Fic: Lost in Translation
Title: Lost in Translation
Assignment: Harry/Murphy...what happens after the end of the last episode?
Word Count: 2494
Summary: Bob is informative, Murphy is incorporeal and Harry is confused.
Notes: Very sorry for the lateness! Enjoy.
Whatever Joe Murphy had meant by “help Connie keep living,” I was fairly sure it wasn’t this.
This, Murphy said in the back of my head, sounding extremely disgruntled, was most definitely not what he meant.
“Shut up for a second,” I muttered, hovering over her body spread out on my temporarily-cleared table in the workroom. “I’m trying to fix this.”
“How exactly did this happen?” Bob inquired, leaning over her. He waved his hand in front of her face, without getting even a flicker of reaction.
And just who the hell is he, anyway? Murphy demanded, ignoring me completely, but when had she ever done anything different? I answered her question anyway, because I knew she’d only get worse if I didn’t.
“He’s Bob,” I said, ignoring in turn Bob’s inquiring expression. “Roommate. Now will you be quiet?”
Roommate since when? she asked. I didn’t answer this. It would only get me in trouble.
“Yes,” Bob said, in a tone of extreme patience. “I am Bob. Bob wishes to know what happened, and then he will be quiet.”
I gave him my best Look. “I wasn’t talking to you, smartass.”
“Oh?” Bob raised an elegant white eyebrow, and contrived to lean casually back against the table while being, in point of fact, incorporeal. “Are you hearing voices, Harry?”
“Kind of,” I said, and shrugged. “I… had to put Murphy in my head temporarily. Something was trying to eat her. It’s complicated.”
Like anyone’s wanted to lately, Murphy muttered, then added in a slightly panicky tone, Did you hear that? You didn’t hear that!
I fought back a blush and kept talking. “It was hiding in her badge. She picked up the badge and I felt it make a grab for her, so I grabbed her first.”
“Mm.” Bob looked back at Murphy’s body, limp and still and barely even breathing, her face dead white in a tangled mess of dark brown curls. “Grabbed her how, exactly?”
I made useless grabbing motions with my hands and struggled for words. For future reference, it is very, very hard to describe how you did something when you’re not even sure how you did it yourself. “Like… I don’t know. It was a panic moment. I don’t think I could do it on purpose.”
“How very helpful.” Bob stood straight again. “Well. I can at least tell you what I believe it was that tried to eat her. Though consume would be a better term, I suspect.”
“Good,” I said, and ignored the attempt at a vocabulary lesson. “What was it, and can we kill it?”
“Oh, certainly we can kill it,” Bob said. “It’s still inside her body. Whatever you did when you were, er, grabbing her—“ he made air quotes, and I silently resolved to find and kill whoever had taught him that gesture— “must have trapped it in there.”
That’s wonderful, Murphy said. What the hell is it?
“That’s wonderful,” I said. “What the hell is it?”
I suppressed a grin. She would have been smiling too, had she actually been able to do so; I could hear it in her voice. Well, “voice.”
“I believe it is a psychophage,” Bob said, walking around to Murphy’s head. He held a hand out over her forehead and frowned briefly, then nodded. “Yes. Certainly a psychophage. That roughly translates to ‘soul-eater,’ for those of you who haven’t studied your Greek recently, Harry.”
“Funny,” I muttered. “Very funny.”
Bob ignored me and went on. “It tends to live in objects these days, though I believe when they were first discovered they lived in fruit. It’s a parasite. It latches on to the soul, puts the host into a coma, and once it’s consumed the entire soul, it jumps into a new object to hibernate for a while. I believe one catches it, so to speak, by touching infected objects with one’s bare skin.” He nodded down at my hand, half an inch away from Murphy’s. “I wouldn’t touch her if I were you.”
I moved my hand away, and shivered. Thank goodness it was winter. I’d been wearing two layers of gloves, a scarf, my poofy coat and two long-sleeved shirts. There’d been no bare skin to be touched. “How do we kill it?”
And how do we get me back in my body? Murphy added. I don’t know about you, Harry, but I’m getting real sick of this.
I kind of liked having her in my head, actually, but I wasn’t about to tell her that, and I kind of liked Murphy in her body more than I liked having her in my head. Anyway, I already had a Murphy-voice that told me when I was being an idiot or a bastard. I didn’t need the actual one in there.
