15248/Brain picking 101

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Brain picking 101
Date of Scene: 23 June 2023
Location: Harry Dresden's Office, Kingston Falls
Synopsis: Harry and Molly tried to figure out why Harry can't remember Murphy. They didn't have much success.
Cast of Characters: Harry Dresden, Molly Carpenter

Harry Dresden has posed:
It's after hours. The door is locked and the wards are in place, but Harry is home. Mouse sits at the top of the steps that lead down to the lab, a soft panting as the good boy waits for Harry's return.

Mister is wherever he wants to be, probably sleeping on Harry's bed. Down stairs Harry can be heard conversing with Bob about something that doesn't sound overly dramatic, just plotting some sort of spell, potion, or the like.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
As Molly always did, she opened her 'sight' to check for the wards before she ever even approached the door, and then she went through the motions to take them down, unlocked the door with the key, and put everything back the way it was once she was inside.

She dropped her backpack/purse near the front door (easier to grab when you're literally running for the exit), and it made a heavy thump -- probably largely thanks to the presence of the Glock 21 inside. Above it, she slipped out of her enchanted leather jacket (thank you dad for the gift and Harry for the protection spells) and hung it up on the coat rack. It leaves her in just the cropped black tank top that shows, frankly, a lot of skin -- it stops above her bellybutton and shows off the spiral tattoo that snakes out from underneath it around said navel-dimple. Below it? Fashionably ripped blue jeans and biker boots. Oh! And she's still rocking the black-white-pink ombre bob-cut.

Of course, she's just finished hanging up her coat when Mouse bumps into her, and she turns to rub him behind his ears, bending over to kiss him on top of his massive head.

"Hey, Mouse. Did you know Harry was sending me on a wild goose chase?" she asks, smiling. "Probably not, huh? I'm sure you would have warned me. Where's Harry?"

The girl -- well, handily into young woman territory, now -- follows the big Temple Dog over to the lab door and gives him a last scratch before she starts to descend. Her steps would have given her away, but she announced herself with, "Harry? I've got a bone to pick with you..."

So, yeah. She definitely didn't figure out the 'shopping list' he'd given her was completely bogus until she got to Willow's shop.
Harry Dresden has posed:
"You can have Bob." Harry replies flatly as he continues to work with the correct ingredients he already had. Bob is at once ecstatic and yet worried,"Ohh I get to go with the sexy one you are too blind to notice." Of course he would go there.

He knows she is annoyed and he clearly doesn't seem too concerned about it. The chemicals in the two test tubes into a beeker and it poofs up a pretty purple smoke. He turns and looks up the steps,"OK. Tell me all about this bone to pick."

Crossing his arms, he leans on the table next to Bob and indicates her to come downstairs. He looks less than penetant about anything, just waiting to her what she has to say. He may love her like his own, but there is teaching to be done still.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"He's not the cranium I need," Molly answers, stepping down into the lab. Had she heard Bob's initial remark? If she had, she makes /no/ indication of it once she's on the lab floor, a bit of that smoke still floating up towards the ceiling.

"Pretty," she comments, eyes tracking it for a moment before she turns to level her gaze on Harry. Yes, she's upset. But, let's face it, she's not /that/ upset. Most of it is a show.

"Actually, I have /two/ bones to pick with you. The /first/..."

She's stalking towards him, but she stops short just about at arm's length, reaching into the well-fitted rear pocket of her figure-hugging jeans and producing a sheet of paper that Harry would recognize as the one he handed her, folded, before she left.

"Cow's Tongue? /This/ is a joke. You sent me out with a bogus list of ingredients just to get rid of me." Beat, eyes narrowing. "I'm /not/ a child, anymore."
Harry Dresden has posed:
"The cow's tongue is a powerful talisman in the voodoo practice. The Jamacan posse's use it to mark people who have talked. If they add a few sigils, the person if marked for death." Harry replies with a nod,"If they are cooked right, the taste ok. Just a matter if you do or not."

"I wanted you to think about things. I don't question you are an adult..." he poines his finger at Bob,"...shut up." The lights in the eyes of the skull brighten, then dim again. It almost looks like a pouting kid.

