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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 (7/?)

Table of Contents

Title: putting out your fires with gasoline, Book Two of The Matter of Chicago
Rating/Warnings: Back to PG, for violence.
Word Count: This chapter: 4,736. This book: 37,235.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six


I spent the drive to the Carpenters with the car's heat on full blast, shivering in the passenger seat, and trying to explain to Franklin why I was bruised and wearing just boxers and a tuxedo shirt. Explaining that without cluing him in on the demon-possessed psychopaths wanting to destroy Chicago with the Shroud of Turin was... difficult. I managed. Don't ask me how. I think maybe I looked so pathetic, he took mercy on me and stopped asking.

Eventually, he dropped me off in front of the Carpenters' house. I was worried about having to stumble up the yard to the door, but no sooner did I climb out of the car that Charity was striding out to meet me, Daniel in tow.

Franklin looked conflicted. "I'm not sure I should let you go, sir..."

I waved him off. "You never saw me. I never saw you. What Marcone doesn't know won't hurt him." I slugged his shoulder lightly. "Thanks for the ride."

"'Course, Mr. Dresden. Good luck with... whatever it is you're doing."

"Will do." I'd need luck to figure out what was happening and stop it. And if I didn't... "Hey, Franklin?"

"Yeah?"

"Marcone give you sick leave?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Take a few days. Get out of town. There's this nice little town in Michigan, Coeur d'Coeurs. Go visit it."

Franklin gave me a wide-eyed look. "Uh. That a threat or advice?"

I smiled solemnly at him. "Bring your family. Wouldn't want to leave them behind."

He nodded slowly. "Okay. Okay. Gotcha. Right. I'll go do that." I stepped back from the car and he pulled away, going a mite fast, I thought. I didn't mean to scare him but having Franklin being caught in the possible destruction of the city when I could prevent it would just be a waste. Franklin was a good kid.

"Holy crap," Daniel said as he looked at me.

I thought about saying something pithy like 'you should see the other guy,' but there were bigger fish to fry. Whale-sized fish. "Are Michael and Sanya here?"

Charity shook her head. "No. Shiro left a few hours ago and they went after him." After a beat, she realized, "You didn't ask about Shiro though."

"Inside," I said simply. She nodded and both of them helped me make my way inside. The vibrant pain had faded, but now my entire body was aching faintly. My muscles felt ready to lock up, which would be unpleasant to say the least.

"Uncle Harry," Daniel breathed once we were inside the house, looking at my hands. I looked down to see the deep gashes in my wrists under the manacles, marks left from my frantic attempts to gather my magic. It looked like I'd shaken hands with Edward Scissorhands.

"Oops?" I said.

Charity looked me over and frowned deeply. "Daniel, go call your father and Sanya, get him back here. Molly!" Molly poked her head out of the kitchen. "Get Harry a bag of ice for his bruises."

"Oh my god," she said, looking at me with shock. "What happened?"

I smiled, then winced when that hurt. "Long story. Best to wait until everyone's back here so I don't have to retell it. Basically, I met Nicodemus."

Behind me, Charity sucked in a breath and left the room. Molly pointed to a kitchen chair. "Sit."

I did. Not because she told me to, but because I wanted to. I slumped in the chair, laying my head back and shutting my eyes. I was tired. Chloroform-induced sleep was not very restful and I'd taken a few beatings in the meantime. I wanted to face-plant into one of the empty beds in the house and sleep until I was rested.

But Shiro was out there, stuck with a powerful lunatic. And Chicago was in danger. There was no rest for the wicked, which meant I had to be just as vigilant. I could sleep when the day was saved.

Molly cleared her throat and I opened one eye to see her brandishing a ziploc bag filled with ice wrapped in a dish towel. I took it from her and pressed it to my bruising cheek. I could feel my skin coloring darkly in a fan from the corner of my mouth almost clear up to my ear. "Thanks."

"Do you need anything?"

"Water?" I croaked, suddenly aware of how dry my mouth was. "And food?"

Charity returned then, a large white box with a red cross on it under one arm. She handed it off to Molly. "I'll make something. Molly is still banned from the kitchen after the last time she tried to cook something."

Molly blushed. "I bought you a new frying pan!"

"I rest my case." Charity squeezed Molly's arm. "Patch him up. I'll make something in the meantime."

Molly nodded reluctantly. "'kay." As her mother moved into the kitchen and started working her magic, Molly pulled up a chair next to me and opened the first aid kit.

"You know what you're doing, Mols?"

Molly smirked a little. "I know my way around first aid. You've met my parents, right?"

Good point. The way Charity ran the household, I sometimes wondered if baby Carpenters went through a boot camp of some sort to learn how things were run in the house. Or maybe they were all just born knowing that Mom's word was law unless you could get Dad to help out without her knowing. Michael was the softie when it came to his kids. Not that Charity wasn't capable of softness. I'd heard rumors she was. Maybe someday I'd catch her in the act.

