I pounded on the door, over and over again. My knocking was relentless, and I was not going to leave until I got an answer. And once I got that answer, there was going to be bloodshed.
I didn’t bother to tell the Revolt gang where I was going or why. I was too angry to come up with a good lie. I just told them I needed to take care of an urgent matter before things got out of hand with the Animal Rights protest. I found the nearest bathroom, locked myself in one of the stalls, and teleported out. I didn’t much care about how many people were in the restroom or how many of them saw me go in but would never see me come out.
I arrived at Mount Olympus and stomped right into the God Complex, past the front desk and lounge, straight to the elevator. I knew my destination. Eros had taken me to his and Clio’s room after our Atë-argument-spar. I wasn’t going to leave until I saw that bastard. I was going to put an end to this whole situation once and for all.
It honestly didn’t take that long for my constant pounding to be answered. Eros swung the door open, greeting me with a finger to his lips. “Clio and the babies are asleep,” he warned. He broke into a cheeky grin as he looked me up and down. “Nice outfit.” Normally, I would’ve been embarrassed for anyone other than the Revolt House to see me in my tiger kigurumi, but I was too angry to care.
I pounced, tackling Eros into his apartment. My hands immediately took their place on my brother’s throat, but he still managed to laugh through the pressure on his neck. “I can’t take you seriously in this outfit,” he croaked out.
“I. Am going. To murder you.” Eros responded to my threat by jamming his elbows into my arms. The sharp force broke my grip on his neck, but my brother wasn’t done. He doubled down by slamming his head into mine.
The blow stunned me, giving Eros the opportunity to roll me off of him and get back to his feet. “I thought you wanted some media attention. Well, you got it.”
I didn’t care if I woke up Clio, the babies, or the entire God Complex at that point. I couldn’t keep my frustrations quiet. “Not that kind of attention! Now we’re going to be known as a house of perverts, thanks to you!”
Eros scoffed, “Most furries are non-sexual, thank you very much. And I’m guessing you didn’t talk to my spin artist while you were there.”
I ignored his last statement with gritted teeth. “They have a reputation for a reason.”
With one of his classic, nonchalant eye rolls, Eros grabbed the remote from the coffee table and clicked on the TV. The screen immediately depicted a picture of the outside of Harvard’s natural history museum. The group of furry protesters had grown in the five minutes that I had been gone, almost completely obstructing the building from view. A woman in a sharp pantsuit was speaking into a microphone while the camera zoomed in on her face. “We are more than happy at the turnout of so many animal lovers to this protest. I have just received word that Congress intends to introduce a bill titled The Furry Friends Act that will support the protection of animals. Though the protest was not initially supposed to feature the Furry creatures, the sheer size of this protest has definitely caught the attention of lawmakers.”
I covered my face with my hands, and not because of the throbbing pain my brother’s forehead had left behind. It was because of the sheer dread and embarrassment that was taking me over. “Oh, my us. It’s already started,” I groaned.
The TV’s audio clicked off, allowing Eros to ask, “You got results. Why are you upset?”
“Because now I, and everything I’ve worked for, is a joke! Just like last time!”
Eros actually flinched as his eyes started to glow. “That was different. I was different.”
“I don’t see much of a difference.”
“I have Clio,” Eros pleaded as his eyes glowed brighter. “She’s my compass. My soul.” Why was that always his argument and excuse?
“Then why are you determined to ruin everything I’ve worked for?” For once, my brother didn’t have an immediate retort, giving me leave to provide all of my unspoken frustrations a voice. “I worked my ass off to get respect in Dad’s army, and I have worked my ass off to make people respect me, my friends, and the house in general. All of that respect that I worked for disappears in one day with one action, as I learned the hard way back then. Do you think I was ever treated with an ounce of respect after that?”
Eros went pale, and all he could say was, “I’m sorry.” An apology wasn’t a common occurrence when it came to my brother. But I couldn’t even enjoy it. What was there to enjoy?
I went back to rubbing my face in embarrassed frustration. “My friends are going to hate me. They’re going to think I’m a joke. They’re going to want to leave and have nothing to do with me.”
“I doubt it,” Eros mused. “You got results, Tia. Who cares how you got them?”
“I care!” How did he not get this? “It’s easy for you, Phobos, and Deimos. You three were always Mom or Dad’s favorites. You all barely had to lift a finger, and you were praised. None of you could do anything wrong. I’m not saying I have it as bad as Dinlas, but—”
“You were my favorite.”
I stopped in my tracks, the tension in my body almost instantly relaxing. “What do you mean, I was your favorite?”
