Chapter 18

"I could call for security if you want, but a driver who's been with us for a long time will be meeting us. Our luggage is right here on the plane, and a well-placed tip will get it to the car so we won't have to deal with it if we want to move fast. So…sunglasses, hat…you ready?" Castle asked.

"As ready as I'll get," she answered with a sigh. "Might as well get my fifteen minutes out of the way sooner than later."

"I'll call the driver. He's supposed to be waiting in the parking lot by now. Then I'll need to find someone to take care of getting the luggage to the car before we get there. We'll have to go through customs, then we can send it on and leave at our own pace."

"You've done this a lot, haven't you?"

"It's been a while since it was enough to worry about. When I was on page six all the time and trying to keep Alexis out of the public eye…a lot…yeah." He leaned and gave her a lingering kiss before going in search of help.

Kate occupied her time nervously while he was gone. To her, it seemed like forever before he returned; but, in reality, he accomplished his task quickly and was back in a few minutes.

When he returned, Kate went straight into his arms, and set off his protective tendencies. Holding her close, he whispered assurances to her. She was his wife, his family, and he was determined to take care of her. Feeling the tension in her shoulders, he knew her anxiety was building, and that he should watch closely for signs of trouble.

"Did you find somebody?" she asked from against his shoulder.

"In no time. I asked the guy driving the baggage cart if he knew anybody inside near customs who could be available to deliver the luggage to the car. He did, I gave him a good tip and told him to have his friend wait at customs with a sign that says 'Carson'."

Kate laughed. "Our guy in Bora Bora would be proud."

"That's a pretty good fake name. We might have to use it again sometime." He nuzzled in her hair and asked, "You okay?" When her nod seemed a little more confident than her quick trip into his arms at his return, he said, "I need to call our driver one more time." Then he took out his phone and made his call, letting Mike know what to expect.

"Sorry I'm so clingy. I'm not making it easy for you to get things done. It feels so girly and dependent."

"You're clinging to your husband, Kate. It makes me feel manly that you need me sometimes," he answered smiling as he pulled her into his arms again.

"I need you all the time, Rick. No matter how it looks. Don't forget that." She snuggled closer and added, "I love you."

"I love you, too." He kissed her head and asked, "Ready to face customs?"

"Yeah. Let's go."

They cleared customs and found the 'Carson' sign; then, after delivering another generous tip and the license number Mike had given him for the car, Castle sent their luggage on its way. Then they headed for the airport entrance. The warm, sunny morning worked in their favor. Kate's hat hid most of her face when she kept her head down, and Castle had his sunglasses on. They made it almost all the way to the entry doors before a woman called Castle's name and someone with her took a picture. She came at them immediately, but he sidestepped her and said, "I'm sorry but our car is waiting," put an arm around Kate's waist and led her through the doors and to the waiting car.

"Get us out of here, Mike," Castle ordered.

"Yes, sir," the driver answered, and pulled out into the line of traffic as quickly as he could.

On the way home, Castle first called his mother and daughter and then called Paula to let her know they were back so she would be prepared. Driving up to their building, they saw that there were a few early bird reporters and photographers waiting there, but a small, manageable group. When they got out of the car, their driver buffered the reporters on one side of the couple and the doorman came out to do the same on the other side; and they got into the building with only a couple of no comment declarations from Castle.

When they entered the loft, Martha and Alexis were there with open arms for both of them, delighted to have them back home. "Sit. Sit. Tell us everything," Martha insisted, and Alexis nodded.

"Are you sure you want to hear everything?" Castle asked his daughter as they all sat down."

"Daaad! No! Just the good stuff."

"That was the g…" was as far as he got before a Beckett backhand to the chest stopped him.

"Castle!" she reprimanded. "Your daughter and I don't need to have this discussion together."

"How exactly did you end up in Ireland?" Alexis asked, moving the honeymoon report in a new direction. "We know the news reports had something to do with it."

