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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 (10/?)

Table of Contents

Title: putting out your fires with gasoline, Book Two of The Matter of Chicago
Rating/Warnings: NC-17 for this chapter.
Word Count: This chapter: 4,713. This book: 57,786.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Chapter Four | Chapter Five | Chapter Six | Chapter Seven | Chapter Eight | Chapter Nine

Notes: You have no idea how hard this chapter was. I can't even tell you why. It just didn't want to be written. Filler and breather chapters are supposed to be easy. Perhaps I am to accustomed to plot-plot-plot.





Things after the Shroud case were... quieter.

Michael quietly thanked me for retrieving the Shroud from John. He didn't ask why it took three extra days, which was good since I was taking the secret of Amanda Beckitt's existence to my grave with me. Father Forthill got the Shroud returned to Turin, no worse for wear.

John quietly pretended he wasn't completely ripped up over the fact the Shroud did nothing for Amanda. At the end of the month, he took another one of his days off. When he came back, it was closer to dawn than sunset. I feigned sleep as he got into bed and immediately wrapped around me. I listened as his uneven breathing steadied out into slumber.

I quietly spent as much time out of the house as I could. I was home for breakfast and for sleep most of the time, but for the bulk of the day, I kept myself busy. I touched base with the usual suspects, checked in with all the low-power practitioners I was keeping an eye on, and got acclimated with the new edition of Arcanos the Alphas and I were going to be getting into. Like any good tabletop player, we all bitched about the changes in the system as much as we could even though we were going to play it anyway.

I stayed out of John's way for a while. We were good and had essentially made up after our fight but there were still moments where things weren't as comfortable as they'd been before. I think I'd taken to hesitating too much when John said anything to me. He, on the other hand, overshot his course correction and was sharing more information than I strictly wanted to know. Before, I'd had vague notions of the day to day running of his business and keeping the Outfit in line. I didn't need to hear about the specifics when I made the mistake of asking how his day had been.

I didn't appreciate the details, and John got surly when I got fidgety and it was just a mess. We avoided each other, giving each of us room to breathe.

As usual for me, I ended up spending the majority of my time at the Carpenters', which was becoming like a second home to me. The ordeal we'd been through just seemed to cement me further in the family.

It was there that I got the news about Shiro. I helped clear the table for Charity after dinner, and Michael waited until I was done to ask me into his office. It was the only room in the house the kids were supposed to steer clear of. He handled his construction contracts there, adjusted blueprints, and ran his carpentry work. I hadn't been in there often myself.

"How's Fidelacchius?" Michael asked me once we'd settled in. I sat in the guest chair and he on the desk in front of me.

"Fine. It's sitting in my lab on a plaque I've inlaid a lot of protections into." I lifted my arm and touched a charm on my shield bracelet. Unlike all the other little silver shields, this charm was a sword. "I'll know if anyone so much as breathes on it."

Michael nodded. "Good." He clasped his hands, giving me a heavy, sedate look. "I know it's not something you want to talk about, but do you wonder why Shiro left you the sword?"

Of course I did. I wondered why he had to die, why it was in my place, what he saw in me that was apparently so worth saving. Even if he didn't give his life for mine, he gave me his sword. The death thing, okay, maybe I could handle that, knowing he'd go to such lengths to preserve my life. But that with leaving Fidelacchius to me? I'd hit the maximum of how unworthy and mournful I could feel. I had no more in me.

"Well, my mentor would've called him mad as a box of frogs," I muttered.

Michael smiled faintly and pulled a folder out of his desk and handed it to me. "One of the congregation was the ME for Shiro. He gave us a copy of the autopsy report."

I stared at it blankly for a moment. "Why are you giving me this?"

"There's something they found. I thought it might help." When I still didn't take the folder, he put it on his desk and stood up. Touching my shoulder as he passed, he left the room, shutting the door behind him.

I read through the report.

Shiro's cause of death had been severe trauma due to blood loss, but the ME noted that even if he hadn't, his days would have been greatly numbered. He'd been in the late stages of lung cancer.

