LbN: A continuation of my weird spin-offs to Fembuck's "Turnabout" series. Seriously, go read those first. "Turnabout is Fair Play", "Light My Fire", "The Best Laid Plans", "Afternoon with Athena", and "Family Feud". All gold. :)
Aphrodite's apartments were a bit different than the other Olympians. Many thought there would be mirrors galore, but there weren't. No, her home was decorated in a way you could call an exotic elegance. She was no stranger to animal print, but it was far from tacky. As for mirrors…She didn't need millions of them—she knew how beautiful she was. There was exactly one in the entire place. It was currently in use, but the Goddess of Love wasn't looking at herself.
"I know that smile. Please tell me it's not mine you're watching."
"As delicious as I find it that Clarisse inherited your stamina," Aphrodite began, "no. It's one of the sons of Apollo this time."
"No…rather boring. But the love is basically radiating from them."
Ares snorted and dropped onto the couch. Scratching himself, he said, "Despite my enthusiasm for embarrassing the piss out of my children, I don't actually want to talk about anything you…er…happen to notice."
"Respected, darling," Aphrodite said with a grin. "But speaking of your little Draken slayer…do you know what she's up to at the moment?"
Ares furrowed his brow. "No idea…why?"
"Needed to talk to her."
Aphrodite huffed. "If you must know…she and Annabeth have some questions that need answering. Athena's being a prude and told Annabeth not to ask, so I'm going with the child whose curiosity comes with no restraint or sense of responsibility."
"I almost want to know where this is going," he said, standing up. "Almost." With that, he flashed his junk at her and strode out of the room.
Shaking her head and grinning, Aphrodite put her viewing portal back on her dresser. She had an errand to run.
Clarisse grumbled to herself as she slipped back into the shadows of Hecate cabin. Ever since Jackson had gone running his mouth about Annabeth's and her brief detour during capture the flag, the Athena cabin had made it its mission to protect their cabin leader's virtue. That meant sneaking over after patrol was thirty times harder. Sure, she could've written them up for being out after dark, but she figured Annabeth would prefer not to have booty call rumors going around.
"Perhaps I can help?" an amused voice offered.
Clarisse jumped and turned to see the goddess of love standing near the trees. "Er…hello," she said. She didn't have much contact with other gods.
"Don't worry. I'm not here to set a monster on you or anything," the goddess said. "Let's walk to the Athena cabin, and we'll talk."
As they walked, Clarisse noticed that Annabeths siblings sort of just wandered away from them. "We're cloaked somehow, aren't we?"
"I don't need to speak for my powers of persuasion to work. Now, to business. You and Annabeth are supremely entertaining."
Clarisse blushed. "She called you too, then?"
"Even if she hadn't, I would've seen. I'm the goddess of love, after all. And your feelings for each other are louder than Pirates of the Caribbean at the IMAX."
Clarisse chuckled a bit at this and fidgeted with her camp necklace.
"Not trying to embarrass you," Aphrodite said with a smile. "I wanted to offer you something. A small deal of sorts."
Clarisse was instantly on alert again. Deals from gods, especially the ones who weren't responsible for your birth, had to be taken very seriously. "I'm listening."
"The two of you have been wondering about another…um…technique, shall we call it? It's very possible."
Clarisse was glad it was dark; because she was sure her face was as red as a cherry.
"I'll…send you some instructions, if you want."
"And what would you want in return?" Clarisse asked slowly.
"An offering, but not one of the normal ones you children do at dinner." She clicked her fingers, and a box appeared.
For one moment, Clarisse was afraid that the goddess intended to give her a pair of shoes. It was a truly horrifying thought, since the girls of the Aphrodite cabin saw nothing wrong with walking around the woods in six inch heels. Upon closer examination, however, her fear dissipated. She let out a happy squeal and said, "A dragon head incense burner! I've been looking all over for one!"
"I know. I remembered you mentioning it to Annabeth the last time you two were on Olympus. There's Olympian incense inside. My three favorite types: vanilla, lotus, and orange spice. Burn one of each the next time you and Annabeth are…feeling frisky."
Clarisse nodded, smiling down at her gift. "That's it? That's the offering?"
"Using a gift from a god is basically the same thing," Aphrodite said with a shrug. "We hate to be refused. Just light a few of those up and I'll…walk you through it. In your head, of course. It'll refill itself, so any other questions, just ask Auntie A." With one last smile, she disappeared.
Clarisse looked up. She was right outside of Annabeth's window. With a grin, she tapped the glass twice and climbed into the room.
Aphrodite took her book off the shelf. It was the only one she had, and therefore, the only one she could use in her defense when Athena called her an "illiterate bimbo." According to her loving sister, it didn't count as a real book. She disagreed, of course. This was history! Just…not the sort Athena was used to.
She opened the book just as the first whiffs of vanilla began to fill the room. Patience was not a virtue the leader of the Ares cabin possessed, luckily. Small tendrils of scented smoke rose up and turned the pages of the book until they landed on a blank one. They swirled around the top of the page, finally spelling out "Annabeth and Clarisse". The goddess of love smiled brightly, excited for her new entry. She'd seen loads of people do this before, of course, but never two demigods. And demigods were the only ones allowed in this book. Gently, she reached out and grabbed her viewing mirror from the dresser.
Time to hold up her end of the bargain.