The cheap carpet is a mottled gray inlaid with coffee stains and donut crumbs. The Morrigan wrinkles her nose, toeing the floor with her black heels as if she could magically conjure a better room to hold the Conclave. Once upon a time, she could’ve. She could’ve blinked a sprawling mansion into existence for the Gods to gather in. Unfortunately, those times have passed and they are stuck with this rented conference room.
“This will do, I suppose.” She sighs to herself, glad that the university let her rent out the room in the first place. The Morrigan looks at her watch, waiting for the arrival of the others.
There hasn’t been a Conclave since World War II, when the Morrigan had called them all together to ask if any of them were responsible for it (turns out, mortals really are that bad). She doesn’t know how this Conclave will go, as none of the others know what has happened yet, except for her. The death of one of their own will surely shock them all, and she doesn’t even want to think of how Loki will react. Not only that, but they need to talk about the missing Colossus. They have spent the past five years ignoring it, and now their ignorance has cost the life of Hephaestus.
The Morrigan took one more look around the room, the cheap plastic folding table and the uncomfortable chairs situated around the room in a circle – one for each God that RSVP’d. It’s time they get their act together and end this all once more.
To say that Xōchipilli was concerned about The Conclave was an understatement. He really was worried about it since he avoided thinking about the lost Colossus. It was also an inconvenience for Luka Vélez, who was supposed to be planning out for another busy weekend at Topan. Hell, he had to lie to his workers about going to a sudden appointment. Thankfully, they didn't suspect anything, and he made his way to the university. It was, for some reason, the place that The Morrigan picked out to hold the Conclave. Although he did wonder how she managed to get a conference room for a dozen people.
Xōchipilli made his way to the conference room and saw The Morrigan looking around. He waved and smiled at her, "Hey, there. It's been a while since we last saw each other, Morrigan."
He examined the room and chuckled. "I would ask how Professor Byrne managed to secure this room, but I doubt she's available at this moment. Right?"
"Well, I understand since The Conclave is about to start and we have to be ourselves during it. I will just sit here and wait until the others eventually get here." Xōchipilli took a seat on the uncomfortable plastic chairs and pulled out his phone to keep himself busy. He thought of checking on his siblings but knew for a fact that they were coming—sooner or later—and settled on playing a cheap mobile game instead.
He opens his eyes to the sound of a young man’s laugh. Golden light cascading across sun-kissed skin, an ornate goblet filled to the brim with red wine. They’re alone, him and this man, in a bed of clouds, laughing and drinking in the sight of one another. A lyre plays it’s tune softly, and for a moment, he is at peace, until the young man drapes himself across his bare chest, and whispers in his ear, “Wake up…”
Apollo sat up in bed, breathing heavily. Outside, clouds reigned supreme in the sky, another overcast day in Seattle. He lifted a hand, but before he could snap his fingers, a voice reached his ears. “Finally, you sleep like the dead.” The once great god spun around, half-expecting the voice to belong to the man in his dream. When his eyes fell on a blonde woman, naked save for his bedsheets, he reminded himself that Hyacinth was long dead.
Waking up next to someone beautiful wasn’t uncommon for Apollo. Waking up to multiple beautiful people wasn’t even uncommon anymore. Most mornings, this would be a pleasant surprise, followed by rounds four and five, and homemade breakfast with some fallen gods. On mornings like this, when Hyacinth came to visit him in his dreams, the men and women who found themselves in Apollo’s bed were in for much less fun.
“Sorry, what’s your name again?” he asked, running a hand through his dirty blonde hair and rubbing the sleep from his tired face. That line usually worked, as long as he coupled it with just the right amount of confusion and exasperation. Given that his memory of the night before certainly didn’t include this girl, it was a fairly easy sell.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” The blonde threw the sheets from her body, revealing a sight that made Apollo reconsider his decision. She put on her clothes like a girl who was used to storming out the next morning, silently but with a certain anger that could be felt without words. By the time he had his boxers on, she was grabbing her wallet, and flipping him off. “It’s Brenda, asshole!” The sound of her heels clicking on the floor and the front door slamming told him she was gone.
Apollo sighed, and got out of bed, stepping in front of the mirror for a moment. Even though he’d looked more or less the same for the past two centuries, it still hurt to remember what he’d once looked like. Golden hair had faded to this dishwater color, and his once luminous skin was just like any other mortals. Eyes that had shone like the sun were now deep pools of brown sludge. He was painfully mortal.
Painfully mortal or not, the Conclave was still ahead of them, and his head was pounding. One thing he missed about nectar: no hangovers. His bare feet padded against the cold tile of the apartment he shared with Herc, stepping over clothes that he was certain weren’t either of theirs.
In the kitchen, he set to work with his usual morning routine, doing his best to push through the lethargy that still gripped him tight. “Don’t yack in the blender Pollo, please,” he mumbled to himself as he filled the blender in question with ginger, orange juice, some ice, and three, five hundred milligram pills of Ibuprofen. The blender turned on, an obnoxious noise that could be heard throughout the condo, and while it ran, Apollo set to work preparing breakfast for whoever the hell had spent the night at his house. If the blender didn’t get them up, then the clanging of metal pans surely would. He snapped his fingers, and the sun slowly began peeking out from behind the clouds, until the kitchen was bathed in light pouring through the windows. If he was going to this family reunion, the least it could be is sunny.
