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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 (12/?)

Table of Contents

Title: putting out your fires with gasoline, Book Two of The Matter of Chicago
Rating/Warnings: PG, no warnings.
Word Count: Apparently my wordcounter on Google Docs is massively inaccurate, so I'll have a new, revised count next chapter.

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

Notes: Florida is nice, ya'll, if you can ignore the crazy heat. And they have amazing bagels. Whoever decided it was a good idea to turn salmon into a bagel smear needs a Nobel Prize for something. omfg. :om nom nom:

This is a shortish chapter, wrapping up the filler because we start The Good Bit.



Molly pulled us up next to the abandoned school building on the South Side with all the grace of a drunken duck.

I braced myself on the dash. “Gradual. Gradual.

Molly winced. “Sorry. I just keep thinking I'm going to hit the guy in front of me.”

“Well, if you wait 'til the last second to brake, Mols, you will.” I scrubbed my face. “Think you can parallel this?”

Molly looked out the window at the small gaps between the cars along the sidewalk. “Um.”

I waved a hand, dismissive. I needed to stop stealing John's tics, to be honest. “Look, I'm just going to run in, grab the package, and get out of there. You can keep the car running, probably.”

“What, in the middle of the street?”

“Yeah.”

“What if someone comes up behind me? What if I'm blocking them?” She said this like blocking someone was akin to punching them in the nuts. Stars and stones, I should have just bundled her over to Missouri and taught her there. Driving in rural America was mellow, as calm and slow-paced as Chicago was fast and pushy. The city wasn't a great environment to learn, really, but I didn't have much choice. Molly was still in school and I couldn't just ship her south with me.

So we were stuck with me casually slamming the imaginary brake on the passenger's side every time Molly sped along the streets. I'd been doing that so often, my foot was twinging in pain.

How did I get roped into this? Oh right, John Marcone being a life-ruiner.

That'd been an interesting morning. Getting my car fixed (and repainted so it was actually, uniformly blue) had been his idea of a Sorry For Being An Asshole present. He'd expected me to be thrilled. And I was, for the three seconds it took me to remember the promise I made Molly about teaching her to drive.

Still, it was kind of sweet. I knew he hated my car like I hated the vitamin waters he pointedly replaced all my Coke with. That hadn't changed-- he still glared at the Beetle like it'd offended his mother. But he saved it anyway.

Now Molly was doing her best to kill it again. I'd already replaced the brakes once in the last month.

“If someone drives up, just circle the block and come back.” She gave me a wide-eyed, stunned look. “Breathe, grasshopper. You'll be fine around the block. Just remember the brake.” Before she could protest further, I grabbed my staff and climbed out of the car, patting the roof once I was clear.

“You know, technically it's illegal for me to drive without a licensed driver in the car,” she said hopefully.

“Circle the block, Molly. I'll be back soon.” I left her there and headed into the abandoned school to attend to the matter at hand.

I'd been contracted by some out-of-towners. A couple of Tibetan monks had misplaced a litter of puppies that were vitally important. Apparently they were descended from a demi-god canine, more guardian spirit than animal, and the puppies had some magical oomph to them.

It wasn't the weirdest job I'd been on, and I wasn't about to question it. I credited myself as a finder of lost things. There was no reason that wouldn't include part-demi-god pets.

To find the puppies, the monks had given me a blanket that served as bed linen for them. It had a strong enough thaumaturgical link to lead me here, and further yet. My tracking spells were becoming more and more refined. Bob and I had been working together to better my repetoire.

In that spirit, I put myself in a chalk circle with the blanket and a pair of green-lensed sunglasses. They were an unwieldy pair of hornrims that did nothing to flatter me, but the frames were think enough I'd been able to take a needle and etch some runes into them. With some creative spell crafting, the glasses became a conduit for my powers. They were the magical equivalent of infrared googles.

I got the idea from a movie.

