Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 31

It was a sober dinner table. “I wasn’t anywhere near where they said I was. I think it’s a case of mistaken identity.”

I sighed. “Can your boss make this go away.”

“He’s working on it, but in the meantime I have to be absolutely proper and behave perfectly. Which means, so do you.” He looked at me. “Don’t get caught hunting vampires and…”


“…kill the PDAs.”

Kanesha was the first to say it, “What?”

“You reflect on me, and the Captain said that it being obvious that my foster daughters are lesbians would reflect badly. Would be ammunition.”

I was on my feet. Then I took a deep breath. “Okay. But we shouldn’t have to and I’m not going to hide in the back of the closet.”

“I’m not asking you to, just to try not to be photographed kissing on the Metro.”

I glanced at Kanesha. “Figured nobody would care.”

“They probably wouldn’t either. It was on somebody’s tumblr, though, and somebody somehow connected it to me.” Mike sighed. “Like I said, as soon as they realize I wasn’t there, it’ll go away. Give it a few days.”

“Assuming this isn’t some kind of supernatural thing.” My tone was grim.

“Yeah.” Mike looked at me. “Look into it, okay? I can’t. Not right now.”

I nodded.

“And I’ll do some research.” Kanesha leaned over and kissed me before vanishing upstairs, a kiss that said that she didn’t care what anyone thought about us kissing in public and left me rather wanting more.

That wasn’t an option, though. “Give me the name of their attorney.”

Mike nodded. “They’ll…”

“…not even notice me. I’ve been practicing. I could probably sneak past you, let alone some lawyer who only knows me from a photo.” I grinned. “I’ll take care of it.”

And I slipped out. Lawyers worked late – I was pretty sure there would still be somebody at the firm of Torrent and Locke even now.

And there was. Lights were burning, but I didn’t care about that. I closed my eyes.

I got a strong sense of a presence. Not a presence I wanted.


Well, they do say lawyers have no souls.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 30

Jealousy of Monica aside, I thought I looked pretty good the next time me and Kanesha headed out. And so did she.

True, neither of us had expensive ruby earrings – I could maybe afford them, but I was saving the money for more important things. “So, let’s hope we don’t get interrupted this time.”

“We’re always going to get interrupted. That’s part of the fun.” She looked at me. “Just dinner, though. Let’s not tempt fate.”

We headed to the same southern place we’d enjoyed before. Relaxation, good food, the person I most wanted to be with. Who didn’t care that I wasn’t as gay as she was. However you wanted to put it.

The gay and lesbian association still seemed not to want to properly include me. I’d even pointed out there was a B in LGBT, to no avail.

So, I had nothing to do with them and just relaxed with my girlfriend. And for once, we didn’t get interrupted. We made it all the way home, despite stopping to kiss more than once. And getting heckled for it on the Metro.

I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have been yelled at as much if we were straight. It didn’t even bother me. It was the way of the world and it was better than it sometimes was.

Didn’t bother me at all. We made it home, and Mike wasn’t there. He was working – sometimes cops worked a lot, and it wouldn’t be the first time he’d slept, if he slept, at the office. As long as he didn’t try to put collars on any more werewolves, we were fine.

Yeah. A good date, a good night, a good…that’s about as far as it was going to go.

Well, I thought it was a good morning. When you have to be at school at 7, you miss things like the arrival of the mail.

And when you have to turn your phone off on pain of bad things happening, you miss any kind of notification from your family. Kanesha was in the same boat, so we were both surprised to see Thruor meeting us at the gate.

“Thea, what’s up?”

“We gotta get home.”

I nodded. She hadn’t brought the bike, but she set off at a quick walk. I glanced at Kanesha – her lips were set.

“What’s going on?” I tried again.

“Legal problems.” She tightened her lip.

“What happened?

Her lip tightened further. “There’s been a complaint against Mike. Excessive force.”

“What? We know…”

“I know it didn’t happen, but he’s been suspended without pay. I think it’s a setup.”

I could think of plenty of people who would want to do that to us.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 29

Whatever might have happened with the guitar, the ex showed up at the agency while I was there.

“You didn’t tell me she already sold it.”

He looked sheepish. “I was hoping to get it back.”

Did I believe him? “I got it back. Shame your old lady got the money…what there was of it. You know, acoustic guitars aren’t generally worth that much.”

He looked even more sheepish. “Worth a few packs of cigs.”

