Harry nearly ran into the black sedan as it screeched to a halt on the road in front of him. It was both an odd and inconvenient place for a car to appear. Odd because this part of the park wasn't known for its traffic. In his mind, dark nights, deserted parks, and black sedans didn't go together. Apparently someone else thought they did, which mean Harry would now have to go around the car. That was the inconvenient part. You had to drive well off the main road to get back here, which is precisely why Harry had parked here. Well, somewhere around here. He wasn't entirely sure where he had left his car but had a feeling that he was running in vaguely the right direction.
The rear passenger-side door opened. A familiar face leaned out, looking slightly annoyed. "Get in," Gentleman Marcone ordered.
Harry was momentarily conflicted. He looked back over his shoulder at the enraged monster that had been chasing him. It'd gained a disconcerting amount of ground as he wavered next to the car, and getting closer every second he stood still. He looked at the car and the well-dressed mobster that was holding the door open for him. It was hard to tell which was the more dangerous option.
The creature howled suddenly, an unearthly sound that cut straight up his spine and made his bones feel like jelly. Harry reacted without thinking. He fell into the car, landing half on Marcone. The mobster slammed the door shut and then leaned back into his own seat. Less than a second later, the car sped off. He debated putting on a seatbelt but that seemed like far too much effort at the moment. He wasn't quite sure he had the kind of motor skills needed to manage that.
The beast howled as its prey escaped.
Harry slumped against the leather seats. The interior of the car was surprisingly pleasant. It was warm, and sitting down was so much better than running through woods. His adrenaline – really the only thing that had kept him moving for this long – was starting to wear off. Harry felt his consciousness beginning to fade along with it.
"Sorry for bleeding on your seats," Harry slurred. Was it just him or was the ceiling moving? "Just drop me off at my car. Can't stay here."
Odd. The lights were fading in and out, like someone kept turning on and off a dimmer on them.
Marcone said something.
"What?" He rolled his head towards the mobster, a little surprised to find that his head was currently resting on Marcone's shoulder.
Marcone repeated himself. Harry watched his lips move but that did nothing to help his comprehension.
"Sorry, I don't think my ears are working right now." He was proud that his voice didn't waver too badly. "Seriously, you have to let me out."
The car hit a bump, sending a searing jolt of pain through Harry's entire body. He may have blacked out momentarily. He hoped he hadn't screamed.
"That thing..." It was getting harder to speak, but he had to warn Marcone. He owed the guy for saving his life so many times. "...danger..." It would be easier to warn Marcone if his voice actually cooperated with him. "...tracking me..."
He felt himself slipping, both mentally and physically. Marcone's hands kept him from sliding to the floor. Harry's head rested on something that wasn't a leather seat.
"It's alright, Harry. You're safe."
He passed out before he could refute that.
Harry woke up in a strange bedroom. It was moderately lavish – rich without screaming wealth, decorated with a lot of deep reds and greens. He shifted, hissing in pain as his body protested the movement. The monster last night had gotten him pretty bad. He could still remember how sharp its claws where, and he was pretty sure that it'd had its teeth in his leg at one point. He ignored the pain and sat up anyways. His head throbbed, trying to tell him that movement was a very bad idea.
Someone had treated his wounds. Thick white bandages wrapped around his arms, and he could feel similar wrappings around his chest and upper thigh. Presumably the same someone had also changed him into a pair of loose-fitting pajamas. He was a little disconcerted at the thought that Marcone knew what sized clothing he wore. All the more reason not to stay here longer than he had to.
He managed to get his legs over the side of the bed with only a little bit of difficulty. The floor seemed like such a long way away. He slid forward of the edge of the bed. His feet touched the ground.
In the space of a second, Harry went from standing to not. His shoulder took the majority of the impact. Pain dazed him for a moment. Harry groaned and rolled over onto his back.
On second thought, standing might not have been such a good idea.
