Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 10

The party was only just getting started when I got there. I stopped to help a tall boy hang one last set of fake cobwebs. Then I glanced around.

I felt more welcome than I had thought I would. The gathering crowd was a rainbow of hues – and one literal rainbow. I wondered at that costume. Was he very gay or was he trying to be Bifrost?

Amusement rippled through me at that thought and I laughed a bit, then looked around for Kanesha. I couldn’t see her, but she might well be one of the group wearing masks and not moving much. If she was, I’d recognize her the second she took a step. On the other hand, she would recognize…

…aha. There she was. She came in the door, dressed as Death and with a scythe over her shoulder that looked to have a pretty solid haft to it. She was thinking the same way I was, and I wandered over in a rather fly casual manner. “Hey, girl.”

“Hey there. Hopefully nobody will decide you need a prince.”

I laughed a bit. “It was cheap.” Hopefully nobody would realize the sword was too good. “So…I had to turn down a plus one.”


“Demon who wants to Romeo to my Juliet.” I kept my voice low. “He said he was going to have fun with some trick or treaters.”

“I hope he doesn’t scare any of them too much.”

“I’m more worried about the parents.” I raised my voice a little. “So, I’ll have to see who I can send your way,” I quipped.

She laughed. “I know, I know. Most original costume ever.”

“It’s not a sheet over your head.” I pointed to somebody wearing exactly that. With poorly-cut eyeholes.

“Be nice. I think that’s Joshua. No money and neither he nor his mother can sew to save their lives.” She looked down. “Yeah. I recognize the sneakers.”

I laughed again. “Well, maybe if somebody who actually can sew taught him.”

“Willa tried.”

“Which one is Willa?”

“The ginger wearing the bright purple witch outfit. She knows it looks terrible on her. That’s the point.”

I relaxed. I felt quite comfortable. Maybe, Halloween or no Halloween, I could forget that I was anyone but just another girl and enjoy the party.

Of course, that was probably the worst thing I could have said, or even thought.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 9

It was Halloween when I bumped into him again. The veil thin? I felt something, but it wasn’t that. And, of course, it was this night only in some traditions.

Not including northern traditions, which placed the thinnest veil in May. So, maybe I shouldn’t worry.

Halloween, and I was too old to go trick or treating, but Kanesha had told me there was going to be a party at the community center and I was invited. Invited, but not sure I was truly welcome.

I certainly wouldn’t be welcome with a demonic plus one. I’d put together a costume for the night – a Barbarian princess complete with foam sword. It was a little bit revealing, but I was comfortable with that.

But I still wasn’t sure I’d be welcome. Halloween was a Friday and I got off school and changed into the costume right away. I bumped into him on the way.

“Going to a party?”

“You’re not invited,” I informed him. Now, if Loki showed up, him I might take as a plus one. He’d liven things up, that was for sure. But then, who knew what he would actually do?

Maybe, maybe not.

“Of course not. Never welcome anywhere.” He smiled at me. “It’s fine. I don’t want to interrupt mortal revelries. I have a plan.”

I smiled back. “Seeing how many trick or treaters you can scare?”

“Isn’t that half the point?” He headed off up the street as I turned towards the party. I hoped he wouldn’t scare too many parents.

If he was a demon, though, he didn’t seem nearly evil enough. Maybe he was just caught up in the politics somehow?

Thruor had said there weren’t any rivalries, but if there were, wouldn’t angels and demons be them? Only one god and all that.

Maybe the divine politics were quite different from what mortals perceived, and I was on the outside, seeing them through that glass.

Or veil. I did sense a supernatural heaviness that made me wish the sword wasn’t foam. I had the real one under my bed and was half tempted to go back and get it.

More than half. A moment of decision – this was the one night I could get away with it – and I ducked back inside, switching out the prop for live steel, the scabbard slung comfortably over my back. As every other time I’d handled it, it felt right.

The one night I could get away with it, and I bet nothing would actually happen that needed it.

But I felt much safer with the weight of it. Much safer indeed.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 8

“Be careful,” Thea said. “He probably is some kind of demon or dark spirit.”

“Or a rival.”

She considered that. “Rivalry, yes, but it doesn’t tend to lead to people being beaten up. And it’s not as much as people think. If he was worried about physical violence. You saw his reflection, right?”

