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by Niemand 6th November 2018, 2:46 pm

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Picking Up the Pieces

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Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 6th October 2018, 10:18 pm

As she stepped out of the Empire State Building, Persephone had to pause and stare.   Perhaps it was silly, or just ironic, but the goddess of spring had never seen snow.   She'd rarely ever ventured beyond the boundaries of Olympus or the Underworld, seeing no point in visiting a place where she could easily get lost or get into trouble, but this-this was worth the risk.   The white fluff fell in clumps from the grey sky, chilling the skin of her face when it landed on her and drew a delighted laugh from her lips.   People stared, put off by the girl standing in the street fascinated by the irritating precipitation, so she forced herself to focus.   As much as she was amazed by the stuff, she didn't need to draw unnecessary attention to herself - she was supposed to be trying to be covert.

Tugging up the hood of her parka to mimic the mortals passing her, she turned and set off down the street.  Her mortal attire made walking feel strange, perhaps because her bottoms cut so close to her body.  Her normal chitons and dresses were the polar opposite of the jeans and boots she wore now, and she wasn't sure how she felt about the change.  Mortal garments were not the most comfortable, even when they should have fit her perfectly.  Thankfully the boots were comfortable to walk in, and she didn't have to worry about falling as she strode down the street.  

She was worrying enough as it was anyway.  A month had come and gone since Hephaestus had manhandled Ares out of the council chamber to face his punishment, and she was feeling guilty for waiting so long.  She was also worried that he wouldn't want to see her, even with his promise that he would feel the same about her no matter what happened.  She was still a goddess, and he was mortal, and she couldn't help but wonder if he would resent her for not speaking out on his behalf during his trial, or for being an unfortunate reminder of what he'd lost.  

Burying her hands in the pockets of her coat to protect them from the chill, she plodded on.  She felt tiny in the crush of people passing by, but it wasn't a bad thing.  On Olympus, every action was under a microscope.  She always had to have her walls up, lest she expose something that needed to stay secret.  Here, she was just another face in the crowd - no one gave a damn about who she was, or what she was doing.  She was just another girl on her way home.  

His building wasn't hard to find.  Persephone had triple-checked before she left Olympus, so she was reasonably confident that she knew where she was going, but stranger things had happened than a goddess getting lost in an unfamiliar city.   The stout brick building appeared as she rounded a corner, and her heart lurched as she pushed the door wide and stepped into the entryway.   A panel on the wall listed names, but none of them sounded like an alias Ares would use.  An apartment on the sixth floor didn't have a name beside it, and she suspected that was where she'd find him.  

The stairs were a pain.  At the top of the fourth flight, she found herself breathing hard, and when she reached the landing of the sixth floor, she was decidedly winded.  How Ares, a mortal, managed that much climbing was beyond her, but it didn't matter now.  

Approaching the wooden door that notably lacked a nameplate, she raised her hand and hesitated.  Maybe she should give Ares more time to process and come back another day - she didn't want to prod a sore spot and upset him. On the other hand, she was already here, and she missed him.  

Three quick taps on the door later, she stepped back and pushed her hood away from her face.  The ball was in his court now, and all she could do was wait.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 6th October 2018, 11:56 pm

If Ares needed anymore proof than he did about how cruel the gods were he received in when he was deposed during the winter in New York. Winter in New York City with no money and no job. His mother had actually done him a favor that had him curious about how she'd gotten it done and wondering what he would have to eventually pay her for it. Hera had provided him with an identification and social security cards. The address on the id was of course to a post office that had him curious if Hermes hadn't knowingly or unknowingly helped. His pride had taken a hit on the fact he couldn't just throw them away since he had to have the cards for everything in this lousy mortal realm.

The first day out, he'd wandered the streets trying to figure out what he was going to do until the gods realized they'd make a mistake. He'd also toyed with the idea that had been floating about in his head for centuries but dismissed it. He'd learned how much he'd relied on his godly makeup when he learned what it was like to be cold. While he had clothes, they weren't well suited to this weather. He loathed the cold and would learn to with a passion. There hadn't been any sleep since there wasn't any place he deemed 'safe' enough. Safe of course meaning where he would be able to defend himself and not be cornered in. Ares was not going to sleep in the open. There were places he avoided knowing that those from his own realm were about.

Another new experience was hunger. He'd had a similar sensation as his brief stint as a dog, but this was different. It was painful and made his stomach churn which in turned had him clutching it as he was bent over heaving. It was disgusting and he really wondered how mortal even survived. Finally, he'd broken down and realized he'd have to find someplace to rest. Which resulted in him having to go to a pawn shop and selling what little he had that would be worth anything here. It tore at him to have to part with them since he'd had them for a very long time. Money in hand he was able to at least appease his stomach as well as get a room at a dive for a night so he could wash the grime off himself. He let his fingers doing the walking as he called listings in the newspaper then found an apartment for rent. Naturally the only one available was on the sixth floor that didn't have an elevator.

By the time he'd reached the top he'd been winded. The plus was the apartment came furnished. He dind't blame the last tenants. Who would want to haul things up and down those stairs? Once it was up here it could stay. It didn't matter that everything was a bit used. There was no bed, which he really didn't care about since he could sleep on the sofa. He could see the entirety of the square footage from where he was in the doorway. Kitchenette to the left, living room in front of him with the window to the fire escape, and to the right the bathroom and the closet bedroom. He'd be able to suffer this for week...possibly.

-----

It had been a month and he was miserable. He'd learned what the Erinyes meant by their 'illness'. He wanted to laugh bitterly at that. Oh, he hated them and their cruel sense of irony. Blowing on his cloth bound hands, Ares glared ahead as he made his way through the crowded streets. He'd gotten a job, he'd cringed at the thought of having to do manual labor without the ability to just snap his fingers and have it done. He'd needed an income though so he'd had to get a job. Which when one didn't have any previous employment history you could give, narrowed your options considerably. Once on an application he'd checked the criminal box on a lark to reason out why he'd had no job history seeing as this seemed to be a lost cause. It was curiously that job that hired him strangely enough. Ares was so sick of the whole thing that he didn't question it.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, his fingers curled around the hand warmers that were shoved in there. He'd bough a case of those beauties as soon as he discovered them! It didn't matter that he was already wearing gloves that covered his hands up to the last knuckle. Glancing at the street he walked across when he judged it was safe. He was in no hurry to get there. It wasn't home but neither had Olympus been. Shoulders hunched with his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, he trudged up the six flights of stairs only to stop when he heard someone knock on his door. Pausing, he frowned lifting his head since he never got visitors. If he needed something or ordered something he always met the person at the door or went out for it himself.

The woman, because it was definitely a woman with that figure which was confirmed when she pushed the hood back caused his eyes to widen and his heart to slam against his ribs. For a moment he thought he'd stopped breathing because it was hard to swallow and the way his chest hurt. He had to have passed out somewhere because that was the only reason he'd be seeing her in a place like this. Gaze raking her form he knew he had to be either dreaming or hallucinating. She couldn't, wouldn't be here. He was mortal now. There was a strong urge to flee, but there would be nowhere he could escape to. Sighing, knowing it was inevitable and wanting to get this over with as quickly as he could, he didn't bother to shove his own hood down as he continued towards his door. He didn't want her to get a look at him knowing how he looked with the bags under his eyes.

"You'll have to move if you want me to open the door for you, highness."
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 7th October 2018, 12:50 am

She heard someone moving in the hall behind her, but it didn't occur to look at them until they sighed and then spoke. She'd missed him calling her highness, but exhaustion overlaid any affection that might have been in his tone. He kept his head down as he approached, seeming reluctant to even look at her as he moved towards the door. There was something slightly different about how he held himself, but otherwise, he looked the same as he had on Olympus.

"Sorry," she murmured, taking another step back out of his way as he moved in front of her to fiddle with the door. "Hi."

