"This game is hardly fair," Loki protested as the barkeep slid the next tray of drinks across the table towards them. "All of you are short-lived mortals, whereas I am a god of Asgard."
His drinking companions were less impressed than could perhaps be expected; but then again, one of them dealt with minor gods for a living, a second was dedicated to wielding holy weapons in pursuit of the extermination of demons, and the third was Fai, who is difficult to shock.
"How does that make the game unfair, exactly?" Fai asked dryly as he drew his share over to him. One large pint glass of rich golden ale, and a host of smaller shotglasses whose deep black liquid promised a much faster road to drunkenness. "Wouldn't that give you the advantage?"
"Yes, but this is a game that penalizes richness of experience," Loki snorted. "I have lived over a thousand of your Midgardian years, and in that time I have seen and done such things as would haunt your wildest dreams or nightmares. It would be more difficult, indeed, to say things that I have never done."
"That's exactly the point," Subaru piped up, lining up all of his shotglasses with obsessive precision. "That's why it's called the 'I've Never' game. If you've never done the thing that was said, you don't have to drink. If you've done it, you have to drink. Besides, what are you complaining about? You're an Asgardian, you hardly get drunk anyway."
"That's only because these pathetic Midgardian spirits are hardly worth the water it takes to piss them out," Loki shot back. "It's merely the principle that I'm objecting to. A game which places me at an unfair disadvantage -"
"Cut the whining, Loki," their fourth companion interrupted, leaning forward to emphasize his words. Black hair fell across his brow, framed his jaw; he would have been quite a beautiful young man if not for the icy hardness of his gaze. "Are you in, or out?"
Loki rolled his eyes. "In," he said. "If you'll be so good as to remove that stick from your ass, Kanda."
Smiles all around. In the past few months, as the CLAMP Support Group And Mutual Aid Society had really settled in, they had loosened and expanded their boundaries somewhat. Although the group had initially been founded for members of the CLAMP multiverse to meet, commiserate, and drink themselves into comas, they had grown more inclusive over time. Any of the society members could bring guests along with them into the bar; Allen and Kanda had been regulars ever since Tachibana had invited them in two months ago.
As for Loki... well, nobody had invited Loki; it seemed he had invited himself, dropping casually in one day and resisting the efforts of all of the bouncers (to say nothing of the burly, enthusiastically violent club members themselves) to throw him out. They'd grown to tolerate him; he told a good story (when he wasn't being insufferably full of himself) and he knew a hell of a lot of things he shouldn't have.
Besides, Fai thought, hiding a smile by pressing his hand over his mouth as he glanced around the table, he was a lot of fun.
"House rules, as usual," Subaru said, carefully moving his shotglasses into a perfect square pattern on the table. "Counting all incarnations, but not fanfics, or unfulfilled desires or wishes. No repetitions, but clarifications are allowed if it changes the answer. First one to pass out loses."
"Are we going around in order?" Fai asked. They sat foursquare around the small table, Fai across from Loki and Subaru across from Kanda. Some of their other friends sat at nearby tables - Watanuki and Doumeki were at the next one over, engaging in what was either footsie sex under the table or possibly amateur vasectomies, judging by the scowls - while Syaoran sat nearby pretending he didn't know any of them. Kurogane was nowhere to be seen, but that wasn't unusual; he generally preferred not to participate in these contests, since he always ended up breaking things and/or setting them on fire.
"No, anyone who has one can say it," Subaru replied. "The only rule is that you can't go twice in a row. I'll go first, okay?"
Heads nodded; three dark, one fair. Subaru took a breath, and pulled the first shot over to him. "I've never," he said, "worn women's clothing."
A strong opening gambit. Fai, Subaru, and Loki all groaned and reached for their glasses, taking a shot. So, Fai noticed, did Syaoran and Doumeki. Watanuki jumped in his chair - exactly as though he'd been kicked under the table - and glared at his boyfriend. "What?" he demanded. "They're unisex!"
"I've never," Kanda spoke up next, taking control of the game quickly as he usually did. "I've never cast a magic spell."
Fai, Subaru, and Loki all drank. Loki scoffed. "What, never?" he said. "What about those supernatural attacks you do? Or, for that matter, your unnatural healing? In what way do those not count?"
