That probably shouldn't have surprised me. I'd seen Toot literally eat half his weight in pizza. And his wings were powerful enough to lift him off the ground into flight. Anything that can put food away that quickly and produce such a prodigious amount of physical power relative to its size must have a ridiculously high-burning metabolism. And with the day I'd been having, it did my heart good to see him upright again.
"Where are we on our scouts?" I asked Molly.
"They're in a food coma," she said. "I ordered twenty pizzas. Must have been five hundred of them in the parking lot. They'll be ready to go as soon as you tell me where you want them to look."
"I need a map," I said.
Molly reached into her back pocket and produced a folded map. "Way ahead of you, boss."
"Soon as they're done, lay it out on the table," I said.
"Major General, I'm glad you're here," I said. "I need you to stay close."
Toot saluted again, and his wings blurred into motion, lifting him up off Molly's shoulder. "Yes, my lord! What is the mission?"
"To prevent a prisoner from attempting escape," I said. "I captured Captain Hook."
"Sort of," Karrin chimed in, her voice amused. She'd returned to her seat by the fireplace.
I gave her a look. "We have him; he's captured; that's the main thing."
Toot put his hand on his sword. "Shall I dispatch him for you, my lord?" he asked eagerly. "Because I totally can."
"If it needs to be done," I said soberly, "I'll make sure it's your hand that does it. But we'll give him a chance to talk first."
"You are a man of mercy and grace, my lord," Toot-toot said, clearly disappointed.
"You bet your ass," I said. "Make sure you're in a good spot to stop our guest from leaving."
"Aye!" Toot said, saluting, and darted across the apartment.
Molly shook her head. "You're always so careful to make him feel involved."
"He is involved," I said, and started back toward Butters's makeshift examination table.
"Of course it hurts," Thomas was saying. Butters was stitching up a small, puckered hole in his lower abdomen. "But not as much as it did before you got the bullet out."
"And you're sure you can handle care this crude?" Butters asked. "Because if you were a regular human being, I could pretty much guarantee you that this thing would go septic in a couple of days and kill you."
"Microorganisms aren't a problem to my kind," Thomas said. "As long as I don't bleed out, I'll be fine."
My brother's tone was calm, but the color of his eyes had changed, growing lighter, a shade of fine grey with almost no blue at all in it. A vampire of the White Court had superhuman strength and speed and resilience, but not an infinite supply. Thomas's eyes changed as his personal demon, his Hunger, gained more influence over his actions. At some point, he would need to feed to replenish himself.
"You about done?" I asked him. "I need the table."
"What is it with you people?" Butters groused. "For God's sake, these are real injuries here."
"There will be more of them than a thousand reluctant physicians could patch up if we don't get moving," I said. "Today's serious business, man."
"Can't think when it's been grimmer," I said. "Freaking waste-of-space vampires, lying around on tables you need to use."
"Useless wizards," Thomas said, "jumping on enemy guns and accidentally shooting their allies with them."
"Oh," I said. "That was when I jumped Ace?"
He snorted. "Yeah."
I winced. "Ah. Sorry about that."
"One of these days, Dresden," Thomas drawled, "pow, right in the kisser."
"Talk is cheap," I said. "Table, table, table."
Butters finished patching Thomas up, wrapping a long strip of gauze bandage around his middle. Thomas leaned back on his elbows as the doctor worked. The pose made his muscles stand out sharply beneath pale skin-but then, most poses seemed to do that with Thomas. His pale eyes lingered on Molly for a long moment, and my apprentice abruptly turned away with spots of color high up in her cheeks.
"I, uh," Molly said. "Wow."
"Thomas," I said.
"Sorry," he said. He didn't sound sincere. He got up off the table with lazy grace. "Say, Harry, do you have any more shirts back there? I bled, nobly and sacrificially, all over mine."
"They're Molly's," I said.
He looked at my apprentice. "Oh? What do I have to do to get one?"
"Go ahead," Molly said. Her voice was not quite a squeak. "Take one."
"Appreciate it," Thomas said, and sauntered into the spare bedroom.
Murphy watched him walk by, openly, then gave me a rather challenging look. "What?" she asked. "He's pretty."
"I heard that," Thomas said from the other room.
"Map," I said, and Molly hurried over to the table. Butters got his stuff off of it in rapid order. He'd evidently pulled the slug out of Thomas's guts without making a horrible bloody mess of things. The bullet had to have been close to the surface. Ace's gun must have been fairly lightweight, a .25 or a .22. Maybe he'd been using cheap ammo and the round had been short on powder. Or maybe Thomas's super-abs had stopped the bullet before it could sink in.
After the table was clean, Molly spread the map out on it. It was a map of Lake Michigan and the shores around it, including Chicago and Milwaukee and on up to Green Bay. Molly passed me a pen, and I leaned over and started making marks on the map with my swollen fingers. It hurt but I ignored it. Karrin got up and came over to watch. Thomas joined us a moment later, freshly attired in a plain white T-shirt, which looked like it had been made to fit him. He's a jerk like that.
"What I'm doing here," I said, "is marking out all the nodes I remember."
"Nodes?" Butters asked.
My clumsy fingers made it a little hard to put the marks exactly where I wanted them. "The meeting points of one or more ley lines," I said. "I got to know all about them a few years ago."
"Those are like magical power cables, right?" Karrin asked.
"More or less," I said. "Sources of power that you can draw on to make major magic. And there are a lot of them in the Great Lakes region. I'm drawing from memory, but I'm pretty sure these are right."