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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 (11/?)

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: 5,660. This book: 63,446.

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

Notes: Late, agaaaaaain. But those who follow my LJ know why. Been a... rough few days. Anyway, after this is one more filler, then we launch into the White Court Arc. And just FYI, I'll be going to Florida on the 16th. Last time I was there, I wrote half of Book One. Hopefully the same will happen this time.

Trigger Warning for this chapter: Consensual light bondage.



Being adrift, ungrounded, floating on the water was not how I wanted to spend my life, but for a while it was nice. Life sometimes seemed so hectic and breakneck, maybe because John was such a workaholic. We orbited each other, so I got tangled up in that relentless energy of his.

Here, everything slowed down. Without his bedside alarm to wake us, we slept in, and upon waking found him sitting in bed with me, reading. I had no idea what time it was, which was a strange, freeing feeling. He didn't have to go to the office and I had nothing urgent demanding my attention. We could stay in bed all day if we wanted.

Not that we would. My stomach lodged a protect to that idea, growling loudly.

John looked down at me. "Good morning to you too, Mr. Dresden."

"Shut up," I muttered. "What're you doing?"

"Research," he said, and tilted the book to show me the cover. A Dictionary of Faeries by Katharine Briggs.

"Good choice."

"Your godmother is in here." He thumbed back to an earlier page. I reached out and stopped him, giving him a sour look. "But I see you prefer not to be reminded of her right now." John noted his page, then set the book aside, leaning over me to do so. "Breakfast?"

"In a sec." Seized by a sudden impulse, I pulled him down, wrecking his balance so he fell on me, and kissed him. That wasn't much fun before teeth brushing, so I nipped at his chin, rubbed my lips against the silver stubble on his face, and we went hot and heavy in the span of a moment. We necked, lazy and juvenile in the late morning-- or early afternoon, I didn't know. John grabbed at my hips and ass, and I rubbed up against him, heat pooling in my chest.

Before we could get anywhere, my stomach growled again, even louder this time, and John started laughing. He leaned back, shaking his head. "Breakfast."

To my disappointment, we didn't have a decadent, slow fuck before getting out of bed. But he did feed me, and we went out on the deck. It was beautiful out, just chilly enough to warrant long sleeves. Being on the water made the air colder, but not enough to be uncomfortable.

John went around the boat, checking sails and anchor and miscellanea. I didn't pay much attention, sitting at the bow. I sat facing the stern, arms hooked over the edge, head back. It was a boneless sprawl as I soaked up the sun. Give me some linen, and I could fold sunlight, I was so content.

Everything felt sensitive, like my metaphysical perception had gotten a boost. I knew when John walked silently over to me, his presence tangible as he moved. I peeked one eye open to look at him.

He knelt in front of me, hands on my jeans. I stiffened, a spike of nervousness straightening my back. John raised an eyebrow at me. "Harry. There's no one around."

Oh. I hadn't thought of that. I glanced around, like I was expecting a peeping tom to be situated on a neighboring boat, but it was just us on the water. My worry was swept away as John got my cock out and stroked me to hardness. I moved to grab him, and he pushed me back, keeping my arms hooked over the guard rails.

If that was how he wanted me, I could oblige. Fighting him for control would have required far too much energy, and I was more than happy to let him lead. I gripped the railing tightly to keep myself still. No easy task with John bending down and taking me in his mouth. He went to town on me. I just tossed my head back, feeling the sun against my skin, and took it all in.

It was all languorous, being on the lake. We barely spoke, moving through each other's space at will.

Adrift.

Sunbathing got boring and John told me I'd freeze to death if I went for a swim. So we had sex again, me on my stomach in the shade of the cabin. Then I dug up a fishing rod because it seemed like the thing to do.

John gave me a deeply skeptical look.

I shrugged. "You're supposed to fish when you're on a boat, John."

"Are you." He wasn't convinced.

"Worth a shot." I got to it, taking a good ten minutes to figure out how to get the bait on the hook before fumbling my cast twice. The third time, the line went out far enough to satisfy me, the little buoy bobbing in the waves. I reclined on the deck, watching for any bites.

John was on the other side of the ship, looking out over the water. He did that for quite a long time. I kept an eye on him, confused and wondering what was so interesting to him.

Curiosity got the better of me. I set my rod against the railing and went over to John.

When I got close, I could see he wasn't looking out at the lake. He was looking at his Blackberry, cupped in his hands. He was typing away at it, all his attention on what he was doing. I laughed. "You brought your phone?"

