Castle Christmas FanFic Competition: Here With You

Another story for our fanfic competition. Here you can find all the stories for the 12th Precinct Castle Halloween FanFic Competition. And here you can find the rules.
You can also find the stories at for a possible easier read (blogspot doesn`t agree with word format most of the time).

Story: "Here With You" 
Rating:  K+
Words: 1,976

Wrinkles in the pillow case. Warmth. The soft indent of her body still imprinted in the sheets.

Castle smiles softly despite her absence, breathes deeply, catching a whiff of her scent still lingering in the air of the bedroom. The gray light of dawn makes its way through the edges of the blinds, just enough light for Castle to make out the faint outlines of objects in the room, and he scans for her form amongst the shadows but finds nothing.

The blankets are pushed back on her side but everything else appears untouched, just the way they left it last night before tumbling into bed for two rounds of what most certainly put them on Santa’s naughty list. But Castle cannot be bothered to care, because he is spending Christmas with Kate and that is everything he has ever wanted and more.

He smiles at the thought, shoves the covers down and slips out of bed. The floor is cold against his bare feet and he slides them into a pair of slippers, dons a bathrobe before going off in search of his girlfriend. He peers into the office first, finds nothing, sleepily crosses through to the living room. He automatically reaches for the light switch as he nears the threshold but his hand freezes in midair as he steps into the room, rendered breathless at the sight before him.

The white lights on the Christmas tree are burning brightly, twinkling against the darkness and eliminating the need for any other source of illumination. The room is cast in an incandescent glow and Castle can almost feel the magic in the air, so many emotions and sensations weaving together to create the scene before him, the feeling that is overtaking him.

He feels his heart bubble over with joy and pure, unbridled love as his eyes fall on his girlfriend. Kate stands near the window, blinds pulled back as she gazes out at the city, transformed by the freshly falling snow. The landscape is coated in a soft white blanket and the normal sounds of the nightlife are muffled by the combination of the snow and the city lights shining through the flakes that continue to dance their way to the ground. But Castle notices none of that.

Because Kate is silhouetted against the glass, skin glowing amber in the mellow lighting, edges of her hair a golden halo, and it is the most beautiful sight Castle has ever laid eyes on. She is still, seemingly unaware of his presence, one arm folded across her chest, the other bent and clutching a mug as she stares out into the darkness. She is wearing one of his button-down shirts, probably the one she took off of him last night, and the hemline falls high on her thighs, exposing the lines of her long slender legs.

Castle falters, torn between retrieving his phone to take a picture, going over to her, or crawling back into bed and savoring this memory, forever untarnished and undisturbed.

But before he can decide, Kate drops her arm, silently reaches it back behind her. At the same time, her reflection in the window pane smiles and he realizes that she has seen him standing there all along.

Quietly, he tiptoes across the living room, unwilling to disturb the peaceful stillness that has settled over them. Even once he reaches her, once he entwines their fingers and allows her to pull him right up against her, his chest to her back, he still says nothing. Merely wraps his arms around her waist from behind, rests his chin on her shoulder, and gazes out into the night with her.

Neither speaks for what might be five minutes or perhaps thirty as they stand there together, wrapped up in each other and the magic of their first Christmas together. From time to time, Kate raises the mug to her lips, takes a sip of hot cocoa, and Castle’s fingers are not idle, drawing random patterns on her stomach. She occasionally feels the faint brush of his eyelashes against her temple but aside from that, neither move, unwilling to break the spell.

At long last, Kate sighs softly, speaks in a voice so quiet that Castle is not sure she intends her words to be heard.

“I miss her.”

His arms tighten their hold almost imperceptibly and he replies automatically, voice gentle and understanding. “I know you do.”

“I came home for my first winter break,” she begins, and Castle feels his heart flutter, as he always does when she reveals a new piece of herself. “I flew in from California about a week before Christmas. I could have come home sooner but I wanted to stay and enjoy the freedom and the sunshine, you know?”

He nods against her, chin scraping the curve of her shoulder, silent persuasion to continue.

“I spent…” she pauses. “I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family, but most of the rest of it, my parents were at work and I was out with friends. I was a bit of a rebel back then,” Kate adds with a laugh and Castle chuckles softly in her ear. “Tattoo, motorcycle, alcohol. Exploring my newfound freedom like every college freshman. I remember not wanting to come home because I didn’t want to give that up.”

Castle nods in agreement, remembering not only his own experiences but also the current situation with Alexis and her desire to cling to her independence while he fights to maintain their family traditions.

“In retrospect, my parents were really good about not treating me like I was still in high school. But at the time…”

“Yeah,” he murmurs.

She shakes her head. “I was different, you know? Everyone changes when they first go off on their own. But I got home and everything was exactly the same. House decorated the same, my stocking hanging from the same place on the mantle, the same assortment of Christmas goodies. My mom did manage to persuade me to go ice skating with her, though. Just like always,” Kate mentions, and Castle smiles against her cheek, recalling the night in her apartment two years back in which they found those final pictures of mother and daughter, laughed over Kate’s skating abilities.