Molly got out some antiseptic wipes and started to clean my face and wrists. I was fairly bloodied, staining the wipes red in short order. She went through five of the things before my skin was clean. With the blood out of the way, she could see the deep cuts in my wrists. She hissed in sympathetic pain. "Hey, Mom!"

"Yes, Molly?"

"Do I need to stitch these?"

"No, leave them open. He might get an infection."

I shook my head and called back to her, "I don't get infections, Charity."

Charity stepped out of the kitchen and took one of my hands, looking at the wounds. She pursed her lips, surveying the damage severely. "Your choice. You'll need them eventually to help the cuts heal correctly, but if you're going to be fighting more tonight, they'll only rip."

"We'll do it later then," I said.

She nodded and went back to cooking. "Wrap them up, Molly."

Molly set to it. I got a smear of translucent cream over the wounds before she pushed the manacles up my arms as far as they would go. She put soft, cottony gauze down first, then wrapped me up with the sterner stuff. She clipped the gauze in place. "There."

I grinned at her handiwork. "Not bad, kid. Looks much better."

She sighed, looking at my face. "You still look like crap with your face like that."

"Yeah, 'cause I look so smart and debonair the rest of the time," I snipped.

"Hey, some people go for ridiculously tall and gangly."

"I prefer tall, dark, and handsome."

She seesawed her hand back and forth. "Eeeh."

"Oh, thanks." I rolled my eyes.

Molly plucked at the metal chain between my cuffs. "So, is this a fashion statement? Very Hot Topic."

"Hot what? No, they're thorn manacles. They're to help control a wizard." I waved my bandaged wrists at her. "I try to focus my will, they stick thorns into me until I stop. The harder I pull, the further they dig in."

Molly went very pale very quickly. "Thorns?"

"Yep." After I debriefed Michael and Sanya, I needed to steal away to see Bob. Hopefully Bob would have some ideas to get the damn things off me.

Charity brought out a plate of sandwiches and basil tomato soup. As she did, the Knights manifested their most handy superpower. They wielded the power of coincidence as handily as they did their swords. When their presence would be most convenient or helpful, they showed up. Like magic, or like the will of God, I guess. The moment I picked up a sandwich, they walked into the house.

"Harry," Sanya said. "You're alive."

I saluted with my sandwich. "I'm harder to kill than a cockroach."

Michael looked around the room. "Shiro?"

My good humor swiftly died. "You're going to want to sit down," I said. "This is a long story."



At the end of it, the first question I got was, "Ice?" from Sanya.

They took the news of Nicodemus having traded my life for Shiro's pretty well. As they listened, Michael got out that sharpening stone to run along his blade again. Sanya borrowed it halfway through and worked at Esperacchius. It was disquieting to watch two men like them growing quietly angry and determined as I filled them in. I was just glad their righteous wrath wasn't directed at me.

"Yeah. Magical, I think. I couldn't really probe too much with these on," I said, rattling my chains.

Sanya got up and walked to me. "Put your hands on the table."

I did, eyeing him suspiciously. "Why?"

"If we are to save Shiro, we will need those off you." He hefted up his rapier.

I jerked my hands back under the table to safety. "How about no?"

"I am not going to hurt you, Harry. Trust me, please."

I stared up at him until I started to feel the tug of a soulgaze, then darted my eyes away. "Okay." I rested my hands on the table.

Sanya reached out and moved me so my arms were lined up and the manacles pressed together. Then he lifted Esperacchius and said something in soft Russian. He swung downward, and it took every ounce of my considerable will to remain still.

Sanya had the sword turned so the sharp edges faced harmlessly outward. He hit my manacles with the flat of the blade. The force reverberated for a second, then the manacles just broke, coming to pieces like shattered glass.

I lifted my hands out of the wreckage of Fae metal. I drew in my will and felt it come readily to me. I pushed a little out through my shield bracelet, forming a blue disk of force, and smiled. "Thanks."

"Da," Sanya said, sitting down again.

Michael nodded approvingly. "So as I see it, we need to figure out what that ice magic is and get around it to save Shiro."

It hurt to shoot him down, but I said, "No. I think that'll just waste time. Look, Nicodemus is dealing with fate and destiny and serious magic with the Catholic artifact. I know he needed a sacrifice for his ritual. Now he has Shiro. Even if we find a way back to the part of Undertown he was hiding in, I don't think he'll be there anymore. When you have all the ingredients to a complicated ritual and warriors of God wanting to stop you, you're not going to wait around."

Michael's face fell, the sobriety of the room growing thick enough to cut as he did. "All right, Harry. Then we need to find where this ritual will be?"

"Yeah. Human sacrifice and usage of artifacts is a heavy duty magic. He's going to need a good place for his ritual," I said.

"A good place?"

"You got a map of Chicago somewhere?"

Michael got up, left, and came back with four pieces of printer paper. He lay them on the table, arranging them so the printed images lined up to a picture of Chicago.

