Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 20

I bumped into Martin again outside an adult store. He looked closer to 21 than 16 now and was flanked by two women dressed like Thruor on one of her modeling gigs.

Succubi. I wasn’t stupid. “You brought friends.”

He grinned, then shrugged, “Just out for a bit of fun.”

“I know how that kind of fun ends.”

“Oh, come on. They aren’t going to eat anyone’s souls.”

I shook my head. “Well, with them, you don’t need to be trying to get into my pants.”

“Oh, I don’t know. You looked at yourself in the mirror lately?”

“I’ll take that as a compliment, but…” The two women made me uncomfortable, exuding a kind of raw sexuality that wasn’t…right.

“Oh, it’s them you don’t want to hang out with. Why don’t the two of you go have some fun?” Both women detached themselves from him and wandered into the store. Did demons need to buy toys?

Maybe they were figuring that the customers would be easy prey. Which was possibly true. “So, what’s with the lady friends?”

He shrugged. “Protection from the next fomori who decides that demon hunting is fun. Fortunately, his banishment spell wasn’t very good.”

Ah, so that was what the ugly giant was. I stored it up for later research. “Or unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint.”

“Oh, come on.”

“You’re hot, but I don’t trust you.” That was honesty.

“Good.” He stretched. “Sure you don’t want to come play?”

“Statutory rape.”

“Like you’re really sixteen,” was all he said, turning to walk away.

That I didn’t know about. I felt sixteen. At least I seemed to have all the same confusions and hormones and fluctuations as the other sixteen-year-old girls around me. If my age was measured differently in years it wasn’t measured differently in maturity.

And neither was his, but he could always make himself look sixteen again, then he wouldn’t be arrested. But I wasn’t going to sleep with him anyway. No. But if I could convince him…it was the best way to trick him into a proper banishment spell. I needed to work out what to do about those succubi, though. I wasn’t exactly going to stake out Barry as bait for them. I needed a guy who could take care of himself.

And my thoughts went right to the cop, Mike. Asking for his help might get more pressure on me to join head start, but…

He could handle them, he could fight, and I had a feeling he knew a bit of what was going on. At least as much as Prue did. Using anyone as bait was awkward, but I couldn’t see another alternative. Unless I convinced them to go after me, but that would, I thought, cool Martin’s ardor.
Which if we were going to trap him…

I couldn’t see any other choice.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 19

St. Jacob’s was, despite the very English name, a very Spanish church. I looked at the mass times and decided the best time to catch the priest was after the late mass and before, hopefully, he headed for lunch. Uncomfortable with the idea of being there during the actual service, I slipped in as people left and saw him, in a plain cassock, talking to a couple of women. I waited for them to move away before approaching.

“Can I help you, my child?”

“Can I talk…privately?” He’d probably think I needed counseling or something, and I tried to keep that sort of tone in my voice, for public consumption.

Maybe I did need counseling, but I knew what a Catholic priest would say. He’d say that I should turn away from unnatural desires for other women.

In other words, choose. I wasn’t going down that road, at least not yet. “Of course.”

There was a small room off the church. Not the vestry, but an office of sorts. “So, what is wrong?”

“This is going to sound crazy, but I need an exorcist.”

He studied me with a sudden intensity. “You do? Not for yourself…”

“Oh, it’s…not like that. He’s not possessing anyone. He’s…uh…”

“…and I get dragged in again. I’m going to spray holy water in his face.”

He didn’t specify who. I knew who he meant. “I wouldn’t think he would know any priests.”

The priest laughed. “You’d be surprised. You’d be surprised how many of us know monotheism is crock. But acknowledging somebody’s existence isn’t the same thing as worshipping them. So, Loki sent you to me.”

“He sent me to your church. For help dealing with a demon that wants to get in my pants. I’m sorry.”

He sighed, sitting down. “I really thought I was well clear of all of this and could just tend to my flock, but I suppose you never really get out.”

“I know I won’t.” I wasn’t about to tell him anything about my own identity. “But then…I’m not sure I want to.”

“Probably the best way to be. Not sure you want to. That way you won’t wish for a normal life quite as much. Okay. I can do an exorcism, but we’d need to lure the demons into it.”

I nodded. “Well, the one who wants in my pants, that’s easy enough. I don’t mind being bait.”

“Be careful with that.”

