AresJoxerCupidStrife - The Angelic Vampire


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3


Title: Fighting Temptation

Chapter: The Apple Doesn't Fall That Far From The Tree

Author: The angelic vampire

Email: deconynckmarion@hotmail.com

Feedback: yes please, :) deconynckmarion@hotmail.com

Rating: R-ish/NC-17-ish

Fandom: Xena: The Warrior Princess/ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Pairing: C/S mentioned, C/Ps

Disclaimer: I do not own the X:WP/H:TLJ fandoms

Warnings: This is an R-rated fic, if you think that belies something
you might not want to read, don't! There is mention of Cupid/Strife
slash, that means two men loving each other, if that squiks you,
please don't read this story. There is a somewhat graphic mention of
F/M, if that squiks you, again, do not read. Well, I think I've said
everything that needs to be said.

Summary: Strife loved Cupid, he truly did. But even he has to admit
to that which he has been ignoring all these years. They both can
fight off temptation, but only one of them does.


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Strife groaned as he finished his report on the riot he'd been in
charge of in Athens. Athena had decided that her city had been
overpopulated. She'd wanted to get rid of the excess of mortals in
her city, but doing so without going to an open full-scale war with
another city. So, the only other way was to craftily get rid of the
mortals was warfare at a miniscule and intricate level. Since Athena
herself had neither the time, the patience or the skill to start a
war of that kind of level, she'd gone to Ares and asked if Strife
could cull the herds.


Strife squirmed in his seat at his desk in the Halls of War, trying
to get comfortable as he finished his report. He was tired, so very
very tired. This little debacle had taken more out of him, then any
full-scale war had done recently. The reason he was so tired, wasn't
because he was inexperienced at performing this kind of high profile
job. In fact, he was probably the most qualified god for the job.
The sheer level of Mischief and Mayhem required to pull it off could
only be sent out, handled and then received by Strife.


And that had been what he had done. He'd caused Mischief and Mayhem
left and right, orchestrated the fights erupting all over the city,
and then had let the riot die out. The problem was however, that
Athena had supplied him with a list of people she wanted dead,
people she wanted injured and people she wanted alive and healthy.


Now, while it complicated things, it wasn't impossible for Strife to
achieve the desired results. But, what did make things a little bit
trickier was that the stupid cow had given him the rather detailed
list, only moments before Strife had planned the whole thing to go
off.


Naturally, he'd been popping up left and right, trying to make sure
that everyone that needed to stay alive was kept alive, and vice
versa. Because of the complications, the riots had lasted longer
than first anticipated. Strife had been investing several days'
worth of his valuable time, whereas he'd first thought it wouldn't
take more than two days.


Several days of sending out Mischief and Mayhem, constantly having
to be alert and present so he could manipulate the masses, not to
mention getting the powers he'd sent out back full force.


So it didn't surprise him, that now when everything was finished,
that he was near breaking point. His power level might be spiking,
but emotions were drained and all he felt was numb.


Strife sighed as he looked at the parchment in front of him, and
checked it once more for accuracy. Satisfied that everything was
written down to perfection, he signed it then tripled it. A small
bust of power, sent each parchment where it needed to be stored. One
in his personal archives, one for Athena's and one for Ares'.


He watched the empty desk for several moments, then steeled his
resolve. He stood up and unconsciously arched his back. Strife
revelled in the pops his spine made, and slowly opened his eyes.


Finally, he could go home. He could go to his husband-to-be, and
just let Cupe find interesting ways of dissipating the overabundance
of power he'd been saturated with.


Strife yawned. Well maybe after he'd taken a well deserved nap.


:: Unc, I'm through, I'm going home; see ya tomorrow::


He mentally sent to his uncle, as he picked up his favourite dagger
and vanished in a shower of black and emerald sparks.


:: Erin? No, don't-::

His uncle sent back urgently, just as he reappeared in his and
Cupid's bedroom. Not that it really registered with Strife as he
watched what was happening in front of his eyes, frozen, numb.


::Strife? Erin? Strife you have to listen to me, He's//::


Strife shut his uncle's link out, and willed wards around his and
Cupid's temple. No one could enter now, not even Zeus himself. He
felt a disturbance in his shields, and unconsciously picked up on
the fact that Ares was trying to get in. He knew his uncle wouldn't
succeed, not with his own power level what it was now. Ares was
powerful, probably the most powerful God their pantheon had after
Zeus. But Ares was between major wars, and his diminished power
level couldn't quite compare with Strife's now.


But that didn't matter, did it. Nothing mattered.


And all he felt was numb.


