Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 20

We didn’t get out of there before noon. The diner gave us free sandwiches, but wanting to get clear, we took them with us.


“I wonder who they were.”


“I’m still thinking some kind of safehouse. I don’t know. For all I know…or care…they were mob.”


She laughed. “Maybe.”


“Mob, CIA, foreign spies, I don’t care, they got me shot at, so lunch is only a small repayment.” Not that I was as annoyed as that. I still took the first driving shift, figuring I was likely to have less of the shakes than she was.


The road was clear, though, the city in our rear view mirror. I hoped that was the worst thing that would happen.


“It’s better food, though.”


“I still think whoever they escorted out that night was the chef being fired.”


Kanesha laughed, and made a gun shape with her hand.


“Hey, don’t joke about terminating people.” It was tasteless. It was still funny, much like a game of Cards Against Humanity, which Clara had managed to sneak past her parents and introduce us to.


“I don’t think it was, or I wouldn’t joke.”


I just kept us going north. At least we didn’t have a schedule, or a plan. Just…the road and each other.


And that tension knot in my stomach had finally relaxed some. A mundane issue, or what seemed to be, had sort of reminded me not everything was my problem.


Then I thought of the girl in the subway.


That wasn’t my problem either. My real issue was that I wanted everything to be my problem.


I wanted the power to fix them all, but I didn’t have it. And I… “You know. I want to fix everything.”




“And I both want and don’t want more power. How mixed up is that?”


“Very, but it’s part of why I love you. You want the responsibility but not the power. Wrong way around.”


I laughed. I wondered how right she was. Thinking about it, I fell silent as the miles rolled past under our wheels.


Kanesha had her phone out and was looking for restaurants.


But I no longer felt any kind of normal.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 19

The broad-shouldered man went down a moment later, but there was no sound of a shot.


I wasn’t even sure how she’d done it, before she turned her attention to us. At that point, she drew a gun.


Kanesha ducked under the table. I followed her, but I could hear her walk over. Something strange about her gait.
Almost like a concealed limp, hidden behind the training she demonstrated, hidden within her ability.


Sensing that hiding under the table would not do it, I waited until the last possible moment before exploding out from under it.


She wasn’t expecting that. The gun went off, the bullet hitting the bench. “Hello,” I said as I reached for her gun hand. “I don’t appreciate being randomly attacked.”


She hissed. “I can’t leave witnesses.”


“Sorry to disappoint you.” She was fast.


I was faster, my hand striking into her jaw and then her solar plexus. She dropped the gun and doubled over. Honestly, I’d probably done some real damage.




I’d broken her jaw. I didn’t feel bad about it at all. I grabbed her gun and stood up. “Kanesha, check on that guy.”


The waitress was coming out of the back room with a gun.


“I think this is your trash,” I said, holding the woman’s weapon on her, but she was too busy trying to hold her jaw together.


“He’s still alive,” Kanesha said. “But stabbed. The knife’s stuck in him.”


Which was why she’d pulled the much more obvious gun. “Don’t pull it out.”


The waitress nodded. “I’ll call for an ambulance. Are you hurt?”


“No. I guess she thought you guys had a lot of cash.”


She looked at me. Looked at Kanesha. Then, she winked at me and went behind the counter to find the phone.


She knew I knew it wasn’t that. I knew she knew I knew. We could both pretend we didn’t know and then she wouldn’t have to arrest or silence me.


I did have contacts, anyway. I wasn’t asking what this was really about. But this did mean we were stuck here waiting for the cops.


Having called them, she found some twist tie handcuffs and secured the woman. “I’ll vouch for the fact that she was trying to kill you.”


“Thanks.” And she had been. The fact that she wouldn’t have succeeded was immaterial.


My adrenalin levels were still up, though. Also, I was rather annoyed that something that wasn’t even anything to do with me was interrupting our vacation.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 18

We did make it back to the motel. “If that superhero’s the worst thing…” Then Kanesha burst out laughing. “I think we met Callisto.”




“The leader of the Morlocks in Marvel comics. Mutants who live in tunnels and abandoned subway stations under New York.”


I laughed a bit myself. “I think your theory fits.”


“I wonder if there are any more like her. At least she seems to have the sense not to try to be Supergirl.”


“Although she’d have looked good in the dress.”


Kanesha pretended to punch me. We decided not to bother leaving too early in the morning and slept in.


