A/N: Thank you. All of you, who have read and reviewed and encouraged and suggested, and made writing this one of the best experiences of my life. I am so grateful to each and every one of you. Special thanks - as ever, to Kim and Suzanne (Kimmiesjoy & Purplangel) who are the biggest cheerleaders to me, talented authors and the best Casketteers a person could ever find. And I really hope Suz, that you are happy you got YOUR ending.
Epilogue: We are, we are, we are – unbreakable.
Two months later . . .
"You haven't told him yet, have you?" Richard Gabor raises a tanned hand and shields his eyes from the bright sunshine beating down from a cloudless cerulean sky overhead. He sits with Kate on a tartan blanket, spread out on an open area of green grass in Central Park, a stone's throw or so from Belvedere Castle.
Beckett drags her gaze away from watching Castle playing Frisbee with Alexis, and looks over at him. There's a mix of anxiety and excitement in her autumn eyes, each in equal measure.
"What?" she says cagily. "Told who what?"
The retired spy narrows his blue eyes at her, before he flicks them across the grass towards the powerful form of his son and then back to hers.
"Told Rick," he says softly.
Kate drops his gaze and stares at the pattern on the blanket instead. Nervous fingers picking at a stray thread and worrying it looser.
Kate sighs, risks looking at her partner's father again. Kindness, understanding and a little excitement color the man's face. Since he's been out of the hospital and rehabbing he's grown steadily both stronger and more open, his desire to have any kind of role in Rick's life clear and unmistakable.
Kate likes him. She likes him a lot in fact. She thinks it must be because she's seeing more and more of her partner in him. Castle is like Martha in a many ways, but there is a huge amount of his father in the mix once you start actually looking.
Holding the man's gaze she debates what to say, wonders even how he knows about this because she hasn't said anything. The knowledge is on Gabor's face however, hovering around his mouth and in the corners of his eyes.
Dammit, is she blushing?
Gabor reaches across the blanket and affectionately pats her on the hand, stilling the mindless fiddling she's doing.
"He's going to be thrilled, Kate. Surely you don't doubt that?"
She instinctively shakes her head.
"I don't," she whispers. "Well not exactly. But we've never talked about it outside of it being a possibility not to be ruled out. We aren't even engaged. I guess I just wanted this one thing for us to be traditional."
Gabor's face crinkles and Kate can see him suppressing the laugh.
"It's not funny," she says defensively.
"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you, truly. I'm just trying to picture Richard doing anything big in life 'traditionally'."
This at least pulls a smile out of her.
"Actually he loves traditions," she says seriously. "I think he's always craved the sense of stability they give to him."
"And yeah, this kind of ruins that actually."
Gabor shakes his head and squeezes her fingers.
"This is a wonderful thing; it doesn't ruin anything, Kate. And I can tell that you're excited."
Beckett bites her lip, but though she's anxious the inner joy she's feeling today shines through so brightly. She's really incredibly beautiful, Gabor thinks. Radiant, intriguing, and extraordinary, his son is a very lucky man really.
"I've wanted this," she replies, her eyes seeking and finding her partner. "I've wanted this with him I think since I first realized how amazing he is with Alexis."
Gabor smiles, "He was born to be a father, undoubtedly," he says wistfully, and Kate hears it in his voice, the long accustomed sorrow he's lived with.
She shrugs, says simply, "I've never met a better one."
"Proving my point exactly, it's why he's going to be thrilled." Gabor re-iterates, observing her closely as the cop unconsciously passes a protective caress low across her abdomen. She watches Rick and Alexis, pupils following every movement, face naked with longing. Finally she tears her eyes from them and meets his gaze again.
"I know that, I do. I just . . . I just want to find that perfect moment to tell him. I want that moment to be special. Honestly I feel a little foolish that it took this long for me to know."
This time Gabor does laugh quietly.
"The last two months have been a little – busy," he points out.
A complete whirlwind in point of fact, and as Kate thinks back over them she finds herself laughing along with him.
Indictments. Circumnavigating CIA interference. Discovering Alexis had saved her grandfather's life the same morning her father broke Karpowski. Explanations and healing. Family time. Watching Martha and Gabor re-connecting. It's been an amazing period in all of their lives actually. And for Kate, now that Castle is home and the threat of Valez removed, discovering that she's pregnant – two months pregnant, well it's the jewel on the top of all of it really. She doesn't think she could be any happier if she tried – except for one thing, one last piece of the puzzle that she wants to fall perfectly into place.