Seemingly detached, he watched as his fiancé and lover of 70 years
screwed a female Goddess into the mattress. Their mattress. Not that
it really mattered, but still, that had been the mattress he'd slept
on for decades. That he had made love to Cupid on for decades. Not
that any of that mattered anymore. Not really.


Strife's powers picked up on the fact that the woman was a newly
made Goddess, and didn't want to think about what that meant. He
just didn't. He just kept looking, numbly, but still looking.


Cupid had the bitch on her back, her legs spread wide open, and was
fucking her for all she was worth.


The wings flared out, quivering and Strife longed to pluck every
single white feather. With each trust Strife felt more and more
angry, more and more violent, more and more `numb'.


He'd been gone a little over a week, and this was his homecoming. He
ignored his throat burning, or the prickling sensation in his eyes.
He didn't cry, he wouldn't cry.


Cupid had promised him that he would never cause Strife intentional
harm. And he'd been dumb enough to believe the featherhead.


He'd trusted a Love God. How stupid could he get. His mother had
warned him. Warned him that love was all good and sweet, until it
came for one of them to swallow the bitter pill. And she'd pointed
it that it would be `him' with the sour aftertaste when their
relationship ended. He'd loved her for being so openly concerned for
his welfare, but then again, it had been love that had broken her
once before. And she had always told him, that it wasn't worth it.
That no matter how happy you had been, how long you had been with
someone, once it ended… It overshadowed every aspect, you once
cherished. He hadn't understood that then. He did now.


As the woman screamed in the midst of her orgasm, Strife focused on
the couple and watched dispassionately as Cupid stiffened only
moments afterwards.


He kept silent, after all, Strife knew it was only a matter of time
before they noticed him.


Cupid pulled out of the Goddess and he couldn't help but feel sick
to his stomach as he saw the flaccid phallus streaked with strands
of semen and the woman's completion. He who was Ares second in
command, the House Of War's second in command, one of the few Gods
who could watch the most severe war injures and not even blink, felt
nauseous at the proof of spent lust or love.


He looked up, just as the woman turned her head and she spotted him.
The temple was immediately filled with screams.


Strife snapped his finger and the woman became mute. But he hadn't
eyes for the panicking woman, he only had eyes for Cupid.


Cupid who was looking at him with a mixture love, devotion, lust,
confusion and an air of defiance twirling in those baby blue eyes of
his. Eyes he'd once been able to drown in, for hours on end.


It made Strife want to skin the God of Love and Passion slowly, as
he ripped out feather by feather, then broke the once cherished
wings.


But all he could bring himself to be was numb. So he kept calm,
silent, and just looked at Cupid.


"Strife." Cupid spoke, and Strife noticed the blush that graced
Cupid's cheeks, before he was drawn in by the defiant gaze once
more. And Strife knew they were over, forever. He didn't know what
was going on, but Cupid had his wits about him. He knew what he was
doing. There had been a small spark of hope, embedded in him, but
one he'd locked gazes with Cupid. All he'd felt was cold, numb.


"Cupid" He spoke evenly, and wondered how the name that he had once
loved to hear falling from his lips, could resemble an insult now.


The blond blushed, cheeks reddening slightly. And Strife couldn't
for the life of his Godly existence recall, why he'd ever found that
endearing.


"I..." Cupid started, but Strife cut him off.


"I really don't think, there's anything left to say is there,
Cupid?" Strife spoke calmly.


He saw Cupid's eyes widen in panic. Numb.


"Strife you don't understand, it's a compulsion, I shot myself with
one of my arrows and-"


"Stop"


The word was so calm; why did he sound so calm. Strife doubted that
he'd ever sounded this calm. Then again, he'd never felt this frozen
before, this numb. His throat was burning, yes, and his eyes
prickled. His heart was clenching painfully, and yet he'd never felt
so emotionless before. So drained. How could he even compare this to
what he'd felt moments before. He'd thought he knew the meaning of
drained, of being wrung out, of- he shook his head softly. Numb.


"Str-"


"Don't say my name." Strife spoke. "Just don't."


He snapped his fingers again and all signs that this had been his
home temple as well vanished. All his possessions ware temporarily
stashed back in his quarters at the Halls Of War. He didn't know if
Ares would mind him moving back in, but he wouldn't stay here. He
couldn't stay here. The mere sight of Cupid made him feel sick. And
even if Cupid moved out, all he would be able to see as he looked at
their bed, was Cupid fucking that - that - Goddess.


"But I can't help it."


