Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue.
AN: This show and fandom has given me a lot over the years and I've been much more emotional about its ending than I anticipated I would be. I need to write it out so this happened. It was cathartic for me to write so I hope you enjoy reading it.
I think we deserve
a soft epilogue, my love.
We are good people
and we've suffered enough.
~Seventy Years of Sleep #4, nikka ursula
White hot pain licks up her side, stealing her breath and vision. She blinks against it, desperate to see. To find him, to look. To drink in his forehead and his cheeks, the slope of his nose and the cut of his chin. The eyes he used to pierce her soul, the mouth he used to heal her scars.
Because if she is going, he is the last thing she wants to see.
The only thing.
Legs, arms, torso. Everything numb. She can't move, can't feel. Her fingers clutch at the empty air, reaching for nothing. For something. Anything.
"Stay calm, honey," a strange voice rasps from... somewhere. "We're taking good care of you." Hard plastic covers her nose and mouth, sickly sweet air filling her lungs. Fog rolls in. "Just sleep, darling. We'll wake you up when it's over."
They can't. She doesn't want them to. Not if it means waking up in a world without him.
Hands - too small and too cool to be the ones she needs - hold hers, fingertips swirling patterns over her dry skin. Rick always had warm hands. Big and warm. She'd tease him about it, how his hands could cook eggs if he held them long enough.
'You know what they say, Beckett. Warm hands, warm heart.'
'It's cold hands warm heart,' she tossed back, pressing her own cool fingers against his skin, dipping into the waist of his jeans.
'Warm hands, warmer heart, then.'
'You can't just make up sayings, Castle.'
'Sure, I can,' he grinned, palming her backside to pull her closer. 'I'm a writer. It's what we do.'
Harsh white light assaults her retinas when she blinks. The heart monitor beeps, a lonely soloist playing a piece written for two. The hands squeeze and she turns her head, finds the sallow face of her father looking back at her.
Knives stab at her throat when she swallows. He tries to give her ice but she refuses, welcomes the pain. It's what she deserves.
"He's dead, isn't he?" She can feel it. The empty place where he used to be. "Rick. He's dead."
The tears come then, hot and fast, burning trails over her cheeks and pooling on the pillow. Her dad stands, the bed railing pressing into his hips as he leans over her, ready to drop the final blow. She flinches away from the hand he tries to brush over her head. She doesn't deserve his comfort, his sympathy. Not now. Not ever. Not when she's the reason her husband is dead.
"He's not dead, Katie." Two fingers grip her chin, forcing her to turn and look. To listen. "He's not dead. Rick is alive."
Not dead. Not dead.
Sunlight spills through the spaces between the buildings, catching at the veins of impurities in the marble pillars. She walks with her head held high, her low heels clattering against the steps as she descends. Reporters shout questions at her, but she ignores them, her attention focused on one man.
The Chief turns, his thin lips set in a frown. "You're sure I can't talk you out of this?"
"No, sir," she says, holding out the envelope.
"You're a damn fine police captain, Beckett," he says, taking her letter of resignation with a reluctant hand. "This is a loss to the department and the city."
"Thank you, sir," she says, accepting the compliment with a grace she doesn't quite feel. Not yet.
"What are you going to do with yourself now?"
She looks down the block, sees her husband standing next to their town car, his skin still too pale from the weeks spent in the hospital.
"I'm going to live."
Sweat drips off the tip of her nose as she wails. She's being torn apart, her body ripped in half from the inside out. Nurses scuttle around the room, handing each other towels and medical implements in a never ending game of hot potato.
"One more push, Kate." His voice, strong and smooth, pours down the side of her neck. She collapses into him, back sinking into the wide, hard wall of his chest. "One more push and she's here. You're doing so good."
Soft lips flutter against her temple and she leans into it, eyes closed. "I'm tired."
"I know, baby. I know. But just one more big push is all you have to do. You can do this."
The back of her head rolls against his shoulder and she looks up at him. "I can't," she breathes, ashamed of her failure, of letting him down yet again. "I can't do it, Rick."
His lips taste like tic-tacs and coffee when he kisses her. "You survived two gunshot wounds and countless other attempts on your life. You can bring our daughter into the world."
The doctor presses a thumb into her ankle to draw her attention. "Okay, Kate. This is it. One more big push and you're done."
"I can't wait to meet her, Kate. Can you?"
Her head rolls from side to side and he brushes the matted hair off her forehead.
He kisses her again when she nods.
She leans forward and he goes with her, supporting her body as she bears down. The world shifts out of phase as the doctor counts back from ten. White lights spark behind her eyes and she screams.
