Welcome Home

“Eros!” I roared as I flipped the coffee table, spilling my broken laptop onto the floor. “I needed that! Do you have any idea…my files…my calendar!” My rage and dread were making it impossible for me to speak. “I’m gonna kill you!”

“If we moved the fundraiser here…no. We’re gonna need that day for the protest.” It was my third time visiting the God Complex since the return of the traitor, Atë. I was hesitant to return—if for no other reason than because I had to try to play nice with the bitch. And she didn’t make that easy. The house next to the Revolt House was being renovated, and I found myself in need of a quiet workspace. Most of the housemates would set up at libraries, coffee shops, and nearby campuses during the day, only returning at night for dinner when the workmen had gone home. I tried all of those places, and it still wasn’t working for me. Even quiet libraries seemed too loud. I missed the solidarity of my room with my desk. 

So I decided to take a chance and try the God Complex. They were still preparing my room, even though I insisted they not waste their time. I couldn’t see myself coming by enough to need it. Nevertheless, I was stuck with the lounge during my visit. It actually wasn’t too bad. In fact, the lounge was particularly quiet that day.

And the moment I thought that to myself was the moment the quietness evaporated in the harshest of ways.

The arrow slammed into the back of my laptop and popped through the screen, stopping at the halfway point of the shaft. The circuitry behind the shattered screen sparked for a few more minutes as the wires tried to register what had just happened. Just like me. I had to blink a few times before it started to sink in.

And as it did, there was that mischievous voice. “Hi, Sis!” Just as quickly as he appeared, my brother disappeared with a smirk on his face.

“Eros!” I roared as I flipped the coffee table, spilling my broken laptop onto the floor. “I needed that! Do you have any idea…my files…my calendar!” My rage and dread were making it impossible for me to speak. “I’m gonna kill you!” I started charging towards the door, planning my route to Eros and Clio’s room.

I didn’t even make it out of the lounge before my brother reappeared, just a step outside of my warpath. I couldn’t even register his presence before Eros stuck his foot into my path. My own foot hooked under his, and I went crashing to the floor. “Tia. You better learn to focus on the now, or you might miss it.”  

This man. This bastard was really trying to lecture me after destroying my personal property and fucking up months of work. “You are so dead!” I spun on the ground, hooking my foot behind his ankles as I did. The momentum of my spin took Eros’s feet out from under him, sending him onto his back.

Unbothered as always, Eros somersaulted back to his feet without indicating that he took any damage during his fall. “Bring it, baby sister.” I accepted my brother’s challenge with a roaring tackle.

Unfortunately, he stepped out of the way at the last second. “Tsk, tsk. Pater taught us better than to charge right in.” Ugh. I hated it when he used Dad against me. It made me scream again, but there was a level of exhaustion in my scream. Hell, I was so damn tired that I didn’t even care that my braid was a complete mess. I just kept trying to grab my brother.

Eros was the fast one of us children of war, and he showed it with the way he danced around me, avoiding my grabs at him. “Is something wrong, Tia? You seem agitated.” That was his favorite game, playing dumb to further infuriate his victim. 

“Oh, you two,” an ethereal voice came into the lounge. Oh, great. It’s not enough that I have Mister Aphrodisiac to deal with. Now, I have to deal with pure chaos. Eris materialized into the room in their female form. They were looking menacing as ever in their black cocktail dress and combat boots. Their raven companion just drove that image home. “This is just like the old days when I babysat you while Ares was at work.” Silence hung in the air as we all knew Eris wasn’t done speaking. “And by babysat, I’m of course referring to kidnapping. And by work, I’m of course referring to whatever the Tartarus he did when I was starting the real wars.”

I didn’t pay much mind to Eris’s smack talk. I was too busy spiraling down into a pit of despair. I sank to my knees as reality set in and hit me. My laptop was gone along with all of my files, plans, calendars, contacts, and every other piece of information that was absolutely vital to my work. “Now I have to start all over. And try to recreate everything. From memory.” My numbed face twisted back into anger as I looked up at my brother. “And it’s all your fault!”

“So dramatic, baby sister,” Eros teased with an eye-roll. He held up his phone, giving me a full view of the screen. The Revolt House event schedule was right there, still intact. “Haven’t you ever heard of the cloud? I clone everyone’s phone. Once you enter the GC or log into anything here, it’s on the security server for me to hack.” And with that, Eros gave one of his classic wicked grins.

This was too much to go through in a matter of minutes. I went from rage to despair back to anger and now to disbelief that the solution was that fucking simple. My jaw completely unhinged and dropped at the sight of my schedule. I think I even stopped breathing for a moment.

“Eros. Did you break your sister again?” I knew the rasp of death without having to look to the shadows. It had to be Thanatos. At least it’s not another mischief-maker. I’m already outnumbered.

Eros called over his shoulder to Thanatos, “I’m teaching her to distance herself from the material world.” 

Thanatos’s only reaction was a grunt. “Is that what you call it?” Clio asked.

“But the material world is fun, Ros,” Eris tried to argue. “It gives people so much to fight about. All these useless things that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. They spend years agonizing over all of it.” Now, of all times, they decide to wax poetic.

I fell forward, face-first onto the lounge floor. “You. Are. The. Worst.”

I felt my phone buzz and heard it beep from my pocket. “All backed up to your phone, little sister.” I didn’t take my face from the floor as I lifted my fist into the air, popping up my middle finger.

