|o goat-foot god of arcady! (literallyhorny) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2018-01-02 09:15:00
|Entry tags:||hermes, pan|
Hold my hand
Who: Percy and Vinnie
What: Saturday Vigil for a troubled Pax tenant, accompanied by a friendly listener.
Where: Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, Newport Beach
When: July 15th, circa 4:40 p.m.--Vigil begins at 5 p.m. sharp.
Notes: This is the log that never eeeeeeends~
How many years had it been since he’d last stepped foot within a church? Not that Percy felt worried he’d go up in flames after crossing the threshold--no, anything but that, despite his various amounts of...less than wholesome life activities.
Perhaps it had been too long, he thought to himself as he took a seat on the back pew, eying his watch for a moment to note the time. He’d arrived early as per usual, but didn’t doubt that Vinnie would arrive shortly--the younger man had complained of feeling disturbed by the myriad of odd events around the apartment, and Percy couldn’t blame him. There certainly wasn’t any harm in seeking solace in a place of safety like this, nor shame.
He waited for Vinnie somewhat patiently, in the meanwhile unbuttoning his shirt cuffs and rolling them neatly back over his forearms. Although he didn’t see the point in dressing to the nines for a Saturday service, arriving in casual wear would seem an insult. He’d chosen a plain white dress shirt and khaki pants, feeling as if he was heading into work rather than to hear a sermon.
And then there's Vinnie. Growing up, church was something he got dressed to the nines for; in part because of his aunt's penchant for the dramatic. As he walked into the church (quickly, lest he turn tail; his stomach was already rolling with the familiar discomfort) Vinnie for once found himself jealous of her monochromatic wardrobe. He was fairly certain that he'd cobbled together a decent outfit; navy slacks go with everything, and the vest was the same shade of brown as his one pair of actual dress shoes.
He felt ridiculous, especially with his hair slicked back into a bun. At least with it down, he could excuse any mismatching as ‘artistic’, purposely disheveled; but in a dress shirt and a tie, Vinnie felt like a Muppet.
At least he didn't have to wait around; spotting Percy in the back row (oh thank God), his characteristic bright smile split his face as he made a beeline for the other man. “Hey,” he said quietly in greeting, once he was in earshot. “Have I thanked you enough for doing this?”
“Not nearly enough, but feel free to thank me again,” Percy said with a sidelong smirk. Vinnie had dressed in a far more classy fashion than him, leading Percy to believe that the younger man most certainly had more of a church background than he did. Either that, or he’d been raised to dress more proper in general, and that certainly wasn’t bad for character.
“By the way, you’re looking extra sharp. God’s going to favor you over me tonight,” he added, smirk softening into a warm smile. “No harm meant, of course.” He settled back against the pew, lazily watching the slow but steady stream of Saturday Vigil worshipers taking their seats among the other pews, their quiet but friendly chatter giving the chapel a welcoming ambience.
“I should be thanking you for taking care of Stella so often this summer. I had no idea work would pick up like it has; this is the least I can do for you.”
“I'll get you a fruit basket,” he quipped, collapsing onto the pew next to his friend with a sigh. His head fell back as he fought the urge to slump, the echo of his aunt's chastisement ringing through memory. She'd be thrilled to see him in church again, despite taking his complete disinterest with grace and acceptance. The rituals and trappings had always brought her comfort, and in lieu of being able to hug her tight he hoped to grasp some of that same safety this way.
His head lolled toward Percy when the other man spoke, a lazy grin tugging at his mouth when the words sink in a moment later. “Thanks; I couldn't find a matching suit to save my soul, so I--I'm just glad not to look like a hobo.” The hesitancy came when, reviewing his own words, Vinnie realized he'd gone with soul over the usual expression of ‘to save my life’; what the hell? Was the stress getting to him that badly?
The subject of Stella was a welcome distraction. “Hey, she's no problem, I love that turtle. Honestly taking care of her feels more like a vacation compared to my other jobs.”
Vinnie’s slight stumbling block received no comment from Percy, merely a curious raise of his brows. “Plural,” Percy said instead, focusing on Vinnie’s various means of income. He knew his neighbor had briefly mentioned before about his need for several incomes to live more or less decently, but his employment situation rarely came up in conversation. Tugged along by sympathy, or perhaps it was merely a touch of Catholic guilt for not helping the less fortunate--brought on by their current surroundings, surely--Percy felt his heart clinch.
