more rescued things
So, okay, Jen's first on my mind as she has been for a while, mainly because I'm trying to figure her out. It's tough, because there are things she may or may not know that could severely affect my perception of her, such as Morgan's actual age, and his treatment of Harry. I'm not sure if he ever told her how old he really is (since, y'know, finding out you're over a century younger than the man you're exclusively dating might be a bit of a weird moment). I'm pretty sure she wouldn't care after some thinking about it, particularly if Arthur was already on the scene. But that, of course, depends on how much Morgan's actually told her about himself. Thanks to Puck for sparking this line of thinking.
Then, of course, there's Jen's issues.
A lot of them stem from her relationship with her father, which was apparently a lot closer than her relationship with her mother before he vanished.* Roger Tarleton may or may not have made a deal with the faeries; either way, he was seduced and taken by them when Jen was twelve. They had a very close and supportive relationship, partially because Roger and Alicia had a fairly strained marriage towards the end, and of course he was the only one who's ever called her "Jenny." So his disappearance, which to Jen and her mother looked like simple abandonment, severely undercut her world.
Then her mother went and made it worse by remarrying when Jen was fourteen. Jen reacted very badly to that and responded by making her mother's life a misery for the next four years. She was nicer to her stepfather, mostly because he was nicer to her and understood a lot of why she was acting the way she was, but she absolutely despised her half-brother (born when she was fifteen) and won't talk about him. I think this is why Jen tends to gravitate more towards men; it's the men in her life who have taken care of and supported her. The women (ie, her mother) have more just made her life miserable.
Anyway, so she got kicked out of the house on her eighteenth birthday. She's never been to college. She got lucky in that she's a talented dancer, and that her father and stepfather encouraged and financed that particular hobby. Actually, come to think of it, Jen probably has stripped or done exotic dancing at some point, probably immediately after she got kicked out, because in a lot of places, it's the only way for a dancer to make any decent amount of money.
What I don't understand is why, given this history, she has such an enormous amount of self-confidence, because she does. It's not a front, and this painfully blunt thing she has going on is not an act. It's possible that Jen learned she couldn't depend on anyone but herself, and then learned that she is actually a damn good person to be depending on. It's also possible that she just decided one day that she wasn't going to let anyone take her down, as a sort of giant fuck-you to the world.
Essentially, Jen is a survivor. She's very good at rolling with the punches and punching right back. What she's not is a magic-user or a fighter, despite the way she talks, and she definitely has an abundance of overconfidence that will and has gotten her into trouble. She's loyal to the people who don't leave her (aka, Morgan, Arthur, a couple of friends in the industry) but she doesn't have many friends because she is afraid of people leaving; it's been a hallmark of her life so far. That painful bluntness, along with just being a basic part of her personality, may also be a way to weed out the people who can't stick around. She's also impulse-driven. I've found no basis for this in her history. I think she was just born like that.
Also, just as a bit of amusement, for about the first year of dating, Jen used to hum the Ghostbusters theme every time she saw Morgan. She still does it occasionally.
*Just as a side note, I've figured out that I'm fascinated by fathers and daughters. I mean, really. Simon and Sarie, Jen and her father, Murphy and her father, Harry and his daughters (that we made up, but shut up, you). My original fiction is rife with it as well. Cassandra has a very odd relationship with her father, as does Aikyla; Kit and Mariya's different relationships with their father may very well have determined their eventual fates. Abby's story is essentially about her fighting her father's overbearing influence, though her sisters and her mother play a role as well. Even Amy's story has this hidden fatherly influence; it's not ever made clear in the story, but part of the reason she places such emphasis on having a stable, secure everyday life (and thus the reason she reacts so badly to the revalation that magic exists) is because her father murdered her mother, in part for her. So, guilt.
...but yes. This is a very long digression. Back to your regularly scheduled ranting.
Of course, Murph. How could one forget my darling, beloved Murph?
She's got a lot more established than Jen does, mostly because she's not out of my head, and I have to play her as Jim has written her. Which is not difficult, because she's so well-established in the canon. Which I am rereading for various reasons. But I digress.
Murph started out as your standard tough-girl and got rapidly more complex (like, twenty pages into Storm Front). Just her appearance and height change that image, and of course Jim makes it clear that there's a hell of a lot more to her than is on the surface. Like her issues.
