She’s intimately familiar with how a bullet feels when it pierces through skin and bone. Maybe it’s muscle memory, maybe its the actual pain, or maybe its both, but Kate’s knees buckle with it.
The blood is already coming, hot and fast against her arm and torso, staining the black turtleneck with a shiny coating that makes her want to throw up.
Or maybe that’s the pain. She can’t tell, she can’t even think. She’s momentarily paralyzed by it all, whimpering on the floor.
The sound of cracking glass snaps her out of it, the need to react, to do her job drowning out the hazy memories of a spring afternoon and confessions of love, of her blood dripping onto bright green grass, of Castle’s blue eyes filling with tears.
Kate doesn’t haul herself up, but she uses her good arm to unholster her gun, gritting her teeth against a moan of pain when she rolls her useless body into the shelter of an alcove. “Vaughn, are you hurt?” she can hear herself, how the syllables stutter around her mouth, the vowels tight with pain. She’s light-headed, dizzy from blood loss and her body contracting itself against the shocks of pain that lace up her side like fire.
"No, are you — Detective Beckett, you’re bleeding…" his accent sounds funny, as if it coming at her from a long tunnel, distorted and higher than usual. She thinks that maybe that unflappable exterior has taken some ruffling after two sniper shots. That can’t be a bad thing because, even if part of her enjoyed the attention and the compliments, a large part of her thinks that Erik Vaughn could serve to be taught a lesson.
Not with a sniper - she’d never wish that on anyone - but humility wouldn’t be a bad thing.
"That’s what happens when you get shot," she mutters, her grip on the gun handle going slack as her vision begins to blur with little dots of gray. This is also something she knows, something that claws at her insides and makes Kate a little desperate.
The last time she felt like this, it had been the end. Two years later, she still isn’t ready to meet it. She’s got so much going for her, so much to live for.
"Call 911…." Kate slurs it out, her own fingers fumbling at her pocket for her phone. She can hear Vaughn talking, the outline of his head just visible from where his is using the sofa as a shield, and it relaxes her, buys her time to key in her passcode and touch the number at the top of her recent call list.
"Hey, Castle…….I love you," it comes out like she’s drugged, the words disjointed and thick in her throat. His voice is far away, a tiny little sound that is full of fear, but he’s right in front of her. But its wrong, he’s not as broad, the fingers are different, the smell wrong, but he’s in front of her, he’s going to be with her at the end.
Just like she wanted.