Notes: Spoilers through Cuffed. Thanks to Cora Clavia for her regular beatings with her utterly terrifying Spatula of Love and to Jill for the encouragement/continuous prodding in bold, capital letters.

Next time, as it turns out, is three weeks and one complete lunatic of a suspect later.

"So," Castle says, leaning back against the radiator, "Do you think this is going to start being a regular thing?"

She reaches up with her free hand and rubs the swollen knot at her temple. "When I said next time we should do it without the tiger, this isn't really what I had in mind."

"I wish you would let me check that," he says for the fifteenth or sixteenth time.

"It's fine," she replies, looking hugely surly.

"You're just sulking 'cause he got the jump on you." She glowers, and he's suddenly hyperaware of his complete inability to escape her. "But nobody would have expected it," he adds, helpfully. It's not the kind of thing one would expect, dropping by a bondage shop for a routine timeline check with the victim's employer and having said employer smash out of a hidden side door, ram the butt of his gun into Beckett's temple, and hold the muzzle between her dazed eyes as he walked them up the stairs and into the corner supply room. Castle's stomach roils just thinking about it, the hard snap of metal against her skull, the unwavering connection between the gun's barrel and her forehead. His hands were almost shaking too badly to clip the cuff around Beckett's wrist, and he wasn't about to try heroics when Lewis told him to loop the chain through the top of the radiator and hold his own wrist out for cuffing, not with that gun pressed against Beckett's forehead and her eyes looking so dazed, three steps out of reality.

Beckett will kill him if he vomits.

She pulls crankily against the cuffs. "Hey," he protests, then twists up to inspect the lock again. It's an awkward maneuver - they're facing forward, his left wrist to her right wrist, hands above their heads because the chain's threaded through the top of the radiator.

"I told you," she huffs, "they're the good ones. You're not getting out of them with that paperclip you swear is somewhere in your back pocket."

He's already used up his leering on her apparently extensive knowledge of bondage paraphernalia, so he settles for feeling unjustly wronged. "If they're such great cuffs then why do they hurt? Shouldn't they be fuzzy or silky or nice against my skin?"

Beckett shrugs, nonchalant. "Some people like it rougher." He gapes. "Some people, Castle. Calm down."

He sighs. "How long, you think?"

She shrugs, a little tensely. "I texted Espo before we came in."

He doesn't like the flash of defiance in her eyes. "But?"

"He's in court all day."

Castle sighs. With Ryan off for the day, it could be Gates who notices they're missing before anyone else.

Beckett glares. "I was going to put in a call to Gaines before we went and checked on the actual suspects."

Nothing for it now, at any rate. At least, Castle thinks, somewhat satisfied, she's incredibly hot when she's angry, and the way they're cuffed together means her fingers keep brushing against his. "Gates going to be pissed."

She glares at him and twists toward the radiator at that, rocking up to her knees to look at the cuffs more closely. As she straightens, she lets out a sharp breath and reaches up with her free hand, brushing her hand along the side of her head.

"Oh, really," he says as he clambers to his knees and shuffles over to her, carefully drawing her hair away from her cheek, sweeping his fingers lightly over her swollen temple.

She sucks in air, sinks down onto her shins. "It's just a bump," she says grumpily, but there's an undercurrent of pain threading through her voice that belies that.

"I wish you wouldn't," he murmurs, tilting closer. There's a small smear of blood on her skin at the center of the ever-swelling knot.

"Wouldn't what," she hisses.

"Pretend things are nothing when they're hurting you," he says. That was probably a little too direct, given the increased strength of the death rays emanating from her eyes. He finishes his inspection and shifts gears as quickly as possible. "Well. I guess it's not life-threatening. I wish we had ice."

"Gee, thanks, Nurse Castle," she growls.

"On my god, do you fantasize about that? Should I buy some scrubs?"

"You get us out of this, I'll let you play doctor," she retorts, slumping further onto her shins. He can't quite get to an immediate response; he just flails towards innuendo and then towards some kind of far-fetched escape plan and he can't quite get ahold of either. Beckett glances gloomily across the room at their phones, which Lewis dumped next to the door on his way out, then stares at the pipes running from the radiator through the floor.