Her brain seemed to be having issues processing speech. It probably had to do with the fact that Ares was here and he seemed to be more or less okay. She'd hoped to be more eloquent, or at least be able to offer him a smile, but she wasn't having any luck with either. The ache in her chest wasn't helping matters, especially the squeeze that came with the realization that she'd probably been right about him not wanting to see her.

It stung, but she pushed it aside. Ares had every right to be annoyed with her for turning up unannounced after a month of staying away - she could only imagine that he'd felt abandoned and frustrated with his new limitations - but she comforted herself that she was here now. She could try and help him if he'd let her, or at least keep him company. If he wanted her to, that was. Forcing her company on him would only make things worse.

"How've you been?" Of all the questions her brain could have come up with to ask, it had to pick the banal, stupid one. The answer was glaringly obvious - miserable, mortal - but the words were off of her tongue before she could stop them. She could have told him she missed him, or that she was sorry, but no - her brain decided to ask him silly questions instead.

She leaned against the wall beside the door, tilting her head to try and get a look at him under his hood as he wiggled a key into the lock and jiggled the doorknob just so until the door swung wide. She could see the unhappy set of his mouth, framed by his usual goatee that looked just the tiniest bit more ragged around the edges. His skin seemed paler than it had on Olympus, though she couldn't tell if that was from a lack of sunshine or something else.

He looked mortal, and it scared her just a little.

"I'm sorry I didn't come see you sooner," she murmured, leaning into his field of vision to get his attention. "I didn't think you'd want to see anyone from home for a while."

As weak an excuse as it was, it was the truth. Ares had every reason to loathe the Olympians, including her. They'd cast him out, and she'd taken her sweet time gathering her courage to come down. She could have been helping him, but instead, she'd been biding her time hoping that his pride would heal somewhat.

The silence stretched uncomfortably between them, and Persephone sighed.

"I can come back another time if you'd rather not see me today." It wasn't a reprimand or a self-pitying comment but a genuine offer. He was hurting, she was sure, and the last thing she wanted to do was make it worse by butting in where she wasn't wanted.




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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 7th October 2018, 1:28 am

Ares didn't say anything or move until she had stepped away to give him access to the door lock. Well, this was new even thought he shouldn't be surprised. Didn't hallucinations fall under the term 'mental illness'? Stack one more up for the Erinyes. He was really beginning to hate them as furiously as he did his father. This could be a fever dream. He'd had one of those before which had been less than fun.

He kept his eyes avoided not wanting to give in to the insanity completely because he knew if he did, he'd want it to stay. It would be better and worse than not actually having her in reality. He was confused and didn't know which he would actually prefer.

"How've you been?" Again, he refused to answer that partly because talking to yourself in a hallways was a lot different than talking to yourself in your apartment. He really didn't need his neighbors to question his sanity just yet. Putting the key in the lock he had to maneuver it 'just so' because it was an old building with lots of 'settling.' Or that was the excuse the landlord gave.

"I'm sorry I didn't come see you sooner, I didn't think you'd want to see anyone from home for a while."

That settled it. Now he knew she was a hallucination. It was winter therefore she'd be in the underworld. She would never dress as she was, and she would have known that Ares didn't think of Olympus as home. The figment likely said those words because hadn't he just been thinking he'd not wanted to rush here and thinking of how neither place was or had been home? When she moved to get into his line of vision to try and force him to acknowledge her, he shifted his own body so that she wasn't as he stepped backwards.

"I can come back another time if you'd rather not see me today."

Panic seized him and he wanted to as he had before, grab her, but he didn't. Even if she wasn't real he didn't want her to go and possibly not come back. While it had hurt to know that he wouldn't be able to see her for at least a month -another reason to chalk it up to her not being real- he'd been relieved at the same time. It was bad enough she'd seen him as a pathetic dog, of having that meltdown in Thrace, and seeking as low as he had. This shame? This, he didn't really want her to see. He hated being weak, worse he hated being weak with witnesses.

There was nothing for it. If someone asked him later what was going on, he'll think of something to blow them off. Gesturing to the open door, he stated mockingly, "You're here now, so why not step inside instead of heating up the hallway?"

He pretended he didn't see the flash of hurt as she went in and he followed shutting the door none too gently behind him and turning straight for the kitchenette. He had to keep himself busy and maybe he'd quit thinking of her. Or maybe the scent of coffee would wake him up? It did wonders when drunk in copious amounts to help keep him awake. With a task now, he went about making some asking randomly, "I can't recall if you've ever had a chance to try coffee? Its really quite bitter but it tastes better when you add some creamer in."

Pulling out an extra cup he set it on the counter and turned only to back up quickly not realizing she'd come so close. Swallowing, he tried to put more distance between them. He didn't think he'd be able to take it if he tried to touch her and find nothing there.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 7th October 2018, 1:58 am

The pieces of the puzzle didn't fit quite right. Ares hadn't sent her packing, but he'd also barely acknowledged her. He'd blocked her from meeting his gaze with his body, yet he'd invited her in despite sounding like he wanted to do anything but that.

The apartment was just a bit larger than his bedchambers on Olympus, sparsely furnished and dim. There was a tiny kitchenette in one corner, a door to what she assumed would be a bathroom in another. Thankfully it was warm, but it was bare bones, even for him. He made straight for the stove, putting a battered kettle on and pulling out mugs as he asked if she'd had coffee before.

She hadn't, though she knew many mortals seemed to regard it as the next best thing to ambrosia. It seemed innocuous enough, so she made a noise of confirmation as she shrugged out of her coat to lay it across the arm of his sofa. The room was chillier without the extra insulation, but she made do by crossing her arms across her chest and thanking her lucky stars she'd worn a long-sleeved top as she wandered across to join him in the kitchen.

"Sounds nice," she murmured, blinking in surprise when he flinched and backed up. Even with his mortal senses, it still seemed odd that she'd managed to spook him. She wasn't a ghost - her footsteps made a noise like anyone else's - and she doubted he'd been that engrossed in making coffee.

What in Tartarus was going on?

"Sorry. Didn't mean to startle you." She backed up a step; hands held up defensively near her ribs to show him that she hadn't meant any harm. It seemed his month-long sojourn in New York had been harder on him than she'd thought - she'd never seen him this jumpy or on edge before, not even during the trial.

Part of her had been hoping for a happier reunion. She'd imagined hurling herself into his arms and burying her face in his chest as she told him exactly how much she'd missed him, but she suspected such actions wouldn't go over well. She'd been wary of him at the start, but he'd never shied away from her. Had her silence during his trial hurt him that badly?

Picking up one of the mugs, she turned it over in her hands. The glazed ceramic was smooth to the touch, though a small chip was missing from the rim. Smoothing her thumb over the tiny nick, she contemplated what to say.

What does one say to the deity they love when they've had their godhood stripped away? She wondered sardonically, setting the cup down and pushing her hair over one shoulder so that it wouldn't impede her view of Ares' movements. 'I'm sorry' didn't seem to cut it, 'things will get better' sounded fake, and 'I missed you'... Well, it seemed selfish to tell him that after she'd abandoned him for a month.

"Is something wrong?" She asked after a moment of silence, watching him swallow nervously. "You seem... On edge."

Maybe she'd missed a cue, but something didn't add up. She hadn't expected Ares to be thrilled about her return, but she also hadn't expected him to be so afraid of her.

"I know I took too long, but I'm here now." A sheepish, hopeful smile crossed her lips.

What was that mortal saying? Better late than never?





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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 7th October 2018, 2:37 am

Eyes dilated, Ares tried to control the wild beating of his heart. That, he had found was another annoying thing that his father had unintentionally took from him. Wile he still could control a good deal of his reactions, they would have been subpar if he was a god still. It was pathetic that he would allow himself to get so lost that he'd not been able to hear her approach delusion or not. Watching her warily, his gaze zeroed in on her handling the cup and tried to figure out why that was wrong and why he should care. Apparently the not Persephone had realized that one shouldn't be staring at a cup for so long as if it trying to determine if it was somehow able to exist on more planes then one.

