Author's Note: I can't promise anything with this story. To those of you who haven't noticed my unlike-me updates lately, I've kind of gone crazy since becoming pregnant with my second child. I have no idea where this story is going. But I figured I wrote enough to give it a show.

So, enjoy. Or not. It's your parade.

My Pet Goddess

by Lowefantasy


On the night he finally allowed one of his waiters to have an open mic poetry event, a silver-haired beauty slid into a stool at his bar. Usually, one would do a double take at the metallic gleam atop such a youthful face, but he had gotten used to seeing things that others didn't. To everyone else in the room, her hair probably came off as platinum blond or even just the more common late harvest, wheat gold.

But it wasn't her hair that made him sigh inwardly. She had the look. Not to mention she was alone. A lone young pretty thing at a bar looking like that usually meant extra work for him in the form of scaring off hopeful losers and predators.

Nonetheless, he had on his practiced smile as he slid down to her.

"What can I get you, Miss?"

She jumped a little. Yet another sign.

"Uh, um," she looked down at her hands in her lap. "I'm not much of a drinker. Do you have anything sweet?"

"Course. Shall I surprise you?"

She gave a weak little smile.

Something like déjà vu stirred bout his mind.

"Sure," she said. "No bananas though."

He mentally shook off the déjà vu. After seeing hundreds of generations upon generations of humans, seeing familiar faces was inevitable. If he didn't know better, he'd swear reincarnation was actually a thing.

"Got it. Anything to eat? Probably best if you're wanting a drink with a kick."

She looked over at the stage, where some sad native American looking guy with a beer gut had stood up behind the mic, holding a wrinkled bit of paper.

"Most of the time I can't be home, because I'm a truck driver," he said. "So I wrote a little something to remind me of home, or of those at home."

"Something easy," she said. "I…don't have much of an appetite."

"How does a ham and cheese sandwich sound? We even got some alfalfa sprouts and a special house dressing to go with it. And it's cheap, so it shouldn't hurt your pocket."

"Sounds great," she said, with another not-all-there smile. "Thank you."

"Hey, I'm here to serve."

With that, he crossed the space behind his bar to the door, which was one of those kinds that are cut in half so they have a separate bottom and top half that can be closed at different times. He leaned over the closed bottom of the door, shouted out the sandwich order, then sunk back to his heels once he heard the verifying 'yeah' from the cook. On his way back to her, he grabbed some fruit juice from the cooler and a smoother, more tolerable bourbon from the second shelf. Instead of grabbing a martini glass, though, he went for something with more of a belly. She did, after all, have that look, and a martini just wouldn't cut it. Part of a being a good barkeep, after all, was being able to read your customers, such as what they need and when they really, really should stop.

With a bright blue paper umbrella to top it off, he slid the colorful cocktail down to her, a mixture of slushie, juice, alcohol, and mashed pineapple.

"And here's your surprise, Miss. If you don't like it, just let me know. I'll make you up a different one, free of charge."

"Oh. That's very kind of you."

"Nah. You need it."

She looked up at him with something like surprise, as the less experienced drinkers were prone to do, but instead of questioning him, she took a tentative sip on the red straw beside the little, paper blue umbrella.

The tail end of the truck driver's poem came to an end to a faint—very faint—applause. Most of the customers who had cared to even listen hung to their drinks like a child to a pacifier and had little energy to spare to congratulate someone's wordy mediocrity.

The truck driver didn't seem to mind. This was a bar, after all, he was correct not to expect much. But he did end up on the other end of the bar, wrinkled paper gone.

"Yo, barkeep. Got any good old fashion rum?" asked the would-be-poet.

"Is the Pope Catholic?" he asked back with a wink. "What's your flavor?"

"I like that Caribbean stuff, with the mango or something."

"Makes you feel like a pirate, don't it?"

The trucker gave a low laugh. "Hell yeah."

