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The Matter of Chicago: A Dresden Files AU
matterofchicago
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July 2013
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Luce [userpic]
BOOK TWO: putting out your fires with gasoline [5/?]

Table of Contents

Title: putting out your fires with gasoline, Book Two of The Matter of Chicago
Rating/Warnings: NC-17! Um. Whoops!
Word Count: This chapter: 5,720. This book: 25,765.

Notes: Okay. This chapter. Um. See rating. That was not intentional. This is a crazy, metatextual, fanservicey one. Hold onto your hats.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four

of trust


The Drake Hotel sat at the top of the Magnificent Mile. From the outside, it was a dull looking building, a throwback to earlier days before Chicago architecture got fancy and innovative. It sat in a nest of high-rises, dwarfed by the height of its neighbors. Its pink neon sign glowed, an immediate eye-catcher amid the golden lights that made up Chicago's night. It wasn't impressive from the outside, but it was a landmark.

We rolled up to the entrance, following a procession of limos and other luxury cars. The guests were arriving and we planned to slip in with the crowd rather than show up late and risk missing the hand-off between the Churchmice and John. It took a while for our limo to make it to the doors.

On the way, I unstopped my potion bottle, and the Knights followed my lead. "Bottoms up." We drank down the veiling tonics. I felt the potion work within me and shifting the air around me. The light looked different as it hit me, the color off and sparkling in strange ways. I was reminded of the way a prism messed with light.

I looked to my companions and noticed that they all looked the same as usual, but blurred slightly, as if I was looking at them through foggy glass. When I squinted, their images became clear, but I could still see the potion's effects.

Sanya was sitting far away from me and had the Outfit pager in his hands. He was giving it all his attention, lips moving silently as he read the messages. "Find anything useful?"

"I'm not certain. I am not sure what to look for."

I thought back to the glimpse I got of the network about two years ago, back when I met Franklin the Friendly Button Man. "Look for anything sent by Hendricks."

"Hm... Ah, here is one." Sanya cleared his throat and read, "C. Hendricks, M arrival at Drake. DTF on alert."

That was John. I didn't know what DTF meant, but C meant command. Hendricks was handing out orders. "So John's M and the Drake doesn't have a codename. That'll make it easy to track--"

Sanya held up a hand, then read another message: "C. Marcone, DTF report contact from sellers immediately."

I blinked in surprise. "John sent out a message himself?"

Michael looked to me. "Is that unusual?"

"Yeah... I mean, I'm not privy to what's going on all the time, but whenever I've seen him hand out an order, he's done it through Hendricks." I'd never even seen John with one of the pagers. Though, I supposed his Blackberry might've been capable of sending that kind of message out. I had no idea how compatible the technology was.

"Sounds as though your John is worried," Shiro said quietly. "If he is getting hands-on about this business with the Shroud."

He did seem to be wound especially tight lately, which was saying something. "I suppose."

"We will likely see for ourselves." Shiro nodded out the window just as the limo stopped. "We are here."

Right. Time to get the show on the road.

We got out, four men in varying degrees of ill-fitting suits, and followed the crowd into the Drake. This was the moment of truth for the potion, and it seemed to hold. The Drake had both solicitous, welcoming hotel staff and looming, intimidating Outfit goons watching over us. No one tried to stop us or even seemed to give us more than a passing glance. It was working.

We walked with the other guests, through the lobby of the Drake (annoyingly high-end and showy, in my opinion) to the Gold Coast Room. It was a cavernous, long room with a tall ceiling. The floors were stone tile, polished to a mirror shine. A few circular tables and accompanying chairs were scattered around the outside rim of the room, leaving the floor open for mingling and dancing. There was a stage at the far end and I could see musicians there, playing a few soft chords as they warmed up. Around the perimeter were ornate columns, each detailed with a winding black vine spiraling upward. Chandeliers, soft light, and servers carrying champagne just made everything all the more opulent and high society.

The only other time I'd been to such a dressed-up event, I was John's date to a gala. At least then I had him to lurk around. It made me feel less out of place. Now, I didn't know what to do. It was Michael who eventually touched my arm and guided everyone to a patch of wall in the corner of the room. Through the columns, we could see people filing in and milling around. There were a lot of smiles both fake and genuine as the glad-handing went on.