I made a link, like weaving a thread, from the blanket to the puppies and looped it all into the glasses. The runes flashed once and I broke the circle, putting the eyewear on.

The lenses were still green, but lighter in places. I got a clearer image as I faced my target, guiding me along. I spun on my heel until my vision became crisp and sharp, then headed off in that direction.

Looking back, it was too easy, finding the puppies herded into one of the empty classrooms. In my defense, I hadn't walked in expecting this to be a difficult job. I wouldn't have brought Molly along otherwise.

The puppies were gathered with a ring of desks around them, tipped so the flat surfaces formed a wall keeping them in. I leaned over to look at them. Most of them yipped happily at my face, crowding each other to get closer. They were fluffy little things on stubby legs, barking excitedly. Cute.

“Hey, guys. Ready to get out of here?”

The puppies piled onto each other in their enthusiasm to get to me. They were like a little cheerleader pyramid of fuzzballs. I held in the urge to make embarrassing, charmed noises.

“I'll be right back. Need something to carry you guys with...” I retreated back into the hallway, back to a utility closet I'd passed. It took some digging and I probably inhaled a lot of dust in the process, but I found a basket of cleaning supplies. I dumped out the contents and laid the blanket inside as bedding.

I returned to the pups and started to evacuate them, setting them inside the basket. It was a tight fit and the basket was absurdly heavy once full, but I hitched them up on my hip and started the slow process of carrying them out.

A puppy yipped urgently at the same time I got the sixth sense feeling of something taking aim at me. I ducked, just quickly enough to avoid a wad of something noxious and on fire.

Way too easy.

I didn't stop to see what the hell I'd pissed off. I grabbed the basket with both hands and legged it the best I could down the hallway. It was awkward and my limbs burned with the effort to run full-tilt with the weight in my arms. I heard movement behind me, an screeching and the sound of many feet. The noise echoed around the cavernous corridor, sending chills up my spine.

I felt something wet and unpleasant hit the back of my coat. It was hot and landed with enough force it would've left a nasty bruise if not for the protections threaded into my duster. I'd only added to the wards in my duster over time, a nice easy project for late nights when I couldn't sleep. Nothing would make it through, short of heavy artillery and high-level ritual magic.

Reaching the stairwell I'd come up, I got an idea, one of my favorite tricks for barbequeing vampire hit squads back when Chicago had to worry about the Reds. I half-threw myself down the stairs, needing to get to the bottom as quickly as I could. When I did, I dropped the basket on the floor, shouting, “Sorry, hang on!” when the puppies protested adamantly at my rough handling.

I hooked my hand on the railing and swung back to the stairs, smoothly dropping my staff and grabbing my blasting rod instead. I pointed upward and took a quick look at my attackers: baboon-shaped demons, purple mottled skin, red eyes, claws filled with a burning tar-like substance. Lots of them.

I pointed my rod at them. “VENTAS FUEGO!

A cyclone of fire poured out of my rod, filling the air above me with a whirling mix of heat, flame, and wind.

I didn't wait to see how it worked. The stairwell was smaller than I usually liked when tossing around magic, and the temperature was already climbing at an alarming rate. I scooped up the basket, my staff, and barreled out the door.

The Beetle was sitting where I'd left it in the street next to the school, and I wasted no time clamboring over to it, jumping onto a car hood and sliding across in my haste. I opened the back seat door, tossed the puppies in, then climbed in the passenger's seat. “Go!”

Molly gave me a stunned, scared look. “Wh-what?”

“Use that lead foot of yours and go, Molly!”

There was a crash, the sound of glass breaking, and some of the baboon demons tumbled out one of the third storey windows to the dead grass below. The first one that got to its feet heaved another glob of fire mud.

“MOLLY!”

Molly let out a despairing, whining sound but floored it. She'd forgotten to put the car in drive, though, so the engine just revved dangerously. I reached over and put her in gear and off we sped.

The demons gave chase. For a bunch of deformed monkey things, they moved fast, and my Beetle was just a four cylinder being driven by a novice. “Drive straight, don't stop!”

