Rating: Some iffy language
Verse: All TV verse
Disclaimer: Dresden Files belongs to Jim Butcher and Scifi Channel I made up Amanda and Maria
Any morning that begins with Kirmani beating on my door hard enough to wake me up cannot be good. I reluctantly opened the door. He was dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt.
Kirmani owns jeans?
I let him in, unfortunately.
At least he had run out of literary wizard's names to call me.
"What, can I do for you, Detective? Does Murphy need me on a case?"
See? I can be polite.
"Uhm well, no not exactly" he said, looking everywhere but in my direction.
He was shifting his weight from foot to foot fidgeting and ... nervous? What? No snide put down of my magical paraphernalia?
"I came here to hire you."
"Yeah, c'mon Kirmani, why are you here. If you've finished wasting my time I need my breakfast."
He glared at me.
"Look, Dresden, it's not my idea, Mom thinks you're the only one who can help her."
Kirmani has a mother?
Ok, rent was due yesterday - a month ago yesterday.
"What does your mother need a wizard for?"
A huge long suffering sigh. "Mom thinks she has a ghost. She says it hangs around her day and night. She says it sometimes knocks things around. Look, Dresden, I'll pay your two day minimum. All you have to do is wave your hockey stick around and convince her the ghost is gone. She -" he broke off then finished in a whisper "She's really scared."
"Yeah, ok. Look, Kirmani, I'll go with you to see what's going on. If there is no ghost I'll convince her. No charge."
Hey look, I left Kirmani speechless. I took advantage of his stunned silence to put on more than shorts and a t-shirt. I also gathered my hockey stick and some other supplies from the lab.
"Harry" It was Bob. "Maybe you should take me along as well, if this is a ghost."
"Bob, I don't have time for this."
"Then put me in your pack."
Oh yeah. This was going to be a great day.
I put Bob's curse decorated skull carefully into my pack as the last of his lights and smoke returned through the skull's eye socket. I padded it and zipped up the pack.
We used Kirmani's car. After a deathly silent drive he parked on a tree shaded street lined with narrow townhouses. Mrs. Kirmani's residence was one of the smaller townhomes. It had window boxes with petunias.
Kirmani seemed to get more nervous with every step. He did not like me much. Now he was going to bring me into his mother's home. I did not envy him. My problem would be getting him to leave me alone with his mother. If there really was a ghost, I didn't want him in the background thinking sarcastic wisecracks almost out loud.
Mrs. Kirmani was obviously the detective's mother. She was shorter than he was and prettier. She looked like she was in her forties, though she must have been older. She looked fit and strong and afraid of nothing. In fact, I thought perhaps ghosts should be scared of her.
"Sid! Honey, you found the wizard?"
I cleared my throat. Sid glared at me.
"Yeah, Mom, I told you, he sometimes works with my partner. Mom? This is Harry Dresden."
I shook her hand then retrieved mine before she crushed it.
"Come in, come in, I made breakfast."
She led us into her home. I put my pack by the door. The interior was all soft hues and fabrics. It was neat but not overly so. I sensed the ghost the second I crossed the threshold. Oh yeah, Mom had a ghost alright.
"Mom, he's here to work."
"So he can't have breakfast?"
No, I couldn't. That ghost sensed me too. There was rattling upstairs. Mrs. Kirmani paled and began to tremble. Her son put his arms around her, concerned.
I woke up next to the fireplace, feeling like I had been hit by a truck. A really pissed off ghost. I groaned and tried to stand. I saw a small 'not there' in the air, speeding through the room at tremendous speed. It was headed for Mrs. Kirmani this time. Kirmani tried to shield his mother and was cut from shoulder to the opposite hip. He got his mother on the ground. She was whimpering softly. The ghost careened about the room like a projectile, knocking over objects and putting holes in things. Like the sofa, or us if I couldn't get her calmed down. Yes. Her. She couldn't have been more than 5 years old when she died.
Alright. Rules be damned. This ghost had drawn blood. I needed to calm this kid down and fast. I called out to Kirmani.
"Detective, my pack is over there, by the door, can you reach it?"
He crawled a few feet and reached my pack.
"Open it." I told him
He did so.
"BOB, I yelled, we need your help!"
Hrothbert of Bainbridge emerged from dancing smoke and light.
Kirmani gawped. His mother muted a scream.
"See, Harry, I told you I might be usef– ooof!"
A tear appeared in his immaculate jacket. Bob was doubled over. Had he almost... fallen?
"We have a problem here, Bob."
"You don't say."
Yeah, Bob thinking sarcastic thoughts aloud was so much better.
He took another hit then bellowed.
"Calm yourself, child, if you wish us to speak with you, come here and be still!"
The careening ghost slowed. Bob turned to Mrs. Kirmani.
"Milady, she has been focused on you. I need you to come here and speak softly to her, as if you were speaking to a 5 year old child."
"You are." I said.
Mrs. Kirmani's eyes went wide. "A child?"
"Come here, child, what is your name?" Bob asked gently.
Bob knelt down, a swirl of motion in front of him. Mrs. Kirmani knelt beside him.
"Whats your name, Honey?"
The swirl became a hazy form of a small girl, she was crying, breathing in a hiccupy way. Her face streaked with blood and soot.
Kirmani's mother tried to reach out for the girl, but her hand went right through her. Bob's didn't. He pulled the small ghost in tight, shushing and wiping her tears with a bright white handkerchief he had pulled out of some pocket or other.
"Honey, please tell me your name, mine's Amanda"
"Maria." a shy whisper from a ghost who had earlier been a speeding bullet.
"I can't find Mama."
Mrs. Karmani nearly melted. The detective looked torn between killing me and hugging his mother. He settled for pressing the remains of his t-shirt against the long diagonal cut that was still bleeding.
Bob was... singing? I heard a lullaby tune and incomprehensible old english lyrics. The small ghost looked like she was drifting off to sleep. Bob spoke gently to her.
"Can you hear your mama? She's calling you, she's been waiting for you. She misses you."
The child's head cocked slightly.
"I can hear her! Mama!"
"Just follow her voice, child, you will find your Mama."
Maria's form drifted and faded a bit, then she turned back and spoke again, confusion on her face.
"The pretty lady with mama says..." She pronounced each word carefully, not understanding them but repeating them one by one "Hrothbert, Nothing the High Council does is eternal."
Then she was gone.
Bob looked poleaxed. I couldn't speak. Mrs. Kirmani was crying - but for the reunion of the child with her mother. Kirmani looked like he wanted to run. Neither of them could have known what Maria had done at the end. Amanda went to her son, and inspected the damage, clucking and tsking and bustling about for bandages and antiseptic. She pushed him into the kitchen to clean his cut.
Hrothbert of Bainbridge dissolved.
I made sure Bob's skull was safe, zipped up the pack and let myself quietly out the door and caught the bus.
Bob didn't come out of his skull for a month.
Kirmani pretended nothing had ever happened.
Amanda Kirmani came to my office. She had been saving money and wanted to pay me. I didn't take it. Then she wanted to talk to Bob. She wanted to thank him for what he had done. I couldn't explain to her, the words stuck in my throat. The skull was right there on the table. How could I tell her? She left him a note. I didn't read it.
I could have summoned him, forced him out. I found it simply impossible to do.
After a month I sat on my couch, holding the skull and just talked to him.
"Bob, I need your help. I have a friend in pain and don't know what to do."
The familiar smoke and lights emerged, coalescing into his familiar, comforting form. He sat next to me on the couch. His smile was sad.
"I'm sorry, Harry." He reached out, as if he wanted to put his hand on my shoulder.
"Please don't worry, I'll be fine, in the end."