"Dammit, Dresden!" Murphy cursed.
It was a fair enough statement, and I didn't hold it against her. She slammed her foot down on the brake as we were hit at an angle from behind and spun around in the street. The brake squealed in protest, but she managed to prevent us spinning into a lamppost. Which was good, because it was on my side of the car and, while street lamps and I have a tentative relationship at best, I felt no need to attack them. They might take it out on me when I needed them most. And it would hurt.
"Everyone okay?" I asked, after a moment. It took me that long to realize we weren't dead.
"Okay," Ramirez said.
"Fine," Thomas said.
"Uh-huh," Molly squeaked.
"Ruff!" Mouse barked.
"Murph?" I asked.
"Gimme a second," she said. Her hands were white-knuckled on the steering wheel and she was breathing heavily from excess adrenaline. She let out a long breath, drew another one in and floored it.
My head bounced against the seat at the sudden leap into motion. We sped off in the opposite direction. The car full of Bad Things that was chasing us needed a moment to get turned around, which gave us a bit of a head start. I turned in my seat to look out the back window and judge how far off they were. My attentions were drawn to Molly, though, who looked rather white-faced and wide-eyed.
"Congratulations," I told her, cheerfully. "You're taking part in the long-standing wizardly tradition of epic car chases. You can stand proud amongst those who have come before you."
She gave me a shaky nod and a weak smile. "Fun. Do I get a badge?"
"I'll get you a badge," I promised.
The car full of Bad Things was gaining on us, which wasn't fair. We were breaking the speed limit, had a driver who was trained in Crazy Police Maneuvers and...and...we were the good guys. We were also smoking. No, literally smoke trailed from the hood.
"Dammit Dresden!" Murphy cursed again. "Do you have to total every car I get?"
"It's my life's mission," I told her.
"You should have to pay my insurance," she grumbled.
"Send me the bill," I said. "I need kindling for the fireplace."
We turned a sudden corner and my neck smashed against the head rest. This is why you should wear seatbelts, children.
"Any ideas?" I asked.
"Run," Thomas said.
"Hide," Molly said.
"Cower," Ramirez said.
"We'll call that plan B," I said.
"Didn't Plan B already fail?" Ramirez asked.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure we're on Plan D," Thomas agreed.
"Ha," I muttered. "Where are we, anyway?"
We all looked around for street signs as they whizzed by. Thomas was the only one who managed to read any of them. He called them out and I built a mental map of our approximate location in the city.
The Bad Things were charging up for another run at us. Murphy's car wasn't big. The three people in the back seat were practically sitting on top of each other and Mouse was squeezed in front of the seat, with their legs draped over him. The car chasing us was very big and perfectly able to squash us into a tin can.
"You thinking what I'm thinking?" I asked Molly.
"I think so, Brain, but what if the chicken won't wear the nylons?" she answered, in a British accent. She giggled. We stared at her blankly. "Oh, c'mon, nobody?" We continued to stare. "Oh, when this is over, there is so going to be a DVD party at my place."
"When this is over, remind me to give you a lesson in the fine art of the pop culture reference," I said. I looked past her to the Bad Things. They were even closer now. "I need you to veil."
"Veil?" Molly repeated. "Everyone?"
"And the car," I said.
"At the same time? While it's moving?"
"Just for a few seconds, that's all I need."
Molly shook her head, eyes wide again. Thomas twisted in his seat as much as he could with the little amount of room he had. He made a warning noise in his throat and Molly gulped.
"What if it doesn't work?" she asked.
"We're no worse off than we are now," Ramirez said. He gave her an encouraging grin and Mouse thumped his tail against the car door in solidarity.
Molly nodded and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and touched the ceiling of the car, murmuring. Within a couple of seconds, the view out of the windows became murky and tinged with green. I turned back around in my seat.
"You do have a plan, right?" Murphy asked.
"Almost," I said. "Turn left up here."
She made a hard left turn and the car of Bad Things went straight through the intersection.
"We lose'm?" she asked.
"Not for long," I said. "There should be a warehouse up here somewhere. I've used it for warden stuff a couple of times. Abandoned. Good place to make a stand as any. Better than this tin can anyway."
"This was a very expensive tin can before it met you," Murphy growled.
"Everything's expensive before it meets me," I said. "I exude depreciation. Up here."
"Molly," Ramirez said. "Molly? You can stop now."
I looked back and found Molly white and shaking with the effort of keeping us veiled. I scolded myself for not remembering her. I really need to get her that badge.
