A/N: I've been revisiting a lot of these half-finished one-shots lately, so there may be a sudden onslaught of randomness coming from me in the coming weeks. The next chapters for Lost and Found and No Rest for the Weary are both about half done, so updates should be out by this weekend. (Obviously, I'm giving myself a lot of leeway here...haha.)

I'd written up maybe 90% of this some two months ago, but I couldn't seem to finish it. In the end, I went with the "less is more" theory and added maybe two lines. Haha. This is strictly a character piece, so for all you romance lovers out there, I hope you'll still find this enjoyable.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think!

Spoilers: Takes place during "He's Dead, She's Dead" (3.02).

Disclaimer: Andrew Marlowe is Castle's amazing showrunner. ABC is the network that houses Castle. I appear nowhere in the credits. That should tell you everything about my status, but just in case you missed it, I make no profit from writing this piece of fiction about fiction.

Finding Magic

Kate Beckett had never been what anyone would call fanciful. Even as a little girl, she'd rejected the notions of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny as fiction because their existence did not follow the rules of logic.

(She vaguely recalled her mother sighing when her three-year old self protested that the presents under the tree labeled from Santa Claus couldn't really be from the North Pole because they didn't have a chimney for jolly old St. Nick to tumble through. If she were older, Kate would have been able to interpret the look Jim Beckett sent Johanna as saying she definitely has your genes.)

Magic, she'd always believed, was something fun to think about on a purely hypothetical plane, but never something truly worth believing. Besides, if she had time to dream about magic, then she had time to spend doing something elseā€”like making money to finally buy her '94 Harley soft-tail or giggling with Maddy over boys and kisses (with tongue!) or planning where she wanted to spend a semester abroad in college.

Add to that the fact that her grandfather was an amateur magician who used to wow her with his tricks and then engaged her mentally by showing her exactly how to pull off said tricks, and Kate was ingrained with the deep knowledge that magic was nothing but smoke and mirrors. It wasn't anything to be trusted because it had no true substance beneath the illusion.

Then she returned home with her father after dinner one winter night and she knew, she knew, beyond a doubt that the supernatural did not exist because if it did, her prayers would not have gone unanswered.

(She's not dead, she's not. She's waiting at home and didn't meet Dad and me for dinner because she got held up with one of her cases. She's not dead. Please God, she can't be.

But she is. And no amount of magic in the world will bring her back.)

In those first years after That Night, Kate had to reconcile herself with the truth that her mother wasn't going to not die, and that she...she wasn't going to find her mother's killer, no matter that she'd spent almost every off-duty moment for three years going through the files with a fine-toothed comb, and then with an even finer-toothed comb.

There was no magic. There was no moment when everything suddenly clicked and tumblers fell into place as the universe rearranged itself to accommodate the story of a desperate daughter finally finding vengeance for her murdered mother. There was only cold, harsh reality that slapped her with dead end after dead end until her obsession forced her into therapy.

But then... the universe did do something when a cocky writer with a penchant for butting in everywhere she demanded he stay out suddenly dropped into her life and tore open the gaping rift in her soul that she'd barely been able to start sewing up.

It wasn't magic, she convinced herself, that he'd found the biggest break in her mother's case in ten years.

It was callousness: the way he dug up the wound she was still too raw to handle. It was arrogance: that he thought he could solve the mystery of her mother's murder as easily as he plotted points about Derrick Storm climbing up through a dumbwaiter to bypass a Czech assassin in order to save the Swiss ambassador's daughter. It was destruction of a fragile trust that she gave out so rarely precisely because she understood that trust was not something to be handed out on anything but repeated evidence of reliability.

And yet...yet maybe there was something more than strictly empirical about how their relationship had evolved from God-can't-I-just-shoot-him-now to annoying-pet-but-surprisingly-effective to I-trust-you-to-have-my-back (the so-don't-screw-it-up was unspoken but inherent on her end). Their partnership worked on a level that had vaulted her solve-rate through the roof (though she refused refused refused to believe he had anything to do with that; correlation, not causation).

In her weaker moments, Kate could admit to herself that she did think about the possibilities of a happily-ever-after with Castle, but she dismissed them almost as quickly as they came. It was ridiculous to think about something that would never work because any further notions of fate or meant to be were destroyed by all the Demmings, Ginas, Joshes, and plain bad timing in the world.

Sometimes she wondered if the universe was having a hell of a time at her expense, or if it was her lack of faith in fate that had life constantly throwing curve balls and fast balls and breaking balls at her as she struck out again and again.

Whatever the case, she refused to entrust her life into the hand of some nameless, unmentionable thing. She needed to have full control over her choices because there was already so much in life that she couldn't anticipate.

She didn't need fate or magic or the supernatural to help her cope when she had her wits, her determination, and her sheer grit.

She didn't need a psychic to give her closure or hope for the future.

She didn't need it.

She really didn't.

So when Castle kept pressing her about why she was adamant to call coincidence what he named magic, she just had to ask.

"Castle, why is so important to you that I believe all this stuff about fate and psychics and Santa Claus?"

His expression was surprisingly serious as he replied, "Because if you don't even believe in the possibility of magic, then you'll never ever find it."

And in that brief moment when their eyes connected before Toni Johnson opened the door, Beckett found herself thrown off guard.

His words touched her more than she dared admit even to herself because sometimes she could swear that he saw straight through to the secret depths of her that she didn't know about.

Somehow, he'd burrowed past the eminently practical Beckett to make contact with the deeply buried Kate who'd always been suppressed in favor of logic. He'd peeled off the Beckett who, even as a child, had refused to sleep with a nightlight because she knew, she knew, that the monsters under her bed weren't real, to find at the core the Kate who'd been terrified regardless.

Kate Beckett did not believe in magic.

But sometimes, just sometimes, he made her want to believe.