The tremendous bustle faded, finally, as the household scattered to their respective corners, an hour later. The sun was finally down, and Rick and Kate were sitting on the sectional in the living room when they finally realized they were alone. His eyes were dancing as he looked at her, and they both started to speak at once, and then stopped, laughing. She said into the quiet of the lamplit room, "I'm going to marry you."

"Yep," he said.

She looked down at the ring. "That's so..."

"Romantic?" he supplied. "Wonderful? Magnificent?"

She chuckled. "I was actually going to say, 'strange'."

"I'm trying not to let my feelings get hurt," he said lightly. "Why would marrying me be strange?"

"It's not marrying you that's strange," she said. "If it was ever going to be anyone... It's marrying, period. The idea of being someone's wife. Having a husband."

"I'm looking forward to being your husband," he said.

"I'm not sure I know how to be someone's wife," she replied.

"Be you," he said. "We'll figure the rest out together."

"How will it even work?"

"Well, we'll get a license..." he started.

"Not the getting married," she said. "Bridesmaid, remember? I know how that bit works. You and me, being married."

"We'll live together. At my loft, if you want, eventually. If you want us to get a new place that we pick together, that's fine too."

"You'd give up your loft for me?" she asked. "You love your loft."

"I want you to be comfortable," he said. "If you hadn't noticed, I'm willing to go to not inconsiderable expense to make you comfortable, and that was before I knew you'd say yes. I like my loft. You, I love."

She gave him a sly smile and said, "I actually like your loft too."

That got a grin.

Then she sighed. "I don't even know if I'm going back," she said. "To the force."

"That's totally up to you," he said. "Work. Or don't. If you want to find something else to do with your time, you'll have the freedom to figure out what that means to you."

"I don't want to just mooch," she said.

"Can we agree not to have that particular conversation again?" he said. "The one where you don't want to spend my money, then I tell you how you inspire me and that you've earned it? You've worked harder than anyone I've ever met, and you deserve everything I can give you, and you're not going to persuade me that you don't."

She stared at him, her mouth working strangely, then she finally laughed. "Okay, we'll consider that conversation had."

Then her eyes widened. "Do you expect me to change my name? Do you want me to be Kate Castle?"

He laughed. "Castle is something I made up to sound like an author. I feel like it would make more sense if I asked you if you wanted me to be Richard Beckett." Her expression was so peculiar that he added, "If you actively WANT to be Kate Castle, I can work with that."

"You'd change your name..." she said, finally, her voice quiet.

"I've done it before," he said. "Not getting married, but I'm not... attached. It's not like it belonged to my father. Yours has history."

"You'd give up being Richard Castle?" she asked again.

"I'd keep it for writing," he said. "No point in losing the brand. But the past few years with you, I've been more than just my name, and I find I like that. Not to mention that there are advantages to being able to go by a name that is less famous. And that your dad is the closest I'll ever get to a father figure."

"You've known him for weeks," she said.

"And I've known you for years," he answered, "And between the two of you, it's a family name I'd be honored to share."

"Alexis..." she said.

"May or may not keep her name more than another few years. Or she might join me in changing hers. Or she may keep it as is. Given how little we've seen of her around the house since she cut her hair, I think she's reveling in not having a well-known author's made-up last name." At that last, he sounded almost sad.

"She loves you," Kate said. "It's just been hard for her, I think."

"She was happy for us tonight," he said. "I'm glad."

"I keep wondering when the other shoe is going to fall," Kate said. "In her shoes, I'd have a hard time not being angry about a lot of things."

"She's very good at finding the positives," Rick said.

"No one's that good. There's good at finding positives and then there's burying feelings so deep..."

"Is that what you have to do?" he asked, and then faltered, clearly regretting the words the moment they'd left his mouth.

She looked down and shrugged. "Whatever it takes."

"I didn't mean..." he started, but she put up a hand.

"No, I know I do it. You've seen more than most," she said. "I'm not easy..."

"No," he agreed, and she shot an odd look his way. "But worth it."

She laughed, and said, "And that's the primary reason I'm not as scared as I think I should be."

"Oh?" he asked. "Scared of..."

"Of saying yes. When it comes down to it, you keep catching me, over and over again, and you make me smile and make me feel like it's all possible."

He was silent, just watching her.

"So I'm curious about one thing, Rick," she said.

"Ask away," he answered.

"Did you plan on proposing tonight?"

He laughed. "Nope."

"Your mom said you've had that ring for a while."

