Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 11

Whoever had just stepped onto the car was chanting in a language I completely did not recognize.

It was backup. The serpent was now between the two of us. It hissed…and then it coiled in on itself and disappeared.

The darkness didn’t seem quite so thick, although the power had yet to return.

And hopefully Kanesha had called the witches.

The voice I heard was female, but alto. Or was it a light tenor? I’d never had so many issues working out somebody’s gender from their voice.

And then the train lights flickered back on and I could see them. Not as dark skinned as Kanesha, but definitely not white. Our eyes met.

I walked towards them, and murmured, “I sent my partner for help.”

“Good. Can I meet up with your backup, lady?”

Lady felt a little weird. “I for one would like to know where that thing came from.”

“It was an Egyptian demon, a servant of the god Apep. And somebody probably summoned it.”

“It said as much.”
The train driver came over the intercom. Evacuation instructions. We trudged out into the tunnel and emerged at Pentagon City. Hopefully that was the way Kanesha had gone. I texted her as soon as my cell was working again. “Where are you?”

“Outside the station.”
“Which one?”

“Pentagon City.”

I sighed a bit. “Which side?”

“By the mall.”

“Which mall?”

I was trying not to get frustrated, but really, this station was confusing unless you were very specific.


Finally. I headed up the stairs and out into daylight that made me blink. At least I didn’t feel as if I was about to burst into flame any more. I’d have to thank my dad for that one later.

Kanesha was standing there. “I called them and they’re on the way, but do we need them?”

“We need a conference. Maybe the Starbuck’s? And this is…”

“Zaid,” the stranger introduced.

I’d decided he was a man. Maybe. Zaid was a male name, I thought, but I wasn’t sure. Arabic was far from my strong point.

“He backed me up. It was some kind of Egyptian demon thing.”

Zaid nodded. “And we need to find who would dare summon such in a city. Will you help me?”

I nodded. “I sort of owe you anyway,” I admitted. “I don’t know if I could have beat him on my own and unarmed.”

“Lady. You are never unarmed.”

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 10

“I don’t feel so good,” Kanesha said.

“I know. I’m going to have to challenge this thing. I don’t have a choice.”

I reminded myself even I could die. It could kill me. And then what happened? But maybe, just maybe it would be worth it. Maybe, just maybe, I could at least stop the thing. “Kanesha. Try to evacuate. Once you’re clear of the area of effect, call Bruce and Clara.”

She nodded and started to push her way through the darkness. I could almost see her, a little spark of blue.

Everyone else was just…there in the darkness. People I had no connection to.

Quietly, knowing shouting wouldn’t make things more audible to whatever this was. “Show yourself. These people are under my protection.”

“Indeed?” came a voice from everywhere. “Oh, how cute. A baby.”

Something echoed behind it. “How cute. A servant.” Of something that if it actually turned its gaze on me?

I couldn’t take it. But I might be able to take this guy. “How about we take this outside?”

“How about I take this one first?” Fortunately, it wasn’t grabbing Kanesha…perhaps she was more protected. But I saw a person’s form rimmed in fire.

“Under my protection. Do I have to call my father?” I actually rather thought my mother was the greater threat, but really, a lot more people were scared of Loki.

I heard a hiss in response, the sense of snake coils wrapped around the man. “Fight me and he dies.”

“Oh, come on. Let’s quit the saber rattling and get to it. We both know what’s going to happen. You should pay more attention.”

“Blame the one who called me to this place.”

“I do,” I said grimly. I wished for my sword. Actually, I was sort of wishing for something like a Jedi lightsaber, except he’d only eat the light and power from it. “So, let’s stop the preliminaries.”

It lunged at me. The shadows felt dark, and I couldn’t breathe. I focused my thoughts on my parents, hoping that I could indeed get their attention.

I had no idea how to strike back in this sort of non-physical fight. Light. I needed light.
I hadn’t expected fire. It formed around me, sending the serpent backwards. I hoped against hope that nobody could actually see what was going on, that it was all beyond their perception.

Fire. Was that my father’s answer? He was associated with fire.

“She has fangs after all.”

