*A/N: Major thanks to Ky3elk on twitter for helping get some of the details right.

Still Here – Chapter 40

She followed him into the loft after he'd unlocked the door, watching as his feet dragged, languidly removing his coat and tossing it up on the coat rack. He turned in place, eyes tired and exhausted, making her feel even more guilty.

"I'm sorry, Castle," she murmured, dropping her eyes as he placed his arms on her shoulders and gently spun her around, pulling her coat off in the process. Kate swallowed, tugging her lower lip under her teeth, and put her hands on her enlarged belly, frowning as she rubbed little circles into the taut round flesh. This was the third time this week, and every single time it had occurred during the middle of the night, disturbing their sleep.

Castle returned to her side, giving her a sleepy smile. "It happens, Kate," he reassured her, a hand soothingly dancing up and down her back. "Not your fault."

Kate closed her eyes and eased into his touch, feeling just as tired as him. "I'm still sorry," she asserted, resting her head against his as he caressed her arm. He tilted his head and brushed his nose against her hair, planting a soft kiss against her temple.

"Don't worry about it, Kate," Castle mumbled, letting his fingers skim down her arm until they find her hand. "It was much worse with Meredith. She freaked out the moment the first Braxton Hicks contractions hit."

She knitted her eyebrows together and mustered up the best glare she could at 3 o'clock in the morning. "Please, don't mention Braxton Hicks or Meredith again… I feel awful enough as it is."

"I wasn't trying to be insulting or anything," Castle sighed, rubbing the back of his head, eyes still droopy from lack of sleep. "I just wanted to let you know that you're doing a far, far better job that Meredith did."

"Again… Meredith," she hissed out, growing annoyed with his lack of understanding in this matter. She pulled their hands apart and jabbed him in the shoulder with a fist. He let out a grunt of surprise and stepped back a bit. "I know you have a past—we both do—but that doesn't mean I want to hear all about Meredith when she was pregnant with Alexis." She paused and softened her gaze at him, reaching out to soothe the spot she'd punched. "I'm not above admitting that I can get quite possessive when it comes to you."

"Ditto," Castle purred, stepping back in and slipping an arm around her middle, resting his hand on the side of her belly, fingers sprawled wide, encompassing as much of the round swell of flesh as he could. "You're mine, Mrs. Castle."

"And you belong to me, no one else, Mr. Castle," Kate replied with a grin. Castle returned it with a boyish smirk and slanted closer, resting his forehead against hers. They sighed, sharing space and air. He rubbed gentle patterns along her belly.

"Next time," she murmured. "I promise you that next time, it'll be real."

"I told you I don't mind," Castle chuckled out quietly, moving his hand around her back to tighten his hold of her in his embrace. "We're in this together, Kate. That's my promise. Always." He dropped a kiss on the top of her head, and she smiled, nuzzling into his embrace, resting her head on his shoulder. Down below one of the twins shifted around inside her, ending their moment.

Pulling back, they grinned goofily and giggled softly. Castle dropped his hands to her belly and soothed the little ones inside with his large palms. He scrunched up his face, trying to suppress a yawn, but despite his best efforts, it still broke through.

Kate pursed her lips and smiled warmly at him, reaching up to brush back the flop of hair that had fallen down across his forehead. His hair was still all unruly from their interrupted sleep, but, in her opinion, it just made him all the more adorable. Caressing the side of his face, feeling the gentle scrape of his stubble, Kate leaned in and kissed him softly on the lips. Interlacing their linked hands together, she then tugged him towards their bedroom.

"Come on, sleepyhead, let's get you back to bed," she murmured, still feeling guilty for disturbing their sleep with another bout of false labor.

"But what if I don't want to sleep," he managed to suggestively waggle his eyebrows at her, leering at her in a way the only he could. His hand fell down her back and he cupped her ass, giving it a playful squeeze.

Kate let out a soft gasp, startled by the sudden groping from her half-awake husband. She turned to him and rolled her eyes. "No offense, but I don't think you're awake enough to get it up, Castle."

He stuck out his bottom lip on a pout, looking adorable. "It can just be a quickie. Trust me. I'll be in and out before you know it."

She pursed her lips, trying to stifle her laugh, but it bubbled out anyways. "Not exactly inspiring there, Rick."

"Huh?" he fumbled, blinking his eyes tiredly as he gaze at her with a mix of confusion and utter adoration.

"Oh, Castle, you really are sleepy, aren't you?" she chuckled, smiling warmly as she shook her head and affectionately caressed the side of his face. He clearly had no idea what he'd just said, or how amusing it was considering that even their quickies weren't really that quick. Castle gave her a befuddled look, oblivious to what was so funny. She gave him a reassuring smile, and reached up to pat his cheek. "We could always just cuddle."

