Part 1 Part 2
Title: A Map of the World (1/6)
Disclaimer: Don't own any of them, but aren't they all pretty.
Pairings: A/J, C/S, Hades/Pep, and others that I'm still getting into
Notes: This is an AU and is based on the novel `Chloe' by Freya
North. For all of you people in the UK, you probably know who the
heck she is. I must be crazy to have started this in the first place.
Damn plot bunnies!
Summary: Strife is sent by his deceased Godfather Jayce on a globe
spanning trip. Cupid is a painter who sees him for the first time at
the Metropolitan Opera. Ares and Joxer are his strange uncles that
support Erin thru letters and advice. Since we know it's Strife,
chaos will must likely ensue.
A Map of the World
Part 1: New York, New York
I know how much my untimely demise must have struck an
unpleasant emotion in your being. For that, I apologize dearly, for
time and death makes no apology to anyone. Strange really that I
should leave so close to winter, as if the season marked itself for
my passing. Utter mawkishness, I tell you. Well, enough melodrama
from one tired old soul; time for the present and living.
As my favorite godson, I leave to your possession anything in
my closets made of leather, silk, and of highly unusual, at least to
the taste of your uncles, fabrics. I've always seen you as a person
who is capable of pulling off any outfit that is set before you but
was too afraid and shy to try. This is a step in to getting out of
your dumpy attire. Don't think negative thoughts, sweetie. I'm doing
this for your own good. I also leave in your loving hands the
turquoise ring, to my delight is all the rage among the younger set
these days. It should look wonderful with that leather jacket that
you always wanted. Don't bother denying it. I've seen you secretly
wear both, the ring and the jacket. And lastly, I bequeath to you a
small legacy of $100,000. Do not use this money for any purpose
except to travel and leave New York. I want to give you an
opportunity to spread your wings and experience the world, to which
this day I strongly berate your mother for not doing for you. I know
that the world is large and you probably wouldn't know the first
place to go. I'll save you the trouble and point you in the right
direction. With this letter is a map of your first destination of
four. If you haven't seen it yet, then you will know later that it's
a map of England. I'll be sending you off to your cousin Persephone
and her husband Hades. They live in Elysium Court, a manor in the
outskirts of Oxford. They are expecting your imminent arrival.
If I know you as you are, you are worried about your
obligations and of that wonderful boyfriend (I use the
term `wonderful' loosely, of course), then postpone the former and
dump the latter. You're still young and you can always finish your
schooling after a year away. As for your boyfriend, my loving Erin, I
stand by my convictions saying that you deserve better. Apollo is a
libertine unworthy of your time and attention.
My beloved, trust in your godfather and enjoy yourself. It
will be a life-altering experience. I'll miss you and believe, my
young mischief. Just remember that we have forever in the stars and
be blissfully happy when the opportunity comes. You may never have it
Love you always
* * *
Erin Olympus gaped at the letter that was left to him by the
lawyers after his they read Jayce's will. He has sitting quietly in
the corner of one of the city's coffee shops that doesn't have `star'
or `bucks' in it's name. The small table in front of him was as
cluttered as the space could allow with term papers, the latest novel
by Neil Gaiman, his messenger bag, and a cup of the café's double
mocha espresso. He still didn't have any plan or decision after
reading the letter for the fifteenth time. He sighed dismissively and
held up the envelop marked `England' on it.
It has been a month since his Uncle Jayce's death, after a
long struggle of a year with cancer. Much like his life, Jayce
celebrated his last months enjoying life as if the next day was when
the reaper was going to steal it. Erin smiled fondly as Jayce's
upstate house garnered such attention from visiting friends for
various walks of life. In Jayce's last week, Erin remembered; a monk
from China; an old Russian emerge of dubious royal pedigree; and a
honest to God Texan oil baron were among the many to have visited
him. His funeral became a grand affair with people from all over the
world talking, often giving outrageous stories, about Jayce. Erin
smiled at just how popular his flamboyant godfather was. A good many
cried and drank in his honor. Erin proved this be the amount of
people he had to bail from the local precinct for vagrancy and
disturbing the peace.
In reality, Erin misses him so much that a hole was left
gaping in his heart.
So now, as he stared at the letter that the lawyers have left
for him, a trillion thoughts battled for his notice. School was no
problem since he only had to do his dissention to graduate. He could
always hold off a year, like what the letter suggested. He would
definitely have to quit his job since he was frequently frustrated at
his occupation as a teacher's assistant and sometimes secretary for
the dour; and frigid as what his Uncle Ares would say; Professor
Athena of the Philosophy department. He sided with him on that
account since Prof. Athena was the least liked teacher in the whole
NYU. And as for Apollo, well, he would have to think about that one.
Erin looked at his Rolex watch and balked. He was late for
his date with Apollo at the Opera House. Quickly, he stuffed
everything into his bag and practically guzzled the now tepid drink
down his throat. He would need the caffeine to deal with everything
else after reading that letter.
* * *
Cupid Lovesworth eyed the crowd that gathered around at the
lobby of the Metropolitan Opera House wearily. The people looking at
his small work of paintings were either waiting for the matinee
of `La Boheme' or admiring his work that he contributed to the Opera
House's yearly exhibit for up and coming artists from all fields of
art. Not that he was proud that someone finally took notice and
displayed his work; it was just that he was so uncomfortable with the
pretentious crowd of socialites and wanna-be socialites.
Another reason was that his manager and wife, soon to be ex-
wife, was milling about and promoting him like he was the greatest
thing since Pollock. As of the New Year, they would be divorced and
he would have complete custody of their son, Bliss. At least one good
thing came out of being married for five years.
Some hubbub near the entrance drew Cupid's green eyes there.
A young, lanky man in his early twenties came rushing to the door and
looked about for someone. The man checked his watch and cursed some
unheard expletive, which Cupid could imagine as something colorful.
Further inspection of the man piqued at Cupid's aesthetic
senses. He had pale skin; much like porcelain. The wild hair and the
glasses spoke of hours peering over texts and other academic stuff
that Cupid never hopes to understand. His clothes were everyday jeans
and plain shirts that made him so ordinary. Strangely, the only truly
distinguishing feature was the wild stormy blue eyes that shone
through the spectacles. Once the subject of his scrutiny stopped
being a frenetic force and calmed down, he resigned to peruse the
exhibit. Cupid had to smile. He was the best distraction all
The next thing he knew, the guy started humming. Cupid
chuckled when he recognized the tune of it. `Of all the places to
hear Billy Joel," thought Cupid as his subject wandered along and
stopped one of his paintings. After a few minutes of study, he
laughed as loud as he could in the lobby, much to Cupid's
delight. `He must have read the name of the painting,' surmised
Cupid, grinning like this was the best treat given to a dog.