"I know I took too long, but I'm here now."

Pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes to shut out that smile, he tried to take a couple breaths and reassure himself that it wouldn't last. Unfortunately, he wasn't sure if the pang he felt was from that thought was from the fact he was beginning to not care if she was a hallucination that decided to stick around and torment him or that she would go. Letting his hands drop in defeat and still seeing her there, he gave up. Giving a sarcastic laugh he contradicted, "Oh no, you're right on time."

Things usually progressed whether for good or ill and it seemed his was the latter. First it was the hunger and cold, then the pain and the headaches. Now, he was getting this. Maybe it was too much caffeine and too little sleep? One of the mortal's he worked with said something about that as well as giving himself a heart attack. Whatever. Still, she wasn't acting as he would expect but when had she ever done so?

The kettle startled him, and he automatically went to take care of it making sure that there was still space between them. On autopilot he made the coffee muttering, "Gas exhaust? That might have done it."

He was banned from his uncle's realm so it was likely even if he suffocated on fumes, he wouldn't be allowed and this was his brain's way of compensating?
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 7th October 2018, 3:15 am

Right on time? Gas exhaust? What in the seven hells?

He still seemed startled by everything, and he kept rubbing at his eyes as though he was trying to clear his vision. He was moving around too well for the Erinyes to have taken his sight, so what was wrong with his eyes?

Maybe it's not his eyes, the little voice pointed out, drawing a line between his comment about gas exhaust and his constant nervousness. Fumes made humans woozy, didn't they? Perhaps woozy enough to start seeing things that might not be there in reality?

Did he think she was a figment of his imagination?

Everything clicked all at once. The body wasn't the only part of human anatomy that could suffer from an illness - the mind was also susceptible. Of particular note, a symptom of mental illness could be particularly vivid hallucinations that made it hard to distinguish imagination from reality. It wasn't a stretch to imagine that the Erinyes had been crafty and sentenced Ares to something that incorporated both madness and illness in equal parts.

He thought she was a sign that he was losing his mind. The thought made her chest ache as she looked at him muttering to himself as he reconstituted the dehydrated drink. He didn't deserve this - not being able to trust his mind about whether or not what he saw was real. The boy still lived to threaten Olympus, and she couldn't help but resent the sisters for cleaving so closely to the rules. They'd seen inside his head, and yet they'd remained as inflexible as ever. Aphrodite was to blame too, and Persephone felt a flash of anger as she contemplated what the blonde goddess had done to the god she'd claimed to love.

"Hey," she said softly, approaching him slowly with her hands held up in the hopes that she wouldn't startle him again. "You're okay. No exhaust fumes here."

Gingerly she laid her hand on his arm and squeezed gently, trying to show him that she was as solid and real as he was. She wasn't sure it would work - for all she knew the Erinyes had made his hallucinations unusually detailed and realistic - but she had to try. Even if he didn't believe her, he might relax enough that she could attempt to offer up a little physical comfort. The one thing she was noticing the longer she spent in the apartment, besides the near sterility of it, was the pervasive sense of loneliness. She was willing to bet he hadn't had company he genuinely enjoyed since he left Olympus, a thought that caused a wave of guilt to wash over her.

To say she'd abandoned him was an understatement, and she made a soft noise of sympathy and understanding as her fingers curled into the sleeve of his leather jacket.

"Would you believe me if I told you I was real?" She joked wanly.

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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 7th October 2018, 3:54 am

Flinching, the drink went over the rim and burned his hand through his gloves but he didn't pay that any attention more focused on the hand that was on his arm. A very solid feeling hand. That was why he hadn't wanted to touch her. What if she felt solid as she did but it wasn't real? If he woke up and this, her visiting him was all in his head? He wasn't sure if he could handle that. Feeling himself stilling he heard her ask him if he'd believe her if she told him she was real. Wasn't that what all figments asked and wanted you to believe? Reaching up to rub at his eyes tiredly he tried to work through it to humor her. Did this feel like when he'd gone with her into Tartarus because of that stupid demigod? He'd seen things then too, but it was...different? Frowning, he shoved his hood back and actually met her gaze, searching it.

"It's winter, you can't be here," he reasoned or tried to. Doubt started to take hold of him as he continued to stare at her and try to find any subtle differences. It wasn't the first time she wasn't supposed to be someplace. Hadn't she during the winter stayed with him for a day? Still, he didn't want to pull his arm from her grip. He was trying to think but it was being difficult. Perhaps he shouldn't have stayed awake the past two days. This mortal life was just so boring! It was the same thing day in and day out! The days ran and blurred together.

Why was she here? If she really had come, why would she come after knowing everything? With him being mortal? He didn't want or need her pity. But if she was real...Once again he felt that pain in his chest. If she had come...Why? It hadn't been to tell him that the gods had realized their mistake or to take him back to Olympus. She would have said home, but what he realized as he was staring at her, was that she felt like home. Or the closest he could equate to it from his limited experience and knowledge.

Something else swam through the murkiness of his thoughts as what had been niggling at him made itself known. Glancing down as if he'd expected it to be around he asked, "Where's the dog?"
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 7th October 2018, 4:21 am

Well, at least he was looking at her now. He still didn't seem to believe her that he wasn't hallucinating vividly, but at least he'd pushed back his hood and seemed to be considering the possibility.

"It's winter, you can't be here."

She made an inelegant noise in response to the statement. If that was Ares' only reason to think she was a mirage, they were going to have a much easier time than expected. She tried to obey the rules of her marriage to Hades most of the time, but lately, things had been more...flexible. She'd arrived on Olympus early during the battle with the Titans, and with Hades gone on some kind of errand for Zeus, no one would care if she spent a day or two in the mortal world. The only one who might notice was Rex, but she'd been sure to leave him plenty of water, and she'd asked the kitchen dryads to check in on him now and again. He would be fine.

The thought of the puppy gave her an idea. Technically, Rex was mortal. He would experience no ill effects if she happened to bring him to Ares to keep him company. It sounded like an excellent plan to her, but she resolved to bring it up with Ares only after she'd convinced him that he wasn't in immediate danger of becoming floridly psychotic.

His next question was one she'd already answered in her head. He wanted to know where Rex was - understandably, given that the little Doberman was notably absent and he was the one who had brought Rex to her. That had been one of the times she'd disobeyed and spent time on Olympus during the winter, and she wouldn't have changed it for the world.

"Rex is still in the Underworld. The kitchen dryads are keeping an eye on him. I thought he'd attract too much attention, especially if he got excited and started barking." She was still attempting to be covert about her escape from the Underworld after all. The rules might not have been as rigid as they once were, but she did not doubt that there would be trouble if anyone found out that she'd abandoned her post to come and visit the exiled god of war in New York.

"You and I both know that I couldn't care less about where I am or am not supposed to be when it comes to you." They'd gone into Tartarus together, and she'd spent time in his quarters regardless of the season. As long as they were careful, nobody seemed to pay any mind, which was fine by her.

"You also know that there's nobody but me, Rex, and the dryads in the palace right now, so it really doesn't matter where I go." Releasing his sleeve, she slid her hand down to lace her fingers with his gloved ones. He'd spilled coffee on himself she noted absently, feeling the heat of the liquid that still clung to the knit of his gloves, but she put the majority of her focus into watching his expression.

"I thought we could both use some company."




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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 7th October 2018, 2:33 pm

She was talking and it was making sense, but there was something wrong he just couldn't place his finger on it because his mind wouldn't focus. He'd found he was beginning to have that issue a lot which caused uneasiness to grow in him each time he became aware of the fact. Being mortal this time around was vastly different then it had been the first time. The only thing he could attribute it to was that the last time he'd didn't have another two centuries worth of memories crammed into a mortal brain. Mortals weren't meant to hold that much information and his memories were blurred at the edges which had caused him to wonder if his father hadn't been able to talk Mnemosyne around to his ways. Last time he hadn't been cursed by the Erinyes either.