They explained the situation and talked about their time in Ireland, and Martha interrupted once to say, "Katherine, you didn't get him back on one of those infernal pieces of machinery, did you?"

"Sorry, Martha. I didn't know it was supposed to be off limits…but it was fun…and your son is a good rider…and he looks good in denim," then added mischievously, "and leather."

"I'm buying a bike for the Hamptons, Mother; and Kate has agreed to keep hers there, too. We won't be riding together in the city."

"Thank goodness for at least small blessings."

"Will you teach me, Kate?" Alexis then looked hesitant and asked, "Or is that a just the two of you, honeymoon kind of thing?"

"Maybe for a little while," she said, slipping her arm around Castle's waist and giving him a loving look, "but not for too long. If it's okay with your dad, we can teach you together. It's probably going to be just a now and then thing…a whim."

That got her one of his twinkly-eyed smiles.

"Why didn't I know you could ride a bike?" Alexis wanted to know.

"Because I stopped right after you were born," her dad explained. "I needed to do my best not to leave you with just your mother."

"Thank you," she answered softly, imagining what that would have been like as she grew up.

"And what about your private house on the island? Was it everything you hoped it would be?" Martha asked.

"More than I imagined," Kate said. "He arranged the best of everything…spoiled me beyond belief."

"He's been waiting for the chance to do that for a long time," Martha told her. "You finally agreed to a little spoiling, and he could hardly contain himself. I have to admit to encouraging him."

"What did you like best?" Alexis asked, looking back and forth between the two of them.

"He's my husband," Kate answered without hesitation.

"She's my wife, and she let me spend money on her, give her things she enjoyed. She let me take care of her."

Kate leaned into him, a little embarrassed. "I guess we're still in the mushy honeymoon phase. Work tomorrow might make us a little easier to live with. Back to reality and all that."

Martha and Alexis laughed. "I don't think we expected anything less," Alexis assured them.

Martha, being a realist, asked, "Speaking of reality, what are you going to do about the reporters when you go back to work? As fast as those two snapshots from the hotel made the rounds of all the news media, live shots of the two of you back in New York will be too hard to pass up. That little bunch in front of the building this morning is going to grow; and now that they know you're back, there will probably be more of them staking out the twelfth

"I know," Kate moaned.

Paula is supposed to call me back soon. Maybe she can work something out…a press conference to answer all the questions so we can move on. Kate can have them arrested if they interfere with an investigation, but anywhere else..." He took a deep breath and released it. "We'll wait for Paula, but we'll have the final say."

"Other than that, it's nice to be home," Kate said. "We should get settled back in, don't you think?" she asked Castle, "before all these time zone changes catch up with us…and we still have to do Paula's bidding."

"Right. I'll get the bags."

"You don't have to do it all. I'll get mine."

"Home less than half an hour, and already getting independent again."

"Hey. Gotta be the take charge team leader again tomorrow. You got the whole honeymoon to take care of me."

Martha and Alexis smiled behind them as they playfully bickered back and forth on their way to their bedroom.

"I hope Paula has some idea of how to get control of the press. I know Kate hates this." Martha said quietly.

"Me, too," Alexis agreed.

Just as they finished putting things away…or in the hamper or the dry cleaning corner of the laundry room for pick up later in the week, Castle's phone rang; Paula was calling.

"Hey, Paula. What's your best suggestion? Kate's here. I'm putting you on speaker." He took Kate's hand and pulled her down to sit on the bed with him.

"She has to be at work tomorrow morning, right?"

"Right," Kate affirmed.

"Then I'd say you have a better chance of getting in and out of the police station in the morning if you get it over with and give them what they want today."

"When today, and what should we expect?" Castle asked.

"I can send a mass email in the next few minutes and have big chunk of the press represented if they really want to hear what you have to say. It's still early. We could plan it for this afternoon. Three. Three-thirty?"

"What do I need to do to be prepared? I'd just as soon go in with as much of a plan as I can manage," Kate said firmly.

"Looks like you're ready for this," Paula answered, sounding surprised.

