5x09 Transcript

Transcribed by:
McManda
CASTLE
EPISODE 5x09
"Secret Santa"


EXT – NEW YORK CITY PARK, NIGHTTIME

A family walks through the snow. The young daughter runs off and flops down into a pile of snow and starts making a snow angel. Her parents follow suit, flanking either side of their daughter with their own snow angels. The mom glances up into the sky.

MOM
Honey? What is that?

The daughter’s face drops when she realizes the thing falling out of the sky toward them looks a lot like Santa Claus. The man dressed as Santa drops into a snow bank. All three sit up from the snow angels to look, and then daughter screams.

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

RICHARD CASTLE
Ah ha! Found it.

He’s going through Christmas ornaments. He’s got tons; there’s even some tinsel wrapped around his neck.

ALEXIS CASTLE
Dad, you should toss that. It’s getting kinda gross.

CASTLE
Toss cookie angel? No way. You made this for me in first grade with your chubby little hands.

She takes the angel ornament from him.

MARTHA RODGERS
Darling, could you pick me up an extra bottle of aquavit for our Glögg?

CASTLE
An extra bottle of hundred proof? You’re not tampering with our secret holiday recipe?

MARTHA
No, no, no. I was going to make an extra-large batch to take with me Christmas Eve caroling. Oh, it’ll be after our Christmas dinner. You don’t mind, do you?

His face says he does.

CASTLE
But it’s Christmas Eve. That’s when we open the gifts.

ALEXIS
Maybe we can open them in the morning.

CASTLE
(scoffs) In the morning? Mornings are for stockings.

MARTHA
Well, I think – I think what Alexis is trying to say is that she has other plans, too.

ALEXIS
Just with a couple of friends. It’s – (she shakes her head)

CASTLE
What friends? (he looks at MARTHA) What plans? What is happening to our family tradition?

ALEXIS
Dad, I think you’re kind of over reacting.

He sighs and looks at the Christmas train city on the table.

EXT – NEW YORK CITY PARK

CASTLE
I am not overreacting. It’s one night out of the year. Is it too much to ask to stick to the program?

DETECTIVE KATE BECKETT
Well maybe your program should evolve a little.

CASTLE
It is evolving. I invited you, didn’t I? You are still coming, right?

BECKETT
Ah, yeah, I mean, if I don’t have to work. (he lifts the crime scene tape and she ducks under) But look, no presents, remember? We promised. It’s just … a little too stressful this first year.

CASTLE
No presents. I’m flexible. There are certain aspects to this that are time honored. The heart, the beating heart behind the Christmas holidays. (he sees victim) And now Santa is dead? When will it end?

BECKETT
I hate to break it to you Castle, but there is no Santa.

CASTLE
Well not any more.

LANIE PARISH
You gotta admit, with that beard and that belly he looks like the real deal.

BECKETT
If by the real deal you mean an overweight man in a red suit who is hopefully carrying ID?

LANIE
Yeah. (she flashes an evidence bag) Along with lots of candy cane wrappers, though I don’t think that ID of his is going to do you much good.

LANIE hands her a wallet, which she flips open to read.

BECKETT
Kris Kringle, address North Pole. (CASTLE’S jaw drops) That’s cute.

CASTLE
Maybe he’s the real Santa. Like in Miracle on 34th Street.

LANIE
Yeah, but with no happy ending. This Santa fell out of the sky around 9:30.

BECKETT
From an aircraft?

LANIE
Maybe, but it wasn’t a commercial plane, I can tell you that. With a fall from high altitude we’d see severe frostbite on his eyes and his face.

DETECTIVE KEVIN RYAN
Hey, so I just talked with the family. They didn’t see or hear any planes overhead.

BECKETT
That doesn’t make any sense. He had to have fallen from somewhere.

CASTLE
I’m sorry, are we overlooking the obvious here? He hit some turbulence and slipped out of his sleigh and fell to his doom.

The theory gets an eye roll from BECKETT.

RYAN
Santa, lying there dead. You gotta ask yourself, what kind of world do we live in?

CASTLE and RYAN take a second to mourn Santa.

BECKETT
A world in which there is no Santa and people don’t fall out of nowhere. (to RYAN) Can you check with air traffic control and find out what flights were in the area?

RYAN
Sure. Bah humbug.

He leaves to check.

BECKETT
So was the fall cause of death?

LANIE
Looks like it, but I won’t know for sure until I get him back to the morgue.

BECKETT crouches down to get a better look.

CASTLE
Well Santa or no, he sure is committed. And you’re saying there’s nothing in his wallet that indicated a break in character?

LANIE
Nope.

BECKETT
Except for these boots. (she brushes some snow off of one) They are definitely not from the North Pole. They’re custom made from a leather shop in Queens. I got a pair of motorcycle boots there. Hopefully they’ll have a record of who this man is.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BUILLPEN

CASTLE is adding information about the dead Santa to the murder board. The photo is labeled as JOHN DOE, but CASTLE adds the name KRIS KRINGLE and sends a look to BECKETT. She shakes her head and smiles.

RYAN
Hey, I heard from air traffic control, but you’re not going to like the news. They have no record of anyone flying over the park during the time our guy hit the ground.

BECKETT
How is that even possible?

CASTLE
Santa had his sleigh in stealth mode.

BECKETT
No. I mean, after 9/11 how is it possible that someone can just fly over Manhattan?

CASTLE
Sightseeing choppers do it all the time. There was this one time, took a midnight loop around the Statue of Liberty with this Latin – (at RYAN’S eyebrow raise he trails off, realizing. He looks to BECKETT, who just gives him a look of her own) – publisher.

CAPTAIN VICTORIA GATES
No, he’s right. There’s a Manhattan flight carter which doesn’t require you to radio in if you stay under 1300 feet. (CASTLE nods along) My mother-in-law is a licensed pilot, as she keeps reminding me. Part of a larger effort to make me feel inferior. (off the looks of the others) I’m sorry, did I just say that out loud?

RYAN
Sounds like she’s … staying with you, Captain?

GATES
One day soon your in-laws will visit too, and when they do, think hotel. (she walks away) Oh Lord, I hate the holidays.

CASTLE
Yet another quality she has in common with the Grinch.

BECKETT smiles.

BECKETT
So if we don’t’ know where our Santa fell from, do we at least know who he is?

DETECTIVE JAVIER ESPOSITO
Hopefully we will soon. Unis rousted the owner of that boot store in Queens. They’re getting him to open up the shop and check his invoices.

BECKETT’S phone rings and she glances down.

BECKETT
Lanie’s got something for us. Can you keep us posted on the boots?

