Authors Note:

All of the science in the following text is accurate, with some creative liberties. The Geology of the Pacific Northwest is unique in itself, and the descriptions of the places in Seattle are accurate as well

I suggest the book: A Crack at the Edge of The world by Simon Winchester, as it is a great book about the seismic history of the world.

Yellowstone is an active Super Volcano, and there is evidence that it has erupted in the past. The USGS labels an eruption an Extinction Level Event.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone at the time of writing this book is in a Slow Slip Event, but has not ruptured on the fault line. Lets hope it stays that way.

Cloud Atlas is an excellent book written by David Mitchell, and I highly recommend the book as an interesting source of insight into the human condition. The book has a poetry to the writing style, and is not an easy read.

The Martian is hilarious, if you have not read it, you are a fool.

I speak and read Latin. The language is used accurately.

This book is for my son, who told me that I should make up more stories to tell him when I get bored.

Prologue:

The night was cold, and the stars even colder in the October sky above her as she sat in the leaves. Halloween candy strewn in the dead leaves around her as she looked down at her torn pink princess costume and the flames from the engulfed car spread out, unchecked from the wreck she had been ejected from. The flames fascinated the violet eyed child, and she watched as they danced across the burning vehicle, her mind lost in the echoes of screams that haunted the night.

The screams eventually stopped, her father was the only occupant left in the car after she had been thrown free. She looked away from the spectacle in front of her, eyes searching the leaves and she found a wrapped Snickers in the brush. She reached out and picked up and unwrapped the candy bringing it up to her mouth and chewing slowly. The cold mist that settled over the grass seeped into her clothes and soon the rain came to put the fire out, but it was not really rain.

Strobe blue and red flashes illuminated the trees around her as she sat where she was, like a frightened animal, she ducked around a tree and hid behind it shaking from the screaming sirens and men who walked back and forth in the darkness. Soon a flashlight beam found her and she started shaking against the tree she used for shelter, the small girl lost in the woods, now found by the monsters. She picked up a lollipop and unwrapped it as she sat there and put it into her mouth, the primitive part of her mind giving up and accepting her fate.

"I found a girl! A child!" The cop with the light called out and he ran over to her as firemen turned their attention away from the burning wreck, she looked into the green eyes of the red haired cop and waved a small hand up to him.

A heavy blanket was wrapped around her, and she felt herself being lifted and put in an ambulance where the cop and three other men stared at her. She looked up at them and said nothing, crawling back into her young mind and burying her small frame under the blanket for the illusion of security.

"What is your name sweetie?" The paramedic asked her and tried to take the candy from her. The girl lashed out and slapped at the hands violently, wrapping her little hand around the stick of the lollipop and she growled at the man. She glared up at them, and dared them to advance again. It was her candy, and she worked for it, walking door to door and holding her pumpkin bucket up proudly.

"Let her keep it man, she has been through a lot." The other paramedic said and another cop walked to the back of the ambulance and looked in at the small child, he smiled at her trying to look friendly, but she shivered and pulled the blanket up over her nose. She sat and endured a cut on the back of her hand being cleaned and bandaged, but never said a word or whimpered in pain, her eyes followed everything that was done carefully though.

"One male in the car, she must have been thrown from the vehicle on impact. She got a name?" The cop asked, and everyone around her shook their heads, the excitement of finding the surviving child in the middle of a horrific scene wearing off.

"What is your name pretty princess?" The paramedic said and she looked down and tried to hide again in the blanket, her shyness coming out full force and she looked over at the cop again.

"She is not talking, banged up and in shock probably. We will have to run prints, plates, and everything else to get a positive I.D on her and the victim." The cop sitting in the ambulance said as the paramedic tried to get her to lay down on the gurney, but she refused and pushed back against a cabinet and refused to come out or even move toward the men. A hand came out and tried to coax her to lay down, but she stayed sitting and glared at everyone.

"She must have been there and seen everything." The paramedic said and she looked out the door as the cop on the road made a noise to indicate how wrong this conversation was in front of her, her eyes trailed up and she saw two men standing near a police car. A blonde man and a black haired man and she waved at both of them shyly from the confines of her blanket. The cop looked over his shoulder to see who she was waving to, but the men had vanished before he could turn. She eventually let the paramedic lay her down and she closed her eyes and let her self drift away to sleep ad the ambulance drove into the night toward the nearest hospital.

XXXXXXXXXXX

"Creepy damn kid, never says anything." The nurse said as she finished changing the saline bag that hung above her head as the girl watched, her thoughts a mystery and she hugged a stuffed cat another nurse had found in the gift shop close to her. The woman unnerved by the pale girl in the bed those dark eyes following everything she did and the way she never made a sound as anyone examined her, the gray haired nurse had never encountered a child patient who made her so uncomfortable and she hurried along with her task before the doctor stopped her.

"She may be in shock, but she can still hear you, she is still in there ultimately. I know you are busy, but there is an officer who needs to ask her some questions, would you mind sitting and observing? A woman in the room with a vulnerable child such as this would be a great help." The doctor said, and looked at down at the child on the bed, smiling at her kindly. The girl waved a hand up at her, and he produced a taffy from his pocket and put it in the girls slender hand. She snuck it up to her mouth and chewed on it keeping the toy cat close.

"Lilliana. Such a pretty name for a very pretty little girl. Do you know where you are?" He asked her as the nurse watched both the girl and the doctor, the child's eyes scanned the room and the nurse shuddered as the girls eyes found hers.

"In a hospital." Lilliana answered in a soft voice that sounded alien coming from the girl, the doctor smiled and took a candy out of his pocket and gave it to her, beaming in pride at the effort the girl made to speak.

"Very good," The doctor said and he smiled at her. "You have a pretty voice too little lady, now there is a Police Officer here to see you, he will have to ask some very hard questions of you, if you get tired you just tell me then we can stop and let you rest."

The doctor waited patiently for her to respond and she nodded her understanding and the nurse opened the door to let a brown haired police man into the room he smiled politely at Lilliana, and walked forward to sit down on a chair next to the bed, and she looked at him with a bit of fear.

"Dose the uniform scare you? My kids say it makes me look tough and mean." The cop said and she shook her head no, she opened her hand and put the soft taffy in her mouth and chewed, she watched as the officer studied her for a moment and she saw that the man was not here to be cruel at all. Her body language relaxed a bit, and she stretched her feet out in front of her under the blanket setting the toy in her lap.

"That is a nice friend you have there, does he have a name?" The police man said and pointed at the toy cat as she watched the tree adults in the room. She held up the gray striped cat with the orange ribbon tied around it's neck to show the officer and he smiled at it, appreciating that the girl trusted him to share her toy.

"I don't name my toys. They are not real." She said in a surprisingly mature manner, and the doctor jerked his head back a bit to indicate his surprise.

"Well, your little friend looks a lot like my cat, his name is Pete. Think we can call him that?" The officer said, not being condescending, but just making casual conversation to build trust from the little girl. The girl nodded and hugged the toy close to her, her eyes scanning the room again a lost expression forming on her face as she looked around.

"How old are you Lilliana?" The officer asked her politely and she held up five fingers to tell him her age, she looked seriously at the man who spoke and slowly opened her hand toward the doctor to indicate her desire for another taffy.

"I am glad I filled my pocket with these at the Nurse's Station, you may empty my pocket by the end of this visit." The doctor said and placed a candy into her palm, and the girl put it into her mouth and began chewing on the treat.

"You have the prettiest eyes Lilliana," the officer said and she looked up at him. "Someday men are going to throw themselves at you just to get you to smile."

