Hey, I read the Dresden files, and I'm now amazingly frustrated every time I ever say harry and get "potter" as a response. But anyway, since I don't sleep, I wrote this! Tell me how it should go. Contact me somehow, no follow-through necessary here. I'm just fishing for ideas. Anyway, I want this to take place after changes, but before ghost stories. The idea is that trouble brings out all kinds of people, and I wanted to explore the idea. Hey, maybe it'll be a flop, maybe it'll be a good idea, but I just like writing. Anyway, here's the story.

I like to think I'm an optimist. Distractible I may be, and I'm not the smartest man you'll ever know, and I'm not a tough guy or anything like one, and I tend to ramble a bit as you can see, but one thing that can be said for me, I've always been able to see the silver lining, and things never really seem as hopeless to me as they seem to for everyone else.

That said, things suck right now, I know that. The world gets darker every day, the dawn seems to take longer and longer to rise each morning, and nobody seems to care. Cops are being paid to look the other way by things, things that are not even human, (not all the way at least, I'm sure of it.) The things that go bump in the night have stopped being so subtle, and now go "bang bump clang growl snarl", before simply roaring down the streets. Things so many have simply dismissed as non-existent now openly hunt people in Chicago, and it's terrifying. If I wasn't already an insomniac, I wouldn't sleep anyway because of the nightmares I'd have. And worst of all, the one man in the city who knew how to handle all of it, the one man in the city who protected everyone and somehow looked amazingly cool doing it, is missing. I can't say missing in action, because in all likelihood, he's not missing any action, regardless of whether he's living or dead.

I'm very aware that I know people who should be arrested, or at least given a good old fashioned lecture, but those are the people who are doing the most good, giving me a conflict of ethics, not to mention an aching headache. But these friends of mine (for that's what they are, friends) bring up one point I can no longer deny: It's time to pick a side against the encroaching darkness, and bring a little hope back into this city. I've seen some of my enemy, and all I really know for sure is that something must be done to combat it, and that I can't do much by myself. I need a team, a squad, a home base, someone to watch my back, and I can admit it, someone to give me orders. I'm not exactly good at taking initiative; that's why it's taken so long for me to act in the first place. But I make a damn good second in command, and I'm more useful than I look.

My choices are not simple though. On one hand, I could appeal to a kingpin of crime who protects the city out of what is probably predator instinct more than anything else. After all, when you've worked so hard to get all of Chicago under your thumb, it's unlikely you'll give it up so easily. I guess, anyway; I've never actually conquered a city. Gentleman Marcone has, however. A professional criminal and good at it from what I hear, anyone on skid row knows who he is, where to find him, and why it's always a good idea not to. I have enough connections in the gutter there to find him fairly quickly. Nobody seems to notice the poor, the homeless, the broken hearted, the broken-down, but if they've been on the streets for more than a week on this town, they obviously know something about how to avoid trouble, supernatural or otherwise. Besides, you'd be surprised how loyal they can be. I know people who I can rely on who have nothing to their name than letters that form it, and they know they can trust me as well.

But that's not the point. The point is, finding him is easy. There's more to the problem than that. See, I would have to show him that hiring me or whatever would be profitable, and that would mean effectively selling my soul to him. While I could do good there, how long would it be before he orders me to do something that goes against my morals? How long until he decides to use my… talents to inspire fear instead of hope? To hurt the city instead of heal it? And would I notice that I'm abandoning my ideals as I rationalize it to death? The bad I would be used for would outweigh the good I could do, and don't think I'm intelligent enough to make the cut anyway. In fact, by considering the option, I'm fairly certain that I'm not.

That's why I found myself walking down the streets of Chicago in the rain towards an old neighborhood on the bad side of town. The rain was soothing, I've always enjoyed a good downpour, and I've got an abnormally strong immune system, in addition to a few other abnormal traits, so I didn't have to worry about getting sick. All in all, I was enjoying the walk. I was headed to where sally, the weathered old prostitute who hangs out near an old bookstore downtown, had said I could find someone who helped people. That bookstore had always set me a little on edge; things that weren't normal were abundant in that area. Wolves don't live in big towns like Chicago, and yet at all hours of the night, snarls and growls permeate the night in that area. And that little book store thrives quietly regardless, or maybe even because of, the things that howl in the night. I wonder what I'd have to do to get a wolf bodyguard. In these days, Seems like it'd be handy to know one. Still, poor sally keeps to her beat, and she says she likes it near there. I hoped she had enough sense to get out of this rain, but sadly, she's not too reasonable when it comes to the chance of an opportunity. Besides, she always said, "the cold nights are the nights people want company." And maybe there's something to that.

As I walked I scanned all around me, keeping an eye out for all movement, looking past the rain with ease. Nobody else was on this street, which was to be expected. Even in Chicago, there are places nobody sane goes at night alone. Which I suppose is exactly what I was doing. Hmm. As I began to wonder about my own personal sanity, I heard a defiant but clearly female shout, followed by a crash of broken glass. Sounded to me like either I'd found what I had come looking for, or that someone needed help. Regardless, I knew my peaceful walk was over as I yanked my hands out of my pockets and ran towards the sound.

That's it for this chapter; I'm looking forward to writing more to this. But I'm lazy and distractible, so if you want more, you'll have to hound me. I'll get around to it eventually, but reminding me'd get it done much faster.