I grabbed a pen, uncapping it with my teeth. I started drawing out lines across the map. "Ley lines." I circled a few high-traffic areas of the city. "Kinetic hotspots." I put a dot over Bundy Fountain, the Bean, and a few other landmarks. Then I started marking points where the leylines crossed over at significant places. By the time I was done, the map was dotted with possible locations.

“That's where he will set up the ritual?” Michael asked, looking over my handiwork gravely. “There are many places to consider.”

I exhaled hard and ran a hand through my hair. “Worst of it is, that's just the places I know. I mean, I've lived here a long time, but I don't know the city inside and out. This is one of the largest cities in the world. I doubt anyone knows everything about it.”

Michael lifted his head and gave me a long look over the table.

“What?”

He just kept staring at me.

What?

“Someone who knows everything about Chicago, Harry.”

Oh. Oh no. “No. I can't, Michael. I just can't. Even if I could, he won't help.”

Michael tipped his head to the side, staring hard at me. “Won't help? You believe that if you tell him the stakes, tell him what's needed, he won't come to our aid?”

“Look, Dusty Springfield, if you're so eager to jump in bed with the mob--”

Sanya, who'd been watching us with interest until then, started at that. “Wait, who are we talking about?”

“John. Michael wants me to call John in on this.”

“Why won't you?” Michael pressed.

“I...” I looked down at the table, at the map I'd littered with pen markings. I had pointed out more than twenty possible locations, and I was sure there were more. With just Michael, Sanya, and I, there was no way we could cover that ground. We could whittle it down to what seemed most likely. But if a location we took out ended up being where Nicodemus was going to do his ritual, we'd be screwed. We had the benefit of the Knights' heaven-gifted luck on our side, but those were still terrible odds.

Or I could call John. John, who could have his men help us watch the city. Who knew it even better than I did and could offer his insights.

John, who I had figuratively and literally fucked over earlier this evening.

“I don't know if he'll come,” I told Michael faintly.

“So you won't even try?”

I didn't want to. I already suspected John would refuse to help me because of what I did. I didn't want to go through the act of asking him and having my fears confirmed. It was easier this way, at least for me.

But there was always a chance he'd help. Hell, this was the only way he was going to get his hands on the Shroud at this point. All his spent money and hired labor would be for naught if he didn't help us get the Shroud back from Nicodemus. He'd play along to secure his investment. That sort of thing was important to him. He'd always been good at putting aside the personal for the sake of the professional.

He probably wouldn't help. But there was a chance he would.

I excused myself to the kitchen, picked up the old corded phone, and dialed.

I got rerouted to Robinson, the secretary who never used five words for what could be said with two. “Yes?”

“It's Harry Dresden,” I told her. “I need to talk to John.”

“He's out. You have to make an appoint--”

“Look, lady, it's an emergency. Put me through to him.”

“He's out, Mr. Dresden. Call back another time.”

I growl curled out of my throat before I could stop it. “Listen, Maggie Gyllenhaal, I know he's pissed at me. I know I ruined his plans. I know that I'm the fucking persona non grata of the Outfit right now, but I got a powerful lunatic possessed by a Fallen Angel and his posse of equally insane minions ready to do something nasty to Chicago, and we don't stop it, Johnny-boy's not going to be having any more office hours!” I took a deep breath. “Also, if he does this, he has a shot at that thing he really wants. It's just smart business, right?”

The secretary was silent for a long moment. “I'll put you through, Mr. Dresden, but Mr. Marcone is taking care of some very sensitive work right now. He may not answer.”

I let out a long, relieved, tired sigh. “Thank you.”

The line cut and I was subjected to more ringing. I must've been forwarded to John's Blackberry. He never went anywhere without it.

It rang for ten seconds, then fifteen, and my chest went cold with dread. The call went to voicemail. No message, no 'leave your name and number after the beep.' Just the beep.

"John. It's-- you know who it is. Look, I'll just lay it out for you. The Denarians have the Shroud and Shiro, the Japanese Knight I was working with. I don't know the details, but they're going to set up a ritual in Chicago. Something big and nasty. I know we're not... not allies, right now, but I need someone with resources and knowledge of the city. This isn't a matter of you and me, it's a matter of everyone."

I licked my lips. "If it helps, I'm asking. Please."

I moved to hang up the phone, then stopped and thought about what had happened. Setting it against my ear again, I mentally scrambled to think of what to say. Sorry for using our relationship against you? I hated not being on the same side? If you just told me what was going on, this never would've happened?

I miss you?

That... sounded good. I licked my lips and started, "John, I--"

The voicemail cut me off, telling me if I wanted to leave a call back number to press one. I hung up the phone and shut my eyes. Dammit.



I got as prepared as I could for what was to come. I changed back into my clothes and duster, kept my staff with me, and tucked a few sealed potion bottles into my pockets. My blasting rod was gone, probably lost to whatever Chicago street Nicodemus snatched me up from. In its place, I wrapped my swordcane in the cord in my duster. I finished eating, then sat down, holding more ice against my face. Michael made everyone coffee. It was closing in on one AM and I just wanted to sleep.