He nodded. "Biding my time," he said. "I actually thought it would be later, if we got the case solved...but I kept the ring on me because I knew the moment might present itself, and I wasn't about to miss another moment with you."

She blushed, and glanced down at her hand, where the little diamonds sparkled in the lamplight. "I'm glad you didn't wait," she said quietly.

"In a hurry?" he asked, teasing.

She shook her head. "There's something profoundly... reassuring isn't quite the right word. Affirming? I'm not sure. Knowing that you can look at our situation, our lives uprooted, me injured, not knowing what's going to happen in the next day let along the next year... even though we're not freakin' allowed to have sex, and all the other usual things couples do building up to a decision like that... and look at me and want forever... And you waited for me, months, longer, while I buried my head in the sand... It feels solid and safe, and home."

He kissed her then, soft and sweet, then pulled her closer. "You've seen me at my worst," he said. "You let me drive you up a wall and down again, turn your life inside out, and you inspire me more than anyone I've ever known. And besides. You know comic books and cult movies, and have a staggering command of the English language. How could I not want forever with you?"

"Don't forget," she said, poking him gently on the chest. "I'm tall, too."

"And you're tall," he said. "So, not tomorrow... next week?"

She laughed against him, shaking her head. "Let's see how things shake out the next few days with your big revelations upstairs. Then you can ask me again. Ideally, I'd like to marry you when we're not actually in hiding. And I might need time to get used to the idea."

"Fair enough. Have you seriously never clipped a wedding dress out of a bridal magazine?" he asked.

"I was adamantly against the whole concept of marriage from about age fifteen until my early twenties," she said. "And around the time I started to think it might not be such a bad idea someday, I realized that every time I went dress shopping with friends and their mothers, the whole notion of planning a big wedding without my mother there..."

He stroked her back, understanding, and after a moment said, "We'll do whatever you want to do. I've jumped the hoops and done the big and stupid, and the wild and wacky, and all I know is that I want to be married to you in whatever way will make you happiest."

"I want simple," she said. "Quiet. The people we're closest to..."

"The ones in this house?" he supplied. "Anyone else?"

She thought about it for a long moment. "There are others I could invite, but no one I feel like I need to invite." A yawn escaped her, and he chuckled.

"Sleep?" he asked.

She nodded, and he stood, helping her up.

A little while later, getting ready for bed, she slipped off her necklace and her watch, and looked at the ring on her hand, and left it on.

She woke before Rick. Over the weeks, she'd developed a habit, a kind of self-inventory, muscles, wound, energy, before she even opened her eyes. Things felt... surprisingly good. She wondered if she'd ever get back to the point of just waking up and getting out of bed without testing first to see if everything worked, but this morning, for once, nothing hurt at more than a dull ache, and when she finally opened her eyes in the dim morning, she smiled.

Outside the window, she could see scraps of white sky, the ubiquitous morning fog, sharp against the dim green and shadow of the trees. Their room was on the southwest corner of the house, and while in the evening it sometimes glowed for hours with golden late-afternoon sun, gone was the sunbeam wake up they'd had in the downstairs bedroom on the opposite side of the house. Easier that way, anyway.

She sat up gingerly, and Rick rolled away from her. She froze for a long moment, waiting, but he slept on. She smiled, and quietly shifted her feet off the edge of the bed.

She chose her clothing for ease, marshaling her resources for the rest of the day. He'd said he'd carry her up, but oh, she wanted to earn it. She slipped on her mother's ring, and her father's watch, and slid her burner phone into a pocket, all the while stealing glances at his sleeping form on the bed.

She resisted the temptation to touch him, or even stare at him too long. When she stepped into the soft house flats she'd taken to wearing, she took one last look, checking to confirm that his phone was, indeed, on the nightstand next to his head.

And with that, she crept out of the room, moving past Lanie and Javier's bedroom, blessedly quiet this morning, and over to the stairs to the third floor.

She took a moment to stretch a little, trying not to think too hard about how ridiculous it felt to be warming up for a simple walk up the stairs, but her bouts of soreness after new tasks had hammered that lesson home the hard way. She could almost hear Amy's voice saying, "But Kate, it is a marathon, for you, right now."

Then she put a hand on the rail, and took the first step, and the second. She knew now why old people climbed one stair at a time, step, bring the foot up, step again. It felt more doable if one only had to tackle one step at a time. But she also knew from the previous days' practice that it was actually more tiring to climb that way, and she forced herself to take it more normally, one foot per stair. But it didn't stop her from holding onto the railing with a death grip, and she was grateful for the landing halfway up. Another padded bench, much like the one between the first and second floors, and she knew he'd planned for her to be able to take breaks climbing.

