AN: I have the sweetest kindest, most patient betas ever! I also really liked the episode :D Contains spoilers for 6.07

He's not quite sure what he's witnessing, but he knows he's holding his breath. It's tiny but it's monumental at the same time, it's something he's not a part of and for once he doesn't feel the urge to rush in, divert attention or check everyone is okay. And if part of letting her grow up - not that he has a choice, but still making a conscious effort - and sharing her means he gets to bear witness to moments like this, he might be okay with it.

More than okay.

He's not sure if it's the clothes, the way they stand or the tentative looks that bounce back and forth between them, but they could be related, not sisters, no, that's not quite it and disturbs him a little too much to think about.

Maybe Aunt and Niece?


There is something of family about them, that he can't put his finger on, in fact there always has been. Right back at the beginning when little snippets of Beckett advice would bridge the distance between the child he knew and the woman his daughter would become. There was always something there, maybe he's seeing it blossom.

And - from the outside, looking in - it's ridiculously hard to define, but again, that's okay. They're creating a weird mish-mashed concoction and if it works for them who cares what the hell it looks like to anybody else.

After all, he's already got two brother-sons and a sort of step mother come scary disciplinarian, in the form of Ryan, Espo and Gates. If you start throwing in his mother, father and her dad, Lanie and Jenny, well, he's long past the point of expecting his family to look anything like 'normal'.

Normal's overrated.

He watches silently, and it's the tiniest moment, but it's magical. It's nowhere near as obvious as his daughters hand in his or slipping that ring on Kate's finger. It's not first words, first steps or first kisses; it's so small it's almost insignificant.

But it's not.

It's subtle.

He knows she says 'thank you' as she said she would, he can just about lip read that, but whatever conversation flows afterwards - as short and sweet and snappy as it may be - he is not privy to. Because as much as he benefits from it, this moment isn't really for him.

Beckett mouths something back, her face light and her body open, but he sees the slight tensing of her fingers, knows she understands the importance of this moment too and he can feel it in the air between them, even from all the way over here in his not-so-secret hiding place, this sense that she doesn't want to mess it up.

He didn't think he could love her more, this Kate with the soft smiles and patient eyes, didn't think it was physically possible, but there is this little tug in his chest, an indefinable shift, and just like that he does - he loves her more than ever.

His daughter asks if she's sure, if Beckett is sure, and she says yes. It's a very firm yes with a half smile and a head nod that he knows well. One that means I am sure, don't argue, but I still think you're cute and he sees it turned on his daughter and he can't help but smile.

Then he loses all train of thought because his heart is hammering in his chest and Alexis is ducking her head then lifting up and owning whatever she just said and Kate has this look on her face, one of understanding, one of peace.

He's not sure who moves first, it might be Kate with her slight shift in body language, but it's definitely Alexis who raises her arms - not all the way, like she's not sure what will happen, but it's an offer none the less - and Kate smiles, darts to her feet and pulls his daughter into a sudden squeezing hug. Her arms go up with the curve of her cheeks and she pulls the girl in towards her as if that hug was an inevitability and all she needed was an opening.

He's been on the receiving end of those hugs - more often lately - the sudden swoop of her body around his, wrapping, tangling, holding, loving, and it's like a ton of bricks have just fallen away from his chest as he breathes in deeply, perhaps for the first time in weeks, and slumps into the door.

They don't hug for long, barely enough time passes for Alexis to rock back on her heels and Kate to drop her arms and tuck her hair behind her ear and he can sense it's a little awkward, that it will probably be that way for a while.

They don't have the most verbose relationship and that's okay, he thinks, as he pushes himself away from the door and starts to walk towards them, and he doesn't need to know what was said. They'll get there, little by little, and until they do, he's content to watch moments like this one, moments that he doesn't need to intrude on, moments that are bigger than they seem.

Small steps, that's more than enough.