With false religions full of pomp and gold
Who: Vinnie and Pan What: Vinnie goes looking for salvation, and Pan has had enough Where: On the way to Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church. When: October 22th
His muscles were still loose from that morning's yoga session, and the warm shower that had followed, when Vinnie pulled out of the apartment parking lot. As he waited for the traffic to clear he rubbed at his eyes, thinking wistfully of his bed and the restful sleep that usually awaited on his Sunday afternoons.
Today, however, he had an appointment with one of the priests at the church he and Percy had gone to. Ironically, it was the very priest he'd joked about with his--friend. Though the man seemed gentle and understanding when they spoke on the phone, Vinnie hadn't told him why he needed to seek the advice of a holy man so badly. How could he, just say ‘bee tee double-u, I've got this thing in me that says he's a god but I think he's the devil, please help'? The only help he'd find would be a straight jacket if he put it that way.
Merging into traffic, Vinnie began to chew at his lower lip as he worried the question over. Distracted by his own thoughts, he didn't notice his hands turning the wheel to merge into the lane closest to the exit. He had to tell the man something; what was in him was getting stronger. He never felt alone anymore, and despite the part of him that found it obscenely comforting he'd seen enough horror movies to know that was a bad sign. Next he'd be spitting pea soup.
The smell of fresh grass broke him from his fretting just in time for Vinnie to realize he was pulling into a rest stop exit. Fuck, he thought, the curse on the tip of his tongue--and staying there, unspoken. With growing horror, Vinnie watched his own hands guide the truck through the rest stop's parking lot, his eyes glance up of their own accord to watch for other vehicles pulling out. Completely normal movements he did every day, except this wasn't him doing it.
The truck was brought to a stop at the far end of the lot, under a tree whose branches still had enough leaves to throw a cool shadow. His hands parked, turned off the truck, and for a minute Vinnie simply sat there, watching the sunlight play through the leaves. Just as he began to think this new weirdness might be over, he felt himself sigh, and his hands reach back to tug at the tie holding his hair in a bun.
"I am a patient god," his own voice muttered at the lower end of Vinnie's natural speaking voice, a register the man himself rarely let himself drop to. His stomach felt leaden at the words, his worst fear sinking like a stone. "I understand, better than most of my kin, the fear that men feel in the face of our kind. You are not alone in seeing that which you believed to be true up-ended; I, too, have lived this truth. But enough is enough; you will stop running, Matias."
'My name is Vinnie, asshole,' he retorted in the confines of his own mind, and was taken aback when the god piloting his body threw his head back in laughter, the sound rolling out loud and unabashed despite Vinnie's desperate, internal hissings to keep it down. In lieu of a verbal answer, Vinnie found his own memories playing in the theater of his mind, the remembered thrill of hearing the drum beat through his feet as his flute screamed above the roar that was the rest of the band, the afternoon he'd spent with BB setting up his YouTube channel, and woven in each memory the name he'd chosen to go by on stage.
Sullen silence was the only answer Vinnie offered, unwilling to yield the point. Pan sighed through his vessel's nose, their eyes closing tightly in a brief reflection of the frustration Vinnie realized he could feel, right along his own emotions. "Stubborn as one of my own," the god muttered, drawing his mortal's attention from the realization with an entirely different revelation. Before Vinnie could piece together the words to ask for clarification he had it, images of rambunctious sons with cloven hooves and tiny nubs for horns running after everything that moved. In his memories, Pan saw his father laughing himself sick and offering no help in corralling the kids. It's a heart-warming montage, enough that for scant seconds Vinnie forget to be afraid.
"What reason have I given you to fear me," came the soft question as the fear began to roll back in. "Have I not been kind to you? I have protected you, guided you when you were lost, stayed with you when you were alone. Why do you try to run?"
'I've seen what you turn into,' Vinnie muttered internally, and tried to flinch from the rage he immediately felt welling up from Pan. Terrifyingly, the emotion felt familiar; massive enough to drown in, but a close enough reflection of his own anger that his stomach dropped. He saw his body's eyes close, and braced for pain in his hands. But instead of throwing a punch, Pan ground their teeth together, drew a tight breath through their nose.
"You saw what those blasphemers would have made of me," came the answer, low and gravely from being pulled through their teeth. "They would have twisted me into a horrific caricature of what I hold sacred, as they would you. You know this to be true, Matias," he continued, without allowing Vinnie time to form his protest beyond the initial urge. "Before this year you had not set foot inside a church in decades, and we both know you remember well why that is. How many times did they tell you that what you felt was wrong, that your urges were sinful instead of perfectly natural? And yet you're running to them now, why?"
'Because you're terrifying.' The words came spilling out, flowing freely for once as Vinnie stopped ignoring his fears. 'I can hear what you want to do every time you see a church, or a priest. You don't care that they aren't the people who tried to--whatever! You want to hurt them! How do I know you won't hurt me if I piss you off?'
"I would never. I have loved you for too long to cause you harm." Feeling the horror that welled up at the thought soothed Vinnie, but only for a moment. It felt real, and despite telling himself that a god would be more than powerful enough to fake it, he believed it. Still-- 'I'm pretty sure you would've said that about playing music to murder by, but you sure considered it when that weird shape-shifting chick suggested it. And not just ‘cause she was hot.'
Silence reigned, and in the pause Vinnie found himself perversely glad that he wasn't in charge of his own body; he'd have been terrified to breathe. Pan did it for him, drawing in yet another suffering sigh as he opened their eyes. "Fine. I see you will need proof that I have nothing but your best interests in mind." The view changed as his vessel's body turned, checked mirrors and behind before putting the truck into reverse.
'Are.. We going to see Father Wagner?'
"No," came the immediate answer, authoritative enough that Vinnie's internal reaction was the desire to blink, followed by a small swell of surprise. Who knew that he had a Dad Voice? "I will not allow you to make yourself miserable by listening to their nonsense. I am taking you home." More specifically, home to draw a warm bath; Vinnie could feel him glancing through his memories, as though checking a list of what he preferred to pour in the water.
'Um. I'm not sure I want you to see me naked.'
Pan threw his vessel's head back in a hearty laugh, the stomach tightening with the force of it. "Matias, Matias, please. What manner of god do you take me for? I already have."