Erica decided the best way to get Loki off of her mind was to get out of their shared apartment. Her car was in the parking garage across the street, sitting there under the low lights. The blonde got behind the wheel, sighing. Perhaps the radio would help. You know, just as a start.

King with no crown, King with no crown... I'm just a Holy fool, Oh baby he's so cruel, But I'm still in love with Judas baby!

Okay, no help there. She changed the station.

Just a beautiful liar!

Definitely not helping. Erica shook her head. Maybe pop wasn't the best option. She changed it to some older music instead.

I don't want... Anybody else... When I think about you, I touch myself!

She groaned. "I think the radio is against me." Erica mumbled to nobody.

Giving up that endeavor, Erica kept driving. Having breakfast out sounded like nice idea. IHOP would have been her first option, but she wasn't in the mood for a huge pancake breakfast. All Erica wanted was a frappachino and a muffin. To Starbucks!

She parked a couple blocks away, because there was no way in Hell she was going to get a good space. Not in New York. It didn't take Erica long to realize that the was near Central Park... kind of like...

No, no. Erica, you know better than this. There are thousands of Starbucks, and surely some of them are close in location. The idea that this was the same... the probability was laughable! So she made her way to her destination. After ordering a caramel mocha frap and chocolate chip muffin, Erica sat down by the window.

The people passed her by outside, zooming around in their little lives. Erica watched without much interest, sipping her drink. This was when she noticed the view.

"No. Fucking. Way." It couldn't be. No, no. Impssible.

Her mind was playing tricks on her, surely. Erica squinted, as if that would make the familiar bar across the street appear different. Suddenly somebody snapped her from this trance with a tap on the shoulder.


Erica turned her head... "Gagh! What the Hell?!"

A man in golden armor and a green cape stood before her, looking bewildered. Then he remembered his state.

"Oh, yeah, sorry. I'm a cosplayer."

"No shit." Erica replied. "And you're Loki. Figures. So, what can I do you for?"

"Uh... Well you were looking out the window like you were looking for somebody. Kinda depressed, really. I wanted to see if you were alright." He gave her a weak smile.

She put her head in her hands. "Yeah, I'm... I'm fine, thank you. It's just... this is gonna be a long day." She said, mostly to herself.


"She used to take care of us, me and our other cousin Melody, since she was little. All of our parents worked nights, for obvious reasons, so she had to be our babysitter. It's been like this ever since she was six." Josie explained.

"Is that where her maternal side came from?"

Josie shrugged. "Maybe, I don't know. She was always happy to take care of us, even when things were tough for her. I think the motherly thing is just... there. It's part of her."

Loki nodded. "So, when did things start to get 'tough'? Where did all this emotional baggage come from?"

The redhead took a deep breath. "It started at around Christmas. We were all over at her house, and it was an especially cold winter. Not that it bothered her, with that whole body-temperature thing she's got going."

"I've noticed that." Loki commented.

Josie chuckled. "Yeah. Anyway... it was Christmas Eve, and we were all gathered in the living room. Erica had been looking a little paler than usual, which is saying something. We were about to open our traditional one gift, when she became violently ill."

"How do you mean?" Asked Loki.

"Oh god, it was awful. She was vomiting up blood. Some of it got on my dress..." She shuddered. "Everybody screamed. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. And... this is where the trouble began. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her, because they'd never seen anything like her. She was taken away to the CDC facility in Atlanta, where she'd have no contact with her family..."

Josie paused. Her face became very still, absent of all expression.


"They experimented on her. She was there for over two months, and the doctors did horrible things to her. Taking excessive amounts of blood, putting a gag in her mouth when she screamed, and they purposefully hurt her. By which I mean... they'd cut her. Hit her. Break bones. Just to see how fast she'd heal. Her father got suspicious and got Erica out of there. She didn't talk about it, but the trauma was obvious. As far as I know, I was the only person she ever told."

After this, there was a long period of silence. Loki couldn't believe... well actually he could, but he didn't want to... that people could do this to a child. Erica was only a little girl, no wonder she refused to go to the hospital.

"After that, her father never took her to a doctor again. He was the one who took care of her."

"I assume this is not the only incident of an unfortunate event." Loki stated.