I went home with the sorrowful feeling of Shiro's death changed into something else. It wasn't something I had a name for. It was partially relief, mostly numbness, and a dozen other emotions all colored by a deep sense of melancholy. Whatever you'd call it, it was suffocating, and I think I scared John a little with how laconic I was that night. I silently crawled into bed next to him and pulled at him until he put his arms around me. That helped, the simple, tactile animal comfort of being held.

Sleep came to me, but it was fitful and fleeting, and I woke feeling terrible and unbalanced in a way I hadn't dealt with since last year.

Luckily, I had an infinite tab at Executive Priority and was friendly with a really great masseuse and low-power healer who could help me out.

John had moved his office to another building, but Executive Priority still ran a tight, efficient, but welcoming ship. Once I got over the whole brothel thing, I found I kind of liked the place. There was an energy that I wouldn't associate with prostitution. The place was active, cleansing, and built on meditation and exercise. The girls who worked there (and now several guys as well, which was new) could have filled the spa-gym-brothel with negativity very easily, but hadn't. They walked around in their pencil skirts and exercise clothes with heads held high. I never would have expected that, but it made sense. John was entirely about getting people to work with him at their own volition. Clearly that extended to Executive Priority. It made me feel less guilty about being there.

Anavi Kapoor always had an opening for me when my mojo was out of alignment. I was shown into the zen garden almost immediately after arriving. I stripped down and lay down on the padded table. She'd already seen me naked a few times, but given her brusque professionalism, I didn't think it counted.

"Uie Maa, so eager today, Harry?" Anavi said as she walked in, carrying her tray of heated rocks and oils.

"I'm all discombobulated," I told her, lifting my head to give her my best doe-eyed look. "Make me all better?"

Anavi snorted. "Oh, no. Atman and all his avatars, devas, and Mahādevas could not fix you." She ran her nails through my hair, scratching wonderfully against my scalp. I hummed and settled, happy at Anavi's attentions. By now I was familiar with the unique touch of her magic interacting with my aura. "But I will try."

"Thanks, Anavi."

"Now let's see what's off center this time," she murmured and framed my spine with her hands. She moved down gradually, her magic following the motion as she took stock. "Relationship troubles?"

"How'd you know?"

She put a finger on the small of my back. "Swadhisthana isn't doing too well. It governs the energy you put into relationships and how you feel pleasure, joy, and spiritual happiness." Her finger dragged lower, tapping my ass lightly. "Muladhara is also unbalanced. It is the filter for your energy in the bedroom along with how secure you feel. Both of these looking so battered makes me think you had a fight."

I nodded into the head rest. "Yeah. We're fine now, but it was rough for a while."

"I can see that." She patted my back fondly. "Just relax."

"Yes, ma'am," I said, and dutifully shut my eyes, letting myself drift off as she worked. I was used to her routine. After how amazing she'd made me feel the first time I had her work on me, I tried to see her whenever I got myself bent out of shape.

Subsequently, there was quite a bit of mileage on the Platinum Membership John had given me.

Anavi warmed my back with oil and a whole back massage before concentrating on my chakras. The top ones she spent a brief amount of time on. When she reached my lower back (Swadhisthana, I think) she dug her fingers in, dragged tension out of me with physical and metaphysical touch. A mundane work-over with her talented hands would have helped plenty. Add in Anavi's skill in the Art and I was soon feeling like a new man. I was just... happier, contented, soothed. I barely protested when her hands drifted lower and worked on my... on Muladhara.

Hey, she was a married woman and relentlessly professional about the massage itself, even if she sometimes teased. Okay, more than teased. She was no-nonsense and had no bedside manner, but I liked that. If she ever wound me up, I always ended up carefully unwound by the end of the session.

She set the last of the heated stones on my skin and replaced the ones that were growing lukewarm. She tapped my shoulder lightly and I expended the massive amount of effort it took to lift my arm and wave once. "M'good."

"Then I'll let you sit. I have another client to check on. I'll be back."

I barely heard her leave the room, sinking into a restful doze.

When I came back around, a hand was running up and down my back and side. The fingers had short nails and the skin was rougher and calloused in ways Anavi's weren't.

Stars and stones, how did he do that? His current office wasn't even in this area. I wondered if John had somehow found a way to master travel through the Nevernever behind my back.

