After an emotionally charged moment, I step back from my father, releasing him. Noticing his slightly stunned face at the move.
Returning to form, I circle the desk, lounging in one of the chairs in front of it. The receptionist is lingering in the doorway, having chased after me. The mortal looks rather surprised at the affectionate moment shared between father and son. Despite his multitude of offspring, instances of my father displaying paternal affection are nonexistent.
My father recovers enough to close the door in the nosy mortal’s face, leaving us alone in his office. Circling back to his desk, he sits, still staring at me with wide eyes, likely astounded at my presence. You suddenly reappear after two thousand years after cutting off all contact with your family, it takes a person a moment to adjust.
My father is pale as he assesses me, his eyes trailing me up and down. I try not to shift uncomfortably from the focus. “When did you get back?”
“Today,” I respond, already wishing that I could leave the room before he notices I’m missing some of my most signature features. Hopefully, he’ll just believe that I found a way to conceal them, even from gods. I’m praying that assumption will last as long as possible; the loss of my wings is a wound that I want left alone. Mostly because I know that it’s still seeping underneath the careful shield of icy denial I’ve erected over it.
He clears his throat slightly, likely still overcome with emotion. To be honest, so am I, but I’m much better at hiding it than he is, I’ve had two thousand years of practice. “Have you seen your mother?”
I tilt my head at my father’s question, surprised when his voice doesn’t waiver once, and my stomach rolls again with a horrifying realization. He’s truly moved on, fallen for the mortal. Then she was taken from him.
I’m going to be sick.
“Not yet, she’s my next stop on my little reunion tour,” I murmur, already dreading that interaction.
I should explain. Have you ever dated someone your parents didn’t like? Really didn’t like, maybe closer to actively despise? Have you ever been ordered to force them to fall in love with the worst of men, yet end up falling in love with them yourself? No? Guess that’s just me then.
“She’ll be ecstatic to see you,” my father states, linking his hands together as he surveys me with his too shrewd eyes.
When I remain silent, his eyes narrow on me, and I’m tempted to squirm in my seat under his gaze. He’s always had the ability to unnerve me – there’s only two such beings to ever do so, the other being my grandmother.
“You appear different,” I mumble, assessing the lines on my father’s face, hoping to distract him from his perusal of me. His heartbreak still radiates from him, but my return appears to have dulled the edges slightly. It’s the best I could hope for in helping him heal.
“As do you,” he responds, his voice filling the room, as it always did. I suppose speaking with gravitas is a side effect of being the god of war.
I snicker at his observation, he has no idea how accurate that statement is.
“I’m here to stay. I’ll be moving into the OA today.” Solely because of Zeus’s highhandedness, but my father doesn’t need to know that.
My father’s eyebrows shoot up at the statement. “Why do I feel your grandfather is somehow involved in that decision?”
An actual laugh comes from me; I should have known he would see through me. “I’m not going to answer that.”
Coming to a stand, I rest my hand on the back of the chair, a true smile twitching my lips, a similar, smaller version breaks on my father’s face. I’m counting that as a success.
“I’m happy you’re back, son.” His smile widens a little more, and again I resist the need to rub the ache in my chest.
“I better be off. I have a new business to set up apparently.” And a mother to see. One of which I’m dreading. I’ll give you one guess which one it is.
“Don’t forget about your mother,” he adds.
“I won’t,” I promise, beginning to leave my father’s office.
“Oh, and Eros?” he calls out, stopping me as I swing the door to the hallway open.
“Yes?” I ask, turning back towards him slightly.
“We’ll be talking about your wings, or lack thereof.”
I’m out the door before he can see me flinch.