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i don't own any of the recognizable characters or places in this story. those things are owned by Marvel and whoever the hell else owns them. i'm not making any money off this fic so please don't sue me. i've got nothing to give.

the pantheon of Greek gods is kind of public domain. i apologize ahead of time for any possible mangling i've done of them here.

this whole thing is all in good fun.
 
Substitute Cupid
Chapter 1 of 1
Expand Author's Story Note
 

"Clint. Clint Barton. Wake up."

That was my name being spoken in a deep, rumbling voice that obviously belonged to someone who expected immediate compliance. I muttered something very impolite under my breath, then rolled onto my stomach and buried my face into my pillow. A long night of drinking had left me with a hangover that would have downed an elephant. It felt as if I'd barely climbed into my bed, my brain still really foggy with all of the beer I'd had. Someone had a real fucking nerve trying to wake me up before the sun marked midday.

"Clint! Wake up now!"

I think I told Steve to fuck off before I managed to drift off again.

"Look, you annoying prat. I don't need this crap. I've had one hell of a night myself. Do you know what kind of an asshole that Lester character is? It took everything in me to not smite him with a bolt of lightning."

Why would Steve be talking about lightning and smiting and... Lester? Okay. Maybe this wasn't Steve. Maybe this was some kind of freaky, weird ass dream brought on by far too much alcohol and not enough common sense or sleep. That had to be the only explanation because there was no way in hell that Lester could come up otherwise. That was it. I was going on the wagon. No more drinking like that for me. Maybe I should take up a hobby like needle point or knitting or something.

Yeah.  That would go over well. I could already hear the laughter such activities would get me. Whatever. I'd figure it out when I woke up. Decision made, I dragged the covers up over my head and pushed the annoying and strange dream away.

There was a heavy sigh. "Right. I didn't want to have to resort to such tactics, but you've forced my hand." The blankets were tugged away quickly while the room filled with an intense, bright light. It was so intense, I could see it through my eyelids. What the hell kind of dream was this?

Sitting up proved to me that I was still drunk, my head spinning just enough to produce a groan for my efforts. My hands scrubbed at my face, the prickle of stubble against my palms letting me know that I needed to shave. The light hadn't faded any. I threw an arm up over my eyes, trying to hide from the rich, golden illumination. "Dude. What the fuck?"

"Oh. Sorry. I forget myself sometimes. Excuse me." The voice was filled with mirth, not apology. But the light dimmed and I found myself blinking against shadows until my vision caught up with the low levels of illumination that filled the room. I found a man standing at the foot of my bed, wrapped up in a toga with long hair, a full beard and a mustache. He seemed to glow, as if light lived under his skin, and the ends of his hair, beard and toga kind of disappeared into clouds.

Was it possible to be dreaming while wide awake? I had to think it was, because that's what I was doing. Wait. It wasn't a dream once you woke up, was it? It was a hallucination. Whatever. It was the only sign I needed. "That's it. I'm never drinking that much again. Never ever again."

"Why is that?" The man's voice was polite in its question. That proved I was imagining all of this crap. I found myself answering the stranger anyway.

"Because I'm imagining you. That suggests that I drank too much. Not to mention my head is pounding like Lars Ulrich is playing his drum kit up there."

"Here. Allow me." The hallucination reached out and laid one of his glowing hands on my forehead. The ache and spinning disappeared in an instant. I took a moment to make sure every part of me was feeling the same thing and on the same page. A quick glance out the window showed that it was still dark out. The clock beside my bed said it was only just four. I hadn't been asleep long. I finally turned my attention to my nocturnal visitor.

"Um... Thanks. I think."

"Don't mention it." Was it my imagination or was my hallucination floating? He seemed to be shifting back and forth slowly, as if he was caught in a gentle breeze. Apparently, I was staring because he cleared his throat. "Up here."

"Sorry. You're moving."

"It happens. You get used to it after a few millennia." Yes. I was dreaming or halucinating or something. "Pay attention, will you? I've come here because I need your help."

"My help? With what?"

"I have a proposition for you." He had a proposition for me? No wonder Lester had been an asshole. That psychopath didn't swing that way. Neither did I.

"Sorry, buddy, but you're poking it up the wrong butt."

"What?" The man stared at me, obviously not comprehending my meaning. That lasted for a few seconds, then it finally hit and he scowled at me. "No! No. That isn't the proposition I have for you. What is it with you people? I'm Greek so that automatically makes me a catamite? Get your mind out of the gutter, will you? This is serious business. I need your help, for Eros' sake."

"What kind of help?" I was a little more awake, though not much. There was a feeling to this guy that I recognized, even if I couldn't put a name on it right at the moment.

"One of my people is having some personal problems. I thought you might be able to help me with it."

"What kind of personal problems? How can I help you? I don't even know what the hell is going on here." I didn't even know who the hell I was talking to. "And just who the ever loving hell are you? I've had a long, bad night and I really need some sleep. I don't need to spend it talking to some hallucination that seems to think I give a shit about his problems."

"I'm Zeus." He said it with an air of arrogance that said I was supposed to recognize the name immediately. I blinked at him. At least my hallucinations were damned impressive. If I remembered this when I woke up, I was going to have to write it all down. Blinking was obviously the wrong reaction because he heaved a long suffering sigh and crossed his glowing arms over his toga. The ends of his hair and beard, as well as the clouds, moved with agitation. "You mortals are all the same. Willing to believe in the young upstart, but totally unwilling to believe in the gods that came before hand. Yes, you nitwit. I'm that Zeus. Greek god of weather and all that shit. Catch up with me. I need you to pay attention."

"Zeus? Really?" Hallucination or not, I was having a hard time buying into that one. I got another sigh for that, followed by a wicked flash of lightning and an ominous crack of thunder. Inside my room. Damn. What had I had to drink the night before? This was the best hallucination ever.

"Yes. Zeus. Now be quiet and listen. I don't have much time. I'm on a schedule and fighting with that psycho Lester person has put me behind."

"You mean Bullseye? What were you fighting with him about?"

