Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 31

I scrambled onto the rooftops, but I didn’t see him. Or smell him – I’m not, after all, a dog.

Fortunately, fyrhunds can climb, or…maybe he teleported to get up there with me. There.

There was a shape, hiding behind the roof ridge. I ran to the top of it, dodging a bullet that angled past me. It grazed the fyrhund, who yelped, but didn’t seem significantly hurt.

“Why are you shooting at us?” I asked as I powered down the ridge, tackling him into the roof.

“Wasn’t shooting at you. No quarrel with you. Just with that asshole.”

“I don’t care what he did to your kid sister, you almost hit me.”

The look on his face showed I’d struck home. Of course, it was a guess.

“He deserves…”

“Oh, I know he’s an asshole, but do you deserve to end up in jail?”

I managed to get my hands on the gun and flip it away. It went off the edge of the roof to crash into a dumpster below.

“You could let me go.”

“Oh, I don’t intend to keep you. Just teach you a lesson about taking pot shots at people in the open.”

Which I hoped this would be. A lesson.

“So, what am I supposed to do about him?”

I considered that. “I wouldn’t stop you from beating him up, I suppose.” Of course, Kanesha would have him well clear by now. “But I don’t like unnecessary killing.”

“He knocked up a fifteen-year-old.”

“Again.” Maybe he’d be doing the world…or young women…a favor.

“You didn’t know what he did. You just guessed.”

“I know what he’s like.”

“He should be in jail. Or dead.”

I couldn’t entirely disagree. Something led me to speak. “He will be soon.”


“Dead. He’s old.” I wasn’t sure how I knew that – no, I didn’t. The fyrhund did, and had told me in subtle telepathy.

“Doesn’t look it.”

“He’s good at hiding it. As for the kid…the kid will be fine.” I thought of Derek. And thought that I’d have to take steps.

“She refuses to abort.”

“Brave of her.”

Then the rooftop suddenly became quite a bit hotter. I released my prey. “Run.”

He did.

I turned to face the new arrival, knowing what I would see.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 30

When he stopped, “It’s a wardstone. It’s meant to protect him from mental influence and deceit. So that he can identify the next demon he meets.”

“That seems reasonable enough, but it’s scaring his mother.”

“She has no reason to love me,” he admitted, regarding me thoughtfully. “Neither do you.”

“But my goal is for Derek to be able to look after himself so I’m not eternally chasing around after him.”

He laughed again. “Consider it practice for your own children.”

I hadn’t thought that much about having children, although I was sure it would happen at some point. “He should be your responsibility, not mine, but…”

“I am respecting his mother’s wishes, whilst helping as I can. By all means, get a witch to check the stone.”

“His mother is a witch,” I pointed out.

“She wasn’t much of one when I knew her.” A pause. “But I suppose that was a while ago.”

Efreets lived a bit longer than humans. I wondered how old he was. I was glad I’d done more research on his kind, tried to develop more of an understanding.

They were mortal, after all.

The report of the shot sounded a moment later. I reacted, hitting the deck and pulling the efreet with me. Kanesha, I trusted to get down herself. She did.

“Tell me that was a firework,” he said, softly.

“It wasn’t.” I picked myself up. “Stay down. See if you can’t come up with a decent spell.” I didn’t care if I got shot, not really. But I stayed in a crouch, moving behind a car as I tried to locate the sniper. I wasn’t sure which of us they had aimed at, or even whether it hadn’t been aimed at us at all. It didn’t matter.

People who took pot shots in public places deserved to go down, but whoever it was appeared to have run.

“Stay with him. I’m going to go track down the sniper.”

Kanesha nodded. “Actually, we’ll go somewhere really public. There’s a cafe that should still be open.”

“Good idea.” I looked around. Then I looked at the dog. He was pointing his nose upwards.

Rooftops. Great. I wasn’t really that good at freerunning, but I had to find this guy.

Even if he was just mundane, I still had to find him.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 29

Pizza did help. We sat outside, and I called the fyrhund. He padded up to me, and sat down, in bloodhound form. As if he’d sensed that a manhunt was in the offing.

Kanesha reached down and fondled his ears. Without getting burned.


