Summary: Spoilers for Knockout and possibly for season 4 as well. "The best you can hope for is to find a place to make your stand. And if you're very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you." As Kate is fighting for her life after being shot, she comes to realize the importance of Montgomery's words, both on the job and in life.

Author's Note: As promised, here is the first chapter of my post-Knockout fic. I know everyone has been writing these, and I know I'm a little late in getting started, so I hope you all aren't sick of reading them already. This picks up where the episode left off and will follow Kate's recovery (and Castle's role in it). Also, I have read the spoilers for season 4 and some of what happens in this will be based off of those, so be forewarned….although I highly doubt that anything I write will actually occur on the show. Oh well, I can hope, right? And now….enjoy!

Disclaimer: Sadly, I do not own Castle or anything related to it. If I did, this is how season 4 would begin.

Together We Stand

Prologue

The scene was complete and utter chaos. People were screaming and crying, a handful of cops raced off in the direction of the shot, and Ryan jumped into action and called 911. When no more shots were fired, Lanie wriggled out from beneath Esposito's protective grasp and rushed over to Kate, her heart breaking at the sight of Castle's tears as he hovered over the detective.

Lanie fought back her own tears as she knelt down and applied pressure to the wound, knowing that a shot to the chest did not usually end well. "Castle, check her pulse," she commanded, attempting to maintain her composure long enough to apply her medical knowledge and save her friend.

Castle's fingers were trembling and it was a moment before he managed to find the right spot, but once he did, he was relieved to feel the blood still flowing through her veins. "It's faint," he choked out. "But it's there."

"Is she breathing?"

Castle leaned over her mouth, feeling her breath on his cheek. "Yes."

"Make sure it stays that way," Lanie said.

Castle nodded as he leaned over Kate again, resting his forehead on hers, one hand still on her pulse point. "Come on, Kate," he begged, "you can't leave me, I need you." His voice broke. "Please."

Ryan came running up then, breathless, and Lanie could tell it was all he could do not to cringe at the sight in front of him. "Medics are on the way."

"How soon?" Lanie asked.

"Three minutes," he replied. "She's breathing?" Lanie nodded. "Alright, keep pressure on it, I need to go find Esposito."

As it turned out, Esposito had been among the group of officers who ran after the shooter, but to no avail. The man was long gone by the time anyone had a chance to get to him, and to be honest, he had shot from so far away that no one had a clue where he had actually been standing. Well, no one except maybe Castle, who was currently far too mentally indisposed to be of much use in this situation.

"Please," Castle begged again as he registered Kate's pulse becoming weaker, "don't leave me, Kate. You can't leave me."

After what seemed like hours, the wailing of sirens approached them and a flood of people poured out of the ambulance as it pulled up. "Back up please, out of the way," one of them yelled.

Esposito and Ryan had to pry Castle's hands off of Kate and physically drag him away from her. He fought it the whole time in a scene eerily reminiscent of the way he had carried Kate from the hangar just a few days ago.

"Castle, come on, man, you gotta stop," Esposito said harshly as he and Ryan fought to restrain him.

"No I need to….Kate…." he choked, fighting to free his arms.

"I know," Ryan said. "But right now there's nothing you can do."

"I…."

"Let the medics do their work, Castle. Let them give her a chance."

"Dad!" Alexis's voice suddenly rang out and Castle whirled around in surprise. With everything that had happened, he had completely forgotten about all of the other people around, even his own family. She rushed into his arms and only once they were sure that he was going to stay with Alexis did Ryan and Esposito let go of him. "Is she okay?" the girl asked, clinging tightly to her father.

"She will be," Castle managed, although he was saying more for himself than for anyone else. The truth of the matter was that she had to be okay. Because if she was not….Castle did not even want to think about that. There was no world without Kate Beckett in it.

Alexis almost seemed to follow his train of thought and held him closer as his mother came up and joined them, wrapping her arms around them both. "Richard," she spoke softly.

A sob escaped him and he collapsed to the ground, his mother and daughter sitting down with him, engulfing him in their arms and watching his heart break. Alexis's eyes filled with tears too as she watched her father fall apart in her arms. She had seen him cry once before but it was nothing like this.

"Richard," his mother said again. "It's okay. She'll be okay."

"You don't know that," he sobbed, bringing his hands up to wipe at his tears. He stopped, though, when he saw Kate's blood, still coating his fingers and palms. "You don't...there was so much blood."

"The paramedics are with her," Martha said, grasping his hands and pulling them out of his line of sight. "They're putting her in the ambulance right now."

"What?" Castle's head snapped up just as the ambulance doors shut. "Kate!" He leapt out of the grasp of his family and lunged for the ambulance as it took off out of the cemetery, sirens wailing. Ryan and Esposito were on him again, grabbing his shoulders and fighting to still him as he attempted to run down the ambulance.

"Castle, bro, you gotta calm down," Esposito said firmly.

"Kate…." He called again.

"Let's go, we'll take you to the hospital," Ryan said, grabbing him firmly by the wrist.

The cops remaining at the scene were attempting to maintain order, calming the panicked crowd and attempting to gather any relevant information about the identity or location of the sniper. Lanie had jumped into the ambulance and Jim, Martha, and Alexis were all piling into Castle's car to head for the hospital. Castle, however, saw none of it as Ryan and Esposito dragged him to their car and shoved him in the back seat. There was only one thought on his mind right now, and that was that he had to get to Kate as fast as possible. He had to make sure that she was still alive.


This chapter is short, I know, but it's just a prologue. The others will be much longer, I promise. Lots of Caskett fluff (and some angst) to come! Thoughts?