Calliope has done this so many times that she’s already bored. But she knows that she needs to play her part, so she leans into her Nagaveni's ear and whispers, “Well, it looks like Dysnomi rolled out the red carpet for us, securing his place as the king of partying? …Or as the king of chaos for that dramatic grand entrance?” She shows a mischievous raise of her eyebrow and giggles, nothing more than a joke. Though, she questions if he has something bigger planned for the night.
“WELCOME… TO… TARTARUS!”
Dysnomi's voice reverberates through the room, and the crowd cheers at this. Calliope wonders how this man can even make his voice do that–sound so loud and commanding, being heard over the loud music and crowd. Don't even question it, she thinks.
Nagaveni rolls her eyes, though she's careful to keep them aimed toward the floor. “An A+ for the theatrics, but did he have to draw so much attention over here? He couldn’t have, like, waited until I wasn’t right next to you?” She sighs and picks at her skin-tight dress' thin green strap, the way she always does when she's nervous. She’s never been good in crowded places, and this place is packed in like a snake pit; at least, it feels that way. Her anxiety soars to new heights when she notices all the attention she and Calliope are getting. Strangers let their eyes linger on the fabric of the women's dresses, especially down the deep V neck. She's doing everything she can think of to not notice the attention, while Calliope seems to be thriving. But Nagaveni figures that’s just part of Calli’s siren abilities. She has to admit, the sparkly purple dress does look amazing on Calliope, and she’s happy they decided to get matching outfits.
“Hey… just try to relax,” Calliope reassures her. “No one even knows who you are tonight except your friends, and you don’t have to worry about keeping your head hidden. The Serpent Tamer amulet Salem made for you is gonna work all night. You can just be you.”
That makes Nagaveni feel a little better. When Calliope had first hooked the necklace onto her, the two snakes on the back of her head had hissed. Calli had simply called them stubborn and nicknamed them Julius Squeezer and Fangis Khan.Nagaveni had laughed. It was then that she knew her roommate would also be her friend.
Calliope directly looks at the man across the room from them. He stands near the crowded nightclub’s high-top bar. He’s tall and muscular. She’s always found him attractive with his shoulder-length blonde hair, pale skin, and hazel eyes that have little golden specks in them.
Nagaveni looks at him as well. She feels as if she's known this man all her life—he just seems so familiar—yet she's only met him a handful of times.
He had been making drinks behind the bar when they had come in, but now, he’s standing in front of the bar with his arms outstretched like he’s Jesus. His face forms a mysterious smile as Calliope and Nagaveni cross the only clear path through the dark, crowded dance floor. Purple, blue, and pink lights dance over their faces and bodies.
He takes a moment to appreciate Calliope, admiring her wild turquoise hair and the way it falls in loose waves down to her chest. He always gets this strange feeling when she's near…
Like the siren's calling me out to sea.
He looks at her, seeing the way her eyes match her dress, glowing purple from all the energy she's gaining. Her dress sparkles and reflects the club's bouncing lights, commanding everyone’s attention. The fabric clings to her flawless peach-colored skin as if the dress was made specifically for her. His breath hitches in his throat as his eyes glide back up from her round thighs and wide hips. His eyes roam up to the middle of her chest. The dress clings so tightly that it could make any man jealous.
He's so wrapped up in his lustful thoughts that he doesn’t even notice when she appears in front of him. She’s just suddenly there, leaving him scrambling to gain his composure.
“Looking like a vision, Dysnomi. Or just… an early-2000's goth’s vision of the handsome vampire in their dreams,” she says.
He eagerly watches her dark pink lips curl into the sexiest smirk he’s ever seen. He lifts an eyebrow at her and laughs.
Calliope makes a show of roaming her eyes over his body for once, and he—ever the good sport—holds his arms out and slowly spins in place.
“I mean it, Dys,” she says, throwing her hands up. “You look like a dream.” She makes a small, wistful sigh, glancing up at his flushed face. Her heart skips a beat the way it does every time she's close to him.
For the first time, she thinks the ever-so-confident Dysnomi looks nervous. He gazes down at her, and for a second, she gets lost in his eyes, letting them comfort her, the golden spots hinting at sprinkles of mischief on the inside. Startled, she realizes that she had just telepathically sent him those thoughts. She's usually better at keeping them to herself.
"I almost forgot how soft your hair looks up close," she whispers. She lifts her hand and lightly traces her thumb across his bottom lip, causing him to inhale sharply. She traces a line up his cheekbone, leaving the ghost of her touch along his skin as she reaches up to play with a fallen strand of his hair. "You have the most gorgeous blonde hair… Each strand looks so divine, as if it was woven by Rumpelstiltskin himself… It has the beauty of a dozen rays of sunlight bouncing off a puddle to create a rainbow…" She whispers this in his ear with a serene sigh.