"More like ready to be done with it."

"You'll be with her, Rick?"

"Of course I will. I'm not throwing her to those wolves alone."

"Okay, Kate. Start with preparing a short opening statement about Bracken, setting expectations for the press questions…setting your limits on subject matter or whatever. Rick can help you with that. Then list every question you can think of that they might ask, and decide on your answers. Be sure you have your notes with you. Wear something that makes you look feminine but Detective Beckett tough. I met her not long ago, and they'll probably pay attention to her. In case we needed it, I've already arranged the option for a convention room at the hotel across from Black Pawn…the one we've used for these things before.

"No objections so far," Castle answered. "Is that enough time, Kate?"

"We can make it enough time. I want this to be over."

"Three or three-thirty?" he asked.

"We'll say the two of you will be there and willing to speak to the press at three. The legitimate press has gone berserk over this Bracken thing, and Kate seems to be the one who caught the brunt of his anger. They all want to know why…and they want details. She's a detective, so they think she'll be able to tell them something they don't know. And now the entertainment crowd wants to know all about the two of you. I'd say to expect a good turnout."

"Great," Kate sighed.

"I'll meet you there at one and have some good wine ready for you. Listen, Kate. You pull out the approach you used on Gina and me, and you'll have their undivided attention. Use that persona to get their attention, then lay down your rules and insist on sticking with them. They won't know what hit them. Rick can hold his own. Let him put his arm around you and look all protective if he wants to. The entertainment people will love it. Hold on to your control of the situation, and the rest will give you some respect. You can soften the edges a little when you answer the questions about the two of you. If you can relax at all, follow Rick's lead if he tries to lighten things up. You deal with murderers every day, woman. At least these people won't shoot at you."

Kate actually laughed lightly. "Yeah, at least there's that. Thanks for the advice, Paula…and for the confidence in me."

"Any more questions?"

"I think we've got it," Castle responded. "Thank you. You're good at this, Paula."

"And don't you forget it," she sassed back. "Call if you need anything. I'll have a car pick you up at twelve-thirty. See you there at one."

When the call ended, they got out their notepads and went to work. They put together an opening statement and then started on the possible questions. By twelve-fifteen, they were both dressed in suits, Rick without a tie, and Kate in a soft gray pants suit with a simple but fashionable and feminine white blouse…soft, but very businesslike…and very high gray heels. Her hair and make-up were perfect…and her nerves were royally rattled.

"Do we pass muster?" Castle asked his mother and daughter.

"They might be too dazzled to ask questions," Alexis teased. "You both look very newsworthy."

"I wholeheartedly agree," Martha responded.

"All of our excuses not to leave are gone, aren't they?" Kate asked.

"The car is probably here already. Shall we?" He opened the door for his wife, waved at his mother and daughter, and they left. Castle called out "No comment" to several questions as they walked to the car.


As promised, Paula met them at the hotel at one…with chilled wine waiting.

"I know it's a little early, but I thought you might want it," she explained, placing three glasses on the table. "Let's see what you have," she said as Castle poured the wine.

He took their completed notes from his coat pocket and put them on the table in front of Paula. She read through them, pointed out a couple of possible changes, and added a couple of questions for them to consider.

"All together, this is very good. You're a good team," she complimented.

"It's why I married her," he commented.

Paula had Kate read her statement a couple of times for practice and wasn't unhappy with what she saw. "Let that detective thing out and do what you just did, and you'll have them eating out of your hand. You're a natural."

"Tell that to my nerves," Kate answered with the hint of a smile. Turning to Rick, she told him, "I'm going to call the precinct and tell the boys or the captain, whoever is there, to tell the rest of the homicide unit we were married last weekend. I don't want them to hear it on the news." Hearing an answer, she began, "Esposito…Yeah, we got back this morning…Will you do something for us?"

As she walked away to finish her conversation, Paula said, "You love her more now than you did when you married her last week, don't you?"

"Yeah. I don't know what it is, but it feels right…being with her."