The door burst open, startling Harry. He turned his head to the side to watch as Gentleman Marcone stalked in with the kind of flair that Harry usually expected to be accompanied by a cape flourish. Surprise briefly crossed Marcone's face as his eyes fell on the empty bed, quickly sliding into a smug expression as he noticed Harry on the floor.
"You really shouldn't be out of bed, Harry," Marcone purred. His voice had the kind of tint that Harry usually associated with seduction and amused lovers.
"Thanks," Harry returned dryly, ignoring the strange emotions that Marcone's voice stirred up in the pit of his stomach. "I think I figured that part out. Unfortunately, that's not an option. I can't stay here."
Marcone mock-pouted as he stalked over to squat next to Harry's head. "You needn't worry. I've been told that I have excellent hospitality."
Harry glanced up at the mobster. The retort that'd been forming on his lips died before it could be voiced as he realized the absurdity of their positions. He blushed and pushed himself up into a sitting position with a pained groan. One of Marcone's hands settled on the small of his back for support.
"I'm sure you do," Harry conceded through gritted teeth, "but if I'm not out of here soon, you're going to have a large, hairy monster trying to storm your gate." He glared at Marcone, though he had a feeling it came out a bit half-assed. He couldn't really bring himself to be too angry at Marcone. He likely would have been a goner if Marcone hadn't shown up and saved his ass. Again. "There's a reason I told you to drop me off."
Marcone tsked at him. "Don't be ridiculous. You were unconscious." He paused, and then added almost as an afterthought, "and, the creature is already here."
"What!?" Panic filled Harry and he struggled to get to his feet. He grabbed onto the bed to try and lift himself to his feet. He got about a foot off the ground before the covers on the bed slid in his grasp and he fell back towards the floor.
Strong arms grabbed him before he could hit the floor. An avalanche of blankets fell on top of them. He was pretty sure Marcone was laughing at him.
"Don't trouble yourself. You're in no condition to go out there. My men are handling it."
Harry glared. He grabbed onto the mattress and pulled himself upright, only wavering a little bit as he did so. "Guns won't work. So, unless you want to bring that thing all the way in here, I need to get out there." He managed to lean against the bed and stay standing. The prospect of trying to make it across the room was daunting.
He didn't have a choice.
Marcone sighed and stood, bundling up the blankets as he did and tossing them back on the bed. "I had a feeling you were going to be difficult." He snapped his fingers and Hendricks appeared, pushing a wheelchair.
Harry took one look at it and shook his head. "Hell no."
The grin Marcone shot him was far too predatory for Harry's liking. "I suppose you planned to walk there? It is a bit of a trip. Down the hall, a long flight of stairs, across the foyer... And then there's the lawn too. I have quite a large lawn."
He paled at the thought of it.
Marcone smiled at him. Harry blamed his recent blood loss for the way the smile made him feel all happy inside. This was Gentleman Marcone, after all.
"You really should try to be a bit less stubborn, Harry," Marcone said as he helped Harry into the wheelchair.
"Like you're one to talk..." Harry grumbled beneath his breath.
Marcone just smiled back at him. "I guess we are a bit similar in that regard." He kept pace with the wheelchair as Hendricks wheeled him out into the hall. "Will you be needing anything against the creature?"
"A focal point would be nice, but I think I lost my hockey stick out in the woods."
"Ah, yes." Marcone gestured to some of his men below as they reached the staircase. Harry paled at the thought of being rolled down them, but Hendricks reached down instead, picking the chair up by the arms and carrying it and Harry down as one.
Harry gripped the sides and tried not to think about falling.
Two black suited men walked over as they reached the bottom of the stairs. Harry sighed in relief as the wheels hit tile. He was pretty sure Marcone was trying not to laugh at him. One of the henchmen held out a familiar-looking stick of wood. Harry arched an eyebrow at Marcone, who just shrugged. The last Harry had seen of his hockey stick, the monster had snapped it in half and tossed it somewhere in the trees. He wasn't quite sure he wanted to know how Marcone's men had known where to look.
Duct tape was wrapped around the middle of the stick. Harry raised an eyebrow but took it without comment, settling it across his lap. He felt a little jolt of power as he took the stick into his hands.
