A/N: I own nothing except my insane plots.
Hmm: You seem to be greatly misjudging Harry's character. I specifically mentioned the encounter with Mab, and Harry isn't the sort to screw a woman he doesn't love, let alone conceive a child that would grow up in the Winter Court. Also, the UST between him and Murphy's been building since at least book 6.
For the second time in almost as many minutes I picked up the phone, this time to call Molly. The phone rang, then the grasshopper picked it up.
"Hello, this is evocation pizzas, service with a smile and a bang." I replied. Banter is an important part of being a wizard.
"Hi sensei." She said dryly. "Where are you?"
That was the question I'd been dreading. Molly was a very attractive young woman, and had been interested in me for some time, but among other things, her father is one of my oldest friends and I've known her since before such things as bra's, boys and makeup had really crossed her mind. Plus her mom is very Scary. She deserves the capital 'S', especially since she once hamstrung an elder fetch of the Winter Court. The thought of what she would do to me if she thought I had broken her little girl's heart brought me out in a cold sweat.
"Um, Murphy's place. Luccio's coming down from Edinburgh, she wants to see the core of the blue box mystery."
I could almost hear her brow furrowing. "The captain? Here? Why?"
"It's someone called the Doctor. To give you an idea about how Badass he is, he scares Mab. Sure, he wears a ridiculous amount of tweed, but that makes like some sort of super Giles. He isn't human and if you know what he's capable of, he's very scary." I said.
There was a long silence, then Molly said, "Why does all the crazy shit happen here? It's like the Sunnydale of the north!"
"Yeah, right down to the ridiculous number of vampires," I muttered, secretly rather glad that she seemed to have ignored the revelation of where I was.
"And it's good you're getting some again. You were getting way too wound up." Molly said in a half cheerful half upset voice. The cheerful part because she was genuinely happy for me and the upset part because she wished it was her.
"We both know why you won't, and frankly I don't want to bring it up again." Molly said flatly. "I'll be over in 20 minutes."
I sighed and nodded, said, "See you then," and put down the phone.
I turned and walked into Murphy's kitchen and was greeted by the sight of the Doctor cheerfully dipping fish fingers into what appeared to be a bowl of custard.
"Fish fingers in custard! Earth's greatest dish by far!"
I just stared at him. Murphy looked despairingly up at me and said, "Only you, Harry, only you could have a life this… this weird."
I didn't reply, just stared at the Doctor, then shrugged and sat down. One thing had been bugging me ever since Bob had given me the low down on the Doctor, and I intended to ask the question I'd been dying too.
"So Doctor, why are you here? Bob says you generally turn up in a crisis," I asked, and his grim expression sent a cold shiver down my spine.
"Yes. I've been following a series of ritual sacrifices of young children and teenagers, none older than 18. It started in Britain, then moved to Canada and down to the USA. The pattern showed that here would be next. If it follows the pattern, it should be tomorrow evening, and the child will be kidnapped that same day. My advice would be to keep a very close eye on any children you have," The Doctor said, looking at me with a worrying intensity. He knew. I was certain of it.
"Murphy, could you call Michael, and pass on my recommendation that he keep all of his children inside tomorrow and tonight. Also, could you call Tilly and ask him if there's a possibly supernatural or ritual dimension to the killings the Doctor just mentioned?" I asked quietly.
She scowled, but it was a fairly token scowl, not one that had she been a practitioner would have incinerated me on the spot. She's really good at those scowls. Personally, I think they're kind of sweet, but since I wish to retain my balls, I don't mention it. Then she nodded and went to make the calls. I may or may not have admired her ass on the way out.
I had just picked up a coke and taken a deep swig when Jack said casually, "So, after this is all over… orgy?" I performed a perfect spit take, the Doctor went scarlet, Amy's eyes widened, Thomas grinned at everyone else and Rory shrugged. Nothing, it seemed, fazed Rory Williams. Except threats to his family and being called 'Pond'.
"I wouldn't object, unless Harry was involved, because… well, ick," Thomas said. Everyone stared at him. "What? I'm a White Court Vampire, not a totally immoral debauched hedonist!"
