Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 20

Somebody else’s holy water felt inappropriate. At the same time, Tyz’vel had shown absolutely no fear of holy things or people from Asgard. So, it was probable that it was the only thing that would actually work. Which meant I had to pay a visit to Father Will.

Before I did so I stopped and bought one of those bottles people use to deter cats from scratching. Which was, yes, treating him as an animal.

It was quite intentional. He was, after all, acting like one. Although, did demons have any choice? They started out as angels, and then they did something to get themselves tossed out and into Hell, where they had to be bad people.

They still didn’t have freedom, even though they thought they did. Spray bottle tucked into my purse, I headed for Father Will’s church with that thought in my mind.

They still didn’t have freedom, even though they thought they did. That might be important in some way, at some level.

That might be important and I frowned a little and then quickened my pace. I was still going to keep him away from me, but now I felt just a little bit sorry for him. Not that I was sure how much free will I had either.

Maybe free will was for mortals. But I had chosen to let myself love Kanesha. I had chosen to be a model. Maybe there were just more restrictions.

Or maybe, as Thruor had implied more than once, what I was still wasn’t set in stone, giving me choices a true goddess would not possess.

I reached the church and stepped inside, glancing around for Father Will, angels, or anything else. No, but there was a pregnant woman praying. I gave her a polite wide berth. She looked very pregnant indeed, and maybe she was asking for an easy birth. Who wouldn’t, in her situation?

The sense of being in somebody else’s house was strong as I slipped back towards the vestry. Right as Father Will stepped out of it.

“Hello, Jane.”

“Can you do me a favor?” I asked.


“Couple of bottles of holy water.”

“I heard he was back. Banishing him again…”

“…will just slow him down. I need to convince him to target somebody else.”

“I’ll get it for you. Come in back?”

The pregnant woman watched a little bit oddly as we left. I hoped she didn’t think her priest was breaking his vows with an underaged girl. “Maybe I should…”

He laughed. “Nah. They think you’re interested in a career that involves veils.”

I blinked and laughed louder. “I’d almost rather they thought we were having an affair.”

We ducked through the connecting hallway to his vicarage, and he headed further inside. I was stopped in the entrance.

“I didn’t know you had a cat.”

“I didn’t. She decided to move in.”

I made sure the cat wasn’t a shapeshifter before reaching down to rub her behind the ears. She started up a purr a tiger would have been proud of. “She’s gorgeous. What’s her name?”

“Gertrude. Or Gertie. After Gertrude of Nivelles.”

“I’m guessing she’s the patron saint of cats.”


Gertie, not particularly caring about her name, just purred.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 19

It wasn’t enough for me to be comfortable, though. True, we could come up with ways for our inner circle, as it were.

What about the kid next to Kanesha in class? I knew Tyz’vel was likely doing this with the primary goal of rendering me paranoid. Didn’t stop me from getting, well…


Which meant I needed a witch. “Hey, Clara.”

“What’s up?”

“There’s a shapeshifter wandering around that I can’t get rid of. I can detect him, but my friends can’t. Is it possible to make some kind of, I don’t know, magical warning system?”

“What is he?”


Clara considered, then nodded. “I can’t do it but I know somebody who can. How many do you need?”

I considered. “Can you and Seb detect demons?”

She nodded. “He already has one, and I can do it.”

“Then I only need two for right now.”

A grin. “I’ll get it set up. You don’t even owe me a favor.”

“Thanks.” Witches often traded in favors, Bruce had told me. “Although if you ever need anyone or anything beating up, I’m your girl.”

Clara grinned again. “I know that.”
That part of things settled, I added, “Now to find a way to convince him to leave permanently.”

“What does he want, anyway?”

“My pants.”

Clara laughed. “I’d say not your soul, but I don’t think that’s in any particular danger.”

“He’d like that too,” I mused. “He asked me to marry him.”

“Oh dear. He’s got it bad.”

I nodded. “Very bad. I keep hoping he’ll lose interest in me and go for somebody else, but it hasn’t happened yet.”

That was my best hope, that he’d get distracted by another interesting female. Or male, I wasn’t sure he cared any more than I did. Possibly less.

“I’ll think on it, but I don’t have any bright ideas if he’s that determined.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll work on it. Just keep your eyes open. He might decide to harass you.”