Back to my fathers and daughters fixation. Murphy's father committed suicide when she was eleven. It's unclear as to how close a relationship she had with him, but I'm thinking there was an element of hero worship there, based on some things her mother said and based on the simple fact that she's in the same career. Now, losing anyone to suicide is a huge shock. Losing a parent you adored at eleven? Could utterly destroy you. Murph didn't, because she had her mother, with whom she has a much better relationship than Jen has with hers, and because she has a much stronger personality than most people do. I'm guessing her mother got help for everybody in the family as soon as possible. However, it still leaves a deep and indeliable mark, and that manifests itself in Murph's men issues.
And Murph has men issues. This is undeniable. Her first, much older husband left her, fought with her constantly whenever they tried to talk, never told her he was sick, and let her find out he died of cancer from the newspaper, of all things. Her second husband divorced her because she didn't want a family (presumably she interpreted this as pressure to settle down and not do her job anymore) and promptly became involved with and possibly married her younger sister. Quite frankly, I think our Murph's given up on relationships with men, because with her, they don't work. She doesn't trust men to work in a relationship anymore.
My proof for this comes from Harry and Kincaid. Kincaid is a shining example of sex without strings attached. There would be no relationship, and Murph knew that going in, and didn't care. At that point in her life, all she needed to get laid. Harry, our second example, is precisely the opposite. He doesn't do sex without relationships. He's not wired that way, and Murph knows it. Harry Dresden is probably the one man she trusts unconditionally who she's also attracted to. Murph will not give in to that attraction because she likes and needs the relationship they have now, and doesn't want to fuck it up. Now, we shippers know that wouldn't happen, but Murph doesn't, for quite understandable reasons.
I've been concentrating on her relationship issues mostly because I think I have the rest of her down pretty well. Murph is focused on justice, for whatever reason. She wants justice for the underdog, the downtrodden. It's a core part of her personality. It's why she's a cop. She will do the right thing, and save innocent lives wherever possible, because that's who she is.
What I'd love to know is whether she has any girlfriends, what the structure of her life is outside of Harry. We'll never hear about it, of course, because Harry is the narrator of the books, and he'll never hear about it unless he crashes a girls' night out or something. It's my personal belief that she has a few close friends (and that Etienne would be one of them), and a network of people who she is close to. Murphy is as stable as she is only through support, which she would get from her family and from her friends. She does have a life outside Harry, and it's my job to make it up. Which I will. After dinner.
An interesting side note: Murphy started aikido the same year that her father died. Connection?
When Julia heard the plan, she nearly fell off the front steps laughing.
Maggie scowled at her younger sister, and batted irritably at the wisps of dark hair hanging around her face. “It isn’t that funny, Julia.”
“Like hell it isn’t,” Julia gasped. “Oh, God. Promise you’ll get someone to take pictures?”
The spring afternoon was shading into twilight, and the girls sat out on their front steps with grilled cheese sandwiches courtesy of Maggie, waiting for their parents to come home. A light breeze came off the lake and ruffled their hair, particularly annoying Maggie, as her ponytail had suffered somewhat from the day’s activities.
“I take it that’s a go-ahead.” Maggie wiped her hair out of her face again, then yanked out her scrunchie and began winding her hair into a makeshift bun. “I mean, you don’t mind if I ask your boyfriend to the prom,” she added, around the scrunchie clutched in her teeth.
“Arthur’s not my boyfriend,” Julia said. She paused a moment, considering, then added, “Yet. Anyway, if he wants to go I’m not going to stop him. It sounds like hella fun.”
“Well, if they’d let me go with Lauren I wouldn’t have bothered.” Maggie removed the scrunchie from her teeth and wrapped it around her hair. “I hope we can find a dress, though. It’s kinda late to be shopping, and not many places carry that size.”
“Not to mention a tux.” Julia stretched out her long legs, grinned at her sister, and said, “It’s not as if you can borrow one from Dad.”
Maggie, a mere 5’1” at best to her sister’s 5’7”-and-growing, considered her options, then calmly pushed Julia off the steps into a flowerbed.
Unruffled, Julia got up, brushed the dirt off her knees and sat back down. “I hope Arthur will let me do his hair.”
“Arthur,” Maggie said, “will allow you to do anything up to and probably including shattering his kneecaps. Assuming you could reach them.”
Julia elbowed her sister. “Breaking joints is your department.”
“Hey! I was nine, I didn’t mean to break his wrist and he was harassing you. The alternative option was Arthur going to town on his ribs with a monkey wrench and getting arrested for assault.” Maggie tucked her knees together primly. “I didn’t see you complaining.”
One very interesting facet of Julia Dresden’s personality was her tendency to change the subject whenever she was losing an argument. “Oh, look! Daddy’s home!” she exclaimed, jumping up and skipping down the walk.
