Title: Moose Bites Can Be Pretty Nasty
Fandom: Dresden Files
Spoilers: Set about two months after Proven Guilty.
Summary: There's a thing in a circle. Christmas fic for GustheMoose.
Murphy damn near hung up on me.
“No, I’m not kidding, I’m not!” I glanced out the open door. Yep, the thing was still there, still rampaging around inside the circle I’d set, fuzzily visible from this side and hopefully invisible from the road.
Molly gave me a worried glance from her seat on the top step. Aggravating as it gets sometimes, it’s handy having an apprentice whose talents lie in an entirely different realm than yours. There was just no way I could have held a veil on the thing for as long as Molly’d been doing, even at my current level of power, and I definitely didn’t want casual passerby getting a good look at this.
“Dresden, this isn’t funny.” Murphy sounded flat and unhappy, a tone I hated hearing from her. Knowing I was making her day worse didn’t help.
“Yeah, and I’m not laughing,” I told her. “Or lying. I swear I’m not lying. I got a chunk missing from my shoulder says I’m not lying.”
She sighed into the phone. “Look, if this is some ridiculous attempt to make me feel better or something…”
Damn. I wished I’d actually thought of it that way. “I’m sorry,” was all I could say.
There was a long pause, and I wished for a moment that I hadn’t said it.
“I’ll be there in ten minutes,” she said, finally, and hung up.
I went back outside to contemplate the thing.
It looked kind of like a moose. A demon moose on speed. Only it had bigger horns than any moose I’d ever seen, and a longer neck, and big teeth. Sharp, pointy teeth. As I knew very well.
Definitely something out of the Nevernever. I wanted Murph to get a look at it before I sent it back, in case it had caused damage elsewhere (other than to my shoulder, of course), or if she ran into one of them some other time. It’s always good to know what you’re up against.
And, to be honest, I’d called her because I wanted to see her. She hadn’t been around in nearly a month, busy with work and family and all sorts of other things I didn’t have. It gets a little lonely with just Molly and Bob for company. Mouse and Mister are all very well, but they don’t talk and they aren’t friends like she is.
So. I called her. I’m shameless sometimes.
She didn’t sound like she’d been having an easy time of it, though. Not that she ever really does, not after she started really hanging around with me. Now people think she’s crazy.
Which I guess is a valid opinion, when you think about some of the stuff she and I have fought together. But Murphy’s usually pretty good at sounding sane, even if it takes some creative writing to get there. Lately…
I guess I should just be glad that Molly and I had gotten to the demon moose before it had caused any real damage.
“So, what do you think it is?” Molly ventured, after a moment.
I shrugged. “Demon moose?”
She giggled. “No, really, Harry.”
“No, really, Molly.” I probably shouldn’t have mimicked her like that, but I was tired, and a little sad after talking to Murphy. “I don’t know what it is. It looks like a demon moose, so I’m calling it a demon moose. I’ll figure out the scientific name later.”
Molly, fortunately, took my ill temper in stride. “Funny,” she said, sweetly, “and here I thought my brother was the five-year-old. Is Sergeant Murphy coming?”
“Sorry. Yeah.” I sighed, and sat down on the step next to Molly. “She didn’t sound very happy, though.”
“Rough day, maybe?”
I shook my head. “Sounded more like a rough month.” The demon moose chose that moment to release a bone-rattling bellow; I winced, and added, “And that’s not going to make anything easier.”
As if on cue, one of my upstairs neighbors threw up a window, hollered, “Shut up, Dresden!” and slammed it down again. Come to think of it, I’d probably be getting a lecture from Mrs. Thornton the next time she fed me. Oh well.
“Yeah,” Molly said, ignoring my neighbors with the ease of long practice. “Well, at least it’s something new.”
New, and inexhaustible. When Murphy arrived fifteen minutes later, the thing was still throwing itself against the boundaries of my circle, and howling occasionally. I was definitely going to hear from my landlady about this.
Murphy slid out of her car and walked over to the top of the steps where I stood leaning against the steps, feeding power to the veil (Molly had gone inside for a lie-down). “So where’s this demon moose of yours?” she asked.
“Turn around,” I said.
She did, and took a step back, right into me. I had anticipated this and did not get knocked down the steps, thankfully. “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.”
“Told you I wasn’t lying.”
“No kidding.” She turned to look up at me, her eyebrows up. “Where the hell did you find that?”
