Lost girl (KBTBB + MPD) Mamoru x Clairese x Hanai (mature)

Hanai sighed and returned his attention to the reports in front of him. The beeping of the machines was steady and annoying, but he tried to tune it out. There wasn’t much for him to do now besides trying to finish this report. The girl was still asleep. He hated sitting in this hospital, waiting for her to wake up and tell him what had happened. And why. And when they were already at this topic, who it did. But for now she was still sleeping and he couldn’t ask anything. She couldn’t tell him anything. And he was wasting precious time here, sitting around and waiting.

Kirisawa had told him to watch over her. The injuries she had were severe, but the biggest problem weren’t the recent ones. Some bruises, a cracked rip, a strained wrist, several cuts. What really made Kirisawa suspicious were the older scars. Some of them had a very peculiar shape, a pattern of sorts and he was convinced that it was connected to the condition of the girl. The girl without a name.

Continue reading Lost girl (KBTBB + MPD) Mamoru x Clairese x Hanai (mature)

Heaven Hath No Fury: Two Endings

XIV. Their own free will.

Bowing was not in the nature of either the Minister of Wishes or Punishments, but the weight of each god’s guilt in the face of Miho’s admonishments was considerable.

“Make your choice,” Mieke growled, itching – it seemed – for them to resist so she could justify a bloody approach to their mission.

“We…” Leon began, but Zyglavis finished for him.

“… have bowed enough,” he stated carefully, and continued more quickly when the Goddess of Canes Venatici sharply lifted her chin, “but…

He stepped aside, leaving Leon alone before the throne room doors.

“But,” Zyglavis repeated, “you are right. Punishment is long overdue.”

With deliberate ceremony the doors swung inward, and hand in hand, fingers entwined, Miho and Mieke stepped past Leon and Zyglavis into the throne room.

The greeting the they received was less than gracious, with not a word uttered before a sphere of light, large enough to engulf both goddesses, came barrelling toward them.

“Not unexpected,” Miho dropped, raising her free hand.

Just her palm touched, and a tingle raced through her body as the King’s energy began to diminish, shrink until it was little more than a tiny golden pearl dancing over her fingers.

“Have you nothing to say?” Miho asked, her voice a surprisingly restrained whisper.

“Let me rip an answer from his throat,” Mieke snarled, more eager for carnage than Miho it appeared.

“Then he’d be dead, his suffering short,” Miho pointed out, closing her fist around the bright bead of power.

Quick hiss.

A few sparks.

It was gone.

“I cannot be killed,” the King proclaimed haughtily, then flickered his gaze to Leon and Zyglavis who had moved up to Miho’s right shoulder.

“What’s this?” the King sneered. “Mutiny?”

“I may be the Minister for Wishes,” Leon declared, “but of all those you have wronged in your existence, she most deserves retribution.”

“Do you truly believe she will not steal your stars also?” the King questioned, holding his ground, but when Zyglavis added his piece, there was far less certainty in the celestial monarch’s eyes.

“For my failure to protect her, to stand up for her, to rescue her,” Zyglavis began, “my very own betrayal – I would give her my stars is she requested them.”

“Outrageous!” the King exclaimed.

“But it will be your stars I’ll be taking, Morthwyl.”

All but Miho and Mieke seemed stunned at the pronouncement of this name.

None had heard it before, and yet instantly they knew Miho had spoken the true name of the King of the Heavens.

In shock and horror he stumbled back against his throne, eyes bulging – for her knew the implications.

All confidence fled.

Miho had him exactly where she wanted him.

“Miho!” Karno shouted, he and the other gods running to join Leon and Zyglavis.

“Leave it,” Leon commanded. “It’s over.”

“Yes, it is,” Miho agreed, stepping up to the King, whose attempts to flee were quashed by Mieke.

“Morthwyl,” she said, a hateful word, “give me your stars.”

There was absolutely no hesitation, and just like that, Miho’s tormentor surrendered his power, his immortality, his everything.

And Mieke no longer needed to keep him from running. His body slumped pathetically to the floor at Miho’s feet, all the shine, the luminescence of his presence void.

Slowly, Miho turned to the now sizeable crowd behind her – not just the zodiac gods, but others who now peered at her, flabbergasted – and smiled as she inhaled.

“Now what?” Scorpio asked, blunt as ever despite his mortality.

“Now, I banish this miserable creature to a mortal life on Earth,” Miho replied in a strong, clear voice, looking from god to god, “give you all back your stars, and leave the zodiac gods to govern the Heavens in a way – I hope – that will not necessitate my returning here again.”

“What?” Krioff blinked, and everyone else was just as stunned.

“You’re not going to take the King’s place?” Ichthys blurted, and Miho raised a brow.

“Would you like me to?” she queried, and it was clear Ichthys didn’t know how to answer that question without digging himself into a hole. “I never desired power for power’s sake,” she explained, and there was silence but for the deposed King’s whimpering, “only what I needed to exact my revenge, and prevent this malevolent wretch from causing further suffering.”

“But,” Teorus began, but the rest of his sentence failed when Miho swept her arm in a dramatic arch, starlight floating majestically from her fingertips and coming to rest within the eyes of those to whom they belonged.

Perhaps now – if they all worked together – they could overpower Miho and Mieke and hold them accountable for their act against the King, but the crowd merely parted as Miho stepped toward the exit, Mieke behind her dragging Morthwyl by the collar.

“Where will you go?” Zyglavis asked quietly when Miho reached him, and she paused to look him in the face.

“Away,” she responded, “but never truly far. So don’t fuck this up.”

That was all the goodbye anyone got. The Heavens fell quiet, still, the calm before a storm of insecurity perhaps, but at least freedom from tyranny.


In the wake of their triumph, Miho and Mieke laid together, their legs entangled. Blissfully Miho raked her fingers gently through Mieke’s hair, savouring the silky sensation and the softness of her lover’s breath against her breast.

“Think they’ll come looking for you?” Mieke wondered aloud, before kissing against one of Miho’s nipples.

“In the afterglow of victory, you want to talk about them?” Miho scoffed, but her indignation was exaggerated.

“I just want you to be safe, to be free,” Mieke grumbled, tilting her head back to look up into Miho’s face.

“I think we’ve made a pretty good argument for leaving us alone,” Miho smiled, bring her lips closer to Mieke’s, “but if they’re stupid enough to disturb the peace, I’ll destroy them all.”


XV. Made to kneel

Miho’s shadow cast a deep darkness across those at her feet. With their knuckles pressed to the glossy, marble floor outside the King’s throne room, Leon and Zyglavis found it impossible to rise, to move, to defy – though they had made their decision to stay loyal to the status quo.

Even though it was pointless.

“There was a time,” Miho said, eyes cast down at her brother, “I wanted to kill you, Leon.”

Her fingers slipped slowly through his hair, brushing his bangs up then tilting back his head so he could see her standing over him.

“A part of me still does,” she told him thinly, leaning down to whisper. “The ruination of a life, for the ruination of a life.”

“Miho, don’t,” Zyglavis barked, and her head snapped to him, her fingers curling in Leon’s hair and gripping tightly.

“Don’t what? Exact appropriate revenge upon the brother who handed me to a monster on a silver platter?” she growled, and it was echoed by Mieke snarling. “Do you know what he did to me, Zyglavis? How I held my heart so tightly bound because I didn’t want anyone to think for a second I used my power to steal away their free will for my own desire? That is what Leon did – snapped his fingers and had me sprawled, writhing beneath the furious thrust of the King and made me want it!”

Her exclamation was accompanied by the sudden rise of Leon’s body, and as if he was weightless, Miho flung him aside with such force his body cracked and imprint in the marble wall.

Before he could even let out a winded groan, other gods, including the enfeebled Karno, Krioff, Huedhaut and Scorpio came running down the wide hall in their direction. But they all slid to a swift halt when Mieke’s form bulked out into the celestial form of the Goddess of Canes Venatici, and snapped threatening jaws that barred their path.

“She will eat you,” Miho warned with a smirk. “Or at least chew you up and spit you out again; I don’t think she finds you any more tasteful than I do.”

“Miho,” Zyglavis entreated once more, redirecting her ire.

“He’s sitting in that throne room knowing full well what’s transpiring here,” she sniggered, glancing to the large doors behind Zyglavis’ back. “And he will leave you to languish at my mercy because he is a coward.”

It would have been the perfect moment for the King of the Heavens to burst onto the scene and prove Miho wrong – but he did not.

“Cling to that hatred you’ve developed for me, Zyglavis,” Miho began again, reaching for his cheek with her palm sizzling, “because…”

“Hate you?” he frowned, and it was not as a result of imminent pain. “What you’re doing is madness, but whether you believe me or not, I hate myself more for playing a part in what led you here.”

“Your self-deprecation is wasted on me,” she spat, enveloping him in flame and finally more formally announcing her presence to the King.

Zyglavis’ charred body cartwheeled through the immense doors, then skidded across the mirrored floor before slamming into a vacant throne.

The King stood beside it, and didn’t even look down at the smouldering body to his left. His pale eyes staring straight ahead and meeting Miho’s fierce gaze.

“That is quite enough,” the King’s voice rang out, and though his stance was strong, not a single soul missed the tremble in his voice.

“Oh?” Miho chuckled, stepping through the debris alone, while Mieke easily held any resistance at bay. “What now, my love? My greatest, deepest, desperate love? Enough? No no, not yet.”

As she cleared the crunching splinters of lacquered wood and crystal, the King began to gather his strength in blazing wafts of bright divine energy. It gathered from places older than anyone could remember, even the King himself had forgotten perhaps, but Miho seemed entirely unconcerned.

She stood, relaxed and waited.

“Majesty…” Zyglavis croaked, shakily raising himself up on one elbow, his uniform smoking, his skin charred. “Please… she…”

“She has NO power here!” the King roared in an absolutely unheard of display of raw public emotion.

“In one word, I will have all the power,” Miho whispered. “You will give me your stars as willingly as I once gave myself to you.”

“There is no such word,” the King growled. “And I will give you nothing but the end of your miserable existence,” he added arrogantly.

Though his voice had gathered some strength, there was still a kernel of doubt.

“Hmph,” Miho smirked, then admitted, “I nearly gave up. When I couldn’t find it buried anywhere in the Heavens, in no record or archive – then I realised you’d never have allowed it to be recorded.”

“Miho,” Zyglavis entreated once more, and in the split second her gaze shifted to him, the King launched a massive sphere of pulsating power at her.

For a second she was engulfed, muted by the potent luminosity, until tendrils of green flame wreathed in glittering, slithering, aqua shards broke through and revealed her unharmed at the centre.

“You knew if anyone ever discovered your true name,” she persisted unfazed, walking a slow, menacing path toward her target, “they could bring you to heel, and so I abandoned my fruitless quest to find it. Instead…”

“You have nothing!” he laughed, but Miho hadn’t quite finished her sentence.

“… I’m going to give you a new one.”

Any clamouring noise behind them died. All out in the corridor beyond Mieke, who still held back those who might defend the King, fell still and silent.

“Impossible,” the King gasped, readying another attack, greater fury building in his movements until Miho was but a few arms lengths before him.

“We shall see,” she smiled, eyes sparkling galaxies. “The former Goddess of Fate’s influence over what things are and will be, was the first thing I took – the power to re-write fate, after that.”

“It’s not…” the King actually stuttered, stepping backward.

“So I name you…”

All strained to listen, but only Miho and the King himself heard the name she whispered.

His eyes grew wide and the light around him shattered like glass then dimmed to nothing.

“Now give me your stars, you malodorous creature,” Miho hissed, pinching his chin harshly and pulling their faces close. “Then get on your knees and beg for your life.”

Tears touched the chalk of his cheeks, but with his true name on her tongue and in her mind, the King could not resist Miho’s command.

It was more of a slump that dropped him to the floor, shuddering and utterly pathetic in defeat.

“Please,” he murmured in a hoarse appeal, “spare me.”

Though he had done as she asked, Miho was still caught in the moment of receiving stars unlike any others she had stolen. Her senses expanded everywhere, every tiny little corner, and flooded her mind and heart with an almost overwhelming feeling of omnipotence.

“Spare you?” Miho parroted, her voice now carrying with it a dark reverberation. “No.”

As curt as the word itself, was the snapping of barbed, shadowy wires sprawling from Miho’s body and stringing the deposed tyrant up by wrists, neck and ankles.

A spectacle, a demonstration and a warning to any who might consider further overthrow.

“This era ends with you,” she snarled, biting the end off each word.

Then she tore him apart.

Whatever matter made up the former King of the Heavens was ripped asunder. Joints popped, bones broke, and blood sullied the regal décor of the throne room. Mushy piles of what could no longer be recognised as belonging to either man or god, hit the floor and quivered before melting into pools of silver that quickly evapourated.

Exhaling a slow breath, Miho closed her eyes – the moment had been such a long time coming, she wanted to savour it.

“Now what?” Scorpio called from beyond Mieke, the only one to raise his voice amid gods who still had their stars but were stuck dumb by what they had just witnessed.

“Mieke,” Miho dropped, and the huge dog returned to her human form before striding to take her love’s extended hand.

“What difference does it make to you,” Miho said, kissing the back of Mieke’s hand before drawing their bodies together, “if your puppet strings are pulled by a king, or a couple of queens?”

Staggering to his feet and clutching his slowly healing chest, Zyglavis peered at the entwined goddesses as they kissed – passionately, fearlessly.

“She really killed him?” Ichthys piped up, and Karno nodded slowly.

“Looks… like it,” he exhaled, sweeping his eyes to Leon whose head hung.

“What do we do?” a nervous god queried somewhere in the crowd.

“What do you do?” Miho laughed, her voice carrying to every ear in the Heavens. “You do exactly what you’re told, just as you always have.”

Grinning, Miho led her most loyal partner to the throne and sat, before the Goddess of Canes Venatici draped herself comfortably across a welcome lap.

“And,” Miho went on, sifting her fingers lazily through Mieke’s hair, “for you impotent zodiac gods, I have a whole host of ways for you to entertain me.”

“Can we have the King back now?” Ichthys whimpered. “Please?”

“Nope,” Miho snickered flippantly, lolling her head back, “but, little fishy, I guarantee that as each day passes you will wish for his return more and more.”

“And shame we control the wishes now,” Mieke added with a wide grin.

But it was Miho who had the final words.

And the punishments.”



Heaven Hath No Fury: XI-XII


“Pathetic,” Miho dropped, disgusted as she stepped over where Pavo laid on his back groaning.

Karno’s expression wasn’t triumphant, however, but abnormally stony given the Goddess of Corvus’ sweep into the picture.

“Why is it that in stories like this,” she sighed in exaggerated sorrow, “minions get thrashed so easily?”

“Would you like an answer to that, or are you just here for my stars?” Karno questioned flatly, stepping to the side as Mieke entered the other end of the room, effectively cutting off any route through which he might escape. “You have some gall coming here.”

“Gall is what it takes to rebuild your life after it’s been ripped from you, Karno,” Miho said, her eyes flashing with a dangerous darkness. “Gall is how you put yourself back together when all you ever held dear is taken away, when even your own body and mind are held captive.”

“What are you talking about?” Karno scowled, and some of Miho’s shadow brightened in surprise.

“You don’t know?”

“Miho, we shouldn’t linger,” Mieke pointed out, and Miho shook off Karno’s attempt to keep her longer than she needed to. “Others will come.”

“Yes, they will,” Karno agreed, but Miho didn’t seem to mind, stepping closer to him.

“Hush now and be still,” she told him sternly, worming her will into his, paralysing him so she could draw within arm’s reach. “At this point, it doesn’t matter who sees me,” she smiled, a slow spreading satisfaction. “I nearly have enough power to bring all this to a close.”

In Karno’s eyes his stars sparkled with the promise that Miho so desperately sought.

“Give them to me,” she demanded, and there was nothing Karno could do but obey.

“What the hell is keeping you so…” Leon began, bursting into the room as was his usual way of doing things.

Instantly Mieke barred her teeth, but Miho simply nudged Karno harmlessly away from her and peered at her brother who stood frozen in shock.

“Hi,” she smiled gently, but she could simply not mask the pleasure she gained from his expression.



There was a hole, a really large hole in the living room wall of the gods’ mansion on Earth. Leon had put it there in a raging display of raw emotion that impressed even Krioff.

“So, it was Miho,” Zyglavis exhaled, his expression troubled, and he looked away from the group to the window.

“After what the King did to her, I’m not surprised,” Scorpio snorted, crossing his arms.

“You sympathise?” Krioff growled. “You’re a potato compared to your former self thanks to her.”

“I’m just saying I get it,” Scorpio fired back.

Meanwhile, Leon remained silent, staring at the damage he’d done.

He couldn’t quite decide which emotions were responsible for his loss of control – could he truly say it was anger? Could he be angry at the sister he so brutally betrayed? Was there anything he couldn’t excuse because of that?

Frustration then, that when the culprit stealing stars had been right before him and he had been rendered as impotent as if she’d taken his?

“We have to tell the King right?” Ichthys cringed. “I mean, I didn’t want to last time and I want to even less now but…”

“It would be the right thing to do,” Karno nodded soberly. “And perhaps the only chance we way of getting our stars back.”

