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The Ball

collab between: @KZOMBI3 x @Gothelk
Rome fell to the filter of golden orange — bright to the flakes that settled in the deep green of rolling grass against the vanguard of hills. Summer lit her torch against the sky in an array of gorgeous oranges and yellows to lick the cypress trees in flames. Wheat swayed against the warm breeze like an arm brushed against the soft canid hide of earth that pressed her snout to the sun’s hand.

Upon the winding road, settled against cobbled stone to the post of a fence, jet black hair curled to the swaying wheat behind him. The huff of air against his cheek had him smile bright to the warm caress with his feet swaying slow against the rock. He took a deep breath to taste the birth of Rome on his tongue, eyes lifted to the flowering sky above him.

In this he could see the rise of something new in the iris of the earth’s ceiling and it breathed life into him. Breathed life against the curls of his hair as he giggled to the sudden hands at his sides. Thin and elegant, they gripped him to pull him into the fields of golden wheat — into piles of giggles that sang to the breeze brushing soft against the golden tendrils.


The word sank into his lungs in a deep breath that sank heavy upon his shoulders. Bitter had the word become until sorrow had taken her to the very depths of grief. The word tasted fresh of it against the pallet of his tongue. It only softened the memory of her. It only softed to the wheat of her hair in summer fields. It only softed at the bright smell of sun and fields of golden grain and the gentle acid of pomegranate that burned tears into the corner of his eyes.

It took a moment. Mars could only catch himself in the suddenness. All the stoicism that encased him in fine Italian marble cracked to reveal the soft, raven haired boy against a Roman fence swirling his feet in fresh, flame-licked air. It settled the hardness of his flame to a simmering sweet bonfire alight with cypress smoke that bit at his eyes.

Then he enveloped her in arms that covered her shoulder and back, hunched over with his head pressing wetness to her shoulder. Contra spem spero Mars whispered against the gold of his mother’s hair. “You died upon the earth, but not to the very stars of Rome, mother. Now you live for both?” He questioned, daring not a look upon his mother’s face for fear of his hopes crumbling like ash through his fingers.

There was a comfort, deeply rooted in her bones, at the feeling of his arms coming around to encase her in a warm embrace. Strong, sturdy, absolutely home. Like a long lost ghost of a memory surging back to place itself in the forefront of her mind.

A young boy of dark curls, now stood before her in place of the well grown man, playing among the golden fields as smoke billowed like clouds above their heads. The typical summer haze was pulsing with a new wave of heat. He turned around to make sure she was following, hair flaxen gold to match that which they waded through. Taking her hand to lead her further to the ledge where they were able to view the destruction before the phoenix would rise from the ashes settled on the scorched earth. Anew and better than before. The laugh that had escaped them both, capturing him in her arms from behind as she lifted him into the air. The way he clung back to her. A familiar pressure built within her now as it did all those years ago.

Tears bite at the edge of her vision as she tries to keep them back. If not for her sake, for his. Her boy. Her favorite son.

Pulling away only slightly, enough to gaze up into those orbs of duality her breath caught in her chest once more. As beautiful as he always was, more so now that he had grown into himself. Juno supposes they all have in some way or other. Cupping his cheeks with well manicured hands, eyes darting along every inch of his features she smiled so radiantly that the stars above should hang their heads in shame. "My son. There can be no glory for Rome without you." A subtle way for her to drop that he is more important to the queen than a city.

"Without you and Jupiter and Janus, there would be no Rome to herald."

Beneath the battering feet of clanking armor and metallic throes of pain and horror, between the cracks against the earth split and taken by strife, there was just a boy, raven hair curled, lit into darkened brown against the splitting sun and wide, paint splotched eyes crinkled by the tooth filled smile of his lips. Did he bury that boy deep into the core of his mind, wandering against the fragmented memories of sun touched skin, freckled to the heat of a Roman summer? Would Venus even recall the way he used to drag his feet loud along the dirt paths between sprawling farmlands?

”Carry yourself, Mars, like the world sits atop your head and each foot fall is a legion cutting a knife through desert sands.”

It felt like Rome himself spoke, hands upon his shoulders and kneeled to his ear.

“Move like summer against your heels, superbia meum. Laugh with butterflies against your chest and smile with the warmth that graces you every morning.”

Was that his mother? The way she talked, as if Rome was but secondary to the joy that sprung from his chest. He could hear it now, deep rumbles of her notes alight in his ear. Rome would look to him with adoration; Venus would see an equal; his sons would see a commander, to which, in his mother’s embrace, he feels as if that fails them time and time again. What contempt they must feel that the love pressed into his very chest by the gentle warmth of his mother’s tireless hands could not replicate itself in his stern looks, the reproaching intonation of his voice, the militaristic grip of his fist over their lives. Eternity must feel like torture to sons that feel no love from their father.

Mars pressed his eyes closed. He buried his head into his mother’s neck, stooped over and hunched, yet somehow smaller than the woman that reached up to embrace him. ”Rome would hang its head in shame, mother,” He whispered, ”That though you shower me in grace and pride, I feel only admonishment for my failures. To have stained even the memory of you now; I am a poor excuse for a son. Were I to have lived closer to the lessons you taught me, or even searched for a spattering of evidence of your survival.”

He furrowed his brows. ”I carried your name with me all this time, yet I could not live up to it.”

The words that spilled forth from the lips of her son before her were enough to crack through the armor she donned when approaching the eve of war. Still she clung to him, pulling him closer, squeezing him tighter. He needed the stability, always had. Her sweet boy. Her warrior. Hers. When she spoke it was as if they were thrown back in time. None of this colossal bullshit looming over them. Just the golden golden fields of wheat and grain dancing along to the tune of the subtle winds. Strong and sure, the words of a mother. A mother with burdens. "You have lived up to my name a thousand times over. You are not the only one to have failed in seeking, I too have fallen quite short to have only just announced myself to you.

Pulling away to gaze up at him through long lashes she gently shook his shoulders, gaining his somber attention and she was once again flooded with both relief at seeing him in the flesh once more, and the guilt that ate away at him. "But, here we are. Together once more and there isn't anything to pull me away." And as the surmounting gloom hung over them she was able to cut the tension with a haughty, "Rome can go fuck itself on my spear, my family is most important."

Though the wound of failure bit down against his throat, his mother’s words rang true. Mars could take the world by hand and let it drop, yet his mother would lean down to pry it from the depths and place it heavy against his palm. She would instill in him that failure did not mean an end, but rather a beginning. Though war and strategy took loss as merely a stepping stone to the next, it hadn’t occurred to him to apply that same methodology to other aspects of his life.

To think, after all these years all he required was that his mother take his cheeks to her hands and tell him what he needed to hear. Rather, that he just needed to listen in the first place.

A sigh left him and a smile broke through the hardened line of Mars’ lips. ”You would shout that to the heavens were you given the chance, mother,” Mars said, ”I am a coward to think of Rome over my own family, blood or not. I am glad to have a mother steadfast as you. I wondered, sometimes, how a mother could love strife incarnate, to see what her son wrought in the fields of battle. For glory or not, I shed blood and lacked remorse for those cast on the pyre. Perhaps Rome shouldn’t be everything to me. I am no Janus or Jupiter; the people mattered more than the power, anyhow. Maybe I just need to open my eyes more to the people around me, no?”

It came to him bright as daylight, the metallic odor sewing itself into the very fabric of the smoke that carried itself to darkened clouds. Were he to look up those days the fighting melted away to the seas, Mars would see each face molded to the clouds — smoke blotting out the sky. That he would look up one day to see his mother’s face there, his children’s, the loves of his life gnawed away at him the second the sky fell and they scorched the earth with their anger and confusion.

Mars shook himself of the thought. Aching away at their own pitying vulnerability did nothing for his own mental health. Taking his mother by the arm, he led her to the ground floor, eyes scanning the heads of each being in hopes the mongrel that planned this would meet his steeled gaze. They would find anger molten and cut in the depths of his pupils.

”Let me find you a drink, mother, and a seat,” Mars leaned low to her, hushed voice lowered beneath the din, ”I’m certain you want to give Jupiter a piece of your mind, but he deserves to rue in his worry for a moment more. You know best that man needs more than a tumble from his throne to get his own head out of his ass.”

A chuckle left him, eyes taking a glance up at Jupiter. ”Even a millennia isn’t a break enough from having to pry it out yourself, mother.”

A softened gaze hardens at the remembrance of her, er, of Jupiter. Self proclaimed king of gods. At one point, perhaps. Even still to this day? Maybe. Though the queen would never let him hear her say such things. Only boost an ego already too large to occupy the abysmal location they found themselves at for this sorry excuse for a gala. A roll of her eyes had her scoffing devolve into a chuckle, "He'd never be able to figure out whether he's pulling out or pushing in. Gods, he's ever the same, hmm." It was less of a question than a fact. No matter, he still held some sort of space in that heart of hers.

Turning her attention back to the handsome male draped on her arm, cradling her elbow like the gentlest of lifelines, she smiled warmly taking in the features of her son that were not as she remembered so many eons ago. His jaw, sharper. Eyes more piercing than Romulus' spear, darting back and forth throughout the room — as if she wouldn't have noticed? Juno may have been gone a millennia, but she was still his mother. Knew his habits of old. And knew that he was taking precautions. For what she couldn't say. Not yet.

"A drink sounds lovely. Do tell me, fili mi where is the rest of our lovely family." Words spoken sickly sweet would be enough to fool even that of other pantheons, but she was quite certain her son would be able to pick up on the intonations that plagued those few, simple words. Words that spoke volumes to the tune of 'Where is that mittatur procax of an ex of yours'. Her meaning clear, it had been far too long since their last reunion and if her memory served her justly, as it oft times did, when last they spoke it was not under the best of terms.

Hardened to the battles of war, it felt a mystery that Mars would treat the fragile beings beneath each pantheon with such tact and care. Or perhaps being erected the Father of the common Roman people did a number to soften the visage of battle that lay perpetual against chiseled marble. He leaned against the bar after letting his mother make herself comfortable upon one of the high stools. ”Your finest quality wine, please, and something sweet for me,” Mars smiled, a large tip sliding toward the harried bartender. A few flutes and the bottles found their way to him moments later and he nodded an appreciative thanks. ”I apologize for any hassle my friends may have caused you. Please, at the behest of the family running this gala, take a long break; the chill air is quite nice this time of night.”

With that he turned toward his mother, handing her a glass and sipping at his own. He cast his gaze once more over the raucous, peering through dancing limbs and whipping hair. Emerald glistened like a gem that cut through the rubble of darkness, sideled with the golden haired boy beside her. An outline of his wings, marble turned obsidian to the broken world crumbled at his feet. Unbridled love and conquest woven carefully to create the very heart of his son, yet he could feel the stitches having come undone through the years of strife that tolled away at his psyche. Too much of one thing left the other smothered beneath the fine wings pressed against his back.

Were he a better father, he’d share advice, yet love did not come to war as easily as he wanted. The way that his mother gave it freely to him and yet he found it so difficult to do the same. Perhap he merely wanted to keep it for himself, scared that her shadow would slip and falter in the many years she’d left this world. He carried her name, but carried her love for far longer, unable to look at it for fear his selfishness twisted and knotted, turned gold to malicious red.

Mars took a shaky sigh in, lifting the hand he held his drink in and pointing toward the figure swallowed in shimmering green and the marble cut of his son dipped to her side. ”Like father, like son. And, please, mother, you judge Venus much too harshly. Honestly, she offered me more kindness than I would have given myself,” Mars whispered, to which his gaze soon befell the madness of terror slipped through like a lightning cracked silver between two radiant glories.

What tipped the balance from love to panicked terror incarnate, Mars could not ascertain. Like all deities, however, the patron reflected their domain and no amount of anything could change that. Mars would never change his sons for the life of him. Yet, he felt the shift in times, society molding itself a brighter, less violent future, cast two feared and beloved ideals to the deepening shadows of the world. What could a father do to make his sons feel wanted, as if they belonged still, rather than cast out in fear of what they represent?

Mars’ brows furrowed, knowing full well Venus cared little for the hound beside her. Maybe that was too harsh; Metus was her son, beloved, yet Mars knew the depths of her disappointment.

His eyes flickered toward his mother once more, taking her hands in his. ”How does one do right by their children? How did you take a being like me, filled with the anger, vindication, and prejudice of a million people and mold me into what I am today?” His words whispered of desperation, like the world wanted of him, yet he could not readily give, ”How am I not just a being filled with the ferocity of war, fueled only by blood and fire? How am I able to see more of what I represent? How can I do that for my own children that their place in this world is just as solid as my own?”

Through the concerned etched into the lines of his brows and clouding the periphery of his vision, Mars saw a glimpse of his third son. He paused, staring at his mother for but a moment before whipping his head on its swivel. Like the honeyed fog slipping through pine and morning dew, he could smell the both of them. His hands tightened their grip slight enough to squeeze once he finally caught sight of them. The line of his lips tightened, pulling into a frown.

“To think that I have done right by you all warms my bones and lifts my soul to heights never before reached.” The smile she wore never faltered, only seemed to grow more, basking in the confidence her beloved bestowed upon her. Delicate fingers turned over the hands holding her, gripping her, seeking answers. Rubbing small, soothing circles into his skin.

Though immovable he was not. Juno was attuned to the smallest of quivers emanating from War incarnate. Bated breath waits for words of encouragement to spill forth, but it was words that tongue tied the once and future queen. Swiping her tongue across her lips offered her little reprieve as she mulled over words that would lift her son’s gaze up past the horizons of a new dawn as he once did. Before the fall. Before this…mess.

“We are born of the cosmos, of the breath of our parents. Of the earth and all her bountiful offerings. However we are molded, shaped, structured and cultivated by that which surrounds us.” There was a pause as she took time to set her empty glass on the counter and calm the rushing felt in her veins. “Nature vs. Nurture. Yes, you are a being of war, but that is not all you are. My most beloved, you are the father of a nation of people who look to you as a means of securing peace in a time of war.”

There was something truly building within her as she tried to get him to see and understand everything that she had already known. That titles and accolades did not make someone, but rather the situations and experiences do. The Roman queen wanted to remind him to think back on his dear sister, Bellona, and ask was she not of the same cloth as him? And yet, should memory serve her correctly, does not possess an ounce of the same virtues Mars does? “You cannot take what has been laid out before you as immortal as we are.” A ghost of a smile crossed her features as her gaze locked onto her family standing amongst the crowd, absent to her presence.