She grinned. “I’ll get Father Will to give me a vial of holy water to toss in his face.”

“…that’s a good idea. I’ll have to do that too.” It really was a good idea. Or maybe, I could… “Thanks, Clara.”

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 18

Tyz’vel elected not to follow up, perhaps because he really had planned on setting fire to the place with us all trapped inside and trusting that I would survive.

Or maybe he wasn’t even concerned with my physical survival. He was a spirit himself, after all. Or…I didn’t understand how it worked. We went back inside and finished the shoot with no more problems.

“Ugly prank,” the director said afterwards. “Thought it was funny to put people in the dark, and the fire escape door was jammed. Which I promise I’ll get fixed before we use this place again.”

I slipped out with Monica. “You got a fake ID?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Live with a cop, remember. You go ahead and get drunk. I’ll do what I need to do to clear my head.”

“It was your stalker, wasn’t it.”

I nodded. “Yeah. It was. He apparently thought that was funny or something.”

Monica shook her head. “Half hope he shows up in a ditch. That door was really jammed. I thought…”

“So did I. Which was probably the point. He wouldn’t have actually done anything.” I added that lie to reassure her, but I was starting to wonder if I should, well, do anything. Hang out with anyone who wasn’t part of all of this and used to dealing with it.

A horrible thought and I knew it wasn’t healthy, but people around me did tend to get hurt. I wasn’t responsible for them getting hurt, but it still happened.

Take no responsibility for the actions of your enemies, Thruor would say. Just do your best to stop them.

I didn’t feel as if I was doing my best. I went straight home, got my gear, and went out hunting vampires, imps, or whatever I could find. I actually did find a vampire and killed it. It made me feel better. It made me feel, at the very least, more in control of the situation. I might not be able to deal with Tyz’vel, but I’d stopped some poor soul from being eaten.

I might not be able to deal with Tyz’vel. I could keep “killing” him, I supposed. Then it occurred to me.

I could tell the difference between the real Kanesha and Tyz’vel pretending to be her. Could Mike? I headed home at full speed, rushing into the house.

No sense or sight of the demon. “Mike…we need to talk.”

“What’s up?”

“Tyz’vel’s latest trick is shapeshifting into people. He did a pretty good Kanesha impression.”

Mike sighed. “Great. We need passwords.”

I nodded. “I can smell him anyway. The rest of you…yeah. Passwords. Once Kanesha and Thruor show up we’ll work on some.”

Passwords were good.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 17

Like that would stop me. I tried to kick in the hinges. Nothing. Somebody screamed again, and I could hear rattling.

They were trying to get the fire escape open. But if I couldn’t open the doors, nobody else here could. I could hear Monica’s breathing next to me.

“Or somebody’s really messing with us. The door’s barricaded from the outside.”

“You’re kidding.”


If they set fire to the building…but I knew it was Tyz’vel. Taking everyone here hostage to get me to agree to go with him. What could I do? Kanesha knew the risks. These people were genuine innocents. I couldn’t let them be hurt or killed.

I couldn’t go with him. Which meant that I had to solve this some other way. He knew my strength, but… “Let’s try together, okay?”

I leaned against the door and so did Monica. It gave abruptly and we both fell out into the corridor. The sudden light dazzled me. “Monica, get everyone out.”

She nodded. “What…”

“I think I know who did this. I’m going to knee him in the nuts.”

“Go girl.”

The question was where was he? I stepped out into the street. He was there, opposite, and he’d chosen an appearance that looked like Kanesha if somebody added a Y chromosome. He clapped slowly. “How did you do it?”

“You underestimated me again, Tyz’vel.” Using his real name out loud was a gamble, but everyone else was more interested in getting out. “Now, here’s how this is going to work. You’re going to leave me alone.”

“Or? You’ll blow up my physical form? You know that will just slow me down. And if you come with me I’ll teach you the trick, Asgardian.”

My lips quirked. “Nice offer, but no thanks. You aren’t my type.”

He shifted into Kanesha. “I am now.”

I laughed a bit. “I can tell the difference. You aren’t that good a mimic.”

Tyz’vel shrugged. “You aren’t that good a warrior. And I think you’d find it hard to beat me up right now.”