Eros wasn’t someone who got serious very often. Sentimentality wasn’t his forte unless he was using it to trick people. But the way his eyes shined as he looked at me…maybe it was foolish, but I couldn’t help but feel like maybe he was actually taking me seriously in that moment. “I never had Dinlas, not growing up. I was a God of Love in a family of war. I remember when Miteras put you in my arms. This is your baby sister, Eros. You will protect her.”
Eros paused and swallowed hard, the memory obviously a powerful one for him.
“You were always my favorite. I never enjoyed war and bloodshed like Phobos and Deimos. You. You were special. You were my only sister, my little Tia. I wanted to protect you from everything. So did Din, Deimos, and Phobos. I think that’s part of why you became Revolt; because we were so overprotective.” Eros let out a hoarse laugh. “You hated us hovering over you.”
I wiped my hands over my eyes, brushing the tears away before Eros could see them and take too much pleasure in them. “Then what’s with all the pranks?”
Eros stepped closer to tower over me. With a gentle hand, he brushed the hood of my kigurumi back off my head. “Because that’s how I show love. Ask Din. I steal his shit constantly.”
I scowled as I wiped my nose on my fleece sleeve. “I guess this will at least get us noticed a bit more,” I mumbled.
“I’m sure it will. You do have a brother who works in the media, you know.” I peeked up to see that Eros’s classic smirk was plastered back on his face.
“So,” I said, slumping onto the couch in front of the TV. “What about this mix artist I was supposed to meet?” Was that what he called it?
“Spin artist,” Eros corrected with a laugh. Pointing to the TV, he continued, “We used to use her on the Love It or Leave It. She can spin anything to make it good.”
“We had someone have a panic attack during the show. Full on, pulled a knife and everything. She spun it so well that it looked like it was caused by some outside forces and had the show pay to get her the help she needed.” Well, I wasn’t thrilled about them exploiting someone’s mental state, but paying to get this girl help was definitely something I could get behind.
But I couldn’t just say that. In my own way, I was also a little shit and had to let some sass fly. “So she’s a bullshit artist for hire?”
“Pretty much,” Eros admitted with a laugh.
“Might be helpful.” I shrugged.
“You need to learn to relax, Tia.” Oh, us. This lecture again? “You hit a bump, and you spiral. You need to lean into the spin.”
“When you hit a bump in war, it means lives are lost, and evil wins.”
Eros shook his head at my philosophy as he sat down on the couch next to me. “We’re not at war anymore. At least not the old kind.”
He was right, though I hated to admit it. Wars took on a different meaning in this 21st century. “Just hard not to look at everything that way.”
Why did I suddenly want to tell him everything? Why did I want to bond with him again? That had to be his dumb charm. Did he know he would have me the moment he told me I was his favorite?
I leaned my head on my brother’s shoulder tiredly before I asked, “You met everyone at the house when you…visited?” Infiltrated, but I was trying to be nice. I didn’t want to ruin the moment.
“I did,” Eros said, punctuating his answer with a kiss on my head.
“Including Haley?” Oh, this was dangerous territory. “Short blond with glasses? Kinda acts like her diet is exclusively sugar and coffee?”
Eros wrapped an arm around my shoulders and gave me a brotherly squeeze. “Yes. She was extremely suspicious of me.” She was? Why did that make me so happy? “I think she knew right off I wasn’t you.”
“Hm. She’s pretty smart.”
“So, how long have you loved her?”
Whoa. “I don’t know if I love her! She just makes me happy.”
Eros rolled his eyes again. “Okay. What’s the first thing you think when you wake up?”
I scoffed. “How much time did I lose while I was asleep?”
“And after that?” Eros laughed.
“Depends on the day.”
“You are so stubborn. You know that?”
“What does that make you?”
“Worse.” We both laughed at our banter.
“But, eventually…I wonder what she’s gonna talk about that day.” Watching Haley talk about things that excited her was sometimes the best part of my days.
“And does she know? Who you are?”
“No. No one does?”
Eros furrowed his brow in confusion. “Why? It’s not like we’re hiding anymore?” How could any of us hide with those dating shows Eros had arranged?
“No, but…I don’t know… Maybe I’m just unsure what they would all think.”
Eros snickered. “I think you’ll be surprised how they react. I lied to my assistant, Thea, for ten years. She found out without me, and I will always regret not being the one to tell her.”
Before I could come up with some other argument, we started hearing cranky cooing from one of the bedrooms. It was definitely one of the twins. “We’re about to wake the beasts.”
“I should go anyway,” I admitted. “I ran off in the middle of the protest.”
“Good luck, little sister.” Eros kissed my forehead one last time as he began to lead me to the door of their apartment.
Eros opened the door and allowed me to step out into the hallway before he said, “Come home, little sister. Bring her to meet us. You know, we’re not so bad, exhausted muses and trouble-making babies aside.”