“Just as Metus will always rule his domain, Cupid and Timor too. But that is not all they are, fili mi. Just as you are not just War. Not just Rome. Take heed to remember these words. Oftentimes just something as simple as time spent together, nurturing that nature within them, is enough.”

Words slotted finely into place, elegant and nice to listen too. Backed by the experience and history of a woman — of a goddess meant to reign above all others, sacred in love and life, those words gave more meaning than maybe even Juno herself intended. Mars fell silent, let it stir between them as he stared at the palms of his hands upturned in hers. The Greeks had a word for this and, though feuds fueled between them raged in the minds of others, Mars did not shy away from acknowledging their influence, their strength, and culture. Agape, unconditional, transcendent love felt strongest between kin, whether by blood or covenant.

Without a sound of utterance on his lips, Mars released his hands from Juno’s grip and stood from his seat to pull her forward. ”I am lucky to have a mother such as you. Don’t let the time spent away from us burden you, please,” He whispered. If any notion of the hardened stoic chiseled to stand as righteous as any Roman had cracked and fallen away, now with his voice soft and sincere, filled with emotion, it came obvious that each carefully placed veneer vanished in the presence of his mother. ”You are and always will be my mother above all else and that you are here, breathing and healthy, is what truly matters.” Mars continued, ”I love you, mom.”

ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʟʟ
ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʜᴀꜱᴇ ᴄᴏɴᴛɪɴᴜᴇꜱ

Interactions: @KZOMBI3 x @Gothelk Collab

Being bum-rushed by the equivalent of a speeding train resulting in the flute of champagne to spill out of his slacked grip and shatter once it reached the floor below, only served to increase the wolf's exacerbation and disdain for the predicament he found himself in for the night. However, upon coming face to face with the party responsible, the silver wolf was able to clamp down on anything too embarrassing from flying forth from his lips. Instead of gawking at the Moon himself, like he was typically prone to do in situations where he knew he couldn't be observed doing so, as if on reflex the scowl from earlier, the one that was more fitting for the Allfather than Hati's perpetual prey, was fixated across his face as he responded in kind, “Do you ever watch where you’re going? Isn’t it in your nature to just… live in the moment regardless of those around you?” Even Hati had to flinch at the words spewing forth, though it isn't like he would show that outwardly, so he resigned himself to just standing there, hand dripping in faded gold, remnants of glass glittered on the floor space between them.

Though to be completely honest, Hati was anything less than ecstatic to see his..., well, he wasn't entirely sure what they were to one another. At one point, friends before graduating to hunter and the hunted. After the fall it descended into something resembling a kinship once more. Nowadays when they spend time with one another Hati always finds himself trailing after the Moon, as was his destiny. His curse. But, with the view that was presented to him as he trailed behind on the heels of the Moon, dust in his wake, the sight was all worth it. A cross for the wolf to bear honorably. Hati would graciously and all too eagerly jump on that grenade.

A mumbled, incoherent form of an apology fell from the tip of his tongue as Hati stood to his full height, head turned away from the light of the Moon, a hand rubbing at the corners of his mouth. Anything to keep from actually having the words be heard. Mortification would consume him if he needed to be pleasant to someone once considered his ’enemy’ “I’m assuming you’ve only just arrived. We should get drinks. I need to get a drink, a new one.” Splendid recovery. Though he wanted to just stalk away through any of the other adequate candidates for prey, Hati held his ground. For now. His presence was the only being in all the realms that could hold his attention and command his following like a well trained mutt one would find in a dog show. It isn't something Hati particularly finds solace in but he isn't blind by ignorance to know that he is who he is around Maní.

The moon stood all but dazed to the wolf before him, watching the idiosyncrasies that befell the little movements of his head or arms. Silver coat and steel eyes always moved in such a way that fixed Mani’s gaze to the once proud son of Fenrir. It came to a point that the moon would dally against the horizon, waiting for the stomp of paws against the nebulous void surrounding him. The beat of his heart could stand testament to that feeling; every inch this close to Hati pumped that much more adrenaline into his veins.

Yet, that rush Mani held only to himself. It was preciously settled into the dust of his skin and kept from the hate that gnawed after him, biting and nipping at his heels. Though, that malice descended into contempt for which Mani could only ever wonder at. Duty bound Hati to him, so perhaps that hatred for duty slipped into hatred for the moon itself, a symbol branded beneath the dusted silver twilight of his fur.

”Huh…? Oh, yeah, no doubt, no doubt,” Mani coughed out, looking down immediately at the spillage he caused. He’d missed most of the words that slipped from Hati’s mouth, only fixated on the scowl that spread anger across his face. Contempt, even directed at him, looked well placed on Hati’s face. Weird, to think that, especially with a once giant wolf all but bared his fangs at him.

Mani turned and immediately began his path around the crowd. ”You stay here! I’ll go get that drink of yours. Think of it as an apology or something, yeah…. yeah,” Mani called out, one hand raising to offer a wave. Might as well get out of his own head while he’s at it. Hati looking at him like that both tore a hole in his chest and thrilled him. The thought of his sharp canines hovering over his neck coupled with the thought of Hati actually ripping at his jugular shot blood straight to his cheeks and sent his heart plummeting all at once. Confliction made him dizzy and the heat of people everywhere sent him onto an off-kilter course through the party.

The sight of Mani's retreating figure was both appreciated and a rip of flesh through his chest. Sure, Hati was able to allow his gaze to freely roam the expanse of his figure, but he was alone once more. Something within him compelled him forward, to move and stick to him like a silvery shadow. His silvery shadow. The one that Hati has always been to someone as magnificent as the moon. He can remember the times where his presence wasn't called for and he and his brother dwelled on Earth in those times. Sprawled out in the Ironwood, basking in the glow of the moon as he shone down on all the inhabitants. Running through the brush and undergrowth, chasing prey that didn't have the glory of the moon attached to their name, and wondering if Mani could look down and see him. Foolish thoughts of a foolish boy long since grown. Hati knew better now.

With only a few simple strides the silver wolf was easily able to catch up and eclipse the moon in his silvery shadow. A firm hand was placed on Mani's shoulder to let him know of his presence, a courtesy he never would have offered before. A smooth yet husky ghost of a chuckle escaped him as he turned Mani around, a sick form of humor splaying in the words he speaks and his face, "Can't ever seem to not follow you like some little lost pup." Hati's words were not meant to be heard, but he also chose not to hide them away from someone so intimate with him as Mani was. How easy would it be to rip into (moon rock) made flesh? He was so warm, compared to Hati who seemed to only run cold to the touch. It must have only been his imagination, though the moonstruck look he was giving him definitely was not. Hunger and competition and defiance, wrapped up nice and neat in a black three piece suit standing just over the head of the moon. Silver gaze bore into light of the moon, cutting through dark lashes, like branches of winter trees against a snowy backdrop. "Some fearsome doom bringer I've become," as much as the last bit hurt, Hati was a master at erecting a wall of stone before him. He had to in order to have been under Odin's thumb for so long. And so he added a smirk to drive home the subtle joke that may or may not have been true. Hati wouldn't put it past Mani to see through his lies and bullshit, but if he could pretend a little longer that he was at least smarter than the moon, he would be content.

Not sooner did the hand gripped his shoulder did Mani turn with two drinks in hand. He handed one to Hati, trying to hide the hitch in his breath at the small touch of their fingers. ”Habits die hard, I should know in my line of work,” Mani let a soft grin slide against his lips just as the tip of glass pressed to them. Sweet nectar of alcohol swept away the surface of adrenaline rushing through him.

Staring up at what once fell into clouds of silver fur against the glistening stars shook Mani into shackles. A chariot carted the moon against a lonely well of shadows, taking with it a dust of grey caught up in swirls of paws pattering the sky. He’d slouch forward, head turned to stare back into glowing silver that cut through him like hardened steel. That bite felt worse than the nips, than the inevitable vice around his body engulfing him to endless void.

The thought brought Mani’s gaze down, unable to catch the joke that slid from Hati’s lips. ”You could always kickstart the prophecy again,” Mani swirled his wine, eyes now darting up toward Hati. There was a slight seriousness to the edge of his own jest, wondering at the thoughts that barked inside Hati’s mind, ”I’m sure you miss the chase more than you lament being a lost pup. Miss… the blind hatred, even. That’s always easier, hm?”

A hum vibrated Mani’s lips, the wine glass pressing against them as his eyes drifted toward the mingle of guests to their side. ”I’m surrounded by so many people that it’s hard to feel alone anymore. It’s different, though, than hearing your feet behind me,” Mani muttered, half hoping Hati didn’t hear him and half hoping the wolf’s canid senses never truly vanished.

Hatred? He scoffed, no, not anymore. Not for the silver shadow that once danced across the night sky. Not for the being with whom he was charged with chasing. There should never have been any hatred for his counterpart. Young blood with a divine path set out for them by someone else, never gaining the chance to be and do whatever it is they wanted. The words tumbled forth from his mouth before he had a chance to stop them, never one to see an ounce of discomfort come to those so close and meaningful to the Hated wolf, "Hatred is a strong, powerful word. One I wouldn't use with you in the same breath," Hati attempted to distract his wandering tongue with the liquor he was given as payment. It could only do so much to hide the anxiousness running its course through his veins. "But I s'ppose I would need to rectify my boorish behavior towards you. Give in a little. Provide a chase?" The coyness of the smirk that lay evident on his face was one of pure teasing, but his eyes held a sort of truth to them. Should Mani be absolutely serious.

In a set of quick steps Hati was closer, invading Mani's personal space-he hadn't realized he'd done it-, gazing down at him eyes flicking across the bright shadow's mortal like features. Always memorizing the silhouette of the moon on any given backdrop. Basking in his glow as he had done so long ago. What he wouldn't give for a good chase ending in a setting phase below him, teeth that scrape bare flesh and leave behind bruises along skin as silver as the rock in the night sky. A painting come to life. One that he could mold and shape and use, but ultimately care for as the priceless piece he is.

Warm breath, emitting aromatic scents of the champagne and wine was assaulting Hati's usually keen senses. Eyes glazing over as he continued to relish in this time and space; so close to the moon he could reach out and touch him. "I will always chase after you, you know?" with an empty hand he brought to stroke lightly down Mani's jaw, thumb grazing his bottom lip, "It's not just a knee-jerk reaction. You and your entire being are intermingled with my own. You can't get rid of me that easily," Hati dove in as if for a kiss, before tilting his head just askew enough to dodge those lips dusted with stars, playfulness danced in his eyes.

How could words placate the worry that settled beneath the surface of his vast ocean like mind; anxiety did come foreign if only backed by the insecurities that befell him so infrequently. Even a man basked in moonlight with little care thrown to the winds had a few anxieties underfoot that even he sometimes refused to acknowledge. Hati seemed a sore spot in those regards. Conflicting feelings between them and the uncertainty that slid underneath did much to bore into his own mind and keep itself there.

Yet, a brush of silver and the hint of lost fur that flashed against the memories of satellite nights hung in an obsidian sky did all but wash that insecurity away. It fell before him like a mantle gently lifted by careful claws and shed to the precipice of his understanding. A meaning he meant to see all this time, but felt undeserving of it or rather felt unreciprocated. Adrenal surge bit his heels where shame had left her teeth marks, awash with the bright light of realization.

Mani’s hand came up to grasp at the smooth fabric of Hati’s suit, grasping at the tie to edge the wolf closer. Ice breath no longer at his ankles, nipping with a snap, but pressing winter’s breeze to redden his cheeks. An all too human hand held him still, thumb against his lip to catch the hitch in his breath. ”That’s an oath I’ll bind you to,” Mani whispered, feeling the stardust of his breath mingle with that frigid cold; a vacuum of space inked in bright dots around them. ”I’d invoke the Allfather’s name upon that promise; not even he could rend those ties. I see that now,” Mani breathed, leaning up and into what he thought would seal the words to irrevocable action.

The smirk on Hati's lips only grew with every utterance of speech toppling over stardust to linger in the air, "Is that so, tungl rykið mitt? A promise for a promise..."

Yet Hati tilted and Mani could only collide his body against the meteor of Hati’s own. Frustration came in a grunt as his hands pressed to Hati’s chest with his head tilted down to hide the pout that jutted his lips in the cold heat of Hati’s neck. No words escaped his lips, feeling winter fur surround him in that moment to sate the need that bit and yapped at the hairs of his neck. His other hand fell to Hati’s side, wrapping around him as Mani let in a deep breath. A hum left him at the satisfaction of Hati’s scent filling his lungs, though it melted away at the sudden need to smell of him for days—no, weeks until they felt one and the same. Like home.

”I’m the one that’s s’posed to tease, Garmr,” Mani said, still muffled by Hati’s neck as he refused to move an inch, ”You’re not allowed to play with your food.” At that, Mani tilted his head up in a sly grin as he gripped at Hati’s tie to pull his head down in a suddenness, mingling their breaths once again and hovering moonkissed lips just close enough to feel the space nearly eclipse Hati’s bite.

The teasing from both, the pout that nestled itself into the gap between Mani's dimples was too easy to coax from the moon that Hati couldn't help himself. Though at the same time he was denying himself the pleasure while he was at it. Odin's words flitted through his mind accompanied by frustration, how stubbornness brings about humiliation or honor, as if he would know honor. However, something within those words sings to the wolf twin. He doesn't want to let go of this moment. Never let go of his prize. If he has to chase the moon of eternity more, than so be it.

Feeling the warmth of their breaths mingling tickled his top lip and was cause for him to lick his chops in anticipation. To capture, to taste his prey, finally. The cat and mouse was fun, the chase thrilling, but it was the after that made his blood boil in ecstasy. "Then I shall feast," and in a swift motion, as swift as the wind that once drifted through the silver fur upon his body, illuminated by the light of the moon as Hati gave chase through the night sky, now too was he illuminated by the dazzling gaze that seemed hyper focused on the muzzle of the would-be wolf. All stardust and ichor. Fur and phases alike coming together after a long time coming. Fangs nipping at the plump bottom lip of the moon below him, a sight no Norse thought they would see - the moon bowing beneath the intense presence of the wolf destined to keep him on track.

A single large hand made to cup the base of Mani's neck, his fingers idly dancing along the hairline, giving a tug, forcing the moon's attention up and on him. Control, power, dominance fueled him as he inhaled stardust as if it were going to be denied to him at any moment and never return. Hati relished in the feeling of finally winning this game he was thrown into. It wasn't exactly how he imagined catching his prey of so long, but he wasn't complaining. Deep down, he knew it would end someplace similar at least in his mind. But being here, with their lips intertwined, breathe leaving him at every little noise and twitch emanating from the man beneath him. It was almost too much. And as much as he would have liked to continue ravishing his meal, a noise on the other side of the event caught his attention. Ears perking up at the familiarity of the voice, even this far away. Even with the blood rushing past. There was no mistaking Sköll.

