Materializing into the Halls of Wall, Discord eyed the empty chamber and muttered, "Damn it, Ares. I'm here on time, so where the fuck are you?"
She stalked over to a stand holding shields and knocked it over. The resounding clangs failed to produce a response. Scowling, Discord nibbled at her nails. She didn't do the patience-thing well, preferred not to do it at all, but supposed she should give the bastard a few more minutes to make an appearance. A small pain in her forefinger alerted her to the fact that she had gnawed her nail to the quick. Shit. A small flare of power repaired her manicure, but not her temper. So she tried a larger application, blowing apart a statue of Ares. She smiled at the rubble, a definite improvement to the room's decor.
But still no arrogant, insufferable, violent, gorgeous— Screw it. She was outta here. Discord took a last look around, and, inevitably, her attention was caught by Ares' throne. Sitting on the corpse of one's enemy, now that was style. She walked over to it, then ran an admiring hand over the giant bleached bones and sharp metal edges.
This particular enemy, though, she couldn't understand. After all, he had blasted Ephialtes' body into nothingness, so why keep Otus' as a permanent reminder of his defeat? All of Olympus had been shocked that long ago day by his appearance: skin gray, face slack, unable to stand on his own, flinching away from sudden movements. She could almost have felt sorry for him if she hadn't been too busy silently cursing Hermes for saving his miserable life.
Well, someday she would make a throne out of Ares' bones. Until then... After casting a wary glance around the still empty room, she seated herself, back straight and chin lifted high. "Discord, Goddess of War," she announced to the room. Now that had a certain ring to it.
In her mind's eye, she conjured a horde of devoted worshippers groveling before her. She settled contentedly back. And back...and back... Scowling, she struggled upright. After a deep breath, she once again imagined her worshippers, this time laying bloodied weapons at her feet.
Her feet. Which were dangling a good six inches above the floor.
Discord shoved herself out of the stupid chair. She had turned to leave when she heard a voice. Her fists clenched. She should just go, but— Damn it, she was a goddess, and not to be ignored. She went in search of the voice.
As she drew closer, the sounds got clearer. Grunt, moan. Grunt, moan. Discord came to a halt outside of Ares' bedchamber. What she wanted was a brass jar; what she settled for was yanking the door open, hard enough that it tore off its hinges.
The two on the bed didn't even notice the crash of the door hitting the floor. Ares continued to thrust into the mortal writhing beneath him.
Her hand was raised and readied for a lightening bolt when a much better idea occurred. She walked over, leaned down, and dropped her voice to a purr. "Does the big bad god of war need help breaking in his new fuck-toy? So glad you called."
She didn't dodge in time to avoid his fist. But she laughed from where she lay sprawled on the floor. She'd gladly take another hundred such blows to see that expression on his face again.
Ares came with a shout, pushed himself off the bed, and turned to her. Discord rolled to her feet. It didn't help—he still loomed over her. Scary, but she'd rather be fucked by 'Dite than show it, so she kept a smirk plastered on her face.
Some expression she couldn't read glimmered in his eyes, but when he spoke, his voice was calm. "I have a job for you. Come."
Discord followed him out of the room. The son of a bitch hadn't bothered to dress, and she knew—knew perfectly well—he was staying naked just to taunt her. Nonetheless, she couldn't take her eyes off his butt.
When they arrived at his war room, Ares selected a map and spread it across a table. She managed to yank her gaze up to his face just before he looked over at her.
"This latest turn the Persian war has taken is not good," he said.
Discord scrambled for an intelligent reply. "But I thought we were winning..."
"Yes," Ares rolled his eyes, "and while driving Xerxes back to Persia is all very well, I don't like this new Delian League—it gives Athens too much power. And I have no desire to see our sister's city gain ascendance over the rest of Greece."
"Ah." She tried to make the syllable sound knowing.