ESPOSITO
Yeah.

CASTLE hands a marker to ESPOSITO and follows her out.

ESPOSITO
(off RYAN’S sad look) You’re taking this on kind of hard, bro.

RYAN
He’s a symbol of childhood innocence. Makes me wonder what this means for the future.

ESPOSITO
It means there’s going to be one less guy being dressed up as Santa. (RYAN shrugs) Hey, so uh, we’re coming up on Christmas Eve. Want to keep the tradition going? You, me, a six-pack, Madden on the big screen?

RYAN
You know what? Um … I think Jenny has other plans this year.

ESPOSITO’S hopeful expression drops. RYAN shrugs again in apology and turns around to leave.

INT – MORGUE

LANIE
Remember how you asked if that fall was what killed him? (BECKETT nods) Well it wasn’t. I pulled this out of his back.

She holds up a bullet.

BECKETT
And that is a .38. Do you still think he fell off his sleigh, Castle?

CASTLE
No. Clearly he was shot out of it. Talk about a war on Christmas.

BECKETT
Or he was just shot in an aircraft and pushed out. (to LANIE) So we have anything else?

LANIE
Just this embedded in his suit. (she hands over an evidence bag) A chip of paint or some kind of enamel. Cherry red.

CASTLE
From a sleigh.

BECKETT gives him an eye roll.

LANIE
I don’t know yet. I’m sending it down to the lab for analysis.

CASTLE
Probably from a sleigh.

BECKETT
Are we any closer to figuring out who he is?

ESPOSITO
We are now. Name’s Edmund Smith. Lives in the Bronx. Got his ID from that boot shop.

He hands her a paper.

BECKETT
I’m sorry, you just came all the way down her to give me this?

ESPOSITO looks from BECKETT to CASTLE to LANIE.

ESPOSITO
Yeah … you told me to keep you posted. You did say that, right?

He shifts his gaze back to LANIE.

BECKETT
You know what? Castle and I are gonna go check out the place and see what there is to see.

She and CASTLE leave awkwardly and LANIE tries to get back to work.

LANIE
Mmm. Javi, since when did you wearing cologne to work?

ESPOSITO
Oh, you know, it’s the holidays and I’ve got places to be, people to see. (he gives her a look and a smirk) How about you?

LANIE
Okay, I see where this is going. I’m going to stop you right there. I already have plans for Christmas Eve. I’m hanging out with my girlfriends.

ESPOSITO
Oh. That’s cool. (pause) Maybe afterwards you and I can -

LANIE
Javi! Let’s not be one of those sad, desperate holiday hookups. But all this dies down, if you still want to get together, just … give me a call.

She walks past him with a saucy look and he sighs.

INT – EDMUND SMITH’S APARTMENT

CASTLE knocks on the door. He’s a bit impatient, like he’s been trying for a while.

BETH CABOT
I don’t think he’s home.

BECKETT
NYPD. Is there a super or someone who can let us into this apartment?

BETH
Yeah, um, we have a key. Tim, could you grab Ed’s key? Did uh, something happen to Edmund?

She walks forward with TIM to unlock the door.

INT – EDMUND SMITH’S APARTMENT

BECKETT
So when was the last time you saw him?

BETH
It must have been last night around 5. I saw him leave with his costume bag. I figured he was going on a job.

TIM CABOT
Ed was a professional Santa. (he slides open a closet door to show them lots of Santa costumes)

CASTLE fingers a cuckoo clock and it goes off, startling everyone. He tries to make it stop making noise.

CASTLE
Looks like he took his job pretty seriously.

BETH
Oh, he lived it, really. I mean, volunteering at the rec center and the shelter. He was always here for Tim and the kids. He even helped with our lawsuit.

CASTLE
He was a Santa and a lawyer?

BETH
No. We lost our house and he was just trying to help us out. He was like that.

BECKETT
Sounds like he got involved in a lot of people’s lives. Do you think he made any enemies along the way?

BETH
I didn’t think so, but then last week I heard this man pounding on Ed’s door shouting cuss words.

BECKETT
Did you see who it was?

TIM
I did. I looked out. It was an older, tough looking dude. When he saw me he said, “when you see Ed again tell him that I’ll kill him”. So I told Ed.

CASTLE
How did he react?

BETH
He told us not to worry, but you could tell he was pretty shaken up.

BECKETT
You think you could describe him?

TIM
You know what? I – I don’t have to. That’s him.

He pulls a picture from the bulletin board and hands it to BECKETT.

CASTLE
Well whoever he is, he’s a pilot.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN is on the phone with BECKETT.

RYAN
According to the tail number on that plane, the Cessna is registered to a David Dunne. Guy’s got priors, too. Drunken disorderly, assault.

BECKETT
Where do we find him?

RYAN
Well this just lists his place of employment. 1215 Canal Street. 2nd floor.

EST – NEW YORK CITY, NIGHTTIME

INT – DAVID DUNNE’S OFFICE

BECKETT
Wow. Someone takes Christmas seriously.

She’s not kidding. The place is decked out in lights and flowers and decorations.

CASTLE
Ah, you should see our place. Our tree is a 15 ft.DouglasFir. We had our garland shipped in from some lake I can’t pronounce by the Canadian border. And wait ‘til you see my train set.

BECKETT
Yeah, can’t wait.

There’s something wrong. The tone of her voice betrays her hesitation.

CASTLE
Hi.

RECEPTIONIST
Merry Christmas.

BECKETT
We’re looking for David Dunne.

RECEPTIONIST
Oh, Dave’s in the big room teaching a class.

CASTLE
What is it you do here, exactly?

RECEPTIONIST
We make magic.

She smiles and gestures for them to follow her. CASTLE smiles as BECKETT before he heads off down the hallway. RECEPTIONIST opens a set of doors. There are tens of Santas sitting around.

DAVID DUNNE
Again!

SANTAS
Ho ho ho!

DUNNE
Again!

SANTAS
Ho ho ho!

DUNNE
Once again, from the diaphragm!

SANTAS
Ho ho ho!

DUNNE
That’s it.

CASTLE
Santa school?

BECKETT
And I bet you one Santa is missing.

SANTAS
Ho ho ho!

[INTRO, with lights and a candy cane and jingle bells]

INT – SANTA SCHOOL

DUNNE
This is crazy. I did not kill Edmund.

CASTLE
Trust me, you’re going to have to do a lot better than that to convince her.

BECKETT
You can start by telling us when you last flew your plane.

DUNNE
Not for weeks. You can check.

BECKETT
We intend to. Now, where were you at 9:30 last night.