“𝒯𝒽𝒶𝓃𝓀 𝓎𝑜𝓊 𝓈𝑜 𝓂𝓊𝒸𝒽, 𝓅𝓁𝑒𝒶𝓈𝑒 𝒸𝑜𝓂𝑒 𝒷𝒶𝒸𝓀 𝓈𝑜𝑜𝓃!” The doors to the shop closed with a gentle ring and the young goddess gave a small relieved sigh before slumping against the counter. The gentle vine of the senecio rowleyanus swept along her cheek as if the breeze through the window willed it to do so.
”I know, I know, being busy is a good thing, there are so many small businesses that open and close in the beginning stages!” Kore caressed the String of Pearls affectionately before spinning around the side of the counter. With the open paths of the flowery committed to her being she gracefully maneuvered between, over and under all of the plants and flowers around towards the door. A little wiggle of her finger over a wilting Sword Lily had the blossoms springing back to action, as vibrant as ever, and this special show continued until the door of en Bloom was locked and the business sign flipped from open to close.
“But ya know, not everyone has the magic touch, Jam.” The musings of the nymph-like woman carried along with her as she ascended the stairs with her phone in hand. A bit sad that none of her friends had reached out to her yet, but perhaps they were busy today just as she had been. So, uncharacteristically busy on a Thursday afternoon, it really made her feel as if she had forgotten about something important planned for the day.
“Well, nothing a nap can’t fix… I wish Hypie was here though..” Kore whined softly to herself as she flopped down onto the cloud-like mattress, snuggling into the soft warmth. Like she said, ‘nothing a nap can’t fix’ and just before she was comfortably snoozing in her bed, she was quickly jumping out of it and stripping from her work clothes, “THE CONCLAVE”
Luckily for Kore Seattle University wasn’t too far off from her home business, though that hadn’t stopped her from leaving a whirlwind of sprouting flowers and twisting vines in her wake as she dashed along the bustling streets. Only when she had stepped foot into the Universities common’s hall did she check the digital invitation, and quickly groaned loud enough to attract the eyes of passing by mortals.
“Of course I’m super duper early, I think I could’ve got in at least a little daisy doze in… oh well… where is the little pistil room at?”
A quick pit stop at the ladies’ restroom to smooth out her wrinkled dress and tame her wildly blown hair only burned off ten of thirty minutes she had at her disposal. But it was long enough to not be the first god arriving. Kore offered a brief wave to her fellow flower deity before turning to look for her name taped to a chair. When she spotted it, the placement brought a furrow to her brows and as inconspicuously as possible she made a quick shift, moving Hera down near her husband and placing her comfortably between Hermes and Hypnos.
“Ah, much better…” Kore took out her phone and pulled up her messages, quickly sending a text to her bestest friend in this life.
To: Poppy Prince I hope you’re awake and on your way, sleepyhead! I saved you a spot… well not really but hurry up! <3
The Canaanite god of death stared at the body laid out before him intensely, his hands rock steady as he cleaned the pallid flesh in order to prepare it for the next step in the embalming process, when the sound of someone entering the room from somewhere off to his right gave him pause.
"I only work here," he said dryly, his gazed still fixed upon the corpse. "If there's a problem then my manager is the one you want to talk to."
He inclines his head toward the door.
"Oh believe me I would," the figure replied, leaning on its cane. "If I weren't already here for you, that is."
Mot turns, setting aside his tools as he does so, eyes narrowing into slits as the realization dawns.
"Ba'al... what do you want?"
"You mean aside from ending this little "family reunion" as soon as deifically possibe?"
He shifts his stance, putting even more weight on the cane he holds, his cocky expression quickly fading into one of reluctant defeat.
"The others have called a Conclave. One I presume to be about the Colossus, or lack thereof," he says, gesturing absentmindedly to their environs. "Figured I'd let you know while I was in the neighborhood, since you seem utterly incapable of checking your goddamn post office box."
Mot lets out a small grumble, but otherwise ignores the remark, electing to put away his "work" for the time being instead. It took a good minute or so, but eventually the body was put on ice and his instruments neatly packed away in one of the many backrooms.
"So," Mot began as he strode back out into the preparation area. "Where's the meeting being held this time?"
"That old university," Ba'al replied. "Same one you used to drive by when you lived on that side of town."
Mot nods as he slides on his coat and gloves, both designed to keep him warm against the ever cooling draft that had started settling in the region as it slowly ground its way out of fall and into winter.
"Alright, I'll follow you there. If only so I can narrow down the location of the Colossus itself."
Mot trudged on ahead and out the door, leaving Ba'al to watch him as he went.
"Looks like you're as focused on that as ever..."
Sighing, the lord of rain shook his head before hobbling off after him. ........................................................................................................................................................................ The drive to the location of the Conclave had been an uneventful one, albeit one that was blanketed by an almost palpable silence. Still, the pair had pulled into the university parking lot in due time, and with very little in-fighting to boot. Disembarking from their respective vehicles, the pair made their way into the building and towards the chamber of the meeting itself. Making their way into the rather uninteresting looking room, the deities took seats opposite each other, making the area all the colder because of it.
"Well," Mot said, letting his gaze wander around the room before settling on Morrigan. "You've got us here. Mind telling us what all of this is about?"
The barista looked around, drink in hand. "I have a venti chai latte with three shots of blossoming rose syrup for..." The tell-tale pause was always there, although it was getting better in recent years. "Shiv...Shivvvannie?" It was close enough.
