Huge thanks to Alsa Ravenwood, RespoFTW, Nadreth, TXMedic, auntof3, sharkbaitz17, and red2013 for the reviews and to everyone else who alerted this.
Last chapter and it came out a little choppy for some reason, sorry for that. Endings are not my strong point. Big thanks to everyone that read, reviewed, alerted, and/or favorited this. Your support is what keeps me motivated to continue writing! I'm in the process of writing a darker alternative ending which will be up soon and will be titled To Telling Only Lies.
Now get ready for some fluff, I think Ryan's earned it. ;)
Two months after the Banks incident Esposito entered the bar shortly after dusk and walked through the rambunctious crowd and over to a booth where Castle and Beckett were seated watching the bar with amused expressions. After sliding in he looked over and grinned at Ryan who was completely in his element behind the bar, flipping bottles and glasses with ease. His smile couldn't have been any larger and his blue eyes were crinkled at the corners with mirth.
Castle laughed, "He's been doing this for over an hour now. There's people here that don't even drink, they just want to watch him." The bar was of course Castle's but Ryan had taken it and made it his own, from the Irish music playing throughout the space to specific types of liquor that most people had never heard of. The days were calm while people came in to just relax and write where many great writers had found inspiration but nights were wild and usually bordering on out of control which was amusing considering the fact that most of the clientele seemed to be officers from the 12th. Even right now Beckett and Esposito could recognize many familiar faces throughout the crowd.
"You guys want refills?"
The two shook their heads and Esposito wormed his way up to the bar and next to Demming who was talking to Ryan while he made a few drinks, multitasking like few could. Ryan's face lit up even more than it already was when he was spotted, "Javi! What'll ya have?" Esposito leaned over the bar and kissed his boyfriend soundly before sitting back, Ryan blushing at the affections. A slow grin spread across the Irishman's face when he realized Javier was laying claim in front of all these people, as if he ever had anything to worry about.
"Not the Poitín," Demming interrupted with a shudder. "He tried to kill me."
Esposito grinned and looked at his boyfriend, "Did he pass?"
"Barely," Ryan answered with a cheeky grin. "But he can stay." Hearing a shout from the other end of the bar he jogged over and leaned over to hear what someone was saying before nodding and pulling a few bottles down from the back wall.
"Ryan's pretty damn amusing, everybody loves him. Just since I've been here at least eight people, men and women, have given him their numbers."
"Yeah I know," he acknowledged reluctantly.
Demming turned and faced his friend better, "Nothing to worry about man, he loves you. He doesn't look at anyone like he looks at you."
The object of their conversation appeared again and set down another beer in front of the robbery detective before announcing, "I'm going on break, you two need anything before I do?" At their twin headshakes he smiled brightly and disappeared.
Both men sat quietly, Esposito fidgeting slightly until Demming rolled his eyes, "Just go. I'll save your seat." Without a word he hopped up and worked his way to the back of the bar and into the back alley he knew Ryan liked to relax in. Unlike most other back alleys in the city this one was always clean and Ryan enjoyed the darkness and solitude it offered. As soon as the door opened he looked at Ryan who smirked over at him.
"I was hoping you'd come out here."
He offered a shrug and a cocky smile before walking over and leaning against the wall next to him. "You doing all right tonight? It's busy."
"I was made for this and that jittery feeling I was having is gone. Hairs on the back of my neck haven't stood up since Banks."
"Hey!" someone suddenly shouted from a few feet away effectively startling them both. Esposito cursed himself that he hadn't been paying attention to his surroundings and he carefully tried to position himself between the man and Kevin when he noticed the sawed off shotgun in his hand. "Gimme all your money!" the young man shouted as he raised the gun shakily. "Don't move!"
Before Esposito could blink Ryan had stepped around him with a roll of his eyes and grabbed the barrel of the shotgun, yanked it forward, and slammed it back into the man's face. When he staggered back Ryan jerked the gun out of his hand and used it like a baseball bat to knock the man to the ground before he leveled the barrel at his shocked and frightened face. "You are the worst robber I have ever met, you're a disgrace to anyone who has ever stolen something. It's about finesse you idiot, not force. People shouldn't even know they lost something!"
