Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 31

Sarlac approached us a few minutes later. “I’m glad you came.” Then he smiled at Kanesha.

Who was still looking a touch uncomfortable, but smiled back. “This is a privilege.”

“I’m always glad to be able to grant it to others. Can I borrow your girlfriend for a few minutes?”

“Go ahead,” Kanesha said. “I’ll be fine.”

“You might want to chat with Ms. Robertson over there.” Sarlac pointed at an older, elegant woman. “I think you might have some things in common.”

Gratefully, she headed that way.

“She seems a bit shy…”

“She isn’t used to gallivanting around in high society, that’s all. She’s not shy when you see her with kids.”

“Aha. She’s going to be a teacher, right?”

I nodded. “High school history is the plan.”

“This area needs plenty of those. Unless you plan on taking your career to New York?”

“I’ve thought about it.” He was steering me into a side corner. Then, once he thought nobody could hear me…

“What’s the best thing to do about werewolves?”

“Generally, they’re okay.” I wracked my brain. “I mean, they’re intelligent, reasonably civilized.”

“They’re trying to seduce a friend of mine’s kid.”

I nodded. “They do recruit. But…they won’t force them. And if you want, I can have a word. How old’s the kid?”

“Your age.”

“I’ll talk to them.” I smiled. “A neutral party, unbiased.”

“And if they do…”

A pause. “It’s not a terrible fate.”

“I guess vampires are the ones you have to watch?”
I shuddered. “Vampires are barely intelligent vermin. I kill them whenever I find them.”

“Huh. So, the werewolves are the good guys in the ancient conflict.”

I laughed. “Not always the good guys, but at least the ones you can…”

I didn’t finish the sentence. There was a towering crash and a woman, not Kanesha, screamed.

“Oh dear,” was all Sarlac said.

I ran for the scene, and found that the confectionary table had collapsed. And standing on top of it was a werewolf.

So much for reasonably civilized.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 30

The party was at a prestigious hotel. The lobby was all red and gold and chandeliers. Kanesha seemed nervous.

I felt quite at home. I sensed no succubi, I sensed no…oh dear. I did sense the presence of my dad somewhere around. “He’d better not put cayenne in the champagne,” I murmured.

“Don’t give him ideas.”

Not that we were getting champagne. I wasn’t risking it. I took sparkling cider instead and tried to find Sarlac in the crowd.

Instead? I found a reporter. Kanesha slipped off, murmuring about getting some food. Traitor.

“So, what’s your connection to Mr. Sarlac?”

“I accidentally stopped his nephew from being kidnapped.”

She stopped. Looked at me. “I can’t run that. Nobody would believe it.”

I grinned. “Truth, fiction, right?” A pause. “We’re just friends.”
“And your…”

“My girlfriend.” I wasn’t going to make any bones about it.

“Aha. Thought you didn’t look like you were just gal pals.”

I could see the cogs turning in her head as she tried to work out how to turn the two of us into a story. I was actually quite relieved that she didn’t seem to be coming to a solution. She did continue with, “Tell me a bit about yourself.”

“I’m a model,” I explained. “Kanesha’s studying to be a teacher.”

Profession. This was Washington and it was a safe ground, and thankfully I escaped a moment later as she noticed more interesting prey. Kanesha was returning with two plates full of assorted appetizers.

“Sorry. I…”

“It’s okay. She wasn’t too bad. And I think she’s much more interested in…” I tailed off. “…that actor.”

Somebody moderately famous, if I could only recall his name.

“Oh, that’s…” She paused, then located it. “Bart Luton.”

“Right.” I didn’t add that he was handsome, which he was. He was also flirting with the reporter.

Or maybe he was intentionally occupying her so the rest of us could have some peace. I sampled the food Kanesha had brought – one small taste of everything. “Mm…could get used to this.”

“Well, when you’re a famous model.”

I grinned. “You’re the one with the better profession.”

“But it doesn’t pay enough for this.” She sounded a little wistful.

“Maybe it should. In the mean time you can be my kept woman.”

She giggled. “Alright.”

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 29

Whatever it was seemed determined to hang on the cusp. And the next day I got a call.

Not from Sarlac. From his secretary. Which I didn’t like much until I realized it was a party invitation.

I wasn’t in the mood. But I figured I should go anyway. I didn’t have much to wear – the prom dress wasn’t quite right, but I found something for myself and Kanesha.

“I’m really not in the mood for this,” I grumbled as I applied my lipstick.

“Me neither, but you know what she would say.”

I smiled, then pursed my lips to check the look before responding. “She’d tell us to go knock them dead.”

“And always will.”

Mike. Monica. And I looked at Kanesha. Was she understanding things better than I did.

