The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: The Insider (Part Three)

Karkana Chronices Thirteen

April 22, 2013 (Seattle)

Brianna and Joey arrive in Seattle just before sundown. They set themselves up in a cheap motel and then Brianna calls Ezekiel George.

“Hi Brianna.”

“I’m back in town.”

“Ah. Be careful out there. I hear that assassins even made it out to Portland.”

“Yeah.”

“Obviously they were unsuccessful.”

“You could say that,” Brianna says, wryly.

“Happy to hear it,” and Ezekiel sounds sincerely happy.

“Suffice to say, I don’t know if the Margrave is going to try that tack again.”

“Oh?”

“I guess we’ll see.”

“So what can I do for you?” Ezekiel asks.

“Nothing much, it’s whether or not you need me to do anything for you here. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Please.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Ezekiel assures her.

“Goodnight,” Brianna says and hangs up.

She and Joey push their furniture up in front of the hotel room door and go to bed.

April 23, 2013 (Tuesday)

On the way to the courthouse to view the closing arguments for Quincy’s trial, Brianna notices a pair of guys in a familiar sports car watching them in the parking lot.

When they get inside, Brianna spots Loomis and goes up and greets him.

“’Morning,” he says. Brianna leans in close and whispers into his ear, “Red sports car in the parking lot has the two assholes who shot me last time. Any chance that when this is over we can go out a different door?”

“Stick with me,” Loomis says.

Brianna and Joey then greet Quincy and his lawyer. Apparently the trial has been going well. The lawyer expects things to go in their favor. Brianna lets Quincy know that the investigation against her has been retracted. Finally, they are all called into the courtroom.

Loomis sits with Brianna and Joey while Quincy and his lawyer take their places. The District Attorney makes his final arguments and they are good. But Quincy’s lawyer is great, summing up all the reasonable doubts in the case and the goodwill that Quincy has summoned in the local authorities.

While the jury deliberates, Joey, Brianna, Loomis, Quincy, and his lawyer stay in a conference room and have food delivered. They all make small talk. After a while, they get the news that the jury has been sequestered and that they can go home.

Loomis leads Brianna and Joey down a back hallway to another exit guarded by two sheriff’s deputies. He escorts them through. Loomis tells them to be careful. “I always try,” Brianna says and then she and Joey take back ways to their car. They leave the courthouse, careful to avoid the front of the building. They then head back to their hotel.

Brianna and Joey stay in for the rest of the night, stack up their furniture in front of their door, and go to bed.

April 24, 2013 (Wednesday)

This morning, Joey parks their car in a different lot and the two of them join the crowd of people leading inside. Brianna notices the assholes in the red sports car again. They head inside and find their group. Apparently the jury is still deliberating.

Loomis says that he also noticed their “friends” in the parking lot. Unfortunately, there’s not much he can do. Brianna reassures him that she knows. But she’s “not used to being stalked this much. It’s off-putting.” Loomis nods. “Folks like us, it’s usually the other way around.” Brianna looks closely at Loomis for a moment, then nods in return. “I think that’s the truest way to put that.”

They wait in the conference room again as the jury deliberates. During one of the lulls when the lawyer is out of earshot, Brianna lets the others know about the assholes waiting outside.

That afternoon, they are called back into the courtroom: the jury has finally reached a verdict.

The judge asks for the verdict and the jury foreman announces that the defendant is Not Guilty of all charges.

Among all the hubbub following the announcement of the verdict, Brianna approaches Quincy and hugs him. She asks him about his plans.

“I’m leaving Seattle tomorrow. I’m already packed.”

“Did you want to join us for drinks?” she asks.

“I do.”

Loomis knows of a place. A time is set for dinner and drinks.

Once again, Loomis escorts them out of the backdoor of the courthouse. Brianna and Joey take a roundabout way to the car and got back to the hotel. As they head to the hotel, they notice that they are being followed by a red sports car. Brianna manages to shake them, but she’s not sure for how long. She pulls into a crowded parking lot and waits for 45 minutes before emerging again out of a different exit. Then they head to the hotel again.

April 24, 2013 (Loomis’ night spot)

Brianna and Joey pull into the parking lot and pick a spot not visible from the street. They then head inside and get drinks after spotting Loomis and Quincy. Joey and Loomis order dinner. Brianna and Quincy stick to drinks.

“The red sports car followed us a bit from the courthouse, but I managed to shake it—barely,” Brianna announces.

“If they’re Anacondas, I can probably bust them for something,” Loomis offers.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be staying here. More concerned with their friends that come out after night fall.”

“Let’s stop talking about those assholes. I thought we were celebrating this asshole,” Quincy says, pointing at himself.

Brianna laughs and toasts Quincy, her favorite asshole. She then comes up with entertaining stories to tell at the table. She monitors her drinking and she notices that Loomis is doing the same.

After a bit, she turns to Loomis and says, “Thank you very much.”

