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Every Conversation a Negotiation

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Psyche and Dionysus
"He left me."

Robert sighs, rubs the bridge of his nose, and wishes he could have a drink. He supposes maybe he should be proud of himself for not ordering one, but really he'd just rather the kid was put out of his misery already. "You've said that already. Twice."

"You don't understand. He left me."

Robert just raises his eyebrows and waits while the guy tips back another shot of whiskey. But he doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Robert sighs again, trying not to think about how much "better" he was at this when all he had to do was give people liquor. "Look, he's Eros, what did you expect he was--"

"No. No. You're not... you're not listening. It's not like, like I tried to keep him to myself. I knew who he was from the beginning, okay? I knew he had a job to do and that he damn well loved doing it. I didn't care about the sex and the orgies and his mother's goddamn private purposes for him. I didn't care about any of the women or the other men or, or...not any of it. We were fine. We were happy. He came back for me when I ..."  The kid's crying now, though he doesn't seem to notice. He does another couple shots of whiskey and tries again. "All that time, and then people stop worshiping. And I could tell he was getting antsy, we all were. But then one day, he gives me this look as he's going out. Doesn't say a goddamn word and he just goes. And never. Fucking. Comes. Back."

There don't seem to be any words left. Robert pats him awkwardly on the shoulder for a moment. It does seem like the perfect in, anyway. "Well, look. Why don't you come with me to Portland. There's still a few of us  left, banging around. Getting out would be good for you. Some fresh sea air, good music, y'know."

"No."

Of course not. "C'mon. What are you even doing in this podunk nowhere town in west Texas?"

"Nothing." The way he says it makes it an answer, whole and complete on its own. Though he seems to realize something a moment later. "Why aren't you drinking? You drink. You're the goddamn god of drinking, and I'm fucking drunk and you're clearer than a fucking clear day."

Robert looks him in the eye. "Psyche--"

"Lee. My name is Lee now. And I'll thank you kindly to keep it to yourself."

Robert really wants that drink now, but he doesn't touch one, and he doesn't throttle Lee. "Ok. Lee. Things change. The world keeps spinning, time keeps running--"

"The Fates keep fucking with us," Lee mutters.

"The Fates passed on."

"Bullshit. Their loom keeps looming. Or weaving. Or. Whatever." He takes another shot of whiskey.

Robert grinds his teeth a little but somehow manages to continue to sound comforting. Maybe hitting him over the head with the whiskey bottle would work better. "Fine. The thing is... You gotta get out and do something. Anything. You're going stagnant here. Your liver is probably pickled by now. You're unhappy..."

"I'm happy. Who's unhappy? You bring up sad times in my life and expect me to laugh along? I like it here. I'm fine."

"You're the one that decided to tell me all about it when you saw me," Robert says gently. Unfortunately he knows all too well that a person can't get help unless they want it for themselves. "But ok. If you wanna stay here... Look. You change your mind, I'm at the Governor, ok?" He pulls out a card with his cell on it and slides it over. "I have a plane to catch..."

Lee looks up when he stands, looking a little apologetic, eyes still blood shot, still swimming in tears. "It was good seeing you again."

Robert just nods and pats him on the shoulder as he leaves.

 

Psyche and Hermes
"Not you too," Lee says as I step up to the bar beside him.

I don't mind. I've been getting that an awful lot lately. "Me first, actually." Lee just blinks at him. "What, you didn't think Robbie and the others were just going to show up in Portland without an invitation, did you?" Or a nudge. Or three.

Course, this one could be the death of me. If I'm not careful enough, anyway.

"What the hell are y'all doing in Maine anyway?" Lee tries to mask his curiosity by taking a swig of beer, but his eyes are still on me. I get the feeling he's trying to imagine us all sitting down to a dinner of fresh lobster.

I chuckle. "Oregon, not Maine. And to be honest, we're not doing anything. It's all rather relaxing." I gesture to the bartender for a drink, and for a refresher for Lee. He seems to be going through his pretty quickly.

He rolls his eyes. "You? Doing nothing? You can't even hold still for five minutes."

I'd be insulted if it weren't true. But it's also his vain attempt at changing the subject. "I'm not saying you have to stay. But you're miserable here, completely secluded."

"I'm happy in my seclusion.  Blissful even. Certainly chipper. Maybe even merry. I like that one. I'm merry." He almost sounds convincing, especially since he's drinking. But I know him better than that, I see the way the corner of his mouth curls in the barest mimicry of a smile. Bitter and hurt roll off him in waves. A few smooth gulps and he’s nearly ready for a third beer.

And I thought Apollo spent too long grieving. At least he'd pretended to move on, and managed to actually carry on even though it was obvious he was a little... absent. Had I realized Psyche was doing this poorly, I would have approached him sooner.

