Hello, Castle fandom! So, I got some free time from my hectic school schedule, so I decided to write my Secret Santa 2011 fanfic for VivoRisataAmore. Merry Christmas, VivoRisataAmore! I hope it lives up to your expectations. :)

The prompt was: A childhood Christmas fic for any of the characters, or just flashbacks with current life mixed in.

Disclaimer: I own nothing… but I put them on my Christmas list. :D

BTDubbs, flashbacks are in italics.

CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER

Kate Beckett pulled her coat impossibly closer to her as she stepped outside the precinct. It was below freezing in New York City, yet there was no snow on the ground. And it was already Christmas Eve. As she walked to grab she admired the twinkling lights the wrapped up the light poles. Kate had always enjoyed Christmas, since she was a little girl.

Across the street a group of carolers were walking and spreading the Christmas cheer with their voices in unison.

Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin?

In the lane, snow is glistenin...

Not really, she thought, chuckling. She had stopped, her hands jammed in her pockets and her chin hiding underneath her scarf in an attempt to stay warm. Closing her eyes, she drifted back to the first time she saw carolers…

"Katie! Katie, come down here!"

Her socked feet padding down the stairs, a five year old Kate followed her mother's voice. She could hear her musical laughter from the foyer at the front of the cabin.

"What is it, Mommy?" she asked as she entered the room. Johanna was looking out the frosted window. Now Kate could hear music coming from outside.

"Look, Katie." Her mother whispered, pointing outside the window.

Katie braced herself on the window sill and peered out. Against the pure white background, she saw a group of big kids wrapped in warm clothing and singing Jingle Bells in front of their house. Katie smiled and looked back at her mom, who was opening the closet.

"Come here. Get your coat and boots on and we'll go outside."

After they were both properly bundled up, Johanna picked her up and opened the front door. The cold air washed over Kate's face as the music grew louder. Closing the door behind them, Johanna stood on the porch holding her on her hip.

Wrapping her arms around her mother's neck, Katie watched the carolers. She smiled and got lost in the beauty of the music. They had changed to a slower one now.

Silent night, holy night

All is calm, all is bright

The sweet melody filled the air, and Johanna held her close as the wind blew the cold through their jackets. Katie tightened her grip on her mother and rested her forehead on her cheek, closing her eyes and absorbing her mother's warmth…

Kate sighed and opened her eyes. That was a good memory, she smiled. All of a sudden, she did not feel so cold anymore.

Remembering where she was expected, she stepped up to the street to hail a cab downtown.

Richard Castle opened the door to his loft. "Kate! Come in."

Kate smiled and crossed the threshold. "Hey! Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, yourself." He closed the door behind her and locked it.

She swept a glance over Castle's appearance. He wore a simple yet cozy looking burgundy sweater and jeans. Even though she loved his usual buttoned up shirt and dress pants, his casual look was the best.

"Can I take your coat?" Before she could shed the coat to hand it to him, Rick's large hands were pulling it from her shoulders. Her skin tingled when he touched her exposed neck.

"Thanks." Kate touched her neck when he wasn't looking. As he placed her coat in the coat closet, Kate walked further into the room.

She could distinctly hear How The Grinch Stole Christmas playing on the plasma TV in the corner. Her favorite.

As she looked into the dining area, two candles burning bright on the table. It was properly set, but for only two people.

"Alexis and Martha aren't here?" I called out to him, trying not to sound concerned that it was just the two of us.

Rick walked from the door to the kitchen and attended to a couple steaming dishes cooking on the range. "Yep, both aren't here. It was Meredith's turn for Christmas this year, and Mother hosting a party at her acting school for her students."

Kate frowned. If she hadn't accepted his invitation yesterday, both of them would have spent Christmas Eve alone. For her, that was normal. But for him…

"I'm sorry." She said quietly.

He looked up at her and smiled, still stirring a small pot of what looked like gravy. "Hey, it's okay. I have you, right?"

