AN: This sort of came about because I was disappointed that we weren't getting a "Very Castle Christmas" type of episode this year but as I thought about the state of mind of our characters, I thought it would be a hard one for the writes to do. So, this is what I came up with:
For anyone who knew Richard Castle, it wasn't a shock that he LOVED the holiday season. The man was practically a mix between Peter Pan and Santa with his boyish charm and enormous toy collection, so a whole month devoted to encouraging people to embrace their inner child and promote joy and goodwill among men was right up his alley. Not to mention he had plenty of money and could afford to lavish presents on his mother and daughter, and anyone else whom he saw fit, with reckless abandon. He waited the whole year for this season and from the moment that he awoke from his turkey induced Thanksgiving nap, Rick was in full fledge Christmas mode!
He delighted in dragging a borderline obnoxiously tall tree into the loft and fishing through the part sentimental, part ridiculous, ornament collection to fill practically every twig with Christmas cheer. Even his wardrobe reflected his excitement as he exchanged his usual navy and black scarves for pops of red and green, never tacky, of course, but nevertheless subtly hinting that Christmastime was here! He took a sick pleasure in wading through the crowds at his favorite stores to select a perfect present and he hardly ever window shopped without actually shopping as well.
Alexis and Martha knew better than to mess with the tower of Amazon boxes that would be waiting in the building lobby each day, and would share smirks as he juggled unlocking the door and navigating the stack into the loft. He would shout a quick greeting before scurrying into his office or bedroom to unpack his latest gifts and hide them away.
And then there was the music! He was such a sucker for a Christmas tune…he had a playlist with every artist who had ever recorded a Christmas cd (which was almost all of them) and he would have them playing at various volumes on a non-stop loop…LOUD when wrapping presents, and more subdued in the background whilst sipping eggnog in front of the fire. Castle was charming, and his natural Christmas cheer was infectious…most years.
This year, for whatever reason, Castle was having a harder time feeling that sense of magic. It could be because Castle knew that this was the last Christmas Alexis would be living full time in the loft, "under his roof" as the expression went. He couldn't help but long for the years when she still believed in Santa and her Christmas PJ's came complete with footies and a reindeer on the front. He was excited for her to begin a new phase in her life, but deep down he was dreading his life in the loft without her pitter patter on the stairs and the midnight snacks and laser tag tournaments that they both enjoyed. He considered it possible that her impending departure could be the reason for the seemingly perpetual knot that sat in his stomach.
This is the excuse that he discussed with his mother whenever she asked him if he was ok. Martha knew her son well and she could see that the twinkle of Christmas was only there in part this year. While it was still brighter than most everyone else's sparkle, it was dim in comparison to year's past- she couldn't help but bring it up.
Castle had just finished assuring Martha that he was fine when he went into his bedroom and gazed out the windows overlooking the city. He began to unbutton his shirt while a rocking version of jingle bells played softly over his sound system. He hummed along, after all he is not a Grinch, but ended up just sighing in disappointment as he flung himself down on the bed.
"What is my problem?" He asked aloud.
Her face instantly sprang to mind. It was a unique kind of torture the way she could make him feel amazing and pitiful in one fell swoop. Just summoning her image, as his brain seemed pre-programmed to do, caused Castle to wince. How could she be the problem?
His mind began to wander to a million places at once. He felt guilty because of the resentment welling up in his gut. It wasn't her fault, she didn't know, but he resented the fact that he had to buy her just one sensible gift and exchange it with her at the precinct after shift. He hated that she was in the "friends category" hardly any rank above Esposito and Ryan. How he longed to be unapologetically crowding the underside of his Christmas tree with gifts with her name on the tag. And more than that, to be spending a Christmas with Kate wrapped in his arms and sharing warm mugs of coffee as he whispered inappropriate comments in her ear. Don't even get him started on his plans with mistletoe.
He berated his body for wishing for more when his mind knew she was lucky to be alive. He wanted to be grateful to have ANY Christmas with Kate Beckett and a part of him was. A part of him could logically say, "just be thankful she is here!" But the romantic side…the passionate and wistful side…it was lovesick.
More alarming than admitting he was in love with her, Castle hated the fact that he was also still angry with her. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying so hard to push those three miserable months out of his mind. He had HATED what she did to him. When he saw her at the bookstore and followed her to the swings that day, he wanted to so badly to be done with her. His sense of pride knew that she was a closed off and damaged woman and it wondered at what his heart would let him endure, and how much longer he was going to have to endure it.
He sat up, suddenly eager to head to his office and pull up her mom's case. The thought of working on it, however, caused a new storm cloud of emotions to rise in his chest. What if he solved the case and Kate hated him for it? What if he never solved the case and she hated herself for it? What if they both died trying? He laid back down on the bed. There was no hope. In the season of hope and joy and peace and goodwill towards all, Castle felt lost.
"Bah Humbug," he chuckled to himself…"maybe New Year's will be better".
He sat up with a start. "Maybe New Year's WILL be better" a small smile graced his lips. He thought about Ryan and Jenny's upcoming wedding and how Beckett had not agreed, but had not refused to be his date. He thought about her willingness, and sometimes even her suggestion, to spend time with him outside of work. He thought about how for better or for worse he was in love with Kate Beckett and would probably follow her to the ends of the earth…and he thought maybe, just maybe, that next year it would get better!
He got up and flipped off his light, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night".
What do you think? Seem realistic? (: