The creature came to a halt, dust drifting around his scaled feet.
“Turn around, you dog!” The God of War felt the earth shake as the giant spun on his heels. Sweat beaded under Ares’ helm, stinging his eyes. The sun beat down on his red cloak, stifling him.
“Who dares to call the last son of Ouranos a dog?!” The giant’s bellowing shook the very air.
Pompous idiot, Ares thought. The Gigantes were certainly not the last sons of Ouranos; that infamous honor belonged to the Titans, defeated by his father aeons ago. These beastly creatures wriggled out of the earth long after Cronus spilt his father’s blood upon it. Abominations, the lot of them. They had plagued his family and their worshippers, but Gigantes could be killed. The war against them had raged for seven years from Olympus itself to Thrace and Phlegra, and Ares had chased the last of their kind across the burning hot mountains and valleys of Asia. Today he would end them, but the God of War was not so foolish as to underestimate his opponent. He clenched his teeth, spear in hand, on the balls of his feet. He stayed silent. He waited.
Mimas paced around him and leaned down, face to face with Ares. “You must be hard of hearing, speck,” Spittle landed on his armor. “Who challenges the last true scion of the Heavens?!”
“The son of Almighty Zeus!” The warrior lifted his helm and the giant uprighted. Sunlight hit Ares, temporarily blinding him. The giant had positioned himself facing east. Clever.
Mimas laughed. “Go home little god, I know who you are. You’re the coward!” He raised his club again. “And like the rest you’re easily defeated.”
A shadow rose, blocking the sun, and Ares realized that it was the creature’s great club, whittled from a whole oak tree, ripped from the earth. He leapt out of the way and the bared roots crashed to the earth next to him, spraying another cloud of hot dust, blinding him further. Those were his father’s trees. Ares got his bearings and planted his feet into the earth, his spear ready at his side.
“Easily?!” Ares snorted. “You are the only one remaining! Have you not heard? We destroyed the rest of your kin.”
Mimas’ eyes narrowed for only a moment. He smirked. “You think I care that those weaklings are dead? I survived, I remain, I would have killed them myself once we were finished with you. You Olympians did me a favor. And everyone knows you are a coward, Ares! Now do what you do best. Run and hide!” The club swung over his head, blocking out the sun again.
The God of War tore off his cloak and helm and rolled left, leaving his shield behind. The club shook the earth and covered him in dust and grit. He could taste it on his teeth, feel it cake his arms and legs. He picked up his sword and spear, running under the cover of dust. Mimas waited for it to clear, revealing a red mass of cloth, and the red crest of Ares’ helm. He rifled through the discarded pieces to see if the god hid underneath.
Mimas guffawed. “Already run back to your whore mother, did you? Just like all the other bastards spawned by your Almighty Zeus.”
“I think not,” Ares growled from behind the hulking Giant.
Mimas turned toward the sound of Ares’ voice too late. His spear sailed through the air and into the back of the giant’s knee, the tip burrowing through flesh and bone until it poked out the other side. Mimas howled, dropping his club. His hand reached back to pull out the projectile, but his arm went limp, the tendons in his elbow cut with the swing of a sword. His ankle gave out, sliced through as methodically as his arm. Mimas cursed. Ares leapt and plunged his blade into the giant’s thigh. He climbed, then lodged his sword between Mimas’ ribs and scampered up his back. The monster swatting fruitlessly as he collapsed to one knee. Ares felt his heart clench as Mimas’ scaled fingers slapped haphazardly next to his head, threatening to crush him. He froze.
I am Deathless… none can harm me… I am Deathless… none can harm me… he chanted to himself, trying to keep his heart from racing, trying to keep that loathsome weakness from creeping up his throat. He concentrated and pulled through the fear, just as Enyo had taught him. Ares plunged his sword into the creature’s shoulder blade. Mimas screamed. The God of War climbed high enough to reach his neck.
“And I’m no bastard.” Ares growled into his ear. He sliced the vein just under it, and was coated with a spurt of blood, hot and thick on his skin, mixing with the dust and sand of the earth, anointing him triumphant. Mimas staggered and fell and Ares fell with him, his sword raised overhead, his face contorted by a wild-eyed cry of bloodlust and pure joy. Never turn your back unless you know they're dead, the voice of Enyo echoed in his mind. An injured animal is the most dangerous kind. The giant landed on his side, seizing and thrashing as his lifeblood drained onto the sand. Kill them a second time if you must.
Ares plunged his sword into Mimas’ windpipe, anchoring his feet as the dying giant flopped onto his back. “My mother is Hera the Queen of Heaven! I am the true heir to Olympus and any who oppose my father shall perish!” He hacked at the creature’s throat, determined to take his head off. A gift for Father Zeus to show him that he alone had defeated the last of their retreating enemies— that he was worthy. Mimas lay still. You fought nobly, he thought, hacking into his neck. But you're dead all the same.
He caught sight of the giant’s lifeless eyes and stopped. What did those orbs see? What horrific vision fixed the gaze of any man or creature once Thanatos had reaped its soul? Ares swallowed and backed away. Perhaps a head was too much work. He would have to lug the heavy thing behind him. He wagered that Mimas’ fanged jawbone weighed more than he did. Ares hopped off the giant’s carcass and sauntered to the side of his head, then sliced at the base of the creature’s ear, sawing back and forth.
