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Favors by faithdaria

Title: Favors
Rating: Teen
Genre: Humor
Summary: Harry and Murphy trade favors.
AN: (Inspired by a line in White Knight and my own personal experiences)

“Stop squirming, Harry,” Murphy said as she cinched one last strap on the suit. “You promised you’d do this for me.”

“I said I’d owe you one if you got the paperwork squared away for my concealed carry,” I protested. “You never mentioned this.”

“Don’t be such a wimp, Dresden. It won’t hurt.” She smiled at me, one of her rare genuine smiles where her eyes crinkled up. I was a sucker for that smile, which is how I got into this situation in the first place. “This is the highlight of the class for them. It builds confidence, gives them some time to really practice what we learned. Just remember to really try. Don’t hold back physically, otherwise their applications will be flawed.”

I nodded and followed Murphy into a community room filled with women, ranging in ages from about 16 to one or two women who were probably moving past 60. “Ladies,” she called, clapping her hands twice. The women dutifully assembled at one end of the room. “This is Harry. He’s going to be our attacker today. Each of you is going to have a chance to practice what we’ve learned in class by fending off an assault from him. Remember to hit exactly like you would in a real-life situation. Don’t worry about hurting him.” I put on my padded helmet, holding back the sarcastic reply. No wonder she had a hard time getting men to help out with this. Murphy glanced over the crowd. “Alexa! Why don’t you start us off?”

A rail-thin teenager wandered onto the mat, watching me warily. I sized her up, made a move, and she darted past me and ran, stopping at the far side of the room.

“Good! The best thing to do when confronted by someone much larger than you is to run. I’ve done it myself on more than one occasion.” Murphy left out that she had been running from things that were most definitely not human the few times that she had done so. “Lynn?”

A woman in her mid-30’s walked toward me. I grabbed her from behind, and she gave me a half-hearted elbow to the solar plexus that I couldn’t even feel through the padded suit. “No, Lynn, you need to hit harder,” said Murphy, stepping onto the mat. “Harry, attack me.”

Boy, did I not want to do this. I was fairly certain that Murphy could kick my ass with very little effort, and make it incredibly painful with only a little more work. But I obediently grabbed Murphy from behind, and was rewarded with an elbow into the gut that was probably going to leave a bruise even with the padding. “Now you try,” she said, and Lynn stepped up, determination on her face, and repeated Murphy’s actions, her elbow going to exactly the same spot. Yep, definitely going to be a bruise there.

The class went mostly along those lines for another hour, with some women stomping on my instep hard enough to make me very glad for the reinforced boots, a number of women going for the groin with knees and fists and feet and a few going after my nose. Every once in a while, Murphy would step in and demonstrate how something should be done, and how much force was needed. One older lady opted to ‘not put herself in the assailant’s path,’ which Murphy also approved of. I was thrown twice, one time by Murphy and another by one of those ladies in their sixties. Something told me she had some martial arts training. And then, of course, there was sweet little Melissa, who had gone after my nose with her elbow and caught my throat instead. As I lay on the mat, gasping for breath and listening to the poor thing apologize, Murphy pointed out how effective the move was, even though Melissa didn’t technically reach what she was trying for.

Murphy mercifully ended class on that note, and the women trickled out and back to their lives. I took off my helmet and lay back on the nice cool mat. Murphy did a once over of the room to check for any belongings that had been left behind, then came back and nudged me with her foot. “You alive, Harry?”

“I’m recovering,” I told her. “They need to paint the ceiling in here.”

“Really?” She lay down next to me and started up at the ceiling. “Thanks for doing this, Harry. They really appreciated it.”

“Especially Mary,” I said, mentioning the lady who had thrown me.

“She practices on her grandsons. They all play high school football.”

“That explains it.” We were quiet for a time, and then Murphy spoke up again.

“I would have let you out of it if you had really wanted out.”

“I know. That’s why I did it.”