Castle Christmas FanFic Competition: I´ll Be Home For Christmas


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 www.fanfiction.net for a possible easier read (blogspot doesn`t agree with word format most of the time).



Story: "I´ll Be Home For Christmas" 
Rating:  T
Words:  3,488




                                                Christmas Eve will find me
            Where the love-light gleams
        I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

***

Castle grasped the steering wheel hard with both hands. ‘You’ll be home for Christmas, Rick. No matter what.’ Paula’s words resounded in his head, doing nothing to help decrease his growing anger.
                                         
He had asked her to postpone the tour ‘till after the holidays so he could spend the time with his family, but she had refused, saying that he needed to make a bigger effort to promote his books now, since his ‘party boy/womanizer’ reputation had blown with the wind after he and Kate got married a couple of years back.

It had taken a whole week of meetings and phone calls to convince him, but at last, he had caved in and accepted to go on a short Christmas book-tour, under one condition: he’d fly back to NYC on December 23rd so he could spend Christmas Eve at home.

Everything had gone perfectly fine. Book signings had been a success, sales had increased, and the time to be home with his family was getting closer; until he’d gotten another call from Paula asking him to stay a day longer in Chicago, so he could make another book signing at a new Barnes & Noble.

I already have your ticket, Rick. You just have to stay a day longer. I’ll fly you home the day after tomorrow. You’ll be in New York by lunch time.

He had agreed reluctantly after talking to Kate. It had been hard. She was worried he wouldn’t make it. ‘It’s Andy’ first Christmas, Castle. We want you here.’ And he wanted to be there. So badly…

xxxxx

Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

Castle took his phone out of his pea coat pocket, unlocking it with a swift move as he smiled at a little girl who was enthralled looking at the Christmas decorations that covered the terminal.

The little finger pointing at the big tree presiding the room, and the amazed look in the kid’s eyes, made him think of a young Alexis when he took her Christmas-light sighting so many years back. She spent the evening pointing at the bright decorations and yelling ‘Daddy, look!’ as they walked the crowded streets of Manhattan. His little girl.

She was a grown up now. Almost finishing college and with a serious boyfriend she was bringing to their Christmas Eve dinner. Man, did time fly…

Looking back at his phone, he grinned at the two faces staring at him from it.

It was Kate standing in their leaving room, holding a little boy with her big, green eyes and rosy, chubby cheeks and a piece of paper that read ‘Come back soon, Daddy.’ His wife had set it as his wallpaper the day before he left. ‘That way, we’ll be with you whenever you need us’ she had said. And she still asked him what did he saw in her, silly woman.

Touching his favorites tag, he pressed Kate’s name and waited until his wife picked up.

“Hey handsome.”

Castle smiled. “Hey beautiful.” He shot back. “How are you doing there?”

Andy’s soft suckling noises seeped through the receiver, making the writer’s smile open wider.

“We’re sitting on the couch, having breakfast.” Kate replied. “Orange juice, eggs and bacon for me and milk for the little man. Where are you?”

“Just got at the airport. My flight leaves in an hour.”

He could hear Kate chewing through the phone. She was cute when she ate. It still made him laugh how her behavior towards food had changed after getting pregnant. There was nothing that could get in between her and her food, not even him; and it had gotten worse when she started breast-feeding.

“Kate? You still there?”

“Hm. Yeah, sorry. God, I’m hungry.” She said, her mouth still full of bacon. “Will you still love me when I’m fat and ugly and I can’t get inside my jeans?”

Rick covered the mic so she couldn’t hear his laughter. He said nothing.

“Castle?” She called. “Caaaastle!” After a few more seconds, “RICK!”

He laughed out loud into the receiver then.

“Ha ha, very funny, Castle.”

“Hey! You said you wouldn’t like me if I were bald!”

There was a silence and then, “ouch!”

“What is it?” He asked.

“You know, breast-feeding stops being so cute when the baby starts growing teeth.” She mumbled, trying to hold the phone between her ear and her shoulder while she removed Andy from her chest. “Not sure if this child is a human or a vampire.”

Castle chuckled. “Well, knowing his mom’s kink of biting my neck during sex, I wouldn’t have a hard time believing the latter.”

“Ugh, gross, Castle.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know.” He chimed.

He looked at his watch and stopped in front of an information board to check on his flight. There was a snowstorm alert and he was worried his flight would get delayed. Thankfully, everything was in order.

