She steps out of the bathroom and straight into the heavy foot traffic that fills the corridors of the AG's office twenty-four hours a day. Slinking backward, Kate retreats from the flow of humanity, leaning against the wall before her knees give out, and damn it, why can't she draw more oxygen into her lungs? It feels like she's underwater, the movements around her blurry and the sounds muffled, and she works to breathe through her turmoil, equal parts thrill and terror.
The slender plastic stick remains concealed within her fist, protected from the prying eyes of the passers-by, but she knows it's there. It sears her skin, the knowledge contained within it, the bright pink plus sign that stared back at her in the bathroom stall just a few short minutes ago. The plus sign that changes everything.
She'd bought the test on her way home, the same night Castle surprised her in her DC apartment, telling her he couldn't go another day without seeing her, and the flood of relief at holding him, smelling him, tasting him again after so long wiped her mind blank of everything but the feel of his skin against hers. He'd had her desperate and begging in record time, taking her hard and fast against the sink for the first round, then carrying her to the bed, her legs still wrapped around his hips and his mouth roaming the soft flesh between her breasts, blessedly exposed by the buttons she'd undone earlier. The second time was long and achingly slow and so good and god, why had they allowed themselves to be kept apart for six whole weeks?
The test had sat untouched in her satchel ever since, ignored in the pursuit of more pleasurable activities with her fiancé, and continuing to be forgotten as the case they were working spun further and further out of control. Out of sight, out of mind.
It was only after she'd left Castle in the care of Dr. Goldberg that she remembered it was there, that she was several weeks late, that she'd been feeling so out-of-sorts lately. Kate had tried to chalk it up to exhaustion and the demands of her training, but if she was being completely honest, she already knew. She knew before she made the sharp, sudden right turn into the drug store parking lot that night, before she bought the pregnancy test, before she drove the rest of the way home in a dreamlike daze of oh shit, now what?
The last time they'd been together was six weeks prior, and it was...god, it had been perfect. One final, long weekend at the Hamptons house before they went their separate ways: DC for her, and for him a nationwide publicity stint for not one, but two new books. Between their recent career successes and their engagement, they'd had so much to celebrate, and they made the best of those days, soaking themselves in the sun and surf and non-stop sex.
They were insatiable, and oh shit, when was the last time she'd gotten a Depo shot? She was usually on top of her birth control regimen, but the whirlwind of of accepting the AG position and moving down to DC in under two weeks had been chaotic and exciting, and everything had been pushed aside in order to accommodate the schedule this new job required. She honestly couldn't remember, it had been that long.
It's no wonder she's knocked up.
But that was six weeks ago. In the course of the last hour, she's found out that her fiancé has less than a day to live, and that she's carrying his baby. She needs the wall at her back more than ever, panic rising up to flood the space within her ribcage and she does everything in her power to battle it back, closing her eyes and breathing through it, the way Burke taught her. Deep, cleansing inhales through her nose, out through her mouth. Count backwards from ten. Focus on the breathing.
She has to keep it together. For his sake, and for the sake of their child, she has got to get a grip and get to work.
Her head snaps up to see McCord, a phone pressed to her ear as she waves a manila folder in the air from a desk on the other side of the workspace, signaling for Kate to get over there, now. The plastic stick gets shoved into her pocket, hidden but by no means forgotten.
She doesn't tell him.
With every moment that passes, she hates herself for it just a little more. They're no closer to finding the antidote, and he should know. He deserves to know. But the idea of sharing that news and then losing him to this godforsaken case is physically painful, another blow to her patchwork heart, finally made complete when she had found her missing piece in Castle. She can't bear the thought of seeing his eyes light up at the knowledge that he's going to be a father again, only to watch the spark extinguished when he realizes he might not live to meet this little one.
Losing him is not an option.
Of course, Castle handles the situation with his usual aplomb, cracking wise and making case-breaking contributions to the investigation that leave her thinking maybe he's the one who belongs on this AG team, not her. And all the while, she clings to this secret, to this tiny seed taking root inside her, her guilt growing just as steadily.
She really needs to tell him.
She finally does tell him, as he lies collapsed on the grass outside Secretary Reed's residence.
She kneels at his side and hovers over him, her hands fluttering along his jaw, fingers stroking through his hair, begging him to hang on, to stay with her. The words instill her with an eerie sense of déjà vu, something so strangely familiar about their desperation. It occurs to her that they're the same words Castle uttered to her just a few short years ago against an identical grassy green backdrop, when a bullet pierced her heart and fate tried to rob them of their happily ever after.
Well, it didn't work then, and it sure as hell isn't going to succeed today either, not if it's fate's plan to keep them apart. Not if Kate Beckett has anything to say about it.
"Don't you die on me, Rick Castle. You listen to me. I'm pregnant. Do you hear what I'm saying? We're having a baby. Don't go. Don't leave us."
Later, she would swear there was a moment, a glimmer of recognition in the deep blue depths of his irises, before his eyes fluttered shut for what she feared was the last time.
Kate refuses to leave his bedside, bowed over the side until she can rest her cheek against his hand, occasionally pressing a kiss to the skin, thankfully still warm, still alive.
