He saw the glint of the reflection, looked at Kate, looked back, felt the panic hit and he jumped.

Castle had never reacted so quickly to anything, at least, not since Alexis had had fallen from the jungle gym when she was seven. Only his daughter had ever really instilled the gut reaction to protect in him, until he met Kate Beckett, and he found himself saving her life, found himself in danger. Found himself running into trouble and carrying her out of trouble.

And he didn't just jump, he dove, dove like an action hero, dove in front of a bullet.

He was still fixating on that after he had grabbed Beckett, after he had thrown her to the ground. After the pain had seared through his entire body with a scream.

Or maybe he actually screamed, all he was really sure of, before he blacked out, was that Kate was okay.


He must've seen something, but Beckett didn't know what, didn't see it herself, everything was suddenly blurred as Castle threw himself on top of her. She heard the shot, then felt the ground beneath her, wind knocked out of her, Castle on top of her.

And then- Nothing. She expected him to move, roll off her and onto the grass beside her, or to at least lift his head up to look at her, but he did neither.

She pushed him off, rolling him onto his back, and then she felt the blood seep from his wound onto her hands.

"Castle," she cried. "Castle!"

She had to force herself through the shock and fear, onto her knees, pressing one hand down on the exit wound. He looked up at her, eyes hazy and flickering shut, a strange smile on his face.

"Come on Castle, stay with me, okay, stay with me," she said, "Lanie, I need you!" She cried, glancing around, seeing the rest of the funeral still ducked down. "Now!"

The medical examiner wrestled out of Esposito's hold and ran over to them, dropping to the grass beside Castle and pulling off her black jacket.

"Help me," she said, moving to lift up Castle carefully, and with Beckett's help she shoved her jacket beneath his wound.

"Come on Castle," Beckett whispered, "please."

His eyes closed and she pressed down a little harder on the exit wound, hoping the pain might bring him around again, but he didn't and then she was being pulled away by an EMT and she could hear Alexis screaming now, and Martha crying, and she wanted to scream too, and cry, but she held it back, held herself back as the EMT's worked and then bundled the man into an ambulance.


Kate had a bruise spreading across her chest, a bump on the back of her head and her shoulder felt like it had been twisted. But she was alive, completely alive, it just happened that Castle was heavier than her and had thrown himself on her.

She'd argued her way out of bed, almost resorting to wrestling with a nurse to get out of bed out of the room, and to Castle's side. Arm in a loose sling, full of painkillers and tears, once she was in a chair in his room, she couldn't be moved. Nor could Alexis and Martha, and the three women sat in silence in the room as the man they cared about lay in a coma.

Beckett couldn't say a word to either of them, not that conversation was flowing around the room, but she could barely look at them, the guilt was too much. Castle, Castle was her hero, lying in a coma, having taken a bullet for her. Technically it wasn't the first time he'd saved her life, or the first time she'd seen him get hurt, but this was so much different. So much like she was about to lose him forever, and she was on the verge of tears from the moment she had entered his room. Even freezing to death together in the storage container wasn't like this, didn't hurt like this.

He looked pale but peaceful, and she slumped back in her chair, not taking her eyes off him. Martha and Alexis were on the other side of him, the older woman's arm wrapped around her granddaughter, their eyes not leaving him either. All three if them sat silently watching Castle breathe.

He was breathing though, steady and slow, and it was all the comfort she could get at the moment, the constant rise and fall of his chest was all that kept the tears back.

It wasn't much, but she'd had less, lost more.

Just once though.

She felt her phone vibrate silently in her pocket, but ignored it. Josh was working three floors above her, but she was only interested in one man right now. This man. She didn't want to talk to anyone but Castle.

Not that she knew what to say.


She'd fallen to sleep in the chair, and when she woke, she found she'd slumped down further into the seat, and someone had draped a blanket over her. It took her a few seconds to realise where she was, and why she was sleeping in a chair. When she did remember, when it all came back to her, in a flash of memory and with a flash of panic, she jumped in the chair, straightening up, eyes on Castle immediately. He was there there, still the same, still...still. She took a deep breath and looked around her.

Martha was asleep in her chair on the other side of the bed, black coat draped over her. On the little sofa on the other side of the room, Alexis was sleeping too, shoes kicked off, a blanket on the floor next to her. Beckett got up, moving carefully across the room, her body still bruising from Castle saving her life. If he wasn't in a coma, she would've been giving him hell for her injuries, but now she was just wishing it had been her that had taken the bullet.

She scooped the blanket up from the floor, and shook it out, laying it over Alexis, brushing some hair out of her face. Once she was satisfied the girl was okay, she went back to Castle's side. She stayed on her feet, standing and staring at him, feeling words trying to push their way through but getting stuck.

"Castle," she whispered.

She knew it was stupid, but she was still disappointed when he didn't immediately wake up when she said his name. And she knew it was stupid to try and shake him out of his coma. Maybe it was worth a try, she thought, but as soon as she put her hands on him she faltered and changed her mind. Instead, she ran her hand down his arm and took his hand. It was warm, he was warm, and along with the breathing, it comforted her a little.

"Please Castle, please wake up, don't die on me. Not now, not today, not ever," she rambled, "Please."

There was no response, not that she really expected one, she just hoped, it's all she really had right now.

"I need you," she told him, glancing over at Martha, then Alexis, to make sure both women were still asleep. "Rick, you were right about me, you're always right about me. I don't want to hide any more."

She wanted to climb on to the bed with him, rest his head on his chest, wrap her arm around him and hold him until he woke from his coma. Or until the end of time. Whichever came first. He was attached to drips and machines, wounded, fragile and she kept hold of his hand instead.

"I need you," she told him, "I need you, and I- I," she hesitated. "You know how I feel about you, you know, but I can't tell you if you don't wake up."

Breath in, breath out, steady beat of the heart monitor, warm hand in hers, but no response, and before she settled back into her chair she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.