a/n: This is the last chapter. Thank you so much to everyone who read and reviewed. Hope you enjoy!

ix. October, 2013

The cork pops on the second bottle of champagne; a quiet victory in the darkened night.

Kate holds out her glass, the amber liquid filling to the top. The bubbles fizz, and she takes a sip, the alcohol sliding down her throat, settling warm and low in her stomach. It's her fourth glass, maybe her fifth, but she's not counting tonight; not when they're in the Hamptons away from the lights and bustling pace of Manhattan, celebrating.

She had been on her way home from work when he had called her, all out of breath and joy filling the line. The reception broke on every other word until all she could make out was home exciting surprise and when she had gotten to the loft, he told her to pack for a weekend away. She had rolled her eyes because he was still ridiculously boyish sometimes but she was grateful for the escape, for forty-eight uninterrupted hours with him. It was fifteen minutes into their drive - the dog sleeping soundly in the backseat of her sedan - that she had asked him what the news was. He had remained coy until he was nearly bouncing in his seat in excitement.

Nikki Heat. Three more books.

At least.

She was on him before they even made it through the door, stumbling. She figured I'm proud of you lacked meaning after nearly five years and she needed him to know that she was, that it wasn't just three more books but another chapter of the life he had created for them, that they had waited so long for. They had at least made in to the living room couch before they were completely naked, his hands fisted in her hair, mouth branded to hers. He had tasted like coffee and some sort of sweet pastry despite the time and she rolled them onto the floor, moaning as he sank further inside of her until there was nothing but them, but the memories of who they were, who they had become. It was fast, searing, and as her orgasm hit hard and unyielding she had pressed her lips to his, whispering. Thank you. I love you.

They had remained like that for minutes until Castle finally dragged her into the bedroom, two bottles of champagne in his hands, glasses to go with it and the tangled mass of their clothes. There had been toasts and horrible ideas for his next set of books, the cool fall breeze wafting in from the slightly open balcony doors. She's tipsy and happy and so fucking in love with him that sometimes she still wonders if it's real.

"I got it!" Castle says, putting down his glass. Her feet are in his lap as she leans back on her elbows, his fingers kneading deep as he massages her. "Nikki and Rook are having sex at Disneyland when-"

"Disneyland?" Kate lifts an eyebrow, laughter outlining each syllable of her words. "Is this actually a Nikki and Rook thing or a place you want usto have sex?"

"Come on, Beckett, think about it. It's a Small World After All. I mean, do you think they invented that ride because people want to listen to that godawful song for six hours while you travel through countries that no one even remembers exists."

"I'm listening..."

Castle's eyes widen, his fingers stilling on her foot. "Are you actually considering this?"

"I'm considering listening to you." She shrugs a shoulder, grinning. "But I'm drunk."

"What else can I get you to do when you're drunk?"

"Castle, tell me the idea before I nix it all together."

"Okay! So, Disneyland-"

"Because Nikki and Rook always hang out at California theme parks?"

"Who said I was talking about Nikki and Rook?"

Kate takes another sip of her drink, laying back on the mattress. The shadows of the room dance over the ceiling, bouncing patterns that make the room spin. She closes her eyes and it feels so good right now, out of control, no barriers held. "Tell me about us at Disney."

"We take the week off," Castle answers, his hands abandoning her feet. The mattress shifts under his weight as he moves beside her, heads on the rear of the bed. His fingers lace through her hair and she sighs, listening to the smooth cadence of his words. "We stop in LA so I can do some work before we decide to head up north to Napa. On our way out of the city, you get this brilliant idea to stop at the happiest place on earth."

"We both know this would never be my idea."

He presses his lips to hers, soft, pliant, his leg sliding between hers. "We get there when it opens, three hours tops before we have to leave-"

"It takes three hours to wait in line for one ride."

"Beckett, please. I'm a best selling author and you're a cop. Between the two of us, we can manage to get to the front of the line without waiting." He brushes his finger over her cheek and she opens her eyes. He's staring at her, the reflection of the moon highlighted in his irises and she keeps her gaze locked on his, the smile never flitting from her lips. "We see It's a Small World and despite how utterly annoyingthat song is, we decide to go on it. The ride is fairly empty, presumably because no parent wants to drag their kid on that first so they can be singing it all day. As soon as the music starts, we know it's a mistake. I won't shut up about it-"


"And to distract me, you put your hand..." He inches their locked fingers down until it hits his upper thigh, "right here." His breathing hitches, as he continues. "People think you're in control, Beckett. They think you're about the rules, that you'll be daring in the job but not outside of it."

His mouth is on hers again and she nips at his lips, coasts her hands up so it's undoing the button of his pants. He's hard and wanting and she slides the pad of her thumb over the tip of him, as he groans into her mouth.

