Round Robin 2


Ares stared in disbelief at the cards laid out in front of him. The repressed  mirth from his companions did nothing to improve his temper. He had lost.

He glared at each of them in turn - one of them must have being cheating.  Aphrodite was grinning, Strife was tittering and Cupid was smirking. He felt  like blasting each of them into oblivion rather than watch their gloating.

"So Unc", Strife leaned over the table, rubbing his hands together,  his eyes bright with excitement, "You lose. And now you've got to pay the  forfeit".

Ares started to panic, although careful to allow only annoyance to show on  his face he began to wonder whose stupid idea this game had been.

Aphrodite moved the two bowls in front of him, each contained several pieces  of parchment balled up. "First, pick a name" she indicated one of the bowls into which  earlier they had each tossed four names and then she pushed the second bowl at  him "and now pick an action".

Ares' hand paused over the second choice. He remembered some of the outrageous  scenarios he himself had proposed in the hope of humiliating one of his  companions. It had never crossed his mind that he might be on the receiving end.  It had seemed such a hoot when Strife ( he remembered now it was the little runt  who had come up with the idea - Ares consoled himself for a moment as he thought  how he could make his nephew suffer for it) proposed it as a fitting punishment  for the loser of their little game. The names could be anyone - from Olympus,  earth or the underworld. And the suggestions as to what he had to do to them  could be anything - there was only one condition - that he could not use divine  intervention to force them to co-operate.

Ares ground his teeth and reached for a name. Even he did not consider trying  to escape this penance - after all a gambling debt had to be honoured above all  else. He unfolded the slip and read MARCUS. "Who the hell is Marcus?"

"You remember Marcus Unc. One of Xena's lieutenants - she was in love  with him - turned him soft and got him killed - now he's in the Elysian  Fields" Strife offered helpfully.

Ares frowned in concentration - he had a vague memory of a big dark warrior  who always used to hover around Xena whenever he visited her army. "Who in  Tartarus put his name down?"

Aphrodite waved her fingers at him "He is just so dreamy - all that hard  rippling muscles" she closed her eyes and had a little orgasm at the  thought.

Ares looked disgusted and chose from the second bowl. He looked appalled at what he had read. "I'm not doing that - I'll pick  again."

"Oh no you don't" Aphrodite stopped him "You've made your  choice for Marcus and now you have to perform it. Let's see." She grabbed the  paper and read out loud. "Have them make love to you while they are dressed as a shepherdess and  you are dressed as a sheep. You must 'baaa' as you cum."

There was a brief instance of silence as the three gods all got a clear  mental picture of Ares on all fours, covered in a sheepskin being fucked by a  6ft sheperdess and calling out 'baaa' as he spilled his load - and then the  laughter started. Cupid ended up on his back on the floor - his wings in serious  danger of being stomped on by the irate God of War - Aphrodite had tears  streaming down her face - "makes her look old and wrinkled" thought  Ares as he sat stoically through their mirth. He even restrained himself from  pounding Strife as he kept pointing at Ares and repeating 'baaa'.

Ares stood up and straightened his tunic and dignity about him. Not that it  helped any - their laughter has stilled to the occasional grunt and chuckle. "Right" he said, "lets get this over with"

"We'll be watching!" Aphrodite called out

"And remember to come straight back" Cupid remonstrated "after  all there are another eleven tasks for you to perform!"

Ares disappeared with the sound of their fresh laughter ringing in his ears.  He really was going to kill them all for this. He spent a moment conjuring an  image of holding Cupid down as he plucked out each of his feathers, one by one.  Aphrodite, now, her he would transform into a fat sow - he'd breed her with some  prize boar and eat her litters for breakfast. Strife he would would ..  that was the difficulty with punishing Strife - you always got the sneaking  suspicion that he was enjoying it too much  that was it, he'd find a way  to force him to do good deeds through all eternity. That would wipe the smile of  the little runts face. Comforted by his thoughts Ares headed toward the Elysian  Fields.

As a courtesy he dropped in on Hades and Pesoneme first - no point in  offending his uncle, after all War and Death needed a good working relationship.

"Hades", he nodded abruptly at his fellow god, "Personeme,  your looking as lovely as ever". It didn't hurt to be charming once in a  while and Personeme really was lovely.

"Ares" she relied in a high squeaky voice before abruptly turning  away, her shoulders shaking.

"Good to see you nephew" Hades quickly raised one had to casually  cover his mouth. "What brings you here?"

Ares glared suspiciously as Personeme's shoulders began to shake more  vigorously. Hades now appeared to be biting his hand. "I've come to visit  an old friend" he declared belligerently suspecting that they already knew  why he was here.

"Good, good" Hades nodded in encouragement. "What's his  name" he eventually manage to gasp out.

Ares paused. What the hell was the man's name? Surreptitiously he glanced at  the piece of paper he was still carrying. "Marcus."

"Ah, an old friend obviously" Hades remarked. Personeme had now  resorted to clutching a pillow to her face. Her sniggers were becoming more  vocal.

"Don't let us stop you Ares. I know you must be in a hurry to get  'baaa'-ck to Marcus."

Ares could feel a twitch starting in his cheek as he turned away. Even before  he blinked out he could hear their laughter start. He determined to start so many wars and keep that bastard so busy with the  dead that he'll never had time to see Personeme again. Ares arrived in the Elysian Fields but remained invisible. He could see  Marcus a short distance away sitting below a tree. He looked tall and well  muscled, his simple dress allowing Ares to take a good look at the well defined  chest, the long length of leg and the impressive outline of his cock.

Ares felt  his anger float away as his libido took precedence. Marcus had pleasant, even  features, his hair was cropped short like many warriors. His brown eyes were  fringed with impossibly long lashes. He didn't appear to have much body hair.  Marcus tilted his head to one side as if listening to something in the distance.  This movement allowed Ares to admire the well defined bone structure and long to  sink his teeth into the taut ridge where neck and shoulder met. There might just be an up side to this whole debacle Ares thought.

He made himself visible and walked toward Marcus. Marcus recognised the God  of War as he neared him and stood, bowing his head slightly.

"My Lord Ares" he said respectfully.

Ares slowed is step and allowed an expression of recognition to form on his  face. "It's Marcus, isn't it? Xena's right hand man." He clasped the  others arm in a warriors greeting "I'm sorry to see that you have passed  over. Warriors of your calibre are always in short supply."

Marcus could not help but be flattered by Ares' recognition of him. Ares  never seemed to have eyes for anyone but Xena whenever he visited their camp. He  had often stood outside her tent while she and Ares were at play and wished that  the War God would notice him. And now here he was face to face, their arms still clasped in greeting.  Marcus was conscious of the burning heat of Ares flesh where their bare arms  met. And of the rising heat in another part of his anatomy. He felt himself  redden as Ares let his eyes drift down to the front of his pants, where his  erection was tentpoleing the material.

"Good" thought Ares "this might be easier than I thought"  He allowed an easy smile to soften his lips "Want a hand with that?"  he allowed a tone of mischief to enter his voice. Marcus looked flabbergasted  for a moment and then nodded acceptance.

Ares made swift work of undressing him by simply disappearing both their sets  of cloths. Ares knelt in front of Marcus and without further ado set about the  other man's cock. It was impressive, long, straight and thick, naturally not  quiet as long, straight or thick as his own, but still a mouthful. He licked it  from its base to the very tip, swirling round the top before dropping a kiss on  the very tip. Marcus' moan indicating that he liked the treatment. Then Ares  opened his lips and sank his head down the length, he could feel the shaft  crawling to the back of his throat as he swallowed the saliva pooling in his  mouth and tightened the pressure on the pulsating flesh.

