A/N: At LONG last, the combat! Enjoy.
It's All Greek To Me
Despite the chilly breeze wafting over the football field, Puck's hands were already sweating as he gripped the shaft of his spear. The weapon looked like no more than a toothpick compared to the sixteen-foot goddess's spear, and he cast a nervous glance at where his girlfriend-in-goddess-form was perched atop one of the columns surrounding the arena. Poseidon was sitting idly on the column next to her. Puck hoped that they'd enforced his tiny spear with some sort of divine protection to keep it from snapping in two when Athena tried to stab him. Movement to Puck's right caught his eye, and he spotted Eris leaning against Apollo's pillar, her eyes glinting in the shadow of the column as they rapidly changed color in her eager anticipation of the fight. Puck had a feeling that she really didn't give a satyr's ass whether he won or Athena did.
Feeling awfully exposed, he watched as the handful of other minor gods and goddesses grouped around the arena parted to allow another giant through – Puck couldn't help but blanche when he recognized Lauren's father, Zach. Or Zeus, rather. He'd thought that the other Olympians were big, but Zeus stood at a staggering eighteen feet, at the least, with muscles that made Ares look no broader than a broom handle, and small-ish bolts of electricity jumping between his fingers constantly. Puck then realized why it was taking so long for the fight to begin – no event like this could start without Zeus's say-so. Even gods had to wait for their King.
As Zeus made himself comfortable on the column seat reserved for him, the stormy sky overhead rumbled as if it was greeting him. Puck felt a few raindrops land on his head and exposed arms, and he tried to remember the techniques for water and earth manipulation that he'd practiced the day before. He could still feel a light crackle in his veins from Poseidon's powers, but it didn't make him feel any safer with Athena smirking at him from across the arena.
Nervously, Puck flexed his fingers at his sides, glancing at Lauren/Aphrodite in the hopes of receiving some sort of reassuring gesture. Instead, she only quirked an eyebrow at him expectantly, and he decided right then and there that if he was going to end up in the Underworld, he was going to train Cerberus to bite Aphrodite's ass off.
"Begin," said Zeus, sounding bored.
The order caught Puck off-guard, and it took him a moment to realize that Athena's spear was suddenly hurtling through the air straight for him. His reflexes kicked in just in time as he slid forward, allowing the tip of the spear to fly just over his head and embed itself in the foot of the column behind him. Persephone, who had up until then been idly twirling her hair around her finger and not paying attention to the goings-on inside the ring, yelped and steadied herself, snapping, "Watch it, Wise-Owl!"
Puck scrambled to his feet, keeping an iron grip on his own spear as Athena grinned. They tensely circled around each other, Athena smiling all the while as she spun her shield, making a show of saying she didn't take him seriously. Annoyed, Puck said the first thing that came to mind.
"…You really need a shield against a guy as tall as your knee?"
Athena's grin vanished, and her jaw clenched. The rest of the spectators laughed lightly, enjoying the jab at their sister. Eris was on the sidelines, jumping from foot to foot, cackling and clapping her hands at Puck's joke.
Athena's eyes flared, and she flung the shield out of the ring, making several of her minor relatives leap out of the way. "You would do well not to provoke me, boy," she said lowly, her eyes beginning to glow an icy bluish-grey.
"I didn't think a mortal could provoke you," Puck retorted, not really sure why he was goading her when his heart was skipping every other beat.
More chuckles from the audience, and Athena's eyes flashed again. The air rippled around her. She yanked her spear out of Persephone's column with enough force to tilt it, making Persephone shriek indignantly a second time.
"Squish him like a bug!" Puck heard Artemis cheer, and felt an urge to punch her despite the fact that he couldn't reach above her waistline, at the most. He made a mental note to do so as soon as she changed back into her human form.
Athena's smirk was back. "Come on, boy. Make your move."
"Ladies first," he sneered.
Puck spotted the spear tip sweeping along the ground towards his legs just in time to jump over it, but he wasn't expecting Athena to whip her arm back again, allowing the spear shaft to crash into Puck's legs and flip him violently onto his back. He coughed and spit bits of grass and dirt out of his mouth, pushing himself up again. That was definitely going to leave a bruise.
"You see, boy?" Athena said smoothly. "You're no match for an Olympian."
"It's still early," Puck replied waspishly, flipping his spear to his other hand. He knew she was toying with him; another way of saying she didn't take him seriously. She circled around the outer edge of the ring again, making Puck move in the opposite direction to stay out of her reach. A little red flag popped up in the back of his mind, though, and he remembered what Poseidon had said just before the fight: If you feel at any time like she's trying to get you to go to a certain spot or make a certain move, do the opposite.
Going against his instincts, Puck stopped and moved towards the center of the ring. Athena stopped as well, frowning at him in confusion for a split second before the expression faded. "That's not really an advantageous position, boy," Athena advised sagely.
"Neither is being up against the wall," Puck snapped. "And is there a reason you're staying away from me? Afraid I'm going to jab your toe?" He flashed a cocky grin at her. He knew that he couldn't fight her with any semblance of combat strategy he could come up with, but he was becoming more and more confident in his ability to rile her up enough so that she'd make a mistake.