“You know, don’t let me tell you how to live your life, but working multiple jobs can’t possibly give you a lot of freedom to do anything else,” he said carefully, ascertaining he never once dropped his typical friendly tone. “I’d wager it’s tiresome, if nothing else.” Pretending to mull over an idea, Percy paused for less than four seconds before continuing his spiel. “I don’t mind paying you more for what you do. Really. A guy like me isn’t home long enough to give a dog the proper attention it needs, let alone a turtle--but you know how low maintenance Stella is. She probably appreciates the extra strawberries, if nothing else.”
He stretched his legs out as much as he was able, fingers tapping on the wooden pew as he thought. “Or if you’re interested in writing, reporting, general acts of highly important journalism, I can hook you up with an entry level position. What do you say?”
Nothing is what Vinnie had to say, his throat tightening in the swell of sheer gratitude, magnified by the warmth that bubbled up in his chest. For a dizzying moment, he wanted nothing more than to throw his arms around Percy’s shoulders and kiss his cheek the way he would his aunt, and found nothing strange about the urge. Just as he opened his mouth to accept, reality came crashing in.
“I can’t,” he answered softly, the words drawn reluctantly past the lump in his throat. Vinnie swallowed once, rubbed at his stinging dry eyes. “Believe me, I’d love to, that sounds neat as hell, but I.” His voice lowered, as did his head, and he opened his eyes to stare at the second-hand shoes that were the only pair he owned decent for church. “I have this.. Problem. With getting out of bed in the winter. Sometimes I can’t do it.” He punctuated with a huff that sounded like the bastard, mirthless child of a chuckle that ended quickly when his stomach abruptly lurched. He swallowed, took in a careful breath before continuing. “That’s why I work so much in the spring and summer. Maybe it won’t be so bad here, this is the healthiest I’ve been in years but I don’t know. And I can’t--I won’t put you in a bad position by saying yes.
“I’m sorry,” he added softly, forcing a faint smile onto his face as he lifted it. As he turned to look Percy in the face, the light caught his eyes at the right angle to turn the dark irises a light brown, giving good contrast to the horizontal slit of his pupils. “Seriously, I would love to do something other than the jobs I have.”
Percy’s response froze on his tongue, words rendered temporarily useless at the sight of his friend’s eyes--Vinnie’s pupils looked like a goat’s, and Percy highly doubted he was the kind of kid (no, that was not an appropriate term at this time, but--) who would wear speciality contacts for shock effect. Especially to a church sermon.
Or was he? Here Percy was, practically offering a job to someone he hadn’t known for half a year, and yet he couldn’t deny that he felt inexplicably drawn to Vinnie, to help him. He wanted to help him as more than a neighbor, as if the younger man was, in fact, family. Out of all the strange situations that had occurred since Percy moved to Newport Beach, this simple fact was the easiest to accept. Easier than the dreams, easier than the speed at which he was again able to move.
“I didn’t know that you’ve been sick before in that way,” Percy said carefully, softening his tone. There was a somber look to his features that rarely showed, for it so rarely needed to appear. He’d lived almost a charmed life, been bolstered by a happy childhood and opportunities to succeed. Vinnie, as if it hadn’t been clear before, had faced--and still faced--more struggles than him. Surely he could offer a comforting ear, if nothing else.
“Why don’t we make a deal?” he asked quietly, urged forward by the heart-wrenching clench in his chest, likely more metaphorical than physical. “If you start feeling ‘sick’ again when winter hits, you’ll tell me. You don’t have to accept my job offers; the secret is that they’re actually not mine to give. I’d pull the right strings for you, of course, if you wanted. It’s one of my specialities.” Percy smiled then, a distinctly sincere tenderness in his blue eyes. “Tell me if you feel bad, Vinnie, and I can try to help.”
“But the air is clearer here than in New York,” he continued, unsure now if it was him speaking with his voice, or another entity altogether, “and the weather is mild. This environment welcomes you, and you’ll surely find peace.”
Abruptly, Percy looked away from Vinnie, choosing to break eye contact with the odd-pupiled man. “And if not, I’ll find help for you.”