Cupid spoke. And even now, the Love God was caressing the woman's
nipples. Petting the wary mute woman, in a mockery of affection. In
a mockery of the affection that they had shared. Strife doubted that
he'd let anyone else touch him like that ever again. His mother was
right, it wasn't worth it. Not when resulted into this empty
feeling, this void where once his heart had been. Not it when it
left him seemingly unable to feel anything but this numbness. Eris'
apple truly didn't fall that far from her tree after all.


Strife looked away from the sickening sight.


"Do you think I've never been tempted by another Cupid?" He
asked. "Do you really think that there haven't been several deities
and mortals who were willing to spread their legs for me or fuck me
in all this time?"


Strife continued crudely as he glanced at Cupid, wanting to feel
something …anything. Then wishing he hadn't looked as a spike of
anger coursed through him when he took in Cupid's transformed green
jealous eyes. It all came back to this, didn't it. Cupid was a Love
God, so why would he have to stay monogamous? But Zeus help Strife
should he even mention others being interested in him.


"Do you really think I haven't felt lust towards anyone else, maybe
even love?"


Strife added, his voice calm. And Strife watched slightly satisfied,
at the flinch Cupid couldn't hold back.


"I have been faced with temptation just like you Cupid. I just
turned it down"


He looked over his shoulder, taking in the temple that had been his
home for so long in one last glance. This would be the last time he
would ever enter here, the last time he would ever set foot in here.


As his eyes rounded back, and landed on a guilt stricken Cupid, all
he truly felt was numb.

He kept looking at Cupid, as he vanished in a shower of black and
emerald green sparkles.


As he rematerialized in his old room, at the Halls of War, he was
faced with haunted green eyes.


Ares pulled him against his chest and proceeded to rock him softly
as they sank to the cold marble floor together, murmuring all kinds
of things. He couldn't make them out exactly, but he recognized the
tones in which they were spoken. Compassion, sorrow and regret.
After a while he felt another pair of hands join the ones stroking
his back, carding through his hair, share in his grief. Feminine
hands, his mother's hands. He felt his mother' body cradle him from
behind the same way Ares was holding him against his chest.


And yet all he felt was numb.


But then why was he crying?


Why were his cheeks wet?


If all he was inside, was dead.





Title: Fighting Temptation (2/?)

Chapter: Fallen From Grace

Author: The angelic vampire

Email: deconynckmarion@hotmail.com

Feedback: yes please, :) deconynckmarion@hotmail.com

Rating: R-ish/NC-17-ish

Fandom: Xena: The Warrior Princess/ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Pairing: C/S mentioned, C/Ps and many more

Disclaimer: I do not own the X:WP/H:TLJ fandoms

Warnings: mention of M/M, F/M, Angst, etc...

Summary: Strife loved Cupid, he truly did. But even he has to admit
to that which he has been ignoring all these years. They both can
fight off temptation, but only one of them does.

Websites:
My Yahoo Group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thecolourblood/
My LJ
http://www.livejournal.com/users/vampiric_mcd/


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Strife was studiously ignoring the pitying glances that were still
being sent his way. Really didn't these people have a life of
their own. He was a member of the House of War and he would be damned, if
he would let Cupid make an even bigger mockery than he already had.
He continued to sharpen the blade of his one of his daggers, as he
imperceptibly took in the proceedings around him.

The entire pantheon was in a tizzy over the latest reports on Dahok
and the newly made Goddess Callisto. It seemed that their pre-emptive
matters towards the first threat were severely being undermined by
Xena's little sidekick and her offspring Hope .

Of course, knowing how Zeus' mind worked, that would mean that he
would hold the House of War responsible for it. After all, Zeus would
only see the demigod status of the Warrior Princess, trace it back to
Ares and make a rash decision. The fact that Zeus had called a
informal meeting with most of the 12 and their higher ranking members
of House, didn't ease any of the nervousness he had been
concealing since the start of this debacle.

He covertly let his eyes land on Apollo and frowned. The man was
leaning into his son Asclepius and seemed to be listening quite
unwaveringly. The pair shared a sun touched skin tone and golden
hair, they were both fairly tall Gods and had a classic look to them.
Apollo had deep blue eyes and Asclepius had grey ones. Both were so
focused on one and other, that Strife felt that they had to be
unaware of their surroundings. Something that he never was. That
didn't mean that nothing ever took him by surprise, but it hardly
ever happened. And even when it did, he took it in and he dealt with
it.

His lips curled back in a silent snarl, he always had to. He always
did. His shoulder blades twitched, a sure sign that he was being
observed. The fact that he knew Cupid had been wanting to talk to him
for over a month, as well as the fact that he had arrived with
Aphrodite only minutes ago, reduced the options down to one
featherbrained God really.

