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Unfamiliar

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"Go ahead, bro," he whispered into his drink. "It's cool, bro. No I don't mind." He scoffed before draining the glass and slamming it on the gleaming wooden bar. The bartender looked up. "Sorry," he mumbled. He rubbed his callused fingers over the dent he had made as the bartender took his glass. He listened to the sounds of the game on the flat screen, the chatter of the crowd, the sound of ice in tall glasses. The familiar seemed foreign to him. Everything had changed.

"I know we always watch the game together Javi, but with the baby on the way..."
"Nah it's fine. Go home to your wife. It's cool, bro."

His smile had fooled him, but had he meant it to? Didn't some part of him expect his partner, his best friend, would see through him. Hadn't he hoped that he would finally understand? Things had changed; everyone around him was different. Castle had Beckett and Ryan was married with a baby on the way. But he was the same. Now it was just him and his scotch at some unfamiliar bar that he used to go to with Ryan. He couldn't depend on them for company anymore. He stared into his glass; a hard, angry stare.

"Javi, why don't you come watch the game at my place? You know Jenny's been dying to see you."
"...nah...I think I'll just go home and catch up on some sleep. That O'Reiley case really wore me out. Tell Jenny she better be takin good care of my godson, though."

Another lie, another smile; was it all his fault? Was he the one pushing them away? He placed his forehead against his rough palms. While everyone else was out living their lives, he was getting drunk in some crowded bar that he hadn't visited in months. What was he afraid of...?

"I'm afraid..." Ryan murmured softly.
"Afraid of what?"
He paused, allowing Javi enough time to search his blue eyes for a reason. "Not being a good enough father," he finally admitted.
"Well...you can't be worse than my old man." They both gave a faint, meaningless laugh. Ryan opened his mouth to pursue the topic further but changed his mind. Concern still wrinkled his boyish face.

His finger tapped aimlessly against the cell phone he had place on the counter. Did he have the strength to make amends, to adapt to this new life? Some part of him knew there was no choice; go with the flow or let it sweep you away.
His partner answered on the third ring. "Ryan."
"Hey, bro, I just..." he trailed off.
"Javi? You okay?"
"Yeah," he cleared his throat. "Yeah, I just needed to say that I think you're gonna be a really great dad and you're gonna have one lucky kid."
There was a moment of silence then, "Thanks...that means a lot to me, man."
"No problem," he smiled. "Oh, and, uh, one more thing. If the offer still stands, I'd really like to watch the game with you and Jenny."
"Of course."
"Thanks, bro."
"Javi, it's good to have you back."



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