“Bob, I’m leaving the firm.”
After Harry Dresden’s father had died, the eleven-year-old had gone to Chicago to live with his uncle. Justin Morningway was one of the named partners in the law firm of Morningway & Bainbridge.
Uncle Justin always seemed to be aloof, distant, and cold. But his partner, Robert Bainbridge, developed a rapport early on with the young orphan. Harry would often hang out in Bob’s office after school, even though Justin admonished his nephew that he shouldn’t keep the attorney from his work.
Harry dropped out of high school after his uncle died. There had been a struggle, and Justin’s gun had gone off. Dresden had been sixteen. They had charged him with murder and, despite his age, were trying him as an adult. Bob had come to his rescue, and the jury agreed that Harry had acted in self-defense. (It was no coincidence that the arresting officer, Donald Morgan, began drinking at that time.)
Later, Bob would persuade Harry to sit for the G.E.D. test and get his high school diploma. It took a bit more persuasion (and the promise of tuition money) to send the boy to college. Harry would have been quite happy to quit after receiving his bachelor’s degree, but Bob had other plans. Somehow or other, he’d talked Harry into taking the Law School Admission Test and applying to the Palm City School of Law, where Bob was a professor. (Beer might have been involved in the decision-making process.)
As Harry wasn’t taking a course to prepare him for the LSATs and was only applying to one law school, he figured there was a good chance he’d be rejected and that would be the end of it.
To his chagrin (and Bob’s delight), the following fall term saw him as a 1L. Bob would be his criminal procedure professor and his academic advisor. (Harry would tell you that Bob picked on him in class way too many times. Bob would tell you he did that to make sure Harry read the assigned cases for his class.)
Three years later, Harry graduated. Reasoning that he’d taken the LSATs without taking a commercial course, Harry wanted to study for the Illinois Bar Exam at home, too. He regretted that decision after Bob appointed himself his personal tutor. Surely, Harry thought, his friends were having an easier time with Kaplan and Barbri. That had to be the worst summer that he’d ever ha—well, then again, summers with Uncle Justin hadn’t been that pleasant, either.
When Harry got his passing results in November, he went out to a bar with Bob to celebrate.
Waking up beside Bob the next morning didn’t seem to be odd or a mistake. He’d known for years that he was attracted to the older man. The young man was a bit worried, though, about the ramifications of starting a relationship with his new boss—he’d already accepted a job offer as a new associate in Bob’s firm. They did their best to be discreet and if Harry’s colleagues thought the relationship was inappropriate, they kept their thoughts to themselves.
In the years that followed, Harry had worked his way up to partner and the firm had eventually been renamed Bainbridge & Dresden.
Harry’s announcement came as a surprise to his lover. They were at home now, had been living together for a little over a year.
“What do you mean you’re leaving the firm? When did you decide this?”
“Oh, about the time the firm took on ARK Corporation as a client. Their CEO, Fleming, is evil, Bob. Everyone knows that.” Billionaire Peter Fleming’s company had become Palm City’s private police force. The company was currently facing the scandal of having framed an innocent man, Vince Faraday, for several deaths. (Fleming was trying to brush the whole matter aside as a mistake made by a former employee.) Who knew what else they were hiding.
“And you think having an unsavory client is something new? Have you forgotten about all the work we do for John Marcone?” It was a poorly-kept secret that “Gentleman” Johnny Marcone was the head of the mafia family in Chicago.
“The firm represents his legitimate business interests,” Harry replied.
“And it keeps him from getting a criminal record that he doubtless deserves. Perhaps you’ll recall that when your uncle was with us, we provided legal services for the Vargassis,” Bob added, referring to the mafia family that had preceded Marcone. “Face it, Harry—we’ve represented scum for years. It pays the bills for rent and—”
“And you’re okay with that?”
“It helped put you through college and law school. Not to mention the fact that it enables us to take pro bono cases. I seem to recall one where a sixteen year old boy was facing the possibility of life imprisonment for killing his uncle.”
“So, yes, Harry, I am okay with that. If you find Peter Fleming so distasteful for some reason, you needn’t deal with him—”
“Just with the other scumbags,” Harry shook his head. “No, I can’t. I want out, Bob. Hey, it’s not the end of the world! I’m not going to be stealing clients away. You’ve probably got a draft of a covenant not to compete lying around here already.”
“As if I didn’t teach you how to challenge the enforceability of those clauses,” Bob snorted.
“Hey, I had Professor McCoy for Contracts.” Bob waved a hand in a dismissive gesture.
“The point is that you’re one of the firm’s best lawyers. We can’t afford to lose you. Admit it. You’ve gotten an offer from someone. Who is it: Lockhart and Gardner?”
“Wethersby and Stone, actually,” Harry shuffled his feet.
“You’re NOT going to California!” Bob yelled and if his face didn’t quite turn red, it still lost its usual pallor. Harry couldn’t remember the last time Bob had raised his voice like that.
“Bob, calm down. Of course I’m not. Like I want to go through the process of getting licensed in California,” Dresden joked. “Seriously, I turned down their offer.” Bainbridge relaxed marginally.
“And what will you do? Open your own practice? Do you know what the challenges of being a solo practitioner…?”
