Home > White Night (The Dresden Files #9)(4)

White Night (The Dresden Files #9)(4)
Author: Jim Butcher

I gave Murphy a wink, and squatted down on the carpet next to the girl. I gave her my best scowl. "I told you to wait at the apartment and practice your focus."

"Oh, come on," Molly said. "It's impossible. And boring as hell."

"Practice makes perfect, kid."

"I've been practicing my ass off!" Molly protested. "I know fifty times as much as I did last year."

"And if you keep up the pace for another six or seven years," I said, "you might - you might  - be ready to go it alone. Until then, you're the apprentice, I'm the teacher, and you do what I tell you."

"But I can help you!"

"Not from a jail cell," I pointed out.

"You're trespassing on a crime scene," Murphy told her.

"Oh, please," Molly said, both scorn and protest in her voice.

(In case it slipped by, Molly has authority issues.)

It was probably the worst thing she could have said.

"Right," Murphy said. She produced cuffs from her jacket pocket, and slapped them on Molly's pinned wrist. "You have the right to remain silent."

Molly's eyes widened and she stared up at me. "What? Harry..."

"If you choose to give up that right," Murphy continued, chanting it with the steady pace of ritual, "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

I shrugged. "Sorry, kid. This is real life. Look, your juvenile record is sealed, and you'll be tried as an adult. First offense, I doubt you'll do much more than... Murph?"

Murphy took a break from the Miranda chant. "Thirty to sixty days, maybe." Then she resumed.

"There, see? No big deal. See you in a month or three."

Molly's face got pale. "But... but..."

"Oh," I added, "beat someone up on the first day. Supposed to save you a lot of trouble."

Murphy dragged Molly to her feet, her hands now cuffed. "Do you understand your rights as I have conveyed them to you?"

Molly's mouth fell open. She looked from Murphy to me, her expression shocked.

"Or," I said, "you might apologize."

"I-I'm sorry, Harry," she said.

I sighed. "Not to me, kid. It isn't my crime scene."

"But..." Molly swallowed and looked at Murphy. "I was just's-standing there."

"You wearing gloves?" Murphy asked.




"Touch anything?"

"Um." Molly swallowed. "The door. Just pushed it a little. And that Chinese vase she's planted her spearmint in. The one with a crack in it."

"Which means," Murphy said, "that if I can show that this is a murder, a full forensic sweep could pick up your fingerprints, the imprint of your shoes, and, as brittle as your hairdo is, possibly genetic traces if any of it broke off. Since you aren't one of the investigating officers or police consultants, that evidence would place you at the scene of the crime and could implicate you in a murder investigation."

Molly shook her head. "But you just said it would be called a suic - "

"Even if it is, you don't know proper procedure, the way Harry does, and your presence here might contaminate the scene and obscure evidence about the actual killer, making the murderer even more difficult to find before he strikes again."

Molly just stared at her.

"That's why there are laws about civilians and crime scenes. This isn't a game, Miss Carpenter," Murphy said, her voice cool, but not angry. "Mistakes here could cost lives. Do you understand me?"

Molly glanced from Murphy to me and back, and her shoulders sagged. "I didn't mean to... I'm sorry."

I said in a gentle voice, "Apologies won't give life back to the dead, Molly. You still haven't learned to consider consequences, and you can't afford that. Not anymore."

Molly flinched a little and nodded.

"I trust that this will never happen again," Murphy said.

"No, ma'am."

Murphy looked skeptically at Molly and back to me.

"She means well," I said. "She just wanted to help."

Molly gave me a grateful glance.

Murphy's tone softened as she took the cuffs off. "Don't we all."

Molly rubbed at her wrists, wincing. "Um. Sergeant? How did you know I was there?"

"Floorboards creaking when no one was standing on them," I said.

"Your deodorant," Murphy said.

"Your tongue stud clicked against your teeth once," I said.

"I felt some air move a few minutes ago," Murphy said. "Didn't feel like a draft."

Molly swallowed and her face turned pink. "Oh."

"But we didn't see you, did we, Murph?"

Murphy shook her head. "Not even a little."

A little humiliation and ego deflation, now and then, is good for apprentices. Mine sighed miserably.

"Well," I said. "You're here. Might as well tag along." I nodded to Murphy and headed for the door.

"Where are we going?" Molly asked. Both bored medtechs blinked and stared as Molly followed me out of the apartment. Murphy came out behind us and waved them in to carry the body out.

"To see a friend of mine," I said. "You like polka?"

Chapter Three

I hadn't been back to the Forensic Institute on West Harrison since that mess with Necromancers-R-Us nearly two years before. It wasn't an unpleasant-looking place, despite the fact that it was the repository for former human beings awaiting examination. It was in a little corporate park, very clean, with green lawns and neat bushes and fresh-painted lines on the spaces in the parking lots. The buildings themselves were quietly unassuming, functional and tidy.

It was one of those places that show up a lot in my nightmares.

It wasn't like I'd ever been a fan of viewing corpses, but a man I knew had been caught in the magical cross fire, and wound up an animated supercorpse who had nearly torn my car apart with his bare hands.

I hadn't come back since then. I had better things to do than revisit scenes like that. But once I was there and parked and heading for the doors, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I went in without hesitation.

This was Molly's first visit. At my request, she had ditched much of the facial jewelry and wore an old Cubs baseball hat over her per-oxide locks. Even so, she didn't exactly cut a respectable businesslike figure, but I was content with damage control. Of course, my outfit barely qualified for business casual, and the heavy leather coat in the too-warm weather probably gave me a distinctive aura of eccentricity. Or at least it would have, if I made more money.

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