The young-looking Indian woman rose from her seat and headed towards the counter. She had heard enough different pronunciations of her most recent name that she could usually figure out which drink was meant for her. "You almost got it! It's Shivani. Not like the orphan. But next time!" She cheerfully picked up her beverage, gave a nod and headed out towards the door.
Starbucks was ubiquitous in Seattle, and there were plenty of locations near the university. It wasn't hard to find one. Plus Parvati could use a little taste of home. Even if the blossoming rose syrup couldn't hold a candle to the hibiscus syrup that Hecate... Tessa. Got to remember she's going by Tessa here. that Tess was holding like nectar over her head. No other place had it. Not that it made any sense for any other place to have it. Tessa just knew what Shivani liked.
What Parvati didn't like was conclaves. Conclaves were never good. Not that being bound to a specific geographic area without any of her powers was great to begin with. However, conclaves were always worse. It usually meant someone was dead. Like dead, dead.
It was one of those conclaves in the Byzantine capital that resulted in her being somehow widowed at the age of infinity plus 25. There were bad moments in her lifetime, but at least most time they were confined to fights with Shiva. But those weren't happening anymore. Parvati didn't know if they would ever happen again. But at least if they did, they would be on her terms now. She was a new goddess now. Not one of those fake ones that try to hawk fake healing gems. Humans could be so clueless sometimes. It made sense how Artem... Selena built her compounds so quickly.
She did need a month or two at Moon River in the summer though. It kept her from going all... Kali. Which is what these conclaves also reminded her of. It took the Ottoman Empire seizing Constantinople for two months to get her out of her prison so she could get the righteous vengeance out of her system. And it was goooooood righteous vengeance. But it didn't bring Shiva back. It took her another 500 years to really get over that.
Still hated conclaves though. But as the only member of the Hindu community invited to this shindig, it wasn't as if she could bail. Their interests still needed to be met. Even if Lakshmi was busy with her law practice and couldn't make these at the moment. So she had to hop on her electric bike, come all the way to the university and hear another reminder that their situation was growing more pointless by the century. At least from a pantheon standpoint. Being a teacher/radio DJ had its perks. Even if people couldn't remember how her name was supposed to be pronounced.
Shivani was one of the early arrivals. She did take her duties seriously, when she had to do them. Other deities were here, even if the names and faces were slightly different every time. Kore has even been on the show a couple times to help the students learn how to do live production on acoustic sets. Plus the remixes were starting to get a bit of traction. She would have to ask her to come back on for another set. At least she could offer better accommodations than the ones here. There was way too much plastic for her liking. Still, at least she had her latte. She gave a wave to the rest of the gods and took her spot at one of the tables. Hopefully, this would be quick. I wouldn't mind getting back home to tidy up the place a little bit.
"Mama told us not to go past the poppy field," Hypnos sat in the flowers with a pout on his lips, "Than!" A young black haired boy ran despite the calls. The poppy's swayed like a ripple, parting between the earnest footfalls. He climbed the hill that signaled the edge of their little sanctuary until the horizon swallowed his tiny frame.
Hypnos kept his arms folded, lips pouched out even when his eyebrow pinched in worry. The endless twilight engulfed their realm. Its soft light refused to reach as far as the lip of the twin's cave. Beneath her twilight shroud, a field of flowers sprawled from one end of the valley to the other. Little fingers of poppies grazed the child's pale skin while he moped.
A scream erupted from the edge of the fields and Hypnos shot up to his feat.
But it fell into a sporadic giggles until he saw a woman rise above the valley's hill with a squirming boy in her arms. Her smile melted the worry and warmed the cold of his little valley. She carried the twilight on her shoulders and swept them up with the dusk.
That erupting giggle carried into from Hypnos' dream. The poppies faded away to inky void. He welcomed it and the warmth that wrapped around him. "Mmmm," Hypnos hummed, husk dripping from his wakened voice. There laid pleasure in always remembering his dreams, one that he let flow into his fingertips and onto the smooth, slippery keys of his piano.
Time didn't allow him that opportunity this time, even with the dusk itched to free itself. Persephone—Kore texted mere minutes ago.
To: Poppy Prince I hope you’re awake and on your way, sleepyhead! I saved you a spot… well not really but hurry up! <3
If anyone could immediately make his mornings — well, whenever he woke up — that much better it was Kore. Maybe he'd stop by 𝓮𝓷 𝓑𝓵𝓸𝓸𝓶 with her after the Conclave. Ooh, Conclaves. A pout threatened to bloom from his lips, but Hypnos focused on replying.
To: Bringer of Dhalias just woke up. gonna be there in... gonna be there. >.> xoxo p.s. im bringing my piano wanna play at ur shop after uwu
With that sent, Hypnos slunk out of bed to immediately stub his toe on his nightstand. He let out a grunt, letting the pain simmer in for a second before using his phone to turn up the lights to a low, orange dim. Hypnos looked down at his phone's clock, lower lip jutting out slightly.
Was there time for a shower?
Hypnos hummed, sighed, and took a quick one. Late but fresh, just how he preferred it.
♫ I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine. I got a love, and I know that's all mine... ♪ Hypnos sung under his breath, melting into quiet hums as he made it up the university stairs. His hair flopped curly over his eyebrows, just above his hooded eyes and ever lazy smile. The people past him yawned as he hummed, adjusting the strap of his keyboard bag over his shoulder.
It didn't take him long to come upon the meeting room. It was small, but Hypnos appreciated tiny spaces more than most. He was the opposite of claustrophobic, but that might be due to his innate desire to be smothered in comfy blankets and pillows while he slept.