I let him grope my back for a few minutes before turning my head towards him and saying drowsily, "I'd like to file a complaint with the building manager."

"Oh?" John skated his fingertips along my ribs. I suppressed a shiver.

"Yeah. See, this creepy guy always shows up and starts feeling me up during my massages."

John inhaled deeply. "That's terrible. I'll see what I can do to have him taken care of."

"Thanks," I mumbled. "What's up? Shouldn't you be working?"

"Who says I'm not?" He cupped his palm against the back of my neck, his thumb just under my jaw. I tipped my head up into his grip. "I have a request for you."

"Shoot."

"I'm having a new associate flown in to discuss an alliance between us. I'm treating him to a two-day boat trip on the lake to ensure we have a certain level of... privacy." He slid his fingers into my hair, mussing it, smoothing it down, then repeating the process. "I'd appreciate it if you'd come with me."

I cracked open an eye to look at him, turning that over in my head. "You want me to go along?" He nodded. "You suspect foul play, something supernatural out of this guy."

John's face gave nothing away. "It's possible."

Well, that decided me. Rocky relationship or not, I wasn't going to leave him with a potential danger on a boat in the middle of the water. That was asking for trouble, and I didn't want to read about any mysterious disappearances in the papers.

"Sure. I don't have any pressing engagements."

"Thank you," he replied earnestly. I felt the pressure of his finger pushing on the rocks. "The trip is this weekend. I'll have a few things to take care of, but Mr. Hendricks should be able to take you to the dock."

That was something I didn't like to be reminded of. I had to be ferried around by various Outfit guys since Deirdre wrecked the Beetle. I missed my car, but it hadn't turned up after the Shroud case.

I sighed and lay my head back down. "Works for me."



The weather turned mild in an unexpected but welcome heat spike mid-March when I slung my bag over my shoulder and let Hendricks take me out to the lake. There was an upper class boating group that John seemed to be a member of. Like any time I had to deal with the high society parts of being in John's life, I grinned at everyone who tossed a dirty look at my ragged jeans and faded Batman shirt. I was pretty sure I was more comfortable in my worn, soft threads than they were in their polo shirts and slacks.

"Do you have to antagonize everyone, Dresden?" Hendricks muttered.

"They're just jealous," I told him seriously.

Hendricks rolled his eyes and ushered me back to the docks. Some of the boats back there... well 'boat' was probably the wrong term. They were ships, or apartment complexes that float. One monster I passed seemed to be about four stories high. Why anyone needed a ship like that for leisure, I have no idea. If John's was like those, I was going to hex it into oblivion. They were just... gaudy. I grimaced.

Luckily for John, he hadn't invested in one of those insane status symbols. Hendricks led me towards the end of the dock where John's boat was. And it was big, but on a scale that made sense to me. It looked to be nearly 40 feet long and had a cabin instead of a small house sitting on the deck. It also had a sail, unlike most of the selection. It was sleek and shiny but inoffensive. I liked it already.

As we approached, John stepped out of the cabin. He was dressed down and wearing that suede jacket I liked so much. "Harry," he greeted calmly.

"Don't tell me, I want to guess..." I looked the boat over. "The Poseidon?"

John smiled. "Triton," he corrected, and held out a hand to me.

"You are so predictable." I let him help me step off the dock and onto the boat. It rocked under my feet, not enough to throw me over, but enough I was very aware of how not like standing on land this was. The movement was fluid and alien to my magic, so used to being grounded by the earth. It was like being untied from a mooring and left to drift; weird, but in a way really relaxing.

"Why don't you go below and look around while I get us out of here? Get your sea legs."

"Lake legs?"

"If you like," he said agreeably, then turned to direct Hendricks to do something about the ropes.

I looked around the deck briefly as it wasn't very big, then let myself into the cabin. I had to duck my head as I stepped down into it, but it was roomier than I imagined. A small kitchen was tucked into one corner, a table with bench seating opposite to it. Past that was a fairly open area with windows on either side. The back was one moderately sized bed, closer to the one in my bedroom than the one in John's. Against it was a little enclosed area, which I guessed was a bathroom.