As he moved away from the girl to fetch the order, the cook, a sharp-eyed guy with bleached gray hair hung a plate over the doorway.

"Oy, got that sandwich."

"Thanks, Ban."

"And I got the philly cheese for table three too." Red eyes glanced around. Another strange thing most besides the barkeep wouldn't see. "Escanor being thesbian?"

"Not yet." He put his sandwich free hand to his mouth. "Hey! Escanor! Your job's calling!"

The thin, almost diminutive ginger flinched where he had been sneaking to the stage and scurried over, hands to his chest—a nervous habit no one had had the luck to break yet.

"Is it the philly for table three?" he asked.

In answer, Ban held out a steaming, meaty plate. The cook's arms were so long, even the smaller Escanor didn't need to lean over the bar much to reach the plate. Despite his nervous appearance, he handled the food with deft, practiced hands and didn't so much as teeter on the way to table three.

By then, the barkeep had managed to get some rum in a classically beautiful brown glass to his trucker friend and was on his way to deliver the sandwich to the girl.

Unfortunately, she's already been joined, and judging by the look on her face, it wasn't invited.

The broad, slightly overweight blond man, probably in his thirties, leaned heavily on the bar beside her as he murmured whatever sad excuse for a pickup line someone with that sort of taste in plaid button ups could have.

"Here's your sandwich, Miss!" he said jovially, then turned the same expression to her unwanted guest. "It's probably best you left her alone, she's had a bad day and has a mean right hook."

Normally, those kinds of words wouldn't be enough to deter your average flirtatious drunk.

But, then, Meliodas wasn't your average barkeep.

Thus, the seedy blond man threw up his arms in surrender and shuffled away without another word.

She did a little grateful dip of her head, sending the lights dancing down her metallic hair.

"Thank you. Though you didn't have to lie about the, uh, punching."

"It wasn't entirely a lie," he said cheerfully as he pulled up various condiments for her from underneath the bar, just in case. "If he had tried anything, all you'd need to do is send me a look and I'd be that mean right hook for you. Though, granted, I'm left-handed. Probably for the best."

That got him another sad smile and another wave of déjà vu. "You're sweet."

"Just part of my job," he said, snapping up a fresh rag from his apron to wipe down the residual condensation left over by blond-and-desperate. The guy had to be one of those—the kind that sweated no matter what their stasis, but even more so inside with booze.

"I hear stories of barkeeps like that. Though, I've never had the chance to meet one."

"That's because you're not the kind to visit a bar in the first place." At her shocked look, he gave her his most easy smile. "Part of the job, sweetheart. I can tell that much about you."

"Oh…is it that obvious?"

"Depends on who's looking," he caught sight of Escanor, plate free, creeping up to the tiny corner stage towards the microphone. "Oy! We got new customers at five, Escor!"

Escanor flinched and morosely melted back off the stage.

"Is he a performer?" she asked, a sandwich half part-way to her mouth.

"Also depends on who's looking. He's a closet poet and I agreed to let him have an open mic night tonight, granted he could stay on top of his job."

"Is he good?"

Meliodas shrugged. "I ain't one to judge poetry."

"Order up!" barked a droll voice from the kitchen.

Since Escanor looked busy with the new party of four, the long arm of the chef sucked back in and put the plate beneath the warmer. If Meliodas had wanted to, he could have delivered the order, but who would play waiter when there was a sad, silver-haired beauty to talk to?

"So," he put his elbows on the bar, settling his face in his palms. "What's got you dropping down to a place like this? Bad boyfriend? Existential crisis?"

Her mouth twitched, as he knew it would. "I'm…actually not entirely sure."

"So existentialism?"

"Not quite as broad as that," she said, the twitch turning into one of her first sincere smiles, albeit still a small one. "More like my job."

"Asshole boss?"

"Oh! No. She's actually really, really nice, especially for a boss. She takes really good care of us." She hesitated, biting into the sandwich. Her eyebrows furrowed. "At least she is to us on her personal staff…"

"So she plays favorites."

