For Nic.

Gentle fingers card through his hair.

He emerges slowly from the depths of slumber, takes stock of his surroundings before he opens his eyes: a warm weight on his legs, an aching tailbone, a cushioned surface at his back, and a little hand clenching the soft cotton of his tee shirt.

He hears the susurrus of a familiar voice, the answer of one less known but no less beloved.

"He's sleeping, baby," his wife whispers, her fingernails still rasping lightly against his scalp.

There's the rustle of movement, a grunt, and then the pressure of a tiny hand patting his cheek. "Daddy sleep?"

Kate laughs, though it's really more of a puff of air, quiet. "Yeah, Jamie, he's resting. Let him be."

But he's not, not anymore. He opens one eye slowly, squinted against the dim light. It's enough though. Enough that his boy sees the movement, grins and squeals, wiggling in his mother's arms. Enough that Castle feels a jerk in his own arms, a foot catching his knee as Lilian startles awake.

He opens both eyes fully, finds Kate laughing at him, her hands full of squirming toddler.

"Hey," he gruffs, voice scratchy.

Jamie escapes then, launching himself at the writer, landing with an 'oomph' against Castle's chest and partially dislodging his sister in the process. The little boy loops his arms around his father's neck, presses a smacking kiss against a scruffy jaw.

"Daddy," he murmurs, and there's such wonder in the small voice that Castle's heart clenches, filled to the brim and overflowing.

He grins and lets his lips brush against dark curls as he winds his arm around his son's back. "How's my favorite boy this morning?"

James just smiles, burying his face into the crook of the writer's neck, warm breath washing over Castle's collarbone.

Turning his head, he sees Lilian blinking up at him owlishly, still within the circle of his other arm, though her rump now rests on the floor, forced off his lap by her younger brother.

"You okay there, baby girl?" he whispers, his hand rising to ruffle her hair.

She nods slowly, a small fist coming up to scrub at her eyes. " 'm fine, Daddy. Good morning."

He tugs her up, a soft 'good morning' crossing his lips before he presses them to her forehead.

And then, as his daughter snuggles back against his chest once more, another quiet voice greets him as long fingers stroke down the back of his head, making him shiver as they toy with the short hair at the nape of his neck. "Morning."

He lifts his eyes, finds her kneeling at his side, rising slightly above him - his wife. Her gaze is tender.

"Morning," he echoes, finds his voice doesn't want to work right when faced with that look in her eyes.

She leans in close, her lips feathering over his temple, his cheek, the tip of his nose. Until finally, finally, finally she finds his mouth with hers.

Gentle at first, her lips meet his, a sweet kiss, loving and easy. She sighs against him, her breath mingling with his, nose brushing his cheek, and he parts his lips.

She smiles. "Hey."

His fingers snag the hem of her shirt, tug her back when she tries to pull away. She chuckles into his open mouth, and he strains his neck upward to reach her, to catch her bottom lip between his teeth, not letting her go.

She comes back to him. Pressing her mouth fully to his, her tongue brushing at the inside of his lips, her fingers tighten at the back of his neck. She steals his breath away, makes his heart pound.

He groans, and she suddenly gentles, their lips parting with a soft sound, her hand no longer squeezing his neck but stroking once more, almost petting him.

"Kate," he murmurs, and she tilts toward him, their foreheads meeting.


He smiles, lets himself just breathe for a moment, waits until the tightness in his chest subsides to its usual gentle pressure, until the fire in his veins banks itself to ever-glowing embers. "Kate, love you."

His eyes are closed, but he doesn't need to see to know that she's smiling. He can picture it perfectly, her lips pressed together, the crinkles at the edges of her eyes. He knows that smile so well.

"Love you too, Castle," she whispers. "So very much."

His heart flutters. Still, after all this time. Every time.

She presses a kiss to his cheek, fingers curling briefly into his hair, and then he opens his eyes, watches her push herself away, off the floor. "Where ya going?"

The detective laughs, nodding her head toward the pair still on his lap. He glances down.

Jamie's thumb is in his mouth, his eyes half shut. Lilian, though...Lilian's eyes dart between her parents, her nose scrunched up.

Second time in less than four hours that they've kissed like that in front of their daughter, he realizes. The little girl looks a bit disgusted.

But, well, it's Kate, and she makes everything else fly right out of his head.

"Gonna go make some breakfast," the woman in question finally answers him. "Keep them entertained?"

"I can do that," he promises, grinning up at her for a moment before he turns his gaze back to his daughter, sneaking his fingers toward her sensitive sides. "I think we'll have a tickle fight."

Lilian tries to squirm away, but his grip on her is too tight and all she can do is laugh breathlessly as he launches his attack.

Through the laughter he hears a not-so-quiet whisper and turns to see Kate whispering in their son's ear. Jamie nods, eyes alight with mischief before he dives fingers first toward his father's armpit.

"Hey," Castle yells, reaching out to catch his wife's wrist. "Don't go turning my children against me."

The wicked gleam in her eye tells him he should have just let her go make breakfast, but it's too late now. She gets a shoulder and a foot out to nudge the coffee table away to a safe distance, and then he finds himself toppling, ending up at the bottom of a heap of limbs and laughter.

The battle lasts for only a minute or two before he has to cry for mercy, sucking in a sharp breath as the other three collapse over him.

He wheezes, his chest weighted down and yet incredibly light, free. Kate rests half on top of him, Jamie sandwiched between them while Lilian hangs on his other side.

The detective shakes her head, perching her chin on his chest where he can see her bright eyes and smiling lips. "You should know better by now than to challenge me in a tickle fight."

He grins, listens to the staccato breathing of their children, his fingers curling against the bare skin at his wife's waist. "I should. But I'm glad I don't."

I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.

-Shel Silverstein, "Hug O' War"

Back                         Home                              Castle Main Page

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!