Dishonorable butcher, he could hear Athena castigating him, even though she was two hundred leagues away, safe in her own little town by the sea. He shook his head. Strategy and diplomacy hadn't ended the Gigantes— bloodshed had. Useless, judgmental Athena. Another bastard. The bastard that bares your father’s aegis, his own voice reminded him. He clenched his teeth and continued carving until the ear came loose— a piece of Mimas the size of Ares’ shield. He wiped his face clean on the edge of his cloak, then fastened the cloth to his bronze cuirass.
Ares heaved the ear onto his shield and dragged it through the rocky desert, leaving Mimas and his vacant eyes far behind him. He sighed, frustrated. Could he even bring something like this with him through the ether and back to Olympus?
The air was hot. The land itself taunted him, wavering in mirage, mimicking cool water. A woman giggled.
Ares up righted and whipped around, spear held at the ready, circling, searching for the sound of the voice. A glint of gold lit the mirage of hot earth, wavering. She was about a hundred paces away, he wagered, though in the heat it was hard to tell. Her hair was black— or was it reddish?— and her skin shone in the sun. Her hair was laced with gold, and a diadem with golden horns was perched on her forehead. She looked foreign— from the far eastern lands.
“What in Tartarus…” He walked toward her but could get no closer.
Her perfect pearly teeth glistened when she smiled at him. The woman swirled her skirts of gold about her.
“Hey!” He let go of Mimas’ ear and jogged in her direction, trying to catch up with her, but the faster he went the further she faded. “Wait!”
The woman in gold vanished and Ares stopped in his tracks, bewildered.
“Do you know who I am?! Show yourself to me!”
He felt a cooling sea breeze strike his skin, making it prickle. Of course I do, a woman’s voice whispered.
“Are you one of them?” Ares hated the lump in his throat, hated hearing his voice catch when he asked it.
I am older than the Gigantes.
Ares felt his blood freeze. If she wasn’t of his kind or one of the Gigantes, then what was she? Older than the Gigantes. Gods above, he thought, she might be a Titan… an enemy that would make the Gigantomachy look like a practice skirmish. His heart pounded and he held his breath. The cooling breeze whipped across his skin again, caressing him.
Worry not, my Ares, her voice said on the wind. I will see you soon.
The breeze vanished and he felt the hot sun on his shoulders. Ares shook his head. It was too hot outside. He’d tracked Mimas too long. When was the last time he’d tasted ambrosia or nectar? He tried not to think about how madness ran in his family or the tales about how it has consumed his grandfather… driven him to eat his young… to swallow his mother… Ares trudged back to the severed ear, flies already starting to collect on congealed blood. His stomach turned.
“Oh, to Hades with this,” he mumbled and left Mimas’ ear in the dust.
* * *
Thrace was a riot of celebration and drumming, cries and shouts going up around the temple of Ares Enyalios. Fires blazed into the night, celebrating the end of the Gigantomachy, and the triumph and favor of their patron.
Ares liked Thrace. He liked their warriors with their artful skin. Their men endured great pain when the needles tapped a meandros of horses and suns into their flesh to show the world that they were no longer boys— that they were proud warrior men of their tribe. He liked their women with their red hair and flaming temperament, as capable of gutting their foes as any man in Hellas. And he very much enjoyed fucking the women of Thrace, when the mood struck him.
He’d disguised himself, as his kind was wont to do, dressing as a common soldier celebrating with the people. Tonight his arms boasted the same dark ink as the Thracians, his cloak bore the same dark colors. Ares toasted to victory in their agora. He poured himself more wine and tipped a small leather flask of ambrosia into his cup then drank its contents in one gulp. Vitality flowed through his veins, chasing away the weariness of battle.
Hetaerae, women skilled in the art of pleasure, danced past him. Their deerskin loin skirts showed off the smooth curves of their legs, and purple apodesmos bound their breasts. Coins jangled as they gyrated, sewn to strips of cloth tied about their wrists and ankles. A fair hetaerae, covered head-to-toe in freckles, played a lyre and sang of the battle.
On any other day, he would have tossed the instrument from the freckled girl’s hands, given her a hard kiss and thrown her over his shoulder to disappear into the night. Sometimes the girls protested; most times they did not. Often he could quiet their protests with a clever tongue and fingers or a shiny trinket or two. She was a pretty little thing, but the desert woman in gold already consumed his mind. Instead of pulling the hetaerae into his arms, he stood and listened to her next song.
“Who will come for him? Who will consort with Enyalios?
Who will calm the fire that runs through the veins of our lord?
She comes… she comes… the Lady she comes…
To conquer the heart of Enyalios…”
He wrinkled his nose and walked on. If only she would, whoever she was. Like most gods he was handsome enough, he thought, though not vain about it like preening, prancing Apollo. His build was stocky and muscular, much like his father. His body had been hardened by training and battle, but unlike the warriors around him, bore none of its scars. Mortal women, nymphs and the like had come willingly to his bed. One nymph, to his embarrassment, had gone on about his eyes and how they reminded her of a deep lake near her home. He’d found a quick way to quiet her prattling, replacing her words with mewls and moans.