The girl nodded, once more sending lights dancing down her hair. Even a normal man would be able to catch that kind of shimmer, silver hair or not. Dang, and she just let that gorgeous mane sprawl down her back like a waterfall, only a hair clip over her left ear to contain it. Meliodas couldn't even pick up any hair products other than shampoo with his sharp sense of smell. Just her own unique womanly musk with a splash of something floral, probably some Herbal Essence brand.

He let her have some time to eat as he scanned over the room and checked up on the rum-hugging Indian. Escanor made it back to deliver the order and was already half running to the table, probably hoping to get a few lines in at the mic before more patrons came in.

He ambled back down. "Did she play favorites with the wrong person or is this, a… general mistreatment of the workforce?"

Her eyebrows furrowed again. She swallowed and took another sip of her drink. "That's what I'm not sure of. This is really good, by the way. The drink, I mean. Oh, and the sandwich."

"I'll let the chef know. Kinda strange you're not sure. Do you not have much contact with people outside of your staff?" And, because he had to put the disclaimer somewhere. "You don't have to tell me. I am being rather nosey. As a general rule some of the best barkeeps are." Also it was the easiest way to ward off the unwanted from thinking they could take advantage of her, pretty, sad, and drinking as she was, no matter how weak her drink was.

She pressed her lips together at that, and for a moment Meliodas though she would take him up on that offer. But then she sighed and put a hand to her brow.

"That's the thing. We have plenty of contact with the other workers as part of our job, and that's when…" she shook herself. "I just don't know anymore. I thought she just didn't like men."

"Bad experience?"

"Something like that," said the girl with another sip of her colorful drink. Somehow the little paper umbrella had ended up in the lone hair clip above her left ear. "All the people on her personal staff are women who don't have boyfriends, or even never had one. One of my co-workers says there's a rumor that she also makes sure we're all virgins, like some weird fairytale witch, and she's worked there for a long time, longer than any of us, but…" she gave a dry laugh. "See? She's that kind of boss. One people like to make up stories about."

Meliodas frowned, mostly to himself.

"That doesn't sound like any reason for a usually happily sober girl to come down here."

She paused mid-sip and picked up her sandwich again instead, something dark passing across her blue eyes. As she chewed, Meliodas refilled the rum for the trucker, dropped the usual by a frequent customer that had just arrived, and slid back down with a glass of water which he paired up with her mostly finished cocktail.

"Weird how discrimination works, huh?" he said, lightly. "You're a girl or a minority and you can say whatever you want. Be white or just male and all's fair."

She swallowed in sigh. "It doesn't make it right…and, well…"

He waited patiently as she internally debated with herself. By reading the slump in her shoulders and the light pink over her nose, he could already guess she was already getting a good buzz. Very lightweight. Her blue eyes shimmered with tears, and he gave another inward sigh. She'd be one of those drunks. Best stop her while she's ahead.

"I think she may have murdered someone."

That made gave him pause, along with the almost inaudible way she had whispered it.

"That's some heavy stuff," he said, aiming for a middle ground between casual and a tone that said he was ready to take her seriously, if she wanted.

She brought her hands together in front of her, and for the first time he noticed how they shook and the almost purple pallor they held.

"It's common knowledge she's hard on the guys. But a few of them…a few of them I knew, and I tried to get in contact with them after they were fired to ask what happened, but they wouldn't answer. I didn't think of it much, but today…today…" Her eyes grew brighter. Her hands clenched together, bringing out her white, strained tendons against the violet and gray pale of her skin.

After a minute of silence, he picked up her cocktail.

"Refill?" he asked.

Her too-bright eyes flinched to him, but she nodded.

"It is good."

"Lucky try on my part. But this is your last one, kay?"

A thin smile. "Another part of being a good barkeep?"

He grinned, despite the heavy atmosphere she had brought. "Only one of the most important parts."

