A/N: This has a character death in it. A natural death, since we all die eventually. Remember though, that love never dies.

Disclaimer: The characters belong to MilMar and ABC. I just borrowed them.

When they were younger, she had expected her job might get her killed, and he would be left behind. After their son was born, she decided she didn't want her son to grow up without a mother. While she was a detective, the chances were increased that he would. She quit her job with Rick's blessing. Her son was more important than any job. She never regretted her decision. It seemed even more correct when they had their daughter. That was decades ago. She still never let herself consider the possibility that she'd be a widow, until he got sick.

Six months, they had told them he only had six months even with chemo. After 34 years of marriage, she should be ready for the inevitable. After all, he is a decade older than she is. It only makes sense that he would die first, but she had never really thought it was possible. He is Richard Castle, author, father and her husband, her always. He's been her rock for 40 years. He was still strong and handsome even with his gray hair. The diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was devastating. He doesn't want to do the chemo. He joked that he was afraid she wouldn't love him, if he became bald. She swatted him on the arm, let silent tears flow down her cheeks and breathed him in, enfolded in his arms. His arms were still strong, still muscular even at 79. They will spend the time together, and use it wisely.

The children and grandchildren were stunned when they told them that Rick had cancer. Alexis let her tears flow, but didn't sob as her husband's arm wrapped around her shoulders. Ian and Hannah were adults now, both married with small children sleeping upstairs. They rose and embraced their Dad. Ian's wife, Anna, rubbed her pregnant belly as she cried softly in her seat. Hannah's husband, Kevin, rose and embraced Kate. Alexis's children were college students now, but Laura and Alex just sat there stunned at the news that Poppa was dying.

Alexis had spoken first, "How bad is it?" Rick answered her truthfully, he had always told her the truth, "The doctor says that with aggressive chemo I'd only have 6 months, and it would be a miserable 6 months. Without it, maybe 2 or 3 months, but they can't be sure. I've decided to forgo the aggressive chemo. I don't want to be miserable during my last days. I don't really feel all that sick, yet. Some nausea and pain was what prompted the ultrasound and MRI. The tumor is inoperable, because it's impinging on an artery. Once things start to get worse, we'll get a nurse to stay here and keep me comfortable. The doctor said there are some targeted drugs with fewer side effects than the chemo. It might afford me some more time. Kate and I have decided to discuss that option with the oncologist. We want more information, before we decide to go that route. I've had all my affairs in order…"

Alexis interrupted her father, "Dad, we don't care about that part. We just care about you. Kate, do you really agree with this decision about the chemo?"

"Alexis, sweetie, " Kate had to pause before she continued, "I want your Dad to live forever, but that isn't a possibility. We agree that he should be allowed to enjoy the rest of his life as comfortably as possible. When Martha was diagnosed with liver cancer, she decided to fight it aggressively. You remember that it didn't really help, and she was so sick. Your Dad's cancer is not the same cancer, but the doctors say it is too late to cure it. Let's make the time we have left with him a time to make more good memories. Okay?"

Alexis nodded her reply. Everyone hugged and kissed each other and there were tears.

That night was 4 months ago. At the end of the first month of Rick's meds, they had spent a week in the Hamptons house with the entire family. The side effects were tolerable, and they had been able to pretend it wasn't Rick's last summer. The younger family members returned to the city, while Rick and Kate enjoyed some relaxing days alone. The following weekend the Ryans and the Espositos arrived in the Hamptons for a visit. Their NYPD family had been told the bad news at a dinner at the loft the day after they told their children. Rick had asked Hannah's husband, Kevin, not to tell his folks. The weekend in the Hamptons would be a chance for them to reminisce with their closest friends. Kate had told the boys, Lanie and Jenny that Rick was emphatic that his illness was not to be mentioned. The weekend had been all they had hoped for. During the whole four months, their family and friends had been eager to help in any way they were needed.

Her big, strong husband had lived longer than the doctors predicted. He was having more pain now, but the pain meds helped. There was a nurse upstairs in the guest room. Kate had a walkie-talkie type device that she could call him with if she needed him. Rick had thought it was hilarious that the nurse they hired was Greg McClintock, Jr. Greg was so grateful for what they had done for his parents years ago, that he took better than wonderful care of Rick.

Rick was sleeping next to her now. The pain meds had put him to sleep. He was not his strong self anymore, but he still had his wit and his charm. Kate watched him sleep. She has made her peace with the fact that she is going to be a widow. Her mother, Rick's Dad, her father and Martha had all passed on now. That's how life is; the people we love leave us. Everything eventually ends.

Rick stirred and Kate laid her hand on his chest. He opened his eyes. She was still mesmerized by the deep blue of his eyes. "Hey," Rick breathed out. "I guess I fell asleep. What time is it?"

"It's only 9. Do you want to get up or stay here?" Kate asked him softly.

"Some of the best moments in my life have been in this room," Rick joked a little.

Kate slapped at his chest gently. "You are still a silly, old man. You have made my life so …."

