The haze lifted slowly, sensation returning bit by bit but every sensation that came back was achy and tired. It felt like I'd been running or lifting weights or something. Not painful, but I knew I'd been doing some work. Thinking past that, I realized that I was flat on my back, pinned by something warm and comfortably heavy. I grunted and opened my eyes, blinking to clear them.
Marcone's salt and pepper hair filled half of my vision. His body was the warm thing pinning me down. It took a second for the implications of that to sink through and then I jumped, which didn't get me far since I was still beneath him. He shifted a little at my jerky movement and muttered, sliding his arm up my side and threading his fingers through my hair, holding me still. It was all very gentle and I realized that Marcone was asleep. Holy hell. I wasn't sure what to freak out about first. That Marcone and I were both very very naked or that Marcone was a snuggler. Or maybe I should be freaking out about Gard and Hendricks who had moved from where ever they'd been standing and were now looming over us.
"Uh." Gard's face was impassive, but Hendricks looked pissed. It's hard to tell that from his normal expression, but I was fairly certain he was trying to decide on the quickest way to rip my head off. I could almost see smoke trickling from his ears. Then I blinked and realized that the smoke really was there. "Hey, Cujo, did you know you're on fire?" Thin wisps of smoke were dancing off of his short red hair which did, now that I was paying attention, look a bit singed. There was more smoke coming off of his clothes as well.
"Not any longer. We put him out a few moments ago." Ms. Gard reached out a hand and stopped it over something that I couldn't see until her hand got close. Then it lit up in a faintly reddish dome. The barrier was pretty big. Maybe ten feet high and when I turned my head I could see that there was plenty of room between us and the edge of it where it met the floor. "If you could drop the shield, Mr. Dresden?"
"That's not me."
"I am aware of that. However, you are the only wizard within the circle, so could you kindly attempt to will the circle away? It has withstood our efforts from the outside."
Well, that made a little bit of sense. I took a deep breath and pushed out with my will, trying to turn the circle 'off'. Nothing happened. I waited a second and nothing continued to happen. Crap. I reached up and took hold of the hand Marcone had in my hair. His fingers lost the loose hold they had and I pushed his arm back toward him and rolled until we were both on our sides. Marcone huffed, still asleep, and let me extricate myself. Unfortunately he took hold of my duster which had apparently been spread out on the floor under us and rolled in it like it was a blanket. Which left me bare ass and starting to shiver. Perfect.
I stood and did my best to ignore my little audience. Gard had stepped back and the dome vanished again until I took a few steps. It flared back into being as I got close to where the edge of it had been, only it wasn't red this time but the same faded green that I'd seen right before the lights went out. I felt around with my own power, trying to get a sense of what was powering this thing and what it might do to me. It didn't feel dangerous or malevolent. Just very solid. I knelt and pressed my hand forward, trying to wipe the circle away like I would with one that I'd drawn in chalk. I moved slowly and smashed my fingers into the very real wall of whatever. However it was done it was a hell of a shield. Fuck.
"It's pretty solid from this side. It's not reacting to me at all." I glanced over at Hendricks and then turned to Gard. "What did it do when you guys tried to take it down?"
"Nothing. It rebounds anything solid thrown at it with minimal damage and seems to have simply absorbed the magics I tried."
"That looks like a little more than minimal damage." I pointed at Hendricks' still smoking form. "You said he'd been on fire."
"Yes." Gard's mouth twitched in a small smile. "Mr. Hendricks thought that perhaps the bird had had something to do with this and tried to remove him from the situation. Your bird, unsurprisingly, is not a very cooperative soul." Hah."I got the creature back into its cage and we put Mr. Hendricks out." That little smile again. So glad I wasn't the only one who thought this was funny.
"If Dresden can't drop the shield from in there, what're we gonna do?" Hendricks was, clearly, trying to change the subject. I smiled at him and he turned away from me. "We gotta get the boss out of there."
"I am open to suggestions. Mr. Dresden?"
"I don't know. I have no clue what the hell is going on." I paused as a very unpleasant thought slid through my brain. "You two do know I didn't do this, right? I didn't attack Marcone. We were just standing there and suddenly, boom. Naked cuddling on the floor."
Gard shook her head. "I believe you. We arrived...shortly after the event. You were most definitely not the aggressor." She grinned, a real baring of her teeth in amusement and Hendricks' ears turned cherry red. Damn. I took a second and really catalogued my body. Sore, tired muscles, a slightly sharper pain on one side of my neck, and a fairly heavy throbbing pain in my ass. It wasn't awful but it was new and unpleasant. Now that I'd noticed it it wormed it's way into my consciousness, little claws digging into my lower back. Great. Just - just great. I made the executive decision to not think about it. "Regardless of how it happened, we do need to get you two out of there."
"Oh yeah. I would really, really like to be gone before Marcone wakes up." I hadn't quite closed my mouth and there was a shivering in the air around me. A small 'pop' echoed in my ear, like the air pressure changed and the shield flashed once, briefly and then disappeared. "Really?" I slowly stuck my arm out and through the space where the shield had been before. Nothing. I waved it up and down and side to side. Just air. "Huh. Well, there you go."
"Okay. Here's the plan. I'm going to find my pants." Gard picked them up from a display case to her right and tossed them at me. She had all of our clothes except for my duster it looked like. "Perfect. You two can have sleeping beauty over there. I'll take my coat. We'll all just walk away and never speak of this again. Sound good?" Gard rolled her eyes and moved to start extracting Marcone from my coat. Hendricks just nodded vigorously.