|Ties That Bound
Author: Nattle Sage PM
They say that the best way is to leave the past and move on. However, when you desire nothing more than to follow that golden rule, past comes to haunt you down, unbidden. Harry finds out a secret about his family that endangers the lives of those he loveRated: Fiction T - English - Mystery - Bob & H. Dresden - Chapters: 4 - Words: 11,657 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 11 - Updated: 06-04-12 - Published: 01-05-09 - id: 4771756
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Hello, so, the second chapter...Thank you everyone who read and reviewed the story so far! I would like to really know about my portrayal of the characters: are they believable? Close to the canon? Are there any suggestions on how to improve them or/and the story? Actually any type of the feedback is greatly appreciated! So read, enjoy and review, please!
Cook Morgue, 1:30 pm.
Harry Dresden entered the morgue building and made his way down to the lab. Strangely, but this place became all too familiar to him within some months only. He nodded to Butters, the nervous M.E., and Kirmani, who in his turn groaned at the sight of the "wizard", openly showing just how "happy" he was to see the charlatan. Harry's eyes, though, were focused on the one other person in the room, whose reaction to him was more concerning.
"Hi, Murphy, how's life?" Harry said too cheerfully, still painfully remembering their last talk. Rather, how she almost jailed him for the murder of Uncle Justin. Why,why couldn't he tell her the truth? Oh, yes, the standard answer – too much was at stake there.
"Hi, " she replied without missing a beat, her features schooled in that all to familiar "cop" expression. "It would be better without all the strange stuff and crappy murders," she nodded at the body tersely. "Lindsey Braton, 24, worked in the"P_bar" on 24th Avenue. Obviously returned from the party, before she was stalked. Heart is missing, Butters?"
"Yes, yes," the medical expert answered hurriedly, taking over the conversation, oblivious to the growing tension in the room. "The autopsy has shown that unlike I previously supposed, victim's heart wasn't removed post mortem..."
"Let's make it clear, she was alive when someone cut out her heart?" Kirmani cried out in disbelieve. Murphy's frown deepened, her stomach sinking with the feeling of foreboding. Just what kind of monster could have done that? Butters looked at her clearly unsettled himself, trying to carefully choose his next words.
"Ah, as a matter of fact, the deceased's heart, it appears, wasn't exactly cut out..." he pointed at the now cleaned hole in the chest. Harry immediately wanted to look away, even that way, all cleansed and prepared, the sight wasn't pleasant in the least. "The lips of the wound are chaotic and ragged. There isn't, however, any specific pattern to it that would indicate the use of the murder weapon."
"Meaning?" Murphy prompted curtly, her heart already clenching with the realization she was silently begging was not the truth.
"Well, um...all the tests show that the victim's heart has been removed..."
"It was ripped out, while she was still alive," Dresden interrupted quietly, already deducing the messy scenario of the girl's demise. Harry could feel the bile burning in his throat, as the facts presented him with a gruesome mental image of the night of the murder. Looking around, he noticed the greenish face of Kirmani, his usual skeptical scoff present, while Murphy knitted her brows in suspicion, her tanned face pale, but set with determination. Turning to the M.E., she gave Butters a pointed look to go on with examination. Her insides sinking in, as she tried not to look at the wizard standing next to her. Just how would Harry Dresden come to those conclusions? What did he know?
"Ah, I...um...realize that it sounds pretty...wow...incredible, but...Mr. Dresden is right, all the tests came up positive, she was still alive when the perp...hm...did... his job. And he also left us a sample of a fingerprint. It's not clear, but it still can..." Butters trailed off lamely, finally noticing the silent confrontation he and Detective Kirmani were caught in. Murphy's eyes bored into Harry's, her face already settling into disbelieving, disapproving expression. Without tearing her eyes from Dresden's, she commanded, her voice freezing cold, making Butters visibly cringe.
"Good. Give the print to Kirmani. Kirmani, run it through our system and any databases that have fingerprints samples. I want the bastard caught." The both men nodded and busied themselves, though each of them payed a close attention to the unwinding scene.
"D'you know something we don't?" Murphy's focus was sorely on Dresden now, her eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"No," Harry answered bewildered. How could the table so hastily turn in his direction? "Hey, Murphy, I just got here! How could I know something about this murder?"
