Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 21

Mike’s place wasn’t much of a muchness, but it was on Capitol Hill and it did at least have three bedrooms, if rather small ones. And it was more of a home. I might not be willing to call him dad – in part because I was worried my real father would smite him if I did.

I was quite willing to make myself at home. And fix the few things CPS had apparently not noticed when approving him. That Saturday, me and Kanesha went grocery shopping. Mike apparently lived on TV dinners. Which Kanesha in particular was determined to stop.

He didn’t argue with us getting more food, at least. He didn’t seem inclined to argue with us at all, in fact. He worked that day, and by the time he came back the fridge was full of healthier food.

“I won’t have…”

“…time to cook this all. Isn’t that what most people use teenagers for?” I quipped, grinning at Kanesha.

“Good point.”

Kanesha tilted her head. “Should try the brownies on him.”

“They attract my real dad,” I warned.

“…Loki likes brownies?” Mike kind of peered at me.

“He likes these brownies. But he’ll probably show up anyway.” He probably would. He’d stayed away, but I was never quite sure what he was up to. He had other concerns than a daughter who he trusted to look after herself.

“I’m not sure whether to hope for that or not.”

We made dinner, and then sat around the table. “So,” I said. “There’s a fairy teaching history.”

“Why would…oh, that kind of fairy.”

“He implied he was both kinds of fairy.”

Kanesha giggled. “Seriously?”

I grinned at her. “Seriously. In any case, somebody flooded the canteen with a kind of hellfire. One girl was…hurt.” I wondered how they’d explain it. I rather expected a notice about flesh-eating bacteria and how we all had to watch for symptoms. “I don’t know whether they were after me or him.”

“Could have been the demon we sent packing.”

I nodded. “Or an ally of his…demons don’t have friends.” I frowned. “But it could be the other guy. I made a truce with him, but I don’t trust him. It feels like a deal with a demon.”

Mike considered that. “What kind of fairy is he?”

“Thruor thinks he’s Sidhe.” I frowned.

“Then if the stories are true he’ll keep his bargains, but try to twist them to his advantage. Like, for example, “helping” you fight the demon but letting you do most of the work.”

I shrugged. “He doesn’t strike me as a fighter anyway. I mostly don’t want us working at cross purposes. I do need to find out who did it before they do worse. It wasn’t Surtur, at least.”

“At least. Maybe I would like to talk to your dad after all.”

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 20

As I turned away, I saw Thruor and Mike. From the way they were standing next to each other I suspected that something had happened between them.

Well, as long as she didn’t break his heart – this would be a fling for her, I knew that, but he might make the mistake of thinking it was more. No, I told myself. Mike was a grown man who could look after himself.
And Kanesha? Was she a fling for me? That was why…why I hadn’t gone any further, but the desire to kiss her burned on my lips. And I saw her move to join them.

I walked over. “Hey.” The desire was there, but I wouldn’t act on it in public in any case. There were still plenty of people who would frown on two girls kissing. “What’s up?”

“We’re all going out to dinner, unless you don’t have time. Mike found this wonderful Irish pub.”

I wasn’t about to argue. Mike had brought a car…his own, I assumed. It was an ordinary silver Honda, nothing that would stand out in any crowd. A hybrid. Far more ordinary than what I had envisioned as his off duty ride.

I hopped into the back, and Kanesha leaned into me in a way that was almost as good as the kiss would have been.

A fling? Maybe, maybe not, but I knew it was real and I knew I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her. If anyone got hurt by this, it would be me, myself, and I.

That one is yours. That echoed in my mind. This was something I…needed to talk to somebody about. And I knew exactly who, when I could get her attention. For right now, I let her cuddle against me, feeling comfortable.
The Irish Pub was a bit cliched – dark wood and shamrocks and Guinness, which Mike and Thruor both ordered. Kanesha got fish and chips and I got a chicken pie. I wondered how it compared to real Irish food.

“Not bad,” Thruor noted. “Not as tacky as most.”

She’d probably eaten at a real Irish pub, in Ireland, so maybe I should ask her about it. Maybe one day I would. Or maybe… I shook my head. Life was best taken one day at a time at this point. I reached for the lemonade I’d ordered and sipped it.

“Although lemonade is not Irish.” She grinned at me.

“I didn’t feel like coke,” I admitted, stretching. “So, this is about something, isn’t it.”

Mike nodded. “We can’t let this situation go on. You’re both putting the other kids in danger. I’ve been talking to CPS…I’m sorry it took this long, but I…we…have a better option.”