It reminded me of my apartment, small but very functional. I looked around, trying to figure out where another person would be sleeping when the boat moved under my feet and I held onto the wall to keep from falling over.

I went back outside to find we'd moved, already out of the dock and heading into the lake. I searched for a few seconds before finding John at the back of the boat, working the little motor. When I got close, he held up his hand holding me off. I didn't want to break the motor, so I found the steering wheel of the boat and sat near it, waiting.

After a few minutes, John turned off the motor and went to do something with the sails. I watched, starting to drum my fingers impatiently.

He came to me, taking the wheel and starting to guide the boat, just as in his element as he was anywhere else. John was a militant believer in the Renaissance Man idea.

I kept drumming my fingers. Eventually, he tossed a glance my way. "Hm?"

"You got that business partner friend hiding around here somewhere?"

John gave steering the boat more attention than I thought it really deserved. There weren't many other vessels around us and we weren't in danger of hitting anything. "He won't be joining us unfortunately. His plane was grounded after someone managed to get a small firearm on board. He won't be able to meet me until next week."

I stopped the drumming and just gaped at him. I knew what he was saying in normal person language, but there was also the John Marcone translation that was under that. I was getting fluent in his coded way of speaking. "You... had someone smuggle contraband onto a plane just to get me on a boat with you?" That was so... roundabout and ridiculous. "You didn't think to just ask me?"

He gave me one of his more opaque looks. "You haven't been in a very receptive mood lately. I thought this way was best."

"Lying."

He shook his head sharply. "I did not lie."

Holy patron saint of literalism, I swear. "You misled."

He gestured vaguely. "I let you make assumptions and declined to correct them."

"Uh huh."

As I stared hard at him, his eyes darted to the side as he considered his reply. In an almost regretful tone, he said, "Perhaps I manipulated you somewhat. For a good cause."

I snorted. "Tricking me into a luxury vacation is a good cause?"

His eyes narrowed. "You consider this luxury?"

I shrugged. "Yeah?" He rocked back on his heels, turning that over in his head. Hell's bells. "Don't get any ideas. I don't need to see what you consider luxury."

He reluctantly inclined his head in agreement. "No. Should this go well, such measures won't be necessary."

I leaned back on my seat and crossed my arms. I tried to glare at him, but the sun was in the way and I just ended up looking squinty, I think. He was more amused than threatened, smiling slightly. John checked that we were on course and not in danger of hitting anyone before doing something to the wheel and moving over to me. He planted his hands on the cushion behind my head, leaning down to me.

My annoyance with him kind of... dissolved. I reached up, cupped his neck and put a palm against his chest, pressing until I found his heartbeat by touch. "Go well, huh? What's that entail?" I let my hands take the feel of him in. With the warmer weather, he wasn't wearing as many layers and I could feel a lot more through his shirt. It was nice.

He arched an eyebrow at me and smiled. "That... wasn't what I had in mind, though I can be convinced to reassess my goals." He ran his thumb against my stubble, humming to himself. "That is an enticing suggestion."

John was closing the distance between us when I said, "Boat."

"Hm?"

"John, boat." I pointed over his shoulder.

He looked up, swore, and went back to the wheel, steering us clear. "All right, let me get us out on the lake proper." He didn't say anything beyond that, but I could imagine the rest of it went something like 'before I drag you into the cabin for some vigorous make-up sex.' Though he may have wanted to skip the cabin part.



Eventually, we were far enough out that being hit was a really remote chance. Chicago was just a skyline in the distance and beginning to shine its lights at us as the sun started to sink in the sky. John threw an anchor overboard before returning to his previous position, holding himself up over me. I put my hand over his mouth and held him off when he tried to kiss me. "Food?"

John blinked slowly at me, but straightened. "That's how we're playing it?"

"Mmhm." Playing hard to get with someone you were regularly sleeping with wouldn't have made sense to me a year ago. Stars, the idea of me playing hard to get at all would have been laughable once upon a time.

Now, I can see how it made his pupils dilate and brought out the feline parts of his personality. He moved like a predator, long sure steps, and looking ready to pounce. He kept an eye on me constantly, even checking in the reflection of polished surfaces and mirrors when he couldn't face me. His hyperawareness seemed to feed into me, making my skin prinkle. It was exhilarating.

