Episode Five: Exes: Scene 31

Lugenia was escorted to the bathroom in the same manner. We got back to the van just as two vehicles pulled in – a mini-van full of children, no doubt all asking if they were there yet and a state trooper.

And the van wouldn’t start.

“You ladies had better stay right here if you know what’s good for you.” Two of them were working on the engine. But none of them were in the van.

“I owe you brownies,” I murmured to the air.


“When we get out of this, I’ll make brownies.” I grinned at her. “Maybe even special ones.”


Lugenia wrinkled her nose. “If we could just signal that cop.”

If we opened the door they’d just close it again in our faces, but signaling the cop? They’d left us in the back, but…

“You’re smaller. Can you crawl over the seats?”

“They might see me.”

“You just have to reach the horn. Three short, three long, three short. They don’t want us damaged, remember.”

She got it, eyes brightening, and started to crawl over the seat. My larger frame would have been difficult to fit, but she was the perfect size for this.

Breathe, I thought.

They opened the door almost before she was through the first signal, dragging her out onto the tarmac on the side away from the cops. But the van still wouldn’t start. There was nowhere to run to.

I kicked the back door out, leaping out into the parking lot with such force I had to tuck and roll. Now we had the attention of the cops. And the mini-van family whom I saw out of the corner of my eye stuffing the kids back inside. If they had any sense they’d be gunning it out of here. One of the cops was talking on his radio.

But the cops were outnumbered and outgunned and as the mini-van family left there were no direct witnesses. I could see the headlines now, “Cops shot at highway rest stop.”

Lugenia screamed. I couldn’t help her, though, because no less than three of them were trying to dogpile me. I was beating them off somewhat when I heard a gunshot.

It wasn’t from one of them. The cops had started the shooting, but I hadn’t heard a yelp. Warning shots.

I broke free and ran for the trees. I heard footsteps behind me, spared a look. It was Lugenia.

“Keep running.”

“The cops…”

“They’ll have to look after themselves. Run.”

I heard more shots from behind, but still no yelps. Neither side had hit anyone. But we were away into the…

…yard that backed onto the rest stop. “Lugenia, knock on the door. Tell them we need to use their phone. Get more cops in the situation.”

As she ran for the door, an extremely large dog pounced me and pinned me down.

And proceeded to lick me half to death while Lugenia tried to get us more cops.

The shooting, though, had stopped.

And within ten minutes we were sitting in a nice lady’s living room, drinking hot cocoa and petting her dog. It was, for now, over.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 30

“No, I need to go right now.”

Lugenia glanced at me.

“Pull off. Dammit. Women and their small bladders. Take Jane first.”

He’d given me the dignity of a name, even if it wasn’t my real name. But they were being smart. They weren’t going to take us both to the rest room at the same time. Still, it got me out of the van.
Rest area. North of DC. The route made sense for Baltimore. Far enough? Well, it was technically a different state and they might even have friends there. I actually did need to pee, so I ducked into the restroom. He waited at the door. There was nobody in there except an old granny. I wasn’t going to ask her for help…they’d just kill her…so I did what I needed to do then studied myself in the mirror.

I didn’t look like a kidnap victim. I still looked pretty good, and I suppose I should have been proud of that to some degree. I wasn’t. If I looked dreadful, it was more likely somebody would notice. Ask what was wrong.

Except they had guns. Except this was a rest area. Highway police. If they hadn’t taken my cell phone…

But still. Highway police. I closed my eyes, tried to think.

“How long does it take you!” the man yelled outside.

“Give me a couple.”

No back door. This wasn’t one of those rest stop bathrooms with the multiple entrances. It was the style with the two completely separate areas per gender, so one could stay open while the other was being cleaned. The janitor’s closet was outside.
The granny headed out, and I heard some words between them that caused her to elevate her voice on, “Rude brat!”

He was harassing her, then. Okay. Might be a good thing. I felt utterly trapped, though. Where were fairies and firehounds when I needed them?

Fairies. But I didn’t have anything to attract one. I didn’t even have sugar. But I closed my eyes again and felt a tingling sensation flow through my body, as if something was happening.

And then I felt a brush of air against my cheek. “Sabotage their van for me, would you?” I asked whatever it was.

The only response, though, was silence.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 29

I skidded to a halt. This was the one tactic that would work against me.