The warning bell for the Opera sounded and the crowd dwindled
as most of them left to get into the theater. The young man was still
looking at the paintings when another man, this time a curly blond
with an arrogance that even Cupid could feel without meeting the man,
hugged the former quickly and dragged him inside. Once out of sight,
Cupid already missed the pale beautiful man who hummed `For the
Longest Time' in the middle of the Opera House.
* * *
Breaking up with Apollo was surprisingly easy as Erin caught
him red-handed at a party of some mutual acquaintances. While looking
for something to drink that was agreeable to his disposition, Erin
came quite casually to find his now ex-boyfriend locking lips with
some hussy in some red fabric that claimed to be a dress. He tapped
him on the shoulders and gave him his walking papers before out of
the party with a bottle of the host's best Sauvignon-Cabernet and at
least a dozen phone numbers. Rumor has it that he not only vacated
Apollo's belongings for his cramped apartment, but also did a ritual
burning of them along with several of Apollo's exes in the middle of
his lecture. Apollo was an art teacher with a perchance for nude
sketching and nude models.
"Good for you, Strife!" beamed his Uncle Joxer who was
lounging on a boudoir that is brother Jayce often enjoyed when he
came visiting in the city. Both of them are 2/3's of triplets.
Ares, Joxer's life partner, merely grunted his approval as he
passed Joxer his Bourbon. Erin planned to tell Ares the more explicit
details as he figured that Joxer's sensibilities won't commend
certain words used in Apollo's humiliation.
All three of them were having their traditional Sunday lunch
at the townhouse in Central Park West that Ares and Joxer inherited
from Jayce. They've been having these brunches ever since Erin
started college at NYU. Jayce always insisted that Erin have a weekly
dose of worldly culture, and since he couldn't be there to enforce
that edict because they live in the city, Ares and Joxer happily took
up that task. Every Sunday, Joxer would start with a meal from a
different country each time. Next, he would expose the young man to a
different encounter. Last time, it was the ballet, much to Ares'
chagrin. If Ares had his way, Erin would be exposed to as much gore
and violence as possible. So as a compromise, they would trade off
each Sunday as to what they would do after lunch. The week before
last was held at the Shaolin Kung-Fu Show at Broadway.
"So what do you think I should do about Jayce's last wish?"
Erin asked his two uncles while trying to digest that delicious Penne
with Truffle sauce with a glass of Chianti.
"Isn't it obvious?" countered Joxer who watched Ares with
leering eyes as he lifted weights. After the last reps, Ares stood up
and sat down beside Joxer. After getting a good whiff of him, Joxer
said, "Hmmmm, luscious and sweaty! My favorite combination." Ares
just chuckled and hugged Joxer tight in a hold of musk and
Erin rolled his eyes. "As much as I love living vicariously
through the both of you, please be serious and tell me what to do."
Ares straightened up his posture, much like an heir that he
was trained to be since birth. It helps when you are the eldest of a
clan of businessmen who go way back in the annals of history. "Oh for
heavens sake, just do as what the letter says and go on that trip.
Jayce left you enough money to have you set for 2 years. Why
"Besides, he did want you to go spread your wings and all.
You've been a wonderful, but insular child. It was divine
intervention that Jayce took you under his wing and showed you things
that precious few in this city have seen in real life. Your mother
would have left you to your own devices which would have left you a
painfully shy and meek person. Hell, most of your high points in life
happened because of Jayce's attention to you."
True, thought Erin. Mother Eris never did give him much
attention and asked Jayce to do that for her since her job as a
diplomat to the Middle East kept her away most of the time. At least,
she provided for his education and essentials.
Closing his eyes one more time, he weighed the pros and cons
of the whole bizarre request and came to one conclusion. He decided
to wait until after New Year and head out for the Queen's country.
* * *
A few weeks more have passed since that exhibit at the
Metropolitan Opera. Cupid opted to let Bliss to spend Christmas with
his mother since he knew that New Haven was too cold at this time of
year. He felt tired as he spent most of his stay in New York dealing
with Psyche and her lawyers. In the long run, both agreed to liquefy
all their joint assets of value and divide them equally between both
parties minus legal fees. After seeing that his son was safely in the
hands of Psyche, he then went to Grand Central Station and left for
The long train ride only served to remind Cupid on how
pathetic his life seemed to be. No matter now because he planned to
start anew once he was officially unattached. He found a loft in New
Haven and planned to convert half of the space into a studio and the
rest as living space for him and Bliss. He hoped to God in heaven
that his mother Aphrodite would meddle as little as possible with his
move in life, bless her heart.
Once the train stopped at the station, he alit from his car
and stood on the platform until most of the passengers left.
Breathing in, Cupid felt cleansed of the pollution that New York
seemed to produce like a giant chimney. Being honest with himself,
New York isn't all that bad. It was just that the circumstances were
not idle and he always hated New York in the winter. Fucking holiday
shoppers! The cold made him want to cling to his coat and flannel
closer than what's possible. It was a good thing that he bought that
heavenly wool sweater and slick leather jacket from Saks otherwise he
would have frozen his bones off. He never did like winter, so New
York is just as bad as New Haven.
"One of these days I'll have to buy a car," thought Cupid as
he hailed for a taxi and asked for the driver to bring him to Vulcan
Studios. The drive was hampered by the surprising amount of traffic
due to the amount of snow banks beside the roads. After an eternity,
or twenty minutes, depending on your perception, he arrived at the
internationally renowned Vulcan Studios; home, hearth, and workplace
of Hephaestus Smith, Sculptor Extraordinaire.
Not even an itch to look at the new displays that Heph put up
while he was gone, Cupid went straight for the forge down in the
basement. Here, Heph made full use of the large space to create one-
of-a-kind pieces that people pay by the bundle to own. From glass-
blowing to metal work, Heph has done it all. It came to a point that
he had to hire a few young bucks to mind the store up above while he
slaved over metal, stone, and glass. A blast of heat greeted his face
as he opened the double doors leading to the subterranean room. It
was dark, except for the intense fire coming from the furnace.