I wasn’t comfortable, though. I woke up early again, and this time I had a sense of alarm that almost had me running for the car and our weapons.


A sense of something, anyway. Maybe it was just paranoia from things being so quiet, but I wasn’t about to count on that.


So, I stayed awake, lying on my back and thinking. New York probably didn’t need us. Well, maybe “Callisto” did, but the help she needed was more mundane than anything.


DC did.


Or had I brought…I couldn’t help but think that anywhere I went would end up needing my protection from what would follow me. Which wasn’t fair. I was the one who had earned exile, not the people I met every day, not Kanesha.


And it wasn’t even supposed to be a punishment for me. But what could I do? I didn’t know, and when she finally got up, we checked out then went to get breakfast.


The same diner. The same weird tension, and I would be glad to be out of here. I had waffles and bacon, munching on them slowly. “I’m not comfortable.”


Kanesha nodded. “This place is creepy.”


“No, I think it’s something else. Spider sense activated or whatever.”


“Well, I parked close to the door.”


I was glad of that. “I’ll take the morning driving shift this time,” I offered.


“Thanks.” She glanced at the door.


So did I. A man came in, six feet tall and almost the same broad. I did not like the look of him for a moment, then I noticed the slender woman behind him.


Not him. Her. She moved like she was trained to fight, and from Kanesha’s tension I knew she was picking up on it too. She was a pretty good hand to hand combatant herself, after all.


“I think we should pay and leave.”


It was, of course, too late.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 17

“Only if you don’t keep us too long, we have to get back to a motel in New Jersey before the last train.” The subway ran all night, but not everything did.


She frowned, then nodded. “You’re a superhero.”


My eyes widened.


“I mean, like me.”


I glanced at Kanesha. She looked like she was thoughtful. “Let’s talk somewhere we aren’t scaring civilians.”


She ducked into a maintenance tunnel. I followed, wishing I’d changed my shoes. This wasn’t a fun place for high heels.


“I have superpowers. And I’ve been using them to…protect people who don’t quite fit in. Well, mostly…mostly abused kids.”


“You’re a witch,” Kanesha said, firmly. “There’s no such thing as superpowers. You’ve just kind of…made your magic work that way instead of spells.”


That made sense. “I think she’s right. You look like a witch to me.”


“Does…does it matter? Maybe I’m like Wanda Maximoff.”


I grinned. “Maybe. Anyway. Look. I’m from out of town. And I’m leaving again. There’s not much I can do to help you…right now.”


“What do you need?” Kanesha asked.


“Money,” she admitted. “Money would be helpful. A cop we could trust…” She must have seen me flinch, because she trailed off.


“Money I can’t do right now, but might be able to in the future.” A pause. “All of my good contacts are in DC.”


“No wonder you don’t have money,” the girl quipped, weakly. “I hear it’s even worse than Manhattan.”


“It’s close to the same, really. But yeah, that’s why we don’t have money.”


She brushed back her dirty blonde hair – she was very pale, perhaps she only came out at night. “I just. I felt you were like me or something like me and I panicked.”


“I’ll see what I can do for you and your people,” I promised. Maybe it was a foolish promise, maybe it wasn’t one I should be making. But it felt right to make it, and I worded it in a way that wouldn’t make me an oathbreaker if I failed.


“People always say that.”


“I mean it. I can’t promise, because I don’t know what will happen. But…if you’re taking in abused kids, well, I doubt foster care is any better here than there.”


“They send them back to their parents. I mean, the only kind of abuse those people count is a belt.”


Which meant other, more subtle kinds of abuse. “I know what you mean.”


I frowned. But I didn’t ask to be shown her refuge. I did wonder if Kara might be interested in helping them, though, if it really was her I’d so briefly sensed. “I’ll talk to some people.”


“And I apologize for shooting you.”


“At least you shot me, not…”


“It would only have knocked you out.”


So she could tie me up or something, I supposed. I was just as glad it hadn’t worked.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 16

We changed into something more suited to dinner and theater in a public toilet, which wasn’t ideal, but it was better than going all the way back to the motel.


And anything that wasn’t perfect I would make look perfect. There were advantages to being what I was. Three course pre-dinner menu. Then the show, which really was good. I had started to relax. Nothing was going to happen.


