So, I called Gunnar for two reasons. One, because talking to Gunnar has become standard operating procedure when the world is pissing me off and I feel like I'm about to take someone's head off. Well, figuratively. Two, I figured I should tell him first about the deal with Dionysus. Okay, three reasons. Three being just cuz I've missed him being around. He’s been off in Mexico tracking Jack down, so I was both a little surprised and a lot glad when he actually picked up the phone.
“So I just finished talking to Dionysus.” Yeah Laurel, dive right in. I rock at prologues.
"Because I would rather us have traveling money if we need to get around the globe if Ixion, Kane and Pan all pop up simultaneously and he was nice at the wedding and it was all I can think of and I'm booking a flight to Germany because apparently Nikola Tesla is a bad guy." This is still actually how a lot of our conversations go. I just start rambling without much in the way of details, exposition or logical topic progression. Like, when I'm talking to him, there's a total disconnect between my brain and my tongue.
“Wh- gr- okay. Okay. I will accept all of those except the comment about Tesla. Take it back. …but seriously, how does talking to Dionysus help this?” Oh. Yeah, I guess I could start starting conversations at their logical beginnings. Or Gunnar can just become psychic and it won't matter where I start the conversation. Both are equally likely.
“He is going to give the villagers food and I was talking to him about the Nazi werewolves and mentioned the machine that trapped shut the villagers in and he says they’ve been looking for Tesla and Nate told me about that letter, also we’re gonna meet a blonde guy over there and you can’t kill him right away even though I know you’re probably going to want to, and my uncle doesn’t even want anything in return for growing them food except the machine.” And a temple. Dionysus wants a temple built, but I forgot about that part while I was balancing the phone and my clothes and looking for my toothbrush.
“Okay, well that sounds like a good deal at least. I’m halfway to Jack’s,” Gunnar offered without me even asking. I was about to. Maybe he already is just a little psychic. Sometimes it’s like he knows just what I’m thinking. Right now I was thinking I would much rather be in Mexico with him instead of going crazy up here by myself in Berkeley. I mean, I can still count the number of days I’ve spent apart from him since I met him back in January at the Wynn and we spent a whole day playing poker. Well, I had spent a whole day losing poker. I have absolutely no poker face with that man. There was the day I spent fighting the plague, those couple of jobs he took with Jack, and those few insane days before the wedding where I was pretty much under house arrest. It’s just gotten to be weird now when he’s not around.
“Um. Dear? …Calm down. You’re gunna be fine. Give me a call when you get to Deutschland.” I’m not sure why he told me to calm down, I didn’t feel un-calm. Ok, I was probably kinda high-strung. And by kinda high-strung I mean I felt like if someone blinked at me wrong today, they might not have an eyelid anymore.
“Wait, why am I going to want to kill him?!”
Oh. I guess I kinda glossed over that too. Gunnar doesn’t miss a whole lot, though. “Uh… He may or may not be, and by may not be I mean he definitely is, a scion of Loki.” I guess I shouldn’t have expected he would definitely want to kill the blonde guy. That wasn't entirely fair, especially since Nevermore says I'm the one with the temper.
There was a long enough pause that I almost thought maybe he’d just hung up. “I haven’t killed Sly yet.”
“That’s a really good point,” I grinned a little. Yeah, I picked up on that ‘yet’ there. “Um, lemme know if you want me to get you a ticket over there, I’m not sure how capable we’re going to be of doing this thing with fewer numbers… But um, there are more scions of Loki kinda in Wolfsheim too.” There I misspoke. They were Loki’s grandkids, not his kids. I’m hoping to just not have to deal with them at all and my error won't be relevant in the least, though.
“…wha?... You know what, I’ll just let you tell me about that later. First I wanted to ask something I didn’t think about before. If Jack says no at first, how far am I allowed to go to make him say yes?” There was about the span of a heartbeat. “Also, no, that was not supposed to sound ominous.”