"If you'll just shut up and let me get on with it!" Zeus snapped. Fine. I sighed and gave him a nod. He stared at me a moment before figuring that I was going to be quiet, then he nodded to himself and went on. "It would seem one of my people is indisposed and is unable to fulfill his duties. As you know, this is a busy time of year for us gods and..."

"This is? What time of year is that?"

"Oh, for... Its Valentine's Day in a matter of days. Do you honestly think that true love and romance happen all by themselves? No wonder you're such a mess in the romance department." Zeus sounded disgusted. That made two of us. Because his mention of Valentine's Day reminded me that I was without a girlfriend this year. Which was why I'd been out drinking. Fucking peachy. Now my hallucinations were punishing me. "Can I finish now?"

I shrugged. It was his dime.

Zeus shot me a glare, then started in again. "As I was saying, one of my people is indisposed, so I'm looking for a replacement for him. Someone to do his duties for Valentine's Day. I tried that nasty Lester person, but he told me to piss off. Vulgar man, that one."

"Yeah. He's a real charmer. Should I be offended that you went to Bullseye first?"

"I should have avoided him altogether. Do you know he told me to suck his... Well. I left right after that. I really am going to have to smite the smug bastard for being so callous." I watched as Zeus produced a PDA from somewhere within his toga, pulled the little stylus from its spot and started tapping the tip of it against the screen.

"Wow. Gods are up to date on tech."

"We try to be forward thinking. Ares got into the stock market with IBM and made a killing. He's been rubbing my nose into it ever since. Whiny little prick." The last bit was muttered under his breath, but I heard him just the same. As soon as he was done doing whatever it was he was doing, the PDA disappeared into his toga and he gave his attention back to me. "Anyway, after spending a few minutes listening to Lester's foul mouth, he suggested a few things that are impossible for even a god. I knew I was wasting my time, so I decided to seek you out. Word of your amazing skills have spread far and wide."

He ended it there, as if that explained things. Which skills was he referring to? My sarcastic mouth or my tendency to be hot tempered? Or was he talking about what others called my rash behavior? I had a few talents, but I didn't think any of them were so amazing that others sat up and took notice. The only one that had really earned me a good reputation was my ability with my bow and... Hey! There was no way he was here for my archery skills. Because if that was what he needed, then he was talking about the diaper guy.

"I see you take my meaning."

"And I say no."

Zeus sighed and shook his head. "You haven't even heard what it is I need of you."

"I'm not about to, either. There's no way in hell I'm going to play Cupid for you." There was no way in hell I was going to put on a diaper and flitter from one couple to another, shooting love arrows at them.

"But I'm desperate, Clint. I need someone to play Eros and you fit the bill. You're the most qualified for the job. Eros has perfect aim. He always hits his target. He..." Zeus stopped and sighed. "Eros is the Greek name for the person you humans call Cupid. Really. What are your schools teaching you?"

"Eros. Cupid. It doesn't matter. I'm not doing it."

"Look. I'm really in a bind. If I had anyone else I could turn to, I'd do it. But Eros is a mess. He's in the middle of a huge divorce from Psyche and he isn't taking it well. She's decided she wants half of everything he owns, right down to his wings, bow and the quiver of arrows he wears upon his back. When he isn't fighting with her in court, he's off with Dionysus. The two of them get positively shitfaced and I'm left cleaning up the mess. Have you ever seen what comes of a yak and a tiger when they mate? It isn't pretty, let me tell you."

"I think I dreamt something like that once when I was positively shitfaced," I replied. Whatever it was, it had been pretty damned weird.

"I'm asking for a personal favor here. I can reward you with anything your heart desires. No strings attached. And it isn't like this would be a permanent gig. I know you've got something going with the Avengers. Its just this one time."

"Anything?" If I was dreaming, I could ask for anything. Right?

"Anything." Zeus nodded, making his hair, beard and the clouds shift. It was making me kind of sick.

"If I say yes, will you go away so I can sleep?"

"Of course."

"Fine. Okay. Whatever. I'll do it. Just go away and let me sleep."

"Thank you, Clint. You're a life saver." Zeus started to fade out.

"Wait a minute. How will I know what to do?"

"You'll receive detailed instructions tomorrow. When your head is clear. Good night and sleep well." He was gone before I could even climb back up to the head of the bed and hug the pillow to me.

~*~

I woke up with a fuzzy head, a stiff neck and a dull ache in the middle of my back that I had no explanation for. I wasn't worried because I knew from experience that everything would work itself out after a shower, some pain killers and a work out. I headed straight for the bathroom and flicked on the light, pausing for a moment to check my reflection. Hmmm. Maybe some coffee, too. I looked like hell. I needed a shave in the worst way and my hair was going in fifty different directions at once. 

Shower first, then a shave.

I turned for the stall, then decided to take a moment to make sure all the drinking wasn't catching up with me. I admit to a moment of conceit every now and then. A glance in the mirror said no. I was still nice and ripped and buff and... Something stirred across my back, something that tickled against my skin and seemingly moved of its own accord. So what the hell was that?

In trying to figure out what was going on, I found myself twisting and contorting in an attempt to get a good look at my back. I eventually had to find a second mirror in order to really see what it was. And when I did... "What the fuck? You've got to be kidding me!"

Resting against my shoulder blades were a pair of small wings. Cherub's wings. Purple cherub's wings. They were much too small for my back and looked like they belonged on a cat or dog or something equally small. Little purple cherub's wings. It was a travesty, an absolute crime. Those things would never hold me up. Not that I expected to fly, but if I was going to... I'd be a laughing stock with such tiny assed wings. It was the first time in my life that I'd ever been envious of pigeons, eagles, condors and Warren Worthington.

"Fucking hell." I muttered. Maybe Zeus hadn't been the one who'd visited me last night in my dream or whatever it was. Maybe it had been Loki. This seemed like something that fucking idiot would do. Right down to the minuscule wings that would have been more at home on the back of one of those chicks who dressed in all black and liked to pretend they were deep and depressed and misunderstood. Rolling my eyes the ceiling, I couldn't stop myself from speaking out loud. "This isn't funny!"

