There’s a beat of silence between Dinlas and I after he pulls the trigger. I wait for the feeling of a bullet going through my skull – which, while not fatal, will hurt like a son of a bitch – and I’m surprised when nothing happens. Dinlas pulls back the hammer on his gun, and fires again, both of us holding our breath while we wait for the gun to go off.
When nothing happens again, I whirl around to face my brother, lowering my hands back to my sides. Smirking at the gun, he’s still holding up to my face, raising a brow, I guess, “Uncle Heph’s design?”
Dinlas snarls at me, lowering the weapon, holstering it. Without words, I know my guess is correct. Uncle Heph made the guns for him, which mean they won’t harm family. I mean, can you imagine if all our deadly weapons worked on our family, with how often we enrage each other? There’d be none of us left.
My arrows are one of the few exceptions to that rule, they work on everyone – well, except for three very irksome goddesses.
Just to irritate him, I circle his desk, plopping myself down in his chair, throwing my feet up on his desk, reclining back while I assess him. His wolves snarl at me, their hackles raised, but I ignore them, waiting for Dinlas to speak.
“I didn’t know you were back,” he snaps, pressing his palms to the other side of his desk, leaning towards me. Again, other gods would have been intimidated by the sight he and his wolves made, but you must remember – I’m not like other gods.
“I‘ve just arrived, ” I smirk, slowly trailing my eyes up and down him. Though on the exterior, he looks very much the same as he had two thousand years ago, albeit with a black suit instead of a toga, he’s different. So am I.
“Why are you here?” He gestures to his office, taking a step back from the desk, crossing his arms across his chest in annoyance.
“Oh you know, thought I’d pop in on my brother. It’s been a long time since we’ve chatted.” My easygoing tone covers that the ache in my chest has gotten worse, now that I’m this close to the source. All, except for Zeus, don’t know about the pain their heartaches cause me, and I have every intention of keeping it that way.
“Not long enough,” Dinlas responds, “What do you want?”
Sighing, I remove my feet from his desk, folding my hands on it, my smile dropping. “I know about Cassandra.”
Dinlas blanches a little, likely surprised that I knew about what had occurred, but regains his hostility easily. “You’re too late, Eros. Like always, we didn’t need you. We’ve already found and dealt with those responsible.”
So there’s really nothing I can do for my father currently, except stay. To be here if he needs me, which means I’m going to have to rip off all the bandages which have held me together for the last two millennia.
“Ah. Well, then what about you?”
The question takes him off guard, his arms dropping from his chest in surprise.
“What about me? I’m fine,” he snaps, making me roll my eyes at his lie. For a second, I focus on him, reading his current heart’s desire, and it fills me with sadness to hear.
To have been good enough for her.
“You forget who I am, brother. I know your heart is broken.” It’s an educated guess, one that lands accurately when his breath catches, though I’ve clearly pushed him too far by mentioning it.
He erupts. “You think you get to just stroll back in here, as if no time has passed, and I’m just going to fill you in on all the private details of my life?”
I jump to my feet, a tidal wave of guilt rushing through me, because he’s right. This time I blanch, I shouldn’t be here. But I can’t leave, their heartaches will just keep pulling me back. “You’re right, I’m sorry.”
The apology takes Dinlas by surprise, his mouth opening with shock. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever apologized to him, and hopefully, it will be the last. I’m not a fan of admitting I’m wrong, and I have no desire to repeat this experience again.
Coming around the desk, I pass him on my way out of his office, but I pause for a moment at the doorway, unable to at least try to mend my brother’s broken heart. “You’ve always been good enough, brother. Any woman would be lucky to have you.”
My stomach rolls as I depart Dinlas’ warehouse, still mulling over what his heart had whispered. Who broke my brother’s heart? He should be spared any further pain; he’s already experienced so much. Starting from when he was just a child.
Regret is a metallic taste in my mouth, and – as always – I wish things were different. I wish I spoke up when my mother threw Dinlas from her, condemning him to a life in Tartarus. I wish I had been able to stop my father when he manipulated Dinlas at Lamark. I wish…I wish a lot of things were different.
Now that I’m outside on the street, I know there’s nothing left to do other than find my father and offer something – not that I have any idea what could possibly help – to help him cope with his loss.
My father. In love. I didn’t think it possible. Yes, he loved my mother, in his own way, but to love a mortal. If anyone could understand such a love, it was me. Not going there, focus on Father.
Swallowing my foreboding, I begin the trek towards the operational building of Wares Security, the devastation weighing on my heart pulling me towards my father.
For the first time since returning, I don’t linger in indecision outside the building. This is something I know I have to do. There’s no more running for me, no more hiding.
My breaths are coming in shallow pants, the ache in my chest feels like a sword has been plunged through my chest. Now, this close to the source of my father, his pain is more acute, and I’m only feeling an echo of his pain.
Again, the receptionist tries to stop me as I storm past them. It’s a man this time, and his shouts are much more insistent than the Aphrodite lookalike, with much more colorful phrasing. Again, I ignore him. I’m a god on a mission, and no one will stop me. Mortals should know not to interfere.
Storming down the hall, I follow the pain in my chest, leading directly to my father’s office.
I pause for a moment at the open doorway to his office, taking him in for the first time in two thousand years.
He’s standing at his desk, glaring at the documents laid out in front of him, his hair is shorter than it was the last time I saw him, though it’s a mess. He’s likely run his hand through it numerous times.
This close to him, his heartbreak radiates out from him, forming an almost visible sphere around him.
“Pater,” I whisper, my voice cracking when I speak.
His head snaps up at the old term, and his eyes – for a moment, before he conceals it – hold his pain. I storm across the room to him, even as his mouth drops in surprise, circling his desk as he turns towards me.
“Eros? When did you – “ he begins, breaking off when I pull him into a rough hug, offering what little comfort I can.
He’s clearly stunned for a moment, unsure of what to do. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever hugged him; the god of war was not known for being the most paternal of figures. Still I clutch him in a comforting hug, as if I can physically absorb some of his pain.
After a moment, his body relaxes slightly, as if the facade of normalcy he’d been clinging to leaked from him, allowing himself to display some of his pain. His arms encircle me, clutching me hard, and his body thrums as he resists the need to completely break down. “I’m so sorry, Pater. I’m so sorry,” I whisper.
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