Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 11

So, basically, I was being stalked by a ranking demon and the king of the fire giants. I wanted to point out to both of them that I was still under age.

I knew neither would care. And if Martin…I sought out Father William. He was in his church, straightening hymn books.

Of course, I stopped to help. “So, the third demon.”

“I didn’t think he was as much of a concern, but yes, we should get rid of him.”

“I got more information. He’s higher ranking.”

William nodded. “Hence why he didn’t fall for our trap. That does make things harder.”

“Well, we have bait. Me.” My lips quirked. “He probably still wants to get in my pants, even if he’s mad that we chased off the succubi.”

The priest set down a book. “He wants your soul.”

I didn’t correct the impression. I was fairly sure William didn’t know what I was. As long as he thought I was just a kid with a knack for finding demons, he wouldn’t try to exorcise me. Not that he would succeed, but I didn’t really want him to douse me in holy water. “Probably. But he’s not going to get it.”

“You would…”

I cut him off. “I have enough protection, Father. Joining your flock would…it simply wouldn’t work, and that’s all there is to it.”

That might clue him in. Or not. Or maybe he’d already worked certain things out and my silence was achieving nothing but making me feel better. “You need to be careful.”

“He can’t touch my soul.”

“He could kill you,” I pointed out. Then I turned to the door, abruptly oddly uncomfortable in the church. Or maybe there was a reason for it. As I stepped outside, what looked suspiciously like a raven lifted from the low wall around the churchyard.

I gave it an acknowledging nod…nobody was really watching to laugh at me nodding to a bird. Then, I hesitated. Quietly, “I’d like to talk to your boss.”
Which would be embarrassing if it was only a bird. But I sensed a bit of a ripple. The only outward answer, though, was three rhythmic caws as the raven glided away on midnight wings.

Why did crows and ravens always seem to caw three times? I shook my head. Either it was a regular bird laughing at me, or it was one of them, or I’d just drawn the attention of the trickster Raven on top of Loki.

I really hoped I hadn’t managed the latter. One trickster at a time was bad enough, and if they got into a prank war?

I didn’t want to be in the middle of that.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 10

Kanesha and I sat in the teen zone of the MLK library. We had all of the Norse mythology books out.

“Okay. Surtur is the king of the fire giants and the ruler of Muspelheim,” Kanesha was saying. “And in some version of the myth he, not Loki, is blamed for Ragnarok.”

I nodded. “From what Thruor said, that’s somehow more accurate, although Loki’s been in burn the world mode a couple of times when he’s talked to me.”

“I’m not sure I like the idea that Loki likes you.” She looked at me seriously.

“He likes you too.”

“Crap.” She paused. “I’m going to be pranked, aren’t I.”

“Probably,” I admitted. “At least the fairy got bored and left.” For now, anyway. “Okay. The question is just how powerful this guy is.”

“Powerful enough to challenge Odin. Ruler of one of the Realms. Fighting him isn’t going to happen. In fact…”

“…fighting him is how we start Ragnarok.” I looked at her. “He wants me. If he really decides to come for me and I fight back, the world ends. Brilliant.”

I hadn’t been scared before, but I was now. Loki’s interest in me. Him asking me if I was sure about roads I wanted to go down. My plan might be the only way to resolve this. “But Thea said I have to be older.”

“And older by…” Kanesha sighed. “I mean…uh…”

She didn’t want to say it any more than I did. “Don’t…worry about it.” But I could tell she did, the way she was looking at me. “My point is that he’s probably not going to try and drag me off by my hair just yet. And if he does, I’ll just make sure I have a knife in his bedchamber.”

“You, marriage bait. Maybe you’re Odin’s daughter?”

I shook my head. “I don’t…” Wait. Thea didn’t lie. She sometimes hid the truth, but she never said anything that wasn’t true.

She had said I had Aesir blood. She had implied I wasn’t purebred. At the same time. “I think I need to talk to the Old Man. But I don’t know how to get His attention.”

He was the King. I was…who knew what I was. Not a commoner, though. Maybe I was a princess…but that really was nothing next to everything else I was or might be.

“His ravens have been around. Maybe an appropriate…”

“You mean bribe two beings that are basically minor deities in their own right with treats?”

“They’re still ravens,” she pointed out.

The idea made me laugh, but I didn’t have a better one. Still, I was terrified of Odin, bluntly and utterly so. Any sane person would be. At least any sane person who knew he existed.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 9

“Traitor.” It didn’t sound that malicious.

I didn’t even have to turn my head. “Go away, Martin.”

“Brilliant. How the heck did you rope in the Catholic Church? Their God isn’t that fond of you.”

