Kate had been sitting in the living room since just before dawn. She was curled up under a cozy cashmere throw in one corner of the sectional, a warm mug pressed into the valley between her breasts. Her sleep had been sporadic at best, so when the faintest tendrils of light began to creep into the darkened bedroom, she finally gave up. After brewing a pot of very strong coffee, she settled down to watch the sun rise. When had she last done that? She couldn't remember. Suddenly, it seemed very important to remember.
She knew Castle would be up soon. The man possessed some bizarre sixth sense when it came to her presence in his bed. If she got up, he was soon to follow. In bed as in life, she mused. So she sat, waited, tried fruitlessly to calm the riot of thoughts occupying her mind, the same ones that kept her awake in spite of her physical exhaustion. She knew there would be no peace for her until she initiated the conversation that she had to have with him this morning. The moment he got up, in fact. He had to know. It couldn't wait another day.
And after yesterday…oh God. It had been so, so close. Too close. They could easily be dead, both of them. She shook her head. All of them.
What had she been waiting for, anyway? She wasn't entirely sure anymore. Oh, she could recall all of the carefully constructed reasons she had invented for staying silent. But now? Today? Her flimsy excuses crumbled in the face of the last twenty-four hours. Had she been waiting for a declaration of some kind? She had certainly gotten that. They both had. And in some ways, it changed everything.
But it didn't change the fact that she hadn't been forthcoming with him. She mentally kicked herself in the ass. Why is that always my go-to reaction? she berated herself. Why do I withdraw, withhold from those who love me most? She was certain that she had grossly mishandled this situation. She shouldn't have waited those couple of days to get her head in order, wrap her mind around the news. She should have gone to him immediately, trusted him to be her partner in every way.
They had lived to see another sunrise (well, she did anyway…the sun had crested about ten minutes before and Castle still wasn't up). And in the light of the new day, she knew exactly what she had to do. No doubt, no hesitation.
As though on cue, she heard movement from the direction of the bedroom: the sheets drawing back, his feet hitting the floor, his shuffling steps to come find her. The moment he stepped into the room she felt her heart stutter and thump at his adorably rumpled appearance, his hair hanging in his eyes and her favorite periwinkle polka-dotted boxers wrinkled and twisted a bit on his hips. He crinkled his nose and smiled at her as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
"Hey you." he rasped, his voice scratchy from disuse paired with the previous day of overuse. The man had talked a lot yesterday. Not that she was complaining. No, not this time. If ever there had been a time and a place for Richard Castle's motor mouth, yesterday had found them at that time and that place.
"Hey. How did you sleep?" She knew he had to have been as wiped out as she was after the events of the day before.
He dropped down heavily beside her, turned to see her face. "Surprisingly well. I thought I might have nightmares, but I don't think I dreamt at all last night. I was positively comatose. I think I owe you for that." He waggled his eyebrows and gave her a sideways smirk at that.
She took a moment to tease him. "How so?"
He narrowed his eyes and shook his head. "Don't you play coy with me, Katherine Beckett. It doesn't become you."
Her smirk matched his now. "Well, round two was wholly gratuitous but completely necessary. I'm sure you'd agree."
"Oh, you won't hear any argument from me. We should save you from a bomb and have mind-blowing, life-affirming sex every night."
She went a little pale at that, her smile a little tight at the corners.
"Sorry. Maybe just the sex part, then," he offered, his smile twisted apologetically.
She met his eye then, something steely and determined in her demeanor, and found her voice before she could talk herself out of it. "Castle. There's something I need to tell you. Right now."
His brow furrowed at her tone. "This sounds serious."
"It is. Kind of."
She looked down and shut her eyes tightly, briefly as she took a deep breath. She opened her eyes and met his in the moment she exhaled, "I'm pregnant."
If she hadn't feared his reaction so desperately, his gasp and the play of conflicting emotions on his face would have been borderline comical. And it wasn't his reaction to the pregnancy that had her concerned anyway. No, she knew he would be thrilled. Being a father had been his favorite profession in life, wealthy mystery author falling to a distant second place. Besides, she had already seen the look of joy flutter across his face at her news. It had been his first reaction.
But Richard Castle was nobody's fool, as Kate was well aware. The precinct's solve rate hadn't mysteriously gone up on it's own; the mark he left on the cases he worked with her was indelible. He was an intelligent man capable of critical thought and intuitive leaps in reasoning, and she could plainly see the exact moment he made the leap. When he knew that she had known. Yesterday, while she stood on the trigger plate. When she knew she might die. She knew. And had said nothing.