"Well, everyone here looks happy. Ire has to feel weird."
When she hears this mysterious female voice in her head, she stiffens. She realizes how sensually she had just been talking to Dysnomi–in front of everyone.
I guess it’s a good thing we’re at a bar–the perfect place for awkward situations…
She steps back and clears her throat, internally cringing from Dysnomi's disappointment. She grabs a shot of whiskey from the bar and tries to start over, though she’s useless in uncomfortable situations. “Hey, I mean, you should know by now that the only reason I’m here is to make sure you don’t get all the attention.” She stops joking to say, “But seriously, Dys, you do look good.”
“WHAT?!” He yells out, jumping up from where he was leaning against the bar, uncharacteristically offended. He stops himself, adjusting his tie and smoothing his black button-down shirt. “I look good? Calli, I am one of the most attractive men alive, and we both know it.” He steps forward and lowers his head to look down at her, giving her his chocolate eyes to melt into, with a glint of roguish sparks in them—like lightning.
“Your choice is yours alone, with serious consequences–and still, he’s wearing that damn smirk on his face.”
Who said that? she thinks. The voice in her head this time was a deep, commanding male voice.
Without warning, lightning storms down!
It crashes through the roof of Tartarus, aimed at her. She catches a glimpse of a ginormous black-colored bird before an excruciating pain washes over her… and everything goes dark.
Opening her eyes, she comes back to reality on the balcony, one hand resting on Dysnomi’s arm while she speaks, the words sounding foreign to her as she looks up at him with confused eyes. She takes her hand away and steps back.
“Hey, don’t even joke about that! You know Loki’s my hero,” Dysnomi replies, smiling. “And you want me to live up to him? I would never leave a lady unsatisfied, but…” his voice becomes husky before trailing off when he notices her looking confused.
He steps forward and wraps her into a big hug, his arms enveloping her small frame. For a second, she allows her head to rest against his firm chest, listening to his heart beat, hearing it skip when he first pulls her close, and relishing the warmth from his chest against her cheek and the feeling of his strong arms holding her.
When she finally pulls away, she takes another moment to really look at him. She notices tattoos now, covering both his arms. She’s shocked for a moment, wondering when he even had time to get tattooed; though, he could just change his appearance with his trickster abilities–Wait, so… he gave himself tattoos using his magic? He can do that, right? If he can literally bend reality to his will, then I don't see why he couldn't.
“Uhh… Calli? Are you just gonna stare at my biceps all day, or do you wanna introduce me to your beautiful new friend?”
She jumps at the sound of his voice–she didn’t even realize she had zoned out. Looking over his shoulder, she spies Nagaveni. Dysnomi stands there with confidence, turning away from Nagaveni to smirk at her.
Nagaveni's staring at the floor, blushing. She peeks up at him, only to catch him blowing her a flirty kiss with a wink. She blushes bright red in her cheeks and looks back down, too shy to say anything.
“What?! Dys, you know who Nagaveni is!" She laughs, gliding over and draping an arm around Nagaveni's shoulders. “However, I’ve got her wearing this concealment amulet I bought her, which we’ve been calling the Serpent Tamer, so the humans don’t freak out. You know how they are–they’d prefer to believe that beasts like us don’t exist,” she finishes, with a hint of disgust in her voice.
“Nagaveni?!" He stands there looking amazed for a moment before regaining his composure. “Damn… I knew you were beautiful, but I can't believe I didn’t recognize you. The black hair disguises you well.” He pauses to cock his eyebrow at her. “And having a gorgeous woman like yourself out here for Tartarus’ opening night? I mean, your beauty alone will bring in half of LA. And if it doesn’t… Calli’s siren song definitely will.”
Then, with a theatrical flourish, he conjures two purple drinks from thin air. The drinks shimmer and sparkle like a starry night in a country field. “To a successful opening night for Tartarus?” He hands the women each a drink before conjuring one for himself. “Straight from the fae realm,” he says, holding his drink toward the light, admiring it. “I just thought about what I wanted that would make tonight special and then they appeared. I don’t know if it’s true or not—that you shouldn’t answer any questions the fae ask you—but I do know that I have a big mouth and… unfortunately,” he pauses, patting down his pockets for dramatic effect. “I don’t tend to keep packets of sugar on me to throw down as a distraction, so I figured willing them into existence would be better than traveling to the fae realm.”
