New Year's Resolution: Write more! Hopefully time and life permit this goal...


"Beckett, you don't really have to wear that."

"No, no, Castle. You said so yourself. It's a family tradition."

"I was just kidding. I thought you knew that. I didn't think..."

"What Castle? You didn't think what? That I would actually go out and buy, not rent, mind you, but buy a Pocahontas costume? Didn't think I would braid my hair and generally make a fool of myself, simply because you told me about a crazy family tradition, because you had spun such a fantastically ridiculously real sounding story about all your past Thanksgivings of Martha dressed as the happy pioneer homemaker and Alexis as the little Indian girl? No, why on earth would I ever believe that you had some kind of crazy family tradition, like, I don't know, say, Martha making hundred proof Glugg for Christmas, or you dressing up as an overgrown man-rabbit to personally deliver chocolate Easter eggs to Alexis when she was a kid? No, the real question here is why would I ever even think that this one might not be true?" Kate breathed heavily, struggling to take in enough oxygen to make up for what she spent on her rant. Castle blinked silently, unable to respond. His Adam's apple bulged as he swallowed, his tell that he knew he was wrong.

"No, no, Castle," she repeated with a little lighter air. Giving him just an inch of breathing room. "You said so yourself. Family tradition." Her look turned mischievous as she gave him an up and down scan, the type usually reserved for the parade of business women rushing annoyedly past New York's finest construction workers.

Castle started to recover from the glowering tongue lashing that on one hand made him cower and on the other made him want to rip her clothes off. Frankly, he preferred a different kind of tongue lashing from her and was still hoping that might come to pass, but for now, there were guests and turkey and that god-awful looking cranberry concoction that Pi had walked in with just before Kate had dragged Castle into the bedroom, his costume firmly gripped in her hand.

"Well, you can go out there dressed like that if you want, but I am not going out there like this."

"Oh, no, Castle, you are not getting out of this one."

"But Beckett..." Castle whined childishly. "It's not exactly...flattering."

"Oh, I don't know, it definitely shows off some of the things I love about you," Kate seductively pushed her tongue between her teeth and smiled, her eyes lowering to his...giblets. Castle self-consciously covered himself up.

"Kate, it's too small. It's too...tight..." Castle shifted uncomfortable as he tried to rearrange himself in the unfortunately snug plus-fours.

"It is a bit, isn't it?" Kate tried to stifle a giggle unsuccessfully.

"Seriously Kate, it's not funny. You know my pant size. If you were going to make me do this, the least you could have done was get the right size."

"Sorry, Castle. I could have sworn I picked up the right ones. Honest mistake." She added that last part as her hand came up to cover the laughter that was threatening to burst out of her. She wasn't sure how much longer she could stand there staring at him without succumbing to the sheer delight she was feeling from having outwitted him.

"Oh. My. God." Castle stared at her in shock. Kate snapped to attention, composing herself as best she could, a question on the tip of her tongue until he continued. "You did this on purpose."

"What, I...?"

"You did, you totally did."

"Castle..."

"You got the wrong size on purpose to make this ridiculous costume even more embarrassing. I can't believe you would sink so low. Beckett, I'm..."

"Castle, I just...well, you started this..."

"No, no, I see what's going on here. The student thinks she has finally beaten the master." Castle's calm and almost menacing voice brought a smile back to Kate's lips. It wouldn't have been quite so funny, but that costume was truly ridiculous, and really at least two sizes too tight.

"Well," he continued. "Just you wait my dear. You know this means that I will have to get you back for this. Just when you've gotten all smug because you think I've forgotten, just when you think there's no way I could possibly still remember, just when you think you've gotten away with it, that's when I'll -"

"-you'll what, Castle? Get me back? Really? Like you did when I surprised you for your birthday? Come on Castle, admit it. I'm better at this than you."

"Better than...? Admit...? Serious...?"

"It's okay Castle," Beckett teased. "You've lost your touch. It's okay, you can admit it to me."

"Lost my..." Castle sputtered.

