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Thunder over Smallville: Book One

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This story is No. 2 in the series "Thunder over Smallville". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Sequel to An Echo of Thunder and Story #2 in the Thunder over Smallville series. Xander Harris arrives in Smallville to start his new life. How will the presence of a Thunder God affect life in this not-so-sleepy Kansas town?

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Smallville > Xander-Centered
DC Universe > General
anotherlostsoulFR1551240,4331691326687,27314 Nov 0615 Feb 08No

Chapter 43 – Shocking Revelations II

Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, the larger DC comics universe that I am drawing elements from, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…

Author’s Note: Thanks a lot to all those folks out there who nominated me for Crossing Over Awards. I really appreciate the vote of confidence. Now, on to the next chapter…

-== Chapter Forty-Three – Shocking Revelations II ==-

Xander stared at Aphrodite and the newcomer for a long moment, painfully aware of the fact that succumbing to the heat of the moment with Athena was now officially the worst decision he’d ever made. And to make things even better Chloe, Willow, Aphrodite, and a complete stranger had all caught him in the act. Humiliating barely began to describe it. He couldn’t even imagine how things could possibly get worse at this point.

For her part, Athena was still clinging to him as though her very existence depended on it. Her body was trembling in the aftermath of their shared passion… or possibly from some combination of embarrassment, anger, or other emotional reactions to the situation. In fact, it was the Goddess of Wisdom and War who spoke first, her voice full of a cold anger that Xander hadn’t been prepared for. “Was this your doing, Aphrodite?” she asked in a hard tone. “Did you meddle in what took place between my husband and me?”

“I…” the Goddess of Love seemed genuinely affronted by the accusation, “I would never…”

Athena cut her off with a harsh laugh. “Of course you would, if you thought it would further your schemes,” she countered hotly. “Only in the wake of a marriage binding would you have the power to manipulate either of us directly. You arranged this entire situation, didn’t you?”

Caught red-handed, Aphrodite frowned. “Of course I did! If you and Xander had been left to your own devices it would have been the situation with Thor all over again,” she answered angrily. “It would have taken our oh-so-noble cousin decades if not centuries to get over his mortal hang-ups and pursue his rights with you. I wanted you to be happy Athena, and I knew you could make Xander happy if he’d just let you, so I made sure he would.” When her words didn’t seem to ease the sudden anger on either of the newlyweds’ faces, she sighed in exasperation. “For the Creator’s sake Athena, you haven’t taken a man into your bed since you made that ridiculous wager with Ares after Zeus announced your betrothal. If I hadn’t pushed this along you would have still spent years waiting on Xander to take you to bed, despite the marriage. I thought it was what you’d want me to do!”

Now it was Xander’s turn to tremble in barely contained anger. If not for the fact that Aphrodite was a woman, he would have hit her. “You set this entire thing up? Even after pushing me to pursue something with Chloe?” the fury in his voice caused the goddess to take an involuntary step backward. “Were you trying to hurt her?”

“No!” the Olympian protested. “I just thought that the three of you would be good together: you, Athena and Chloe.”

“Unfortunately, my sister would find the idea of sharing a bed with me, or likely even just sharing my husband with me, somewhat distasteful, Aphrodite,” Athena replied scornfully.

“Human inhibitions can be overcome,” Aphrodite countered, “though it would have helped if you hadn’t told her she was your sister until after the three of you became lovers.”

It took only an instant for that particular exchange to properly register in Xander’s psyche. Chloe was Athena’s sister! He had been betrothed to, married, and had sex with the sister of the girl he had a crush on. For a moment he felt like he’d just wandered into a bad episode of the Jerry Springer show and found himself wondering if his luck could actually get any worse. Then he realized that it already had, since Chloe and Willow had both seen him banging Athena up against the wall like there was no tomorrow. He sincerely doubted that telling them it was all Aphrodite’s fault was exactly going to go over well either, even if it was the truth… and that realization only served to fuel his anger and drag him back to the moment at hand.

“God damn it, Aphrodite!” the Aesir practically shouted at the goddess. “Don’t you even realize how wrong what you’re doing is? What gives you the right to manipulate people like this?” A distant rumble of thunder shook the skies in response to his anger. “Didn’t you even think about how this might affect her?”