He was like that the entire time he set up dinner. It was soup, taken out of an unmarked container and heated on the little stovetop. He served it with a crusty bread before sitting next to me.

"Butter?" I waved my plain bread at him.

"It's for the soup. Try it first." That was another thing that drove him crazy, when I didn't taste the food and changed things. Adding salt before trying something annoyed the hell out of him, so I did it as often as possible.

The soup was good, a tomato parmesan bisque, whatever that meant. It was creamy and thick and surprisingly filling. The bread went with it well, he was right. He looked indulgent and smug as I stole his last slice of bread to soak up the lingering soup in my bowl. Through a mouthful, I asked, "What is with you and feeding me?"

"I'm not sure." He leaned his chin on his hand. "Hendricks says I have latent paternal urges. Apparently that's why I micromanage my employees so much."

"He's been extra irritating since he picked up those psych classes," I muttered. Going out to Typhoon with him was becoming unbearable. I was glad he was getting good grades, but the fact he did it by poking at me like a shrink was stressful.

"I'd rather not talk about him right now," John said softly.

He moved in, and I turned my face away to be contrary. He huffed, but went on undeterred, brushing his lips against my hairline, nipping the shell of my ear, and mouthing down the side of my neck. I shut my eyes and exhaled hard. "What do you want to talk about?"

John got me by the shoulders, pushing me back against the seat. His teeth scraped my throat and I let out a startled gasp. I felt his lips move as he replied, "I don't feel like talking right now, to tell the truth."

Suddenly, neither did I.

The bed was seven steps away, and John half-threw me onto it. I bounced once on the sheets before I was pressed down with John straddling my hips. When he had enough incentive, he moved fast, and getting my shirt off fit the bill.

I turned on so fast, it was almost painful. The last time we'd done this was at the Drake, and I didn't look back on that fondly. Now, with some distance from that, I realized I'd grown skin-hungry. By the time he got my shirt off, I was surging up and getting his off as well. We each got in the others way in the scramble and John expedited the process by shoving me back down with a growled, "Harry."

I huffed a laugh and let him yank my pants down my legs. That crack in his perfect gentlemanly facade was always my favorite part. It took so much to make it happen... unless we were in bed. Stripping him out of his suits and his hidden weapons and all the trappings of his day to day life made him more vulnerable and John reacted to his own vulnerablity by getting the metaphorical claws out. Which was fine with me.

John dug his fingers into my sides and dragged his hands slowly down, tracing my ribs in a proprietary way I was used to. I stretched out until my hands hit the wall. I braced myself, fingers splayed wide, as John cataloged my body by touch. Shutting my eyes, I let the feelings wash over me. John was firm and demanding over me, but all around us the lake moved. The disconnect tugged at my senses, shifting me from John to that deep sensation of being metaphysically adrift, and back again. Like John had become my anchor.

I loved it. I loved it more when my languor started to seep into John, as though it was transferring to him though my skin. There was still power and insistence in his every touch, but we moved together now without him trying to lead me his way.

While I wasn't expecting anything in particular, I was taken off-guard when John dug out the slick, worked some on my cock, and sat on top of me, driving me deep into him. I caught his hips and held him still as I panted through the rush of heat and pressure and fuck. He watched me struggle to not come on the spot, eyes lazy and dark. "Mmfuck, John," I groaned. My back arched, shoulders digging into the mattress as I shuddered.

I'm not proud to admit John did most of the work, riding my dick as I made pathetically grateful, encouraging noises. It took me someplace, being in him like that. The chorus of JohnJohnJohnJohn in my head melded with that strange new looseness the waves pushed into my magic. I thought for a moment we were fucking on a ley line; it opened up this deep, restful spot in me, and I just wanted to curl up there and never leave.

As caught up as I was in that, I didn't anticipate coming until climax was upon me. Between one rock of John's hips and the next, I was gone, hanging onto him with a strangled noise torn out of my chest. It set John off, which astounded him more than it did me. He grunted, lost his balance, and spilled hot and wet over my chest.