"It's because you finally found the right one. It looks like it's going to last this time. I'm happy for you." Standing and squeezing his shoulder, she suggested, "Try to help her relax. I think she's going to surprise them…and maybe herself. I need to check on a couple of things. I'll be back in a few minutes."

"Esposito is going to put the word out…let them know we intended to tell them when we got back tomorrow." Kate reported, sitting down at the table with him.

"Think they'll forgive us?"

"I hope so."

When Paula returned, they talked for a while, and she finally said, "The two of you can sit in the next room out of sight. When we're ready to start, I'll come and get you. Go. It's time to let in the wildebeests…give them a few minutes to settle in and get impatient."

"Wildebeests?" Kate asked, edgy but amused, as they went behind the screen and into the next room.

"She has a vast vocabulary of names for them."

"I could probably add a few."

"I believe I'm responsible for a number of them myself."

"If you want to call a halt to things and they won't let go, squeeze my hand, and I'll step in. If I think they're mistreating you, I may do that anyway; but I'll let you do things your way before I do. "I think Paula is right. I think you're going to knock their socks off."

"So, I should try to leave the wildebeests sockless?" she asked playfully.

"If at all possible," he answered with a serious look belied by the mischief in his eyes.

Paula came in then, a bit earlier than they had expected. "The room is already nearly full, and they're still coming in. We'll have standing room only in a couple of minutes, so you might as well come with me now. We'll seat you at the table until we're ready to start, then you can move to the lectern."

"Do you want me with you from the beginning, or should I wait for a signal to join you?" he asked Kate.

"Stand with me from the beginning. I need you close."

He kissed her cheek, took her hand, and they entered the room that way to sit down with Paula.

When the room was as full as could be allowed, Paula stood and made a brief statement of her own, then the Castles stood together and moved hand in hand to the lectern. Kate put her notes down, put her hands palms down on the surface in front of her, and very slightly relaxed as Castle put an arm supportively around her waist.

Out of the sea of faces before her, there was a sudden onslaught of voices all trying to ask questions at the same time…people trying to gain attention with arms in the air, cameras flashing from several directions…and out of a nervous and annoyed Kate rose the specter of Detective Beckett.

"Stop, now!" she ordered, and the shocked crowd actually did.

"We're here to answer all the questions we feel free to answer…or that we feel you have the right to ask, but if we can't hear or understand the questions, there's no reason to be here."

"She's coming to all my press encounters from now on," Castle said proudly, "And all of you know she's right."

"We promise to have the patience to stay until your questions are answered…or not…if you can have the patience to speak to us one at a time," Kate promised. Rick knows some of you. I'll leave that end of the proceedings to him."

Pausing to see if the quiet was holding and being satisfied that it might, she made her statement. "The understatement of the century would be saying that I would be delighted to see men convicted of the merciless crimes attributed to Senator Bracken and Vulcan Simmons locked away for the rest of their lives. All of you have obviously seen the charges levelled against them by the FBI. However, I understand that the investigations into both men's activities are ongoing; and regardless of what I know, I will say nothing that could in any way compromise that investigation. We may answer some of those questions at a later date; but for the time being, if I say that a question will not be answered, any further asking of the same question will be ignored as completely as you ignored my prior refusal. As to our private lives, we will be open to reasonable questions; but there are lines we will not cross. The same expectations just mentioned will apply there as well.

"We don't intend to make a further statement, but we are willing to answer the questions that fall within the bounds of reason," Castle answered. Since he had been designated to keep the Q&A moving, he decided to start with the more serious news reporters. They could lighten things with the entertainment people later. "Myron, would you like to start?" he asked.

"Detective Beckett, we understand there have been several attempts on your life by hired gunmen. Can you verify that? and can you verify who hired them?"

"Yes, there have been attempts made; and no, I will make no statement as to the party responsible."

Castle, being more practiced at such things had the next reporter ready by the time the first question was asked.