Probably, that was all that mattered. I didn’t suggest he could quit or anything like that – the woman probably drove him to them. I did suggest, “Don’t spend all your money on them. Save it for getting out of there.”

“I will.”

I turned and followed Monica back into the back room. “You recruit that guy? He’s kind of hot in an emo way.”

I shrugged. “He looks like stuff would hang well on him and he’s desperate for money. Didn’t occur to him guys could be models until I brought it up.”

“Doesn’t occur to a lot of them.” Monica shrugged. “So, where did you find him?”

“He’s eighteen,” I pointed out.

“So? He’s legal.” Monica grinned.

“I found him while helping a friend retrieve some stolen property. Cops weren’t being all that useful.”

She snorted. “I know you live with one, but they seldom are.”

“More a case of they had more important stolen things to look for, stuff worth more money. You know how that goes.”

“Oh, I definitely do. Tell them you’ve lost a hundred dollar watch and they don’t care. Tell them it’s worth a thousand and they’re suddenly interested.” She grinned.

“Maybe one day I’ll have a thousand dollar watch to worry about,” I quipped back. Not likely. I honestly hadn’t seen anything that expensive I liked, but being able to get one struck me as, well, something to aim for. “Or maybe…nah. Not a watch.”

“Ruby earrings,” she suggested. “Not diamonds. They’d be lost in that pale hair of yours.”

I grinned. “Or sapphires, maybe.”

She considered. “No. You should go for rubies. Or garnets, if you can’t quite manage that yet. You’re definitely a red jewelry girl.”

I grinned. “Thanks, Monica.” With her black hair, she could wear whatever she wanted in her ears. Maybe.

She always seemed to look good.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 28

The question remained whether the ex was in on it. For right now, I just walked, carrying the guitar, with Prue.

“I’m amazed you thought of that.”

I shrugged a bit. “I see musical instruments in this pawn shop I walk past all the time. I figure if you don’t really know them and want to offload one. And she thought it was worth something.”
“Is it?”

“They’re a couple of hundred bucks new.”

Prue laughed. “So, what, half that second hand? Silly woman.”

I grinned. “Yeah. She didn’t get much out of it. The cops probably won’t bother, although the pawnbroker called it in. It’s worth more to this Samson kid.”

At least they hadn’t called the girl Delilah, I thought wryly. Penelope. Samson. The things people called their children.

A word echoed in my mind and then faded. I couldn’t quite catch it, but I was pretty sure it was my name. My real name. And it was…three syllables long and in Old Norse.

I figured I’d just stick to Jane for now. Old Norse is hard to pronounce unless you grew up speaking it. The Icelandics all speak English to tourists, unlike the French. Or so I’d read.

Penelope’s house was a nice one. I wondered what had happened. A car crash. It had been on the news and I’d missed it. I resolved to pay more attention to the news in future, in case I missed anything else relevant or important. Or even more important than this.

Prue knocked on the door. The woman who opened it was thin and harried. “Yes…” A pause. “Wait, is that?”

“It’s Penelope’s guitar. Her ex’s mother stole it.”

“Who are you?”

“We…uh…knew her at school,” Prue explained. It wasn’t true, but hopefully she woudn’t look too hard into it.

“Stole it…I knew that boy was no good.”

“He claimed it was his mother and not his idea at all.”

“Neither would surprise me. No good, either of them. What happens when there’s no father in the picture.”

Her judgmental attitude would have made me wonder if I was on the right side, except for the evidence of the stolen guitar. I offered it to her.

She took it. “She would play it every day…why don’t you girls come on?”

We did, and we sat around a round kitchen table while Penelope’s mother talked about what she had been like and Samson, who was all of fourteen, tuned the guitar with surprising, or maybe not, expertise.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 27

“So, it was his mother?”

I nodded. “I’m guessing he broke up with her pretty cold, but his mother won’t let him give the guitar back because, ya know, dead girls don’t need one. And now she thinks I’m one of Penelope’s friends, she’ll never let me in.”

I glanced at Kanesha.

“I can try. What about Penelope’s parents?”
“They don’t know she loaned it to him. They’d be mad if they found out.”

“Mad at who, though?” I considered it. “If an adult showed up, she might decide she has to give it back.”

“She really doesn’t want them to know.”

I nodded a little bit, thoughtfully. “Okay. In that case, I think we might need to ask Mike. You try first, Kanesha.”

“If we send too many people, she’ll probably put it in a pawn shop.”