But as for goddesses… He shook his head, trying not to remember how Zeus had scolded him for soundly thrashing Hermes when the God of Thieves taunted him for it. He desperately wished to forget the scorn Demeter had heaped on him at Olympus in front of everyone when he had polished his bronze armor and presented his sword and shield to the Harvest Goddess to beg her elusive daughter Persephone’s hand in marriage. He finished another cup and recalled the terror that seized him when Zeus took him aside and told him that Persephone was already betrothed… and of the dreaded one who would become her lord and husband.
Ares stalked off toward the great wine barrel in the middle of the agora, determined to have at least three more cups before retiring for the night. A woman with piercing gray eyes and gold strands woven through her red hair danced into his path. He tried to sidestep her but when Ares moved to the left, she moved left. He moved right, she mirrored his steps.
He scowled and spoke in Thracian. “Woman, be gone. I’m not in the mood for games.”
With no words or warning, she grasped the back of his head and pulled him to her, locking her lips against his. Ares felt his heart quicken, his pulse pound in his ears. Her tongue snaked out against his teeth. His breath grew short and he felt light headed. The sounds around them blurred together and dimmed and Ares could feel only her, her fingers on the nape of his neck, the taste of rosewater on her lips. He pushed her off him and shook himself, bringing his senses back under his control. His features hardened into a scowl.
“Damn it wench, I said I’m not in the mood! Go find yourself a different soldier for the night.”
“You’re not a soldier.”
“What are you talking about?” He pounded his armor-clad chest. “Look at me, foolish girl, I—”
“You’re a prince,” she said with in heavily accented Theoi. He froze. The woman gave him a disarming smile. “And you’re not the only immortal here tonight, Gigantes Slayer.”
He blinked, but when his eyes opened again, the woman was gone. He only heard laughter on the air.
* * *
Festivities carried on well into the night but no matter where Ares searched, he couldn’t find the hetaerae— or whomever she was— that had accosted him.
He eventually wandered behind his temple and vanished through the ether, his pathway through that realm marked with sand and iron and blood, just as it had always been since he was a child.
Upon seeing that sign of what he was meant for, Zeus and Hera had given young Ares over to the tutelage of Enyo, the warrior goddess with black silken hair, daughter of the Protogenoi. She’d been hard on him. Harder than he’d expected from a woman.
There are no women like me, Enyo once told him. And beware a woman's charm, young one. They will stab you through the heart before you can even see the blade. Most men fall to swords, but they can also fall to sheaths.
Ares grunted, thinking about the woman and her laughter. And her kiss. Ares had never been kissed like that. She tasted of roses and sea salt, and her lips had all the pull of the cosmos, tearing him to pieces, then stitching him back together again.
As the night wore on, Ares decided it was best not to go back to Olympus in his besotted state. He ended up on a secluded Thracian beach, staggering drunk, then dropped his weapons, his shield and helm, and cast off his cloak. Ares stripped off his bloody cuirass and tunic, his greaves and gauntlets and loincloth and lay naked under the heavens, staring up at the stars. The sound of lapping waves calmed him and he breathed deeply, the world still spinning from the wine. The sea air wafted across his hot skin, cooling him.
The great band of light was high overhead. The people of Thrace and Hellas had a legend that it was made of milk, squirted from his holy mother’s breast across the vault of night. When he was a boy he’d asked Selene, the moon Titaness, if it were true. She had said the band of light was made of distant stars, that they had always been there, and had certainly been there before Hera. He shut his eyes as pink and red licked the horizon, the sun soon to rise.
Ares awoke at noonday when the tide came in, tickling his ankles.
“Suffering Keres,” he moaned, covering his eyes against the bright sun. He squinted and saw his loincloth drift in on a wave. His tunic lay on the beach, sopping wet.
Just as well, he thought. More useful that way. He sat up, ignoring the stiffness in every joint and wrung out the wet clothes. At least he'd had the sense last night to leave his armor and weapons further up the beach. He stared at the rivulets of blood staining his cuirass and sighed, kneeling to clean it thoroughly. He dug caked blood out of the embossed serpents on the front carapace. Freshwater would have been better. And something to dry it. And he should have had oil with him to keep rust away. He didn’t need any of those things in truth. He was a god— his armor an extension of his will, and as fast against age and decay as he was. But such habits were hard to break.
Take care of your armor, young one, and it will take care of you, Enyo repeatedly told him. When he’d scoffed at cleaning his armor, she made him run all the way around Mount Parnassus, keeping pace with him and shouting at him that it was what his warriors would expect it of him. He must do as they did. Live as they lived. Killed as they killed. He had an example to set to the mortals. Would you rather they look to your wretched sister for all things concerning war? Would you rather be a useless god? Purposeless? Pointless?
He shook his head. The Gigantomachy had dwindled to a slow hunt after their enemies had been broken, and he was the last hunter of the Gigantes. And what had he to show for it? No trophy from Mimas, no sign of the woman... Had the giant's blood poisoned him? Was she just as much an illusion as the wavering desert air? He scrubbed harder and wrung out his tunic, thankful as always that it was already dyed deep red. He took both tunic and loincloth to the shore and dipped them in the water.
