Summary: Justin never adopted Harry, and he is taught by the Leandasidhe instead. His life falls apart, and now he's on the run from the Fae and the White Council. When the cops, the Outfit, and the Church get involved, nothing but trouble is guaranteed.
Rating for violence and language.
Bookverse. I own nothing.
A/N: This is an AU story. Suggestions and criticism are appreciated. This is just the first chapter, so a lot will be explained later.
My name is Harry Dresden, and I'm currently on the run from a very scary faery Godmother.
I fell more than leapt out of the Way, tumbling into a painfully uncoordinated roll. I tried to smooth it out, but I hurt too much, each bump sending lightning bolts of pain radiating through my body. The roll ground to a halt ten feet from the tear between worlds, but it had already closed. My limbs were sprawled out uncomfortably, and I tried to straighten myself out. The sudden lance of pain through my thigh and arm made the world go white for a moment. I ground my teeth together as the dim light of a back alley filtered back into my vision, the pain slowly receding. I tried to inhale deeply only to have a similar experience. I waited for it to pass again, taking shallow, unsatisfying breaths.
I looked down at myself, trying to ignore my pounding head and take stock of my injuries. Blood had soaked through my left pant leg beginning at my thigh. I peered at the tear in the fabric, trying to determine how deep the cut was but the blood was too thick and the light was too dim. I moved on. My left arm wasn't bleeding like my leg, but I could see a disturbing lump on my forearm surrounding by hideous blossoms of color; I had no doubt it was broken. At least one rib, maybe several, was cracked, likely broken. My aching head wouldn't let me think straight, and I could feel warm blood dribbling down my face. I figured a concussion was just the cherry on top.
My blasting rod lay on the ground beside my foot where I'd dropped it in my tumble. My blood saturated the wood, casting the carvings in a disturbing red-black outline. I grabbed it and shoved it into the side pocket of my backpack before I tried to rise again, using only one arm and leg this time, somehow managing to heave myself to my feet, clenching my jaw and trying to blink back tears. My heartbeat thudded in my ears, drowning out the sound of traffic, if there was any. I stumbled - or rather hopped - down the short alley, trying to keep the world from tilting and leaning heavily on the brick wall. My backpack thumped against my back, confirming that I hadn't lost everything tonight. I couldn't feel the sense of relief that I knew should've accompanied the thought; I was too preoccupied with being half-dead.
I reached the mouth of the alley, blinking away blood and tears. I knew I had a plan, somewhere I was supposed to be going, but I couldn't think. There had been I reason for me to come here. I had nothing left in me, though, and insane laughter bubbled up in my throat. I tried to stuff it back down with a scowl. I needed to concentrate; I had a plan. There was a reason I chose this Way, but I'd be damned if I could remember it. Blood had soaked one leg of my pants, and I had managed to lose one of my sneakers at some point. I couldn't think through the pain, and I was scared half out of my mind. It was all I could do to keep walking and breathing. And even that was a stretch.
I looked up to see a tiny figure walking toward, the motion somehow feminine.
I don't exactly know at which point I ended up on the ground, but I blinked and suddenly my cheek was planted firmly against the cool asphalt. My wounds throbbed in time to my heartbeat. Just before the red faded into black, I think I heard the sound of a woman shouting at me, but her voice was just so far away and my mouth wasn't working. Instead of answering her I let myself drift away. I hurt too much and was too tired to try anymore. The world went away, and for a moment all I heard was the rush of my blood in my ears. Then, I was gone.
It was an average night – a stakeout with Carmichael; donuts for him, granola bar for me, coffee for both of us. We were watching a perp's apartment. The perp was, unfortunately, John Marcone. He'd been steadily building power and influence in Chicago, and any charges pressed against the modern gangster slid off his hide like oil.
Carmichael and I had just been unlucky enough to catch a murder that fell not only under our jurisdiction, but Marcone's as well. We were determined to catch him this time, though, with the way the case was looking, we were far more likely to get bumped from Robbery/Homicide to Special Investigations than to close a case.
"Time is it?" Carmichael asked quietly, bringing me out of what was sure to be an overworked mental rant.
I glanced at my watch. " 'Bout three in the morning."
Carmichael grunted in response, slurping at his coffee rather than attempt meaningless chatter. I appreciated that.
We sat quietly for another 15 minutes or so, both pretending that our coffee was still hot enough to taste good, before I heard a sound.
