The idea for this story war born of WriterRCastle's tweet: "Decided to throw a pumpkin carving contest at the precinct. Although, can I trust Gates with a knife? She was really mad about those dolls."

What the Closet Revealed

"Castle, where's your phone?"

The glare she levels at him might be lost in the darkness, but darn if that keeps her from using it against him.

"Well, uh. Kate, I'm sorry. I left it on your desk. Didn't think I'd need it."

He does sound a little sheepish, so her glare might have gotten through to him, somehow; or maybe it was the tone of her voice that efficiently conveyed the message that she was, in fact, supremely annoyed at the situation.

"Where's yours anyway?"

Ah. This time, there's no missing the smugness underlying his words, that little smirk of his that irritates the heck out of her. She wants to wipe it off his face, nip at those full lips and kiss them back into place, find that too clever tongue of his with hers and teach it a trick or two of her own. Slide her hands down his shoulders, his arms, find his fingers with her own – oh, his knowing digits that write Nikki Heat, map out paths of fire against her skin, cup her breasts –


"Castle!" she whispers, her voice a strangled high-pitched thing in her throat as his hands slide down her sides, squeeze her waist, scorching her skin even through her clothes and spreading the blaze in her veins on their way down, down, down –

"Are you –" she begins, swallowing thickly, claiming control of her throat. "Are you out of your sweet mind? Did you or did you not agree to the no PDA policy at my workplace?"

Kate feels his breath in her ear, preceding a low chuckle that tickles her nerve endings in the most delicious way and – oh – how is she even going to survive this? Aggravating man.

"Well, technically, this is not where you work, Kate," Castle explains, sounding all patient and reasonable, and if she doesn't go crazy first, she might find his ear in the dark and swat it – hard – because she cannot for the life of her follow the logic behind his behavior or his words. "We are currently in the supply closet and correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I've ever seen you work from here in the four years we've known each other."

Kate shakes her head, disbelieving, because here they are indeed, locked in the supply closet at the 12th and the man is fiddling with recreational semantics."

"Castle, I don't think you've taken in the seriousness of our plight – "

"Ooh, plight. I love it when you use your words. So hot – Ouch! Kaaate. This is not my ear you're twitching here!"

She sighs, releasing his – whatever she had managed grab in the pitch-black darkness of their unorthodox prison cell.

"Castle, focus. How are we getting out of here inconspicuously?"

Kate realizes her mistake as she hears his breath hitch, the excited gasp he lets out at her five-syllable word. She immediately reaches for him and the flat of her palm lands on his half-open mouth by a sheer stroke of luck.

"Don't. Don't even go there." She finds his wrists and squeezes them, hopes to bring him back to the task at hand, although she's got to admit, the proximity of their bodies is not helping. "We've got to get out of here, fast, before anyone notices we're missing."

"Well," Castle begins, and he sounds more grounded, "Even though you spectacularly failed to answer my fairly simple question about your phone, I think the body search clearly established you're not carrying yours either, right?"

"Body search? That's what you are going for?" Kate gasps. Unbelievable. This man is unbelievable.

"Kate," Castle huffs. "Did you think I was trying to ravish you? You should know by now that any ravishing that takes place between you and me ends up in far more than roving hands and aborted making out sessions. No, I was merely asking you a question and was forced into, ahem, taking matters into my hands when you didn't answer. You did seem a little distracted. Come on, Beckett, can't you see we're locked in? Focus!"

He loves to needle her, get under her skin, then watch the evidence of her growing irritation, the first sparkles of temper igniting like firewood. It warms the skin of her chest, neck and cheeks with a delicious flush, the vein in her brow beating in time with her heart. And then there's that dangerous tinge of darkness in her eyes as her pupils dilate and meld with the softer green and brown of her irises.

Her tells are singularly similar to the state he likes to drive her to in the privacy of his home or hers, when their aroused bodies fight to get closer, faster, cannot wait to – oh, yeah. He has her under his skin all right, and he loves to get her bothered, in both senses of the word.

It's eerie how he intuits her every mood, how electric their connection is. How, even now, temporarily deprived of the sense of sight, he can feel in his bones the full spectrum of her emotions.

They've been here awhile – fifteen, perhaps twenty minutes, difficult to say – and he's been trying to fix the knob that mysteriously severed itself from the door and remained in his hand when he drew it shut earlier.