“She wasn’t supposed to see you like this!” the Love Goddess spat back. “She was supposed to be enjoying herself with Willow, except that she’s as resistant to my influence as you are. And I have every right to manipulate people as I see fit. It’s my divine privilege as the Goddess of Love…”

“Get out, ‘Dite,” Athena’s voice was cold and flat. “Nike, I don’t care if you have to drag her kicking and screaming through the streets of Olympus, but I want Aphrodite out of my home, now.” The enraged Olympian Princess fixed the object of her ire with a deadly glare. “Do not return here until I summon you, or I will not be so restrained with my anger.”

Xander restrained himself from moving until the blonde goddess Athena had called Nike escorted his cousin out of the palace and closed the door behind them. It was only then, when they were alone once again, that the couple disentangled themselves from one another and stood for a long moment in the awkward silence that followed. “I’m sorry,” he finally offered. “I shouldn’t have… we shouldn’t have… not like that.” Athena silenced him by placing a finger to his lips.

“It is I who should beg your pardon again, my Lord,” she said, resorting to the same formal tone she’d used earlier. “I knew that in the hours after the wedding rites were completed that we’d be vulnerable to Aphrodite’s ability to incite lust. I should have recognized what was happening for what it was.”

“Why do you do that?” the teen asked abruptly.

“Do what, my Lord?” the Olympian replied with a slightly puzzled look.

“Do that,” he repeated before clarifying. “Call me, ‘my Lord’ or ‘husband’. The only time you’ve actually called me by name was while we were,” he blushed slightly, “having sex.”

“I thought that you might prefer a more formal mode of address, given the circumstances of our marriage,” she explained with the barest hint of a grin. “Considering that many men would have been upset by the fact that I deceived you into marrying me, unintentionally or not, I didn’t wish to offend you further.”

“After everything else that’s happened today, I think it’ll be okay if you just call me Xander,” he said with a wry grin.

A broad genuine smile spread over her face at his words. “Very well, Xander, we should dress and go find Chloe and Willow. I’m afraid we have a lot to explain.”

“Yeah, that seems like a bit of an understatement,” he agreed ruefully.

“So, uh, Chloe’s your sister,” he said as he pulled his pants up a few minutes later. “How’s that possible?”

“She is my half-sister,” the goddess replied blandly as she slipped back into the gown she had discarded. “We share the same mother, Metis, but different fathers.” She turned a sympathetic smile on her husband, “I am sorry that our marriage will likely cause you problems with your plans to pursue Chloe.”

Xander shrugged. “I always thought she was more interested in Clark than me anyway, at least up until Clark and Midori hit it off last night.” He buckled his belt and scooped up his discarded t-shirt. “It seems like I always end up liking the girls who’re hung up on someone else… not that it really matters now.” He sighed and looked at the now fully clothed goddess. “I don’t know if Chloe is even going to want to have anything to do with me after this, and even if she does, I don’t think a romantic relationship with my wife’s sister could ever end well.”

“I would not take issue with it,” Athena said pointedly, “but you are right, she probably would not be pleased with the idea. It might take a very long time for her to overcome her mortal inhibitions, decades or even centuries perhaps.”

“So she’s immortal then?” the Aesir asked as he sat down to pull on his socks and shoes.

“No, she’s merely a mortal Olympian rather than a mortal human,” the goddess replied patiently. “She possesses a great deal of her mother’s power, but she is not a goddess. She will, however, live for many thousands of years if she does not fall in battle.”

The idea of Chloe or any of his other friends dying in battle didn’t sit particularly well with Xander and he fell quiet in the wake of those words. When he’d finished dressing, he stood up and forced a smile. “Well, it’s your home, any idea where they might have gone?”

* * * * *

Willow’s mind raced as she followed Chloe through the halls of Athena’s palace. She had tried to stop the other girl from seeing what Xander and the supposed Goddess of Wisdom had been doing, but Chloe had refused to be stayed from her course. Not that the redhead could blame her, if Willow hadn’t seen it with her own eyes, she’d never have believed it possible.

Okay, she could believe it was possible. After all, Xander had been completely willing to have sex with Ms. French before realizing she was a giant preying mantis and Athena was way hotter than the fake teacher had been. And then he’d tried to sexually assault Buffy while possessed by that hyena spirit, but neither of those were really his fault. Ms. French had used pheromones to manipulate him and the primal possession had shut down a lot of his human faculties. Still, she didn’t really believe Xander was capable of doing something like that of his own free will, not when he knew that it would hurt her and Chloe. And she absolutely couldn’t believe that he wouldn’t realize it would hurt them, so there had to be a rational explanation like possession or mind-control or something.

