Blue lights are no fun at all when the emergency is your own.
Castle grips the handle overhead as the police car careens around the corner and roars down the block. Ryan’s control of the beast of an engine is impressive, or would be in any other circumstances, but Castle is on the edge of his own control and can barely appreciate it.
“Here we are, here we are,” Ryan chants, the car screeching as it slides into the emergency bay of the hospital.
Castle is already tearing out of his seatbelt and yanking open the door before the car comes to a complete stop. He races around the hood and darts for the double doors, has to pause a moment for the automatic open to catch up to his pace.
“Come on, come on,” he groans, bouncing on his toes. She was yelling at him only yesterday, furious with him for dictating her every move, sick of his meddling.
Over some damn fruit. He brought fruit to the precinct. What? It’s healthy. She’s been forgetting the prenatal vitamin, taking it at odd hours when she remembers. He was only trying to help.
She spent the night at her place, first time in weeks.
“Come on,” he groans.
The doors finally widen enough for him to turn and slip inside, and Rick leaves Ryan in the dust, launching himself towards the front desk.
“Detective Beckett,” he pants, clutching the formica counter. “Admitted - bleeding - pregnant - Beckett?”
“Hang on, sir. Deep breath. Say it one more time-”
“Detective Beckett,” he wheezes. “Admitted twenty minutes ago. She’s my - she’s pregnant. I’m Rick. Castle.”
“Okay. Rick. I need you to sign some forms, and make a copy of your insurance card.”
“Forms?” he croaks. His hands tighten in a reflexive urge to strangle the woman at the desk, but she holds the keys to Kate. “Forms. I - can I not fill out your forms while we walk? Or - is she in surgery?”
Please, no. Please.
The woman blinks, taking in his persistence with a brief flash of confusion. “Oh. Surgery? No. She’s fine. Waiting on stitches. Mr. Castle, she’s just fine.”
His whole body lets down, high-alert to mild alert, but the wash of relief doesn’t come. It just won’t abate. She threw up her hands yesterday, told him he was being impossible, and now she’s in the hospital.
“I appreciate your assurance,” he says tightly. “But I’d really like to see my wife right now.” He presses his lips together on the lie, biting back the urge to explain everything, how long he’s waited for her, how messed up their beginnings, how she left a note he never received, how he gave up prematurely, how they’ve created this life out of what were ashes and managed an equilibrium that is at once so stable and also so precarious. How he irritates her to death and she frustrates the hell out of him, but she’s having his baby and he will do anything it takes.
But this desk nurse wants him to fill in boxes on a sheet, wants him to sit down in a hard plastic chair with his knees cramped and wait.
He’s done with waiting.
“Where is Kate?”
“Mr. Castle, alright, I can see you’re agitated. How about we-”
“How about we walk down to Kate’s room? Where she’s still waiting. She’s a cop, you know. And she’s pregnant-”
“I do believe you’ve said that.” And then a faint smile stains her lips. “I take it this is your first.”
His mouth opens and nothing comes out. It’s not, but it is. If ‘your’ is a plural and not a singular. If they take into account the fact that this is the most important thing he’s done in-
“Wait, you’re the Richard Castle?” The woman stands up straighter. “Don’t you have a daughter?”
He’s done. Conversation over. “I’ll find her myself,” he growls, turning on his heel and striding off.
“Hey, wait! You can’t go back there-”
“Too late. I’m going back there.” He shoves open the double doors and they swing back, smack the walls hard enough to scuff the paint. He keeps going, calling her name and ducking into doorways, twitching aside curtains.
The nurse has followed him, snapping a warning, but not even her warning can bring him up short. She finally darts around him and gestures sharply towards a side hall, stabbing her finger.
He follows along like a good boy now, treading on her heels when she’s too slow for him. But finally she opens a door and he catches a glimpse of a dark head, pale skin, the harsh slash of a mouth he knows so well.
“Beckett,” he breathes, maybe for the first time. He rushes inside, ignoring the nurse entirely, only to halt at the foot of the bed, shock jolting through him.
“It’s okay,” she croaks. “Looks worse than it is.”
“You’re soaked in blood,” he gasps.
Her smile is wan, too thin for that it’s okay. “Knife barely-”
“There was a knife? What happened to not going out with the tactical team?”
