Fairly new to the Castle fandom. Slightly AU in that there is no Hayley, just because I was never a fan of the character. Also, Alexis is more like the Alexis of earlier seasons, just because I personally found her more likable then, and she is NOT working at the P.I. agency. Also, since Lanie and Esposito agreed in season 7 that they didn't have a love like Beckett and Castle, or Ryan and Jenny, they're not going to be together in this story, but they each will have an important significant other, and one of them will certainly surprise you, but I hope you'll trust me enough to go along for that particular ride.

Post-8x22, a take I haven't seen done yet that I hope you'll enjoy. Constructive criticism is welcome.

"Sittin' up 'cause I can see

The ending to this mystery

It's not as scary as it seems

I swear that I can breathe it in

Deeper than the ocean

And as crazy as it seems

This is the world to me

"This could be just what I need

This changes everything

"...Can't sleep, there's too much on my mind

Just think, there's a safer place to find

I can't tell you what's to come

But I can tell you these things"

-"This Changes Everything," Chris Ryan

The Greek language has four separate and distinct words for love. Forgetting semantics, and distinguishing between the types of love, difficult as that often is for etymologists, let alone the average laymen, the Greeks describe the four types of love as follows:

Eros: love, mostly of the sexual passion; from the Greek 'erotas' meaning 'intimate love'; the kind of love expressed in various physical manifestations between a husband and wife.

Agape: used in ancient texts to denote the love of a parent for a child, and also the love of one spouse for another. Saint Thomas Aquinas further explained 'agape' as 'to will the good of another'; a truly loving parent wants good things for their child or children, and a truly loving child, even once that child is an adult her- or himself, wants good things for their parent or parents, and of course good spouses in a loving, committed relationship want only the best for one another.

Philia: affectionate regard, friendship, between equals; the kind of love one feels for those who are brothers and sisters not by blood or marriage, but by choice of the heart, by the bonds of friendship forged and tested in a crucible of intensity and danger such as the NYPD. The Bible says 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' In the best of cases, the laying down of one life for another is not required or demanded; but the prevention of the laying down of the life of a friend...a brother and sister of the heart...is no less an example of philia.

Storge: the least mentioned of the four types of love in the Greek language, perhaps because it encompasses components of eros, agape, and filia; from the Greek 'philostorgos,' which means 'be devoted.' Another definition is 'to cherish one's kindred.' In summary, storge is a committed love, whether between husband and wife, between friends, or between parents and children. The level of commitment is so deep, the desire to understand one another so earnest, the strength of the bond and the relationship so important, that these are the relationships that last a lifetime, and sometimes, for the truly blessed, beyond a lifetime...they last for always.

Eros, agape, philia, storge...four types of love.

This is the story of how these four types of love worked together in many persons and combinations on one fateful day to save the lives of Katherine Beckett and Richard Castle.

"You wanted to see me?" she asked, puzzled.

"Yes," he replied, looking up and meeting her gaze directly. "There's serious trouble with your loved ones down there. You should be there."

"Katie? Jim?" She was frantic now.

"It's Kate...and Rick."

"What kind of trouble? When?"

"Bad trouble, and now. Right now. She needs you. They need you."

She gave him a hard look. "I can go?" she asked, both surprised and hopeful. "I can really go?"

"Just this once," he said sternly. "And only for 24 hours."

"Just this once, and only for 24 hours," she repeated, both an oath to him and a reminder to herself.

"And hurry. There isn't a second to lose!"

In the blink of an eye, and a swirling of mist, Johanna Beckett disappeared from the heavenly realm, and found herself in a loft on Broome Street in New York City. She could only watch in horror as a man holding a gun shot her son-in-law Richard Castle in the chest and he fell heavily to the kitchen floor. Rick falling to the floor brought Katie out from their bedroom, her own gun drawn, an anguished cry of, "Castle!" on her lips as she and the armed man exchanged gunfire. When the armed intruder lay dead, Kate collapsed herself, bright red blood staining her white t-shirt.

Johanna watched, transfixed, as her daughter crawled across the room, and Rick scooted on his back to meet her. They collapsed next to each other, both bleeding from bullet wounds, breathing hard, Kate's weapon clattering to the ground as she and Rick found each other's hands and clung to one another as tightly as they could.

