Lt. Karrin Murphy had called special consultant Harry Dresden to work on a case with less than the current series of hunches and the trail of injured people—one critical—on her plate. Yet, it was also true that Murphy wasn't always received at work with the news of an FBI agent waiting for her on her office. Specially not one who used chopsticks with the dexterity of someone who had done it since childhood, and was eating sushi. On Murphy's desk.
"Excuse me?" Murphy blurted out. Perhaps not the best way to begin a professional relationship, but the thin, long-haired Japanese young woman wasn't on her best behavior either.
"Saya Touma," she introduced herself as she stood up, beaming and reaching out for a handshake after swallowing the last bit of sushi, two grains of rice stuck on her cheek. She had a thick accent. "FBI."
Instead of shaking her hand, Murphy offered a paper napkin and pointed at her own cheek, about the same place where Touma had the lingering rice. The message was received.
While Touma cleaned herself, Murphy noticed her papers had been moved to the side to leave space for the sushi tray. So considerate. Her privacy was still breached, but at least she wouldn't have to redo any paperwork.
"Karrin Murphy, lieutenant of the Chicago Police Department," she said as she sat down on her chair, intertwining her fingers on top of the desk. "How can I help you?"
Touma didn't exactly sit down in the chair she'd been using before. It was more like she jumped to it in one fluid, eager movement. Her chin came to rest on the palm of her hand as she grinned again. "The question is: how can I help you?"
Murphy just stared, stoic even upon the strong smell of garlic around the agent.
Touma maintained the pose for about three seconds before giving up. Pouting, she pulled out a thick pile of papers from the suitcase behind her in one folder. "The case you're investigating," she said as she let it fall on the desk with the loudest of thuds, "involves at least one SPEC holder. All the information is there."
"Do you have the Cliff Notes?"
Now, that answer seemed to please the agent.
The first thing Touma did when she got into Murphy's car was to ask about a good restaurant. Then, she insisted in getting food enough for a week before they began their stake out. Murphy complied—why, only God knew—and got a cup of coffee for herself. And a pack of cookies, just so she had something to do.
As she drove—and Touma ate—Murphy thought about the new information she'd received.
"You took it better than I thought," Touma had remarked, but people with powers weren't news for Murphy.
"I've seen weirder," she'd replied shrugging one shoulder.
With all the things Murphy had seen, the only thing worthy of note was the 'one power per person' clause. It sounded more like a skill, like what the Alphas could do—and they'd learned theirs. Not that it was less dangerous because of that. The sharpness of their fangs had proved it more than once.
She wondered too if the White Council of Wizards knew about these people. From what Dresden had told her, just one power shouldn't be enough to call their attention, which was probably just as good. While she was aware her knowledge of the Council was filtered through Harry, they hadn't proved not to be the bastards he painted them as. Besides, he was her friend, and she trusted him. Therefore, bastards.
Murphy parked the car across the street from the building they were interested in. "And so it begins." She took a sip from her coffee. It wasn't cold yet.
Next to her, Touma kept on chewing.
One hour and a half later, the backseat of Murphy's car was full with empty food containers while Touma entertained herself balancing a couple of plastic forks on a spoon. Murphy, on the other hand, hadn't even finished her coffee, never mind the cookies. She was just staring, mouth hanging open, feeling nauseous after the spectacle she'd just witnessed. Neither mayonnaise or honey would ever be on her table ever again.
"I wonder what takes them so long," Touma said, sounding more like a child waiting for her friends to get to the movies than an officer of the law. She'd discarded the forks and the spoon to play with her hair with her perfectly manicured hands.
"Maybe they know we're here," Murphy replied.
"No way. I was careful."
She could say whatever she wanted, but there was no thing as 'careful enough' in this business. Murphy knew as much.
"How long have you been on the FBI?" Murphy asked.
"A month and a half. I've spent most of that time doing research."
"So, no experience in the field?"
Murphy smirked and unbuckled her seat belt, reaching her radio to call for backup. "Well, that's something I can help with."
Touma smirked right back. Something in that smile said, 'That's why I chose you.'
Murphy found herself liking Touma, mayonnaise, honey, FBI, and all.
Right before sunrise, one last signature and the deal would be concluded. At least until the trial.
The case had been so simple it was an insult. The SPEC holder in question had the ability of breaking bones just by poking them with their finger, and used it to collect protection money. There had been a handful of gang members, but nothing Murphy and Touma couldn't handle.
The FBI agent had handled herself admirably. Not only she'd taken her training seriously, but also followed Murphy's instructions to the letter. Including the part when she began to spew profanity left, right, and center.
"We go in, do this, and take no shit," Murphy had told her when they first entered the building. "Got it?"
"Take no shit," Touma nodded, all serious, probably making an effort not to look too nervous. Yet, as soon as she elbowed her first wardrobe of a thug and yelled, "Take your shit and shove it down your mouth, you pig!" Murphy knew she was going to be all right.
"Thank you very much for everything," Touma said before leaving, as she munched on the pack of cookies Murphy gave to her when they returned to the station, when Touma complained about being hungry again.
Murphy shook her hand. "No problem. We solved the case. And it was refreshing to work with another woman for a change."
"Call me if you need me, lieutenant. I'll stay in this country for a while."
Murphy promised she would and saluted.
Touma saluted back. "Take no shit!" was the last thing she said before leaving the building.
"Did I create a monster?" Murphy mumbled, a little amused, as she turned around to go back to her office. But she soon shrugged it off. It was't important. Those eating habits were scary enough already.