Esposito rolled his chair over to join in Castle and Beckett’s conversation. Instinctively, he put an arm out to catch Ryan, because he had a nasty habit of pushing too hard.
The first time that Ryan had overshot on his chair, it was less than a week after they’d been partnered up. Ryan had clipped a whiteboard, bringing it crashing down and spilling the contents all over the floor. The Captain had called them both into his office and chewed them out for half an hour about professional behaviour. Esposito had glared at his new partner throughout and hadn’t spoken to him for the rest of the day.
The second time Ryan overshot, he’d hit a suspect, who then attempted to sue the department for brutality. Esposito cringed at the memory even now, recalling having to talk Internal Affairs through the security footage that demonstrated Ryan was an idiot, not a brute. The investigation had concluded that no action be taken, and Esposito had taken the shaken Ryan out for a drink.
“You’re an idiot.”
“How was I supposed to know he was there?”
“You want me to fit mirrors to your chair?”
Ryan had started laughing and the half adrenaline, half beer-fuelled buzz that Esposito was riding persuaded him to let his guard down a little.
“You know, we should do this more often,” Ryan suggested, and then it had become a thing. Difficult case closed? Go for drinks. Nightmare day in paperwork hell? Beer time.
Then the excuses started getting thinner and the venue started to change to their apartments.
The third time Ryan overshot, Esposito caught him and swung him around.
"Hey!" Ryan had called out, until Esposito nodded towards a terrified looking witness whom Ryan had been an inch from knocking over.
“I always have to keep an eye on you, don’t I?” He’d mentioned later in Ryan’s apartment.
“I wondered why you kept staring at me.”
“C’mon man, I’m a cop.”
“Yeah, so why do you keep watching me when you don’t think I’m looking?” Esposito shot back.
There was silence.
“Is this where-“
Esposito asked Ryan later what he was going to say. Ryan just smirked and said nothing. In his head, he knew Ryan was going to chicken out and end the sentence with ‘everything gets awkward and uncomfortable?’ There was still a chance that it was ‘you kiss me?’ but Ryan didn’t seem willing to confirm anything. Not that it mattered because after Esposito had taken the initiative, it had ended well all around.
Sure they still had girlfriends, but they didn’t tend to stick around too long. And afterwards, there was always drinking and...
Esposito didn’t think about it much, but the reason it worked so well is that they were coming from the same place, just in different directions. Ryan’s mother would never accept that her darling angel wasn’t following the straight and narrow, and his own family would probably disown him if they knew he was being ‘sinful’. Not that they minded any of his girlfriends, even the ones he’d lived with in the past. But that was different.
So there was never the ‘lets come out’ discussion. Never the ‘are you ashamed of me?’ argument. Just the content to let things roll on.
Now, whenever Ryan overshot, Esposito would grab his arm just below the elbow, where Ryan was surprisingly sensitive. And maybe it was just him, but Ryan seemed to overshoot just a little bit more often these days.
One day, maybe they’d have to have that discussion, get through that argument. For now, they had office-chairs.