None too gently, Kate pointed out at the time (because she is mean like that), but Castle knows otherwise and he's been fumbling at the lock long enough now to be sure that no amount of door banging could have resulted in this clean cut in perfectly sound and solid metal.

"Could be the work of a poltergeist," he muses.

Kate sighs but he can hear her smile too, her annoyance abated, morphed into quiet resignation now that they have ruled out gunning the door down and crying out for help to attract someone's attention. Well, the whole Precinct's attention, more likely, and the hilarity that would ensue would be relentless, the bad jokes, the endless teasing – ugh. Doesn't bear thinking about.

But this Kate Beckett is a woman who can adapt to change gracefully and consider the possibility of magic, smile at the ridiculous suggestion of a poltergeist and take it all in stride.

"Mmm, yes, Castle. Poltergeist is a totally acceptable excuse for your clumsiness."

"Kate!" he protests. "No fair. We both know it would have happened to you if you had been the last one into the closet."

"Ah, but I wasn't and it didn't. So, how do you propose we placate this poltergeist and convince it to let us out in time for your Halloween party and preferably before we become the laughing stock of the whole Precinct?"

Castle slides against the wall and joins Kate on the floor, where he knows she is sitting. She finds his hand in the dark, laces her fingers with his, leans her head against his shoulder.

Mmm. He doesn't mind staying here all night as long as she's by his side. Who needs a fun Halloween party, Christmas in Paris or Carnival in Venice when they can share a supply closet with their partner?

A poke in his ribs, a nip at his earlobe. Ah, yes. Answer required.

It's got to have something to do with that doll I broke," he theorizes. "I'm reaping the effects of Gates' wrath and you… hmm, must be collateral damage."

Kate lets out a chuckle, a beautiful thing, light and free even within the confines of the closet.

"Gates would have to be dead to get poltergeist status. Besides, she doesn't need to die to make your life a living hell."

"Ah, yes. Gates still alive. Point taken. So…"

Kate suddenly springs to her feet, her hand still in his and she draws on his arm, hoisting him up beside her. She slides her arms around his neck, fingers toying gently with his hair as he gathers her against him, hikes her shirt up a few inches to find skin. She's all lithe and lean and warm against him, coiled energy barely repressed as he feels the ripple of her muscles against his palms. She is a panther, quiet and graceful but always ready to –

– Uh-huh. No. Not a panther; he doesn't need to deal with a big cat right now. Been there, done that… The Precinct poltergeist is new, however, and is providing sufficient amusement for the time being.

"So I suggest we do what we came in here for while we wait. Someone's bound to need a pen or a new cartridge for their printer at one point. We'll give our best shot at acting normal and they'll let us out. End of story."

"Much as I appreciate your no-nonsense reasoning, Detective, surely you must see the catch. How do we look at those carved pumpkins and vote for the best one when the bulb burned out on us when I switched on the light?"

"Like a blind person would?" she answers.

And yeah, that's pretty awesome. She's smart, his Kate. She has all the best ideas.

"We find those pumpkins," she continues, moving them in the direction of the pumpkins that everyone hid in the closet to keep Gates from turning them into purée before the contest could even take place. "And we let our fingers figure out their stories. Think you can do that, Writer-boy?"

"Writer-man," Castle corrects her with a growl (like she shouldn't know better), as he gropes around for a pumpkin.

"Oh, that one's mine," he says, immediately recognizing the familiar shape he dedicated hours carving.

Castle fumbles for Kate's fingers and directs them to his work of art. "Can you guess what it is?"

Kate hums quietly as her digits shape the contours of the carving. "Mmm, feels like letters at the bottom… and then there's some kind of long shape above… F.R.O.Z… Frozen Heat? Castle, did you carve Nikki Heat into a pumpkin?"

"Yes! That's the cover art of Frozen Heat." He is bouncing on his toes, his body buzzing with excitement. "Took me ages to do. Makes you want me, right?"

"Well, I reserve judgment on the art work until the light comes back." Kate sounds stern and annoyed and doesn't grace him with an answer for his last question (he wasn't really expecting one) but he knows she is laughing silently from the vibrations he picks up in the air. "How about we move on to the next one?" she adds as she steps to the right and touches their joint fingers to the pumpkin next to his.