"What was that?" Carmichael's voice was scarcely intelligible.
I said nothing, scanning the area around us instead. As unlikely as I knew it to be, I desperately wanted whatever that had been to be the final nail in Marcone's coffin. Carmichael and I barely breathed as we watched the dimly illuminated allies surrounding one of Marcone's many offices/part-time residences. Not ten seconds later a lanky figure came stumbling from around the corner, leaning heavily on the wall of the alley. It was too dark to see much from the car, but based on his staggering, he was likely drunk out of his mind.
I let out a tired sigh, and the tension eased out of my muscles.
"I got the last bum off the corner, your turn, Murph."
I shot Carmichael a look. "When was this? A month ago?"
I resisted the urge to poke my tongue out at him, and only barely succeeded; I was a professional, after all. I climbed out of the car reluctantly, flipping Carmichael the bird as I walked towards the staggering man, not bothering to look at the shit-eating grin I knew my partner was wearing. Bums and drunkards were the unfortunate but ever-present sideshow to any stake-out.
As I walked closer to the man, I realized he was the better part of six feet tall, but his shoulders were scarcely wider than my own.
The man jerked his head up sharply at the sound of my voice. My steps stuttered to a stop as I took in his appearance. Blood ran down half of his face, coating his rakish features and casting frightening shadows. Dark hair stood up wildly, giving me the impression he'd just walked through a windstorm. His eyes were glassy with pain and unfocused with a concussion. One arm was cradled against his chest, blood on the torso of his torn plaid shirt. His jeans fared no better; blood ran down starting at his left thigh and soaking the bottom of his pants, explaining the limp. The only thing that wasn't covered in blood was a black nylon backpack hanging from his good – or at least not bloody – shoulder.
"Uh..," was all he managed to get out before his eyes rolled all the way up in his head and his legs gave way beneath him, sending his towering form crashing to the ground none too softly.
"Hey!" I shouted, running towards him. "Carmichael!" I shot over my shoulder as I sprinted forward.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I could hear the sound of a car door opening and closing as I fell to my knees beside the fallen man.
"Come on, come on," I breathed as I leaned over him, searching frantically for a pulse. "I cannot have random guys dying on me - not today, not here."
"What the hell?" Carmichael breathed out from behind me.
I finally found a pulse in his neck, but it was weak and thready. "Call a bus."
I could hear Carmichael calling in an ambulance from behind me. I pulled off my jacket and bundled it up, pressing it tightly against his thigh where the blood began. His leg tried to twitch away from the sudden pressure, and he moaned pitifully, but thankfully stayed unconscious.
I looked up to see Carmichael pressing his own jacket against the head wound. I nodded grimly at him.
"What the hell?" He asked again.
I bit my lip. "I have no fucking clue."
"Yeah, they told me he may not wake up for a while. Apparently they put him in some kind of medically induced coma," I spoke quietly into the hospital payphone.
"That bad?" came Carmichael's reply.
"They said that if we hadn't found him when we had, it's incredibly likely that he wouldn't have made it."
Carmichael let out a low whistle. "You think Marcone had something to do with it?"
"I think we found a half-dead guy right outside his front steps. Coincidence is not something I believe in too strongly."
"Find any information about the him?"
"We searched his backpack. Guy had some weird shit, but we did find a wallet. Harry Dresden, age 21, currently a resident of Chicago." I rattled off the man's address to Carmichael as well.
"What do you mean when you say 'weird shit'?"
"He had this funky looking stick in the side pocket covered with symbols, and I found a skull in his backpack."
"Tonight is Halloween... or at least it was two hours ago."
I sighed and rubbed my face. "Yeah. It's not a real skull, at any rate. Or at least I don't think it is."
"Who would be carrying around a real skull anyway?"
"Hell if I know. Maybe he stole it from a museum, maybe it's a family heirloom, maybe he's stark raving mad. All I know is that this is our case now."
"And he's the vic."
"And he's the vic," I confirmed. "See what you can dig up on the guy. Docs say it may be a few days before it's feasible to bring him out of the coma. I'm on my way back to the station."
"So what do you got?" Carmichael asked as he plopped himself into the chair on the opposite side of my desk.
I slid my file over to him with the cover picture showing.
"Harry Dresden, age 21 - his birthday was the day we found him, and he's lived in Chicago since he was six. Both father and mother are deceased by natural causes; he was in the foster system from age six to eighteen."