Marcus was on tiptoe  trying to push further into the red hot pleasure. Ares drew is mouth back and  used his large hands to lift and weigh the full velvety balls before sinking  back down the length of the cock. He clasped the firm buttocks in his hands,  kneading them in time to the movement of his mouth and tongue. Marcus was  moaning loudly now, his fingers curling into Ares hair "Oh fuck, fuck, yes  Oh gods yes"

Ares new that the man would not last much longer under his deadly assault. He  opened his throat and pulled Marcus even further into his mouth. A red hot  explosion of soon followed and he swallowed quickly, draining his lover of every  last drop. Ares licked his lips and then continued to lick the now flaccid flesh  as it popped out of his mouth. Marcus was boneless against him, Ares supporting  all his weight. With ease Ares rose to his feet and positioned Marcus on all  fours. He oiled himself up and then poured some oil from the jar he'd  materialised into the Marcus' crack. He carefully inserted a finger into the  tight puckered hole that invited him and set about stretching him. He took his  time enjoying the moans and wordless grunts issuing from the warrior.

Placing his cock at the entrance he slowly slipped inside the tight passage.  He looked down and was mesmerised at the contrast. His skin, which normally  looked dark, paled against the black of this warrior. He found the sight of the  dark flesh being stretched impossibly tight as he impaled it with his thick  white shaft was incredibly erotic. He wanted to prolong this moment for as long  as possible but Marcus, impatient, was already pushing back against him and  drawing the length of his cock inside himself.

"Harder, faster, please" Marcus was begging. Ares withdrew and then  thrust forward again, quicker this time, then slow. He allowed himself to  alternate pace. Enjoying Marcus' frustration as he could not judge the next  stroke. "Ares, please, you're killing me."

Marcus tried to stroke his own cock but Ares was having none of that, he had  his own plans. He thrust hard into Marcus who needed both his hands to support  his body. He rode Marcus hard and fast until he spilled his seed into the tight  hole.

Ares' withdrawal heralded a cry of frustration from Marcus. He still had a  raging hard-on. He moved his hand down to stroke himself but Ares stopped him.  Moving to stand face to face he rubbed their cocks together as he drew Marcus in  for a deep, wet kiss. "I want you to fuck me now Marcus, just like I fucked you." Ares' low  voice growled in his ear sending a shudder of anticipation down Marcus.

Ares got down on all fours and thrust his arse up in the air. As Marcus  neared him Ares turned and said. "Wait a moment, Marcus, I've often found  that the best way to enhance pleasure is to contrast it against another  pleasure. Don't you agree?"

"What?" Marcus mumbled bewildered. All he could think of was the  arse waving in his face and his erection that was bordering on pain.

"What I mean is that as well as the pleasure you'll get sliding your  cock into me you could enhance it by feeling something against the rest of your  skin. Something, like say, that bit of material over there." He pointed  with his head toward a white bundle.

"But feeling you against me will be just fine" Marcus move toward  Ares again.

Ares closed his eyes in frustration. "Marcus, haven't you liked what  I've done to you so far? Haven't I made you feel things you've never felt  before?" Ares took Marcus' agreement as written and went on "Now,  trust me on this. It will feel great. Just fetch the cloth - oh and don't forget  the hat. That's right, just slip if over your head. Can you feel it tight  against your back. See how it caresses you as you move, now pop the bonnet on.  Don't argue. The bonnet will help you focus on me . You'll only be able  to see what's straight ahead. That's right.. see I told you it was going to feel  goodnow get that big cock over here and into me. Oh yes Marcus that  feels so good but just one more thing."

Marcus groaned in frustration as he stood, white gown billowing around him,  hiked up at the waist, his cock straining forward at the same angle as his  jaunty sun bonnet.

"Yes...just one more thing that will really feel good, it will give  you a different texture to appreciate. " Ares was getting ragged.  This coercion business was difficult - he wished he could just zap the man into  doing what he wanted. "See that old rug lying there just toss it  over my back yes, that's right the sheepskin."  Ares groaned inwardly at the sight he must present. "Come on Marcus  what's the holdup?" he barked.  Marcus paused for a moment to see if the  weird god had any more kinky requests but when none were forthcoming he  thankfully sank into Ares. The tight passage gripped him as he pounded in an  out. He breath was coming in short pants as he banged his balls against the  god's arse. He did not last long and with a final grunt he spurted, pulsating  into Ares. Ares came into his own hand and had Marcus not been so distracted  with his own orgasm would have heard a faint 'baaaa'.

As Marcus recovered his breath Ares pulled the sheepskin off. "Right, then, I'll be off now" Ares moved away.

Marcus, surprised at the abrupt departure moved to stay him " Ah,  Ares?"

"What is it." Ares refused to look at him.

"I just wanted to saythat you were right.I really do  like the feel of this dress against my skin."

Ares disappeared but Marcus was sure he heard a final parting  "Pervert!"

Ares headed back towards Olympus. He would have to remember to ask Hades to  move Marcus out of the Elysian fields to somewhere in isolation. To many people,  especially demi-gods just seemed to wander in and out of the underworld these days.

The three gods were waiting for him. He pinned them with his most ferocious  look  it seemed to work because they weren't actually laughing.  Aphrodite handed him the two bowls and he quickly made his choice. Turning his back to avoid there eyes he read the parchments.

"In Zeus' name this next lot was even worse than the first  ones."


"In Zeus' name this next lot was even worse than the first ones."

Maybe this would trick them. It wasn't so bad, actually maybe this could turn to be a nice  distraction. What was the action?

Yes. Seduce her... wait a minute!

"Well, Ares?" Aphrodite inquired. "Aren't you going to tell us? Come on what's next?"

"Yes, Ares. Tell us the name and the action."

Ares sidelooked at Strife, this was not his doing he was sure of that, maybe that unbelievably dangerous romantic Cupid.

"Leah. Who the fuck is she?"

Aphrodite grinned, Cupid smiled and Strife. Oh his nephew was so going to regret this after it was over.

"She is the High Priestess of Hestia, dad!" Cupid said with a large smile on his face.

What was wrong with this boy, he kept reminding him of that in all the most inappropriate circumstances.

Dite tried to look into the "action" parchment. "You must seduce her and she must willingly accept you..... Hey I was not through!"

Ares tried to hide the parchment.

"Come on, Unc. Tell us the rest."

"If you get caught the price for disgracing a Hestian Virgin is emasculation!!"

That was it! Gambling debts must be paid off, but we all have our price. Make him look like a fool, yes, embarrass him, yes, but this... was so.. cruel. Eunuch?

"Priestess, the man for the monthly duty is here." said one of the virgins in a low voice.

"Good, show him in and leave us alone please."

The girl flushed at those words.

Leah looked bewildered, she should talk to her. Her thoughts did not seem to be pure as the Goddess desired.  Now wasn't the right time though. Each month, a man, priest to another God would to offer his services to the Temple. Not that they needed a man, but it was keeping them happy, being "needed".

"My Lady," the low, deep voice almost made her jump. She turned to look at the man.

"Magnificent." The single word almost escaped her lips before she could manage to restrain herself. It was unthinkable that she, the High Priestess of Hestia, should say something like that about a man.
He couldn't speak a word. He was a god and the God of War at that, but this was beyond rational thinking. She was, she was so much like... Now he could see the whole plot.  The second bad thing in this deal.

Not  only if he was caught was going to be a eunuch for eternity, but this woman was the exact replica of a woman that was never meant to be his, in fact she hated him with all her might, just the thought made him realise that his groin was getting hotter.

"My lady, I'm here for my service."

"Please approach. Which God do you serve?" She tried to keep her voice steady, this was going to be a hard month.


Leah looked at him bewildered. A servant of Ares. That was a first!

Never a priest of the God of War came to the Temple of Hestia. "Has your master changed his mind?" Leah asked, her voice cold and almost impolite.

"About what my Lady?" Ares was already regretting this. He forgot that Hestian Priestess, and much more Virgin ones, were his worse enemies.

"About contributing to our Temple. Never has a servant to Ares came to us before."

"I do not know, my Lady. I was just ordered."

"Very well, very well. This is not the right time. Follow the priestess to your quarters. We'll discuss this subject later, if you wish."

"But of course my Lady." Boy this goodie, nice manner was getting to his nerves, 'Yes my Lady', when all he wanted to grab her and.... seduce her!

Leah followed one of the priestesses into a bathing chamber and slowly got herself undressed. She sank into the warm scented water, grateful for the momentary distraction.  Slowly rinsing her hair, concentrated on the action as the warmth eased her tired muscles and awakened her body.

Leah tried desperately to remember all her vows and her constant worship towards the Goddess, this man, this priest. His presence was not helping at all.