He clenched his jaw tightly and ignored the urge to look at his ex-
fiancé. There really was nothing left to say, no bonds to bind
them together. He hoped – Psyche – choked on one of Cupid's
pristine virginal white feathers. He let his eyes scan the room, selectively
ignoring the part where Aphrodite was preening under Hephaesthus'
gaze, which also consequently held Cupid trying to catch his gaze
without making a scene. Strife held back a snort at that, fat chance
really. That part of his life was over, no matter how much it hurt
him. He needed to get over Cupid and fast, it wouldn't do to
linger over things that could never be. He'd lost too much, he would not
lose his whatever pride he still had left. Avoidance was the key.

His eyes landed on Hermes who was covertly watching Apollo. The sandy-
haired God had a small build really, which no doubt helped him
substantially in his travels from one point to the other, yet still.
Hermes looked surprisingly frail, if you considered him.

Slim wrists, slim waist, slim necks, slim ankles, slim sandal winged
feet.

Strife didn't dislike the God, Hermes could be quite a hoot if he
wanted to. And the man was cunning, something Strife always admired.
It was east to stomp into a room and intimidate somebody to get
something done, it was another matter entirely to achieve the same
purpose on a more hidden level.

The fact that Hermes was the God of thieves probably helped, not to
mention that he'd fathered Auto, who Strife found to be
absolutely hilarious.

Still, Hermes had potential. Not as a lover, no. Not only because
Strife didn't feel ready to have another lover, to have another
anything at the moment, but because Hermes had been pining away for
Apollo for over a hundred years at the very least.

Not that anyone besides Strife knew of course, and even he
wouldn't have know if it hadn't been for a drunken confession Hermes had
made, before Cupid and Strife had even been together. He'd urged Hermes
to do something about his feelings, but the God had refused, claiming
that it would only bring him pain.

Strife snorted quietly, in retrospect, Strife wished he had taken the
same road with Cupid. The one not travelled. A sharp pang exploded in
the regions of his heart and out of the corner of his eye, he could
see both Cupid and Aphrodite flinch. Right. Keeping a tight hold over
his emotions he continue to stare at the God of Thieves. Hermes
looked up and caught Strife's gaze. Strife nodded at him and
Hermes discreetly inclined his head. He glanced back at Apollo, then back at
Strife and offered the God of Mischief a self depreciating smile.
Strife grinned sadly, then let his eyes roam around again.

Artemis and Athena were obviously talking about the amazons, by the
way that he could see the fire glowing in Artemis' frigid eyes.
It
was the only thing that got the Goddess so worked up. He snorted
slightly and Athena surprised him somewhat by looking over her
shoulder at him, as Artemis poured herself a chalice of Olympian
wine.

Athena nodded at him once, then promptly turned around before he
could act on her acknowledgement. One of Strife's eyebrows rose,
without him truly being aware of it. Strange, he mused as he let his
eyes slide of Athena once more. She shivered once, and Strife frowned
slightly.

Very strange.

His eyes landed on Demeter and Poseidon who were no doubt waspishly
commenting on whatever everyone else was wearing. Well, waspishly in
Demeter's case, Poseidon seemed to have a liking for fashion that
nearly rivalled Aphrodite's. He also noticed that whenever
Poseidon drank from his personal sea-shell decorated mug, Demeter almost
hungrily searched the room they were in.

Strife had no doubts that she was waiting for her daughter and Hades
to pop in, so she could make herself the centre of another scene
again. Disgusting really. He let his eyes travel once more and landed
on Hestia.

A true smile curved his lips upwards as he took in Hestia and her
relaxed façade. Clever cunning old trickster that she was. She
looked up and Strife offered her a full brown grin. Hestia smiled openly and
slowly rose. She walked graciously towards Strife and subsequently
Ares as well as Eris, who had been quietly talking about the
situation at hand.

Ares and Eris stood up, and Strife concentrated on making a luscious
yet comfortable chair for Hestia.

"Ares dear." She spoke as she kissed Ares warmly on the
cheek, then looked at Eris. "Rissy darling." And promptly kissed Eris as
well.

"How are things going, I trust you're all well. I mean you
have to be, since I haven't seen both of you for ages. All those cookies
wasted on my already plump figure." She spoke, chastising them
slightly.

Both his unc and his mom scuttled their feet slightly, as if
they'd been caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar. Strife hid
away a grin.

"We're sorry, Auntie Hestie." Eris spoke. Ares nodded
once.

Hestia huffed slightly, though all knew it was for show.

"I guess, I'll be seeing the two of you soon, then?"

The nodded and sat down, as Strife stood up to the slide Hestia's
chair just right. The fire Goddess smiled at him and kissed him as
she hugged him tightly. She sat down beside him and promptly took the
hand that was daggerless.