And if it did, I suspected Kieran would help us out. Depending. If it was one of his friends mistaking me for a bad guy, of course, that would be a problem. But I rather thought he’d put out the word.


Something would have happened otherwise. Or maybe it was just waiting until we left the theater, with a long trip back on the late night subway. I wasn’t about to change back, either.


So, if anyone tried to mug us, they’d get a nasty surprise.


Of course, that wasn’t what happened. Nothing that mundane. I had decided that I really was on vacation and off duty and was not going to interfere with anything. I was going to leave it to the locals.


We were changing trains, a quiet subway station, when I felt something hit me in the back. “Down!” I yelled.


Kanesha…and the few people in the station…obeyed. I turned. I hadn’t been shot, I’d been hit by some kind of a spell.


Whatever it was, I’d shaken it off. It probably wasn’t potent enough to affect an Asgardian. My eyes scanned the platform for anyone who hadn’t hit the deck. Kanesha was murmuring something which included “stay” and “down.”


There they were, a woman, at the far end. I moved towards her. She looked startled.


“Lesson one, I’m not a demon.”


“You’re on my turf,” she snarled.


“What, everything under New York?” I was being sardonic.


“Exactly. So, get out.”


Presumably she hadn’t bothered us earlier because it was daytime. “As soon as I get to my destination. You really expect us to take a cab?”


She looked…a little startled. “I’m…” Drawing herself up.


I narrowed my eyes. “You’re a very talented young lady.” She was maybe a year older than I appeared, tops, but waiflike. “But you’re out of your weight class, as you may already have noticed.”


She scowled. Having failed to do whatever she’d planned with the spell and failed to intimidate me, she wasn’t sure what to do.


“Oh, relax. I’m on vacation, and only mildly irritated.”


“You’ll hurt people.”


“If I was going to hurt anyone, it would be you, and you fired first.” I kept my eyes on her. “I don’t care what you’re doing down here, as long as you aren’t killing people. Even then, I really am on vacation.”


“What are you?”


“Something, like I said, out of your weight class.” I almost felt sorry for her.


A pause, then, a sheepish, “Can we…talk?”


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 15

I still felt as if we were being watched as we got lunch, followed by ice cream, at a small cafe in Central Park. Then we went to the Met.


“We’re being watched, aren’t we.”


I nodded. “That Kieran guy and his coven, I suspect. They aren’t sure of us, and I don’t blame them. Especially if he knows who I am.”


“Fathers,” Kanesha grumbled. “Although I’d rather have yours than mine.”


She had a point.


Loki hadn’t abandoned me. Even when he was supposed to, even when I didn’t know who I was, he had still been there, in the background.


Still watching me. He wasn’t a bad father, I thought. And he hadn’t been to the others either.


Except for my full brothers. But had that been his failure?


What had he done, I wondered suddenly, to ensure my safety. Had my exile been in part his choice? A way of keeping me from their fate?


“I have a surprise,” I said, finally. “You know how I made sure we had nice clothes in my bag?”


“What is it?”


I pulled out the tickets.


“Oh! You…I’d say you didn’t have to, but I know you.”


I grinned. “And we have dinner reservations too. Why do you think I cheaped out on the hotel?”


Because, well, I’d rather spend the money on food and entertainment than a larger room we only intended to sleep in.


She laughed. “I was expecting you to choose Wicked.”


“Nah. I figured you’d like this better.”


And if it got ruined, then whoever was responsible was dead.


She threw her arms around me, not caring about the PDA. Of course, anyone who recognized us would be witches or the like and from what I’d seen, far less likely to care than the general population.


Anyone else would see, yes, a pair of lesbians, but they wouldn’t know who we were. Or maybe nobody noticed, because she planted a kiss on my lips and nobody challenged us to get a room.


Maybe people in New York really minded their own business as much as their reputation said. I grinned and tucked the Hamilton tickets back into my pocket before we headed out of the museum.


Before I ended up dropping them.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 14

We could not quite get public transport from the motel, so we drove a few blocks. I thought of checking out, but knew we’d be back.


Part of me didn’t like the idea of leaving our stuff there, though, for no rational reason. Well, no rational reason other than my enemies having burned me out before. So, yeah, I had a rational reason.


But anything irreplaceable was in the car. I wasn’t about to take weapons into a motel, if nothing else.


Of course, then we had to leave the car locked. I contemplated – I’d managed to hide a sword on the Metro before, but I wasn’t as comfortable with this. Eventually, I decided to take the risk.


