The Sting of War, by ToridonAnd I thought this promotion was a great idea, I mused ruefully as I tried  to make sense of the messy stack of paperwork that had been deposited on my  desk by the soft-voiced temple priestess.  Mom had gone on at great length  about how marriage and fatherhood had settled me down and that I was now  ready to hold the reins of power as her "second-in-command," and I had felt  proud that she had that kind of confidence in my abilities.  Six weeks ago,  she had led me into the spacious suite adjoining her own chambers in the  Temple of Love, announcing triumphantly, "This is your office, Cupie," and  I had settled myself down behind the immensity of the gleaming mahogany desk.

I had quickly discovered the reality of my new position -- I unsnarled her  figures, dealt with personnel conflicts, and listened patiently to all  kinds of bitching.  In short, everything that Mom didn't want to deal with  was MY responsibility.

I was trying to figure out what the scribbled "GRODY!" in the margin of the  balance sheet referred to when I heard the thunderous crack of the front  door of the temple crash against the facing wall.

"CUPID!  Show yourself!"

I considered diving under the desk until he left.

"And I mean NOW!"

I heard something shatter against the tiled floor, and crawling under the  desk started to look more and more like a good idea.  But I reminded myself  that I was the god of love, and since this was the Temple of Love, he was  on my turf.  I was in charge here, right?

Right.  I took a deep breath, turned the brass doorknob, and stepped out  into the sunlit atrium.

It was a mess.  Several of the statuary podiums were laying on their sides  in the main hall and shards of marble and porcelain littered the floor, and  two of the pink-and-white stained glass windows had ugly cracks.  One very  angry war god stood quivering, his fists tightly clenched, in the middle of  the wreckage.

I stooped down and picked up a jagged piece of opalescent rose-colored  marble, recognizing the nose and partial cheek in my hand.  I took a deep  breath and shook my head slowly.  "You'll be in deep shit when Mom sees  this, Ares.  This bust is her favorite."

He snorted crudely.  "Spoken like a true mama's boy, cherub."

Cherub.  Boy.  Worse yet, Son.  I was used to his condescension, but it was  still galling.  I quelled the anger I felt licking at me and pasted a  nonchalant expression on my face.  "Whatever.  But it was a gift from  Granddad, and she'll scream the house down when she finds out."  I smiled  at him.  "When she starts shrieking like a banshee, I'll point her in your  direction, okay?"

He rolled his eyes in disgust as he flicked his fingers carelessly.  I saw  the repaired bust thump softly on top of the now upright podium.  "Happy?"  he asked nastily.

"Very.  It's been nice talking to you, Ares."  I began to move away from  him, hoping to escape into the safety of my office.

I almost made it.

A heavy hand grabbed my upper arm forcefully.  "Not so fast, boy."

I slowly turned to face him.  I should have known it wouldn't be that easy.


"You and I have a small matter to discuss."  His eyes glinted ferally and  his fingers tightened on my arm.

Bravado seemed a good choice.  "Oh?  And what might that be?"

"Your little stunt with the love dust, Cupid."

I felt a sinking sensation inside me.  Damn.  I had used only a small pinch  of the dust, enough to make it impossible for his raging libido to resist  Mom's considerable assets, but not enough to put him in a lover's grinning  stupor.  Given the depth of his lust under normal circumstances, I didn't  think he would question it, and I'd be safe.  But he had figured it out.

Or was he talking about something else?  Maybe I'd get lucky and it would  be the latter.

"What are you talking about?" I asked cautiously.

His face hardened into stone.  "Love dust.  Me.  Your mother.  Heph's chain  mail net.  Olympus laughing.  Zeus."  Each phrase that he spat out was  accompanied by a shove.  "Punishment.  Peace treaty between Athens and  Macedon."  The last hard blow knocked me to the floor.  "Any of this ring a  bell?"

"Yeah."  I got to my feet, afraid to take my eyes off him.  "Vaguely."

