Rewound Chapter Nine

By the time she turned the knob, nudged open the door, Kate's tears were nowhere in sight, boxed up tight with the rest of her emotions in the darkest, coldest basement of her heart. Those tears had left their mark though-a scarlet letter to show the world she had lost control. But it wasn't the world who would see her when she stepped outside Burke's office; it was the one person who would know exactly what those tracks of tears cost.

Castle.

As soon as he spotted her, his face fell, and he nearly jumped out of his seat to stand beside her. Though he scanned the damage, took in her posture, her stride, he didn't act on whatever his instincts seemed to be telling him.

There was no scene in the waiting room; there were no questions about what was wrong or what he could do in that still-public setting. His restraint surprised her, frankly; she had expected a more melodramatic reaction to her tear-stained cheeks, red-rimmed eyes, gravely voice. But instead of drama, he gave her a cryptic little smile, held out a hand, squeezed tight when she took it in hers, and led the way silently to the waiting car.

It was a quiet ride in the backseat, and he gave her space, but about halfway home, her need for contact finally won out, and she slid her hand across the seat to cover his. That small, inconsequential, completely momentous gesture drew his attention away from the scene out the window, but his gaze hesitated on their joined hands, studying their fingers clasped against the leather seat but venturing no further.

It wasn't until they were through his front door, toeing off shoes and sloughing off layers, that he turned to her, arms by his sides, and offered himself up, voice almost steady under the thin veneer of composure.

His arms opened ever so slightly, palms rotated to face her, in a gesture designed to inspire no pressure to comply, but which even she recognized as the final attempt of a desperate man.

"I don't know what happened, but I know what it takes to make you cry, so I'm here, whatever you need."

She needed three years of her life back.

She needed her mom.

But most of all, at that moment, she needed him.

And so she fell into those arms, their strength, their haven. They curved around her carefully, as though she might shatter at his touch, but she was made of stronger stuff-he ought to know that. Burying her nose against the cool skin of his neck, she caught her one useful arm around his ribcage, clutched a fist full of cotton shirt just shy of his spine, drew in a breath, slow and deep. God he smelled good. Aftershave, and body wash and just a hint of cologne all layered in with him. Her eyes squeezed tight, out of tears for the time being, seeking the respite of darkness.

As a rule, they didn't hug. Well, to be fair, she didn't hug; he probably hugged his daughter and mother all the time. But Kate could count on one hand the number of hugs she could remember sharing with him.

Despite everything she had forgotten since, she remembered how it felt to be in his arms-every second, every nuance. The spark of warmth beneath her cheek when everything else was so very cold. The dizzying rush of unexpected calm when she had been sure they would be flattened to the pavement, blown to pieces. Castle had been so very steady both times, his bulk surrounding her, protecting her, subsuming her.

And then there had been the kiss. That undercover ruse that she'd sworn had been real lodged in her memory. His hands in her hair, his lips seeking, engaging. Letting go of him that night had been one of the hardest things she had ever done. But there had been reasons: their friends, the job, her boyfriend.

But now... Now by every account, she ought to be hugging him, holding him, kissing him, and more. If only she could remember getting to this place, bridging that chasm of... what-fear? loneliness? formality-that had always existed between them.

After a moment of stiff contact, something changed in him; all his hard lines became liquid, curving, curling softness. His fingers splayed over her waist, the lowest dip of her spine, and his whole body bowed around her, taking her up, supporting her weight, physical, emotional.

His chest expanded, breath tickling warm against her neck on his exhale, and she felt the moisture wet her skin before she could tell he was crying.

For everything he had offered her since she awoke, confused and in pain, what had she offered him? Who had asked him if he was alright, if he needed anything, a touch, a kind word, some token of gratitude for his unending patience and care?

The man had been holding her up, literally and figuratively, shouldering every burden, protecting her and loving her for days, all with nothing in return. Enough. He deserved comfort; he deserved to be held just as much as she did, maybe more.

