The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Interlude II

Karkana Chronicles: Twenty-Five

December 8, 2013 (Sunday)

A few nights after Loomis returns to Seattle, Brianna calls him to chat. The conversation starts out like many others, but the tone changes slightly as she starts asking him many questions around a particular theme. When working with Ezekiel, he often has to do things that aren’t always in accordance with the law. As a cop, how does affect him? Does it bother him?

Loomis says that it bothers him every time, but he realizes that sometimes things are necessary. He just tries to help and protect people, even when that doesn’t fall in the constraints of human law. Sometimes, you have to do the right thing, even if it’s not the legal thing.

Brianna talks to him a bit further, but never offers an explanation as to why she’s asking these kind of questions.

December 10, 2013 (Tuesday)

After thinking about their conversation for a day or so, Brianna calls Loomis on Tuesday morning. She says that she needs to talk with him in person and asks if they can meet up in Seattle when he gets off work that night. He agrees and they arrange to meet at the Triangle Pub, an older, established bar in town.

Brianna gets to the bar a bit early and has a drink to calm her nerves. She’s not sure how Loomis is going to react to what she needs to tell him. When Loomis arrives, Brianna orders a second whiskey and he gets a beer. They exchange greetings and if Loomis notices her nervousness, he doesn’t remark on it.

“So, what’s up?”

“Something’s just been on my mind lately and I wanted a chance to talk to you about it.” Brianna chooses her words carefully, “As far as us and our relationship goes, if you don’t, or can’t, approve of what I do for a living, what does that mean for us?”

Loomis takes a deep breath, “I suppose that would depend on my objections. If you were a hired assassin, I think my objections would be stronger than if you were an Amway salesman.”

Brianna gives a short laugh. “Well, Amway salemen are fuckers.” She pauses, then continues, “What if I told you that while your job is to uphold the law, what if my job is to avoid it.”

“Your job is to avoid the law?”

“Well, if I told you my job exists by avoiding the law. Would you want to know? Or would it make it worse because every time you looked at me, that’s all you would see?”

Loomis doesn’t respond at once, clearly giving her words serious consideration and thinking out his answer. Brianna takes a drink, quietly waiting his response. Loomis finally speaks, “I want to know about you. I want to know you. Your job is part of it. When I look at you, knowing what you do for a living, I will see that, but I will see other things as well. Once again, it is a matter of degree of what we’re talking about here.”

“I’m not a hired assassin,” Brianna tells him.

“Well, that’s a relief,” he deadpans.

She laughs again. “No, that’s not my line of work.”

“But, I’m no angel either, and I’m not an idiot. I’ve had an inkling that what you do isn’t above board, whatever it may be. I’m not a fool.”

“I don’t think you’re a fool.” Brianna’s voice is quiet. “I don’t particularly like hiding this from you.”

“I figured you would tell me when you were ready to.”

Brianna sighs. “I just don’t want you to be conflicted with your sense of duty as a professional and what I tell you.”

“Well, I appreciate that.”

" And this doesn’t just impact me. Joey is truly my business partner.

“Once again, it’s a matter of degrees, of what we’re talking about. I have learned over the years to look at things with a matter of relativity. I take my oath to protect and to serve seriously. If what you do conflicts with that, then we may have more of an issue than if it’s just illegal. Do you understand what I mean?”

“I understand what you mean. I don’t think the nature of my work goes against that. No one is being taken advantage of.”

“That doesn’t seem like something you would do.”

“No, not really. I’m no angel either, and I’ve done stuff that I’m not proud of, but I like my work. It’s just that it gets problematic if it’s something that the authorities notice.”

They both sip their drinks for a while, each lost in their own thoughts.

Finally, Loomis says. “I don’t know what else to tell you, without knowing what it is you’re talking about.”

Brianna reaches out and takes his hand, watching his face carefully as she begins speaking. “I told you once before, that most of who I am and who I have become has to deal with what I am.”

Loomis makes a noise of agreement.

“In order to feed in the way I like to feed, the safer way for me to feed so I don’t lose control, is to be around people who are very angry.”

“So, you work for the DMV?”

“No, although that could be an alternate career path, I suppose.” She smiles wanly. “So, my lot in life has fallen in with fighting.” Brianna pauses, then continues, “When I ran away from home my senior year, things were pretty bad. I had just turned full vampire. I was furious at my mother, at everyone, at me, and I started living on the streets. I learned pretty quickly that I was going to have to fight to keep myself safe. One day, someone saw me fighting and offered me a job doing just that. I figured that I could make a bit of money and feed the hunger at the same time, and I was good at it.”

“Ah.” Loomis nods thoughtfully.

“I was a bit of a novelty in the rings, as you might imagine, but it helped me work out a lot of my anger.” Brianna pauses, searching his face for any reaction, but it’s hard for her to get a bead on him.

“So, Joey is your manager?”

“No, I’m Joey’s manager.”

“But, I thought you were doing the fighting.”

“I was. I slowly came out of that part of the business. The story of how Joey and I met is a different story for a different day, but we came to an arrangement. For me, it’s enough now just to be in the room. There’s enough ambient rage for me to eat. But that’s where I am almost every night.”

“You know that some of those rings are run by the Mafia. Those are not nice guys.”

“I’m not very nice either.”

They look at each other for a long moment. Finally, Loomis speaks. “I’m glad you told me this.”

“I am too. Again, I never know what will be some sort of deal breaker between us. I’m not asking for some sort of huge commitment from you, but I don’t date casually. I find it very hard to trust people at this point in my life, so I guess it’s kind of like ripping the band-aid off. If this means that it isn’t going to work out between us, I’d rather know that now than three months, a year from now, or whenever you found out. Because it’s possible that you would and I’d rather be the one to tell you. I don’t have a police record, but I do try to avoid police entanglements as I’ve said before.”

Loomis chuckles.

“And I’m breaking my own rules on that one,” Brianna continues a bit more hotly, “Believe me, I see the irony in this relationship we have.”

“It’s not a deal breaker,” Loomis tells her.

Brianna sighs, some of the tension leaving her body.

“I won’t say I like it.”

“I didn’t think you would.”

“But, it’s not a deal breaker. Unless you’re selling Amway on the side.”

She smiles, “No. I told you. Those people are fuckers. Occasionally, I’ve also picked up work on the side for my House or for other people. I suppose I could tell you about the couple of times I’ve worked for the V.U., but then I’d probably have to kill you.”

Loomis looks at her quizzically when she mentions the V.U.

“The Venatori Umbrorum are like freemasons with machine guns. They’re in the Know, but not really supernatural themselves.”

“Well, you are a busy girl.”

“Yeah. Portland’s been really interesting. Some things have been very good, some not. A lot of this stuff lately has just been weird. My paths cross with a lot of different people and sometimes I have to tell those people to get the fuck out of my way. That’s when things happen.”

After the two finish their drinks, Brianna asks Loomis if he has any weekend plans coming up as she’s thinking about doing something for her birthday. He says that he can clear his calendar. Brianna says she’d like to go out for a weekend and get a nice hotel or something. He tells her to make the call and let him know.

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