The Extraordinary Ones
He was in the middle of writing a chapter when he heard the shout, his neck practically snapping as he turned to find a woman crouched on the ground just a few feet from him, her face a mask of pain, her hands planted on her swollen pregnant belly, and a small pool of water around her feet. Immediately, he was at her side, placing one hand on the small of her back and holding her hand with the other, letting her squeeze through the pain.
She didn't seem to question why this strange man had approached her at this god-awful painful time. Instead, she listed into him, pressing her face into the collar of his shirt, tears seeping through the cotton as she practically crushed his fingers with her bare hand. He didn't mind, though. He'd been through this before.
When the contraction passed, he helped her to her feet and instructed her to breathe evenly, guiding her to his table as an employee came out to ask if they needed an ambulance. He waved them away; his driver was already outside to take them to the hospital. Quickly, he closed his laptop and placed it in the messenger bag now slung around his shoulders, then guided her out to his waiting town car.
"My name's Rick, by the way," he said as he helped her into the back of the car. "Rick Castle. Do you have any hospital preferences, Miss…"
"Beckett," the woman breathed, leaning back in her seat. "Kate Beckett. And no. Whatever's closest, honestly." She gritted her teeth as another contraction hit her and grabbed at his hand. Castle gave her the left one and allowed her to lean into him again, checking the watch on his opposite wrist.
"Damn," he said, "these contractions are coming fast. How long have you had them?"
"Three hours," Kate informed him. "I thought they were Braxton-Hicks again. They started off at twenty minutes apart. I called my friend—she's a doctor AGH!" She squeezed his hand impossibly tight and Castle held back a yelp. "Sorry," Kate breathed. "She t-told me to wait and see if they got any closer together. They didn't for the longest time, so I thought it was s-safe to grab a coffee or something." She closed her eyes tight and took a stuttering breath as the pain ebbed away. "This kid is five days late as it is."
"First baby?" Castle asked, absently running his hand through her chestnut locks. It seemed to soothe her.
Kate nodded. "Yeah. Probably the only kid I'll have, too."
"You'll forget the pain when it's all over," Castle chuckled. "Less than an hour after she had our daughter, my ex-wife was already planning on having a second child."
"We divorced when Alexis was three," he said, shrugging.
"Sorry to hear that."
"It's probably for the better, honestly. Alexis is happy and not getting into drugs or anything. I mean, she's only six, but I don't think I have anything to worry about."
Kate chuckled. "Please tell me she wasn't at the café with you."
"No, she's with her grandmother; my mother. They're having a spa day or something like that. She'll probably come home with Hello Kitty painted on her nails."
Kate smiled a bit serenely. "Sounds cute."
"I'm sure your kid will be, too," he told her. "Do you know what you're having?"
Kate shook her head. "It never cooperated at sonograms, so I'm getting a surprise. I just hope it doesn't look like its father."
She groaned, pressing her face to his neck. "Divorce," she revealed. "After a week of marriage. He gambled away half of my savings before I filed and cut him off. I found out I was pregnant three weeks later and tried to call him, but his phone was shut up. Probably couldn't pay his bills." She took a deep breath. "It's better this way, though. It doesn't need that kind of instability in its life. It's bad enough that I'm training to be a cop."
"You are?" Castle gasped, sounding like a little boy. "That's so cool. At least your kid will have a badass mommy."
She snorted, then gasped in pain. "Some badass," she grunted. "I can't even handle a few contractions."
Castle snorted. "Please," he said. "If you kicked me in the balls repeatedly, do you really think I wouldn't be rolling on the floor? You're doing just fine. Besides, we're almost there. If you really want to, you could get an epidural."
Kate shook her head. "No way," she said. "My mother didn't get one with me and I'm not about to get one with this kid. I can handle the pain." Another contraction hit her and she practically bit him, a groan ripping from her chest.
"You sure?" Castle grunted when she tightened her death grip on his hand.
"Yes," she gritted out. "I can do this."