The tiny little wings fluttered in response.

There was something really sad about those purple wings flapping madly against my back. They weren't even big enough to extend past my shoulders. This had to be some kind of really sad, really sick joke. Couldn't I at least have gotten a full set of wings? Why was I cursed with a puny pair that wouldn't let a seagull fly?

That thought brought me up short. What the hell was I thinking about? I couldn't fly with the wings anymore than I could without. And I sure as hell wasn't going to play Cupid for some self-destructive god with a taste for the grape... Again, I had to catch my thoughts before they ran away from me. What the hell was going through my head? I get a pair of wings and all of a sudden I couldn't stop my brain from working in conjunction with those annoying little wings. Maybe they weren't real and I was just imagining all of this. Maybe I was still dreaming.

Desperate to prove to myself that this was all a very bad dream, I reached up and back, over my shoulder, and curled my hand over the base of one of the offending, abnormal appendages. This was nothing more than a dream. All I needed to do was tug the wing off and I'd wake up. It was a simple solution to a disturbing dilemma. Fingers holding tight to the wing, I tugged hard. Pain ripped up and down my back, pulled a few curse words out of my mouth that would have earned me a smack or two from someone's mother.

"I am really not amused by all of this," I grumbled, staring at myself in the mirror. I could just barely hear the air stirring behind me as the wings beat against my skin. They were surprisingly soft and almost felt like silk. And too god damned feminine. Hadn't I seen an image of Cupid once with these giant assed, manly wings? Was I being punished with these little wings? "Come on! This is so wrong!"

The wings fluttered again. hard. Apparently, they responded to my agitation. The more upset I got, the more they seemed to move. The breeze they created was kind of strong and chill against my bare skin, reminding me that I was as naked as I had been when I'd climbed into bed. Right. Shower. I'd been on my way into the shower.

It was the quickest clean up in history. I wasn't sure how the water would affect the wings, but I needn't have worried. They fanned and flapped and basked in the water that poured over them while I washed the smell of smoke and beer from my hair and skin. I was done in ten and five after that, the stubble had been taken off my chin. Now all I needed to do was get dressed and...

"Shit."

The wings flapped in time with my anger. How the hell was I supposed to get a shirt on? I could pull on a pair of jeans, but I'd have to ruin my shirts in order to put them on. The day was going from bad to worse so quickly that it wasn't even funny. Soon enough, the wings were going so hard that I found myself hovering over the floor. Well, that was a surprise. Apparently, small though they were, they would enable to me to sort of fly.

A sly grin curled my lips up. There could be an upside to the wings. If I could get enough height, I could possibly peer into a few windows.

You're not wearing the wings to abuse them.  The voice echoed loudly in my bathroom, startling me. The wings stopped moving and I found myself back on the ground. If not for all of my training, I'd have ended up on the floor on my ass. You have a job to do, Clint. The sooner you get to it, the sooner you can give your wings back.

Great. Zeus was back. Unmindful of my nakedness, I stepped out of the bathroom into my bedroom. I didn't see a toga draped man with a beard, but I swore I could feel his presence. I was kind of uncomfortable with talking to someone who wasn't really there. But I'd done stranger things, hadn't I? Don't answer that. "Tiny purple wings? Really?"

You're only a temporary Cupid, Clint. You don't need the full wings. There was a hint of amusement in his voice. And I thought purple was your color. I didn't think they'd bother you so much.

"They're kind of girly," I replied.

They'll be gone by Valentine's Day, provided you accomplish your tasks. Zeus assured me. I wasn't sure I was ready to trust him, but it wasn't like I had much of a choice. Besides, he'd mentioned tasks.

"What tasks? You didn't mention tasks last night."

Do you think I just came to you because I wanted to see you wearing the wings? I admit, they look cute on you. But there's more to this than the wings. There are duties to be filled and you accepted those duties when you agreed to act as a substitute Cupid. Now that you're wearing the wings, you have to fill the contract.

I sighed. There was a note in the god's voice that said there was no amount of debate or arguing that would change his mind. "Fine. What do I have to do?"

Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed. When things cleared, I found several items laid out on my bed. I cringed. This was getting worse by the second. A quiver of black leather laid empty, waiting to be filled with the arrows that rested next to it. Each of them had fletching of purple feathers on shafts of glossy black. Picking one up let me know that they were wooden shafts, probably ebony. And it also let me know that the heads on each arrow was heart shaped. Honest to God. I couldn't make this shit up even if I tried. Bright pink hearts. The word "Love" was scrawled on each arrow head in gold letters.

Resting near the arrows were a pair of leather briefs, They were black. They looked as if they would barely cover the merchandise. And they had a single, large purple heart on the crotch. "There is no way in hell I'm putting those on. I wouldn't be caught dead wearing those in the bedroom with a woman, much less in public where everyone could see them."

You're in luck, then. No one is going to see you. Well, no one but myself and the other gods of Olympus. Zeus paused and I swear I could hear him thinking. Well, the gods of Asgard might be able to see you. But I'm not sure about that. And I know that none of the mortals will see you. Your reputation will be safe.

Not if Thor saw me.

Look. You can either wear these or you can wear the diaper. Your choice.

"That isn't much of a fucking choice, if you ask me. But there's no way I'm wearing the fucking diaper."

There you go then. I frowned and wondered if I could get away with cursing a god. Zeus sounded so damned smug. Determined to ignore him, I took a look at the last item. It appeared to be a sheet of parchment. It felt old to the touch when I picked it up. And there was nothing on it. Okay. That made no sense. The names will reveal themselves to you when you officially take up your duties. Meaning when you put on the mantle of office.

"You mean when I put on the bikini briefs."

And the quiver filled with arrows.

"What about a bow? Why isn't there one of those?"

You already have a bow, Clint. Oh, no. Surely he didn't mean my custom made bow. There was no way in hell I was going to fire off those ridiculous love arrows with my custom made bow. I beg to differ, Clint. You made a deal. Those arrows won't work with any other bow. I suggest you get dressed and get about your duties. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll finish them up and be rid of those wings you detest so much.