“What if there's a red light? What if--”

“Not now, Molly!” I rolled down the window and gripped my blasting rod tight as I hauled my upper body out of the car. Sitting on the door, I held onto the Oh Shit Handle inside and leaned, lining up a shot.

“What the fuck are you doing?!” Molly shrieked.

“No cursing, I'll tell Charity!” I snapped back at her. “Eyes on the road.” I drew in my will, focused on a more controlled shot that was usually in my bag. “Forzare!

Unseen force drove down the street and hit the lead demon square in the face. It tumbled, went down, getting in the way of its brethren and sending a lot of them tripping to the ground. Molly was using her utter lack of driving finesse for good, putting plenty of distance between us and the hoarde.

I whooped with triumph and slithered back into the car. “Good job, Mols.”

Molly nodded shakily. “Yeah?”

“Yes, totally. You'd make a good getaway driver.”

“M-maybe your boyfriend can get me a job,” she joked weakly.

“And then Charity could skin me, sure. Sounds fun.” I sagged back in the seat, sighing. In the back, the puppies yipped more calmly, rough-housing in the back seat. “Okay. North, now. Head to O'Hare. Let's drop these little guys off.”



We met the monks at the tarmac. By the time Molly navigated our way to O'Hare, the puppies had abandoned the basket and were exploring my car as much as their little puppy legs allowed. I set Molly to the task of rounding them up before going to meet with my contractees. The monks spoke English like I spoke Latin, but I managed to convey the job was done, no, no payment was needed, and we were getting the puppies now.

Molly teetered this way and that as she carried the basket over. “Harry--”

I stooped to take it from her. “Good job, kid. Got 'em all?”

“I think so.” She sagged back against the Beetle, tucking her hands in her jacket pockets.

The monks took the puppies, thanked me (or so I assumed, they could have been cursing my name for all I understood them), and boarded their private plane back to the East, where magic was older and the Art was an entirely different beast. Some day, I needed to look into Eastern interpretations of the Art.

I'd just add that to my long, long, long list of things I wanted to study. Even if I avoided getting myself killed before I reached my first century, I didn't think I'd ever run out of things to learn. I got wrapped up in my magic sometimes, especially lately, when I had the time to dedicate to it.

Molly and I got back in the car. She was shaking slightly, so I drove for a while, letting her relax. She'd done a great job, more than I would have anticipated. It was nice to see her grow under my supervision. I was proud of her for keeping a mostly cool head.

Halfway back to the Carpenters', Molly asked, “Uncle Harry?”

“Yeah?”

She was quiet a long time, like she'd forgotten what she was going to say. I frowned and looked sideways at her. She was staring out the window at the early spring of Chicago, the trees starting to show their first tiny leaves. In comparison, Molly's expression was still locked in winter, cold and distant.

A twinge of worry worked through me. “Mols?”

She turned and blinked at me. “Oh. Um. Nevermind.”

“Sure?”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“It's... fine. I'm here if you need me, though.”

She smiled wanly. “Thanks. Really. That's... good to hear.”

The rest of the drive was silent as I took her home.



I unloaded on Bob later. Not that Bob was the best to share my feelings with, but Hendricks wasn't on house duty tonight and John wasn't home yet.

“Well, she's getting to that age, right?” Bob said in a lascivious tone. “Maybe she's growing up and starting to--”

“Stop it,” I said, cutting him off before he could say anything. I didn't want to imagine Molly in any of the situations Bob had in mind. It was vaguely incestuous.

“I'm just saying, boss. She's a young ingenue. You're the tall, dark man in her life...”

I did something that looked like pouting, but definitely wasn't. “Not handsome?”

“If you want compliments, talk to your man. I'm not here to flatter you, I'm here to get you tail.”

“I get enough tail.”

“Which you never share with me. I thought we were friends, boss.”

I rolled my eyes. “We're private people, Bob. You're just going to have to accept that.”

