"There is no victory, there is only the battle and in the end the best you can hope for is to find a place to make your stand... and if you're lucky you'll find someone to stand with you"

Those were the last words Richard Castle heard before a flash of a sniper scope caught his attention and he launched at his partner Kate Beckett. He felt a blinding pain in his chest and then there was nothing.

The next thing he knew he was standing in the grass next to his body, Kate on her knees bent over him pressing on the wound in his chest crying hysterically and begging him to stay.

He hears her sob the three words he's longed to hear from here 'I love you' then his eyes dart and he decides to try something.

He focuses really hard and he hears his own weak barely there voice utter 'I love you...too' but it's all he can do.

He watches in frustration as the paramedics take over, Lanie pulling a trembling Kate away from him and holding her while she sobs.

He wants to hold her, he wants to comfort her, but it's him she's crying over and he's having a damn out of body experience instead of waking up. This is just his luck

The ride to the hospital is merciless, he stands watching as the paramedics walk through him to work on his body.

He feels pain that lands him on his knees when he flatlines that doesn't leave until his heartbeat returns.

This is some freaky shit and he has no idea how he's going to process it all or even if he's going to remember any of this when he wakes up... if he wakes up.

He follows his body into the surgical room and watches as Kate's boyfriend, Josh Davidson, hands him over to the secondary doctor saying he wont touch him.

He's angry, so very angry with the doctor so he follows him to the waiting room where he blatantly lies to Kate saying he was removed for an ethics thing.

He waits for Kate to shove him off then takes a swing at him expecting his fist to go right through the doctor but is surprised when the doctor falls onto his back, the flesh of his cheek indenting when his fist hit and now a bruise is forming.

The entire waiting room has suddenly gone silent as people stare in disbelief. But Castle's anger is untethered, there's nothing stopping him from making this man pay for the hell he's put Kate through, the hell he's put him through. Now that he knows he can connect he focuses his anger and steps forward.

He grabs Josh by the scrubs and yanks him up, holding him with one hand and punching with the other.

Kate's jaw is hanging open because they can visibly see the bunch in the scrubs and the flesh being compressed with each punch.

Once Castle is satisfied he throws the unconscious man onto the floor then writes in the blood on the tiles the word 'liar' before stepping away.

By this time the only person still in the waiting room is Kate, she looks unmoved at her boyfriend on the floor then her eyes catch the writing in blood, her brow going up since she had a feeling that not only was Josh lying but she knows who's doing this.

Her voice was a whisper "Castle?"

Castle moves to her when she says his name, watches as her eyes look around as though she can't believe this is happening.

He reaches out and strokes a strand of hair behind her ear then rests his hand on her cheek.

She closes her eyes and smiles a little, her voice a bare whisper "are you dead? tap once for yes, twice for no"

He taps twice then strokes her cheek with his thumb.

She's overwhelmed, she knows she's not imagining this but it goes against all her skepticism. She wrestles with herself a moment then finally just allows herself to believe.

She whispers for him to follow then hurries into a single toilet bathroom and locks the door behind her.

She paces a few times then pulls a small notebook out of her breast pocket and a pen. "Castle what's going on?"

Castle looks at the pen and paper, the first few tries pass right through but the third he's focuses enough to pick up the pen. Kate watches in shock as the pen lifts and starts to write

out of body experience I think

"Did you see who took the shot?" she asks, her hands starting to shake again as Castle hears a voice in his head. It sounds like Kate but he knows it isn't

there's a voice, she sounds like you but it's not you. she says his name is Cole Maddox and he works for Senator Bracken

Kate braces herself on the sink, the implications of his word heavy. Could her Mom be telling him who ordered the hit on her? She had no better explanation for it. She turns her head as he starts writing again

She says the evidence you need is in Montgomery's desk and in the largest member of the family of elephants

She stares at the notebook, swallowing hard a few times "Okay Castle, I understand what you're saying. I'll check it out as soon as you're out of surgery. Please tell me you're going to live"