Josie nodded solemnly. "This is also why her parents told her to hide who she was. Erica didn't agree with it, though. She once said that... that pretending it didn't exist was like being ashamed. She said being ashamed of that, something she had no control over, was wrong. Erica wasn't ashamed of being a daywalker. It made her resent her parents for trying to make her be ashamed."

Loki nodded. "I see."

"She rebelled against them in that respect, several times. The other children stayed away from her, most of the time. Not that she got along with them, especially the girls. In her words: "All of them so carefree and happy, and getting upset over little dramas and breakups, while I learned a young age the truth about life."

She sighed again. "It got worse once she was a teenager. A little bit after Erica got her first period, her father hired a private doctor to give Erica her first gynecology exam. Because god knows that would've been uncomfortable. This was when she found out that she could never have children."

"That must have been devastating." Loki whispered.

"Oh my, yes. She wouldn't speak to anybody for three days. Just sat up in her room. That was when her parents gave Erica Lycan. And a couple months later, she found out about how her uncle... my father... used to be part of an Anti-Vampire Activist group. How he hit her mother at their grandmothers' funeral. How he actually hated Erica when her mother told him she was pregnant. And of course about how her mother's first boyfriend, who Erica adored as her other uncle, almost let her be killed."

Loki sat there in awe and empathy.

"I understand the pain of being lied to all your life."

Josie nodded. "Yeah. By then she was already learning how to shoot guns and throw knives, and of course do martial arts. Her father had given her lessons so she could defend herself. And boy, was she a natural! By the time she was sixteen, Erica had a black belt in karate, Thai-Quan-Do, and a few other arts that I can't pronounce."


"I know. After all the betrayal and pain, the knowledge of what an evil world she lived in, Erica decided to become an assassin. Knew it in her heart that it was her path to follow. Her dad always said that she had a warrior's heart. You know, he used to tell her all about you and Thor and all that when she was a kid."

Loki couldn't help but smile for a moment.

"Is there anything else?"

"Well... she had a lot of trust issues after all of that. And she didn't date. At all."

Loki nodded. "That's understandable."

"It's more than. It's a miracle she's still as... okay as she appears to be. And I don't blame her for not wanting to be with anybody. She just... I didn't think she had the strength to go through anymore heartache. She's been let down by the world so much already. God forbid if she finally trusted somebody, and they broke her heart... fucked her and left or found out what she was and left... No matter what she says I believe that'd hurt her a lot."

"So this is why Erica will not accept my love? She doesn't have the strength to trust me?"

Josie sighed. "I used to think that this world had bled Erica dry of any faith in love, any hope for the world... just let it drain until she couldn't feel anything for another person. And I didn't blame her."

"Used to?"

Josie smiled. "Then I met you. You genuinely love her, I know. And you something?"


"I think she loves you too."

Loki's eyes widened. "Do you truly believe that?"

"Yes. Loki, I want you to understand the significance of her letting you in."

"I'm listening."

"Well... consider this. You're the first person, I think, who's ever earned her generosity the first night you met."

"So her helping me on Christmas..."

"Is the single strangest thing I've heard of Erica doing." She completed.

Loki suddenly felt very warm inside. "But... how do I get her to admit that she loves me?"

Josie shook her head. "I don't know. This is unknown territory for us both. I suppose you could... I think she needs a push. Something that'll get her to realize what you mean to her."

Thinking that over, Loki had a very interesting idea in mind.

"She doesn't happen to have a jealous streak, does she?" Loki asked.

"Not that I'm aware of. Why?"

"Just asking."

"Yeah, well, I hope I've been of some help."

"Indeed you have, Josie." Loki said. "I'm grateful for your assistance. I believe I shall take my leave now."

She smiled. "Alright, goodbye Loki."

"Goodbye, Josie."

Loki began walking out the door, when the redhead stopped him. She had one more thing to say.

"And Loki..."


"If you break her heart-"

"You'll kill me?" Loki finished.

"No, I think Erica will do a fine job of that herself. You and anyone in the immediate vicinity."


The god strolled off into the day, watching as the sunlight spread beautiful colors over the leaves. With renewed hope for Erica's heart and a new plan in mind, Loki went off to find the nearest jewelry shop. If his plan worked, which Loki sincerely hoped for, then he needed something for the future. Making sure he still had the $800 needed for a cab and plane ticket, the god found what he was looking for.

A golden, emerald engagement ring.