Upon entering, Hypnos made a straight line toward Kore, sitting next to her without so much as gazing at the others. There was a tension on one side of the room that he didn't quite appreciate and thus he kept his eyes on his partner in crime.
Setting his keyboard against his chair, Hypnos gave Kore a bright smile before laying his head and slouching completely over the table. He looked up at his friend, "Heya Kore-nation. Wanna take a quick nap before the rest of the crew shows up?" He held his arm up in invitation while he yawned his question.
"Oh!" Hypnos said as tapped away at his phone before holding it up to show her a picture of his little poppy patch on his windowsill, "They bloomed today!" He gave another yawn and let his lips curve into a drowsy grin.
Passed out in a dumpster with one leg sticking out of it. Most nights Shango usually got drunk off his ass and passed out, and most days Shango spent it sleeping it off. Sometimes he ran out of alcohol and spent his days playing the drums for money. Of course, he always used it to buy alcohol and whatever he didn't spend he gave to charity. They always found it strange that a homeless man like Shango donated so much of his wealth to others. Heh, they should make an article about it.
Normally, he sleeps in the nearest dumpster but he always finds himself drawn to the Little Marjoram and its delightful dumpster. Even if Shango would rate the dumpster a 1/10, he'll take it over any other dumpster. Why you ask? Mostly because it pisses off Imentet or "Charlotte Buyer" as she calls herself. Usually, she would have run him out by now but she was probably busy.
However, he quickly became cognizant as he heard a bird flying up and he almost instinctively woke up. Because he was tired of flying rats shittin' on him while he was asleep. The mortals were going to start catching onto all the pigeons being zapped with lightning. His eyes shot open and the first thing he saw as a freaking crow with a rolled note in its mouth. It dropped its package on his face and Shango instinctively closed his eyes as he growled. It flew off as Shango took the note off his face and he sat up and unrolled the note.
"I swear if this the work of that bastard Odin..." Shango hissed to himself as he looked at it before his eyes opened. "... Oh, here we go again."
A man wearing tattered clothes and quite honestly smelling bad walking into Seattle University like he owns the place is a sight. Shango stepped in with his hands in his pockets, wearing jeans, a white tank-top, sunglasses, tattered old Timberlands, and boots. He had a toothpick in between his teeth as he walked into the place where the Conclave was going to be. Which he was super excited... in case you didn't realize, he was not excited for it at all. Because the last Conclave was pretty stupid in his opinion and he was tempted to not even show up to this one. Only reason he showed up was the hope that they'll discuss something useful.
He pushed the doors open and quickly put his hands back in his pockets as he saw that a few Gods had already arrived. Fortunately, not one of the Greek Gods because Shango definitely didn't have a high opinion of them. It was apparent that The Morrigan was the one that called this Conclave... or someone else did and she just decided to rent out the place.
What an upstanding individual.
Shango put his foot upon one of the chairs and looked at her as he decided to cut to the chase. "What's the point of this Conclave, eh?" He started, "And please tell me it's not going to be like the last time when you tried to blame one of us for World War Two... I think you forgot we're trapped here in America 'til further notice."
Ares barely comprehended the voice as he groaned. His mind was muddled, but his body registered the softness underneath. It was good. Safe. Nice. Nothing hurt. He hadn’t fought yesterday. That was good. It meant he was at his peak. Everything was good. Everything was sweet. His mind drifted away again. Content to embrace the comfort for a little longer. Just a little longer.
Then he felt something different. Suddenly the comfort, the sweetness, it paled completely compared with the soft lips pressed on his. He didn’t open his eyes as he reached out. Stroking who he knew was Julie’s cheeks as they kissed. He drew it out as long as he could, though eventually, she pulled back. Causing him to open his eyes. In front of him was a big cup of coffee, with wisps of steam flowing out of it. Held up by Julie wearing nothing but his white chemise, which looked far too big on her, and a big smile. “You have to wake up.” She said softly.
Ares groaned again, took the cup, put it on his nightstand and then grabbed Julie and pulled her on top of him. She yelped and laughed as he embraced her and started kissing her. She playfully tried to fight him off but stopped as Ares began to kiss down her neck. For a second she let him, before pulling away again. “You have to get up.” She repeated. Letting his head fall back, he released her. “You’ve got that big meeting in an hour, remember?”
How could he forget? He downed the coffee as if it was cold and went to the bathroom. Every morning in the mirror he could see the countless scars on his body. The long gashes on his back were the biggest ones. Though never the most painful ones. The most painful ones were on his wrists. Small cuts. Smaller than an inch. Julie had touched them all, though never asked about them. Someday he would talk about them to her. In honesty, there was a laundry list of things he would have to talk about. Today was not that day though. He shoved the thoughts away again as he started to get ready for the Conclave.
Half an hour later he was downstairs. Julie was in the kitchen, preparing fresh juice while dancing to some song on the radio. The second he stepped inside the kitchen she turned to offer him a glass of orange juice and a kiss. “Be good.” She said with a vixen’s smile before going upstairs. “I love you!” He shouted up the stairs. “And I love you! Now go, you’re going to be late for whatever it is you’ll be late for!” She shouted and as always she was right. Ares downed the orange juice and jumped into his car.
