So! Welcome, fanfic readers, to another ongoing, multi-chapter event of story-arcing proportions. ;) This story is decidedly Javier-centric. He's my favorite character, and I feel that there's a LOT to be said about his backstory, and a lot of avenues about him that haven't been explored. Since Mr. Andrew Marlowe isn't getting around to it so much, I've decided to have a go.

The main focus will be Javier himself (that's why it's listed as such), but it will also include healthy, heaping doses of Esplanie (since, come on, we all know I'm a fangirl). XD They're 'in it' together. And, I feel the need to say this: This story is in a universe all to itself. It does not fit into the timelines of any of my other stories, nor do I consider it to follow canon, due to the number of OCs. I've pretty much created Javier's family here, and decided where he grew up, so if Mr. Marlowe wants to prove me wrong later, let him go ahead. That's what fanfiction is all about, after all: creative liberty. ;)

Aside from Esplanie et al, this story will also include bits of Beckett, possibly others, AND each chapter will begin with an 'excerpt' from a 'Derrick Storm' novel. Bam, said the lady.

Anyway. Needless to say, I don't own Castle or any of its characters. (I DO own the concepts for the Esposito family and any other/villainy OCs I feel the need to use. Note: if any of them look familiar, it's just because they also appear on my Castle RPG board. I'm not an idea thief; they were my idea in the first place.) xD

So read on, and let the adventure begin…

~For Travis, one of the good guys. Love you, friend. 1993-2011~



Once upon a time, there was a hero. It was never something he called himself, nor did the people who knew him, in words at least. But from as early on as the sun rises, they had to have known. And they did, with every constant reminder of where else they might have been. Once upon a time, words didn't matter. Only light in the dark.

-Richard Castle, 'Storm Rising'




"I told you, Demarco, I don't know what you want with me. I don't have what you want."

"You're lyin' to me, Ja-vi-er." He tutted his threat with acid dripping from every syllable, as much of an insult behind them as if he'd outright called him 'boy.' Only in this place could your past so quickly strip you of what you'd gained. Higher ground; dignity. Taking his pause, he leaned down toward the kneeling man's ear. "I got time," he whispered, through the grin of a snake. "It's you who don't."

Javier didn't flinch, he didn't waver, and he didn't reply. He stared him down, every muscle in his neck held tense, jaw set, eyes hard and narrow. Then a blow struck the back of his head, and his world went dark.




~Three days earlier~




Dr. Lanie Parish, M.E, knew she shouldn't have been all that surprised to see this detective in particular show up out of thin air beside her exam table, let alone carrying a pastry bag in one hand and a vanilla chai tea in the other. He was spontaneous like that, which was part of why she'd been dating him for several months now, and part of why a smile came to her face, accepting the offerings. "Go on."

"I was thinkin'. I'm goin' back home this weekend to see my ma and them. You should come with me."

Well. Talk about some of that famous spontaneity. Lanie tried to access what she was famous for - words - but it took a moment or two before any came. "I…'them,' as in, your whole family?" she blinked.

Esposito shrugged one shoulder, folding his arms as he leaned the other against the cabinet. "Yeah. I mean, not every single person I'm related to, I'd spare you that, but… Nah, just my ma, dad, sisters. They've heard a lot about you. They'll wanna meet you."

"And…you're sure about this?"

If he was registering that it was a big step, then he'd obviously done some thinking about it, because Javier only grinned. "Relax, cariño, they don't bite. Hell, I don't think my dad's said a sentence more'n he had to since 1997. They'll love you."

Huh. Was that ever some new information to process. Lanie took a minute to do just that, and once she had, she felt herself start to grin the same way. "Yeah? …Yeah, okay. I'd be onboard with that."



"All right then." The detective took a step closer. "It's settled." He raised his hands to rest on her arms, and unconsciously echoed her soft smile with one of his own as his forehead touched hers. "I'll pick you up tomorrow afternoon, we'll drive in together."

