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Dealing With the Unexpected

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The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and Ares, Deimos, Hercules, and Iolaus were fighting.

Deimos ducked under Hercules' fist and cackled.  "Missed me, missed me, now you gotta—umph!"  Hercules' other fist had sent him flying across the courtyard into a stack of barrels.

"Strike!" Iolaus cheered, diving between Ares' legs, then catching himself and kicking backwards.

Ares staggered forward, then righted himself and turned with a snarl.  "Delighted to."  He wound up and let fly with a fireball.

Iolaus rolled to the side and the fireball smashed into a barrel, detonating with an impressive sound and fury.  Everyone ducked as another series of explosions went off.

A moment later as the popping subsided, Deimos untangled his arms from where they were wrapped protectively around his head and looked curiously at the white stuff scattered all around him.  "When in Hades did it snow?" he muttered, picking up a fluffy white piece and peering at it closely.  He shrugged and tossed it into his mouth.  Two crunchy chomps later his grin nearly engulfed his ears.

Ares raised an incredulous brow as Deimos stuffed another handful into his mouth.  "Hey, we're a little busy here.  That's your problem, you know?  You just don't focus."

"Look, mister big bad god of war, sir, just try some?"

Ares heaved a melodramatic sigh then scooped up a handful.  He masticated thoughtfully, then materialized a saltshaker, applied it, and tried another piece.  "Damn," he commented to no one in particular, "ambrosia has nothing on this stuff."

"What in Tartarus?"  Hercules, hands on hips, was regarding the gods with an expression of total disbelief.

"Here, try some."

Hercules looked at the white stuff in Ares' hand, then shook his head.

"Fine.  More for me."

The sound of munching came from behind Hercules.


He managed an innocent expression while swallowing rapidly.  "As much as I hate to agree with Ares—" they exchanged sneers "—this stuff is actually pretty good."

Ares proffered his handful again.

With only slightly more reluctance than he had faced the daughters of Thespius, Hercules selected a piece and began chewing.  A number of expressions dashed across his face and Ares smirked.  "Well?"

Ducking his head, Hercules mumbled something.

"Why, was that 'Thank you, Ares, my dearest brother, once again I stand enlightened by your discernment'?"

Hercules' head jerked up—Iolaus and Deimos held their breaths—then he smiled sweetly and appropriated the rest of Ares' handful and the saltshaker.  "Pass the salt, please."

Ares' mouth worked for a few seconds, then he threw back his head and laughed.

Iolaus seized the opportunity.  "Hey, Ares, running a bit low here."

Still grinning, Ares blasted another barrel.

"I'm gonna be sick," Iolaus muttered.

Ares could barely muster the energy to glare.  "Do it over there."

"Ooh..."  Iolaus fell back with a groan.  "I never should have suggested the butter."

"No, no," Hercules rallied to reassure his partner, "wazza good idea."

"I still think anchovies—"

"Ugh!"  The other three shouted Deimos down.

"On second thought, you can be sick there."  Ares weakly indicated Deimos.

"Can't move that far."

A moment passed.

"What were we fighting about?"

"Dunno.  Don' care."

Gradually, the birds resumed singing, counterpointed only by the rumbles of stressed digestive tracks.

This story brought to you by the letter A, the number 4, last minute panic, and way too much microwave popcorn.  Dedicated to Candace.