Karrin goes to talk to Harry and they discuss their trust issues.
San Francisco, Harry Dresden's Office
Back in the day, Harry Dresden had a proper office. It wasn't an outer room attached to his apartment. His apartment, too, had a bedroom that wasn't attached to everything else. Admittedly, it was still in the basement, but he got a heck of a deal because of it. For some reason, Harry made it all the way to San Francisco and all his stuff made it into storage. His apartment, for whatever reason, stayed stubbornly where it was. So did his office. It's been a bit of a transition.
When he opens his door, he's looking a little crazed. And bruised, but that's to be expected. He doesn't look like he's slept in quite some time. Or shaved. Or, ah, showered. Or possibly eaten. He's dressed, at least, like a somewhat normal human being -- or at least like Harry Dresden, in jeans and a button-up Western shirt. A black robe has been thrown over this, though, adding slightly to the wizardliness and detracting significantly from normality.
Karrin Murphy's knock on Harry Dresden's door almost imbues the annoyance she feels at having to come here for advice. Their move to San Francisco strangely happened basically at once and that was something she really should have came to him about sooner, but she's been avoiding the topic - and Harry - for quite some time now. Things never really healed over after their last argument about trust and information.
There's a stack of folders piled in her arms and the tiny - but fierce! - blonde woman looks up at Harry with a hard-nosed expression that should bely this is a certainly a business call. "You look like crap, Dresden," she tells him evenly, taking in his appearance and lack of grooming. "Got a minute?"
It's a moment before Harry even seems to properly recognize her. He blinks down at her very convincingly as though he doesn't quite believe she's here. Surprise. Happiness. Embarrassment. There's a half-dozen or so more expressions that pass over his face before he finally opens the door a little further. "No," he says, "I really don't. But for you, I'll make one."
Turning, he gestures for her to come in and waves toward the desk. "You can dump your stuff there. I'll make us some -- " He glances back to the door and the windows. "What time is it? You want some coffee? Sorry, Murph. I've been busy."
Karrin tilts her head just slightly, expression not breaking as his face shifts easily through the conflicting emotions. She - instead - moves right past him into his house and sets the files down on the desk. Her eyes survey his new living space and office with critical eyes before she turns back to him. Despite his answer, she still keeps it professional. This is a work call, after all.
"It's about five o'clock," she tells him. Though there's a bit of concern that creases her eyes, she just frowns. "No, I'm fine. I wanted to talk to you about some increased murder rates in the area, but it looks like you're already one of the victims. What's got you working yourself into looking like a corpse?"
Well, at least Murphy walking through his door sets aside one worry -- that she's just something that looks like Murphy. Maybe. Hopefully. The runes didn't light up when she walked in, and she managed to do it without any effort. Then again, with everything else going on...
"Uh. Lots of stuff," Dresden mutters. He pulls out one of the chairs by the desk, shuffling around to its other side to sit in what looks like a chair liberated from a World War 2 Army headquarters. Olive drab, heavy as hell, but on wheels and a swivel. He lands heavily in it and rakes a hand through his hair, trying to make himself halfway presentable. "We can talk about it. After your thing. What've you got for me?" He doesn't, at least not yet, ask if it's going to pay.
"Buncha dead bodies near the Marina." Murphy slides the file over for Harry to take a look at. She gets right down to business - as that is why she is visiting. No runes will light up when she passes his threshold. If this is a copy of Murphy, it's a remarkably good one. "There's convictions for everyone one of them, but I was right by the last and he - I don't think he was human. He tore out the guy's throat, needed three large detectives to hold him down, then he saw someone in the crowd and immediately surrendered. Think I saw the guy that gave him the scare; tried to question him but I couldn't really get much. Wasn't my scene and they already had the suspect in custody. Went by the name of Mitchell."
With Harry seated, he's finally more eye level for Karrin. She looks straight at him when she asks the question, "I think this is something more SI level, but no one's paying attention to it. What about you?"
The name doesn't seem to ring any obvious bells. Harry takes the file and flips it open, frowning as he goes over the pictures and the coroner's reports. It takes him a few moments of rubbing his eyes and blinking over them before he nods a little. "I think you're right," he says. "Tearing out throats is a pretty good sign, Murph. That's odd, though. I don't know for certain, but there's a few things that could do this. More now," he adds, taking a deep breath and rubbing his face. "A whole lot more now. If I go to the scene or I can... meet with the suspect?" But even he sounds doubtful about that.
