Characters: Harry Dresden and Kevin Ryan, with cameos by Richard Castle and Carlos Ramirez
Word count: 1,931
Summary: When a case takes him to New York, Harry knows just who to call for help.
Author's notes: Written for A Ficathon Walks into a Bar with the prompt "Harry Dresden walks into a bar and meets...Kevin Ryan".
I have contacts all over the country, and even some scattered over the world. Mostly magic folk, but also a few straights who’ve stumbled across something unexplainable and believed my explanation of it. These people tend to make my life easier (’easier’) when a case takes me out of Chicago. I have a few magic type people in New York, but when I need good, solid information, I rely on Kevin Ryan.
Ryan is a NYPD cop who I met a few years back when he was the responding officer for a disturbance involving a satyr, two faeries and a small talking lobster. He arrived on scene just in time to see too much, after which we had the following conversation:
Ryan: That was...
Harry: Uh, yes.
Harry: I know.
Ryan: And you just...
Harry: Pretty much.
Harry: I understand.
Ryan: I need a drink.
Harry: I will buy you one.
Since then, Ryan is who I call when I need help in New York. He has an open mind, had one even before I came along, and the healthy philosophy that as long as I’m not doing anything strictly against the law, he doesn’t need to know the details of what I get up to in his city.
This time, I was after a man with a very important stolen artifact and the trail had led me to New York, where it had promptly died. I could not get a lock on a location to look for him, the crystal just bounced around drunkenly. He wasn’t dead, I knew that much, but I was still stuck. So I called Ryan.
We arranged to meet at the bar we always meet at. It’s out of the way enough to be quiet and old enough for me not to interfere with the lights or music when I enter. Ryan was already sitting at the bar when I arrived, taking off his jacket and transferring a generic file folder to the counter.
Ryan has the kind of face you see peering out at you from Soap Opera Digest at the grocery check-out. He has a tendency to wear an expression that is a combination of puppy dog and ‘your call is very important to us’ and that makes you want to tell him things. He’s the nice Irish boy most moms want their daughters to bring home for dinner. Pretty much the opposite of me. Moms never want their daughters to bring me home for dinner.
I sat down on the bar stool next to him and he turned, opened his mouth to say something, but cut it off mid syllable to switch it to “holy shit, Dresden!”. I’d temporarily forgotten I looked like hell, mostly due to the recent dose of ibuprofen.
“Nice to see you too,” I said. He gaped at me. “It’s not as bad as it looks. Well, it is, but it’s nothing to worry about. I went to the hospital. Murphy made me. You’re being tailed, by the way.”
Ryan shook his head. “Yeah, I know,” he said, absently. “What the hell happened to your face?!”
I looked at myself in the mirror behind the bar and saw that, if anything, I looked worse than the last time I’d seen myself. I had two black eyes, both of which had gone into nasty shades of yellow and puce. At least the swelling had gone down. Some. “I got kicked by a unicorn,” I said.
“Nice,” Ryan said, with a sudden grin. “I’m buying.” He signaled the bartender and placed our drink orders. The bartender, to his credit, didn’t even look twice at me. I think you have to be pretty unflappable to be a bartender.
“No objections here,” I said. “Who’s following you?”
Ryan rolled his eyes. “Castle. He’s shadowing Beckett for ‘research’. He’s a mystery writer. Thinks he’s a cop. He’s sort of helpful, I guess, but mostly annoying.”
I thought he sounded a little like a Harry Dresden and smiled at the thought. “That would explain why he was acting like he was in a spy movie,” I said. Our drinks arrived and I put the very cold bottle up against my right eye for a few moments before taking a sip. It felt nice.
“Oh yeah, I spotted him as soon as I left the office,” Ryan said. “We just closed a big case, me and Esposito and Beckett. And Castle. They were going out to celebrate, but I had to come here. I guess I was a little evasive or maybe Castle is just nosy, but he’s tailed me here to see what’s up. Probably thinks I’m having an affair.”
“You’re not my type,” I said. Ryan snorted. “Speaking of types, how’s Jay-”
“-ny?” I asked. “Jenny. How’s she?”
Ryan looked evasive. “She’s fine. We’re fine.”
I took that as a clue that he didn’t want to talk about it. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone dart in through the door and tuck himself in a shadowed nook near the back of the bar. “He doesn’t know we can see him in the mirror, does he?” I asked.
“Nope,” Ryan said, cheerfully. “He thinks he’s being very smooth. I kinda want to go over and say hi. But I think it’ll be more fun to make him think he’s James Bond for a little longer.” He slid the file folder my way and I opened it up. “That’s all I could find on the name you gave me. Duncan Rollins has a couple of priors for minor stuff, but is mostly suspected of being the ringleader of a bunch of operations – no proof of course. He seems to like to direct rather than act.”