Alright, so maybe her concept of rational was a little different from most, but that was the nature of their lives.

She finally caught up to Chloe in an open courtyard at the center of the palace. The blonde was standing rather rigidly at a beautiful stone fountain, staring into the water. Everything about her posture screamed that she was upset as she stood there, her anger having overpowered her hurt. Willow approached cautiously, not wanting to startle the girl.

“Are you okay?” the red head asked, knowing the answers all too well but needing to give the girl an opening to talk.

“Yeah, just peachy,” Chloe said sullenly. “I’ve known I’ve had a sister for all of two hours and she’s already stealing my would-be boyfriends, despite having introduced me to her lesbian lover earlier. Why wouldn’t I be okay?”

The Titan’s child winced at the bitterness of the sarcasm, but before she could reply, Chloe continued. “And the worst part is that I can’t even really blame them for it. It’s not like Xander and I were actually dating or anything and Athena had no way of knowing how I might’ve felt for him.” The blonde turned around and sat on the edge of the fountain, rubbing stubbornly at the tears streaming from her eyes.

The sight of it made Willow’s heart want to break. She quickly sat down beside the Olympian and put a comforting arm around her.

“I just…I should have known better than to let myself start thinking about him as more than a friend,” the girl lamented angrily. “I just wanted to believe you and Midori so much…but all it did was let me get hurt.”

“I’m sorry, Chloe,” Willow whispered softly. “I didn’t want to see you hurt.”

“I know,” the blonde said after a short pause, her anger losing some of its edge. “It’s not you I’m mad at either… or Midori. I’m mad at myself.” She sighed loudly. “I’m mad because I never took a chance on Xander. I hid how I felt about him and now it looks like I’m too late.”

“You don’t know that for sure!” Willow protested even though it hurt to think of Chloe and Xander together. “I mean…just because he… with Athena…it doesn’t…” Chloe gave her a sardonic look and raised an eyebrow. “There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for what we saw,” she declared finally. “It might not mean what it seems like it means.”

“Willow, he was having sex with my sister against a wall, in an open room with Aphrodite and Nike watching,” came the girl’s matter-of-fact reply. “I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time buying that there could be a good explanation there that would leave me still feeling okay about dating Xander… not that he’d ever ask me out anyway.”

Through her empathic senses, Willow could feel Chloe raising barriers around her heart. She was erecting emotional defenses that would keep Xander from hurting her again. The redhead sighed softly, knowing that it was exactly what she’d done when Xander had fallen for Buffy. Right or wrong, sometimes it was just easier not to take risks with your feelings. It was a lonely way to live, but it felt like a safer way.

“Shouldn’t you at least let him explain before you give up being anything more than his friend?” Willow asked quietly.

“Why?” the Olympian asked, her tone turning brittle and bitter again. “So that I can get my hopes up again? And why would you want me to be with him anyway? I mean, I thought you’d be thrilled by all of this…” She trailed off, realizing that she’d gone too far. “I’m sorry, Willow,” she said after a momentary pause. “I didn’t mean…”

The redhead couldn’t entirely keep the hurt off her face or out of her voice. “No,” she countered finally, “you did mean it, because you’re hurt and you’re angry and you can’t help those things. And the truth is that a part of me, a small, very selfish part of me, wants to be happy about this, but I can’t. I can’t be happy if you’re hurting.” She swallowed hard before continuing, “I want you to be happy, Chloe, because I’m you’re friend. I can’t take joy in your pain, no matter what it might, or might not, mean for the future.”

Ashamed of her actions, Chloe hugged Willow fiercely and just held onto the redhead for several long minutes. Willow hugged her back just as strongly, comforting her friend and murmuring soft reassurances. It was only as they heard the sounds of approaching footsteps that they finally separated. They looked up to see Athena and Xander enter the courtyard together, with Xander looking tremendously embarrassed.

“Chloe, Willow!” he exclaimed in relief at seeing them. “I’m so glad that the two of you are okay and I’m so sorry you walked in on that earlier…”

“No,” Chloe said sharply, forcing a smile. “You really don’t have to explain. You’re both consenting…deities and its not really any of our business, honest.” She stood up without hesitating. “In fact, after everything that’s happened today, I would really just appreciate it if we could all just go home and be done with it.”

