And here's the final section, part three. This takes place much later, in the interim between episodes 5x01 and 5x02, partway through the summer and partway through Javier's suspension. I wanted to look into what Javier ended up doing with himself during that time; I also wanted to give Esplanie something of a 'happy ending' without conflicting with where they are now in canon.

Hope you enjoy the result.



May passed quickly, and its little sister June followed in its footsteps. Every station was saying that this was the hottest summer on record; every day, the heat index drove all the neighborhood kids to play in fire hydrants, lie in wait for ice cream trucks, and test for themselves to see if eggs really did cook on hot concrete.

Senator William Bracken was ahead in the polls. Fifty-nine to forty-one in the upcoming reelection. Sometimes, Javier caught the news. When he did, he turned it off. Bracken, now, was the one with true reasons to be afraid. Coonan was dead. Lockwood was dead. Cole Maddox was dead too, and that was all right. Beckett had nothing left to prove to anyone, and by extension, neither did he. Bracken could have his headlines. Javier preferred ESPN.

This morning, he was out for a run. It was different, being his own person. But he found patterns. Kept a few old ones, created a few new ones. For someone so used to being part of a collective, he thought he was doing pretty well on his own, adjusting as well as could be expected for being incommunicado with the Twelfth. Beckett hadn't contacted him again, apart from a brief, heartfelt 'thank you' call in the second week of May. Not just for running after her, she'd said, but for fixing damaged goods. He'd smiled when she'd said that, not realizing until then how much he'd needed his own advice. As for Ryan…well, he still couldn't bring himself to dwell on that. No progress. And every day, he woke up and had to re-learn the feeling of that phantom limb. But at least now he felt like change was possible. When you took things one day at a time, that was the best you could ask for.

And then there was Lanie. The Twelfth carried on, and he imagined she carried on along with it. They still weren't back together. As far as they both knew, they still wanted different things, and he knew that would take a long, long time to untangle, if they ever even could. She spent the majority of her weeks at work, and sometimes - every once in a while - Javier's cell phone might ring with her picture. The reverse happened, too. Sometimes.

You couldn't ask for paradise. But at least now, they kept in touch. Verbally besides sexually. At least he knew…they both knew. And for now, knowing where they stood seemed like enough, especially with the relief of knowing it wasn't quicksand.

Javier relished the burn of his lungs as he beat the pavement up Riverside, stopping at the top to catch the view, and a few takes of oxygen. Before he was ready, he felt the leash go taut, and he wrapped it around his hand again, just for good measure.

"Where you think you're goin'?" he teased his companion for the day. The dog looked up, almost with a smile on his face, his tail batting back and forth like a sock on a windshield wiper. Javier laughed. "A'right, a'right. Man."

He scanned downhill, trying to decide how best to avoid the satanic intersection he was facing up ahead…when a face up ahead caught his eye. He stopped there, and he felt his own face being pulled into a smile. She saw him too, and she waved back.

The dog tugged again; Javier decided to compromise. With a quick command change, he started walking toward her. Soon as she saw the dog, Lanie folded her arms, shook her head, and let out a laugh that looked to equivalate 'I'll be damned.' Then she changed directions to meet him halfway.

They met up in the middle. He raised his free hand as a visor, squinting into the 10:30 sun.

"Well, look at you!" Lanie called, soon as she was close enough.

Javier shrugged. "Thought it'd make a cool hobby."

"Excuse me, I believe I was talking to your hairy companion over here," she teased. Being careful - she was in pumps - she crouched down and ruffled the fur around the dog's neck, laughing a bit at the lather of wet kisses and cold nose. "What's his name?"

"Cody. Don't get too attached; he's not mine. Likes you, though. Eat any bacon in the last forty-eight hours?"

Lanie gave Cody one more scruff around the ears and a kiss on the forehead before she stood up, also ignoring the 'bacon' thing. "Whose is he?"

"He's part of a training program. Trains dogs in all the basics; housebreaking, gettin' along with kids, break-in protection, handicap aid; then they send 'em out to vets just gettin' home from the sandbox. Helps PTSD, physical therapy, plus it drops the depression rate like it's hot. A buddy of mine got me the hookup."

She did that thing where she cocked her head at him like she wasn't sure whether to laugh or be impressed. "You are training therapy dogs."

"Dog. Singular. Just Cody here; we'll see how it goes after that. The paperwork took a while to clear me for this. Guess they had to make sure I wasn't buildin' a mutt army in my basement; I dunno."

"Well, I think it's sweet."

"Thank you."

Lanie gave an apologetic wince, then. "I've…gotta get in to work…"

"Oh. Psh. Right, yeah. No problem."

"You watch out for him, now. He's a runner," she warned.

"How do you know? You met this dog two seconds ago."

Her smile turned into a smirk that warned of forthcoming sass; she smoothly replied, "That's who I was talking to."

Javier gave her a look, but that quickly broke into a grin. He couldn't help but sound just a little more affectionate than most would've. "Go on, Doc."

"You boys behave, now."

"Count on it!" he called as she walked away. For a few moments, he watched her go. Then Cody pawed at his shoe. With a smirk, he looked down. "I know; hot, right? We like her. We like her a lot. Little complicated, though. But - "

"Javier Esposito!"

He looked up - or rather, downhill. Lanie was two-thirds of a block away, standing there with one hand on her hip, her chin tilted back, one eyebrow raised, and a poker face ten seconds away from splitting ear-to-ear.

"I'm goin', I'm goin'!" he hollered back with a laugh, raising his palms in innocence.

With what looked like an eyeroll, she turned and continued down toward the subway to 30th, and Javier waited, this time, until she was completely out of sight. Only then did he start walking again, and only then did he finish his thought.

"She's a little complicated. But she's worth it. She's a healer, y'know. You gotta hold onto those when you find 'em." Cody wagged his tail, and Javier looked over his shoulder. "Yeah. She's worth it." The dog started to canter again, and Javier matched him with a jog, flicking the switch back from sentiment to snark. "'Course, what do you know? Your last honey was a sofa. And we've learned our lesson about that, haven't we? Yeah. Thought so."

The whole admittedly one-sided exchange was interrupted by a trill from his pocket. Javier used the first 'DO NOT WALK' light as an excuse to fish out his phone and check the screen. He had one new text message.

U & Cody exclusive now, or r u free this Friday night?

His grin got a little broader, and he dropped his phone back in his pocket as the light changed to 'WALK.' He'd text her back in a quick couple of minutes. Just as soon as he tackled this next stretch of hill.




And high up above or down below

When you're too in love to let it go

If you never try, you'll never know

Just what you're worth…


Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try


To fix you.




That's it. I just have a lot of feelings about this story. So I hope they translated well.

As I say on every fic of mine: If anyone wants to join a roleplay forum, there are two paragraphs (one in bold, one full of links) toward the middle of my author profile that will give you more information.

This fic is one of my dearest pet projects, so please, if you wouldn't mind taking a minute to leave a review, I would really appreciate that. You guys are great for reading. And special thanks to Marine, who read this first and convinced me to publish.

Peace and love, all.