Disclaimer: All television shows, movies, books, and other copyrighted material referred to in this work, and the characters, settings, and events thereof, are the properties of their respective owners. As this work is an interpretation of the original material and not for-profit, it constitutes fair use. Reference to real persons, places, or events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be libelous, defamatory, or in any way factual.
AN: This is an expansion of chapter 11 of 'a story's a story' though there's no need to have read that in order to understand this. If you have read that chapter, then you know what's coming. If not... Well, read on, dear reader. Read on.
but if you break down
i'll drive out and find you
if you forget my love
i'll try to remind you
and stay by you
when it don't come easy
~Patty Griffin, When It Don't Come Easy
He finds her in front of the mirror in their closet; standing sideways with her shirt pulled up under her breasts as she runs her fingers over her stomach, her mouth tilted in a crooked frown.
"No one is going to notice."
Kate looks up and catches his eye in the mirror before tugging her shirt down, her rings catching the light as she smooths the fabric over her hips. "I can."
"And so can I," Castle says, walking over to wrap his arms around her waist, "but no one else will see it, I promise." His lips brush her temple and Kate sighs, shoulders sinking back into his chest. Her left hand comes to rest over his on her stomach and she plays with his fingers, spinning the ring he wears around and around, a nervous habit he loves even though it leaves his skin red and aching. "We can tell people if you want."
"No." Kate shakes her head, hair rustling lightly against the starched fabric of his shirt. "You're supposed to wait until after the first trimester." She turns to look up at him, lips skimming lightly over his jaw. "And I like having a secret again. Something just for us for now."
"Us," he repeats on a laugh. "And my mother and daughter and your dad. And Lanie. That's a whole lot of us."
"I was excited, okay?" Kate bumps his cheek with her forehead. "You're the one that called your poker buddies."
"Hey, I was excited too. Plus, Patterson has been harrassing me about not putting out a book last year." Castle presses his fingers lightly into her stomach. "Shut him right up."
Kate laughs and lets go of his hand, pushing off his chest. He watches with a wary eye as she steps into a pair of heels, twisting her ankles for a snug fit, tugging the hem of her pants out of the stiff backs of the shoes. She shakes the fabric until it falls casually over her arched feet and he just can't stop himself. "Are you sure -"
"Don't start with that again."
"No." Kate spins to face him, the softness in her eyes off setting the thin line of her mouth. "Wearing heels isn't going to hurt the baby, Castle. Not this early."
"But what if you trip?"
Her eyebrow hitches up. "Have you ever seen me trip in heels?"
"You get wobbly when you're tipsy."
"Then I guess it's a good thing I can't drink, huh?" She skirts past his seeking hands and out of the closet, snagging her badge off the dresser as she goes. "You coming in with me or later?"
"Later," he answers, following her through the living room. "I want to try to write a little first."
Kate slings her bag over her shoulder and pulls him in for a kiss, the cold band of her wedding ring pressing against the back of his neck as she threads her fingers through his hair. "Bring me coffee?" She breathes the question into his open mouth, her badge digging into his left hip.
"Decaf or no deal, Beckett. I don't want this kid to have two heads."
"Fine," she says, backing out of his arms, "but if I can't have caffeine you'd better bring me something sweet."
"I'm not sure that sugar is -" Kate cuts him off with a look, her eyes narrowed and hard as she reaches for the door. "Okay. Decaf coffee and a bear claw it is."
"Smart man. See you later?"
"Yeah." He meets her at the door, snagging her hips and pulling her in for another quick kiss. "I'll be there in a couple of hours."
"'Kay. Love you."
He can feel the stupid smile spreading across his face as he watches the door swing closed, listens while the sound of her steps fades out. The distant ding of the elevator rouses him and he spins toward his office, fingertips itching with the need to write. Plopping himself down in the chair, Castle wakes the laptop and opens the file for his next installment of Nikki. The story spills out of him and he sways to the rhythm of the words, his fingers tapping a constant cadence against the keys as he unfolds the plot, guiding the characters through the twisting maze of red herrings and misdirects. He loses himself in the flow, the world fading out around him as Nikki's voice fills his ears.