Gabor squeezes her hand again, "You know, you could always just ask him," he says with a knowing smile at her. Apparently the damn man can read every thought in her head.
But it's a thought.
It is a thought.
Kate beams back at her partner's father, with a conspiratorial grin.
Martha wanders across the park towards her family feeling like she's a cliche floating on a cloud of air. In the distance she can see Richard and Alexis chasing each other, and behind them the distinct figures of Kate and Gabor seated together and watching from the grass.
Seems so strange that just a couple of months ago she never would have believed any of this could be possible. Two short months before and she was out of hope, cripplingly sad, buried alive beneath the crushing weight of her misery.
And now, now she's just – happy.
She's just completely happy.
Her son's homecoming is the greatest gift of all of course, but this rekindling relationship with his father – the way she feels whole in every moment when she's with him. Forty years. Forty years - and no other man ever quite managed to measure up to that day with him. So to see into a future with him now, frankly it's just staggering. It's the impossible, unimagined, reawakening of a dead dream.
Her steps quicken unconsciously, carrying her faster to meet up with him.
The picnic lunch they've scheduled for today is a mini celebration. Martha's school just got rave reviews for their new show. Gabor got a clean bill of health from his surgeon and the okay to resume a more active lifestyle once again. And a trial date has been set in the New Year for Valez. But with all the evidence and Karpowski's cooperation, the DA is still confident on working out a plea agreement with him, and sparing them the stress of waiting on a jury.
The threat is over, and everyone is where they should be once again.
The afternoon ticks on and Gabor snoozes with his head in Martha's lap.
Alexis bids her 'farewell's' and hurries off to hook up with some friends.
And Kate tugs Castle to his feet, and with his hand in hers she trails towards the spot where Belvedere Castle looms up behind them.
"I love this place," he murmurs in her ear as he settles her atop the lookout in front of him. His arms loop around her waist and he props his head on her shoulder, the warmth of his strong body as brilliant as the sunshine.
Kate smiles, leans back against him and then follows his gaze to where his parents are cozied up together on the Great Lawn below them.
"They look good together," he remarks happily, contentment in his deep voice that speaks volumes.
"They do," she agrees. "They look happy."
He nods against her neck, the trace of stubble on his jaw rasping pleasantly against her skin.
"I hope it lasts for them."
"You sound so certain," he says. "I want to be, but . . . "
She tilts her head so she can look at him.
"It's a fairytale Kate. And how often in life do you get a fairytale ending?"
"It will," she says again, firmly this time.
He smiles, "Hey I'm not betting against them."
"Good," she says, elbowing him slightly. "But I didn't bring you up here Castle to talk about them."
Her partner looks intrigued.
"So we aren't just enjoying the view then, Detective?"
Kate shakes her head at him.
"No. I want to ask you something, and then I . . .I have something to tell you," she says almost nervously.
"Anything, Kate. You should know by now that you can ask or tell me anything," he says gently.
"I do. I know that, it's just . . . It's a big thing, it's a really big thing Rick. And it sort of, well it changes everything."
The writer's vivid eyes dim immediately, and all trace of his previously tranquil demeanor evaporate. He tightens his arms around her, presses her more firmly against him.
Oh, she didn't mean to scare him.
"Marry me," she says quickly, dearly wanting to see him smiling again.
His jaw drops open in shock, he goes to say something but no sound escapes.
"Castle? Say something?"
He swallows heavily.
"Marry you?" he croaks out.
"That's what I said," she says determinedly. "Castle, I want you to marry me."
Shock and disbelief flow out of his eyes and joy, love and laughter flow in.
"Yes," he says quickly, nodding his head rapidly. "God yes, Kate."
He goes to kiss her but with a fingertip she stops him.
"There is something you should know first, something I found out for sure only this morning."
Eyes wide he waits for her to tell him.
"You're going to be a father again."
She doesn't know how but his joy filled eyes light up even further, he looks down at her stomach, pushes her back within his arms slightly so he can just stare at the still flat expanse. The look on his face is just – smitten.
"When?" he asks. "When did it happen?"
She tugs him close again, stares up into his face.
"I'm two months along. I think it must have been the night you came home again."
Images of how fiercely they loved each other that night come to both of them; before Castle picks her up and spins her around, then he just crushes her to him.
"Oh Kate," he whispers, when he finally lets up the onslaught on her mouth. "Oh Kate, this is the best day ever."
Eyes shining she rests her head against his strong chest and listens to the music of his heart beating.
"No, Castle," she disagrees softly. "The best days for us have yet to be written."