It was three in the morning and I was awake in bed, a beautiful woman to my left and my sweet boy to my right.
It’s always an awesome night when a gorgeous girl looked at my beautiful one and he had to let her down by informing her of his preference. Although, he did often enjoy the outcome of informing them of his lover’s Pan-sexuality. It might have been just me (spoiler: it was), but it was surprising how often their interest held when he introduced me.
But tonight was not my night. Generally, after an evening of Olympic-level bedroom cardio, I was at least relaxed enough to settle down and think about sleeping, but tonight was not one of those nights and I didn’t know why. Here I was awake, after giving this beautiful stranger an evening she wouldn’t forget, and another bone-melting night for my darling Derek.
I rose to answer the call of nature and stopped to get a drink on the way back to bed. Being me is thirsty work, after all.
That man, my boy as I called him, was Ganymede given new life. His skin was milk white, rich chocolate-brown hair, and lips that just begged to be kissed, and though he may be an irrepressible man’s man, he was a notorious cuddle slut. I couldn’t help but grin as he turned around and nuzzled into the neck of our glamorous groupie.
You can imagine my surprise, naked as I was, to hear a knock at the door. I changed from my hooves, put my horns away, and put on my robe. This hour? Got past security? I thought. Who could it possibly be? The idea that someone from the production studio was here at this hour would be hilarious if I wasn’t going to the door right now.
I looked over at the couch where Sven and Eirina were passed out on each other. I’d wake up to the drama, I’m sure; it’s happened before. They were both fully clothed, but the snuggle was real. Eirina was a girl with some history; it’s long and torturous, not only living the story, but her telling it. She never discussed it again, after the one time she got completely plastered on some sticky sweet pomegranate vodka and laid it all out for us. Suffice it to say, there’s a reason that 99% of the time, if she’s feeling amorous or horny, she reached for the ladies, and I was fine with that, we all were. Whatever makes my best girl happy was good enough for me. We just wanted her to feel good. However, she hated being seen in her “moments of weakness”, as she called them, and unfortunately, her coping mechanism usually involved punching Sven in the chest and accusing him of malicious snuggling. I’ve watched them for countless tipsy evenings now though, and she’s the one who was always reaching for him, not vice versa. He let her lead that dance.
I’d seen some shit, and I’d done some shit. The old days weren’t necessarily always good to me, but the wringer Eirina was put through changed her. She kept every male, my charming self included, at arm’s length, and when conscious she usually had some venom to spit when someone got too close. That’s her story to tell though, not mine.
When enough of Sven’s mead filled her cup, she could finally relax – and where she usually ended up relaxing was on Sven’s chest. They looked like such a good couple, and I hoped eventually Eros would find his way to them, when and if she was ready for something like that.
Sven, for his part, had always treated her like any other member of the band, even sometimes like a little sister when some drunk idiot wouldn’t leave her alone and she’s about to throw out some martial justice, and she hated it. There’d be an argument, he always fell back on: “It won’t help the band to have our female vocalist locked up.” Sven was good people, a real foundation for us, our own personal lightning rod for the overcharged personalities in Eirina and myself. He’s kind of like our own personal Norwegian Atlas, but rather than holding up the world, he’s holding the band at just the right level of tension. Sometimes with a well-placed question or comment, and sometimes knocking me between the horns to get me to shut up and listen for five seconds. He’s a fine herder of cats.
But the knocking continues and I didn’t have time to really think about band/family drama. It’d end up the way it always did, with awkward movements around the kitchen to avoid each other’s eyes and tension thick enough to cut with a butter knife for a day or two, then everything would be back to normal.
I opened the door, blinking as my eyes were stabbed by the light in the hallway. “Hello? Who’s there?”
Before me was a nightmare I never thought I would live to see. A gorgeous vision of my total destruction: all of five-foot-two, with wavy bleached blonde hair, a red dress that gave a perfect road map with that slit up to the hip, and a fur wrap that I was certain wasn’t a beast that had existed in any mortal memory.
My eyes widened as my drunken brain realized who this was. The anachronistic fashion was a dead giveaway – Clymene, the Titan of Fame and Renown, had taken to the Golden Age of Hollywood like a duck to water.
“Criminy, Clymene, the fuck are you doing here?” I said, pulling her out of the hall. “Our deal was supposed to help keep the lightning bolts off of my back, not give them satellite coordinates!”
She turned and looked at me with a pout, batting those big brown eyes. “Why so unhappy to see me? Does it really bother you that I came to see you once in four decades?”