"I don't like my eyes." She replied and looked down at her blanket and tried not to cry. The nurse shifted in her chair and she fought back the urge to not look up when she heard the woman cough to cover a laugh. Her eyes got her picked on by the other kids in her school, and her long, black hair made them call her even worse names. She wanted to look like the cop or the doctor instead of the girl she was, and she sighed as she pulled the blanket up over her.

"Well, I am the authority on how people look, and you look like a nice and honest girl who will be very brave and answer all my questions. Think you can do that for me?" The officer asked and took a notepad out of his pocket, opening it and setting it on his bed as he pushed the button on a pen to begin taking notes.

"Can you tell me who the man in the car was?" He asked and she shook as the cop reached forward from his seat and patted her foot through the blanket, she curled her legs back up toward her and regarded him with vague annoyance.

"Was he your daddy?" He asked, pressing gently and she frowned, her little hands clutching the stuffed cat and tears filling her eyes.

"Yes." She said and the doctor gave her another candy.

"Good girl. You are so strong and brave, can you answer more questions?" The cop asked and she nodded at him, the toy cat pressing into her chest as she looked around again. She pulled the blanket up to her chin and hid her mouth under the blanket as she chewed the piece of taffy, her eyes visible over the hem.

"Why did your daddy crash the car sweetie?" The cop said and she shivered visibly. "Take your time, I am actually paid by the hour, so this is actually a nice break from the harder work I do."

He waited and the girl moved around, crawling to the end of the bed and sitting back on her knees in the pink hospital gown as she studied his silver badge pinned to his shirt, her eyes trailing over the numbers embossed on the piece of metal that showed his position of authority.

"Your police badge says 'Detective', in the movies Detectives wear different clothes. Normal clothes, why are you wearing a uniform like a regular police officer." He jerked back at her observation and smiled openly and chuckled at the girl as she frowned at him.

"You are a very bright little girl." The cop said to her and smiled proudly at her. "I like to wear the uniform because it is what I started from the bottom in, and other officers are more likely to talk to me if they see me as an equal."

"Does it work?" She asked him and the doctor and nurse both looked at the girl in shock.

"Yes it does, and people like to talk to me, they say it is because I am so darn nice." He replied and looked at the serious girl sitting in front of him, easing back in his chair as he made another note on the pad. Lilliana took in a breath and sighed, and thought about what to say next, sizing up the cop and deciding if she could trust the man.

"He went into a bar after we went trick or treating, he had beer and he fell asleep." Lilliana replied and swallowed the candy she was sucking on instead of chewing, the doctor looked at her and she put out her hand for another taffy keeping her eyes on the cop and was rewarded with the sweet treat. The nurse looked at her disgusted and she stuck her tongue out at the woman in open defiance of the woman, the cop chuckled at the act and she put the candy in her mouth.

"Did he say anything to you before the accident that made you unbuckle you seat belt. Did he yell at you or say something mean, like he wanted you to die?" The cop asked, and Lilliana shivered, remembering taking off her seat belt to try to steady the car when her father passed out. She shook her head to indicate no, and the cop sighed and sat back.

"Did you unhook your seat belt?" He asked her, looking at her seriously and tapping his pen on the notepad as he finished taking notes.

"Am I going to go to jail?" Lilliana asked and the Cop smiled at her and sighed.

"No sweetie, you are not going to jail. We are just trying to figure out what happened out there in the woods." The cop said and she shifted on her haunches, slipping her skinny legs out from under her to sit properly on the bed crossing her legs, and she rested her arms on her knees cocking her head to the side and thinking.

"I'm scared." She said in a little voice all the maturity of the last few moment slipping away to reveal the vulnerable child that she truly was, the cop tilted his head and smiled at her gently.

"I know sweetie, I know. No one is going to hurt you here, and soon someone is going to pick you up and take you home. Do you have a mommy that can come get you?" The cop asked, and Lilliana looked down at the blanket.

"Dead." She said tersely, and the word echoed around the room like a gunshot.

"A granny?" The cop asked, and she shook her head to indicate no.

"All alone." Lilliana replied and put her hand out for another candy, and the doctor gave her another one and she put it in her mouth and chewed, the cop looked at her sadly and the doctor placed a hand on her thin shoulder in comfort.

"I will notify Child Protective Services." The nurse said and she left the room quickly, relieved to be away from the creepy and strange girl and let the door close loudly as she hurried out of the room.

"I tried to turn the car so we would not get hurt." The girl said and she whimpered again, pulling the blanket over her and the two men saw her fighting tears.

"Is that why you took off your seatbelt?" The cop asked, and she nodded and looked into the blanket as she pulled it over her head. The cop patted her foot again and she looked up at him scared, pulling her face free from the cloth and shaking.

"You tried to help sweetie, it is O.K." He said and she put her hand out for another candy, and a taffy was placed in her hand as she slipped it into her mouth, shewing her reward and looking at the two men.

"I made a bigger mess." She said and the doctor looked down at her as she scooted back against the pillow on the bed and the doctor covered her with the blanket, tucking the stuffed cat in next to her.

"Sometimes it just works out that way sweetie, but you still tried." The cop said as the doctor finished tucking the girl in, a yawn causing her to open her mouth to open wide as she looked up at the two men.

The cop stood up and looked down at the girl, and dug something out of his pocket before leaving. He placed it in her open hand, and she saw the garnet and gold ring her mother had given her father sparkling in her pale palm.

"I thought you should have this, something from your daddy. I cleaned it up for you, and made sure it sparkled for you." He said and looked down at her, smiling as she turned the ring over in her fingers.

"You are such a brave girl Lilliana. Be good for everyone, and someday you will change everything." The cop said and left the room with the doctor.

She sat quietly looking at the ring in the dimmed light and slipped it onto her thumb quietly, watching the stone in the center of the heavy band sparkle as it stood out from her pale finger. A thousand memories of seeing that ring on her father flooded back, none of them good and she turned onto her side to look out the window and into the night beyond the hospital, seeing her own reflection looking back at her against the empty black sky.

XXXXXXXXX

The next day, she was given a pinafore dress from the charity bin the Catholic Church ran in the hospital for the people who had come in with nothing but the clothes on their backs, a thin coat, and buckled shoes as a woman carrying a heavy set of folders waited for her to appear in the hall. She stepped quietly out into the hall after the nice morning nurse finished combing and braiding her hair , she was lead down the corridors, and out into the lobby as the woman took her hand. She pulled her hand back, hugging the toy cat close to her and kept her face pointed down at the tile floor.

Her father would be buried in a few days, the woman who walked with her told her, she would be driven to the funeral by another person. His colleagues at work notified of his sudden passing were putting together a collection to pay for the expenses, but it would never be enough. His cremated remains would end up in a drawer in an office with the county, collecting dust and being forgotten, eventually they would be disposed of when the space was needed for another John Doe. The ashes scattered over the ocean, and carried away on the wind, forgotten and lost to time.

"Why do I get the weird kids?" The woman lamented as she looked at Lilliana, her partner taking her to a car and stopping to shuffle her load around as she unlocked the back door.

"How the hell did her parents even come up with her name? Lilliana Rose Hawthorne? Did they just randomly open botany books and point at plants?" the red haired partner said and she laughed as the girl climbed into the back seat and sat patiently, looking up at the adults for guidance.

"Damn hippies, I picked up a kid last week named Cloud. This is probably the most normal name I have seen in a few months. All of them on drugs, and strung out. They get high and fuck, making more kids that they can't take care of, my workload just keeps growing" The brown haired woman said as she got into the car quietly and looked out the side window toward the hospital. Lilliana sat quietly, eyes barely able to see over the door, and she watched the other woman get in the car and they started leaving the turnaround in front of the lobby.

"Get this, she was born on Halloween. This kid is going to get eaten alive in the system by the other kids." The redhead said flipping through her file and looked back at her.