“I think I trust him not to hurt me.”

“Deliberately,” I pointed out.

He panted and wagged his stern. I finished my pizza and paid the check. “Okay, let’s go find the deadbeat dad.”

“Deadbeat dad?” the waitress, not quite far enough away, asked.

“Yeah. Friend of ours. His sperm donor’s in town and we’re going to corner him and get him to actually at least pretend to be a father,” I explained. Which was even, somewhat, true.

“Oh. Good luck. Nice dog.”

The fyrhund lolled his tongue at her. Then stood up as I did. I murmured to him. “Find the efreet.”

I trusted there would only be one in the city.

“What if there’s more than one?” Kanesha commented.

“Seems unlikely. But I suppose if we find the wrong one we cross them off the list.”

She laughed. “I don’t have to get up early.”

It was rather late at this point. But I didn’t want to wait any longer. “If you have to go sleep, go. I don’t plan on fighting him.”

“Nah. Let’s go.”

The fyrhund led us away from the restaurant. I got a sense, almost an image from him. “It’s not that far, at least. Or at least there’s an efreet a few blocks away.”

“In the direction of Derek’s place?”

“Yup. Maybe he’s staking it out.” He didn’t want to deal with his ex, but he could watch hidden. “She’ll spot him eventually, though.”

“Maybe she’ll let him stick around as long as he doesn’t talk to Derek.”

“Maybe.” I was skeptical, though. She didn’t like him. She had every reason not to like him. To be honest, I didn’t like him with a lot less reason. “At least it shows it’s probably the right guy.”

Or girl. There were female efreet, after all. But he wasn’t all the way to Derek’s.

We spotted him leaning against a wall, smoking a cigarette. It wasn’t tobacco.

“Ugh,” Kanesha pronounced. “I hate the smell of weed.”

He looked up. “You.”

“Yeah. Us. Don’t worry, we aren’t here to beat you up.”

“You’re here to pass some message from my son.”

“I’m here to find out what the heck you gave him.”

The efreet started to laugh.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 28

He came to the same conclusion I did. “My father.”

“I’ll find him. That way your mother won’t be upset. And I’ll make him tell me what it does. It might or might not be something you want to keep.” Maybe it would protect him. I could hope so.

The efreet might be an asshole, but he was still Derek’s father.


“You stay put and don’t try to make that thing do anything until I’ve shaken what it does out of his pockets.”

Derek laughed, perhaps at the image. “Don’t worry. I won’t. What if it does something on its own?”

“There’s a witch downstairs who can help,” I pointed out. Heading out the door with a wave to him.


“I know you didn’t say anything so as not to lead me, but that thing’s efreet made.”

“It’s a fire-stone, and yes. It’s probably meant to protect Derek or warn him.”

“I’m going to go find daddy dearest and make him tell us what.”

“I don’t want him having it.”

I met her gaze. “Derek needs protection until he can protect himself.”


“I’m going to talk to him. Trust me?”

“You’re…” Then she laughed. “I’ll try.”

That was a start on trust, at least. If she tried to trust me, then I could relax. If she was trying she wouldn’t actively stab me in the back.

“I like Derek. Sometimes I want to strangle him, and sometimes I don’t entirely trust him, but I like him.”

“I’m his mother. Wanting to strangle him is my job.”

I laughed, I couldn’t help it. Then I headed out, to bump into Kanesha.


“So, we’re going efreet hunting.”

“After dinner.”

She was right. My stomach was growling a little bit and she had to be far hungrier. “After dinner.”

“He shouldn’t be too hard to find.”

“Efreet only stand out so much. They’re more another kind of mortal than something like a dwarf. I’m going to need the dog.”

Kanesha nodded. “Well, let’s get pizza and talk about it.”

I knew she was right. She usually was.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 27

Being only slightly smarter than Derek, I called Kanesha before heading over to his place. I probably smelled of vampire. I’m basing this on the fact that nobody wanted to sit next to me on a full bus.

Oh well, I could bathe after I’d dealt with his latest stupidity. His home was a small house in Arlington.

I knocked on the door – and his mother answered.

“Derek called me.”

