mine. The tiniest thing starts World War Three."
Rick smirks, but stays silent. He knows exactly what Ben means; he and Kate can always laugh after the fact, but some of their most passionate arguments have been about the littlest things, like whose turn it is to change the battery on the smoke detector.
"We had a really good talk yesterday," Ben continues, "and we cleared the air a bit. Despite our differences, I can't see myself with anyone else. She-" He winces. "Excuse the cliche, but she completes me."
Rick leans against his desk and crosses his arms, tries to keep his face neutral.
The silence seems to make Ben even more nervous, and he stammers, takes a step back and starts to pace. "I guess what I'm saying is, I know without a doubt that I want to spend the rest of my life with your daughter. So, with your permission, I'd like to ask her to marry me."
Rick lifts his brow, intending to drag out the silence, but Ben looks like he's going to throw up so he takes pity on him. "You and I both know that Alexis is more than capable of making her own decisions," he starts, then uncrosses his arms and claps Ben on the shoulder. "I'd be thrilled for you to officially join our family."
Ben heaves a heavy sigh of relief.
"If she says yes, of course," Rick continues. He laughs at the terrified look on Ben's face. "If there's one thing I know, it's how to read my daughter. And she's head over heels for you. I don't think you have anything to worry about."
"Thank you, Mr. Castle."
Rick holds out his hand and tugs ben into a hug when he takes it. "We're long past the formalities, Ben. Please, it's Rick."
She's trying to act normal, to make it a special day for him. And it has been; their daughter slept in for once, so he woke to Kate's soft lips on his cheek, a whispered "Happy Father's Day" as her hand wandered.
She disappears into the bedroom after breakfast, and he hears the shower start as he's joining Lily for "tea time." Whatever's going on in his wife's mind is making her quiet, her smile not quite reaching her eyes. He'll ask her what's wrong later, if she doesn't say anything first.
"Daddy, you spill."
He starts at Lily's scolding voice, and he straightens the empty teapot, gives his youngest a sheepish smile. "Oops." He takes her toy mug and pours pretend tea into it. "Here you are, princess. Milk and sugar?"
Lily gives him a toothy grin, the tip of her tongue poking out between her teeth, and Rick is struck with how much like her mom she is. "Milk p'ease!"
Kate emerges from the bedroom as they're "finishing" the tea, and he sees her hover from the corner of his eye, watching them from her spot against the doorjamb. Her smirk morphs into a grin when he wiggles his eyebrows in her direction, and she pushes herself off the door to join them.
"Hi Momma!" Lily squeals, holding her arms out and squealing when Kate lifts her.
Kate squeezes their little girl, nuzzles her face in Lily's shoulder, and Rick feels his heart swell with affection. For someone who had once proclaimed to not be much of a baby person, Kate has taken to motherhood well, and Lily adores her.
"You okay?" Kate's voice brings him out of his thoughts about his family, and she and Lily are staring at him, matching concerned expressions on their faces.
He stands, presses a kiss to Lily's cheek, then Kate's. "I'm good," he assures his wife, his hand squeezing her hip. "Are you?"
Kate hums and pulls him close for a lingering kiss to his lips. "I'm good too."
"Momma," Lily whines, squirming in her arms. "Want down!"
"Sorry, baby." Kate winces when she straightens from setting her down, and Castle's hand is on her side in an instant, palm over one of her scars. "I'm okay," she insists, covering his hand with her own. "My back's a little sore is all."
"Feeling your age, Mrs. Castle?" he teases, not even protesting when she shoves him, even if it is a little harder than usual.
"I have more bullet holes than you," she reminds him, her tone playful. "Plus, I carried and birthed our child. I'm allowed to be achy sometimes."
Rick grabs her before she can follow Lily, allows himself a moment to kiss her. "You're extraordinary," he murmurs against her mouth, and he kisses her once more when he feels her smile. "I've known it since day one."
Kate scoffs, but any comeback is thwarted by a tug at his pants. They both look down to see Lily's hazel eyes staring at them.
"Wanna play while Daddy cleans up, baby girl?" she asks, one hand moving to rest on top of Lily's head.
Lily's face lights up as she looks between her two parents. "Daddy clean?"
Rick chuckles and scoops her into his arms, ignoring the protests of his daughter. "Yes, Daddy clean. Daddy will clean and then come find you and Momma."
He doesn't have a chance to ask Kate what's on her mind until Lily is down for her afternoon nap. She comes back downstairs as he's wrapping up his call with Alexis who, despite being on her honeymoon, had insisted on calling and not just texting him for Father's Day.
"Alexis good?" Kate asks as she joins him on the couch, a glass of water in her hand.
Rick switches his phone to vibrate and sets it on the coffee table before turning to face her. "Yeah, the weather finally cleared, so they were able to do some sightseeing today."
"Good. I knew they'd like Kiev."
"Yeah." He reaches across the back of the couch, wiggles his fingers in invitation. When she drapes her fingers over his he just grips them, brushes his thumb over her knuckles in a familiar rhythm.
"I'm sorry about earlier."
Rick looks up at her quiet apology, finds her gaze on him. "What about it?"
Kate lifts a shoulder. "I was quiet. I feel like I hardly paid attention to you."
"That's not true," he argues lightly, tugging her closer. "You don't ever need to apologize for being quiet."
She sighs and sags against his chest. "I should have told you sooner," she mumbles, and he nudges her shoulders so he can look at her.
"Told me what?"
"Well, you know I haven't been feeling well," she starts, and he just nods. She's been more tired than usual lately, and emotional, snapping at him for nothing one minute and falling over herself apologizing the next. "I went to the store on Friday."