"That's not magic, that's Innocence," Kanda objected, with the precision of a lawyer.
"Well, if we're going to nitpick, mine isn't magic either," Loki snapped. "It's merely science which is advanced beyond your mortal ken -"
"And mine isn't magic, it's Shintoism," Subaru volunteered helpfully.
Fai laughed. "Don't look at me," he said. "Mine's just magic."
"All right, all right," Kanda yielded with grudging bad grace. He picked up one of the shotglasses and downed it, a sullen scowl setting easily over his face.
"Me next," Fai said. "I've never... gotten a parking ticket."
No one drank. They gave him incredulous looks. "Is that even a thing?" Subaru asked. "Do any of us even drive? Do they even havecars where you come from?"
"It's just what you say for this game," Fai said. "It's traditional."
"I've never," Loki spoke up suddenly, and the rest of them winced and braced themselves. Loki always went for the hard hitters. "I've never had an eye torn out."
A collective sigh; Fai, Subaru, and Kanda all drank. Kanda swallowed and set his glass down with a clang, then raised one finger. "I've never had an eye torn out... by someone I care about," he parried.
Subaru made a face, then drank again. Fai protested. "I don't think I should have to drink twice, it was only the one eye," he said.
"Well, it would pretty much have to be, wouldn't it?" Subaru asked. "You've only got two, it's not like you could go around losing them indefinitely."
"Trust me, you don't want to know," Kanda said darkly. Reluctantly, Fai drank.
"I've never," Subaru said abruptly. "I've never been locked up underground and tortured for years on end."
Kanda and Loki both glared at him, then reached for their drinks. "Does it count if it's outdoors or in a tower?" Fai asked.
"He did specify underground," Kanda pointed out, and Subaru was reminded once again of why he put up with these guys. They had a way of making his life seem not quite so bad; and wasn't that the whole point?
"I've never had a twin," Loki said. Subaru and Fai both reached for their drinks; out of the corner of his eye, he saw that Syaoran had too.
"I've never had a sibling violently killed," Kanda threw in.
"Hey!" Fai and Subaru said in unison. "Isn't that repetition? I just said I had a twin!" Fai said.
"This is CLAMP, having a twin automatically means violent sibling death," Subaru added.
"Not necessarily," Kanda smirked. "Holitsuba, Syaoran and Syaoron; Kobato, the landlady's daughters; Man of 20 Faces, Akira's mothers; Chobits, Freya and Elda..."
"All right, all right," Fai groaned. He and Subaru both drank. So, to their surprise, did Loki.
"Didn't we see your brother on the news last night, Loki?" Subaru asked. "He looked pretty not-dead to me."
"It was only a temporary death," Loki excused himself. Fai boggled.
"How do you arrange for a death to be only temporary?" he demanded.
"Superheroes," Kanda said briefly. "I've never been sexually assaulted."
Subaru choked on his drink. "Isn't that kind of a sensitive topic?" Fai said in a slightly strangled tone.
"Oh please, like the underground bunker torture and the eye-gouging weren't sensitive topics?" Loki sneered, and downed his shot. Somewhat gloomily, Subaru followed suit.
"I've never... I've never been adopted," Subaru spoke up. Fai and Loki both winced, and drank.
"I've never killed my father," Fai said, getting his in quickly. Loki rolled his eyes, and drank again. He was more than halfway through his row of shots already.
Loki straightened up, setting his drink down with a slight gasp. "I've never," he said with a slight rasp. "I've never slept with someone related to me."
No one moved for their glasses. In the background, Fai saw Syaoran sigh massively, then pick up his drink. "What, seriously?" Loki demanded.
"No fanfics - it was in the rules," Fai shot back.
"I don't even have any relatives," Kanda said.
"Well, neither do I, any more," Subaru said gloomily.
"Trust me, you're not missing much," Loki muttered.
"I've never killed my best friend," Fai said, loudly and firmly. Loki, Subaru and Kanda all took a drink.
"I've never... been in love with a man," Loki said.
Fai, Subaru and - after a moment's hesitation, Kanda - all drank. "Well, she was a man after," he grumbled.