Mental note to self: Never make deals with ancient gods when one has consumed the entire contents of a bar.

I could feel Zeus' presence weighing on me as I stood there and stared at the items on my bed. I really didn't want to do this. And the more I stared, the more that feeling grew. But the god was right. My obligations would be over all the sooner if I put on the briefs, loaded up the quiver and strung it over my shoulder, then grabbed my bow and had at it. I just... really didn't want to do it. I'd be a laughing stock.

No one will be able to see you, Clint. They'll never know. Once again, Zeus sounded smug, Bastard. There's no reason for you to delay this any longer. Take up the mantle of your office.

Fine. Whatever. If it would help put this nightmare to an end, I'd do it. But I wouldn't like it. Not at all. I scooped up the leather briefs and worked into them. Surprisingly, they were soft and supple. The leather conformed to my shape as if they'd been custom made for it. Oh. Wait. They had been. I wandered over to the other side of the room, not quite able to stop myself, and took a look in the wall mirror.

The briefs were... obscene. The heart on the front was huge and it acted like a bullseye, drawing all attention right to my crotch. I was so glad that no one would see me like this because I'd never hear the end of it. Tony would go out of his way to make my life hell. The heart on the butt looks especially attractive. As if marking the spot.

"What?" What the hell? I turned to see what Zeus was talking about. And groaned to see a purple heart on my ass. It was smaller than the one on my crotch and, as the god had said, seemed to be centered just so. As if to serve as an invitation. Son of a bitch. Now I really hoped that Zeus was right because if Tony saw this...

The wings flapped hard and fast with my frustration and I was soon hovering over the floor again. "You'd better be right about no one being able to see me or I swear, I'll put one through your cloudy crotch."

All I got in reply was laughter. Heaving a sigh, I forced myself to calm down. As soon as my feet touched the ground, I headed for the bed and began gathering up the arrows. When they were in the quiver, I slung it over my shoulder. The tube rested right between those annoying little wings. All that was left was to collect my bow and the parchment. The bow felt good in my hand, something sane in all of the insanity. It was a comfort I needed and I took a moment to simply enjoy it. Finally, after several long moments, I picked up the parchment and looked at it.

Ink flowed like rapid growing vines across the page, tiny black rivers that formed letters and words. I had to admit, it was kind of a cool effect. But the novelty wore off as soon as I saw the names. There were only two names showing, both at the bottom of the page. There was a large empty space above them, as if someone had erased all of the entries above those names. "What the fuck? Steve and Tony? You've got to be shitting me." But thinking on it, I realized that there'd been far too many training sessions where everyone else had quit and gone to the showers, but Tony and Steve had stayed behind. "Okay. Yeah. I can see it. I always knew there was something going on there."

Your task this week is to finally get those two together. They've been avoiding Cupid's arrows for years. It doesn't matter what he's tried. They've dodged the bullet. You're going to put an end to that. Shoot them both with special love arrows and your job is done. The wings and all other paraphernalia associated with being Cupid will disappear.

"You said they won't be able to see me?" The last thing I wanted to do was step foot out into the hall and have people see me dressed like this.

They won't be able to see you.

"What happens when they come looking for me?"

You've left them a note, saying that you're taking a break and will be back in a few days. No one will be the wiser.

My ass. I sighed and shook my head. Much as I didn't want to do this, I was fully committed now. Nothing for it but to get down to brass tacks. Maybe I'd get lucky and both Steve and Tony would walk into the arrows and save me an extended run of embarrassment.

One last word, Clint. You have to strike them with the arrows at exactly the same time. If not, the magic that has been crafted into them will not take. And since you cannot be in two places at once... Zeus trailed off. Not that it mattered. I knew exactly what he was telling me.

Fucking peachy. Getting those two together was going to be just fucking peachy.

~*~

Zeus had apparently been telling the truth. Upon exiting my room, I found myself almost face to face with Pietro. He didn't see me. I was sure he couldn't see me because if he had, he would have made some smart assed comment about the hearts on my briefs. I had never been so glad in all my life that I was invisible to my friends. This was an indignity that my ego would never live down. Of course, as tight as the briefs were, I could have probably impressed a few women.

And probably quite a few men, too.

Pushing that disturbing thought from my head, I made my way up the hall. I didn't really have a plan of attack where Tony and Steve were concerned. It was actually rather hard to catch the two of them alone long enough to fire a couple of those magic love arrows at them. Tony was always on the go with one project or another and Steve... Well, there was a bet running around the mansion as to just who he was passing his time with.

The mansion was quiet as I made my way downstairs. Since it was morning, chances were good I'd find my targets in the kitchen. If nothing else, they'd be reading their respective sections of the paper and sipping coffee. It was a routine they'd followed for a long time. Wow. I stopped and thought about it. That was a long time to do the same thing. Together. It would seem that Tony and Steve had gotten married quite some time ago and didn't know it. I guess that made it my job to make them realize that they had.

If they started having sex on the kitchen table, I was never eating in the mansion again. Ever.

The kitchen was mildly crowded. Jarvis was at the stove, preparing the morning meal for everyone. Tony and Steve were sitting at the table, just as I'd thought they would be. Each had a section of the paper and a cup of coffee. They were blatantly ignoring one another without realizing they were doing it. Beyond them, Jan and Hank were involved in a staring contest that led me to believe they were in one of their off again periods. They were almost always in an off again period these days.

"Where's Clint this morning? Sleeping off another night on the town?" Steve sounded disinterested, as if he was just looking for something to say so that he had a reason to talk to Tony.

"He's gone off again," Tony remarked over his paper. "I found a note from him this morning. Apparently, he's on some pilgrimage to... Hell, I don't know where he went. The note just mentioned a pilgrimage and getting his head on straight and a few other things that sound like him."

"Really? What is it this time?" Steve turned the page.

"Don't you mean who?" Tony asked.