DUNNE
I was at the Harlem Youth Center handing out gifts to kids. I wasn’t anywhere near Edmund.

CASTLE
But you did engage in some un-Santa-like behavior at his apartment.

DUNNE studies them.

DUNNE
Is that what this is about? (he closes up a package of pipe tobacco) That was nothing.

BECKETT
You threatened to kill him and now he’s dead. I wouldn’t call that nothing.

DUNNE
I can explain that, okay? See, Edmund took one of my best gigs. It was a print ad for Cartier. I was their go-to Santa. But this year they wanted to go more warm and cuddly. Look at me. I’m warm, I’m cuddly. But no, they chose Edmund, so yeah, I drank too much peppermint schnapps and went over to his place and popped off. I’m not proud of it. But that was all I did.

BECKETT
Did you see him again after that?

DUNNE
No. You have to understand. When I first met Edmund 5 years ago, he was at a low point in life. I raised him up. I taught him everything I knew. I turned him into a world class Santa. And now I’m losing gigs to him? Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s time to hang up the fluffy red jockstrap.

CASTLE glances down.

CASTLE
Is – is that a metaphor or do you really –

BECKETT
Ah, when Edmund was killed he was wearing his Santa suit. Do you know if he had a job last night?

DUNNE
You’d have to ask his agent.

CASTLE
Santas have agents?

DUNNE
Yeah. Mostly we use the Bells and Holly Agency.

CASTLE
You said Edmund was at a low point in his life. What did you mean by that?

DUNNE
I just think he became a Santa to turn his life around. And it worked, too.

BECKETT
Turn his life around? Was he in trouble of some sort?

DUNNE
All I know is back when I met him, Edmund was a totally different guy.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN
David Dunne’s alibi checked out. Harlem Youth Club said that he was there last night and the Cessna’s been parked in a hangar for over a month.

BECKETT
Did you find out what Santa job Edmund was doing?

RYAN
His agent said he wasn’t booked on any gigs last night.

BECKETT
So why was he wearing his Santa suit and how did he end up dead?

CASTLE
If this was a story it would all come back to Edmund’s character. Why he became a Santa in the first place.

ESPOSITO
Turns out, that’s a mystery all by itself. I’ve been looking into this guy and check it. (he adds a photo of a normal guy to the murder board) That is Santa 5 years ago. Meet James Edmund Smith. He was a private equity manager at some big firm.

BECKETT
That’s the same guy?

ESPOSITO
Yeah.

BECKETT
What happened?

CASTLE
Dedication to his craft.

ESPOSITO
Like De Niro in Raging Bull.

BECKETT
To be a Santa?

ESPOSITO
It’s pretty extreme, I know. And I’ll tell you this much. He didn’t go all Santa for the money. Back in the day he used to pull down half a mil a year. As Santa he made a tenth of that.

RYAN
He made that much as a Santa? Maybe I should switch jobs, huh?

CASTLE chuckles.

ESPOSITO
What, gain 200 pounds and have a bunch of rugrats sitting in your lap with dirty diapers?

RYAN
Yeah, thanks for that visual.

ESPOSITO
Oh, here’s another thing. I pulled Edmund’s financials. On the night he was killed he withdrew $2 grand from his ATM.

CASTLE
He didn’t have that money on him when we found him. His wallet was empty.

BECKETT
All right, take a look at the ATM footage and see if anyone was with him. He might have been robbed.

CASTLE
Ah… robbed and then launched into space?

BECKETT
And how is that less plausible than your sleigh?

CASTLE
I think you mean less claus-ible.

She tries to hide her smile.

BECKETT
What about his phone records?

RYAN
Made a bunch of calls to some lawyer in Brooklyn. But here’s the interesting one. The last phone call he ever made was to his ex-wife.

CASTLE
Mrs. Claus.

RYAN
Gwenn Harwin. I went back pretty far in his phone records. He hasn’t called her for at least 3 years.

BECKETT
So he pulls out $2 grand, calls his ex-wife, and a couple of hours later he ends up dead. Let’s bring her in.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERVIEW ROOM

GWENN HARWIN
He called me to say that he wanted to stop by. It was the strangest thing. When he showed up, I didn’t recognize him. He was just … gone.

She sits and CASTLE shuts the door.

BECKETT
I’m sorry to ask you this, Ms. Harwin, but where were you last night at 9:30?

GWENN
It’s quite all right. I understand. I was hosting a benefit for the food bank.

BECKETT
And why did Edmund come to see you?

GWENN
To apologize.

CASTLE
Apologize for what?

GWENN
For the way he walked out on our life. (sighs) We were good together. At least, I thought we were. Twelve years of marriage, of building a life together, and then five years ago, Christmas Eve, we went to a party and afterwards we stayed up to watch It’s A Wonderful Life. And the next morning he left with just the shirt on his back and no explanation.

BECKETT
But why would he visit you now?

GWENN
He wanted me to know how sorry he was for the way he left in case … anything happened to him.

CASTLE
What did he mean by that?

GWENN
I – I don’t know what he meant. I don’t even know who this man was. He seemed very nervous and very on edge.

BECKETT
Did he give you any indication of what he was afraid of or who might have been after him?

She thinks.

GWENN
After he left I went to the window to watch him get to the cab. And as the cab pulled away there was a man on a motorcycle who was following him.

BECKETT
We’re going to need you to give us a description of that motorcycle along with its rider.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN fingers a white box, then pushes it to the side of his desk.

ESPOSITO
Early Christmas present from Jenny?

RYAN
Something like that. Would you mind … not touching it?

ESPOSITO opens the box. Inside is a naughty Santa negligee.

ESPOSITO
Oooh. (he picks it up) Well, well, well. Now I see what you and Jenny have got planned for Christmas Eve. (he holds it up in front of him) Ya’ll are gonna be getting busy.

He dances around a bit with the lingerie. RYAN watches, less horrified than he probably should be.

ESPOSITO
(falsetto) Ho! Ho! Ho!

GATES
Uh … (ESPOSITO whips around to face her) I take it this is your idea of working the Santa case. Detective Esposito, you’re supposed to be digging up that ATM footage. And you are –

RYAN
Chasing down that lawyer our victim had been calling. Sir.

GATES
Okay, then. Let’s finish up this hoochie-coochie thing and get on with it.

ESPOSITO
Yes, Sir.

She’s already gone.

RYAN
So busted.

ESPOSITO ambles away.

ESPOSITO
Bow chicha bow bown.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT
How does a guy on a motorcycle connect to Edmund landing in the park?