Pulling away, she felt his grip tighten, as if trying to keep her close. But she put only enough distance between them to see his face, let go of her hold on his shirt to bring her fingers to his cheek, catch the remnants of his silent tears.

At first he was horrified, face flushed in embarrassment at being caught crying. But he relaxed again when she smiled, threaded her fingers into his hair to smooth it from where it had rumpled against her neck.

Cupping the back of his head, she pulled him in close again, this time tipping her face up to keep their eyes locked.

"Hey."

He sniffed, slid his hands to wrap behind her upper arms, blinked purposefully.

"Hey."

"You want some dinner? It only takes one hand to order in."

Scrubbing that hand along his hairline, she kneaded the stiff muscles of his neck. The gesture, though completely foreign to her, seemed... right, somehow.

And it triggered something coiled tighter, deeper, to relax inside him. He let out a sigh, dropped the tension from his shoulders, leaned into her body, nudged his forehead into hers. His voice resonated at some unremembered frequency, settled into parts of her psyche she hadn't realized were dormant, woke them, soothed, comforted.

"I could eat." The words hardly mattered when he sounded like this. "What do you feel like?" His hands slid down, traced the curve of her lowest rib until his fingers met at the center of her back, interlaced, locked her to him with a perfect fit. The move was too practiced, too comfortable not to be theirs. And she finally let the last inhibition go, let herself feel the rightness of it, fill the space his strong arms defined, attempt to own it as she knew she had, and would again one day soon. "Chinese never gets old. Or there's a Thai place you like, good green curry."

"Really? I get green curry?"

His face didn't fall at the reminder. Maybe they were both getting better at taking things as they came.

"Oh, I forgot. That started after the great curry battle of 2013."

Squinting incredulously up at him through her lashes, she quirked half a grin, set him on the defensive.

"What? It happened-I swear. I even have pictures."

It did sound like something that would go on in the Castle household, what with all the stories of cooking experiments with his mom and Alexis, and of course she had once witnessed the laser tag. If she had really become part of this family, it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that she'd been roped into a Thai takeout competition. But Panang was always her go-to...

"Fine, Castle. I'll try it, but when I hate it, I'm just going to eat all your spicy noodles."

His lips clamped so tight their edges went white.

The mirth was practically bubbling over when she released him to go for her phone.

"Oh God, Castle, what are you, nine? Do not even say it."

Thumbing through her contacts, she marveled at how many were unfamiliar, spotted the Thai Garden easily enough under "restaurants." Peering over her shoulder, invading her personal space as always, he started in a whine, but ended in a sexy little huff near her ear.

"You set me up like that and then won't let me have my punch line? Kate Beckett, you are an incorrigible tease."

On another night, in that other life, something buried too deep for her to forget told her that he would have pulled her into bed, kissed her until all the hurt melted away, used his hands and lips and tongue to erase the memory of tears, the reasons for them. But this was not that night; this was not that life; so she clamped down on the fluttering in her chest and put the mask back on. Hoping the mirth she forced into her tone would hide the regret behind her words, she bumped back against his chest with her good shoulder and hit "call."

"Shh. I'm ordering. Go find those pictures."

# * # * # * #

She was naked beneath him. His body, a furnace enveloping her, warmed her chilled skin, his lips painted a hot, wet, path down her neck, over her collarbone, between her breasts. Light from a fire flickered, burnishing his skin, kissing the curve of his biceps as he held himself over her.

When his lips closed around her nipple, the sharp pique of pleasure radiated out in a simmering wave, overwhelmed every sense; she thought she might leave her body with the joy of just this.

He was working over her with such skill, the confidence of a lover who knew exactly how to make her sigh, how to force her breath to hitch in her lungs, her back to arch, her hips to rock against him.

This was unlike any of her fantasies, any of the dreams she had woken from, shaky and wanting and alone in her bed. The details were too clear: his dark outline against the glowing orange fire, the flicker of the candles, the smell of his skin, the feel of his hands, the scratch of his stubble.