She felt so relaxed in the hot water, her senses were becoming more sensitive, her mind was drifting in dangerous thoughts. She was the High Priestess and should live according to the law, but she was also a woman. When she felt the water lap against her nipples, she thought only of a man's tongue, a particular one. The thought shocked her. What was happening to her. She was powerless to stop her thoughts.  Leah imagined his hands caressing her breasts, his cock against her silky thighs.

She quickly rose from the bath and put her robe on. This was so humiliating. She wasn't supposed to be thinking of a man that way. But his features, the dark long hair, the full lips, that incredible well build body and those, almost sad, eyes kept coming to her mind.

Her thoughts were interrupted. Something was going on the next room. Tying her robe, lifted the heavy drapes, that separated the bath room from her bedroom, and saw some of her priestess and two of the other male servants trying to keep Ares' priest down.

Well, Ares thought, it was a nice Temple and his quarters quite appealing, but he was getting bored with this. Maybe he could some exploration. Find something to distract him.

He started checking the rooms, most of them small rooms filed with books or peaceful young women embroidering and chanting. They were not surprised to see him, just smiled at him and continued with their work.

All this peace and quiet thing was getting to his nerves again. The last door he opened lead to master bedroom. A huge bed and many candles mainly decorated it. He was about to leave when he heard the splashing coming from somewhere behind the heavy velvet curtains.

He slowly lifted the curtain and looked in.

She was a mirage. The long black hair, that white neck and her incredible blue eyes. She was almost like a dream, a painful dream. A dream he could never have. He just stood there watching, unaware of the fact that no man was allowed into the Priestess' chamber. He was spotted as soon as he came in.

He watched her rising suddenly from the water, she looked blushed and not because of the heat. That was his last rational thought. Strong arms grabbed him and tried to pin him down. He struggled until he heard her voice.

"What is wrong? Release him." her voice sounded irritated.

"My Lady." the other priestess looked at her and then at him. Their eyes slowly covering all the length of his body. She wanted to order them to stop, not to look at him.

"What is the matter?"

"We caught this man spying at you, my Lady. While you were taking your bath." All the priestesses lowered their eyes and their hands formed the spell for sacrilegious.

"He must be punished according to the law."

The man shuddered those words. She looked at him, he knew what the punishment was.

"Leave us."

"What my Lady?"

"I said leave us." She turned to her priestess, "I need to talk to him first. He will be punished according to the law, later."

They left the room hesitantly. Giving sidelooks to Ares and their Lady.

"Come with me," her voice was soft, yet demanding. She stepped into the bath room again and he slowly followed.
What was going on her mind? Why she was willing to be alone with him?

"You interrupted my bath. You will not mind if I continue, will you?" She was whispering, her hands slowly removing her robe.  "I never asked your name." She looked at him expectantly, her hands still holding the robe close to her body.


"What a strange name." She was slipping closely into the bathtub again, her naked body glistening with sweat. He slowly moved closer, touching her hands. She let him touch her, focusing on the material things, the tub, the soap, the feeling of the still warm water on her skin, because her excitement made her feel sick. Her hands were shaking so badly she could barely hold her body from slipping completely into the water.

'Time to see if this is a seduction or not,' Ares thought. Time to see why the High Priestess of Hestia was letting him do this and how far she was prepared to go.

She stands up, and steps out of the bath.  Water is streaming off her body, pooling on the floor at their feet. Taking the big fluffy towel in his hands, started to drying her hair and body. Touching every curve and every inch of her fine, velvety skin.

 She did not oppose and lets him touch her in every possible place. Ares looks at her, what is wrong with this Priestess. I mean, yes I am the God of War, I am a complete hunk and quite an impressive man, but this, this is quite ridiculous, if not the answer to his desires.

His eyes... She looked into them and was completely mesmerized. She could swear they've become so dark with desire. And his lips... those full sensual lips slightly parted, ready to assault her body with, like a cat in front of a bowl of milk.

'I want to see him naked.  I want to see that beautiful body.' "What is happening to me? What is wrong? Why I can not resist you?"

"Do you wish to resist? Do you wish me to go away?" his voice was a low growl, sending shivers down her spine.

She barely seems to be breathing. Until he is right in front of her. Then he moves, as though he's been waiting forever. His touch is so gentle, almost like a feather. He does not want to frighten her. He doesn't want to admit to himself that this slow, soft caresses make him more hot that anything else.

She can't stand it anymore.

Her kiss is light, like a soft feather on his mouth. He touches her chin, bringing her close, deepening the kiss. His tongue reaches out for hers, she shyly accepts the touch, the sensation making her dizzy.

Ares puts more pressure on her, his hungry tongue exploring her mouth. 'This is the moment,' he could not wait anymore, he could act as nothing was happening.

Her reply is filled with passion, her tongue reaching for his, exploring his mouth fully, a soft groan escapes him. She is so intoxicating, so sweet, so untouched, like a light breeze of air. You can not catch air, you can not cage him or manipulate.

The small bits on her lower lip, makes her reach for his raven black hair, soft curls under her hands. Small bits on her neck and collarbone, she wants more, a lot more than this. A strange low, small growling noise is heard. She stands away from him, looking bewildered, the noise came from her?

She moaned?

His smile was so seductive, she was falling for this man. Nothing seemed more important than him. Nothing could penetrate her lustful state of mind.

Ares stepped closer and started caressing her legs, his hands exploring the soft skin. She was so perfect. He slowly took her arm and led her towards the big couch, on the other side of the room.  He took her in his large arms, and pulled her close to him. She herself go limp in his arms, they felt so good around her, so comforting, so warm. Yet, so powerful. She couldn't explain what happened next, but perhaps it was the memory of her inner dreams.

His body, his arousal, his pleasure watching her in the bath. Her body responded to the feel of him next to her and she could not help notice the strength of his muscles under his garb. His skin felt so smooth as my hands reached up and stroked those strong chest. She was quite lost in the feeling of his body and my mouth sought his out. He pulled her closer. "Leah," he whispered, his own hands exploring my body hungrily. "Are you sure you want this?"

*That question was stupid,* he thought to himself. Was he a complete idiot?

She nodded slowly, afraid to speak admitting her desire for him. He laid her down on the couch, his hard body careful not to crush her, not to frighten her.

She loved the feeling of him on top of her!  It made her feel so safe, so desired. By the Gods this man had the power to make her forget. He had no powers to make his clothing disappear and had to struggle, pulling off his garments one by one, impatient to feel his skin against hers.

She wanted to touch his skin so badly, to feel those muscles beneath her hands, to run my fingers through his soft body hair, to taste the saltiness in his skin.

He slowly  pushed her back, laying on top of her, his mouth moving down her neck and then her breasts, to her nipples, licking each one, nipping at them until they were hard. Se gasped as he sucked at them and he looked up, pleased to see her face flushed with desire.

Her mind was full with conflicting emotions, as she looked at his naked body.  There he was, his strong, hard body, his... his cock swollen * she couldn't believe she said that word* and erect beneath her, his hands on her breasts, stroking them. She wanted him so much, this man, this "enemy".

His mouth moved lower and licked her nipples, continuing his travel on her body.

She wanted to touch him, her hands doing so, without really knowing what she must do. Her instinct as her only guide. Started caressing his wide chest, the broad  shoulders.

He spoke to her in a soft voice filled with desire, guiding her. Careful not to ask too much of her. He was dying to ask her to suck his cock, but he was afraid that the act would scare her away, he would have to do all the action on his own and that was not an unpleasant task.

"I try so hard not to want you," she whispered, as his mouth moved lower, as his hands parting her willing thighs. "I try to stay faithful, to follow the rules, but you are so beautiful, so powerful.

My dreams were so filled with the image of a strong man."

His mouth felt so good on my flesh, his tongue getting lower to stroke my inner lips. She was not acting, just letting him invade her body.  Small cries were escaping her lips as his tongue attacked her lower body.

She could not stand this torture. This was a feeling that made her feel so strange, wanted him to stop, to keep on going. Her response was so overwhelming.

Hearing her low cries of pleasure, feeling her body tighten, he rose above her. "I do not want to hurt you."