"I don't think that's gonna work." He winces at the image of her trying to pull the pipes out of the cement. "I like my shoulders located firmly in their sockets."

He shifts back into a more comfortable sitting position, leaning against the metal ridges of the radiator. Jonathan Lewis jetted out of there in a hurry with a full duffle bag, and while it irks him endlessly to think about the guy escaping, he probably isn't coming back anytime soon to finish them off. Eventually Esposito (God willing without Gates) will figure it out and come rescue them. Clearly, Beckett's feeling a little less accepting of their inevitable embarrassment, judging by her frustrated growl and the way she suddenly shoves herself up off the floor.

He can see the cuffs pulling her arm at an awkward angle; she sways a little, teetering back on her heels. He gallantly scoots closer to prevent a fall, but his wrist tugs hard right as he moves, which is enough to topple her directly onto his lap.

"Ow, hey," he yelps as the heel of her hand slams into his thigh.

"Well, did you have to pull like that?" she huffs. She's all sharp elbows and knees as she struggles to right herself in a way that's suddenly a little too appealing. Her arm is across her body in a position that's making it difficult for her to get any leverage, and the soft curve of her hip is pressing into his lap and her chest pushes against his bicep and this is absolutely no good. "Beckett," he says, barely a whisper, as she continues squirming. "Beckett," he breathes, a little louder.

"What, Castle," she snaps, craning her neck at a hugely awkward angle to glare up at him. Her lips are far too close to his. Her mouth is slightly parted; her breath is coming a little quickly. This is really, absolutely no good. She won't stop shifting, trying to adjust herself to get him o – to get off of him.

"Stop. Just stop for a second," he gets out.

He sees her jaw jut, sees her getting ready to snap something acerbic about wanting to get out of this situation as quickly as possible, but she must see it in his eyes because understanding suddenly ripples across her face. "Sorry," she murmurs.

He closes his eyes, tries to mentally separate himself from the warm length of her body against him, from her sudden, quiet stillness. Her breath rushes soft and warm over his mouth; her face must still be tilted up at his. He feels the soft shiver of her fingertips over his cheekbone, a tiny puff of air over his lips, the lightest brush of dry lips over his, so light that it might almost just be his imagination. He can't stop it, though, the way his mouth parts at the feather-light pressure of hers, the slick of his lips over hers, the unavoidable press of his tongue into her mouth. What he doesn't expect is the way her body softens and then arches under his, the breathy rumble that echoes in her throat, the slide of her tongue back against his. His upper body surges into hers, pushing her back against the radiator. She draws in a sharp breath, pulling the air from his mouth, as her back hits the sharp lines of metal.

"Christ, Beckett, I'm sorry," he moans, drawing away, resting his forehead against hers. She's still curled awkwardly on his thighs, pressed between his torso and the radiator, and he really needs to get ahold of himself, he needs to move back and give the poor woman some room.

"No, no, it's okay," she breathes, though she shifts carefully to the floor beside him. His arm is awkwardly strained, but he won't move, now, not when her right leg is flush against his, not when his face is still so dangerously near hers. "My fault." She glances down.

He needs to bring this back into a realm where he has some kind of control, immediately. "What, the part when you threw yourself into my lap, or the part when you started kissing me?"

She shifts, and he barely has time to register her free hand coming towards him before there's a sharp pain in his shoulder. "Shut up," she says.

"There's no need for physical violence," he says, trying to look as aghast as possible. He's not sure he gets his expression anywhere past deeply aroused.

Beckett's eyes flick over his face. Her pupils are still dilated. Her mouth is maybe eight inches from his. He needs to get up and step away, walk into another room, find an ice-cold shower somewhere. "Well, there's no need for you to be a child," she responds, but her voice is still a little husky and Jesus Christ, it wasn't really so bad being chained together before his tongue was in her mouth, but now all he can think of is getting that to happen again as quickly as humanly possible.

"I –" he starts, but his natural inclination toward witty repartee has suddenly run dry and all he can do is swallow convulsively and try not to slam her against the radiator. Again.

Beckett glances over his face, then takes pity on him. "Wanna try the paperclip?"

"I thought you said that wouldn't work."