Carmichael grunted as he flipped through the file. "I thought your records got sealed when you were 18."
I shrugged. "I called in a favor."
"This guy lived in dozens of foster homes and ran away about as much. Then he gets out of the system, rents a shitty apartment, and…"
"...enrolls in Chicago State University."
Carmichael quirked a brow. "He can afford college?"
"Nope," I replied, popping the 'p'. "Got in on a full-ride."
"Smart little fucker then. You think he's involved with the Outfit?"
I paused. "He has no record, no money, and nothing indicates he is. But we found him half-dead outside Marcone's building. I think it wouldn't hurt to look into it."
"So, he an official mobster?" Carmichael greeted me with a cup of still steaming coffee as he walked into my office.
"Not that I can tell," I took the cup gratefully. "He's got all of a hundred dollars to his name, which doesn't exactly scream "mobster" to me."
"He could be low-level."
"He doesn't have any kind of a record. Not juvenile or adult. There were no drugs on his person or in his system." I sighed heavily. "The guy has no online or electronic presence at all, Ron. He doesn't even own a credit card or a cell phone."
"You think he's hiding something?"
"I found something!" I crowed happily. Carmichael snapped his head up from his laptop.
"What is it?"
"It's shaky at best," I warned. "But it's the only lead, well, two leads, we've got so far. So I went back to all the foster homes the vic lived in when he was a kid, and it turns out that the one he lived in for a year when he was 14 was right across the street from a Vargassi drug house."
Carmichael raised a skeptical brow. I do not see your point.
"The same drug house where Marcone got his first and last arrest. The charges never stuck, but that's the house where he got picked up at. And our vic was a witness according to police reports."
Carmichael smiled just a bit. "You think it's a vengeance thing? Why would he wait nearly a decade?"
I shook my head. "Dresden's statement is what got Marcone let go."
"Huh," came the oh-so-intelligent reply. "So they knew each other when Marcone was on his way up, and Dresden was just a kid. Wonder what their relationship is nowadays?" He paused for a minute. "What was the second lead?"
I smiled. "The foster home the vic was living in at the time? Belonged to a family by the name of Hendricks."
Carmichael's eyebrows made a valiant attempt to rejoin with his receding hairline. "This wouldn't be the same Hendricks that is practically glued to Marcone at the shoulder holster, would it?"
"Got it in one."
He huffed out heavily, running a meaty palm over his face. "So there is a connection, or there was, at least. Question is, is there still?"
"Let's find out."
My first thought when I woke up was, that beeping sound is really fucking annoying.
I could smell antiseptic in the air and it was just a little bit too cold. I peeled open my eyes, and the white light blinded me for a moment before they adjusted. I realized I was in a hospital and that the beeping sound was coming from a heart monitor beside me. As soon as I noticed, my heart rate shot up and the beeping became alarmingly fast. A wave of magic went out with my panic, slamming into the monitor. It went up in a shower of sparks, smoke rising from it. The room went mercifully silent aside from my own shallow breathing.
Suddenly I noticed that nothing hurt. Not a damn thing - not my arm, not my head, not my ribs, not my legs. Nothing. Confused, I looked down at my arm only to see a plain black cast in its place. I dully recalled the nausea I'd felt when I'd seen the lump of bone under the skin and the accompanying pain.
The miracle of modern pain killers.
My head felt fuzzy, like there was a veil over my thoughts. I couldn't think straight, but I didn't care. I hadn't felt so fantastic, so pain-free, in years. I felt vaguely like doing a jig. People underestimate how much things hurt until suddenly they don't anymore.
Just then, three nurses and a few doctors run into the room, all of their faces set in panic. The nurses rushed over to the newly hexed machine while the doctors checked on me. I think they were talking, but the fuzz in my brain was just so distracting. I couldn't make any sense of most of their words. The only one I understood was, "rest." I could feel a satisfied smile ghost over my lips as another wave of pain-free euphoria washed over me. Rest seemed like an excellent idea, and I let myself drift away.
"The hospital just called me – Dresden's coming 'round." I didn't even slow my steps as I called out to Carmichael over my shoulder.
The guy had been out for nearly four days; hospital said he was lucky to still be among the living.
"He's gonna pull through?" Carmichael was panting slightly as he finally caught up to me outside my car.
"Yeah, doctor said he was 'one lucky bastard'." I whipped the car out of the lot as Carmichael buckled.