“Right. Does that mean he wasn’t a vampire?”

“No. It’s actually some kinds of demon that forget their reflections. It would have meant he wasn’t really there and lost that detail of the illusion.”

I laughed. “Got it. So, he was probably physically present and I could have beaten him up. I just didn’t want him to know I didn’t know what he was.” I felt myself blush a little.

“Smart. He’d have taken advantage of your ignorance, although it sounds like he wanted to take advantage of you.”

I felt myself blush a lot. “Uh…”

“And you wouldn’t have turned him down, either. Like I said, be careful.”

I looked at Thea…one of these days I’d work out in my head to think of her as Thruor. And it came out without thinking, “He’s not as hot as you.”

She laughed. “I’ll take that exactly the way it was meant.”

I was blushing and looking away at this point. “I…uh…”

“Look at me.”

I did, with an effort.

“I’m not going to take you up on it because I don’t have that kind of interest. But if you do, it’s not a problem. Trust me.”

I thought of Loki and horses and nodded. “Alright, except…look. I tried talking to the GSA about it. About how I feel. He told me I was just confused and needed to make up my mind whether I liked boys or girls.”

“Oh boy. One of those.” She reached out and put the back of her hand against my cheek. I shivered.

“You do not have to make up your mind. You have to be true to yourself and your own nature. And while it’s true that’s still in flux right now, this may be part of it. And if it is, then it’s very important.”

I pulled away a little from her hand. “Thruor….”

“Very important for everything you are and everything you have to do.”

I couldn’t see how it could be, but if I didn’t have to choose? I trusted her more, and it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders.

I didn’t have to choose?

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 7

“Buy you a drink?”

I whirled. He was behind me.

“Hey, you followed me. Either I buy you a drink or I beat you up.”

“I’ll take the drink…” I hesitated, almost specifying soda, then decided against it. “Besides, how do you know I wouldn’t beat you up?”

He looked at me, his eyes running over me, then nodded. “Oh, you might win. Maybe. Might be a good contest.”

I laughed. “Then maybe we should find a quiet corner and try and beat each other up some time.”

“It’s a date.”

Oh dear. I hadn’t meant…and I knew it was being taken that way too. Fortunately it was dark enough that he couldn’t see me blushing. “Don’t be too hasty. We’ve only just met.”

“Okay, how about I start over with, what are you doing in a place like this? Other than following me.”

He wasn’t asking it as a line. “Causing trouble. You?”

“Causing trouble.” He studied me again. “Oh, crap…you are going to beat me up, aren’t you?”

“Only if you give me a reason.” I realized that I’d lose some kind of edge if I admitted I had no idea what he was. I’d have to watch and look for symptoms. He did reflect in the mirror behind the bar, so probably not a vampire.

“Given what I am and what you are, you already have a reason.”

I shook my head. “I stick to beating up people who have actually done something to deserve it. Recently.” Demon? He seemed too nice, but… Or maybe he was from one of the other pantheons and there was a lot of rivalry.

Heck. Maybe he was an angel.

“Wow. You actually think instead of just doing what your elders tell you all the time?”

“Depends.” I grinned at him. “You seem to be doing some thinking too.”

I hadn’t been initially attracted to him, but I was rather warming up. And I didn’t really care if he was somebody I’d be in trouble for hanging out with as long as, as I had said, he didn’t do anything to deserve being beaten up.

He bought two bottles of beer. I took one of them, noting that the barkeep didn’t seem to be noticing my age any more than the bouncer had.

Probably not luck. Heck, I might be doing something subconscious. Or he might.

“What’s your name?” he asked as I got the beer open.

“Just call me Jane.”

“Jane. Oh…that’s why you aren’t beating me up. You’re incognito.”

I nodded. Easier than explaining. “And you?”


“Also incognito.” I grinned. “So, how about we have a truce, at least for a bit?” Whatever quarrel I should have with him seemed pretty pointless right now.

I was more worried about Kanesha’s father.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 6

I shouldn’t, obviously, have said what I said about supernatural monsters, because something was hanging out outside the sub store when I left work. The agency had called me with another gig. It might be enough to finally quit that joint.