He nodded and pressed an impulsive kiss to her hairline, looking out the window and breathing a sigh of relief as they pulled up to Mt. Sinai's emergency room. His driver, Ernie, honked and almost immediately two scrub-clad orderlies ran out with a wheelchair. Ernie opened the door for them and helped Castle move Kate from the car into the chair, still moaning and groaning in pain. She didn't let go of his hand and so he stayed right at her side, talking her through the pain.
"Name?" a nurse asked as they entered the hospital.
"Kate Beckett," he answered for her, as she was still too much in pain to speak.
"Your name, sir?" the nurse asked, looking down at the clipboard in her hands.
"Rick Castle," he said, wondering why it mattered.
"And is this your first child?"
"No. I mean, yes. I mean…it's her first child." He tried his best to explain the situation to the obviously overworked nurse, but she just blinked tired at him while Kate continued to squeeze the life out of his hand.
"Whatever," she sighed, finally. "Will you be in the delivery room with Miss Beckett when she gives birth?"
At that, he turned a shade of red so deep that he looked something akin to a firetruck. "Uh…" he said, looking down at Kate, who didn't seem too eager to let go of his hand anytime soon. Her eyes pleaded with him, begging him without words to say yes—to not leave her alone in this. He took a deep breath and nodded to the nurse. "Yes," he said. "Yes, I'll be there with her."
The nurse nodded. "Okay," she said, turning to another. "Get him some scrubs, please. Elliot," she addressed the male nurse holding onto the back of Kate's wheelchair. "Please take Miss Beckett and Mr. Castle up to the maternity ward. Room 447 should be open by now." Elliot the nurse nodded and motioned for Castle to follow as he began wheeling Kate down the hall to the elevator. Castle thought it ironic that the man thought he even had a choice with the way Kate was clutching his hand.
They gave him a pair of blue scrubs, a cap, and a mask and pointed him towards the bathroom, where he changed and then he practically sprinted back to room 447, where they'd changed Kate into a hospital gown and set her up in stirrups. She gave him a pained smile, not embarrassed in the least.
"You know," she said, pain lacing her voice, "I don't usually put my legs up like this on the first date." Castle let out a surprised laugh as he wrapped his hand around hers.
"So this is a date, then?" he asked, wiggling his brows at her.
"Well, you're about to watch me give birth to a baby," she said. "I don't know how we could get closer than that."
"Maybe if it's my child next time," he teased, then immediately clamped his lips shut when her eyes widened. They were silent for a long moment, then she gave him another smirk.
"We'll talk," she said. "Preferably when the first one isn't currently trying to rip my insides apart."
"It'll be worth it," Castle assured her. "Trust me. When you hold that baby in your arms…" He took a deep, serene breath. "There's no better feeling in the world."
"I can't wait," she gritted out. "Literally. Get this kid out of me now."
"Let's see what we can do, Miss Beckett," a voice said from the doorway. Both Kate and Rick turned to see a tall, black woman with curly hair tied into a ponytail on her head, and dressed in salmon-colored scrubs. "Hello," she greeted, holding out her hand to Castle. "I'm Dr. Ella Warner. Nice to meet you, Mr. Beckett?"
"Castle," he replied. "Uh, Rick. Rick Castle."
"Oh, the writer," Dr. Warner said with a grin. "I love your Derrick Storm novels."
"Thank you," Castle said. "Always nice to meet a fan."
"You can sign her book later, Castle," Kate grunted. "First let's see what we can do about the thing about to crawl through my legs." Castle closed his eyes tight and wrinkled his nose. "Oh, grow up. I thought you did this before."
"Yes, but I've never heard it described so…horror movie-ish." He shuddered. "It's like you're about to give birth to the Grudge."
Kate rolled her eyes and Dr. Warner chuckled. "You two are hilarious," she said. "How long you been together?"
Both Kate and Rick blinked at her, then shared a look. Then back to her.
"Long enough," Kate answered, vaguely. "But he's not the man that impregnated me, if that's what you're asking."
"It wasn't, but okay," Dr. Warner said, taking a seat by Kate's feet. "I understand that you aren't a regular patient here, Miss Beckett. Do you have a preference in who delivers your baby? Possibly and obstetrician you'd like to call?"