Bob blinked, and stared at me. “Harry. Do you realize that this is the first psychophage to be caught alive in centuries? They’re extremely rare, and very hard to catch. And you just want to kill it?”
“Bob,” I said, leaning over the table, careful not to touch Murphy’s bare skin with mine. “It tried to eat Murphy. I don’t care if it’s on the freaking endangered species list, yes, I want to kill it.”
He sniffed. “Someday, Harry, you must tell me about this mania for killing things.”
I scowled at him. “I get mad when things try to hurt my friends, Bob.”
“Oh, yes,” Bob said, and smirked at me. “Your friends. Indeed.”
Man, if I could ever figure out how to punch a spirit…
Good thing I had Murphy pretty well partitioned off; well enough that she couldn’t hear my thoughts and I couldn’t hear hers, or at least I didn’t think she could. I hoped she couldn’t. There were things I thought about Murphy that… well, better to leave that alone. Especially while she was in my head and maybe could overhear. I mean, seriously, she’d slapped me for kissing her, and that hadn’t even been serious (well, mostly). I didn’t even want to know what she’d do if she knew some of the other things I’d been thinking.
“Yes,” I said, through my teeth. “My friends, Bob. How do I kill it.”
He sighed. “Philistine. Traditionally one removes any vestiges of the infected object—remember, these used to infect food items, so that could get quite messy—and then there’s a brief spell. Are you sure you don’t want to contain it?”
“No, Bob,” I said, as forbiddingly as possible. “Tell me the spell.”
He rattled off something long and bumpy in Latin. I wrote it down phonetically, since I learned my Latin from a correspondence course that I’ve since decided was a scam, and asked, “Is that it?”
Bob nodded, stepped back, and folded his arms, inclining his head towards Murphy. “It’s a fairly easy spell, Harry. Not even you should be able to mess this one up.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Bob.” I hesitated, then said, “You all right?”
Murphy, who had been worryingly silent since Bob and I started talking heavy-duty magic, said, Yeah. Get on with it, Dresden. And don’t think you’re getting out of an explanation when this is over.
“I didn’t think I was,” I told her. At least it would be easy. After this little game, she had to believe me about magic.
Whether she’d stick around once she did… well, I wasn’t going to think about that now.
I stretched out my hands, one over Murphy’s forehead, the other over her heart, and said the spell.
Somewhat anticlimactically, nothing happened. I blinked, then checked the piece of paper to be sure I’d pronounced everything right. As far as I could tell, I had. “Hey, Bob?” I asked. “What’s going on?”
Bob looked at me, looked at Murphy, and said, “You killed it. What do you mean, what’s going on?”
“I mean,” I said, “Murphy’s still in my head.”
What? Murphy’s tone was dangerously low. You mean you’re finished?
He blinked at me. “Well, of course she is. This isn’t a psychophage coma. You took her out of her body, so you have to put her back.”
“What?” Murphy and I yelped, simultaneously, and I continued, “I don’t know how to put her back! I don’t know how I took her out to begin with!”
You had better learn, Dresden! Murphy raged. Goddamnit! I am not spending the rest of my life cooped up in your brain! For one thing it’s too goddamn small in here and how the hell am I going to explain this to Anna?
“Traditionally,” Bob said, “there is a kiss.”
That shut us both up.
Bob was smirking at me again. “A kiss restores a great many evils. Since Lieutenant Murphy is in fact inside your own head, I believe a kiss might restore her.” He shrugged one shoulder. “It must be worth a try.”
“Bob,” I said, beginning to panic. “Bob, I can’t kiss Murphy.”
And just why the hell not? she demanded, unexpectedly. I couldn’t quite figure out what she meant by that, so I didn’t try.
“That’s not what you said two weeks ago,” Bob said.
“She’s Murphy,” I said, in response to both of them. “I can’t… I can’t kiss Murphy.” Because if I did kiss Murphy I’d get slapped again, and I didn’t want to get slapped again, and she’d made it quite clear that she wasn’t interested in me and I really didn’t want to get slapped again and I did want to stay her friend and oh, hells’ bells, the hamster wheel of my brain was starting to smoke.