Bob sighed, long and heart-felt. “Doesn't help that I have to look at your aura all day. The way you two are mixed up with each other, you gotta be having fun every night.”

My poor lab assistant, unable to play creepy voyuer on my love life. That sound you hear is the world's smallest violin.

“Well, if you're not going to help me with Molly--”

“I would love to help you with Molly,” Bob protested.

“-- Then lets do some experiments. I tried the tracking glasses today. I've been thinking about making more precision items like that, small things to help me hone my magic.”

Bob rocked his skull in his approximation of a nod. “I've got some ideas for that...”

Running through Bob's ideas, developing some, shooting down others, helped take my mind off Molly. In hindsight, that was a really, really bad thing. If I knew how to use time travel magic and had immunity from the Laws, I'd go back and slap myself upside the head for putting Molly aside like that. What was to come was my own fault and I was probably never going to forgive myself. I owed her better if I was going to play honorary uncle. I owed it to her family to be more observant and to actually protect them. What I'd done to deserve their familial love, I have no idea. Not enough, in my opinion.

But that, all of that, was later. Molly was collateral, swept up into events that shouldn't have concerned her.

It all started so simply. These things tended to.

It started with my ex writing an article.

And from there, everything went to hell.

Not literally. Small mercies.



Hot town, summer in the city. Time to hang up the duster for a few months. I love my coat, but last year the heat index spiked and John had pretty much given me an ultimatum of put my leathers away for the season or he'd throw me in a nice, cool, basement panic room.

We'd had some stern words and a minor fight that resulted in me blowing out most of the lights in the house as I raged. John eventually resorted to shoving me in the small pond outside the house to make me relax. Hendricks had shown up and declared us both idiots in that quiet manner of his and asked me why I didn't just make a light jacket with warding abilities. Then he had a talk with John that left John unnaturally sullen for the rest of the night. I was pretty sure he'd gotten a scolding for being an overbearing control freak.

Seriously. John and I would have been the romantic equivalent of mutually assured destruction without good ol' Cujo around.

I sat at the kitchen table at my home away from home as Charity set out a plate of delicious sandwiches and sweet potato fries for the kids and me. I had a needle and thread in my hand as I stitched new wards into a denim jacket I'd been using for the hot weather. It was actually the third coat I'd given this treatment to along with my duster and one of John's more favored suit jackets. The Don wasn't going to be taken out by any stray bullets, which was a relief to me.

The younger kids were sitting on the other side of the glass patio doors. They were playing with a puppy.

Yeah. Whoops.

After the job with the dogs, I'd gotten home and was regaling John with the story of my latest driving lesson with Molly. He'd been acting politely interested until I got the the epic chase bit with monkey demons, which had disapproval, worry, and amusement warring for real estate on his face. Midway through my tale, Tulane had leaned into the kitchen.

"I'm sorry to interrupt," he'd said, frowning. "Mr. Dresden, we found something in your car."

Just like that, John's threat alertness had gone from green to yellow, maybe orange. "Something, Mr. Tulane?"

He'd nodded and walked over to us, a box balanced on his hip. I knew Tulane wouldn't bring in anything genuinely dangerous, so I'd gotten up to look inside.

"Oh stars," I'd muttered, looking down at the sleeping puppy in the box. Then I'd looked up at John. "Um."

John had sighed. "I'm not going to like this, am I?"

He hadn't, but when even his resources couldn't reach the monks over in Tibet, we'd resigned ourselves to the fact I'd accidentally gotten us a dog. Really, Mister was more pissed off than John was. Mister had enjoyed having free reign over the giant house, patrolling the hallways as often as the guards and hunting for mice in the lawn. Now, he had to share.

It'd taken just a day of being bullied by my monster of a cat for Mouse to learn his place.

Yeah, Mouse. The puppy was tiny and quiet and liked to sleep in my pocket or at John's feet. The name fit and was weird and incongruous enough that it stuck before Hendricks could suggest something from classic literature or John could get Laelaps to stick.

