A/N: Welcome to chapter 2 of my ficathon story! This one has a little more drama and is a bit longer. I hope you like it!
She was trying to be sneaky. Not an easy thing to do considering she was married to the king of sneaky. Her only saving grace was that he had been out of town on a European tour for Driving Heat.
Neither she nor Rick were particularly happy with Gina and Paula for this tour. Rick was also not happy with his lawyers about it. Gina had sneaked this in the fine print on his latest book contract and no one had caught it until it was too late.
He was gone most of January and now here it was Valentine's Day and finally he was coming home.
Kate slowly opened the door to the loft, her eyes closed. She didn't want to possibly ruin any surprise that Castle might have for her. Like him coming home early, as he had been known to do on occasion. She called out.
"Is anybody home?"
She opened her eyes to see the loft as it always had been.
Kate was alone. Just like she wanted to be. She wanted to set up her surprise before he got here, so where did this rush of disappointment come from?
Stupid question, of course.
She rubbed her belly. She was already in love with this little kidney bean, but she could do without the hormones.
She thought back to her first doctor appointment last month.
"You're definitely pregnant, Mrs. Castle," the OB/GYN announced, looking at a chart. "You also say you've had the flu?"
"Yes, it wasn't a high fever, but it's been going around work so I assumed that's what it was. I was coughing, sneezing, the whole bit."
The doctor looked thoughtful.
"Hmmm. The fever is a concern, but since you say it was low grade, I'm wondering if you had just caught a cold and the morning sickness began at the same time. How long did the fever last?"
Kate thought about it for a moment.
"No longer than a couple of days. I remember being a little surprised it didn't last that long with all the throwing up I was doing."
"Still am doing."
The doctor nodded.
"Fever can hamper development of the embryo at this point and can cause certain birth defects. What medication did you take?"
"By the time I was able to keep anything down the fever was gone."
"Well, I'd say everything is most likely fine. We'll keep a close eye on everything, though. We'll do an ultrasound next month."
Kate jerked out of her reverie. Was she wrong to have not told him yet? Probably. But the 5 or 6 hour time difference took its toll, especially with the pregnancy. Kate, while now able to keep food down in the mornings, was sick in the afternoons – which the doctor said was perfectly normal. That, combined with how tired she was all the time, really curtailed her conversations with her husband.
And she wanted to tell him in person. When she'd made the appointment last month she'd come home all excited to tell him her suspicion, only to find Rick on the phone ranting to Gina about the contract. If she told him then, she reasoned, Rick would have refused to go, which could have very well led to a breach of contract lawsuit. And she did not want that hanging over their heads with the baby coming. They might have had a good case, as buried as this clause was, but she didn't want to risk it.
She hoped telling him as a Valentine's Day present would soothe feelings hurt by waiting so long to say something.
Kate began setting up. She started with a balloon bouquet that was mostly Valentine's appropriate, with a big heart balloon and red and white for the rest, with one exception. A light blue balloon with the word 'baby' in pink. She carefully placed that balloon in the middle of the others in the hopes he wouldn't see it right away. Then, a writer appropriate gift. A sturdy notebook and fountain pen. She'd written tomorrow's ultrasound appointment on the first page, without saying exactly what the time was for. She didn't mind his seeing it, but she wanted to see if he could figure things out from her other gifts.
Her next gift was a box of dark chocolates – since, as Castle said, women aren't the only ones who like candy on Valentine's Day. Not baby related, but why not anyway?
Next up were two wrapped boxes. Inside each box was a newborn onesie. A blue one with NYPD written on it, (amazing what one can find online these days) and a red one with The Flash's lightning bolt emblazoned on the chest.
And last, a pregnancy test. Kate had already been to the doctor before she bought it, but she wanted Castle to see the plus sign. Sappy? Maybe…definitely, but whatever. Just knowing she was pregnant with his child made her sappy. Nothing to do with the hormones at all…riiiiight.
Looking around the room at her setup, she smiled. She was nervous but excited to see his reaction to her news. Would he be angry she hadn't said anything? Would he understand why she waited?
Her phone chimed.
Glancing at it she saw the notification that Castle's plane was landing in an hour.