He was right: I would find it hard, but at the same time. “I’ll wipe that face right off of you. But I’m not in the mood. I will deal with you.”

“What are you going to do? Call your mother?”


It occurred to me that the goddess of fidelity would have little patience with demons.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 16

Hearing that an experienced, mature goddess had to think on the problem didn’t exactly inspire me with confidence. I trusted her, but what if she couldn’t come up with a solution either?

And if she was right, kicking him the balls wouldn’t cool his ardor at all. So far nothing had, except to make him more inclined to take me by force. Or guile. He was a shapeshifter, after all, and while I was pretty sure I could spot him, pretty sure wasn’t absolutely sure.

Heck, he might decide he’d have a better chance with me as a woman. That way, though, lay paranoia. He probably wouldn’t insert himself as a student again.

I had a shoot after school, and I surreptitiously checked everyone I didn’t recognize and even most of those I did.

“You seem nervous,” Monica noted.

“My stalker’s back.”

“Oh, ew. The guy who sneaked into a shoot before?”

“Yeah. I don’t need him in my life.”

“No, you don’t, especially not when you already have a…girlfriend.” She paused on the word, as if it didn’t really come naturally to her.

“I got a restraining order, but you know how much they stop people like that.”

“Not at all. Zip me up?”

At least she trusted me to do that even though I had a girlfriend. A couple of the other women I’d worked with didn’t want me touching them. And it would be insulting to point out that they weren’t my type. I’d gone for trying to emphasize that I was taken and trying to be faithful.

Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. I zipped Monica up. She turned around. “Ta-da.”

“You look fantastic. Then again, you look fantastic in anything.”

“You aren’t so bad yourself.”

It was a little cold in the dressing room for the summer clothes we were wearing. Better out under the lights.

Then the power went out. The photographer swore like a sailor. The room we were using had no windows. It was pitch black.

Somebody screamed. I tried to listen, tried to work out what was going on without the luxury of vision. I should be able to use other senses, I told myself firmly. The scream had stopped fairly quickly.

Hopefully somebody was just a little bit afraid of the dark. The door was this way. I moved slowly towards it, bumped into Monica.


“…it’s Jane. I’m trying to get to the door and open it so we can see.”

For a moment, the lights flickered on, illumination like lightning, then they went out again.

“Looks like they’re working on it.”

I knew that wasn’t the case. I could feel him as strong as if he was touching me. “Or somebody’s messing around with the circuit breaker.”

I moved towards the door again, found it. It would not open.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 15

Sigyn considered. “The young woman you are with.”


“How serious is it?”

“As serious as it can be given the circumstances.” I offered her a smile. “I know it won’t be forever, but… But part of my concern is her being used against me. Or simply eliminated.”

“I can at least help protect her spiritually.” Sigyn paused. “It’s your responsibility, but you aren’t…ready yet.”

I nodded. “I know I’m not. I’d have no idea what to do.” I let out a breath. “And we’re teaching her to protect herself better physically.”

“But it’s possible Surtur will respect the relationship and back off.”

I shook my head. “He hired a bunch of thugs to kidnap her. I don’t call that respecting the relationship.”

Sigyn nodded. “He’s more determined than I thought.”

“He thinks I can help him win Ragnarok.” I let out a breath. “I hope he’s wrong.”

“Hard to say.” She studied me. “The prophecy says you can…delay it. Not prevent it, because one day it will be necessary. Worlds have a lifespan too.”

“If nothing else, one day the sun will swallow the Earth.”

Sigyn nodded. “Exactly. Or maybe that’s what happens if Surtur wins.”

I shivered a bit. “It doesn’t matter who wins, though. Everybody dies.”

“And the world is reborn. You think there won’t be a place for those souls?”

“I don’t pretend to understand it.” Our eyes met. “Right now, I’m more concerned with getting Surtur and Tyz’vel to back off.”

“The demon’s a difficult one. The more you show strength the more he’s going to want you.” Sigyn considered that. “Surtur will back off eventually. If you commit to a different direction. Which is part of why I asked about the woman.”

“I’m not…I don’t want to get married just yet.”

“It wouldn’t be a marriage. It would be an extended betrothal. But it would be very unfair on your young woman.”

“She knows it’s going to happen. I’m hoping it doesn’t have to until…” I tailed off.

