Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 21

The answer was that I didn’t. If they had shot at him, he was on my side by virtue of me being their enemy.

And what had happened to the truce? I tracked Thruor down…not hard…as soon as I could. She was coming out of a 21+ club.

“We have a problem. The cultists are back.”

“Did they break the truce?”

“They apparently shot at that annoying FBI agent who’s been hanging around. Which at least means he’s going to annoy them not me.”

“Until they’re stupid enough to kill him. Which would solve the problem, I suppose.”

It would, but… “And possibly put me in the middle of a cop killing investigation. No thanks. No, we have to keep him alive and work out what changed their minds.”
“Loki hanging around?”

I glanced around. “Maybe. Maybe they think I’m taking his side and they do strike me as the type to be convinced he’s the ultimate bad guy.”

Thruor grumbled under her breath. “No. I think there’s more to it, but we’re going to find out. You, for now, keep up your nobody-notice-me field.”

I nodded. “I’m getting good at that.” It didn’t make me invisible, mind, but it should be enough to keep the cultists off my back, at least for now.

And I was getting quite good at it, and proud of the fact, even if there were very few people I could admit it to.

“Okay. And make sure they fire first so you aren’t the one oathbreaking.”

I half-smiled. “Not that people don’t expect it of me.”

“Your mother would be disappointed.”

The half smile became a laugh. “I suppose she would. But no, I won’t fire first, although if they’re shooting at cops.”

“They’ll get themselves dealt with. You’re right about not wanting to be in the middle of it, though. Have you warned Mike?”

“Kanesha’s supposed to be taking care of that.” I glanced at Thruor. She was all leather and cleavage right now.

Could I dress like that? Maybe. Not yet, though. Not while people thought of me as a sixteen year old. I’d be jailbait.

But it didn’t bother me the way it had when I’d first met her. Probably because it wasn’t important next to all of the killing.


Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 20

“You. Talk. Now.” It was a snow day. I glanced at Kanesha.

“Make that both of you.”

I nodded, stood up, and headed inside. Morrow followed. “There’s beer in the fridge.”

“Anything stronger?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Just beer.” I snagged him a can. “Are you alright?”

“No.” He dropped into a seat. “No, I’m not alright. And neither are you. But…”

“But you think I might know something about something.”

His eyes drifted to me, absolutely terrified. Any more thoughts of Tomorrow jokes departed my mind when I saw the look in his face.

“Talk to me.”

Why had he come here? Because it was something to do with me. But how did he know?

“Somebody wants you dead,” he told me, finally. “And they tried to recruit me to help make this happen.”

A sigh came out of me. “And…”

“Why would somebody want you dead?”

I decided on the blunt, flat truth, “You wouldn’t believe me. But I can try.”

He didn’t respond. “It’s probably the people who think I’m the anti-Christ.”

He laughed. “You. The anti-Christ.”

I nodded. “I thought I’d convinced them I wasn’t.”

“Men in suits. British,” he added, thoughtfully. “And they….what they told me was that your family was going to cause some real trouble. It didn’t make any sense, but when I told them no, the guns came out. I had to shoot one of them before I got away.”

“And you don’t like doing that.” That explained the mix of anger and fear.

“No. I don’t. So. They think you’re the anti-Christ. Delusional makes more sense than what they tried to tell me.”

What had happened to the truce? And I felt something fall into my stomach like rocks. “I have it on good authority not to trust you.”

“We’re even, then. I don’t trust you, Jane Rudi. I don’t believe you’re the anti-Christ, but I don’t trust you. On the other hand…”

“Maybe you can get all their visas canceled,” I suggested.

“I want them locked up. They shot at me.” His tone was cold. “Not just deported. Locked up. For a very long time.”

I had to agree with him, but I still didn’t trust him.

How did I know this wasn’t all an act?

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 19

Of course, I kind of did have a shady past. Sort of. Some days I wondered if I had a past at all; but I knew that was wrong.

Either way, Morrow left us alone for the time being, and all we had to deal with was winter. I’d never have made it to school from PG County, even on the days school was open. We only had so many snow days and we’d already used way above average.

