Life is all those twists and turns along the way.
A big thank you to my beta Berlina. More special thanks go out to Jenrose1 who gave wonderful labor and child birth insights! This would not be as marvelous it is without either of you.
When I wake, I'm a little disappointed that I haven't dreamed of them. I lay quietly with my eyes closed, thinking about what my disappointment means.
I've never had a desire for children. It's not that I don't enjoy babies. It's not that I wouldn't love one if it happened. It's just that, I'm a cop. I'm not a mother. I've lost a parent. I know how that feels and I couldn't risk leaving my child without a mother. Thinking of her paired with the recent events brings a fresh swirl of grief for her loss.
"I know you're awake." His gruff voice comes from the corner. I turn my head and look at him, slumped into one chair, his feet propped up on another.
"Why are you still here?" I ask. "Clearly, I'm going to live."
"I know." He provides, not giving me an answer.
"What happened to Lanie?"
"I drove her nuts all afternoon and evening." I see his face smile. "We watched TV, asked each other trivial questions from an app and ate Thai."
"Thai?" I ask, a little perkier, "In here?"
"Yeah." He confirms, groaning a bit as he removes himself from the two chairs. "I'm too old for this." He complains and I see a flash of him naked as he grins over my insatiable pregnant body.
"I dreamed that."
"Yeah." I confirm.
"Huh." He ponders. "That's weird."
"You didn't live it." I mutter, still unable to shake the feeling of Castle, Rick, sliding erotically in and out of my body.
"You okay?" He asks and I blush deeper.
"Fine." I manage. He hands me an insulated cup with a straw. I sip the cold water and sigh. "Thanks." He hovers again and I can faintly see pink outside the window. I look up at the clock and I'm not surprised to see it's just after 5 am. The sun will rise above the buildings before long. Castle stares at me intently.
"We obviously, ah, did things there." He comments, then regrets it. "Sorry." He mutters.
"It's alright." I tell him again and shift slightly. My stitches tug and hurt a little so I raise the bed a bit more.
"Just alright?" He pries with a tease, knowing full well that wasn't what I was implying. I roll my eyes.
"Shut up, Castle." I offer lightly. He worries his lip as he hovers. "You're making me crazy, sit down." I order. He surprises us both by sitting on the edge of the bed.
"You said something when you woke up."
"I said a lot of things, the staff thought I was crazy."
"I didn't." He tells me, and tentatively touches my hand. I don't thread my fingers with his this time, but I don't pull away. I feel more like myself, rather than my other self from the dream, the longer I'm awake and away from them. The grief for them less fresh and raw, but still there. I imagine it will take me a long while to be completely free. "You said you loved me. I just need to know if that was here or there." His forehead is creased, the lines around his eyes tugging deep. He reminds me of the night in my apartment when we fought about what we were.
I close my eyes for a moment. Reliving him over me, confessing his love as I struggled to stay alive.
I remembered it last night with the nurse and I still remember this morning.
"I remember." I tell him, opening my eyes and meeting his steel blue with my green. He squeezes my hand, wordlessly asking for more. "I remember what you said." I tell him over the lump in my throat. I can't say anything else.
"Good." He offers. "It's still true." I can see his own tears behind his lashes. His heart in his eyes. Castle is scared, but it's obvious he needed it out. So often he reminds me of a compulsive child, not thinking of the outcome as he blurts the question. But he's never been that way about this thing between us. He's always been serious about the two of us, even through the jokes and innuendo.
That makes this much more fragile.
I lift my hand, pulling the wires and tubes along, to touch his face. I refuse to disconnect the other from his trembling hand. His eyelids flutter closed and he leans into my touch. This is way too much. I think. "Look at me." I tell him and his eyes open.
"Don't." He tells me, providing the exit. But I don't take it.
"Both." I promise.
And mean it.
He looks at me in wonder as I slip my hand around his head to pull him down. Our lips meet softly in the most gentle kiss I've ever had. I want more, and tug at his lips until both of our mouths have fallen open and our tongues graze. He keeps it gentle, puts no weight on me as our lips and tongues play softly. I'm drowning in him. It's better than I dreamed and intensely equal to our alleyway kiss, despite the pace.
It's of course this moment the nurse clears her throat at the door. He pulls away as if I've burned him. I slowly touch my lips. "Is he going to be a problem in here?" She asks disapprovingly.
"No." He promises, a hitch in his voice. Mine has completely failed.
Over the next few days people come and go, and the plugs, tubes and wires disappear one by one. I even get a new, less critical room.
Castle is always the last to leave and the first to return. He makes no further move to kiss me and doesn't bring up my confessions.
It's just that when he leaves, he lingers in his good bye far too long. Often stopping to touch me in small ways, a tuck of my hair or a brush of his fingers against my hand. This afternoon it was a brush of his hand against the outer edge of my thigh. His hand had burned through the two blanket's I'd piled on. My face had gone scarlet after he'd stepped out the door.
I hobble to the bathroom, thankful to be alone for a few minutes. I study myself in the mirror and smooth a hand over the uninjured portion of my stomach. It's good to see my own body.
But I miss him. That little baby I brought to life in a dream. I hold the tears down. Reminding myself it wasn't real.
"You never wanted that." I tell my reflection before hearing the nurse's knock at the door. I take a deep breath and assure myself I'll be okay.
"Everything alright?" She asks as I exit the bathroom a little shaken.
"Yes." I tell her and force a smile.
"We're going to move you again." She promises. "General care, probably for another day or two."
"Okay." I agree, and wish Castle was here.
"I'm sorry to bother you with this." He tells me the next afternoon, after getting in past the security outside my room.
"I don't have a whole lot going on in here. I could use the distraction." I prompt, pointing at the useless daytime TV.