"Youare an adult. If I need you out I am going to tell you to go. If I need you to appear to leave, but double back we will be establish a code for that soon. I want a few." He touches the paper and then taps her forehead gently,"Think grasshopper. I didn't do this to do anything other than make you think. You are beyond capable and strong in your power. I will not do that again, but I want you to think about it."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
A little grin touches Molly's lips at Harry's reprimand of Bob and Bob's resulting reaction. But she purses her lips as she listens to her -- well, maybe not /reprimand/, but certainly lesson -- and her lips press into a line. She might have thrown a rebellious tantrum a few years ago, but she'd at least mostly outgrown that phase. So, when Harry taps her head, her eyes merely shift towards the floor.

"Oh." Apparently, she hadn't even considered that it might be anything other than a reason to get rid of her or some kind of practical joke. The fact that it might have been a lesson didn't even make it into her consciousness.

"Got it, Boss." Sheepish smile on her lips, her eyes lift again, and she looks up at Harry through her lashes. "And.. thanks for saying that. About my power. Because... I want to talk to you about an idea I had."

An awkward silence follows with Molly looking like she was practically nauseous that lasted /almost/ long enough for Harry to tell her to just spit it out.

Just before he can, though. "I... think I need to look around in your head."

Molly was the last one on the planet that would have suggested it. After everything that happened, messing around in people's heads was the /last/ thing she ever wanted to do again. It was the reason she was under the Doom of Damacles, and it was /likely/ to get them both killed, if the White Council considered it black magic.

Which they wouldn't, as long as she didn't change anything.


"Willow said something at the magic shop about Buffy acting younger.. and.. for Buffy, who's my age, a few years is a big deal. For you, maybe not." Because you're old. She doesn't say that, though. "But, maybe there's more than missing memories. Or.. maybe I can even see a way to fix it... I won't be changing anything." She hastily adds that last. "Not.. without asking you."

Psychomancy, for better or worse, /was/ one of her specialties.
Harry Dresden has posed:
     He reaches over and gives her a one armed, side hug and tells her softly,"You're learning kid." he tells her softly and even gives her a quick kiss on the top of her head,"No more tests like that now. You learned your lesson."

     "I wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it." he advises her. He waits for her to talk, crossing his arms again while he does. He raises a brow slowly at the mention of looking into his head. He lets her think it over and explain it clearly. Eyes rest on the her profile as he considers what she is saying,"Ahh. The polite way of saying I am old." he muses, knowing exactly what she doesn't say.

     "The council has gotten pretty out of touch of late. I haven't heard from Morgan in a long time. You can tell it is breaking me up." She takes a slow inhale and exhales again,"There is an alternative if you are feeling brave. Not sure I love the idea, but you can avoid the psychomancy at least for the moment."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
For better or worse, the side-hug put her facing Bob directly, who got to 'watch' the whole thing play out on her face through those flaming eye-sockets of his: awkward cringe, eyes closed, braced for the kiss with a little pained smile.

It was like getting hugged by that creepy friend of your dad's. Except, it wasn't at all like that. It was like getting hugged by that creepy friend of your dad's that you've had a crush on since you were fourteen.

"Not. A. Word." She doesn't actually /say/ the words to Bob. She mouths them, a stern look on her face.

"Thanks," she'd mumbled again when she was free, trying not to look awkward.

And then she'd launched into it.

"Oh.. well.. that's a good thing." Beat. "Right?" /Was/ it a good thing? For them, for sure. But, for Wizarding in general?

"..What do you mean /brave/?"
Harry Dresden has posed:
Harry reaches over and puts the fires out in the lab. He indicates Molly go upstairs,"Either way, let's go upstairs." he replies and puts Bob back in his box with only a slight protest. He closes the box and tells Molly,"Upstairs. That way Mouse can keep a closer eye on us." he instructs, waiting for her to go first. If it was anyone else, she might think he had alterior motives.

     For now he is quiet. Once they are upstairs he puts the hatch down and covers it with the carpet,"Go to the living room and I will get us two of Mac's best." he instructs and goes to do that very thing. He nods when he notes the wards are back in place.

     He comes back into the living area with the beers and tells Mouse softly,"Keep your eyes open." Of course Mouse is always watching. He pats the mountain dog and goes to take a seat with her.

