A/N: I added this to the Shotgun story a while ago, but, having written the Epilogue for this story, it seemed to make sense to add this here. So, if you have read it in the Shotgun story, there's nothing new here. I just wanted a sense of completion.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Castleverse. Sad but true.
Rick was a sickly green colour and there were beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead.
'C'mon, Kate, we've got to go!'
'Ok, ok, I'll be right there. Chill out, Writer Boy.'
'Chill out! I hardly think this is the time for relaxing! We should have been there ages ago! Why didn't you tell me earlier…..'
'We've been over all this. I wanted to stay here for as long as possible. Why wait in some anonymous room when you can stay in the comfort of your own home?'
'But what happens if something goes wrong? Or the traffic's bad? Or the car breaks down? Or…'
'Jeez, do you have to be Worst Cast Scenario Guy? Where's Mr Optimistic? Mr 'It's Always Sunny in Rickedelphia'? It will be fine, the traffic will be fine, the car will be fine, I'm fine.'
And, despite the occasional wince of pain and being unable to walk at her normal brisk pace, she did look fine. In fact, she looked glowing and happy, something Rick had not ceased to wonder at over the last few months. Was there nothing that could make Kate look anything less than gorgeous?
Pulling out his cell phone for what seemed to be the hundredth time, he grimaced at the lack of new messages. 'Where the hell is that car? I called them hours ago! I said you should have let me drive you.'
'You called them exactly 10 minutes ago. It'll be here. And the last thing I need is a hyper, overanxious Richard Castle trying to drive through New York at rush hour. The town car is more comfortable anyway. '
She was calm, serene, peaceful, the eye of the storm that was Rick Castle, who could not stop pacing around the apartment, returning to where she was sitting every minute to check on her. Kate could not help smiling at her man, annoying as he was being. He usually seemed to take everything in his stride, with confidence, insouciance and that famous Castle twinkle. Not this time. He was a nervous wreck.
He leaped like a startled deer when his phone dinged. 'It's nearly here. Let's get you downstairs.'
With that he went to help her to her feet, something that she accepted with good grace, as her current size made manoeuvrability hard. They made their way down to the lobby, with Rick hovering over Kate's every step, until she felt compelled to whack him lightly round the head. 'What have I told you about treating me like I'm made of glass? I'm not dying or even ill. I'm pregnant.'
He looked guilty but also unrepentant. 'I can't help it. I just love you so…'
'No mushy stuff! Let's just do this and you can be all lovey dovey later.' She lessened the seeming harshness of her words by picking up the arm that was around her shoulders and planting a soft kiss on the back of his hand.
As they stepped out of the glass doors, a sleek black town car drew up in front of the building. Edgar, the driver, who had often driven them before, was surprised when Rick Castle, famous among the drivers who worked for this particular car service for being generous, polite and pleasant, almost snarled at him when he got out of the limousine to open the doors for them. 'About time! What took you so long?'
As the writer did not seem to be waiting for an answer, being too busy trying to help his wife into the car, Edgar did not bother to say anything. An indulgent smile showed briefly on his face as he looked at the tall, beautiful woman, slender as a reed, apart from her large, rounded stomach. Having been through it three times himself, he knew that prospective fathers could not be expected to remember their manners at a time like this.
As soon as they were both in the car, Kate stopped Rick as he was about to tell Edgar to leave. 'Haven't we forgotten something?'
Rick's eyes widened. 'Wha…..?'
'The bag, you idiot. The bag you've repacked seventeen times in the last week at least.'
He went an even paler colour. 'Oh, God, wait here. I'll be right back!'
With that, he jumped out of the car, nearly tripping over in his rush to go back to the apartment, causing Kate to roll her eyes.
When he returned, in less time than you would have thought possible for a man his age, he shoved the bulging overnight case into the car and leapt in after it, shouting at Edgar to drive off. The big black car moved smoothly off.
'Ever heard of the expression 'More haste, less speed', Rick? If you fell over and broke your leg or your neck, that might delay things a little, don't you think? And, by the way you're gasping for air, a heart attack might not be out of the question. Way to put a dampener on our child's first day in the world, big guy. '
She spoke sarcastically but nothing could hide the gleam of affection in her eyes. He was an idiot, but he was her idiot.
He had collapsed onto the seat next to her, trying to get his breath back. After a minute or so, he sat up, and pushed the leather bag more securely onto the seat opposite.
Kate looked at the enormous holdall in amusement. 'What exactly's in there, honey? I packed the basics ages ago, but every time I've looked at it, it seems to have grown bigger.'
Rick looked a little sheepish. 'Well, you know me. I like to be prepared. I want to make sure you have everything you need.'