“Yeah, but she won’t be here, with us, to do it.”

Kanesha grinned. “How do we know?”

“We haven’t seen Mike.”

Yet, echoed in my mind. Maybe we would. How would I react if I did? I’d hug him, I reckoned. Possibly hard enough to cause injury.

“Maybe he’s having too much fun.”

I shook my head. “I’m the one who’s supposed to…”

She put her hand on mine. “I’m the one who has to go through it.”
And she was right. I was what I was and she was what she was. And one day… “Let’s change the subject.”

“See. It bothers you more than me.”

It did. Maybe I should talk to Thruor about it. She understood death in a way I didn’t.

I would never be her sister.

Maybe she just meant I wasn’t temperamentally suited to be a valkyrie. Thinking about it, I probably wasn’t. At least not yet.

But she said never. Of course, I strongly suspected she knew exactly what Odin had in mind for me.

Maybe some way to control Loki a little. Keep me in the fold and the trickster might be a little more careful with his pranks. It’s what I would do.

For right now, I asked Kanesha to help me with my bracelet. It had one of those clasps that Monica called a “boyfriend clasp” meaning you had to have one to wear it.

But it looked good. “Let’s go.”

I’d even splashed out to book us a cab. We were not going to arrive in style, but we weren’t going to look like charity cases either.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 28

I wondered if I had any chance of rescuing Monica’s mother, but rather thought it was slim. People in relationships like that have to be convinced to help themselves, often a difficult and thankless task.

In the mean time, I tried to get on with my life and not think about it. I did manage to get the sympathetic nurse to agree to call me if things turned for the worse, even though Monica’s parents had asked to exclude me completely from her sick room as a “bad influence” or whatever.

They’d probably be even more up in arms…yeah. If all else failed, then… “I’m not sure quite what to do.”

“Break her out,” came a not exactly human voice from nearby, before the raven dropped to my shoulder.

“I suppose…”

“You are still seeing this in mortal terms. And you need to be with her.”

“Tell that to her parents.”

“Somebody else probably will.”

He probably meant Sarael. “I don’t think it would be good for them to know…”

“What’s really going on? Their minds are too narrow for that.”

“What about her mother?”

“She could leave any time she wants.”

“I know enough to know that’s not always true. It’s really hard for people in relationships like that.”

“True. But you aren’t the one to convince her.”

Then I wasn’t. I set it aside and focused on Monica. If I kidnapped her from the hospital – first, I’d need help.

Second, she would die.

And whatever was supposed to happen would happen. It was important, I knew that. “I suppose I’ll start making plans.”

“Good.” And the raven lifted off. I envied him for a moment as he rose into the skies – I couldn’t fly, after all.

Of course, the raven probably pitied me over the same thing. They both probably did.

Mundane ravens probably did too. They weren’t stupid birds.

I headed back home. When I was there I looked at the prom picture, thought of other pictures that might hang next to it.

Wondered if the world would give us a chance for a lifetime of them. The chance it hadn’t given Monica.

I had wondered why Odin didn’t save her if he liked her so much.

Now I thought I understood. I needed to be with her.

Something was supposed to happen.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 27

If only.

“I don’t think she has long at all.”

Kanesha nodded, looking at me across a bowl of pasta. “And her parents?”

“Are fighting tooth and nail against hospice, because that’s acknowledging that they’re giving up. God’s will out of one side of their mouth…but out of the other.”

“She’s probably an only child.”

I mused on that for a moment. “I sympathize. I want to save her too. At least they aren’t likely to try anything really stupid like a deal with the devil.”

“Can you make deals for other people?”

I thought about it. “I think it would depend on the specifics of the deal. You can’t sign over somebody else’s soul, but…”

“I suppose you could do one for somebody else to get their dream job.”

“Right, that you might get away with. But I think they know better.”

I frowned. “You know what I want to do?” I added.

“What?” Her eyes sparkled. “You’re up to something.”

“Set Sarael on them.”

She grinned. “He’s the one…”

“…with the actual sense of humor. Yup.” Sarael would have some fun with them, I thought. “I’ll ask Will if he’s around. If they were Catholic…but they don’t seem to be.”

“They’re probably some fringe sect of protestant.”

“No, if they were that, they would be trying to pray Monica better. They seem to believe in modern medicine.”

“Or they just believe in it when it’s their daughter.”

We finished dinner and I headed home. Kanesha headed to study, but she promised she’d be back. I would be glad when I got out of school and had more flexible times.

But still, we’d got our noodles, which she’d been craving, and even as I headed back towards home…then I shook my head and changed course to Will’s church.

It was still open, and I slipped in the back. An old woman was praying. I waited until she’d finished and then said. “Hey, I want to talk to Sarael.”

