Persephone sat cross-legged on Eros' couch, hands fisted in the long sleeves of her sweatshirt and knee bouncing up and down nervously. Why am I so shy about this? It's not like I haven't had sex before. I'm a fertility goddess, for Fates’ sake. She reached over and plucked the can of hard seltzer off the coffee table and took a deep pull.
Eros flounced into the room, plunking a bowl of buttered popcorn onto the table and sprawling onto the couch next to Persephone. "All right! Let's get this movie started!" He paused, belatedly registering her clear nervousness, and his immaculately groomed brows furrowed. "Uh oh. What's wrong, Cinnamon?"
She looked at him in alarm. "Nothing! Everything's great. Nothing weird happening here!" She grinned hugely.
He gave her a flat look. "Right, and tomorrow Zeus will parade around Olympus wearing a tiara and a sign that says 'I'm an irrepressible fuckboi'. Come on, honey. You can't lie for shit and I know you too well."
"Fine," she grumbled, taking a deep breath before forging ahead. "Hades and I have been seeing each other for a while and we've been going slow but things have started heating up over the last week or so and I'm fairly sure that we're going to end up having sex soon and I am just so nervous about it." She went faster and faster as she spoke until the words were tumbling out and she ended on a frustrated wail, tipping over and burying her face in the couch cushions dramatically.
Eros started out on a grin at having wheedled out the truth, but as she blurted more and more, his brows climbed higher and higher. He thought fast on how to address this problem as she wriggled into the cushions -and it was a problem. His best friend was not only not having sex, she was not having sex with the god she'd been pining after for ages, and she was nervous about it.
Clearly a situation that calls for my assistance.
He turned slightly to face her, careful not to touch, aware of how his powers could amplify a being's sexual tension. "Lucky for you that kind of nervousness is my specialty. Talk to me, cinnamon. What's up? Why are you so nervous about a chance to get all over big old Hades?"
She turned her head slightly to peer up at him with one eye. "I just-" she paused. "He's so much older than me, and so much more experienced." Her voice was muffled in the cushion. "I'm sure he's had amazing sex with nymphs and maybe even other goddesses, and what if he doesn't think I'm any good?" Persephone had had a number of positive sexual experiences in the few years since she left TGOEM, ranging from fun (Hermes) to mind-blowing (Ares), and she had gone to bed (or couch, or bathroom stall) with them eagerly and with little to no self-consciousness. But whenever she thought about being intimate with Hades her palms got sweaty and anxiety washed over her.
Eros chuckled. "Sweetheart, you know as well as I do that age doesn't stand for much in consideration of experience." He paused. "I've been trying to reform my gossipy ways, but this is for a good cause. Would you like to know some truths about the big bad king?"
Persephone sat up, cheeks flaming. She hesitated only a moment before blurting, "Yes!"
He grinned and took on a conspiratorial whisper. "So, to be fair, a lot of this is simply guesses on my part. But you have to admit, I can make a pretty damn good educated guess on a being's sexual state. It's fairly well known that Hades isn't shy for sex, but I'm not sure he's ever had a meaningful relationship." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I'm curious. If it wouldn't be prying to ask - but I'm hoping you'd tell me even so - has he been acting nervous with you? Flirting? Aloof?"
She blushed. "He flirts like crazy when we're in public but when we're alone he gets kind of stand-offish. That lasts for maybe a half hour and then he acts like he can't keep his hands off me, but he seems really hesitant." She frowned. "Am I not a good enough kisser or something? I don't understand what's going on with him."
Eros laughed. "Granted, I've never kissed you, but I can't imagine that's it." He thought for a moment, then grinned as some pieces clicked into place. "In addition to probably never having a meaningful relationship, consider the sex Hades has probably been having for centuries. Could well be good enough, with nymphs, dryads, perhaps the odd goddess here and there. But he has never been with a fertility deity. Believe me, I'd know. I can feel the waves put off by one of the kings when they get sex that good." He gave her a crooked grin and raised an eyebrow. "What if old blue is nervous of disappointing you?"
Persephone stared, blinking stupidly. "Wait. Sex with me is automatically good because I'm a fertility goddess?" Her mind spun, putting together pieces of conversation she'd had with previous partners, indicating surprise at her level of skill given her relative lack of experience. "Is that really a thing?"
He hummed. "Not automatically good. There are fertility beings who are dreadful lays. But we tend toward a certain level of skill. We learn faster and it tends to take more for us to be fully sated." Eros chortled for a moment. "I'm sorry, but this is too delicious. To think, one of the randy kings is nervous of his prowess..."
She swatted him on the arm. "He's not like that!" She rolled her eyes as she took another sip of seltzer. "I get so tired of people making those assumptions about him."
"I know he's not a fuckboi, honey," Eros murmured. "But even if he's not as promiscuous as his brothers, they all have similar sexual needs. Trust me. Hades is just better about being a gentleman about them." He sprawled back into the couch and sighed, rubbing his chin again. "This is all too much supposition for my liking, but I think we may be onto something. We know Hades wants you. He wanted you from the first moment he saw you. We know he's just as much a sexual creature as any other. We know he flirts, but he seems hesitant when you're alone. My guess is that he's scared of disappointing you and scared to move too fast and ruin what you've got going. Remember how I said he's never had a meaningful? I think that's changed with you."
