Phalluses And Fallacies
This is an answer to Scorpio's 'Penis Extension' line challenge. I've altered the wording slightly to make it flow better.
Looking up from the tiresome pile of scrolls – all petitions for something-or-other that only the God of War could fulfill, should he so choose, which meant he had to look them over personally; Hades, he needed a secretary – he was going through, Ares scowled. What did Eris want now? "What do you want, Eris?" he called back to his sister, trying his best to keep his aggravation out of his voice. A pissed off Discord was not a good thing.
Her only response was a growled, "Get in here!"
"Why?" Ares demanded, unable to hold his belligerences in check in the face of further infuriation from his twin's repeated commands. If she wants to talk to me so badly, why doesn't she just flash in here? he grumbled to himself.
A loud exhalation of breath – so loud that he could hear it in his office despite the fact that Eris was most likely in the forum of his home temple – indicated that his twin was definitely frustrated by his lack of compliance. Then he heard her say, voice clipped, "Ares, get in here and bring your penis extension with you!"
Ares' eyes lit with an internal fire. Okay, that does it. Sister or no sister, no one gets away with insulting me. Especially not when she can't come up with a new joke. "Discord, the Sword of Power is the symbol of my godhood. It is not a 'penis extension'!" Ares growled, grabbing the aforementioned phallic symbol and stalking into the forum of his temple to stand before his twin. As if I need help in that area, he thought with a scowl.
Rolling her eyes in that patented Aphrodite 'I'm the Goddess of Love and I don't have two brain cells to rub together – and I don't care' airhead blonde way, Eris placed her hands on her hips, tossed her hair back over her shoulder in another imitation of their Love Goddess sister and said, "Whatever."
Blinking at the incongruous sight, Ares' grip went lax on his sword. Tartarus, she must want something really bad in order not to continue needling me with that old joke. "What do you need me and my sword for, Eris?" Ares asked, trying to keep his voice level. If she makes one more crack about phallic symbols…
Eris' eyes flashed with humor and for a moment, Ares thought she really was going to say something. But the humor died down quickly and she subsided back into her usual surly demeanor. "I want you to use it to kill Joxer. The Mighty," she added the bumbler's self-dubbed title with derisive scorn.
"Why?" Ares demanded, flabbergasted by his sister's demand. "Why do you want me to kill one of my best worshipers?" he asked, eyes narrowing. Even if he is a bumbling fool, he added silently.
"Because he's not good enough for my son, that's why!" Eris snarled, knuckles cracking as she clenched her fists.
Ares blinked, dumbfounded, while inwardly wincing at the sound of popping bones. "What?"
"He's been making all sorts of mischief, trying to get Erin's attention," she snapped, starting to pace back and forth in her obvious agitation. "He comes to one of Strife's few temples every so often, and instead of leaving offerings, or telling jokes, he sneaks into the back rooms."
"The back rooms?" Ares asked, becoming even more befuddled. The 'back rooms' of the Gods' temples were spelled so that only the Gods themselves – and anyone they allowed – could go in there. Quite a few deities – most notably Apollo, and Aphrodite and Cupid, before they got married to Hephaestus and Psyche respectively – had used them for trysts with mortals. He himself used them nominally for when he needed to call a war council with his generals and didn't want to be disturbed.
Eris normally used hers for torture sessions which she planned to make last a long time. Though I have heard rumors of a certain King of Thieves being allowed access on a regular basis… "Eris, you do realize that Joxer couldn't go back there if Strife didn't want him to…right?" he asked needlessly. Of course she knew that; but if so, why was she still on the rampage?
Eris sighed and gave her brother a withering look. "You know Strife has never had so many worshipers that he could afford to turn away even the most reluctant one."
Ares nodded. Strife got a lot of incidental power from accidental mischief, but it was the malicious acts that really boosted his power. And prayers were always welcome. "And?" he prompted testily, when Eris seemed reluctant to continue.
"So instead of spelling the back rooms on most of his temples, he rigged booby traps on the entrances. He said that if anyone could actually get through them, it would impress him," Eris grumbled, as if she couldn't understand her son's thinking.