"Desperate times." He wants to ask whether they're more desperate because she's realized how long it might take for someone to run across them and she's scared of Gates' reaction, or a nerve in her shoulder is starting to pinch and there's a tingly shooting feeling jetting up her bicep through the tips of her fingers (he would understand completely), or whether she's about to give in to the part of herself that's keeping her pupils dilated and her chest heaving, the part he's pretty sure wants to launch toward him and attack his mouth, which, by the way, is the part he's rooting for. He decides, very practically, he thinks, to keep his mouth shut.

"I think it's in my back left pocket."

"Because back right would be too easy?"

"I checked that one," he explains. Obviously.

"Why are you so sure there's a paperclip in one of your back pockets?" She seems skeptical, again, like maybe getting them cuffed here and storing a potential escape mechanism in the only pocket he couldn't possibly twist to reach was some kind nefarious plot of his to trick her into groping his ass.

"Remember in Gathering Storm, when Derrick Storm killed that Russian mobster with nothing but a miniscule, pointy piece of metal?"

She blinks. "Honestly."

"You never know when you might need to put a paperclip through someone's eye."

"Really, Castle." She looks like she's about to pull out her best Interrogation Stare. The ever-growing bump on her temple only makes her more fear inducing.

"Fine, bookmarks. I use them as bookmarks."

It's not possible, but she looks even more skeptical. "I've seen you dog-ear like a pro."

"Police reports, Beckett. Good God, I would never do that to an actual book. Do you think I'm some kind of monster?"

"How often do you randomly need a bookmark, anyway?"

"Look, I'm happy to outline the various benefits of stowing an emergency bookmark paperclip in one's pocket, but by the time I'm done, Gates will be glaring at us from that doorway."

"You're going to enjoy this way too much," she says, glaring as she reaches around his back with her left hand.

He's about to snark something meaningless about honor and dignity and the necessity of concentration in escape attempts, but then her hand brushes along the back of the waist of his jeans and his brain only has the power to be completely honest. "I am. I really am."

Her eyes narrow, almost like she's considering hitting him again, but with where her hand is he knows that she knows that he'd definitely like that far too much. And then she's practically in his lap again, her mouth an inch from his throat, and his whole body tenses before his brain can relay the message. Right. Paperclip. "Christ, Castle, a little help?"

He can feel the slightest vibration from her words in the hollow of his throat. He revels in that for a moment before she releases a frustrated huff of air and he realizes he's sitting on the bottom of his pocket and her fingers are now sliding down his ass, trying to reach the fabled paperclip. "Sorry, sorry," he murmurs, shifting forward.

Of course, this presses his throat onto her mouth, and she sucks in a surprised breath of air before her teeth scrape lightly along his jugular. There's this odd, low, untraceable groan that echoes through the room, and it takes him a moment to realize it's him.

Her teeth were barely on him, he reminds himself. It could have just been an accident. It was probably an accident.

"Shit, sorry," she whispers against his throat.

"Can you reach?" he asks, his voice pathetic and high-pitched.

"No, just – let me –" and then she's pulling back – why? – and rolling up onto her knees and pushing forward and straddling – straddling – his thighs, and oh, oh God, her chest is practically in his face and and then she's sinking down onto his lap and it is completely impossible that any of this is happening right now; he must have been the one who got banged in the head by the butt of a gun and he must have passed out and he must be having the best, most elaborate fantasy of his entire life. "There, now just lean forward a little and I can get it," she says, like she straddles him every day.

My pleasure, or, anything to please the lady, he pictures himself saying in a deep, suave, sexy voice. "Okay," he manages to squeak.

She's lower now, so that when he shifts forward their noses are almost touching. Her fingers, slim and nimble and ever twisting, shift down in his pocket, searching – searching for something, he's sure, he just can't imagine exactly what right now. "Almost have it," she breathes. He thinks her exhale might just be sharp out of concentration, out of the somewhat odd position she's torqued herself into, but no, no, her eyes have this layered desire in them that's utterly unmistakable.

"Don't hurry on my account. I can stay like this for hours." It's a lie. He'll melt into a quivering, lustful puddle before ten minutes is up.

"Just shut up," she murmurs, sinking further down, so that her mouth is against his jugular again and her inner thighs are flush against his and her arm is pressed hard and firm into his side and back.