Everyone continued starting at him, and I said, "There's a difference?"
"Fine. I'm a totally debauched hedonist with some morals," Thomas said.
"I thought you didn't like men," I said. "Not that it's wrong, I'm just a little puzzled."
Thomas shrugged. "I'm flexible."
Jack leered. "I bet you are."
I felt like I was about to be sick, as did Rory by the looks of things. Amy looked deeply interested, and I couldn't really blame her. If it had been, say, Molly (what? I'm in love, not dead) and Lara flirting, I would be looking.
Murphy poked her head back round the door and said, "Harry, Tilly thinks he's found something, but he's emailing the photo's to me. He also says, and I quote 'if you find the bastards responsible and kill them, I'll help you hide the bodies'."
I raised an eyebrow. "Tell him if I need help with body disposal, he'll be the first person I call."
Murphy nodded and relayed the message. Then she said, "Cool. Thanks Tilly," then went to her computer.
A few minutes later, she poked her head in, looking grim. "Tilly just emailed me the photos. And I now completely get why he would condone murder," she said, walking in and handing them over. I grimaced. I had seen many murder scenes, most of them horrible, but very rarely had they involved children. Or at least, not like this.
The poor kid had had arcane looking sigils that I vaguely recognised as being signs that drained life force (the very thought of magic being perverted in such a manner made me sick. Magic is life and this was just… wrong) and some strange circular symbols that I couldn't recognise for the life of me carved into their flesh and then had their throat cut.
Some of the same symbols were painted in the victim's blood on the walls of wherever they were murdered. The CSI reports attached also mentioned scratches on the floor like some sort of tripod. I ground my teeth. Whoever had done this would pay. If it was a Warlock, I'd even consider swinging the sword myself. No one hurts the innocent on my watch. No one. I then realised that I had said those last two sentences aloud. And loudly.
"Looks like some sort of energy draining ritual, with some stuff I don't recognise," I said curtly. The Doctor snatched the pictures out of my hands, and his face… well, let's just say that I know dangerous and the Doctor was currently hovering about Mab level. Then he cast the pictures aside like they were poisoned, and looked not just angry, but… frightened. And despairing.
"The other stuff is Old High Gallifreyan. The lost language of the Time Lords. It says, 'Come and get me Doctor," he said in a cold, dead voice. Jack now looked terrified.
"It's the Master isn't it, D-" he said before the Doctor cut him off.
"No Jack, it's not him." As Jack breathed a sigh of relief, he added, "it's worse."
"… Worse?" Jack said.
"The Master was willing to work with me to stop him, he was so scared of him," the Doctor said.
"Oh God," Jack breathed.
"Who are you talking about?" Amy asked.
"The Master's an insane Time Lord. He took over the Earth completely, killed hundreds of millions of people with mad humans from the end of time itself as minions, enabled by turning the TARDIS into a paradox machine. In one day. He was as brilliant as the Doctor, and as cruel as the Doctor is kind, his opposite. He also spent a year practicing his torture techniques on me. The Doctor channelled the psychic power of the entire planet to stop him, thanks to this brilliant woman called Martha Jones, who walked the earth during the Year That Never Was, telling people stories about the Doctor. Last I heard he was dead, his wife shot him," Jack answered, not missing the Doctor's lips twist in a bitter smile.
He turned to the Doctor, and said, "Doctor, what Time Lord could be worse?"
"Me. My worst possible future self," the Doctor said flatly. "The Time Lords took what was essentially all my darkness when I was in my sixth body and formed it into a person. In exchange for his help in condemning me in a court of law, they would give him my body. I beat him and made it so he never existed but… he's me. He'll always find a way to come back." He looked up at a horrified Amy (Rory was doing his best stoic expression, though I could see the horror in his eyes. Honestly, the guy could have done Oz on Buffy to perfection if he'd been born a few years earlier) and said, "You two have met him, or something similar. The Dream Lord. The Valeyard is infinitely more dangerous."
