“Roy Montgomery…taught me what it meant to be a cop.” Her first words are halting, unsure. There is a crisp white sheet of paper in front of her, but she is determined she will not look down. Just as she is determined she will not cry, not here, not now, in front of all these people.
“He taught me that we are bound by our choices.” There is all too much truth in that sentence. Captain Montgomery, more than anyone she ever knew, was bound by his choices. Choices the world must never know about. Choices that would no longer allow him to have died a hero’s death.
“But we are more than our mistakes.” He was. He was more than his mistakes, even…even the ones that had cost her mother her life.
Oh God. How can she do this? How can she stand at this podium, looking out at all these grieving faces and mourn with them a man partially responsible for her mom’s death?
No matter how much she had respected and liked him, she still has trouble forgiving him. Maybe she never will.
But as she looks out at the collection of people draped in black who are assembled here, she knows it doesn’t matter. This is about celebrating a life. And his life deserves celebrating.
“Captain Montgomery once said to me that for us there is no victory,” she continues. “There are only battles. And in the end the best you can hope for is to find a place to make your stand.” Another pause. Time to collect her thoughts, prepare herself to let loose her next words.
“And if you’re very lucky, you find someone willing to stand with you.” As Kate looks out at the audience, she knows they will take her words as a reference to all of Montgomery’s friends at the NYPD. And they are. But it also has a more personal note to it, and she hopes he knows that. With the specter of death looming over her, she hopes he understands what she cannot yet say.
Castle appears pained.
“Our Captain would want us to carry on the fight. And even if there is…” She has to stop here, swallow, before she can go on. “Even if there is one—”
A shot rings out, and for a moment, she stands there, confused. She’s trying to make sense of the noise, the shrieks, the sudden pain in her chest. She is knocked down by someone, and only when she realizes Castle has landed on top of her does she know what happened.
The cries of panic seem to fade away until there is only them, no screaming, no sirens. They seem to fill the empty space in her chest where her life blood is draining out. As she looks up into his blue eyes, all her regrets about him, about them, well up inside her.
“Kate, shh,” he says. “Kate, stay with me, Kate.” The pain and fear in his eyes is so immense it nearly blocks out her own. “Don’t leave me, please.” She’s shivering now, moving uncontrollably but his hands pin hers to the earth, keeping her immobile, keeping her grounded. She tries to concentrate on his voice, but all she can hear is a roar in her ears and the screaming wound in her chest. “Stay with me, okay?” She wants to, she wants to so much, but she can already feel herself slipping away. Desperately she stares up into his eyes, trying to hold on, trying to tell him all the things she should have said years ago. But her mouth refuses to open, and her tongue refuses to move. All she can do is listen. Listen, and try to hold on. But it’s futile. And she knows it.
you.” Even these words of his, as much as they mean to her, cannot pull her
back into his world. “I love you, Kate.” All she can think is that she’ll never
be able to tell him the same. A tear slips down her cheek. She hopes it will
tell him what she cannot say.
Then the last of her strength drains out of her limbs and her head relaxes back onto the grass. Castle looks stricken. Her eyes close.
She’s vaguely aware of the people lifting her up onto a gurney. She’s vaguely aware of the sirens in the background, of Castle yelling after her, “Kate! Kate!” At first she doesn’t know why he’s yelling, and then she does. He is not with her anymore.
“Don’t die on me now,” another voice swims into her mind, but the pain is unbearable. It’s too much, too much to even register this other voice, however familiar it is. Someone is pressing firmly on her chest, but this only brings a wave of pure agony. She finally surrenders to the pain, riding on its waves and waiting to be washed up in the land of oblivion.
Richard Castle can’t speak. Can’t think. All he can do is drive. He maneuvers his car through the tightest of spaces between cars, spaces that didn’t even exist a second before. The car screeches to a halt just before the line at a stoplight, the first in a string of many. The next he resolves to just blow through. They are all barriers from reaching her. Kate.
Please don’t let her die, he thinks, but all his pleading thoughts cannot stop it from happening. He wishes he was in the ambulance with her, wishes that, if it comes to that, he can hold her hand as she passes. Kiss her cheek. Whisper one last time that he loves her.
