Vacation at the Beach
Location: Lake Michigan
Timeline: Friday, August 20, 2010/Evening
Xander sat out on the porch of the small cabin with a beer in his hand and a cooler beside his chair enjoying the last rays of the summer sun setting out over Lake Michigan. In just a pair of shorts, his lean, muscled chest was bare and his bare feet were propped up on the railing. They could have gotten a nicer cabin, or a place in one of the resorts along the lake, or at the casino, but this cabin was secluded from those around by trees. He and Talia would have a lot of privacy here. Xander liked that. He intended to have Talia screaming loud enough to disturb even the distant neighbors.
Xander enjoyed the thought of his hot-blooded redheaded lover for a few moments before he checked his phone. Cecily had left a couple messages. She was fine, out with Cindee and Max. He texted her back to not have too much fun with Cindee. She texted back a middle finger.
Thoughts of their strange afternoon conversation with the weird lady in the mirror were forgotten as Xander finished his beer and grabbed another Goose Island. They’d brought plenty, and Xander had fake ID for when he needed more, intent on just getting plastered and never leaving the bed he shared with Talia for the weekend. He considered doing it on the beach again, but he was still finding sand in odd places from the last time!
Unexpectedly, his phone chimed, the sound underscored by the the soft shushing sound of waves.
Xander jumped a bit as the peacefulness of the lake was marred by his phone. He scowled. It couldn’t be Cecily, since it was an actual call. Maybe Max? He pulled out his phone and stared. There was the picture of that crazy woman with the shells in her hair, and the name PSAMANTHE was plastered on his screen. How the hell had she gotten into his contacts?! Or gotten his number!
Looking around, Xander was tempted to just send her to voicemail. But he bet a woman persistent enough to pop into a mirror in a public place might well make herself rather annoying.
Xander accepted the call and put the phone to his ear
“Hullo…” he answered tentatively.
Psamanthe sounded ever so slightly annoyed. "I can't believe you thought about sending me to voicemail," she said with a sigh. "Don't act so surprised, I told you I'd be calling."
“Shite, luv, I’m still half believing one of those hippies at the coffee shop slipped me something!” Xander said. “And how the bloody hell did you know what I was thinking?!”
Psamanthe sighed, "I don't know what you're thinking, Xander, I can see you. Your thumb hovered over the end button before you accepted the call."
Xander frowned, looking around. “I don’t like being watched,” he said, a bit nervously. “And can you blame me, luv?” he asked. “This is some weird, freaky shit!”
"I checked to make sure you were alone this time," Psamanthe said, as though she should be praised for that. "And yes, it is rather weird and freaky." These words sounded wrong coming from her mouth. "But there's nothing you can do about it, ignoring it isn't going to make it, or me, go away."
“What will?” Xander asked, arching an eyebrow. “I mean, you have the hot hippie beach vibe, luv,” he said, “and I’m into that, but this whole weird mirror stalker thing is a bit creepy.”
"That's why I used the telephone this time," Psmanthe said with a put upon sigh. "Simply put, Xander, you are a mutant, a mutant bonded to one of the old gods. Me, to be exact. Your abilities are starting to manifest and so I am here to help, if I can."
Xander looked even more surprised, if that was possible. “Mutant?” he asked. “Like those weird things on TV that blew up Atlanta last spring?” He shook his head. “And bonded to you? What happened in Vegas that I don’t remember?” he quipped. “I barely even know who you are! Had to have Cece look you up.”
"You were mine from the moment of your conception, your life irrevocably linked to my power. And it is your life, and eventual abilities, that will keep me from fading to nothing," Psamanthe tried to explain. "And no, they did not blow up Atlanta last spring. They tore down their headquarters to keep it out of the hands of Nexus." She said that word as though it tasted bad, her nose scrunching up in distaste.
“Nexus? What is that? Sounds like something out of a Bond movie.” Xander laughed. It was too unbelievable not to! He opened another beer and took a long drink. This was way too weird to do sober! Maybe he should get some of that Ecstasy Talia had gotten them, though he was planning on using that with her tonight.
"I take it then you don't pay much attention to the news?" the goddess said dryly. "Nexus is the branch of the government tasked with managing the mutant phenomenon. They do so by imprisoning anyone they can remotely get away with calling a mutant. And from what I've seen, testing them worse than lab rats."
“See? Just proves what I always said, the news is just depressing,” Xander said flippantly. “Whose brilliant idea was it to give them such unchecked power?” He shook his head and sipped his beer. “So just what, exactly, am I supposed to be able to do, luv?” Xander asked.
"I have no idea," Psamathe said with a small shake of her head. "Your powers will be tied to me. Beyond that I cannot say. Aphrodite's has seduction powers and the ability to see and feed off person's greatest carnal wants. Apollo's is a touch clairvoyant and occasional prophet. Hades' can summon and command shadows and all the inhabitants of the underworld. Hermes' can travel great distances with only a step. Still working on that though. Last attempt landed him and his passenger on their ass at the edge of a lake. Pontus doesn't so much have a god-touched as he has a six times great-granddaughter that turns into a mermaid. It's unpredictable. I was once worshiped as the goddess of sandy beaches; all sand that has ever touched the sea was mine to command. I carved coastlines and saved cities from Poseidon's wrath from time to time. I was not a major goddess, but I had my following." This last was said a bit defensively.