She grabbed her purse and headed out to the airport,
Castle, for his part, had actually come back to the city early. Only by about three hours, but he wanted to come home, dammit. If he didn't normally have such a good working relationship with Gina and Black Pawn, he'd seriously consider looking into changing publishers. Gina knew he would never agree to a month long book tour unless Kate could go with him, and he knew that was why she buried it so deep in the contract. He'd had his lawyers going over it with a fine tooth comb to see if there were any more surprises they'd missed before.
But that wasn't why he'd caught an earlier flight.
He wanted to find the ultimate Valentine's gift. But what was it? It's not a 'what do you buy the woman who has everything' thing, but it's still frustrating to think about.
For all her love of leather jackets and stiletto heels, Kate Beckett had very down to earth taste. As much as she loved dressing up and heading out for a night on the town with him, she loved sitting on the couch with him watching a movie or reading a book in her bicycle pajamas and a pair of fuzzy socks even more.
Rick loved that about her. Loved that Kate was so comfortable with him and in the loft. She could have asked him to move – to find a new home that was theirs alone – or at least sell the house in the Hamptons so she wouldn't have to think about 'all the other women' he'd brought up there – and he would have, if it would have made her happy, but she didn't ask.
She was mostly over her insecurity in being with him. He was still incredulous when he thought back to the Mickey Dolan case. 'You're like this world famous, bestselling author and I'm just this cop…'
Just this cop.
Hardly. Still after all this time, she's extraordinary.
There was his idea.
Ducking into a coffee shop to get out of the way, he ordered a quick cup then pulled his notebook from his jacket pocket. Turning to a blank page – 'hmm,' he thought. 'Nearly full. Need to get a new one.' He began writing every synonym for the word 'extraordinary' he could think of. He'd pull up the online thesaurus, but he didn't have time.
Paying for the coffee, he ran out of the shop, scrolling his phone list for a specific number.
Fabrice Hawk was a graphic artist and one of Castle's 'guys'. He was always happy to brainstorm with Rick on the Nikki Heat and Derrick Storm novels, though Gina insisted on the final artwork being done 'in house'.
"Fabrice!" Castle exclaimed into the phone while hailing a cab. "I was wondering if I could come see you and commission a poster for tonight. I know it's short notice." He listened as Fabrice answered.
"Right," Rick replied. "It's something easy I think you could do in your sleep. But if you're too busy…"
A cab stopped and he climbed in.
"Great. I'm on my way to you right now." He gave the cabbie the address and spoke into the phone again. "It's a simple poster with just words on it…yes, I have a list…Synonyms of the word 'extraordinary'…A different font for each word."
He smiled as he said the word 'font', thinking of his and Kate's other definition of the word.
"Yes, it's for Kate. It's Valentine's Day…No, I didn't forget, I've been out of town on tour…Thanks, Fabrice, I owe you big time."
Half an hour later Rick had explained his idea to Fabrice.
"So, Rick, does your beautiful wife know you've come home early?" inquired Fabrice.
Castle eyed his watch.
"No, and she's probably getting ready to pick me up at the airport. I should probably…"
"Go." Fabrice waved him away. "Head back to the airport so she can get you. I'll have a basic template for what you want when you bring her here to show her your 'late' Valentine's Day gift." He grinned. "You may want to have a couple of dozen roses at the ready."
That made Rick laugh.
"Not a bad idea, Fabrice." He clapped the artist on the back. "Can you give me a timeline for this?"
"Well, as you say, it's a simple design. I'll have the completed poster by tomorrow evening, if that works?"
"Fabrice, you are a master."
"Go! Go! Go so I can get to work!"
Castle ran out to catch another cab back to the airport.
Castle had been back in the airport for all of five minutes when he saw Kate striding through the automatic door. His breath caught as it always did when he hadn't seen her for a couple of days. Wow. How he had managed to snag this woman he didn't think he'd ever understand, but boy he would take her.
The moment she saw him her face lit up, bright as the noonday sun, and he was staggered all over again. Not usually so demonstrative in public, she threw her arms around him and kissed him hard.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Rick. Welcome home."
"Wo – w – wow," he stammered. "If that's the kind of welcome I get, I'll go away more often."
"Don't you dare!"
They hugged for a few minutes more, until they both heard the grumbles of other passengers.
"Get a room!" and "Could you at least get out of the middle of the walkway?"
"You seem to be feeling better."
She smiled wanly. "It comes and goes," she explained. "Things are looking up, though. Luggage?"
