It really wasn't funny at all.

No, it was hillarious...and if he wasn't attempting to blend in he was pretty sure he would be gasping for air just about now.

What was so funny? Well, picture this...the great and terrible Ares, hot-tempered god of war, was currently sulking on the bench with a bloodied nose and a very familiar scowl on his face. His dark red hair was unkempt and his black eyes fixated on the figures running about on the field. Occasionally the black of his irises flickered, revealing flecks of crimson before returning to black too quickly for mortals to notice.

Hermes allowed himself a chuckle and a grin from his spot up in the bleachers, easily tuning out the noisy throng of people around him and focusing on the irate figure of his half-brother huddled down below. There were some things that would never change, no matter how many lifetimes elapsed.

The god sitting among humans was one such example. Although his clothes were modern enough, the T-shirt and sweats did nothing to fully conceal the ancient deity they disguised. The windswept blonde hair which fell partly into his face, freed of the confines of a certain winged cap, shone as brightly as it did the day he appeared before Perseus. His eyes, filled with merriment and promises of mischief, were no different from those of the infant who all those centuries ago crept from his cradle and spirited away Apollo's herds. Sneakered feet tapped incessantly on the flimsy metal, feeling rather heavy after the familiar weight, or lack thereof, of winged sandals.

Alas, however, that he was only one of few who remained completely unchanged.

"You're going to reincarnate yourselves?" Hermes gaped. A couple of his family members snickered at his surprise. He ignored them and stared at his father. "And the point of this is...what?"

Zeus was beginning to acquire the exasperated look which often accompanied a conversation with the messenger god, but nonetheless he brushed off his impatience and proceeded to repeat his explanation for the fourth time.

"Humans have all but forgotten our existence, remembering us only in what are to them nothing more than fanciful myths and legends. Our great temples are reduced to rubble and our names dishonored in every possible way." His hands clenched into fists and thunder sounded off in the distance. "And so we shall be reborn into the mortal realm. Mortals fear what they do not understand, and there is nothing they understand less than one of their own. We shall once again teach them the meaning of respect!"

Hermes tilted his head and raised his hand to stop Zeus mid-rant. "Okay, got it. But one question...don't your memories get sealed whenever you reincarnate?"

" why you shall not be coming with us."

A week later Olympus had emptied of everyone except Hermes and Hestia, who had stated that someone needed to welcome everyone back home. Poseidon disappeared beneath his oceans and Hades remained underground with Persephone. Persephone still stood by her cycle of alternating between the Underworld and Olympus, though her periods down below grew longer with each passing year, casting the Earth's climate into declining chaos. Hermes for his part decided to explore the new lifestyles that mortals had crafted for themselves. The years passed quickly and uneventfully, though there had been a few anxious moments when he accidentally ran into one of his reincarnated family members. The last time had been about ten years ago, when he had bumped into a drunk nineteen year old reincarnation of Hera. He had been forced to utilize all of his cunning to get out of that situation.

Well, now his break was over and Hermes was back to work, his task being to track down the other Olympians and somehow reawaken their memories.

Family member number one: seventeen year old Arnold something-or-another, reincarnation of dear old Ares.

Family member number two: seventeen year old Ivan something-or-another, reincarnation of Hephaestus and Arnold's favorite punching bag.

Hermes grinned, picturing the expressions his brothers were no doubt going to wear after they remembered who they were. Idly he wondered if Aphrodite was somewhere nearby - that would just make things perfect. Still, awakening Ares when he was mad was not the best idea, so perhaps it was better if he went for Hephaestus first.

Later that afternoon found Hermes lounging on a bench in the park, whistling a cheerful tune as he watched Ivan and some geeky kid fiddle with the controller of a sad-looking robot. Ivan wasn't lame like his old flesh, but one of his shoulders rose noticeably higher than the other.

"What to do...what to do..." Hermes hummed and flicked his hand in the direction of Ivan's friend. Immediately the poor kid dashed off, shouting something about needing to go to the bathroom. This left Ivan alone with the robot and a somewhat bored Hermes, the latter of which was never a good idea.

Ivan muttered under his breath as he struggled to unjam the joystick, then stopped and stared as the thing suddenly decided to elongate, twist, and bend of its own accord. With a yelp he dropped the controller and watched the buttons suddenly sprout legs and skip across the plastic.

Quickly he looked around, wondering if anyone else had noticed. Robert had gone to the bathroom, however, and the only other person nearby was a blond teenager who seemed to be intensely interested in a bunch of pigeons fighting over a piece of bread. Ivan looked at his controller again. The buttons and joystick had finally stopped moving and somehow embedded themselves back into the controller in the semblance of a smiley face.

"Oh dear dear dear...lost our touch, have we? Getting scared of a few changes in technology...that is just pathetic, Hephaestus."

Ivan jumped at the unexpected voice and spun to find the teenager standing right behind him, looking down at the controller with a curious expression. How on earth had he moved so fast? And why was he calling him 'Hephaestus'?

The boy tilted his head and grinned. "Remember how in the past I would always be messing around with your junk? Then you'll get angry at me and create all sorts of devious traps to catch me in...but for some reason all of them ended up backfiring thanks to the awesomeness of yours truly." He bowed elegantly.


The boy's grin faded slightly; then he rolled his eyes and lightly thumped himself on the side of the head. "Oh, silly me. Kinda forgot for a moment there...well, nice to meet you, big bro. I'm Hermes. Or Mercury. Or Good-For-Nothing Troublemaker. Depends on who you ask, really."

Ivan was on the verge of phoning a mental facility when the boy snapped his fingers jauntily. There was a whirring sound and Ivan's eyes turned into saucers as the robot suddenly came to life and began to move of its own accord, doing some kind of weird cross between a dance and jumping jacks.

" cute. Can be better though, don'tcha think?" The boy winked and flicked Ivan squarely on the forehead.

The normal reaction was to jump back and yell angrily; maybe throw in a punch or an accusation of harrassment.

Instead Ivan suddenly found that he couldn't move. Images flashed through his head - no, not images...memories... - of a life he had forgotten, of centuries spent in the workshop of the gods...his workshop...

"I suppose I will be going now." Hephaestus lingered in the doorway of his workshop and looked around, wanting to embed the images into his head forever. He remained there for about half a minute before an impatient cough and the sound of tapping feet came from behind him.

"You're as sentimental as a girl!" Hermes complained. "Look, I'll come after you first, so will you just STOP MOPING AND LEAVE ALREADY?"

Back in the present, Hephaestus shook his head and glared at an innocent-looking Hermes.

"How many times have I told you not to mess with my stuff?"

"Erm..." Hermes bit his tongue and began to count on his fingers.

Hephaestus sighed and picked up the ruined controller, suddenly coming to an unwelcome revelation...

Although his memories had returned, his powers would come only when Zeus was found...

Meaning that until Zeus was awakened he, along with the rest of the reincarnated immortals, was completely at the mercy of the god known as the Trickster.