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Harry Dresden is hot on the trail of a strange set of killings. He comes acros Dr. Dash Gardiner, who seems to have the healing touch.

Mercy Hospital, San Francisco

Five bodies in under two weeks, each found within a circle of ash, with a curious symbol etched on them in blood - the blood of the next victim in the chain. Though, that least is a detail the police haven't yet caught on to. Each of the victims seems to be random. There's no correlation in age, sex or economic class. The only thing that seems to tie them is the neighbourhoods of the attack. All are within distance of Mercy Hospital, so all have ended up here.

The latest attack, one Keiko Himura, worked at a small high-end boutique only six blocks away. Her death was witnessed by her sister, Ruri, who was waiting for her to close up so they could go to dinner. She's been badly injured and blinded. Burn marks dot her arms.

Doctor Dash Gardiner is in her room, his eyes on her chart. He seems to be trying to decide something and keeps glancing towards the door.

Harry, however, /has/ picked up on it. And since he's also been hired by the husband of one of the victims, he's on the case. Since he's being paid, he's on the case with a reasonably full stomach and a reasonable amount of sleep.

He didn't figure he was really going to have to go to a lot of trouble just to pop in and see a patient. It's not visiting hours, even if Ms. Himura doesn't have anyone scheduled to see her, but a small blending potion means she doesn't see anything out of the ordinary. It also means that Dash /might/ not see the tall man looming outside the door, peering through the window at the doctor. At the very restless, nervous-looking doctor.

No, Dash does not. He decides what he needs to do after consulting the woman's chart again and noting that there's very little chance that she'll regain her sight. He sets the chart aside, then places his hand over the woman's eyes. "Sana eam." he whispers, "Sana eam..." his hand starts to glow softly. "Sana eam..." The woman sucks in a deep breath and stirs, but doesn't wake. He then reaches for the chart, waves his hand over it and murmurs, "Facite sermo consentaneus statum." Words leap from the page, dance around his fingers, then settle themselves again. Somewhere down the hall, a computer file is rewritten as well.

That. Significantly unusual medical practice, And it would probably be a wise man who came to Dr. Gardiner when neither at work nor home. But as far as 'wisdom' is concerned, in many ways Dresden might not be the pinnacle of the concept. He probably shouldn't, but he does: he opens the door, standing in the doorway and blocking the light from the lobby.

"I'm not going to lie. That's impressive."

When Dash clues into the fact that he's not alone, he startles and nearly drops his pen. He turns, widens his eyes, blinks and then regains his composure. "Excuse me, it's not visiting hours. And you certainly don't look like a nurse. My patient needs her rest."

"She certainly does," Dresden concedes. "She'll need some time to improve with the help you've given her. After the initial attack, especially." He takes a step further in. "I'm going to guess. You're a recent addition to the city. Not more than a few months?"

Dash turns back to Harry and lifts his chin. His hands rest in the pockets of his lab coat. "What does that have to do with anything?" Something about Harry is setting off alarm bells, but curiosity as well. That's the only reason he doesn't call security on this very not-medical man. He steps away from his patient and towards the other.

"One way or another," Harry replies, "a surprising number of people have made their way to this part of the country over the last little while. And they all have a little something in common." He's not using magic. Very carefully not using magic; he's dampened for now, concentrating on keeping his tech-affecting to himself. But the pentacle around his neck gleams as he moves to one side. "How long have you been a practitioner, Doctor? And you should know I don't mean 'of medicine'."

"I don't know what you're talking about. And I think you should leave. I don't want to call security because it will upset my patients, but I will if your force me to." That's Stern Doctor Voice - commanding without yelling or berating. It's a good skill to have in the OR.

But Harry Dresden has been ordered around by the best. "I know you have your rounds," he says. "But we need to talk. If you were on the White Council, I'd know you. I'd know your name and who taught you. If you're not, there's a /lot/ you need to know."

"You might want to check yourself in at the mental health clinic, okay? They should be able to help you. The nurse will be able to direct you." He points down the hall with a tone that suggests he's going to escaltate things if Harry doesn't see himself out. There's a tic in his cheek, and Harry might just feel a wobble of power from him that doesn't exactly feel like the brand of magic he knows.

Harry raises a hand, taking a step back: "Don't. I'm not here to threaten you. I'm here to help. And believe me..." He takes a deep breath, concentrates on the tips of his fingers, and allows them just momentarily to gleam like candle-flames.

"I'm no stranger to this."

Dash's eyes widen as he sees the glowing fingertips. Then the widened eyes go narrow. "All the way across the country is clearly not far enough." He's about to say more, but behind him, his patient stirs. She says something in Japanese and tries to sit up.

That draws the concerned doctor's attention. He turns back to her and starts to speak in a calm, kind voice. "Ms. Himura, I'm Doctor Gardiner. Please, just relax. I'm here to help."

Raising a hand as if in surrender, Harry reaches the other into his coat and pulls out a small business card. He lifts it, waggles it, and sets it down on the bedside table beside Ms. Himura. "When you feel like you want to talk," he says, "you can find me here. Have a good evening... Doctor Gardiner."

Just the way he said it. There's just the tiniest palpable tug when he says it. But he says no more: he just turns and steps out of the room.