"We better be careful what we say, this kid is quiet, but she can still get us in trouble."

"She probably does not even care what we say; her eyes are freaky as hell too." The brunette woman said and the red haired woman opened her purse as Lilliana watched; they left the parking lot, and drove toward the freeway paper streamers on a parked car along the street the only indication of the numerous Halloween pranks that had taken place the night before. Fading paper pumpkins blew across the street, and would soon be collected and thrown carelessly away. Cast aside just like the pale, dark haired child in the back of the car that headed toward Seattle and an unsure future in a system that just worked to spit out the children that came into their care like throwaway commodities.

A life that would one day be less than ordinary.

Chapter 1.

Is there some law that requires Seattle Radio Stations to play Nirvana or freaking Pearl Jam once an hour? If there is, I want the person who wrote said law shot.

Seriously, just shoot them.

Shoot them and cremate them, cast the ashes over running water to be sure that the person stays dead.

As much as I love Seattle, and Earth, it never really was my home, and sadly, my last day on Earth was started with Pearl Jam. I want to say I left the planet peacefully, but, yeah…..it didn't exactly happen that way.

What can I say, I'm a pain in the ass at times.

Jeremy spoke in…spoke in class….today…Some part of my brain dreamed of fire that night, screams, and pleas. Try to erase this…..try to…..from the blackboard….

Dad…..no.

NO!

My eyes snapped open, and I woke up in the crappy motel off the I-5 Freeway, peeling paint, and cracked drywall, the unmistakable smell of mold growing in the walls somewhere. Seattle was in a constant state of decay, all you had to do was look for it. Eeven people less jaded than me saw it, and it was everywhere you looked. If you lived here long enough, the decay eventually became background noise among the Starbucks Coffee outlets, sinking into your psyche as you added it to the constant din in the back of your mind, an itch in your primitive brain that you could ignore. They tried updating the buildings, tearing down the old, putting up the new. But it would always be there, cracks in the concrete foundations of civilization that refused to fully crumble.

Shaking the fog from my brain, I managed to find the cheap alarm clock on the table next to me; however it may or may not have taken me another five or so minutes of fumbling to cut off the chorus of Jeremy and Eddie Vedder's annoying voice. I glanced at the time and the numbers flashed 11:13 unmercifully. A little later than I wanted to wake up, but it was acceptable when you work making deliveries at the beck and call for a Russian Drug boss.

You could almost write your own hours...almost.

"I hate that fucking song." I mumbled into the pillow and tried to find sleep again, if my dad in the five short years I had him taught me anything, it was to appreciate the underdog musicians. Hell, Jimi Hendrix was from Seattle, and he was infinitely better than most modern crap on the radio. Play him more. My desire for more sleep was torn away from me by the jangling of the burner cell that sat on the table next to my Samsung Galaxy and the alarm clock, I opened my eyes and pushed up from the bed to grab the phone and groaned a bit as I rolled onto my back, debating weather or not to answer the phone.

Burners were always those prepaid flip phones, and used in my line of work to make one call only. When their purpose was done, they were destroyed. If the cops caught up to you, the phone was destroyed. It made me silently wonder what would happen to me if my usefulness ever ran out.

"Raven." I groaned in to the phone and was greeted by the always gregarious voice of Dave. Five years and I still wondered if that was his real name.

"I need you for a Delivery." He rasped out, a mild Russian accent lacing his words. "Be at pickup point in forty minutes." The call ended, he was always such a chatterbox, and it drove me crazy at times.

"Yeah Dave, lovely as always to hear from you too, be there in twenty you smooth talker you. No don't gush over me sweetie, it embarrasses me." I rolled over, and swung my legs off the bed. Standing took a bit more effort, but after testing my balance I slowly began gathering up my clothes and even more slowly started becoming human again. I swayed a bit and tripped over an empty Jack Daniels bottle cussing as I rubbed my injured toe, kicking the bottle and yelping at the pain.

I found my panties on the floor under a towel, and my skirt was draped over the doorknob for some reason I could not figure out,slowly the night before came back to me. A couple beers, hand washing my clothes and hanging them up, and a bottle of vodka, followed by a Jack and Coke bender. I was willing to bet that at nineteen, I had the liver of an eighty year old sailor and kidneys that were getting ready to give up.

On the stand next to the television, was a bottle of water, and I smiled openly at it. Drunk me was not entirely an asshole to sober me, but it still could be a trick. I cracked the bottle, and drained it in a few long gulps, scratching at the eight pointed start birthmark on my neck under my left ear. I stretched my long fingers over my head and tossed the bottle aside, looking in the mirror I took in my too thin frame. Waist length Black hair, yes it was natural, and skin that was pale and smooth. Sadly, I refused to tan, even in the hot, sunny summers that gripped the Seattle area during that time of year, and it gave me an unnatural yet ethereal quality. My dad told me I inherited my heart shaped face from my Mom, and I got her full lips and hair. I had to wonder if it was my Dads side that had the full breasts, and the inability to tan enough to look healthy. I know my deep violet eyes came from him and I hated having them. I wished I had gotten his red curly hair instead of the eyes, my mothers deep brown eyes would have gone over better, but Nature is a cruel bitch so I was cursed to look like a vampire and have people feel uncomfortable around me when they looked at me.

It did amaze me that my face held a softness that was not helped by being five foot nothing. It made it hard for people to take me seriously or make me seem intimidating, and drove me nuts when people laughed at me for being that "cute little Goth Chick." They didn't know me from anyone else, and I could fight my way out of any situation that I needed to.

I willed myself to the shower, and dressed quickly. I had to see a man about a delivery.

XXXXXXXXXXX

Within ten minutes of my short shower, I left the crappy Motel, all my stuff on my back in a black backpack I carried everywhere and boarded the Metro Bus that would take me from the University District to Freemont. A short five minute ride, but it was a cloudy day before Halloween, and I didn't like the idea of getting stuck in the rain if it came. Carrying a bag full of drugs across town sucked enough without the weather working against you year round.

From the bus stop, I walked up to the Halfway House for kids that were deemed unacceptable for family life, and was immediately greeted by my favorite person in the whole world. Teeney.

Her real name was Christina Hayes, but I called her Teeney from day one. And she was the only person I trusted most in the world.

Her whole face lit up when she saw me, and she giggled and ran over squealing and clapping her hands as I unlatched the gate that kept the riffraff out and the girls and boys in. Her hazel eyes sparkling at me as she threw her chubby arms around me nearly knocking me back into the gate.

"Li Li!" she squeaked out and I had to gently unwrap her arms from my waist. I must have looked ridiculous, a Goth chick in knee high buckled boots, one fishnet thigh high, and one black and purple thigh high, leather biker jacket, black lace ruffled skirt, and purple corset being bear hugged by and four foot five girl with Downs Syndrome. Her pink hoodie, and light blue jeans a stark contrast to my own style, but deep down, I loved this girl. I didn't give two fucks if someone stared at us as we walked along, she was my best friend, and I would kick anyone to shit and back if they made fun of her.

Teeney was the closest thing I ever had as family, and I was not going to loose her ever, and I would keep fighting to see her every Friday on schedule, always. Plus, she was great cover for me when I went out on deliveries for Dave, not that I couldn't do it by myself, but she made the work more bearable sometimes.

"Hey Teeney, can I have some oxygen?" I asked, smoothing her mouse brown hair out of her face and tying it back with a green hair tie from my jacket pocket.

"Can we get Mo Mo's?" She asked happily as I finished tying her hair up. The reference was to Molly Moon's Ice Cream, and she loved it! Sometimes she would ask to go to the bead store, other times she wanted to see a movie, but her absolute favorite was Molly Moon's. I gave her a half smile as she bounced excitedly on the balls of her feet, waiting for my answer impatiently.