With those he slowly entered her and almost came there and then. His surprise was showing on his face. Her response making him cum than he had ever did in his immortal life.
Ares looked around him at the main Temple. He was kneeling in front of a small altar waiting for his punishment. Two of the Temples eunuchs approached him and started pulling his garments off. One of the was holding a small sharp knife in his hands. The other man reached for his trousers.....
Aphrodite, Strife, Cupid. They were looking at him. Expressionless. Not even a small mirth.

He walked over to the bowls ready to draw again. His mind was being invaded. 'I know you can hear me. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me. Ares.'


Part 3:   IPHENYS
Ares couldn't believe it.  In all the years of chasing her, of trying to manipulate her back into his world...she helped deceive him!  Or humiliate him, he wasn't sure which.

//These...pests, asked her, *told* her of the situation.  Oh they are going to pay...and pay dearly for this.//

As his hand withdrew another name, his face remained a blank stare.  He chose an action.  'Make him realize his feelings.'  Ares was perplexed.

Confused, Ares asked.  "Realize his feelings?  Feelings for who?"

Aphrodite giggled.  "You see, you are going to help me here.  They have been ignoring their feelings for each other.  You are going to help them."

Ares was going to play dumb.  He wanted her to spell it out for him.  He wasn't going to jump to do her *job.*  Her *love* job.

"These actions are supposed to be challenges or things that would never happen otherwise.  You are making me do your job!!"  Ares growled, which borderlined on whining.

His sister sighed.  "Look.  It is a challenge.  Hercules and Iolaus have been friends forever.  They love each other.  I'm Love, yes, but they need divine intervention."  Aphrodite put her hands on her hips and finished her thought.  "That's you, this time."  She smiled.

Cupid, who had been silent, chimed in.  "You can use your powers, but you can not "make" them do anything, you need to persuade or guide them.  You don't even have to appear..."

//If I could wipe that grin from your face...//  "Anything else?"  Ares inquired quite bitterly.


Ares' mind was looking at the situation in a strategic sort of way.

"Wait a minute."  The three of them turned toward Ares.

"What!?"  Asked Strife, ever the impatient one.

Ares had an evil grin on his face.  "How is it, that it just *happens* that I choose Hercules *and* this action?"  He strode the three steps toward them.  "Are you playing me for a fool?"  He boomed.

"Ar, look.  It was a coincidence.  A good one for me, considering this is what I hoped for.  But we didn't *plan* it.  Get over yourself and do the task!!"  Aphrodite huffed as she walked away from her steaming brother.

Ares looked from Cupid to Strife before disappearing.

Cupid exhaled from the breath he didn't know he had been holding.  "A little close, Mom, don't you think?"
Aphrodite turned slightly to talk over her shoulder.  "Yep.  We better not do that again."  His tone of voice made Aphrodite cringe at the inflection on the word 'Mom.'

"Wait, but that isn't fair. I big plans!"  Strife exclaimed.

Ares appeared a small distance away from where Hercules and Iolaus slept around a fire. //I can't believe this.//  He kicked a stone on the ground as he walked. He was sulking like a child, and it was unbecoming for the God of War.

//Not only do I have to help *love* I have to help it where... Hercules <<shiver>> is concerned.//  Ares sighed.  There was nothing he could do, he lost the bet fair and square.

Ares walked until he was only a short distance from the fire.  From his position he could see both Hercules and Iolaus, flat on their backs by the fire. //Sleeping.  Great.  Perfect.//  Ares thumped onto the ground and starting to play with blades of grass.  He was trying to formulate a plan, of course he was new to this whole love thing, so he didn't have many resources.  Ares grinned at the distant sound of thunder, and at the idea in his head.  One that would not advertise his involvement but would achieve the end result.  //Powers are acceptable.//
Hercules was sleeping soundly until he started to get wet.  He rolled over, thinking it a dream, when his face landed in a small puddle.  He sat up startled, and realized it was raining.  Without thinking he reached over and shook Iolaus.

"Come on we have to get find some cover!"  Hercules cried as the third shake was barely waking his friend.

"What?"  Iolaus started to ask when Hercules grabbed his vest and pulled him up from the ground.  They gathered their blankets and started to run in the direction of an abandoned cabin.

They had seen it as they set up camp, but the night was clear, and sleeping under the stars was relaxing.  Well, it used to be.  As they made a run for it, Ares stood nearby and watched, arms crossed over his chest leaning against a tree.

The cabin had several rooms.  As you walked into the abode, the kitchen would have been to the right, if the place was inhabited.  There was still a table and a few chairs.  To the left was a sitting area, where several larger pieces of furniture were situated.  A bench, with cushions, lined the wall; and stools and a chair littered the remaining space.  A fireplace was located several feet from the bench, a dusty throw was laying in front.

"Nice accommodations, Herc."  Iolaus sarcastically stated as he took in his new sleeping space.

Hercules scowled at him, actually scowled, Ares was floored.  He had never seen that look of exasperation on his "little" brother's face before.  He laughed, out loud too, it was a shame that no one else could hear him.

"Is it wet?"  Asked Hercules, his patience running thin.

Iolaus was bewildered at the tone of his friend's voice and decided to answer him calmly.  "No, the place is perfect."  He moved toward the kitchen table and draped his soaked bedroll across the table.

"Perfect?"  Hercules repeated.  He shook his head as he watched Iolaus fiddle with the damn bedroll.  He pushed down his feelings of aggravation and frustration, and investigated the remaining rooms of the dwelling.

Iolaus turned his head as he heard Hercules move toward the back of the cabin.  "I'll start a fire."  He said, more to himself, than Hercules.  Iolaus went to the hearth and was surprised to see wood, dry wood.  He shrugged it off and began to pile the wood and kindling in a way to create a warm, bright fire.

//You know you want him.//

Iolaus' head jerked up at the sound of the voice, but saw no one.  He shook his head thinking he had imagined the declaration.

//You want to feel his lips on yours.//

The blond started to laugh and bowed his head.  ‘This is ridiculous, my thoughts are voicing themselves.'  He continued on with the task at hand.

//Give me a *break!*//  Ares growled from the other side of the room and shifted on his feet.  //This is not something to be written off, Iolaus!//  He sighed.  //Ok, I'll try again.//  The God rolled his eyes as if this was the most taxing and unexciting thing he ever had to do.

//You want to *feel* him, to rub your hands over his body.//

Iolaus had finished with the fire and walked to the window.  Almost as though he hadn't heard the voice.  Iolaus crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the wall as he stared into the night and the falling rain.

Ares' clue that Iolaus was thinking, was the sigh he heard come from the smaller man.  Ares walked toward the man, still invisible to the mortal's eye, and came to rest only a foot away.  His own stance mimicked Iolaus', arms crossed against his chest and leaning his weight on his left foot.

//You need to let go on your inhibitions.//

Iolaus blinked.

//You dream and fantasize about him.  About his body and what it could do to you.//

Ares' voice was not his own, in order to hide his identity, yet it still maintained his seductive sexual tone.

//About what you want.//

Iolaus sighed again, and shifted his weight to the other foot.  Ares didn't move.

//Hercules and you belong together.  A perfect fit.//

Iolaus turned his head slightly at a sound emanating from the other room.  He assumed Hercules was moving things, looking for something.

Ares, noticed that he didn't have much time, decided to move the manipulation along.  He stood behind Iolaus, only mere inches separating them.

//You dream of his kisses, of his tongue licking you...//

Ares used his finger to lightly trace a line from Iolaus' right temple to his chin.  The blond shivered.

//...of it moving along your face, to you neck...//

The God moved his finger, mimicking his words.

//...where it was suck, lick, nip, at your skin...//

The finger wasn't good enough anymore, it wasn't achieving the desired effect.  Ares used his own mouth and tongue and started to suckle at the skin on Iolaus' neck when it meets the shoulder.

Iolaus moaned.  The God grinned.

// his hand moves along your chest, plays with your nipples...//

Iolaus leaned back into Ares, however Ares wasn't supposed to be there.

He panicked for a moment and decided to let it go.  //No need to change now.//

Ares' breath was hot on Iolaus' neck, while his hand played with his chest through the vest.  //Annoying thing.// though Ares.