"Not really." Kate shrugged. "I've been to a few doctors for sonograms and regular check-ups, but the only regular one I've had is Dr. Parish, but she is definitely not an obstetrician."
"Would you like us to call her, anyway? See if she can stop by to check on you after the baby is born, in case you want a second opinion?"
"If you don't call her, then she'll probably kill me," Kate mused. "She's also my best friend and has graciously volunteered to be my baby's godmother."
Castle chuckled. "She sounds like a handful."
"You don't know the half of it," Kate sighed, then looked to Dr. Warner. "How's it looking, Doc? Is this kid ready to be born yet?"
Dr. Warner looked under the sheet covering Kate's legs. "You're at about nine centimeters," she said. "One more and you can start to push. Shouldn't take longer than half an hour. Hopefully."
"Hopefully?" Kate moaned. "I don't know how much more hope I can take." Castle patted her hand and brought it to his lips. Kate gave him a weak smile.
Dr. Warner smiled at the two of them as she stood. "I would offer to give you an epidural, but you're already too far along for it to kick in."
"She wants a natural birth, anyway," Castle informed the doc.
"I'm starting to rethink it, actually," Kate groaned as another contraction hit her. She grit her teeth and squeezed Castle's hand, which made him mirror her. Dr. Warner watched them in amusement.
It took three hours for Johanna Houghton to make her debut to the world, but when she did, Castle felt as if all the breath had been taken from his lungs. He had stuck by Kate's side for the entire time, getting the life squeezed out of his hand while he helped her breathe through the pain and fed her ice chips too cool her down. He had pressed his forehead to hers at one point, when she was close to giving up. He'd kissed her for the first time, whispering sweet encouragements against her lips, stroked her sweaty cheek and pushed her hair away from her face. He told her how strong she was, how extraordinary and amazing and every synonym he could think of, thereafter.
At one point, she had gotten violent and started screaming at him in her anger. He told her that it was okay. That she could pretend he was Rogan, her ex. At that, her eyes had widened and she'd shaken her head, pulling him closer, pressing her lips to his again.
"I don't want him here," she's whispered. "Just you. I just want you." He'd been close to blubbering at that point, but he held back and kissed her.
"I'm right here, Kate," he'd said. "I'm not going anywhere."
After that, it had been mostly smooth-sailing. Sure, it still hurt like hell—and he was pretty sure she'd broken more than one of his fingers—but soon he heard the cries and felt his heart leap at the sound, standing up straight as Dr. Warner lifted the baby girl, showing her off to Kate and Rick. She smiled at him.
"Would you like to cut the cord, Mr. Castle?" she asked. His eyes widened as he looked down at Kate. She gave him a soft smile and nodded, squeezing his hand. He smudged a kiss to her forehead, before he let go and took the scissors from the doctor. They held the umbilical cord and, for the second time in his thirty years, Rick cut it, feeling just as proud as when Alexis had been born. He turned to give Kate a radiant smile and she gave him one in return, looking gorgeous even as worn out as she was.
Then they handed her the baby and she practically glowed, pressing a kiss to one of her soft, downy cheeks, tears leaking from her eyes. The baby had big, almost-black eyes and a tuft of reddish-brown hair, a little button nose and rosy cheeks. Her lips were pink as rose petals and her newborn skin was a peach-like shade. She was so beautiful; just like her mother. Castle pressed a kiss to her head and then one to her mother's. Kate turned her face up to peck his lips and he smiled against hers.
"Would you like to hold her?" she asked, on a whisper. His eyes widened and he nodded, mutely, reaching out to take the baby, supporting her head as he brought her to his chest, rocking slightly. The baby snuffled and curled into him, letting out a tiny sigh as she settled. Castle felt himself melt and gave Kate a dopey grin. She snorted, shaking her head.
"You're already wrapped around her little finger, huh?" she asked.
He scoffed. "That ship sailed about four hours ago, Beckett," he said. "This baby could ask me to murder somebody and I wouldn't even hesitate."
"Devious little thing," she murmured. "And only two minutes old."
