Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 30

I already had the gun out. I dropped behind the bike, popping one off back at him as I did so.

I didn’t want to hit Kanesha. If there were people on the street they were doing the sane thing and running in the opposite direction. The thing I badly wanted to do myself. At the same time I wanted to fight him and I wanted him dead.

Maybe that was the thrum through me, but no. It wasn’t just wanting, and it wasn’t necessarily him. Perhaps some instinct was telling me that at this point, at this juncture, it was him or me.

If he died it would be murder. If they caught me…then I’d have to disappear from my cell somehow.

They couldn’t hold me. In that moment I actually felt for the first time as if I was a goddess – above human law and human rules.

Except as I chose to follow them. Which I did. I would not kill him unless he gave me no choice. “Mr. Clem. Let’s not have this end this way. Let her go.”

Instead, he did what I should have expected…emerged from the van using her as a shield. She was limp in his arms, but I knew, could tell, she was faking it. She was waiting for her moment and I was going to give her that moment, if I could.
“She’s mine. I thought about what you said, but no white chica is going to convince me Kanesha isn’t mine. And once you’re dead, I’ll claim her fully.”

I knew what he intended to do and a raw sense of anger came all the way through me for a moment. They talk about seeing red? I literally did.

Kanesha’s eyes snapped open. “Jane. Don’t.”

It helped. I knew what was in me, though, and that if I let it out. “Back down if you want to live.”

“You won’t risk killing her.”

“Maybe I would rather than let you do that to her.”

I was aware now of somebody behind me. Crap. A witness. Well, hopefully he hadn’t seen me shoot the tire. If he hadn’t, then all he could speak to was that I’d pulled a gun on somebody who was shooting at me, something that cops tended to turn a blind eye towards even if the gun was illegal.

Oh, they’d take the gun, but…I could find another one. I didn’t turn around. But there was a quiet voice from behind me.

“I’m sorry.”


Mr. Clem snarled and reached for his gun…and at that point, Kanesha stepped hard on his foot and twisted free, running. I had a clear shot now. I had every justification in taking it.
Self defense. I could get away with murder, but I hesitated.

And as I hesitated, a bullet whipped past me from behind. It struck Mr. Clem in the throat and he went down.

Dammit. “That was not how this was supposed to end.” I still didn’t turn around. I didn’t even want to see who had done it.

All I wanted to do was make sure Kanesha was okay and that he hadn’t touched her, hadn’t done that to her.

I didn’t want anyone to touch her that way. Anyone but me…

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 29

From the bike, Southeast was different. White girl on foot got suspicious looks and sized up for mugging.

White girl on bike got people closing curtains. They couldn’t even see the gun. Or maybe it was something about my face.

“Find Mr. Clem,” I whispered, and the fyrhund streaked ahead of me. I didn’t dare send it to find Kanesha, it might eat her. If it ate Mr. Clem? That would solve all of our problems. The bike followed…I wasn’t even steering her at this point, just crouched over the handlebars, actually feeling the mane flowing into my face. And knowing I knew how to ride not just a horse, but a horse like this. The gun was heavy…I should have brought the sword too, but I hadn’t wanted Wilma to touch it, hadn’t wanted anyone to touch it.

Or maybe I felt that if she did she would be pulled in, and she would be dead. She wouldn’t last five minutes in this world.
The fyrhund swung down a side street and I clung to the bike as I followed, feeling as if I was about to take off into the air. Feeling, perhaps, like those who rode with the Wild Hunt felt. Free. Dangerous.
Feeling as if somebody was going to die tonight. Perhaps not at my hands, but there was death in the air. There was death in the fire that streaked backwards around me, and people saw it, sensed it, backed away except for one young man who got ahead of me, pointed his gun, fired and missed, then scrambled to the side before I could hit him.

Protecting his turf, his people. I could almost see that, almost see what he was. Remembered his face.

He was one for Mike’s head start program. He was one who could not just get out of here but be something for them on the outside, but I had to keep moving. I had to find Kanesha.

Find Kanesha and Mr. Clem. And the fyrhund was running faster. They were on the move, I knew. Some kind of vehicle.

Then I saw it. He’d got an old VW camper, painted puke green. I winced. You can get away with colors on VW campers or bugs you can’t on other cars, but that shade of green belonged nowhere outside of somebody’s stomach. The plates, of course, were obscured.

I whistled, and the fyrhund dropped back to run next to my rear wheel. What next? Shoot out the tires?