Ares gave her an impatient frown, then returned to the map. A stab of his finger indicated a city on the north Aegean coast. "This is Eion. Currently Persian, but besieged by a Greek army under Cimon, an Athenian general. Now Eion must fall, of course, but not too quickly, and not for the glory of Athens.
"I want a subtle disruption to the siege. Drag it out. Make Cimon appear incompetent. Sow Discord."
She smiled, still fighting the impulse to stare at his body. "My pleasure."
"Remember I said 'subtle.'" He shook his head warningly. "I can't be perceived as taking overt action against Greek soldiers—that would only drive more worshippers to Athena. No one, god or mortal, is to know of your presence."
Discord shrugged and replied, "No prob. I'm off." Her flash-out was interrupted by a hand closing around her throat.
Ares effortlessly lifted her until she was even with his face. "By the way, fix the things in my throne room first."
He knew. He knew! And had ignored her. She didn't quite dare fling power, so hurled words instead. "Go fuck yourself!"
His lips curved into a bone-melting smile. "No, no... Business now, pleasure later."
He shoved her away.
She left, via the throne room.
She cringed from the mental bellow. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and appeared in the Halls of War.
Ares was pacing restlessly around the room.
"Three months," he stated almost conversationally. "Three months. I wouldn't have thought this task so far beyond your—admittedly limited—capabilities. But now, three measly months later, Cimon is back in Athens, a hero, and making offerings at Athena's shrine."
"But Hercules showed up and—"
He flung himself into his throne and covered his eyes with a dramatic hand. "But Hercules this. But Hercules that. Boo. Hoo. Can't you ever do anything right?"
"It was my apple that started the Trojan War!"
"Oh yes, I had forgotten... After all, you've reminded me only a million times over the last seven centuries!"
Discord couldn't control her flinch. She turned away to keep him from reading her expression.
He crossed the room to stand behind her, not touching, but close enough that she could feel his heat along the entire line of her body. His breath brushed her ear when he spoke in a seductive whisper, and it took a moment for the words to register.
"That was your only success out of how many failures? I think you just got lucky."
She turned with a snarl, but he was already back on his throne, amusement plain on his face. "Like you've done any better against that bastard half-breed," she taunted.
Amusement instantly transformed to rage. "Come here," he commanded, voice rumbling around the chamber like Zeus' thunder.
Ares threw fire at her. The blast flung her against the far wall. She gritted her teeth against a groan, struggled to her feet, and glared at Ares.
"Don't—" he raised a warning finger "—make me give that order again."
She found herself stumbling towards him, and was within arm's length before she stopped. Quicker than thought, he grabbed the back of her neck and yanked her the remaining distance. She shrieked—a girlish sound that she hated—but it was muffled against his mouth.
The God of War should not have such soft lips, or the knowledge of how to use them so effectively. His beard prickled her chin as he shifted the angle of the kiss. Her lips parted under the pressure and his tongue slid in and out of her mouth in a teasing promise. No. No, he was up to something. She had screwed up. She...couldn't think. Maybe another blast of fire would cool her down.
She was trembling by the time he pulled back. He studied her face for a moment, his expression pleased, then said, "Start with my foot and lick your way up." He began to push her to the floor.
Gasping for breath, she shook her head.
Ares quirked an eyebrow, then pulled her into another kiss.
The best mouth on Olympus. She couldn't remember who had said that. Didn't care. Didn't— This time when he shoved her down, she went.
The boot leather was rough, the silver ornamentation cool; the texture smoothed as she reached his pants. She licked up his inner thigh. Soon she would have that cock in her mouth if she had to gnaw through the leather to get at it. She nuzzled into his groin, then froze again. His cock was soft. She looked up into his triumphant face.
"You think far too much of yourself," he said. His expression changed to disgust as he vanished.
Discord was silent for an eternal second. Then fury broke though shock.
"I hate you!" she screamed, smashing her fists down on the throne.
"Hate you!" The bone cracked.
"Hate you!" The throne crumbled, and Discord crouched in the wreckage. Hands clenched, she rocked back and forth. Not as much as I hate myself.