"At least this one has the decency to visit his poor old aunt
every few days." She spoke.

Strife refused to give into the urge to blush, well, he tried to
anyway. Hestia was a force to be reckoned with after all. She
squeezed his hand and Strife locked eyes with her. He could see the
concern and the love directed at him and he squeezed back once, to
reassure her.

A shower of deep purple sparkles erupted almost silently in the space
beside them, as Hades and Persephone appeared. The hairs on the back
of Strife's neck rose immediately and his head swivelled
discreetly towards Poseidon and Demeter.
Persephone and Hades inconspicuously tried to seat themselves before
Demeter noticed them, but it was too late.

Strife watched as Demeter glanced in their direction and a determined
look came upon her face. She whispered something to Poseidon who
nodded once and then squared her shoulders as she turned to walk
straight at the Asphodelian royal couple.

Persephone groaned slightly and out of the corner of his eye, he
could see Persephone hide her head in her upturned hands. Hades'
good natured expression quickly transformed into a scowl that wouldn't
look out of place at a battlefield.

Strife's eyes flicked across the room and his eyes landed on the
Persian rug that Zeus had gotten as a godly peace offering after one
of the many battles.

He really shouldn't.

He turned towards Hestia who was watching Demeter with squinted eyes.
Surely she remembered that both Strife and Persephone were about the
same age, and that they had been and still were the best of friends,
even if nearly no one in the pantheon knew that. Hestia's warm
and inviting home temple, far away from prying Olympian eyes had been a
safe haven for them and they had spent years with the fierce, yet
loving fire Goddess.

"So auntie Hes" Strife spoke good-naturedly, mind twisting
and turning. "How is that pain we discussed coming along? I hope
it's all gone by now? You really shouldn't let it irritate you for such a
long time."

Hestia turned towards him, one eyebrow raised, calculation to be
detected in her eyes. She smiled sweetly at Strife, who was tracking
Demeter's slow yet purposeful strife towards Persephone and her
husband.

"I've got a feeling that I'll be feeling much better in a
short
while, Erin, my dear."

At precisely the right moment a single spark of Mischief was
broadcasted, then immediately retracted in a matter of milliseconds.
The Persian rug dented up slightly, just as Demeter lifted a foot.
She tripped and time seemed to slow down as she landed face first on
the floor.

Every God and Goddess turned to look at the fallen Goddess in the
sudden deafening silence.

Demeter lifted her head and turned to look at Strife with a murderous
expression.

"You!" She screeched. "How dare you!"

Strife's purposely innocent face only seemed to further enrage
her, as she snarled at him, ignoring Asclepius who'd come forward to
help her up.

"I'm sorry, aunt Demeter, I don't know what you mean. Are
you quite
alright, that seemed like a nasty fall?"

She screamed as she launched herself at Strife. Immediately the House
of War snapped to attention. Ares drew his sword and Eris drew her
daggers in the time Demeter needed to get loose from the restraining
hold of Asclepius. Strife just twirled the dagger, he'd been
holding
about.

Demeter stopped as she was faced with the 3 most highly ranked
members of War waiting for her to come into range.
She looked at Strife.

"I demand for satisfaction."

Strife blinked innocently.

"Well I'm sorry, but I think that's more a matter for the
House of
Love."

"You tripped me!" Demeter hissed, seemingly more enraged and
embarrassed by the chuckles that arose at Strife's comment.

"Really now." Hestia spoke affronted. " Erin and I were
just talking about one of my aches, he certainly did not stand up and trip you,
sister dear."

Demeter rounded on Hestia, then shrank back somewhat at the fire
burning in Hestia's eyes.

"Age has made you senile, Hestia."

"And it has made `you' bitter, sister." Hestia spoke
sharply. She briefly looked at Persephone then back at Demeter.

"I think you just need to sit down beside Possy and cool down a
bit."

Poseidon groaned at the renewed chuckles, but came forward to
retrieve Demeter.
He took the earth Goddess by the arm and tugged her along. He looked
over his shoulder and mock glared at Hestia.

"Possy, Tia?"

Hestia blinked innocently.

"Yes Possy dear?"

He chuckled and planted the fuming Demeter next to him on one of the
large clamps he'd make appear, which served as chairs.

Purple and silver sparkles announced Zeus and Hera's arrival and
everyone settled down.

As they appeared in the room, Strife looked at Persephone who was
looking at him with a bemused smile. He winked once and her mouth
dropped open to a small `o'. She blushed and winked at him as
well, gratitude flashing in her eyes.