There was no immediate answer, but I was pretty sure I’d been heard.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 26

When I came out, I heard the shouting. It was Monica’s father who was shouting.
At her mother, who was cringing away as if used to blows. One of the nurses was moving to intervene, so I sneaked past them into Monica’s room.

“Can you make them go away?”

I shook my head. “No. And the hospital…”

“…has to listen to them. Will you get me out of here?”

I knew what she was asking. “Not…not right now.” I sighed, sighed deeply at the situation. At the way things were working out.

“At least he won’t hit her here.”

“Why does she stay with him?”

“Usual reason. She loves him. It won’t happen again.” Her voice sounded weak and thready. “So I left.”

If I hadn’t turned off my cell phone out of respect for hospital rules I would have called the police. Then outside fell silent.

I glanced out and they were stalking towards the elevator. “They’re going away.”

“For…for now.”

I heard a soft sound outside the window. I glanced over and there was a raven.


“Sorry, I’d get into huge trouble if I let you in.”
She turned her head. “I need…I need you to do some things for me. Write it down.”

I pulled out a notebook. I wrote down everything she said. I was pretty sure what she was asking me to do was all kinds of illegal. And all kinds of important.

I thought of Mike, struck down.
Then I thought of this. And I knew that it would be over soon and I finally understood how it might be better.

I thought I understood, too, what was really being asked of her. “They’ll be disappointed not to find you in heaven.”

She laughed, then coughed…coughed blood. “I…figure…heaven’s pretty boring.”

“I don’t know. There’s an angel with a sense of humor hanging around.”

“Sure he’s not a demon?”


I wished I could introduce the two of them. I couldn’t, though. “Hopefully they’ll move you to hospice.”

“If they don’t, break me out.”

“You’ll…” Then I sighed. “If I have to, I will.”

I didn’t want to, but I knew I would. Her choices were more important than mine.

Now if only her parents could be got to acknowledge that.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 25

I should have known better. Monica favored her mother, who arrived clutching a Bible. Her father was the kind of dour man I immediately associated with the kind of Christians who had no sense of humor.

I wondered if they were Catholic. If so, I could set Father Will on them. Or even, I thought wryly, Sarael.

They walked into the area outside the room. “Who’s that?” her father asked of the nurse.

“A friend of hers.”

“Oh, really?” He turned to face me. “One of the bimbos she works with, no doubt.”

I decided to try for some, as Christians say, burning coals and offered my hand. “Jane Rudi. I’m a friend of Monica’s.”

He refused to take it while his wife, who seemed to be almost trembling, moved to talk to the doctors.

“No doubt one of the people who influenced her to refuse treatment.”

I shook my head. “I’ve been trying to get her to look after herself better. She made her choices.”

“Pheh. Without consulting anyone important.” From the way he said important, he didn’t include me in that.

“You must know how stubborn she is.”

That actually caused him to soften. “Stubborn. Never willing to accept the natural order of things.”

I hoped nobody told this man I was a lesbian. “Natural order?”

“That she was made a woman, and woman is subservient to man.” His eyes flashed. “I’m sure you…” He gave me an elevator stare, and it wasn’t a nice one. “…are just as unnatural.”

Oh, if he only knew. “I only know her wishes, and that she didn’t want to spend weeks in a hospital bed.”

“If that’s God’s will. Of course, if she’d…”

He was about to say that if Monica had done as she was told, whatever she was told, she would not be sick. I decided I couldn’t stand this conversation any more. “Excuse me. I need to…”

And I fled to the one place safe from him – the nearest ladies room. I splashed water on my face, not caring that it would ruin my makeup.

“Gods, what a…”

A nurse had followed me inside. “Asshole?”

“Patriarchal piece of…” I tailed off. “Guy thinks his daughter has cancer because she wouldn’t submit to him in all ways.”

“Oh. One of those. Is he prescribing prayer?”

“No, he wants to keep her alive as long as possible when she wants no heroic measures.”

“That’s almost worse.” The woman offered me a hug.
She was a total stranger.

I took it anyway.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 24

Monica wasn’t in hospital a couple of months later. She was there three days later.

Maybe her willpower had run out.

Maybe it was just time. I was still angry about it. I still hadn’t gained perspective about mortal lives and deaths and I was in no hurry to do so.

Perspective, as if they were just…pawns on our chess board. They were, but I wasn’t in a hurry to start seeing them that way. Wasn’t I here for, in part, a reminder that they were people?

I visited her. “How long do you think she has?”

“Not long. If she had been more compliant with treatment…”

“You might have been able to give her a few more miserable months.” Regardless of how I felt, I could at least respect her choices.

“She refused to rest.”

“Right. She didn’t want to spend the next four months in a chair and then two in bed.”