Eventually, there was a clearing of someone's throat, loud and artificially amplified. Everyone, myself included, turned toward the stage. And there stood John at the mic, who looked... good. Really good. He always wore suits well-- he'd have to, given how often he wore them. But this was a somehow nicer one, a fitted and elegantly cut tux that just worked in every way mine didn't. He smiled, one of his more real-looking false grins, and I think he said something to kick the soiree off, something gracious and self-aware but commanding. But I was so blindsided by the sight of him I didn't hear the words.

I wanted... I wanted. I wanted, I wanted, but it didn't matter what I wanted and when was I going to get that through my head?

I held my breath until he stepped off the stage and vanished into the crowd. In his wake, a tall man with messy hair and a violin stepped up and started to play something that wasn't classical or even what I considered 'violin music'. It was sweet and somber, though my enjoyment was hampered when I noticed the violinist was inexplicably shoeless, wearing colorfully striped socks. Okay. Weird.

I tore my eyes from him and started scanning the crowd, just keeping an eye on things. "All right. We're in."

"Now what?" Sanya asked.

"Now we wait."

"We wait?"

"Yep." I nodded to one of the waistcoated servers wandering around. "Have some champagne." I sure as hell needed some. I stepped away from the Knights to flag down someone handing out the bubbly as the guy on stage did things to that violin of his that made me wonder if he should buy it a drink first. Damn.

It was easy to spot John when I put some effort into it. I knew how crowds orbited him and I could track him pretty easily from the way people in the room shifted around him. He was sitting at one of the tables, talking amicably to anyone who wandered by. I wouldn't say there was a line of people wanting to talk to him, but some of the guests hung around, waiting for a moment of his time.

Hendricks stood at his side, scanning the room constantly. Steadfast, loyal-to-a-fault Cujo. He seemed to have two operating modes. The first was as John's second in command, making the good ship Mafiosi stay on course, running the network and keeping everyone organized. But nights like tonight, that hat was handed off to someone else as Cujo focused on his actual job title: security. He watched for threats and was constantly ready to get John to safety should something come up.

I found it kind of odd until John explained to me about public image. It looked bad if he revealed to the public just how capable of protecting himself he was. They could deal with a succcessful CEO and a gracious philanthropist, but hints of his potential for violence would just reinforce the idea that he ran the Mob. Which, you know. He did, but people tried not to notice that.

It took me a while to realize that it wasn't just Hendricks hovering around John. One woman was not moving with the ebb of the room. She was tall and blonde and built like a Nordic statue. She was pretty. Okay, scratch that, she was hot, but in a really intimidating way that would put off anyone who wanted to make a move. She was dressed in a blue sheath of a dress, draped elegantly around her shoulders and catching just slightly on her hips, but I could see the muscles on her and the focus in her eyes, and I didn't think for a moment she was somebody's arm candy.

Now that she caught my attention, I extended a bit of my will to explore, an invisible tendril of my power. It meandered along, seeking, and didn't get within fifteen feet of the woman before I felt her magic. It wasn't like mine-- it was older and more closely tied to the woman's nature than her will.

I backed off before she noticed me metaphysically poking her, and slouched against a column, thinking. A woman I'd never seen before who was undoubtedly magical hanging over by John, and while Hendricks did sometimes glance at her, it never looked like threat assessment. So she was supposed to be there.

Oh. Oh hell's bells. She was a consultant. A magic consultant.

I'd been replaced.

I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. It hurt and more than anything I wanted to march over to John and shake him, ask him how long he waited before he called in his back-up practitioner from the wings. Two days and he'd upgraded to Supernatural Assistant 2.0. It didn't help that she was a knock-out. Radiated confidence. Managed to be tall without towering over John and making him look shorter. Improvement in every way.

Stars, I need to get over it. I was being a middle school girl about this.

I watched the three of them for a while, purely for reconnaissance purposes. Then I grabbed a flute of champagne, chugged it, and headed back to the others.

Sanya was still messing with the pager, brow furrowed in concentration. Michael and Shiro were dividing their attention between the room at large and the musician on stage. "Hey. Any news?"

"Nyet," Sanya muttered, barely looking at me. How hard could a pager be?

"It's a very nice party," Michael commented. "Seems like people are having a good time."

I went and put my arm on Shiro's shoulder, leaning companionably. "What about you, Shiro? Liking the music?"

"Hm. Not really. Needs more rock and roll."

I laughed. "I hear ya."

Michael nodded across the room to where I'd been standing before. "Anything useful?"

I shrugged. "John and Hendricks are over there. Got a magic user with them. Tall blonde in a dress."

