premise: post Hades, all Golds are alive because I say so. There's nothing medically wrong with Seiya, but he won't wake up after being wounded by the sword of Hades, so Saori sends her Saints to search for help from other gods, especially ones she hasn't fought before - like Aphrodite. Phro and DM encounter a temple dedicated to her and her loyal servants waiting for her return… until they all realise that Aphrodite actually got reincarnated into… Aphrodite, the Gold Saint.

Maybe in the distant future I will write this fic with some actual plot, but after this has languished in my drafts for over two years, it's time to share it as it is. I am very fond of their dynamic here.

"I never lied to you," Aphrodite says, and if he were another person, this would be close to begging.

And if he were another person, Deathmask would hear it as a haughty, and a blatant lie. But this is Aphrodite, his Aphrodite, offering - an explanation? An excuse? Offering him something other than silence.

Angelo snorts. "That's a good one. I was supposed to straight up ask if you were actually the goddess? Don't make me laugh."

"But you did ask," Aphrodite surprised him, "When we were kids. And I didn't lie."

"Did you know already?"

"I told you I named myself before coming to the Sanctuary."

"So you knew."

"I felt… something. I didn't have my memories, back then."

"Does Athena know?"

"Does that girl ever know shit? Goddess of wisdom my ass, I swear."

As a rule, Aphrodite doesn't swear. This is new too. The stress of newly acquired godhood must be getting to him.

Her? Angelo thinks it prudent to ask.

Aphrodite shrugs. "Either… Though I guess I quite like he, I'm used to it, it's comfortable."

"You did get quite pissed when I called you a girl, way back when."

"Well, I was never a girl, technically, now, was I?"

"I'm more than happy to call you a goddess, then," Angelo smirks. Needling Aphrodite and flirting are familiar things, and he really needs familiar now.

A piercing blue gaze nails him to the spot.

"Would you worship me?"

And Deathmask, who's ever barely had faith in the very goddess he's sworn to and serves since he was a child, and who has never been comfortable on his knees-

Falls to his knees.

There's a shift, a crack in the bones of reality.

"Ops," Aphrodite coos, not looking at all sorry. "This must have—" he flexes his fingers and a light surrounds him, the soft glow of a whole new power, "Fully reawakened my divine cosmo."

He turns to the soldiers still watching them and shoos them away. "Scatter. I've had enough of holy wars. Besides, I like Athena. She's just enough of a bitch to be worth liking."

"But Great Aphrodite…"

"Do you truly intend to disobey my will?"

After the devotees scatter, Aphrodite turns to Deathmask. "Thanks."

"It was all you saving our asses. Well, mine, I guess."

"We both know I can die. And I'd really rather not have a repeat of that. It fucking hurts," there it is again - it's not the swearing, per se, but the broken-open feeling, a carelessness that was never there before.

"What are we telling everyone?"

Aphrodite looks up from where he's stoking the fire. Shadows dance on his face, making him look tired and very human. There's a twig caught in his hair.

"I haven't decided yet. I don't…" he makes an aborted gesture of frustration. "What do you think?"

"Well, I'd pay to see everyone's faces when you tell them, but it's up to you."

"I could tell Saori. Just her, so she'll stop the search. She can say I - I mean she died."

"Who the fuck would want to kill the goddess of love?"

"You'd be surprised."

Angelo snorts and stands up, going to sit beside him. He's noticed Angelo hadn't touched him at all since the revelation, but he gets close now, close enough the shoulders of their armours clang together.

"I mean, sometimes I do want to throttle you, but it's always short-lived."

"Thanks," Phro snorts, "This really makes me feel loved."

"You hog the covers. And use all my hot water."

"I do not!"

"One time you left a rose in the bed. It pricked my ass!"

Aphrodite is laughing now, head thrown back, worry receding from his features. He is beautiful - it's certainly not a new thought, but it is as if it's hitting Angelo anew, like meeting him for the first time all over again. He supposes he was lucky they met as children, because if it had happened later he would have made such a fool of himself. As it is, they just punched each other until they became friends, and by the time Angelo was old enough to be impressed by beauty, it was already a done deal.

He's gone close to losing him before, but they've always died together. Or he'd gone first. He never had to contemplate life without Aphrodite. It's perhaps surprising how much they've always trusted each other, given what they did - used to do, what they were. But, well. Everyone needs a fixed point, a safe haven.

This time, though, this time things could have been different. Still could be, if Aphrodite changes his mind. After all, why simply throw away godhood?

As if reading his thoughts, Aphrodite says: "Athena hasn't had a very happy life, don't you think?"

When you put it like that… "No?"

Aphrodite gives him a sideways glance and a crooked smile. "No," he confirms, "It's not just the responsibility of a Sanctuary. It's… their, well, I guess, our family is really fucked up, always has been. I have no personal beef with Athena and she doesn't with me. The same can't be said about…" he winces, "Everybody else."

"And the other- the other gods won't realise? They won't feel it?"

"They might, but who'd look for me among Athena's saints?"

"Fair."

"Besides, I've taken my precautions," a purple rose blooms between his fingers, a new colour, "They won't remember a thing."

Angelo whistles, impressed.

After a beat of silence, he says. "We could get back in straight from the Cancer Temple, takin the door to Hades as a shortcut. But we could also… not do that. Take the long way home. Do some sightseeing, maybe. After all, no one will be expecting us too soon."

"The long way home. I'd like that."