Odin took in a long puff from his pipe. Even though he'd made a pact with Pedri and no longer needed it, it had a calming effect on him. One of the side effects of making a deal with the demon was that any time he was angry or upset, his skin would turn ashen and violet and leathery.

But anything he touched died./p

When he went to collect florem mortem from the garden, the flowers wilted and he decided that even if it was more difficult, he would wear thick gloves so that the petals were preserved.

He pulled his long coat tighter around himself as the chilly breeze broke through the fabric.

The door opened and shut and a fuming Ava paced back and forth on the porch.

"What's wr-wrong, Firefly?" The nickname had become common between them.

"It's TITAN," she growled.

"When i-is it n-not," he took another drag, watching the purple smoke shift and disappear in the wind.

"They've made another attack on a civilian planet. The government didn't want TITAN there but he took the place anyway. About 700,000 fatalities." She tugged angrily at her hair. Then turned her anger on the railing. She gripped the wooden edge and it charred and blackened before catching fire. Ava drew back and cursed, pulling a dark sleeve up to pat out the flames.

"Odin watched her sleeve as it charred against her wrist. It was hard to tell in the fading light, but he could only just see it.

"I just.. I don't know what to do." She wrapped her arms around herself. "Every time we make a move, he's one step ahead of us."Her eyes were slanted, as they often were when she was angry or upset, and Odin suddenly realized that he was no longer cold.

"We can't stop h-him every time he m-makes an at-tack. He has the l-largest army i-in the galaxy, Ava. If w-we wanted to stop all th-the followers, th-there would have to be two o-of us stationed at every p-planet." Odin leaned away from the wall, pulling his notebook from his pocket. He pulled off a glove with his teeth and flipped to the page listing the planets. "Coordinates?"

"0702," she threaded her hands through her hair again and Odin wrote T next to the numbers.

"Look… Ava…" He took a deep breath, smoke drifting past the glowing girl who had the air of frustration and helplessness. "I know y-you're mad and aggravated, but w-we can't win every battle."

"I know, I just… I wish we could." She sunk to the steps in defeat. "I'm supposed to beat this godly being and I just… Sometimes I just wish I'd have denied the pact. I wish I'd never boarded your ship." He sat next to her, hands tucked into his pockets. "… I wish I'd never been born."

He looked at her for long moment and reached for her hand. "If you weren't h-here, none of those p-planets we saved w-would still b-be there. Strat-tegos Six would still b-be chasing us and G-Gil wouldn't have agreed to h-help us stop TITAN. I would b-be at my home planet, Maggie would probably still be looking for Ranunc-culae."

Ava stared at him and he thought of saying more, but Ava squeezed his hand. She jumped and turned her fiery gaze to their hands and Odin was wondering what was wrong when- "You're not being burned."

"And y-your skin isn't b-blackening." Or whatever happens when I touch a person.

She turned to him and smiled and he gave her a lopsided yet still shocked smirk.

I can have contact with someone else and it won't hurt them. He thought, Maybe this is another side effect from Pedri. His wife does happen to have a pact with Ava.

It looked like she came to the same realization because her face glowed brighter with a blush.

"Well, at least I know I won't hurt you if I try to help you out with bandages."

Her mind is still on the battlefield. Odin looked out to the stars, now visible. "You know," he said, "there a-are some advantages t-to that. Not hurting e-each other I mean. I'm not so sure ab-bout the others, but it r-really helps me."

She wrapped her arm around her knees, one hand still occupied by Odin's, and rested her cheek on them as she gave him a quizzical look, stars help him if that didn't make his heart flutter. "U-uh, nevermind." Oh stars. He pulled the collar of his coat higher onto his neck in an attempt to hide his blush.

"You mean like when you have to hang me from branches?" She smiled at his slight discomfort and he offered an uneasy grin.

"Yeah, just like that."