"There are several women who fit that description here, Harry."

"There may be quite a few tall blondes in dresses, but this is the tall blonde in a dress. You'll know her when you see her."

"Fair enough."

Sanya grumbled to himself, "DTF, DTF, what could that mean? Ne znayu..."

I sighed. "We're going to need a windfall here if this is going to work."

Michael smiled at me, calm and collected. "Have faith and we'll be shown the way."

I snorted loudly, which wasn't the nicest thing to do to the man whose family was offering me a place to stay, but I figured if we were heading in the live-in uncle direction, he needed to be more used to my non-god-fearing nature. "Should I ask Him or Her to move it along?"

He arched an eyebrow at me dryly. "Want to try praying?"

"Oh, why not," I drawled and made a show of clasping my hands and looking upward to the ceiling. "Dear creator of this universe. I have a holy relic to save, but I need a nudge in the right direction. Please, please, use your awesome might to show us the way. Glory, hallelujah, amen." I crossed myself. Twice.

Michael shook his head. "Remind me to never ask you to say grace."

I was about to snark back when Shiro coughed loudly, drawing our attention away from our banter and to the guy who was coming towards us. He was one of John's goons, a beefy college athlete-looking guy squeezed into a tux that was not meant to contain that much beef. He was walking right at us and for a moment I thought the potion had run out prematurely, but the look on the guy's face was... worried. He was biting his lip as he reached out little corner.

"Hey," he asked, voice pitched low. He had a cell phone clutched in his hand hard enough that I wondered if it was hurting his hand. "I gotta send a Task Force message and my pager ran out of batteries. Lend me yours."

I had no idea who he thought we were. The potions must have made us look like members of whatever the Task Force was. To him, we must've looked like fellow goons. Before I could tell him no, we weren't the droids he was looking for, Sanya jumped in eagerly. "Of course. Why do you need it?"

... Task Force. Drake Task Force. DTF. Oh, good job, Sanya.

"I'm DTF alpha, and I'm supposed to let the boss know as soon as the word comes over from the sellers but..." He gave us all a look of complete dismay. "I got a call from my girl. She's gone into labor. She's not due for another month and I just-- I gotta get to the hospital. I have to be there for her!"

Michael, predictably enough, stepped forward and put his hands on the guy's shoulders, quieting him. "All right. All right. Is this your first one?"

The guy nodded, lifting a hand to rub his face, shaking. "Kid? Yeah. Was an accident, but it's... it's a girl, you know?"

Michael's smile was warm and paternal. "My first one was a girl as well. Have a name in mind?"

"Jess gets to pick since she's popping it out." The expectant father got a flicker of a grin. "I don't care. Just want to meet her."

Michael patted him. "Then best you be going. We'll make sure the boss gets your message."

"Thanks. Thank you." The guy clapped a hand on Michael's shoulder then turned to leave the room at a brisk jog.

"Godspeed!" Michael called after him.

I walked over to Michael and said approvingly, "Great. Now we should get that head-start we need on John to get the Shroud. Nice job, Michael."

He bowed his head over his clasped hands and started to pray quietly. I leaned in to hear, "... a safe and quick birth and a beautiful, healthy daughter, Lord..." before tuning him out. I should have known Michael wasn't playing a role there; he really wanted to reassure the goon about his kid.

I rolled my eyes and turned to Shiro and Sanya. "Well, that was lucky."

Sanya nodded once. "An helpful coincidence."

Shiro smirked. "An answered prayer."

"Oh, hell no," I said. "No. I'm with Sanya. Coincidence." Shiro just chuckled and shook his head. "No one asked you, Shiro." The old man looked far too amused.

I wasn't going to give him the benefit of winding me up. I groaned and shucked my hands in my pockets, casting a glance around the room. The violinist had a small band backing him now and had launched into something graceful but briskly paced. A few people had drifted to the open area and started to dance, some more effectively than others. Watching a bunch of tuxedo'ed men and slinky-dressed women enjoy their high society function was fairly entertaining.

But something kept catching my eye. Two green somethings, actually. John was standing across the room, surveying the goings-on. Now, the potions didn't make us invisible. It just made us look like what the viewer wanted to see when they saw us. So far, various people had noticed us briefly, then went onto other things. But John's eyes kept flickering back to me. After a while, he frowned minutely, like he was bothered by something and couldn't figure out exactly what it was.

Oh. Oh hell's bells, I was an idiot.