"Fresh muffins?" Jarvis set a tray of just out of the oven blueberry muffins on the table between the two men. They both waited until he'd turned away before reaching for one of the tasty treats. Their hands met and touched over a muffin, just a brief brush of skin, then pulled away as if both extremities had been burned. Oh, yeah. They were hot for one another. How had I missed this before? This was going to be so damned easy. I'd be rid of my wings in just a few minutes.

Reaching over my shoulder in a motion that was as familiar to me as walking, my hand grasped at the ends of two arrows. I pulled them from the quiver and brought them over my head. The golden lettering on the heads glittered at me mockingly. Daring me to fail at my duties. Right. I'd show them. I was Hawkeye, the Avenger with perfect aim. Steve and Tony were going down.

On each other, that was.

Fitting the notched ends to the bow, I turned the weapon sideways so that the arrows were aimed at their intended targets. Just a few adjustments and.... The bow string twanged as I released the arrows. They flew straight and true. And slid right past the two men as Tony leaned down to pick something up off the floor while Steve pushed his seat back so he could stand. The arrows imbedded themselves in Hank and Jan.

What the hell? I'd just missed. I never missed! How the hell had I missed? They'd been sitting right there. And I'd missed. It was a really damn good thing they couldn't see me. Missing two targets so close to me was worse than wearing heart print briefs and sporting purple cherub wings.

My disbelief was suspended as I watched Jan and Hank take one long, lingering look at one another. It was the kind of look that one saw in the old movies, the look that said the hero and heroine were in love with one another and nothing would keep them apart. Then Jan was in Hank's arms and the two of them were kissing. And they were totally oblivious to the other people in the room.

Jarvis stared. Steve stared. Tony shook his head, got up and walked out of the kitchen. A moment later, Jarvis followed. Steve was the last to go, mostly because he couldn't seem to find his way out without walking into the wall. Only moments after they cleared out, Hank turned Jan toward the table and urged her backward with his body. The cups and papers went flying, as did Jarvis' fresh muffins. That was just wrong. Jarvis made the best blueberry muffins in the world. The table jumped and trembled as Hank laid Jan out across its top, his hands already working at the buttons of his shirt.

Ew. I was never making food in the kitchen ever again.

Before I discovered anything compromising about my teammates, there was a tugging sensation on my wings. In the blink of an eye, those purple monstrosities were flapping away and I was moving at speed down the hallway, my feet hovering a few inches off the floor. Okay. So maybe this method of transportation wasn't so bad. And the wings, little though they were, seemed to be more than capable of holding me up. I guess the wings, like the arrows, were magic or some shit. That didn't mean I had to like them. "They still look fucking stupid," I muttered to myself.

I found myself rising up the stairs, following after Steve as he climbed up to the second level. Obviously he was going to his room to get dressed. He probably had a busy day planned. But that didn't explain why I was following after him. It was almost as if the wings had a mind of their own.

Steve turned down the hallway toward his room. The wings saw me doing the same. I was only halfway there when the man opened the door to his room and stepped inside. He shut it right behind him. I was flying right at the door, was going to slam into it if the wings didn't quit pulling me. I tried to turn them off, but they apparently had a mind of their own and kept going. The humiliation. I bet Angel had never been at the mercy of his own wings.

The door loomed up in front of me and I braced myself for impact, hands out in front of me to keep my face from making contact with the solid wooden panel. I'd done that before, once or twice, and didn't relish doing it again. My palms hit the wood and didn't stop. Instead of slamming up against the panel, I found myself sinking through the wood as if I was stepping through a fall of water. There was a little resistance that was unnerving and uncomfortable, then I found myself inside Steve's private room.

The bathroom door was almost fully closed, letting me know that he was in there. A moment later, the water turned on. Naturally I'd seen him in nothing more than sweats before, or with a towel around his waist when he was fresh from the shower after a training session. But that hadn't seemed quite as... personal as this did. I was hoping beyond hope that the wings wouldn't take me in there. If they did, the only one I'd be shooting with those arrows was myself because there were just some things I didn't need or want to see.

Ten minutes later, he was out of the shower and searching for clean clothes. I made sure to avert my eyes when he whipped the towel off. There were just some things that a guy should be allowed to keep private. Instead of watching him, I spent a long time coming up with painful ways I could punish Zeus and Eros for this indignity. It wasn't going to go unpunished. That was for damn sure.

Once Steve was dressed, he was out the door again. The wings went into action, pulling me along after him as he turned up the hallway and headed away from the stairs. After a quick glance over his shoulder, he paused at Tony's door and simply stood there. I could see tension in his shoulders. No doubt he was fighting with himself, trying to decide if he should put his hand on the doorknob and turn it. Trying to decide if he should give in to what he obviously felt for the other man.

He stood there like that for a long time, then his hand curled into a fist. He turned away from the door and made his way to the stairs. The wings were on autopilot and fluttered me back out of his way as he passed before sending me off after him. Wow. It would seem this Cupid gig required me to follow after the other man until I'd accomplished my mission.

Tonight. I was going to have those two together tonight if it killed me.

~*~

Its really amazing how much time a person can waste doing nothing. I'd never been so tired of doing nothing in all my life. All day long, as Steve had gone from one task or errand to the next, I'd fluttered along behind him like some kind of demented butterfly and wondered just how in the hell I'd gotten myself roped into this shit.

We made a trip to the market, where women fawned over his hometown hero good looks. We went to a book store, where Steve spent the better part of an hour simply looking through books on art. I think it had to be the first time I saw some of the seriousness really stripped away to show the man he might have been, had things in his life been normal. But I guess we don't really get to chose if we have a destiny or not. By the time we left the book store, I knew what I was getting him for his next birthday.

We went into a small, hole in the wall diner where Steve ate some lunch. Alone. In silence. Several people looked at him, but no one other than the waitress approached him to talk. We walked in the park. And, much to my surprise, there were young couples there who had their own Cupid following at them. None of them had annoying little purple wings. But none of them had been spared the indignity of a diaper. Guess I'd lucked out.

