Fic: Hail Conquering the Heroes
Title: Hail Conquering the Heroes
Harry Dresden was not a man who allowed himself to acknowledge fear.
Acknowledging it was a weakness that he wouldn’t tolerate in himself. Even if the only thing between him and a total emotional breakdown (complete with sobbing on the floor and drumming his heels like a toddler) was the idea that people were afraid of him and he wanted to keep it that way thank you very much.
He was a badass.
There was nothing that he needed to be afraid of because no matter what kind of situation he managed to land himself in he was sure to come out on top.
Oh Shit! Oh Shit! Oh Shit! The plane was taking off. It was going to crash and he’d end up in some vulture’s digestive tract.
“Harry, I know flying makes you a little nervous but I need you to calm down.”
“The fact that you’re wheezing makes me doubt you. Just a little bit.”
Hendrick’s turned in his seat eyeing the younger man with some trepidation from across the aisle. “You’re not going to vomit are you?”
Bob’s gleeful eyes peeped around the corner from the chair in front of them.
“I don’t know Boss. You look a little green to me.”
Harry abruptly sat upright in his seat. (He had not been curled into a near fetal position. If anyone said differently they were lying.)
“I’m fine! Why wouldn’t I be fine. We’re eight thousand feet in the air in a technologically advanced tin can that could short at any fucking minute. I am the picture of mother fucking calm!”
“Relax Harry.” Soothed John. “It’s only an hour long flight. We’ll be there in no time.”
“If I had it my way, we’d be on the 5 hour train ride with Kincaid and we’d have the chance to fu...”
“Can I get any of you something to drink?”
Harry eyed the waiting flight attendant with something approaching worship.
“I’m fine thank you.” John declined easily.
Thankfully it only took the attendant a couple of moments to scoop out the ice and hand him the cup and the can full of sugar water that would make everything better.
As the stewardess moved on, John allowed one of his eyebrows to lift in delicate disbelief as Harry ignored the cup and started to thirstily sip from the freshly opened can.
“Geez Boss! Slipping off the bandwagon.”
“It’s been 2 years, 6 months and 3 days since my last Coke. I’ll drink as much sugar as I want to.”
“In a fruitless attempt to keep us in the air?”
“No. So I can die happy.”
Marcone peered out the window at the clouds that swept around them in giant waves.
Saint Louis couldn’t get here fast enough.
As Harry swept out of the airport terminal, he determinedly ignored the four men behind him. He was sure all of them were internally sniggering at him and he had no time to spare for the cut to his pride that the thought left him with.
The group of men that Marcone had managed to gather in the short opening they had before the meeting would meet them at the hotel with their luggage. No use scaring the crap out of everybody by making an unnecessarily theatrical entrance.
Harry doubted the Council was keeping an eye on the airport though. The idea of enough magical firepower to do them any harm coming to Saint Louis via airplane would never even cross their minds.
Really they were a shortsighted bunch. The memories of the Council that he hadn’t deliberately tried to erase from his mind had been of a bunch of old white men all vying for supremacy.
Supremacy over what apparently depended on which direction the wind was blowing.
One week they’d be huddled together, giving dark glances to Mundanes. The next they’d be trolling through the shallow end of the magical pool looking for anyone that they could consider a viable enough threat.
The Doom of Damocles was visited on anyone that they couldn’t find a good enough reason to outright kill. Somehow the person placed under the Doom never lived more than 6 months after that. ‘Accidents’ happened with disturbing frequency.
Really the lot of them would be nothing more than a bunch of overpowered school yard bullies if it wasn’t for one particular member.
She was the only Witch to ever be accepted as a member of the great and powerful White Council. Though rumors flew about whether or not that was actually true.
Female she might be. Harry wasn’t so sure about the witch part though. He had seen her throw enough magic around to be sure, but he had looked deeply into her eyes. And seen only the gem colored depths of them.
Even he would hesitate to guess what sort of deal Mai might have made to have the sort of power she did.
The selling of one’s own soul seemed a steep price to pay for even the greatest of power.
Stepping out into the late afternoon sun, Harry finally allowed his compatriots to catch up with him. No use getting separated in the mass of people. Harry’s eyes nervously scanned the cars that were lined up by drivers expecting friends, family, or cab fare.
John’s fingers lightly brushing his back brough Harry’s head around abruptly as he startled badly.
“Easy Harry. A Council stupid enough to plan a meeting only hours away from Chicago won’t be prepared to deal with men who are willing participants in the 21st centuries excesses.”
“That’s because none of them are stupid enough to fly in an airplane. They’re still using ships to cross the seas and oceans.”
“Mai’s smarter than the rest of them. She and Arthur have been slowly taking over the Council for decades. She might be second to the Merlin in rank but he’s more of a puppet then he realizes.”
“Well she can’t be that intelligent love. She made an enemy of you.”
Harry shook his head.