//...Hercules' hands move lower, until they reach your cock...//

The hunter's eyes were closed, his lips parted.  He was taken with his fantasy.  With Hercules.

Ares lost all restraint as he held Iolaus' weight, as his hands roamed lower.  As the God caressed him through the leather, Iolaus moved forward into the motion.

//...Hercules can do this, touch you, kiss you, he can suck you...//

Before Ares was conscience of what he was doing, he knelt before Iolaus.  Removed his leathers, and took his cock into his mouth.

Iolaus gasped, but never opened his eyes.  Ares placed both hands on Iolaus' backside and pressed him forward.  The God swallowed all of him.  Somewhere in the back of Ares' mind he knew this is not what he came for.  He pulled away, dressed the man, and returned to his original position.

// know you want it, need it...//

Ares touched his face, and ran his fingers through the blond curls.

//...tell him...he wants it too...//

The God pulled away from him with a start as Hercules return to the room.  It was a reflex, considering Hercules could not see him.  Not today.

Iolaus cleared his throat and shook his head slightly and was painfully aware of the erection his was sporting.  He tried to subtly adjust himself, but Herc-the-ever-knowing, saw him.

Hercules chuckled.  "Good day dream?"

Iolaus' head wiped around and pinned Hercules' eyes with his own.  "Very unfulfilling, actually."

"Really?  Thought they were all supposed to be good, you being in control."  Hercules tried to veer away from the subject by responding with a lighthearted tone.

Iolaus took several steps toward the other man, while Ares retreated further into the shadows.   "Not all of us have the self control that you seem to hold," Iolaus spat.  He didn't want it to come out so harsh and bitter but it did.

Hercules opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again.  He looked at Iolaus, then out the window, and back to his partner.  After several more moments of silence, Hercules responded.  "What's the matter?"

The great demi-God could think of nothing else but ‘what's the matter.'  Ares shook his head is disbelief.  //No wonder Dite needed me.//

//Tell him.//

Iolaus stopped breathing, although he was the only one that knew that.  He casually looked to his right, then left, but found no one.

//Touch him.  Lay your hand on his arm.  Say his name.//

Without thinking about the source of the voice, he did it.  Iolaus walked the last few feet to stand in front of Hercules, and placed his right hand on his arm.  "Hercules..."

//No more talking.  Lean toward him.  Kiss him.//

Ares saw the hesitancy in Iolaus' eyes.

//Take a chance.  You have nothing to lose.  He wants it too.//

The blond leaned forward, placed his other hand on Hercules' chest, and tilted his head back slightly.  And paused.  Ares nearly shouted, he was so frustrated!!

//Grip him tighter.  Pull him toward you.  Kiss him.//

It was as though Ares was moving puppets, at his own whim, for his own desire.  It was an odd feeling.

Iolaus pulled Hercules down into a kiss.  The kiss was light at first, but the longer Hercules stayed and didn't pull away, the more confident Iolaus became.  He deepened the kiss, while Hercules held his face in both hands.

Hercules was the first to pull away.  Still holding Iolaus' face in his hands.  "Are you sure you want this?"

Iolaus laughed, his eyes crinkled and his dimples shone through.  "Yes!  Who do you think I was day dreaming about?"  He pulled Hercules down for another kiss.

Ares was trying not to be sick.  //Does he always have to be so noble?!//  He sighed, he just helped make Hercules happier.  //Well that was on my list to do today!//  The God was tempted to stay and watch, however he felt it would be an invasion.  <<shiver>>  //Do I really think that?!//

He looked back at the couple, still in an embrace, kissing, making no moves to further the encounter.  Ares huffed.  //With my luck, he wouldn't want to do it now.  He would want to wait.  What's the fun in *that!*//  He left with no trace of his being there, and returned to Olympus.
Aphrodite was waiting for him and looked at him expectantly.

"The task is done, they're kissing."  Ares growled.  "Good enough?"

Aphrodite thought for a moment.  "Perfect."

Cupid appeared with in a flash of light holding a bowl, a second later, Strife appeared holding the other.  "Come on Dad, time to pick again."  Cupid taunted his father.

//One day he will use that without sounding so...antagonizing.//  Ares hoped.

Part 4:  NANDRA

Ares stared at the offending pieces of paper he held in his hands. This, by far,  was the worst one yet. How in Tatarus could they expect him to do this? He was  "Ares", God of War, for Zeus sakes, not some cheap act in a Vaudeville show!  Although he had never met the woman, he had heard of her; she had quite a  reputation. There could be no good come from this, it meant only one outcome and  he just didn't think he could do it.

"Come on Unc, tell us what it says."

Sparks of anger blazed in his dark eyes as he looked at the group before him. All it would take would be just one zap and they'd all be gone...obliterated. His  palm itched at the thought of singeing the monkey grins right off their godly faces. His lips twitched slightly as he fantasized about three piles of ashes sitting before him.

"Yea Ar, tell us. Read us what the next action is."

A muscle ticked in Ares' jaw as he glared at his dimwitted sister. He did believe that he would derive the most pleasure from incinerating the offending blond then scattering her remains to the four winds!

"*Dad*, you know the rules, you have to tell us what the action is and who is involved," Cupid said, stretching his wings and giving Ares a disarming smile.

Ares opened the slips of paper he had crumpled in his fist, the black letters seeming to jump out at him. All three faces were turned to him expectantly and he could feel his cheeks grow warm as he looked at the writing.

"The widow Twanky."

"Ooooohhhhh this is going to be good."

Ares glared at Aphrodite before reading from the second slip of paper. "Make a career change."

Cupid and Strife burst into laughter, the sound grating on Ares already shattered nerves. Ok, so he would go through with all their little stunts. But once the bet was paid, they would *all* pay dearly for his bruised and battered ego.

Ares disappeared in blue flash, the harsh sound of their laughter still ringing in his ears.
Ares took a deep breath to steady his jittery nerves as he stood outside the stone building. Above the door hung a weathered sign; 'Twanky's Dance Academy". It had been a long time since Ares had even thought about dancing let alone done any. Well maybe Hera's insistence that he learn to dance would finally pay off. He hoped he could remember everything Priapus had taught him.

Ares pushed open the doors and entered the darkened interior of the building. Somewhere in the distance he could hear the faint strains of music. He moved down the cool halls until he came to a partially open door. He stood outside for a moment, listening to the fast paced beat of the music, punctuated every now and then with the faint tap, tap, tap of a directors wand. He pulled the door open a little farther in order to see inside the room. A small woman in a garishly colored dress stood with her back to him, her body bouncing in rhythm with the music. That must be the Widow Twanky, he surmised as he watched full hips sway and her white blond curls bounce in time with the rest of her body.

Strange, but even from this distance there was something oddly familiar about the woman.

In the middle of the room were six women of various shapes and sizes, dipping and turning at the Widow's direction, their bodies scantily dressed in different hues of gossamer materials.

Ares squeezed through the door opening and leaned against the wall so that he could observe the dancers unnoticed. He had to admit the women seemed to be quite accomplished dancers. Their movements were fluid and graceful as they leapt and pirouetted around the room...he was mesmerized by them.

With the last cord of music, the dancers bowed gracefully and the Widow Twanky gave them an enthusiastic round of applause. Ares, so wrapped up in their performance, joined the widow's enthusiasm, cheering the performers. The widow whirled around at the sound of the masculine voice. Her eyes unabashedly roamed his body from head to foot, lingering on his middle torso. Ares could feel himself blush as the woman ogled him, the lust clearly visible on her face.

"Take a break, girls," she said, her eyes still lingering on Ares' crotch. "May I help you?"

He backed up until he could feel the cold stone of the wall pressing into his back, as the widow moved toward him. A lustful grin spread across her face her eyes continued to roam over the masculine body before her.

"I...ah, wanted to see about joining your dance troupe."

"Really," she twittered, "and do you have experience?"

"Well my mother hired a tutor for me when I was a child. She felt I should learn to be a perfect dancer before I became a warrior."

"My, my," the widow's nasally voice purred, "I really must thank your mother."

"Excuse me?"