They were threatening us with Saturday school, which would have definitely cut into work. Or a considerably shorter summer vacation.
That made the snow days much less enjoyable. They were fun when you didn’t feel like you’d have to make them up.

And no fun for Mike. He, of course, didn’t get any days off, and he was spending more of his time trying to get homeless people to shelter than chasing bad guys.

Winter was wearing on all of us, but at least it seemed to be a fire giant free zone. And of frost giants, the only one I’d seen was that possible momentary glimpse of Skadi. Overall, I thought we were doing fine, even if the forecast said things would get worse before they got better.

“I really think somebody in this city pissed off Skadi,” Kanesha complained, kicking the snow off her boots. “And they’re saying this will last until March.”

“Or somebody in this city likes Skadi and is hanging out with her,” I quipped. “It’s not me.”

I wasn’t sure about the goddess of winter. She was, after all, also the goddess of vengeance. Which was something I didn’t want to think too much about. I knew I was rather inclined towards seeking it.

“Your dad?”

“He’s never hung out with…” I tailed off. “My uncle, on the other hand.” And I actually blushed.

“Oh. Dear. Yes.”

Maybe that was what was causing winter. Or being caused by winter. Either way, we were approaching the end of January, and it was an ice box. The midwest was even worse off. People were literally dying.
Ragnarok was winter, but I didn’t get the sense this was the start of it. I’d know. I was absolutely certain I’d know.

If nothing else than because I’d have people begging me to take sides. I wondered what would happen if somebody just refused to participate.

It probably wasn’t that easy. But no, this was just winter, and I sort of liked it. And sort of hated it. And then Morrow showed up again.

In, of course, a towering fury.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 18

“I know you’re responsible for this.” This time it wasn’t outside school. It was outside the modeling agency, of all the embarrassing places.

“What?” I asked in genuine innocence.

“Somebody sabotaged my car.”

I shook my head. “Somebody who didn’t like cops. What happened? Slashed tires?”

“More creative than that.” He let out a breath. “You actually didn’t do it?”

I shook my head. “Nah. I’m not into pranks that actually cause people real problems.”

“Just sneaking hot pepper into brownies.”

“That wasn’t a prank.” I knew he’d never believe me, of course.
“Then you’re crazy.”

“I’m not denying that. Just denying sabotaging your car.”

“They disconnected the gas pedal.”

“Then it definitely wasn’t me. I’d have no idea how to do that.” At least it wasn’t the brake pedal. I didn’t want him hurt…if only because suspicion would fall on me. But he had mellowed. Just a teeny tiny bit.

He pursed his lips. “Really?”

“I can’t even drive.”

He could check up on that. I really couldn’t, although I supposed I should fix it once I hit the right age. Well, I could drive a bike. No, I could drive a bike with a mind of its own. That didn’t count.

“You shouldn’t be driving for, what, two more months.”

I nodded a bit. “Exactly. And when I do, I want to go for a motorcycle license. Easier to get through traffic.”

“You’re nuts,” he informed me. But he gave up on me as a suspect for the pranks for now, and wandered off.

“Why you got the cops asking after you?” That was Tiffany, one of the other models, from inside.

“Oh, he’s convinced I’m really hiding some kind of shady past.” I rolled my eyes. “He needs to go find some actual criminals to chase. That obvious that he’s a cop?”

“Oh yeah. You definitely don’t have a shady past if you can’t see it.”

I laughed and went back inside.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 17

“Morrow got fairied,” I told Kanesha the next day.

She laughed. “Oh dear. Not…”

“The one I had a prank war with. That I won.”

“And he doesn’t believe in fairies.”

“Except the kind he doesn’t like.” I was really firm in my opinion that Morrow was the real bigot.

“Kind who doesn’t like?” Mike, coming back in in his uniform and sporting a shiner.

“Morrow. He’s as bigoted as he accuses others of being. I really hope the other guy’s worse off.”

“The other guy’s being fitted for an orange jumpsuit,” Mike said, cheerfully. “But he popped one off on me while Warwick was trying to get him cuffed.”

“Is Warwick okay?” I asked, reaching into the fridge for a can of soda and offering it to Mike.

“He missed him.”