"Reports from various sources say that you were shot while speaking at your former captain's funeral and later thrown from the side of a fifteen story building and left to fall. Other rumors purport that during an undercover operation, you were subjected to water torture and again ordered to be shot. Are those reports accurate, and can those attempts be attributed to Senator Bracken?"

"Those reports and rumors are accurate."

"And the rest of my question?" the reporter prodded.

"Will be ignored as stated," Castle explained calmly and invited the next question.

"Were all the attempts made by the same person, and do any of those attempts connect to your mother's murder? No reference to who hired them."

"Thank you for that. A man named Dick Coonan, who was connected to the local drug trade, was hired to kill my mother and two other women who were also involved in trying to raise awareness of drugs in the community. They were making enough of an impression to be of concern to the local drug trade. He was followed by Hal Lockwood, who used the same water technique on one of my partners, and then Cole Maddox. A fourth shooter was connected to the undercover operation mentioned earlier, and a fifth…a woman, appeared there later. The early information is a matter of public record for anyone willing to do their homework."

"A brash young reporter asked snidely, Is it true that you shot Mr. Coonan, the man who shot your mother? Wasn't Mr. Castle the hostage? So you shot your mother's killer to save your lover. Why weren't you reprimanded for that? Was it favoritism within the brotherhood?"

"I'll take that one," Castle answered "I was the hostage, but not her lover. We've only been together for the past two years. Coonan had a gun to my head, several other detectives had guns drawn; words were exchanged, and when the opportunity arose, I head-butted Coonan and moved as far to the side as possible. That left Detective Beckett as the only one with a clear shot, and she took it. She tried desperately to keep him alive for the medics…worked until we dragged her away. There was no reprimand because the man would have shot anyone else he had to in order to escape. An investigation determined that she had no choice. Without that shot, there would likely have been a lot more bloodshed."

"And why would we believe she wanted to save her mother's killer?"

"Because he was the only one left at the time who could tell me who hired him to kill her," Kate answered quietly, earning sympathy from the others. "And I wanted to know who was responsible…mostly for myself and my dad, but for the other women's families, too."

The next question was more respectful. "Speaking of saving lives…did you really save Senator Bracken from an exploding bomb, knowing what he had done to you and your family?"

"I got him out of the way of an explosion because keeping him alive was the job I had been given to do. The brotherhood expects that of its members," she answered, looking pointedly at the young reporter who had now become something of a pariah among the others. "Are there other questions that don't require assignment of who hired assassins or other information I have said won't be discussed?"

The room was quiet, seemingly in respect.

At the silence following that question, one of the entertainment reporters asked, "Was that you and Mr. Castle in the pictures from Bora Bora? He looked pretty protective…like he does now."

"That was us," Castle admitted.

"The possibility of a marriage was mentioned," the next person commented. "Are the two of you already married?"

"Nine days ago," Kate confirmed, holding up her left hand, rings forward, with a smile toward her husband, who held up his left hand as well. He smiled back at her and moved his arm from her waist to her shoulder, relaxing into the lighter questions. Kate slipped her arm around his waist and tried to relax, but she wasn't really there yet. "We were there for our honeymoon."

"No one saw you there again after the pictures came out…how did you manage that? We know you just got back to New York this morning."

"It's hard to avoid people when you're on a small island, so it was either hide out for the rest of the week in our island paradise or cut our trip there short and find somewhere else to go. We opted for a little more freedom and went to rural Ireland…another little piece of paradise," Castle answered.

"I'm guessing we weren't too popular with the two of you."

"Good guess," Kate answered without seeming unfriendly.

"So, is it now Detective Castle and consultant Castle?"

"Detective Beckett at work and Mrs. Castle elsewhere," Kate explained.

"So, Rick, one of the men teased, does that mean you're Mr. Castle elsewhere and Mr. Beckett at work?"

Both members of the couple laughed at that before Rick answered with a grin," I'll have to consider that thought."

"What's in rural Ireland?" another man wanted to know. "Doesn't sound like much excitement."

