A/N: First and foremost, I am so so sorry I took so long to finish this. I've been incredibly busy this past week, but now I am officially on Christmas break and I am making it my mission to update every single one of my stories until January. Secondly, oh my god, you guys! I was so completely overwhelmed by the response to this little story. Thank you so so, so much. Really.

Christmas Spirit

Chapter 2

He led her to the dance floor, fingers entwined with hers, and soon they were moving to the rhythm that was playing along with the crowd. Kate still found completely unbelievable that this was actually happening. This entire encounter with this stranger felt utterly surreal to her, but she didn't let herself dwell on it. She was 26 years old and for once in her life she decided to act like her own age and enjoy herself for a little while, even if this night was all that they would have together.

The DJ changed the tune to a crowd favorite and she found herself moving closer and closer to his body as the dancing mass of people pushed her in his direction. One particularly excited dancer bumped into her and she lost her balance for a second, but his hands on her hips steadied her and kept her close. Her back was turned to him, so he took advantage of that and slowly, hesitantly, wrapped his arms around her waist, as if waiting for her to bolt at any moment.

She did freeze for a moment when she felt his arms around her, but relaxed into his chest soon enough, her hands covering his where they rested over her stomach. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the fact that she hadn't been with anyone in a while, but her body responded to this guy in a way that she had never felt before. She could feel all her nerve endings tingling with his proximity, his breath so close to her skin. When his lips gently pressed against the skin of her neck, she groaned at the sensation, heat spreading out from this point of contact to the rest of her aroused body.

He kept his light, gentle assault on her neck until she nearly couldn't take it anymore. Turning around in his arms, she met his eyes and held his gaze when he touched her cheek, caressing her skin softly. He smiled at her and looked down at her lips for a second, asking her permission. She didn't allow herself to think about it, just leaned in and touched his lips with hers in a slow kiss. His groan when their lips met only spurred her further, so she nipped at his lower lip with her teeth and soothed it with her tongue, immediately gaining entrance to his warm mouth.

The next few minutes were a bit of a haze in her mind. All she could remember afterwards was this all-consuming heat that took over her body and she had to detach herself from him in order to think straight and catch her breath. When she met his eyes again, she could see his pupils dilated and his breath coming out in short gasps. He grinned at her a little dazedly and leaned in again to press another kiss to her lips, this time slowly, gently.

"Wow." He let out a heavy breath and rested his forehead on hers. "That was…"

"Yeah." She blinked up at him, still a little out of it, baffled that a single kiss could affect her this much. "Yeah." She repeated and smiled at him, leaning in to steal another kiss. Now that she had gotten a taste of him, it seemed like she couldn't get enough. "Come on. I'll buy you a drink." She offered teasingly and he laughed, offering his hand to her.

"Lead the way, detective."

She took his hand and he pulled her against him for a second, catching her lips with his in a sloppy kiss, making her laugh.

"Come on, Mr. Castle. Let's cool down a little." She tugged on his hand and led him through the throngs of oblivious dancers.

Once they made it to the bar, Rick signaled to the bartender and ordered their drinks, wrapping an arm around her waist while they waited. She relaxed into him and rested her head back on his shoulder, letting out a contented sigh. And to think, her plans had been to spend tonight alone in her apartment, feeling sorry for herself.

"I still can't believe tonight turned out like this." His voice interrupted her thoughts and she turned her head to look at him. "I mean, my plans were to get a little drunk, then go home and pass out so I didn't have to think about the fact that my kid isn't spending Christmas with me." She offered him a small smile and laced her fingers with his. "And yet, here we are."

"I know the feeling." She told him and accepted the glass when the bartender handed it to her. "I have to say I had very similar plans. Except for the kid part." She grinned and he chuckled with a nod.

"It must be fate." He wiggled his eyebrows teasingly at her and she laughed, shaking her head, amused. "What? How else would you explain this?" He gestured between them. "I mean, you feel it too, right? I know I'm not crazy. There is something here."