He didn't look up. "I'm just keeping an eye on things."

"Anything important?" I asked, then grimaced. I was tired of John's oversharing about his criminal work.

To my pleasant surprise, he just said, "Not particularly."

I made a show of crossing my arms. "Yet you're giving it more attention than you give me." I sniffed loudly. "I see how it is."

John nodded distractedly, not listening, still typing.

Well, we couldn't have any of that. I took a moment to gather my will and reached out, concentrating. "Erazrof," I called.

The Blackberry whipped out of John's hands and into my open palm. Without hesitation, I spun and flung the thing out onto the water. It landed in the water with an almost musical plop.

John's mouth was open as he stared at me. He started to say something, then stopped. I was expecting some kind of reaction to having killed his toy, but that wasn't it. "What?"

"That incantation. Erazrof." He narrowed his eyes. "How would you spell that?"

I grinned openly at him.

"Jesus Christ," he muttered, putting a hand over his eyes.

"Hey, it makes sense," I told him cheerfully. "It's the opposite of my other force spell, so--"

"So it's just forzare backwards," he finished, rubbing his face. "You are ridiculous."

I loved his surprised, somewhat disparaging expression. I really did. Nonetheless, I stepped up to him and kissed it right off his face.

Later, I realized my fishing pole was gone. John innocently suggested it fell into the lake, but I wasn't fooled.



Things got melancholic that night. John was going to bring us back into dock in the morning. It was the end of our little respite.

I had to hand it to him, it'd been a good idea, this small vacation. The tension between us was pulled away like the water at low tide. I needled him with the same gusto I had before the Shroud case and John returned to his reticent nature instead of volunteering too much. We got our balance back, and the relief in both of us was palpable.

John fed me, then went to one corner of the cabin. He had a small stereo there and started to set it up as I cleared dishes.

"I fry things like that," I reminded him.

"I'm taking necessary precautions," he told me. Once he put a CD inside, he took a piece of chalk from my pocket and drew a circle around the stereo. He sealed the stereo inside and stood back. It started to pump out music. He turned and held out a hand to me.

I caught on. "No."

"Harry."

"No," I said, starting to laugh. He was such a hypocrite, calling me ridiculous when he was... when he did this.

He stalked across the cabin to me and said quietly, "Please."

My breath caught. What could I say to that?

The music was a mellow shade of jazz. A woman sang, her voice deep and resonating. It was easy to move to, but John wasn't looking for the kind of formal dancing I could pull off. I had two left feet for a few minutes before John put a hand on my hip and started to lead a little more.

It was... good. Just moving together, without the combative undertone our dancing at the Drake had. I stopped staring at our feet eventually and looked up to see John smiling faintly at me, calm and self-assured. I went hot in more ways than one. "You think this is so romantic, don't you?" I jerked my head to the stereo. "Candlelight, wine, music, your freakishly expensive boat."

John seemed completely unaffected by my taunt. He simply pulled me closer and replied in an almost-whisper, "Hmm... Perhaps it is. That was not my intention, though." His smile widened. "I just happened to know you can dance."

"Okay. So?"

He spun me. Or tried to. I wasn't ready for it and almost toppled over when he attempted it. He snorted and steadied me. "I like dancing." He looked in my eyes for a moment. "I always have."

Any complaints I had were silenced by that. If I didn't know any better, I'd think John was divulging personal information at his own free will. But that couldn't be right. This was John, who kept such a tight lid on everything about himself. Some days, it was less like he kept his past quiet so much as he didn't even have a past. I'd gotten used to that about him and I understood why he was like that. Now, a morsel of information made me wet my lips, hungry for more.

"That so?" I said in what I hoped was a casual tone.

He considered, then nodded. "Yes. Since I was a teenager. My family couldn't afford music, but our neighbors could." We shifted, closer, my chest against his. My lips were against his hairline and I could feel his words, air ghosting out over my neck. "They left their windows open in the summer and I would listen in."

I had no idea what to say to that. It may have been a small piece of his life, but when it was freely given, not because I barged into his fortress of solitude in Wisconsin, that made it all the more important.

I wanted to know everything. That wasn't going to happen, I knew that. But the small trust meant a lot to me.

And what did I do when I was dealing with less-than-manly emotions like that? I cracked wise. "So you got early practice on your stalking skills." It sounded strained even to my ears.

