Disclaimer: I wish, but I own nothing except Hazel, Matt and Harriet.

It was an unseasonably cold and cloudy day, that late summer's eve. But he observed that she was out running anyways. And once again, she was underdressed for the cold weather. Loki groaned inwardly as he thought to himself, while watching her from above, when will she learn? She knows that this will only make her even sicker. She's a idiot for even being out in this kind of weather either she doesn't notice, or she's a bigger fool than I thought she was, because a storm's blowing in. And it's going to be a big one.

She was fighting for breath as she tried to finish her last two miles before her parents got home clutching a stitch in her side, they didn't like her running around the country-side alone, while managing to remain completely oblivious to the angry black clouds rolling in over her head. A thought flashed through her mind. Why is running so hard today? She thought, I better not be sick again, that would be the third time this month, though with my luck I probably am. A sudden burst of thunder startled her, so absorbed had she been in her own thoughts and she tripped over a tree root that had been as good as invisible to her. She was sent flying before she fell back to earth with a yelp where she landed on her head before she'd had a chance to react; she tumbled head over heels as the world turned black.

He was slowly striding up to Odin, the All-father's throne when he said, "Dad, let me go free for just ten minutes so I can rescue the mortal girl. She's drowning. Let me go save her." "Why should I let you save her?"laughed Odin. "If you let me go to her,"bargained Loki, "I will resign to my fate of being imprisoned in the lower heavens, unpleasant and unfair as it may be, and never bother you again, which I'm sure would make both of us very happy. "And how am I to believe what you are saying now when you have failed at every other task you have been giving?"sneered his father.

"Dad," answered Loki, spitting out the word like rotted meat, "I think we both know how this will turn out if we keep at it like this," he continued his light brown eyes narrowed in barely suppressed anger. "You'll yell at me, informing me once again what a poor excuse for a son I am, I'll tell you what a bad father YOU are, we'll argue, and then I'll storm out and sneak down to Earth anyways. So really,"smirked Loki, beginning to sound sarcastic, "I'm actually being very polite coming here and asking your permission to go down. And,"he added, his voice taking back its razor tone. "Every single second we spend arguing right now is one second closer to the minute that girl goes over the waterfall, and hits the rocks. So I suggest you let me go and save yourself all of this trouble,"finished Loki, his eyes glinting with both anger and triumph. At this, Odin stared at his son; very aware of the precious seconds ticking past. Finally he said, "For your courage, you may go. But only for ten minutes."

But before Odin had even finished his sentence, Loki was down on Earth, shifting into the form of a great cartoonish-looking heron and diving down to save the girl just as she went over the edge of the roaring waterfall. "Hold on!" said Loki through a clenched beak as he grabbed the girl out of the air with his talons just before she hit the unforgiving rocks that had awaited her at the bottom.

Just then the rain started, it came down in great angry sheets and Loki lost his already precarious balance on the air and both he and the girl tumbled down to the grassy banks on the other side and rolled to a stop. "You're safe now," said Loki as he shifted back into human form. He started to walk away but before he had gotten even ten feet, a thought crossed his mind, I can't leave her out in the rain like this; she could get sick, and besides no matter how you look at it, there's no possible way that that one trip could have carried her all the way down here, I better carry her back up.

And with that thought, he changed once again, into the form of a huge cartoonish-looking panther, with a large jaw, gigantic paws and a flicking tail. He then heaved the girl onto his back and jumped from ledge to ledge until he came to a tree that was conveniently believably close to where she had originally fallen.

Here Loki set her down under its large spreading branches and shifted back, once again, to his human form. He then partially dried the girl's t-shirt and jeans as much as he could without it being too suspicious. After that was done, he slowly took off his precious, ancient necklace and placed it by the girl's head. Something for her to remember me by, Loki thought kindly, but mostly to mix things up, its way too boring up there anyways, there's no one to prank, the god added with a quiet chuckle. Just then his timer started to go off with its ever annoying beeping. Grimacing, Loki started back up to his prison and his sure to be sneering father. Finally, thought Loki to himself smiling, the perfect time to teach that pompous fool a thing or two, and I have all the time in the world. And he disappeared into the mist.

"Ohhhh …" she groaned as she rolled over and rubbed the painful knot on the side of her head "how'd I get this?"she wondered aloud, and then she winced as a splatter of icy rainwater fell mockingly from the wide, spreading branches over her head to land on her already cold neck. But as she raised her hand to wipe it off, her other arm brushed against something that felt strangely cool, like metal almost.

The rain on her neck forgotten, she held it up to her face to look at it. Well, it was metal but it was also like no design she had ever seen before, except maybe in an antique shop, it looked foreign and it was shaped like a diamond, but instead of having two sharp points for a top and bottom, it had three, two on top and one on bottom, and the sharp sides were rounded. On each side it also had two triangular holes, with a dark circular emerald set in-between them, polished to a shine that was only enhanced by the extra water on it. The pendant was strung on a short, black, leathery-feeling cord.

When her thumb touched it a sudden image flashed in her mind, a man, she thought, of average height and slight build with spiky hair wearing a black leather overcoat, seemingly average, nothing special, but no. This man was different. There was an air of mystery to him, his face in shadow, and the edges of his form blurred. And then she was back under the tree, wet and cold.

