"Did she make it?"

"What?" the detective asks, shifting Nathaniel in her arms as she steps closer to the doctor and her husband's bedside.

"That's what Mr. Castle asked when he spoke," Dr. Bodie clarifies. "He asked, 'Did she make it?'"

Kate turns her attention toward Alexis, wondering if the girl has any idea what her father might have meant. The young woman stares back, eyebrows furrowed.

Looking back at the doctor, Kate opens her mouth to ask another question. But Alexis speaks first. "Oh. Oh god."

Her eyes dart frantically to her stepdaughter, find the girl with a pale hand pressed over her mouth as she stares at the bed and her father. Kate's heart ricochets in her chest as she whips her head around to seek out Castle's form, but he hasn't moved, his body still, his breathing even.

She turns back to Alexis, whose eyes are shiny, her face blanched. She reaches, sets a careful hand on the girl's arm. "What is it?"

"Oh god, Kate."

Alexis is genuinely scaring her now, and she instinctively tightens her arm around her son, the little boy snuffling sleepily against her collarbone for a moment before he settles, his body warm and heavy against her chest.

"What, Alexis?" she asks, her fingers clenching around her stepdaughter's wrist.

"He-" the young woman begins, her voice muffled by the hand still covering her mouth.

Kate shoots a glance toward the doctor, who has moved closer to the bed and seems to be watching his patient, though she's certain that he's also listening to their conversation.

Alexis pulls her hand away from her mouth, shakes her head. "The woman. With the little girl. The one Dad tried to save."

Her heart stutters in her chest, a wave of grief and irrational anger overcoming her for a moment. She sees the emotions reflected in the younger woman's eyes, sees the way the girl is trying, trying so hard, has been trying so hard all this time.

And why? For what purpose?

By the time she'd left the prison that day, it was all over. All that remained after she listened to her stepdaughter's frantic message was to call the girl back and then to drive to the hospital as quickly as she could, to hold and be held while they waited, hoped, prayed.

The boys had sat with her, had bracketed their little family - Ryan on one end with his arm firmly around Kate's shoulders while Esposito had held Martha's hand at the other end of the row. Alexis sat in the middle, surrounded.

Kate remembers the moment Captain Gates stepped through the waiting room doors, her posture more slumped, her face softer than the detective had ever seen it.

"Beckett," the woman had called, and she'd shot up out of her seat immediately, hurrying toward the captain she had slowly grown to respect.

She felt the presence of her stepdaughter at her side, turned to find all of them there - her family.

Turning back to Gates, she nodded. "Sir?"

"I spoke with the lead detective on the hostage case," she said quietly. "He told me what happened."

"And?" Esposito asked, his hand rising to clench around Kate's shoulder, as if to hold her down, to keep her present.

"It's a long story, and they're still trying to piece together some of the details, still trying to figure out how everything took place, but a few witnesses told him about Castle and what he did."

She remembers having this need, this overwhelming need to know exactly why her husband is under a surgeon's knife, fighting for his life.

"Apparently, the man in charge of the whole thing threatened a woman with a little girl," the captain continued. "He was going to shoot her. Mr. Castle tried to intervene."

None of them missed her word choice.

"Tried?" Ryan asked.

The captain nodded. "He was too late.

She felt Alexis' forehead meet her shoulder blade, heard the beginnings of a sob. It wasn't- it wasn't as if knowing that he had saved someone's life would have made it any better if they'd lost him. But-

"Mrs. Castle?"

Dr. Bodie's voice pulls her from her memories, and she looks up, meets his warm, weary brown eyes.

"I'm sorry," he says kindly. "I don't know when he'll wake up again. All we can do now is wait."

She nods, tugs on her stepdaughter's wrist. The young woman steps closer, steps into the detective's side. Kate hasn't completely gotten used to this, to this version of Alexis who seeks her comfort, her touch.

But she's so very grateful she hasn't had to do this alone.

"You have an exam tomorrow, don't you?" she asks softly.

The redhead nods. "But if I email my professor and explain, I'm sure that..."

Kate shakes her head. "No. You should go home, get some sleep, take your exam. I'll call if anything changes."

"What about Nate?"

Her eyes drop to the sleeping boy, and she tilts her head to brush her lips over his crown of dark hair. "I'll call Lanie, see if she can take him for the rest of the night. Or my dad."

Alexis tightens her arms around Kate, and the detective turns their bodies toward the door, steels herself for a long night of watching her husband, his silence so unnatural a thing for her talkative man.

Kate squeezes her stepdaughter's hand one more time, and the girl opens the door, glances back for a moment. "Let me know if-"

They turn in unison at the sound of a familiar voice, rough with disuse. "Did she make it?"

A/N: Please check out extraordinarylines dot com, a new fanfic archive dedicated completely to Castle.

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