AN: Yes, it is another Christmas fic. This idea popped into my head last year, but I never posted it. Anyway, here it is now, and constructive criticism is welcome.
Disclaimer: I didn't get the rights to Castle for my birthday today. So, nope.
Kate woke up to the feeling of something, or rather someone, jumping on her bed.
"Mommy, Daddy, wake up, it's Christmas!" exclaimed their daughter. Kate could not help but chuckle, and she heard Rick do the same.
"Yes it is, Princess," Rick said, sitting up and tickling her. The action sent the four-year into peals of laughter.
"Rick, stop, you'll make her sick," Kate scolded. Both Castles pouted, but Rick complied. Kate just rolled her eyes.
"Let's open presents!" the little girl exclaimed.
"Now Tara, you know the rules. You're not allowed to open presents until after breakfast," her mother reminded her gently. Tara pouted, but nodded in compliance. She knew better than to argue with her mommy. "I'll go make breakfast," Kate announced, getting out of bed and putting on her favorite red robe, something Rick had bought her the previous Christmas. She walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. She smiled as she observed the various Christmas decorations that had taken up residence in the loft. The banister on the staircase was laced with garland, which was divided into small portions by small, red velvet bows. A small welcome mat that said 'Merry Christmas' and had a snowman on it, was placed near the door. On the door was a traditional wreath decorated with small, plastic red and gold bells. Christmas books scattered on the coffee table. In the kitchen, the regular salt and pepper shakers were replaced with Christmas tree shaped ones. Even the hand towels were Christmas themed. Also, some of the windows were covered with stick-on snowflakes.
Of course, there was the tree. Rick had insisted on getting a real tree that year, instead of using the artificial tree they owned. His explanation was that it would be fun for Tara to have a real tree, and of course, the little girl agreed with him. Kate had hesitated, knowing the mess a real tree could make. However, the two pairs of puppy-dog eyes had won. Kate did not see the harm in it, after all, she had owned a real tree when she was a kid, too. The tree was decorated with various ornaments, from cartoon characters, to more expensive ones. Stringed popcorn circled the tree, a project the whole family had done. A gold star topped the tree, still lit. The tree gave the room a piney aroma, which Kate actually liked. She knew that the loft probably looked like something out of a Better Homes Christmas issue.
Turning on the stove, Kate started making breakfast, which consisted of eggs, bacon, toast, and a small coffee cake for her and Rick. The breakfast was enough, since her father, Martha, and Alexis would be coming over later that day for the traditional Christmas dinner. She called the two other Castles in once she finished cooking. Tara scampered in from the study, with Rick on her heels.
"Merry Christmas," he murmured, giving his wife a chaste kiss on the lips.
"Merry Christmas to you too, Mr. Castle. " Kate grinned and returned the kiss.
"Ew, Mommy, that's gross! Boys have cooties!" Tara exclaimed. Kate laughed at her daughter's remark.
"Well, Daddy doesn't have cooties."
"You sure about that?" Rick teased, a mischievous look in his eye. Kate rolled her eyes and playfully smacked his chest.
"Trust me, if you had cooties, last night would not have happened," she replied, smirking.
Rick pouted. "Tease."
Kate waved her hand dismissively, saying, "Go sit down."
As they ate breakfast, the family talked amongst themselves, planning out the rest of the day. Tara was excited to see the rest of the family again, especially Alexis. She missed her half-sister, who she had not seen for a few weeks, due to Alexis being on rotation.
After gobbling up her breakfast, the little girl exclaimed, "Presents!"
"Okay, okay. You can open your presents," Kate said, smiling at her daughter's enthusiasm.
"Yay!" Tara scampered toward the tree, kneeling in front of the large pile of presents. Kate knelt beside her, as Rick sat on the couch, camera in hand.
"So, what did Santa leave for you?" Kate asked as Tara opened her first present. Tara looked at her mother in confusion, before giggling.
"You're funny, Mommy."
Although confused, Kate just smiled, quirking an eyebrow. "Pray do tell little one, why am I funny?"
"Santa isn't real," Tara stated simply.
Kate frowned at the statement, and turned to look at Rick. He was smiling, but she could see the disappointment in his eyes. She could not help but feel disappointed as well. They knew the day would come when their little girl would stop believing in Santa, but so soon? Kate recalled telling Rick long ago about how she had stopped believing in the jolly, mythical man when she was three. Kate often felt pride when she saw how many traits her and her daughter shared. However, it was moments like this one where she became concerned that Tara was forcing herself to grow up too fast, just like Kate had done. Kate then briefly wondered if her parents had felt the same disappointment when she had made a similar declaration.
"What makes you think Santa isn't real, Princess?" Rick asked.
"We don't have a chimney, so Santa can't get in," Tara stated. Kate thought about Tara's explanation for a moment. In all honesty, Kate had the selfish desire to have Tara maintain a few more years of childhood innocence.
Maybe I can salvage this, Kate thought.
"You're right, we don't have a chimney," Kate stated, playing with the girl's brunette curls. Kate saw Rick frown, obviously thinking that she was about to admit the truth. She could not help but smile at his look of surprise at her next statement. "However, that does not mean Santa didn't visit."
"If he didn't use a chimney, how did he get in?" Tara questioned.
"Yeah, how did he get in?" Rick chimed in, eager for his wife's answer.
"Well, Santa has magical powers that allow him to enter homes of all the boys and girls who don't have chimneys."
Tara cocked her head, confused. "What about the doors?" she asked, her blue eyes shone with curiosity.
"Santa just poofs in, delivers the presents, and poofs out. He doesn't need doors," Kate explained.
"You mean like Cosmo and Wanda?" Tara asked, referring to the two cartoon fairies.
"Exactly like Cosmo and Wanda!" Kate exclaimed, ruffling the little girl's hair. Kate saw the look of amusement on her husband's face due to her explanation.
"Your mother's right, Sweetie. How do you think he's so quiet?" Rick asked his daughter.
Tara shrugged. "I don't know, I didn't think he could be quiet. He would have awfully loud feet," she said, giggling.
Kate chuckled. "He knows how to be really quiet. He's had a lot of practice," she whispered.
"I've never seen him, though," Tara stated.
"You don't always need to see something to believe it," Rick stated, smiling. Tara seemed to mull over his statement, before saying:
"So, just because I don't see Santa, doesn't mean he doesn't exist?"
"Exactly, that's why he's so magical," Kate said, gently tapping Tara's nose. Tara seemed to think for a minute, before beaming.
"Okay, I believe you," Tara said.
"You do?" Rick asked.
Tara nodded fervently. "I know you and Mommy would never make something up, that would be wrong." Both Kate and Rick gave each other a nervous glance, before Kate said:
"Of course, Sweetheart. Now, let's see what else Santa brought you." Tara nodded, before reaching for another package.
As their daughter opened her gifts, both husband and wife smiled to each other. They knew she would figure it out one day, but they were happy that she would be their little girl for a bit longer.
AN: Sorry if Kate seems OOC in this. Anyway, constructive criticism is welcome.