Can be seen as AU, but works within the canon story as well, you can insert it somewhere between 3X20 and 3X21 (Slice of death & The dead pool), except the relationship between Kate and Josh ends earlier.
IN HER VEINS
"Ouch," Kate hisses at the uncomfortable pulling in her chest. She peels off her workout clothes and steps into the shower.
Her heart feels like it`s going to jump out of her chest. Maybe she overdid it today?
She`s been tense and uneasy lately and yoga and meditation, as good as they are, don`t seem to be doing their trick and soothing her nerves at the moment.
That nagging feeling that nothing is wrong, but something is not right has taken a permanent residence in her body.
Running used to help a lot, so she started again recently, although these days she`s under the impression that she isn`t just jogging, but trying to outrun herself.
Is she also attempting to outrun this current fear of the possibility of being pregnant? Between Josh`s foreign projects and their busy, irregular schedules they haven`t even seen each other in several weeks, let alone being intimate. But that one time, when she was on a few days` break from her pill and she was happy after wrapping that bomb case, when Castle saved Manhattan… When she just grabbed Josh and they didn't use any protection…
Are they going to pay for it now? She, Josh and their baby?
Kate Beckett a mother – ha! Now, that`s a joke of the year.
She has worried increasingly for four days now and she can`t take it any longer. Even the guys at work are beginning to look at her suspiciously. Yesterday, Castle called her distracted. And all she wanted to do is shout in his face that had he not gone off to the Hamptons with his second ex-wife almost a year ago, who knows, maybe she wouldn`t have been in this pickle now! Or maybe she would have been pregnant by him! It`s his fault, all his fault!
Only, it`s not, and Castle is just observant and sweetly concerned about her.
She continues at work as normal as she`s able to, only occasionally catching a glance of her bag where she had stuffed two pregnancy tests bought on the way to the precinct. No matter how desperate she is to know, a police precinct bathroom isn`t the right place to confirm that she`s going to be a mother. She flies out of the building as soon as the clock strikes five.
At home, she rips the first box open, reads the instructions and locks herself in the bathroom. Funny, she`s home alone, but she still makes sure the latch is on.
Her heart beats faster than after the murderous morning workout.
OK, the longest two minutes in history have passed, time to look.
Kate catches her own reflection in the mirror, as if for the last time before she divides her life between before and after the baby. Josh`s baby. She feels sweat drops forming on her forehead. She is so not ready for this. And with Josh? He`s a really good guy and hey have fun together, and the baby will certainly be cute, but… Has he ever told her that he loved her? No, she doesn`t remember. But then she doesn`t remember saying it to him either. She likes him a lot, but love? She shakes her head.
Kate, you can do it, she tells herself. You have great, supportive friends. Lanie will adore this baby like it`s her own. Ryan and Espo will be the best Uncles any baby could wish for. And Castle… Oh, God, Castle… Well, he`s a father already and a damn amazing one at that, maybe he will share his advice without gloating? She chuckles at the thought. Trust Richard Castle to make her laugh even in a moment like this. And Josh. Of course, Josh. Kate has no doubt Josh will do his best to be there whenever he`s in town. But who`s going to be there with her when the baby is awake for the third time at night? Who will take her toddler to the park? And what if she has to work at night and Josh is doing a night shift?
What if Josh proposes?
She looks down at the stick.
She examines the stick, searching for any faults.
Right, she has another one. Different brand, maybe this is a good one. Because the other stick must be broken, there is no other way.
Plus means pregnant, minus – not pregnant, OK.
They`re both broken!
What time is it? Just before six. Doctor Larkin should still be in her office.
"Hello, Doctor Larkin, it`s Kate Beckett."
"Kate, hi!" the physician greets her warmly. "However can I be of help?"
"Charlotte, I`m so sorry to be calling you so late. You`re probably ready to go home now. I was just wondering if there was any possibility that I could see you tomorrow morning?"
"Is something wrong? Is it urgent?"
"Well, it is urgent for me. Um, I have just taken two different pregnancy tests and they are both negative, but my period is late and I`m tired and achy and… there was an intercourse without protection some time ago… I`ve been driving myself crazy for the past few days, I just need to know, Charlotte."