Loki didn't move for his glass, and Fai shot him a look of disbelief. "Seriously?" he said. "Ten centuries of varying experience and you've never slept with a man, not even once?"
"I specified love," Loki shot back. "I contend that I've never been in love with anyone, man or woman. I'm evil, remember?" He raised his hands and smirked.
"Oh, sure, you think that now," Subaru grumbled, "but just wait. At the eleventh hour it'll come out that you were actually doing it for love all along, and you were just secretly misunderstood, and then you'll die a tragic hero and everyone will feel sorry for you."
Loki spluttered. "Are you jesting?" he demanded. "What kind of a lack-witted half-brained hack of a writer would use such a cheap trick?"
"Twice?" Fai asks brightly.
In one of the private back rooms, Taishakuten and Seishirou simultaneously sneezed.
"I've never drunk another person's blood," Kanda said, interrupting the literary criticism.
Fai, Subaru, and Loki all drank. Fai raised an eyebrow at Loki. "Really?" he said.
"Well, more eating than drinking per se," Loki temporized. "But the heart still had some blood in it, even if it was a bit gamey."
That got everyone's attention. "Heart? Whose heart?" said Kanda.
"How should I know?" Loki said. "It was merely a heart I happened to find. The owner was already dead and half-roasted, and I thought -"
"Why did you eat a heart you just found lying around?" Subaru demanded, shocked and outraged.
Loki sneered at him. "I don't feel you're in much of a position to criticize my dietary habits, seeing as you're a vampire."
"That's exactly why!" Subaru leaned over the table, hands gripping the edge tightly. "Do you usually just pick your food off the ground like that? That's disgusting. It's unhygenic."
Fai buried his head in his hands. In the corner of his eye, he saw Syaoran resignedly reaching for another drink.
"Well, anyway, I've never attempted genocide," Subaru said. He saw Fai opening his mouth to ask and clarified, "Where 'genocide' is defined as killing or destroying an entire realm, planet, or race of people."
Loki took a drink. Kanda resisted. "Oh, come on! They were only Akuma, they were bent on the destruction of all humanity!"
"Still counts," Subaru said firmly.
"Fine," Kanda grumbled, and drank. "I've never succeeded at genocide."
Fai sighed and took a drink.
"I've never," Loki said, and he tipped his chair back on two legs. "I've never told a lie."
"That's cheap," Fai objected, even as he reached for a glass. "Everybody's told a lie at some point."
"Not me. I'm as honest as a newborn babe," Loki says, eyes shining with sincerity.
"You are so full of shit," Kanda grumbles.
"Come on, drink your share," Subaru urges.
"Well, if it will appease you," Loki sniffed, and quaffed a drink. "Very well. I've never hurt anyone I loved."
"Can't go twice inna row," Subaru objected, beginning to get a bit muzzy around the edges.
"Bullshit!" Kanda slammed his glass on the table. "You're just trying to get us all to drink at the same rate as you, 'cause we're mortal and you're not. At least," he amended after a moment's thought, "we're sort of mortal."
"I never claimed to be the god of fairness," Loki shot back.
"Fine," Kanda said. "I've never been a tree."
Loki scowled, and drank. Subaru shuddered. "Not quite," he said. "It was close, though."
"I've never had my mouth sewn shut," Fai volunteered. Loki drank again. He was almost at the end of his row of shots, and Fai helpfully pushed over a few from his own stash.
"I've never had sex with an animal," Kanda said.
("Mokona is fully insertable!" a faint voice piped up from the background.)
"I've never given birth to an animal," Subaru added when the Asgardian was mid-shot. Loki inhaled, and coughed up a lungful of liquor.
"Oh, come on!" he protested. "Enough with the horse already! It was centuries ago, this pitiful island had not yet even signed its magna carta when it was over and done! And yet somehow every time I meet someone new in this benighted realm, the very first thing they ask me, well, after the 'Loki, please don't kill me' part, it's always 'So, Loki, is it true about the horse thing?' Will you all just get over the horse!"
"Uh," Subaru said.
"Noooo," Fai said, not even bothering to stifle his grin.