He could work with this.
They heard the creature before they saw it. There was a loud commotion across the lawn. The sun had risen while he'd been sleeping. Harry judged it to be somewhere around mid-morning. If Hendricks had any trouble pushing the wheelchair across grass, he didn't show it. He also thankfully missed most of the bumps of the lawn, for which Harry was eternally grateful.
The monster howled franticly as Harry approached. Marcone's men were holding it at a stalemate with what looked like long cattle prods. It raged at them from the other side of a chain link fence.
Harry motioned Hendricks to stop as they got closer. He pushed himself to his feet, using the hockey stick as a crutch. Marcone started to protest but Harry just ignored him and hobbled closer to the fence. He started chanting as he moved, rolling Latin phrases off his tongue as he gathered power. His eyes started to roll back.
"Call your men off, Marcone," Harry ordered.
"I don't think-"
He felt the power threatening to overflow inside of him. He was too weak to hold it back for long.
"Now!" His voice came out strained.
Marcone whistled and his henchmen quickly drew back, forming a protective circle around their boss. The creature roared in triumph and squatted, preparing to jump over the fence. Harry let go.
There was a loud crack in the air, like a thunderclap but with a completely cloudless sky. Harry's ears rang as power surged through him. He pointed his hockey stick at the creature. An arc of pure energy leapt from the hockey stick to strike the creature square in the chest. It screamed once and then dispersed in a cloud of smoke.
"That wasn't so hard," Harry said.
He promptly passed out.
When Harry woke up the second time, he was in the same bed, but this time he wasn't alone in the room. Gentleman Marcone sat in a large plush chair by the window, book in hand. He shut it as soon as he noticed Harry was awake and crossed the room to Harry's bedside.
"How are you feeling?"
Harry groaned. He didn't even think about trying to get out of bed. "Like I got hit by a truck. How are your men?"
"Uninjured, for the most part. Thank you for your help."
Harry shot Marcone a pointed look. "I brought the thing here. Least I could do was take care of it."
Marcone arched an eyebrow. "You never did say why it was trying to kill you."
Harry coughed. He mumbled his response.
"I'm sorry. I didn't catch that."
He sighed. No easy way out for him. "Someone summoned it to kill me."
"Ah," Marcone said, as if summoned creatures were a usual part of his daily routine. "Do you know who?"
Harry shrugged. "Any one of a dozen wanna-be wizards in the town who think a lone wizard like me is easy pickings? Or someone who actually has a beef with me, you know how long that list is..."
Marcone shifted to sit at the edge of Harry's bed. He blushed. The other man's proximity was far more comforting that it should be. "If you had decent backing, perhaps that wouldn't be such a problem."
"Yeah, but-" Harry cut himself off as he realized what Marcone was referring to. "No. No way. Not happening." His blush deepened and he tried to sit up, only to be pushed back down as the effort made his head swim in pain.
"We could make quite the pair, you and I. I think, if you got to know my organization, you wouldn't find it quite so reprehensible."
Any retort Harry could have made was cut off as Marcone leaned down and kissed him on the mouth. Marcone was kissing him. That was a sentence Harry never expected to put together.
As far as kisses went, he found it a rather enjoyable experience, one he would have liked to prolong except for the fact that this was Gentleman Marcone kissing him. Mobsters didn't kiss wizards. That wasn't how the world worked, except for today, when apparently the universal laws had been bent back a bit to really fuck with his mind.
Marcone pulled away. Harry may have made a soft sigh of regret, but he would deny that until the end of his days. Marcone stood and smiled down at him.
"Think on it, please."
Harry had a feeling he'd be able to think of nothing else. The door shut as Marcone left and Harry finally let himself shiver. He'd liked that kiss far too much. Already his brain was thinking ahead, to what Marcone could do beyond kissing, once Harry was well enough to get out of bed.
He already knew what his answer to Marcone was going to be, and he didn't like it. Actually, that was a lie. He had a feeling he was going to like it far too much.