He leisurely shifted to fill the void when she parted her thighs for him, content to snake his arms around her, pull her tight to his chest and breathe in her scent, nose buried in her hair just behind her ear.

Entwining her legs with his, she heard herself moan, wanton and impatient and unselfconscious, but he was in no rush.

Raising up on his elbows to look at her, the gentle bow of his lips framed his words.

"I love you."

They were no bedroom cliché. His soul was right there, shining in his eyes, luminescent in the darkness. His body slid into hers, fit so perfectly, stretched and pulled at every nerve.

When he leaned down to meet her mouth, she heard herself answer, lips brushing the words over his.

"Love you, too."

And then he began to move—slow, steady thrusts, angled just right, a tight circle against her at the end of each one. In this position, she had never been able to actually—but now, as his body arced above hers, she found her body clenching in time with the push of his hips, a curl of need already unfurling where their bodies met. Patience, practice, persistence seemed to be at play, because she couldn't remember ever having to work so little to feel so very much.

Leveraging up to meet him, to speed his pace, realization washed over her. He was reading her here, just as he did in every other situation. Familiarity, easy and warm and welcoming, held her in its steadying embrace. They were reading each other.

This was making love.

Her urgency spiked, and her hands encircled his back, fingers linking together to tug him tighter to her body. Muscles bunched beneath her palms as he drove harder inside her, and she felt the first flutters of her climax low in her belly.

His eyes widened as he processed the change in her, the way she stiffened, tightening up around him, waiting for that final spark to tip her over. And as he let go of the rigid rein on his own control, used all his force and weight and desire to find their release together, she felt the tether snap, cried out his name, let the pleasure spiral up, spill from every pore.

"Kate."

That single syllable fell from his lips as he came, spilling hot and wet inside her in time with her body's contractions, filling her full. As the intensity gave way to gentle aftershocks, she found herself pulling him down on top of her, wrapping her legs at his waist to hold him inside her, his head nuzzling into her shoulder, lips whispering his love into her ear.

The feeling of falling-free, terrifying, and bottomless-rushed through her consciousness. And then everything stopped, a jolting shock that tweaked her wrist. Had she cried out? She wasn't sure.

When her eyes opened, it was to cool, solitary darkness, broken only by the gray light filtering in through the blinds. His quiet breathing was the only sound in the room, even and not far from her ear. Turning, she found him curled on his side, facing her where she lay propped in her nest of pillows, one hand tucked under his cheek, the other curled around the edge of the blanket that spanned the distance between them.

The blood simmered hot in her veins, pulse skittered erratically, dancing on the treacherous edge of want. The sensation of his fingers moving over her body refused to fade, as her lungs filled awkwardly with not enough air.

Sliding her hand out from beneath the covers, she allowed it to hover over the soft spiky waves of his hair, barely brushing the tips, teasing herself with the reality of his nearness.

She wanted him.

The need was so acute, so overpowering, she had to shut her eyes against it. Her hand fisted and dropped to the pillow beside him, fingernails digging into her palm in an attempt to steel herself against her body's onslaught.

Counting steadily, she reached one hundred before her breathing smoothed out, two hundred before her heart slowed. No amount of counting would ease the sweet, torturous ache at her core.

With some measure of control in place, her mind began to rationalize.

It had just been a dream, spurred by seeing him half-naked after his shower the morning before, combined with the lingering tenderness of their evening. She had liked the green curry after all, almost as much as she had liked sitting with him on the couch, sharing a blanket, watching hours of Turner Classic Movies until they both dozed off. He had woken her with a gentle grip around her ankle, which had migrated up between his arm and his chest while they slept. Never much of a cuddler, Kate had to admit that the closeness of their quiet evenings hadn't felt claustrophobic. If anything, she was starting to look forward to-okay, enough. Fantasies about snuggling on the couch were not going to help her with her current situation.

