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Monsters Best Burned

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1.

“I have two names,” I told Raith as he reclined in my purposefully uncomfortable office chair. “Ms. Gard has reliably informed me that they were DuMorne’s closest associates.”

“That’s the best you can do? That they were close to DuMorne?”

“You gave me nothing to go on,” I said calmly. “You told me to get names associated with a man who’s been dead for nearly two decades. I got you names. If they’re guilty of--”

I cut myself off for a moment, unable to say the words out loud to this man. Raith jerked his head in a nod of understanding, face blank.

“If they’re guilty,” I settled on, “Then they can tell us if there’s anyone we missed. If they’re not…”

“Then we kill innocent people?”

“I would hardly call either of them innocent, considering what their internet history looks like.”

“It’s not enough,” Raith said. 

“It’s what we have. Take it or leave it, Mr. Raith.”

His nostrils flared, but he nodded. 

   

So began a rather strained partnership. 

 

2.

“If we’re really doing this, Harry can’t be involved,” I told Raith. 

“Bullshit he can’t. If anyone deserves to kill these monsters--”

“It’s him, yes. But do try and think, Mr. Raith-- what would happen if he knew we were killing people in cold blood? Or if we suggested he should carry out that action?”

Raith, miraculously, actually thought about it. “He wouldn’t like it. But--”

“And even if he was willing to, do you remember what happened the last time Harry killed a member of the White Council?”

They had wanted to kill him. A boy of sixteen had killed a monster, and they had wanted to kill him for it. 

“They’d kill him,” Raith muttered.

I didn’t think that warranted a response.

“But then, they’ll kill us, too,” Raith said. “If they find out it was us. They’d go to war with you, and they’d go to war with my sister.”

“Then it’s a good thing we don’t intend to get caught.”

Raith’s teeth, when he smiled, were just a little too sharp. 

I smiled back. 

I didn’t get to where I am now by getting caught, after all. 

   

 

3.

“How did you know?” I asked, keeping my eyes on the sheath of papers which Gard had given us on Tristan Cevet.

“Know what?”

Raith was being deliberately obtuse. I didn’t know why, but I doubted I would like the answer. 

“Know about Harry’s past,” I elaborated. That was as specific as I was willing to be. This whole exercise was a violation of Harry’s trust, but somehow discussing specifics of his past was worse than killing the monsters of it. 

“He got hit with a truth spell,” Raith said after a pause. He was hiding something from me, but I had a more pressing concern. 

“You took advantage of him, then.”

Raith looked up from Stefan Anderson’s file. “What?”

“You took advantage of his trust in you when he was vulnerable. You pressed when he was unable to refuse to speak.”

“Yeah, well.” Raith went back to reading. “I don’t see you refusing the information.”

He had a point.

 

4.

“We need to kill him quickly,” Raith interrupted as I laid out my plans to infiltrate Cevet’s house.

“No,” I said. “No, we do not.”

“Death curses? Ever heard of them? According to Harry, wizards throw them if they have more than a few seconds.”

“Ah.” I considered. I had intended to make them suffer-- cutting their hands and dicks off, as a start-- but Raith was correct. I told him as much.

He grinned. “What would you do without me, Marcone?”

“Experience true happiness,” I said dryly.

In the corner, Hendricks-- who had refused to sit in the hallway for any longer-- experienced a sudden coughing fit. 

 

5.

At Cevet’s home, Raith took one look at the photograph on the computer and turned away. I gritted my teeth and forced myself to study the boy on the screen. His face wasn’t visible, but I recognized the pattern of burn scars on his shoulder. 

It was Harry.

I moved to delete the photograph, but Raith grabbed my hand. “Not yet.”

I raised an eyebrow. When I spoke, a hint of Chicago was in my voice. “And why not, Mr. Raith?”

“Think the cops will be invested in finding a guy with child porn? Besides, I’m not great with computers, but if this is posted anywhere else, they might need this to get it taken down.”

I could see the logic in that. But the urge to destroy the computer and everything on it was still singing through me. 

It sounded a lot like Harry’s name. 

Raith took a hard look at my face. “Marcone.”

I turned away, shaking his hand off my wrist. “Let’s go. We have another one to kill.”

 

6.

Anderson lived long enough to beg. 

I didn’t need to look at Raith to know what his answer would be. 

I put two bullets through Anderson’s head.

When I glanced at Raith, he was mirroring my smile.