Surprise twisted Mani into a full mooned daze that had his hands quickly reaching, desperate for something to hold against the sudden tide of pine and fur that threatened to sweep him away. It came in a silver flash of teeth, fangs bared to the bite of his lip that Mani breathed into — a sudden and deep inhale of air as his eyes caught the wolf staring hungry, starving down at him. What else but to let Hati grasp and take what could rightfully call his; he could devour him this instant and Mani would utter only bliss upon his tongue. It mattered not the way the wolf ate, just that it be him at the end of those perfect incisors and bared to the piercing gaze of the wolf, now man, who held him tight in his very claws.

A low whine slipped from Mani’s lips, deafened by the din of a party in full swing around him. Yet he heard and Hati’s keen ears could very well have picked upon the vibrations that thrummed against Mani’s throat. It waned to the fingers that slid into Hati’s dark locks of hair, tugging soft and needy. His lips pressed firm to all the centuries of wanting that seared his tongue against the lapping breath of Hati’s own — hard pressed like he wanted Hati to understand the longing he’d held longer than the stars had known the loneliness he sang upon the moon.

And then it vanished and Mani pulled back of his own accord with confusion playing along the lines of his face. His tongue darted out to lick the taste from his own lips while his eyes searched Hati’s. A nervous pang drummed against his ribs, though it faded slightly and the vigilance seemed to strike Hati. Unsure, Mani pressed, ”What is it? Did I… I didn’t do anything wrong?” The certainty of his words faltered from the haughty charm that held his tone, weakened to the sudden nerves that broke him and twisted Hati’s look into one of potential annoyance in his mind. Mani knew better, but he needed assurance to keep from biting a wound into his bottom lip.

Immediately after the whine left his throat, Hati's eyes snapped back to gaze into those iridescent moonbeams. His response came without a single thought given, "Never." As if to punctuate his statement, seeing the self-doubt reflect in pools of silver, the wolf bent down once more to capture Mani's elusive lips in a searing kiss.

The pressure that had built and stacked upon itself in the heat of the moment, ruptured all because he was so fine tuned to his twin's presence that he couldn't allow himself to enjoy in something that brought him peace. That freedom he had been searching for. For all it was worth, those nights chasing after the Moon, were some of the most freeing experiences of his existence. Aside from it being duty bound. Hati searched for the feeling, needed to build it up once more, to feel his prey tremble beneath his lingering touch out of pure submission and want. It made him feel wanted. If only for a moment. But even the prideful canine knew that that wasn't the case. Could feel the way the blood coursed through the veins under his fingers, his pulse spiking with every subtle drag of his claws along bare flesh. Mani was excited, that much was evident enough, but it still brought that surge of pride to swell in his chest. With the looks and sighs produced from the creature at his mercy, the silver wolf knew that he wasn't the only one pining.

Through and through did the moon deign to cast a look over his shoulders. Visions of silver dancing along the rays of sun in the background, light cast in reflection against the pale tone of his chariot. Hunter’s eyes dove into his skin, burrowed a long lasting surge of want and adrenaline until wolf teeth and bitter claws raked against his skin. It seared him, just as those thoughts burned brands deep to the twining fabric that kept him solid, safe.

Torn like sword through cloth and then sewn right back with a silver piece of him embedded against the beating arteries of his heart. To feel that burn from lips to tongue to searing throat filled Mani with something inexplicable. Inexplicable and woefully ethereal.

Deep breaths. In and out. Humid heat between the hunger slipping out to wet his tongue. Mani stared up at the wolf towering before him, all hatred and agony a cooked up facade to the bearing need that echoed the lingering touch. ”You’ll find me, yeah?” Mani asked. The line of his brows pinched, etching worry in spite of the jovial tone that dipped into his voice, ”You always do. I won’t doubt that now.” Though truth left his lips, Mani knew his doubts bed elsewhere; in failing love, unrequited, unsought. Yet he brushed those along. Eternity taught him many things: as fickle as gods were, if something struck strong enough and long enough, it would outlast even the cosmos. In that in lay within Hati, a hand against the other’s chest and a smile gracing the curve of his lips.

”Go do what you need to. I won’t keep you,” Mani said, hand falling to grasp at Hati’s, ”Though, I’m sure you would find it hard to resist.” He winked as laughter spilled from his throat, low and quiet against the murmur around them.

Hati could only offer up a small smile in reply. How was it that the one person who should despise him the most is the one most understanding, if not supportive? As quick as he once was, with all the grace he still possessed, the silver wolf swept down to place a chaste, yet gentle, kiss to the curvature of the Moon’s face before taking off in the direction of his whimpering brother.

Waxing, waning, to the tides he could tug the earth beneath his feat day after day. Between dusk he slipped to the horizon, a million horizons, and each one he’d watch the pedal of wolf paws against stardust. To think he’d ache to see them again, watching as that selfsame wolf pattered a pair of leather bound paws against marble floor.

Mani’s chest filled with a sigh, expelled into music that lifted feet and legs to celebratory rhythm. Were it any other night, he’d find himself amongst them all, dancing, laughing. This night, however, drink called to him and so did the moon hanging lonely in the sky. His fingers snatched a bottle mid-pour, the bartender opening his mouth to yell at him, but failing at the quickly retreating form.

October chill greeted his bones, carrying with it the smell of magnolias from the well sculpted trees along the garden path. He settled beneath one, staring at the blooms strong in this October cold. His head leaned against the bark, eyes peering between the petals at the stars barely visible against the bright Seattle backdrop. The moon peered back, between a dusting of clouds; a vision of silver and the smell of evergreen filled his lungs. Mani sighed, smiling at the bitter chill against his cheeks and the sudden giddiness at the bottle of wine in his hands. Laughter spilled as he tilted his head back, took a big swig, and let himself relax against the bloom of night.

Desire to Sleep under the Sun.
The Ball
Let’s dance!

interactions: @gothelkx@icy hotx@smarty0114 collab

Apollo and Artemis strode in from the garden, not a hair out of place. The gala’s guests had hardly noticed either twins’ absence, a blessing given the scuffle they’d had with Timor. “We should do this more often. You and me, kicking ass, taking names. Just like the good ol’ days,” Apollo said, swinging an unwelcome arm around his sister’s shoulder. She grimaced and quickly slipped out from under him, flicking him in the back of the head as punishment for his transgressions.

“You stood up to one of the skinnier Romans. Calm down,” Artemis said, eyes searching the crowd for a face Apollo couldn’t care to remember. He rolled his eyes then, scoffing at the implication that he was not one of the most noteworthy beings she had the pleasure to interact with. Before he could retaliate Artemis was spinning around, cutting him off with her own words. “As much as I enjoy listening to you bluster, I have work to do.”

“Oh my gods, you are boring,” Apollo said, mostly to his sister’s back as she rejoined the party, mingling in the effortless way she’d perfected over the years. Apollo had seen first hand the allure his sister carried, the way she attracted any who seemed to gaze at her for too long. How many of these women would find themselves booking a weekend getaway at her retreat after the night was done?

As enchanting as his sister might have been, her charms had little effect on the sun. Apollo’s eyes were drawn instead to the sound of the entrance opening once more, letting in three gods along with the chatter and flashes of light from the outside. A smile brightened his face when his eyes fell upon Thanatos, Hypnos, and the one being in this world who had completely entranced him. The three of them were a pleasant sight, dressed in expensive suits that drew the eye, and Apollo quickly slipped through the throngs of people, a sunbeam sliding across the room until his hand found Eros’ and he was squeezing tightly. “Hey,” he said softly, holding Eros’ gaze for one blissful moment before turning his attention to Hypnos and his brother. “Hypnos, Thanny Boy, nice to see ya. Everybody watch out for the Romans. They’re feeling extra feisty tonight.”

A sleepy haze clung to Hypnos like a dusky fog, eyes roaming everywhere but the man to his side. The moment he’d found Apollo gliding through the crowd on sunrays, Hypnos’ smile lifted the slumber from his cheeks to paint them with a dash of rose. It felt hard to hold to any anxiety in the presence of the sun incarnate; Apollo had a knack for melting away the gripping worry at his heels.

”That’s no way to talk about our hosts, Pollo,” Hypnos yawned, letting the grin continue to stretch his lips. Staring at the sun’s arrival carried with it a sudden self-consciousness, like comparing something so radiant felt insurmountable. Hypnos stared down at his suit, his little bowtie that he adjusted slightly. Maybe he needn’t worry. He felt comfort next to Apollo, yet staring at him and Eros and even Than to the side of him had Hypnos feeling much smaller than usual.

Thanatos donned a smirk as his eyes traveled to the point where Apollo had attached himself to Eros. Apparently he wasn’t the only one who had been exercising his godly gifts, “I’ll make sure to keep an extra eye out when you find yourselves too preoccupied. If you’ll excuse me gentlemen I have a hopeless nerd to find.”

He bit his lip, looked off the side, but never let his smile falter. ”We can keep him outta trouble, right Eros?”” Hypnos offered, shuffling slightly on his feet as he kept towing the edge of a discomforting heat he couldn’t explain and the soft, sun alight like clouds on his skin. The slow, creeping conflict of his mind and body had his suit feeling all too itchy and he constantly came to scratch at the top of his collar.

Eros offered a comfortable smile as he returned the firm grasp on the radiant sun, wanting nothing more than to wrap himself in his warmth. But the time for that would come later, first it was a party for the three of them to enjoy, “A little trouble will keep things interesting, with all these stuffy business moguls and politicians in attendance their usual antics of trying to out class each other would make the night dull. We don’t need any more reasons to send you off into slumber, not so soon anyways.” Eros replies in a playful tone, before his attention is stolen by the doors to the venue opening again.

A short moment of shuffling to the side gives Eros a chance to get a good look at the people entering the venue. Two in particular stand out. The unnerving presence of a man who quickly disappeared into the shadowy corner of the room and the curly head of his best friend who had regained at least some of her confidence. The former of the two lingered in his mind when he turned back to his lover and dearest friend, “A Mad dog at a charity event? You wouldn’t have happened to see the other one scampering around in some dark creepy corner would you?”

“Unfortunately,” Apollo said, eyes trailing after Metus until he’d disappeared from sight. “He came crashing out into the garden, trying to scare the shit out of one of my sister’s girls. Had to stop him and Arty from turning this into a bloodbath,” Apollo said, lowering his voice so that their conversation wouldn’t fall on prying ears. He’d witnessed first hand the tricks his fellow deities were playing tonight.

Always one to think the best of people, Hypnos rubbed the back of his neck, sliding in closer to the other two. ”Perhaps they’d just gotten into a small argument of sorts? Hypnos brows pinched and he turned to look at the other two, wary of the shadows Eros’ eyes drifted toward. Even if the Greeks found themselves in an endless feud with their counterparts, Hypnos didn’t quite feel comfortable talking ill of them on their own turf. Who knew what eyes they had planted throughout the party. ”We should at least make nice for now; we’ve gone blind into one of their own parties, after all,” Hypnos bit at his lip, staring up at Apollo and then Eros. His eyes drifted to their lingering fingers, wondering at the nebulous feelings tugging at him. He pouched his lips slightly in thought at what it would feel like to perhaps mingle his fingers in with theirs’.

Hypnos lurched forward, hacking a cough as he choked on his own spit. Those thoughts immediately gave way to the sudden surge of anxiety that krept pink to his cheeks. ”Sorry, sorry. I’m okay.”

Apollo grinned at Hypnos, amused by the power that resided in this adorable man’s form. Who could guess that before him was the master of sleep, the inevitability of slumber personified? Just like Eros, there was something enchanting about Hypnos, a warm tug that seemed to pull gently at his sides, pleading with him to give in. “If only you were right about that, Hyp. It’s never nothing with the Romans,” Apollo mused, his voice singsonging the end of his sentence.

“Well, there’s not much left for us to do if this is a trap, so I suggest we make the most of what we can, while we are able.” The suggestion came out in its usual sultry manner as Eros swiped three flutes of bubbly from a passing server’s tray.

“To a fun night, and getting Hypnos to be on his worst behavior.”

A pall came across Hypnos face at the idea of him being anything but the lazy, but all over non-troublesome incarnation of sleep itself. He pressed a pout to his lips while accepting one of the flutes in Eros’ hand. ”You two can do your troublemaking; I’ll watch from the sides away from all the consequences,” Hypnos let out a little ‘hmph’ of a huff as he took a light sip from the flute. To be frank, Hypnos didn’t actually know whether he would follow Eros’ wings with the sun at his heels into any kind of fire. Though, staring at the two of them now, he’d like to think maybe he would—just this once, at least.

Apollo laughed at Hypnos’ expression, and he swore then and there that he’d make a gifted troublemaker out of this sleepy god yet. “I always did like an audience,” he said, grinning as he took a glass from Eros and brought it to his lips. “Don’t suppose anyone has heard any good theories as to why we were invited to this stuffy little evening? It seems like everyone’s here tonight,” Apollo mused, lowering his voice for Hypnos’ sake.

Eros’s eyes crinkled with amusement, the suggestion was an interesting one. Trying to discern what the Roman’s planned was a task perhaps not fit for a love god, “The only scheming I’ve taken up is in love. Building nations and winning wars is best left to the likes of Athena, hmm, your sister even, she’s quite fierce.” Eros answered truthfully, scheming and planning the demise of others was hardly as interesting as the dealings of love. And that happened to be bountiful in this room, glittering in the low light were threads that connected many bodies, lovers, family, friends, he could see them all, the days of old beckoned to him, daring him to pluck and play with the heart strings of mortals and gods alike. But this was not the old days, and certainly not his playground.

A light pinch of curiosity furrowed Hypnos’ brows as he looked off into the crowd. It swayed in beautiful colors and fabrics that dazzled his eyes, accompanied by a small wave of voices that mingled and melded together. Altogether it didn’t seem like a place Hypnos often found himself in, which gave him more reason to stick close to the two companions he found himself attached to. Apollo’s question rang in his ear, yet Hypnos couldn’t find the means toward any substantial answer. ”Maybe they have something important to show us all?” Hypnos offered, shuffling his feet a bit as he caught a glimpse of Mars, the one Roman he thought he’d seen at the Conclave, though sleep had made those glimpses rather hazy.