“That’s a good girl. Agree to stay with us and I’ll let her go.”

Breathe. I didn’t have any supernatural stuff I could bring into play here. “Too late. Terry called the cops.”

“Then we’ll be gone before they get here.” He signalled to two of the men to take my arms. This time I didn’t fight. I’d got one person out. I could get myself and Lugenia out too, and I doubted she’d argue after this.

Miguel dropped the knife and Lugenia stumbled away from him. “Don’t worry, hon, I wouldn’t have actually done it.”

She didn’t look like she quite believed him, but they were pushing the two of us into an alleyway. There was a van parked out back, a plain one, the plates covered in preparation for nefarious activities.

We didn’t leave right away, though. They locked us in the back, then two of them went to retrieve their friends from the smoke-filled house. All eight were soon back together, some of them with bruises and all of them looking askance at me.

“We don’t have time to beat her right now. Let’s get out of here. The other one…”

“Got clean away. Probably did call the cops. Time for us to blow this joint.”

Who actually used lines like that? I glanced at Lugenia, but didn’t say anything to her. They could hear us, and I would bet they wouldn’t leave me alone at this point. The only reason I was still alive was because one or two of them wanted to rape me. What was it from that TV show?

Sapphire isle. Weight in sapphires. But I didn’t have any such lie to protect me. What did I have?

Loki liked me. Recalling that actually did steady me. What would he do? What would Thea do? They’d be different, but between the two of them I might be able to work out a strategy. The van was moving and they’d pushed us onto the floor. I was fairly sure we wouldn’t even be staying in DC at this point.

Time to move on. Well, at least being kidnapped was a good excuse for missing school. So. We had to take the first opportunity we could and run. No trying to fight them this time. Too many of them.

What opportunities would they give us? I wasn’t even sure where we were going. Virginia or Maryland? North towards New York or west into the mountains? Those were the two best disappear possibilities I could think of. I hoped New York. It would be easier to get away in a city.

Maybe not that far. Baltimore? They might go to Baltimore. Either way, I wouldn’t know until they let us out.

Which they had to do sooner or later. If nothing else, they wouldn’t want urine stench in the van. Which gave me the first part of a plan.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 28

Within five minutes the door was open and two of them were barreling down the stairs.

One of them had a gun. I hadn’t predicted that development, but I did know he wasn’t going to be about to use it. They wouldn’t want to damage the “merchandise,” as it were.

Terry, though, ducked behind the wooden boarding by the stairs. Which wasn’t the best place for her. She’d be best off in the stairwell, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was on the floor, but shifting into their path.

Then I exploded upwards, my fists aimed at the gun. He had been turning to try and cover both of us, but focused on me. It flew into the air and landed on the floor. I hoped Terry would have the presence of mind to grab it, but I wasn’t about to count on any help from her.

Instead, I followed up with a blow to the jaw – and he went right down. The tough guy had a glass jaw. I wasn’t about to laugh, though, because the other one was turning and diving for the gun. I kicked it away from him towards Terry.

“There’s six of us upstairs. You won’t get anywhere.”

I smiled. Just that. I wasn’t about to respond to his threats. Instead, I stepped into him as he reached to grapple me, let him do so, then simultaneously brought my fist into his solar plexus and my knee into his groin.

He groaned and fell to the ground. “Goodbye,” I said, moving to grab Terry, who seemed frozen, and drag her up the stairs.

“Six more!”

“I know. As soon as you get an opportunity run. Find a phone. Call the police.”

The police would only be so much use, but at least I wouldn’t be calling them into a nest of supernaturals this time. I released her as soon as we were up the stairs. The room was smoky, and I saw only two of them in it. They were no better fighters than their friends. Terry bolted for the front door while I dealt with them, and out into the clear air. Even if she didn’t call the cops, at least she was out of the way. As harsh as it might seem, the girl was a liability. So was Lugenia, but I didn’t see her. I pinned the second man to the wall. “Where are the rest?”

“They went out back. Did you do this?”

I just nodded and tossed him to the ground. He scrambled to his feet and then headed for the same exit Terry had taken. Hopefully she was well ahead of him. The smoke was probably ruining everything and it was already beginning to make me cough. Getting out of here struck me as a smart idea, and I glanced at the door myself.