I followed Steve around the entire day and came to two conclusions. First, being a Cupid prevented me from feeling things like cold and warmth. I fluttered around Central Park all afternoon long and didn't feel the cold wind that bit at the cheeks of everyone else who was there. I couldn't feel the nip in the air that came with a threat of fresh snow. I could just barely feel the warmth of the sun, but only as a passing thing. It was nice to know that I was impervious to the climate for the time being. No shrinkage.

The other thing I learned was that Steve Rogers had it bad for Tony Stark. And I mean bad. Away from the mansion and its inhabitants, he let his guard down and I could just see the need on him. There'd been a hint of longing in his eyes when we'd passed a news stand and Steve had spied a magazine with Tony on the cover.

Oh, my God. It was worse than a high school crush.

"Steve, dude. I am so going to get you laid." I made the promise as we returned to the mansion. It was after dark and we'd spent the entire day just wandering around New York City. Steve had to be the loneliest guy I'd ever met. And I had no doubt that Tony's reputation didn't help his feelings one bit. "Just give me the right opportunity and I'll have him all over you like white on rice."

The mansion was filled with the smell of freshly baked bread. It was dinner time and Jarvis was putting the meal on the table. Steve rid himself of his coat and headed for the kitchen to grab something to eat. I followed along, mostly because I didn't have much of a choice, noticing that Carol and Jessica were watching some chick flick on the television in the living room. The two of them were side by side on the couch, each with a plate of food in their laps.

Steve ate in the kitchen. By himself. When asked, Jarvis informed him that Tony was busy working on something, Pietro had gone out to catch a movie and Hank and Jan had yet to leave the privacy of their room. I noticed that Steve wasn't sitting by the table. Probably a smart choice, no matter how many times Jarvis had disinfected it.

When he finished his meal, Steve put his plate and fork in the dishwasher, then wandered out of the kitchen. His hands were in his pockets and he looked about as bored as I felt. This should have been over and done with hours ago. I should have been back to myself, no wings or leather briefs with hearts on it, no special "Love" arrows. I should have never said yes to Zeus.

Steve heard Tony's voice and wandered in that direction. My wings were fluttering up a storm so that I could follow him. I was kind of getting used to hovering a few inches off the ground, but I didn't think I'd ever get used to simply oozing through walls and doors and stuff. Being insubstantial sucked. What if I had an itch? What if I had to go piss? What if I saw a really hot woman and popped a boner?

Of course, as tight as the briefs were, I doubted that there was any chance of that happening. Not enough room for blood to flow into my dick.

Holy shit! What if the briefs were so tight that it cut off the blood to the family jewels? Would they fall off? Panicked by the thought, I couldn't help but reach down. I just had to check. Everything seemed fine. Right where I left it. Whew. That was a relief. Somehow, I didn't think Zeus would be able to fix that if something went wrong.

Carol's voice drew me away from the thoughts of my dick. "We've got some cinnamon hearts to snack on, as well as popcorn and some conversation hearts. We wanted to ask Clint to join us, but since he's gone... There's plenty for everyone. You and Steve are welcome to watch with us."

Carol and Jessica? No fucking way. That was the stuff of dreams! And I was stuck wearing these stupid fucking wings and these stupid fucking briefs, shooting these stupid fucking arrows at Tony and Steve. Zeus fucking owed me big.

Wait. They were both here. Now was the time. Now was the perfect time. I reached back for a pair of arrows. One shot and I could still join Carol and Jessica for the movie. And who knew? Maybe I'd get lucky. Talk about a wet dream.

The arrows fit to the string with no problem. I'd done it so many times, I could do it in my sleep. Once again, I turned the bow sideways so that I'd be able to hit both men at the same time. It just took a second to make sure my aim was perfect. And that second turned into my worst nightmare because everything happened at once.

Jarvis brought a tray of drinks into the room and walked right through me. Though he seemingly didn't notice anything, it was a strange sensation for me. That dragging feeling saw me releasing my arrows without really seeing my targets. Tony ending up leaning over the arm of the couch to reach for some of the candy hearts. Something fell of Jarvis' tray, which Steve bent over to pick up. The arrows sailed right past their intended targets and ended up embedding themselves in the women on the couch.

Shit! I missed again! What the fuck was going on here? Why was it so fucking hard to get two people together? Were Tony and Steve cursed or something? Worse, was I cursed? This couldn't be happening.

On the couch, Carol and Jessica turned to share a look with one another. I'd seen that same look in Hank and Jan's eyes earlier that day, so I knew what was coming. Apparently so did the others. Tony smirked. "I guess this means that the movie night is at a conclusion?"

"Yes. I think it is." Carol nodded and stood, one hand held out to Jessica. The brunette put her hand in the blonde's. Carol pulled Jessica to her feet and wrapped one arm around the other woman. "You boys feel free to watch, though. If you'll excuse us, we have some business to attend to."

Without another word, the two of them were on their way to the stairs. Now that was a mistake I could happily live with. Hmmm. Maybe I could head on upstairs and check out some of that girl on girl action. That would be an awesome way to pass the time. If I was lucky, I might be able to take the popcorn with me.

The wings had other ideas, damn it all to hell. Before I could make a move for the popcorn bowl, they started fluttering like mad and I found myself heading toward the stairs again. No. Not that. I didn't want to go upstairs with Steve. I wanted to go upstairs with Carol and Jessica. I could totally get into that! I was totally ready to get into that. And it wasn't like I'd have another chance. Fucking wings.

Once again, I found myself kind of sliding through Steve's door. He was sitting in a chair, reading a book. The manner in which he was sitting suggested that he was trying to pretend he didn't have... Oh! I didn't need to think about that. I really didn't need to know that he was that human. If I was stuck in here all night, watching him jerk off, I was going to put my eyes out before I had to look at him again.

Heaving a sigh, I fluttered over to the corner and willed the wings to put me down. Imagine my surprise when they obeyed. Might as well make myself comfortable. I figured it would be a long damn night.

Long night didn't cover it. Steve sat in that chair and read for hours. I might have nodded off, but I couldn't really tell. I'd come to the conclusion that things didn't work the same way for Cupids as they did for humans. I hadn't gotten hungry, hadn't gotten cold, hadn't gotten sleepy at all during the day. I hadn't needed to go to the bathroom. Though I imagined those things would hit me with a vengeance when all this was said and done.