"We sure can, any flavor you want. I do have to work today though Teeney. You can come along, but I need you to calm down a bit." She continued bouncing as I saw Steve the cool caretaker over the top of her head opening the door to the house, and I waved at him.

"Yes! Any flavor!" She said and made a conscious effort to stop bouncing, her face pinching up with the effort. Steve mouthed a "Hello" to me, and I mimicked a phone to my ear. Teeney in the meantime had unzipped her hoodie to show me her new sweatshirt, and emblazoned across her chubby stomach was the shield of her favorite Meta Human and agent of SHIELD. Captain America.

I may have been her favorite person, but he was her girlish crush. Ever since that day in New York when she saw him fighting with Tony Stark, and some other people whose name I could never remember, she developed and maintained the biggest crush on him. Those of us who understood, knew nothing would be the same ever again on our little blue planet, aliens poured through a hole in the sky, and we stopped being alone in the universe. It was as if some asshole picked up all of us, and forced our eyes wide open, and refused to let us close them again. SHIELD was made public, and then they were dissolved by the Government after some conflict but there were still whispers on the internet they still operated, people saying how they saw SHIELD here or there anything something weird popped up.

However, Teeney remained a staunch follower of good old Captain America.

I on the other hand, secretly wished for the day that the only assholes who hated us were other humans, not assholes from another planet or from even another state of being.

"It looks great Teeney, I'm sure Captain America would be proud to have you as his biggest fan." I smiled at her fully, and pretended to care because I didn't want to hurt her feelings and her face lit up in the biggest smile ever.

"He is so handsome," She said mimicking a stance of a Disney Princess, and grinning. I couldn't help at that point at laugh, not at how silly she was, but at how innocent she was. I felt a pang of jealously that she was sheltered so well, and would never fully know how fucked up the world in whole really was.

I checked my phone for the time before calling the House as we walked. Steve answered.

"Hey Lilly, how's it going?" He asked, calling me by the only other nickname I would tolerate, Raven being my Street Name.

'Good man, I'm going to take Teeney out for a bit, but I will have her back one way or another by dark." I said back. He was used to my way of life but never knew what I really did, and sometimes I got her home myself, other times it was a Taxi who brought her back. Either way, he always let me take her out for an afternoon here and there with minimal argument. However, if her knew I was running drugs, I would probably be banned for life from The House and a thirty mile radius of it.

"Cool. Don't give her any more coffee though." He said. "Happy Birthday."

"Its tomorrow man," I said, and softened myself a bit. "But thanks. I got to take this girl shopping now" I said before ending the call and shoving the phone back into my pocket.

Steve would never have said no anyways, he knew how close we both were, and he knew that I would never allow anything to happen to her. We had a secret bond from the first day we both arrived at the house, and she brought me somewhat out of my shell in the end. Not that she ever got fully in, but she was allowed to get parts of me no one else did.

"So girlie," I said putting my hand on her back gently, and leading her to the gate. "I have to go see Dave first, but after we can get your Ice Cream." I knew she hated Dave and was somewhat aware of how I made money to survive, but how much she was aware, I was not sure. She was a bit slow, but I never really cared. All that mattered to me was that she was happy.

I remembered the first night in the house together as I opened the gate, and lead her along the sidewalk, her hand in mine as we both walked along.

We were both dropped off on the same day, she was six, and I was nine at the time. Two kids who could not be placed in Foster care for some luddite reason or another, and we were both placed there because of our apparent issues. The biggest reason for me was everywhere they placed me, I unnerved the parents and other children in the house. I was not trouble in fact they always said I was quiet and polite, just damn weird looking. Teeney had a bit of a hard time adjusting to new places, and she would cry whenever she was placed, and refused to eat.

The first night we spent in our room was rough, I remember trying to sleep, and her quiet demeanor melted away that night when the lights went out, we were left alone in the dark. She instantly became a mess of sobs and whimpers as we lay in the darkened room, hiding from the shadows that danced over the walls under her blankets.

"Are you scared?" I asked the lump in the bed next to me, her faint outline seen by the window light, yet barely visible to me. She nodded and said nothing, but the sobs continued.

"Don't be, I can sleep next to you if you want. Just for tonight." I said to her, and instead of a verbal answer I heard her shuffle across her bed to lay against the wall in the darkness. I got out of my bed and slipped into hers, she immediately seemed to relax as I used my bare hand to wipe her face, clearing away the tears and calming her.

"Don't let the monsters get you." She whispered through sobs and hiccups. As I pulled the sheets up to my chin, I smiled and put my hand on her shoulder.

"Monsters are afraid of me," I said to her.

"How do you know?" She asked me, calming down a bit.

"Because of my eyes, they are magic, and when I look at a monster they die immediately."

"I like your eyes," she said to me, it was the first time anyone said anything positive about the way I looked my whole life, some people may have complimented me but I think they were being polite. This time it seemed different, this girl was honest and she said what she felt.

"What's your name?" She asked me.

"Lilliana Rose."

"Li Li." She replied to me yawning. The scent of baby powder coming from her calming me as well, lulling me to sleep.

"Close Enough Teeney." I smiled in the darkness to finally have a friend, and let myself drift off to sleep with her.

She kept her sweet innocence as we both grew up in that house. I lost mine, learning how to fight and survive, finding myself becoming hard shelled and building The Great Wall of China around myself in the process. For good measure I hung a sign on the door that said "Fuck off" to ensure that no one ever got beyond the locked door. When I turned eighteen, I was forced out of the house, Teeney cried and I promised to visit her often. So far, I had managed to keep my promise, and was always there for my secret sister. Her smiles always managed to make cracks in my wall, and her fingers found many ways in where others failed. She grounded me, and found ways to make me smile when I didn't think I could smile.

She was the only person in all of creation allowed inside my wall, and I still hid so much from her.

By the time I did leave the House, I wasn't at all unable to make a living. I was doing deliveries for Dave, and I had some money saved that I hid at the bottom of my bag. I always had an itch that I was going to get caught one day, but being short, and invisible my entire life made me good at flying under the radar. I never went overly out of my way to draw attention to myself, and the way I dressed ensured that people would go out of their way to ignore me altogether. I was gifted at disappearing in front of people, and I held on to my talent like it was all I had left in the world.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

We met Dave in the alley above the Bead Shop on Stone Way, his slick, white Mercedes idling as the tinted windows inched down. He passed me the card with the address where I was supposed to make the drop, and waited gauging my reaction. I plugged the address into the Galaxy, and it popped up as being in SoDo. At least it wasn't in Tukwila or Sea Tac, I had to walk all the way back to Seattle once form Sea Tac, and it sucked. My feet still ached into my knees just thinking about it.

I accepted the job and saved the address card in my jacket pocket, looking around to make sure we were not being watched as I talked to him. Dave then passed me a new Burner Phone through the window, and I put the old one under the front tire of his car so it could be destroyed.

Teeney's eyes widened as I checked the gun that Dave gave me, it was loaded, and I racked the slide back jacking in the first round. Ensuring that it was ready should I need it, and I hoped I never did. I clicked the safety on and slipped the cold steel down the back of my skirt, near the base of my spine. It was a reassuring pressure that lay at my back, and it gave me confidence I could take on the world if I needed to. The new Burner had one number programmed into it, and I would call it when I made the delivery and got payment for the package. He would then give me a drop off point where I would meet him for the final task in my job and this phone would be destroyed the same way the old one was about to be as well. He would pay me, give me another Burner phone, and I would be done for the day.