When the man didn't move Ryan nudged him with the gun, "Get out of here before I shoot you just to prove a point."
Both watched the young man run away and Ryan shook his head before looking at Esposito who was trying hard to not smile. "Ryan, you can't do things like that. You could get hurt and I should have arrested that kid."
"He's just a dumbass, you don't need to arrest him," he said as he easily ejected the shells out onto the alley floor and laid the gun against his shoulder pointing skyward. "Not like he was going to hurt anybody, you could tell he's an innocent."
Esposito crowded him and paused only a hair away from his lips, "That was pretty hot."
Ryan could only grin crookedly, "You like that? I do have my moments." When the taller man's lips met his he let out a soft sigh and leaned into him, his spicy cologne filling his senses. He loved how Javier tasted, loved how he felt, just loved everything about him. His heart began to pound in anticipation when warm hands pulled him closer and he didn't fight the shiver that raced down his spine. "Javi," he moaned breathlessly. The sound of someone clearing their throat from a short distance made both turn with wide eyes.
"Do you think you might get back to work anytime soon?" Castle asked without any bite and an arch to one of his brows. "And where did the shotgun come from?"
Esposito blushing furiously at being caught by his friend and coworker making out with his boyfriend but Ryan just smirked and smashed his lips to his for one final hot and heavy kiss before walking away. When he reached the writer he handed him the shotgun, winked, and walked back inside whistling to himself.
Castle shook his head and looked at the detective, "What just happened?"
Esposito let out a small breath trying to dispel all the lust and embarrassment still swirling inside him and shook his head. "I'd explain but let's just go with 'Ryan was being Ryan'."
The following day Esposito shook his head fondly at Ryan and Alexis while he made dinner in the kitchen. Both were sitting on the couch almost on top of each other as they played on her iPad and laughed hysterically. When Ryan almost fell on to the floor from laughing so hard he looked down at his feet and tossed a piece of meat to Keller who was watching him closely. "They're crazy huh Kell?"
A knock on the door grabbed his attention and instead of interrupting the giggling pair on the couch he wiped his hands off on a towel and went to answer it. After looking through the peephole he swung open the door and smiled. "Hey Castle."
The writer smiled in greeting and followed him inside. "Is Alexis almost ready to go home? I thought I'd swing by and pick her up so she didn't have to take a cab."
Esposito nodded absently and walked back to the kitchen to keep on eye on dinner. As he opened the cabinet looking for salt more laughter sounded from the living room and he chuckled to himself. "Those two…"
Castle walked to the living room and hovered by the door as he watched his daughter and Ryan play Fruit Ninja on her iPad, both laughing so hard they were crying. While he still had small doubts about their friendship, what father wouldn't, he was proud of his daughter for everything she did for Ryan. He knew Ryan leaned on her quite heavily when Esposito wasn't readily available and pride filled him at how much she helped him through his difficult days.
Ryan finally noticed him and waved him over, "Hey Castle!" The writer made his way to the pair and dropped down next to his daughter but kept his eyes on Ryan as his mind wandered. He knew Ryan viewed Alexis as a sister and his heart broke at the fact he hadn't seen his own flesh and blood in over twenty years. He couldn't imagine how difficult it was not knowing what happened to the only remaining family he had.
"Ready to go honey?" he asked after he pulled himself from his thoughts.
She sighed as her bottom lip stuck out in a small pout, "I guess." After putting her belongings in her bag she hugged Ryan tightly, "I'll call you tomorrow. Bye!"
Once she left he picked himself off the couch and wandered to the kitchen, "Dinner ready yet?"
"I'm not your maid," Esposito mumbled as he fixed two plates.
"I know you're not," he said with an apologetic smile. "You're my servant."
Javier pursed his lips, "No dinner for you."
Ryan laughed, "I'm sorry. I'll make it up to you later." Esposito sighed and handed him the plate with a tiny grin. As soon as it was in his hands he took a few steps away. "Instead of servant I could call you my bitch."
