I turned to face Zeus. “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you are the reason for our ill tempers?”
He grinned that look-at-my-boyish-charm smile of his. “I could live with that.”
“Of course you could. Because everything is always about you, isn’t it?” I threw my hands up. His irreverence can be exasperating.
He pulled himself to sit squarely on the desk, kicking his feet back and forth. “So…do you want to keep sniping or do you want to hear what I have to say?”
“Fine. Tell me all about your grand plan.”
He slid from the desk and walked back and forth as he launched into an enthusiastic sermon about reclaiming our rightful rule over mortals for their own good. Frankly, I zoned out after about two minutes. I already had a crystal clear idea of his reasons. He brought them up every fifty to a hundred years, and Hera confirmed it on our brief elevator ride.
I covered my mouth as I yawned. “Really? This again, Z? This sounds like the same tired rant you went on after World Wars I and II. Before that it was about that war between the States…the…uh, Civil War, as I recall.”
He stopped pacing a moment. I could see the wheels turning behind those eyes. “This is different,” he said and walked over to the window, looking out.
I laughed. “Sure, sure it is.”
“It is!” He snapped as he turned back to me. “This time, it’s more than talk. We are taking action.” He pointed out of the window. “We are going directly to the mortals instead of expecting them to come to us. We will go where they are. Where they live. Where they eat. Where they play. Where they work.”
I quirked a brow. “We, huh? Not that anyone has noticed, but that’s exactly what I have been doing all along. While almost everyone else was up on the Mount doing gods know what to gods know who, I was down on the ground with my nose in it. I’ve been seeding humanity with ideas and guiding them while you…you were seeding…uh, never mind. I don’t need any more of that imagery in my brain.”
“Mox,” he said as he turned back from the window, “I know you’ve been down there and you’ve done some really good work. Great work. That stuff you did with that Gaiman guy was nothing short of brilliant, but…”
“But? But what?” I felt my back stiffening.
“But, you can do more,” he said. “I have some…”
I cut him off. “More? More? Screw you.”
“Just listen. I have…”
I marched over to him and pointed my finger in his face, which was admittedly awkward since he was a good foot taller than the redhead I was wearing. “No. You listen. I’ve been busting my ass without any help from you, and now you are going to tell me how to do a better job? I don’t think so. The work I do is above your paygrade, buddy.”
“Hey now…” he said as he leaned away from my waggling finger, then pushed my hand away from his face. “First of all, you might want to let me finish my sentence before you go off on me. Secondly…”
I opened my mouth to speak, but he continued.
“Secondly,“ he repeated as he walked back to his desk, “don’t be so damn sensitive. I wasn’t criticizing your work. For what I have in mind, I need your skills.”
“Oh, yeah?” I eyed him warily, waiting for the other shoe to drop. He didn’t disappoint.
“Yeah. However,” he smirked as he flopped into his chair, “let’s be honest, here. It’s not like everything you do turns out perfectly.”
“There it is. I knew you couldn’t resist taking a swipe at me.”
He grinned impishly.
That damn self-congratulatory grin was infuriating. I decided I would wipe it from his face. So, I sauntered over and placed my palms on his desk, leaning in. I spoke calmly, cooly, “This is all sport to you. Fun and games. Well, Mr. Perfect, we are all familiar with some of your less than stellar moves. I mean, who tosses their own son off a mountain just because he needs corrective shoes? Oh. That would be you.”
I watched the smile disappear. His mouth tightened and he leaned back in his chair, arms wide. “You’re right. We all have our moments. Like you and that little festival thing that flopped. What was it called. Mud? Water? Volcano? Oh, I remember, Fyre. Fyre Festival.”
“Wait a minute,” I growled. “The idea was fine. FINE. I can’t help if that McMortal guy took it in a whole different direction. I mean, he didn’t even spell FIRE right, for crying out loud. You know what? We’re done here. Good luck with your big comeback.”
I turned on my heels and headed for the door.
“We aren’t done until I say we are done. You aren’t going anywhere.”
I kept walking and replied over my shoulder without looking back, “Watch me.”
The air rippled and crackled around me and I heard a low rumble as he roared, “No. You watch ME.”
That’s when I felt the searing heat cut through the flesh on my ass and hip. I stopped dead and looked down at the scorched, smoking gash. The smell of burnt flesh wafted into my nostrils.I spun around. “Oh, Hades, no. You did not just…” I glanced again at the smoldering tear on my hip then looked back at him. “Now it’s on.”