"OK, Kate. I can see you tomorrow morning, but I`m afraid I won`t be here at the practice. On Tuesdays I take patients at the hospital. Can you come in at half past eight?"
"Yes. Yes, I can. Thank you so much, Charlotte. I just want to keep it quiet for the moment though."
"Kate, I work in the same hospital as your boyfriend, but it doesn`t mean I`m going to share what`s said between you and I. You are still my patient and any information you share with me is confidential."
"I know, I`m just…"
"It`s OK, you`re nervous," the doctor says soothingly. "You will know for sure before you leave my office tomorrow, Kate. You have a stressful job and you told me the last time you were here that you started a new exercise regime. If you`re doing too much, you might miss your period as well, it`s not always pregnancy."
Kate finds herself hanging onto the doctor`s last words like a lifeline.
"You are definitely not pregnant," Doctor Larkin announces to her the next day. "I`ll run a couple other tests, but from what you`re saying now it seems that you just need a break, Kate. And judging by the look on your face, this non-pregnancy wasn`t planned?"
"So, take that hunky man of yours, use protection and have some fun away in the sun for a week or two. You`re doing too much and sometimes the body does a mini reset, so to speak."
No, Kate says quietly to herself. I won`t be taking anyone anywhere for a while. And sex? Forget the thing altogether, I`ve had my share, thank you.
All day at work she`s thinking how tomorrow she`s going to end things with Josh. They both deserve much better than a limbo like this. Her own reactions to the possibility of having a child with him showed her rather clearly that she has been lying to herself thinking that she could be happy in a non-committal relationship like this. And Josh, a fantastic, educated, caring, driven man should be a dream come true, but he`s not enough. He`s not her dream, not her prince, not her fairytale.
Later on at home, she shuffles her feet into the kitchen and pulls out a bottle of wine. Then she stops in her tracks, puts the bottle away and with a wide smile drops two bags of camomile tea into a large teapot, the way she`s done in the last few days.
Calming the nerves, just like the doctor suggested.
An unexpected knock on the door makes her heart quicken with excitement, especially that it sounds pretty similarly to Castle`s way of knocking. He commented earlier on at the precinct that she looked so much more relaxed today; he`s probably here to dig for more information.
She opens the door and freezes.
"Josh!" she exclaims in surprise.
"Hi," he says. A crease in his forehead and so much tension contained in one word, it instantly makes Kate nervous.
She motions for him to come in, certain that her own expression mirrors his, although she doesn`t know yet why he`s so serious. Or maybe she does… She`s seen that look in his eyes before, each time he told her he was going away on another "doctors without borders" project.
So, here we go again, she thinks, immediately chastising herself for thinking it as she knows he doesn't go to party but to save people`s lives.
Josh glances at the mug on the coffee table and the crease deepens. His breath hitches and terror flashes through his eyes.
"I`m sorry for dropping in unannounced, we were supposed to see each other tomorrow," he manages to utter, his eyes fixed on the woman in front of him.
"No need to apologize, Josh. I`m actually glad to see you today," Kate says with a little smile and holds up an empty mug. "Care for some herbal tea?" she points to the teapot. "I`ve just made some camomile."
Josh swallows hard and his eyes shut tightly for a second.
"Freshly out of white wine?" He dares to ask.
"Call it a new routine. I`ll stick with it for a while, I think," she says while purring his tea.
He picks a mug of steaming hot liquid from her and watches her open her mouth to say something else.
"I saw you today, Kate," he cuts in. "I watched you through the window as you left the hospital this morning."
Her eyes snap at him.
There`s no need to evade, she knows exactly what he means.
"You were at Doctor Larkin`s office," Josh states, resting the mug on the table and pulling a chair to sit opposite Kate who has sunk slowly onto the sofa.
She tries to form her words…
"Kate, Charlotte is a gynaecologist – obstetrician," he presses, accentuating he last word, as if she didn`t know what the doctor`s specialization was. "What`s going on?" He asks, although he`s sure he can answer his own question.
She lifts up her head and looks straight at him. "I thought I was pregnant."
"I`m not," she says. "I`m not pregnant."
She watches his eyes close involuntarily, and his lungs release a breath that he probably didn't know he`d been holding in.
Relief. This is what she sees in him. Relief.
He knows he`s free to roam the world again, with no constraints or responsibilities, except the ones that he places upon himself. His job. His love.