"And she's out!"
The doctor holds the baby up, screaming and red faced. She feels her heart stutter, spasming erratically against her ribs. Her lungs seize.
"Lily," she exhales.
And then everything goes black.
Moonlight seeps in through the blinds, casting long shadows over the hardwood floor. She sits in the glider, slowing sliding back and forth with just the flex of her toes. She can hear the tide rolling in, tiny waves breaking against the pillars at the end of the deck.
"Read 'nother one, Daddy."
Lily's tinkling voice floats over the monitor and she can't fight the smile that tugs at her lips. Her daughter shines light on even her darkest of places.
"You know the rule, Lillypad," Rick says, his voice scratchy from a week of daily readings for his new children's book series. "Little girls who go to time out at preschool don't get two books at bedtime."
"But Daddy," Lily whines and she can just image the inch of bottom lip that must be poking out. "I went to time out for a good reason."
"You hit Samantha with a baby doll. That's not a good reason."
"It is," Lily insists, more stubborn than both her parents combined. "She said that the new babies won't be my real brothers because Mommy isn't growing them in her tummy."
A tear leaks from the corner of her eye and she wraps her arms around her flat stomach. A boat crosses the horizon and she watches it go, the bow slicing neatly through the still water.
"You know that's not true," Rick says, his voice gentle yet firm. "The babies are your brothers no matter whose tummy they grow in."
"I know," Lily retorts, her tone the four year old version of an eye roll. "That's what I told Samantha when I hit her."
A chuckle forces it's way up her throat, muscling the last of her tears out of the way. The glider comes to a stop and she pushes herself out of it. Humid air makes her feet stick against the floor as she pads out of the nursery and head for her daughter and husband.
She grab's Lily's favorite nursery rhyme book off the bookshelf as she passes.
Rules are made to be broken.
The thin gown does nothing to ward off the chill of the delivery room. She stands at the foot of the bed, her entire body a live wire. Rick paces behind her, the tail of his own gown fluttering around his knees.
"Okay, I can see the head," the doctor announces. "Three more big pushes and we should have baby number one, folks. You ready, Rebecca?"
Rebecca nods from the bed, her round face red and slick with sweat. Her mother sits at her side, holding her hand and whispering soft prayers.
"You ready, Mom and Dad?" one of the nurses asks, looking at them over her mask.
She nods, hands clenched into tight fists at her side. She's more than ready. Two years of waiting and nine months of surrogacy have left her desperate. She needs her sons. Now.
A deep bellow fills the room as Rebecca bears down, her body folding almost in half with the effort. Time stands still as she watches her first son enter the world, his head covered in dark brown hair and little fists flailing.
Her gown falls away and she stands topless in the middle of the delivery room, arms extended. With a soft smile, the nurse hands her the baby. She cradles his slick little body to her chest, her knees turning to water. Rick presses up against her back and she sinks into him, lets his body bear her weight as they wait for Reece to join his brother.
To make their family complete.
The detritus of their breakfast liters the table. Dried bits of scrambled egg, greasy muffin wrappers, a piece of peanut butter toast with a single toddler sized bite taken out of one side. She sips at her lukewarm coffee, smiling against the rim as she watches Lily give Reece a piggyback ride around the living room.
"Be careful, Lilypad," Rick calls from the kitchen, a dishtowel over one shoulder.
"They're fine." Uncrossing her legs, she uses one foot to push on the arm of his abandoned chair, scooting it out from the table. "Come sit with me."
"The dishes -"
"Can wait," she cuts in. "Come sit with me," she repeats, beckoning him over with the waggle of one finger.
"You know I'm powerless to resist you, even after all these years," Rick says, circling the island and coming back to the table.
Her fingers hook into the pocket of his jeans as he passes, tugging him to a stop. Her chin tilts up and he meets her halfway, pressing a long, slow kiss to her parted lips. A sigh passes between them and she's not sure who it belongs to.
Rick plops down in his chair, one hand resting on her knee as they watch the kids play. Mid-morning sun pours through the windows, casting the loft in a warm amber glow. Jake breaks away from his siblings and runs over, arms held high. She scoops him up into her lap, lets him snuggle up against her chest, his favorite position.
He looks up at her with sleepy eyes, thumb gravitating toward his mouth. "Love you, Mama."
Heart melting, she presses a soft kiss to the top of his head. Rick's hand flexes around her knee and she catches his eye.
"I love you too," she says.
"You promise?" Jake mumbles, his father mouthing along with him, a smile dancing across his lips.
"I do, baby," Kate says, fingers curling around her husband's. "Always."
Thank you for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.