The Aesir froze, taken aback by the girl’s response. He could tell quite easily that she’d been upset and crying and yet didn’t want to know what was going on. It didn’t make sense to him at all. He opened his mouth to protest but caught a short, subtle, head shake from Willow telling him to just let it go. Unfortunately, he couldn’t just let it go, not until she knew the truth about his relationship with Athena. “Chloe, I…”

“Chloe,” Athena interrupted, preventing Xander from just blurting out the fact that they were married. “I would beg your pardon for both of us. We wronged you in what we did today or at least in how we did it, and I would not wish your enmity, sister.”

“There’s nothing to forgive, Athena,” Chloe repeated adamantly. “Xander and I are just friends. It was embarrassing to walk in on you like that, that’s all.”

Even Willow was surprised by how sincere Chloe sounded. She was clearly a lot better at hiding her emotions then Willow had ever been. If she hadn’t known better, hadn’t seen the tears and heard the pain in the girl’s voice, even she would have been fooled by it.

“Chloe,” Xander began again and Athena let him continue this time, “Athena and I are married.”

Under any other circumstances, the looks of shock on the faces of the two teenaged girls would have been priceless.

* * * * *
Midori watched for a long moment as Clark just stared at the small metal disk he’d retrieved. The ring’s AI and sensors definitely confirmed Clark’s assessment that the device was intended to unlock and activate other Kryptonian technology. She was troubled, however, by the timing of its discovery. She’d barely known Xander for a whole day at this point and she’d already begun to distrust coincidence. It had lain here for more than a decade, less than five miles from the Kent farm, why had it waited until now to reveal its existence? Judging from the almost unreadable expression on the Kryptonian’s face, she wasn’t the only one who found it a little odd.

“So, now what? We fly back to the farm, put the key in the ship and see what happens?” she asked skeptically.

“No,” the word carried an odd note of doubt in it. “We’ve got more than enough to deal with between what happened in LA, Chloe and Willow vanishing, and Xander running to the rescue. This can wait a while.”

The Green Lantern could easily hear the worry in those statements and agreed with the sentiment, despite herself. “They’ll be okay, Clark,” she offered with all the reassurance she could muster. “Xander won’t rest until they’re all home safe.”

“I know,” he agreed with a nod, “but what if Xan’s bitten off more than he can chew this time? I’d feel a lot better if we were there to help.”

That thought, too, she could understand and agree with. She’d never much cared for being left on the sidelines while her friends were in trouble. She simply returned Clark’s nod in agreement. “We should head back to the farm anyway,” she finally suggested. “That’s where Xander and the girls are going to be heading when they come back.”

Clark looked at her with a thoughtful expression. “You do realize that my parents are going to be pretty upset about today? And I don’t just mean the fight in Los Angeles, the fact that you, Chloe and Willow know about my abilities won’t exactly go over well either.”

“The thought had occurred to me,” she said looking Clark in the eye. “Or at least the part about our unplanned media debut being a problem had occurred to me. Why?”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t want to meet them like this,” he said with a slight smile. “You, Chloe and Willow don’t have to be there and endure the lectures and arguments that are going to come out of today.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I’ve been getting in trouble with my friends for as long as I can remember, Clark, and not once in all that time have I ever bailed and left someone else to face up to something I had a hand in by themselves.” She smiled slightly, “I think that I can endure the wrath of the Kent parents. I mean, they couldn’t be any worse than some of the other parents that have gotten mad at me in the past. Hell, they couldn’t possibly be any worse than my last stepmother.”

The Kryptonian gave her a strange look. “You make a habit of getting into trouble with your friends?”

“I moved in very different social circles than I was expected to while I lived in Gotham,” she explained with a shrug and a grin. “Which made it very easy to get into trouble whether I meant to or not. But don’t worry. I’m not some sort of juvenile delinquent or anything… I just have a healthy tendency to do what I think is right and damn the rules.”

Clark chuckled. “Well then, between you and Xander, my dad should argue himself into a heart attack before we finish high school.” He slipped the disc into his pocket and reactivated his uniform. “Dad has a tendency to see the world in absolute black and white and doesn’t cope well with gray areas.”

‘Which explains a lot,’ Midori thought with a smile. Aloud, she spoke with just the right amount of sarcasm, “Well then, this should be fun.”

The rest of the trip back to the Kent Farm took only moments. The two teens landed unnoticed behind the barn and shifted instantly out of their uniforms. Clark even went so far as to peel off the gloves that generated his costume and shove them in the pocket of his jacket. Neither of them had noticed whether or not anyone else had made it back to the farm yet as they landed and they were both somewhat relieved when it became apparent that Mr. and Mrs. Kent, at least, hadn’t gotten home yet.

