"If this is the end of suffering, we can be content broken as we are by the brute heel of angry destiny." --Clytemnestra, from Aeschylus' Agamemnon
I bled the first time: dark, rusty stains on old linen. It's ironic, because I'm the violent one. But his cock's huge and tore me up even though he tried so hard to be gentle. He got upset, too, when I refused to be healed. The god of love is beautiful and sweet but doesn't like thinking about anything too complex, like why it has to hurt. Why I need the pain.
"I'd rather feel than think, Cupid," he insists, and that's fine with me. I'm not with Ares to discuss profound questions of origin and ending. And I have them: as god of war, I see the ulcerous side of humanity. It's my job to clean that dirty wound--hell, to climb right in it, pushing back the folds of rotten skin ‘til I'm smeared with stinking pus. So yeah, sometimes I ask questions. But when I crawl out, what I really need is someone to listen while I rant before he soothes me with his hands and tongue. Only it took awhile to realize that.
You probably think this sounds romantic. It's not. I treated him like shit, ignored him for years, knowing he'd take any gesture as ‘true love' and not the quick, hard fuck I swore was all I wanted. Instead, in the beginning at least, I left him to the mercy of others. And there were a lot of others, mostly unmerciful, starting when he was little more than a boy. He needed a protector. With that body and face, everyone went after him. Ares always complied, but he's had a thing for me since...I don't even know. Always, it seems. At least the last few decades. As a kid, he followed me around like a puppy, getting underfoot, driving me crazy. I'd send him back to Aphrodite, but he'd show up the next day. He never resented me for my anger or impatience. Everything I did was fine with him. Hero worship. So maybe I secretly liked it. To everyone else, I was the plague, a necessary evil. But not to Ares. He looked up to me, maybe because I was strong, because people didn't use me the way they used him. I don't know.
When he got older, I started to catch him watching me with a different look in his eyes, one hand on his thigh near his cock, lips parted a little. I knew what he wanted, but held back. Not because I didn't want to fuck him. I did. But I didn't do relationships, preferring hard, fast sex. I mean, I'm the god of war. There's not much room for relationships, and he wanted forever. I'd get these gifts. Not crappy ones where you're stuck with stuff the giver really wants, but thoughtful, personal ones: a two-headed spear with a shaft sixteen cubits long, made of cornel wood; a double-edged sword with a bronze blade and an ivory hilt ringed with gold; a heavy silver ring engraved with a snarling boar, my symbol. In addition to my other fuck-ups, once I put on the ring, it stayed. Talk about self-deluded. You should've heard the excuses I made to myself for that one. And to him, when those watchful dark eyes noticed it still on my finger a few weeks later.
"You like it?" he asked with barely-concealed eagerness. "The ring, I mean."
Deliberately, I raised my shoulders. The epitome of casual. Couldn't even give him the satisfaction of saying I liked his gift, like admitting it'd hurt me. "Not my thing, Ares. I only wear it to piss off Apollo."
"Apollo?" The word hovered between curiosity and defeat.
"Yeah, Apollo. I'm fucking him, Ares. He's got the sweetest ass and can suck cock like no one else. Jealousy only makes him hotter."
Even after that, Ares kept dropping by the halls of war, using all sorts of bullshit excuses. He never came out and asked me to fuck him. Just spread himself out on my throne, with one leg draped over the armrest. The position pulled the leather tight over his cock in implicit invitation. But I always turned him down. His frustration grew, and he became more and more obvious: stroking himself, pressing his cock against me whenever he could. Still, I ignored Ares, fucking everyone but him. I even arranged for him to catch me with others. Sent him a message so he'd show up and see how little he meant to me.
The first time that happened, I was standing at the foot of my bed, Hades busy between my legs. I sensed Ares the second before he appeared, and kept my eyes open for his reaction. It didn't go according to plan, though, with me smirking triumphantly because I'd proved he meant nothing. Like an idiot, I looked at his face and lost it, right into the mouth hungrily sucking. Ares never made the connection. Like I said, he's not a thinker. He only saw rejection, not knowing that I came to his wounded expression, my mind flashing to those full lips around my cock. Against my mouth.
