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“Jack, wait!”

She’s not sure what she wants to say, but he’s right there and she doesn’t want to watch him leave again.

(God, is this what it’s like to have what you want to be just out of reach, to watch it leap and flicker and dance before you like flames, lest you reach for it and get burnt?)

“What, Miss Fisher?” he snaps, turning on his heels, eyes blazing.

(He can feel the last of his restraint catch at the edges, the embers of his broken heart reignited by her presence and he burns, slowly, again, for what he cannot have. And oh, how he burns.)

“Do you think Mr Spall is Intelligence?”

“I don’t know, Miss Fisher,” he enunciated through his teeth, “I didn’t get a chance to properly assess him,”

“But Jack - "

“I would ask you not to undermine my authority in interviews, Miss Fisher, barging into them like a freight train,”

Just for a moment, she forgets that they're not like that any more(wishes they still were), and -

“A charming freight train, Jack; and anyhow, I wasn’t undermining you! I do so like to watch you exert your authority,”

(She just stuck her hand in the flames. And he doesn’t do well with her recklessness.)

They ignite.

It takes a moment for Phryne to regain her bearings, but when she does, she’s up against the wall and Jack is pressing against her; the low thrum that she always feels when she’s with him curling low in her belly.

He growls, and suddenly he’s all hands and lips, pushing on her bruises, up her sides, kneading at her breast and she moans at the pleasure-pain, just this side of too much.

She’s vaguely aware they’re against a door, so she fumbles for the handle and it swings open; they stumble into the room and she’s back up against the door as fast as she can close it, back hitting the wood. Jack fastens his lips on the rise of her shoulder and bites, sucking harshly. It’s sure to leave a bruise, and the thought of him marking her sends a flash of heat down her spine.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she thinks she might have to stop him, that he will regret this later, (he’s grabbing at flames as much as she is, though they cannot see it) but the thought is chased away by his hands on her coat, the first two buttons affording no resistance, but the last defying him just long enough for it to be ripped from its stitching, and his hand is back on her chest, groping and pressing, the friction against her nipple enough to weaken her knees. She may have collapsed had she not had the wall, or Jack’s hungry body pushed up against her to support her.

He’s blinded by rage and sick of having to make the hard choice over and over again, so when she moans against his lips, the maddening, insolent woman, he retaliates by nipping at her lower lip, not caring whether he draws blood. Another moan and he can feel her thigh on his, her leg crooking and he grabs it, working the soft flesh underneath, probably squeezing hard enough to leave more bruises. He pulls hard enough on the stocking that the buckle comes loose from its ties.

She pushes off his coat; it falls without catching, and he lets it slide off his arms and hit the ground. His hands are back on her waist again, pulling her up against him as he presses open-mouthed, sloppy, desperate kisses to her neck, sucking and nibbling at the tendons, and she keens, a high-pitched, breathy sound that only fans the blaze raging inside him.

A growl rises up in his chest and he presses it against her lips, all bared teeth and battling tongues; he surges towards her again, and her gasp as he moulds himself to her cannot penetrate the haze, though he is vaguely aware of her hands creeping down his torso. He retaliates, moving his own hand upwards and pushes his finger along her slit, finding the silk covering it already soaked through. It knocks at something primal in him and he crushes up against her again, pushing a leg in between hers.

She lets out a breath at the sudden, but not unwelcome, intrusion and she undulates beneath him, rubbing her nub up against the rough wool, seeking friction but not quite getting it, the hand trapped between them holding her just apart from where she wants, needs to be. She moves her own hand from where it has been clutching at his arse to palm him in return, and he almost comes; it's a fumbling mess of hands and skirts and drawers, his fly and buttons and ties, lips and teeth and tongue, but he is drawn out of his underwear and hisses at the contact with the air.

It’s the work of another moment to hitch up her skirt and pull her undergarments aside, the head of his cock running along her seam; he shudders at the contact. A thrust misses her core and bumps up against her clitoris; she rolls her lips to keep from shouting at the sudden contact. He uses his hand to guide the second attempt and plunges into her, sheathing himself in her wet heat. She is almost lifted off the ground with the upward motion and she is arching into the thrusts, imitating the rhythm, almost riding the movement of his hips. She clutches at his shoulders, dragging her nails down his back, grazing his spine through the layers as she pulls where he pushes, drawing unwittingly closer even as he tries to hold himself apart. He grabs at her leg again, her shoe still digging into his backside and spurring him on, the bite of her heel just this side of painful, anchoring him in the moment. He can feel her panting, straining beneath him and he shifts, trying to get a better angle.

His knees bend, and he thrusts up with a scooping motion; Phryne catches on and hops up with it, bracing herself between the wall and his solid frame. He catches her, (still in sync, always, together, two sparks circling the other) hands moulding and kneading at her arse as he pounds into her and oh god, the difference a couple of inches of extra height makes - he can feel her pubic bone against his as he is fully seated in her, her wetness making her curls silken against his heated flesh. Her peak takes her by surprise; her breath hitches - not that he notices, senses blunted with anger as they are - and it travels up her body, tendrils of pleasure licking at her insides. He almost roars as he feels the beginnings of his own climax tingle in his spine and redoubles his efforts, drawing long strokes in and out, riding the feeling.

(even here, now, something in the back of his mind is telling him she is dangerous and wonderful and still only fallible. he tries to scorch it with his fury, but it is made of stronger stuff than that)

She can’t help the pained cry that escapes her at the particularly violent thrust, and she can see that he’s close, shaking and eyes scrunched in pursuit of release. They open; the moment he realises their predicament dawns clear as day in his eyes. The fire in their depths is extinguished, doused by what she thinks she is reading correctly as shame, before his barriers come up again, though there is unvarnished shock (at what? her? himself?), she thinks, as he slips from her body just in time to spend over her thigh.

Jack couldn’t meet her gaze. She was crouching, legs bent, supporting herself against the wall, where he had essentially dropped her as he was jolted back to his senses by her cry, skirt hiked up, caught on the sheen of sweat and the angle of her leg. Watching helplessly as his body betrayed him, the white ropes of his release fell on her porcelain skin, just catching the edge of the skirt. He knew she was looking up at him, still, but he couldn’t bear to look at her and see the pity, or disgust, or betrayal in her eyes. It would kill him.

Trying to look anywhere but her face, he searches for a handkerchief to at least clean up the mess he made - the mess he could clean up, anyway. There was no telling what kind of mess this would have made of their relationship, estranged as it was; if it was in trouble before, it was nothing but a pile of ashes now. (ashes, of course, are that from whence the phoenix rises again, bright and beautiful)

“My deepest apologies, Miss Fisher.”

“Jack,”

He thinks he can hear pity in her voice. Forcing himself to meet her eyes, he doesn’t find it, but he is disgusted with himself well enough not to need her censure, too.

“Good day.”

With shame licking at his heels as he rushes from the room, he doesn't hear her quiet “... wait,”.

(is it better to burn bright and fast than to fade like embers, they think; it turns out, neither wants to fade just yet.)