“Hey, I’m going to grab a cup of coffee before I have to board. I’ll call you as soon as I land in New York, ok?”

“Oh, ok. Be safe. We love you.”

He sighed, smiling like an idiot for no one to see. “I love you too. Give Andy a kiss for me, will you?”

“Done.” Kate said after a second. “What about me? I don’t get a kiss?”

He chuckled “Wait till I get home. I have ten days worth of kisses saved for you.”

She laughed shamelessly. “You’re such a sap…”

“You love it.” He said cockily.

“Go get your coffee, Castle.”

“Ok. Love you. See you in a few hours.”

xxxxx

He couldn’t believe his bad luck. They had been flying for less than an hour and a half, when the pilot let them know that they were forced to make an emergency landing due to the storm. This had to be some kind of joke.

xxxxx

Pittsburgh International Airport.

When all the passengers had abandoned the aircraft, the crew gathered them in a room close to the carousels to inform them of the situation.

One of the flight attendants took a microphone and started talking. “Ladies and gentlemen, we inform you that we won’t be able to resume our flight until we have permission from the ATC. The storm is being especially brisk in New York area and airspace has been closed. We’ll let you know when we have more news. Thanks for you attention and understanding. Now, if you’ll follow my partner, we’ll let you gather your belongings.”

Groans and complaining voices echoed in the room while they were led back to the carousels to get their baggage.

After Castle picked up his big black trolley, he walked to the rows of plastic chairs at the end of the transit area, taking his phone out of his pocket.

What was he going to tell Kate?

The tones pierced his ear as he waited for his wife to pick up the phone, not knowing how to tell her that he may not make it home.

“Wow! Did you fly or teleport, Castle? There’s no way you made it to New York so fast.” Kate joked.

He let out a sad laugh and rubbed his eyes. “Hey.”

Kate kept quiet for a few seconds and then sighed. “Ok, that didn’t sound well. What happened?”

“Emergency landing in Pittsburgh. Airspace is closed due to the storm.” He said, scrunching his nose as if trying to muffle the effect of his words.

He heard Kate’s long exhale and pictured her in his head, pinching the bridge of her nose and then running that same nervous hand through her hair, the way she always did when she felt powerless.

“Damn.” She whispered. “I knew something was going to happen. I knew it.”

“Kate. I’m sorry. I…”

“No. No, Castle. It’s not your fault. I’m… Ugh, I just wanted it to be perfect.” She muttered.

The writer gritted his teeth. This was so unfair. “I know, love. Me too.”

xxxxx


He needed to get to New York and fast. The time had flown while he was trying to find a way out with his travel agent and different contacts, and it was already past 3:00 pm.

Suddenly, as if it were some kind of heavenly sign, he spotted a row of car rental stalls in the farthest corner of the terminal. Grabbing his trolley and jacket and taking and encouraging breath, he walked towards his only possibility of escape.

Unfortunately, the roads were not doing much better than the skies. The authorities were calling into staying away from the road and not driving unless it was strictly necessary.

Most of the rental offices he had spotted were already closed, but Castle saw his chance when he caught a skinny young man right when he was about to pull the blinds of the Hertz stall down.

xxxxx

After talking the guy of the Hertz office into leasing him a car, a Chevy was the best he could offer him. ‘I can’t risk renting you a high-end car, sir. Just doing this is going against the rules. If my boss finds out, I’ll lose my job.’ As if he didn’t have enough to think about. He just needed to come home to his family.

Clutching the lapels of this pea coat together to protect himself from the chilling temperatures, he strolled the huge parking lot to find his car. It was small, but seemed to be new, and as long as it moved and had a heating system, he was ok with it.

After putting his suitcase in the trunk and making himself comfortable in the cramped cabin, he unlocked his phone, dialed his wife’s number and put it on speaker.

“Hey Castle. Any news?” Kate’s voice greeted him after a few seconds.

He turned the wheel to the left, leaving the parking lot and the airport for good and then replied, “yeah, kind of.”

“And? What is it? Will you make it?” His wife asked impatiently.

“Um… Probably.”

Kate took a moment to analyze his response. “Ok, Castle. Spill. What’s going on?”

He winced. “I rented a car.”

Silence.

“Kate?” He called. “Are you there?”

He heard a long sigh coming from the other side of the line. “You rented a car?” She inquired. “A car? Castle, are you freaking nuts?”