“Like I said. We’re taking this outside.” I strode towards the door, stepping around people. I could see them clearly now, in my own light.

This had to be my father’s answer.
The serpent struck at me, and I whirled and struck back. I was still, apparently, wishing for a sword, because that was the form it took. “Go back where you came from.”

I heard the door between the cars opening. A Metro employee, I hoped.

Or better yet, backup.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 9

That was when the darkness seemed to become heavier and thicker. “Kanesha.”

“I think I feel it,” she murmured.
This wasn’t something she could fight. I wasn’t sure it was something I could fight. I had this odd feeling that this time I wasn’t the target, that this wasn’t aimed at me.

That this was aimed at causing fear. Maybe what I sensed was human evil so deep it was starting to become demonic. Maybe it was…I don’t know. “We need to get everyone out.”


“I could try and impersonate a Metro employee. Tell everyone to evacuate to the next car.” Except that I knew the next car wouldn’t be any better. “No, out of the train altogether.”

“Neither of us would convince anyone.”

I glanced at the woman behind us.

“What’s going on?”

“I smell smoke,” I said, finally. “I have a kind of sensitive nose.”

“Crap. And if we just yell fire or something…”

“People will panic, and then I’ll feel horrible if it’s nothing.” And even if it was something, people would get hurt. I took a deep breath. “So…”

“So…” Her voice moved, and I was sure I heard her standing up. “Ladies and gentlemen. We need to evacuate.”

“We’re supposed to wait for instructions from the driver. And there’s no light out there.”

That was what we needed the most. Light. I wasn’t even sure which side of the tunnel the walkway was on. “Anyone got a flashlight?” I rummaged for my phone, but an actual flashlight would be better.

Somebody turned on one of the little pen lights. It just made a white spot, and then that spot seemed to shrink in on itself as if something was consuming the light.

What we really needed, I thought, was a witch.

“I’ve been trying to raise the operator,” somebody called. “They aren’t responding.”

More likely the intercom wasn’t working. A shiver of fear ran through me – what if this wasn’t local to the train.

The person with the penlight was staring at it. “Battery’s gone.”

But there was a murmur now. The start of panic. People were going to hurt, possibly even die, and the darkness thickened.

Screw this. My cover wasn’t as important as their lives. I brushed past Kanesha and stood in the center of the car, closing my eyes to heighten other senses.

It wasn’t Tyz’vel. But I’d already known this. This wasn’t his style.

This was something that fed off of light and life that somebody had unleashed. Light, life and electricity.

Well. Maybe it was time to let it know what it had caught in its trap.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 8

And our evening of fun wasn’t over yet. We made it back to the Metro. “Shall we go home home or do we want to find a club?”

I considered that. “I’m not really dressed for clubbing, but I’d be up for it.”

The train went past the airport and then ducked into the tunnel under Crystal City. That place always looked like a forest of skyscrapers to me, even though I knew they weren’t really skyscrapers. Just high rises. Expensive apartments, the kind of thing I might dream about now, but wouldn’t have before I took up modeling.

And then, halfway between Pentagon City and the Pentagon, the train stopped and the lights went out.

Several people screamed. I couldn’t blame them, not really. Sudden power failure on a Metro train will tell you whether you’re a claustrophobe or not real fast. I managed not to join them, but I was definitely startled.

We sat there in the dark. Power would probably come back in a moment.

It didn’t.

“Do we evacuate?” Kanesha asked.

“No. We stay put unless we smell smoke or something.” There had been an incident with somebody getting killed by smoke in a Metro tunnel. I wasn’t about to stick around if that happened.

We were in the worst possible spot for this section, too, if we had to evacuate. I wasn’t evacuating towards the Pentagon, either, unless the other direction was on fire. “If we do, we go Pentagon City direction.”
“Hrm. Unless…the army guys might get here first if we’re really stuck.”

She had a point.

“I don’t know how you girls are so calm,” came a voice from behind me.

I didn’t turn around. “It’s just a power failure. They happen.”

“Still, it’s dark down here.”