"I said you must be a wonderful dancer," the widow replied as she ran a hand down one of his muscled arms. "Just beautiful...well formed and graceful I suppose. We will just have see how well you can dance, won't we? And do you have a name?" Her hand now moved across his chest, lingering on the muscles there.

"Aremotus," Ares stuttered. This woman's advances actually had him looking for the nearest exit. He felt like a trapped animal.

The widow clapped her hands together, summoning the dancers around her. "Ok girls, I would like you to meet Aremotus. He has asked to join our dance troupe, so I am going to give him a little audition."

Ares presented the women with a charming smile as they gathered around him. He wondered which one she would pair him with and voiced that question to the widow.

"Silly boy," she laughed as she tapped his chest with her wand, "why with me, of course."

Ares was shocked, to say the least. While the widow may have been a wonderful dancer in her younger years, he couldn't quite picture her as an adequate dance partner now. But he had little time to think on the matter as she pulled him to the middle of the floor and signaled for the music to start.

Well he might as well get this over with, he thought as he grasped her hand and pulled her in his arms. This action elicited an excited gasp from the widow as her voluptuous body was pressed tight against his. They moved in a fluid motion around the dance floor, and Ares was surprised at the agility of the woman. They spun and dipped and twirled until the ending of the song at which time, the widow leapt into a surprised Ares' arms.

Loud applause and bravos filled the dance studio as the Widow Twanky and Ares God of War, bowed before their audience.

Ares yelped in surprise when the widow pinched his ass, "You're hired," she smiled before giving his rear a final pat and walking away.

"And by the way," she turned back toward Ares, "we have a performance only two nights from now. I expect you to be here at sun up tomorrow morning for practice."

Ares stared at the brazen woman as she and the dancers and left the room; and then he began to laugh before disappearing in a flash of light.
"Well," Aphrodite questioned between snickers.

"Well what? I did what you asked, I spent the day with the Widow Twanky...dancing."

More snorts and giggles came from the three Gods. Strife was literally rolling in the floor, Aphrodite had tears streaming down her face and Cupid was laughing so hard, small puffs of feathers floated around him. Ares face remained impassive as they continued to laugh. Let them laugh and think he was humiliated...he wanted them to think that. When in all actuality, he had enjoyed the day immensely. He had forgotten how enjoyable dancing really was. Looking at the laughing trio, Ares smirked and a small smile began to tug at the corner of his mouth. The fools...little did they know he had every intention of being in that show two days from now.

 Part 5:  Dee

Ares looked at the others.  Their faces bore identical smug grins.  Then he looked at the papers in front of him.

Action: Show them some T L C

Who: Gabrielle

"You got to do it, Unc."

"That's right, Dad. You have to go and give Xena's little playmate some tender loving care."  Cupid suddenly looked at Strife. "Hey! If Ares is your uncle and my Dad, that would make us cousins!"

Dite shook her lovely head. "Just figured that out, did you?"

Ares, not wanting to miss a chance to torment his son, added,  "I have a question for you, then: who's Strife's father? And remember, there are not that many gods willing to fuck Discord."

As the wardgod blinked, he heard Cupid and Strife go "Ewwwwwwwww."


Ares found the Bard setting on the ground. She was covered with mud, and rubbing her ankle.

This may not be so hard, he thought to himself. She's definitely in need of ....


Gabrielle turned to see the god of war standing behind her.  "Ares! What do you want?"

"Oh, get gone with the negative vibes, babe." Ares plopped himself down beside her.


"Sorry, my dear. Spending too much time with Aphrodite. Actually I was bored and thought I'd make your life miserable. But it seems someone has already done that."

Gabrielle rubbed her ankle, giving the wargod her best Xena look. "Fuck you very much Ares. "

Ares took the bard's foot in his hands and removed the boot. "You know, you've acquired a bit of a mouth lately. Can't say I like it."

"Who said I cared what you like? And let go of my foot!"

"Shut up!  I know you don't want to hear this from me, but you're a good person, whether you believe it or not. You're honest, loyal and damn good with that staff of yours.  I respect you because you stay with Xena, and stand up to me. Others would've run off by now. And if you'll let me, I'd like to help make your day a bit better, starting with a nice hot bath, then a relaxing massage, and then whatever else you want. Ok?"

The Bard looked doubtful. "Ok. But no funny stuff, alright?"

Ares smiled.  "Trust me."

In a flash they were in a large room, with a cheery fire, a huge tub filled with hot scented water, and the most decadent bed Gabrielle had ever seen.

The god helped Gabrielle remove her outfit and get into the tub.  When her body was immersed in the water, he washed her long red-blonde hair. Then, soaping his hands, Ares slowly began to wash her body.

Gabrielle moaned and arched her back as Ares caressed her breasts. The pink nipples rose under his talented fingers.

"You missed a spot," Gabrielle said, taking a deep breath as she guided his hand down between her legs.

Ares smiled to himself as he played with her clit, grinning wider when the bard bucked her hips as her body was overwhelmed with her first orgasm. When she'd stopped shuddering, the god helped Gabrielle from the tub. Drying her off,  he whispered in her ear. "Now for the massage."

Carrying the small Amazon to the bed, Ares lay Gabrielle on her stomach. Next, he poured patchouli- scented oil in to his hand.

Gabrielle licked her lips. "You don't want to get oil all over your leather now, do you?"

He laughed as his leathers vanished.  Then, straddling Gabrielle's thighs, Ares began to rub the oil into her skin.

"I like that," she said softly.

"Like what?" Ares asked, as he leaned forward.

"Everything. Mostly what you're doing at my rear."

Ares looked down and saw his erection rubbing between the cheeks of her tight ass. Moving his hips, he rubbed even more. The woman moaned.  Moving his hands to her buttocks, the god spread them, slowly inserting his pinky finger.  Gabrielle cried out but did not pull away.  Ares removed his pinky and replaced it with his index finger, then another, till he had three fingers in the bard's virgin ass. "You like that?''

All Gabrielle could do was nod.

"Do you want more?" Ares asked her.

Another nod.

Ares removed his fingers and pulled Gabrielle to her hands and knees. "This will hurt at first, but if you relax it will stop."  Rubbing oil thickly on his hard cock, the god placed it at the ring of tight muscle. Slowly he forced his way inside her.

Gabrielle bit her lip to keep from crying out at the invasion. Taking deep breaths, she forced herself to relax. Soon the pain was gone.

Reaching around, Ares began to rub the woman's clit as he slowly began to fuck her. Gabrielle cried out as her pleasure grew, finally peaking, while the god lay over her small form, his hips snapping till his seed filled her.  Rolling the woman onto her back, Ares kissed her deeply. "Feel better?"

"A bit."

Ares stared. "A bit? What's it going to take to make you feel better?"

Gabrielle took hold of Ares' cock. "You showing me how many times you can get that up before I have to meet Xena..."


Hours later, Ares reappeared on Mount Olympus.

Aphrodite put her hands on her hips. "Ares, this was supposed to be tender loving care. Not a seduction."

The wargod  took his seat, giving everyone a smug look. "Well, she feels better, doesn't she?"

"Dad, you fucked her every way there is. And some ways I never even saw before. But she did enjoy it. So I guess that does qualify as T. L. C."

Cupid and the others exchanged glances.  This wasn't turning out very well.

Ares leaned back, arms crossed over his chest. "That was fun," he noted smugly. "What's next?"

Part 6: CW

He picked, choosing from the "action" pile first.  "Without using your powers, fulfill a secret desire."  Well that shouldn't be too terribly difficult.  He could charm most of the possible subjects into something requiring little effort on his part.  After all, it didn't specify *what* desire.  And not to be egotistical, be *he* was eminently desirable...
Covering his burgeoning smirk with an effort, he drew the name.


"Something wrong, unc?"  One of these days Strife was going to regret that smirk.

Ares had to settle on glaring at him.  "No."  He turned to the others. "But all *his* desires have to do with thievery.  How am I supposed to-" he stopped short in the face of a distinct lack of sympathy.  "Never mind. I'll figure it out."

He left in a particularly virulent flash of blue light.