But, then again, no one understands each other up here on Olympus, Ares thought with dark humor. That's what keeps things interesting.
"And so you think Joxer is trying to 'impress' Strife in order to get him into bed?" Ares asked, receiving a curt nod in confirmation. "Well, what do you expect me to do about it?" For that matter, why should I do anything?
"He's one of your worshipers, remember?" Eris reminded him unnecessarily.
Yes, and his prayers alone power me far more than all of my most devoted warlords; why should I give up my cash cow? "Yes, and if he chooses to also worship Strife, I have no problem with that," Ares said. And he didn't; mortals were free to worship more than one god unless they'd taken an oath of fidelity. And since Joxer would never be a great warrior, Ares would never make him take such an oath.
Though if Eris' suspicions about his intention towards Strife are correct, I might tell my safety-pinned nut of a nephew to get Joxer to pledge to him. Might make her worry less. Taking in the look of murderous rage on his twin's face, Ares thought, Naaahh…
"You're being purposely dense, Are," Eris seethed. "Joxer doesn't want to worship Strife, he wants to 'worship' Strife." She put enough innuendo in that one word to make even Aphrodite blush, which was in itself a mean feat.
Ares himself was hard pressed to keep from coloring. "Strife's love life – or lack thereof – is none of my – or your – business," he said firmly. What, does she want me to get Cupid to set him up with someone? She knows my son doesn't work with gods, or even demigods; family politics is way too messy for him to want to be a part of it…
"It's my right as his mother to worry about him!" she shouted, then looked abashed as she realized what she'd said. Eris wasn't a bad mother, by any means – especially when you compared her parenting skills to their mother's; Hera was a real bitch for all that she was the Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth – but she wasn't as lovey-dovey as Aphrodite, or as sensitive as Psyche. Her approach was more along the lines of gruff, and no excess verbiage.
No one had ever heard her say those three little words – "I love you," in case you were unaware – in public. In private, well…
Only Strife and Ares himself would ever have had occasion to hear them, and no one had yet gotten up the nerve to ask.
Ares chuckled silently, knowing that if he let his mirth show, Eris would skin him alive – slowly. "Well, Eris, be that as it may, he's a grown god now–" Which doesn't necessarily mean that he's responsible or that he can take of himself, Ares thought, sighing internally, then continued aloud, "–not a young godling anymore–" Though he acts like one most of the time, but then he is the God of Mischief, "–and sometimes you have to let your kids make their own mistakes."
A mulish expression crossed her face. "That doesn't mean I have to like it," she spat.
"True, but if you don't let him live his own life, he'll hate you for it," Ares said knowingly.
She gave him one of those looks she wore when she was curious about something but refused to ask outright for more information. He normally only received it on the battlefield, or when they were in the Temple of War planning battles.
As if I was going to leave it like that, Ares thought, obliging her with, "I remember when 'Dite tried to interfere with Cupid's lovelife during that whole Psyche mess and almost ended up costing our son his life. Thankfully, she managed to pull herself out of it in time to save the girl, and thus Cupid, but it could have turned out much worse."
Eris nodded somberly at that true oh-so-true pronouncement, but said, "Well, things may have turned out alright for Featherbrain, but he had that whole curse going for him. You know things are always weird when prophecies and shit are involved."
"Weird doesn't necessarily mean good," Ares pointed out. "It was only thanks to 'Dite's quick thinking about giving Psyche ambrosia that saved Cupid from turning into that green-eyed monster for a third and final time."
"Yeah, but you know things never go right for Erin," Eris said. Her use of Strife's given name for one of the few times in her immortal life proved how worried she was about him. "If he'd been the one under that curse, he'd be covered with green scales right at this very moment."
Ares nodded soberly in acknowledgement of that of that fact. For some reason, despite the fact that both the Gods of Love – considered members of the House of Love – and the Gods of War – considered members of the House of War, natch – were all members of the House of Aggression, the members of the House of War still ended up getting the short end of the stick most times. Everyone loved love, but everyone – besides warlords – hated war.