"Beautiful countryside, a gorgeous little stone cottage with a beautiful view…" Kate began.

"And motorcycles, roads with not much traffic, and some new acquaintances to visit at the tavern when we go back sometime…people who value privacy." Castle was still efficiently pointing out people for questions.

"You took your wife out on motorcycles for your honeymoon?!" a woman asked incredulously.

"Well, you folks made it impossible to take her to fancy public places without being pointed out and followed. Is that how you'd want to spend your honeymoon?"

"And the truth of it is that the bikes were my idea," Kate pointed out in his defense. "We rode a lot and did some exploring...lots of history there. We enjoyed it."

"I think your daughter is in college, isn't she, Rick?" a woman asked Castle. "Do you and your wife plan to have children?"

"Neither of us is opposed to that, but no immediate plans."

"Tell us something about Rick Castle that we don't know, Detective," another woman asked.

"He's not all of what his image has been. One of the first things to convince me of that was the way he lit up when he talked about his daughter. I've never seen a father any more devoted to his child. He's really a family man at heart."

"Do you get along well with his family? His mother is there, too, isn't she?"

"She is, and sometimes I think she likes Kate better than me," Rick answered.

"No, she doesn't," Kate corrected, smiling, "but his mother and daughter have adopted me. His daughter is home at least for the summer…deciding where to be for college in the fall; so right now, our home houses a three-generation family. It's nice. They've even adopted my dad…but he does still have his own place," she joked.

"Does Rick really work with the police that much, or is it just hype for the books?"

"Detectives Ryan and Esposito, and I have valued Castle as part of the team for years now. He would have made an excellent detective. He's gone from annoying writer following me around for book research, to annoying writer who has some redeeming qualities and some good insights, to a friend to all of us who helps us with a lot of tough cases, to nearly full-time civilian consultant who we miss when he's off doing his real job."

"If the city pays him as a consultant…"

"Wait…" Rick said, looking at Kate, pretending shock. "The city pays for that and nobody told me?"

"He volunteers his time," Kate explained, seeming amused. "A lot of it."

"Will there be more Nikki Heat books after the new one?"

"As long as there's a market for them," Castle answered.

"Those sexy scenes in the books…any truth there?"

"Again, we've only been together for two years," Kate responded, looking a bit embarrassed. "Pure fiction."

"And what about the new ones?" someone teased.

"I've been threatened with harm to uummm…things I value highly if anything she recognizes turns up in one of these books… so again…pure fiction," he answered with a grin.

"Can we get a kiss?" one of the photographers requested.

As cameras clicked, the couple looked at one another for a long moment before Castle put one hand on Kate's jaw, her hand came up to his chest, and he gave her a soft, lingering kiss…plenty of time for the cameras to catch it.

"Anybody want to ask that question again?" Castle quipped without taking his eyes off Kate, and garnered the ripple of laughter he'd expected.

"I think that might be a good place to stop," Kate announced, turning back to the reporters. "I don't understand why you're so fixated on me. I'm not alone in this. Others met the same people and weren't so lucky. Other families had their lives turned upside down by the same people, and their stories are just as important. I hope this will be enough from us for a while. We won't be answering any more questions; and after today, I hope my workplace will be respected. My colleagues shouldn't be inconvenienced by having to dodge a flock of reporters and cameramen because of me, and we'd like our neighbors to be able to enter and leave their own homes without obstructions. I'm sure you would wish the same for yours."

"Thanks for your cooperation," Rick said, and waved genially as he guided a relieved Kate out of the public eye.

Once behind the screen that was set up for the cameras, he took her in his arms and asked, "Better now?"

"Yeah," she answered, wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her forehead on his chest. "It wasn't quite as bad as I thought, but it's still not at all appealing."

"Well, I think I can safely say you left a room full of sockless wildebeests in your wake."

