[ Master Post ]
Title: Blessings of Drunkenness
Characters: Nico ♂, Lucian ♂, Ometochtli ♂, Yin (Magdalene) ♀, Gabriel (mentioned) ♅, Raven’s Daughters (mentioned) ♀
Rating: T (L2 N0 S0 V1 D1)
Warnings: Weird cultural stereotypes, bizarre interpretations of Mexica mythology, intentional cultural appropriation by trickster deities, vast quantities of alcohol, mentions of mythological violent death
Notes: Nico’s doing a gig at a political event that suddenly spawns a neverending spring of booze, courtesy of the Mexica gods of drunken shenanigans. If you read a lot of my stuff, you’ll recognise a couple of faces in the crowd, pretty early on. And, yes, Lucian has an accent that occasionally gets in his way.
For centuries, the invaders from the east pushed across the continent, destroying the local nations, slaughtering the populace, and trapping the survivors in tiny pockets of land they generously permitted the inhabitants to refer to as ‘nations’, but without full sovereignty or reasonable trade terms. The new nation of the invaders had nearly smothered the original nations, relegating them to roles as tourist attractions and pop culture curiosities.
But, one nation had decided to push back against the invaders, to demand independent international recognition and freedom from the invaders’ laws about what food, medicine, and technology was permitted to cross their borders. Local activists scheduled a three-day festival, at a resort deep in the desert, intended to raise awareness of their plight. They invited foreign entertainers to perform, between the speeches and presentations. It was the kind of campaign that needed a few big names to draw eyes to it, and to the local activists who were actually running it. Regardless of the understandably-low local opinion of his father, Nico was there to help, no strings attached.
So far, so good. He’d mostly kept his mouth shut, aside from introducing the local speakers to the crowd and the media. They knew what they needed. They knew what they wanted to say. He was just there to make sure someone was listening, and as he’d said to Lucian, earlier, that was crap — it shouldn’t have been necessary.
Lucian and Gabriel had come with him, which wasn’t particularly surprising. Gabriel was pretty much stapled to his side, due to some stupid promise the angel had made to his mother, and Lucian… Lucian’s opinions on why Nico couldn’t be left to his own devices were legendary among the Magdalenes. Still, they seemed to be blending in as well as they could, which had always been less effort for Lucian. Gabriel just flickered in and out of the edges of people’s perception, telling strange secrets and dodging cameras. Lucian just sat at the bar, flirting with everything that looked his way.
There were some strange faces in the crowd — a man who caught far too many eyes, his long hair the colours of the sea; a group of girls in black ruffles who looked like they spoke in time, hopping and shuffling, nudging each other like a flock of birds; the slim women, in sage and slate and tan, who danced in a line winding through the crowd like a serpent — and all of them with that ghost of a glow that hung around Gabriel and Lucian. Some, like the girls in black, glowed strongly, but Nico didn’t think most of the crowd could see what he saw. He wondered how they saw him, if he was even worth noticing. Lucian’s friends had seemed to think he was a power in his own right, but he’d shaken hands with one of them, before the guy had noticed. It was just strange to see so many bright faces in the crowd.
And then Yin was at his side, leaning over the edge of the booth. "Boss, something’s not right."
Nico tipped his chin up, encouraging her to continue, but never took his eyes off the board.
"All the tequila’s turned white. It’s not tequila any more, and it’s not running out."
That made him look up. "What? Is it still alcohol?"
"We think so, but we don’t know what it is. It’s nothing local, or at least none of the organizers can identify it."
The Magdalenes lived with him, but they weren’t what he was. They couldn’t see what was out there, tonight, and they definitely didn’t know any better than he did whose Lords those were. And if it was neverending booze, there were Lords involved. "Go tell Lucian. He’ll know what to do."
On the other side of the crowd, Lucian sat by the bar, talking with a buck-toothed man in a wildly decorated jacket. They both held glass mugs of a thick, greyish-white drink, and a tall bottle of it stood on the bar between them. The buck-toothed man was telling a story, pointing to the figures embroidered on his jacket and playing each part as best he could, without getting off his barstool.
"His own sister? Really?" Lucian looked a little perturbed. "Or is this like the story they tell about how I turned seventy thousand angels into demons?"
"Oh, I don’t know." The man admitted, with a bright smile. "It’s thousands of years before me, but it’s a great story. You want some more pulque?"
Lucian held out his mug. "It’s not in the style of what my family drinks, but I can see the appeal of it. But, I’m still that foreigner who thinks it would be better with devash."
