Note: this is another reminder that i basically destroy all established greek mythology for the sake of my own amusement. and shipping. today, we're pretending demeter is not a sibling to zeus and hades. because that would be really awkward. (even moreso with persephone/soul as his little brother). we cool? we cool.
Because the original meeting is cancelled, Maka eagerly returns to the upperworld a few weeks earlier than planned. It's nearly afternoon when she arrives, still wearing her best robes under her cloak. The wheat fields whisper as they rustle in the warm breeze.
She'd expected Soul to be working at this time, but she's only greeted with the faint sounds of the water wheel turning in the brook.
While she's distracted, Kim plucks a daffodil bloom from one of the many woven into her own extravagant hair and tucks it into Maka's. "At least look like my sister," she grouses as she exits Maka's chariot. Cursing her inability to bring handmaidens to a council, Zeus picks up the excess fabric of her robes to keep them from dragging across the ground. She fumbles with them, trying not to catch her almost talon-like nail job on the material. "I always forget it's so rural here. My sandals are getting dirty."
"Then turn into a deer or something," Maka grumbles, holding her schedule book tightly in her hands and consciously tilting her chin up as befitting a keeper of a realm. She steps off her chariot and nervously makes her way to the front door of Soul's home.
"I can't," Kim complains, following behind her. "Despite being held at this sh- …locale, this is technically going to be a Council, and 'the gods are not to wear disguises'."
"You're the one who made the rules."
Kim grinds her teeth. "I didn't think we'd ever have to convene where there's dirt. Why aren't you even wearing shoes, are you some kind of animal? Urghhh," she shudders.
"I like being down to earth. Unlike some people."
"I'm Keeper of the Sky; what do you want from me? And my puns are way better than yours."
"You try too hard."
Coming to stand on the small stone stoop in front of the mill house's door, Maka blurts, "What if Wes refuses?"
The look Zeus gives her is aggravated, but it does soften a little bit after seeing Maka's anxiety. "Relax. That's why we brought Gran with us," she says, knocking on the door. "Everything will go according to plan."
Maka looks over her shoulder but only sees her chariot and horses in the distance. "Did she get lost, again? I know she thinks every trip is some kind of sightseeing tour."
"She's usually rooted 'cause of work, and all that. Anyway, she's already here."
"Whaddya mean 'what'? Can't you tell?"
Before Maka can ask anything else, the front door opens to a very displeased man. She knows two years have passed, and for a few moments she's unsure if Soul is the one staring stone-faced at the both of them or if it's his immortal brother. After looking into the reflection of eternity stretching behind his eyes, however, she knows.
Kim opens with, "I'm required to attend- I'm not any happier about it than you are."
Demeter briefly bows to Zeus, though he doesn't look happy about it. Quietly, he replies, "I didn't say anything, for the record. If you'd keep both your voices down, I'd be grateful." His red eyes reluctantly flit to Maka before glancing, somewhat puzzled, at her bare feet. "...He's resting," he says.
The house is as simple as Maka remembers, their woodstove dark and unlit. Sparse belongings are housed in bins and on shelves. Bright sunshine washes in through a thrown-open window, the sounds of the water wheel echoing through it. A washbasin is tucked alongside two cushioned pallets that serve as beds.
It smells like sickness. Zeus covers her nose and mouth with the back of her hand, and Maka is amazed her sister actually refrains from making a snide remark about 'freaky mortals'. Mortal in question sleeps curled on his side, shoulders marginally broader than eight hours ago. An empty bucket sits on the floor near his head.
Maka carefully steps forward, quietly standing at the foot of Soul's bed. His hairline is damp. She has an urge to get closer- to touch him and verify that he's alright- but she feels that, in view of his brother, it wouldn't be appropriate. No one is comfortable when a ruler of the dead visits the ill.
Immortals are not immune to sickness, but after a little ambrosia and rest, they can usually return to their normal selves. Maka is not so sure about humans, however. Her planner holds millions of names that have died from various illnesses throughout history. Questions on her tongue, she looks across the room to Wes for answers, worry seeping in her bones.
His face is unreadable for a moment, which, although confounding, is an improvement over the fury she'd last seen him with. Next to him, Kim waves her over, mouth pulled into a thin line; she doesn't want to get any closer to Soul than she has to.
"Please forgive my refusal of your summons," Wes lowly drawls as he invites the two women to sit at a small dining table. "Hades is a place I physically can not be."
Maka shakes her head, looking over her shoulder at Soul once more. "It was sent in my own ignorance… Is he going to be alright?" she can't help but ask. "Should we send for Iaso? Panacea, maybe?"
Loudly clearing her throat, Kim kicks Maka's chair. Maka whirls back around and guiltily straightens her posture.
Wes watches her like he's not sure what to think. He slowly says, "He'll be fine. He needs rest more than anything." To Kim, he adds, with a wan smile, "Besides, I am all too familiar with the price of blessed tinctures."
Kim delicately rubs her left temple in irritation, careful not to stab herself with her deadly manicure. She takes a deep breath and recites in monotone, "With all parties present, I, Zeus Boulaios, leader of the Moirai and supreme ruler, officially convene the Olympian Coun-"
"Wait." Wes says, unperturbed by Kim's warning growl and flashing eyes. "I was informed three of you would be attending."
Attempting to keep her voice low as to not wake his brother, Kim cracks her knuckles and grits out between clenched teeth, "With. All. Parties. Present. I, Zeus of I'm gonna strangle you, Queen of all gods, officially convene this Olympian Council and if you interrupt me again I will smite you so hard-"
"You wouldn't smite anyone unless someone paid you first," Wes hisses back.
