The trip back to Castle's flat in the TARDIS was a solemn one. No one spoke as the ship shuddered to a halt. Esposito, Ryan, and River quickly exited the ship, but Beckett lingered for a minute. Castle watched curiously as she came to stand beside the Doctor, who was staring down at the console, his gaze dark.
The detective stood with him in silence for several moments before speaking up quietly. "Even after what he did to you, you gave him a chance." It wasn't a question, but it seemed to require an answer anyway.
"Yeah," was all the Doctor said. They stood in silence after that, but Castle could see that Beckett had chosen to forgive him for the destruction of the Time Lords. In their attack on the wyvern, they had felt the memories and emotions of the entire team, and the depth of guilt the Doctor felt over his many atrocities had been there for all of them to see. Apparently it had been enough to convince Beckett that the Doctor really hadn't had a choice, that it wasn't his fault.
The detective laid a comforting hand on the Time Lord's shoulder. He looked up at her, eyes wide with surprise and the faintest hint of hope. Beckett gave him a small smile, her hand still fork on his shoulder. After a moment's hesitation, the Doctor gave a brief nod of thanks. They stayed like that for a few moments, then Beckett drew back and rejoined Castle, following him out of the TARDIS.
Their job wasn't over yet.
Esposito and Ryan had opted to go home instead, since they weren't leading the investigation, so it was only Castle, Beckett, River, and the Doctor who arrived via TARDIS in front of the Karrow's apartment building. The Doctor didn't hesitate at all when they finally knocked on the Karrow's door, but Beckett could see shame in every line of his face. He really cares, she thought with slight surprise. After all the death he's seen, so many lives lost, and he still cares about this one life.
Tanya took the news surprisingly well. She was rather angry that her father had been killed because of something he had no control over, but she seemed to realize the Doctor wasn't the one to blame. "We're the last of our kind too, and you don't see us going after the Fatorins. The wyvern made his choice." She fixed the Doctor with her intense silver gaze, this time with sympathy rather than hostility. "It wasn't your fault, Time Lord."
The Doctor looked surprised at Tanya's words, but didn't respond, only giving a half-hearted nod. Beckett could see the alien still blamed himself for what had happened. She shuddered at the memory of the terrible guilt that had radiated from all of the Doctor's memories. To live with that kind of guilt for so many years...
After Beckett finished telling Tanya what had happened, the teenage girl turned to her with a mix of apprehension and her old defiance. "What are you going to do now that the case is over? Send us to foster homes?"
Beckett shook her head. "Normally, yes, but I'm not sending three aliens and a human from the future to live with unsuspecting foster parents. It wouldn't be safe for you. So, if you're willing to fudge the records a little bit, I think you might be able to pass for a young twenty-one-year-old."
Tanya's eyes widened in shock. "Wait, seriously? You're willing to falsify records so I can look after my brothers?"
Beckett smiled and explained, "You've got a very unique situation, Tanya. I don't think Tikrah would want me to split up your family. You guys need each other." She suddenly grew serious. "It's not going to be easy, though. You're going to have to get a job and support three brothers. You'll never be able to go to college either."
Tanya let out a snort. "Like that matters. I'm from the 51st century, there's nothing that some 21st century college could tell me that I don't already know. I'll just fake myself a diploma and get myself a decent job. Maybe something with programming."
The detective turned to look at the boys, who were talking with Castle and River in the kitchen. "Will you stay in New York?"
Tanya shook her head. "Not if we're safe from the Fatorins."
"You are," the Doctor said quietly. "By now they've deposed Raktor and couldn't care less about any leftover Arondrians."
Tanya gave an easy smile, looking her age for the first time since they'd met her, rather than a girl forced to grow up too quickly. "Then we'll head out into the country. It's too noisy and crowded here. Out in the country we can grow gardens and live in peace. It won't be Akali, but we can make it home anyway. I'll teach the boys the Arondrian ways, and our culture will be remembered through them." She looked at Detective Beckett with a mixture of determination and sadness. "We won't let Akali be forgotten."
Beckett was surprised at the girl's level of maturity. Somehow, she knew this girl and her family were going to be fine. "Call me if you ever need anything," she told her.
"I will, and Detective? Thanks for actually caring." She looked a little embarrassed by what she was saying, but pushed on. "Most cops would've turned this over to higher authorities or tried to figure out more about us, but all you cared about was catching Tikrah's killer. So... thanks."
The detective felt a rush of warmth. This was why she did this job. To ease the suffering of those who'd lost someone, and to let them know that someone actually cared, that was why she put herself through all the death and loss. She gave the girl a warm smile. "It was my pleasure."