Pounding could be heard from the middle, as well as the flying sparks
could be seen. Cupid approached with trepidation and sat down on one
of empty barrels which Heph uses to hold water to cool down his
The man himself, handsome despite his scarred appearance,
lifted his head and went back to his work. After dipping the piece
into some water and the steam let out for the heat, Heph presented
his work, a large broadsword, to Cupid.
"What do you think? I think I finally outdone myself," mused
Heph and placed the sword on a nearby table.
"It's nice. Obviously, you've been doing your homework. You
don't see this kind of craftsmanship nowadays without some extensive
Heph shrugged and tossed his apron to a corner. "Some fellow
down in New York presented me with a challenge to recreate a Greek
sword. Couldn't resist, so I did it. Thing is, I won't be able to
deliver it until the end of January. It's nearly finished now but my
client wants it as soon as I can provide it."
Not even fifteen minutes have passed yet Cupid felt
something coming. Shaking his head ruefully, he asked, "What do you
The blacksmith smiled. "Can you deliver this for me after
the New Year? I'll be leaving before that for Spain for a month. Then
I'm off to Italy to rest my bones when the spring months come
calling. Besides, you would make a better impression on these rich
toffs than me any day." He went to the freezer beside one wall and
pulled out some cold beers for the two of them. He twisted the caps
and handed Cupid one.
The grimace on Cupid's face failed to sway Heph to forego
the favor. "Okay," he resigned. "Where and who?"
Heph bellowed a short laugh and patted Cupid on the
shoulder. "I'll tell you the details later. Now, tell me about the
abominable weather in NYC and the exhibit of your inspirational works
* * *
"Are you sure that you don't want us to accompany you to JFK,
Erin? I don't know, to at least give you a bon voyage or something?"
asked Joxer who fretted over the clothes that he help Erin pack into
one rucksack and a duffel bag. Once they were carefully filled to
capacity, they were left in the truck of the limo that Ares hired for
Erin. Only the leather coat, his passport, and a one way ticket to
Heathrow were in his hands.
Erin had ended his lease for his claustrophobic apartment and
moved most of his things into storage. So now for the first since he
moved in four years ago, the place felt wide open. With one last look
over, he locks up the apartment and gave it to the landlord. The
landlord grunted in return and turned away from his former tenant.
Once out of the building, Erin and Joxer entered the limo and sat
down beside a sleeping Ares. Erin smiled and declined the offer.
Joxer then told the driver through the intercom to drop them home
first before heading off to the airport. James, the driver, verified
the instructions and drove off.
Because the day before was the first day of the year, none of
the limo's occupants wanted to move, much less be alert for all of
them were still recovering from their New Year celebration at the
townhouse. It was well attended with a hundred guests who came to get
sloshed and to witness the dropping of the apple from the comfort of
the entertainment room complete with the biggest flat screen TV this
side of the Hudson. Other than the countdown, the biggest hit of the
night were the pictures of the Erin and the rest of Apollo's exes
took when then did that ritual burning during one of `classes'. All
of them shared this over `frickin'-Apollo-did-this-shit-to-me'
stories and many rounds of Vodka shots and Purple Hazes.
The second of January didn't feel that bright considering
that it was a sunny day, without a cloud in the sky. The weather was
still cold and most of New York was still struggling with the
hangover of the turning of the new year. Yet despite the heavy
feeling most of the citizens, everyone was up and about, working and
living like most part of the year. The limo arrived outside the
townhouse and left off Joxer and Ares, with a little nudging and
encouragement from Erin. Joxer held the tears at bay as he held Erin
in his embrace. Ares did the opposite and quickly hugged him before
shooing him into the car. As the limo drove off the curb, Erin pulled
down the window and waved goodbye. At that, Joxer started to well up
like a Zen fountain. Ares just rolled his eyes and tried to console
Joxer of his pseudo-`empty nest' feeling.
* * *
Ridiculous barely covered the thoughts that ran through
Cupid's mind as he lugged around the heavy broad sword that Heph had
him deliver. He sighed and wished that he was indoors, drinking very
warm cocoa and playing with his son. Planning to just that the moment
he dropped off the sword, he neared his goal just as a black limo
came past and almost blindsided him as he was crossing the street.
Yelling and giving the limo the finger didn't make him feel
validated, but it did make him feel better. The nearer he got to his
destination, the quicker he can quit wondering just how those
Immortals in Highlander hid their swords in their trench coats. When
he got to the address that Heph gave him, his eyebrows raised high as
he saw a grown man cry on the shoulder of a dark man in a black
leather duster. They went high when Cupid realized when he recognized
the man in the duster.
"Dad?" he called with a slight squeak. His mouth gaped. He
wasn't used to seeing his errant father in open displays of affection.
Ares turned to the direction of the voice and smiled. "Cupid!
What brings you here? Haven't seen you since my Grandson was born. I
was going to write to you about my new change of address. Moved here
only last month. Come, come in."
By then, Joxer had stopped his bawling and smiled wanly at
Cupid, finally acknowledging him. He opened the door using his keys
and welcomed Cupid in. Ares followed the two of them in and noticed
the sword and scabbard under his son's arm.
"Unless I'm mistaken, that's the sword that I ordered. Well,
Heph must have good faith in you for handing his creations to
anyone." He brought them all to the dining room and motioned for the
maid. "Sylvia, please serve us some coffee. The Sumatra Roast, not
that instant crap that Erin likes." The maid left, leaving Ares to
his son and lover. "Oh and before I forget. Cupid, meet Joxer, my
lover. Love, meet my son Cupid."
After the introductions and a long conversation about
catching up on each other's lives; Cupid pretty much felt ridiculous
summed up the events leading to this moment so far. He just grinned
it up as Joxer regaled him with stories about the past year while
Ares only interjected sometimes.
* * *
Erin thumbed the ring that he inherited from his godfather as
the plane flew farther away from the country where he grew up and
lived in so far. Being a little panicky and scared helped in fueling
his excitement over the grand adventure in which he was about to
embark upon. He planned on taking England by storm, if necessary. And
maybe gain a few lover on the way. Who knows, maybe like Stella, he
will get his groove back.
He didn't wait for the in-flight movie to start before he
dozed off. The advice that Joxer about sleeping pills and long
flights made sense, so he popped a few before flying and soon gave
his way to sleep. He just hoped that the plane wouldn't crash while
he dreamt of strapping young lads from the United Kingdom vying for
his attention, only without `Pomp ad Circumstance' playing in the
background of his subconscious.
