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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 (14/?)

Table of Contents

Title: putting out your fires with gasoline, Book Two of The Matter of Chicago
Rating/Warnings: Original Flavor Mode is on.
Word Count: This chapter: 5,187. This book: 78,011. Overall: 228,534. Whoo.

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

Notes: Getting into a racewank discussion with Jim Butcher really tires you out, no lie. :yawns:


Ouranos got taken out by the weekend, all Outfit communications going dead. The employees kept working, many never even leaving the premises. Anyone who was sent in to retake the club or just to do recon dropped off the grid. It was a disaster. The White Court evidently wasn't going to let John off the hook because their last attempt on the Michigan Avenue club had failed.

John got quiet and furious, and stayed that way. It radiated from him, how angry he was at these trespasses. It simmered under the surface as he made his latte, as he nudged Mouse off the sofa, as he made phonecalls in the study. When he slept, his face naturally fell into a deep frown.

Hendricks looked haggard and worn down when he muttered covertly at me from the corner of his mouth, "Dresden, do something."

"I'm working on it," I snapped back, and went back downstairs to the lab.

And I had been working on it. When the Reds started sneaking into John's establishments, I got some rudimentary wards up that didn't keep them out, but at least let us know when they'd gotten inside. I mapped out similar wards, trying to apply them to our new White Court problem. They didn't work.

I had warded Ouranos three times and now we'd lost it. When I went back to Bob, I was nearly as pissed as John was. "They got another club!"

Bob's eyelights came on as he yawned. "Come again?"

"Ouranos is down. The wards did nothing." I went to my lab table and picked up Mouse, who had somehow gotten up there and set him back on the ground, ignoring his pitiful whines. I had no idea how Mouse continued to find his way on top of things that were three or four times his height. Maybe it was the whole Foo Dog thing.

Mouse snuffled and laid down over my feet as I sat down. He licked my ankle, like an apology, and seemed to go to sleep shortly after.

Bob sighed. "Well, boss, this isn't as simple as you think. White Court vampires aren't like the Reds."

Scattered across the table were sketches detailing the wards I'd set up. I balled them up into a crunchy sphere of mashed-up paper, turned on a bunsen burner, and set it on the wire. The paper smoldered and burned slowly. "I know that."

"You know part of that," Bob said. "So under their skin, Reds are all batlike monsters, right?" I nodded. "Whites aren't like that. They're... fairly human. They just have a few extra tricks, kind of like wizards."

I wrinkled my nose. "Ugh. Can we not compare what I do to what they do?"

"I'm trying to explain. Just like you were born with an innate talent for the Art, Whites are born with a demon inside them. Except, not technically a demon. I don't think they're associated with Downbelow." Bob paused, considering. "I'd have to look into that... Anyway, Whites have a symbiotic magical creature attached to their auras. That's where their abilities and their need to feed comes from."

I grabbed a Moleskine and a pen, starting to take notes. "So they're Homo superiors, like wizards."

"That's one way of putting it, if you're a massive nerd," Bob jibed. "Far as I know, Whites don't vamp out until they're older, then their Hunger--"

"Hunger?"

"The not-demon symbiote thing. Colloquially known as the Hunger, probably because they have to keep shoving food at it to shut it up."

"So... separate entity?"

"Think so. Obviously Whites aren't big on talking about this stuff." Bob nodded to the ash that had once been ward plans. "See, there's nothing for your wards to monitor for with the White Court. Nothing we can set up with what we have in the lab, anyway."

I stopped writing. "Wait. Could we go out and get something to make this work?"

Bob fell silent.

"Bob." I let the pen clatter out of my hands. "John's lost three clubs, and I get the feeling that's just the start. We need some kind of defense here. Letting the Whites take John's businesses is going to just give them a bigger foothold in the city and this is going to be like the thing with Bianca except a million times worse."

Bob sighed again, deep and heartfelt. "Give me a few nights out. I'll see what I can get out of my contacts."

"Okay. I give you permission to hitch a ride in Mister tonight for the purposes of researching this. Be back home before sun-up." I looked down at my feet. "Unless you want a ride on Mouse?"

Bob's jaw opened in a loud laugh. "Harry, you think I'm suicidal? I'm not touching the dog."

I frowned, but before I could ask for an explanation on that, Bob left his skull and floated up the stairs in search of Mister.

I leaned back in my chair to stare at the puppy sleeping on my toes. Mouse whuffed softly on each exhale, peaceful and tooth-achingly sweet. Lucky accident, Mouse was. It was nice to have some more life in John's giant house. Most of the time it was just us, a few guards, and Mister when my cat deigned to gift us with his presence. Mouse being underfoot and inexplicably climbing on things and getting in John's way as he cooked was nice. Domestic in a way I never realized I wanted, though I should have. Given how much time I spent at the Carpenters' house, I clearly enjoyed something about that homey feeling.

Speaking of which. John would likely be out all night again. He'd been doing that for a while now. I didn't feel like ordering in or trying to fight with John's stainless steel, ultra-modern kitchen. So I picked up Mouse, got in the Beetle, and shuttled over to Wrigleyville.