"You're not crazy, Rick." She sighed, turning around in his arms, and met his eyes. "I'm just not good at this."

"Not good at what?" He frowned and she took a sip from her martini before answering.

"Being… social, I guess. Being with someone. I don't know. I've been on my own for a long time, so this is a little out of my depth, you know?" She looked away, but he touched her chin, making her meet his eyes again.

"Hey, don't worry about it. If you want to slow down, just say the word. I don't want you to be uncomfortable, Kate." He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.

"No, no. Just forget I said anything. This?" She gestured between them. "I can feel it too, I told you. It's just… I'm just surprised, that's all. Whatever this is, it's caught me off guard." She admitted shyly, leaning into his hand that still caressed her cheek. He smiled and kissed her cheek gently. "Like you said, it wasn't part of the original plan."

"So we'll take it slow. Baby steps. Unless you're not interested. Because if you're not, just tell me and…" She touched a finger to his lips, effectively silencing him.

"Have I given any indication that I'm not interested, especially when we were back there, Mr. Castle?" She raised an eyebrow playfully and pointed to the dance floor.

"No, I guess not." He grinned happily and she chuckled, leaning in to kiss him again. She couldn't get enough of his taste. What was up with that? "I'll just consider this my Christmas present, then."

When the club closed at 4am, Kate and Rick stumbled out of the establishment with the rest of the party goers. It was entirely too late and she had had way too much to drink, and yet, Kate didn't feel drunk or tired. She felt energized, especially with Rick's arms around her.

They had had too much fun tonight; to the point that she had nearly forgotten that it was Christmas and she all alone in the world. He had managed to take her mind off of her miserable life and she'd decided to just enjoy his company and the good music and drinks and let go. That was exactly what he had accomplished. She had let go and enjoyed herself immensely.

"So, where to now?" She turned her head to look at him and he playfully stole a kiss, making her laugh.

"I'm hungry. Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, now that you mention it, I could definitely eat." She told him and leaned back against him again. "There's this diner a couple of blocks away from here and I think they're open 24 hours. Maybe we could go there?"

"Sure, lead the way. I'm all yours tonight, detective." He leered at her teasingly and she surprised him by pulling him in for a quick, but deep kiss.

"Come on." She tugged on his hand and he followed her dazedly, making her proud of herself for having this effect on him.

They walked to Remy's and Kate smiled at the young man taking the orders. After their burgers and shakes had been ordered, she led Rick to a booth in the back of the place, sliding into the seat while he did the same across from her. For a moment it felt like déjà vu and that they were back to that bar where they had met a few hours before. It was insane that they had only known each other for no more than six hours and yet, it felt like they had known each other for years.

They talked for the better part of two hours, getting to know each other. He told her about his previous marriages and his recent divorce and how he hadn't really dated anyone since. She felt strangely lighter when he said that, maybe because they were in the same situation, despite the wildly different circumstances that led them here.

Last night hadn't exactly turned out like she expected, but she wasn't one to complain. Not when whatever higher power there was out there put this amazing stranger (now not so much anymore) in her life exactly when she needed someone the most.

Her parents weren't here anymore to celebrate Christmas with her, but for the first time in years, she hadn't spent it alone, crying in her apartment because the pain of her loss was too great. Not that it was gone, not at all. But for tonight, this guy, Rick Castle, managed to turn it around and make Christmas good for her again.

So when the sun started to come up and the streets were bathed in sunlight, Kate was tucked into his side, his hand running lazily up and down her arm. She turned her head to look at him, caressed the underside of his jaw to catch his attention. When he met her eyes, she leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to his lips, feeling an overwhelming gratitude for this man's presence in her life, even if it would only be for now, today.

"Merry Christmas." She whispered, a small smile tugging her lips up. He returned it and kissed her again, breathing her in before resuming the gentle dance his fingers had been doing up and down her arm.

"Merry Christmas, Kate."

A/N: Tell what you think?