"How did it all happen?" He asks, his features visibly calmer, just curious.
"I was late," Kate starts. "I mean, I still am, but that`s not the point," she swats away an imaginary intruder.
"How long?" His tone of voice suddenly slips into a professional one that she knows and likes.
"A week," she reports. "The thing is, I`m never late. The last time it happened it was after my mother`s death, Josh. And I`ve been tired and emotional," she continues.
"It could be many things, Kate," he tells her calmly.
"I know, but my first thought was pregnancy. I mean, if it was, I would have been only a few weeks along…" she almost whispers the last couple of words, making them both aware of the last time they were together, after the bomb case, just the day before Josh`s trip to Kailahun in Sierra Leone. "I took two tests yesterday morning and they were both negative, but I wanted to be sure, so I called Charlotte…"
"I see," came out quietly, with a hint of disappointment.
Kate breathes deeply before continuing, "There`s definitely no baby. She took a…" she stops before saying more.
"Pap smear?" Josh suggests.
"Yeah," Kate winces, all of a sudden completely sober and aware that she`s sharing too much. Josh doesn't need to know any of that. She isn`t pregnant. There`s no baby. That`s all.
"Kate, are you OK?" He watches her concerned.
"Yeah. Yeah, I`m OK," she runs a hand through her hair and manages a little smile.
"Why didn`t you tell me?"
"I don`t know, Josh. I think I`m just used to dealing with my stuff on my own."
"Your stuff?" He stifles a chuckle. "Kate, you thought you were expecting my child. This is our stuff, not just yours. Would you have told me at all had I not seen you today?"
"Yes, I would," she says without hesitation. "I was planning on telling you tomorrow. We aren`t having a baby, but you deserve to know anyway."
"Kate," he brushes the back of his hand against hers. "I would have been there for you, I hope you know that? I would have gone to the doctor with you today, and if we did have a child, I would have taken care of you two."
"I know you would. I have no doubt you would, Josh," she nods. "You`re one of the good guys."
"But the fact that you preferred to stress over it on your own and for days… it says a lot. You chose not to include me," he says and she rises her eyes up to his.
"Josh," Kate begins after a long pause, "we`ve been together for almost a year. Probably half of that time we spent apart, because of your work. We have never talked about moving forward in any way, moving in together, meeting each other`s families and friends. It`s more than mutual physical attraction, it`s more than just sleeping with each other whenever you`re in town, but still…"
"It`s not enough," he finishes for her.
Her heart thumps hard in her chest.
"When I thought I was pregnant, I pictured myself as a single mother. I know you would have been there to share the Christmases, birthdays and school runs. You`d have been there for football games or ballet recitals, but it would have been me alone bringing that child home to bed. I am so sorry to say it, Josh, but even my imagination didn't come up with stories of the two of us raising the family together. I`m so sorry," she squeezes his hand in apology and her eyes and a lonely tear trickles down her cheek.
"Kate, it`s OK. Really, it`s fine. Although, maybe you`re wrong, maybe we would have fallen madly in love and lived happily ever after?"
She lets out a short laugh and looks at him as he gives her a wink.
Then he takes her hand, "I think we both realize what`s happening here. Maybe it`s a blessing in disguise, helping us to be honest with each other and move forward, move on?"
Kate examines his face as Josh continues. "I have a confession, too. I got an offer to go back to Sierra Leone, for longer this time."
"In two weeks` time, initially for three months, but there`s a strong possibility of extending for another two, so I`ll be most likely gone for five months. It`s a long project. But the important thing is that I got the documents almost three weeks ago, Kate."
"And you chose not to tell me," she says, pieces falling into place.
"You know how much I wanted to go back there. I was torn between the excitement and not wanting to cause you pain. It`s going to sound terrible, but… the excitement was stronger. I need to give them my final decision the day after tomorrow at the latest, and I wanted to talk to you about it when we met tomorrow, but then this morning I noticed you leave Charlotte`s office and I knew I had to come see you straight away. And when I saw you drinking camomile tea instead of your regular white wine at this hour…"
"You were convinced I was pregnant."
"Yeah. So, I actually came to tell you that I was going to refuse the project. I was going to stay in New York."