I felt myself grin. “Yeah, it is.” But if they were quiet, I could hear everything I needed to get out of here if I had to. There should be some light from the tunnel, though. “But we don’t evacuate unless there’s danger. The third rail might come back on any moment.”

“Good point,” said the woman behind us. “This sucks.”

I thought she was being pretty calm herself, of course.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 7

Afterwards, we walked down by the Alexandria waterfront. Having skipped dessert at the restaurant, we bought ice cream. It was warm enough, now, for ice cream. Winter seemed as if it was five minutes ago, but spring was definitely reality.

“Hey ladies?”

I tried to ignore the call, but Kanesha turned.

“You ladies could use somebody to…liven up your life.”

“You could use a dip in the harbor to cool you down,” Kanesha noted.

I couldn’t even think of anything obvious we had been doing.

“You don’t know what you’re missing,” he added.

“As it happens, I do.” Which wasn’t entirely true. “I know all about men, and you’re a very poor specimen of the breed.”

“Oh, you’re biiiiisexual.” He strung out the bi.

“Doesn’t mean I’m into you.”

“Oh, come on…”

Kanesha looked like she really was going to push him in the harbor. “Don’t bother,” I told her. “We’ll be the ones who have to explain it to the cops.”

She sighed. “Good point. Let’s go somewhere less…polluted.” She hooked her free arm into mine, pointedly, and we stalked off.

He didn’t follow, but that was only because he’d changed targets. To my disgust, I noticed his new target was maybe thirteen.

“Hold on. I’m calling the cops.”

Kanesha looked over her shoulder. “Oh. Eww. Yeah. Do it.”

I handed her my ice cream, what was left of it, so I could dial. “Police. Alexandria waterfront. There’s a guy creeping on minors.”


“Creeping. Harassed me and my girlfriend and now he’s targeting a thirteen year old.”

The dispatcher actually went, “Eww.” Then pause. “There’s a couple of uniforms half a block away. I suspect a presence will get rid of him.”

“I hope so.” I almost hoped not – a night in the drunk tank would cool his ardor even faster than a dip in the harbor.

“I should have pushed him in,” Kanesha grumbled. “Let’s finish our ice cream and go home.”

I held my tongue, but was inclined to agree with her.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 6

The second I stepped through the gates, Kanesha grabbed my hand and started to drag me. Not that she could, but I let her.

“Hey. Where are we going?”

“We are going to have some fun. When was the last time you had some fun?”

“Unless you count killing vampires?”

“Not that kind of fun.” She was dragging me towards home, but I had no doubt that she had something in mind.

A date. We hadn’t done an actual date in a few weeks, and I began to suspect she hadn’t rushed off from lunch to study at all.

She’d rushed off from lunch to make plans against me. Well, I wasn’t going to complain. “You need to tell me where I’m going so I know what to wear!”

“Oh, I was thinking this restaurant in Old Town. Casual dining.”

I nodded. “Okay.” So, I didn’t have to dress up. Much. I didn’t ask how she planned on affording it. She’d found a way, and I trusted it was a legitimate way. Or Mike had given her the money.

I changed into a nice pair of jeans and a clean shirt and followed her out towards the Metro. “It had better not be interrupted,” I told her.

“It had better not be.”

I didn’t even have a gun, although I was sure I could handle most interruptions, at this point, even unarmed. Kanesha certainly could. Anything short of Tyz’vel actually trying to grab me.

We made it to Old Town without any interruptions. The restaurant she’d picked was southern style. Gumbo, red beans and rice, that kind of thing. I was starving and ordered a platter of catfish, red beans and rice and hush puppies. Good southern cooking.

“This place reminds me of my mother.”

“You’ve never talked about her much. What happened to her?”

A slow admission, “I don’t actually know. For sure. She disappeared and never came back. Maybe she was just trying to get away from my father.”

“I can’t blame her for that. I can blame her for not taking you with her.” Even if that might have meant we never met. What kind of woman abandons her child to a man like Vincent Clem?

“I don’t know what was going through her mind. She wasn’t…I don’t know that she was sane. But she could cook. I wish I had her recipes.”