I shake my head and sip my drink. "I'd call this a living tomb, except that would require you to live." His jaw clenches, emotions passing openly through his eyes. Dammit. He's softening, just a little, but I've totally pushed him in the wrong direction for him to really listen to me. The best I can hope for now is hooking him a little better, and sending someone else to rope him in. Not that I've got a lot of options left. "Look, even Pandora's coming out for a visit. You always got on with her, back then. She's lost none of her sweetness--"

"Stop." Lee doesn't bother looking up at him, maybe because he just got the burger he'd ordered for lunch, maybe because he'd have to admit that I'm right. He takes a bite, and I can tell from the look on his face it's lost its taste in the mire of his thoughts.

"What? I know she'll want to see --"

"Just stop." He chews for a minute, takes another long swallow of his beer, and fixes me with a tight glare. I think he might just be considering hitting me. Hard. And in the face. "Don't feed me that line like you think I can't tell you're just trying to feed me the concept of eternal hope. All respect to Pandora and Hades, but hope can go to fucking hell."

Riiiight. I'm going to have to rethink this. I hold up my hands defensively. "Ok, ok. I get the point. Just know some of us still think of you from time to time. Worry about you." He still looks at me funny, but it's less sure. "I'll see you around, ok?"

I hate to leave him there, I do. But he just waves me off, and even a god can only do so much.

 

Dionysus and Eros
Ewan smiles, broad and rich and promising, more because that's how he always smiles now than anything. Not to say he isn't happy to see Dionysus, of course. "You're looking quite well," Ewan says, leading him through the club and trying to see if his old friend has his eyes on anyone in particular. Dionysus keeps his eyes to himself, though, and isn't that just peculiar? "Can I get you anything? Girls? Boys? Something to drink? Wine..."

"Nothing, thank you Eros. Or rather, Ewan."

That makes him pause. "Nothing, nothing at all?" He can't help but stare wide eyed.

Dionysus sighs like he wants to take Ewan up on his offer. "I've been sober for nearly a century."

"Are you sure you're Dionysus?"

Ewan knows the answer by the way his eye twitches just a little. "It's Robert, now, but yes, I'm still me."

"Oh. Well. Fair enough. Things they are a changin', or so Matthew keeps telling me. He's still a busy little bee though isn't he?" Ewan motions to his bartender. A beer for him and a water for Robert -- after all, just because the man isn't drinking alcohol doesn't mean he should be a bad host. "So what brings you to Portland?"

"Matthew," Robert says as they sit, sounding somewhere between amused and annoyed. "He's gotten it into his head that there ought to be a family reunion or something."

"And you think he's up to something?" It isn't out of the question, of course. It isn't as though Hermes was ever just a messenger, what with being a god of thieves and liars and sheer cunning; there wasn't a conman or thief in all the world to dream the best jobs in the world whose dream didn't come from him.

But Robert just shrugs, casual and relaxed. "So far things are, how would he put it... on the level. There's not many of us left, I don't think he'd get much out of playing us."

"I suppose that's true." The bartender sets their drinks on the table and they're quiet for a moment as they take a sip. "So what brings you here, then. Just a  friendly hullo? Or is there a family barbecue I'm supposed to attend?" Robert fixes him with a serious look and takes another sip. "What?" Ewan thinks it comes off sounding worried, instead of defensive, but lets face it -- he's a fan of the word naughty for more than just the one reason. Robert quirks an eyebrow and just like that he understands. "Oh. Well. If Matthew is bringing him to Portland as well I can keep to myself. Or leave town, if you prefer. No need to start a feud or anything."

Robert rubs his temple and Ewan thinks that maybe he can see his eye twitching again. "That's really not the point."

"You can't honestly expect--"

"Have you seen him lately?"

"I... No." And with good reason, but there's no point getting into that. Ewan takes a long swallow of beer and prays this conversation is short and that the god sitting across from him doesn't ask so many questions. He thinks maybe he liked it better when Dionysus was a drunk...

"You've done a real number on him," Robert says, and it's frightening he can sound threatening and sympathetic at the same time.

"I know but--"

"If you cared about him at all, you'd set things right." It should be so simple, the way Robert says it, but it isn't, so what is Ewan supposed to say? He opens his mouth hoping to say something, anything, but nothing comes out. "Then give him some closure. He can't go one like this, Ewan, he really can't."

Ewan's chest tightens, just like that, all for a tiny little word like closure. Robert sighs, but this time there's no trace of annoyance or frustration. He stands and squeezes Ewan's shoulder for a moment.

"Look, I'm meeting Matt for lunch... I'm sure he'd be glad to see you. Y'know. If you wanna talk." He turns to go, and looks a little surprise  when Ewan gets up to come with him. "I guess the times really are a changin'. Now. Lets hope Matthew hasn't got another bar in mind..."