Kate`s head bobs absentmindedly a few times.
"And had you not seen me today?"
"We would have met tomorrow as planned… and… Kate, I am truly sorry," he breathes out deeply. "I was going to tell you that it was over between us. So, when I went away, you wouldn`t feel like you had to wait for me, like you were tied to me."
"And now you`re saying that you will be gone for months, not would. If you thought I was pregnant when you came in, when did the would change into will?"
"About two minutes ago."
"I see. You want to go back?"
"I do, Kate."
"And you should. You are an amazing surgeon, Josh, and you`ll save so many people`s lives. I appreciate that you would have stayed in New York for me and the baby, but look at us, we wouldn`t have worked out. We are both good people, but not right for each other."
"I kept thinking today, how ironic it is that I`m a cardiologist, I fix people`s hearts for a living, all the while continuously breaking yours, and my own. And it`s not right."
"Remember when I told you about Rebecca?" He begins with new energy.
"Your college girlfriend?"
"Uhm. You remind me of her. Please, don`t ever think that you were a replacement or a stand-in, because you are too good for that. But there are things that you do or say that sometimes make me feel like I moved back in time. It was so long ago, but I still dream about her sometimes. It`s crazy, to have a woman like you and still chase some dream. So many guys would declare me insane for letting Kate Beckett go. I mean, look at Castle; he would eat you three times before breakfast every morning if you let him!" He laughs and Kate is instantly filled with fire.
"Are you alright?" He asks her again.
"I`m fine," she answers croakily. "Surprisingly fine. I didn`t think people usually broke up in such a calm manner. Josh, you deserve your Rebecca, whoever she is, and although, as of now, I am not your girlfriend anymore and have no say in any matters concerning you, I want you to go to Africa and do the best job you have ever done. I wasn`t sure I wanted a family of my own, but this morning when Doctor Larkin told me that I certainly wasn`t expecting a child, I was a bit sad. I`m not ready just yet, but I think I would like to be a mother one day."
"I`m still not sure whether or not I`d want my own kids, but there isn`t a shadow of a doubt in me that you are going to be an incredible mom, Kate. And lucky the bastard who gets to make and raise those babies with you."
They talk some more and after she closes the door after Josh, Kate orders a takeout and plunks on the couch in front of tv, feeling blue, happy, relieved and tired.
So, she`s single again. Wait till Lanie hears the news, she laughs to herself.
She can`t help but feel grateful for the past few days, despite all the tears and fear about the future that she experienced. Even if the pregnancy scare didn`t happen, Josh would have broken up with her anyway, and right now she would have felt lonely and heartbroken, but instead, she`s peaceful and something is already stirring in the ashes.
And she has a baby to thank for the lesson. A baby that never was.
Will she really be a mom one day? And what did Josh call her, an incredible mom? She has no idea how to be a parent. Her child`s Daddy will have to be a good one, so she can learn from him. If it happens, she wants to be a good parent, a great one, like her Mom and Dad were to her.
Like Castle is to Alexis.
Laughing, explaining, teaching…
Hugging, cradling in his arms… the baby`s tiny fingers touching his smiling face…
Playing with the child. Watching his little girl building a Lego tower. Or a little boy. Or both. Castle has so many toys, there`s enough for a couple of children.
A doorbell startles her and she jumps, shaking off from her reverie. She pays the delivery man.
A while later, as she eats, it hits her how she always craves Thai food literally a day before her period comes. Must be something with hormones. She relaxes. Life is good.
Except she can`t stop thinking about Castle. How is it possible that the moment Josh mentioned "a bastard" she will make her babies with, her thoughts immediately flew to her work partner.
That kiss a few months ago, wow. It was staged, rushed and a distraction for that mob guard, but it was everything. Kate doesn't allow herself to recall it often, because the mere thought of it weakens her knees and evokes all kinds of reactions in her body, which she can never reveal if she wants to hold up her in-control image, especially in front of Castle. He cannot know what he did to her in that moment. What he does to her every time he`s around. How he`s gotten under her skin. How just a minute ago she imagined her children with his DNA in them. Like he thrums in her veins or something.
OK, she needs a distraction and NOW!
Music, give her music, the louder the better!
Thank you, Universe!
Except, Castle will be there, too.
Oh, she`s so screwed!