I speared a piece of catfish with my fork. “Maybe you can reverse engineer them?”


Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 5

Right. Not his fault. Nothing was ever his fault. I took a couple of brownies to school to munch on after lunch. They also made good things to sneak to annoying bullies.

Or annoying fairies. I still couldn’t quite believe Kanesha had done that. She might have gotten smited. But it had achieved something. I wasn’t sure what, but the more I thought about the scene, the more I thought the offer of the brownie had turned things around.

It had obligated her to us, but why had she taken it then? There was only one possible thought: She couldn’t resist chocolate.

Which made me laugh. The idea of a powerful fairy addicted to chocolate? I couldn’t help but find that amusing.

“What’s so funny?” Prue called from the next table.

“Oh, Kanesha nailed somebody with the cayenne brownies yesterday.”

Prue laughed. “Those things are dangerous.”

“She was an uninvited guest, so…”

“Even better.” Prue turned her chair around to join me. “Where’s Kanesha?”

“She wolfed down lunch and went to study.”

“She does that, doesn’t she.” Prue leaned a bit onto the table. “So, uninvited guest? Mundane or not?”


“Aha. Kanesha got a fairy to eat your food?”

“We got two to. Although one of them likes the brownies. A lot.”

Prue shook her head. “I don’t know how anyone can eat that stuff. No offense.”

I deliberately picked up one of the ones I’d brought and took a slow, savoring bite.

She shuddered. “You’re ruining perfectly good chocolate.”



“By the way. Watch out. There’s a demon around.”

Prue rolled her eyes. “Ranking?”

“Sadly, yes. Banished him once. He found a way to come crawling back.”

“Ignore him, then.”

“I wish I could.” I wondered if Prue had any ideas, but she wasn’t exactly the kind of witch who dealt with this kind of thing. She was more into healing spells and gardening.

“Distract him, then.”

“He’s already pretty distracted.”

“Oh, is this the same one…oh man. Yeah, he’s distracted alright. Just knee him in the balls.”

I wondered if that would actually work. If he touched me, I’d have to try it.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 4

“One thing I’ll say for him, he’s good in bed,” she said as she sat down.

“Then it was gone when you woke up. He didn’t even keep it.” I thought of the horn, which I still had.

“I should have…”

“Everyone who interacts with Loki says that. Even me on occasion. Just don’t actually hurt him, right?”

“I don’t think I could.” She studied me. Beautiful, spun gold hair. Silver fingernails.

If I wasn’t thoroughly taken, I would have been tempted. Which was kind of an eww, but what could I do? Sidhe were either beautiful or terrible. Or both at the same time. “You know, I sometimes want to push him off a cliff, but he’s still my father.”

“I think we all have relatives like that. Just don’t warn him that I’m coming for revenge.”

“He already knows, I’m sure. He wouldn’t have done it if he wasn’t expecting revenge.” And possibly makeup sex, I thought, then felt my cheeks turn scarlet.

She laughed ringingly. “I’ll get out of your way. But no more of those brownies.”

“What? They’re delicious.”

She laughed again and then vanished in a shimmer of bells. Made me wonder why she hadn’t teleported inside in the first place.

Maybe door exploding made a better grand entrance.

“You’re lucky she believed you,” Kanesha said from the doorway.

“I know.” I reached for another brownie myself. “Not sure why she did.”

“Maybe she thought she could get a clue by being nice and chatting.”
That was a good thought. “Well, she had no luck there. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if…”

I picked up a brownie, turned around, and handed it to him. “…he appeared right behind me. Double batch of brownies, although I had to give a few of them to a fairy.”

Loki munched on the brownie. “Pretty, isn’t she.”

“I want to duplicate that nail color,” Kanesha mused. “I bet a nail artist could do it.”

I grinned. “It would look good on you.” Then I turned back to Loki. “So you stole her necklace so she’d come prank you so you could have makeup sex. Come on, admit it.”

He looked innocent, with even less success than the fairy. Kanesha looked slightly shocked.

“Just leave me out of it. I don’t feel like fighting a Sidhe princess.”

He grinned a bit. “I intended to. Not my fault your friend found it.”