“First of all, I am deeply disappointed in you. You don't keep sugar packets in your pocket? You should be prepared for anything all the time. Second, couldn’t you just… conjure some sugar? And third… Who are you trying to be? Van Gogh?” Calliope jokes, admiring her swirling galaxy-inspired drink. It actually looks fairly impressive. Nagaveni snorts, trying to hold back a laugh, and for the first time tonight, she lifts her head. She almost looks confident, despite having to keep her eyes averted so she doesn’t turn anyone to stone.
“I’ll try this drink you magicked up for us… if you let me name it,” Nagaveni says, staring at the drink like it’s the best thing she’s ever seen.
“I don’t know, Nini, trusting a trickster seems like a pretty bad idea…” Calliope trails off, with a sarcastic smile playing on her full lips. Dysnomi carefully contorts his face into an—admittedly, really cute—pout. He's definitely practiced it before.
“C’mon, Calli…” he reaches out and lifts her chin so she’s looking up at him, already melting inside a little. In his peripheral, he can see Nagaveni go wide-eyed. He and Nagaveni haven’t known each other long, so she must not realize yet that he and Calliope are natural flirts, but that doesn’t mean there’s something between them. Although… that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t something there, either. Calliope is just… so damn good at keeping up with him, and he still can’t figure out how she does it. “You honestly don’t trust me?” he asks, his thumb brushing over her chin.
Calliope smiles and steps away from his touch, not wanting to let herself feel anything more than friendship toward him. She clears her throat and averts her eyes from his scrutinizing gaze and the mischievous gold in his eyes. “Of course I trust you. Duh, I wouldn’t be your friend if I didn’t. It’s not like I go around telling everyone who and… what I am.”
“Alright…” he says, then nods at Nimue. “Hey new girl.” He crosses the floor and leans on the side of the luxurious black couch in the middle of the balcony. “What’cha got for us?”
That damn smirk just never leaves his face, does it?
She can see it from the corner of her eye. Nagaveni smiles brighter and goes to sit in the chair across from Dys.
“Nini?” Calliope questions, crossing over to sit on the couch seat at the end, near Dysnomi and across from Nagaveni.
Nagaveni can see that Calliope also has a smirk on her face now. It makes her well-defined cheekbones pop out more. So when she crosses her legs, holds her drink in one hand, and crosses an arm over her bare legs, Nagaveni thinks she looks like a supermodel. Nagaveni knows that she could do that, too, if she wanted, but she’s never had that kind of confidence.
Nagaveni leans back in her chair, stretching her legs before leaning forward, her green eyes shining with excitement. “I propose a toast with our new liquid courage—I pray to the gods that it’s actually a good concoction so this won’t be a satirical name—the Cosmic Paradise!” She lifts her glass, smiling. She’s proud of herself for coming up with the name.
“To the Cosmic Paradise! And to Tartarus’ grand opening! You deserve this, Dys,” Calliope says, lifting her drink into the middle with Nagaveni.
“To the Cosmic Paradise… And to Nagaveni for finally loosening up a bit,” he winks at her just to watch her blush. “Also to Calli, because I just know your voice is gonna have everyone in the house begging for more when you get on that stage.” He meets her eyes with a knowing smile that sets her on edge as he lifts his drink and clinks it against theirs.
They all throw back their galaxy-inspired drinks in one go, then slam the empty glasses on the table in the middle.
Tartarus is now entirely full. It’s a sea of wealthy people—mostly humans—dancing and having fun in almost every space available.
“Hey Calliope, someone just dropped off this weird note for you…?” Dysnomi says, walking over to pick up the note at the door, looking over it.
When she crosses over and takes the paper, she says, “Well… let’s read it, shall we?” She waves Nagaveni over to them, then reads,
“Word of advice: Viking parties get outrageous, so don’t go if you aren’t ready for things to get wild. Go raise a little hell as an honorary Viking, and get ready for your present.”
“Well that… certainly…?” She cuts off, confused, before saying, “Wait, it sounds like there’s an argument or some kind of commotion coming from the main room.” She’s about to ask someone to brave the fray with her when the sounds of shouts and grunts come from across the dance floor to the balcony door, followed by what sounds like a bird screeching.
“What the fuck?!” a random guy yells out, before turning and running. She watches as other people in the crowd get tossed to the side, but it’s impossible to make out what's shoving its way through; the only thing she can see is a humongous red and orange bird flying through the nightclub toward her, Nagaveni, and Dysnomi.
“Wait, do you two know actual Vikings?” Nagaveni asks, her mouth open.
“Yeah, Dys has taken me to some insane parties in the two years I’ve known him. You’ve only been here for what? Three months? You just wait–I’m sure we’ll get into something together.”
When Calliope can finally check around again, she looks at the humans who got pushed aside, noticing that most of them look confused, almost like they hadn’t seen anyone—or anything—move them. But it can’t be what she thinks it is–can it?
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