“How long does it take to drive back from Metropolis anyway?” Midori asked as they walked toward the house from the barn.

“Around three hours, depending on traffic,” Clark said with a shrug.

“Well then, if they saw the news about LA and left about the same time that we knocked Lenny out, they should be home any time now,” she commented.

“Do you really think they might’ve seen it on the news?” the Kryptonian asked with a frown. “I mean, we’re a long way from LA here…”

“Clark, I’m betting that people in Outer Mongolia or deep in Siberia saw that fight on the news,” she said pointedly. “I mean superheroes and super-villains beating each other up on the streets of LA? It’s kinda newsworthy, in the make your entire career as a reporter sort of way.”

He sighed. “I know, but I can hope they didn’t see it, right? It might be easier if they don’t find out about it from the television or radio… or any other news report.”

She put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’ll be okay either way,” she reassured him sincerely. “I’m sure that your parents are reasonable people. We’ll just have to make them understand why we did what we did.”

The sound of a vehicle turning off of the paved road and into the driveway of the farm interrupted the moment and caused both teens to stop on the porch steps where they stood. The sight of a bright red, full-size pickup truck coming toward them inspired a knot of tension to settle in both of their stomachs. Jonathan and Martha Kent were home.

* * * * *

Xander couldn’t help but grimace at the looks on Willow and Chloe’s faces. There were bound to have been better ways to announce his marriage to Athena and he almost immediately regretted just dropping the bomb on them like that, especially since they spent more than a minute just gaping silently at him in shock. They both reminded him of fish out of water, only without all the flopping around.

“You’re what?” Chloe finally managed to ask in an incredulous tone.

“We are married, little sister,” Athena replied calmly before Xander could open his mouth and potentially do more damage. “Zeus and Odin arranged my betrothal to the Prince of Asgard at the end of the war against the Titans. Thor and I were never wed, so when Xander claimed Thor’s legacy, he became my betrothed husband. He and I were married a short while ago.”

“And we weren’t even invited to the wedding?” Willow asked, sounding surprised, despite the almost ridiculous question. As Chloe, Xander, and Athena all turned questioning gazes on her, the redhead blushed brightly. “Okay, so, yeah, not really the point…but still…”

“There was no wedding, not like we’re used to thinking of one anyone,” the Aesir said with a half-suppressed grin at Willow’s embarrassment. He immediately turned serious once more though, “What happened was the result of a big misunderstanding…but it’s done and there’s no way to undo it, even if we could talk Odin and Zeus out of the arrangement. There’s no divorce among either group, the only way to end our marriage is for one of us to die.”

There was another long pause as the two girls considered what they were being told. Finally, Chloe sat back down on the edge of the fountain with a sigh. “I take back what I said earlier,” she announced with a frown, “you really do need to explain what’s going on here. How, exactly, do you accidentally get married and then end up having sex with your new wife? Or was that an accident too?”

“I didn’t even know about the betrothal, Chloe,” Xander answered with a matching frown at the edge of hurt and disbelief in his friend’s voice, “but Athena thought I did…”

“Aphrodite led me to believe that Xander knew about it without ever telling me an outright lie about it,” Athena explained. “She assured me that someone had talked to Xander about me, and I assumed she meant he’d been told about the betrothal.” Athena then went on to tell the two girls about the nature of Olympian marriage rites and how she and Xander had managed to accidentally get married. She stopped she saw the dark expression on Willow’s face in the wake of the story.

“Why on Earth would you allow Xander to claim you?” she demanded, knowing that Chloe wanted the answer as much as she did. “I mean, you’re thousands of years old and he’s only sixteen… isn’t that sort of… icky?”

“Age has no meaning among truly immortal beings,” the goddess replied with a shrug. “Xander is an adult by the standards of both Asgard and Olympus and I would not show him disrespect by treating him like a child because of the difference in our ages. I had no reason to refuse his claim, especially since Odin and Zeus would not have relented and dissolved the betrothal.” She paused, looking Chloe in the eye for a long moment, before shifting her eyes back to meet Willow’s gaze. “The only thing that our misunderstanding and Aphrodite’s schemes changed about the situation is when this happened. Sooner or later, Xander and I would have been forced to wed, whether we wanted to or not.”