CASTLE
Nothing connects. Why does a man watch a Christmas movie and then walk out on everything to become Santa? (he studies the murder board) Unless the key to Edmund’s story is It’s A Wonderful Life. You remember in the movie, George Bailey tried to commit suicide on Christmas Eve and was saved by an angel.

BECKETT
Which in our story is David Dunne.

CASTLE
Weird casting choice, I know. But what if Edmund was trying to jump off a metaphoric bridge? You know, start over.

BECKETT
As a Santa?

CASTLE
Yes. (he thinks) Yeah, that’s where it falls apart.

RYAN
Actually, it looks like Edmund was way more than just a Santa. I finally got a hold of that lawyer he’d been calling. She’s actually filed a suit on behalf of his neighbors, the Cabots, who lost their home to a predatory lender, Suncove Funding. Something about illegal practices and forged documents. Anyway, it’s a class action suit representing 43 families with millions of dollars at stake.

BECKETT
But why was Edmund calling the lawyer?

RYAN
She had been working on contingency. She’s already lost tons of money pressing the case so she wanted to drop the suit. But Edmund begged her not to. In fact, he asked her to hold off just a few days, maybe he could turn things around.

CASTLE
How?

RYAN
He didn’t say. But the only thing that would turn things around was a check for $25 grand.

BECKETT
What do we know about this company that Edmund was up against?

RYAN
Suncove? It’s a fly by night. They made their money and then they folded. Gates actually has a friend at the SEC trying to dig up some information on them.

BECKETT
Can you check with the fraud division, see what they know about Suncove?

RYAN
Yeah, you got it.

BECKETT
Thanks.

He leaves.

CASTLE
Speaking of It’s A Wonderful Life, I was thinking perhaps tomorrow night we should have a Christmas movie marathon. Or some other kind of marathon that makes life wonderful.

She smirks at the innuendo, but then stands hesitantly.

BECKETT
Um…

CASTLE
What?

BECKETT
Castle, look, I know how much the holidays mean to you and how much you love Christmas, but I can’t make it tomorrow.

She finally looks at him and watches the smile drop off his face.

CASTLE
What?

BECKETT
The precinct is short staffed, so I’m gonna have to work.

ESPOSITO stops short, doesn’t want to interrupt.

CASTLE
How – what – don’t – don’t you have seniority? Don’t – how – how can this happen?

BECKETT
(whispered) Look, I couldn’t tell Gates. She doesn’t know about us, okay? So … look, I’m sorry. I know that you’re disappointed.

He sighs.

CASTLE
No, uh … no. It’s not your fault, I know. It’s okay. I’m – (he grimaces in disappointment) I gotta get out of here anyway, got to deal with Alexis and Christmas shopping.

BECKETT
Okay. Have fun.

CASTLE
Okay.

BECKETT
And don’t get me anything.

CASTLE
Right.

She doesn’t watch him leave; she knows she’s upset him.

ESPOSITO
Hey. So uh, I pulled this from the ATM footage. Edmund was alone when he took out the cash, but he did get into a cab.

She pulls herself together.

BECKETT
Any idea where he was going?

ESPOSITO
Yeah, I traced the taxi using the medallion. Cabbie said he took Edmund to Hohokus Field. It’s a small airfield out in Jersey.

BECKETT
Is that where he got on the plane?

ESPOSITO
You’d think, but no. The cabbie said that Edmund had him wait so he could go meet somebody. Then he got back in the cab, they left the airfield, and the cabbie dropped him off in Long Island City.

BECKETT
That doesn’t make any sense. How did he end up in the air if he went to Long Island City?

ESPOSITO
I have no idea. But the person that he met with at the airfield might.

EXT – HOHOKUS AIRFIELD

ESPOSITO
So. You pulled the Christmas shift. Again.

BECKETT
You know you shouldn’t be eavesdropping, buddy.

ESPOSITO shrugs and smiles. BECKETT glances over his shoulder.

BECKETT
Espo, does that look cherry red to you?

He looks in the direction she’s looking, sees the red helicopter.

ESPOSITO
It does.

BECKETT
Just like the paint chip we found on Edmund.

They walk over to the cherry red helicopter.

BECKETT
This lock’s been tampered with. Looks like it was forced open.

She opens the door and looks around. She presses down on the seat and watches as blood oozes out.

BECKETT
There’s fresh blood here. And lots of it.

ESPOSITO
Looks like we just found our crime scene.

BECKETT
Yeah.

EXT – HOHOKUS AIRFIELD

BECKETT and ESPOSITO have called out CSU to examine the scene.

ESPOSITO
Looks like the blood is a match to Edmund, but so far there are no prints. It looks like the cockpit’s been wiped.

BECKETT
If Edmund came down here and then he went back to Long Island City then how the hell did he end up in this chopper?

ESPOSITO
Well whoever was with him has got to have the answer to that.

BECKETT
Let’s start with who owns this thing.

ESPOSITO
Well, according to the airfield manager Mr. Mudge, it belongs to a Chuck Ames. He’s on vacation in Hawaii.

BECKETT walks over to MR. MUDGE

BECKETT
Hi, Mr. Mudge. I’m Kate Beckett. (she shakes his hand) Now, is anyone else authorized to fly that bird?

MR. MUDGE
Not that I’m aware of.

ESPOSITO
Looks like just about anybody can have access to this airfield. There’s no checkpoints, no cameras.

MR. MUDGE
Never needed any ‘til now.

ESPOSITO
The point is, if someone did get on to this property how hard would it be to fly that chopper out of here?

MR. MUDGE
Anybody with a helicopter rating could take it up. R-44’s are easy. You don’t even need a key to start it.

BECKETT
So then we’re looking for someone who knew the ins and outs of this airport along with the act that that chopper was going to be here.

ESPOSITO
Maybe even someone that knew Chuck Ames would be in Hawaii.

BECKETT
We’re gonna need Mr. Ames’ contact info, along with all the names of your employees and everyone who’s flown through here in the past year.

MR. MUDGE
Hey, I got Christmas lights to hang.

BECKETT
Yeah, and we have a murder to solve. Now, is there any way to know where the chopper flew last night? Is there a flight recorder? GPS system?

MR. MUDGE
Again, she’s a low-tech bird.

BECKETT
Do you have a record of the fuel that was in the tank?

MR. MUDGE checks a paper attached to his clipboard.

MR. MUDGE
Fuel log says it was full.

BECKETT nods and he walks away.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN
Which means we can figure out how far the chopper flew by how much fuel was used. It was down about a fifth of a tank, the R-44 burns about 4 or 5 miles per gallon, so it flew about 45 miles.