"You also know that there's nobody but me, Rex, and the dryads in the palace right now, so it really doesn't matter where I go."

That was true. When he'd been a dog, his uncle wasn't home which had been odd. Glancing down at her hand, he felt the pressure of it in his but he couldn't feel her and that troubled him. It wasn't because of the burn, he'd felt the scalding liquid and knew he'd have a red patch there that would fade later. No, he couldn't feel her skin on his because there was a barrier there.

"I thought we could both use some company."

Anger had gotten him this far. Anger at the gods, the Erinyes, and himself. Knowing Zeus was stubborn he'd allotted himself for a month that his father would make him suffer at the most. It wasn't as if there were countless sieges, battles, and wars that needed overseeing as there had in the past with constant takeovers. As the days dragged on, Ares was beginning to doubt himself that they would see reason as it had never been their strong suit. He'd thought that he would get his godhood back and that he'd be able to see Persephone again and put this miserable mortal experience behind him. That he would have to wait until then to find out what the fallout of what he'd done would be when she confronted him about it.

Jerking his hand out of her hold, he held up his hands in 'wait' motion as he tried to get his tired mind to function. If she was going to try and pull this, then he should just be completely honest with her shouldn't he? Allow her to rage at him now and leave. Whether this was his mind trying to cope or not, he didn't care anymore. If he spoke her name, maybe she'd hear him anyway? "I'm guilty, Persephone. I did what they accused me of."

But, he hadn't been as cruel when taking the boy's godhood, had he? Ares was sure he'd tried to make it painless. It hadn't been until he'd seen how different the brat was and how much he'd be a problem that he'd started to try and actively kill him. It hadn't been like his mother who would immediately try and persecute his half siblings because of his father's infidelity. In the end, it didn't matter though since he had purposely tried to dispose of the newest god born to them in eons.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 7th October 2018, 4:24 pm

She didn't protest when Ares jerked his hand out of hers and held it up to forestall her. A soft exhale was all she allowed herself before she forced her disappointment down. She'd missed him, but she refused to push him if he needed time.

She waited, watching his brain trying to process everything that was happening. It almost seemed to be hurting him, which in turn made her chest ache just that much more. She wanted to help, but it seemed like she was making things more complicated. It wasn't fair, not when he was going through so much, but she also couldn't bring herself to leave. Instead, she contented herself with backing up to lean against the cabinets - close, but not crowding him.

"I'm guilty, Persephone. I did what they accused me of."

This time her sigh was audible as she folded her arms across her chest, tucking her hands under her arms to keep them warm. Ares thought she didn't know? Or was he trying to drive her away with the thought of his past actions? She'd been there at his trial; she knew what he'd done, and yet here she was.

"Ares," she began, half laughing at his refusal to believe that she could genuinely want to be anywhere near him despite everything. "I know."

They'd argued about it before he'd run off to Thrace, and even then she'd understood his reasoning. She held nothing against Aphrodite's son - he hardly had a say in his parentage - but she knew that Zeus would misuse the boy to punish every other resident of Olympus. It was a thorough mess, and yet she and Ares seemed to be the only ones who cared. He'd gone too far in trying to kill the boy, and she wasn't sure how she felt about his bloodthirstiness in that regard, but as much as it concerned her, it made sense somehow. She couldn't explain it adequately - there weren't words for the way that what he'd done before didn't affect what she felt for him now. She was worried about him, and neither of them was able to go back in time to change the past.

"You told me your feelings wouldn't change," she reminded him, looking up as she spoke. "Did you think mine would?"

She cared about him. Not his mask, or the diversions he put up to keep himself safe. She knew full well that he was the God of War - violence and bloodlust were in his nature, but they weren't all he was. He was equally capable of good - kindness, gentleness, loyalty, selflessness - as he was of bloody deeds. And for all he imagined himself a villain, he was likely the only man on Olympus who could honestly claim he'd never forced his lovers.

"I don't know if I should be offended that you think I'd believe the brush the paint you with, or if I ought to be amused." She untucked one arm to run her fingers through her curls, unsure of how to make him understand that she wasn't just blindly chasing after him. She was fully aware of who he was and what he'd done, and it didn't matter.






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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 8th October 2018, 12:11 am

Warily he watched the goddess, bracing himself when she sighed and crossed her arms. It was strange to not only hear his name which he'd not heard in the past month, but hearing it from her. Why would she be so cavalier about something that would normally get upset about? Hearing the words gave to assure her that she wasn't just an arbitrary decision and that he was serious about how he felt given back to him, had him cringe inwardly. When asked if he thought her feelings would change, he had to admit shamefully that yes, he thought they might have.  

"I don't know if I should be offended that you think I'd believe the brush they paint you with, or if I ought to be amused."

"Why not both? Worked well for me," came his automatic response without any feeling, too tired to put forth much effort ignoring the voice that was stating that she had believed them once upon a time. Hadn't that been her excuse to avoid and be rid of him as quick as she could?

Coming the conclusion that she wouldn't be leaving any time soon hallucination or not, he unzipped his jacket as he turned back into the living room to toss his jacket uncaring on the newspaper covered coffee table. The gloves came off next to be put on the window sill to get the heat from the radiator. That done, he crossed his arms to face Persephone unsure what to say or do. He'd never been in this situation before nor had ever wanted to be. She hadn't come to gloat, that he knew. She may have said she came for the company but he knew he wasn't the best at that either especially now. He was a pathetic mortal!

It pained him to know that she was so close yet he daren't  touch even if everything in him yearned to do so. Stubbornly he kept his arms locked as he stayed where he was only allowing himself to gaze at her. He'd been right when he'd compared her to an addictive poison that ran through him. It was both a relief as well as painful to be in her presence. It had taken him a month to get over how low he'd fallen and now she'd come and he'd have to try and squash those desires once again and try to keep from thirsting for what he couldn't have.

"What do you want?" He finally ventured even though what he'd really wanted to ask her was something entirely different.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 8th October 2018, 1:57 am

"Why not both? Worked well for me."

She laughed at his quip, but the accompanying emotion was anything but amusement. There was a sharp defensiveness to his posture and his words, and the longer she stood here listening to it, the more she wondered if he'd asked her in on instinct rather than a genuine desire to see her.

She understood. She'd stayed away for too long, and Ares was clearly not having the best time as a mortal. He'd been so proud on Olympus, and she could only imagine that being forced to go through the motions of mortal existence was a blow to his ego. By the same token, however, she thought he'd be happy to have a visitor - some company that wasn't related to his job or his neighbours.

She mulled over what to say to him as he shrugged out of his leather jacket, dropping it with a surprisingly heavy noise on the coffee table. The gloves went next, and she was surprised to note the bruises and cuts on his knuckles. She supposed they must have come from whatever employment he'd managed to find, but she hadn't realized mortal work could be so dangerous. He looked like he'd been in a bar fight every night since he'd arrived.

Between the cuts on his hands, the shadows under his eyes, and the constant tension in his posture, it wasn't hard to see the strain that his new way of living placed on him. Ares was War - no doubt he'd seen some hard situations - but she'd never seen him look so fragile and defensive. Part of her wanted to sit him down and force him to let her take care of him for a change, while the rest of her wondered if she ought to leave him be for a while longer. The longer she stayed, the more aggravated he seemed to get.

"What do you want?"

She laughed again, and the sound was equally humourless. She'd thought that her reasons for being in his apartment would be glaringly obvious, but somehow he was ignorant to them - willfully or otherwise.

Even after everything that had transpired between them in his bedchambers all those months ago, he still seemed to think she had an agenda. For whatever reason, he could never seem to accept that she might genuinely enjoy his company, or be concerned for his wellbeing after a (presumably traumatic) event.

"I missed you. I wanted to see you." She explained, not bothering to hide her stung tone. "If you didn't want to see me, Ares, you could have told me at the door, and I would have left you be."