"How do you want to play this?"
I pursed my lips as I considered. "Let me talk to him alone; you wait outside. As much as it pains me to admit, I'm the opposite of threatening."
Carmichael chuckled drily. "In appearances only, Murph. You still scare the piss outta the rookies."
My lips twitched. "All the same."
I woke up again after what felt like minutes, but this time it was more gradual. I remembered to keep myself calm because I remembered I was in the hospital. There was a steady beeping from somewhere to the side of me, and I realized they must've replaced the broken heart monitor.
I could feel my body more acutely now. It was more like a thin sheet over my senses than a woolen blanket. I was still in pain, but it was more like background noise than anything. I looked down at myself to find than I was shirtless. Instead, my torso was wrapped in a swath of white bandages that looked fresh and clean; any part that wasn't wrapped was covered with mottled bruising that looked a little too yellow to be as recent as last night. My arm was covered in a black cast from my hand to my bicep; I knew it had been broken. I couldn't see my leg, but I could feel wrappings around it and the all too familiar pull of stitches. Joy.
"How long have I been out?" I murmured under my breath, reaching up to rub my face with my non-casted arm but finding yet more bandages instead of my familiar head of desparately-needs-a-comb hair.
"This is the afternoon of your fourth day here," came a random female voice.
I blinked and twisted my head to find the source, instantly regretting it. "Shit."
"You certainly look like shit," somehow the voice sounded amused under the professional exterior.
"Come say that to my face."
Finally, the voice's owner entered my field of vision. The woman was in her late twenties, maybe thirty, and barely five feet tall, if that, and built like a gymnast. Her blonde hair was slightly curled and pulled into a loose ponytail, bringing even more attention to her bright blue eyes and adorably upturned nose. I could see the muscles of her forearms as she had her button-down shirt rolled to the elbows, though, and knew that this woman was no cheerleader.
"You certainly look like shit," she repeated.
"I always look like this before I put on my makeup."
Her cupid's bow lips curled into a slight smile. "My name is Sergeant Karrin Murphy with the Chicago Police Department."
"And here I was hoping for a hot nurse and a sponge bath."
"Sorry to disappoint," the slight smile faded and her expression cooled to 'professional'.
"Well, Sergeant," I couldn't help but inflect on her title. "What can I do ya' for?"
"I was hoping to get your statement." She paused. "About what happened to you."
I carefully kept my expression blank. "You seem to be more aware of what's going on than I am. You tell me. What happened to me?"
"Your left arm was severely broken; you had to have surgery to reset it. You suffered a laceration to your left thigh that nicked the femoral artery. Three ribs were cracked; one was broken. You rounded it out with severe head trauma and dozens of smaller abrasions and bruises, mostly on your torso."
"You were put into a medically induced coma for several days to tide you through the worst of the pain."
I blinked again.
"Now that you're up to date, would you like to tell me how this happened to you?" Her voice held some kind of underlying tension for reasons unknown.
"We already ran tox screens; you had no drugs or alcohol in your system."
I paused. "Can I get a phone call?"
She blinked at me before narrowing her eyes suspiciously. "Mr. Dresden, I'm trying to catch whoever did this to you."
The corner of one lip twitched upwards. "Good luck with that one."
Her eyes sparkled. "So you do know who did it."
I tried to backpedal. "Uh, what?" Suave, thy name is Dresden.
"Do you know where I found you, Mr. Dresden?"
"I'm assuming it wasn't naked in your bed."
"You were half dead in front of Gentleman Johnny Marcone's building."
I could feel the emotions drain from my face. "Is that so?"
She stepped closer, and I could see the excitement of finding a lead on Chicago's most famous mobster making her body practically hum. "And I-"
The sound of a clearing throat interrupted the Sergeant and caused both of us – well, I tried, at least – to whip our heads around to the doorway.
I hissed slightly as the motion pulled at my sore muscles and shifted my still aching head, but had to fight to suppress a smile when I saw who stood in the entryway.
"Hey there, Cujo," I greeted the man cheerfully.
He was built like the NFL star her almost was, only with twice as much muscle. His red hair was cropped close to his skull, and faint scars marked his skin. The tailored suit looked woefully out of place, but I knew it hid his guns – and knives – quite well.
"Merlin," He greeted me in a tone anyone else may have mistaken for gruff, but I could hear the underlying relief.