She narrows her eyes at him, like he’s done something wrong. “Castle,” she bites out. “Let me stop you right there. I’ve had enough of the lectures from you on how to care for my own body. It was a steak knife. In the break room.” You asshole goes unsaid, but it rings clearly in the room.
His feet finally unstick at the ice in her tone - that’s his Beckett - and he comes clumsily to her side. She has one hand raised above her head, bandaged thickly, but somehow the blood has soaked her midriff, the collar, one shoulder.
“What - how - why haven’t you seen a doctor yet?” he gets out finally. Someone needs to do an ultrasound. Just to be sure. There’s a lot of blood.
“Stop looking at me like that,” she snaps. “I’m not going to die.” And then seeing his face she rolls her eyes and reaches across her body to sock him in the arm. “And the baby is fine, Castle. It’s my hand. Not my-” She pauses and her mouth drops open, pink suffusing her cheeks, her neck.
And he knows how far down that blush goes. How the scar between her breasts whitens while the unblemished skin mottles with color.
“Oh,” she whispers. “You were really worried.”
He takes in what might be his first clean breath of the afternoon. “I just - sometimes, Beckett.” He shakes his head. “Things happen to us.”
“No tactical teams,” she reminds him. “And no suspect arrests. I’m stuck with interrogations and cold calls, Rick. This was your stupid piece of cantaloupe.”
He nods, swallowing. Her good hand reaches for him again but this time she snags the cuff of his dress shirt and tugs until their foreheads crash together.
She smells like iron, like blood, and he has to close his eyes. “Wait. Cantaloupe. The one I left there yesterday for you?” The one that prompted the big blow-up.
“Yeah. You said five servings of fruits and vegetables. See? I really am listening. I really am trying.”
“So this is all my fault. Next time I’m cutting up your damn fruit.”
“If you start cutting up my food, Castle, I will kill you. With that dull knife from the break room. Joyfully.”
His laughter breaks out of him; his shoulders slump in relief. He straightens up, squeezes her knee in the bed. “Let me see if I can find a doctor around here. The service in this place is atrocious.”
“Don’t be too annoying, Rick.” But she’s smiling at him, the tentative one, the one that asks did we do okay?
“Be as annoying as it takes to get the job done.” He winks at her as he turns for the door. “You know a little something about that.”
She smirks, glances suggestively down his body. “I wouldn’t call it little.”
He grins back, gesture the faint thickening of her abdomen. “Size of a bell pepper, Beckett. I’d call it little.”
Her good hand flattens to her stomach, her smile stretches out like sunrise. “A bell pepper?”
He comes back to her, presses his lips against her upturned mouth. “Yeah, eighteen weeks. I have a fruit chart.”
She laughs. “Of course you do.” She taps his cheek lightly with her own. “Go find me a doctor. I want to get out of here, see that fruit chart.” She softly kisses the corner of his mouth. “In case that wasn’t clear. I want you to take me home.”
A gingerbread boat sails a sea
Of royal icing white,
While a gingerbread crew swab decks
Of jelly beans paved tight.
Licorice ropes hoist up aloft
Spun cotton candy sails.
Passengers watch gummy fish swim,
Leant over musk stick rails.
Brandy snap cannons sit, unused,
With unfired smarties balls,
While gingerbread idlers ignore
Gingerbread First Mate’s calls.
The Captain, by gingerbread helm,
Reads the fruit roll-up charts.
Perhaps X marks out the desires
Of their gingerbread hearts,
But, alas, the sun has set and
The moon is in the sky,
To our gingerbread ship and crew
We must now say goodbye.