"We got to go," I said quietly. Then, louder, "Guys, we have to go now. This is about to go really wrong." I turned to check and saw John giving a word to Hendricks and his magical consultant before making his way alone across the crowd. "Shit." I ducked behind a column.

Michael stood on his toes to look. "What is it?"

"John. The potion's not working on him. He's coming this way." I thumped my head back against the column. "It makes people see what they want. John wants to see me." I had to think fast. "Look, he shouldn't see you. You all have to go hide somewhere until you get word about the Shroud."

"And what about you?" Shiro asked.

I considered, then darted forward to Michael. "Hold still," I told him before crudely grabbing a few hairs from his head and yanked. To his credit, he didn't shout, just slapped a hand up to where I'd yanked from. "I got a thaumaturgical link to you. I'll catch up as soon as I lose him." I pointed to the mezzanine exit. "Go that way. I'll lead him away."

"Harry--"

"I know what I'm doing, go!" I lied, and turned and dove into the milling people, headed the opposite direction.

I was at least a full head above most of the guests and it was easy to spot John through the crowd. This time, he looked right at me and recognition was clear on his face. He moved to follow me, to cut me off, stepping agilely around people.

I twisted and changed directions a few times, leading him on a chase. I couldn't head him off for long, but I needed to give the others time to get clear. I definitely felt like some kind of small prey being stalked by a tiger. I didn't look back much because I could feel him closing in. I didn't know what would happen if he grabbed me.

So I needed to be the one to make the next move.

I headed to the dance floor and let John catch up to me. I saw him from the corner of my eye and pivoted, turning to him, and catching him. I pushed, one of my hands holding his, the other touching his side. He reacted liked I thought, taking a quick step away from me. I followed, and he took another backward, and suddenly we were moving together.

Spend almost a year in close quarters with a man, sleeping with him, learning the way he moved and reacted, and your body would sync to his. We didn't always agree on everything, but our bodies had this base, instinctive understanding of each other. I knew the lines of scars on his chest well enough to draw them from memory. And I knew exactly how to push to make him move willingly with me.

Thankfully, the violinist was playing something slow enough I could dance to it. I brought John along for the ride.

It was a minute or so before either of us spoke, just getting used to stepping together and moving in unison. Then John stopped looking around and at our feet and said, "You can dance."

"You don't know everything about me," I told him. "Which works out, since I know nothing about you."

His lips pressed together, annoyed and unhappy. "I never meant to hurt--"

"Save it. I'm over it. So're you, I see." I spun us so I could look over his shoulder at his entourage. "Where'd you pick up Nordic Barbie there?"

"Her name is Ms. Gard," John told me chidingly. "And she's working with me for the evening. She's not meant to replace you, but I do need a consultant for tonight." His eyes kept darting around us. "No one is looking at us. I thought you weren't capable of veils."

"Used a veil in a bottle instead."

"It didn't work."

"Didn't work on you. Stupid oversight, won't happen again." He seemed reassured by the fact that no one was paying attention to us. We weaved across the floor, two anonymous dancers. I could tell it was freeing for John to be able to have that. It wasn't often he could set aside his persona, and most of the time I was the one letting him do so. I loved when he stopped being Gentleman Johnny and was just John. This, for instance. We could have danced together. I wouldn't have minded. After all, he was letting me lead.

John's hand had rested obediently against my shoulder until then. Now he cupped my neck instead, his thumb tracing the line of my throat. He knew where I was sensitive and it didn't take long for me to shiver. "You're here for the Shroud."

"Yeah."

"Why? Why are you doing this?"

Oh, how many times had I asked myself that already. I twined my fingers through his and squeezed. "I have to. I'm the only one that can stop you. It's my responsibility." He nodded, accepting. "I'd stop, you know. If you talked to me. Told me what's going on."

I knew what shame looked like on John's face now, and I saw it then as he let his eyes shift away from mine. "I can't."

"Why?"

"It's my cross to bear. Not yours, not anyone else's."

"But I want to help you!"

John shut his eyes and just let me direct him for a moment. "I know that. God, believe me, I know. And I want you to, but I can't. I have to make things right on my own terms."

I hated this. That this was pulling us apart. Neither of us were remotely happy about it, but what could we do? Stars, I missed him. Everything from his sweet cologne to the softness of his eyes to the way he held onto me, firmly but with a touch of desperation when I started to shift away. I could relate; the last two days had been leagues worse than I expected. I didn't want to let him go either.