He winced again. Here it comes, he thought.

“There’s a snowstorm out there that’s gotten the airspace closed, and you think you can make it home from Pittsburgh by car? That’s an almost 7 hours drive under normal circumstances, Rick! It’s crazy!”

“I know, Kate, but there’s no other way. Last thing they told us is that we wouldn’t be able to fly until tomorrow. I don’t want to miss this. I want to be with my family on Christmas morning.” He explained. “Please, don’t be mad at me.”

Kate puffed. “I’m not mad at you, Castle. I’m worried.” She replied. “It’s bad enough having you away, but now I have to worry about you being on the road in the middle of one of the worst snowstorms ever.” She paused and hummed. “Oh, and talking about being with your family, your mother and Alexis are here.”

“Wow, they made it early.” He mumbled. “How’s Alexis boyfriend? Have you noticed anything weird about him? I don’t know Kate; he’s old for her, and Winston? What kind of name is that?”

He heard a loud cough and then, “you’re on speakerphone, Dad.”

Crap. “Thanks for the warning, Kate.” He muttered through gritted teeth.

“That was my payback for making me worry.” His wife chimed. “Now drive and get home safely, Castle. We’ll be waiting for you.”

xxxxx

He had been driving for 6 hours. The night had fallen over him a little after passing Harrisburg, and the storm had become stronger the closer he got to the East Coast. The snow curtains were thicker and it had gotten harder to see what was ahead of him on the road.

He was 5 miles away from Allentown when a sheriff patrol stopped him.

“Evening, sir. May I ask where you’re headed?” The young deputy asked.

“New York City. Is there any problem?”

The man’s face became somber. “I’m afraid so. The storm hasn’t given us rest and the plows are not keeping up.”

“What does that mean?” Castle asked, fearing the answer.

“There’s too much snow for you to go on, sir. We’re interrupting traffic until snowplows are able to clean the roads. I’m gonna have to ask you to park your car and wait.”

The deputy signaled to the side of the road where another couple of cars were parked, engines still working to keep the heating on.

“We’ll be giving you blankets and hot chocolate to keep you warm while you wait, sir. I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

Castle nodded and gave the man a weak smile. “Thank you, deputy.”

He parked the car beside a back Audi and turned the heat up. This was not his day.

He ran his hands through his hair and huffed, rubbing his face and leaning his head against the headrest in defeat. After a few minutes to put himself together, he fished his phone from his pocket and called Kate again.

He heard the click of the call being answered but no Kate. Instead, he could hear their son crying loudly, his screams and sobs piercing his ear even from the distance.

“Kate?” He called. “Are you there?”

He heard some rustling and then, “sorry, Castle, Andy is all fussy and it’s really hard trying to hold him and the phone at the same time. Can I get back to you?”

“Sure.” He said, and hung up. He could wait to break her heart.

Ten minutes passed before his phone chimed, showing Kate’s smiling face on its screen.

“Hey.”

“Hey. I’m sorry about before. He’s not having his best day… I think he can feel that I’m worried about something.” Kate explained. “How’s the drive going? Where are you?”

Castle coughed. “Um, yeah, that… Uh, I’m close to Allentown.”

Kate’s smile leaked through the line. “Oh, that’s great! You could be here in a couple of hours.”

“Yeah… Um, Kate?” He paused. “I’m not gonna make it.”

“What?”

“A sheriff’s deputy stopped me. The roads are closed until the snowplows arrive. There’s no way to get to New York until then.”

“Oh.”

Silence.

“I’m so sorry, Kate. I am so very sorry.” Castle groaned. “I shouldn’t have accepted to stay a day longer. Damn, I shouldn’t have accepted to go on tour the week before Christmas. This is all my fault.”

“Castle, don’t. This is not your fault. These things happen and there’s nothing we can do about them. We will… Andy is five months old. He won’t even notice.”

“But you will. And Alexis and Mother will. And your father.” He sighed. “I just wanted so badly to be there.”

“I know, baby. I know.”

They remained silent for a couple of minutes, both of them trying to school their feelings to make it easier for each other.

“Did you just call me baby?” Castle asked amused.

Kate took a moment to replay their talk in her head. “Um… No.”

“Yes you did!”

“Ok. I spend 24 hours a day stuck to a baby, Castle. It just slipped. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, ok?”

