“I remember this place,” says the beer god, looking around the clean but nearly empty bar. “It was a great bar once upon a time. Small but cheerful. I was sorry to see it close.”
“We have a couple of people eager to reopen it, as a matter of fact,” says Sky. He sets down a couple of cold bottles of beer, from a box of half a dozen he sent a constable out for, and opens them, handing one to Brew.
“Really? Are they cops?” The beer god picks up his bottle and touches it to Sky’s, saying “Cheers.”
Sky feels an infusion of mana into his beer at the touch. “No, they’re civilians. They say they have experience running a bar.” He takes a drink, and marvels at the fullness of the flavor, a decent beer turned into something special. “Mm, thank you.”
“No problem. So, uh, what happened there?” Brew points toward his own face, at the places torn and bruised on Sky’s face.
“Ah...someone resisted arrest a couple nights ago,” Sky responds dryly. He takes another drink. “That’s related to what I wanted to talk to you about. I was rather surprised to hear we had a god using our police station as a hotel, you know.”
“Oh, uh...sorry about that. Is it going to be a problem?”
“Well, I suppose we might need the cell for a prisoner sometime, if the other two are full. But I think, other than that, we can keep things as they are. I do have a request, however.”
Brew gestures with his bottle for the inspector to continue.
“Someone like you must overhear quite a bit, in bars, at parties, on street corners and the like. We have a new element moving into this ward.” Sky points at his bruises, at the stitches on his cheek. “The Dukaines. They deal in slaves, and they intend to take over Three Rats. I don’t intend to let them. So if you hear anything you think we need to know, I would be very glad to hear about it from you.”
Brew considers this, then nods. “I wander all over the City. But something has kept me in Three Rats for the last few years. I like this place. The people here...they have spirit.” He looks Sky in the eye. “You understand, I’m not gonna tell you about some shopkeeper buyin’ untaxed cigarillos off the back of a cart, stuff like that?”
“Of course,” Sky says. “I’m more concerned with the Dukaines. And anything else you come across that you think might be harmful to the people of this ward.”
Brew nods. As he takes another drink, there is a creak on the stairs to the second floor, from the kitchen. Low voices drift out, “I thought I heard people talkin’, Cherry!” “Shh, let’s just take a look, Merri.”
Two faces peek from the kitchen door, one dark, one pale. The pale one exclaims, “Oh! It’s Inspector Sky!”
The two Bunnies come into the bar. “Hey, Inspector!” says the dark one, buttoning up her blouse. “Who’s your – whoa! What happened to your face?!” Cherry freezes in shock, and Rosemary gasps and puts her hand over her mouth.
Sky rubs his face ruefully, wincing. “Yes, this seems to be the topic of the day. No, don’t worry...” He almost laughs as Rosemary approaches and touches his face tenderly, on the verge of tears. “It’s all right! Sergeant Alma is helping to heal me. It’s just taking some time. Here, let me introduce Brew, the God of Beer. Brew, this is Cherry, and this is Rosemary.”
“Oh, please call me Merri, yer Holiness!” chirps Rosemary, incipient tears instantly gone.
“Only if you’ll call me Brew, Merri,” the god rumbles.
“You can call me anything you want, big guy,” purrs Cherry.
“Do say ye’ll come to our bar when it opens, Brew!” enthuses Merri.
“Yeah, we’d love to have you hangin’ around,” says Cherry, trying to put her hands around one of his biceps. “Look at these arms, Merri! My fingers don’t even touch!”
“Oh, heh, that tickles–”
“It would be such an honour havin’ ye as a regular,” says Merri.
“Ladies!” barks Sky. The two Bunnies come to some loose definition of attention. In a gentler but still firm voice, he continues, “Our guest is a bit...under the weather. Now weren’t you on your way somewhere?”
Merri gasps. “Oh, that’s right...Alma will be lookin’ for us! Come on, Cherry! Goodbye for now, Brew...it was a true pleasure meetin’ ye!” She tugs at Cherry’s arm, dragging her toward the stairs down to the basement. Cherry pouts, then smiles at Brew, then sticks her tongue out at Sky, then smiles at Brew again, then just as she’s being dragged into the stairwell, she waggles her fingers goodbye to the beer god.
“And those were our future bartenders,” Sky says.
Brew looks at the now-empty stairs in amazement. “Huh. They certainly have the energy for it. Um...did they have...bunny ears?”
Sky nods. “Yes. Yes, they did.”
“Huh. Well, it’s been nice talking to you, Inspector. Thanks for the beer.” He rises and shakes hands with Sky. “I think it’s time for me to move along.” He looks around the bar, as if imagining the possibilities. “But I’m looking forward to coming back.”
“You are most definitely welcome,” says Sky.