No. Lugenia was here somewhere and I wanted to show her what kind of person Miguel actually was. Instead, I ran into the back yard, seeing shapes through the window before I emerged into light and clean air.

Four men stood there. Front and center was Miguel. He had a knife to Lugenia’s throat.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 27

Terry was only going to be so much help, I assessed, quickly. They did indeed open the door and toss food down to us. Well, not quite toss. It was cooked TV dinners still in the containers. With plastic cutlery.

I assumed it wasn’t drugged…or that if it was I could give them a nasty surprise…and tucked in. Ugh. It was terrible even by, say, school lunch standards. But not drugged. My mind even cleared a little, probably because I’d been hungry. “Okay. You said they…playtime?”

Terry shuddered.

“They’re trying to Stockholm you,” I noted. I meant give her Stockholm syndrome. I wasn’t sure if it was allowed to use it as a verb, but I was anyway. “But…okay. You’re right about the door. I’m fairly sure I can kick it in, but it’s going to be hard from this angle, and we’d have to time it right. However…”

“I tried pretending to be sick.”

“Never works. But we could give them a real thing to worry about.” I started to search the basement again. “There’s a friend of mine in the house, black girl?”

“The whispering mouse of one of them.”

I nodded. “I would bet she doesn’t know you’re down here.”

“She doesn’t. She thinks Danilo walked me home.”

Of course she did. If she found out, it might give her a spine again. Or if she found out acquiescing hadn’t got me out of the situation… That might do it.

I continued my prowl. “Aha.” There was a laundry room. They presumably weren’t using it. From the way they looked, they probably weren’t using any laundry room anywhere. And I found what I wanted.

They had a central HVAC system and it met up in the basement. All I needed was some rags. The filthier the better.

Terry got the idea immediately. We found several dirty old t-shirts one of which seemed to be soiled with machine oil. “You know anything about this?”

She considered. “No, but I know what you’re trying to do. And the heat’s on.”

That would have been a flaw in my plan. I did wish somebody with more mechanical skill was here, but it wasn’t that hard to get the unit open, and there was plenty of heat from the furnace. I tossed the filthy shirts into the edge of the fire, then closed it before the smoke got into the room.

“They’ll have to come down here now. All the way down here, to fix it. Or they’ll leave the building. Either way…”

“Let’s hope they come down here, although…”

“I’ll kick their butt. I promise.”


“I promise.”

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 26

The effect of the drug wore off about halfway to wherever they were taking me. Or I fought it off. It had clearly been a date rape drug, but I was pretty sure it had been intended to last longer.

The advantage of not being human, I thought wryly. I might not have many – I certainly wasn’t as strong as Thea – but I could fight off drugs faster than most. I’d remember that coffee shop and I’d file charges against the barrista as soon as I was out of there. But for now, I wanted to be in there.

Do you want to go down that road?

The road of the trickster. And I felt as if I already had at least one foot on it. Thea would, at this point, be kicking their butts. Well, maybe she’d wait until the car stopped.

I waited. I let them pull me out and drag me into a battered rowhouse, half of the windows boarded up. And take me down into the basement.

They didn’t bother to tie me up, just left me there and closed the door. And locked it. I could deal with that. If all else failed, I’d kick out the hinges. But instead, I looked around. A naked, flickering bulb cast the only light. And there was somebody else in here.

Another girl. A brunette, about my age, very fair skin to contrast with her dark hair. She looked up at me.

“Hush.” I moved over to her. “I’m going to get us out of here.”

“How? They only unlock the door to pretty much throw food in here. Or to take me to…play with.”

“I’m smarter than they are.” Which given I’d just been drugged and kidnapped seemed stupid, but I knew it was true. Besides, it sounded good. “I could have got away. I didn’t because I wanted to see who else they had.”

She nodded. “I’ve tried to break the door down. It’s reinforced and it’s real hard to get any force onto it from down here.”

“You know to kick the hinges end, right?”

“Yeah. I’ve watched the right movies.” She laughed weakly. “I’m Terry.”

“Jane. Okay. There’s two of us now. They’ll toss food down here, you said?”

She nodded.

“So…” I looked at the stairs. They had been open, but they’d boarded up one side of them, so I couldn’t hang off them then launch upwards when they opened the door.

