A/N. This may be done now . . .not sure, but it occurred to me that Martha might be the only one who truly already knows how Castle feels about Kate. She's seen her wordsmith son robbed of any ability to even describe what it would mean for him if anything happened to his partner. She's a wise woman in many respects . . . and she's known him all his life, she MUST see how different what he feels for Kate is from anything that's come before.

She tucks her granddaughter against her side in the confines of the dimly lit interior of the taxi-cab, gives the driver their upper west-side address in hushed tones and sits back, allowing her eyes to momentarily fall closed. There is a huge knot of pain sitting dead center of her chest and anything more than a few words at a time leaves her choking to continue around the ever-present threat of tears.

She can't actually remember a more awful day, and that thought alone brings a fresh wave of dread, her dramatic nature, the one her oh so creative son inherited works against her on days like today, but for once, for once Martha Rodgers is admirably holding her own.

Taking comfort from the warm gentle presence of the teenager nestled beside her, Martha feels her heart breaking for her son and the absolute agony she knows with her mother's intuition that he is currently enduring. Kate is still in surgery, and there has been no good news.

"I've never seen Dad like that." Alexis' quiet voice seems lost even in the confined space, and Martha steels herself for the conversation she knows lies ahead.

"Your father is in a lot of pain right now kiddo." She says, voice graven. "I know you didn't want to leave him, but he doesn't want you to see him like that . . . and he needs to do this alone sweetheart, without feeling like he has to be strong for us, that's just one added pressure too many." She adds.

Alexis untangles herself from her grandmother's side, her lovely face stained with tears, eyes rimmed red.

"Is Kate going to die Grams?" She asks.

Martha shakes her head helplessly. "Pray that she doesn't Alexis . . . pray very, very hard, because it certainly looks a little bleak right now. I hope I'm wrong."

Alexis nods her head once. "First her mom, then those other people, then those retired cops, and Captain Montgomery . . . and now Kate. I'm scared Grams . . . what if the person who shot Kate thinks Dad is in the way too?"

Martha feels her stomach relocate itself into her windpipe, for a moment she debates internally about what she's about to say, but she's seen it in her son's eyes . . . and his daughter deserves to know.

"Alexis I want you to listen to me, and then I want you to promise me something, and it's going to seem like the most awful promise you can make . . . like the strangest thing I would ever ask of you, but you have to trust me that I'm only telling you this, only asking of you this, because you are no longer a little girl."

Outside the taxi there is a flash of lightening followed by the crash of thunder and as the sky suddenly darkens it begins to rain, the thudding on the roof of the cab and the encroaching darkness from outside lend her grandmother's eyes even more wisdom than normal, and Alexis forces herself to stillness, and hopes she looks more like an adult than she feels right now.

"Okay Grams . . . I'm listening."

Martha manages a smile, and hopes to God she's doing the right thing. "Alexis, you understand that your Dad is in love with Kate don't you?" She begins.

Alexis blushes, small spots of red staining the white canvas of her face. "I kinda thought he might be." She admits very quietly. "But since she has a boyfriend and Dad only recently broke up with Gina . . . I guess I haven't really thought about it much. Dad . . . he hasn't said anything to me about it, but today, when he dived for her . . . it was there on his face." She finishes.

Martha shakes her head. "This isn't like your mother kiddo or Gina or like anytime before when your Dad thought he was in love. This is different Alexis, this is a different state . . . he would have taken that bullet for her today Alexis . . . and taken it gladly and you need to prepare yourself my darling, because if we lose Kate today . . . a big part of your father will die with her, he'll never be the same."

Alexis' eyes widen in fear, and then she remembers how her father was at the hospital, his knuckles white, his inability to sit still, the tears that kept frustrating him as they coursed down his face and he angrily swiped them away. She remembers that he didn't talk, did not acknowledge the presence of any of them with him, would not change his shirt, though it was stained with her blood and she remembers his eyes . . . and shudders. When she'd told her grandmother she'd never seen her father like that it was his eyes she was really referring too. Richard Castle is famous for those vivid blue orbs, for the charm and fun they contain, for the laughter and mischief always sparkling in their depths. Her father's eyes have always been her favorite part of his face, she can always tell what he's thinking by searching them, and today . . . today they simply weren't his.

Today, they were gray not blue. Red from tears and devoid of life the only thing residing in their depths had been a pain she could not describe and an anger he could barely contain. It made his face almost foreign to her . . . her fun-loving, always joking man-child father had become someone different, a stranger, a man with no humor, no charm and murderous rage at the center of his soul. She cannot ever remember seeing him feeling something so deeply and the fear she's already feeling ratchets up.

"I love Kate Grams, really I do, but I don't want Dad to get hurt. He isn't a cop, he's not supposed to be in danger, and I don't think he should follow her around anymore." The red-head says vehemently.

Martha sighs. She feels the exact same way, as much as she also loves the fearless detective, as a mother she wants her only child safe, but as a woman, as a person whose known love . . . she knows how hopeless what she wishes for is.

"You can't ask him to do that Alexis. You must not - promise me." She says softly, taking the girls hand and squeezing it fiercely, "You have to understand what that would do to him in the long run." She says, feeling her own eyes fill with terrified tears.

"Because you don't think he would do it?" Alexis asks, "He's my Dad, Grams, wouldn't he do it for me?" She says.

Martha nods. "Of course he would kiddo . . . but you can't ask him to sacrifice his soul because you don't want to lose him. You must not do it, just as I can't ask it of him either, because as much as he loves you Alexis, and he loves you more than anything, you're his child, you'll always be the most important person in his life. But you'll grow up sweetheart, and fall in love, and someday be a parent yourself and you won't need him like you do now, you'll love your own child more than you love him – that's the way it's supposed to be. You can't ask, because you aren't little and dependent, but almost grown and strong as hell, and because though he will do it if you ask him too – you'll be the instrument that destroys him if you make him abandon the woman he's willing to die for. Promise me Alexis, if we love him, we have to let him be who he needs to be."

Silence descends. Only the rain hammering on the roof remains . . . and still the city darkens.

Alexis swallows her instinctive protests, she swallows her fears and her own desires and she thinks over what her grandmother's telling her. She silences her inner child, weeping and frightened and recalls the stranger back at the hospital with the foreign eyes in her father's familiar face. Her Dad is in love her Grams says. So in love that he'd have stepped in front of the bullet that hit Kate if he could have, so in love that he'll remain in danger to fight beside her again if she survives today, and Alexis suddenly understands that if she can envy that commitment to another person, if she can dream of wanting a love like that herself, then she has her answer.

"Okay Grams. I understand, and I promise."

Martha searches the teenagers' eyes and smiles at the strength of will and resolve she sees there. "We have to make the sacrifice here kiddo, if we want to see him whole, and happy, we have to be willing to let him risk everything in pursuit of it. What those two have Alexis . . . nothing should stand in the way of it my darling, because loving like that is what it means to be human."