"You tell me...You just seem to...know stuff? I have no idea really, in fact, I don't know anything about you now." There was that cool tone again, the one she used, when leaving his apartment not so long ago; when he didn't, couldn't tell her the truth, despite his vehement desire to do just that.
"Hey, Murph, come on, you have to trust me." Harry looked at her with pleading eyes. She was his friend, the closest confidant he had, well, among the people, anyways. Murphy rubbed the bridge of her nose warily, quite aware of the looks on both her partner and Butter's faces. Right, not a place to make a dramatic scene...
"Yeah, fine," The tone of her voice, though, suggested it was anything but fine. She mentally kicked herself, there was no way she'll let this...man affect her work...more than he already was, anyways. She'll deal with the other issues later...someday...in the future... "We also found some powder on her body and nearby. Probably you'll help to figure it out. Kirmani, will you give him a sample? Call me if you find anything." With those words she turned and exited the lab swiftly, leaving the three man looking uncertainly at each other.
When Harry caught up with her in the hall, she was leaning against the wall, her eyes closed, her forehead pressed to the cool concrete, as if she was experiencing a wave of dizziness. Which probably she was, due to the amount of work that befell her these days.
"Murphy? Murphy!" She opened one eye and regarded him scornfully. "What's wrong with you? You're acting strange."
"Strange?" She looked vivid now, pushing of the wall, she neared him, her eyes flashing with irritation for everything she had to come through those several weeks: the doubt of her sanity in her boss's eyes, the laughs of her colleagues at her "brush with the woo world", the scare of her daughter when she woke up from her mother's nightmares...No, that was way too much for her ...She just didn't have any strength for Harry Dresden now. Actually, she doubted she would ever have... "You are talking about strange? Strange is your middle name, not mine!" She took a calming breath, composing herself quickly. She'll not give him the satisfaction of seeing her so...disturbed. "Look, Harry, I'm sorry...I just... have some other problems, and this case and the work in general...I just...don't want to deal with your world of craziness. Not yet." He nodded, his own expression guarded, though pain was evident in his eyes, where he couldn't hide his frustration and regret. Instead, he tried to mask it with a small understanding smile.
"OK, how about dinner?" Harry chirped in, hoping to lighten the mood, desperately needing to make things right between them. She just looked at him tiredly, so wary, it made his stomach turn with helplessness .
"Maybe...sometime... After I'll figure out this case," she sighed deeply, running a hand through her loose hair wearily. The further away she stay from Harry Dresden, the better it will be for her. "Look, call me if you get something, alright?" She went down the hall, not waiting for his answer, not giving him a second glance, leaving Harry with the dreadful feeling of emptiness and loss.
Chicago Times headquarters, 2:44 pm.
The head office of the large newspaper was a bustling place. People walking in and out, the clicking sounds of working equipment, excited shouts over the phones and occasional cries for the lost papers. Those who were not used to such working conditions could easily get lost and disoriented in this chaos of a working place, but for reporters that was a kind of a "creative mess" - they didn't pay much attention to all that clutter.
Melissa Lewis was certainly one of those gifted journalists, whose insight and bright mind together with boldness and lack of timidity helped to get the best material and uncover the mysteries that were usually hushed up from the prying eyes. Even now she was typing away some new bomb material that promised to fray the authorities' nerves. Her table was beautifully and stylishly decorated in bright green and violet without any inappropriate, out of fashion or standing out of place detail. Perfection and stylish minimalism that all shouted the fashionista of an owner. A cup of coffee rested near the photo frame of a smiling young black haired man.
"Hey, Lewis, how's it going?" her fellow coworker and first-hand aid, Jake, came over holding two big files. He was a sweet guy, the same age as her, and getting into the job just because he was very good at following the commands. You tell him to climb into the waste bin to get a new lead and he would do that with little protest. Smitten with the young but talented journalist he was always ready to help and do any even highly unpleasant job for her despite the overly tight schedule of his own. It was endearing even, how she always could manipulate him into doing things for her first and make him leave his actual job for later. Endearing and somewhat nettlesome. To think of it, it's been almost eight month and he yet had to pluck up his courage to ask her out. Not that she would agree...But still, what a shy puppy he was! No wonder Melissa liked to have him around.