Kanesha blinked, her eyes widened, and I could see a light bulb. “You…”

“…just got approval as a foster parent.”

I stared at him, trying not to laugh. “I am not calling you dad.”

“I’m not asking you to.”

“I might,” Kanesha admitted quietly. “You know my read dad wasn’t anything to write home about.”

And with the three of us…the only people there would be people who could defend themselves, especially if Thruor was hanging around. Mike was right. It was the perfect solution.

Except I was definitely not calling him dad.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 19

What hated fairies? I doubted angels liked them very much, but an angel wouldn’t hurt people. A demon, of course, would – and enjoy every minute of it.

Working theory: Demon. And it might have been after me, but I didn’t think so. Unless Tyz’vel had found some way to get back and was mad with me.

No. It hadn’t felt like him or anyone connected to him. It hadn’t felt demonic, but I hadn’t met enough demons to be sure.

Which meant that I needed to have a word with a certain history teacher going by the name Mr. Merrifield.

I waited until the end of school and then positioned myself between the classroom he was in and the exit.
Seeing me, he looked like he was about to bolt. “I…”

“I know you didn’t do it. I know your kind don’t hurt kids.”

He relaxed. “Let’s…”

“Outside.” I moved outside the building without really looking to see if he was following. “You know what happened. Do you know who did it?”

“That girl’s going to lose her hand. It’s a form of hell fire.”

“So, I was right. A demon. But real fire destroyed it.”

He nodded. “That proves it. Thank you.” He turned slightly towards me.

“I don’t let people around me get hurt. Not if I can prevent it.”

“A worthy calling…hrm. You’re not a valkyrie. You’re not pure Aesir.”

So, he didn’t know quite who I was. “I’m a bit of a mix,” I admitted. “But I’m not a threat to you unless you hurt my friends.”

“I won’t.” He let out a breath. “I’m not annoying you. Or your relatives. But apparently…”

“It could have been aimed at me. I did piss off a rather high ranking demon recently.”

“You did?” His tone implied I had taste. “What did you do?”

“Refused to sleep with him.”

The fairy blinked and then laughed. “I can see why he might go for you. Me…”

My turn to laugh. “Are you a fairy in more ways than one? No need to answer that.”

“Maybe I started the trend of people calling them that,” he quipped. “Nah.” A pause. “Well. Personally, I hope it was aimed at you, but it might not have been. You know demons don’t like sidhe, even unseelie.”

I nodded. “Demons don’t like demons. Except maybe their friends.”

“Demons don’t have friends.” A pause. “Neither do sidhe.”

“I know. I’m not expecting friendship. Just perhaps alliance to deal with whatever this is.”


He seemed nice enough. So, why did I feel like I’d made a deal with Lucifer himself?

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 18

Of course, I should have stayed worried. Really, I should have learned by now to be permanently worried.

Sure, there almost certainly were plenty of supernaturals who didn’t bother me and I didn’t bother them. It just seemed that the second I identified one, we bothered each other.

It didn’t happen straight away. It was about a week later – with still nothing on Mike and Thruor’s plans – when everything headed in the vague direction of Tyz’vel’s home. It started with a scream in the dining hall. And a couple of girls jumping onto a table.

Mice in the dining hall? That was my first thought, which was probably crazy. Or stereotyped. Wasn’t people jumping on tables to avoid mice a trope. Then everyone around them was jumping on tables or chairs. I hopped onto ours to see if I could see what was going on.

A black, oil-like substance was flowing across the floor. Maybe it was oil…but if so, how did it get there? And one of the first girls to jump had it on her hand and was desperately trying to shake it off.

Kanesha, next to me, grumbled, “Is it magic?”

I nodded. “I think so, but I have no idea what it is. Just don’t touch it.”

“It’s climbing the table legs.”

It was. “Okay…” I closed my eyes for a moment, opened them. Tried to reach for some clarity on the matter. It couldn’t climb fast against gravity, but somebody would be got before I could work this out if I wasn’t very careful indeed.

Fire. “We need fire.”

“Not your thing.”

I thought it might be, but there was something about it being my thing that my mind violently shied away from. Very violently. As if embracing it was the same as embracing Surtur. “No, but I’m betting somebody here has a lighter.”

I raised my voice on the last. Trying to keep discretion wasn’t going to work in this situation. Either they’d deal with it or they’d willfully forget.

