Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 30

I wondered if we’d start a new legend. Maybe we would. I was alone, facing four fire demons and a succubus.

And immunity to hellfire would only get me so far. They would be equally immune to my fire.

What did I do? I only had to hold them off until Will and Sarael got there. And Seb. Presumably he’d come.

But I didn’t think I could. I focused all of my will for a moment into one silent call for backup.

Then I drew my sword.

Four against one. The succubus didn’t join in. The fire demons, knowing it wouldn’t work, didn’t use fire. Neither did I.

I pretty much knew they were going to kill me. I just had to last long enough.

My blade swinging against theirs, both sides bleeding, I could feel how ragged my breathing was becoming.

…when the heavens opened into the most spectacular storm.

“Thor,” I breathed. Not who I had expected.

And behind me was rainbow. Thor. Thruor. Kara. Thor flanked by the valkyries. “Now,” he boomed, “We have them outnumbered.”
The rain came down, hard, and anyone who had been watching fled. It mingled with my blood, and I almost lost my feet in relief. No.

Had to keep fighting until Will and Sarael got there.
Then a rush of winds and the angel touched down…with a shaken looking Will in his arms. Clearly he wasn’t much for flying. “Do it,” Sarael declared before spreading his wings again and drawing a sword.

He moved between Will and the demons. The succubus, realizing just how thoroughly she was outgunned, was trying to flee.

Trying, but Will was chanting in Latin. She screamed defiance as energy curled around her, and then she was gone. He didn’t have names on the others.

It didn’t matter. Mjolnir pile drove one of them into the ground hard enough to leave a crater. He dissipated into flame.

I took out a second with a sword blow to the neck, and I didn’t see how the valkyries dealt with the others. I dropped to one knee.

“You need healing,” Thor informed me.

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” I wasn’t in danger of dying, but I definitely needed that.

“Come.” He offered me his hand. I thought about how well he and my dad didn’t get on.

I took it anyway.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 29

Will had soda and cookies, which I indulged in. I felt a sense of tension, though. She was coming back, and the church was safe from her, but I wasn’t.

I couldn’t hide in the church. It wasn’t my place. I stepped outside, alone, glancing up at the sky.

And felt the portal re-open. Not in Red Flowers this time.
She’d opened it outside the Archives. I turned inside. “Archives. Now!” Then I set off at a run.

It was only a few blocks, and at my speed I could make it there faster than a vehicle. Hold her off until Will and hopefully Sarael could get there.

Hold her off. I could do that. I was running about half empty, starting to get tired even for me, but I couldn’t let her finish whatever she was up to.

She couldn’t get in the Archives. I wasn’t sure how I knew that, but I knew it.

Power of faith. Faith in something secular, but nonetheless something that could focus it.

But she could try something else, and she was pissed.

Pissed and when I got there accompanied by fire demons. The building was stone. It would take a lot to burn it. Four of them.

I moved between her and the building. “Fire demons. Really.”

“If I can’t get what I want one way.”

“You’ll burn down the Archives, as if that would actually do anything.” It might, it might break that focus, but I trusted that a mere physical object, no matter how important, wouldn’t be the sole thing.

“It will help.”

“Will help you, what, destroy American democracy?” Of course she’d lied to me. But I’d known that. Demons always lied. They lost the ability to tell the truth altogether, I was sure of it.

Demons always lied, and this one was, could be, no exception to that rule.


I shrugged. “I’m not going to let you start a fire.” I felt my own fire rising in response.

“What, you? You’re fire yourself.”


One of the fire demons decided enough talk was enough and threw a fireball at me. I didn’t even dodge. Perhaps that was foolish, but I actually reached out my hands and caught it.


The hellfire didn’t even char me, and I held it there as it weakened and faded. “See what I mean?”

She drew in a breath. “You’re more fire than I thought.”

“And I won’t let you do this. Give it up.” I wondered what anyone saw.