BECKETT
That’s almost exactly how far it is to Long Island City and back.

RYAN
Edmund took the cab there and must have gotten in that chopper.

BECKETT
Okay, let’s check all the heliports in Long Island City and find out where.

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

CASTLE and ALEXIS are back from Christmas shopping.

CASTLE
I mean, it’s bad enough that Santa has been murdered. This will be the first Christmas Eve in 18 years we haven’t spent together. I mean, it sets a grim precedent.

ALEXIS
Dad, you’re being dramatic.

CASTLE
Ah, you can see your friends any time.

She hesitates.

ALEXIS
Well, what if it’s just one person? And he’s not really just a friend?

CASTLE stares at her. She won’t look at him.

CASTLE
Oh. Oh, a new guy. Okay. Well, does this non-plural non-friend have a name?

ALEXIS
It’s Max.

CASTLE
Max.

ALEXIS
I met him at the annual bad poetry contest right before Thanksgiving.

CASTLE
I see. Well, bring him along. I would like to meet this bad poet.

Her head whips around to look at him.

ALEXIS
Meet my dad on Christmas Eve?

CASTLE
Yeah.

ALEXIS
That’s – that’s way too much pressure.

CASTLE
Pressure to what? Eat, drink, and be merry? It’ll be – we –

ALEXIS
Max is going to London with his family on Christmas Day. I won’t get to see him until after break. We just want to go ice skating in the park.

CASTLE
Yeah, of course. Of course. Go. Have a great time.

She laughs and kisses his cheek.

ALEXIS
Besides, you’ll be with Beckett.

His smile falls slightly.

CASTLE
Right.

ALEXIS
Oh! And don’t worry. I’ll be home in bed before Santa comes.

She smiles and leaves. CASTLE’S smile is bittersweet and he turns to look at the tree.

CASTLE
Right.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE exits the elevator, present in hand. He sees RYAN and BECKETT in front of the murder board, then GATES crosses in front of him.

CASTLE
Oh, Captain Gates.

He scurries to catch up to her.

GATES
Yes, what is it?

CASTLE
I just wanted to make sure that you go this before you took off for the holidays.

He hands her the gift and her jaw drops.

GATES
Oh. Well thank you, Mr. Castle. I – I’m sorry, I don’t have anything for you.

CASTLE
Please. Just being here each day is a gift. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all that you do. (he looks at BECKETT and RYAN) You and Detective Beckett.

GATES
Mr. Castle, I am on my way uptown to meet my mother-in-law to have tea and eat those tiny freaking sandwiches, so why don’t you say what’s on your mind.

CASTLE
I’m just so worried about Detective Beckett. I mean, she works so hard. Don’t you think she deserves a little holiday? Isn’t there someone else who could take that Christmas Eve shift?

GATES
First of all, how I schedule my people is not your concern. And having said that, Detective Beckett volunteered to take the shift.

It takes CASTLE a moment to process that. He tries hard to hide his hurt.

CASTLE
When did she do that?

GATES
Earlier today. She came to me and asked to take Detective Eldin’s shift. He has a family and she doesn’t.

He forces a smile.

CASTLE
Okay then. Problem solved.

GATES walks away. CASTLE chances a look at BECKETT.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT
Okay, so that narrows it down to five heliports in Long Island City.

RYAN
One is a police station, one’s a hospital. They’d both be monitored, so that leaves helipads at Bankcorp Building, One West Hotel, and Case Commerce Building.

BECKETT studies the board.

BECKETT
(mumbled low) Case Commerce. (it clicks and she turns) The candy canes. Case Commerce, CC. That’s where Edmund was. Let’s find out why.

CASTLE stands next to the murder board until she sees him.

BECKETT
Hey, Castle. You coming?

He forces a smile.

CASTLE
Yeah, sure.

EXT – CASE COMMERCE BUILDING, DAYTIME

INT – CASE COMMERCE BUILDING

CASTLE
Ah, you can’t escape it. Christmas is everywhere. So much pressure to have a good time.

She watches him.

BECKETT
Are you okay?

CASTLE
Why wouldn’t I be?

She points and reads a sign past him.

BECKETT
Case Commerce. There it is.

She approaches a uniform interviewing a woman.

BECKETT
Hi. (she flashes her badge) What’s going on here?

UNIFORM
A heist occurred at the Christmas party last night.

CASTLE
A heist?

DENISE MCKAY
Well, I – I didn’t notice anything was missing until this morning. And that’s when I called you people.

CASTLE
You didn’t happen to have a Santa working your party, did you?

DENISE
Yes, we did.

BECKETT
Did he look like this?

She hands over a photo of EDMUND.

DENISE
Yes. He was our Santa. Why?

CASTLE
Looks like our Santa was a little more naughty than nice.

INT – CASE COMMERCE BUILDING

MICHAEL CASE
No, I never saw him before last night. And I wasn’t aware he’d stolen anything. But given what we do here, I suppose it could have been a lot worse.

BECKETT
And what is it that your company does, Mr. Case?

CASE
Investment services. Asset management, mostly. Given the amount of client and account information we’d be a gold mine for identity thieves. (shrugs) None of those systems were touched.

CASTLE
So what did he steal?

DENISE
A clock from his office in back.

BECKETT
I’m sorry, did you just say clock?

CASE
Not just any clock, Detective. A Thomas Tillage.

CASTLE
Ooh. (off BECKETT’S questioning look) Legendary clockmaker from the restoration period. (to CASE) That must have been a great deal.

CASE
I had it appraised at $30 thousand.

CASTLE
Wow. How big was it?

CASE
It was about this size. (he gestures)

CASTLE
Small enough to fit in his sack.

CASE
You know, it’s hard enough imagining one of my guests being a thief, but Santa?

CASTLE nods.

BECKETT
Are you sure nothing else is missing?

CASE
Positive. Why?

BECKETT
Well because our evidence suggests that your Santa left by helicopter, which was waiting on you helipad.

DENISE
Why would he take a helicopter?

CASTLE
You didn’t hear anything from the party?

CASE
No. But the music was loud and the back wall is soundproof.

BECKETT
Was there anything else that was special about this clock?

CASE
Not that I’m aware of.

BECKETT
Okay. I’m going to get one of my Detectives to come down and interview your staff. In the meantime, could I have a list of all the party attendees?

CASE
Sure.

He looks to DENISE.

DENISE
Of course.

BECKETT
We’ll also pull elevator footage to make sure that there weren’t any uninvited guests.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

BECKETT adds a photo of the missing clock to the murder board.

