andveryginger: (10k Volt Man)
[personal profile] andveryginger
Title: Undercurrents (1/?)
Fandom: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (MFMM)
Pairing: Phryne Fisher/Jack Robinson
Rating: T+
Disclaimer: I definitely do not own the characters herein. I'm only taking them out for a test drive.
Notes: My first dabble in the MFMM fandom. Many thanks to Sassasam (AO3) and Seldarius (FF.net) for their beta services and encouragement. Any mistakes you see now are my own!

Spoilers for most of series 1 and 2, but especially 2x12, "Unnatural Habits." Picks up sometime shortly after 2x13, "Murder Under the Mistletoe."



A stillness had settled over The Esplanade as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson made his way up to the house at 221B. An inky horizon hinted at the dark night to come, a cool breeze rustling through the shrubbery and flowers lining the path. The front light was still on, interior lights spilling shades of red, yellow, and orange through the stained glass onto the porch, beckoning him up the stairs and to the door. He rapped his knuckles solidly against the lacquered wood, then stood back to wait. A long, quiet moment followed before he heard soft footsteps on the tiled foyer, followed by the rattle of the ornate knob. He was not surprised when the door swung open to reveal Tobias Butler, chief of the household staff.
What did surprise him, however, was to see the ever-polished butler standing before him, clad not in his usual black suit and cravat, but civvies instead. The elder man gave a welcoming smile. “Ah, Inspector,” he said. “Do come in.”

“A pleasure, as always, Mister Butler,” Jack said with a nod, by way of greeting. Removing his hat, he stepped into the foyer.

The head of household staff returned the nod. “As always, Inspector. May I offer you a drink?”

At this, the inspector shook his head, eyes drifting past the man’s shoulders to the parlor. A small side table stood by the fireplace, two glasses and a decanter already waiting. “I think that will do nicely, Mister Butler.”

“Of course.” Mister Butler reached, taking the trench coat and hat. “Miss Fisher won’t be a moment. In the meantime, if there’s nothing else I can offer you, I believe I’ll take my leave for the evening.”

Jack cocked his head to the side, looking to Butler with a furrowed brow. “Leave?”

“Yes, sir. Wednesday, so I’m off to meet my brother-in-law for a few pints and a round or two of darts,” he replied. “I’m not terribly good, but I do keep trying.”

“Of course -- your night off.” Jack cleared his throat, fighting desperately to keep the amusement from his features. As he regarded the butler, he couldn’t help but think he saw a glint in the man’s eye as well. “Please don’t let me keep you.”

“Not at all.” He nodded. “Have a good evening, sir.”

“Good night, Mister Butler.”

The inspector watched as Mister Butler disappeared into the darkness of the dining room, shaking his head. He was just turning his attention to the whiskey decanter when he heard the lady herself behind him: “I was beginning to wonder if you were going to make it.”

Jack did not turn at first, pouring one glass, then another of the fine amber liquid. When he did turn, he found The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher standing in the doorframe of the parlor. He swallowed at her attire -- a lounging ensemble in dark blue silk satin -- his Adam’s apple bobbing above his four-in-hand knot with the effort. “I did telephone to say I was going to be late,” he replied.

A wry grin curved her lips, high cheekbones on full display as she took several steps closer and accepted the tumbler of whiskey he offered. The light scent of lavender enveloped him, a warm rush crawling up the back of his neck. “It seems your involvement in my cases generates quite a bit more paperwork. I wonder why that is, exactly?”

“Because I can be such a veritable font of information?” Phryne watched him over the rim of her glass as she took a sip, eyes alight. “And I know you want all the facts we discover on our cases well-documented.”

Amusement flickered across his features, reaching his eyes more than it curved his lips. “Our cases?” One step further diminished the gap between them. He could feel the heat radiating off her, nostrils taking in another hint of lavender. Her face tilted upward, clean, make-up free features aglow in the yellow light, a suggestion of pink across her cheeks. It was the most relaxed and beautiful he had seen her since the night of the Pandarus incident. “Does that mean you’ll start doing your share of the paperwork, Miss Fisher?”

Her free hand came to rest on his lapel, fingers lightly brushing the wool. “I’m quite sure, Jack, that my typing skills would be of no use to either of us.”

Heat crept up his collar, surging through him like a shot. “Then I guess Collins and I will just have to keep suffering.”