I laughed pretty hard at that. “Well, I’m not there to hold you back,” I said kiddingly. “But I guess if he says no, repeatedly,” meaning after repeated exposure to Gunnaresque persuasion, “we can figure something else out.” I was hoping it wouldn't come to that, I didn't have a backup plan yet.
“Alright, I’ll just tell him that only sissies and mama’s boys can’t take care of a couple of kids for a decade and a half.”
I told him that worked for me, and we hung up and I went back to packing. Finally, I’d gotten all my shit together and was like three steps from the door when I heard the fluttering of wings and conspicuous lack of anything even remotely resembling the sound of a godsdamned doorbell.
Two of the Furies had shown up in my living room. Furies are the bitches who’ve been after me since I shot Marie. Seriously, Google that shit. They’re mean.
The two who'd shown up, Alecto and Megara had been successfully called off by Erzulie. So I guess she kept that part of the bargain.
Kinda. That was a little reassuring.
Megara offered to take the memories of those dreams away. I told her to leave them and I think that confused her, which was strangely satisfying. Alecto took the scar thing off my forehead, which was going to make international travel and generally charming the pants off of people easier by approximately a metric fuck tonne. But the last little fury, Tisiphone, did not show. Apparently one does not simply “call off” the Furies. One doesn’t really hire them either, one calls upon them and points them in the direction of someone who’s vaguely guilty of something resembling a crime without any real regard for motivation or justification and then the Furies give chase until their victim is either insane or dead.
Or dead from insanity. I hear suicide is a common response to being chased by these bitches.
If I weren’t married, pregnant, in the middle of the titan war and generally just occupied with better shit to do, I’d be tempted to tell them to do their worst. Okay, I’m still tempted just to get it the fuck over with. I’ve been crazy.
I got better.
More or less.
Anyway, after that I decided to giving that whole leaving the house thing another try amd was locking the door with my bags over my shoulder and turned around and found the Egyptian goddess Bastet and a blonde woman named Kassandra, who I guess is ultimately a bribe for me so that I'll help Bastet, standing on my front porch. I didn't have time to argue, or investigate or do anything besides say, "Well come on, I've got a plane to get to."
I eventually made it out of the house and onto a plane to Germany. At the airport I took a moment to step away from Kassandra and I called Gunnar. Again.
He picked up while I was in the middle of a very long string of profanities. At first I didn’t realize he’d answered and I just kept swearing and pacing until he spoke.
“Uh, hi dear. What’s going on?”
Oh. “One of the Furies is still after me,” I blurted out. Still not any good at that whole ‘easing into a conversation’ thing. Gunnar doesn’t seem to mind, though.
“Yeah.” I took a deep breath, hoping it would end up being the calming sort but it wasn’t really. “One took the thing off my forehead and one offered to take away the memories of those dreams and I told her to leave them, but the third one I guess is not going to back down and Erzulie can't call her off and apparently Tisiphone is the 'mean one.'” I’m a little ticked about that, for the record. Gods should fucking know better than to pick up a weapon they can’t control. Also, I realize that was really shitty as an explanation and I just kinda skipped around on the details but Gunnar still hasn't complained about the task of following along when his crazy wife just starts spouting off.
“Right. What's the cure for Fury problems? Do bullets work?”
I. Love. My husband. I won’t deny it put a smile on my face when he asked that. “I'll be willing to find out, when the time comes. I bet they bleed just fine. Uh, so yeah…” While I had him on the phone, I decided to just keep the good news coming. “Oh, and all of Olympus knows I'm pregnant.” I winced a little as I said it. It's not that I'm not happy about it, it's not that I really want to keep it a secret, I just think they'll be safer and I want to keep being able to do my job.
I heard Gunnar let out a sigh. “Was it the bird? I swear I’m going to wring his neck.”