//Third bas-relief from the left has a chipped... yes!  Wedge in the toe, then grappling hook up to the- DAMN!// the metal *chinged* softly against the stone.  He gathered the grappling hook back in, waiting for endless seconds to see if the soft noise had alerted anyone in the household. Nothing stirred except the wind rustling nearby tree branches.  //Hah.  The gods are with me tonight.  Gods?  Nah.  This is *skill* talking.  Okay now... a little less turn to the wrist and release a half a second sooner and...  Oh, I am *too* brilliant... now up and -ugh- over the balcony railing, lock still broken?  Of course.  I swear you people make this too easy.//

Following his mental map, he sidled through the untenanted guest quarters and down the darkened corridor and down to the chill depths of the estate's basement, making sure there was no evidence of his passing.  Now came the fun part...

Pulling out a Number Three lockpick (standard version), he opened the first lock on the heavily reinforced door to the vault.  Then //third from the bottom...//. The locks had to be opened in a particular sequence to avoid tripping the elaborate alarm system, with each lock different and increasingly complex.  Fortunately one of the nephews had proven extremely susceptible to good liquor and his vast quantities of... natural charm. Fifth lock: this one required one of his specially-tooled picks and some very delicate handling.  It was the first to make him feel that delicious thrill of tension before the inevitable *click*.  And final lock... the magical one.  He took the simplest of keys from his tunic and, with a  self-satisfied smirk, wrapped a long strand of the nephew's hair around it, driving it home before he could question the veracity of the man's information.  For a few tense moments nothing happened, then... the door creaked open and he slid through the opening in the ten seconds before it closed itself.

He allowed himself a soft, satisfied chuckle, strolling through the accumulated treasures of generations to claim his prize, an ornate opal ring said to have been made by Hephaestus himself as a gift of obscure gratitude to some even more obscure ancestor.  He examined it, dropped it in a secure pocket, and strolled back out(picking up a few knicknacks along the way), using the second strand of hair to unlock the vital lock.  Then back upstairs, out to the balcony, rappel to the bas-relief, then an easy swing to the tree and over the wall.

He was halfway back to his campsite when a flash of blue light nearly blinded him.  "GAH!  Wha-" at first he could see nothing but the afterimage of blue fire burning in his eyes.  Slowly the shape before him came into focus.  "Ares?!"

"Perceptive of you."  The leather-clad figure moved closer, the deep black of his garb giving the illusion that a piece of the night itself had detached itself for the sole pupose of ruining Autolycus' good mood.

"Whadda you want?"  He backed up as the dark god moved towards him, visions of circus cages far too fresh in his mind.

"To find *you*," Ares purred, then a little more truculently, "You're a difficult man to track down."

"Well I *am*-" he flicked a nonchalant finger across his goatee almost unconsciously, "-the King of Thieves.  It's a trick of the trade."

"Indeed..." Ares drew in closer.

Autolycus backed up again, only to find himself backed up against a tree. Sounding bold through sheer nerves, he held a fending hand up.  "So why *are* you here?  I've never heard of a god in need of a thief, and I swear, I haven't even SEEN Herc or Iolaus for- well, for AGES.  So, no need for that shapeshifting stuff, right?"

Ares laughed indulgently, leaning by one hand against the tree trunk, not incidentally cutting off any effective avenue of escape for his... benefactee.  Who had unintentionally given him his explanation.  "Well that's what I'm here about, actually-"

"WHOA NO!"  Autolycus' body tried to bolt in several different directions, all of which seemed to be blocked by large amounts of all-too-physical god. Out of options, he went back to speaking.  "You want to play more, go find Salmoneus.  He LIKES this role-playing gig!  I am DONE with anything that might piss you off.  Ask anyone!"

Ares chuckled.  "Autolycus.  Auto.  Can I call you that?"

Autolycus gave him a tight nod.  "Sure.  Fine.  Auto it is."

"Good."  Ares tried out an ingratiating smile.  It didn't seem to work. Made him wonder if Hephaestus' long-ago crack about "prominent canines" might have been based on more than jealousy.  A terse nod seemed to calm the man more.  "Well... Auto.  You don't understand.  I'm here because I-"  he took a deep breath //can'tlosethebetcan'tlosethebetcan'tlosethebet// "-feel... *bad* about that."  He paused to gague the thief's reaction.

Autolycus looked at him with suspicious disbelief.

"No, *really*!"  Ares put on his Sincere face.  It was more believable than his 'Harmless' one.  "It wasn't fair of me to include you in that.  So I'm here to set things right."

Still suspicion, but he could almost visibly see the wheels of extreme self-absorption spinning in the thief's mind.  "Set things right how..?"

Confident that the fish had been hooked, Ares clapped an arm around Autolycus' shoulders, pulling him into a comradely embrace.  "Well that's what I want to talk to you about!"

"A secret desire, huh?"

"That's right."  Ares essayed another grin that seemed to have the desired effect.  Amazing how much practice grinning *harmlessly* took.

"ANY secret desire?"

"Anything."  The dark brows drew together in mild consternation.  "Well, there *is* one catch..."

"HAH."  Autolycus leapt up and began pacing around the fire.  "I KNEW it! There's always a catch.  What is it?"  He stopped in front of Ares.  "First born child?  Sacrifice my skills?  Premature baldness?"  He shuddered at the last thought.

"Nooooooo... Nothing like that..."  Ares looked up at him, flipping his hair rakishly.  "I just... can't use my powers to grant you this."

"...Can't use..."  Autolycus blinked.  "You mean at ALL?"

"Well..."  Ares shrugged lamely.  "Maybe at the very end.  If there's no other way.  Depending on what the desire is.  But mostly... no.  No powers."

"Just you?"

The god's eyes narrowed.  "YES just me."

Autolycus snorted.  "Well if I'd WANTED some muscle-bound *oaf* trailing along with me I'd HAVE one!"

Now Ares leapt up.  "I am no OAF, mortal!  Even without using my powers, I'm offering you the services of a GOD!"

"Oh GREAT!  The services of a god who can't use his powers!  What kind of a deal is *that*?!"

"The best one YOU'LL ever get!" Ares roared.

"Alright alright!  Chill, war god.  So you *might* be able to use your powers if you need them to fulfill my desire?"

Ares nodded irritably.

"Well!  Then I should get some sleep while I think about this."  Autolycus yawned extravagantly.  "You staying?"

"I'll meet you in the morning."  Ares disappeared, the electric flash looking somehow subdued.

Autolycus awoke to an unfamiliar smell that was somehow invigorating.

"C'mon thief.  Wakey-wakey."

"Wha' *is* that?"

"Got it off some food vendor.  It's imported.  Tried a cup or two myself. Wonderful stuff!"

Still half-asleep, Auto took the cup and tried a fragrant sip.  "This is..."  he took another sip.  "This is *incredible*!"  He finished the rest in  record time, amazed at how alert it made him feel.  "What's is called?"

"Caffe, I think."

"Who'd you get it from?"

"Uhm... The name's usually Dibbler, but I think it was a little different this time.  Started with an 'F'.  Think it had to do with being sick."

"Well this stuff is *great*!  Uhm... mind blinking out while I get organized?"

The god obligingly blinked out, reappearing when Autolycus was back to his old, alert self.

"SO!" The thief gave his prospective partner in crime a smirk.  "You want to know my secret desire?"

"That's what I'm here for.  If you want any godly miracles done say it now, though.  Once you spit it out, that's it for the powers."

"Will anything I ask for extend beyond your time limit?"

Ares thought about it.  "No."

"Fuck it then."

Ares shrugged.  "Okay.  What's your desire?"

Autolycus thought, then looked at the god suspiciously. "Waitaminnit.  If it's a *secret* desire, how can I tell *you*?  If I tell you it's not a secret."

Ares rolled his eyes.  "You can TELL the person who's supposed to GRANT it. You just can't have told anyone else."

The thief nodded.  "Okay... that makes sense."  After a pause long enough to have Ares all but vibrating with suppressed impatience he finally said, "The Sceptre of Sparta."

Ares waited again, then finally said, "The what?"

"The Sceptre of Sparta.  It's legendary.  Supposed to have been forged at the founding of Sparta.  Imbued with magical powers and the made finest materials ever known to the gods.  It's so legendary no one even talks about it.  It's supposed to be the most sacred, unique item ever created, and impossible to steal.  No one even knows where it's sequestered.  THAT's my dream that I've never told anyone.  If I stold that no one would *ever* be able to contest my being the King of Thieves."