Maggie grinned to herself and got up as well. Sure enough, her father’s mighty Blue Beetle was chugging its way down the street through the gathering twilight, an ominous rattling sound emitting from the engine. Whatever their father had been up to for the past few days, it clearly had been interesting. Claw marks raked across the Beetle’s front and one side, and every so often a passing street light would spotlight a bullet hole or two. A brief pang of worry twisted Maggie’s stomach.
The Beetle sputtered to a stop just outside their front walk, and Harry Dresden finagled his way out of the car. Her stomach relaxed; he looked tired, but uninjured, and he wasn’t moving unduly quickly, which meant whatever interesting events had eventuated, they were good and over now. He stood straight up, stretched with an audible popping sound, then folded slightly with an equally audible ‘oof’ as Julia collided with him.
“Daddy!” she singsonged. “I missed you!”
“I missed you too, Jujubee,” he replied, returning her rather enthusiastic hug, “but I think I have time to reload.”
Julia made a face, and Maggie rather agreed. That was bad even for their father. “Oh, Daddy.”
“It’s been a long couple of days. The wiseassery isn’t quite up to par yet. Hey, Maggie, how’ve you been?”
“Good,” she said, strolling over and giving him a one-armed hug. “Looks like you had an interesting time of it.”
He shook his head. “What can I say. Fairies just don’t know when to quit. What are you girls doing outside?”
“Waiting for you,” Julia said, and drifted away after a butterfly. At fourteen, she was still easily distracted by pretty shiny things.
“Air conditioning’s broken,” Maggie added. “Again. At least there’s a breeze out here.”
“Your mother will not be happy.” He glanced around the street. “Where is she, anyway? It’s after six.”
“Working,” Maggie said. “Finishing up a case, I think. Troll muggings and such. Paperwork.”
Her father winced. “We’re all doomed. Good thing I bought pocky.”
“Pocky?” Julia asked, perking up.
He opened the trunk and began searching through miscellaneous junk. “Not for you,” he said, his voice coming out half-muffled by the metal. “For your mother. You know what she’s like after a day of paperwork. Ah, here it is.” He surfaced with a plastic grocery bag and shut the trunk. “Are we going in?”
“After you,” Maggie said. “I kinda forgot my key inside.”
“Door’s not locked,” Julia called. “I made sure before I went out.”
“Smart girl,” Harry said. “I knew one of you got raised right. Ow!”
Maggie attempted to look innocent.
She brought up the question of The Plan half an hour later, after her father had been fed but before her mother got home.
“So, Dad,” she said, casually. “I’m going to the prom.”
“Oh? With Lauren?”
Maggie shook her head. “No. They won’t let me.”
Her father raised his head off the back of the couch and looked at her incredulously. “They won’t let you go with Lauren? That’s bullshit!”
“I know.” She laced her fingers together. “Lauren didn’t want to risk getting suspended for a stupid dance. I, on the other hand...”
“Am I going to get another phone call from your teacher?”
Maggie grinned. “Not yet. I have a Cunning Plan. Arthur’s taking me now.”
Her father glanced down the hall towards the bedroom the sisters shared; Julia was in there now, doing something unspecified but at least quiet. “And he’s agreed to this?”
“Not yet. He will, though. Julia thinks it’ll be a hoot.”
Harry narrowed his eyes at his eldest daughter. “Margaret Anne Dresden, what are you planning?”
Maggie’s grin grew and took on a hint of smugness. “Let’s just say I need to go shopping. Tux shopping.”
Her father looked at her for a moment, then burst into laughter. “Maggie, Maggie, you are so evil. I better take you; I know a guy who does good tuxes. He’ll hate me, though. Even more.”
“Why, ‘cause he has to make a teeny-weeny tux? At least it uses less fabric than yours would. Since you’re giant and all.”
Harry tipped his head back along the back of the couch again and sighed. “Don’t we have some kind of rule in this family about teasing other people about their heights?”
“No,” Maggie said.
“Well, we should. It might prevent some bloodshed.” He rolled his neck again, and it popped audibly. “Have you told your mother yet?”
“No. I just now thought it up. I was going to tell her when she got home.” Maggie examined her nails. “Though I’m not sure the best time is right after she’s had a day of paperwork.”
He shrugged. “You never know. It might cheer her up.”
“Or get me grounded. I dunno. I mean, I will tell Mom. I just plan on picking my moment.”
