I’m emotionally exhausted leaving Wares Security, dragging my feet back to the OA, knowing my last stop is going to be the hardest.
What do you say to the mother you haven’t seen in two thousand years? How have you been? What’s new?
Back inside the massive entryway, the receptionist glares at me, and I shoot her a knowing smirk, strolling up to her desk.
She stands, slamming what looks like a passkey and information packet in front of me.
Looks like someone might be upset with me.
My smile only stretches wider at her hostile attitude, especially when she slams the arrow on top of the items.
Normally, I can call my arrows back to my quiver mystically, just by laying my hand on its side, but I left this one behind just to be a dick, something I think I’ve achieved rather beautifully.
She angrily sits, typing into the computer loudly, “You’ve been assigned the 34th floor for business and personal use,” she snaps.
Saluting her with the arrow, I slip it back into my thigh holster, grasping the keycard, leaving the information packet behind. I’m more of a if-nothing’s-on-fire-I’m-good kind of god.
The receptionist stands immediately as I begin walking away, picking up and slamming down the information packet. I glance over my shoulder at her, sending her a mischievous wink, distracted momentarily from the sound of an elevator arriving, or heels clicking against the ground as someone runs.
When the sound comes closer, I turn towards it, shocked to see my mother heading straight for me. She’s sprinting to close the distance between us, and it looks like her eyes are welling with tears.
“Miteras.” Again, the ancient term slips from me, opening my arms on reflex as she continues her race towards me.
She launches herself into my arms, throwing her arms around my neck, clutching me close. I freeze for a minute before wrapping my arms around her, squeezing my mother to my chest. The second her body hits my chest, her heart reaches out and links with mine. Preparing myself to take on yet another heartache, shockingly, it buoys me, lessening some of the ache lingering from my father and Dinlas. Her body is shaking slightly, and I feel tears falling from her eyes, wetting my shirt.
“Don’t cry, Miteras. Don’t cry,” I murmur softly.
She just cries harder, pulling back from me, regaining her feet, teetering slightly on her towering heels, her smile watery.
“My firstborn is home, how could I not cry?” she chuckles, though the sound comes out slightly strangled, and I wipe away the tears still falling. It hurts me to see her cry; after everything, she’s still my mother.
There’s a distant ding as another elevator arrives, and a new voice calls out to us, “Aph, you can’t just run out without a word…”
My uncle, Apollo, freezes as he finds me wiping my mother’s tears. Pulling back from my mother, placing my hands on her shoulders reassuringly, I use the opportunity to glance at my uncle.
I nod my head sharply at him in greeting, expecting a similar response. My eyes narrowing on him when his normally golden skin blanches for an instant before he conceals it.
Okay, what the fuck is that about?
Glancing back at my mother, her tears stemming slightly, and…is she blushing? This probably goes without saying – because of who she is – but my mother does not blush. Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw…
Miteras and Apollo? I consider the idea for a second, mulling it over silently, before coming to terms with it. Apollo and I may not have the best of history – does the name Daphne ring any bells – but again, if he makes her happy, who am I to stand in the way?
Which does not mean I’m not going to cause some mischief with this newfound knowledge.
Looping a reassuring arm around my mother’s shoulders, I escort her back to the elevators. Unsurprisingly, my uncle joins us inside the first one that arrives.
When the doors slowly close, there’s an awkward silence between the three of us, even more so when my uncle presses the button for his floor, and I press the button for mine. I bit my lip to keep from smiling when I sense his annoyance that I’m preventing them from finishing whatever they started earlier.
In the few moments before we stop at his floor, I announce, my voice is light and teasing, though my words are a warning, “If you hurt my mother, I’ll kill you. I don’t care if the sun drops from the sky.”
My mother sputters as we stop on my uncle’s floor, allowing him to step silently off, he softly adds, “I just might let you.”
He lingers for a moment, shooting a longing look at my mother – which makes me roll my eyes. I press the close elevator button repeatedly, making sure to throw a shit-eating-grin at my uncle as I do.
“Byyyeee, Uncle,” I call, snickering when he glares daggers at me when the doors slide close.
“Eros! What was that?” she demands, hitting me hard in the stomach, reaching up to wipe away any lingering tears.
“Ow, is that any way to treat your favorite child?” I smirk, squeezing her back into my side affectionately.
“When he acts like that, yes.”
Pressing a kiss to her hair, we ride in companionable silence to my new floor, and for a moment, I forget why I have been dreading seeing her.
That is until we get off on my floor.
Swinging the door open to the private apartments, my mother gives a small smile as she flounces ahead of me. Slipping off my quiver and bow, resting them slightly inside the door – I always have them close on hand, you never know when the opportunity to cause trouble will present itself. The rooms are already furnished, in a style similar to my grandfather’s office – which I will immediately be changing. Do I look like someone who enjoys sleek modern design?