Even though she knows better than to stroke her partner's ego, Kate Beckett is fairly impressed by Castle's pumpkin carving skills. The pumpkin she is currently holding, however, will not by any stretch of the imagination end up on the receiving end of well-deserved praise. By no fault of its own – but still – the vegetable is wobbly, dusty, and there is some sort of hole on its side, a rough, gaping wound that nearly has her dialing 911. Well, she would if only she hadn't left her phone in the pocket of her leather jacket on her chair.

"I don't know what to make of that one, Castle. You?"

Castle's hands brush hers as he blindly reaches for the pumpkin to try his luck.

He doesn't say anything for a while and she smiles into the silence as she imagines the snarky comment he is bound to make about the messily carved cucurbit.

"Oh, it's a girl wearing a satin dress, obviously."

Er. Wait. What?

Oh, he is being sarcastic. Of course he is.

"Do you know this story, Kate?" Castle continues, oblivious of her arched eyebrows and gaping mouth. "It's awesome. There's this girl from New-York, works in a box-factory and is as poor as Job's turkey. One day, she gets invited to a fancy party but of course she has no money to buy a suitable dress so she rents one from the pawnshop near her home after work. It's a beautiful white satin dress and she looks radiant in it."

Castle pauses and Kate hears him moisten his lips as she stands transfixed next to him, his storyteller voice lulling her into the spooky folktale.

"At the party, time quickly slips away as the girl is caught in a whirlwind of excitement and awe, and is inundated with dance partners. After a few hours, however, she is overwhelmed with nausea while she keeps hearing a ghostly voice whisper in her ear: 'Give me back my dress… I want it back.' The girl is found dead the day after and the autopsy report states she has been poisoned by embalming fluids. Turns out that the dress that killed the young woman was removed from the body of a dead girl just before her casket was nailed…" Castle trails off, infusing his story with a healthy dose of Halloween cheer.

"And that, Kate, is the true story behind the carving of this pumpkin. Actually," he adds as an afterthought, "I think it's Ryan's."

"What is Ryan's?"

The sudden glare of unexpected brightness blinds them to the world as a voice that registers as Ryan's booms into the room. They squint through their fingers as they get accustomed to the light and start to discern his dark figure outlined against a décor of Twelfth Precinct bustle and paraphernalia.

Castle is trying, Kate can tell, but is miserably failing at this whole looking normal thing they've had going for a few months.

"I was –uh – showing her my pumpkin."

Ryan walks into the supply closet and snorts through a giant smirk.

"Showing her your pumpkin. With the light off. Sure, guys. Is that what the cool kids call it these days?"

"No, Ryan, seriously," Kate stumbles through an explanation, but Ryan looks all too pleased with himself; there's no getting out of here unscathed. "Bulb burned out, we got locked in. Bad luck. But Castle really was showing me his pumpkin."

"Eww, Beckett, bet he was. But could you please steer the conversation away from your vegetable patch? Just so you know, you might be fooling everyone else, but you're not fooling me. But don't worry," he whispers conspiratorially, "Your secret's safe with me."

And on that note, he is gone.

Beckett rouses from the shock first and she thumps Castle's arm to shake the dumbstruck expression off his face.

"Come on, Castle. We need to get going."

Kate walks out of the closet (and what is it with closets recently?) feeling like a busted kid, followed by Castle, his own head held none too high. She gets to the comparative safety of her desk, reaches out for her phone –

"Detective Beckett. Mr. Castle. In my office."

Gates. Figures.

Kate catches Castle's caught in the headlight panicked look, silently pleads with him to just stop looking guilty as he trudges through the bullpen behind her.

"Detective, where have you been? Have you seen the time?"

"Sir, I –"

"If you want to go to that tacky party of Mr. Castle's, you better be on your way. You're on call and Halloween being a favorite among murderers, I have the feeling you will catch a weird one first thing tomorrow morning. Now I have my own party to get to," she says, standing up from behind her desk. "Good-night, detective, Mr. Castle."

Kate glances at Castle as they are left stranded in Gates' office, stupefaction painted across his features in what may well be a mirror of her own expression.

They stare after Gates as she strides through the Precinct and into the elevator, oozing cool authority and collected self-confidence in a rustle of billowing white satin.