"Did you expect anything less?" he joked, looking down at the wrinkly creature cradled in the crook of his arm. "What are you going to name her, anyway?"
"Johanna Houghton," Kate replied. "After my mother." She didn't elaborate, but Castle could tell from the tone of her voice and the look in her eyes that the name was in memoriam. He nodded.
"It's a good name. We can call her Joey for short."
"So you're going to stick around then?" Kate asked, almost sounding surprised.
"Of course," Rick said, smiling at her, though his eyes were dead serious. "I stuck through her birth, let you practically break my hand—which is my career, by the way—and now I'm ready to commit murder for her. I'm invested, Kate; there's no getting rid of me now." Kate's eyes searched his gaze and found no sign of wavering there. She smiled, happily, her entire body aglow.
"Do you think Alexis will mind having another baby around?" she asked, resting her cheek against her pillow as she felt sleep begin to pull her under.
"Are you kidding?" Castle laughed. "She's been begging me for a little sibling since she could talk. She'll absolutely adore Joey."
Kate could only smile as she drifted off, the word sibling bouncing around in her mind.
When she awoke, two hours later, Castle was snoring in the chair next to her, his hand encasing hers in its warmth. Joey was nowhere to be found and she sat up, ignoring the dull ache in her lower abdomen. A nurse, who was checking her vitals, placed a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, hey," she said, soothingly. "It's alright. They just took your baby to the nursery to have her check-up and rest for a while. She'll be back soon."
"H-how is she? Is she…is she healthy?"
"Perfect in every way," the nurse said. "She weighs an even six pounds and is about 20 inches. No problems with her eyesight or hearing to be found. Relax, sweetheart. Everything is fine. All you have to worry about now is signing the birth certificate. Would you like to do that now?"
Kate looked at Castle and smirked at him. She'd known this man for less than a day and already he'd been through one of the toughest experiences with her, never abandoning her like her deadbeat ex-husband, who was now a deadbeat dad. For the first time, she had hope that somebody wouldn't abandon her, no matter how ridiculous it was.
"Yes, please," she said. The nurse smiled and left. Kate shook Rick's hand and he startled away.
"What?" he asked. "Is something wrong with Joey?"
"No, no," Kate murmured, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "She's fine. They brought her to the nursery for a check-up. She's perfectly healthy."
Castle sighed in relief, a soft smile coming to his face. "That's good," he said. "So then what's up?"
"The nurse is about to bring the birth certificate in for me to sign and I was just wondering…" She trailed off, biting her lip.
"What is it, Kate?" he asked, his voice soft, his eyes searching hers. She took a deep breath.
"I told myself a long time ago that I wasn't going to put Rogan's name on the certificate; that I would just leave that part blank. I don't want anything from him. I don't think he'd be able to give us any support, anyway." She rolled her eyes. "And I know that we've only known each other for a couple of hours, and it's crazy to even suggest this, but I just…" Again, she trailed off, looking down at her lap with hot cheeks.
Castle squeezed her hand. "Kate." She looked up at him. "Are you asking me to be Joey's father?"
She nodded, her face becoming even redder. "I know it's insane," she said. "We barely know each other, but you've already given my kid a nickname and you've held her and you cut the freaking cord, you know? And…and I know I might be reading into things a little, but we kissed—more than once—and you said that you weren't going anywhere, but I don't know if you meant just right now, while I'm in the hospital, or at all. And I don't want to get attached to anybody right now, because pretty much everybody that I do get attached to ends up leaving me and I—"
Castle's lips on hers stopped Kate short and she sighed into his mouth, sinking into his embrace as he wrapped his arm around her waist. When he pulled back, his blue eyes were twinkling, searching hers. "I swear to you," he said, seriously. "I will not leave. No matter what happens between us. If we break up tomorrow, then I will still be in her life. I will be there to help you raise Joey as if she were my own flesh and blood, because I love her so damn much already. I don't think there's any way I could leave either of you." He took a deep breath. "Especially since I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you the second I met you."