And somebody, I didn’t quite see who, tossed me one. “This had better not set fire to the lunch room,” I murmured, as I tossed it into a space between tables.
The oil stuff caught like touch paper, but it burned with a soft flame, like alcohol, and was quickly gone to ash. “Phewf.”


I shook my head. “Most of them won’t remember. But I need to find out what did that. I think it was toxic.”
The girl who had been touched was cradling her hand against her chest and being helped by her friend towards the nurse. Hopefully it hadn’t done too much damage.

If she died, I knew I was going to be severely pissed off. And I knew in my heart, somehow, that she might.

Magic poison, and aimed at all of the children. Fairies wouldn’t hurt children.

Something that hated fairies, on the other hand, just might.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 17

“Not good,” Thruor opined. “How dark did he feel to you?”

“Fairly, and Kanesha said he’s known for not having a sense of humor.”

“Unseelie sidhe,” she opined. “He won’t directly hurt anyone, but his presence may draw trouble. And he may bring harm without intending to.”

I shivered. “Evil, then?”

“No more than your father.”

I laughed. “Chaotic? Or just…dark?”

“Dark. Sometimes chaotic. Selfish to a point. Sidhe are a lot like cats – they struggle with morals.”

I nodded. We were sitting in a diner, in a high walled booth. I picked at the bowl of pasta I had ordered, not so much because I wasn’t hungry as because… “He doesn’t seem to be there for me, but really, that school doesn’t need any more problems.”

“We’ll have you out of there soon enough.”

“Not without Kanesha, we won’t.”

But, of course, she would be transferring too. To some peeling classroom in Southeast with no working air conditioning.

“Trust me.”

Mike had given me exactly that tone. And the two had certainly had time to talk. They had an idea, and I was going to let them run with it.

“On the other hand, without me there, who’s going to keep an eye on the fairy?”

“He…probably, like I said, won’t deliberately hurt any of the students. And sooner or later he’ll get bored and go away.”

That did help me relax. But he hadn’t felt like a trickster type. Maybe he just… “Maybe he just actually likes teaching.”

“More likely…Sidhe like to hang out with young humans. They don’t tend to grow or change themselves, less even than we do. They like the fresh viewpoints, the…youthful energy.”

I nodded. “So, he might be on the dark side, but he probably likes kids. That helps make me feel better.”

I forced myself to eat more of the pasta. It was pretty good, I thought. Good mac and cheese with bacon in it – what more could a girl want?

Security and answers. And security was something, I realized, I was meant to give to other people, not enjoy myself. “Well. I’ll keep an eye on him anyway. And on anyone who might come looking for him. He seemed…worried.”

“Possibly hiding from the courts. Possibly he annoyed somebody of higher rank.”

“I’m worried he’ll use the school as a shield.”

Thruor shrugged. “If he is, it will work. Sidhe won’t harm children.”


“Changelings are only taken as infants, and they’re released as soon as they become teenagers. The Sidhe have no need for adult humans. Well, except for…”

I blushed. “The occasional roll in the hay. I’ve read the stories. At least he wasn’t looking at me like that.”

“He knows he’d get fired if he did.”

She had a point. “I’m going to finish this and then go home, I think.” I was, abruptly, tired – my own fault for tending to push my stamina.

But I was a lot less worried about the fairy now.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 16

I saw him at the end of the corridor, and something swirled around him. Not angel, not demon, not giant. Fairy.

He was some kind of fairy. I laughed inwardly – I could probably tell Kanesha that in the middle of the dining room and have people jump to wrong, but completely believable conclusions. He looked rather like he was, or at least should be, gay. Effeminate, anyway.

And no sense of humor. That seemed an odd trait for fairies – the last one I had met had started a prank war, after all. I’d have to ask Thruor later.
Then he turned and saw me. And his eyes smoldered. “Shouldn’t you be in class, miss?”

“On my way.” What was in those eyes? At least it wasn’t the desire to sleep with me…not exactly. It was fear and it was distrust.

He knew exactly who I was. And I knew suddenly what he was. Sidhe. And not here for me. Well, if that was the case, I was quite willing to leave him alone. Quite willing to live and let live, if he was. I ducked into math with a bit to think about, but I wasn’t particularly alarmed. I didn’t think he was a danger to me, I had no intention of being a danger to him. Just another example of how many different supernatural beings were floating around this city. And I didn’t have him for classes.

So, unless somebody decided to hunt him down or something… He was at the edges of my concern. Math was pretty boring, but I forced myself to concentrate. I was trying to be perfectly ordinary and normal. Just in case they did find evidence of arson.

