"which half of your otp is singing 'all i want for christmas is you' 24/7 and which half hates it but is also lowkey charmed by it?"
A/N: Set mid season 2.
He’s been driving her crazy since the first day of December had rolled in, since snow flurries had started to fall and Christmas ads had plagued every channel, every corner of the city. The music was always a constant too, on the radios, the television, the streets, but it had been personally inescapable for her.
If this holiday was her hell, Castle following her around singing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ was the soundtrack.
“Castle,” she growls for the millionth time, tightening her grip on the steering wheel. “Stop. It.”
He pauses in his humming from the passenger seat, glances to her with a grin and an amused arch of his eyebrow.
“Oh, come on, Beckett,” he needles her. “It’s Christmas.”
“It’s December 17th,” she argues, swerving around a too slow car in front of her, trying to get them through the worst of afternoon traffic. “And you’ve been singing that song to some capacity since the day after Thanksgiving.”
“It’s my favorite,” he shrugs, his smug grin softening to a smile as he turns his gaze to the window. “When Alexis was a baby, I used to sing it to her like a lullaby while I rocked her to sleep.”
Oh. Well, that… made it a little less annoying, a bit more sweet, but still-
“Of course, when she got older, she became a bigger fan of ‘Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer’ and ‘Frosty the Snowman’, but I still think of that time as soon as I start hearing the Christmas music every year and - this is too much information that you don’t need,” Castle chuckles, surprising her with the sudden self-deprecation.
It’s so easy to forget that this man, the best-selling author and notorious playboy, is also a single father who had raised a little girl on his own. And not only that - he had loved her, loved his daughter enough to make up for the mother that Kate has learned was never really there. He loved her enough to make Christmas special even when she was too young to actually understand the holiday.
“No,” she murmurs, chewing on her bottom lip to ignore the swell of warmth in her chest at his explanation. He’s still Castle, still the man who had gone behind her back to look into her mother’s case, still the irritating shadow that followed her around, weaseled his way into her life, made it a little more fun. “You’re fine, and you can - keep singing your song, just limit it to once a day maybe?”
Castle beams at her from his seat, just as the Twelfth blessedly comes into view, and she presses a little harder on the accelerator. She hates when he looks at her like that.
“So is my pass for the day already used up?”
“Yes,” she mutters, pulling into the parking garage, huffing in exasperation as Castle releases a quiet laugh at her expense.
She’s grateful for the dimness of the garage, how it hides the way the corners of her mouth quirk along with his.
Beckett is in the break room on Christmas Eve, one of the few officers left on the dreaded holiday shift, but she doesn’t mind, always volunteering to take it. She had no family to celebrate with, no traditions to honor, so she claims this shift every year to allow those who did to have this treasured 24 hours off.
Watching over the city with the hollowness in her heart like a gaping hole in her chest is her only Christmas tradition left.
She’s in the middle of a battle with the espresso machine, slowly attempting to brew a decent cup of coffee, absentmindedly humming to herself as she pours the milk. Castle isn’t here, has no idea she’s working today, and it’s better this way. If he knew she was spending her holiday working, he’d proffer up some speech about Christmas spirit and magic and all kinds of things she could no longer relate to.
But on a day that now holds so much sorrow for her, she almost finds herself missing his presence, the annoying holiday cheer he so happily spreads.
She doesn’t even realize what she’s doing, what song she’s humming under her breath, until she hears a gasp from behind and startles so harshly she nearly burns her hand.
“Castle,” she hisses, lifting her scorched thumb to her mouth as she spins to glare at him, already knowing it had to be him because who else?
Sure enough, he’s standing in the doorway with a tall travel mug and a metal tin decorated with dancing gingerbread men in his hands, a dumbstruck smile on his face until he notices the kiss of steam she had sustained.
“I’m so sorry,” he says, striding towards her and setting the apparent gifts he’s come bearing on the break room table. “Here, let me look-”
“No, what are you even doing here?” she grumbles, tugging her hand from his grasp when he cradles her wrist in his surprisingly warm fingers. “You’re supposed to be at home, celebrating Christmas with your family.”
“I am, but Ryan mentioned you were working today,” he reveals with a narrowed look that she rolls her eyes in response to. “And don’t worry, I’m not staying. Just wanted to bring a couple of things by.”
Her eyes venture over his shoulder to the holiday themed travel mug, the tin of cookies.
“Alexis and I were baking cookies last night, sort of a yearly tradition, and we always have extra, so I figured I’d bring you some. You like gingerbread?”
“I - yeah, but Castle, you didn’t have to bring me anything,” she murmurs, hating how he continues to soften her, how the idea of him thinking of her on Christmas Eve, trudging out of his warm loft and into the bitter December chill to bring her holiday treats, has her heart fluttering a little.
