As I stepped into the kitchen, the events of the night before came rushing back. Mom was back, and so was Hestia. I had made a new friend in Khione and connected more with Auntie Amph.
They must’ve put me in Hestia’s bed, but where had she slept? And where are my pants?
I took a lap around the apartment before I found my pants, as well as a note from Hestia.
Had to go to Boston to take care of some things. Make yourself comfortable and help yourself to whatever you want to eat. Also, feel free to come and go as you please.
I smiled down at the note. I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed the Goddess of the Hearth. There was once a time when we were the best of friends. Despite being older than me, she always felt like less of an aunt and more like a peer. That day in Rome was one of our greatest adventures. History never gave her enough credit for all her power and all that she’d done for humanity.
I think that’s where I really bonded with her. Her love for the mortals of the world mirrored mine. It was rare to find that in a group of immortals who had seen humanity tear itself apart and then struggle to repair the damage so many times. Eris was one of those that saw them as entertaining playthings at most. Others were mostly indifferent to them and their plights, but Hestia fought for them. She created fire and warmth for them, supplying food to nourish their bodies. She had never become disillusioned with them and their mistakes. She loved fiercely.
I looked around Hestia’s apartment, not knowing what to do next. She had invited me to be comfortable, but I never felt comfortable being in another person’s home alone while they were away. I probably would’ve even been uncomfortable in Eros’s home. Even more so now that they had the twins.
My stomach growled at me, reminding me that while I had feasted the night before, hours had passed, and I needed new nourishment. I padded into the kitchen, expecting the tile floor to chill my bare feet, but there was a gentle warmth to the ground.
As I passed the fireplace, the embers sparked as if they were reigniting. I snapped my head to the side and found Hestia’s three-headed cat lounging in the fireplace, staring at me as if I’d roused him from his nap. “Sorry, Leo. I didn’t mean to wake you.” With a yawn, Leo gave me a meow that was somewhere between tired and cranky. Then he curled back up, allowing sleep to overtake him again. I resisted the urge to pet him, and instead started looking around Hestia’s kitchen, trying to decide what I wanted for breakfast.
Hestia had provided an array of meal choices, which was both a blessing and a curse. The blessing was that I wasn’t stuck eating something I wasn’t in the mood for because there were no other options, but deciding what to eat was nearly impossible. I quickly settled on the leftovers of the meals Hestia had made. Hestia made everything she could from scratch, so choosing anything other than the things she’d already prepared meant that I would have to cook it myself. I was tired of my cooking, and Hestia was one of the best cooks, if not the best cook, in the pantheon. I hadn’t had her food in so long, how could I pass up the opportunity?
Oh, but what to eat? There were muffins and pastries from the night before. There was also leftover pie and brisket. I even found a quiche chilling in the fridge. Habit from running the Revolt House told me to eat the healthiest, most vegan-friendly thing. Admittedly, nothing was perfectly vegan, and the muffins and pie would be the closest, but my eyes were drawn to the bear claws and donuts. It had been so long since I had indulged in some junk food. Hestia’s were so sinfully delicious that they almost belonged in Tartarus.
My exhausted joy easily beat out my discipline for control. I grabbed a plate and piled it high with three donuts. One was maple, one chocolate, and one was a simple sugar glaze. The finishing touch was a mug of fresh coffee with a little cream and sugar. I took my plate and mug over to Hestia’s couch and curled up, watching the late morning settle over the land around the CG.
I didn’t know how long Hestia had been gone for, but both the coffee and donuts tasted very fresh, hot, and fluffy. It was invigorating. I’d heard the others at the Revolt House talking about things called foodgasms, and though the very concept was confusing to me, Hestia’s food was the closest thing that induced the feelings that were described to me. I sank my teeth into the maple donut, and whatever tension was in my body that morning slowly melted away, leaving me a happy little mush on the couch.
I don’t know how much time passed as I ate my donuts and drank my coffee. For the last however many decades, I had become accustomed to either skipping meals or grabbing something fast and eating them on the move. The only time I sat down and took the time to enjoy a meal was when I was at the Revolt House. Even then, I couldn’t fully relax because I always felt like I had to keep up certain appearances. It was where we would discuss business, and I had to be on the entire time. I had to be perfect.
As I finished the last of my coffee, I sat back on the couch, lulling my head to the side to keep watching the nature that surrounded Mount Olympus. After being away from my mind for about sixteen hours, the Revolt House was slogging its way back into my thoughts. It was nice to forget about it for a night and just enjoy the return of my mother and Hestia, making new friends, and reconnecting with old ones. But forgetting problems did not lead to solutions, and the problems would persist until a solution was forced upon us or found.
My place in the Revolt Project was still a problem. My fear and anxiety over the happenings at the warehouse had lessened in the last twenty-four hours. Even if I wasn’t as scared anymore, it was still a loose end. There was no way for us to tie it up in a pretty bow because there was no way to know who was behind it. Were there suspects? Yes, but finding those suspects was going to be a chore in and of itself. Narrowing down the options and coming to the correct conclusion was going to be even harder and twice as dangerous.
What if our enemy came knocking on my Boston doorstep? Sure, I wasn’t the most powerful or even influential of all the gods. Grandma Hera and Grandpa Zeus were clearly the biggest threats. But in a game of chess, you don’t take the king out in the first round. You don’t have the time, the movement, or the resources to guarantee that success.
You take out the pawns first so that reinforcements can’t come in and undo your plans and progress. And in the grand scheme of the pantheon, I was a pawn. I was a reinforcement. Despite my strength as a daughter of Ares, I was terribly unprotected. I had about ten weaknesses that could easily be taken advantage of. Haley. Melissa. Jacob. Jude. Every one of the Revolt House members was my weakness and my strength simultaneously. They gave me something to fight for.
I had worked very hard not to expose them to this side of my life. Initially, that was because I wanted nothing to taint their view of me, and I didn’t know how any of them would feel about having a goddess leading them. In hindsight, that was a stupid reason to keep the truth from them. None of them had ever given me reason to believe that my immortal status would have any effect on them or their opinion of me. It would be shocking, of course, but a deal-breaker? Unlikely.
Now their safety was on the line. They came to me because they trusted me to protect them while we all worked to create a better world. When I was just Tia to the world, they all stood a better chance of surviving. It wasn’t impossible for our enemies to find me, but there was less of a chance since I had been living as a mortal for centuries. Now that I was back with my family, the protection was gone. The target was back on my back, and consequently, on theirs.
Weaknesses cannot be afforded in war. My father’s harsh words of wisdom echoed at me from the past. I thought I knew what he meant all those years ago, and I thought I could avoid having weaknesses simply by becoming the smartest, strongest version of myself. What he meant was that anything or anyone that grew to be too important to me could easily be used against me. They could be used to hurt me. The Revolt House had become very important to me. They were the family I’d chosen for myself.
I had become exactly what I had always been afraid of becoming. I was weak by my father’s definition and weak by the world’s cruel standards.
So the solution was the same. I still had to leave the Revolt House. Not because I was the weakness, but because everyone else there was my weakness. I couldn’t tell them that, of course. They would never understand, even if they knew who I was, and it wasn’t their fault. It was mine. In my desire to find my purpose away from my family, fragile mortals became my new purpose. When they were gone, what was going to happen to me?
How did everything get so tangled?