Gods at Play

by VC Noble

XXVI ~ XXVII ~ XXVIII ~ Conclusion

XXVI

"You got what you wanted," Cupid said a few days later.

"I know," Persephone said. "But why do I feel so guilty?"

"Because your husband is VERY miserable when he could have been very happy."

The goddess sighed, plopping herself down on one of Cupid's loveseats. "You're right. But after what you've told me, why should I feel guilty? She was destined to fall in love with that mortal, with or without your arrow."

"I prefer to believe that my arrow allowed her to articulate her feelings," Cupid said thoughtfully.

Persephone rolled her eyes. "Yeah, whatever you say."

"Come on, Perse, let it go. Hades is just destined to be the gloom doom god. It's an image he's perfected. If he didn't have this to be miserable over, he would have found something else. Personally, I'm very glad for Kiari. She deserves a little happiness with a nice guy. I mean, Ares probably has his moments, otherwise he wouldn't have a temple full of priestesses. But a god can only do so much to please thirty or more ladies, know what I mean?" He grinned.

"Sometimes," she managed to smile back. "I'm glad for her too. But why a man who looks exactly like Hades?"

"The Fates have a wicked sense of humor," Cupid suggested.

"Don't they?" Ares appeared.

"I'm surprised you didn't tell her," Persephone frowned.

"Why ruin a good thing? Although it probably won't matter too much now. She is quite attached to him already. You'd think they knew each other before this."

"They did," Cupid quipped. "Or so my wife believes. Something about a former life."

Ares shrugged. "Whatever it is, I'm pleased."

"You would be," Persephone said.

"Oh, but did you tell Hades?" Ares didn't wait for her answer. "No, I didn't think so. He's probably in the underworld moping over you and over her. And it still kills you, doesn't it?"

"You are so infuriating!" Persephone grouched.

"I've been called worse," Ares smirked.

With an angry gesture, Persephone disappeared.

"That little springtime goddess has got some spunk," Ares said admiringly.

"She can be a spitfire," Cupid agreed. "So what's up Ares? You okay with all of this stuff involving Kiari and Brett?"

"As I said, I'm pleased. High time she falls for a man worthy of serving the god of war. Having him look like Hades is just icing on the cake."

"You are so bad, Ares."

"To the bone," the god of war laughed, disappearing.

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XXVII

Kiari's fellow priestesses knew almost immediately the change in the weaver's heart. Who could miss the looks she and the warrior exchanged when they thought no one was looking? Brett's easy manner and ready smile so contrasted the underworld lord that most ceased to make that comparison. Quite simply, he was just Brett. Gorgeous, damn-he's-already-taken Brett. And Kiari had so much laughter in her eyes, no could resist smiling when she happened by.

Ped strolled into the weaving room one afternoon, surprised to find Kiari alone.

"So where is he?"

"Out on the practice field with Heraclid," Kiari answered, looking up from her work.

"We've all decided that we like Brett very much," Ped said with a flourish, taking a seat near the window.

"Isn't that nice. And who, pray tell, are 'we?'" Kiari asked, her fingers working.

"Me and the other priestesses, silly. You have our blessing."

Kiari raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know I needed it."

"You don't, but we've given it nonetheless. There are a few who bemoan the fact that you found him first, of course. But that just frees up your reserves, eh?"

"Ped, what in the world are you talking about?"

"You're in LOVE," Ped laughed. "That means Autolycus and Rafe and whoever else you've batted those big browns eyes at are taking a loss. I think I feel most sorry for Hades."

"I feel bad for him as well," Kiari sighed. "But really, what did he expect? That I would be his mistress forever? I finally have a boyfriend. Hades should be happy for me, but no, he's sulking. Gods, I swear!"

"Come on, Brett is not just your boyfriend," Ped said. "He's like the true love of your life. He has to be something special to finally steal you away from Hades."

That dreamy look softened Kiari's face. "Brett is very special. I never thought I'd feel like this for anyone."

"What, did you think you would moon over Hades forever? I don't think so!"

Kiari chuckled.

