Distant Relatives

“Excuses me.” The tall, lithe stranger asked as he walked into the diner.

Talia looked up at the man. Even with his raven black hair he had a European vibe to him; like Dracula, but the accent wasn’t right. His clothes were nice, if a bit generic, almost like he had taken an outfit directly from a magazine. Everything was almost too clean, from his stylist shoes and jeans to the way his shirt had the top button undone. His look was like it had never been worn but the moment he walked into the diner.

“Yes?” She tucked a stray strand of her dirty blonde hair behind her ear.

“I am needing the…” He mimed eating as his English ran out.

“Breakfast?” She offered.

“Yes.”

His smile made her knees weak. That hadn’t happened in a long time. She knew better than to flirt with customers. This was just a pit stop on to bigger things, no one stayed unless they were stuck. Plus the scars on his lips didn’t look like they had a nice story attached to them.

“Just you?”

“More will come.” He nodded certainly.

“How many?”

He wrinkled his brow as he gazed up speculatively in consideration. His head bobbed from side to side as he ticked off a few fingers on his hand. “Trea.”

“Three?” Talia held up three fingers.

He nodded.

She led him to a corner booth in her section. “Would you like to order or wait for your friends?”

“Drink?” He offered.

“Sure.” She couldn’t help but smile. “What would you like?”

“Mjöd?”

“Sorry, I don’t know what that is.”

His face scrunched up as he thought about it. He looked at the menu in her hand and motioned to it. She gave his the plastic sheet, which he examined for a moment, and then flipped over. He studied the menu intently, mostly the pictures, and then set it down on the table.

“Milk.” He pointed to the picture of a tall glass on the menu. “Eggs, bacon, and pancakes.”

“Got it.” Talia smiled and headed back to input the order.

It took her a moment to realize that his accent had practically disappeared by the time he had said the word ‘pancakes’. Maybe she had misjudged him for a tourist; he could just be some bored traveler playing tricks on her. It wouldn’t be the first time. She placed the order, grabbed a clean glass, and the pitcher of milk, and then headed back to the table. The process took less than a minute, but there were two other men at the table when she turned around. One was a larger red haired man with an impressive beard that barely fit into the booth and the other was an older man with a patch over his left eye.

They spoke a foreign language in a rapid speed. The other two had that same ‘too clean’ look to them, plus the one with the eye patch was older, but he had sort of an undeterminable age to him. There were some similar features between the large red head and older man, the same strong jawline and powerful ice blue eyes.

“Ah.” The ravenhaired customer clapped his hands as she approached.

Talia set the glass on the table and poured the milk as the three conversed. The word ‘mjöd’ was thrown around a few times, but she still had no idea what that was.

“Do you want some extra time to order?”

The older man made eye contact with her. There was something there she recognized, the shape of his cheeks, or possibly the bridge of his nose if it hadn’t been broken, looked familiar somehow. He took a deep breath and held her gaze. She jumped as something somehow shocked her tongue and ears at the same time.

“Yes.” The older man spoke now, his English was spot on. “May I have your name?”

She pointed to her nametag. “Talia.”

The raven haired customer laughed. “He means your surname.”

Talia slowly turned her head and looked at him. “You’re accent is gone.”

“Yours is horrible.” He chuckled.

“What?”

“Never you mind him.” The older man interrupted, his tone sounded exactly like her grandfather. “Your surname, please.”

“Lawsen.”

“Talia Lawsen. The first name is something of a mystery, but Lawsen is a bastardization of Lawsson.” He motioned for her to sit.

“Thank you, but I’m working.”

“True.” He leaned back against the booth and sighed. “Miss Lawsen, we are in need of your services.”

“I could tell you the specials.”

The raven haired man chuckled again.

“Maybe later.”

Talia looked at each of the three of them for a moment. “What are you implying?”

“I assure you, nothing uncouth.” The older man waved his hand dismissively. “We are, how would you say, distant relatives of yours, and are in need of your local knowledge.”

“I’m not exactly sure how I could help.” Talia crossed her arms and returned the stare. “My studio apartment isn’t exactly spacious.”

“Then let us shake hands as distant kin and part ways.” The older man extended his hand.

Talia looked at it for a moment, shrugged, and took the proffered hand. Something popped between her ears. She was no longer standing in the diner, but on a great open plain. It was the first true day of spring in what had been a long winter. The gentle breeze carried the welcoming smell of dinner along with the familiar scent of the home fire. She adjusted her shoulders, the axe strapped across her back was new, but well used. The trolls kept her in top form.

Odin let go of her hand. She rocked back on her heels, her breath came in short, ragged bursts. She knew them as she knew the stars. Odin, she looked at the older man. Thor, the large red head. Loki, the raven haired one. She curtseyed.

“Allfather, please excuse my rudeness.” She mumbled, and then realized she was speaking Old Norse.

“Your gift will soothe my injured pride.”

Odin reached over and touched Thor with the same hand he had used to shake hers with. Thor closed his eyes for a moment and then nodded. The process was repeated once more with Loki. There was another shock on her tongue and ears, but this one wasn’t as unexpected.

“What just happened?”

“We’ve been away for a long time.” Odin sighed, he nodded quickly for a moment, the broke his silence with a clap of his hands. “Now, how about some breakfast?”

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Filed under Short Fiction, Urban Fantasy

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