I took Mouse with me on slow days when I wasn't expecting trouble. When I had a job to do, I left him home to be doted on by the Outfit guys. Nothing is funnier than catching two big concealed weapon-carrying goons arguing about which one gets to take the puppy for a walkie. The kids liked him too, though Charity decreed that Mouse was to stay outside until I had him housebroken.

The little fuzzball was growing. He barely fit in my pocket anymore and had stopped tripping over his own legs as he bounded around the back yard. The kids cheered him on as he chased squirrels.

It was the kind of warm peacefulness I'd come to expect from the house. It wasn't always like this-- when Michael was out on Knightly errands, there was a weird fretful tension in the air. But Michael was out on house-building business on the South Side and that tension was absent. I basked in the friendly atmosphere, sipping sunshine tea and munching on homemade fries.

There was a knock at the door. Charity went to answer as I watched the family.

"Harry," she called, and I reluctantly got up and shuffled to the door.

One of the goons I vaguely recognized was staying just inside the door. Charity looked really unhappy about having him there. As long as I kept the Outfit away from the Carpenter house, she didn't guilt me about being in a relationship with a crime lord. This was obviously crossing the line.

"What happened?" I asked. "Where do you need me?"

The goon spread his stance a bit, blocking the door with his body. "Mr. Marcone requests you remain here until he can send for you, Mr. Dresden."

"Why?"

"This location is marked as a safe house, sir," the goon said.

That made sense. After the Denarian business, Michael and I had put some concentrated effort into boosting the protections around John's place, and while we were at it I started putting some basic wards on the Carpenter's home. We were still adding things; I was planning on implementing some anti-faerie guards on the door, but we were discussing whether the spells I was going to work into the iron should be Judeo-Christian-based (fueled by the people living there) or more Pagan-based (easier for me to work with efficiently).

But that was all beside the point. "Again, why?"

The goon shook his head. "I'm not to say. Mr. Marcone asks that..." He screwed up his face, seeming to recall his instructions carefully. "Whatever you may hear, you give him a chance to explain."

I sighed. "Well, that's ominous. Why can't I just go and ask John myself?"

"Mr. Marcone asks that you--"

"Stay put and out of trouble, yeah, got that, thanks." I sighed. "Come on, give me something to work with, or I'm going to go investigate for myself."

The goon's professional detachment cracked, just a little. "I shouldn't say, sir."

My staff was leaning against the wall neat the door. I tipped my head towards it significantly.

His eyes darted around, checking for eavesdroppers. "You got a computer here?"

"We do," Charity said. "Though Harry's not allowed near it anymore."

"Sorry about that, Charity," I mumbled, reddening.

The goon coughed. "Look up the site for the Midwestern Arcane. Gotta new feature up. You'll know it when you see it."

Charity excused herself to go do computery things. I told the messenger goon to stay put and went to the living room to wait.

Charity's mouth had a decidedly grim set when she returned and handed me a sheet of paper. I read it.

It was news article. The headline read: Chicago mob controls succubi with dueling night clubs.

Any other day, I'd have read a headline like that and laughed. But today there was an Outfit man at the door.

And the by-line revealed the journalist to be Susan Rodriguez.



Chapter Thirteen

Grene is now calling Harry's car the Actually Blue Beetle. :amused:

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Comments

\o/ Mouse! Plot! Plot where I've mentally erased the book from my brain! I am intrigued.

I'm pretty sure salmon cream cheese isn't just a Florida thing. I mean, I have no trouble finding it in Maryland! :)

I live in Missouri.

Florida is like a whole new world of cuisine.


:om nom nom nom:

I read two chapters at once because... Well, I just do. Two is better than one. So! I loved the sexy boat fun and I'm very glad they managed to get back into their roles. I can only imagine how awkward it was for Harry to be hearing all about John's businesses.

