Spirit of the Season
Disclaimer: Don't claim to own Castle. The writing geniuses over there are much more evil.
AN: What happens when two writers decide to tell the same story from different points of view? The working title for this was "The Project of Awesome!" We hope you agree. For Castle's perspective follow: CuffedBunnies
For CB, half this monster is yours. Thanks for putting up with me. The medal is already planned...
Day 1 - Evergreen
November 28, 2012
It had not been a particularly long day, but that didn't mean that's wasn't Kate glad it was over. They had broken the case early in the day, and she did manage to get a relatively easy confession from her suspect. The fact that it hadn't been a particularly "Beckett Flavored" case to begin with, had kept the inevitable paperwork to a minimum.
Castle had even stayed for a while, doing a measure of his own form of "paperwork" on his newest gadget, An iPad mini that had arrived less than a week before. At some point in the early afternoon, she had looked up from her forms and rolled her eyes as he typed furiously away at the
small keyboard, imagining him working his way through whatever was the hottest game craze of the moment. "Any good over there?" She had asked, surprised when he neither looked up nor particularly answered the question with much more than a noncommittal hum.
She raised an eyebrow. Actually, as she thought about it she realized that there was something different about the motion of his fingers across the smooth surface. It wasn't the frantic tapping of his thumbs or tilting of the device that usually accompanied his usual, rather gleeful gameplay.
Instead, he seemed to be concentrating unusually hard, on the screen in front of him, the fingers of one hand dancing across the smooth surface in a pattern that was orderly, if not predictable. Suddenly she realized, he was typing. No, he was writing.
She tried to tamp down the sudden thrill that the idea of him sitting next to her, nonchalantly working on his next novel gave her, and turned back to her paperwork. When they both came up for air about an hour later, he didn't say anything about whatever it was he had been working on, he merely went on to lunch with her, then said that he had some things to finish up at home and he would see her later that evening.
Now as she headed downstairs and out through the main doors of the precinct, she realized they had not made any specific plans as to whether to meet at his place or hers. She was just digging out her phone to give him a call as she reached the street, when she heard a voice behind her call out: "Miss Beckett?"
She turned at the sound, somewhat surprised even as she recognized the voice. It was one of the regular drivers from the car service that Castle often used. "Max?" She stepped over to the tall man, seeing his car by the curb. "I wasn't expecting you," she admitted with a slight smile.
"Mr. Castle mentioned that when he made the appointment, ma'am. He said I should give you this."
The driver handed Kate a small envelope, and she turned it over in her hand slowly. "I assume he gave you some kind of destination when he made this appointment?" she asked thoughtfully.
"Yes ma'am," Max says, but she noticed that he didn't
seem inclined to tell her where that destination was. She raised an eyebrow.
"Paperwork says the Hilton New York," the driver offered as he leaned over to open the door. An obvious invitation, with no further information supplied.
Now both of Kates eyebrows shut up. A hotel, certainly, but nothing that exactly screamed seduction. And if that was what Castle had in mind, he certainly wouldn't have pulled a surprise semi-abduction by car service. No fun teasing her about it in advance that way.
She chewed on her lower lip for a moment, and then shrugged her shoulders and got in. She knew Max well enough not to feel threatened by the unexpected turn in her day. She and Castle had gotten a bit bolder in their willingness to go out in public as summer gave way to fall, though still to quiet, out of the way places where Castle's modest level of notoriety was less likely to matter.
And when they were traveling at night, he had insisted on using the car service over cabs or public transportation, on the grounds that the service and its staff has always been far more discrete than your average cabbie, whose wife might be a fan. It wasn't usually her style, but she hadn't argued. He spent most of his days bending his life around her job. She could return the favor.
As the car moved into the city traffic, she suddenly remembered that she had the possibility of at least some level of explanation right in her own hands. She looked down at the small envelope she had nearly forgotten, and opened it curiously. It was no larger than the size of a card that would accompany flowers. As she pulled out the scrap of paper from within, she couldn't help but laugh a little.