Persephone pondered this for a moment. "What do you think I should do about it?"
"Well," he drawled and winked at her. "That depends. Do you think your frustration level can handle waiting ages for him to not be nervous?"
"No," she said firmly, rolling her eyes. "You know very well how worked up I am right now, you perv. So I guess that means that I need to get in the driver's seat." She tapped her chin thoughtfully.
"I'm thinking he won't respond well to simply being jumped. He does like women who know what they want, but he's probably too nervous to go with that as a plan of first attack. What if you orchestrate a date night? Treat him slow and gentle, but make it clear what you're after."
"You know I'm about as subtle as a truck, especially when I'm nervous," she moaned, burying her face in her hands. "This is going to be a disaster."
"Honey, it will not ." He took her hands, gently lowering them, suppressing any touch-based influence of his powers. "There's a difference between being subtle and proceeding carefully. You've been nervous so far with him, yes? And you haven't simply plowed him into the wall.To continue your truck analogy.” His eyes twinkled with mischief. “Alternately, you let things proceed as normal, but when he's standoffish, take him to the couch, straddle his lap and say, 'Your majesty, I'd like very much to boff you senseless. Any thoughts?'"
Persephone blinked, then dissolved into giggles. " Boff ?" she snorted. "'Pardon me, Hades, King of the Underworld and God of the Dead, would you like to boff with me?'"
Eros shrugged. "I think you might get an excellent reaction, but we can substitute another word... Canoodle? Horizontal tango? Bone? Bang? Fuck?"
She shrieked and clapped a pillow to her face, shaking with laughter. "I can't say anything of those things to him!" She tipped over again, helpless with laughter and embarrassment. "Oh my gods, Eros, I'm in love with him and I'm never going to get in his pants because we're such awkward nerds!"
A broad grin broke across his handsome face. "Well now, cinnamon," Eros purred, "that presents quite a different facet. Would you kindly run that by me again? You're in what with him?"
Persephone froze. Did I really just say that? "No!" she squeaked, face aflame.
He smiled, lovingly teasing. "No? That's terribly unfortunate, Persephone, that you didn't say what I could have sworn you clearly said... I could have rendered assistance. Advice. As it is..." He sighed dramatically and tilted his head back against the back of the couch. "I just don't know what to tell you."
She peeked at him through his fingers, conflicted. "Eros, I'm in love with him," she whispered.
He opened one eye and peeked at her, considering further teasing, and decided against it. He lifted his head and smiled warmly at her. "Dearest, that is not something to be whispered in shame and embarrassment. Hades is an annoying fuddy-duddy, but he is a good man. I'm making the dangerous assumption that he doesn't know that you love him, but do you remember what I told you about what he said the night he saw you? That you put Aphrodite to shame?"
"Of course I remember, but that doesn't mean he's in love with me. It just means he thinks I'm pretty."
"Just laying the groundwork. But on that note, that's not something you say when you consider someone pretty. Nor have I ever known our deadpan King of the Dead to indulge in hyperbole. I'd wager he thinks you're drop everything, jaw on the floor, stammering gorgeous, and that is not a sentiment you set aside just because someone is awkwardly nervous. Honey, I think you have big blue wrapped around your little finger and all you need to do is take charge a little."
Persephone's blush deepened. "Do you-" she swallowed. "Do you think he loves me?" she whispered, looking down.
"I think so," Eros said gently. "I haven't talked to him, of course, so I can’t say for certain. However, what I've seen in him, what I've seen and heard of how he is with you... I think he's head over heels. I wouldn't be surprised if that's why he's been so hesitant with you. You are everything he's never had in a relationship and I'd imagine he's scared to mess it up."
She looked up at him shyly. "Really?" she said hopefully. "Do you really think so?"
"I truly do." He lifted her hand and kissed her knuckles. "I think you two are doomed to love. Terribly sorry."
"Oh dear," she murmured, losing herself in thought. After a moment she looked up at him, eyes bright. "You have to help me seduce him."
His eyes went huge and he clasped his hands under his chin. "Persephone," he breathed, trembling with excitement. "Do you mean it?"
She nodded seriously. "I mean it. Give me the works."
His wings shivered into view, quivering with excitement. "Forget the movie. We're going shopping !"
Persephone's eyes sprang wide. "Shopping for what?"
He tsk ed with a giant grin. "Lingerie and a knock-him-off-his-feet dress, of course! Or pants if you really want, but there's not nearly so many groping possibilities..."
Her face lit up even as she blushed fuschia. "Oh! Oh, let me get my shoes."
Impulsively, he tucked her into a hug, wrapping his wings around her. "In a moment. I'm just so happy for you!"
Persephone squeezed him hard, her heart thumping in her chest. Head over heels... Fates, I hope it's true.