Fatherhood had NEVER been this hard before.
Ares glowered at the young god before him, arms crossed, and wondered how he’d been suckered into this. Somebody was gonna pay for all the frustration he’d built up and it certainly wasn’t going to be him
It was obvious from the start that the boy was his son; he was smart, good-looking and a real handful to control, with a tendency to shoot people at random. Aphrodite was at her wits’ end, trying to teach him the trade of a love god while he disappeared and slacked off at every available opportunity, while other goddesses tittered spitefully and offered her advice. She must have been desperate to ask for his help; he had no illusions about the pretty lies she’d spun him, they were as transparent as her favourite clothing and fulfilled the same function, to entice against your better judgement.
When he’d asked her if the boy was his son, Aphrodite imitated one of the stone idols the eastern non-believers were so fond of, simply smiling enigmatically. He still didn’t know if the boy was his or not, but damn it, he’d do his best anyway to be a father anyway.
He ran over the list of failures. Visiting his favourite battlefield in Thrace, regaling the boy with the glorious though ultimately futile victory of fifty brave men over an entire army, complete with visual re-enactments, while the little punk barely managed to hide his yawn behind an uncallused palm. A personal tour of the Halls of War, with his electrifying narration of the history behind the most notable and bloody weapons of destruction in existence. The kid spent his time preening his wings, pulling out Zeus knows what and leaving white feathers scattered everywhere. It’d thrown half his warlords at the other half’s throat, thinking they were being accused of cowardice in the War God’s main temple. And Graegus had scoffed some stupid feathers, and experienced the canine version of a furball. They were still finding unpleasant little presents in the most unexpected places and his poor puppy was off his food. The poor bugger had barely eaten a soldier for days, half-heartedly gnawing them and losing interest, moping round the Halls.
After that experience he’d thrown up his hands in despair and zapped the kid places at random when Aphrodite wheedled him into it. The marathon council sessions on Olympus bored Ares rigid yet Cupid escaped Hera’s carping and Zeus’ meandering speeches by sleeping through all fifteen hours. Appearance day in the temple at Kyllene was a disaster – he’d blinked and the young god had disappeared into the ether, not returning home for several days. Aphrodite was over the moon over that incident, certain in the echoing recessing of her mind that they’d spent extra time together because they’d hit it off, doing male bonding type stuff. Silly bitch.
Today, he’d decided on the festival at Casca, maybe a visit the games too. It wasn’t as large an event as Athens’, not as lengthy as Thebes’, but they did know how to throw a great party. They were irreverent, fun-loving and the orgies were second to none. It was the perfect place for a hardworking god to relax and be completely free of his relations. They weren’t reverent enough for Athena, depraved enough for Apollo, weird enough for Hecate or far enough from Hera’s beady eye for Zeus’ taste. Even Dionysus shunned it as an unsophisticated second-rate revel, though Ares privately suspected he disliked their preference for balancing the serious drinking with games and orgies. Moderation of all sorts was abhorrent to the Wine God.
As smoothly and plausibly as possible, he’d assured Aphrodite that the three-day festival was the perfect place for a fledgling god, stressing the educational opportunities. Admittedly, that was an out-and-out lie, even by Ares’ standards, but hey, he wanted to go. At least one of them could enjoy these outings.
So here they were, wandering the fields of combat, pausing occasionally to admire the athletes’ prowess or simply to allow the population to appreciate that their gods walked among them. Ares didn’t believe in sequestering himself away from the common man; he preferred coarse, sweaty warriors to the company of his fellow gods. He marked a few likely warriors for further attention when he was back on the job. Cupid trailed despondently a few paces behind him, pointedly looking in the opposite direction when Ares looked over to see what interested him.
Ares’ patience finally broke when Cupid muttered something he was certain was derogatory under his breath when he drew his attention to a closely matched pair of wrestling youths. Fuck, he’d had enough of this. Ares grabbed his shoulder, digging his fingers into the smooth hairless flesh and swinging him round, carefully avoiding the wing joint but with enough force to let the kid know how irritated he was. What use was his reputation as an irascible, bloodthirsty, butt-kicking war god if he couldn’t use it to intimidate junior gods now and again?
“What did you say?” he barked.
He shook him, not gently. “Tell me.”
“Enough with the benevolent father routine already,” exclaimed Cupid, louder. He scuffed a toe on stony ground. “You’re not my father, Ares. Just one of the guys fucking my mother.” Cupid’s face was sullen and downcast, his shoulders tense beneath his snowy wings. His bottom lip quivered into a pout.
Ares wanted to smack the little shit into tomorrow. It was so tempting…He could imagine him crying, resting on his knee as he spanked some respect into his backside, but Aphrodite’d kill him if he laid a finger on the kid.