CASTLE
$30 thousand. That’s a little more than the Cabots needed for their lawsuit. Maybe our Santa is Robin Hood. Stealing from the rich to give to the poor?

BECKETT
Yeah, but why would he use a helicopter to steal this? I mean, he could have just stuffed it in his sack and ho ho ho’d his way out of there. It has to be about more than just the clock.

CASTLE
Well, there were a couple more clocks on his workbench. Maybe this one’s significance somehow.

BECKETT
Okay. What’s your theory?

CASTLE
Uh … (he thinks) Treasure map inside. (he’s got a better theory) No. No, the clock was commissioned by a secret society to count down the end of days. A secret society of Santas, who are the guardians of times. (he laughs) Oh, that’s good.

BECKETT
Okay, putting aside the mystery of the helicopter, let’s say it is about the clock. How did Edmund know about it? No one from the office recognized him.

CASTLE
Well maybe he worked the party before.

ESPOSITO
Sorry, bro. I checked. He hasn’t. But he sure was determined to work it this year. The agency had booked another Santa to work that party but someone from Case Commerce called about a week ago to cancel.

BECKETT
Let me guess. No one actually called from Case?

ESPOSITO
Ding ding.

CASTLE
And when he arrived they assumed he was the Santa they’d hired.

ESPOSITO
Kind of a brilliant scam, really. You have access to high end homes and businesses. And who’s going to distrust Santa?

CASTLE
Uh … his partners, apparently. No honor among thieves. Even Santa thieves.

BECKETT
All right, have robbery send that photo to pawn shops and auction houses. If his partners try to cash in, I want to know.

ESPOSITO
Absolutely.

They go back to studying the photo of the clock.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BREAK ROOM

BECKETT
Man leaves his life in a high paid job to become the neighborhood saint only to be shot dead after stealing a clock that’s worth less than your average car. And then he gets thrown out of a helicopter that he didn’t even need to be in in the first place. It makes no sense. Given everything that we know about this guy, this is completely out of character.

CASTLE hands her a coffee.

CASTLE
Sometimes people do inexplicable things.

She looks down at the coffee. He’s added foam art, a leaf, and she smiles at him.

BECKETT
There’s an explanation for everything.

CASTLE
Is there? (she looks at him) You volunteered to take Eldin’s shift. Don’t pretend. If you aren’t ready, why not just tell me?

BECKETT
I’m sorry, Castle. I didn’t mean to –

CASTLE
You didn’t mean to what?

She looks down before setting her coffee aside.

BECKETT
Christmas means something different to me than it does to you.

CASTLE
It’s Christmas. I mean, how can it be different?

BECKETT
(sighs) Castle, every winter, as soon as that chill rolls in, I’m right back there in that alley. January 9th and we still hadn’t taken our Christmas decorations down. And by the time my dad and I did, it was like we were putting Christmas away forever. (he nods) We haven’t opened those boxes since.

CASTLE
I didn’t know.

BECKETT
That’s why every year my dad goes up to his cabin and ever since I became a rookie I have taken the Christmas shift. Because I know that there are families out there that are celebrating together in their homes and I am keeping watch. And that is my tradition. And that is important to me. It’s as important as your tradition is to you. And I’m sorry, Castle. I thought I could let that go, but I –

CASTLE
I understand.

She looks at him. He’s not mad and she smiles as her phone rings. She answers.

BECKETT
Beckett.

RYAN
Yeah, so I got a custodian that was up on the roof last night for a smoke.

BECKETT
Did he see anything?

RYAN
It’s not what he saw, it’s what he found. Place was cleaned earlier in the day but when he got up there there was trash blown all over the helipad. Probably from the rotor wash when it took off.

BECKETT
What kind of trash?

RYAN
The kind that looked like someone had been waiting for someone. Soda can, candy wrappers, and an empty pouch of pipe tobacco.

BECKETT
Pipe tobacco.

CASTLE
Now who do we know that smokes a pipe and flies?

INT – SANTA SCHOOL

DUNNE
Now remember, when you go out there, Santa does not enter through the chimney. He enters through the heart.

He’s in the middle of a circle of Santas.

ESPOSITO
What about through a helicopter?

ESPOSITO walks into the circle and DUNNE moves back. He picks up a candy cane decoration.

ESPOSITO
What are you doing?

DUNNE takes a swing at ESPOSITO.

ESPOSITO
Put that down.

DUNNE doesn’t. He takes another swing.

ESPOSITO
Are you crazy?

DUNNE doesn’t respond, he just keeps taking swings at ESPOSITO. ESPOSITO manages to avoid all the swings.

ESPOSITO
I said put that down!

DUNNE finally manages to shove the candy cane into ESPOSISTO and then uses it to take him down. With ESPOSITO on the floor, DUNNE makes a run for it. ESPOSITO is right behind him, but he’s blocked by two other Santas. It gives DUNNE enough time to grab a present bag and swing it into ESPOSITO. With ESPOSITO once again on the ground, DUNNE makes a run for the exit. He doesn’t get far before he’s cut off by RYAN, his gun drawn.

RYAN
Merry Christmas to all.

DUNNE raises his hands and ESPOSITO slams him into a wall before cuffing him.

ESPOSITO
And to all a good night.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERROGATION ROOM

DUNNE
I already told you where I was and it wasn’t in any helicopter!

CASTLE
Yeah, about that. We checked the photos from the Harlem Youth Club. The Santa that was there was not you.

BECKETT
Where were you that night, really? (he’s silent) Let me help you. I just got off the phone with Chuck Ames, the guy that owns that helicopter, and he said that you’ve rented it from him before.

DUNNE
Do I know the guy, so what? You’ve got no proof that I was in that helicopter that night.

BECKETT
That’s because you wiped it down when you brought it back but you took something with you, didn’t you? (she opens up the door and LT walks in with the missing clock) We found this in your apartment.

LT sets it on the table and leaves.

CASTLE
Care to revise your statement?

DUNNE says nothing.

BECKETT
Let me help you again. Edmund figured out a way to make a quick score for you both. He worked the party and you were the getaway flyer. And when he got back into the chopper you decided you wanted it all to yourself.

DUNNE
All what? All he had was a damn clock.

CASTLE
Not just any clock. A Thomas Tillage worth $30 thousand dollars.

DUNNE
That crap is worth $30 grand?

CASTLE
You didn’t know that?

DUNNE
No, I … And I didn’t kill him.

BECKETT
C’mon, Dave. You just admitted to being there.

DUNNE sighs.

DUNNE
All right, I was there. (he sits) Ed said he’d pay me $2 grand to fly the chopper to that building, wait while he loaded something on, then take off. And it wasn’t no clock. He wanted to know how much extra weight the chopper could handle.