Zeus leans over the dining table, little wisps of her hair floating with static. "Even I can be a philanthropist if it means I get to rip you to pieces."
"I'd like to see you try."
"Has everyone forgotten the Titanomachy? 'Castrate and Conquer'. It's a family motto."
Clearing her own throat, Maka gingerly puts a hand on Kim's shoulder and pushes her back into a less borderline-homicidal posture, now her turn to remind her sister where they are. "If we would tend to the original purpose of this Council, please." She sets her planner on the table, opening it to a page where she has written several notes to help her case. "I am formally expressing my desire to marry your brother."
Wes's mouth pulls into a mild frown. "I'm aware of why you're here." His eyes drift away from her and land on Soul.
She has no idea what to make of his statement. "So… you're okay with it?" she tries. Maka is startled to see a crooked, caustic ghost of a smile on his lips, both familiar and yet also alien- Wes tilts right while Soul tilts left.
Her teeth clench at the bluntness of his answer.
Kim speaks up for her. "Why the hell not? My sister isn't exactly a bad catch- If you ignore the whole gloomy thing she's actually kinda cute." She puts up a hand to halt Maka's offended protests. "She's one of the Big Three, has all the precious stones and metals in the earth at her dispense, and your brother, by virtue of being her consort, would live forever. How is that not the sweetest deal imaginable?"
Wes rests his elbows on the table, leaning on them and tiredly rubbing his face with a hand. He appears so burdened by Kim's presence that he could pass off as Atlas. "It's because you are involved that I want no part of this," he says to Zeus.
"She isn't marrying you. And, for the sake of Tartarus, just get over yourself-"
"You've already stolen his future and now you must take his present?"
"Calm down. You always were too emotional to deal with."
Looking between Kim's sour face and Wes's half-lidded, spiteful eyes, Maka slowly asks, "...What do you mean 'stolen his future'?"
Wes looks more than a little mystified at her ignorance. "You don't know," he says, bewildered. He leans back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest with a humorless laugh. "And here I figured you were in on it together."
"Excuse me?" Maka says, offended. "In on what?"
Kim groans. "Leave her out of this."
"How can I? Only a fool would think this wasn't your doing." Wes says, incredulous. Pressing a palm to the table, he slowly twists and brings a round glass bottle into existence, pulling it out of the wooden surface. Inside is an amber liquid that, when he uncorks the bottle, smells strongly of alcohol. "It's because of you that I've lost him to Hades in the first place," he says, bringing the bottle close to his mouth, "and now she's trying to steal him well before his time."
Zeus clucks her tongue and shakes her head at Demeter as if saying, 'Now you've done it.'
"My name is Maka." Irritation with being spoken of as if she isn't even present taints the timbre of her voice, her words causing anything in the house that originated deep in the earth to faintly hum; various metal and glass objects tremble for their keeper while the woodstove begins to sing. "I will not sit here and be accused of... of what? What are you even insinuating?" Maka's fingers itch to grab her planner and smack the God of the Harvest in the face.
Wes regards the vibrating bottle in his hand for a moment before raising an eyebrow at Maka. "Have you ever wondered why I am undying while my brother isn't?"
She doesn't like where this is heading. Taking a deep breath and quieting her anger's resonance in the room, she says, "To be honest, it is because he is mortal that I haven't had time to wonder much of anything."
Tilting the bottle towards Kim, Wes asks in false-congeniality, "Why don't you tell Maka the story, O Just and Wise One?"
Kim scoffs, rolling her eyes. "Which part? The bit where you gut him like a fish or where you begged me to save his life?"
Maka's eyebrows reach for the ceiling. The temperature of the room begins to plummet.
"I seem to recall that sickle you gifted me was unnaturally sharp for something made of flint," Wes retorts, and it all comes together, then. It hits her like a train. Maka's eyes go wide, mind reeling.
"That's the scar," she blurts, staring at Soul's brother. "It was you?"
Wes brings the malt whiskey to his lips, the pain etched around the corners of his eyes an undeniable affirmation.
She whirls on Kim, pointing a shaking finger. "And you," she wheezes, trying not to raise her voice. "You gave him the Sickle of Cronus?!"
The accused throws her hands in the air, frustrated. "It looked farm-y, okay? I figured he'd get some use out of it-"
"I'm sure you did," Wes flatlines, re-corking the bottle and setting it aside.
"Oh enough with the conspiracy theories," Kim chides. "Was I there in the field holding your arm when you split him open? No. That was our great God of the Harvest."
Wes looks about half a second away from saying something nasty, but he slumps instead, putting his head into his hands with a tired sigh. "It was an accident."
In a voice that might be considered gentle, if not grudgingly so, Kim says, "Oi. You're gonna freeze him if you don't get a grip."
He takes a deep breath, face still firmly planted in his hands. The air begins to warm to a more comfortable temperature.
Maka makes a silent, expectant gesture to her sister, who purses her lips and reaches across the table and helps herself to the bottle of whiskey. "Long story short, I traded one of Panacea's poultices in exchange for Soul's immortality."
As Kim uncorks the bottle, Maka splutters, aghast. "You what?!"
"It's not like he was using it," she insists, taking a swig.
special thanks to a moose, a sheep, and a camel for looking at my gdoc for me before i posted. also thanks again to you lovely reviewers and fanartists!