"Yeah? What’s that?" The man poured more from a bottle that never emptied.
"It’s a syrup made from dates. Very smooth and very sweet."
"You put that in here, it’ll probably ferment in five minutes and knock you on your ass."
"Then I’ll have to learn to drink faster, won’t I?"
"So, whose god of drunkenness are you?" the buck-toothed man asked.
Lucian laughed. "I’m not. I’m just some sorcerous nogoodnik."
"You’re full of shit is what you are. Come on, we’re all gods, here. Who’s going to know?"
"No, not a god. Never a god." Lucian held out his hand. "They call me Lucian."
"And what do you call yourself?" The man shook his hand, firmly. "Ometochtli, by the way. I answer to ‘Two Rabbit’, if you can’t pronounce it."
"This body won’t make the sounds for what I call myself. Ometogtli?" The Akkadian accent would be the death of him, one of these centuries, but Lucian couldn’t quite bring himself to give it up.
"Close enough. Closer than most people get, on the first try. Where are you from, with that accent?" Ometochtli asked, suddenly curious. He’d heard a lot of different accents, from all around the world, but most of them were more recent — the last five or six hundred years had brought a lot of foreigners into his lands and the surrounding ones.
"Nowhere you’d have heard of. It’s all gone, now. The accent’s from the time I spent in Dimash— Damascus." The Akkadian name of that city hadn’t been the name of that city, when he’d been in it, never mind now. "What about you?"
"Nowhere you’d have heard of," Ometochtli echoed, with a mischievous grin. "Place called Tepoztlán, in the mountains."
"You’re right. I haven’t heard of it." Lucian huffed out a single, quiet laugh. "I didn’t spend much time in this half of the world. Had a fondness for Lebanon, and didn’t let myself get too far, until the last century or two."
"Sorcerer, my ass." Ometochtli jabbed a finger at Lucian. "Look, what are you, the god of ass-blisters? It’s all right. There’s pulque enough for that. Pulque is my business. God of drunkenness, rabbits, and doing things you’ll regret when you wake up with a hangover, half a dozen coyotes, three guys in lipstick, and a girl who looks like your grandma. You could be the Syrian god of falling in dungheaps, and I’d let it go, but don’t think you can keep telling me you’re not one of us."
Sighing, Lucian hefted the mug of pulque and took a long gulp. It needed sugar. He needed sugar. "I’m not a god. My father won’t allow it of any of his children. And the old man’s not really popular around here, after what was done in his name. Don’t worry; he’s not too fond of me, and I try to stay out of his way."
Ometochtli put the pieces together, quickly. Syria and Lebanon, a god with a bad reputation among the locals in this part of the world, a god who wouldn’t allow his children to be gods… "You’re the son of the god that doesn’t let his people know his name. The church-god. The god of fish and crosses. The one whose people came here and destroyed my people."
"I think I was in Portugal, at the time, being mistaken for a demon. I’d been out of his eye for a long time, by then." He couldn’t apologise, wouldn’t take responsibility for more of the Holy Father’s actions, or even actions the in the Holy Father’s name that the old man didn’t see fit to stop. Lucian was not his father’s keeper, for all that he might have been his brother’s.
"Look, Lucian, I get it." After he swept the front of his hair back up under his hat, Ometochtli poured more pulque for both of them. "My mother was torn apart by her own family, and my brothers and sisters and I were born from her when she rose again from where our father buried her. The people say there are four hundred of us, but that just means they can’t count us all.
"But, the people don’t blame us for what our great-grandmother did. She brought darkness on the ones who came before. She swallowed the light, and demanded sacrifices in exchange for stars, lighting the black sky she gave them with the dead. But, nobody tells us we should have stopped her. We weren’t born, then. Nobody says our mother should have stopped her — our mother who ran away with one of the gods from below. Giving it up is enough, man. You got out, and that’s all anybody could have asked."
"I didn’t really get out. I got thrown out. Banished from his presence, which is made even worse by the fact that I am one of only two Lords to have really picked a fight with him, and everyone thinks I’m the other guy, who actually is at his level." Lucian waved to the bartender and talked his way into a glass of orange juice, before returning to the conversation at hand. "And that means they think I could have stopped him. That I still can stop him, now. He’s a force of nature; all I can do is work around him."