’This environment welcomes you, and you'll surely find peace,’ resonated within Vinnie, the words making a nest for themselves somewhere in his chest where their truth could warm. He did feel at home here, despite missing his friends back in New York terribly. Each day hurt a little less to get out of bed, and despite the horror movie that was their complex, it still somehow felt right. He'd attributed that to the strangeness reminding him of his aunt, and Sis would love it here, but yet.
Still he felt the urge to insist he would be fine, and still the question of why Percy cared so much about some guy he'd only known a few months lingered, but it felt silly to ask now. It was good and, more notably, right that they should care about one another, go to the other when one needed help. Part of him questioned this as well, but as his eyes began to warm and lighten, it felt too distant to care about.
“Thank you,” he murmured, careful to keep his voice low. “I'll think about it. The job, I mean; I don't know how good a journalist I'd make, but I am not too proud to answer phones or grab coffee.” Too proud to be anyone’s janitor or gardener, but even that is less for his own sake and more a sense of obligation.
With a sigh, he followed Percy's lead in glancing away. The moment his eyes came to rest on the ornate sanctuary, he felt an inexplicable wave of fury that left his stomach lurching. The crosses making up the backdrop seemed malicious in their gleam, and Vinnie dropped his eyes. One hand came up to rub at the bridge of his nose, and he found himself leaning against Percy's arm. “...I think I need some air.”
Satisfied--for now--that his friend had, at the very least, agreed to consider the deal, Percy felt a wave of both relief and reassurance. Given enough time, Vinnie might allow further, more applicable assistance. The younger man was by no means a charity case, and his realization that Percy did not see him as such was surely the direct cause of Percy’s relief.
As for his feeling of reassurance, well. He merely wanted to be certain that Vinnie wasn’t just surviving, but fully thriving in his life. Rather like Percy’s own mother’s occasional calls to her son, the slight worry in her tone at times as she asked the usual list of questions: Is work going well? Have you found a nice girl yet? You’re staying on top of any issues? Are you getting enough Vitamin C? Etc. etc., her questions would go on all night if Percy let her.
He usually did. He, the oh so dutiful son, had a waiting ear for any questions and complaints his mother needed to offer. No matter how long the list.
His meandering thoughts of playing the parent to the errant child had loosely began to tie themselves together when Vinnie’s weight suddenly rested on him, world-weariness decorating his slouch. “Service doesn’t start for another--” a quick glance at his trusty watch, forever both the master of and the slave to time, “--ten minutes. I don’t think we’ll lose our places; everyone else wants to sit close to the pastor for his message.” Percy smiled ruefully, noting that the man who had emerged from a side chamber was decidedly younger, and much more handsome, than the usual conception of a religious leader. “And when I say his message, I don’t mean the words he has to deliver.”
“Come on, let’s get you outside.” He stood, carefully pulling Vinnie to his feet as well in the process. “The Lord can wait.” What couldn’t wait, Percy had decided privately, was asking Vinnie (outside of the church, as seemed only proper) if he’d looked in a mirror lately. Specifically, if he’d noticed his eyes had gone full herbivore.
In the moment, Vinnie was fairly certain Percy didn’t see him as a charity case, his certainty in the urge to trust the other man and let him have his back solid enough to keep the anxieties at bay. For now, they seemed less pressing than the discomfort of his nice clothes; were they this tight when he’d put them on?
His eyes rolled up to glance in the direction of soft greetings, and a wan smile spread across his face. The man cut an appealing figure in his robes, with a welcoming smile and a mop of dark curls crowning his head. “I can think of a few things I would like to deliver to him,” he muttered, his voice shaking with whispery, half-embarrassed laughter because they were still in a church (right now, that was not something he could forget.)
It was a relief when Percy pulled him to his unsteady feet; despite his chuckling over the priest, well hidden under his words was a slowly growing rage that rolled in the pit of his stomach, making him feel nauseous. As he kept pace with his friend, not too proud to lean against him a little, Vinnie tried, in vain, to ignore it and the building anxiety. There wasn’t any reason for him to be like this, for him to feel offended, betrayed, and so angry that it felt like bile at the back of his throat. He wanted to throw his head back and scream until the walls of this false church around them came tumbling down; to tear at what remained and sanctify it in blood and love.