"You look strung out Raven." His accent irritating me more than normal and he was right. I couldn't shake the tickle of bugs crawling on my skin today. It was like tiny bites all over and I itched like crazy, I chalked it up to my drinking last night, and I tried to ignore the way he licked his lips when he looked at me.

"I have clients who like girls like you. Maybe you consider a new job for me." Fire raged through my veins then. I wanted to grab his hair and slam his face into the steering wheel, but I held back.

"Well Dave, we both know you don't pay me enough to support a drug habit. So, the only excuse for my looking strung out is I slept like shit last night." I responded while making air quotes around "Strung out". I fished my sunglasses out of my other jacket pocket as I talked, trying to put up a tough front. And he handed me the black messenger bag which held two pounds of Black Tar Heroin, grunting as I put the strap over my head and the bag under my arm. My backpack was burden enough, but this damn bag was the cake. It was the knowledge of what was in it that made it weigh more, and if anything happened to it Dave was not above doing something extremely horrible to me. I have seen the results of failure firsthand, I fought back the urge to shiver as he watched me.

'Your friend then? I give her work." I nearly lost my shit when he said those words, that alone nearly sent me into full rage, one so bad that I would have ripped him apart with my bare hands just for thinking it. He laughed, and looked at me as if it were the funniest thing in the world.

"I kid you Raven, calm down." He laughed. And my fists relaxed slightly.

"Fuck you Dave." I retorted, not breaking eye contact the mirrored lenses of the aviator style glasses reflecting him back.

"You are pretty when you are angry girl." He said and pulled away crushing the Burner, and I imagined it being his head not the cell phone being crushed.

I snaked my fingers around Teeney's chubby wrist, and we both walked up the alley toward 45th, every part of my being wanting to scream as I moved. I kicked a glass bottle as hard as I could against the brick back wall of the building and reveled in the satisfaction that is shattered when it hit the wall, I shook with anger and focused straight ahead.

"Fucking prick." I growled and Teeney followed me.

Dave was the type of person who talked shit to push your buttons so he could look tough while his goons pounded you into dog meat, but one of these days, I was going to catch him without his goons and it was going to be an ugly day for him. He wouldn't, be so tough then, I would be standing over him as he picked up all those teeth out of a curb somewhere.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Standing in the Parking lot of the Bead store, two men regarded the exchange between the two girls and the man in the car. It was a strange ritual to them, and as they didn't understand what it was fully, the continued to observe.

Thor took in the weapon she was handed deftly and with skill, using the knowledge from his observations to see that she was a bit more dangerous than previously thought. He assumed quietly that she would return the weapon later, but was not sure. He was not about to approach her while she was with her shorter, more vulnerable companion though.

Loki watched her with detached interest, he knew that this was going to be an interesting task from the beginning. But she was still helpless, and would possibly be a source of amusement when they did confront her. He wondered if she would stand in awe of them both or if she would just cry and beg to be let go. His eyes scanning her clothing and feeling disgusted by it, he wondered if she could even be what everyone believed her to be.

'Interesting" He muttered to himself and picked at his wool coat sleeve patiently, his eyes cast down in boredom.

The girls began walking along, and he chuckled to himself as she kicked the bottle angrily, filing away in his mind that she did have a bit of a temper for use later.

Together, they both walked along the sidewalk, keeping some distance from the girls Loki, squinting at the patch on the bag on her back that said Nine Inch Nails and the twin half moons that said A Perfect Circle. He wondered why it said that; there was no circle at all in the design.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Guess what Joey told me about Captain America." Teeney said, making the tension between my shoulders melt away a bit as we walked.

"What did Joey tell you?"

"He told me that Captain America's real name is Steve like the cook at the House." Se said and giggled. 'Is that true?"

"Well," I smiled, and reached into my pocket for my cell. "I can use my Google-Fu powers to fact check Joey and tell you in a moment." And began tapping at the screen with my thumbs, black fingernails flying as I entered my query. At the end of the alley, we turned right to continue along Stone Way to 45th.

"I wish he would come to Seattle. I want him to visit us." She sighed at me. "I bet he is so tall."

"Joey is right," I said, intent on my search and smiling at Teeney while handing her my phone. "His name is Steve Rodgers, and looked up in time to nearly miss the blond brick wall of a man as we were reaching Stone Way, and I let my anger come back with extra venom.

"Watch where you are going dickwad!" I hissed at him, glaring at him in open defiance. I was daring him to do something, my hand reaching under the back of my coat my fingertips brushing the gun.

"That's right bitch, you almost knocked my girl over." I added as an after thought, trying to provoke a fight.

My mood was already shitty thanks to Dave, but this was taking the cake. Teeney took my hand, and pulled at it gently to move me along. I put my hand up on her shoulder, and we turned north, allowing her to lead me away.

"I believe we have love at first sight." His Twilight looking friend with the black hair said sardonically, instinctively I gave him the finger over my shoulder and turned as I walked to add a second middle finger. I let Teeney lead me toward Molly Moons, and she handed me back the phone as I took a few breaths to calm back down. I shoved it into my pocket and kept moving.

"No bad words Li Li." She scolded me, I smiled despite my anger and couldn't help the laugh that came out suddenly.

"Alright Teeney," I sighed, regaining my composure. "No bad words, I promise. But before we get on the bus, I better keep my first promise to you."

"Mo Mo's!" She shrieked and clapped her hands happily. "Mo Mo's!"

"Yes Teeney, Mo Mo's." And with that, she grabbed my arm, and began pulling me down the street toward the Ice cream shop.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

By 2:30, we were on the bus and Teeney was happily eating her Ice Cream, swinging her feet in that childish way that I always appreciated and found endearing. I dug my mirror compact out of my bag and carefully checked my eyeliner in it, and then used the black pencil to carefully line my lips before reapplying a fresh coat of black lipstick. I noticed an old lady scowling at me, and I shot her a look that screamed "Mind your own business."

I freaking hated it when people stared.

I used my fingers to smooth my hair, and the old lady directed her attention somewhere else, making it her new found hobby to ignore me.

An itch in my birthmark made me turn my head, and I saw them both, the two men we nearly ran into along Stone Way. Everything about them now set off an air raid siren in my head that made me worry about Teeney in a million ways. The Blond Surfer was dressed casually, denim jacket, and a hoodie under it. His jeans were worn, and he wore a pair of heavy work boots, looking extremely out of place with his business like companion. His friend was the complete opposite of Surfer, his shoes were neatly polished, his tie straight, not even his shoulder length black hair was out of place, fucker reminded me of a vampire with his hair like that, combed back and falling down the back of his neck in waves. The duo was so mismatched in fact, they screamed "cops", and I had to fight every urge to bolt right then and there.

Instead, I shoved my makeup and mirror back into my bag, trying my best to look casual as I put my backpack back on and the messenger bag strap back across my chest. The only thing that made me look uneasy was the crawling sensation on my skin, and the bead of sweat trickling down my back as I sat there.

Teeney offered me a spoonful of her treat, and I opened my mouth to accept it, nodding a yes to her inquisitive look even though I hated the taste of pumpkin desserts. The light outside dimmed as we entered the bus tunnel under the Retail Core, and I glanced down at my phone quietly. I nudged Teeney, and leaned over to her.

"Let's take the scenic route." I said and pretended to stretch moving and twisting my back, standing in the isle the old woman glaring up at me again, as the bus stopped at the first platform in the underground tunnel.

"Teeney, scenic route." I said again, and she was too engrossed in her treat to comprehend. I instead grabbed her arm, pulling her bodily out of the seat and ran off the bus onto the platform as fast as I could. Teeney eventually cooperated and followed me, her feet running along with mine. My moment of panic faded when we saw the two men sitting still on the bus, and found ourselves standing on the platform as two old men walked by, staring at my clothes as they walked.

