He unstraps his daughter carefully, trying not to wake her. But, of course, she does wake, and blue eyes lock on his.

"Hey there, baby girl," he murmurs. "Gonna get you upstairs to bed, okay?"

She babbles in answer, softly spoken nonsense that continues as he pulls her into his arms and steps back from the car, nudging the door closed with his hip. She snuggles into his chest, tucking her face into his neck, dark hair tickling at his throat.

Rounding the car and heading toward Kate and Minnie who wait at the elevator, he unconsciously begins humming, glances down to see little eyes fluttering shut. His wife clicks the remote to lock the doors as he approaches and then meets his eyes with a smirk.

He stops humming, punches the button for the elevator. "What?"

She shakes her head. "Just. What you were humming."

"What was I humming?" he asks, lowering an eyebrow. He thinks, tries to recapture the melody that he's already forgotten.

Kate watches him for a moment and then hums the tune back to him. It's familiar, but he can't quite place it.

She stares at him, but finally he shrugs.

"Zelda," she says as the door opens and they step inside. "From the Ocarina of Time, if I remember correctly."

He shakes his head and leans over to press the number for their floor, the doors sliding shut. "So hot. You are so hot."

His wife laughs quietly. "Because I know the music from a video game?"

He nods and shifts his daughter so he can wrap an arm around Kate's shoulders. "For that as well as many other reasons. You're my dream woman."

She elbows him in the side, but then leans into his embrace, curling her free hand around his waist. "You're ridiculous."

He tightens his grasp on her, tilting his head to feather a kiss across her cheek. "But you love me."

"For some reason," she sighs. "I really do."

He chuckles and tugs her closer, deserts the smoothness of her cheek to nip at her earlobe. Kate startles back.

"Hey now," she chides him, but there's not even a hint of anger in her voice nor in the dark eyes she turns toward him. "At least wait until we get upstairs."

He grins at her, sees his happiness reflected in her own gaze.

The elevator opens and they step out, Castle ushering his wife through the door in front of him. For purely selfish motives, of course, which he would freely admit as he watches the sway of her hips walking toward the door to the loft.

"You coming, Castle?" she calls over her shoulder, throwing him a look that tells him she knows exactly what he's doing. Knows and doesn't mind.

He winks. "Right behind you."

She'd watched for a moment as he struggled with his seatbelt, one hand still cradling the cat against his chest.

"Here," she offered. "Pass the cat to me."

He nodded, handing over the little bundle, and quickly unclasped the mechanism. Kate glanced back at their sleeping daughter, but before she could say a word, Castle leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to her lips.

"I'll get her," he whispered as he drew back. "Meet you at the elevator."

She nodded and slid out of the car, giving him a soft smile over the roof as he stepped out on his side. She heard his quiet words as he unstrapped the little girl, her heart swelling.

And now, as she stands in the doorway of the dim room, watches her husband tucking the covers around the baby, she feels that familiar tug, that irresistible need to be close to him, close to her daughter too. And what is she waiting for?

She crosses the room in two steps, drapes herself around him, chin at his bicep. "Hey."

He turns, the corner of his mouth quirking up and his eyes crinkling. "Hey. Minnie all settled?"

The detective nods, sliding her hand across his back, curling her fingers to let her nails rasp over the cotton of his shirt.

"Yeah," she says quietly. "I left her in our bathroom. Moved her litter box and food in there, so she'll be close. Just in case."

He sighs, brushing his thumb over their daughter's forehead, and then turns to wrap his arms fully around Kate. "I don't know about you, but I'm tired. Been a long evening."

She tilts her head to press her lips to his chest. "That it has. Ready for bed?"

"With you?" he says, leaning back to leer at her. "I'm always ready for bed with you."

She doesn't bother smacking him, just purses her lips to hold back her smile. Among the many other benefits of being married to Richard Castle, she never has to worry about someone finding her desirable. He certainly makes no secret of how he feels, not anymore.

Kate slips out of his arms for a moment, just long enough to bend over and kiss her daughter's eyelids, eliciting a soft gurgle from the tiny girl.

"Ironic, isn't it?" she asks quietly as she straightens, winding her arm around her husband's waist and leading him away from the small form.

He cocks his head. "What's ironic?"

She scoffs a little. "That it would be the lilies."

"Mmm," he hums in acknowledgment. "I see what you mean."

He pauses in the doorway, and she stops at his side, turning with him, letting him slide behind her to lean against the frame. She presses her back to his chest as his hands slip under her arms, resting warm and sure over her belly.

"You never did tell me why you picked Lilian," she murmurs, glancing back to see his face.

He grins sheepishly. "You never asked."

She shrugs. "I was exhausted and we'd argued about so many times and she was there and she needed a name. When you suggested Lilian, she opened her eyes. I figured it was meant to be."

He nods, resting his chin on her shoulder.

"Besides," she continues. "I liked the name. And I was just glad you didn't want to name her something like Moon Unit or Peaches Honeyblossom."

"Well, technically Moon Unit is a boy's name," he points out, his voice so matter of fact.

She elbows him in the side. "But why Lilian?"

He tips his head to meet her eyes. "You really don't know?"

"Would I be asking if I did?"

He shrugs. "Good point. It was for Lilian Jackson Braun. She was a mystery writer."

"Oh?" the detective asks. "I've never heard of her."

She can't say she's surprised her husband would pick the name of a writer. But she's quite well-read too, and it does surprise her that she doesn't know who this woman is.

"She wrote a series of books," he tells her. "The Cat Who books. About a writer who solves mysteries. And his cats."

Kate tries to turn in his arms to face him, but he holds her tight, chuckling softly in the half-light of the bedroom. "Really, Castle?"

"Hey," he defends himself. "At least I didn't suggest naming her Yum-Yum."


He leans down to press his lips to her neck, speaking against her skin. "The name of the female cat."

She rolls her eyes even as one hand rises to slide along his cheek. "Well, thank goodness for small favors."

"Anyway, I figured it was fitting," he says, turning to kiss her palm in the way that always makes her heart beat faster. "What with Minnie and all. The cat who brought us together."

She laughs, can't help noticing the rather breathless quality to the sound. "Well, maybe not brought us together. But made me see the light?"

He nods, and opens his mouth, his teeth grazing the tender flesh of her fingers. "If I ever write a memoir, that chapter will be titled 'Catalyst.' Catchy, don't you think?"

Kate groans and pushes his face away from her hand. "That's a terrible pun."

He's not deterred, simply switches tactics, dropping his mouth to the bit of her shoulder bared by her shirt and whispering between kisses. "Yet true. Anyway, you get to name the next one."

She lets out a sound that's half laugh, half moan. They really need to get out of their daughter's room if this is what's going to happen, but she can't resist the banter, the verbal foreplay. "The next chapter?"

He leaves her shoulder to presses his open mouth to her throat, tongue swiping against her skin and making her shiver before he brings his lips up to her ear. "The next kid."

"Mmm," she agrees, turning her head to brush her lips lightly over his. "Boy names this time."

His hands tighten on her for a moment, then gentle, smoothing across her belly, across the bump that's just becoming visible. She rests her hands once more on top of his, hopes for a kick.

"Four and a half months left, Kate," he murmurs. "Better get cracking."

The end, for now. ;)

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