And we rode the subway into New York. I could feel that same sense of presence. So many people.


Some of them were bound to be different. Witches, vampires, angels, demons. I was pretty sure I sensed the edge of the aura of at least one Valkyrie. Maybe Kara.


I wasn’t sure, but if it was her, maybe we should swing by. No, I was on vacation. “Central Park first?” I suggested.


Kanesha grinned. “Before it gets hot.”


It wouldn’t be quite as hot as DC, but she had a point. And then, as a surprise for her, I had Broadway tickets. It might not have been the show I would have picked for myself, but it was for her.


We got off in Central Park, walking through it. It was easy to pretend there was not a huge city around us, except for the slight peeking vision of the skyscrapers above the trees.


And, of course, the people. It was a weekday morning, but there were still plenty of them. Of course, school was still out, so a lot of them were teenagers.


“I like this place.”


I nodded to her. “It…isn’t as tense as the Mall, is it.”


“The Mall always seems to be people taking brief lunch breaks and checking their watches, or trying to get in every Smithsonian museum in a day.”


I laughed at that. “A week, maybe. Two would be better.”


“They don’t seem to understand, do they.”


“Do I understand what to do in New York?” I asked her.


“Do you?” came a voice from nearby. A figure in a trenchcoat. “What are you doing in town?”


“Vacation,” I said even as I turned to face the figure, narrowing my eyes. Local witch. Male, for a change.




“I’m not here for trouble, although I’ll deal with it if it finds me anyway.” I smiled at him.


He nodded. “You know I have to check.”


“Oh, I’d do the same thing. Call me Jane for now…and this is Kanesha.”


“Kieran,” he introduced, offering a hand. “I doubt I need to tell you what I am.” His eyes flicked over Kanesha, but he didn’t seem bothered.


“I already know I don’t need to tell you.” I laughed a bit. “But we really are on vacation.”


I hoped he’d believe me.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 13

We didn’t spend the night in New York, but rather found a motel to spend the night, the kind of place where you only stop because you can’t drive any more. Tiny rooms. No restaurant, but there was a diner a block or so away. Very typical American diner.


It felt a little surreal. Almost as if it was a virtual reality of a road trip. “Does anything feel wrong to you?”


Kanesha considered, then, “This place is too stereotypical.”


I nodded. “Okay, it’s not just me.” And it probably was just the place. The uniforms. The menu.


Maybe it was set up to be that way, maybe the owners liked being a stereotype. Now I knew it wasn’t just me, though, I kept my eyes open. Our weapons were in the car, safely secured.


I hoped nothing would show up that I couldn’t hold off while Kanesha got them. But we ate, and headed for our room, and the uneasy feeling we were both sharing seemed to fade.


Maybe the place was some kind of CIA cover or safe house that had to pretend to be a working business. Nothing would have surprised me at this point. Maybe it was somebody else’s safe house.


The more I thought about it, the more that seemed the likeliest explanation. Something designed to look exactly like a traditional American diner, in the hope nobody would notice it.


But not the CIA. They would have done a better job. Ultimately, I decided it was none of my business, and slept.


I woke up early, but I often did. Trying not to disturb Kanesha, I went to the window and looked out into the dawn. There was bustle around the diner, but it could be a delivery.


No, it was definitely somebody being hustled out the back door, wrapped in a blanket so they could not be identified. I could not tell if they were being protected or imprisoned.


None of my business, I told myself again. Not everything was. Not everything was my burden to bear. That was an important thing to remember, too.


I was only one person and I could only be in one place at a time. I felt fire flicker for a moment.


I could only be who and what I was, nothing more, nothing less. So, I could not solve every problem and should not try to. The person was helped into a mini-van…they were definitely limping…and it drove off.


I decided to tell Kanesha, on the grounds that it might make her feel easier about the place, and because it wasn’t fair otherwise.


Then I watched until she got up, and we went back there for breakfast. Different waitress.


Better food. But then, some places were known for their breakfasts. Or maybe what I’d actually seen was last night’s cook being fired.


We got back in the car and continued to drive north. Things seemed quiet, as if nobody knew for sure where we were to harass us.


I knew that would not, could not last.


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 12

New York was…New York. We had decided to spend the next day here, but to avoid Manhattan prices. Still, we stopped for lunch in the shadow of the skyscrapers.