I wondered if this was so far beyond their experience they didn’t see it at all.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 28

I decided not to worry too much more about Sarlac. As Seb said, if he was happy that way, then there wasn’t a problem.

Besides, I was in no place to judge. Of course, most people thought I was a lesbian. Part of me wanted to disillusion them.

Part of me…well. I had enough going on with without fighting the B fight, as it were. Except by gently correctly people who called me gay.

Sarlac was warned. He was also likely part of our world now, though, and that bothered me. More than it should have, perhaps because he was a Senator.

Perhaps I wanted our world to be somehow separate from the sordid politics of America…we had enough sordid politics of our own, after all.

And what could Sarlac do? In the long term, cause us a lot of trouble. Or be a lot of help. I wasn’t sure which was more likely.

I made my way to Will’s church.

“She’s back in Hell…for now.”

Will blinked. “How?”

“She opened a portal to scare somebody. Seb got her in the face with holy water and I physically threw her for it.”

He laughed. “I suppose that works. It’s not an actual banishment, though.”

“Can you do something to lock her from coming back, or do we have to wait for her to show up again?”

“The latter, I’m afraid. Sarael’s keeping an eye out for her.”

I nodded a bit. “Sarlac knows.”

“Oh dear. Well…”

“It was probably inevitable. Maybe he’ll…”

“Be a good little mortal and forget?” Will grinned. “No, it would be inconvenient for him to remember so he will, you watch.”

“What happened to you?”

Will shrugged. “I know I’m forgiven. For what happened. And I’ve been told I don’t have to be so straitlaced and to be myself more.”

By the one angel with a sense of humor, I thought. I wasn’t even sure Sarael was the same angel who’d been here all along. They were all but interchangeable.
Except they weren’t. “I could have told you that.”

“Ah, but I’m not allowed to listen to pagan goddesses.”

“Except on how to get rid of succubi.”

He grinned again. “Just threw her through?”

I shrugged. “Hey. It worked for a bit, at least.” Which was really all I could have hoped for.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 27

“So…that…that was a demon from hell.”

“After your votes.”

He laughed. It was all but hysterical, but there might have been some real humor in it. “Not my soul?”

“I’m sure she’d have accepted it as a bonus. But no, she was after your votes. She’s a succubus.”

He shook his head. “I…”

“You don’t have to believe it. Most people don’t.” If he didn’t, he’d forget this happened, rationalize it away. Put it in some corner of his mind where he didn’t have to deal with it.

“It happened.”

Stubborn enough, perhaps. “She will be back. We’re working on banishing her properly, but…”

He let out a breath. “What can I do?”

“Keep an eye on your family. Apparently she can’t seduce you so she’s getting creative.”

He looked vaguely uncomfortable at that, and then nodded. Then paused. “You rescued my nephew.”

“Yes. I did.”

“So, there has to be…”

I put my hand on his. “You can stay safe. And not let her win.”

Slowly, he nodded. “And leave it to a couple of kids?”

I grinned a bit. “We have plenty of backup. Adult backup.”

Even if we didn’t have Mike any more, and I managed to keep the shiver purely internal.

“Good.” He looked at where the portal was. “I need a drink.” A pause. “Definitely something strong.”

“Be careful.”

He left, heading for the nearest decent bar. I glanced at Seb.

“Huh. Ace of spades.”

“What?” I asked.

“Immune to the succubus, presumably she tried being a guy too. Not married. No relationships. He’s an ace of spades.”

I had no clue what the heck Seb was talking about and it must have showed.

He spelled it out. “A-sex-u-al.”

“…oh.” I guessed I couldn’t really imagine not being interested at all.

“And I’ve always wondered if somebody like that would be immune to succubi.” He grinned. “Guess I have my answer.”

“So, where does the spades part come from?”

“Asexual, aromantic, utterly uninterested. I’m pretty sure he’s that type.”

“I feel sorry for him.”

“Don’t. That’s rude. By definition, he’s happy the way he is.”