So readers, what have we learnt so far? Our intrepid hero,
still very much bereaved over the loss of his favorite godfather,
encouraged from quitting his job, and empowered from dumping his ex-
boyfriend is now off to parts unknown in England. The love interest
in this story reunited with his father and his father's lover, and
yet to meet with said intrepid hero. Hephaestus Smith, friend and
confidante to our love interest is off to the Iberian Peninsula to
learn more techniques in metalwork. And lastly, Apollo, who we will
only mention in passing because most of us think he needs to grow up.
Currently, he's trying to fend off the rumors about his `mis-cumings'
to which the source of it is still unclear.
Now, we continue with our story.
* * *
Bewildered by the amount of people getting off at Oxford,
Erin struggled his way through until he managed to get out of the
platform. It was sheer bad timing that he decided to go take the
train to Oxford on the day that students come back from their
Christmas holidays. University students were everywhere, as well as
young pupils dressed in their uniforms ready to get back to their
boarding houses, along with their dutiful parents. He clutched the
folded map of England with a red dot where Oxford was situated tight
in his fist, and braved the crowd
His disorientation ended the moment he stepped into a taxi with
some Indian national driving, beating a severe-looking woman with a
nasty, earthy sense of fashion. Erin conveyed to the driver to bring
him to Elysium Court and the driver answered affirmatively with his
heavily accented English. The woman was still shouting out insults as
the taxi drove off. The ride going to the manor was long and slow,
mostly because of the influx of students moving about. All of them
were taking advantage of the day before actually starting their
classes the next day.
Thinking about it, Erin was used to crowded spaces. Maybe it
was being in a new environment that had him frazzled. The town soon
gave way to the countryside; the buildings yielding to the green
pastures. A picturesque postcard waiting to be sent back home.
Getting closer to the manor, Erin pressed his face to the divider and
wowed at the enormity and Austen-style of it. In the back of his
mind, Erin thought of debauchery and Lord Byron.
Erin stood in front of the huge double doors and took in his
new home for the next few months or so; the taxi cab with the Indian
driver long gone by then. His hand kept on hovering near the buzzer,
the only thing of modern origins on the manor's façade, but then he
would stop and sigh before trying to get the strength to push the
button. Suddenly, a loud crash from inside jarred Erin from his
petrifying thoughts. Instinct took over for there and he opened one
of the doors to get inside. He searched for any commotion and went to
its source. When he got to the main hall of the house, a flurry of
people were engaged in a multitude of tasks that boggled him further
than he was when he got off the station. Now, he felt foolish that
his panic led to nothing but a bunch of workers and production people
working double time.
Before he could even ask anyone if Hades or Persephone were
around, a woman in her mid-twenties came through the hall's threshold
with her small entourage of assistants. She was wearing a verdant
dress with a narrow long skirt with a slit high on her thigh, and
matching shoes with six-inch heels. Her hair was set in a stylish cut
that reminded one of Gwyneth Paltrow, and an icy demeanor to match.
"I don't care if Sandro is stuck in London with a broken
leg!" the woman shouted at her nerve-whacked secretary. "Find someone
who can replace him so we can have one less problem to deal with."
The voice was dulcet, despite its terse emotion. A fierce woman who
talks like Jane Seymour.
"But who can get at such a short notice?" asked the secretary
trailing her boss with a pile of folders and a PDA in her arms.
The woman muttered, "If you can't find good help, do it
yourself." She closed her eyes and then looked about the large hall
to see if anything else was going to be wrong with her day. Her gaze
settled on Erin and approached him with the scrutiny of a scientist
on an experiment. "You! Come here!" she shouted.
Startled, Erin did as he was ordered and walked towards the
lady. With one motion of her hand, Erin stopped at his tracks.
Vultures had nothing to the circling and examining that the woman was
giving Erin. He suddenly felt self-conscious with his dirty faded
jeans and his jacket with a large stain on the side.
"Hmmm! Pale Skin. Bright eyes. Six feet in height. Lanky.
High cheek bones." She approached and lifted the tail of his
jacket. "Tight butt. Narrow hips. Yes, I believe we can use you in
the show. Carly!" She snapped her fingers and one of the secretaries
came forward. "Call Antoine and tell him to come here early. Tell him
it's an emergency and that I need his vision for hair. Garrett!"
Another secretary, this time a man in all black, stepped in. "Bring
this one upstairs and have Sandro's outfits for the show refitted for
him. I don't think there will be much change in them but you never
know. And then, introduce him to the other models to help him out.
Clio!" The last of the assistants came up. "Fill in his information
and make sure that he's taken care of. If the show's a hit, I'll make
sure that he'll have a steady job for the rest of his life." With
that, Erin was thrown into the eye of the storm.
* * *
Erin finally got what was going on after Antoine the
hairstylist attacked his hair with the fervor of a mad Chihuahua. He
looked at the mirror and lamented the fact that his old flop was
massacred into some spiked, demon-possessed mess will purple tips.
Clio gave him a sympathetic smile and gave him a bottle of Evian
while he continued to gawk at his new hair-do.
"Okay, I've kept quiet until now, so can you please tell me
what the heck is going on?" Erin asked as he forlornly scanned the
room full of models, production crews, stylists and whatnots.
Clio gave him a curious look. "What are you talking about?
Aren't you here for the show?"
Erin sighed heavily and turned to the brunette secretary. "I
arrived in England at the bequest of my dead Godfather on the purpose
of getting out there and `spread my wings'," he said with saying the
last three words in air quotations. Clio giggled. "So, here I am in
the middle of England and I'm not sure what to do next. I'm supposed
to meet my cousin and her husband here but I don't seem to see her
yet." A momentary pause of thought. "In fact, I haven't seen my
cousin in ages. About 15 years, I think. I don't think dear `Sephie
would be that little mousy girl with tons of hair."
"15 years! No wonder you've been looking around like a man on
a mission. Well, maybe I can help you. How old is this `Sephie by now
and what does she look like?"
Erin gulped a little more water before replying. "Well, she's
about 25 by now. Last time I saw her was when I was 8 years old.
Everyone also called her `Pep' because of her hyperactivity that
would put most slapstick comedians to shame. She has eyes of green
and golden skin from years of running around outdoors. Oh, and like I
said, she has tons of hair which I think her mother would still be
refusing to cut unless she rebelled and did it anyway. My Great Aunt
did always resemble a wildcat with a Napoleon complex. God knows just
how strict that woman was."