“I’m sure he did.” She frowned. “He needs to…”

“…stop bringing home magical stuff that’s glowing.”

“That would be a good start. Come on in.”

I followed her inside. “He’s upstairs. And I already took a look at it. It seems to like him.”

“That’s always bad news. Especially when there are demons after somebody.”

“Not always, but another set of eyes would be helpful.”

I went upstairs, the third step creaking ominously under my tread. The place was clean, well kept, but I wasn’t entirely sure about its structural integrity. They were poor.

Well, I was used to that. I knocked on the bedroom door.

“Come in.”

“Your mother thinks it likes you.”

“She told me.” He had it on the bed. It was spherical, roughly, and glowing. I sniffed a bit.

“Well, it’s not Fae magic.”

“Could it be something from, uh…”

“From your father’s side of the family? I hope so.” Because the alternative was that it was another demon trap.

“I guess…”

“Zaid might know. Your father would know, but…”

“But I’m not supposed to talk to him.”

“I’ve met him. Believe me, you’re better off without him.”

“I wish I had a real father.”

I thought of Mike for a moment. Then of my father. “Well, you know who mine is.”

He laughed. “But yours…”

“He’s embarrassing and occasionally evil, but he does at least wait for them to grow up first. But you are nothing like your father.”

“Except for the magic.”

I had an insight. I wasn’t sure about it. “Pick it up.”

He did. It glowed brighter for a moment, then settled.

“I have no idea what it is, but it definitely likes you. Which means somebody left it for you to find.”

And if it was efreet magic not demon magic, that somebody was probably…

…Derek’s father.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 26

Well, it became a mixed thing. We got back to DC, where it was hotter than it had been further south, thanks to the city being in a swamp and further from the cooling influence of the sea.

It was unpleasant for me and even more so for those without my blood. Kanesha hid in the air conditioning to study.

I forced myself to go out into the city, planning on meeting her for dinner after it had cooled off a bit. Looking for trouble.
Watching the people I was protecting. If I was honest, making sure nothing bad had moved in while I was away. I thought I smelled a vampire nest and headed that way, to clean them out before sunset.

If all I could do was keep those vermin out of the city, then I was achieving something. Something important.
A single life saved was worth it.

But there was the brooding threat of Surtur, of the war, of the possibility that all of this might come to an end. I found the vampires in a basement, killed them before they could wake up. Came back up into the sunlight.

Maybe what I needed…no. I had plenty of reminders of why I did this. I just needed to know how to stop it.

Surtur was going to come after me, as soon as he worked out a good way to do it. I had to stay alert.

I had to not relax like I had on the beach, except sometimes I needed to. Which is why I had friends to watch my back.

And I wasn’t going to let any more of them die, not without fighting pretty hard for them. And I wasn’t going to let the world end.

The sunset was beautiful over the city. The air was clear. I’d had a small workout.

I felt pretty good, and of course?

Of course that was when Derek called. It had to be Derek, too, not somebody I actually wanted to talk to.

“More problems?”

“Not exactly. I found something.”

“If it’s a magic item, take it to Clara or Seb, they can identify it better than I can.”

“They’re not picking up.”

Which made me suspect Clara and Seb were, shall we say, busy. “Is it urgent?”

“Given it’s glowing.”

“I’ll call that urgent. Where are you?”

Derek was probably being trapped again. I was already moving halfway through him giving the address. His home.

He’d taken a glowing artifact home.


Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 25

Either way, we had three more days of beach time. Including the extra day most of us were staying just to relax.

That was the only half day, though. There was a lot of shooting – multiple clients, the agency having set things up so transport and housing costs and the like could be shared. Now I wasn’t in school any more, people were starting to treat me like an adult. It was refreshing.

The last day we partied. Pretty much. I didn’t dare get drunk, but I got to stay sober and watch everyone else. Which was almost as entertaining. (Besides, I wasn’t sure I could get drunk on anything brewed on Midgaard. Kanesha, of course, could).

But it was a lot of fun, and right in the middle of it the selkie showed up. Kanesha followed me as she beckoned me off to the side.

The selkie grinned. “Making sure your girlfriend’s here so you aren’t tempted?”