When they left that family behind, watching them leave from their doorway, she had a feeling she wouldn't ever be seeing that strange little family again. But she also knew that they were going to be just fine. Oh, it'd be hard for a bit, and Tanya would have to work hard to find a place in the 21st century, but she also knew she'd pull through for her brothers.
The Arondrians would find their home on Earth.
They all came to a stop in front of the TARDIS. Beckett knew that this was to be goodbye. She had an idea to invite them to one last dinner, but somehow she knew the travelers wouldn't accept. It just wasn't their way. And she knew the Doctor wouldn't want to celebrate something that he so deeply considered to be his fault.
The Doctor leaned back against the TARDIS, looking at Beckett curiously. "What will you tell your precinct?" he asked.
The detective shrugged. "Well, there is a lot of gang activity in that area. I'll attribute it to random gang violence." The words held a certain irony. She had sworn when she'd decided to become a cop that she would never pass off that sentence on anyone, not after Detective Raglan had given it to her mother. She'd sworn she'd always dig deeper than that and find out exactly who was responsible. But this time, the ruling wasn't to protect a killer; it was to protect the victims. The killer had been brought to justice this time, and the victim's family had been given their closure.
River nodded thoughtfully. "You sure you won't get in trouble for that?"
"Maybe a bit," she said with a shrug. "But if Esposito and Ryan back me up, Gates'll have to let it stand." She looked between the two time travelers with interest. "What about you two? What'll you do now?"
"Well, it's back to Stormcage for me," River said with a smirk. "I'm sure the guards will be wondering what's been keeping me. I usually don't escape for longer than a day."
Beckett remembered that Stormcage was the future prison, but she knew better than to ask why River lived there. She trusted her, and that was enough.
"And you, Doctor?"
He looked fondly over his shoulder at his big blue box. "Oh, same old life. Back to the TARDIS, seeing all the stars, all of time and space. Unless…"
Beckett's brow furrowed. "Unless?"
The Doctor looked a little uncertain, wringing his hands awkwardly. "Unless… well, you could come with me? The two of you?" Beckett and Castle shared a dumbfounded glance as the Doctor continued, "The TARDIS and me, we could take you anywhere and everywhere. If you want."
As Beckett tried to collect her thoughts, she heard Castle ask a little hoarsely, "Why us?"
The Doctor gave a little half-smile. "Because you two were brilliant," he said simply. "Because you cared."
The detective turned to her partner, her thoughts suddenly blazing with the images of distant worlds, past future, and all of it in their reach. They could go anywhere, do anything, help anyone. It was the offer of a lifetime. A dream beyond measure.
She looked at the man she loved, and she knew her answer.
Beckett turned back to the Doctor and told him gently, "We can't."
The Doctor deflated a little, so she explained, "We have family here, both of us. But it's more than that. Our work, what we do, it's important." She straightened, looking the Doctor right in the eyes, imploring him to understand. "We help those who've lost family and friends. We speak for the dead, and we bring justice to those who have stolen lives. And that's important. That matters." She reached out for Castle's hand and felt his fingers entwine with hers. With renewed confidence she told the alien, "We're needed here, Doctor."
The Doctor looked at both of them, still sad, but eyes warm with pride and admiration. "Kate Beckett and Richard Castle. Extraordinary Beckett and fantastic Castle. You're brilliant, both of you." He turned to look back at the TARDIS. "So this is goodbye then."
Beckett nodded without regret. "Goodbye, Doctor."
Castle added, "Come back and visit, alright? I want to hear more about outer space and time travel."
The Doctor nodded, but it felt like a hollow promise. Beckett got the feeling that the Doctor wasn't one to go back anywhere. He was constantly on the run – going back was too painful. He gave a last nod of farewell. "Take care." With that, he turned and headed into the TARDIS. With a roll of her eyes, River followed him.
As the Doctor threw the TARDIS into the Time Vortex, he finally seemed to notice River glaring at him. "What?" He finally asked.
His wife rolled his eyes. "You're an idiot, you know that?"
"I am not!" His voice got squeaky with indignation.
"They saved our necks back there."
"Yeah, and I offered to let them come, didn't I? But they said no. That's not my fault!" The Time Lord protested.
River rolled her eyes again. "Not forever, no. This is their home. But they should get one trip, shouldn't they? Just one to say thanks?"
The Doctor looked thoughtful. "But what if they say no?"
His wife gave him a knowing smile. "Believe me, they won't."
The alien started in surprise, then turned to look at his wife curiously. "Have you met them with me before?"
River just flashed a smirk and uttered the word he hated; "Spoilers."
With that, she activated her vortex manipulator. As she was zapped back into Stormcage, she thought about that memory from those years ago. She'd only seen them briefly that one time, so it hadn't occurred to her when she'd met them here that they were the same people. But the last few days had brought the memory back to mind, and now she was sure it was them. The two the Doctor had brought with him on that adventure she'd seen only a part of.