She huffs a frustrated breath against his throat. Her leg muscles quiver. He is never going to be able to look at or think about a pair of handcuffs again without getting hard.

"Got it!" she finally exclaims, and the pressure on his back away, and then she's starting to tilt away, and he can tell she's about to hold the paperclip triumphantly aloft and his cuffed shoulder is killing him but for some reason the last thing in the world he cares about is that stupid little scrap of metal.

Her mouth is maybe six inches away and the distance is growing and it seems like she's getting ready to twist herself off his lap when he decides he really can't take the squandered opportunity, not when he's reasonably certain that she was the one who kissed him first several minutes ago, not when her eyes are dilated and her breath is quick and she is straddling his lap. He tilts at her clumsily and his mouth meets hers and throws her off balance; her fist, still clenched around that paper clip, slams into his quad to catch herself, but it's not nearly enough to make him stop, not when she's kissing him back with a kind of feral hunger that's turning his insides to molten lava. He snakes his right hand under the hem of her shirt, skirts over the soft skin of her lower back, whorls patterns over her vertebrae, and he can't keep his other hand from pulling on the cuffs, continually testing, desperate to get more of her skin. She bites his lower lip and his hips jerk up involuntarily into her; she presses back down against him, leaning over him, and he can taste the smile on her lips.

When she jerks back her cheeks are flushed and her lips are swollen and her eyes are sparkling with a combination of lust and dangerousness. "We need to stop," she says, somehow sounding simultaneously utterly serious and thoroughly aroused.

"Why?" he can't help but ask. It's not fair, how he's coming off sounding like a whiny toddler, but suddenly it's imperative that she answer this question, and just as suddenly, it's even more imperative that she understands his why. "I know you still have things you're working through, and I understand that, I respect that, but isn't part of life working through them with someone? Don't you want it, that sense of possibility and discovery you can get from breaking down walls and opening doors together? Why do we always need to stop?" He takes a deep breath. He feels dizzy, drugged from their kisses, as startled as she probably is by his sudden verbal vomit.

She stares at him like he's stupid. "Because we're stuck here, and God forbid any member of New York's finest walks in and catches us dry humping against the radiator like a couple of horny teenagers."

"Oh," he manages. He wants to formulate a more coherent response, but his brain is and will forever be stuttering over the words dry humping, spoken by Beckett.

She smiles at him, at once patronizing and fond, and holds up the paperclip. "Sadly, I've never had cause to try and open a pair of handcuffs with a paperclip, but I'm happy to give it a shot." She shifts back, sitting on the floor. His lap feels cold and alone without her straddling it.

"No, no, this will be my greatest triumph," he says, snatching the paperclip from between her fingers.

"I'm actually kind of surprised you never studied the art of extricating yourself from a pair handcuffs with a master escapist."

"I met Norman Jessup for a drink near the Lower East Side once, and he tried to teach me."

She squints. "Jessup. Our locksmith-wannabe from the Jack Buckley murder?"

He works to pry the paperclip open with one hand, pressing the metal loop against his thigh and pulling with thumb and index finger. "That's the one. Apparently, I got no flow."

"Flow." She tilts her head. He tells himself it's a bad idea to lean forward and kiss her again.

"Yeah, I don't know either, but evidently it helps you get yourself out of a pair of handcuffs."

"You should work on getting some flow, then."

He huffs, trying to twist the clip. "Everyone's a critic. Here, help me pry this thing open."

He grabs the top arc of the paperclip and holds it out to her. She sighs, shakes her head, reaches out. Her fingers fumble against his, her knuckle into his index finger, and even that slight contact sends a shiver reverberating through his body. "Can you just hold still, please?" she growls right before she finally hooks her thumb around the inner loop and pulls it toward her, twisting her metal edge around so that her end is relatively in line with his. "Well. That's something." She releases the paperclip, slanting back against the radiator. He feels himself start to shift forward, leaning after her, before he can get a grip on himself.

He knows, if he's going to get these cuffs off, he needs to focus, he needs to tune her out for at least a few minutes. He'd managed to do it weeks ago with the padlock, but it's harder with the phantom feel of her thighs wrapped around his, of her teeth scraping over his throat, of her tongue pressing into his mouth.