"Grasshopper, let go," I said. "It's okay." She listened to me and the veil dropped away from us. She slumped in her seat, head falling on to Ramirez's shoulder in exhaustion. "Good job." She gave me a tired smile and a thumbs up. I turned forward again. "Any sign of that warehouse?"
"What does it look like?"
"Murphy, it looks like a warehouse."
She said something that should not be repeated with children present. I replied with something equally unrepeatable.
I flicked my eyes to the rearview mirror again. Thomas was shifting in his seat, looking out his window and not at Molly. My brother is mostly a reformed White Court vampire, but put him next to a pretty young thing who was weakened was a bit like putting a roast turkey in front of a starving child and then telling them they can't have it. Thomas wouldn't do anything to Molly, but I decided it was best that we get out of the enclosed space as soon as possible.
"There," I said, pointing.
"See it," Murphy said.
She pulled some more Crazy Police Maneuvers and we squealed into the parking lot. I jumped out of the car and everyone followed, Mouse falling into step beside me as soon as he could.
"Harry?" Ramirez said. I looked to him and he pointed. I looked to where he was pointing. The Bad Things were on their way after us. "Company."
"How did they find us so fast?" Murphy demanded.
"Tracker," I said. "Pop the trunk."
She did so. I pulled out my staff and backpack.
"Tracker like a GPS?" she asked, coming around to get her guns out.
"Tracker like a tracking spell," I said. "It's on the car. I've thought so since they showed up at The Carpenters'." We'd been on our way to drop Molly off and then take Ramirez to the train station and get Thomas home. Everyone could have used a good night's sleep after my last case, which apparently we weren't going to get. "We lost them once, remember, and they caught back up way too fast." Murphy opened her mouth. "I know, I know, 'dammit, Dresden'."
She grinned. "Actually, I was going to say 'sneaky bastards', but yours works too."
"So, I'm guessing I'm going to miss my train?" Ramirez asked.
I looked down the road to the Bad Things and then tossed his staff to him. "Pretty much. Let's go."
When the Bad Things entered the warehouse, about five minutes later, they found it empty except for a Burger King paper bag sitting in the middle of the large open space. There were three Bad Things – two looked to be made out of stone and one was covered in a thick layer of pink goo. When Pinky walked, the goo shifted around him like those big hamster balls you use to walk on water.
They walked carefully over to the paper bag, looking suspicious and ready to pounce. I had no idea what they were or why they were following me, which gave them a distinct advantage. I had to use whatever cheap tricks I could and whatever materials I had on hand. Which meant a paper Burger King bag full of blasting powder. And some packets of condiments and plastic utensils because there is a five year old in me who wanted to see what would happen if I blew them up.
As soon as they got close enough, I muttered something that may or may not have been 'explosify' and the bag exploded with the force equivalent to a small pipe bomb.
"Now," I said to Molly.
She dropped the veil hiding all of us. I was proud of her for recovering herself enough to do another so soon after the last. We came out fighting, before the Bad Things had time to recover from the explosion.
Murphy and Ramirez went for Stone Thing 1 and Thomas went for Stone Thing 2 and I went for Pinky in the middle. Mouse stayed back with Molly, on my orders. She wasn't much of a battle wizard and probably never would be.
They weren't terribly big. I mean, they fit into the monster truck they were driving (monster truck, get it? I am brilliant). They were probably as tall as a really tall human and as thick as a really thick wrestler. Size doesn't matter when it comes to magic, though. I mean, a wyldfae could kick my ass if I'm not careful and they're only the size of my fist. Mouse could tear apart demons when he was small enough to fit in my pocket. My point is I had no notions of kicking back just because it wasn't a huge thing. So, I came in with my best. That turned out to be a mistake.
I hit Pinky with a spell that sliced a part of his chest clean off. The goo fell into a pile on the floor and then it grew into a roughly human shape thing made of goo. It looked different than Pinky – he had a sort of dark spot in the middle of the goo that was kinda humanoid looking. Pinky Jr. was just goo all the way through.
"Rzzktahzzzzi Schnzzzell Plzzzxkt," Pinky Sr. roared. That's a rough transliteration. There may have been more Z's.
"Yeah, well so's your mom," I replied, ducking a handful of pink goo thrown at me by Junior. I mean literally a handful – he threw his hand and grew a new one. "And your sister."
"Oh, come on!" I heard Ramirez yell behind me, followed by a series of Spanish sounding words that I'm sure were polite and wholesome.