”How do you think they know of so many deities across all of these pantheons?” Hypnos asked, turning now toward the other two, ”It’s kinda eerie if you think too hard about it. Maybe I should just go back to my pile of covers ‘n pillows, after all.”

Apollo grinned at Eros’ mention of his sister. He was right that subterfuge was his sister’s game, but he was a hunter too, just a better looking one. His eyes fell on Pan, gazing up at Mars and Jupiter, and he pointed with his hand, nudging Hypnos as he did. “Maybe he knows,” he said. “My sister always said we shouldn’t put too much faith in the goat. Now look who he’s in bed with.” Apollo shrugged, letting his implications sit in the air before finishing what was left of his glass and placing it on a passing waiter’s tray. “I want to dance. Do they do dancing at these things? Or are the Roman’s too good for that sort of thing?”

”I would rather Mars over Ares, to be honest,” Hypnos swirled his wine around with a slight pout, ”He seems less likely to shoot up a venue just ‘cause someone sneezed in his direction.”

At the mention of Ares Eros’ eyes cast towards the entrance again and found a curious sight just as he did so. Tlaz had returned to the party in a much different state than she had exited, and even without war hot on her heels. That was peculiar, Eros completely expected Tlaz to follow Freya’s terrible advice but maybe she had better taste after all. “I hate to be a terrible date, but I think a crisis of the heart has occurred and what kind of love god would I be if I didn’t provide my profound wisdom.” Eros offered Hypnos and Apollo an apologetic smile, “I think a dance is just the thing this party and Hyp needs to relax, I’ll find you two after I’ve helped a sister out, okay?” Eros gave Apollo a quick kiss and ruffled Hypnos’ hair affectionately before running after his favorite Goddess Of Filth.

Apollo’s eyes lingered on Eros as he hurried off. Each time he left his view, a small part of him, buried deep beneath his gilded exterior, still worried it would be the last. Spinning on his heel, Apollo switched his focus to Hypnos. “C’mon Sleepy,” he teased, looping his arm through Hypnos’ own, smooth as still water and with the sort of nonchalance that only a Grecian knew. “Time to request a few songs from the strings over there.”

A small cry of indignation slipped through as Hypnos’ hands shot up to run through his hair. It faded in an instant to the arm looping through his. The butterflies Eros left in his wake settled in his stomach, burning now as the sun drew close. ”Songs now? Dancing?” Hypnos stammered, tripping along his feet, ”Oh, no, no. I, uh, I just do the music making not the… not the, uh, haha. No, no.” His eyes darted to the retreating Eros, wondering at his disappearance and hoping that he’d come to swoop in for a dance of his own, just not with the sleepy god.

“Hyppie, if I took the floor myself, I’d have half these suits lining up to come home with me tonight,” Apollo said, still charging full steam ahead towards the musicians playing at the base of the stairs, “and as flattering as that might be, I’ve lost my taste for the mundane.”

The duo closed in on the quartet, and Apollo, cocky as ever, flashed them his winning smile. “Good evening, many blessings, yada, yada, yada, etcetera, etcetera.” The band stared up at the manic, golden-haired god, unaware that they were talking to the patron of their craft. “You guys know anything, I don’t know, fun? Y’know, something I can dance to?”

A man holding a cello knitted his eyebrows together, clearly unsure as to whether or not he should be taking requests. After a moment, he relented, and the music started up once more, this time as upbeat as the strings would allow.

“Now that’s more like it!” Apollo didn’t give Hypnos another chance to protest. He dragged him to the dance floor with him, one hand gripping his hip, the other taking his hand so that he might lead the way. “Just follow my lead, kay?” With that, he was off, tethered only to the rhythm. The dance began simple enough, an easy waltz that eventually welded into something, wild, untamed. It was the dance of someone who’d reveled in music far and wide, who’d been taught all numbers of dances. Eyes fell on them, but even the mortals could not resist the pull of music, and the gravity of the sun.

ᴀᴘᴀʀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ » ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʟʟ
ɪ ᴀᴍ ʙᴇᴄᴏᴍᴇ ᴀ ɴᴀᴍᴇ

𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒊 𝒘𝒂𝒔𝒉 𝒊𝒕 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒂𝒘𝒂𝒚?
𝒔𝒐𝒂𝒌 𝒊𝒏 𝒓𝒂𝒊𝒏 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒏𝒅
𝒕𝒖𝒎𝒃𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒔
𝒍𝒊𝒈𝒉𝒕𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒃𝒊𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔
𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒕𝒐𝒏𝒈𝒖𝒆𝒔
What tempts the sober man beyond the shore of inebriation? Leagues beneath the breaking surface of waves crashing, pulling, tugging.

Poseidon could clearly make out the whisky in his hand, taunting him in its swaying dangle from the tips of his fingers. It had provided him company through the day, just as tequila had yesterday, and smoky bourbon the day before. In all his foolishness, he'd thought it would keep away the prickle of tears that always threatened to fall silent against his cheeks. That the warmth would feel like arms grasping tightly, wound about his body in the cover of stars.

Tonight would not allow for the stars to break through the canopy of greyed clouds, now pitch ink in the moonless sky of his thoughts. He stood upon a sallow beach tinted with the grey of the ever pressing tide. He could not leave willingly; he did not want to leave willingly. Rather, it felt apt to his current state of mind: just a grayed out blip in the universe to what once stood the ocean incarnate. He would not count himself mighty, though the fall hit just as considerably hard.

It took an amount of strength he thought he did not have to slide himself from the light tip of a stupor into that of a freshly cleaned suit. So kind of Jupiter to have lent it to him without thinking of having it back all those months ago. Shame he hadn't another of his own coin, yet this one brought a certain nostalgia outside of the smell of something worth forgetting. Maybe he could will those memories out, tumbling over the ones that came so quickly from the shallows of his beached mind.

She pressed her hand upon the lapel with a gentle demure that lit upon her lips. "You'll return again, yeah?" her northern accent bit comfort to her words, "I won't be havin' no other gal stealin' away my closest friend, you hear me?"

"What do you take me for, Louise? Some kind of floosy hanging his fanny out for the crowd to gawk at?" Poseidon couldn't wipe the sorrow that pressed hard against his throat. He cleared it, looking away for a second.

"He doesn't know, does he?"

"I've no idea who you're talking about," Poseidon spared a glance at her, only to double back at the suddenness of Artemis' face in clear view, so close he could smell the forest lightly drifting from her blouse.


Poseidon breathed deep, eyes cast to the bottle in hid hand. He stared intently, bewildered at the sudden shift in memory. A pinch to his brow grew into a full cringe as he set the alcohol down upon his dresser. Had he just picked it up after throwing the suit on?

"Fuck," he muttered. His hand ran through to tousle the wild unkempt mess of his hair before setting them into clean lines. There was hell to pay, certainly, and misery that hung to her coattails.

No man came more faceless than Poseidon. Not a soul gave him a mere glance outside of the occasional reel of disgust as he passed by, like something assaulted their senses. Never had Poseidon felt the need to draw attention to himself, though he knew his presence didn't exactly warrant disgust so visceral on a young rich boy's face. Like he could smell the plebian wafting off his clothes, clothes which currently felt more in place than he did.

A softer light than the constant flashing of cameras pressed his eyelids as he entered, fingers already digging into the bridge of his nose. For better or worse, Poseidon kept to the wall and let his head hang low. He could tell himself that he didn't want nor desired the attention of his fellow deities, but he knew in his heart that something would likely break if he saw him one last time. It felt appropriate, then, that he caught an eye on the far side of the gala: Mars embracing his mother with tears prickling at the corners. Poseidon couldn't stand the small flash of pity the Roman gave him, like he'd just been caught by a father and told some condescending lie about fish in the sea.

He wanted to choke on scotch.

So he did, straight to the bar, happy to know that he didn't need to dip into his savings to buy a drink. "Do you really cut people off at more than two drinks?" Poseidon whispered over the din of voices chattering away behind him.

"You gonna convince me not to?" The bartender gave him a blank stare, immediately filling a glass up with the scotch Poseidon pointed at.

"Sure will," Poseidon reneged his last statement and silent promise to himself as a few bills found their way into the bartender's pocket. He took the scotch with a nod, lifting the glass to him as he downed it and offered the glass for a refill. The bartender didn't hesitate, simply filled the glass to the brim this time and carefully watched Poseidon slowly drink that one away with a concerned furrow in his brow.

"Maybe I—"

"No takesies backsies, mister," Poseidon held up a finger, wagging it as he sipped the last and offered the glass yet again. The bartender pursed his lips together, silent and unmoving for the time it took to deliberate whether this would assault his moral code or not. Then he set the bottle down in front of Poseidon and moved on to another patron with significantly less baggage. To which Poseidon slouched over the counter with a deep, deep frown and scotch pouring slowly into the empty cup.

"Sorry I'm not a good 'nuff date, Mr. Lagavulin, though you are quite handsome... you wouldn't betray me out of some stick-up-the-ass sense of duty would you? Probably? Yeah, suspected as much."

ꜱᴇᴀᴛᴛʟᴇ ᴜɴɪᴠᴇʀꜱɪᴛʏ » ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʟʟ
ᴡʜᴇɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏᴏɴ ʜɪᴛꜱ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴇʏᴇ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴀ ʙɪɢ ᴘɪᴢᴢᴀ ᴘɪᴇ,

ᴛʜᴀᴛ'ꜱ ɴᴏᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴏᴏɴ. ᴛʜᴀᴛ'ꜱ ᴀ ʙɪɢ ᴡʜᴇᴇʟ ᴏꜰ ᴄʜᴇᴇꜱᴇ.

Night changes with the passing years: a serene calm that blankets the world in unknown shadows; a wisp hidden between the dips of streetlights and city cars, slunk into alley shadows and diamond eyes against rooftops. However, night remained a fervent constant and the stars that hung as a mantle against the moon's shoulders remained forever present in the inkwell sky. The city breeze felt cool to the touch, alight on Mani's skin like the glimmer of stardust passing by him. To feel that again, willingly this time, in the shower of meteor dust and cool, comforting void.

Yet he fell to the earth again, happily though, with a blaze and a tug against his leather jacket. His eyebrows raised in question to the petite girl that stared up at him with a fluster to her face. "Dr. Munson, I have something, um, important to tell you," she said under the hush of her own voice. The tips of autumn frost bit at her breath, though Mani could tell that it the cold didn't color her cheeks.

"What's up, Anita? Do you need an escort to your car?" Mani smiled with a tilt of his head. He offered the nook of his elbow to the young girl to which she gingerly took it.

"No, I—actually, I do, thank you. But, actually I just wanted to..." her words trailed off as she sucked her bottom lip between her teeth.

Mani's brows pinched. Recounting the group sessions, this felt par for the course for Anita, yet her eyes prickled with moisture instead of the usual blind terror of social interaction. The latter felt relatable, honestly, in this day and age. "Hmm, it's a beautiful night, isn't it?" Mani started as he lifted his head to the sky. The constant vigilance of city lights warded off all but the brightest stars, but their lights couldn't shroud the moon no matter how hard they shined. Anita's eyes followed his. She still bit and gnawed the skin of her lip away.

"My father liked to tell me a story when I was a kid about a rabbit trapped on the moon," Mani quickly turned to look at Anita, grinning at her, "Don't ask how he got up there 'cause he never told me." Yet, he continued, letting his head tilt in her direction as they walked toward the parking lot, dimmed by early autumn air. "The rabbit would wander and wander against the crater seas. He knew that he was alone — that he would be alone forever. Yet, the rabbit never felt lonely. Every night he would settle into the coarse, white sand beneath his feet and he'd dig. He'd find the hollow of the moon around him, comforting and everlasting. And he would tell the moon his worries, whisper it into the ground encasing him. Though the moon never spoke, the rabbit knew she always listened. And when the rabbit settled in for the very, very last time, the moon wrapped her arms around him and cast him to the stars above her that she would always listen for his pitter pattering feet and his worried words aloft in the void around her."

They both stopped at a small blue Volkswagen Beetle, Mani facing Anita and Anita staring intently at her license plate. The moon shone against her lightly bronze skin with light wisps of curly black hair flowing out of the shayla wrapped loosely around her head and neck. A light sparkle of a diamond dripped down her cheek and her hand rose to swipe it away. "I lied to the group earlier," she said, hushed under the whisper of her lips, "The pressure's been too much and I just... I just... I—I..." Her face scrunched up and she hid away the look in her eyes as she turned her head away.

Yet, the moon still reached out with his hand firmly grasping her shoulders. She had her escape if she wanted it; Mani wouldn't dare imprison someone in pain. Anita kept herself frozen in place as he moved to face her. "Hey, there's no shame here," Mani spoke with a soft, warm smile alleviating the lines of his features, "There's strength in admittance and even further strength in knowing that even the strongest must falter sometimes. Hmmm." Mani paused for a second before pinching his brows and reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a small business card with his name, number, and office address written on it. "Take this. You don't need to call me tomorrow, or the next day, or even for a year, but if you think you want professional help rather than group counseling, take it."

"I've got so many loa—"

Mani cut her off with a laugh and a smile, "Pro bono, Anita. I'm not gonna charge you a dime. Call or stop on by, whatever's most comfortable for you. Just remember, relapsing is only a part of the journey. Let yourself stumble or fall, but pick yourself up or let someone help you stand. Alone doesn't have to mean lonely." With that, he moved toward her car door and opened it as it beeped.

Before the night swept her away, Anita turned to look up at Mani, "Thank you Dr. Munson... I think I'll call. Maybe."

Mani only grinned, offering her a wave as he closed the door with parting words, "Do what you think is best, as long as you keep poking your head in for the group sessions. It wouldn't be the same without you." He winked as she smiled softly, though her eyes still held uncertainty at least he could see resolve beneath the honey brown.

As the car wheeled out, Mani let out a smile sigh, chest heaving lightly before he turned his eyes toward his watch. "Ooh, fashionably late. Just how I like it."

Flashy things, silly lights and sillier music, good food and tasty wine, not necessarily fit for a god lacking of poise and posture. Still, not every day one gets an invite, especially filled to the brim with a few funny faces mortal and godly alike. Especially one so funny it brought his lips up in a cringe: Arik Börson. A man caught between the throes of a lazy king with his many booty-calls vassals and the will of a retired man basking away at the infinite twilight of his years. Obviously, Mani appreciated the latter one far more. The former reminded him of the simple shrug he gave at the request of the gods around him to toss him and his sister aloft to the skies for all eternity.