The next night Esposito rolled over in bed and sat up when he realized Kevin wasn't there. After a quick glance at the alarm clock he realized it was after one am and after checking his phone he for any messages he slid on jeans and a shirt and grabbed his keys. When Keller jumped up he walked over and rubbed his hand soothingly down his thick body, "I'll be back buddy, gotta go check on your daddy."
After a quick drive he pulled up to the empty curb and let himself inside with Ryan's spare key and looked around the dark space. He found him in the basement passed out in a chair, head on the desk and cradled in his arms. He walked over and kneeled down next to him as he softly ran a hand up and down his back, "Wake up Kev. Let's go home."
Ryan sat up slowly and yawned before leaning back in the chair and promptly falling back asleep. With a smile and small huff of laughter he carefully lifted him as best he could and moved him to the couch Castle had insisted on buying before lying down with him, chest to chest. They couldn't have physically been any closer but it still didn't feel like he was close enough, it never felt like it. He had never felt anything like he felt with Kevin and if he didn't think it would scare the shit out of him and chase him away he'd propose right this second. There was no one else he wanted to be with for the rest of his life, it was Kevin or nothing. With a soft kiss to his boyfriend's nose he just laid there quietly until his lids began to feel heavy and with a final soft breath he fell asleep.
Castle whistled to himself as he made his way to the bar the following morning, his keys jingling in his hands as he unlocked it and walked across the empty room. He descended down the stairs but froze at the bottom and grinned at the pair still asleep on the couch. Ryan was smashed between the plush back and Esposito's chest with his hands clenched in the detective's shirt, Esposito's arm laid protectively over his boyfriend. It was ridiculously adorable. With quiet steps he made his way over and snapped a picture with his phone before backing away still smiling and making his way back upstairs.
Only a few minutes later Esposito walked up the hidden stairs and glanced around before noticing Castle, "Hey bro. Thought I heard somebody up here."
"Yeah, I needed to come pick up the books. You and Ryan looked cozy," he said with a grin.
He flashed him a flat look, "Don't start, it's too early. So how's everything going with the bar? Kev doesn't talk shop very often."
Both slid into a booth and Castle glanced around, "Really well. Ryan's stealing from me."
Esposito began to cough in surprise. "What?"
Castle smiled, "Well I thought he was stealing from me, I was wrong. For someone that handled money for the mob he's terrible with it. He sticks it everywhere, never counts it and the till is always off. Then miraculously at the end of the week it all adds up. He's so informal and disorganized it's hilarious. He's getting better though."
Javier shook his head, "You had me scared there for a second. I was thinking no way in hell Kev is that stupid."
Castle waved his hand dismissively, "He's doing really well here, and aside from his organizational issues he catches onto things extremely quickly. Plus with all his experience working a bar he'll be full partner by next year."
Esposito met his eyes steadily. "You gave him a purpose Castle, I can never thank you enough for that."
He waved him off, "It was meant to be. I mean seriously, you meet Ryan and all this goes down then I buy the bar. What are the odds? I bought it to preserve it, not to profit from it and with Ryan I can do exactly that. I don't need the money so he can have it and I know this place will be taken care of and cherished. No such thing as coincidences."
They descended into silence until Castle's phone buzzed. After checking it he let out a victorious laugh before looking back at his friend. "There's something I need to talk to you about…"
A month later Ryan stood with his hands in his pockets, posture relaxed as he looked over the murder board waiting for everyone to finish whatever they were doing. The elevator opened grabbing his attention and he smiled in greeting at Castle, ignoring the woman standing mostly behind him. "Hey Ryan, how's it going?"
"I'm bored as hell and Javi is taking forever to interview the suspect. I mean God, just arrest or let him go, it's already after nine and I'm starving." He glanced over at L.T. who was gathering his belongings and with a small nod he turned to leave. Ryan jerked his thumb in the direction he headed and looked back to Castle, "Did you know he's really good at darts? I didn't. He cost me like fifty bucks last night at the bar." Noticing the woman still behind Castle he tried to look around the taller man curiously, "Whose with you?"
The tiny woman with strawberry blonde hair took a step around Castle and smiled hesitantly, bright blue eyes filling with tears. "Hey Kev."
