The sound of her daughter's laughter guides her into the half-lit room. Minnie sits back on her haunches, batting with velveted paws at the little fist waving in the air.

The detective leans against the door frame for a moment, observing in amusement the affection between the two. A muffled curse wafts through the apartment as something clatters downstairs, and she glances behind her, wonders what her husband is up to this time.

When she turns back, two pairs of bright eyes regard her, both blinking slowly, one pair a rich green, the other a deep blue.

"How're my girls?" she lilts as she steps into the room and strides toward the pair. "Ready for some dinner?"

Minnie leaps to the changing table next to the crib, meowing and butting her head against Kate's shoulder when the woman leans down. She spares a moment, scratching behind the soft gray ears, eliciting a smooth purr accompanied by a wet nose nuzzling her hand.

And then pudgy pink arms reach for the detective, little mouth babbling happily at her mother's presence.

She and Castle have shared the misty-eyed moments of mamamamama and dada, the not quite words that still make her heart beat a little faster, even if she knows that the baby is just trying out sounds, that complete gibberish is as frequent as something resembling an actual word.

"Hey, baby," she coos, scooping up her daughter and snuggling the little one to her chest. "Hey, beautiful girl. Ready to go see what Daddy has for us?"

Chubby cheeks spread wide with a dimpled grin, eyes sparkling so much like her father's as she looks at Kate.

How did she get so lucky?

She curls her fingers around little knees, stroking and caressing and tickling, earning her daughter's joyous chortle.

Never fails.

Her heart swells, full to the brim, and she has to pause halfway across the room, has to give herself a moment to appreciate what her life has become.

A soft thud on the rug followed by the click of claws on the hardwood floor, and Minnie figure-eights around her feet, silky fur brushing bare ankles. She slid into a pair of Castle's boxers and one of his tee shirts, not seeing the need to dress up. Not when it's just them, not when they'll eat dinner and probably snuggle in for a mindless movie.

She nudges Minnie with her foot and the cat looks up, blinking lazily before turning and sauntering out the door, tail straight up in the air but for the curve at the end, the one like a question mark. Castle loves that, loves that the little creature's body reflects her inquisitive nature.

The detective's hair hangs loose around her shoulders and it's not long before a small hand tangles in a lock, tugging on a thick curl. A round mouth at her collarbone comes next, along with the slight scrape of those new teeth against her skin.

"Hey now," she chides gently when light suction turns into gnawing. "Supper's almost ready."

When she flicks a finger softly against the little girl's cheek, she's met with wide-eyed disbelief. It's an expression she recognizes, has seen so often, albeit usually from a certain ruggedly handsome author. She can't help but laugh.

Lifting her eyes from her daughter's face, she focuses once more on the familiar path in front of her, finds the man himself waiting at the bottom of the stairs, wearing a bright smile.

"There you are," he murmurs, and the sound of that deep voice, that soft tone - it still makes her stomach flip. "All ready?"

Kate nods her answer, watching as he bends to catch Minnie, who still has a habit of launching herself at him when she gets close enough. Full grown the cat may be, but she's no more grown up than the man holding her as she arches her neck to rub under his chin.

"It's a good thing you don't have allergies," the detective says, looking on as her husband raises the animal up to face level, rubs his nose in her belly. He laughs, shifting Minnie to the cradle of one arm against his chest and extending his other hand toward wife and daughter.

He reels them in as she descends the final step, tucking herself close to his side, her once calm baby now wriggling in her arms, leaning toward the writer.

Castle beams, meeting Kate's eyes briefly, unveiled happiness shining out of him. He turns his body, tilts to press a kiss to the little girl's forehead.

But she eludes him, ducking his lips and jerking forward so quickly that Kate has to tighten her grip on the little body to keep her from falling.

Tiny fists open and close as the baby reaches out. But not for Castle, whose face is confused, maybe even a bit offended. He laughs though, and so does Kate when their daughter gets her arms around her intended target.

Minnie gives them a long-suffering look, and the detective is a moment away from telling Castle to free the poor cat when a young voice speaks. Soft, but undeniably clear. And happy. "Kitty."

"Figures," he mutters, shaking his head. "It figures that her first word would be 'kitty.' Couldn't possibly have been 'daddy,' could it?"

He looks up when a sharp elbow meets his side, finds Kate watching him with barely concealed amusement. "What?"

She chuckles. "How do you think I feel? I carry her around for nine months, give her all the nourishment she needs to survive, and yet it's the cat she loves most."

Castle slides his hand to her side, up and down, caressing the smooth curves of her body. She's so beautiful - this woman who has given him everything he ever longed for, who continues to love him beyond his wildest dreams.

He leans down, presses his lips to hers in a quick, deep kiss. She groans against his mouth and he spreads his fingers wide, wishes the shirt that hangs loosely on her frame would disappear, wishes their daughter were still napping.

It surprises him sometimes, his ever-fierce need for her. Three years together, two married, and he still has that caveman urge to throw her over his shoulder and carry her off to their bed.

But little hands push against his chest and Minnie meows and he pulls back, takes a deep breath, reins in his want. Kate's dark eyes watch him, her lips parted and pink, his own desire reflected in her gaze.

"Supper," he rasps, tearing his eyes from her and reaching down to catch the wriggling child in her arms.

The detective nods slowly, her eyes lightening as they trade, cat for kid. He cuddles his little girl tight against his chest, feathering his lips against the crown of her head. Her hands fist in the collar of his shirt, tiny fingers curling against his skin as she snuggles into the warmth of his body.

He glances up, finds Kate staring at him, expression open and unguarded. Happy. In love. With him.

How did he get so lucky?

His wife - his wife - bumps her shoulder against his, nudges him back toward the kitchen and the smell of the macaroni and hot dogs he has waiting for them.

"Hungry," Kate whines.

A sudden damp sensation has him looking down at his daughter, discovering the wet spot left on his shirt by her insistent mouth. He laughs. "You're not the only one."

"So feed us already," the detective says, arching an eyebrow when he turns his head to see her following him.

She lifts a hand to his back, presses her palm against his shoulder blade. He doesn't budge. When Minnie joins Kate's quest, butting her head against his spine, he purses his lips, holding back a grin.

He shakes his head disapprovingly. "So pushy, you Beckett women."

Autumn eyes crinkle at him in response, her voice low, tender when she speaks. "Castle women now."

His heart thuds sharply in his chest, too good, too right, too much.

He turns to face her fully, has to see all of her. His hand shoots out without his brain's conscious permission, tugging her closer, losing himself in her eyes. "Kate-"

She lifts up on her toes, presses a soft finger over his lips. When he closes his mouth, she slides her hand back, cradling his jaw as she pushes up on tiptoes, moving her mouth softly over his.

Not long enough. Never long enough.

But their daughter has begun chewing on his shirt and Minnie is restless in Kate's arms. Later.

Later he can show his wife just how much she means to him. Just how much this life they've built together means to him. He can take care of her other needs later.

For now, he can feed her, feed all of them. He tugs on her hand, wraps his arm around her, tucks her into his side. "C'mon. Time to eat."

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