"Li Li! I almost dropped my Ice cream!" She scolded me again and I turned on her and pinned her with a look that told her that now was not the time. Se began studying her feet and I collapsed onto a bench against the wall, attempting to keep the rabbit that was beating against my rib cage from escaping.

In my head I cursed at myself, and beat myself up for bringing Teeney this far. I had two pounds of Black Tar Heroin in the bag, an unregistered firearm under my jacket, and a joint in my jacket pocket. The joint may be legal in Washington State, but everything else would land Teeney and I into a shit ton of trouble. I called myself an idiot for putting Teeney at risk again, and leaned against the wall, the cold steel of the gun at the small of my back digging into my spine painfully, and I pushed it away. Resting my hand on the messenger bag, I decided it was time to send Teeney back home, and finish work alone.

Teeney tossed her empty bowl and spoon into the trash and sat down on the bench next to me, she put her hand on top of mine, and looked directly at me.

"I'm not mad at you." I said, "My job can get me into trouble, big trouble, and I don't want you to get taken with me." I tried to explain not knowing for sure how much she would understand.

"Bad kind of medicine?" She said patting the bag, and I knew then she understood what I did for a living, and it tore a hole right through me.

I nearly cried seeing her sad expression, and wanted to ask her how much she understood of what I was doing but held back. I wanted to hug her too, and her fingers smoothed my hair and I just knew then she forgave me for being a criminal. I knew she understood that I had to survive. I put my other hand over hers, and sighed trying desperately not to cry.

"The worst kind of medicine Teeney." I choked out and closed my eyes.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXC

We exited the Bus Tunnel at Benaroya Hall, and I walked her over to the Taxi stands guiding her with a hand on her shoulder. It was 3:30 and I was sending her on back home, part of me felt like this was the last time I would ever see her, and she was just going to have to forgive me it that was true. I peeled off a couple of hundreds and handed them to her quickly, and she studied me for a moment. I still had $4,000 in the bottom of my bag, and would be getting another grand tonight.

"For your Captain America doll, I want you to get it next time you go to the store with the group." I said and she smiled back at me brightly. I took another hundred and extended it through the window of the Orange Cab toward the driver, he looked at me as if I were some rebellious rich girl as I recited the address to the House before handing him the money, she watched the exchange and then looked at me with her mouth open in shock.

"I could see your panties." She said, scolding me again. I pulled my skirt down in the back, and rolled my eyes slightly embarrassed that the entire street saw my black thong. I opened he back door to the cab and ushered her in quickly, using a pen from my pocket to write my cell on the back of her hand as I crouched down next to the open back seat.

"Call me when you get to the House, and write this number down somewhere safe. I am going to be busy for a while, and I may not get to come and see you until I am done." I said before closing the door, and hoping she believed my lie. I crouched slightly so my butt did not hang out again and addressed the driver.

'Don't stop, don't let her get you to stop, if she gets antsy, put on KISW. She likes the Men's Room, and it will calm her down. Fuck with my Sister, and I will cut your dick off and display it for fun."

"Bad words Li Li." She chided, and I opened the back door again, to kiss her cheek, leaving a black lip print there.

"You said I was your sister." She said, and beamed at me. I smiled back and the driver turned on the radio to play KISW for her, following my instructions and taking my threat somewhat seriously.

"You are my sister, better than blood, because I chose you." I said, and the man tried to hand me my change, I put my hand up and refused it, closing the door to the cab after buckling her seat belt carefully and stepped back from the car.

I watched as the cab pulled away and headed south on 3rd before turning up Union, not paying attention to anything else as I watched Teeney head home.

If I had paid attention, I would have seen Surfer and Twilight across the street, paying close attention to me as I watched my best and only friend at the time leave. Instead, I mentally reinforced my mental stone wall, I pulled my phone out of my pocket to put some music into my head to shut up the voices screaming what an epic loser I was. I put my ear buds in, and tapped Marilyn Manson and began walking. The faster I finished today, the better.

Maybe if I had seen them, I would have a normal life still.

And if pigs had wings...

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"She is rather irksome, isn't she?" Loki asked Thor casually bored with this mundane adventure, and he adjusted the collar of the bland coat to do something with his hands. He couldn't help but wonder what the hand gesture she gave them meant, and filed it away as well in the back of his mind to ask her later.

"Not now," Thor replied, obviously repressing a growl. "We have a task to accomplish, and I intend to not upset Father."

"He is not my Father." Loki reminded him, feeling irritated that so many insisted that the King of Asgard was his kin. "Yet, someone should teach her how to dress really, does she even look at herself?"

Loki couldn't fathom how she could even stand to have people stare at her as she walked, but was a bit surprised to see how others on the street went out of their way to ignore the girl. As if they couldn't be bothered to accept her existence at all, not that he felt that he should.

"Are we even sure if this is her Thor? She does not look any different than the other mortals, unless you count the obvious."

"She has the mark below her ear, just as Father described. Any more irritating questions?"

Loki ignored that Thor insisted on calling Odin "Father" and they continued to follow the girl along the street ignoring the panhandlers, and other people they passed as they walked.

"She does not look special to me, that is all." Loki replied coolly, his tongue licked his lower lip as they both stopped as she came to a pause to look down at that infernal device in her hand briefly and then hitched the bag back up onto her shoulders.

"Nice legs perhaps, but far from special."

"Judge not brother, she is powerful and has not yet realized it." Thor said and Loki rolled his eyes.

"With that said, how do you expect to ensnare the girl? I would so love to hear your plan." He teased the muscular brute, Odin had ordered that she was not to be harmed in any way, but the idea of tangling with this uncouth girl was amusing in his head.

"We shouldn't startle her, she has a weapon on her, and I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it. I have seen one used." Thor sighed, Loki becoming bemused as Thor allowed himself to look at her legs as they started walking again.

Slowly, a sheepish smile spread across Loki's face as he caught Thor looking at the curve of her hips as well. Suddenly a gust of wind blew the hem of her skirt up a bit too much, and they both averted their eyes as she adjusted the garment quickly. Loki watched as Thor colored slightly at the sight, and chuckled slightly at his embarrassed brother.

"Not a word Loki." Thor's baritone voice warned.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXCCC

It took me longer than I thought it would to make it through Pioneer Square thanks to all the tourists flocking to The Underground Tour for the annual Halloween Haunted Seattle Tour. They claimed to take you to the most haunted places in all of Seattle, but I always thought it was a bunch of hype. Tell someone that a place is haunted, eventually they will see ghosts. People, not places are the really haunted things on the planet.

I felt a great deal of relief as I turned the corner to the low rise apartment building where I could drop this bag and take on a much lighter load for the last leg of the trip the end of the work day in sight. I sighed knowing that if I did have a run in with the cops, that what I carried next had no implications except for suspicion and they couldn't hold you on suspicion.

"Fifteen Minutes." I told myself, and crouched down to check for the butterfly knife I kept inside the top of my right boot, I then slipped the gun out of the small of my back and thumbed the safety off as a just in case measure. I had done this delivery before, but I never left anything to chance or luck in the end. Being that stupid could get you hurt or worse, and I really did not want to spend Halloween in the morgue. I slipped the gun back into the waistband of my skirt smoothing the two studded belts that hung on my hips, and pulled the back of my jacket over it, the pressure of it being there reassured me. I then took a few deep breaths and walked info the foyer of the tenement, pushing the door open and heading into the gloom.

"Fucking hell." I said as I was greeted by the scent of urine and sweat in the small space, the smell was all over Seattle, but this was just bad. I fished the card with the info out of my pocket and pressed the button for the correct unit and waited for an answer. The Intercom button turned green, and no voice greeted me, but I knew what to do. They were waiting for me, and I steeled up my courage and leaned toward the speaker and announced it was the drop off.