"Sounds good." She laced her hands together behind his neck, swaying slightly from one foot to the other, side to side. "Meeting your family, huh? I'm not walkin' into a trap, am I?" she teased.

Javier laughed, and Lanie chewed her lip to keep from joining him, fruitless as it was. "I believe my ma actually threatened to cut me out of the photo albums if I didn't bring you around. If it's a trap, the worst they got is interrogation. And I got all the good genes on that one."

"That you certainly did," Lanie hummed, then raised a mock-scolding eyebrow. "Those better have been all good things they've heard about me."

"Oh, glowing review," Javier promised, his last before the gap was gone and his lips met hers. Lanie's eyes fell shut and she savored the moment, almost as much as the revelation that he'd been talking about her; that he wanted her to go with him. It was the kind of step she'd deny ever having wanted out loud, but as long as she kept the excitement in her head - and, all right, the butterfly-y thing in her stomach - then nobody had to know. Hey, she was allowed that much, right? Okay then. Off her back, please.

He took his time pulling away, hands lingering on her arms as his eyes flicked a protective once-over, coming back to meet hers. "You good here?"

Lanie sighed and cast a weary look at all the categorizing she still had to do, and reluctantly detangled from him, knowing it had to be done eventually. "Yeah. Perlmutter and Henson are both out with the stomach flu, so that leaves a lotta bagging and tagging for me to do. I'll get through it."

"You want help?"

The good doctor answered his thoughtfulness with a playful eye. "Solve this damn case and it'll be all the help in the world," she returned.

He grinned again as he stepped away. "Your call. I'll do my best."

"Beckett got you out on assignment?"

"Mmhm. Headin' uptown now with the crime scene photos to show to the manager, then I gotta go pick up the sister-in-law."

"Mm, she didn't do it," Lanie estimated.

"Medical proof or guess and a wager?"

"The second one."

"Twenty bucks?"

"I'd take dinner instead," she flirted.

"Chica, you win this one, and I'll raise you dinner and a show." Esposito stopped halfway through the door, leaning on the handle to smirk at her. "Thanks for the yes."

"Thanks for the pick-me-up," she breezed back. As he left, Lanie smiled to herself, reflecting for all its cheesy worth that she might not've just been talking about the bear claw. Though that was a perk too. Lord help me. With a chuckle, she slid an evidence stack aside and dug into the bag. Her sorting could wait another five minutes.




"Wow. Meeting his family, huh?" The smirk that graced Kate Beckett's face was familiarly mischievous. "I didn't know the two of you were that serious."

Lanie shuffled the hangers in her closet, pulling out three more, then returning one and crossing to the mirror. "News to me." Well, that was kind of a lie. To be honest, Lanie was totally aware of - and comfortable with - the state of hers and Javier's relationship. She just hadn't thought of this stuff yet. But she knew where Kate was going, all right, and 'downplay' was the word to deal with that. Besides, there were other matters here. Lanie held up two of the hangers, a subtly sparkly dress on each. "Which one doesn't scream 'ten cents a lap dance,'" she asked flatly.

Kate raised an eyebrow. "Am I supposed to answer that?"

Tossing her friend a flat look, the M.E. put both down and picked up the most conservative dress she owned. It had a collar. "Sometimes I forget why I like you."

"Happy to remind you of that," Kate snarked back, looking both amused and satisfied with herself. She uncrossed her legs and flopped onto her stomach, hugging one of Lanie's throw pillows at the foot of the bed. "So you guys are going to be staying there the whole weekend?"

"No; I actually asked your help packing for my health."

"Well, you never know, you could just be calling in a favor. You're better at this than I am."

"Not today, and I am calling in a favor, which is why I'm asking you, grey or purple."

"Purple. And take the scarf, your blue one. It'll go with the shoes."

"Thank you," Lanie pronounced, and immediately rummaged through her second drawer for the scarf in question.