“Why didn’t you stop her?” Krioff scowled at Leon, the turn of whose head, the narrowing of his eyes, was nothing short of menacing.

Zyglavis stepped in between them.

“Infighting won’t solve this,” he said evenly, though beneath his skin he was twisting, tensed, wound so tightly he thought he might break. “And whether we think Miho has a right to be angry does not excuse her own crimes. We take this to the King.”

For once, Leon had no voice to argue.



Miho closed her eyes and allowed the warm of Mieke’s hand in hers to fill her mind completely. It kept her grounded though they were a step away from their goal.

Surely they would be waiting for her now, they would confront her before she even reached the King, but that was okay – she wanted it.


Leon had lost all sense of time, Zyglavis also. They weren’t there to guard the King per se, though they had both seen the flash of uncertainty visit the until that time indomitable aura of the most powerful being they knew.

Or maybe he wasn’t anymore?

“I could make some witticism about welcoming committees,” Miho said, breaching the silence, “but I don’t want to unnecessarily add to the cliché count.”

“Miho,” Zyglavis began, “we understand why y…”

“I know you do,” she nodded slowly. “Just as I know you know it’s not enough.”

“You cannot disrupt the balance,” Leon frowned, the toss of his head sweeping his fringe to the side dramatically. “Even if you could depose the King, it would cause immense chaos in both the Heavens and on Earth.”

“Would it?” she posed, stepping closer to them with her partner, whose eyes darted between the two other gods. “With the King’s stars, I’ll have his power. What makes you think my Heaven would be worse than his? Am I more monstrous than the creature who has touted balance and yet done so much to so many that has jeopardised it? Did he not when he marked you with sin? And the others? Did that not throttle Heaven’s defences and allow the uprising of the Dark King?”

She had a point, they knew it, but…

“And, in his defence, are you not complicit in the crimes he continues to commit that threaten the lives and happiness of two worlds?” Miho continued, walking until she and Mieke were just out of reach.

“Rhetorical question,” she sniffed, her upper lip curling back in a sneer. “So now I offer you a choice. Move aside of your own will, or be made to kneel.”



Heaven Hath No Fury: VI – X


The King’s radiance seemed to flicker, and even if just for a fraction of a second, the assembled zodiac gods and the two mortals all saw something baffling in his expression.


This was the creature who claimed to know all, took great pleasure in fact, in reminding his subordinates frequently how lowly they were in comparison to his astounding power and omniscience – but now there he was having to mask why he knew nothing of the assaults against the former Goddess of Fate and the God of Scorpio.

“So not even you know,” Scorpio dropped, sounding disgusted.

“What does that mean?” Yuka whispered quietly at Leon’s side.

“Only one person has ever been able to dupe the King,” Partheno said sourly.

“The Dark King is dead,” the King declared, full confidence returned to him, and Leon nodded – after all, he’d been the one to do it.

“Yeah?” Scorpio sniffed, tipping his chin irritably. “Then who else did you piss off?”

“Long list,” Ichthys muttered under his breath.

“The perpetrator did not target me,” the King pointed out, but Scorpio remained defiant and confrontational.

“Maybe they should.”



“Why didn’t you just kill the God of Scorpio?” Eridani asked, his tone tinged with disgust.

Miho, however, was unimpressed and unmoved.

“Do you want them to kill you?” Pavo sniffed, eyeing where Miho sat with Mieke’s head in her lap, idly sliding her fingers through the other woman’s hair.

“Do you want me, to kill you?” Miho enquired flippantly, leaning her head back a little before lolling it to the side in a languid gesture.

Both Pavo and Eridani shifted uneasily.

Like Mieke, in the end they had chosen to follow Miho rather than the Dark King, and as a result had survived. They knew she was powerful and only growing more so, and that for all her plotting and planning, her deep running rage made her unpredictably dangerous: even to them.

“When this is done,” Miho announced, answering the original question in her own, damned, time, “the Heavens will remain intact, and I may yet have need of powerful gods.”

Pavo scoffed.

“Scorpio? Powerful? He wasn’t even born a god.”

“Which made it all the more impressive he held the position he did,” Mieke sniffed as she lifted her head a little – then she smirked. “Past tense.”



“You gave them once before,” Miho said sadly, not yet touching him. “You weakened yourself for a goddess who, even owing her mortal life to you, chose another lover.”

Huedhaut did not move, but watched her. Surprised as he was to see her, her reappearance, her line of conversation, made the culprit behind Yuka and Scorpio’s star-theft clear.

And now she’d come for him.

“And you know what the King did when your goddess’ precious humans were in peril?” Miho continued, drawing closer still. “Not a whole lot, and then he punished you for doing what you did for the one you loved.”

“I am not giving you my stars, Miho,” Huedhaut told her plainly.

“Don’t be like that,” she smiled, knowingly. “There must be a festering mire of vengeful anger bubbling away beneath that cool exterior.”

“Are you sure that isn’t just your reflection you see?” he posed, and Miho snapped, sweeping forward and lifting him from his feet.

Do not resist,” she hissed, her upper lip peeled back over her teeth, and though there was some initial defiance, Huedhaut’s body fell slack within a few seconds. “I thought you of all gods, would understand.”

“I understand,” Huedhaut croaked. “But I refuse to become a monster in order to defeat one.”



The tree’s skeleton shattered as Miho’s body connected heavily with its trunk. Splintered, smouldering white shards fell with contrasting grace into the murky water that ultimately cushioned the goddess’ inelegant landing; Krioff glared balefully as Miho sat up.

“So it’s you,” he dropped, a caustic sound flaring with anger. “How could you? We were your friends once.”

“Once,” Miho growled as she dragged her sopping body up, hair sticking to her face. “You know what it’s like to be an outcast, Krioff. Well me too. Total. Abandonment.”

Even as she spoke, the flames encircling Krioff’s right hand grew, leaping from his skin in wrathful curls, but over its rumble and hiss a deeper growl sounded.

The monstrous grey hound pounced on the God of Destruction, knocking him down and clamping jaws around his blazing arm. Though momentarily the creature seemed to sizzle, a sudden shower doused the inferno, and though Krioff willed the flames forth once more, he found his power suppressed.

“I understand why you still struggle,” Miho exhaled, stepping up to the divine form of the Goddess of Canes Venatici who held Krioff down, placing a gentle, loving hand against her wet fur. “It’s why I, still struggle.”



“You’re seriously going to make us cook for ourselves?” Krioff scowled at Leon.

“You were stupid enough to get your stars stolen,” Leon smirked haughtily.

“Why isn’t this water getting hotter?!” Scorpio shouted in frustration.

Hue, sitting in the corner of the kitchen, just calmly shook his head and returned to his book.

“Leon,” Krioff reasoned, which was something for him. “You didn’t hear Scorpio screaming at the potatoes the last time he tried to cook.”

“I will kill you!” Scorpio threatened… the pot of water sitting on the unlit gas stovetop, while Karno patiently tried to explain the igniter and the dangers of too much gas.

“What’s all the yelling?” Ichthys quipped, joining the growing melting pot.

“Clearly this is another example of the Punishments Department falling short,” Leon snickered, and Krioff really ruffled.

“Press this and turn that,” Karno explained, but even he was now shaking his head.

“Heh,” Ichthys grinned, discreetly clicking his fingers.

At a sudden rush of heat, both Karno and Scorpio jumped back from the stove, as the water in the saucepan bubbled and then exploded in flames.

Slowly, Hue lowered his book a little and raised an eyebrow.

“Scorpio burns water?”

“Punishments,” Leon snorted, extinguishing the flames in a snap and shooting an infuriating look of superiority at Scorpio. “I rest my case.”

Heaven Hath No Fury: I – V


“Get off me, dog,” Zyglavis growled, even as Mieke’s teeth broke the surface at his throat, but before he could spit another rumbling insult, Miho had firmly taken his chin, pressing lacquered fingernails into his skin.

“That dog,” she hissed, right against his lips though her eyes blazed fiercely into his, “is a hundred thousand times more loyal than the likes of you.”

“You think I wanted this?” he coughed out, falling still – and he ceased struggling, despite the blood dribbling down his neck. “I loved you!”

I love her now,” Mieke snarled, snapping her teeth at his ear, but she paused when Miho straightened and stepped back.

“Tell me where I can find the King’s name,” Miho demanded, but she could not quite wipe the winded expression off her face.

“His name?” Zyglavis blinked, adding confusion to the mess of his emotions. “Why… why would something like that be in the archives?”



Miho’s arm swung limply to the rhythm of Mieke’s hurried steps. Depleted, having used the very limit of her power to suppress Zgylavis’ memory of the goddesses’ incursion, she clung to consciousness. Perhaps if she’d kept all the defeated Dark King’s power for her own she might have made a more dignified escape – perhaps she could even have punished Zyglavis in the way he truly deserved to be punished.

As it was, his reward would have to be inflicted upon him another day.

“I can hear you thinking,” Mieke told her softly, as they slipped from the Heavens. “There will be another way.”

“Yes,” Miho hissed weakly. “There is.”



“Has anyone ever told you, you have the most beautiful eyes, Yuka?” Miho smiled, the Planetarium lights flashing behind her.

The younger woman blushed, her body telling the tale of shyness and modesty, but Miho maintained her close proximity.

“Something sparkles, deep within them,” she continued softly, and though Yuka’s posture stiffened, she didn’t flinch away when the back of Miho’s fingers brushed against her cheek. “Something… I need.”

“Miho?” Yuko frowned in bewilderment.

“This won’t hurt you,” Miho whispered, leaning in, sliding her thumb to the girl’s lips, “but it will destroy my brother: your lover.”


“I’m going to take the zodiacs apart,” Miho declared, reaching through Yuka’s skin, through flesh and beyond though she left no mark – reaching into what she had once been, “and I’m going to use your stars to do it.”



The moment Scorpio’s palm slid under Miho’s blouse and touched against the flesh of her abdomen, his eyes widened in shock. He might have recoiled, but Miho snatched his wrist and held him to her.

Suddenly he knew her.

“I want you to see,” she crooned, sliding her index finger down his cheek slowly.

“Get off me!” he snapped, attempting to shove her back, but he found her by far more powerful than he remembered.

“You owe him, I understand that,” Miho declared, her lips twisting toward a sneer, “but I also know you’ve seen and felt the monster lurking behind that bastard’s luminous smile.”

“Revenge?” he snapped, but he’d seen as much in her thoughts – all of them from start to finish.

And he could not deny the King deserved it.

“But you can’t,” he scowled. “If you do…”

“… the pain, stops,” Miho filled in dryly. “The twisted, arrogant superiority complex that drives him, and the belief because he can, he is entitled to… ends.”

Her hazel eyes narrowed on his and reached forth with invisible claws.

“And you, the mortal made god, the stars he gifted you, will help me tear him down.”

“Chaos will…” he began, but her fingertip to his lips silenced him.

“Shhh,” she whispered gently. “This won’t hurt, and you won’t even remember.”



“How is this even possible?” Teorus questioned, a frown clinging to his pretty brow. “First Yuka, and now Scorpio?”

The aforementioned god, now effectively as powerless as a human once more, did not respond with his usual venom. He had no answer.

Yuka remained in Leon’s arms, arms flexed taught with anger though the young woman hadn’t really lost all that much in the grand scheme of her everyday life.

“Who would even dare?” he spat, glowering at Scorpio with sharp imperative. “Remember something.”

“Why don’t you ask your goldfish, you pathetic lion?” Scorpio retaliated, finally finding his tongue.

“Goldfish?” Leon repeated waspishly. “Look. Who’s. Talking.”

“Arguing like this isn’t going to solve this mystery, nor find the one responsible,” Zyglavis put in, ever the cool head.

“Maybe we should tell the King?” Ichthys offered, but he didn’t look as if he much liked the idea – probably because he was constantly getting into strife.

“Assuming he’s not responsible,” Dui put in.

“Would he really go that far?” Teorus frowned. “I mean he’s done some pretty dubious things but, Scorpio is like his favourite.”

“I wouldn’t put anything past that sadistic prick,” Scorpio grumbled, a statement much more like his usual self.

Heaven Hath No Fury: Original Sin


It was the most animated Miho had been in… she didn’t know how many days and nights had passed in seclusion. Her body actually ached when she stood she had been sitting stationary for so long, just staring into the reflecting pool – watching Earth ebb and flow, but powerless to influence it in any way.

The arrival of her brother was unexpected; the King had told her no one would find her, no one could see her – if she was going to be petulant, stubborn, if she insisted on defying him, then she would do so alone.

“How did you even find me?” she gasped, stopping sort of hugging the man who, looked unusually… disturbed.

“You’ve been wishing so hard,” he pointed out in an attempt at casual. “Think I couldn’t hear you?”

“Heard and unanswered,” she pointed out, drawing herself up.

The Goddess of Corvus was not short, but Leon was still taller. In their childhood he’d always loomed over her, and even as adults it seemed when they were simply side by side, he was an immense tower.

Now, however, he seemed somehow so much smaller – not even his shadow could touch her.

“This, this is unbearable,” she growled. “Brother please, help me escape this nightmare.”

Hesitantly his answer came.

“I… am here to grant your wish,” he declared, but he sounded so unsure, and this concerned Miho deeply.

“Then let’s get out of here,” she urged, taking his hand, but her usually confident, arrogant brother did not budge.

In fact, he cast his eyes to the ground.

“What?” she frowned. “I wished to be freed from this purgatory, so free me.”

“I… must also grant the wish of the King,” Leon said, his voice quiet, his voice incongruously diminutive with every other memory Miho had of him.

The King’s wish.

Miho’s chest clenched.

“And what, exactly, has he wished for?” she questioned.

But she already knew.

He had already gone so far as to strip her of her title and position, and to cloister her away on an isolated estate from which she could not use her power – and she had not broken. Her consent was all he could not take by force.

But he could wish for it.

“He wished you’d fall in love with him,” Leon answered after a short pause, “and I have to grant it.”

“No,” she hissed, balling her fists and scowling at him. “Why would you… how could you even think of granting that?”

“No one defies the King, Miho,” Leon pointed out, and this caused true rage to blossom across her pale features.

I defied the King!” she roared, eyes blazing.

“And look where it got you,” he volleyed. “You won’t even remember this, you’ll be happy,” he added, but this had the opposite of its intended effect.

“No, I won’t,” she snarled, backing away from him like there was somewhere she could run where it would make a scrap of difference. “You would betray your own family for that… monster?”

“He’s the King, Miho,” Leon retaliated, stepping toward her, but she scurried back like he meant to physically assault her.

“He’s taken enough!” she barked, but her voice had become thick and panicked. “Don’t… don’t take my free will too, don’t make me his slave.”

Brows knitted, Leon struggled. He was himself powerful, but the King was something else entirely. It was not that he feared the repercussions of defiance per se, would never admit to fear, but he had to rationalise what might happen if a minister such as himself was to disobey – others might also, chaos could allow evil to gain a foothold.

And to prevent this, all he had to do was sacrifice his sister to a creature who, even he had to admit, was the single most selfish being he’d ever encountered.

“I’m sorry, Miho,” he exhaled finally, lifting his hand slightly, fingers poised, and full force horror exploded in his sister’s eyes.


The light touch of gold-spun hair tickled against Miho’s cheek – and she smiled up at the King who hovered over her. Though the hands that held her down gripped tightly, possessively, there was a gladness in her heart that sang amid the shortening length of her breathing.

“Your Majesty,” she exhaled, unable to blink for fear his angelic presence would vanish.

Her body hummed so powerfully for the want of it him it was almost painful: a deep, aching, burning resonance, as much a part of herself as the lips that longed to kiss him, the heart that beat for him, and the warm, wetness of her core that desperately beckoned him inward.

“Tell me what you desire,” he commanded, the twist of his lips a smirking, arrogant tease in which she saw only benevolence.

“Ahh,” she groaned, the torment of his rigid length rubbing just between her legs, so infuriating she could barely form a coherent response. “My King, fill me so…”

Her response, as she had spoken it then, continued in a gushing overflow of sexual yearning and hyperbolic banalities – while an unseen figure at the bedside loomed like a storm cloud flashing with violence.

“I desire the crush of your throat beneath my palms, to feel bones bend and snap,” Miho’s shadow snarled, unheard and glaring at the monster king as he forced the air from her past-self with the crush of his body. “I desire the slide of your entrails through my fingers, slick and slippery with the last of your malodourous life, and I want to see the light of the stars leave your eyes, your last thought regret you ever crossed me.”

Revulsion rose into her throat as her-past self moaned incomprehensibly.

Glowing, sweaty, dominated and enraptured by complete and unparalleled worship, this pathetic ghoul of her former self, wrapped around the most powerful creature in all the heavens; and though she knew now his perverse heart had no true capacity for love, her past-self loved him with such brutal dedication it very nearly tore her apart.

But as she reached out now to pull him away, knowing what she did, knowing he would tire of her and cast her so thoughtlessly aside, her hand passed through him.

An incorporeal observer of the past, her rage and frustration were the only things with true substance.

Yet she was suddenly tethered, unable to recoil, and just as the King had all but suffocated her with his unchecked want for control over her then, Miho felt herself slipping back beneath him and the wish her brother had granted.

“GET OFF!” she roared, sitting bolt upright in the cold, dark room.