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 3

At the same time, at least we knew now. Assuming he was telling the truth. Of course.

And that was a dangerous thing to assume with fairies. The house shook right as I pulled the brownies out of the oven. “Uh oh.”

“Uh oh,” Kanesha echoed.

“Cold iron, remember, if you need to protect yourself. Defensive only.” Because I didn’t need a war with Sidhe royalty. I stepped out of the kitchen.

The shaking had been the Sidhe blowing our door in. It lay in the middle of the living room and she stood behind it. “Where,” she demanded, “Is…Loki?”

She was beautiful, I noted. Which was a good thing. Fairies resemble their morality – had she been ugly we would have been in real danger. “You think I know?”

Her gaze turned on me. “You are his daughter.”

“Doesn’t mean he tells me where he is.”

Clara was holding out the necklace. The Sidhe plucked it out of her hand with silver-manicured nails and then immediately hooked it around her neck. No doubt she felt it was safest there.


“I know he took it. It’s not like that’s unusual for him.” Then? Kanesha offered her a brownie.

“Be careful,” Kanesha said. “They’re still hot.”

The Sidhe took it carefully with her other hand and then a bite. She choked. “You’re his daughter alright!”

“Kanesha, you should have warned her,” I chided.

She grinned mischievously. “Like you would have.”

It had, though, taken the wind out of her sails. “Would you strongly object to fixing the door before my foster father comes back?”


“I already said. I don’t know. He shows up and leaves pretty much as he feels like it.”

There must have been some ring of truth in my words, because she turned, sighed, and magicked the door back onto its hinges. Clara was watching with visible envy.

Then, she strode over to the table and sat down. “I took your food so you would know I am not a danger to you.”

Fae laws of hospitality. She could not attack me now she had eaten one of the brownies. Kanesha had remembered that. But, of course, she could have refused.

Which meant she was probably only interested in, say, pushing Loki in the reflecting pool.

Episode Fourteen: Shadows: Scene 2

Clara was doing her thing, trying to track the owner of the necklace. I felt something pop in. “Look out, guys.”


“Fairy alert. And I’ve met this one before. It fancies itself as my dad.”

“Oh dear,” Seb said. “Maybe it knows who owns the necklace, though.”

“More likely it’ll snatch it.”

I turned to look at the fairy. “Try to grab it and I’m sure I can find some cold iron around here. Show yourself.”

Wonder of wonders, it did, taking the form of a little man in green sitting on the counter. Kanesha blinked.

“Is that what they look like?”

“They look like whatever they want to look like and there are all kinds of different types,” I told her, a little wryly. “But that’s what he looks like right now. Who owns the necklace?”

“One of Mab’s daughters.”

“Can you go tell her we have it?”

“I take?” The fairy suggested, a wry grin on his almost human face.

“I’m not that stupid. If you take it neither we nor she will ever see it again and she’ll probably come after us.”

He tried to look innocent. He succeeded about as well as Loki chowing down on a cayenne brownie. “Had to try.”

I grinned. “You know you can’t beat me in a prank war. So…if you tell her where it is, I’m sure I can find something in it for you.”


I laughed. “I’ll start making some right now.” The fairy vanished.

“What is it about supernatural tricksters and cayenne brownies?”

“I don’t know!” I called as I went into the kitchen. “Maybe it’s because Loki likes them and nobody wants to be outdone.”

At least the fairy had only asked for brownies, not anything more serious. Although I was keeping an eye on my ingredients. Just because I couldn’t see him any more didn’t mean he’d actually gone back to Faerie. I knew better.

Kanesha slipped into the kitchen. “Maybe it is, but there had better be enough for me.”

I grinned. “Double batch. And if the fairy takes all of them, I’ll make more.” I was combining two boxes of mix even as I spoke – honestly, making them from scratch wasn’t that much better.

“Okay!” she said, cheerfully, leaning against the counter. “Mab’s daughter?”

“Not somebody we want to annoy. Ranking Sidhe are, oh, about Tyz’vel dangerous.”

And it did occur to me that the fairy might say something to make the situation worse.