"Hey, Jake, just finishing the article about the murder in the park." She stretched in her seat lazily, her natural cat-like grace and lean body pretty visible through her transparent purple blouse immediately drove the man speechless. Gulping the remains of her already cold coffee, Melissa resisted the urge to roll her eyes and snap her fingers, bringing him back to focus. Instead, she smiled pleasantly. "Found something for me?" She pointed to the folders, that special driven glint of anticipation in her big green eyes. Jake blinked, his eyes founding those enchanting ones of his colleague.
"Yeah, I'm fine thank you!" He pronounced with a sarcastic whine, feigning hurt at her luck of curtsey. Melissa just huffed, blowing away the streak of her annoyingly floating waves from her face.
"Jake, you know I don't have time for this one. But I love you, regardless," She chided him as a small child, all the while smiling her little disarming smile that always made him try to impress her even more.
"Yep, ma'am! Love you too!" He mocked, rolling his eyes. "Here's what you asked. All I could find about Lindsey Braton. Nasty girl she was! Private bars, "special group meetings", old men involved – all that in her sweet age, horrible!" Jake handed her the file. Melissa skipped through it hastily, before putting it aside, fixing the young man with a penetrating stare."Anything else?" She prompted expectantly, knowing that there certainly was more. Sure enough, he did his job well. Jake sighed a bit disappointed: when Lewis was on the lead, she was a bitch-like not people person. Maybe later he'll manage to invite her on the cup of coffee, maybe if he tried harder he...they could...
"Just as you asked. I had to sweat on that one," he handed her the second file. For a minute he thought he saw her green eyes sparkle some unnatural bright light, but in a second the maniacal glow was gone. She put the file aside, not opening. He regarded her curiously, what was with her and this case? He never saw her to be so detail-squeezing, driven even.
"Why do you need the case of five year old? I mean, Justin Morningway has died long ago, heart attack, no less, nothing striking in that, uh?"
"Yeah, nothing…" Melissa seemed distant and unwilling to say anything more. Jake could almost see those gears in that pretty head of hers turning with lightning speed. Now, it was no use to fight for her attention. As if to prove his point, the reporter suddenly stood up and grabbed her coat, her eyes sparkling with determination. She seized both files and turned to Jake, her disarming smile was enough to leave him roiled. "Thanks, Jake, you did a great job! The article will be blasting!" She quickly, impulsively, moved to give him a quick peck on the cheek, enough to make the pretty rose blush to appear on his baby smooth face. Before he could recover, she continued, practically batting her long eyelashes. "Look, can I ask you one more favor, please?" She smiled so sweetly, he couldn't say no even if he wanted.
"Um...sure...wh-hat is it?" He stuttered dumbly, cursing himself all the way. Why he couldn't act like a man around her?
She regarded him somberly, all traces of smiles gone, making sure he understood it was not a joking business. "I need you to find all you can about one more person." He just shrugged his shoulders, relieved she was not mocking him in any way. Did she even understood how much power she had over him? He'll do anything for her, really. Gulping, he nodded his head:
"OK, who exactly?"
Her voice was cold and detached, when she answered:
Harry Dresden's Office, 3:15 p.m.
"I can't understand what's wrong with her!" Harry exclaimed exasperated, pacing back and forth the floor of his secret lab. Bob, who was closely scrutinizing the photos of the crime scene, looked up, his brow crooked.
"I suppose you are referring to Lieutenant Murphy?"
"Yes, yes, she…she was so distant…like…", Harry struggled to put his ragging emotions into words, finally sighing in defeat – self-expression was never his forte. "...like we are not friends anymore."
"I suppose in those situations the phrase "Give it some time" would be remarkably suitable." Bob returned to the photos, absently rubbing the black manacles encircling his wrists. The wizard glared at his back, before giving in. After all, Bob wasn't someone he could talk about things like that. His last brush up with females was quite a while ago and even than, who knew how he was with them... Harry cringed at the mental images his brain didn't hesitate to present at the thought of Bob and women. That was ...unsettling, in the least.
"Yeah, guess you're right, but it's still…disturbing," Harry exhaled deeply, ruffling his hair in frustration.
