Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 8

I didn’t have long to wait. They ambushed me as I came out of the agency after setting up a shoot.

“Hey, pretty.”

I didn’t even turn, even though it was a female voice calling, not a male.

One man, one woman, and they had me flanked. I rolled my eyes. “If you want to hire me, ask inside.”

“Not as a model.”

“If you were the ones behind the mind controlled kids, forget it. I don’t appreciate being manipulated like that.”

“Fine words from you.” The woman moved slightly in front of me. “We do know exactly who you are.”

“I’m not one for harmful pranks.” My father was…but also a lot of harmless ones. But I had never hurt anyone.

“They wouldn’t have been hurt. We had wards on them.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Could you really be sure of that, given you do know exactly who I am?”

“Please. We need your help.”

“Then you should have asked, not done that…whatever your motivation was.”

I did wonder what it was.

“We had to be sure you could tell the difference.”

I let out a breath. She sounded desperate. “Look. I help people. I protect people. But the way you tested me? It was wrong. It was absolutely and utterly wrong I can’t let that pass.”

“The person you’d be helping wasn’t involved.”

Angry, I brushed past her, quickening my pace away from them. They clearly weren’t up to taking me on, at least in physical combat. At that moment I really didn’t care who needed my help. Or what. I cared that they’d tried to trick me, and there was a part of me that was dismissing them as mortals.

Which meant I needed to get a grip. I wasn’t about to start acting like that, no matter how accurate to some things it might be.

Get a grip. Not an easy thing to do, now or ever. And the only person who could bring me back down to Earth was Kanesha.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 7

“She’d better not have reminded you of the story.”

That was Loki’s voice, and it sounded as soon as I stepped inside. “What story?” I asked in all innocence.

“I know who you were hanging out with.”

“I like her,” I admitted, brightly. But I was not admitting to any mention of the story concerned. That involved a goat.

“You would.” A pause. “Well, at least she won’t let any fire giants near you.”

I laughed. “No, she won’t. I also get the impression she’s quite up to freezing any guy who goes after a woman who isn’t interested.”

“Definitely.” He tossed me a small bag of candy. I knew without even looking it would be red hots or something like that. This was, after all, the great prankster we were talking about it.

I ate one anyway. Yup. Red hots. Well, there were worse tasting things in the universe. I set the bag down. “You aren’t here just to ask if Skadi was talking out of school.”

“It wasn’t Odin who set those possessed kids on you.”

“Do you know who it was, then?” It was the kind of test he might do, but if it wasn’t him, I was at a loss. “Tell me not another suitor.”

Loki laughed. “Magni has his eyes on you too, but if he decides to come courting he’ll be very obvious about it. He’s just like his dad in that regard.”

And he hadn’t decided to show up yet. That might actually be a point in his favor.

“No. It’s somebody who’s hoping you’ll help them with something.” Loki blew across his nails. “I told them outright their little test would make you less inclined to do it, even if nobody got hurt.”

I sighed. “I will eat all of the next batch of brownies if you don’t tell me who it is.”

“Such threats. Alright, alright. It’s not even a god that did it. It’s a very, very powerful witch.”

I thought of Clara, but she wasn’t that powerful, surely. “And they want me to beat something up for them that they can’t deal with by witchcraft.”


“Well. So, the test wasn’t that I wouldn’t hurt those kids after all.” But that was Odin’s be careful. I’d just jumped to the wrong conclusion. “They wanted to see me fight. Screw them. They can go hire some muscle.”

“Just be careful. They’ll probably come talk to you.”

I grinned and held up the unlabeled candy. “I’m armed and dangerous.”

“Dangerous, at least.” He winked at me and faded out like the Cheshire cat, even down to his smile being the last thing to disappear.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 6

He hadn’t rejected me – I realized that was the root of my fear and tension. Being rejected for who I was would be as bad as the marriage bait stuff.

He also hadn’t rejected me for telling him I was dating Kanesha. That, I realized, had been another fear.

It wasn’t like some people hadn’t stopped talking to both of us, after all. Not people I thought were particularly worth keeping around, mind, but still. It was still the case that some people didn’t want to know me any more.

Those people would never know who I was and they wouldn’t believe it if I did try to tell them. But they were there, and it still hurt. And the Gay and Lesbian club was now telling me I had to call myself a lesbian.

How could I when I still liked boys? It was less important than the other stuff, but it still niggled at me, as if there might be something wrong with me. Worrying about that given I wasn’t even human was stupid, but I couldn’t get rid of it.