She leaned her head back against the wall and just breathed, pacing herself. Another lesson learned the hard way. Amy's voice again in her head, saying, "Small breaks, catch your breath, let your muscles recover, but not long enough to lose your momentum."

She forced herself up, looked at that last flight up, and put a hand out on the railing. Slower this time. She could feel the shreds of fatigue around the edges, frustrating for so early in the day, but she didn't usually start her day out by climbing stairs before breakfast, either. Not anymore. She spared one wistful, self-pitying thought, remembering how ridiculously easy this would have been a couple of months prior, but then put her foot up, and then the other, and focusing all of her attention on moving her feet forward, she was a little surprised when the ubiquitous wood grain of the stairs gave way to the short, grey berber of the top floor. She stood at the top of the stairs for a long moment, staring at that grey carpet, and then pulled out her phone and sank gratefully onto a small chair in the corner of the landing at the top of the stairs.

I made it up here, she sent. Where's my prize?

She suppressed a laugh when she heard a bit of a clatter down below, followed by a shirtless, pajama-clad Rick stumbling his way up the stairs.

She smirked at him. His mouth gaped like a fish for a long moment, and his brows knit together, and he started to say something, stopped, started again, then held up a finger and said quietly, "One minute." But he didn't move.

She looked at her watch and then back at him pointedly.

"Right," he said, and stumbled back down the stairs.

Seventy three seconds later, he reappeared, not his usual polished self, but no longer looking like he'd fallen out of bed. "You sure you don't want to wait for breakfast?" he asked.

"I'm hoping someone will bring it up here," she said. "Not sure if I can get back up here once I'm down on the ground floor. But I want to see that room, and I'm not quite sure which door..." The space they were in was uniquely windowless, and quite unlike any space she'd seen in the house before. She could see three doors and an open archway leading to another small, windowless room, and a couple more doors beyond that.

"Right," he said. "Tour." He pointed. "Our resident computer tech stays in a bonus room over there, and Ash's room is there, and those double doors you can see belong to Ryan and Jenny. The door to your left is just storage, and the door over there is the bathroom for the entire floor.

"We've got four bathrooms on the middle floor, there's only one up here?" she asked.

He shrugged. "If we were going to spend a few years here, I'd probably have another bath put in. Or two. But those double doors right next to you?" She looked over to her right, at the wall her chair was backed against. He continued. "Those are the war room. Do you want to come in?"

She nodded, and he put out his hand to help her up.

He leaned over and put his hand on the door knob and then said, "Oh, but you need to know about our house mouse... The computer tech, Renny, she doesn't talk, and she doesn't like eye contact. When I need to communicate, I text. She's in your phone, under RJ."

Kate looked slightly nonplussed, and then with a quick tilt of acknowledgment, said, "Quit stalling, Castle."

He shot her a look, saw the slight teasing in her eye, and grinned, then opened the door.

The room beyond was dark, lit mostly by computer screens and an anemic scrap of daylight from a faceted window high on the opposite wall.

"It's huge," Kate breathed.

The open space in front of them was not much bigger than their enormous bedroom one floor below, but two of the walls were lined with open doors, into which were tucked computer stations, leaving most of the floorspace clear. The high, vaulted ceiling was crisscrossed by beams, and the far wall was covered with electronic smartboards. Tucked into one of the six little cubbies along the walls she could see the short, curly hair of the FBI's computer tech, who spared a glance in their direction and then returned to her screens.

Information danced across the smart boards, some of it static, some of it moving faster than Kate's eye could follow. She stepped forward, but Rick gave a small cough and said, "Turn around."

She did, and then gasped. A twelve-foot stretch of wall between the double doors they'd entered and another door had been painted over with glossy whiteboard paint, with a series of spotlights making the wall the brightest place in the room. A twenty-year timeline stretched from one door to the other, filled in with more pictures and data than she'd ever seen for a single case. Familiar faces looked back at her from 8x10 color photos. Her mother. Roy. McCallister. Raglan. Bob Armand. Hal Lockwood. Coonan... more. Every face she'd ever associated with her mother's murder. And some that were not so familiar.

She started to move toward one of them, but his hand on her arm stopped her, and he said. "Best let me set the stage." He tapped a button on his phone, and said, "The boys should be here, though."

