A/N: Written for the ryanandesposito Secret Santa Fic Exchange~


It was a slow seduction via refrigerator magnets.

Ryan had moved to Esposito's place after a bad breakup and the fact that Jenny didn't just have a girlfriend drawer, but apparently, a girlfriend everything. Ryan had said it was simply easier to move to somewhere that wasn't so filled with memories. Esposito had grimaced at the shadows in and under his partner's eyes and gestured him in without a word.

(At 3:30 at night, he didn't really have much to say, so he didn't say much, either, when Ryan fell into bed next to him after divesting himself of his work clothes. Esposito may or may not have curled right up to the very edge of the bed for this very purpose.)

The next morning, Esposito woke up to a cold left side of the bed. He rubbed his eyes and wondered if he had dreamt the entire incident with Ryan, but knew there was no way when the glare of a gold watch on the bedside table caught his eye, because A) Esposito's watch was silver, and B) all his sheets smelled something like purely Ryan. With a loud yawn and a couple of stretches, he climbed out of bed and out the door, heading for the kitchen and the heavenly smell of fresh coffee.

It took Esposito longer than usual to really wake up, so it was only after two and a half cups of coffee that the detective decided to take a brief look around the kitchen, pause, and zero in on the refrigerator.

On the white covering was a rainbow-colored message, composed of lopsided magnetic letters in different colors. Esposito didn't remember getting those (Definitely not. Castle got him a jack-in-the-box with a pop-out doll that looked suspiciously like the Nikki Heat silhouette on all his album covers, and Beckett had given him a new wallet, considering how close his old one was to crumbling into a pile of ancient graying dust). Ryan must have brought it with him. Which was strange, because Esposito distinctly remember thinking to himself that Ryan had to have gotten out of his apartment in a hurry, and couldn't have brought anything so trivial along. Could it have been something important? No, he thinks he'd have noticed, having been over at his partner's house so many times. So what-

"Esposito? You awake?"

Esposito turned, vaguely bleary-eyed, and saw the bag of groceries Ryan held in his arm. Ryan reached in and grabbed a bag of mini-croissants, and tossed them over.

"You got breakfast," Esposito acknowledged, at the lack of anything better to do. Ryan quirked an eyebrow, and peeked dubiously at the refrigerator. Belatedly, Esposito read the message spelled out on the surface.

GETTING BREAKFAST, BE BACK SOON

"...Right." Esposito would've sworn up and down he was only this... dopey in the mornings, when everything was simply too confusing in his little world. Ryan sent him a pitying look, and put the bag into the refrigerator.

"'Kay, I'm gonna shower and dress," Ryan decided, already shrugging off the sweater he had on. "Be out soon. Get... ready while I'm at it, yeah?"

"Don't baby me," Esposito grumbled, munching into his first piece of pastry. For the first time since last night, Ryan cracked a smile, and patted him on the shoulder as he passed by.

(Esposito may or may not have choked a little bit on an unfortunate combination of croissant and coffee, and definitely not the feel of his partner's numbingly cold fingers bleeding through his shirt, and somehow making him even warmer-hotter-than before.)


The two made it to the precinct that morning fine, though Esposito had made them vaguely late by spending a little extra time in the shower... conditioning. Ryan hadn't held anything against him, though, so Esposito figured it was fine to talk on the elevator ride up to the ballpen.

"So what happened?"

The little tune Ryan was humming that sounded suspiciously like Ke$ha instantly stopped, and his expression bunched up in pain. Esposito bit the inside of his cheek, and wanted to take back the question.

"She, um... She found someone else," Ryan coughed, then amended, "Someone better."

"If you believe that for even one second-" Esposito began harshly, but froze at Ryan's little smile that made him look like he wanted to cry.

"S'what she said, bro," he said quietly, and stepped out of the elevator doors when they finally slid open. Esposito stared at his partner's retreating back until the doors dinged again, and he was reminded he needed to get out.


"Castle, what's the most romantic type of... writing?"

The writer looked a proper mix of ecstatic and suspicious. "Why, a poem, of course! Why do you ask?"

When Esposito didn't answer, Castle's grin took on a dangerous edge.

"Who are you trying to seduce, Esposito?"


At lunch break, Ryan mysteriously disappeared from the precinct, which suited Esposito just fine, because he was about to pull a little mysterious disappearance himself.

It also helped that he's earned his fair share of shiners from wrestling with Ryan, and the man carried a Glock.

(He also carried an emergency dagger-blade in the sole of his shoe-Castle's Christmas present to both of them.)


Esposito bit his bottom lip, and searched frantically among the blues and yellows and reds and greens lining his refrigerator door.

Just one more E, c'mon, just one more...


"It's been a long day," Esposito said carefully, pressing the key into his partner's hand. He didn't tell Ryan that was the spare. "Why don't you go home first, and I'll finish up the paperwork tonight."


A LOT OF TIMES THINGS DON'T GO AS YOU PLAN
JUST KNOW THAT I'M ALWAYS HERE FOR YOU MAN

Ryan smiled something careful, slipped the key Javier gave him into his wallet, and took a step towards the colorful magnets.


When Esposito finally got home that night, he had found a new appreciation for his partner's ability to finish all the paperwork for one day before the clock's hour hand ticks back to single digits. He was so tired, he almost missed the crooked rows of blue, yellow, red, green on his refrigerator door.

AS MUCH AS I APPRECIATE YOUR LITTLE ANTIC
I MUST SAY, JAVI YOU'RE NOT REALLY ROMANTIC

Esposito laughed out loud and set his coffee maker to be ready for tomorrow morning.