“She knows she can never be more than a lover.” Sigyn considered that. “I wish things could be otherwise. I see what’s in your heart. But…”

“She will accept whatever happens. But I don’t feel quite ready yet. And Tyz’vel won’t care.”

“Tyz’vel…I have to think about him. Trust me. I will come up with something.”

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 14

I walked down to the river, stood by the shore and tossed a couple of stones in. Thruor’s concerns matched my own. We were starting to think somewhat alike, I mused. Somewhat.
Thruor was not my sister. I might want her to be, but she wasn’t. Still, she was my friend, and I was trusting her with the woman I loved. What more was really needed?

To feel that I was safe and free? That wasn’t going to happen, for any of us, unless…I shook my head.

It wasn’t going to happen. Killing Surtur, if I could even contemplate such a thing, would not make us safe and free, because there would still be Tyz’vel. And people seeking revenge for the fire giant king.

Whom I knew I couldn’t take on anyway. So…was this going to be my life? I began to wish I didn’t know who I was.

To envy the Jane who had no memories and thought she was ordinary. A flash in my mind. I was sparring.

With Kara. I was shorter. She was laughing as she got me on the shoulder with a practice weapon. Kara? I hadn’t felt any connection to her.

Maybe we hadn’t had much of one. Maybe it was just a spar, and maybe everyone sparred with everyone. Or maybe it was my imagination, not a memory.

No. It was a memory. I was sure of that. I threw another stone into the river and saw my own face, as a child, in the ripples. About five or six? Or however old that was. My hair was almost white. It must have darkened a little.

And behind me, I saw my mother. Maybe she had an answer. Loki’s answer was to keep moving, keep running, keep tricking.

Sigyn’s? I didn’t know what it would be, and maybe it was time to find out. I threw another stone, dispelling the image or vision, but not the sense of her presence, not entirely.

I felt drawn towards a waterfront bar. Hopefully they wouldn’t card me if I didn’t order a drink, I thought as I stepped up onto the deck.

She was sitting at a table in the corner and pushed out the chair with her foot.


“No need to be so awkward.” She smiled. “I know it probably is a bit awkward.”
“And I think I always did feel closer to my father.”

“Even when he wasn’t around.”

I considered that, then nodded. “I need some advice. I need different advice.”

“Advice he wouldn’t give?”

“Another perspective on the problem.”
She flagged down the waiter and I ordered food and soda. I’d already eaten, but not that much and I was hungry again. “Which problem?”


Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 13

Thruor was sparring with Kanesha. I watched briefly, and then decided I might be a distraction.

So, I stepped out of the old warehouse we were using as a dojo into the bright spring air. I felt a little isolated, but I knew it would pass. Thruor was by far the better teacher. The best thing I could do was stay out of the way.

Stay out of the way and appreciate the spring air. It was rich and warm, a surprising contrast to the unpleasant winter. The unnatural winter? I didn’t think so. Maybe it was climate change.

Maybe it was something else, but I didn’t feel that it was magic or the will of the gods.

Spring, though, was to be appreciated, despite everything. I still had Surtur to deal with. Tyz’vel was out there somewhere. And I wasn’t sure I’d got anywhere on my primary mission.

I only knew how to fail. I didn’t know how to succeed. And a small dark part of myself considered that if something happened to Kanesha I might not care any more if I failed.


I thrust that part of me where it belonged. Kanesha would haunt me forever if I let anything happen, especially for her sake. Would and probably could.

I tugged out a coin and tossed it.

“Hey laaady. You look bored.”

I turned. I wasn’t armed, but I did my best to weaponize my glare at the man talking to me. “Not bored enough.”

He lifted a hand. “I’m just…”

“Making conversation?” I shifted my stance. “Make it somewhere else.”

He fled. Hopefully he’d think twice before approaching another woman like that. I watched him go, then tossed the coin again.

Heads. Was that a good omen or not? It was a good omen that it had been some random guy, not Tyz’vel. It was worrying me a little that I hadn’t heard a peep out of him.

He was planning something. There was no way he was going to back off either, and you couldn’t destroy demons. Surtur could be killed and consigned to Hel’s Realm – that was the nature of giants. Demons, by their nature, didn’t die.