Dealers were really paranoid in nature and thought every person who rang their bell was a cop, I understood their need for caution and did not judge them for it.

"It's Raven, I have a delivery." The green light winked out and I quickly moved toward the inner door as I heard an audible click of it unlocking. Inside the gloomy lobby, I got a sharp pain through my stomach but blew it off as me being hungry. Stress and hunger does weird stuff to your body at times, and today was stressful enough without me getting sick.

The tenement house was built a hundred years ago, and it showed every year of it, peeling paint and cracked plaster that filtered down in the diffused light of the warped windows, a lone bulb hung from an ancient electric cord in the ceiling that was probably no where near being up to code, and the elevator was forever out of order. It was amazing that the city did not condemn this place, but it was so far out from downtown no one would ever pay any attention to it. I glanced down at the card and sighed as I found the unit number was on the third floor.

Third floor and no elevator…joy.

I walked up to the third floor wondering what the pattern in the ancient, threadbare carpet on the floor once was when my personal cell rang nearly making me jump out of my skin. I checked the number and saw it was the number of the House, and smiled to myself. Teeney made it back, I swiped with my thumb knowing if I didn't answer she would just call again and in my line of business, I couldn't have that.

"Teeney?" I asked into the phone, and leaned against a wall, the plaster cracking a bit from my weight.

"Made it Li Li." She squeaked into the phone, and I sighed as that bit of stress left my shoulders, a prickling sensation at my birthmark made me scratch at it unconsciously as I listened to her ramble a bit about what they were going to have for dinner. I felt a bit bad when I had to cut her off and get off the phone, but I had to work and these guys were waiting on me.

"Good to hear Teeney, I really have to finish work now though. Get Steve to take you out for your doll soon." I tried my best to sound cheerful but my voice shook a bit and I had to take a breath.

"O.K. Li Li, be careful there." She squeaked.

"I promise." I said and quickly disconnected the call, shoving the phone back into my jacket pocket. I continued to climb up the stairs, and was greeted by a rat on the third floor who angrily snarled at me as I kicked at it, it squeezed its fat body under a door, and I walked down the hall to finish the delivery as someone in the unit screamed.

"Fifteen minutes, and than back out onto the street.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"I really don't see the fuss." He said as he crossed his arms over his chest in front of him and sighed. Loki was becoming weary of Thor and Midguard quickly, he wanted to get back to Asgard so he continue to ignore the world around him and finish out his punishment in solitude. He studied his nails casually as they both watched the girl disappear into the shadowy lobby of the building across the road, A Glamour concealed them both, making them appear as homeless persons so not to alert her as they had on the bus an hour before.

Loki gave a sidelong glance to his now unusually stoic brother, trying to judge Thor's thoughts from his demeanor, but Thor remained focused intently on the building.

"Has the Allfather gone soft because of you and your mortal?" Loki asked, and a look of annoyance crossed Thor's face as he watched. Surprisingly, Thor remained silent despite Loki's jab, and the stoicism returned to Thor as he took in a breath and released it.

"The Illendrial is the most powerful force in all of the Nine Realms. If she fell into the wrong hands, she could be manipulated and used as a weapon." Thor said, turning his head to look at Loki and took in another breath. "She could be used to lay waste to everything, including time itself. You know this well Brother, and I don't see why you refuse to believe this."

"Do you really believe that the Allfather wants to protect her then? She will be another weapon in the vault, caught and kept for him to use whenever the fancy takes him. Power corrupts Thor, I should know…..that girl is power, and I have the distinct feeling the Allfather will use her to gain more of it."

"Enough Loki…..enough." Thor sighed and rubbed his eyes tiredly. "Father explained his intentions clearly, the girl is to be protected and cared for until she is ready to be on her own. She has no knowledge of what she is, otherwise she would not be among other Mortals"

Loki watched the building silently, deciding he had poked at Thor enough and growing bored of seeing how far he could push him before he reached his boiling point. He tightened his jaw as his thoughts turned to his own past and pushed them away quickly, putting his attention to the setting sun and the hues of red and purple twilight taking over the sky. He became fascinated by silhouettes created by the forest of cranes along the waterfront used to unload cargo vessels in the port off in the distance, reaching up to the sky like skeletal hands wanting to crawl themselves out of the ground. The wind carried the incessant grinding sound of a ship docking, and he wanted to drown out the sound but it became relentless.

He could not understand this realm, not one of these pathetic creatures struck him as overly important, but they placed importance on one another. Their willingness to fight for their small world was impressive as well, but futile. He turned the image if the Illendrial protecting the obviously vulnerable mortal finding it somewhat endearing. Her black smeared mouth opening to accept the food that was offered, and the way she accepted the vulnerable mortal's chastisement about her vulgar language. Loki chuckled to himself, filing away the name she called Thor into the back of his mind for possible use later.

"Amused by something?" Thor asked, not trying at all to mask the annoyance in his voice.

"Oh, just thinking about that rather colorful name she called you." He replied coolly. "I like the poetry of it…..Dickwad….It rolls of the tongue really, Midguardian language and slang is always so crude, but that was pure poetry."

Thor's shoulders tightened beneath the denim jacket and Loki chuckled, making no effort to hide his amusement this time.

"I must applaud your restraint Thor; you did refrain from showing the girl how her insolence annoyed you." Loki glanced back at the doorway of the building as the girl emerged, one less bag but a new bulge under the leather jacket she wore.

"Our quarry emerges." He purred as she held another device to her ear. She spoke into it for less than a heartbeat and turned North, making her way to an unknown destination.

"I never play with fire brother." Thor said as they both resumed following her.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The drop off went better than smooth, and for that I was relieved immensely.

I handed the dealer the bag, he counted the money in front of me, and sealed it into a manila envelope. I watched as he put a line of tape and a stamp over the tape to prove I did not open it or attempt to steal any of the money. You would think that the drug dealer did not trust me, it was not like I was the dishonest one. I slipped the envelope into the false lining of my jacket, and was escorted to the door by a hairy knuckled thug who patted me on the top of my head.

On the street, I pulled the Burner out of my pocket and pressed send on the only number listed in the contacts.

"It done?" Dave asked.

"Yeah. Where do we meet?"

"Ferry Terminal, be there by seven."

"Which one?" I asked him, not hiding the exasperation in my voice.

"Bainbridge." And he ended the call, leaving me rolling my eyes, good god that guy could talk your ear off sometimes.

"Gee Dave, I'm fine, no the big scary goon didn't scare me. Thanks so much for the concern." I mumbled to myself as I pulled the gun and clicked the safety back on and racked the slide to eject the bullet from the chamber, I pulled the magazine and pushed the bullet back into it. There was no sense in having one at the ready if you didn't need it any more, from here on out it was smooth sailing.

Replacing the magazine in the pistol, I noticed two homeless people across the street watching me; I waved at them and shoved the gun back under my coat giving them the finger for good measure. Turning North on my heel, I headed for the terminal.

"I need a new job." I grumped at the wind as I walked, checking the time. I had well over an hour and a half before my day was over, and I was starving. My skin was becoming twitchy again too, fire ants crawling up it and trying to find a place to burrow into it. I managed to ignore the feeling and kept walking.

One by one, the pre programmed lights of Columbia Tower winked on ahead of me, and the globe of light at the top of Smith Tower began to wink on. The sky had taken on the purple of twilight, and the wind off of Puget Sound had become colder as the sun sank over the horizon. I reached into my pockets, and pulled out my black fingerless gloves, and cursed as the garnet thumb ring got snagged on the finger.

Dad's ring.