I'm not a plucky sidekick, I'm your partner and I'm not going anywhere. We need to make little Castle babies still

She actually blushes at his words and clears her throat "thinking a bit far ahead are we Castle?"

nothing else to do until I can get back into my body. you need to wash your hands and face

she blinks at the last part and looks in the mirror to find her face smeared with his blood, then down at her hands that are saturated "oh god" she dives for the garbage and throws up violently, she can feel his hand on her back throughout the ordeal, then she ducks to the sink and starts scrubbing her hands and face hard. He just stands behind her and rubs her back in comfort. Once she's feverishly drying her hands with paper towels he finally writes again

dump Josh Kate, he's a liar. He refused to treat me even with a hole in my heart. Leave him, take me instead

She watches the letters appear with tears in her eyes, she ignores the swell of anger since Castle himself wrought revenge on Josh

"I was planning to do just that Castle, I promise"

She rolls her eyes as he just draws a ridiculous smiley face in response complete with ears hair and teeth

"I need to get back out there Castle, try to not beat anyone else up" She scooped up the notepad and pen then walked out of the bathroom like she'd just been cleaning up. She noticed that people had trickled back after the supernatural beat down and that they were still whispering about it.

She sat down next to Alexis, about to reassure her when Alexis closed her eyes and smiled. Kate knew that was the smile she got when her Dad kissed her forehead so she knew that she didn't need to reassure the girl.

When the doctor came out to explain the severity of his wounds Castle made his way back to his body, surprised to find a dark haired woman in a smart dress suit standing there.

He didn't have to ask who it was, he just knew "Hello Mrs. Beckett" he said simply as he walked to the other side of his body.

She smiled and looked up at him "Please just call me Jo, everyone but Katie did"

Castle nodded to her "It's a pleasure to meet you Jo, even under these weird circumstances"

She laughed and shook her head "Yes these are quite unique circumstances aren't they? Lucky for you it will only be a brief visit with me"

Castle looked at his comatose body then back to her "I'm glad for that, I'm sorry that yours is so permanent"

Johanna waved her hand "I came to terms with that a long time ago Rick and have settled for watching over my family. Thank you for bringing my Katie back to life Rick, her soul was dead until she met you"

Castle looked at the floor "I wouldn't say dead Jo, just severely secluded. Drawn inside herself like a hermit in a cave. I may have brought the humor, but she did the work"

Jo smiles at that "such a humble man, it's one of the reasons I approve of you and Katie starting a relationship. Yes Rick, you have my blessing for however you wish to proceed"

Castle looks up and meets her eyes before smiling warmly to her

"Thank you Jo, that truly means alot to me"

She reaches out and touches his shoulder. "I know it does Rick, now it's time to climb back into your body. Just walk on into it, it'll suck you up like a sponge"

With that she fades away, Castle looks at himself then shrugs walking to his middle then all is dark again.

When he wakes again he's back in his body and hours have passed. The pain is immeasurable but he still opens his eyes and looks at a nurse, his voice weak

"Kate... I need Kate"

The nurses eyes flash wide, he shouldn't be awake yet but he is. He remembers everything from his out of body experience but he needs to make sure it was real before getting his hopes up.

Moments later the woman herself jogs into the room and takes his hand quickly

"I'm right here Castle" she says softly.

He uses the other hand to point at her breast pocket "Did I..."

it takes her a second but she catches his meaning, he wants to make sure it wasn't a dream "yes Castle, you did and you also put Josh into a coma. He'll wake up to a Dear John letter but oh well"

Castle actually smiles at that and squeezes her hand.

"So I love you, you love me, we want to be together... I'm feeling my mortality so I'm going to dive while I'm still alive. Marry me Kate, as soon as they release me lets go to Markaway and get married"

She's expecting her walls to flare up, to tell her to run but she's surprised to find nothing of the sorts happening so she smiles at him

"whatever you want Castle, I just want you"

That said she leans down and kisses him softly.

Who knew forever would start with a supernatural beat down? Surely not him, but he was determined to spend the rest of his life reassuring her that he is definitely not a ghost.