So Castle. His own little cloak and dagger game. She kind of loves it. And him. Oh, wow. Yeah. She pushed that thought down where it belonged - wherever that was, and turned the paper over. In Castle's neat, familiar hand was one word: Evergreen.
"What are you up to?" She murmured aloud in the relative quiet of the vehicle. Max looked back at her and smiled. He said nothing though, and she suspected it was because he really didn't know anything. Though, if he did, she knows the man would be loathe to step on Castle's surprise. They all would.
Didn't stop her from texting her partner the question, though. Then she turned her attention to the traffic out her window. It was getting heavier as they traveled, and she frowned, trying to recall what could be causing the gridlock. Whatever it was, it seemed Max was prepared for it. He worked his way through like the professional he was, glancing back at her to tell her they would be there shortly.
She smiled her thanks just as her phone sounded with an incoming text message from Castle. She glanced down. "You have your clue Detective. In the meantime I'll be right here waiting for the lightbulb moment."
What in the -
She looked up as they approach the hotel, saw the mass of people ahead a few blocks to the west, toward Rockafeller Center - wait.
She sits up with a joke, as the car pulls to a stop. "He's crazy!" She exclaimed to Max, but the driver was already making his way out of the vehicle and coming around to the back of the car to let her out.
Then Castle appeared, a full grin plastered all over his face. "You made it," he said, as if he thought for a moment that she might not have.
"Pretty much all thanks to Max in this craziness," she aknowledges. "Castle, seriously? Do you have any idea how crazy it is down there? I mean, I admire the thought but it's an absolute zoo and people have been lining up there all day, some overnight if you want to talk about the particularly overzealous tourists."
Castle's grin just got wider, so she stopped talking. Clearly, he was up to something. She should be used to that by now, she supposed. He was always up to something.
"You figured it out," he said, and for a minute she thought he might actually bounce right out of his shoes.
"Lightbulb moment?" She asked, trying to give the question something of a derisive edge and mostly failing. Because really, he's cute like this.
His answering smile was something more like a smirk.
"I think we'll manage to find our way," he said as he reached in and pulled something out of his coat pocket. When he hands them over, she realizes that they are some sort of VIP passes. For the tree lighting in Rockefeller Center. She didn't even know they made these things.
"Castle, don't you think maybe that's a little much? I mean -" It must've cost fortune is what she meant, but she didn't know how to say it without sounding, well too late for that really.
"It was ridiculous actually," he admitted. She was a little relieved at the way he didn't try to just pass it off. "Even I'm not well enough connected to get a hold of these normally. They're mostly for TV network executives that work at NBC, that sort of thing."
Her eyes must've gone wider because his gaze shifted away from her. "It's not what you think, Kate I promise. It was a charity event, last April. There was an auction for one of the public schools for two passes. It was a decent cause and it looked like fun, so I bid high on it."
The thought that it was for a good cause settled her a little bit. Okay, there would likely be TV and press and things, but she could deal with that. He was trying to do something nice for her, and the truth was she hadn't done the "Christmas in the city," or even really the Christmas thing at all since she was a teenager. Looking up at him now, she could see that he knew that.
She nodded, and they started the short walk down the few blocks toward Rockefeller Center. "I figured the hotel would be a good place for Max to drop you off, because trying to park for these next few blocks is going to be more than a little insane all night long. Even just for a drop off," he said.
She nodded, and twined her fingers with his. It really was thoughtful of him to go to all trouble. She tried to push her reservations out of her mind and go with it. Something still didn't sit right with her, but she tried to force it down, realizing that he had to have this for a long time. Oh.
She stopped in her tracks on the sidewalk, halting his momentum with their joined hands. He turned back to her, and walked a step or two forward so that they stayed together amid the crowd. "What is it Kate?" he asked, concern in his eyes.
"April. Castle, you bought these passes in April?" That was what it was, what had been bothering her on their walk. She and Castle had barely been on speaking terms last spring, had been right on the edge of over.
