A/N: I was inspired. The 'pretend pro wrestling' bit seems to have done it…
Swords and Wizardry
by Shadow Crystal Mage
Chapter 2: Yet Another Way To Get Poor Harry Killed
Disclaimer: The Dresden Files belongs to Jim Butcher, not me. Kuro and the Nasuverse in general belongs to Type-moon, and probably Hiroyama Hiroshi, who did the hard work. I am making no money off this, nor do I intend to. This is parody, protected speech.
Harry Dresden, it is generally known, is afflicted in what someone once diagnosed in another Harry as a 'saving people thing'. This 'saving people thing' gets severely aggravated when a woman is in trouble, even if she happens to deserve it. If a child is involved, it gets exponentially worse.
When the little girl in the oversized coat that dragged across the floor entered his office, he really should have just jumped out the window and saved himself the trouble. He, however, did not know this, even though experience should have taught him by now.
"Mr. Dresden?" she said hesitantly, clutching a small piece of paper. "I was hoping you could help me…"
Really, the window would have been a good idea. He was more likely to survive it.
The coat she was wearing was stained and dirty, obviously an older man's coat, and obviously not new. Beneath that she wore shorts, a shirt, and banded thigh-high socks that made him feel old. He distinctly remembered when you needed to be sixteen or a hooker to wear something like that.
Harry stared blankly at her, and a deep-down cynical part of him wondered how this was going to screw him over this time. The idyllic times when clients bought in innocent work that didn't end up in him nearly getting killed were long behind him. Still, on the off— the very, very, very far off— chance this was good, honest, safe work, he put on a polite smile. While he generally got clients old enough to have drivers licenses— and gun permits— he'd had his share of little kids asking him for unicorns, dogs with laser eyes, or just asking him how to get to Hogwarts.
"What can I do for you, miss…?" Harry prompted.
"Kuro," she said, plopping herself onto a chair. "I need your help."
He nodded, making a show of taking out his notepad and readying a pencil as he made a bet with himself. How cute. She was using a fake name. He really hoped this wasn't going to be one of those times he got in legal trouble. At her age, he was already likely to be accused of inappropriate behavior just talking to her, depending on her parents. "What with?"
She gave him a serious, level, appraising look. "How serious are you about the 'wizard' stuff?"
"Pretty serious," he said. "It's on my door, after all."
She frowned slightly, an expression he felt she was too young to pull off properly without looking cute, seemed to consider it, then nodded. He reaffirmed the bet with himself as she gave him a serious, getting-down-to-business look. "Its not likely you can help me yourself, but maybe you can lead me to someone who can. Do you know anyone versed in the basics of multi-dimensional refraction phenomenon?"
Harry blinked as he lost the bet. She wasn't here to ask about applying to Hogwarts? That was a new one for her age group. "Um, what?"
"Multi-dimensional refraction phenomenon," she said patiently, in a tone he was used to hearing from wizards who were his elders in the council or beings centuries older than him when they were patiently trying to explain a concept they found simple and commonplace but was to him just this side of Lovecraftian screwy. The tone subtitled the statement with things like, "how dense can he be", "is he really this stupid", "primitive monkey" and "ah, another stupid mortal to screw over". He wasn't used to hearing the tone from children unless it was because he had displayed his ignorance as to what the current hundred-plus lineup of Pokemon was. "The field of magic focused on the study of parallel alternate mirror worlds and their traversal and exploitation? Come on, if you were really a wizard you'd at least have heard of it."
Harry sighed. Ah. One of those. He hated the imaginative ones. He supposed someday, if they live that long, that they were the kind to grow up into great writers who wrote best-selling books so thick you could use them as doorstops, but at this age, he couldn't stand them. They were the kind who thought of elaborate, intricate and self-consistent magic in their heads, and thought to impress him or, more commonly, show him up about how much they 'knew'. They were, in fact, childish pains in the ass, in the most derogatory senses of the word. Normally, he'd hold on to his fraying patience with his bare hands and as politely and quickly as humanly possible throw the little monster out go his office, but he'd had a long, boring, unproductive day and this really was a pretty bad way to end it. "Look kid, if you don't have any real business with me, I'll have to ask you to leave. This is a place of business and I really don't have time to play with you," he said, against all evidence to the contrary.