One she'd weasel the full story out of him one day.
Castle and Beckett had watched the TARDIS disappear in silence, hands still tightly gripped. Castle knew that Beckett didn't regret turning the Doctor down any more than he did, but there was still that itch of curiosity. What must it be like out there, anywhere in the past, future, or all of space? A thousand possible stories sprang to his head, but he knew that none of them could ever be better than the truth.
They had just turned to head home when a familiar vworpp, vworpp sounded behind them. The partners turned back to see the TARDIS fading into view again behind them. When it had fully materializing, the door swung over, the Doctor poking his head out again. "Oh, come on, just one trip. One thank-you trip, then back home, safe and sound." He retreated back into the TARDIS, leaving the door open behind them. A choice.
Beckett and Castle shared a look, questioning and eager. They could both read the answer in each others' faces. Hands still gripped tightly, they pushed past the doors into the TARDIS, closing them behind them.
One trip, then back home. One story to remember for all time.
So this is it. The story's over. And all eleven chapters written in what, seventeen days? I'll have to check again. But that's some kind of record for me, I never write this fast.
I hope you all liked this story. I tried to make the mystery interesting and the OCs fleshed out.
And I hope you guys will like the sequel I'm planning, whenever I get around to it. Yes, I'm planning a sequel. I didn't want to say anything before because that would have given away that the Doctor was going to ask Castle and Beckett to come with him. However, I don't know what that sequel's going to be about yet, so I'm open to suggestions. They get one trip, so where should they go? Past, future, or alien planet? Or some combination? Let me know what you think. I probably won't get to it for a bit, as I have to figure out a plot and everything, but I'll try to get to it soon-ish.
Until then, enjoy this actually finished story, and comment if you liked it. :)
To mavic chen: I'm posting my reply here since you're a guest and i can't message you. I appologize if any of my information about the Time War and Time Lords are incorrect, as I've only seen New Who, and have to rely on what is said there. I haven't had time or anything to watch Classic Who yet.
I'm aware only a few companions died, I don't think I ever said most of them did, but I apologize if that's what it seemed like. By lost I meant left behind or lost like Rose or Donna. I wasn't trying to imply that every race mentioned was wiped out (although the Racnoss and Time Lords were) only that he had either killed or caused the death of members of that race.
Again, I apologize if any of my information regarding Time Lords is incorrect, but as they were desperate enough to destroy the universe by the end of the war, I figured they would have turned to less desperate measures, like enslaving their neighbors to help them fight in the war, first. I was basing this on the idea that other species, like the Living Plastic and the Gelth, seem to have been nearly wiped out by the war as well. Somehow enslaving an entire race seems less horrible than killing every single person in the entire universe, so one who's willing to do the latter as a last resort might be willing to turn to the former first.
Erm, the Doctor has been confirmed to have committed genocide before. He killed the entire Time Lord race, destroyed the last of the Racnoss race, and his duplicate in the Last Journey was said to have committed the genocide of the Daleks, though of course they came back again after that. He doesn't kill people directly, but he knowingly sets things up to lead to their deaths, and that body pile is starting to rack up. I love the Doctor as much as any Whovian, and I know that he does those horrible things to save the universe, but there's no denying he does do horrible things.
To mavic chen again:
Yes, but for all intents and purposes they are dead (which always confused me. Are they dead in all of time or just the time the Time War was fought? If a Time Lord ever came to a planet before the Time War, and the Doctor went to that exact time, would the Time Lord be there, or would he/she have been erased from that part of history? It hurts the head to think about.) And the Doctor definitely blames himself for that. Well, the Doctor himself called killing the last of a species genocide. In the episode Daleks in Manhattan, when confronted with (what he thinks is) the last of the Daleks, he says, "I just saw one genocide, I'm not about to commit another." So going by that logic, then yes, destroying the last of the Racnoss is genocide. I'm not trying to add to the Doctor's atrocities, I'm just trying to stick to the logic of the show.
Oh no, no no no, I never meant that the Doctor is the villain! Everything in this chapter, everything about the Doctor being a mass murderer and being a vengeful god and destroying everything he touches, is said by the wyvern, not me. His enemies tend to think that way, and that's how the wyvern thinks, which is depicted here. But by no means is that how I see the Doctor. The Doctor has done terrible things, yes, but always to save the world and help innocent people. He only does horrible things like destroying the rest of the Racnoss when he has no other choice. The Doctor is a hero. A broken, sometimes dangerous one, yes, but always a hero. (except for that business with the Time Lord Victorious *shudders*) He's given up so much to save the universe over and over again. Sometimes I just want to give the poor man a hug (especially during Doomsday, Journey's End, and Angels Take Manhattan.)