Kate snorted slightly. "You make a habit of falling in love with women going into labor?" she asked, teasingly.
Castle grinned. "Only the extraordinary ones."
Kate pressed a firm kiss to his lips, her fingers curling around his ear. When she pulled back, she was biting her lip. "Well then," she said, "you should probably tell Alexis that she got that baby sister she always wanted."
He beamed at her, pecking her lips once more before pulling away, just as the nurse walked back in with a freshly printed certificate and a pen. "Here you are," she said, handing it to Kate on a clipboard. "Go ahead and fill this out and we'll have it stamped and filed right away."
"Thank you," Kate said, giving her a warm smile. She smoothed out the paper on the board, noticing that weight, height, and all the other important parts had been filled out, except for her—their baby's name and her parents' names. In careful print, Kate spelled out 'Johanna Houghton Beckett-Castle' and felt her…boyfriend(?) nudge her ear with his lips. Then she printed and signed her name under Mother and handed him the paper.
Castle did the same, feeling his heart leap around his chest. This was crazy—he knew it was—but it just felt…right. He knew that he'd have a lot of explaining to do to not only his mother and daughter, but also his publicist, who would have to explain where his new child came from, as well as the new woman in his life. He didn't care, though; not when she was looking at him like that.
Castle pressed another kiss to Kate's lips as he placed the pen down, handing the clipboard to the nurse, who simply smiled at them and carried it out of the room, leaving them in their peaceful happiness.
"Dada!" Joey exclaimed, toddling towards him. Castle reached down for her, scooping his one-year-old daughter off the floor and pressing a big, wet kiss to her cheek. The girl squealed in delight, her chestnut curls bouncing in her mirth. He laughed as well, settling on his hip just as his eldest child came running down the aisle at him, dressed dapperly in a little tux. His "Best Man" had purple ribbons in her hair that matched her sister's and she jumped into his free arm just the same. Castle let out a grunt as he settled her on his other hip and pressed a kiss to her cheek.
"You ready, Daddy?" Alexis asked, pressing her cheek to his shoulder.
It had been a wild eighteen months since the day Castle had held a stranger's hand as she gave birth to the girl currently sucking her thumb in his left arm. Introducing Kate and Joey to his mother and daughter hadn't been as awkward as he thought it would be, but he'd had to answer a lot of questions about where they came from. It had been a long night, but Alexis had readily accepted her role of big sister and embraced Kate—literally—with both arms. The two became thick as thieves in no time and even started ganging up on him when it came time for feeding Joey or giving her baths—which she detested. They were one big happy family within the month.
His mother had barely questioned it (in front of Alexis, at least; she definitely wanted the whole story when the girl had gone to bed). She had cooed and coddled little Joey just the same as she had done for Alexis and before the week was up, they had a playpen full of toys and new clothes and an on-call babysitter for 'date nights'. Kate, still a little hormonal after giving birth, had practically burst into tears upon being so accepted into this tightknit little family. Castle had spent nearly an hour calming her down while Martha and Alexis cooed over their new family member.
The living situation was awkward for a while. Kate had insisted that, since she and Castle had really only just met, she and Joey live in her apartment until they started really dating, but her lease ran up six months after the baby was born and she decided against renewing it (especially since she was spending most of her time at Castle's loft, anyway) and moved in. He'd proposed before Joey turned one.
And now here they were, at a private wedding ceremony. He was standing at the end of the aisle with two of his girls, while the third got ready to walk down the aisle. They were in the backyard of his Hamptons beach house, the ocean at their backs, the sun about ready to descend over the horizon. A few feet away stood their reverend, who held a bible in his hands. There were about a dozen chairs scattered about the lawn; her side was mostly friends, like Lanie, the doctor, and two of the guys she'd met at the Academy, where she was training to be a cop. An old high school friend who'd offered to cater the event for free so long as she got to hold their baby, who just adored her. And a spot left open for the woman who couldn't be there to see this.
On his side, there was his mother, who already held a handkerchief to her nose, a few writer friends of his, and his publicist, who was instructing the lone photographer to get a good picture of their first kiss as husband and wife for the press. (She'd originally wanted a whole spread, but he bartered down to one, so long as she also got a family photo.)