She'd thought that their conversation in his bathtub would put an end to confrontations like this; him questioning her every intention lest she turn and bite him like some venomous snake. They'd walked in Tartarus together, and yet he still couldn't quite believe that she didn't mean him harm.

"Is it really that hard to believe that I'd be worried about you?"









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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 8th October 2018, 10:21 am

The sound caused him to flinch internally. A laugh such as that was not meant to come from someone like her. It felt like he'd been stabbed when she spoke and he wanted to look away but feared to. When he'd seen her at his door he hadn't known what to think. It was both harder and easier to breathe. The thought of her leaving caused a bit of panic to flare before he could stop it. If she left, he did believe he'd finally shatter after everything.

"Is it really that hard to believe that I'd be worried about you?"

Why did it have to be another question? There was some part of his mind that hadn't shut down yet that said that wasn't really meant as a question per se. Yes, he did find the concept of someone genuinely worrying or being concerned about him strange. The last person to claim that they loved him had done this to him!

It was just too difficult to try and think. Ares had come to learn he could go thirty six hours without sleep naturally but anything beyond that needed stimulants to stay awake. He'd managed near three days before his body rebelled and crashed. He paid for it by not being to have a clear thought process, but it had seemed like a plus at the time.

"Don't." The one word that came out of his mouth gave him pause. He wasn't sure what he was trying to say. Don't be worried about him? Don't go? Don't come back? There was just one thing he did know. "I don't want to argue."

Not with her and not now. Even if it seemed that was what they did best or resulted to any time they were together.

He'd even banked his anger since it didn't help when he felt like a trapped animal with this existance. Raging hadn't helped when he'd come to fully realize the predicament he was in.

He would have offered a seat but knew that if he himself sat, he likely wouldn't be getting up anytime soon. Uncrossing his arms he figured he had nothing else to lose, yet it still just about broke him to confess, "I don't know what to do."
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 8th October 2018, 3:12 pm

"Don't."

Don't what? Ask questions? Speak? Go? Stay? She wasn't sure what he wanted, but his body language seemed to suggest anything but anger or aggression. His arms uncrossed, and she forced her own to do the same as she exhaled slowly. Arguing was the exact opposite of what she'd come down here to do, and it seemed that they agreed that fighting wouldn't help anything.

As the tension in the room ebbed, she realized just how tired he looked. The circles under his eyes were alarmingly dark, and she wondered if he'd been sleeping at all since his departure from Olympus. The gods didn't need to sleep, and she suspected that getting into the habit of it hadn't been easy for him.

"I don't know what to do."

The words rang with strain, and she knew such a confession - weakness in his eyes - would be taking a toll on him. It'd been a long time since he'd been anything but fully capable - physically and mentally - and she knew he must be hating every second that he wasn't his usual, 'strong' self. She doubted the lack of sleep was helping - she could only imagine that trying to perform at a high level when your body was exhausted was nearly impossible.

"Ares," she murmured, shifting herself off of the counter and padding across to him. "You don't have to."

She reached for his hand again, hesitating as she offered him an apologetic smile. She couldn't think of another way to comfort him; words didn't seem to have much of an effect, which their old standby - physical contact. She'd never understood how the two of them - beings with centuries of living behind and ahead of them - could struggle so much with language and communicate so effectively with a touch.

She had no complaints of course - his touches were addictive, and it was nice to have a way of making one another understand that a word couldn't twist, but sometimes it was daunting to try and reach for him when she wasn't sure if he was willing to receive her touch.

"Let someone else figure it out, just this once." That wouldn't be easy for him either, but it would be better than leaving him to beat his head against a problem he wasn't in any condition to solve. His punishment was mortality and illness - a sentence that was plenty severe without the added burden of trying to plead his own case for clemency.

"Trust me; we'll figure out a way to get you back to Olympus." She wouldn't lie to him - she was determined to find a way to get him back on the mountain - but it was going to take time. Talking to her husband, or even Zeus, to bring them around was going to be slow going. Push too hard and they'd ignore her on principle, but if she didn't put enough pressure on them, they'd forget.





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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 8th October 2018, 6:12 pm

Ares wasn't used to confining in people or letting others in be it on his emotions, agendas, or thoughts. That way was leaving yourself open to betrayal, manipulation, and setting yourself up for disappointment. The only person he'd made an exception for was Persephone herself. It didn't get easier nor did it come natural. So when she'd said he didn't have to know what to do, he initially wanted to lash out but refrained. He had always had to know what to do in order to if not come out on top, at least to survive. It took everything he had not to step back when she came towards him and reached for his hand. Hadn't he already all but admitted that he would take whatever she decided to give?

How sad was it that as soon as they were skin to skin again, his hand in hers, that he felt as if a piece of him had been restored? All doubt fled his mind that it was all just wishful thinking. She had actually come from the Underworld to visit him. A warmth he hadn't felt in over a month started in his chest. The anger at the thought that he couldn't take care of himself and needed someone to check up on him never surfaced.

"Trust me; we'll figure out a way to get you back to Olympus."

Ares did trust her, as much as he was able to give or trust anyone. It wasn't Olympus that he wanted or missed. Rather than answer her verbally, he stepped closer to erase the distance between them as dropped her hand so he enveloped her in his arms, pulling her as close as he could. Breathing in the scent that he missed and soaking up the presences that he'd been craving but had been lacking. If this was a dream, he didn't want to wake from it. It was the first pleasant one he'd had in the past month of his exile. Hope that he hadn't allowed himself to feel had been rekindled now that he had some physical proof that he really wasn't alone.

Wanting company usually only meant a visit of a few hours, that was much too short for him. It would break him either way when she did leave, but he'd rather it be later. All tension drained from him now that he was home. It gave him the courage to ask, "Stay with me?" He wasn't sure if he was asking just for today, or if he meant longer. He did know he would take what he could get and try to savor every last second.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 8th October 2018, 10:48 pm

For a split second, she wondered if she'd gotten it wrong, and he did want her to go, but then he let his fingers slot in between hers, and things were okay again.  Better than okay, if she was honest, because she'd missed this so much - the slight roughness of his calluses against the palm of her hand, the heat that seemed to radiate off of his body in waves even when he was the one who was cold.  She'd tried to make do without it, and she'd hated every minute of it.

She didn't bother to try and hide the sigh of contented relief that slipped through her lips as he drew her into his chest and held her there.  Her arms wrapped around him, hands fisting in the material of his sweatshirt as she breathed in his familiar smoky scent and knew that, for the moment, things would be okay.  

"Stay with me?" He asked as she snuggled into the warm material that covered his chest.   She wished she could promise that she'd stay until they found a way to bring him home, but that just wasn't feasible.  She had work to do on Olympus on his behalf, not to mention having to check in on the Underworld from time to time, but that didn't mean she couldn't take a vacation.  

"I'll stay as long as I can," she murmured, propping her chin on his sternum to look up at him with a half-smile.   "Even if I do have to go, I'll come back."

The compromise was as unsatisfying as ever, especially when all she wanted to do was wrap herself around him and hold on until this messy, awful situation got sorted out.  Still, the sooner she sucked it up and got to work on bringing him home, the sooner they'd have more time to spend in each other's company.   The thought of escaping with him to his chambers - or hers - on Olympus for a few days without anything hanging over them or immediately threatening them made the bitter pill of short visits easier to swallow.

"You're stuck with me, you know." Her half smile turned into a full on grin as she relaxed into his touch.  

She hadn't realized how on-edge she felt until she began to relax into him.  All the tension she'd been holding in her body began to melt away, and a sense of tranquillity began to seep through her, mingling with the warm affection that had taken up residence in the center of her chest.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 8th October 2018, 11:35 pm

At her promise that she would come back, Ares felt as if he could breathe easier knowing she didn't make promises lightly. A bittersweet feeling accompanied it, but he would accept it. It seemed that there would forever be one thing or another that would stand in their way. Timing, circumstance, even themselves; all seemed to play a part in it. Despite it all though, they still worked through it and he supposed that said something about how stubborn they were if nothing else. A laugh was pulled from him at her informing him that he was stuck with her. He wouldn't have it any other way. If he'd had his say she would have been his a very long time ago. The question he never asked himself because he really didn't want to know the answer to was if she and her mother by default had accepted his proposal, would they have just ended up like his parents after all this time?

