The address was for a news station, and while they weren’t exceedingly difficult to sneak into, it was still wise to be cautious. Most important of all: make sure you look as if you belong and no one really questions you.
I drove back home to throw on the only suit I owned, and ran the plan by my roommate, Sorren, as well as the price for the job.
“You mean we’ll actually be able to eat something besides Ramen for the first time this month?” he asked, somewhat joking and hopeful.
He was a Half-Fae himself, and since our kind were not looked on with anything but contempt, we tended to congregate amongst ourselves. We formed our own little families since our blood relatives didn’t want us, and if our other half was mortal we tended to outlive that half of our bloodline. Sorren was a couple hundred years older than me. After a while you don’t keep track of the specific number. Essentially, he was the brother I never had.
I punched him lightly on a well-muscled and tanned arm. His handsome face was a shadow of the awe-inspiring beauty some of the Fae possessed, and his hair was the color of night spun into soft curls.
“Yes, hopefully,” I said, and grabbed my purse. He gave me a quick hug, and opened the front door.
“Just be careful,” he replied back, concern lightly coating his tone.
“I’ll be fine.” I threw him a half-smile to reassure him, and got into my car to drive to the news station.
I grabbed two cup holders full of coffee on my way to the station, completely for show. Personally, I hated coffee. Juggling my props as I walked toward the back door, a guy on his smoke break was kind enough to let me in with a swipe of his card. It was always easier to sneak in the back than the front, I’d noticed.
Moving my way toward the dressing rooms, I began my snooping. Whenever someone asked me what I was doing, I feigned confusion, and stammered a different room number, and implied I was an intern of some kind. I’d even snitched some dry cleaning, that I swore I’d return, from a random rack to support the cover. Most rolled their eyes and pointed vaguely toward where I could find the room.
Then I came across a room that made me stop for a moment, wondering. No, it had to be too obvious, right? Sure, Thor’s powers to create thunder and lightning were limiting in concerns to weather, but the jacket was something special.
I had heard a rumor about the jacket a few years ago. It was a gift from Coyote, a well-known Native American trickster god, to Thor, after Thor managed to best him in some game of chance; a game that Coyote was rigging. Coyote was so impressed he presented Thor with the jacket. No one really knows how Thor managed it. I mean, look at how many times Loki, a trickster from Thor’s own pantheon, had gotten the better of him.
Coyote told Thor that the jacket was from Alignak, an Inuit weather and moon god. The word ‘from’ might make it sound like the jacket was a gift or some such. In all likelihood, Coyote stole or tricked it away from Alignak. Coyote told Thor the jacket had a limited version of Alignak’s powers, making Thor more powerful by being able to manipulate and create weather. Augmenting Thor’s powers over lightning and thunder. Thor accepted, and has had it ever since.
Opening the door with the meteorologist’s name on it, there was the jacket hanging on the back of the chair. Interesting concept, I had to admit: a weatherman using Thor’s jacket to help create weather and accurate predictions for his news station.
Slipping the jacket onto a hanger I found in a small closet, I stuck it between two of the dry cleaning outfits and headed out of the room.
Then, of course, my luck ran out.
“Hey! What were you doing in my room?”
When I turned to look, a man was walking hurriedly over to me. He was short, average height and weight, nondescript brown hair set in an atrocious comb-over, eyes to match, and plain features. I could have turned around and forgotten his face seconds later. That was how some gods and goddesses preferred to travel—incognito. Not all of them of course, but since their religions have hit the back burner some of them are attempting to live normal, human lives.
So I made a logic jump.
“Alignak, right? You’re pretty far from the Arctic.”
He stopped a few feet from me, as if someone had jerked him by the back of his shirt. The surprise at hearing his true name caused the illusion of his current form to shimmer, giving me a quick glance at his godly visage. His face was wide with high cheek bones and young. However, a closer inspection showed fine age lines at the corner of his eyes and mouth. Instead of the typical dark brown eye color that borders on black, the eyes that gazed back at me were a light gray. His matte black hair was cut surprisingly short, and his skin was the color of cinnamon.
Once I knew what he was, his aura of power enveloped the immediate area. While it wasn’t imposing, it wouldn’t be easily brushed off, either. There was a tense moment when he was trying to decide what to do about me, when a coworker walked down the hall and hailed him. That broke the staring contest between us, and I relaxed a bit. It wasn’t like I could run off and not cause a scene.
Alignak replied back and said he would be right with them. Turning away from the coworker, he looked back at me, raised an eyebrow, and gestured toward his dressing room; Easy way, or hard way?
I considered my options for a moment, and decided to head into the room like a rational person. It never hurt to be reasonable first and violent later if necessary.
After a few tense moments of sizing each other up, we settled into a hesitant truce. While talking with Alignak, it became clear he wasn’t the one who stole the leather jacket from Thor. In fact, he was just as surprised to see it back in his closet one morning as he had been when it had disappeared from the same closet a few years ago.
Coyote was the one to steal it in the first place, and in spite of Alignak having the jacket for many years and liking it, he didn’t deem an article of clothing worth getting upset over.
“Do you think Coyote gave it back to you to stir up trouble?”