The doctor looked sheepish. “So, you aren’t a family member, but apparently she wants you to have power of attorney. Her parents are on their way, though.”

And, I knew, Monica’s wishes were about to be ignored. “And they’ll want heroic measures no matter what.”

“I’m sorry. They’re family. You’re, what, a friend?”

“A friend.”

“Not anything more?”

I shook my head. “Monica’s straight and I have a girlfriend.”

“You should have lied.” He glanced at the bed. “I’d warrant you know her wishes better than they do.”

“She said they were estranged.”

“She mentioned something like that to me.”

Maybe I could talk to them. Part of me didn’t want to. Part of me wanted to agree with them.

Part of me knew that Monica dying cell by cell in the hospital, unconscious, was absolutely not what Odin had had in mind.


The first step was to talk to her parents when they showed up. See what kind of people they were.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 23

I knew for sure that would not, however, be the last I saw of the hunter. I should have got his name.

I hadn’t wanted to risk giving him any of mine. Still, there was nothing I could do about that at this point. Except keep an eye out for him and hope he didn’t show up dead or worse.

But I knew I couldn’t force him to get with the program. So, I tried to relax and pretend he wasn’t there until he showed up again.

We got our prom photos back. I framed and hung the best of them. Normality, although not everyone would agree with that.

Something to treasure when Kanesha was old, was more what I was thinking. Through the cycle of her life.

What came after? Then I might not need it. Okay. I tossed the morbid thought out of my mind.

Enjoy what we had while we had it, and try not to worry. If I didn’t live like that I’d spend so much of my energy on worrying I wouldn’t have any left for anything else.

That was why poor people appeared to be stupid, after all. Too much energy worrying about money.

At least I didn’t have to worry about that any more.

Then Monica showed up. I let her in and she grinned at the picture. “You girls look fantastic.”

“I wish I could say the same thing about you.”

She was gaunt, I wasn’t sure how she was on her feet except for sheer force of will and perhaps magic. “Don’t worry about me.”

“It’s not worry.” Worry would imply I could do something about it. No, it was grief, of a sort.

I had to trust Odin, but…

She sat down, almost falling down. “I came to ask you something.”

I nodded.

“I don’t have any family.”

The surprise must have shown.

“Well, I do. We’re very estranged. They think…well, never mind. You’re legally an adult. I want to give you my power of attorney.”

I knew exactly what she was asking. “Me? The one who clings to people like…”

She smiled. “I trust you when the time comes.”
And it wouldn’t be long.

She added, as if to support that thought. “I expect to be back in the hospital in a couple of months. I’m fighting for hospice, insurance doesn’t want to cover it.”

I closed my eyes. “Monica…”

“I trust you.”

This wasn’t something I wanted her to trust me with. Not at all.

Episode Twenty-Six: Prom: Scene 22

I caught up with Seb a bit later. “She’ll be fine. You did the right thing pulling it out.”

“Normally I wouldn’t, but fae and cold iron. Not that her prank was the right thing to do either, but…”

“Should we do something about that guy?”

“Let’s see if he comes around. Or becomes vampire supper.”

“I think he said, or at least implied, he could handle vampires.”

“Nonetheless.” I shook my head just a little bit. “He’s going to have to learn some sense or he’s going to be dead. But we can’t save him.”

Seb nodded. “Clara just got out of school.”

“Why don’t you tell her what’s going on with that guy?”

“I will. Why don’t you get cleaned up.”

I looked down at myself. Crap. I had fairy blood all over me. “Should I save some of this?”

“If you can.”

I had a feeling Clara could make use of it for spell components. I headed straight home for a long, long shower. Cleaned off my clothes. Collected a small vial of the blood.

Yeah, it might be useful, and I doubted its previous owner would be too upset given we did save her life.

Right after lecturing her on glamor quality. It all took on a bit of a surreal air. Almost funny if somebody hadn’t come so close to dying.
And if I didn’t have a loose cannon on what I’d come to think of as my turf. I still thought the best way to deal with him was to let him hang himself, though.

Unless he hurt somebody else.

Until he hurt somebody else. Well, I’d given him a warning and he wasn’t that competent. I forced myself to relax.

“What happened?” Kanesha asked as she came in. “Is that shirt ruined?”

“I had to do first aid on a fairy.”

“Ugh. Are they going to be okay?”

“Yeah. They’re getting more expert treatment than I could give.” I flopped into a chair. “We’ve got a loose cannon.”

“Then I suppose we have to rope them down.”

“I let them loose with a warning. They know some of what they’re doing, not enough, but they don’t care who they hurt.”

“Well,” Kanesha said sensibly. “You can always beat them up.”

I grinned. “I already did.”