We were waiting. No one talked about it, but I think everyone was going to give John an hour to respond to my call. If he didn't it would be three of us against not so much Nicodemus but time and Chicago's massive sprawl. No one liked the odds, but what choice did we have?

To my great and eternal surprise, it didn't come to that. About forty-five minutes after my call, there was a polite knock at the door. It was soft, but I startled at the sound, whirling to stare.

Michael went to open it, giving me a pat on the shoulder as he passed.

And there in his grey and black combat fatigues with Hendricks and Gard flanking him was John.

"Mr. Carpenter," John said in his most urbane tone. "I've been led to believe we have a common interest tonight."

Michael stepped back and carefully did not invite anyone in. John and his entourage entered. His eyes found me quickly, took in my bruised and beaten state and... did nothing. No single blink, no emotion hidden under his eyes, not so much as a change to the pace of his brathing.

I looked away, heart clenching painfully. What was it? Did he have such a tight grip on his control tonight or did he just not care? Hell's bells, Cujo reacted more, moving to surreptitiously stand closer to me than his boss, scanning me with his eyes. He made a questioning sound.

I shrugged. "I had a big evening. Met Nicodemus, got offered a membership to the Nickelhead Club, learned what it's like being chloroformed."

"Exciting night," Cujo opined, voice barely a whisper.

"I like to party hard."

"Clear," Gard said suddenly, returning to John's side. I hadn't noticed her slipping away. John's eyes darted sideways to her for the briefest of seconds before he helped himself to the seat across from me at the kitchen table.

"Thank you, Ms. Gard." He folded his hands in that prim, businesslike way he had. He picked at a fingernail, like removing a speck of dried blood. "Now, it would be pertinent to reveal where I've just come from."

Sanya walked over and sat on the table next to me, crossing his arms. "Why is that?"

John lifted his eyes to mine, catching them without effort. "It would at least explain why I was so tardy in responding to your call. I was otherwise occupied on the South Side. Mount Greenwood, to be specific."

I was out of my chair before the words fully sank in. "You son of a bitch."

"Calm down, Harry."

"You killed him, and you expect me to calm down!?"

Sanya looked to Michael, who'd gone white in the face. "Who?"

Michael sat down heavily. "Father Vincent."

John raised a single finger and said, "No, actually. Father Vincent is dead, but it wasn't by my hand. I killed someone else tonight."

I glared across the table at him. The fuzzy warm feelings I had earlier about him were gone. Thank god, they were embarrassing. "What do you mean, he's dead?"

He steepled his hands and rested his chin on his interlinked fingers. "Blood makes noise, Harry. When important people are killed, word gets out, no matter how hard one tries to cover the evidence."

"Enough with the vague, we're on a timetable here," I snapped at him.

"Very well," he said indulgently. "I've been working to secure the Shroud of Turin for some time. Such an operation required me to keep watch over the minutiae of the Church. I heard word that Father Vincent was killed recently. A follow-up report found the initial to be incorrect, as the Father was still doing his rounds, attending to Vatican business. Mistakes do happen in the field, but not often mistakes of that magnitude. I took note of what happened, but otherwise went about my business. The death of one man isn't very important in the long run."

Michael rubbed at his beard, thinking. "But then he was the person sent to retrieve the Shroud."

"Exactly. The coincidence was too great. I sent a team to look into the matter."

"You could have mentioned," I said to him sourly.

He did his eyebrow thing at me. "As you could have mentioned who the Denarians were to me?"

I grit my teeth and looked away.

John went on. "At the Drake, you may recall, Knights, we had a bit of a Denarian problem. I'm given to understand you took care of one such being and saved the Churchmice's lives so they could be taken into custody." So the thieves had survived. Good. I guess. They weren't great people, but I didn't wish Deirdre on anyone. "My people and I held off another so Harry could escape with the Shroud." John's lips pressed together briefly, unhappy about something. Probably that minutes after saving the Shroud, I'd managed to lose it. "Those two vanished into Undertown, but the third--"

"Whoa. Whoa, wait." I held up a hand. "Third?"

John nodded. "After you got away, a third Denarian appeared. It was similarly monstrous like its companions, but snake-like. When it left, it didn't go the same way. It went South. I called a helicopter and had it followed to Mount Greenwood."

Maybe my mind couldn't do that click-click-click thing John's could, but a few big pieces slotted into place for me. "Father Vincent was a Denarian?"

"Your fake Father Vincent certainly was. He's apparently quite adept at illusions. Upon confronting him, he kept up his charade for a while, but when violence entered the equation, he changed." John inclined his head to Gard, standing by his shoulder. "Ms. Gard was integral in subduing him and allowing me to question him."

Sanya looked unconvinced. "And how did she do that? Denarians are very powerful beings."