She nodded, and took a step back from the vast murder board. He walked over to the corner of the room, and pulled out a familiar-looking leather chair. He slid it across the carpet until it was in the middle of the room, pointed at the smartboards that lined the far wall. "Sit, please," he said, nodding in the direction of the chair.

She did, reflexively raising the foot of the leather recliner. "Need one of these at the precinct," she said.

He chuckled, but it was a tight, almost nervous sound.

They waited in silence. Kate felt an odd calm wash over her, and resisted the urge to turn around, to dive into the murder board behind her. Castle was texting rapidly, and she watched his face, intent, focused. At random, the thought floated through her head, This is the man I'm going to marry. Her eyes fell back to the ring on her finger, and she turned her hand until the ring sparkled in the dim light. She let her eyes wander upward, and noted curiously line after line of tract lighting on the ceiling.

Rick's fingers stilled for a moment, and she said, "I'm surprised you haven't turned some lights on in here... it's so dark."

"Renny doesn't like them," Rick said. "And given her skill... I'm happy to humor her."

"Just curious," Kate said.

Then the door opened, and a slightly sleepy looking Kevin Ryan poked his head in, then the rest of him followed. "Jenny's getting us some breakfast," he said, fighting a yawn. "And coffee."

"Good" Rick said, without looking up from his phone.

A few minutes later, Javier walked in.

"How's Lanie?" Kate asked, before he was even all the way in the room.

"Queasy but not throwing up," Javier said. "Had to get her a snack. She'll be up to do your meds and testing in a half hour," Javier said, and then walked over to one of the closet computer stations and sat down. Kevin pulled up a chair behind him, leaning on the closet door as he watched his partner's fingers fly across the keyboard.

Kate looked up at Rick expectantly, then frowned as he showed no signs of starting. "The boys are here," she said, pointedly.

"Five more minutes," Rick said, still not looking away from the screen in front of him. "Jordan's coming."

"She's five minutes away?" Kate asked.

"She moved her family to the other safehouse, down the block," Javier said. "This weekend. Because..." He hesitated, then looked at Rick, and then said, "You'll understand when you see."

Kate sighed, trying to reclaim the calm she'd felt a few minutes prior, then said, "Should my dad be here?"

Rick looked up, and a look passed between him and the two detectives. Kevin shrugged, and Javier finally said, "Your call, boss."

That set Kate back on her heels for a moment, as it was clearly addressed to Rick. She felt another shred of composure slip away.

Rick looked down at her, and said, "I think... I think you better hear it out, then decide how you want to tell him."

She took a breath, pressed her lips together, and then nodded.

The room was quiet, only the faintest clicking of fingers on keyboards punctuating the silence. Kate felt more than heard the percussion of the front door opening and closing, the rapid, dull sound of feet on the wooden stairs. Finally the door opened, and Jordan Shaw walked into the room.

"Did you start yet?" she asked, not appearing at all winded from her rapid climb up the stairs.

Kate had a momentary flash of irrational jealousy at the idea of climbing two flights of stairs without effort, then squashed it back down, remembering, She was hurt once, worse than this. The thought was surprisingly comforting.

Rick looked up, finally, and said, "We were waiting for you."

"Don't keep her waiting," Jordan said. "She earned it, and I think we need her."

"Hit it, bro," Rick said to Javier, who nodded. A series of small images popped up at the base of one of the smartboards, and Rick walked over.

He tapped an image and it sprang up to fill the next smartboard over with the faces of Pulgatti, Vulcan Simmons, and Bob Armand.

"Twenty years ago, the FBI sent an undercover agent in to infiltrate a mob family," Rick said. "Bob Armand. Who was killed, 9 months into that assignment, when one of the members of that family was nearly kidnapped, as you know, by three off-duty cops. Around the same time, Vulcan Simmons was becoming quite the name in the New York drug trade."

"Give me something new," Kate said.

"They were connected," Rick said.

Kate blinked. "How?"

"We need to go back to 1989," Rick said. "Afghanistan." He tapped another image, and the next smartboard filled with a map. "And the fall of the Soviet Union. The US was heavily involved in black ops there, but when the USSR fell and the Soviets withdrew, the US pulled out too. Well, most of them."


"A few opportunists stayed, gone native, as it were, and they saw potential profit, so they did what they did best, and nudged the locals in the direction they wanted them to go. Opium poppies. One of those men was named John Armand."

"Related?" Kate asked.

"Bob Armand's younger brother. Bit of a black sheep. As far as we can tell, he stayed in Afghanistan from 1989 until his brother was killed in 1991, and then he came home." He stopped, and walked back over to the first board, and tapped the first image in the list. It popped up above the smaller images, an older picture of a man in his early 30's, with hard eyes and dark hair.