“Tell me what?” Karrin Murphy walked in the door and slammed it, leaning back against with an expression of utter weariness on her face. “Ye gods, I’m tired.” Harry rose and wordlessly opened his arms. She walked into them, leaned her head on his chest and sighed. “I hate paperwork.”
Maggie made sympathetic noises and looked steadily at the fireplace. Just because she was nearly an adult didn’t mean she liked watching her parents kiss.
“I’m glad you’re home,” she heard her mother say, quietly, and then, in a louder tone, “What was it you needed to tell me, Maggie?”
“It isn’t terribly important,” Maggie began, before intercepting a Look. She sighed, and finished, “...I’m going to prom. With Arthur.”
Her mother shook her head. “As long as it doesn’t involve fighting, I don’t care.”
“Uh,” said Maggie. “Actually, it might.”
Murphy stiffened, and speared her elder daughter with a glare. “Margaret Anne Dresden...”
“Julia’s okay with it,” Maggie said hastily. “It’s the school that might have a problem with it. I’m...um...not precisely the one in the dress.”
Murphy opened her mouth, closed it, blinked, and said, “Oh. Oh! I see. Take pictures.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Maggie said, and grinned.
“I feel sullied and unusual,” Arthur Morgan murmured, checking his corsage.
“Oh, quitchor bitchin’,” Maggie said, cheerfully, looking in the rearview mirror to straighten her cummerbund. “You didn’t have to agree to this.”
He looked down at her, eyes wide and incredulous. “You have dealt with your sister when she wants something, yes? Even without the mad crushage.”
She huffed air through her nose. “You are more than capable of saying no to Julia if you have to. Get out of the damn car.”
“You’re lucky I like her so much.” Arthur stepped delicately out of the car, picked up his skirts, and scowled down at his feet. “Okay, I was about to wonder where Mom got heels to fit me, but on second thought, I don’t think I want to know. I don’t think I want to know where she got the dress, either.”
“Costume shop, probably.” Maggie offered him her arm with a theatrical flourish. “Let’s go see what they make of us, shall we?”
“I shudder to think.” Arthur accepted her arm with a prissiness worthy of his grandmother and paraded through the parking lot and into the hotel, nose in the air, practically dragging Maggie behind him. Not for the first time, she cursed the thirteen-inch difference in their heights, wondered how the hell Arthur could walk so fast in heels, wondered even more at her sister’s calm acceptance of said ability, and did her best to keep up with his longer stride.
The receiving line loomed ahead; Maggie dragged hard on Arthur’s arm and finally got him to slow long enough for her to catch her breath. “God!” she hissed. “Now I know how Mom feels when Dad runs off without her!”
“Not my fault you’re short,” Arthur said, with supreme lack of tact. “I’d carry you, but I don’t think the dress allows for it.”
“Son of a bitch.”
“Welcome to the Bucktown High prom!” Mrs. Boyd chirped, fluttering up to them. Mrs. Boyd was tiny, barely taller than Maggie herself, shortsighted, endlessly cheerful, and always looked as if she was about to topple forwards. She was an English teacher, and both Dresden girls adored her. Maggie grinned.
“Hi, Mrs. Boyd,” she said. “Good to see you.”
Mrs. Boyd blinked, squinted, and teetered a little closer to Maggie. “My goodness, Margaret!” she exclaimed. “Don’t you look nice! Is this your girlfriend?”
Arthur choked; Maggie’s grin grew wider. “No, Mrs. Boyd. This is Arthur Morgan. Julia’s letting me borrow him for the evening.”
There was a pregnant moment of silence while Mrs. Boyd peered up at Arthur, her head cocked to the side. Finally, she said, “You aren’t one of those transsexuals, are you?”
Arthur hacked out that peculiar cough that meant he was covering a laugh. “No, ma’am,” he said, finally getting over it. “I’m biologically male, I promise. It’s just very hard to say no to Julia when she asks me things.”
Maggie debated telling Mrs. Boyd that Arthur actually quite liked crossdressing, and decided against it. There were only so many shocks she wanted to give her English teacher in one evening. “He’s such a good sport,” she said, patting Arthur’s arm. “He might even get kissed for it, though certainly not by me. I’ll see you around!”
“I like her,” Arthur said, as they moved down the receiving line and towards the principal. “I want to have a long talk with her sometime.”
“Mrs. Boyd does have that effect on people,” Maggie agreed. “We’re coming up on Wet-dick. Be prepared.”
Arthur hacked a covered-up laugh again. “That sobriquet will never cease to amuse me. Tell his actual name before I make an embarrassing slip of the tongue?”
