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It ain't much, but here. Babysitter of Themyscira, chapter 10.

When she was gone, I sat down next to Ian, who looked up into my eyes, his face solemn.

"See what I mean?" I said, and he nodded.

"I do," he said. "If I knew that's what God looked like, I'd have prayed more often."

"Goddess," I corrected. "And she told me-- early on-- that all love-- and, well good sex-- is an act of worship. To her."

He raised his eyebrows, and I added, "She said-- remember she said that you were innocent of sin against her. Even if-- I mean, Rob maybe wasn't your best choice, but that doesn't mean you didn't love-- well. She really likes you, Ian. I think she wants me to keep you." I blushed. "Um, if you want to be-- kept."

He didn't say anything for a bit, and then he squeezed my hand.

"Cassie," he said, "look-- we haven't known each other for that long, either-- but we're already--"

"Entangled," I said, and he nodded.

"But I'm-- trouble, Cass," he said quietly. "For everybody who-- gets entangled-- with me. I've proved that plenty of times. And I've figured-- plenty of times-- where it would be better if I just checked out. Don't argue," he added firmly, when I opened my mouth to protest. "You don't know. And I don't really want to talk about it. I'm just saying-- I mean, you were so mad when I got here. And you know, I agreed with you. I couldn't believe Diana was-- inflicting me-- on anybody. I thought, I just thought, you were right to be so mad. I just thought I'd keep my head down and try not to piss you off, or get in your way, and-- well, do whatever you wanted-- until your goddess came, and then I sort of figured she'd kill me, or, whatever, send me home. Same difference."

"It's not," I said, softly, not wanting to argue, but not wanting to let that pass either. "You could live. Back home."

He shook his head. "Not-- not well. It's not just Rob. I don't know how to live, there. I don't know what to do. There, I'm a junkie and a whore, and if I go back there, I'll go back to being those things eventually, because that's all I know how to be. Here, I might be able to figure out something new. Especially if you help me." He smiled faintly at me. "And I can't fuck up too badly, not with an obedience spell on me."

"Yeah," I said. "If anyone's going to fuck up your life, it's going to be me."

"Right," he said, almost cheerfully. "Well, you've got a better track record than me, when it comes to not fucking up my life. But, you know-- I could still fuck yours up."

I didn't really know what to say to that, but after a minute he said, "But-- Cassie-- look. Don't get mad, okay?"

"I'll try," I answered seriously.

"It's just," he began. "You don't-- seem all that happy to me. Here."

I was quiet for a bit before I said, "I'm happy enough. I'm not-- maybe happy isn't the word. Content."

"Are you even that, though?" he asked. "Or are you just-- kind of-- not in pain? I mean, you don't really have any close friends here, except Diana, and she's always gone anyway, and you live alone and you work pretty much alone, except for that kid who thinks I'm a mutant. And your job is sort of-- I mean it's great, it's nice, but for a girl like you, it seems more like a hobby than a real job. It's like you retired-- not just from being a superhero--"

"I was never really a superhero," I interrupted automatically. "I was just a sidekick."

"Okay, then not just from that-- but from life, you know? Not that you couldn't be happy here, make a real life, but-- are you? Have you?"

We sat in silence for a little bit. I don't know what he was thinking about; I was the one who broke the silence. I said, "When Connor died--"

Then I broke off. I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say.

"You loved him," Ian said gently, and I nodded.

"It sounds so stupid," I said miserably. "I was only sixteen-- and we didn't even have that much time together-- but when he died--"

"It doesn't sound stupid," Ian said. "The goddess-- what did she say to you about Connor? I mean, when you first got here? Did she mention him?"

"She said--" I shook my head. "You'll laugh. You'll think it's stupid."

Ian looked shocked. "Cassie, I won't. How could you think that?"

"It's going to sound weird in English," I said weakly. "Okay. She said-- she said we loved each other-- rarely well. She said-- our love-- was sweet to her lips-- and warm in her, um, her-- belly."

"Oh," said Ian softly, "wow."

I nodded, suddenly on the verge of tears. "It was-- it was so good-- with him. And-- I thought we had just started, you know? I thought-- there was going to be-- so much more. I thought our life was starting. And then his was just-- over. And I didn't know where to go. What to do. When Diana took me-- I just thought-- why not? Whatever, you know?"

"I know," said Ian.

I looked up at him, his serious face, as he went on, "Cassie, if you were happy-- if you'd been happy when I got here, if you had this great life, with, you know, friends and-- I'm not sure I could stay. I'd rather take my chances back on the mainland than stay here and risk ruining your life-- if you were happy. But you're not, are you?"

It took a little while before I shook my head.

"I know it sounds like a fucked-up reason to-- do anything," he said. "But it's true. I want to stay because I know what happens if I go back home, and I don't know what happens if I stay here. And I feel like I know what happens to you if I go home-- and if I stay here-- well."

I raised my eyebrows. "You going to fix my life?"

"No," he said. "I can't do that. But I can spice it up a little. And I can't hurt you too bad, not-- bound-- like this. So." He looked at me: not challenging, not pleading, just asking. "Can I stay?"