...so close...almost died...if it had been five minutes later…
She almost lost him. The love of her life. The father of her child.
Oh god, does he know? Did he hear her? He needs to know. Right now.
Her head shoots up as Castle begins to rouse, his eyes blinking open slowly to the bright afternoon sunshine, landing on her almost immediately.
"Castle," she sighs, her relief a bright, shiny thing at hearing his voice again. She'd been scared. So scared.
"Kate. Hi," he murmurs, the adoration flickering in his gaze, and she's thrilled that not even another near-death experience with her has the ability to put him off. He still adores her, letting her know with every look and every smile and every time he says Kate like he still can't believe he gets to love her. She knows. She gets it, because she feels the same way about him.
She manages to keep her composure as Martha, Alexis, and Pi express their concerns and well-wishes. But when they step out and it's finally just the two of them again, the tears spill uncontrolled, hot and fast down her cheeks and he frowns, reaching up to swipe at the salty trails with his thumb.
"Hey, Kate. Talk to me."
"Oh, Castle." She squeezes her eyes shut, needing a few steadying breaths before she can open them again and get the words out. "We almost lost you today."
He shakes his head as best he can, his reflexes still sluggish and drugged, but his concern for her as keen as ever.
"Hey. Still here. Not going anywhere." His voice is weak, but the conviction to stay by her side is unmistakable, his smile growing. "I'm not letting you out of our engagement that easily."
A feeble chuckle escapes her lips upon hearing her declarations parroted back to her. What did she ever do to deserve this man? He's it for her. Her always.
He cups her chin and she leans into his touch, kissing the soft skin on his palm before turning back to him with watery eyes.
"Did, uh...did you hear me, Castle? Do you remember what I told you?" By the time she's done speaking, she's unable to meet his eyes, her own riveted on his chest, focused on the steady work of his lungs inflating and deflating, over and over. Proof of life.
The hand at her jaw slides down to loosely trap her chin, gently forcing her gaze upward, until their eyes meet again. And he looks so happy.
She nods as she releases a noisy sob, launching herself into his embrace, taking care not to tug on the tubing of his IV. He clutches at her back, stroking her hair, murmuring his love into the crown of her head, a litany of Oh Kate and I'm here, I'm fine and Oh my god we're having a baby.
Losing him was never an option. Never will be.
When she pulls away, his eyes are just as damp as hers, his smile just as wide, his joy at the prospect of starting their family a little sooner than expected completely obvious.
"When did you find out?"
Shame lances through her at his inquiry, her smile fading because she can't lie to him, not here, not now, not after everything he's been through, and what if he hates her for it? For keeping something this important from him? Time to face the music.
"Earlier today. Right after I told you about the toxin." Her eyes flutter shut on her confession, and she hopes that he can hear the remorse in her voice, how she regrets some of the choices she made today.
"God, Kate, I'm so sorry."
Her eyes fly open, an apology the last thing she expected from him. "Wait...what? Why are you sorry?"
"Are you kidding? The fact that you felt the need to carry that burden on your own...I'm just sorry you believed you had to go it alone."
It cracks her wide open, this beautiful man and his unconditional love and the way his amazing mind works, how he tries to view every issue from every possible angle. He's smart and he's fair and he thinks outside the box. It's what initially attracted her to him, way back when he still drove her crazy and she tried to deny the inevitable outcome that was them.
She crawls back into his embrace, more gently this time, settling at his side on the narrow bed and never more grateful for tight squeezes.
"Not a burden, Castle. Not even close. I was just so scared. I thought I was gonna lose you. That we were gonna lose you."
"I know you did. I know you were scared. I was too." He nudges his hand lower to rest high on her pelvis, his wide, warm palm easily covering the area of her belly that their baby currently calls home, developing safe and sound, both parents alive and kicking, thank you very much.
She nuzzles her nose into the fabric of the hospital gown, the slightly medicinal odor of the cloth unable to mask the soothing, familiar scent that's unique to her fiancé.
"Which is why you deserved to know."
"You told me in due time, Kate. You told me when I needed to hear it most. You gave me a reason to fight. That's all that matters."
Why aren't they married yet? She wants to be married now.
She stops hiding away from him, lifting her lips to flirt along his, sweet, soft kisses she'll never get enough of. The need to breathe gets the better of them, and they pull apart only to press their foreheads together, their noses brushing.
"I love you so much, Rick." She claims his lips once more just as he declares I love you too Kate, pulling back to whisper against his mouth, "We're having a baby."
They wear matching grins now, and she gets the impression he can't restrain himself any longer when he comments, "So, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking this happened in the Hamptons."
Her laughter rings out clear, never so grateful as she is in this moment for his ability to turn any situation humorous, to lighten her load, even in the simplest of ways. She needs to trust him to do that from now on. He's going to be her husband, and he's proven time and again that he's made out of stuff just as sturdy as she is. Partners always, and soon to be parents.
"Definitely a Hamptons baby."
A/N: Prompt: Beckett finds out she is pregnant at the end of 6x01.
Prompted by shellee3 (shellee3 dot tumblr dot com) and filled as a gift for her generous contribution to support dot chla dot org slash pages slash goodluckstana.
My most heartfelt thank yous to Alex and J, as usual.