Tangible Schizophrenia


The Bar I: Beer

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Incest.
Pairing: Connor/Murphy/Odysseus, Diomedes/Cassandra, Clytemnestra/Aegisthus. Hints of other pairings.
Feedback: Whatever you'd like to say.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: AU crossover of Boondock Saints and Troy. Set in a parallel Prohibition-era Boston, so its history didn't quite go as ours did. Supernatural overtones. Spin-off series of The City, a Once Upon a Time in Mexico AU/crossover. Dialogue in italics is in Russian.
Summary: Ode does the rounds, and everyone else figures out that the twins have hit Boston.


Dios didn't know who'd he'd pissed off to get this on his doorstep, but he was willing to apologize if they came and collected the shit right now.

Even more mournful than usual, Cassie was shivering with something that wasn't cold, seeing as the sun was blazing today. He could smell the road tar steaming its oily stench through the narrow streets. "Hi. Can I come in?"

"I'd just like to remind you that I killed a lot of your relatives." Same old routine, always with the same results. With any luck, he could get her out before lunch, when Ode was due to show up with the Los Lobos business. Deal. Offer. Whatever the hell.

"I know. I knew before you did it, but they went out anyway." She picked at a scabbed-over burn on her fingers, then fumbled out a cigarette and shakily lit it. "Il Duce's sons are here."

Oh. Well. That was new.

Then Dios' sense of reality whacked him one with a crowbar and he sprang into action, dragging her in and kicking the door shut in the same motion. Okay, normally he wasn't one for throwing around women, but this time he forgot that he was like that. Kinda understandable, given how she'd just fucked up his worldview something awful. "What?" he hissed, shoving her against the wall. "They're dead-no, they're not even supposed to be real!"

"I've seen," was all Cassie said. She looked as if she were waiting for him to hit her.

For a second, he did think about it. But that wasn't Dios' style, so he managed to restrain himself. "Great. Just…fucking great."

"I can't help it," she muttered, expression going a little touchy. "Look, what's going to happen is not my fault. I just transmit information."

"I know, I know." He ran a hand through his hair, ruffled up the back. Shuffled his feet, trying to think like the man he'd been ten years ago.

Then again, that too-young, too-trigger-happy would've killed Cassie on the spot. There were turf fights, and then there were wars that wrecked spirits and cast the shattered debris up on the bar around the corner, as Odysseus would say. And then Pat or Ach would tease him about messing his metaphors with his drink, and-

Dios wasn't going there. Memories were real sons of bitches when they turned bad.

He cast about for a distraction, but all he saw was Cassie, big dark circles dragging those huge eyes of hers almost down to her chin, cigarette dangerously close to setting her fingernails alight. Dios muttered something his Spanish grandfather had always said when the alcohol ran out, then took the butt from Cassie's fingers and stubbed it out on his doorframe. Wasn't like one more mark on it would make any difference. "Someday you're going to set your bed on fire."

She gave him a wan smile. "That's why I keep a bucket of water nearby."

It was awkward. Of course. Him Achaean, her Trojan-and pretty damn high up, too-but after the Atreidus brothers had bit it, the old lines between those two sides had gotten very blurry. Clytie was a bitch, and after she'd pulled a Lizzie Borden on Gam Atreidus, no one trusted her enough to really accept her as successor to the Achaean leadership, no matter how good she supposedly was in bed.

"You want something?" Dios said after a few minutes, when the silence had dug too far under his skin. He gestured vaguely at the kitchen. "Coffee?"

"You have any gin? Something that won't turn my stomach inside-out?" For a moment, the gentle mockery almost made Cassie look girlish. "I know you guys used to get the first pick from the English shipments."


She shook out another cigarette and savagely snapped the flame at it. "None of my blood relations know. At least, if they do, it isn't because I've told them."

Dios raised an eyebrow. "Blood relations."

"Like you said, my family's dead. Aeneas is a goddamn bastard, and his own are all that's left. I might as well not have any relatives left." Cassie shot him a look from under long but ragged eyelashes.

Uncomfortable, he cleared his throat and started for the kitchen. "No gin that's not bathtub, but I think I've got some Scotch. How's that?"


"He looks all right," Connor muttered, peering out from the rumpled mass of blankets and terrycloth robe. Real high-end hotel. It would've been a treat if he still wasn't handcuffed to the bed. "Least, he hasn't done anything to us."

"He hasn't done anything at all since Ahmed and Seth left, 'cept stare out the window and mumble," Murph whispered back. He moved restlessly under the sheets, shifting up onto a pillow. In the process, his elbows did a number on some of Connor's sorer spots.

So Connor poked back as best he could with his chin. "Bastard."

"Hey, you're the one that got us into that stupid poker game." Murph looked completely unrepentant. That was the annoying thing; Connor couldn't reach far enough, and didn't feel well enough, to properly thump the moron back into…respectfulness. Connor was about ninety-nine percent sure he was first out, and he figured he deserved a little something for that.

"All I did was go to the address and look up the name that Ma gave us before she passed on. 's not my fault that apparently, everything here's gone to shite since Dad died." Connor wasn't really focusing on the argument, as it was mostly for form's sake. Both he and Murph knew they'd been screwed by outside, uncontrollable players, and that if they were going to change that, they had to pay attention to more important matters. What was the guy's name that Ahmed had said?