Kanesha slipped her hand into mine, laced fingers. “No, so I aren’t,” she teased.

I grinned. “So…”

“So, I have something for you.” And she offered me a string of pearls. Wild pearls, not farmed or cultured.

I took them with an eyebrow rising. “Oh, those are gorgeous.” They weren’t white pearls, either. They were a soft, delicate pink.

“I collect them,” she said with a smile. “Had those around for a while.”

I supposed that it was easier for a selkie to retrieve pearls. “There are worse things to collect.”

Kanesha grinned. “They’ll look great on you.”

I shook my head. “Maybe better on you. I already have pretties.” Which was true. Being a model meant you picked up random clothes and accessories. And I did rather think the pink would look good on her dark brown skin, better than on my pale.

The selkie laughed. “You two have that fight. I…found somebody to keep me from being bored.” And she disappeared into the crowd.

“I hope she hid her cloak better this time.”

“I hope she got a locked room and put it in a drawer.” Because, really, in this day and age… I grinned at Kanesha. Then, before she could argue further, I slipped the pink pearls around her neck.

They really did suit her. They went with the sundress she was wearing too. She blushed, but then we went and got food.

It had all gone very well, I thought. I had been interrupted, but not by a fire giant attack. And the next morning, we drove back to DC, exchanging stories in the van. I didn’t talk about Eden.

I had decided to put her out of my mind, at least for now. At least until Thruor called me to help clean out those witches, if she needed me.

More likely, she’d call Clara and Seb. But for now? For now I could celebrate a job well done. And enjoy being treated as a normal adult for a bit.

Maybe the adult part would even last.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 24

We stopped at a beachside restaurant halfway back for dinner.

“I think she’s going to be fine,” Sarita said, finally. “They’ll help her start over somewhere else.”

I nodded. “And get her a restraining order.”

“And you scared him off?”

“I think so.” I wasn’t going to talk about magical restraining orders right now. She was already more involved than I liked, but… “Thanks. I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“I don’t like men who act like that. They make me wish I was like you.”

I shrugged. “We can’t choose that.”

“No, we can’t. I wish more people really accepted that. On all sides.”

I thought about how some gay people treated me for being bi and nodded. “Yeah. All sides. Although it is a bit unfair that I can enjoy more of the eye candy in the movie.”

“I thought you were a lesbian.” Sarita shrugged.

“Nope. Bisexual.”

“And lucky.”

I grinned. “Nah, I just have better taste than poor Eden.”

“Oh, he probably treats her like a princess when he’s not being abusive. They usually do.”

I didn’t ask if Sarita had any direct experience with that, and shifted the conversation to something safer until we drove back to the hotel.

Kanesha was curled on the bed reading. “Mission successful?”

“Yeah. I should have taken you, though. We had witch problems.”

“Evil witches. Typical.”

“But it’s dealt with. We found some nice witches in Hampton Roads and I had them put a spell on the ex so he can’t go close to her.”

Kanesha grinned. “Some witches should set up a protection agency to do that sort of thing.”

“If we existed in a world where magic could advertise, yeah.”

“What if they didn’t admit it was magic?” She sounded thoughtful.

I grinned. “In that case they probably already exist.”

I was sure they did. Now I had it firm in my mind that kind of thing was possible, I wondered if there were witches who worked at domestic violence shelters and used magic to protect the residents.

Maybe a spell to keep men out. Although that wouldn’t work for everyone – some victims were men and some perpetrators women. No, it would have to be more subtle than that.

Unless, of course, you assumed it was always the man at fault. I hadn’t, even in this case, but those witches had given me the shivers.

Even if Eden lied, the kid didn’t deserve to be in contact with them.

And I was sure she hadn’t.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 23

Either way, with the valkyries as escorts, I handed him over to the coven master…not mistress, for once…of a group in Hampton Roads.

“We’ll need…”

“She’s carrying his child,” Thruor said. “That should be enough of a connection without having to bring her here.”

A bit of a smile from the witch. A smile I didn’t like. “Well, he won’t ever get close to her again.”

I trusted that was true, stepped outside. Thruor followed me. “We can’t take you anywhere,” she quipped.