"I get that, too. I got another name I don’t use much, but it sounds a lot like another god. People mix me up with him, sometimes. They want to call out for the Smoking Mirror, the god of beauty, sorcery, kingship, and the night sky, and they get me, the Man With Four Hundred Reflections, the god of rabbits and drunkenness, because they can’t spell." Shaking his head, Ometochtli poured himself another drink. "I wish they’d stuck to the pictures and symbols. Those were easier to get right."
"No, they’re not. The symbols have been terrible to me. Candlelight and mirrors, unusual foreign literature, fire, Syrian wine, and what do I get? I get a bowl of eyeballs."
Ometochtli whooped in amusement. "Eyeballs? What kind of eyeballs, man? That’s great! Eyeballs… I wish somebody would fuck up and give me eyeballs!"
"What would you even do with them?" Lucian was going to regret asking, and he knew it.
"Probably put them in my sisters’ drinks. And then run. I’d get in better shape from all the running, that’s for sure. So, I can say I’d use them for an exercise tool."
Lucian blinked, stared, and then blinked a couple more times, for good measure.
"Hey, what, I’m the god of doing stupid drunk shit you regret when you wake up!"
"I know this girl. I really have to introduce you." That wasn’t quite accurate, but if Belphegor were in the room, it would be as the result of a summoning. "I get the feeling the two of you would take over the world by accident. She’s the Lord of Licentiousness and Invention; you’re the Lord of Drunken Stupid Shit."
"Neverending tequila sunrises and vibrating dildo duels?"
"You read my mind." Lucian sloshed orange juice into his pulque, and poured the resulting concoction down his throat. "And that’s not terrible."
Yin finally made it across the floor, seizing Lucian’s attention by being the sudden absence of light. "Lucian, something’s going on. Nico told me to ask you about it. All the tequila turned into this neverending white—"
"Pulque. Let me introduce you to the Lord of Pulque, Ometogtli." Still unable to shake the accent, Lucian pointed. "This is Yin, my little brother’s brain."
"Is she—? No, I don’t guess she is. It’s good to meet you, Miss Yin. You want a drink? All the drinks are on me, tonight." Ometochtli held out the bottomless bottle he’d been pouring from.
"I want to know what’s going on. People are flipping out. The boss is not happy."
"These people?" Ometochtli’s broad gesture took in most of the crowd. "Some of them are my people, from a long time ago. Just a few, but they’re here. So, when I heard they were throwing a party, some of my sisters and I decided to come along and help. It’s a blessing. As long as there’s a party, there’s pulque."
"Your sisters? Let me guess, the ones in black, with the synchronous screaming routine?" Yin sounded unimpressed.
"No, no. Those are Raven’s daughters. They’re local; bad reputation for messing with other tricksters, and they’re always stealing shiny things and foreign names for themselves, pretending they’re princesses from other nations. My sisters and I, we’re actually from a ways to the south." Ometochtli pointed to one of the dozen or so women dancing in a wending line through the crowd, this one with long, brown hair, a khaki and gold skirt, and an agave-blue top. She looked nothing like him. "Each one of them is the god of a different kind of drunkenness. That’s Metzlitochtli, the moon-mad drunk."
Lucian squinted into the crowd, catching a flash of linen drape, near the goddess. "Oh, good. And she’s met Gabriel. I expect unanticipated coastal flooding, tonight."
Yin turned sharply, eyes widening. "Oh, no. Gabriel and a room full of goddesses…"
"Oh, Gabi’s charming, when they want to be. The situation’s not going to degrade into posturing and feather-ruffling. They’re a diplomat, remember?"
"That’s kind of what I’m afraid of," Yin admitted. "Gabi attempting diplomacy with territorial, angry drunks."
"One of yours?" Ometochtli asked. "I don’t know a Gabriel."
"One of my favourite siblings." The smile that crept across Lucian’s face trailed fondness and resignation. "Lord of the Moon, among other things."
"Well, she hasn’t run into trouble with our gods of the moon, yet. She shouldn’t give your brother too much trouble."
"Sibling. My father only had three sons, and Gabi’s not one of them," Lucian corrected.
"This still doesn’t change the fact that all the tequila in the building has turned into a neverending river of pulque." Yin looked anything but pleased.
"Is anyone complaining?" Ometochtli asked. "Must be foreigners, if they are."
"This place is full of foreigners, tonight," Lucian pointed out. "It’s kind of the point. Besides, you’re not exactly from here, either."
"Closer than you are, Mister My-accent-is-from-Syria. It’ll stop at sunrise, so you’re not stuck with eternal bottles of neverending pulque, not that I can think of anyone who wouldn’t want one of those."