Gazing into her eyes, he knew that all he cared about was now. She had made her own decision and was here willingly. Hesitantly, he reached up to finger a lock of her hair before pushing it back in favor of cupping her cheek. She still looked as beautiful as ever. Running his thumb along her cheekbone, he told her so. He'd missed being able to tell her, finding comments and ways to try and make her blush as well as letting what he truly thought out. Even with her in his arms again, and her assurances, Ares paused a moment searching her gaze, seeing no rejection, dipped his head down to softly take her lips with his.

Soon, his hand went to the back of her neck as he grew a bit more confident and became a bit more aggressive. This was how they communicated best. So that was what he did pouring everything into her that he could. His misery at being mortal, how much he'd missed and craved her presence, his elation at her being here, his desire for her, and more than anything, how much he still loved her. Too soon, he had to pull away. That was another thing to curse about being mortal. It seemed he needed to breathe a bit more than when he was a god. Because he'd never actually said it aloud, and he didn't know if he'd have the courage to do so, and it likely helped that he was sleep deprived that he admitted, "I love you."
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 9th October 2018, 12:34 am

She'd never understood his fascination with her blushes. He always seemed to delight in the fact that he could get a rise out of her, especially with compliments and flattery. If anyone ever asked her, she would swear up and down that he did it solely because he knew she would blush, but she was hardly in a position to complain. If rosy cheeks were the price for his compliments, she'd pay it happily a thousand times over.

She huffed a laugh, leaning into his hand while his thumb traced the curve of her cheek just below her eye. The heat of her flush made his touch even warmer, and she felt the fine hairs on her arms stand up as her body registered the temperature difference between his hand and the air around them. She looked up, intending to tease him about his silver tongue and ability to give her goosebumps, only for him to lean in and press a soft kiss to her lips. All thoughts of witticisms were promptly forgotten, as she made a noise of approval and responded with several months' worth of pent-up enthusiasm.

His hand cupped the back of her neck, preventing her from withdrawing, and she responded in kind by stretching up on her toes and draping her arms over his shoulders. Her hands found purchase gripping the neckline of his sweatshirt, and as he poured all of his unspoken thoughts and feelings into the kiss, so did she.

Worry and fear on his behalf, loneliness, desire, and affection all poured out of her like a river. She'd been afraid for him during the trial, wishing that she could have helped somehow, and she'd never really gotten a chance to express it to him. She wasted no time, releasing his hoodie to wind her fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck.

He'd cut his hair too, she noticed. His dark curls were considerably shorter, and while she adored them at their longer length, she could understand the need to shorten them. Perhaps they'd been unruly, or just too much of a reminder of his life on Olympus when he'd first arrived here, but she wouldn't pry. He had his reasons, and if he felt the need to explain, he would.

For once, he was the one that broke the kiss to breathe. Perhaps Persephone's lungs were smaller than his, or he just knew which so-called buttons to push to take her breath away, but she didn't mind the change in the slightest. She'd just propped her chin on his chest again, looking up at him and revelling in her affection for him when he had to go and up the stakes.

"I love you."

If she'd thought her cheeks were warm before, they were practically on fire now. She half huffed, half choked on a laugh as she tucked her chin and buried her face in the front of his sweatshirt. They'd said similar things before, but somehow the surprise and pleasure that came from hearing the words spoken aloud hadn't worn off. Of course, they'd never said those three specific words, so she suspected that might be the reason she was so flustered.

It took her a minute to find her tongue, but eventually, she managed to corral her whirling thoughts into a coherent sentence and coax that sentence off of her tongue.

"I love you too," she managed, laughing at her giddy shyness. She felt just the tiniest bit ridiculous - blushing and stammering like a mortal schoolgirl with a crush - but she supposed it wasn't a bad thing. She'd never really gotten a chance to feel like this without interference from outside parties, and she was grateful that she'd gotten to experience it at all, no matter how many centuries it had taken to find it.

"Stop being so charming," she pretended to scold him with a grin. "You're making coherent sentences far too difficult."









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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 9th October 2018, 1:59 am

The reaction that Ares received from his proclamation amused him and caused his eyes to light up with the warmth they'd been lacking since he'd lost his godhood. It wasn't often he was able to tongue tie her by words alone. Never would he have conceived of applying the term 'adorable' to anything let alone think the word, but he found that specific one seemed to encompass and fit the goddess' antics. Her happiness was contagious and he found himself returning her smile with a fond one of his own. It grew when she returned his sentiment by saying the words as well. While he'd known that she felt the same, had confirmed it twice now before actually saying them aloud, it still caused him to feel lighter than he'd been. When he spoke he hadn't been looking for her to return them right away if at all. Nor had he planned on pushing her to consider saying them either.

"Stop being so charming. You're making coherent sentences far too difficult."

A brief chuckle escaped as he teased, "Is that all it takes?"

It was incredible how she was able to affect his moods to such a degree. She'd always had that ability as far as he could recall. Before they'd started to dance around each other when he would purposely aggravate her, he'd thought having negative attention from her was better than the alternative. Then their dynamic had changed when she'd decided to join in and give back as good as Ares would dish it. That had also been one of the reasons he'd not been able to walk away and had to keep pushing.

"Now I know what I've been doing wrong all these years." He knew it wasn't the words themselves. Ares could have brought her flowers and spouted the same drivel Apollo did and she would have turned him down flat. It was the sincerity. That was what he'd picked up on and come to understand after their night in his room. That was why she had finally believed and accepted what he'd said at face value and not as some form of flowery flattery.

Unwinding her arms from his neck, Ares took her hand and led her to the couch. He didn't trust himself just yet not to collapse, but he'd rather not do it on the floor. The last time he woke up kissing wood flooring it hadn't been comfortable and he had a day full of pain for that one. Worrying her was not something he wanted to do nor did he want her to realize just yet to what extent he'd been cursed. His pride had been continually shredded while he'd been mortal and he didn't think he could stand another hit quite so soon especially in front of Persephone.

Once settled with his back against the arm of the sofa, Persephone sitting with her back against his chest and his arms around her waist, he felt very comfortable. Because he'd missed her voice, he was curious, and he hoped to keep the light mood, he inquired, "How's Rex? Destroyed any innocent pillows?"
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 9th October 2018, 5:33 pm

"Is that all it takes? Now I know what I've been doing wrong all these years."

Ares' question wasn't fair. Hearing those three little words from him made this an exceptional circumstance. Of course, if he had said that particular phrase to her a few centuries prior, then perhaps she would have been used to it by now. Which wasn't to say it would have gotten old; she didn't think she would ever have tired of him verbally confirming how he felt, even if he'd started earlier.

"Maybe," she mumbled, the effect of her grumbling spoiled by the grin that she couldn't entirely suppress. It was entirely Ares' fault that she was so flustered, but she couldn't bring herself to complain. She couldn't remember the last time that anyone else had made her feel this deliriously happy, and she had no intention of wasting time overthinking or wondering what might have been.

They transitioned to the couch, and she found herself tucked against his chest with his arms around her waist. The warmth that surrounded her, as a result, was nothing short of divine. Now, if she could spend the winter in that very spot, she suspected that she might not even mind being mortal. So long as she got to stay with him, she had a hard time imagining being unhappy. Letting her head fall back against his shoulder, she turned her head to press a light kiss to the spot where his jaw joined his neck.

"No, not yet," she laughed, settling back against him and letting her hands rest atop his around her waist. "I think you took care of the only offensive pillow in my collection anyway."

"He does like his sticks, though," she joked, feeling his warmth soaking through her shirt. "If he keeps bringing them back, he's going to have a collection of his own soon."

