Disclaimer: I do not own Castle or the recognizable characters who appear in this story. Any other names, for characters or businesses, are fictional, uncompensated, or are in the public domain.
"Lanie? It's Rick," Castle introduces himself early the next morning, trying not to sound panicked when his friend finally answers her phone.
"Castle?" Lanie groans, fumbling with her phone. "It's, like, four hours since you left the Haunt and about two since I left the victory party. Is this how it's gonna be?" she grumbles as Castle hears more background noises that make him think she's sitting up in bed. "My best friend gets elected as leader of the free world as I don't get to sleep?"
"Sorry, Lanie," Castle apologizes tightly, "but we need you to come over. Please. There's a delivery guy on his way to your place now with coffee and donuts. Bring those with and anyone who sees you arrive will just figure you're here for a celebratory breakfast."
"Castle, what's wrong?" she asks, suddenly sounding more alert.
"Just hurry, Lanie," he answers in a low tone, clearly trying to put up a brave front. "Hide it in a bag or dump the donuts and use the box, but bring your medical kit, too. Please, hurry."
The Previous Night
"…That's right," the disgraced former member of outsider's party said almost gleefully, thrilling in her role as an independent expert, "The Beckett/Gates ticket virtually guaranteed that my candidate… sorry, the candidate of my former employer, will win the presidency."
"Lisa, I think you're talking about a relatively obscure point," her co-host said while trying not to look confused himself, "especially since they're leading the popular vote based on early returns. Why don't you explain to our viewers what you mean?"
"Unlike any elections in living memory, and probably longer," Lisa hedged, not having done her homework and needing to speak in generalities, "we have a situation where a third-party candidate is receiving significant votes. But here's the problem – the Constitution of the Unites States requires a majority. Assume that Beckett and Gates win a plurality but not the majority of the popular vote. And assume they do the same with the electoral votes. Do you know what happens then?" she asked, looking at her co-host rather than the camera.
"Why don't you tell the viewers at home what would happen in that circumstance," he dodges, flushing with embarrassment and anger at having been put on the spot.
"If that happens, then guess who elects the president?" Lisa asked, drawing out the suspense (and the co-host's discomfort). "The House of Representatives! The delegation from each state gets one vote," she described succinctly, gleefully. "And guess which party currently controls the House?"
"Is that right?" Hayley asked, setting her lager on the table and turning to face Beckett and Castle.
"Yes," Beckett confirmed. "It's hardly a new insight, but it's accurate."
"Mental," Hayley repeated her assessment of the US political system. "And these Housing people wouldn't vote for you?"
"Technically," Gates interjected, "they can vote for anyone. "So, the candidate with the lowest vote total in the popular election could end up as president. It's not a scenario anyone ever expected to happen, but then again, no one expected that a presidential candidate could win the popular vote but lose the electoral vote," she finished with a shrug.
"Really?" Hayley asked again, certain that her American friends were messing with her. "So if two candidates split everything but don't get more than half, then the tosser third guy could be your president?"
"In theory," Castle said in support of Gates' civics lesson. "There are some who think that'd cause a Constitutional crisis. But the House doesn't have to follow the popular vote, though each state delegation could choose to do so."
"I should've known, way back at the beginning," Beckett lamented as she chucked her husband on the shoulder, "that your crazy idea would lead to anarchy."
"Anarchy?" Esposito weighed in from his spot at the table. "This's been the best election ever! I actually voted this time," he said virtuously, holding his beer bottle aloft in salute before taking a large swig.
"More than once, I hope," Gates grumbled. "We could use the help."
"Who says I voted for you?" he answered with a smile that curdled as Gates turned her full attention on him.
"Voting for my opponent so I can get back to my oversight of your precinct," Gates asked, "and its budget?"
"Kidding," Esposito replied weakly while the others at the table enjoyed a laugh at his expense. "Just kidding. I didn't really vote."
That confession resulted in a round of boos and napkins aimed in his direction, but Beckett sat back and nodded at her old teammate, letting him know she didn't believe him but appreciated the diversion.
A cheer from the other side of the room went up and caught everyone's attention. One of the main networks projected a win for them in New York, a key electoral state and the home off all three candidates. As the cameras shifted in their direction, Beckett and Gates rose to meet them, leaving the table to make their statements and thank their supporters. The others at the table sent them off with waves and salutes, impressed by the way they both engaged with the media.
Beckett and Gates returned to the table ten minutes later, still holding up well but clearly fatigued.
"… so we're calling him Monica," Esposito laughed, "and LT told them that if he didn't learn to keep his mouth shut, we'd cram him into a blue dress."
Though she realized it would probably be best to pretend that she hadn't heard, Beckett couldn't help her response. "Demming?" she asked, surprising those around the table.
"Uh, maybe?" Esposito replied, trying to provide some cover. Well-versed at trying to dodge his wife's inquiries, Castle just shook his head at the rookie maneuver.