I supposed. But it seemed very lonely to me. “I guess he just has to have more friends.”


Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 26

Seventh floor. And then when I got there, they’d done the DC thing of locking the stairwells from the inside so nobody can use them.

Without a single qualm, I kicked the door in. It had the hinges that went all the way up and down the door and would probably have stopped a mere mortal. Inside, there was physical smoke, and a young woman was running for the stairs. I got out of her way quickly and went, of course, towards the problem.

Of course.

It probably would have spoken to my sanity if I was mortal. As it was…it still spoke to my sanity.

Seb ran out of the stairwell behind me. “Okay…”

“Got holy water?” I asked him.

“Not enough for this.”

“Start getting people out.”

The succubus had opened the portal, presumably, but why? Or rather, how had it gone so utterly wrong?

Had we pushed her into something desperate? I hoped not.

I pushed past the reception desk and into the corridors of the office. No, it was in the break room.

And what I found there was the succubus standing in front of her portal. “Do you believe me now?”

And facing her was Charles Sarlac.

“Do you believe me now when I say I will take those you…”

“She can’t. Not without breaking the rules.” I raised my voice.

He turned slightly. I knew what he saw – with no glamor up, I just looked like a tall, blonde teenager.

“You again.”

“You’re scaring your employees into the street,” I told her. “To, what, show off?”

Sarlac was turning pale. “Run,” I urged him.

He didn’t. “No. She wants to control me. If I run I let her.”

I respected his courage but wasn’t so sure about his intelligence.

“Not the smartest,” she said out loud, perhaps sharing my opinion.

The portal was still open, but the edges of it were flickering.

Sarlacc stepped slightly behind me. “What works on them?”

“This.” Seb stepped past me and threw a vial of holy water into her face. It broke on her forehead and she yelped and lifted her hands to her face.

“That.” Sarlac’s voice seemed oddly flat.

I figured he was in shock and would be no use to us. So, now she was thoroughly distracted?

I bullrushed her and tossed her through her own portal. She was still rubbing at her face as she fell.

“Good teamwork,” I told Seb.

“She’ll be back.”

The portal flickered closed. I looked at Sarlac.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 25

Seb went to answer it, but I was already on my feet, covering him. No weapons, but I didn’t always need one.

It was Monica. “You need to move.”


“Red Flowers. Something very bad is about to happen.”

I nodded to her. “Stay here. We’ll go take care of it.”

She shook her head. “No, I know where Thruor is right now, I’m going to go find her.”

I nodded again, then grabbed my sword from where I’d put it behind the door and was out into the street ahead of Seb.

He pushed past me to get the car unlocked. “I’ll drive us.”

It was far enough that it would be faster even in DC traffic. I took shotgun, with no protest from Clara.

She was mumbling what was probably a spell as we moved.

“I wish she’d given us more details,” Seb grumbled.

“There probably wasn’t time.”

Maybe it was a chance to save somebody’s life – or their soul. Or both. Either way, Seb hit the gas and I stayed tense and ready, almost not fastening my seatbelt. I decided to after a moment. “Don’t get pulled over.”

He nodded. “Don’t worry.” And he stayed just at the speed limit, slowed to go around a bus, and eventually pulled up outside.

I sensed utter wrongness, and it wasn’t just one demon. I could smell brimstone.

“Crap. Somebody’s opened a full blown gate to Hell.”

Clara sniffed as well. “I’ll stay out here and work out how to close it, you go beat up whatever came through?”

I grinned at her and headed for the door. It was open, and the building receptionist seemed, and likely was, oblivious to what was going on upstairs.

“Red Flowers.”

“They’re having…”

I stepped towards the receptionist. “Stay out of this. Better yet, evacuate the building.”

She looked at me, looked at Seb. “I knew they were trouble.”

And I ran for the stairs. Not the elevator.