Nathan Hendricks was one of my oldest friends; he was more like family than almost anyone I knew. I couldn't remember for the life of me when we'd stopped addressing each other by anything other than 'Cujo' or 'Merlin', and I didn't even think about it until I saw the look on the Sergeant's face.
"Mr. Hendricks. So rare to see you away from Mr. Marcone's side." Though she was speaking to Hendricks, the Sergeant's gaze slid over to me.
He looked down at her – not much of a feat – and didn't say a word. He doesn't talk much to strangers. I asked him about it once; he told me that most people weren't worth talking to. And that he didn't need to talk to people to intimidate them. Cujo the Philosopher, everybody.
"I assure you, Mr. Hendricks is, as usual, by my side." And cue perfectly timed entry.
John Marcone looked like the favorite coach to Hendricks's star player. Black hair just beginning to grey, skin still tanned from summer, and easy smile with laugh lines. His tailored suit looked anything but out of place as he sauntered up beside Hendricks. Money green eyes flickered over to me for the briefest of moments, relief and anger warring for dominance.
The Sergeant tensed right back up and didn't even bother to hide the suspicious glare she threw my way. "Marcone."
"Sergeant Murphy," he replied easily, walking past Hendricks and her to stand beside me.
"You're interfering with my investigation," she was barely able to contain her disgust as she looked at Marcone.
"How so?" His voice lost its easygoing veneer, shifting to something sharper. "I'm merely paying a visit to an old injured friend."
"Whose statement I've yet to receive." She was practically seething.
Marcone turned his gaze towards me, unafraid of meeting my eyes. "Harry..," he prompted gently, but his eyes were guarded. Tell her the bare minimum. Get rid of her so we can talk.
"I was just getting to it, I promise," I defended myself, sounding suspiciously like a petulant toddler.
I turned to the Sergeant. "I don't remember a damn thing." My voice was steady as the lie flowed from my mouth. "Head trauma and such."
She narrowed her eyes at me, but scribbled something down in a pad of paper I hadn't noticed her pull out.
Strike three, and you're out.
"Fine," she said, shoving the pad in her pocket and stomping to my bedside. "Here's my card if you want to talk or if you remember anything." I could practically hear her teeth grinding together. "Thank you for your time Mr. Dresden."
Sergeant Karrin Murphy
Robbery/Homicide, Chicago Police Department
Nobody said anything for the first few minutes after the Lieutenant's departure, and I relaxed enough to let a faint feeling of euphoria from the painkillers wash over me.
"Harry," Marcone said. "I really would like to hear your answers to the nice officer's questions."
If Hendricks was like family, then Marcone was the patriarch of said family. His presence radiated control, and people tended to follow him without question.
"You know she thinks you did it," I deadpanned.
I could hear Hendricks's teeth click together; he took insults to Marcone as insults to himself.
"And why would she think that?"
"I was found, uh.. I was found outside your building."
"Were you, now?" Marcone's voice was steely. "And why would this be?"
"I may or may not have been looking for a safe room."
For a moment, nobody spoke.
"Why, pray tell, were you in need of a safe room in my building when your apartment – which is across town – is the most heavily warded and guarded place in the city?"
Tension swirled just beneath the surface of Marcone's cool words, and I had to bite my tongue to keep myself from hurling angry words at him.
For most people that would end with hurt feelings or maybe a black eye. For me that would end with a burning building. Or three.
"Because it was closer."
"Closer to what?"
"Where I was coming from."
"And where was that?" Marcone couldn't keep the frustration out of his tone. "Dammit, Harry. I'm trying to help you."
Now I did snap. "I don't need your damn help."
"Merlin," Hendricks pushed softly at one shoulder, and the anger drained away as quickly as it had flared up. I swallowed and nodded at him; he nodded in return, but left the hand.
"Fine. Fine," I breathed, rolling my eyes skywards. "I need your damn help."
I could hear Marcone drawing in a breath to speak, but I cut him off.
"But I can't have it. Not this time."
"Merlin, what did you get yourself into?" This time it was Hendricks who spoke. Anybody who didn't know him – really know him – would have thought him incapable of speaking so gently.
"A whole heaping pile of shit." I breathed softly. "I honestly don't know why I'm not dead yet."
"You think somebody would try to attack you while you were incapacitated?" Marcone asked.
"They did; we took care of it."
I whipped my head around, ignoring its complaints, and stared open-mouthed at them. "Are you insane?"