He's nothing if not determined, though, so he clutches the clip tightly and shifts to face the cuffs. He slides the two ends into the keyhole, then fumbles, gently pulling on the left end, trying to get everything lined up as exactly as possible. Pausing for an instant, he feels the shape of the lock though the paperclip, twisting the metal ever so slightly to understand the contours. Every molecule of his being is vibrating, attuned, and he knows he'll get it, he can almost see the interlocking tumblers falling apart, waiting to click and rotate open for him. He twists, applying more pressure, slowly adding torque to the clip –

A soft snap reverberates through the room as the paperclip snaps in two. He scrunches his nose. "I really thought I had that one."

Beckett whacks him on the bicep, a little too hard to be just teasing. "I thought you had a better strategy than playing Let's Break Our Only Paperclip in Two Seconds."

He rotates his shoulder, wincing. "I thought I was very clear about my lack of innate handcuff-opening abilities."

Her brow furrows, and she catches her lip between her teeth. "You're right." This catches him off guard – how often does he hear that from her? He doesn't like how swollen the lump on her temple is. It's got to be hurting her, even though she's been doing a hell of a job playing it off ever since he looked it over. He wonders if she's concussed, if there's some kind of brain damage that's making her predisposed to admit that he's right and to straddle him and stick her tongue in his mouth.

"How's your head?" he asks, going for breezy and unconcerned.

"I don't have brain damage, if that's what you mean," she says. He must look skeptical, because she sighs and adds, "Just a headache."

This, more than anything, makes him want to get them out of there. He glances around the room, towards their phones, lying uselessly twelve feet away, towards the door, shut across the room, towards the small, grimy window, up and left of the radiator. That might not be a bad call. "I bet I can get up and pry that window open, maybe shout for help."

She bobs her head, looking maybe fifteen percent convinced. This is at least three times as convinced as she usually looks when he comes up with a new idea, which only makes him more concerned about her almost-certain brain damage. "I'll try to resist dragging you into my lap," she says dryly.

"See that you do. I feel like that would be an assault against my manliness," he says as he carefully gets his knees under him and pulls himself slowly to his feet. The window's a good two feet right of the radiator; with the way he's cuffed, his only option is to twist himself so his back is to the wall and feel his way over to it with his right hand. "I really have a new appreciation for how inconvenient handcuffs can be," he says crankily, contorting his body forward to get a good angle once his fingers find the edge of the glass.

When he glances back at her, she's looking at him with bemusement. "Don't sprain your arm," she says.

"We might – need – that later," he grunts, putting all the force against the window that he can in this awkward position. It jolts up about a centimeter, but it's soon apparent that it's not going any further. He's simultaneously glad and disappointed that he's concentrating too much to turn and see Beckett's disapproving glare. "Can you give me any more slack?" he asks.

"Yeah, Castle, I've been holding out on you. I don't actually want to get out of here at all."

"Okay, okay, no need to be rude." He pushes again at the window, but it's lodged with just that slight gap between the sill and the pane. "I'll try to call for help," he says. They're just on the second floor, and the street outside is a little busy. Someone will probably hear. "Hey! HEY! Can anyone hear me! We need help! Hey!"

He's pretty proud of his lungpower, but after a couple minutes of fervent yelling, he needs a break. He sidles back over to the radiator and slides down next to Beckett, who's been watching him in bemusement the whole time. "I'm sure the cavalry will be here soon," he says.

"Yeah. Some disembodied voice screaming for help out a grimy window on the second story of a walkup. We're going to have to fight off streams of helpful New Yorkers."

"You know, you're mean when you're handcuffed. At least I'm trying."

She sighs, looking almost guilty. Her fingers brush over his wrist, right along the tendon that was starting to feel sore from pulling at the jammed window, and a line of heat spindles up his arm and all is instantly forgiven. "You didn't have anything on you besides that one paperclip?" she asks.

"Actually," he says, his fingers fumbling into his back right pocket and emerging triumphantly with a pen and pad of sticky notes, "I was inspired on my way out the apartment this morning… Oh! And –" he fumbles again; it's harder, this time, reaching to the bottom of his pocket, and he almost asks for help before he decides he's probably run out of luck with the reach into my pocket request. He pulls out two loose Advils. "These, I meant to take these but then my headache went away."