A rueful headshake was John's only rejoinder.

We kept at it for a while, until the stereo reached the end of the album. John broke the circle and shut it off.

I was reluctant to sleep. Sleeping meant tomorrow would come sooner and we'd be back in Chicago again. Things would speed up. I wasn't looking forward to that.

In bed, with the candles blown out and the moonlight cast over the covers, I tried to settle down for the night.

To my utter lack of surprise, I couldn't manage it. I was thrumming with energy and wakefulness. I wasn't alone, though; when I moved to try sleeping on my side instead, John's eyes opened. I winced. "Sorry."

"It's fine." He put a hand on my shoulder. I took a page out of his book, taking a mile when he offered an inch. I rolled close and kissed him. In seconds we cinched up close together. John pushed, trying to get me on my back, but I shoved him in return. He grunted, taken aback, but lay down like I wanted him to. I slid onto him, straddling his waist as I leaned over him. From there I could see his pupils shrink as he sucked in a breath.

I thought about last night and how good that felt. I wanted some of that, I decided, and scrambled to get our clothes off.

"Harry, calm down," John breathed, helping me strip him. It worked better with two. As soon as he was naked, I pushed him back down, one hand splayed wide on his chest.

John stared up at me, lips parted. "What would you like?"

"Like last night," I said. "But the other way around?"

John shut his eyes and inhaled sharply. "We could do that."

"Cool," I said and reached over to get the slick out of the drawer. I knew to do this I needed to work myself open a bit. I shifted my legs wider, lifted myself on my knees. I wet three fingers on my right hand. I'd never done this to myself before, but it couldn't be that hard, I guessed.

It wasn't. I'd had John's fingers in me enough that working my own in wasn't too difficult. Oddly enough, the part I didn't like was John trying to help, squeezing my ass, spreading, trying to get his fingers back there too.

I smacked his hand away, getting a baffled blink from him. "I was just--"

"I know, I know. I got it, s'all." I really did have it all in hand, so to speak. I worked my fingers in deep, my eyes shutting as I felt the heat and the give. I could see why John was always so eager.

By the time I was ready, John's cock was fully hard, a glistening bead at the tip. I added some more slick to my hands and grasped him, stroking lightly just to coat him. John's hands came back, trying to get in on the action. I almost snarled, annoyed, and caught his wrists, pushing them down on the bed.

Leaning over him like that, our faces were close. John was panting shallowly, a drop of sweat running down his face. I don't think I'd ever seen him that revved up. "Harry..."

"Don't touch," I told him. "I want to do this myself."

He let out a winded sound. "Your faith in my control is admirable, but even I have my limits."

"Would it help if I tied you down?" I asked without thinking.

Another new experience, seeing a flush steal over his face as I watched. "It might," he said.

Stars. Now I took a moment to think about that. Riding John's cock with his hands bound. That could... be really good. I took his hands, lifted them, positioned him so his wrists rested against the headboard. "Trust me," I said, something between a question and a request.

John didn't respond right away, thinking it over, but finally nodded once. "There's spare rope in the cabinet."

I nearly tripped over myself getting the rope. It was a thin cord of synthetic fiber, likely for use somewhere around the boat. It'd work just as well here. I climbed back onto John. He'd kept his hands up, unmoving, and I had to take a deep breath to get control of myself seeing that.

The rope looped around his wrists, loose enough he could get away if he needed to, but tight enough to hold him. It took a stupid amount of time to tie it off, my hands shaking. I could have used a spell to speed up the process but... that was too close to what I'd done to him at the Drake. I'd betrayed his trust, used our relationship against him. We weren't patched enough that I could risk a whispered, 'manacus.' That he was even letting me do this, it heightened everything, made things seem sharper, with more at stake.

So I tied his wrists myself. When I withdrew, John looked up at my handiwork. He tugged once, hard, then nodded in approval.

When I didn't do anything else, he lifted his hips against mine. "Harry."

Right. Crazily enough, there was more to this. I could have just stared at him like that for a while but...

This would be even better.

I was careful, unsure how precisely to do this. One hand I used to hold John's cock steady, the other I planted on his chest to lean on. I worked my way backward and down slowly, directing him into me. There was a moment of this is never going to work before his dick worked in, and I let out a breath I'd been holding.

John was looking kind of dazed. He kept tugging at the rope, staring at me. "Ease back," he murmured. "Take your time." I started to do as he said. He shuddered, eyes sliding shut. "Slow, slow. Come back up if you need to."

