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Title: Necessity
Characters/Pairings: Other!Harry, Harry, Michael, Murphy, Marcone, ensemble; mentioned Other!Harry/Lash
Rating: PG-13
Summary: There was a minute movement at the tips of his fingers, at the corners of his mouth and eyes, but that was all. He’d seen Harry’s soul, caught a glimpse of me in the partitioned corners. He knew he wasn’t seeing him now. “Don’t,” was all he said.
Author's Note: De-anon from the kink meme.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of taking one of his middle names. I decided against it on the grounds that it would be just one more way for someone to figure out his Name, and that wasn’t something I was willing to risk, for both our sakes. Besides, Blackstone and Copperfield weren’t really my speed. His dad was a good man, but I’d have lodged a protest if I’d ever gotten a chance. Then Lash came around, said my eyes were a bit different than his, and shortened Copperfield to ‘Copper’ to reflect that. It stuck. I was rather frustrated that my newfound handle sounded like something someone would name a cocker spaniel, but Lash got her mouth on mine first, and I’m nothing if not an opportunist. The fact I’d gone over two decades without a given name had little to do with it. I’d been content being the Other One, the Not Harry, the Crooked Smile, if only because I knew that while a name had power, I was strong enough in myself not to need one as a summation of myself; it helped that there was no one to use it.

Justin had recognized me well enough, but he’d had little reaction beyond mild curiosity and academic interest in whether my talent would present itself in a different way than Harry’s. Other than an initial question as to whether he was going to have to repeat lessons for me, I received no overt acknowledgement. That was a mistake. He took stock of my abilities and then treated me as an accessory. The fastest way to anger an alter is to treat them as subhuman, but I bore it with a smile as sharp as the one he gave me, because I knew the significance of what I learned from him. There were more than subtle changes in his teaching methods when I was in control of the body and not merely watching. Justin seemed to have believed me more attuned to his side of the morality line than Harry. He was correct in many ways and wrong in many others.

I do not possess that villain’s cliché of apathy in the face of love, affection, and trust. I admit to being wary of them, but I have seen Harry’s friends, and his loyalty to them is not unjustified. They are, for the most part, good, decent people.

And these warlock bastards had wandered into Chicago, our Chicago, and were threatening them.

Anger, panic, and blood loss had turned to exhaustion, and as I felt Harry sink into himself, I stepped between him and the outside world.

When I stood, the feel of having control of a physical form stark in unfamiliarity born from years spent entirely internally, Michael put his hand on my arm.

I looked at him.

There was a minute movement at the tips of his fingers, at the corners of his mouth and eyes, but that was all. He’d seen Harry’s soul, caught a glimpse of me in the partitioned corners. He knew he wasn’t seeing him now. “Don’t,” was all he said.

Eyes were on me as those who thought Harry was down for the count saw his body move: Murphy, Billy, Marcone. Gard’s concentration was still on running interference for anyone who might attempt to track our acquisition, and Hendricks stood at her side with a semi-automatic.

“I’m going to do what he won’t allow himself to do,” I answered, calmly under the circumstances.

Michael’s eyes cut to the man strapped to the chair in the center of the room and then back to me. “Harry will know his power had something to do with it. There’s no one else in the room capable…” His grip on my arm tightened, but there was no threat to it. This was a man trying for all he was worth to be an anchor. “He can’t see his magic used for this. You know what it would do to him…”

“I know it will keep him and the people he loves alive.” I pulled my arm from Michael’s grip and met only the briefest of resistance when I did so. His daughter’s life was at stake. “I may have been absent for a while, but it’s as much my magic as it is his.”

I approached the chair, using the dissociation at my disposal to cut off feeling to the leg that had been mangled in the fight to bring the bastard down. Marcone moved out from in front of the chair to allow me room. His sleeves were rolled up but hadn’t been able to escape the blood. Never let it be said that Marcone didn’t understand torture or interrogation, but he wasn’t dealing with a vanilla mortal or even a normal wizard. He was dealing with a warlock specializing in psychomancy, and that warlock had learned to center himself in his mind and away from bodily harm.