The only response from the god of war was a soft hum of acknowledgement. She arched an eyebrow, leaning back and twisting to try and see why Ares was so suddenly quiet.

His face was entirely slack, eyes shut and muscles relaxed under the weight of his exhaustion. The bruise-purple shadows under his eyes seemed even darker now, and suddenly his silence made sense.

"About time you got some sleep," she murmured, rolling over slightly so that she could touch his cheek fondly. Unwilling to leave, she tucked her cheek into the crook of his neck and let her eyes close. If he was going to rest, she might as well do the same.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 9th October 2018, 7:51 pm

The sound of her voice along with her warmth and the fact that he felt content and secure had Ares more relaxed to give in and not fight the fatigue he'd been trying to keep at bay. It lulled him to sleep before he'd even realized his eyes had shut between one blink and the next. As a god he'd hardly dreamed but that didn't hold true as a mortal. Mostly, he didn't dream but when he did they were more nightmares than anything. Another reason he put off sleeping as long as he could until it was inevitable and by then he'd be so exhausted that he wouldn't dream. The exception to that seemed to be the one time he'd caught a fever. Having never been subjected to such a thing, he'd be ill prepared to handle it but eventually figured out what he was supposed to do.

An uncomfortable pressure was what finally woke him pulling him from the sleep his body had been in desperate need of. Habit had him shifting to try and get more comfortable before his half awake mind and senses informed him that he wasn't alone. There was a pressure and warmth of a body pressed against his that had him stilling until his bleary gaze saw the familiar head of curls. Wonder rose up in him that he hadn't dreamt coming home to find Persephone at his door along with the fact she chose to stay. A soft smile played about his lips never having thought he'd be able to experience waking with her by his side. Ares hadn't realized that he'd refused to let go of her as he slept, subconsciously wanting to reassure himself that he'd not been hallucinating.

"You're real," he managed to get out and wanted to kick himself for how relieved and grateful he sounded. Hadn't he already confirmed that last night? She'd promised to stay and she had. Embarrassment had him want to look away for saying anything at all as well as the fact that he realized that she had stayed. Glancing out the window he saw that it was dark, so it was either very late or really early. She'd stayed with him for hours while he'd slept. Something wanted him to apologize for that fact but the words wouldn't get past his throat as another part of him got irritated that he thought he should apologize.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 9th October 2018, 9:03 pm

Deities didn't usually sleep unless they were injured or very, very bored, so Persephone contented herself with drifting in and out of consciousness in time to the steady beat of Ares' pulse. She loved every second of it, just being with him without having to worry about anything. No interruptions, no plots and plans, and no impending deadlines. He was warm, and she could have laid there for hours longer just listening to the rhythm of his heart and lungs working in tandem.

He stirred, beginning to roll to make himself more comfortable, and she found herself clinging to him until he cracked one eye open and stilled. A slow smile spread across his lips, and she answered with one of her own.

"You're real."

She laughed sleepily, lifting one arm to push at her curls where they'd fallen into her eyes and over his shoulder, partially blocking her view of him. It seemed he'd dropped back into his confusion over whether or not he'd imagined her, but she supposed it was understandable. He'd been asleep for several hours - they both had - though the dark circles under his eyes suggested that he needed several more.

"And you're still exhausted," she replied, relaxing her grip on his shoulder and using her thumb to try and rub some tension out of the muscle.

He must have held off as long as he could to force himself into the deepest, most exhausted sleep he could, but mortal bodies didn't quite recover like divine ones. It would take longer for him to heal fully, and Persephone was half tempted to put a condition on her continued presence in his apartment - he would rest and take proper care of himself, or she'd find a way to tie him down and do it for him.

She suspected it wouldn't come to that, given how heavy his eyes still looked, but she was fully prepared to do it if she had to. He could hardly hold himself to his old standards - not when his physical condition had changed so much - but if he wanted to be 'strong,' then he was going to have to suck it up and deal with the less-pleasant parts of maintaining a mortal body, sleeping included.

"When was the last time you slept, Ares?" She asked, sitting up slightly so that she could look at him properly. She hoped he wouldn't mistake the concern in her tone for chiding; she wasn't here to scold him, but she couldn't help but worry for him just a little bit. The fates hadn't been kind to him lately, and it seemed to be taking a toll.

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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 9th October 2018, 9:44 pm

There was no need to reply to the truthfulness of the statement about how burnt out he was. Nor did he tell her that he now lived in a perpetual state or near enough of sleep deprivation. One of the reasons his mind had trouble with her sudden appearance when he'd come back to the apartment to find her there. From the 'clarity' he had at the moment, he knew that he'd slept for at least four hours. A slight shiver went through him when she moved, and he missed her body heat but eyed her debating lying or not before a hint of his old self had him replying, "About four hours ago give or take."

That wasn't the answer she wanted nor was looking for and he knew it, but he wasn't going to tell her more than he had to at this juncture. Technically he wasn't lying either so she couldn't call him on that. If he had to, he'd resort to his old ways of finding loopholes or omittance rather than outright lie to her. Ares was hoping she wouldn't push him. He would rather not get into the particulars of why he did or did not sleep.

"There's a more pressing question that needs to be answered," he stated seriously for all of two seconds before he couldn't hold it and mischievousness replaced it. "Where did you get your clothes? I thought you'd not been to the mortal realm before?"

It was a shame he'd been too tired to fully appreciate her wardrobe choice. As much as she'd been surprised at his garb when he'd come back with her puppy, he was sure if he'd been more with it, he would have made a fool of himself ogling her. As it was now, he couldn't help but tease her as she had him. He was genuinely curious though. Not that he was complaining. "I still prefer my color on you," he murmured. While he thought she looked lovely in any shade there was, he had particular fondness now for her in a certain shade.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 9th October 2018, 10:13 pm

At least Ares was feeling somewhat better. It seemed he had enough energy to give her cheeky answers now, which resulted in a roll of her eyes though she didn't press him on the matter. She'd bring it up again later, but for now, it seemed that he was too awake to go back to sleep.

He was awake enough to register the fact that she wasn't shivering away in a chiffon gown but dressed in weather-appropriate mortal attire - jeans, a long-sleeved blouse, socks, and so on. The change seemed to delight him, or at least amuse him, judging by the mischievous spark in his eyes as he asked her about where she'd gotten the clothes.

"I did a little research," she replied blithely, deliberately underplaying the extent that she'd picked Hermes' brain about the details of mortal attire. Her sudden interest in modern fashion had amused him, but he'd been more than happy to explain the finer points to her. What he hadn't been able to explain was the blasted undergarments - the ones with the wire that was digging into her ribs with a vengeance - but he'd assured her going without them would be a poor choice.

Hermes, you trickster, she thought grumpily, reaching under her ribs to pull the offending garment away from her skin and reposition it. The change resulted in momentary relief that ended with the thing sliding back into place when she laughed. At least it's not one of those corset contraptions. Perhaps I ought to stick him in one someday - see how he likes it.

"I think I do too," she replied drily, rolling back over so that his chest supported her back again. "I'm not sure how I feel about the jeans. They're very...snug."

Another understatement. Flowing chiffon was much, much more forgiving than denim would ever be, and quite frankly Persephone felt a little self-conscious without more material to hide behind. She knew Ares wouldn't have any complaints, which was the one upside, but she longed to feel less like a snake caught halfway through shedding its too-small skin.

A snap of her fingers rectified the problem of colour, changing her deep teal shirt to the pale lilac colour to which he was referring. She made an amused noise, leaning back to rest her head on his shoulder and speak into his ear. "Better?"


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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 9th October 2018, 10:55 pm

At her comment about research, he arched a brow and gave an amused hum. At her less then subtle movements, Ares knew what she was doing and fought to keep from laughing. That was something he'd never understood when it had been invented; why women subjected themselves to such ludicrous pieces of cloth. The things mortals did for 'fashion'. For Persephone to be wearing such a thing amused him quite a bit more than he was sure it was supposed to.