Kate blushed slightly. "Yep."

In her sudden shyness, the detective wandered around the living room aimlessly. Taking a double take, she finally noticed the huge decorated tree in the far corner of the loft. "Holy cow, Castle! How did you get that tree in here?"

She heard him laugh from the kitchen.

"Carefully."

Kate drew closer to it, admiring the shiny ornaments and garland. Smiling, she inhaled the scent of the tree. The spiky smell sent her back…

"It smells funny, Daddy."

Jim Beckett laughed at the four year old little girl sitting on his shoulders. He and Katie were admiring the newly bought Christmas tree in the middle of the living room.

"It's the smell of Christmas, Katie." He explained wistfully; as Kate ran her tiny hands though her father's short hair. It was calming.

He felt her take a huge breath through her nose against the back of his head. She held it in, but then sneezed suddenly.

Her father's hearty laugh echoed through the room. "Bless you."

Ever polite, she replied. "Thank you, Daddy." Kate gazed longingly at the door. "When's Mommy coming?"

Jim turned around to look at her. "She'll be here in a bit, sweetie. She had to work, remember?"

The little girl's eyes lit up and she smiled. "Right! She's puttin' the bad guy in jail!"

Her father smiled and set her down on the wooden floor. "That's right. Now, how about we get the tree all decorated before she gets home so she'll be surprised?"

Katie smiled and ran over to the ornaments that were all laid out on the dining room table. Over the next hour, Kate and her father found the perfect places for all the ornaments, and she helped him put the garland on the lower branches.

"All done!" She exclaimed, walking backwards to admire the whole tree. It looked magical.

Her father walked back to the table and grabbed a box wrapped in plastic. "Ah ah! Not yet!" He opened the package to show what was inside. "We still have to put on the tinsel!"

Kate looked at the long strands of silver in the box with wide eyes. "How?" She asked quietly.

"Here, like this." Jim pinched a couple of strands and draped them on one of the branches. "So it looks like snow or ice."

Katie's eyes filled with wonder as she grabbed some tinsel to put on the lower branches of the tree, dropping them daintily across the pine needles. Soon enough, the whole tree was covered in the silver strands, making it look even more magical and whimsical.

Kate looked out the window. "Is it going to snow, Daddy?"

Jim smiled, his eyes twinkling at his beloved daughter. From the weather report, he knew it was going to snow through the night that night. "If you wish for it, maybe."

Katie closed her eyes and made the biggest wish.

The detective smiled at remembering yet another happy memory. After her mom's death, most of them had been thrust into a box in her mind. A box that she didn't want to open because of the pain. She wondered if it was because of Castle that the memories were flooding in at a steady rate.

"I hope it snows tonight." She heard Rick coming up from behind her.

She smirked and turned around to face him. She used her father's words. "If you wish for it, maybe."

He cocked his eyebrow. "Katherine Beckett? Telling me to make a wish? Are you feeling okay? Do you need to sit down?" He said in a mock concerning voice, touching her forehead lightly with the back of his hand, causing a shiver to down her spine.

"No, I'm probably just cold." She answered, safely. Rick smiled and walked over to the side of the fireplace.

"Tada!" He exclaimed as he flipped a switch. Kate saw flames burst out from the bottom of the fake logs.

"Bravo, Castle. That looked so difficult." Kate smiled. She sat down on the couch, sinking into the comfortable cushion. She looked over to see the Grinch movie was ending on the TV.

"So, when are we eating?" She asked as Castle sat down next to her on the couch. She saw how he calculated the appropriate distance of where to sit next to her before he made his decision. In her mind though, he was too far away.

"About ten minutes. Still waiting on the chicken." He replied, looking at the credits flashing across the screen.

Kate nodded in acceptance.

Rick sighed and then looked at her. "So, want to listen to some music or something?" She tried her best not to smirk. He actually looked nervous.

"Sure." She answered. Rick nodded and picked up the stereo remote from the coffee table in front of them.