“I could buy it, but I’m not doing that if we can avoid it, not unless somebody can get me fairy gold.” Yeah, I was thinking like my dad again.

“Kind of unfair on the pawnbroker.” Kanesha frowned.

“Yeah, but she isn’t getting real money off of me. I would rather steal it.”

“Assuming he’s telling the truth.”

“Assuming. Okay. Kanesha, you try. I am going to check pawnbrokers.” The pawn shop I walked by always had musical instruments in it. That was probably where you’d get rid of an expensive guitar.

If he was lying it could well be ‘we already sold it’ that he was hiding. Or used it as collateral. I idly wondered how a pawnbroker would react to being told something in their store was stolen.

Prue had already given me the make and model – meaningless to me, as I didn’t really know anything about guitars. But it was enough to get an idea of what it looked like from the internet. I checked That pawn shop first, with amusement, but it wasn’t there.

On the fifth, I hit pay dirt. That guitar certainly looked like the one I was looking for. I slipped inside. “Hey. Is that a Fender CP-100 Parlor?”

The guy behind the counter nodded. “Sure is. Looking for one?”

“A friend of mine had hers stolen. She asked me to help look for it.”

He sighed. “Happens all the time. Any marks on it?”

“Name sticker, Penelope Wilson, on the back of the soundbox.”

“Somebody removed a sticker. I couldn’t swear that it’s the same instrument, though. Woman who brought it in seemed mad it wasn’t worth more. I actually had to show her on the internet that they’re only a couple of hundred new.”

That fit the story. “Woman in her forties, medium brown hair, glasses, a tad dumpy?”

He nodded. “Yeah.”

“Great. I think this is the guitar, but I don’t know quite what to do about it.” I could easily afford it.

“I already paid her for it. Look…”

“No, you don’t have to give it to me. I can buy it back. But maybe we can involve the cops?”

He shook his head. “They ain’t going to give you the time of day over a guitar worth a hundred bucks. And…” He emerged from behind the counter, where I thought he was sitting. Well, he was. In a wheelchair.

I managed not to stare as he unlocked and slid open the glass paneling. “Penelope Wilson was the girl who got killed in that car crash. I saw on the news. Her family deserves this back.”

I nodded. “Her kid brother’s getting it.”

“Take it.”

That, I thought, was entirely too easy.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 26

Great. So, Prue was talking me into distracting somebody’s ex into giving up her guitar so it could go to somebody who’d actually play it.

For a ghost.

At least there didn’t seem likely to be any lust imps involved. After school, I dressed up slightly and went to the guy’s place.

I hoped that he was her ex because they stopped getting on, not because there were any other, well, factors. I didn’t want to bump into somebody like Mr. Clem.

He apparently lived in a flat that was one level of a townhouse. With his mother, “Who are you?”

“A friend of Penelope’s.”

“That slut had too many friends.” She slammed the door on me.

Slut? Well…somebody hadn’t approved of her son’s relationship. Possibly with reason. I realized I wasn’t necessarily on the “right” side here.

But then, weren’t the wishes of a dead person kind of important? Even if she was wrong about at least some of it?

Stonewalled by mommy dearest, I moved to lean against the wall slightly opposite and slightly “down” from it. Out of her direct view. He emerged a bit later, pulling out a cigarette.

That was a point against him for underage smoking. Unless he was eighteen, which didn’t seem impossible from here.

He was pretty tall, certainly. I lifted a hand. “Hey.”

He crossed over the street. Pretty tall, not unattractive. “I heard my mother yelling at somebody.”

“Let’s go somewhere she can’t see us. I’m a friend of Penelope’s.”

“No you aren’t,” he said, walking further away from the house. “I know all of her friends. You aren’t one.”

I sighed. “Okay. A friend of Penelope’s sent me to get her guitar. Apparently you still have it.”

“My mother still has it,” he said, quietly. “I’ve tried to give it back, but my mother thinks it’s worth a ton of money.”

I sighed. “Why did you split up?”

He shrugged. “Because I can’t afford to leave home yet.”

I began to see the picture. “Penelope wants her kid brother to have it.”

“Samson? He’s a good kid. And he plays. I’ll try, okay.” A pause. “Did her friend send you because you’re hot?”

I laughed. “She thought I could talk you into it. I guess she hadn’t met your mother.”

“My mother…I need to get more money.”

I looked at him again, then laughed slightly. “Have you considered modeling?”

