A/N: Here's the epilogue! It's very much shorter than the other chapters, but well ... I would've called it 'Chapter 24' if it weren't.



The dropping of a bag onto the empty chair at her table made her startle; when its appearance was followed by a bustling, obnoxious presence, Katherine Beckett rolled her eyes.

"Babe," a happy voice chirped, and try as she might, Kate could not keep the grin off her face.

"Richard," she countered.

"Oh, we're playing that game, are we?" Rick teased as he leant over to kiss her cheek. "Well, Katherine, you're looking at the newly minted Richard Castle."

The book she had been reading slipped from her fingers. "You're in?" she gasped, ignoring the thud the book made as it hit the ground.

"I'm in," he answered proudly.

"Black Pawn accepted your manuscript?"

He spread his hands. "How could they resist, once they saw this ruggedly handsome face?"

"Rick!" she squealed, launching herself into his arms. He caught her with laughter that trickled down her spine. Pressing her lips to his skin, she murmured, "I'm so proud of you."

She could feel his beam against her face. "I'm so proud of me, too," he replied, chuckling when she unleashed her fist against his arm. He pulled away just far enough to look at her. "Seriously, though … Nikki Heat, it's all you," he told her seriously. "I couldn't have done it without you."

She huffed shyly. "It's just my name—and not my real one, at that."

"Oh, I beg to differ," he retorted airily. "A lawyer determined to become the first female Chief Justice by taking on the cases no one wants to touch? It's all you."

Kate laughed. "I haven't even graduated yet, Rick."

"But someday it'll be you," he answered kindly, and she gave him a grateful smile. Changing the topic, he asked, "So, anyway, how was class?"

"Looong," she moaned, "but they're almost over. And after this? There'll be only one year left till I get my degree. Finally."

Rick and Kate both sobered at that. It was almost a year since her father's death; though things were slowly getting better and Kate was regaining her footing again, she still found herself awakening in the middle of the night in tears sometimes. Rick never failed to pull her close and hold her tightly when that happened, though. He was a truly amazing man—Kate did not know how she could have gotten through her father's death without him.

He reached out to hold her hand carefully now. "I bet they're proud of you," he whispered.

"Me, too," she replied softly. Tightening her grip on his fingers, she emboldened herself and added, "And Rick? Come January … I want you to go with me to their graves."

He seemed to choke up at that. "I'd be honoured to," he murmured, his voice wavering, and she felt the sting of tears in her own eyes.

"Anyway." She cleared her throat, attempting to lighten the atmosphere once more. "Tonight—dinner. You, me, your mum."

He raised his eyebrows, surprised. "Don't we always eat dinner together?"

"No, no, we do," she agreed, "but we'll be going out tonight. My treat—we have something to celebrate, after all."

He surprised her when he sat back and ran his eyes carefully over her. "You're not pregnant, are you?" he asked suddenly.

"What?" she squawked indignantly, her previous sadness forgotten in the face of her irritation. (Only he would come up with something entirely so out-of-the-blue.) "What the hell, Rick? Of course I'm not! Why would you even—"

He leant back in his chair, cackling loudly. "I'm kidding, Kate. God, you should see your face."

"It's not funny!"

"It is," he protested, "because the scare is usually the other way around. I can't believe I got you."

With a glare, Kate stabbed a finger into Rick's chest. "See if you aren't sleeping on the couch tonight," she threatened with a growl, and had to suppress a grin of her own when his expression fell into one of dismay.

"What? Nooo!" he whined, tugging on her arm. "Kate, pleaaase. C'mon. I'm sorryyy!"

With a satisfied smirk, Kate instead immersed herself in the occupation of ignoring him and settled back into her seat with her newly retrieved book. Rick promptly took that as a cue to come up with as many ways as he could to attract her attention.

Yep. They were going to be juuust fine.

A/N: Aaand ... that's a wrap :P

A big thank you to everyone who has read, reviewed, favourited, put out an alert for, or in some way supported me through this fic! Truly, I couldn't have done this without you; it's often been the difference of one review or one look at the follower count that's kept my self-doubt from completely shredding me to bits. So, thank you.

To those who celebrate the Eid on Monday (or even those who don't), Eid Mubarak! I hope you have a good festive season.