When it was time for bed, I closed my eyes and avoided watching while he stripped out of his clothes and got into bed. In fact, I waited until I knew he'd switched off the lights before I opened my eyes again. There were only a few strips of light slipping in under the shades and curtains over the windows to illuminate the room. It wasn't so much that I could actually see what was going on. But that didn't do anything for my hearing.

Oh, hell no. That wasn't something I wanted to listen to. I hadn't signed on for this. Why couldn't Zeus have sent along a magical iPod so I could tune that out? Morning couldn't come soon enough. Damn it, I needed a beer.

~*~

It was more of the same the next day. A breakfast during which Tony didn't make an appearance. Another day spent wandering around the city. Again he hit a small diner, a book store and the park. It was odd to see Steve not so focused on training or anything that could be considered Avenger's business. And it was really odd to see him this laid back. But the worst was to see him wander into a drug store and head right for the aisle where one would find the condoms and lubricants.

No. No no no no no no. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was watch Steve Rogers, one of my mentors, shop for rubbers. The end of days had to be near. It was one thing to know that he wanted to get naked and dirty with Tony. It was another to find out he was human enough to buy a box of party favors.

His hand reached out for a box. Oh, God. Not the Trojan Magnum XLs. That meant... No. This was something I really didn't need to know about my teammate. I was never going to be able to look him in the eye again after having seen this. Way too much information. Way, way too much information.

As he headed to the register, he stopped at a display of heart shaped boxes of chocolate and picked one up. Interesting. Who was he buying for? Himself? Because if he didn't say something to Tony and if I didn't hit the two of them with those stupid fucking arrows soon, he'd be eating them himself anyway. Wings fluttering, I followed him and was forced to watch over his shoulder as he paid for the rubbers and the chocolates. The girl behind the counter flirted with him shamelessly in the hopes of attracting his attention. Too bad, honey. I'm sorry but you're definitely barking up the wrong tree there. His heart, and dick, belong to someone else.

He had the condoms tucked into a jacket pocket before he left the store. No need to advertise that particularly frightening fact to the men and women of NYC. He'd have all of the women following him while the men would commit suicide. Well, most of the men. There would no doubt be some following along with the women. Hell, even I was kind of depressed.

When we arrived back at the mansion, it was to find Peter and Johnny on the couch. Both of them had a video game controller in their hands and were playing some shoot 'em up game. A glance at the screen told me that the characters were soldiers of some kind. Apparently, they'd caught Steve's attention, too, because he stood there and stared at the flat screen.

"Dude, I'm totally going to kick your ass!" Johnny said, tipping sideways on the couch as he thumbed at the controller to send his figure in the same direction. Pete made a scoffing sound and tipped into Johnny, nudging the blonde with his shoulder.

"Keep dreaming, flame brain."

"Is that the best you have, webhead? Really?" Johnny laughed. "I can totally kick your ass without even trying."

"You wish," Pete replied. The two of them sank back into their game, so intent on it that they didn't realize that they were being watched. Steve seemed in no rush to go anywhere, though I was sure that those Trojans were burning a hole in his pocket. No doubt he wanted to get them upstairs so that he could stash them in his drawer.

Much to my pleasure, Tony joined us just then. He stopped next to Steve and took a look at the screen. "What are those two doing now?"

"Trying to shoot the crap out of one another," Steve replied.

"You'd think they'd get enough of that, doing what we do," Tony replied.

"You'd think."

Fuck it. This was it. I was so nailing those two. I was so done with this shit. I wanted my life and my ignorance back. I hadn't signed up to find whether Steve used his left or right hand to whack off. I hadn't signed up to find out that he bought the biggest condoms made. I hadn't signed up to find out that Jan and Hank could forget themselves and bang one another on the table. I just wanted it all to end.

I snagged another pair of arrows and got them ready to fire. Steve and Tony were standing away from the couch, so there was no chance I could miss and hit Pete and Johnny. I was going to get my men this time.

Choosing not to think too hard on what I'd just told myself, I aimed the arrows and made ready to fire.

There was a thud from above, then Jessica's voice rang out loudly. "Damn it, Carol! Not so hard. I'm going to have bruises where the sun doesn't shine."

"Quit complaining, Jess. You love it and you know it." That was followed by a long, drawn out sigh and a round of girlish giggling.

The brain located below my waistband immediately slipped into the gutter, drawing a rush of blood into my briefs. The resulting twitch against the confining leather distracted me. The next thing I knew, the arrows were flying and they weren't heading toward Tony and Steve. Fuck! Another miss!How was this fucking possible? That was three times in a row! It wasn't fucking possible.

The sounds of the video game died as the two men stopped playing. As with the other two couples, they turned to stare at one another. The controllers dropped absently from their hands even while they were reaching for one another. Pete grabbed Johnny by the collar and dragged him in for a kiss. Oh. My. God.

He pushed the blonde down against the cushions. Even though the two of them were hidden from view, we could still hear them. A shirt flew up over the back of the couch. Whoa, DUDE! I had no idea about this one. Really no idea. Johnny Storm was as much a womanizer as Tony was. This was totally unexpected.

Pete's voice rose up from the couch. "Roses are red, violets are blue. You're about to have some Pete deep inside of you."

Ugh. Gross. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

The wings tugged at my back, pulling me after Steve. Oh, thank God. I really didn't want to be part of this. We were on our way upstairs again. Please tell me I wouldn't be subjected to anymore jerking off. I wasn't sure I could handle it. Zeus could take his fucking job. He could give it back to Eros. And then he could shove it all up his godly ass.

Again with the bedroom. This didn't look good. Steve stowed the condoms and tossed the box of chocolates into his chair. He was already shedding unnecessary clothes as he made his way to the bed. Steve settled on his bed, hand reaching for his fly. Oh, please. No. Not this again. I couldn't take any more of this. Last night, he had to have spent an hour with his hand fisted around his cock. I didn't want to see him do it in the light of day. I was going to have to put my eyes out.