She seemed startled by this, as if she hadn't been expecting him to throw her out. She frowned, opened her mouth angrily… and then closed it, a thoughtful look on her face. Had she been at least a decade older, that would have alarmed him. As it was, he was simply astonished she'd think before she spoke. "Perhaps I started this conversation the wrong way. I probably should have asked for your certification."
He jabbed a thumb over at the framed certificate that was his license. "It's right over there. You can take a good look before you go."
She glanced at it, and even though she was too far away to read at, Harry got the nagging feeling she made out every word. Really, had she been older, he'd already have gone for his gun. "I meant your certification that you were a wizard."
"Kid," he said, patience fraying a bit more as he resisted the urge to do just that. "I'm not here to show off for you."
She gave him a long, level look which finally set off the right alarm, even though all it did was make him wonder how early women learned to do that. Then she shuffled a bit and pulled her right arm out of her coat, extending it to one side, palm facing him. "Nothing up my sleeve," she said, smiling a bit smugly but eyes looking at him with unchild-like intensity. "Trace, on."
There was a ripple, and a sword was in her hand, blade down and held carelessly in her fingers.
Harry's chair slammed back in instinctive survival reaction to the sight of the sword as he tried to get to his feet, slammed his thighs on his desk, slammed the backs of his legs on his chair, wind-milled his arms and slammed awkwardly to the floor.
"Do you need help getting up?" a smug, childish voice asked innocently.
From what he could see, the sword still hung carelessly in her grip, in no position to slice him apart just yet. "I'm good," Harry said through gritted teeth as he awkwardly pushed himself to his feet, wincing at the aches of his pratfall.
Kuro smirked as she idly tapped the blade against the leg of her chair, letting it ring metallically. "I've shown you mine, you show me yours," she said.
Harry didn't sit back down, though he made no move to back away, eyeing the 'little girl' and mentally going through the list of things she could be, because she certainly wasn't a little girl. Not an illusion like that. A changeling or one of the faerie were his best guess at the moment. Warily, he held up a finger and said, "Flickum Bickus."
A small flame appeared, dancing on his finger.
Above him, his ceiling fan died.
She looked up at the old thing, one eyebrow raised. "Was it supposed to do that?"
Harry grunted, warily picking up his chair and sitting down. He debated getting his gun, but decided to just pull the drawer he kept it in open. "Looks like we got off on the wrong start," he said, eyeing the sword. The more he looked at it, the more he wondered if it really was an illusion. It looked too… real for that. "What can I do for you?"
"I need you to direct me to a wizard or anyone versed in the study of multi-dimensional refraction phenomenon," she said, finally letting the sword disappear, rubbing her hands together before putting her arm back in her coat. Harry didn't sigh. So it had been an illusion after all. Thumpin' good one, then. "I've been caught in an accident and I need help undoing it, since it isn't my field."
"Never heard of it," he reaffirmed. "What is it?"
Again that long look. "It's the sorcery specializing in the study and travel of parallel worlds. You sure you've never heard of it? I'm pretty sure even apprentices are told about the Five True Magics."
He heard the capitals in those words and got the sinking, bottom dropping out of his stomach feeling this was going to be something he wouldn't be paid about. "I think…" he said slowly, "that you better start at the beginning."
Kuro finished her tale of woe as she discreetly tried to rub at her legs to warm them up. "So I left the police station and here I am," she said. She gave the guy credit. After they'd both established their bonafides to each other he'd been utterly professional, taking notes and interrupting only with clarifying questions, though there wasn't much of that.
The wizard-slash-detective nodded. "And what makes you think you've been sent to another world rather than just a different place on the same one?" he asked.
"Because we were fiddling around with parallel world magic," she said patiently. "It's right there on the description. Granted, I can't be sure though, but I don't have enough money to be able to check."
"And how would you have checked?" he asked.
She gave him a look that tried to convey the 'duh' she was keeping out of her words. "By calling my home phone, of course."
Apparently, he got the 'duh'. "Oh," he said. "That… makes sense…" He eyed his phone, then picked it up and handed it to her. "Check."
"Are you sure?" she asked as she hesitantly picked it up. "This'll be long distance."
"You can pay me back later," he said. "Besides, your folks are going to be worried."
"If they're at home," she muttered, wondering not for the first time what it was exactly their parents did. Although she had memories of Kiritsugu, she had yet to meet him in person, and Irisviel was… flaky, in her appearances.
She raised her finger, poised to dial, then paused. "Uh, how do I call long distance?"
