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This one was inspired by my suffocating 84-degree weekend, plus - oddly enough - Matthew Morrison's single "Summer Rain." Add a certain book title and a dose of Esplanie, and the inspiration was obvious. ;)

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It was all over the city. In an ironic turn, their own personal fiction had become their current hell of a reality, picking off every central air-conditioning unit in greater New York. The worst had rolled in. A heat wave.

Despite the two very justified complaints she filed - and the one mumbled offer to change his gender for him - Lanie's landlord was still claiming his hands were tied. Which meant that her apartment was an insufferable eighty degrees and climbing. She was too stubborn to back down on the vacation day she'd taken, or she would've sought refuge in the morgue. As it was, there wasn't a cool sanctuary in all of Manhattan, and it was all Lanie could do to keep waving a magazine at herself, slouched in fatigue on the couch. Baking slowly. That was her.

Apparently her boyfriend hadn't gotten the memo. When the door started opening, Lanie didn't have the energy to get up, though she did consider yelling 'Run for the north border and take me with you.'

"Oye, chica, I dunno about you but - " He already seemed to be moving at half-speed in the first place, but once the rush hit him, he slowed like a turtle in La Brea. "Whoa. Okay, so, your place. Not any better."

"What was your first clue," Lanie deadpanned. Her usual greeting, something to the effect of 'Hey handsome,' didn't really pan out.

"So, this a bad time, or...?"

"No, please, come on in, tan up a little, you're lookin' peaked. More power to ya."

If there was any sarcasm in that, Javier chose to ignore it. He shut the door behind him, crossing to the other end of her couch and sinking down onto it, exhaling into the stillness. They hadn't really factored this in when they'd planned to hang out for the day. "So. Now what?"

"I have no idea, but here. You're gonna need this." Lanie passed him another magazine from the table by her elbow.

Javier took it with a nod, then did a double-take at the cover. "Shemar Moore?"

"Oh, do not even judge. You are not always here."

Eh, worked for him. Either that, or the 'irrational jealousy' part of his brain had already melted. Javier stopped commenting and fanned himself the same way, and neither of them thought to say anything for the next several minutes. Could've been an hour, actually; keeping track wasn't really a priority.

After forever, Javier lifted a hand partway off the couch. "What about…"

"None there either."

"Mm."

The silence came back again. If they weren't living the existence of doomed rotisserie chickens, they might've actually been thinking up places to go elsewhere, anywhere with air conditioning. But, that notion was sapped right out of the room along with the oxygen. At least if they had to suffer, there was a sick comfort in not doing it alone.

A dog barked, somewhere on the street below. A car backfired. Some kid was yelling in Chinese. None of those had any relation to Javier sitting up all of a sudden. "That's it." Lanie didn't pay any particular mind, until he pulled his shirt over his head.

"Whoa, whoa whoa. Uh-uh." She sat forward like a bolt. "Just what exactly do you think you're doing?"

"It's two-hundred fifty-thousand degrees in here; I can't take my shirt off?" He must've been missing something, not like it wasn't too late anyway.

"Not up in here, you can't." Lanie went so far as to slide back as far as she could to the other side of the couch. "It is way too hot to be…doin' that." And they both knew exactly what 'that' was. Which was exactly where this would be heading.

Javier laughed. Couldn't help it. "Oh, come on. That's seriously your problem?" He gave a casual shrug, despite the dinging sounds his ego was making. "So resist. You can handle it."

"I am a mad black woman in a pizza oven shaped like a sublet. Don't try me."

"I'm not stripping, I'm takin' a pass on heatstroke, cari."

"Are you forgetting how we started?" Lanie countered.

"No. It involved alcohol."

"And that." She nodded toward his shirtlessness. "I mean it, boy, you keep away from me."

He raised both palms in surrender, trying not to laugh. "Fine. Fine. I will stay way, way over here. Now, can we get back to not-thinking about what to not-do besides fry? Unless you got somethin' better in mind."

"You just wait. I'm thinking," Lanie scolded.

"Of course…" Oh, crap. He had that damn look in his eye again. As if in sync with exactly what she didn't want to want him to do, Javier stretched an arm out across the back of the couch. "You know, nothin' wrong with it if we - "

"No thank you, wrong answer, hang up and try again," the M.E. interrupted. "I thought you said we were avoiding heatstroke?" Not that it was working so well for her at the moment; good Lord, if that man was a calendar…no. Resist. She batted his hand down from near her shoulder. "Are you tryin' to kill me?"