I rolled my eyes. “I won’t ask what the guy did that he felt it necessary to up the ante by punching a cop. He’s lucky you didn’t shoot him.”

“So, what happened to Morrow?”

I told him while I pulled out the salad we’d made earlier and started adding the chicken to it.

He laughed. “Oh dear. He’ll be constantly stumped trying to come up with rational explanations. He’s a total Scully.”

Kanesha raised an eyebrow. “Scully?”

“Before your time.” A pause. “Should watch it some time. Just not the last season. The last season jumped a school of sharks.”

I wasn’t sure what he was talking about either, beyond some old TV show, but I got the point. Whoever or whatever Scully was, they had certain things in common with Morrow. Like not believing in fairies.

“As long as he never works out I had anything to do with it. I mean, I didn’t deliberately set it on him, but…”

“…but you probably attracted it to him. They seem to like you,” Mike noted.

“There are worse things,” I mused. “Have some salad.”

I thought I wouldn’t have to worry as much about Morrow now.

I was, of course, wrong.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 16

Of course, he didn’t really have anything on Kanesha, and he rapidly gave up harassing her in favor of me. So, maybe it wasn’t anything to do with skin color.

“You know, it’s very strange, Ms. Rudi. You don’t seem to exist.”

He’d cornered me outside the school gate. “And? Even today people can slip through the cracks.”

“Not good white girls.”

I smiled slightly. “I never said I was good.”

That got something akin to a barked laugh. “No, you didn’t, did you. Still, no discernable past. A string of stuff following you. And no memory. Or so you claim.”

I knew that allegation would come sooner or later. “Agent Morrow, I haven’t told you anything but the truth.”

“Then how come your home and school burned on the same day?”

“I thought we’d decided that was gang activity.” I kept my tone even. He wasn’t going to get to me.

“Maybe you had. But there’s no evidence, and frankly? I don’t trust you. Or your…girlfriend.”

I half-smiled again. “You don’t have to. We haven’t done anything wrong and you’ll realize that eventually. Don’t you have, you know, drug dealers to chase or something?”

I knew I was getting bold, but I was also getting annoyed. Highly annoyed at Mr. Tomorrow. I kept wanting to call him that, now. Once I’d thought of the pun, it wouldn’t get out of my head.

Tom Oliver Morrow. That would work. And then it would be even crueler, because his initials and first name… But I knew his first name was Dave or David or Daniel or…David. Yeah, definitely David.

“I don’t like a mystery I can’t solve.”

“You might be in the wrong profession, then.” Cops couldn’t solve every case. Which was sometimes a good thing. I felt a sense of some presence, and Morrow glanced around too, as if feeling eyes on him.

“Other professions, Ms. Rudi, tend to have fewer mysteries to attempt.”

“Ah, so the ones you can solve make up for it?” I actually offered him a slight smile. That was a hint of humanity under the mask.

Maybe I could tease a little more of it out, but there was definitely that sense of presence. I hoped I hadn’t attracted a fairy to him.

Too late to hope that. I remembered that fairy, too. The one that had got into a prank war with me, but I was pretty sure it now had Morrow in its sights.

Well. I had no sympathy for him whatsoever. None.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 15

That narrow place was why Kanesha ended up in tears in the school locker room. “He…”

“What did he say? Come on. You’re strong enough not to be knocked down by words.”

“…said I’d never amount to anything because my mother was a junkie and she probably poisoned me with drugs.”

“And you believed him?”

“It’s…it’s the way he said it.”

I hadn’t even asked who he was. Part of me wanted to track Morrow down.

“…and he called me a dyke.”

I flinched. “I wish we’d recorded that. Remember what Mike said about him accusing other cops of bigotry.”

Of course, that was across the fed/local divide, and neither side could stand the other. Still, Morrow was now on my radar in a different way. He didn’t get to hurt my girlfriend and get away with it.

When had I started naturally thinking of her in that way? I wasn’t sure, but it was part of me now. I really did think of her as girlfriend. Which probably was stupid and probably wasn’t going to get me approval in certain quarters, but I didn’t really care.

“We need to find a way to…get rid of him,” I said finally, offering her the kleenex from my pocket.

