Characters: Murphy, Harry, Kirmani (briefly)
Spoilers: The Boone Identity.
Word count: 1700
Summary: Everyone needs to be looked after sometimes.
Author's notes: Done for the 'hugs, cuddles & kisses' challenge @ dresdenflashfic. This went somewhere completely different than I originally was planning, but I decided let it go where it wanted. Set sometime after Second City. Harry/Murphy friendship and more if you'd like to read it that way.
I was safely across the room while Murphy was writing her report. Even so, I could see that she looked bad. Exhausted, weary, upset, relieved. Bad. She was hunting and pecking at the keyboard instead of her fingers flying along as usual. It was like she couldn’t even remember where the keys were located. I make no judgments, considering I have never typed anything on a computer in my entire life.
Kirmani and I don’t agree on much, but we had made the silent agreement that Murphy needed to go home. We hadn’t actually discussed this, but it was an unspoken fact and to that end, he was setting plans in motion.
“Hey boss, why don’t I finish that report?” he offered.
Murphy looked at him like he was a strange creature. “You?”
“Yeah, I got fingers,” he said, wiggling them at her. “I was there. I know how it went down. I’m all over it.”
Murphy opened her mouth and closed it again, then lathered, rinsed and repeated.
“I’ll spell-check, I promise,” Kirmani said.
Murphy smiled a little, shoulders slumping. “I...okay. You sure? I can do it.”
“I’m all over it,” Kirmani repeated. “You should go home and relax, boss.”
Murphy immediately bristled at the implication that she was in less than perfect condition, but Kirmani just pulled her rolling chair from the computer and pushed it out of the cubicle. She laughed and put her feet down, standing up.
“Alright, alright, I’m leaving,” she conceded.
I approached with her coat over my arm and handed it to her. I couldn’t get away with holding it while she put it on. “I’m driving you.”
“Are not,” she said.
“Am too,” I said. “It will really look bad if you kill someone with your car, Murph. I don’t think they let you be a cop anymore if you do that.”
“I’m not a freakin’ doll!” Murphy burst out, jabbing a finger at Kirmani and then me. “I’m not gonna break! I...” All the fight went out of her. “I’m paying for a cab to take you home, Dresden.”
“Deal,” I agreed. “Motorists everywhere thank you for your good sense.”
“One of us should have some,” she muttered, grumpily.
“Night, boss!” Kirmani said.
“Don’t think you’re off the hook,” Murphy warned him. “I can’t think of a good threat now, but when I’m rested, I will put the fear of God in you.”
Kirmani smiled cheerfully. “Kay, boss.”
I guided Murphy out to the car and had a brief tug of war over her keys before I successfully wrangled her into the passenger seat. I don’t recommend attempting to wrangle Connie Murphy anywhere. Not without a suit of armour and some chloroform.
She was quiet in the car, just looking out the window. I didn’t know how long it had been since she’d slept. Natalie Sandoval had already been missing for a couple of days before Murphy called me in and I know she didn’t sleep for the 18 or so hours it took for us to track the kid down. The only thing magical about the case was my tracking spell. The guy who took her was a regular Joe and disgruntled ex-employee of Mrs. Sandoval. We didn’t actually know what he had planned to do with the girl, or if he even knew. Whatever it was, he hadn’t gotten around to doing it before we found him. Everyone involved in the case was very satisfied when Murphy shot him in the leg, however. Bastards who take little girls should be shot at least once. The girl was back with her family and wouldn’t be horribly traumatized by the whole experience. Not to a level that wouldn’t heal in time.
The thing is, I know Murphy was reminded of her own daughter. She may be the most kickass cop in Chicago, but she was still a mother. Every person on that case who was a parent was hell bent on getting Natalie back and even those of us without kids were pretty damned determined. Now that bad guys were caught and damsels were rescued, all that was left was the exhaustion that comes when you go without stopping. The moment you stop, you realize just how hard you’d been going and Murphy had been going the hardest.
“We’re there,” I told Murphy, after I turned the engine off.
“I can see that,” she said, but took a few more moments before moving.
She pushed the release on her seatbelt and pulled the keys from the ignition. I followed her up to the house and was not invited in. Murphy took a few steps inside, turned around and gave me an impatient look. She jerked her head and I took that to be as close to a ‘please come in, Harry’ as I was likely to get.