“Apparently not. And I wasn’t even intending to rescue her, I was just trying to get a selkie her cloak back.”

“Don’t trust selkies.”

“I don’t.” My thoughts were amused. “But as I said to the selkie, I don’t really trust myself, either.”

“Good point,” Thruor quipped. “Given who you are.”

“Exactly. So, no, I didn’t trust her. Didn’t mean I wanted her forced into a relationship with whoever had it.”


“Except it was Eden, and she thought she could use it.”

Thruor pursed her lips.

“She’s got selkie blood.”

“Not enough. Well, occasionally enough of it comes together. But…”

“Not in her, or her kid.” I sighed a bit. “And apparently her ex is the only person with no magical talent in a family of witches. I sort of feel sorry for him.”

Thruor shook her head. “He could have come to somebody.”

“He did. He just picked the wrong somebody. But I…”

“You need to meet up with your friend and get back by nightfall.”

I nodded. “Do you…”

“Sarita would have dropped her off at the shelter.” Thruor rattled off the address.

I left the car and headed there on foot, at the quick pace I could manage when I was alone. Shields up, of course. Outside, I found Sarita.

“I won’t ask…”

“I carjacked her husband.”

Sarita stopped. Then she laughed. “He…”

“I gave it back to him, with enough of a scare that he won’t come back here any time soon.”

“You’re weird.”

“I know.” I rather hoped she’d forget how weird.

People I dragged into this had a habit of dying, after all.

Episode Twenty-Nine: Ocean: Scene 22

Being a reasonably civilized goddess, I let him live anyway. I tied him up, put him in the back of his car and drove towards Hampton Roads. Not really by choice – there wasn’t really anywhere else to go where I might be able to find backup.

I couldn’t hand him over to the cops, who would never believe me. But I rather thought there would be some decent witches there who could deal with this kind of thing in an appropriate way.

I wish I was sure what an appropriate way was. Killing him in cold blood and playing jury and executioner might have been justice of a sort, but it wasn’t something my mother would approve of.


It wasn’t something my father would approve of. Odin, maybe, but Odin was a king. He had the right to do things like that. I wasn’t a queen and didn’t want to be. So, I didn’t.

The police had jurisdiction, but they were useless. So? I drove to Hampton Roads, not really seeing the beautiful scenery, and being very careful not to be pulled over. True, I had my license, but it wasn’t my car and I was…

I was carjacking the guy. But I didn’t quite make it to Hampton Roads before two motorcycles peeled out onto the road next to me.

Thruor and Kara.
Thank Odin – or whoever had tipped them off. I’d never been so glad to see valkyries in my life.

I pulled over with them flanking me.

“What do we have here?”

“Oh, he beat his wife and joined up with a black coven to sacrifice their unborn child for power.”
Thruor rolled his eyes. “The witches?”

“I hope they’re a good distance away. They tried to throw stuff at me through projections, but I sent them home.”

“Good work. How about we take him from here?”

“What will you do to him?”


“If I was going to kill him, I would have. I’m rather thinking…”

Kara suggested, blithely, “Turn him into a toad?”

I laughed. “Don’t insult toads.”

“I don’t know. They’re ugly and toxic.”

“And eat biting flies,” I pointed out. “Toads are too useful to insult in this way.” Even if I wouldn’t want to mess with one. “But I was rather hoping to find a coven in Hampton Roads with a good idea.”

“Honestly, what we probably want for him is a magical restraining order,” Thruor mused. “Then we’ll go after the coven.”

“A magical…”

She grinned. “A geas not to get within X miles of his ex or her child until or unless it’s released. And there probably is a witch in Hampton Roads who could do it.”

I wished I’d thought of that. “I thought of the mundane variety.”

“Oh, she should get one of those as well. But…”

“But he can’t ignore magic.”

And the poor kid, I thought. With that for a father. No, with no father, he’d be better off. “As for the witches,” I added.

“Those I don’t think we should hesitate about sending right to Hell or wherever.”

Probably Hell, I thought. They were probably actual devil worshippers or something.

Or just, I couldn’t help but think, power-hungry fools.