"Right. If we've dealt with Meredith's vocal claims, Tom's are no big deal," Beckett said as she came around to stand behind Castle.
"What?" he replied, surprised. "We're just talking about them now? I think I prefer the old way, when we just ignored our mistakes."
"It was easier to ignore them before they were so loud," Beckett replied with an exasperated grin, letting her hands fall on her husband's shoulders. "At least Gina and Josh have been quiet."
"Are you kidding?" Castle asked, incredulously. "Gina loves you. This campaign has made her truckloads of money on the sales of my books. She's just bent that I'm not writing now. She's fooled herself into thinking that I'm working on some political thriller, but we're not gonna bother to correct that notion for a while," he laughed.
"Okay," Beckett agreed. "And as for Josh, he might not even be in the country."
"Good," Castle couldn't help but reply, even after the years since he was around.
"And on that note," Beckett said as she looked up and around at everyone gathered around the table, "I'm going to borrow my husband. Back in a bit."
"Busted," Ryan said in a low voice as Castle rose from his chair, others at the table hearing the comment and giving a laugh.
Beckett led Castle to a corner booth, from which some tired staffers retreated to provide them a limited sense of privacy. Castle stopped next to the booth to wait for her to sit, but a flirty hip-check knocked him toward the banquette first. Smiling, she sat across from him with a perched brow.
"I know, I know," he said, looking contrite. "Josh is long gone. I just can't help myself sometimes…"
"Hey," she said sternly, reaching out with both hands on the table as she waited for him to reciprocate. "Your comment was just a convenient excuse to break away. I needed some Castle time."
"I'm here to serve," he answered quickly and happily.
"You always have been," she answered while caressing his hands. "Even before I recognized it. Some detective, huh? There you are, bringing me coffee every day, and…"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Castle interjected, squeezing his wife's hands. "Don't let my little Josh digression bring us down, especially tonight. It's like you said at the press conference – we found our way to each other in our own time and in our own way," he repeated, smiling at her shy reaction to his evident pride in her comments. "I still love our story. Even with this crazy chapter you added," he laughed as he nodded to the room at large, unwilling to pull his hand away to gesture.
"Yeah," she replied, squeezing his hands a bit tightly. "That *I* added," she repeated, giving him a look honed over the course of nearly a decade. He at least had the good grace to look abashed, if not contrite. "Actually, that's a good lead-in to the other thing I wanted to discuss."
"Uh oh," Castle replied, mostly joking. "This sounds serious."
"Exactly," Beckett agreed, nodding. "Serious. That's what I realized. You were serious, back when you talked with Maya and suggested my candidacy. You made it sounds like you were thinking out loud, but it was actually something you'd thought about," she ended as a statement, not a question.
"Uh, maybe?" he asked, forgetting his reaction to Espo's earlier, similar attempt to avoid an inquisition. When his wife gave him the look that let him know she'd wait for a real answer, he confessed. "Of course I'd thought about it. And with good reason," he added proudly, again nodding at the bustling activity outside of their bubble. "What gave me away?"
"Remember when we were in LA on Royce's case, that night in the hotel room?" she asked, looking at him intently.
"As if I could ever forget that night," he admitted, eyes going a little hazy.
"You pulled me out of my funk. Woke me up," she confessed, "in several ways. You made me smile when I thought I couldn't, just by praising my 'hotness.'"
"I've always been quick to note the obvious," he said, praising and deriding himself at the same time.
"You've never made me question your opinion of me," she replied, squeezing his hands again and using a tone of voice that lets him know she's serious. "And whether it's just us or you're talking to anyone else, you've always been my advocate. So," she explained, rounding to her conclusion, "I wasn't surprised when you praised me to Maya and her audience. But you didn't say one word about my looks."
Castle looked ready to interject, so Beckett shut him down. "On purpose. You didn't want to minimize me, make the focus about my looks rather than my skills, right?" she asked rhetorically, noticing him look down. "It would've been very easy to ignore your comments as those of an infatuated husband. But you made it real," she praised, smiling at his deep blush. "I've looked and looked, but I haven't found any kind of example where a husband's decision to not praise his wife was so meaningful," she confessed with teary eyes and a low voice. "Or so loving."
"You make it easy," he said with a shrug as he slowly lifted his head to look at her, shy grin in place.
The flash of a nearby camera ended their moment, reminded them of where they were and other demands for their attention. But Beckett had one last thing to say before the re-entered the fray.
"Whether we win this election or lose," she promised, "we'll do it together. Right, Castle?"
"Like you could get rid of me now," he replied. "Even with the Secret Service at your beck and call."
"C'mon, Castle," she said, using their linked hands to pull him out of the booth. "Let's go see if they're gonna get a new boss. But, first things first. Let's give the press a better picture than the one they just took," she said with a leer, reeling him in for a blistering kiss.
