"You learned all your tricks from me, little brother." Lucifer spat the words out contemptuously, a shield of scorn to cloak his grief. Gabriel's eyes filled with horror as Lucifer twisted his own blade deep in his gut. With a flash of light, his body crumpled to the floor, the ashes tracing an outline of great wings in confirmation of an angel's death.
Miles away, Kali smirked.
Her reputation spread far and wide and all men feared her. She had forgotten how convenient it could be to be underestimated.
"Drop me off here," she ordered.
"Are you sure?" Dean Winchester asked. "It's the middle of a freakin' highway."
Sam Winchester was silent. He likely didn't even know why he mourned. Once, Kali would have been jealous.
"Quite sure," Kali confirmed.
With a shrug, Dean pulled over. As she left, she tossed two vials of blood to the younger Winchester. She only needed one.
The Winchesters drove off and Kali pulled away from Earth. Her destination was one she had only visited once, hoped never to visit again. She steeled herself. Desperate times called for desperate measures and this time she and Sigyn had a common goal.
Since her children had grown old enough to leave, Sigyn had no pressing duties to fulfill. She didn't have many friends, either; marrying a Trickster tended to alarm people, but she was content with her relative solitude.
Thus, the knock at her door took her by surprise.
"One moment," she called, setting down her book.
She opened the door and froze.
"Loki is dead." Well, no one could ever fault Kali for beating around the bush. "I need your help to fix that."
"What happened," Sigyn demanded coldly, standing aside to let Kali enter.
"Lucifer killed him," Kali's voice was inflectionless. If she lost control now, all was lost.
Kali laid a hand on Sigyn's brow, pouring images, memories into her head. Sigyn blinked once when the flow stopped, deliberately calm.
"You ought not gamble with angels' lives, cousin," she admonished. "They are not so easily restored as gods."
"I did not gamble with an angel's life," Kali defended. "I gambled with a Trickster's."
"I will speak with my stepdaughter. We will need a proper body if this is going to work."
"His body is at the hotel," Kali said.
"That one was mortally wounded, beyond even our skill to heal. Anansi will be able to help us."
"He will be able to help, of course, but he will not."
Sigyn fixed Kali with a glare. "Persuade him."
Sigyn's closet had a false bottom. It did not, strictly speaking, need one, but she had long ago learned the value of paranoia. She opened the secret compartment and retrieved a small vial. She closed the drawer so that it could never be found by one she had not permitted to find it. She added a few extra enchantments, just to be sure. The liquid inside the vial was pale blue, but only because she like the color.
The next part was the hard part. She carefully examined the visible contents of her closet. After much deliberation, she selected a velvet dress, pale blue to match the vial, with gold trim. She twisted her hair into a prim bun with a long silver pin and donned fawn colored riding boots. She left her ears and neck unadorned, but slipped three slim bracelets on her left wrist. One was ivory, one was agate, and the third was tourmaline.
That task finished, she laid down on her bed and uncorked the vial. With well-practiced movements, she downed the contents, re-corked the vial, destroyed all evidence it had ever existed, and died. It was swift and painless. Sigyn knew her poisons well.
Not many people would think to look for Anansi in Scandinavia, but not many people could say they'd ever truly known a Trickster. Kali was not vain enough to add herself to the latter category, but she and Gabriel had been in love once. She knew well enough how Tricksters operated.
That was how she found herself in a dimly lit strip club in the middle of Helsinki, chatting over a cheap beer in a corner.
The form Anansi had chosen this time was short, skinny, and very nearly the color of ebony. His dyed-red hair was artfully disheveled and he constantly ran his too-long fingers through it.
"I expected an artsy cafe," Kali noted "not this place." She gestured idly with one hand, her displeasure obvious.
Anansi shrugged gracefully. "This is a better hunting ground. Work before pleasure and all that, although in some cases, the two aren't mutually exclusive. See that man over there?" He nodded towards one of the patrons.
Kali watched him for a few moments. He started coughing up blood. By the time she turned her attention back to Anansi, he was already dead.
"I was just gonna make his next girl a succubus," Anansi chuckled. "I guess that works too."
With a classic Trickster's smirk, he snapped his fingers. The world around them rippled into nothingness and reformed into exactly the pretentious cafe Kali had expected. Anansi sipped his coffee, grimaced, and poured in three sugars.
"So," he said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Loki is dead."
Anansi raised an eyebrow. "Is he now? Can't say I didn't see that one coming. Anyone else survive your little plan?" He sounded curious, nothing more.
"Sigyn and myself are working on restoring him," Kali deliberately didn't answer the question. She didn't owe the Spider any answers.
"Together?" Anansi asked incredulously. Kali nodded. Anansi laughed loudly enough to attract every single customers attention. With a wave of his hand, he got rid of them. "You and Sigyn don't belong on the same plane of existence, let alone the same sentence." He could barely contain his mirth.
Kali glared. Anansi quickly sobered.
"We will need a body to return to when we have his Being," Kali said.
"Yep. He will," Anansi agreed.
"You will have one prepared for him," Kali ordered.
Anansi laughed again, darker this time, mirthless, dangerous even. "What kind of fool do you take me for, Kali? I know all about your little plan. Have to be blind to miss it. You're the one who broke your precious Loki. It's not my job to fix it."
"He was never meant to die," Kali insisted.
Anansi's eyes tightened. "It was never meant to happen," he repeated scornfully. "I have heard every single variation of that excuse under the Sun and a few more besides. It doesn't get any better falling from your lips, princess."
"We need him to stop the Apocalypse," Kali tried.
Anansi looked sad. "I'm a married man, Kali dear. I've got kids. I've got a family. I can't afford to go up against Lucifer. The Apocalypse, that's a Trickster's paradise. That I can live with. That my kids can live with. I can't help you. I'm sorry, Kali, but I can't."
The diner was just like the thousands of other diners that graced roadsides nationwide. It was reasonably small, garishly decorated, and a prime location for people who had no intention of ever returning to the area. It's employees were high school students looking for a little extra money and old women who had worked there for as long as anyone could remember and simply couldn't bear to leave.
It was a Tuesday and lunch service was almost over. All of the waiters had left, except for Helen.
Helen was the bane of moral guardians everywhere; try as they might, they could never quite find anything wrong with her behavior or appearance. Her long black hair covered half her face, but it was neat, well kept, and in a conventional hairstyle. She wore miniskirts, but she wore them with black hose, even in the summer. Her shirts hung off her shoulder, but her midriff stayed covered and her hair concealed most of her upper body anyway. She wore a thin black glove on her left hand.
If anyone asked, she said that she'd burned her hand the other day and she didn't want to call too much attention to it. Whenever she said this, Gary, one of the diner's few regulars, would chuckle softly. She'd been wearing that glove for as long as he'd known her, and he'd known her for quite a while.
The bell on the door rang and two men walked in. They were tall, muscular, attractive. Helen looked them over appreciatively, barely refraining from whistling.
"What'll it be, boys?" she asked.
The taller one ordered a salad. The shorter one ordered a burger. As she waited for the orders to cook, Gary leaned over to whisper to her.
"That them?" he asked.
"Want me to kill 'em?"
Helen laughed. "I'd say I'd like to see you try, but I actually kind of like you. Leave 'em be. Just for the moment."
Gary shrugged and sank back into his chair. "Whatever you say, boss."
Once the Winchesters had paid and left, Gary spoke up again. "How long we plannin' on stickin' around here anyway."
"Not long now," Helen answered wistfully. "They're almost here. We're almost ready."