The steady beep of the monitors and the hum of the machines droned together as Kate hunched in the cushioned chair, staring at the tiny baby laying motionless in the plastic bassinet, a clear tube taped to his mouth, tiny chest rising and falling with every puff of air. He barely even looked human; he looked like a doll. A tiny, almost human doll, naked save for the preemie diaper wrapped around his middle. Her finger reached out, burrowing under her son's tiny hand, his fingers barely big enough to wrap around the pad of hers.
"It's going to be you and me against the world, you know that, right?" She whispered down to him as the monitor continued to beep, air whooshing in and out of the tubes and pipes in steady streams. "Don't get me wrong, your daddy loves you so much, just like I love your sisters with my whole heart, but Daddy is strong in a different way. He's steady, a rock, our rock. Don't worry he's going to be here soon, he just needed to go home and check on your sisters, let them know they have a baby brother. But you and me, Jonathan, we're going to stick together because we're the same, you and I, we're both fighters."
Jonathan James Castle pressed his hand against the window to the NICU, watching, listening as his mother sat talking to his newborn self, her thumb brushing over the top of the baby's tiny hand. It was a surreal experience, being able to go back to see the day that you were born, but he had to make sure. After everything that had changed: his uncle Roy and father conspiring on a plan to use the file to save Roy's and Kate's lives, and his mother taken down by a sniper bullet right outside the precinct doors anyway as a warning when she went behind their backs and failed to back down. A snide reminder that she wasn't safe and these people could get to her anywhere. It was this act of defiance on her part, continuing the investigation of her mother's death, that almost tore the partners apart for good. Then the portal messed up the timing of his parents finally getting together. He had to make sure that time was still on track, that their wedding still happened (even with complications), his two older sisters had still been born when they were supposed to, and that he had been too.
Once his parents had been returned to their proper times their memories had started to blend back together, filling in the gaps, until they were almost seamless. Eventually, any thought of time travel at all had become only that of a fanciful dream, with the occasional bout of déjà vu. And so John stood, unnoticed, ignored, watching as his mother sat whispering words of strength into his tiny ears, as a machine pumped air into his barely formed lungs.
He had known, his parents had told him the story about how they had been so excited and so scared. His mother had never expected to get pregnant at 39 with her third child or give birth at 40. Then when she had gone into labor three months early and he hadn't been breathing at all the doctors had told them to expect chronic respiratory illness and brain damage at the best. And, true, he had been physically weaker than most of the other boys growing up, unable to run and play for long periods of time. His mother or father had needed to run to the school or a friends house more than once with an inhaler, but, proven by graduating high school at sixteen and earning his PhD in temporal physics by twenty-four, oh, there had never been anything weak about his mind.
John's eyes lifted from where they had fallen while he was lost in thought, to find his mother's identical ones staring straight into him with a single eyebrow quirked as her free fingers lifted in a wave. Slowly John's fingers waved back as his stomach jumped into his chest, every word he could have possibly said in that moment lost on his tongue. She wasn't supposed to remember, past a faint passing recognition that maybe she had seen him somewhere before- passed him on the subway, bumped into him in line at the coffee shop- but there she was, her eyes never leaving his as she leaned down to the baby, a smile dancing across her lips.
"I'm not worried, because you see that, Johnny? You're going to be just fine."
As John turned to walk down the hall, past his exhausted father who had just walked in with two to-go coffee cups- one mocha, and one non-fat latte with two pumps sugar-free vanilla, and through the doorway that would send him back home, he couldn't help but think that fate worked in mysterious ways.
A/N: Thank you.