Somebody was going to die. I sensed that again. It thrummed through me. I pulled the gun from its holster and fired.

Hit the rear tire square on, the van squealing and then spinning sideways.

“Let her go,” I said, not dismounting, not moving. I hoped in that moment he saw the reality…a blonde woman on a grey horse, with a dog made of fire at her side.


He tried to shoot me.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 28

I knew Thea knew I had taken the bike. The bike knew I had taken the bike, but whatever mind or mentality it had, it was with me. It knew this was a true emergency. Sensed it from me, perhaps, the sense of urgency that flowed through me.

Why had she called me, not the cops? Or maybe she had called both, but she was at home, or had been when she’d made the call. Help. Home. The only words she’d been able to get out.

Had been when she’d made the call. Wasn’t now. The fyrhund. I needed it right now, the only asset I had that could track her down, but I wasn’t sure where the beast was.

No, it was there, running next to me. I’d called it, somehow, without knowing I had. It liked me, but it couldn’t be trusted. The bike didn’t seem to trust it either, it felt like it shied away a little.

“Easy girl,” I murmured. For a moment, it felt like a horse again, running on swift hooves across the pavement, but all anyone would see was a girl on a bike, gunning it through an alleyway, between cars. Fastest way to get across a city. And knowing you wouldn’t wreck, knowing that what was under you wasn’t a dumb machine?

I went even faster, squealing to a halt outside the house.

It wasn’t Kanesha who came out. It was Wilma, the quiet one, whom I almost never spoke to. “Oh my…oh my…where did you get the bike?”

“It’s a friend’s. Where’s Kanesha?”

“Her old man grabbed her.”

“Dammit.” Where would he have taken her? “She should have hit him in the balls.”

“She did. Bastard was wearing a cup.”

Of course he was. Mr. Clem…which wasn’t even Kanesha’s last name…would take precautions like that. “Wilma, can you do one thing for me?”

She nodded.

“There’s a gun under my bed. Get it for me. Wear gloves, just in case.”

Her eyes widened at the mention of the illegal weapon, then she vanished inside, retrieving it after a moment. Wearing gloves.

“Good. Now stay here…”

“Are you going to shoot him?”

“Probably not, but he doesn’t need to know that.”

I knew she wouldn’t tell the cops I had it. She was, though, pale and shaking her hands as if the weapon had contaminated her. “There’s chocolate ice cream in the freezer.”

I couldn’t suggest alcohol, not when she was no older than I was, but I could give her my ice cream. It was about all I could do. Then I turned the bike towards Southeast.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 27

Father William went off to set up whatever he planned on making them think the book was being moved. Which apparently included hiring an actual armored car.

Using the funds of the Catholic church.

To help a valkyrie…maybe two valkyries…and a teenaged demon hunter trap three demons. Oh, and a cop. Who was Protestant. And I still wasn’t convinced Loki wouldn’t show up. It was a walk into a bar joke waiting to happen. I still couldn’t believe we’d gotten Father William in on this.

While he was busy, I filled Seb in on the situation. “First of all, we communicate with each other…as long as we’re in this city, we make sure we know about each other’s ops.”

He nodded. “Actually…yeah. And maybe I can help again.”

“Maybe you can. Where did you get the holy water?”

“I borrowed it from the cathedral.”

“Next time, ask Father Will. I’m pretty sure he’d oblige.”

“I didn’t know anyone would. My dad…well…he wasn’t hunting here, he was hunting in New York and when he…died…I had to come here and live with my mom.”

“Who doesn’t have to know about this. Don’t worry.” I almost asked what got him, but it was clearly a sore point, not one to be pressed on for curiosity or even for the desire to avoid the same fate. Later, I told myself, firmly.

“Thanks. She would give me the Irish Catholic guilt trip.”

I laughed. “Oh dear. A fate worse than dealing with demons.” Even if I was a bit jealous. I had, after all, no clue who my mother was nor any memory of her.

“But…” He paused. “I have the Sight.”

I nodded. “I kind of figured. You can spot demons at a distance. So can I, but it’s always good to have a second person.”

“You’re not a demon, but you’re a something. So’s Thea. The same something, almost.”

Almost? I nodded. “Yes. But don’t worry. We aren’t after your soul or anything.”

“I figured not, although I’d almost…” He glanced where Thea had left to.

“She’s good crush material, isn’t she?” I grinned.

“You too?”

