Title: Pas de Deux
Summary: Harry sees Murphy in a new way. And in a dress.
Author's Notes: Done for a challenge at dresdenflashficlj. The prompt was 'partners'. Harry/Murphy shippiness could go either way.
I would have liked to say I was reading something scholarly, but I wasn't. It was some trashy fantasy novel with a bunch of dragons and buxom women who set the feminist movement back a hundred years. I didn't know how it had come to be in my collection, but it turned up when I was clearing out my shelves and what I intended to be a quick glance ended up with me sitting down and blocking out the rest of the world for twenty-two chapters. The murky Forest of Doom melted away and I blinked at my surroundings in confusion until I realized someone was knocking.
I went to the front door and found Murphy on the other side. She had on a simple red dress with a slit up to her thigh, her hair was up in a complicated twist and she was wearing dangly earrings that looked like they could have come from the chandelier in my uncle's old dining room.
"Wow," I said, appreciatively. "You look great!"
She brushed it off, looking uncomfortable. "Policeman's Ball thing."
"You on your way?" I asked, checking my watch.
"On my way back," she said. "My date had to skip out. Something to do with a mountie and a wolf."
"Jeez Murph," I said. "I thought I was your weird friend. If you're cheating on me, I want a divorce."
She glowered at me and shoved an envelope my way. "Ha. Paycheck. I thought you'd want it for tomorrow. Rent's due, right?"
"Yeah, thanks," I confirmed. I gave her a suspicious look. "How'd you know?"
"Saw the notice on your desk yesterday," she replied.
"You should be a detective or something."
She smiled a little and shifted from foot to the other. "Well, goodnight then."
"Wait," I said. "Come in for a drink, if you have a minute."
"No, I'm just being polite," I said, sarcastically. I stepped aside. "Come in."
She shrugged and entered. I pulled her coat from her shoulders. Her dress had skinny little straps that showed off her toned arms nicely and the back of it was cut low. Murphy looked like a girl. I mean, she is a girl and it's not like I never noticed that or anything because, c'mon, but she looked absolutely beautiful. I get the feeling she tries to downplay how beautiful she is a lot of the time.
"Beer?" I asked.
Murphy followed me into the kitchen. She sat down with extra care, pulling her skirt over her knees. I handed her a bottle and sat down at the table with her.
"Did you have a good time at least, before your date had to leave?" I inquired, politely moving my eyes up from her legs. Murphy has nice legs. Have I mentioned that?
"Sort of. I hate these things," she said. She took a long swog of beer and set her bottle down with an emphatic 'clack'. "These affair things. It's all politics and I'm not good at politics. I just wanna catch bad guys, you know? Not schmooze with the freakin' mayor. Plus, I have to dress like a girl, which makes all the guys I work with uncomfortable because I do my best to pretend not to be a girl when I'm at work so they don't feel threatened because they're all a punch of sexist pigs who can't take orders from anyone with breasts! And then there's their stupid wives who never talk to me because I'm not part of their stupid wives club and I have to smile and laugh and pretend like I don't feel like the girl who never gets invited to the prom."
I saw Murphy in a whole new light at that moment. It never occurred to me that she might be worried about those sorts of things. A person who could put a cap between your eyes from across the street in the dark should not be worried about what a bunch of flatfoots or their wives think of her.
"Sorry," she apologized, quickly. "I didn't mean to rant."
"No problem," I assured her. "You feel better?"
"A little bit," she said, with a brief smile. She took another sip of beer. "I didn't even get to dance."
She looked very glum and I cast around for something happy to say, before the words, "You could dance with me," came out of mouth, unbidden.
She blinked at me. "Huh?"
"I'll dance with you," I repeated. My cheeks started to flush. "If you want to dance."
"I can foxtrot," I said, awkwardly. "And tango and on a good day, I can waltz. But I can't..." I waved my arms vaguely. "Dance. Like, normal dancing."
"Where did you learn how to tango?" She asked.
"Argentina," I answered. She raised an eyebrow. "There was a lot of torrontés involved. I don't want to talk about it."
She laughed and I stood up, pulling her to her feet. "Dresden..."
"Listen, it is entirely against the laws of nature that you put on that dress and don't get to dance," I insisted, dragging her to the living room. "Seriously. We're talking hurricanes, earthquakes, maybe even zombies. Do you want to start a zombie uprising, Murphy?"
She laughed again. "No. I guess not."
I pulled a record from the shelves where I keep my dad's LP collection and put it on the player. The music scratched to life with a bunch of static, but eased into a proper tune as I stepped back out of range. Murphy looked unsure of what to do and I thought she might scurry away if I stepped closer to her, but she stood her ground and put her hand on my shoulder.
"Keep your hands where I can see them, Dresden," she ordered.
"Let me lead, Lieutenant," I replied, in turn.
She smirked and I stepped into a slow foxtrot, which she picked up pretty quick. She had on a pair of red strappy sandals that put her a few inches higher on me than usual. She also had on more make-up than she would have normally worn, with shimmery goldish eye shadow that made her eyes stand out and dark red lipstick. Even her nails were painted.
"Really, Harry, where did you learn to do this?" she asked, after we'd settled into a rhythm.
"My dad taught me," I answered. "I sort of remember him and my mom dancing, I think. I was supposed to be in bed..." I tried to remember more but the figures wouldn't come into focus. "It's kind of vague. But my dad thought it was a skill I should have."
Murphy smiled. "My grandmother tried to teach me," she shared. "But I wanted to play baseball instead."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" I teased. "I bet you beat all the boys."
"Of course," she said. "They were total sissies too."
The music switched to something slower and I pulled us into a sway. Murphy was more relaxed now, I could feel the tension leaving her back where my hand was resting. She stepped in closer and she smelled like good things that I couldn't quite identify. Her head fell to rest on my shoulder.
"Harry?" She said, after a bit.
"Stop staring at my legs."
"Murphy, if you didn't want me looking at your legs, you should have worn a different dress." She opened her mouth, but I spun her away from me before she could say anything. "And, for the record, I would definitely ask you to the prom."
She let herself be spun back in. "Really?"
"Oh yeah, you look hot," I assured her.
She smiled broadly. "Thanks, Harry."
I pushed her into a dip as the song closed. "No problem, Murph."