Oh, right. Odysseus. Ode. Weird name, but then again, a lot of the guys around Boston seemed to have strange handles. Couldn't all of them be their Christian ones, but hey, whatever. Maybe it was a gang-thing. Connor wouldn't know, since he'd never bothered with that shite. Murphy was plenty.

But back to Ahmed's friend, who was now 'in charge' of them. Tall. Dirty blond curls. Nice-looking.

"Well, there could be worse arses that we're stuck watching," Murph noted.

Connor considered said view. "True. Still, the mumbling's got to go. Fucking creepy. It's been what, half an hour?"

"Fifteen minutes and thirty seconds," said Ode, scaring the hell out of Connor and Murphy.

"Shit, man! Warn a guy!" The skin around Murph's lips had gone white, and he was beginning to curl up. "Oh, shit. Goddamn ribs."

Concerned, Connor hauled himself up on his elbows and nudged his head into Murph's chest to check out the damage. "You all right?"

"Been better. Fuck, when I get my hands on those pricks-"

"You'd have to do some fast talking to get them to not just shoot you on sight. By the time we're out of this room, everyone's going to know who you are." Ode just was too sneaky. And he apparently was ready to get moving, judging from the way he was going around, ruffling through the duffel Ahmed had left and tossing clothes over and popping out the hip flask. "Il Duce's sons. You have any idea what that means?"

A moment of reflection, and then Connor got his face away from his brother. "Ah, no. Otherwise we wouldn't been in this position, yeah?"

Ode seemed unconvinced. Actually, what he appeared to be was pure frustration, down to the pinching of the nose bridge and the low groan. He took a seat on the bed and gave them a good, close look at what resignation did to green eyes. Kind of pretty, actually, if the man hadn't been so damn irritated. "Listen. Your father was blown up ten years ago by a man called Priam Romany, who was the Italians' point man in Boston. The Romanys preferred to go by the name of the Trojans, because of this family story…but that's not important."

"Don't know. I like stories," Murph interrupted, grinning.

Well, Ode had a really effective glare. Connor had to give him that. In this case, older seemed to equal more grumpy and nasty, and not more sleepy. "They didn't hold all of Boston, but they came pretty close. Then two Irish brothers came down from NYC and formed a rival gang called the Achaeans."

"I'm guessing that status quo didn't last long." It was always fun to throw in a fancy thing like that and see people wonder whether Connor had just gotten lucky, or if he actually knew what he was talking about.

He was disappointed here, however, because Ode didn't react at all. "We destroyed the city, and we did that repeatedly for ten years. Currently, no one's ruling Boston because no one's got enough people."

"Ruling, ruling…I thought this was a democracy over here. People for the people, and all that." Murph slowly uncoiled, working the kinks out of his neck.

Ode snorted, half-smile putting a rather nice spark of mischief in his face. It quickly died. "You really are uninformed. I don't mean running the government. I mean running the city. You…didn't you feel something when you first got into the city?"

Come to think of it, Connor had. Sort of a weird frisson, and then a nice worn comfort, like kicking off boots and lazing away and knowing where all the beer bottles were. And Murph had gone all quiet for an entire minute.

It hadn't lasted long, because they'd been a little preoccupied with enjoying the superior horsepower of the American car, but it'd been noticeable. "So?" Connor asked, suddenly feeling the urge to check out the exits.

"So Il Duce had that. He had the city, without even needing to fight for it. And since you're his only surviving descendents, you could be the same." The other man turned half away, putting his profile into shadows that sharpened it. "You're dead men walking."

"Great." Well, well, America and Ireland weren't that different, said Murph's tone. Though from the sound of things, the situation here was slightly more complicated. "So what're you doing with us?"

Ode stared at his hands for a while before answering that. "I…there are others that have this, only with different cities. Los Lobos and Los Diablos, Jack Sparrow's Crewe and New Moon…if you were to go on their territory, they could crush you like you were worms on railroad tracks."

Connor filed that away for future use, also reminding himself to catch up on the American underworld. Clearly, he'd been flipping through the wrong newspapers on the way over the ocean. "And if they were to come here?"

"It depends. If you had Boston, then you could do the same. But they're not that stupid." And there was the warning look, only Ode managed to make it look actually vicious. "Believe me, Miguel, El, and Jack Sparrow could outgame you in their sleep. Fortunately, they're on your side."

Oh, really? Well, that would be a first for Americans. "And what brought that on?" queried Connor, tone arch.

"The fact that you are blood. They want Boston stabilized, and they think you'd be best. So you asked what I was doing here." Ode had a sardonic twist to his mouth, as if he was laughing at a private joke but didn't really want to. "I was going to just pick out the best leader, but now that you've shown up, I've been charged with showing you around and trying to keep you alive until you figure out how to get Boston. Because apparently, there are no guidelines for this sort of thing. It simply…happens."

Extremely helpful, this little talk had been. Last night had been one of the worst in Connor's experience, and he was damned well wasn't going to repeat it.