"I'm not sure how I feel about the jeans. They're very... snug ."

Ares rather liked her jeans from what he could recall of them and what he could see from his position. He was going to open his mouth to tell her so which would likely end up in another eye roll when she'd changed the color of her shirt. For a brief moment anger, envy, and longing spiked in him before it disappeared. She hadn't done that to spite him or to rub it in, it was an unconscious habit and he was sure that she'd changed the color to try and please him. Hadn't he got frustrated when he'd realized that he wasn't able to just wave his hand or change things with a snap of the fingers? Walking everywhere was also a hassle that he despised.

The shiver that went through him at her voice in his ear had him decide that pay pack was fair play. Raising a hand he moved her hair aside so he was able to place a kiss at her throat. The other slid under her shirt so he could touch the skin. He wasn't sure why, but he preferred not having any barriers between them much like when he'd had to have her hand in his without the interference of the gloves. "Much," he purred back in her ear answering her question.

Hoping that he wouldn't get slapped for it, Ares shifted to make a small gap between them. Using the hand he'd brushed her hair with, he went down her back to where the bra was and with a few twists, had the thing undone. If she really wanted to wear the thing he would apologize, but she didn't have to wear it if she didn't want to while here. Of course she'd might feel different outside the apartment. "Better?" he asked with just a hint of amusement.
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 10th October 2018, 12:03 am

The instant after she snapped her fingers, Persephone wished she'd thought just a little harder before acting on her impulse.  Ares tensed behind her, and she cursed herself for her thoughtlessness.  How foolish was she, assuming that he wouldn't mind her casual use of powers he no longer held and likely missed?  She was half tempted to apologize, but it seemed he'd let the matter drop when his hand slipped under the hem of her shirt.  A soft gasping laugh escaped her as the warmth of his hand and the feeling of his lips on her throat sent a thrill through her.  

"Much."  

The word rumbled in his chest, making her laugh as another shiver darted up her spine.   He'd never been one to play fair, and it seemed his mortality hadn't changed that fact.   In fairness, she didn't mind at all when he played by his own rules, even if he did have an uncanny ability to reduce her grasp of most languages to monosyllabic gasps and sighs.  

She arched an eyebrow as his other hand slid down between her shoulder blades and began to fiddle with the clasp of the ridiculous undergarments.  He'd noticed her adjusting the silly thing and was attempting to help it seemed because after a few twists the fasteners released and the unpleasant sensation of being impaled faded.   She sighed in relief, arching into the hand that rested on her abdomen as she stretched languidly.  

"Better?"

"Much," she answered, the word trailing off into a contented hum as the warmth of his palm spread over her skin.   Part of her was tempted to tease him about his evident skill in undoing mortal undergarments, but after her earlier slip, she didn't want to risk pushing him too far and spoiling the moment.  

"It seems my research was just a touch too thorough," she drawled, eyes closing as she settled back against him after having sat up slightly to give him room to undo the troublesome impediment.  "My knight in shining armour, saving me from being strangled by a bit of fabric run through with wires."

Mortal women must have ribs made of steel, she thought.  Otherwise, they'd be punched full of holes by the stupid things.  
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 10th October 2018, 1:00 am

Her comment coupled with earlier had the former god's shoulders and torso shaking with restrained laughter until he could no longer keep it in. Unbridled laughter erupted from him for a solid minute before it petered out. While he was sure she hadn't said such a thing to amuse him, he found it immensely entertaining. In his fit of laughter he'd hugged her close dropping his head. Lips quirking he concurred, "Perhaps just a bit overzealous."

Laughter never came natural to him; not unless there was an undertone to it. Persephone knew how to draw honest emotions from him and he found that while it still felt a bit disconcerting, he actually enjoyed it. She seemed to have a way that would pull out emotions and feelings he would never think himself capable of let alone reciprocating. It was just one of the many things on an ever increasing list of why he found her captivating.

Eyes traveling what he could see of her body from this perspective, he had to wonder who she had spied upon and where to get the idea that this was the ideal clothing choice for roaming the mortal world in. The boots seemed to be the only sensible choice she'd picked. Although... "You look very fetching in those pants."

While he did enjoy the view, he would much prefer if she were comfortable. It was bound to happen again and it would hurt, but Ares just had to remind himself that it wasn't as if she was doing so to be cruel. Sighing, as his thumb absently stroked her stomach, he commented, "If you want to change...you should."
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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Holly on 10th October 2018, 2:32 am

He laughed - genuinely laughed - for nearly a minute, his arms surrounding her and holding her close. She did her best to memorize the sound - as she did every part of him - because it was such a rare thing to hear him laughing without a sarcastic or bitter edge. She felt lucky that she was able to amuse him so, and she didn't mind in the slightest if his amusement came at her own expense. It helped to keep her ego under control, especially when he made her feel like she was the second-cleverest person in the room.

"Oh well," she giggled, having joined in his mirth. "At least I got it right. Better than roaming the streets of New York wearing clothing from the wrong century."

If she'd felt uncomfortable in modern undergarments, she could only imagine how much she would have enjoyed corsets, girdles, and the like. Even the snug denim she wore seemed less unpleasant than steel boned corsets that laced tight enough to make a person faint.

"Now that would have been funny," she mumbled, peering down herself as he commented about how fetching she looked in the jeans and then suggested she change if she needed to. She could hear something akin to regret in his voice as his thumb traced over her stomach, and she tilted her head back to look up at him. They both knew it was salt in his wound, and as much as she disliked the snug pants, she had no desire to remind him of what he couldn't have. That was half the reason she'd taken so long to gather her courage to come and see him - she didn't want to rub his face in everything he didn't have.

"Well, now that I know you like them, suddenly they aren't so bad." She gave him a mischievous grin, pointing her toes to stretch her legs before curling them closer to her body.

She appreciated him swallowing his pride to spare her a little bit of discomfort, but if wearing a pair of tight jeans for a bit longer meant that she could save him from being reminded of the world outside the door, even for a little while, then it was well worth her while. And besides, it wasn't an entirely selfless endeavour - she'd gotten a compliment out of the whole business, which was more than enough for her.

"Or I could borrow a pair of yours?" She teased, arching an eyebrow.


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Re: Picking Up the Pieces

Post by Niemand on 10th October 2018, 1:54 pm

When she'd looked up at him, he'd wanted to look away but hadn't. This was something he - they - had to face if she was going to be visiting him. The issue of his lacking the abilities he no longer had couldn't be something they tip toed around. Ares did not want her constantly being on guard around him or feeling guilty for some innocent slip.

"I like them very much, on you," he agreed and watched as she stretched. That was not playing fair. Then again, she never played fair and liked distracting him with her legs from the moment she stole into his rooms. He suspected that was precisely why she had done so.

He dropped one of his legs down off the couch, foot touching the floor to give her more room. He didn't mind in the slightest as long as she stayed close to him. Then she had to go and say something like that. Just the image of her trying to wear a pair of his jeans had his mouth turn up as laughter bubbled up in him again. Amusement danced in his eyes as he gazed at her trying to determine if he should say anything or not. Either she would have to hold the waist to keep them up, or wear her current pair that looked as if she'd been poured into them. He opted for the latter.

Taking one of her hands, he brought it up to his lips and kissed it. He really had missed this. Missed her. Her presence, her teasing, her boldness, her kindness. The feel of her skin against his. He'd always found her eyes beautiful and it was always reinforced whenever she would look at him.

Interlocking their fingers, he set them rest at their side. He didn't want to move from this spot unless he had to. Her innocent remark about borrowing a pair of his pants unfortunately reminded him of another unpleasant mortal task. One he would willingly put off for a bit longer as he decided to fall back on their usual give and take when it came to teases. Grinning showing how much he approved of the idea he responded, "There is always the third option."

Neither one had minded that the last time. Events were different though and he didn't really think it through before he'd opened his mouth. Suddenly, he wished he could take it back.
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