His lips spread into a lopsided grin as he moved forward, wrapping her up in his arms. "I guess I can make do with that… for now. But later, when we're both not so exhausted and tired, we're definitely fooling around," Castle asserted, using the last bit of his energy to wiggle his eyebrows and pinch her ass, like the tease he was.

"Deal," Kate beamed, blinking her eyes and fighting the yawn breaking through. She shook her head and leaned into his embrace. And together, they strolled the rest of the way through the loft and into their bedroom. They stripped off each other's clothes until nothing remained but bare skin, before collapsing down onto the soft bed and snuggling up close.


Her dreams were sensual and erotic, and involved a certain ruggedly handsome author doing decidedly wicked things to her with nothing but his tongue. There was nothing new about that. She'd had such dreams for over three years. Heck, she'd even fantasized about straddling and jumping Richard freaking Castle before she'd even met him. But those dreams and fantasies had become much more intense once she'd actually met the man and stood toe to toe with him, seeing just how blue his eyes were.

Now that he was hers, and she his, she could fully admit that she'd been so very tempted to take him up on his offer of "debriefing" after their first case. It would have been great… amazing… but not lasting. Kate might have been disappointed with the long path they'd took to get to each other, but she wouldn't have changed too much of it, since they probably both needed the time to prepare for one another, and fully embrace that thing called love that hung between them, uniting them in common purpose.

A warmth infused her at the mere thought of Castle's love for her. It burned brighter than a thousand stars. She would never tire of his love or his touch. He brought so much joy into her life that she could no longer imagine a life without him in it as her friend, husband, and lover… especially lover. No man had ever made love to her the way Castle did. He was attentive and considerate, passionate and loving, tender and gentle. He worshiped her body like she was something special and magical, unique. Others had, too, but never to the same degree of intensity as Castle did.

She may have been self-conscious, but Kate knew she was attractive and that men loved gazing at and touching her body, bringing her to the edge and over. Some had been very good at that, others not so much. Kate wasn't ashamed to admit that she liked sex—no loved it—and she was not some sweet angel when it came do getting what she desired. She enjoyed sex, and the distractions it brought. And that's what it had been… until Castle. It wasn't until she finally took that dive, that Kate realized that for the majority of her adult life, that that's what sex had been to her—a distraction.

Kate would use sex to distract herself and forget her troubles. After her mother died, she'd never allowed herself to open her heart up to the possibility of love, that sex was anything more than a form of physical release. It wasn't until Castle that she began to view sex differently, and also understand the meaning of the phrase "making love". She thought she had made love before, having felt the touch of many different men, and how her body responded to that touch. She had thought that that had been some sort of love.

But it hadn't. It had just been lust and the euphoria of sexual release, a relief from the somber troubling world she lived in. It was just sex, with no emotion involved, no feeling. That's how it had been like for her with most of her boyfriends. She had hid in those relationships, with men she didn't love. It was her way of coping, of surviving. And Kate had continued to do it, hiding in a relationship, even when she was in love with another man, denying it, not wanting to trust herself—or him, for that matter—to take a chance and risk her heart.

And then, one night, after a particularly difficult case—and no small degree of help from alcohol—Kate had given in to her desires and suppressed feelings, and had had sex with Castle. And though it had been drunk and sloppy, it had been the best sex of her life, igniting within her the spark that had been missing for so many years. Since then, the idea of love and sex were no longer separate, but unified, together, entwined as one single thing. And always… always with one man… with Castle.

Because with Castle, it was different than any other man. It was more than just her physical form he was loving. Kate felt kind of sappy for it, but she believed that when Castle touched her, made love to her, he also touched her soul. It was all of her that he loved, not just her body. Which, now, being heavily pregnant, feeling about the burst, was very comforting. Not once, during her long months of growing and changing had his desire for her waned. To him, no matter how big or gross she felt, she was always beautiful, sexy, and hot as hell.

Kate blinked her eyes slowly, smiling warmly at those thoughts and the memories attached to them. If she was honest with herself, the sex during these last few months of pregnancy had been some of the best she'd ever had, which was not what she'd expected. Her eyelids fluttered at a jolt of arousal danced up her spine, remnants of her erotic dream still tugging at her. But then she felt it… fingers, skilled and knowledgeable fingers, sliding along the apex of her legs, touching her growing wetness and spreading it along her folds and around her sensitive nerve bundle.

Arching her neck up and brushing back her sleep-matted hair, Kate glanced down to find Castle wide wake, his hand between her legs, touching her most intimately, as only he could.

"Castle…," she croaked out, voice still rough from sleep and the hint of growing arousal from his skilled ministrations. "What are you doing?"

His eyes flicked up once she'd spoken and a loving smile touched his lips. "Helping you relax."

She raised her eyebrows at him in surprise. "Relax? Castle, I was sleeping. How much more relaxing could I get?"

He bobbed his head, humming softly as he leaned down over her and pressed a kiss to her lips. Kate returned the kiss, closing her eyes and basking in the sweet intimacy of the moment, before flirting her eyes open and gazing back at him in confusion.