His linen loincloth was now stained and tinged like a woman’s. He shrugged. A woman's moon blood never bothered him. In many ways he took a perverse pleasure in it. Women burned hot during that time and a man between their thighs was the best way to bank their fires. He loved overcoming a girl's protestations to spear her lips with his tongue, and the mingling of seed and blood on his cock…
Ares stopped, silent. He knew when he was being watched. Waves lapped the shoreline and carried a perfect cockleshell to rest at his feet. He picked it up and turned it over in his hand. When he looked up, grey eyes closed and red hair disappeared beneath the waves. Ares heard laughter.
He threw down the shell. “Aren’t you tired of mocking me yet?”
I do not mock you, son of Zeus.
“Then what do you want with me? Stop playing games and show yourself!”
If you insist.
The crown of her head poked up through the water and she walked toward him, the sea revealing more with each slow step. Her eyes were wide open, gray as newly forged iron, her nose was just pert enough and her cheeks were smattered with freckles. She came closer and the waves pulled back to reveal her collarbone, her smooth arms and the fullness of her breasts.
Ares swallowed. She was unclothed, unadorned, and the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. His heart raced and he covered his loins with the sopping wet tunic in a futile attempt to disguise his reaction.
Her every step became a seduction. Rivulets of water ran from her hair between the valley of her breasts to her waist. Beads of seawater hung on puckered nipples and Ares wanted nothing more than to tongue that water from her skin, to taste every inch of her. A thatched triangle of dark red hair rested between flared hips and taut thighs… then long legs, her pink toenails, and when he looked up, she was in front of him, inches from his face. Ares throbbed, his skin prickled, and his heart leapt into his throat. He struggled to find his voice.
“Who are you?” It came out rougher than he intended.
“Like you, I have many names. You can call me Aphrodite.”
“Why have you followed me?”
Aphrodite smiled up at him and he felt like he’d been blinded. “Have you never been seduced by a woman, son of Zeus?”
Son of Zeus. He narrowed his eyes. “So it’s my bloodline you’re after?”
“Of course not,” she said. Aphrodite ran her hand down his chest, feeling the muscles ripple under her touch. Air hissed past his teeth when her little finger grazed his nipple. “It is you I’m after.”
“You have a strange way of seducing men, you know. Running away, disappearing after you kiss them…”
“I know. But you like it,” her hand wound it's way up his neck, feeling tendons cord under her palm. She feathered her fingertips across his square jawline. “You like to chase.”
“I don't like to be teased.”
She looked down pointedly at his thick cock straining against the tunic he held between them. He followed her gaze, tilting his head, then gasped when she closed the space between them and pressed her thigh to his groin. She canted her head up, her lips so close to his that she could feel the heat of his breath on them. “It seems that you do.”
He smashed his mouth into hers, tasting her. Her lips were honey and rose water, blood and salt. He dipped his tongue in to taste more and felt hers push back, twining and wrestling with him breathlessly. Her hand snaked down to his and tossed the tunic aside. He sucked on her tongue and groaned when her thighs squeezed his cock, making him buck his hips against her. Not to be outdone, he left her mouth and dove to her breast, latching onto the peak and swirling his tongue over the crinkled flesh. Her hand tangled in his short auburn hair, balling into a fist and pulling at the roots when his teeth nipped at her, gently pulling up the peak and teasing its point with sharp licks on the tip of his tongue.
Aphrodite writhed against him. He smiled, then switched to her left breast, her heartbeat pulsing against his lips. He gripped a handful of her rump and spread her cheeks apart. Ares threw his head back when her hand closed around the head of his cock, her thumb swiping clear droplets from the tip before slicking them down his shaft. She tugged up and stroked down, torturously slow.
Her eyes closed when his fingers met the swollen lips of her vulva and delved inside to feel her heat. Ares pulled his fingers out and licked them clean, salt and roses, the taste of her sending an undeniable jolt straight to the cock she slowly pumped within her fist. He batted away her pleasuring hand and gathered one thigh in each of his large palms, lifting her, dragging Aphrodite up the length of his body. She gripped him for balance, trying to gain purchase on the hard muscles of his back and shoulders.
“I'll taste you thoroughly later,” he ground out against her neck and angled up, seeking entry. She wiggled herself into position and he bent his knees and pushed up into her, enclosed, transported, the world melting away around them.
Oh gods… He could barely stay upright she felt so tight around him. Ares pulled out and thrust in again, holding there, his lips playing against hers, panting against her mouth. She cried out, her throat catching when he seated himself in her fully. The flared head kissed the back of her channel. He grinned against her lips. A perfect fit.
“Enyalios… my Ares… don’t stop!” She dug her nails into his shoulders and cried out when he held there. “Take me… please move… please…” She stared into his eyes, looking as though she was either about to cry or rip him to pieces. He flexed his cock, and she gave a shocked gasp. A wicked grin crossed his face.