I take the opportunity to step in front of my mother, spinning slowly to assess the room, already imagining the changes.
A strangled sound escapes from her, and I spin back to face her, finding she’s holding a hand over her mouth in horror. I immediately return to her side, placing a comforting hand on her arm.
“Miteras, what’s the matter?”
Her voice is a broken whisper, “Eros…where are your wings?”
Fuck. I was so happy to see her that I’d forgotten – for a moment – why I dreaded seeing her. I take several steps back from her, unable to cover my own pain at the sight of her devastation, as if the slight separation between us will rewind time, and prevent this conversation from ever happening.
“It’s nothing, Mit-“ I break off suddenly when she crosses the distance between us, surprising me by grabbing me. I’m so taken off guard, I don’t protest when she spins me around and rips open the back of my shirt.
“It’s nothing!” I protest, moving away from her again, whipping back around to face her, keeping my back – and the scars – concealed.
Her fists clenching with anger, appearing very much the goddess of old – the one you never wanted to anger – her voice whipping out, “Who did this to you?”
“I said it was nothing! Leave it,” I growl.
“Give me a name and I will make them beg for death.” Her rage at my lost wings makes her body vibrate.
“It was me! It was me.”
I immediately head for Nox after leaving my mother, in desperate need of a drink, followed by roughly eighteen more, so I can forget that I ever came back. Even better if I can actually forget my name. What can I say? I’m ambitious.
I ignore the curious looks of the patrons lingering about the club, heading straight for the bar. When I settle into the farthest stool, two shots of alcohol appear immediately in front of me. I suppose there are some benefits to being among the company of gods.
I keep my eyes focused straight ahead, even as I sense I’m no longer alone, the lights around me dimming as she settles into the stool next to me.
Can’t a god get any alone time?
The rhythmic tapping of her black nails along the surface of the bar indicates I’m trying her patience by continuing to ignore her.
Without looking at her, keeping my eyes locked on one of the bottles lined up behind the bar, distracting myself by counting them in my head.
“Nyxie,” I murmur curtly, using my nickname for her. I have nicknames for most of the pantheon. Do you have any idea how tiresome it gets to say Artemis, Hephaestus, and Poseidon? I had to mix it up; a side benefit is most deities despised the nicknames I call them, which only guaranteed I will always call them such. Number one way to get me to do something? Tell me not to do it.
Her voice is as dark and throaty as I remember, and infinitely more dangerous. “The god of love. You appear to be missing something.”
My wings, of course the primordial would know instantly. It should shock exactly zero people that I have no desire to rehash what my mother just dragged out of me an hour earlier.
Time to do what I do best. Distract. Evade. Create general mischief.
Shooting back my first shot casually, I turn to glance towards the front of Nox, indicating the new business opening next door.
“Opening a new club? I would have recommended finding something a little farther away from your current one.”
Nyx scoffs at my side, following my gaze with her eerie eyes, her silver hair cascading over her shoulder as she does. “It’s not a nightclub, it’s a coffee house and daycare.”
She’s a stunning goddess, and I idly wonder where her husband is. With her distracted, I focus to hear her heart’s current desire. The key to causing general mischief? You need to know where to strike.
Unlike other gods, her heart’s desire isn’t a whisper of words through my mind, it’s like a grasping hand of darkness. She’s searching for something, for someone to hold on to, to cling to.
I throw back the other drink in front of me, shrinking back my focus, dodging the whispering tendrils of her heart. If I’m not careful, her ache will find its way into my chest, and currently, my brother and father’s are more than enough.
“A daycare? It’s hard to imagine you running a daycare,” I murmur, finishing my first drinks and waving for another.
A slightly bemused smile twitches her lips at my pronouncement. “Oh? And just what do you imagine me running?”
Pausing, I assess the primordial. “The primordial of night? Easy, something to do with the dark web.”
“The dark web?” she asks with a slight head tilt.
“Yes. You know the little devices that all mortals appear almost fused with? It’s composed of a grid of black, with cascading lights of numbers and symbols.” Tapping her nose with a wink, a move which she would have killed another god for, I add, “Similar to the night sky, but hidden.”
She smiles back at me. Nyx is one of the few deities who found my antics amusing rather than irksome. Resting a comforting hand on my shoulder, her fathomless starry eyes search mine. “I’ll think about it. I’m happy you’re home. I’ve missed you.”
I cover my uncomfortable gulp at the sentiment she expresses. I may be the god of love, but open affection is not something I’m familiar with. People tend to want to punch me in the face rather than hug me, which I’m completely fine with.
Glancing around making sure no other gods are eavesdropping, I whisper, “I missed you too, Nyxie.”
She gestures to the bartender, and a drink appears in front of her, and mine is full again.
Clinking her glass against mine, she cheers, “To auspicious returns.”
I lift my glass in response, draining the contents. Looks like I’m getting white girl wasted with a primordial tonight.
I suppose there are worse ways to spend an evening.