Strife just smiled and looked up crossing Hades' gaze, which was
firmly locked unto him. The man raised an eyebrow and Strife raised
in return, wickedly grinning. The man inclined his head and smiled at him, before their attention
was usurped by Zeus himself.

Zeus and Hera settled down and Strife bit back a groan and the glare
Zeus sent towards their section. He just knew this wasn't going
to be pretty. A persistent throb settled at his temples and he ignored the
urge to massage them.

"I believe" Zeus' angry voice penetrated his mind. "that some people
have some explaining to do." He turned to look at Ares, one eyebrow raised.

"Ares, what do you have to say for your offspring dallying about
with the mother of Dahok's spawn?"

Strife closed his eyes, he hated it when he was proved wrong about
matters like these.



Title: Fighting Temptation (3/?)

Chapter: Havoc and Mayhem

Author: The angelic vampire

Email: deconynckmarion@h...

Feedback: yes please, :) deconynckmarion@h...

Rating: R-ish/NC-17-ish

Fandom: Xena: The Warrior Princess/ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Pairing: C/S mentioned, C/Ps and many more

Disclaimer: I do not own the X:WP/H:TLJ fandoms

Warnings: mention of M/M, F/M, Angst, etc...

Summary: Strife loved Cupid, he truly did. But even he has to admit
to that which he has been ignoring all these years. They both can
fight off temptation, but only one of them does.

Websites:
My Yahoo Group
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thecolourblood/
My LJ
http://www.livejournal.com/users/vampiric_mcd/


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Chapter 3



Strife groaned slightly as a throbbing pain in his temples nearly
made him double over. He would probably have been doubled over, if it
hadn't been for the fact that he was already lying in a scrunched
up position on his bed. He was having the worst month ever. It had been
nearly four weeks, since Zeus had performed the `it's all
your fault, deal with it routine' directed at the House of War. The situation
however had far from changed, in fact it was worsening every day.

If Dahok didn't give them trouble, then Callisto was burning down
a village. If that wasn't a problem then Hercules or Xena and their
sidekicks were screwing up their plans to deal with the other two
threats to Olympus.

He massaged his temples. In the meanwhile, Strife had been hit with
increasingly worse migraines and nausea. Most of the time, he could
deal with it, but sometimes it completely knocked the wind out of him
and he froze up. His instincts were beginning to resemble a faulty
warded alarm system and his reflexes were decreasing in their
velocity.

Not to mention that whenever he zapped from one place to another, he
had the urge to toss up whatever he'd eaten as breakfast, lunch
or dinner.

It was getting so bad that Ares and his mother had begun to notice
that he wasn't up to speed.
Luckily, the demands that Zeus had made of them on top of their
already filled schedule left little room for interrogation. Strife
sighed and dragged himself out of his bed.

Dizziness took a hold of him and he desperately clasped the edge of
his bed. He drew together all his determination and forced himself
upright. He braced himself along the wall of his room and stumbled
towards his door, making his way to the Main Hall of War, where he
knew Ares would be waiting with new assignments.

As he made it to the Hall, he took in the buzzing of the several Gods
that were present there.
Ares and Eris were seated on the head of a large breakfast table, his
seat on Ares' right empty.

Phobos, Deimos, Phonos, Ate and several other members and allies of
the House of War were loudly discussing the orders they'd been
given for the day.

While they were a tightly knit group and looked out for each other,
their very natures gave way to a sometimes rough or loud interaction.
They'd kill for each other, but they were still a part of War.

Another wave of dizziness hit Strife and he closed his eyes slightly.
His temples felt as if they were ready to burst with tension and the
smell of Ambrosia made him feel sick to his stomach. He braced
himself more firmly against the wall as a sharp pain in his abdomen
laced through him. A whimper escaped him as he felt pain unlike
anything he'd experienced before.

The sudden quiet made him open his eyes, as he looked at the horror
struck faces of his close family. Ares and his mother especially
looked as if they'd been blasted to the nether regions of
Tartarus.

Another explosion of pain in his abdomen hit him hard and he numbly
fell to his knees. Liquid seeped from his nose. He touched it and
looked at his hand. Blood. He looked back up, not really
understanding what was happening as he then fell forward when another
wave of pain struck.

A split second passed before Ares and Eris zapped into existence next
to him and urgently pleaded with him for something. He was turned
over and he could discern several gasps, but he couldn't make out
what was being said. All he felt was the pain. It all evolved around
the pain.

And then darkness.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



It was an odd sight really, if you came to think about it. Several
deities related to the House of War were pacing in the antechamber of
the Temple of Healing, as well as the odd God or Goddess that
didn't have any connections to their House. Ares had an arm around Eris, who
looked distraught with worry. As time passed more deities appeared
into the temple at an alarming rate.