He was going crazy. “Percy--” he managed to choke past the lump in his throat, his voice soft and high enough to shave years off his age. The smell of grass and dirt filled his nose in the second before he felt lips press against his forehead and a low, masculine voice whisper “anapauó”, and then everything stopped.
What slumped against Percy was a young man; what opened his eyes again, though it looked the same for the time being, moved in a manner unlike him. He straightened, pulled himself to a greater height when he rocked onto the balls of Vinnie’s feet. The nice shoes Vinnie worried so about strained against the widening of the boy’s feet as they began to harden, change form. The thing puppeting him took no heed, glancing around the cloister, an uncharacteristic sneer twisting Vinnie’s mouth. In the course of looking at their surroundings, his gaze landed on Percy, and his expression softened.
“Come; we’re leaving this profane place.” The voice that spoke was still Vinnie’s but altered; the rhythm of his words had changed, his tone less that of a man who worried about offending and instead that of one who expected to be listened to. Yet he still paused to await Percy's answer, a faint smile playing at the corners of his lips.
The change in Vinnie was immediate, a drastic measure which Percy watched occur with sharp, sudden clarity. Before him, Stella’s timely turtlesitter stood transformed, yet not so much in appearance as in attitude and bearing. Had Percy not known any better, he would have sworn that Vinnie had a sly twin waiting eagerly to take the lead, his arrival a fated matter meant to set the world right.
He wasn’t certain where that particular thought came from, but he was all too ready to accept it--and fully embrace it, were such a thing possible. For the moment, however, he silently steadied himself in the face of this new, strange side of Vinnie; Percy’s blue eyes were lit with an undeniable curiosity, noting the differences in his friend. Even his cadence sounded otherworldly.
“Where are we going?” he asked the acutely offended man. “I’m not used to being led, but stranger things have happened this month.” This year, really. Everything odd that had ever happened to Percy had occurred within the past year. “I should tell you,” he continued, unable to keep the playful smirk from his features, “you might want to invest in sunglasses. There’s something to be said for Halloween contacts, but I doubt those are fake.” Percy shifted from foot to foot restlessly, stepping forward towards the paved walkway that led away from the church cloister. He felt curiously eager to leave the church--to go anywhere, because anywhere would be fine as long as the younger man would safely be with him.
The god--or devil, or whatever has straightened Vinnie’s spine, raised an eyebrow at the suggestion of covering his eyes. Without answering Percy’s first question he began to walk again, a hand snaking back to grab one of Percy’s. There is a strip of trees across the street, not nearly deep enough for his liking but it is green enough to taste between his teeth. “What have I to hide? It is good that they see; it will be good that they know I walk again. These blasphemers are not the only ones who have remembered me, and my faithful should know that I have heard their prayers.
“Those who have cried for me across the centuries should know their reward is coming, and those who strayed should know the same, and fear it.” The low, steady cadence of his promises wavered at the end, losing a touch of their surety as he tilted his head, listening. It took the god merely a second to recognize the scratching came from within; his vessel pressing against him, not fully awake but still driven by instinct to reclaim his body, protect those around him from the cold rage that radiated from the god when he spoke of the traitorous ones. It was impressive, but nothing compared to the might that Pan possessed even weak as he was. It would be a simple thing to push the boy back down, force him to sleep or to watch from behind his own eyes as a passenger.
But that would terrify the boy, who was already so afraid and lost. A traitor he might be, but only because he had been fed lies from infancy by the church, by that woman. The last thing he wanted was to give his gentle one a reason to be afraid; and so Pan quickened his step, Vinnie’s feet heavy on the pavement as the god piloting his body changed course. “But enough of that. I have a favor to ask of you, Percy. Perhaps two, though the first I see you do of your own accord.”
None of this was normal, and none of it was anything less than exciting in the oddest manner; certainly, Percy would never consider being tugged across the street by a downstairs neighbor who had been possessed by a goat-eyed creature as being fun, but that did not mean it wasn’t entertaining. And somehow he was not afraid, not worried in the slightest; he had no belief whatsoever that Vinnie had actually lost his mind.
The rambling, however, he couldn’t quite understand. Oh, he tried; he listened carefully, studying the changes that had occurred to his friend’s entire demeanor. Truly, Percy did his best to listen to the man’s declarations, understanding that they clearly carried with them old scores that were never settled, but knowing none of the details. Not yet, anyway.