She saw the register with him, which is getting out. So the clouds drift over his eyes and then clear. "Kate," he started, then looked away and swallowed. Because they haven't talked about all of it, not yet, and part of her wondered if they ever would. But this part she needs to know.
He sighs. "Okay, when I bought them Alexis hadn't decided where she was going to go to college yet. You and I were, well, we were a mess. I was looking for something to cheer myself up, and I bought them thinking that she and I could go while she was home for winter break."
The thought settled over her like ice. His daughter home for her first winter break from college. She pulled back from him without thinking, took a step backward. But his arm came down around her back to settle at her waist, creating an effective barrier between her and throng of people moving behind her so that she wouldn't step back into the crush of people.
"Castle," she said, her ears ringing with the weight of it. Because she and Alexis had been getting on well enough lately, and she wanted to keep it that way. Because he should spend time with his daughter. Because, it was her first winter break. Her throat closed up. "Castle, you should call Alexis," she said finally, adamantly. "She should be here. It's very sweet, but you should be with your daughter."
He was shaking his head, and she kind wanted to hit him. "Kate, I've been seeing Alexis all semester. She's only miles from home. And, she's got some major project for one of the labs that she's taking next semester, that they assigned over break. She wants to get a head start on it, so she's mostly busy. She told me last week when I asked her if she thought I should bring you."
He asked Alexis? He planned this entire thing with his daughter? That's… "Castle," she said quietly.
"I know," he said. "You don't really do this, but you should. We should, and I think this is the best way to kick things off."
Somehow, he got her moving within the thick of people again. It really was madness, even as he tried to work his way around the outer edge of it. He still had his arm around her, moving it up to her shoulders. It feels solid and strong, and even though it was not something she would usually do, not in public, anyway, she leaned into it. Let him guide her through.
She considered for a moment the idea of pulling out her badge to help them work their way through the people. But then she heard his voice in her ear. "Ah, here we go." And the next thing she knew, he was leading them up to a man in front of the security fence around the center staging area. He let go of her then, pulled the passes out from his coat pocket where he had returned them on their walk.
Within a matter of moments, they were being directed down through a gate into the first clear passage they had seen since their walk over from the hotel. Castle took her hand as they settled in to seats in the front of the VIP section. "Good way to start huh?" He gave her that little lopsided grin that she loved, that she couldn't even make a secret of loving anymore.
But, that was the second time he'd said something about a start, and she couldn't quite figure out what he meant by it. So she looked over at him and raised her eyebrow in question. "Start what?" she asked.
"First Christmas, Beckett," he said, a if it should have been so obvious, and maybe it should have been. It was true, after all. And for a moment Kate was speechless, not because she hadn't realized it, but because she expected the realization to come with panic. But it didn't. She smiled at him, and curled her fingers around his. He was right, this is going to be fun.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
She looked over at him, Smiling so you wouldn't be so nervous. "Yeah, I'm okay. I'm good, actually. Really good. This was an amazing idea, Castle. Thank you."
He visibly relaxed and smiled. Then he leaned in to kiss her, and the "Always," she had known was coming was a breath against her lips.
For the next few hours, they watched the seemingly endless string of musical performers, the ice skaters - dazzling on the ice in a way that most who visit the rink could never hope to be - and of course, the Rockettes, whom Kate suddenly recalled she hadn't seen live since her parents took her to the Christmas show when she was 15. Mostly though, she watched Castle. He was every bit the kid in the candy store that she had expected. If she admitted to him that she loved to seeing this way, she knew she would never hear the end of it. But that didn't stop her from enjoying it in silence.
Still, when they stood at their seats amid the cheering crowd counting down to the moment when the tree was lit, she was amazed to find that she was the one buzzing with playful excitment. When Castle pulled her over to him in the last few seconds to wrap his arms around her from behind, she went willingly.
And when the lights came on, lighting the tree for the very first time, she was surprised to find that it was she who gasped with childish delight. "That was amazing," she breathed out, because she had no voice for more.
"Oh Kate," he said softly, his warm breath curling at her ear in the cold night. "Just wait and see. There is so much more."