Ma was dead, and she'd wanted him and Murph to go back to Boston. So they'd come, and they weren't leaving just because of some nonsense that sounded like the stuff grannies dropped into their bogeyman tales. Now, the territory fighting Connor could understand. And fuck to that as well. They'd been welcomed to the city with violence and betrayal, and they owed some bastards a reckoning for that.

Ode slapped his hands on his knees and got up. He flicked out a tiny silver key, then glanced at Connor and Murphy. "So I'd appreciate it if I didn't have to keep you cuffed all the time. We need to get out and meet with some people."

"Have to agree with that." Connor rattled his metal bracelets, trying to look as winsome and harmless as he could. "Get 'em off and show the way, man."


Dios was still staying in the same hole as the last time Odysseus was in town, and he looked just as rumpled and bloodshot. "Ode. Hey. You look…thinner."

"Jackass. Tell me you didn't lose the still." Odysseus grinned, patted his friend on the shoulder, and checked for the girl.

Oh. Oh, fuck.

Calmly nursing a glass in the corner, Cassandra smiled and waved. "You're a little late."

"Did your vision take the midtown traffic into account?" And there was Odysseus' somewhat-recovered mood plummeting once again.

The twins had been surprisingly good company during the ride over, quizzing him about the Trojan War, as it was generally known, but being polite enough to back off whenever Odysseus indicated some reservation. They were infectiously cheerful, and even managed to make him crack a few chuckles despite the fact that it was fucking Boston. God. If he survived the next few weeks, it'd be a miracle worth donating to a church for. Blood-memories on every corner, nothing new to look forward to but more of the same, and he was far too tired.

"You were bloodier when I saw you," she said, but not to him.

Behind Odysseus, the two of them froze. "Ah…" Connor muttered.

"Showers. They're nice," was Murphy's intelligent contribution.

"Meet Cassandra Dardani, illegitimate daughter of Priam. Seer. Not that that's much use, seeing as it's never of something that would be immediately useful." Odysseus glowered at Dios, who took the easy way out and just shrugged.

"As in the guy who bombed our father." Murphy didn't make it a question.

For her part, Cassie did meet the challenge without flinching. She let her head fall back against the chair, eyes thin drained slants. "Yeah, that would be him. I told him it was a lousy idea, but who listens to a ten-year-old?"

While the twins blinked in confusion, Odysseus cornered Dios and stared down the other man until he started getting answers.

"Okay, look. Things got…different…while you were out of town." Dio yanked at his forelock, taking little glances over Odysseus' shoulder at Cassie. "Romany and Clytie are making things hell. Nobody's staying where they were."

"Which means you're playing host to her. Wonderful. Do you think I'll have time to tell you just how stupid this is before the machine guns roll up?" Odysseus was trying not to grind his teeth, but that was getting rather difficult. He couldn't knuckle Dios through the wall, either, as there were other people in the room.

The other man rolled his eyes. "I'm not that much of a dick. She said she didn't tell anyone else, and she's been here since this morning."

"We're still having lunch somewhere else." Abandoning that conversation, Odysseus sidled up to the nearest window and peeked through one of the holes in the curtain.

Clear street. And the back of his neck wasn't prickling, so he could reluctantly assume that they were fine for the moment. He turned back to Cassie and the twins. And then he nearly swallowed his tongue in astonishment.

"That's some outfit that lady's got on," Connor was saying as he held up a card to the light. He and Murphy were draped over the couch next to Cassie, flipping through what looked like a Tarot deck, and as Odysseus watched, Murphy's hand casually dipped into his brother's trousers pocket.

Dios made a funny grunting sound. "Just like Ach and Pat?"

"More like that rumor about Paris and Hector, if that was-"

"It was true for a while," Cassie broke in, sliding a bitter-coated smile at Odysseus. "Helen was cataclysmic in many different ways."

He had to snort derisively at that. "Catalyst, you mean."

Not waiting for an answer, Odysseus leaned over the couch and yanked at the nearest ankle. He ducked the tandem slaps and flipped the twins onto the floor. "Come on. Time to get going."

"But we didn't even get to the introductions!" protested Murphy. "Hell, drag us around and tell us we're in deep shit, then don't tell us who people are. Great way to keep us alive."

"Sort of how we got into that poker game," added Connor.

Dios and Odysseus shared a look, and then Dios started pointing. "Okay, you said hi to Cassie. I'm Diomedes, but call me that and you'll get a crowbar up your ass. Dios is better."

"Properly, it's 'Mi Dios,' as his mother used to say." Odysseus stifled his impatience and began planning the next few meetings while he waited. Dios had been right; he'd been away too long. He needed to get out tonight and just take a pulse, figure out where things stood.

"Don't talk about my mother, fucking tricky bastard that you are." Not that Dios was angry, mind. He and Odysseus went much too far back for that. "And I'm guessing you got some kind of say-hi-I'm-Odysseus. So there. We're done."

Connor and Murphy didn't precisely look at each other, but they did a very good hint at it. Odysseus made a note to not get into that, even if he did have eyes and could look. Pretty was pretty dangerous in Boston. Speaking of-"What happened to Helen?"

Cassie growled, which startled just about everyone. "Out of the country, and good riddance. Anne's still around, though. Trying to keep Aeneas off her doorstep. Prick wants to use Sammy as a rallying cry. 'Help the son revenge the father,' 'Support Hector's legacy,' and all that shit."


