Disclaimer: Castle is owned by Andrew W. Marlowe and all the grand high mucky mucks of ABC. No copyright infringement is intended and no money was made from this of course. Any similarity to any other story not my own is coincidence.

Title: The Way to a Woman's Heart
Genre: Castle; Kate/Richard; AU
Rating: G
Timeline: Sometime in the far future
Author's Notes: So I make no apologies, this one is shamelessly fluffy and AU. *grin*


"How are you feeling today?" Rick asked solicitously, his eyes catching the small wince Kate made as she set her hands to the small of her back in an effort to relieve the heavy ache.

"I can't believe I let you do this to me, Castle," she replied, practically waddling as she made her way from the stairs to the couch. Kate settled into its depths with a heartfelt sigh before eying the man sitting next to her. Then she tried to reach out and smack him lightly on the shoulder when she saw Richard trying, and failing, to hide the smug smile of purely masculine pride gracing his features. The blow fell far short, hampered as she was by the bulk of her very pregnant belly. Kate settled for scowling in his direction instead.

"How am I feeling, he asks. How does it look like I'm feeling?"

Richard made a small show of looking her over.

"Let me answer that for you. I look like I feel... and I feel like a three ton whale..." she groused lightly.

"Ah... but you're a beautiful three ton whale."

Kate scowled once more, and Richard had the good grace to cringe a little. Kate sighed.

"Thank you," she replied softly after a long moment. "But I don't feel beautiful... or... or even like myself at all anymore. I feel swollen, and cranky, and... and tired."

Gently, Richard reached for Kate's legs and guided her to place her feet in his lap. She shifted and leaned back on the arm of the couch as he started to rub her feet. She sighed gratefully and closed her eyes as he soothed the ache in her swollen appendages.

"Is that spinach and anchovy pizza I smell?" Kate asked hopefully.

"It is," Richard confirmed.

"For me?"

"All yours. Of course... no one else in their right mind would want to eat it."

"Are you saying I'm not in my right mind, Castle?"

"I demand a lawyer before I answer that one, Detective," Richard replied with a small laugh before gently setting Kate's feet down on the couch cushions.

Kate popped open one eye and watched as the writer walked over to the kitchen counter to retrieve the pizza box. It took only a moment for him to bring the garishly stamped 'Tony's' box over to her and set it on the low coffee table in front of the couch.

"One anchovy and spinach pizza."

Kate rose somewhat ponderously from her reclining position and reached for the pizza box lid. She smiled a little in anticipation and popped the cardboard container open with an audible little snap.

"Castle..."

The detective's eyes narrowed a bit and her smile turned into a serious line.

"Castle, what's..."

Kate reached for the plain velvet box nestled cleanly in a small up-ended plastic sauce cup placed precisely in the middle of the pizza.

"...This?"

Richard studied Kate's face for a moment before replying, "The new fun toy surprise that comes in every 'Tony's' box?"

He attempted to give her the most innocent look possible as he watched her finger the dark velvet cautiously, still not opening the box.

"Richard..."

"Look Kate," he began, sitting down on the couch next to her. "I know that I don't exactly have the best track record when it comes to marriage."

She raised an eyebrow.

"Okay, so I have a lousy track record."

Kate turned to watch his eyes.

"But that was..."

"That was?" She prompted when he fell silent.

"Hold on," he replied, holding up an hand. "I'm trying to figure out how to say that that was before you without making it sound too cheesy."

"Castle..."

"No really, Kate. I..."

"You really think we should get married?" The detective interrupted.

"I do," he replied more softly than Kate had expected. She studied his sincere expression a moment before she opened the small box in her hands with a light snap. Inside was a small golden plastic ring with a purple 'diamond.' It was strung on a simple chain. Kate lifted it free and eyed Richard as the chain fell loose in her hand, the ring dangling merrily at the end.

Richard smiled a broad, shamelessly amused grin.

"Castle..."

"Say yes," he prompted. "We're good together, Kate," he said by way of reasoning.

She raised an eyebrow.

Richard met her eyes fearlessly.

"Look, I could tell you a million reasons why you should say yes. And I'm sure you could give me a million and one for why you should say no. But there's only one that matters... we love each other."

He waited for an answer.

"No poems or sonnets, Castle. No grand eloquent speech?" Kate asked in response.

"I can give you those too, if you want," Richard replied. "But really, it still comes back to... I love you, and you love me." He shrugged lightly. "We're in love. I think we should get married. What do you think?"

Kate twisted the plastic ring in her fingers.

"Help me put this on?" She finally asked quietly.

Richard beamed and hopped up to practically dance to a spot behind Kate. Gently, he helped her put on the silly necklace before moving back around the couch. He reached into his pocket and pulled out another small box before kneeling down next to Kate.

"I've been carrying this around for weeks," he said quietly. "It's been in my family for generations and Mother and Alexis both agreed that you should have it."

He handed Kate the small velvet box. She opened it to reveal an elegant, antique engagement ring.

"It's not every bride that gets two engagement rings," Richard said with a smile. "But I figured, the purple one, you could wear for special occasions."

"Like when I'm six months pregnant," Kate said with a small grin.

Richard smiled himself before adding, "And this one... you could wear everyday, if you want."

Kate looked at the man kneeling next to her, his face open, his expression pleased and tender.

"I do," Kate replied quietly...