“Do you want her in there forever?” Bob asked me. “It’s easy and quick and worth a try. If it doesn’t work we’ll find something else.”
I shook my head, and said a little desperately, “There has to be some other way.”
Dresden, Murphy said, suddenly, her voice cold and a little bit angry. Just do it. I want out of here.
Well. If she put it like that.
I closed my eyes, tried to ignore how hard my heart was pounding, leaned over, and kissed her.
As kisses go, it wasn’t very good. Her mouth was cold and stiff, and I barely touched it, afraid of going any further. I brushed her lips with mine, nothing more than a peck, then pulled back and only then dared to open my eyes.
For a moment, I thought it hadn’t worked. Then her breathing deepened, and a little color leaked back into her face. Her hand twitched, her eyelids moved a bit, and her lips parted. She didn’t open her eyes, not yet, and I knew suddenly what she would look like waking up.
“Murphy?” I asked.
She opened her eyes, sat up, and slapped me smartly across the face.
“Ow!” I clutched at my cheek and gave her a wounded look. “What the hell was that about?”
“I can’t kiss Murphy?” she snapped. Behind her, Bob mouthed ‘you’re in trouble’ at me, then stepped discreetly backwards through the wall. Coward. “What the hell was that about?”
I gestured wildly and utterly uselessly with my free hand. “I can’t kiss you! You slap me! Jesus, Murphy!”
She glared. “Yeah, well, maybe if you showed any enthusiasm about it you wouldn’t get slapped. Is that how you kiss all your girls? No wonder you can't keep a girlfriend.”
All my girls? “What girls?” I asked. “What?”
“You’re an idiot, Harry,” Murphy said, enunciating every word clearly and carefully, then grabbed my shirt in both hands, yanked me towards her, and kissed me. Hard.
As kisses go, that was a good one.
She released me a while later, pink in the cheeks, and said, somewhat breathlessly, “That’s how you kiss someone. Jesus.”
I gaped at her. The hamster wheel had completely jammed.
Murphy ran her hands through her hair, cursing automatically when her fingers caught in the tangles, then said, “Someday you will explain what all that blather was about thoughts you didn’t want me to know about, and I fully expect you to demonstrate. That said. What the hell just happened.”
“Wait,” I said. “Did you just kiss me?”
She rolled her eyes. “Why, yes, I did! What a good detective you are, Harry! Someday you must teach me your skills. Who’s Bob?”
“You just kissed me,” I said, still several steps back in the conversation.
“Yes,” she said, even less patiently than before. “What was all that Latin mumbo-jumbo?”
“Why did you kiss me?” I asked.
Murphy inhaled deeply, then exhaled through her nose. “Harry,” she said, “if you don’t stop being dense, I may hit you. I kissed you because you are an idiot who doesn’t understand that ‘it won’t happen again’ translates to ‘kiss me again, stupid,’ and I had to take things into my own hands. Now explain what the hell all that bullshit was about.”
I blinked for a moment with my mouth still hanging open, and then said, “You know, Murph, I really don’t think I can right now.”
“Okay,” she said, and nodded. “Right. So kissing you shuts your brain off entirely. I’ll make a note for future reference.”
“That’s not…” I exhaled through my mouth and started over. “Murph. You kissed me. You have never kissed me or expressed interest in me before. I was a little bit startled.”
“I have in fact expressed interest,” Murphy said, her tone and posture very dignified. “It’s not my fault if you don’t pay attention.”
I closed my eyes. “Okay. Fine. Point conceded. You surprised me. Kind of a lot.”
Murphy looked at me, wearing a highly skeptical expression, though it wasn’t quite her ‘I can’t believe this bullshit you’re spouting’ face, so that was at least an improvement. “Really? I can see I’ll have to be clearer in the future.” She paused for a moment, then added, pointedly, “All those ‘in the futures’ mean you can ask me out any time now.”
“Oh,” I said, and started to grin my idiot head off. “Okay. Do they mean I can kiss you again and not get slapped?”
She laughed. “No, that was ‘it won’t happen again.’ Which was two weeks ago, so I’d say you’re overdue.” She tilted her chin up just the littlest bit, putting her at exactly the right angle to be soundly kissed.
Okay, so I’m sure that this wasn’t what Joe Murphy meant. But I can live with it all the same.