The power of her exclamation was so extreme, the blankets flew apart, the fabric shredded and sent scattering around the space.

In surprise, woken so suddenly from fitful slumber, the slender, pale and naked figure that had been curled against Miho’s body, flinched to wakefulness and the urgent gasping of her companion.

“Miho,” a soft voice whispered, and a gentle hand sought fingers clasping the sheets in a vice like grip. “You are awake now.”

Angrily the Goddess of Corvus sobbed out the remnants of sleep, and the sensation of pressure within that was nothing short of the most heinous violation.

“The nightmare is over,” her lover told her, her other hand sliding slowly up Miho’s exposed spine to the nape of her neck. “Retribution is soon, is now.”

“I know, Mieke,” Miho panted, grasping for calm, “and it will be such a reckoning.”

“And I will help you,” Mieke smiled, rising up on her knees and snuggling into Miho’s back, and wrapping her deceptively thin arms around the other goddess’ neck. “And keep you safe.”

What grace she’d lost in forsaking the Heavens – what pain she’d suffered in knowing the truth – those ragged edges of memory still deep in her mind and flesh were smoothed by honest words and honest intimacy. The Goddess of Canes Venatici, savage and vicious in her most powerful form, lapped gently against the ghostly wounds that still bled in Miho’s soul; and the vengeful rage swirling within became a little less tumultuous… for a few hours.

Heaven Hath No Fury: Prologue

It was the one day in the Heavens where gods could make wishes, and these words passed from the lips of the King to the Minister of the Department of Wishes.

The older brother of Miho, Goddess of Corvus.

He knew his sister’s shadow had been crowded by the King most recently, but that she, like him perhaps, was not one to bow so easily.

Her position among the gods, her role in the Heavens, and perhaps most poignantly the nature of her power, had led her to live a life resistant to romantic entanglements – for if she had the ability to seduce a person, convince them to do what she desired with just her words alone, she feared anyone for whom she developed fondness might question if their reciprocation was their own will, or hers.

She refused to set herself up for heartbreak like that.

And so she chose to love no one, and allowed no one to love her.

But the Goddess of Corvus, whose talents were best used for convincing the souls of the dead to move on to their next incarnation, was beautiful, perhaps even more so in that she had made herself unattainable. Myriad gods and goddesses tried to woo her, but she was impervious, isolating herself but for the relationships she required for her work, most often with the Department of Punishments.

Through this, the cool, often frightening God of Libra, narrowed his steely gaze upon the goddess and sought to change her mind. It took years of subtle suggestion and persistence, clear statements of intention and infallible follow-through, before Zyglavis could even get her to entertain the possibility of allowing him into her heart.

Doubt, however, was always there. She wondered when he would turn around and accuse her of deception, accuse her of manipulating his feelings for her own ends; of this, she could never quite let go.

These changes in her, the slowly developing bond between she and Zyglavis did not go unnoticed.

Ever selfish and flippant in his complete disregard for anyone other than himself, the King of the Heavens called Miho to him, and expressed his decision to make her his.

Like her brother, she was defiant.

It was not out of disrespect of course, and who would not have been flattered by compliments from that silver tongue? That magnificent creature? Who would not appreciate the benefits one would receive from such courtship? Miho understood all these things, but she had only just come to open herself up to Zyglavis, Zyglavis who had worked so hard to earn her guarded trust – and the King, for all the dominion he held, was not to be trusted.



Even malicious.

Rejection was met with not unexpected retribution.

The King forbade her from seeing Zyglavis completely, stripped her of her position and exiled her to isolation where only he might visit, but the more he pushed, the more resolute Miho became. He could not command her to love him.

Leon demanded his sister be released, facing down the King to whom he was second in power, but the King was unmoved. Zyglavis’ protests also fell upon deaf ears, and so the Goddess of Corvus remained in her divine cage, an unwilling and increasingly melancholy pet.

And then came that night, that single night each year when the wishes of the gods themselves could be granted – and to Leon’s ears came a most insistent wish:

“I wish for the Goddess of Corvus to fall blindly, passionately in love with me.”

Many times the King had wrought unhappiness upon those he claimed to love, toying with their feelings, testing their loyalty and expecting nothing short of absolute obedience. If there was one law no one ever broke, it was that the orders of the King were inviolate.

Still he could not command her to love him… but he could, on that day require her own brother to fulfil a wish that would steal away her free will.

Testing the King’s patience, Leon visited her, the normally arrogant god humble in his apology to her – he would have to comply, this wish would be granted, and she would never even know how she had been so terribly wronged. All she would understand was an all-consuming want for the King’s affections, an unreserved and blinkered need, and a soul-deep love she could not, nor would not want to, question.

When it was done, the King welcomed Miho into his arms, lavishing unparalleled adoration upon her, and she felt happy beyond any measure she had ever known. She thought nothing of the doubts she’d harboured over taking chances with Zyglavis, in fact thought nothing of Zyglavis at all. Upon the King’s arm, a superb trophy, she thought only of how she might best please him.

And she did, at his every whim, her desperation to bring him the utmost pleasure, nullifying any concept that this splendiferous immortal had taken something from her that could never be given back.

Something she might once have given to Zyglavis.

Perhaps he should have fought harder for her, if he had truly, genuinely loved her? But he did not, had to live knowing Miho laid with the King not actually through choice, and it was a dreadful burden of pain that haunted him – it haunted him even after the fickle King’s lust for Miho waned.

Though she gave him everything, the Goddess of Corvus soon found even her most daring, displays of devotion for the King were not enough to keep him interested. He shunned her, disinterested, dismissed her, treated her like a ghost – a whisper of the past even though for her he was so intensely the focus of her present.

And she diminished, became a pining shadow slowly eaten away by unrequited love.

The perfect prey, a perfect weapon for the likes of the Dark King.

Though sealed away long, long ago by the King himself, the Dark King was not so ill informed as one might think. Through minions, deities likewise disgruntled by the King’s cruelty, the Dark King saw Miho as an ideal tool with which to strike at the King and the Minister for the Department of Wishes both.

He sent his strongest ally to visit upon her in the dead of night, when her pillow was already heavy with tears, to lift the veil obscuring the truth.

Into her receptive ear he poured promises of vengeance, fanning the flames of her now unbridled outrage, of love upturned, turned sour, turned vitriolic. He offered his hand, his help, and readily she took it – for what was left there in the Heavens for her but objects of ire?

Rumour had it she simply vanished, willing herself out of existence. Other gossip said the King himself had banished her from the Heavens. Another story suggested he’d killed her for denying him. Not even the King knew where she had gone, but speak of her brought about his wrath, and in time Miho, Goddess of Corvus, became a distant memory to all but a scarce few.

Astoria: In Chaos – Part Seven

Though Miho laughed, Cyprin was clearly trying not to hit out at Hydra with their aura.

“Hydra!” Jazz barked, and he momentarily stopped.

Jazz,” he acknowledged, licking his lips.

Oh, how she knew that look.

“What’s going on?” Cyprin managed, straightening out their clothing.

“Everyone is the building is on heat,” Miho chimed in, even as Jazz fended Hydra off and warned him to calm down.

“How about you then?” Hydra leered, side stepping Jazz and grabbing Miho’s wrist faster than either she or Jazz could intervene.

“No thanks,” Miho laughed, but his grip tightened and he nudged her against the wall.

“Hydra!” Jazz growled, reaching for him as Miho protested again.

“Get off!” she snapped, no longer laughing, no longer smiling.

His face grew closer, a split second from contact when Miho spoke the second syllable lept from her lips, Hydra stalled.

Blinking like he’d just woken, Hydra had very little time to consider his proximity to Miho, before Jazz pulled him back so hard he stumbled across the office.

“Jeez,” Miho exhaled heavily, slumping a little.

“What the hell?” Hydra gasped, touching his mouth with the back of his hand like he’d actually kissed Miho.

“Yeah,” Miho agreed, looking back out into the hallway to find the semi-naked threesome participants sitting up and looking dazed, then horrified.

“Agent Mann,” Cyprin prompted. “Whatever just happened is going ot have substantial fallout.”

Nodding, Jazz glanced at Miho.

“You okay?”

Fabulous,” Miho replied. “Not sure how, but if I can do something to help with the mop… up…”

Yeah… ew… that wasn’t really what she meant.

“Let’s get on with critical incident protocol,” Cyprin said. “You’re welcome to assist Agent Mann, Miss Fujiwara,” they added.

“Just stay close,” Jazz told her and Miho inclined her head. “That came out of nowhere…”

He he, get it, came out of nowhere?

“… there’s no telling what else might happen.”

“Frogs from the sky,” Miho murmured.

For the rest of the day, Miho worked with Jazz, consoling distraught HERA staff, assessing their needs, and filling out referral documents for appropriate services. It was rewarding when you put aside the bizarreness of what had occurred. At the end of the day, there was still no explanation as to what caused everyone to suddenly become so horny they couldn’t resist one another; all HERA knew, was it had occurred locally, spreading no further than the building.

Day 31

Agents and administrative staff were understandably reserved the following day, edgy, wondering if some unseen force would drive them toward lewd acts again – or worse.

Miho had slept through the same dream of being chased by Zeus and friends to the whooshing, rhythmic sound from above.

In a tangle of blankets she woke with a start and nearly fell from the bunk. Breathing heavily, she took some time to calm herself before getting dressed. She’d always managed on her own, lived on her own, been fine on her own, but now she found herself wishing she could wake beside Hades… and not just because the ‘wake up’ was amazing.

She greeted Jazz with a yawn and went through the motions of a yawn, before asking if she could spend some time with Mieke in achieves.

“Cyprin wants me investigating what happened yesterday,” Jazz told her.

“The archives are pretty well guarded though, right?” Miho pressed. “Should be fine, and it’s like you said, Zeus would be an idiot to attack the building head on.”

“After yesterday I’m not leaving anything to chance,” Jazz said, ignoring Miho’s sigh. “Don’t tell me you’re stir crazy already.”

“Not stir crazy,” Miho frowned, “just – I don’t have a whole lot of friends, and it would be nice to at least see the one I can talk to about all this stuff. I also need to make sure she’s okay after yesterday.”

“Send her a message, she can meet us for P.T. this morning,” Jazz compromised.

“P.T.? Doing what?”

“Cardio and weights in the gym, sparring, then swimming,” Jazz listed, and Miho stretched her arms above her head.

“You and me, sparing?” she grinned. “No auras though, that would be cheating.”

“Sure,” Jazz smiled, accepting the challenge.

Naturally, Jazz knocked Miho on her ass a whole number of times – her training making her far superior to a mere journalist – but that wasn’t to say Miho didn’t have her moments. Mieke cheered and grinned when Miho pulled a number of dirty tricks to gain the upper hand, and in the face of criticism declared when it came to physical combat there should be no rules.

“Normal baddies don’t play by the rules,” she argued, stepping out of the women’s change room with both other women behind her, “I don’t imagine the godly monster kind would be any different.”

“It’s not about rules,” Jazz argued, “rather technique.”

“I have technique,” Miho laughed.

“Dirty fighting is not a technique,” Jazz persisted. “You know as an agent here, you’ll have to pass a number of physical tests.”

“So you accepted the offer?” Mieke queried, looking happy.

Luckily for her, yesterday had been her day off, so she’d not been caught up in the libido incident.

“More or less,” Miho nodded, dipping her toe in the luke warm water of the indoor swimming pool. “We got a little distracted, what with Zeus and all.”

Her comment was flippant, but Mieke knew her well enough to see the vague shadow of uncertainty in Miho’s eyes.

Perhaps to hide this fact, Miho lined herself up with the edge of the pool, and arched a graceful dive. Her body broke the surface, but the impact was a little harder than it should have been, not because she had misaligned her entry, but because the water was…

“Wha!” Miho gasped, struggling to the blue, giggling surface and grappling for the pool’s edge.

“Is that…” Jazz began, but Mieke finished for her as she helped pull Miho to safety.


“I like jello as much as the next person,” Miho said, trying to wring the sticky goop from her hair, “but only if naked men are wrestling in it.”

Though they might have liked to ponder that a little more, or at the very least access the Tres Spades Jello Tournament fiction, Jazz contacted Cyprin while Mieke went to change and Miho slipped into a shower stall.

Except when she turned the taps, a steady blue stream of sloppy jello emerged.

“Uuuuugh,” she growled, stomping out and turning on one of the basin taps to find much the same. “Great, guess I’m staying sticky.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Mieke snickered, and Miho swatted her backside.

“I’d have thought HERA would have some kind of protection against stuff like this,” she grumbled.

“I’m not sure anyone anticipated water turning to jello,” Mieke argued, handing Miho a towel.

“Looks like the whole building has been affected,” Jazz reported, striding back into the change room. “Toilets blocked…”

“Showers useless,” Miho huffed.

“… catering is in an uproar,” Jazz finished.

“On the bright side, the jello isn’t trying to hump anyone,” Miho added.

Later that day in Cyprin’s office, they confirmed agents had been unable to discover the origin of the power that had unceremoniously transformed the building’s water to blue jello. Though once again it had only affected the single HERA building – not the primary building, and none of the agents reported anything offsite – the daily operations of the organisation were seriously impeded.

And it didn’t get much better.

When furniture started to move around on its own as if alive – fridges chasing people out of kitchens, chairs refusing to be sat on, tables rolling onto their backs – there was no way work could be done in the building, and most HERA employee were forced to evacuate.

This included Miho and Jazz, who – with armed agents just in case – left for Jazz’s apartment. A black town-car drove carefully in front of them, and there was also one at their flank; their presence actually made her more nervous.

“My very own motorcade,” she smirked, burying her apprehension behind her smile.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” Jazz sniffed.

“Oh believe me, I’d prefer we could do our thing without the need for armed guards,” Miho declared. “And, well, thank you for letting me stay at your place. I know Hydra only didn’t put up a fuss because of what happened yesterday.”

It wasn’t like Miho was rude, but it seemed a bit out of character for her to thank Jazz just like that; Jazz looked at her sideways just brief, and found Miho peering back at her honestly.

“You’re welcome,” Jazz smiled. “We moved to a bigger apartment not so long ago so, he’ll be there later but you probably won’t notice him unless something happens.”

“If Zeus messes up your apartment, I’ll kick his ass,” Miho huffed, and Jazz laughed.

“You’ll have to get in li…”

The conclusion of her sentence was swallowed by a monstrous flash of lightning that hit the lead car, but it was hardly normal lightning. Before Jazz’s reflexes could kick in, the car in front leapt into the air and was engulfed by flame, flipping on its side.

No matter how quickly Jazz slammed on the brakes, there was no avoiding collision, as their car skidded in the treacherous conditions. Desperately, she lurched across the centre console against the vehicle’s momentum and grabbed hold of Miho as best she could, enveloping them both in Hera’s protective shield a mere split second before impact.

Grimacing against the strain of high velocity metal bending around them, the stress of absorbing the speed at which they hit the other car, Jazz could do little more than close her eyes and concentrate. To them both it seemed as if they moved forever, when in truth their crunching spin lasted but a few second then stopped, before the trailing car hit and slammed them up against a brick building.

When the screaming ceased, and the mangled cabin of their vehicle was filled with the two women panting.

They’re in a car wreck, get your mind out of the gutter!

“You okay?” Jazz hissed, immediately tugging away her seatbelt.

“Okay is not the right word,” Miho gasped. “How are we even still alive? We are alive right?”

“Not for long if we don’t get out,” Jazz growled, swivelling in her chair and beginning to kick at her door. “That was Zeus.”

“Figures,” Miho volleyed, searching for something to break her window that was miraculously still intact.

An old-fashioned steering lock caught her attention, and she stretched to reach it on the floor before swinging as best she could. The roar of further thunder-claps and the accompanying lightning muffled the shatter of glass, but Miho was more concerned about the heat growing from the crumpled bonnet and radiating through where the windshield used to be.

“This way,” she barked, beginning her awkward climb out the window.

And Jazz didn’t hesitate to follow, her mind a blur of what she was going to do after they were both free. Through snow and slush, they scrambled away from their vehicle like it might explode at any moment, but Jazz grabbed Miho and pulled her to a stop when Artemis stepped around one of the burning town-cars.

“I suppose it makes sense you’d be guarding Hades’ pet,” Artemis maligned, stepping slowly, deliberately around what looked to be a smouldering car door. “But what a waste.”

“I am no one’s pet,” Miho spat, her nose wrinkling and her lips drawing back into a sneer.

“Ha!” Artemis laughed. “Hera may as well be a golden cage. You can sing all you like, but they will keep you locked away until you forget how to sing.”

“Complex metaphor,” Miho nodded. “I didn’t expect that from someone so stupid looking.”

“Damnit, Miho,” Jazz hissed through her teeth, urging her backwards until the world flashed and was shook by thunder so close it rattled around inside Miho for some time.

“Get out of the way,” Zeus drawled at Jazz, a man seeming several hundred feet tall though he wasn’t dissimilar in height to Hades.

“You have got to stop whatever you’re doing here, Zeus,” Jazz declared, but her tone leaned toward pleading. “Can’t you see what is happening to the world?”

“You would blame me, when all I ever wanted was the one I love returned to my side!” Zeus growled, lifting his hands.