“Two favors? I might not be feeling that generous after you tugged me away from Saturday Night Vigil,” Percy smiled, carefully eying Vinnie. Were he feeling oddly fatherly, he might have crossed his arms and chastised his changed neighbor, for acting so foolishly in the House of the Lord. Instead, he rested one hand casually against one of the thin trees which offered little shade and half as much oxygen, thinking. His entire attitude suggested that nothing out of the ordinary was occurring between the two of them, it was simply a chat between old friends.
“I don’t know who you are, but you’ve got a lot of gall--and I like that, and so I’ll listen,” he stated, feeling for the second time this evening as if he wasn’t in complete control of his own words. “But if I don’t like your favor, and I don’t like what it’ll do to Vinnie, then I’m not granting it. Period. Them’s the breaks, kid.” He hummed as he peered at the other man, counting a few beats silently in his head before he continued--to what extent he would make progress, he wasn’t sure. But he needed to try, or he might never see the gentle-souled first floor resident again.
“First, tell me what you want. Secondly, tell me who you are. I don’t like doing business with men whose names I don’t know.”
Pan leaned against one of the thin trees, trusting it not to dump him on his tail with almost childish belief. As Percy laid out his terms the god leaned down, humming thoughtfully as he began to work the strained, tearing leather shoes off his feet with some difficulty. The cause of his frowning and discomfort was made apparent when he freed one--hoof, black and split down the middle just like a goat's. Vinnie's face showed not the slightest bit of concern, and why should it? This is natural.
He tossed the shoes aside carelessly, the god beginning to chuckle as he straightened. “You will stand there and threaten not to do what is in your nature?” As he spoke, the god worked at the buttons of a vest that felt constricting, tugging them free impatiently in his desire to be free of the layer. It dropped to the floor just as carelessly as Vinnie's shoes had, and he began work on the shirt underneath. “You would refuse a favor owed, and let the boy fall into ruin and darkness all alone, simply for spite?” The smile that curved his lips was confident, that of a being who already knew the answer to be in his favor.
“All I ask of you is to watch over the boy, as you. have been, and I ask you to deliver to him a message from me. Simple enough, yes?” The gentleness of his request was contrasted by the sudden shift of his hair, a set of wicked horns pushing their way skyward from under the cover of Vinnie's slicked-back hair.
This was California, the land of weird in more ways than one--or so Percy had quickly learned since moving here. It was why, at least at first, he didn’t blink an eye at the other man’s sudden partial-strip game.
Or whatever you’d call it when someone starts actively undressing on a public street across from a Catholic Church.
And then he did blink, finally; it was a slow, languid blink of surprise, and Percy knew in that moment that if he hadn’t seen everything in the world, he was most assuredly getting a lot closer to doing so.
“Sure, I can deliver a message,” he said carefully, now staring wide-eyed between Not-Vinnie and the shoes laying haphazardly on the sidewalk. The side of Percy’s mouth quirked up when he managed to look completely at the pair of hooves which Vinnie now sported. “I didn’t know that hooves were in fashion, but if I were you, I wouldn’t lose the kid’s clothes in front of a church. You’ll mortify him.” And with that, Percy gathered Vinnie’s poor shoes, standing across from the goat-eyed man--who looked oddly at home in his slightly disheveled state.
There it was again, that niggling feeling, that this wasn’t strange at all. This was okay, because it was completely normal. His blue eyes blinked in surprise for an embarrassing second time before he recovered his composure.
“Look, I’m not out to ruin Vinnie’s life,” Percy informed Not-Vinnie, in a more serious tone than he’d intended. “Tell me what you want to say, and I’ll make sure he knows. But…” And here he paused, uncharacteristically lost for words. “Are you going to let him come back?”
The thing in Vinnie’s body laughed, and it sounded so very much like Vinnie’s, bright and full of joy. But the boy had never laughed from the belly like this being did, never allowed his voice to roll deep and outward without care for volume. The young man would have covered his mouth; Pan tugged at the shirt, heedless of Percy’s warning. Why should a vessel of his wish to hide the body they’d been given?
But it was shame that stilled his hands, a deep-rooted cringe that left the god blinking, dumbfounded. Is that what it felt to be ashamed? His face twisted with surprise, powerful voice momentarily stolen in a potent mix of confusion and anger beginning to simmer on behalf of the man whose body he moved in.