"Well, fingering me down there is not making me relaxed," she declared, breathily. "It's making me horny."

"It will help release your stress," he asserted, giving her a look that just about dared her to disagree.

"Castle…," she sighed his name, prepared to do just that. Kate felt like a sluggish elephant, and ready to pop at any moment. It's not that she didn't want this to continue to its logical conclusion, she just wasn't sure she was up for it so early in the morning. "Look, I know I sort of promised you last night that we could fool around this morning… but Castle… I'm not sure I have—"

"Kate," Castle cut her off, leaning down over her, his fingers continuing their slow and erotic movements between her legs. "Stop it, please. This is about you. Only you. Let me please you, Kate. Let me. You've pleased me so much, in more ways than I can say, and I'm an amazing wordsmith with numerous bestsellers to his name."

"But Castle…," her protestations was cut off and turned into a whimper when he slipped a finger inside her, curling it just right to touch her where she was most sensitive.

"No," he shushed. "Let me. Just lay back and enjoy, Kate." He dipped his head down and kissed her tenderly, with so much love and adoration that she had to blinked back tears from the depth of affection that was on display. "Besides," he added, his breath hot and moist against her neck. "Didn't Dr. Elam say something about sex helping to encourage labor?"

"Not exactly," she panted, her mouth stuttering as little moans escaped her throat. Castle had slipped another finger inside her while he'd been talking and was now pumping his hand a little harder. "But I don't care… don't stop." She gritted her teeth, and willed her hips not to move, but she couldn't help it. She was so wet and the tremors of sexual pleasure were rippling throughout her body with such intensity, that her hips wouldn't obey her. Kate swayed her hips, matching the pumping of his fingers.

Castle grinned down at her, flicking his thumb over her clit as he drove his fingers deeper. Kate squirmed and moaned, feeling her body come alive with glorious sensations. It didn't take long for that tight coil to unwind and release. He pressed a wet kiss to her neck, flirting his tongue out across that sensitive spot behind her ear, pushing her over the edge. She shattered around his pumping fingers, squeezing at them as they moved back and forth inside her.

He moved his mouth over hers, stifling her moan as he continued to work her wetness with his hand. His tongue slipped between her parted lips and Kate felt herself tightening again. Her out of control hormones made it easy to have multiple orgasms in one session, not that that had ever been a problem with Castle, but this was getting a little ridiculous.

"So beautiful, you're so beautiful," Castle chanted against her gasping mouth, nibbling at her quivering lips.

She shattered again, her entire body rippling with the delights that came with sexual release as a result of his skilled touch. "God, Castle," she moaned, moving one hand to clutch his arm as he slipped his fingers out her, cupping her thrumming heat in his palm. "That… oh… that was amazing," she purred, dancing her fingers up and down his forearm. She smiled up at him, dreamily. "You certainly have a way with fingers."

Castle grinned mischievously at her, bringing his hand up in front of him, and wiggled his fingers, still slick and dripping with her arousal. "Writer's touch," he explained. She hummed in agreement, watching with hooded eyes as he brought his fingers to his mouth and slowly licked his fingers clean.

Kate shuddered, her mouth dropping down as she groaned in want. She arched her neck and glared down at her enlarged belly. "God, I can't wait until these two vacate the premises so we can fuck like wild animals again."

Castle let out a low chuckle. "We can still fuck, Kate," he said, pressing against her side, letting her feel just how aroused he was.

She pouted, "But not like we did before I got so big." She sighed, biting her lower lip. "I just want to go wild, take it hard up against a wall, wrapped around you until there is no space between us and it's like we're just one body moving together in fluid motion."

"I know, Kate," he assured her, caressing her thigh, and dipping his head down to drop a kiss on her bare shoulder. "And we will."

"Promise?" she asked, gazing up at him with large pleading eyes.

"Promise," Castle said, moving a hand to cup her sensitive breast and tease her nipple. His grip on her hip tightened. "No roll over onto your side."

"Why?" she asked, though she went willingly, shifting over onto her side with her back to him.

Castle hummed in thought, playfully slapping her ass. "If you have to ask, maybe we should just get up and have breakfast—"

"No… no," she shook her head, moving fully onto her side, cradling her belly in her arms, and wiggling her backside up into his hips, feeling his erection press against her buttocks. "I'm not hungry." Kate arched her neck over her shoulder and gave him a salacious grin. "You wanted to please your wife, didn't you, Mr. Castle? You're off to a good start, don't stop now."

He chuckled, and wrapped his arms around her, melding his chest and hips to her back and the curve of her ass and legs. Kate groaned, pushing back into him as he swayed his hips against her, rubbing his throbbing erection against her soft backside. He dropped a kiss on her shoulder, moving one hand down between their heated bodies.