“No thanks needed,” he says.

“Not everybody would have done as much,” she says.

“To Loomis!” Quincy says, raising his glass, of which he has obviously had several.

“To Loomis!” Brianna raises her glass, looking directly at Loomis.

“You’re welcome,” Loomis says, looking sheepish.

Brianna turns to Quincy. “When you leave tomorrow, and get back home, keep me posted on how things go.”

Quincy nods.

“I’m going to miss you when you go, but bad things happen when we’re together. You pull me into your crap and I pull you into mine,” Brianna says.

“Either way, it’s crap,” Quincy agrees, drunkenly.

“Family curse, I guess.”

Brianna turns to Loomis. “Talked to Ezekiel. Told him I was in town. Reaffirmed my availability if he needed help with anything. So I guess there’s a possibility of me coming back this way.”

“That’s good. Though, you could just come for a visit. It doesn’t always have to be ensuing violence,” Loomis says.

“I don’t like trailing violence wherever I go. But I don’t think its safe to be in Seattle, either. Day or night, right now I’m beginning to think violence follows me where I go, no matter what I do.” Brianna laughs bitterly and pushes her drink away.

After a while, they get a taxi to take Quincy home and Brianna pays for Loomis’ dinner and drinks. The three of them, Joey, Brianna, and Loomis, hover outside the restaurant for a bit.

“It would be nice to come up and visit. Seattle seems like it’s probably a nice city,” Brianna says.

“It is,” Loomis says. “I could show you around.”

“I’m trouble,” Brianna says.

“Trouble is my job,” Loomis says.

“I don’t know. I imagine the trouble I get into is not part of your job.”

Loomis shrugs. “Try me.”

“The Margrave sent two assassins after me the other night. Only one went home.”

“The Margrave sent two assassins after your cousin the other night. None of them went home.”

Brianna sighs. “I try very hard not to hurt people. Even with my nature being what it is. But I make exceptions when people come after my friends and family. I have a bad past, a job I still think I’m not going to tell you about, and I’m not always a nice person. But it’s rare to meet people outside of family that I feel I can trust. To see my real face.”

“I know how that feels,” Loomis says. “I’m not proud of my past either. I am proud of my job. I’m also not always a nice person. To protect and serve in this city, I’ve had to do some not very nice things. I tell myself it’s only to the monsters. I don’t think you’re one of them.”

“Some days I’m not sure,” Brianna says.

“And that’s the difference,” Loomis says.

“What do you mean?”

“You wonder. You obviously agonize. They don’t.” Loomis pauses. “Look, I’ve upset you. We were having fun. I’m sorry.”

“No, don’t be sorry. These conversations have been on my mind more lately than not. This has been a hard couple of months on a several different fronts. It is somewhat comforting to meet someone that at least understands. It’s difficult interacting with others when you’re a predator.”

“I’m always available if you want to talk,” Loomis says.

“I know it doesn’t seem like it at this point in the evening, but I had a good time. And I’m glad you came out with us.”

“Me too.”

“You’re a very interesting person, Shawn Loomis. I would like to stay in touch.”

“I’d like that, too.”

“Although, it may be easier to do so if we pick a different state,” Brianna laughs. “Even Portland’s problematic at the moment.”

“Oh?”

“Told you. I’m trouble. My intent is to stick it out. I’ve found a good place. I’d like to keep territory for a while instead of being chased away.”

“Anything I can do to help, let me know,” Loomis says.

“That’s very kind.”

“That offer doesn’t go to just anybody,” Loomis says, seriously.

“Then I truly do appreciate it. Well, I have a bunch of trouble in Portland. I was going to say at least I don’t have people trying to shoot me, but I guess that’s not true either. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if a good time pops up. It would be nice to meet again.” Brianna walks up and touches Loomis’ cheek. “Thank you,” she says.

Loomis reaches up and touches her hand. “You’re welcome.”

Brianna smiles and backs up. “Call when there might be a good time to meet.”

“I will.”

She and Joey head back to her car and drive back to the hotel.

Joey says, “That dude is intense.”

“He is, isn’t he. I guess we’ll see if he calls.”

They head back to the hotel, stack the furniture in front of the door again, and head to bed.

April 24, 2013 (Thursday)

Brianna texts Quincy to let her know when he gets home safely. He texts back: YES MOM. She returns his text: ASSHOLE.

She and Joey pack up their gear and return to Portland. Before they go, she texts Loomis that they are checking out today. He wishes them a safe journey.

When they get back home to their apartment, Brianna finds herself staring at the rose in its vase sitting on the counter.

She calls Borland. She asks if they can meet for dinner tonight or lunch tomorrow. He says dinner tonight would be great. He asks if her business was successful. “Good! We can celebrate,” he says. Borland names a restaurant where the two can meet.

After getting off the phone, Brianna says, “We’ll see how he takes it.”

Joey says, “What?”