I shook my head. I was feeling a slight burn in my legs, but I was good. It was different like this, being able to set my own pace instead of being at the mercy of John's moods, whether he was up for gradual, tender fucking or something rougher, faster, with his hips pistoning ruthlessly. This time, it was whatever I wanted with John open and trusting under me.

I sat back, my ass on John's hips, and swallowed a groan. John was louder, banging the headboard against the wall as his arms flexed.

That didn't matter. This time, it was all me. I hadn't known it could be like this unless I was fucking him, but I was patently wrong about that. I could do as I liked, and I liked a leisurely rocking on his cock. I grabbed the headboard, eyes shut, and focused on moving myself on him. Long deep thrusts were nice, but for tonight, lazy grinding was perfect. There weren't the sharp jabs of pleasure when I moved. Instead, it was a rising wave that flooded me. A sweat prickled up over my body despite the cool air, something deep in my gut tightening, tightening, winding up until I thought I'd snap.

That new kind of pleasure snuck up on me. I felt it crest in me when I came. I stuttered a gasp and clung to the headboard more tightly for leverage as I shoved John's cock hard into me. John groaned and managed to brace himself enough to push up. I was jolted, shaking through orgasm. John pushed up again, saying something under his breath, not English but I understood it anyway.

I slumped forward, landing awkwardly on him, my face mashed into his shoulder while the rest of me arched. I could feel him soften and knew he'd get painfully sensitive soon. Clumsily, I let him slip out of me. He winced, but sighed in relief.

As usual, I was too out of it to do anything else. I curled up around him, nuzzling his neck like a big sloppy cat. We were messy, sated, and it was about time for John's fastidiousness to kick in to get us cleaned up. When he didn't, I lifted my head to look at him.

His arms were still bound above his head. John gave me a long look, but didn't say anything about it.

"Oh. Sorry," I muttered. I got up and started untying him. As I did, he just kept staring at me. I stilled, meeting his eyes. "Uh. Was that... okay?"

"Yes," he whispered. "I think it was."

John was okay with me tying him down. That was... a big complicated trust thing I couldn't even fathom right now.

He'd let me tie him. He told me his lifelong love of dancing. He'd let me in on his greatest, most terrible secret.

Once I got the rope loose, he wrapped around me and dropped off to sleep. I carded a hand through his hair and thought, hey, maybe this could work.



Cujo met us at the docks with a suit bag over his shoulder. "Boss--"

John held up a hand. "Harry threw my phone into the lake in a fit of pique. How did the meeting go?"

Hendricks tapped at his own PDA before sacrificing it to John. "I got them to hold back the article, but I don't know how long that'll last. Also, Weaverley is getting impatient about a face-to-face."

John sighed as he looked over the device in his hand, then took the bag from Hendricks. "Well, it was nice while it lasted," he murmured. "I'll change before we go." He stepped away, out of the lobby to a side room for some privacy.

Once he was gone, I turned to Hendricks. "How come I never get any messages? No one misses me?"

"Actually," he said, "Carpenter called to talk to you."

"Narrow it down there," I told him.

"Molly."

"There you go." I nodded. "Urgent?"

"No idea. I'll have one of the guys take you over there." He looked over to where John had vanished to. His eyes darted sideways back to me, hesitant. "So... how'd it go?"

How'd it go? I checked in with myself: calmer, happier, refreshed, yet exhausted in that way that came from too much sex in a short time. I was humming with power, ready for anything. I'd have some fun with Bob tonight; I had enough juice to work on some of our experiments.

Hendricks reddened and coughed loudly. "Nevermind. Don't want to know."

"Given how much shit you give me about my hetero-whatsit, I'm kind of surprised."

"Heteronormativity, and I'm glad you and the boss are better now, but I prefer not to know the details." He made a face. "It's like hearing about your parents having sex. Or your kids."

That made sense. Hendricks was the navigator of the good ship John and Harry, running interference and keeping us from each other's throats. I'm pretty sure minding a mafia boss and his wizard wasn't in Hendricks' job description, but he did it anyway, and I was grateful.

Keeping the Outfit hard at work, enforcing the word of the Don, chipping away at his degree, calling me out whenever I said something stupid, and putting up with John and me. A man of many varied talents was Hendricks.

"Right. No details. Nothing about how we got some rope and--" Hendricks punched me in the arm. "Ow!"