The tie was perfect, except for being slightly off-center. Aeneas lifted a finger and twitched it into place with exquisite care, then tossed on his coat and headed for the bed.

He was temporarily stopped by a plaintive call from the bed. "Wait. Honey, when are you-"

"Later, Dido. Later. I'm running late right now." No shit. He was supposed to be gone an hour ago, but she did have the most wicked lips in the world. When she wasn't using them to whine and pout at him. God, lounge singers were such a bitch to upkeep.

Footsteps rushed up as he was opening the door, and a weight clung to his arm. Dido smiled seductively at him, which didn't work quite as well when she hadn't dolled up her face, and trailed a finger down his arm. "Can't you just leave it? Stay here with me?"

He gently but inexorably extricated himself from her grasp. "No. I've got to go. Family's calling."


"No buts." But the disappointed look in her eyes made him feel a little…well, if he didn't do something, then when evening came, he'd have to spend too much damn time cheering her up to get laid. So he pecked her on the forehead, and kissed her a little longer on the lips. "Have a good show, caro. I'll probably be in for the closing act."

Dei greeted him at the car with lousy news. "Your wife's getting antsy again. Might want to drop in and say hi this week before she tries to torch something."

Oh, for God's sake. Lavinia was such a cunt, always being dramatic and fiery-literally. The last time Aeneas had come by, she'd tried to light up the living room. Honestly, it wasn't as if she hadn't known whom she was marrying, and why: he got a little legitimacy for formal gatherings, and she got to lord it over one damn expensive house. And hell, she didn't even like men all that much.

"What, her girlfriend run off again?" Aeneas rubbed at his temples as he slid into the back of the car, taking the seat just behind the driver. Dei levered himself in next and shut the door, then gave the day's orders to the driver.

Like usual, he popped open a fresh cigar box for Aeneas. "Actually, I think she might have killed her. There are more tomatoes in the garden."

Christ. "All right, that's enough. Start looking into sanitariums for the bitch. And start letting her out when she's not quite so sane; I want to look good when I finally slap her where she deserves. That lousy good-for-nothing bitch. Can't even be a mother, and she wants…"

"There's something else." Oddly enough, phlegmatic Dei actually looked nervous. "You know how that Los Lobos point man breezed through?"

"Yeah?" Goddamn Californians, always messing with what wasn't theirs just because they had some real psychotic fucks to do their dirty work. Once Aeneas had gotten his house in order, he planned to show them just who ruled the East Coast. And New York City? Fuckers. Dying game, what with Caprizzo's decline and his female heir. Boston was definitely the place to be for growth, and Aeneas planned to be the gardener.

His cousin sliced off the cigar tip and handed the rest over to Aeneas. Then he double-checked the glass that separated the driver from them, making sure it was eavesdrop-tight. "Some of our guys that knew Seth Gecko from before got him in a poker game, and he walked away with a pair of fresh-off-the-docks Irish pricks. Who gave the names of Connor and Murphy McManus."

Aeneas nearly spit the cigar into the seat in front of him. As it was, fuck. His throat felt like it'd just been strip-mined with a match. "What? And those jackasses let them go?"

"They figured it wasn't the real ones, but they crated them and were about to drop them in the bay when Gecko showed up. Then with the poker and all, they got drunk and confused the crates they had. Didn't realize until this morning." Dei was leaning away, and for good reason.

The fucks. The absolute stupidity of-"Dei, those sons of bitches better be dead, or having to walk the rest of the way is going to be the least of your problems."

"Sleeping with the fishes. But Gecko and the others can't be that far away-" When the cigar jabbed into the back of his hand, Dei hissed but wisely didn't curse. Because Aeneas was not in the mood.

"We're already in the shit, and you want us to dig deeper? Eat it up? Is that it?" The stench of burning flesh lashed into Aeneas' nose, whipping up brutal memories of his cousins' deaths, and he jerked away. Ignored the furious look Dei barely hid as the man clutched his wounded hand. "Jackass. You think we've got the kind of resources to pull that kind of shit, with that cunt Clytie taking chunks out of us? No, we leave those be. But we follow them."

Dei's mouth worked, lips alternately clamping down and curling back from his teeth. "Actually, word is that Gecko left the twins here. He and Ahmed definitely didn't leave with more bodies than came with them. And…Cassandra's flown the coop."

Goddamn it, why couldn't Aeneas have gotten a little more cooperation from his family? It was like they didn't want to win this, to avenge all the shit they'd taken in the last war. Which they were going to, if Aeneas had to take a bullwhip to their ungrateful asses. He'd kept them together, kept the marginal slice of territory they'd had left and made sure they'd survived the aftermath. Then he'd made that grow until they stood a chance of recapturing the city, and what did he get? Desertions and madness. Fuck.

He missed Hector. Not that they'd been close, because his stellar older cousin had always been kind of cool towards Aeneas, but at least when Hector was around, people had kept their backbones. The Trojans had felt like a dynasty, and not like a deflated gang of has-beens.

Well, Hector was dead. All of Priam's sons were dead, and now there was only Aeneas. And he was going to change things, all right. He was going to make the city howl.