“Oh, I won’t let him actually, you know, but…honestly, that’s why I want to get rid of him. That and demon fun…generally ends with somebody getting killed.”

“And somebody losing their soul.” That had the tone of a warning.

But I was able to answer confidently, “Mine’s safe.”

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 18

Making up with Barry helped. Kanesha’s dad was the more scary aspect. And then there was Loki. Who showed up right after my shoot…with cayenne.

“Oh, for…”

He grinned. “I thought you might have a use for it. Besides, needed to warn you about something.”

I nodded. “What’s on the loose?”

“Your demon friend is back, for starters. He has the serious hots for you.”

I blushed. “Don’t worry, he won’t get anywhere.”

“Best not to. The Old Man wouldn’t approve, and he has his ways of making relationships he doesn’t approve of extremely awkward.”

I envisioned raven eyes through bedroom windows and laughed a bit. “I don’t know about relationships. So, just him?”

“He brought friends. They aren’t as nice.” Loki turned serious for him. “They won’t hurt you, but I don’t know about anyone else. They’re out to have fun, and demon fun always ends with somebody getting killed.”

My lips quirked, “And your fun?”

He just held up one finger and I shook my head. “Cayenne in the brownies.”

“Nobody was hurt.”

“Me being blamed for cayenne in the brownies,” I pointed out. “You in the reflecting pool.”

He mock backpedaled. “You wouldn’t do that to little me.”

“Yes. Yes I would.” And that was despite the fact that I liked him and felt attached to him. I’d still push him in there given half a chance.

“Mean woman. Here I am doing you a favor.” He grinned.

“I’ll watch out for them. Should I track down an exorcist?”

“Not many priests know how to do that any more. Check the Catholic churches, that’s your best chance. But it’s a bit of a neglected art. Unfortunate.”

“Not worried they’ll exorcise you?”

He laughed and turned around to walk backwards as I headed home. “Wouldn’t work. I’m not a demon.”

“If you’ve ever put anything in communion wine…”

“Oh, what a good idea.” He laughed again, then turned around the proper way. “Don’t worry. There are certain rules…but…hrm.”

I knew I wasn’t really giving him ideas. I mean, he had to have all of them in his very makeup as God of Mischief, but… “Just not when I’m trying to get a priest to help me.”

“Try St. Jacob’s,” he said, and then apparently saw something shiny in a nearby store and darted off like a cat with ADHD.

What was I to do with him?

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 17

“He was nice?”

I nodded. “He was. I think he might have been mildly stoned, though. That and trying to use me against you.”

“Oh, I’m sure he was stoned. He’s always easier to deal with when stoned. If I hadn’t thought it might get you into trouble I’d have suggested taking a joint.”

I laughed. “Then he’d have made me smoke with him, though.”
“And? How much does it affect you?”

I considered that. “No idea. But hey. I survived Southeast.” I wrinkled my nose. “I hope he doesn’t stay in that room. It’s moldy.”

She wrinkled her nose back. “Ugh. Makes me wish I could help.”

“Get that scholarship. Go out of state if you can…then you’ll be further away from him.”

“And you.” She hesitated, looking at me. “I don’t want to be further away from you.” Then, for some reason, she turned and left.

Or maybe I knew exactly what the reason was. She’d never dated, after all, so there was no reason why she wouldn’t be…and I…and…crap.

No. I couldn’t let that happen. She was in enough danger as my friend. Plus, I didn’t want to pull her into that maelstrom of confusion.

Didn’t have to choose. Did have to choose. Didn’t have to choose. I knew which I hoped was true, but could I be sure?

So, I just watched her go, and then finished getting ready for school, heading out into the morning. It always felt too early at this time of year, even more than in the summer. Why couldn’t they switch us to a sane schedule?

Because all of the parents objected. And the stores that employed us. I shook my head, brushing back my hair, reaching the school gates just before the bell. Kanesha was…hopefully right behind me. I hoped she wasn’t so upset it made her late.

But I was upset, and I couldn’t quite hide it. “You alright?”

Barry Clark. Gods. He’d chosen now to stop avoiding me. “I’m fine,” I said, quietly. “More than, in fact. Just that…eh. Life, you know.”

“At least you have a chance of graduating now,” he quipped. “And my parents have stopped being quite so mad with me.”

“You still don’t have a chance.”

He nodded. “I know. I’m dating Patsy Lawrence.”