An eyebrow quirked up on Clio's very expressive face. "Would
this Great Aunt of yours be a bit of the dowager side with a
perchance for all things green and rooted to the earth?" she
asked. "Maybe, also a severe disposition?"
He tipped his head. "Yes, come to think of it. She always did
respected plants over people any day. When she stayed with my Uncle
Ares for the last time I saw her, she imported enough flowers and
plants to his penthouse apartment to turn the place into a
By then, Clio started chuckling. "My dear boy, does your
cousin's name happen to be Persephone Greenfield-Kingson?"
"Why yes! Kingson is the family name of Hades. If I remember
the family gossip well, both of them eloped right under Great Aunt
Demeter's nose and got married in France. Very quixotic of the man.
Wished I've known him sooner."
Clio smiled and peered over Erin's shoulder. "Just look over
there." She pointed towards the open doors leading to the hallway.
There, in view for everyone's pleasure, was the woman in the
green dress that ordered Erin to this madness. She was being embraced
by a towering man in a classic, very dark blue business suit and a
bowler hat. He was smiling as if she was the only sunshine in his
world, and she gladly provided it. John Steed and Emma Peel in the
flesh. At least that was what most of the voyeurs thought until a
shrieking yell blared through the manor like a banshee.
In consternation, Persephone leaned in her head to her
husband's chest and pounded on it lightly. Hades only gave her a
sympathetic smile. She turned and smiled sweetly towards her mother
who was pushing everyone in her way.
"I thought I told you that I was coming over! You weren't at
the station to meet with me! I was forced to find a taxi and fight
off an obscene amount of human traffic for the past four hours. I'm
sorely disappointed in you!" Great Aunt Demeter's rambling sermon
reverberated all through the manor while she flung her arms in
whichever direction on each stressed word. As she was about to
criticize the chaos, she notices Erin and her eyes narrowed
dangerously. She shifted the grip on her umbrella and wielded it like
a battle-axe belonging to a Viking.
"Uh-oh!" yelped Erin as Demeter stalked towards him with a
deadly gleam that Hannibal Lector would surely approve of. He
suddenly realized that this was the nasty woman who he encountered at
Oxford station. Just as she was about to grab him, he bolted through
one of the side doors, away from her reach. Erin managed a good run
before Great Aunt Demeter caught up with him and whooped him with her
umbrella. He was saved from any further harassment by Hades as he
grabbed the umbrella and subdued Demeter with a glare.
"I honestly don't know what this young man has done to
deserve your wrath, but do please stop. You're only going to
embarrass my dear `Sephie more if you continue with this offensive
attitude. I'm not going to let you ruin her big night just because
she forgot about you for the first time in her life. She's stressed
enough as it is without you adding to her problems. So, be a good
mother and don't be a burden to her. You're only going to lose her
respect for you if carry on like this," Hades said, quelling whatever
violence Demeter was planning. The tone of his voice made the North
Pole seem like a summer resort in comparison.
They stared eye to eye for a minute, trying to break each
other. Finally, Demeter, full of impotent fury, broke the stand down
and left to sulk in her guestroom on the third floor. Once she left
the area, everyone let out a breath of relief.
Rubbing the parts of his body that Demeter struck, Erin turned
to see Persephone approaching him sheepishly.
"I'm so sorry about that. Look, please stay after the show and
the party so we can talk," she pleaded. Erin smiled and nodded.
Smiling in return, she said, "I'll talk to you later then." With
that, she went to Hades and kissed him on the cheek. After a few
whispered words, she left to tend to her show. A sigh and pinch of
his nose later, Hades faced Erin.
"My wife tells me that you are the guy who is saving her show.
I'm so sorry about my mother-in-law Demeter. He temper has been
getting worse ever since Persephone and I married a few years back,
despite the long courtship and all. I'm afraid that she simply
refuses to acknowledge that her daughter is independent of her,"
Hades said a little like he was explaining that Demeter
was `special', and we're not talking gifted here.
Erin shrugged nonchalantly. "Hey, she's exactly like I
remembered." At this, Hades responded with a raised eyebrow that
broke his perfectly expressionless face. Smiling, Erin extended his
hand. "I'm Erin Olympus, Persephone's cousin."
* * *
A week later in the city that never seems to sleep, nor does
it want to, Ares and Joxer were sitting on their dining room table
waiting for their breakfast to be served. While Ares scanned the New
York Times for the Headlines and the latest news in the stock market
that he has yet to hear, Joxer busied himself by sifting through the
absurdly abundant amount of mail. He piled them into four bunches:
Bills (Which will go straight to their accountant), Junk (which Ares
will sift through later in vain hope for something interesting, go
figure), Invitations (half of which will end up in the shredder in
vindictive glee), and Personal Letters (see the fate of the
Invitations, but only 75% will survive).
"Ohhh!" exclaimed Joxer as he held one envelope in particular
and shoved it in front of his partner's face.
"Joxer, you know I love you and all, but if you don't remove
that piece of paper away from my line of vision, I will be forced to
Joxer's eyes gleamed with possibility. "Promise?" he asked,
to which Ares rolled his eyes and grabbed the envelope from him. He
considered the leather cuffs for later.
Judging from the address and the expensive brand of envelope
paper, He surmised that this was a letter from Erin. He creased his
brow as he opened it with one swift swipe from his knife. Carefully
unfolding the letter, he began to read it aloud since Joxer wasn't
wearing his reading glasses.
"Dear Uncle Ares and Joxer,
Damn but England is as cold as a bitch's butt. It's been
snowing here since the day after I arrived at Elysium Court. I should
hate the both of you for not warning me that Great Aunt Demeter lived
there. You know how much I hate the bitch. I'm so for using language,
but she makes me want to swear like a drunken sailor. Remember that
time that she force fed me my carrots until I nearly choked. I never
forgave her for that. Me and Hades celebrated one night in one of the
local pubs. Somehow, some sugar lumps `accidentally' got into
Demeter's fuel tank and her car stalled in the middle of nowhere.
Pep and Hades are wonderful. I hardly see Hades, but that's
because of his work as a barrister in London. When we have a night
out together, we turn into big lushes at the pub while watching
Manchester play against Leeds and talking like unapologetic Scotsmen.
Pep has been most accommodating ever since she found out, through
Hades mind you, that I was her younger cousin Strife. You should have
seen her face when she realized that it was me. She showed her
humility and thanks by taking me on a shopping trip for
some `essential', or at least those were her words, in London.
