Length: 1627 words
Book or TV verse: TV
Characters: Murphy, mini!Dresdens, Harry, Bob
Summary: Murphy spends a day with the Dresden family.
Author's Notes: Done for joyfulfeather, who requested Murphy and Harry's kids interacting. Follows Family Dynamics by a few months.
"What if I sink?"
Fay Dresden stood on the edge of the splash pool with her hands on her hips. She looked fierce, despite her curly pigtails and polka-dotted bathing suit (brand new, she'd informed me, proudly).
"I don't think you can sink, sweetie," I reasoned. "It's not deep enough."
"I'm not very big, Murphy," she said. She looked at me skeptically and eyed the waves in front of her.
I held back a laugh and nodded, agreeing with her. Fay was unusually small. She made up for size in personality, though.
"Anna loves it here," I told her. "She loves to swim and she never once sunk, not even when she was very little like you."
"Yep. I wouldn't let you sink either," I promised. "And it's very fun."
Fay looked over her shoulder to her father, who was stretched on out on a picnic blanket nearby. He had his eyes on Mal, but seemed to sense her gaze and looked our way. He gave her a smile and she turned back to me with renewed confidence. I walked over to her, the water splashing around my knees and held out my hands.
"Okay, here I go," she decided.
She took my hands, took a deep breath and jumped off the side of the pool. The water from her splash soaked up my rolled up pants to my waist. I didn't mind. It was hot enough out that the sun would dry them quickly. She shrieked as she hit the water, which reached her belly button and stood there with her eyes closed, waiting for something bad to happen. After a moment she opened one eye cautiously and then the other. Then her face lit up in a wonderful smile.
"I did it!" She said, throwing her arms around my waist.
"Of course you did," I said. "Didn't doubt for a second that you would. You wanna try swimming?"
Fay nodded and gave me a look that was pure Dresden. Resolute and determined.
Half an hour later, Fay was splashing around the pool like a pro. She could doggie paddle a little and had even dunked her head underwater. She was thrilled with herself and immediately ran to Harry when she hopped out of the pool.
"Daddy!" She threw herself onto him, soaking his t-shirt as she squeezed him tightly. "I can swim!"
"Ugh," he said, falling onto his back with exaggerated motions. "I saw, cutestuff. Very awesome. You aren't going to turn into a fish on me, are you?"
She giggled. "No!"
"Good, I wouldn't know where to put you," Harry said. He sat back up, shifting her onto his lap. "Maybe the zoo would take you..."
I grinned at the exchange, which continued in the background as I wandered over to where Mal was standing a few feet away. He was dancing in that way that toddlers dance. More just bopping in vague time to the music and occasionally throwing his arms around. Anna used to dance like that in front of Sesame Street. I don't think either of the Dresden children have even seen a TV, though. The band on the pavilion closed the song and Mal clapped joyfully with the rest of the crowd.
It was a beautiful day, with a blue sky and soft breeze. We were on a picnic in the park, Fay, Mal, Harry and I. It was my day off and Harry invited me along. I was glad he had started to initiate the contact again. After Mira died, he closed himself off with the children, burrowing away from everyone in the outside world. I had to beat down his door repeatedly, inviting myself over and forcing myself in until he started to reconnect. He'd looked after the kids, but not himself and he was starting to do that again. In the past few months, he'd stopped having those moments where he just blanked out from exhaustion, staring into space. He'd shaved, finally, gotten a haircut, put some weight back on. I was back to being his best friend. I'd missed him.
"Murf!" Mal said. He grinned his big Harry grin as I lifted him up and brought him over to the blanket. He reached back towards the pavilion. "Music, Murf, music!"
"I think the music's done now," I told him. The band was packing up.
"More!" He objected.
"All gone," I said, making a sad face.
"All gone," he repeated. He made a 'poof' motion with his hands.
God, I missed having a kid his age. He was so cute! My maternal instincts just went haywire around these two. Anna was starting to reach an age where she wanted to be completely independent, which was good. That's what's supposed to happen. But in the void, I felt like I needed babies to cuddle and play with. Damn biological clock. Wasn't it supposed to stop ticking after you had kids of your own?