Rick interrupted her, "Sweetie, don't. We have had decades together. I love you and I know you love me. You don't have to thank me, or reassure me that you love me. I know, babe, I know. We can't regret the future we won't have, we just have to be grateful for all that we have had. You will have family and friends to help you…."

It was her turn to interrupt, "I'll be fine, and the kids will be fine. Don't worry, okay? Let's just enjoy the here and now. You're not too sick or old for…."

Rick pulled Kate to him and silenced her with his lips. Their lovemaking was gentle and fervent. He didn't have the strength for the all-nighters of their past, but their passion and love was deeper than ever. Kate had assumed the alpha role in bed as Rick had weakened. Any day could be Rick's last now. Any moment they were together could be their last. As they recovered from shattering in unison, Rick played with the ends of Kate's hair.

"After I'm gone, you can stop dyeing your hair if you want," Rick teased Kate as he carded his fingers through her hair.

Kate propped herself up on her elbow and glared at her husband, just like she had thousands of times before. "I do not dye my hair. I have someone do it for me." They both laughed. After a moment the laughter died down, and Kate continued. "I don't dye it for you. You'll love me even if I'm bald. When the gray hair started, Martha told me I should do whatever makes me feel beautiful. So blame it on your mother. Do you want me to dye it red?"

Rick pretended to be aghast and then started laughing. "There have been enough redheads in my life." He continued to play with her hair, and she leaned into his hand. They settled into the pillow with Kate's head on Rick's shoulder. After a few minutes of just enjoying the comfort of being next to each other, Rick broke the silence, "Would you like a snack? I'd like some ice cream."

"Anything you want, babe. Do you want me to bring it to you, or should we settle on the sofa with bowls and watch a movie?" Kate offered.

"Grab my clothes and let's go snuggle on the sofa with some ice cream," Rick replied as he pushed himself into a seated position. After getting dressed, they moved to the kitchen for some sundae construction.

With their concoctions in hand, they settled into the sofa in his office. Instead of a movie, they decided to listen to music. Smooth jazz filled the room as they leaned on each other, and spoons created an occasional clink against the bowls. Kate carried the empty bowls to the kitchen. Greg appeared at the top of the stairs, and she looked up.

"How's he doing tonight?" Greg inquired as he reached her. "I heard the music, so I knew you were up."

"Actually, he is doing pretty good after his nap." Kate smiled as she spoke. "I'll call you if I need anything."

"Kate! Kate!" Rick called so softly they barely heard him. Kate and Greg ran to the office. Rick was lying on the floor. "Dizzy."

Greg was checking Rick out, as Kate knelt next to Rick. Kate grabbed Rick's hand and placed a kiss on his forehead. "Babe, you should have waited."

Rick mumbled, "Love you…" He looked in Kate's eyes, and she saw the words he couldn't say. His lips started to turn blue, and his breathing became irregular.

Kate looked at Greg, then back at Rick. "I love you, Rick. Hold on, we're here."

Greg felt for a pulse, looked at Kate and ordered, "Call 911."

Kate grabbed the phone from the table next to her and called for the EMTs. Greg started CPR as Kate also called the doorman to tell him that the EMTs were coming.

Thirty minutes later, Kate sat on the floor with Rick's head in her lap. She had asked Greg to call the kids and let her have a few minutes alone, while they waited for the ME to arrive. She brushed the hair from Rick's brow and kissed him softly. "It's okay, babe, we'll be okay. I love you. Always." The tears silently flowed as Kate caressed his face. She stayed with his head in her lap until Ian arrived. He sat next to his mother and put one arm around her.

"Mom, they're here to take him away. Do you want an autopsy? Since he was under Hospice care, you can tell them 'No.'" Ian informed Kate.

"Rick and I talked about that. He wanted an autopsy done, just in case they found something that would help any future patients," Kate told her son after she placed one last kiss on Rick's mouth. Ian helped her up from the floor.

They left the room as the ME and his staff bagged Rick's body. Ian hugged his mother, and she felt his tears on her forehead. He was taller than his dad had been, but not as muscular. He turned her away from the gurney as it passed thru the living room. Ian didn't want her to watch them roll Rick out.

The autopsy revealed that Rick's tumor had caused a tear in the artery it was touching. Rick had bled out internally.

After the ME released the body, Rick was cremated. A memorial service was held for family and friends. Kate had Rick's ashes placed in a stone box that she kept in their bedroom on one of the bookshelves. A tombstone was placed in the cemetery next to Martha's, but Rick's ashes stayed with Kate.

Two months after the memorial service, Anna gave birth to Richard Ian Castle.

Twelve years after Rick died, Kate slipped away in her sleep. She was cremated, just like Rick. Her ashes were placed in the same stone box as Rick's. In both their wills, they had instructed that their ashes were to be mixed together and then buried next to Martha. They would be together, always.

A/N: I buried my 1st husband at the age of 25. My 2nd husband is ill, and it got me thinking about losing him after all these years. That's where my head is today, so you'll understand the sadness. I based Rick's cause of death on my Mother-in-Law. She only lived 3 months after her diagnosis, and she passed away this same way just a few minutes after our last visit with her.