Guess what? I'm a supermodel. Well, sorta. When I first
arrived at Oxfordshire, Pep thought I was a model or something and
forced me to walk her runway and act like an aloof and pretentious
snot. In fact, my first time on it was such a success that I started
getting offers from some agencies and designers to walk in other
shows. With Pep's help, I managed to get some steady work for my stay
in England. Oh, and I think Donatella Versace is quite the flirt once
you manage to wade through her accent.
I'm honestly glad that Uncle Jayce sent me here. The
landscape is beautiful all covered in white and the air is so clean.
I've been keeping Pep good company when I join her at work or when we
go out to do some clubbing. Since Hades is about 15 years older than
her, she practically took advantage of the fact that she has someone
her age around to keep her company, even if it's temporary. We've
been doing everything together lately from Shakespeare in Stratford-
on-Avon to taking weekend getaways to Cornwall to that leather mixed
gender club in London. I'm still trying to figure out how she talked
me into that trip to Ireland just so I could experience that charms
of the Irish. Glad she did though. Got a good shag out of that one.
Speaking of Shag, I met someone in Ireland. I think you will
likely swoon if you saw him, Joxer. I have two words for you: `Greek
Statue'. Oh, and his name is Adonis. I can imagine you Joxer are now
squealing with excitement. Oh the Fromage!
Hate to cut this letter short, but I think I'm running out of
paper space. I'll send you guys an e-mail for more details. Same
Strife time, Same Strife channel!
Your traveling nephew
"That was a nice letter, don't you think?" Joxer asked,
smiling. His nerves were doing like what Erin said in his letter.
Ares quirked his face, and placed his glasses on his
forehead. "At least, he's dating." By then, a cart full of breakfast
food was rolled in by the cook.
* * *
"Soooooo?" insinuated Persephone, nearly accosting Erin the
moment he walked through the front door. He walked on to the library
where a huge fire was burning. Under his arms was a plain brown box
that gave a distinct chattering sound. Erin purposely ignored her.
"Soooooo!" countered Erin as he sat on the huge armchair and
gave her a look that told her that he wasn't talk but might if she
worked for it. She pouted and sat on the other armchair.
"Bloody bullocks! So tell just how did your date with Adonis
O'Connell go? With a strapping young lad of 6'2, eyes of china blue,
body of a brick house, and voice that sounds like a good cup of
coffee, he must be more than that, not that I'm complaining." She
ordered the butler to get them some drinks. Both of them asked for a
double Scotch on the rocks.
A sigh filled the void of the shadowed room that was only lit
by the fire. "He was amazing. You won't believe the stuff that he's
"Umhmmmm!" she prodded. She may be a Diana Rigg, Gwyneth
Paltrow, Jane Seymour, and Cate Blanchett in one woman, but she could
be the town gossiper if she would only stoop that low. Erin rolled
"Well, he's studying to be a business manager. Part time work
is at one of the local student cafes in the town. He's into every
sport in could imagine, except skydiving and bungee jumping. He's
afraid of heights." Persephone cooed. "We went to a bookstore and he
bought a wide variety of books. Can you imagine that he reads Paolo
Coelho? And do you know what the second sexiest thing about him is?"
Pep shook her head. Erin grinned wide and came closer to his
cousin. "He cooks a mean vegetarian lasagna."
"I'm quivering in delight," Pep admitted. "What's the sexiest
thing about him if that was the second, you wanker?"
"He's a boxer!"
The squealing of the two was heard in the third floor by
Great Aunt Demeter who is determined to be where her daughter is for
the winter. She grunted and went back to bed, despite the chills and
bloody drafts of the manor.
"I don't know about you, Pepsi Cola, but I'm bushed. I've
been here for almost two months now and I have yet to have one of
those long winter naps that my Expat friends tell me about in this
country. Moreover, that's mostly thanks to you and your business that
wants my ass on their runway before the season is out. Can you
imagine just how many times I had to turn down Alexander McQueen
because his show is on the week that I'm leaving? Five! Five frickin'
times, that's what. The only thing that he hasn't done so far is
kidnap me in the middle of Piccadilly Circus when I'm in London, the
bloody sod! I tell you that man has one warped sense of disposition."
Persephone gasped of air as she had her fill of laughing.
With an impish smile, Erin went up to his room to get some sleep. He
planned to spend his day with Adonis tomorrow. Since his room was a
little way off in the end of the hall, he looked in both directions
before opening the door leading to Great Aunt Demeter's room and
releasing the captives from the plain brown box.
At exactly 4:37 A.M., Erin had to smile to his satisfaction
when a scream of `BLOODY HELL!' filled the halls of Elysium Court
from a few rooms down. Apparently, the white mice met Great Aunt
Demeter. Almost immediately, he fell into one of those long winter's
sleep that he waited so long for. When he told Hades about the
incident over the phone the next day, they marked it by buying a
round of drinks to everyone at the pub.
* * *
Cupid entered the shop of his mother, Aphrodite, while she
was entertaining a few of her customers with some of the more
colorful potions that she had in her stock. He winced as she
described to her rapt audience about how a few hairs from an old
boyfriend can make sure he doesn't have a decent relationship with
anyone for at least a year. Bad enough that he had a bisexual father
who happens to be the heir of a multi-billion dollar corporation,
having a mother who is a confirmed Wiccan can be trying at times. He
was glad that she lived in Salem rather than in New Haven.
"Thank you for shopping at Dite's," she said as the couple of
ex-girlfriends smiled at her and left with their ingredients for
their former boyfriend's demise. Cupid was glad that he neither of
them. Dite turned towards her son as she punched in her latest
sale. "Hello Cupie Dear! Did you bring in that new candle stand that
Heph made for me?"
Cupid nodded and rolled his eyes. It was an open secret that
his mother dated his friend Heph. He knew about it but neither Dite
nor Heph knew that he knew. He would merely chuckle and turn a blind
eye whenever his mother and Dite would try not to be obvious about
"Mom, did you know that Dad has a boyfriend and that he
ordered a sword from Heph?" he asked while scanning the store that
reminded him way too much like the Magic Shop from Buffy. Yeah,
Cupid's a Buffy Freak and openly admits it.