"Hey, writer-man," Lanie calls to Castle as she emerges from his bedroom, "she wants to see you."
"She's okay, right?" Castles asks nervously, breaking from the rut he was wearing in the floor of the lounge. "Too much stress?"
"She'll be fine," Lanie assures her nervous friend, cutting him a look of exasperation, "if her husband ever gets off his tail and goes in to see her."
"Right," he replies quickly, moving quickly into his bedroom. He's almost past her when he skids to a halt and gives her a quick kiss on the cheek. "Thanks, Lanie," he whispers.
With a gentle shove to his shoulder, she propels him towards his bedroom. "Go!" she chuckles as she pulls the door closed behind him.
Beckett's sitting in bed, leaning against the headboard when he enters, but Castle doesn't make it more than a few steps before she speaks.
"This is all your fault," Beckett growls, staring at her husband in shocked disbelief as she repeats her charge from early last night. "We wouldn't be in this situation if you could just control yourself!"
Suffering from a strange sense of déjà vu, he's not quite sure what he did, but he's sure he'd better make his wife happy. She's had a brutal several months, so he shouldn't be surprised that the lack of sleep, constant travel, and general stress have finally caught up with her. She looks wan, just as she did he awoke.
Wait a minute, he thinks to himself, studying his wife anew. She's still looking pale, but she's also working hard to guard her expression. Could it be?
"It's not like you were uninvolved," he replies, feeling more confident in his answer as he smiles and walks towards his wife, sitting beside her on the bed and reaching out to rest a hand low on her stomach. "And look, it's not really that big of a deal…"
"Not that big of a deal?" Beckett challenges with a raised brow, covering his hand with her own.
"It'll be fun, right?" he asks, radiating joy as he looks at her. "Just another little detour for our plan."
"I was supposed to be a president, Castle," she replies while sounding awed. "Not a mom."
"You'll be both," Castle assures, Beckett finally nodding in confirmation before pulling him in for a sweet kiss.
A short knock precedes Lanie's head popping through the door and into their room. "Discussing names for my god-daughter?" she asks with presumption and wishful thinking.
"Not quite that far yet Lanie," Beckett replies. "Still trying to process the idea. And the timing. Castle," she asks, dropping their light tone and starting to grow visibly nervous. "How the hell are we gonna do this? The next four years were already impossible and now we'll have a baby, too?"
"We'll be fine," Castle assures her with confidence he doesn't quite feel, though Lanie's nod helps. "Good thing I can be a stay-at-home dad, eh?"
"And you've done this before," she adds, clearly reminding herself. Just as she's starting to look more comfortable, her expression curdles. "Oh, God," she groans, "I'm gonna catch so much crap for this. All those men who thought a woman couldn't be president and now I'm gonna take maternity leave in my first term!"
"Kate," Castle says calmly, rubbing her hand. "Those guys would give you trouble regardless. You're a young woman – that's one of the things voters wanted. Young, married woman sometimes start families."
"Castle's right, Kate," Lanie adds, and only because they're trying to encourage Beckett does Castle refrain from strutting about the affirmation. "Anyone who has a problem with you being a woman will always find something to complain about. But this way gets me a beautiful baby to spoil rotten," she says happily, looking forward to spending time with her new niece or nephew.
"Besides," Castle piles on while Beckett's still rolling her eyes at Lanie, "nobody'll pay the complainers any attention. Don't you remember how excited everyone was for Will and Kate? This is gonna be so much bigger," he says delightedly, with Lanie nodding in agreement. "Forget the royals. We're gonna have a presidential baby, Beckett!"
"We are," Beckett answers slowly, with smile unfurling. "We're having a baby, Castle!"
"Yeah," he laughed, "we sure are," he repeats in quiet awe, returning his attention to her abdomen.
"That's my cue to leave," Lanie chuckles. "Enjoy your news, but hold it tight. You won't show for a while yet, Kate, so you've got some time while you decide when and how to share the news. Now, if I remember correctly, you've got staff showing up in almost an hour," she says with waggling eyebrows. "You'd better get busy."
"That's how we got here, Lanie," Castle ripostes, earning a swat from his wife. With a laugh, their friend sees herself out of the loft.
"You were right, Castle," Beckett says as she turns to him and starts playing with his shirt. "Our life together certainly isn't boring. Now," she said, leaning forward, "why don't we make it more exciting for the next half hour?"
"Next stop," Castle says gleefully as he lets his own hands start to wander, "the Lincoln Bedroom!"
A/N: I know, I know. Completely unrealistic. Still, it was a fun thought experiment and I get a kick out of Beckett having to deal with Congress in addition to Castle. And a newborn in the White House? That could be good fun: a sleep-deprived president, Lanie hitting on Secret Service agents while she visits, and Castle in a place where he could cause mischief on a global scale.
Apologies to readers outside the US for whom this might've a bit of a weird digression into electoral politics. For those of you in the US, Happy Labor Day.