"I think I'm due for a break," Autolycus sighed. "Not that I don't mind standing here with you in my arms."
"Of course," Kiari smiled at him. She caught sight of Joxer making his way to them.
"Hey doll, can I have a dance? If you don't mind," Joxer said to Autolycus.
The king of thieves exchanged a glance with the priestess, then sighed again. "I don't mind, Joxer. Just be careful with her." He stepped away and gave her hand to the mighty warrior wannabe. "Meet me at the bar when the song's over."
Kiari nodded and turned to her friend. "Well, I see you're enjoying the food table," she said, noting the bit of hot dog in his teeth.
"You priestess gals know how to throw a party," Joxer said. "But I've been meaning to ask, what are you supposed to be?"
"Autolycus and I are folks from the wild west," Kiari answered.
"The wild west?" Joxer looked a bit confused. He shrugged. "There seems to be a bit of tension here though."
"Well, that can happen sometimes. So many people have histories with each other. But Cupid can handle it, I think..." Her voice drifted off as she caught sight of two new arrivals.
Hades looked clearly uncomfortable, but Persephone had a beaming smile on her face. Cupid greeted them himself and led the goddess to the food table. Hades caught sight of Kiari dancing with Joxer.
"Of all the luck," Kiari muttered.
"Huh?" Joxer looked over his shoulder and saw the god of the underworld. He couldn't suppress his shudder. "Yikes, what's he doing here?"
The song ended just then and Kiari knew her duty.
"I suppose I should go say hello," she said.
"Want me to come with you?" Joxer asked, seeing her reluctance.
Kiari forced a smile. "Nah, I'll be okay. See you later?"
"Thanks for the dance!" Joxer drifted away, looking for another dance partner. He caught sight of Gabrielle and wondered if he could get her to dance with him.
Hades watched her approach, his face unreadable. But she could feel his joy and apprehension fighting within. Joy at seeing her, apprehension at Persephone seeing her.
"Welcome to the party," Kiari greeted.
He bowed a little. "Thank you."
They stood staring at each other for a moment, then Autolycus appeared beside her. He slipped his arm around Kiari's waist.
"Well, if it isn't the god of the underworld."
Hades gave him a curt nod, not liking the way Kiari leaned into the king of thieves. "Autolycus."
"I saw your wife at the bar. You might want to join her," he gestured toward the bar.
"I see you're taking care of my sometime assistant."
"Yes, I am, so you don't need to worry."
"Take heed, mortal." His meaning was clear. ~Hurt her and you will have me to deal with.~
Autolycus nodded at him. "Understood. Your wife waits."
Hades and Kiari exchanged one long look.
-My turn,- she said to him.
-Be careful,- he said, glancing at Autolycus. -He's only a mortal.-
-I know the risks. Enjoy the party.-
Hades watched as Kiari and Autolycus turned and walked to the door.
"I think I need some air," she said aloud.
"Come on, it's a beautiful night out there. Let's take a look," Autolycus whispered, taking her hand.
They walked out into the night, the sounds of the party fading...
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