"Well, Ares has been very understanding, from what I've heard," Ped mentioned. She exchanged a glance with Kiari.

"Makes you wonder, doesn't it?" The weaver said, stopping her work. "Ares, god of war, Mr. Possessive with all his priestesses. Maybe he just doesn't like me as much as all of you."

Ped rolled her eyes. "Not."

Kiari laughed. "I am glad my sister priestesses approve of Brett though. Really, I am."

"You should be," Ped grinned. "Our approval is quite hard to come by."

Kiari shook her head at her sibling, then softly said, "Thank you, Ped. That trip to the first realm really opened my eyes."

"Hey," Ped said. "That's what I'm here for. Well, not all that I'm here for, but--"

"I know what you mean," Kiari reassured her. "Now, if I can ever do the same for you."

Ped winked. "I'll keep that in mind..."

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XXVIII

Life settled into a routine for Kiari and Brett. Their days were spent training together on the practice field. Some days Kiari worked at her loom or at Cupid's temple answering the petitions, leaving Brett in the capable hands of the resident warlords. At night, as Brett slept, she spent time in the underworld helping Hades, who was cool and professional, never alluding to her life aboveworld.

Kiari appeared in Ares' temple during the sunrise after one nightly visit to the underworld. She immediately reverted to her priestess form and approached the god of war.

"Still smoothing Hades' temper?" Ares asked.

"As best as I can," she answered with a sigh. "He is grudgingly accepting the fact that I am not going to be his Lady Consort."

"Not that he had a choice," Ares commented.

Kiari put her hands on her hips. "You know what really irks me?"

"Besides your crazy hours?" He smiled at her. "I think I know, but go on and tell me."

"You are enjoying all of this! You actually relish Hades' misery. And you approve of my relationship with Brett."

"Of course I approve," Ares chuckled. "Brett is a loyal warrior dedicated to me. You are my priestess. A relationship between the two of you is most ideal. As for Hades, well, his misery is an added bonus."

"You are really bad," Kiari said wryly. "So, it's just a simple priestess and warrior relationship to you? We're easy to control?"

"Oh, all right. The fact that he makes you happy pleases me as well," he admitted gruffly. "And he's certainly an improvement over that thief. I could not have chosen a better man for you, my priestess weaver. I do not mind sharing you with him."

"How good of you," she quipped. "But who says you're sharing me? Maybe I'll keep myself for him."

He raised an eyebrow. "I doubt he could satisfy all your needs. He is mortal after all."

"Well, that makes me sound like a tart," she pouted.

He grinned, resting his hands on her shoulders. "I meant to imply that you are a very passionate lady. He would have a hard time keeping up with you. Perhaps it was all those years as a repressed virgin goddess?"

She let out a delighted laugh, a sparkle in her dark eyes. "He does make me happy, Ares. In many ways," she winked.

"Tart," he teased, liking the sound of her laughter.

She gave him a kiss on the lips. "You know that I love you," she said softly, her face suddenly serious.

He did, but hearing her say so gave his ego quite a boost. And it made him feel very fortunate and almost humble. "I don't think I've ever heard those words from you, Vasia-Kiari."

She grinned. "It'll probably be a millennium before you hear them from me again."

He smirked. "Maybe not." He held her wrists at her sides and proceeded to give her one of his toe-curling, heart-stopping, breath stealing, world disappearing kisses. He kept it up until he felt her body melt against his.

She let out a long, satisfied sigh as he pulled away for a breath. "Oh yes, I do love you."

"And I love you," he whispered against her lips. He rubbed noses with her and held her in his arms, closing his eyes as he savored her warmth.

-My, I never thought you'd say that aloud to me,- she marveled, resting her head against his chest.

-Well, I figure I should say it at least once in a lifetime to my priestesses. I might slip again and say it to you in oh, let's say two millennia perhaps.-

-Just you saying it once is enough for me,- Kiari said. -Don't want you to get all mushy on me.-

Ares burst out in laughter, pulling her back and shaking his head. She grinned up at him and tweaked his nose.

"I'm off to wake my warrior," she said. "And you know, these hours are getting a bit out of hand."