The girl hit her head in frustration, and then winced in pain at the forgotten knot.After the pain faded to a dull throb, out of habit, she glanced at her watch to make sure that the water hadn't damaged it and saw the time. "What?!"She exclaimed seeing that it was 5:50. "I better get back home, quick because if mom and dad are already home, they'll kill me! Or at least ground me and forbid me to date until I'm married."The girl added as an afterthought. Then after dusting herself off and making sure that nothing was out of place, she ran into the rain, tripping but catching herself many times as she hurriedly sprinted the remaining mile to her two-story stone and brick house ducking so that she was almost bent over double. As if that could stop the rain from hitting her.

Once there, she fumbled with her keys and quietly unlocked the back door and slipped in, trying to make as little noise as possible. She cocked her head and listened for any sounds, hearing none she let herself slump against the wall and breath a sigh of relief. Suddenly she felt something brush up against her leg. "Ahh!"She exclaimed, jumping at least a foot into the air then she turned around too see…her cat purring deeply and rubbing against her leg.

She breathed a sigh of relief, "I thought you were one of my parents, though what they would be doing down there I don't know,"then the girl picked up the purring cat and cuddled him. Then she carried him to her room and gently set him down on the bed while she stripped off her saturated clothes and threw them in the laundry hamper. She slipped on a pair of sleek, Japanese-styled pants and a loose Mexican-printed yellow shirt that horribly clashed with each other.

After she was changed, she dramatically fell onto her soft bed and examined the talisman (what else could you call it?) and pondered aloud, "oh, Zane! I'm so confused! Who is that guy I saw? And why did I see him? Oh my ashes, I sure hope he's not a stalker, which would be kind of creepy, they're weird. Though at least he's not fat."here Zane was staring at her, "oh don't worry silly, no need to be jealous,"she laughed, stroking his ears. "I'm not interested in him; over-weight stalkers just naturally scare me more than slim ones. They are just more intimating. Ugh, but this is all just so weird." She continued, returning to her original topic.

"If I understood even half of this mess I'd be happy, oh but whom am I kidding? I wouldn't want to understand just half of this! I'm too curious for that. Though half would be at least a tiny bit better than none. Then maybe I could figure out the rest."

Zane rubbed his sleek head against her shoulder seemingly sympathizing with her. Suddenly a happy thought came to the girl as she sat on her bed slowly stroking Zane. Oh, I forgot! She remembered. Mom and dad are both working until seven for the rest of the week! And tonight they're stopping at the store too! "Yay!"She exclaimed aloud. "Now I don't have to worry about either one of them finding me running! At least this week. Neither one of them will be home until at least seven-thirty. That means tomorrow I can go have another look around where I found the talisman!"she finished with all the hints of a smile beginning to show on her soft face. It was too late for her to go and have a look that night, so she down into her bed to examine the talisman a little longer, turning it over again and again as she wondered where it had come from.

After that got old, she just lay back on the bed absent-mindedly stroking Zane's sleek pelt, the talisman's cord wrapped twice around her wrist as she daydreamed about the mysterious man whom her mind connected the appearance of the talisman to. She pondered what he looked like, what his personality was, and generally drove herself crazy.

She allowed herself to lay there for a few minutes, listening to the cracks of thunder, and watching the flashes of lightening as they danced across her sea-blue room. Then she dragged herself off of her bed and went to prepare what dinner her meager cooking skills would allow. The time seemed to fly by because the next thing she knew, the gentle hum of the garage doors penetrated her thoughts.

Matt and Harriet Ambi. She always thought fondly of her parents. But both of them worked long hours and rarely had any spare time to spend with her. Every morning they were gone before she was even up. Though her mother made breakfast for her whenever she could, this wasn't very often. And the meals their daughter made for herself were rarely half as healthy as what her mother prepared for her. As often as not she would just catch some pop tarts and a carton of milk at school in the mornings. It was a good thing that she ran so much.

She might miss out on a lot of things, but milk was not one of them. She must have drunk at least half a quart every day, but this did not made up for her lack of nutrition. Dinners were rarely much better than the other meals. Taco Bell and McDonalds were well known names at her house. To try to make up for this, her mother would go to great lengths to cook delicious, well-balanced meals on the weekends. Occasionally her dad would even pitch in and help. But this was only Monday night and any hopes of good tasting; nutritious food would have to be postponed for another four days, though today she had gone to the trouble to make dinner for the three of them. Tonight's dinner happened to be pork chops with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables on the side.

The girl rushed to the laundry room door to greet her parents and help unload the groceries as they came inside. "Hey mom! Hey Dad!"She called as she opened the garage door, "welcome home! Did you both have a nice day at work?" "Yes Hazel, I had a good day,"replied her mother, choosing to answer first, "it went by fast and before I knew it I was pulling up the driveway.""Glad to hear it," Hazel replied turning to her dad, "and how was your day dad?"

"Well,"answered her father, drawing it out, "my day went similar to your mothers, only it's a relief to all of us that these temperatures are finally dropping, it makes the work in the warehouse much easier. And if we're lucky, we will be done with inventory next week." "That's great dad!" Hazel exclaimed in return, giving him a big hug. "We'll all be really glad to have you back home earlier. And you too mom."She added, turning to her mother, since she could start coming home at a regular time the following week also

But as Hazel stood there and smiled and then helped with the groceries. Little did she know how much her life would soon change.