A/N: I'm genuinely sorry. I apologize to every single one of you for going M.I.A. There was an incident with my laptop, and I'm so sorry. I just got it back today. But you don't deserve excuses. You deserve the final chapter. So here it is.
"Welcome home." Alex said. He held the door for her after unlocking their old loft. As Kate made her way inside, she marveled at the view.
"Amazing." Kate muttered. She walked in awe, her eyes scanning the room like a child in a candy store. "This is where you used to live?"
"This is where we used to live, where we do live." Johanna smiled. One by one they filed in, hauling boxes of clothes and personal knick-knacks. Kate made her way through the living room, stopping once to admire the kitchen before finding herself in the main hallway. Her fingers traced along the frames of family photos down the hallway walls, her eyes examining the smiling faces preserved in each one.
The newer ones seemed foreign to her, but the older ones, they felt familiar. Though honestly, none of them 'struck a cord.' There were no flashes of forgotten memories, no recollection of her past like the one's people conveniently get in movies. No she was stuck with the feeling that everything was on the tip of her tongue, but just out of reach. It's a horrible feeling.
At the end of the hall was her room. The room her and Castle had shared together in what seemed like a previous life. As she reached for the door, she froze, realizing that somewhere in her heart she actually had hope. Hope that she would remember. Hope that this was the solution if only for a while, and she wanted to hold onto that just a little longer.
And she was right to. If only hope was as abundant as dust was on the inside. It was just an empty room.
But for some reason she found herself drawn to the bookcase in the corner. And as she inched her way closer, she scanned its shelves, searching for something familiar. A photo, a book, anything would've done. But instead she found a flag and a medal, both seemingly belonging to her. And beside them was a trophy, and an odd one at that. She plucked it from its spot, bringing the words inscribed on it into view.
"That's yours. You and dad won it at a police picnic. For the three-legged race I think." Alex said. He stood in the doorway, holding one of her boxes.
"Here, let me help you with that." Kate said. She dropped the trophy back in its place and headed towards Alex.
As she approached, he moved away swiftly and responded, "No I told you, it's fine. You relax. Just tell me where you'd like it."
Kate was stubborn, but she wasn't as young as she used to be. After a few defiant remarks, she eventually caved in. "Against the wall is fine." She said. The rest of the day went on as planed. Almost everything was unpacked by the time they sat down for dinner. Like a dream, laughter consumed the dinning room table while the telling of tales ensued. If anyone walked in right now, they would assume this was your everyday, completely ordinary family. But it wasn't. Because they could tell their stories, they could pretend all they wanted. At the end of the day, of everyday from now on, Kate would forget, maybe more often in the future but it will happen. She will always be the outsider looking in.
"If you need anything, I'm right next door." Alex said.
Kate couldn't help but smile. "Thank you." He smiled back, not knowing what else to do.
"Goodnight." Alex mumbled. He left her at the door, shutting it behind him, climber into bed, feeling they had made a connection and fell asleep. Lucky for him.
For Kate, she was up all hours of the night, tossing and turning. She felt as though something was wrong, like something was missing. It nagged at her conscious, keeping her mind active. Eventually she realized it was Castle. She had slept without him before, but never in this bed. No, this bed was meant for two and she was missing her partner.
Before long she dragged herself out of bed, hoping that maybe some tea would help her sleep. But as she made her way to the kitchen, the hall began to shift. With each step a memory would slip away.
It was late when Alex was pulled from his dreams by a series of rustling noises. He sneaked into the kitchen holding a bat, assuming the worse. "Kate? Is everything alright?" he asked.
"Are you talking to me?" Kate answered. Her Alzheimer's was getting worse. She stood at the counter, caressing his father's old coffee travel mug.
"Yes. Remember, your name is Kate. And I'm your son, Alex." Alex replied. He talked slowly, and then calmly he approached her, hoping to make her feel at ease. This is when Alzheimer's patients were most vulnerable, when their minds are wiped clean and they suddenly find themselves lost. "Do you want some coffee?" He said, gesturing to the mug in her hand.
"Not particularly." Kate replied.
"So why are holding this?" Alex said. He attempted to gently grab the mug from her, but Kate suddenly pulled away from him.