"Let me finish?" she breathes. He nods as her fingers massage him, base to tip, over and over again. It's slow, torturous. "We were on set for Naked Heat the night before and you were in your element, in command, and it was so incredibly sexy watching you defend our story, knowing that you created this out of how much you wanted me even from the beginning." She squeezes him with light, teasing fingers and he's straining in her hand, desperate for her, for release.

"Kate," and it comes out like a whine, like oxygen is a privilege instead of a given.

She presses her lips to his neck, drags her teeth over his Adam's apple, up this ear. "Tell me when," she whispers. "There was no time for sex that night so by the time we get to Disney, I want you. I want you so badly, Castle. I make sure no one is around and I unbutton your jeans, slide my hand into your pants and it never fails to surprise me how much you want me sometimes, how hard you can get for me." He's riding her hand, pushing further into her touch as she pumps him faster; deep, long strokes. "I have five minutes. Five minutes to make you come before we get caught."

"Beckett," he grunts, tugging on her hair, and she knows he's close by the strain in his voice, the trembling spasms beginning in her palm. "Fuck."

He rolls over on top of her, lifting their hands above her head, fingers knotted together. He thrusts into her with reckless abandon and it's only seconds before he breaks. She gasps; he's so warminside of her, filling all the spaces once left bare, and her head spins when he releases one of his hands, trailing it down her stomach until his thumb strokes her clit. She lifts her hips, arching up into him as he continues to work her. He's like a fucking magician and she wants more of him and more alcohol and more of this forever and ever.

She chants his name like it's sacred, fisting the comforter, and then she's breaking all around him, splintering into a million different pieces; spinning, dizzying, intoxicating.

He rolls off of her and she's flat on her back, catching her breath. "I think that might be a little too graphic for one of your novels."

"Would be great for the movie though," Castle says, grinning.

"Did you get into the porn industry without me knowing?"

"Now that you mention it-"

"Castle, I was kidding." Kate stretches and stands, walking to the dresser. She checks the battery on her iPod that's charging, presses play because there's something about listening to music out here when it's so quiet that she loves. She skips a couple of songs, deciding on Van Morrison, before opening a drawer to grab a pair of shorts. "Hey, have you ever wondered if someone wanted to Misery you?"

"Like you?"

"I wasn't as big of a fan as you like to think, Castle." She glides the shorts up her long, dark legs; the tan from the summer not yet lost. He's watching her, eyes dark and focused and she bites her lip, smiles, because she loves when he watches her like this, when she deliberately knows how to turn him on. "I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who would just love to hold Rick Castle hostage."

"Good thing my girlfriend's a cop. You'd find me, right, Beckett?"

"Oh I don't know. I guess it depends if you were on my nerves that day."

"I knew I should have made Ryan my muse. He'd find me."

"Probably wouldn't be as good in bed, though."

"He'd make me snuggle with honeymilk."

"You two would be very cute together."

Castle grins. "If things don't work out for us, I'll have to make my move." He takes the champagne off his night stand, drinking down half the contents. "Where did the question come from?"

Her eyes shimmer with amusement. "The champagne?"

"You can't be a mystery writer and not think about it. After I killed off Derrick I seriously considered moving to a remote island just to avoid pissed off fans. But then I wouldn't have met you."

"And we couldn't have that." Kate grabs a sweatshirt and heads toward the balcony. The view from the bedroom looks out onto the beach and she loves how in the night it's nothing but black. It smells of salt and fresh air, the sounds of the ocean crashing, peaceful. She closes the doors, enveloping the room in warmth. "Are you at all concerned that our usually hyperactive dog has been quiet for the past couple of hours?"

"We had a big day. We went to the park, played Frisbee with Ryan and Esposito-"

"You mean when they were supposedly stuck behind a highway accident for two hours this morning?"

"Um, I..."

"Don't even bother covering for them." She turns toward the hallway, a smooth whistle coming from her lips. "Justice. Come here, babe!"

The sound of paws trotting on the hardwood floors vibrates throughout their house as the black lab makes his way into the room. It takes her a second to see it and when she does she turns to Castle, eyebrow lifted, smirk evident on her lips.

"Castle, why is the dog wearing a Batman mask?"

"Because without it everyone would know his true identity."

Kate laughs, and it's loud, weightless, everything. She crouches onto the floor, framing the dog's face in her hands. "I'm sorry your daddy tortures you like that," she whispers, voice lilting. "But you are pretty cute with it on." She climbs up on the bed, the dog following as he rests his head in her lap. She runs her fingers over the smooth, black fur. "When did you even put that on him?"

Castle rubs his finger over the dog's nose, beaming. "When you were in the bathroom earlier. I got bored."

"I was in there for a minute."

"I know. I was bored."

She leans over, her spare hand bracing the back of his head, nails gently massaging his scalp. She can taste the champagne that still gleams on his lips when she kisses him, sweet and perfect.

"Beckett," he mutters against her mouth, "Batman is watching."

