Unbetaed, and my editing skills suck very bad. Also, I've had a headache for three days and that might have affected my writing capabilities.

Also I wrote this just because I needed some Gates in Crossfire. Just because. Hope you enjoy this.

It hurt.

God, it hurt like the first time.

Kate tried to speak, but only a strained gurgle came out of her throat. There was blood in her lung, she could feel it.

She only hoped someone had heard the gunfire and had called the police.

She tried to fish out her iPhone from the pocket of her jeans, but even an easy movement like that caused the pain to ripple all over her body, sapping her of the residual energy she had as she bled on their kitchen floor.

"Castle…" she whispered, turning towards him. "Castle…"

His breathing was just as strained as hers, his eyes closed though, a small rivulet of blood trickled down the corner of his mouth.

Please… she prayed to every deity she had knowledge of. Please someone come and save him…

The door opened, someone walked in. Careful steps, those of a trained cop.

Then Victoria Gates appeared, gun in one hand, phone in the other. Her former captain quickly dropped beside them and assessed their wounds as she spoke with the emergency services.

"...yes, one gunshot wound to the chest and a multiple gunshot wound to chest and abdomen, we need two ambulances STAT…"

Never in her life Kate had imagined she'd be so relieved to hear Gates' commanding tone. The woman finally dropped the gun and went through the kitchen to find some clean rags to staunch the blood loss from their wounds.

"I won't even ask how this happened, Kate…" she murmured, her voice much more soothing than when she was speaking to the EMTs.


Gates shushed her, gently. "Don't talk. Don't make it worse." She then took Kate's hand and placed it on one of the rags to hold it in place. Kate watched as her superior checked Castle's vitals and saw a smile forming on her face. "He's stable, his heartbeat's strong as a horse. You got yourself a wall of a husband."

Relief flooded her straining body. He'll be fine. She thought. He's strong, he'll be fine.

The stench of blood was overwhelming at that point, it made her gag at some point. "Is he…"

"He'll be alright. He's just unconscious. Shock, you know…"

Time seemed to stand still at that point, it was a flurry of blurred movements above her eyes, unable to focus as the EMTs knelt beside them and stuck them with needles, took their vitals, pressed gauze over the wounds and hoisted them on those uncomfortable stretchers. To her obnubilate eyes and hears, they didn't look too worried.

Were they stable enough not to fret too much? Were they nearly sure they'd be DOA so they just didn't want to hurry? Was Castle going to make it?

She never got an answer for it. She only saw Gates' shadow hover above her head, right beside the lithe face of an unnamed female EMT holding her IV bag up as they loaded her on the ambulance.

"Everything will be fine," she whispered, running her fingers through her hair.

"Castle… go with Castle…" Kate begged her. "Go with him…"

"I will, I won't leave him alone. Spare your energy Kate, everything will be fine."

She saw her nod to the EMTs and the door closed with a loud bang. After that she lost it, and let the dark oblivion engulf her like a warm embrace.

The light disturbed her. Blinding, even through her shut eyelids. Like headlights pointed straight in her face. She felt light, almost weightless, like she could defy gravity and fly way. But something kept her anchored to the ground, something warm but coarse and really, really heavy. It was wrapped all around her body, held her still, as if she had been swaddled like a newborn.

Then she remembered.

They had caught Loksat. And they had let their guard down, allowing Brown to sneak in the loft and attempt to kill them.

Her eyes shot open, despite the fact that they felt like someone had thrown a handful of gravel in them. She overcame the pain in her head and looked around. The bright light was a white neon tube hanging right above her head, her anchor to reality was a thick blanket and a set of old, stiff hospital sheets.

"Calm down Captain, everything's alright."

On the left side of her bed, Victoria Gates sat on one of those awfully uncomfortable plastic chairs, Castle's latest book in her lap and thick-rimmed glasses framing her face. She was the personification of tranquillity, her suit spotless and her features perfectly schooled as she waited for Kate to wake up.