Kate observed her for a minute in silence. One corner of her mouth quirked slowly upward. "You really want to make a good impression, don't you."

Lanie barely turned, glancing at Kate over her shoulder, light voice betraying the heat that fled to her cheeks. "…I have no idea what you're talkin' about."

"Lanie." The detective sat up again, swinging her legs around to introduce her feet to carpet. "What is it you're always telling me? 'Just because you don't see it doesn't mean everyone else doesn't see it?' It's obvious."

"You get paid to detect. I highly doubt that's fair."

"Look at you! You're obsessing over what to wear, which you never do, because you want his family to like you." Beckett's smiling face came up beside her friend's in the mirror, and the former plucked a grey skirt from the scowling woman's hand, swapping it for a beige one.

"Now hold on - "

"Hold on nothing. I happen to think it's…adorably sweet."

"Call me 'adorable' again and the only thing you'll be 'sweet' on is Morphine," the M.E. sassed, giving the cop an eyebrow with a reputation of its own.

Kate's retreat was only mild at best, with her 'resigned' face reading more like 'Okay, sure,' but she retreated nonetheless, giving a brief, knowing touch to her friend's arm. "I'm happy for you guys. Both of you; I really am."

"Oh, you are, huh?"

"Of course I am. You guys are practically family."

"Mm-hm." With a wily look, Lanie swirled away, hanger in hand. "Well I'm happy you're happy I'm happy. Now that everybody's clear on where we all stand, can we get back to work and maybe finish this before I get old?"

"Gee, why not," Kate teased, giving a good-natured roll of her eyes. But just as she returned to Lanie's overnight bag to sift through the items for inspection, her attention was called over her shoulder.

"Hey, Beckett?"

The brunette turned, eyes meeting her friend's. "Yeah?"

"Thanks for not saying 'I told you so.' I would've hated to have to hurt you." And she gave a grin, one that Kate gave back.

"Yeah, well. I'm saving it up for later."

She couldn't decide whether to laugh or scowl when a throw pillow thunked the back of her head.




"So you're really takin' Lanie to meet your family?"

Ryan cast a glance both ways before he stepped off the curb, unwrapping the Chicago-style hot dog he'd just bought for himself. He and Esposito were hoofing it back to the car after a follow-up questioning, and the closest parking spot had been four blocks away - maybe not the best time to ask for extra ketchup.

Esposito had smartly taken a pass on the snackage. His brow furrowed. "Yeah, why not?"

"No, nothin', it's good. Just surprised. You guys've only been goin' out for a few months, right?"

"Longer'n that." Wasn't it? Besides, it wasn't like relationships had a standard itinerary. First base on Date One, Third on Date Four, Meet the Family on Week Thirteen, the 'Where Are We Going' talk on Week Forty-Two, Esposito imagined. He stepped onto the sidewalk with the rest of foot traffic just as the light changed and the crosswalk filled with cars, Ryan right beside him. "How long before you let Jenny meet yours?"

He knew for a fact it'd been three weeks. "'Kay, so maybe you've got a point," Kevin relented. "Anyway, I - ah, damn it. You got a napkin?"

Sighing dramatically, Javier handed over a stack of three that he'd taken from the hot dog stand. When your partner was Ryan, you learned to pre-think any situation that could involve him condiment-splattering himself.

"Thanks." The Irish detective took all three and stuck two in his pocket, using a corner of the third to blot at a ketchup stain on his tie. "Anyway, I think it's a good idea. You're right, it's been long enough. She should. Y'know, if you're serious about it."

Javier flipped a shoulder. "True."

There was a pause, they walked opposite ways around a spilled ice-cream cone, and Kevin gave his partner a look of concern, suspicion, one eyebrow raised precariously. "…You are serious, right?"

"'Bout what?" Hey, if he's asking, he deserves it.

"Dude, Lanie. You screw around and Beckett's gonna kill you before even the Doc gets a chance. Like, evisceration. And you know she'll find a way to do it slowly."