With a bit more composure, she opened her lids again, found his still closed. A ripple of disappointment made her flinch, chastise herself for her ridiculousness. The last thing she needed was to throw his big, blue eyes into this situation, hopeful and deep and accommodating. He would do whatever she wanted, and at the moment, what she wanted would only make their impossible situation even more confusing. No, she didn't need to make this any more difficult. Instead, she settled for finding his hand, sliding her own inside it in place of the blanket. The warmth was enough. It would have to be enough, for now.

# * # * # * #

"So you haven't remembered anything yet? An image? A conversation?"

They were at the counter in the kitchen, drinking iced tea. Lanie, perfectly polished as usual, looked Kate up and down like she might be able to see straight through to the state of her memory.

Kate, on the other hand, had barely managed to direct Castle to pin her hair up into a messy bun that morning, and of course she was in yoga pants, the only type she could get into one-handed. She knew her best friend didn't care, but Kate missed looking put together. The giant cast on her arm probably wouldn't qualify as a fashion accessory, nor would it accommodate anything with a tight sleeve, so her wardrobe was understandably limited for the moment.

The look on Lanie's face was verging on concern, so she forced herself out of her reverie to answer, almost truthfully.

"No... I... there's really nothing. I remember fighting with Castle, and the night Roy died, and getting shot. Then I woke up in the hospital with a scar on my chest and a cast on my arm."

And then there was the most amazing sex dream of her entire life, but she didn't see why she should drag that out into the light of day at this point. Her eyes fell to her lap, fingers spun the ring hanging around her neck. Avoiding eye contact was her best option.

"What did the doctors say yesterday?"

Good, yes, talk about medical details.

"Everything with my wrist looks great. They'll change the cast next week."

"And your old buddy, Burke?"

"He made me think a lot."

That was entirely true, so she chanced a look up into soft brown eyes.

"He always does. As long as it's thinking in a good way, I don't have to kick his ass."

That won her a smile. The woman could be pushy, but she always had Kate's best interest at heart.

"It is. It helped. I can see why I liked him."

Sort of like taking your medicine-unpleasant in the moment, but made you feel better in the end.

"Did he have any advice about the memory?"

"No, he just said not to think about it too much. That it would come back on its own."

There was a sigh behind the manufactured lightness in her voice, but she couldn't hide it, not from Lanie. The woman turned on her stool to face Kate more fully, set down her drink.

"I did some reading this week about amnesia-shocking, I know, me, reading about live-people medicine. But I did find one interesting thing. It seems that some people start remembering things in their dreams."

Kate's grip on her tea tightened as her last sip went down the wrong way, sending her into a coughing fit that she was sure would draw Castle out of his office to check on her.

Perceptive as ever, Lanie immediately pounced.

"You have had dreams, haven't you?"

Damn it. There would be no denying it now. She felt the color rise in her cheeks just thinking about all that skin... No dwelling. There would be no dwelling on all that contact-enough.

"I may have had one. Last night. But I'm not actually sure it's a memory."

Lanie's eyes widened, then narrowed as one perfectly-manicured pointer finger extended in Kate's direction.

"Kate Beckett you are blushing, and there is only one kind of dream that makes you this nervous. You had a sex dream about Castle."

Busted. But the best defense was a good offense.

"Lanie! He is right there in the next room; he will hear you!"

She tried to keep her voice to a quiet, whispered screech, but her friend was having none of it.

"You mean you didn't tell him yet? You don't think it's important to mention that you might have remembered something, when the man has been waiting on pins and needles for days?"

At least she had lowered her volume by one order of magnitude.

"I can't exactly bring up a sex dream about him when I can't actually remember what it's like to have sex with him. It would be... awkward."

Her insides squirmed at the thought of it. What if this hadn't even been a memory, just a very detailed fantasy? Then she would be admitting that a significant part of her psyche just wanted to jump him. Immediately.

"Well, you didn't think telling me those kinds of details for the past two years was all that awkward. What? You think I didn't wheedle it out of you eventually?"

That caught Kate's attention. If she had shared those things with Lanie, she must have shared other things, too. And, unlike Burke, her friend would have no qualms about filling her in.

"Did I talk about... how I felt... about this? About him?"

