Disclaimer: The only part of Castle that I own is the TV on which I watch the show.

She doesn't have time for a drink, anyway. She has to meet Martha and Alexis for coffee. Fill them in, draw them in, get their help.

At eleven-thirty, sitting in a booth in a diner around the corner from the Martha Rodgers School of Acting, the three women are laughing as if they've been knocking back Cosmos, not sipping slightly burnt coffee from heavy ceramic mugs. Beckett is beyond relieved that Castle's daughter reacted so enthusiastically to the plan. Alexis has already tucked the small bag that Beckett entrusted to her—though not before she and her grandmother examined and exclaimed over the contents—in her shoulder bag.

"So you'll do it, Martha?" Beckett asks, still a little nervous.

"Of course I will, darling," she says. "It's so seldom that I get to play a co-conspirator, especially one who is permitted—no, requested—to ad lib. It feeds an actor's soul, you know. And I'm touched that you asked me, have faith in me." Her jeweled hand moves over her heart. "Want my participation."

"Of course I have faith in you, Martha. And there's no one better for this job, " Beckett assures her. "What time works best for you?"

"Well, there's one gap in my schedule that would be good, when afternoon classes have ended but before the evening coaching begins. Sometime between four and six?"

"That's perfect. Just let me know when you're ready and then I'll make my behind-the-scenes move. And speaking of move, I have to run. Sorry not to spend more time, but—"

"Understood, sweetheart," Martha says, squeezing Beckett's arm. "I'll be in touch."

"Thank you so much," Beckett answers, standing up and then bending over to give both women a hug.

She runs to the subway for her next appointment. Though she's already gone over her choices by phone, she wants to see them, make sure the colors are right. It's a small order, just five things, but still. She needn't have worried: it's all perfect. She asks if everything can be dropped off by nine o'clock tomorrow morning and, once assured that it will be, pays the bill and leaves. No freebies here, but no complaints, either.

It occurs to Beckett that she hasn't eaten, probably since, let's see. Well, since breakfast yesterday. The Hood Ornament completely put her off lunch as well as the delicacies at the museum reception, and when she got home she was (a) too busy to eat and (b) forgot. This morning she had had far too much to do to stop and feed her face. There's a casual lunch place on the next block, so she ducks in there and has her favorite speedy go-to meal, scrambled eggs on toast. Protein, carbs. She'll have something green later. Maybe tomorrow, if. If.

She checks her watch. Martha may call as early as four, which doesn't give her a lot of time, but enough for a flying visit to Barely There, her favorite lingerie store. She's due for a little indulgence, and a $250 handmade wisp of a bra is definitely an indulgence. She's had her eye on it for weeks. Please, please, please let it be in stock. Twenty minutes later she's in a fitting room with a lot more than the lacy bra. Not long after that she's on her way out, carrying a tiny bag with even tinier garments and not minding one iota that her bank account is $800 lighter than it had been when she walked in. Worth it, she thinks. Totally worth it. She heads for home, and has just dropped the shopping bag on her bed when her phone buzzes.

"Hi, Martha."

"All systems go, Katherine."

"What did you say to persuade him to come over?"

"I told him that David Mamet might be dropping by to see my workshop."

"You're kidding."

"Well of course I'm kidding, but I sounded dead serious when I told him. I was very convincing. Before you could say Glengarry Glen Ross he was on his way. He'll probably be here in five minutes, so the coast is clear."

"I can't thank you enough, Martha."

"Nonsense, darling. What you're doing is more than I could ever have hoped. Now, go."

She goes, straight to the loft. By now all the staff in Castle's building know her, and don't give a thought to her comings and goings. And on this particular visit she's coming in empty-handed but will be going out with a small suitcase. She doesn't want to linger, because the Mamet ruse may become obvious early on. Fortunately she knows exactly what she wants from his bedroom; she packs it neatly, and gets the hell out.

But she hasn't spoken to Castle since their brief conversation this morning when he was pacing the hallway outside her apartment. She misses him. She's missed him all day. She could definitely use a drink now, especially if her drinking partner were her fiancé. She texts him. "Want to get a drink?"

Rapid response. "And dinner?"

"Can't. Girls' night out with Lanie." Good thing he can't see her face. Dead giveaway. "I think she's suspicious about us and I have to divert her."

"Dinner tomorrow?"

"Definitely. Maybe lunch. But a drink now? Old Haunt in fifteen? I know the owner. Good guy. Might spot us a beer."

"Who is he, an old boyfriend?"

"Nope, my last one. Ever."

"On my way. Save me a seat."

"If it's crowded, we can share one."

"Even if it's not."