"Can you remember anything specific about the guy?" he adds. "Did he look human when he was, uh. Ripping the throat out?"
As Harry takes the file, Karrin watches his expression and waits for his answer. "More now?" she asks, his explanation obviously sticking out in all the other things he's said. "What's happened recently that's made it more likely that something like this could happen?" She's not about to let a statement like that go unanswered. As for the suspect, she shrugs her shoulders noncommittally. "It's not exactly my case," she admits after a few moments of deliberation. "They think he was on bath salts and there's nothing to prove otherwise. SI normally gets the cases that have no clear suspect or motive, so I'm left a bit high and dry on that."
As for the specificities, she sighs and shakes her head. "I remember something about his mouth looking weird," she admits after a few moments. "I don't know what it was. He was covered in blood and it was all over his face and throat, but I just saw his face and shivered. I only got there after the APB was called, so I didn't see the act in question."
"You know the kinds of things I need, Murph. Ripping throats out -- it's definitely not normal behavior, obviously, but I do best when I have more to go on. If you can get even some close-up pictures of the bite marks -- are those in here? -- I can at least tell you whether we're looking at vampires. I don't suppose the SFPD is inclined to take me on as a consultant?" Harry glances up at Murphy with a wry twist of his lips.
He pushes the files aside then, resting his elbows on the desk and leaning forward to put his head in his hands. "It's bad, Murph. What's going on. The boundaries between here and the NeverNever -- how much have I told you about that? -- are... shredded. Not just shredded, but kind of melded. Perforated."
"Coroner's photos are in there," Murphy nods, though she doesn't feel the need to look at them again. "The whole thing seemed pretty bloody. One of the morticians that came over with us to helped me out and got me a copy of the pictures. Goes by the name of Butters." As for the consultant, she sighs and shrugs her shoulders. "I'm not officially on this case," she tells him. "So, this is just me coming to ask you some advice."
As he puts the files to the side, she watches him and his tired gesture. "Not much," she admits at the question on the NeverNever. "You're usually doing your 'I have to do it all' routine and keeping me in the dark about information like that." With a sigh, she grabs a chair and settles into it. "So, things are getting cut up? What does that mean for us?"
Harry nods, evidently not too terribly fussed by this. He sifts through the pictures and starts examining them more closely. He even reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a magnifying glass, adding: "Could you bring one of those lamps a little closer? Careful, the little metal ring is hot and if you tilt 'em too much, the oil is going to be really unpleasant."
As he examines the pictures, though, he's continuing: "Just... don't spread this around. It'll get us both in hot water. The part of it that you need to know is that that the NeverNever is... is basically where all the things that go bump in the night call home. We're talking Halloween every night. But there's more to it than more nasties. The rules may be changing. The big ones, like supernatural things not being able to really cross a threshold. If the world is a more comfortable place to be, maybe that's not going to be so much of a problem. There's not a lot of way to know, because as far as I know this has never actually happened before."
Karrin reaches out and deftly pulls over one of the lamps. The ring glances against her skin and she hisses a moment, but she sets it down without spilling the oil and then puts the side of her finger between her lips to try and ease some of the pain.
At the request to not spread the information around, she frowns. Her first instinct is to disseminate the information to the people at the SI, so they know what they're up against. "I should tell SI what to look for, though. Especially if there's really a rash of vampire attacks. They'll bet he ones going up against it." She's stubborn about that sort of thing. However, she frowns at the idea of all the rules changing. She only knows a few of them, but those have helped her feel safer in doing her job. "If it's never happened before, what could even cause something like that?"
"A lot of things that I'm looking into," Harry replies. He glances up when she burns herself but doesn't say anything just yet. He knows how much she hates being coddled, and it's clearly all he can do to keep his mouth shut about it. "The basic answer? A ritual went completely haywire and all the magical energy from it got channeled away and needed somewhere to go. Something caught it up, I'm thinking, and used it for its own purposes. All the magic's gone from a lot of places in the world. With everything concentrated here, it's like... if all the magic and magical creatures in the world were iron filings, drawing them all to one point and then hitting the resulting nail with a big hammer."