Probably exactly so somebody couldn’t do that. Which made a narrow tunnel, and there was no way to approach them without being seen. I looked up. That wasn’t going to work either.

Ignoring Terry for now, I stood up and prowled. There were two window openings, but they were too narrow to squeeze out of. Even a raven couldn’t fit.

And, of course, I was unarmed. This was a fix I’d got myself into, but it was one I could get myself out of.

I knew that for sure.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 25

Loki’s behavior bothered me. Too straightforward. Too nice. Could it have been somebody else pretending to be him?

Did gods get sick? But he’d seemed concerned that I wanted to learn illusions, or perhaps concerned that I might…

…remember things I wasn’t supposed to remember. Or make some irrevocable choice. Choice. Nature. Maybe mine wasn’t set yet. Or, maybe, he was making excuses for his own choices by saying they came purely out of who he was.

Or did they? Troubled, I walked away myself in the opposite direction, rounded a corner, and ducked into a coffee shop. I ordered basic coffee, that being about all I could afford, or at least all I wanted to spend money on. I thought I felt eyes on me, but whoever was watching was out of sight.

In imminent danger. Was the guy planning on trying to rape me? Or kidnap me and stockholm-syndrome me into wanting him? The second seemed rather more likely. More in the style of a guy like him.

It appeared to have worked on Lugenia, after all. I took my coffee, and sipped at it.

I frowned, then set it down. “I don’t think this is quite right?”

The barrista had, though, vanished into the back room. But I knew the coffee didn’t taste quite right.

I glanced around. I saw a couple of Miguel’s friends, including the one who said he’d take me for his come in, and I felt…dizzy.

I “accidentally” knocked the rest of the coffee to the floor, hoping that I hadn’t actually consumed enough of whatever they’d bribed the barrista to put in it to cause significant effects. Apparently I had, though, because I found myself falling.

Oh no. Some stupid date rape drug was not going to get me. I wasn’t even human. They couldn’t do this to me. That gave me a bit of clarity, but I still wasn’t able to move. He scooped me up in his arms as if I weighed nothing and carried me out the door. There was nothing I could do until this wore off or I was able to burn it out of my system somehow. Whatever it was…but I knew that I’d be unconscious if I wasn’t fighting it, or lost in some kind of drug-haze, a waking dream that threatened to surround me with raven’s wings.

If I mentally called for help, would any of them hear? But Loki had warned me, and then left. And spoken frankly. Which meant…maybe his odd behavior had been an additional warning.

I wasn’t going to be able to get free. Instead, I closed my eyes, let myself go limp. I felt myself being shoved into the back of a car and the two of them hopped in the front.

I’d let them take me and then catch them off guard later. And maybe find out something that would help us get Lugenia out of this mess.

Maybe they had her on something too…

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 24

“Ha. She told you it wasn’t her style?” Loki leaned back on the park bench he was sitting on.

“Let me guess. She’s no good at it.”

He nodded. “No better than her father. Both of them have always needed help not to be bulls in china shops.”

I shook my head. “But you could potentially teach it to me?” Asking him did feel like taking a step to his side, and I remembered the raven. In my mind it looked down its beak at me disapprovingly. This, though, could be useful.

“If you want to go down that road.”


He shrugged. “You know what I am.”

“By choice or just by nature?”

He lifted his hands. “How can you ever know which is which? How do you know you’re choosing to do something as opposed to just being who you are?”

I considered that. “If it’s a difficult choice, then it’s a choice.”

“Good one.”  A pause. “I can teach you. I won’t even attach any strings to it. But Thea…”

“Thea didn’t seem too disapproving.” Which probably proved he was right about her not being any good at it as opposed to ethically opposed. “I think she saw my point. Besides…that bike of hers.”

He laughed again. “Oh yes, the bike.” Amusement shone in his hazel eyes. “I think you should think about it.”

“You aren’t going to push me into anything? Like say handing over horns?”

“Not this time.” He stood up. “Jane…be careful.”

“From you?”

“I know something of what might happen, sometimes. Not as much as Odin does, but glimpses. You are in immediate danger, so, be careful.”

“Danger of what?”

“Falling afoul of a male who has his mind on only one thing.”

“I can handle him.” I knew who he meant.

“I know you can, but you still should be careful. Even the weakest can bring us down if we aren’t paying attention. Or get cocky.”