“Widick,” Maggie said, directing a poorly-concealed glare at her principal. Wet-dick, as he was not-terribly-fondly known, was new to Buckton High and possibly to life. The rule dictating opposite-sex couples only was his brainchild. He’d claimed it cut down on drinking. “Don’t bother being nice.”
“Never intended to be,” Arthur said, and then they had no more time for talking, for Widick was upon them.
“Well, hello there, miss!” he said, heartily, to Arthur. “Don’t you look nice! Now which young man is your date?”
“I am,” Maggie said. “And I think if you’ll examine Arthur a little more carefully you’ll notice he is, in fact, a mister. Though I’ll grant you, he is very pretty.”
The silence that followed this revelation was not only impregnated, but birthed twins and raised them to a useful and productive adulthood.
Arthur finally broke the silence just as it waved goodbye to its children going off to college. “It’s nice to meet you too, sir,” he said. “Shall we, Mags?”
“Just a moment,” Widick said, actually putting his hand out to bar their way. “Miss Dresden, have you been drinking?” His tone hovered barely this side of an interrogation.
She stared up at him, her face innocent. Ting, ting, look at the halo sparkle. “No, sir.”
He frowned down at her, and actually sniffed her breath. Maggie came damned close to punching him in the crotch. “I think you’re lying, Miss Dresden.”
“A moment, sir,” Arthur said, frowning. “Just what is so suspicious that you don’t believe Maggie when she says she’s not been drinking?”
Widick looked flatly at him. “Are you joking?” he demanded. “Look at the pair of you?”
“I respectfully submit that it is very difficult to find a dress to fit a six-foot-three man and a tux to fit a five-foot-one girl on a drunken whim,” Arthur said. “Particularly when both our fathers top six feet by several inches and neither of our mothers comes close to my height.”
Widick had clearly never seen Arthur’s mother, who really wasn’t that much shorter than her son. Not that it mattered, because he didn’t seem inclined to believe either one of them. “I’m going to call your parents to pick you up,” he snapped. “Really, this is disgraceful behavior from both of you.”
Arthur and Maggie exchanged a glance that nominated Maggie as spokesperson. “Oh, please don’t call my mother,” she said, flatly.
“I think I’ll call her first,” the principal said, sternly. “And that will teach you to come drunk to prom!” He stalked off towards a phone on the wall.
“Five to one your mother skunks him,” Arthur said. "And you're a horrible actor."
Maggie snorted. “Bite me. And bum odds.”
“In less than five words?”
“I’m still not taking that bet.”
“You think you’ll still have a principal when your mom gets done?” Arthur asked, watching as Widick dialed.
She laughed, a little. “Oh, I think so. Mom knows how to draw the most blood without actually killing someone. Now, imagine, if he’d gotten your mom.”
Arthur shuddered, delicately. “The mind reels. She’d have treated him as something a little lower than an actor, I think.”
“Yes, Mrs. Dresden?” Widick’s voice carried across the intervening space, and Maggie winced. Her mother was sure to interpret that as disrespect. “I would like you to come pick up your daughter from prom. She’s behaving disgracefully, and I suspect that she’s drunk. I—“ He stopped talking abruptly, and the look of smug self-righteousness vanished, replaced by incredulity. “What?”
“Point one for Mom,” Maggie whispered.
“Mrs. Dresden...” Widick said, and than said nothing more for nearly three full minutes.
Arthur licked his finger and drew two lines in the air, in full view of Widick.
Widick scowled, but he still couldn’t get more than an occasional “But...” or “Ma’am...” Karrin Murphy must be letting out all of her more recent frustrations on the hapless principal. Maggie restrained a smug smile; unlike Arthur, who did not attend Bucktown High, she could get punished for insubordination. Though it likely would be worth it, if only to see her parents raising merry hell.
“Ma’am!” Widick said at last, fairly shouting. “I apologize for the presumption!” He hung up, hard enough to crack the phone’s plastic casing, and marched back over to Maggie and Arthur, his red face telling them everything they needed to know.
“So...” Maggie began. “Can we go in?”
He nodded, tightly, his lips closed. Arthur grinned, took Maggie’s arm again and sailed on into the room. Halfway there, Maggie turned around and said, sweetly, “You know, this never would have happened if you’d let me go with Lauren.”
Widick sputtered, Mrs. Boyd stifled a smile, and the pair drifted into the room reserved for the prom.
After that, the actual dance was an anticlimax.
The character of Arthur Morgan belongs to Dark Puck. Margaret and Julia Dresden both were created by me. The characters of Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy belong to Jim Butcher, as does the world this started in.