The smacking sound suggested that Eros was blowing me a kiss. “Welcome home.”

That’s when I felt Thanatos’s dark presence fade from the room. “Wait, Thanatos! Take him with you!” 

“I already tried. He escaped. He’s wily.” The body didn’t return while the voice echoed away. And with that, the Grim Reaper was gone.

I turned to Eris in vain hope. “What does a girl have to do to get you to take him out?”

“My little flying monkey? I could never! God of Love or no, half of the fights around here are because of that adorable little himbo. I’d starve without him!” I knew it was useless—the chaos crew were thick as thieves. But it was worth a shot, and the disappointment still made me whine and slam my face back into the floor. “Addie, at least hit someone else! Hitting yourself is no fun.” Trying to stay sane with so many chaotic beings in the room was proving as difficult as ever.

“Aren,” Eros called. Turning my attention to the lounge door, I found Clio had entered with the babies in a stroller. She was pretty engrossed by something on her phone. 

In fact, she was so engrossed that she didn’t bother to look up at Eros as she brushed past him into the kitchen and said, “Lykos.”

When Clio came back, she was sipping from a cup of coffee and still starring at her phone, which was now perched on the handlebar of the twins’ stroller. Eros came up behind her, kissing her temple as he hugged her from behind. “I think I’ve upset my sister, Aren.”

“What did you do?” Clio asked, not looking away from her phone.

Eros laughed and kissed his wife’s cheek. “I shot an arrow through her laptop.” Wow. He actually confessed. That was new.

“And nearly made me lose all of my documents and files and calendars and schedules!” He wasn’t going to get away with only telling part of the story. Not while I was around.

“Whose her laptop in love with now?” Eris asked in jest.

This was the first time Clio had looked up from her phone, and she did so to frown at her husband. “You’ll buy her a new one, right?”

“Maybe,” he snickered. “If you ask it of me, Aren.”

Dissatisfied with such a vague answer, Clio dipped into Eros’s pocket and pulled out his wallet. Flipping it open, she pulled out a credit card. My sister-in-law, a perfect picture of kindness, knelt in front of me and handed me the credit card. “Here you go. Welcome home.”

“Aren!” I snatched the card out of Clio’s hand before Eros could stop me. “Whose side are you on?” Eros yelled.

“Your sister’s,” Clio answered with the softest smile.

“Wow. Harsh,” Eros gasped.

“Actions have consequences, Lykos,” Clio lectured. The lecture was given a greater sting with a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you for the new laptop, Eros. And for your generous donation to the Revolt Project.” I may not have been as chaotic as my brother and his friends, but even I knew how to take an opportunity when it was presented to me. I wasn’t going to let this one slide. I was going to milk it for all it was worth. “Thank you, Clio.” My gratitude for Clio was genuine and not at all taunting.

“Aren.” Eros sounded oddly amused, given what had just happened. “You didn’t look at the name on the card, did you?” I looked down at the card. In huge capital letters was Deimos’s name, listing him as the cardholder. I should’ve known this was too easy.

Clio looked over my shoulder at the card. When she saw what I saw, she squinted at Eros and mouthed, “Dog house.” 

“Not my fault you didn’t look at the card,” Eros defended with raised, innocent hands. “Or that the wallet doesn’t even look like mine.”

“Well, I’m sure Deimos would love to know how you got a hold of this,” I teased my brother.

“Yes, tell him,” Eris encouraged. They even started petting their raven like a Bond villain. “Tell him soon.”

Eros smirked, unbothered by the threat. “I’m sure he already knows it’s missing.”

“Good. I get to watch him kick you to the curb.”

Eris scoffed. “Yeah, like he’s never tried that before.” And they were right. The only reason my brother got away with anything was because he was too hard to catch, punish, or get back at. The only person who could was the person he put a ring on. Clio.

Clio reminded us all of this power she had over him by jabbing him in the stomach. Then she asked, “Eris, would you still be up for helping me hide a body?”

“Always, soul sister.” I couldn’t tell if they didn’t realize Clio was talking about Eros or if they had changed their answer because they liked Clio more than they liked me. I couldn’t think they were that thick. Eris was smart. That’s why they were so devastating.

I looked down at the credit card, feeling conflicted. I still needed a new computer, but Deimos shouldn’t have to pay for Eros’s bullshit. I liked Deimos. At least I liked him more than I liked Eros in that moment.

Clio, fortunately, solved the problem for me. With a sigh, she pulled a credit card out of her own pocket and handed it to me. This one had her name on it. “Here. You can use mine.”

This caused Eros to cross his arms in a pout. “That’s a dirty trick, Aren.”

I took the card, pocketing Deimos’s so that Eros couldn’t get to it. “Thank you, Clio. I’ll only buy what I absolutely need, and I’ll see if I can get it gently used.” Again, I liked Clio more than I liked Eros at that moment. And again, she didn’t deserve to pay for his mischief.

“Get whatever you need. I don’t mind.” The bright smile my sister-in-law gave me showed she meant it. Just like she meant it when she repeated to Eros, “Dog house.”

Chuckling at my brother’s well-deserved misfortune, I started heading for the door. “I’ll go return the other credit card to Deimos. I need to see him and Phobos, anyway. Stay out of trouble, Brother.” 

Little did I know how much trouble I would be in the next time I saw Eros.

Adrestia (Kelsey Anne Lovelady)
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