Little Red Riding
Once upon a time, there lived a little girl named Thamiris.  [--Well, to be truthful, she wasn't a little girl, she was a lovely young woman, but under the Heroine clause of the Fairy Tale Rulebook (chapter 6, subsection B, addendum IIa), the particular sort of fairy tale she was involved in was the exclusive domain of little girls, since lovely young women aren't allowed to walk through the woods with a specific purpose in mind.  We now return you
to the story already in progress... your Editorial staff--]

Thamiris was a spirited girl, brave and resouceful enough that she even made regular treks into the woods near her home by herself, unlike the other girls in her town, and when she ventured out on her journeys she wore a wonderful (and fashionable) red cloak with a detachable hood, given to her by her loving father before his untimely death.  It had originally been meant for riding, but Tham (as she liked to be called) preferred to walk. The townspeople, who looked upon Tham with a combination of fondness and annoyed confusion at her unwillingness to stay indoors and perfect her table manners and cross-stitching like the other girls, had taken to calling her "Little Red Riding Tham".  Much to her disgust, the name had stuck.

One fine day, Tham heard that her dearest and most beloved friend, Iphy, had taken up residence in her dear (dead) grandmother's house in the middle of the woods.  He was the king of her land, and should have been in Corinth kinging as he normally did these days, but his mother and wife had both died within a few short months of each other and Iphy had become terribly sad. His half-brother Hercules might have helped, but Hercules was off selfishly pursuing his own interests and hadn't even given a moment's thought to his handsome and sensitive brother, as unfairly-favored half-brothers are wont to do.

"Poor Iphy!" Tham said to herself.  "He is all alone and grieving in my (dead) grandmother's house in the woods and not even his own brother cares! I must do something to help, for he is my oldest and dearest friend!"

So Tham put together a basket of goodies for her friend and prepared for the long trek to her (dead) grandmother's house.  Once she was quite ready, she checked herself in her big glass mirror.  Though she was dressed sensibly for her journey, she looked ravishing.  Just the thing to lift poor Iphy's spirits! As she walked out the door, she put on her wonderful (and fashionable) red cloak, and basket of goodies in hand, walked down the path into the woods.

For quite some time, her journey was uneventful.  It was quiet in the woods except for the twitterings of birds, the soft sound of the winds rustling the branches of the many trees around her, and the occasional *puph* as she
undid the cap of her SportsMate(TM) water bottle to take a refreshing drink. Then, as she rounded a bend in the bucolic little path through the woods, someone stepped out in front of her!

She stopped, looking in surprise at the big, muscular man.  He was all dressed in tight black leather -- pants that fit him like a second skin, high well-tooled boots, and a vest that showed off his powerful arms and chest.  He had dark, loose-curled hair, flashing dark eyes, a rakish goatee and sideburns that highlighted his high cheekbones.  There was an air of glamour and danger about him that reminded Tham of the time she'd encountered a wolf in these very same woods.  "Oh... oh my!" she said, wondering what a man like this would be doing on this little path through
the woods.

The man grinned toothily.  "Hello, little girl."

Tham thought about arguing this 'little girl' thing, but had to admit that he was tall enough for the description to be accurate from his perspective. "Hello."

"Might I ask who you are, and where you might be going that you are all alone in the woods?"  He looked at her with sweet concern.

"I am Thamiris, and I'm taking this basket of goodies to my dearest friend Iphy, who is staying at my (dead) grandmother's house in the woods because he is very sad," said Tham.  "And who might you be?"

"I am Big Bad Ares," said the man, giving her a devastatingly charming smile.  "Are you sure you wouldn't rather stay here and get acquainted with me?"  He flexed several muscles in a very intriguing manner.

Tham *was* tempted, but she was not to be swayed.  Her Iphy needed her help! "I'm sorry, Mister Ares, but I *must* get to Iphy.  Perhaps I will meet you on the way back."

He pouted in a way that reminded her of her Iphy, though that dangerous air never left him and made her a bit wary.  "But I meet so few people that are as enchanting as you!  *Must* you meet this dearest friend of yours?"  He bit his lower lip and silently pleaded with puppy-dog eyes.

The sight was nearly enough to make Tham melt, but not only did she truly care about her Iphy, she could still feel the violence coiled within the handsome stranger and being a sensible young woman [--GIRL!  Your Editorial
Staff--], she thought it best to get away from him no matter how intriguing he was.  "I'm afraid so.  It's most important," she said firmly.

Big Bad Ares looked a trifle disgruntled, but covered it up nicely.  "Well, would you at least like me to accompany you to your (dead) grandmother's house? It can be dangerous in the woods alone."

Tham laughed.  "I've traveled these paths alone since I was a very little girl!  I have nothing to fear!  Besides, it's just over this next rise, take the fork to the left and follow the path along the meandering stream for no more than an hour!  I'm safe as houses, thank you."