"I should think that solving that case will improve the situation. After all, the good Lieutenant will see that you are helping her out, not cause her distress," Bob answered, not tearing his eyes from the photos. Really, who was he to give any women related advices? He did love a woman, obsessively so, and look where it has got him? "Harry, mark the way her arms are looped. It's rather an unnatural position for a random victim." Bob pointed at the photo of the girl. Lindsey Braton, Harry reminded himself. Her body was slumped onto the pavement, as a discarded rag doll. Surely if she was attacked she should've put up a struggle, right? The force behind the attack was incredible to leave her thrown-away on the ground like that.
"Yes, it looks like whoever did that was far larger and more muscular, not giving her a chance to defend herself," Harry mused aloud, before looking up at the ghost, his eyes glimmering with anticipation, his mind already in gear, trying to piece the parts of the puzzle together. "Only I don't think that this girl was random victim, Bob. Murphy said they found some powder nearby, that and the fact that no man is strong enough to do that without some sort of a weapon and not attracting attention. I mean, how really strong you should be to rip the heart out before she could scream? Someone would have surely heard her. Looks like our case." Harry smirked humorlessly. Why, just when he was hoping for some time off, things just happened to find him? He needed to stop and think, to work things out with both Bob and Murphy, instead, it seemed that the two of them were drifting more and more away, and he couldn't think of a single thing he could do to improve the situation. Suddenly, Harry felt very much alone. Before the feeling could escalate to the whole mind-blowing depression, he tried to block it, willing himself to go back to the case at hand. Lindsey needed him to find out her killer, he can deal with his personal life later.
"And you haven't got the sample of that powder by any chance?" Bob asked in his usual "you-are-so-careless-it's-a-wonder-how-you're-still-alive" tone, his eyebrow raised questioningly, smug smile playing on his lips. Harry rolled his eyes, all the previous musings forgotten. Why did this ghost always felt the need to be so smart?
"I've got it, Murphy practically thrust it into my hands. Surprisingly, she thinks I have something to do with it."
"Except that this time you don't," Bob carried on, his tone unnervingly placid. There was an unpleasant pause, where each of them got back to the events of the past several weeks. Suppressing his own painful memories, Bob turned to his former student, all business-like, rubbing his hands in anticipation. "OK, let the professional take a look." The ghost let his slender fingers trace the unknown substance lightly, eyes closing in deep concentration, his face placid and absent. Harry could only guess what happened to him during those "procedures". When he finally came back from whatever trance he was in, his face became an interesting mixture of distress and surprise. Bob was silent for a moment, as if he was trying to find the right words to explain his finding. Harry huffed impatiently, urging Bob not to stall and just spill it.
"What's it? Did you get the ingredients?" Harry asked eagerly, only to feel dread feeling his guts at the grim look on Bob's ashen face.
"Kananga flower, ylang-ylang, acacia leaves used as aspergillum, a John the Conqueror root for commanding power," the ghost muttered absently, rubbing his manacles with double force. It took him a second to blink away, whatever memories or disturbing thoughts he encountered while inspecting the substance, before he visibly had to shake himself out of it. Regarding his friend with a unnerved, almost frightened expression Bob continued in a gravel leveled voice, his intensified British accent the apparent sign of his agitation. "My, Harry, whoever was planning this ritual knew very well what he was doing."
"You mean like he was a professional professional?" Harry asked, an unpleasant shiver running down his spine. "What's the ritual? Commanding a zombie? Calling for a ghoul?"
"I'm not sure, Harry!" Bob exclaimed nervously. Though his eyes never met the wizard's. He turned his back to Dresden, his keen eyes scanning the shelves as if looking for an answer. "We have a body with a ripped heart, and we have a combination of herbs, the components that have a murderous effect, excuse me my humor." Bob listed, his hands twitching slightly, before he went all still, as only the ghost could be. Several seconds seemed to drag endlessly as Harry also listed those things in his head. There was something there, on the surface, you have to only scratch it and all the parts will take their place. Bob turned to him so suddenly, Harry almost jumped out of fright, the look on the ghost's face shaking him to the core. Then something clicked in Dresden's head, he did remember. Bob peered closely at Harry's face, which was continuously loosing it's color, as the realization hit him even before the ghost could voice it . "Harry, whatever we are dealing with, it's obviously the darkest, most macabre sort of Black Magic!"