There were a few low "oo-oohs" from Ares, Apollo, and several of the minors, and Athena glared at Puck for a moment.
…And then attacked.
In only the blink of an eye, Puck was pinned to the ground with the butt of Athena's spear, which was almost as wide as his chest and pressing down with so much weight that he was sure his ribs were cracking.
"You insubordinate cockroach!" Athena roared, her voice rumbling out of the cavern of her throat. The skin around her eyes darkened, making her eyes flare even brighter.
"Crush him!" Artemis yelled again.
Eris cackled and spun round in an excited circle, her hair spiking up of its own accord.
Thunder cracked through the darkening clouds overhead, and as the rain began to shower the arena, Puck felt the energy in his veins intensify. He gritted his teeth and forced himself to forget the spectators and concentrate solely on Athena's seething face.
Athena suddenly bellowed in pain as she was pelted with boiling rain, the water leaving scald marks up and down her arms. The butt of her spear remained where it was, however, and Puck adjusted his concentration so that she was abruptly caught in a whirlwind of hailstones. The chunks of ice clanked against her helmet and tore small holes in her clothing, doing no real damage but giving Athena just enough of a painful distraction to make her forget about pinning her opponent down.
The moment her spear lifted a few inches, Puck rolled out of the way as Athena shrieked and batted at the attacking ice chunks. He heard Ares whoop in excitement from atop his pillar. "Go, little man, go!" shouted the war god cheerily.
"Ares, I'm going to shove you into a vase and leave you there for a thousand years, you moronic brute!" Athena yelled from inside the ice tornado.
Puck wasn't an expert with his new abilities, however, and his concentration only lasted a few more seconds before the hailstones flew out of their previous path and scattered across the arena, leaving a slightly dizzy and absolutely livid goddess in their wake. She didn't waste any time before lunging at Puck with her spear, swearing to Mount Olympus that she was going to feed him to her pet tarantulas when she was done with him.
Puck barely managed to jump to the left, the barb of her spear slicing through the skin on his shoulder. He hissed through his teeth at the fresh sting, but brought his concentration back to the arena. Gripping his spear as Athena brought her own back into position for a second strike, he lifted it over his head and stabbed it into the ground at his feet with as much strength as he could muster. The dirt split open, tearing a long crack through the grass that widened and widened until it went right under Athena's feet. She stumbled and tried to keep her balance, but the earth pulled apart so abruptly that she sank into the hole up to her neck, screeching furiously.
Quickly, Puck yanked the crack shut again before Athena had a chance to pull herself out, sealing her into the ground so that only her head was exposed.
"You cheating imbecile!" she yelled. "I want a rematch!"
Puck grinned as he approached her. "This match isn't over yet," he smirked. "You still have the chance to beat me."
She snarled and squirmed against the walls of her tiny prison, the skin around her eyes darkening again.
"Oh, wait, I forgot…" Puck said lightly, making it clear that he didn't take her seriously. "You're the goddess of arts and crafts, not earth. I'm sure you can get some help from Hephaestus or Poseidon. …Maybe." He reached around her ears and grabbed the rims of her gigantic helmet, lifting it off of her head. Ignoring her loud protests, he tossed it to the side, letting it roll to a stop on the grass with its plume limply dragging in the wet dirt.
"Okay, now it's over."
There was a long moment of shocked silence, and then the minor gods erupted into cheers. Aphrodite jumped down from her seat, laughing as she ran towards him, shrinking into her human form as she went. Poseidon also came over to congratulate Puck, clapping him on the back hard enough to make Puck's ribs hurt. "Excellent show, boy!" Lauren's uncle chuckled.
Puck felt even more energetic now than he had before or during the fight. He was giddy with his victory, not having fully absorbed the fact that he – a mortal Lima loser – had kicked an ancient goddess's butt. Ares was looming over him but sending Puck an odd look of approval. Apollo had shrunk back into Paul in order to give Puck a high five without hurting him, and his twin sister was back in the arena, helping Persephone try to pull a very pissed-off Athena out of the ground.
"Oh, and now that you don't need them any more," Poseidon said, aiming his trident at Puck's head. "I'll be having my powers back, thank you."
Puck suddenly felt as if his veins were being ripped out of his body, and he went rigid for a split second before falling backwards onto the wet ground with a thud.
"…Did he just pass out?" Paul said, peering down at the mortal in their midst.
Poseidon nodded. "I believe he did." He clicked his tongue. "Humans."
Lauren rolled her eyes at her uncle and knelt down to pull her unconscious boyfriend onto his feet again. Puck's head lolled to the side, but his eyes opened groggily and he managed a garbled, "Whaa?"
"Come on, Puckerman, stand up," Lauren chided. "We've gotta get some food in you before you collapse like a girl again."
"Denny's 'gain?" Puck slurred hopefully, trying to maintain his balance, but failing miserably.
Lauren laughed. "How about Breadsticks? My treat."
A/N: Hope you liked this. Leave a review and let me know what you think :)