In lighter moments, I entirely blamed my father. His influence on my making. It wasn’t like he stuck to women. Or humanoids. Was it bestiality if you were shapeshifted at the time?

I wasn’t going to ask on that one. And I got the impression the entire horse incident was just a bit of a sore point anyway.

In any case, I had decided to mostly keep it from mattering. Mostly, but when you can’t hold your girlfriend’s hand without at least one person giving you an arch look. Usually two, one because we were both girls and one because she was black.

Well. I guess I wasn’t one to make easy choices. Bruce, though, didn’t care. Loki didn’t seem to care, although I got the impression he thought I could have whatever flings with mortals I liked same as he had.

Like it somehow didn’t count. Maybe mother felt the same way and that was why she hadn’t and didn’t dump him for the stuff he did.

Thinking about it all gave me a slight headache. I opted to work out instead, going out onto the mall and finding a quiet place that wouldn’t be overlooked, doing calisthenics in the snow.

I still didn’t really think it was that cold, but I paid lip service to the idea that it was supposed to be, and I knew it was miserable for people stuck out on the street. Kanesha and the community center had organized a soup drive for Saturday – we were going to go out and give cups of hot soup to homeless and poor people. I thought it was a pretty good idea. People could die in this weather.

Just not me. And I got some odd looks from the couple of people who did see me. They probably just thought I was hardcore, though.

The feeling of Skadi’s presence suddenly became stronger, and then I saw her. She was leaning against the tree.

“You don’t look like a giantess,” I quipped.

“I’m trying not to stand out. Care for some company?”

I nodded. The goddess of Winter, after whom Scandinavia was named, and somebody who’d brought Odin to terms. I wasn’t about to say no to her. Besides, I actually thought I would like the company.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 5

Bruce showed up about ten minutes later with hot chocolate…for himself and the worker. Given he hadn’t known I would be there, I couldn’t be annoyed for more than a moment. Probably shouldn’t have been annoyed for a moment, but I was. Hot chocolate would have been nice.


“Sorry. I’ve been…busy.”

He set down the hot chocolate and offered me a chaste hug, which I accepted. “Which means this probably isn’t a social call.”

“I think a new student at the school may be an untrained witch. Just in case, I was hoping…”

“I can probably find somebody to take her if you’re right. But if that’s all of it…come in back?”

He offered me his hot chocolate. I found the maturity to refuse, but I settled onto one of the mismatched chairs. “That’s all of it. I’ve been busy.”

“And learning.”

“That too.” I considered it for a long moment. Should I tell him who I was? Did he already know? Somehow, I was afraid telling him would put him in danger. But I also felt not telling him was betraying a friend.

“Do you know who you are yet?”

Not telling him when he asked…but I felt myself clam up. There was something embarrassing about claiming it, like admitting to being really good at something; except this wasn’t something I’d chosen. Unless souls chose who they were before they were born, which I knew some people believed.

But no. This was how I’d been made, how I’d come into existence, and nothing could change it. Nothing would, either. I might want it to sometimes, but who gets what they want?

“What’s the matter?”

I laughed. “It’s just…I’m still not comfortable talking about it, that’s all. Even to people I know. Especially to people I know.”

“I know you’re not human, or at least not entirely human.”

I sighed. “Not at all. But don’t worry. I’m not a demon either.”

“I tested that when I first began to realize you weren’t just some kid who lost her memory.”

I looked away from him for a moment. I couldn’t blame him, but he might have told me. “Let me guess, you didn’t want to say anything…”

“I didn’t know what powers were involved.”

“Odin,” I said without looking back.

“…might have known. He’s supposedly got a history of dumping various people on Midgard with no memory either as punishment or for training.”

“More the latter.” I finally looked back at him. “But…I’m…I’m Loki’s daughter.”

“Oh gods.” He studied me. “Sorry…I…but you…”

“I’m not evil. But I didn’t want to tell you because he’s been checking on my friends.”

“And once he’s around, you’ll never get rid of him or, at least, his attention.” Bruce laughed a bit.

“He likes chocolate with cayenne in it.”

Bruce shook his head. “I know that. Everyone who’s had dealings with him knows that. I don’t know what he did before Columbus.”

“Pretended to be an Aztec god, probably.”

We both laughed and the tension went out of the room.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 4

The sense of a mild disturbance, though, grew. I wasn’t sure what to do with or about it, for now, so I ignored it.

