For someone who worked with death and murder every day, Detective Ryan was an extraordinarily optimistic person. For as long as he had worked at the 12th precinct, they had always known him to be the one who found the silver lining and cheered everybody up. Still, one morning when we walked into the precinct, his wide smile was noticeably brighter than usual.
"Morning, Castle," he beamed as he passed Beckett's desk. Castle stared at him.
"You look like the cat who caught the canary," he pointed out, his knack for finding details targeting the swing in Ryan's step and the exuberance in his eyes.
"No, he doesn't," said Esposito coming up behind Castle. "He looks like he just got laid."
"Jenny's pregnant," Ryan explained, his smile, if that were possible, widening.
"Congrats," said Beckett from behind him, clapping him on the shoulder. They used to have a sort of unspoken law that personal lives stayed personal, but that had been out the window for a year, ever since Lanie, on the morning of her wedding, had noticed Castle sneaking out of Beckett's hotel room. Not that Ryan would have been able to contain his good news, anyway. He and Jenny had been trying to have a kid for almost six months, and just that morning it had finally happened.
"I hope you have a girl," said Castle. "Daughters are the best. The absolute best." He turned away from them at that point, much to Ryan's confusion. Beckett leaned forward to enlighten him.
"He just found out that Alexis is spending Thanksgiving with Ashley's family this year," she whispered. He nodded in understanding, allowing Castle to grieve the loss of his daughter's young years. At least he tried to, standing solemn while Castle worried about his next of kin slipping away from him, but it was difficult to not smile after the news that Jenny had given him a few hours ago.
"Congratulations, bro," said Esposito, patting him on the shoulder like Beckett. Ryan looked at him, surprised.
"You're welling up," he realized, watching his partner with some amusement. Esposito shook his head, shrugging his shoulders defensively as if that could hide the shining in his eyes.
"Am not," he retorted. Ryan laughed.
"You are, you're tearing up! You're about to cry!" Esposito didn't say anything. "You're going to be an uncle," said Ryan, trying to break him down. "Kid's gonna call you Uncle Javi."
"Dude!" he said, covering his eyes. There was that soft side again, the part of Javier Esposito that had written out his wedding vows last year, the part that (though he would never admit it) had wiped away a tear when his partner had proposed to Jenny three years ago.
Ryan, still grinning with a near-permanent smile, glanced up when Beckett's cell phone rang. "Beckett," she answered, pausing for a moment while she listened. "Okay, we'll be right there." She pocketed the cell phone and turned to her team. "There's been a murder," she said simply, grabbing her coat. Ryan followed her, and she turned to look at him. "Try not to grin maniacally when we're telling the family." He nodded, clamping down on his joy for the moment.
Late that night, Esposito lay in bed staring at the ceiling, the seed that had been planted in his brain that morning finally having time to grow. The news of Jenny's pregnancy had traveled quickly among their friends at the precinct, and it had particularly affected Lanie and Esposito. They were, of course, pretending that it hadn't.
"Are you still awake?" he whispered without looking away from the ceiling.
"No," she mumbled. He sighed and rolled over to face her. She was fiddling with the corner of her pillowcase, the way she always did when she was nervous, and her eyes were wide with panic.
"We're not…" he said, at a loss for words. "I mean, there's no way-"
"No!" she assured him. "This is crazy."
"Crazy," he agreed.
"We just got married," she said.
"Just got married."
"There's no way we're ready to-"
"No way we're ready to."
She glared at him. "Okay, you repeating everything I'm saying isn't doing anything to calm me down."
"Sorry," he said, putting his hands behind his head. "So… what have we established?"
"We're definitely not ready for… that thing that we're not ready for," she said, taking a shaky breath. "Ryan and his wife have been married for twice as long as we have." Esposito nodded in agreement and they fell back into silence, both lost in their thoughts. His gaze returned to the ceiling, which for the first time he realized was remarkably empty and not at all distracting from the ideas and fears bouncing around in his head. Somehow not putting what they were worrying about into words helped a little, but he still felt on the verge of freaking out.
"Of course," she said, breaking the silence with a reconsideration, "I work with death every day."
"Me too," he pointed out.
"So," she continued, neither of them looking at each other, "we both know how quick and unexpected dying can be. I mean, you could get shot at any moment."
"What are you saying?" he asked uneasily.
"I'm not saying that we're necessarily ready," she said, "but if we want… you know-" she mimed rocking a baby in her arms "- it might be a better idea to start sooner rather than later." She didn't need to expand her observation. He could easily discern the hidden statement, "Because there might not be a later."
"Let's do this," he said unexpectedly. She glanced up at him, surprised.
"Let's have kids," he said. "Start our family." She was about to shake her head and let him know that he was crazy, but he stopped her. "No, listen. I could get shot in the head tomorrow, it could definitely happen. If it does, I want to at least know that you might have Javier Jr. to look after you." She was shocked, but caught up in the fantasy he was spinning, bleak though it was.
"Okay," she said softly. She pushed the covers away and moved closer to him, but then stopped. "But we're not naming our kid after you."
"Why not?" he asked.
"No offense, but I hate the name Javier," she admitted. Now it was his turn to look shocked.
"You married me and you never told me that you hated me?" he asked, offended despite her prelude of "no offense".
"I don't hate you," she clarified. "Just your name." He rolled his eyes, causing her to laugh. "That's why I call you Esposito even when we're not at the precinct."
"You want a baby, stop making fun of my name," he said. She laughed nervously, giddily, before he reached out and brushed her hair out of her eyes. The gesture seemed to echo through their bedroom, effectively ending their conversation. "You're beautiful," he murmured. Staring straight into each other's eyes, they both in that instant felt vulnerable, afraid but nevertheless prepared to take the leap, to make that giant step together.
And then, out of nowhere, they both began to laugh uncontrollably. "We're so not ready," she admitted in gasps between laughs. He nodded, agreeing with her.
"We've got all the time in the world, chica," he said, kissing her.