A/N: This story is set post the Season 8 finale, before the seven-year time jump. Written for #CastleFanficElectionDay
Kate makes her way through the study, her left hand rubbing at the base of her spine as best she can while her right rests on the curve of her stomach where it tends to end up the majority of the time now. Her back aches with a fierce intensity, every step sending what feels like needles piercing and jabbing the lower region of her back. She makes it to the desk and pauses, bracing her hands on the cool, flat surface and taking a few seconds to inhale and exhale slowly. She straightens her back again and looks down at the swell of her belly, both her hands coming up to rub it gently through the soft layer of her night shirt.
"Hey there, baby girl," Kate says, her voice a little over a whisper, still looking at her round stomach. "I know you're real comfy in there, but you think you could take it down a notch on the kicking? It's taking a toll on Mommy's back and a good night's sleep would do us both some good, wouldn't it?"
She knows it's ridiculous, that their baby can't understand a word she's saying, but the doctor had told them that past the fifth month - she's at six months now - the baby's hearing had started to develop. A smile spreads across her lips as she recalls Castle's reaction in the small doctor's office as the woman examining her stepped out of the room. He'd been glowing and all smiles, one hand in hers and the other at her stomach.
"She can hear us, Kate," he'd said, the glee in his voice unmistakable. "And you'll get to sing her songs to help her fall asleep or I'll read her a bed time story and she'll get to know our voices- "
Kate hadn't been able to resist the urge to kiss him, to run her tongue along the seam of his lips, interrupting him mid-sentence. She could have blamed it on the hormones but she knows it's just him. Him and his love for her and this family they are creating. He'd opened up for her immediately, and she didn't even bother repressing the moan that made its way past her lips. Okay, maybe that was the hormones. Damn it she wanted him all the time.
His hands cradled her cheeks as he pulled away, still smiling. "I love you," he said, and how on earth that still made her blush after all this time, she had no idea, but she couldn't have cared less in that moment. "Love you too, Castle."
She shakes her head at the memory she hopes she'll get to hold on too for as long as she lives. Oh man, she's getting sappy.
"Kate?" She hears him call her name form the bedroom and she figures he must have heard her talking to the baby. "Is everything okay?" he asks.
"I'm fine," she answers as she slowly makes her way towards the room to him. She releases a heavy sigh as she lets herself fall down onto the bed, the sheets soft beneath her fingers and mattress seems to curl around her frame, already doing wonders for her back. She moans at the slight relief of tension in her back and vaguely registers Castle setting his computer on the side table turning towards her.
"Hey, how's your back?" he asks, concerned, his hand already lifting the hem of her shirt and spanning across the skin in an effort to soothe.
"Hurts," she admits. She's not one to complain but she won't hide this from Castle. She knows he would shoulder half the ache if he could; that it kills him to see her have to suffer through struggles that come with pregnancy on her own. But she wouldn't change a thing, wouldn't give this up for anything in the world. It's physically taxing, carrying a child, but this is their child, hers and Castle's, and she wouldn't have it any other way. She is proud to carry their daughter. They'd learned of the baby's gender only a few weeks prior.
He kneads at her flesh gently, his fingers working their way up her spine and back down again, applying a soft pressure as if her knows just where her body aches most. She turns her head towards him to give him a smile, thank him for alleviating the pain when she notices the worried look in his eyes, almost pained. For some reason she doesn't think this has anything to do with the pregnancy. Kate turns her body on her left side to face him her legs bending slightly and parting to tangle with his, eliminating unnecessary space between them. His hand doesn't fall away from her back, he keeps it there, rubbing lightly, and she's grateful for the gentle pressure, the heat of his palm on her skin.
He lies on his side beside her, his head propped up by the arm that isn't spanning her back. She doesn't have to say anything, knows he's aware she's waiting for him to speak whatever is on his mind, whatever seems to be troubling him.
"I'm scared, Kate." He tells her and her brow furrows in question, silently asking him to explain. "I know this sounds silly and that this has been looming over our heads for months but the election is tomorrow and I feel there's a lot at stake."
She's grateful that he's so open with her about this. Politics is never any easy topic to breach and usually one to stay away from altogether to avoid conflict. But she knows what he's thinking, what he's afraid of, hell what half the country and the rest of the world is afraid of.