After a while, Hestia zapped in as well and immediately made her way
towards Ares and Eris. She kissed Eris and hugged her tightly as the Goddess of Discord
tried to suppress her grief. Eris nestled herself in Hestia's
embrace and the fire Goddess caressed Ares' face.

"Hecate told me." She whispered subdued, a hand combing
through Eris' raven black locks of hair.

Ares nodded once as his eyes slid towards the Asphodelian Goddess,
who was wringing her hands together as she tried to comfort a worried
Persephone. It was funny really how the bride-that-wasn't and the
Queen-who-was had become such close friends, in fact, Persephone was
quite possibly the only reason that Hecate had forgiven Hades for
leading her on.

And Ares was quite aware of the fact that Hades knew Hecate's
nearly invaluable presence to his realm then. All things considered, Hades
could have made one of the worst Asphodelian tactical decision by
alienating Hecate, especially since he'd given up so many things
for that Goddess already. Then again, Ares had labelled Hades fickle in
his attentions. Maybe not like Zeus was and probably always would be,
but once commitment arose, Hades had always been pulled back.

He watched as the purple-haired Goddess rubbed soothing circles on
the back of Asphodel's reigning Queen. He hoped that Persephone
could hold Hades' affections. Dimly he remembered Strife's copious
affections for this frail looking, strong Goddess and decided that
Hades better not take advantage. Then again, the man had nearly
shaken Olympus off it's foundations with the kidnapping and
consequent wooing of Persephone.

He watched as Persephone leaned forward and hugged Hecate tightly as
the purple-haired Goddess inhaled sharply. Persephone visibly
tightened her grip, hanging on by a thread together. Fates be damned
should they cut Erin's life thread, Ares would wage War unlike
anything Olympus had ever seen. Hecate's arms came up around
Persephone and she hugged the smaller Goddess just as tightly, Ares
noticed.

He knew that kind of comfort, than kind of love. Chosen family.

Deep dark eyes looked up briefly and Ares could detect just a hint of
purple in those worried liquid onyx eyes. Strife had always thought
Hecate to be one of the few deities outside the House of War that
deserved his respect. Ares could see why he felt like that, he nodded
at her and she acknowledged him with an imperceptible nod of her own,
then turned to a regal Persephone.

"Do you know what happened yet?" Hestia spoke softly,
breaking the cursed silence. Ares turned back to her, just as Eris frantically
shook her head.

"They haven't told us anything, yet." She whispered, her
voice near breaking with the emotion she was trying to hide. Ares put his head
on her shoulder blades and let himself soak up the limited comfort
Hestia had to offer. Abundant, yet still limited, for all he could
really focus on was that his boy was hurt. As he met his aunt's
gaze, he could see the anxiety and worry in her eyes as well.

"He looked so pale." Eris whispered suddenly, softly.
Ares' heart clenched, this was the first time that he'd witnessed his sister
so fragile, not even the break up with Erin's father had been this
devastating.

"And the blood, Gods aren't supposed to bleed like that."

Her breath caught and Hestia pressed Eris closer to her body. She let
her hand wave through Ares' black curls as well.

"He'll be alright, he's always alright. Such a good
boy." Hestia spoke. Ares wondered if she could detect the worry as easily as he
could in her voice.

"My boy." Eris whispered, then turned slightly, clasping
Ares' arms. Dark brown eyes, trimming with tears locked unto his emerald shining
orbs.

"Our boy."

Ares nodded. He'd raised Strife like the boy was his own, and he
couldn't love him more then he did. Perhaps he even loved Strife
more than he did his children with Aphrodite, for they had only come to
know him after a few years. Strife had been brought up in the Halls
of War and in his lap from the moment he'd come into this world.

"Our boy" He spoke, trying to soothe his sister, but the
tremor in his voice betrayed the fear he felt. He'd never been so afraid in
his entire life.

Hestia smoothed her hand down his back and he leaned into the comfort.



~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



The doors opened slowly and every head swivelled to them. A grim
faced Apollo and a tired looking Asclepius entered the antechamber.
Eris, Hestia and Ares immediately stood up from where they had been
seated and walked towards them.

Apollo looked at them as he clasped Asclepius' shoulder.

"Ares, Eris, Hestia" He spoke softly. "perhaps, you'd
like to step inside?"

Eris' breath hitched as Ares gripped her arms, supporting her.
They nodded briefly and Hestia followed them into the room. Apollo nodded
at Asclepius who looked at the many volatile Gods and Goddesses
desperately waiting for absolution.

