And Everything Nice

1. Tree

"You got her, right?"

Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, yet failing, Kate Beckett ignored her husband's overly worried question as she unbuckled the dozing infant strapped in a car seat.

"Need any help?" Castle asked.

"I'm fine, babe," Kate answered, tilting her head slightly over her shoulder to catch a glimpse of her worrywart of a spouse. Shaking her head, her lips spread wide in a beaming smile when she glanced back to find two adorable blue eyes blinking up at her. "Your father is a worrywart," she informed the baby as she gently hoisted the tiny human out of the car seat, cradling her lovingly in her arms. Lily made a little noise that genuinely sounded like agreement, at least to her trained ears. "You got that right, kid. He totally is. Yes!"

"Hey!?" Castle objected, pointing a finger at her. "No ganging up on me. Not fair."

Kate slowly turned, shifting her arms to adjust her hold on Lily, and flicked her gaze up. "Stop pouting, Castle, it's not attractive. You're a grown ass man."

Castle gasped, rushing forward to gently, yet hurriedly, place his hands over Lily's little ears. "Beckett! No swearing in front of the baby!" he admonished in a hiss.

"Worrywart," she teased, laughing as he frowned and continued to pout. "Okay, I take it back. You're cute when you pout." That made him smile. As did the quick kiss that followed.

"All right," Castle declared, slapping his gloved hands together as he stepped back. "Let's get Flower Girl strapped in and we'll start the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree."

Kate snuggled with the cooing Lily as Castle hurried around to pop the sedan's trunk and retrieve the carrier stored within. Gently rocking their baby girl in her arms, Kate followed him and watched as he fumbled with the expensive baby carrier that he'd insisted on buying. Kate shook her head. She would have been fine with a simple wrap, where Lily could be nestled close to her chest, but, of course, Richard Castle had other ideas.

It had been startling, really, like being struck with lightning, how much she loved being a mother. Kate hadn't expected it. But the moment after the doctor had placed a newborn Lily Johanna Castle on her chest, Kate Beckett had fallen in love. Babies hadn't really been her thing. She'd admitted as much to Castle, but had quickly assured him she'd feel differently when it came to their own children. She was thrilled to learn she hadn't been wishing on a star with that declaration.

"How you doing, babe?" Kate asked, trying to mask her amusement.

He narrowed his eyes, not fooled. "Let's swap."

It was her turn to pout, not wanting to give Lily up, but she gently handed off their baby daughter to Castle, who grinned like the proud daddy he was, making fun faces and cooing noises as he tenderly cradled his little 'Flower Girl'.

Kate bent down and picked up the ridiculously expensive baby carrier. She slipped her arms through the straps, tightening it snug to her chest. She spent a few moments making some tiny adjustments, occasionally glancing up to watch Castle with their daughter. He excelled in the role. And she loved watching him with Lily. His love and adoration were evident in the sparkling delight in his blue eyes—which Lily had inherited—and the upturn quirk of his lips. The pair of them were quite smitten with each other. Lily giggled and gurgled in response to her daddy's antics, clearly delighting in them.

"Ready," she announced once she'd finished preparing the carrier.

"Let me check," Castle offered.

She didn't bother hiding her eye roll this time. "Geez, Castle. It's fine," she swatted his questing hand away, knowing he was just using it as an excuse to cop a feel, which he did. So, she returned the favor, dropping her hand low and grabbing his crotch, making him squawk in surprise. It was quite funny. Lily thought so, judging from peel of high-pitched laughter that came from the baby.

"Okay, Castle, hand her over."

"But she's so cute! I wanna keep her. Let me keep her," he whined like a child he sometimes was, clutching Lily as if she was a toy he didn't want to part with. He even attempted his puppy dog eyes on her. The nerve of the man.

Kate placed her hands on her hips and gave him a taste of her patented look.

"All right, all right," he quickly surrendered under her hardened gaze that had made many confess their sins in the interrogation room at the Twelfth Precinct. "She's just so cute," he mumbled in defeat as he shifted Lily around so he could slide her into the snug carrier.

"She's got good genes," Kate commented, helping Castle with the last few straps, securing their daughter into the carrier, held close to her chest. She lovingly cupped the side of his face and drew him in for a kiss. Lily squealed excitedly when they parted. "She's a perfect blend of us."

"That she is," concurred Castle, glancing back down at Lily, who was gurgling happily and swinging her arms, delighting in the freedom of motion the carrier provided her. He dipped his head and pressed a quick kiss to the top of her little head, a happy squeal followed. Both parents grinned.

"Okay, Castle," Kate gestured. "I'll follow your lead."

"Ooh, this should be a nice change," Castle chortled to himself, and then glanced down at Lily to inform her, "Usually, it's the other way around."

"Don't make me regret it," Kate warned.

"Fear not, Beckett," Castle asserted. "I know what I'm doing!"

She surprised a smirk, and mumbled under her breath, "Not the first time I've heard that before." Then she trailed her fingers over Lily's fuzz of hair and dropped a kiss on the top of her head, before wrapping her arms around baby and carrier, and hurried to keep pace with her excitable husband as he hunted down the perfect tree.