He probably assumed it was a girl crush not the romantic/sexual kind. I wasn’t about to correct that impression. I didn’t know how he…or Father William…would react, but they’d likely tell me the only moral thing to do was to date boys.

Again with the having to choose. Then my cell phone rang. “Excuse me.”

It was Kanesha, I knew from the ring tone. “Help,” was all she said, then I heard noise in the background.

She was supposed to call 911, not me, I thought angrily as I rushed outside. How did I get there?

Thea’s bike was parked outside. I was pretty sure that was the only way.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 26

Seb turned out to be exactly what he claimed to be. A nervous, Italian-looking kid who knew something about demon hunting.

“I’m sorry. I thought…”

“Honestly, they were going after souls in there,” Thea told him. “But we had a plan to get rid of them for an extended period. They won’t fall for it twice, so we need a new one.”

I paused. “You know. That fyrhund’s still around. Wonder if I could bribe it to track them for us.”

Thea frowned. “You can’t trust those things, even if that one does seem to like you.”

“Got a better idea?” I admit I gave Seb a challenging look. He’d screwed up one sting, he owed us help coming up with a new one.

Unfortunately, he just looked kinda flustered and looked away. I noticed it wasn’t so much me he was trying not to look at as Thea. Probably a crush coming on.

“I have an idea,” Father William said. “We find something else they can’t resist, and it just occurred to me.”

“What did?”

“There’s a copy of the Black Book in the cathedral library. If it were to somehow appear outside the wards.”

“What if they got it?” Thea frowned.

“Oh, I don’t plan on actually moving it. Just making them think it’s going to be moved.”

“What’s the Black Book?” I demanded, and got odd looks from everyone except Mike. Including Seb. Clearly, it was something I was supposed to know.

“It’s a book that supposedly contains the true names of many of the more powerful demons. You need that to banish them. So, of course, every demon has a standing order to destroy any copy they can find.”

I nodded. “Okay. So…yeah. But no moving the actual book. Please.” I had this feeling we’d want that book.

Sooner or later. Probably sooner.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 25

Or not an idiot. Apparently, I wasn’t the only demon hunter in the area, because holy water in the sprinkler system?

Hadn’t been part of the plan. Not that I was going to do anything to protect the succubus. She shrieked, glared at me, then vanished before I could tell her this one wasn’t me. The non-demons were, of course, pouring out the doors.

I was heading towards the employee-only door, determined to find out who had ruined our sting before they got away. They were probably useful to know, because I was wishing I had thought of holy water in the sprinkler system. Then again, I had a feeling it hadn’t got rid of them for long.

The door led to a narrow breezeblock corridor. On one side were dressing rooms for bands and other performers. Down the other, I saw a masculine figure running for the fire exit.

I took a gamble that this was the perpetrator (or Martin) and took off after him. I caught up with him as he stepped out into the alleyway outside.

“Was that your genius idea?”

He turned to face me. Blinked. “What?”

“The sprinkler system. If it wasn’t you, tell me, but I do have ways of determining the truth.” Not that I exactly did – right now, Thea had the horn in her purse, which was larger.

He narrowed his eyes. “Huh. You’re not a demon.”

I brushed the adulterated water off my arm. “Nope. We’re on the same side, but we seem to have crossed each other. I’m Jane.”

“Seb,” he introduced. I wasn’t sure from his appearance which form of Sebastian it might be short for.

“So. Are you a demon hunter or just?”

“My dad was…a demon hunter.” He tailed off. “I just…”

“You did the right thing. Not your fault we were trying to corner them for an exorcism.” At that point, Father William came out of the building, looking uncomfortable.

“They got away,” the priest said…he was wearing a plain suit and no dog collar.

“I know. This is the guy that interrupted. I reckon we should keep him around so he doesn’t do it again.”

Seb was starting to look worried.

“Don’t worry. You’re just going to come to our war council and listen.” A kid. He was no older than I was and trying to do grownup work without grownup help. Everything rang true and we could always test him with the horn once we were off the streets.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 24

I was actually glad Kanesha was busy “studying” – also known as working on her dad – when the time we had set aside to stake out the club came. I felt oddly protective of her. Of course, if her dad found out how close I’d come to kissing her a couple of times, he’d certainly want her out of my life.

Complications. Complications I wouldn’t let happen, even if I did want to feel her lips against mine. Even if I did wonder what she tasted like.

