AN: I mentioned in my first White Collar fic, all my fics lately are coming out all weepy, sappy, loveydovey, bordering on repetitive. I really don't know why. Depression perhaps. So do forgive me if it's irksome. Also, I have not read all the Dresden novels. BLASPHEMER, I know. I do have a rough idea of what occurs, so the details of many things are quite vague. So if any or all of this fic makes absolutely no sense canonically, please let me know. I'll fix or even remove the entire fic depending on how ridiculously out of canon it is. My thoughts behind the whole shield bracelet thing is that he loves her so much his magic protected her through that object, or something lame like that heh. So hope to hear from...anyone! Thanks y'all!

Disclaimer: All characters used in this story belong to Jim Butcher.

I lay sprawled on the ground, sucking in as much oxygen as I could. It was no easy task with the hot wind of the blaze before me wafting in waves against my face and body. I'm not sure I'd ever sprinted so fast in my life getting out of there. Or in my death for that matter. You'd think after so many years of doing what I do, one would've built up stamina for this sort of business. You'd have thought wrong...

It had been Murphy and I alone against that...thing. In hind sight not our most brilliant plan. It didn't help that Murphy was still acting oddly toward me. I suppose someone you thought dead coming back to life will have that effect on a person. I'm not sure what I'd expected when I'd showed up on her doorstep that day to show her I'd returned to the land of the living. I wasn't delusional enough to have thought that she'd welcome me with open arms. But I hadn't quite expected the cold shoulder and near silent treatment either. She'd only reluctantly let me on this case that our little band of magical rebels had taken on because she'd needed specific abilities I possessed that no other member of the Alliance did. To work with her while she was doing everything she could to avoid interaction with was almost physically painful. The ride over here had been murder.

Now, laying here, I blamed her for none of it. Now I knew exactly how she felt.

Murph had been in that building. The explosion had levelled it to the ground and she had been inside it. I couldn't see how she could have survived. She had ordered me out of there once I'd brought down a few magical barriers in our path. She'd given me her spiel about how this was her job (can't take the cop out of the girl apparently), that she had things covered from here on in, that it would be stupid to risk both our necks over this and that it was time for me to walk away. For once I hadn't argued. I wanted Murphy to forgive me. I wanted us to be friends again. Scratch that. We'd almost gone given in to going on a date before my untimely demise. I wanted to be more than friends. So I'd left, just as she'd asked, not knowing the place was prime to blow. If I'd known it would happen, I would've cemented my damned feet to the ground to stop her from ushering me off, would've found some way to knock her out so I could throw her over my shoulder and get us both the hell out of there. How could I have been so stupid!

I watched the flames dancing before me, though not really seeing them. Assuming she'd cared about me half as much as I care about her, this must've been what she had felt when I'd been shot. A sort of foggy, dream-like sensation teetering between disbelief and denial. My eyes were wet from more than just the smokey air.

I struggled to a seated position, resting my head against my knees. I suddenly felt like never moving again. Like I'd been gutted by a giant troll. Times a million. No, even that doesn't begin to describe it. I didn't want to find her...that way, in that condition. Damn, I couldn't even think the word. Murph was gone. She was-


I was about to release the animalistic howl that had been bubbling to the surface when I heard her voice. It was weak and shaky, much like my own state, but it was distinct. I was scared to look up, convinced that I had heard wrong. Nevertheless, I cautiously lifted my head, meeting those familiar blue eyes I'd thought I never would again. I never noticed before how incredible her eyes actually were...

Hey give me a break, thinking his best friend just died tends to make a guy sentimental. (And it only get's worse from here, fair warning...)

Before my throat could close entirely I managed to force out the words, "Hiya, Murph."

I couldn't even blink. I was sure the stress of the night had finally pushed me over the edge and Murphy was just a figment of my crazed mind. She might disappear if I lost sight of her for one second.

She must've felt the same way as her gaze bore into me, eyes wide. She gave a half-hearted wave in response.

I risked testing the strength of my legs and rose from the ground to stand. Fortunately they held. On the second try, anyway.

I was losing it. This couldn't possibly be Murphy. Was she real? Or had I actually gone mad? Or was some sadistic magical enemy of mine using her image to torture me?