“I didn’t get that impression, actually. Just because he’s not that fond of you.” I turned to flicker the demon a grin. “You really want to stay away from me.”


“Because you’re not the only person stalking me and while I could probably sell tickets to the resulting fight, I actually almost like you.”

He hesitated, then stepped back. “Got it. You’re serious…I can tell.”

“If you leave me alone and don’t bring any more monsters, I might leave you alone,” I added, more gently. “I meant it about not beating up people who don’t deserve it. You don’t seem to fit.”

“I’m a demon. We’re all different. That’s half of the point.”

I nodded. “Still. Stay away. For your own sake.” Because if not I would have to find a way to send him back to hell. Surtur could probably do worse to him. The fire giant king. He was practically a god…no, he was a god. What was the real difference between gods and demons? Politics? Power?

Martin was probably more powerful than I was, but I wasn’t a goddess. Or was I? I wasn’t sure what I really counted as. Demi-god, maybe.

“Besides, how do I know you aren’t interested in me for the same reason he is?”

“Touche.” Martin touched over his heart, then turned and walked away. I watched him go, unable to keep entirely from admiring the view. Maybe dating a demon would be safer than…

“Well handled.” Loki fell in next to me. “He’s cute.”

I laughed. “He is, isn’t he. Cute little demon…”

“Oh, he’s at least a Duke of Hell, maybe a Prince. And you might even be right.”

“After me for my bloodlines. I’d rather think he just wants a roll in the hay.” I felt my lips quirk. “I don’t. At least not with him.”

“Oh, I know who you’d rather go with.” A pause. “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt her. I won’t even let her get hurt if I’m around.”

“Just because she likes cayenne brownies.”

He made a wounded expression. “Oh, please.”

“Is that a test you make your worshippers pass?” I found the words coming out of me.


I laughed. “Got it. But…”

“Oh, I know. I can’t have her.” He looked thoughtful. “Then again…”

“If you hurt her I’ll push you in the tidal basin. And possibly hold you down.”

“I’d just change into a fish.”

“Point. Did you show up to rescue me from him?” Not that I thought he did.

“Did you need me to?” He offered me a sealed chocolate chip cookie.

I took it, fully expecting to find cayenne in it. Ah well.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 8

Later. A house that apparently belonged to somebody Thea knew. It had a sort of long room to it. Large enough to make a small salle.

“You think I’m going to be mad with you.” It wasn’t a question.

“Given you were dumped in DC with no memories?”

“I know you didn’t make that decision. It was the Old Man.” There was no question there. “And now he’s going to start thinking…”

She sighed. “Jane. It wasn’t quite what you think.”

“The prophecy says I’ll either start Ragnarok or stop it. He was putting me safely out of the way.”

“First of all, he was hiding you from Surtur, who’s plans for you involve things I am pretty sure you wouldn’t like.”

“Things worse than killing me. He wants to recruit me.”

Thea sighed. “Yes. And a little bit more than that.”

“Don’t tell me he wants in my pants too.” I sighed. “Am I really that pretty?”

“You aren’t bad, but it’s not your looks he wants.”

“It’s my bloodli…” I tailed off. “Whatever it is.”

“Yes.” Thea brushed back her own hair, regarding me. “Surtur wants to make you his bride. Not now, of course, but when you’re a bit older. And ideally after Ragnarok. If he could manage to win, he would then have the only living woman with Aesir blood other than Helr. Who…”

“…doesn’t really count. She’s Queen of the Dead for a reason, isn’t she.” I tailed off. “And I’m young and impressionable. And that’s what it’s about.”

Choose. Choose.

I almost exploded. “I can’t even choose between wanting men and wanting women. I’m not going to even think about individuals yet…”

“And now do you understand why you can’t date Kanesha.”

“He’d see her as a rival and kill her.” My shoulders slumped. “Anyone I go out with…is in mortal danger.”

Thea nodded. “Until and unless we deal with Surtur.”

“Maybe that’s how I stop Ragnarok. Make him think he’s got me then stab him in his own bed.” I couldn’t believe I was seriously considering it.

I know who you are now. Brilliant. I didn’t ask her. I didn’t ask her not because I thought she wouldn’t tell me, but because my mind shied away from the knowledge.

“It’s…there are worse plans, but…”

“Okay, so hiding me from Surtur. And getting me out of Asgardian politics. And…”

“…giving you a fresh perspective when you came back.”
“And Surtur knows where I am, so maybe it’s time to come back.”

Thea shook her head. “Not yet. You’re still shying away from accepting who you are properly.”