“Oh, but I like it here,” he purred into her ear. “You’re so tight and wet and… oh gods, your heat…”
She clenched around him deliberately, and all the air left him, the move undoing his control and prodding him set a rhythm. He started slowly to be sure of his precarious footing then picked up speed. Ares gripped her thighs tightly and she dug her heels into his back, clinging to him.
“Where did you come from?” He rasped against her skin. “Why me?”
“I came back to you,” she cried out, speared over and over on his pounding cock. The walls of her cunt rippled around him, stroking him as he stroked into her, “I came from the east… my consort… my prince, my Enyalios, back to you… for you… all for you, my Ares…”
Who will come for him? The girl sang the previous night. Who will consort with Enyalios?
“Yes…” He gritted his teeth. His moves became frenzied, her body meeting his thrust for thrust. “Your Ares… and you, koritsi mou, are mine…” she clamped around him and bowed her back, screaming his name, then screaming words in a different tongue. He didn't understand a bit of it, but seeing her forget herself, forget everything but him plunging into her, quickly pushed him over the edge.
Ares voice broke with a shout and he pulled out from her. He leaned his forehead against her neck as she shook and raked his back with her nails. Jets of his seed spurted across her belly and the underside of her breasts. He leaned into her, out of breath and brought her legs down from over his hips, sated, his heart finally slowing. He felt calm. Fearless. He kissed her and held her about the waist, then picked up the wet loincloth from the shore and carefully wiped his seed from her skin.
“You didn’t reach ecstasy within me?”
Her brow knit, the first expression she'd made that wasn't meant to seduce him. She looked almost vulnerable. The corner of his mouth turned up. “Don’t take it personally, koritsi mou. But… I have no idea who you are. I don't know how wise it is to beget on an unknown goddess…” He smiled briefly, realizing that was exactly what she was. A goddess. His girl, his goddess.
“Would it be so bad to put a child within me?”
“Well…” he froze, thinking about it. He knew he’d had children by mortals and at least one nymph. Lacedaemonians and Thracians both claimed his ancestry. He smiled and sponged off more of his seed. Ares took pleasure in knowing that he was the only thing Aphrodite was wearing. “It's a bit early to think about that, wouldn’t you say? Especially with a woman who just walked up onto a beach and fucked me where I stood.”
“We made love just now?” He raised an eyebrow. Lovemaking was something poets and musicians sang of. It was soft and tender. Ares was neither soft nor tender, and he was certainly no poet. And it explained much, he realized. Being so brusque and direct had made it difficult to coax a goddess into his bed. “Gods, I'm almost afraid to find out what you'd consider 'fucking'.”
“With my consort, they're one and the same.”
He stilled the cloth and looked up at her. “You… you’re using the wrong word, I think. I don't know what it means where you come from, but ‘consort’… girls here don’t have consorts. Men do. Women are consorts. Or concubines.”
She shrugged. “If you insist. It only matters that you are my Ares.”
He tilted his head at her. She’d said that in the heat of passion, but outside it those words felt like more than a simple endearment. “That's quite a promise, having just met me. Words aside, fu— making love to you was great, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve known you for less than an hour.”
“Then we should become better acquainted,” she said, brushing a finger along the underside of his cock and catching a last drop of seed on her finger. Aphrodite brought it to her lips and snaked her tongue out. That tongue mesmerized him as she sampled his essence. She kissed his neck and he inhaled her scent.
Aphrodite kissed down the flat plane of his stomach. He shivered, springing to life again, thickening, hungry for her. She knelt in the incoming tide, the sea rolling around knees and ankles and he was nearly knocked off balance when she closed her lips over the flared head of his cock, supping on him, lightly cupping the tightening sac underneath with one hand and stroking his thighs with the other.
It was usually a chore to get a woman to do this for him, and he didn't often ask it of his bedmates because he thought women didn't enjoy fellatio. He could hardly describe putting his cock in a girl's mouth as an act of love. But her eagerness to taste him, her fingers supporting him, her mouth caressing him, his hands smoothing over her shoulders, cradling her head and weaving his fingers into her hair, felt even more intimate now than when he was inside of her. She looked up at him with those beautiful silvery eyes and he felt something unknown pierce his heart. He relaxed his clenched fingers and petted her hair, caressed her cheek.
Ares pulled away. “I believe I promised you something earlier…”
“And what was that?” She accepted his proffered hand and walked up the beach with him.
“That I would taste you thoroughly,” he said, giving her shoulder a playful push. She landed on her rump and Ares knelt between her legs. His nose wrinkled. They were on a beach, of all places. He remembered yesterday and all the sand of battle sticking in his teeth, and wished they were back on Olympus so he could lay her out on his skins and fleeces and give her a proper tonguing. There were, however, a few intriguing ways around that.
Ares gripped her ankles and pulled her toward him, Aphrodite squealing in delight. He sat with his legs folded underneath him and hoisted her knees up over his shoulders to stare intently between her thighs. He glanced up at her, and saw her smiling, curious as to what he would do next.
“You don’t mind me looking, do you?”
“Of course not. It's my body. Heavens help me if a man doesn’t look where he’s going…” she was rewarded with a warm laugh from her lover. Aphrodite sat up part way and traced his hairline and the shell of his ear. “So look all you like.”