Paula was leaning against the wall watching the couple. "Pure gold," she commented. "Rick, if that didn't make you richer, I'll need to worry about the market for books. Kate, they loved you. Perfect balance between tough detective and loving member of a newly constructed family. Just enough information to make them love you as a couple and as a partnership at work, and lines drawn about what's off limits personally. You showed integrity about doing your job and protecting the case that could put away someone important…someone you can eventually tell them you despise. And all without looking like you planned any of that."

"I didn't!"

"I know," Paula answered, practically beside herself with enthusiasm. "It was natural instinct, and I love it."

Kate turned to Rick in confusion at what felt so un-instinctive on her end, and he laughed. "She's happy. Just go with it," he encouraged. "You were amazing."

"I've called the car," Paula reported. "You two go home and relax now. You've earned it. And I'll be looking for wedding pictures, maybe video that I can use for press releases."

"Thanks for all the help and encouragement," Kate said to the other woman and reached to shake her hand, and Paula responded with obvious respect.

Rick looked on, pleased that a little more of their two worlds were beginning to merge. "Let's go," he encouraged.

As they passed some of the reporters in the lobby, they were allowed to move freely. Some of them called to them with congratulations on their marriage, and a couple of others offered their wishes to Kate that all her life threatening trouble had passed now.


When the car reached their building, they walked hand in hand past the few reporters lingering in front and then Castle turned and explained quietly that from now on, neither he nor anyone in his family would respond to reporters who waited at their home and obstructed the street for their neighbors. After that, they walked into the building and went home.

Martha was in the kitchen when they arrived, and asked, "How was it?

"She hated it, but she was so good at it," Castle reported proudly.

"So, it went well?" Alexis asked as she came down the stairs to meet them.

"It didn't kill me," Kate answered, and Alexis laughed at what had become their personal joke and gave Kate a big hug. "What makes it worth all the trouble is that we don't have to try to hide anything anymore. We had our quiet, family wedding, and we almost had a reporter free honeymoon. Everybody knows we're married now, and we can tell them about the wedding instead of hiding it from them. It feels good.

Castle was on his way through the study to hang his jacket in their closet and noticed a box on his desk. "What's this?" he called to Martha and Alexis.

"Wedding pictures," Martha called back. Alexis and I are dying to see them, but we thought we'd wait until you had a chance.

"Paula demanded some for press releases," he told them, looking in the box. The photographer had managed to hide cameras within some of the ceremony's decorations to get video from several angles; and at every opportunity where he was allowed, he had taken a number of candid shots during preparations both at the inn and at the church.

There was an album that the photographer had put together, and the single shots that didn't make his cut for the album were in plastic sleeves. Castle had told him not to throw away anything…to let them decide, so they had a box full of photos and cards with copies of all of them.

There were also several DVDs from the wedding and the rehearsal and the photographer's DVD of the wedding with the best views from all the disks; and they discovered later that he had edited it amazingly well.

"Can we look with you?" Alexis asked, "Or do you want to see them alone first?"

"Kitchen table again?" Kate asked. "Can we wait long enough for my dad to come over if he has time?"

"We should have thought of that. Tell him to bring Chinese," Martha said with a teasing smile.

Kate grinned and took her phone from her pocket as Castle told her, "Tell him we're having Chinese, and we'll order. He and the food should get here about the same time."

"Hi, Dad," she said when he answered. "We're home, and the wedding pictures came today. Want to come over and look at them with us?" She listened and then said, "We'll be looking for you…oh, and we're having Chinese…love you, too. Bye."

"He said he'd be here in half an hour."

"When will you know what the reporters do with your question and answer session this afternoon?" Martha asked

"I imagine it will be randomly distributed in varying amounts wherever they need something to fill space. It looked like most of them would be fair about it."

"Except that one young guy with a chip on his shoulder."

"An annoyance of a public life. There's always one. I think there are enough of the others to counterbalance anything he says, though," Castle assured his wife.

"Why don't we each take a station and see if we can find any of it," Alexis suggested. "That should fill time between when we get Granddad and Chinese."

