Pan, are you even listening to me?” Clymene said, snapping her fingers under my nose.
I came back, having been lost in the dread of the moment, remembering what I did and thinking about what Granddad was going to have gnawing on my liver, and how many of them, once he found out Clymene was loose and walking the surface.
“Okay, sorry, I got lost at the point where you’re here. Not that it’s not good to see you again, but it’s mildly inconvenient, you being like fifteen yards from my boyfriend and all.”
“Well, I’m sorry I’m interrupting, but when Kronus says ‘jump’, you jump to, and when Kronus says ‘go out and make humans forget the Olympian traitors’, you do as you’re told.”
“HOW DOES THAT…” I realized that there were mortals present and asleep and should probably stay that way, and lowered my voice. “How is that my problem…oh…right,” I said, belatedly coming to the realization that I was, in fact, once again an Olympian god. “What do you want from me?” I slipped out of my robe and began to dress.
Clymene’s eyes widened, looking over my Olympian physique. “Well, if I wasn’t in such a rush…”
“And I weren’t part of other commitments,” I interjected. ”Pass.”
“So which one is the commitment?” she said, looking over toward my bed.
By this point, I was dressed enough to get out of the condo. “Come on, I know it’s been a few millennia since you’ve gotten any, but we have more important things in front of us.”
We ended up in a diner in downtown L.A., all Pulp Fiction-like. She loved my motorcycle from the moment she saw it, and there’s nowhere like California for a nighttime ride.
“Well, what do you want me to do, Clymene, hide you?” I asked, knowing that hiding her from the gods was a non-starter; there was no way she could live quietly.
“No, I know and you know that they’d find me eventually, and punishments delayed tend to be worse than if you just accept it,” she said, though I noted the disappointment in her voice.
“So what, I’m not the one you want trying to broker a deal, Clymene. I’m liable to end up right down there with you,” I said, unable to hide my concern.
My grandfather Zeus tended to be very all-or-nothing when he got angry. He either ignored it and walked on, or it was “RELEASE THE KRAKEN” (no, I tell a lie, that’s Uncle Poseidon), and I didn’t think two thousand plus years would really have changed his temperament much.
That I am aware of, Clymene didn’t side with either side in the Olympian rebellion: no gifts to the upstart, but no service to the sitting king, either. She just wanted to stay out of it, and I’m certain that’s why Kronus put her up to this – she does this, he forgives her past fence-sitting. Being indecisive in Olympus was not a good long-term strategy.
Not going to lie – in the last forty-five years, I had kind of become sweet on her. In another time, another place, she and I might have at least been a recurring booty call, maybe even a real relationship. Look I was in denial about my commitments, it took me…well, too long, to get this far with Derek.
“I want you to get me back in. If they just turn around, and I’m just..there, they won’t make it too harsh on me. I mean, I came back of my own accord.”
“That’s not how Zeus works. Any punishment you’d inflict on yourself isn’t a punishment in his eyes. I don’t have anyone I can call. I might have an idea, though.”
We got on my bike and I took her down to Laguna Beach, the same beach where all the angels went to hear the music in that one movie.
I pulled out my pan pipes and began to play. In a matter of minutes, a beautiful California morning began to get grey and misty, with a fog so thick you could watch it roll on the ground.
As I played, I could see it: the raven-headed ferry of my Sidhe friends. As soon as he pulled along the shallows, I walked out to meet the ferryman.
He looked back at me silently. He never was the talkative one. I looked at him then back at Clymene. “I need two for the Islands of Elysia.”
“The deal is for you and you alone,” he retorted. He was only ever willing to speak to me when I was trying to get more than I was promised.
“The promise was for me and my cargo.” I snapped back. I hated having to argue with this phantom. I so rarely won.
“A person is a passenger, not cargo,” he said, beginning to push away with his oar.
“What is the wording of our arrangement?” I asked, attempting to de-escalate. I didn’t want him angry with me.
“You and anything you carry. To be taken from any body of water to the nearest body of water to your desired location.”
I walked over to Clymene. “I’m sorry to do this, but to get you somewhere safe, you’re just going to have to play along.”
I knelt down and unceremoniously picked Clymene up and threw her over my shoulder, smiling at the nostalgic feeling of throwing a woman over my shoulder, something I haven’t done since I went raiding with the Vikings. Ahh, good times. Granted, the Vikings got me stuck in what would be later known as Canada, but it had still been a hell of a lot of fun.
As I splashed back to the ferry, I noticed something – the cloak and cowl moving in a way I had never seen before. Was he...laughing? In the many centuries since I won the enchantment that let me summon the bastard, I had never heard him laugh. I’m not sure if I should smile or be afraid.
When I stepped on to the ferry, he waved toward the seats. “Sit, sit. I would not have a woman travel on such a rocky surface.”
I didn’t know if that was an insult, but I put Clymene down and the ferryman began his voyage through the mist. It felt like hours – it always did – though it never was.
“The Shining City,” Clymene breathed, looking over to one side as we entered the Bay of Transitions. “Now that takes me back,” she said. She was one of the only people I know who might have ever been there. Not exactly the easiest place to get to, in the best of times, and since the Tuatha retreated from most of the rest of the world, it was even harder.
As we rounded the Bay, the ferryman always stopped to rest his arms and drink one cup of tea before he continued to my destination.
“Did you like it here?” I asked her, an idea forming in my semi-desperate brain.
“Oh yes, I used to have a grand time here in the spring, back when the old king would still throw parties for the spring youths and maidens. I wonder if his sons continued the tradition?”
Right as the ferryman began to push away from the dock, I lifted Clymene from her seat and tossed her from the boat onto the dock. The Shining Ones would not punish her for my action, and when they come to me, I’ll explain my actions.
“I hope you get to find out!” I yelled, rather pleased with my solution. “I’d like to return to Laguna Beach, please,” I said, enjoying what I thought was a clever answer to this debacle. He stopped rowing, and I knew an explanation was required before we moved so much as an inch in any direction. I gave him the abridged version, how she had been imprisoned for refusing to take a side, and eventually he picked up his oars again and began to row.
In the long run, I knew (I hoped) that Zeus wouldn’t risk angering the Tuatha De Danaan or the Shining Ones by coming after her, but it did mean that I’m going to have to face the music eventually. The Ferryman, being a phantom of a Sidhe spell, still understood the Sidhe ways. They were all very touchy about the idea of personal freedom, you know, real death before imprisonment types, and while he could have stranded me and left me to drown in the Bay of Transitions, I arrived safely home. I was scolded thoroughly and told that I would drown or wash up somewhere if I did something like that again. All in a night’s work.
I was able to return home in time to witness the awkward separation of Sven and Eirina, and offer breakfast to our guest. I do like a happy ending, and with the smile I got from the previous night’s bedfellows I might get one again.