He petted the soft mound of hair and gently ran his fingers across the dewy wisps covering her lips. They were swollen and wet from fucking— making love he reminded himself. If she was letting him enjoy her body he might as well be familiar with her terms. He traced the seam and saw her head tilt back and a hand brush over her breast. He gently opened the outer lips and touched the wet petals of her labia, tracing them until he grazed the nub where they joined. She thrashed.
“Steady, koritsi mou,” he crooned to her. “I haven’t even started yet…” Ares spread her wide with two fingers and leaned in, touching his tongue to her entrance. She tasted like roses and the sea and moaned divinely when he breached the gates, working the tip inside her rhythmically.
He took his time, enjoying her, licking a serpentine path between her lips, then latched onto the apex of her mound. He swirled his tongue slowly, listening to her mewl and beg. “Ares… Enyalios… my Ares… please.”
“Mmmhm,” he purred into her wet flesh, then broke his intimate kiss, gripping her thighs to keep her from rising to his mouth again. He wanted to know her. All of her. And after a full day of making him chase her, Ares thought it only fair to tease her in return— to let her wait. “Tell me… before I go on… what are you the goddess of anyway?”
He smirked. “I don’t think you’re the goddess of me, koritsi mou.”
He raised his eyebrows.
“I’m the Goddess of Love. Beauty. Fertility. Sex.”
“Those I can believe,” he said, slowly pushing a finger into her sex. She writhed as he filled her neglected channel.
“So what I said was true,” she gasped. “I am the goddess of Ares.”
He chuckled and curled his finger within her, gripping her waist to still her writhing. “And yet you're at my mercy.”
“All gods are at the mercy of those who worship them…”
He scowled then grunted dismissively. This wasn't the time for philosophy. He pushed in, watching his thick finger disappear into her channel, emerge slick and wet, the inner lips flaring and contracting around it. He traced his finger through her labia and settled it on the pulsing nub, pressing down.
She truly was at his mercy. Ever so slowly, he drew a circle around the center of her pleasure, his path slick and her scent torturing him. He stopped, listened to her mewl in frustration, felt her clench and pulse, then wound his finger the other way. Her helplessness made him ache, painfully aware of his own arousal nudging against her back. He ground against her, giving him at least some relief, knowing there would be none until he was within her again. But he had a promise to keep.
Ares dove back in, assaulting her hidden pearl with the flat of his tongue and working first one finger, then two, in and out of her delicious cunt. Aphrodite twisted against him, further hardening his cock with her gyrations. He closed his lips over her clitoris and sucked, eliciting a long wail from the Goddess of Love. Her back arched, she milked his fingers and he drank the sweet salty cream she offered him.
He pried open her thighs and pushed away from her. Ares paced over to his cloak and shook it, then spread it out on the sand. Aphrodite lay panting, her hand over her heart. He sank to his knees beside her and picked her up, carrying her to his cloak and laying her out in the center. She looked beautiful against his field of red. Mine, he thought. She needed to be his. He crawled up her body and slid into her velvety heat. Her hands pressed on his spine, holding him there, the aftershocks of her orgasm pulsing in waves up and down his cock. He pulled back and sank into her again, her hips canting up, taking him deeper.
Ares had more control this time, unlike their wild rutting at the shoreline. He propped himself on his elbows and stared down at her, his pace leisurely. The Goddess of Love, he thought. How was she even possible? Aphrodite was everything he'd ever sought out in a bedmate— a woman he could’ve only ever dreamed of having. Beautiful, open, unabashed, a wit that complimented instead of mocked his plain spokenness. His lips tugged against hers, their tongues winding and dancing, and their breath keeping pace. She was pulling at his heart— at every piece of him. “Koritsi mou…”
“Enyalios… my Ares… Ares, my love…”
Love. That word held weight— more than he could bear right now. Ares pushed forward, spearing her hard. She cried out and shuddered. He stared down at her. “Aphrodite…”
She rose against him and twined her fingers with his, hand to hand. Her grey eyes stared up into his blue, locking his gaze to hers. Don’t fear me… don’t fear this… her eyes said to him. She brushed her lips against his until he settled them on hers. He gentled again, calmed, and nipped at her lips.
Beware a woman’s charm.
Those words meant little right now. What did Enyo know about love making anyway? Ares was at peace within Aphrodite. He increased his tempo, gripped her shoulders and plunged into her, deepening each thrust. Aphrodite cradled him, her arms wrapped around his body, aftershocks of her pleasure seizing around him. The taut pressure within him snapped and he bowed his back, his seed charging into her depths. He held there for what seemed like an eternity, then collapsed onto her, breathing hard.
Her hands brushed through his hair, and he shut his eyes, her fingertips softly stroking the nape of his neck, his arms and back. He blanketed her body with his and listened to the waves lapping the shore, crashing against the shoals beyond. The breeze drifted over his skin, complimenting her gentle touch. His mind had never felt so clear, so serene, disengaged from its everlong battle with fear and envy. His heart felt free and unencumbered. He rested within her, his Goddess of Love.