"You know Strife's never had much luck with lovers," Eris continued. "And Zeus is the only one who resorts to trickery on a regular basis. Once Strife catches Joxer in the act, they'll in up in bed together faster than 'Pol flies his chariot."
They will? Ares thought, but did not say. I'd think Strife would be a little more cautious than that, no matter how much he might want to get laid. Even if Joxer knew that sneaking into Strife's temple would curry the God's favor, Ares was in doubt that the normally accident-prone young man could pull it off. Which begged the question of how it was that Joxer hadn't been caught yet?
And once Joxer gets up the nerve to go after that blonde bard that hangs out with Xena, he'll leave my baby cold." Eris made her version of a pout, which was basically a mild – for her – frown, combined with a growl.
Ares sighed in disgust. Nothing I say is going to change her mind, is it? he realized. He was saved from having to figure out what to say to her when two flashes of light appeared in front of them.
Speak of the deity, Ares thought wryly as the light died down to reveal his nephew, grinning manically as always. And the dumbass, he noted with surprise, seeing Joxer all-but-hiding behind Strife.
What is going on here? And why do I get the feeling that something is afoot? Ares thought. Something ominous was indeed hanging in the air – whether it was a sense of foreboding, or just another one of Aphrodite's perfumed love potions, the War God wasn't sure.
"Strife," Ares greeted his nephew. "What brings you here?" he asked, forgoing asking about Joxer for the moment, since it appeared the mortal was rather terrified. If his and Eris' suspicious about their relationship was proven right, then this conversation could be cut short as long as Joxer didn't get scared out of his wits from being surrounded by gods.
And Ares would much rather be dealing with all those scrolls than trying to calm down a hysterical, panic-stricken mortal.
Ares started as he noted that for once, said not-quite-panicking mortal was dressed in a serviceable, if plain, shirt and pants – and not that idiotic excuse for armor. Armor that had at one point it in its life been some sort of kitchenware, he was almost positive, although Ares would admit that the metal had served as minor protection against attacks.
But not godly ones. Ares certainly hoped that Strife had put a protection spell on Joxer before they arrived or else he might end up with a crispy-fried lover.
"Yo, Ma! Unc! I'd like ya ta meet mah Consort – Joxer." He presented the young man – who was smiling nervously and sweating buckets – with a flourish, a large – but for one of the few times in his life, not maniacal – smile on his face.
Ares gaped, then grinned. Well, I guess for once Eris is behind in her information gathering. Normally she knows what Strife is up to before he does. He hid a smirk. She's an even better gossip than Aphrodite, but I value my good looks – she's still pissed over being turned into a giant chicken and could so very easily get her pet thief to steal Artemis' bow – so there's no way I'm going to tell her that.
Eris' eyes narrowed at her smirking son. "What?" she hissed. Her words caused Joxer to flinch, but at a smile from Strife, he held his ground – conveniently behind Strife's back and not-so-incidentally out of the rang of Eris' fire – though trembles still reverberated through his lanky form.
Consort… Ares thought with pleased surprise. If Joxer had agreed to become Strife's Consort, it meant his and Eris' worries were unfounded. Neither he nor his sister would have to worry about Joxer leaving Strife for Gabriel if that were indeed the case. Becoming a god's Consort was on the same level the same as marriage; the only difference was that a Consort was mortal. Marriages were between gods and other gods, and/or demigods and those who were immortal. Though if Strife steals one of Hera's apples, Joxer could end up being his husband… Ares considered, his spirits plummeting and taking a nosedive as he realized that if that were so, he'd have to put up with Joxer's bumbling self for a long time.
"This is Joxer, soon ta be mah new Consort," Strife reiterated, and this time his words were spoken seriously, letting his mother and uncle know that he'd put all joking aside. "I though ya'd like ta meet 'im."
"Consort?" Eris said in a strangled voice.
Strife's eyes narrowed. "Yeah," he confirmed, looking her square in the eye.