Kate tipped her head toward the office in acknowledgement.

To her credit, Lanie switched out of sass mode at Kate's obvious change in tone.

"Oh, sweetie, of course you did. I know this has to be hard for you, not seeing how you got here from where you were, just getting thrown into the middle of this. He's a pretty overwhelming kind of guy."

From her tone, the ease with which these reassurances flowed, Kate had the feeling there had been other, similar conversations over the years. Lanie forged on, face now in doctor mode, all business and deadly serious.

"I've known you for a long time, and I have never heard you talk about any man the way you talk about Rick Castle. And it's more than that. The man walks into the room, and your whole face lights up. You're both so smitten with each other, it's disgusting."

So maybe she slipped back into sass pretty easily, but her words had seemed sincere.

"Really?"

Kate still had trouble with the idea that she would moon over any man.

"You started talking about having a family a few months ago. Kids, Kate. Your whole adult life you have run screaming from even the mention of kids. The idea of having a dog made you twitchy. Do you know that last month you asked me whether your OB had a good reputation for deliveries, so that you could switch before you and Castle started trying?"

Maybe it was the hormones, but she couldn't stop the rush of moisture that welled up. So she really had wanted this, was already planning for it. God, the relief flooded her heart.

Lanie was looking a little... wary of the waterworks, as though she wasn't quite sure how to respond to this new, emotional version of her usually stoic friend. That made two of them.

"I'm pregnant, Lanie."

The words just came out. It was so early, and there was no guarantee there wouldn't be a problem, after all, they had looked at the statistics, and almost half of all pregnancies fail. But frankly, she needed all the help she could get, and Burke's words were on repeat in her mind.

"You know you're only alone if you want to be."

Kate just hoped her friend would take the news calmly, not blow things out of proportion. After a beat of motionless silence, Lanie's jaw dropped, her hands reached out and clutched Kate's uncasted one.

"Oh my God... Kate... that's amazing. How did you-?"

She was looking at Kate's belly like maybe she had missed a bump on her way in.

"I don't think I even knew before this happened." She looked down to her cast. "Castle found out when he got to the hospital-they did a pregnancy test before they did anything else, apparently. The ultrasound put me at 4 or 5 weeks."

For all her usual snark, Lanie's eyes looked suspiciously shiny as she scooted closer.

"Are you okay? Are you feeling sick? Do you need anything? My sister swore the only thing that got her through was this fancy ginger ale." With every question, every phrase, her voice rose higher, words came out faster. "She was downing the stuff by the gallon for three months with all four of her kids. Every time she told me she was pregnant, I just bought her a couple cases of this British brand she loved-Fever-something-or-other. I'll order you some this afternoon."

So much for not blowing things out of proportion. It was kind of funny to watch her friend get so flustered. Lanie rarely rambled, but kids were not her specialty.

"I'm fine. Don't buy me a case of imported ginger ale."

The woman's eyes narrowed at her suspiciously.

"You know, the second the word 'fine' comes out of your mouth I stop believing anything you say."

Kate broke free of the vise grip her friend had on her one good hand and tucked it in against the abdomen in question. She was going to come out of this with another cast if she wasn't careful.

She pinned Lanie with her best death glare. She did not want cases of carbonated beverages arriving next week.

"My stomach is fine."

Lanie was suddenly all charm and placation, reaching for her tea, sipping it calmly, keeping her hands to herself.

"Okay, okay. No ginger ale. I guess what I'm really worried about is what's going on inside that bruised, scrambled noggin of yours. Raging hormones come with the territory, and they cannot be helping matters."

Her index finger tapped at her temple, mirroring the spot where Kate's bruise was turning a lovely shade of brownish green.

"I'm handling it."

"Of course you are, for now, but if you don't let that man help you, you're going to freak out eventually. Every pregnant woman does, some multiple times a day. It's just whether or not you're pig-headed enough to insist on doing it alone."

Why did she even bother paying Burke? Oh, right, yes, Burke didn't sass. Glancing over toward the office, she injected a little more resentment in her tone than she ought.