He nodded, looking at her with respect and... something else that made his eyes bright with interest.  "I can see that you can handle yourself.  Well then... I'll leave you to your journey.  Just one thing..."  he raised his eyebrows pleadingly, "Could I see what's in the basket?"

Tham blinked and thought it over.  Big Bad Ares *had* been terribly polite to her, and she could understand his curiosity... what could be the harm? "Well... all right."  She set the basket down on the ground and opened it as
Ares knelt beside her.  There were goodies indeed!  Two bottles of fine Minoan champagne, a bottle of  spice-scented oil, an assortment of tasty snacks (perfect for finger-feeding), a few silk scarves, a peacock feather,
and some intricate fleece-lined leather cuffs, adjustable for wrists, ankles or even more!

"My!" Ares exclaimed as he looked the assortment over.  "Your Iphy must be very special indeed!"

"Oh, he is!" Tham agreed as she closed the basket back up.  "He's kind and sensitive as well as being a brave, fierce warrior.  And with both his mother and wife dead and his selfish brother Hercules not even acknowledging
him, he needs my help!"

"So he does," Ares agreed, not letting her see the jolt that had gone through him at the mention of Hercules.  "And is he handsome too?"

Tham sighed.  "More beautiful than the fairest summer day.  Hair that shines fire in the sunset, eyes that see to the depths of your soul, a body worthy of the gods themselves..." she stopped, blinking suddenly, and quashed the thought, //Actually, he looks like the Good version of *you*//.

Big Bad Ares smiled, a hint of canine showing.  "Well you are both a kind and lucky woman.  I'll leave you to your journey, then.  Lovely meeting you. Fare well."

"Fare well," Tham replied, and resumed her journey.  She looked back to see Big Bad Ares still standing in the path once, but the next time she looked back he was gone.  "What a fascinating encounter!" she thought.

Ares watched the stunning young woman leave, his mind racing.  This "Iphy" sounded worthy of a visit.  And as an added bonus, Tham would be arriving at the very same place.  She might have to travel in the slow mortal way, but he didn't, and she'd given him the directions so... with a flash of blue light, he disappeared.

Less than a moment later, Big Bad Ares appeared outside the front door of Tham's (dead) grandmother's house.  Arranging his expression to its most benign, he knocked on the door.  No answer.  He knocked again, louder.  This time there was an annoyed groan.  "Go AWAY!"  He knocked again, and was rewarded by a distinctly annoyed shuffling sound as the inhabitant approached the door, followed by an irritable bellow.  "I told you, go AWAY!"

He knocked again, softly.

And after a long pause, the door opened a crack, a tired voice saying, "Can I help you?"

Ares pushed the door a little more open to reveal a handsome but somnolent-looking man.  He leaned in close and purred, "No, but I may be able to help you.  May I come in?"

The door opened, so Ares stepped in and closed it behind him, leaning against it in a way guaranteed to show off his physique.  "Sorry to bother you, but your circumstances have come to my attention, and I felt we had something in common."

Iphy eyed him skeptically.  "Who are you?  And how do you know about *my* situation?"

Ares grinned slowly.  "I'm Ares.  God of War.  'Nuff said?"

"Ares..." Iphy didn't look suitably awed.  "I'm sure you looked me up in the godly Rolodex [--consider this a loose translation; there was no Rolodex in ancient Greece.  your Editorial Staff--], but in case you don't know everything, I'm Iphicles and I'd appreciate it if you'd leave me alone."

Ares contrived to look soulful, with dubious success.  "I know who you are, Iphicles, but I can't leave you alone.  I know about Alcmene, and your wife, and I also know that that *our* dear half-brother didn't even bother to give
you the time of day about *any* of it!"

Iphicles looked up with sudden interest.

"Yes," Ares grinned sourly.  "You hadn't thought of that, had you?  He's *my* Perfect Half-Brother too."

The other man looked almost hopeful, then frowned again.  "Yeah, but it's different.  You're a god."

Ares snorted.  "Yes.  A god.  With a hopeless slut of a father who *adores* that half-breed do-gooder and a mother who's obsessed with the bastard.  And if you think no one understands YOU-" he rolled his eyes expressively, "try being the god of WAR.  Not a real popular position, you know."

Iphicles nodded grudgingly.  "I'll admit you have a point.  But why did you seek me out?"

Ares shrugged.  "I was... curious.  Wanted to see what you were like.  And I have to say-" he sidled a step closer, and when Iphicles didn't move away, another, "you're much more fascinating than I'd imagined."  He moved close enough to take Iphicles in his arms, pleased when the king didn't resist. "*Much* more fascinating..." he murmured into his ear as Iphicles leaned into his embrace.  "Come here... I want to eat you..."