On this day in music history: June 4, 1983 - “Juicy Fruit” by Mtume hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 8 weeks, also peaking at #45 on the Hot 100 on August 6, 1983. Written and produced by James Mtume, it is the biggest hit for the R&B/Funk band led by percussionist James Mtume. The son of saxophonist Jimmy Heath (The Heath Brothers), and formerly a percussionist for jazz legend Miles Davis, Mtume will form the band named after him in 1978, signing a deal with Epic Records. he track is written largely in the studio, with Mtume writing each verse as lead singer Tawatha Agee completes her vocal on the previous one. The bands’ label Epic Records will initially be hesitant to release the song, feeling that radio will not play it due to the provocative double entendres in the lyrics (an alternate version will be serviced to radio, replacing the line “I’ll be your lollipop, you can lick me everywhere” with “…candy kisses everywhere”). Within a week and a half of its release, the single will be the most added record on R&B stations across the country, immediately connecting with the public. It will quickly sell over a million copies in the US without cracking the Top 40 on the pop singles chart. “Juicy Fruit” will gain enduring popularity over the years when it is sampled or interpolated by numerous rap and R&B artists most notably on The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy”, and on singles by Warren G, and Keyshia Cole. “Juicy Fruit” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
She’s the size of a kumquat. Or is it a plum? He doesn’t have his diagrams handy. Mindy has them memorized, the sizing equivalent for each week, but he always hated using the damned fruit charts.
Danny doesn’t even know if she’s a she. He just…knows. And sure, he’d scoff at anyone who came in his office and proclaimed to know, especially if they used those silly tests. The ring on a string? Preposterous. Peeing on baking soda or drain cleaner, now that’s just plain dangerous. You’ll find out when it’s time, he assures the eager parents. You have plenty of time.
But he knows. He can close his eyes and see her, squalling like her mother, bright red lips and dense black hair plastered to her face. He can see her big brown eyes with lashes like a foal as she gazes up while she nurses. He can picture her wild curls, pulled up in a crooked ponytail on one side as she smiles for the camera. And she will, constantly, he just knows.
These thoughts run through Danny’s head like a whirlwind. A day hasn’t passed since he found out he was going to be a father that he hasn’t zoned out at least once, his mind working overtime, every possible scenario presenting itself in technicolor. It doesn’t matter how many babies he’s brought into this world, because he’s fully aware of the ones he hasn’t, and for every thought of his perfect little daughter, an alternative crashes in and wrecks him.
But he doesn’t say anything of the sort to Mindy, who has no concerns at all, because of course everything will be perfect. And yet as he watches her pack to go back to San Francisco, as he tries to listen to her chatter on about, well, he’s not really sure, it’s overwhelming to even try to have anything on his mind but her. His baby. She’s really having his baby.
“Mindy, you can’t go back.” Danny’s voice is firm, not demanding, just a statement of fact. She can’t, that’s just the way it is. The fellowship, this business plan, none of that matters.
“Of course I’m going back, Danny.” She’s just as nonchalant. It hasn’t even crossed her mind how this changes things. It changes everything.
He’s on the bed and he just wants her there too. Why does she still want to go? He’s done everything he can. He bought her a house. They’re going to be a family - hell, if he’s honest, they’ve been a family a long time.
“But you…we…I don’t want to move to San Francisco.” He knows he sounds like a petulant child, but it’s unavoidable. There’s so much he wants to say, but nothing comes out when he needs it to.
Mindy sits on the bed and looks at him with patient, kind eyes. She’s going to be the best mom. The knows the perfect thing to say, spoils but doesn’t ruin, loves hard and unconditionally kind of mom. And his child will be the luckiest child in the world, even if he doesn’t know how to be the best dad.
“Danny, you don’t have to move. I want you to, but I’d never make you do that. I know your heart is here.”
“My heart? You’re my heart.” His voice cracks, and he doesn’t want to admit it, but he feels the sting in his eyes that comes before he breaks. “If you aren’t here, then I’ll go there. Wherever it is, for however long. I can’t not.”
“Danny.” Mindy lies down beside him, stroking his hair as he curls in to her, resting his head lightly on her stomach. She’s in there, fruit sized, and she can’t hear him yet, but it doesn’t matter. He whispers “I love you,” and it’s the easiest those words have ever come to him.
“I have to be there, Min. I have to watch you, watch your belly swell. I have to be there when she kicks. How could I not?”
“She?” Mindy says with amusement. “You know it’s a she? You are a good doctor.”
He sighs. “I can’t say ‘it’ like that.”
“Okay, weirdo. And you just want to be there when my boobs get gigantic. More gigantic, I mean, which is hardly even possible.”
Danny grins, his arm draped across her, and he reaches out to brush her fingers.
“Yeah, I’m not gonna say no to that,” he teases. She grabs his hand and twists her fingers into his, and he looks up at her and her eyes are shining. “I’ll go, and then we’ll come back, and it’s gonna be fine.”