Kate eased her legs open for him, and he gripped his length in his hands and guided it to her. He rubbed himself against her wetness, coating him in her slickness, before he pushed past her folds, filling her like only he could. She groaned, and arched back into him, clutching her belly as Castle gripped her hips, pushing all the way inside her, pelvis smashed up against her ass. He paused, smoothing his hands up and down her arms and legs she settled, adjusting to his quick intrusion into her slippery core. Then slowly, ever so slowly, he began to thrust back and forth, in and out. Her eyelids fluttered as the sparks of euphoria began to ignite within her.

"Yes, yes, yes…," she panted. It felt like it had been ages since she'd felt him inside her, even if it hadn't been that long ago. It was not exactly easy to find positions to make love in now that she was in her final weeks of her pregnancy. Kate was pleased that the rapid approach of the end hadn't dimmed her sex drive, as she had feared. She did feel sluggish and slow, but Castle never once complained. He loved her anyway she allowed, and he was very willing to experiment at finding just the right ways to make her lose control.

Castle moved a hand down the swell of her belly, slipping it down between her parted thighs, finding her wet and slick. He touched her, feeling her stretch and quiver with each one of his thrusts. Moving his fingers around, he easily found her most sensitive spot. He rubbed his thumb in circles around her as he continued to rock his hips against her ass. Kate shuddered, feeling beautiful and loved.

Kate tilted her head, lips quivering, panting breaths coming out as she called for him. Castle scooted closer, tightening his hold around her as he pressed deeper into her, sealing her mouth with his in a passionate and fierce kiss as she fell over the edge, taking him with her.


Kate woke up with a start. Her eyes flicked across to the other side of the bed, surprised when she found it empty. After their morning lovemaking, she had fallen asleep in Castle's arms. She had expected to wake up again still in them, warm and safe in his embrace. But he was gone, and the sheets on his side of the bed were cold.

Pushing up on her elbows, Kate rubbed a hand over her face, attempting to scrub away the cobwebs of dreamland. Tossing the duvet aside, she heaved up to a sitting position, groaning slightly at the soreness between her legs. Still, it brought a smile to her lips. She missed the feeling. Putting her hands on the curve of her swollen belly, Kate smoothed out soft patterns into the taut skin as she felt another Braxton Hicks contraction hit her.

"Sorry, little ones," Kate cooed, taking it as a sign that the twins had been disturbed. "Mommy and Daddy got a little carried away. But it's okay. It's only because they love one another so much." She brushed back her tousled hair, and glanced at the digital alarm clock, noting that it was midday. Okay, so their early morning delight had worn her out more than she'd expected. Not that she was complaining.

Puffing out a breath, she pushed herself up off the edge of the mattress and shuffled over to the chest of drawers. Rummaging through them, she pulled on some back boy shorts and matching bra, before finding some dark gray leggings and a oversized navy blue NYPD gym t-shirt. Dressed, Kate tied her hair into a loose ponytail and padded out of the bedroom in search of her missing husband.

The office was empty, and his laptop closed and cold, nothing to indicate he'd gotten up to write. Kate furrowed her brow, uncertain where to look next. Normally when she'd wake up alone in bed, especially after they'd made love, it was inspiration that had struck and Castle just had to write it down before it floated away. Biting her lower lip, she slipped out into the open living space, and glanced towards the kitchen. Nope. Not there either. He wasn't in the living room, or in the lounge.

Okay. Now she was confused. If he wasn't writing, the next best place to find him would have been the lounge, as that's where she'd made him move his Xbox. He'd accidently woken her up when she'd been taking a nap, and she was none too happy about that. He had apologized profusely, giving her a nice quickie to make up for it (the man did have a talented tongue), and then she made him move the accursed gaming console to the lounge, which was gratefully located on the other side of the loft, the farthest away from the bedroom as one could get on the first floor.

First floor.

That got her thinking. The loft had two stories. If Castle wasn't on the first floor, then he could very well be upstairs. Turning in place, she made her way across the living room and gripped the handles along the staircase as she climbed up each step, taking her time. It had gotten harder going up stairs now that she was in her final weeks. Kate had thought having one baby growing inside her would have been difficult, but two was much worse.

Reaching the landing, she heaved in a deep breath, feeling her heart pound with the exertion. It made her feel weak and pathetic, feeling so exhausted after simply climbing up the stairs to the second floor of her home. It shouldn't be like this, but it was. Sighing in frustration, Kate put her hands over her belly, caressing the round swell as the twins made their protestation. God, it felt like she was cramping, similar to her time of the month, but different. Ignoring it, she arched her neck, glancing down the hall, and smiled in relief, spying the ray of light coming from a door standing ajar halfway down the hallway.

The nursery.

Kate gently eased the door open and slipped inside, not wanting to startle her husband. She found him sitting cross-legged in the center of the room, gazing up at the painted wall and twin cribs, looking lost in thought. She slowly drew her lower lip under her teeth, wondering if maybe she should just leave him alone to his contemplation, but then he turned his head and spotted her.

