I thought that meant it would be over. In fact, when I left, I winked at the warrior on the corner. She winked back. I fancied there was approval in it. I’d handled the situation, nobody had gotten hurt.
I wondered if he’d lost a child, or some other relative, to some kind of violence incident, or to suicide following bullying. I wondered, but the important thing was him not trying anything else.
It had never occurred to me it could be a parent. That was, of course, when the fyrhund showed up. “You’re late,” I whispered, reaching out to pet it. Heat wrapped around my hand, but it was a pleasant heat, like a heat lamp. I could actually feel its disappointment at having missed a fun game.
It followed me down the street, making me feel just a little bit nervous. I was sure it would be noticed by anything supernatural in the area.
On the other hand, I felt comfortable with the being itself. Maybe I needed to find a way to toss it a fire frisbee.
And on the other side, “Catch him?”
“If he does one more thing I’m calling the cops.”
“Smart girl.” Loki fell in next to me, then glanced past me. “Nice pet.”
“Not entirely deliberate. He’s useful to have around, though.” I glanced sidelong at him, wondering what was going through his mind. “So…”
“So, you handled it. Hopefully that means you can handle worse.”
“I’ve handled much worse. Like, say, people trying to kill me because they think it will avert Ragnarok.”
“I managed to divert some of those…don’t worry, not to a different target.”
“I appreciate that.” I couldn’t quite manage to call him father. The word stuck in my throat a little. “But I know they’ll be back.”
“Unless it’s too late.”
I turned around, faced him, walking backwards and letting the fyrhund warn me if I was about to back into something. “I don’t think it is.”
“And the damage humans have done to the environment? It might be time to hit the reset button on that.”
“You’re talking the way you think you have to. You’re supposed to be a bad guy. And I know you aren’t, not really.”
He laughed. “It’s my job. You don’t understand that yet, but you will. Sooner or later the All-Father and fate will make a nice little hole for you to fit into.”
“I know.” I didn’t mention my other suspicion, that that hole would come with a pre-chosen husband. He surely knew that. “But in the mean time, I…” A pause. “I’m not just doing this because he asked me to. I’m doing this because I actually like people. Some of them, anyway.”
“So do I.”
“Especially people who make cayenne brownies?”
He didn’t deny it.