“Oh shit,” Miho murmured, doing her best to resist the urge to close her eyes, but she jumped against Jazz suddenly, when something abruptly splattered against the ground before them, and it wasn’t Zeus’ wrath.

Unless Zeus’ wrath now looked like a bloody, frog-pancake.

“Is that…” Jazz began, but paused when the sky rained down an amphibious hail of Kermit the Frog’s extended family.

Artemis looked to Zeus, but Zeus’ fierce gaze was fixed on Jazz.

And as the wind picked up and began to dance down the street in whirling dervishes, frog filled tornadoes swept in from both ends of the street.

“Hey! Down here ladies!” came a voice above the frognadoes.

Yeah, frognado.

Dripping with frog guts, a sewer grate to Miho’s left shifted away, and head popped up.

“Quickly!” the figure below urged.

Their pinkish-grey eyes peered up, dark grey, curly hair swishing around strong shoulders. A hand reached for Miho’s ankle, but Miho pulled back, just as Jazz dragged her from the path of an arrow fired by Artemis.

“Or you can stay there and be slaughtered if you’d prefer,” the individual below sniffed dismissively, but Miho had already crouched.

“I’m convinced!” she quipped, dropping her butt into the slush before lowering her legs into the manhole.

“Don’t you dare defy me!” Zeus roared, and more lightning cracked against Jazz’s shield, a violent spray of sparks and peacock feathers attesting to the sheer power Jazz had to resist.

“Hurry, hurry,” the unnamed person muttered, very nearly dragging Jazz into the darkness.

“Ack!” Miho squeaked, movement around her feet suddenly leaping toward the brightness of the manhole, revealing a great torrent of fuzzy rat bodies. “No, no, no, no, I hate rats, not rats, not rats, why did it have to be rats?”

“The rats are your friends,” their rescuer declared, taking Miho’s wrist with one hand, and generating a gentle light that illuminated the narrow sewer tunnel.

The frosty sludge.

The grimy bricks.

And a really, really big crocodile.

“Don’t mind Agnes, she’ll guard our retreat, so less talking and more running.”

Miho was then dragged into motion, and Jazz followed closely behind.

As they travelled at speed, other small critters – including mice and several cats – joined their little procession through the undercity, with Agnes lumbering behind. There was no evidence of pursuit, but such were the twists and turns they took, even if Zeus or Artemis had entered the sewers behind them, Miho thought they would have seriously difficulty locating them.

“Where are we going?” Jazz demanded to know.

“As far from angry Zeus as possible, Hera,” their leader replied.

Of course, this caused Jazz to blinked, for her soul’s identity wasn’t common street knowledge. She chose, however, to say nothing, as the tunnel widened suddenly before them, filled with light emanating from a multitude of tiny, delicate, glowing mushrooms.

Miho might have appreciated the sight, if she wasn’t so out of breath having fled the wrath of top tier gods on a rampage, and that there was now a mouse peeking out from her collar.

“Tea?” the nymph offered blithely as she climbed down a ladder into the surprisingly clean and homely space.

“Who are you?” Miho gasped, nearly losing her footing as she also descended.

“Jackie,” they answered, peeking a little cheekily over their shoulder and tossing Miho a wink.

“Well, that explains everything,” Miho snorted. “But thank you for the assist.”

“I can’t get reception down here,” Jazz scowled, her face dark, her eyes now a little watery; she had – after all – just lost several colleagues.

“So Jackie… you’re a…” Miho prompted, heading to where Jackie had a spotless kitchenette.

“Nymph,” they replied cheerfully. “Chamomile?”

“Yeah, I’m definitely in shock,” Miho grunted, finding herself a place to sit, slumping forward a little and dislodging her little mouse friend.

“You’re safe here,” Jackie assured, chorused by the soft prattle of a boiling kettle. “Zeus is fucking crazy.”

“I need to get in contact with HERA,” Jazz blustered, burying her upset behind a veneer of cold calm, “but there is no reception.”

“There’s a landline over there, go ahead and use it,” Jackie said, pointing over at a retro, circular dial phone. “But best you don’t have them ferreting around down here searching for us, there are all sorts of nasty things.”

Her brow twitching, Jazz lifted the phone receiver from its cradle and began to dial, while Miho stared at her shaking hands.

“How did you even know?” she whispered, and Jackie responded.

“It’s my business to know what’s going on in Astoria,” they answered lightly, carefully handing Miho a steaming mug of sweet-smelling tea. “So when Zeus and Artemis make landfall, I’m there to find out why; aaaand there you are, Hades’ squeeze.”

“How do you even know that?” Miho exhaled, lowering the mug without taking a sip.

Bringing up Hades made her realise, that in such a short time she had come to miss him, that in the aftermath of what she had just escaped, his arms around her was what she wanted most.

“Aw, don’t worry,” Jackie soothed, plopping down beside Miho and putting a slightly muscular arm around her shoulder, “I’m sure Hades, and probably some of the other super gods will high-tail it down here once they learn you and Hera were attacked in the open street like that.”

Turning her head, Miho peered at the nymph closely.

There was a strange, androgynous beauty about them, a near hypnotising depth to their eyes that made Miho forget they were in a sewer – until Jazz let out a loud breath and put the phone receiver down.

“Cyprin thinks it’s too dangerous to go back to the beta HQ right now,” she reported, flicking her braid over her shoulder. “There was nothing officially recorded about our plan, or the route we were taking, so it may be there is a mole in HERA feeding Zeus information.”

“Lovely,” Miho sniffed, cracking her neck. “I hope Hades gets the opportunity really kick Zeus’ ass for this.”

“So,” Jackie prompted, slithering her arm away from Miho, “what’s the plan?”

“Can you get us topside?” Jazz asked, but she assumed since the nymph appeared to live in, and move around through the sewers, they had the ability to get just about anywhere.

“Of course,” they smiled – not arrogantly, but simply proud of their own abilities. “Tell me where you need to be, I’ll get you there.”

“Great, I’ll have Hydra meet us, say, behind Queens Library at Broadway?”

“No problem,” Jackie nodded, and Jazz returned to the phone, presumably to call Hydra.

“So what’s gotten Zeus’ panties in such a twist over you?” Jackie then enquired, focusing back on Miho. “Love triangle?”

At this Miho nearly choked on her own breath.

“Hell no!” she coughed. “Zeus is a grade-A cunt, stomping around with an aura of hubris far bigger than lightning bolts he’s killed HERA agents with,” she spat out, the colour rising in her face.

The increase in volume of her voice also caused various rodents milling around to sit up on their hind legs and look over – black beady eyes curious for a second before…


All of them with a quiet whooshing noise, ceased to be rats and mice, and began fluttering around the space on delicate, brightly coloured wings making no sounds at all.

“Umm, which one of you was that?” Jackie frowned, scrutinising a lacy opalescent butterfly that had landed on the back of her hand.

“It wasn’t you?” Jazz asked.

“Well don’t look at me,” Miho shrugged, but Jazz was looking at her.

“Okay, coincidence is one thing, but if I ignore all the circumstantial evidence much longer, Miho, readers are going to get pissed off.”

“About friggin’ time I got some super powers,” Miho nodded. “But, my transmutation skills are just as out of practice as my necromancy,” she replied.

“All that happened at HERA HQ, only happened when you were there,” Jazz insisted, narrowing her eyes and batting a couple of fluttering insects away. “And then the frogs on the street? You were there.”

“So were you,” Miho pointed out, peering at her hands like they were the source.

“Hey, frog and butterflies are cool,” Jackie grinned. “Do something else.”

“If it’s me, I’m not doing it on purpose,” Miho admitted. “So in advance, I’m sorry if you end up as a butterfly, or a frog, or a sentient piece of furniture.”

“You’d better no,” Jazz scowled. “As if this isn’t already complicated enough.”

“What was that thing Zeus dug up?” Miho exhaled heavily, shaking her head.

“You know about that?” Jackie piped up, leaning their face closer to Miho.

“You mean, you don’t know?” Miho countered, and Jackie’s brow twitched. “Isn’t it your business to know?”

“Well obviously I won’t know this until you tell me,” Jackie volleyed. “So spill it. What about Chaos?”

“Chaos is right,” Miho sniffed. “Zeus dug up a glowy thing, and now it’s in me.”

“Ooooh, well that’s a whole different level of pain,” Jackie declared, and their expression made Miho feel genuinely uncomfortable. “Zeus stopped flailing about in a tantrum a while ago and started making plans to retake his position at the head of the Pantheon, but he didn’t have enough power, even after recruiting other gods to his cause.”

Though Jazz wanted to get in contact with Hydra as quickly as possible, she couldn’t pass up this kind of information, and began listening intently.

“And where better than in New York to find congealed deposits of Chaos’ energy?” Jackie smiled, like it was all no big deal. “I’ll be honest though,” they continued. “It’s a bit weird you ended up with it – how’d that happen?”

“It just did,” Miho answered. “Hades and I encountered Zeus and friends uncovering this angry ball of light, that then just came at me and… poof…”

Lightly, she tapped her chest.

“It just, seeped in,” she sighed. “Aaand, now it’s apparently frogs and butterflies.”

“Chaos sought you out,” Jackie concluded. “Ouch.”

“Well, how do I get it out?” Miho exhaled, then swallowed.

Jackie shrugged.

“No clue,” they admitted. “But the saying shit happens? Oh, shit is going to happen because of you from now on.”

“Because I needed more of that in my life,” Miho grunted, looking to Jazz. “HERA can help with this right? I mean, Chaos, can’t stay in me, look at the city right now – the last thing it needs is more anarchy.”

“Amen to that,” Jackie agreed. “So, maybe you should get your boy on the horn?”

With a nod, Jazz returned to the phone to contact Hydra, while Miho stared intently at the butterfly sitting on the back of her hand.

“Cheeseburger,” she whispered, flaring at the inset, but it did nothing but slowly flap its wings in contempt. “Bah, I’m not hungry anyway.”

“Understandable,” Jackie smiled sadly. “I doubt any of those HERA guys survived the crash.”

“Way to make me feel better, Jackie,” Miho grumbled, lifting her eyes to focus on Jazz.

Miho could see the strain through Jazz’s professionalism, and it made her angry.

“Zeus is going to pay for thi…”


The butterflies disappeared, and tiny sparks filled the air; agitated, white oscillations cutting jagged paths through the air.

“Ahh, if you’re going to explode, could you maybe wait until we get to street level?” Jackie pleaded, and Miho closed her eyes against their burn.

“Let’s go,” Jazz prompted, slipping her hand around Miho’s and pulling her to her feet.

Without Jackie, Jazz wondered if they’d ever have made it out of the sewers. The smell had faded to the very edge of their awareness, but the gloom seemed to stick to their skin.

When natural light finally returned, they blinked furiously against the bright, and Hydra had wrapped his arms around Jazz before her eyes had adjusted to the glare.

“Don’t tell me to let you go,” he growled against her neck, ignoring both Miho and Jackie who stood close by.

“Believe me,” Jazz murmured, just as happy to feel his warmth as he seemed to desire hers, “I’d like to stay just like this, but…”

“It’s too dangerous out in the open,” he filled in, separating from her enough to look into her face, “but you’re not hurt are you?”

“No,” she smiled, “but things are a whole lot more complicated now. We’d better get going.”

“Thanks for the help, Jackie,” Miho said, and the nymph gave her a bright smile that twinkled in their eyes.

“No problem,” they grinned, giving Miho a light hip bump. “I could leave a rat with you, you know, in case you need my help again.”

“Umm, no rats,” Miho rushed, shaking her head furiously, and Jackie laughed.

“Eh, I’ll be keeping tabs on you anyway,” they chuckled. “Stay out of Zeus’ way okay?”

“That’s the plan,” Miho nodded, and joined Jazz and Hydra at his car.

Astoria: In Chaos – Part Six


Day 29

Miho woke before Hades, despite the fact he didn’t really need to sleep at all. He was lying on his stomach, one arm draped over hers, his head facing her.

“Well, now you’ve gone and done it,” she said to herself. “An Olympian god has a toothbrush in your bathroom.”

Chewing her lower lip, she continued the study of his face, until the light trace of her finger down his cheek roused him from slumber.

“Good morning, Sleeping Beauty,” Miho smiled, unable to keep her lips from turning upward.

The slow blink of his amethyst eyes as sleep slowly receded, was really cute.

Suddenly, however, Miho found herself pressed into the mattress, Hades’ weight against her, and her lips captured.

“Gah!” she gasped, when he released her. “What was that for?”

“Do I really require a reason to kiss you first thing in the morning?” he queried, eye contact so close. “Especially when you’re thinking such cheeky thoughts.”

“I was doing no such thing,” she huffed, wriggling a little, but she fell still suddenly when she felt his hand trail slowly down her torso and over her hips. “Okay, maybe I was… pondering,” she corrected, inhaling as Hades lifted his chest away from hers, in order to slide his hand to the hem of her nightgown and beneath.

“Pondering what, exactly?” he prompted, brushing just his fingertips through the fine, manicured triangle of her bush.

“Uh,” she breathed, spreading her legs a little wider in open invitation. “You know? I don’t remember.”

“Hmm, okay,” he whispered, speaking the words against her earlobe before nipping at it lightly. “Why don’t you tell me what you are thinking now?”

“I… am thinking Mieke won’t be up yet,” she sighed, his fingers beginning slow, lazy circles around her clit, “so there’s no way she’ll interrupt us this time.”

“You’re thinking about Agent Genever?” he snorted, biting down a little harder, and Miho let out a little yelp, soothed by the probing pressure of several fingers wormed inside her.

“Not anymore,” she exclaimed breathily, her hips lifting to meet his hand each time he plunged into her with increasing speed. “Only you,” she muttered. “All I can see, and think, and feel… is you.”

“Good,” he murmured against her skin, his tongue wandering down her throat. “Means you aren’t thinking about your neighbours hearing us.”

“What neighbours?” she panted, gripping his shoulders and urging him to roll to the side.

Taking the hint, Hades moved, and Miho’s hand dove into his boxer briefs to stroke him in rhythm with each lusty penetration.

When Miho’s ministrations began to falter, her breathing irregular and her eyes rolled back a little, she squeezed out broken words that made no sense – just hitching, utterances meant to reflect the incoherence the force of her orgasm flushed through her body.

A euphoric heat.

A beautiful pain.

A shudder and complete loss of bodily control, but safe wrapped in Hades’ arms.

“Not a bad way to start the day hmm?” he smiled, stroking her hair as the quivering subsided, and focus returned to her lidded eyes.

“Lucky I’m still conscious,” she eventually managed, kissing him fiercely before throwing off the covers and straddling his legs. “Or you’d not get this,” she grinned, wrapping her lips around his cock and sliding it into her mouth slowly.

“Maybe, I am not… finished with you yet,” he grated out, torn between the urge to push his head back into the pillow, or watch the tenacious bob of Miho’s head.

“Uh huh,” she hummed against his head, trailing the tip of her tongue around the ridge of his foreskin, following each pulsating vein.

When she dared to graze her teeth against the supple skin, Hades lifted his head a little – not in alarm, but perhaps more in surprise.

“This,” she smirked, looking along his solid abs to his face, “is for the presumptuous toothbrush placement.”

But her nibbling was gentle, not cautious, but certainly careful, from the tip to the base, before she sucking one testicle into her mouth.

“Oh… gah…” Hades exclaimed as her hand resumed its grip on his length. “Miho… you…”

Releasing him from her mouth made a delicious, wet slapping noise, and again Miho lifted her head.

“That look on his face,” she thought. “I can make the God of the Underworld make that face.”

Somewhere in the back of her mind she acknowledged the enormity of this, that so powerful a creature would surrender so completely to her.

“Second drawer beside the tampons,” she instructed, clambering up onto her knees and shuffling her body over his. “Unless you want me to finish this our here.”

Hades was already fumbling for the drawer, fishing around… tossing a tampon back in, before he managed to grab a condom – which Miho immediately snatched from him.

Her hips pressed down, her enflamed lips so drenched with desire, folded around his hardness. Meeting his gaze, Miho rocked herself against him as she placed the corner of the condom foil between her teeth, teasing the edge with her tongue.

“You have a wicked streak,” he murmured, stroking up and down her thighs before taking hold of her hips.

Slowly she tore across the small packet and withdrew its contents.

“Maybe, just a little bit,” she grinned, scooting back enough to place the condom over the head of his cock, and roll it gradually down.

“I will let you get away with it, for now,” he smiled back, but his jaw was tensed until she leaned forward all the way over him and kissed him again.

Wriggling her pelvis, she positioned him at her entrance, aching in her depths for the sensation of complete and utter fullness, for an internal friction met with external stimulation that last time saw her black out.

“A man can wait only so long, Miho,” Hades growled, digging his fingers into her ass cheeks and lightly pulling down, but she resisted him – enough for her to know he was being very mindful not to over-power her.

“As a god, you have all eternity,” she hissed against his lips.

“I only want eternity if I can spend it buried in you,” he rumbled, and this time was successful in breaking her mild resistance.

She enveloped him, and both closed their eyes to savour the sweetness, their pulses racing, their bodies united.