There were many ways to experience rage in this world. But only in the last hundred years did humanity seem to have it down to an art. Road rage was something Ares experienced from time to time but not today. Today his BMW ripped through the streets of Seattle with ease and some recklessness. Something didn’t fit right though. Why was a conclave called now? Ares hated not knowing. It had to be something big. He parked quite violently at the University’s parking lot. Not knowing and frankly not caring whether it was a spot for teachers or students or other people. Why did he have to go here of all places? Why didn’t The Morrigan just ask? Ares could’ve set up a grand conference room in some hotel with catering and whatnot. Instead, they’d have to sit in some stuffy room otherwise used by self-important tenured professors that pretended they mattered in society. Universities were places for his sister. For the so-called thinking people. He carried that disdain on his face as he marched through the halls. Through the windows, he saw the sun suddenly breaking through the clouds. What idiot chose to make today sunny?
Ares entered the room in perhaps a slightly theatrical manner. Opening the doors perhaps a little too forceful. The room was less than half empty. How could so many gods be so late still? Some of the gods present he knew, like Kore and Hypnos. But none were here yet that he talked to. So he just took his seat, happy with the fact that he’d be seated next to Apollo and pulled out a cigarette. Before anyone could possibly say anything, he lit it up, blowing out the first bored puff of smoke.
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• The distant sounds of clangs and scrapes were loud enough to pull her from the grips of death, struggling as she might. Glancing over the mound of bodies she found sprawled around her, all of which were scantily clad - if at all - she couldn't resist the sluggish smirk that graced her features. Once she found what she was looking for she tapped the screen, with too much force than necessary, and took in the time displayed there. 'Three hours is better than none...' she sighed aloud taking a second longer than needed to stare deeply at the phone's wallpaper. A selfie, of course, of the entire squad taken a few weekends ago when there was a rare moment of pure sunshine dancing through the skies of Seattle. It was a spur of the moment, pool party and they sure made the most out of it. Half lidded eyes scanned the faces of her best friends, stroking the screen lightly on each of them before an exceptionally loud clatter broke her from her reverie.
A low growl escaped her as Comus pushed herself out from under tangled limbs, spotting the ever easily identified bodies of some of the squad, she ignored them and their whines to 'come back to bed'. Rolling her eyes she scanned the floor for a shirt, easily tossing it over her frame and bending down to take a drag from last nights cigarette that had been smoldering in its tray before making her way towards the kitchen. As she rounded the corner, bare feet padding along the cold floors, she caught sight of herself in the hall mirror; makeup smeared and glitter adorning her face. 'Funny, I don't remember wearing glitter last night.' she muses to herself, a knowing glint to her honeyed eyes. A shrug here and she was back to her task at hand. Ripping into Apollo for his noise level.
"I fucking swear on us all 'Poll, cut the shit with all the noise! Oh, is that bacon!?" All forms of anger were immediately quenched the second she smelled the fat cooking atop the stove, the sizzle like a song played specifically for her. Which, wasn't entirely incorrect. She was the first one up and in the kitchen with their residential chef. Before he could swat at her hand, like he was prone to do anytime she was hanging around him while he cooked, she snatched up a piece of salt cured pork and plopped it into her mouth a soft moan escaping as she munched down on it.
Mouthful of the delicious breakfast treat couldn't stop the bad decisions that was soon flowing from her lips when she began her conversation with a, "Sooooo... how was your evening with what's her face?" A slight glare was being thrown her way but before she could gain a response her phone's notification went off, the cawing of a crow - how fitting - startling her from her wicked grinning. She wiped the slight grease texture onto so and so's shirt she was currently wearing and checked the home screen, rolling her eyes once more in the process. Lips puckered into a pout, she scrolled along the reminder, hoping that if she pretended to intake anymore than "CONCLAVE SHIT SHOW TODAY" she would get into a better, more appropriate mood. No such luck.
Instead, Coco stood up from her spot from the bar top and shimmied around the Sun God's frame, "Ya know, 'Pol. I woulda been just fine with some stale popcorn and down a little something something before taking off," she gestured with her gaze to the plethora of empty bottles littering the countertops and overfilling the sink. Some plastic solo cups filled with an amalgamation of gods know what. Her dancing fingers moving, to their own beat, across the backside of his shoulders before sneaking in with her other hand to snatch up a few more pieces of bacon, "buuuuut, I appreciate this a whole lot more! Just remember, it's because of you, Sunshine, that I don't go hungry!" Coco was able to skirt out of his long reach before dipping back into one of the side rooms where she kept some of her items for days like this.
After stepping over the passed out moochers that crashed at the Acropolis - those that didn't belong within the sacred confines of the squad - and shedding her borrowed clothes, she dressed in slow, lackadaisical motions. It's not like she wants to be at that stupid meeting anyways... 'Fuckin' Conclave... wonder if they'll even notice if I ditch this go 'round?' She mused to herself as she waltzed back out the room to the bathroom, making sure to step over the passed out bodies in the hallway.
Upon throwing the door open her gaze first dragged across the naked body of one muscle - headed Heracles, planking precariously atop the toilet bowl. Junk clearly sitting in what she hoped to be clean water, while the top half of his body lay slouched on the cool tiled floor. How he was ever able to sleep in such positions astounded her. But, she hadn't the time to dwell on the logistics of it all and proceeded to kick his legs in an attempt to rouse him from his own slumber. "Ay, yo, Herc. Geddup." Comus was successful in getting him to stir, however he was as stubborn as she was, especially when it came to short sleep schedules after an all-nighter. Ignoring him she finished what she initially came into the washroom to do, touching up her makeup, tussling her tawny locks and when it was all said and done, and Herc had still refused to wake she slapped him on the ass with as much force as she could.