I shrugged. “It produced itself in the middle of a lesson. I only wish I knew where it was from. Or what the hell it is, come to think of it.”
Murphy walked right up to the circle’s edge, and didn’t even flinch when the thing flung itself at the circle and bounced off right in front of her. “Demon moose seems to be a sufficiently descriptive name for it.”
I wandered up behind her and studied the thing. “I dunno. The antlers look a bit too spiky to be a real moose.”
“Hence, demon.” She was already standing straighter than she had been when she’d gotten out of the car. There was that little victory. “I guess it’s a faerie creature?”
“Definitely from the Nevernever, anyway. I’m going to send it home; I just wanted you to get a look at it first in case it’s caused mayhem elsewhere.” I thought about it, then added, “Or more of its brethren show up. Hopefully they won’t.”
Murphy snorted. “Knock on wood. Well, if it’s a faerie, bullets should work against it.”
I nodded. “Yeah. That, and it’s not very bright. Basically Molly stood in front of it and waved her arms at it until it charged towards her and right into my circle. You could probably drive it into a trap the same way, or knock it into the river.”
“Handy to have a method of killing it, anyway.” She sighed. “Well, at least a lost moose is a perfectly plausible explanation this far north.”
“Yeah.” I moved wrong and a stab of pain shot through my shoulder, reminding me of the other difference between real moose and the demon moose. “Oh, yeah, and it’s got nasty pointy teeth.”
She gave me an incredulous look. “Aren’t moose herbivores?”
“Hence, demon.” Man, I love it when I can steal other people’s words. Saves me having to think up my own. “This one’s got very pointy teeth. It bit me.”
Murphy’s lips twitched. “Were you trying to carve your initials into it at the time?”
I blinked. “What? No, I…oh, very funny. I was trying to keep it from stabbing Molly with its horns, thank you very much.”
She put a hand on my arm in a silent apology. “At least you don’t have to worry about rabies.”
Now, there was a nasty thought—faerie rabies. The moose wasn’t frothing, though, so I was pretty sure I was safe. “Yeah. Had your look?”
She nodded. “Demon moose, spiky horns, pointy teeth. I have it, thanks.”
“Then I’ll send it back—“ The demon moose interrupted me with another ear-shattering bellow.
Another window flew up. “Dammit, Dresden! Shut your damn dog up!”
Murphy pivoted neatly on her heel and informed the offending neighbor crisply, “Police business, sir. Go back inside and stay there.” She waited until the window shut, and added in an undertone, “And learn to tell the difference between a dog and a goddamn demon.”
“My neighbors are stupid. Thanks, though.” I smiled at her. “Are you feeling any better?”
“A little. Demon moose—mooses? Meece? I can never remember the plural. They do tend to brighten up the day.” She smiled, as if at a private joke, and then said, “Well, go on, send it back. I want to watch.”
I shrugged, and started down the stairs. “It won’t be very exciting. Just a lot of muttering if it all goes well.”
“So?” She didn’t follow me, but instead leaned on the railing that kept casual passerby from going headlong down my stairs, looking down at me for once and clearly enjoying every minute. “I like watching you work magic.”
I paused on the bottom stair, and looked up at her. “That so?”
Murphy shrugged, a little embarrassed flush rising on her cheeks. “Maybe. I also like watching someone else do the work for once.”
“Ha, yeah.” I hesitated for another moment, feeling like there was something more I ought to do. She hadn’t been around in a month… “Hey, are you on duty today?”
“No.” She arched an eyebrow at me, and added, “Actually, that’s one of the reasons I was so annoyed when you called. I thought you were going to make me go back on duty on my first day off in three weeks.”
I winced. “Uh. I really have a great sense of timing, don’t I.”
“If by great you mean foul.”
I let that pass as unfortunately true. “Do you want to go out for a beer after this? My treat.”
Murphy blinked. “Well, sure, I’d love to, but aren’t you in the middle of a lesson?”
I turned around and went back up a couple stairs to get on a level with her. “Molly’s done for the day, I think. She held a veil on that thing for a good half hour.”
“I think that’s impressive?”
“Very,” I said. “Especially for an apprentice as new as she is. I was going to take her home anyway, so…Mac’s?”
“Oh, way to make a girl feel appreciated.” She gave me a crooked smile. “Mac’s it is, and I will meet you there. I have no desire to deal with your psychotic driving.”
“Surely it’s only mildly insane.” I started back down the stairs. “Back in a flash. Don’t go anywhere.”
Murphy laughed. “I won’t.”