"I've arranged to have it sent home," he replied. "I want to take you someplace before we go."
He thought he saw a tinge of disappointment in her eyes, but it was gone before he could look closer.
Dismissing the feeling, he took her hand and they walked out to her car parked in a police only slot.
"Abusing resources Captain?" he smirked.
"I couldn't wait."
After leaving the airport, Rick directed Kate to Fabrice Hawk's studio.
"It won't be finished until tomorrow, so I hope you don't mind a late Valentine's gift, but I want to show you what Fabrice and I came up with for you."
She smiled. She wouldn't have been angry if his gift was a week late or even if he'd completely forgotten. He'd been gone so long that his mere presence was gift enough.
"Rick!" Fabrice called out as they walked into the studio. "And Kate! It's so nice to see you both again!" He winked at Castle. Come, see what I have for you so far."
They moved over to Fabrice's computer.
"I have the basic layout done. The finished product will by 24x40, the size of an average movie poster."
Kate gasped and tears filled her eyes as Fabrice pulled up the graphic.
The design was simple. Words written in pink on a black background.
A column of twelve words in different fonts, each a word that Rick had used to describe her.
Amazing. Exceptional. Fantastic. Incredible. Phenomenal. Remarkable. Surprising. Unforgettable. Incomparable. Inspiring. Magical. Extraordinary.
Words she didn't always feel she deserved, but every time he said them, she felt cherished.
"I know where I'm going to hang this," she whispered.
"Where?" asked Rick.
"I'll tell you when we get home."
Another 20 minute drive and they were walking into the loft. The first thing Rick noticed after opening the door were the balloons. His eyes twinkled as he looked from them to her.
Striding over to the coffee table where she had placed her gifts, he was surprised to see her nervously biting her lip. He gave her a wide smile when he noticed the heart shaped candy box, and the notebook and pen lying next to it.
"I was just thinking earlier that I needed a new notebook," he grinned at her, and she smiled shakily back.
He was confused by that, but didn't let on. She obviously wanted him to continue with the gifts.
He picked up the notebook and fanned through it. He saw the time listed on the first page and asked, "We have someplace to be tomorrow morning?"
Kate simply nodded.
"Keep going," she ordered with a smile.
He turned back to the gifts and picked up the box with the Flash onesie in it.
"Is this you calling me a kid? Because you do that pretty much every day."
That made her laugh out loud, but she didn't reply.
"Or is it your way of telling me to slow down?" he asked as he picked up the other box. "By the way, you haven't told me where you're going to hang your poster. We're home now." He regards her intently as she does the same.
"Not until you've opened everything, Babe," was the only answer he got.
He opened the NYPD onesie and gazed at her shrewdly. Maybe she was ready to really discuss kids now. They never did talk about it last month; not with her sleeping most of New Year's Day and then he was gone. But maybe now…
He shook his head and reached for a small elongated box.
Kate moved forward and began fiddling with the balloons, moving the red and white and pulling out one that was light blue.
He opened the box and looked down at the stick with a pink plus sign. His head shot up and he gaped at her holding the balloon with the word 'baby' printed on it.
She nodded at him tentatively.
"Yes, really," she played with her hair, a nervous habit Rick hadn't seen in awhile.
"I wanted to tell you earlier, but you were so angry about the tour, and then you were gone before I went to the doctor and I wanted to tell you in person and…"
He cut her off.
"B – Best Valentine's Day gift ever," he stammered, tears filling his eyes.
Kate's eyes overflowed as well.
"You're not angry I didn't tell you earlier? Over the phone, or..."
"Kate," he broke in, "This is perfect. I know it's not a competition, but you beat my gift by a mile. This is the drawer all over again."
"Don't you dare knock my poster, Castle," she retorted lovingly. I want to put that in whichever room becomes the nursery. I know our baby will be all those things, and I want him to see those words and remember them."
"Or her. I don't care. I do want to find out eventually though."
"The date in the notebook?"
"Our first ultrasound. It'll be too soon to find out the sex of the baby, but I still want you there with me."
"There's nowhere else I'd rather be. I meant it, Kate."
She squinted at him quizzically.
"Meant what, Rick?"
"Best Valentine's Day gift ever."
A/N: I'd love to hear what you think about this one! I'll be posting a picture of the poster on my tumblr page, grabnetsrik1 dot tumblr dot com.