"It's a bar?" Connor seemed shocked.

Blinking, Dios and Cassie gave him a matched pair of quizzical looks, which made Odysseus begin to wonder just what his friend had been up to while he'd been hiding out in the Carolinas. She…wasn't exactly the type Dios usually went for.

"Uh, yeah," Dios finally replied. "See? Stools, counter, and if you flip away that, you find the taps."

"We kinda thought you were having a Prohibition, or something like that." Murphy softstepped his way inside, quietly coming up behind Odysseus. He was standing a little too close, and Odysseus just wanted to groan. As if there wasn't enough to worry about without amateurs dabbling in the manipulation pool. "You know, no alcohol? No sanity?"

"Hey, you actually think that's possible? You've got a lot to learn about America, my friends." Smirking, Dios hopped up on the counter and lovingly patted it. "I was born right here, between my Da's fifth and sixth whiskies."

Connor made a face. "I'll remember not to drink there, then."

"Prick." Dios ducked under and came up with a few moderately-clean glasses, which he filled from the taps. He passed them around-Cassie took one-and then knocked loudly on the wood, three long and two short. Above their heads, something rustled. "This is historical ground you're walking on. Some politician got shot here, about fifty years back, and so the government gave the bar an exemption. Sort of. We have to call it a lunch counter now, hide the beer, and serve better food."

"Which you never pay for, you-" Bri came through the doorway, just as gorgeous as she'd been three years ago, with hands on hips and a strident expression on her face. The moment she saw Odysseus, however, that changed. "Ode!"

And then Odysseus suddenly had an armful of woman. "Hey. I see Dios has been busy."

"Oh, stop teasing him. He's taking better care of us than Clytie. And Aeneas-God, I hope I never have to meet that man face-to-face again." She buried her face in his neck, and suddenly he wished he'd done a better job trimming his beard. Penelope had always complained about how it scratched-

"You look good," he said in a quiet voice, putting her down.

Her smile dimmed a little. "Better than the last time, huh? So…it's Sunday, which means I'm short on groceries, but I think I've got some cold chicken."

"Sounds like a feast. We haven't eaten in a day, and personally, my stomach's about ready to take anything." Connor wandered over from the wall of pictures, fiddling with the cuffs of his slightly-too-large shirt.

Bri took a step into Odysseus' chest, abruptly turning wary. "Who's he?"

"My ass-stupid brother, Connor. I'm the nice one," Murphy said over the top of Odysseus' shoulder. The visible half of his grin was suspiciously friendly. "Murphy. Hi. Our father was Il Duce, we just got in town, and life's being shitty. Puis-je avoir plus de bičre?"

She stared at him, clearly confused, while Odysseus shrugged his pointy chin off and gave him a push towards the taps. "Briseis cooks; she doesn't waitress. If you want some more, then you can get it yourself."

"Thanks very much," the other man chirped, faintly mocking, as he proceeded to do just that. He drained about half his glass, then banged it under the tap again while Connor assumed a long-suffering expression.

"Don't mind the dumbass." Connor plopped himself onto the nearest stool and elbowed his brother away from the tap. "Christ. It's not water."

"The chicken'll be good. And after that, we've got to talk about a lot," Odysseus told Bri and Dios. Cassie, too, if she'd been listening. She was standing by the part of the front window that wasn't boarded up, smoking a cigarette with a pensive air. Thin as hell, Odysseus suddenly realized, and when she lifted an arm to brush her hair out of her face, her sleeve slid up to show dark finger-shaped spots on her arm.

Bri followed his gaze, then dusted her hands off and began to move back toward the kitchen. "First-aid kit's under the bar by the rags," she informed Dios. From the sound of her voice, this was an old ritual.

Dios caught Odysseus' look and shrugged, chuckle dark as pitch. "You should've come home earlier, Ode."

"This isn't my home," Odysseus snapped, though he kept his voice down so the twins wouldn't hear. "My home was where Penelope was."


So the old fox was back, and he'd gotten company. Legendary company, if she wanted to be vulgar.

Clytie leaned back in her chair, tapping her nails against her teeth. This was a complication she hadn't ever expected to see, but she could handle it. She'd have to handle it; the war front was big enough already, what with Aeneas' posturing, and she didn't need another one.

"Bad news?" Glass looked up from his paperwork, tilting sideways so his coat fell away to flash cold steel.

"Not that kind." Still thinking, she got up and crossed over to sit on his lap, draping her arms around his neck. "I think another competitor's entered the ring. And Ode's shepherding them."

"Them?" He was prodding, curving his big butcher's hands around her breasts, rasping his thumbs over her hardening nipples through her blouse. She didn't yet feel like letting him in on everything, just in case he decided to rethink their…association.

The problem about getting a man to kill for her, Clytie mused, was that afterwards, he started to presume he'd earned certain rights. And after all the work she'd done, she wasn't going to give up an inch of it to someone with a big cock and a fast gun. They were a dime a dozen, after all.

