Javier sits on the back of the ambulance long after Jenny's come to take Ryan home. Castle and Beckett have disappeared and he doesn't have even the inkling of a care. He's focused on something else entirely.

Ryan's hurt. Castle was tied to a chair and, according to Ryan, Jerry made it clear that he would kill the writer. Javier feels responsible.

He knows, logically, that it's stupid and unproductive. They had no idea that Jerry was their serial killer. They had no way of knowing that Castle and Ryan would be in danger. And there was no guarantee that the outcome would have been different if he had been there. But that doesn't stop the flood of emotions that Javier's usually a lot better about keeping under wraps. The 'what ifs' the 'maybes' the 'if onlys' are unhealthy, but they're the only thing racing around in his brain. He can't get the pictures out of his head.

The paramedics are used to cops, so they don't push him even though there's no more on site injuries. When it's an injured cop, even just a slightly injured cop, they all stick around for support. It's an unspoken rule between those that put their lives on the line for others. And the paramedics have seen too many injured officers to be anything other than supportive. Nevertheless, he knows he needs to get up, to move, to do something other than sit there with his head in his hands, but the flashed of what could have happened, the look of utter panic on Beckett's face after she got off the phone with Mrs. R…. And no excuse is making him feel less guilty.

Ryan's his partner. So is Castle. And he let them down.

There's two warm hands on his knees and he looks up to find none other than Lanie Parish looking at him in a twisted sort of sympathy. She knows him and she doesn't want to be sympathetic, but she also knows he doesn't want it. He almost winces when he sees it.

"What are you doin' here, Lain?"

She smiles slightly. "Squires called me. Said he had a stray and wondered if I'd come pick him up."

He wrinkles his nose in distaste, but appreciates what she's trying to do. "I'm good. Go home."

She snorted. "Uh huh, because you sure look okay. Come on. I'll drive you home."

When he goes to argue she pins him with a glare. He raises his hands in surrender and shakes his head, his lips curling up the slightest bit. She tend to have that effect on him.

They place in silence and he knows that Lanie's just biding her time. She's a ninja like that, leaving him to stew and then pouncing. Their relationship with Beckett has necessitated a friendship that's been flirting with a line of an entirely different sort lately and he knows he's weak. Well, relatively speaking, anyway, and Lanie's always been able to essentially sense that.

He's not surprised when she parks instead of just slowing to a stop, the same way he's not surprised when she follows him up. He knows she's not going to let this go, that she's going to stick to his side because that's just the kind of loyalty she shows. Usually, he's glad for it, glad for her, but he's not sure he can take it tonight.

She doesn't say anything when they walk in and he heads right to his bedroom and a shower. He knows he's leaving her alone in his apartment, but there's a part of him that hopes she takes that as her cue to leave. He doesn't want company, not even hers.

But she's not gone when he gets out and throws on some sweatpants. She's actually made food, nothing heavy mostly because he hasn't had the chance to go shopping in a while, but somehow she's scrounged up soup and crackers. Part of him is thankful, part of him is pissed.

"Jesus, Laine, I don't need a mother."

He's lashing out at her, and logically he knows that. He's a turmoil of emotions and he's passionate by nature, but Lanie just seems to take it in stride. She's browsing the paper he hasn't had a chance to look at in days, ignoring him completely as she sits primly at his tiny kitchen table. He drops down into the chair and just looks at her, glaring. She calmly flips a page of the paper.


"Shut up and eat," she says sharply. "Then we're gonna talk about this guilt complex you've got and how to fix it." Her eyes narrow. "Got it?"

He seriously considers arguing with her, then changes his mind. He's not sure it's worth it, though admittedly he's also not sure if having her here is a good thing. So, he eats while she reads the paper and under any other circumstances he may even call it domestic. But it wasn't any other situation and he was pretty sure he was liable to bite her head off. Or worse.

When he's finished, he takes care of the dishes half out of habit and half out of a need to walk away. Part of him thinks that running will make her leave, but the smart part of him scoffs at the thought. Lanie's a pitbull when she needs to be, gripping tight to something she thinks is a big deal.

She doesn't move until he's dried and put away the last of his dishes. Then she slowly, carefully, and deliberately folds up the paper before standing. They face off against each other even though he knows the most likely winner is the ME. Finally, he runs a hand over his head in actual defeat.

