On the Rocks

Chapter 9

Early the next morning, Javier awoke to the sound of his cell phone buzzing on top of his dresser beside his bed. Upon seeing that it was still dark outside and the fact that he has been going on very little sleep ever since his partner had taken a bullet for him, Esposito thought about just ignoring it, but decided against it because he was a cop.

"Esposito," he stated sleepily without looking at the caller id.

"Javi, it's Jenny," Ryan's wife cried. "He's awake. Kevin's awake!"

That was all he needed to become fully awake as he quickly replied, "I'm on my way."

By the time Javier arrived at the hospital once again, he found that Beckett and Castle were already in the room with Jenny and his partner, who was still wearing the medical tube beneath his nose as he continued to lie back firmly against the pillows. Kevin was clearly exhausted and struggling to move and speak, but the important thing was the he was awake, which meant that he was going to be all right; that the former Marine would be able to make things right between them.

As soon as Esposito walked into the room and stood beside Castle, Kevin turned his head the best that he could and locked eyes with his partner, who finally spoke up saying, "I knew that you wouldn't give that scumbag, Harvick, the satisfaction of killing a New York detective. How are you feeling?"

"I'm not… not really sure," Kevin answered weakly and then looked away despondently. "I'm tired… and… soar."

"At least you're awake, which means you're going to be fine," Castle replied quickly to try to ease the sudden tension. "Thanks goodness too because I believe you owe me a couple hundred bucks from our poker game the other night."

Kevin turned to look at the writer and responded in confusion, "I don't remember… poker?"

Rick smiled as he said, "Gotcha. You're right, we never did play poker and you don't owe me any money. I just thought I'd… that I'd… never mind."

"I appre…ciate you trying to… lighten the mood, Castle," Ryan answered sincerely. "And Harvick? Did you…?"

"No, not yet, but we're going to find him," Kate replied confidently. "He's going to pay for hurting you like this."

It was then that Lanie walked into the room and spoke up saying, "Actually, it looks like your boy Harvick already has paid. It's so good to see that you're going to be all right, Kevin. How are you feeling?"

The Irish detective only smiled slightly as he was beginning to fade again, then Beckett looked over at Lanie as she asked, "What do you mean Kyle Harvick's already paid, Lanie? Is he… he's not dead, is he?"

"His body just came in before I came here," the precinct's medical examiner responded grimly. "I was going to call you, but then I got your message about Kevin waking and at the moment, he's more important. I'll head back to start the autopsy soon."

"I don't understand, why weren't we called down to the crime scene?" Castle asked.

Lanie answered, "It's because there was no crime scene. Kyle Harvick's body was delivered straight to the precinct, probably by whoever shot him."

Kate continued, "Which means that Harvick became a lose end to Davenport and whoever hired Kyle to steal the evidence from the locker."

"And that now it's going to be that much harder for us to find out who that is," Javier replied angrily. "Damn it! I thought I'd be happy to see Harvick dead, but a part of me was hoping I'd get the chance to do it myself."

"I know what you mean, but there are at least two more people responsible for what happened to Ryan and Tony," Castle responded coolly. "And I have no doubt that we'll find them so we can make them pay. Our record of catching the bad guys is quite impressive, if I do say so myself."

They all looked down at Ryan, who seemed to be on the verge of falling asleep again, so the detectives, writer, and medical examiner were all about to leave until Kevin suddenly reached out toward his partner and spoke weakly, "Don't leave just… just yet. Can I… we talk, alone?"

Jenny smiled and bent down to kiss her husband on his forehead as she gently rubbed her hand over his cheek, then looked back over at Esposito sternly as she said, "I'll be outside. You two take all the time you need, just please don't strain him, okay?"

"You have my word," Javier answered as everyone else left the room, followed shortly by his partner's wife, then the former Marine turned to look down at Kevin, but didn't say anything due to nerves.

"I wanted to… to thank you, Javi," Kevin spoke finally after he could no longer stand the silence that filled the room.

Esposito turned to look down at his partner with a confused look on his face as he replied, "I don't understand. Why are you thanking me? If anything, you should still be angry with me."

Ryan looked at his friend the best he could as Javier took a seat in the chair where he had been sitting more than anywhere else over the last several days, then he responded, "Because… you forgave me… and you saved… my life."

"It's because of me that you're in here," Javier answered bitterly. "You almost died, man! And now you're thanking me? It should be me thanking you. You took that bullet for me. It was you who saved my life. I only kept you from dying."

"I am so sorry, Kevin," Esposito continued after a long pause. "I never meant for my pride to cause this. If I had not allowed my anger toward you to put us both in a dangerous position… I don't know what I would have done if I lost you. I know that you did what you believed was right and it was the right thing to do. You are my brother, Kev. You always have been and you always will be. I never should have lost sight of that."

Kevin gave a small smile and then replied, "You're here now. And I heard… what you were saying while I… while I was still… unconscious. You've apologized… enough. I'll stick around to be… your pain in… the ass partner... until we retire."

Javier laughed out loud, then reached to take his partner's hand, and responded gently, "You better. Now, get some rest. You need to regain your strength and all of this talking can't be helping any. As I told you before, we will find them, everyone who's responsible for this mess, and we will make them pay. No one harms my brother and gets away with it."

Ryan slowly fell asleep once again, while Esposito remained at his bedside to watch over him. What he didn't realize was that Jenny was standing outside the room looking in at them through the window, as tears streamed down from her eyes. She smiled as she saw that the two of them were once again the partners that they were before the case that tried to tear them apart. Kevin still had a long road to recovery ahead of him, but she believed more now than she did yesterday that he'd survive.

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