Love. Was that what this was? He had known of Aphrodite’s existence for less than a day but every part of him knew her, was attuned perfectly to her. They were a harmony of hard and soft, the surety of his world and the unknown fluidity of hers. Ares opened his eyes and brushed strands away from her closed lids. He felt a pull toward her stronger than lust for the first time in his long life. He’d willingly, intentionally given her his seed, knowing she was a fertile goddess, knowing what that might mean for beings such as they.
“You said you came back,” he whispered against her neck. “That you came back to me. What did you mean?”
“The people of these lands are as much mine as they are yours. I am a descendant of Mother Chaos… just as you are…”
The corners of his mouth turned up. She was one of his kind. “Who was your mother?”
“I had no mother, unless you count the shallow seas.”
“No,” she said with a kiss. “Just the sea.”
I am older than the Gigantes, she’d told him.
They will stab you through the heart before you can even see the blade.
His rose up over her and his smile faded. “Who was your father?”
“I am the last seed of Ouranos.”
Most men fall to swords, but they can also fall to sheaths.
His stomach pitted and he froze. Red descended over his vision and his lip curled into a snarl. He could see her lean back in fright, caged by his body. Ares swiped his right hand out, grasping the hilt of his sword, and brought the edge smoothly against her neck. “What are you?!”
“Please… My Ares…”
“Do not call me that!” He felt his chest contract. Her tenderness toward him had been a trick, a ruse so he would let down his guard. “I spent seven years at war with the last blood of Ouranos just be fucked and beguiled by one?! You made me…” His words choked him, angering him further. “Tell me where the rest of your kin are! Where are they hiding?”
“There are none. I swear it. I’m not what you think I am,” she said, her voice cracking. Her lip trembled, but not from fear of Ares’ blade. His heart rebelled when he saw her eyes well up. He was hurting her deeper than his sword could possibly cut, and her expression, her tears were undoing him.
“What are you then? A Gigante? A Titan? Show me what you really are, you vile, deceitful creature!”
Tear streamed from her eyes before they glazed over in anger. “I am a Deathless One like you. I am however you see me. However anyone sees me. But I have no true form. When I try to look upon myself I can’t. There is nothing left. I left all I was at the gates of Irkalla.”
“Where in Tartarus is Irkalla?”
“I’ve had enough of your riddles! Give me the truth or I swear—”
“I came back,” she shouted, surprising and silencing him, “thanks to you, Ares. Because you killed the last of my enemies.”
He held the blade taut, but stayed silent, his eyes widening, his brow furrowing.
She swallowed. “It is true. I was born of the sea. From the sea foam that bubbled up when Cronus castrated his father. He threw his parts away near Cyprus, and from them I sprang up, fully formed. When I crawled onto that shore, when I saw the pandemonium of the world, the tyranny to come, I ran in fear. I exiled myself.”
“Why?” Ares relaxed his arm. “Why didn’t you stay and fight?”
“I was too young. I knew very little but was certain I was too powerful. My place in the cosmos was written into my birth… the last spark of fertility that Father Sky had or would ever have… I had to flee. The Titans would have enslaved me to their will if I did not.”
Ares withdrew his sword and set it beside them.
“The Fates prophesied a curse on all the sons of Ouranos. They would fall at the hands of any children sired by Cronus Pantodynamos, the Tyrant. I swore I would only return once the last scion of Ouranos had been defeated. It wouldn’t have been safe for me otherwise. It wouldn't have been safe for any of you,” Aphrodite said and cupped his cheek. “That's when I saw you.”
He rested on his elbows again, hovering over her. She was no Gigante or she would have shrunk away from his sword. If she were a Titan… well… castration was the best scenario he could imagine for himself for threatening her in such a way. He was still within her— an awareness brought to bear when she stirred him to life again. Ares pressed his thumb against the single tear that had trailed into her hairline, and cradled her face. She was power and vulnerability all at once and he was possessed by the urge to protect her, even if, as she said, all her enemies were vanquished. And even if, he shuddered, she was more potent and powerful than he was. “Where did you go, koritsi mou?”
“East. Across the deserts and mountains, to the land of two rivers. The Euphrates. I brought water and life wherever I walked in the desert. I met a shepherd king. He called me Inanna. I took the name; I hid under its protection. Together he and I diverted rivers. We built an empire of gold and cattle. We had a son. Then…” She looked away from him her face lined with pain. “He died.”
Ares bit his cheek and sank deeper within her, pressing his groin to hers possessively. He turned her chin to face him again. “I don't like you speaking of another man when I’m with you,” he growled.
“Were you a virgin before me?” She shot at him.
“Did you expect me to be a virgin? A blushing little flower?”
Ares shook his head. No, he thought ruefully, she was no virgin— even before he'd seen to it.
“That one little flower you pursued as one pursues a pure and proper wife…” Her eyes narrowed and Ares swallowed the lump in his throat. She smirked. “There is darkness within the girl you call Persephone.”
“And what would you know of her? You’ve been gone for aeons, as you say…”
“Because I knew that incarnation of her, what she represents; the aspect of her that the people of Uruk called my sister: Ereshkigal. I left my true self at the gates of Irkalla, her home, as payment to find the one I lost. But there was no way back for him.”
“I want you to forget that man,” he said, pushing into her. I want you to forget about anyone's touch but mine.