"Vaguely?"  His eyes bored into me.  "You make me a laughingstock on  Olympus, and you 'vaguely' remember it?"

I felt my mouth start to curve in a goofy smile and I struggled to turn it  into a sneer.  "Yeah, well, I've had a lot going on, you know.  Doing my  work, and Mom's -- she took to her bed a week ago and hasn't come out since --"

"And whose fault is THAT, Cupid?"

I ignored him.  "And then going home to a wife whose face falls when it's  not a certain god of war who comes through the door just puts the fucking  icing on the cake."  I realized I was shouting and took a deep  breath.  "So, yeah, I've been busy.  Sue me if I don't remember every  little, unimportant, bullshit thing that happens around here."

"Let me get this straight," he said tightly.  "This is because I bumped  bellies with your wife?"

The mental image conjured by his words, of my beautiful Psyche digging her  fingernails into his buttocks as he plowed into her again and again, crying  out his name in a husky scream that made my heart hurt and my brain throb,  flooded my mouth with greasy metal, and I swallowed through a painfully  tight throat.

"Is that what you're telling me?"

"I wouldn't expect you to understand how I could consider my marriage worth  more than your stupid war, Ares."  I saw her on her knees, her sweet tongue  moving wetly, lovingly, over the leaking cockhead, the pungent taste  bringing small moans of pleasure from her slim throat.  "Your tiny mind can  only grasp so much, after all."

"Spare me your whining and answer my question, you little cocksucker!  You  expose me -- and your own mother, I might add -- to public humiliation, and  fuck up a battle plan that took me months of finessing to set up, because  your ego can't handle bedroom competition for some whiny little bitch?"  He  took a heavy step toward me, his eyes narrowed.  "Is that the bullshit  you're shoveling at me?"

"Like I said.  You can't possibly understand."  How could I explain my love  for my wife to someone who had never felt love for anyone?  Not even his  own son, I thought with a dull bitterness.  I turned away from him,  futility a dusty taste in my mouth.

"Cupid."  He spoke softly, but the fury in his voice made the skin on my  balls start to crawl.  I kept walking.


I stopped but didn't turn around.  "What now, Ares?"

"Say something -- anything -- to convince me not to tear you apart."

I faced him, my bully of a father, and told myself not to swirl the red  cape in front of his florid face.  It would accomplish nothing.  His flared  nostrils and heavy breathing said my efforts would be best spent trying to  pacify him with a sincere (or sincere-sounding) apology.  Massive arms  ending in huge clenched fists told me that any other course of action  didn't have a snowball's chance in Prometheus' temple of succeeding.  Pride  be damned!  I'd be smart for once.

My mouth decided otherwise.

"I'd say . it was a good day's work."

My head snapped back and bounced off the wall when his fist connected with  the underside of my chin, and I cracked the base of my skull against the  edge of the stone altar on the way to the floor.  He came at me again,  growling, and I bit my lip to keep from screaming when he hauled me up off  the floor by one wing and threw me against the wall.

It was the last thing I remembered.

* * *

Coming back to consciousness was like swimming endlessly up through an  ocean of honey mead.  My mouth was very dry, and damp hair hung in my  eyes.  Pain crested across the back of my neck as I slowly turned my head  to the side.  I closed my eyes tighter against the agony that moved swiftly  from my neck to the thick wing seams on my back.

"Morning, sunshine.  Sleep well?"

I opened my eyes.  When the room stopped spinning, I raised myself  carefully by bracing my arm against the floor.  I concentrated on not  whimpering when the weight of the wings pulled against the tender,  undoubtedly bruised place where they joined my back.

"Now, cherub, shall we try this again?"

I exhaled slowly and tried to focus on the Ares in the middle, since I  figured he was the real one of the three I was seeing.  I chose my words  carefully.

"Fuck you, Ares."

"Wrong answer, sport."  He stood up gracefully from the satin-covered love  seat and advanced toward me, the cat-o'-nine-tails whispering against his  leather-covered thigh.