"Help is coming, Katie, Rick, just hold on. PLEASE, hold on," Johanna exhorted them, though they couldn't hear her. Then, in another swirl of mist, she disappeared from the loft.

"Hold on," Kate murmured. Where had those words come from? She thought she'd heard someone say them...someone who sounded a lot like her mother...oh, but she wasn't ready to die yet, and Kate most certainly wasn't ready for Castle to die yet either. "Hold on, Rick."

She felt him squeeze her hand weakly, but it took every ounce of strength he could muster. "Holding...on..." he panted. "Always."

"Always," she whispered back, squeezing his hand in return as hard as she could. Gingerly, she moved her other hand to the pants pocket where her phone was. She needed to call for help. Her fingers didn't want to work. She heard the phone ringing, but it sounded as if it was coming from a much further distance than her pants pocket. The ringing stopped, then almost immediately started again. Different ringtones, one Lanie's, the other Ryan's. Kate finally managed to fumble the phone from her pocket, only to drop it. It would take her some time to gather her strength to pick up the phone. She only hoped it hadn't landed too far away from where she lay, still clutching Castle's hand with her other hand.

In all the years to come, Kevin Ryan never would be able to explain the awful feeling he had that Beckett and Castle were in some kind of trouble, but he'd been a cop too long to ignore a gut feeling this strong and this persistent.

But where Lanie backed him up, Esposito clearly had his doubts, criticizing the two "nervous Nellies" and claiming they were chasing ghosts, that all the bad guys had been caught, the day had been won, and their captain and her husband were just taking some well-deserved, hard-earned time alone before the planned group meeting at The Old Haunt.

That was until Javier saw the fire in Ryan's eyes, and the defiant tilt of Lanie's head as she informed him in no uncertain terms that if that was how he felt, then he could stay behind while she and Ryan went to the loft to check on them, since neither Kate nor Castle were answering their phones, and Kate's phone wasn't even going to voicemail. "She hasn't turned it off in months," Ryan said quietly, matter-of-factly. "You know that. We all know that. Something's wrong, Javi."

"What?" Esposito demanded, even as he silently acknowledged Ryan's point about Beckett's phone. "What could be wrong?"

"How do you know you got everyone?" Lanie asked then. In the corner, unseen, Johanna silently cheered Lanie and Ryan on, grateful that Ryan was so open to suggestion. "All it takes is one maniac with a gun."

"They could have had one last guy on the outside, one that wasn't there when it all went down," Ryan said urgently. He stared a hole through Esposito. "We have to question everything we think we know. Beckett taught us that. We owe it to her and Castle to make sure they're okay. We think we got 'em all, we think we won the day...but what if we didn't?"

Before Esposito could frame a suitable reply, he swore he heard a female voice...one that sounded similar to Beckett's but definitely wasn't hers, and possessed more iron than Gates' voice ever had...saying, with no small hint of desperation, "They need you. All three of you. Go to them, now! There's no time to lose!"

Ryan and Lanie saw the change in Esposito's eyes, and they had to rush to catch up with him as he took off sprinting down the corridor. "Lanie, bring your bag. Just in case."

They were all running now, and Lanie practically dove into the backseat with her medical bag as Esposito peeled out, burning rubber as he hit the lights and sirens. Ryan grabbed the radio and demanded ambulances and backup, giving Kate and Castle's address as the location.

Once her daughter's team...her daughter's family...were on their way, Johanna, who had stood at the curb and watched them race off, disappeared once more, materializing unseen by the crowds in the subway station. Her gaze immediately locked on Alexis Castle, causing the young woman to stop in her tracks with a frown, looking around her and wondering why she felt like someone was calling out to her...but someone she could neither see nor hear. Still, this feeling was so intense, Alexis couldn't ignore it.

Then she heard a voice not unlike the one Esposito had heard just a moment before (because it was, in fact, the same voice), playing on a loop in her head, telling her to check on her dad and Kate, to go to the loft right away and see them.

The subway was coming up fast. If Alexis didn't catch this one, she'd have to wait for the next one.

Don't wait. You have to make that train.

