Characters: Harry, Anna
Word count: 1021
Summary: Harry and Anna share a midnight snack.
Author's notes: Done for dresdenflashfic's 9th challenge. The prompt was 'heat'. Contains a very brief reference to another story of mine, Simple Gifts, but not enough to be jarring if you haven't read it.
I still wasn't used to sleeping in Murphy's bed, despite the growing number of nights I had spent there. I especially wasn't used to sleeping in it without Murphy there and that, combined with the massive heat wave Chicago was experiencing, had me tossing and turning, trying every possible position and number of covers. No matter how I lay, I wasn't comfortable and I was too hot. I decided to get up and see if I could cool off.
I made my way to the kitchen, where there was a light shining through the shutter doors and casting stripes on the opposite wall. I slid the shutter aside and saw Anna Murphy on her tip-toes, with the freezer door open a crack. At the sound of the door, she quickly closed it and reached for the fridge door in a such a swift movement, you'd almost have thought it was her original plan. She looked over her shoulder at me.
"Oh, hi Harry," she said. "I thought you were my mom."
"She's at work," I told her. "Emergency thing. She said that if I saw you before she did to tell you that she will be back for the movies tomorrow even if she has to shoot someone to get there."
Anna grinned. "You babysitting, then?"
"Yes," I replied. "And I intend to be very stern. Back on those toes and get us some ice cream."
She grinned more broadly. "There's chocolate crackle on the top shelf."
Normally Murphy was off for the weekends Anna was there, but there were five bodies in a very hot apartment and the Powers That Were had asked her to come in to help sort things out before they melted. Since I was at her place, she agreed to go for a bit, when Anna wouldn't miss her.
"Over there," Anna said.
I went over to the indicated cupboard and retrieved the sauce. Anna got on her tip-toes again and found the ice cream. She only reaches my elbow, so she's short like Murphy. Tonight she was wearing a long nightshirt that optimistically proclaimed 'Tis the Season' with a picture of Winnie the Pooh holding mistletoe over his head. She had rolled the sleeves up and fastened them like that (rather ingeniously, I thought) with a pair of twist ties.
"Grab some bowls, too," she ordered, pointing again.
I decided that if I ever misplaced Murphy, I could give Anna some shoe lifts and contacts (her eyes are blue) and pass her off in her place until I found the original again. She has the same gentle brown curls that tonight were tied back in a sweaty ponytail and the ability to order around someone who was nearly twice her size without any hesitation.
I grabbed the bowls and handed them to her, then sat down at the island while she prepared her masterpiece with concentration, tongue peeking out of the corner of her mouth as she worked. I was pleased to note that the cord of the necklace I'd given her at Christmas could be seen around her neck, the rest of it hidden under her nightshirt. Murphy wasn't exaggerating when she said that Anna never took it off.
"It's Cookie Dough," Anna informed me, as she handed me my bowl. She hopped up onto a seat kitty corner to me and started on her own bowl. "That's Mom's favourite. I like Cookies & Cream better."
"Any ice cream is good ice cream," I said. "Especially tonight."
"It's wicked hot," she agreed. "We have AC and my fan is on the highest setting and I'm still dying." This was said with appropriate dramatic emphasis. "You'd have to swim in ice cream to really cool off." She looked dreamy. "That'd be fun, though, don't you think?"
"It'd be sticky," I pointed out.
She gave me an impatient look. "Don't ruin the dream, Harry."
"Sorry," I said, fighting back a smile. "It'd be very wicked."
She nodded, with finality. "So," she said, changing the subject. "Are you going to be my new Daddy?"
She said this in a very serious voice, blinking with large innocent eyes and it took me a moment to catch the mischievous twinkle in them. A very similar twinkle to the one in Murphy's eye when she asked me if I was breaking up with her. She burst into giggles. I flicked some ice cream from my spoon at her.
"I'm not a brat," she objected. "I'm precocious. It's cute."
"It won't be cute when I turn you into a frog," I warned.
She giggled again, and I had to admit, it was very adorable when she did that. She ate a few more spoonfuls of her ice cream before returning to the subject. "But seriously, what's up with you and my mom?"
"I dunno," I said, truthfully. "We're sort of making it up as we go along. It's complicated."
"Grown-ups always make things complicated," Anna declared. "If you like her and she likes you, then it's simple. And she likes you. A lot."
"Yeah?" I asked, hopeful.
"Duh. I know all about you, Harry, and she never tells me anything about work," Anna reported. "She totally likes you. Which I think is good. She hasn't dated anyone seriously in a few years. The last guy turned out to be kind of mean, too. She kicked him out." There was pride in this last sentence. Murphy to the rescue. "But she was all sad. So don't make her sad, 'kay?"
I nodded. "I'll do my very best, brat."
"Good." She smiled.
There was silence as we finished up our rapidly melting ice cream. It didn't stand a chance in this heat. Anna popped our bowls and spoons into the dishwasher and ordered me to return the crackle to where it had been.
"I'm going back to bed now," she said, after making sure I'd done as I was told. "You never saw me."
"These aren't the droids I'm looking for?" I asked.
"Whatever. G'night, Harry."
I washed my face and neck with some water in an attempt to cool off enough to sleep, then returned to Murphy's room. And, three days later, when Murphy bewilderedly wondered where all the ice cream had gone, I shrugged innocently and didn't say a word.