"Look, Lain, I get it okay?"

She just arches an eyebrow as she folds her arms over her chest. "You get it, huh?" she asks, quite obviously disbelieving. "Get what?"

"That there's no guarantees," he replies, meeting her eyes. "I get that it may not have turned out any different if I was there. I get that it could have gone even worse." He rolls his eyes. "I get it. But that doesn't change anything."

She snorts. "It changes everything. What if it had gone worse, huh? What if you were there? He probably would have just shot you all instead of leaving anyone alive. Two cops, two guns, the odds aren't in his favour. He could have just taken Ryan's weapon and shot you and then what?"

He's surprised at how worked up she's getting about the whole thing. The Lanie he knows has a temper, yes, but a cool head too. This is something he hasn't anticipated and he's not quite sure what to do about the tears sparkling in her eyes. Lanie doesn't cry. She screams, she rants, she spits, she swears but he's never seen her cry before. He's not sure what to do with her. Those teary dark eyes meet his.

"You could have been killed."

Then he's moving, and he's standing in front of her and he's leaning down and crossing that line they've been flirting with. She leans up on her tiptoes, responding to his mouth and he can taste the tears on her tongue but he can also taste her and it's the latter that he can't believe. She's small against him and she's moving against him and he's lost in her. He finds himself remarkably okay with that.

He knows it's wrong. He's not the only one who is unstable right now, but if she doesn't care, if she's not willing to stop, he definitely doesn't want to. He's waited for this, they've danced around this, but they're much more subtle than Beckett and Castle so the fact that this has been building is something people haven't seen. So this… this is just the accumulation of time and attraction. The kiss is a spark lighting a flame that, despite their vulnerability and the emotional upheaval of the night, neither of them are willing to bank.

He's strong enough to lift her, not that she's all that heavy to begin with, and she doesn't release his mouth as she wraps her legs around him. Carrying her is easy, but he doesn't make it further than his beloved sofa, a piece of furniture that has acted as a bed almost as much as a couch. Now, it's just a flat surface that will hold their weight enough for him to press her into the cushions. But she's not some docile female and she pushes back against his attempt to pin her, raking her nails gently up his back. He feels the cold air on his back as she does and realizes that she's dragging his t-shirt up his back. He lets her pull it off and thrills at the appreciation in her eyes.

He moves slower, slipping gentle fingers beneath the t-shirt she's wearing. She lifts her arms above her head, letting him inch the fabric up slowly, steadily. He watches her breathing increase and catches a moan in his kiss as his fingertips catch the sides of her breasts. He releases her mouth as the shirt slides over her head and half of him can't believe that this is happening.

"This is a bad time to be thinking about this," she whispers, even as she kisses him again and pulls him even closer. Since she doesn't seem all that torn up about it, he doesn't let it worry him. He likes having her beneath him and he definitely doesn't think when she's moving so deliciously against him and that's what matters. He can't stop and if she doesn't want to, well…

His thoughts scatter with the feeling of her tongue against his neck and her hands drawing patterns just above the line of his pants. He slides his thumb under the wire of her bra and her breath catches and her hands stutter. He slips his hands under her shoulders and her arms wrap around his neck. She uses the leverage and her own strength to lift herself up high enough for him to undo her bra clasp. Then his mouth is on her and her bra falls to the side of the couch.

She's gasping and arching against him, her fingers digging into his hips, and he revels in the feeling. Lanie's passionate by nature but this… this is something he wanted but didn't anticipate. Then again, everything he's ever guessed about Lanie has almost always been entirely wrong. He's actually thrilled to find that he's wrong about this too.

She reaches for the elastic waist of his sweats right about the time he remembers they're still on the couch and the couch, despite it's comfort, is not the place for their first time. Hell, neither is the situation, but she's here and she's being all sorts of comforting by just existing and that's enough. Well, okay, that's not totally true.

It's nowhere near enough.

But the whimper she makes when he pulls away tells him that she wants more too so he presses his lips to her cheek and then the edge of her jaw before letting his breath waft warmly over her ear. She shivers, violently, and he can't stop his smirk.

"Not here."