Aphrodite gripped Ares head at his temples and pulled him to her body. She rolled until he lay supine beneath her, their connection unbroken. “I do not forget my lovers.” She stilled upon him, resisting him when he groaned and tried to push up from underneath. “You are Olympian. I know your kind’s appetites, and the appetites of your forefathers. Can you say with certainty that you could spend all eternity faithful to me?”
Ares looked away and clenched his jaw. He knew himself. And he wasn’t about to lie to her.
“I thought not,” she rose and fell upon him again, burning away those thoughts. “But you and I… my Ares…my love…”
He tensed, his hands falling to her hips. Ares rammed up into her, pinioning her on his cock. “Tell me what you want from me.”
“What is it you desire of me? There are gods more powerful than I with which to ally yourself. You walked up onto this beach from the realm of one of them.”
“I will tell you. But answer me this first: what do you see when you see me?”
He paused. She didn't know. She was the Goddess of Love and Beauty. But her form was malleable. She could only know her visage through the eyes of her lovers. “A beautiful woman. The most beautiful woman that exists.”
“Tell me?” Her eyes pleaded with him. It wasn't vanity that compelled her.
“Your hair is red. Deep red.”
“Like the girls of Thrace.”
He stirred below her. “Yes. Like the girls of Thrace. Your eyes, though. They are polished iron, and…” He traced her cheek roughly with his thumb and smiled. “You have freckles. Little ones across your cheeks and over your nose. I want to kiss each one of them.” She returned his smile and he tilted his head to the side. “What do you see when you see me?”
“A second question wrapped up within your first. Like you, I see what I desire most.”
Ares stilled, waiting. He swallowed, afraid of what her words would be.
“I see the great and powerful god you shall become. Mortal kingdoms, the gods they worship, rise and fall. And with me by your side, yours will dawn one day…”
“You speak nonsense…” Ares shook his head and pulled back from her.
“No,” she said, pushing on his thighs with her ankles. “I speak the truth. I will show you.”
Aphrodite gripped his temples, pulling his face to hers as she rode him.
“You see me as you wish to see me as a part of what I am. Now I will show you the part of you I seek, Enyalios… my Ares…”
Ares shook, images and blurred faces invading his mind, warring with pleasure. He widened his eyes.
“I would be ever at your side,” she said.
He saw vast armies as populous as cities, march out in all directions, clad in his red. She showed him a city built of stone and warriors anointed in blood in his name, weapons of iron and fire and impenetrable phalanxes. Enemies enslaved or crucified. Statues and banners and temples bore his likeness but his name was spelled out in strange letters— written in a different tongue.
“You will be the god worshipped foremost by an empire that will ring the whole of the Mesogeios. An empire that will conquer Africa. Asia. Europa. A hundred cities and scores of tribes will know your name— will pay tribute to us.”
“Us?” He pulled her hands away, stopping the onslaught of visions, then lay back against the earth, trying to absorb what she’d said. “Do you mean to bring down Olympus, woman? To go to war and lift you and I as King and Queen and throw us all into pandemonium?” He snarled and grabbed her wrists, pinned her hands above his head, her nipples grazing his chest and her face level with his, nose to nose. “Whatever you think to offer me, I will not turn against them.”
“You misunderstand me.” She whispered. “I mean to join Olympus. To become one of you. To infuse your court and you foremost with my power and desires. To join you, Gigantes Slayer… Enyalios… My Ares… you… You know I speak the truth.”
Would you rather they look to your wretched sister for all things concerning war? Enyo had asked him as he barked his shins on rocks and brambles, scrambling up Parnassus. Would you rather be a useless god? Purposeless? Pointless?
Aphrodite crushed her lips against his. The tumult and joy she brought him in this moment gave him renewed purpose. With her he would be revered— a god that mattered. In all the ways he knew his father and mother never would believe in him, she did. To her he was worthy. Ares flexed and thrust up, met by her rising over him, triumphant. He wanted to wind himself so tightly into her arms that they could never free themselves from the other. She curled around his heart like a serpent, guarding him and threatening to strangle him all at once. Aphrodite’s red hair shone in the sun, the light behind her blinding him every time she moved. He shut his eyes, feeling her, relishing her movements until she started to come undone above him. He surrendered one last time.
Afterward, Ares lay with her where he was, saying nothing, clutching her body to his. She had conquered him. He knew innately that Zeus would never let him have a consort as powerful as Aphrodite. For all that his father dismissed him, he feared Ares fomenting rebellion just as he had, just as Cronus had before him. Aphrodite would be married off, he wagered, so she couldn’t destabilize his father’s rule. Perhaps to Hephaestus. The lame Blacksmith was the best choice, he thought dryly, if only because unlike Ares’ other bastard brothers he wouldn’t challenge Zeus. He sighed. Hephaestus would at least be kind to the goddess and wouldn’t use her gifts and power for ill. Hera would approve of the match. If it came down to it, Ares himself might even suggest it. He didn’t like the anger that filled him at the thought, or the emptiness that quickly followed. Aphrodite lay on his chest and he brought his arms around her, listening to the waves recede and the tide retreat.
At least in this moment, he was hers and she was his.