Dare to Seize the Fire

What the hand dare seize the fire?

-'The Tyger', William Blake

"I checked."

Kate blinks and opens her door wider, letting Castle inside. "You checked?"

He shuts the door behind him, locks it. When he turns, a quirk of a smile is on his face. "We're safe. All the tigers are in their cages."

She laughs at him, shaking her head, but her laugh is arrested when he pulls a key out of his pocket and takes her by the wrist. His left hand to hers. The key is warm; he curls her fingers around it.

"What-" She has to lick her lips and swallow hard to get the words out. "What is this?"

"An extra key to your cuffs."

Her breath rushes out, a stunned expulsion that makes her dizzy. "How do. . .why do you have-?"

"For next time, Kate."

As she stares at the little silver key, she expects him to turn and walk away, leave on a high note, make that dramatic exit. He's confronted her with her last words, and now, he'll leave her to her thoughts, and his key.

But he doesn't.

Instead he steps in closer, his hand still at her wrist, and brings his mouth close to hers, entirely too close, (he's done this to her before, a hallway in an apartment and the promise not to call him kitten), and then his lips are at her ear.

"Can this be the next time?"

Whatever it is in her that balks at this, it's not there now. Maybe the tiger scared it away; maybe the tiger chased it down and killed it.

She opens her hand and looks at the key, then shakes lose his fingers from her wrist. Even though his words were defiant, the confidence is now trembling in his eyes, unsteady. Kate takes the key between two fingers and steps closer to him, sliding her hand into his front jeans pocket and leaving the key in its depths.

"You keep it," she says. "This isn't the time for handcuffs."

His breath rattles in his chest; she feels the tremor run through him, disappointment and relief both. But she's not done.

"No handcuffs tonight, Castle." She opens her mouth and presses it against his adam's apple, feels him choke.

His fingers come up to her elbows, barely touching, but it's enough to push her back a little, his body shaking, his eyes closed. She watches him get it together.

"D-don't, Kate," he murmurs finally. His eyes open. "I. . .want you. So much. Don't tease."

Heat flashes through her body, a flash of need mixed with a grief that burns, sets her on fire, and she steps into him, wraps her arms around his waist, her head to his shoulder, her breathing erratic. His whole body is tense, hard as a rock under her cheek, barely contained. Holding back. For her sake.

"It's not a tease," she says finally, able to discover words in the rush of blood, the burn of guilt. "I'm not. . ."

Kate trails off, unable to move any further, her courage and that first shove of wanting now deserting her.

Castle's fingers on her elbows grow warmer, slide up the backs of her arms, skim her shoulders, cradle her head. What was hungry and dark is now light and resigned, a determination to do right by her.

She doesn't want that. She lifts up on her toes and darts in for his mouth, instant moist heat blooming along her body from the contact. His hands contract around her face, as if to hold her close, but she has no intention of moving away now. Not now that she's here.

He tugs her back, breathes hotly against her skin, presses a dismissive kiss to her forehead. "Kate."

"Don't," she murmurs. "Don't stop me."

His mouth is back at hers, not hungry but gentle, no longer needful but giving. She doesn't want that. She wants the whirlwind.

"That wall," he says, his voice dark with something that sounds like anger but feels like frustration. "What about that? I don't want to wake up with you tomorrow and find myself still on the outside."

And there's no answer for that. She doesn't know. Will it be different with him than it was with any of the others? It ought to be, she wants it to be, but she thought she wanted it then too. "I hate it. I want it gone."

"But it's not."

She growls and jerks back, pacing away from him, shoving a hand through her hair and caught up in the sinking sand of not having her damn life together. Not even now, when she wants so badly-

His finger around her elbow jerks her to a stop; she swings back around on her momentum, sees his face. Oh God. She hurt him. She gave him hope and then she took it away. She is crushing him.

Kate blinks and looks away, her chest too tight, her body angry with her for not being able to just do this.

She just wants to do it and get it over with and maybe she can stop feeling like she's stuck, going nowhere, like she might lose him while she runs in circles.

"Kate. We'll knock that wall down. And when we do? I'm not opposed to finding a tiger on the other side."

Her breath knocks out of her in a rush of laughter; Kate presses a hand to her forehead and comes back to him, crashing into his chest. Castle hugs her back, tightly, a clamp of his arms that seems to press it all back into her, keeps it from escaping.

She tries to breathe, finds that it's easier than she expected. She hasn't ruined anything; it's still there. Present between them, like a little, friendly ghost. Waiting for flesh.