No. I needed all the cash I could get. But something was there. I saw it…no, him…through the corner of my eye. No doubt anyone not clued in would just have seen a teenager in a leather jacket, head to toe black, black hair.

Goth. Or vampire, I thought with wry amusement. If fairies were real, vampires probably were too, although I’d bet every writer had got them wrong.

He certainly wasn’t particularly sexy. Not bad, but not the kind of guy I’d go head over heels for. I sought his eyes for a moment, met them, nodded and then walked away. Whoever or whatever he was, I wanted him to know I had him made. It wasn’t a challenge, it was just meant to let him know somebody knew he was there.

He nodded back, but stayed where he was. So, he wasn’t targeting me. It was just a moment of ships passing in the night, of two people who’s worlds were overlapping.

If he was a vampire, though? I elected not to worry about it, but to keep the corner of an eye on him.

Then, hesitating, I doubled back around to where I could see him. Yup. Once I was out of view, he’d started to move, heading into a bar he looked too young to visit. Fake ID, no doubt. Or some sort of magical equivalent. I had no doubt, for example, that Loki could have produced me a convincing one if I cared that much. I didn’t, really. Thea had let me try some alcohol, and while I liked it well enough, I didn’t like the effect I saw it have on people if they had too much of it.

I definitely, I thought wryly, wasn’t Thor’s daughter. There were far, far too many stories of him getting drunk and doing stupid stuff, then doing it all again. Maybe he had a good sense of humor.

About pushing people into pools, anyway.

But right now, I wanted to know what this guy was. He didn’t feel human. He didn’t feel Asgardian. He felt…almost like a gap.

That was why, I realized, my mind had leapt to vampire. And it wasn’t like I hadn’t encountered a couple of vampire-like things before. I tugged out my cell phone and called Thea.

Which went to voice mail. Typical. She was probably somewhere loud where she couldn’t hear her phone. She, after all, emphatically was Thor’s daughter. She was probably drunk, too.

So, I had to handle this on my own. I headed over to the bar, just willing that I wouldn’t be carded on entrance. If I could get in, I would be fine. I wasn’t going to order a drink.

The bouncer seemed not to notice me and then I was inside. I hadn’t been in an adult club before. And this one was very adult…there was a woman pole dancing in the center wearing no more than she had to and less than most would have.

Finding the other shouldn’t be too hard, except he wasn’t the only supernatural in here. Surprisingly, the dancer was giving me vibes too. Some kind of fae.

Maybe that was why he was in here after all.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 5

“Let us know if he troubles you again, miss. I’m going to talk to his parole officer.”

Kanesha nodded. “He wants me to drop out of school and be his bitch, basically.”

“Doesn’t he realize that if you went to college and got a good job you could make sure he…”

“I’m a girl.” Kanesha cut in with, wryly. “Who’s getting distinctly tired of men.”

“You need to hang out with Bruce. He’s a good antidote.” I knew how she felt, of course, but I also wanted to find more examples of good men. Loki?

Neither good nor, technically, a man, I thought, wryly. But on my side, from what I could tell. Even if I wasn’t on his.

“Maybe I do. But he’ll be back.”

“He won’t come back here. His parole officer will tell him he’s going back to jail if he does.” My lips quirked. “I think he needs to be there.”

Tempting the guy into doing something? That didn’t seem…right, to me. Not ethical, really. But watching him until he did? That, I was up for. “What happened to the supernatural monsters?” I added, quipping.

She sighed. “He’s not a monster. He was in jail for a few thefts and dealing dope. Mostly marijuana, even. He just thinks I belong to him.”

I nodded. “So, he’s just an overprotective, sexist father?”

“Right. He wants me to keep house for him because he can’t find my mother.” She paused. “I can’t find my mother. He cheated on her.”

“Maybe you have some half-siblings out there,” I teased.

She made a face. “Not with another woman.”

Oh. I left that hanging, although I’d heard stuff about black guys who experimented or whatever it was with other men, or thought it was a safer alternative to cheating with a woman or…whatever. I wasn’t sure about any of the motivations that lay behind it.

Maybe they didn’t want to have to choose either. But then, if you wanted a relationship, you had to choose that person. And keep choosing them day after day. How was that different?