His face was strangely blank. "When did you find out?" he asked softly.
Oh. Oh, this was worse than anger. He was hurt. She was having his baby and couldn't be more delighted about it but she had hurt him with it. Because now he knew. Now he had the terrible awareness that he could have lost a lot more than just her yesterday. A hell of a lot more.
She took another deep breath. She owed him some answers. "Tuesday afternoon."
She could see his jaw tighten, even under the dusting of stubble. Four days. She had known for four days. She didn't blame him. She'd be furious, too.
She plowed on; now wasn't the time to play it demure. "I didn't even realize that I was late until Sunday night. I had begun to feel so strange last week. I was having the oddest symptoms. My breasts were painfully sensitive, and suddenly I couldn't get enough sleep."
"You did sleep late when we were out in the Hamptons last weekend. It didn't even occur to me at the time, you'd been working so hard..." he trailed off, his eyes distant and unfocused as he conjured memories of the weekend prior. A blissful three-day stay at the beach house, soaked with plenty of sun and swimming, not to mention a healthy dose of lovemaking thrown in for good measure. They had returned home relaxed and sated and glowing, except now they knew that she actually had been glowing. "And your appetite was…off. You were ravenous at one meal and then picked at the next one."
She nodded. "Yeah. I mean, in hindsight, it seems obvious. Or it should have been obvious. But I got so busy planning your birthday party, and then we caught so many cases back-to-back-to back. And I was so grateful to get out of town with you for those couple of days. I just…I never gave it a second thought until we got back from our weekend. And when I finally checked my calendar, I was late. Really late."
"How late?" He sounded concerned
"I missed my second period last week."
"Wow. That definitely qualifies as really late."
"Exactly. So, um, I went to my doctor's office on Monday. The in-office urine test was positive, but they drew blood also to be sure. They called me Tuesday afternoon with the results of the blood test."
"Which was also positive."
"Yes, it was."
He paused then. "So then…yesterday."
Here it comes.
She couldn't speak against the lump that had taken up residence her throat, so she simply nodded. Suddenly the fringed edging on her blanket was the most fascinating thing in the world and merited her rapt attention.
She reluctantly dragged her eyes up to meet his, hating the pain she saw there, she placed there. But at the very least, he deserved eye contact from her. And an honest explanation. "Castle, I'm…I just…Christ, I can't even speak. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I should have shared this with you immediately. I should have…"
"You're damn right you should have." Not the first time she'd heard those words. Shame shot through her, her cheeks blazing with heat, but she held his gaze. His words had an angry edge, but she could tell that he was more hurt than upset. This announcement should have brought joy, but it felt like she just kept hurting him.
"I know. I do. You're completely right."
His expression changed at her words, softened slightly. She didn't like admitting wrongdoing, and he knew it. Her admission wasn't lost on him.
"Then why didn't you tell me on Tuesday? Hell, why not Monday? Or even Sunday?" he pleaded with her. He couldn't understand why she hadn't trusted him and quite frankly, she was having trouble recalling why as well.
She thought for a moment before answering, choosing her words carefully. "Castle, it was a mistake not to tell you immediately. I know that. All I can say in my defense is that…I wasn't ready, I guess. When I first looked at my calendar and did the math, I knew. I just knew. I knew before I went to my doctor's office on Monday. I knew before they called me with the results on Tuesday. And I was simultaneously thrilled and terrified, if that makes any sense."
He nodded his understanding. Finding out you're having a child is thrilling and terrifying. It may have been a long time ago, but he could recall his shock and awe when Meredith told him she was pregnant.
"I was trying to process it, I think. Make my own peace with the news before I told you. I wasn't going to wait long. I actually had a plan to tell you this weekend, but…" she trailed off. Whatever her plan had been, it didn't matter anymore. That ship had sailed.
"Why didn't you tell me yesterday then? God, Kate. I deserved to know."
"I didn't want to tell you under those circumstances. Jesus, Castle. Can you imagine how you would have reacted yesterday? You would have been a frantic, panicked mess. You would have become more of a hindrance than a help, and I needed your help yesterday. I needed my partner. I needed you thinking as clearly and rationally as possible."
He sat quietly, listening. She could see the gears turning in his mind, trying to reconcile her logic with his wounded feelings.