I considered that, then nodded. “I can see what you see in her.” Pretty without being so pretty guys would fight over her, good cook…and they’d fit together. They’d fit together perfectly.

“Thank you. Can we be friends?”

“I…alright. Just that if anyone kidnaps you again, don’t blame me.”

He laughed. “I’ll blame me. I could have just walked away, after all.”


Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 16

The room was “furnished” with a rotting futon, a table and two wobbly chairs and an overstuffed armchair under an art deco lamp. That looked to be the only thing worth anything in there. “So…”

“So. You want me to leave Kanesha alone. She’s my daughter.”

“Your daughter who’s heading for a college scholarship and a career as a school teacher. If you don’t screw it up for her.”

“No girl needs college.”

I laughed. “Okay. Put it this way. Do you want to have enough money to retire some day or not? Because she can help you, but not if you sabotage her.”

“So, I’m supposed to leave her in that place?”

“It’s only until she’s 18. Let her do what she wants. What she needs.”

“She’s a girl.”

“So am I. And I sure as heck don’t plan on depending on any man. You want her to depend on somebody who lets her down? Maybe worse than you did?” Below the belt. I knew that.

He growled. “I didn’t let her down. I didn’t do it.”

“Doesn’t matter whether you did or not. She needs to be her own woman.”

And then I heard gunshots.

He moved to the window, but smartly, his body mostly behind the wall. “Just the kids across the street shooting cans again.”

“As long as it’s only cans.” I relaxed. “Look. You’re swallowing a lot of pride even listening to a white chick. I appreciate it.”

“I’m listening because…” He frowned. “…you know her better than I do.” He sounded disappointed.

“I probably do. She’s had to make her own way, and she’s good at it. Her grades are way better than mine. She will go to college. I’m helping make sure of that. But right now you have her so scared she’s looking into emancipating and getting enough income to do that’s going to mess up her studies. Give her…space. And I think she’ll let you back in her life. If you don’t press her.”

“I’ll think about it.”

There was another gunshot. And then another. I used the cover of them to slip back outside, stepping into the street. In a vacant lot opposite there were, indeed, a group of boys shooting air rifles at old coke cans. They were scarily accurate but, I supposed, it was a harmless enough activity.

He’d been nice to me. Or maybe the slight smell of something not tobacco in the place had had something to do with it…

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 15

Something about me kept the general riff raff away, though. I’d never been here before. I’d never dared.

I had the gun. I could deal with anyone who messed with me, or at least I thought I could. Maybe I was too cocky. But all I saw, really, was sullen faces, the expressions of people with little or nothing left to lose. I did feel something of a desire to help them, but it was tempered by the certain knowledge that there was nothing I could do.

If I ever became a one percenter or something. But I couldn’t answer the prayers in those faces. Those who could didn’t care. Wasn’t there a correlation between wealth and sociopathic traits? Or success…

But these people hadn’t even failed. They’d just been stork dropped here, dark skins in a dark part of the city. I didn’t just feel conspicuous. I felt guilty, as if my white skin alone was enough to mark me as privileged. Telling them I was as broke as they were wouldn’t avail me anything.

And if they knew what I was? Nah. They wouldn’t believe it. I could almost feel the miasma of cynical depression over this place.

Kanesha’s father was living in a battered tenement, renting a single room from a landlady who answered the door in, cliche alert, hair curlers and bunny slippers.

“Don’t need your kind here.”

I put my foot in the door. “I’m trying to stop something from going violent. I need to talk to Mr. Clem.”

“Nobody talks to Mr. Clem without Mr. Clem’s say-so.”

I could see it in her eyes. She was afraid of the man. Not surprising, really. He was a man who warranted it. More quietly, “He’ll hurt you.”

“No. I can handle him.” I kept my voice quiet, confident, but I still felt as if I did not and never could belong in this place. Race. It echoed through everything and I knew from the internet that a good portion of those who followed the Norse gods were racist bastards.

I wouldn’t be like that, but standing here I understood why people feared the black man, or maybe it was the legacy of slavery that scared them, a past that was being visited…was it the seventh generation yet? I wasn’t sure. The sins of the fathers…but they weren’t mine. Maybe. I didn’t know.

“Your funeral.” She let me in, and I walked into a corridor in which the paper cracked and bulged and I was pretty sure that patch on the carpet was black mold. As unpleasant as the group home was, anyone who would think Kanesha was better off here was crazy.