He could only stare before carefully whispering in a strained tone. "Izzy?" His heart felt like it was going to explode as the person he never thought he'd see again, his baby sister, smiled at him. She was beautiful with long hair and just a tad shorter than he was and dressed in snug jeans and a blue top.
She let out a choked laugh and held out her arms, Ryan instantly hugging her close and burying his face in her hair as he began to shake. "Oh my God Izzy, I can't believe you're here." She smelt exactly like he remembered, like flowers and fresh baked cookies.
"Me either big brother, me either. I always wondered what happened to you. I was so scared that you were dead." She pulled away slightly and grabbed his face in her hands to look over him closely, taking time to commit every single inch of him to memory. "What happened to all your freckles?"
"Faded," he said softly. "How…" he asked as he looked over at Castle for some sort of explanation.
"All good books need an ending worthy of the story," he offered.
Esposito and Beckett exited interrogation and smiled at Ryan and his sister. Upon approach Beckett grinned and pointed back and forth between them, "You're twins. I had no idea."
Elizabeth nodded, "Eighty-six seconds apart. I'm Elizabeth by the way." Beckett and Javier introduced themselves but Ryan noticed their relaxed and slightly smug expressions instead of the shock he knew was still written all over his.
"You all knew," he said half-accusing and half-in awe.
Esposito nodded and stuck his hands in his pockets casually, "It was a group effort."
"Well I am going home and I will talk to everyone tomorrow," Castle announced, figuring the reunited siblings wouldn't want an audience. "It was wonderful to finally meet you in person Elizabeth. I'm glad you made it here alright."
Beckett grabbed her jacket taking the hint, "Me too. Maybe if everyone's free we can get together tomorrow. By guys, Elizabeth."
"You guys going out?" Esposito asked and Ryan instantly shook his head.
"Thought we'd just go home where it's quiet."
"Then let me grab my stuff and we'll go. You know I must say, I'm surprised you're not freaking out more."
"That'll come later," Ryan laughed. "I think I'm more stunned than anything right now." Ryan waited patiently next to his sister, who he still hadn't stopped touching, while Javier gathered his belongings and a minute later the trio exited out of the building and onto the street. "Where are you staying?"
She shrugged, "Rick offered to put me up at a hotel but if you have any space I'd love to stay with you. I don't want to let you out of my sight, I'm still afraid you'll disappear again."
"I know the feeling," he said shakily before wrapping his hand around hers. He couldn't stop touching her, he needed physical affirmation that this wasn't just a dream. "There's not an extra bedroom but you can sleep on the couch if you want."
"That's fine with me." When they all got in one car Izzy smiled from the backseat, "Carpool or do you guys live together?"
Esposito wisely stayed quiet and Ryan just nodded, not giving anything away. "Tell me a little about you."
Izzy shrugged, "Well I'm married, have been for four years now to the most amazing man ever. He wanted to come with me but I thought this was something I needed to do on my own." She smiled brightly, "You have a four year old niece, her name is Carissa but everyone calls her Kissa. She's got the Ryan eyes."
They continued the light conversation all the way to the apartment building and up the elevator. When they got inside she looked around happily before suddenly frowning. "There's only two doors, meaning this is only a one bedroom. Where do you guys sleep?"
"She's good," Esposito said quietly with an appreciative raise to his eyebrows. Apparently paying attention to minute details was a Ryan trait.
She looked expectantly at her brother who suddenly looked uncomfortable. "Well uh, Izzy?"
After nervously wetting his lips he grabbed Esposito's hand and met his sister's eyes. "Javi and I are… together. We uh, share the room."
"Oh. Oh!" she said as she caught on and smiled gently at his nervousness before stepping forward and hugging him again. "I know we've been apart for a long time Kev but you know me better than that. If you're happy I'm happy and from the looks of it you're pretty damn happy here."
Ryan sagged in relief and bit his lip, "So how much did Castle tell you about everything?"
"Not much honestly. Said it wasn't his story to tell. So you live together obviously, do you work together? Are you a cop?"
Both men laughed a little before Ryan sighed heavily and flashed his sister a wry smile, "Izzy, you are in for one hell of a tale."