Charity made roast beef so tender I could cut it with my fork. Then she used the juice from the meat to make some doughy things called Yorkshire puddings that I'd never seen before but fast became one of my favorite things in the world. I'd sat there after eating my two puddings, staring at the half-eaten one on Alicia's plate and seriously contemplating stealing it.

I was cut off by Molly's hand tapping my knee under the table. I turned to her, eyebrows lifted. She looked.... distant, her eyes a little unfocused. "What's up, Mols?"

She glanced over at the head of the table, where Michael and Charity were trying to get Baby Harry to stop making a mess of the beef gravy. "Can we talk? After dinner?"

I nodded slowly. "Of course. Something wrong?"

She opened her mouth, then shut it, shaking her head. "Later."

"Okay," I whispered and squeezed her hand on my knee.

There was dessert, and I got put on baby-minding duty as the heads of the household tidied up. It was a long time before I got to meet Molly out on the porch.

There was a swing out there, a bench hanging suspended from the roof of the patio. Molly was curled up there, drinking a soda. I joined her. "Hey."

"Hi." She didn't look at me, playing with the tab of her soda.

I sat down, rocking the swing a little. "You wanted to talk."

"Maybe," she replied. She didn't sound sure, didn't look sure. There was a tension between us I wasn't used to. I kept rocking us, one foot braced on the porch, waiting for her. Perhaps I wasn't a parent, but I'd spent enough time with Molly to know when pushing would help and when it would clam her up further.

We must have sat out there in each other's silent company for ten minutes before Michael leaned out the door and said, "Harry, you have a phone call."

I went on alert the second the words left his mouth. "Who?" Please, not John, I thought. When John called lately, it was with bad news.

"It's William. Sounds urgent."

I frowned and looked over at Molly. "Mols."

She lifted her head and gave me a weak smile. "S'okay. I'll see you," she whispered. When I didn't go, she shook her head. "Go help your werewolf friends. They need you."

"We'll talk later," I told her earnestly.

"I know. Be careful."

"You too, Molly."

She dropped her gaze to her hands. I waited another moment before getting up and following Michael inside.



"Take the Red line down to Bronzeville," Billy the Werewolf had told me. "We'll pick you up at the station."

Bronzeville was a fairly nice neighborhood. Just like the rest of Chicago, it had its more shady areas, especially south of Pershing, but the north side was going through an urban revival. Nicer buildings, more focus on community, better businesses rolling in. Bronzeville was in a state of flux, but it was shifting towards safer. There were plenty of worse areas in the city, where walking down the street at night was a risk. This wasn't one of them, though it had been in the past. The 'slum' area was being knocked down in favor of some new high-rise residential buildings.

It was also predominantly African-American, sometimes called the Black Metropolis. Back in the Twenties, a lot of black people had moved north, wanting to get out of the oppressive South. There was a big influx of black people in the city. And, almost inevitably, there were big racial tensions about the new neighbors in Chicago.

But today, things were about as settled as they ever were. That said, I had flashbacks to stepping off the Red line to Boystown, that feeling of otherness that I was used to associating with being a wizard, not being straight or white or what have you.

Though I guess 'straight' wasn't that accurate anymore.

And also like Boystown, that feeling passed. It was late and there were fewer people on the street and no one gave me a second glance.

I spotted William and Georgia's massive SUV and jogged over to it, climbing into the back. "What's the story?"

Billy pulled us away from the curb. "Got reports from some of our friends about something in Groveland Park. Comes out at night, been tearing stuff up for the last few days."

Andi leaned forward. "Take MLK Drive--"

"I don't need a backseat driver, Andi," Billy growled.

"Actually, the last time you drove--"

"There is a side street over there, we just couldn't find it."

"After circling four times."

Georgia groaned. "Anyway!" They quieted. "We have zero information on what we're looking for and it's been a while since we called in a ringer, so."

I'd given the Alphas permission to call me up anytime they weren't sure what they were getting into. They handled a lot of supernatural incursions into their territory, over at Hyde Park and the university, but this was far away from their usual hunting ground. Even with their experience, I knew the most about the occult presence in Chicago and had seen and heard about more than they had. Bringing me in made sense.

Groveland Park was nestled between two condo developments. It was a small park, but was thick with trees, a tiny forest standing out around buildings and train tracks. It was close enough to one of the lines, I could hear the trains going by.

We parked the Alphamobile close to the tracks, where fewer cars were likely to go by. I got out and stood watch as Billy, Georgia, Andi, and Alex all shifted into their lupine forms, their clothes left neatly folded on their seats in the SUV. Suddenly I was accompanied by four wolves instead of four grad students.

"Okay, kids. Stay close, try not to start trouble until I figure out what we're up against," I told them. Billy brushed against my legs, urging me on. I picked up my staff, shut the sliding door, and stepped away from the SUV and into the park.

I had my senses extended as far as they would go, trying to locate whatever we could be looking for. The park was dark, the nearby lights conveniently out, big surprise. That was a sign of magic, or just lazy park maintenance. Either way, it didn't make things easier.

The Alphas formed a loose circle around me, everyone searching the area as best they could for a trace of something significant. They sniffed the air, followed scents through the grass, darting in and out of the trees. Sometimes they vanished for a few moments, scouting around before reappearing at my side, walking in and out of the shadows.