Castle laughed and sighed loudly. “I’ll call you later to tell you how this goes.”

“Okay. Take care. And bundle up. I don’t want a popsicle for a husband.” She joked, hanging up the phone and cutting the line in the middle of a laugh.

It was going to be a long night. Why didn’t time fly when you wanted it to?

xxxxx

New York City. Castle loft.

Kate held the pillow closer to her chest as the clock struck 12. It was Christmas and her husband wasn’t there. A chill ran through her when the thought of spending another Christmas away from him crossed her mind. He had been the reason she had let the holidays back into her life. Not having him around was like going back to her previous life. A life she didn’t miss at all.

The previous days had been hard enough. She had to help decorate the loft, host their Christmas party alone – Martha offered to help, but she had been busy the whole party trying to catch a silver fox – and to make it all even better, she had to do all that with a 5 month old baby stuck to her chest.

Kate turned to her left and smiled at the little body resting on the green basinet. It had taken a while to make him sleep, but at last he had fallen exhausted.

Such a sweet little boy.

They had been lucky. The kid had his mom’s temper and his dad’s unending energy, but he ate like a champ, slept through the night since he was two months old and he was smart. So very smart.

A hand stroked Kate’s shoulder and she looked up, only to find Alexis’ blue eyes staring at her.

“Are you ok?” The young woman asked.

Kate smiled and nodded. “Yeah. Just tired. But I want to wait until your dad calls again.”

The girl smiled and sat between Kate and Jim, who had fallen asleep, taking her hand in hers. “Ok.”

Martha, who was standing by the window with a glass of wine in her hand, turned around and walked to sit on the couch with them.

“The snow stopped.” The redhead informed them.

“Yeah, and I heard on the news that plows were already working.” Alexis added. “It won’t be long till he can drive home.”

At those words Kate stood up from the couch and started pacing the living room with her joined hands at her chin.

“Kate, darling, what is it?” Her mother in law inquired.

“I… I have an idea. It’s absolutely crazy, but…”

Martha smirked. “I think I know where you’re going, kiddo, and I like it.”

“Me too.” Alexis added, getting up too and giving Kate an ear-to-ear smile. “What do we do?”

Right on that moment, a confused Jim woke up. “Do? About what?”

xxxxx

Fifteen minutes later they were walking out the door with all their Christmas presents, a bag of containers with a full meal for one and a sleeping baby.

“Ok, he said he was entering Allentown when the patrol stopped him. We can’t be too far.” Kate said, as they passed the sign that welcomed them to the city.

They drove for another 5 miles until the spotted a line of cars parked in the other side of the road. He had to be there.

“I think he said he was driving a Chevy, but I can’t remember what kind.”

“There’s only one Chevy there, see? The third one. It has to be him.” Alexis chimed excited. “We gotta turn around.”

xxxxx

Castle was falling asleep. The deputy had come back and given him a couple of blankets and a thermos with hot chocolate, but he hadn’t heard from him again. He had been stopped there for almost 5 hours, and even though the blankets helped to keep his body warm, he could barely feel his toes.

Just when his eyes started to close his phone started ringing, startling him.

“Kate?” He rasped. “What are you doing up yet? It’s past 2 am.”

“You said you were going to call.”

He winced. He had said that. “Sorry. I forgot. I’m still stuck here.”

“What?”

“I said that I’m still stuck here.” He practically yelled into the receiver. “Kate? Can you hear me?”

“Castle, I can’t hear you! Can you get out of the car? Maybe you’ll get better reception.” She suggested. “Ugh. Castle?”

He didn’t even think. His hand reached to the handle and he opened the door, getting out into the freezing bite of the night. The moment he turned around to walk away from the car he froze.

There, in front of him, were the five people who were the life of him. Putting his phone back in his pocket, he ran to them, his arms closing around his wife’s waist, his breath hot over the skin of her ear.

“Told you I’d be home for Christmas.” He whispered.

“We’re miles away from home, Castle.”

He smiled. “You’re all here. I’m home.”

Kate leaned in, the little body of their son, keeping them a little too far, but she captured his lips with hers, both their smiles making the kiss almost impossible.

“Merry Christmas, Castle.” She mumbled against the corner of his mouth.

He smiled, pressing his lips to the top of their baby’s head and signing their family to come closer so they could share a group hug.

“Merry Christmas to you all.”

THE END
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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