     "You can start by opening your third eye and seeing what you see." he tells her finally. Opening both bottles he hands one to Molly,"If that doesn't reveal enough...we can do something neither of us does lightly, something that shows you everything and me everything. We can soul gaze. Not my favorite idea, you don't need to see that much angst."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"You, either." The response had been automatic to Harry's mention of her seeing angsty. Molly hadn't even thought about the words before they were out of her mouth. The problem with soul gazes were that they were two way streets. Molly got to see everything about Harry, maybe including whatever happened to his memories.

He also got to see everything about her. Including the torch she was still carrying around with a big H.D. engraved on the handle and the fact that it wasn't /just/ being busy apprenticing that was keeping her out of the dating pool. That was far less than ideal, even if Harry already had a notion of how bad it was.

Regardless, he was right. It was better than psychomancy.

"Thanks," she says, raising the beer slightly as if in toast and then taking a decent sized swig from the bottle. Then another.

The problem with opening your sight was that, whatever you saw, you couldn't /unsee/ it. Ever. It stayed with you. So, while Molly hadn't ever been too afraid to practice around the office, if Harry had, lets say, a pack of ethereal, brain-eating monkeys with half of his head ripped open, clawing pieces out and eating them... well.. that was going to stay with her. Forever. And forever was a long time for wizards, in general.

"Here goes..."

She sets the bottle back down on the table and turns to face Harry directly, concentrating on opening her third eye.
Harry Dresden has posed:
     Harry settles down and doesn't hold her gaze. For now it is the third eye. She sees things, lots of things. Almost immediately she sees him and standing at one shouler is the shade of He Who Walks Behind. Harry seems younger, almost innocent. Nothing really stands out until...

     Behind both of them, a wicked looking woman stares at Molly challengingly. Her face, while beautiful, is also terrifying on several levels. Finally she smiles at her, that expression as intimidating as her scowl. A level of malignancy surrounds her.

     Molly sees a few other things, like the ever presence of Mouse in Harry's orbit, but nothing that screams to her. Well the evil woman screams in her way, but probably it isn't connected.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"Um... Harry?"

Molly watches the whole scene unfold for a few seconds, staring blankly back at the unknown woman for a moment before closing her third eye with a shudder.

"I... don't mean to alarm you, but I think I might have found the source of your problems. You've kind of got a super creepy female-thing hitchhiking on you like a ghost from the Haunted Mansion."
Harry Dresden has posed:
Harry sighs softly and shakes his head,"No. She's been there a while." he tells her,"You remember when your dad and I picked up that Denarian. Lasciel?' he says seriously.  

"The coin fell on the floor. Your youngest brother saw it and toddled after it. He almost grabbed it, but I stopped him..." He leaves the rest unspoken for the moment,"Nobody knows other than you and Zee." he mutters softly,"Nobody else needs to know right now either."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"You did WHAT?!"

Molly blinks, her eyes suddenly in full-on panic, shaking her head like she couldn't believe her ears.

"Harry, you've got a FALLEN ANGEL living in you. What.."

Her hand comes up to her multi-colored hair and pushes through it nervously, looking away from him for a few moments before looking back.

"That was... Harry... that was a /long/ time ago."

More and more things were clicking into place, and pain was starting to show in her eyes.

"But you.. told Zee."

With a couple of nods, pain seemed to stab at her even deeper.

"Got it." The words are cold.


"So... I guess we should get this soulgaze over with and see if there's anything I can tell from that."
Harry Dresden has posed:
Harry lets her have her moment of panic. Everyone should really. He is patient and when she is a little more composed he tells her,"It was me or yout baby brother. What would you do?" he asksd her seriously.

"Yes it was a long time ago and she has been there ever since." he explains,"Zee knows because of several reasons, but the biggest one is I wanted the Justice League to know what was happening if the bitch manages to take control. The League and Justice League: Dark are made for things like this."

He takes a drink and tells her,"You will notice I haven't told a lot of people. Your dad knows, now Zee and you." he explains calmly. He gives her a chance to rebut that before he agrees with he gaze.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"I would have picked up my brother."