Something he or Murphy had done had knocked Stone Thing 1's head off. I could tell because it rolled into my peripheral vision. Then it grew into another Stone Thing. Ramirez charged into my peripheral vision, but I had to pay attention to Junior, so I didn't see what happened next.
There are certain things that go on in your brain in battle. Sometimes everything goes crystal clear and you see exactly what needs to be done in a detached, calm manner. Sometimes you just get so high on adrenaline and fear that you fight like a wild animal, without logic or reason. You ride on pure instinct and fight to stay alive. I tend to end up in the latter category, and this time was no exception. It never occurred to me that doing the same thing I had just done was a bad idea. I just did it, to avoid being eaten by scary things.
Pinky the Third and Fourth were doppelgangers of Junior. Senior said something else with a lot more Z's in it and backed off, leaving Junior, Three and Four to charge at me. I ran away, to get some distance between them and me. They couldn't move very fast.
I fell back even with where Thomas was fighting Stone Things 2a and 2b. His eyes were shining silver and he swung his cavalry sword with enough force to simply shear off A's arm. It grew another one and the arm grew into another Stone Thing. On my other side, Murphy was shooting precise bullets into Stone Thing 1a's head, chipping off bits of rock. She probably had the best plan of action since none of those chips were growing into anything.
"Fuego!" I bellowed, aiming my blasting rod at the trio of Pinkies charging at me.
One of them erupted into flames, melting into a pile of goo in a few seconds with a deafening roar. Pinky Sr. also let out a cry of pain that shook the ground. Behind me came a frantic barking that I knew meant something bad was happening, but before I could even think about it, a small train hit my back and forced me to the floor.
"Rrrrufff!Ruffruffruff!" Mouse snarled at the Things around us.
I don't know if you've ever had a Tibetan Temple Dog sit on you, but as a whole, I don't recommend the experience. As I gasped for breath while Mouse's front paws pressed down on my shoulders, I sensed a variety of things flying over my head. Piles of goo and large sections of rock hit the ground behind me. Every single Thing in the room seemed to have focused on me at the same time.
"I told you to stay with Molly," I rasped at my dog. Which, in guy talk, means something like 'thanks'.
"He did," Molly's voice said, somewhere to my right. "You okay?"
"Fine," I said. "Mouse? Get off."
He did not get off. He pressed me further into the ground. To my right, beyond where Molly was veiled, Thomas let out a loud roar, ripped a column out of the ground and starting beating things over the head with it. You know how, when you're little, and you're being bullied and you say 'my big brother will kick your ass', or something to that effect? You know, if you have a big brother or, as I often did, pretended to?
My big brother can totally kick your ass.
"I don't think they liked what you did," Molly whispered. "They seem kinda angry at you."
I managed to shift my head around a little to take a look at what was happening elsewhere. Ramirez had five or six floating green orbs that were rotating around him as he fought three of the Stone Things. They caught blows that he wasn't quick enough to avoid, slowing down the momentum. Murphy had a gun in each hand and was carefully retreating, shooting as she went.
The Pinkies bore down on me, while the Stone Things returned to their own fights. Mouse put a paw on my head and forced it back to the floor, barking a fiercesome bark at the monsters coming for me.
"Molly, get back," I said. It was somewhat muffled by the fact that I was sucking face with the floor. "Mouse, I can't breathe."
The Pinkies drew closer. Mouse finally got off of me, but crouched into a pouncing position beside me, snarling. I pushed myself up onto my knees and readied my blasting rod, gathering energy around my shoulder.
"Forzare!" I bellowed, when I had enough power.
The energy shot down the length of my arm and through the rod in a fist-thick wave. The middle Pinky exploded in a shower of goo. The other two Pinkies roared and charged. One of them opened its mouth and spat a mass of goo at me. It would have hit me right in the face if Mouse hadn't gotten in the way. He took it all on his flank and the spot where it hit began to sizzle and smoke. He yelped in pain and I got very angry.
My getting angry is never good for anyone. Things spark and die, fires start and little goo monsters get their asses kicked. I lifted my hand to the two Pinkies and flicked two fingers, releasing the kinetic energy built up in the rings I wore. They both exploded.
"Mouse?" I asked. He was limping around frantically and I reached out to grab his collar. He didn't slow down and I was nearly pulled over. "Mouse, come here."
He whimpered. I got both hands on his collar and planted my knees into the floor, managing to halt his progress. He wiggled his head around and whined.
"Lemme see," I said.