Then he's shifting off the couch and he's not actually all that shocked when she moves with him. She's standing in front of him, and he can't stop himself from wrapping his arms around her and kissing her slowly. She responds, her warm hands resting on his chest and they stay like that until she pulls away.

The mood shifts as he holds out a hand, and it's his question of consent. They've crossed a line, but they can always take a half a step back. Things have changed, there's no debating that, but they don't have to go all the way. He wants to, and the heat of her response from moments ago tells him she wants to as well. But then, with the emotion and the raw wounds…

She places her hand in his and he has his answer.

When they make it to his bedroom, he shuts the door out of habit. She's already backing across the room and he's a little surprised that she hasn't taken a moment to look around. But then, she's lowering herself to the bed and he realizes Lanie Parish is in his bedroom and he doesn't care that she's not taking the time to snoop.

He crawls up the bed to her, fusing his mouth to hers in another firey kiss. This time, he doesn't hold her back when she reaches for his belt and he lets her push his pants and his boxer briefs down his hips. They get them off with some sort of twisted take on teamwork, then she's the one overdressed and he's doing her the favour of getting rid of her pants. He pauses when she's completely naked beneath him, pressing the entirety of his body against hers just to take in the feeling. His fingers slide between her thighs and he's thrilled to find her wet and ready. He's a generous lover, but he just wants her and he doesn't want to wait.

The condoms are in his bedside table. Cliched, but effective and he rolls it on his length before positioning himself at her entrance. She holds her breath in anticipation and it's a thrill to see she's just as effected by it as he is. He keeps his eyes locked on hers as he slides home and when he's seated to the hilt, her eyes flutter closed. He leans down, resting his cheek against hers as he starts to thrust.

Her hands are gripping his hips and his are supporting his body weight at her shoulders and she's warm and wet and slick and he's pretty sure he's just died and gone to heaven. Heaven wrapped in a tiny, explosive, definitely panting package and he's not sure how long he's going to be able to hold back. It's that realization that has him sliding a hand between them, finding her clit and rubbing it in time with his thrusts. Her breath outright hitches in her chest and her hips start to move of their own accord. Her hands splay across his ass, guiding him and as he looks down at her, he realizes even that is not conscious on her part.

He almost stops moving when he realizes exactly how close to the edge he is, but then she chokes on air and her eyes open wide. Her entire body tenses and he can feel her fluttering around him. With one final shove, she cries out and he groans his release.

They lay together, panting, before he levers himself off of her and heads to the bathroom to deal with the condom. He comes back with two bottles of water from the kitchen and she's still splayed out, naked, on the sheets. He smirks.

"You'll be warmer underneath."

She sits up, comfortable in her nudity, and accepts the bottle he tosses at her. "Considering you wanted to kick me out an hour ago, I wasn't sure I was invited to stay."

He climbs onto the other side of the bed, under the covers, and looks at her seriously. "You're always invited, Lain."

He wonders for an instant if she's going to cry on him, but instead, she leans over to kiss him slowly. He knows what she's trying to say and he's glad for it. She wants to be there. She wants to be with him and even if this isn't the ideal way for them to start, neither of them can deny that they have started something. He holds up the blankets and she crawls beneath them. He tucks her close and he's actually not surprised when she snuggles into his side.

In the morning, it's not awkward or weird and she steals a piece of toast before heading off to a body on Broadway with a sweet kiss and a shockingly shy smile. It's just after she leaves that he realizes he doesn't have a car, but he can't find it in himself to care.

He just found the best cure for an irrationally guilty conscience and her name is Lanie Parish.

I've been utterly dying to write this scene. And some more Lanie/Esposito smut. So it all worked in my favour. I've been missing these two. Heck, I've been writing the same paper for two weeks and I'm starting to miss Castle. Except even Rome is at the completely procedural stage, so I'm procrastinating writing it because it takes so much more mental effort than fluff.

Still, Rome is the one I'm going to look at as soon as this dumb paper's out of the way. I think all of my muses are on strike, which is actually not necessarily a funny pun to make considering the strike bargaining that's going on at my university.

But that's politics and you guys really just want to read about Lanie and Esposito, which you've already done, so now that you have, will you do me a favour and review? 'Cause I'd really appreciate it. A lot. Kay?