“I hope he gets distracted by a case he can’t solve and it drives him around the bend for months.”
Which was nicer than some of the things she could have wished on him. I was inclined to agree. “Actually, let me add something. That said case be on the other side of the country.”

She laughed weakly. “Rural North Dakota.”

“Why wish him on the North Dakotans? How about LA?” I grinned at her, although I knew it was somewhat weak. “As for you being a dyke, I can hardly talk.”

“You aren’t a dyke, not the way I saw you looking at that guy at the club.”

I laughed a bit. “Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up.” The locker room was a good place to hide, but Kanesha skipping class would be noticed right away. Me skipping class, not so much.
Quite the scholar. I remembered that. Morrow had…accused other cops of bigotry. Maybe he’d accused them of something within his own heart. I hoped I’d get an opportunity to have some kind of nasty word with him.

Well, I did know I’d have to be careful.

Maybe I’d just set my dad on him. No. If I couldn’t handle an FBI agent, then what could I handle? Vampires, I supposed.

But Morrow was definitely turning into a problem. And one I couldn’t solve with a bullet.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 14

The fact that Loki shared my instincts about Morrow made me wary. I passed on the warning when I talked to Kanesha.

Morrow was going to work things out we didn’t want him to work out. I was absolutely sure of that. I wasn’t afraid of him. Just…worried he might cause me a headache.

No, if I was honest, I was more worried about headaches for Mike and Kanesha. Kanesha’s dad had been a crook, after all, and she never talked about her mother.

Which I maybe should have pressed on, but I cared for her too much to harass her about it.

Well, until now. “Kanesha,” I said across the dinner table. “I hate to ask it, but whatever happened to your mom?”

“She…” Kanesha sighed. “Killed herself. Drug overdose, we think deliberate although she never left a note.”

I closed my eyes for a moment. “Sorry.” It wasn’t surprising she hadn’t brought it up. Kanesha was the sort of person to see suicide as a personal failure rather than a mental illness, and this was her mother we were talking about.

“It’s ancient history. I just…I miss her and I’m embarrassed by her and…” A pause. “Why did you ask?”

“Agent Morrow.”

Mike stepped in. “Oh, not him.”

I turned. “What do you know about him?”

“He thinks all beat cops are poorly trained bigots. And he has no sense of humor. And he’s always looking for excuses to arrest everyone he meets. Which isn’t even really his job.”

“And he’s poking around Kanesha. That’s why I asked.” There wasn’t anything he could get her on, though. She’d never used drugs. Or touched alcohol when Thruor offered it.

Now I thought I understood more of why. She was terrified of ending up a junkie or, worse, a dead junkie. I vowed then I’d never press her on anything.

“Yuck. I’ll see if I can’t get somebody to find a nice juicy case to distract him. There’s so much here that crosses state lines it should be easy.”

“Be careful. Loki doesn’t trust him.”

“Loki trust a cop?”

I shook my head. “He trusts you.” I knew that was true. He wouldn’t have been in here otherwise.

“Was he the one raiding my beer?”

I grinned. “‘Fraid so.”

“Well, good. I can’t let you raid it.”

I hadn’t. I didn’t want him in trouble.

He turned to Kanesha. “Tell Morrow what he asks and don’t tell him a thing more. He doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be explained by the laws according to Morrow.”

Maybe that was why Loki didn’t like him, but I got the point. And the laws according to Morrow, I thought, defined a very narrow place.

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 13

I suspect the smell of cayenne brownies brought him. He was limping slightly, but otherwise seemed fine.

“I hear you got beaten up by fire giants defending my honor.”

“My own fault for letting them lure me into Muspelheim.” He claimed a brownie and munched on it.

“I can defend my own honor, you know. Although, if you have time to prank an FBI agent…”


“Morrow. Sadly, his initials aren’t T.O.” Which would have been cruelty, I thought, on the part of his parents. “He’s determined to find out who I really am.”

“Oh. He shouldn’t be too much of a problem.” Loki flopped onto Mike’s couch, red hair loose and seeming longer than usual.

“I hope not. But we might need to put some wild geese in his way.” I snagged a brownie myself and perched on the other end of the couch. “Your brother was here. He told me to be careful.”