“Well, I knew you wouldn’t let me buy you a real Christmas present,” he shrugs, and she had the annoying urge to drift forward, gravitate towards him and that tentative smile he wears.
Nervous again, like he had been that day in the car, when he’d told her about one of the traditions he shared with Alexis, when he had let single-handedly peeled away another layer for her to see without ever meaning to.
“I - I didn’t get you anything,” she offers inanely, but Castle simply waves her off.
“Beckett, I just heard you humming All I Want For Christmas Is You. That is gift enough,” he grins and Kate huffs, shoves on his shoulder.
“It’s all your fault. You practically ingrained it into my head,” she mutters, but Castle is stepping in closer, a teasing glimmer in his eyes.
“Are you sure? Because if you were really thinking about me and your true desires for the holiday, I wouldn’t hold it against you. Promise,” he states, but there’s a husk to his voice, a challenge in the arch of his brow.
And she knows that he isn’t expecting her to take the bait, to play into his flirting, but that’s exactly why she does it. At least, that’s what she tells herself.
“You wouldn’t?” she murmurs, allowing the warmth in her blood to simmer, heat through her system, her voice.
She smirks when his adam’s apple bobs, when his eyes widen as hers flick to his mouth and back.
“I - um, no,” he stammers, but he’s growing bolder, brushing his knuckles to her hip even as his hand shakes. “You want me for Christmas, Kate Beckett, you can have me.”
A laugh trembles in her throat, but he’s staring at her lips, not leaning in, but offering her such a wonderful invitation and… would it be so bad if she broke tradition just this once by enjoying at least a few moments of this typically forlorn holiday?
“Make my wish come true,” he teases, some of that spark back in his eyes, his lips twitching smugly in the corners, and Kate arches on the toes of her boots, wipes the amusement from his mouth and steals the breath from his lungs with the fuse of her lips.
Castle goes still against her, but only for a moment, then he’s wrapping around her, his hands roaming at her back while hers ascend to his jaw, claim his cheeks. He tastes like gingerbread and peppermint, the scent of pine clinging to his skin, and she hums at the rise of his hand to the side of her throat, the brush of his thumb to that sensitive spot behind her ear.
He doesn’t confine her, his hold on her loose despite the want she can taste on his tongue as it strokes along hers, and she rewards him with a nip of her teeth, moans at the retaliation in his hips.
“Wow,” he breathes when they’re forced to part for air, the heat of his exhale coating her lips. “Merry Christmas indeed.”
Kate huffs and shakes her head, their noses colliding at the motion, and she expects the riot of panic to come, wage through her, but this moment, standing in the deserted break room with him on Christmas Eve, is surprisingly peaceful.
A moment she doesn’t necessarily want to end, but-
“You should go,” she mumbles, resting her forehead against his before the protest can bloom on his swollen lips. “You’ve got Christmas and I’m working.”
Castle sighs, but nods his understanding, angles her head with the hand curved at her nape to seal one more kiss to her mouth, suckling on her bottom lip until she’s gasping, pushing him away.
“Okay, I know, just - wow,” he repeats, his eyes hazy with arousal that flickers like falling flakes of snow through his gaze. “Can we - do I - again?”
“Again?” she echoes with the amusement unable to be contained as it bubbles to her lips.
“I know not - not right now, but-”
“I have New Year’s off,” she murmurs, the nerves in her stomach finally making their appearance, but Castle lights up like a Christmas tree.
“That would be perfect. Perfect Christmas, perfect New Year’s, I’m having an incredible holiday season.”
Kate chuckles and scrapes a hand through her hair, drifts past him for the gifts he had come bearing on the table.
“Ah and that’s a peppermint mocha latte, along with the gingerbread cookies I mentioned,” he explains as she opens the tin out of curiosity, suppressing her grin at the pile of cookies decorated with white icing and various facial expressions inside. “Figured this could suffice for this year.”
Her eyebrows crease, but a smile – barely there and hardly noticeable – twitches at the corners of her lips as he approaches.
“You sound pretty sure you’ll still be around next Christmas,” she muses, plucking a cookie from the tin.
“Well, writing best sellers takes time, Detective. And research. Lots of research,” Castle insists. “And inspiration, which - as you so wonderfully just proved - you provide me with abundances of.”
“Go home, Castle,” she mutters as she takes a bite into a gingerbread man’s head, ignoring the delight shimmering through his gaze at her acceptance of his Christmas treats as he walks backwards towards the door.
“Merry Christmas, Kate.”
She releases a sigh under her breath as he leaves, his humming of that damn song as he strolls towards the elevator no longer so unpleasant when the press of his lips is still buzzing like electricity through her veins.