I sat at my desk, flicking my lighter absentmindedly.
Nyx’s Island Warming went well. Well for me, anyway. I hope Artemis and Iain, whatever he is to her, were in a better frame of mind about me.
“What the hell is that? When did I ever give a shit about what people thought of me?” the other half of my brain scoffed.
“You’ve always cared, you just wouldn’t admit it before.”
I sighed. And where did these feelings for Nyx suddenly come from? Nyx and I always got along great, and there had always been a kind of flirtatious energy between us. But this? This was unexpected. It came at me like a shot in the dark.
“A shot in the dark…”
I felt my anger rise.
I paused and took a breath to calm down. He must’ve shot with an arrow me after he got me drunk.
I was already irritated I couldn’t figure out how he cheated at the drinking contest. I know he cheated; he has never drank me under the table like that before.
“Mad about the arrow, remember?”
Yeah, the arrow. I closed my eyes and concentrated. I know Eros focuses on emotional pain energy. He loves to show up when you’re at your lowest. I assume it’s just to gloat or laugh.
I purposefully concentrate. The day Artemis left, Ares turning his back and favoring the twins, Cerberus and I at Lamark, Aphrodite spurning me, Calligenia and Aode being cursed. It was a greatest hits of heartbreak and misery for me. Within a few minutes, I could feel the anguish churning inside me as I forced myself to relive these moments.
I knew he couldn’t resist.
Outside my office door I heard it, the soft pop of someone teleporting in. The door opened and Eros strolled in like he owned the place.
“Hey, Din,” he said casually as he flopped into one of my chairs. The girls looked up at him, wagged their tails a few swipes, then laid their heads back down.
I opened my eyes and immediately let go of the misery bait I’d been holding in my chest.
Eros cocked his head to the side as the emotions of the room became neutral again.
“You okay, Brother?” he asked.
“I know you shot me with an arrow.”
He just stared at me, so I continued.
“What am I to you? Am I just the straight guy? The butt to your never-ending string of sophomoric pranks? When are you going to grow up? You know this doesn’t affect just me, this affects Nyx as well. I’m pretty sure she has real feelings for me. This wasn’t just knocking boots to her. What am I supposed to do when this arrow shit wears off on me? What am I supposed to tell her then?”
Eros’ face broke into a broad smile.
I was rapidly approaching infuriated.
“So you think this is funny? You fucking little fuck. I oughta throw you right through this wall, you insensitive shit.”
“Brother,” he began, “it really is breathtaking how little you understand about love, or me.”
“Really? That’s rich coming from the angst God of Love. Yeah, I know all about your pain. I also know all about your obsession with others’ pain. How do you think I got you here so quick? Just had to dredge up a little emotional muck and here you are.”
Eros looked caught off guard. Quite frankly, it was him that usually got the best of me in our tete a tetes. He was surprised at being played, in being lured here.
“That’s not funny,” he growled as he realized what happened.
I clicked the lighter closed in my hand.
“None of this is funny. Now, you did it…undo it.”
Eros regained his composure, spread his hands out palms up, and said, “I can’t.”
“Dinlas, look, the arrows, they don’t create an emotion. Please keep this to yourself. But they don’t create love. Not even a god can do that. Love, true love, is above and beyond even our power.”
“That’s bullshit. I can breed hate, have done so for years. My aura can have people fighting in no time.”
“That’s because it’s always easier for them to hate than it is to love.”
I just sat looking at him before I replied, “What are you saying, Eros?”
“Well, my skill is reading people. I don’t create love. I see people who need to make a connection. I just make it happen easier, the emotion is already there. The arrow acts like emotional grease. A shot in the ass, if you will, that makes people express themselves easier.”
I sat scowling. Finally, I replied, “You’re saying I was already feeling this?”
“So then you shot Nyx, too?”
Eros snorted. “By Zeus, no. She didn’t need an arrow, have you seen her when you’re around? She definitely has feelings.”
Eros continued, “Frankly, you bottled all your shit up so tight, I thought I was going to have to hit you two or three times.”
A sudden realization hit me.
“By Hades, Brother. Just get people drunk, it’s the same thing.”
Eros shook his head and replied, “And step all over Dion’s toes? No, wine is fine, but arrows are quicker.”
Another realization hit me just then. “You didn’t come to gloat. You came because you thought the arrow didn’t work.”
“Yeah, sort of. More to see how you could be in such pain so quick. I figured you were fucking up again somehow.”
I stared Eros. I knew he was emotionally hurting as well. He refused to talk about his wife Psyche and became extremely angry whenever she was mentioned. I liked Psyche, but I hadn’t seen her in ages. She was always very sweet to me. Something happened there and he refused to acknowledge or address it.
“What happened between them? I can feel it coming off him in waves. What is that I feel? Pity? No…sympathy?…no, not that, either. I want to tell him about my vision of Psyche on the Plain of Lamark, but something stops me.”
Eros stood up, “Well if we’re done here, I’m gonna bounce.”
I stood as well and stepped around the desk toward him. He put his hands up defensively, He clearly thought I was going to hit him.
I grabbed him roughly around the shoulders and pulled him into a hug. We stood chest to chest.
“Uhhhh,” he said.
“There it is again. That hollow feeling. It’s much stronger now….”
“Empathy…that’s the word. Empathy.”
For the first time in many years, I could feel someone else’s pain.
I pulled my head back and looked Eros in the face. He was standing rigid, like he was impersonating a fence post.
He cleared his throat. “Din, have I told you lately how much I hate personal displays of affection when they’re directed at me?”
“Yeah, I know,” I said as I pulled his shoulders closer to me. My hand brushed one of the nubs where he cut his wings off. He stiffened, if possible, even more.
“Okay, let me go, Din. Seriously.”
He began to struggle. He may outwit me often, but he was never going to physically overpower me. I held him even tighter.
“Tell me how I can help you get back to her,” I whispered in his ear. “You’re an annoying little fuck, but you’re still my brother. Let me know when you’re ready.”
I stumbled forward at the same time I heard the soft popping noise. He teleported straight out of my bear hug.
I caught myself from falling, then shook my head. “Who’s ever heard of a God of Love that doesn’t want to be hugged?”