Jack opened his eyes blearily and stared out at an empty room. His head was aching and there was something jabbing into his back. "Miss Fisher?"
"Can you reach your knife?"
His knife was in his pocket. He made a move to retrieve it, but promptly realized why Phryne wanted it. "While my knife would be very helpful, I'm afraid it's quite inaccessible."
Jack felt her hands move against his where they were tied together between their backs. It was both awkward and incredibly distracting.
"I don't suppose you can get your hands loose?" Phryne asked.
Jack attempted to move. The twine was rough against his wrists, and he could barely do more than twist them slightly. "Not a chance."
He felt more than heard her sigh. "Drat. Well, my feet aren't bound, so I'm assuming yours aren't either. Shall we attempt to stand?"
"It might be easier if could move closer to the wall. We may need something to brace ourselves."
"Good thinking. Let's move towards my left on the count of three.”
She counted off and Jack attempted to move himself to his right. He slid only a small amount before he could feel them start to lose their collective balance. His shoulder hit the ground with a smack and he winced at the sudden shock. "Miss Fisher? Are you all right?"
"My arm is going to be a lovely shade of purple, but I'm fine."
"I'm sure you'll find something to match it." Jack tried to find the floor with his hands to see if he could push himself back up, but he couldn't manage to touch it with more than a fingertip.
"Well. That went spectacularly poorly."
"I hadn't noticed."
Jack heard footsteps in the hall and they both went silent. Two men, or possibly three, came up the hall. They were talking, but their voices were muffled and Jack couldn't make out what they were saying.
Phryne moved a finger against his hand, stroking it. For a moment, all Jack could think about was the sudden tingling in his palm. He breathed out silently and realized her finger was making a continuous pattern. It moved from the bottom of his palm up, lifted up, and repeated. She wanted to try sitting up.
Jack wiggled his hand to get his fingers closer to her palms, and used a finger to make the same motion on her hand to indicate his agreement. He couldn't help noticing how soft her skin was. He forced that thought out of his mind and tapped Phryne's hand three times. On the third tap, they attempted to heave themselves back up into a sitting position. It was rather graceless, but after a moment, they succeeded.
The men continued past their room, not even slowling down. Jack tried to remember where they were. He remembered running into Phryne while conducting a search of William Banks' residence, and then... nothing. Banks must have been lying in wait. At least now he knew that Banks was almost certainly the man who killed Amelia Smith.
"I wonder what Mr. Banks was thinking?" Phryne asked, her voice pensive. "Why bind us and leave us here?"
"I doubt he was thinking. The man is not entirely sane."
"But what was done to that poor woman could only have been done in a fit of rage! This required calculation and forethought."
Jack thought for a moment. Phryne did have a point. She normally did - it was one of the things he liked best about her. "If Mr. Banks didn't kill and mutilate Miss Smith, why bind us at all? Surely he would realize that it would look like an act of guilt. Unless," Jack said slowly, "he's protecting someone else."
"Of course! I can't believe I didn't see it before." Phryne breathed out. Jack could feel the movement of her body against his. It was... pleasant.
"The son," Jack said. "It has to be the son."
"Yes," Phryne agreed. "Mr. Banks would do anything to protect his son. Thomas is all he has left."
The theory made perfect sense, but there was something still nagging at him. There was something they were missing.
Phryne abruptly tried to get to her feet. Jack made an undignified cry of pain as his arms were raised behind him. Phryne toppled over, her back landing on top of Jack's, pushing his face into the floor.
"Miss Fisher." Jack attempted to take a breath. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Getting your knife," Phryne said. "We have to go back to the docks."
Jack frowned. They'd already gone over the murder scene thoroughly, and there was little else they could do at the docks. Unless. Of course. Yes, that would definitively tell them if Thomas was their killer.
Phryne pushed down against his back, moving their bound hands toward his now more accessible pocket. She wiggled her fingers attempting to grab hold of it, in the process inadvertently stroking his lower back. She pushed down even harder against his back. Jack swallowed. With her hand now angled towards his pocket, Jack's palm was pressing rather indelicately against her backside. He tried to move his hand, but there was nowhere for it go. Phryne moved herself up his back, he assumed in order to get a better grip on his pocket, and Jack's palm slipped lower.
She moved up even further, and Jack's palm slipped down dangerously low. He swallowed and attempted to concentrate on the pain he was in from being contorted into this position and not the woman under his hands. "Miss Fisher, if you could--"
"Got it!" Phryne pulled his knife from his pocket and flicked it open. Jack could feel her turn it around and carefully cutting the rope binding them together. She was still pressed up tight against him, and Jack tried to control his breathing.
Jack felt one rope snap and the pressure around his wrists loosen, though they weren't free yet. Phryne paused and wiggled a little against his palm. "Or we could stay here for awhile," she said, playfully.
"Phryne!" Jack's decorum and control had been pushed to their limits.
She laughed and finished cutting the second rope. It fell away and Phryne stood, and part of Jack regretted the loss of contact. He sat up and rubbed his wrists, putting those thoughts to the back of his mind. They were inappropriate and unprofessional.
He stood and looked at Phryne. She was shaking her head and smiling. "Some day, Jack. Some day I'm going to make you crack."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Not today, Miss Fisher."
"Of course not. We have a killer to catch."
Jack shook his head and followed her out the door. One day, she was going to make him crack.
He was looking forward to it.