His mind is racing, possibilities running through it, so fast he can hardly make sense of them. He's prepared for the worst, but nothing prepares him for what comes out her mouth.
Three years later…
He wakes before her for once, takes a few minutes to just watch her sleep before he hears footsteps upstairs. He brushes a kiss to her cheek before sliding out of bed, careful not to wake her. She'd gotten home late the night before, and they'd stayed awake most of the night talking and reacquainting themselves with each other's bodies.
Although she does a lot from home via videoconference, she has to spend at least one week during the month in Albany. That time apart is the hardest part of her being a state senator; she hates being away from the kids especially, although nightly Facetiming with them, and often him again when the kids are in bed, helps. When Lily's out of school in a few days, they'll move for the summer to the small house they'd bought.
After a quick stop in the bathroom he goes out to the kitchen, meets a bleary-eyed Lily as she descends the stairs. "Good morning, sweetie," he greets her with a hug.
"Morning, Daddy. Mom asleep?"
"Mm-hmm, like you should be."
Lily follows him into the kitchen, her wide yawn mirroring her mom exactly. Rick gives in when she reaches for his coffee, and he grins at the way her nose wrinkles in disgust. His wife doesn't believe him, but Lily looks exactly like her when she does that. It's adorable.
"If you don't like it, don't steal it," he teases, taking his mug back. He grabs a glass from the cupboard and pours her orange juice. "Any particular reason you're up so early?"
Lily shrugs, another carbon copy move she'd inherited from her mother. "Weird dream," is all she offers, but refuses to expand at Rick's gentle prodding.
"I'm always here if you want to talk, you know," he reminds her, pressing a kiss to the crown of her head before she slides from the breakfast bar. "Hey, you want to help with breakfast? Your mom would love it."
"But it's Father's Day," Lily protests, her little brows furrowing. "She should cook for you."
Rick ignores his aching knee when he kneels down to meet his daughter at eye level. "Yes, it is," he agrees. "Father's Day is about celebrating your dad. Mom cooks on this day because she wants to, and taking care of her family makes her happy. But I love to take care of you guys too, you and Jake and Reece and Mom, and cooking is one way I do that. So being able to spend time with you, having Mom home for the weekend, that's how I want to celebrate."
Lily's face scrunches in thought, and Rick can almost sees the wheels turning in her head as she processes his words. "Father's Day is for dads?"
"What if someone doesn't have a dad?"
The corner of his mouth twitches. "Well, then, they celebrate whomever their parent, or parents, are."
"What about your dad? Do you celebrate him?"
Rick considers his words before answering. His answer when the kids have asked about his dad has been that he doesn't know the man. And while he technically had met Jackson Hunt, the spy had never acted like a father to him. "No," he finally answers. "I celebrate your Gram. Because she's my mom and dad."
Lily seems to accept that answer, because she announces that she's going to change out of her pajamas and bounds up the stairs after just a few moments.
Rick groans as he stands, his back popping, and when he stretches his arms over his head, he yelps at the touch of warm fingers to his spine. He turns to see his wife grinning at him, her tongue poking out between her teeth, and he grabs her hand before it can wander. "Not cool, Beckett."
Kate chuckles, a low, throaty sound that has his face flushing. "You know I can't resist you," she teases, lifting up to kiss him.
He grabs her hips before she can step away, kisses her harder, relishes the low moan he hears when he deepens it. "How long have you been listening?" he asks when they part for air, his voice a little breathless.
Her fingers play with the hairs at his nape. "Long enough to hear you say that you want to cook breakfast for me."
He does cook, but only while she retrieves the kids from upstairs. The sound of footsteps bounding down the stairs gives him just enough warning to put down the knife he's cutting fruit with, before he's almost tackled to the ground by his two youngest running into his legs.
"Hi boys," he laughs, ruffling their hair, grinning as two identical faces look up at him.
"Daddy!" they squeal in unison, and he leans down to wrap an arm around each.
Kate nudges him lightly with her knee as she walks past him, leans over the stove. "It smells delicious, babe."
He glances up at her. "Thanks. Think you can keep these two out of the bacon long enough for me to shower?"
Kate jerks her head towards the counter, and when he stands, he sees Lily snag a piece from a plate. "It's not the boys you have to worry about," she points out with a smirk.
Lily just looks between them, an innocent look on her face, mouth full. "What?"
The kids are playing in his office when he emerges from the bathroom, fully dressed thanks to a warning from Kate. He joins them for a minute but his stomach rumbles, the smell of the still-warm breakfast hitting him.
He follows the kids and his wife back out to the kitchen, where he grabs the pitcher of orange juice, retrieves coffee for he and Kate.
The boys chatter throughout breakfast, Lily joining in too, as they list all the things they want to do that day. The zoo, Central Park, Legoland, the list seems endless. Rick leans back in his chair when he's done eating, a grin overtaking his face as he just watches his family. He holds his hand out towards Kate, and she takes it with a grin, tightens her fingers when his thumb brushes across her knuckles.
He tugs her towards him, leans forward far enough so he can brush his lips against hers. "Thank you," he murmurs, settling back in his hair.
She tilts her head, her brows furrowing in confusion. "For what?"
He motions around the table, where their children are oblivious to the exchange. "This. Them." He squeezes her hand. "My life."
Kate grins and leans toward him again, grips the collar of his flannel as she deepens the kiss. "You saved my life, in more ways than one," she breathes when they part. "I love you. I always will."
A/N: As usual, all mistakes are mine. Thank you for reading!