BECKETT
What was he planning on taking?

DUNNE
For $2 grand I didn’t ask. I just flew the helipad and waited. Then all of a sudden here comes Edmund, running out onto the roof yelling ‘go, go!’. Next thing I know we’re taking fire.

BECKETT
Someone was shooting at you?

DUNNE
Hell yeah. They nailed Edmund just as he boarded the chopper.

CASTLE
Did you see who it was?

DUNNE
No, it was dark. I just cowboy’ed the hell out of there. (DUNNE sighs) But poor Ed, I kept yelling to him to ‘close the damn door!’, but when I turned back he was already dead. Chopper banked hard. Before I knew it he was gone.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE
Well if Dave was telling the truth the shooter was in that building.

BECKETT
Not just in the building. The only access to the helipad is through Case Commerce, which means our killer was at the party.

CASTLE
Okay, but what was Edmund doing? What was he planning on stealing that weighed so much and why would he take that stupid clock? It makes no sense.

ESPOSITO
It makes even less sense now.

RYAN
We were running though elevator security footage and we found one person who went up to the party who wasn’t on the guest list.

RYAN hands her a photo.

BECKETT
The neighbor kid? Tim Cabot?

CASTLE
And look what he’s holding.

BECKETT
A motorcycle helmet. So he was the one that followed Edmund on the motorcycle that night.

ESPOSITO
Kid’s got a record, too. B and E, assault, possession.

BECKETT
Yeah, but what the hell was he doing there?

GATES
I think I may have an answer. Remember that class action suit against Suncove Funding?

BECKETT
Yeah.

GATES
My contact at the SEC dug these up. (she hands BECKETT a stack of papers) Suncove’s original articles of incorporation showing the name of the account signatory. Look familiar?

BECKETT
James Edmund Smith. The victim.

CASTLE
Santa is the shark that built those people out of their homes?

GATES
He’s got more blood on his hands than that. Tim Cabot’s father died in a car crash. Fell asleep at the wheel working three jobs to pay his inflated mortgage courtesy of Edmund Smith. That was Christmas Eve five years ago.

RYAN
The Christmas that Edmund walked out on his life.

CASTLE
So … it was a tale of redemption. Edmund moves next door to the family whose lives he destroyed, dedicating his life to repairing theirs, never telling themwho he really is.

ESPOSITO
But what if Tim found out?

CASTLE
Then it’s a very different tale.

INT – THE CABOT’S APARTMENT

BECKETT knocks on the door and BETH answers.

BETH
Oh.

BECKETT
I’m sorry, Mrs. Cabot. But we need to speak to your son.

INT – THE CABOT’S APARTMENT

The younger kids decorate the tree as TIM and BETH sit with CASTLE and BECKETT.

CASTLE
Your mom doesn’t know, does she? But you do. You knew who he was and how he ruined your lives.

TIM hesitates, then nods.

TIM
Yeah. Yeah, I knew.

BETH
Tim, what –

TIM
It was Ed, Mom. He was Suncove, he was the one who bled us dry.

BETH
Ed? Our Ed?

BECKETT
You must have been pretty angry when you found out.

TIM
Hell yeah I was angry. When he told me I wanted to kill him. But I didn’t.

CASTLE
Wait. He told you?

TIM
Yeah. Last week. He asked for my forgiveness and said he wanted to make things right. The lawyer was going to drop the lawsuit but Ed said he couldn’t sit by any more. He knew where there was evidence that could win our case. But he needed my help.

BECKETT
What kind of help?

TIM hesitates and looks to his mom. BETH gestures for him to go on.

TIM
I’m good with locks, all right? He needed me to slip into the party with the wait staff and jimmy open the storage room door in the back.

BECKETT
And why didn’t you tell us this before?

TIM
Because I couldn’t get in trouble again. I need to be here for my mom.

BETH
What was in the storage room?

TIM
Files. (he shrugs) Boxes of them. Edmund said that they were the original, unaltered loan docs for Suncove. They were the evidence he needed to set things right.

BECKETT
(to CASTLE) One of his old partners must be at Case Commerce. He recognized Edmund and realized he was going after those files.

CASTLE
And that’s why he needed the helicopter. He couldn’t exactly cart them out the front door.

BECKETT
And with the cops all over the building it would have been risky for the killer to destroy them.

CASTLE
Which means they’re still there.

BECKETT
Along with our killer.

INT – CASE COMMERCE BUILDING

DENISE
I tried to stop them but they had a warrant.

CASE
What the hell is this all about?

BECKETT just stares him down. She’s not intimidated.

CASTLE
We were about to ask you the same thing.

He glances down and sees the Suncove Funding files.

INT – CASE COMMERCE BUILDING

They’ve moved into a conference room.

CASE
I’m telling you, I’ve never seen those files in my life.

BECKETT
So then what were they doing in your office storage space, Mr. Case?

CASE
I don’t have the slightest idea.

BECKETT
(laughs) Are we really going to play this game, where you deny things that you and I both know are true? Like you telling me didn’t know Edmund? (she sits on the desk) We ran a background check. You and Edmund were business associates. So why would you claim that you didn’t know him? Unless you were hiding something. Like your involvement with Suncove Funding? (he’s silent) Did the two of you talk about how much money you could make if you could just bend the rules? How easy it would be to forge documents to put people into mortgages they couldn’t afford? How you could make a quick buck by selling them off to investors.

CASE
There’s nothing in those files that can implicate me. And nothing to tie me to Suncove Funding or to that man’s death.

She expected that.

BECKETT
That clock that was stolen, where did it come from?

CASE
I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask my decorator.

BECKETT
Don’t bother. We already have documents that prove it belonged to the Cabots.

CASE
Who are the Cabots?

BECKETT
One of the families whose house you stole. They put that clock up as collateral against a loan and when they couldn’t make the payments Suncove Funding kept it. And that connects you to Suncove.

He sighs and she stands. She knows she’s got him.

BECKETT
When you saw Edmund that night you realized he was going after those files because he was going to blow the whistle on Suncove. You knew that Edmund could implicate him, so you killed him.

CASE
No. You’re wrong.

BECKETT
The US Attorney’s office would freeze your assets. They would seize all of your money. You were going to lose everything. Now, that is motive, that is opportunity, and that is enough for any jury to convict you.

CASE
(adamantly) I did not kill Edmund. (he sighs) But I know who did. She was here. She stopped by the party.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT INTERVIEW ROOM

GWENN
You must be kidding me. Why would I kill him?