I asked him while sipping on a bottle of water he so generously offered. I was sitting down in a brown fold out chair from the stack against the wall, and he pulled up one not too far from me. If I lunged, it would be just far enough out of my reach to give him time to react. Trusting bunch, supernaturals, weren’t we?
“It is possible—he has been growing bored lately. People just don’t believe in us the way they used to. Even though they’ll shake hands with various supernatural creatures, believing in gods and goddesses is still a little much for them.
“So, the only way for Coyote to get his kicks is by tormenting those who do believe in him—other gods.”
He continued with this line of complaining for a while. There’s nothing like getting someone in the room who believed, and understood, what you were going through. I confirmed a couple of my suspicions, asked to borrow the jacket with a promise to return it, and headed out to see if it was possible to trick a trickster.
I called my roommate, running my suspicions and plan by him for the second time that day.
Hearing the sigh on the other end of the line, I couldn’t help a twinge of guilt that twanged in my conscience. What I had planned meant we wouldn’t get paid, and the fridge was running a bit lean while of course the bills were running high. We had recently moved to Jacksonville, so we were still trying to find real jobs while we did these odd jobs in the interim.
“Don’t worry about it, Kella—we’ll get by like we always do,” his deep voice grumbled over the phone line.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about it. Who knows, though, maybe we’ll still get paid,” I said, trying to keep a note of hope in my voice. Judging by the snort I heard on the other end of the line, I hadn’t succeeded in reassuring him.
“I’ll call a few ‘people’ up—just be careful,” he said, hanging up the phone. No goodbyes for us.
I was back at the restaurant where I met the demon Thyla earlier. There were only two other people on the porch this time, both of them older gentleman hunkered behind their newspapers on opposite ends from each other.
Paying them no mind, I settled down with a margarita watching the sky darken as the sun dipped below the horizon. It was sending streamers of oranges, reds, and yellows across the clouds in a last ditch attempt to make sure we’d miss it once it was gone. Fat chance of that, I thought, fanning myself with a menu.
I didn’t have to wait long for my guests of honor to show up, though, and they didn’t look particularly happy with my choice in tablemates. The two of them stopped about seven feet on opposing sides from where I was sitting, and began a staring contest that would have done the Wild West proud. All we needed was a tumble weed rolling behind us on the beach and pistols at their hips. Cowboy attire need not apply—I wasn’t into chaps.
My voice broke the silence that had settled over our little corner of the world, and I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing as they turned identical annoyed frowns my way.
“Loki, Coyote, will the two of you join me, or does a girl have to dine alone?”
Thyla quirked a pleased smile, and her features dissipated like smoke in the breeze, leaving behind an equally pleased Loki.
Loki was certainly a handsome deity, with the difference between this form and Thyla’s being minimal. Everything was paler, and more masculine and mischievous. One glance at Loki and I could understand where the phrase, ‘roguish looks’, came from.
Falling into a chair on my right and laughing, he slouched into the same position I sat in earlier and gave me his best smile.
“You’re always looking for an excuse to wear women’s clothing, Loki,” I said teasingly.
“Guilty as charged. Plus, you caught us at our game. However did you figure it out?”
“I was suspicious about the job, and it wasn’t too hard to figure out once I phoned your friends over there,” I said, nodding my head in deference to the older gentlemen on the porch. Behind Loki, Odin nodded back with a serious expression on his face, but an amused glint in his one eye.
Meanwhile, the other man, Amotken, was plainly showing us how entertaining he found the situation on his age-lined face. He was a creator god, and having been the one to set Coyote on the world supposedly, I guess I could expect no less. He tilted his head in response to me, and the two elder gods went back to reading their papers.
Coyote sat on my left, across the table from Loki. He was the one I had encountered at the news station, not Alignak, and he had also dropped the illusion of his alternate form. Alignak was the real weatherman at the station.
“I’m assuming you called in the parents to make sure we behaved ourselves?” Coyote asked, with a glint in his eyes to match Loki’s.
“Yes, and to make sure you both leave Alignak alone after this. I gave him his jacket back, by the way,” I said to Loki, who shrugged.
“I was only getting it back for Thor to be honest.”
“And I was getting it back for Alignak, since Loki cheated,” said Coyote, shooting a look to Loki. Whether it was admiring or annoyed, I could not tell; mayhap it was a little of both.
Apparently, when Coyote thought he was playing Thor in a game it was actually Loki in disguise as Thor. Loki had heard about Coyote’s plans and was not pleased that a trickster from another pantheon was meddling in his, so he decided to play a trick of his own. Loki gifted the jacket to the real Thor, but Coyote found out. Coyote then duped the jacket from the real Thor, and Loki hired me in turn get it back; because Coyote would be on the lookout for Loki.
“What made you suspicious?” Coyote asked, curiosity threading through his question.
“Loki coming in demon form did. None of them would ever be caught dead with me, and if they were caught, in all likelihood they would be dead,” I said, giving a small smile to Loki. He just laughed and nodded.
“Ah well, I guess the game had to come to an end. Truce?” Loki held out his hand to Coyote and the two of them shook.
“Will I still be paid?” I asked as I looked over to Loki again, but no one was there. All four of them had vanished like food near a hungry seagull.
I sighed, finished my margarita, and headed to my jeep. It was probably the last little splurge I could do while I waited for another job to come in. Good deeds never go unpunished, especially by the gods.