"I miss Gard already," he muttered.

"Hey, speaking of, what was with you and her? You were acting odd the entire time she was here."

Hendricks' face shuttered. "Dunno what you're talkin' about," he muttered, dropping consonants and layering on the dumb thug inflection that scared the crap out of anyone who didn't know him better.

"You kept staring at her. Nothing to be ashamed of, ax-wielding chicks are pretty scary."

"I'm going to go check on Mr. Marcone."

"Hey, I was just--" Cujo fast-walked away, following John, leaving me standing awkwardly in the lobby. "Okay, message received."

I might have gotten annoyed at being sidelined so hard, but two days on a boating vacation with lots of sex and relaxation has a way of calming you down.



Charity was trying to gather the kids for an outing when I was dropped off at the house. I have timing like that.

The moment I walked in, Baby Harry was pushed into my arms. "Hold him." Charity grabbed my hand and put Hope's in it. "And her." She walked off, chasing a fleeing Amanda.

Baby Harry tucked his head into my shoulder and conked out. I looked to Hope, who was twisting from side to side, smiling up at me. "Hey, Hobbit," I said.

"Hey, Uncle Harry."

"What's going on?"

"Molly's in trouble!" she burst out with a keen childish enthusiasm. She'd never be good at keeping secrets. "She's grounded and Daddy's at the 'canic shop with the truck and she doesn't get to go to the park with us today and she and Mom yelled a lot and--"

"Slow down, Hobbit. Molly did something to the truck?" That was hard to believe. Michael's truck was a vehicle of God. I'd seen it plow head-long through a legion of demons and come out unscratched. I had a feeling any spells I threw at it would just roll off.

Hope nodded. "She hit a pole. It fell down. Mom's mad. Dad has to pay for the pole."

I winced. Yeah, that didn't sound good.

Charity came back in, this time with Amanda bundled up in a lime green jacket that went well together with her purple stockings and red dress. "Mom, it's not that cold," Amanda complained loudly.

"You had a cold last week," Charity reminded her. Yeah, that hadn't been fun. "You're wearing your coat. Did you take your medicine?"

"Moooooooom," Amanda whined.

Charity gave me a long-suffering look. I shrugged. "Don't look at me."

"Will you get them in the car?"

"Sure." I tugged Hope's hand. "Come on, kid, let's get you all set."

I got Hope in the van and Baby Harry in his complicated toddler seat complete with multiple harnesses. It took a while to buckle him in and my back protested leaning over like that for so long. By the time I was done, Charity had wrangled up the other kids.

Minus Molly. I turned to Charity, and she answered before I could even open my mouth. "She's grounded for the rest of the month."

"She really wreck the truck?"

Charity almost smiled. Almost. "She caused more damage to the pole than the truck, really." She slid the van door shut. "Are you coming along then?"

I shook my head. "Mind if I stay and talk to Mols?"

"Be my guest. She refuses to speak to me." She sighed and climbed into the driver's seat. "We'll be back in a few hours. Michael'll be home by five. Don't eat the stew, it's for dinner."

I saluted and stepped back as the van pulled away, then let myself back into the house. I ducked into the kitchen and saw a pot on the stove. Inside was a meat and vegetable stew thick enough to feed the platoon of Carpenters and maybe one beanpole wizard as well. I stole a bite of beef, tender from being slow cooked. Chewing slowly, I went to find Molly.

She wasn't in the family room or her room or anyone else's. It was only after I stopped and reached out with my wizardly senses that I felt her lurking in the still unfinished addition.

She was sitting crosslegged on the table I'd used when the room was my impromptu lab. I'd left one of my bunsen burners and she was toying with it, turning the gas flow up and down so the flame rose and fell at her command.

I walked in, about to ask her if she wanted to talk about it, but something caught my eye and instead I said, "What'd you do to your hair?"

Molly stiffened and spun around to look at me. "Oh. Hi." She set the burner aside and reached up to twirl one strand of hair around her finger. It was a soft green hue, a faded pastel color smuggled into her blond hair. "I dyed it. Mom dyed it back."

I stepped forward and took the strand from her, peering at it. "Doesn't look like it worked."

Molly smiled tightly. "It's that kind of sharp, incisive observation that makes you a good detective."

Now I got around to it: "Want to talk about it?"

She shook her head but said, "Nothing to say. I wanted to do my own thing, Mom found out."

"I heard something about a pole?"

