Rick Castle slowly made his way into the loft after another fruitless day searching for the sniper that almost got to Kate Beckett. He had been spending almost every waking minute at the precinct in the last week, poring over any scrap of evidence of a possible lead, while casting hopeful glances at his mobile. She said she would call, so she would call when she was ready to see him again- right?

Ryan and Esposito were just as doggedly chasing this case, but they knew that Castle was too close, so they sent him home with strict instructions not to come back until he had had a decent night's sleep. Like that was going to happen. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw her face, and the green grass around her head, and the red blood flowing out of her body.

He walked slowly into his office and dropped into his office chair, still lost in his own morbid thoughts. He didn't move again until his Mother's voice broke the silence ten minutes later.

"Oh, kiddo." Martha Rogers was all about the dramatic, but right then she was just a mother, looking at her broken son. She knew there was only one reason her son was this dejected, but she had to be sure.

"Has she called you yet?" Martha asked, already watching his head and shoulders droop further.

"No, but it's only been a week" her son started, but then she interrupted.

"Yes, but she said a few days, didn't she? Surely it's been longer than that? Does she realize what the wait is doing to you?"

"Yes mother, I am sure it's top of her mind how I am feeling right now, with having been shot at her Captain's funeral a week ago!" Martha winced slightly, but pushed on. She knew that anger would bring her son out of this funk as well or better than any other emotion.

"I am not the only one who can see that you two function better together. And with the way I know you feel about that girl, I cannot understand how you have even stayed away from her for this long."

"It's not that simple, Mother, you know that. She asked for time, and besides she has a boyfriend. I have no claim to her other than at the precinct, and she is not there right now. I thought we were friends, but…"

"No buts, Richard, you told that girl you loved her, and then at the first sign of trouble, you abandon her? What sort of love is that?"

"The kind that wants the best for her. And if that is going to be Josh, then I have to respect that." It hurt Castle to say that, more so that it was the second time he was stepping back. The first time, he had not known for sure that he was in love with Kate Beckett, but the situations were still very similar.

"I seem to recall a similar situation a year ago, where you walked away, with your second ex –wife no less. That was a mistake if I ever saw one. But you need to decide if you want to fight for this, or just give in again, because there are only so many chances we get given in life, kiddo."

"It's complicated" Castle started, but only halfheartedly. He had not really made a habit of discussing his relationships with his mother, partly because she knew no boundaries with her questions and comments, but right now he really didn't have anyone else to talk to, and despite everything else, he knew that she always had his best interest at heart.

"No, Richard, it's really not." Martha sensed it was time for some tough love. "You love Katherine, and it's a love stronger than I think you had for either of your ex-wives. This is almost what you were like after Kyra left, except of course she was on a plane to London, instead of in hospital recovering from a gunshot wound. You thought for a long time that Kyra was the one that got away, because you never got closure on that relationship. You need to get that closure. Tell the girl how you feel, when she is not dying and bleeding out on the grass, and if she does not return your feelings, then you can deal with that and move on. But you are just torturing yourself right now, and chasing after her shooter, when you are not a cop and have no authority, is putting you in danger. Do you want to end up where she is, or worse?" Now there were tears gathering in Martha's eyes, and she reached out her hands to her son, clutching his hands like she would never let go.

Castle looked at his mother's face, saw the tears on her cheeks and the fear in her eyes for her only son, and he made a decision.

"You are right, Mother, although don't get used to me saying that" he said with an attempt at his usual smirk, and Martha breathed an internal sigh of relief.

"I will go and see her tomorrow, maybe take her a Remy's strawberry shake, she must be missing those, and talk to her. I think it's time we stopped speaking in subtext."

"Excellent, but right now, you need to go to bed and get some rest, kiddo. Neither Alexis nor I have seen you during daylight hours, and your daughter is still fragile from the events at the funeral. After you have sorted things out with Katherine, you need to spend some time with Alexis." With that, she stood up and made her way out of his office and up the stairs.

"Goodnight Mother. And, thank you." Castle called then stood and made his own way to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a big day, and he could only hope that it would end in his favor.