Why hello there!

So, every year, for the last 5 years or so, I've challenged myself to write a story during December. It is a Christmas story and I post one chapter a day until December 25th. Sometimes, if there's a big call for it, I'll write right through to the 31st & the 1st of January, but that's dependent on feedback.

Having said that, sometimes updating isn't every day. If it isn't, there's usually a couple of days where it's updated twice. The goal is to post the last chapter on Christmas Day, December 25th. So far, I've made it every year, so here's to hoping this one won't be any different. That does mean that most of my other stories are being put aside until after the 14th, when I'm done everything.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the start!

December 1, 2010

Detective Kate Beckett was a Christmas fiend.

Most wouldn't necessarily expect it of her, especially since she wasn't particularly close with any biological family, but Kate absolutely adored Christmas. When December first rolled around, Kate took an extra fifteen minutes in the morning, just to clear out her car of every CD and replace them all with Christmas ones. It was just who she was.

Because it had been who Johanna Beckett was.

At first, after her mother's gruesome murder, Kate and her father had avoided celebrating Christmas. There was just nothing they wanted to do if Johanna wasn't there to do it with them. But then, as things had settled, as Kate has started at the police academy and started talking to someone about what was going on, Christmas had re-emerged in her life.

And it became even more important when it saved her father's.

So when Kate had gone to bed the night before, she'd been downright giddy. Today was December first, and when her alarm trilled at her shrilly, Kate reacted by all but jumping out of bed. She snatched her iPod off the table and happily snapped it into the speakers in her bathroom while she turned on the shower. She deliberately picked out a red sweater and pulled it over her head, the music from the bathroom speakers still piping into her bedroom from the open bathroom door. She hummed while she made her coffee and all but danced out the door. She even sang shamelessly in the car on the drive to the precinct.

If she had an extra spring in her step as she walked into the homicide bullpen, all she got was a raised eyebrow from Esposito.

"Morning Gents," she said, dropping her bag by her desk and heading to the break room. Her partner wouldn't be by with her morning fix for another couple of hours yet and she was due for her next fix. She settled into her desk, humming under her breath because she couldn't hold herself back.

"It's that time of year again," Esposito said as she returned to her desk.

She flashed them a wide grin. "It is."

Ryan groaned and Kate raised an eyebrow.

"There's something wrong with Christmas?"

"Not wrong," Ryan replied. "Just… Repetitive."

"Repetitive," Kate said, voice without inflection.

"Yeah," he answered. "The same songs, the same decorations, the same stress…"

Kate just raised an eyebrow.

Ryan retreated quickly. "It's not that I don't like Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, okay? I like getting together with my family, eating food, I'm freaking Irish. But everything leading up to it?" He shook his head. "I could do without it."

Esposito shook his head. "Dude, you get excited about buying your mother a gift."

"That's my Mom," Ryan retorted.

Esposito just raised an eyebrow as Kate found herself chuckling quietly. She didn't always show her amusement at their antics but with it being December first, she was in such a good mood that it slipped through. She'd just opened up her e-mail when her phone rang.


The apartment was a small, one-bedroom establishment that had been absolutely torn apart. It wasn't new to see crime scenes like this and inevitably in certain ways, it made evidence collection a lot easier, but it also meant sifting through all of it for the elusive smoking gun. She stood with her hands on her hips as she surveyed the scene. Lanie was already there, bent over the body of a brunette.


She spun around at the uncharacteristic greeting of the man behind her and raised an eyebrow at him. "Castle."

"What do we have?"

Her eyebrow arched higher. He always had a quick quip, some smartassed comment and even a much more creative greeting. But this was a very understated Richard Castle. And it was odd. "Alicia Pine," she began slowly. "Super found her when he came to work on her plumbing."

He stepped closer, then looked down when his shoe made a crunching sound. He bent down to pick up a little 'O'. "I think I know what she had for breakfast." His brow wrinkled. "But what's it doing out here?"

"You've never had breakfast in front of the morning news, Castle?" Lanie piped up as she made a note on her clipboard. Then her attention turned to Kate. "She was strangled. There's some nice red finger marks around her neck. I'm going to get her back to the lab now and see if I can lifts some prints right off her neck." She shrugged. "It's a long shot, but maybe we'll get lucky."

Kate smiled. "Here's to hoping we get lucky. The last thing I need this month is a string of strangulations."

"This month?" Castle asked as Kate went to hunt down the rest of her team. "What's so special about this month?"

She looked at him in confusion. "Um… Christmas? Come on Castle, I expected you of all people, the king of parties, to be excited about the holiday season."

If anything, the downturned look on his face only intensified. "Don't remind me."

Kate actually stopped to face him. "I'm sorry, am I to assume that you don't like Christmas?"

He sighed, "Look, Beckett, it's not a big deal, okay?"

"Not a big deal? I'm sorry, this is the man that needled me about dressing up for Halloween, that told me I had no imagination because I couldn't see the steampunks as cool. You're the one that pegged me for the girl who stopped believing in Santa Clause when I was really young," she replied, ticking the points off on her fingers. "I think your apparent aversion to Christmas is definitely a big deal."

When he met her eyes she was surprised to be able to identify pain in the poker face he tried to put forward. But she knew him too well by this point – they'd been through too much for her not to – and she'd seen that look in his eyes before. Usually, it was when Alexis had done something that went against how he looked at their father-daughter relationship. But Christmas? She expected to find him just as excited about it as she was.

Apparently, she was utterly wrong.

And that shocked her.

"Can we just focus on the case?"

God, the role reversal wasn't lost on her. Usually she was the one trying to get him to focus, not the other way around. Either way, she turned back to the scene as a surprisingly awkward silence settled over her and Castle.

Esposito broke it, and there was a piece of Kate that was shocked how quickly they both latched onto the lifeline.

"She's got a boyfriend," the detective said, handing Kate a picture. She handed it over to Castle after taking a look.

"He have a name?" she asked.

"We're still looking," Ryan answered from the messy kitchen table. "So far, all I've got are bills addressed to our vic."

"Sugar Mama?" Castle inquired.

Ryan could only offer a shrug.

Kate blew out a breath and darted her gaze to Castle. He continued to stand there and Kate couldn't help but feel off about the whole situation. "Keep looking and get back to the precinct."

Ryan nodded. "Consider it done."

So, first chapter, first day. What do we think so far?