In a few hours, it would be my Birthday, and Halloween. And with any luck, I would be deep in a bottle trying to ignore the whole crappy day. Most people enjoy getting older, not me. It was the same day fifteen years ago, I became an orphan. The day my dad wrecked his car with me in it, and while I was thrown free and out of the car; he was left inside to burn. The cop who came to question me about the accident gave me the ring while I was in recovery from the many minor bruises and cuts I sustained. Dad died and I was just scraped and beat up, nature is a selfish bitch.

My stomach growled at me rudely, and I walked on.

"And if I only could. Make a deal, with God, and get him to swap our places….." I sang to myself as I walked, crossing one parking lot and going into a Starbucks.

Coffee and food, no rest.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Dave pulled up and 6:48, I wasted no time putting the Burner under his front wheel, handed him the gun, and passed him the envelope with the money. Silently, he gave me a new manila envelope with my pay. I slipped it into my jacket and backed away from his car as he pulled away into traffic, cutting a guy off who leaned on the horn while experiencing that special kind of anger drivers reserved for other bad drivers. I checked the old Burner and it was crushed completely, no evidence to be pulled from that one.

My work day over, I walked up to the terminal waiting area to eat my sandwich from Starbucks and reevaluate all my life choices.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"That seems wasteful." Loki said as he pushed at the broken mess of wires and plastic with the toe of his shoe, he had dropped the Glamour a few blocks ago, and his stormy blue eyes took in the mangled mess at his feet. Behind him, he heard the automatic doors to the terminal open, and an announcer over his head stated that the vessel for someplace called Bremerton would be departing in ten minutes.

"We risk loosing her if she boards a vessel!" Thor urged him and he began walking into the building and up the incline that lead into the area above them for passengers, his taller frame standing out as he ascended into the building. An odorous man wearing rags approached him with his hand out, Loki ignored the pathetic creature and turned before he could be accosted by him.

Sighing, Loki walked through the doors after Thor who was waiting impatiently halfway up the incline.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I tore open the manila envelope and was not surprised at all by the contents of it.

Another Burner, which I turned on and put into my jacket pocket, a thousand dollars cash, which I buried in the bottom of my bag for safe keeping, and a bag of coke. I wadded up the white powder in the envelope and threw it away in the nearest trashcan, I never touched anything harder the booze or weed on principal, and was not about to start.

I unwrapped my sandwich, and used a napkin to wipe off the remains of my lipstick before eating, no sense ruining my food with a seasoning provided by the cosmetic companies. I paid zero attention to people as they came and went from the terminal, their lives were their own and I could care less about their stories. Chewing at the food in my mouth, I scrolled through my phone for some music while I ate. I was about to select Placebo when I knocked the empty paper cup from Starbucks off the counter. I put the phone back in my pocket annoyed at my clumsiness, and took another bite of sandwich before slipping off the stool to get the cup.

It was providence that I did knock the empty cup off the counter, because they would have seen me first.

I froze for a moment as panic clawed at my brain and throat, there was something vaguely familiar about Surfer, as if I had seen him before today but I couldn't put my finger on it. Twilight scanned the waiting area, his stance completely relaxed and Surfer gestured for them to take different sides of the terminal as there was a large blind spot in the center of the waiting area where the ticket booth was. I held my breath as Twilight walked past me. Staying down and out of view under the counter and peeking at them through the crack between the chairs, I watched his back as it moved further along and past me. His hair was longer than I originally thought and as Surfer made his way around the far side of the ticket booth and out of sight, I took my chance on escape.

Grabbing my bag off the seat and fumbling with the last of my sandwich and the wrapper, I moved quickly and quietly. I walked backwards a bit toward the ramp and as I turned to walk down the ramp my heart sank into my feet when I came face to face with Twilight. Unable to comprehend how quickly he got behind me, I noticed that he seemed to study me with cool blue eyes and he pinned me to my spot further with a predatory grin.

"Hello…." Was all he got out before I reacted, I shoved into him, placing my heel behind his ankle intending to throw him down but he was a good foot taller than me. I shoved him with one hand, and smashed the partially eaten sandwich into his face as a diversion. He went over backwards and I wasted no time running, hearing a set of heaver feet running up to help his friend as I hauled ass out onto the Seattle Streets.

Twilight wasted no time getting back up, and I turned as I ran to see them both burst through the doors of the terminal as I ran north along the Waterfront. With two larger men chasing me, I only had two advantages on them, how well I knew these streets and how small I was.

I hoped to gain some headway on the duo so I could duck into Pirates Plunder, from the exit at the back of the store I could get lost on the Pier as it was a rabbits warren of shops, restaurants, and an arcade near the back. Using my size as my advantage, I could find a way to double back and hopefully loose them or even hide until they figured they lost me and gave up. After that, I could catch a bus back to the Needle, and from there I would find a place to lay low for the next few days.

A simple plan….right.

My legs were straining with the exertion as I swung my bag onto my shoulders and slipped my arms through the straps a I ran. I had just passed Ivars when a cramp that wrapped around my back and shot through my stomach nearly throwing me off balance but I managed to push through the pain and keep going the cramp was enough to slow me down just enough for Twilight to grab my bag. After that, my reaction was pure instinct and I had no intention of giving up without a fight. I dropped to the ground on one knee and used my momentum to swing Twilight over my head. My left knee connected painfully with the ground, and I could feel blood starting to well up under my fishnet stocking as it scraped the ground painfully. I tucked my head into my chest as I felt his hand release my bag and he rolled to a stop in front of me in a heap, taking some satisfaction that he still had a piece of tomato stuck in his hair from the sandwich. I smoothly slipped the butterfly knife out of my boot, and with a flick of my wrist, I opened the knife in a flourish of quick movements, the six inch knife was open and ready to go.

"You are a vexing little mouse girl." Twilight said smoothly as he stood up. "Not wise to do that, perhaps you do not understand that I am a creature with bigger claws."

"Fuck you cockwaffle." I said catching my breath in lungs full of battery acid. I tried to dart around him, but he kept anticipating my every move. He continued to toy with me as a predator toys with its prey, and he was actually enjoying it. It took everything I had to not slice his nose off before Surfer arrested me, but assaulting a cop was never a good idea.

I heard Surfer skid up behind me, so I put my back to the concrete railing that separated Seattle from Puget Sound at the sea wall, and kept the knife to the front of me pivoting on the both of them as a simple chase turned into a fight for my life. Even cornered prey could be dangerous if it had to be, and I was not going end up another random body dumped in an alley by Dave's goons for getting arrested. Surfer tried to grab my knife arm but I feinted away, just out of grasp and slashed at him with the blade.

My brain was going a mile a minute desperate to figure out an escape, and my only two options were risky at best. I could try to clear the rocky sea wall, and go over backwards into the Sound or I could risk it, and run headlong into the traffic on the street and try to make for the city itself. Both options could end badly for me, and if I survived I would still end up evidence somewhere. Maybe they could change my name, give me a new identity and hide me until I testified but someday I would look over my shoulder and find a bullet with my name on it heading toward me.

"I have to ask, and it has been bothering me all day, what does this gesture mean?" Twilight asked me as he flipped me the bird. Surprised by the question, I gave him and incredulous look, and that shocked half second where I lost my concentration was enough for Surfer to grab my knife wrist and twist my arm up behind my back throwing me off balance and forcing me to drop my blade.

Twisting out of his grip, I turned on Surfer and drove my knee into his groin feeling some well of satisfaction as I heard the wind get knocked out of him as my bleeding knee connected with his pride and joy painfully for both of us.

"It means Fuck You!" I shouted and tried to run into the street, but Surfer wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me back. I struggled, but the muscle bound python of his arm held me fast as he said one word:

"Heimdall."