As he peers more closely at the pictures, leaning further in, he finally nods. "Vampires," he confirms. "Maybe Red Court. Black Court leaves more of a mess even than this. It's not certain, though."
It's like Murphy dares Harry to say anything about her burning herself. The look she gives him is pure steel, then satisfaction as it's not brought up. "Can a ritual do that? I mean, is that something you'd be able to pull off?" She knows Harry is powerful - she's seen him in action. But, she doesn't have all the pieces to understand just how dangerous something like this is. His analogy is one that tracks, at least, though she's still attempting to figure it out as she goes. "Wouldn't it shortcircuit? I mean, all that energy has to go somewhere, if it's anything like physics." She doesn't know if magic is anything like physics, but she's attempting to understand.
At his assessment, she nods just once. "Well, at least I'm not losing my touch in the sea air," she mutters. "Thanks, Dresden. Now I just need to see if my hunch on this Mitchell guy is on the money."
"God, no. Not by myself. I don't think anyone could do it alone. You remember the Three-Eye ring back home? Multiple wizards could do it. Some kind of Doomsday cult." Is Harry going to say he knows that's what happened because he was there? And he knows that the power was drained from the ritual because he helped to do that? Nooooo.
He looks back up to Murphy, rising and reaching out to take the lamp back from her. "Be careful about that," he says. "If he was able to quiet the killer with a look, it could mean he's a much more powerful vampire. What are you planning with him?"
"So, there'd have to be enough people to try and pull off that ritual. So, there's got to be a trail," Murphy points out to Harry. "A Doomsday cult has to recruit somewhere." She's thinking of this purely as the investigator she is.
As for Mitchell, she shrugs her shoulders. "He said he lived around the Bay Area and the Marina. Thought I'd take a look into it. If he's a more powerful vampire, that means he's going to be the one calling those shots. I've got to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone else down there. I've got to find out more about what's going on down there."
Leaving aside the idea of the doomsday cult for the moment, Harry nods: "The Marina. It's a good place to start. Let me go with you, will you, Murph? If you're not going on actual legit official police business, then there's nothing stopping you bringing along a totally unofficial consultant. You'll need someone to watch your back, particularly in a town like this. And particularly if you're going after a particularly powerful vampire. I'm not sure this is the work of the Red Court. If nothing else, they should've been able to call off the cops if that was the case."
Murphy's eyes flash for a moment at Dresden's request. It was something she was completely willing to listen to until a certain point. "It can't be any worse than Chicago," she tells him. "Even with the rules changing. It's my job to protect these people and I'm going to do that no matter what. I don't need a babysitter."
Pushing herself up from her chair, she says, "If you want to give your unofficial advice, then you can come along, but I'm not going there to take anyone out. I just need to know if this Mitchell guy is who we need to keep an eye on to make sure the area is safe."
"You don't understand, Murph." Harry leans forward, spreading his hands. "All the magical creatures, all the demons and vampires and fairies and whatever else? It all got swept out of Chicago. Right now, Chicago doesn't need an SI unit because, well, Chicago is empty, and all the devils are here."
It's a nice statement, though for clarity and accuracy he has to add: "Or smeared across the western seaboard, but as far as I can tell, most of the country and even other spots in the world funneled all their weirdness over here. You ever hear of a place called Sunnydale? The kinds of problems they had? We're looking at a disturbance here of even greater magnitude."
He rises, though, when she does, and raises his hands slightly: "That's what I'm interested in, too. We're going to have to pick our battles here."
"I don't understand because you haven't told me the whole story, Dresden." Murphy's expression is set in restrained annoyance and upset. "There's some hush hush reason we all got transferred to San Francisco that no one's talking about and I still don't know why that is. If it's this ritual you're talking about, then, that's something that should be brought up to the PD, because it goes all the way up to the government. A whole department - people included - don't just get transferred to a new city without a damn good reason. If you're telling me this is it, then it goes way beyond just the NeverNever."