It didn't take long before I felt it. It was a... pall, something that was hard to pinpoint. It set my teeth on edge, my heart starting to beat harder. Next to me, Georgia whined softly.

"Steady on, kids," I murmured, gripping my staff tighter. There was something here, I could feel it, even if I couldn't see it.

We walked the perimeter of the park twice, then went right through the center of it, practically daring whatever was out there to strike. Still nothing. As we waited and searched, we all wound tighter and tighter, especially the Alphas. When we spread out to look, Alex accidentally bumped into Billy and Billy snarled, snapping at Alex viciously.

I swore and ran over to the two, swinging my staff, trying to knock them apart. "Hey, hey! Stop it! Let it go Billy, it was just Alex!"

Alex whined, loud and long, backing away until he was tucked into some undergrowth, his tail between his legs. Billy, on the other hand, growled at me, the sound triggering some fear response in my brain, making me go completely still.

It was the first time since I stumbled upon them patrolling around Hyde Park that it really registered with me how dangerous my friends were. They were goofy tabletop-playing college kids, but with one complicated bit of transformative magic, they tapped into something that was fierce, that made them so much more powerful and lethal.

That growl brought all that back.

Georgia came running to Billy's aid, and suddenly I was faced with two very keyed-up, nervous wolves.

Fear skittered up my spine and my hands shook as I held them out. "Guys. Calm down. I was just trying to help." I stepped away, and nearly tripped over Andi, who had joined the party. Great.

Andi showed her teeth and bit threateningly at my pant leg. I leapt back. "Okay, I'm not kidding anymore, guys. Back the hell off!" I gripped my staff, staring at my friends, waiting for any of them to make a move.

The wind shifted and the weird prickly feeling over the park seemed to deepen. Andi jerked, looking around, eyes wild, and made completely frantic, distressed noises. Billy and Georgia pressed together, practically one great mound of fur. Alex just curled up tighter in his little thicket of bushes.

There was something there, screwing with us. It was like one of those psychological horrors, where the enemy was really mob mentality and fear. The Alphas-- maybe because they were so connected to their baser, animal instincts, maybe not-- were taking it badly.

Andi, pacing and whining, tried to join Alex in the bushes. Alex lashed out, clawing at her snout. Just like that, they fell into a fight, tumbling together, biting and scratching.

"No, no, stop!" I leveled my staff at them. "Forzare!"

I hit Alex, who rolled over the grass. He landed on his paws though and suddenly I was being run down by a wolf.

"Shit! Alex, snap out of it!" I threw up my shield, and Alex slammed into it so hard, he collapsed to the ground, dazed. Beyond him the other three were stalking slowly closer.

Hell's fucking bells, I was going to be torn apart by my own friends. I put my all into my shield, backing slowly away, careful not to make any sudden movements. "Billy, Georgia, Andi, don't do this, please. Just calm down!"

My back hit one of the many trees, and I was crowded in, the three wolves spreading out to cover my exits. I held my shield with one hand, the other scrambling up. Maybe I could find a hand-hold in the tree and climb up to safety. That was if I could move fast enough to get out of range before the Alphas tore me to pieces.

I didn't want to hurt them. I readied a spell anyway. When it came down to life or death, I wasn't going to go quietly. I had too much left to do, too many people depending on me.

"I'm sorry," I said softly, laying aside my staff and pulling out my blasting rod instead. "I'm really sorry, guys."

I drew in my will.

And the Alphas stopped. Their heads lifted out of their predatory stalk, ears pricked high. Even Alex roused a little, and they all looked off to the trees, attention caught by something I couldn't see or hear.

Billy yipped and took off. After a second, the others sprinted after him.

My knees went out from under me and I slumped down, my back to the tree. I was stunned, not comprehending, but relieved. It didn't matter why, the scared, dangerous Alphas were gone and I was alive. I let out a laugh of pure delight and rubbed my face, wiping away the shocky fear of being faced with death at the hands of people you cared about.

I got slowly to my feet and left as quickly as I could, not looking back.



I was back home, putting Mouse down on his dog bed in the kitchen, when the phone rang. I was just about to head up to bed, but given how few people had that number, I had a good guess who was calling. Not answering would be a bad idea.

I picked up the phone and tucked it into my neck, opening the fridge for a coke. One of the few upsides of the trouble lately is that John hadn't been swapping my soda for healthier alternatives. He hadn't had the time. "Dresden."

"Are you all right?" Billy was breathing hard over the line. "Oh fuck, tell me you're all right."

"I'm fine." I took a long sip. "What about you guys? Settled down, I hope."

"I am so sorry, Harry, you have no idea." There was noise over the line, like others talking near Billy. "We're all sorry, I swear."

"It's fine, Billy, seriously."

"It's not fine, Harry. We could have... if it wasn't for that whistle..."

That was interesting. I hadn't questioned why the Alphas had run off when they did because I was just so glad to be alive, but it had been awfully sudden. "Yeah, what happened there?"

"Dog whistle, one of those really high frequency things. You probably couldn't hear it, but it got our attention. Hard to ignore." He sighed. "If it hadn't been for that..."

"Yeah, good timing there." I wanted to know who had done that and if it had been on purpose. "Did you find who it was?"

