Molly had a monkey.
That was what Carlos couldn't get over, which when you thought about it was kind of fucked up. Western civilization was crumbling around their ears and taking the rest of the world with it, nobody could do anything to stop it, and the part that was really bugging him was Molly's pet monkey? But it was just so... incongruous, Miss Goth Wizardette running around in the chaos with a monkey on her shoulder, ever since she'd found it wandering loose and half-starved in what used to be the zoo. The last tiny little detail that just made it all too weird.
It helped to focus on the details, anyway, when you were one of the few trying to fight the good fight on the ground, not just trying to survive or take advantage. Helped in the effort not to think about why this had all started, what Harry had... no. It wasn't like it'd exactly been his fault, and after Nicodemus had got him, after all he let Deirdre do before the death curse... no one could blame a man dying in all that pain for not thinking things through. He'd forgotten just what Nicodemus had been responsible for, in all the centuries he'd been alive.
Watch everything you've done, everything you've built, everything you've had your hand in, be undone.
That was it. Coming from a wizard of Harry's power, the curse had taken effect pretty well immediately, and the snowball just picked up speed from there. Did more than Harry intended, far more and far worse.
And the world burned.
They had a pretty good little gang together, as things went. Molly and Carlos, of course, as two among too few representatives of the White Council trying to do the right thing rather than fighting among themselves. "Steed" was out there somewhere, still fighting the good fight under Luccio's command, and they heard updates from him once in a while, mostly just confirming that he was still alive. Sanya had joined them - with most of the Denarians fallen to the curse as part of Nicodemus' work, he'd decided this was a better use of his time and Sword than chasing the last few.
Michael Carpenter had stayed at home. He had a family to defend, children too young to fend for themselves, and anyway, he was retired. God would protect them, he had said with calm confidence as he watched the group leave, and somehow none of them doubted it. His wife and oldest son had joined the party - Molly protested, in Daniel's case, but he was of age and his parents' son, and there was no talking him out of it.
Charity was a hell of a woman, Carlos had decided within five minutes of meeting her, and it was plain to see where Molly got... most aspects of her personality. Mother and daughter worked as a team within the larger group, and he'd seen them go back to back and cut their way out of a mob of ghouls without breaking a sweat. Mostly what they all did was defending the innocent who'd got caught up in this, the ordinary people, especially the children. Marcone, of all people, had carved out a sanctuary just outside Chicago, and had made it known that any child and whatever parent they had left would be protected there. Hendricks and Gard, among others, were with him and helped him to enforce it, emphasis on "force". Guns were often involved, but in the circumstances Team Jedi (as Molly had dubbed them, saying Harry would have liked it) couldn't find it in them to complain. They escorted orphans and other refugees there on a regular basis, after all, precisely because it was the safest place going.
Kincaid and Ivy had joined them out of the blue, a couple of months after it all started, and one of the few amusements left was watching Murphy trying and usually failing to pretend she wasn't watching him. She didn't give up with that and start sharing his tent on a regular basis until... well, until Ivy wasn't spending most nights there any more. She, aged seventeen now, had decided the next youngest member of their party was far more interesting than any bodyguard-slash-father figure. Kincaid glared for a while and pointedly cleaned his gun in Daniel's eyeline, until Murphy laughed at him, Ivy herself pointed out that she could do far worse to Daniel than Kincaid could if he ever deserved it, and Charity took to calmly sharpening her metalwork in public. That last seemed to finally settle it - no one really wanted the team to dissolve into protective violence in any direction. Not among themselves, anyway.
It wasn't as if there was a shortage of good targets for Kincaid's paternal rage, anyway. The White Court excepted - Lara Raith had made some announcement about the need to protect the cattle, not prey on them excessively in their currently vulnerable state, and with Madrigal and Madeline both dead, the Court seemed to be listening to her and obeying her "father's" word - the monsters had come out in force as soon as there was no real masquerade left to protect. Most of the Faerie court rankers were keeping themselves to themselves, but there were still the Black Court, the ghouls, the trolls and nixies and any other Wyldfae you cared to name... the list went on and on.
They did their best. Toot-toot even showed up once in a while, when they managed to get their hands on pizza, and proved a surprisingly effective fighter. And besides him, they had two wizards, three Knights of the Sword, a trained swordfighter for all she was pure mortal, an assassin and the Archive herself... well, most people and other sentient creatures of bad intention had learned to take one look when they showed up and run as fast as they could in the opposite direction. Whatever got the job done, right?
The creatures never seemed to run out, never any fewer to fight, but one day things would be back under control, Carlos kept telling himself. They had to be. And then maybe he and Molly...
Well. If it wasn't for the damn monkey.