He told him. She did.
It was a bust.
The Law of Equivalent Exchange. For every Push, there was a Pull. Equal and Opposite Reaction. As different as magic and science were, some laws were built into both, even if displayed in different ways. Action and consequence.
The action, in this case, was Kuro appearing where she had, bypassing the Outer Gates. The consequence was she left the door open. After all, she hadn't known she had to close it.
The Gatekeeper eventually did. He was too late.
"I should have probably asked this sooner," Kuro said as she sat on the passenger side of Harry's car, "but you're not some kind of pedophile, cannibal or slave trader, are you?
"No, I'm not," Harry said as he drove. "And yes, you should have."
Kuro looked out the window briefly. She'd never been out of Fuyuki before except to the mountains, and while the view was vaguely interesting, she kept most of her attention on Harry. After all, just because he said it didn't mean he meant it. Still, she had to keep track of where she was. "Where are we going, anyway?"
"You need a place to stay, and I can't take you to me place," he said. "It's barely fit for me to live in. So I'm going to ask a friend to take you in for a few days."
"Just like that? Won't they ask questions?"
"They will. And we're going to answer them, because he's going to need them to decide whether he'll let you stay in his house."
"He's not a–" Kuro began.
"No, definitely not," Harry said.
"The way you answered so quickly makes me suspicious."
"He's got a wife and kids," "Harry said, not wanting her to bring up the subject at their destination. "Goes to church every Sunday. Relax, he's a good guy. Used to fight the forces of evil as a holy knight."
She jerked at that. "You're taking me to an Executor?"
"Not sure," he said. "What are those?"
"The church's hitmen," Kuro said. "They, you know, kill vampires, heretics, people they don't like in general."
"Ah. Then, no, he's not one. Besides, he's retired. He's a carpenter now."
She blinked. "They live long enough to retire? Wow, this really IS another world."
It was a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood. There were white picket fences, well-kept lawns, huge shady trees, and someone had even left their bike on the lawn.
Kuro kept looking around for any trace of shallows graves filled with the bodies of previous little girls stupid enough to come here like she had. Her magic was poised, ready to start pulling swords out of nowhere in a heartbeat's notice.
"Relax, will you?" Harry said. "And be nice. These are good people."
"Yes! Now come on.""
Kuro instinctively kept to one side of him, ready to duck back and use him as a human shield at the first sign of trouble. Despite all the knowledge that had been dumped into her brain as an infant, she'd never really fought anyone who was experienced at fighting before. Miyu and Illya didn't really count, as she considered herself at least even with them. The times she'd fought someone more experienced– Rin, Luvia, her mom– she'd gone down. Really, there's no way that stupid Illya-baited trap should have worked! And DAMN it was cold! Where's this global warming everyone kept talking about? Unless this was a world here they didn't HAVE global warming…
The door was opened by a tall girl with a nice rack, traces of piercings on her face, several piercings on her ears, and a tight sweater that showed how nice a rack it was. She smiled as she saw them. "Harry! What brings you here?"
"Hey Molly," Harry said. "I need to talk to your dad."
She raised her eyebrow at him. "Is this going to be bad?"
"Nah, just complicated, I think," Harry said. "Molly, this is Kuro. Can I come in?"
"Sure," Molly said, stepping back as Harry crossed the threshold. They both turned expectantly at Kuro. "Aren't you going to come in?"
Kuro frowned. There was something about the words…
She stepped through the door, pausing a moment as she tried to gauge just what exactly they were waiting for. "Was this some kind of test?"
"If you passed, does it matter?" Harry said, gesturing for her to follow him.
Kuro glowered at his back. "Yeah, definitely a wizard," she said, stalking after him, her coat trailing on the floor.
In a dark, dark corner of Chicago, something chaotic, unspeakable, abominable, eldritch, Meyeresque, blasphemous, ominous and possibly communist stirred. The area around momentarily sparkled in rainbow colors before the tall, lanky thing moved on, clad in what to a layman would look like a ragged ash-colored sackcloth cloak, following the scent of its prey, the strips of fabric of its cloak moving unnaturally…
- To be continued...
A/N: FINALLY, THE ANIME IS OUT! BRING ON SEASON 2WEI! KURO-SAMAAAAAAAAAA!-!-!-!-!-!-!-!
Please review, C&C welcome.
Until next time, this is Shadow, signing off.