Of course, she’d said he wasn’t going to stay here. It was temporary, and anyone could put up with a fair bit knowing it was temporary.


I went that way, feeling the stairs creak and crumble beneath me. “Mr. Clem.”

“Kanesha’s pasty friend.” Clearly he recognized my voice.

“Yeah. I do have that disadvantage. But I only want to talk. Can I come in?”

“You armed?”
“Do I sound stupid? I’m in Southeast.”

He laughed…and opened the door.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 14

I did look into it. And found a road block right away. For Kanesha. Her father had to agree for her to be emancipated. I took that back to her the next day.

She swore. “So, he has to agree. Which he never will.”

“He shouldn’t have a say. Especially as his parole officer told him to leave you alone.”

“Which is overruled if they give him custody. Which they will. Everyone knows how much the DC foster system sucks. And then he’ll take me away from here.”

“I wonder if somebody would help.” The temptation to remove Kanesha’s old man from the equation bubbled up in my mind. No. I would not even consider murder.

“Somebody meaning the trickster? Maybe. He could fake a signature, but…”

“He could tie your old man up somewhere and pretend to be him for long enough to get consent, but…” It wouldn’t work in the long term. “No. I will talk to your dad.”

“That won’t achieve anything. You’re not just a girl. You’re a white girl. That makes you scum in his eyes.”

How come black people were sometimes the most prejudiced? Probably that thing our history teacher said about reactions to oppression. “Maybe…”

“If you do, take your gun. Just in case. He might decide to get violent.”

“I hope he does. He tries to kill me, he goes back to jail.” And that, I knew, was the solution. Get the guy put back in jail. He clearly belonged there.

“And if he succeeds?”

“I know you learned martial arts to defend yourself from him, but trust me. I’ll deal with this one way or another. Without hurting him too much.”

Because he was her father and because I wouldn’t cross that line. Maybe I should…and I smiled a bit. “I won’t promise not to embarrass him, though.”

“Oh, that’s on the table. He’s embarrassed me enough times.”

“Where is he living?”

She told me. Great. Pretty much right in Southeast. Hopefully I could do that ‘don’t notice me’ thing again that I wasn’t sure I’d actually done in the first place. I went upstairs and grabbed a bag…which contained my gun and Tyr’s horn. About time that thing developed some utility.

Then I headed for the address. Which led me right into a part of town I knew I shouldn’t be in.

Southeast was the part of Washington that everyone wanted to build a big wall of no-see no-hear around. It wasn’t just that it was a black neighborhood. Washington was a black city.

Southeast was where the dregs of society rattled down to the bottom and hovered there between the gutter and the drain. No sane person went there. Especially if white.

It was where the desperate lived.

It was not safe.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 13

Halloween was over. The house was full of candy which, by mutual agreement, we’d dumped into one huge bowl by the door. That way people could pick out what they liked. I snagged a piece of chocolate as I left. Loki had been true to his word. Or nobody had been allergic to the cayenne.

The problem was that everyone was blaming me. I was apparently the cayenne brownie person, and it was being appreciated by some and getting me glares and promises of dire vengeance from others.

Well. I could handle a prank war, but really, getting me blamed for his tricks? I supposed I’d asked for it.

Sometimes I thought I asked for it merely by existing. At least where he was concerned.

No cayenne in the chocolate. “Now I know what him liking you means,” Kanesha said blearily from behind me.

“At least you like cayenne brownies too.”

“I prefer to know when I’m biting into one. It was him, right?”

“Right. And leaving me to take the fall for it, and that costume was just awful. It’s like I have a particularly embarrassing uncle that I can’t even stay mad with because he’s actually kind of fun.”

Kanesha laughed. “I wonder if that’s how they all felt. Prior to Baldr, that is.”

“He almost seems to have done his time on that one.” I considered. “Or maybe they let him out in the hope that…”

“…that you could talk him out of starting Ragnarok.”

I laughed. “I can’t talk him out of doing pranks at a party. I…you’re serious, aren’t you.”

“Yes, I am. But I need help with a different problem.”

I nodded. “What is it?”

“My dad’s trying to get legal custody back. I’m talking about emancipation.”