His throat feels tight at the look of relief on her face. "Oh, yes," she murmurs, snatching them out of his hand and tossing them into her mouth and swallowing them dry before he can do more than twitch.

"I should have remembered earlier," he says, guilt hollowing a small cave in the pit of his stomach.

"Don't – you're fine," she says, firmly, brushing her fingers up his arm. "And – look," she continues, holding out the pen and paper that he'd dropped on the ground between them. "People might not listen to shouting, but if we write –"

"We could do a short note," he says, catching on, excitement sparking.

"A bunch of notes –"

"Put Espo's phone number on them –"

"No, do Ryan, it'll take Espo forever if he's still in court –"

"I got this!" he says triumphantly. She cranes over to watch him write in the murky light: Emergency. Call 212.347.5867. Tell Ryan – 48 Canal Street. Agent Manatee has been struck by a speedboat.

"I'm sorry – Agent What has what?"

"It's my secret code with Ryan and Esposito. For if one of us is in trouble." He doesn't see what's so weird about this.

"Isn't the point of secret codes that they're not obvious?"

"What are you saying about Agent Manatee?"

She stares at him for a beat. "You don't have a code with me," she says, narrowing her eyes skeptically.

"I tried. You told me that if I was in trouble, my code with you could be, 'Beckett, please come and save my sorry ass.'"

"I don't remember this."

"It was a long time ago." He tilts his head. "I hope Ryan remembers Agent Manatee." He shrugs, folding the paper into a neat rectangle before starting the next note.

Fifteen minutes later, his hand is cramping, the pile of folded stickies has grown extensively, and the note has been shortened to: Call 212.347.5867. Tell Ryan – Agent Manatee. 48 Canal Street.

"Okay, that should be enough," she says, finally taking pity on him.

"Thank God. I think I'm crippled," he says. "If I can no longer write due to a debilitating case of carpal tunnel, you'll have to support me."

"Throw the notes out the window, Castle," she growls.

He grabs the pile of folded stickies in his fist, stands carefully, and edges over to the window, which luckily has remained wedged open the slightest bit. It's more of a game of feeling it out, though, and he's moving cautiously, since he's still facing forward and if he dumps the notes all over the floor he'll have a hell of a time picking them up. He manages, somehow, to get the entire pile wedged in the empty space between the window and the sill, but then he pauses, for an instant, feeling strangely nervous, like he's on the brink of something he won't be able to undo.

He feels Beckett shifting via the movement of his cuff, and he braces himself for her to snap at him to get on with it, but when she speaks, her voice is surprisingly gentle. "Go ahead," she murmurs. "It'll all work out."

A feeling of acceptance fizzles through him, and, fumbling, he pushes the notes out the window. He can't see them fall, but he pictures the dozens and dozens of yellow scraps of paper fluttering up and around on eddies of wind before floating down to the cement, every one a wish, a moment in potential, waiting to be realized.

When he slides down next to her again, sitting so that his hip is bumping slightly up against hers, she shifts. He thinks she's moving away for an instant, but then her leg is pressed flush against his. He fingers twitch. He reminds himself that he is an adult, an adult who can, in fact, keep his hands to himself. "What do we do now?" he asks.

"We wait. Someone out there won't be able to resist the mystery."

"You don't think everyone'll assume it's a scam?"

"Most people probably will. But it's handwritten, and it's a little bit weird, so hopefully there's enough intrigue."

"I'd call it," he says. He'd need to know the story, at least as much of the story as he'd be able to parcel out.

She shifts, turning towards him, so that her knees are folded onto his thigh. "I know you would," she says, smiling fondly.

Her hair is falling over her temple, so he tilts forward, brushes it back. Just to check and make sure it's not any more swollen. Just to be a good partner. And when his fingers keep threading through her hair, gently working over her scalp, well, maybe his hand slipped. But instead of smacking him away, her eyes drift half shut, and she lets out this quiet little half-sigh that he wouldn't mind eliciting from her every day for the rest of her life. Helping your headache? he wants to ask, but he's afraid that if he calls attention to the action she'll pull away, make him stop, and he won't risk that, not when she's leaning into his hand as is fingers massage their way around her scalp. Her eyes slide all the way shut, and he can't help himself, doesn't even want to help himself; he leans forward, careful not to disturb her knees, still resting on his thigh, and brushes his lips just above the swollen knot on her temple, pulls back slightly to watch her face, his fingers never pausing on their trek around her skull.