His left flank was covered in pink goo and it was bubbling on his fur. I took the bottom of my coat in hand and tried to wipe it off of him. All the fur came with it, exposing an area of skin that was bleeding and raw. My coat sizzled a bit where the goo was, but the spells woven through kept it from eating in a hole in the fabric. Not that I cared about my coat, because monsters had just hurt my dog and that was unacceptable.
"That was stupid," I told him. He whimpered a little and smacked me in the face with his tail. "Thanks."
"Harry!" Molly's voice warned. "Behind you."
I looked over my shoulder and found that all the Pinky goo was sort of slithering along the floor towards itself. In a few moments, it built itself up into a new, improved Pinky now twice the size and with more roaring action. I managed to throw my shield up to avoid the spew of goo that was aimed at me. It slid down the shield into a sizzling pile on the floor.
"Coming through," Murphy said, as she backed in my direction. Stone Thing 1a was still after her, missing small chunks of his body all over the place. "I need your gun, Harry."
I got to my feet and removed my gun from my pocket, handing it over to her and switching my shield's area of effect slightly to give her a chance to get it ready. She dropped one of the guns she was holding and took mine, then let an empty clip from the other slide out and pulled a new one from her pocket. I moved my shield back to deflect more goo and she started shooting again.
"I don't think that's helping," I said, as she shot bullet after bullet into the thing's head to no real effect.
"What else am I supposed to do, Dresden?" she snapped.
It was a fair point. She had no magic, and even if she was 400 lbs of ninja crammed into 100 and some lbs of body, she wasn't strong enough to pull pieces of the building out and hit things with them.
"There's always plan D," I said.
"That's run and cower, right?" she asked.
"It's a classic," I said. "It never gets old."
"I'm in," she said.
Of course, neither of us did it. We're not programmed that way. We have strict coding that says we must fight to the death in all situations; especially if there is a chance other people will be injured.
"Heads up!" Thomas called.
With Pinky spewing goo and Murphy's Stone Thing advancing, I didn't have enough shield to cover everyone. So I grabbed Murphy and spun her up to me dancer-style, wrapping the front panel of my duster around her. I kept my back to Thomas and my shield to my right, so that the goo wouldn't hit me. I had to tuck my head into my coat and I ended up touching foreheads with Murphy to get the full protection from it. A shower of rocks hit us from both directions, most of the impact taken by my coat. It still hurt though, and both Murphy and I grunted a bit as the rocks hit. One pinged me in the back of the head despite my best efforts at ducking, and I could feel a trickle of blood start to run down my neck.
"Y'okay?" I asked Murphy.
She nodded, bumping her head against mine lightly. "Fine…you can let go now, Harry."
I released her and she turned back to start shooting again. Women.
"How come you never protect me like that?" Thomas asked.
He appeared behind me, still swinging his column, which was half the size it was when he started. He tossed a toothy grin over his shoulder and I could see that his eyes were completely silver.
"You're not as pretty," I grumbled, dropping my shield briefly to try and get Pinky to back off.
"I think he might be prettier than me," Murphy said, between shots. "Actually, now that I think about it, that's really annoying."
"We all know I'm the best looking," Ramirez offered.
He had been forced over to us and I realized we were being herded. Ramirez's green orbs were moving lazily now. He had bruises up and down both arms, was limping slightly on one leg and had a large gash on one forearm. His face, I noted, was perfectly intact. His ability to protect that part of his body is superhuman.
We fell into a line to fight. When you've fought with the same people for awhile, it gets to be sort of like a dance. You know who's going to move where, who's going to do that fancy move in the middle and who maybe isn't the best at the pirouettes and you move to compensate for or enhance other people's performances. We fought hard, with spells, bullets and columns flying, not getting in each other's way and knowing when to step in or stay back.
Molly was not so lucky. She didn't have the years of experience with us and not a lot of her that repertoire that was useful in a battle. She really couldn't do anything to help and, having been in that situation myself, I know how much it sucks to watch people you care about get hurt. She was, I think, tending to Mouse. I can't be sure, because they were behind me. Molly and I had been working on shields, but she wasn't the best at it and certainly not when she had to do it in a split second. Thomas' blows made one of his Stone Things explode and she was in the path of the debris.
She deflected two rocks, which bounced into my back and about six more rained down on her. Mouse howled a distressed cry. He and Molly both appeared suddenly as her veil dropped. She was on her back on the floor and he stepped over her, front paws on one side and back paws on the other, growling in Thomas's direction. I was dealing with more goo and was starting to feel frantic as there were bad things happening on all sides and I couldn't seem to move to stop any of them. Ramirez was in a better position to get to her and he did so, while I stepped in to cover for him.