"Re-lax, I'm serious enough." They passed a music shop, then an organic street-market, and the side-reflection in the windows told him when Ryan relaxed, nodded, aimed another bite of hot dog. "I'm the one who's voluntarily exposing her to people I'm related to. That should say plenty just by itself."

"Yeah, it's sayin' plenty to you, but what's it sayin' to her?"

"She was onboard with it," Javier relayed. "Actually, first off she reacted kinda like you."

"Walked into traffic?" Kevin smirked.

"She was surprised. But, then she really seemed to be into the idea. I think she's excited."

They joined another knot of pedestrians waiting for the 'Walk' signal. "Yeah? Well good for you guys."


"You tell her what she was walkin' into?"

"I told her it wasn't gonna be an interrogation, if that's what you mean."

Ryan swallowed his bite of hot dog and snickered. "Oh, man, you totally just lied to the one woman who can kill you without leaving evidence."

"Psh. What?"

"You heard me bro. I've met your mom. She interrogated me for God's sake and I'm not even sleeping with you."

"Yeah, well, it's not gonna happen like that." Esposito gave a decisive nod as if that was the last word on the subject.

"You know how it's normal for cops to dream about getting shot sometimes? Mine always have your mom in my hospital room when I wake up, standing over me with a hatchet."

His brow rumpled. "Dude, why would my mom be waving a hatchet at you when you just got shot?"

"'Cause so did you."


"Eh." Kevin paused to catch a scrap of relish in his mouth before it plummeted toward the sidewalk, napkin waiting at his chin. "It varies actually."

Huh. Javier pondered that a second, and then he shook his head. "Well, whatever. It shouldn't be that bad."

"I'm not sayin' it'll be bad, I'm just trying to figure out if you're brave or crazy."

Both, more'n likely. "Which one were you?" Esposito retorted.

"Dude, your family makes mine look sane."

"Oh yeah? What about that uncle of yours? The one with the fake handicap sticker on his car? And the…birdhouses?"

"…Okay, bad example."

"'Sides, it won't just be all the focus on Lanie. The girls are all comin' back to spend the weekend. With any luck Ma's attention's gonna be goin' in ten different directions the whole time."

Passing a trash can, Ryan balled up his hot dog wrapper and chucked it in under the grate, wiping his hands and mouth off with a new napkin. "And, you think your sisters aren't gonna wanna play twenty questions. Your sisters," he emphasized. "Are you really sure you're not smoking anything?"

"Man, what's with you?" They reached the car, and Javier stopped outside the driver's side door, giving his partner a confused-as-hell look. "One minute you're sayin' how great it is and the next you're tryin' to convince me I'm outta my mind."

"You are outta your mind." For some reason, there was a devious little glint in Kevin's eye, and Javier finally started to catch up. "But it's my job as your best friend to make sure you realize why. And since you answered everything without even noticing it - or tellin' me to shut up - I figure you pass." The Irishman smirked in triumph, added a "You're welcome," and slid into the passenger seat.

Huh. So he had. Would you look at that.

Opening the door, Javier shook his head, grumbled "Yeah, yeah," and got behind the wheel. Ryan should charge for this crap.




Streetlamps weren't protection enough. The sporadic, flickering pools of light against concrete barely offered any sanctuary from the dark, and here, in a neighborhood where the residents heard no evil, there was nothing unusual about one stricken girl's cries in the night.

Five minutes later, her body was left to the trash heap, and the demons fled to the shadows once again, another secret to be kept.

Around here, there were plenty.



(NO, the dead girl is not someone we know; I'll ease your minds on that one right now.) Interested where this is going? Eager to see how Javier (and Lanie) gets involved? Curious to meet his family? Stay tuned, there's more on the way. ;)

As always, anyone over 14 who's interested in a Castle RPG forum, see the bold section of my profile. Also, I LOVE and VERY much appreciate reviews, especially about favorite bits, so please do keep that in mind.