'Can we eject this kid into space'

'Eh, why not?'

It brought a sour taste to his mouth as he pressed the wrinkles of his suit down. If that god came into attendance rather than The Big Alföðowski, he'd turn heel and walk straight out the door. Even if the site brought memories of lonely days suddenly filled with a nip at his heels and the promise of a chase. Mani tempered that thought, sucked it straight down in one gulp and flew right out of his car.

Of course, no one recognized his face or cared to know his name, but Mani still sidled beside a few big names, smiling over their shoulders and answering their questions. "How is the recent movie coming along? Any comment on the rumors of your affair with—"

"Well, uh, he's got a great ass, for one. And the biggest, juiciest, thickest slobber worthy di—ow! Aha. Okay, okay!"

Mani dipped here and there, grinning and giggling with madness as he finally moved past the reporters. It hadn't truly occurred to him to watch his step, as it never did with Mani. He came into the building in a light tumble over his own feet, colliding into the back of a tall, suited man. Immediately, Mani jumped back to his feet with his hands pressed to the man's back before circling around. "Whoa, sorry. Sorry, did I make you spill anything? I don't watch where I'm," His eyes came up to capture a pair of rather familiar eyes that immediately brought a pinch to his brow. A sudden surge of adrenaline shot through him, bid him to pick his feet from the sludge they fell into and run. Just run with the stars at his back fading into bright lines that circled the earth careening beneath him until his lungs gasped bursts of air. Until a smile broke his face and laughter tumbled like moon dust from his lips.

Mani coughed. Still staring at a man that could very well bring Hati's silver mane to shame. Perhaps with very good reason.

Interactions: Hati @KZOMBI3

ᴅᴏᴡɴᴛᴏᴡɴ ᴀᴘᴀʀᴛᴍᴇɴᴛ » ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʟʟ
ᴄᴀʀᴘᴇ ᴅɪᴇᴍ; ᴄᴀʀᴘᴇ ɴᴏᴄᴛᴇᴍ; ᴄᴀʀᴘᴇ ᴠɪɴᴜᴍ

Blooming against the sunrise, love ascends in dire strokes, painted pink through the lines of the sky to die a violent death in against night's shield and carried to mourn upon an empty pyre. Cupid spreads her ashes through the city, accustomed to the smell of cigarette butts and alleyway piss. To stand by and let love fall upon the sword seemed a grave sin, yet Cupid found himself at wits end to the humans that throw her children to the pits every single, godsdamned day. It puts a sour pinch to the lines on his forehead.

There upon the fire escape of a dingy apartment complex somewhere in the whatever-side of Seattle, three pairs of legs tangled in the white satin sheets. Enthralled in such poisonous passion with a glare stinging the skin of their sweat-ridden flesh. Disgusting. Even if the old lady beneath him shouted slander at what she perceived as a wandering perv. It mattered not to the scorned love deity what humans thought of him as he slowly brought the camera to his face.

Click. Click. Click.

Purely digital cameras didn't come with the satisfying shutter-click of past cameras, so the disappointed Cupid had to think of the sounds trailing in his head every time he pressed the capture button. Though, he couldn't quite make out the man's face. He clicked his tongue at the images saved before staring back through the window. His hand came to rap loudly at the glass to the utter shock and terror of each participant. He waved, clicked the camera a few times again with a bright smile and proceeded to sail down the fire escape. Giddiness welled in his stomach to a giggle as his hand came to shove the bird in the old lady's face, though he immediately regretted that as a shoe came slapping against the back of his head as he descended to the second floor.

"Ah fuck," Cupid yelped out, tilting over the railing as he tumbled to the ground below. The air gusted out of him in a loud 'oof' accompanied by the thud of his entire body slamming against the piss-smelling pavement. To think a man of his caliber succumbed to smelling like piss the entire way home? It took a few good minutes and the clamor of a very furious man to get Cupid back to his feet.

"Hey, fuck you dude! Get the fuck back here!" the man screamed, nearing the bottom of the stairway.

"No, fuck you, piece of shit!" Cupid coughed out, throwing a glare behind him, "I hope someone shoves your cock in a woodchipper and gives you dick-tetanus." After another flurry of insults, Cupid booked it on a limp, ducking in and out of whatever alley didn't throw him into a dead end. There was no worry for his life, but rather for the security of his own job. Before long, Cupid had found himself some measure of safety in a cab heading straight for home. The day would be coming to an end by the looks of the bleeding sky and after sending a number of photos to his client, he had a ball to attend to.

With the rose of the sky came the purpling of night that beckoned him down. Though the tears shed over the phone, Cupid hadn't really offered many platitudes to the troubled wife. She knew when she hired him what her husband was capable of, that much felt evident in the tone of her e-mail. Yet, Cupid knew that the solidity of evidence he provided cemented that knowledge in her head and drained her willpower until the tears came.

This was par for the course for him: a suspecting spouse called or e-mailed knowing full well what they were asking for, then they get the confirmation they'd known a long, long time ago and bawl to him. At first, it did tug at his heart, but he knew how fickle humans could be. He knew that they'd fall into something, dipping their toes into the void they'd made of love and taint it with a drop of obsession, or a flicker of desperation that would soon tumble into some unhealthy specter of the love he'd given his patrons so freely.

So, he hung up with an apology and a goodbye, even as she wailed on in his ear and turned toward his closet. Perhaps he should have stopped by the Roman house. He had an assortment of suits given to him by his mother just waiting for this such occasion. As luck would have it, he ran out of time attending to business and had to settle for finding something presentable in his conspiratorial nut cave.

A sigh left him as papers stuck to his feet and a cup of coffee had tilted onto a pile of pictures. Cupid gripped his hair, let out a quiet "fuck," before carefully stepping over more and more mess toward his closet. That aggravation soon melted at the sight of many, many wrinkled suits and button ups hiding two rather dashing pieces he'd somehow stowed away in here.

"Perfect!" he grabbed the closest one and threw it against his bed, ready to dive head first into Roman debauchery — boring, most likely, with his father eyeing some twink and his uncle grumbling about how he used to rule over subjects. He didn't let the idea stop him, though, as he went about his merry rituals.

Not a soul would ever look upon the ethereal Cupid and see the disheveled, angry mess mortality left him. Not at this very moment, at least. Like his mother, Cupid could look radiant when he wanted, suit pressed just right against the forms of his lithe muscles and eyes pierced like syrup dripping against the golden waves of his hair. A Roman, no matter their inner turmoil, stood statuesque against the starlight and Cupid found himself no different in the purposeful posture that pushed him past the crowd gawking at the door.

Well, uh, gawking at whoever came in behind him because they barely noticed his grumbling form squeezing through yelling reporters and cameramen. It didn't and would never matter just how good he looked if no dime could carry his name. Even as he groaned through the crowd, Cupid still felt this preferable to the endless barrage of questions and snapping cameras. Though, he felt the twinge of curiosity that sparked him when he looked back, eyeing the number of individuals finding their way in through various means to either avoid the masses or bear their teeth at them.

Even at the behest of curiosity, Cupid refused to attend a conclave. A cackle of deities yelling over each other about whodunnit this time? It chafed his skin just thinking about it. The information seemed pertinent now, but Cupid would rather find out the hard way who had sparks of divinity running thick in their veins. Though, upon entering he could quickly make out his parents, one giving Jupiter the shit-eatingest stare through the cracks of his mask and the other trailing her hand against a stark beauty glistening in the crowd of people mingling in the center. Though they blended well, Cupid's astute eyes could make out the brilliance of his mother just about anywhere. That and he could smell the scent of something sweet that could only come from what she shared with moonlit woman so close to her.

Once the his mother had sealed her goodbye with a kiss, she fell to the wisps of the crowd in an instant and Cupid just barely lost the trail until he swept himself along the edge. "Guess I can put this on grandpa's tab," Cupid grinned, snatching a bouquet of flowers to accompany the present he'd bought his mother not a few weeks ago — with pilfered checks from his father, of course. Thus, he dove headfirst into the crowd to find the ephemeral trail of emerald splashed against the edge of his eyesight.

His hand dove out through the heated fog of people into an emerald haze, grasping the gold of his mother's wrist with gentle insistence. The honey of his eyes pressed past the mist of perfume that settled in his lungs to reveal the bright smile gifted only by the curled lips of his mother's grace. "Forgive me my disrespect, mother," Cupid said in hushed tones riddled and dripping with excitement to the backdrop of a font of unconditional love, "Forgive my absence, as well. I do hope I can atone for that with the promise of a gift?" He revealed the flowers in his hands with his shoulders lifted and head bowed ever so slightly in a show of sheepish apology. In his other he'd opened a small box to reveal a rose-gold necklace gleaming with emerald stones in fortunate serendipity.

"Unless, of course, an empire beckons?" Cupid gave a wink, willing to bow out until his mother finished her business.

Interactions: Venus @Icy Hot

ʀᴏᴍᴇ 1.5 » ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴀʟʟ
ᴅᴜᴍ ꜱᴘɪʀᴏ ꜱᴘᴇʀᴏ

The stars gave depth to the backdrop of the lake that settled neat along the balcony's horizon. Deep in Mars' chest he felt the tug of some lost string, strumming against the wood beat of his heart to stutter the still breath in his lungs. Something had lost itself to the idle passage of time; his chest weighed heavy under the anvil pressed to his shoulder blades, bending him hunched to face the blurred lights of his shoes. Mars' felt the weight tip him forward against the tile that clacked at the tip of his shoe where he could see now his face shrouded in the dusk that faded with the creeping moon.

Many things allowed him some measure of happiness. The guilt of having all that he did at his finger tips only to melt to the melancholy the parted his ribs to nestle in the cavity behind his sternum. It broke his heart in the privacy of his room, his apartment, his office, staring at a blankness that covered his wall. The forest greeted him, burning kisses to his collarbone; victory danced against the muscles of his back, her wind light giggles at his ear; the comfort of darkness took measured steps beside him, stalwart and constant as the light of the sun. Yet...

Mars turned his heel the nightstand beside his bed, deep mahogany drawers yawning open to his touch. He bit his lip. Between his fingers he grasped a signet ring, spun with deep turquoise greens gradient into a blue that opened into the golden eye dotted with teal, inlaid with a rich brown. Upon its band written 'IVNO' engraved in bright gold. It felt cold as he slipped it upon his finger, tightening his knuckles; it felt aged against his skin, doubtless still ravaged by time despite the constant care taken to keep it shining, pristine. Deep lines settled above Mars' brows at the prospect of losing this. His heart ached at the timeless cycle of his life that burdened him with the reminder that the underworld may not take her—that she'd be stardust dashed against the brilliant sky.

"The stars can shine in your stead, mother, that the world can look up and bask in your brilliance," he whispered. He sucked in his bottom lip, gnawed at the skin to break the prickling water welling at the corner of his eyes.

He breathed, deep and heavy enough to stretch the fabric of his suit. Matters needed attending to and Mars had a duty to his family. It would do no good to fall into mourning, even though the ache of loss still tugged his head downward.

Would pride fill her face?

Or would the ache of disappointment break her gaze and turn her head away?

Mars closed his eyes. No... he willed, hands gripped until his nails dug into his palms. Marcus Salvius refused to bow to emotions tonight, not until he found himself in the safety of familiar arms.

To: Vulpis Mea 🦊
Y [✓] N [ ]
Apologies, I must have filled it out by mistake. I'll have a word with my assistant about this, I assure you.

The phone felt grounding in his hand, something to look forward to—something to take his mind off of the shroud of stars too bright over his. He contemplated for a moment, staring at the screen before a smirk fell upon his lips.

To: Vulpis Mea 🦊
😉🍆 ...unless?

Perhaps his guise fell too far with a certain horned God. It felt liberating to shake the hardened collar around his neck to howl in delight at the fox between his feat. To give himself over to a flame he refused to douse. Did it leave him vulnerable? Most definitely. But unlike a certain carpet shocking king—did he mention he was a king—Mars preferred to dip his claws into the waters, see how deep he could go until it forced him to depths beyond his understanding.

With his mind finding comfort in deep green canopies, Mars allowed himself to shuffle to his car.

Celebrities came in a variety of different aspects. It so happened that a CEO tech mogul classified as a celebrity simply by owning a multi-billion dollar corporation. Mars found it perplexing that cameras would shutter at his arrival and a flurry of reporters would ask him a myriad of questions. Merger this, merger that. Eco-footprint. Accusations of pandering to eco-terrorists and communist. None of it phased him, though he felt glad that their attention suddenly shifted behind him to some faceless entertainer.

Mars sighed, allowing himself to pass through the threshold of marble and pinch his brows at the careless interior. It couldn't be helped. Some modern architecture lacked a soul and this particular building fit the bill solidly. He supposed Jupiter couldn't find a better venue in light of the rush that befell him, unprompted in a flash of trickery.

The bustle of mingling voices caught his ear, breathed into him the vibrant life of people, mortals and gods alike. He breathed it in, relished the buzz that shot down his spine. He allowed the moment to pass, then let his eyes roam the many faces of those present. Athena stood a statue in brilliant light. Venus let the foam of her honeyed words dip into the moon in Artemis' chest. His son, Timor, trailed the ebb and flow of shade that stood between marble pillars.

No fox faced youth amongst the masses. It stung at his heart just slightly, if only to disappoint his timely arrival. His face fell but a fraction before he swept through the room with heavy footsteps. Jupiter would likely find himself perched above it all, likely scanning faces for a particular sorrow laced sea god. It took a miracle not to roll his eyes in reflex as he planted himself at the base of the stairs Jupiter descended from, a hand grasping a wine flute that passed him by.

"Regret and heartbreak really bring out the shade of vanity in your eyes, Augustus," Mars bit at his brother, the hint of a smirk tugging the corner of his lips. His hands straightened the lapel of his jacket, eyes drifting downward, "Do we have the virtue of witnessing Julius in full attendance tonight? Or did he send a doctor's note this time?"

Interactions: Jupiter @fledermaus, Pan (via Text) @smarty0114
Mourning: Juno @KZOMBI3

Tea Time
Tea Time
ʟɪᴛᴛʟᴇ ᴍᴀʀᴊᴏʀᴀᴍ ; 8:00 ᴘ.ᴍ.
ᴏᴘᴇɴ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰʟᴏᴏᴅ ɢᴀᴛᴇꜱ

What happened to the sun when he dipped beneath the line of the ocean, or the tide of trees that washed over the hillside? Let the dusk consume the sky in a brilliant display of purple, casting the curtain aside to make way for the stars that dipped into the sheet of black that enveloped them.