As fate would have it, the next few days, Ryan and Esposito barely saw each other. The case simply needed three different eyes out, at what happened to be three different parts of the city. If one didn't get back to Esposito's apartment way-too-late, the other would be sure to fill in the spot. They could blame nothing but the psychopath they were trying their best to track down.

Strangely, though, they weren't really complaining, because even though most of their face-to-face time (with Beckett, Captain Montgomery, or on the rare chance, with Castle) were spent discussing the case, and their phone lines were left open for any leads from anybody, they still had their own means of connection.


HEY YOU CAN'T BLAME A GUY FOR TRYING
AND DON'T THEY SAY THAT ROMANCE IS DYING?


ROMANCE WILL DIE IF NO ONE KEEPS IT ALIVE
SO AT MY HANDS THIS ROMANCE WILL THRIVE!


HAH, THEN LET US DO THIS TOGETHER
ROMANTICS WE ARE DESPITE THE WEATHER!


LUCKILY FOR YOU, JAVI, I AM QUITE GRACIOUS
TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR RHYMING IS REALLY QUITE ATROCIOUS


"What's got you in such a good mood?" Castle asked. Esposito instantly wiped the (idiotic) grin off his face and sat up in his seat.

"What good mood?" he tried to snap, but only managed to sound dopey, when Ryan chose that moment to walk through the bullpen with a twinkle in his eyes. He was gone as quick as he came, though, leaving Esposito to stare at the elevator as the doors closed behind him.

Castle, being Castle, caught on immediately. The writer shrugged, and began on his way in dramatic slow motion.

"Well, if you say so..."

"...Castle," Esposito called when the writer was halfway across the room. He was back beside the desk in a second, with a grin as bright as sunlight on his face.

"Yes, Esposito?"

"...What rhymes with combination?"


IT IS HARD TO FIND A FITTING COMBINATION
OF WORDS, WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW YOUR DESTINATION


Ryan frowned at the couplet on the fridge, and tried to think up a more elegant way of asking "What do you mean?"


MOST OF THE TIME I UNDERSTAND YOU FINE
BUT THIS TIME I MUST ASK YOU TO DEFINE?


YOU KNOW YOU REALLY ARE QUITE CAPTIOUS
IN TELLING ME THAT MY RHYMING IS ATROCIOUS


Ryan laughed at the marker lines drawn under the words, and wiped the slate clean, literally, to start another message. He wasn't even smiling by the time he moved the last letter in place.


YOU TALKED ABOUT OUR DESTINATION
SO NOW I WANT AN EXPLANATION


That night, Esposito got a phone call from his tearful mother, sent a text to Beckett, and was out of the apartment before Kevin got home.


Before Kevin got to his home.


Before Kevin got to their home.


On the drive upstate, Esposito had to stop at a gas station and take a break to wonder where, in fact, his destination was.


ME TOO


"Castle!"

Ryan burst through the writer's flat's door, breathless and panicked.

"I need your help."


His brother had been in an accident-a drunk driver had plowed head-first into his car parked at the side of the road.

When Esposito got to the hospital, the doctors were walking out of the emergency room.


As you write, I need you to pour all your emotions into the words. Make them as honest as possible, and I'll be damned if Esposito doesn't get the message.


In the hospital parking lot, Esposito rolled his eyes and smiled fondly at his brother's embarrassed grin when the doctor said he got out of the accident scratch-free-except-for-a-sprained-wrist. Esposito unzipped the black Nike bag in his trunk-his emergency rations bag-to grab a bottle of water for the long drive back (home), and suddenly remembered where Kevin had gotten the magnets.


It was one of the rare days Ryan had off work, and he spent it strolling through the streets of New York, exploring foreign streets and visiting familiar places. A fond smile crossed his face when he passed the little toy store at the edge of the Bronx, where he and Javier had bought identical boxes of refrigerator magnets, which they had jokingly put into each other's "emergency bags". Their excuse was so that if they should ever be kidnapped by aliens, they would be able to send each other messages that wouldn't float off the walls.


Esposito didn't even stop for coffee on the drive back, anxious as he was to tell his partner of this used-to-be-dormant, now suddenly-found feeling that kept him awake even without the aid of caffeine.


I LOVE THE WAY YOU TALK TO ME
AND THE WAY YOU CUT YOUR HAIR
I LOVE THE WAY YOU SPAR WITH ME
AND AFTER, WHEN YOU STARE

I LOVE HOW WELL WE WORK TOGETHER
IN AS SHORT AS FOUR YEARS TIME
AND THE WAY WE ARE SO MUCH BETTER
WHEN WE'RE PARTNERS FIGHTING CRIME

I LOVE YOUR INTENSE CHOCOLATE EYES
AND THE WAY YOU READ MY MIND
I LOVE YOUR SENSIBLE CHOICE IN TIES
AND THE WAY YOU MAKE ME RHYME

BUT HAHA, MOST OF ALL, YOU ALWAYS KNEW
THAT THE ONE I LOVE MOST, JAVI, IS YOU


Javier walked through the door just as Kevin stood back to admire the finished poem. Who hugged who, who kissed who didn't matter, because they fit so well together, and it wasn't even surprising. Javi tasted like a bad morning and Kevin tasted like cold coffee. They couldn't get enough of each other. They didn't stop to wonder when 'Esposito' became 'Javier' and 'Ryan' became 'Kevin', when 'Javi's Apartment' became home for both of them. They didn't stop to wonder how they went from the precinct's famous hostile twosome to this comfortably domestic partnership. They didn't even stop to wonder who was going to be the girl in their relationship.

(Because Javier already knew Kevin, with his soft blue eyes and baby-fine hair was going to be, but he didn't feel the need to announce it.)


It was a slow seduction via refrigerator magnets.


A/N: Please review, considering how much time I spent rhyming?