"I’d rather have a neverending bottle of that super-sweet plum wine I got once, in Canada." Lucian shrugged and laughed. "That’s what I’ll ask Nico for, for his birthday, this year."
"I thought birthday presents went the other way…" Ometochtli looked a little confused.
"My little brother’s birthday is an international religious holiday. Everybody gets gifts for his birthday. I’ll get him something unreasonable, and maybe he’ll get me a bottle of wine." Drumming his fingers on the bar, Lucian took a deep breath and breathed it out slowly. "So, the point is less that there’s a neverending supply of pulque, and more that people are disturbed by it. How do we calm them down?"
"We tell the boss what to say, and he makes an announcement," Yin suggested.
"Your boss is his little brother, the one who could make a bottomless bottle of wine?" Ometochtli sounded like he had half an idea.
"Right. My boss is Nico, the DJ." A long sharp finger jabbed in the direction of the booth.
"The DJ who brings the eyes of the foreigners to this little nation. They look at him for cues, don’t they." The plan came together as Ometochtli began to talk with his whole body, again. "If he ever made something like that neverending wine in public — and if that’s who I think it is, your people think he did — then people are going to believe him if he says this is a gift from his Mexican friends. No need to give our names. Our people will know who we are, from the signs.
"We’re supporting this push for proper recognition as an independent nation, for the people here. We remember when they were a nation, and no-one held them or their land captive. Not all of us, but my sisters and I, we know the importance of someone winning the first battle, and if they win, more will follow them. We know the importance for ourselves, if our people are free to teach and learn their own history, and to work their way back to us. If our people can get what they need to be free and healthy, we’ll benefit with them. Bringing them back to us may not be in your father’s best interest, but I don’t think your interests are his, or you wouldn’t be here."
Ometochtli grinned broadly, teeth jutting over his lower lip. "Call it a publicity stunt. Maybe we’ll wake up some more of the locals to come take on their own fight. A lot of them have been quiet a long time. We can’t die, but it’s hard for us when no one remembers our names."
"But, you don’t want us to give your name," Yin reminded him, surprised.
"No, I don’t. Let the foreigners think it’s the locals. Let them take the credit. It’s not like them, from out there, will know the difference, most of the time." Ometochtli drank more pulque. "Maybe some scholars will notice, but I think they’ll be too busy trying to prove we don’t exist, to make trouble."
Lucian shrugged at Yin. "You heard the man. Tell Nico we’ve got company, which I expect he already knows. And tell him he’s right, since he’s already figured it out, and some of that company is responsible for the pulque."
Yin looked at Lucian and then at the crowd and then back to Lucian, expectantly.
"Right." Knocking back the rest of the pulque, Lucian set the mug on the bar. "Pour me another one? I’ll be right back."
He wrapped an arm around Yin’s shoulders, and the two of them walked into the crowd, disappearing in the space between people, only to show up, seconds later, in a small flash of red light, in the DJ booth.
"Hey, hey, I got a request." Lucian leaned back against the table and nudged Nico with his elbow.
Nico gave him a look that might have been terminal, aimed at anyone else.
"We solved the problem, boss. Just need you to announce it," Yin cut in.
"Announce what, exactly?" Nico’s hands flew across the board as he mixed in the next track.
"We’ve been blessed by the Mexican god of pulque, which is apparently that stuff in the bottles," Yin explained. "Ask Luci, he’s the one drinking it."
"Agave gods. Lords of Drunkenness. I met this guy, Ometogtli, at the bar and those ladies with the bright brown hair, down there, are his sisters. They’re all lesser — like me, not like you — but I’m pretty sure we don’t have one of the creators down there." Lucian’s hands flashed reassuringly. "We just have temporarily infinite pulque. And it’s not bad stuff, but it’s much more of a beer-drinkers’ drink than I’d get on purpose. Not bad with orange juice in it. You want me to run back and get you some?"
"Later. I can’t drink while I’m working. What do you need me to tell these people? Because I don’t think ‘We’ve been blessed by the gods of drinking agave beer!’ is going to go over really well— and where’s Gabi? Isn’t this revelation of the mystery stuff its bag?"
"People don’t know Gabi, boss." Yin pointed out. "We’ve been mostly careful about that. They know you."
"And Gabi’s busy swapping fashion tips with the four hundred sisters of maguey, down there." Lucian rubbed a hand down his face and stared into the deep darkness behind the stage. "Tell them we’re out of tequila. That’s true. We’re out of tequila, but a group of supporters from down south have brought up a whole lot of pulque, to share, and until the pulque runs out, it’s free."