Note to self: when self becomes bestselling author, do not be like Anne Rice. Or Michael Crichton. On the off chance that one cannot resist the urge to be like Michael Crichton, disguise revenge characters better.
Seriously, how did Crichton think he could get away with that? The stupidity, it boggles.
"Finale" from RENT just segued into Great Big Sea's cover of the End of the World.
My life is now complete.
For the unitiated, it sounded something like this:
"Hold on, there's something you should hear.
It isn't much, but it took all year...
IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT!"
Second-best iTunes Shuffle segue ever:
From Rent, What You Own:
"I'm not aloooooone..."
to Spamalot, Twice in Every Show.
"But you're not alone, Arthur!"
Does cast an interesting light on Mark and Roger's relationship, though. And we all know which one's the diva.
White Wars fanfiction.
stole borrowed a line from GG Crono. Stephen Fincke belongs to me and GG Crono, since I don't quite remember who came up with him in the first place (I remember I named him, but I don't know who did the actual personality, so...). Chelsea and Alex belong to me. Everyone else lives in Jim Butcher's mind, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to play in his sandbox for a bit.
“The betting pool was supposed to be a secret.” Chelsea MacDonald heaved a huge sigh.
“It’s not?” Alex Grey, her partner, looked up from his unidentifiable slop to cock his head quizzically at her. “I mean, apart from everyone knowing about it.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “Don’t be a smartass, Alex. It was supposed to be secret from her.”
Alex’s eyes widened. “Oh, no.”
Chelsea and Alex hadn’t quite gotten to the level of unspoken communication their leaders shared (it was said that Harry Dresden and Karrin Murphy could have a rousing fight, make up and come to an agreement in under three seconds, and all without a word being spoken), but they could still say quite a bit with speaking looks and well-chosen words. Enough so that the third person at the table was having quite a bit of trouble understanding what he eavesdropped on.
Stephen Fincke gave up trying to translate and instead shoved his tray closer. “Clarify, please,” he said.
Alex grinned at him. “You’re supposed to be the most subtle tactician in the Arx, and yet you can’t come up with a better way into the conversation than that?”
“Time is limited,” Stephen said, with dignity, “and if the she you’re referring to is who I think it is, I want to know this about now.”
Alex nodded, and deferred to Chelsea with a wave of his hand. “This was your idea, Chels. You explain.”
She sighed. “Okay, so you know I started a betting pool back when Dresden ended up partnered with Karrin.”
“Yes,” Stephen said. “And I never figured out how you kept that away from them.”
Chelsea winced. “I didn’t do as good a job as I thought I did,” she mumbled, and shoved her lunch around with a fork. “She’s not mad, though. I guess I should be grateful for that.”
There was a brief pause, then Alex leaned forward. “MacDonald. Spill. Now.”
She glared at him, expanded the glare to include Stephen’s brief coughing fit, and said, “I was talking to Marcie about her bets, and Karrin walks in. She asks me if I’m still the Arx bookie, and what was I supposed to say to that?”
“Pure foolishness, of course,” Stephen interjected, “when everyone knows it’s Alex with the head for money.”
She flipped him off and continued. “So I said yeah, because I didn’t want Alex in trouble. I was fairly sure she was going to chew me out—Marcie must have been, too, because she was gone, let me tell you, looked like she had a Flamer on her ass—but no, she just smiles at me, and says, ‘Okay, good, I want to place a bet.’”
Stephen closed his eyes in a sympathetic shudder. “Oh, that does not sound good.”
“You have no idea.” Chelsea gave up on her lunch and shoved it away. “I say okay, and get out the book, and ask her which pool she wants to throw in with. Of course, she says...”
“...the when-are-they-going-to-do-it pool,” Alex finished. “And?”
Chelsea winced again at the memory. “She put five hundred on last night.”
There was another brief pause.
A moment later, Alex looked at Stephen with newfound respect. “Wow, man, that’s an impressive command of profanity you have there.”
“You’d swear too,” Stephen replied tartly, “if you’d just lost nearly a thousand. Christ alive!”
Chelsea giggled, somewhat nervously. “And to think I have nearly a hundred more people to tell about this. Ah well. At least the deathpool is still open.”
Alex looked at Stephen, then back at his partner. “I’m going to have to put three hundred on you, Chels,” he said, almost apologetically. “Sorry, but the odds of your survival just aren’t looking very good.”
“I’d bet on myself if I thought it’d do me any good,” she agreed, gloomily. “All right, gentlemen, place your bets.”