“…can you read my mind?”

“No. I just know you would have asked, otherwise.”

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 7

“What a mess,” Mike commented.

I was focusing on my breathing. “Is everyone okay?”

“You’re hurt.” Kanesha, a small voice.

“Just a…I think I’ll be okay.”

Thruor was already coming over to look at it. “Fortunately it was you she hit. Their claws are often poisoned.”

I flinched. “Is it…”

“Nothing to worry about.” She paused. “You’re getting your memories back.” It wasn’t a question.

“No. At least not memories of events. I just…”

“It’s fine. We’ll talk later.”

I didn’t think it was fine at all. She seemed worried. Worried that I would get mad with her, perhaps?

I might. No, whatever or whoever…she wasn’t the one responsible. “Do I have to worry?”

“Not particularly – but you need to drink this.” She tugged out a small vial.

I swallowed it quickly. It tasted vile. “Thanks.”

“I’m going to make sure nobody else got scratched.”

I felt fine…no doubt I was resistant to the poison, albeit not enough to be able to avoid the antidote. Desperate for something to take the taste away, I headed over to the van and tugged out a can of soda Mike had left under the seat, drinking from it. I felt a little unreal, but it was probably just the usual post-battle sensations.

“They won’t be back for a while,” Father Will said, finally. “But the third one’s still out there.”

“I’d say he’s less dangerous, but he might go get more friends.” I brushed back my hair.

“You’re hurt,” the priest added.

“It’s not bad.” If he tried to haul me to a hospital. They hadn’t found anything strange when I was in there with amnesia, but…

Then again, I was starting to get the feeling that the more I worked on it, the less anything I did or was would be noticed. I badly wanted to ask Mike what he had meant during the drive, but I couldn’t.

I couldn’t admit that I was feeling my way when those around me expected me to be some kind of expert.

How could I?

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 6

Kanesha, to her credit, didn’t back down. The succubus did, but she recovered to snarl, “Where is the book?”

“Not here,” I said, calmly, intending to draw and hold their attention.

She snarled again. “Now I know who you are, Aesir-girl. I almost salute you.”

“Oh, it wasn’t my idea. Don’t underestimate the mortals.” It hadn’t been, but know who I am? If she did, she knew more than I did.

“Ha. Then I’ll just kill this one.” She lunged towards Kanesha again, and Seb seemed to be all out of holy water. Her sister, meanwhile, was prowling towards Mike.

Come on, Father William. Do what it is you’re going to do.

“They’re under my protection.” In stereo, where available, and the second voice that had spoken almost in sync with mine had been Thruor’s. And it didn’t feel like just a statement.

The succubus stopped. “Fine, you want to die first, be our guest.”

Just ignore Father William I thought. Just ignore him. He was chanting in Latin, and I knew all we needed to do was distract them until he was done.

Thruor tossed me my sword. I caught the hilt easily. Yes, this was the weapon I needed right now, turning to face the demoness as Thruor dismounted to leap towards the other.

“If you kill me…” The succubus smiled. “I win.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t hurt you.”

She came at me then, a mess of wings and claws. I aimed for the wings, hoping to slow her down, the blade as easy in my hand as if I’d been using it all of my life.

I probably had. It felt, again, natural and real, and I moved swiftly. Thruor was sparring with the other in much the same way.

We knew if we killed them they would get away. They had no such compunction, and she nailed me across the shoulder with her claws, sharp pain flowing through me. I started to see red.


If I lost control, if I let that rage go, that I was starting to feel, I would kill her. I couldn’t. I had to lock it back away, but I realized it was too late.

Everything was coming out from where it had been hidden. Everything was waking up, and this fight was what I was born for. A fight to protect, in the end, mortal souls and mortal choices.

It all went all ways and I could sense, now, the sparks that were their souls. Father Will’s could not be touched. That light was a protective cage and a beautiful thing. I wondered if he knew how safe he was.

It was probably, I thought, faith. And then…a flash of light threw me backwards.

When my vision cleared, the demons were gone.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 5

Whatever he saw, he didn’t panic. Just as planned, he changed course and gunned the car towards the ambush point. People flattened themselves against buildings, but they didn’t seem to think anything of it.

Armored car with bike escort. That was probably what they saw, or at least what they remembered. I pulled out my gun, but didn’t use it. Thought for a fleeting moment that I should have had Father Will bless the bullets, then wondered if that was redundant.

Probably. The van’s tires screeched, throwing through another turn. I unfastened my seatbelt.

No pot shots…well, no. Maybe one, well above them. I didn’t want to make them back off, but I also didn’t want them thinking the armored car people weren’t fighting back. All of my willpower was focused on one thing. Not being recognized.