"Oh." I state, somehow knowing what's about to come out of his mouth.
"She's on the birth control pills."
"She's 18 now, isn't she?" I offer softly.
"Yes." He grumbles.
"She's a very responsible girl. I'm sure they're being extra careful." I provide.
"She said as much." He winces again. "But I can't stand the idea."
"She's your baby." I provide. Closing my eyes again at the memory of him holding our tiny newborn son. It seems blurry now, but I still remember and it doesn't make me cry.
"But she's an adult. Blah, blah, blah. That's what she said."
"It's okay to be uncomfortable, but she had to grow up sometime. Be happy they love each other and it's hasn't been forced on her."
"Yes." He finally agrees, no doubt envisioning all the things we've seen done to young women against their wills before their lives were ended.
"It'll be okay, Rick." I offer, watching as a little acceptance slips in.
"You're welcome. Now move, The Price is Right is on and you're blocking my TV." I tease.
"Found you!" Ryan announces as he appears in street clothes at my door with Jenny. Castle sits in a reclining chair beside me as we watch movies side by side. I'm sick of the space he insures is always between us.
"Hey." I offer, flicking off the screen to Rick's protest.
The two of them sit on the little couch and we chit chat. Talking of cases and the search for the kingpin behind my mother's murder and the shooting that has put me here. When the severity of the situation weighs heavily on us, Ryan pulls Jenny closer in self-comfort. But she scrunches her nose.
"I hate that cologne." She tells him.
"It's the same one." He protests lightly.
"Then you're using more."
"No." He swears.
"You're pregnant." I blurt. The room falls silent. Castle looks at me, horrified by my manners. Ready to blame it on the drugs I take less and less of.
"Umm." Ryan provides.
"You are, aren't you?" I gasp, shocking myself that what I'd already known was indeed the truth.
"Jury's still out." Jenny protests with blush on her cheeks.
"The stick was pink though." Kevin boasts.
"But we're not saying anything yet." She growls. "We have an appointment next week."
"Congratulations." Castle offers, looking worried as he studies my reaction. I think he knows I'm struggling to let go of the baby I never really had.
"That's amazing you guys." I smile and mean it. "You'll be great parents." A smile touches Jenny's lips.
"Not to pry..." Castle starts before I interrupt.
"You always pry."
"Anyway, what about the wedding?" We all know it looms ahead later in the summer.
"Assuming there is a baby," Jenny pauses, "We're just going to go ahead and have it and hope I can fit into the dress I bought."
"She will, it will still be early." Ryan offers before they swear us to secrecy and head out.
My Dad and I are playing cards the next evening when Castle bursts through the door. Dad had been stopping by every morning on the way in, but in a rare event stopped in again tonight before leaving town. I'm sitting on the bed, one leg bent in as I deal. I'm shocked that I've already healed to the point I have. The incision is clean and healing well, just a scabbed line with a few covered stitches making little puckers here and there. It's still tender to the touch but the deep ache is fading rapidly.
Both the deep aches are fading.
I can't describe the expression on Castle's face. He looks like he's seen a ghost and he can't hide the frustration when he greets us both, where only I should sit. "Oh. Hello Mr. Beckett. Wasn't expecting you again today."
"Katie called me." He tells him, eyeing Rick as suspiciously as I do. He's come to know some of Castle's expressions over the last week and a half.
"Did you get word?" Castle asks and I nod. He tries to cover the panic he came in with, but still seems on edge. I know his face so well, there isn't any hiding the evidence.
"Home tomorrow." I smile. "I'm looking forward to it."
"Good." They echo. My father closes his hand and passes the cards over before rising.
"It's getting late, I should go." He explains, I nod and kiss his cheek when he bends to kiss mine.
"Night." I offer as he heads out and past the door guards.
Castle stands at the window.
"Is it bad?" I ask, afraid of what blow may come next.
"I'm not sure." He says, his voice wobbles as he turns to me.
"Rick, you're starting to freak me out."
"I don't know where to start." He provides. I pat the bed as I scoot over slightly and straighten my legs to make more room.
He sits, facing me. One leg crossed under the other, one foot touching the floor as his thigh fits tightly alongside mine. The heat between us is incredible and I look down to where we touch before finding his face.
"Start with the obvious." I practically beg.
I expect words when his lips part.
I'm not expecting his mouth to crush onto mine.
Kissing Castle is like drowning. Only far, far better. Our lips, tongues and teeth battle hotly. I want control, but apparently so does he. When his fingers thread into my hair and one of us releases a soft moan, I know we have to stop. I pull back from him, shocked to find my hands gripping his shoulder and neck. I quietly remove my arms, but slip my hand into his. Rick looks down at them in amazement.
I think it's the first time in this life I've put my hand into his, rather than his hand finding mine first.
"The obvious." He shrugs, and shifts his hips. I can't help but notice the bulge there. It makes me grin and a thousand jokes fly through my head before he silences them. "I love you." He tells me. I swallow hard.
"Yes. I love you." I tell him. The words feel foreign and foggy.
But, absolutely right.
He lips brush against mine softly before he pulls back and sinks his hands into his pockets. I'm about to ask what he's looking for when his hand comes out in a fist.
His hands tremble along with his voice.
"I dropped the remote. It went under the couch. My couch sits really close to the floor, not a lot of space for things to get under it." He rambles. "I don't even know how the remote got under there. But my housekeeper only moves the furniture once a month. And, well, I moved it to get the remote. This was under there." He tells me seriously, and opens his hand.
Inside it rests a single newborn sock.
It's blue with a little white stripe around the cuff.
And that's all there is. There isn't any more.
I sure hope you've enjoyed the twisted path this fic has taken.