“Yes, yes. We’ve been through this. Actually, I received an offer to teach at Palm City School of Law.”
“Really? Presumably not for Legal Research.”
“No, it’s to teach criminal law—hey! I did fine in those classes… as long as I was using books.”
“Yes, but most lawyers these days also learn how to use Westlaw and LexisNexis.”
“It’s not my fault that computers hate me! And besides, the old-fashioned way is cheaper…
“I’ve accepted their offer, Bob.”
“You could teach there and stay at the firm, you know. It’s not an either/or. I managed to do both.”
“I know, but I’m leaving anyway. Bob, you know that I’m not leaving you, just the firm, right?”
“Why would you want to stay with me? Obviously I don’t hold the same moral principles that led you to this decision.”
“You have your reasons for what you do. I respect that. And I’m always going to be grateful to you for believing in me and pushing me when no one else would. You gave me my start.”
“Thank you, but gratitude isn’t a sufficient reason for remaining in a relationship.”
“Maybe not, but love is,” Harry replied. He approached Bob and started loosening the other man’s tie. Bainbridge’s lips curved up into a smile.
“So is being good in the sack,” he mused.
“That too,” Harry agreed.
Chapter 2: Here We Go Again
Students really should knock before entering Harry's office.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Three Months Later:
It just wasn’t her day. Molly Carpenter, first year student at Palm City School of Law, was late for Professor Dresden’s criminal law class. She was, however, in time to hear the feedback screeching from the speakers as the sound system in the auditorium failed again. Wincing, the professor gave in to the inevitable and turned it off.
“Bet this doesn’t happen to the other professors,” Dresden muttered. (It did, but not with the same frequency.) He’d have to speak with someone. Maybe next semester he could teach in a smaller room that didn’t have microphones. He raised his voice to be heard by the people in the back rows. “Alright, we’re going to have to proceed without the microphones today.”
Naturally, with the way her luck was going, Molly was called on in class. At least she’d done part of the reading…
That afternoon, Molly headed to the professor’s office. She pushed open the door marked “HARRY DRESDEN” without knocking and then froze, her blue eyes going wide.
Dresden wasn’t alone. There was an older man practically sitting in his lap and, while they both looked startled, he didn’t seem inclined to move.
“Professor Dresden, I’m so sorry—I’ll come back another time.”
Harry looked pointedly at the other man, who took the hint and moved out of his personal space.
“It’s Harry,” Dresden addressed her at last. “We go by first names at this school. Let me introduce you: Molly, this is Robert Bainbridge, of Bainbridge & Mai. Bob, this is one of my students.”
Bob looked at her. In addition to her ears, Molly had had her nose pierced. She’d also added purple highlights to her blonde hair. Privately, Bob wondered if she’d make it through all three years of law school. It was too soon to tell.
“Molly, office hours ended about half an hour ago,” Harry continued after the greetings. She nodded.
“I know; I’m sorry. I just wanted to talk to you about the midterm. I tried to e-mail you that I was going to be late—” Harry scowled at the computer on his desk. The machine was off.
“Thought I told the class not to send e-mails to me, but to the secretary, what’s his name… Peabody.”
“You did,” Molly replied. “But Peabody was fired last week.” That’s right, Harry remembered. He’d heard some rumor about Peabody getting into an explosive argument with the dean. They still haven’t found a replacement?
“Okay; I’ll come back tomorrow? Or I could meet with one of the TAs instead…”
“Tomorrow will be fine, Molly,” Harry assured her. “Just…knock first.”
“Will do. Bye!”
After she left, Harry sighed.
“That’ll teach me to leave the door unlocked. The whole school will be talking about us by tomorrow,” he groaned.
“Oh, I don’t think the young lady has gossip on her mind,” Bob said.
“What are you talking about, Bob?”
“She was a little preoccupied by the fact that her dreams had just been crushed.”
“Where’d you get that? She’s not failing the class—”
“I wasn’t referring to her career aspirations, but her personal dreams.” At Harry’s blank look, Bob sighed. “Harry, your pupil has a crush on you and—”
“What? No, she doesn’t! That’s crazy!” Bob raised an eyebrow.
“Oh? What makes it crazy?”
“For one thing, teacher-student relationships would be completely inappropriate—”
“Harry, are you saying you never had a crush on any of your law school professors?” The blush that had started when Molly had entered deepened.
“That was different! We didn’t get together until after I’d already graduated and taken the bar…”
“Yes, and in the meantime I had to stand by and watch while you were dating your classmates.”
“I only went… Wait a minute. Bob, were you jealous?” Bob scoffed.
“I would hardly have gotten upset over the antics of hormonal—” Harry grinned.
“You were jealous!” Bob narrowed his eyes.
“I’ll see you at home.”
“Not so fast,” Harry got up and locked his office door. “Now, where were we before we were interrupted?”
Okay, now the fic is a two-shot instead of a one-shot.
I promise I’m not abandoning “The Baby Carriage,” or The Cape in general, or “The Dresden Leap,” for that matter. But this little scene came to me after mj mentioned the word ‘sequel’.
(Chapter title from Bowling for Soup’s “High School Never Ends.”)