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intimacy colours my voice

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“I want it noted for the record,” Jack says, “--that this is hardly what my tutor had in mind when he introduced me to the wonders of poetry.”

Phryne lets the laughter bubble up to the surface. Her skin is flushed, both from the champagne she’s drunk and the heat of Jack’s gaze on her, his eyes lingering on her throat, the lines of her body underneath the silk gauze of her dress. She’s looking her best tonight, and while Phryne will always, always dress for herself, admiration is always a thing to be enjoyed.

And when it’s Jack who is admiring her, it’s a thing to be treasured.

“A bet’s a bet, Inspector.” Phryne says lightly, leaning against the wall. The night air is cool against her bare skin, a faint breeze stirring the hem of her skirt. She knows the picture she makes, out here in the moonlight. “And I did win.”

Jack gives her that faint smile she loves so. “No argument there. I merely...quibble with the location.”

“There’s no moonlight inside the house,” Phryne points out, holding her arms out wide.

“Yes, but there would be furniture,” Jack says.

Phryne looks at him. She could point out that it’s her house and her property, that it’s the middle of the night and no one is hardly to come across them now. She could say that, and it would be true--it just wouldn’t be the whole truth.

“No. I want you. Right here, right in this moment,” Phryne tells him. She takes a breath, and adds, “So take your lesson from Shakespeare, and go forth into the breach, if you please.”

Jack doesn’t move at first, and then he slowly steps forward, closer and closer still, until he’s pressing her back into the wall, warm and solid against her. “Oh, I have learned my lessons well,” Jack promises, his voice low. “Shall I show you?”

Put like that, there’s only one answer to give. “Yes,” Phryne sighs, shuddering at the feel of Jack’s hands on her waist. “Oh, yes.”

Jack pulls her in flush against him, and Phryne wraps her arms around his neck and leans in for that kiss--

--only to have Jack turn his head to kiss her cheek, her jawline, her throat. “Had we but world enough, and time,” Jack recites, and Phryne lets out a little laugh, because of course. Of course he would.

“Coyness, I assure you, is not my crime,” she promises him, but the rest of her retort, whatever it would’ve been, is swallowed up in a sharp gasp as Jack hikes up the hem of her skirt, his strong, clever hands sliding in and under her dress, past the garters of her stockings, and the feel of Jack Robinson’s hands finally, finally on her bare skin is enough to, it’s enough to--

It’s enough to still Phryne’s tongue, enough to make her want nothing more than to stay there, caught between the wall and Jack’s body, and listen to him recite and let his clever hands work away.

“--pass our long love’s day,” Jack’s murmuring now, lips trailing against her throat. Phryne tips her head back so as to give him better access, sighing happily as his fingers start to rub at her, through her silk undergarments, the most delightful sort of tease.

“Jack,” Phryne murmurs, lips dry, pressing up and into his touch, wanting more, wanting everything he can give her, right in this moment. “Jack, darling, please.”

Jack takes a shuddering breath, and says right against her ear, his beautiful voice suddenly gone hoarse with desire, “I would love you ten years before the Flood.”

“Oh,” Phryne says, eyes falling shut as he finally presses those strong fingers inside of her, no more teasing, giving her exactly what she wants, exactly what she needs, and after all this time--

“Shall I continue?” Jack murmurs, sucking another kiss into the pulse point of her throat, mouth hot and perfect against her skin, all the while those fingers of his still moving against her, inside of her.

“Don’t you dare stop now,” Phryne orders, her own fingers sinking into his hair, keeping him as close as she can. “Don’t you dare--”

She feels him let out a quiet huff of laughter against her throat, and then without warning, his fingers move inside of her just so, rough and hard and perfect, and Phryne is gasping at the sensation, even as Jack is continuing to talk, to promise her with a sonnet what they’ve been dancing around for so long. Too long.

And so Jack keeps on, because she wants him to, he keeps on driving her to the brink with his hands and his mouth and his words, until she’s panting for breath, moving in perfect time against his fingers, knowing that all she needs is one last final spark--

“I can’t,” Jack pants out, half-laughing from desire and amazement, “I can’t think of the rest, Phryne, I can’t--”

“Kiss me then,” Phryne demands, her voice tight and desperate, “Jack, I need you to, I need--”

And because Jack Robinson will always, always give her what she asks for, he kisses her, he holds her still and licks into her mouth, until Phryne can hear her heart pounding between her ears, a steady thump-thump-thump that--

--that isn’t her heartbeat at all, but a knocking on her bedroom door. Phryne opens her eyes, not to the sight of moonlight and Jack’s face, but to daylight and the ceiling of her bedroom, because it is morning and she is in bed, alone, with Dot outside knocking on the door.

Phryne stares up at the ceiling. No moonlit night, no love poetry, and no Jack. Just her, with a quickly fading dream, and a body wound far too tight from frustrated desire.

Phryne has, for the most part, curbed her occasional bursts of profanity since bringing Dot into the household, out of respect, but this is one of those times that restraint is not its own reward.

“Miss?” Dot calls out, sounding a little anxious. “I don’t mean to wake you, miss, but Inspector Robinson is here? About the case?”

Oh God. “Oh, God, Phryne groans aloud.

“Miss?”

Phryne exhales. “I...will be right there, Dot.”

As soon as she takes a very brief, very cold bath.

*

Because there is clearly some sort of nefarious plot afoot, Jack is waiting for her at the end of the stairs, looking as he always does, eminently neat and respectable, with nary a button out of place. “Miss Fisher, how kind of you to join me.”

“I am to please,” Phryne says, as flippantly as she can. And yet the truth is, despite her clothes, despite her red lipstick and smooth hair, she feels thoroughly--disheveled, still. Despite her outward appearance being all in order, her mind is still--

Her mind is still lingering on the fantasy of Jack Robinson’s hands on her body.

Wanting him isn’t new for her. Neither is looking at him and wondering what he’d be like, out of those clothes, his restraint gone, what it would be like to see him finally forget himself and just--

And just want something. To see him openly want her, the way she wants him.

Jack notices her disquiet, of course he does. “Miss Fisher? Are you all right?”

Phryne looks up at him, and does not say her first thought, which is that she's told him a hundred times over to call her Phryne.

She does not say her second thought either, which is to demand to know just how many love poems he knows by heart.

Instead, what Phryne does do is take a moment, and then she smiles up at him. “I’m quite fine, Jack. I was just thinking--when this case is over, we should go out for dinner.”

“Oh?” Jack asks. “Any particular reason for this dinner?”

“Oh no,” Phryne says, and gives in to the temptation to step forward and adjust his tie, to fuss over the way his coat lies over his shoulders. All an excuse to touch him, of course, it always has been. “I just think it might be nice, a quiet meal, some good company.” She looks up to see him already watching her, and she smiles at him a little. “We can even discuss poetry, if you like.”

A beat, and then Jack’s smiling. Faint and soft, but still there, still all for her. And perhaps, just maybe, a spark of something hopeful in his dark eyes. “I would like that. Very much.”

“Excellent,” Phryne says, smiling up at him.

*

When they leave the house that morning, Phryne makes a point of taking Jack’s arm as they go. Jack looks at her and says nothing, but a second later, carefully tucks his arm in just enough that she has to step in that much closer to him.

They’re out in the morning sun, fully clothed and entirely respectable, and the whole world could watch them right now and not be able to breathe a word of censure.

It’s still a thrill anyway.