Tucked in the back booth of The Old Haunt with him, she's tempted to stay. Burning to. She can't. If she stays now, she'll stay later and then she'll stay over or he'll stay over and that can't happen. Not tonight. No way, Renée. What she does do, given the exceptionally poor lighting where they're sitting, is give him a promissory note in the form of a kiss that's designed to knock his socks off. And everything else. She scoots to the end of the bend. "Gotta go, Castle. See you tomorrow."

He's having a little trouble catching his breath. "So we're definitely doing stuff tomorrow?"

"Yes. We are definitely, definitely doing stuff tomorrow. Night!"

And she's gone. On the way home she stops and gets a slice of pizza. It's all she can manage, though she's remarkably calm, she tells herself, for someone who is acting so out of character. Spontaneous. Nuts. Not nuts.

She changes into another Castle T shirt that she appropriated—on International Coffee Day, come to think of it, just a couple of weeks ago—and checks her list. Done. Virtually all done, except for packing a very small bag for tomorrow. She lays everything out on her bed, goes over and over and over it, nods, and packs. Castle's small suitcase is by her front door, and she puts her own carry bag on top. She pats it. "Done."

Falling asleep is tough, not least because she has hardly slept alone for the last four months. Everything is ready for tomorrow, including her, but still. Still. She starts running movie dialogue through her brain, which often helps her insomnia. When "Tomorrow is another day" pops up, she can only laugh. And laugh some more and then some more until she finally rolls over onto her side, and drifts off in Castle's "but first, coffee" T-shirt.

She'd set her alarm, as if she needed it, for six. Makes coffee and forces herself to eat half a bagel and part of an apple. Then she showers, washes her hair, dries it, and puts on her makeup. Just your ordinary work day, she tells herself. "No, definitely not your ordinary day," she says aloud to her mirror image. She's grateful both for the sun and the temperature, which is cool enough to call for a coat, since she'd just as soon not be seen outside in what she's wearing. Nothing wrong with what she's wearing; it looks wonderful, if she does say so. Just not your ordinary morning attire. "Not your ordinary morning," she says, as she puts on her shoes. She'd called for a car the night before, not wanting to fight for a taxi or, worse, struggle on to the subway. The driver had texted her just now. He was downstairs. She grabs the two bags, opens the door and takes the next step into the extraordinary day.

In the car, she texts Castle. "Got a busy morning. Can you meet me for lunch?"

"Absolutley. Thought I didn't have a busy morning but Bob Weldon just called and wants me to come to some hush-hush meeting in his office at ten."

"Sure the Mayor will spring you for lunch?"

"Yeah, said it would be quick."

"Made a res."

"You? Beckett! What's the occasion?"

"Heard about a fantastic new place on the river. Hudson Heaven."

"That place that got the total rave in the Times last week?"


"How'd you swing that?"

"Know a guy. We have to be there at 12:30. Gotta go. See ya. xo"

She managed not to drop the phone once during that sweaty-palmed textathon, and now she's here. Oh, boy. After the driver pops the trunk and gets the bags out, she walks to a side entrance where Bob's assistant is waiting for her.

"Morning, Detective."

"Good morning, Tanya. Thanks for being my escort, since I have no idea where I'm supposed to go." They make a series of turns, the suitcase wheels whirring on the terrazzo floor, and stop at a solid-oak door.

"You're right in here," Tanya said, gesturing for Beckett to go in. "I'm next door, so holler if you need anything. I'm taking this roll-on suitcase to the Mayor, right?"

"Yes, please. And thank you for everything."

She steps in and sees Martha and Alexis by the window. "Oh, thank God," she says, race-walking to grab them in a hug. "You're here."

"Why don't you take off your coat, Katherine, and hand it to me."

"Not sure if I can manage the buttons."

"I can," Alexis says, undoing them easily and then lifting off the coat.

Both women gasp when they see Beckett's dress. It's ivory silk, flowing liquidly over her and just brushing the tops of her knees. A high neck and cutaway sleeves leave her shoulders bare, and her arms mostly exposed. A long, narrow slit runs from just above her collarbone to just between her breasts.

"Beautiful!" Martha says.

"Gorgeous," says Alexis.

"You think he'll like it? I can't believe I could get it. Just luck, yesterday, before I met you."

"Like it?" Martha says, one perfectly arched brow raised. "I hope you packed an oxygen tank in that bag you brought for him. And speaking of packing things, Alexis and I didn't know if you were set for something old, something borrowed and something blue, so we brought these." She opens her bag and removes a box of sapphire earrings. "They cover all three categories, darling. They belonged to my grandmother, which makes them, dear Lord, really really old, and they're borrowed from me and they're blue."