“Not everyone wants to be a star,” I muttered. I glanced over the information. Ryan had found me Rollins’ address, past addresses, known associates and their addresses, and frequent hangouts. He’s good. “This is awesome, thank you.”
“You didn’t get it from me,” he said. “But it’s no problem. Why can’t you do that quartz-on-a-string-y thing to find him? That’s how you found that one girl, isn’t it?”
“He’s in a place that’s blocking the spell,” I said, still looking over the folder. I took the crystal out of my pocket and showed it to him. It pulled towards him eagerly, but fell back when it realized that Ryan wasn’t what it was looking for. “Or he’s blocking the spell himself.”
Ryan poked the hanging crystal experimentally. “Weird,” he said, with appreciation. He took a long drink and looked in the mirror to where Castle was ‘hiding’. “Why are you looking for him? Rollins.”
“He stole something that can end the world,” I said. Ryan choked on his beer and coughed for several seconds. I clapped him on the back. “Don’t worry. He can’t use it until a full moon, which is days away. Plus he needs someone to activate it and we have the one person who can do it in protective custody. The biggest threat is that he sells it and we lose track of it.”
Ryan nodded, trying to catch his breath. “No worries then,” he said, once he was able to speak. He voice sounded a bit funny.
“If I ever genuinely think the world is going to end, I will call and warn you,” I told him. He laughed uneasily and finished off the beer in one big gulp. I tried to catch up with my own beer, but found it was much more useful tending to my swollen eye.
“Where do you meet a unicorn?” Ryan asked, as I put the bottle up to my face again.
“You put out a personal ad in the classifieds,” I said. “You know, ‘rugged wizard seeks mythical creature for fun and frolic, must love rainbows and butterflies. Horses need not apply.’”
Ryan laughed. “I thought they only went in for virgins.”
“They do,” I said, pointing to my face. I finished off the beer and started to gather up the papers back into the folder. “I should get going.”
“End of the world, right,” Ryan said. He paid and we got up and headed for the door. “You need a hand?”
“Thanks but I got back-up on the way,” I said. “Murphy might call if I need official police stuff.”
“No problem,” Ryan said. “Hey, I wonder what would happen if Beckett and Murphy ever met?”
“I think they might cancel each other out, like a black hole and a supernova,” I said. “Or they would combine and form a super-cop greater than us all.” I had a mental image of a giant Murphy stomping the streets of Chicago like Godzilla. “Let’s not let them.”
“Deal,” Ryan said. We arrived at the door and paused to re-tie our scarves before opening it to the cold winter air. Ryan turned towards the dark corner. “You comin' Castle?”
There was a muffled sound of surprise, followed by crashing sound and then a cell phone fell out of the darkness and slid across the floor to bump into my foot. I reached down to pick it up and screen flicked on and off, distorting the image of a smiling red-headed teenage girl on it. It was one of those phones with the screen that covers the whole front and doesn’t have numbers on it. I’m not sure how those work. I handed it to the man who had chased after it.
“Thanks,” he said, looking sheepish. “I was just...” He didn’t seem to have an end to the sentence. We both looked at Ryan expectantly.
“Harry Dresden, Richard Castle,” Ryan said, gesturing between us lazily. He didn’t elaborate on how we all knew each other, something that seemed to annoy Castle.
Castle and I shook hands. There was a long moment of silence where we once again looked at Ryan to do the talking and he once again didn’t do it. He smirked while he stood there and I got the feeling he was enjoying denying Castle details.
Castle’s phone suddenly rang and he frowned as he looked down to answer it. “How did my language get set to Greek?” he asked.
“I better go,” I said, quickly. “Thanks again, Ryan.”
“No worries,” Ryan said. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” I said. I waved goodbye to Castle, who had managed to find the talk button and was bending over in an assortment of weird positions to try and get a better signal. Ryan grinned. He always makes sure his phone is off before I arrive.
Ramirez was waiting for me on the corner up the street from the bar. He has the privilege of traveling through the Nevernever while I have to use an old-fashioned car. Too many people trying to kill me. It must be nice to be young and unhated.
“Que chido,” he said, when I handed him the folder of information. “He came through then.” I nodded. “Morgan is gonna freak! He’s been pulling out the big spells trying to get a lock on Rollins and you spent ten minutes in a bar with a mortal and have the whole thing.”
I grinned. Young and unhated would be nice, but old and well-connected ain’t that bad either.