I've figured out my favorite types of couples, the ones I ship like FedEx, and I've figured out why I ship them. Usually, it's because the courtship goes a little something like this:
She: I hate you.
He: Good! 'Cause I hate you too!
He: Though, y'know, you're kind of hot.
She: Thanks! So are you.
He: I knew that.
She: So, uh, not to make this awkward or anything, but I think I'm in love with you.
He: Oh, good.
She: Oh, good?
He: Well, I didn't want to be the one to bring it up.
He: So, want to get married then?
She: Might as well.
Sexes interchangable at need, of course.
More WW fanfiction.
Aaron Hoffman was about to explore the bounties of his latest purchase when word came.
The little concubine flinched away from him when the grin spread across his face. A bit predatory, he reflected, but whose wouldn’t be, when told the infamous Harry Dresden had just been captured, and on his estate? He waved the messenger away and put his shirt back on, then caressed the concubine’s small, sweet face.
“Come along, sweetheart,” he told her, indulgently, “and I’ll show you something special before you begin service here. A little treat.”
The concubine trembled, but followed him obediently enough. He made a mental note to thank the buyer; her training had obviously been the best money could buy. A sweet little delicacy, that, and an absolute steal at the price she was being offered.
But there was more important business at hand. Hoffman settled himself in his chair of state and directed the concubine to kneel beside him. Once she was arranged to his satisfaction, he waved to the messenger-slave.
“Bring him in,” he ordered, trying not to let his glee fill his voice. “Bring him here.”
The messenger nodded impassively and left the room. Hoffman laid his hand against the concubine’s cheek. “You’ll enjoy this,” he told her, turning her face up to his. “An enemy to the Alliance has been captured—yes!—and if you’re a very good little girl I’ll let you see his execution.”
Her eyes widened, and she dropped her face before a soulgaze could begin, leaving him with a view of a knot of golden hair, spiked with chopsticks. Hoffman frowned absently at them, made another mental note to have her provided with more appropriate hair ornaments, and looked up as the door opened.
Two of his brawnier slaves dragged a dark, skinny, ridiculously tall man in wizard-proof chains down the room and threw him at Hoffman’s feet. One of them wiped his forehead and informed Hoffman that “’e’s a fighter, sir. Might wanna watch ‘im.”
“Mind your place,” Hoffman said, relishing the little concubine’s tiny gasp. “Stand to the side.”
The slaves exchanged a look and did so. Hoffman chose to ignore the impertinence of the look in favor of smirking at Dresden.
It was Dresden, there was no doubt of that. The man looked exactly like his wanted posters. A bit filthier, and certainly scruffier, but some of those bruises and cuts must have been a result of his capture. And the expression...Hoffman actually laughed aloud.
“Well, Harry Dresden,” he said, leaning back in his chair and absently stroking the concubine’s hair, “welcome to chez Hoffman. Your stay will be short, and, I trust, unpleasant.”
Dresden spat blood from a split lip onto the floor. “Short, yeah,” he said. “I don’t plan on hanging around.”
“Oh, you’ll hang, I think,” Hoffman said, and chuckled. “Perhaps we’ll go traditional and draw and quarter you as well, or perhaps we’ll stay simple. Wouldn’t want to risk a death curse, now.”
“Of course not,” Dresden murmured.
Hoffman smiled, picturing the event, and reached down to cup the little concubine’s breast. She stiffened under his hand, and his smile grew broader. He loved it when they cried, when they fought; always made the eventual conclusion so much more satisfying. And with Dresden to boot...wait.
Dresden’s eyes had dropped to the concubine, and his face had shut down. He looked back up at Hoffman. “Your slave?” he inquired, too politely.
Hoffman, always ready to brag, dismissed the expression. “My latest purchase. Such a pretty little thing, don’t you think, and so obedient you would never know she was human.” He rose, walked to Dresden, circled the man with his hands clasped at the small of his back. “Certainly, you never will.”
“You’re going to kill me right away,” was the surprising answer. “Then...what?”
Now, what did the man want to know that for? Ah well. Couldn’t hurt to answer. The man was chained, after all, and helpless. “Then, I treat myself,” he said, then looked up at his burly slaves. “I grow tired of this conversation. Take him to the torture.”
The slaves nodded, and stepped forward, but paused when Dresden began to laugh.
Hoffman, on his way back to the chair and to the little concubine still frozen beside it, turned around and looked somewhat skeptically at the man. “You find torture funny?”
Dresden, still laughing, shook his head. “Oh, no, I don’t find torture funny at all.”