"Oi! Rise and shine beef-cake. Your Lion is gonna shrivel if you leave it soakin' for too long~," she was out the door a laugh on her lips.
Plumes of smoke billowed into the air, ash and embers drifting on the breeze as day turned into night. Ruin, destruction, and mayhem spreading like frenzied chaos causing terror in its wake as people ran in hopes to escape. No one was safe, hiding would mean the end and running didn’t necessarily increase the chances of life if that decision was made. The streets ran red, the fallen scattered about the ground, buildings toppled over to rumble, and the screams of the living echoed in the distance.
Pain and suffering were found in every corner of the unfortunate city. The actions of a few now falling onto the innocent, punished for sins and crimes they did not commit. It wasn’t meant to be this way. This has not been the plan. No one would have suspected the events that had taken place would unfold into such a tragedy. No others were meant to be harmed, only those that had justly deserved what had befallen them at that time but it mattered not now.
The coppery metallic taste in her mouth was better than the sweetest of wines and made her crave more with each taste. The scattering at just the sight of her was just amusing and the need to chase thrilling. The sounds of screams were a symphony in her ear but it wasn’t enough. The rage she felt was a rush of poison flowing into her veins giving her a dose of pain that resided by the pleasure, tainting and dulling it. She wanted them all to suffer. They deserved it. They had connived, deciding to threaten one who was precious to her. It had been so extreme that he had come to her for assistance. They had shown no remorse for their vows to harm. Why should she?
She tossed the unwanted part aside, this plaything no longer fun. It was time to move on to another. She felt like she was in a haze, gliding as she moved in what was like an unseeing fog. She reveled in the destruction she had laid upon this city, her blood thirsty nature brought out when placing justice but that nagging in the back her mind kept clawing at her. What was wrong? She was doing as she was supposed to, right? Why didn’t she feel happy like she should? Why did she still feel the undeniable urge to maim everything in her path? She wanted to scream her anger at the world! What was holding her back? A noise caught her attention, a young mother meeting her gaze with fear in her eyes. Her heart hurt….why did she look like that? No woman should look like that….no mother should fear in such a way…...the cry rang in her ears felt painful, echoing endlessly.
”Hathor, what have you done?”
The haze she had been under faded, the sounds of a silky rich voice making its way to her ears. She took in the sight of all she had done. Guilty, agony, terror, and shame boiling in her, shaky hands covering her mouth as she felt like she might hurl.
”I didn’t ask for this. They were innocent. Can you live with yourself? With their blood and souls on your hands?”
”I didn’t mean to! I-I would never...this is a mistake.she whimpered, tears springing into her eyes as she gripped her head.
”It’s all your fault. You did this. How can you live with yourself?
”Please stop...I’m sorry! Forgive me!
”Oh Hathor, it’s not me that you should be begging for forgiveness from….it’s them…”
Her eyes widened, turning to view the sea of people looking at her with sadness and some in anger, the look of betrayal etched on all their faces. Some asked for a reason, others screamed at her, the blame and consequences set on her shoulders weighing her down. Hands grabbed at her, souls of her victims dragging her down, and swarming her. The voices and cries echoing and all too much, an overwhelming sensation that left her feeling strangled and without voice. She could barely see, the world around her getting further from her reach as darkness set in, the light of the sun abandoning her, and the voices never stopping their torture.
”Please stop...Stop it...leave me alone...I SAID…”
•• ━━━━━ ••●•• ━━━━━ ••
”STOP!!”, she cried out in a panic while jolting up from her bed, tears streaming down her cheeks and shaking like a leaf. Her body felt covered in sweat, her baggy nightshirt clinging to her body and her hair trying to stick to her damp cheeks. Her hand automatically reached out to the space next to her, finding it empty and loneliness creeping up on her as she placed her head in her hands. She curled up in a ball and took deep breaths, trying to get control of herself. It was in the past, she wasn’t always like that. She wouldn’t become like that again. It was a mistake. Hathor’s train of thought was snagged from her, her phone chiming with an alarm and she slowly moved out of her protective ball to grab it. Why the hell had she set a damn alarm after a late night? The title of the alarm said it all though and made a frown etch on her features. Of course, just her luck that today was the Conclave when she had little to no sleep and a nightmare to boot.
Hathor sighed, scrubbing her hands through her untamed mass of curls before resting them on the back of her neck. Nothing good ever came from wallowing on what was. She should just focus on the now, one step at a time and right now, the first step was a shower then coffee or maybe something stronger. She threw off the covers, leaving the bed a mass of tangled sheets and scattered pillows which would be future Hathor’s problem and headed for a well deserved shower, chucking off her clothes as she went. After the much needed shower, she was at least feeling like somewhat of a human being which wasn’t close to any way she wanted to feel being a goddess but better than the wreck she felt like earlier. She yanked off the towel from her body, using it to dry her hair a bit as she moved to the kitchen, working on grabbing the coffee grounds from the pantry and getting a thermos for the road. She would need as much time as possible to get ready so this would have to be a pour, grab, and go.
The sound of brewing coffee was like the songs of….well she wasn’t sure...something majestic. Fuck it was too early for this shit. She got to work on her hair, fussing with it until ultimately deciding she didn’t have time to mess with it and blow drying instead so it could stay in its mass of chocolate curls. Hathor sauntered out of the bathroom and back into her bedroom, determined to find the perfect outfit to make her feel irresistible and confident, neither of which she felt emotionally at the moment. She looked through the closet, feeling completely uninspired for the first twenty minutes until she stumbled upon the perfect outfit and it would go perfect with her new high heeled boots. The day might be brightening after all!
