*Disclaimer* This is a cross posting of the Castle Season 9 episode that I wrote. I just wanted to have all my stories in one place. It works as a stand alone story so if you haven't read the S9 story it should still make sense. (In summary, S8 happened and now they're pregnant.)
Account For Murder
Castle tries to work some magic to give Beckett the Valentine's Day she deserves. Meanwhile, a case of a slain accountant sparks a realization with Kate about her recent behavior.
Jake trudged out into the cold New York City early morning. An eerie glow of moonlight shone on the slick pavement from the soft drizzle on the streets parking lot connected to his office building was nearly abandoned. He normally hated walking to his car late at night, but tonight his mind was in a fog, exhaustion taking over. He was the last person on his floor to leave, working to finish up the last minute details for the client meeting that he'd begrudgingly have to return for in a few hours.
It was times like these that he wished they had a place to sleep at the office.
Tax season was in full swing which meant long hours, lack of sleep, and time away from friends and family. His mind was sluggish, all thoughts focused on keeping one foot in front of the other on the way to his car.
A subtle click in the distance sliced through the silence of the night, the noise odd enough that it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. When he turned toward the sound he noticed a figure standing in the shadows by a burned-out light post. If he hadn't been so sleep deprived he probably would've noticed sooner. Or he would've had more time to react.
Panic raced through his veins and a sudden burst of energy swept through his lethargic body, desperate for the sanctuary of his car to call for help. He wasn't a fast runner, even less so after fifteen hours of work. It was too late; flashes of his life, the good and bad, rolled through his thoughts before two blaring shots echoed through the cool morning stillness.
The sound of his wife's groan of disgust rang through the peacefulness of their bedroom. Castle smiled to himself and took a deep breath before walking from their en suite. He found Kate fidgeting with her latest outfit choice and he gave his best attempt at holding in a laugh. She was adorable when she was frustrated, and even more so when she was seven months pregnant.
"Everything okay?" he asked, easing behind her and wrapping his arm around her midsection to rest his hands against her belly. She leaned into his touch and tilted her head back onto his shoulder. Her eyes fluttered shut as a soft whimper slipped from her lips.
"I hate this," she whined.
"This," she sighed, opening her eyes and waving her hand up and down along her reflection in the floor-length mirror.
"You look beautiful. You've always looked beautiful," Castle said, smiling, before brushing a kiss against her temple. "Plus, you're carrying our child so you're glowing. Now finish getting ready and we can drive together to the precinct. So you can do that thing you do so well and solve some murders."
"Be your usual, extraordinary self, all while you keep our daughter safe inside your gorgeous body." He gave her shoulder a quick squeeze and turned to walk out of their bedroom.
"You make it so hard to complain," she grumbled to herself, but it was still loud enough for him to catch, causing him to chuckle on his way to making her a light breakfast.
"What was that about?"
His head turned toward the voice and he found his mother standing next to their kitchen island, sipping her coffee. He plastered on a smile and sighed.
"Mother, to what do we owe this impromptu visit?" he asked, entering the kitchen and reaching for an empty coffee mug. With Kate's mood this morning, it would be necessary to take extra care in preparing the small caffeine fix she allowed herself each day.
"I was just in the area so I figured, why not drop by-"
"And have free coffee."
"Oh pssh. Sometimes a woman just wants to see her family. Speaking of, what's troubling my daughter-in-law?"
"Shh. Let's not call attention to it," he hushed. "Kate's entered the third trimester and she's having some mood swings."
"But she's typically so level-headed…"
"That was before. Now, all bets are off. Yesterday she teared up in her office when her stapler ran out of staples. Mind you, it was a long day, but still, staples."
"Darling, that's just one day. Everyone, even non-pregnant individuals, has those kind of days."
"This morning I was breathing too loud, my shampoo's scent was too strong, and her shower was too hot."
"Sometimes you're a lot to take in the morning. I should know, I raised you," she smirked.
"Funny. We both have our quirks. Always have, but we spent an entire weekend away upstate for her birthday in November, and then Hawaii last month, and it was peaceful. It was perfect. She said so herself, but lately - I can't seem to do anything without driving her crazy."
"You've always driven her crazy, dear."
"True, but I don't want to upset her right now. She's having some extra pain from scar tissue in her abdomen, so that coupled with her hormones on overdrive - basically I'm just going to walk on eggshells and turn on the Castle charm, especially since tomorrow is Valentine's Day."
"Castle charm? Versus a pregnant Katherine?" Martha asked with a smirk, taking one last sip from her cup. "All I can say is good luck." She shook her head, squeezed his hand, and walked herself to the door.
They made it to the precinct without much incident, meaning he still had all of his limbs intact and she hadn't bitten his head off. She knew he was trying to be the perfect husband, but somewhere in that quest for perfection he was getting on her nerves at every turn.
It was the hormones.
Obviously it was the hormones, because she was madly in love with Castle and had long ago learned to accept and even appreciate his little annoying quirks. At least that had been the case until she entered her third trimester, but now she felt like she wasn't in control of her reactions.
She closed her eyes as soon as they stepped foot into the vacant elevator, and rested her head against the faux wood panel. The air inside the car was stale and humid, completely boiling every inch of her skin.
"It's like an inferno in here, Castle. Why are you standing so close?" she asked, bringing her fingertips to massage the already mounting headache.
"Kate, we could fit a very large person between us. Nothing about our proximity could be described as close."
Her eyes flashed open and she noticed that Castle was clear on the other side of the elevator. She felt her cheeks flush and she was unaware if it was because her entire body was on fire or if it was her slight embarrassment about her outburst.
"Oh. Then why is it so damn hot? I swear I can feel your body radiating heat from here."
"Or the vents are pumping in heat," he explained, easing next to her and lacing his fingers with hers. "It's the dead of winter and it's nearly sub-zero temperatures outside. Everyone but you and the abominable snowman is freezing today."
"It's not that cold outside and right now in this makeshift sauna, it's ungodly hot," she groaned, tugging at the collar of the lightweight maternity sweater that she had recently picked up at one of the little specialty boutiques on Fifth.
Castle looked down at her with a teasing smile as he brushed his lips against her temple. "If this hot flash becomes permanent, I have no problem making an underwear-only rule at home," he chuckled, leaning back just enough for her to see the quick dance of his eyebrows.
"You'd like that, wouldn't you. Pervert." She gave his shoulder a shove, stepping past him as the elevator door finally slid open onto the homicide floor.
"Maybe, but you didn't say no," he called out after her.
Turning her head back, she narrowed her eyes as his lips turned into a seductive smile at the thought of the unlikely dress code change. "Correct, but more importantly - I didn't say yes."