For Tanya, because she wanted this. I'm sorry I didn't do it better justice. I have loved every minute of the last 5 years of watching Castle with you; let's never stop.
In the end it's Linus that saves them. Well, it's Linus that realises that their heart rates had slowed and had called emergency services.
She'd never give him crap again for insisting that he integrate the AI with their fitbits. Or for buying and then making her wear a fitbit in the first place.
Recovery was a bitch. Less so for Kate, because as it turns out a bullet to the stomach is far less painful than one through the heart.
Still, Castle gets them through the whole thing by pointing out that they have matching bullet scars on their chests now. Kate can tell he's feeling better when he starts asking to "look at her scar" to compare it with his own.
(She doesn't even mind that it's just a thinly veiled attempt to cop a feel, she smiles and steps in a little closer.)
The case ends weirdly. Since the CIA aren't allowed to operate on US soil, there can't be an official investigation or indictment.
It goes against Kate's sense of justice that the people responsible will never be properly brought to justice, but she's learning that sometimes you have to be satisfied with the grey areas.
They'd gotten word from a "source close to the CIA" about 6 months after they were shot that any threat on their lives had been neutralised.
It's that day that Kate thinks for the first time about fully resigning from the NYPD.
The day Kate tells Castle she wants to resign, he suggests they take that trip to Paris when she does.
They ask her to stay on until they can find a suitable replacement, but 2 months later she's walking out of the 12th Precinct for the last time as Captain Beckett.
She gets home to find her suitcase packed exactly as she would have done herself, and two one-way tickets to Charles De Gaulle the next afternoon.
There's only one extra thing she adds to her bag while Castle's not looking.
Their family (by blood, marriage and choice) are due over for brunch the morning before they leave.
Castle had intended to cook, but Kate insisted they make best use of their newly found time off together. He only pauses long enough to organise to have brunch delivered before thoroughly taking her up on her insistence.
Luckily Alexis, Martha and Hayley have keys and have learned not to go through the office when they arrive at the loft and no-one is visible. They let the caterer in and drink all the coffee before anyone else arrives.
Kate and Rick don't even mind, they've been up for hours and aren't tired at all. They're just happy that they beat the arrival of their precinct family by about 10 minutes.
They don't know that Alexis texted the boys, and they've all been waiting for the all-clear at a coffee shop nearby for nearly 30 minutes.
Sarah Grace is obsessed with her aunt Kate, catching her up on the happenings of her little brother and her friends while they sit on the floor. Kate catches Castle's eye over her niece's head and his smile tells her everything she needs to know. They made it, they're all alive, and safe and happy and that's all that has ever mattered.
They drink orange juice and they toast to everything their family has been through, and to all that will come.
Kate promises Jenny that they'll be back in time for Nick's first birthday in April, before she and Rick leave for the airport.
Kate will admit that flying first class is one of her favourite perks about being married to a bestselling author. As they leave New York City behind them, she gently rebuff's Castle's mostly-joking suggestion that they finally join the mile-high club, and instead they fall asleep holding hands watching the Gilmore Girls Revival for the 3rd time.
Castle makes her swear that she won't tell the boys that he was the one who downloaded it, after they marathonned the series during their recovery.
When they arrive at the hotel the next morning, Castle insists that she sit on the balcony while he makes her breakfast. It's chilly, the last vestiges of Winter making themselves known with the ever present cool wind, but Kate is warm under the throw blanket from the couch.
She's also warmed by the knowledge that they're free, that they and their family can live their lives in peace and pursue different dreams rather than chasing ghosts.
The sun has warmed the balcony enough that she leaves the throw on the chaise lounge in favour of leaning on the balustrade watching the tourists around the Eiffel Tower. She wonders if any of them have had to face the odds that she and her husband have, how many are just starting out in their carefree lives together, and decides it doesn't matter because she wouldn't trade their history for anything.
When she hears the balcony door open and can't help the smile that takes over her face, she knows that in this moment, it's right.
She turns to face the man who became the most important part of her life when she was't even looking, the man she has almost lost more times than she ever wants to remember, the man who has saved her in more ways than she could begin to count. She watches as he places the tray heaped with food on the table, brings only the cup of coffee with him.
"I just realised you haven't had coffee in at least 36 hours with time differences, so I called down to the concierge and they were kind enough to provide me with a little sugar-free vanilla for your favourite," he explained with a smile.
"Thanks Castle," she looked down at the proffered cup, before returning her gaze to his, "but I can't drink that right now."
Confusion flittered across Rick's face, "Why not? French vanilla is definitely as good as the stuff we have at home, and I know we slept on the plane but—"
"Rick," Kate interjected softly, taking the coffee and placing it on the tray before stepping in close and wrapping her arms around his waist and looking up at him.
"I'm sure the coffee would be amazing, because you made it for me." as he opened his mouth to respond, she continued, "But I don't think the baby would like it…"
"Baby?" he asked incredulously, looking down at her stomach as if there would magically be a newborn there, "We're— you're?"
Kate reached into her pocket to pull out the one extra she'd snuck with her, handing over the piece of paper from her doctor's appointment two days earlier, the one confirming her news .
After briefly skimming the page, he swept his arms around Kate, lifting her off the ground in a hug.
"Yeah, babe. We're having a little Castle baby," she confirmed with a small but brilliant smile while watching his entire face break open with joy. Their smiles rendered the ensuing kiss almost impossible, though neither of them could have cared less.
They made it. They were alive, together and happy. They had always.