As for Sunnydale, Murphy gives a shrug of her shoulders. "A place in California? I read that a natural disaster caused the whole thing to fall into a sinkhole." As a smart woman, she frowns and looks to Harry. "And I'm guessing it wasn't any natural disaster that did it."
When he says they have to pick her battles, her brow furrows, reading between the lines. "You're talking about you and me?" she asks, eyes looking upward toward Harry. She knows well enough not to try and look him directly in the eyes. But, her expression is one of stubbornness and pride.
"Hah. Not natural. Definitely not natural. It's... basically, it was a permeable spot in the NeverNever. Kind of like the path of least resistance. If all of reality was a big rubber sheet, Sunnydale was the part that was stretched the furthest. Somehow, Beacon Hills got tapped to take its place. Supernatural-wise, Chicago was a cake walk compared to Sunnydale. And Beacon Hills is poised to make Sunnydale look like a children's tea party."
Harry lets out a heavy sigh, though. Again with the distrust. It's painful, and all the more so because he knows it's justified. Then again, so is a certain level of secrecy. "Look. Murph. When did you go into the police academy? I started training to be a wizard before I started high school. You know as well as I do that not everything responds to a couple of lead slugs from a .45, and if you send a bunch of SI guys in to break up a death cult intent on destroying the world, there are a million ways for that to go wrong. I have years of experience but even I can't tell you everything that could go wrong. But I... yeah. I'd like to help you."
His eyes flicker briefly over her face before settling just below her own. "In fact, I kind of have to. I have a commission to help this place. In all kinds of ways."
"Huh." The more Karrin finds out about the supernatural world and its impact it has on the mortal one, the more she dislikes it. The more she realizes she may be out of her depth. But, she swore an oath to protect her city; and that is what she will do no matter what.
"I started police academy at 18," she tells him. He probably already knows the story. "But, I was training way before that. The Aikido, the martial arts, it was all just a build up. I was always going to be a cop." Her family has a long history of cops and she's a Murphy through and through. "Yeah, I know we can't respond to everything with guns, which is why I've hired you more. I did that so you could teach us how to handle this stuff, Dresden. We're appointed by the city to protect it; we've got the badges to prove it and everything. You're supposed to help us do that better. Not take it all on yourself."
With a frustrated noise in the back of her throat, she tosses her hands up in the air. "Then help me, Harry. Help me figure out what is going on in this town. Don't let my guys go into things with blinders on. Who cares when we started learning about it, we're in it now and that's what matters."
With a frustrated sigh, she shakes her head and then her eyes narrow when she catches a few of those choice words. "A commission? What do you mean?"
"I am. I will. I'll help you, Murph. I know things haven't always been... perfect, or great, or even good. But I'm giong to do everything I can to make it right."
About the commission, though? Harry clears his throat. "I'm not sure you'll believe me if I tell you," he replies with a slight smile. "Someone high up -- really high up -- and told me I'm on this case. One of the weirdest conversations I've ever had, and that's saying something."
"And that's just it," he adds, latching on to her own statement. "You've been training to be a cop, let's say, as long as I've trained to be a wizard. When you're interrogating someone, you know the things to look for. You could tell me fifty things you can think of, but I guarantee, thing fifty-one will crop up if I tried doing it myself. I will help you. As much as I can."
Karrin studies Harry and his demeanor, his expression. He hasn't always been truthful to her in the past and they both know it. With a deep sigh, she nods. "Alright. If you want to help me, you've got to be honest with me. You can't go trying to protect me because you think the knowledge is too dangerous. I'm a big girl, I can handle myself and I can make my own choices as to whether I should know this or not."
It seems that their way forward has ground rules. "Believe you?" Karrin raises an eyebrow. "You tend to pull out fire from thin air, Dresden, you expect me to think something is going to be harder to believe than that? Unless you're starting to say your getting your orders straight from God or something, I think you're safe."
With a shrug of her shoulders, she nods and listens to his concerns. At least she'll give him that. "I'm sure. But, I'm never going to learn how to handle it if you don't let me help, too."
He does look relieved. A little happier, even. Harry extends his hand and straightens: "Agreed. On one condition. If it's something supernatural, if I know things are going to get too hairy, beyond what I know you can handle -- which is way more than your average bear, believe me -- and I tell you to get out, you need to trust me there, too. Some things are too big for either of us. If you promise to trust my estimation of the danger, I'll trust you to back me up in all but the most apocalyptic of cases. I won't play that card unless I have no other choice."