After that, Ares tried to stay away, and I tried to avoid him. But of course that only meant we kept running into each other. Zeus called one of his useless family meetings, and when I showed up late, only one seat remained empty. Beside Ares, naturally. He stared straight ahead, ignoring me...For about a minute. Then, peripherally, I caught his dark head turning slightly, felt those big dark eyes on me.
My cock got hard at once, but I couldn't shift, couldn't move at all. That meant giving in, losing, and war gods don't lose well. So I sat motionless while Zeus droned on about unity, every inhalation bringing me this tart but sweet smell, like fallen apples. It startled me. It stirred memories from centuries ago, of warm summers in an orchard. Before Zeus came for me. Before I became war. My throat tightened, and I fought to breathe. "What the fuck is that smell?" I finally hissed in his ear, the smell even stronger up close.
He leaned close, hair brushing my cheek. "What smell, Cupid?"
No potions or perfumes. Just him. Figures. So I left.
Later that day, on a battlefield just outside Thrace, I killed a thousand men and made the air ripe with stinking blood, all to forget the smell of apples. When that failed, I gathered ten of my best warlords and fucked them together, until the temple floor turned slick and the air heavy with the salty, bitter smell of semen.
That night I dreamed of apples. And the next night. And the next. Things got a little confused, and the wall between waking and sleeping cracked a little. Any sign of weakness infuriated me, and more men died, more men came. Nothing helped. I couldn't give in, though. Especially not to him, a flowery, peace-loving idiot. If we became lovers, people'd talk. They'd toss around the word ‘love' and snicker behind their hands. Or worse: they'd whisper to Zeus how I'd gone soft, and he'd steal back my title.
I've never been Zeus' favorite. Not surprising: the guts of conquered gods hang from our genealogical tree. Memory taunted even him. According to one rumor, Zeus slept with a family heirloom under his pillow, a blood encrusted scythe, in case I succumbed to tradition's lure. Ruling Olympus held no appeal for me. Too much bureaucracy. I preferred the action and beauty of war: the tug of stretched muscle before a bronze-tipped spear split the sky, the glint of a gold shield on a smoky plain. So I wasn't a threat to Zeus. Hell, I wasn't the threat here at all.
A few days later, while the debauched spectacle of Anthesteria claimed the others' attention, Ares came to me. Like I said, introspection's not his thing, and he showed up not because of my dreams, but because of his. For a god of love, he was pretty oblivious about my intense reaction to him, which confused me at first. I even wondered if he faked the innocence as a calculated strategy to breach my defenses. Know what I mean? Guilt and war don't dance. I'd killed and buried all emotions that interfered with my job, and guilt died first. Too dangerous. Too tangled with other feelings that could snare my self-control. Yet, in a ceremony prompted by his own dreams, Ares resurrected it with his desperation.
He appeared at my temple in Delos. It's my favorite shrine, built ages ago when I first came to power, full of dark, jagged corridors with thick stone walls. The other gods stayed away, as usual, while timid worshippers left offerings at the altar, then scurried off, disconcerted by a floor made of polished bones, lined like planks of wood, and images of toothy demon maws painted on every wall. Even the red-robed priests avoided me, performing their duties silently as shadows, eyes averted, ever since I decapitated one for breaking the quiet with a dropped chalice. I liked it that way. Being alone comes with the territory.
That day, I'd lost one of my best generals. Great fighter, but impatient, like me. I knew he'd been thirsting for vengeance against the Tanagrans since the battle of Cronium, where an arrow pierced his right palm, but I didn't bother to check him, relying on his experience. A mistake: Arcides took the injury personally and led a small battalion of his men to slaughter. By the time I reached the field, the Tanagrans had nailed his flayed skin to an oak at the border of the contested land.
Sitting on a chair, hunched over, I heard the ether rip, and Ares stood before me. Before I could speak, he dropped on his knees and begged to suck my cock.
"I don't want anything else. Just let me do this for you. No strings. Nothing. I just want to suck you. Please."
I shouldn't have let him, not with my arsenal of excuses. Plenty of hot mouths around to lick away my melancholy. No need for Ares do it. But I just nodded and spread my legs, assuring myself that it meant nothing, that I needed the relief. If he wanted to give it to me, fine.