It wouldn’t happen, and I steeled myself against it. Thruor had helped me with suitable garb…that would allow me to fit in without feeling naked and I did have to remember that I was, at least legally, underage. Jailbait. I copied her attitude as best I could as we walked into the club. As had happened before, nobody asked for my ID or checked my age and I had a feeling I’d be fine as long as I didn’t order a drink.

“Well, we’re in luck. Target one, by the bar.”

I followed her gaze and nodded. It was one of the pair of succubi, and she was definitely going for the almost-naked look. “The one only wearing black lingerie.”

“More or less.”

“Definitely her.” She looked different, but I felt that vortex, and it seemed like little bits of people were being pulled into it along with little bits of the light. Not that there was much in here. What there was seemed calculated to cause epilepsy in the susceptible.

Not being susceptible, I circulated through the crowd, looking for her wingman. I spotted her in a corner practically having sex standing up with a middle-aged man who was probably a banker. I contemplated how to rescue him, moved over to the bar and bought a drink.

I wasn’t carded for that either, but it was fine. I had no intention of actually drinking it. Making my way awkwardly (I was wearing pretty high heels) over, I casually tripped over something or the floor, and dumped the entire thing on Banker Guy. He was even wearing a pin-stripe suit, although he’d taken off his shirt. Weird.
Cursing me at some length, he staggered towards the bathroom. “Smooth,” the demoness said. “You know, I was only after a bit of fun.”

“And his soul,” I murmured. “You don’t fool me at all. None of you do.” I wasn’t as upset as I might have been. But her eyes smouldered red-orange. I hadn’t wanted to blow my cover, but…

“Oh, come on. You’ve been hanging out with Tyr too much or something. Loosen up, Aesir-girl.”

She sounded a bit like Martin…but then, they hung out together. And he was the one who didn’t seem to be there. Or maybe he was better disguised. “You don’t know me at all if you think I hang out with Tyr.” Heck, to my knowledge, I’d never met him.

“Then loosen up. Have some fun. There’s a guy over there who might be your speed.”

I was careful not to take my eyes off her as I glanced past her. Huh. Somebody was using a fake ID, for sure. Then I turned back towards her. “How do you know I’m into guys?”

She laughed and relaxed. That was key. If she thought I wasn’t here to bust her… “Well, I could also be whatever guy…or girl…you wanted. And your soul’s in no danger, after all.”

That was a bit of news. And I didn’t think she was lying. “Well, how about we…”

…and some idiot set off the sprinkler system.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 23

I went to check on Kanesha at lunch. She was pale and wan and pushing her food around her plate.

“What’s wrong?”

“They told me that even though he doesn’t have custody, he still has to sign the emancipation papers. A social worker can’t do it. And the custody trial date has been set for right before Thanksgiving.”

“We’ve got almost a month to think of something then. I know a cop who might have some ideas. Or Thea might.”

“The social worker told me I might as well pack. But he can’t actually stop me from going to college.”

“Maybe it’s a good thing that he’s broke. He wouldn’t have any money to help you with anyway.”

Could magic fix this? I didn’t think so. Or at least not in any ethical manner.

“He can’t stop me, but he can make me have to wait a year, and that doesn’t help with scholarships unless you spend it traveling or something.”

I nodded. “Okay. So, spend it volunteering. Can he stop you from doing that? There’s plenty of places that could give you hours.”

She hrmed. “While I’m under his roof.”

“He’s not going to be able to stay where he is. That place…no social worker would let him keep a kid there.”

“He’s found a new place. And it’s rent controlled.”

I whistled. “Those are like gold.”

“And he doesn’t get it without dependents.”

“Crap. Well, you aren’t going to be his key to a better life at your expense.”

“Maybe I should be. I mean, I could live with him and go to one of the DC schools and everything would work out if he didn’t think college was a waste of time for girls.”

I considered that. “And he’d lose the place as soon as you aren’t a dependent any more.”

“Can push that to 25 if needed.” She sighed. “If he’d only…”

“I’d say we should introduce him to Thea, but she’s white too. He did seem like he might be willing to listen to me, though. I vote we keep working on him. If he won’t sign the papers…then…”

“Unless he gets himself thrown back in jail.”

I privately thought that was more likely, the way he’d acted towards her. “If you’re around him, 911 on speed dial.”

She rolled her eyes at me. “Always.”

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 22

It was a mixed crowd that settled down in the hall of St. Jacob’s. The priest, Father William. Mike, out of cop uniform. Me. Thruor.
All we needed, I thought, was a friendly vampire or Loki. Fortunately, the latter didn’t show up. Or unfortunately. I was sure he’d have some good ideas. Or just spike the cupcakes with cayenne. Or laxatives.