"Kate," he gasped out in surprise, jumping up to his feet and in a flash joining her by the doorway.

"Sorry," she dropped her head bashfully. "I didn't mean to interrupt. I… I just… I woke up and you weren't there."

He gave her a contrite expression and brushed a hand down the side of her face before dipping his head down and giving her a quick kiss. She slipped her arms around his torso and buried her head in his chest, closing her eyes as she basked in his presence, once again feeling that warmth and security she so missed when she had woken up to an empty bed.

"I was just thinking of Alexis," he explained. "I was so terrified of being a father. But then the doctor handed her to me. There she was, this tiny little human in my hands, looking so beautiful… I fell in love immediately. I knew then that I wouldn't change anything, not when I got her."

"I can't wait for that feeling when I finally get to see the twins," Kate said, leaning back to look at him. She smiled softly and caressed the side of his face. "You are an amazing father to Alexis."

"It wasn't easy," he admitted, lowering his brow in memory of those early days, when Alexis was still an infant. "Meredith freaked out the first time Alexis cried when she was holding her. She just couldn't handle it. She kept saying how her body had been ruined and that she'd never be the woman she was before. She wouldn't even breastfeed our little girl. I had to do it all on my own, feed, change, bathe. Mother helped out where she could. It was the most difficult challenge in my life, and I'm still not sure if I'm ready to do it again."

"Oh, Castle," Kate sighed, soothing him with a quick embrace and a brief kiss. "Don't sell yourself so short. You did great with Alexis. But this time it'll be different. I promise you."

"How will it be different?" he questioned, appearing to be quite genuine in his confusion over how such a thing was possible.

"Because this time you won't be alone," Kate asserted, voice firm and confident, squeezing his hand in reassurance. "There's no way I'm letting you raise our babies alone, Castle."

His face brightened, and he gazed down at her with such love that her heart clenched with joy. Castle gripped her face in his large hands and kissed her, slow and deeply. She could feel the tension from before fading away, and she eased into him, reciprocating the kiss.

She felt a curious sensation in her lower abdomen, and then suddenly her leggings started to soak with something warm and wet emanating from between her legs. And it wasn't like she'd accidently peed in her pants, but caught herself before it was too late, oh no… it was like a flood. Oh God… did… did her water just break? How the hell did she not notice that she was going into labor? In retrospect, she could see the signs. But with all her false alarms recently, she'd chosen to ignore the warnings.

"Kate?" Castle questioned, stepping back to look at her oddly.

Her face flushed with mortification as he noticed the gush of wetness soaking her leggings. He furrowed his brow and looked up at her.

"What is it?"

"God… I… I think it might have worked," was all she could say, stumbling over her words, still trying to wrap her head around what had just happened.

"What?" he was confused, no doubt about that. Castle stared at her with a mixture of puzzlement and concern. "What worked?"

"The sex," she grunted out. "It worked!"

"How did it work?"

God, he really was a dolt sometimes. She grabbed his arm, squeezing his bicep tightly. "Castle… oh… god, Rick… I think it's time."

But yet again, he seemed unclear as to her meaning. "Time? Time for what!?" he grabbed her shoulders, staring into her eyes with an intensity and concern that made her want to sob. Stupid hormones! He rubbed his thumbs affectionately against her shoulders. "Kate, honey, you're not making any sense."

"Damn it, Castle! How stupid can you be?" she shouted at him, all but growling in frustration. "My water just broke, you jerk, and you're just babbling on about not understanding what's going on. Well, buddy, get it together, because this isn't a false alarm!"

"So you're sure it's not Braxton Hicks?" Castle asked slowly, as if he was talking to a child.

She narrowed her eyes and fixed him with a glare that nearly had him cowering back in fear. "I wouldn't be standing in wet leggings if it was, Castle!" she growled out.

He gulped. "Okay. Definitely not Braxton Hicks," he bobbed his head in agreement. "We… we should get to the hospital… like… like now!"

Looking panicky, Castle rushed past her and bolted out the door. She stood there, stunned, shifting uncomfortably in her soaked leggings. It only took a moment for Castle to reappear, looking apologetic.

"Forgot something?"

"Sorry," he mumbled out, as he came up beside her and offered his hand.

She took it, gripping it harder than was required, just to reprimand him for his minor transgression of leaving the room without her. To be honest, Kate was kind of surprised he was so panicky. She would have thought that after going through Alexis's birth and then all her false alarms, this would have been old hat to him. Apparently, she was mistaken.

By the time they reached the stairs, she could already feel the contractions—the real contractions—start in. She fell back onto the breathing lessons from the Lamaze classes. Castle helped her down the stairs and back into their bedroom. He nudged her into the bathroom. She went numbly, focusing on her breathing and counting the seconds between each contraction. By her count, they didn't have to rush, but Kate was more than willing to indulge Castle on that. There was no way she was going to risk giving birth in anyplace other than the hospital under the supervision of Dr. Elam.