I sat down on the blanket and put Mal on his feet. He gave me a kiss on my nose. "Moo!" According to Harry, that is a code word for affection. So. Cute. Gah.
"Stop flirting with Murphy," Harry scolded him, with a grin.
"Jealous, Dresden?" I teased. "He's just my type you know. Doesn't talk too much."
Old Harry would have a comeback but post-Mira Harry was still recovering his snark. He just grinned at me and that was enough. I'd missed that grin, too. Mal plunked down on the blanket near Fay, who was sipping on a juice box.
"I swam," she told him, proudly.
"Moo!" he replied, opening his arms wide.
I pulled the picnic basket towards me and reached in to get myself some food. My hand hit something too hard to be a sandwich and I peered inside, then looked up at Harry with astonishment.
"You brought your ghost?" I said.
"Hey, he deserves to get out once in awhile," Harry said, indignantly. I stared at him. He pointed to Fay. "It was her idea."
I laughed. There was Old Harry, just for a second. I looked around, the people who had been listening to the band were packing up their things and it was general chaos. Nobody was looking our way.
"Coast's clear, Bob," I told the skull.
A few years ago, if you told me I'd be talking to a skull like it was a person, I wouldn't have believed it. Times change though. Not always for the worse. I'd seen things that given me nightmares, but some things, they were worth seeing.
There was a brief flash of light and then the ghost was towering over me. He blinked up at the sun and looked around hungrily, like a starving person eyes a roast turkey.
"Bob!" Mal exclaimed, clapping his hands.
"I swam!" Fay quickly added.
Bob looked down to the children on the blanket, gave Mal an imperial nod of hello and smiled briefly to Fay. "I am impressed, Julianna," he said, genuinely. "You can now claim that over your father."
"You can't swim?" I asked Harry.
He blushed a little. "I can swim," he objected. "If I have to. I just...don't."
"I bet you're one of those pussies that's so thin they turn blue in five minutes," I accused him.
"Am not!" he responded, childishly.
He stuck out his tongue. I stuck out mine back and Fay and Mal giggled. Bob sighed a sigh I'd come to hear a lot from him. Bob and I had been partners in bringing Harry back to life. Bob could talk, and how, but he couldn't hug or take the kids out for lunch to give Harry a break. Together, we tag-teamed Harry to prevent him closing off completely. I considered Bob one of the Dresdens now. He and I didn't always get along, but I knew he cared about Harry and his kids. I didn't know ghosts could care like that. I didn't know there were ghosts. Just another lesson taught to me by Harry Dresden.
"Bob, you're not dressed for the weather," I said, eyeing the formal velvet jacket and waistcoat he usually wore.
"I cannot feel the heat, Lt. Murphy," he reminded me.
"Well, you're gonna attract attention," I insisted. "Can't you just..." I made a waving motion. "Whoosh into something else?"
"I will not be seen in Bermuda shorts, if that is what you're suggesting," he sniffed.
"Just tweak your accent and pretend to be from Australia if anyone asks," Harry suggest, wryly. "We'll say you're not used to our crazy American weather."
"Sit down, Bob," Fay invited. "We're having a picnic!"
Bob politely declined and remained standing while we ate, listening patiently as Fay described her swimming lesson in great detail. Mal kept looking up to the pavilion wistfully, maybe hoping for more music to be played. He crawled over to me and into my lap, resting his head on my chest. Boobs. Kids love'm.
After lunch, we started up a rousing game of Frisbee, me and Fay against Harry. Fay lacked the coordination to catch or throw very well, but she made up for it in enthusiasm. Bob kept an eye on Mal as he toddled around, managing to corral him back if he started to go too far. Eventually, Mal curled up on the blanket for a nap and Harry had to carry him back to the jeep when it was time to go. Fay held my hand and skipped along beside me, red curls bouncing up and down.
"This was the bestest day ever," she declared. "I like it when you come and play with me, Murphy."
"I like to come and play with you, kiddo," I replied, feeling all glowy inside.
"I think Daddy likes it when you come and play too," she observed. I smiled and watch Harry carefully buckle Mal into his car seat. "Will you come next time too?"
"You bet," I said.
"Good. I like you, you're my special friend. Is that okay?"
I ruffled her hair. "That's perfect."