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slow as a wet week

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Phryne opened the door.

Jack said, "Not a word."

Phryne bit her lip and stepped back, allowing Jack into the foyer. His shoes made loud squelching noises, and Mr. Butler shimmered into view, holding a dish towel.

He looked at the growing puddle on the floor, looked at Jack, and handed him the towel. "We'll be needing more of those," he said mildly, and vanished.

Phryne disappeared into the parlor for a moment, and reappeared with a glass of whiskey. She held it out to Jack silently, although her face spoke volumes.

"Thank you," Jack said fervently, tossing it back. He had to wipe excess water off the glass before returning it. With effort, he managed not to drip on her directly.

Phryne raised her eyebrows and started making a series of gestures over the glass.

Jack studied her in bewilderment, then sighed, realizing his mistake. "Oh, just ask. It's not as though you've ever listened to my requests to be quiet before."

"How on earth did you get so soaked?" Phryne said, promptly. "And would you like another drink?"

"Please," Jack said, and resisted the instinctive urge to follow her into the parlor as she vanished again. He took a small step towards the parlor door in an attempt to keep her in view, but immediately felt guilty about the spreading puddle and stopped. He started toweling at his hair in recompense. "As to my current state -- you may not have noticed, but it's been raining."

"After seven days straight, even an amateur lady detective like myself notices such things," Phryne called from the parlor. "But Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, without an umbrella in such weather? I don't believe it."

"I had an umbrella. Earlier."

Phryne reappeared around the doorframe, eyebrows raised.

Jack raised his eyebrows in return, and took the offered glass. He sipped more appreciatively this time, and waited.

"No, don't tell me," Phryne said, irrepressibly. "You were on a case, the skies opened up, and some poor soul was in need of your fine umbrella."

Jack hid a smile behind his glass. "I'm afraid your theory is wrong. The umbrella in question was blown inside-out by a malicious gust of wind, and flew from my hand to hit the Commissioner in the face."

Phryne winced sympathetically. "Right. Another drink, then." She plucked the glass from his hand and ducked back into the parlor.

Just then, Mr. Butler returned with towels — ample enough for both Jack and the foyer floor. Jack peeled off his drenched jacket and waistcoat and handed them over at Mr. Butler's gesture, taking a stack of towels in return.

They were warm.

"You can't possibly be paid enough, Mr. Butler," Jack said.

"Ah, but the company is priceless," Mr. Butler replied. He efficiently removed the now-drenched towels from Jack's hands, replaced them with the rest of the towels he was holding (also warm), and vanished back towards the kitchen again.

Jack turned to find Phryne leaning against the doorframe into the parlor, observing — or perhaps staring was more accurate.

Jack glanced down. His shirt, he suddenly realized, was nearly transparent, despite the singlet underneath. He froze, and looked back up at Phryne.

She grinned. "Well, Jack. We really should get you out of those wet clothes. Don't you think?"