'Hopefully, I'll only be in there for a couple of days. That looks enough for a Caribbean cruise!'
'I thought you might need…. stuff. You know, things to do. And nice things to eat. And a few changes of clothes. And baby things.'
'For a writer, your vocabulary is certainly slipping. What kind of 'things'?'
'Oh, you know, books, an iPad, games, lotion, candy, … stuff,' he ended, somewhat lamely.
'Yep, because I'm going to have a lot of free time in there.'
'Well, who knows how long the labour will be? It's only in movies where the woman pops the baby out in ten minutes, while still wearing her underwear!'
She laughed at that, but suddenly her face twisted. 'Ohhhh!' She flinched as another contraction ripped through her.
Immediately Rick moved closer to her, wrapped his arms around her and tried to hug the pain away. She put her hand up to his face, seeking comfort from his presence but also trying to reassure him that she was ok.
When the pain had subsided, she began talking again, trying to take that overwrought look off his face.
'You know, I'm the novice here. You've been through all this before. You'd think I'd be the one to be a basket case, especially as it's actually happening to my body, not yours. And you yourself said it could be hours yet.'
'Don't confuse me with your logic. Anyway, it's easy for you to say that, sitting there all glowy and Madonna-like, while I'm the one who feels completely useless and has to watch as his wife goes through a very difficult and painful ordeal.'
'EASY for me to say! Seriously, Rick? Seriously? Ever tried pushing a basketball out of your…' She didn't finish her sentence but twisted his ear in mock anger, unable to hide the smile on her face.
'Apples! Apples! Sorry, bad choice of words. I just mean that this is something out of my control and it's scary and I hate to see you suffer.'
'Honey, six billion people in the world clearly show that this is something that happens a LOT! And the vast majority of women have no problems. I've got the best medical care money can buy, that hospital suite is like a five star hotel and I'm fit and healthy. It'll all work out.' She took his hand as it restlessly played with the strap of the bag. She laid it on her huge stomach, and rested her hand on top.
'Junior here is a little impatient to come out, so he's a few days early, that's all. Well, no surprise there. He must take after Daddy.'
Rick could not help grinning at that, but, with a characteristic lightning change of mood, he glanced at his watch, looked outside at the busy streets, and realised that the traffic was moving at a glacial speed. He set his teeth in frustration and then pressed the intercom button.
'Edgar, what's taking so long? Do you really want Mrs Castle to have the baby in here?'
'Sorry, Mr C., but there's been an accident up ahead and we may be some time.'
The writer clutched at his hair, making it stand up in adorable confusion. 'Oh my God, what are we going to do?'
He fidgeted on his seat, his head looking from side to side at the chaos outside, and then back to his wife, leaning back against the seat cushions, with her eyes closed. He let his eyes rest on her for a moment, once again caught off guard by her loveliness and by the fact that she was his. His face softened and his blue eyes shone suspiciously brightly, overwhelmed as he was by the way his life had turned out.
Feeling his eyes on her, Kate opened hers and felt her heart swell at the expression on his face. She put her hand on his arm and drew him back to her side. Lifting the arm over her head, she snuggled her face into his shoulder.
'We're going to stay calm. We still have time and Edgar's doing his best. Now, instead of freaking out, why don't you read Junior and me a story, to keep us occupied until we get there?'
Rick tightened his grip on her, and kissed the top of her shapely head. He then pulled out his phone. With a few taps on the screen, he called up a text stored there and began to read, in his rich, warm voice.
'There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid..…'
'That's your choice? The Velveteen Rabbit? You're such a sap.'
He looked a little hurt. 'Hey, it was one of Alexis' favourites!'
Kate relented and, leaning up to place a loving kiss on his jaw, she whispered, 'Mine, too. Good choice, Writer Boy.'
With that, she cuddled deeper into his side, gave a sigh and closed her eyes. As his deep, chocolaty brown tones washed over her, she knew that everything would be as it should be. In a few hours, there would be another addition to their family, another Castle male to cause mayhem and magic in the world. What more could anyone wish for?
Edgar edged the car slowly forward into a gap that had miraculously opened up in the traffic, just where he could turn off and take a shortcut to the hospital. He breathed a sigh of relief. No way did he want to be on the news as the chauffeur who helped deliver a famous writer's baby in the back of a limousine. He glanced in the mirror at the two in the back and smiled. Didn't they make the greatest couple? That was going to be one lucky baby.
A/N: NOW I think I am done with this story, though it does seem to have a life of its own! Thanks to Tiff, who got it all started, and to everyone who reviewed. I can't tell you how thrilling it has been to read all your comments. I know it was very fluffy. But I need that in preparation for Ep 1, as I think that will be traumatic on an epic scale!