Without a word, he changed our grip and nudged my foot aside. Then I was the one walking backwards as he dictated the pace. This song was slower and fittingly enough sounded sad, like a mournful, lovesick cry. I listened for a moment. "Nice music."

"Local talent. Strange man, but Hendricks likes his work."

"I always figured him for an indie type of guy. I know you're not."

"No, jazz and blues, mostly. Some classic rock. Do you know Nina Simone?"

I smirked and hummed a few bars of "Sinnerman." John chuckled. I felt his arm wrap more fully around me and it moved us closer, his breath against my neck, my nose almost in his hair. Oh, Christ, I missed this. I felt like an addict going through withdrawal. The air between us was electric with tension, but muddled with our easy familiarity. Even when we were technically enemies, I couldn't stop wanting him.

I licked my lips and watched his eyes follow the movement. "Last few nights have sucked."

"I agree."

"You too?"

His hand let go of mine and went to my hip, squeezing. "Yes. Between you being as reckless as ever and my usual work and the special circumstances..." His fingers went under my suit coat and he made a soft, annoyed sound when the cummerbund blocked him.

I reached down and grabbed his hand, bringing it back up. "Careful. Don't think the potion will hide you groping me."

"I'd be willing to risk it."

"We are not very good at being on opposite sides, are we?"

"Sherlock had his Irene."

"I think I read a few comics where Batman and Catwoman got it on," I added to make him laugh.

He did, that throaty baritone. "And which of us is which, Harry?"

I sure as hell wasn't Bruce Wayne, so I didn't respond. I took a second to look around the room as subtly as I could. I spotted Hendricks in the crowd, looking quietly fretful as he scanned around, likely looking for John. I couldn't find the Knights. How long had they been gone? Did word come about the Churchmice yet? I was getting wrapped up in John. I needed to get back.

But John quite literally had a hold on me and I wasn't sure how to get away without him giving chase. I may have had longer legs, but John worked out four or five times a week. I could imagine him just tackling me and bringing me down. I was hardly going to attack him. I didn't think I could any more than he could use my Name against me.

I started to lead again, John acquiescing without fuss. I took us back towards the mezzanine exit. John seemed to sense I was moving us with more purpose; his fingers hooked on the cummerbund, holding on.

"Come with me," I said, allowing my voice to go husky and rough. "Just for a second."

John's eyes were dark under half-lids. "Fraternizing with my enemy? That would be incredibly foolish."

I steered us behind a column so I could lean in and run my lips against his temple, skirting over his hairline where he was more salt than pepper. "Do it anyway."

He shut his eyes, exhaled hard against my cheek. "You are going to be the death of me." When he said it, it didn't sound like he was exaggerating. But he stepped away from me and let me take his hand. I tugged and he went, following me.

I kept hold of him, letting the potion work on both of us. Now would not be the time to be recognized. That would ruin my plan. And it was such a good plan, and a lot more ruthless than I was usually capable of. I thought John would appreciate it after he got over the shock and anger. We'd see.

Or maybe not. Maybe he'd just put a bullet in my head for this. Hard to tell sometimes. Every once in a while he threw out such a disproportionate response, it messed with my scale of John Reactions. Ironically enough for a man who put so much weight in assigning value to things, John himself was hard to quantify.

We got away from the soiree and went down the hall. I avoided the rooms that sounded occupied. I found one that wasn't, the lights turned off. I got it open and pushed John inside.

It was a sitting room of sorts. It was dark, with curtains drawn over the windows, blocking out most of Chicago's night. There was a desk and some chairs, and I didn't get to see more than that because John took hold of my shoulders and walked me back until I hit the desk. I went down easily, laid down on the clear wooden surface, and John followed me. His hands got in my hair, holding me still as he kissed me. It was open and wet, no hesitation whatsoever. We apparently didn't have time for anything sweeter.

Not that it wasn't sweet. I could get used to John's weight on me, pinning my hips down. Hell, I was used to it. That was the problem. I rocked as much as I could against him. John made a choked sound in his throat and he suddenly had a knife out. I yelped and tried to shift away, but he had me by the hair and held me still as he sliced through the cummerbund and tore it off me.

"Better," he panted.

"You goddamn lunatic," I growled and pushed myself up. "That was a rental!"

"I'll pay for it," he replied and jerked me forward so my ass almost slid off the desk. He strove against me, pushing, and I stopped protesting and clawed at his back. I yanked his suit jacket off, thinking, yes, please.