“Yes, I am sure you held your Twitteratti in rapt attention,” Xander said dryly. “So...sandy beaches…” He didn’t sound all that impressed. “Don’t tell me I’m going to get crabs, luv…”
Psamathe gave him a level look, "I don't know what in the seven hells 'Twitteratti' is, but you'd be mindful not to mouth off to other deities. I will put up with a great deal from you, but others will not be so tolerant and have a much bigger reach. As for crabs, double entendre aside, crabs are actually quite useful little buggers. I employ a few hundred to keep my home clean and free of pests."
Xander blinked. “Okay, that’s just…” He had no words for once. “So when is this great...ascension to godhood of mine supposed to happen?” he asked, bemused. He had a thought. “And what about Cecily? Is she going to get powers, too?”
The goddess snorted. "You aren't a god. You are a god-touched, meaning your DNA is linked to mine. You will be more powerful than a normal mutant, but beyond that I know little. As for your sister, that is unknown. We can only be linked to one person. I chose you. You have the same parents, but there is no way of knowing if she has the genetics for mutation without getting you to a lab, something you truly do not want to do living under the radar as you do. I have some friends that could tell you, another god touched who can taste the sweat on your skin and know if you are human, mutant, or god-touched."
“No, no labs,” Xander said seriously. “And I’m not sure if I find that last bit erotic or disgusting…but I don’t want anyone licking my big sister, much as Cindee might want to,” he said with wry amusement. “So...wot now? Do I just sit and wait until everything I touch starts...turning to gold or something?” he asked. “I mean, that would be rather useful,” he mused. “Though I guess it didn’t turn out so well for Midas…”
"Usually it takes some sort of catalyst to trigger a full mutation. You may notice odd things happened to you or around you. These little occurrences may simply grow and swell into your full abilities, or something will happen and that will trigger a more... explosive awakening," Psmanthe answered, pursing her lips in thought. "I will leave a telephone number in the sand on the shore just after sundown. Memorize it, do not write it down or save it in your phone. You may tell your sister as well. If you get into trouble that is the number to call, or in her case, text. Simply tell them I gave you the number and where you are and they can help. If you decide you are done running and wish a safe place to hide they can arrange that too. I am owed certain favors from other gods. I will call in a few markers to make arrangements with the people on the other end to have money available should you need it. We, the gods, cannot touch your world directly, but we are not completely without power. I can help you in small ways."
“Well, that’s certainly more help than anyone’s been in a long while,” Xander mused, glancing back toward the cabin where Talia still napped after the drive up. “I’m kind of good right now, though, luv,” he said. “I will definitely keep you in mind, though,” he promised the strange woman on the other end of the line, taking a sip of his beer. “I guess...thank you. Not sure how much of this I can really wrap my mind around. It’s all too...surreal to believe.”
The goddess nodded. "Sleep on it. I will contact you again in a few days with the... banking information." The way she said it he could tell she'd heard it somewhere and never really used the term herself.
Xander raised an eyebrow. “Maybe you need to get out more, beautiful,” he teased her.
Psmanthe snorted. "You've rather missed the point. We are trapped on this plane unless we want to give up all our godly powers and responsibilities. Thus our connection to you."
Xander considered that. “So...is all that power really worth it, then?” he asked her. “I mean, wouldn’t you rather...I don’t know...have a life, luv?” he asked her.
"And what of my duties? Or the other gods?" Her voice was soft, and just a little sad. "While I am not the greatest of our gods, I, along with other gods, still maintain our beaches, influence the creatures there, work with the sea gods to keep the ocean from eating away at the land, as well as I can. But my work is only a small fraction. Imagine if the souls in Tartarus were to be freed? Or even the Elysian Fields? The world would be overrun. Just because people stopped believing doesn't mean we are any less needed. Another time I will tell you of the gods that chose that selfish path and how that has shaped your world."
Xander frowned. “I don’t know about all that,” he admitted. “Until last week, you were all just mythology to me. Cool stories, not much else. I’m supposed to be a good Catholic.” He laughed a bit, looking back at the house again where Talia lay in their bed. “Maybe not so good…” he admitted. “Not for a long time, anyway.”
"You are not so bad as some. I have spoken to Him in the past and he is not so judgmental as many would believe. He sees the soul, not just the mortal body," Psmanthe said gently.
“Yeah? Well, been a while since I’ve been to confession, so mine’s probably pretty smudged up,” he said with a wry chuckle. “My mother would be--”
He trailed off, his throat tightening, and looked off out over the lake again.
"We can speak of such things later," the goddess said gently, "but remember this: knowledge is different than faith. You know I exist, but you believe He exists. You have faith in something you have no tangible proof of even with the knowledge that I have shared with you. That is no small thing. Now rest. Just don't forget to go look for that number after sundown. It will only last for so long.”
Xander shifted uncomfortably with the serious topic, but smiled. “Yes, ma’am,” he said. “If you promise to grab a margarita on the way home. And if you dance on tabletops, I want pics,” he teased. “Let that hair down a bit.”
"I am home," the goddess said, and the view on the phone zoomed out to show a room made of sand like the world's most luxurious sandcastle. "But I will rest as well and we will meet again soon. Also, a little trick with the sand, talcum powder."
Xander frowned. “Talcum powder?” he wondered. “For what?”
"The sand," Psmanthe said with a smirk, then the phone went blank and was just a phone again.
Xander shook his head. “Whatever,” he said, tossing back the last of his beer and opening another bottle. He stood up and stretched. He might as well go out and check on that supposed message in the sand.
Goddess of Sandy Beaches