"11-99! Repeat 11-99! Officer down at Long Island National Cemetery! We need an ambulance out here yesterday! Dispatch, do you copy?"
"Secure that perimeter! You two – get some vests on and check over by those trees! Move!"
"Katie! Oh, my God, Katie!"
"Alexis, stay here! Your father's fine, but…oh no…"
"Lanie, I said stay down. Castle's with her! Ryan, get me a vest dammit so I can go after these sons-abitches!"
Richard Castle was oblivious to the melee swirling around him, heard none of the screaming of civilians or the barking of orders of the police who had joined his friends in remembering Captain Roy Montgomery. Instead, of entering his ear canal and being relayed to his brain for instantaneous identification, the noises bounced off him like pebbles off a brick wall. He was focused on the limp and unresponsive body over which he was crouched.
"Kate, please," he wimpered, "Don't leave me. I can't lose you. Your dad can't lose you." Tears began leaking out of his eyes and blurring his vision. All his verbal inducements weren't working. She was slipping away from him and he knew he had to act fast. "Is there a doctor here?" He demanded, suddenly remembering that there was a doctor present. But she worked with the dead. So what, he thought frantically. They all had no choice. Kate Beckett had no choice. "Lanie!"
The medical examiners' boyfriend, Detective Javier Esposito, poked his head up over the line of the backs of the chairs in which the mourners had all been sitting not five minutes ago, and did a quick survey of the cemetery. His fellow officers had fanned out in all directions, some strapping on bulletproof vests as they ran, others were filling the chambers of their service pieces. When all appeared to be safe, he finally released Lanie to race over to where Castle leaned over Beckett's unmoving body.
Her first horrifying impression was how similar her countenance was to the customers she found everyday on her table at the morgue. Her eyes were shut, her jaw hung slack, and there was not so much of a twitch of a muscle when her name was called. I haven't worked on the living in years, she thought, and now I have to find a way to save my best girl? And if I screw up I could kill her. Esposito returned to her side, now wearing his own bullet proof vest and shouting into a walkie-talkie.
"Dispatch, what's the ETA on that damn ambulance for our 11-99!" Lanie and Castle heard the dispatcher's answer and knew Lanie had to do something. Castle's heart simultaneously sank then jumped into his throat. Blood could still be seen leaking through Beckett's dress coat, meaning her heart was still pumping, but for how much longer was anyone's guess. Lanie felt for a pulse and found one, albeit a faint one.
"She's got a pulse," she informed Castle and Esposito. "I need something to staunch the bleeding. Honey, feel around her back to see if there's an exit wound," she ordered. Castle began to relax a bit as Lanie seemed to enter mission mode, detaching herself and her emotions from the situation. Castle stripped off his blazer and handed it Lanie while Esposito gently worked a hand under Beckett's back and felt around for a hole in her coat or for more blood from where the bullet had passed through her body and continued onto an as yet unknown location. Lanie balled up Castle's jacket and pressed it to Beckett's chest, holding it there.
"I found something," Esposito said. "Yeah, there's a hole in her coat here, seems to be around her right shoulder blade."
All eyes focused back on Lanie, as she began mentally sorting through all the various arteries, blood vessels, tissue and other body parts that the bullet could have damaged. But she knew she couldn't do much outside of a lab.
"There's no way I can tell out here what's going on with her. She needs to get to a hospital, especially if the bullet nicked one of the major arteries running her heart. If it'd hit her heart directly, she'd already be dead. There's still a chance." One corner of her mouth lifted in a little optimistic grin, but all of them knew time was running out.
After what seemed like an eternity, they heard the wail of an ambulance's sirens and the footfalls of paramedics hurrying over to their position. Not far behind them was Jim Beckett, Kate's father, and Esposito's partner, Detective Kevin Ryan, who had obviously lost the battle to restrain Jim. The paramedics went to work right away, shoving Castle, Lanie, and Esposito unceremoniously out of the way. Then a second team of emergency personnel arrived and, finding no other injured subjects, began assisting the first group. Jim begged for his Katie to answer him and for the paramedics to save her, and was finally pulled back by a tall, athletic African American woman with a calming voice who one of her colleagues had referred to as Raquel. Ryan took charge of him, putting a hand on his shoulder and whispering what he hoped were reassuring words. Castle was transfixed on the group whose efforts and equipment were so focused, that they obscured his view of his partner, the woman for whom he feared he had waited too long to profess his love. His daughter Alexis crept up behind him, eyes wide with panic, and wrapped her left arm around his waist while intertwining the fingers of her right hand with those of his left. His mother, Martha, joined them too, and seeing Lanie's imminent loss of composure, tried to comfort her with an arm around her shoulders.
No one spoke. No one moved. Chests rose and fell in heaving breaths driven by adrenalin. Tears tracked paths down faces. Nostrils flared in anger. Eyes stared. Hearts beat. The cemetery suddenly became very quiet. All Castle could hear was his own heart beat in time with that of those around him. The sound seemed deafening and he hoped the combined echo would be enough to rouse Beckett. But as a gurney was pulled alongside where his beautiful detective lay helpless and the emergency workers lifted her body, her hand fell aside and flopped back and forth as she was pushed over the grass to the waiting ambulance. Suddenly this woman, whose strength, purpose and courage he so greatly admired, seemed to resemble nothing more than a rag doll. He continued watching as Jim finally caught up with his daughter and managed briefly to hold his daughter's hand before she was pushed into the ambulance. Two paramedics climbed in after her and he could see Jim gesticulate to them that he wanted to come along. They reluctantly shook their heads and closed the rear doors. Ryan pointed Jim in the direction of his squad car and they hurried off. He then waved Esposito, Lanie, Castle, Martha and Alexis in their direction. Esposito took Lanie's hand and followed. Martha and Alexis tried to do the same with Castle, but he didn't move.
His feet felt like they were stuck in cement. He never wanted to move again, he decided. He would spend the rest of his days out here among the dead, nearby where the noble Captain Montgomery and countless other brave veterans and first responders slept for eternity, near the spot where he had last exchanged looks with the extraordinary Kate Beckett. Alexis and Martha implored him to come with them, knowing that there was nowhere else in the world he would rather be than at the hospital with Kate and his friends. But he wouldn't budge. His eyes had a faraway glassy look and when he finally spoke, his voice was barely audible.
"It should have been me," he muttered.