I caught him as he went down, turning us to lay on our sides, and gathered him in my arms. We needed to clean up the mess, but for a moment I wanted to hold him. I was occasionally a cuddler. Sue me.

He returned the gesture as I rubbed my face against his shoulder, shivering through some long abiding aftershocks. Stars and stones, I felt good.

"That was interesting," John drawled, his oft-disguised accent making an appearance in his afterglow. Definitely a South sider growing up. "Did you cast magic?"

I kept headbutting him affectionately, but in motion that resembled a head shake. I didn't have the coordination for more than that. "No. Dunno what that was."

"It felt..." He pushed my hair off my forehead and laid his cheek there. We were tucked up against each other very closely. I didn't mind. "Like a wave of something. Cleansing, maybe."

"Mm," I mumbled, too zonked to really care. John jabbed a finger into my shoulder and I sighed, giving in. "It's different, doing this here. I can feel... stuff."

"Stuff."

I waved a hand languidly in the air above us. "The water. You. Ambient power in the air. The energy did something. Basic thaumaturgy." I wrapped my arm around him again. "Was wondering why you dragged me out here on the lake when we could have done this at home with a bigger bed. Now m'glad you did."

"Good." He made to get up, starting to untangle himself from my clinging embrace.

My arms tightened. "Hey, stay."

"I was just going to clean up."

"Stay?" I repeated.

He sighed, warmly exasperated, and settled next to me again. I nosed against his shoulder and shut my eyes, feeling completely at peace with the world.



Chapter Eleven

(Random point of interest,the current wordcount for MoC as a whole is 208,309.

Just. Yanno. I'll be over here breathing into a paper bag.)

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Comments

I really liked the feel of this chapter - a really nice counterpoint to all the tension of the Death Masks remix. Sorry you had so much trouble with it, but I think it was definitely worth it!

Yeah, after the assault of PLOT PLOT UST RELATIONSHIP DRAMA ANGST PLOT PLOT, I figured some cool-down was needed before the WCV arc. I'm extremely glad you like it, as I was quite unsure of it myself.

Oh man this fic is great! I love it to bits and you REALLY should be proud of it. Eagerly waits for the rest...

I do wonder what John's original plan was for the boat outing, if it wasn't snogging; serious relationship discussion?

I am glad Harry's getting some spiritual care from Anavi. It's not quite the psychological care that he would really benefit from, but it's probably as close as he can handle.

Proposal: To provoke one Harry Dresden into serious discussion of emotional and interpersonal issues.

Parameters : Set up business meeting on vessel Triton, have New Orleans operatives delay associate's flight. Use remaining gap in schedule to relocate Harry Dresden onto lake.

Expected Outcome: Greater discourse and understanding, renegotiated relationship.

Additional Notes: You realize this is going to blow up in your face, boss? - Hendricks

Oh, John, you nutbar.

Although he's certainly correct in thinking the first step in a relationship discussion with Harry is trapping him somewhere he can't escape from.

Snickering

I can see John thinking of it in that exact format, too!

And of course Hendricks is so right (as always ;D), Harry is going to be miffed about John lying - sorry, *misdirecting* him in order to trap him on a boat over water for a relationship talk. Yeah, the trapping bit is probably the only or at least most efficient means of forcing said talk, but that doesn't make it a real smooth move by any means. I expect forcing a talk like that on someone is usually a bit of a misstep anyway, but it's not like I'd know much about relationships.

Just wanted to say I luuurve this excerpt from the mind of John Marcone, and look forward to the next chapter of MoC. *walks off giggling*

ohh that was just... yummy!! XD
thx!

Oh, this was just lovely. I liked their make-up sex, and the magic working between them as they closed the rift between them.

Now, I'm wondering what John's aborted conversation was going to be about. I'll hope we'll find out soon.

Beautiful breather between sections of angst! And a lovely bit of cuddling - and I liked the description of how John tracked Harry throughout.

