A/N: Thank you to the the guest who pointed out that pregnant women should not eat sushi; I did not know that, as I don't ever eat it even when I'm not pregnant. Cheers, and folks, always ask your ob/gyn!
"Tell me," Kate panted into her phone. "What happened?"
"Never mind about that," said Castle on the other end. "How far along is it?"
"Still only about fifteen minutes, between contractions," she said. "Five minutes from the hospital. Ryan's using lights and sirens. What happened?"
"He's dead," Castle said shortly. "Shot by at least three different weapons, as far as anyone can tell. Esposito's at the scene, along with LT, Perlmutter, and Bruce. And a fleet of cars from the FBI, CIA, NYPD, and God only knows who else. Probably TMZ. I don't have lights and sirens, Beckett - I'll get there as soon as I can."
"I'll try to hold out until you get here," she told him. "But Baby Beckett might have other plans."
"Jenny's waiting for us there," said Ryan as Kate ended the call. "Best labor coach you could have. Better than Castle, I'm guessing."
"I'm sure she is," said Kate, shifting continually in her seat. Between contractions, she was still in great discomfort. She wished there was something she could *do*. "Before I go completely into birth mode - thank you and Jenny, so much, for being my backup."
"I can't believe he isn't here," Ryan said. "After all that."
"Of all the dumb luck," Kate agreed, then stopped.
"Dumb luck," she repeated slowly. "You don't suppose Castle went there just to draw his fire - do you?"
"He would, to keep you from doing it." Ryan hit the brakes, then accelerated again as he swung around a one-way corner. "Or just to get it done before the baby came."
"Idiot," said Kate. "Not you, Kev. Castle. He's an idiot. When I get my hands on him - "
Ryan grinned. "God help him. I hope the baby comes soon, just to distract you and give Castle a chance to duck."
Kate glared at her friend, who snickered, and steeled herself for another wave of pain.
Castle knew exactly where the labor and delivery ward was, and he tried not to mow anyone down as he strode through the halls like a homing pigeon to its nest. He slowed at the nurses' station, but even as he opened his mouth to speak, the nurse on duty pointed to a side hallway and said, "Labor and Delivery Four, Mr. Castle."
He flashed the nurse a grin and scooted in that direction, ducking through the doorway and halting just inside. He knew better than to annoy the medical personnel present at the birth of his child - or the woman currently working to accomplish it.
"Castle," he heard Kate gasp. Every head in the room turned, including Jenny Ryan's; she stood at Kate's head, looking excited and happy. She gestured for Castle to come take her place.
Someone was encouraging Kate to breathe, breathe, counting to ten, as Castle gave Jenny a hug and moved to lean over his wife.
"Hey," he said. "What can I do?"
Kate shook her head, momentarily unable to speak, and when she could she said, "Stand there looking handsome, babe. God, I'm so glad you made it. Remind me to tell you you're an idiot."
Castle frowned. "Um...okay. Whatever you want, Mommy."
It took longer than he thought it would, but the doctor didn't seem disturbed by the slow progress. Kate held Castle's hand most of the time as he wiped her face and told her about the LokSat takedown.
Kate told him why she thought he'd been an idiot and he actually brightened a bit.
"That's a great story," he said thoughtfully. When Kate glared at him, he added quickly, "Not for me, though. Seriously, I didn't do it on purpose, Kate. I wouldn't run the risk of missing out on our new family. Geez, low opinion of me much?"
"Castle," she began, but he was saved her half-hearted tongue-lashing by the onset of another contraction. This time Kate let go of his hand and grabbed a handful of the front of his shirt.
"Better than - breaking - your hand - " she panted.
"You're not gonna yell at me for putting you through this?" Castle asked, only half teasing. "Swear you'll never let me near you again?"
"Takes two, Castle. - And you better come near me. Again and again. For as long as we both shall - "
"Push, Kate, time to push. Count - " said the nurse.
"Again and again," Castle promised. "As soon as medically permitted. Come on, Kate, God, you're beautiful."
So was Baby Castle, once she made her appearance shortly thereafter. She was weighed and measured and wiped and wrapped up and handed to her mother, who looked up at Castle with tears in her eyes.
"Oh, my God," she whispered. "You were right, Rick. That love you told me about."*
Castle nodded, rather teary himself. "Lightning, right? There's nothing like it. Even the way I feel about you - it's a different kind of love."
He leaned down to kiss her, then kissed his daughter and murmured, "Welcome home, Becca."
*That love is mentioned by Castle in season 5 during "Hunt":
"You know, I still remember … when Alexis was born they handed me this tiny person, all bundled up. She just … stared up at me. And when I looked down at her, this feeling hit me. Like I'd been struck by lightning. It was love. That instant, inexplicable love you can only feel for your child."