When she talks about getting orders 'straight from God', Harry actually winces a little. "Uh. Yeah. Not... straight from God. Did I ever introduce you to Michael Carpenter?"
Murphy doesn't look happy about the conditions on his end, but there's supposed to be this thing called compromise. "Okay. But, you have to let me know about it," she counters. "You can't just decide to take things on in my city without letting me at least know about it. It's better for everyone. I can handle the police and help make sure they don't get in the way of whatever it is you're doing. If you try to pull that crap under my nose, I'll arrest you so fast your wand will be spinning."
As for Michael, she tilts her head slightly. "Big guy? Carries a big sword? Thinks he's on a mission from God? We met the once. He seemed nice enough. You got a commission from him?"
"Okay. Okay. But the number of times you've come storming in because I didn't tell you about something I heard about an hour before and have been trying to juggle before it became a big deal..." Harry cuts himself off. "We'll respect each other. Each other's strengths, weaknesses, and capability to make decisions."
He clears his throat and shakes his head: "No. Not from Michael. Not from his boss, either, but sort of a middleman. That's right," he adds in a drawl. "You're looking at a man who's been touched by an angel."
Karrin's eyes narrow. "The number of times you didn't tell me the whole truth because you thought I couldn't handle it, making me need to take action because I didn't have all the facts..." she trails off the same way, but hers is an attempt to illustrate a point. As Harry cuts himself off, she gives a curt nod. "As long as you're straight with me, Dresden, I'll be straight with you. I just want the trust to go both ways."
With a raised eyebrow, she looks at Harry with a skeptical look. "Yeah, you've been touched alright," she replies immediately. "But, I'm pretty sure it was in your head."
Leaving the bickering aside -- it's remarkable how much they can argue even when they agree -- Harry gives a little wave of his hands. "Straight up. It happened. A crazy guy knocked on my door and turned out to be an angel. Not exactly sent by God, though. It's... apparently pretty complicated up there. I believed it initially about as much as you do now, but... well, I had some proof I couldn't deny. So what I'm doing right now is working on my report for him and trying to figure out my next steps."
The pair of them are people with very strong ideals and convictions. They're bound to argue and when they do, argue strongly. At his assurances, Karrin's tone grows far more teasing. "Uh huh. I'm sure, Dresden. You got tapped by an angel. You're now on a mission from God. When Elwood and Jake show up, let me know. I've got a police cruiser they can borrow." Then, she raises an eyebrow. "If you've really been tapped by an angel, then, well, that's something I'd like to see."
"Sure, fine," Dresden drawls, a broad smile starting on his face. "Don't believe me. You'll be interested to know that angels of God pay pretty well. I was able to pay two months' rent and I still had enough left for a bag of cat food."
The man wobbles on his feet, though, and reaches up to rub both eyes with the heels of his hands. "Okay. Are we going to the scene of the crime tonight?"
While Mister may not be around at this very moment, Karrin laughs. "I think MIster can fend for himself. I'm glad the crusading business pays well enough for you." There's certainly a teasing toe to her voice. Then, she surveys Harry and rolls her eyes. "No, we're not going anywhere tonight. And even if I was, I wouldn't let you come with me. For God's sake, get some rest," she tells the man with a sigh. "And since you're apparently under his payroll, He should certainly agree with me. You're no use to me exhausted."
"What, you want to use me, Detective Murphy?" It's a tease, and an old one, and clearly a tired one. "I'll look into it. Consider it party of my commission to the Angel of the Lord. And a favor for a very good friend." Harry stretches, stifling a yawn and moving around to the door. "Then if I can't press you to a mug of coffee, I'll say goodnight. It's... really good to see you in the city. It's weird not being in Chicago, but at least there's a familiar face."
Murphy just gives Harry a smirk and moves toward the door along with him. "I'll be sure to write that in the department check memo should I ever get this properly funded." As the door opens, she moves through it. "Night," she offers to the man, certainly less businesslike than she was before. "It's...It's good to know you're here, too." And then she strides off into the night.