As for this chapter... loved it, but I have to admit I'm pretty nervous. I mean, yay Mouse, but Susan getting involved will probably spell trouble for the guys' realtioship. When she left they weren't together yet (maipulative Marcone is amazing) so I wonder how she's going to react. Although I suppose she may already know. Who knows what papers are printing about John's relationhip with Harry. Also, considering how much you hate what JB did with Molly (wholehearted agreement here) I'm nervous about what you're going to do to fix it. I mean, Charity was amazing in PG, but otherwise the book was difficult to read because of the multitude of bad dicisions made across the board.

I'll stop ranting now, but I'm going to be waiting anxiously for the next two chapters!

I was just rereading a bit of PG to help me work on my map of Occult Chicago okay right

and early on Harry apparently calls Molly "Frankenhooker"

every time I look at PG, it's like a perpetual motion machine of fail. it's an mc escher staircase one continuous fail. i can't even. i so can't even, i cannot find the strength to use my shift key

Woo super relieved. For a minute there I thought there would be no mouse. I was about to cry. Then when the puppy appeared I almost cheered. Mmmm I love this story so much. I love how close this feels to the original books in style and flavor just a little less angst and more sexy fun. Thanks for writing and I look forward to more.

just a little less angst

:bursts out laughing:

I um, I mean, yeah. That. Totally. :coughs:

Thank you for updating so fast. I am just finishing the previous chapter and this is great news.

I've just re-read Book1 and loved it even more than the first time. Thanks so much! Your writing is just incredibly good and this whole story is just amazing. I don't believe I've read many published books that are better.

So once more - THANKS!

P.S. are there more of your works we can read somewhere?

Aw, thank you. :twirls: Any of my fic that I don't hate is over here, if you like.

Oh, wow! I love Molly being in on the chase with the monkeys, and Mouse! I was worried Harry didn't get Mouse for a moment! (Or was gotten by Mouse? ... Accounts differ, hee.) I'm kind of sad we're leaving the fluffy bits, the foreshadowing about Molly is v v ominous - especially since you aren't following that book. What could it be? And this article! So, Susan was never partially-vamped, she's still writing stories ... Argh, can't remember the books well enough to figure out what this could be referring to. Unless we're getting into White Court stuff finally? Ooh, will there be Thomas?

We are going into White Court, and this arc is not based on any of the books, no. So guesses based on the canon are probably not going to be correct. :smirk:

*grins like a loon and giggles for the first half of the fic*

That was so cute and very, very Harry. I love Harry having to actually give Molly lessons and cursing Marcone's name while still being thrilled to have the Beetle back, because you know he is.

The *glasses*! And Mouse! Yay Mouse! Also, ah-hahaaa 'Laelaps'. A more appropriate name, maybe, but not as cute as Mouse. :)

I read every bit with Molly going, 'Catch a clue, Harry, please!' And resisting the urge to shake him somehow. I really, really hope that Molly's storyline doesn't involve the whole...everything with Nelson, etc. from PG. I know you're not following that book, but I still have this fear that Molly's going to do something gigantically bad and get in trouble with the Council. I can completely live without the Doom thing, honest.

And I realize that I could also have lived without Susan coming back. Very ominous...

I like John having his Thing about Greek mythology. When you're dealing with a character who, in canon, is just 100% suave and unshakeable, I think letting them have weird tics and habit humanizes them. Or something, IDK.

Not to spoil, but the Doom is not happening. Molly is not going to have it easy this coming arc by any means, but her troubles will not even remotely resemble PG. Because fuck PG, srsly.

I think I'm the only person who likes Susan. Oh well.

Yay for update and appearance of Mouse!! And also , boo for Susan. The article to me is interesting though. As Lerabird pointed out who knows what other papers are saying about Harry and John. Is it possible she caught wind of their relationship from her old editor? ( I cant believe that no one in the media would dish the gossip on some thing like that) and maybe the articl is a blast on John to strike at Harry? And yay for white court vampires!! Would it be too much to ask for Laura to eat Susan? I'm sorry, I just didn't really care for her very much.