The look on his face when I agreed...It was like he'd been waiting his whole life for this. Pure happiness. I almost said no then, but his fingers were already between my legs, freeing my cock. With him this close, I smelled summer again, and nearly took my hand from his head. When he took me in his mouth, sucking gently ‘til I grew there, hard and strong, it felt too good. Like I'd been waiting as long as he had. I got uncomfortable and a little mean, worried he'd know how much I wanted this. My fingers tightened in his hair, and I rammed my cock down his throat with painful force. Ares was supposed to pull away, hurt and angry, but didn't--just gagged a little, then let me fuck his beautiful mouth.
Knowing he swallowed the pain because he loved me made it worse. "I'm only letting you do this because there's no one better around," I told him. "You're just a fucking hole to shove my cock into. Just a little better than jerking off. But not much. I don't give a shit about you, Ares. I never have." The whole time I was rocking into his mouth, nearly delirious from the pleasure of his tongue and the soft curls brushing my balls. But he couldn't know that, couldn't know it wasn't just his practiced mouth or my own harsh strokes hurtling me to orgasm. It was him.
I hated him for it, even when I came, clutching the armrests, biting back his name while my body shook and he drank my cum like it was nectar. I hated, too, the missing strength that should've let me pull out at the last second and come on his face. Afterward, barely able to move, I leaned back, watching him expertly squeeze the base of my cock to encourage the last few drops. He stayed kneeling even after they'd melted on his tongue, as though scared to move. That fear staked my failings between us, which had me scrambling for denial. "Get out. Now. And don't fucking come back."
"I'm sorry," he said, getting slowly to his feet, eyes still downcast.
Furious at his lack of pride, I jumped up, shoving him so hard he smashed into the temple wall, leaving a long crack in the bright fresco. "Why won't you leave me alone?"
"I'm sorry," he repeated, and disappeared.
It should've ended there, this apparent confirmation of my disdain sending Ares into the arms of some uncomplicated mortal. Actually, I thought it had, since he vanished from Olympus. I couldn't stand the idea. And for all my insight, it never even occured to me he was hiding, alone, like me. On the battlefield, ordering the chaos, I'd picture him with someone else, that mouth moving over a hard cock. Or worse: a stranger's mouth on him. More men died, each stamped with the face of Ares' new lover. And the rationale for my obsession: I hadn't fucked him. Once I'd been inside Ares, then it would end. I'd made a mistake turning him down. That refusal'd had the opposite effect, intensifying my feelings, not eliminating them. Hardly a shock. I didn't usually deny myself, and so let things build up. It was a question of release.
I broke into his room one night after a day mired in blood. When Ares saw me, he let out this soft, startled gasp as he sat up in bed. I scared the shit out of him. It's the black wings, and I'm not above extending them for the full effect. No exception this time. I wanted him scared. It was easier that way: no misunderstanding on his part.
"Cupid," he said, in that low whispery voice. "What're you doing here?"
He was naked and so beautiful that a shard of reality cut me.
Unprepared, always furious, I lost it, pushing him back and shoving my cock into his mouth, not bothering to unclothe. "I hate you, Ares," I said, pinning him with bruising strength to the mattress. His hands came up, but he didn't fight me, only stroked the backs of my thighs. The gesture read like tenderness, which made no sense, and my panic came back. "This means nothing." One more time to convince myself. He stared up at me, and in the half-light his eyes shimmered. "Don't cry, you weak bastard." I slapped him once, hard, then pulled out to tear open his legs and force myself inside him.
Every thrust was designed to hurt, to cut off our connection once and for all. When he wrapped his legs around my waist, his arms around my neck, I closed my eyes. "You idiot, don't you know you're supposed to hate me?"
Ares shook his head, holding me tight.
I gave up, and kissed him. There was no fight, no pause, no questions--just his warm tongue against mine.
So you see why I had to bleed the first time, why it had to hurt? I had to give up something, the way he'd given up everything for me.
Like I said, this is no romance. I'm still a bastard, and I still hurt him. But fewer men die, and Ares smiles a lot now. And sometimes, when a festival distracts the others, we find an orchard and I fuck him under an apple tree.