John did please. He pleased a lot. He put the knife away and got my pants undone and in two seconds he had me in hand and was stroking. It was barely on the good side of rough and fast, and I groaned, tipping my hips up for it. I was scrambling to hold onto him and avoid falling back on the desk even as I got harder. The whole 'plan' part of this shattered like glass hitting concrete and I was just in it. I got a grip on his shoulder as he continued to jerk me off relentlessly and worked my other hand down to his pants, getting them loose.

I shoved at him, and he didn't move. I pushed him with my knee and he still fought me, so I snapped, "Either let me blow you or I'm going to hex your ass."

John backed off fast. I got up, urged him back until he was down on one of the sofas. A combined effort from both of us got his pants off and I dropped to my knees between his legs and got to it.

Yeah. This wasn't part of my plan. I wasn't precisely in control of what I was doing. I'd been wanting him so much for the last two days and trying to keep a lid on that. Now, it seemed to be boiling over. My mind was a broken record of John John John John.

I leaned down, kissed the crown of his dick and lick wetly at it, just the tip, until his hips stuttered up, trying to get into my mouth. I sucked him down, lips stretched around him, working my tongue. I lacked finesse, but John had never complained. I guess I made up for it with enthusiasm. Especially right now, when we were frantic and spiraling out like a tailspin.

John grabbed my hair, not caring about appearing considerate as he yanked me down. I used the only trick I let him teach me and swallowed so his cock would glide to the back of my throat. He let out an explosive exhale, louder than I'd ever heard him. "Harry. Harry, let me-- come here."

He pulled me up and shoved me down on the sofa, onto my stomach. I got up on my knees, holding onto the armrest, but then John was yanking my pants down and sliding up behind me.

I glared at him over my shoulder. "Don't even think about it. Not without any slick."

John grit his teeth and dropped his forehead against my back. "You are killing me, Harry." He took a deep breath and rutted against me, his dick sliding between my legs, wet from my mouth. He got a hand around me and started jerking me off again, all the while moving his hips against mine. I closed my thighs around him and lay my head on my arms, letting him take care of us both.

I didn't stay still long. Eventually I was thrusting into his hand, and everything between us was friction. I could see through my braced arms and raptly watched his hand move over my cock.

I let out an embarrassing whimper as I came. My arms went weak and I started to slump forward. John wrapped his now-slickened hand around my waist and held me up, working himself that much faster against my thighs. He was talking, like he always did when he was about to come, but my head was whirling too much for me to make sense of what he was saying.

John seized my hips, guided me up to kneel with my back to his front. He drew back, and gave just three more full, long thrusts against me before climaxing. I sucked in a breath at the feeling of it, my head lolling back against his shoulder.

I felt him soften. When I expected him to pull away, he just put his arms around my chest, leaning me further back against him. He nosed at my neck, letting out a deep, happy sigh.

All right. That was really goddamn satisfying. But now I had to get my wits together before John did.

My tuxedo hadn't fit very well. At all. So not only did I have the cummerbund, but I also had a belt to hold up the pants. While John was still enjoying his afterglow, I checked to make sure it was still there. Yep.

I moved, shifting us so I was laid out with John lying on my back. Then I wiggled out from under him, sliding sideways off the sofa. I hushed him as I did and he mumbled incoherently at me. I guess it'd been pretty satisfying for him too.

I got my pants up before pulling the belt quietly out of them, trying not to make a sound. I poured my will into the strip of leather, making good use of the post-coital buzz John had given me. A few years ago, I wouldn't be able to pull this off, but I'd gotten a lot of practice in since then. I had that luxury, all thanks to John. Now I was going to use it against him.

I focused, directed my will, and said, "Manacus."

The belt shot from my hands and wound around John's wrists before he knew what was happening. Immediately he was completely awake and snarling. "Harry!"

"Sorry, John. I really, really am, but you're not getting that Shroud." I turned tail and ran. John was on his feet in a second, but his legs must have been jelly after such a rough round of sex and I heard him hit the ground.

It wasn't a lot of leeway, but I put it to good use. I got out of the room, slamming the door behind me. There was an ornate table nearby and I shoved it until it blocked the door.

No one knew where John was. I'd had him veiled as I removed him from his protection detail. By now, the Churchmice had to be in position. So while the DTF looked for John, the Knights must've been closing in on the Shroud.

God. Sometimes it's almost like I actually know what I'm doing.