Time passed. She wasn't sure how long she had knelt there when an inane voice interrupted her trance.
"Hiya, Mom! Oooh, Unc Ares is going to be, like, sooooooo pissed when he sees this mess!"
Discord turned to glare at Strife. "Go away," she said quietly, carefully enunciating each syllable. "I never want to see your face again."
The young god, apparently sensing for once that his presence wasn't wanted, backed away. "Um, yeah, whatever... Later," he replied, then disappeared.
She slowly rose to her feet and dusted off her hands. A second later, the Hall was empty.
Time heals all wounds. Dumb-ass mortal saying. She was a goddess, had all the time in the world, and her humiliation still stung as if it had occurred only yesterday.
Still—finally!—today wasn't turning out badly. The Festival of Love, spread out below her rooftop vantage point, had erupted into a brawl. She wiggled in delight as fists met flesh in a satisfying cacophony. A few peace-mongers still stood on the sidelines, trying to calm the mob. Discord sent a stream of broken black hearts their way, and laughed out loud when they piled into the fight.
The human tide surged from one side of the square to the other, then ejected a member, who went crashing into the shrine to love. Food, wine, and other offerings splattered everywhere. Discord applauded. The unfortunate missile scrambled out of the mess, angrier than ever, and piled back into the fray.
She was laughing again when she sensed the presence of another immortal materializing next to her. No doubt it was that stupid blond bimbo looking for a confrontation. Well, Discord was ready to rain all over her parade.
Summoning her best glower, she turned to face the intruder.
She blinked several times, but the pink lingerie failed to appear. Damn. She had been looking forward to a fight.
"What?" she snapped as the god continued to stand there.
"Um, Discord, this is news you probably don't want to hear..."
She rolled her eyes. "Spit it out, feather-foot."
He dug in his bag, then slowly extended a scroll to her. "It's, uh, the funeral invitation," he said weakly.
"Why do I give a shit that some human died? And what are you doing carrying the invitations?"
The messenger god wouldn't meet her eyes. "Not a mortal," he muttered, "it's Strife."
The roof had vanished from beneath her feet. She was falling, falling endlessly... I never want to see your face again.
Discord grabbed Hermes and yanked him close. "What. Happened."
He told her.
Discord exploded into the Halls of War.
Ares, lounging across his throne, didn't move, even as the shockwave of her arrival blasted the carefully arrayed trophies from their stands.
Discord stormed across the hall, leaned in close, and screamed, "You got my son killed, you bastard!"
"Like you care?" he asked, not bothering to look her. "You treated him worse than I did."
Driven beyond rage, she responded with power.
Ares' throne simply disintegrated. The god himself was flung across the room, smashing into the far wall. Ares had begun twisting to his feet when Discord caught up with him.
Bones shattered under her fist and she howled satisfaction.
Ares tried to roll away, but he was now moving with something less than his usual grace. Her kick smashed him into the wall again. This time he didn't try to rise—just lay there, twisted and broken, his face still turned away from her.
She flung herself down on him, grabbing handfuls of hair to force his head around. "Look at me, damn you!" Discord screamed. "Look at me!"
Ares opened his eyes.
Discord searched his face. Those beautiful features were devoid of emotion, more empty than she had ever imagined they could be. None of the derision with which he usually regarded her. No sneer. No mockery. Nothing, not even anger at her abuse.
Her abuse... Discord's gaze fixed on the blood trickling from the corner of his mouth. In the millennia of practice bouts, in all the times she'd struck out, she'd never actually hit him. He was too fast, too strong, too skilled at being War...
And War doesn't cry. This was the only way he could express guilt, or sorrow. Her eyes met his in sudden comprehension.
"Eris," he whispered and lifted a hand, and ever so gently, he touched her cheek.
Something inside her broke. She drew a ragged breath, still looking into his eyes, and felt wetness run down her face.
War doesn't cry. She would have to shed the tears for both of them.