It all came rushing back – Live Aid in Britain, 1985. I saw the effect those musicians were having on the causes that they cared about and I had resolved to do the same. It was the beginning of the times when celebrities could really raise awareness about their passion projects and I wanted in on the ground floor. Playing sold-out small clubs was nice, but I needed to get my message out to the world in general.
I called upon my shining contact to get me into Tartarus, since I didn’t have drachma to pay the toll for the other way. Thank me, the deal was very loosely worded, as while technically the river Lethe was not in this world, it’s still a body of water. Being clever had its upsides…sometimes.
I remembered breaking into Tartarus to find Clymene still chained down. She was a lot bigger then, having no reason to be mortal sized…yet. No sweet little blonde bombshell, more like the wrath of a grumpy Primordial given form.
“What’s wrong, goat boy, expecting an easy piece of ass to ravish and claim?” The voice was indignant, and given the humiliation the Titans suffered after their defeat, I couldn’t say I blamed her.
“I have never once taken a woman against her will. Some have taken a bit more convincing than others, but never against their will,” I said flatly.
“What do you want, beast god?” she asked, interrupting my defense.
“I come bearing gifts from the world above, and I have a deal to offer,” I said, pulling a bag off of my shoulder and setting down the boxes I was carrying to offer up a bottle of wine.
This was this point that she chose to take a more reasonable size. “What is it?” she said, too skeptical to take it from me.
“Modern wine, some fresh fruit right off the trees, though, I’m sorry I couldn’t bring some dancers to feed it to you, and some clothes by the most prestigious designers of the day.” I pulled each item out of my bag and the few clothing boxes I could carry and not raise suspicions.
“Tailors have prestige now? Who would have thought they’d give honors to those that cut and stitch…” she paused mid-sentence and her eyes went wide at the sight of all of the colors of clothing. “Such colors, such fabrics,” she breathed as her suspicion caught up with her wonder. “I’ve never seen anything like them. What do you want?”
Alright, Pan, make it or break it time.
“I need your help, specifically, I need your gift – your blessing, to put it bluntly,” I said. “In this time, people with prestige have power, the power to sway hearts and minds more than great thinkers do.”
“So why not go to Nike or Pheme? Why me?” Clymene asked, raising the obvious question.
“Well, that’s actually a fairly simple answer. I can’t,” I said, waving my right hand.
“Come on, wake up,” I said and from my hand slithered a long chain of lightning. Clymene recognized it for what it was almost immediately.
“Put that away, why would you bring one of those THINGS here?” she said, hissing at Jolt.
“Clymene, Clymene, hold on it’s not what you think, it’s not a finished bolt. This is Jolt. He’s a friend. Pet. Tool. Weapon…thing.”
Jolt coiled around my forearm like a python and looked at me as I called him a thing. He rewarded my description with an indignant zot noise, as if he were giving me a raspberry. “He’s still somewhat wild. I stole him off of Hephaestus’ forge.”
“And that’s why you can’t ask Nike or Pheme,” Clymene interrupted, seeing the reason I was here, a smug look on her face realizing I couldn’t make demands. I couldn’t even get caught being where I was.
“Give the Titaness a prize,” I said, gesturing towards the gifts I’d brought.
“So what, I help you get fame for all of this?” she looked over my offerings as if they were meager scraps, not the finest bits and pieces Beverly Hills could provide.
“Not enough.” She plopped down on a stone and crossed her arms turning her nose towards the ceiling.
“What will it take, Clymene?” I asked. “I am still a God of the wild places and I need help keeping my relevance.”
“I want more,” she demanded. “I want more like this.”
“How much more?” I asked, beginning to be slightly fearful of the mess I’d gotten myself into.
“I demand a tribute, of goods such as these, the finest things enjoyed by the most famous people,” she stopped to consider, “once a month.”
If I had been drinking anything, I would have choked on it. I could never put this much tribute together in a month AND avoid Hades’ notice sneaking it in here AND avoid the guards.
“Never going to happen. If I do that, then we both get caught and locked up here until the end of time,” I said, rejecting her demand. “I need help, but I need to stay alive and on the right side of Tartarus for this to be worth anything.”
“That sounds like your problem,” she replied, continuing to stare at the ceiling, not willing to concede her terms.
“How about this? Once a year when Persephone comes back, the place will be in a commotion for the Queen of the Underworld’s return, and I can slink in.”
“Done,” she smiled, and with that, our pact was sealed.
I became one of the most in-demand musicians anywhere and as long as I paid my tithe once a year, she was as good as her word.
It didn’t take long after my next show for the calls to come pouring in. Since then, I’ve been making my way and attracting the attention of the great and the good, to the beauty and the wonder of the wild places left in the world, and the increasing need for them to be protected.