The words are flat and /almost/ accusatory. She might have had more sympathy, but Molly was wounded by being left out of the loop and /specifically/ trusted less than a woman that Harry had known for such little time that Molly HAD NEVER EVEN MET HER.

But it's whatever.

She reaches down to grab her bottle and take another swig from it, blowing a steadying breath out her nose. That.. sucked. This.. was about to suck worse.

So, why was she doing it? Why was she about to do something to herself that there was no chance of undoing, no matter what she saw? No taking back what he saw about her, either?

Because she loved him. The giant prick that he could sometimes be.

"Let's just do this. We can.. come back to that later."

And with a last, steadying breath, Molly looked up to meet her mentor's eyes.

Amidst the ethereal display, Harry saw flashes of Molly's fierce determination, her unwavering loyalty, and the untapped potential within her. He glimpsed the sparks of magic dancing around her -- her growing powers as a wizard. They shimmered with both brilliance and a touch of uncertainty.

In the swirling patterns, there were fleeting images of Molly's past: fragments of memories that hinted at her struggles and sacrifices. He saw her youthful innocence shattered by the harsh realities of the supernatural world, replaced by a steely resolve and a burning desire to protect others. He saw a guardian angel and Valkyrie floating over a veritable herd of jawas. And he saw her burning passion for only two men -- one tall and dark, the other light and stunningly beautiful.

In the depths of her soul, Harry could sense a delicate balance between light and darkness. Threads of shadows wove through her essence, hints of challenges she faced and the choices she had made that would threaten her future. There stood two versions of her. One almost as blindingly good as the guardian angel that protected her. The other nearly as dark as Lasciel herself. But amidst the darkness, he found a bright core of compassion and unwavering goodness, a radiant beacon that illuminated her path.
Harry Dresden has posed:
He knows she is going to be sensitive about things. This is not something everyone should have to contend with. Once she has her say he tells her softly,"I made the decision I made." There is no room for debate on his side.

When her eyes open to him, she feels power and strength. An undying love for those he is closest to. The vision opens to Harry standing alone against all the nasty beasts of the worlds. Slowly, alone changes as the knights appear, Harry standing North, Michael south, Sanya stands at the West, and Shrio stands at the East. Before Harry, the might Mouse appears. Within the circle are more faces and one lacking. At Harry's left shoulder is the mistress of magic, Zatanna Zatarra. On Harry's right shoulder is a shadow of a short, feminine figure. At his back, not hiding but protecting, Molly sees herself.

Family is everything to Harry and this is his. He loves them all and Molly can distinctly feel the love that he has for her, even if he never says it. Above them, looking down on the gathering is Lasciel, laughing at them all as they prepare to face monsters of every kind.

The vision starts to fade before the battle ensues, but whatever is coming doesn't have good odds. Lastly she feels the energy around him. He fights for the light, but darkness surrounds him as well. It tries to seep in.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
When the soulgaze ends, Molly is... drained. She looks visibly more tired and a little like she suddenly had a headache. For a moment, she says nothing. Does nothing. Now that they'd done it, there was no risk of ever having it happen again... and so... it was done.

After that moment is taken, without a word, Molly stands up from the couch, bottle in hand, and just... walks away.

She doesn't leave. Not the whole place, anyway. She stops in the kitchen, facing away from him, and takes another swig of her beer. Silent. Thinking.
Harry Dresden has posed:
This never gets better. He settles against the couch as well and then turns to put his back to the corner of the arm. Mouse gets up and follows Molly. He's not looking for lovings, rather protecting her. Mister drops onto the couch into the middle of Harry. He starts petting the cat and waiting for Molly. This might well be her first time and he remembers his."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
It wasn't Molly's first time soulgazing, but it /was/ Molly's first time with someone she was as intimately familiar with as she could be without being... well... intimate. One can only imagine how she managed to be /intimate/ with Thomas without soulgazing /him/. Or, maybe she had.

Regardless, Molly had set the bottle down on the counter after that last swig. She needed her nerves steady for what she knew she had to do, but she didn't need to be poking around in Harry's head while she was drunk, either. She hadn't seen what she was looking for. Karrin was /there/, but she was... not there. He still had the impression of who she was to him. He just didn't know who she was.

That still didn't explain what Willow said about Buffy.

