Author's note: Ugh...sorry. :(

It's been months months! since they updated, and Javier Esposito feels awful for leaving their readers hanging.

Not as awful, he thinks, as his partner feels.

Ryan's had a hangdog expression on his face for a few days, ever since he got a message asking if the story had been abandoned.

The Irish detective had fired off a hasty reply, something about being unexpectedly slammed with cases to solve...er, papers to write (neither of them wants their readers to know that the duo behind the story isn't a really a solo act consisting of a struggling grad student)...and not having any time to do the story justice. And now here they are ten weeks after their last update and they really have got to get a chapter out.

"Bro," Esposito whispered, trying to catch his partner's attention. "Psst...Ryan."

The other detective finally looks up from his computer, something like desperation coloring in the dark shadows under his eyes.

It's more than just the cases, Esposito knows, though those have been trying enough. Three double homicides, another they thought might be a serial, a couple of kids. It's been a rough couple of months for their team.

And of course, there was the case where Ryan got hurt. Nothing too bad, nothing life-threatening, but enough to leave the guy laid up for a few days.

"At least I'll have time to write," the younger man had said one day when Esposito had stopped by the house to hang out with his partner.

Alas, it had been an overly hopeful wish. Kevin Ryan had been far to drugged up, and the little he'd written and happily emailed to Javier with an overabundance of smiley emoticons in the note about the chapter hadn't made a lick of sense.

Well, actually, it had made sense objectively, but Esposito just didn't feel that it fit into their overall plot, even if he did think some of their readers would appreciate a sudden and unexpected foray into pure NC-17 territory for their beloved Nikki and Rook.

Beyond the cases and Ryan's injury though, he knows the other man has had a hard time lately. Jenny's been moody pregnancy hormones, no doubt and that combined with her one a.m. cravings for Tibetan food have meant that the Irish detective hasn't been getting much rest, too busy either rushing over to Queens and hoping that the Himalayan Yak is still open or suffering her wrath and trying to sleep on the couch.

So Esposito sort of understands the hunted look in the other man's eyes.

He cocks his head, darting his eyes toward the breakroom, and holds up two fingers. Ryan nods, his gaze slanting toward Castle and Beckett who are trying to look inconspicuous, as if they didn't just emerge from Interrogation One looking slightly happier than usual.

Their innocent act might be more effective, Esposito thinks, if there weren't a hickey blooming just behind Castle's left ear.

Nonetheless, as long as those two are more concerned with each other than with the other members of their team, he and Ryan might be able to pull off a quick chapter planning session in the breakroom.

Pushing back from his desk, the Latino detective stands, glances around furtively, and heads toward the breakroom, trusting his partner to follow at the prearranged time.

The breakroom is empty, and Javier busies himself making a fresh pot of coffee for himself and his partner, knowing Ryan could probably use it.

"So," he says without looking up from his task when the breakroom door opens and shuts behind him. "I was thinking about the next chapter."

When his partner doesn't respond, he glances up from his rapidly filling mug, turning his head to look over his shoulder.

"The next chapter?" asks the sharply dressed woman standing behind him. "The next chapter of what?"

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