"Why not take the day off?" Ares suggested. "You two have been working hard for the past week. I will allow you one day for yourselves."

She gave an exaggerated bow. "One whole entire day off? Well, thank you, my Lord Ares."

He swatted her behind, his response for her impertinence. "Go on then, Kiari."

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Conclusion

Kiari opened the door to Brett's room as quietly as possible. She crept to his bedside, smiling at the expression on his face. The sheet covered his lower region, but she knew that he didn't wear anything to bed. A thought came to her and she quickly undressed and slipped in beside him. His arm immediately came over her and he snuggled closer to her. Then she heard his breathing change.

Brett popped one eye open, then the other, a twinkle in his eyes. "Well, good morning."

"Good morning," she smiled at him, propping herself up on her elbow. "Ares gave us the day off."

He raised an eyebrow, sitting up. "And that means?"

"That means we can do whatever we want today," she said sweetly.

"And what would you like to do?" He asked with a slow smile, resting against the headboard.

She sat up. "Mmm, let's see, how about this." She started kissing him behind the ear, then slowly down his neck, her mouth warm against his skin.

"I think I can live with that," he sighed, bringing their lips together in a long, sweet kiss. His hands slid down her neck, then to her breasts, caressing them. His lips followed, his tongue teasing, his mouth sucking.

Her own hands were not idle. She felt him shiver as her hands roamed the muscled flesh of his stomach, then lower. He was already hot and hard when she began stroking him.

"You are so glad to see me," she teased, arching a little as his mouth switched to the other breast.

For a long, long time, they kissed, carressed, teased, and stroked until the heat between their bodies could not be denied. When they were both more than ready, she positioned her body over his and guided him in, inch by exquisite inch, until he seemed to fill her very soul. She gazed into his eyes, watching desire darken them to a deep gold. "Shall I begin the ride? Or would you like to take over?" She purred, her lips a mere fraction from his.

"Go for it," he said in a husky whisper.

She did as he bid, torturing the both of them with her very slow and measured strokes. Her breasts grazed his chest as her mouth covered his hungrily. Finally, when he couldn't take it anymore, he broke their kiss and gently eased her down on the bed. He thrust deep into her, feeling the shudder of her body as his own release came. They both moaned, their mouths finding each other once more as glorious pleasure washed over them.

Sometime later, Brett cradled her in his arms, his fingers lightly stroking down her back. His breathing was finally calming. "I could really wake up like that every day."

"I can arrange that," Kiari murmured, kissing his chest.

"I could also go to bed to that every night," he mused.

"I can arrange that too," she grinned, resting her chin on his chest to look into his eyes.

He pinched her nose playfully. "Are you insatiable?"

"When it comes to you, my darling warrior, I would have to say yes," she said in all seriousness.

"Hmm." He pulled her up so that they were face to face. "But with all that lovemaking," he said shyly, "aren't there consequences?"

"Only if we want there to be," she answered softly.

He thought of her swelling with his child. He was surprised by the fierce possessiveness that came over him. He wanted it. But did she?

As if in answer, she kissed him. -Nothing could make me happier,- she said to him.

The intimacy of her mind warmed him. He didn't even question it. -We would have to do it right,- he asserted.

-Darling, I've already claimed you. Anything else would be a formality.-

-I'm old fashioned.-

-Not very,- she teased. -Otherwise I wouldn't be in bed with you.-

He grinned, then a thought sobered him. "Would Ares approve?"

"I'm sure I could convince him," she said. "But you have to know, you share me with him. Not very often, but..."

He couldn't very well deny his patron god of his priestess, but the thought rankled him a bit. And there was the underworld god to consider. "Just him though, right?"

She knew he was thinking of Hades. She touched his cheek. "Yes, my love. Just Ares. It's actually been a long time since he and I--"

He stopped her. "I have you because of him. If he sees fit to call on you, I won't interfere. Just don't tell me the details."

She chuckled. "You are too perfect, my darling warrior."

"No, you are the perfect one. The lady of my heart..."

~THE END? ~

04.05.98 VCN


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