“Mm-mm, it was my dad.” I sighed too. “I guess when he said, ‘I’ll keep it quiet for now’ he meant ‘I'll keep it quiet until I can tell Zeus and then he'll issue a proclamation and call for a celebratory feast and tell everyone in the overworld.’ But, I'd be really fucking surprised if Never hasn't told anyone at all.”
“Well... I guess I can put off wringing his neck then if your dad let it slip. So anyways, I understand the 'what doesn't kill me makes me stronger' mentality, but why'd you have her leave the dreams?”
“Not so much the 'what doesn't kill me' mentality,” I tried to explain it, “But the, 'I'm not running from what I did' mentality. I killed a woman, and in all likelihood I will do something like that again to protect the people I love. I want to be able to say I know what kind of pain I'm going to be inflicting, and that the next person on the wrong end of my weapon deserves it.” All true. I know now what it feels like to die, and if I’m going to be putting other creatures through that I want to remember what it feels like. I’m hoping that will help me make better calls when it comes to deciding who deserves a divine bullet in the forehead. Or an axe to the face, now that I've got one of those.
Gunnar said he couldn’t argue with that, then asked about the blonde guy who’d joined up with the others in Wolfsheim. “You met this Loki-kid yet? I wanna hear what I can on him before I get there.”
“Well, I talked with Nate, at length, about all the shit that went down in Wolfsheim and he was apparently a lot of help in getting people outta there safely.” He may not be a total dick. That would be nice. “Still sounds like a slippery little fucker, but what kid of Loki's wouldn't be?”
“Mph. Mkay. Look, I'm comin up on Jack's. I'll call you after I talk to him.”
“K, um... Tell him I said hi? On second thought... yeah, just lemme know how it goes.” Jack never seemed to have the greatest impression of me because of the whole Marie thing, so maybe it was better that Gunnar had gone alone.
“Will do. Love and stuff.”
Gunnar hung up promptly, before I could respond but I still found myself grinning to the air, “And stuff,” as I put my phone back in my pocket. I still had a while before the plane was going to take off.
I was pacing around for a long while, hoping to hear from Gunnar sooner rather than later, when my phone rang again.
It was his turn to interrupt me. “Hah! He's a softie."
I broke into a huge smile of relief. “Yeah? So how'd it go?"
“He thought I was coming by to ask him to kill something," Gunnar explained. “When I told him why I was really there he kind of gave me this look like he didn't have the heart to turn me down and muttered some nonsense about a wedding present then started going on about how they were going to have to work the ranch and there'd be no pampering here, blah blah blah. Long story short he agreed to do it. Also, did you know that he has a fucking griffon?! I saw it on my way out. Okay, I saw it on my way in too, but I figured asking him about it would probably just make him paranoid."
I giggled a little about the griffin, getting a mental picture of a Christmas card with Jack in a Santa hat next to a creature of legend which was being harassed by mine and Gunnar's sons. It will probably never happen in real life, but it happened in my head and you know what? That's good enough for me. "Awwww, that is the cutest mental picture ever, our boys growing up with a griffon. Adorable." I sighed, wistful and relieved. "As for the hard work, good. They need to get used to that early." I'm completely expecting my sons to grow up to be badasses. Being a badass requires work. "That's a huge relief though, I've been worrying outta my mind wondering who else would be qualified to guard these kids." I still haven't come up with anyone else who isn't already busy. "So... should I hook you up with a plane ticket over here?" I was really hoping the answer was yes. "I'll be honest, I really think we could use your eyes for this sorta thing." In case we had to get sneaky about getting this machine out, I figured it would be great to have him around for recon. Also, just because. "I mean, I'm not sure why they didn't think something that said it stored souls wasn't worth bringing back, but I'm wondering what else they missed." And I told him what I'd been thinking for the past few days, mumbling quietly that I missed him.
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea," he answered. "I'll try this learning-German-on-a-plane thing and see how it works out." And he muttered he missed me too, and was gonna go figure out which airport I should get him a flight out of.