"But… you can never stand to see a child in pain. I've seen you, you'll go out of your way and do the impossible, risk your own life just because you couldn't bear to see a child cry. You took Demons Run, the most secure military base in the Universe because me and… Melody were in danger, without spilling a drop of blood!" Amy said, sounding lost. I winced inwardly. I recognized that look on her face. It was exactly the one I'd worn when I'd realised that Ebenezar was the Blackstaff.
"Ah Amy. I never told you about the Time War, did I?" the Doctor said sadly. "I fought in the Last Great Time War, against the Dalek Empire, a war so terrible the Time Lords resurrected the Master to fight. I commanded the Time Lord armies at Arcadia and the First Battle of Gallifrey. I spilt the blood of millions, not just Daleks. And in the end, the Time Lord's grew desperate. They resurrected Rassilon, one of the founders of our society. And he came up with a plan to save the Time Lords. They purposefully drove the Master insane."
Jack in particular looked horrified. The Doctor carried on.
"They sent the drums, four beats constantly repeating, back through time and implanted them in the head of an eight year old child. Everything he has done since then can be laid at their feet. Then they tried to use the signal to pull Gallifrey out of the Time War, at the cost of all of reality. I stopped them cold. I used a variation on ancient weapon called the De mat gun. I called it the Moment. One moment of fire and blood in which Gallifrey, the Time Lords, and almost all the Daleks were obliterated from Time. I heard my people, my family scream down below, and I turned away. I became Ka Faraq Gatri, the Destroyer of Worlds, and I turned away in shame. I'm a mad old man in a blue box, Amelia Pond. A mad old man who destroys lives, worlds, civilisations and hurts those he loves worst of all. I'm not a hero, I'm a monster who committed genocide against his own people. My parents, my brothers and sisters, my children and my grandchildren. All dead. Because of me. And that is only the beginning," he finished heavily.
I staggered back in shock, much like everyone else, then rallied. No matter what the Doctor had done in his past, what I had seen in the Sight had not been a monster. "Doctor. The day you stop feeling that pain is the day you stop being a hero. Not before."
He looked at me and smiling sadly, said, "Oh, Harry Dresden. The bravest of brave men, the scourge of the Underworld, protector of Chicago, the wise man who plays the fool. The man who never turns down a call for help. You're a great man. But you don't understand."
"Bullshit!" I snapped. "Don't give me the mere mortals speech! I looked at you through the Sight, and you know what I saw? A hero. A hero who hurts, with two broken hearts, who bleeds from countless wounds and still keeps fighting. Nothing hides from the Sight, Doctor, nothing. For all your power and brilliance, you're as human as the rest of us. Figuratively speaking," I said as he was about to protest.
"Which means that sometimes you're a complete idiot! Even if the rest of the Universe sees you as the worst evil there is, you're a hero to us! Think about everyone you've saved, every life you've made better, everyone whose asked for help and received it. Then tell me you're a monster."
The Doctor looked at me for a long moment, then at Murphy and asked, "Permission to hug?"
"Granted," she said, smiling slightly, and the Doctor hugged me tightly. I blinked, then hugged him back.
"Stop," I said and sniffed, "bugs are flying into my eyes."
Murphy snorted and muttered, "idiot."
"But one with long, strong fingers," I replied, waggling said fingers, and she blushed, punching my shoulder while Jack and Thomas grinned and Amy giggled. Honestly, from the way they acted, you'd think it was those two who were brothers.
"You two keep on with the bromance hugging thing," Murphy said, "I'm going for a walk in the garden."
Mature wizard that I am, I stuck my tongue out at her. She snickered and walked out. As I let the Doctor go about thirty seconds later, and he wandered off to do God alone knows what – probably tinker with one of Murphy's appliances, he seemed to like doing that – shooting a grateful look back at me. Then I heard a scream of fury and pain from the garden, and I think I broke the landspeed record on my way out the door, grabbing my conveniently placed staff.
The sight that confronted me was of Deirdre, in full Madame Medusa mode slashing at Murphy, who was doing an admirable job of doing the steel tendrils. And while Murphy is, as Sanya puts it, 'Tiny but fierce', the tiny part counts against her in a physical tussle with something from the spooky side of things.
