NOT EVEN A MOUSE

She wakes to the sound of hissing and muffled curses.

By the time Kate makes it into the living room, dressed at least in pajamas, Castle is sitting on the couch, his thumb in his mouth and angry red but not bleeding scratches on the back of his hand.

"Aren't you a little old to be sucking your thumb there, stud?" she asks, dropping gracelessly into the seat next to him and reaching toward him with both hands.

He glares at her, but softens when she pulls his hand toward her chest, her fingers gentle as she examines the wounds.

"What did you do?" she asks once she's pressed her lips to the broad knuckle of his thumb, knowing that a kiss to make it all better works on more than just their children.

He furrows his eyebrows. "Why do you assume I did anything?"

She resists the urge to roll her eyes at him. Because it's Christmas.

"Hello," she says, chuckling. "Have you met my cat? She adores you. I've been on the receiving end of Minnie's wrath far more times than you have."

He shrugs, can't deny it, she knows. Somehow when she's the one who has to take the cat to the vet or put her in the carrier, it's a inevitably bloody skirmish. Minerva practically walks into the carrier with no encouragement when Castle's in charge.

The cat in question appears at that moment, leaping onto the detective's lap and worming her way into a non-existent space between her humans' thighs and bumping her head against Castle's forearm.

"See?" Kate says, shaking her head. "She scratched you to bits a few minutes ago and now here she is wanting you to pet her."

"Well, actually," the writer says. "It wasn't-"

But there's a rustle from the direction of the Christmas tree just then and Kate's head whips around just as Castle finishes his sentence with "her."

The detective stares at the tree for a moment, but there's no more noise. She turns back to her husband and the cat, one looking sheepish and the other merely inquisitive.

Another rustle. She looks at the tree again. A bell jingles from somewhere near the top.

"What was that?" she asks.

"An angel just got its wings?" the writer says hopefully.

She swivels in her seat, narrows her eyes at the man still cradling his scratched hand. "Richard Castle. What did you do?"

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