There was a lot going on here, but I had already decided to do my best to ignore it. No doubt this city had its own protectors, some of them perhaps more powerful and more experienced than I am.


I also sensed more of a spirit, more of an energy, to the city itself. Perhaps because so many people in DC were transients. Or perhaps because it was so big, and so strongly viewed as the City.


We did not go into the City, though. We skirted it, watching it, stopping at a small park to stretch our legs. There were children feeding ducks.


“So normal.”


“So, we’ll stop somewhere for the night then go into New York?”


I nodded. “And not drive. We’ll stop at a parking lot or something.” I didn’t see any reason to hurry any part of the trip, unless we were running out of time. If we did, we could drive through the night, with two of us, and my stamina.


So, there was no reason to hurry, none at all.


“Yeah, I’ve heard things about parking in Manhattan.”


“I don’t think it’s much worse than DC, but it’s definitely going to be easier to take the subway.” Which couldn’t be that much different from DC’s metro.


“What do you think is going on there?”


I tilted my head, looked towards the city. “A lot of stuff I plan on not getting involved in. Not unless we move.”


“Which you aren’t sure about.”


I shook my head. “That’s not it, it’s getting you your teacher qualifications I’m worried about.”


“It’s even more expensive than DC.”


“Maybe. I think it’s easier to live in a cheap neighborhood and commute. And I’m making more money.” Which I was. People were valuing me. Which I had mixed feelings about, given I was pretty sure they were valuing me above women who looked like Kanesha.


Certainly above shorter women, but that tended to be how modeling worked. I’d already been told I was too tall to act seriously, so I suppose it evened out.


“You are. I don’t know if I want to be rich.” Her tone was teasing.


“I can always give it away.” Which I might, some of it. “But come on. New York penthouse?”


She considered that. “Only if you don’t mind me slumming it at a struggling school which needs my help.”


“Always.” I grinned at her, relaxed and happy for once. “Let’s go?”


Episode Thirty: Departures: Scene 11

Of course, once we were off the parkway it wasn’t as much fun, the road full of traffic. Big rigs crawling in the inside lane, and me feeling, well. Nervous.


Definitely nervous. I’d gotten so tense I probably needed a spa day. Or some other way to outright force me to relax.


Well, if nothing went wrong on this trip it would help. The problem was convincing myself there was any likelihood of nothing going wrong. Before nothing did, by which point it would be essentially too late, I’d be back and facing all of the same decisions.


A hawk circled above the highway, looking for roadkill. Clean up crew, I thought wryly. But definitely a hawk, not a raven. Hopefully Odin would leave me alone and let me take a vacation.


Unless I was needed. And maybe I could avoid being needed. We kept heading north. Through that east coast megalopolis I talked about earlier, but at least there were some breaks in it. A farm. A field with horses in it. Small stands of trees.


An outlet mall.


It was all so ordinary, so banal. So much as if the real world was hidden behind a veil.


Maybe that was what I needed, though.


Finally, I spoke, “I’m too anxious.”


“I know. Maybe…”


“Maybe we should stop somewhere good for relaxation.”


“I think you just need to…” She pauses. “Worry about the bad guys when they show up?”


It was good advice. “Well, we’re not stopping at the outlet mall.”


She laughed. “Maybe at the end of the trip.”


I thought about that. “Maybe. It might not be bad. Right now, though, I don’t want to even think about clothes.”


Kanesha laughed again. “What about swords?”


“Those too.”


I just hoped I could find it in myself to follow her advice. She was right. I’d be a wreck if I didn’t stop worrying about what might happen as opposed to what already did and had.


And right now, nothing was, so I could relax and focus on driving. After I switched off with Kanesha, I curled up in the shotgun seat and just watched America go by.


Thought of the various places I’d been. Thought of how none of them could really be home, and how I had to remember that, see it as truth. My true home wasn’t even in this reality.


That helped.


It helped a lot. Leave it, Sigyn had said. I realized she didn’t necessarily mean physically.


I could protect it, and care about it, without letting myself be so emotionally tied.


I would, though, never leave Kanesha. No, maybe not never, but…


I loved her. And there were all kinds of different kinds of love. I loved protecting people, but that didn’t mean I loved them all.


It was a clarity of mind I hadn’t experienced in a while. I analyzed it, appreciated it, and then closed my eyes.