The press had had a field day when they caught him walking, hand in hand, with Kate and Alexis, Joey strapped to his chest, her face obscured by the bucket hat she wore. The headlines had read, "Playboy Turned to Play Toy? Who is Richard Castle's new baby friend?" They'd held out a month before Paula pushed them into a press conference, where he explained that he'd recently become a father to his girlfriend's baby…and said nothing else, allowing them to come to their own conclusions. His image had dramatically changed after that, but luckily he hadn't lost many readers. His books still topped the charts.
"Is Kate ready?" he asked. Alexis nodded, smiling brightly, showing off the two missing front teeth that Kate had shown her how to pull with a piece of dental floss and a door when they refused to come out.
"She's so pretty, Daddy," she sighed, her blue eyes dreamy. "She looks just like a princess."
"Pwinceth!" Joey agreed, smiling brightly.
"I can't wait to see her," he said, crouching to place them both back on the floor. "You ready to be my Best Man, pumpkin?"
"Yeah!" Alexis exclaimed, hopping a little in her ballet flats. The spring breeze fluttered through her pigtails. Castle grinned, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"What about you, Jojo?" he asked the tot. "Ready to be Mommy's Maid of Honor?" Lanie had initially been perturbed to find out that Kate had chosen a baby over her, but hadn't been able to stay angry at that face for very long. Especially since she was the one who got to walk down the aisle with the baby holding her hand. She absolutely adored her goddaughter.
"Mama?" Joey asked, looking around.
"You'll see her in a minute, Jo," Castle laughed, pressing a kiss to her cheek. He looked up to see Lanie walking towards them, pointing at her wrist, and stood up. "Already?" he asked her. She nodded and he took a deep breath, smiling at his girls. "You ready to be a family?" he asked.
"We're already a family," Alexis reminded him.
"True," Castle chuckled, then looked down at Joey. "Go with Auntie Lanie, sweetheart. She'll bring you back to Mommy."
"Mama!" Joey exclaimed, clapping her hands. Lanie chuckled and grabbed her hand.
"We'll see you two soon," she said, winking at Rick.
He smiled back at her, before leading Alexis to stand in their correct spots. It wasn't long before the music started and his heart sped up. He took a deep breath before turning around, his eyes filling with tears as all the breath left his lungs for the third time in his life.
Lanie and Joey were a little bit ahead of her, but he could see Kate clearly, wearing her mother's old wedding dress as she held onto her father's arm. Jim Beckett, now one year sober, still looked a bit worn, but he was beaming almost as much as his daughter, who emanated an ethereal glow. Her smile was wide and happy, her gaze fixed on him, jade green eyes—which matched their daughter's—sparkling in the sun. Instead of a veil—which they had nixed from the beginning—she wore flowers in her hair, like a crown. Her bouquet was different shades of purple and white, clutched in her hand, and her skin had a healthy glow to it; likely due to the week they'd spent relaxing in the warm May sun before the wedding.
She was everything he'd ever hoped for and dreamed about; his always. She had joked once that, when she was a teenager, she always called herself a 'one and done' kind of girl, but she'd never imagined that her second husband would be her actual soul mate. He had kissed her then and said something mushy about the second time being the real charm—for both of them. Two was their lucky number; they even had two perfect little girls.
And now she was walking towards him, looking like a goddess, practically floating down the aisle, her steps were so light; ready to pledge her love and life to being his wife. How on earth did he get so lucky?
As she reached the end of the aisle and gave her bouquet to Lanie (it was about as big as Joey) and kissed her father's cheek, Kate gave Castle a look that send his mind whirring again, though only one word came to mind.
This was meant to be a oneshot to get me out of my writing slump, but it ended up being a lot longer. It's still just a oneshot, though. No possibility of continuation. For the rest of the week, I will be working on my Senior Project (I'm about to graduate college, ya'll! I'm terrified!) so my writing will be even scarcer than usual. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!
P.S. Please don't message or review about my other stories. I will finish them; just not right now.