I heard something break on the other side of the door and decided not to waste any more time. I ran before the guilt could catch up to me.

Chapter Six


You know how some authors go on about how they can't control their characters and are just writing what they're doing? I always thought that was kind of BS. Until now. Now I get it. WOW, we went off script here.

I know some of ya'll wanted a DVD commentary on one of the chapters. This is the first time I thought I'd have a lot to say about a chapter. Hm...

ETA: DVD Commentary for this chapter available here.

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Comments

Wow, great chapter. As soon as John gets over being pissed off at Harry he is going to be really impressed by Harry's planning. And you still do awesome things with OCs.

Thank you! And yeah, a bit. At least Harry's learning to be slightly ruthless. That should be somewhat reassuring to John.

oh my god!

You have no idea how much I look forward to your posts!

This is so heart breaking and amazing all at the same time.

I want to smack John! If he would just tell Harry it would solve so many problems! I can't wait till the next chapter!

Yes, but if John just told Harry what was going on, we'd all assume he was a body snatcher. So. Yanno. Glad you liked it!

I- there- holy crap. Yay for surprise NC17 and these two really just need to learn how to talk to each other. But it might make it less entertaining for us. And the thing, with Harry taking advantage of Marcone's sex stupid state to tie him up? Brilliant!

I gotta say, I don't know who you might have really been hinting at with the music and the 'strange local man', but my brain went to Butters before I remembered he only does the Quasimodo Polka. :)

John and Harry are so perfect for one another. They're complimentarily crazy.

WHY TALK WHEN YOU CAN HAVE BARELY PRIVATE SEX? But yeah, surprise to everyone including me.

The violinist is Chicago artist Andrew Bird. Behold. I told ya'll this was the weird self-indulgent chapter.

Edited at 2011-04-16 03:56 am (UTC)

I knew I was right about John noticing Harry through the potion. I wasn't expecting the steaminess, though! Yowza!

Wait Harry, seducing John is going to help you find the shroud? I don't get it ohhhhhhh

Poor John. He had that whole thing where Harry was both his weakness and his strength. Then Harry left him and he lost the strength part. Now Harry's not just a weakness for other people to exploit, he's an enemy with intimate knowledge of everything about John. That must suck.

So John's not the only one with the idea of locking someone up to keep them out of trouble? There's no way he's telling Harry anything now, though. That move had to hurt. This whole thing has to hurt so bad. :(

You were indeed! Bravo! :claps:

YES YES YES. Yes, everything you said. John is not going to be happy with himself for not just tolerating such a massive weakness but letting it screw him over like this. ♥ I'm glad that came through.

I think it just means that your characters are so fully realized in your head that they must act certain ways and you can't deny them without denying what you've already constructed. Some of my best writing has come after wrestling characters, then letting them win.

Great chapter. I loved how it all felt perfectly choreographed, the way good suspense scenes in movies do, especially while they danced.

That was definitely the case here. I was going to go back and "fix" the chapter to get rid of the sex, but it kind of worked for John and his thing about strength vs weakness, so it stayed. Surprise, porn!

Aw, thank you. 8D

Oh, Harry, no. What you just did there is going to be the hardest thing for him to get over. (Headdesk) Dammit, John, COMMUNICATE!

fffff John Marcone, voluntarily divulging information about himself? Surely you kid.

The longing in this chapter...poor Harry and John at odds. :(

Really enjoyed the Molly section, too. And Toot!

Loved this line: "God. Sometimes it's almost like I actually know what I'm doing."

Lots of longing. Harry's got it bad, the poor dear. Thanks for reading~!

Holy crap, Harry, that was either the smartest thing you've ever done or the dumbest! John will not be pleased ... ::worried::

If it were canon!harry, you'd be getting a raised eyebrow. But considering how intimate - repeatedly - moc!harry has been with John, it seems like a valid tactic. (That might be where your objection is coming from, that canon!harry could never pull this off.)

Looking forward to more!

Yeah, I just sat down and wrote a DVD Commentary on this chapter (not sure if I'm gonna post it, but yanno). There's a lot of differences between canon! and MoC!Harry.

But I think my biggest objection came from STOP HAVING SEX, WE ARE ON A TIMETABLE HERE. Oi. :laughs:

OMG YES POST POST POST!

Timetables are overrated.

FFFF I'll maybe post it in the morning. It's, like, 1:40 AM now and I'm not sure how good it is.

