Castle laughed as his girlfriend leapt from the taxi the second he had paid.

"Come on Castle," Kate begged, reaching for his hands and pulling him from the seat. "I want to see my present!"

Castle smirked, "And you call me a child."

She swatted him on the arm in return, before racing for the door to his apartment block, pulling him along with her.

They gave the doorman a passing wave then raced up the stairs in silence. Castle could practically feel the excitement flowing off of her in waves as she ran. It was infectious. He quickly felt the worry of how she would accept his gift fade away to be replaced with juvenile excitement.

When they reached the loft Castle grabbed her waist and spun her around. "Close your eyes Beckett." He demanded.

She glared at him then did as she was told, standing still, whilst he unlocked the door.

As soon as it was open Castle covered her eyes with his hands, not trusting her not to peek, before leading her inside.

Kate assumed that they were no further than the kitchen when Castle whispered, "Happy Birthday," in her ear before pulling away his hands.

"You bought this for me?"

Kate Beckett spun around to face her smirking boyfriend. "Well I didn't steal it-"

"Why?"

"What?"

"Why, would you buy me this?" Kate asked as she crossed her arms and glared him down.

"Because it's your birthday Beckett and on birthdays people buy each other gifts." Castle replied looking at her as though she was the crazy one in this situation.

"Yes Castle I am aware of that, but why would you ever think to buy me …this" She didn't dare look behind her and instead gestured to her gift over her shoulder.

"Well I was going to buy you jewellery but you already have loads. Then I thought about shoes but I soon realised that I would struggle to find a pair that you don't already own. So I asked your dad for advice and we got talking over the phone, got a little distracted, then ended up talking for hours about what you were like as a child." Castle stepped forward and wrapped his arms around her waist. "And might I add you were very very cute."

He bent down to press his forehead against hers but she pulled away. "Oh no you're not charming your way out of this one."

Castle sighed and looked her straight in the eye. "If you really don't like it I can take it back-"

"Take it back!" she interrupted, "Take it back! What sort of person do you think I am?"

Castle looked for the first time since he had presented her gift to her, terrified. "But you made it sound like you don't want-"

"It's not the want that's the problem here! It's the practicality of it all." Kate snapped. She turned again to face her present. "Richard Castle what the hell am I supposed to do with a horse?"

"Technically it's a-"

Castle stopped immediately when he felt her eyes burn through him. "Okay fine fine I'll explain. My friend Tobias works at a ranch just outside the city. A few years back he almost went bankrupt and was nearly closing so I gave him a loan. In return he promised me that if I ever wanted a horse of my own I could keep it with him. So, I was doing some research the other week and I got a bit distracted and came across a newspaper article about a farm that had been neglected for so long that by the time the authorities got there most of the animals were dead. But there was three horses still alive and in need of a home and Dollar here was one of them. Then to top it all off your dad said that you went riding when you went on holidays together and I just knew that the universe was telling me to buy her."

Kate absorbed the information and slowly made her way over to Dollar who was standing just outside the kitchen. She ran her hand through her flaxen mane and couldn't help but smirk when Dollar tilted her golden head until Kate tickled under her chin. She really was a beautiful animal and she had always wanted one. Plus Castle did have a plan in place for her future and the poor girl had been messed around with enough.

"Okay Castle, fine I'll keep the horse, but on one condition." She turned to face him again, "never bring her back into the loft."