A/N: With thanks to my ever kind Beta. I'm a mess of feelings I will be for a while I think. Thank you for reading.
Set at the (almost) end of the episode.
She hears his voice. Much like last time and the time before that. When the blood drains out of her and the world narrows, losing focus, her mind floods with him. Always.
It's strange really, that she hears him offer to debrief her, they're married now, he does that often enough, but when she hears her own response she shudders, knowing why.
This is it, isn't it?
Those few seconds of life flashing before her eyes that the man she knew as Caleb warned her about. This is their story, their ending, a montage of moments that hold so much meaning darting through her mind as synapses fire off one last time.
Surely it can't end like this?
The voice in her head answers for her. So young, so naive, she tells a jackass with a charming smile he has no idea and she feels the burn of tears behind her eyes. If anyone had no idea, it was her. If anyone went into this and was blindsided by the depth of their own feelings, it was she.
Him? He always knew.
Extraordinary was a word he bandied about since day one. Extraordinary is what their life together has been.
He always knew.
The room shimmers, tears burning her eyes and beside her he gasps. His fingers squeeze at her own as though he knows what she's thinking, and maybe in that magical way they've always had, he does.
No regrets. She hears her own words, her own reassurances now falling flat as he tries to press them into her. No regrets.
Except she does, she does regret this so much. This moment, this ending for them. She hates the injustice of it. The unnecessary tension and lies that have plagued this last year of their marriage.
None of it seems worth it now as he bleeds out beside her and the truth she holds secret inside burns to be set free.
They've been forced into a corner, life coming at them from all sides, powerless. Powerless until this moment. She might not be able to change their fate, but she can sure as hell rewrite their ending.
"Castle," Kate smiles, eyes heavy as the black pull nagging at her spins the room, makes his eyes flicker. She can feel herself slipping further away. "Ba-"
"Babe." He breathes, his own smile immediate, latching on to that sweetest of endearments one last time.
"No -" she gasps, eyes closing, hand pulling his to the pooling blood on her stomach. "Baby."
Like a gut punch from the universe - hitting harder than any bullet ever could - that word is all he needs to hear.
Strength. Disbelief. Panic. Adrenalin.
Whatever it is, it rushes through him. Dulls the pain. Narrows his perspective.
His pregnant wife is dying.
Nothing matters more.
With what's left of the energy draining from his battered body, Castle raises himself up and presses down hard on the bullet wound in her stomach. He tries not to think about the tiny life inches below the surface, swallowing hard past the lump in his throat.
It's then that he remembers the machine. Reprogrammed. Thank god.
"Lucy," he croaks, trying desperately to lift himself up, to apply pressure, to cradle her as she slips deeper into unconsciousness. "Call 911."
He doesn't remember the ambulance. He remembers other things though.
Wailing sirens. Flashing lights. A gurney. Too fast talking and bumps in the road. He yelps in pain and passes out.
His mother. His daughter. His own voice raised in anger.
The darkness that comes back time and again stealing him from reality. Forcing him into inescapable dreams of his smiling wife and their newborn baby. Tiny fingers, blue eyes and dark hair.
Kate covered in blood.
He wakes with a gasp and a determination to stay that way - alert, ready - until he knows she's okay. That they're both gonna be okay.
It's touch and go they tell him over and over again, trying to keep him calm, still, as they inflate his lung, stitch him up. Don't move becomes little more than a challenge as the surgeon marches in, tells him they are taking her up now.
"Your wife is a fighter, Mr. Castle." The doctor informs him. He makes her introduce herself, feels stupidly that telling her something - their story, the things they've overcome, the wonders they've accomplished - of the woman battling for her life and the life of their unborn child will somehow endear them to her.
It's hope. And right now that's all he has.
Against all odds, odds he hopes they never stop beating, it works.
Lily Carter. M.D.
Her name will stay with him forever.
He sits with difficulty, waits out the hours with those who've been here before. They've lived it a time too many, this bedraggled bunch. This immediate family.
Now there's so much more at stake.
When her father arrives, tears stream down his cheeks as he reaches for the man. It's not how he ever imagined doing this, but staring into the eyes of the only person who loves his wife as much as he does, Castle can't bring himself to stop.
He doesn't want to when Jim asks him yet again, "How's my daughter?"
"She's pregnant," Castle states. Words foreign to his own ears, saying them outloud finally makes it seem real. His legs turn to jelly, wrapped in the arms of her father, he sinks to the floor.
And the sobbing starts again.
The night passes slowly, quietly. Martha sits with Jim, the boys and Lanie talking among themselves. Alexis rests her head on his shoulder and he watches the way Hayley's hand slips into her own. There's a unity among them tonight.
It's fitting that they're all together when the doctor finally reappears.
She makes it through. They both do, and he bursts his stitches laughing - crying - with relief.
She's still sleeping when they move their beds into the same room. After less than a day with half of the NYPD hovering in their corridors, and two of the scariest red headed women they have ever encountered, the staff give in and reunite them.
It feels like a hollow victory. She should be awake by now, but she's not. Her heart beats, so does their baby's, but she doesn't stir.
Gritting his teeth through the pain, Castle bides the day with quiet resignation. He does his best to ignore the thought that nags at him. Maybe this is how it ends after all.
Dawn creeps across the skyline and his eyelids droop. He's been awake almost continually since his own surgery, ignoring the pleas of those around him that he's pushing too hard, content, instead, to wait for her.
He'd follow her anywhere. Into the storm, through the path of a tornado, to the ends of the earth and back. There are no limits. He just needs her to wake up.
Her fingers flex and in his tired state he strokes them absentmindedly, only coming awake to the realization she's moving when she starts to call his name.
"Cas - Castle." She breathes the word, absorbed in the effort it takes her for only a moment before, "Bab-"
"The baby's fine." He swears, blinking back the blur of his vision so he can drink her in. Beautiful. Glowing. "Bullet missed her completely."
"I know." She smiles, wryly, a little washed out from pain meds and blood loss. "Her?" Her fingers seal over his, over the life they created together, an indomitable wall of protection created by two loving, living, parents.
"A hunch?" He stutters, not even sure why he said it himself.
"A - a Castle theory?" Her eyelids flutter.
"Can't get enough of them, can you, Beckett?"
She laughs, eyes heavy "Never."
"You said you knew." He pulls himself closer, wincing. "That the baby was okay."
"Knew you'd keep us safe." She nods, strokes his hand, serene in her truth. She sighs, "Wanted to say -" she swallows, trying to finish a sentence she started a lifetime ago, throat dry, " - Babe, I love you. We're gonna have a baby." She grins, dopey, when he chuckles, when he doesn't swipe away the tears leaking from his eyes. An intense flood of relief gripping tight at his chest.
"Oh, Kate." At her smile he brings her hand to his lips, grateful, thankful kisses pressing into the skin at the I.V site. His voice shakes, but he forces the words out, "I love you, too." He glances down, "Two."
Her fingers smooth over her stomach, the next word no longer for him alone, and he couldn't be happier.