When that moment broke, Miho took Hade’s hands from her butt and interlaced their fingers. Her steamy gaze burned into him as she undulated her body deliberately, moderately, sliding him almost completely out before rolling forward until she could submerge him no more.

Sweat began to shimmer across their skin, the salty sheen evidence of their increasingly energetic entanglement.

Squeezing her hands once, Hades unravelled their fingers, and she continued to ride him, he took a firm hold on one breast, and pinched the nipple of the other between his thumb and forefinger. She winced then bit down on her lip, the backward tilt of her head signal enough she enjoyed the sharp sting of each pluck against her pert nub.

“Yesss,” she breathed, desperately digging down, leaning forward to bite against his neck, whimpering as her body approached that place were its movements were driven only by the instinct to feel that explosion of ecstasy again.

But, she wanted to hold off, wanted him to cum first, and so she kissed him hard and filled his mouth with her tongue, focusing on her mission, clinging to hold back the swiftly approaching storm of raw bliss.

Hades flinched, his own hips rising up to meet the downward motion of Miho’s, until his ass didn’t even touch the bed. He thrust with the kind of passion that still frightened him, but was helpless against. Miho’s taste surrounded him completely, the radiant heat they shared an intoxication potent enough to push him to the very limits of his self-control.

And when he came, he pounded into her roughly, bouncing her onto him so hard he feared she might break, but Miho just gripped one of his wrists and pressed his fingers to her clit, grinding against him as he rode out his high.

“Hades… yes, ye…eh…eh…” she panted, and Hades felt it when she came, squeezing him tightly, milking the very last of his offering into the condom, until she flopped forward against him.

Heaving to catch her breath, swallowing to endure the eruption that at first cause her muscles to contracted, then spasm before relaxing, Miho clung to wakefulness with her lips pressed to Hades’ neck. Lightly his fingertips ghosted up and down her spine and she shivered again, nearly peaking again from just that feeling alone.

“For god’s sake… don’t move,” she exhaled unevenly, twitching against and around him still.

“For my, sake?” he chuckled, rolling her onto her back.

“You know ex-actly… what I mean,” she huffed, bleary eyed as she looked up at him. “Wha…?”

The top of Hades head was suddenly all she could see, and a bolt of lightning struck her sharply as he closed his lips around her screaming clit and suckled softly.

“No, no,” she growled. “I really will pass out if you, if you do that to me again.”

He lifted his head, his chin smeared with her juices.

“You are safe here with me,” he told her seriously, flicking out his tongue against her.

“You’re going to kill me,” she whined. “Hades… if I die…”

“You won’t die,” he chuckled, smoothing his fingers from her pucker, back to the welcoming smile of her pussy. “I won’t let you die.”

“Son-of-a…” she gasped as he drove into her, long digits curling upward and dragging out in broad strokes that had her back arching beyond her control.

With his free hand, Hades forced her flat against the mattress, and plunged vigorously to her core, while his tongue assaulted the angry red of her swollen clit. Miho writhed as much as she could, held down as she was, until her head jerked back, her mouth dropped open, and all parts of her became stiff.

Lapping in long motions, drinking up her sweet tang mixed with sweat, Hades continued until Miho fell slack, then moved in beside her.

Her head had drooped to the side, her eyes closed, and though her breathing remained heavy as it fought to feed the wild race of her heart, it soon began to even out. Hades moved away only briefly to discard the condom, before settling Miho back in his arms, gliding his fingers through her hair until – several minutes later – Miho began to stir and opened her eyes.

“Mmm,” she murmured weakly, her body delightfully heavy, the ache of her muscles reminder enough of how strenuous their ‘morning exercise’ had been. “You can’t keep doing that.”

“No?” he queried, kissing her tenderly.

“Seriously,” she sighed opulently. “I’m not sure the human body was built to withstand orgasms that powerful. Blacking out cannot be healthy.”

“I will ask Dr. Phelps, shall I?” Hades smirked.

“Only if I can be there when you do,” Miho volleyed, nipping at his chest.

“Which somehow leads me to the one thing we didn’t discuss last night,” Hades segued. “Have you reached a decision about working for HERA?”

“Hmm,” she hummed, swirling a fingertip around his left nipple. “It was difficult to tell Detective Yashitori selective truths,” she admitted. “But at the same time… I get it.”

Miho closed her eyes and smushed her cheek against Hades’ firm chest.

“With you and I, and the toothbrush… you don’t think me cruising into a job without even an interview, smacks of nepotism?”

“Your interview has been all I’ve seen you do so far as a journalist,” he answered. “And I’m not offering because of how I feel about you romantically.”

“Tongues will wag,” she warned, flicking her tongue against his skin.

“Will that bother you?”

“Me? No, I’ll just tell them they’re jealous I get to black out on a regular basis,” she grinned. “I’m more concerned about your reputation, picking up strays. You have to lead, and if your subordinates think you…”

At this Hades chuckled.

“Anyone intimating, alluding or outright declaring you owe your job to special treatment will be reprimanded,” he told her clearly. “And if they have time to wag their tongues, they’re clearly not focusing their all on work.”

“Well, I do need a job,” she noted airily, “and your insurance plan is top rate.”

“So, you agree?” he prompted, tipping her chin up a little, and his hopeful expression made Miho’s heart melt.

“You’d better not go looking at me like that at the office,” she chuckled, pecking him on the lips lightly.

“That’s the advantage of being the Underworld Princess,” he smirked, “I can look at whoever I like, however I like, wherever I like.”

“Uh huh,” she sniffed, throwing off the blankets but rising gingerly against the twinge of her recently tensed muscles. “Brrr,” she shuddered, unaware just how cold the apartment was snuggled up to her beau. “It’s freezing.”

“It did snow yesterday,” he pointed out, and Miho grabbed her robe, wrapping it around her naked body as she went to the window, outside of which was still dim.

“Less snow, and more blizzard I think,” she reported with a frown.

Looking over her shoulder, she caught the tail end of Hades sighing.


“The power of Olympus and its gods, especially the top tier, keeps balance on Earth and everything in its proper place,” he explained, also exiting to join her by the window, sans robe. “With Zeus away from his throne and others joining him, it looks as if Earth is finally beginning to reflect the discord of the Pantheon.”

“That isn’t good,” Miho frowned, shuddering a little, as much from the thought as the cold.

Hades wrapped his arms around her and gave her a light squeeze.

“I’ll need to return to Olympus,” he declared soberly. “If Persephone has been unable to keep the seasons from changing, the top tier gods need to meet.”

“Persephone? If seasons are her um, jurisdiction? Portfolio? With the weather like this, could she be hurt, or… can gods even get sick?” Miho queried, turning around to look into Hades’ face.

“Not from illnesses the affect mortals, no,” Hades answered, “and I doubt very much, this is about Persephone alone. After breakfast, I’ll check, just to be sure.”

“Well I’m sorry to say what I threw together last night is all that was left that was edible, unless you want cup noodles for breakfast,” Miho confessed. “Left my groceries at the mall with my phone.”

“We can go out for breakfast,” he determined, sliding his hand down one of her arms to take her hand and give it a tug toward the door. “I know this excellent little vegan café not far fro…”

But Miho had planted her feet.

“You’re not going to tell me you’re into cross-fit too are you?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at him suspiciously. “Because you know, I love meat…”

“I have gotten that impression, yes,” Hades interrupted, an uncharacteristically cheeky smile reflecting in his eyes. “I was joking. You pick the venue, I will cope.”

“I’m just saying,” she clarified, allowing him to lead her toward the bathroom, talking as they go, “by all means eat all the wheat grass and spinach you like…”

“What’s wrong with spinach?” he piped up.

“Mushy, flimsy, limp,” she listed.

“Hmm, could the limp part be the one that bothers you most?” he questioned, reaching in to turn on the shower with the kind of familiarity of someone who’s done so a million times.

“I’m not the one finding sexual innuendo in everything I say,” she pointed out, voice suddenly syrup as she pushed her robe from her shoulders and let it slip to the floor.

Goosepimples assaulted her skin and made her nipples almost painfully hard, but the bathroom was quickly filling with the gently waft of steam, and the promise of further exercise.

It took Miho some time to locate her winter clothing. When she and Hades exited her apartment building into the morning frost, however, she still felt underdressed. Hades on the other hand, dressed in his suit from yesterday, didn’t seem all that bothered, but quickly made his way to where he’d parked his car.

Which was completely frozen over.

“Roads haven’t been ploughed,” Miho noted, continuously moving her feet.

“I doubt the city was expecting such severe weather at this time of year,” Hades noted, looking over the frozen shell that enveloped his car.

There were very few vehicles on the road – it seemed even locals of Astoria, of New York thought better of venturing outside.

“I can go back up and get some cold water?” Miho suggested, but Hades was glancing about.

When he was done, and Miho noted there was no one in sight, Hades places his bare hand against the ice. It popped and screamed, then cracked like glass, before falling away in jagged pieces.

“Or you could do that,” Miho sniffed, eagerly folding herself into the front passenger seat when Hades opened the door for her.

Once closed inside, Hades had to fight to get the engine to start, but it finally turned over and Miho cranked the heater.

“You know, after yesterday, I’m surprised you weren’t called away last night,” she thought aloud. “With all that’s going on…”

“Had something else transpired, I would have been notified immediately,” he assured her, carefully navigating the icy road.

“Are they connected? The zombies and the weather?” she asked, but continued to hypothesise. “But what is even the point of these zombie attacks? The mall I mean; what’s the endgame?”

“There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of a correlation,” Hades responded, slowing for a red light, “except…”

And he glanced at her.

“What’s that look for?” she ruffled. “Just because I was there for three of the attacks doesn’t make this about me – I mean, that would make for a pretty arrogant story, right? Not to mention there have been other incidents involving the zombies where I wasn’t there.”

“I know,” he nodded. “And I was not suggesting you had anything to do with them.”

“My necromancy is a little rusty,” she revealed.

It was a tense journey, with Hades even finding it difficult to safely drive – when abruptly he pulled the car to the curb, hitting the brakes in a way that had them sliding for some distance before finally coming to a stop.

“What the hell?” Miho blurted, not looking into her lap for fear she might find her wildly beating heart there.

The expression on Hades’ face, however, caused Miho to swallow further exclamations.

“What is it?” she queried quietly.

“Zeus,” he replied flatly. “He is close by, others too.”

“Here, here?” Miho scowled. “In Astoria, even after you caught Minotaur?”

“I am certain my brother is here,” Hades confirmed, then looked to her. “Stay here.”

“Stay here, are you kidding me?” she snorted, unclicking her seatbelt as Hades exited the car.

“Miho,” he admonished, but she didn’t let him continue.

“Don’t even,” she said curtly. “Until I sign off on that employment contract, you’re not my boss.”

“This isn’t about taking orders, Miho,” he told her, his eyes darkening. “Zeus can be dangerous and spiteful, and if he thinks he can gain an advantage over me by using you, I believe he will.”

“And you said there were others with him,” she countered, assuming a stubborn posture. “So, if you go after him alone, it’ll be one against many; that isn’t something I’m willing to just sit in the car for.”

“This is a situation where you just cannot help,” he insisted, taking her shoulders, but still she glared at him with dauntless obstinacy.

“I can watch your back, that’s something,” she argued, lowering her brows when he looked set to offer another rebuke. “It’s not in my nature to sit on the side-lines, mortal or not, I accept the risks that come with chasing the truth.”

Sighing, Hades cuddled her to his chest.

“Snuggles can’t win arguments, Hades,” she told him, voice slightly muffled.

“I know,” he sighed, resigned, “So stay behind me, and if I tell you to run, do not hesitate or sass, just go.”

“The not sassing part is going to be tough,” she murmured as he released her, but straightened her posture as he turned down the sidewalk.

She followed closely behind, trying to match the indents he made in the snow, until he stopped outside a building site, the fence surrounding it boarded to hide whatever lay beyond.

“Here,” Hades said in a low voice, easily pulling away part of the barrier to let them through.

“Usually you’re telling me to keep out of fenced off areas,” Miho whispered wryly, trying to sound nonchalant, “not breaking into them with me.”

If Hades found this to be amusing, he didn’t show it – all shadows and foreboding as they began their way through scaffolding to a metal stairway leading down.

Swallowing hard, Miho tried desperately to ensure her footfalls made no sound, that she kept her balance on the icy surfaced – Hades did not look back to see if she was fine, either trusting she could manage or focused on the fact his rebellious brother was so close by.

After several meters voices began to drift to them, and Hades slowed his pace. There was something so very unnerving seeing a man of his stature tip-toe, and it increased the rate of Miho’s rapidly beating heart.

“… will turn the tide,” a deep voice declared smugly.

“Perhaps,” followed a female. “If…”

“If, Artemis?” the first voice growled, as Hades finally turned to Miho and motioned for her to crouch in order to stay concealed on the landing they had reached.

Inching to the edge, slightly at Hades’ back, Miho spied six individuals, two of whom seemed to reach out with just their existence in invisible waves that shook her.

Like Hades.

The other four were covered in dirt, shovels and picks lying around them.

Much like Hades, the man who could only have been Zeus, was not what Miho had expected, except perhaps for the mean glint in his eyes and the sneer on his lips – he was the epitome is sour, or arrogant, of belligerent.

But, her gaze was drawn to the pulsating white orb nestled in the palm of Zeus’ hand, a light no larger than a tennis ball, but sparking erratically with an energy Miho felt immediately fearful of.

“With this, Poseidon will have no choice but to side with me, and Hades’ betrayal will be undone,” Zeus smirked, closing his fingers around his treasure.

But the moment that light began to ooze through his grip, slithering through the air in sinuous streaks that seemed to cut through reality, Zeus looked less certain.

Miho recoiled from the edge as those crackling serpents coiled upward to their vantage point, threatening to give them away.

“Go,” Hades hissed, only just loud enough for Miho to hear, and she moved to comply as she had agreed, but found herself suddenly yanked back by the ankle.

If she had not been dragged into view – mid-air – above where Zeus and Artemis stood staring with necks craned, Miho’s yelp certainly would have drawn their attention.

Desperately she reached for Hades’ hand, his arm outstretched toward her with equal urgency.

Their fingers brushed, but parted, leaving Miho dangling upside down beyond his reach.

“What, is this?” Zeus snapped, his eyes flashing with lightning.

“Uhhmm,” Miho uttered, trying to wriggle free as the ribbons curled up her legs and began to wind around her waist.

She wanted to call for Hades, but if she did…

Hades’ actions gave himself away.

The purple gloom of his aura stretched forth bony fingers to grasp her, pin-pointing his position for Zeus and Artemis to see, but the former’s lightning slashed at its attempts to retrieve Miho leaving her stranding amid a frightening storm of godly power.

“Hades!” Zeus shouted, a sound booming with anger, a rage that tore through the cold and caused Miho to fall still, even as the flashing streams sputtered up her torso.

Gasping, she echoed Zeus, but her was a breathy plea.

“Should have stayed in the car,” some distant part of her thought, tensing against the throbbing slivers as they reached her throat.

“Help…” she mouthed, all air from her lungs crushed by sudden contraction, a violent boa constrictor squeezing so tightly she thought she might pop.

With his aura still struggling against Zeus, evading Artemis’ where he could, Hades pushed himself up, took two swift strides and then jumped. His arms closed around her, interrupting her silent scream, and together they fell like stones at the other gods’ feet.

The other figures, demis Hades might have recognised had he not been so preoccupied, quickly surrounded them, and Hades rolled over Miho protectively and glowered the full force of his opposition.

“Zeus, I did not come here to fight,” he announced, his tone a thin wire stretched almost to its limits. “Stay your hand.”

“Stay my hand?” Zeus snarled, struggling to control his outrage. “When here you are, sneaking like the plague rat you are, poisoning the Pantheon against me.”

“This is not how we should discuss our differences,” Hades pressed, ever so quickly glancing down at Miho, who looked up at him with wide eyes – seemingly in shock. “Don’t you see what is happening out there?”

“And you would hold me responsible for that,” Zeus snorted, stepping toward them, and in response Hades rocked back to his feet, drawing Miho up with him. “You were the one who defied the King of Olympus.”

“Because you were wrong,” Hades volleyed, trying to stay calm as he and Miho were surrounded.

Zeus he could go toe to toe with – Zeus, Artemis and a pack of demis? Perhaps not.

“You chased Hera away, chased her to misery yet still demanded she belonged to you,” Hades continued, eying all about him. “You were so desperate to control her again you leapt at Deandra’s ruse and put Olympus and Earth in peril: selfish, personal desire from a god – my brother – who I know to be better than that.”

“Selfishness is taking the Pantheon for your own the moment you spied the slightest chance!” Zeus roared, then pointed at Miho. “And I’m going to take it back.”

Hades’ arms tensed around Miho who still seemed dazed, only half hearing what was going on around her.

Drums were sounding, thumping, thumping, somewhere inside her, a rhythm broken by the heavy pounding of her heart. It felt as if the earth was shaking, that she was about to lose her balance and topple into nothingness, despite the strength of Hades’ embrace – and the voices around her seemed muffled, garbled, rearranged in a confusing muddle.

“You may occupy my throne for now, brother,” Zeus grated, “but I will be taking it back, along with that mortal.”

“Definitely, not,” Hades dropped flatly, his expression darkening, his lips peeling back a little more. “If you want to return to Olympus, you will have to win back the trust of your family, not act like a terrorist or create chaos on Earth.”