“From you?”

He laughed and then just turned away. As he walked away, he seemed to get older. Or, perhaps, it was a trick of the light.


Episode Five: Exes: Scene 23

Now that was a trick I could wish for I thought as I slipped away. I continued to think it for a while afterwards.

Odin had stepped in, but not to protect me. To protect the mundanes. I knew that was the reality of it. That they could not see anything quite that blatant. I wondered just how much trouble Thea’s ex was going to be in.

A lot. I didn’t imagine that pissing off Odin was a good career move, or even particularly good for one’s life expectancy. And, from the stories, Odin could be very creative when it came to punishing people who annoyed him.

Very creative indeed. But I still wished I could just wipe people’s memories. Or maybe casually make them not notice things like, oh, guns or swords I might be carrying. I went straight to Thea’s apartment.

“What happened?”

“Your ex got himself in jail and then teleported out. Odin had to send Munin to cover it up.”

Thea rolled her eyes. “Oh dear. The Old Man is not going to be happy at all.”

“Hopefully he’ll be not happy to the point of the guy not bothering you again for a few centuries.”

“Let’s hope so. Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” Physically, I was. And envying the power of somebody like Odin wasn’t healthy, so I made an effort to set those thoughts to one side. I would never be like him, in any way, shape or form, so I wasn’t going to try. I was just going to be me.

“Good. Wishing you could teleport?”

“Nah. Wishing I could make people casually not notice any weapons I might happen to be carrying,” I admitted. “Like your…’bike’.”

“That’s her ability, not mine,” Thea noted.

“Yeah, I figured. Still…I just want to have a sword when I need one.”

“That’s not…entirely impossible. It’s not my style…I’m my father’s daughter, but you might be able to learn a similar trick from the right person.”

Unfortunately, the only person I could think of to ask was Loki. The idea of being indebted to him bothered me more than I wanted to admit. Actually, it bothered me a lot.

It must have shown on my face, because Thea reached into her fridge and pulled out some chocolate fudge ice cream, serving both of us a small bowl.

Chocolate was the cure for all bad moods. But I was still lingering on the thought. Did I ask Loki to teach me or not?

Would that constitute taking his side? Would it upset the balance? I couldn’t see how, except that it might make him hopeful. On the other hand, he already was.

I set it to one side for now and tried my best to enjoy my ice cream in peace.

Episode Five: Exes: Scene 22

“Well, that got interesting.”

I sighed. Cop station again, but sitting opposite the cop who had helped me. “It did.”

“You need to stop making a habit of showing up here.”

I quirked my lips. “It’s not intentional, believe me.” It wasn’t, either, not at this point. But I was showing up at the police station.

“You just have friends with bad taste in men.”

I shook my head. “She has perfectly good taste. He’s mad because she turned him down and proving she was right to do it.”

Thea never had shown up, perhaps deciding the riot was going to take care of things for her. The two fire giants and the wannabe were all in lockup. I doubted they’d still be there in the morning.
The cop laughed. “Okay, I was starting to question your taste in friends.”

I wanted to say Lue wasn’t my friend because, really, she wasn’t. She was just…somebody who needed my help. But I didn’t. “People make mistakes. So, do you know some sort of martial art.”

He blushed. “Not exactly. I worked it out myself. It’s surprisingly useful for intimidation and I’d rather intimidate than fight.”

“The uniform helps with that.”

“Or just makes me a target, depending.” He shrugged a bit. “Not much I can do about it. I’ll always be a target, unless I go detective, and I don’t know that I want to.”

I decided I liked him. His name was Mike. Mike Potts. I’d remember that name. Not for anything romantic; he was too old for me and, in any case, that wasn’t on the cards. But I’d remember it. And hope he never got involved again.

“What the..?” A yell from the lockup.

“What?” Mike yelled back, standing up.

“The three guys you booked in. They’re gone.”

They hadn’t even made the effort to wait until people were asleep or occlude it. “What?” I managed, hoping I faked surprise well enough.


“Just vanished. We have no clue how.”

I frowned. This had to be covered up, somehow, even if they were my enemies. I felt raven wings brush against my cheek and nodded. Then while Mike wasn’t looking, I got up and slipped out.



None of them would remember what had happened. Although I suspected my presence would still be recalled.