"I'm sorry. I…" Kate said.
"Is something wrong?" Alex asked. Kate didn't answer. How could she. Everything was on instinct, and she had no reason.
"Did I lose something?" Kate asked. She seemed confused, trying to put the pieces together herself.
"What do you mean?" Alex said. He kept his distance, letting her have some breathing room. He needed her to feel safe.
"I don't remember." Kate said. She looked down at the mug in her hands as she caressed it softly. "I can't help but feel I've lost something."
"What makes you feel that?" Alex said, inching closer.
"This mug. When I saw it, there was this tug in my chest. And I began to cry a little. But I don't remember why it hurts this much." Kate said. She felt the world enclose around her, feeling the shakiness of her inner foundation. "I've lost something, haven't I? How do I get it back?"
"We've both lost something." Alex replied. He took her in his arms, drawing her close enough to plant a kiss on her forehead. "Something we can't get back." She nestled into his arms, hiding her face well, but he could still feel her warm tears as they fell onto his shirt. His heart tore, knowing that this was all he could do to comfort her.
Later that morning, after reading through her journal, Kate put the finishing touches on her room. Her final decoration was that same pair of coffee travel mugs from the night before, from that life she once had, and she placed them beside their winning three-legged race trophy. And she smiled, feeling like she had paid tribute to the dead.
Lost in the moment, Kate failed to notice Kevin scamper in. She jumped, immediately startled by his touch. He seemed older than before. He was less playful, a little weary when he walked, and definitely moved less.
In his mouth was a book, her book and without effort, he dropped it at her feet. "Kevin!" Kate scolded. She bent down to clean his mess, only to find a small note had fallen from its pages. It was addressed to her, from Castle. Shocked, she turned to the retriever only to find him collapsed, lying motionless. "Kevin?" She could tell his breathing was shallow. "Alex!"
"What's wrong?" Alex said, appearing in a panic.
"It's Kevin. He's having trouble breathing." Kate replied.
"What's going on?" Johanna said, arriving on the scene.
"Call the vet. Something's wrong with Kevin." Alex shouted. He quickly snatched the retriever up in his arms and carried him to the door. "Alexis, start the car!"
They rushed their beloved pet to the nearest veterinarian, knowing that every moment counted. Knowing that they've already lost too much.
Inside the animal hospital's corridors, they sat in cold silence. It had been three hours since they brought Kevin in. one hour since they pronounced him dead. And still they sat, like Kevin was in surgery, like he would come out any minute better than ever. But he wouldn't.
In her silence, Kate thanked Kevin for all he had done. It was because of Kevin, she got to meet Alex. Because of him, she found out about her past, and the life she once had. It was Kevin who had saved her.
Looking down, Kate realized she was holding a crumpled piece of paper. It was the note she had also found because of Kevin. She must've grabbed it in all the chaos. After smoothing it over, she slowly unfolded its message.
Kate, I'm glad you found this note. I had written this book long before I discovered you were still alive, so it's not exactly complete. Most of it is just the babbling of a heart broken fool, but I hope you take something from it. In the end, I couldn't give you 'happy ever after.' I could only manage a 'to be continued…' because in the end, our story isn't finished.
"Mom? What is that?" Alexis asked, gesturing to the piece of paper.
"I remember." Kate uttered.
"You what?" Alex said, joining in.
So when you're ready, I'll be waiting.
"I remember everything." Kate said. She met their gaze, and they simply knew, she was telling the truth. All the obstacles they faced, all the problems at hand just seemed to fade away.
Tomorrow will come. The sun will rise. And the future was uncertain. But it didn't matter, because in this moment, they were together, truly. And as they made their way back down the hall together, they all came to understand. Castle's wish had come true.
Until we meet again.
I hope you all enjoyed.
Please review. Tell me what you think
And I want to thank all of you for reading. This has been a journey for me as much as it has been for you. Thank you to those who have been here from the start. To those who have been reviewing and truly it was your support that helped forge this story.
And this may be the end, but it can also be the beginning of something new. I will be releasing a new story soon, and I hope that I see some you there. Until then, goodbye.