She dressed swiftly, taking a moment to admire her work in the mirror before adding the last minute details such as earrings and makeup. Hathor grabbed her purse, keys, and thermos full of that sugary death trap that had once been only coffee before going out the door. There was only one good thing about this time of day in her opinion and that was less traffic. She hated being stuck in the car for too long, music only being able to distract from the rage inducing thing that was high volume traffic for so long. Honestly, music was a lifesaver at times. It didn’t take long for her to get to the university, GPS being her best friend today though she was probably going to arrive later than some of the group. Not that she necessarily cared if they were upset by that fact. She just didn’t have it in her today. As it was, she was pretty sure nothing good would come of this meeting as it never had before. It was usually death, war, or destruction that brought them in and those were subjects that made her sensitive at the moment. Her heart always went out to the fallen and probably would even more so today. She felt sensitive.
Hathor wandered around the campus, trying to find where the conference even was and then spent more time wondering that building to find the exact one The Morrigan had set it for. There were quite a few already there, the seats looking cheap and probably uncomfortable but it wasn’t like she planned to be there long and would live. She took her set, crossing her legs as she pulled out her phone and kept herself busy with games. She normally would have been friendly, trying to rope people into a conversation or checking in with how they were doing but it wasn’t what she felt like doing. She already wanted to just stay in bed and be alone. Instead, she was getting a large group of people and not of them sunshine or rainbows. Fabulous, just her luck….
Last night at the self-described Epicenter of Awesomeness (AKA Acropolis) the carnage left behind of yet another party by the self-described “Bro Squad™”. Their parties, at least among those who were either in college, about to go to college, or just loved a good time, knew of the wild shindigs that often got out of control - especially when it came to the sheer madness Dionysus brought to every single one and the trio of Heracles, Apollo, and Hermes, who all just liked to do dumb shit that they probably should ease up. But yolo, right!?
Either way, all of the fun climaxed just a few hours before sunrise when the fun zone transitioned into “I’m just going to sleep here”. While some made it to a bed or found a spot on a couch and others just kind of found a nice, comfortable spot on the cushioned floor, there were...others who didn’t make it that far. Yes, some were splayed out outside, bodies hanging from the balcony, and then you had Hermes and Heracles…
Every bone from the waist down all cracked and popped when his feet lost their position on the window seal and his stiff back sounding off, but more importantly, Heracles, the Hero of Athens, grunted in a very non-heroic way that was reminiscent of a screaming girl who just lost her balloon to Zeus’s wind.
“Jesus, Coco,” Heracles angrily said, slowly getting up, only now coming to the realization that one of his most prized possessions had a multi-hour stay in some not-so-clean toilet water. The unhealthy shade of dark green inside the bowl gave him some not so kid-friendly thoughts as to what might have happened in the few hours Herc was down and out. “Yeah, probably not a good idea to think about it..”
As he rolled off the toilet, even the sound of his lion getting out of the bowl made him want to puke, but then he saw Coco and all was well in the world, not even a shriveled up cat could bring him down -- or at least her backside as her heels clacked away out of the washroom.
Heracles lay on the cold tile floor for a few moments, thinking about a time when his body didn’t ache so goddamn much. And he couldn’t help but go to before the Colossus was a factor, when it hadn’t threatened their very existence by stripping every pantheon of their power. Heracles couldn’t stop himself but wonder if there was ever going to be a day that he could return to Mount Olympus.
And then he remembered how miserable it was taking orders from Zeus and his inner-circle. Suddenly, having aching bones didn’t seem so bad, not if he had the freedom to do whatever the fuck it was he wanted to.
“Hey, Hermes!” He called out, still splayed on the cold floor, “you still alive over there?” His neck arched a few inches to see what looked like his friend’s small feet hanging off the edge of the tub. “C’mon, don’t play with me! Don’t make me give you my best party boy impression.” On second thought, maybe Hermes would like that.
MOON RIVER RETREAT → CASA DE ACROPOLIS → SEATTLE UNIVERSITY
GODDESS OF THE MOON
At Moon River, everyone rose with the sun, and Artemis had never exempted herself from this rule. Today, like most days, as the dim, golden haze of a Seattle sunrise creeped over the horizon, Artemis was exiting the large, two-story, bracket shaped compound that housed her and her followers. The Main House, as it was officially known, also provided a workspace to make the crafts and charms that served as one of many sources of income. It was a humble building, mostly made of wood and glass. Through the large, floor to ceiling windows, she could just barely see her Maidens, draped in flowing white gowns passing by.
The Maidens were the lifeforce of Moon River, the followers that Artemis had deemed trustworthy and useful enough to stay at Moon River year round. They kept the retreat afloat with their work, and a lucky few were even made personal assistants to Artemis. Those girls knew the truth of her identity, and had been sworn to keep it a secret. Those who didn’t, learned a great deal about why Artemis had been so feared, once upon a time.
To the right of the compound, two identical, circular buildings stood, similar in design to the main building, though the windows were smaller and less numerous. These were where the guests stayed, cozied up in bunks. Away from modern material needs, they spent two weeks here learning to reconnect with nature, and themselves. At least, that’s what Selena O’Ryan told them. In truth, Artemis had come to believe that most mortals weren’t cut out for that way of life, and nothing she could do would solve the problems they were facing.
