Murphy didn't want to say it. No, she didn't even want to think it, but saying it out loud was her limit; it was simply too close to actually admitting it. "Dresden doesn't live in Chicago anymore," she finally said through clenched teeth.

"I see," the blonde girl said ineffectually, pouting like she just stepped out of a sitcom. "I suppose that's what I get for asking a dryad for information. Oak trees don't have the tiniest bit of time perception."

"Of course they don't." The ex-policewoman made a mental note to remember this fact, out of pure habit more than anything. She's never heard much about dryads, which either meant that Dresden never encountered one or didn't consider them important enough to mention. Either way, in her current line of work, she never knew when the seemingly moot bit of information could come in handy.

"Where is he, then?" the girl asked, and for a single moment, Murphy wanted to punch her for bringing it up.

She caught herself immediately. Hitting innocent teenage girls for something that wasn't even their fault wasn't her style. It was, in fact, the complete opposite of her style. The thing that threw her off wasn't the question itself, or at least not just that. It was the way she almost instinctively realized that this girl was far from innocent. She tried and almost succeeded at acting like a normal, though slightly anxious Californian; Murphy was pretty sure she wouldn't have seen through her if she hadn't been searching for oddities in the first place. Still, now that she thought about it, she was convinced that the blonde carefully planned her too-casual act to mask something.

The girl – Annabeth, as she identified herself – never interrupted the short pause, but her gray eyes shifted toward Murphy's hand before the woman even made the conscious decision to reach for her weapon. Ah, perhaps her eyes were what made her look off; they were too deep and knowing for a seventeen-year-old. Almost uncanny.

She let her hand slip back a second later, but never fully relaxed. Neither did the definitely-not-human person in front of her. "Why do you want to know?"

"I told you already," Annabeth said, slightly frustrated. "I'm looking for someone and I think he could help. Come on, you said yourself that if I can enter, then it means I'm human. I'm not gonna slit your throat or anything."

"It means that you're probably human," Murphy corrected. "Either tell the truth or go away, the innocent-girl-act doesn't do you any justice."

The young blonde hesitated for a moment, probably thinking it through, then changed her composure in the chair she's been offered. The fake normality slid off like cheap paint under a stream of water. "You're good," she said, allowing just a little bit of wholesome arrogance into her voice. "But I didn't lie to you, actually."

"No, you just didn't tell me the whole truth."

She nodded. "Of course not; knowledge is power, and I'd have to be out of my mind to give you any more of it when you already have two people waiting to ambush me."

Murphy was suddenly glad that all these years as a cop taught her how to keep a poker face on, because right now, she really needed one. "Fair enough," she said. The two werewolves strategically hiding around her living room didn't move, but she knew they would jump up if the girl were to so much as twitch without warning. "Which is it, then?"

It was ever the same routine: try to look in control even though you aren't, don't show any sign on weakness and hope that the enemy wouldn't have any tricks up her sleeve. In this case, though, it was more about hoping that she wouldn't turn out to be an enemy after all. Will did say that she seemed friendly enough this morning, when he caught her snooping around their base.

"I have no reason to tell you anything, ma'am," the girl finally said. "I simply wanted to meet Harry Dresden."

Still, Murphy didn't want to answer the damned question. "I'm sorry, but that's just not possible."

Understanding lingered in Annabeth's eyes – not pity or fake compassion, just understanding. "I thought that might be it," she said. "If you don't mind, then I'll be going now."

"Of course," Murphy agreed and stood up, just in case. The girl made her way toward the door, but stopped with her hand on the handle.

"Just one more thing. Frankly, I don't think we have any reason to end up as enemies, so I'll give you some free advice."

Murphy raised a brow. "And what would it be?"

"This whole routine, checking whether a person can enter your home and everything else you've tried, wouldn't work against anything I've ever fought. Then again, neither would your weapons. Wrong material."

Then she left.

Now, that was helpful.