“He plays with your head, you know.”

“Says the Trickster.”

Loki shrugged eloquently, munching on his brownie. “I don’t pretend to be anything but.”

“I’m used to having my head played with. He was warning me about something but expecting me to know what it was.”

“Or watching to see if you could work it out. He doesn’t give direct answers.”

“Again, says the Trickster.”
Thruor was more direct than either of them, I thought with amusement. But there was definitely something going on.

Then there was a knock on the door. I got up to answer it, glanced at the couch. Loki had abruptly de-aged to about seventeen.

It was Agent Morrow. “Pardon the visit, but…” Then he peered at Loki.

“Just a friend. Luke…sorry about this.”

Loki maneuvered into a sitting position, and then standing. Then he offered Morrow a brownie. Without, of course, warning him.

I wasn’t in the mood to either, and tried not to smile as the agent took it, took a bite, and sputtered. “What…what’s in that thing?”

“Cayenne and cinnamon,” I told him. “It’s…an acquired taste.”

“Or you just keep them around to prank unsuspecting visitors,” Morrow accused, flatly.

I shrugged, took a big bite out of mine to demonstrate that I really did like the taste, then set it down. “If you’re looking for Mike, he’s out.”

“I was looking for Kanesha, actually. Is she out as well?”

I nodded. “She went to the library.”

“Quite the young scholar.” His tone implied that he didn’t entirely approve. Of something. Or maybe his lips were still burning from the brownie. “Tell her I need to talk to her.”

“I will.” And then Morrow turned and left.

Loki was watching him go. “Don’t trust that man.”

“He’s just a detective who likes to apply the law literally.”

“No. He’s more dangerous than that.”

Episode Ten: Hunters: Scene 12

I felt more than a little worried and uncomfortable about the fact that somebody was poking into my past. Would they find anything?

Was there something planted for them to find? I rather thought there should be. Something innocuous. Ordinary parents, dead in a crash on 66. But Agent Morrow was going to worry at it like a dog until he found the marrow in the bone.

I couldn’t do a thing about him, not really. I did hope, mostly, that he didn’t find whoever had killed Mr. Clem. I hadn’t been able to, but I wasn’t a trained detective.

I felt as if everything was on a knife’s edge. Winter, a worse winter than normal, had descended on the city and I felt that tension too. I was also fairly sure I caught a glimpse of Skadi in the blizzards, the goddess of winter, the giantess who had so impressed Odin he had granted her fair wergild.

Maybe. Maybe it was my own imagination, which wasn’t always tamed. I stood at the edge of the mall and watched the snow fall. Not far away, somebody’s puppy was playing, clearly bemused by this strange, cold white stuff falling from the sky. I managed a smile, but I also felt a presence.

I didn’t turn around. “You’re here.” Not my father. That other, much stronger presence. The Allfather was here. And that couldn’t just be something casual.


I turned slightly. He looked like any other old man. Trench coat. Patch over the missing eye. Straggly beard. I almost told him he looked like a bum.

He heard what I almost told him. “People tend not to notice the poor.”

I scowled a little. “You’re right, but…why are you here? If you wanted to watch snow…”

“I could find far more impressive snow. You’re right. And you know it’s not that much.”

I nodded. I did know. Not remember, exactly, but this really was rather pathetic snow, especially for the impact it was having. It fell, drifting, down from the grey sky. “People here don’t.” I found myself relaxing slightly. “You want something.”

“I want you to be careful.”

“I always am.” Now I turned to face him. He was toning down the presence that would intimidate even the gods. “Any particular reason? And please tell me we have something planted for that FBI guy to find.”

His lips quirked. “I think you can handle one nosy cop.”

Which was neither a yes nor a no. But he was…checking on me. That was all, but why would he do so personally? I sighed, finally, “What did my father do now?”

“He decided he would try and cool Surtur’s ardor for you. Don’t worry. He’s not badly hurt.”

I winced. “I’ll make him cayenne brownies. But I at least haven’t seen much in the way of fire giants lately.”

“It won’t last.”

“More likely to see frost giants in this weather, I suppose.” Which I knew to be true. Fire giants would like summer.

What did it say that I was wishing for more snow?