"Mom was giving me driving lessons. I was wearing a hat. It got knocked off and she saw what I did." Molly unfolded her legs to let them swing to and fro off her perch. "There was some yelling and I missed a light so some guy honked at me and I panicked and..." Her rambling cut off as she hung her head.

I sighed and put an arm around her shoulders. She waited a moment before leaning on my chest and hugging me. "Anyone hurt?"

"No," she muttered sullenly. "Just gave Mom more reason to yell at me. She made me dye it back when we got home."

I tugged lightly at the colored strand. "Don't know. Looks cute like that."

Molly shoved me and glared. "I wasn't going for cute. I'm going to be sixteen in July. I want to look attractive, I want to drive, I want to get a boyfriend and to have a chance to..." She waved her hands, like she could physically grasp at the words she wanted. "To be... one person, not just part of the big weird family." She put her head against me again, gaze down and hidden behind her hair. "Is that so wrong?"

That I could understand. Even I thought of the family as a collective, this big amorphous creature that could devour you if you weren't careful (case in point being me). I mean that in the most benevolent way possible. For a teenage girl looking for her identity, it must've been stifling. And I knew Charity well enough now that I could imagine how she reacted to Molly's little rebellion. Not that any of us could be surprised. Few kids got so much joy out of driving the adults in their lives crazy. Molly in particular was a pro at it.

I rubbed her arm as soothingly as I could. "Sucks."

She laughed. "Yeah."

I leaned back and looked her in the eyes until I felt the tug of a soulgaze. It was disappointing we had to have that barrier between us because of my magic, but now was not the time to complain about it. "Being part of this family, it's a really lucky thing, Mols. And even then, you are not just another Carpenter." Though I didn't think that sounded so bad myself.

She rolled her eyes. "I don't need the special snowflake talk, Uncle Harry."

"I mean it. You're aggravating as hell, you're like a living tornado, you got fashion sense--"

"Coming from you, that means nothing," she mumbled, turning red.

"--You take even less nonsense than your mom does, you're funny, and no one in the world who knows you would see just another Carpenter."

She groaned. "But they don't know me! That was the whole point!" Molly didn't seem impressed by my heartfelt sharing. Oh well. I tried.

"This is Chicago, Mols. It's hard to grab the attention of city people. If you lived in Missouri, you'd definitely stand out."

Molly hopped off the table and walked away. "I knew you wouldn't get it."

Once again, I had so much respect for Charity. Kids were hard. What was I supposed to say? I jogged to follow her. Like me, she had long legs and used them to get as much distance from me as she could.

I followed her into the kitchen. She had the fridge open, fishing out a jug of apple juice. I was glad to see her get two glasses out of the cabinet, pouring for both of us. One of her favorite passive aggressive tricks was to do the one-glass thing to tell someone they weren't welcome.

I propped myself up in the doorway. "So maybe I don't. I'm not going to fib and tell you I know what that's like. I've always been that outsider. Being just another Dresden would've been nice in my life."

"You have no idea how great that sounds." She gestured up and down at my height and tapped my pentacle. "You walk down the street with a staff! And a dramatic coat! No one yells at you when you crash your car."

That was not strictly true, but I didn't think bringing up John would help. "My clothes may seem real edgy to you, missy, but they're for protection."

"I know, god!" She dug her hands in her hair and pulled, mussing it. "I just... I don't know. It feels like I'm being suffocated here. Everything's going wrong and I'm changing and... it's like trying to walk a tightrope, but no one teaches you how to keep your balance."

Stars and stones. That I could relate to, even if I didn't want to spend time thinking about my years with Justin and Elaine. It was too raw. It'd probably always be too raw. When it happened to me, no one was there to help. Now, watching Molly flounder, I had no idea what to do for her.

"Mols. What can I do?"

She handed me a drink and leaned against the other side of the door frame. "Mom says I can keep the ear piercings, but the rest has to go. I'm not getting behind the wheel of the cars for a while, so my summer plans are shot. Grounded. My permit's probably going to expire before they let me try again."

That was pretty grim. "Sorry, kid. I'd help out, but I don't even have a car anymore."

"Would you help if you still had the Bug?"

"Beetle. Yeah, of course. Maybe it'd be easier if it were me instead of your mom." It was harmless to say, given the tragic death of my car. And anything to cheer Molly up.

It seemed to work. Somewhat. She rocked the glass of juice against her lip then said in a quiet voice, "Thanks."

