Moments in Time
It’s March 9, 2053. Their anniversary, which Castle never forgets.
No matter how much time has passed.
They’re sitting on the couch together, her legs curled into his lap and her head resting on his shoulder. So much time has gone by, and yet…they’re still here. Still together. Still in love. He really was the one-and-done that she swore by all those years ago, and she really was the love of his life.
The mantle and the rest of the room are full of pictures of their time both together and apart over the years: one of a young Castle with Martha standing proudly at his shoulder holding his first ever book, In a Hail of Bullets; she and her mom and dad with windswept hair and kites in their hands; Alexis as a baby swaddled in an adorable pink blanket with a bear hoodie; Kate and Lanie outside the library of NYU; Castle and Alexis as a tween playing laser tag; Kate, Castle, Ryan, Esposito, and Montgomery in a commemorative photo that Castle somehow talked his way into early on in his ride-along, standing next to her with his hand barely touching her waist; their first date; them at the wedding with Martha and Jim at either side, both beaming; Kate holding baby Sienna; Castle tickling the tiny toes of Dylan; Alexis's college graduation photo with Ashley; Sienna and Dylan and their dates to prom; and finally a group family photo at Alexis's wedding, she and her new husband in the middle, Kate, Castle, Sienna, and Dylan on either side. On the table are the final two wedding photos, Sienna’s on the left and Dylan’s on the right. It's hard to believe that Dylan has a ten-year-old son and a seven-year-old daughter now, and that Sienna’s daughters are already navigating the murky waters of high school.
They're all so beautiful; her heart nearly bursts at the thought of it. She finally understands why she was brought back to life forty-two years ago. It was so she could experience all this, all these tiny moments in time that make life worth living. And worth coming back to. If only she could go back and visit that frightened homicide detective lying in a hospital bed with a hole in her chest and tell her about all the things she had to look forward to.
"What are you thinking about?" Castle asks, planting a kiss on the top of her head. She turns to look at him, smiling. His face has more wrinkles now, but his eyes are as bright and warm and loving as ever. His hair has gone gray, but he’s as handsome to her as when she first met the millionaire playboy side of him.
"Just us," she replies. "What we've accomplished over our forty-five years."
Castle's forehead creases ever so slightly. "You do know it's our fortieth anniversary, right? The doctors said my mind would go before yours, but..."
She laughs, placing her hand over his heart. "I'm talking about since the day I walked into that book launching party and arrested you."
"Yes, you did pique my curiosity quite a lot, Detective Beckett."
"That's Captain Beckett, to you, Mr. Castle."
"Ah, well, former Captain Beckett. We solved a lot of crimes together, you and I, in our day."
"That we did," Kate agrees. "Still, my favorite part was always being Detective, not Captain."
"With me pulling your pigtails," he adds.
"Yes, that too." They're silent for a minute, just enjoying each other's company.
Then he says in a strange imitation of his former voice, "Tell me something, you ever have any fun? You know, let your hair down, drop your top, little 'Cops Gone Wild'?"
Kate smiles. "You do know I'm wearing a gun?" They share a laugh together, reminiscing on old times. After recounting stories to each other—working with Agent Shaw, having Natalie Rhodes running around the precinct, Castle shedding tears at the presentation of his very own bottle of Prohibition-era scotch—Castle asks, "You ever regret the time we wasted?"
"Those three years after I met you. Me being an ass, you hating me, my going to the Hamptons with Gina, you and the other people you were seeing..."
"No, never," Kate shakes her head. "We weren't ready then. Not you, not me. And now we've had more than forty wonderful years, Castle. Why, do you?"
"Not a bit," he says. "We've got spectacular children and beautiful grandchildren. I've gotten everything I ever truly wanted."
"Good," Kate murmurs, placing her head on his shoulder again, "me too."
"Do you remember that couple, Vera and Joe Maddox from that case we worked with the Blue Butterfly necklace from the '40s?"
Kate smiles. "Of course I remember them; they were so sweet."
"During that last interview with them, when they were telling us their story, I remember wondering if I'd ever have that. The way they gazed at each other, held to each other—it was clear they were each other's everything. I remember watching them thinking that someday I wanted that and hoping it would be you."
"I was thinking the same thing."
Castle tilts her head to kiss her. "We were great together, you know."
"We still are."
"Always," they whisper together. Because it's true. And when the time comes, they'll be ready for it. They've lived good, fulfilling lives, and while they may not want to leave this world, they will go knowing they've left an imprint on their children, their children's children, and all the families they've brought justice to. Bracken, too. Left a pretty large imprint on him and his memory as well.
Kate lays her head on his shoulder. He loves her, and she loves him. That's all they could really ask for. All this is just so much more. And they're grateful every day.