"Tell me the story, Castle," Kate said.

He looked at her, then nodded.

"John Armand. We don't know a lot about what he did in Afghanistan, but we can guess. CIA—and don't mock, Kate, that's actually the most likely scenario for once—or some other government agency. All we know is that when his brother was killed, he showed up in New York and joined the NYPD." Castle tapped an image, and it enlarged. "He graduated the academy and worked the streets for a couple of years, then walked off the job in 1996, to form a private security company."

Kate frowned. "So he came back to the states... and joined the force, why?"

"Well, one might assume he wanted to figure out what really happened to his brother, find revenge, the usual, but the man seems to have a real knack for multitasking. I think he joined the force to find dirty cops to help get his drugs into the country without hassle... and stumbled across his brother's case and figured out the real story from there. And it turns out that while he wasn't all that fond of his brother, he was very fond of opportunities."

"So he blackmailed the three..." Kate filled in.

"And used the profits to start his company, while simultaneously networking inside the force, inside the New York drug trade, and the military. He changed his name after leaving the force."

"What is his name now?" Kate asked.

"John Ladon," Rick said.

"Ladon..." Kate said. "Why is that familiar?"

"One of two things, most likely," Rick said. "The name Ladon comes from mythology, the hundred-headed dragon guarding the golden apples."

"Hercules defeated it..." Kate supplied.

"Exactly. But you've heard it more recently, as the name of the company he founded. Ladon Securities."

"Aren't they one of the biggest private contractors for the military in..." she started.

"Afghanistan," he finished. "And Iraq before that. You see where this is going."

Kate stared at the face for a long time, gears turning in her head, something trying to connect, but slipping away. "So he gets employees from the military..."

"They join his company because the pay is better, with fewer rules. But his top people, we think his relationship with them is even closer, that they were actually on ops together at one point. The level of loyalty we've seen..."

Jordan stepped a little closer and said, "What really creates the difficulty for us is that the man is the head of a not-insignificant private army. He rarely leaves his compound in New York, and a huge part of their legitimate domestic business is consulting and installing equipment for private corporations to thwart industrial espionage and theft."

"Legitimate..." Kate caught the word. "And what kinds of less legitimate business is he into? Drugs?"

Esposito turned around in his chair and started. "Drugs... we think he's supplying our friend Vulcan. But just about any major smuggling operation you can think of, he's probably got his fingers in the pie."

Ryan continued, "Yeah, he really took the whole 'Diversify, diversify, diversify,' advice to heart. They've got access and supply channels we've managed to tie back to a whole variety of weapons smuggling, worldwide. It wouldn't surprise me to find out his people had something to do with that diamond-smuggling thing..."

"The biggest barrier is that we need a warrant, and it is clear from the results of past investigations," Jordan said, "that whenever an investigator gets close, they get shut down."

Something clicked into place for Kate. "Afghanistan. Tell me, does his company have any involvement with the banks there?"

She could see the entire change purse drop for Castle. He stared at her, gaping like a fish for a moment.

A computerized voice came Renny's cupboard, a bland, female, synthesized voice. "Yes. There are thirteen shell corporations between Ladon Industries and the International Limited, a privately held bank with several offices in Afghanistan."

"Hey, wasn't that the bank that sent money to Alhabi?" Ryan said, finally catching up.

"Is it possible?" Kate asked Rick.

"I'm a little lost, would someone please unpack this for me?" Jordan said mildly.

"We never did find out who actually sent the money," Rick said.

"Or imported the radioactives. That had to be an expensive operation and we never looked for anyone beyond those three..." Kate continued.

Jordan coughed, and Castle turned to her. "How much do you know about the dirty bomb that almost went off in New York City a few months back?" he asked.

She blinked, her eyes widened, and then she smiled. "Tell me, you two, do you have friends in Homeland Security right now?"

Kate nodded, as Rick pulled out his wallet and handed Jordan a business card.

"I know him," Jordan said.

Kate frowned, suddenly registering something. "I thought Renny didn't parse speech."

The computerized voice emerged again. "When necessary, I use voice-to-text, and vice verse. It is imperfect, but occasionally useful."

Kate turned and said, "Thank you for your help."

"It's my job," the voice said, bland and impersonal.

Jordan stared at the card for a long moment, and then said, "I have a phone call to make."