Gam had been something more than that in the beginning, but he'd lost sight of that among all the champagne and showgirls. She could've tolerated the bit of fun on the side, the fucking around, but not the dicking around. He hadn't kept his eye on the prize, and instead had gotten sidetracked into stupid, wasteful pride-matches with Ach and Dios and Ode and all the rest, in their turn. But mostly Achilles. God, when Clytie thought about what she could've done with that man fighting for her-she bit down on her lip.

"Angry?" Glass purred, slipping a finger around her lips to catch the blood.

"Furious," she murmured back, starting to hike up her skirt. "Absolutely furious."

Blood-right or no, she was going to slaughter those twin shits. How dare they walk into the city, over all the ashes and charred bones, and just assume they could take possession? As if all those funerals had meant nothing, had been for nothing. As if everything Clytie had worked for hadn't been more than a passing phase. A stopgap.

"Mom?" Electra, that stupid slut, barged right in without knocking. "Mom-oh, Christ! In Da's chair? How dare you!"

"Get. Out," Clytie hissed, twisting around to level her best glare at her daughter. Instead of climbing off Glass, she rose and plunged herself down onto his rearing cock, moaning and squirming lasciviously while Electra threw an arm over her eyes. "Get out! Get out, you useless piece of trash! Get out before I wring your neck!"

Glass lifted his head from Clytie's breasts long enough to flash a heated gaze at her; domestic disputes seemed to excite him to no end. "And lock the door, darling. You wouldn't want this to happen again, would you?"

Choking, Electra slammed the door shut and fled. Good riddance. God. As if Clytie didn't have enough problems, her children were all turning away from her and toward the memory of her dead husband. That bastard Gam had married off the only daughter she'd liked to some two-bit nothing from New York, and the poor girl had gotten shot up a week later. But no, her other children never seemed to remember that. Goddamn shits. They were adults. They could disagree all they wanted. And they could take themselves out of her house, and go lie down in front of Aeneas, if they wanted. She didn't care.

She didn't-oh. Oh. Jesus. At least Glass was still around. Him and Boston, which Clytie would have, no matter what.


"I think we're going to get support from some interesting places," Dios said as he picked at the remains of his sandwich. "Believe me, Clytie and Aeneas have fucked over a lot of people. And considering the shape Boston's in, almost no one wants it."

Bri raised a hand. "But. The ones that do, the ones you'll have to worry about-they're unbelievably fanatical about it."

Murphy processed that while he polished off his chicken leg, which was amazingly good. He hadn't realized how hollow his stomach had been until food had started dropping into it. "Take it that those would be this Clytie and Aeneas."

"The de-facto leaders of the Achaeans and the Trojans, respectively. Or what's left of them." Odysseus had started out grumpy, but he'd gotten progressively worse as he and his friends had enlightened Connor and Murphy about the current state of matters in Boston. Now, he was practically swimming in depression. "Clytie was Gam Atreidus' wife, and she and her lover Glass killed him near the end of the war. Aeneas is Priam's one surviving nephew, and he rules because none of Priam's sons made it."

Who pissed in his beer? Connor muttered, his hand busily messing with Murphy under the table. Not that they could do too much, given that one, Murphy's leg was fucking with him, and two, there were people around, but it was really more about getting back in touch with things. Hours in a wooden crate, knowing that it was going into the ocean, would do nasty things to anyone's nerve.

Connor seemed okay, but that was only because he was trying to get into Ode's head, figure out where the man was. And even though it looked like he was fooling the others, Murphy could still see the shakiness around the edges, like how Connor held onto his beer and kept checking where everyone was.

Actually, everyone was pretty nervous. Even that weird Cassie woman, who kept burning herself with her own cigarettes. Except for Ode. He just looked like he wanted to get buried already. Don't know, but I'm thinking they're dead.

"Hey, stop with the languages we don't know. That's rude." Dios gulped down the last of his beer, then wiped off his hands and stood up. Cassie's eyes flicked over to him before resettling on Ode.

There was…well, there was a lot going on that wasn't on the table yet. Murphy hauled himself up on Connor's shoulder and nodded toward Bri. "So, um, can we borrow your toilet?"

"Oh! Sure. Go through there. Second door on the left." She looked at Ode as she gave directions, but he didn't deny permission.

Connor made a shitty crutch, all jolting and zigzagging. But Murphy did actually have to piss, so he waited until after that to hit his brother.

"Hey! I'm walking wounded here. Dickhead." It was crowded, and they were still bruised, but where fraternity was concerned, some things were just necessary no matter what the circumstances were.

The wrestling fit ended with them on the floor, Connor on the bottom because Murphy had gotten his foot wedged into something and trying to pull it loose also happened to tug at his stitches. "Jesus. This is starting to get to me."

"Think we're starting to get to Ode." Connor got his hands under Murphy and tried to shift them. Didn't work. Instead, they ended up with a hand tangled in Murphy's hair and one twisted halfway down Murphy's waistband, which was a little large to begin with and so there was plenty of room. "My God, Murph. Do you ever go down?"

"Shut up. You're the one with his knee halfway up my arse." Murphy wriggled, trying to get some breathing room, but that only made things…better? He poked his head at Connor's neck and jerked at his hand until it was out from under him. "Okay. Weren't we supposed to be figuring out what to do?"

"Uh…" The fingers in Murphy's pants went down another inch. "Right. Ode. And all that stuff."