As he took her near empty glass away and gathered up the ingredients for another, his mind raced over his observations of her so far. Light drinker, at most, troubled, alone, pretty (beautiful, really), with a drop of something not human she may or may not know about, given that hair, a sweet tooth, and those hands…

Something had spooked her bad. You couldn't fake hands like those.

When he returned with the cocktail, this time a pink umbrella in it rather than blue, he didn't give it to her right away.

"It'd be best if you tried to finish your sandwich before going at this," he said, all apologetic. "Food on the stomach helps the alcohol not hit you so fast, and I can tell you're already on some side of tipsy. But, nonetheless, you are the customer, so if you really want it…"

"No. I trust you, Mr. Barkeep. Like you said, I don't have much experience with this."

He smiled and put the glass to the side of her, almost out of arms reach. "Meliodas. None of this 'mister' crap, makes me feel like I'm old."

For the first time, she met his eyes and he could feel her getting a good look at him, which gave him some chagrin. He wasn't exactly the tall and handsome type. Actually, he was rather short, most likely shorter than her, and with a babyface to boot. Some of the regular patrons still called him 'kid,' though it didn't take the younger ones long to learn that calling this barkeep kid when he was technically older than them wasn't the best idea. That got you on the floor, watching all the pretty stars.

"You have one of those faces that never age," she said. "For all I know, you could be old."

He had to smile at that. So she had a good head on her shoulders too. Or, at least, she was observant.

Which made her talk of murder and disappearances all the more troublesome. While this wasn't the first time he'd heard confessions like these, it was about as rare as the next person could have guessed. One just didn't wander into a bar and start talking high end federal crimes. Especially those who knew anything about his bar.

"Alright," he said, calmly. "Dominatrix boss, disappearing dudes, I can get that. But what makes you think the big M is part of it?"

Despite having a mouth full of the second half of her sandwich, she reached for the cocktail at his words, the handshaking worse than ever. She managed to pull it over to her without incident though and took a long, sweet drag.

"My…one of my coworkers got engaged last week…" she licked her lips, not meeting his eye. "He worked on a different floor. But he got fired and vanished too, except…except she knows there's no way he would just cut her off like that, and no one could give a clear reason why he had been let go. She had the key to his apartment, though, but when she went in, she said…she said…"

"Mmm, lots of blood and gore?"

The girl shook her head hard, sending the little blue umbrella in her hair flying. He caught it deftly and slipped it back into place without her notice, though he doubted she'd notice much with the look coming on to her face. Her mind had gone somewhere else.

"All his stuff was being moved out by a moving company that told her the resident had died and all his stuff was being taken to auction." Her voice had become little more than a rasp at this point, and he didn't say anything when she took another long drag on her cocktail. "And—and she called his parents and…and they said they had never had a son by that name, and they acted like they didn't even know her too. They'd been dating for over two years. She'd gone to his parents house multiple times for holidays. And then human relations found one of those crazy drugs that make you see stuff and chew on your own arms or whatever in her purse and she got fired, so naturally I went to check up on her after work because losing your fiancé and then your job, but…she…"

He waited, still, keeping his expression as smooth as possible, neither to scare or encourage her.

"She looked at me like I was crazy." The bright eyes turned to him, and a lone, frightened tear went down her cheek. "Like I had taken those drugs in her purse. She said she had never been engaged and didn't know who I was talking about. She—she said men were just trouble anyways, and—"

Those slender, gray-purple, trembling hands clenched around her colorful drink.

"And m-m-my boss," the shaking had moved on to the rest of her body. "M-m-my boss…."

He saw it coming from a mile away. With practiced, lightning-like speed, he had the little trash can over the bar into her lap, just in time to catch the violent retch that caught her off guard. He shot a look at the heads that turned to her, willing them to look away. Like they had never barfed at the bar either. Even the newer patrons seemed to get his message loud and clear and quickly looked away.