“Earth is insignificant!” Zeus roared, and with the others close – getting closer – Zeus reached out as if he could simply pluck Miho from Hades’ grasp.

“Hades,” Miho whispered, burying her face in his chest, but it was the structure that answered. Shuddering violently, steel girders cried out, rivets popped and flew dangerously across the frigid space. Perhaps the weight of ice and snow had compromised the structural integrity of the building, but the way pieces of metal and wood fell around them, then continued to fire about, suggested something else was at work.

The chaos provided Hades a moment to dodge past Zeus for the stairs.

“Hades!” Artemis barked, leaping into his path.

The glowing aura of her bow and arrow aimed at his chest, her expression a little unsure – hunting was one thing, firing about the God of the Underworld was another.

“You are wrong to follow him like this, Artemis,” Hades told her, his own aura looming to provide support. “You know his actions further destabilise both worlds.”

“He is the rightful king,” she argued, drawing the bowstring back further.

Rather than respond again with words, Hades opened his mouth, but swiped at Artemis with the reaper, forcing her into defence.

As Hades burst out onto the street, blasted by a fiercely swirling storm of icy shards, the construction site began to topple. Debris tumbled from the very top first, and Hades and Miho’s retreat down the road was echoed by the clatter of destruction, muffled only by the howl of biting wind.

“I’m all right,” Miho told Dr. Phelps, though the serious gaze from Hades kept her lying down.

“heartrate and blood pressure are normal.” Dr. Phelps said aloud, pretty much ignoring her.

“Blood work?” Hades prompted, his arms crossed.

“Pathology is working on it.”

“Yoohoo, right here,” Miho sniffed.

“We can’t ignore what happened, Miho,” Hades explained. “Whatever Zeus was digging for, sought you out, was absorbed into your body.”

“And it felt like being inside a pinball machine,” she described, “hitting everything at full tilt and ricocheting every which way, but now I feel okay. Hades you – you have to go to Olympus.”

“I know,” he sighed, “but I also need to make sure you’re safe.”

The conversation seemed to go around in circles, until Cyprin arrived with Hydra and Jazz, and they stepped outside to talk.

“Maybe you should take her with you,” Cyprin suggested. “Zeus surely wouldn’t risk trying to infiltrate Olympus with everyone on high alert.”

“I thought about that,” Hades exhaled, “but the top tier gods could be occupied for some time working on a solution to our current situation – I will not be able to ensure her safety personally any more there, than here.”

“This building has a dungeon too right? If I remember correctly, the other one was pretty secure,” Hydra smirked. “Mostly.”

“That’s a bit harsh,” Jazz chided, but then looked thoughtful. “Leave her with me until you come back. We’ll stay in the barracks, do paperwork, until you return.”

Hydra blinked.


“I’m not a baby,” Miho grouched from her infirmary room door, “and I don’t need sitting..”

Hades looked set to rebuke, but Miho continued.

“… but I don’t fancy a run-in with Zeus. So, if it’s the dungeon or hanging out with Agent Mann here, I choose the latter. She’ll be a good role model.”

Was she being serious? Hard to tell.

“Promise you won’t leave her side,” Hades frowned.

“I’m an adult, Hades,” Miho snorted, patting his cheek firmly. “Not an idiot looking to get swatted like a bug. I’m not going to go looking for trouble.”

“Oh?” he uttered, taking her hand. “Precedent would suggest otherwise.”

“What could I possibly get up to in a HERA building under Agent Mann’s supervision?”

“Hm,” Hades mused. “No doubt a lot.”

“Go save our worlds,” Miho grinned, pulling him to her lips, speaking against them. “I’ll be a good girl.”

Reluctantly, Hades stepped away from her with a curt nod, offering Miho no more than that before he departed, leaving her with only Jazz and Hydra.

“I’ll be out in a moment,” Miho breathed, chewing her lower lip a minute before turning back into her room.

Warning Miho against any strenuous activities, Dr. Phelps let her leave the infirmary with Jazz and Hydra, the latter seeming quite disgruntled.

“Is it me you’re pissed off at or Hades?” Miho asked him bluntly.

“This isn’t pissed off,” Hydra sniffed, tipping his chin in an arrogant way that reminded Miho of Zeus.

“Right, right,” Miho nodded, not taking his attitude lying down. “I suppose pissed off is a giant nine-headed serpent thing running amok through the streets?”

“Three, actually,” Hydra corrected tersely.

“Three streets?”

“Three heads,” Hydra growled, aware he was being baited, but unable to keep from biting.

“Hmm, so the sucky attitude is about an inferiority complex then; I guess that makes sense,” Miho mused, looking purposefully thoughtful, even as Hydra tried to cross behind Jazz toward Miho.

“Okay, that’s enough, both of you,” Jazz snapped, catching Hydra’s arm to hold him back, even though she knew he wouldn’t actually hurt Miho.

Okay, maybe she didn’t quite know – for his hatred of Hades and the gods in general still ran deep, and it was clear Miho had endeared herself to the God of the Underworld. Jazz had read it all over Hades’ face, his body language, when she had arrived at the infirmary once again on account of the wayward journalist.

The way he looked at Miho went far and beyond how he’d ever looked at her – things she now found in Hydra’s consideration of her.

“We’re all going to get along, or I’m going to be the one getting pissed off,” she added, then looked to Miho. “Miss Fujiwara…”

“Miho,” Miho piped up.

Miho,” Jazz amended, “if you really have somehow stolen something Zeus wants, you’re going to need both myself and Hydra on your side…”

“Okay, I know, I’m sorry,” Miho sighed. “Biting off more than I can chew is sort of my trademark, but this is the first time I’ve ever actually regretted it… sort of.”

“Sort of?” Hydra frowned, and Jazz glanced at him in warning.

“Well, I don’t regret going with Hades into that construction site,” Miho elaborated. “Zeus and Artemis and all those others against Hades…”

“What did you think you could do to help?” Hydra pressed, and Jazz rolled her eyes, pressing the elevator call button.

“More than sit in the car where it was safe and let Hades get hurt where I couldn’t put myself between him and his enemy,” Miho glared, stopping to inflict the full force of her fierceness at Hydra, and though he was certainly not afraid of her, he had to admit she definitely had a way about her that some would find intimidating.

Her courage and conviction he also had to pay – if it was he and Jazz, he’d have said the same thing.

“Powerless sucks,” Hydra conceded, even managing a slight, understanding smile. “You’ve got balls, I’ll give you that.”

“Yeah well, right now my balls are on lockdown,” Miho grunted. “So, Agent Mann…”

“Jazz,” Jazz revised, just as Miho had.

Jazz,” Miho repeated. “What’s the plan?”

“The barracks is on sub level one,” Jazz answered, ignoring a quiet groan from Hydra. “For now, you and I stay put inside this building.”

Miho wasn’t used to following – a free spirit in every sense – but she was afraid of Zeus, and what it might also mean for Hades if she got herself captured like some stupid damsel in distress.

“Yes Ma’am,” Miho saluted, and Jazz shook her head.

This was going to be a loooong assignment.

That evening, Miho finally laid her head down and stared up at the ceiling of the barrack’s sleeping quarters. Several others, including Jazz, were already asleep, but Miho’s mind buzzed.

The day had not been anything she’d expected, but lately that actually seemed the norm. What else seemed to have slipped so quickly into familiarity, was having Hades close at hand, and it was his face she saw last before she drifted off to sleep, and thoughts of his lonely toothbrush back in her apartment.

In sleep, she ran. Her footfalls crunched heavily in the snow, while Zeus, Artemis and a pack of rabid creatures from Greek mythology snapped at her heels. She knew she had to keep going, not to slow, just get around the next corner and Hades would be there to hold her safe – but when she turned that corner she found just another street of ice and cold and the closing shadows of her foes behind her.

From somewhere above, the wind seemed to pulse in a heavy rhythm – not a helicopter – but the terrible beat of giant wings that caused cars to roll over, street signs to pull free of the asphalt, and glass to shatter.

“Hades!” she panted, the purple glow of his aura somewhere ahead, just out of reach, and Zeus wrapped his fingers around her arm and jolted her to a jarring stop. “Get off!” she roared, wheeling around with her free fist clenched, but that wasn’t how Zeus ended up cartwheeling away from her, collecting the rest of Miho’s pursuers in the process.

In the white of the snow, Miho stood in a deep darkness, but she didn’t know where it came from.

Day 30

“You look like shit,” Jazz told Miho, holding out a cup of coffee when the other woman emerged into the mess hall. “Feeling okay?”

“Nightmares,” Miho admitted. “Other than that, just peachy.”

Jazz studied her carefully, searching for any visible changes the unknown energy might have caused.

“You’re going to make me blush if you stare any longer,” Miho announced, ignoring the curious gaze of several agents partaking of their breakfast. “Would you like me to twirl?”

“Sure, twirl away,” Jazz shrugged.

Despite wearing a pair of borrowed sweat pants and a hoodie, Miho’s pirouette was quite graceful – she even managed to complete it without spilling the coffee from her mug.

“That was pretty good,” Jazz acknowledged. “Do you dance?”

“Used to,” Miho stretched, grunting a little as she took a seat. “But, I ended up not having the time for it, running around after you and Hades and the likes trying to cover up the truth.”

“Speaking of running after Hades,” Jazz prompted, lifting an eyebrow, urging Miho to elaborate on that idea.

“Oh? You want all the juicy details huh?” Miho chuckled over the rim of her mug. “Right here?”

She glanced about, noting the few agents who remained look quickly away.

“Hmm, is that a personal inquiry, or is it professional?” Miho continued, tilting her head a little.

For a moment Jazz thought about this, unsure exactly which it was.

“Both,” she said finally. “Hades is someone I admire; holding the Pantheon together in Zeus’ absence, especially now in the face of recent events, must be no small feat…”

“You think I might get in the way? Be a liability?” Miho filled in, but Jazz shook her head.

“Irrespective of who you are or what you do, Hades makes no decision lightly,” she expounded.  ”If he wants you around then he’s weighed up the pros and cons….”

“So wounded you think there’d be cons,” Miho pouted in an exaggerated fashion.

“It’s not about that,” Jazz went on. “It’s about whether you’re actually more to him than a vessel for whatever Zeus is after.”

“So if I was to get swatted by Zeus, it would actually make a difference to you whether I was with Hades?” Miho chuckle.

It was all quite serious, but Miho’s laughter wasn’t about mirth, but rather covering up her apprehension.

“Not directly, but if his girlfriend was to get harmed, it would certainly hurt him.”

“Girlfriend huh?” Miho said to herself, turning the word over in her mouth.

“Do you plan on answering?”

“Oh, sure,” Miho laughed again. “We haven’t talked labels, but ahh, he has a toothbrush at my place – interpret that how you will.”

The look on Jazz’s face said it all, as did the way she nearly choked on her coffee.

“I’m not big on applying labels to things,” Miho shrugged. “No need to overcomplicate. We are what we are, so you stop fretting about it…”

“I’m not fretting about it,” Jazz sniffed. “I just like to do my job well.”

“I said I’d be a good girl and I’m certainly going to try,” Miho grinned. “Having Hera’s soul and her artifact should make guarding me a breeze.”

“Mm, so he told you about that,” Jazz murmured.

“Maybe that tells you more about how much he trusts me, than the toothbrush,” Miho smiled, but it waned as she shook her head, trying dispel the warm-fuzzies invading her body.

Jazz observed this. It may have been true that Hades trusted Miho enough to share secrets as big as who was Hera’s reincarnation, but there was something about how Miho refused to definitively answer the question about the status of their relationship, that bothered Jazz – it was like Miho was holding back, not fully invested, and if that was the case, perhaps she couldn’t be entirely trusted regardless of the way Hades felt about her.

After breakfast, Jazz escorted Miho to the Public Relations section in the building, and introduced her to various people she might end up working with. Why Jazz was giving the tours when she should have been out in the field doing her job, wasn’t asked; she watched Miho work the room, making a good impression with her infectious smile and confident body language. Before long, she had convinced one agent to let her help with his assignment, and was sitting beside him at his desk brainstorming ideas.

Relaxing a little, Jazz dug out her phone and sent Hydra a message. Much to his disdain, she’d suggested he could investigate the latest zombie sighting without her. Outside was still a whiteout, and while the cold wouldn’t kill him, it made moving around the city difficult. She had to smirk a little at his curt response stating he wasn’t far away, knowing that was just how he was, but she looked up suddenly to the sound of a moan.

“Whoa, hey there!” Miho barked, rolling her chair away from her new friend when he abruptly placed his hand against her leg and slid it all the way up her thigh.

As she stood, she and Jazz alike blinked at the sudden state of the office.

Agents – men and women, women and women, men and men – had abandoned their work and were entangled in various states of intimacy.

“Um, Jazz?” Miho prompted, stepping in beside the only other person in the room who seemed to find the situation bizarre.

“Miss Fujiwara,” the male agent smiled, approaching her with a lusty expression. “I cannot get over just how… much I want you… I have to…”

“You have to stop right there,” Miho warned, her eyes flashing with the danger of him pushing any further, and Jazz also glared.

“But how am I supposed to kiss you if you keep running away?” he asked, stars in his eyes, lips puckering.

“That’s close enough Agent Warwick,” Jazz warned, nudging Miho behind her, just as a bra came flying across the office and landed over Agent Warwick’s shoulder.

“What the hell is going on?” Miho exhaled, peering wide-eyed at the unfolding orgy.

“Good question,” Jazz grunted. “Let’s go.”

The pair backed into the corridor where two people walking in their direction stopped suddenly to embrace and press against the wall, hands diving beneath clothing.

“Is this a balance of power thing, like the weather?” Miho asked, but Jazz didn’t have the answer. “And why aren’t we making out right now?”

“My guess is because I have Hera’s artifact, and you got hit by some buried super power,” Jazz reasoned, motioning for Miho to move hastily to a nearby stairwell.

“So most of HERA’s agents are humans?” Miho exhaled, following Jazz’s quick pace up the stairwell. “You think gods, demis and monsters might be immune to…”

“How am I supposed to know?” Jazz huffed, slamming her palm against a door – that didn’t budge. “Oh come on,” she growled, giving it another shove, but she stopped when she heard a few loud grunts from the other side, followed by a few oh-baby, oh babys. “For fuck’s sake.”

“Literally,” Miho grinned, watching, actually amused, as Jazz hit the door with her shoulder, shoving the bonking pair away from their love-making surface, and sending them tumbling to the floor.

Which didn’t really stop them – they simply assumed a new position and continued to screw like no one was watching.

“Please let Alex be normal,” Jazz whispered, skirting around a threesome in the corridor in order to reach Cyprin’s door.

And so it was, that Cyprin was normal… Hydra, however, not so much.

The two women stood in the door way of Aphrodite’s child, staring as Hydra chased Cyprin in laps around their desk.

“Don’t just stand there!” Cyprin yelped.

“Go ahead and join in Jazz,” Miho chuckled. “I’ll wait outside.”

Astoria: In Chaos – Part Five


Day 27

The two women talked, snuggled, wrestled, tickled, ate more chocolate and eventually fell asleep, but Mieke had to get up for work at 6am and was out the door looking weary – but happy – leaving Miho to clean up.

In a sleep deprived daze, Miho replayed the conversations of last night.

“Have to shelve that for now,” she muttered, dropping a couple of bowls into the sink.

Still in her pajamas, she plopped back down in front of her laptop. Unlike the previous day, however, the sentences began to form, and once she had begun writing, her fingertips flew across the keyboard with ridiculous speed. On the screen appeared the contrast between what the city citizens knew, and what the suited authority known as HERA kept from them, alongside the ins and outs of theology that could change the entire world.

“Imagine,” she thought, “A world without ‘faith’ because the facts of the higher powers of the Earth were revealed. Might make things better, but could very well make things worse.”

That was of course assuming people believed it. There would always be deniers, the self-deluded, who would believe what they wanted to believe despite the facts. One only had to look as far as those refusing to vaccinate their children from preventable diseases to see just how stupid humanity could be.

As she continued, she considered all Hades had told her, things Jazz had said, and then pictured Detective Yashitori’s face as she asked the same questions Miho herself had asked not so long ago. Oh, how she had fought against the heavy curtain of secrecy: fought Hades, fought Jazz, fought HERA.

Now she knew.

It was heading into twilight when she finally finished her article and printed it out several times over, tucking one away in a safe hiding place. Then she considered how she was going to contact Hades. It struck her that she didn’t have his phone number – he hadn’t given it to her – and she recalled the HERA building being closed for structural integrity inspection. Still, with no other way, scribbled a quick note to him, showered like the wind, then threw on some new clothes, smoothed down her head, and headed out.

HERA agents stood as silent sentinels outside the fenced-off, blacked-out area around the HERA building, the foyer of which also seemed to be shrouded in large sheets of plastic. Though she didn’t recognise either of the two men, or the single female agent, she approached one with the same confidence she tackled everything, and smiled brightly.

“Evening,” she greeted. “I have something of importance to give Hades.”

True to form, the agent simply eyed her.

“Come on, tell me you guys don’t know who I am by now?” Miho grumbled. “I’m the reporter Hades took up to Olympus, and only yesterday was here when zombies rushed this very building.”