"Also, I think I was trying to…I dunno. Soften the blow? Does that make sense? I kept thinking, 'If I'm going to die, let him believe that he only lost me. It would be a million times worse if he knew about the baby.' "
He gaped at her. "Only lost you? Are you kidding me, Kate? There is no me without you anymore, baby or no baby." He couldn't stand to not be touching her anymore. He scooted close, took her mug to set aside, and gathered her in his arms.
Oh…how she needed this. She could feel the sting of tears in her eyes, and there was no holding them back as they painted lazy tracks down her face.
Castle reached up to gently wipe each cheek, resting his forehead against hers. "You really must be pregnant. You don't usually cry this easily."
She scoffed at that. "Easily? After the week I've had, I'm amazed I haven't broken down in hysterics at least a dozen times."
He chuckled, holding her tightly against him, letting his warmth leech into her skin. They sat quietly for a few minutes before she spoke up again.
"I need you to know, I'm very sorry. I'm sorry that I held back about something that has as much to do with you as it does with me. I never, ever intended to hurt you. I'm still learning how to do this, how to open up and not take these burdens completely upon myself."
She pulled back and looked into his eyes. She loved those eyes, hoped this baby would have them as well.
"Can you forgive me?"
His face was soft and open, his smile genuine. "Oh God, Kate. I already have. How could I not? I love you." He said it so simply, so matter of fact. Like he said it multiple times every day, rather than having said it yesterday for the first time in almost a year. She knew it then: she would never doubt him again. He took his hand and placed his open palm low on her still-flat belly. "And I love our baby, too."
His declarations cracked her wide open once again and she released a noisy sob, burying her face in his neck and shedding the rest of the tears that she would later blame teasingly on their baby. She continued to murmur apologies and professions of love into the softness of his t-shirt as he rubbed her back and held her close to his body.
"Sssshhh. Kate, it's okay. No more. No more apologizing. You're gonna upset the baby." She could feel his smile on the crown of her head.
She grinned and sniffed ungracefully. "We can't have that. I wouldn't want to be responsible for upsetting a cluster of cells."
"Actually, back up a second. Weren't you on birth control? I mean, I'm no expert on contraception, but I thought you used that ring thingamajig?"
"Thingamajig? Really?" she chuckled. Castle shrugged his shoulders in apology. "Yes, I was using the ring, but even when you're using it perfectly, there's like a 2% chance of failure, and I was hardly using it perfectly," she sighed.
"Huh. Well, is it kosher to be thrilled about your birth control fail? Better yet, can I tell people that my virility overpowered your paltry preventative measures?"
Leave it to a writer to come up with that one. "Yes to the former. No to the latter."
"Do you know how many weeks along you are?" he asked quietly then.
"Um, yeah. Almost ten weeks. I'm due on November 27th."
"Wow. That's way more than a cluster of cells." He pulled back then so he could see her face. She had to have looked a puffy, tear-streaked mess, but there was only love and devotion and unbridled joy to be seen in his eyes.
"Kate…we're having a baby."
She couldn't stop the smile that split her face and crinkled her eyes, the giggle that blurted from her lips. "Yeah. Yeah, we are. Are you happy about it? I'm happy."
"The only things that could make me as happy would be moving you into the loft and putting a ring on your finger. And I'm warning you now, I will do both of those things, sooner rather than later. But I'm not going to overwhelm you with that today. Today, I'm going just going to revel in this. You and our baby, alive and well."
How did he always know just what to say? Cohabitation and marriage, the two topics of conversation that she knew would follow hot on the heels of her announcement, and another one of the reasons she had foolishly stayed quiet. But that conversation wouldn't happen today. He knew her well enough to back off for now. She nuzzled back into the crook of his neck, feeling calmer in his snug embrace, lighter than she had fifteen minutes ago.
"Actually, you know what would make me happy?" She could hear his voice rumble through the wall of his chest.
"Can you tell me how you were going to let me know about the baby?"
She tightened her arms around his waist, breathed in deeply and let his scent fill her senses. She exhaled gratefully, for this man and his love and the depths of his understanding.
"I can do better than that. I'll show you."
A/N: So I read a LOT of fic after "Still," but I never read about this possible scenario. However, it's totally plausible that it's already been done, and maybe (probably) done better, but this is just my take on it. Practice makes perfect, right? And on that note, I will say that feedback is lovely and helpful in making me a better writer, but never required, of course. If reading this gave you any pleasure, that is reward enough for me.
Also, I continue to work on Nani Mokupuni. For the first time (in my lifetime of using computers), I had a document get screwed up and lost some of the content I had already finished. I'm working to put it back together now, so thank you for your patience.