That was it. He'd never make another plan again. They never worked out like he wanted them to: he always ended up disappointed and drunk and afraid for his life, and he was sick of it.
He'd give up the women, too. Never again would he dare stare at the outline of a nipple through the worn linen of a tavern girl's jersey. He would stop brushing up against wealthy aristocratic matrons in the guise of going for their purses, but really to get a handful of their luscious flesh.
That morning had sealed his fate. He'd gone to bed with this leather-clad blonde with eyes as blue as the Aegean, and it had been fun, though not spectacular, probably because he knew she wanted to kill him. From the calluses on her palms to the twinge of everlasting hatred in her eyes, she'd obviously been just another assassin, like the hoards of other assassins sent after him in the last week.
He hadn't meant to fall asleep afterwards, but, like men everywhere, his body hadn't given him the choice. Even Autolycus couldn't defend himself from a nice, quick stab to the heart while he was sleeping. Luckily, his considerable skill had worn the girl out, and, even more luckily, she didn't seem to go for blood.
He'd woken up from that dream with the mermaids, which wasn't as much fun this time since he hadn't been able to breathe underwater. He'd realized why that was; there was a pillow being held over his head. His mind, in its usual girlish voice, had screamed "assassin!" at him, and he'd brought his feet up over to the side, and kicked the woman's slim frame off him easily. He gasped in air like a cheap hooker, grabbed his clothes and supplies, and flipped stark naked out of the window into the pre-dawn air.
The thing about these assassins was that they were all half-assed. There hadn't been one that he'd had to spend more than a minute fighting. He figured that was because of his superior skill: he was the King of Thieves, remember, and had learned at least a few tricks in his short but sweet life. But a niggling voice kept telling him that maybe, just maybe, it was a trick to make him stop caring, stop worrying. He couldn't let his guard down.
He'd known the girl was an assassin when he'd seen her, of course. He'd been a little apprehensive hopping into the sack with her, but he hadn't been able to resist a little nookie before the main event. He figured it would make a good story to tell the guys after he sorted this whole mess out. He might skip this one, though, because in hindsight, it wasn't all that impressive.
So no more women for him. No more sex, he should say, at least until he got Ares off his back and could walk a mile without running into someone wanting to kill him. Sure, a lot of people usually wanted him dead, but they weren' t all as persistent as people commanded by a god to do the deed.
And, he admonished himself, no more 'challenges' either. He shouldn't have tried to steal Ares' sword in the first place. It was a stupid plan. It's not like he even wanted to be the God of War or anything - that job was a little too bloody for Auto. He hadn't been able to help himself, however. Ever since that little debacle with Artemis' bow and Hermes' sandals, he'd been hungry for more godly goods. And - yes, he'd admit it freely - he'd been hungry for more encounters with Ares.
Not like this, though. He'd been hoping the big mass of muscle and black leather would show up at the wrong moment, maybe punish him in various creative ways in any numbers of positions. Ares had awakened that part of Autolycus that had a major weakness for the malevolent sort of lover, the kind who could make him feel, even in his realized greatness, that he wasn't all that strong after all.
That's why he'd followed Xena around for so long. She'd deigned to fuck him a few times. Okay, four times. She'd been drunk for two, and in that spastic 'I've just slaughtered an army of big evil men' mood the other two, and he just happened to be there, and willing. And, there was all that time she spent in his body, but he wasn't even going to brag about what had happened then - that was a little too weird, even for him.
So when he'd found himself in Sparta, and just happened to stroll by the big ugly temple Ares kept there, he'd found it hard not to slip in behind those massive limestone doors. He'd heard the rumor that the sword, the seat of the god's power, lay somewhere deep within the labyrinthine structure. If he couldn't find it, nobody could.
He'd prowled down the long hallways as silent as a spider, ignoring the bloody swords and axes mounted on the Cyclopean stone walls. Stealing from the gods always made him tingly and light-headed, like he'd spent too much time in the sun. This had been different though. Ares had that look, first of all: that casual but deadly stare, the upward turn of those delectably full lips, the sheer power and force that oozed from him like oil from a crushed olive. And he was dangerous; Ares had killed thousands of men, and wouldn't hesitate in killing another.
He'd let his usually trustworthy inner sense guide him through the identical hallways, leading him further and further into the middle of the building. He'd marked the walls with a soft charcoal stick, so that he'd be able to find his way out as quickly as possible. When he'd found the room that glittered like the sun with jewels and gold, he'd rejoiced. The sword of war was dull and heavy in the room filled with lightness, but it drew the eye nonetheless, set as it was on a massive gold pedestal in the center of the chamber.
Autolycus hadn't counted on the small man, dressed head to toe in heavy gray fabric, to swing at him with a double-headed axe as soon as he entered the chamber. He'd ducked, this close to having his perfectly coiffed hair cut off by the gleaming blade, and kicked the priest in the stomach. He'd fallen like lead, and it was only then that Autolycus realized that this was too easy.
The heavy footsteps thundering in his direction backed up that theory. He didn't want to die, after all, he just wanted to provoke the god into some hot and heavy body contact.
