Author's Note: Real life is . . . well, I bitch enough that no more need be said. At any rate, work and life stress is significant, and I wrote this pretty much as an extremely cracky bit of self-amusement. No, I haven't abandoned my primary fandom, nor do I intend to neglect the stories I already have going; they're being worked on. But I've always loved the Dresden Files, and when this ambushed me I knew I had to do something with it.
This is a loving bit of fun at the expense of fanfiction—which, let's be honest, can get pretty insane sometimes. I'm not trying to actively mock any particular writers or pairings, so please accept this as a silly little exercise and not an attack.
Rating: T for language and implications
Setting: Fluid. If you really must, you could say it's post-Blood Rites, pre-Dead Beat.
Disclaimer: Kincaid, Ivy, Harry Dresden, and all associated characters and concepts are property of Jim Butcher, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.
by Totenkinder Madchen
Jared Kincaid, the man known as the Hound of Hell, occupied a unique position in life. Oh, he was an accomplished assassin, notorious gun for hire, and possessor of a kill count usually found in the annals of small South American dictatorships; that was business as usual for him. He was also the driver, cook, bodyguard, nursemaid, and surrogate teddybear of a ten-year-old girl who could annihilate him with a flick of her finger and knew the real extent of everything he had ever done.
Kincaid liked his job.
Currently, he was making dinner. They'd flown into San Francisco the night before, and now they were occupying the Archive's deluxe apartment in the upscale Market district. Ivy maintained residences all over the world; if she had to travel, as she did more and more these days, at least she'd be comfortable and secure. Kincaid had personally vetted every single location and handpicked the security personnel himself. Not that that meant he was going to relax an iota while they were in the city, but things were secure enough for him to leave the room long enough to cook a quick meal.
That night, they were having hamburgers. Years ago, when his charge had been just the Archive, he had stretched his talents to include gourmet cookery from a variety of schools. But ever since Dresden had given her a name, Ivy had been experimenting more and more with the notion of acting her physical age, and had subsequently requested that Kincaid provide her with "the standard fare of a child in my position."
For his part, Kincaid wasn't honestly sorry about the change in the menu. He could make a burger a lot faster than a dish of coriander-encrusted bobwhite quail with black sesame, watercress and pomegranate, with artisan gelato for dessert. Of course, they couldn't eat normally all the time—Ivy was firm on children needing healthy and varied diets—but it was still more convenient for everyone all 'round. And Kincaid liked things that didn't get complicated or annoying.
"Ivy?" he called out as he flipped one of the sizzling patties. "Cheese?"
"Yes, please," Ivy responded from the next room. Her voice was always cool and calm and a little off, a little girl's tones stripped of the temperament that made little girls such human things, but this time she sounded distinctly un-Archivish. If Kincaid didn't know better, he would say she was trying not to laugh.
"American?" he said. If the Archive wanted to be amused about something, that was her business. Laughing at something tended not to constitute a security threat.
"There is no such thing as American cheese," Ivy responded, a shade calmer and more herself now. "It's just lactose product and plastics. But if you mean would I like lactose product and plastics on my hamburger, yes, I would."
"You're the boss." Kincaid topped each burger with a violently orange slice of cheese before sliding them out of the pan and depositing them on a paper-towel-covered draining rack. Ideally a burger should be grilled outside, but Kincaid knew well how dangerous it was to hang around too long in the open air, so Ivy had had to be content with her dinner cooked on an indoor griddle instead. As soon as most of the grease had soaked into the paper towels, Kincaid topped his own with ketchup, mustard, pickle and mayo, and neatly embunned and plated the burgers.
He emerged into the living room to find Ivy seated crosslegged, her eyes staring blankly into nothing. She was perched on the plush hot-pink loveseat—her opening salvo in the war to simulate normalcy, since according to her sources little girls loved pink. She often sat there when she was accessing her mental databases, being the Archive that her mortal body was named for.
She didn't normally smile when Archiving, though.
"Dinnertime," he said, setting down the plate of burgers. "You said you wanted the full normal thing, so I got Coke and Sprite too. Don't worry about your bedtime; Sprite's decaf."
"Thank you, Kincaid," Ivy said. She blinked, her eyes focusing again as she dropped out of the web of the Archive. "Did you know you are in love with Harry Dresden?"
Working as an assassin and bodyguard for the repository of all human knowledge had given Jared Kincaid a lot of perspective on weirdness, so he did not in fact drop anything or react in a humorous fashion. Instead, one eyebrow slowly crawled up the side of his brow in a skeptical expression. "News to me, Ivy."