"Molly?" he asked.
"Ow," she said.
I managed to sneak a peek around at her. A large goose egg was already forming on her forehead and she looked dazed.
"How many fingers?" Ramirez asked.
"Ow," Molly said.
Ramirez made a nervous noise and scooped her up, carrying her over to the corner behind us. It isn't especially smart to move a person with a head injury, but it isn't very smart to let them get trampled by monsters either. Mouse followed them. Ramirez took her coat off and made a pillow for her head. He didn't return to the fight and considering the fact that he left a little trail of blood drops behind him, I was okay with that.
The rest of the fight went by in kind of a blur. I got into a rhythm of 'shield, dodge, parry, strike, shield, dodge, parry, strike' and it became automatic after awhile. We weren't making any progress. No matter how thoroughly we destroyed the Things, they just kept building themselves back up. They seemed to be only able to replicate themselves a set number of times, but that still left nine or ten Things against the three of us, who were rapidly wearing out. Mouse started his alarm bark.
It sounded halfway between a howl and the honk the self-destruct sequences make in movies, with that calm sounding lady counting down. 'Warning, 10 seconds until the apocalypse'. It was superhuman and unnerving. He was calling for help. I knew that couldn't be good.
Murphy had cuts and bruises all over her face and her arm had taken a bit of goo. The skin exposed under her coat sleeve was puckered up. She was down to one gun and was showing an admirable dedication despite the lack of effect it was having. I sort of think that, in Murphy's mind, if you shoot something enough it has to die. I can respect that belief, because how else was she supposed to be able to sleep at night? Thomas was panting heavily and obviously running out of his berserker strength. I mistimed an attack and one of the Stone Things slammed his arm into my head. I saw stars and lost track of my place in the universe for a moment. When I found it again, I was on the ground and the Thing had his foot poised to step on me.
I flailed around wildly, trying to come up with something to save me from death by smoosh. I couldn't get anything going and I couldn't even scootch backwards out of the way. I tried to get my head together enough to come up with a good death curse that might help everyone else out. Pinky Sr. roared somewhere in the background. And then everything stopped.
The Stone Thing about to step on me turned to look over its shoulder. I looked too, through his legs. A big black hole was opening in the warehouse – a portal from the Nevernever.
"Hey, no calling for back-up when you're already winning," I muttered, somewhat drunkenly. We were so screwed.
A couple of dozen feet poured out of the hole, attached to figures I couldn't see. Then a blinding light flared up out of nowhere – even more painful since my head was throbbing. Sounds became distant, but I heard a yell that sounded like Latin. Then the Stone Thing in front of me disappeared in the light and the next conscious thing I was aware of was that Michael Carpenter was looking down at me – towering from my vantage point on the floor and holding the blazing Amoracchius in one hand.
"Harry," he said, in a calm tone, like this was something we did every day. Which, it sort of was. "Are you all right?"
I started to laugh hysterically. That happens sometimes, when you're on the brink of certain death. Michael cocked his head to one side and then decided I was okay. He nodded once and turned and disappeared. I sat up. There were grey-cloaked figures all over the room, doing battle with the Things. About half of the Things were already melting into ectoplasm on the floor, unable to rebuild with so many attacks at once. The rest soon followed and then all attention went to Pinky Sr., who was toast in the face of a dozen wardens and a Knight of the Cross. He died spewing Z's all over the place.
Sound returned to a normal volume and filled my ears with nervous chatter, cries of triumph and confusion and groans of pain. I couldn't quite wrap my head around what was happening. Michael appeared in front of me again, wiping his sword clean of ectoplasm before he sheathed it at his hip. He offered me a hand and I took it.
"Good timing," I said.
Michael smiled. "Was it?"
I was too tired to say anything smart, so I shrugged a shoulder and gave him my best agnostic grin. "M'not complaining." I sobered up a little. "Uh, Molly…"
"I know," he said, with a curt nod.
"I didn't –" I said.
"I know," he said.
I sometimes think that talking to Michael is like a scaled down version of what it would be like to talk to God. What would you say that He didn't already know?
'Nice weather we're having.'
'Yes. I Created It.'
Michael gave me another nod and went to check on his daughter. Ramirez was still with her, looking as bewildered at the scene as I was. He got up when Michael arrived and gave Michael room to kneel beside Molly.