Had she heard him, at the cemetery? He hopes so. But even more, he hopes she’ll make it. Because he doesn’t know how he’ll live without her if she doesn’t. It would mean the end of Nikki Heat, definitely. No matter that he had enough research to write a dozen books, with Beckett gone it would be unbearable to even consider.
He floors the gas pedal, swerving through traffic in his race to arrive before it’s too late. For a moment he thinks he’s beaten the ambulance there, but quickly spots the commotion in the hallway and sprints inside after them, jogging to keep up with the gurney.
Seeing her lying there so still...he almost stops breathing. Lanie is riding the gurney with the paramedics pushing it along. Her gloved hands are soaked in blood. So much blood.
“Kate!” he calls out, pushing past nurses and patients alike. Lanie doesn’t even glance up at him from her work.
Please let her be okay… He’s promising everything, everything he has to whatever deity is listening, if only she survives. He’ll attend every book signing Gina schedules him for without complaining. He’ll donate all the profits of his mostly-finished Heat Rises. He’ll never make snarky jokes at anyone ever again, if only she will be okay.
He hates this feeling of helplessness. He wants to do something. Anything to help the love of his life lying on the gurney. She’s so pale…God, she’s so pale. He wants to climb on the gurney, caress her face and tell her everything will be okay, but he can’t even do that.
“C’mon, Kate. You do not die on me!” The fear is all too evident in Lanie’s voice and it only makes Castle’s heart beat faster. “Stay with me! Stay with me!”
A doctor pushes past Castle and catches up with the gurney, running alongside it. “Single GSW to the chest, initially unresponsive, lost vitals right in front of us,” the EMT lists off. Hearing the words, even in doctor speak, is a blow to Castle. Please let her be okay…
“Stay with me! Do not die! C’mon, girl!” Lanie presses down on the wound with even greater fervor, a wild light in her deep brown eyes.
Castle’s winded now, he’s been running at full speed to keep up in his heavy funeral clothes, but he doesn’t relent. He’ll follow all the way to surgery if they’ll let him, and maybe even if they don’t. She won’t die, she can’t die…
“Set up for a chest tube, trauma one!” the doctor shouts to someone Castle can’t see. “Switch, we’ve got this!” he instructs Lanie. Though it’s irrational, Castle doesn’t want her to let go. He trusts the ME to hold her in this world more than the doctor. Lanie loves Kate almost as much as he does.
“This is my friend, you understand me? She’s my friend!” Lanie belts out. She does not release her grip on Beckett.
The doctor grabs on. “Then let us save her life.” Lanie looks down at Beckett, so immobile she must be unconscious. He wants her to be unconscious. He doesn’t want her to have to go through this, experience this hellish nightmare.
“Don’t let go,” he whispers as Lanie steps down, whether to Lanie or Kate he doesn’t know. He catches up to Lanie, standing close to her as Beckett is wheeled away. She looks so fragile. His instinct is to run after her, protect her, but he knows he’d only be in the way. It’s up to the doctors now.
Lanie sniffles and pulls off her gloves. Castle puts an arm around her and she leans against his chest. Neither of them can hold back tears as Kate disappears around the corner.
Bright lights. Bright lights behind her eyelids. Shouts of alarm. “Kate!” Castle? Or a figment of her imagination? A machine beeps incessantly and her mind is too muddled to think about what it means. Pain explodes again as her body is shunted to the side and prodded. She’s only aware of flashes now, snippets of conversation.
“We have a rhythm. Let’s check for breathing.”
“BP is 86 over 60.”
“C’mon. Stay with me. Stay with me, Kate, I got you.” Castle? She wants to reach out to him, but she can’t. She’s trapped, trapped inside her own mind. Everything is a jumble, tinged with red and pain.
“Okay, we can’t wait. Set up her intubation.”
“There’s too much blood.”
“Blood pressure’s still dropping.” The words are coming faster now, clipped fragments of a conversation she is not part of.
“Thirty-one year-old—pulmonary vein—let me sew her up.” She’s frantic now. Something’s wrong, everything’s wrong, things should be getting clearer, not fuzzier. Then she realizes. She’s dying.
“—dropping critical—distended—Scissors!” The sounds are getting further away now and her mind feels sluggish. Castle, she thinks, but the idea she’ll never see him again is almost too much to bear. I love you, Castle. If only she had said it before all this.
A final breath, more of a sigh, really, escapes her body as she is engulfed in white light. She’s floating away on a cloud.