Fury built up inside Eris as she realized that she'd made an idiot of herself in front of her brother worrying over Strife, when it was clear her son could – and had – take care of himself. Feeling a fool, she growled, "The mother's always the last to know," and, resisting the urge to send a fireball at her son, she flashed out of Ares' temple.
"Well…dat went well," Strife said sarcastically, arms folding across his chest.
Joxer rolled his eyes. "Not," he agreed, watching the fading sparkles of blood red and death black fade from sight.
Ares shrugged and, tucking his sword back in its scabbard, leaned nonchalantly against the wall. "Eris never could handle receiving good news," he said, trying to take some of the sting he knew Strife must have been feeling over Discord's rejection away. "She'll probably brood at the bonding ceremony instead of cry."
"Ain't dat da truth," Strife snorted, though he still seemed a tad perturbed at Discord's abrupt exit. Slating his uncle a sideways glance, he asked, "Ya okay wit' dis?" He shrugged one shoulder Joxer's way; the mortal was at that moment examining a tapestry of the battle of the Olympians versus the Titans with interest. Apparently, Discord's departure had made him more comfortable with his surroundings and he now felt safe enough to explore – though not far from Strife's side.
"If he makes you happy," Ares said dismissively, not wanting to get into an in-depth conversation. He had scrolls to attend to, after all. An idea came to his mind as he remembered what he had to go back to – and that while Joxer had never been a very bright warrior, he had grown up in a warlord's family. One of the few talents he did have was the much-coveted and little-possessed among the non-nobility ability to read. "I don't suppose you'd lend him to me occasionally, would you?"
Strife blinked. Joxer's eyes went wide and he quailed behind his intended. "Whaddya mean?" Strife asked guardedly.
"I mean I'm sick and tired of having to go through all these scrolls I get and I've been thinking about getting a secretary," Ares replied swiftly, knowing Strife – and Joxer – most likely thought he wanted to borrow the latter in a sexual manner. No thanks – I prefer women. "But all the other gods and goddesses are busy, and if they aren't, they know nothing about war."
Joxer stared at him disbelievingly. "You want me to be your secretary?" he said slowly, as if testing each new word for their veracity.
Ares nodded. "On a trial basis at first, of course," he added as a qualifier. No sense getting stuck with him for a long stretch if he's not going to work out. Seeing that Joxer was still undecided, he said graciously, "Why don't you think it over? Strife can track me down once you've made up your mind."
A look of elation crossed Joxer's face as he watched the God of War walk back to his private office. He had finally come to terms with the fact that he would never be a great warrior – though it still stung, having been a much-cherished dream for so long – but now he was being given a chance to serve his god in another way, one much more immediate and most likely more helpful. He turned to Strife, suddenly unsure. He was Strife's lover, soon-to-be official Consort. Wouldn't there be a conflict to interest in him serving Ares in such a capacity? "What do you think?" he asked lowly, hoping against hope that Ares' suggestion would meet with approval from his mate. True, conflict of interest would occur, but they'd also probably be working together quite a bit, which would be nice.
Strife gave him a considering look, a fond smile tugging at his lips. "Ah think ya should do it," he said finally, decisively.
Joxer raised one eyebrow, a grin splitting his face. "Really?" he asked.
Strife nodded once and grinned back. "Yeah, Jox. Ah mean, if you're Unc's secretary, den we'd get ta work tagether a lot." He slung one arm across his lover's shoulder. "And Ah know we work well tagether." He waggled his eyebrows leeringly.
Joxer chuckled. "That we do."
Slapping the mortal on the back – careful as always to do it softly enough that it didn't throw Joxer's tenuous equilibrium off-balance – Strife said, "Well, get ta it. Go tell Unc you'll do it before he changes his mind."
Joxer looked shocked at the thought that Ares could be so fickle. "Right away!" he agreed with alacrity, and hightailed it towards Ares' private office. It wouldn't be until much later that he'd realize Strife had been teasing him.
Watching his Consort-to-be exit the room at a near-run, Strife shook his head wonderingly. "Joxer, Secretary to da Gods." He snorted and smirked, seeing potential for lots of mischief in misplaced scrolls and diverted memos. "Who'd a thunk?"