I’d keep an eye on her and if she turned out to have some kind of talent, maybe I could refer her to somebody who could help her with it. That, I reckoned, was about all I could do. I knew for sure that she wasn’t like me, and even if she had been, Thruor would be more of a help than I would.

I still had days when I felt like I didn’t know anything at all and didn’t want to. I still had days when I felt like, basically, an infant. But that was the way things were, and I was, after all, just a kid.
Thruor gave off that air of being older and wiser and still young and fresh. It was probably what Mike saw in her.

Probably. I hadn’t asked, mostly because I didn’t want to know. This, though, was a subtle twirling, tendrils focusing around the school, reaching out. Like a spider’s web, and I was pretty sure Clara was the spider. Knowing or unknowing.

I’d prefer knowing. Unknowing was likely to lead to a serious mess. If she knew what she was doing, I had a reasonably decent chance of convincing her to stop. If she didn’t, I’d have to contact Bruce and find a witch to train her.

And that would take longer and be much more dangerous. Studies being pointless? If she was suicidal, that would make things all the worse.

If she thought she could make a living off of magic…well, maybe she could. Run a store like Bruce’s. Pick up a few business skills, easy enough, and those who knew would know she had a few spells up her sleeve.

I honestly hoped it was that, but I didn’t think so. I sensed something from her that…that I didn’t like at all.

I didn’t need this on top of the shaky truce with the cult, on top of whatever Surtur might plan once the weather warmed up.

I didn’t need any of it, to be honest. The weather was such that I wanted to curl up in a corner with hot chocolate until spring. Maybe that was all Clara felt. The winter was just…closing in like a trap, much colder than normal.

I was starting to feel a certain amount of guilt. I wasn’t doing it, but how did I know I wasn’t attracting it somehow? I didn’t, was the truth.

Clara wasn’t. She was just making ripples, little mini waves in the ether, as it were. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it might indeed be untrained talent combined with depression.

So. I needed to talk to Bruce, but I didn’t want to bring anything down on him. Asking Kanesha to go would be just as bad as going myself, though, so I steeled myself and made the evening trek to Old Town.

It was cold, but the various restaurants and stores showed inviting warmth. I shook the snow off my boots as I stepped into the magic store.

Bruce wasn’t there. A young woman was behind the counter. Older than me, but definitely not old. “Can I help you?”

“Looking for Bruce.”

“He went to get more hot chocolate.” I felt an inner relief that he was only on a mundane errand, a feeling that it could have been much worse. “I can wait.”

While I did so, I looked at the deity statues, but there weren’t any good ones of Odin or Loki. Most of them seemed to be goddesses, not gods.

That seemed to me to be a bit of an oversight.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 3

The school was almost back to normal by now. They’d fixed most of the fire damage and reopened the affected classrooms. The teachers were still tense, though. They might have arrested and charged the person they thought did it, but…

Plus, it was a good excuse to treat us like we should be wearing orange jumpsuits. So, I wasn’t that surprised to hear sobbing from one of the classrooms. I was slightly surprised to feel a faint disturbance associated with it.

Slipping inside, I realized it was a freshman. She had her head on the desk.

“Are you alright?”

She jumped about six feet into the air. “Eep.”

“It’s okay. I don’t bite.” Which I thought was pretty much accurate. I tried not to bite, anyway.

“I’d taste bad,” she managed.

“So, what’s wrong?”

“I hate this place. I wish my parents could homeschool me. I just…I want out, you know.”

“Any particular reason?” I sat on a desk nearby. “Go ahead, you can vent. I have days when I want to shake the dust off of my feet too.”

“Only days?”

I shrugged. “I’m a little more resigned to it, I suppose.”

“I just…I mean, I’ve only been here a few months and I just feel…tired. Tired of being told who to talk to and what to wear, and that what I’m wearing is going to distract boys. Like it’s more important that they get an education than me.”

I shook my head. “I know what you mean.” I’d never really been tempted to break dress code, but she had a good point about how it did seem that it was more important to not distract boys than to study yourself. “It’s an insult to boys, too. Most of them actually can keep their eyes off your shoulders.”

She laughed a bit. “Thanks. You’re helping.”

“I try. My name’s Jane.”

“Clara,” she introduced.

It wasn’t a surprise that I’d never really noticed her before. I didn’t pay much attention to freshmen, any more than anyone else did. But why did I get that odd sense that there was something about her.

“Just bear with it. Worry about your studies and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Let’s get to class before we’re both in trouble.”
She murmured something about her studies being pointless, but scurried off in what I assumed was the direction of her next class.