Beckett strides off the elevator and heads toward her desk, a tiny smile playing on her lips as the sounds of the busy bullpen push her along. The grin has become an almost permanent expression since the moment the doctor confirmed the at home test results and her cheeks ache from the constant stretch and pull but she can't control it, doesn't want to. They hadn't planned it, had talked about waiting a couple of years, getting settled in their married life before introducing a baby to the mix. She'd worried about telling him but her fear had been unfounded, smothered by the tight grasp of his arms as he'd hauled her body up against his, elated laughter ringing in her ears.
Bottom lip tucked between her teeth, she fights the urge to run her hand over her stomach, to press her fingers into the tiny mound of rounded flesh. Tossing her bag on the floor, she settles into her chair and pulls up her email, flipping quickly through the messages that have accumulated over her long weekend.
"Where's Castle?" Esposito greets her with the question and an outstretched file. He drops down into the chair next to her desk, the holster on his hip thumping hard against the metal arm.
"Writing." Beckett flips open the file, quickly scans over the information. "Where's Ryan?"
"He had that appointment with Jenny this morning."
"Oh, right," she says, tossing the open file back on her desk, tapping her finger on the page. "We're sure this is good information?"
"Yeah. Came from one of my old CIs. It's solid."
"Okay. Let's send some unis over to check the area, see if we can find anybody willing to -" She trails off when she notices Esposito has stopped listening to her, focused instead on something just past her right shoulder. Beckett spins her chair to see what's so interesting and feels a smile spread across her lips.
Ryan walks slowly across the bullpen, his gaze locked on the paper in his hand rather than the path in front of him. His eyes shine with a dreamy joy, cheeks split wide with a toothy grin. He mumbles apologies to the people and inanimate objects he bounces off as he moves across the room. Esposito barks out a laugh as they watch Ryan slam into Karpowski, sending her empty coffee cup crashing to the floor.
"Watch it, Irish."
"Sorry," Ryan murmurs sheepishly, his gaze finally lifting from the picture held reverently in his hands. The shards of the shattered mug crunch loudly under the soles of his wingtips and he cringes, shoulders pulled up to his ears. "Was distracted. I'll get you a new -" he waves at the mess under his feet - "okay?"
"Don't sweat it," Karpowski smirks, waving a uniform over to clean up the mess. "I'll just take yours."
Ryan nods, eyes wide, and makes his way over to his desk, the picture still gripped in his fingers. Beckett watches him fumble through the stack of papers in his inbox, a grin playing at the corners of her mouth.
"Everything okay, Ryan?" She asks casually, twirling her pen through her fingers.
"Oh, yeah" Ryan turns to face them, amazed delight drawn across his face. "Everything's good. They showed us -" He stumbles, cheeks staining red, and holds out the picture for them to see. Beckett takes it from him, the edges of the paper warm and curling from the heat of his grip.
The sonogram picture is a grainy swirl of black and white, the profile of the baby fuzzy but recognizable. Beckett resists the urge to run her fingers over the image, to trace the delicate curve of the baby's spine, the tangle of its bent legs. Her chest tightens with emotion and she can't stop herself from brushing the fingers of her left hand briefly over her abdomen. She tears her gaze away from the picture, looks up to meet Ryan's shining eyes, his joy contagious.
"That's great, Kev." She hands the picture back, watching as he stares at it for a long second before tucking it into the inside pocket of his jacket.
"Yeah, man," Esposito says, his voice suspiciously soft. "That's awesome."
"It's a boy," Ryan offers, hand resting over his chest.
"I thought you were going to wait to find out?" Beckett laughs her way through the question, the dopey grin on Ryan's face pulling up a matching one on her own.
"We were but when the doctor asked if we wanted to know, Jenny just blurted out a yes. She was too excited."
"I can imagine," Beckett says, her voice a little too wistful to be casual. The images form freely in her mind, a technicolor vision of the next seven and a half months. Doctors appointments and sonograms. The way Castle's eyes will fill with tears the first time they see their own grainy ultrasound images. Arguing with him over names. Decorating the nursery. The anticipation of what's to come fills her up, a fluttering nest of butterflies trapped inside her ribs, threatening to lift her right out of her chair.
"I call dibs on godfather."
"Whoa, you can't just call dibs on godfather, bro. That's not cool," Esposito exclaims, jumping up out of the chair as Castle walks up behind them. Beckett tilts her head back to accept a quick kiss on the cheek as he places coffee and a pastry bag in front of her on the desk. Smiling at him, she catches his fingers as he pulls back and Castle gives her a grin and a wink before turning his attention back to the boys.