Gard gave him a stare that would freeze blood. "As am I." She reached into the breast pocket of her combat vest and drew out a fold of cloth. "And the Denarian's power was severely weakened once it was separated from its coin."

Both Knights jolted, looking at the cloth like it was a nuclear weapon with a declining timer. Michael held out a hand slowly. "We'll dispose of it."

John shook his head. "No, you won't. My associate at MonOc will be taking it as partial payment for any services rendered tonight. Given the short notice support Mr. Vadderung has supplied me with, I would be rude to refuse him."

"The coins need to be kept away from those who would use them," Michael countered, a low rumble of anger in his voice.

"It will be," Gard said, and put the coin away again. "We can guard it with more power than your Church can."

"It is our duty to deal with the Denarius."

"Tell me, how many times has Nicodemus Archelone destroyed the Knight's archives and compromised your security?"

Michael went stony and silent, looking more pissed than I'd ever seen him. I thought he and Gard were about to throw down.

I sighed and looked back to John. "What'd you find out from the Denarian?"

John nodded, apparently pleased I put us back on track. "Quintus Cassius was using you. With any luck, you would bring the Shroud right to the Denarians, not to mention leave yourself vulnerable to be taken by them. You could turn the Knights, have them help you in the process of aiding Nicodemus. It was all very vindictive." He sounded a little impressed. "What exactly the Shroud is for, he didn't know. Cassius was only privy to small details about the ritual. Apparently, the ritual will be bringing back one of the Classics."

"Classics?"

"Forgive me for not remembering the exact order but... Blood. Frogs. Lice and flies. Killing the livestock. Boils. Hail and storm. The locusts. The darkness. The death of the firstborns."

Oh. The Classics. The Ten Plagues of Egypt, apparently levied by God against the Pharoah and the Egyptians in Biblical times. God in full Old Testament mode.

I swallowed thickly, something akin to fear pooling in my gut. "That makes sense with what Nicodemus told me."

John gestured to me. "I've shared what I know. Perhaps you'll do that same."

"Not much that you don't already know. Whatever he's doing, he needs a powerful sacrifice. That was going to be me until..." Shiro. "Apparently Chicago's cropping up a lot with the precogs. And... you and me."

Oddly enough, that was what got a reaction from him. He blinked at me and one hand curled into a fist. "Precogs. Precognitive people?"

"Yeah. Destiny and fate and all that tripe."

"Did Nicodemus say destiny or fate specifically?"

I frowned. "Yeah. The prescient members of the magical community have been talking about us."

John's face was blank, but blank in that way that meant it was just a mask. He was doing the clicking thing in his head. Something about what I said rang some serious alarm bells in his head. After a moment, he just said, "I've been told as much by an associate of mine. I hadn't given much weight to it until now." He shook his head. "Anything else?"

"Uh... Nothing specific. I know he thinks I'm going to die in the crossfire. That's why he offered me a coin."

John stood and leaned to place his hands on the table. "And tell me, Harry. Which of the plagues will ensure both our deaths, along with devastating the citizenry of Chicago?"

I looked over at Michael, who didn't give me anything. "Look, unlike some people in this room, I didn't attend Sunday school as a kid."

John stared hard at me over the table. "Let me narrow it down for you; I was an only child."

Firstborns. John and I were both first (and only) children. Nicodemus was going to pull out the tenth Plague, and kill every first-born child in the city, including John and me.

And, "Molly," Michael breathed, horror on his face.

Right. This wasn't about John and me. It was about everyone. Back in Egyptian times, people had large families. It was more likely you'd be a second-, third-, fourth-born than a firstborn. But today? That wasn't so. It would wreck the city.

Things had, undoubtedly, gone from bad to really goddamn awful.


Chapter Eight

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Comments
Page 1 of 2[1][2]

Oh boy. Are possibly looking at an early entry of Thomas? You leave me more excited with every new chapter.

Nope. Thomas won't be around until the next arc, sorry.

Ohh, Harry, you just don't know. I may be a terrible person for dancing around in glee at the idea of mass apocalyptic chaos, but damn, it sounds awesome.

Also, plus one for John being the one to out Cassius. Not that Harry didn't go BAMF on him in the book, but I have a feeling John just did him one better by siccing Gard on the snakey bastard.

I'm an odd one-- I don't like Harry taking out Cassius in the book. Beating someone with a baseball bat makes me very D8 D8 D8

But I imagine Gard literally ripped the Denarius out of Cassius, which is pretty gruesome in its own way...

I'm feeling strangely disappointed that Harry didn't get to beat the crap out of Father Vincent. Love your writing, but Harry seems so much...less epic than his canon counterpart. He seems content to just let John handle everything, and it's rather unsettling to the point that I hope Harry somehow gets suckered into becoming the Winter Knight.

Although, Harry hasn't done anything to catch Mab's attention.

This Harry doesn't really feel like his own person. He seems to have completely lost his independence, and...God...he seems weak, to me. He has closer relationship with people, but he...is such a damsel in distress.

Sometimes the hero needs to be a hero, and this Harry...isn't. At all.