Today had met Imentet with a busy sight, though as the sun sank to the horizon, time slowed to give the goddess of respite a moment to herself. Beneath the bustle of the city, she wiped down each glass encased desert that served as her tables—purple sand to symbolize the shift between day and night, life and death—then ensured each of her cases contained all the tea she would need for the night. The curtains fit and adjusted to just the right amount and the array of lights above to serve as her stars each blinked slow and asynchronous from each other. The dim light of dusk that her secret cafe held fit just right for the patrons that would find themselves calling to her in search for guidance and hospitality.

Tonight, only a few souls sat in the low lying chairs or the soft cushions of her seats, which left the rest available for the myriad of guest she'd welcome. The room was smaller than the top, but all the cozier for it with an assortment of cushions and seats for her patrons to find themselves. Most of the decor came in that same North African, desert theme she used to remind herself and her friends of a home they yearned to return to. Unlike the day and dawn theme that the top provided, Imentet used an array of dark purples and blacks with some darker blues mixed into the furniture and decor. The veil that cut day into night cast itself over the entirety of her humble cafe and to it she allowed herself to fall into.

At exactly eight o'clock, Imentet send a number of texts to her friends and anyone she considered a non-troublemaker to stop on by, that the bottom cafe was open for business.

To: Whomever & Egyptians
Little Marjoram: After Dark is all properly set up. If you're not afraid of a little wayward souls here and there, feel free to stop on by.😉
No roughhousing or I s2g...

With that sent off, Imentet settled into one of the corners full of blankets and soft pillows and a very low lying table. A book cracked open in her lap, she read and waited for the first deity to set foot into her establishment. Her eyes made sure to flit up every now and then, perhaps a little eager for friendly company after skipping on the latest Conclave.

𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐚
𝐂𝐨𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐏𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐚
ꜰʟᴜꜰꜰʏ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴄᴏᴛᴛᴏɴ ᴄᴀɴᴅʏ

Walks should always end in some kind of catharsis or epiphany, especially autumnal walks. Something about the crisp air and the burnt leaves shaking loose from their boughs at the trembling wind carried a wisdom to it. It carried the voice of the universe.

Yet, Jormungandr felt further lost to the throes of an existential crisis, to the unfair grasp of family he loved but could not have. Hel touched fingertips to his before reeling away. Guilt ached in his stomach, grumbling its discomfort. That Jormungandr would feel worse at the prospect of his sister reaching out only to carry that with him in childish contempt made for a nasty concoction of guilt and the feeling of someone scorned.

If a damnable walk wouldn’t clear his head, Jormungandr would have to settle with cooking. And more cooking. Maybe a little too much cooking because now he had giant balls of dough just out on his counter waiting to be cut into freshly made pasta. He shouldn’t have closed early. Now he felt bad on two fronts.

With a sigh, Jormungandr began kneading the dough to its right consistency until he could feed it through his little pasta maker. The man dwarfed his equipment, yet he still somehow managed to glide through the kitchen with airy effort and gentle care. Despite the sadness that ached him and settled in the lines of his face, Jormungandr still poured his love into each and every dish. Nothing less for anyone; he’d keep the tears from the pasta, maybe save that for his dinner later.

Whilst the downcast form of the norse god worked on his craft, one rather excitable con-man had snuck up behind him, hand reaching up to his mouth as he tried desperately not to let out the laugh that threatened to burst from his chest. A mischievous glint brimmed just under the surface of Hermes’ gaze as he revelled in the pleasure of being able to slip in unnoticed. It reminded him of those times when he had traced the furtive footsteps of lowly thieves, giving them a nudge of good luck so that they would be able to take that coveted loaf of bread or pouch of precious coins without fear of persecution.

Finally reaching the taller male, blue eyes peered round his well-defined shoulders to focus on the rhythmical movement of skilled hands as they folded and refolded the dough. It was surprisingly relaxing to watch someone work so cleanly and effortlessly, and he couldn’t help but admire his ability to focus so dedicatedly on one task. It required a patience that Hermes had never, and was unlikely to ever, possess.

“Watcha cooking?” His voice abruptly broke the near silence, chin practically resting on Jormungandr's shoulder as he spoke up. "Need any help? I’ve been told I’m good with my hands..." The trickster god couldn't help the gentle tease that slipped from his mouth, corners of his lips pulling into a small smile at his words. The offer was, unfortunately, an empty one, for his skill in the kitchen was akin to that of an easily distracted toddler. At best he would simply go hungry and at worst he was required to call the fire brigade.

A solemn face stared in a near dazed expression at the dough pressed in Jormungandr’s hands. He’d not heard the sneakthief until the man had nearly pressed up against him. The counter shook at Jorm’s strength as the snake god jumped, releasing an unceremonious yelp in the process. ”You’re gonna make me regret giving you access to my kitchen,” Jorm said. A smile bit at his lips, but it felt hard to keep it there even with a friend like Hermes and his constant high energy radiating behind him.

”I’m makin’ pasta, at the moment. Just a buncha noodles. Still need to figure out the sauce,” Jorm said, turn back to stare at the dough. He knew the god’s offer was likely sincere, but Jorm knew the extent of Hermes’ cooking skill. Still, looking at the chipper face of a friend who somehow found it reasonable to drop in unannounced whenever he felt like—honestly, though, did Jorm really care? He welcomed the arrival of the messenger boy. Revelled in it, honestly, as among the gods he knew, Hermes was the best guy to call when he was in a funk.

”Kneading dough is different from kneading other things, Herm,” Jorm grinned, ”But, yeah, yeah. Run this through my little pasta maker over there. You’ll be my noodle boy tonight.” Somehow, Jorm knew Hermes would crank the machine once before something shiny caught his attention.

“I think you mean noodle man.” Hermes corrected, shooting him a cheeky grin before reluctantly stepping away. He had quite enjoyed the closeness of their bodies, even if it had only been for the briefest of moments. “Okay, you’re the boss! But I’ll have you know that there is no-one better in Seattle than me at cooking a pot noodle.” Seeming genuinely proud of what could barely be called an accomplishment, Hermes wandered over to the pasta thingy…the pasta…the shiny thing Jorm had pointed out.

Grabbing the lump of dough, Hermes proceeded to unceremoniously plonk it on top of the machine. His head tilted in concentration as he began to crank the lever, a small frown knitting his brows together when the dough sat firmly in place, refusing to move through the contraption. Hermes furiously wound the lever for a whole minute before deciding that it was not going to work. There was clearly nothing he could do and Jorm would just have to buy a new machine. “I think it’s broken.” He finally announced, turning to look back over at the man in question. “Guess we’ll have to eat something else! Wait- why are you cooking if the restaurant is shut?” His gaze roved over his friends face as he suddenly realised how unusual it was for Cannibistro to be shut, especially when there were always plenty of willing patrons.

The heat left him and Jorm could only frown at the absence, only to wipe it away at the sight of Hermes attempting to jam a ball of dough into his pasta maker. Jorm cackled, feeling a smile return to him as he moved over, standing close to the shorter man. The dough squished in his hand as he sprinkled flour atop it, flattened it, and then fed it through the machine. ”You just gotta, keep feedin’ it through till it’s flat and long enough to make some thin noodle slices,” Jorm said, smiling at him only to frown at Hermes' question. That he really didn’t feel like answering, or rather he didn’t quite have the answer for him. Jorm instead scratched the back of his head and looked toward a batch of small containers already filled with cooked noodles.

”Just one of those days you feel like making a giant supply of noodles, you know?” Jorm said as if that was something every average person did. Just make about a hundred containers of noodles and the sauce to match for no other reason than just because? He could feel the heat rising to his cheeks and Jorm averted his gaze as his lips pressed together and his brows knitted. ”Just felt like it, yeah? The homeless shelter nearby always needs a hefty supply of food and rations, so I just thought, why not? Haha,” Jorm nearly looked on the brink of sweating, eyes awkwardly flitting from Hermes to his pile of dough on the other counter.

”Hey! Come on, Noodle Boy lemme show you my new stand mixer!” Jorm immediately changed the subject, hoping something else shinier would distract Hermes for a spell.

“Man…” Hermes couldn’t help the small pout that graced his features this time, his focus briefly flitting back to the dough as Jorm expertly showed him how to use the thingamajig. It looked extremely laborious, requiring a multitude of repeated steps, and he found his gaze straying back over to the head chef instead. Eyes flitting across his face, the smile that was often a fixed staple of Hermes’ features dropped for a moment. His job practically relied on him being able to astutely read body language, and he couldn’t help but notice the small shift in Jorms expression as he spoke. “For the homeless, huh? Guess they won’t be going hungry tonight!” He smiled, giving Jorm a gentle pat on the shoulder as he moved to place himself between the god and the mixer he was trying to show him.

“You’re acting weird.” He pointed out bluntly, reaching up to gently prod him in the centre of his chest. “Are you high or something? Oh! Is that why you shut up shop?” Hermes let out a small laugh at the idea of Jorm trying to serve customers whilst high as a kite. “Lemme have a look at your eyes!” Tongue between his teeth as he moved towards him, Hermes closed the distance between their bodies once more, his face a picture of focused concentration as he tried to ascertain whether his pupils were in fact dilated. “Hm, looks normal to me…” He eventually concluded, a quizzical expression flitting across his face.

Jorm gave a nod to him, smiling softly. ”Yeah, figure I got the money and the resources, so why not—” Jorm promptly caught his breath at the sudden intrusion into his personal space. The distance between them concerned Jorm, though he felt torn between the sudden drying of his throat and the desire to maybe scoot a little, tiny bit closer. No words reached his addled mind trying to make sense of his current situation.

”Huh? High?” He said with the most dumbfounded expression slacking his face. From this distance, Jorm could make out every line of Hermes’ face, the expression he wore, the tongue slipped from between his teeth like that of an inquisitive puppy. A breeze passed through him, surrounding him until it nearly pushed him forward until his eyes widened. ”Wha-what? I mean… what’re… what do you mean? I’m not actin’ weird, you’re weird. Weirdo,” Jorm retaliated, lips pushed into a light pout as he slouched forward. He couldn’t stop his eyes flitting from Herm’s own and down to the speedster god’s lips, which brought even more heat to his face.

To battle melancholy, nerves, and the desire to smoosh Hermes’ cheeks together and demand why the bastard was so endearingly cute. Everything burned and the sadness that stilled gripped him grasped at his throat while Hermes gaze clenched around his heart. He felt it more and more irresistible to just yell and roar his frustrations.

”Noodle…” Jorm said with some kind of pouting finality.

Hermes’ lips pulled into a smirk at the gods sulky demeanour. “Tell me.” He urged softly, eyes flitted over that perfect jawline, gaze briefly trailing down to his collarbone before darting back up to his face. “Or I’ll make you.” The heralds expression was a mixture of light humour and mischief, parted lips mere inches away from touching those opposite. As his chest moved softly in and out, he felt his senses flooded by the woody scent of a steady bonfire, only to be washed over by a fresh sea breeze and a floral scent he didn’t quite recognise.

Normally he wouldn’t have spared a second before he closed the gap between them, but Hermes knew that they were just friends...even if he could still remember the thrill of that one drunken kiss. Of course, that didn’t mean he was at all opposed to using a little sprinkle of charm to get his own way. Reaching up a hand, he moved to gently brush away a dash of flour that had been smeared across Jorms cheek, fingertips lingering for a moment too long. “C’mon. We’re friends, right? I’m great at keeping secrets if that’s what you’re worried about…” His tongue moved to wet his suddenly dry lips, Hermes stubbornly refusing to budge an inch away from the snake god.

Stealing his breath away had to be a speciality of Hermes’. Jormungandr had determined quite a while ago that, yes, that was the truth in its entirety. If it didn’t throw him into such awkward situations such as the one where he currently found himself staring at the hint of pink slipping between lips. Cowardice took him like it did everytime, like it had that night when he could taste the peppermint on his tongue. It felt like rain, warm in summer heat, quenched the parched bite clinging to his throat. He wanted to feel that again and nearly did, so close to the wheat on summer air, but he threw himself against the gust of wind at his back and turned his head.

Not today. His nerves caught him too quickly this time and dragged him from the confession on his lips.

”Ye-yeah, we are, but what’ll you do to make me?” Jormungandr asked. Despite the tint of pink to his cheeks and the anxiety that clawed at himi, he’d rebel against it just this once—just this small, tiny bit. With his eyes unable to stare at just one feature, they had to drink all of Hermes in: the clean cut of the man’s jaw, the trickster’s smile that stretched the cupid’s bow of his lips, and the sharp crease of his collar that dipped to his lithe chest. He snapped back up, catching the soft blue of his eyes that reminded him of the tip between sky and sea that he’d peer at those days ago, yearning for something only to yearn for the vanishing point of Hermes’ gaze. It set a light pout to his lips that he couldn’t stop.

Everything slowed down as Hermes caught the blush on the gods cheeks...the way his eyes moved back and forth over his own. It was less about the trick now and more about the desire welling up in the pit of his stomach. A haze of want overcame him, clouding his senses so that he was barely able to acknowledge the hesitant words that were uttered. “What’ll I-…” His breath hitched in his throat, the ever impatient god no longer able to withstand the pull within him. Without warning, lips moved to press against his, softly at first and then more insistently as a hunger he hadn’t realised was there took over. A hand moved to grip at his neck, demandingly pulling the gods face closer, until there was only heat and yearning desire left between them.

Nerves and awkwardness melted away into nothing but the press of lips to his. It left him rigid, at first, eyes wide open as he hunched down slightly. His hands hovered over Hermes’ sides, unsure of themselves, of what they would do to something that felt like glass in his grip. But he allowed the rain to cool his heated skin and willed his arms to grasp and hold tight to Hermes, pull him gentle against him.

He could recall the haze of alcohol that bit him so long ago and the feel of Hermes’ against him now made the drunken mist feel like a numb swipe of lips. The sobriety and lucidity of this moment trumped the dark nights alone, sighing to himself, wanting what he dumbly figured he couldn’t have. Though, maybe he still couldn’t and the lick of his tongue against the crease of Hermes’ lips faltered.

A gasp left his throat when cowardice took him again and Jormungandr pressed his hands to Hermes' sides. Battling against the need that overtook him felt like fighting against a downpour, but he persisted. ”Herm,” he said, face red and lips redder still, ”I don’t think… I-I’m sorry.” He stepped away just slightly, head tilted down with his face pinched in defeat. The smallness of his moment now overwhelmed him, as if he could look up and see Hermes towering above him. He wanted to flee, but he’d planted himself to the tile of his kitchen floor.