* * *

I zoned out almost immediately, the way I always did during these sessions  of "discipline."  How many times had he found it necessary to do this? I  wondered numbly as the tiny spikes studding the leather tassels tore into  my back and tears coursed down my face.  I had lost count a long time ago.

I used to tell myself that he did this to make me stronger, that the  beatings were for my own good, and that it hurt him worse than it did  me.  I used to scream for Mom, or Zeus, or even Hera for help -- to save me  from my father's "love" -- but rescue never came.  I even told myself that  I must deserve it -- that even if I didn't know why, he was older and wiser  than me, and he knew best.

Time had robbed me of the ability to lie to myself, and the loss of that  ability paradoxically took with it the driving compulsion to try to grab  the whip, or board, or whatever implement was being laid across my flesh.

Adulthood brought the bleak knowledge that had always lurked beneath my  determined rationalizations:  that he beat me because he could.  He did it  because it felt good.

I sprawled on the floor and I took what he gave, and I always hated myself  for it later.

I felt the fist that did not hold the whip clutch and twist a handful of  feathers, snapping the spines like so many toothpicks, and I screamed, a  high, thin wail that make my insides curl with shame.  The cat whistled  through the air, a steady sound always, agonizingly, inexorably followed by  the sharp fire that sizzled and opened new flesh.  Sadistic, he  concentrated on the area on my back, those oh-so-tender muscles that  anchored the ponderous ailerons below my shoulders, straddling me to get a  better angle of assault, and I swallowed the bile that rose in my throat at  the coppery smell of the wetness that ran down across my ribs and  splattered redly on the tile.

Powerful fingers dug into my throat as he hauled me off the floor and into  a kneeling position and pulled me against the rock wall of his body.

"You little bastard," he whispered huskily, his hand groping roughly  between my legs.

Always, it ended with this.

I gritted my teeth as he shoved himself inside me, hard and huge and  unoiled, cruel fingers twisting my nipples and teeth tearing at my neck and  back, and the cold tile chafing skin from my nose and forehead.

It was always like this, the pounding against and into me, faster and  harder, my skin rubbed raw against the floor or the ground or the uneven  bark of a tree.  That pattern was set when I was ten years old.  I hated  it, but it didn't really touch me.  Not inside, not in my heart.  Not where  it mattered.

Because I felt no pleasure.  My small victory over him:  he could force the  pain on me, but he couldn't make me enjoy it.

I realized he had stopped moving, but I knew from the thick hardness still  stretching me that it wasn't over.  Realization throbbed dully when I felt  the slickness around his cock and smelled almonds.

No.  Please.  Not that.  Let him just finish and get it over with.

Please, gods, not that!

And he began to move again, more gently, movement made smooth by the almond  oil, and his fingers sensuously teased my reddened nipples.  I closed my  eyes and steeled myself against surrender to the full lips that kissed my  shoulders and the sides of my neck and the sharp teeth that closed  carefully and expertly on the lobe of my ear.  I tried to tune out the warm  hand that slid underneath me and closed around my cock, the fingers sliding  firmly up and down the hardening shaft and the thumb rubbing slowly back  and forth over the sensitive tip.  But I lost the battle as his cock hit  with perfect aim the place that sent a bolt of pleasure through my body,  and kept hitting it on every inward stroke.

When I came, dousing his hand with my seed, he chuckled huskily behind me  and filled me with his cum, and I groaned at the betrayal, again, of my own  body.

I felt him slide out of me and stand, the sudden sound of bootheels telling  me that he was again dressed.  I kept my eyes closed.

"Glad we could work this out, son."  His voice vibrated with malicious  humor.  "Until next time."  Measured steps moved a distance away from me,  and then stopped.


Sick to my stomach, I forced myself to open my eyes and look at him.

"You might want to do some thinking about who exactly you were jealous  of.  Me . or Psyche."

His laughter echoed as he vanished.

Moisture crept down my face, but I felt nothing.

The End