AN: Happy Birthday AC! Thank you for bringing me into the fray. :)



He hates this. Seriously, this just isn't fair. She so rarely has a day off in the middle of the week, and instead of spending it lounging in bed with her, all her delicious nakedness aligned with his, he has to sit through Black Pawn meetings. Really dull meetings. Final edits, tour schedules, press releases, details, boring details. Seriously, doesn't he pay people for that?

Castle bounces his toes against the ground, stealthily reaches for another sugar-glazed donut. On second thought, maybe he's already had enough sugar. He can't sit still; it is a gorgeous day outside, the sun dancing gaily through the double-glass windows, and he imagines the heat flittering off the hot asphalt on the streets, the heavy smell of humidity and dry dust, greasy hotdogs and ice cream, and children jumping and screaming in the fountains.

His phone vibrates in his pocket, jolting him out of his day dream. He glances up but everybody around the conference table is animatedly discussing the six or seven line summary on the back of the book jacket and honestly, why is he even here?

He fishes the phone out of his pocket; can't stop the grin that spreads over his cheeks when he sees that she sent him a message.


A text message with a photo.

Actually, it is only the photo. She didn't write anything with it, just sent a picture of herself. Curious, he taps the display and it blows up to full screen.

God she is so utterly, breathtakingly beautiful. It hits him every time, sends hot dancing shivers through his blood.

She is wearing white three quarter pants that show off her slim, tan calves; flip flops on her feet and a purple sleeveless shirt, revealing equally tan arms, lithe yet so strong underneath, and so sensitive when he meticulously runs his tongue up the inside of her elbow…

He squirms in his chair, restless to get out of here, trying to rein in his overeager imagination. Wants to go join her wherever she is, whatever she is doing. Speaking of…

Castle peers at the picture more closely. She is leaning with her back against the trunk of a tree, her slim body relaxed, one knee pulled up for balance, with her foot pressed against the bark. Her face is upturned, eyes closed and the sun is coming in from behind her, outlining her entire silhouette in bright, iridescent light, as if she is glowing.

His heart thumps loudly against his ribcage. She is so incredibly, stunningly gorgeous. He may have to have that picture framed.


The next message arrives about an hour later. He snorts a little when he opens the photo to full screen. She went to the zoo?

Gina elbows his arm, gives him an icy glare and he hides the phone, pretends to pay attention for about thirty seconds before he picks up the phone to stare at her picture once more.

She is dwarfed by a thick wooden pole that reaches high into the sky; has her hands wrapped around it and a leg swung up high in the air behind her, laughs brightly into the photo as she goofs around. There is a large, round nest perched atop the pole, holding two storks that regally look down at the world.

He loves this side of her, the playful fun girl that can find joy in almost anything. He always knew she had that in her but now that they're dating, he gets to be a part of it, all the time, and it's an adventure every day, a joyride he never wants to jump off again. Her happiness is all he ever wanted.

He smiles, pleased, slides the phone back in his pocket.


It's just after lunch when she sends yet another photo. They spoke during his lunch break, of course. She just wanted him to feel as if he was with her during the day, she admitted softly when he asked her about the images, and it's exhilarating, almost overwhelming, knowing how much she misses him too.

However, it does not help him decipher her next photo. Because it only shows a crate packed full with fresh cabbage heads. She must be at the farmer's market. She loves it there, always admires the variety of flowers when they stroll through the stands on Saturday mornings, and he buys her fresh fruit that she eats immediately, the warm sweet juice running down her chin in tantalizing trails.

But she isn't even in the picture, only a vegetable.

The next image pops in a mere minute later. A close-up shot of a pea pod, cracked open along its walls, the peas nestled inside, round and plump and bright green.

He is utterly confused. He feels like she is sending him a message and he isn't getting it.

Is she making him dinner? Inviting him for dinner? But she knows he's not particularly fond of any food that is green.


It is a couple of hours this time before Kate sends him another message and he is getting restless, impatient with it. There is a mystery to decipher, there is his woman waiting for him and they really must wrap this up quickly; he is reaching the end of his patience. He needles Gina until she finally gives in and restructures the afternoon meeting so he won't have to stay any longer than another hour.

His phone hums and this time, he excuses himself for a moment, hides in the hallway before he pulls up the photo.

She is at the loft now, and- what is she doing? He barks out a loud laugh at the image. She is standing in the kitchen, barefoot, and wearing an apron. The woman has probably never worn an apron before in her life! Said apron is tied around her high, too; instead of around her waist, she has the strings cinched together just under her breasts. She's put her hair in an orderly, 1950s style bun, and the whole outfit looks like a Halloween costume gone wrong.

So maybe she is making him dinner, but then why the apron, why is she barefoot when she frequently complains that the tiles are too cold against her soles (he is already planning on having floor heating installed for her soon). Something niggles just at the edges of his brain; something he feels he should be able to put together but he cannot put his finger on it.

Kate, what are you trying to say?


It is with the next one that he finally gets it, and he cannot believe it took him that long to put it together. He's sure he won't live that one down.

He is in the middle of shaking hands, saying his good byes and 'great job's and 'thank you's when her message pops in; he glances down and realization swamps hotly all over his body, leaps to his heart and he can barely concentrate on who he is speaking to, can barely breathe, probably sounds like an incoherent fool but he doesn't care, it doesn't matter, nothing matters but this, her, Kate, and he makes his excuses rapidly, needs to just get home, right now.

He stares at it more thoroughly during the elevator ride down, can't stop staring at it during the taxi ride.

She is standing next to the oven, in the photo. The oven door is open; she has the rack pulled out and perched atop the rack is a single hamburger bun.

It's a bun. In the oven.

And the stork.

And she was glowing.

The cabbage patch, and a pea in a pod.

Wearing her apron high. Barefoot in the kitchen.

The photos arrive faster now; she seems to know that he finally got it. She's sitting at the table, smiling brightly, part smug and part sultry, such an alluring contrast, with two plates in front of her.

Eating for two.

He silently urges on the elevator that has never before gone up to his loft as slowly as right now. His heart is leaping so fast, almost makes him feel nauseous, he is stunned and excited and exhilarated and-

He should've gotten her flowers, a huge bouquet, or maybe a gift, she deserves a gift, all the gifts really, anything, everything. But what, what could he get that is as gigantic as-? Then his phone hums again-

And there is nothing in the world that would make him go anywhere but to her now.

The picture is grainy, milky blue and white, just a big bubble shape with a little bubble inside, formed just like a kidney bean, but he's seen these before, knows he's staring at his entire world, right there.

She follows it up with a text this time.

"When are you coming home… Daddy?"