Her laughter is muffled as she covers the dog's eyes with her hand, pulling gently at Castle's bottom lip with her teeth. She thinks she can spend the rest of her life with him and it'll never be enough, not when his hands scorch her skin after all this time, when he still finds new ways to surprise her. She rests her forehead against his. Her hand falls from the dog's eyes and Justice is back with his head in her lap, and this is her life and it's nothing like what she expected and everything she had never let herself hope for.

"I'm starving," Kate murmurs. She moves away from him, back pressed against the pillows. "Is Joe's the only thing open this late into the year?"

"Oh! We can get that pizza, you know the one with anchovies and pine-"

"I'm begging you not to finish that sentence."

"You do know that anchovies are one of the main ingredients in Caesar dressing, right?"

"Thank you, Julia Child. There's a difference between dressing and having them sitting on my pizza."

"You never let me have fun with food."

"For good reason. I'm going to walk Justice." The dog's ears perk, and he sits up, tail wagging. He licks Kate's face and she laughs, all attention focused on him. "Yes I am. Oh, you're so cute, aren't you?" She turns to Castle. "Order whatever you want that doesn't involve oily fish."

"What about-"

"You might get your shot with Ryan really soon," Kate teases.

She steps off the bed, Justice following in excitement as he runs toward the front door. Kate grabs her shoes when the song changes. She smiles at the opening chords, the sweet soft melody of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic. It reminds her of growing up and her mother, summer vacations up at the cabin, the way the lake had been warm in the sun and chilling at night.

"I love this song," she says absentmindedly.

"Dance with me."


"Indulge me. Please."

He takes her hand and she's against the wall of his chest, his arm wrapped firmly around her waist, hands clasped together. She rests her head in the crook of his neck as his fingers slide gracefully over her spine, light and teasing and so so perfect. She closes her eyes, breathing him in. He smells like cologne and the salty air from the ocean, like memories of the past, hope for the future.

"How did you know?" Kate asks, and it's quiet, a lulling question against the music.

"Know what?"

"You wrote Nikki and Rook how we are now. How did you know that's who we'd become? You had such blind faith in us, Castle. In me."

His lips brush over the crown of her head. "It wasn't blind faith, Kate. I wanted to believe that if I put everything into Nikki you'd realize you were capable of just as much as her, of more." He moves his lips to her ear, whispering, chills forming across her skin. "You will always be so much more than I can ever find words for."

She sways against him, presses her lips against the pulse in his neck. There's so much she wants to say to him, but all that comes out is, "I love you."

"Kate." He rubs his knuckle over her cheek. "Look at me."

She leans back in his arms, stares up at him. There's so much written on his face that it takes her breath away. Castle slides his hand through her hair, lets it settle around the curve of her ear. He's quiet, staring, taking her in. "Marry me, Kate."

Her chest clenches just above her heart; scars aching, haze of intoxication clearing. The ends up of her lips quirk. She leans back further in his arms, his clasped hands securing her. "Is this what you call an extravagant Rick Castle proposal?"

He smiles at her sheepishly. "Yankee Stadium. Two days."

She lifts an eyebrow in confusion until it hits her. "You were going to propose during game seven of the World Series?"

"Seventh-inning stretch. Out on the field. I was going to have Swisher, Jeter and Teixeira hold up signs. It was gonna be so cool!"

Kate drags a finger over his bottom lip, tracing, memorizing. "So why now?"

"I realized that for once I didn't need the grand gesture. Of course if you say yes, I will still be going through with that one as well."

"Castle, no. No Yankee Stadium."

"You can't tell me that's not an awesome proposal! Is it because you're nervous in front of Swisher? Because-"

She cuts him off with a kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Yes."

"There's nothing to be nervous about. He's married and while you are incredibly-"

"Castle. I meant yes, I'll marry you."

He crushes her against him, and his mouth is on her, hands sliding through her hair and she's so overwhelmed that she can't breathe, but it's good and right and she's grateful as hell that he turned her down last month because this is what she wanted. Tipsy and happy and simple. He loosens his grip around her as the song ends, dragging her back to the bed, pulling her down so her legs tangle with his.

"What would you have done if the series ended in game four? Or if the Yankees didn't make it in at all?"

"They're the Yankees, Kate. Have some pride in your team! And if it ended in game four, I would have done something else embarrassing. Don't ever doubt my abilities." He wiggles his eyebrows at her and she laughs at the innuendo.

"I never do." She can hear Justice in the hall getting restless, paws tapping. "The ring isn't outrageous?"

"It's so completely not outrageous that I'm going to get flack from everyone we know for not getting you a bigger diamond."

"Good." She kisses him and stands. "I'm going to walk the dog."

"Is that a yes? Can I propose to you again? You're going to love Jeter's sign!"

Kate slips into her shoes, the smile never leaving her lips. "You already got one yes tonight, Castle. Don't push your luck."