”I don’t think you want what I want,” Jorm said, voice barely a whisper. To see himself, the snake that wound himself around the world, fall to meekness at the gaze of another caught him in a cycle of shame. One he wasn't sure he could release himself from on his own.

A brief flash of hurt crossed the Grecian's face when the body he so ached to be near pulled away from his own. He wished to reach out and pull him demandingly back but the downtrodden expression that faced him, stopped him from doing little more than bring an unsure hand up to his own lips, still relishing in the faint taste of salt and firewood.

“Oh.” The word slipped out as he tried to hide the sudden disappointment that he felt. Had he been mistaken? Perhaps the norse god truly only sought his friendship. After all, whenever someone looked this way, it usually meant Hermes had done something wrong. He also usually didn’t feel guilty but he couldn’t help the knot that had begun to form in the pit of his stomach. To have made him look so upset, so unsure...that was the worst thing he could’ve done.

“Guess I shouldn’t have done that, eh?” He let out a dry laugh, forcing a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Ah shit, my bad. I’m sorry Jorm!” Running a hand awkwardly through his brunette locks, Hermes glanced around the kitchen, trying desperately not to look at Jorm for fear that he would want to kiss those sweet lips once more. “I should go! I can go…” He finally concluded, the despondent tone weighing heavy in his words. Shooting Jorm another lacklustre smile, he headed for the door, not daring to look back.

Fumbling seemed to be the only thing Jorm could do these days and the look of hurt on Hermes pierced his gut. It was so quick, but in that moment of shame and fear, it was the only thing Jorm saw. The chill froze him to the ground even though he begged his body to move. Do something. Yet, he felt as if he were that small serpent again, choked by the hand of the Allfather, ripped away from love and life and tossed to the ice cold seas.

That felt so long ago. No, it was so long ago and now he was free to make the choices he wanted, to be the kind of god he wanted so desperately to be. Even if his own sister refused to see that, Jorm couldn’t wrap himself in the security of his own fear.

As soon as Hermes passed him, Jorm bid his arm to move. It latched out, grasping the other god’s arm in a vice grip before spinning them both to face each other. ”That’s not what I meant Herm,” Jorm said, holding onto Hermes’ shoulders like he was dangling from a cliff. This surge of confidence would wane soon and he just needed Hermes to understand, just this once exactly what he meant.

”I don’t just wanna be your friend,” Jorm started, eyes wide and suddenly gripped with anxiety, ”I mean, I… I wanna be. Like, just, um… you and me… you know like you would be my friend—no, boy that’s a friend. A friend that, uh, you know with… no, I’m not making any sense.”

Jorm let out a loud huff, taking a moment to let the words come to him. ”I wanna be your friendboy! No. Agh. Date me, Hermes.”

When Jorm had gripped onto his arm, Hermes willingly let himself be pulled back to him, eyes instantly fixing on the gods nervous form. The hurt quickly switched to confusion, and then finally to playfulness as bursts of laughter suddenly began to rise from his chest. “Friend…boy…?” He managed to utter the words through the endless giggles, hands taking to rest against Jorms perfectly defined chest as he attempted to steady himself.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” He finally conceded, body shaking with silent laughter as he looked up at Jorm, sky blue eyes wide with delight. Fingers closed gently around the annoyingly present fabric of his shirt as he eventually managed to catch his breath long enough to speak normally once more.

“Sooooo…you wanna date me? I’m that great, huh?” A cocky grin graced his features as he teased Jorm, gaze now freely roaming over his face and body and well...everywhere. “I suppose I can fit time in my busy schedule to do that.” Biting down on his bottom lip, he gently chewed at the delicate skin, breathing becoming more shallow as his ever traitorous thoughts strayed to more pleasurable ideas. “But I think we might need to practice that kiss again first…”

A pout set in at the sudden laughter shaking the man he held in his grasp. ”Don’t laugh at me!” Jorm said, lips set in a light pout. He let his hands slide against Hermes’ shoulders, sliding down to grip at the man’s sides. A weight fell from Jorm’s shoulders, replaced with that warm air surrounding them that gently grazed the light sea of his mind. With a sigh, he let his shoulders fall and his hands slide back to pull Hermes ever closer toward him.

”Well, I mean… don’t let it get to your head, but yeah,” Jorm grinned, eyelids falling just slightly as he breathed Hermes in. He felt the fresh breeze, the summer rains, could feel it surround them instead of the warm kitchen. ”You’re gonna have to show me how friendbo—I mean… don’t say anything, just…” Jorm stumbled again, pinching his eyes shut as his cheeks burned.

Whilst Jorm spoke, hands moved to rove over his chest, gently feeling every indentation before moving up to clasp gently behind his neck. “Fuck...” For once the trickster god was caught speechless, unwilling or unable to let his usual ramblings interfere with the opportunity to taste the god once more. Pressing their bodies together, Hermes slowly began to pepper kisses anywhere but on his lips. On his neck, on his jawline, on his cheeks... Hooded eyes looked mischievously up at him, daring Jorm to submit first, to be the one to delve where they both sought so desperately to go.

Yet it was he who eventually cracked. Hermes, body thrumming with an almost insufferable tension, leaned in to kiss him. Lips pressed furiously against his, hands roaming up into his soft hair as he held them there, unwilling to let go.

More words came to Jorm’s lips, just mindless rambling that his nerves drove into him until Hermes literally knocked the air. Like he’d been thrown from earth to the space that clouded his visions, Jorm couldn’t breath. The lips that pressed into him, his neck, his jaw, took his own lips in a soft press that quickly turned to hunger. What could he do but melt into the gentle rain of Hermes’ lips, the smell of summer around him.

All while his hands grasped in dire need to ensure that Hermes was real, that the feel of his warmth against him was truer than the worry on his mind. Everything slipped away: the letter, the awkward zeal that held him hostage, the cool AC that hummed above them. All of it turned to the need that sat in his chest for so long that he hadn’t known the exhilaration of finding himself free of it.

Jormungandr didn’t wait, merely bent low into the kiss until his hands grasped Hermes waist and hoisted him up. It took a while, getting used to the sudden weight in his arms, and then between heated kisses and trailing wetness of his tongue against Hermes’, Jormungandr found his way out. Shoving through the kitchen doorway, Jormungandr could only really get a few feet before he stumbled, however.

A yelp left him as he immediately spun so that his back took the brunt of the fall, though the pain quickly vanished in light of his new predicament. ”I’m glad I closed up early,” Jormungandr grinned, still slightly dazed as he now stared up at the man atop him. It wasn’t what he intended, but at least from here no one could sneak a peek at the circumstance Hermes and Jormungandr found themselves in. Still, he squeezed Hermes side as he lifted himself up, balanced on an elbow as he immediately pulled the other god to taste the freshness of mint that wafted off his tongue.

”You okay? Not hurt?” Jorm asked between each taste, unable to stop grinning as laughter spilled like honey from his reddened lips.

Hermes nodded, grinning back against the lips that kissed him. “Oh, I’m fine. Are you? Jorms happiness was delightfully infectious, his laughter filling the room with its sweet dulcet tones, and for a moment he was glad that he had the sound all to himself.

“Infact, I couldn’t be happier…” His eyes twinkled mischievously, thoughts of what he could do to the man pinned under him flooding through his head. So many delicious ideas came to mind that he knew there was no way he could do them all right now. It was no worry though...they had plenty of time as friendboys to explore all that intrigued him.

Purposefully making his movements slow & laborious, Hermes moved to straddle Jorms hips properly, staring keenly down at the god when he was done. “Now…” He laughed, suddenly moving to pin Jorms arms above his head. The trickster may not have been as fast as he once was atop Mount Olympus but he still was difficult to keep up with when he wanted to be. “I do see one problem here.” He shook his head in mock disappointment as he leaned down to nip gently against his captives bottom lip. “You’re wearing far too many clothes...”

If he had any concerns, they immediately left him the second Hermes took charge. Jorm snapped his teeth, grinning up at Hermes. ”I think it’s unfair to say that when you’re a part of the problem, Herms,” Jorm said, planting his feet on the ground to buck his hips upward in an attempt to off-kilter the god on top of him. He used that moment to steal a heated kiss from Hermes’ lips, stealing the air from the speedster’s mouth like it was his own to claim.

”Tit-for-tat? You solve your problem and I solve mine?” Jorm laughed again, the sound rolling in his chest like thunder as he flexed his wrists caught in Hermes’ hands. ”Don’t be mean, Noodle Boy, you’ve just started cheering me up,” Jorm said. The laugh melted away into a barely contained pout that begged to widen into a toothy grin.

Hermes remained stubbornly in place despite Jorms attempts to fling him off, his hands lifting the gods wrists up momentarily before pinning them back firmly into place on the cold wooden floor. “Noodle man.” He playfully corrected once more, lips moving to mimic the pout that Jorm was currently sporting. Tit-for-tat was all well and fair, but Hermes really only cared about the attire of one immortal being.

“You drive a hard bargain Jormy.” Releasing his hold on him, Hermes leaned backwards to slowly strip the shirt from his back, muscles tensing in restless apprehension. From this vantage point he could perfectly admire Jorms body and his gaze unabashedly strayed wherever it liked, unperturbed by the obvious nature of his admiration. “Your turn.” He grinned, tilting his head eagerly as he waited.

Air caught in Jormungandr’s throat at the sight of Hermes. He kept himself still, though his hands, once unpinned, moved to hover over Hermes’ form. The pads of his fingers traced over the lines of musculature leading from Hermes’ sides to his stomach. Then, like drizzle misting Hermes’ body, his fingers found their way to his chest. His breath shallowed before it heaved a great sigh that lifted his chest.

Undoing the trance Jorm fell into with a shake of his head, he gulped down his nerves. ”R-right. Yeah… my, uh… turn,” Jorm said, tongue sweeping out to quench his parched lips. It took a moment to register his own words until he let out a small, ”Oh!” and immediately leaned forward to rip the shirt from his torso and toss it aside. Again, his chest heaved as he lay back down, hands already back to grasping at Hermes’ sides. He looked up at him, eyes flitting from the god’s eyes to his neck to his chest.

”Haha, oh jeeze,” Jorm said, light air under his breath.

The nervous energy radiating from Jorm caused Hermes’ gaze to soften, hands moving to mindlessly toy with the stiff fabric at the top of his jeans. He so badly wanted to rush in head first, to let his hunger push him into realms of ecstasy and sensual delights. And at any other time...with any other person, he wouldn’t have given it a second thought; but the god seemed so nervous, so unsure...and he felt a sudden urge to make sure he was okay. Resisting the temptation to delve his hands into unknown territories, the exposed skin of their chests instead met as Hermes leant down to chastely press their lips together. Tongue briefly brushed against his, before he reluctantly pulled back. “We can stop if you want...” He muttered quietly, hooded eyes making it clear that he wanted to do anything but that, but for Jorm, he would ignore it. Or at least try to…

”Why would we stop?” Jorm asked, quiet with his lips hovering so close to Hermes’. The nervous twinge that worried a crease on his brow likely gave Hermes the idea that maybe he didn’t want to go further. Or maybe Hermes himself didn’t want to push beyond the boundaries of their relationship. Jorm’s hands glided along Hermes’ side, fingers twitching slightly in concern. He sucked his lip in, stared at Hermes mouth, then looked to lock eyes with the speedster.

”Do—do you want to stop?” Jorm asked, even quieter as his chest shook out a sigh. Despite the nerves, he shook his head, wrapping his arms tight around Hermes back to draw him closer still despite their chests pressing flat against each other. ”I want…” Jorm paused, hesitant to voice the truth in his thoughts for fear of rejection even in spite of the man literally laying half-naked atop him, ”I wanna be with you in every way possible, Herm.” The confession released from his lips came out so softly and with reverence, though the quiet shake of his voice seemed odd coming from the mouth of a giant such as Jorm.

“You do?” It was Hermes’ turn to blush this time, the barest hint of pink flaring up against the skin of his cheeks. Embarrassment was something he rarely felt but no-one had ever put it to him so sweetly before. He’d always been the one night stand, or the brief fling guy, but the way Jorm spoke made it seem like something more than that was possible. Something he’d never even considered having...

“Well, now that I know that...” Trying to hide his brief moment of shyness, Hermes shot him a lopsided grin, eyes narrowing playfully. “I’m not letting you go anywhere.” The trickster pressed his body hard against that beneath him, teeth once more nipping at his bottom lip, before moving to trail fiery kisses down his neck.

The words washed over him to the point Jorm’s lips hurt from smiling so wide. It should have been burning between them, but Jorm only felt the careful warmth of Hermes light him up from the inside. It swelled inside him, staring at the man who nipped at his lips and pressed kisses to steamed skin. Jorm’s hand came up, running his fingers through the brunette hair as he bit his lips.

”Course I do, Herm,” he said, lifting Herm to meet him for one last lock of their lips. He tasted the sweet bite of mint on his tongue, savored it with a rumble in his chest before letting Hermes continue his descent. Cheeks tinted red, Jorm watched, chest rising in shallow puffs that grew even lighter at the beat of his chest, at the thought that this would be the first of many. Jorm couldn’t stop the wide, full smile at the thought while his hands roamed the arch of Hermes’ back, the tousled hair that smelled like hot rain that melded into the rolling waves.

collab interactions: @Danvers x @Gothelk

ᴘᴀɴ'ꜱ ᴀʙᴏᴅᴇ
ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ꜱᴘɪᴄʏ

The morality of finding an associate and business partner’s address and then proceeding to show up unannounced likely implicated Mars in a number of very negative ways. Caring about any of that mess, however, did not fall into Mars’ purview. In fact, the idea of catching a little shit like Pan off guard excited him.

To which he gladly ordered them both a large family meal from a local restaurant. Harvest Beat provided a diverse and unpredictable display of quality vegan food in a dazzling 5-course meal of the day display. The amount of food provided served to feed a full party, though Mars felt it more appropriate to provide an array of foods to choose from if he wanted it to be a surprise. Far be it for him to provide no alternatives, so perhaps he had a few more choices stocked in a cooler in his truck. Woops.

Arriving at his destination, Mars slid a tablet into one of the bags—a safety measure, just in case Pan considered the visit weird for simply being business partners. Though, he was certain he’d read the man correctly at their dine in not a few days ago. Venus would spit laughter in his face were he to come home dejected and rejected. Still, a man of Mars stature didn’t shy away from a challenge.

