Dear Kate,

I know you are doing all you can to get us out of here. I know that because I know you, and I trust you. But in the event you don't get us out… I need to tell you something. I know you say you don't remember the shooting. But I do. I remember everything about it, from handing the family of Captain Montgomery the service flag, to helping escort his casket, to seeing the flash and jumping, hoping – No – PRAYING I could beat that bullet. Praying it would be me, and not you. I remember you laying there, trying to fight, to stay alive. I can still feel the pain in my chest, making me feel like I was having a heart attack. Losing you… I couldn't. Not you. I spent too damn long being lost, not knowing my meaning or purpose beyond my books. Beyond the burden I am to my Mother and daughter. Katherine Haughton Beckett… My purpose was to be saved by you. Doesn't matter if you know it or not, but you have saved me from myself. The partying like a frat boy, the late nights, and the alcohol… It stopped the longer I knew you. The longer I realized that my ex-wives were exes because they were not who I was meant to be with, no matter how I felt at the time. I knew it was you. Kate, I spent the past TWO YEARS… Working on getting the courage up to tell you how I felt. We have been thru HELL and back. We have been shot at, blown up, nearly frozen… And every time, I remember thinking I can die. I can accept the oncoming darkness of defeat as long as I had you by my side. Granted, it was by your side, and me… But not the point. The point is, remember it or don't. I told you I loved you. I love you more than LIFE, Kate. ALWAYS. That is why I say Always, and why I'm there day after day. I have enough material to write HUNDREDS of books. I stay because I can't be away from you without feeling empty. Without feeling lost and breathless. I see you, and that smile, that head shake... Make me go slightly brain dead. Kissing you… We have only kissed three times, but I feel like I know how teenagers in love feel after their first kiss. You have the power to melt me, freeze me, break me and rebuild. I have always admired your strength and passion. I am a writer, and here writing this letter… What may be my last, I find I cannot quite find the words I need or want. I find myself dwelling on you and that smile. I can't put anything to words that make sense. Nothing beyond how much I love you, Katherine Beckett, and how much I regret not telling you sooner. Not telling you that YOU make the songs make sense to ME. You are my one and done, to steal a phrase from a beautiful woman I know. I can't… I can't say goodbye. Because cheesy as it may sound, I'll see you again. So for now… I'll tell you once more how much I love you. You are more than my muse, Kate. You're my Nikki. I wish I had gotten to be your Rook.

Always,

Castle

P.S.: For my mother's sake… Put my given name on my headstone. I owe her that much.

Not a word was said. Just silence, stunned and hurting, as a tear fell, smudging the 'always'.