All the television sets downstairs were turned on, along with the laptops, and everyone found a different news program, some part of the questions and answers turning up eventually on all of them. Comparing notes, they found that several newscasters had shown the look before the kiss with different comments, all meaning, "If that look is any indication, this marriage is going to last."

"I'll bet the whole thing is on YouTube by now," Alexis speculated. "We can watch it later." Hearing a knock on the door, she walked toward it saying, "I wonder if that's Granddad or the food." on opening the door, she said with a grin, "Dad, it's for you."

"I assume that means money is required," her father answered.

Jim Beckett walked up behind the delivery man and took care of the bill before Castle got to the door. "It's on me this time," he told him. "Where to?" he asked holding up the bags.

"That depends," Martha answered. "Are we eating first or looking at wedding pictures first?"

"Warming drawer?" Alexis asked hopefully. "I really want to see the pictures."

Everyone agreed and they all sat at the table passing pictures as they had done before. Reactions were wide…from full laughter to a quiet "Awwwww" and everything in between. Then they all stood behind Rick and Kate and watched as they turned the pages in the album, seeing the photographer's fine eye in his choices. There were the formal shots along with some that were more informally posed and some candid photos that caught perfect little segments of time.

"The man is a genius," Martha stated as they closed the album.

"Which is exactly why we hired him," Castle said smugly. "And he earned every arm and leg he charged."

The photos were tucked away, dishes, etc. distributed, and the Chinese food containers were spread rather unceremoniously on the table for dinner. They all enjoyed it, as much for the company as for the food.

At bedtime, the newlyweds took the album to bed with them and looked through it again alone. Then they put it aside and made love to one another gently, before morning came and they had to be back at work.


At their arrival most of the flock of reporters were gone, and this time it was Kate who explained to the die-hards the concept of not responding to anyone blocking her workplace entrance.

Their return to the precinct was met with applause, congratulations on the marriage and Bracken's downfall, the presence of a large cake on Beckett's desk, and comments about their star status after the previous night and the morning's news reports…Beckett saying she'd be glad when her fifteen minutes of fame passed on to somebody else.

The couple quickly fell back into the routine of cases, and working with colleagues, Karpowski collected her winnings and took a trip home to visit her family, and Captain Gates seemed to be a little easier on Castle.

Castle dragged Beckett to meet with his attorney and his accountant, and she was predictably appalled at what Castle insisted was hers as well as his. His attorney had been with him through two divorces from greedy women, for whom Castle had provided generous personal accounts rather than access to his entire fortune. Meredith was perfectly happy with that. As long as she could spend as much as she wanted, she had no desire to have to deal with anything else. Gina was a wealthy woman in her own right; but when the divorce came, she was in a position to know exactly what was accruing in Rick Castle's bank account and insisted on her share, with alimony. He advised Rick to follow that same path with Kate, but he soon understood the difference. When Kate looked at everything she was being granted access to, and broke into tears, telling Rick she just wanted to be married to him, that she didn't want all of that, both men's jaws dropped; but she agreed to sit with them periodically to learn what she needed to know about how to handle his financial affairs if anything happened to him. And Kate insisted that Alexis be with her for those instructions, feeling that it was meant more to be Alexis' inheritance than Kate's own personal windfall.

Now and then they would get a message from Jackson Hunt in Martha's new drop box, and eventually a trip to a private hunting lodge in the mountains was arranged and Alexis finally met her grandfather.

Kate was promoted to lieutenant, which gave her the option of working in the field or not. She chose to work with her team as she always had until she and Castle were expecting their first child, and then she voluntarily took herself out of the field and turned the team over to newly promoted Esposito. When Captain Gates decided to retire, Kate was in place to take the captain's exam, and Gates pressed the brass to name Kate as her replacement.

True to Castle's prediction, they had children, and growing old together seemed likely, especially with Bracken and a large number of his co-conspirators behind bars, several serving multiple life sentences. With two small children at their ages, life was certainly never boring; and as they had promised one another, they never lost the romance.