BECKETT
Because he couldn’t live with himself any longer with what he had done. Which meant he was going to take away the one thing that he left you after the divorce. Your lifestyle. Paid for by Suncove profits.

CASTLE
He didn’t come to you to apologize that night, did he? He came to warn you, because he knew if he blew the whistle on Suncove you stood to lose everything.

GWENN
This is absurd.

BECKETT
You knew everything and you knew why. So you followed him to the rooftop and then you shot him.

GWENN
I was at the benefit.

BECKETT
We know you were at Case Commerce. We have a witness. You killed Edmund.

GWENN takes her time, then looks down as she sits. She sighs.

GWENN
When he left me he told me he never wanted to hurt me. That’s what people always say right before they hurt you. (sighs) Yes, he left me my lifestyle. Five years later he shows up on my doorstep telling me again how he doesn’t want to hurt me. You know what the worst part is? Just for a moment when he stood there that night I was happy to see him.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

CASTLE
Gotta admire the guy. Sacrificed everything to redeem himself. It’s too bad his past caught up with him.

They’re disassembling the murder board.

GATES
Still, those files are on their way to the US Attorney’s Office. Now the Cabots have a real shot at getting back what they lost.

BECKETT
Along with the 42 other families, all because of Edmund.

GATES’ phone chimes. She looks down and groans.

GATES
Speaking of people having their homes stolen.

BECKETT
Is that your mother-in-law again, Sir?

GATES
Detective, if you happen to receive a report of a homicide tonight at my address, do me a favor. Ignore it.

BECKETT
(chuckles) Yes, Sir.

CASTLE laughs too as GATES walks way on her phone.

BECKETT
Well Castle, looks like you might have been right. Maybe there is a Santa Claus after all.

CASTLE
Whether there’s a Santa Claus or not, that’s not why I love Christmas. (he grabs his jacket and heads for the elevator) When I was a kid, not matter how bad things got, my mother always managed to make Christmas Eve magical. Every year she would put on The Nutcracker Suite. And I thought, if she can do that in our tiny apartment when money was tight and we were alone, it gave me hope that things could get better. And I love that feeling, that sense of hope. It’s crazy, you know. On the shortest, darkest days of the year people of all faiths celebrate the light. (he smiles) Plus, who doesn’t love presents?

He glances up and realize that they’ve stopped under a hanging ball of mistletoe. BECKETT glances up, too, realizing. They share a moment, but the elevator dings and CASTLE hesitates.

CASTLE
Um …. Merry Christmas.

BECKETT
You too.

CASTLE gets on and gives her a tight smile as the doors shut. BECKETT watches him go, disappointed herself.

INT – TWELFTH PRECINCT BULLPEN

RYAN plays with his present from Jenny. He’s deep in thought.

ESPOSITO
Yo, what you still doing here? (he sits) Shouldn’t you be at home, stuffing your wife’s stocking?

RYAN is quiet.

RYAN
I don’t think I’m ready, Javi.

ESPOSITO
For what? Sex?

RYAN
No. For what sex leads to. We were putting up the tree the other day, and Jenny says to me, “just doesn’t feel like Christmas without kids”. She wants to try. But I come to work. I watch the news every day. It seems like the world’s falling apart. How am I supposed to bring a kid into that?

ESPOSITO
The world’s always falling apart, bro. Since the beginning of time. But having kids? Making a family? That’s what keeps it together. So go home. Make a baby. You’re ready.

RYAN nods along.

RYAN
Yeah. Thanks, bro. (he slaps him on the arm) Merry Christmas.

ESPOSITO
Yeah. Merry Christmas.

He forces a smile. He’s still alone, but maybe he can do something good.

INT – CASTLE’S LOFT

The place is like Christmas exploded. CASTLE’S loft is covered in decorations and lights. It’s pretty amazing.

CASTLE
Mother, the glögg is excellent.

MARTHA
Thank you.

CASTLE
And everything looks excellent. Just like always.

MARTHA and ALEXIS are there, but there’s something nagging at him. He’s not enjoying it like he should be. MARTHA notices and gives ALEXIS a look.

MARTHA
Oh, Richard. Richard, darling. (she grabs his band) You don’t have to look so miserable.

CASTLE
Oh –

ALEXIS
She’s right, Dad. We know how much this tradition means to you. So we both decided to cancel our plans. We’re here all night. Like always.

CASTLE
I love you both so much that you would do that for me. But I was wrong about tonight. There’s some place I need to be.

MARTHA smiles.

ALEXIS
Dad, I –

MARTHA
Go. (he smiles) Go, go, go.

CASTLE leaves the table. ALEXIS shoots a look at MARTHA, who just shushes her. CASTLE opens the door to head out, but he’s stopped by BECKETT on the other side.

CASTLE
I – (he’s confused) Uh, I was just coming to see you.

She smiles widely.

BECKETT
I was coming to see you.

CASTLE
What about your shift?

BECKETT
I got Karpowski to cover. What about your family tradition?

CASTLE
Um … (he looks at his jacket) I was just thinking it’s time for a new tradition.

She smiles.

BECKETT
Me too.

MARTHA
Oh for God's sakes, Richard. Invite the girl in.

CASTLE
Right. Would you - ?

BECKETT
Yeah.

He shuts the door behind her when she walks past him. They stop in front of the giant Christmas tree.

BECKETT
It’s beautiful.

They share a smile, and he kisses her gently. She returns it, and the stay forehead-to-forehead.

BECKETT
(whispered) Merry Christmas.

CASTLE smiles.

CASTLE
(whispered) I didn’t get you anything.

BECKETT pulls back slightly.

BECKETT
What?

CASTLE’S smile falls slightly. Her teasing doesn’t last long though, and she rests her forehead on his again. They stay embraced in front of the tree.

INT – THE CABOT’S APARTMENT

ESPOSITO knocks on the door and BETH answers.

ESPOSITO
Ms. Cabot? (she nods) I’m Detective Esposito. I have something that I think belongs to you.

He pulls the bag off the clock and she gasps.

ESPOSITO
We found out that your husband put that up for collateral against the mortgage on your house.

BETH
I haven’t seen this for so long. It was handed down through his family for generations.

ESPOSITO
I think that’s why Edmund took it. He wanted to you to have it back.

BETH looks from ESPOSITO back to the clock.

BETH
Thank you.

ESPOSITO smiles and turns to leave.

BETH
Wait. Why don’t you come inside? We’re just having dinner.

ESPOSITO pauses for a moment.

ESPOSITO
Okay.

He smiles. BETH shuts the door, the bells on the wreath on the door jingling.

THE END

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