Castle returned with an old pair of sweatpants she'd picked out exactly for this reason. In his other hand was her cell phone. He handed it to her. She quickly dialed Dr. Elam and told her the news. Castle stripped her of her ruined leggings and boy shorts, and she just stood there, listening to Dr. Elam's instructions, letting him handle the process of cleaning her up and redressing her in clean clothes.

The rest was sort of a blur. Somehow she got a pair of ballet flats on, and then they were out the door, riding down the elevator, with Castle tapping his foot impatiently, like he was the one about to explode. She'd have to admit, the drive to the hospital was a little terrifying. Kate was looking forward to when she was behind the wheel again. Not that she was saying Castle was a bad driver, far from it. She just liked being in control. And he wasn't helping his case with his crazy driving right now.

Dr. Julie Elam met them at the nurse's station, having arrived a few minutes before them, and soon Kate was in a room being prepped for the final show. Castle dumped their duffel bag in the chair, and Kate let out a sigh of relief that in his panicked rush, he hadn't forgotten it. She'd spent months preparing that duffel bag. It would have been so very vexing if it had got left behind. She was just being eased down onto the bed, when Castle came up beside her and squeezed her hand.

"I'm just going to pop out for a moment and call everyone, let them know it's happening," he breathed out, looking both nervous and excited.

She gave him a smile and squeezed his hand. "Hurry back," she said.

"I will," he asserted, leaning down to kiss her, before darting out of the room, phone pressed to his ear.


"I look ridiculous," he huffed, standing next to her, covered in the same protective surgical clothing that all the doctors and nurses were.

The time had come. The twins had kept them up all night, and Kate had been struggling with the labor. It was close to four in the morning, and it was finally time. God, she couldn't wait. She just wanted them out of her already.

"Nah," Kate shook her head, and smiled through the contraction. "You look kind of cute, Rick."

"Makes you want me, doesn't it?" he leaned close, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

She pursed her lips together, trying not to laugh. He grabbed her hand and laced theirs fingers together. Kate licked her lips and glanced down, noticing the gesture.

"You're sure you want to do that?" she asked. Castle nodded. "Okay. But don't say I didn't warn you."

"Considered me warned," he murmured, leaning over to press a kiss to her lips. She closed her eyes and thought of the feeling of his silken lips against hers, ignoring the pain of the contraction. Her face was drenched in sweat, and Castle kept insisting how beautiful she was.

"Stop, you'll make me blush," she forced out a chuckle, trying to focus on their banter and not on all the people currently looking between her legs. There was something inherently embarrassing about giving birth. It was the one time, other than her regular gynecology visits, that someone other than her husband got to view her intimate bits.

"Well, it's the truth," Castle asserted, caressing the side of her face with his free hand.

"I'll take you're word for it, Mr. Castle," she grunted, squeezing her eyes shut as a more intense contraction hit her. It rippled throughout her body, and she couldn't help but let out a tiny cry.

Castle tugged on her hand. "Look at me," he said softly, voice low and commanding. "Focus on me."

"I am," she huffed, tilting her head against the pillow and glaring at him.

"I love you," he said. "You're so fierce and brave."

Tears threatened her eyes as his words had the opposite effect than he had obviously intended. A sob broke out of her throat, and she clutched his hand tighter. "Oh, God, Castle…," she cried. "I wish she was here."

"I know," he soothed, moving his hand down her face, the pad of his thumb caressing her cheek. "I know. She'd be so proud of you. Like I am. She may not be here physically, but she's here in spirit."

"Do you think so?"

"I know so," Castle asserted, firm in his conviction. "She's always been with you, Kate. She never left you. As long as you carry her in your heart and remember her love, then she'll always be with you."

Kate sobbed, fighting through both her grief and the pains of childbirth. She glanced into the sincere and loving eyes of her husband, searching for any traces of deception. But she found none. She believed him. She believed him with her whole heart. And then, at that moment, she could feel her. She wasn't really there, but Kate could swear that she felt her mother's presence, soothing and reassuring her.

You can do it, baby girl. Your Mommy believes in you.

Long lost words from her childhood floated through her mind. She recalled her mother encouraging her younger self as she cautiously pushed the peddles on her brand new tricycle, learning to steer the new toy down the sidewalk for the first time, her mom and dad walking briskly behind her, never far or out of reach. It was a balm to her soul, that memory. And Kate let the feeling flow through her as she prepared herself for the moment she'd once given up on… becoming a mother.

Dr. Elam was calling her name, and Kate blinked her eyes, returning to the present. She felt a rippling sensation course through her body, and knew that it was time.

"Alright, Kate… it's time," Dr. Elam said, leaning down between her legs. "I need you to push for me. Push."