I wasn’t taking the elevator in a building with a portal to Hell opening in it. Nope. I’ve seen that movie.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 24

I got to Seb’s place, and frowned. Somebody’d kicked the mailbox so hard that it was now crooked. I didn’t want to risk straightening it, so I just headed up and knocked on the door.

“You know, if Clara spends too much time here you’ll end up up on stat rape charges,” I teased.

He blushed. “I can wait.”

“Where’s the angry witch?”

“Inside. She finally wound down.”

In fact, Clara was sitting with a cup of hot chocolate, despite the heat, sipping at it. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“It’s okay. What did he say to you?”

“It’s not what he said about me!” she exclaimed. “It’s what he said about you. That you’re not meaning to hold out, that you’re negotiating for some kind of deal with Surtur. I know you aren’t.”

I sighed. “Surtur told me some things that demonstrated he might not be as evil as we think, but I still don’t want to marry him. Somebody probably got the wrong idea from us having an actual civil conversation.”

Clara snorted. “Fire giants aren’t civilized.”

“They are in their own way. But don’t worry. I’m not going to pull you into their politics.”

“What about Kanesha?”

I smiled. “We already had that conversation. She knows the risks of being with me.”

Clara glanced at Seb. “I wish we could properly…”


Of course, maybe by the time she was old enough.

“At least the efreet went away.”

I grinned. “And Tyz’vel. I’m at least down to one crazy suitor. Just watch out for incubi. Or succubi.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?”

I knew Clara was equally vulnerable to them in both modes, though, the same as I was. She’d crushed on me, and now Seb.

“I wonder if swinging multiple ways makes you more vulnerable.”

“No, but it does hand them a wider range of tactical options.” I shrugged a bit. “Not much we can do about the way we are, right?”

She grinned. “The rest of the world should just be jealous.”

“Of the fact that we can enjoy more of the eye candy in the movie?”


I’d done the one thing that mattered. I’d cheered her up. A moment later came a banging knock on the door.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 23

I decided, on reflection, that adults made their own hells and often forced children to live in them. I thought of Kanesha’s father.

Then I wondered if she’d be the same person, remotely, if he hadn’t been the way he was.
Then I wondered who had shot him and whether I’d ever find out.

For right now, I at least had no more supernatural visitors – I’d been starting to wonder if everyone wanted to talk to me. The next few days passed in the closest to quiet normalcy my life could get. I mean, nothing was ever normal for me, but this came fairly close. I appreciated the downtime. I couldn’t fully relax, but I could relax some, and apparently even goddesses can get a bit stressed out.

Maybe especially goddesses. I did sometimes envy the ordinary people, people like I thought I was so briefly. They didn’t have nearly as much…

But then, weren’t my worries just theirs on a different scale? What woman didn’t, at some point in her life, have to chase off an unwanted suitor? And in this city, who wasn’t messed up in politics?

It was just that the stakes were a bit higher and everything was, somehow, bigger for me. Maybe that was the way it was supposed to be.

A few days of quiet and then Seb called.

“What’s up?”

“Had to deal with a fire giant harassing Clara.”

“Harassing in what sense?”

“Harassing. Telling her that she was at risk of being mixed up in their politics and that she should cut ties with you.”

I laughed. “And you’re calling me not her?”

“Because she’s storming around and throwing things and asked me to do it.”

“As long as those things don’t include spells.”

“A couple of those too.”

Clara, apparently, hadn’t wanted to inflict her irritation on me. “Well, if she wants to stay out of fire giant politics.”

“I think she wants to design a fire giant repellent spell.”

“Hrm. As long as it doesn’t end up working on me, I want some of that. Should I come over?”

I heard Clara’s voice in the background. Then Seb away from the phone. Then her voice again, “Yes!”

“Who’s place are you at?”

“Mine,” Seb informed.

I took that as please come over and headed there as quickly as I could. I wondered how Clara’s parents felt about her spending so much time at Seb’s place. I supposed it depended on whether they liked him or not.

Seb was pretty likeable.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 22

The succubus faced me for quite a long time. “Trickster’s daughter.”

