Hephaestus found his disembodied form flashing quickly through his life growing up. Seeing things, not from his perspective, but from others.

 – Flash –

Zeus and Hera sitting next to each other on their bed. Zeus holding his head in his hands. Hera holding Zeus.

“I really messed it up, didn’t I?”

“It’s okay, my love. He will forgive you. You’ll see.”

– Flash –

Moxie crying as Hephaestus walked away. She leans down and gathers up the broken flowers he had thrown at her feet when she tried to tell him how she felt.

– Flash –

Hera sitting on his bed while he thrashed around in his sleep. She pushes his hair from his forehead, singing him a soft lullaby to comfort him until he stills.

– Flash –

Zeus hesitating near the forge with frustration on his face. Clearly wanting to talk to his son, but unable to find the right thing to say.

– Flash –

Ares beating up each and every one of Hephaestus’ tormentors. Protecting his brother the only way he knew how.

– Flash –

Ares meeting Hephaestus at a secluded pool with two nymphs on his arm. The girls look excited to see Hephaestus until he limps out of the water.

“You can’t pay me enough to bed that, Ares.”

Hephaestus grabbing his clothes and storming off. “Enjoy, brother.

The girls draping themselves over Ares, expecting an afternoon of carnal delights with him.

“You disgust me,” he sneers at them. “If you are repulsed by my brother, then I am repulsed by you.”

Ares storming off to try and catch up to Hephaestus.

– Flash –

Hera bringing Hephaestus dinner at the forge only to be pushed away.

“Go away, Mother, I’m busy.”

“You need to eat, Hephy.”

“I will when I’m ready. Don’t call me that.”

“You didn’t mind it when you were a boy.”

“That was before I realized your love was just a charade to make you look like the victim. Poor Hera has a lame son. Look how much she loves him in spite of it.” He spits. “You disgust me, Mother.”

Hera’s chin trembles and she presses her hand to her chest. A tear falls from her eye, but she squares her shoulders and takes a breath.

“I’m sorry you feel that way. I only hope your own children never dismiss you as you have me.”

“I’m never having children. Now go chase after Father. I’m busy.”

– Flash –

Moxie bringing some plants to Hephaestus in the forge.

“I thought your place could use some sunshine, Hephy.” She smiles and holds out a potted ivy plant.

Hephaestus taking the plant and hurling it into the fire. “Don’t you get it, Moxie? My world will never have sunshine, so stop trying so gods damned hard to fix me. And don’t call me that!” He turns from her and limps out, leaving her standing alone next to the heat of the forge, her heart broken…again.

– Flash –

Nike playing in the field with her brother, Zelus. Each one trying to out fly the other. She sees Hephaestus sitting on a rock, alone, with a look of longing on his face, and flies over to him.

“Hello, brother! Are you here to play with us?” She smiles in anticipation.

Hephaestus snorts loudly. “I’m no more your brother than Ares is a virgin. Go away, I don’t want to play with you.”  He gets up and walks off, favoring his lame foot.

Nike looks as if her world has been crushed. Zelus flies over and sees her tears.

“I’ll kill him for making you cry, little one!”

“No!” Nike grabs a hold of Zelus. “No. He’s just lashing out because he hasn’t found his place yet. He’ll be better. You’ll see.”

They both stare down the trail that Hephaestus disappeared on.

– Flash –

Zeus standing in a room with shelves covering the walls. Each shelf filled with little trinkets that Hephaestus has made over the years – small toys, figurines, daggers, and shields. Zeus grabs an item from one of the shelves and smiles. It is one of the first things Hephaestus ever made, a small lightning bolt. Zeus rubs his thumb over its well-worn surface.

“I hope you will forgive me one day, my son.”

– Flash –

Hephaestus found himself back on the hill he started on. There were so many emotions seething through his body, he didn’t know what to do. Did he cry? Did he throw up? Did he feel self-righteous? Just when he thought he couldn’t stand the pain a second longer, he was sucked back into the dark void. It was quiet this time, leaving him with his thoughts.

He was slammed back into his body, his arm out, grasping the card. The light from the torches blinded him and he squeezed his eyes shut. A shudder passed through his entire body and he let out a pained cry. Quickly, he shut his mouth to keep the noise from repeating. He felt a wetness on his cheeks and wiped at them, not wanting his siblings to see his pain.

Ares spun Hephaestus around and drew him into a tight hug. “The girls were worried, brother.” Ares held Hephaestus by the shoulders and looked at him. He lowered his voice. “Are you okay?” Hephaestus could do nothing but nod, but Ares didn’t buy it.

Ares turned Hephaestus around again and intercepted the girls as they descended upon him. Ares wrapped his arms around their waists and walked them to the opposite corner of the chamber.

“Ares, stop it. I need to make sure my brother is okay!” Nike tried to turn around, but Ares held tighter.

“He’s fine, little one. Give the man a minute to collect himself before you harpies attack him with your claws.”

Moxie punched Ares in the side and slid from his arm during his moment of surprise. She rushed over to Hephaestus, who had gathered himself enough to face his siblings.

“Hephy, are you sure you’re okay? I’ve been through it. It was…rough.” She hesitantly reached for his arm, stopping just short of it.

Hephaestus stood up straighter and cleared his throat. “I’m fine, Mox. Now, where’s that door that’s supposed to open up?” He raised his face to the clouds and shouted, “I’ve passed your test! Let us out of here!”

A moment later, the vines retreated and exposed a stone door. As the group walked toward it, the door opened.

Hephaestus led them out, followed by a worried Moxie and an impatient Nike. Ares knew his brother wasn’t all right, and that he and Nike were next.

Ares shivered and followed the rest out of the chamber.

Hera (CJ Landry)
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