"No. There was no one around. It just distracted us."

"At the perfect time to save my life," I murmured, musing. "Someone just saved me from being assassinated."

Billy sucked in a breath. "Come again?"

"Congratulations, buddy," I told him with mock-cheer. "You just got mind-whammied by a member of the White Court. You read Susan's article on John's nightclubs?"

"The one about the succubi? Was that for real?"

"Yep. Except we call them White Court vampires. They eat psychic energy, specifically strong emotions. Not just lust, like the ones Susan wrote about. I think we were set up by a fear-eater."

"Hold on a sec," Billy said. His voice muffled, like his hand was over the receiver, but I could hear him talking in the background along with some other voices. "Okay, yeah, everyone says they got scared and didn't know why."

"That's the White Court mind-whammy." I blew out a long breath and leaned my head against the cool stainless steel of the fridge. "Goddamm."

"What?"

"I have to go upstairs and tell John the White Court just tried to kill me."

"... Goddamn," Billy agreed. "Good luck with that. And... call us if we can do anything to help, seriously."

"Don't lose sleep over this, Billy. This wasn't your fault."

"Yeah, okay," he said, not sounding convinced.

I hung up, knowing I couldn't do anything to assuage the Alphas' guilt. They'd get over it; they were strong kids. I really didn't hold it against them once I pieced together the fact the whole thing was a set-up. It was a good plot, having someone pass the Alphas a tip drawing them into a situation that would make them call me for help. If it had succeeded, it would have looked like an inexplicable tragedy, but one that was pretty much an accident. No one would be left the wiser.

It was sneaky and underhanded, using my friends as catspaws to remove me from the equation. And, not to brag, but trying to get rid of me was a big deal. My position in Chicago after the battle with the Reds made me its de facto protector against the supernatural. Take me out and the White Court's path to controlling the city was wide open.

John was going to have a conniption. I could feel it.

It was with a slow, reluctant tread that I climbed up the stairs to my room, stripped to my boxers, put my gear away, and headed further into the house to John's room. Even though we were sleeping together, I maintained my room away from his. It wasn't much effort to walk from his room to mine to change in the morning. He never said anything about my bedroom, so I guessed he was all right with it. I slept in my room when I was angry at him or when he was away on business. It kind of worked for us. Intimacy, but with a special reserve of personal space to fall back on like a safety net.

John was sleeping when I got to him, padding as softly as I could over the carpet. Suddenly I wanted to let this sit until morning and let him sleep. John always claimed he could operate efficiently on a small amount of sleep, but since the White Court's push on the clubs, I could see the wear on him. He hid it well, with all the practiced ease of someone used to painting over his own weaknesses. I knew better and from some of the looks Hendricks gave me, he did too.

All that said, John would have been even more pissed if I let this sit.

I crawled under the covers next to him, tucking myself around him and nosing against the soft grey hair at his temple. He muttered something and turned into me, rubbing my side. "Hello," he greeted drowsily.

"Hey." I let him take stock of me by touch, knowing he needed to go through this ritual of his sometimes. Once his hands stilled, I pushed him onto his back and wiggled until I was laying on him. "You awake?"

"No," he said dryly.

"Ha ha." I took a breath, steeling myself. "I'm going to tell you something, but first you need to know I'm fine and you shouldn't freak out."

I blame how tired I was for dropping that on him. His eyes opened finally, blinking once before he flipped from sleepy snuggly John to John Fucking Marcone, who was ready to make heads roll. "What happened?"

So much for breaking it to him nicely. "There's a small chance the White Court just tried to kill me."

That took three seconds to sink in, then John lurched into motion, trying to sit up. Which was why I'd situated myself on top of him before doing this. I pushed him back down. "Okay, stop, I just told you not to freak out."

John glared up at me. "I could put you on your back with very little effort, Harry."

"Yeah, but don't. At least let me explain first."

John didn't untense or relax, but he didn't try to get up again. "Go on."

I gave him a run-down of my evening, of the Alphas giving into a fear that wasn't theirs and attacking me, how I suspected a White with a taste for terror had set it up. He listened attentively, eyes locked to mine and hand running over my skin soothingly as I talked. When I was done, his hand curled around my neck, grip tight in a possessive way.

"I should throw you into the panic room and leave you there," John announced calmly.

"I built the panic room," I reminded him. "You think I didn't include some failsafe in case you did just that?"

John pursed his lips. "Fine. Who do you think blew the dog whistle?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. No one really comes to mind. If the timing wasn't so perfect, I'd say it was a coincidence, but..."

"It was just too well-timed," John agreed.

"But hey, someone wants to help. That's good."

"Unless they want to enthrall you instead of letting you die."

I huffed out a laugh. "You are such a cynic."

John hummed and dug his fingers into my hair. I sighed and lay my head down on the pillow, shifting over him as if I could somehow get closer. His nails dragging across my scalp until I felt like I could start purring. "Mh. I have, uh.... Bob out, doing some research. Trying to figure out how to ward for Whites."

"Good. We need it. Protections of important establishments..." He paused to yawn. "Here, the safehouses, the Carpenters' home."

I shook my head. "No, I'm going to stay away for a while. If the Court's gunning for me, I'd be putting them in danger by going over there."