Phryne tilted her head, regarding him with a sidelong expression. “Yes, but at least Collins shows up for his appointments on time. He and Dot left for the pictures almost an hour ago.”
He allowed his own lips to twitch into a mischievous grin. “I know. I made sure to send him on his way.”

“You sent Hugh to whisk Dot out for an evening on the town? Why, Inspector, one would think you wanted to be alone!”

You were the one who asked me to dinner tonight, Miss Fisher -- on Mister Butler’s night off.” His voice had dropped an octave, well aware of the undercurrents swirling between them.

The satin of Phryne’s wide-leg pants rustled against his well-creased trouser leg. “I thought a quiet, simple meal in the kitchen would be nice. Mister B even made one your favorites – a gorgeous gratin.” She paused, setting aside first her glass, then his. Her voice was just above a whisper as she leaned toward him. “As to what we do for dessert...”

Every other time they had been this close in the passing months, teetering on the edge of a very dangerous precipice, an interruption had brought everything to a screeching halt. As Jack lowered his lips toward hers, he hoped this evening would be different.

...and then was sorely disappointed as the front bell echoed through the otherwise silent entry hall.

A low grumble rumbled through him, sighing as he made to step back. Even as he did, Phryne pinched his lapels, effectively preventing him from moving. “Not this time,” she said, shaking her head.

Jack allowed his hands to rest on her hips, the unrestricted warmth radiating through the silk confirming what he already suspected: She wore no undergarments beneath. He suddenly found it difficult to breathe. “It-it could be a client.”

Her fingers smoothed through the closely-cropped hair at the nape of his neck. “At this point, I wouldn’t care if it were the king… and I’m hardly dressed for visitors.“ She paused, her lips quirking into an impish grin. She knew he was in on her secret. “Well, other visitors.”

The bell sounded again.

“Phryne – just answer the door.”

Heaving a sigh, Phryne released her grip on his lapels, smoothing the rumpled wool with her fingers as she stepped back. Before she could reach the door, the bell sounded again. Unlike the previous times, however, it did not stop, as though the guest were leaning on the button.

“This better be worth it,” the female detective muttered as she grabbed the doorknob. “If it’s Aunt P, I won’t be held responsible for my actions.”

A complete stranger stood on her doorstep. Of a shorter build, stocky through the shoulders, he wore his hair shaven, the visible growth pattern indicating he’d soon be bald enough without the razor’s assistance. His chin was lowered, blue eyes wide and questioning; he leaned heavily against the doorframe as sweat spilled over his cheeks and soaked his collar. Each breath was obviously a struggle. “Miss Fisher?” he rasped.

Phryne watched his brow furrow briefly, wincing. Her own creased in concern, immediately recognizing that the gentleman was in distress. “I think perhaps you should come in. Jack! Your assistance would be appreciated!”

Jack noted the edge of panic to her voice. Charging forward, he took the man’s arm over his head and bracing it across his shoulders. “Easy,” he said. His voice was strained with the effort. They’d made the turn to the parlor before the stranger’s legs collapsed, almost taking Jack down with him. Jack instead eased him to the tiled floor and Phryne knelt beside him. The questioning blue eyes stared blankly at the ceiling; two fingers at his neck told her he was gone.

The inspector rubbed his hand over his face. “Know him?”

Miss Fisher shook her head. “Not at all.” Frowning, she reached and gently closed the fallen man’s eyelids. She watched as Jack flipped back the lapels of his jacket, opening his vest, checking for wounds. He found none. Phryne then took a moment to inventory the pockets: A stack of business cards from one, a photograph from the other.

“Leslie Pemberton, Investigator,” Jack read the card aloud. “Judging by the fat stack here, I’d say this was Mister Pemberton.”

“Probably a safe conclusion.” Phryne shifted the photograph for a better view: A man and woman, clad in Victorian clothing and holding hands, standing in what was obviously a studio. Recognition prickled across her mind, her brow furrowing. “I...I know who this is.”

The inspector frowned, craning his neck to get a better view of the image himself. He didn’t like the tone that had crept into her voice, nor the way her cheeks drained of their previous color. “You do?”

“That’s Aunt Prudence,” she replied. The furrow in her brow deepened. “But that isn’t Uncle Edward.”

“I’d better go call this in.” Jack sighed. “I guess dinner -- and dessert -- will have to wait.”

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March 2015

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