"Escanor, cover me over here a bit, will ya?"

The waiter, who had once more been trying to sneak back to the mic on stage, wilted down, though the disappointment vanished as he saw Meliodas with his hand full of the girl's hair to keep it from falling into the trashcan with the vomit. Without another word, Escanor trotted to the Native American and the regular to tend to their alarm.

"She only had one and a half of those sweet things," muttered the Indian. "Is there something going on?"

"First time," said Escanor. "Don't worry, the manager has her."

And Meliodas did. He had even caught the little blue paper umbrella as she heaved and put it to the side. Her hair was as soft as he had predicted, satin smooth and cool as metal, if not as heavy.

Ban stuck his head over the half door. "Code three?"

"Let's go with that," said Meliodas over the sound of another heave. "Maybe four. You got a way home?"

Ban snorted. "Now you're just being mean. You're the one who needs a ride."

"My car works perfectly fine," said Meliodas, all nonchalance as though he didn't have his hands literally full of puking girl.

"Oh, so you got the phone books? Or is it a crate? Are we still talking cars?"

With more practiced, fluid-like speed, Meliodas whipped up a pen from his apron and speared it through the air like an arrow, where it hit Ban, several yards away, square between the eyes. The chef swore and withdrew back into the kitchen, while the regular and Indian gave an unsure applause, though they stayed quiet in case Meliodas had a pen for them as well.

Once she seemed to be catching her breath, he twisted up her hair and tucked it beneath the back of her shirt.

"Do you have anyone I can call to take you home?"

She shuddered, then shook her head. That also made him frown.

"Mind if I take you, then?"

She coughed. "I-I couldn't—"

"Just doing my job. Don't worry. And these guys here know to call the cops if they think I'm doing something tasteless, right?" He looked over at the two other patrons at the bar.

They instantly jumped, nodding. "Oh, yeah, sure—"

"If I even thought it—"

"No rapist in this establishment—"

Hoping that helped her feel safer, he carefully exchanged the trashcan for a thick, paper bag, which she kept her face bent over, despite the color in her face and an easing to her trembling. He unhitched the little door and walked out from behind the bar, leaving his apron slung over the counter.

"Come on," he put a light hand to her slender shoulder. "You can hold onto my arm. I've got you."

As quiet and obedient as a beaten lamb, she slid off the stool and let him lead her out the side door to the employee parking lot, which was little more than a cleaned out alleyway. He opened the passenger side of his old, green Chevy truck and handed her in. Thankfully, it was a toy truck, so he didn't have to lift her anywhere. She slid down and in as though it were any old sedan. Her feet kicked out an empty soda cup, which he disposed of so quick, he was sure had she been in her right mind he would have startled her. Forcing himself to move at human speeds became especially difficult for him in a crisis.

And she was a crisis. Everything he had observed made his instincts flail. This boss of hers sounded like she'd be making tonight extra long for him.

"You're gonna be okay. I'm taking you home."

The violent shaking of her head stopped him from closing the door.

"No. No, please no," she said hoarsely.

"Are you afraid of going there?"

She hesitated, then gave a very tremulous nod, which brought some strands of her silver hair from her shirt and past her blotchy face and shivering, wet eyes.

"Alright, then. Are you okay with coming to my place? If not, I can take you wherever you want. You have any family nearby?"

She shivered, crunching the paper bag. "Your-your place…is fine…"

And that bothered him. Yes, alcohol lowered inhibitions, but this girl was borderline hysterical. Being so quick to be taken to another man's house, and in the state she was in…

He took a tentative sniff of the air for the first time since he had sensed her vomit coming. High sense of smell and vomit don't mix, mouth breathing was a must.

He smelled fear. The raw, animalistic kind fringed with adrenaline and desperation.

"Alright," he said quietly. "Everything's going to be okay. I won't let anyone hurt you."

And once he had made sure her trembling hands could get the seatbelt in, he closed the door and made his way to the other side.