John pressed a scratchy kiss to my temple. "I'm sorry. I know how much you care for them."

"Hey, it's not forever." I lifted my head to look at him. "We're going to get through this, just like we got through the Reds."

I got another warm kiss. "Optimist," he whispered before settling me against him and shutting his eyes. I followed his lead, stealing a few hours of respite from the trouble brewing in our city.



When I got up, John was already in his office on a conference call with his lieutenants, voice ringing loud and commanding through the closed door. It wasn't too often he put on his bossy, ordering people around voice. I liked hearing it, so long as it wasn't aimed at me. Most of the time, John spoke softly, sounding deceptively harmless and charming. When it was time to throw orders around, you could hear the steely determination underneath. It was... really distracting. Yeah.

Anyway.

I listened in for a moment before heading downstairs. "Bob, you better have some news for me!" I called as I walked into my lab area.

"Boss, it isn't even eleven. Why are you awake?" Bob asked, a whine in his tone. "I only got back a few hours ago. Spirits of air and intellect need their beauty rest, you know."

I leaned on the table, staring hard at Bob's skull. "Last night one of the White Court tried to kill me, Bob." I related last night's events to him, like I had to John before.

Bob's eyes flashed brightly in surprise as he dragged in a breath through his teeth. "Well, that does inspire a certain need for haste if they're already working to take Johnny out."

I shook my head. "Just me. John was home at the time."

"That's-- Harry, no, they were gunning for your man by attacking you."

That didn't make any sense, which probably meant Bob was going to have to explain something to me. I pulled up a stool and sat, like the diligent student I was. "Okay."

"White Court vampires have weird societal rules. One of them is the whole idea that the more underhanded and indirect you are, the better your scheme is. So you think the point was to use the Alphas to kill you?"

"Yeah?"

"No. Not roundabout enough for the White Court. More likely, they're gunning for Johnny by gunning for you by siccing your friends on you."

I snorted. "So, what, they'd rather make things needlessly complicated instead of just coming after John?"

"To them, it's a badge of honor. But don't be stupid: if you walked into the proverbial lions' den, they wouldn't hesitate to take you out of the equation," Bob warned. "Just keep in mind that won't win them any points with their Court."

I nodded and started writing this up so I could pass it on to John. "Okay, got it. So, besides that, did you find out anything to help?"

Bob got quiet, lights dimming a little. "Erm. Yes. I suppose I did."

"Okay, out with it."

"Ah. Well." Bob hesitated some more. "You see... Speaking of walking into the lions' den."

Stars, I was not going to like this. "Just... out with it, Bob."

"You are not going to enjoy this. Your overprotective beau even less so." He let out a large, resigned sigh. "We can ward for Whites, but only if we have a substantial sample from one of them to set up a thaumaturgic link. Whites are close enough to mortals that you can even soulgaze them, so a ward against them would be set up just like any brute-force ward. But setting up a standard ward like that would lock out everybody, mortal and White Court alike."

"Which would be pointless and keep innocents out of John's clubs, meaning they'd likely go back to the places owned by the Raiths," I pointed out.

"Unless you had something to build the ward around, to focus it on the Whites. Say, some of their blood or hair, or perhaps even folding some of their power into linen, though that would require their Hunger to be at play to hold them off."

I didn't like the sound of this. "And how am I going to get the material we need?"

Bob didn't say anything. He didn't really need to. I could put together what he was saying. If we were going to set up protections and keep the White Court at bay, we needed a way to hold them off. That meant specialized wards tailored to work against the Whites. That meant I needed a thaumaturgic link, enough of one to be used in wards all across the city. That meant I needed to go out and get something to use for that link.

I knew where I could go to get what I needed but... as Bob said.

I was going to be walking right into the lions' den.


Chapter Fifteen

Okay, two notes. First, I have to pimp the One True Chicago Challenge. Sign up, get three prompts related to Chicago and its rich history, and write/draw/wotev something based off that prompt. It's a challenge to write a love letter to the White City. Check it out, sign up if you're interested.

Second, in must less awesome news, I got into a fight on Twitter with Jim Butcher. Those of you who are sensitive to the race/gender/class/other socioeconomic issues of The Dresden Files may find it enlightening.

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Comments

I'm not to say what people can and cannot post in their own journals and communities

And yet here you are, doing just that.

What was your point?

I think you're being hypocritical and felt like saying something. That's the magic of the internet! \o/

Oh bb, is that the best you can do? At least get your insults in the right ballpark. As I am neither a neckbeard nor a basement dweller but am a long time fandom snarker, you would have been much better aimed had you told me to go back to Fandom_wank. But as you appear to be new to LJ, you may have missed its heyday. That's okay. You'll catch up eventually.

1. That link is not wank and I actually think it's very mild and not at all inflammatory. I linked it because I know many people in the fandom are interested in the various socioeconomics issues in the series and figuring out how much of the problematic content can be blamed on Harry and how much is the Author. I thought it would be enlightening to them.

2. This is where I end up sounding like an asshole but this is my comm. It was created not to keep my LJ away from the fic, but to keep MoC off my LJ so I stopped spamming my many friends who don't care about the Dresden Files.