Apollo closed the doors behind him.

He looked at the 3 Gods that were looking at the small corridor in
which they were waiting.

Apollo sighed and captured their attention.

"Where is he?" Eris whispered.

Apollo inclined his head towards the second door, and he watched as
all three deities made their way towards the chamber.

Eris softly opened the door and entered. As soon as she spotted her
baby, she gasped. Ignoring that Hera herself was smoothing down her
boy's brow with a cool cloth, she launched herself forward and
took in her child's features.

Strife looked paler then she'd ever seen him. He was lying
immobile in the bed, unaware of where he was.

A trembling hand reached for the God's cheek and Eris caressed
that silken soft skin.

She looked behind her and nodded at Ares and Hestia who came closer.
Ares took Eris into a comforting embrace, as Hestia gasped when she
saw how truly Strife looked.

They too ignored the Queen of the Gods as they focussed on Apollo.

"What's wrong with him?" Hestia asked, a tremble in her
voice as she clasped Strife's hand in hers.

Apollo sighed as he looked eyes with a silent Hera.
He focussed back on the others, visibly bracing himself.

"He's pregnant."

Eris stiffened and Hestia locked eyes with Ares, whose heart clenched.

"Pregnant." Eris replied flatly, eyes raging. The scene too
reminiscent of what she had been through. Ares remembered all the
times Eris had confided into him that she knew Erin loved Cupid, but
that she was afraid that he would end up like her. Alone, weighed
down with too many choices and too few options. In those raging eyes,
Ares could see the desire to scream at the injustice of it all. To
rage. To gauge out the one remaining eye the fates had for delivering
her fate on her child.

"Yes, pregnant." Apollo spoke, interrupting satisfying
thoughts of vengeance. "The child's about three months old, but –"

"It's Cupid's then." She interrupted him, cold
calculation entering her eyes.
Apollo looked at Hera, whose eyebrow rose. He turned back
towards Eris and nodded.

"We've already distinguished Strife's and Cupid's
power signals in the child, in case Strife would have had another lover, the timing
–"

"How dare you" Eris hissed, eyes glinting. Ares knew his
sister was a hair breath away from erupting in a temper Hera had gifted them both
with. Locking eyes with his mother's emerald eyes, he could see
the worry and love there. Love and worry she tried so hard to keep from
them. So they wouldn't think her weak, so she could keep her
status as ice-Queen.

Look what it had brought them. Her grandchild, his claimed son and
they still couldn't let go of the facades they had created
millennia ago. His mother's eyes averted as she smoothed Strife's brown
down again with the cool cloth.

"Strife would never have cheated on that featherbrained
idiot." Eris continued.

Apollo nodded in acquiesce and thankfully breathed a sigh of relief
as Ares placed a hand on his twin's shoulder. She looked at Ares
but didn't look repentant that she'd called the Cupid an idiot.
Ares didn't really disagree. He thought he'd taught his son better
than to throw away someone as precious as Erin, as Strife.

"Then what seems to be the problem?" Hestia asked, skilfully
dissipating the tense atmosphere.

Apollo turned to her, then back to the Ares and Eris.

"He's not getting enough Ambrosia. From the residue in his
system, I can only conclude that he's barely eating enough for one, let
alone two. This would discount for any nausea, headaches, anything like
that. The child is draining Strife for the Ambrosia it needs to
survive, of course in doing so, it's draining Strife of his Godly
reserves and even his power levels."

"But, I've never heard of a pregnancy doing something like
this to a deity." Hestia spoke concerned, breaching subjects screaming at
them all. Questions that needed answers.

"That would be because there are `complications'."
Hera spoke softly, but clearly.
Everyone turned to look at her.

"Should it only have been an undetected pregnancy, all Strife
would have needed was some additional Ambrosia." She spoke as she
looked down at her unresponsive grandson once more.

"However, since Strife has broken off things with the child's
father, he's also methodically erasing all his feelings for the Love
God."

She looked up gravely.

"By doing so, he's denying the possibility of a child being
conceived in a loving environment. That is what nearly made him pass over into
the Void."

Eris and Ares paled dramatically as Hestia gasped.

"He needs to accept that he's pregnant and that at the time
of the conception, he loved Cupid. I'm not saying that he should
rekindle any relationship or feelings for Cupid, but he needs to accept that
that was how things stood at that moment in time."

Hestia looked at Strife as she asked another question, that was lying
heavy on her heart.

"What happens if he can't?" The question that lay on each
of their hearts.

Apollo sighed, eyebrows creasing in concern as he answered before
Hera could continue..

"The child and Strife might – will probably – vanish into
the Void."




tbc


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