Well, at the house. They’d arrested that poor guy for the school fire, and none of his protestations were being listened to. I actually felt sorry for him – it certainly hadn’t been my intent.

But when I left, I left through the gates at the same time as the fairy. He looked at me.

“Truce,” I said, simply. “I leave you alone, you leave me alone.”

“From you?”

“From me.” I kept it firm. “I don’t have any reason to be angry with you.” I had no motivation to mess with him.

He relaxed. “Good. I have enough to worry about.”

If he called me Lokisdottir in public I might just smack him. As he didn’t, I relaxed myself. “So do I. Just please try not to involve third parties if something comes up, same as me.”

That might almost have been a smile. “The courts try not to involve mortals.”

Which was no promise for my own safety, but might help keep Kanesha out of it. “I’m trying not to either.”

But why was he teaching history at a school?

The horrible thought hit me. He was using the students as a shield. The courts would be trying not to involve mortals, so he hid behind them.

I vowed to deal with it if anyone got hurt.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 15

New routine. I avoided any emotional attachment to the girls, stuck as close to Kanesha as school allowed and, when possible, got a ride from Thruor. Which got me an interesting reputation.
They thought I was a lesbian, which was part right, and they thought Thruor was my older girlfriend. That amused her to no end. She was not at all interested in women, from what she said, but she still found the obvious conclusion amusing.

“Honestly. Why don’t they assume we’re related?”

“I guess they figure if we were we’d be living together.” We were outside the school and I glanced around. “I wish we could. You can look after yourself. Those girls can’t.”

“This time, we’re ready for something to happen.” Something fiery, no doubt, but Surtur hadn’t touched the modeling agency and had seemed to be satisfied with the damage already done.

Or they had overstepped their orders and he’d beaten them up or even killed them for it. I rather suspected the latter. Or that he hadn’t anticipated just how mad I would be. I was still mad, but I knew there wasn’t much I could do unless more of them showed up.

“I guess. Be careful.” She turned back to her bike and I reluctantly went through the gates.

There was a tension in the air that seemed to me to be part magical, part mundane. I wasn’t happy about it at all. Something or someone seemed to be watching, and I couldn’t tell if they were on my side or not.

“There’s a new history teacher,” Kanesha said as she fell in next to me. “I don’t trust him.”

I nodded. “I’ll…take a look.” If it was a potential enemy or spy I needed to know. “As long as it’s not you know who.”

She shook her head. “No. I don’t think he could play a role that had no sense of humor whatsoever.”

Maybe it was an angel, I thought wryly. Maybe it or he even had nothing to do with me. “Yeah. He’d not last more than a couple of days.”

“Who wouldn’t?”

Dang it. Chuck had overheard us. Hopefully not everything. “We’re just teasing a friend of mine about how he couldn’t pretend not to have a sense of humor.”

Chuck rolled his eyes. “Tease him in his presence. It’s more effective.”

I grinned. “He doesn’t come to this school, though. Come on.” We left him in the hallway, but I kept my eyes open for the new history teacher.

Just in case.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 14

School, of course, tracked us down. They were able to partially reopen. Some classes would be held in the gym. But…

School. How could I go back? I hadn’t seen hide nor flame of a giant, but…and I had a hideous commute.

Then, while I waited at the bus stop, Thruor pulled up on her bike. “Hop on.”


“You really want to take the bus? Come on.” She handed me a helmet.

I tugged it on and hopped onto the bitch seat. “Thanks.”

“Good way to check on you. Also, Kanesha’s got her own escort this morning.”

“I can’t stay this far from her. I’m…”

“Responsible. In love.” She gave both statements in exactly the same tone. No judgment to either.

All I could do was fall silent. I couldn’t, though. But it was the situation we were in and short of putting ourselves entirely outside human law.

“She’s being protected. She’s got a sister with her more than capable of running from fire giants…and who has the sense to know when to run.”

“Hey. They ran from me.”

“They know how much trouble they’ll be in if they hurt you.”

Knowing she was right, I fell silent the rest of the way to school. I knew I couldn’t count on a ride every day, and she dropped me off a block away.

Which was a good thing. I didn’t want to be seen arriving on a cool bike – Thruor might get mobbed. I wanted one of my own, but I wasn’t…at least not yet…a valkyrie, so I supposed it would have to wait.

Maybe I could negotiate one out of Odin or his master of horse or…

I tried not to laugh at the thought of…but I couldn’t help it. I hid the laugh in my locker. But maybe it was somebody I could approach, even if he was a horse. He was also my brother.