Kate gritted her teeth and clutched Castle's hand. Her back arched as she pushed with all her might. She wanted to scream so badly, but it was clogged up in her throat, strangled by the pain. I thought that damn epidural was supposed to help with that! she thought.

"Good, Kate," Dr. Elam called out. "You're doing great."

Kate bobbed her head absently, closing her eyes as she tried to envision her mother there, standing on her other side, encouraging her on, just as she had when she was a little girl. Castle squeezed her hand and murmured soothing words. His hand brushed across her brow, and was enough to pull her away from her fantasy. Kate gulped down a lungful of air, and gave him a weak smile.

Dr. Elam's firm voice broke through her fogged mind, and Kate clenched her jaw, obeying the instructions given to her. She cried out, the sound seeming to roar throughout the delivery room as her body rocked with the effort. She squeezed Castle's hand tighter as she felt a pain like no other, and she screamed, pushing with all her might. But then Dr. Elam was shouting for her to push again, and she did. And the pain was gone. Then, very faintly, she heard the cries of her firstborn.

The child wailed with gusto, and for a moment, a solitarily wonderful moment, Kate was a tease, cast adrift in an instant of bliss. She was a mother. She had a child, born of the love she shared with Castle, and from the strength of those screams, the first of the twins was healthy and strong. Kate breathed deeply, chest heaving as she glanced towards Castle. His eyes were averted, looking down towards her legs.

"Oh, Kate… she's beautiful," came Castle's voice, answering her unspoken question.

"Rebecca?" she gasped out the name they'd selected for their daughter.

"Yes," Castle bobbed his head, turning back to her, tears in his eyes. "And she's perfect, Kate. She's so perfect."

Kate propped herself up and gazed down at the foot of the birthing bed, watching as Dr. Elam held up a wrinkly red-faced newborn, mouth wide, a high pitch scream emanating from her tiny, yet powerful, lungs. The nurse swooped in, assisting with severing the umbilical cord. The task had been offered to Castle, but he'd declined, saying something along the lines that it was "too messy" and that "once was enough."

And then, before she knew it, the nurse was coming around with the little pink thing in her arms, all wiggly and slick. Kate gazed upon the little creature with awe and wonder. The nurse smiled and placed the squirming baby on Kate's chest, giving her a moment to bond with her daughter.

"She's so beautiful, Castle," Kate cried, unable to take her eyes off the gorgeous little human wailing against her chest. She couldn't believe it. She'd done it. She'd made this little being with Castle. Rebecca was a mixture of her and Castle. And she was perfect. Kate smiled, her heart swelling with joy. She didn't know she could ever be this happy.

All too soon the nurse was lifting the wiggling newborn off her chest.

"What!? No," she strangled out, wanting her baby back.

"It's okay, Kate, I can see her," Castle assured her, squeezing her hand. "They're just washing her."

Kate bobbed her head, feeling overwhelmed by the experience. She had expected a little bit more time than that. A scowl formed over her face as she arched her neck to search for her daughter, wanting Rebecca back. She hadn't even been able to touch her yet. But before she could even look around, Kate felt a shift down below, and grimaced, figuring it must be her son turning into position. Castle brought up a cool washcloth and wiped away the sweat that was dripping down her forehead and stinging her eyes.

"Alright, Kate, here we go again," Dr. Elam said, taking a deep breath before shifting back down between Kate's legs. "Push."

Kate's head fell back into the cushions as she screamed, focusing all her energy on bringing her second child into the world.

"You're amazing, Kate," Castle reassured her, a soothing hand rubbing up and down her arm, helping to calm her. She honestly did not know what she'd do without him by her side.

"Okay, Kate. Again… push," Dr. Elam instructed.

Kate cried, tears running down her face as she tensed her muscles and pushed, willing her son to come.

"He's crowning," Dr. Elam said. "Now the shoulders. One more big push, Kate. You can do it."

Clenching Castle's hand in hers, Kate pushed, her heart hammering in her chest, breath clogged in her throat. There was but a moment's pause after her final push before the powerful burst of screams filled the room. Castle let out a cry of joy and turned towards her.

"You did it, Kate. He's here, and he's beautiful," he said, tears of happiness running down his face.

Kate breathed deeply, blinking her eyes and taking a moment to collect herself. Castle dabbed the cool washcloth against her forehead again, and she sighed with gratitude. She knew a nurse could have done that, but she was pleased he'd taken the job himself. No one could soothe or comfort her the way Castle could. And without her mother there, she only wanted it to be Castle.

Rebecca was already bundled into some swaddling cloth, and enjoying the comfort of her father's arms, when the nurse presented them with their son. Kate laid back against the pillows, exhausted, but in rapturous awe of the little wrinkly-faced boy being placed on her chest. He was small, smaller than his twin sister, but that was to be expected. But his lungs were powerful. She smiled, bringing a shaky hand up to palm his little back, feeling the warmth of his brand new skin.