"I think Nat King Cole is in." He replied, turning on the massive stereo system.

Kate smiled and crinkled her nose from memory.

Johanna was surprised to come home and see the tree already decorated and beautiful. Katie smiled at her hard work being appreciated. She decided that she liked giving surprises.

The Beckett family sat on the couch, admiring the tree.

Jim got up and went to the record player. "I think this requires some music." He said, pulling out a Nat King Cole LP from the stack next to it and placing it in.

With the light scratch of the needle came the beautiful piano opening of "The Christmas Song".

Johanna hugged her daughter close, swaying their bodies back and forth to the rhythm. Kate found herself already dozing, extremely comfortable and safe in her mother's arms.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Johanna sang along, the volume of her voice opening Katie's eyes. She looked up at her mother's smiling face.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose

With her pointer finger and thumb, Johanna reached down and pinched Kate's nose. She squealed and giggled in surprise. She reached up to pinch her back, and now the whole family joined her laughter.

Kate smiled. Again. And just like that day many years ago, the piano of "The Christmas Song" played through the loft. She would never listen to this song and not think about her mother pinching her nose.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

Kate turned to see Rick singing along with his deep voice. It amazed her how soothing it was. Castle looked back at her smirking.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose

On "nose", Rick leaned forward and pantomimed grabbing her nose with his hand. Without thinking, Kate gasped in surprise. Her heart was pounding.

"What's wrong?" He asked quietly as the song continued.

Kate couldn't believe it. It was like he was reading her thoughts. She was still a little freaked out at the similarity, but she smiled anyway.

"Nothing," She smiled as big as she could. Before she could talk herself out of it, she reached her hand across to him.

At first he cringed and shut his eyes like she was going to slug him or grab his ear. She chuckled and lightly pinched his nose. "Honk."

He opened his eyes incredulously and touched his nose lightly. Had Kate Beckett just pinched his nose for fun? Where was that wall again?

She laughed and sat back into the couch. "My mom used to do that when this song would play. So, every time it comes on…" She left the sentence open, absently drawing shapes on her pant leg. She refused to look at Rick.

"It's a good memory?" He asked, so quiet Kate could barely hear him. She nodded, finally looking back up and meeting his beautiful blue eyes. They were full of several emotions, but the most noticeable was love.

"Thank you." Kate whispered, grasping his hand.

He turned his hand over to hold hers, rubbing his thumb along the back of her hand. "For what?"

"Would it be cheesy to say everything?" She chuckled, reveling in the soft warmth of Rick's hand around hers. This time there were no cuffs as an excuse.

His eyes twinkled. "Kind of. Would it be even cheesier to say 'always'?"

"Nope."

They were silent for a minute or two as the music continued to play in the background. Both of them could tell they were avoiding the real conversation they needed to be having, but for now, this was enough.

Rick squeezed her hand one last time and then released it. She automatically missed the contact. He stood up from the couch and held his hand out to her. "Come on, let's eat."

She took his hand gratefully and he pulled her up from the couch. "Finally." She exhaled, grinning mischievously.

"Yikes, that was a very Grinchy grin." He shuddered and walked away briskly into the dining area. Kate snorted.

"What?"

He looked back, embarrassed. "When I was little I used to get freaked out every time the Grinch would grin when he got the 'wonderful awful idea'. I refused to watch it for years."

The detective sniggered and followed him into the dining room where he was pouring wine into their glasses. "I can't believe Richard Castle, the master of the macabre, was scared of a cartoon smile."

"Oh shush." He pouted like a child, Kate still laughing at him as she took the wine glass.

The detective smiled, her eyes soft. She thought through all the memories that had flooded her mind this particular Christmas Eve.

As they sat down to eat their dinner joshing and laughing together, she knew this would be a Christmas to remember.

FIN

So, thoughts?

PS: Remember Castle's fear of the Grinch? BASED ON REAL LIFE. Well, my life, at least.