"It was only two trolls," Marcone said defensively, almost.
"Hell's Bells," I breathed, stuck somewhere between relief and terror.
Two trolls. That was it. Why hadn't Lea tried to kill me in my sleep – really kill me – yet? She could very easily walk in her of her own volition and murder me in a number of creative and painful ways. And she would be perfectly justified in doing so. I'd dumped a bag of fucking powdered iron and iron shavings down her dress. With magic glue. It took six hours to come off - I'd checked. Lea not trying to kill me was a million times more frightening than her trying to do so. It could mean only Bad Things, even if I didn't know what those Things were.
"Harry, please." I opened my eyes and saw Marcone was practically pleading with me, and Hendricks wasn't far behind. "They sent Wild Fae. Who was it? Summer, Winter, mortal, or something else entirely?"
Suddenly I was regretting introducing my two oldest an dearest friends to the world of magic, if only so that I could avoid an interrogation and they could avoid being collateral damage.
"John, Cujo," I said seriously. "I'm asking you not to look into this, to let me handle it. As a friend. You've known me since I was a kid, both of you. Don't make me beg."
"You're still a kid," Hendricks answered, his heavy brow furrowed with concern.
I barked out a bitter laugh. "That's not exactly true. But it wouldn't change anything even if I were. Let it go."
Marcone opened his mouth to protest again, but was cut off by a phone ringing in his pocket. He stared at me for a moment, looking pointedly from Hendricks to me, before leaving us alone.
"How are these machines still running?" Hendricks asked curiously.
I blinked at the change of topic, grateful. "I'm exhausted, half-delusional with pain killers, and actively trying not to break them."
"What about when you're asleep?"
I twisted my mouth and thought about it for a moment. "I'm not sure. My magic works with my mind, so it could be 'asleep' when I am."
Hendricks nodded. "You sound like you swallowed a bag of razors."
"You make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside." Now that he'd pointed it out, I could hear it too. My throat was scratchy, but I'd been oblivious to it with the various distractions since waking up. Now suddenly the minor irritant was all I could think about.
Seemingly reading my mind, but probably just reading my expression, Hendricks picked a glass of water with a straw off of the table beside me and offered it to me. I nodded gratefully as I took it with my good hand. I don't think water ever tasted so sweet. Hendricks smiled a little at my satisfied sigh and set the glass back down.
"Harry…" Hell's Bells, he was using my real name. I flinched a bit; I could count of one hand how many times he'd called me Harry in the past five years, and none of the circumstances had been good. "I don't think you can handle this on your own."
I looked away. "Probably not. But you know me, man. You know what I can do. You, Marcone – you guys can't handle this. I'm out of my league, but you guys would be out of the fucking country."
Hendricks and I sat in silence for the next minute or so. Just when I heard the intake of breath signaling a continuation of our argument, Marcone walked back into the room. The sound of his shoes was ominous in the near silence of my hospital room.
"Harry," he said somberly, and I turned my head to look at him, carefully avoiding meeting Hendricks's eyes. "This" –he gestured to me – "isn't over." He paused for a breath. "But we have to go. Somebody seems to have decided now was a good time to harass my doorman." The significant look he gave me conveyed exactly which doorman he was talking about.
"Probably that Lieutenant," I observed with an insincere smile; he likely knew as much. "She didn't seem too fond of you."
Marcone gave me a baleful look. "Quite. I'll be moving you to my building to be under my personal doctors' care as soon as I can push the paperwork through."
He and Hendricks turned simultaneously to make their exodus. Hendricks shot me a pleading look over his shoulder as he exited the doorway. Marcone paused at the threshold and turned slightly, just enough so that I could see his profile.
"Please be careful, Harry. I can't lose you."
And then he was gone.
I leaned back against the pillows, gritting my teeth and holding back the stinging tears in my eyes. They didn't get it. I couldn't lose them; they were the closest thing I'd ever had to family. Elaine was important – she was vital – but Marcone and Hendricks were just as important. I got myself into this mess because the woman I loved was hurt, likely dead, but that didn't mean that the rest of my quasi-family had to be put in the crossfire, too.
I knew what I had to do, but that didn't mean I had to like it.
A/N: Let me know what you guys thought about the add-ons and such compared to Running In Circles. I'm hoping this plot will flow a lot better and that there will be less gaps and other things that didn't make too much sense, but let me know if anything is unclear and I'll do my best to fix it. :) Review, folks!