I made a mental note to keep an eye on her.

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 2

“You should just kick their butts.”

“Nah. Too many of them. I’d never have time for anything else.” I didn’t turn to look at Loki. “Although I could use a butt to kick. Know of any vermin around that need dealing with?”

“Honestly, I’m not sure where you got that particular brand of bloodthirstyness.”

“Hanging out with valkyries?” I did turn at that point to flicker him a grin. “Seriously. I could use something to fight.”

“Give it time. I’m sure something will come up.” He glanced at the sky. “Skadi’s busy again.”

“Climate change?” I repeated with a shrug.

“Yet another reason to consider wiping the board clean.”

“Nah. Let them clean up their own mistakes.” Maybe that was uncharitable, but it was the best argument I could think of right now.

“Surtur might not agree with that.”
“Surtur can…oh wait, he’s practically from there.” Except that what he’d shown me had been beautiful. Really beautiful.

Well, I could resist Surtur. His world might be beautiful, but I wasn’t going to burn this one for it. Or for anyone.

“You really think so?”

I shook my head. “Nah. He showed me. I can appreciate the beauty. But he can keep his hands off me.”

“Good. You have taste.”

“I dunno about that. I did almost sleep with that demon.”

“Eh, well. Demons are good at being your type.”

I laughed. “Speak for yourself, shapechanger.” I felt better, though. Less like I needed to go punch something. He’d probably shown up just to cheer me up.

“Still want to learn?”

I shook my head. “Not right now. I think I need to wait until I’m sure who I want to be. I’m still not.”

Or maybe I was sure, but not sure it could happen. I shied away from the thought.

“Good. You have plenty of time. Don’t let Odin push you into anything.”

I made a face at the name. “He’s not my favorite person right now.”

“He wouldn’t have let you actually kill them.”

“I know.” I fell silent, heading home at a slightly quicker pace. I still didn’t have to be happy about it…

Episode Eleven: Interludes: Scene 1

Unfortunately, all the cops could pin on stalker boy for now was him threatening me with a gun he didn’t have a license for.

Hopefully that would give them enough time to get the evidence together. As for the “cop issue” bullets – they turned out to be a fairly common type of ammunition, although one used a fair bit by cops.

Well. That was the way of things, I thought. Either they’d keep him in jail or they wouldn’t, but I wasn’t going to do anything about him unless he got out and came after me and I could call it self defense.

The end result, though, felt faintly dissatisfying. I wanted more of a fight than I’d gotten. Maybe I should go vampire hunting again, but the city seemed fairly vermin-free right now.

I settled for a couple of sparring sessions with Thruor that left us both sweating and sporting bruises that healed quickly. It helped, but it wasn’t quite enough.
Truth was, I wanted to make sure that Her Ladyship was avenged, even though – or perhaps because – she had technically been my enemy. That was the truth of it, and if he got out, I didn’t know what I’d do.

The city was still locked in the grasp of winter – in fact, it was even worse now. Snow on the ground, the sky that odd steel white color that so often promised more. February and winter. Maybe I’d somehow brought the chill myself. I hadn’t been here last winter.

No, it was the way things were. It felt natural, anyway. Or, at least, not supernatural. Maybe it was climate change, but that wasn’t supernatural. Human stupidity, maybe.

They had plenty of that without needing help. I had all of these thoughts while walking home from school.

And was interrupted by a cultist on either side.

“Oh, please.”

“Was it really that kid who did it?”

“I think so. But I can’t be sure. I know he killed somebody else, though.” He hadn’t been that much of a kid, I thought.

The man nodded. “I’d like to believe you, at least.”

Like to meant he wasn’t sure. “Maybe the cops can find something. The gun and bullets were right.”

“I hope so.”

“All I want is to continue the ceasefire. I’m doing what I can to make sure the world doesn’t end tomorrow.”

He laughed. “Looking at this snow…”

“It’s natural, I assure you.” Skadi might be around, but she hadn’t caused this any more than she always did, being what she was.

Now, that was an insight that had come out of nowhere.

“Maybe, but…it’s not normal.”

“Climate change?” I quipped.

“Eh. Look. You can have your ceasefire, but if we find one piece of evidence you had anything to do with her death.”

“What motivation would I have? She wasn’t causing me any trouble and I sort of liked her.” Respected, anyway.

“Eh,” he said again, then he and his silent buddy peeled off. I felt my heart rate return to normal.

Stupid cultists anyway.