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"This time, you have gone too far, Hades!"

Z's obstinate bellow echoed across the gorge, and Hades ducked his head to avoid the lightning strike by inches, getting a taste of the electricity it carried. Z seemed determined to behave like a royal pain-in-the-ass, and Hades felt compelled to point this out to him. He swung his team around, plotting a course alongside Z's chariot so he could have a few words with the pig-headed lout.

"No, brother, this time it is you who has gone too far. The harder you grip that staff of power you wield, the more tyrannical you become."

"If you would stop thinking with your dick for once, you would understand why I'm doing it!"

Hades bit back a curse. If anyone thought with his dick, it was Z. "Are you telling me I don't know how it feels to lose control of a child when they follow their own path? How many of my offspring currently reside in Olympus with you? Tell me that, then rethink your reasons for chasing after Lexi."

His rebuttal had Z's anger weakening, and Hades watched the menacing gleam fade from his brother's glare as they maneuvered their chariots in a wide circle, speaking across the gorge. "I don't want Lexi living out eternity in the underworld. She has been part of my life for eighteen years, and I care for her deeply. Tell me why you are chasing after her when you have only known her three days, then prove to me you are not thinking with your dick."

Hades refused to believe this was anything but love. Lexi's spirit thrilled him and her wit challenged him, both were matched only by her eyes, which bewitched him. He glanced at the crag in the rock where, moments before, Lexi had vanished, and he recalled his relief, knowing she had entered his domain and he could claim her. Surely, Z would not believe Hades' depth of feeling for Lexi, but he didn't need to prove anything to Z, as long as he, himself, believed it to be true.

"Lexi's decision to escape to the underworld was her own," Hades said. "But she did it because you gave her no choice. By her own admission, she has been controlled by others all her life, and she refuses to continue the practice. I believe she saw this as her only way of escaping the strong will of her father. She's a bit like him in that regard."

Wishing for the conversation to be over, Hades made a final pass by Z on his way toward the crevice in the rock. He didn't want Lexi to be alone when she met Thanatos at the gates. "I told Lexi she can leave if she chooses. She is a goddess, with the same rights as the rest of us. It will be up to her to decide if she wants to make the underworld her home."

Z softened his chin, and a calm washed over his face as it morphed like a stone shifting under the ripple of a stream. It was the face of the brother Hades remembered from far too many years ago. "Do I have your word you will not deceive her with trickery?"

"Yes, you have my word, and I am sure Hecate will keep a close eye on her. In the meantime, why don't you find some creative outlets for that temper. Perhaps, it is time the palace hosted another orgy."

Hades offered a wily grin he knew would annoy Z as he snapped the reins and directed his team home. Over his shoulder, he watched Z's silver chariot sail away, charging toward the sea. Despite their differences, nothing would break their bond of brotherhood. Still, Hades knew Z hated losing battles, and there was no doubt the mighty ruler of Olympus would find a way to get even.

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