"Castle, the only thing you can do is vote, and then we wait. It's no use stressing and wasting energy over something you have no control over," she tries to reason with him. She sees him close his eyes.
"I know, you're right, I just- " he cuts himself off, a long breath escaping him as he tries to put what he's feeling into words and drops onto his back staring up at the ceiling of their bedroom. After a moment he turns his head towards her and she's still watching, waiting for him to speak. "I'm scared of the world our little girl will be born into. I never want her to believe people are defined by the color of their skin, the country they come from or the religious beliefs they hold. I don't want her to think that because we have money and we happen to be white that we're entitled to anything more than anyone else. And just-" he runs a hand through his hair, upset. "This election has the power to change so much. I want her to grow up knowing she can love who she wants and that we'll never judge her for it, that others won't judge her for it."
He stops and Kate lifts her right hand to twine her fingers with his, bringing their joined hands up to her mouth and pressing a gentle kiss to the back of his.
"I don't want her to grow up in an environment where people are motivated by fear. I know she'll be the smallest and most precious thing when she comes into this world and it pains me to have to say it, but some day she'll be a woman. I want her to be proud of that. I need her to know that she's as important, as intelligent, as capable of any man. She shouldn't-"
"Castle," she interrupts him with his name spoken softly. He stops talking and looks at her, his eyes pleading for reassurance. This man. This beautiful, thoughtful man. She loves him so much. "This election will mean many changes for the country we live in, there's no doubt about that, no matter the result of the polls. But Castle," she lifts herself up and moves closer to him, ignores the twinge at her back the movement causes. She settles on his chest, directly above him needing him to hear this. "Our daughter will not be defined by this election. We will be the ones to raise her with values we believe in. She'll have you and me, Martha, my dad, Alexis, the boys and her aunt Lanie. Do you really think they'd let her get away with thinking the color of her skin deems her superior to others?"
She raises an eyebrow, seeing it in her mind so clearly, Lanie putting her back in her place were their daughter ever to think something so vain. Castle chuckles and she knows he sees it too. "But she'll never get to that point Castle. She'll have us and everyone around her to help guide her every step of the way. We'll remind her every day that it's beauty from the inside that counts, that you don't chose who you fall in love with and that she is as worthy as any man."
Kate smiles down at him when she feels his hand at her cheek. "You're right," he says, smiling up at her. "She'll see how badass her Mommy is and she'll know she doesn't need a man to slay any dragons for her."
She laughs. "Maybe," she concedes, "but I couldn't have done it without the help of one particular man." Kate leans down lay a brief kiss to his lips, a silent thank you for all those years ago. "She'll learn that there are battles she can win on her own, but that fighting with others at her side is not a show of weakness."
"Yeah, she'll be a feisty one, won't you baby girl? You're already tiring Mommy out with all your kicking." He says half to her, half to the bump of her stomach, his hand coming up to rest on the swell of her abdomen. Kate feels a nudge from the inside and knows Castle has felt their daughter kick too by the light that illuminates his features in a matter of seconds. They both laugh at the coincidental timing and of course, Castle takes it to mean their unborn daughter has understood their conversation. "You can hear us in there, can't you baby?"
Kate rolls her eyes at his antics but can't suppress the smile it brings. He looks up at her and brings his hand to her cheek again. "Thank you, Kate."
"Always," she tells him easily, pushing forward to catch his lips with hers. She keeps it from getting too heated, her body exhausted, but needs him to know how much it means to her that he cares. She needs him to know that she knows how lucky she is to have him. How lucky they are to have him.
They part, both smiling at one another. She's glad she was able to subdue his worry in some small way. Words were never her forte, but tonight they didn't fail her.
She turns around, so that her back fits against his chest, their legs still twined and bodies completely aligned. Kate grabs the body pillow and positions it so as to be comfortable, tucks it in along the curve of her stomach. Castle's arms slide around her waist and his hand comes to rest on her abdomen, his thumb stroking her skin of her belly through the soft material of her shirt.
With their baby inside the cocoon of her body and Castle wrapped around her, she feels safe. She knows a lot is a stake tomorrow, but she also knows that no matter the results, she won't let it define her family.
A/N: I am Canadian and this election for our American neighbours has affected me deeply. I hope I haven't offended anyone. Thank you for reading, I would love to hear your thoughts!