Silently, her former captain took off her glasses and pointed them at the opposite side of her bed. "Your husband came out of surgery a little bit before you. According to the surgeon, the bullet didn't do much damage, only nicked a minor blood vessel. Painful as it may have been, it wasn't a deadly wound. He was never in real danger. He's sleeping the anesthesia off, and I was told he was pretty high on the painkillers when they extubated him."

Kate took a ragged breath, stifled by the pain coursing through her chest and upper abdomen, and she sighed in release, tears welling in her eyes. He's alive… he'll be fine. She thought. He's fine…

"On the other hand, Kate, you have a little bit more to work on than him. You got a bullet to the lower lobe of your right lung and one that missed your liver by an inch. You were extremely lucky this time."

"Don't I know it…" she whispered.

Gates took a plastic cup from the bedside table and poured ìsome water, before holding it close to her lips. "You know the drill, small sips."

Hell, she knew it. All too well.

"Martha and…"

"On the other side of the street. I sent them away to grab a real dinner after the meager lunch they had, while waiting for you to come out of surgery. Your father's with them, while Detective Esposito And Ryan have been promoted to your substitutes ad interim while you recover."

Victoria Gates had the best way to explain things, when she wasn't angry with someone. She was quiet, concise, and direct. Never beat around the bush looking for softer words to make matters easier to digest. Despite the initial friction between them, Kate had come to love that side of her old captain, to the point she had been directly copying her style when dealing with people at the precinct.

"How long have I been out?"

Gates checked her watch. "You've been admitted at the ER a little later than eight in the morning and you weren't conscious, but you briefly woke up as they did the emergency care. Once you were stable enough to be moved, you went into surgery and that lasted around four hours. Now it's nearly eight in the evening. Roughly twelve hours, if we don't count the sparse, not exactly intelligible rant you let out as soon as they took you off the anesthetic. Apparently, you weren't pleased with the fact that they had to cut your favorite jacket to get to your wounds."

Kate smiled. "I get loopy when drugged."

"So I noticed. You also lamented that the last thing you thought you would see when you died were the Iron Gates. Apparently, you counted more to see a stairway to heaven, or rather the highway to hell."

Struggling not to get stuck between the IV tube and the chest drain, she hid her eyes behind her hand. "My God I'm so sorry I said that."

Gates shrugged. "As if I wasn't aware of that nickname. I bear it with pride, you know?"

"I would have never guessed."

"It paid tribute to my tenacity. I don't see anything bad about it. Now tell me… how do you feel, having dismantled one of the greatest threats to the nation?"

Kate could only be sincere at that point. "It hurts."

Gates smiled. "I bet it does. Rest now, Captain. You two have a long road ahead, better sleep now while you can."

Kate squinted against the light when a car passed outside their room and its lights filtered through the blinds. "What do you mean?"

"Mr. Castle there, he sleeptalks. Were you aware of that?" Kate nodded. "Seems like he plans to take you to the Hamptons and he won't leave until you're expecting."

At that, despite the bright smile on her former captain's face, Kate wished she could self combust in a roaring flame of shame. "I'm so sorry Sir…"

"No need. And if I were you, I'd go on with his plan as soon as you can. It doesn't look half bad."

The next time Kate woke, was a lot later. It was morning, by the lack of artificial light and the bright sun coming through the open window. There was something warm wrapped around her hand, and looking down, though still drowsy, she saw Castle's fingers entwined with hers. But it didn't hurt this time, there was no fear they'd die. Kate dared to look up at him and saw him smile, as he spoke with Gates, oblivious to the fact she had woken up.

She closed her eyes again and let out a content sigh. After all wounds healed, scars faded, bad memories could turn into happy ones if you worked on them. And his plan didn't look half bad in that regards.

Despite the odds, they were alive. Both of them.

All was well, in the end.

For Costanza and Elisa. Bestemmiare contro l'ABC non sarebbe così divertente senza di voi.