Disclaimer- I don't own it. If I did, well… it wouldn't be the amazing show we love, and I would actually have money for someone to sue for.

A relatively well known, but often overlooked, fact about the holidays is that for many people, they aren't cheerful at all. No one was more intimately familiar with this fact than a homicide detective. Each year, the holiday season saw a spike in suicides and murders. This meant more work for less people, as many cops took their vacation leave around the holidays. Detective Kate Beckett was not one of them. Her partner, however, was. Not that he was a cop.

Consequently, the Detective found herself alone at her desk in a nearly empty precinct, looking over yet another homicide case. A double homicide actually. A double homicide case which was so frustratingly circular that she had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she would be unable to make an arrest.

With a groan, she pushed the case file away from her and sat back, rubbing her hands over her eyes. While she would never admit it, she missed Castle. It was cases like this one, the ones that never seemed to add up, which he was the most helpful with. Not only did his wild theories lead to some divergent thinking, but he just made it so damn much more fun. When he was around, pulling her pig tails and acting like an overgrown twelve year old, the bodies weighed on her less. They were still there of course, but she took them a little less personally, and felt a little less responsible, when Castle was there. He connected her to a life and a world outside of death and murder. Not that she could really blame him for taking a break. She knew that all too often, his presence on the cases had the opposite effect on him. Particularly since the 3XK case, he had been more solemn, and had been more affected by the murders. He had tried to hide it of course, but she knew him too well, and was far too competent a detective not to notice. Even buying his old pub hadn't really helped as much as she had hoped it would. So she didn't begrudge him his ski trip with Alexis and her boyfriend. Particularly since he had invited her. Again. But despite her reluctance to deny him after all that had happened the last time she refused his invitation, she had chosen not to go. Things were just too weird between them still. Besides, she knew that neither Gina nor Josh was thrilled with the idea, and Beckett had no desire to ruin either relationship. Well, not no desire...

So, she had stayed. And in the week and a half that he had been gone so far, she had had about six cases, and had helped the boys with another three before they too had both left for Christmas with their families. And God did those cases weigh on her. Kate was honestly fond of the Christmas season. She tried to enjoy it, but between the mental and physical exhaustion of her job, she couldn't find it in herself to whistle a carol or smile at the beauty that was New York near Christmas.

Coffee. That was what she needed. It sounded so good she could practically smell it. Opening her eyes, she jumped in her seat, nearly falling out of her chair.

"Castle!" she yelped, "What the hell?"

The man in front of her, holding what was definitely not imaginary coffee, shrugged. "Thought you might like some coffee. And judging by the look of it, I was right."

"But you... You're not supposed to be here! You are in... Were in Colorado! Don't sneak up on me!"

"Trip got cut a little short. For me at least. Alexis stayed in Aspen with Ashley and his parents. Now, do you want the coffee or not?"

Beckett grabbed the cup from him. "So did you come back just to annoy me or is there some sort of method to the madness?"

"Nope," Castle said, popping the p, "doctor's orders.". He lifted his arm, and pushed back his sleeve, revealing a forearm that was darkened with bruises and wrapped in white bandages that looked distinctly picked at. "I have an appointment with an orthopedist tomorrow, but the medic said it's almost certainly broken." Castle grimaced, glaring at the offending appendage as if it had betrayed him. "Alexis convinced me to try snowboarding."

"Jesus Castle," she muttered "you leave me for a week. A week! I mean, you follow around a cop for years, get into gun fights, get kidnapped by serial killers…" Beckett's voice trailed off, noticing the pained look on his face at the mention of what he definitely considered his failure. She wished she hadn't mentioned it. "And you get injured on vacation. What happened?"

He grinned sheepishly, "I fell and tried to catch myself. It was stupid. The instructor told us not to break our falls with our hands… Then someone skied over my arm."

Kate let out a sympathetic burst of air. "Ouch." Then, grinning sardonically, she patted him on the back. "Well, at least you get to have people sign your cast."

Of course, this was Castle, so what many would have taken her comment for what it was—sarcastic, he pondered her words seriously for a moment before his face gradually morphed into a grin. "Yeah, and maybe I could have them decorate it too. Get some paint markers. Would you like to sign my cast detective?"

She opened her mouth to answer in the negative, but seeing his honest excitement that was lighting his face, and the spectacular bruising adorning his arm, she couldn't. The words were out of her mouth before she really had time to process them. "Sure Castle. I'd love to."

His grin transformed into a full on, beaming, smile. It was a smile that she had seen too little of lately, and not just because he hadn't been there recently. It had been a while since he had smiled his true smile that lit up his face, reached his eyes, and made him seem years younger. Secretly, she was relieved to see it.

"Why thank you Beckett."

"Don't mention it. Really."

Castle chuckled, but his face quickly turned serious. "You look like you need to take a break."

"I'm fine Castle," Beckett stated in what would have been a convincing statement had it not been followed by a groan and vigorous rubbing of her neck. "I need to work on this case."

"The case will be here in the morning." He glanced at the murder board, which was tellingly bare. "It doesn't look like there's much to do tonight anyway. How about you come with me on a walk, and then we can both go home and start fresh in the morning."

"You have a doctor's appointment."

"Then you can start fresh in the morning, and I can start fresh in the early afternoon." Castle waggled his eyebrows at her. "You could fill me in on the case on our little stroll. Walk and talk."

While the idea of escaping the precinct was tempting, Kate found herself looking back at the murder board again. The victims and their families deserved closure. The killers had to be brought to justice. Which didn't leave time for leaving work early. "I don't think so Castle. I've got work to do."

"Right. And how long had you been staring at the same page of that file before I walked in?"

"I…" she trailed off, realizing that she had in fact been poring over details she had been over so many times that she could recite them from memory in her sleep. "Fine. A walk actually sounds pretty nice."

Richard Castle grinned and held up her coat for her to put on. "You're going to need this. It's snowing."

I don't really know where this came from. Originally it was going to be a one-shot, but the story just kept adding new bits and pieces, and before I knew it, it was breaking itself into two. Funnily enough, my first idea for this fic doesn't show up in this chapter at all. I still think that it turned out interestingly though. If you all would be interested in seeing the second part, drop a review. In fact, if you aren't interested in seeing the second part, drop a review too and tell me why not. Merry Christmas.