Thus, he found himself staring down a beautiful eco-industrial home with a number of large bags gripped tight in his hands. Shoes clicked against the hard concrete path that lead up to the front, his suit changed from that morning into something more comfortable, if a bit on the nose for what he was attempting to do. At least, he thought so, likely because he knew his own intentions and he was certain Venus’ reaction to it meant she knew as well.

Perhaps it would slip under Pan’s nose. Taking the slip with a trickster god? Highly unlikely. Still, Mars grinned as he pressed a finger to the bell, chiming his arrival at the forest god’s lovely domain. Perhaps he wanted the god to know all of his intentions.

Inside, Pan sat on the floor, legs crossed and hands flat against the hardwood floors. The tranquil sounds of the forest poured out into the living room, his bare chest rising and falling in time with his slow, relaxed breaths. His day had been busy, filled with phone calls to and from the mayor’s office, currently scrambling in the wake of Hephaestus’ sudden disappearance, and reporters vying for more information on his new business partner. Meditation had become his escape from the mortal world, his time to recollect his thoughts before he slipped into a divine madness.

The chime of his doorbell cut through the forest sounds, and his eyes shot open. Unexpected visitors were unheard of at his house, so secluded and hidden from his prying family. Perhaps Artemis had more to say. He had no doubt that she’d found his home years ago.

He stood up, padding over to the door and swinging it open, a smirk spreading across his face at the sight of his god of war. He glanced between the bags of takeout, and Mars’ eyes. A pleasant surprise indeed. “You’re just full of surprises, aren’t you?” Pan cocked an eyebrow, and leaned against the doorframe, a rush of excitement racing through his veins as he felt Rome’s gaze wash over him.

That gaze shot up toward Pan’s eyes after a beat, heavy inhale of breath and a wolfish grin to match. ”In war a soldier must stay on his toes and keep his opponents breathless,” Mars’ grin grew to reveal the canines of his teeth. A thrill bore into him, seizing the muscles of his arms to the point where it grew harder to keep them still. So, Mars pushed forward, deliberately brushing close against Pan as he stared down at him, breath and air between them burning.

Upon entering Pan’s humble home, Mars took stock and breathed deep the smell of wooded air. It burned his chest as he turned to look at Pan with his head tilted to the side and the professional stoicism melting into something more predatory. ”I have a number of excuses for coming here,” Mars said, lifting the bags of food, ”But, I suspect you’d believe absolutely none of them. If you’d like, I can call this a team building exercise.” Even as their companies rushed to explain the partnership, worked to build communication and rapport, Mars felt the need to do the same. Perhaps it was for more selfish matters, however, and the baring white of his teeth easily gave that notion away.

Exhilaration gripped the protector of the forest, the same way it had back at the restaurant. His heart had picked up it’s rhythm, thumping against his chest as if to push him closer to the wolf who’d come to see the sheep. The relaxation brought on by his meditation had been replaced with a lust both foreign and familiar. There was a feeling that giving into this particular temptation would take him down a much different path than others had. If anything, that only made the man standing across from him more desirable. “You’re in luck. I’m famished,” Pan said.

A trickster’s grin spread across his face as he met Mars’ eyes, holding his gaze as he took one of the bags from him, slender fingers just barely grazing his hand. The smile was equal parts innocent and devilish, eyes that said ‘I know exactly what this is,’ but an attitude that said it would be Mars’ job to make it happen. He broke the stare suddenly, and led his visitor into the kitchen, where he seated himself at a stool by the island. “And you got vegan. You’re very good at this,” Pan said as his eyes fell upon the meal inside.

A swell in his chest rose to his throat at Pan’s approach, eyes locked in anticipation. The tease of something tickled at the hair of his jaw. Mars held back, eyes narrowed just the slightest at the forest trickster’s ploy. The urge to lunge felt like a gust pressing his feet forward toward a cliff of his own making. Watching Pan walk away made it all the more tempting to leap. But Mars held it, grasped in a clenched fist. He wanted this, like all the sheep baring their necks to his sharp canines, but Pan held something different in the spring of his body. Something lay beneath that guise, and the burning need to reveal him in full pressed Mars forward.

”I do my homework,” Mars said, slipping onto a stool beside Pan and setting the other bag upon the counter. He angled himself toward Pan, body leaned forward and his head mere inches away from the other’s. Huffing out a breath, Mars kept his gaze upon Pan’s form, drinking his presence in before raking his eyes away. His hands dove into the bag to retrieve the contents and display them upon the cool surface.

Though food did warrant Mars’ attention, the god of war let it lapse toward the heat beside him. ”If this does not satiate your needs,” Mars started, voice lowered into a heated breath against Pan’s cheek while one of his large hands pressed to the small of the trickster’s back, ”do say so. I ammore than happy to accommodate whatever it is you are truly famished for.”

Mars’ hand against his back stoked a fire. Pan brought a hand up, toying with Mars’ collar before running his fingers down and laying his palm flat against the stone chest that had begun to work it’s way into his thoughts. Every step forward obscured the way he’d come. There was no turning back, only forks in the road that he ignored as he barreled towards the fire that awaited him at the end.

“This will get complicated, you know,” Pan said, his voice lowering to match Mars’ hushed whispers. The words were hardly a protest. If anything, Pan seemed to welcome whatever chaos might arise from their entanglement. “Our families won’t approve,” he continued, knowing damn well neither cared. He looked up at Mars, ageless eyes daring the father of Rome to claim what was his.

That blaze dancing in Pan’s eyes seared his flesh like the fingers that sucked the air from his lungs. His hooded gaze never left Pan’s face while his other hand gripped at the trickster’s waist. Fingers dug in hot to brand the skin they gripped. Every second Mars could intake of Pan’s earthy scent, the harder it became to resist the hand pressed firm to his chest and the offer it held for him.

”I relish the challenge and I welcome it gladly,” Mars said. The fingers at Pan’s waist seared hot before they clung and pulled. The growl that rumbled Mars’ chest rose to the lips that now seized the softness of Pan’s own, vibrating his desire into the very heat of his tongue. The bonfire caught flame against the forest floor until it raged deep in Mars’ gut to press Pan flush against the stone of his chest, hands smoldering the flame into flesh.

All at once he was falling into the heat, giving into it, letting it consume him. Strong hands gripped him, leaving their mark everywhere they trailed. In one fluid motion, Pan slid off the stool and onto Mars’ lap, straddling him and returning to the fire of his lips. His own hands navigated Mars’ body like experienced trackers, gripping his shoulders before sliding down and under the cloth obstacle that was his shirt. Stubble scratched against his cheeks, only invigorating him further, driving him deeper into the inferno.

Never had Mars let a fire burn so bright, lost to the whims of his own wants and needs and fueled by the bough of another so willingly tossed. Mars dove, hands gripping and pressing against a heat he wanted to claim. Another growl, deliberate and loud tore through his lips at the sudden weight pressed into his lap and Pan’s hands hot against the seized muscles flexed beneath the tightness of his shirt.

Yet, Mars paused, staring down at the ravished forest protector straddled atop him. He bared his fangs, a hand that gripped at Pan’s waist now pressed to the god’s neck, raising him by jaw and waist to the counter. Wolf’s eyes stared at the sheep he’d claimed, fangs ready to sink into soft flesh. ”This is truly what you hunger for, Pan?” he whispered, leaning forward to tug Pan’s head back to allow Mars to examine the prey set before him.

Pan grinned as he felt his hair pull his head back, and his entire body yearned for more. His legs wrapped around Mars’ waist, pulling him closer. He knew what happened when flames gripped the forest; it was born again from the ashes, stronger than before. He wondered if this might be the same. Desire had ensnared him, gotten him drunk on the touch of the man before him. His mind, filled with witty lines just moments before, could only push a single word past his lips, half gasped. “Yes.”

That’s all Mars needed to ignite him into a ball of flame, aching to consume the forest whole, burn the wood to embers that smoldered between them. Yet, he desired only to tame it, allow it not to take from him all that he wanted. It would lick at the bark, run the ground to ashes in its heat and from it Mars would claim and be claimed by the fire and wood.

Mars pressed the heat of his body against Pan, head lunging toward the sheep’s neck, exposed and soft to the press of his teeth. Tongue, hot, brushed skin and teeth tugged the flesh to bruise and press its print against the bark that he’d claimed with his own heat and fire. Mars’ hands continued to roam against Pan, pressing the pads of his finger to his rib cage, to the tight muscles of his sides, until they tugged at the locks of hair at his head. He wanted Pan to know, fully and deep into the very heart of his soul, what he desired and what he claimed for himself.

A twinge of pain in his neck brought a moan to his lips, eyes closed as he basked in the heat. Any control he’d had over the situation had been surrendered to the wolf that was staring at him so hungrily. The marble of the counter was cold against his back as he leaned back, hands gripping Mars’ collar and pulling him down, a silent plea for more.

Hunger tipped the edge of Mars’ teeth, but his head snapped upward at the tug and plea. Mars lips curved up as he denied the request, instead lifting away from the trickster’s offer. His fingers slid like hot coals against Pan’s stomach, trailing up his bare chest until they closed around his taught neck. He pressed fingers hard to the veins pumping hot. Fire coursed through Pan, through them both, and Mars could feel it raging between his fingers. Desire bid Mars to claim that fire, to stoke it and let it blaze until they could both melt into each other.

”Use your words,” Mars demanded, words hard like hammer to nail striking hot with fingers a grip of steel.

Dark eyes bore into him, a gaze that seemed to weaken the inhibitions he’d built up so carefully. He’d promised not to lose himself like this again, but here he was, lost in a field of flame, relishing in the heat. “Please,” he said, half whisper, half moan. Did Mars realize what that meant? What it was to bring the Great God Pan to his knees, to get him to beg? “Make me yours.”

The begging, the moan, it settled into Mars' broad chest and he squeezed before slipping his hands beneath Pan’s body. With a grunt, he lifted the smaller man to slot him perfectly against his torso. ”To think how easy that came out,” Mars teased, digging his fingers into the back of Pan’s hair to tug and expose his neck once more. Without a warning, however, Mars spun them to the wall, colliding the arch Pan’s back against the hard surface.

With a wolf’s growl, Mars lunged forward to claim the wanting, moaning lips that had seconds ago pleaded to him. Hands gripped and held tight to Pan’s bottom, clawing at the sweats in possessive greed. Fire wanted, consumed, demanded more and more and Mars let that control him, control his hips as they ground against the great god in his arms, controlled the hot tongue that pressed greedy and hungry at his lips, and the hands that claimed and pressed heat to skin in the inferno of their bodies.

Held aloft by Mars, Pan’s wit had fallen away leaving only a blinding need. His hands tore at Mars’ shirt, his movements rushed now as passion overtook him. Calloused hands, the hands of a soldier, sent electricity across his bare skin, piercing through the haze of lust that muddled his thoughts. He’d be happy if this grip never released, if they spent their days up against this wall, twisted around each other. There was only him and Mars now, and if this fire spread to burn down the whole world, so be it; just so long as they could rule over the ashes.

And over ashes Mars would take him again and again, until all that existed between them was a blaze. The embers of his fingers pressed needy to the lithe muscles of Pan’s skin. Mars knew, even before he stepped foot in the forest, that nothing but these flames licking between them would ever satisfy the father of Rome again. He let Pan know that in the bites and licks, the rough pads of his fingers against smooth skin and the grind that lighting sparks that urged Pan forward.

”Tell me what you need,” Mars demanded, breath hot against Pan. He could breathe him in, inhale the scent of himself against Pan’s skin even. A low growl rumbled in his chest, ”Let me hear you beg, Pan. What can the father of Rome provide for you?” He pressed forward, breath against Pan’s ear, voice dripping with lust like liquid flame to his trickster’s skin—low and raking gravel rumbling in his chest.

If he hadn’t been so preoccupied, Pan might’ve laughed. Mars clearly took pleasure in teasing him like this. The sweats he wore on his legs had become a prison, to which only Mars held the key. He felt the god of war grind up against him once more, as if trying to coax an answer from his lips. “Please, Mars,” he whined, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “I need you.” He’d never spoken a truer thing.

”Oh?” Mars drew back slightly to press free fingers to Pan’s jaws. He gripped hard and tilted the trickster’s head to the side, ”Has the forest been so easily tamed?” If Pan had voiced it, Mars could not deny the truth in the satisfaction of his teasing. Though, the opposite of his words were truer still than that statement alone. Pan could so easily move and bring Rome to his knees, yet Mars never let that information grace his lips.

Instead, the god of war shoved against him, feeling the fabric of Pan’s sweats scrape just right. Mars fell forward, head to Pan’s neck. ”Bedroom. Where? Now.” he barked, unable to restrain himself with the fire reaching a breaking point. The flames rose high, threatened to leave them only ashes before barely taking each other in. Mars wanted—needed to relish in this. He wanted to burn that knowledge into Pan’s skin until it caught flame.

Grinning now that he finally had what he wanted, the Grecian wasted no time in following Mars’ command and pointing towards the bedroom. As they moved, Pan buried his face into the crook of Mars’ neck, lips burning their insignia into his skin. One hand dropped down to toy with the button on his pants, the other ran through his jet black hair. Mars had claimed him and now, Pan claimed Mars, memorizing every curve that made up his body. “Είμαι δικός σου και είσαι δικός μου,” he whispered, the tongue of his homeland flowing from his lips like a song.

One hand against the small of his back and the other tight against Pan’s thighs, Mars marched forward with his eyes ablaze with unquenchable desire. Though, he tipped his head forward, lips brushing soft skin as Pan filled his lungs. A grunt left him faltering in his step, hand clenched to Pan’s thigh as the trickster’s hands grazed the button of his pants. ”You’ll know nothing but Rome on your tongue by the end of the night,” Mars growled with his mouth to Pan’s ear.

The door to Pan’s room burst open, unceremonious as the fire spread from one room to the next. That flame carried Mars to the bed, unable to let go of the god in his grasp as he fell to the folds of the sheets. His hands already came to the hem of Pan’s sweats. Yet, with the trickster nestled to the crease of his hips, a lump caught in his throat to which he swallowed down and bared his teeth in a grin. ”I’m not so certain you’re prepared for what comes next, vulpes mea,” Mars said, tugging the sweats lower to tease.

Pan’s lips curled into his infamous smirk. “Try me,” he said. His hands fell down to Mars’ wrists and pushed them further, sliding his sweats further down. Rome and Greece met, and the forest burned, a wildfire that refused to be contained, a blaze destined to cleanse the earth.

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