Careful. No shooting anyone in the crowd. Somebody screamed, but it wasn’t the sound of somebody being hit so much as logical fear, brought on by the realization that a heist was going on right in front of them.

Other people were, of course, snapping pictures with their cell phones. Typical.

Mike grumbled, “Tourists. Look at them. Somebody’s going to get killed.”

“Let’s try to avoid that. We’re only a block out.”

He nodded. “I won’t ask how you did that, by the way.”

I didn’t ask him what it was I had done. I had a feeling I knew. I popped off another deliberately wide shot, up in the air. It hit a street light and I flinched. I hadn’t wanted to do any damage.
Well, it was done now. The succubi were in hot pursuit. No sign of Martin, though. I was honestly waiting for him to jump on the roof or something. He probably had wings too.

Hot pursuit and they were beautiful and terrifying and I had a feeling I was too, in that moment. And also nondescript and unnoticeable and I really felt apart. Separated. And very alive and real.

This really was what I was born for. I was sure of it. And then we hit the ambush zone…and Mike lost control of the car.

Of course, it was all part of the plan. A perfectly controlled spin to land blocking the street. I was facing them. I opened the door and started to shoot. This time I didn’t really care if I hit them or scared them, because I could already see the other four moving into position behind them.

They’d been, as we hoped, so eager to get the book that they’d failed to notice stuff.

I, though, saw everything. Everything as it really was. Thruor sat her winged steed, the mount of a valkyrie, and shadows and death swirled around her. Father Will glowed faintly…so that was what a halo actually looked like… Seb had a bit of the same about him. And Kanesha…was still Kanesha.

She was too fragile and vulnerable for this, and I loved her, and they knew too.

She was the weak link and they both launched themselves at her. Only for Seb to throw holy water in their faces.

I dropped the gun. It wasn’t the weapon I needed now.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 4

One of the challenges had been finding an armored car attendant uniform to fit me. Not many women, apparently, do that job. Fortunately I’m fairly tall.

Mike was driving.

“You’ve done this before?”

Mike nodded. “We’ve switched cops out for regular drivers when we’ve known there was a threat. Not the fake armored car sting…if the cops did that it would be entrapment. But we’ve done the switch.”

He certainly knew how to handle the vehicle. “The trick is to get them to the place the others are, right.”

“And they can probably sense you, Thea and maybe even the priest.” A pause. “You realize I know what you girls are, right?”

“Does it matter?” It came over a bit too defensive. I was actually interested in what he thought and whether it was right.

“I’d rather have you than a demon. That’s all that really matters. I thought you were just some hunter kid, but you aren’t. I look at you next to Seb, and…”

I fought back a laugh. “Seb knows more of what he’s doing than appears, I think. I think he’s just…really lacking in confidence when it comes to working on his own.”

Mike nodded. “And outside the network you guys are forming. Well, not any more.” He fell silent.

“I’m sorry if bringing you in gets you hurt.”

“I’m a cop. You know. This isn’t really that much more dangerous. And I’m not worried with your friend there.”

Maybe he really had worked out what Thea was. “We’re not angels. You know that, right?”

“No, but like I said, you aren’t demons. I don’t feel…that you guys want to eat my soul, or even just tie me down in a bed and have your way with me.”

I laughed. “I don’t know. Thea might do that…but only if you wanted her to.”

The banter was keeping the tension away. They’d loaded a box of books…fakes, of course. Or ones that just weren’t that valuable but looked it. I didn’t know much about bookbinding.

“I had a feeling that might be the case. Not my scene, but I do know a guy I could introduce her to.”

I laughed again. “Nah. She only does the modeling stuff. For the money, you know. I don’t think she’s really like that.”

He grinned. “Doesn’t matter. I don’t care what people do in their…”

The last word would presumably have been “bedrooms” but he didn’t voice it, because we were suddenly flanked by the succubi.

I saw them now as they truly were. Not beautiful women, but still beautiful, terrible sexless beings with tattered wings.

I wondered what Mike saw.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 3

We had planned the sting for Sunday, allowing Father William to sneakily make extra holy water “for Mass.” Not everyone in the church still believed in literal demons.

Most of them would stop going if they knew what he was doing. Saturday, I had another shoot. It was winter clothing, so I was glad there was no lingering heat. It did, however, mean I wasn’t wearing anything sexy. Martin would be disappointed.