"Don't let me cry, Martha. Thank you, I—. Just thank you. My mom is here with me." She holds up her right hand. "I'm wearing her ring that I used to wear around my neck. Oh, and oh, God how could I have forgotten? Have you seen—yes, here it is, on the chair. The boxes of flowers. A small bouquet for each of you and one for me and a boutonnière for my father and one for Castle, which we should give to Tanya. Do you have the rings, Alexis?"

"Yes, here, in my pocket."

"You won't believe it, but I got them free."

"Free?" Martha squeaks. "How on earth? They're from Van Cleef and Arpels, for heaven's sake."

"I know, amazing, right? When I went to pick them up yesterday the saleswoman wouldn't let me pay. Said they were a gift from Henry Billings, the number-two guy there. I was bowled over. Years and years ago when I was a beat cop I helped his son out a jam. He was just a kid. But his father never forgot it, apparently."

There's a knock on the door. Beckett knows exactly who it is, and suddenly feels a little weak at the silk-dusted knees. "Come in."

It's her father, looking very handsome in a charcoal-gray suit. "Hi, Dad."

"Hi, Katie," he says, pulling her in for a hug. "You look so beautiful. I wondered if I'd ever see this day, and here it is. This is one hell of a surprise you're pulling off."

"Yeah?" She's suddenly bashful.

"Yeah!" one baritone and two soprano voices say in unison.

"It's time," Martha says. "Alexis, could you go over and see if Tanya is ready for us?"


That leaves Beckett with her father and Castle's mother. "So. This is it." There's silence. "Your arm okay, Dad? Hope I don't break it when you walk me in there."

"I've been working out," he says solemnly. "Think I can take it."

Alexis pokes her head through the door. "Ready! You come with me, Gram. See you in a minute, Kate and Mr. Beckett."

When the women have left, Beckett takes her father's hand. "Don't say anything now, Dad, please. I have to hold it together for just a little while."

"You got it. Let's go."

As they near the Mayor's office, someone inside cracks the doors open just enough so that she can see two trumpeters at the back of the room. And the instant they see her they begin to play. She stops and turns to her father. "Dad! Dad! It's 'My Spirit Be Joyful.' The Bach, Bach. It's Mom's favorite. "

"I know. And the minute you told me about today I thought about Mom always saying that she wanted it for your wedding day. So with some help from Alexis I got two trumpet students from Juilliard, and here we are." He beams. "I think they're really opening the doors now."

And there's Castle, in his blue suit and pale blue-not-white shirt, standing, stunned, next to his pal the Mayor. Martha and Alexis are sitting on chairs a few feet away, and her father, after safely delivering his daughter, goes to join them.

"Beckett?" Castle whispers. "Bob told me this was some, uh. Some. Wow."

"Castle?" she whispers back. "Want to get married?" He's still gaping. "You'd better say yes. I have a gun."

"In that?" he squeaks. "Where did you hide it?"

"Pfff. You ready?"

"Yes." A grin has spread across his face. "Oh, yes."

Two platinum rings later, and by the power invested in Bob et cetera et cetera, they're married.

"You can kiss me, Castle," Beckett says, half an inch from his lips. "It's legal. And I think everyone knows we're together now."

She didn't have to tell him again, as he gave her his version of the kiss she'd landed on him the night before.

There's champagne and a lot of laughing and then the newly-stitched-together family of five goes to Hudson Heaven of lunch. And afterwards, when it's down to the two of them, Beckett takes Castle's hand and says, "It won't be dark for another couple of hours, but it already is on half the planet. Wanna get a head start on our wedding night?"

"You have a place in mind, Beckett?"

"Yup. Mandarin Oriental. I got us a room. With a very, very big bed. Windows are overlooking the park. I checked."

"You want to spend our wedding night looking out the window?"

"Definitely not. Just mentioned because no one will be able to see us except the occasional bird. Maybe a love bird. And before you say anything, remember I'm allowed to be corny today. I'm the bride."

"I was going to say that's adorable."

"You weren't. The car's waiting for us outside. But before we do—" She looks serious. "I have one tiny thing I have to tell you. Kind of a confession."

He blanches. "What? What do you have to tell me?"

"I never thought I'd say this, but I'm grateful to Serena Kaye. She made me insanely jealous and I didn't want that anymore. If she hadn't showed up and plastered herself all over you the other day, I never would have done this."

He waits a minute. "You didn't want to invite her to the wedding, then?"

"Not that grateful, Castle." She looks around the room. "There's no one here. Can I have a kiss, for the road?"

A/N Many thanks to everyone who read, to those who followed or favorited, and especially to those who took the time to review. I wish you all Happy Thanksgiving, no matter what your nationality or where you live in this world, and hope that one day we'll all see a more peaceful planet.