Beckett ignored him again. "Castle," she placed a soothing hand on his arm, her touch causing him to lose his train of thought. "You know, when a man gets to a certain age -"

"Age...?" he mumbled, his brow furrowing, his eyes rising up from her hand.

"-sometimes he...how should I put this?...loses his edge, you know? It's okay Castle, I can just go easy on you. Don't worry about it." Kate winked at him, completely driving him over the edge.

"Lost my edge? Better than me? Lost my touch?" He rallied his thoughts enough to rebuke her suggestion. "Oh, Kate, dear Kate, you do not even know what you have begun. I'm throwing down the gauntlet, I'm slapping your face with my glove - metaphorically speaking at least - I'm declaring that this...man in his prime...is at war with you. It's gorilla warfare time my love and you are about to experience an all-out, full-blown, larger-than-life barrage of my wit and cunning. You don't even know."

"Hmm." Kate responded without emotion. "You do know that you just used three adjectives in a row that basically mean the same thing to describe your forthcoming barrage, right? Anyways, I'm starving. I'm gonna go get some food. I'll see you whenever you figure out how to get that zipper done up." With one last look at his crotch, and a girlish little giggle, Kate turned on her heel and walked confidently out of the room, closing the door behind her. But not before she managed a sharp smack on his butt on her way by.

Castle stood in the middle of the room, mouth still agape from the lack of concern in her voice. Didn't she know what he could do to her? Didn't she know who she was messing with? Who the heck did she think she was, calling him old? Seriously?

Castle unclenched his fists that had balled up at his sides and brought his fingertips together in front of his mouth, Mr. Burns-style. "Katherine Houghton Beckett, you will rue the day. You will rue the day. You mark my words." A maniacal grin spread across Castle's face like the day the Grinch hatched his evil plan to rid all the Whos in Whoville of their beloved Christmas cheer.

A moment later, Castle's stomach growled and broke him out of his evil planning. He looked down in frustration as he considered just how he was going to go out in front of his family and friends in this ridiculous get-up. She was good. He had to admit that, she was good.

Castle walked over to his walk-in closet and pulled down one of many crisp, white dress shirts. Glancing quickly at it, he suddenly formed an idea that would at least get him through the meal in the costume without the additional embarrassment of revealing to everyone the exact tightness of his pants. He returned the shirt to it's place on the clothing rod and rummaged through his various other white shirts until he found the one he was looking for. He quickly pulled it on and left it untucked, it's considerable length covering his little pilgrim. Castle pulled on the costume's jacket and checked himself once in the mirror before deciding it would pass.

As Castle walked out of his bedroom, he discovered that most of their guests had finally arrived. They all turned their heads in unison, eyebrows raising in surprise like a wave around the room, at the sight of his unusual choice of clothing.

"Dad..."

"Oh, Richard..."

"Dude..." Ryan and Espo said in unison.

"Castle, where on earth did you get that shirt?" Kate looked up in surprise at how he had somehow managed to make himself appear frankly better than she ever thought would be possible. The frilly, ruffled fabric that ran lengthwise down the front of the shirt actually made his look more authentic than the super tight shirt she had picked out for him would have.

"What this?" Castle asked with confidence, toying with the frilly fabric. "It's from my Edgar Allen Poe costume."

"Your what?" Kate asked confused.

"My Edgar Allen Poe costume, from Hallowe'en five years ago."

Recognition dawned on Kate's face as she remembered the party Castle had invited them all to not long after he started working with the NYPD. A smile lit her face as she conjured an image of him when she arrived at that party.

"Dude, that party was sick, bro," Esposito gushed.

"Oh, right, I remember that party," Ryan added. "Wait, Castle, wasn't that the one when Beckett's costume scared the crap out of you?"

"What? I..." Castle looked from Ryan to Kate as he tried to remember what she had dressed up as.

"Oh, that's right, Castle. Remember, my trench coat?"

Castle frowned as he thought back, until it suddenly hit him - the trench coat, the frog... His shoulders slumped forward as the thought dawned on him. Kate walked over and lightly touched the ruffle on his shirt. "Looks like I've always been the master, Castle. Whenever will you learn?" She smiled as she kissed him lightly on the cheek.