Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended with this posting. All characters belong to the creators of Castle and ABC studios.

A/n thank you all for reading.

He missed it. The twist in the story, the ultimate twist that explained everything. He saw it too late to react to the shot and the bullet that tore through his chest and slammed him to the floor. He couldn't move, couldn't turn his head when another shot rang out, and then another. Finally, he found the strength to look to his left and see her, his soulmate, the love of his life, crab along the kitchen floor with crimson, awful blood soaking her shirt. Oh God! He thought he shouted it, but it was only in his head. Her hand found his and held tight. His eyes dropped closed. He wanted to push them open, but a weakness he'd never experienced forced blackness over his sight.

"I love you," he whispered, hoping she'd hear, but her grip slackened in his grasp. "No," he said hoarsely. "Don't die on me, Beckett." He forced his eyes opened with the help of the adrenaline that slammed through his blood. "Our story isn't over; you hear me."

She didn't respond, and tears began tracking down his face. He twisted and turned to his left side. Kate lay with her eyes closed and her chest barely moving. The pool of blood around her ran into his shoulder and arm. The copper stench of it made him gag. Too much, it was too much, and he had to do something.

"Stay with me, Kate. Stay with me! Our story doesn't end this way, damn it." He croaked.

THINK!

He looked across the room to his jacket. His phone was in the pocket. If he could get to the table and reached his phone. His right arm was useless, and breathing was becoming more and more difficult. He pulled himself along with his left hand and arm. He didn't feel the pain, but even the adrenaline couldn't fix his labored breathing.

"Listen to me, Kate." He gasped as his heart thumped like a jackhammer in his chest. "Stay with me. You're Captain Kate Beckett, and I'm Richard Castle, writer, husband and ruggedly handsome dad. We will not die! Do you hear me, Kate? We will not die, not like this!"

He tried to ignore the weakness in his body and the grayness that persisted in trying to blind him. One more inch he repeated while part of him screamed to return to Beckett, to try and stem the flow of blood. "Can't do both," he said. "You'll have to hang in there, Kate. Please! I need you. Don't die!"

He had to stop. He couldn't pull himself another inch. You have to! No one knows you're in trouble. If you give up, and Kate dies, your life is over.

He forced his exhausted body forward another inch and then another as salty sweat rolled down his face and joined the tears stinging his eyes. More gray darted at the edges of his vision and the pressure in his chest increased with every breath.

Can't give up, Richard. Get moving!

"Kate, talk to me," he said again, but it was a whisper.

He yanked himself forward, and his hand brushed the jacket he'd hung over the arm of his sofa. The jacket fell to the floor, and a fresh rush of adrenaline washed the gray out of his vision. He fumbled the phone from a pocket, and it fell from his sweat slickened hands. "No!" He reached for it again and with the last of his strength, smashed his finger against the home button. He dialed three number, then let the phone slip from his hand.

"911, emergency," he heard as if it were far away.

"Help us," he panted.

"Sir?"

"My name is Richard Castle," he gasped out as everything began to go dark and cold settled into his limbs. "We've been shot. Then, for no reason he could think, he heard himself say as if from far away. "Officer down."

CMCMCMCMCMCMCMCM

"Dad, you need to stay in bed."

"Alexis is right," his mother scolded. "You were shot, Richard. I don't know what I'd do if you'd died."

She hugged him tight enough to send pain slamming through his chest. "Mother!"

"Oh, I'm sorry, my dear."

He squeezed Alexis's hand. "I know you're worried about me, but the doctor said I can walk, and I want to see Kate."

"Now, Richard, I promise you'll see her, but first, you need to finish your breakfast."

He looked down at the tray of food that was slowly getting cold and grimaced. "I'm not hungry."

"You've been here for a week, Dad. You need your strength."

"I can't eat when Beckett's in intensive care."

Martha brushed back his hair. "She'd be dead if not for you, Richard. I'm so proud of you."

"Thank you, mother."

There was a commotion at the door of his room. Martha and Alexis looked at each other and grinned.

"What?"

"Looks like your new roommate is here."

"I don't want a roommate, mother."

"Oh come on, Richard. You pay for a huge, luxurious room that looks like a hotel suite, and you want it all for yourself? Share the wealth, darling."

He couldn't see the face of the person in the bed, and frankly, he didn't want to see him or her. He wanted to see Kate and know for himself, that she was alright.

"Mother, I want to see Kate."

Alexis tapped his good shoulder. "Look over here, Dad. Someone wants to say hello."

The orderlies and the male nurse had just finished making his new roommate comfortable. The person in the bed turned her head and – his heart climbed into his throat and tears gathered in his eyes. "Beckett?"

She had white sheets and a blue blanket up to her shoulders, IVs in both arms and pillows propping her head off the bed. Her hair was mussed and needed a wash and brush, but her face was the most beautiful thing he'd seen in days.

"Hey, Castle," she whispered and reached out her arm.

He didn't feel his feet touch the floor, nor did he see his mother and daughter leave the room. All he could see was her beautiful brown eyes and feel his heart thump the way it always did when she looked at him. It was over. They made it, and nothing would ever keep her away from him again.

"They didn't tell me –"

"I'm sorry, Rick. I wanted it to be a surprise. The doctor said it's gonna take awhile, but I'll be okay."

Then, the most surprising thing of all happened. She began to cry. He could count on his hands the number of times he'd seen her cry. He hugged her awkwardly because neither of them was one hundred percent. "Don't cry, Kate."

"You saved my life, Rick. Again!"

"Hey," he gulped over his tears. "I had to," he squeezed the hand that wore her wedding ring. "You are my life, Kate. Always."

"Castle?"

"Hm…"

"I'm done."

"What?"

He found her eyes watching him with steady determination. "I can't do this anymore. Chasing after men who want to kill me or take you away from me. I'm tired of being broken. I want my life back. I don't want to lose you again."

"What are you saying?"

She pulled in a deep breath. "I've been thinking. Remember a few weeks ago when you surprised me with my bike?"

"Yeah."

"I want to do what we said. I want to get on that bike and ride away into the sunset and beyond, with you. I want to live, have your baby, and then figure out what to do with the rest of my life."

"Kate, are you sure?"

"Yes. I thought making captain would make me happy, but I was wrong. It's time to let someone else catch the bad guys."

He ran his hand through her hair and kissed her gently on the mouth. "I meant it when I said I'd support you no matter what you decide to do."

"That's just it; I don't know what I'll do after we have our world motorcycle tour," she said.

"I know you'll figure it out. We'll figure it out." He corrected.

"What about Nikki Heat?" She asked after they lapsed into comfortable silence.

He grinned at the teasing light in her eyes. "I have enough material to last me for awhile."

"Promise me you won't kill her off if you ever get bored."

He laughed, and even though it hurt his chest he felt the weight of the world lift off his shoulders. "I promise I won't kill her."

"Maybe she and Jameson Rook could ride off into the sunset."

"Isn't that a little cliché?"

She rolled her eyes. "You were fine with it when I suggested it for us."

"True, but we're not fictional characters, and our story isn't ending." He reminded her.

"No, it's just beginning!"