“She’s right,” Chloe admitted sadly. “I don’t think that few arguments about the unfairness of arranged marriages would be all that likely to sway the opinions of either Zeus or Odin from what I know of mythology. But that still doesn’t explain the sex part… but then I guess you’re married and don’t exactly have to explain it.”

“That was also Aphrodite’s doing,” Athena explained with a distinct sadness in her voice. “Normally her ability to manipulate emotions like love or lust in other gods is almost nonexistent, but the magickal nature of the wedding rites left us vulnerable to her.”

“And in the heat of the moment, we didn’t even realize what she had done,” Xander dropped his eyes and blushed, bothered by his lack of self-control, even in the face of Aphrodite’s power.

“So what are you going to do about it?” Willow finally asked.

“What can we do about it?” he asked back pointedly. “Even if divorce were possible, I doubt Odin or Zeus would allow us to undo this.”

“So you’re just going to spend the rest of eternity trapped in a loveless marriage?” the redhead seemed very upset with that idea. “No wonder Greek mythology reads like an ancient soap opera.”

“That is where you are wrong, Willow,” the Goddess of Wisdom countered. “I have watched Xander his entire life, knowing he would one day be my husband, and I already care for him very deeply. We have all of eternity to get to know one another better and I do not doubt that love will grow between us in time.”

Xander noticed that she intentionally avoided mentioning the spiritual nature of their union, but did not comment on it. He, too, was loathe to mention the undeniably intimate bond that it had formed between them, a bond that already made it impossible for him to dislike Athena. Having sex with the goddess, even under Aphrodite’s influence, had deepened the connection between them, causing that thin and thready presence he’d felt at first to grow considerably stronger and more substantial. It wasn’t entirely unlike the feelings he’d first felt when he met Buffy or Chloe.

“But what about you and Nike?” Chloe’s question cut through Xander’s moment of introspection like a knife.

“Nike has been my favored consort since long before my betrothal to the Prince of Asgard,” Athena explained, “and my marriage to Xander will not change that fact. Our marriages do not imply a sexually monogamous relationship, as I’ve already explained to Xander.” She shot a sly wink at Willow, who blushed furiously in response, as she continued, “And that is actually why Greek mythology reads like an ancient soap opera.”

“So Xander’s free to just sleep with whomever he wants?” the blonde asked, seeming deeply shocked by that revelation.

“He can do as he pleases,” the Goddess of Wisdom confirmed, “pursuing whatever relationships he desires, though his other lovers will always have to share him with me.”

Xander, meanwhile, had turned to face Athena with a wide-eyed look of surprise on his face. “Nike is your consort?” he asked, clearly surprised. There was no trace of disapproval, disappointment or anger in his voice though, merely startled curiosity. “You and she are…” At his wife’s unashamed nod, he got a faraway look and a slight smile on his face and merely said, “Huh…”

Stepping close to the obviously distracted teenaged deity, the goddess leaned in and whispered just loud enough for him to hear, “Perhaps, when you feel more comfortable with our marriage, you might like to join us sometime? Nike can be rather insatiable when the mood strikes her.”

Despite the fact that he had just been fantasizing about precisely that, as nearly any hormonal teenaged boy might have, the brazen offer effectively shut his brain down for several moments and caused him to blush fiercely. He stared back at Athena for a long moment, unable to deny the slightly seductive smile she wore and having no idea how to answer her… or if an answer was even necessary for that matter. He wasn’t even entirely sure that she wasn’t just teasing him. He finally decided that discretion was the better part of valor and wisely changed the subject.

“We should, uh, get back to Smallville,” he said, ignoring the amused grins the girls’, all three of them, wore at his obvious discomfort, “before Clark and Midori have a chance to get any more worried than they probably already are.”

Taking mercy on him, Chloe and Willow rose to their feet with a nod of agreement as Xander’s hammer appeared in his hand. Athena leaned in and pressed a soft kiss on Xander’s cheek before straightening. An oddly soft look passed between the Thunder God and the War Goddess almost unnoticed by the others.

“Good luck to you all,” the goddess said finally. “I hope that I will see you all again soon.”

A flash of lightning and a crash of thunder rent the air as Xander moved the two girls and himself between Olympus and Smallville. The trio found themselves abruptly standing directly between Clark and Midori, who were just behind them, and Jonathan and Martha, who were just getting out of the truck.

Xander sighed. At least his luck seemed to be consistent if nothing else…
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