"Yeah," she replied and went to the back of the store for
some Chamomile Sage Tea that she blended herself. She came back with
two steaming cups that gave off one more scent to the very aromatic
shop. "Haven't seen your father in years but he called me about a
month ago after your visit. He gave me the heads up about you meeting
Joxer. If you weren't so self-involved at times, you could visit your
father from time to time. Besides, you know that he's bisexual. It's
just that he hasn't had a man in a while." She smiled at her son
indulgently. That debacle with Psyche only proved how much her
influence was damaging to his relationships with other people.
He sighed and ran his hand through his bright blond
hair. "Well, I guess that it was only a matter of time before Dad
dated. How long have they been together?" With a grateful face, he
took the cup from Dite. It's been a long day.
Dite tilted her head in contemplation. "I think about four
years now, I suppose. At least that what Joxer told me the last time
"You've met him?" he asked before sipping at the diluted
"Met him? I stayed with him while I visited Ares a few years
back. Turns out, he's one of the twins of my friend Jayce. Oh, three
of us had a blast when we went to that strip club in Queens."
Cupid gaped. He really didn't want to hear about his mother's
adventures as a sexual woman. He managed to drown out her tale and
thought of that `humming' guy from the Metropolitan Opera. Obsession
didn't bode well for Cupid since it was because of that he ended up
married to Psyche, but he had a hard time keeping the guy out of his
mind. In one week, he managed to sketch about a dozen drawings and a
few paintings of the man who reminded him of milk and midnight. His
son asked about the man and Cupid answered that he was a spirit that
sung to him one night, technically. He was brought back to reality by
the words `trip to Italy'.
"What about Italy, Mom?" Cupid had to ask.
"Well, that friend of yours called the other day and invited
the three of us to spend a week in Venice of Carnival. Heph has this
house that he rented in advance for a couple of months when he
arrives there after Spain."
"That's very generous of him," Cupid drawled as his eyes
narrowed, knowing Heph's ulterior motive. He let his mother babble on.
* * *
Now, we have five more characters to our list of players.
Persephone Greenfield- Kingson, AKA Pep, `Sephie, Pepsi Cola, and the
latest talk of the fashion world. The enigmatic Hades, almost 20
years older than his wife, whose dry impeccable style and
aristocratic manner makes him a dead ringer for Ralph Fiennes. Both
he and Erin have a taste for lager. Great Aunt Demeter, an earthy
dowager with a death grip on half of Persephone's time. Adonis, a
fantastic specimen that blinds the imagination. (Think Brad Pitt
of `Meet Joe Black' and Jakob Dylan in one) we are to see more of
this youth in the next part. And Cupid's mother, Aphrodite, who is a
Wiccan with a supposedly secret romance with our blacksmith.
Oh, how intricate it's getting now as the winter months come
closer to an end and our hero will soon move on. Another place to
* * *
We now find ourselves in the one bedroom flat of Adonis `Don'
O'Connell, a small but homely place with a working heater and well-
used kitchenette. Erin and Adonis were sleeping, just sleeping, on
the corner bed of the flat.
They've been together for almost two blissful months now.
Meeting up when the time is right for both when school and modeling
jobs don't cross with their schedule. Spending the nights out in the
town with Adonis' friends or staying in to pass the time in each
other's company. As much as both loved their time together, neither
wanted more because each knew of each other's plans. Erin was leaving
before the month ended, but wasn't sure yet of where he was going.
Don planned to take his summer term traveling the continent starting
with France with a bunch of friends on a shoestring Euro budget.
Erin until now couldn't believe he said that.
In less than three days, Don would say goodbye to Erin since
he arranged with his friends to leave when the Lent term ended.
Neither wanted to think of how much sadness their departures would
mean to each other. Sex wasn't an issue, but Erin honestly wouldn't
mind if Don would make a move to bed him. He didn't want to say it
aloud but he did wonder what having Don's dick would feel like in his
mouth and ass after seeing him in jockey straps.
For the moment, both lovers felt content in their positions.
Erin spooned up to Don's chest while Don's hands lay possession over
Erin's torso. This was one of their favorite things to do together
since both valued their sleeping habits. Light snores were made by
Don while Erin snuggled closer to the larger, burlier man. Neither
one had anywhere to go at the moment.
* * *
Dread filled his being as Erin tried to compose himself. He
was summoned earlier with a written note to have tea with Great Aunt
Demeter out in the veranda with no room to decline. Biting the
proverbial bullet, he dressed himself in acceptable informal attire
of dark slacks with a blue shirt that brought out his eyes. He placed
on his jacket and inspected his clothes before looking towards Hades
who was reading the Times. Hades looked up, all smug in his dark pin
stripe suit. Erin paused for his approval.
Going back to his paper, Hades said, "You look fine. Demeter
won't do anything to get at you. As much as she dislikes you, I don't
think attacking you would prove beneficial to her relationship with
Ares. She needs him to help fund her projects and assaulting you
would be very foolish."
Erin sighed and loosed up the tie that was currently
strangling him. "Do you have any idea as to why she wants to talk to
"God knows what, Strife," Hades said, using the moniker that
Erin's family fondly called him. "For all you know, she found out
about the mice, the sugar lumps, and rest of the troubles that you
afflicted upon her. But then again, she's too temperamental to see
things pass her face. Just see what the old windbag has to say. If
it's as horrible as we ominously predict, then let's go to King's Inn
for some consolatory drinking."
He took to that promise as he walked towards the south wing
and into the veranda where Great Aunt Demeter sat. Before her was a
table set with a fresh pot of tea and an assortment of sandwiches
which would very much appeal to old fashion sensibilities. Erin noted
that she was on in her `Dame' mode where she dons her matronly dress
with the flair of the Queen herself. She was actually more
intimidating this way than her usual dirty frocks, which she wears
when she gardens.
"Sit," she commanded. Erin complied and sat. "Cucumber
sandwich? Tea?" she offered. He said yes to the tea though he
declined on the sandwiches. His American appetite didn't quite
understand the value of cucumber sandwiches and it was such a cold
day that the sweet-smelling tea was welcoming.
They stayed quite for close to a quarter of an hour before
Great Aunt Demeter decidedly faced her great nephew with a piercing
look that could bore holes through bank vault doors. "Now then," she
said with an even tone different from the harpy-like expression that
he was used to. "I've been tasked by your godfather to give you a
letter as to where you are to go next on your journey. Personally, I
don't like you because remind me way too much of your mother. That
girl never did respect me and you don't fall far from that tree
either. However, as a favor to your godfather, I will respect his
wishes. He may have sent you to Persephone for your indenture here in
England but he knew that she could be flighty at times, and may
forget this. After all, she hasn't seen Jayce in years so she has no
reason to do this for him." From the folds in her dress, she pulls
out an envelope and handed it to Erin. He examined the plain white
missive marked `ERIN' on it's back and placed it in front of him on
the table. He would open it at a better opportunity but first he had
other things in mind.