They walked in silence from there towards the large, roughly finished stone building that housed the indoor events. A wave of tumultuous sound hit them as soon as they walked through the bronzed doors. Hazy, smoke-laden air swirled around them as braziers of exotic incense filled the air with unusual scents. Standing in the vestibule, waiting for their eyes to accustom themselves to the dim lighting, moans of pleasure and sighs of enjoyment greeted them. Ares smiled. Sounded like the revels were in full swing. Acknowledging hails and waves from those who knew him, he sauntered amongst the pillars dividing the large chamber. The squeals of a particularly active and inventive orgy group caught his eye and he drew closer. Cupid stopped his customary few paces behind, then, as Ares remained silent, moved closer to stare at the young women scantily clad in wispy white linen draperies.
The actions of the enthusiastic female participants as they sucked, stroked and massaged held the young godling mesmerised. His head tilted to one side as he traced the interlocking bodies, and he counted under his breath, first heads then torsos. He twisted his head to the other side and edged round the pile of bodies, finger outstretched as he traced the intricacies of who was doing what to whom. A pair of bright eyes scrutinised the preoccupied youngster and a slim, white hand beckoned him to join them. Cupid stepped back hurriedly to Ares’ side.
“What are you waiting for, a written invitation? Get in there.” He clapped the young god on the shoulder.
Cupid gulped. “What, with all of them?” He shuddered and cringed slightly. He stared at Ares desperately and stage whispered. “Do I have to?”
“Have to? No.”
The young god sighed with relief and looked back at the young girls, his eyes flickering nervously at their antics.
It wasn’t a question Ares ever thought to hear coming from a child of Aphrodite’s. Most of the Olympians were randier than goats, with one or two memorable exceptions. Surely Cupid wasn’t shy. He had to know what to do with a woman, even if his tastes ran in the other direction. The friezes in Dite’s home on Olympus could show a seasoned hetaira a thing or two and he knew she took her son to orgies for ‘work experience’. Ares cast his mind back over what gossip he’d heard recently. Nobody’d linked the youthful god with any nymph, naiad or goddess, nor with any god for that matter. The fruitful grapevine of Olympian gossip was silent regarding his love life. Was it possible there wasn’t one?
Some gods grew up faster than others. Deimos had sprung up overnight; Strife was happily working his way through puberty and had been for the past few centuries. Sophisticated Aphrodite had never been a child. There was no hard and fast rule for Olympians, you had to judge based on each person’s actions. They were adult as they proved themselves capable.
Could Cupid’s problem be that simple? He must have seen more naked bodies than you could shake a cock at, but had he actually ever…? Come to think of it, learning about sex from your mother was enough to put anybody off. Ares tried to imagine Hera lecturing him on matters of the heart and the best way to please a partner, and shuddered. “Don’t go there,” he murmured to himself. Perhaps there was a way he could help. Free-form orgy was not for beginners.
“Not right now ladies, we’ve just arrived.” Ares slung a companionable arm over Cupid’s shoulders and steered him away. “We’ll be back later.” He leered as they left, to a chorus of giggles and disappointed sighs.
The sunken centre of the structure was filled with couches and pillows, men, women and boys seeking refreshment, conversation or a new partner or three. Silken hangings and translucent linens granted privacy to those who cared to converse or listen to the quartet of musicians playing softly in one corner. Wine and refreshments were freely available from an overflowing table the length of several men.
Ares grabbed a bunch of red grapes and chewed one slowly as he scanned the room for a likely prospect, enjoying the tart juice. He’d happily fuck about a third of the people there but if this was gonna be Cupie’s first time, then he needed something memorable. With a mother like ‘Dite, he’d need to go to the opposite extreme if he wanted the poor kid to rise to the occasion. Aha! There she was: the perfect candidate. Slim, toned, dark-haired and doe-eyed, oh so sweet. Not to Ares’ taste at all, but you chose your weapon according to the battle. The only problem was the musclebound idiot currently hitting on her. A quick flick of godly power to the guy’s bladder solved that problem. He disappeared at a rate of knots, leaving the bewildered girl wondering what she’d said to upset him. She was vulnerable. Good.
“Gotta see a man about a war, kid,” said Ares abruptly. “Go find somebody to talk to.” He waved dismissively and stalked off, carefully not looking in the girl’s direction. “Piss off and amuse yourself.”
Half an hour later, after an amusing interlude with twins, Ares strolled back to the conversation pit. True to his nature, Cupid was seated on a plushly upholstered couch in a secluded corner, playing tonsil-hockey with the dark-haired girl. Her dark green robe had slipped from one pale shoulder and they were both flushed and breathing heavily as his hand gently caressed her breast. As Ares watched, she whispered in his ear, her head bowed shyly as she gestured towards the outer rooms. Cupid nodded, smiling fatuously. He rose, her hand in his and led her away, glancing back at her every couple of steps and smiling.
He winked at the girl, unseen by Cupid. She smiled uncertainly back at him, gripping the young god’s hand tighter as they slipped away together.
It’d come natural, now. His work was done. Time for some serious pleasure...