He, uh. I'm not going to complain anymore. I love the way you write the characters, aside from Harry. You have such a talent for writing, and your descriptions are wonderful. The fight scenes are interesting, and well-paced. The pain and injuries are realistic.

Wow. Ouch.

I have various reasons for not having Harry handle the Cassius thing. For one, I don't find beating someone with a baseball bat "epic" and that scene in the books always disturbed me, especially the Knights laughing about it afterward. Also, I am not writing Death Masks. I don't want to write the same scenes Butcher did. If you want to read DM, you can go read DM. If I play it too close to canon here, I'm failing.

I'm not writing canon. I don't want to write canon. If that's what you're expecting out of this, then with all due respect, this isn't the fic for you. There are plenty of people interested in the epic flash. I'm more interested in a character-driven story. That's what I'm writing.

Sorry Harry isn't a hero to you. If it makes you feel better, he's not a hero to me in the canon.

amazing chapter as usual!

GNNNNNHHHHH

I love how the dynamics between Harry and John have shifted--a little betrayal and some conflicting interests to keep things fresh.

Also, the Franklin cameo was sweet :)

And now things are really picking up!

Re: amazing chapter as usual!

Re-negotiating boundaries are good for couples! Though fucking over your partner in the meanwhile is not so good, I think...

Franklin, the Nicest Mobster.

GARD!
Gard being awesome as usual. &hearts Gard

I like that you have John figuring out Father Vincent, and Hendricks being concerned about Harry. Harry managed to ask John for help, and John doesn´t even pay attention to him - ouch. They are both so believably stubborn. And did I mention I love the Knights? And the Carpenter family.

Wow. Pretty awesome. Really like how you're reinterpreting the canon events and the interactions between the characters. A very enjoyable read, eagerly looking forward to next update. :)

oh my god I need the next chapter like right now., *grabbyhands* This is AWESOME

Unlikely. The next chapter is likely going to be looooong and will take a bit.

I remain absolutely fascinated by this story and this entire AU. There is nothing I do not love in this fic.

Though I must say, I really did want a soulgaze between Harry and Sanya. Just to fuel my Harry/Sanya desires, you know. Make John jealous, a little alpha male pissing match...but fine, plot. Whatever. Be responsible with your characters and all...

Of course John would figure out Fr. Vincent. He's Marcone.

John's lips pressed together briefly, unhappy about something. Probably that minutes after saving the Shroud, I'd managed to lose it.

Yes, Harry. That's why Marcone's upset. Not because you were in danger or anything. Really.

And Harry's fear and pain over calling Marcone and then not getting him...It feels so very real and it's all the more painful for it.

Hmmm...so are you changing the plague Nic brings down or is everyone just guessing wrong? *puts up hand* Don't tell me! I want the experience...

In another universe where Harry and John don't get back together, I'm sure Sanya offers Harry plenty of comfort.

I'm talking about sex there. Just so you know.

re: plague, you'll see.

I've just stumbled across and read up on your universe and I'm taking the opportunity of this first new chapter since I signed on to tell you HOW FUCKING ADDICTED I AM. AND HOW GLAD THAT YOU UPDATE FREQUENTLY. AND HOW MUCH I LOVE YOUR CHARACTERIZATIONS. AND I'M JUST ALKJSADFLKJ ABOUT THE TENSION BETWEEN JOHN AND HARRY EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT'LL GET RESOLVED. AND SO. THAT'S ABOUT IT ACTUALLY.

*coughs*

Keep up the good work! Basically.

Hahaha, HELLO TO YOU TOO. WELCOME TO THE FIC. :WAVES:

This is just so amazingly well done. I love your version of things so much, the way the characters have grown so organically from who they started from because of their influence on each other, that I tend to remember the events of your fic as canon.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall when Gard kicked Denarian ass. I wonder if Hendricks watched with little hearts floating over his head. :D

Thanks. This... is all kind of stuff I need to hear right now. :crisis of fic-faith, aaaaaargh:

Ah. So much tension. ): I really hope they can make up soon.

It's hard reading a fic sometimes when you can practically feel the guilt and awkwardness smashing you over the head. Yet, it has the subtle undertones that Harry and John really care for each other.
In other words, I think you did a good job translating words into emotions that the readers can feel. :)

P.S: Love your mention that Molly is banned from the kitchen. I take it there were some attempts to boil an egg has gone wrong at some point?

Gosh, I'm so glad they're //talking// to each other, I don't even care that they're barely managing to reach civil-acquaintance level. (I hope Franklin didn't get in trouble.)

(See, John, now sharing information didn't actually hurt, did it?)

Man, and then I took a left turn at the theological implications of the Plagues, and I think I sprained something.

Man, and then I took a left turn at the theological implications of the Plagues, and I think I sprained something.

:perks up: Excuse this heathen who only knows about Biblical stories through the usual cultural osmosis and basic googling, but explain?