But still, how often did we have a Catholic priest and a valkyrie in the same room? Eating cupcakes?

“Okay. So…can your other friend come?”
“She’s having a family crisis.” Kanesha was studying up a storm and reading up on emancipation, and trying to work out if her income was up to it. “Maybe it’s also something somebody here could help with.”

Mike might even have some advice. And he spoke up. “Oh?”

“Her old man got out of jail. She doesn’t want to go back and live with him because he won’t let her go to college ’cause she’s a girl.”

“Oh. Got it. I’ll think on it…but the demons are likely to be eating souls, so…”

He was right. This crisis was more important than Kanesha’s. I put aside the highly unworthy thought that it might be fun to feed Mr. Clem to the succubi. Which it might be. But… “I’d feed them his, if he had one and if I didn’t think he’d give them indigestion.”

Thruor laughed. She knew I was joking. Mostly.

“No feeding any souls to demons,” Father William said, sternly. “Okay. The trick is to get them in a good location. Ideally together. I have a feeling they can communicate.”

“So do I,” I found myself saying. “They’re likely to be holing up during the day and then coming out when the clubs open, right?”

“Hrm. Maybe we could get a club owner on board,” Mike mused. “Somebody with a basement.”

Thruor grinned. “Or a dungeon.”

Father William looked uncomfortable.

“No, it’s a good idea,” Mike said. “They’re going to be attracted to that kind of thing. Drawn to it.” He let his shoulders slump. “Easy pickings.”

“I last saw them in a…toy store…” I admitted. I was almost uncomfortable talking about it as poor William, who was now approximately the color of his communion wine.

“I know just the place. And relax. These people won’t put any pressure on anyone to join in on play time.”

I just didn’t want to know any of the details of play time, but they were right. A place like that would draw succubi like nothing else. And my presence would draw Martin.

This might actually work.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 21

“Not often a kid seeks me out.” Mike leaned across the table. Small cafe. Opposite the cop shop. Good donuts.

That was a cliche there. The good donuts. I munched on one. “I don’t even know how to start on this. But…do you believe in demons? Not the demon rum or whatever but actual, literal demons.”

He paused, then nodded. “You know. I’ve been on the streets for twenty years. I’ve seen things that I haven’t wanted to remember and probably things I haven’t remembered. We had a vampire hanging around the Black Cat a few years back. A real for true blood sucking vampire. We don’t talk about these things. We’re keeping people safe. But some of that excessive force you hear about…”

I let out a breath. “Three demons. Two of them are succubi. I’m less sure on the third one. I have a priest handy, but…”

“You need to set a trap for them.” He studied me. “The third one.”

“Male. Wants in my pants. For the challenge, I think.”

“Statutory rape.”

“Possibly. He seems to be whatever age he wants.” I elected right then not to tell Mike I was anything but a girl who’d got pulled into this stuff.
“So, this is what’s going on with you. That big blonde you hang out with’s a Hunter, isn’t she?”

I paused, because it wasn’t quite true, then nodded.

“You should still think about what I said. Like I said, you’d be surprised how much we cops know about the real world.”

My lips quirked. “Some of you probably know more than I do.”

“And I think I have a good idea of how to trap a couple of succubi. They’re not the smartest, from what I know. No direct experience, but… One thing to remember. Succubi and Incubi are the same thing. They…”

“…change sex depending on their target. Got it. That makes sense.” I should have thought of it. Or maybe remembered it, but I wasn’t sure.

There was no guarantee I’d ever known anything about demon hunting. But my instincts had led me to the right man. I just hoped he wouldn’t get hurt.

I rather liked Mike. He was another antidote to all the jerky XYs out there, another breath of fresh air. And it was nice to know that there were some good cops in town. Something else I’d often wondered, especially when Kanesha or Lugenia had complained about yet another black kid being arrested for something a white kid could have got away with.

“Right. But once they’re locked onto somebody, they’ll do stupid stuff to get to them. They’re hyper-aware of the location of churches, though. They know that somebody will run into one.”

I considered that. “And Christians don’t do temporary consecration like witches do.”

“Maybe we could use a witch as well.”

“I know a couple,” I thought out loud. “I’ll talk to them. Depends on whether the Father will work with them.”

“Always the question.”

No real rivalries. I stored that comment up in my mind. It wasn’t the gods that fought but their followers? Maybe.