I followed her lead and dumped my jacket on a bench at the front door. Murphy walked into the living room and plopped down on the couch. I turned, on instinct, to ward up the door, only remember that A) Murphy doesn’t have wards on her door and B) Murphy doesn’t need wards on her door. Any house that has had families living in it for as long as the Murphy home has had needs no more protection than its threshold. Compared to my weak bachelor pad, Murphy’s house was like Fort Knox.
“D’you mind if I make something to eat?” I asked. “I’m starving.”
She waved a tired hand of assent and I went into the kitchen to poke around in her cupboards. There was a lot of stuff requiring a microwave, but I managed to find a couple of cups of noodles that only needed boiling water. I got some tea out, too, and put the kettle on. I peeked out at Murphy. She was staring at the fireplace.
“I could make a fire,” I said.
“So could I,” she replied, giving me a quirky smile. “Just have to turn the knob, there.”
I had to investigate that. I went over and turned the knob on the brick and a cozy fire blazed to life. “Oh, that’s...awesome.” I turned the knob back and the fire went out. I did this a few more times until Murphy’s laughter pulled me out of my reverie. “What?”
“You’re like a two year old,” she said. “Just leave it on, please?”
“Sorry,” I said. “But it’s cool.”
“Yes, Harry,” she said, in a patronizing tone.
I stuck out my tongue in a mature fashion and went back to the kitchen to take the whistling kettle off the burner. I divided the water between the noodles and tea and found the necessities for consumption, then brought it out to Murphy. She accepted the food without question and began to scarf it down. I went slower on mine. I wasn’t really that hungry.
“Stop thinking about it,” I warned her.
“Why do you think I’m thinking about it?
“Because you’re not here, with me. You’re elsewhere. Thinking deep, cop thoughts,” I explained.
She frowned. “I have trouble turning it off sometimes. My brain just races around and I can’t stop it. I keep thinking about what might have happened or what I should have done or how I would react if one thing or another happened.”
“It went fine,” I pointed out. “No one was hurt except the bastard who deserves to be hurt. Natalie’s home with her family. You did good, Murph.”
“I know that,” she said. “And that makes me feel good. But ever since...” she stopped. “For awhile now, it’s like...”
“What?” I prompted.
“It’s like I can’t control how I think. Like...like my brain isn’t me. It doesn’t...listen. The pills help – they help me sleep, but...I still feel like if I don’t keep moving, if I just relax and don’t think about anything...my brain is going to walk away without me.”
She was making a face at the fire, like she was expecting me to start laughing or telling her she was crazy. I didn’t. The whole thing with Boone was in the past now, but not too far in the past. It takes awhile for that to wear off. Her body had gotten up and done all sorts of things while she was ‘asleep’. I could see how she would be afraid that one day she was going to wake up to find out it had happened again. It would be worse for her, because she still didn’t know what had happened, exactly. I hadn’t told her. I couldn’t, until she was willing to believe me.
“Come here,” I said, holding out my arms to her.
“I don’t need a hug, Harry,” she said.
“I’m not going to hug you,” I said. “Turn around and lean back against me.” She raised her eyebrows skeptically. “I’m a perfect gentleman, I swear.” Her eyebrows rose higher. “Oh, c’mon.”
She sighed and hesitated and then finally did as I asked. She moved closer and leaned her back against my chest. She was tensed up like spring, though. I pulled a cushion from the couch and put it in my lap, then tugged her shoulders until she finally was right up against me.
“Close your eyes,” I said.
“Your eyes aren’t closed.”
I put my fingertips on her temples and she jumped, but I kept them there and she relaxed again. I moved them in slow circles, around her temples and into her hair and behind her ears.
“Don’t think about anything,” I said. “Or, if you have to think about something, think about something simple. Like a seesaw going up and down.” She started to relax. The tension in her shoulders released and her weight fell more heavily on me. “There, that’s good. Just rest. Rest and relax and don’t worry about your brain. I’m here and I won’t let it wander away.”
She chuckled a little and that was the last sound she made before she fell asleep. Her breathing became deeper and I moved my hands from her head. I wrapped my arms around her waist and rested my cheek against her head. She snuggled up into the embrace and we stayed like that. My legs lost feeling and my belt buckle pressed uncomfortably into my stomach, but I didn’t move. Murphy needed the rest. When she woke up I was going to get hell, but I didn’t really care. Everyone needs a little looking after sometimes, whether they’re kidnapped little girls or clumsy wizards or kickass cops.