It started out with a simple pop cultural reference, as things are prone to do with Richard Castle around, and became a Firefly marathon at Esposito's apartment.
They'd been working a crime scene, the murder of a big-name American business tycoon who was notorious for exporting jobs overseas to China.
"My first thought?" Castle asked as he followed Beckett outside. Ryan and Esposito followed as well.
"Someone didn't support unification?" Beckett said.
Castle smiled wickedly. "You know me all too well."
"So Castle," Esposito said, "you a Browncoat then? Or a purplebelly?"
"Of course, I am a Browncoat," Castle replied. "I actually own the duster the actor wore on the show."
Esposito’s eyebrows shot up. "You have Malcolm Reynolds' coat?"
"I do, indeed."
"Who's Malcolm Reynolds?"
The group collectively came to a halt, and Castle, Esposito and even Beckett turned to stare at Detective Ryan.
He blinked innocently at them. "What?"
“This must be remedied,” Castle said.
“We’ll do this at my place,” Esposito said. “Eight o’clock tonight.”
Beckett nodded gravely. “I’ll make sure he gets there.”
Ryan’s eyes went a little wide as they continued to stare at him while talking about him in the third person.
“So you’re a Browncoat, too?” Ryan asked as they walked home to Esposito’s place. Castle and Beckett still didn’t know he’d moved in with his partner.
“I am,” Esposito admitted.
“What does that even mean?”
“It means I support independence,” Esposito replied. “Don’t worry; it’ll all make sense soon enough.”
When they got home, they glanced at the clock, hurriedly undressing as they made it to the bedroom. It was seven thirty, half an hour until the marathon.
Esposito pushed Ryan to the bed and crawled over him, planting heated kisses on his skin.
“We don’t have much time to fool around,” he said.
“Think they’ll ever figure it out?”
“They’re smart,” Esposito said. “But so are we.”
“You could have told them a later time,” Ryan said, stifling a moan as his partner’s hands traveled all over him.
With Esposito’s tongue in his mouth, he couldn’t say much more, so he opted for silence peppered with the odd sounds of pleasure.
Beckett arrived last to Esposito’s place.
When Castle opened the door to let her in, he greeted her in a long brown overcoat. He was also wearing brown boots, pants and shirt. Beckett stepped inside and pulled on one of Castle’s suspenders, letting it snap back against him when she let it go.
“You have more than the duster,” she said, an icy chill in her voice.
Castle gulped. “I didn’t want to cause a scene at the scene.”
Beckett laughed and took off her own coat. Castle closed the door and turned to retrieve her coat from her to hang it up, and he gasped.
From head to toe, Beckett was dressed in a futuristic, form-fitting grey and purple suit.
“If I had known two years ago that you were a purplebelly,” Castle said with a disapproving nod, “I would’ve shadowed Esposito instead.”
“You mean, I actually could’ve gotten rid of you at some point?”
“Hey, enough chit-chat,” Esposito called from the kitchen. “Marathon starts in ten.”
“Guess we better grab our seat,” Castle said. He gave Beckett another head-to-toe survey, and made a slight tsk-ing noise.
Beckett smirked in return.
Five hours and four episodes later, Castle was asleep on the couch, Beckett slumped against him, and Esposito was rubbing tiredly at his eyes. Ryan was on the edge of the couch, watching in rapt attention as Captain Malcolm Reynolds held a gun to his (sort of) wife’s head.
Esposito let out a yawn as the episode concluded.
“I declare this marathon over,” he announced.
“But it’s just getting good,” Ryan protested. “I wanna know more about the Reavers. And what’s up with Shepherd Book?”
“All in good time, my man,” Esposito said, with a light playful smack to Ryan’s back.
When Castle and Beckett stirred, Esposito realized he’d let his hand linger on his partner’s shoulder. He moved it before either of their colleagues had opened their eyes.
“What’d I miss?” Castle said with a yawn.
“’Our Mrs. Reynolds’,” Esposito declared.
“Man, I loved that episode,” Castle moaned.
Beckett laughed, standing from the couch. “Well, I know I’ve got an early start tomorrow,” she said. “Esposito, Ryan, I’ll see you in the morning.”
“What am I, chopped liver?” Castle asked, following her.
“No, you’re a Browncoat,” Beckett said, side-eyeing him.
“So is Esposito!” Castle protested.
“Probably Ryan, now, too,” Esposito added. “I don’t think he’s going anywhere till we finish the series.”
“I’ve been sucked in,” Ryan agreed as he stifled a yawn. “I’ve gotta know what happens next.”
“Do you have the film?” Castle asked. “Because there should be a mandatory waiting period between the show and the movie.”
“Whatever, man, he’s gonna fall asleep before the next episode’s over.”
Castle helped Beckett into her coat. “I’m only being a gentleman so I don’t have to look at that hideous suit.”
Beckett laughed and opened the door. “Have a good night, Detectives,” she called over her shoulder.
When the door closed behind Beckett and Castle, Esposito reached for the remote and clicked the television off. Ryan yawned again, this time with full force.
“Well played,” he said, curling up against Esposito’s side. “I thought they’d never leave.”
“Does Castle sort of remind you of Mal?” Esposito asked, wrapping an arm around Ryan.
“Mmm,” Ryan mumbled. “He kind of does, now that you mention it.”
Esposito planted a kiss on Ryan’s head. “Come on,” he said, pulling Ryan to his feet. “We’re not sleeping on the couch.”
“But the couch was comfortable,” Ryan said. “So were you.”
Esposito grinned. “I’ll be much more comfortable in bed.”
As they headed for the bedroom, Ryan started humming, then Esposito supplied the lyrics.
”I don’t care, I’m still free. You can’t take the sky from me.”
After undressing—again, Ryan noted—they climbed into bed, and Ryan sank back against his partner. Esposito held him close as he continued humming.
“You were right, you are more comfortable this way.”
Esposito laughed, and Ryan sat up just long enough to kiss him. He was too wiped out to do much more--they both were--but he planned to make up for that in the morning, right before they watched the next episode of Firefly.