Author's note: Alex, thank you for the idea, my friend...I hope I can do it justice. Sheep, thanks for the beta, love.

It had started innocently enough.

Well, if by 'innocently,' one really means 'mostly unintentionally.'

He still remembers the day his partner walked into the bullpen and couldn't quite look him in the eye. They hadn't been fighting; in fact, he thought they'd been working together better than ever.

But Kevin Ryan was a little shifty, a little jumpy all day, stepping back a bit too quickly when Esposito sidled up next to him in front of the murderboard with a new piece of evidence, giving a noncommittal shrug when Esposito offered to spring for lunch from their favorite Thai place down the street, rapidly shaking his head and muttering about nebulous plans with Jenny when Esposito asked if he wanted to catch a Knicks game sometime soon.

Esposito confronted him the next morning in the precinct gym, startling his partner as the other man finished a set of crunches, extending a hand and heaving Ryan to his feet. His partner, his friend — his brother — still wasn't meeting his eyes, and Esposito was sick of it.

"What the hell, bro?" he asked, even as Ryan tried to slip past him.

His partner just shook his head. "What the hell what?"

Esposito eyed him disbelievingly. "You know what. What's going on with you?"

He observed the battle — honesty or evasion — in Ryan's eyes for a moment, but finally the other man shrugged and scrubbed a hand over his flushed, sweaty face.

"Fine," the Irishman said. "I'll explain. Just give me a chance to get a shower and then I'll meet you up in the break room."

Esposito nodded, and watched as his partner turned and strode quickly into the locker room.

Twenty-five minutes later, Javier Esposito found himself with his eyes glued to a tiny screen, his thumb scrolling absently as he read, unable to tear himself away from the words — so many words.

"It's called fanfic," Ryan said in a low voice as Esposito finally stopped scrolling. "It's...they...it's a way for fans of movies or books or TV shows — whatever, really, sometimes even real people — to engage with the worlds they love."

Esposito stared at him dumbly, still processing that there was this whole body of work...that people actually wrote stories — very detailed stories — about him and Ryan.

Well, about their literary alter egos, Detectives Sean Raley and Miguel Ochoa, collectively known as "Roach."

Still, the characters were so obviously Esposito and his partner, and the way these writers had captured their speech patterns and looks and behavior...he turned and glanced out the break room window, certain that some of the fellow officers must have been clandestinely observing them and writing these stories in their free time, grossly misconstruing the nature of his relationship with his partner.

In front of him, said partner shifted awkwardly from foot to foot, and Esposito turned his attention back to Ryan.

"Esposito," the other man began. "'Javi, I–"

Esposito shook his head, handing Ryan's phone back to him and pushing himself up from his chair.

"S'okay, man," he assured his partner. "It's not like you're the one writing them."

Ryan looked away guiltily.

"Bro..." Esposito said, and then trailed off, slightly horrified.

Kevin said nothing.

"Tell me you haven't," he continue when Ryan met his eyes again, a hint of defiance brightening the blue. "Dude, you're married, and I...I mean, I love you and all, but not like that."

Ryan's defiance melted into horror, and he held up both hands in a gesture of supplication. "No. Not...just no. Not about us. Just–"

"Just what?" Esposito asked, arching one eyebrow.

"There's...in addition to the Roach fic...that's what they call it," Ryan explained. "There's all kinds of Nookie fic."

"Nookie?" Esposito wondered aloud, tilting his head to one side.

"Yeah," Ryan said. "You know, Nikki and Rook."

Esposito nodded slowly.

"And you've been writing..." he hesitated, "fic about them?"

Ryan shuffled his feet. "Well, not written, per se, but I...I've had a few ideas."

Esposito said nothing, waited for his partner to continue.

"It's just...most of what's out there for Nookie isn't that great, doesn't really get to the heart of the characters, y'know?"

Esposito scoffed. "Right. The heart of the characters."

Ryan turned an uncharacteristic glare on him. "What I'm saying...what I'm saying is that we have an inside look at Nookie, at the *real* Nookie — Castle and Beckett — and I bet that if we wrote something, it'd be a lot closer to what they're really like and we'd get a lot of good reviews."

"Reviews?" Esposito asked, watching as Ryan nodded enthusiastically. "People review these things?"

And then the rest of what his partner had said registered. "Wait...did you say 'we?'"

Back                         Home                              Castle Main Page                          Next

Your Name or Alias:      Your E-mail (optional):

Please type your review below. Only positive reviews and constructive criticism will be posted!