Richard Castle, now an old man, reminisces about his life with Beckett.


Despite the warm, sunny weather, the elderly man standing at the wrought iron gate wore a sweater and thick, wool sport coat. While his face was lined and his posture was slightly stooped, he was still broad-shouldered and had a full head of thin, white hair.

Clutching a bouquet of red roses close to his chest, the man took a deep breath then opened the gate. He gripped the handle of his cane tightly and walked with a slow, uneven stride through entrance, along the path, then a short distance to the left. The headstone at which he stopped bore a simple inscription:

Senator Katherine Houghton Beckett

1979 - 2060

She fought for justice.

Richard Castle knelt down, lay the roses on the grass, then slowly raised himself up, using the cane to bear his weight, standing silently for a minute with closed eyes until the trembling subsided.

"Flowers for your grave," he murmured and then smiled sadly. "Appropriate, isn't it? After all, that was the case that brought us together."

Shaking his head, the man went on. "Oh, I was a bad boy in those days, wasn't I? So full of my own charm. And you. You were so beautiful and smart and courageous. Mind you, it didn't take long for you to put me in handcuffs. Was that you doing your job or a sign of your own playfulness, even then? What was it you whispered in my ear at the end? I shook your hand goodbye and said, 'Too bad. It would have been great.' You coyly bit your lip and whispered in my ear, 'You've no idea.' I couldn't take my eyes off of you as you strutted away. Somehow I knew even then that I would move Heaven and Earth to be with you.

"And now here we are back in New York, where it all began. In the fashionable New York City Marble Cemetery no less. Your colleagues thought you should be buried in Washington, in Woodlawn maybe. But New York is home, isn't it? This was what you wanted, to come back home. Ryan, Esposito, Lanie, they were all here to greet you, though they're not getting any younger themselves.

"Those were good times. I was lost before meeting you, you know. That's the real reason I'd killed off Derrick Storm. I had no idea where my life was going. Even writing seemed to lose any kind of meaning for me. Something was missing. Oh, I had friends, and there were parties and for that matter plenty of women, but something was missing. You, Kate.

"It was quite a dance we danced, wasn't it? For a time, you weren't ready, then I, then you. But finally we clicked. I think we'd both known all along that we would. And through it all, our work brought us closer and closer together. Even when it nearly killed us. Perhaps especially then.

"Of course, you remember my favourite case, don't you? Yes, the attempted murder of Paul Deschile by the supposed time traveller, Garrett Ward. Simon Doyle, claiming he'd been sent back in time to stop the murder, told us we'd marry, have three kids, that I'd eventually write literary fiction, and that you'd become a senator. Even I didn't believe him, though I wanted to. Mind you, the way he disappeared at the end... Then years later you told me about the coffee stain on the letter. Well, that just about sealed it as far as I was concerned. You, bless your heart, were skeptical as ever. Just to shut me up I think, you used your senate connections to find him. Turned out, of course he was part of a secret group of temporal anthropologists. I'll never forget the look on his face when we met him on his return from 2013."

After another pause he continued. "I miss our adventures, Kate. I never expected to outlive you. Never wanted to. Wish I hadn't. And now here I am, 94 years old, and you, well, you've been gone five years now. Mind you, I imagine you'd have wanted to go out swinging, and you did. I was up in the Senate gallery. I wasn't sure why I felt the need to go that day in particular, it just felt right. You got up to speak and gave them hell as only you can. When you finished and sat back down, the whole Senate, both sides, stood to applaud. That's when you collapsed. At first, with all the others standing, no one noticed. I did. But somehow I knew that you were gone, that there was no escaping death this time. That's why I just sat there when pandemonium erupted. After all the times we'd cheated death, you and I, it was just a matter of time until it caught up with us. And now I'm waiting for my time, so we can be together again. Because as much as I love the kids, I still want to be with you, Kate.

"As for the kids, they're doing great, but then you know that. Jim is in California working on the script for the Nikki Heat reboot. Funny that we named him after your father but he ended up becoming a writer like his old man. Mind you, he writes screenplays, not books. But then nobody's perfect. Malcolm, he's still with the CIA. Took after his grandfather, I guess. He doesn't tell me what he does or where he's posted. Says he'd have to kill me if he did. Thing is, there's times I'm not completely sure he's joking.

"Kathy is still a New York City DA. Word is that she could become a judge. And her children are great. The oldest is starting college this fall. The other one, well, he's a good kid but he needs to find his way. He took your passing really hard, you two were always so close somehow. You had a gift for communicating with him that the rest of us lack.

"And as for Alexis, well, what can I say? She changed the world, didn't she? Just like Malcolm's namesake said she would. She's back at the car, waiting. I asked her for some time alone with you.

"So I think that's everyone. Oh, except for me, I suppose. Well, I won the Pulitzer for my last book. I wish you could have been at the ceremony. Yes, it was a great honour, but still, all I could think about was how much I wished you were there. After all, it was when you left the NYPD and ran for office that I finally turned to literary fiction.

"At this point I think it really will be my last book. It was about us, you know. Our journey. It's about a couple who run into each other at various stages of their life. Neither have been happy. They both feel like something's been missing. Finally, they finally realize that what's been missing is each other."

Castle paused as his eyes started to water. Just old age, he thought. I'm sure they're not tears. After blowing his nose, he continued.

"You know, I'm just not whole without you. I miss you, Kate. I miss you so much it hurts. Ow! Actually, it really does hurt. Really, really hurts. OK… don't worry… it'll pass in a minute. Ah, that's better. Told you it would pass."

Castle heard a shout behind him. Turning around, he saw that Alexis was calling. "It's OK, honey," Castle said. "I'm fine."

Time is a funny thing, Castle thought as he looked back at the car. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds while he'd been here. It was getting darker, and a fog was coming in. As Alexis got out of the car, he saw her not only as she was now but also as she had been. All those images, of the child, the teenager, the adult, somehow superimposed all at once. She had aged well. Still in good shape, her face was lined but her eyes were clear and as intelligent as ever, and she still had a fair amount of red in her hair.

Alexis ran towards him in tears, then past him, as if she didn't see him.

Puzzled, Castle then heard something behind him.

"Still breaking women's hearts, Castle?"

That voice. Turning around slowly, Castle saw Beckett, standing with her arms folded and a bemused smile on her face, looking just like she had on the day he met her. Stunned, he could only gape.

"At a loss for words? What kind of writer are you, anyway?" she asked.

"Kate?" Castle walked to her and took her hands in his. "Kate? How can it be you?"

"Oh, I'm sure you can come up with a crazy theory."

Castle swallowed. "You mean I'm…"

Beckett nodded towards the grave. Turning, Castle saw an old man sprawled on the ground. Alexis, kneeling down beside him, was crying.

Castle started to walk to her, but Beckett held him back.

"She'll be fine," Beckett said. "She's always been strong. Like her father."

Castle had to clear his throat. "So it's over?"

"Over?" Beckett said. "Castle, it's just beginning. So what do you say? One more adventure together?"

Castle smiled with the boyish smile he'd used to charm women so many years before. "One more adventure," he said.

And with that, Beckett looped her arm through his and together they walked into the mist.


Postscript.

Just like Malcolm's namesake said she would. This is a reference to my Firefly-Castle crossover story, "A Firefly in the Castle".

The Simon Doyle case is, of, course, the brilliant Castle episode "Time Will Tell".