” You have a job…”

“Not enough to afford even the worst place in DC. I…” She tailed off. “I hesitate to ask. You’ll probably think it’s too dangerous, but…”


“I could manage with a roommate. We could both get out of here. I’d still get financial support for college and…”

It was…an interesting proposal. I turned it around in my head. “I have three gigs this month, one after school, two weekend. I’ll look into it, but if not…”

“I’ll have to find somebody else. I’ll manage. I just would rather have you.”

I hugged her. I couldn’t help it. Even if I wasn’t sure I wanted to be roommates with her…her concerns about danger and my personal concerns about who I should stay with?

She needed somebody and she’d asked me first. That meant a lot.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 12

Of course, the party went…no, of course it didn’t go well, because not five minutes after Martin left, Loki showed up.

Not that anyone else would have recognized him. He’d taken the form of a green ogre. Kind of based off of Shrek. It looked like a really good costume.

I knew better. “Kanesha, alert.”

“Not another one.”

“It’s the trickster.” I didn’t use his name. “I’d better…”


I wove through the crowd and bumped into him by the food. Where he was helping himself to a plate that contained decidedly more dessert than real food. “Hey there.”

“Thought I’d drop by. Don’t worry. I don’t plan on doing anything harmful.”

“Well, we’ve already had drama tonight, so please keep the harmless pranks toned down.”

“Oh, would I do anything?” He turned to face me.

“Yes, you would, and do you have to dress as something from a kids’ movie?”

“Nobody will suspect me. Besides, I liked that movie.”

I laughed a bit. “Just…please. I’m trying to relax and enjoy an evening.”

“Whilst armed for bear.”

“It’s Halloween,” I pointed out, shifting the scabbard again. Him pointing it out made it feel heavier.

“Yes, yes it is. But the real dangers won’t be out tonight. It’ll be the little things. Stray ghosts, random fairies doing interesting things to the candy.”

“If you put cayenne in any of the desserts…”

“Would I?” He lifted his hands.


“…which one.”

I glanced around, snagged a brownie bite and sniffed it. My instincts were good. “You know that doesn’t work on me,” I added, taking a bite out of it.

“You have taste.”

I hoped nobody in the room was allergic to it. “If anyone goes into anaphylactic shock, you’re fixing it.”

His lips quirked. “Well…”

“You said nothing harmful. I’m holding you to it.” Not that I could stop him, but there was the overall pressure of him liking me. It might achieve something.


Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 11

It wasn’t his fault, actually. It wasn’t the demon’s fault. I’ll give him that. When he ran into the party, somebody was chasing him.

Or something. “Uh…somebody…lend me a mask?”

I wasn’t sure a mask would help. “That’s my stray plus one,” I murmured to Kanesha.

“Do we help him or…?”

“I’ll probably get in trouble with the Old Man if we help him unless what’s chasing him is even worse.” Which I had a feeling it was. I shifted position, so the sword hung in a better position for drawing. I might need it.
Somebody did indeed toss the guy a spare mask. He put it on, and seemed to change appearance a fair bit.
Some kind of spell that needed a focus, I supposed. Martin ducked into the group of people in masks.
Right as a really big guy with a club came pounding in after him. It wasn’t a fire giant. I saw what others saw and the reality overlaid. “Okay. Maybe that’s worse.”

“If he says fee fi fo fum…” Kanesha quipped.

“I don’t think Martin’s English.”

The big guy paused, then, “Okay. Nobody has to get hurt here. Where is that slimy little…?”

“What do you want with him?” I stepped forward, aware that he likely knew who I was.

“Oh, come on. I just want to toss him back where he came from. We don’t have a quarrel here.”

“You’re ruining the party,” I informed the giant. Not a fire giant. What was he? He was ugly as sin, was what he was, but at least he wasn’t a demon. He didn’t have that emptiness. Instead, I felt a sense of nature and darkness, of a predator.

“You’re hiding him.”

“No. They are. Let’s not involve random people in this.” I didn’t say mortals. I wasn’t sure what they’d hear or remember. From the way Kanesha was holding her scythe, my guess had been right. She’d set it up to be perfectly usable as a weapon.

“Oh, fine.” Martin slid out of the group. “I’ll go. I’ll go already. Just leave the mortals out of it.”

Great. He had to use the m word. But the giant turned and left with Martin following.

“I haven’t seen the last of him,” I asided to Kanesha.

“No, you haven’t. He’ll go back through one door and come in through a different one. Or he’d never have surrendered.”

I knew she was right, but I also hoped I wouldn’t have to see him and deal with the confusing feelings for a while.