"I don't see 'alone' happening anytime soon."

Lanie's eyebrow nearly hit her hairline. Before she opened her mouth, her face was already radiating preachy sarcasm.

"And doesn't that make you a whole hell of a lot luckier than so many single, pregnant women in the world? Kate, Castle loves you. He would do anything for you. He has, more than once. Trust him. Take him at his word. And most importantly, trust yourself. You know him. Even three years ago, you knew him. You can do this, if you do it together."

Pausing, she laid one hand on Kate's knee, palm open, and gave it a little squeeze.

"Now, when do I get to take you shopping for maternity clothes?"

# * # * # * #

"Is there another... fireplace? Somewhere?"

Kate had been acting a little off all day, but now she sounded flat out nervous. Even from his spot at his desk, typing away on his laptop, he could tell she hadn't flipped a page of her book in the hour since Lanie left.

"Besides the one in the dining room? No."

What was she on to, asking about fireplaces, anyway?

"Why do you ask?"

Her eyes flicked up briefly from her lap, and he spotted... embarrassment?

"No reason."

Oh, there was definitely a reason. Probably a really good one. Why on earth would she think there was a fireplace... Huh...

"Well, there are three at the house in the Hamptons. What's going on, Kate?"

The book shut without her place being marked-tantamount to bibliophilic treason in his fiancé's mind. This was serious. But then, everything was serious these days.

"Nothing."

Hitting one final save, he closed the laptop and stood, stretching the kinks from his back. He studied her as he crossed to the couch.

Kate was lying.

The stiffness in her shoulders, the clench of her jaw, the tightness around her eyes were all classic tells.

Holding his tongue, he sat down, relied on the look he gave her, the grip on her ankle where it crossed the other, to convey his meaning. He had made her.

The book shifted to the table, her eyes to the wall just to the left of his face. Her ankle stayed put, and he thought that was a good sign. When her back straightened, shoulders squared off, eyes found his again, he knew he had her.

"I had a dream last night. There was a fireplace in it that I didn't recognize."

A dream? Oh, but maybe not just a dream. Maybe she...

"Do you remember anything about it?"

Her eyes squinted, lips pursed slightly in concentration.

"I think there was an... anchor? But that doesn't make any sense."

His heart fluttered and then clenched hard in his chest, because of course that made sense. That made the best kind of sense. Oh, please, God, let this be true.

He popped up off the couch and knelt at the bottom bookshelf near the bedroom door. One of these had it, he knew it was here somewhere... Yes, perfect. Pulling the heavy leather album out, he took it to the couch, where, meanwhile, she had turned to watch him, a quizzical expression on her face as he dashed around the room. He sat again, plastered up next to her, spread the book between their laps and flipped to the middle.

After the last remodel, his designer had shot photos of all the upstairs bedrooms. His finger trailed down over the clear plastic slots: Alexis', his mother's, the guest room... Flipping another page, he found it-the master bedroom. There was a great shot of the fireplace.

"Is this it? Is this the one from your dream?"

Blood pounded in his ears; his vision began to haze out around the edges as he turned his head to look at her.

Eyes wide, lips parted, she stared down at the photo. Was she holding her breath? And rather than pale, her cheeks were flushing a lovely shade of pink.

"Yes."

The world started to turn again with that one, breathy syllable. Though his voice shook a little, he thought he was remaining remarkably calm.

"That's the house in the Hamptons, Kate. I didn't take you there until a year and a half ago."

Her memory was coming back.

Frozen beside him, with one finger resting on the bottom corner of the photo, she still hadn't spoken.

"What else do you remember from your dream?"

Her voice was distant when she finally answered, still not meeting his gaze.

"I... I don't remember. It's all sort of fuzzy."

Carefully, he slid her hand away from the page, turned to the next one, with a shot of the living room, and the front of the house, the view out the back door to the ocean.

"Do you remember any of these? You've been there enough times that you've seen every inch of the place."

Scanning the photos, she shook her head slightly.

