"Maybe Christmas, he thought...doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps..."

-How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

A Little Bit More

"So." Castle comes out of nowhere and slides into his chair by Kate's desk, propping his chin on his hand and wiggling his eyebrows at her. He has a cheery red scarf flung around his neck and smells like snow. "What are you doing? Something fun?"

Kate glances at him from under her eyelashes and ignores the stupid little flip in her stomach at his unexpected arrival. "Paperwork, Castle. Your favorite." She raises her own eyebrows and refuses to smile at his excessively happy, holiday-cheer face. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" she asks. "Are you here to help?"

"Nooooo." Castle leans back in his chair. "Why would I do that? No, I'm here to give you this." He sets a small, festively wrapped square box in the middle of her report.

Kate can't stop herself from rearing back in her seat. "What is that?" she says, much the same way she would ask about an insect or a rodent or something else unpredictable and mildly terrifying.

"A Christmas present!" Castle crows, clearly delighted with himself. "Open it."

Oh no. Kate's stomach does that stupid thing again because they don't…she can't…She clears her throat. "It's not Christmas," she says, annoyed, at him and her ridiculous stomach. "And we aren't exchanging presents."

"Christmas is in five days, and you should have clarified the present situation earlier." Castle gives her an exaggerated shrug. "Sorry. Now it's too late. Open it."

"No thanks." Kate picks up the box with her fingertips and places it in front of him. The suspiciously small box that might as well be an actual can of worms. No.

"You'll hurt my feelings," Castle wheedles, pushing the box back towards her. "Aren't you curious? I put a lot of thought into this."

That's what Kate's afraid of. "Castle," she huffs. "I don't have time for this today. We've had three bodies since yesterday morning -"

"Three bodies and you didn't call me once?" Castle interjects, outraged.

Kate rolls her eyes. "The cases were boring, no reason to call you. Suspects are all already in custody."

That's only half true. The other half is that murders around the holidays tend to be extra senseless and depressing and Kate just can't deal with Castle's over-the-top bright cheer, his relentless Christmas happiness, not when she spends this month and the next just trying to make it through without being dragged down into the dark.

"Yeah, but -" Castle blusters.

"Anyway," Kate interrupts. "Now I have a ton of paperwork, and don't have time for.." she waves her hand over the frighteningly festive box. "This."

Castle - shockingly - says nothing. He just squints a little, doing that unnerving thing like he's trying to read her soul.

"Sooooo," Kate says, pulling out a blank form. "I'll call you if anything comes up." It's just that he really needs to leave, is all. She's busy, and she can't work with him staring at her like…he just needs to go. "If I don't see you before the holidays have..."

"Beckett," Castle cuts in, like she wasn't even talking. He's abruptly changed tactics and is using his very best "let's be reasonable" tone. It should be laughable because it's Castle, but sometimes it's oddly affective in a way that leaves Kate off balance.

"What?" she asks, glancing at her notes so she can fill in the victim's address on the paperwork. Don't look at him. It's worse if she looks at him.

"The sooner you open your gift the sooner I'll leave."

Kate pauses, her pen halfway to the paper. That's…a surprisingly good argument, actually, if a little anticlimactic. Castle is fully capable of sitting in that chair all day waiting for her to open his present, and she doesn't want that. She doesn't. Obviously.

"Fine," Kate mutters, giving in with no grace whatsoever. She snatches up the box and pulls the paper off, ruthlessly refusing to be charmed by the elaborate bow.

Castle bounces a little in his chair.

Kate opens the box. Inside is…what is this? She carefully pulls out a a delicate chain festooned with some sort of charm. Kate squints. It looks like….oh, no way.

Castle actually claps his hands. "It's a pony! Get it? I told you I would get you a pony."

He's beaming. Oh good lord. He is so, just -

"This is dumb. You're dumb." Kate tries to study the necklace without being obvious. It's silver and sparkly and she would have loved it more than anything when she was twelve. Oh god, the pony's eye is some sort bright jewel, and knowing Castle it's probably an actual diamond. "Where did you get this?"

"Tiffany's," Castle says, the of course unspoken but implied, and holy shit, she's going to kill him.

"I don't believe you did this."

"Come on." He gives her shoulder a light shove, his smile brighter than a Christmas tree. "You think it's funny."

Kate tries not to notice how eager he looks, like he really cares if she gets the joke, if she likes it. "This is too expensive to be funny."

Castle scoffs. "It's not that expensive."

Kate snaps the box shut and tries to hand it back to him. "Pretty sure you and I have different definitions of expensive."

Like one of them can afford to throw away a hundred thousand dollars on a failed plan to catch the murder of someone else's mother, but no, no, Kate shuts down that train of thought immediately, because the reason for Castle's impetuous but overwhelming generosity is something she absolutely can't think about yet. Or maybe ever. She shakes the box at him. "I'm not taking this, Castle."

Castle waves a hand in the air, dismissing the expense and dodging the box she's waving at him. "It's rude to comment on the price of a gift, Beckett. Just think of it as part of the magic of Christmas." He smiles at her, like he's having fun, and something in Kate snaps.

"Castle. I'm not taking this, and I don't want your Christmas magic," she almost snarls, and if the merriment drops right off Castle's face then that's just too bad, no one asked him for his pony necklaces and his holiday cheer and his heartfelt, intimate gestures that are just too much to handle right now. Kate rattles the box at him, her arm outstretched, and tries not to notice that her hand is quivering.

"Fine." Castle takes the box, finally, his warm fingers accidentally brushing hers, not that she notices. "You win the battle, Beckett, but not the war. I will get you to accept a pony. And while I'm at it, I'll show you the magic of Christmas."

"Really?" Kate snorts. "How do you plan to do that?"

"Oh, you know. Three ghosts at midnight, visions of Christmas past. The usual."

Kate very firmly doesn't think of Christmases past, when her mom was alive and Christmas really was magical. She forces a sharp laugh past the lump in her throat. "Save us both the aggravation Castle, because that's never happening. Either one of those things."

Castle gives her an appraising look and says nothing for several long seconds while Kate stares unseeing at the form on her desk. Finally, "I bet I can," he says quietly.

Kate huffs, "No, you ca - "

"No," Castle cuts her off. "I mean, I actually bet you. As in a wager. I'll get you to accept a pony and Christmas magic, and if I don't, I'll do your paperwork for two weeks."

Kate can't stop the eye roll. "You're not a police officer, you can't - "

"I will help you do your paperwork for two weeks," Castle corrects, barreling on undeterred.

Kate rubs her temple. She's getting a headache. "If I agree to this, will you leave?"

"Yes! And you probably won't see me for a whole day! Unless there's a body drop, but -"


"Did you say fine?" Castle actually does a little hop of excitement. "Yay! This is going to be awesome!"

"I'm very positive that it's not."

But Castle isn't listening. "Okay, okay, I've got a lot to do. Call me if there's a case!" And then he's gone toward the elevators, his red scarf flapping behind him like a flag of good cheer.

Kate forces her attention back to the boring files on her desk, and very, very carefully doesn't think about what Castle's planning, or why he even cares. Because she doesn't. Care.

Prompt - Season 2 AU Castle "buys" Beckett a pony named 'Magic". He gave her the gift of Magic

Submitted by Indrani_S.

Filled as a gift to Nic6879 (ColieMacKenzie) for their generous contibution to /ThankYouTerri.

See all the prompts and fills at tagged/tyfill

This SHOULD have been posted in December (thus the Christmas theme) as a fill for the wonderful ThankYouTerri campaign. Thanks to everyone involved for putting up with my lateness. I am very grateful to be a part of this, however belatedly.