For the rest of her life, Alexis would remember this thought...but she would never be able to explain or truly even understand whether the thought was hers, or whether it was caused by this unseen phantom who nevertheless had a loud, persistent voice that sounded familiar in a sense...almost like Kate, but not Kate.

All Alexis knew for certain was, she had to make that train.

And so, for the second time in her life, Alexis Castle jumped the turnstile.

Johanna Beckett saw the subway car swallow Alexis up and then go speeding down the track. She faded out once more, headed back to the loft, back to Katie and Rick, praying harder than she ever had that she was there to help save her daughter and son-in-law, and not to take both of them...or worse, only one of them...back with her.

Despite the creeping numbness spreading throughout her whole body, Kate finally managed to get her fingers around her phone. Before she could muster the strength to pick up the phone, however, she heard an insistent pounding at the door. "Beckett? Castle? You guys in there?"

Ryan! Ryan was outside the front door! Ryan would help them! "R-Ryan," Kate croaked weakly.

"Dr. Parrish? Detectives Ryan and Esposito? What are you guys doing here?"


"Just checking up on your dad and Beckett," Ryan replied.

"Kate wasn't answering her phone, and it didn't go to voicemail," Lanie added.

The voices were very far away. Kate knew she was close to losing consciousness, and she was fairly certain Castle was already unconscious.

The sound of Alexis's key in the front door sounded like it was coming from under water. The next thing Kate heard was Alexis screaming, "OH MY GOD! DAD! KATE!" with Esposito's stricken "Son of a bitch!" and Lanie's distraught "Lord, no, not again!" echoing in tandem.

The darkness was starting to creep in more insistently now, and Kate's vision was blurry. She was aware of Espo suddenly on his knees at her side, whipping off his jacket and pressing it to her stomach to try and stop the bleeding. "You hang on, Beckett, you hear me?" he said. "Hang on!" Chaos erupted around her: Alexis sobbing, Ryan yelling (he was on his phone wanting an ETA on the ambulance and backup and telling someone to track down Karpowski and get her over to the loft ASAP), Esposito imploring her to hang on, the sound of approaching sirens in the distance, Lanie rattling off medspeak about Castle's injuries that normally Kate would be able to follow and understand, but it was getting increasingly hard to think, let alone to keep her eyes open.

All that mattered to Kate in that moment was that her hand was still in Rick's, and she felt him weakly squeeze her hand again. She squeezed his hand back with all of her might, hoping he felt it.

Lanie, like Esposito with Kate, had taken off her own jacket and was pressing it hard against Castle's chest. "Castle's got a pulse," she announced after gently palpating his carotid artery before resuming her application of pressure to his chest. "It's thready, but it's there. He's unconscious and going into shock from the blood loss, and I don't see an exit wound. Esposito, how's Kate?"

"Still alive," Espo replied tersely as he pressed as hard as he could on her abdomen.

"Which is more than I can say for this guy," Ryan announced from his place by Caleb Brown's corpse.

"You fight, Castle," Lanie ordered Castle sternly before looking over at Kate beside him. "You too, Kate. You two are not dying today, not on our watch! Ryan, where the hell are those ambulances?" The last of her question was drowned out by the screech of brakes and the wailing of sirens pulling up outside.

Alexis, still sobbing, stumbled through the open door, presumably to get the paramedics to Beckett and Castle ASAP. "Ryan, go with her! Get them up here quick!" Esposito ordered. Ryan dashed after Alexis, and in mere seconds, they had returned with the EMTs, followed by half of the 12th Precinct, all of whom were momentarily stopped short at the sight of Captain Beckett and Rick Castle on the floor, bleeding from GSWs.

None of this really registered with Kate. "Espo." The two whispered syllables were wrenched from Kate's mouth by sheer force of will. "Rick."

"He's alive, and so are you, Beckett. And you're both stayin' that way, you got it? You hear me?" Esposito said. The EMTs made him move then so they could tend to Kate, as more EMTs made Lanie leave Castle's side. Lanie filled the EMTs in on Castle's condition before reluctantly surrendering her spot to them, then yelled for an extra blanket and, since her hands were covered in Castle's blood, she asked Karpowski to wrap it around Alexis, which Karpowski gladly did. Esposito told the EMTs that took his place at Beckett's side that Beckett had two bullet wounds to the abdomen. Cursory examinations revealed that Esposito and Lanie's initial assessments had been correct: neither Beckett nor Castle had exit wounds.