“Don’t worry. I’ll beat him up if he tries anything with me.”

“You were doing a fine job this time.”

“I was trying to use reason first. Come on. Let’s find some ice cream.”

I probably needed it as badly as she did.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 4

The next day I got home from work to an argument. My shift had ended slightly early, and I was glad when I approached the house and could hear raised voices from easily half a block away.

One of them was Kanesha’s. I quickened my pace. The other voice was a male voice, one I wasn’t familiar with.

I didn’t bother to disguise my approach, but I made note of the car that was parked outside. It was unfamiliar, but I stopped to write down the number before hurrying inside.

“No. You are coming with me.”

“Who says?” I called up the stairs. The man turned. He was dark, older, and…

…I could see it immediately. He was Kanesha’s father, whom I’d thought was gone from her life. Actually, I thought he was in jail.
“She’s my girl. She’s coming back with me, and no white chick is going to have anything to say about it.”

“You aren’t even supposed to be here.”

“I got out, didn’t I?”

He didn’t seem, to me, to be all that threatening. I couldn’t remember what he was in prison for.

“You may be out, but you don’t have custody.” Her voice was softer now. “Please. Leave. I will call the police.”

“The day a girl calls the police on her own father…” He tailed off, then glared at me. “You. Get out of my sight.”

I hit 911 on the phone in my pocket, left the line open. “This is my home and her home. You’re trespassing, sir. We aren’t supposed to even have men in here.”

“She’s coming with me. Get out of my way.” At that point, he grabbed Kanesha.

A moment later, he was flat on the ground. “You might have warned him first.”

She grinned. “I did.”

“I have a line open to 911.” I was going to be a frequent flyer again.

“Good. Maybe they can come collect the trash.” She smiled. “He was told he was never getting custody back, even if he did get out before I was eighteen.”

“What did he do, anyway?” I tugged out the phone. “Sorry. We have somebody here who shouldn’t be here. Trespassing. Assault.” I rattled off the address. Maybe he’d run before they got here, although he would find that hard right now.

Kanesha had one high heel on him in the classic wrestling defeat pose.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 3

Lue was gone. I would never see her again. Kanesha thought I was crazy, but at least she thought I was a good kind of crazy. We sat on a bench by the reflecting pool, a week before Halloween. It was getting cool out, by DC standards. I thought it was quite pleasant, personally. A bit of a breeze was kicking up.

“I still…”

“I know. I’m nuts. It worked, but it could have got me killed. And then Thea would be mad.” My lips quirked.

“Just…you know. Don’t get cocky. You’re the good kind of crazy, but I don’t want to bury you.”

I looked out at the pool. “I’ll try and stay the good kind. It’s…well…not always that easy.”

“No, it isn’t. How tempted were you to kill them?”

“I was thinking gelding, actually.” I felt my lips quirk again. “Very tempted. I might have if I had thought I could get away with it.”

Knowing I couldn’t…

I continued, watching the clouds float through the water. “The cops want to recruit me now. I guess they figure anyone who’s as much of a trouble magnet as I am…”

“You could do worse.”

“Can’t afford college and without college I don’t think they’ll take me.”

“Actually, they will. Especially if you do the internship. But I think…you’d be a target in too many ways. I’d stick to modeling.”

I grinned at her. “Like that doesn’t make me conspicuous.”

“Yes, but in a way that will make most people assume that you’re weak, stupid and excessively feminine. On the other hand, the cops have, you know, perks.”

“Cops can get away with stuff. Especially in PG County.”

She laughed. “I can’t believe you made a PG County joke. Haven’t they behaved lately? I mean, since they shot the mayor’s dogs, I haven’t heard much.”

“They painted an ambulance pink,” I noted. “Admittedly that’s not quite on par with shooting the mayor’s dogs, but…”

“Still. They’ve been quiet lately. I don’t know that I’d want to live there, but…” Kanesha tailed off.

“What are you going to do after college, anyway?” I’d never asked her.

“Teach. Help other kids get out of the bad situations.”

I hesitated, then reached out and hugged her. “You’ll be fantastic.”

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 2

I can’t say I didn’t think about it, because I did. When I did, though, this time it was Loki’s disapproving face I saw.