So.. there was no way around it. She gave Mouse a little rub behind the ears, even though he wasn't looking for it.

"I need you to give me permission to dig around inside your head," she says, turning to walk back into the living room. She sat back down on the couch once more, sans Mac's Brew.

"I promise, I'm not going to go poking into any of the dirty bits. Believe me. But I need to see what it looks like in there.. the last few years. I need to understand how it was done."
Harry Dresden has posed:
He takes another drink and shakes his head. A sigh and he tells her,"You're persistent I'll give you that." He continues to pet Mister and settles into the couch a little more,"All right grasshopper. You've survived this far. Your sanity seems to be mostly in tact."

This is never fun and she knows what he thinks of it, but he settles,"If I didn't trust you Molls, I wouldn't let you into my home. I wouldn't let you into my life, and I wouldn't have fought back the council on your behalf. Do what you think you must and we will see what the fall out is after. The Council, of late, has had little sway. I think it has to do with the rise of all the super beings in the area anymore. Trying to protect what is theirs."
Molly Carpenter has posed:
"Well, when have we ever /really/ listened to the White Council, anyway," Molly offers with a little, encouraging smile. "It's your opinion -- and consent -- I'm more worried about."

She lets out a breath.

"Okay. I'm not going to change anything. You shouldn't even know I'm in there. Here goes..."

She was wrong.

Molly closes her eyes to block everything out and mutters a couple of unintelligible words under her breath.

It's not.. painful. But, she's there, if only very faintly. For the length of the time that they're connected, there's a kind of psychic feedback, where Harry feels what Molly is feeling and, to some extent, vice-versa.

But while Harry gets the brunt of her recent hurt, frustration, and worry, she's busy focusing -- or trying to focus -- on what she was looking for... on what his collection of memories /felt/ like.

It was like Swiss cheese. On one side, everything was fine. On the other, everything was fine. In the middle, there were holes /very/ specifically removed. Not the time. Not the place. The one person, like she had somehow been scrubbed out during editing or photoshopped out.

He hadn't lost the /experiences/. He'd lost who he'd done them with.

And /that/ is what she needed to know.

After a while, Molly opens her eyes again, and that psychic feedback loop closes.

"It's.. just Karrin. /All/ of her. /I/ was in there /with/ her.. or, I am in /my/ memories. But in yours, she's just not there." She purses her lips. "I can't even tell how you're reconciling doing some of those things by yourself.. except.. maybe your brain is treating it like a dream.. like it doesn't /have/ to make sense. But.. it's just Karrin, as far as I can tell."

She frowns.
Harry Dresden has posed:
The touch doesn't bother him, though it isn't the most comfortable of things. It is very rare where he isn't the one up to his neck in the magics, but for once he is just along for the ride. He gets her signals, but he doesn't comment on them. Rather he just lets things go by. She is already a bit wound up for good reason.  

"Pretty much the only thing I have noticed." he agrees softly,"Everything else seems to be fine. I hate that I don't miss her." he admits,"I hate that I don't know why I should." Everything about her has been laid out before him and part of him to her. They have a relationship now that is way more intimate than either one of them expected to have when they got up this morning.
Molly Carpenter has posed:
Well, that's an understatement. That gained intimacy has quite obviously taken a toll on Molly, who was known for sometimes wearing her emotions on her sleeve, anyway. She'd gotten better a she got older. Controlling your emotions was how you controlled your magic, after all, and every year she became even more adept. But, no one was perfect.

"I can't... put her back, either," Molly says. "It's not like someone just cut the photo in half and left the stack of trimmings somewhere convenient. She's gone in ways that /I/ can't recreate because.. I don't know what she did. I can't just.. make things up."

Molly sighs softly.

"We'll keep trying, Harry. I'm sorry I couldn't..."

Fix him. Help him at all, really. But, she was standing again, her expression still distant. She wanted to be there for him, but she was still reeling, herself, as Harry knew full well.

"I'm... kinda beat." More like beat up. "I think I'm going to go back home and try to get some rest. I'll catch you in the morning, though?"

She smiles her Molly smile. Small, affectionate. It's just more tired than usual.

No hug, this time. She needed space and room to breathe.

And she needed to go talk to Buffy.