While Murphy's aikido skills are terrifying at close quarters, and as any at Chichen Itza could attest, with Fidelacchius in hand, she was the next best thing to unstoppable. But right now, she was unarmed and on the run. One of the tendrils had already drawn blood from her stomach and Murphy had one hand clasped to the wound while she looked for a way to get round Deirdre and back into the house. Another tendril flicked out and caught her on the arm, leaving a deep cut. And, to put it mildly, I lost my temper.
"Oi! DADDY'S LITTLE DENARIAN! STAB THIS!" I shouted, then as Deirdre turned around, both sets of eyes looking at me, I roared, "FULMENAS!"
Now, normally I prefer fire, or failing that, force. But when it comes fire and force, I'm necessarily all that precise, and frying or squashing Murphy was a big no-no. And I am also reasonably good at wind magic. When properly motivated. And I sure as hell was motivated. A silvery-white lightning bolt as thick as a Monster Truck issued from the tip of my staff, hitting Deirdre at about Mach 2, sending her flying at least 300 feet away, screaming like something out of a video game. I half expected to hear the words, 'DAMN YOU DRESDEN!' As she went flying away. As it was, I wasn't particularly bothered and ran to Murphy.
"Murph! Are you all right?" I asked frantically.
"No," she said with difficulty. "Idiot." I noticed that she coughed up some blood at that point. The gut wound was far worse than I'd thought.
"Stay with me Murph," I muttered, tearing off my shirt and using it as an impromptu bandage. At the sounds of the short fight, Jack, Butters, Thomas and Rory came running out, closely followed by just about everyone else. The Doctor was looking grim.
"Let me through," Rory snapped. "I'm a nurse." He glanced up at me and explained as he examined the wound, "I'd have treated you earlier, but figured you'd want to wake up to a familiar face."
I nodded curtly. "I don't care why you did it, just fix her," I said.
"She's bleeding out," Jack muttered. "I'll go and get the first aid kit."
Rory was checking Murphy's pulse, then he check the wound. Finally, grim expression on his face, he said, "You'd best say your goodbyes. I've seen wounds like this before."
Murphy was dying. "Goodbye Dresden," Murphy mumbled. Then she cracked a slight smile. "You got that bitch good."
"I did, didn't I?" I said. "Stay with me Murphy, or I will die and mock you forever for dying like a sissy girl."
"I'm dying Dresden. Accept it. Everyone has their time, and I'm long overdue," Murphy said, coughing up some more blood. "I -" She tried to speak, but she couldn't.
I looked her in the eye and said, "I know. And I say this: FUCK THAT!"
Then I did the most dangerous and stupid thing I could possibly do. I called up as much soulfire as I could handle, then more and more. I'm pretty certain that by the time I was done, I was glowing. Certainly I was an impressive sight judging by how Rory, Amy, Butters and Thomas were gaping. The Doctor was just eyeing me with narrowed eyes, I noted absently.
Now, the rules of magic say that you can't really heal. Burn out illnesses, clean wounds and even heal minds if you're deft enough, but not heal outright wounds of the body. Another rule is you have to use a different language from your magic, or your risk major brain damage. Breaking both is supposed to be fatal. And impossible. I've never really been one for rules and impossible is what I do for a living.
I put my staff aside, laid my hands on her stomach and closed my eyes. "Heal," I whispered, shoving all the power I was holding into Murphy. She bucked off the ground as I poured more and more into her, glowing brighter and brighter. I could feel the Soulfire coming and coming, as if there was whole other power source, knitting flesh and bone back together seamlessly, the matrices of energy holding the natural shape of the body while more power forced the body to replicate it. Sort of like recreating a colour by numbers sheet from a picture, then filling it in. When the blinding light dimmed, Murph's stomach and arm were as clear and smooth as they had always been. I looked up at the shocked expressions of everyone watching (though the Doctor appeared to be grinning and mouthing 'brilliant! Just brilliant!').
I heard Butters whisper, "Holy shit!"
Then I said woozily, "How's that for a magic trick?" And as my world went black, I could have sworn that I heard a female voice speak. Anything I can, my host, it said.