If you have a problem with me occasionally editorializing and having some bleed through, then you may want to go track my AO3 profile instead. When Book Two is done, I'll edit it, fix some mistakes, and then post the fic in its entirety over there. That way you won't have to deal with any "wank" I guess.

...? Why wouldn't I want to hear you say take care? :confused:

I really really disagree with the idea that white people can't do any other characters and shouldn't try, mostly because i think it's untrue and becomes a copout to excuse failure to incorporate normal diversity into entertainment- but stuff like that probably goes on the plus side for why it happens.
Since creating a clearly fictionalized neighborhood in a fictional Chicago didn't protect him from random self-righteous rage at his "mistake", I can see how not mentioning minorities at all might appeal to creators who can't claim any recognized ethnicity.
I'm not saying you were wrong, but the original post is definitely an exemplary incentive for an author of no recognized ethnicity not to try anything groundbreaking against marginalization in fiction.

the original post is definitely an exemplary incentive for an author of no recognized ethnicity not to try anything groundbreaking against marginalization in fiction.

If it is, then that's a rap against the author, not the original post. Rather than saying "oh gee, I guess I'll never ever ever write anything about or involving any race except my own lily-white one", maybe they could say, "gee, I guess I'd better do some research if I'm going to set my fiction in a real-world place." Which, honestly, they should be doing anyway.

Honestly, having read the original post, it's clear lack of research is not the issue. The guy objected to Butcher making deliberate, obvious changes - including renaming it! -to a neighborhood for story purposes- and then calling him racist on the strength of what he percieved as false impressions of the actual place.
There's just no arguing with someone who doesn't want to understand what "fiction" entails.

"Rather than saying "oh gee, I guess I'll never ever ever write anything about or involving any race except my own lily-white one", maybe they could say, "gee, I guess I'd better .."
That was the my point exactly- yet, this sort of thing coming out of left field is counter- productive and profoundly discouraging.
If that's really what the guy wants.

I.... wait, what? Um, what? When did I say white people couldn't write PoCs? I am so confused. That was not what I was saying even remotely.

Also, Hyde Park is not a fictional neighborhood. It's a recognized region of Chicago.

I'm just going to sit over here and be baffled at this comment. My apologies.

You didn't- it's something I hear almost as often as I hear people complaining about marginalization in the media. It's very confusing to me, and can be problematic for writers/creators. Myself, I figure if somebody really writes good characters, they can be almost any color, and I'd prefer to see that more often in practice, but not everybody shares that view.

oh! and I said "fictionalized", not fictional- Butcherr made a lot of of obvious changes to the area he was writing about, making it a much scarier place than the real one, for plot purposes, afaik

Okay. I've heard that before too. but that's.... really not what this was about.

I know what you said. And in his changes, Butcher inadvertently made the area perhaps more supernaturally scary, but whitewashed it in the process. Given how much our media today whitewashes real issues, this is not something to just let slide.

Gah! I really really don't want to get into an argument when I don't think we really disagree too much- but now I'm curious what you're thinking of.

"inadvertently made the area perhaps more supernaturally scary, but whitewashed it in the process"

iirc, he added in blatant gang presence and signs of a high normal crime rate, as well as abandoned/shady/failing businesses in decrepit buildings- (imo, because he needed a setting for a supernatural street duel and didn't want innocent bystander witnessess or the cops showing up too soon) He also mentioned the Alphas policing the area. Is that +general creepiness what you mean by "more supernaturally scary"? But.. what do you mean by whitewashing? Really truly curious what I misssed, not being argumentative here...

I'm fairly sure we don't disagree. I think anyone can write the experiences of anyone so long as they handle it respectfully and do their reading.

Whitewashing is making light of a serious issue, essentially covering it up. I'd suggest going back to the original tumblr post that started all this and reread their thoughts on the quoted text. It obviously does not read as remotely true to them.

lol- I know what whitewashing means-that's why I wonder what you're referring to in this case.
and I agree with you about what the OP thought of the description, but I think since his objections are that the place wasn't described with journalistic accuracy, he's objecting because he failed to realize that it had been deliberately fictionalized, I've seen the same reaction from Philadelphians complaining about inaccurately identified set locations in Rocky- they just didn't consider the mechanics of the scenes involved.

Oh I am loving this series more and more. And Oh bonus wank! :D That man. as much as I love his books really needs to be told.

Oh Harry, I know you don't like to work via committee, but if you don't tell John and just go he is going to be SOOOOOOOOO pissed - like possibly break the bank levels.

*hugs* Anyhow, I thought you struck a good tone in your comments to JB. Hopefully he'll go away, cool off, and ponder the voice of reason. When this stuff comes up it's human nature to be defensive first and think later (if at all) about other viewpoints. I can only hope that he's more enlightened than many of my acquaintances, who would prefer to just blinder themselves.

You have no idea how pissed John's gonna be. Seriously.

I just realized I haven't left a comment in ages...somehow "holy shit, I love this so much" just doesn't do justice to how much I love this series and yet it's all I can come up with. But seriously, holy shit, I love this so much. ♥

Utterly random, not related to post or comment comment:

Shiva!icon

*loves that quote*

:DDDD

That quote is one of my favourite comics moments ever. ♥

(and yes, Tim/Shiva is my cracky OTP of utter fucked up wrongness *beams*)

I keep wishing for an Elseworlds or something where Tim goes with Shiva. His life might actually have been slightly less traumatic. There's been a few fics along similar lines, but there is not nearly enough Shiva/Tim in the world.