I smiled and tugged her bit of green hair. "S'what I'm here for. And go easy on Charity. She loves you. You just drive up everyone's blood pressure."

Molly laughed, a genuine one for once. I counted our little chat as a win.



John Marcone was a life-ruiner.

A few days after Molly and I had that talk, John and I had breakfast. I told him I needed a ride to the Alphas for our Call of Cthulhu game, and John wiped his mouth with his napkin primly before saying, "Taken care of. Your ride's in the garage."

"Thanks." I stole a grape out of his parfait before heading out.

And in the garage, slightly dented but otherwise whole and functional, was the Blue Beetle.



Chapter Twelve

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Good work.

That was not strictly true, but I didn't think brining up John would help.

I think you meant bringing up here. Although the jokes that could be made . . .

:fixes: What typo? There was no typo.

w00t! The return of the Blue Beetle! It's ridiculous how much I missed that car.

First, John reserected the Beatle? But he hated that car.
Harry's talk with Molly was really nice. It seems like she might actually have a chance at avoiding the Doom here.
You worked in bondage sex. I love you for this.

But he hated that car.

Yes, he does. He really does. But he did it anyway.

Also, considering I hate Proven Guilty more than almost any other book I've read, yeah, you can bet I'm not borrowing the Molly plotline from that PoS.

Edited at 2011-06-14 07:29 pm (UTC)

Oh, John let him have the Blue Beetle? I thought he'd use the opportunity to get Harry a better, safer car. Then again, maybe he thinks that if the Beetle can withstand a Fallen Angel, it isn't that bad a car. Now, I'm wondering what kind of upgrades he put in there, because John is sneaky like that. I bet the Blue Beetle is even back to totally blue.

I love the scene in the boat with the two of them slowly reconnecting and the show of trust John gave Harry, first by talking about his past and later by letting him tight him up even after what happened.

On a different note, I want Gard back, Harry should learn to share wizard-y duties.

As much as John hates the car, he's acutely aware that it's kind of his fault that Harry lost his apartment and a lot of his stuff. He can't bring himself to take anything else from him. But hell yeah it's back to blue.

I like Gard too, but given how much John must have to pay for her, I don't think he'd keep her out all the time. In certain situations, he'll contract her, but otherwise no. 8( She shooooooould be back. I think. :consults outline: Maybe.

"So it's just forzare backwards," he finished, rubbing his face. "You are ridiculous."
HEEEEEEEE. HOW IS THAT SO CUTE? These guys are so adorable (when they're not being scary).


Dancing and SHARING. *lip wibble*

So he safely got Little Harry in the car without having to save him from a Denarian coin? But but but LASH *waily*

And now Harry has to eat his own words and let Molly drive around his car. XD

Sorry about real life things, I wanted to post happy fun times music for you, but my brain blanked and I couldn't think of any.

No Lash, sorry. I know a lot of people wanted to see her, but... I have nothing original to bring to that plot, so I'm not doing it. Golden rule of thus AU.

That was so great! Still fairly quiet, and I'm still adoring Harry's increased interactions with the Carpenters. It's kind of sad he isn't as close to Murphy, though - will their friendship ever take off in your 'verse? And hahahahha, Marcone, life-ruiner! I kind of thought John might fix the Beetle, and having it be a negative rather than 100% positive for Harry is just hysterical. Yay, looking forward to madcap driving lessons! ^__^ Oh, and I saw above that you aren't using the Proven Guilty storyline for Molly - awesome! I don't think it would work for this 'verse, anyway, and I'm so glad you're the kind of author who wouldn't just shoehorn in canon plot in spite of changes you've made.

Harry's pretty much married to the head of the Outfit. That alone means Murphy and Harry won't be kicking it off. I tried to give him a more familial connection with the Carpenters instead.

:foams at the mouth just thinking of PG:

The Beetle returns! Yay! I'm ridiculously happy that, in spite of John's hate for the Beetle and the fact that he must have an embolism every time Harry drives off in it worry about the safety of the thing, he resurrected it because he knows how much it means to Harry. *resists urge to attempt to cuddle your Marcone*

Is Harry going to try and play matchmaker with Cujo and Gard? Because that would be hilarious!

The entire boat...thing. The get away, and then Harry tying John up and John letting him and it being okay even though they're still not all 'fixed' and...I've got little except for flaily love, really.

I like what you're doing with Molly's story, too.

