Title: It's Not A Date

Author: Fidelacchius

Book or TV: Book

Rating: PG

Words: 1150

Spoiler: Through White Night

Disclaimer: Jim Butcher owns The Dresden Files and I am only a humble imitator.

Summary: Wizard Bill enjoys a cookout with the Carpenters and he brings Murphy along, but it absolutely, positively isn't a date. :P

Author's Note: This sort of serves as a Prelude to another fanfic I'm working on.

"Pass the ketchup, Bill."

"Murph, don't encourage her," I growled as picked up the ketchup bottle with my right hand and handed it to her. Our bare fingers brushed against each other for single second before she took it and poured ketchup onto her grilled hamburger.

She snorted with amusement. "She's only a little girl, Bill."

I sighed in defeat.

Michael was throwing a cookout in celebration of my liberation from Lasciel. Of course, only he and I knew what we were really celebrating about and we left it unsaid. For everyone else, it was only a great time among friends and family.

I had brought Murphy along, but it wasn't a date. We were just two friends enjoying a cookout with another friend's family. I even brought my dog. It didn't mean anything that rode in the same car, both dressed nicely, and sat together.

So it absolutely, positively, was not a date.

That being said, Murphy looked incredible.

Sergeant...formerly Lieutenant...Karrin Murphy was use to sacrificing her feminine appearance in order to compete with the Hairy Men's Club of Chicago PD. She wore her hair shorter than she liked and went almost entirely without makeup or earrings. At work, she wore a functional pantsuit and when she wasn't at work, she wore a practical T-shirt and blue jeans. And I had only seen her wear a dress once.

Until now.

Murphy wore a long, full, and white dress that made her look like the one my visions of her from my Sight had come to life. The dress resembled the quasi-angelic tunic I often Saw her in, but not stained with blood and mud of battle.

If my tongue had fallen any further out of my mouth, I was sure she would have grabbed it and yanked it out. Then again, I had the distinct impression that she enjoyed my reaction, almost as if she had been hoping for it.

But I had to behave. The entire Carpenter family was here. Michael and his wife of course, and Charity would have disapproved of any inappropriate behavior from me in front of her seven kids, including my apprentice Molly. Michael would have tolerated it, perhaps only with a gentle plea, and so far he hasn't given me the talk about Murphy.

What do I feel for her, why aren't we together, that sort of thing.

"Please pass the mustard," asked Amanda. I did. "Thank you, Bill."

The ten-year-old had been the source of my new name. Several years ago she decided, since they already had a Harry (never mind he was named after me) that I needed a new name and she had come up with the name Bill seemingly out of nowhere. It wasn't that bad except others, like Murphy, got a kick out of it.

"Do you want some more chips, Harry?" asked Murphy.

"Sure Murph."

"I was asking Little Harry, not you Bill."

The picnic table erupted with giggles from the kids and chuckles from the adults and maybe full-blown laughter from Molly.

The rest of the meal went on like that with jokes and laughter. I probably ate one hundred grilled hamburgers and the kids probably shared just as many with Mouse, who sat by the table, doing his best poor starving puppy look that didn't at all conflict with his actual appearance of being as big as a small horse.

At least none of the kids had tried to ride him...yet.

"Thanks for inviting me Harry, I enjoyed it."

"No problem, Murphy," I told her as we walked away from the table and sat in a quiet little spot under a large tree. "We both need to get away from work and the things that go bump in the night. The Carpenters' is a nice place for that."

Her eyes looked at Michael's youngest children playing with Mouse, who was basking in all the attention, and those baby blues seemed to sparkle.

She closed her eyes for a moment and when they opened the look was series. "Yeah, it's a good time for that. Work is busy and I may not see you for a while."

"Ah, why not?"

"Big case," she answered simply as if she didn't want to say more.

I didn't press. Special Investigations worked on a lot of cases, mostly involving vampires, trolls, and faeries, and after a while, they had become routine.. Mostly due to the early efforts of Murphy and a certain wizard consultant, but it seemed somewhat self-important to ask why I hadn't been brought in this time.

That train of thought was somewhat derailed as Murphy reached with a hand and gripped the fingers of my right hand, squeezing gently, as if to reassure me.

She looked at me with a thoughtful expression and our eyes met just long enough for both of us to feel the beginnings of the violent psychic pressure of a soulgaze, but our eyes pulled away before it was too late.

"You look different," she told me gently.

"Is that good or bad?" I asked carefully. The biggest difference that had come to mind was the absence of Lash and a part of my soul. I had seen plenty of soulless monsters and warlocks with twisted souls to give me the impression that missing a part of your soul might be very bad, despite Bob's reassurances.

Of course, Murphy didn't know any of that. I never told her about Lasciel and Lash. Heck, I had told Billy and Georgia, but not her. Even after the connection to the Blackened Denarius was broken, I still couldn't tell Murphy.

"Good," she told me and I felt relief. "You worried me with your anger issues, but now it seems completely gone. Was our talk about it that good?"

"Must have been," I told her. It wasn't a completely lie. If Murph hadn't confronted me on it then I wouldn't have confronted Lash about it.

Murphy smiled at me, a sunny light that she would have never shown to me if were in front of other cops, but behind the safety of the Carpenters' back yard she was allowing me to see it.

She looked back at the kids, "So Michael really saved Charity from a dragon?"

"Yeah, kind of cliché. Wizards don't have any great romances in folktales. We mostly live alone in big phallic shaped towers and guide young men."


"Wait, err, that came out wrong."

"Kiss her Bill!" yelled one of the girls with the innocent playfulness of youth. Murphy blushed furiously pink and quickly pulled her hand away from mine.

"This isn't a date, you know," she blurted.

"I know, I know."

"Because it isn't."

"I know." I struggled to change the subject. "Maybe I should change my name to Bill. Wizard Bill, no, Warden Bill, ah, Bill the Magic Guy, or Beta Ray Bill."

"No one likes a wiseass, Bill."