This did cause the agent to consider her a little less stoically.

“So, Hades? Can you call him down here for me?” Miho prompted expectantly.

“Hades is not available at present,” the agent told her plainly, and a little huffily, Miho took an envelope from her bag.

“Okay fine,” she sniffed. “How about you give him this? And in case you’re wondering, it’s the article I’ve written about this whole operation and everything I’ve seen recently, so, you might want to ferry it post haste to the hands of your friendly neighbourhood god as soon as possible. Print runs happen pretty early in the morning you know.”

Pressing the envelope against the agent’s chest, Miho released it.

“Oh, and if he stands me up for dinner, I won’t be held responsible for the consequences,” she smiled sweetly, then turned on her heel.

All that remained now, was for her to wait.

At her favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Miho took a sip from her fourth cup of coffee. For surely the five hundredth time she glanced at her phone to see she’d been waiting three hours.

Three hours and nothing.

Not even a text message.

Despite being wired thanks to the caffeine, she was well and truly weary.

The caffeine was the only thing keeping her awake.

“So that’s how it is,” she muttered, scowling as she emptied her cup, and it clattered back into the saucer.

Rolling her shoulders, she shuffled out of her booth loudly and shouldered her bag, muttering under her breath. But when she lifted her eyes to fix them balefully on the exit, Hades blocked her path.

“You’re still here,” he noted and looked first relieved, then frowned as he took in her expression.

“Only just,” she announced, her tone in no small part sour.

“I tried calling the number you put in the envelope Agent Hall passed on,” he explained, “but it connected me with an Italian man somewhere in New Jersey.”

“Excuse me?” Miho blinked, frowning as Hades took the slip of paper she’d written on from his pocket and read the number from it. “No, 1, not 7,” she corrected, exasperated.

“I see, that would account for Mr. Morticella then,” he agreed.

“Come on Hades,” Miho sighed. “You’re telling me that with your resources, the ones Agent Mann used to track me down with Detective Yashitori in fact, you couldn’t have looked up my number?”

Shifting a little uncomfortably in the face of her irritation, Hades conceded her point.

“Yes, you’re right,” he acknowledged humbly, nodding apologetically. “And I am sorry, but I have been… busy.”

Exhaling a heavy, lung-emptying sigh, Miho allowed her shoulders to slump. She was being unfair, and was just pissed off because she was over-tired and not at all used to being kept waiting.

“No, you’re right,” she admitted. “You’re right. Zombies trump my sorry ass.”

“It’s not that sorry,” he hazarded, leaning just a little to indicate he had glanced at the posterior in question.

She had to laugh.

Her smile waned a little though, when Hades dropped the folded article she’d written on the table where she’d been sitting, and lowered himself into the booth – after all, she didn’t know how he was going to react.

“This is quite a comprehensive story,” he noted: benign.

Studying him – his expression, his posture, his eyes – Miho returned to her seat opposite him.

He, glanced at the empty coffee cups.

“Fuelled by coffee?” he queried lightly.

“Yep,” she nodded. “Though I still don’t think much of what I’ve experienced has sunk in.”

“It may need to,” he told her gravely. “I still haven’t discerned the origin of the zombies, nor those behind them, and there was another incident involving them today.”

This he told her freely, despite the fact she’d compiled all his secrets in plain writing.

“Anyone hurt?” she ventured, and Hades winced a little.

“A member of the public was killed,” he admitted, and Miho bit her lip.

“That’s likely to draw more scrutiny from city law enforcement,” Miho pointed out, like he didn’t already know that. “If you haven’t heard from her already, you’d better brace for Detective Yashitori.”

“She has made some inquiries,” he affirmed. “Her Lieutenant also,” he added. “But they’re not the first, and will unlikely be the last.”

“She’s tenacious,” Miho warned.

“So are you,” he replied, the slightest of smirks touching his lips, but Miho frowned again.

“And look where that got you, Fairy-floss.”

“Where exactly is that?” he queried, unruffled and peering at her steadily.

For a good half a minute Miho just looked back in silence, until finally she responded.

“You’re not going to ask me what I’m going to do?” she scowled. “You’re not going to ask me to keep my mouth shut?”

“Do I need to ask?”

This caused Miho to scoff.

“Do you assume you don’t, just because we slept together?” she volleyed, but Hades didn’t falter, didn’t flinch.

“No,” he said, “but I do assume based upon what I have come to know and understand about you, that you have no intention of attempting to publish this.”

Hackles rising, Miho had to bite down on her tongue to prevent a snapping retort from escaping.

Hades, meanwhile, smiled at her mildly.

“Are you angry because I am making such an assumption, or, because in making it I’ve robbed you of the opportunity to make the grand reveal?”

Miho couldn’t help but react to this, but before she could stand out of indignation, Hades had placed his hand over hers in a light grip.

“But I will ask anyway,” he told her, much more seriously. “If – now knowing what you know, and feeling about it how you feel – you will please uphold HERA’s policy of secrecy, for reasons not borne of anything other than to protect?”

His please hit her exactly where it was meant to.

“Oh, see that’s not playing fair,” Miho grumbled, and Hades’ reply – that could have been amused – remained serious.

“All’s fair in love and war, I’m told,” he declared, his thumb moving slowly over the back of her hand, and Miho straightened a little.

“We’re not at war, Hades,” she responded carefully. “Our opposition came about because you and HERA were acting all shady. Anyone with an ounce of concern for civil liberties and proper authority would be concerned.”

“If that were true, I’d have had a whole lot more than you to contend with,” he said easily, eyes unwavering.

“Lucky for you then,” Miho nodded, finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the soft sensation of his skin against hers.

It traced warm little arches back and forth, a sweetly idle but entirely purposeful motion that rippled to other parts of her body.

“I should go,” she announced, exhaling the last word as she began to shuffle sideways, but Hades’ grip tightened and she stalled. “Come on, I need to go begging to my editor to lift my suspension, or my diet for the foreseeable future will be cup noodles.”

“Work for HERA,” he said, a statement delivered with certainty.

“Excuse me?” Miho blinked.

“You have a way with words,” he explained as she settled back, “I’ve seen plenty of evidence of that. You’re driven, fearless, even if sometimes far too irresponsible, but I’ve also had the privilege of witnessing you throw down a fully grown, and well trained agent, so you’re hardly helpless.”

“You don’t… owe me anything,” she told him slowly, trying to figure out his motivation, despite the glowing resume he’d just recited. “You don’t need to buy my silence; you already know I’m not going to publish anything that could compromise HERA.”

“That’s not why I’m offering,” he responded, but Miho remained suspicious.

“And I don’t need recompense for the other night, either,” she added, and this caused Hades to frown.

“You think so little of me? That I’m the type of man to offer someone a job because I slept with her?” he articulated, a thin fissure of hurt wearing into his expression.

Miho swallowed. She had reached across the table and slapped him in the face with her comment, her handprint brightly outlined on his cheek.

“Or maybe,” he continued, his hand withdrawing, “that’s the type of man you’re used to.”

“Hades, you’re not a man,” she exhaled, slumping a little. “And I’m sorry for questioning your integrity, you know, everyone speaks of you so highly, so reverently, it just doesn’t make sense.”

“What, doesn’t make sense?” he pressed.

She sighed again.

“Me, after no sleep,” she groaned, and rubbed her eyes. “I need some downtime, uninterrupted sleep.”

“Right,” he conceded, voice tight. “You should go home and rest properly.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, and finally managed to get to her feet.

Maybe she’d have kissed him, at least on the cheek, but it didn’t seem appropriate now.

“If you’re staying on Earth for a while, make sure you’re eating properly, what with Persephone not here to keep an eye on you,” she offered instead.

“If you’re so worried,” he replied, looking up at her as she stepped beside him, “consider my offer; you can keep an eye on me yourself.”

“I’ll think about it,” she agreed, and with one last awkward nod, Miho headed out of the cafe.

It wasn’t until she stepped onto the street and was hit in the face by the cool air, she realised her cheeks were on fire. Her body was tense, uncomfortably so, and her hands had made fists all by themselves.

“That could have gone better,” she muttered to herself, then, with a careful look around the street, she began in the direction of home.

Day 28

After sleeping like a rock, Miho woke to find a text message from Hades.

Now you can call and abuse me if I don’t show up on time…

At this Miho snorted. The message went on to detail the employment he’d offered, and with growing interest she explored the terms.

“Wow,” she exhaled, shaking her head. “This is… wow.”

A position in HERA’s media department writing cover stories. It was the absolute opposite of what she’d been pursuing her whole life, the opposite of her stance on lies.

She would become ‘The Man’, and that idea made her feel very awkward. Still, she could not deny, she wished she hadn’t seen the rotting faces of the zombies that had attacked Olympus – even now, safe in her apartment, she felt a creeping fear that just outside there would be more, or worse, someone she knew or cared for had become one.

Mieke came to mind, and Miho scowled fiercely at her phone.

Aside from the outline of the position Hades offered – hrr hrr – the salary and insurance package was far and beyond anything she could have hoped to achieve in journalism.

Then she had to weigh up the merits and pitfalls of having Hades as her boss.

Was that another nail in the coffin of their ‘not really’ relationship? Sleeping with the boss was never a good idea.

Sighing, Miho rolled over and texted Mieke. She was, after all, an employee of the organisation, and likely knew Hades far better.

That’s a tough one. You know it’d be cool to work together… but I also know how you feel about the whole cover up thing. Follow your heart?

“Follow my heart? Really Mieke?” Miho growled. “So not helpful.”

Still sprawled out in bed, Miho glared at the also unhelpful ceiling until Hades’ face appeared there.

“No, no, no. Bad,” she huffed, finally dragging herself up.

Skipping breakfast thanks to a fridge containing only out-of-date items and a carton of pretty rancid milk, Miho headed for the mall. The shopping list on her phone allowed her to focus on something totally benign.

She wound her way up and down the shopping centre aisles, dropping this and that into her cart – many of which weren’t on the list – but it wasn’t until she’d nearly run over a toddler that she realised she’d spaced out.

“Sorry,” she murmured to the mother who glowered, but what she really wanted to say was she should keep her offspring on a leash.

Pure maternal instinct.

As she passed through the checkout, wincing at the total and realising her next credit card statement was really going to hurt, a rise in noise beyond the supermarket drew her attention toward the food court.

Rolling her cart in that direction, she was met very suddenly with a rush of people – frightened people, screaming, crying people – and not a single one of them paid her any mind.

“Gunman?” Miho thought, perhaps the most likely scenario, but rather than run, she rolled her trolley against the nearest shopfront, and dug her phone from her pocket.

Reporter mode, activated.

It wasn’t the first time she had put herself in harm’s way for a story; there was of course Minotaur, but she’d hadn’t seen this coming. No, there had been other times she’d resisted the instinct to flee, and forged on in search of an exclusive.

What she discovered, however, was no gunman.

Having slunk her way to the food court, what she found caused her body to seize up.

Tables and chairs were upturned, a thankfully empty pram nearby lying on its side. Food and drinks littered the floor, a multi-coloured mess of convenience splattered everywhere by people caught completely off guard.

“No,” Miho exhaled – a weak, shuddering breath.

“Help me,” came a rasping, desperate plea, and Miho spied a teenager on the ground nearby.

His expression told Miho he was not only petrified, but in considerable pain, as did the impossible bend of his leg mid-calf.

“Please,” he cried, his voice a little louder, and Miho motioned for him to be quiet.

Clumsy fingers fumbled for the text message Hades had sent her, and frantically Miho hit call.

“No, no!” the teenager cried suddenly, raising his voice loud enough to draw the attention of more than just the creature crawling close enough to grab his ankle.

“Fuck,” Miho dropped, abandoning her phone in favour of grabbing the metal leg of the nearest fallen chair.

With all her strength, she swung the chair at the zombie’s head, and with a sickening crack the blow made good purchase.

“Why here?” she hissed, throwing her weapon at the four shambling shapes that approached, before grabbing hold of the teen’s wrist. “This is going to hurt like hell,” she warned him, then began to drag him out of the food court along the polished floor. “Hades!” she shouted as they passed her phone still sitting on the ground. “Get to Astoria Mall, right now!”

They passed her trolley, but Miho – for obvious reasons – ignored it. Several times she tripped over something left behind by a fleeing shopper, but she and her semi-conscious cargo made it to one of many exits largely uninterrupted.

“Where is mall security?” she gasped, peeling off her jacket to place under the teen’s head, before checking for bleeding wounds.

She hadn’t seen any mall cops, and that was odd.

Sirens wailed in the distance, but Miho hoped HERA arrived first – if others entered the mall there was a real risk of further contamination, forget about the spread of undead rumours.

“No!” she barked suddenly, when a couple of men approached the doors outside of which Miho was camped. “No one else goes inside.”

For a few seconds they stared at her.

“Ma’am,” one began, but Miho chewed the end off the rest of what he’d been about to say.

“No really,” Miho insisted. “If you want to be helpful, go on and seal up any way those mad men can get out.”

“We need to move you back, Ma’am,” the other man declared, completely ignoring Miho’s imperative.

“Aren’t you listening to me?” she snarled. “The last time I saw these guys, they had explosives strapped to their chests and they did a whole lot of damage to nearby buildings!”

That caused the men to pause, but it had the desired effect. One of the men called for bomb squad backup, while the other barked orders at uniform police officers finally arriving on the scene. The downside to that was, her apparent knowledge of people performing terrorist activities, immediately placed her under suspicion, so as she and her injured teenaged friend were evacuated from the area, he was taken to a waiting ambulance, and Miho was place in custody.

“Well,” she mumbled to herself, “at least that bought some time?”

Watching from her place in the back of a police car, Miho actually managed a mirthless laugh at the relief she felt when she recognised several new additions to the crowd – suits and plain clothed HERA agents taking charge. And the uniforms simply relinquished control, while others, including the men who had ordered her to remain for questioning, argued a little before being overwhelmed.

“Yep, that’s how they roll,” Miho snorted.

“They?” asked a familiar voice, and Miho’s view was blocked by the appearance of Detective Yashitori. “Don’t you mean you?”

“Not yet,” Miho responded, looking up at the woman as she opened the back of the patrol car and motioned for Miho to get out. “I don’t know, maybe.”

“Officer Bryce says you’ve seen the perpetrators of this attack,” Narumi went on, studying Miho carefully, critically, “and is holding you for questioning because you also suggested they may have explosives?”

Licking her lips – a nervous tell to be sure – Miho searched the crowd of police and suits.

“So what did you see exactly?”

Another sigh emptied Miho’s lungs and she met Narumi’s gaze.

“What I saw was five, hmm maybe six men, old, worn looking with sunken cheeks,” she detailed. “Bloodshot eyes, the kind you get from being hyped up on meth or ice: aggressive clawing and biting and tearing anyone who got in their way.”

It was an accurate description, and similes weren’t lies.

At least Miho told herself that.

“You have experience with drugs?” Narumi enquired, raising a brow, and Miho chortled.

“Come on, Detective, this is New York and I’m a reporter.”

“Well, right now you’re suspected of involvement, or at the very least knowledge of, a terrorist act,” a tall, well build man announced as he sidled up to Narumi’s side.

“Meet Detective Tennoji,” Narumi smiled, but it dimmed as a shadow fell over her.

“A pleasure to meet you Detectives,” Hades greeted pleasantly, and Miho fought to keep from smiling herself.

Before they could speak, before they could ask, he handed Narumi a document.

“Miss Fujiwara has been released to my custody,” he told them.

“Like hell!” Tennoji growled, drawing himself up.

“On whose authority?” Narumi demanded to know, slightly more composed.

“It’s all in that document,” Hades explained, then took Miho’s arm.

Stubbornly, Narumi shoved the document at Tennoji, and grabbed Miho’s other arm.

“This is not a game of tug-of-war,” Miho frowned. “Detectives, please trust they know what they’re doing.”

“I’m far more interested in what you have been doing,” Narumi stated flatly.

“From what I have heard, Miss Fujiwara made a case for first responders not entering for fear of there being an explosion,” Hades reasoned. “Hardly the actions of a terrorist.”

“You’re going to help them cover this up now?” Narumi hissed at Miho.

“I think I was pretty forthcoming with what I saw, Detective,” Miho shrugged, only now pulling her arm away. “I’m no terrorist. I just happened to be here when this all went down and in all honesty, I’m still shaken.”

“Let’s go,” Hades prompted, giving Miho’s arm a slight tug.

Tennoji moved to intervene, but Narumi stopped him.

“I don’t know if they have explosives,” Miho said when they were out of earshot, “but it was the best I could do to buy ti…”

Prophetic maybe?

The blast sent a massive cloud of smoke and dust into the air at the centre of the mall complex, though Miho was unable to see it. As if by reflex Hades moved, and Miho found herself enveloped once more in Hades’ arms, his back to the beleaguered building inside which subsequent detonations sounded.

Screams rose up from the morbidly curious crowd well outside of danger’s range, and though they too were well out of harm’s reach, Hades continued to shield Miho until relative silence settled once more.

“Sometimes it sucks to be right,” Miho whispered, her eyes closed, her body rigid until Hades straightened.