“Harry---” I heard Murphy start from behind me, but Michael must have stopped her. They dissolved into a conversation in low voices, but I couldn’t catch the rest and didn’t try.

I gave the warlock my best smile, thin, malnourished, and false though it was, and saw Marcone’s eyes widen a fraction so slight it could pass as a trick of the flickering lights overhead. When I was standing above the captured man, I ran a hand through my rain-slicked hair, pushing it back before I leaned down to rest my hands over thin wrists bound to the chair arms. I wasn’t going to enjoy this, but I’d do it. I’d do it to help Harry and his rag-tag allies. My eyes didn’t get anywhere close to meeting the man’s. Instead, I focused my steady stare on the puckered wound Marcone had carved into his chest. I lifted a hand to languidly trace two fingers over the lips of the cut and then dug them deep inside without pause.

I wanted hellfire. I wanted Lash. Fuck, I missed Lash.

“I could have burned the oxygen from your lungs,” I murmured more to myself than to him, and I think realizing how curious and offhanded the comment was probably had something to do with the sudden tenseness in the muscle around my fingers. I pulled them down, and the skin tore with it, but he didn’t react. “You’re good at blocking pain, but you want to know something?” I flicked my gaze up to his face, brightened my smile briefly in a passing imitation of Harry’s, and then turned my attention back to the blood starting to follow the lines of my fingers to slide across my palm. It slithered down my wrist, caught in the groove of a vein before it began to drip onto the floor. “I know all those tricks, and I can promise you that I know how to bypass them.”

“Try,” he gurgled in a challenge. He might have been able to put himself in a high tower above the torture, but the rest of his body hadn’t gotten the memo to stay unaffected.

I ignored it without change in expression. “You took Molly Carpenter, and you took two kids just coming into their power related to men in this gentleman’s…” I waved my free hand in Marcone’s general direction, “…employ. You’re trying to make a merry band of warlocks, through persuasion or coercion. That much we’re certain of.” I curled my fingers so that when I pulled them out, my nails bit into the skin. Harry really should trim them. I clenched the bloodied hand on the man’s shoulder. “Those people you took are important to us. I need you to be a dear and tell me where they are.”

He spat in my face.

My eyes fell half-lidded as I mildly considered a bead of blood cradled by his collarbone. “Well, then.”

---

“Harry?”

I scrunched my eyes shut tighter, before blearily opening them to find Murphy leaning over me. “Whuzzit?” I managed in a rasp. Good to know I hadn’t lost my penchant for coherence while I was unconscious. Murphy put a hand between my shoulders, warm and strong, and helped me to sit up. After cautiously attempting to move the rest of my body, I discovered that everything felt bearable, except for my leg, which still sucked. I was in the middle of a thankful grin when the events leading up to my stint in dreamland caught up to me. “The warlock!” I tried to get up. It didn’t work so hot. “Did you…?”

“We got the information, Harry.” Michael lowered himself at my side, and I met his eyes, more than a little desperate for some good news. “Marcone’s men are already surrounding their headquarters, and we’re in transit. We may not even be needed at this point.”

My shoulders slumped a bit in relief. We were on our way to get Molly and the others. We could save them. We would.

That was when I realized I was on some blankets in the back of a van. Observation skills. I have them. I turned my head back and forth in an attempt to get a grip on my current situation and found Marcone watching carefully from a seat against the wall.

I blinked and wondered what I’d done to deserve that look of careful assessment. “Yeah? Is there a problem?”

His expression didn’t waver. “That depends entirely on your definition of ‘problem’.”

“Problem like that warlock used to be?” I countered, quieter than I had been a moment before as I remembered the last thing I’d seen before I’d gone under. “He’s not in the van with us, and he wasn’t talking anytime soon. What’d you do to him, Johnny?”

There was a pulse of something tense in the back of the van, and from the corner of my eye, I saw Gard’s face shift very slightly to focus on her employer.

He gave me a small smile. “Only what was necessary. Nothing you need to concern yourself with.”

Murphy’s hand spasmed on my back, but when I turned to her to ask her not to blow up in his face, I didn’t see disgust or anger. I saw a flash of… gratefulness? Relief?

Confusion flared in my chest. I… really needed to stop passing out.
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