It's a DVD commentary - it's as good as it needs to be (trust me, worse has been published).

And so what it's 1:40! (Also, ♥ janelle!)

Here you go, you pushy jerkface meanie.

I am going to sleep now. Ugh.

Oh sweetie, thought you said it was done when I responded! I'm sorry for keeping you up!

S'fine. I was just putting in the HTML.

Legit going to sleep now. :zzzzz:

This is awesome and great. Heh, the characters taking hold of the story is fun: if you like roller-coaster anyway. It happens sometimes to me and then you have to hold on, let them do their thing and enjoy the ride, all the time cursing a blue streak because they don't listen and you know what's best, damn it!

I think John will be impressed, yes, but he's also going to be so very pissed (at himself more than Harry), and I don't know if he's ever going let himself be as carefree in his afterglow with Harry again, not even after they patch things up. John strikes me as the kind of paranoiac guy, who will rather err on the side of caution than allow himself to be blindsided like that again. Harry used misused the trust.

Then again, so did Marcone, because freezing Harry's account because Harry wouldn't obey him is in character, but also a breach of trust on Marcone's side. Harry, too, (if he knows what's good for him) is going to learn from this fiasco and is going to be better prepare with resources (magical and otherwise) in case it happens again. God knows, if I were him, I'd get an apartment again, one that is not controlled by Marcone. Even if he doesn't live on it.

re: account freezing, oh yeah. The breaking of trust goes both ways. To be utterly juvenile about it, John did start it, and you should start as you mean to go on. Trying to murder a priest and ordering your boyfriend around? Not a great start.

They both have a lot to deal with, basically. 8D

Um, wow. Love this series, and love the smut. Hehehe. Awesome. Keep up the good work.

See, this was ridiculously hot and all, but all I can think about is how John's going to feel about what Harry just did and what it'll do to their relationship (on top of what John already did to Harry with the freezing of accounts and not sharing important info and what that already did to their relationship) and I have complete faith they'll come out of all this stronger than they went in (and they did need this) but holy shit I just need them to be happy and back together already, because this is breaking my heart.

...holy run on sentence, Batman.

Um, basically, I love this lots and it's breaking my heart in all the best ways. :D

I promise once everything in this arc is resolved, they will take a little bit to spend some time together and just be happy. It's in the outline and everything. But first, yes, they need to do this.

Glad you're liking it.

John, Harry, what the fuck are you doing to each other?! /incoherent sounds of frustration/ Stop stomping on each other's feelings, on purpose or not.

But sadly, this is very in-character for them both. John has the control thing and Harry has the impulsive thing. Also that FoeYay-ness, which still applies to them even when they've worked together in this fic. Sherlock and Irene, Batman and Catwoman--so very appropriate analogies for these two. (And any mention of Batman and Marcone in the same page just makes me happy.)

AWESOME.

I am freaking proud of Harry, that was awesome xD

Ooh, what a fantastic chapter!

Oh my. This chapter has a lot of intense moments doesn't it?

First it's Harry feeling "replaced", then the hot dancing(sex) scene, and Harry taking advantage of the situation b/c John won't tell him what's going on.

They really need to stop and just communicate. Maybe Hendricks will lock them in a room together or something?

I know John must be hurting badly, but he was sorta asking for it by refusing to tell Harry what's wrong and trying to control Harry. ...There should be a sticker somewhere that warns everyone how much it is NOT recommended for anyone to try to control Harry Dresden.

*ponders what DTF means*

Hey, Harry! Meet Miss Gard! (and oh.... poor Harry. D:)

Ooh, so that what DTF means.

DAMNIT YOU MORON! TALK! mMLKXzmnk.fdfmnklznklzxxmkzx!!!! *headdesk*

Clearly Harry, you get stuck being the Girl. ('cause there is no way you are Batman or Sherlock.)

*stares at the end* Well. It going to be awhile before this end 'well'.

Also Guys? If I could actually punch through my computer and hit you, I would punched the both of you. :|

AWESOME! Can't wait for the next chapter! THis is brilliant!

Awesome but I think there is a slight continuity error, in that I swear Marcone used his pager just before he and Harry were attacked by Bianca in book 1?

Sorry I just woke up so may not be following: how is that an error....?

You said that Harry had never seen John use a pager, but I think (I may be mistaken) he used one earlier.

Oh, he has one. He just doesn't use one. He relays all his messages through Hendricks. He certainly follows the network itself though.