In a matter of seconds, the EMTs had Kate and Rick on separate gurneys. The rattling of the wheels was the last sound Kate heard before finally succumbing to unconsciousness, her hand hanging limply from the side of her gurney after the EMTs had broken her and Castle's grip on one another.

Unconscious himself, Rick's hand hung limply from his own gurney in a mirror image of Kate's hand as they were whisked out of the loft, downstairs, and to the hospital.

After barking out orders to Karpowski, Perlmutter (who was nearly flattened by the gurneys bearing Kate and Rick downstairs in the hall outside the loft), and being assured that CSU was on their way, and quickly washing their hands in the kitchen sink, Ryan, Esposito, and Lanie, herding the shell-shocked Alexis, still wrapped in a blanket, ahead of her, rushed downstairs to follow the ambulances to the hospital. Realizing Alexis's fragile state, and having the numbers in their phones, while Esposito floored it to the hospital, Lanie, with one arm wrapped around the shaking Alexis, made the dreaded call to Jim Beckett-"Mr. Beckett, Kate and Rick have been shot. We're headed to New York Pres Lower Manhattan. Meet us in the ER, please...It's serious, that's all I can tell you. We'll see you there."-while Ryan called Martha-"Mrs. Rodgers? Kevin Ryan. I'm sorry to have to do this over the phone, but it's Castle and Beckett. We're on our way to New York Pres Lower Manhattan, and Alexis is with us...She's not hurt physically, but they all need you. We'll meet you in the ER."

And two frantic parents dropped what they were doing and rushed to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Lower Manhattan, with nightmarish visions of what they would find when they arrived at the hospital haunting every moment of their respective cab rides.

Like most people (spirits?), Johanna Beckett was not a fan of hospitals. The only time she'd ever been in one herself...that she was aware of, anyway...was when she had given birth to Katie, and that was the best reason to be in the hospital. The ER was a scene of choreographed chaos. Esposito and Ryan had left some woman named Karpowski in charge at Katie and Rick's place, and they, Lanie, and a still-in-shock Alexis had arrived at the ER along with Katie and Rick. Despite Lanie's protestations that she was a doctor, and her flashing of her NYPD credentials, one of the ER physicians was callous enough to tell the good Dr. Parrish that "if you can have at them, we'll let you know after we've called their times of death."

That remark was enough to snap Alexis out of her shock-induced stupor, and the young trauma resident's reward for making that remark about Alexis's beloved father and stepmother was a sharp slap across the face that sounded like a gunshot and left the full imprint of Alexis's palm on the shocked doctor's cheek. "That's my dad and stepmom in there!" Alexis shouted at the doctor as his hand flew to his cheek and hers remained frozen in the air after delivering the blow to his face. "If you're not here to save them, if you're just going to hover like some vulture, then you stay the hell away from both of them! They're here to be HELPED, to be SAVED, not for you to talk about them like they're nobody and nothing and only good for providing cadavers!"

When the resident spluttered and threatened to sue, Esposito and Ryan stepped forward and pulled the young doctor aside for a private two-on-one conversation while Lanie tried to console Alexis. Johanna was proud of her stepgranddaughter. She would have punched that young punk's lights out herself if she'd been able to for what he had the gall to say about Katie and Rick.

While Ryan and Esposito were dealing with the thoughtless resident, Martha Rodgers and Jim Beckett arrived. Alexis flew into her grandmother's arms, sobbing again. Lanie managed to explain everything that had happened and that they were waiting for news from the doctors on the specifics and extent of Kate and Rick's injuries. When Alexis tearfully confessed to slapping the ER doctor for what he said about Rick and Kate, Jim Beckett offered to defend Alexis pro bono if the doctor tried to bring assault charges against her and said it was a damn good thing he wasn't there when the man said that, or the man would be in the ICU and Jim himself would be on his way to jail.

"I want to know what is going on here and I want to know NOW."

