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Messengers and Forfeits

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Jack Robinson has never before made love to a woman without some concurrent declaration of love. To do so now is indefensible. Nor, will he get away with an application of that age old rehearsal of using the word in a different way: "I love that dress on you" or "I love how masterfully you apprehended that criminal on behalf of the Victorian Constabulary" or, even more daring, "I love the way you have masterfully positioned yourself in my house, on my bed, on your knees, and stroking me thus."

Earlier, she spoke of his need. He doesn't want to think of whether his needs revolve this evening or, more generally, around her. He can get on independently. He has proven that. He has fashioned himself to be a modern man - modern enough. Should she disappear from his life, or he from hers, he would still know how to get up each day. Dress himself. Feed himself. He'll answer the next phone call, visit the next crime scene. He knows how to don his gloves to collect evidence. He is fully able to complete a report in triplicate and do his part in a larger plan for a more just world. He does quite well on his own. Capable. Yes, that is the word. He couldn't possibly need her. Even this will not be said aloud. Her need for him is even less. It must be. So, why him? He looks askance at her shadow drinking from his lips, unbelieving. How could he possibly whet her appetite?

Or satisfy it?

He needs to know. He brushes through her hair with his fingers. "How is it, Miss Fisher, that we find ourselves here?"

"You invited me, remember?" She is undeterred in her administrations.

"I do remember. That doesn't explain how we came to be here. Like this." He continues to nuzzle her neck.

"Would you deny this, Jack?" She stops to look at him seriously, catching another of his shifts in mood.

"I am smarter than that. Besides, you should know how rarely I deny anything if you are involved." His eyes dance around her face looking for anything to help him understand. "However, if I am honest..."

"You are always honest." She watches his chest rise on an inhale and prepares herself for the things he says sometimes that makes her heart stop.

"I find our current situation unfathomable."

"Oh, I see." Phryne stopped everything to slide her hands into his. "When you say unfathomable, are you speaking of the unlikelihood that we should be lovers or of the depth of..." She didn't know what to say next. She doesn't do feelings.

"Why me, Phryne? You can have anyone."

"Why not you?"

"We work together, for a start. It makes everything so...complicated."

"Is now a good time to bring up how much I like your desk, Jack?"

"Phryne..." he rolls his eyes.

"I like complicated." Of course, she does. "Besides...so do you." Does he? When did that happen? He avoids complicated. Oh, no. She's right. How does she do that?

"You are not getting off that easy."

"Well, I might if you just tried touching me mmmph." His kiss silences her.

"Don't change the subject."

"Are you...mmph." Silenced again. She pulls him onto the bed and onto her, their arms and legs in tangles. "Ja..mmm...wommmmmm...". She is quite happy not to say anymore on the subject, especially if he keeps her from speaking using this particular method.

"Phryne."

"Yes, Jack?"

"I am asking you a question."

"Oh? I thought you were kissing me."

"Only because you keep not answering my question."

"You are hardly giving me sufficient reason to engage in honest discussion. I like that. Let's continue. Now, about that desk...mmmph nnve nmnm". He is incapable of thinking. How difficult is it to get a straight answer out of this woman? And, why does he continue playing along with her silly games?

"Phryne!" He is trying very hard to maintain his composure.

"Are you going to interrogate me, Inspector."

"Yes. Yes, I am." Jack wraps his legs around her hips, anchoring himself to the bed. "Why did you start this game?" He is determined to get some answers.

"Well, we were already playing one game, Jack. And, games are so much fun."

"Answer the question, Miss Fisher."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"You are asking the wrong question."

"What is the right question?"

"Why did you opt in?" She is amused.

No. No, no, no. "That is hardly the right question. You are attempting to change the subject again. From you to me. The subject is currently you. You can interrogate me later."

"Are you unfairly extracting a Truth from me, Jack? I don't recall that being in the rules."

"Whether you like it or not, I have an entire bank of examples for which I was right and you were wrong. Stop quibbling and tell me."

"Tell you what? I have forgotten already." She wiggles underneath him, enjoying his weight.

"The game, Phryne. When you started this game. What did you want from it?" Her attempted diversions entertain him.

"I wanted...," she is laughing before she stopped. "you, Jack. I wanted you."

He stares at her in incredulity. This is exactly the thing he cannot believe and, yet, when said with that sagacity there is nothing left for him to ask. She wanted him. She wants him. He feels foolish for making her say that thing which should be obvious. What else does he need to know?

"And now?" He repositions his legs so that he is nested between hers.

"Jack, how can you ask that?" She wraps her arms and legs around him.

"How can you deny me the pleasure of hearing you say it? Tell me again."

"You are being greedy, Jack Robinson."

"I am, Miss Fisher. I am very greedy." Jack took her top lip in his softly. He stayed close to whisper into her mouth. "Please, tell me again that you want me."

Her eyes were captured by his intensity. She heard herself saying, as genuinely as she has ever said anything in her life, "I want you, Jack." These words open a door between them. As easily as she invites him for tea or, more likely, to sip whiskey after closing a case, he enters into her.