"Nobody’s got the bottles except the bartenders, so any talk of neverending drinks is going to be written off as a publicity stunt." Yin nodded. "You’re good, Luci!"
"I better be good, by now."
"Oh, yeah, play it up, you old fart."
"Can both of you shut up long enough for me to do this? Then I have to bring…" Paper fluttered under one of Nico’s hands while the other nudged a slider. "…Yazhi up to talk. Take me down to the bar, after, Luci? I can take a piss and get coffee while she’s talking, but only if I can get across the floor."
"Shut up and carry me across the room. You sound like my dead wife."
"Which one?" Nico punctuated the sentence by flicking on the mic. "So, I think you’ve all noticed we have no tequila! We’re all out. Sorry about that, but we do have something special that we hope will make up for it. Some of our supporters, tonight, have contributed an enormous amount of pulque, for the event, and until we run out, anyone who wants to drink it can do so for free! If you’re not sure what pulque is, it’s that white stuff going around. It’s a different kind of drink that can be made from agave.
"And in about another ten minutes, I’ll be bringing Yazhi to tell you more about how new treaties can benefit this nation, her nation, your nation. In the mean time, ten more minutes of music! Who’s having fun tonight?"
The crowd whooped and cheered, as the five girls in spangly black ballgowns and steel-plated boots moved up toward the other side of the stage, like fluttery pillars of black neon. The mic clicked off and Nico glanced at Lucian, as he started the next track. "Do you see that? The Lords are involved, aren’t they? More than just hanging out because it’s a party."
"Did you expect they wouldn’t be? We’re involved. No one’s going to leave us alone with their people, and they shouldn’t." Lucian reached around the back of one of the boards and stole a butterscotch from the bowl he knew Nico kept there. "Those are Raven’s daughters, or that’s what Ometogtli told me. They look right, from what I’ve heard — not their faces, but their …" He gesticulated vaguely, looking for a word that could be spoken by his shell. "nefesh. You see the glow, but I see more detail, and those look like Lords of Pranks and Corpses to me. Tricksters and dead-lords stand out. Just look at Gabi."
"I just announced that I’d be introducing a trickster goddess." Nico’s jaw dropped.
"Don’t worry too much about it. She has a vested interest in this movement, just like you had a vested interest in Galilean liberation. If anyone gets played for a fool, which they will, it won’t be this crowd."
"Truth, Luci?" Nico’s heel tapped restlessly against the floor, as his hands flicked stiffly between dials.
"The future is never certain, but the probabilities are strong." Lucian shook his head. "Let it go. There’s no reason to think the locals don’t know their own Lords, and they put together the list."
"That has to be the stupidest sentence that ever came out of you. You know better. Who knows you? Or me? You’re some Eurotrash dandy, and I’m a rich kid from the suburbs. And those are a bunch of Gothic Lolitas." Grabbing a butterscotch for himself, Nico opened it one-handed. "On the other hand, you’re still right. I’m not here to ask questions. I’m here to do a show. And the tricksters are here to do politics, which I guess isn’t that far off."
Yin coughed. "Evans."
"Evans isn’t self-aware enough to be a trickster. He’s just a blustery bigot. How much of the council is still voting with him on that condo project?"
Leaning back against the edge of the booth, Yin checked her phone. "Less than half. We’ve got him."
"Who’s handling the opposition?"
"Dawson. It’s always Dawson."
"Sometimes it’s Figley!" Nico stretched uncomfortably. "Send Dawson a—"
"I already did, boss. I know you."
"You’re the best, Yin."
"That’s why you hired me!"
"You know why else I hired you?" Nico asked, with an apologetic grin. "Stand here for three minutes. I’ll be back before the track ends."
"Wha—" Yin snapped to attention, stuffing her phone back into the zipper pouch on her arm.
"Luci, I’ll buy you all the daiquiris you can drink, but my eyeballs are floating. Help me out."
"I’ll never understand why he made you one of them, instead of one of us." Lucian wrapped his arms around Nico’s chest.
"Liar. You know exactly wh—"
They were gone in a flicker of red-gold light and a strange twisting of nearby space, leaving Yin alone in the booth with a bowl of butterscotch and a wide array of buttons, dials, and blinking lights. She raided the candy bowl and leaned against the back of the booth, stretching her legs into the one proper entrance. All she had to do was keep one eye on her phone and kick anyone who came up the stairs. A normal spring evening.