Now that was not something I wanted to think about at length. Maybe shape wasn’t as important as spirit, though.

And to a shapeshifter, shape definitely wouldn’t be as important as spirit. He’d refused to teach me, though. Maybe he thought it would interfere with whatever plans Odin had for me.

Beyond talking Loki out of starting Ragnarok tomorrow, that was.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 13

The new house was a townhouse. A solid, brick building, almost as neatly kept as those around it.

A red haired girl appeared in the doorway as Wilson hustled me out of the car. Reluctantly, and amazed Wilson hadn’t noticed the weapons, I made my way inside. I resolved not to get attached to my new housemates.

I had, after all, no intention of staying here any longer than I had to. As soon as Wilson stopped checking on me, I’d be gone. And if I had no feelings for them, then Surtur’s people might leave them alone.

If I hadn’t successfully scared them off, but I was sure I hadn’t actually managed it. It had been a nice try, but once they thought about it…

…if they weren’t acting under his orders they might be in trouble. If they were, to isolate me, to coerce me. He needed me willing, but maybe…

No. I was sure there were politics involved here. And sure he did need me to come to him more or less of my own free will. Would I to save Kanesha?


It wouldn’t or at least might not count. The girl’s hair was the same color as my father’s. I’d got mine from my mother.

“Hi,” I said. “I’m Jane.”

“I heard you got burned out.”

I nodded. “Lost pretty much everything I didn’t have at school.”


“I have a bit of money. All I need is directions to the nearest Target or something.” I was sure there was a Target or a Walmart around here somewhere.

She nodded. “I’m Phoebe.” She had freckles across her nose. “Come on. You get the room in the back.”

The smallest, of course. It was cramped, but there was enough space to set stuff down. When I was sure Phoebe wasn’t looking, the sword and the bag containing the horn were slipped under the bed. My book bag I put on it. It was going to be a commute to school when it reopened – they wouldn’t move me mid term, of course.

If I went to school. I couldn’t go back to normal, not when I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t be attacked again.

Don’t get attached, I told myself, as I headed downstairs to the kitchen and glanced in the fridge for unlabeled edibles. I’d had a decent breakfast at Lizbet’s, but I hadn’t had lunch and it was getting close to that time.

“You can have some of my salad,” Phoebe said, generously.

I couldn’t really turn it down. “I’ll pay you back,” I said as I rummaged for salad and dressing. Not the lunch I would have first chosen, but it would do.

Don’t get attached.

Episode Nine: Fairies: Scene 12

The social workers showed up in a mini van and proceeded to take twenty minutes to shoehorn the thing into the only available parking spot.

The woman got out and my worst fears were realized. I knew Patricia Wilson far too well. She was the one who would show up and nag us about our grades.

And she walked right over to Mike. “So, what did you arrest them for?”

Mike folded his arms and I remembered that I’d agreed to let him do the talking. “I was giving them a ride.”

“In a squad car.”

“It’s what I had available.” He met her gaze evenly. “Besides, we’re still investigating the fires…both at the school and at the house.”

“Are they suspects, then?”

“Nah. They have a solid alibi for the house fire – they were at school. And the school fire was probably connected to an earlier incident, and they’re alibi’d for that one too. But I still had to ask them some questions.”

I wondered if Wilson was buying it. She still looked skeptical, but she was one of those women with a permanent skeptical look.

“Then are you done with them?”

Mike considered that. “I’m done with them for questions, but if the house fire turns out to be suspicious, we’ll need them.”

Well, if all he could do was make sure she didn’t think we should go straight to juvie, that was one thing. It didn’t solve the overall situation.

He continued, “Where are you stashing them? We’ll need to know.”

She rattled off two addresses, and my heart sank. She was sending Kanesha into the worst part of Southeast and me to PG County. We’d be in different schools starting the new term…

…and there would be no way I could protect her. Mike mouthed “Trust me” in my direction, then turned back to her, “Alright.”

At least it might take a bit to find them. But Mike…I did trust him. And I knew Thruor and Lizbet could find me. And certainly no question but that my father could.

PG county, though? “PG county? Where, you know, the cops are so incompetent they shot the mayor’s labrador?”

Mike shot me a cops stick with cops look that I knew he didn’t really mean.

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Wilson said, sternly. “Into the car with you. Both of you.”

She dropped Kanesha off in Southeast first. I somehow felt she’d be safer there than some places…unless the people coming after her were really good at faking a black skin.

Then, we drove through the city. I said nothing at all.