"It's pretty unique," Kanda said. "It tends to stick in the mind."
"I've never been pregnant," Fai said loudly, cutting off whatever the infuriated god was about to say next.
Loki drank, but not without a heavily martyred expression. "Now you're all just ganging up on me."
"Yeah, that's because you're the only one here who's not getting drunk with all the alcohol you're putting away," Subaru said. He had to prop up his head on his fist in order to keep from listing over the edge of his chair. Subaru was the loser of these competitions more often than not, if only because he had only a human alcohol tolerance; Loki was a god, Kanda had an inhuman metabolism, and Fai... well, Subaru had no idea what was up with Fai, but he could go through sake like water and barely feel a thing.
"Neither is Kanda!" Loki started to object. "Why don't you all -"
"I've never been female," Kanda said quickly, deflecting attention from himself.
"Oh, come now! That's blatant repetition," Loki complained. "We just did pregnant, how could I possibly have been pregnant if I wasn't female?"
"You'd be surprised," Fai and Subaru said in unison.
Loki glared around at the lot of them. "I've had enough of this," he said. "I won't sit here to be ganged up on by a bunch of muspel - mortalsh like you."
He pushed his chair back and climbed slowly to his feet, drawing up to his full height and looking down on each of them from across the arched bridge of his nose. "I am Loki Odinsson, Prince of Asgard, he enunciated clearly. "Magus exemplar. God of mischief and cunning. Slayer of Laufey, king of the Jotunn. Brother of Mighty Thor, God of Thunder, wielder of mighty Mjolnir. I will not..."
And with that his eyes rolled back in his head, and he slumped forward over the table. His drinking companions stared at him in disbelief, before one by one they collapsed like puppets with their strings cut and joined him.
From the next table over, Doumeki and Watanuki stared at the suddenly silent drinking party. (Syaoran had dropped with his head in his arms some time ago, although it was unclear whether he had passed out from alcohol or merely existential despair.) "What just happened?" Watanuki demanded. "I didn't even think that Kanda could get drunk."
"Mokona spiked their drinks!" Mokona hopped up onto the table, bouncing from one person's head to the next with its usual manic cheer. "It's no fun unless everybody gets drunk!"
"Well, now someone's gonna have to haul their asses home," Watanuki grumbled. "Or at least to the back room." Drunken stupors were common enough in this club - that was the whole reason they'd chose to base their location on a bar, after all - that they kept a row of quiet, carefully darkened cubicles in the back with their own cots and, if necessary, built-in restraints.
"No problem!" Mokona said cheerfully. "I'll go let their boyfriends know to come pick their hunny-bunnies up!"
"It's Fai," Doumeki said suddenly. "And Loki. And Subaru."
"Yeah, so?" Watanuki shot back. "That's the usual crew, they're always in here making pests of themselves on Thursdays."
"So," Doumeki said, "we're going to have Kamui in here. And Kurogane. And Thor. At once. Allen's not a problem, but..."
"...you've got a point," Watanuki said, sliding his legs back from the other side of the table and coming quickly and a bit unsteadily to his feet. "Barkeep, check please."
The bartender came over with a clipboard, a pen and a sour expression. "Dunno why you ever even ask for your tab," he grumbled. "You only ever pay in magical thingamajigs."
"A wish can only be fulfilled with something of equal value," Watanuki proclaimed airily. "And right now, my wish is to be drunk enough to forget this whole disturbing night ever happened. See you later, Doumeki." He flickered and vanished, leaving only a flutter in the air like the wings of a passing bird.
The noise level of the bar dropped suddenly, and Doumeki glanced over to see that Kurogane and Kamui had entered the bar - fetched by Mokona, no doubt - and were now approaching the table with their passed-out boyfriends from opposite sides of the room, glaring at each other. The tension in the air ratcheted up with each step they took.
"Forsooth, mortals!" a cheerful voice boomed out from the entrance of the bar. "Whither my brother, Loki? For I have heard that he was indulging in drunken cavortions here tonight! If any of you low-life rogues have laid a hand on him inappropriately, you shall pay!"
Doumeki considered leaving. Briefly. Then he settled back in his seat facing the main room, and pulled a container of popcorn to hand.