This was ... argh! I wish I'd waited until the next one was up. ::on tenterhooks:: Ok, loved the bit with Franklin, and Harry warning him to go on vacation with his family, that was so sweet! And you have such great original characters, I feel like I would have skimmed over those scenes in any other fic. Harry's wounds, and the description thereof, really hit my medical show!kink, especially since Harry's injuries are so often glossed over in the books. Yay, medical care! I mean, I know he heals, but he might heal a little more quickly if he EVER sat down for a few stiches, ya know?

Now, calling John and getting his voicemail? Ow. Just, ow. I really wish Harry hadn't used sex to get the shroud from Marcone. That's such a stupid Harry thing to do! Argh. I hope they manage to work through their massive, massive issues and talk at the end of all this. And is John concerned? He doesn't seem concerned, but Harry is incapable of reading human emotion from facial cues and body language and we're in his pov so I'm not sure!

It's exciting you're thinking about other possible plagues. I mean, people really underrate the ones other than the one most associated with the word 'plague' these days. Locusts unleashed on the crops of the midwest at the wrong time could starve the world! Or rivers of blood - nothing to drink! No more fish! Would ships sink or float better in blood? Hm ...

To sum up, much love. <3

I gotta bring all the OCs back as some point. I think I can work in Anavi the catty masseuse soon...

Well, in Harry's defense, it's also very stupid for John to do the entire Shroud thing behind his wizard's back. They've betrayed each other pretty evenly (I hope).

Is John concerned? Of course. But he's upset and stressed and everything he planned is going wrong and he's upset omg.

Now I am wondering if ships will float on blood. Um. Maybe an experiment for the Mythbusters? vOv

They're talking! I can't even tell you what a relief that is. Things clearly still aren't right, but they're talking. Yay.

Things had, undoubtedly, gone from bad to really goddamn awful.

Hee! *can't wait*

Oooohh! I love it! Haveing John track down Cassius was an interesting call. I was wondering how you were going to work that in. And poor Harry, all beat up and the only one who shows concern is Cujo which is hilarious. Gard is awesome sauce as usual. Normally this is where I'd beg for more but I'll be patient for the longer chapter.

I do love this- I mean, I actually like this Harry. Its lovely to see him able to work within an actually supportive family network and not the whole angsty lone wolf crap/closeted bisexual his is in canon.

"The Classics"- this gave me a flashback to the kinkmeme fic request for "John Marcone is really Dean Winchester"- which was totally cracky and wonderful.

Oh, Harry- you and your confusing family. I like the idea of a much more metaphorical plague, but does Nicodemus not know about Thomas in your canon? would he really go for the firstborns option?



This fic is making me selectively go through the canon novels and ponder the character of MoC!Marcone as he diverges from Canon!Marcone. Harry's special status seems to be a common point (compare the kind of mental reaction that Justine got from Marcone's POV in "Even Hand." Very chilly!), but your expansion of that seems to be fleshing out some sinews of Marcone's personality that I only really saw at the end of DEATH MASKS when he was trying to make the Shroud work.

Which is a lot of background for the question: Do you have a clear concept of how your Marcone diverges from canon!Marcone's (invisible to the audience) emotional life? It seems like a lot of Harry's relationship with him has brought things out that were *hinted* at in canon, but I'm also sure that you've got stuff you're creating wholecloth- I just don't see the seams.


(Christ on a cracker, did I really end up using that many fabric metaphors in a comment on a fic about the Shroud of freaking Turin? Really, kite? really?)

oh yeah, I remember that prompt. I didn't read the fill tho (did it get a fill?) since IDK. Not the biggest SPN fan.

Nicodemus knows. He just didn't say anything, so Harry's under the impression he's an only child.


Extrapolation, extrapolation, extrapolation. I think the core of MOC and canon Marcone are the same. Harry is a massive weakness for Marcone. He's always been fascinated with Harry, but in canon he has the benefit of not seeing Harry too often. Here, John is in a relationship with Harry and it chips away at his defenses. That'll culminate in the White Court arc, which is all about how John has changed.

Wholecloth though... I have vivid headcanon of John's history and how he became John Marcone. That will also become integral to the next arc. But I have his backstory in mind as I write him.

I'm not sure if I answered your question. I hope that helps!

I logged on to IRC to flail at you, the love I have for this chapter.

Things had, undoubtedly, gone from bad to really goddamn awful.

Give it a few days, Har, it'll get worse.

Oh, lovely update! I like the dynamics of them, and I like this Harry. He's strikes me as more clever than canon!Harry, as in he's willing to study the resources he has and use them, instead of marching blindly and stupidly into danger without taking into account the consequences for others and himself.

I wonder if Harry would count as a first born, given the existence of Thomas. Then again, he's a first born on his father's side. Interesting how that plaque would work in a world full of divorces and multiple partners. At least in Egypt chances were that you had one first born per family unit and not one for the mother and one for the father.