The fury had only begun to harden his features when Percy posed his own, halting question. From the lips of anyone else it wouldn’t have halted his rage, but to see even an incomplete aspect of his father so hesitant with worry broke his temper as waves break against the shore. His expression gentled, his hands fell away from the delicate dress shirt as he stepped forward.
“Of course.” Vinnie’s voice was as soft as the touch of his hand against Percy’s cheek, though his fingers and palm held the calluses of a musician and a working man. “Forgive me; you are both so lost, and I failed to realize. Though I would deeply love to spirit him away to somewhere kinder, I have no desire to keep the two of you separated. There is so much the two of you have yet to discover, and so much he has yet to do.”
“Such an adventure you two will have,” he finished in a whisper, his yellowed eyes looking through Percy’s face, focused on a distant vision only he could see. Vinnie’s face smiled briefly, the warmth of the expression lingering as he focused again on the other man’s face. “I haven’t much time; he is so afraid for you.” The skin around his eyes tightens in a brief grimace; Vinnie’s fear isn’t the only pressure against Pan’s back. He is still so weakened by the centuries of hanging between life and death. “The message I have to impart upon you is simply that I am sorry. The gift I have given to him was never meant for his tender heart, but it was the only way to keep him safe.”
“Tell him that, Percy, and make certain that he listens.”
Percy wasn’t exactly accustomed to other men touching his face. Sure, a few parties had gotten out of hand in college, but that was long ago in the past--and he was quite satisfied dating women, thank you very much. Still, Not-Vinnie’s initial touch startled him (enough to widen his eyes, though not jerk backwards from the other man; a sense of malice or skewed interest seemed evidently lacking from Not-Vinnie, and Percy didn’t particularly want to draw attention to themselves right now, for how could he explain why his friend had cloven, devil-goat feet?).
His surprise turned into confusion, and then careful consideration, as Not-Vinnie spoke. Brows furrowed, Percy stared hard at the other man. The message he’d been given was not for him to judge, and yet he couldn’t help but feel a thread of worry beginning to twist and knot.
“I will,” he found himself saying, amongst the turmoil of thoughts that were currently swimming around in his mind. There would be time later to better analyze what he’d been told, to assess the particulars and question the mysteries. Right now, he needed to be certain that Vinnie would come back to himself.
And put his shoes back on, preferably.
“I’ll tell him for you, and when I speak, he will listen.” The certainty in Percy’s voice did not come entirely from himself; it nestled, warm and eager, in the pit of his stomach--a surety, a bonafide guarantee of delivery and acceptance that did not broker questions. It fit him like a well-worn glove, and once he’d said the words, he knew he would never take them back.
“Now go,” he said softly, with less force than his earlier decree. Only then did Percy shake off Not-Vinnie’s touch, his every nerve pushing him to move, to create action, to put things into motion as they should be. “Go, and let Vinnie enjoy the sacramental wine. The kid needs a little solace.”
The thing in Vinnie’s body smiled, broad and warm as a raging hearth fire, when the much-sought promise was finally extracted. Percy was enough of his father that it would be kept, this Pan knew as he knew his own names--better, actually. Even so; “Do not underestimate the boy’s potential to obstinate,” he warned. “He may make a liar of your promise.”
Percy’s command to be gone spurs him to raise a skeptical eyebrow, his head tilting even as a smile plays at his lips. “You are both very fortunate that I am a kind god,” he muttered, steel underlying the softness of his speech. Instead of moving away, Pan raised his arms to rest them around the other man’s shoulders in a loose hug, one hand clasping the other. He let out a lungful of air that might have been a whisper, and with it the inhuman features simply vanished like a dream.
Left behind was a very human man, swaying on his feet and blinking dark, normal eyes at Percy as though struggling to wake. “Perc’?” The words were mumbled, but the inflection, the softness, the slightly higher pitch were all the young man who’d asked who’d been babysitting Stella in the afternoons. “Really you?”
Percy might have laughed at the Other's quip, but the oddity of the situation had tempered his good humor; he found it again when not-Vinnie embraced him, the simplicity of the gesture masking its underlying meaning.