“But other than that…” She shakes her head sadly. “I spent the whole three weeks feeling stifled by the way everything was the same, and now…” she trails off, takes a deep breath and releases it slowly, slightly shaky. “Now I’d give anything to have Christmas the way it used to be.”

He has no idea what to say to this, simply holds her tighter in hopes that his presence will help ease the burden.

“I don’t really celebrate that much anymore,” she admits quietly, raising her mug to her lips once again, ingesting the remaining liquid in one swallow. “My dad and I do something small, lunch and exchanging gifts, but it’s not the same. It never will be.”

“You’re right,” Castle begins, is silenced when Kate turns in his arms, presses her index finger over his lips. He nods, waits for her to continue.

“I’m glad you invited me, Castle. It’s been…it’s been a long time since I’ve truly celebrated a holiday. And…maybe…maybe it’s time to start making some new memories.”

Her words wake something deep inside of him, possessiveness, pride, love, and he coaxes the mug from her hand, sets it on the nearest flat surface before wrapping her in his embrace. His arms are secure around her, nose buried in her hair, and even in such a simple gesture, Kate feels so incredibly loved, so very thankful for Castle and his willingness to open his heart and his home to her.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” he breathes into her neck, presses his lips to the side of her skull.

“Me too,” she replies on a trembling breath, clings to him more tightly.

“And, Kate?” Castle speaks after a moment, leans back enough to meet her eyes.

She lifts her head, seeks him out. “Hmmm?”

“Maybe your mom isn’t here in person, but she’s here with you every day.” He unwraps one of his arms from her waist, brings it between them and presses his palm flat against her chest, directly over her heart. “Right here.”

A tear slips from the corner of one eye, blazes a trail down her cheek, and Kate blinks but makes no move to wipe it away. She leans in, rests her forehead against Castle’s as she fights the wave of moisture pooling in her eyes. He simply holds her, hands running soothingly up and down her back as she fights through the pain of missing her mom combined with the cherished memories of their time together.

“Come back to bed?” he asks after a while.

She lifts her head, nods and smiles lovingly. “Lead the way.”

He twines their hands together, turns and tugs gently, and she pads across the room after him. She falters as they pass the tree, eyes trained on the beautiful silver snowflake ornament that hangs at eye level, reflecting the white lights in an almost kaleidoscopic pattern. Castle feels her hesitance, turns and follows her line of vision just as she reaches out to trace the edges of the piece, the metal cool against her fingertip.

Kate told him the story yesterday morning when she hung it on the branch, reluctant but equally tired of Castle’s insistent demands that she add at least a few of her own ornaments to the tree. She was no good at this. Any of it. She was hesitant to step into their family’s Christmas, into their happiness and their traditions, not solely because of her mother, but also because she was not sure what it all meant. She was sure about Castle, about them. What she was unsure about was whether she was ready to be pulled into their celebrations as though she was a part of their family.

But when Castle launched into a giant speech about the meanings of Christmas and this tradition and that historical holiday fact, she relented, promised to bring over a decoration or two. And since she never bothered to set up her own tree, she supposed that her favorite ornament could adorn the Castle Christmas tree instead.

“It’s from my mom,” she explained, lifting it from the tissue paper and delicately placing it in the palm of her hand. “It was the last thing she ever gave me.”

Castle stepped closer, rested a hand on her waist from behind.

“She said it represented me; that I was free and unique, just like a snowflake.” She traced the glittery outline reverently, caught up in the memory. “That I maybe didn’t know where I was going at the time but even when it felt like free-fall, there was always an eventual destination.”

Kate smiled, lifted it tenderly and secured it on an empty branch.

“It’s perfect,” Castle whispered.

She dropped her hand to cover his on her hip, squeezed gently. “Thanks.”

“Free and unique,” he murmurs with a thoughtful smile, remembering her words from yesterday. “I like that analogy.”

Kate smiles, drops her hand and gives him a gentle nudge. “Come on.”

They walk the rest of the way in silence, the wordlessness persisting until after Castle discards his robe and climbs back into bed, until after Kate snuggles up to him and allows herself to be wrapped up in his embrace.

When he finally speaks, his throat is tight with emotion, with gratitude. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

He presses a kiss to her lips, smiles as he pulls away. “For being here. For sharing this Christmas with me.”

Kate smiles back, an emotion that he does not dare give name to shining brightly in her eyes. “Merry Christmas, Castle.”
Agent Angie Founder, Administrator, Editor and Writer

The moment that I met you, my life became extraordinary. You taught me to be my best self, to look forward to tomorrow's adventures. And when I was vulnerable, you were strong. I love you, Richard Castle. And I want to live my life in the warmth of your smile and the strength of your embrace. I promise you I will love you. I will be your friend and your partner in crime and in life, always. - Kate Beckett The moment we met, my life became extraordinary. You taught me more about myself than I knew there was to learn. You are the joy in my heart. You're the last person I want to see every night when I close my eyes. I love you, Katherine Beckett. And the mystery of you is the one I want to spend the rest of my life exploring. I promise to love you, to be your friend, and your partner in crime and life, 'till death do us part, and for the time of our lives. - Richard Castle

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