“I’m a guy!”

“They hire guys too. You’re built like a clothes horse. Here.” I slipped him a business card.

Not how I’d imagined this going, but he needed away from that harridan. And I had to work out how to steal Penelope’s guitar.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 25

Yeah. You don’t joke about fire giants. Not when you don’t want them to show up. Although the first one I saw didn’t do anything other than give me a bit of a salute when I looked his way.

I studiously ignored it. I wasn’t in the mood to even acknowledge that I could tell he wasn’t a scruffy teenaged street punk. Instead, I idly wondered why Surtur was so keen on starting Ragnarok when fire giants clearly didn’t like winter, and quickened my pace towards school.

Maybe he didn’t care if everyone got frozen as long as he got to beat Odin. Well. He wasn’t going to get my help on the matter.

But would he get my father’s? Then again, Loki’s enthusiasm for Ragnarok seemed to have faded lately. Unless he figured climate change would take care of it or something.

Maybe I was getting through to him. I slipped through the gates, quite a bit behind Kanesha. She had wanted to drop by the library before first period. Given how early first period started, I thought that was rather insane. You would never catch me in school any earlier than I had to be, superhuman stamina or no superhuman stamina.

Instead, Prue waited by the gates. “Hey. You.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “Got a name.”

“Need to talk to you.” She fell in next to me. “Got a problem.”

“What kind of a problem?”

“Something up your alley.” She let out a breath. “At first, I thought it was a fairy, but it’s not. It’s a ghost.”

“Last one of those I dealt with almost got Clara lust imped.”

She hesitated, then laughed. “It’s not the ghost that’s the problem per se. It’s the ghost that needs help.”

“So did the last one.” I wasn’t convinced this wasn’t going to end with lust imps.

“Okay. The ghost has some unfinished business. I can’t take care of it. I thought you might. It doesn’t involve killing anyone, but it might involve beating on her, well, ex a little.”

I held up thumb and fingers. “A little.” I didn’t want to kill anyone again any time soon. I’d decided I really didn’t like how it made me feel.

“She has some messages she wants delivered, but she also wants her ex to give her guitar to somebody else. He might not want to do so.”

“And this needs somebody like me?”

Prue grinned. “I would definitely have to beat on him. He’s likely to take one look at you and…”

“I’m not his type, am I?”

“You are absolutely his type.”

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 24


I felt more normal after talking to her. She had reminded me I was still a kid; still just as much a teenager as I’d thought before I found out who I was.
And it seemed that being with her brought back more random memories. Nothing useful, nothing in coherent order, but memories nonetheless. Good ones, many of them.

But I felt much more up to talking to Kanesha now. It being a hot day, I called her from a frozen yogurt place.

She showed up in a few minutes. “Gotta love Sunday. And spring.”

“Before it gets abysmally hot.” Which it would be by the middle of May, if things went as they normally did. After the winter, could I be sure they would?

It felt…normal and right, though. If something was unnatural, I knew I’d know it now.

“Yeah.” She ordered the raspberry flavor and I got a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of orange sorbet.

A fantastic combination, that. I mixed it together with my spoon. “I talked to my mom.”

Kanesha nodded. “I’d like to meet her.”

“I’ll see if she will. She’s a bit more…distant…than Loki.”

“Kind of surprising for the goddess of fidelity.”

“Maybe. Maybe it’s easier to watch over relationships if you’re careful which ones you get into.” Or maybe, it occurred to me, Sigyn’s nature came with a tendency to have fewer, deeper friendships.

“Maybe she doesn’t approve of me.”

I considered that. “No, I don’t think that’s it. I think she isn’t sure I’m keeping you and doesn’t want to get attached.”

Kanesha laughed. “You make me sound like a puppy you found at the pound!”

I shivered inwardly. “You’re a lot more than that, but you know, lots of people fall in love at our age and fall out of it right away. I don’t think we will, but…”

“But maybe it’s hard for her to stop liking somebody so she’s careful who she likes.”

“Out. You’re reading my mind again.” And I did have something of that in me, thinking about it.

Something, but not as much. I was capable of enjoying hanging out with somebody without having to be friends with them. I was not sure she was.

“Isn’t that what girlfriends do?”

I tackled my chocolate and orange ice, not answering her right away.

She hopped onto one of the stools at the front of the store. “At least…”

“At least we don’t have to worry about crocodile demons again. But any bets the fire giants will be back?” I regretted those words the instant they were out of my mouth.