"Aunt Demeter, I know we don't quite see eye to eye," Demeter
snorted quietly, "but can you please tell me Uncle Jayce?"
For the first time, Demeter lost her usual scowl and a rare
smile flitted for a moment on her stony face. "Your godfather was
quite the rascal. Strange really that despite not being part of our
family, he and his brothers are quite the soul of it. Without him,
this family would have disintegrated a long time ago from animosity
and pride. It was a good thing that your grandfather adopted the
triplets when they were orphaned. While Joxer and Jett preferred
being in the background and not make spectacles of themselves, Jayce
was the life of the party. He made friends easily and often went out
of his way to meet new and often exotic people. I'm so sorry that I
wasn't able to attend his funeral but Jayce understood that I'm
deathly afraid of airplanes. The last time I saw you was the last
time I came to the United States." That surprised Erin. "Yes, my
temper got the most of me on that tip and I do apologize for hitting
you with my umbrella. To me at the time, you were just another
reprobate who needed to be taught a lesson."
It wasn't much of an apology but Erin took it anyway since he
didn't expect much from Great Aunt Demeter. They spent the rest of
teatime talking about Jayce and his exploits.
* * *
Erin spent the next couple of days pondering over the
envelope. It was a nondescript object with thick block letterings of
his name on it. The thickness of it demanded some speculations as to
what's in it. He was planning to leave the next day and he was yet to
buy a ticket to wherever he was supposed to go. He figured that since
he was traveling around the world, might as well do it like they do
it in the `Amazing Race'.
He frowned as he reminisced on the things that he experienced
so far in England. He enjoyed reconnecting with Persephone since she
was his favorite cousin at one time. His loved his moments with Hades
whenever they would hit the local or have lunch at some snotty
restaurant in London. He was glad that Great Aunt Demeter thawed out
in his last few days and managed to talk with him about Jayce. Both
of them sorely missed the Libertine. And of course, Erin felt a mix
of disappointment and contentment when he thought of Don. Contentment
because he finally experienced a boyfriend that was attentive and
loving. Disappointment because they didn't have sex once; not even a
blowjob. Well Que Sera Sera!
His memories were jerked into reality when Erin heard
something hit his window. After a couple more hits, Erin moved away
from his bed and opened his window, upon which a pebble struck him on
Erin looked down and saw a sight that made his heart skip a
few reps. Below him was Don, in those tight jeans that showed off his
tight bum and that t-shirt that seemed to fit him in all the right
"Can I go up? I left my jacket in the car outside the gate."
Erin nodded and told him to meet him out front. Two minutes later,
they were shedding their clothes and making out in the front
anteroom. Erin tried not to squeak when Don got down on him for a
The sex is wow, as Erin would later recall. Don was gentle
and rough in all of the right places and he knew just where to push
as he glided in his cock to Erin's bum entrance. Nipples were
tweaked. Lips were kissed and bitten. Hands groped for exposed skin,
all the while Don pistoned himself on the carpet and under the gaze
of the fifth Earl of Elysium whose portrait hung on the wall over
them. The explosion of senses was way more than what Erin expected as
he climaxed all over himself and on Don's undershirt. When Don came,
there was so much cum that the juices dripped out and riveted down
their thighs. To think this was only the first round.
Just around noontime, Pep barged into the bedroom and wolf-
whistled at the two thoroughly sated and naked on the bed. She wished
that she had a camera to preserve this beautiful sight for all
eternity. Erin just gob-smacked her with a pillow.
When Don and Erin managed to talk later on the limo ride to
London along with Pep and Hades, Erin found out that his boyfriend
left his car in the town of Portsmouth so he could take the car ferry
to St. Malo after seeing him off. Erin was touched and rewarded him
with kisses. Pep wiped a tear from her eye before doing the same to
Hades. The driver had to clear his throat as they arrived at the
"Are you sure you don't want us to wait for you and see you
off," Hades asked in a tone that reminded Erin of back home. He shook
his head and waved goodbye at his cousin and cousin-in-law as they
left the depot of London Gatwick Airport.
"Alone at last," said Don as they perched in one of the
cheaper places to eat in Gatwick. Their dinner meal was quiet mostly
and spent with words that did not somehow sounded like a farewell.
After paying and lingering on tentative silence, Don asked, "Have you
opened it yet?"
Erin did not answer but got the plain envelope from his
trusty rucksack and placed it in the middle of their table. He was
afraid of opening it for some reason and it was obvious to Don that
he would have continued with this, unless someone did something to
push him. So, Don grabbed the envelope and deftly opened it with his
cutting knife. Under Erin's surprised face, Don read the letter and
then looked at the overhead monitors that displayed all the
departures and arrivals. He smiled as he turned to Erin.
"You know, you just missed the flight to Florence 30 minutes
ago, but from what I'm reading here, there's a flight for Genoa first
time tomorrow morning. What do you say we first secure you a ticket
and then first some place for the night. I honestly do not want to
say goodbye just yet and my friends agreed to meet with me in Rouen
on Saturday. What say you because I'm in a randy mood for a shag
right about now."
Erin's expressive blue eyes widened. He grabbed the letter,
looked at the monitor, and grinned like a kid in a candy store.
* * *
I hope your stay in England has been as fun as I hoped it
would be. Many of people complain about the cold but I love a British
winter than anything else. It gives one reason to snuggle to a thick
duvet or to get it down and dirty with some fiery Irishman. I know I
do both when I was there.
Now that you've experienced the British Isles, I'm sending
you south to the Mediterranean for the spring. Head for your Great
Uncle Poseidon's palazzo on one of the tiny isles in the canal city
of Venice. Just in time for the sea to smell like fragrant flowers.
Ask your Aunt Amphitrite to bring your around and expose you to the
love that the Italians have for passion. As an Arts Historian, she
would definitely show you around. Just be careful. Italians have been
known to be excessively amorous and tend to give their all into one
Have fun and have a plate of Risi e bisi, and a glass of,
heck a bottle of Chianti for me. And remember to visit San Remo.