"But not to me." Ivy hopped off the loveseat and took a burger from the plate, still smiling a little. "I have been exploring all assembled data about the reaches of the Nevernever, and I have come to some unusual conclusions. Apparently you are also in love with John Marcone and Karrin Murphy."
Kincaid retrieved a burger for himself, waiting until Ivy had taken a bite of hers before beginning on his own. "I'm waiting for the punchline," he said through a mouthful of food.
"Manners, Kincaid." Ivy daintily wiped her mouth with a paper napkin. "There is no punchline. Although Dresden himself is in love with Karrin Murphy, John Marcone, you, me, his half-brother the White Court vampire, somebody named Ravyn Kaos, somebody named Kaylie Marcone . . . the list is extensive. And that air spirit of his, the one with the inappropriate mind."
"So Dresden's the village bicycle. Is this going to cause security problems?" Kincaid said dryly, taking another bite of his own burger. He very much doubted that any of the weird stuff coming out of Ivy's mouth was actually true, but one of the hazards of working with the Archive was that the sum-total of human knowledge sometimes came out in a way that nobody but she herself could understand.
Ivy smiled again. Twice in one day; this must really be funny, whatever it was. Although considering their lives, what Ivy might find amusing probably wouldn't tickle his own personal funny bone.
"No, it will not," she said, dabbing at her fingers with the napkin. "Kincaid, I require mustard."
"Little girls get their own mustard," he said. "It's on the counter."
Ivy nodded to him and got up, heading into the kitchen. She returned with two cans of Sprite and the mustard, slathering it liberally on her burger before speaking again. "As I stated before, I have been examining the reaches of the Nevernever. It has never been adequately mapped in its entirety, particularly since it is not subject to our common laws of physics and contains far more space and matter than Earth itself. Thanks to the Ways the White Council has established within the Nevernever itself, I am capable of peering into it whenever I please. And I have found an unusual area which is quite amusing."
"An unusual area . . . which tells you Dresden's a slut," Kincaid guessed.
"Language, Kincaid. You do not want me to learn inappropriate words by example."
"We live in a world where the White Court exists. You've heard that word before." Ivy gave him a glare; there was no real anger in it, but she did it anyway, for the form of the thing. "So somewhere in the Nevernever—what? There's another version of Dresden skanking it up?"
"Not quite." Kincaid waiting patiently while Ivy took another bite and wiped her mouth again. "The Nevernever is always inhabited, and by beings of some quite unusual behaviors. When the Ways are open, I can perceive all that is written in those realms as well."
"And someone is writing that Dresden is a-" Another glare. "-person of flexible morals?"
"Correct." Ivy popped open her can of Sprite. "Among the creatures of the Nevernever, in their version of our world, there is quite the community of vicarious watchers who treat our lives as entertainment. They have no direct involvement; many of them are beings of low power and intelligence. However, they are quite enthralled by mortal misadventures . . . especially those of Harry Dresden and his adorable kitty and doggy. Many of them especially wish that he was having a great deal more conjugal activity."
"Them and him both," Kincaid observed. Jared Kincaid, man of the world, did not have an exceptional amount of trouble locating willing partners when he was up for a bit of the ol' conjugal activity. Harry Dresden was notoriously not in the same situation. "So . . . ?"
"So they write stories about what they wish would happen." Ivy sipped her soda daintily, something Kincaid would not normally have believed possible. But then, the Archive could always do whatever she wanted. "Many of them do not understand the basics of human sexual activity, I believe. Others are not cognizant of the moral codes which bind most human societies. For example, there are several stories concerning the relationship between you and I."
"We don't have a relationship," Kincaid pointed out. "You pay me. I shoot people who look at you funny. I thought this was self-evident."
"Oh, no, we're passionately in love," Ivy said with a definite air of amusement. "Despite the fact that conventional intercourse at my current age would result in possible injury and peritonitis, the stories have been quite clear on that point."
Kincaid didn't wince, but it wasn't for lack of trying. Him and Ivy? He cared about her, though he'd pull his own teeth before admitting it; she was a kid with a hell of a burden on her shoulders, and paid or not, it was weirdly reassuring sometimes to indulge her passion for things like bedtimes and pink. Granted, he couldn't really say he had a moral code (Drakul had praised him for, among other things, his flexibility on that count) but he had rules of a sort, and getting involved with an underage client was number two.
(Number one: don't fight for a Cause. Causes didn't pay.)