"Papa? I don't feel good," she murmured in a voice so small and far from the petulant teenager I was used to that it was almost unrecognizable.
He smiled and smoothed her blonde hair from her forehead. "I know."
He and Ramirez exchanged a few words in undertones that I couldn't hear. I figured I didn't have to worry about Molly much with the Fist of God watching over her. She already looked better. I turned my attention to locating the rest of my army. Mouse was lying on his side near Molly, obviously exhausted. Murphy was not too far away, looking at the fading ectoplasm with a confused expression on her face. I couldn't see Thomas.
"Dresden!" a voice behind me barked.
I instinctively hunched over to become a smaller target. "Hello, Morgan," I said, and turned around.
He looked his usual scowling self, his warden's sword in hand, slimy from battle. "What's going on here?"
I shrugged. "No idea."
"We've been trying to reach you for days," he said.
"A demon ate my phone," I said. He scowled further. "You think I'm being sarcastic, but I'm not."
"And you?" Morgan asked Ramirez. He'd limped over to us. "You are a regional commander. I expect you to be in your region."
"Harry pays better," Ramirez said.
"That was sarcastic," I added, helpfully.
"This is supposed to be a safe house," Morgan said, gesturing around.
Ramirez snorted. "Well, it kind sucks then, doesn't it?" I really am a terrible influence on him.
Morgan sighed and stormed off to menace old ladies and steal Cindy-Lou Who's Christmas tree. And possibly to check on the other Wardens.
"You shouldn't provoke him," Captain Luccio said, giving me an amused smile. Her eyes are really great when they get sparkling like that. "Warden Ramirez, take care of your arm."
Ramirez nodded. "Yes'm."
He went off to the area where healers were attending a half dozen injured Wardens – most of whom seemed to have come in injured rather than been hurt in the warehouse. Luccio turned her gaze back to me.
"Are you hurt?" she asked.
I looked myself over. "Just a bump to the head. I have a thick skull."
"I am aware," she said. Her sharp eyes looked around the room. "You took on all those demons with four people?"
"Five," I said, without thinking. I remembered afterwards that if she hadn't noticed Thomas, I shouldn't be pointing him out. I wasn't sure where he had gone or how he'd gotten there without anyone noticing or attacking him but I wasn't complaining. It wouldn't be good for either of us if it got out that we were associates, let alone brothers. "Uh, Mouse helped. And there was a car, at one point, too. Sorry about the whole unsafe safe house thing. Nobody told me you had reservations."
"They were somewhat last minute. We were in retreat, with the Knight. He suggested we enter here."
"He hears voices," I said. "Something big going down, then?"
"Yes. We could have used your help. However, for now we appear to be safe. I will fill you in when things are less chaotic."
She gave me a bow of her head and wandered off to see to the baby Wardens. A lot of the grey cloaks were newbies and it showed. They stood huddled together, wide-eyed and waiting for instruction. I sighed and let my heart rate came back to normal. A sickening kind of exhaustion washed over me, one that forced me to find a wall and sit by it quickly. I gave the floor a pat to thank it for being there in my hour of need. Murphy joined me a minute later, taking a seat next to me. Her arm had been bandaged up and she didn't look much worse for the wear. Then, if Murphy got a limb severed in battle, she'd probably just put a Band-Aid on it and go back to work.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey," I said.
She nudged my shoulder with hers lightly. "You suck."
"I know," I said. "I understand if you'd like to withdrawal membership from the Society of Harry Dresden's Friends."
"Nah, I got my dues paid up to the end of the year," she said. "You're stuck with me. You still suck."
"Understood. You okay?"
She nodded, tiredly. "Fine. You?"
"Thomas said he'd find us later."
Mouse arrived, limping over to us. He snorted in a fashion that informed me that I had better not be in mortal peril again any time soon and then put his head in Murphy's lap, his tail in mine, and fell asleep. I gave him a pat and pretended like I wasn't concerned for him. Getting choked up about your supernatural, kickass dog isn't manly.
"Any idea what that was about?" Murphy asked.
"The attack, the rescue or my dog?" I said.
I shrugged. "Nope. Probably the usual 'death to Harry Dresden' shtick. I'll hit the books."
"Let me know."
She yawned. I yawned too. Mouse started to snore loudly. My head throbbed.
"I can research tomorrow," I decided.
"When do they let us out?"
I looked around at the mass of people running here and there. "Sometime this year."
She nodded, then said, "Dammit, Dresden."
She nudged my shoulder and yawned again. "No problem, Harry."