“More people could have been injured, perhaps killed if you’d said nothing,” Hades responded, his breath shifting the hairs behind her right ear.

“And I… didn’t tell her what I really knew,” she breathed, consciously relaxing her body back against him.

“I didn’t think you would,” Hades smiled. “And I am glad you’re safe.”

Then he flinched as something cold touched his cheek. Looking up, his brows twitched at the sight of snow at the end of spring.

“Is that…?” Miho trailed off, also peering upward, and her question was answered as the snow began to fall like a blanket. “What the hell?”

Hades’ expression looked grim as he released her.


“You said you were shaken,” he focused back in, but she could tell his mind had no gone elsewhere. “Will you be all right?”

“I’m okay,” she nodded, chewing the inside of her cheek for a few seconds. “What do you need me to do?”

“I’ll have an agent take you home,” he replied, narrowing his eyes like he thought she might put up a fight – but she didn’t.

“If you can spare one,” she nodded.

“I can.”

Despite the chaos, the magnitude of what needed to be sorted, Miho was soon inside a company car being driven home.

Hades had touched her hand before she’d entered the cabin, a fleeting sign of affection though his expression remained serious. It was clear to her he was reluctant to let her out of his sight, and if she was honest, as the car moved away she felt less safe.

Exploding zombies should not be a norm.

At Miho’s apartment the agent lingered, making triple sure she was okay before he left.

After using her spare key to get in, all locks were double checked before Miho finally released some of the tension from her shoulders.

On her way to the bathroom, she glanced out the window at the snow that was falling like a billowing white.

“Ugh,” she grunted, turning on the bath taps.

Though the weather had been mild for weeks, the abrupt cold snap added to the fraying edges of her nerves. Then there were the two detectives to think about, eyeing her off like she was involved in terrorist activities and worse, covering it all up. She hadn’t lied to Narumi, but she hadn’t told the whole truth, and Miho realised just what a fine like she was walking.

With another grumble, Miho submerged herself deep in the tub, and let out a long, luxurious sigh. As the warmth sank through her skin to muscles tired from being tensed for action, more of her new reality sank in also.

“I’m a fuckin’ hero,” she whispered to the reverberating walls.

She had, after all, rushed headlong into dangers and dragged that boy – whose name she did not know – from the infections jaws of a slathering zombie.

“Oh shit,” she muttered, for two reasons.

One, because she was supposed to text Hades and hadn’t.

Two, because she had abandoned her phone in the mall.

She’d had to remember where her spare apartment key was, but it hadn’t twigged until that moment that her bag and belongings were not with her.

There wasn’t much she could do about it since she didn’t have a landline phone, and so she closed her eyes and inhaled a deep, steamy breath.

There she allowed herself to be suspected half way between awake and asleep, and time slipped away until she was jerked to attention by three solid knocking sounds from somewhere else in the apartment.

Sitting up, she strained to listen until the knocking came again.

“Damned broken doorbell,” she hissed, pulling herself up.

She gave her body a cursory dry before wrapping herself in a towel – whoever had come to visit would just have to deal with her moisty, dishevelled state.

“Okay, okay! I’m on my way!” she called, when the knocking sounded for a third time, this time more emphatically.

Hades blinked when Miho swung the door open, a grumpy frown affixed to the heat-flush of her face.

Drips fell from rebellious strands of hair that had escaped her messy bun, and the tucked-over knot keeping the towel around her looked set to unwind.

Likewise, Miho stared right back at Hades, suddenly wishing she hadn’t opened the door looking much like a drowned rat.

“You didn’t text,” were his first words, breaking the moment.

“Left my phone at…” she began, but he finished.

“At the mall,” he smiled, holding her handbag out to her.

Swallowing, Miho extended her hand, but the second she closed her fingers around the strap she froze.

His gaze, though fixed upon her face, seemed to smooth along her shoulders, along the ridge of her collarbones, and down to her barely concealed breasts.

With sudden desperation, Miho’s body demanded she drag Hades inside and devour him, but some small angel or demon in her mind told her not to; there was still the whole job offer thing to consider.

“Are you alright?” he asked, closer than he had been – somehow he’d stepped forward and she’d not noticed, sandwiching her hand and the bag between his body and hers.

“Ahh… I’m…” she said, but finishing that sentence proved difficult as his face drew closer. “Hades,” she whispered.

“No, I’m Hades,” he told her quietly, lips hovering before hers. “You, are Miho.”

“Right,” she swallowed, her free hand taking hold of his upper arm. “We shou…”

Tired of her hesitation perhaps, but more likely reaching the limit of his self-restraint, Hades silenced Miho with the ardent smother of his lips; and Miho crumbled, leaning into him with encouraging reciprocation.

In the doorway of her apartment, they bundled up all the day’s, week’s emotion, and let it melt away through the dance of their tongues and a transference of body-heat and passionate need.

All thought and rationality fled from Miho’s mind – her body simply responded as Hades backed her into the apartment and kicked the door closed behind them.

“No more polite,” he growled.

The confident roam of his hands beneath the towel, its path up her left side and to her breast, demolished the lingering remains of Miho’s self-control. Within seconds she found herself toppling back onto the couch, and Hades straddled her, tugging away his tie and pulling at the buttons of his shirt.

Awkwardly, vision a hazy blur of desire and urgency, Miho struggled with his belt buckle while her mind tried to figure the location of the nearest condom.

“Handbag, handbag,” she muttered, searching the lounge though her lust kept drawing her back to the final reveal of Hades’ perfectly chiselled chest, the definition of his pecs and abs.

“There,” Hades pointed at the floor behind Miho’s head, right where she’d finally abandoned it.

The bag, not her head.

The way he reached forward, laying his body against her, caused Miho to shudder with anticipation. She took the opportunity to kiss up his neck as he took hold of her handbag and dragged it within her reach. Miho dug a hand into it blindly as Hades sat back, wriggling to get out of his pants; once he’d achieved that, he took his shaft in one hand, and wormed his hand between Miho’s legs, rubbing fingers against her clit in firm strokes.

“How am I supposed to…” Miho whined, having difficulties pulling open the small zipper compartment where she kept a small supply of ‘just in case’ contraceptives. “Fuck… Hades, stop, stop, I can’t get the damned…”

Hades chuckled as she fumbled in frustration, but he was of little help, and Miho whimpered as he slowly burrowed two fingers into her moistness.

“Okay don’t stop,” she huffed, biting down on her lower lip, watching him stroke his cock, base to tip. “Uhh, that is sooo sexy,” she purred.

“Let me help you with that,” he smirked, releasing his erection and leaning over her again.

“Oh,” she breathed when he withdrew his fingers, and his head nudged against her entrance.

It was a really stupid thought, but suddenly Miho understood how easy it could be to say ‘fuck it’ and have unprotected sex. She wanted Hades to just throw all caution to the wind and pile drive her, the two of them as close as two people could be – but he did no more than tease, and a few seconds later rocked back triumphantly with the small foil packet in his hand.

“Quit smirking and get on with it,” she snarled, glaring, squirming beneath him.

“Still impatient,” he grinned, tossing the packet aside and rolling the condom over his length, before slowly licking his fingers.

“Hades,” Miho hissed, reaching her arms up and clawing at the air, and he was more than happy to indulge her need.

Running his thumbs along her inner thighs, he parted her legs and then leaned down to meet her hungrily lips. He groaned into her mouth, remaining poised at her entrance but holding back – and though he wanted her badly, the frenzy in her eyes was something to savour considering it had felt like she’d kept him at arm’s length since their first ‘encounter’.

When her nails dug more firmly into his shoulders and she bit down and held onto his lower lip, he finally relented, driving himself inside her to the delicious tension she squeezed around him.

Breathing came intermittently, gasps interrupted by their chests pressed together, by the strenuousness of Hades’ thrusts, and the frantic need to taste one another’s thirst.

“Miho!” came a call from outside the door, an urgent one at that, and the voice was followed by a second sentence and the unceremonious entrance of Mieke into the apartment. “I heard you were in a…”

Compromising position?

“Oh… god…” Mieke gawked, absolutely frozen but for her mouth that somehow kept moving. “Hades! Sir… wow… I mean, oh god, Sir!”

At Mieke’s abrupt arrival, Hades had laid down against Miho, curling his arms under her shoulders and sheltering her like he thought the interloper might be a threat – then he met Mieke’s wide-eyed shock.

Of course it was obviously what he and Miho had been doing, their lightly sweating bodies crushing together, Miho’s legs wrapped around the back of his thighs leaving his ass fully exposed.

“Worse timing ever,” Miho hissed out against Hades’ neck, nipping at the skin despite their situation.

“Agent Genever, if you could turn around?” Hades suggested, still a little breathless.

“Yes, buns… I mean Sir! Sir!” Mieke corrected quickly, spinning around, and the moment she had, Hades reluctantly eased himself out of Miho and stood up.

With a heavy sigh, Miho rolled over and looked up at him while he collected his clothing, pouting furiously.

“I’ll just…” he began, and Miho finished for him.

“Yep, go ahead, bathroom’s the first door on the left.”

With an apologetic look – like the interruption was his fault – he pecked her quickly on the lips then disappeared.

It wasn’t until she heard the door click that Mieke whirled around, just as Miho – still naked – sat up looking pissed off.

“Oh. My. God,” Mieke whispered conspiratorially, crossing the room but stopping short of sitting down on the couch that now seemed… um… contaminated? “Does this make you two official?”

“No,” Miho grumped. “It means you’re an exceptionally effective contraceptive.”

“Wait, wait, hold on,” Mieke blurted. “You two were trying for a baby?”

“Are you on crack?” Miho exclaimed. “I can barely look after myself let alone an infant, and even if I wanted babies… no. Cock-block.”

“I’m sorry,” Mieke grinned, her pale cheeks filled with colour. “But you know, what has been seen cannot be unseen so…”

“I suggest you unsee it,” Hades declared, appearing fully dressed.

Miho still sat there stark naked and not at all bothered by that fact.

“Right,” Mieke nodded, taking a step back from the couch and unable to meet Hades’ eyes. “I just wanted to check on Miho, but now I see she is… okay I’ll just…leave and let you two do… stuff.”

“Be careful in the snow, Agent Genever,” Hades warned, walking her to the door like it was his apartment.

“Sure thing, Sir, and sorry again for interrupting your… nothing… bye.”

Hades let out a heavy breath and remained staring at the door after it had closed behind Mieke, but he heard Miho laughing.

“There is no way she is ever going to forget your divine ass,” she grinned, and though he looked at her reproachfully when he turned, she only smiled the wider. “And once she gets over her shock, expect to get teased.”

“I would hope she’d know better,” he grumbled, flopping down onto the couch and dragging her into his lap.

Relaxing against him, Miho closed her eyes and let him kiss her briefly.

“Hmm are you hungry?” she asked him as her stomach gurgled. “I never managed breakfast and skipped lunch so…”

“I could eat,” he replied, planting his lips against her shoulder, and Miho lolled her head back.

“Food,” she clarified, patting his cheek before dragging herself up.

“You’re not going to cook like that are you?” he chuckled, giving her bum a light smack.

“Don’t be stupid,” she tsked. “I’m going to put an apron on.”

While Miho whipped something up, Hades watched her with a smile – a hungry smile. When he offered to help, she batted him away until food was laid out. As they ate, conversation danced around their interrupted exercise and what it might mean, and stayed away from the topic of explosions and zombies, and ended up instead talking about Mieke, right up until Miho yawned for the fifth time.

“Okay, I think it’s time I put you to bed,” Hades chuckled, taking up the dishes from the table and putting them in the sink.

“And after you’ve done that, what then?” Miho queried, standing behind him with their glasses in her hands.

Slowly, he turned to consider her, reading over her expression but ultimately responding with a question.

“What would you like me to do?” he asked.

“I knew you were going to ask that,” she grumped, reaching around him to put the glasses with the plates.

When she straightened, he brushed the back of his hand against her cheek, and without even thinking about it, Miho leaned toward the touch.

“Ugh, I want you to stay and keep the nightmares away,” she murmured, and Hades smiled.

“Gladly,” he told her gently, leaning forward and kissing her forehead.

Though a little begrudgingly perhaps, that he had made her say it, Miho led Hades to her bedroom.

She had put on more than an apron before cooking dinner, but little more than an unimpressive pair of sweatpants and a hoodie. That he still wanted to follow her to the bedroom when she was attired like that, encouraged her more than she thought it should.

“Arms up,” he instructed, but she batted his hand away when he reached for her.

“You may be considerably older than me, but I’m not harbouring any daddy fantasies,” she chided.

“How much do you like that outfit?” he enquired, peering at her so seriously, a serious response formed on her tongue.

“Er, it’s just some cheap running gear,” she shrugged, then flinched as purple light flashed around her in the shape of Hades’ reaper aura, slashing the fabric away from her body without casing her a single scratch.

“That, is cheating,” she told him sternly, and this time it was he who shrugged.

“Or is it merely using all resources to my advantage?” he asked, smoothing his large hands lightly over her shoulders.

“I mean it though, if you treat me like a child, I will definitely throw a tantrum,” she persisted, and Hades held up his hands.

“And I’m well aware of how intense those can be,” he chuckled, and Miho gave him a playful shove against his chest.

“I’ll get you a towel and, I probably have a spare toothbrush around here somewhere,” she told him, snagging a baggy t-shirt from under her pillow and slipping it over her head before heading back into the hall.

When she returned, Hades’ shirt was already hanging on her wardrobe door, and his belt was sliding free.

Swallowing another yawn, she nudged the folded towel against his back.

“Bathroom is the…”

“Found it earlier,” he pointed out.

“Oh, right,” she sighed, following up some mutterings about best friends.

And by the time Hades re-entered the bedroom, Miho was already tucked into bed on the left side.

Without hesitation, Hades moved to the right, slid in beside her, and snuggled her against him.

“I put my toothbrush next to yours,” he said against the top of her head, and Miho looked up at him with a slightly concerned expression, clearing her throat before responding.

“Um, I’m not sure that’s… that’s such a good idea.”

“And why wouldn’t it be?”

His question sounded innocent enough, but Miho knew he wasn’t that dumb.

“Next you’ll be wanting a drawer, then some room in the wardrobe,” she pointed out, speaking dramatically with her hands to cover the awkwardness.

Hades did not seem the slightest bit fazed.

“Would that really be so bad?” he queried calmly, and Miho rolled over and sat up to look down at him.

“Okay, fine,” she huffed, scowling as if the next things she spoke had been drawn from her using torture. “You know I… sex with you was amazing, but home visits and toothbrushes and drawers aren’t casual sex, they’re more than that, and you… I may act like I’m fifty feet tall, but I’m 5’11” and mortal but you… you’re not. You’re an actual god, immortal and powerful, and I don’t know many stories from history where that ever worked out happily ever after.”

“So far an accurate assessment,” he nodded.

“Then you see the problem I’m having here,” Miho exclaimed, but Hades shook his head, and pulled her against his chest by the wrist.

“You think I haven’t also had these thoughts?” he asked her, smoothing back the hair either side of her face. “The very moment I felt myself stir beyond mere physical attraction, I had to wonder if there was any point.”

Despite being the one to bring it up, Miho swallowed the lump suddenly in her throat.

“Perhaps we were simply drawn together by circumstance,” he continued evenly, but his fingers continued to sift through her hair, “caught up in this chaos not even a god like me has all the answers to, but there has never been anything false in how I’ve acted toward you. I’ve never done, or said anything I didn’t mean.”

“I… don’t know what this means,” Miho sighed, biting her lower lip in frustration, but Hades laughed.

“Are you truly so unaccustomed to the concept of love?”

“Whoa whoa, you’re just going to come right out and say it?” she rushed, attempting to sit up again, but Hades preventing her from rising.

“Would you have me call it something it’s not?” he offered. “You are not one for lies, I’ve learned.”

“Well, no I wouldn’t want you to lie,” she frowned, getting all tangled up in terminology and dogma. “But…”

“But what?” he prompted a little more flatly. “Have I misread the signs? Because if I have, I’ll…”

“No,” she admitted, but looked away like she was for some reason embarrassed.



“No,” she repeated. “It’s just that, I’m too old now to look for anything other than a future.”

“And there is no future with me?” he continued.

“I don’t know!” she admitted. “Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe a mortal should take odds she has a fighting chance of winning.”

“You did take a chance, picked a fight, with me in fact,” he pointed out. “And I’m telling you right now – you already won.”

Slack jawed, Miho just peered at him, lost for words.

“I will show you,” he whispered, brushing her cheek softly, “give me your trust, and I’ll show you.”

Gnawing at the inside of her cheek for a moment, searching his eyes, his expression for any trace of falsehood, of a game gods were purported to enjoy playing with mortals, Miho – finding none – dropped her chin a little, and leaned her head into his touch.

“You have my trust,” she declared breathily, finally lying down again, draping herself over his body and snuggling down.

“Jeez,” she muttered as he wrapped his arm around her, and she planted a kiss against his pec. “Our clashes, Minotaur, Olympus, the zombies, explosions… this… I feel like a stone being tossed about by a raging river, tumbling rapidly in one direction to some unknown destination.”

“The unknown isn’t all bad,” he reassured her with a kiss to the top of her head. “But even if it is, I’ll be with you to face it.”