He wouldn’t want me to be a cop. But I couldn’t keep getting into trouble like this. I resolved to try and avoid it until Christmas. At least Christmas. Hopefully my friends would too, because I knew how I was going to end up in trouble.

Because they were. But I decided to focus on something else. I managed to find Peter Bronson, who ran the gay-straight alliance, at lunch time the next day. Sat at the table next to him. “Uh…”

“If the question is can you talk, sure.” He was a slender boy of mixed race, with just a hint of the effeminate about him. I wouldn’t have called him girly or sissy, though.

“Yeah. I kinda need to talk. I’ve got a massive crush on another woman.”

“Which doesn’t always mean anything.”

I liked guys. Although Peter didn’t seem attractive at all. Maybe my subconscious knew he’d be more likely to go for Barry Clark. “Do people sometimes, uh, like both guys and girls?”

“People sometimes get confused,” he said, quietly. “As to what they like. Especially at our age. Not me. I knew I was gay when I was eight.”

I tried to imagine that level of surety about it. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to work things out, then.”

I’d wanted help, but he was just supporting my feelings and my confusion. Not in the good way.

“Whichever way you go, it’s fine. Just remember that. Don’t let society pressure you into pretending to be straight if you aren’t.”

My lips twitched. “I don’t let society pressure me.”

Or did I? I was doing a very feminine thing…but not entirely. There had been quite a few boys at the shoot too. Fashion needed boys and men almost as much as girls and women. But the emphasis on female clothing was definitely there.

“Good girl.”

I turned back to my lunch. I got the feeling he was hoping I’d turn out to be a lesbian, but that didn’t feel honest. I watched some of the other kids wander past, looking at both boys and girls.

Whichever way you go? I was supposed to make a choice, maybe, except that I’d seen Peter whup on somebody…literally…for saying it was a choice.

Except he seemed…oh, this was ridiculous. I wolfed down the rest of my food and fled the canteen faster than I probably should have right after eating.

It was all completely ridiculous. And I refused to make a choice.

Episode Six: Daddy Issues: Scene 1

“You really are turning into a frequent shopper.” The detective wasn’t from Maryland.

“It’s my own fault I got kidnapped. I was trying to help Lue get away from them.”

He laughed. “Stop playing vigilante. It might get you shot and thrown in the Potomac next time.”

It might, but for some reason that didn’t bother me. Or maybe I knew exactly why it didn’t. Because I could look after myself. “Lue?”

“We’re putting her in witness protection, sending her well away from here. We should do the same with you.”

It tempted me. “I…”

“Honestly, I’d rather see you take criminal justice and get yourself a badge.”

I blinked. Cop was certainly not a career option I’d considered. “I can’t afford college. Not going to happen. Not smart enough for a scholarship.”

“We could put you in head start.”

“Uhh…” I had visions of pre-kindergarteners.

“The internship program.”

“I…look, my grades aren’t nearly good enough. And I have career plans. But…” I was flattered, I really was.

“A trouble magnet like you…I have this feeling if we put you in protection you’d just be a headache for the new department. So, think about it.”

Oddly, I was glad to have dodged that bullet. Lue…well. I’d never see her again, and that was for the best. “Lue’s going to go right into another relationship with a loser.”

“Probably. That sort often do. Maybe she’s had enough of a scare, though.”

“Maybe she’s been put off men for life. This is enough to make me want to date women.” I froze for a moment once the words were out of my mouth. Thinking of Thea and Barry.

Want to date women. Did I?

Maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. I was very confused on that front and I resolved to try and find somebody to talk to. Maybe the school gay-straight alliance could set me…I laughed inwardly and stopped myself from even thinking the pun.

“No better.” He grinned at me. “Think about it.”

“I will.” And then he let me go. I’d missed two days of school, but the cops would cover for that. And not, I hoped, tell any of my teachers it was my own stupid fault. Or worse, any of the other students.

I didn’t want to be mocked over it. But Kanesha fell in next to me. “How did you find me?”

“Missing Jane, check the cop station.”

I laughed. “He tried to recruit me.”

“You, a cop? Nah. Too many rules. Private investigator.”

I laughed again. “Needs a degree.”

“Not really. Just needs a license. Maybe one day.”