Oh, shit. So damn close that it wasn't fair, and Murphy was probably embarrassing himself by humping like that, but hey, it got him the barest touch so it was worth it. "Like Cassie. She seems all right."

"Yeah. Okay, not on list. You know, right now you remind me of that puppy we-" Italian swearing looked good on Connor. Well, Murphy assumed from previous knowledge, because currently he was busy sucking on the nearest bruise.

"List? Sounds like just the Romanys so far." Tender skin tasted a little different. Saltier. And if Murphy pressed his teeth just a little into the bruise, he could almost taste the hot metallic blood. "It was their men who caught us."

Connor writhed, and then his hand was all the way in, grabbing Murphy by the literal balls and just…petting. Murphy banged his elbow on the wall, jarred his ribs, and swore into his brother's mouth. All right, this hurting bit definitely had to go.

The fingers were groping. In encouragement, Murphy finally got his knee down where he could do some serious repayment. "Oh, God, that's better."

"I know it was just Romany men, but from the sound of things, we're going to have more than them coming after our arses." Like a fish just off the hook, Connor's other hand was flopping around Murphy's back. He hit a couple of the aching ribs, so Murphy bit him. "Ow! Fucker! I'm trying to think here!"

"Don't tell me you're actually thinking of doing this…this marry-the-city thing." Murphy waited, but he didn't get any more of an answer than some rubbing that nearly shut down his brain. Which was what Connor did on a regular basis, so it didn't count. "No. No way. Are you stark insane? Ma never said shit about-"

And a tongue shoved its way past his teeth, mashing his lips until he whimpered. "Hey, watch your language when speaking about her. Especially since she's dead."

"Fuck. You." For emphasis, Murphy ground down hard with his knee. He rumpled at Connor's shirt, trying to get it out of the way, but it wouldn't go any higher than ribcage without getting unbuttoned, and Murphy's coordination wasn't quite up to that. "We are not taking over Boston. Christ, what d'you think we are? Generals?"

"Well, you have any better ideas? 'cause we're not leaving town. And I don't think we can get rid of Ode." Grumbling, Connor dove into Murphy's neck and just sucked. Licked. Rasped. Murphy's nerves tried to jump right out of his skin. "Know he's mopey, but he's not stupid, yeah?"

The door gently bumped against Murphy's foot. "Yeah."

They froze. When nothing else happened, Connor nudged Murphy sideways so they could both look.

Ode was leaning against the doorway, face amused but eyes dark, like he was remembering something. Though he didn't seem angry. "Are you going to be done soon?"

"Why?" Connor was making a point of not getting up. Which was good, because the way Murphy was lying, getting up would involve bending some joints at painful angles.

"We need to get to my place, and then I need to find out just how much people know. And I think you're going to need your bandages changed soon. If you haven't ripped your stitches." Someone called from the other room, getting Ode's attention for a minute. "Also, Bri would like her bathroom back. She's got to clean up for tomorrow."

Fair enough. "Five-" Connor tweaked Murphy "-I mean, ten more minutes," Murphy offered.

"Try not to break anything." Smiling wryly, Ode shut the door. The lock clicked from the outside, as if he didn't trust them.

"'s not like we've done anything to him," Connor muttered, getting back to work. "Think we need to find out what's eating him."

Murphy slumped bonelessly on top of his twin, letting his hips just move with it. "Dios."

"Yeah, Dios. Better hope he comes along, then." The sentence ended on a groan as Connor bent up, pushing his cock against Murphy's thigh. And God, they'd needed that. Too wound up from everything, what with it all being different and shifting and having that tendency to fuck them up.

Okay, now they were ready to face their father's legacy. They just had to get up.

"Uh, Connor? My foot's still stuck."


Ode had looked better. He'd looked worse, too-that one year that he'd dyed his hair flaming red "because I can't get all the blood out anyway" came to mind-but Dios was still worried. Things hadn't even started, really, and if he was already this worn out…it wasn't going to be good.

"I think we should leave soon," Cassie abruptly whispered. She pulled at Dios' sleeve. "Did you hear me? We need to-"

"I heard you," he snapped, too harsh. The dark blue rings under her eyes whitened for a moment as she flinched. God…he rubbed at the side of his cheek, feeling the tension gather up under there and just spark, like he was burning from inside-out. Maybe he was getting old.

Not a good thing if he was, so he hoped not. "Uh…Cassie…"

"I would just like to be wrong once. Damn it, you have no idea-no idea what it's like to have tomorrow's obituaries in my head." For once, she wasn't smoking, and her hands were pulling at her stringy hair, picking at the bandages Bri had efficiently wrapped around her arms.

Unable to think of anything better to say, Dio pointed to one. "What happened?"

"Oh, I just had a conversation with Dei about moving out. And he was a bastard, and I left anyway." She sounded remarkably calm, considering how much her simple statement covered.

"Wait-so you're-you're out? And you just showed up on my doorstep, with-did you even get a chance to get anything?" Christ, things were flipping around faster than Dios could keep track of.