Oh, you minx, you sneaked in another DC reference! *Shakes finger* Peter Parker would be so disappointed :P
But seriously, this chapter was so sweet. I love John, and it is my personal hope and suspicion that he is having the Beetle repaired because, even though he hates it he does luuuuurve Harry.
Also, you mentioned Mister a few chapters ago, which argues that you haven't forgotten about him. My question, then, is this: why is Harry not worried? We have no idea what happened to him, and you'd think that finding his cat would be kind of a priority now that things are more settled. Or maybe you did say something about it and I am just not being a good reader. Anyway, this was a lovely chapter.

I figured that if I'm referencing DC so much, I'm going to make it an aspect of the AU, that MoC!Harry prefers DC. Why not?

Harry hasn't exactly been home enough in this book to bond with Mister. Why would he be worried about Mister? Marcone isn't going to do anything to him. IDK, I have two cats, just as independent as Mister (though not as big) and I don't tend to worry about them much. Simple bigger fish to fry principle.

As to the DC thing: I don't really care, I was just teasing since you mentioned in the commentary that you always reference DC.

Mister: What I meant was that I don't remember anything that happened to him after Harry's apartment burned down, so why would Harry not wonder what happened to his cat? I guess you are implying that he's at the mansion, I just don't remember that happening, so I thought Mister was still missing.

Mmm, wonderfully done. I'm sorry to hear it was so hard to write, but it came out wonderfully. You went from the tension at the beginning and the previous chapter into a lovely languonous feeling ... lovely. As always, super psyched for the next chapter!

This is a pleasant change of pace after all the upheaval in the previous chapter, though I do have one burning question. Diid Marcone take the opportunity of the Beetle wreckage to make it disappear for good?

Diid Marcone take the opportunity of the Beetle wreckage to make it disappear for good?

This is totally my suspicion too! You can't tell me John and all his resources couldn't find one distinctively ugly Beetle in Chicago, unless it was at the bottom of a lake.

Shiro. :(
Was he really going to die of cancer? I didn't remember that. THIS CALLS FOR A MASSIVE RE-READ. Well, before my summer classes start anyway. *bites thumbnail*

HAHA totally got tricked into a weekend on the lake. Nice. I approve.
Also, hnnnnnnnnng sex on the water. Love it.

I'm sorry it was so hard to write. BUT THINK OF IT THIS WAY. The calm will be contrasted nicely when things start going crazy again? XD

the current wordcount for MoC as a whole is 208,309.

Yes, Shiro was at a late stage of cancer in DM. Tres sad, that even if he survived Nicodemus, he would have died. 8(


That gif sums it up well, yeah.

Aw, I loved this. Harry never seems to get a chance just to catch his breath, even between books sometimes, so this felt really lovely.

Adore Hendricks practicing his psych classes on Harry. Hee!

Oh.

OH!

*shudders and sucks in a breath*

I have been a horrible reviewer up until this but... Yes. This. This!!!

Such a wonderful transition from the fractured relationship they were at the end of the last chapter to back on kilter. Because even though they needed to go through that, they need to be together as well even more. Like tempering steel to make it stronger.

*chin hands* Just letting you know, I'm setting up camp in your brain. Just a small corner. I'm tiny, you won't even notice I'm there. But yeah, Happy Place found and not ready to leave.

I am thrilled to supply a Happy Place. 8D More boat shenanigans coming up in the next chapter, I hope you like.

Tempering steel = perfect. What does not kill them makes them stronger.

This was so sweet. I mean, you pretty much killed me with this one. Their relationship still being off kilter, both of them trying to correct and not quite managing it because they're not sure of one another like they were before. They have to rewrite their relationship in a way. And the boat and John and the cabin...*dies*

This was a really nice interlude. A chance to clear the air before the next instalment. I'm sorry you had trouble with this but it suits very well.

Mmmm, what a lovely chapter. Loved it.

[Grins] This chapter is so cute. I love how everyone's just taking it slow so they can just have time to decompress and mend themselves.

Everything was lovely as usual like John tricking Harry into a vacation, but my favorite part was when John actually forgot about the controls for a while and Harry had to warn him. :D

Hendricks using his psych classes on John and Harry is love. :3

<3 *chin hands*

I suppose they're well matched? Harry is squirrelly about his emotions, and John traps him on a boat... but is sidetracked by sex. ;)