If there's such a thing as an Olympian Orgy Room on Earth, Claire thinks it might just be Las Vegas on a Friday night.(1) She's surrounded by bodies - young, middle-aged, old - all in various states of undress and all headed in the direction of pounding bass, waterfall bars, five star restaurants, and every stage show known to mankind.(2)
Claire is not a Vegas kind of girl. The lights and glamour of the city hold very little appeal for her. In fact, she wouldn't even be there if it wasn't for her new job in acquisitions at the library in Detroit. Her boss caught wind of an estate sale being held at the Lied Library on the University of Nevada campus and when he found out there would be a collection of very rare - and very very sketchy - first editions up for auction, he booked Claire's ticket before she could even say she had plans for the weekend. Which she did. Because she has a life outside the library. On rare occasions.
So instead of sitting on her couch watching reruns of The X-Files and painting her toenails an obscene and unnatural shade of green, she's playing blackjack at a table in the Bellagio and wondering if her boss would mind if she broke into the minibar in her room.
"They'll most likely fire you," a familiar voice says from her left and she turns to see Metatron sitting on the stool next to her. He's wearing a pale lavender suit that fits his lanky frame perfectly (she's always wondered how, exactly, one tailors clothing to a seven-foot tall unearthly creature) and racking a small stack of chips between his hands.
"I thought you promised to stop reading minds," Claire says. "And could you maybe, next time, wear a less conspicious suit? People are staring."
People are, in fact, staring, but not at the suit. Sure the suit is obnoxious in an Easter Sunday kind of way, but people are staring because Metatron is seven feet tall. Another foot and his head would be brushing the ceiling of the casino.
Meta smiles, drops the chips onto the table, and motions for the dealer to deal him in. "It's a Friday night in Vegas and you're sitting here, all alone, playing blackjack in the quiet corner of the casino." The card that's facing up at him is a jack. Claire frowns at the three in front of her. "Shouldn't you be out cavorting with the sinful hoardes?"
"Shouldn't you be taking dictation and simpering like a good puppy?"
Meta pouts. "My, my, aren't we particularly nasty today."
Claire sighs and her shoulders slump. "I hate Vegas." The dealer flips their covered cards and there's an ace sitting next to Meta's jack. The last of Claire's chips are added to the Voice of God's meager stack and she frowns. "Hate it."
* * *
He treats her to a drink in a jazz club nearby, a jazz club she didn't know existed. The emptiness of its interior would suggest that no one else in the immediate vicinity knows it exists, either.
"Why do I get the feeling this isn't usually here," she says as they sit down at a little table.
Meta's smile is all the confirmation Claire needs. "What can I say, Claire? Even the Earth-bound representatives need a respite from the daily grind." He leans back in his chair, stretches his long legs out. "We pop in for the good music, the shop talk, and the cheap drinks." He points to the stage where a band is setting up. "On occasion, the entertainment is good. I think you'll like who's on this evening," he says. "She's really quite good."
"I think I'm going to head back to my room."
"Claire, sit and drink and enjoy yourself. Good lord, child. Even God takes a night off on occasion."
Claire scoffs. "As if."
And then, just to prove her wrong, the lights lower, the band strikes up an old standard, and Ellie Herself steps out onto the stage in a dress that's mostly plunging neckline and Claire chokes on her drink.
* * *
God joins them after Her set. A short waitress who resembles a nun Claire used to know in high school swings by and drops a martini glass full of amber liquid off in front of Her.
"I had no idea you were in Vegas!"(3) God says, wrapping Her caramel hands around the glass and elegantly taking a drink. "Isn't it just marvelous?"
Claire processes that statement - and the current situation - in what feels like eons but is actually only a few seconds. When she's able to once again form a coherent thought, she frowns at her Boss.
"Didn't You once level a city just like this place?" she asks and Meta snorts gin up his nose in an effort to keep from spitting it out his mouth. He shakes his head at her while he violently coughs on the alcoholic nasal spray.
God frowns. "I'm quite sure I have no idea what you're talking about, Claire."
"Sodom and Gomorra?" Claire says, eyebrow raised. "Ring any bells?"
God purses Her ruby lips, spins the glass in Her hand while She stares at Her prophet and contemplates the implication. Eventually, She shrugs.
"We all go through phases, Claire." She takes another dainty sip of Her drink - a Manhattan, Claire thinks, though it could be a whiskey sour - and smiles. "For instance, you went through a New Kids on the Block phase."
"Are You seriously comparing my adoration of NKOTB to Your leveling of a Vegas-like city?" God nods and Claire looks to Meta for help. "Don't tell me you didn't go ga-ga over Jonathan Knight."
He sighs, lost in thought. A slow smile creeps over his face and his eyes close. Claire lets him sit there for a few seconds, God watching him with laughter in Her bright green eyes. Eventually, Claire snaps her fingers and Meta opens his eyes, frowns.
"It's really just six of one, half a dozen of the other, Claire." He brushes invisible lint from his pant leg, affects an air of self-importance. "Evil is evil. Only the venue changes."
"I'm back on, kids," God says, finishing Her drink in one long swig, and then leaving them at the table.
Claire points at Meta once God is out of earshot. "You're a pussy."
"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Doesn't matter." He leans in, his voice full of conspiracy. "Now, let's talk a little more about Mr. Knight and his New Kids on the Block pals, shall we? I'm a sucker for a well dressed man singing 'Step by Step' while gyrating his hips."
* * *
She stays for another set, begrudgingly admits to both herself and Meta that not only can God sing but She's solid entertainment - even with the constant possibility of a mortifying wardrobe malfunction. Eventually, after four drinks and an overly profound conversation on the sexuality of 80s and 90s pop bands, she makes her way back to her hotel room, thanks mostly to Meta and his ridiculously long arms.
Meta deposits her in her room with hazy instructions on water consumption and the proper number of aspirin needed to stave off a Hell of a hangover in the morning. He pulls her shoes off and she curls up on her side on the bed.
"You need to have more fun," he says as he tucks her in, kisses her forehead.
"I'm a librarian," she slurs. "We're fucking made of fun."
"Amen to that."
(1) Not that she'd know what an Olympian Orgy Room looks like, mind you, but she's heard rumors...from people...
(2) There's an act where a guy with a red afro wears a gold dress while balancing a bowl of fruit on his head. The little gray dudes from Titan love it.
(3) She really didn't. In fact, the last time She'd checked Claire's schedule, it had been 1992 on Earth and Claire was in algebra class, pining over Tommy Graham. Oh, how time flies...