"Steve?" Tony's voice was accompanied by a knock. "Do you have a minute?"

"Yeah. Hang on." Steve got up and made sure his jeans were buttoned and zipped. Not that it would matter. I didn't think anything would hide the bulge he was sporting. He made sure that nothing incriminating showed in his room before pulling the door open. Tony was standing there, waiting patiently. If he took note of Steve's strange posture or that he was sporting wood, he didn't let it show. "What can I do for you?"

The two of them were silent. Obviously, Tony hadn't thought it out past Steve opening the door. Were they going to stand there and stare at one another? Wasn't Tony going to make a move? What about Steve? Was he going to pretend that he wasn't dreaming about Tony and jerking off to those dreams? Was I going to be cursed to wear the fucking wings forever?

Without thinking, my hand reached for a pair of arrows. Then it fit them to the bow string and held them snugly. I turned the bow sideways and let the arrows fly. I didn't even bother to take aim. I just let them fly. The arrows flew straight and true and I watched as they struck their intended targets. Unlike non-magical arrows, they simply sank into both men's chests and disappeared. Golden light surrounded them both.

"I want you." That's all Tony said. Steve reached out and grabbed him by the shirt collar, then tugged him into the room. The door slammed shut so that Steve could pin Tony to the back of it. Their mouths ground together, along with other body parts. Their hands were seeking out places to touch and tease and settle. I had to admit it was kind of hot but I'd never say it out loud. A second later, they were on their way toward the bed.

"Its about damn time." Steve panted the words out when they broke apart. "I bought you chocolates, just like I've done every year for a while now."

"We'll eat them later. Right now, I plan on laying you out on that bed and having my way with you."

Oh, gag me.

Just as Steve was tugging Tony's shirt off, I felt an odd sensation centered where the wings were anchored to my back. The shirt was flying toward me, then it was gone and I found myself standing in my bedroom. Zeus was there, waiting for me. I glared at him. He only smiled and held out a hand. "Give me the parchment."

"Its on the bed where I left it. Get it yourself. Christ. And get rid of these fucking wings. I hate them."

"If you want me to rid you of the wings, you'll hand me the parchment yourself." Bastard sounded smug. Fuck. Trying hard not to stomp my feet, I crossed to the bed and picked up the parchment. The moment my hands touched it, more ink appeared on its surface. I watched, shocked, as six more names came into being. Johnny and Pete. Carol and Jessica. Hank and Jan. All of them showed above Tony and Steve's names. I turned a confused look toward Zeus. "You didn't miss, Clint. But no one Cupid knows all of their targets until they complete their assignments. And the names won't show up until then."

"Great. I'm glad to know that. Now get rid of these fucking wings."

"Gladly. You complain more than Eros does." A tingle ran up my back, then there was a gentle tug. A glance over my shoulder showed me that the wings were gone. So was the quiver. The briefs were still there, choking the life out of my crotch. "You can keep those. We have no use for them anymore."

"Thanks. Get the fuck out."

Zeus was gone with a clap of thunder. I returned my bow to its place in the corner. Finally. I had myself to myself. The first thing I was going to do was take a shower. Then I was going to crawl in bed and sleep this nightmare away. I headed into the bathroom and set the spray of water in the shower. While I was waiting, I wandered over to stand in front of the mirror. It looked good not having purple wings flapping against my back. The briefs though...

Okay. So they were tight enough that I was considering keeping them. If only to wear for the ladies. No doubt they'd find them cute or sexy. And, really. They left nothing to the imagination. But just as long as I wasn't wearing them for longer than five minutes. They were so tight, my nuts felt like they were suffocating. And if I even thought about getting a stiffy, I'd break my dick. Tugging them off, I kicked them into the corner and figured I'd decide what to about them later. The shower was waiting.

It felt like it had been an age since I'd showered. I spent extra time standing under the spray. I knew I should head down to the kitchen and get something to eat, but I wasn't in the mood for questions. No one was going to believe that I'd been Cupid for two days. And I needed to come up with a plausible lie to tell everyone. Sleep seemed the best way to go.

After my shower, I took another minute to make sure that I didn't have any fluttery purple things attached to my back. Smooth, clear skin. Yes! After toweling off, I slung the damp towel over the bar and headed out into my room. A buxom blonde clad in a lavender lace teddy lay on my bed, her head resting in the palm of her hand with her elbow planted in the pillows. One long leg was crossed over the other. Holy shit! She was freaking hot.

She let aquamarine eyes rake up and down the length of my body before they returned to my face. There was a predatory look in her gaze and a knowing smile on her face. "Hi, Clint. I'm our date for tonight."

Date? Yeah. I could do her on a date. Or the couch, the floor, my bed, the shower, a table, the chair... I could do her anywhere. Trying to look like I hadn't been staring, I tossed a smile at her. "Well hello there. Nice to meet you." I paused. That much was true, but it would be nicer still to know what name to call her by before I climbed between those perfectly formed thighs. "Um... Who are you?"

The sight of her boobs staring me in the face sent blood rushing to my crotch. A twitch let me know that I was at full attention now. Her eyes flicked toward my dick, then came back to my face. "I'm Aphrodite. Zeus figured he owed you one."

"Did he now?"

"Yes, he did. But it looks like I'm the lucky one here." She snapped her fingers. The lights dimmed and candles suddenly appeared. flickering with golden flames. They were stationed all around the room. Rose petals covered the bed and the floor, including Aphrodite's body. They'd taken the place of the teddy and left little to the imagination. A bottle of champagne was chilled in a bucket beside the bed. A pair of flutes rested on the bedside table. She held out a hand to me. "Come here, big boy."

I went. She pulled me down onto the bed, on top of her. "Happy Valentine's Day to you, gorgeous." Her hands dragged my head down to hers and our mouths touched.

Oh, yeah. It was sure looking like it.

 
Chapter 1 of 1
 
The Story TraeSE 0.19.0 created by Echtrae Cuinn ©2007-2021
 

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