After you get your boyfriend's apartment burned down, it's not nice to take his car too.

I dunno about matchmaker-- that would be hilariously bad for sure. He'd be awful at it. Subtle Harry is not. But I thiiiiink Gard's coming back later.

Ugh. You kill me. This is so awesome. I like PG, so I'll hold my tongue. I like him having a Padawan. I love this, though. Amazing. Keep up the good work!

Reading PG made me want to take a shower. It was a really gross, unpleasant experience for me. But I do like the idea of Molly, if not Butcher's execution, so. :gestures:

Yay another chapter!

It's nice getting more relaxed John and Harry, and I love Hendricks. Poor man. The Molly thing was really interesting and well done. It's neat to see more of her at that slightly younger age, just before we ran into her more in the real series. I'm really curious where you're going to go with this.

Love John and his hate of the Blue Beetle, but him getting it fixed for Harry anyway. :D Awesome.

*giggle* Harry gets his beloved car back and it's not a good thing. That is very sweet of John to return Harry's car to him considering how much he hates it.

Hmm. Wonder if Mols is in collusion with Hendricks. Would not put it past her at all!

Bwahahahaha, I was so right about the Beetle! John is such a secret sweetheart.
Also, I'm SO EXCITED for the White Court arc, you are gonna make it EVEN MORE EPIC than in canon. And I don't just say that cause I"m excited for Thomas to show up.
Also, allow me to preface this by saying I get waaay to into this AU and thus have BURNING need to know EXACTLY what makes things different from canon. So... why the erazrof thing, when in canon forzare works from any direction? My personal theory is that Matterverse Harry is just not as good at all the big strong magics as canon Harry, so he creates more specific spells that aren't as useful generally, but have more specific applications.
Anyway. Great chapter. Oh, also the first sentence made me flashback to the end of Changes. It is probably the first time that the canon messed up my grasp of fanfic, rather than the other way around.

There was a WCV arc in the canon? Oh, I guess, that was most of BR and the end of WN. Hm.

Correct. MoC!Harry is not the powerhouse slob Canon!Harry is. Over time, MoC!Harry's fine control is going to get better and better. He'll never be weak, but he won't be as stupidly overpowered like in canon. To me, his magic in canon is often an act of desperation and he pours everything he has into his attacks. That's reflected in how he lives-- lonely warrior, living paycheck to paycheck for a lot of the series, almost perpetually in danger from one thing or another.

In MoC, he isn't so desperate. he has a large support base and has the time to study magic at his leisure. In the books, I remember him considering one of the many Deals with the Devil he's offered by the virtue of having time. He wants time to experiment with his Art and hone his skills. In MoC, he has that chance. So, magically, he's developing differently.

Hope that helps! This all will be more obvious late in Book Two and through a lot of Book Three.

Edited at 2011-06-15 11:53 pm (UTC)

I loved this chapter. The slow reconnect between John and Harry was awesome and very much needed. Though I cant help but fear for the blue beetle with Molly behind the wheel. And also can I say

"God, fuck Proven Guilty hard with a rusty steel condom, I'm not even kidding."

So fucking funny, and true. PG did nothing to endear Molly to me as a character and made me want to take a note out of Murphy's book and chip one of Harry's teeth. So much awesome. Have fun in Florida.

Lovely chapter, as always. I like that Harry asks if it's something important John's working on--losing contact mid-sentence of a mobster during something vital would be kind of a problem. That flinching away from the incident at the Drake is a nice touch--they might be reconciled now but that doesn't mean it didn't happen and they don't have to be careful. Also, props to writing Harry the orphan's frank 'you think you have problems?' tone and giving Molly half a clue and understandable motivations. (Has Butcher ever met a teenage girl/young woman? Or a small girl--I'm thinking mostly of 'Restoration of Faith' and that painfully precious runaway.)

Regarding Harry's Batman-like subtle detecting skills: here. My kingdom for some context--but honestly, it's basically perfect on its own.

Finally got to catch up with the story. Good arcs. Love how you turned the world of Harry Dresden and associates into your own. The Shroud arc was done nicely done and the relaxing arc was just what everyone needed. Poor Harry...be careful what you promise teens..you might have to deliver..hahaha..
Luv your work and so happy I could play catch up. Will wait for the rest. Hope you like working in Florida. I lived there for a few years. Am in California for a few weeks. My contract got cut so not sure where I will be for the rest of the summer. Enjoy yourself. Take care. cat

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