Somehow, though, I knew it truly was her. I didn't need the Sight to know it either. No false representation could ever do Karrin Murphy justice, in this world or the Nevernever.

Then how had she made it out alive?

"How...!" I gasped, just slightly incoherent at the moment.

It didn't matter, Murph understood. She lifted her wrist to display what encircled it. My shield bracelet! That's what had saved her? Murphy couldn't do magic so how could that have been any use?

I quickly realized I didn't really care. My legs felt ready to give out on me, so I took a tentative step closer to her if only to keep them moving. Murphy watched me carefully as I did so.

And then she began to laugh.

I started in surprise.

It began as barely contained snorts before becoming outright gales of laughter. She had her head thrown back one minute, was doubled over the next.

I knew she was probably in shock, but all the same I couldn't help but notice how cute her face was lit up like that. No, not cute. Beautiful. She made hysterics beautiful. I also couldn't help but smile in return.

After a great deal of manic laughter she looked at me again and approached, mad giggles still wracking her tiny frame. When she reached me she unexpectedly threw her arms around my neck. Unexpected perhaps but more than welcome. My smile grew as I enveloped her in an embrace.

I had little time to relish the feel of holding her. The whole atmosphere of our little moment shifted suddenly. My smile abruptly faded and my stomach clenched as I felt a wetness on my shoulder. Her laughter had turned to tears. I grimaced. She must've though that I, too, was still inside when the building had come down. I'd only just made it out when it had exploded after all. She was crying. Crying because of me. My throat felt ever tighter.

"Karrin..." I tried to gently pull away so I could look at her. This only made her hold me tighter. Well, hell, who was I to refuse her? I gave up and pulled her closer to me if that was possible.

I guess this meant that she'd forgiven me. Her anger at me for, you know, dying without her permission those months ago, must have abated. I pressed my lips to the top of her head.

"Pals again?" I asked, trying to lighten the mood even a smidge.

Murphy gave a sniff and gently nodded.

With a little help from oxygen deprivation, I found the cojones to say what I did next.

"I love you." I murmured, then fearfully held my breath.

To be honest, Murphy bursting into heaving sobs was not exactly the reaction I had hoped for but I went with it. At least she hadn't run off and there were no fists flying.

"You know that, right?" I asked softly.

She nodded again, burying her face deeper into my chest. I'd come this far, I had to know too.

"And you?"

Another heart-stopping beat.

Murphy pulled it together, bringing herself under control enough to chuckle and say into my coat,

"I don't understand the question."

I grunted and squeezed her side, pretending to be miffed by her teasing. Really I was relieved to hear her typical sarcastic charm. It had been a while.

Finally, Murphy lifted her head and stood on her toes to press her cheek to mine.

"I love you, Harry," she whispered.

Nothing really compares to hearing those words, especially when you didn't realize how long you'd been waiting to hear them. It certainly did a number on me. I was probably crushing her in my arms at this point, but she didn't complain as she rained kisses across my cheek, temple, ear and neck. I'm not ashamed to admit there were tears shed on my part. Enough to snuff out the inferno behind us if I'd been in the right spot, but that's between us. Fortunately they were silent, so Murphy didn't witness the worst of it or if she did she didn't mention it. Not that she would have cared or given me a hard time about it but I personally have a manly image I like to maintain. (No laughing...)

Eventually, Murphy straightened up, wiping at her eyes as if hoping I hadn't been paying attention this whole time.

"Sorry," she said, embarrassed. "Enough of that. I'm done now."

She shook herself and turned to get to work on assessing a scene that really was now a matter for authorities. It was a not-so-subtle move to avoid a difficult conversation. We both knew the creature was long gone and for now we were out of danger. Truth was we'd both just used up our 'public display of emotion' quota for at least a good year so any chat now would certainly be awkward. Well, she might want to avoid discussing what had just happened between us and actually that was fine with me. I had no intention of talking just yet. However...

"I'm not," I declared, holding fast to her arm. With a sharp jerk I yanked her back to me once more.

Just as Peter Falk in The Princess Bride spares the then young Fred Savage gory details of the "sappy" bits of their story, I will also keep it simple. Suffice to say, Murphy and I kissed. I mean, properly kissed. It was fucking awesome.