So he'd turned tail and ran, grabbing as many jewels as he could from the impressive collection, but leaving the sword where it stood. He'd followed his charcoal marks out and considered himself a lucky coward. After all, he hadn't wanted the sword, and it hadn't seemed like he was about to be ravished by a god, but cut to bits instead by big, scarred guards. Anyone would run from that, really.
He'd gone to a tavern to drink himself happy again, and that's when the first assassin had come for him. He'd been a giant man of at least 50, who' d fallen to the ground like a piece of ancient timber from a simple knee to the family jewels. Again, too easy. It was like a strange experiment was being performed on him, the object to freak him out as much as possible by letting him win all the time.
He guessed that having an angry wargod wanting you dead was enough of a challenge, but really, it was getting pathetic. He felt the need to flee the Peloponnese altogether. It's not like he'd be missing much. The Peloponnesians had no sense of humor and weren't into pompous displays of wealth like the rest of Greece.
So he was trudging along the dusty road, a large brimmed traveler's hat covering his head, both to shield away the sun and to protect his identity. He didn't need to display his chiseled features freely to everyone he saw, after all. He'd intentionally taken a route that avoided as many people and cities as possible, which naturally made for a more harrowing terrain, but he hadn't remembered any rivers in his path. But there ahead of him was a huge river, full of gushing water, the kind of river you saw in Asia Minor, not in Greece. It seemed impossible, but it was there, right in front of his eyes.
And there, just a half a mile or so up the riverbank, stood a large wooden bridge, spanning the width of the river. It was almost monumental, with huge pillars that looked too wide to be from only one tree, but obviously were, and long, curved planks that looked like they should have snapped years ago. He'd never seen anything like it.
He almost turned around to avoid it. But Autolycus didn't run from danger. Unless that danger was bigger than him, coming towards him really fast and looked really angry. Actually, he ran from danger a lot, but that wasn't the point.
The walk to the bridge didn't take long. He cautiously stepped up onto the shiny wood and then took another step, then another, until he was at least a quarter of the way across. See, he had been silly; it was just a normal bridge, on a normal river. He looked behind him to check out the curve of the wood behind him, and shrieked like a girl.
There was no bridge. There was a river, and he was suspended above it - no, he was standing on wood, that part of the bridge was real enough - but the length he'd passed already was gone, fallen, presumably, into the rushing water. Or disappeared, zapped by a vengeful god who didn't take lightly to would-be thieves.
He turned around again, remembering the 'don't look down' rule, which always got him into trouble. He wasn't afraid of heights, of course, he was perfectly happy dangling off the sides of buildings and flying through the air. But that was way too much water to make him comfortable.
He gasped and started backwards a bit when he saw the big man standing right in front of him. Then he remembered that there was nothing to stand on behind him, and he forced himself to step forward instead of back.
A god. It had to be. There had been nobody in sight a minute ago. The figure was huge, and draped in a big black hooded cloak, the kind that thugs and priests and gods in disguise always seemed to wear. The only skin that Autolycus could see was on his huge, clenched fists, which could surely knock him out without even trying. "Who're you?" Auto asked aggressively, not wanting to express his girlish fear.
"This is my bridge, and you're trespassing," the booming, somewhat familiar voice proclaimed. "You have three options. Correctly answer a simple question, and I'll let you go. Get it wrong, you face the consequences. Number two, you can jump into that water there and see if you drown. And three, you can die."
He peered down into the dark, rushing water, and shuddered. He'd given up swimming ever since that little bout with the sinking ship. Those mermaid dreams were one thing; drowning was another. "What do you mean by 'simple'?" he asked, searching his mind for gods that asked questions on bridges, and not remembering any.
"Choose!" He stamped his booted foot on the remaining wooden floor of the bridge almost petulantly, and the structure trembled beneath him.
"Um, fine, the question." He shifted nervously, not daring to step back. The fact that he was mildly aroused by this exchange wasn't helping with his concentration. Why did he have to get a hard-on at times like this?
With the requisite pause that came before all important questions, the man asked, "how many thieves does it take to steal the sword of Ares?" The voice was halting, like he hadn't quite decided what he was going to ask beforehand.
"Shit," Autolycus muttered. This was another set-up, of course it was. It all came back to Ares' sword, didn't it? "Um, you wouldn't be like, a minion of Ares or something like that, would you? Cause, if so, remember that I didn't actually steal that sword. I left it there! All I took were a few measly gems. They weren't even cut very well. Glass, really. You want those back? That's fine."
Was this a riddle? Or was it something stupidly easy? He'd never been good at riddles. The answer had to be more than one, cause he, the King of Thieves, hadn't been able to do it. Though, he could have. But still, maybe there was a reason that he hadn't! Maybe it was preordained! Like, there was a prophecy that said only, say, two people could ever steal the sword, and he wasn't chickenshit after all. "Okay, um, I'll say... two?"
"Wrong, mortal!" The hood fell from the dark head in a gesture that should have been accompanied with a flash of lightning, revealing whom else but Ares. "The answer is none. As in zero. Nobody's stealing my sword ever again, least of all a wash-up like you."