“I don’t think he and I have any kind of romantic future.”

“I don’t think you gave him a chance. You never intended to,” Joey says.

“There’s some truth to that. This is our life right now. What I told Loomis was true. I’m not a nice person. I’m a predator.”

“Yeah, you are. But not ‘just’. And you might as well have some fun while you’re at it instead of frowning all the time.”

“Setting aside the propensity for people in my close circle to be attacked by all sorts of creatures—human and non-human—I find it hard to be friends (or anything else) with anyone I have to hide my nature from.”

“Do what you want, that’s just my nickel’s worth. Maybe it is a bad idea. I’ve never seen you so miserable.”

“Every time I see him, I just think of how much I have to hide,” Brianna sighs.

Joey smirks. “But Loomis already knows.”

Brianna flushes.

“Well, I’m not sure that’s going anywhere either.” She looks awkward. “Not being able to tell someone what you do for a living is also problematic. Although not being terrified by my eating habits is somewhat refreshing.”

Joey shakes his head. “Do what you want.”

“Thanks for having my back, Joey.”

“Always.”

Brianna gets ready for dinner and then goes out to meet Borland. The restaurant is nice and Borland has a table waiting for them. The two chat for a while and Brianna even gets to feeling comfortable enough to talk a little bit about Seattle and why she was there.

“I’ve had some time to think it over the last couple of days. I’m enjoying our time together,” she tells Borland.

“As am I.”

“I jut don’t know if we have the same end goals in mind. I’d like us to be friends.”

“Friends. I see.” Borland seems disappointed behind his smile.

“You seem like a decent person. I didn’t want to wait until later to have this conversation. Nor is it a conversation for the phone.”

“I appreciate that.”

Borland seems to be holding in a mixture of disappointment, bewilderment, and even a little anger. “I’ll be honest,” he says. “I’m not used to being in this position.”

“You’re a charming, good-looking man; I imagine not.”

“So what do we do now?”

“I’d like to sit and enjoy this meal with a person who I hope will become a good friend. If you just think it won’t work to be friends, I still would like to finish this meal and say good bye and be pleasant when our professional paths intersect.”

“I’ll have dinner with a friend.”

“Lovely.”

The two finish the rest of the night having a good conversation. After dinner, they head out. As Brianna makes her way to her car, she notices Borland having a conversation on his cell phone in his car. He seems angry and defensive. She stealthily makes her way to his car and listens in:

“There may still be opportunities. Look, dammit, you said yourself she’d be a tough nut to crack. No, Gould, I’m not done. Not by a long shot.” He hangs up.

Brianna forcibly opens Borland’s car door. “You little bastard,” she snarls, “I actually agonized over our conversation tonight. If you’re working for Gould, you have nothing to say to me.”

Borland rears back and shoves a Tibetan prayer wheel in Brianna’s face. She recoils, hissing, and backs up. He shuts the car door, starts the car, and leaves. Brianna stares after him and then gets in her car, stewing in her anger.

When Brianna gets home, she slams the door.

“That obviously went well,” Joey observes.

“The fucker was working for Gould.” She picks up the vase with the rose and throws it against the wall, shattering it. Then she explains the evening to Joey.

“Joey, I need to feed, but I need you to watch my back. I’m in a really foul mood.”

“Alright.”

They head out to the diviest of dive bars in Portland. Brianna gets wolf whistles when she comes in. Soon, she gets in a fight and gets thrown out. She and Joey head back home.

April 26, 2013 (Friday)

That night at the fights, Brianna notices that Borland and Cortez are not there. She schmoozes with the other managers and talks to Mel. Nobody crosses her and Joey the whole evening.

April 27, 2013 (Saturday)

At Sibley’s Gym, Brianna runs into Borland’s promoter. “Is Cortez on the docket for tomorrow?” she asks.

“Haven’t you heard. Borland and Cortez bugged out,” he says.

“Really? Seemed like they were doing fairly well.”

“Yep.”

“Did they leave town?”

“I don’t know. I don’t keep tabs.”

Brianna and Joey talk later about the new development. “Maybe that’s the end of that.”

“You going to talk to Gould?” Joey asks.

“Let’s go see if he’s at his club.”

The two head over to The Playground. The banner out front now reads “Now Open”. They see Gould’s Lexus in the staff parking lot. They go in through the front door and pay the cover charge. They spot Gould almost immediately, glad-handing with patrons, Silas Sharpe ever vigilant and close-by.

Brianna finds a piece of wall, leans up against it, and stares a hole into Gould. He and Silas approach soon thereafter.

“Wow, Gould. Borland. That was a new low, even for you,” she says.

“An expensive investment,” Gould says.

“I hear he’s left town. Perhaps it was something I said.”

“He was done anyway.”

“Yes. He was.”

“Is that all you came by to say?”

“Next time you think to send some gigolo after me, don’t bother. Save your money.”

She and Joey turn and leave the club.

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