"Sure I can," he asserts, waving his hand to push Esposito away from his chair. "I'm in sight of the father therefore dibs can be called."
"No way," Esposito huffs, moving around the front of the desk.
"Hey, don't get mad at me just because you don't understand how dibs work." Castle drops onto his chair, palms upturned and shoulders shrugging.
"I'll play you for it. Halo, this weekend. Winner is the godfather."
"No can do. I'm afraid that, much like jinx, the rules of dibs are unflinchingly rigid. Accept your loss with a little dignity, man."
The sharp ring of his phone interrupts Esposito's retort and he turns toward his desk, a menacing finger pointed in Castle's direction. "This ain't over, bro."
Castle just nods, a smug smile pulling at the corners of his lips as he raises his coffee in a mock salute. Ryan leans in, worry creasing his face. "You know that Jenny's brother is going to be the godfather, right? I mean, you can have an honorary uncle position or something but she'll kill me if -"
"Relax," Castle laughs, patting him on the shoulder. "I know. I was just messing with Esposito."
"Oh. Okay." He sways on the spot for a moment, the dreamy look floating back into his eyes. Beckett clears her throat, eyes cutting toward the closed door of the captain's office, and Ryan jumps on the spot, spinning toward his desk. "I'm gonna go do - something."
Ryan swivels around in his chair, eyebrows draw together in a question.
"Congratulations, man," Castle says, the softness in his voice making her stomach flutter. "You're going to be a great dad."
A wide grins spreads across Ryan's face, his hand drifting up to rest over the picture in his breast pocket again. Slowly, he nods and then spins back toward his computer, shoulders setting into a firm line as the machine boots up.
Beckett sips her coffee as the butterflies settle and she turns to Castle, tapping his shin with the toe of her heel. "I thought you were going to write?"
"I did." He opens the bag and pulls out her bear claw and a muffin, sets them on napkins. "I got some really good stuff out and then I hit a wall. No point in forcing it."
Beckett moans a little when she bites into the still warm bear claw, the sticky sweetness coating her tongue as she chews. Castle watches her, a smile on his lips and heat in his eyes. "Stop looking at me like that," she mumbles, covering her mouth with the hand not gripping her breakfast.
"Stop making pornographic sounds in the workplace," Castle says, taking a bite of his muffin and chuckling when she rolls her eyes and kicks the side of his foot.
"It's not my fault your mind has a permanent residence in the gutter."
"It's more of a vacation home," he says, wadding up the waxy wrapper from his muffin and flicking it at her garbage can. "Speaking of -"
"You don't even know what I was going to say."
"Yes, I do. You were about to try, for the umpteenth time, to convince me to put in for two weeks of vacation and go with you on your book tour."
"Technically, it's a graphic novel tour," Castle huffs and she smiles, finishing her bear claw and wiping her fingers on a napkin. "Come on," he says, putting on his best kicked puppy face. "It'll be good for you. You need a vacation."
She laughs. "We just got back from our honeymoon. I think I'm good for now. "
A warm hand closes over her thigh and Beckett closes her eyes, swallowing back the sigh that bubbles up in her chest. She hates the effect he has on her sometimes, hates that he can get to her with nothing more than a well-placed touch and a few softly spoken words.
"Kate," he whispers, his fingers trailing up her leg and over the hem of her shirt until he's stroking her stomach. "think about the baby."
Gently, she grips his hand, squeezing lightly as she pulls it away from her stomach and fixes him with a stern look. Castle stares back at her, unashamed, and she fights the urge to roll her eyes. Or kiss him. "I am. I'm thinking that those vacation days will be something I'll want to have available after my two months of maternity leave are up and I'm not ready to come back to work yet."
Castle stares at her for a minute and then leans back in his chair, sighing. "Damn it. That's a really good answer."
She laughs. "I know."
"Yo, Beckett," Espo calls from the other side of the bullpen, waving his cell phone. "Got a hit on our guy. Unis saw him entering an abandoned building in Queens. Want them to pursue?"
"No," she says, standing up and grabbing her keys. "Tell them to stand-by until we get there. Ryan, let's roll."
Thanks so much for reading. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.