I nodded. “Guilty as charged.”

“But you’re not a trickster. You’re…hrm.” She tilted her head to one side. “Not quite settled yet.”

My lips quirked. “Jealous?”

She looked at me, then down.

A succubus was jealous of me. Maybe she didn’t like being what she was. Was there any way out for her, or was her nature set? I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know.

I wasn’t going to ask. I shrugged again. “I can’t help you.” I hadn’t meant to say it, but the you came out anyway.

“Nobody can. Consider that when you walk with angels.” And she turned and stalked away.

Nobody can.

Maybe nobody but her. The implication that angels were assholes was, of course, pretty solid. And angels probably were assholes. On the other hand…

Maybe she was right. I should stay out of the entire thing. But I liked Father Will, and Tyz’vel had firmly convinced me that angels were assholes, but demons were far worse.

“You should have banished her.”


“Not worth it,” I said automatically.

“I suppose you have enough to worry about without caring about minor succubi.”

“I have fire giants to worry about.” I was starting to think I’d never get home. “And sorry, but you’re the third person to get between me and home, bed, and my girlfriend.”

“Then I’ll let you go.” He glanced after the succubus.

“Is there any escape for them?”

“Of course there is. The problem is it involves them admitting they were wrong…and that’s not an easy thing for us to do.”

That was a lot of honesty. Perhaps because he couldn’t touch my soul, or what passed for my soul. “He should have made you less stiff-necked.”

The corners of his mouth twitched upwards. “Perhaps he should.”

“But we become set, we become things which don’t change.”

“That’s why so many gods…and demons…are drawn to mortals.”

“And you like Father Will.”

“I appreciate his company.” Again, the corners of the mouth. “I would not want him as a lover, but…”

“But he’s good to have as a friend.”

I felt better about things. Did people, I thought, always keep themselves in Hell, literal or metaphorical?

Not always, but often.

Episode Twenty-Five: Senator: Scene 21

A lot of space. Odin might not harm me, but he was certainly well up for messing with my head, putting me in difficult situations…

I rather thought that he expected the same of others that he expected of himself, and given what he expected of himself? That could be a lot. But I knew that.

Surtur always messes up somehow. That was oddly comforting. And oddly disconcerting. Had he tried this before?

Had he tried to seduce other women? Of course he had. For somebody like that to be single…

But why didn’t he…why had he never gone to Odin and suggested a truce. Because Odin wouldn’t give him one?

Because he absolutely did not trust Odin. I didn’t blame him, but at some point somebody had to trust somebody.

“If nobody trusts anyone,” I said out loud. “Then we’re going to end up with a war.”

It felt like profound wisdom, but it was probably so obvious to people who’d been around longer than me that it didn’t count.

Except, perhaps, Surtur. Maybe that was his problem.

He wanted to protect his people. If that was true, I could use that, and I was certainly not above a bit of manipulation.

Then, I was jumped. My fault for thinking instead of paying attention. I went down, but I rolled with it, got clear of whoever it was and threw a punch before I even thought.


That wasn’t a demon’s or a giant’s voice. “Don’t attack me, then.”

The young man peered at me. “I thought…”

“I was somebody else?”

That, of course, was when the succubus showed up. Not the big powerful one, but the same one of her minions I’d fed laxative.

“I found you.”

“Get out of here,” I told Mistaken Identity Guy. He was already backing away. With a shiner. He was lucky I hadn’t broken his nose.

She smiled, though, and he hesitated. “And this one…”

“Oh, leave him alone.” I rolled my eyes. “We can talk. If I’d wanted to really hurt you, wouldn’t I have already?”
The kid managed to break and flee, to my relief.

“Why did he attack you?”

“He claims he thought I was somebody else.” I shrugged. “My quarrel’s with your mistress, not you.”

“Why bother, godling?”

“She annoys me.” It was a facetious, shallow answer, but it felt like something a demon would understand.