After the last conflagration of the Trojan War, life had settled into a fairly predictable cycle. Clytie and Aeneas fighting like jackals over shitty scraps, tearing up the little bits of goodness that were left, but they weren't anywhere near the caliber of the Atreidus brothers and Priam, so it wasn't too bad. Easy to know where not to go, when to leave. And then Ahmed had called Dios, Dios had found Ode, and everything had started up again.

"No. I didn't have much left anyway." Irony was as prominent in Cassie's thin face as the bones beneath her skin. "Aeneas been spending like a mad thing, trying to buy his way to superior numbers. And that wife of his, Lavinia? Is, in fact, mad. She fire-bombed my apartment once because I said she wasn't going to have any children."

"I thought she had a son." Dios twisted his fingers, scanning the room. Ode was still down the hall, talking to the twins, and Bri was busy behind the bar.

Cassie laughed, wrapping her arms around herself as if to hold in her lungs. "She did. He got run over last year, coming out of school-Glass. I think it was an early birthday present for Clytie, but I'm not sure. I didn't see all of that."

"Sounds about right," Dios muttered, tongue curling disgustedly in his mouth. And that bitch-wife of poor Gam's was proof that one, age didn't always make a woman ugly, and two, it didn't soften them up, either.

"Aeneas has a new mistress somewhere, so he doesn't come to see Lavinia at all. Not that he came much anyway-she had bad taste in girlfriends-but no heirs of his are going to be coming from her." Shivering, Cassie turned those enormous eyes of hers onto Dios. Then she ducked her head, oddly shy. "Sometimes I wish you and the rest had killed all of them. It'd be easier."

Dios opened his mouth to say something stupid, shut it, and instead took off his coat. He shoved it her way, carefully not looking at her or Bri, who'd stopped working to watch. "So…uh…you have anywhere to stay?"

She took the coat and gingerly slid it on, mindful of the bandages that puffed up the sleeves of her blouse. Then, also not looking at him, she moved over to lean against his shoulder. "You were nice to me when Gam had me locked in his house. And you got me out after-I never asked about that."

"Oh, that. I was fed up with that dick's messes. Didn't want another Bri-Ach-Gam tangle sprouting." For all its tangles, her hair was surprisingly soft against his cheek. He thought about it for a second, cursed himself to hell and back, and then put his arm around her waist. "I still can't cook."

Cassie smiled a little. "Teach me how to shoot, and I think we have a deal."


Briseis hadn't gotten anything like her cousin Cassandra's abilities, but she did have a little bit. Not foresight, nothing spectacular like that. Just a weak sense of when the city was shifting. It'd been enough to save Hector a few times, and then Ach and Pat.

"You would all laugh if you were here now," she told the glass she was supposedly cleaning. "But we're living. And hey, if you've got any pull down there, do me a favor. Keep us that way. Or get me killed first, because I don't want to see any more."

The twins were real. She could feel that more than she'd felt anything before, like a long tuneless hum in her bones, in her ears, in her head. They were the real thing, and the city knew that. It was tired of being bled dry, and it was starting to reach out for what it knew would steady it.

She just hoped that Connor and Murphy were ready for it, because honestly, she liked them. She was even beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, they would do the trick.

And Cassie…Briseis had gotten to know her cousin very well in the past few years, and she wanted the other woman to get a little happiness for once. Personally, she'd had her taste, and after it, she didn't want any more because she didn't think she could stand to pay the cost for it a second time. But Cassie had been paying all her life for something that she still hadn't gotten, and that just wasn't fair.

Ode came by, tiredness in the slope of his shoulders and the heaviness of his step. He looked about ready for the graveyard, but even so, he was still the only one who had a chance of meeting everything that was about to get thrown at them. If he could find the heart for it.

He stopped in front of the counter and pulled out his wallet, which Briseis pushed away. "That's all right."


"But I couldn't have finished all those leftovers anyway, and I was just going to throw them out. Don't worry about it." She smiled, feeling the corners of her mouth creak. "Really."

For a moment, she thought he was going to protest. But he didn't, and her worry grew just that little bit more. "Thanks, Bri."

"You're welcome. Just keep me up-to-date, and we'll be even. I want to know when I should head for the hills, this go-around." She tried to make her words light, but in spite of herself, they all sunk like stones.

Ode gave her a polite smile anyway, always the gentleman. "Will do. And Bri? If you have to, leave town. Actually-" he pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled down an address "-go here. It's furnished, and there's enough money under the floorboards to last you. Just leave and go."

She didn't know what to say to that; refusal was out because at this point, after what she'd seen, she knew better. So in the end, she memorized the address and then burned the paper in an ashtray. "Your Carolinas place?"

"Bog. But it's nice in the springtime. Surrounded by Penelope's favorite-" he cut himself off, glancing away. So. Over ten years, and he was still stuck on her. It made Bri sorry that she'd never had the chance to meet such a remarkable woman.

The twins ambled out just as the paper fell to ashes, looking considerably rosier than when they'd walked into the bar. Still moving stiffly, and the one-Murphy?-was limping badly, but a week or so and Bri would bet that they'd be a force to reckon with.

She just hoped they'd have that week. "Stop around sometime soon, Ode. I've a few people that come in to help, but it gets lonely."

He nodded and mumbled, but didn't make any promises. Which, sadly, she understood.


More ::: Home