When former Captain, now Deputy Chief, Victoria Gates spoke in that tone of voice, only a fool didn't obey. The trauma department at New York Presbyterian-Lower Manhattan Hospital was not comprised of fools, save one young resident who would soon be shown the door for his one-times-too-many callous treatment of patients' loved ones. The head of the trauma team, Dr. Joseph Gallison, immediately briefed the family and friends of Richard Castle and Katherine Beckett in a straightforward yet kindly manner.

Castle had severe blood loss, a collapsed lung, a chest tube, and the bullet was still lodged in his chest wall. The operation to remove it would be delicate, and of course no promises could be made, but the bullet had, by some fabulous miracle, managed to miss his heart, though it had nicked one of his internal thoracic arteries before lodging in one of his internal intercostal muscles.

Beckett had taken two bullets to the abdomen. One was lodged in her spleen, causing significant internal bleeding, so the spleen would have to come out. The other had broken three ribs and lodged in her hipbone. They weren't looking at a hip replacement right now, but it might become necessary down the road.

Both patients were in critical condition and being rushed to operating rooms at that very moment, where they would be in surgery for several hours as the bullets were removed, along with Beckett's spleen, the internal damage to both of them was repaired, and they received blood transfusions. Everyone present immediately volunteered to donate blood. Dr. Gallison promised to inform the appropriate personnel. The wait would be long, but Dr. Gallison knew none of these people were going anywhere. He promised to keep them updated as best he could, and that the surgeons would do everything humanly possible to save both Mr. Castle and Captain Beckett.

"Rick and Kate," Alexis corrected him.

"Rick and Kate," Dr. Gallison parroted back. "In the meantime, all you can do is wait...lean on each other...and I've found that prayer is very powerful." Then he turned and hurried off to scrub in on Beckett's surgery.

Johanna had been there the whole time, watching everyone's faces as they absorbed the news, and she focused now on Jim, looking older than even his earthly years should have made him, and knowing that she was as much the reason for that as the mortal peril their daughter faced right now. She materialized at Jim's side, and though he said nothing, betrayed nothing to any of the others, she knew that Jim felt her presence because she could read his churning, tumultuous, fearful, pleading thoughts.

I know you've got to miss her, Johanna, but I'm not done needing Katie yet. None of these people are. And Rick... You would have loved him, and not just because you loved his books.

I do love him, Johanna thought, hoping that Jim could hear her somehow; making your loved ones feel you was one thing, anyone could do that. But were they still connected enough that he could hear her thoughts, take whatever measure of comfort from her that she could possibly give him when the ultimate outcome here was unknown even to her? I do love Richard Castle, and not just as a writer. How can you NOT love the man who put the light back in your daughter's eyes...the man that makes your little girl happier than she ever believed she could be, happier than you ever hoped she would be? They remind me of us in some ways, Jim. And yes, I miss Katie. I miss you too. But I'll wait as long as it takes to see you again.

I don't know if you have any kind of pull Up There, Johanna, but if you do, I'm begging you, for all of our sakes, don't let them take Katie yet. She's not done. She can't be done. This can't be it. And Rick... If it weren't for him coming along, her heart would still be buried along with you. So you can't have him either. Or They can't. Whoever They are. Please, Johanna. Help Katie and Rick. Help all of us.

I'm trying, Jim. I'm doing everything I can. Believe that. Have faith. I know it's hard, but right now, it's all any of us has, including me. I love you, Jim.

I already lost you, Johanna. I still love you. That'll never change. But if I lose Kate... I can't lose her. Not when I've already lost you.

Oh, Jim. Try as she might, Johanna had no response for that other than to press a light kiss to her husband's cheek.

He felt the kiss, knew she was there somewhere, close by, and gave her this final thought in reply: Katie needs you now more than ever, Johanna. Rick too. Go to her. Go to them.

Johanna did not need to be told twice. She disappeared from the waiting area, going in search of the operating rooms where her daughter and son-in-law were fighting for their lives, and praying that this fight, like so many others that had come before, was one they would win the way they always won their fights: together.

Everything will be all right. I promise you! I'm still in the process of writing this story, but I know exactly where I want it to go. I hope you like it, and you have patience with me as I strive to get it just right.