"So tell me more about Dresden," he said, walling off that line of thought. "Why do they like him so much? He's a scruffy magician in a basement."
"I'm sure you already know why," the little girl with the knowledge of all humanity replied, wiping a little bit of spilled Sprite off her chin. "He conforms to the image of the self-denying hero. He has a fuzzy kitty. And he makes things explode a lot."
"I make things explode a lot," Kincaid pointed out. "Why don't they love me?"
"Oh, some of them do. Particularly if you happen to be pinning Mister Dresden down with your strong, manly hands, hot mouth demanding to conquer with a passion that could not be denied." Kincaid actively choked on his burger, and Ivy—good grief, yes, Ivy actually grinned. That was almost weirder than the words coming out of her mouth "But you make things explode from five hundred yards with a high-powered rifle," she continued, apparently unfazed by her bodyguard wheezing for air, "and that is not as heroic or amusing as running into a fight with a long black coat and a Foo doggy. Besides, he has many more people than you he does not like, and apparently hating someone is a conduit for love and anatomically-impossible sexual intercourse."
Kincaid finally got his breathing under control, with some difficulty. "Archive, are you making this stuff up?"
"I am not. It is within my capacity to archive this information as well." Her voice was steady and solemn—too solemn. Gods damn it, she was having fun. This was eerie as hell. "I especially enjoy the stories about Mister Dresden and Baron Marcone. I was previously familiar with the concept of the 'hate fuck,' but having it illustrated in detail regarding persons of our acquaintance was peculiarly enlightening. Is it truly possible to use ectoplasm as a lubricant?"
Kincaid's face flamed. He was the Hound of Hell, protector of the Archive, onetime right-hand man of Vlad the Impaler, demonspawn, professional assassin of centuries' experience and undeniable murderer of tens of thousands. He could honestly say, however, that he had never in his long, long life contemplated a Nevernever-facilitated scene of wizard buggery.
"I don't know," he said, putting his burger down. His appetite had suddenly gone AWOL for some reason. "Ectoplasm isn't my area of expertise, Ivy. Why don't you ask Dresden if you're so curious?"
"He wouldn't be happy with me if I did," Ivy replied, maddeningly reasonable. "And I wouldn't get to play with his pets any more."
"Please tell me you just mean throwing that dog a ball, or something."
"Of course." Her eyes unfocused slightly. "Although there was a particularly badly-spelled piece produced recently, regarding the doggy and-"
"For fuck's sake, Ivy!"
"Language be damned. Ivy, you're reading porn. Completely unfounded and disturbing porn, at that." The mercenary shook his head. "Don't you think you're a little young for that kind of thing?"
Her eyes refocused, and she frowned a little. "Ah. Of course, Kincaid. You're entirely correct; this is not fit material for a human child of my age. I shall desist at once."
"Thank you." Kincaid picked up his burger and was about to take a bite when he spotted the oozing white mayonnaise dripping down the side of the patty, gleaming and slimy like . . . His appetite promptly checked out again. Hell.
"Bedtime, Ivy," he said, dropping the burger into the trash.
The Archive frowned again. "But it isn't time yet, Kincaid."
"You were reading porn. Consider this an age-appropriate punishment." He swept dumped the rest of the uneaten food into the garbage as well and pointed to the bedroom door. "Go. If you're not asleep in ten minutes, you don't get any dessert tomorrow. And no more Archiving in that part of the Nevernever until I say so, got it?"
"Yes, Kincaid," Ivy said, sliding down from the chair. "May I still have a bedtime story? I would particularly like to hear the latest chapter of De Consolatione Philosophiae read aloud."
"No. No bedtime story tonight. This is a punishment, remember?"
"Very well. Good night, Kincaid."
Jared Kincaid, the man known as the Hound of Hell, sat for several minutes staring blankly into space. Then, with a sigh, he booted up his personal laptop and drew a circle around it and him to keep out the Archive's intense magical influence. After a moment's contemplation, he Googled "how to talk to your child about sex."
Meanwhile, the repository of all human knowledge—the Archive, also known as Ivy, a girl with at least the power of a Faerie Queen and the all the wickedness that mortal flesh is prey to—nestled down in her Hello Kitty pajamas and closed her eyes, smiling a little as she accessed her vast web of information. All of the extant data confirmed that it was normal for a young girl to disobey her guardians' orders, particularly at this stage of her psychological and biological development. Kincaid would just have to live with that.
Besides, her story about Mister Dresden and Baron Marcone wasn't quite finished.