She doesn't jerk back, like he thinks she might, but her eyes flutter open, her pupils dilated, her irises clouded with a kind of quiet want that makes his heart stumble erratically against his sternum. She's the one who leans into him, her lips moving gently over his, the fingers of her cuffed hand threading through his, her free hand working its way under his shirt and smoothing up his abdomen, the slope of his chest, her teeth scraping over his lip, her tongue pressing languidly into his mouth.

He stays frozen for an instant before warmth fizzles through his body, and then he's responding without thinking, his tongue reaching out to hers, his hand finally leaving her hair and trailing down, over her throat, her collarbone, the soft swell of her breast, the smooth plane of her stomach. "Jesus, Beckett," he says, when she finally pulls away.

"Would you like to lodge a complaint?" she asks, her voice low and rough and throaty.

"No, no. A petition for continuance, maybe."

She quirks a smile at him. "You want to postpone?"

He sighs, runs his hand through her hair. "I really can't form coherent arguments after you've just kissed me senseless, you know."

She grins, languid and feline. "Believe me, Castle. When I've kissed you senseless, you won't be able to form coherent words."

He tries not to gawk. He fails. "I'm ready to find out," he says.

By the time he hears the distant call of "Clear!" he's slumped back, boneless and exhausted, against the radiator. "Beckett! Castle!" echoes closer, and, somehow, bless her, Beckett's calling back and smoothing her hair and straightening her askew top and generally sitting up and looking like a presentable hostage.

"In here! It's clear!" she shouts.

There's some banging of doors and sounds of proper police procedure before Ryan and Esposito blast into the room, guns first.

"Clear?" Esposito checks once more.

"Yeah, yeah, its clear," Beckett says, her voice remarkably level.

"You okay, Agent Manatee?" Ryan asks.

"We're fine," Beckett says, glaring.

"She needs her head checked," Castle says at the same time.

"Tiger mauling?" Ryan quips.

"Har har," Beckett says, glaring.

"You two just do this for fun now?" Esposito asks, lowering his gun. Ryan echoes the movement. Beckett keeps glaring. Castle tries to look nonchalant, or, barring that, at least slightly less aroused.

"Yeah, nothing like being chained to a radiator with Castle for a while. You should try it sometime," Beckett says. "Maybe after you find a key or some bolt cutters or gnaw us free or something."

"On it," Ryan says, perkily, walking back out the room.

"Put an APB on Jonathan Lewis," Beckett tells Esposito. "He's got a hell of a head start on us, but if you get his face out there we might get lucky."

"Will do," Esposito says, poised to pivot. "I'll have Gaines get that out and then help Ryan find something to free you guys with." He can't quite stop his smirk. "Castle – you might want to button those top two buttons and think about getting that lipstick off your jaw." He turns on his heel and goes before either of them can respond.

"Smooth, Castle," Beckett growls.

He rubs at his jaw, but he can't button his shirt one-handed and, anyway, the damage has already been done. "I'm sure they would have found out eventually," he says, shrugging.

"Found out about what, exactly?" Her voice is a little too deadpan.

"Oh, that is cold," he says, clutching his chest, but then she's bumping his shoulder companionably with hers and running an index finger lightly along the back of his palm. "Next time," he starts, but she lifts her hand and twists to lightly thwack his arm.

"No. No next time," she says. "This has been enough of next time."

He turns to stare, but he can't quite get her eyes. "Really?" he asks, his voice far too low and serious for such an innocuous comment of hers.

"You're not at least temporarily sick of being cuffed to me?" Beckett asks, her smile taking away whatever sting her words carry.

"Never." There's nothing else he can say. He can hear someone's footsteps echoing down the hall, Ryan or Esposito, carrying a key or bolt cutters or something else that will cut the cuff chain, that will separate them.

Becket must hear it, too, but she leans forward and crashes her mouth hard and fast against his. "Well, then," she says as she pulls away. "Next time."