"Kill, you, no; that'd make my job harder. Now, if you'd said s - "

"Ahp bah bah. Nope. Go there and I hurt you."

"Ooh, now that's somethin' we could do all day," he grinned. "Unleash the wrath. No, really, I've never seen this in action. C'mon, show me. Is it like Elektra, or is it more like Halle Berry in Catwoman?"

It was a shame that her boyfriend was going to end up in the newspapers as a mangled corpse in the morning. She'd liked this one. Reaching for the empty water bottle on the side table, Lanie chucked it at him, not that it stopped him from borderline cracking up. "Go 'head, laugh. Keep it up and you'll be on ice for the rest of the week."

"Yeah, uh-huh. I can see how well that'll go." But his comment didn't earn him any more threats of violence. Because it hit her.

Ice!

It was Lanie's turn to smirk like a wicked, wicked plan was in order. "Come on," she said suddenly, bounding off of the couch. "And leave the shirt. I think I know just what to do to cool down." Then we can heat up.

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"Barbara, it's just me, honey," Lanie called over the gate between buildings. Carefully, she slipped a hand through the wood slats to unhook the latch.

Javier reached around her shoulder to help, then held the gate as they scooted in. He was glad he'd thought to put his gun back on his belt on the way out of the apartment: this looked like a 'get-shanked-and-deposited' kind of spot. It wasn't that much more comforting when an "Okay, you got it cookie" came hollered from the window above.

"So, you gonna tell me what the plan is, or is it a surprise for after I save us from gang members?" he asked uneasily.

"You wouldn't be doin' all the work. I carry mace," Lanie evaded smoothly. Under Javier's watchful eyes, she dug through a stack of crates and tarps in the back until she found the one she wanted, and she let out a cackle of pure triumph. "Got it."

"Got what?"

Lanie straightened up, inspecting her find. "Barb always says I can borrow this if I need to. I just never had a reason," she explained slyly. Only then did she turn around, grinning like that damn cartoon cat, and she handed over a big white cardboard box. "Think you can take it from here?"

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Going back to the apartment for this one was pretty quickly ruled off-limits, so the obvious first choice they agreed upon was the roof. They took the stairwell to the top, found it perfectly abandoned - a view to boot - and within minutes, Javier had the pool unfolded, inflated, and had managed to find the service hose coiled near the central air unit.

"Almost set," he said over his shoulder. Lanie was sitting on an edge of the unit, swinging her legs back and forth, tilting her face to the sun. A scorcher or not, it was beautiful out. There weren't too many days like this.

"Good," she commended, watching his back while he filled it up. Very good. She slid down and hopped off her perch, coming over to swirl a few fingers through the pool, testing the water temp. "Ooh. Perfect." It really was. Not freezing, not tepid; just cool. Cool enough to soothe away the heat. That heat, anyway. In that line of thinking, she tilted to wink up at him. "And wouldja look at that. Just big enough for two."

Javier gave her a mock-innocent look as he leaned over to crank the water supply off. "Oh? Are you…suggesting something, Doc? I would have no idea."

"Well, just that…watchin' you do all that manual labor there…almost enough to make a girl feel guilty."

He was in front of her then, and he slid his hands slowly down her arms, getting closer. "Oh? S'that so?"

"Mmhm. In fact, I'd say you could use a cool-down." Leaning up to kiss him, Lanie stopped short, their noses practically touching when she turned away.

His response fell somewhere between a laugh and a groan. "Oh, you are a vicious tease, Doc."

"That's okay," Lanie replied, eyes flashing with mischief. "Think I've got a better plan." Exactly the kind of cool-down I had in mind. Her arms wrapping around his neck, and his around her waist, she turned suddenly, twisting them both off-balance. With his laugh, her shriek and a splash, they fell together into the pool, all two feet of it, and it was no more than seconds before what was left of their obstacles were discarded over the side.

Thanks to that sun, they'd dry anyway, and in a few hours none of the neighbors would know the difference.

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Whoo! Good times. ^^ (Obviously there was no actual rain in this oneshot, but that was a stylistic decision; I still highly recommend listening to Matt Morrison's "Summer Rain" because it's awesome and Matt Morrison is fantastic. :D )

I should mention/re-mention that I don't own anything you recognize, including the subtle reference to Tyler Perry's 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' or anything else I may refer to. I'll also remind that there's information on my profile (boldface type) about a Castle RPG forum for those interested.

Enjoy this installment? Please, let me know! Just a quick minute to tell me your favorite parts about it will really make my day. It might even inspire faster updates… ;)

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