“No. She made an ally of Justin Morningway. At the time a sound decision considering the path he was on. I was still a kid. Young, untested, and easily gotten rid of if I started to skew from what she thought I should be.”
“She underestimated you then. She will again.”
Harry’s smile was only the twitch of the right corner of his mouth but John caught it nonetheless.
“Somehow I think it’s you she’s going to be underestimating this time John.”
John’s smile was a thing of beauty as he waved his hand towards the waiting limo. Sharks were probably swooning off of some coast at this point.
“What could I possibly do to the White Council, Harry? I’m just a poor little mundane sheep, lost and frightened, completely unable to fend for myself against the big bad wolves of the world.”
Harry chuckled low as Gentleman Johnny Marcone ruler in all but name of all of Chicago’s illegal trade and business batted his big green eyes at the younger man as he slid into the leather seats of the car.
“That iron K-Bar might do some damage, Grandmother.”
John’s expression was quizzical.
“Along with those big teeth of yours.”
“Buckle up Red Riding Hood we’ve got a ways to go to get to our hotel.”
“I’m at least Lumberjack material.” Leaning in close to John’s ear Harry finished. “Once we get back from committing mass murder I’ll cleave you in two with my immense axe.”
“Better be careful swinging that thing. Wouldn’t want to accidentally cut down your own wood prematurely.”
Bob slammed the door shut as Harry’s face quickly began to turn a bright red.
Hendrick’s snatched the keys to the limo away from an expressionless driver who wandered away to find his own ride back to his workplace. Bob slid into the passenger side seat after he slammed the door on his still bickering Boss’ conversation. Hendrick’s was afraid Bob might bloody his own lip from the force with which he was biting it.
“Do I want to know?”
Hendrick’s let it go. He really wanted to encourage Bob’s spiritual growth.
And avoid boob jokes. He really didn’t want to hear any more boob jokes come out of that sweet little mouth.
The drive continued in silence. All sight and sound cut off from the backseat by the dark window that stayed up between the two couples. Hendrick’s started to count down the seconds after they passed the five minute mark.
“Do you mind if I turn on the radio?”
“Knock yourself out.”
Bob leaned forward eagerly, he pushed at the buttons in a rapid staccato trying to keep as much of his power away from the electronic device as possible. It only took him a couple of seconds to find a husky alto and relax back into his seat.
Hendrick’s let himself relax a little as well, pleased that he wouldn’t have to brace himself against music that was more scream than singing.
“I’ve never seen Harry so relaxed.” Bob’s voice was low and Nathan had to fight to hear it over the sound of the radio.
Hendricks’ sent in incredulous look in Bob’s direction.
“Well I meant after we got off of the airplane. He wasn’t wrong. With as much magical power that swirls around us it was a miracle we didn’t stop one of the engines.”
“We’re about to take on the 7 most powerful Wizards in the world with nothing but a small group of mundane ex-soldiers and 3 men of varying magical and supernatural abilities. What the hell is there to be relaxed about?”
“You were there at the hospital.”
It wasn’t a question so Nathan didn’t feel the need to respond to that seeming non sequitur.
“Well I was with Harry trying to figure out a way to bring Marcone back. I’ve been the closest thing to a friend that Harry has ever had, which I gotta say is a sad state of affairs, but Marcone sparked something in him. Something that the Court the Council and fucking Justin Morningway couldn’t touch.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying. Ritual aside, they need each other to stay human. I don’t know what alternate universe we landed in that Harry Dresden is actually making puns and telling bad jokes but I like it here and I’d like to stay.”
“Why are you trying to convince me that John and Harry is a good thing? I’ve got no say in the matter and even if I did I’m pleased that John has managed to find someone that doesn’t need protecting.”
Bob huffed deeply fruitlessly trying to a blow a bang that had come loose from his ponytail out of his face before shoving it behind his ears impatiently.
“That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying...I’m saying now that they have each other maybe you could try and have a life outside of work. You’re always on guard. Always working but if they have each other to protect each others backs then maybe you’ll...oh fuck it. I’ve obviously read too many romance novels just forget it.”
Hendrick’s gently slid the limo to a halt at a red light. He reached over with a hesitant finger and brushed the long hair away from the shoulder that had only a tank top strap to break its’ smooth line.
“After the Council is obliterated from this strange universe that you find yourself in. I might be able to ask for a couple of evenings off. We can see where it goes from there.”
Bob’s smile was blinding as he caught the much larger hand in both of his clasping it for several seconds before releasing it so Nathan could keep both hands on the steering wheel.
The rest of the ride passed in silence, and Hendricks’ couldn’t help but feel as though he was exactly where he was meant to be.
Heavily armed and close enough to protect his oldest and dearest friend. But allowed to have a moment with a beautiful person who had a sense of humor wicked enough to break through his inherent stoicism.
That Bob would probably hurt himself laughing if he heard Hendrick’s calling him beautiful was beside the point really.
For the first time I went over the apparent word/character limit. This means that Chapter 3 is in two parts. Grrrrrrrr....