MTE on everything you said. I like you, you clearly have excellent taste. :D

I haven't commented for a long time, and I'm sorry. I've read the transcript of the twitter fight with JB, and it made me rage so hard. This chapter made me feel a whole lot better. And I hope this doesn't annoy you, but I like how you describe Chicago here much more than the description of Hyde Park that I've seen quoted.

So there. I like this. I kinda feel this comment is a bit inadequate, but I'm still ragey over the comments on Tumblr. I just want you to know that you are awesome, not just as a writer but also as a person. Also you are so brave.

Thank you very much. I'm currently regretting the whole affair, but the support is appreciated. I think I'll just focus on MoC for a while.

Oh god, that scene with the Alphas was chilling @____@ Everything could have gone so, so wrong... AND MOLLY. -worriedworriedworried-

I love this story and the attention you pay to plot detail <3 You have an amazing talent for keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.

Also? Mouse is fricken adorable.

Hmmm... The plot thickens! I think I know who saved Harry, but I will keep my speculation for myself. Every new posting is the highlight of my day. Keep up the good work bb!

I've been enjoying this whole fic so much, and this is my favourite chapter so far. The cool assassination plan, (I know who blew that whistle!), John freaking out, Harry knowing that John would freak out and knowing exactly how to break the news- all so good!

*high five for you!*

"I have to go upstairs and tell John the White Court just tried to kill me."

That ended remarkably better than I thought. And I loved the description of the scene with the Alphas. Also, Mols trying to talk to Harry about what I think she's trying to?

For what it's worth, I appreciate strongly you doing the regional description correctly. Twitter-inspired or otherwise.

No, the bit about the Bronzeville area was written days ago, actually. Crazy timing, huh?

So much awesome! And using the alphas as a cats paw to take out Harry and therefore John, too cool. Cant wait for the next chapter!

i'm just gonna say, because as i've made known before that i'm a shallow person who doesn't particularly care about internet issues and prefers to draw gay porn, that nomnomnom this chapter.

I have nothing constructive to say, but I love this chapter SO very much!

And Harry collecting that sample from the WC? I'm sure that's going to go smoothly!

*prepares to dig into a bunker or something when everything goes to hell in the next chapter*

As I've read MOC, I've noticed you use phrases like "You're such a girl" in your narration occasionally. I know you have a hyperawareness of Harry's sexism and that you don't like it. Do you include things like that to make the narration and characterization more like JB's or is it something else? I mean, it was Bob that said "You're such a girl" but Harry's made comments like that too, about himself and others. Just curious.

Anyway! I really enjoyed 13 and 14. I mean, I knew the White Court arc was coming because you've said as much, but I'm always pleasantly shocked when I find how much you actually change while still keeping the most important bits the same. Harry's relationship with the White Court in the books is pretty weird because of how his relationships with Thomas and Lara developed initially and I'm really looking forward to how it's going to change. The pseudo-friendly thing he has with Lara in the books will probably be drastically different since he probably won't be saving the littlest Raith (Inari?) from vampdom, but then there's Thomas... and I just can't figure out how he's going to play in. I mean, will he be the one to give Harry a sample? Will Justine ever sacrifice herself? Will Harry ever help Lara take over? Will Lara take over by herself? There's just so much I'm curious about. I'm insanely excited for more to come!

Good eye. That's a very purposeful decision. As much as I personally hate that kind of gendered insult, it is in character for Harry. While MoC!Harry is, I hope, better on many issues than his canon counterpart, to strip him of all of his un-PC language would take something away from him.

I refuse to spoil the culmination of this arc but it's fair to say the standing of the White Court will be completely different from it is in canon. I will be shocked if anyone guesses how it's going to go down. Gonna be epiiiiiiic, if I indulge in some self-congratulations. 8D

Well, I'm glad I caught it then. I think it was reading over your... spaat with JB that finally made me see those instances, though, so perhaps it's not so great.

I'm actually really glad you didn't answer any of those questions. They were actually rhetorical and I don't actually want to know the answers yet, so thank you! And I'm really looking forward to it. I mean, out of the whole fic so far, the end of MoC1 is my favorite just for how everything wrapped up, so if this is even half as incredible as that was, I'm sure I won't be complaining.

Also, reading in MoC2, chapter 8, Harry and John are talking about Chicago's ley lines and how there's something in the lake feeding the lines. IS THIS GOING WHERE I THINK IT'S GOING?! Because if it is, I'm sure my caps-lock excitment cannot fully express for how much I wnat it to happne. I squeed out loud in the middle of the school library today when I was rereading that part... Oh please, please, please say I'm correct!

Hey, everyone starts somewhere, no shame in that.

To be totally honest, I'm not sure if/how Demonreach is going to factor into MoC3. MoC3's plot is still in it's early stages. I should sit down and get that outlined soon, actually...

So, you may be correct or may not. I honestly am unsure.