Because, yes, he somehow tracked down the shoot, and was in the cluster of people watching. We were shooting in a park, autumn leaves on the ground. Of course it was attracting attention. For a while. Most of them lost interest and went away – really, a modeling shoot isn’t interesting to watch. A movie or TV shoot is, but modeling is people sitting or standing around and moving their elbows an inch that way.

A few did stay, though. And I noticed a couple of cell phones coming out. Not Martin’s. He stood there in a masculine stance, smirking as he watched. He’d dialed down his apparent age to about 18 or so.

Wasn’t risking me pointing out I wasn’t legal yet, apparently. Once I was out of that series of shots, I rolled my eyes and shot him a look in which I tried to say everything I wanted to say, most of which was less polite variants on go away.

“You got a stalker?” one of the other girls asked. She was Hispanic and had long black hair that many would have envied.

“Yeah, I do.” I glanced at her. “I keep hoping he’ll get bored and wander off.”

“Yeah. This is boring enough to do, and he’s been there a couple of hours now. Just the regular wants in your pants?”

My shoulders slumped. “Yeah. I’m tempted to try telling him I’m a lesbian.”

“I could kiss you,” she offered, jokingly.

“Nah. He’d probably want to watch. Isn’t that a thing with some straight guys?” She did look quite kissable, but I wasn’t kissing somebody just for a joke like that.

I almost heard Loki comment “Why not” but I was pretty sure it was in my head. Of course, he could easily be here. He could be one of the cameramen or something.

Had it been him in Southeast? No. Not his style. He’d have done something else, and I don’t think he would have killed Mr. Clem.

Why kill the guy? I had wanted him dead, but it occurred to me now that the mysterious person had no real reason to other than I did, and they hadn’t done it for me in that sense.

Maybe because he’d been more dangerous than I thought. Or maybe they’d been as disgusted with his implications, with the line he was about to cross, as I was.

Tyr? No, he’d have gift wrapped him for the cops. Tyr was all about following all of the rules.

I forced my mind, again, back to the present.

“Your loss.” A pause. “Are you a lesbian?”

“Not sure yet,” I quipped.

“Oh…got it.” She grinned. “Well, if you ever get sure, or decide to settle into the middle somewhere…”

I laughed. “Now who’s stalking.”

“Difference is I’ll take no for an answer.”

That kind of was the difference, but I shook my head, “Not really interested. But I’ll take it as a compliment.”

It was. It felt like that, from her. But it also felt like it from Martin, too, demon or no demon.

Episode Seven: Stalker: Scene 2

Kanesha emerged in time to meet up with the “demon hunting” party the next evening. I had more modeling gigs and had put in my notice at the sub store.

It would work out much better. More money and while it was certainly harder work, it was more flexible work, too. I remembered what Thruor had said about her not being one of us. I couldn’t repeat that, of course. It might be taken wrong.

I knew it had nothing to do with the color of her skin and everything to do with the fact that…I had to face it. Kanesha was mortal. I probably wasn’t. Thruor had just been reminding me of that. That she was fragile and…

I shook my head a little bit.

“Are you with us, Jane?” Father William asked.

“Mostly. I’m sorry.”

“Okay. We’re going to announce that certain books from the Cathedral library are going to be on display here at St. Jacob’s. Then drop rumors the Black Book will be among them.” Father William frowned.

“But we won’t actually expose it to them. I’d suggest nothing else valuable. They may just try to fireball the church from outside. They can’t come in, but they can do that.” Thruor made a face.

Mike shook his head. “No. We’re going to try and get them to hit on the road. Armored car. I’ll be driving it.”

“I’ll take shotgun,” I said before anyone else could. “You need somebody with you who can sense them. We’ll set up…”

Thruor cut in. “The rest of us are protecting Father Will right here. He’ll have the gear to do the exorcism. Seb and Kanesha, you’re with me. All you need to do is keep them away without scaring them off.” An arch look at Seb at that.

He looked sheepish. “But you have to admit it worked.”

“For your goals, yes.”

He definitely looked sheepish. I almost felt sorry for him, but my eyes drifted to Kanesha again. “Sure you’re up for this?”

“I’m fine. I mean, there’s going to be the four of us and you with the van. We have them outnumbered.”

I started to say that wasn’t what I meant, but I couldn’t. I was afraid to. I was afraid to open up last night, especially in front of witnesses. Afraid not to leave it just sort of lying there in that street in Southeast where we’d left Mr. Clem’s body. They’d brought it in and Kanesha had identified it, no sign she’d been there. Just another Southeast statistic, another shooting.

Another father. But most of them were younger. Most of them were sons. I forced my attention back to the matter at hand and wondered if my question had really been aimed at Kanesha or at myself.