“Then what’s the great joke?”
Dresden looked up at him, and grinned widely. “Aaron Hoffman,” he said, “that isn’t a concubine.”
Hoffman turned around.
The last thing he saw was a hair chopstick, driving for his eye.
Karrin Murphy shook her hand briskly, and glared at Harry. “It’s not funny.”
“But did you see his expression? Inventive use of chopsticks, by the way.” He got unsteadily to his feet, and eyed his chains. “God, I hate thorn manacles.”
One of the brawny men who’d dragged him in stepped up and tossed him the keys. “Got ‘em off the steward,” he said. “We’ll go and spread the word, shall we?”
“Yeah, thanks, guys,” Harry said, absently, trying to maneuver his hands so he could unlock one cuff while still holding the keys. Karrin, after a moment of letting him struggle, made a faint tsking noise and came to help him, stepping delicately over Hoffman’s body.
“I think I bruised my thumb,” she said, after a moment.
Harry watched the top of her head, bent in concentration. “Yeah. Unnecessary force, that.”
She jerked her head and pulled the cuffs off his hands. “Get your feet yourself. And that was very necessary force, thank you. You haven’t seen the other girls in his harem yet.”
“I’m sorry it took me so long,” he said, sitting back down to unlock the cuffs on his feet and, not so incidentally, to get a look at her face. “I practically had to jump up and down in front of the guys in the field before they’d actually catch me.”
Success—he’d made her smile. A tiny smile, but still. “Funny how you never can get caught when you intend to.” She raised her hands to her neck and struggled with the fake collar she wore.
Harry, ignoring the one foot still chained, got up, wordlessly broke the collar open, and threw it away.
This had been a bad idea from the start, and he’d known it the second he saw her, her face twisted and a collar around her neck. Fake or not, it was still a sight to make his temper rise and haunt his dreams. And watching Hoffman sit there and molest her, watching her face...
“I’m sorry,” he said, again, breaking the silence.
She shook her head, still facing away from him. “It was my idea.”
“I should’ve stopped you.”
“You think you could have?” Karrin turned to face him now, and her expression was more ironically amused than angry, for which favor, much thanks.
Harry pulled her into his arms, rested his chin on top of her head. “I should’ve tried.”
She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her face into his chest. “Wouldn’t’ve worked. This was the only way to get at Hoffman and you damn well knew it. Anyway, he’s dead. That’s it. We won.”
Yes. They’d won. One more small victory for the rebels.
“We don’t do this again,” he said. “But yes. We won.”
She took a deep breath. “Right. Homeward ho.” She pulled away from him, then, and bent to retrieve her chopstick. It made a faint sucking noise, coming out.
“Ew. I’m surprised you still want that.” Harry sat back down and fiddled with the chain still on his foot.
Karrin eyed the chopstick’s dripping point speculatively. “I don’t know. It was a surprisingly efficient way of killing him. As a last-ditch resort it’s not bad.”
“Yeah, I guess...” Still, if she ever put it in her hair again, she was a lot less squeamish than he was. “You know, I think this is the first time I’ve seen you in a dress.”
“And the last,” she said. “Get that damn chain off your foot, I want to get back and get changed. Fucking dresses.”
“I don’t know, I kind of like the view...”
That should have earned him a kick. She lifted an eyebrow instead. “One of these days, Dresden...come on. Let’s go home.”
And random funnies:
Is it bad when my very first thought upon seeing this is "Dammit, Harry, not again!"
Or does that just mean I'm hallucinating?
OMG OMG OMG SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER.
IT IS JOHN BARROWMAN AND HE IS BLONDE AND FABULOUS.
YES, THIS REQUIRES ALL CAPS.
BLONDE. AND FABULOUS.
This is very, very bad.
The following collection of names appeared in a fanfic I was reading; Paul, Christopher, Thomas, David, Jonathan, William, Patrick, Peter, Colin, and Sylvester. And I knew what the correlation was.* Right off the bat.
This is bad on so many levels.
*For the curious, those are the first names of the actors for, in order, Doctors Eight, Nine, Four, Ten, Three, One, Two, Five, Six, and Seven.
Oi, Pris, I had a weird dream. It was a kind of fixit sequel to Cold Comfort, where it turned out Murph got resurrected by something or other (I think the dream blamed faeries) and then Lasciel mysteriously disappeared, Murph started channeling the Eighth Doctor's Jesus imagery and then fell asleep on Harry's doorstep where he tripped over her the next morning. Yeah, you explain it. It's your fault anyway.