"Oh," tears leaked out of her eyes. "He's gorgeous, Castle. And he looks just like you."

"Handsome devil, isn't he," Castle smirked, gazing at her and his son with complete adoration. He scooted closer, holding Rebecca up so she could see her brother. "I know you two have spent nine months bumping heads, but you've yet to be formally introduced." Kate bit her lower lip at his proper and prim dictation, enjoying the show of Castle the father. "Rebecca Johanna Castle… meet Jonathan James Castle."

"Hi, Johnny, Mommy loves you." Kate said, smiling down at her son. She glanced back at Rebecca, who was squirming in Castle's arms. "And Mommy loves you too, Rebecca." Her eyes flicked up to Castle and she gave him a tired smile. "They're both so beautiful. Thank you."

"Thank you?" Castle repeated, giving her questioning look. "Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you. You did all the work."

Kate chuckled softly, rubbing Johnny's back. "Well, I wouldn't have been able to without you, Castle." She swallowed down the rising emotions as she glanced up at him. "I love you. Thank you for loving me."

"I couldn't stop, even if I tried… and I won't," he grinned, waggling his eyebrows. "You're stuck with me, Detective. I'm completely and utterly in love with you and these two beautiful babies."

She smiled at him, and beckoned him with her eyes to come closer. He obeyed, leaning over to kiss her. When he pulled back, he dropped a kiss on Johnny's head and then Rebecca's, not leaving her out of the kisses.

A nurse came over to take Johnny away to be cleaned and weighed, and Kate nodded, letting her do her job. She rested her head back against the cushions and gazed up at Castle, watching as he cradled Rebecca close to his chest. The little girl was mewling softly and nuzzling into him.

"I felt it," Kate blurted out, pulling Castle's eyes away from their daughter. When he hummed in question, she continued. "That instant love you told me about. When the nurse placed Rebecca and Jonathan on my chest for the first time, I felt it. I love them, Castle. I love them so much."

Castle smiled at her. "I knew you would." He leaned over and pressed a kiss to her lips, lingering a little longer than before.

Kate sighed, feeling the exhaustion begin to sink it. "Told you," she murmured.

"Huh?" he blinked, confused.

She smiled lazily up at him. "I told you that next time it would be for real."

"That you did, Kate," Castle agreed, his smile warm and loving. "That you did."

Later, when it was all done, and Kate had been cleaned and given some time to rest, she woke to find Castle sitting in the chair beside her bed, a babe tucked in each arm. Kate shifted up into a sitting position and held out her arms, wanting to hold her babies. Castle pursed his lips, and gently deposited the twins into her waiting embrace.

Kate cradled them to her chest, lost for words. Castle stood next to her bedside, beaming with sheer joy. She looked up at him and smiled wide, all teeth and gum, so happy. So very happy. He brought a hand up and brushed back her arm, and she closed her eyes, easing into his touch.

"We have some visitors," he announced. "Everyone is dying to meet the new arrivals. Want me to let them in?"

"In just a moment," she said, turning to look back down at her babies, Rebecca and Jonathan. "But first I want to spend some time with just us. Join me."

He grinned, as she carefully scooted over, providing him with room to join her on the bed. Castle crawled in beside her and she handed him Jonathan. He held his son and smiled at Kate as she held Rebecca. She returned his smile and gaze, feeling her heart swell with all the love she had for this man and the children he gave her. She tilted her head up and captured his lips in a sweet kiss, relishing every second of this moment of just the four of them. Their little family.

Three years ago, Kate would never have imagined that she would one day find herself married to, yet alone bearing the children of her favorite mystery novelist. But here she was, happily married with two beautiful babies. She felt loved and blessed. Her life had seemed so dark and depressing that she would never have guessed that it was all just a minor part, a step along the road to what truly mattered. Castle had been a completely unexpected element, one she had never saw coming. But she wouldn't change any of it.

Kate felt whole and complete for maybe the first time in her adult life. And she owed so much of that to him… to his enduring and steadfast love. He had proven to be worth the risk she'd so feared he'd be. Her heart was so full of love for him that it was almost unreal, like a dream. But he was still there, after all they been through, he never left, never gave up. Throughout it all, he stood by her side and supported her, gave her courage to be more.

Life was made up of moments. In one, she was alone and desolate, lost. In the next, she was happy and complete, loved.

It was a funny thing, how fate worked. It never did as expected.

The End

*A/N: First off, just wow. I seriously had some doubts there as to whether or not I'd ever finish this story. This was my first ever multi-chapter Castle fanfic and it was an amazing ride, which I thank you all for joining and supporting. I started this story back in June 2011, and finish it now in January 2014… that's a long time. I could have kept going, extending and dragging everything out, but this just felt right. And I needed to give it an end before it became a long neglected story. I thank you for all the alerts, favs, and reviews encouraging me to keep going at it. It has been a pleasure.