My vote is yes! Although I will bow to your superior fic writing expertise and love it either way ;)

What a treat to read after doing battle with invading earwigs all week at my place. And several chapters, too! Joy abounds! First off, FRANKLIN!!!!!! Harry, suit up and go save that man. He gives you rides and is generally made of adorable. I wonder if he even made the connection in his head between the name and his guy.

Also, I continue to love your descriptions of Chicago, and you continue to impress me with your descriptive abilities, despite having never been there yourself. I have never been to Bronzeville, but it puts me in mind of Hyde Park, which is awesome. I do admit to getting annoyed with Butcher's attempts on Hyde Park, as they don't even remotely resemble the place I remember. Yes, it's a little run down here and there, but Hyde Park proper is all brownstones and university owned properties, mostly. You go west of Washington Park or south of 62nd and things get more run down, but still not that bad. It's a very interesting, diverse neighborhood. And his descriptions of U Chicago somehow resembling some sort of state school? Um, no. Just no. It's way more like Oxford got lost and ended up wandering into the middle of Chicago: ivy and all. The students are roughly 10 graduate students for every 1 undergrad, and the unofficial motto is "The University of Chicago: where fun comes to die". There are a total of about four bars in the entire neighborhood, one of which is in the basement of a university building, and is owned and operated by the university.

Ahem. Pardon me. I just wish Butcher would use what he's got. I just recently came back from a visit to Chi-Town again, and it's easily the most interesting American city I've ever been to. All that, and he feels the need to make up places. *Shakes head*.

Anyway, loved this newest chapter as well. Excellent setup for the Alphas, and for reminding your reader of precisely how dangerous Harry's D&D loving buddies can be. And oh, the dog whistle. Hark! Is that the sound of Thomas on the horizon? I can't wait to see how everything with him goes down, given Harry's different circumstances. In the books, Harry was so desperate for family that Thomas was like a lifeline, but here, with the combination of John and his strengthened familial-type bonds with the Carpenters, it will be interesting to see how that dynamic is shifted.

I can't wait to see how you play out a White Court plot. I wait with bated ... eyes, I guess. Breath doesn't work as well over the internet.

Yep, Franklin was taken. I was waiting for someone to notice. :laughs:

From what my research says, Bronzeville is more predominately black (over 80%), but otherwise that's an apt comparison. Just as some parks of Hyde Park are "safe" (namely, north of Pershing Street), the same goes for Bronzeville. It seems that Bronzeville doesn't have quite the same crime issues or gang presence. It's in the process of an urban renewal, but it's slow-going.

I just wish Butcher would use what he's got.

WORD. WORDY MCWORDERSON AND ALL HIS WORDY OFFSPRING.


I did promise Thomas would be back. 8D Circumstances are going to be very different, definitely.

Hey, where do you go for this kind of research? I mostly spend hours on Google Earth making guesses based on architecture, and the vehicles parked at the time the satellite image was taken, but that's unbelievably inefficient. o.o

I go anywhere and everywhere. I like looking at the Chicago wiki pages for ideas-- the park used in this chapter is mentioned on the Bronzeville page. I google mapped it, then found the nearest L station because I like knowing what Lines Harry's taking around the city. Then I googled "Black Metropolis", read a few pages from that, and leafed through about a hundred picks on Google Image Search.

Then I plugged in "bronzeville" into the Chicagoist archive search and read a few articles on the area. The impression I got was problematic, but improving with many unfortunate set backs (one being a recent fire that took out a lot of good businesses).

From that, I try to narrow down the impression I get of a community into a few paragraphs and try to add a handful of specific details that stand out in my mind. Like, when I wrote about Wrigleyville in Book One, I remember looking up exactly how many sports bars were in the area and finding the stupidly high number really funny, so I put that in.

To me, I like giving the reader 1. a general impression of the area and 2. a couple of specifics.


.... s-sorry for rambling. I really like city research.


ETA: And then you have things like the Drake Hotel where I spend probably hours digging around for floor schematics and pouring over pictures and agonizing about why no website can tell me how many floors this place has, ffs. But that always is worth it because you find stuff like the Gold Coast Room and can go "yes, this is where the scene should be" 8D

Edited at 2011-07-10 05:41 am (UTC)

Now that's how research should be done! And I'm kind of comforted that there isn't a secret place for city research I'm missing out on. ^_^ And I like your balance of research vs details included in the novel. :)

Oh no! I hope the weariness from battling Butcher doesn't delay the next chapter. ::selfish:: Loving the buildup to the main plot, and the sheer eeriness of the vanishing clubs, and how dangerous the White Court seem - much more dangerous than in the series, where for all their hype they're about as sneaky as a bunch of toddlers. ... Actually, I take that back, my niece is much sneakier! I like this glimpse of their tactics, and how terrifying this kind of stealth battle can be. ::shiver:: And Harry's relationship with John seems so much stronger! He told him stuff! ::has low standards:: I so hope this trend continues. Oh, boys.

I honestly don't know enough about the series to comment on the wank-fest that went down on Twitter, but I applaud you for being so even-minded despite the obstinacy and pig-headedness that was JB's entire conversation with you.

And again, I deeply enjoyed this chapter. I understand that you're on a break now and I hope that you regain your poise during the break!