"Yeah," I said. "If you're really sure it's what you want."

"Thanks," he said, and then he lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it. "Cassie, thank you."

I pulled our hands back towards me, and kissed his hand too.

"I'll try," I began. "I'll do my best. For you."

"I'll try too," he said. "I mean-- for you."

When the goddess came back in, she found me sitting on the floor, him with his head in my lap, me petting his hair. He sat up when she came in. Aphrodite came up to us, knelt down beside us and put her hands on us, one on each back.

"My dear children," she said softly, and then she said it again in English. "My dear children."

"He wants to stay," I said, and she nodded and answered in English again, though she seemed to be speaking only to me.

"Wilt thou have him?" she asked.

"Yes," I said.

"It is well," she said softly. "Be to thy subject a good and gracious liege, little sister. And thou, mine Ian, serve thou thy lady with eagerness, and she shall be well pleased in thee, and raise thee up from thy knees, to gather kisses as well as kindness from her lips."

I blushed. Ian did too. That reminded me.

"Goddess," I said, "um, about sex."

She smiled at me. "Yes?"

"We, um." I hesitated. "We don't have-- protection. Um, I mean, you know. Condoms."

"Ah," she said, and reached for Ian, who held still as she put one hand on his shoulder and then leaned down slightly to put the other on his groin; he whimpered but didn't pull away. After a moment she let him go and looked at me gravely.

"The boy is diseased," she said. "Shall I cure him?"

I was startled. "Can you?"

"I can," she said. "These diseases are my province, not that of Hades. I would have no power to steal him from my uncle's cold hands, but what he carries, I can cure."

"Ian, she says you have STDs, but she can cure them if you want," I said, and the goddess glanced speculatively from him to me as he blinked and nodded.

"Yes," I said to her. "Please."

She got a look of concentration on her face and put her hand back on his cock; he whimpered again, and then stared at her hand, and then moaned softly, gasping as if he were coming. Aphrodite smiled absently, without looking at his face, and then took her hand off him.

"It is done," she said, and switched to English to add, to Ian, "Child, thou art cleansed. Have no fear of polluting thy liege lady with thy service. As for other protection," she said, turning back to me, "though the courses of the moon are no province of mine, but of my sister Artemis, yet I can grant this gift to my Cassandra, that she shall bear no child against her will, but the reluctant egg shall be defended against its pursuer, however welcoming the womb."

"Oh," I said, a little nonplussed by the technical talk. "Um-- thank you."

She smiled. "You are welcome."

"She says I won't get pregnant if I don't want to," I told Ian. "So, uh, I guess we aren't going to need a condom after all."

"Clean and flat-bellied as a vestal thou shalt be," Aphrodite agreed in English, "though warmed by brighter flame."

Ian put up a hand to his mouth and coughed slightly. The goddess smiled at him.

"Thy consort seeketh to hide his mirth," she said to me, still in English. "Hast not told him, sister, that in heaven and earth alike I am named the lover of laughter?"

"I did tell him that," I said, grinning at Ian, who took his hand away from his mouth and smiled back at the goddess.

"As rain to the new green shoots of spring," she told him, "as the milky breast to the newborn babe, so laughter to love, little one. And more besides. For that a rope knotted about the neck of one, its end lashed to the wrist of another, should grow a vine a-bud with leaf and blossom, and ornament to both, is transmutation strange as alchemy, and wrought by rare admixture, but the greatest part is laughter."

"Goddess," I said, "um, no offense, but I might understand your Greek better than your English."

"No, I got it," said Ian. "She said the obedience spell sucked, but we made something cool out of it because I mocked your Batman pajamas."

The goddess really laughed at that, a full-throated symphony of bells in every pitch from Notre Dame to sleigh.

"I am well pleased in your consort, sister,," she said finally, still chuckling. "Have no fear concerning Hippolyta-- I have spoken with her, and she will be more kindly disposed towards you and him in the future. And now--" She rose, like a ballerina, or a flower blooming in time-lapse, with a glorious unfurling of limbs.

"You're leaving?" Ian and I asked simultaneously, and in the same plaintive tone.

"I am always with you, my children," she said, and then she wasn't there any more.

I translated that last bit to Ian, who looked about as bereft as I felt, and added, "She really likes you. A lot. She might like you better than me."

He smiled a little. "But I'm a boy."

"Well, but she likes boys," I said. "I mean, Themyscira's not her only project. So-- I guess we should--"

We both looked up as Hippolyta came in; I stood up, but Ian stayed sitting, and put his hand on my ankle.

"I owe you my apology, Cassandra," Hippolyta told me, not looking at Ian. "The goddess tells me I have been less than fair to you, and to the boy. Will you forgive me?"

"Of course," I said, and then remembered to speak Greek. "Yes."

"I will do my best to make reparation, as needed," she said, rather crisply. "Can I do anything for you at the moment?"

"I should take him home," I said, and held out my hand to Ian to help him up. He stood, and moved a little closer to me, looking at the floor.

"Very well," she said, and stood aside as I led Ian out of the temple and into the sunshine outside.
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