It had been her idea to come out to this Christmas tree farm. Kate thought it would be a fun family activity for the three of them to share. And judging by the way Lily—so much like her daddy—wiggled excitedly in the baby carrier strapped to her chest, it had been a good idea. It had the added benefit of getting them out of the city for a couple of hours.

Kate jogged after Castle, smiling widely as Lily made delighted like squeals and swung her tiny little arms and legs about. Daddy Castle glanced back over his shoulder and waved at his girls, before then making another funny face, which resulted in the most adorable gurgled laugh from Lily.

Castle grinned, stopped in his hunt for the perfect tree, and retraced his steps back to them, bending down to talk to the baby. "You like that, Flower Girl?"

Lily giggled in response, swung her hands around in an attempt to grab Castle's nose. He jumped back, and Kate had to laugh, it was so comical. His eyes snapped up to her and he scowled.

"Sorry, it's just… you jumped back so fast!" she tried stifling a chuckle, but it couldn't be held back. She danced her fingers up and down Lily's arms, before letting her daughter grab her point finger.

Castle rubbed his nose, clearly remembering the last time Lily had grabbed it. "It's not funny," he groused. "She's got quite a grip." He pressed his lips in a thin smile. "She's strong. Like her Mommy."

"And a goofball, like her Daddy," Kate asserted as Lily blew out a raspberry noise.

Castle chortled and gave his daughter a thumbs up, which made Lily smile a little gummy smile. His gaze lingered, and she couldn't blame him. She'd found out very early on it was difficult to look away from their adorable baby. Sometimes it still amazed her, that they made this gorgeous tiny human being together. It was breathtaking. After everything that had happened to them, all the difficulties in their relationship, she was utterly shocked at how easily it had been for them to get pregnant. It amazed the doctors as well.

Kate pressed her lips together and smiled, feeling her heart, which had suffered numerous injures—both physical and emotional—over the years, swell and beat strongly with a combination of pride and love.

"Ooh!" Castle's voice startled her.

Blinking, Kate jerked her head and saw her husband dashing down the aisle between the trees. Once again clutching her arms around baby and carrier, Kate smirked and quickly followed, pumping her legs to keep up. Who knew Castle could move so fast?

"I've found it!" Castle declared, gesturing dramatically to—yes—the perfect tree. He glanced at her and waggled his eyebrows.

Kate let out a breathless laugh. "It's perfect," she concurred.

While Castle went to borrow a saw from the clerk's stand near the entrance, so he could cut the tree down himself, Kate rubbed her hands up and down Lily's arms, and swayed in place as she hummed a little holiday melody. Lily swiveled her little head around, her blue eyes wide and large, taking in the world around her.

"It's magical, isn't it, Lily?" Kate asked, bending her head down to whisper against her daughter's ear as she glanced around at all the trees. "Your Daddy loves Christmas. When he was a kid, he didn't get to have the big Christmases we have now. Grandma Martha couldn't afford those, but they still celebrated. It was different for me. I grew up with large Christmas with family and friends. But then I lost my Christmas spirit when your Grandma Johanna passed. And I was like that for a long time. Then your Daddy came along and… he restored it. I didn't make it easy for him, but he persisted, and in the end, he won me over."

Lily made a little noise, like a hiccup, and Kate patted her stomach through the carrier.

"You're a product of love, my beautiful little girl, always remember that," she told her daughter.

"What are you two conspiring about behind my back?" Castle's jovial voice made her smirk.

"Such a jokester," Kate declared with feigned annoyance.

Castle held up the handheld saw the tree farm employee had loaned him and struck a pose. "What do you think?"

Kate smirked as her eyes swept over his form. "For reasons beyond me, I find that incredible hot."

Castle grinned and puffed out his chest. He winked at Lily. "See, remember that, Lily. Your Mommy finds your Daddy irresistible."

Kate rolled her eyes as she laughed. "Just cut the tree down so we can get out of this cold. I don't want her catching a chill."

"She's fine," Castle asserted, wiggling his fingers in front of their giggling baby. "I'm actually jealous. She's snug up against your chest."

"Easy there, tiger," Kate warned, putting her hands over Lily's ears.

"What!?" Castle hooted in dismay. "I didn't say anything, besides, you started it by calling me 'hot'… which I am!"

"You done?" she asked, when he finished.

He bobbed his head.

"Right," Kate said in an authoritative voice. "Now, get down on your knees and cut down this tree."

"You just wanna stare at my ass," Castle declared as he stepped around her and towards the tree.

Lily giggled, as if agreeing with her Daddy's statement. Kate pressed her lips together and declined to answer. Castle hammed it up for his daughter as he got down on his hands and knees and stretched out under the tree, while exaggeratedly sticking his butt up in the air and wiggling it.

Kate wrapped her arms around Lily, hugging her tightly to her chest, as her pursed lips quirked up into a tiny smirk as her eyes dropped to the spectacle. And then she dipped her head down to her daughter's ear and confessed in a whisper.

"He's not wrong."