“Not taking that.”

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 23

He didn’t come back out. The police blotter indicated he’d been killed, in his apartment, but no killer was found.

They didn’t include the gory details, of which I was quite glad. I knew I’d killed him, though. I almost wished I felt worse about it.

Zaid seemed relieved, but was also planning on leaving town. I had mixed feelings about that. I rather liked him…her…them.

Eh. Pronouns. He didn’t seem to mind he, even though it wasn’t strictly accurate. But then, at times, Loki danced at the edge of that odd ambiguity. Or maybe it’s because I knew about his shapeshifting shenanigans.

Which included me having a half sibling that was a horse, so I tended not to want to think about his shapeshifting shenanigans too much. Thor in a dress, though, was rather more amusing. More so now I’d met Thor. I couldn’t imagine anyone mistaking him for a woman.

Of course, Loki was quite good at illusions. So was I, I realized, even if I only normally used it to make myself all non-descript.

And I’d just used a really nasty prank to get somebody killed. Yeah. That was what was bothering me, that was why I was walking along the gravel along the mall, by the reflecting pool, kind of scuffing my toes. It was a warm day, heading rapidly from spring to summer. But I didn’t really feel it any more than I had felt the cold.

Which kind of felt like not feeling anything, for all that Thruor said we felt everything more. I had to face it.

I didn’t feel bad about killing Derek Barton. I felt bad about not feeling bad about it. It felt more like I’d put down an animal than killed a man. Using my father’s methods.

I was afraid of what I was becoming; I was even afraid right now of what I might do to Kanesha. Then I shook my head. Nothing could turn me into somebody capable of hurting the woman I loved. Nothing.

Not even myself. But how did I stop myself from turning into some kind of monster or assassin? Did I even want to?

He had only been some loser worshipping an evil god, somebody who’d screwed up. He’d still been human.

But at the same time, he’d made his own choice. “Grargh,” I murmured.

“Not easy, is it.”

It wasn’t Loki. It was a much softer, feminine voice.

“Mother?” I turned towards her. “I don’t know who I am.”

She laughed. “That’s because it hasn’t quite been decided yet. We make ourselves who we are.”

“I don’t want to be Loki.” A pause. “I respect him. I like him. Maybe I even love him, but I don’t want to be him.”

Sigyn nodded, looking out across the water. “But there’s something of him in you. Perhaps more of him than of me.”

“I don’t know. I think I manage fidelity reasonably well.” I thought of Kanesha.

“Definitely. But you also manage trickery.”

“I think fidelity’s harder.”

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 22

“Did you do it?”

“I feel awful, but yes.” I sighed a bit.

Thruor shook her head. “It’s underhanded, but really? If he doesn’t summon any more crocodile demons, he’s fine.”

She had a point. “What are the chances of that?” I leaned against the wall. “What about the bombs?”

Kanesha considered. “When he comes back, we get ready to pull the fire alarm. Just in case. And if people don’t evacuate…”

“Back to starting an actual fire,” I said grimly. “A small one. In the trash chute. Maintenance will do the rest for us.”

Kanesha glanced at me.

“Trash chute. Nobody’s going to get hurt.”

“After all the problems we’ve had with arson?”

“Better than people being blown up.” She was right, though. Criticizing the bad guys’ methods then doing it yourself was a little bit crass.

“Got a better idea?” I looked back at the building.

“Call Mike. On his off duty number. That’s not calling the cops.” She grinned a bit.
“Good idea. He could send somebody plain clothes who can deal with them. If they’re real. If they’re mundane.” For all I knew it was a curse, not physical bombs. But I couldn’t take the risk.

“And if they’re not mundane, Clara can deal with them,” Thruor pointed out.

I didn’t quite share her confidence, given how long Clara had been working magic. But she should at least be able to tell us.
Then we saw him come back, vanish into the building. He was carrying a large bag that appeared to be from a liquor dispensary.

“He’s graduated from beer to stronger.”

“Hopefully he tries to summon something while drunk and gets the wrong critter,” Kanesha said, with a giggle.

“Should have stolen his beer,” I grumbled.

“Why? Like you said. He has stronger. Besides, it was cheap beer.”

Thruor grinned. “Life’s too short for bad booze. Don’t bother.”

I did wonder what was in the bag, but Kanesha was right. His beer was cheap, so likely anything else he bought was cheap and nasty too.

Rather like him.