Iphicles came closer, nails digging into the soft flesh and hard muscle of this unexpected lover, breathing in the heady scent of leather and musk, lips meeting lips in a furious passionate struggle where no winner could or
would ever be determined, finally pulling back to breathe and murmur, "Not if I eat you first..." then descending back to Tartarus and the release of skin-on-skin, leather and linen dropping like discarded fantasies as they
made way to the old, ornate feather bed, so unusual for both to be eye-to-eye with a lover, hands and bodies seeking, searching for release, for confirmation, labels of god and king subsumed under more urgent needs of
flesh and desire, teeth and nails scoring across wounded souls as bodies mesh in hard-won near-understanding, and all is consumed in fire....

Thamiris, meanwhile, had continued her journey in high spirits, her encounter on the road all but forgotten in her eagerness to see her Iphy. She reached the door of the neat little cottage and knocked.


She knocked again.  "Iphy!"

A deep voice said, "Come in, luv."

She entered, and saw her dearest friend and lover lounging shirtless (possibly naked?) in the bed, smoking a cigarette [-- or the ancient Greek equivalent, since cigs didn't exist in Ancient Greece either.  your Humble
Editorial Staff--].  "Iphy..?" she ventured hesitantly.

"Come closer, my love."

She set down her basket, unclasped her wonderful (and fashionable) red cloak and laid it across the small kitchen table, and approached him.  It *looked* like Iphy but... "Ooooh Iphy, what big eyes you have."

He smiled.  "The better to see you with, my love."

"And what sharp teeth you have..."

"The better to taste your sweet flesh, my dear."

She gasped quietly, eyes dilating.  Iphy seemed *much* less depressed than she'd expected, and that filled her with hope.  So much so that she insinuated her hand under the sheet and.... "What a big cock you have!" she exclaimed.

He grinned widely, "All the better to pleasure you, my sweet."

And suddenly, Iphicles *also* sat up *next* to himself!

Tham looked from one to the other in thrilled confusion.  "Iphy...?"

And the one she'd taken for Iphicles Changed in front her, into... the feral, beautiful man she'd met in the forest!  "Not quite, my lovely," he grinned.

"This is Ares," Iphicles provided.  "He's... a relative.  We've become *very* close.  But... somewhere along the line I realized there was something missing, and Thamiris... that was you.  You are my best and most wonderful friend, and Ares told me you were coming all this way to help."

"Come to daddy..." Ares intoned.

"Yes, come to us, Thamiris," Iphicles said, a sweet, thrilled and lustful smile on his face.

And what could Tham do but throw herself on the bed between the two men, one light, one dark, but so achingly alike.  They showered her with kisses and tender caresses, and perhaps one bled and gloried in it, and perhaps one cried, but none of it was important as they found and healed each other amidst sweat and strain and ecstasy, three bodies melding into one, individual parts without meaning as they melded in perfect synchrony, as perfectly three-in-one-being as the Fates themselves, until finally they collapsed together, sated...

Prodded by an annoying need to relieve herself, Tham awoke.  She tried to will herself back to sleep, but her body was having none of it. Reluctantly, she extricated herself from her lovers and slid out of the bed. Amused, she watched as the two men unconsciously compensated for her absence by wrapping themselves around each other.  It *was* an attractive picture.

She used her grandmother's facilities and reentered the house, wondering whether she should try to get back to sleep or not, when someone pounded loudly on the door.  She barely had time to shrug into some clothes (which
turned out to be her own form-fitting trousers and Iphy's white lace-up shirt) before the door burst open!

Both Ares and Iphy awoke as the big man came through the door, armed with an huge axe.  "You need help, missy?  My name is Pruden, and I'm here to save your virtue!"

Tham gave him an incredulous look.  "Buzz off, you wanker!"

Pruden blinked.  "I don't think you understand, you poor innocent child. These are wolves!  This is no place for a girl of your innocence!  Let me KILL these beasts!"

The two men made as if to lunge forward, but Tham waved them back, striding up to the big blonde logger and grabbing the scruff of his plaid shirt.  "Listen, Pruden, we don't NEED your help!  Now fuck *off* before I let you
see how useless that axe is!"

Iphicles growled as Ares sent a spark of blue-white fire along the blade, zotzing the woodcutter's fingers.  Tham flared at him threateningly.  "Now GO!!"

Dropping his axe, the woodcutter fled.

Thamiris watched until he was out of sight, bent down to dig in her Basket of Goodies, and stood back up swinging the silk scarves in one hand, the cuffs in the other.  "Now boys," she smiled as she moved slow and sultry towards the bed, "wanna play?"

[-- And though they all had Very Important Things to do, they all felt much better after they parted ways, and remained Friends Ever After.  your Editor, FairyTale division, avoiding a potential lawsuit--]

yr Humble Transcriber,