Esposito turned and pointed to a land line in the next cubby over. "That line is as secure and untraceable as she knows how to make it," he said, with a shoulder shrug in the direction of the computer tech on his other side."

She gave him a distracted nod and sat down in the little cubby.

"You seriously think that Ladon was also behind the dirty bomb?" Rick asked.

"Regardless of whether he was, or wasn't," Kate said, "If Homeland Security has even an inkling that he might have been, they've got a hell of a lot more chance of getting in there without broadcasting things ahead of time. They can get a sneak-and-peek or a no-knock a hell of a lot easier than even Jordan can."

"Assuming they don't try to get the warrant from a dirty judge," Rick said.

She gave that a little shrug of acknowledgment, and Rick brought her a large tablet computer so that she could explore the data more closely.

She was barely aware of eating a breakfast someone stuck in front of her, and absentmindedly held out her hand for Lanie to prick her finger without paying much attention even to the the fact that Lanie did not then jab her with another needle.

It was nearly lunchtime when Jordan came back over and said, "We have a plan of attack. Mark's a good guy. If this works, it may even be relatively bloodless. If it doesn't..."

"It won't be enough," Kate said, "To take down Ladon. He's one head. From what you all have put together, his deputies are frighteningly loyal. He picked his name well. We have to get all of them."

"Will getting them into the penal system be enough?" Rick asked. "If they have their fingers in that many political pies?"

"We're hoping that the storytelling you've been working on will help us there," Jordan said. "I read what you've been writing the past few days. You should try your hand at nonfiction more often."

"I couldn't make this stuff up," Rick said, sounding almost regretful.

"How refreshingly humble," Jordan said, almost laughing. "But if Mark can manage to find evidence that they've been involved in terrorist activities, we'll have a bit more leverage than we usually do."

"And if he can't?" Kate asked.

"If he can't, well, ask him," Jordan said, nodding at Rick. "I know you enjoy his writing."

"If it has to go public, the whole thing will have to go public," Rick said. "He's not going to be able to blackmail his way out of things, because we'll have completely discredited him as a source. I believe Renny over there has managed to put things in motion to put a freeze on the corporation's assets, and we have a record of just who the corporation has given money to in the past decade."

"And if he slips through our fingers?" Kate asked.

"Worst case," he said, "we stay here unless we need to run. And if we need to run, I do have a few aces up my sleeve. Rather comfortable aces," he added. "Honestly, I'd be tempted to use them anyway, because they'd be even more fun if we weren't running for our lives."

Kate smiled. "Does it involve palm trees?" she asked.

"And coconuts," he agreed. "And lovely beaches."

"Sounds like a honeymoon," Jordan said dryly. "But don't count your vacations until they're hatched."

"Wouldn't be a half-bad honeymoon at that," Kate said, with a glance up at Rick.

He smiled. "Best if we're not on the run."

"Then let's see how this plays out," Kate said. She stared back down at the tablet on her lap. "John Ladon. He ordered the hit, I assume?"

"He's at the top of the food chain," Rick said. "We're not 100% sure he ordered it personally, but he was certainly in charge of whoever did, and was almost certainly behind Lockwood. We'll get him. Letting him stay where he is... is no longer a viable option."

"It never really was," Kate said. Then she looked up at him. "I can't comprehend a future without this fight," she said. "But I can't wait to find out."

Author Note: So, I'm on Zofran now. Likely to stay on it for a while, as if I am still not able to function due to nausea without it at 27 weeks pregnant, the chances that I'll magically stop having nausea before I deliver are slim. Zofran is a little bit magical in that it makes me able to do things like stand up and open the fridge and go to the bathroom without gagging so badly that I wet my pants and then throw up, all without having mints or cough drops in my mouth, which were starting to stop working anyway!

The problem is this: I have written very, very little since I went on it, and everything I have written has been nonfiction. But after 23+ weeks of straight nausea (I started gagging before I missed my first period... o.O), I have to prioritize, and at the moment that means being able to actually be upright vs. being creative. So it may be a while, even a long while before I come back to this.

It's not my perfect stopping place, but life is like that. I'm not closing the door on the story, but it's not likely to get updated very soon, either. And it has served much of the purpose for which it was intended... to get us over the long summer without the show. I may pick it up again next summer, could theoretically be sooner but I'm not holding my breath. I've had fics in the past that were dropped for years before being picked up again and finished. In some ways it depends on where the show goes this year. If it doesn't go where it feels like it needs to go... the chances are higher that I'll pick this back up. But at this point, entering the third trimester, it's going to be a while. We'll just have to see.