I could be killed. I reminded myself of that. But neither of them were a threat to my life as long as they still wanted what they wanted.

I tucked my head back into the warehouse. “I’m going for a walk.”

Thruor nodded. “Don’t take on any demon lords by yourself.”

I laughed. “I was thinking about him, actually. And how he’s probably planning something.”


Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 12

As we left, Clara joined us. “Hey.”

“Hey. How are things with Seb?”

She grinned broadly. “Seb’s awesome.”

I laughed. “You’re supposed to be learning from him not dating him.”

“I can’t do both?” She gave Kanesha an arch look.

Kanesha threatened her with a mock punch. “You can do whatever you want. Well, except summon lust imps.”

“Am I ever going to live that down?”
“No,” we both said in near perfect stereo.

I added a moment later, “Could you ask Seb what good tips he has for a hunter who isn’t gifted in witchcraft?”

“Sure.” She glanced at Kanesha. “For you, right?”

Kanesha blushed.

“Don’t worry. You’re much better at martial arts than I am,” Clara noted.

“Hey. No comparing talents. It only makes everyone feel inferior,” I cut in.

“You already make people feel inferior.”

Clara was right. I probably did, and what could I do about it? The answer was: Not very much. I was who I was. “That’s why I’m careful who I tell. I only pick people who can handle it.”

Which was why, I realized, I couldn’t actually have told Grayson. He would have been terrified of me. “People who aren’t going to run screaming.”

Clara nodded. “I could probably take you. I’d just have to be subtle and stick your shoes to the floor or something.”

I laughed. “That would definitely slow me down. Do that to a bad guy for me some time?”

“I will.” Then she turned to Kanesha. “I think he’ll say to learn weapons, learn when to run, try to keep your distance from the real nasties.”

“I already know when to run. I did manage to get away from those thugs. With my hands tied.”

I grinned a bit. And elected not to mention what they had been tied with in front of Clara. I’d already embarrassed Kanesha enough for one day.

Even without the mention, though, she was blushing deeply.

“What?” Clara asked.

Neither of us told her.

Episode Thirteen: Hunted: Scene 11

That yet scared me more than anything he’d ever said to me. And I knew he was being serious. He really thought I could eventually kick Surtur’s butt.

Of course, by eventually, he probably meant in a few centuries. I had to deal with that side of things, that very real possibility that I might live that long.

For right now, staying safe and keeping Kanesha safe…that was all I was going to worry about. Fire giants who couldn’t take no for an answer were a problem. He wasn’t going to hurt me.

And he had abducted Kanesha instead of killing her. No doubt, I thought, he had planned to use her as leverage. A promise to leave her alone if I’d go with him.

It’s what I would have done in the same situation. I didn’t like the idea of thinking like my enemy, but sometimes it was what a woman needed to do.

Sometimes? All the time. You had to learn the knack. Maybe that was why Loki scared people. I could think like him – twisted, chaotic, humorous.

But I was also of his blood, which gave me an advantage. And I trusted him. That scared me a little. Trusting somebody like that?

But I was of his blood. I made sure to walk Kanesha to school the next day. She seemed back to herself.

“Did you find out who hired them?”

“Loki thinks it was Surtur. He probably wanted to try to use you as leverage to get me.”

Kanesha shuddered. “Ugh. Promise me you won’t say yes. Promise me you won’t go to him even if…”

I paused, then, “I promise.” And I knew that was binding.

“Thanks. I don’t want to die thinking I’m the cause of Ragnarok.”

“I won’t let you die at all. Not until you’re old and wrinkly, anyway.” Maybe…no. I knew I couldn’t save her from the ravages of time.

But I could protect her from Surtur. “We just need to improve your defenses.”

She nodded. “Mike’s taking me to the range tonight. I don’t like guns, but…”

“If you don’t like a weapon, don’t let them see that. Use it as intimidation. Half the time they only have to believe you’re going to shoot them. Or stick four feet of steel through them.” I’d actually found swords intimidated better than guns.

“Good point. I’d just rather not kill anyone if I can avoid it.”

“Keep that attitude. Unless it’s vampires. Kill vampires. There’s no reason not to.”

She laughed. “Should I carry a wooden stake?”

“Sword’s easier.” I had to end the conversation then, otherwise we would have been overheard.