Ok, so, continued "Attagirl" on this one. I do like taking care of Cassius off screen, because, damn. Cassius was creepy-nasty, and it came back to bite him in the ass later.

I like the fact that John and Harry are sort of dancing around each other. Both have this trust thing going on, and ... for different reasons, find it extremely hard to just say "This are my planz. Stick with, or stay out."

I like that John came, that he's hiding his feelings -- whichever way they go -- and that that's a part of Harry's worry. I can see that. Emotions are a big part of magic for him, and being the orphan he is, he has this need to fix and appease. Only to certain people, mind, (like say, Michael, Ebeneezer, and a few others) but his current paramour would be one of them.

Good job.

That voicemail message was just *painful*. Poor Harry. Poor John. I wonder,was he *really* busy, or did he deliberetly not answer?

And I got all flaily over the "firstborn" thing too. Looking forward to seeing Thomas again! (Not until the next arc, I know, but the foreshadowing is fun. ^_^)

I keep remembering the interlude where Marcone makes a point of chatting on the phone while in the middle or torturing someone. I think he could have received Harry's call if he wanted to, since "powerful being" "as am I" Gard was probably the one who did Cassius in. In my head, anyway. Oh John, starting to play phone tag but getting interrupted by the need to meet in person. "John, I..." but what does it mean?!?!? I imagine is running around in his head.

I'm wondering how he schooled his reactions to Harry so well. Not doing the slow blink thing, that was Marcone's tell. Things are baaaad if he's stopped subconsciously doing that. Yay Hendricks, asking the questions Marcone wants to!

Why the firstborn curse, instead of the plague? Is it because it'll kill Marcone and not Harry, and then Harry will be emotionally susceptible enough to be corrupted? Oh well, I'm sure we'll find out.

re one of your other comments: "In another universe where Harry and John don't get back together, I'm sure Sanya offers Harry plenty of comfort.

I'm talking about sex there. Just so you know."

lol there. So there's a split-off Sanya universe from the split-off Marcone universe? This is an weird idea, but in the webcomic Darths and Droids, every 50 chapters they add a comic about what would happen if a different movie was being played as a tabletop RPG. They start here: http://www.darthsanddroids.net/wandsandwarts/episodes/0050.html and then have a link in the comment box to another alternate universe. You could totally do that with this. A bonus chapter where Harry goes off with Sanya. A bonus chapter where, uh... actually, I'm out of ideas. I like MoC too much to imagine much different. And I'd rather get more chapters of the books, rather than more bizarre AU chapters. So... I guess I'm rambling?

There's a world of difference between a vanilla human tied up and a rogue Denarian. Marcone's smart enough to realize that even if he's got the upper hand, he'd better give a supernatural being he doesn't entirely understand his full attention until he's absolutely sure the threat has been neutralized.

Also: remember, Marcone is very attentive about details and likes having everything under control. So far, this whole plan of his has been a complete fucking disaster--the Shroud is gone, his plan is gone, his boyfriend is gone, and unholy things are terrorizing his city. He's holding onto everything he can with both hands--he personally messaged the whole Outfit when it could easily have been delegated elsewhere, remember? He doesn't want any more distractions, up to and including 'feelings'.

The firstborn curse, for starters, is a direct threat--since Harry believes he's an only child and knows Marcone was, too, it feels like a pointed strike at them. In addition, plagues are mundane enough that everyday people feel like they can do something about it. If all the firstborns suddenly drop dead, however, that is Act of God shit there. People freak the fuck out when they see the Virgin Mary on their toast, what do you think would happen if really scary Biblical shit went down? Panic, mass hysteria, crisis of faith (or desperate last-ditch pledge of allegiance to the Devil, which is something I can see a lot of people scared of the Old Testament God doing). Or the author's ten steps ahead of me and I'm talking out my ass, as per usual. I like the story, I'm happy to see it unfolding beautifully.

His eyes found me quickly, took in my bruised and beaten state and... did nothing. No single blink, no emotion hidden under his eyes, not so much as a change to the pace of his brathing.

Oh, honey. Marcone has just about buried himself, hasn't he? Because feelings make him weak, make him vulnerable, and so the logical thing to do is not to feel at all. Harry is all feelings, he simply doesn't get that bone-deep deliberate emotional numbness that's the last refuge of someone so hurt they can't deal with the world anymore. He's trying to be a robot, and it's going to last just until the end of this crisis when he either freezes over completely or breaks into a million fucking pieces.

I am having TOO MANY FEELINGS about fictional people. I'm so glad you're writing this, lucia_tanaka. You're doing it RIGHT.

<3 I cant believe I missed the update! They're in the same room...! Admittedly with chaperones, but talking...! *resumes ankle clinging*

I dunno the other plagues are pretty mean too. *starts pondering*



"Tell me, how many times has Nicodemus Archelone destroyed the Knight's archives and compromised your security?"

Michael went stony and silent, looking more pissed than I'd ever seen him. I thought he and Gard were about to throw down.


Ooh, burn! (Also true, oy.)

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