It's been two years since she and Harry were dating and their split was amicable (albeit kind of blind-siding Harry). She's not a romantic rival and I'm not going to stuff her in the fridge. 8|

lol yeah I can see your point. Again sorry about my bashing.

Ooh, something coming back to bite Marcone on the arse? And Yay! Mouse! Still as adorable as ever. :-)

Mouse makes everything that much cooler. Seriously.

I'm also split on who was funnier driving the getaway car, Molly or Thomas. On the one hand, Molly is so me when I was learning how to drive, all WHY AM I DOING THIS and TOO FAST SCAAARY, and Thomas was....well, post-brother Thomas. (I still want a fic on Harry's feelings about Thomas after he finds out, considering his pushing of Susan off to the Red Court. Seriously. It's pretty obvious Butcher pulled a George Lucas and didn't intend them to be brothers originally, and am I the only one who's wondering why we haven't gotten angsty Dresden issues over that moment?) I don't know; I am undecided.

I will be sad if you don't attempt to keep the turkey, though. Just for the LULZ.

Edited at 2011-06-24 09:56 pm (UTC)

Oh INTERESTING!


LOVE Mouse. Utterly adorable. What are you doing with Susan? I know she's not half-vampire, so things are going to be different, but honestly I'd kind of forgotten about her. Dueling night clubs?

Interesting to have Molly in the car instead of Thomas. Also love Charity and the way you've really brought the Carpenters into it. :)

Oh, I do so love what you're doing here. Sorry about my complete lapse in beta duties, by the way. This chapter came out great, regardless.

The invisible brake pedal sure gets a workout during the permit stage of any driving lessons, huh? XD Tiny, adorable puppies, everyone's a sucker for them. Half the big macho guys I've known have also been incredibly shmoopy dog owners, and half of those were dog trainers... I think Mouse is too smart to tolerate normal dog training, though.

Oh, Molly. I predict there will be some really goddamn bad decisions in your future, but I still feel sorry for you. At least this time there is none of that creepy sexualized what-the-fuck-I-don't-even leering and some actual characterization past 'young woman who is sexy and DRUNK on the sexiness of her DARK POWER' ugh ugh kill me now. And Harry's at least got the sense to blame himself for not paying more attention. Because uh. Those are some serious red flags he's choosing to set aside there.

I appreciate the fair treatment of Susan a lot. She is how she is, that doesn't make her a villain, it just makes her someone else who Harry didn't really know how to treat right outside of a formal date context. Even without Marcone and whatever else, Harry would need to change a lot before he and Susan could ever quite work out long-term. I think I like Susan better as an independent agent (one not destined to see the inside of a fridge, thanks). This arrangement, here? Suits me just fine.

That's totally fine. Your betaing is a huge favor to me, I'm not about to get mad about it. Just so I know-- do you want the next chapter? It's fine if you don't have the time, just need to know.

I would rant more about Molly and her role in the series, but I think everyone in the goddamn fandom knows my thoughts on the subject. One day I will write a massive post, Why Proven Guilty Sucks And You Suck For Liking It (IE the FRANKENHOOKER post). But that's later.

I unrepentantly love Susan (pre-Changes, anyway-- keeping Maggie's existence away from Harry given his history with foster homes and orphanages seems ridiculous OOC to me). Susan, as a character concept, is awesome. Butcher just didn't know what to do with her outside Love Interest, so he fridged her. Twice.

NGL, I am kind of impressed Butcher managed to fridge the same character twice. That's kind of amazing.

omg, you are an amazing writer. I stumbled upon this story last night and could not stop reading. I'm an avid fan of the dresden files but I've never ready looked at its fanfiction. This one stood out from the rest. You have Harry's voice down perfectly along with the other characters'. I can not wait for the next chapter!!
Keep up the good work!

Chelz

I'm glad you're enjoying it! Welcome to the party! 8D