"Can I touch you?" he says suddenly, and she feels his mouth at her hair, the hesitation in his fingertips as they rest against her back.

"Oh. Yes," she sighs back, blinking hard to keep from saying please. His hands skate down her back lightly, settle on her waist; his thumbs make circles around her hipbones, skitter up her ribs and back down.

She realizes she's nearly leaning against him, her forehead to his chest, her hands at his waist for support. There's only the barest space between them, and he uses that room to slide his fingers to the hem of her shirt and brush under it, skin to skin. The back of his knuckles trailing up her abs.

Kate pants and opens her eyes, can see his hands running between them, moving up, caressing the skin under her breasts, and then down her sides. A continuous loop, a lengthening circle of too-light, feathering fingers, electric and crackling.

"Can I kiss you again?" he murmurs into her ear, already kissing her, his mouth pressed to her skin.


His tongue darts out to her jaw, his teeth at the line of her bone, his lips sealing the spot. He works down her neck while his hands drift up, teasing and light, her focus split between mouth and fingers, unable to settle on one, constantly startled by what the other is doing to her.

He mumbles something into her skin and she shudders, clutches tighter to his shoulders, wonders if she's been given permission to touch him back. She wants. . .just wants.

His mouth sucks hard on the skin at her sternum, just shy of her breast, and her eyes snap shut. Kate lifts her head from his chest to gasp and arch closer, unwittingly, and his mouth ascends to hers, warm and insistent.

The push of his tongue at her lips has her parting for him, accepting the slide of his mouth, the wet heat of him. She crowds closer, finds the clutch of his hands at her back again, broad where ribs flow into her spine, his thumbs hooked under her shoulder blades, holding her to him even as her body sways back. Too much.

"Let me," he words against her lips, a rough demand, and she nods and raises her arms to his neck, cradles his head to feast ever more intently on his mouth. He shifts a hip forward, invitation.

Her legs slide to either side of his thigh; he nudges at her and she can't help rocking her hips. She swallows his grunt of approval, drinks the breathlessness in his calling out.



He breaks from her to lean down between them and plant his wet mouth against her shirt, at her breast, tongue (she shivers and arches) and then teeth ("Castle!"), dragging his lips back up to the skin at her collarbone, a bite, and on again towards her ear, mouth murmuring things she doesn't understand yet.

She might be keening, that might be her. Noises in the back of her throat, pitched and needy.

His hands pull her tighter against his thigh, drag her up, hands firm, squeezing, before skimming up her back and around her sides again. She sinks back down to her toes, the slow friction along his thigh causing her body to shiver around him.

So close. So close and all her clothes are on.

He presses his thumb, his knuckles, hard under her belly button; her body rocks into him.

"Castle," she gasps.

He catches her, hands at her back, presses her to him, chest to chest, stills her until the shuddering stops. She takes in ragged breaths, no coherence, everything swirling up like a dust cloud, blinding her. To come so close, and still be so far.

"That knock loose a few bricks?"

His voice is raw; otherwise she'd think he wasn't at all affected. His hands are firm, his body tense and strong against her, hot but held in check. She presses her cheek to his neck, turns her lips towards him and kisses him again, lightly, just the tip of her tongue touching the smooth skin, letting out a little puff of air over the spot.

At that, his fingers curl around her elbows tightly, a sign.

"A few bricks loose," she agrees.

And hopes it's true.

He leans his head down and she can feel his smile against her cheek. "I thought so. I'm pretty sure I just saw the tiger."

She laughs shakily but can't step back yet. Not sure her knees will lock or her legs support her weight. She curls her hands around his biceps, closes her eyes to focus on breathing, on finding her center again.

But he won't let her. His fingers dance over her back, up and down, touching each ridge of her vertebrae, while his other hand is firmly at her waist, keeping her close, keeping her still.

"Can I kiss you good-bye?" he says then.

She sighs. "I don't want good-bye. Say good-night instead."

"I can do that." His voice would be soft if it weren't for the layer of sex rippling through it.

And then his lips touch hers, how good, and his mouth opens over hers and seals them together, inviting her into the night, the very good night.

When her palm comes to his neck to hold on, it's like the spell is broken; his mouth releases hers in a shift of magic, warmth cascading down.

He leans in and brushes his cheek to hers, his lips at her ear. "I know you remember. Somewhere in there, you remember me and the words I gave you then."

He's leaving before she can say anything back, flipping the lock and opening the door.


Bt the door is closing after him.

He's left the afterimage of his mouth, his hands, all over her body. And she is still burning.