Ares. It was Ares. Autolycus felt his pants tighten even more, and he bit his lip to stop from cursing. The god was standing there, looking smug and damn fuckable in that big robe, and insulting him meanwhile. Not thinking that such a statement might not be entirely appropriate at the moment, Auto muttered, "Well maybe you shouldn't have made it that easy, then."
Ares slithered forward. "Are those your last words?"
"No!" Autolycus gasped, every cell in his body wanting to back up a step, not caring that that would mean falling into water. "You can't kill me, Ares."
"And why not?"
He thought quickly. He was too young to die, he'd never found someone to love, he wasn't wearing clean underwear. "Cause you said I had three choices! One was die, and another was face the consequences! If the consequence is dying, then there are only two choices."
Ares grinned. "So? I'm not a real bridge god. If I want to kill you, then I can."
Autolycus frowned, then shimmied his hips in what he hoped was an alluring way. "But you don't really want to kill me, do you? There are plenty of other, more fun things you could do to me."
"And why would I want to do that?"
"Well, how many people do you kill in a day? Ten, twenty? But how many chances do you get to make sweet love to a ripe specimen like me? Come on! Even a god's got to have some fun."
Ares looked at him, and laughed. Laughed! At him! Autolycus crossed his arms over his chest and scowled as Ares bent over at his waist, lost in laughter. He straightened up seconds later, but only collapsed into more insulting chuckles.
No, this wasn't a story he'd be sharing with the guys. This was one he'd be keeping to himself for a while.
"Fine," Ares said after most of the laughter was subsided. He still sounded much too amused. "Great. Let's fuck. I'll decide whether to kill you or not afterward." He reached out to grasp at Autolycus' arm, and in seconds they were back on solid ground, by the bank of the river, with no bridge in sight.
Auto arched his back as Ares forced him down on the dusty bank. He closed his eyes in sudden dread as he felt his legs being pulled apart. He looked down at his body, and realized both he and Ares were naked. He couldn't decide whether this was a perk or a drawback.
Ares seemed to be going straight for it, wrapping Auto's legs around his hips. He was horrified when he heard himself sputter, "Hey! Wait!" Because nobody interrupted sex with Ares, did they?
"You have a problem, mortal?" Ares reached out and pumped Auto's cock lazily, smiling when his body quivered. He slid his hand away, and Autolycus bit his lip to stop from moaning.
He'd wanted this. He had. He did. He took a long breath. "No, um, no problem, it's just, a little abrupt, don't you think?"
Ares smiled a little, secret smile that Autolycus didn't have time to interpret, because then Ares was shoving his cock deep inside him with a smooth, constant pressure that only a god or a whore could master. He could hear himself making noise, a low, bass moan, but couldn't stop it. "Fuck," he muttered, pulling Ares' body closer.
"This is what you wanted, isn't it, thief?" Ares pulled out swiftly then plunged back into Autolycus. "You never wanted that sword. You wanted this. You wanted me to fuck you hard and fast. Well, you got your wish."
Autolycus couldn't reply. His eyes were squeezed shut and he was concentrating on the quick slide of Ares' huge cock inside him, pounding him into the dirt beneath him, dirt that was probably sticking to the sweat of his body and getting in his hair. He whimpered in need and reached for his own cock, starting to pump it unevenly, not able to pay attention to the task beyond the simple contact and friction.
"You know what, Autolycus?" How could he sound calm and mocking while fucking him this hard, this well? Oh yes, he was a god. Autolycus moaned out loud at that thought. He was being fucked by a god, the deadliest god of them all. "You're not a bad fuck, after all. Maybe I'll keep you."
When Ares pulled out of him, Autolycus wanted to cry, until he realized he was just being moved around. He let the god turn him over, position him onto his hands and knees, knees that didn't want to stay upright. Moments later Ares was fucking him again, holding him firmly by the hips and thrusting into him from behind with swift, fluid movements.
"You like it this way, don't you?" Ares murmured almost lovingly into his ear. "You like being my bitch, Autolycus?" The question was emphasized with a powerful thrust in just the right place, and Auto couldn't resist any longer. He came with a force before unknown to him, sobbing his completion into the air, all while Ares fucked him.
He felt Ares' laughter pulse against his shoulder. "I thought about fucking you all day and night, without stopping." Auto's arms collapsed on the next thrust, and he let his upper body go limp against the ground. "And I still will." He moaned helplessly into the dirt. "But I think I'll let you rest, in between." Autolycus felt Ares' body shudder behind him on the next thrust, and Ares let out a small sound of satisfaction before coming inside him, gripping his hips hard enough to bruise.
Ares breathed heavily for a moment, then pulled away from Autolycus, letting go of his hips and letting him fall to the ground with a muted thud. He lay down next to him, laughing quietly, probably at Autolycus' expense. He didn 't really care, though.
His lungs ached with the need for air, his body felt like it had been snapped into five different sections, and there was an electric tingle moving up and down through his body without warning. He was facedown on the ground, covered in sweat and sticky dirt, next to a god laughing at him.
He grinned into the dust, and throaty chuckles erupted from him like sobs. He'd known his plan would work.