With apologies to Neil Gaiman.


Too shocked, too upset to even cry, Beckett watched the car burn in the gully below. Unable to move, unable to think, she nevertheless became aware that something else was going on around her. Forcing herself to turn away, she saw that the emergency crew were staring upwards and pointing. Beckett looked and saw a parachute descending in their direction. Someone, a man it looked like, was hooting like a wild animal and kicking his legs. As the parachute approached the ground, she recognized the man and felt her legs give out from under her.

There was applause and cheering as the man landed. He was immediately buried by the chute, and the onlookers scrambled to get him untangled. Beckett found the strength to get back to her feet and run to him.

"Castle!" she shrieked.

By the time she reached him, he was free of the chute. He was unkempt and his suit wrinkled as if he'd slept in it a week. Smiling that coy smile of his, he said, "Hi, honey. I'm home."

Beckett nearly smothered him with hugs and kisses. When she finally stepped back and looked him up and down, she asked, "What happened?"

"Ah," said Castle, scratching his head. "Well, that's quite a story."

Crossing her arms, Beckett's smile faded. "I'm listening," she said.

"You're not going to believe it," said Castle.

"Try me."

"Well, to start, there were these crazy kids following me, driving way too close. I thought they were going to drive me right off the road, so I just slowed down. They finally got bored and sped away. Soon after, I came to a gas station and went in to buy a Coke. When I came out, there were these guys milling about the car."

At that point, Castle stopped and cleared his throat.

"And…?" prompted Beckett.

"And they were green and only three feet tall. Yes, I know how it sounds but I'm not pulling your leg. So anyway, I go up to them and ask, 'Can I help you?'

"Next thing I know, they're mumbling to each other in some language I don't understand and they come and surround me. One of them points up at me then points down to the ground. I figured he wanted me to kneel down, so I did. Next I know, he's pinning a medallion on my jacket. Two things happened then. I could suddenly understand what they were saying, and I wasn't on Earth any more."

"Not on Earth," Beckett repeated, an eyebrow raised.

"Swear to God," said Castle. I was in a large room with metal floors and walls. Well, the room was large, but the ceiling wasn't particularly tall. Had to keep my head ducked down. There were windows, and what do I see through the windows but the Earth below. We were in orbit."

Beckett, arms still folded, started tapping her foot.

"Honest," continued Castle. "Then one of the green men approached me. He said there was a prophecy, and that an Earthling would be found who could end the thousand year war. They'd never figured it out though, the prophecy, because it spoke of the man who was a castle, and they wondered, how can a man be a castle?"

"A man who was a castle. Meaning you, of course," said Beckett. "This alien race of three foot tall green people had a thousand year war that Richard Castle could end."

"Exactly," said Castle. "They told me we'd travel to another galaxy, and said to look out the window 'cause this part was really cool. So I did. And what did I see but a giant door in space. It opened, we went through, and then the stars were all different. And there was no sign of Earth."

"Really," said Beckett. "That must have been disconcerting."

"You've no idea," said Castle, still so excited that he was bouncing on his toes. "So I met with a delegation of both sides of the war. They were fighting over a planet. I asked about the planet and it turned out it had two large continents, about equal in size. So I said, why don't one of you take one continent and other takes the other?"

"And they couldn't figure that out after a thousand years?" Beckett asked.

"Guess not. So they agreed and they spit on each other. That's how they close a deal. Gross, right? Then the green guys agreed to take me back.

"Now, I still had my can of Coke in my jacket pocket and by now I was really thirsty. So I took it out to open it. Turns out, that was a big mistake. The little green guys are allergic to aluminum. Not only that, tiny aluminum particulate from the can caused the ship's navigation systems to short circuit. We were flying blind, and the green guys were sneezing their heads off.

"Things got a bit better after I put the can back in my pocket, but they weren't amused. In fact, they kind of looked like what you look like right now."

"I see," said Beckett. "I remind you of a three foot tall, green-skinned alien. That's what you're saying, right?"

"Yes. I mean no. I just meant..." Castle looked closely at Beckett. "I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

"Why don't you finish your story. How did you end up falling with a parachute?"

Castle noticed a change in Beckett's body language. It didn't bode well.

With a gulp, he continued. "They got the ship back under control and made it back to Earth. We'd been gone about week, no kidding, but they time travelled to just back to after they picked me up. Go figure. Then they found my car and started pulling it up with a tractor beam. They said I could get back in once it reached the ship. 'Guys,' I said, 'it doesn't fly.'

"Well, you've never heard cursing until you've heard three foot fall, green, intergalactic cursing. They figured the car was useless and just let it go. I see it landed just over there. Then they brought the ship into the atmosphere, gave me a chute, and tossed me out the airlock. "

Castle looked at Beckett expectantly. Her face seemed to express a hint of mild disbelief.

"Well?" he said.

"Well," she said, "that's the stupidest story I ever heard."

Castle scratched his head, then his face lit into a grin.

"But look," he said, reaching into his pocket. "Here's the can of coke."