And then Vinnie was back, his actual neighbor and young friend, looking as if he'd been worn out from the Other's time spent playing within his soul like it was little more than a paper doll to bend to his will. (Had there been actual wickedness in the other man, though? Percy would ask himself this question again later, and then consequently remember that the only boiling contempt not-Vinnie had held was seemingly for the God Percy had taken Vinnie to see.)
“Yeah, kid,” Percy said lightly, no double entendre meant by his comment, “it's me.” Smiling in relief, Percy reached up with his free hand, striving to disentangle Vinnie’s loose hold on him. “Good thing for you, I held onto your shoes during that…trip you just took.” He tilted his head slightly, studying Vinnie with open concern--and eager curiosity.
“Mind telling me about it, or am I the only one that remembers?” He didn't give himself time to think about the strangeness of it all, nor did he give Vinnie time to answer; he pushed onwards, the message eating away at the general direction of his heart. “He's sorry, by the way. He didn't mean to give you a gift that would burden you.” Although Percy had no idea what the gift actually was, his casual tone evaporated with the deliverance of not-Vinnie’s message. The solemnity of it was not to be turned into a carefree jest; it deserved recognition, and it deserved respect.
As did Vinnie. As did whoever that Other had been, which Percy fervently believed in a sacred part of himself.
Said young friend stared blankly at Percy as the man reassured him, both that he was no dream and the safety of his shoes, as though the words he spoke were whispers in the dream Vinnie seemed still to be awakening from. The other man trying to remove his hands drew more response from the young man, his eyebrows drawing together and his lower lip curling in a soft pout. Regardless of his obvious reluctance Vinnie didn't fight him on it, pulling his hands back against his chest like fragile things.
The frown only deepens when Percy asks what Vinnie remembers, his dark eyes going unfocused again. “I was somewhere green,” he mumbled in Spanish, following a pause of nearly a minute. “Someone was touching me.” Stroking his hair, occasionally letting their hand trail onto his bare shoulder. Everything had smelled of dirt and greenery, like the forest he ran in as a child. He'd been warm, and though he couldn't move or open his eyes it didn't frighten him.
That he has not enough words to describe it doesn't bother him as much as realizing, a second later, that Percy probably couldn't understand him. That was so rude, and he drew in a breath to string together an apology.
His thought process is derailed completely by the apology offered, Vinnie blinking owlishly as the words filtered into his dazed mind. “Then why did he do it,” came the muttered question, the weight of his bun shifting against the nape his neck as the man shook his head, confused. The vertigo that followed made him wince, a hand going to his head.
“I need to sit down.”
Percy frowned when Vinnie lapsed into what he could only assume was his first language; he didn’t frown out of annoyance, however, save for annoyance with himself--that in this precise moment of emotional need, he isn’t able to understand his friend.
Well, at least until Vinnie displayed an obvious sign of fatigue, clearly paired with a spot of pain. This he can help with, and maybe in the process garner more information from Vinnie. (And in the meantime, Percy figured he might be able to get a grip on himself, not to mention reality.)
“There’s benches in the courtyard of the church,” he ended up saying with a nod aimed across the street. They were missing the service that Vinnie had so dearly wanted to attend, not to mention the charming presence of the handsome pastor; Percy isn’t blind, and Vinnie is, as far as Percy knows, still single.
“Let’s go sit down and we can talk about it. Or not--it’s your choice.” He offered his shoulder to lean on, willing to help the younger man across the street and to a safe, more private spot than standing on the side of a relatively busy street.
Sadly, and perhaps tellingly of how wrung out his brief sojourn into the passenger's seat of his own body had left him, the view to be had inside didn't even occur to him. The thought of going inside would twist his stomach; not now, with his head pounding like a war drum and the smell of greenery so thick it felt caught in his teeth.
Vinnie stared at the other man, his dark eyes slightly out of focus, as though he were staring at something a distance behind Percy instead of his face. After a moment of running the idea through a labored mind, he nodded, accepting the offer of help by looping an arm around the taller man's shoulders. Awkward, but Vinnie made no protest as he followed Percy to the benches, uncharacteristically subdued.
His silence broke only when he lowered himself onto the bench with a soft grunt. His eyes closed, and he slumped forward to bury his face in his hands, his stomach tightening. Only then did he shake his head, a silent answer to Percy's offer of discussing what happened.
“Let's just go.”