Ares eyed him narrowly.  "If it's a legend that no one ever talks about, how do you know it actually exists?"

Auto grinned at him.  "That's part of *your* job if you mean what you said. *You* have the connections to tell us where it is."

"I told you-"

"Even without using your powers, you can get information from the other gods, can't you?"

Ares grunted in reluctant acknowledgement.

Autolycus spread his hands expansively. "Well then..."

Ares sighed, "I'm on it," and blinked out.

Autolycus settled back and fished his opal ring out, admiring it in the grey overcast light.

Appearing in the heart of the temple, Ares bellowed, "AphroDITEEEEE!"

An answering flutter of golden light preceded the goddess' entrance.  "You *don't* need to yell, bro.  What gives?"

He sighed, raking his dark curls back through his fingers.  "I need to know where the Sceptre of Sparta is."

"Between a Spartan's legs?" she smirked.

"Ha ha.  I don't have time for this, sis.  You gonna tell me or not?"  Ares glowered at her, letting his lips go into that pout he knew she loved.

"Oh, ALL right," she flipped her hair back fetchingly.  "I *should* make you work harder for it, but...  It's a few leagues outside of Sparta proper. Buried under a monument.  Just follow the fauns and satyrs.  They'll show you."  She grinned mischievously.  "But I wouldn't try that pout out on *them* if you're not feeling athletic enough."

He blinked out without comment.

"You didn't TELL me we had to go through a *swamp*."

"Hey, it's YOUR desire!"

"So blink us there."

"I CAN'T."

"And you call yourself a god."

"SHUT.  UP."

<silence>  "EWWWWWWW!!  ZEUS!  Where are you LEADING me?!"

"It's just mud.  Grow up, King of Thieves.  YOU wanted this damned thing."

"EXCUSE me, but MUD doesn't have TEETH."

"THIS mud does.  Didn't think it'd bother you, seeing as you're so nimble."

"I trained for *rooftops* and *balconies* and *urban* obstacles, not SWAMPS."

"Oh, cry me a fucking river.  This is YOUR desire, not MINE."

"You could've TOLD me."

"I-" <squelch> "-UGH!  Didn't KNOW!  I'm the God of WAR, not the god of Slogging-Through-Muck."

<squelch> "... IS there a god of Slogging-Through-Muck?"

"How should *I* know?!  What the fuck IS that?!"

"Well you're a god, how could you NOT know?  HEY!  Watch where you chuck those things!"

"You think we hang around with every single god that exists?  PLEASE."

"So you admit there are gods you don't know about."

"There are gods it's not- FUCK!  LEGGO!  If this leather gets ruined I *swear* I'll..."

"There are gods it's not *what*?"

<growl> You honestly think we Olympians are going to hang around with the gods of- DAMMIT!- muck?!"

Autolycus drew a finger across his moustache thoughtfully.  "All things considered, it might not be a bad idea."

Much slogging and cursing later, they were camped at the edge of the swamp. And fighting again.

"Whadda you *mean* you have no food?"

"Ares.  I travel light.  I catch my food."

"Well CATCH some."

"I'm too tired."

"I'm HUNGRY, damnit!"

"Then YOU catch something."  Autolycus settled on his sleeproll, looking entirely too comfortable.

"Gods don't DO that," Ares grumped.

Autolycus yawned.  "Maybe it's time they tried."

That same smell was being waved in his face.  Auto woke slowly again because he knew he could.  "Auto.  Wake up.  Here.  Caffe.  Fresh and everything."

He opened his eyes and took the mug.  "Ahhhhhh... where are we?"

"Halfway to the Sceptre.  And starving."

Autolycus cracked one eyelid.  "You didn't catch anything?"

"Catch WHAT?"  The god actually looked distressed.  "Everything I ran across was cursed good at running."

He sat up.  "What were you trying to kill them with?"

Ares looked at him like he was mad.  "This, of course," he hefted his broadsword.

The thief fought back a chuckle.  "I'll catch us something.  And maybe show you that sometimes subtlety is the way to go."

They wandered through increasingly desolate landscape.  "The Spartans call this the Forbidden Zone, you know," Autoplycus said conversationally.  They say some god razed it for them after their last great victory.

Ares snorted derisively.  "This was laid bare through bad agricultural practices, not warfare.  Isn't that the landmark we're supposed to be looking for?"

The thief squinted in the red-tinged sunlight.  "Yep.  That's definitely it. Shaped like a Roman's nose, the story says.  The Sceptre should be buried under the left nostril."

"How appealing," Are muttered as they trudged across the dry, dusty land.

"SO how did you become the King of Thieves?"  The god flipped his skewer to give the othe part of the rabbit equal attention from the fire.

"Talent," Autolycis replied with an flip smirk.

"No, *really*," Ares prodded.

"I'm supposed to think you care?"

The dark brows creased as Ares considered the question.  He sounded almost surprised when he finally answered, "Yes.  I do care.  Not that I HAVE to. I've just spent so damned much time with you lately I want to know.  I..." he had the grace to look almost embarrassed.  "I wonder... in the short time you've had... how?  What happened to make you... interesting?  How CAN you become exceptional in so short a time?"

"Well..."  Autolycus worried a finger across his mustache.  "I always *was* exceptional, but..." and he told his story, only to be met with a baffling silence from the god.  You weren't supposed to ask things of gods but... he'd just given this one his life's story only to be met with silence, so... "What about you?"

"I..." those darkdark eyes looked up at him, all liquid and unreadable. "I'd rather not talk about it.  God shit."  The flash of bitterness that crossed the god's face made Auto think his story may have been well-matched if Ares had been able to talk.

"No problem, god-man.  Get some sleep."  He curled into his own bedroll as an example.

"More SLACK!"  the call came echoing up from the crevasse.

Muscles tensing, Ares complied, playing out the rope slowly.

"Almost there..." the thief's voice murmured.  "A little more... now HOLD it.  Easy now... easy...  oh my gods.... get ready.  I'm counting on you, big guy..."

He waited, the rope momentarily slack in his hands, and felt a thrill of worry for the man who, though admittedly annoying, he'd grown fond of over the fortnight they'd spent together.  //Grab it and let's get the fuck out of here, Auto...//

"Okay GOT it!  **PULL**!!"

Ares pulled like he never had before, knowing Autolycus was speeding up the length of the rapidly moving rope, even feeling obscurely pleased at the talent of the young mortal.  Soon the form of his dust-covered charge emerged from the hole they had forced through the ancient rubble, the legendary Sceptre held triumphantly in the iron grip of one hand.

It was almost in aferthought that they heard the roar following the thief.

"What IS that?"

"Uhm... the wind?"

"Sounds a little pissed off for mere wind."

Autolycus coughed.  "You have a point.  Any suggestions?"

Ares took another look down the deep, dark tunnel.  "RUN!"

"So we did it."

Autolycus gave him a rakish smile, stroking his mustache.  "We did it, Ares."

"YOU did it.  I'm not used to this no powers thing."

"Couldn't have done it without you."

"Bullshit.  You're the King of Thieves."

"But it was you that zapped that... THING back to Kingdom Come."

"No I didn't.  The sunlight chased it away."

"Well you hauled me OUT of there!!"

"I *did* do that, didn't I..."

"And I have the Sceptre."

Ares regarded the item.  "Yep.  You have it.  Is it worth all that?"

"Depends.  Monetarily, between this and the Opal I'm set for life. Professionally, I *am* the King of Thieves.  And beyond that...."  He fingered the goatee again.

Ares raiseed an eyebrow.  "Beyond that..?"

"I may not have admitted my entire dream to you.  Professional ethics, you know."

Ares nodded seriously.  "Of course I'd be bound to keep this between you and I."


"And we still despise each other..."


"This was under duress."

"*Extreme* duress."

"Well then..."

"Shut up, war god.  And c'mere..."

Ares wasted no further time on arguing as his lips sought those of his surprising and oh-so-dextrous 'secret desire'....

 Next Parts of RR 6-end

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