"No. Just the one room."

The flush was now suffusing her neck, spreading down to her chest. And her pupils had gone wide.

"What happened in that dream?"

Panic-this was panic-the white knuckles where her fingers gripped her knee, the controlled intake of air through flared nostrils.

"I don't... I'm not..."

Did she not remember he could tell when she was lying? Blinking hard, he thought back to their early years. Sometimes she had just needed a little extra shove. He remembered exactly what happened, or didn't happen, if he left that Kate to her own devices: she lied to him for a year. So he nudged.

"That's our bedroom, Kate. Were we...?"

Grunting in exasperation, she stared straight ahead and came out with it.

"Sex. We were having really amazing sex, in front of a roaring fire."

He didn't take the time to gloat, though somewhere in the back of his mind he did a fist pump about the fact that of all the things she could have remembered, she had remembered making love first. But more importantly, was this a specific time, or just some vague amalgamation.

"Was it... cold?"

Her head whipped around at his question, snark immediately replacing chagrin.

"Why does that matter?"

Frustration bubbled up, driven by desperation. It did matter.

"Just answer me, okay?"

When she visibly shrank back, he knew he had pushed too far. His Kate would never back down, she would stand toe-to-toe with him in an argument, and they had had plenty. But this Kate, wounded and unsure of anything in her world, handicapped by hormones, this one had a thinner skin. It was up to him to remember that. But before he could take it back, apologize for his outburst, she answered, her own irritation overflowing.

"Yeah, it was freezing; we were huddled down under the covers... and why am I telling you this? It was just some crazy dream my brain made up with the tiny detail of a fireplace I've never seen."

His eyes shut again, this time in gratitude to fate or God or time or whatever had granted him a chance. When he opened them again and took her hand between his, it was with his heart on his sleeve, beating for her, right where she could see.

"No, Kate, it wasn't made up. That was a memory. We were just at the house a couple weeks ago. We went for the weekend after a bad case; it was so last minute that I hadn't called to get Morrie to turn on the heat for us. You made a joke about the quickest way to warm up... and we ended up in bed. Not that we don't always end up in bed anyway, but we were pretty enthusiastic that night."

Searching those hazel eyes, he came up with disappointment. But this was the best news they'd had. Was there something about the memory that was upsetting her? Something he'd forgotten about or not noticed in the first place? His recollection of that night was pretty fantastic... But then again, making love with her always left him a little hazy and floaty and more besotted than ever... But seriously, what was causing the wrinkle between her brows to deepen?

"I don't remember anything else."

Defeat-that's what that tone was. All the hot air from their back-and-forth dissipated with those words, and that was not acceptable. At least this was something he could work with. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he strong-armed her in close, felt her give way, sink into his side, head drooping until her hair tickled the soft skin below his ear.

"It's okay; it's all gonna come back. I know it is. We'll just fill in the blanks until then."

A minute passed in silence-maybe two. His brain started calculating with the slow rise and fall of her breathing.

"You know, I hadn't thought about it until now, but with the timing..."

Based on what they had read about measuring pregnancy, how far along she was, when things would have had to happen... But he couldn't really be sure.

"What? What about the timing?"

His thought, spoken aloud before he could think better of it, seemed to have revived her. Straightening up, she left her hand where it had settled on his chest, the intensity, the spark of hope returning as she looked at him. And why shouldn't he tell her his guess? On a dark day, this was one possibility of joy they could both share.

"I think that was the weekend we conceived. You remembered making this baby with me, Kate."

# * # * # * #

A/N: Long wait for this one. Tumblr anon asks and tweets and lovely reviews are all MUCH appreciated, because if you are asking, I know you care. I hope you haven't given up... Alex, I know you haven't yet. Thanks for the occasional UNWARRANTED WARNING WOLVERINE. Good motivation, whether for sprinting or speed-editing. ;) See? I finished it tonight like I promised. Now where's my Hugh Jackman? Hmm? Really. I'm waiting up to buzz him in...

Twitter: Kate_Christie_

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