That didn’t stop her from taking their money though, and doing what she could. Mortals were foolish, fickle creatures, often hell bent on self sabotage, but she’d also seen the compassion they were capable of. They were flawed, but they were getting better, slowly, but surely. She watched as Thalia, one of her Maidens, gathered the women who’d come to stay, and led them towards the river, and out of sight.
Across from the guest quarters, to the left of the Main House was a large greenhouse. Here, the staff that remained year round as well as the guests, grew and harvested the food that kept Moon River fed. Another greenhouse could be spied, if you knew just where to look, off through the trees. There, cannabis was being harvested and packaged, to be sent to dispensaries in the city. Once, her people had used the plant for medicine, and it seemed that the mortals were finally coming around to it’s uses again. That particular greenhouse had been kept under much harsher security, since Apollo had spirited away with more than enough to keep one of his dumb parties soaring.
Artemis took a deep breath, smiling softly as the early morning air filled her with a pleasant sense of energy. Out here, in the forests, she was home. The cities that men had built were loathsome to her. She would be in the thick of Seattle today, for the Conclave, a sickening thought. She might need to make a stop at Tessie’s afterwards.
The Conclave was not her priority right now, however. She had her Maidens to check in on, guests to speak with, a life to lead, and hopefully later, a little bird to check in with. Selena O’Ryan began her day, unbothered by the cold air that pricked her skin.
Many hours later, Artemis sat in the back of a white Lexus, her face hidden behind tinted windows. She’d exchanged the simple, white drapings of Moon River for an outfit more fitting for the Conclave. In her hands was a worn copy of The Awakening by Kate Chopin. In the front seat, one of the Moon River girls sat behind the wheel, dressed in a suit befitting Artemis’ personal driver. Artemis closed the book as the back driver side door opened, and a slender, blonde woman folded herself into the car. Her face was smudged with makeup, and her hair tousled, as if she’d just been in bed. Zoe Holliday.
Zoe was a Maiden, a girl from Seattle that had started up with Moon River shortly after it opened. In her time as a lower level staff member, she’d proven herself resourceful, self-reliant, and above all else, devoted. Once she was brought into the fold, she quickly made herself an invaluable asset for Artemis’ off-site jobs.
“Tell me, I didn’t just waste my time,” Artemis said, slowly and methodically opening a leather purse that rested at her feet, and stowing her book inside.
“I came late, like you said to, and wore that flower you gave me. Worked like a charm. He came over, asked me to dance, and when things started winding down, I asked him to show me his room, and he did, and then after, we had a few more drinks, I asked him why he looked so familiar-”
Artemis rolled her eyes and cut in. “Zoe, you’ll write a full report for me once you’re back at Moon River. Right now, I’m going to the Conclave, and I’d like to know something about what I’m walking into,” she said, her voice terse.
“If you’d let me finish, you’d know that he knows nothing. Just like I told you he would. Thalia did this same thing last year when you thought he might’ve found the Colossus, but his ‘big discovery’ was just a stash of drugs that he’d lost. Your brother is an idiot, and if anyone knows something, it’s certainly not him.” Zoe’s tone matched Artemis’ in coolness.
Artemis sat silently for a moment. Zoe was right of course, and she’d voiced these same opinions last night, though more politely. It was Artemis who hadn’t listened, and that was the only reason why she wasn’t making plans to bury another body in the forest. Finally, she nodded. “As always Zoe, your work is appreciated, even if your tone isn’t. I guess I’ll just have to find out with everyone else.” She sighed, but did not let the annoyance with her failure overwhelm her precious calm. Her plan had been a long shot anyways. She tapped the back of her driver’s shoulder, and the Lexus began pulling away.
As her car pulled up to a curb at the edge of Seattle University’s campus, Artemis met her driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror. “Take her home, and then see what you can do there. I’ll call you if I need anything,” she instructed, before stepping out of the car, leaving Zoe to catch up on lost sleep in the backseat.
As she walked across campus, many students turned their heads, and a brave few stopped her for pictures. Artemis was annoyed by the interruption, already perturbed by the hustle and bustle of the city, but Selena O’Ryan could not afford to be annoyed. Her brand was built on her image as a kind, motherly soul. She smiled, and took the pictures.
After escaping the clutches of another fan, Artemis entered one of the main university buildings, and found their meeting place. A dingy conference room. Nice.
She eyed the current faces in the room. She gave a wave to Kore and Hypnos, but upon seeing that she was seated next to Ares, again, she quickly turned to Parvati, and headed to her table. The Morrigan really needed to stop making seating charts if she was gonna keep inviting the Greeks. Taking a seat she gave her friend a smile. “You’d think she’d have figured out by now that I don’t sit next to Ares.”
She remembers the former Conclave as if it were yesterday --
The invasions and declarations of war, the summoning of sons, husbands, and brothers; weeping dames that clutched madly onto others, lost within throes of anguish and loss, but above all, fear. Bastet had held many a council to those bereft of community and courage, the war stole many of those waiting and wanting, and she felt their sorrow and looked after their bastard children left fatherless. She muttered prayers; soothing intonations befitting to her maternal figure, wreathed in the kindness her profession and divinity supplied despite all mortal limitations to her god-hood.
The air tasted of death and even when the sky bloomed to afternoon gold, there remained a lingering wash of ash that pricked upon her felidae intuition, left her caramel skin pebbled and rippling with a premonition of what awaited her at the assembly. He's most likely to be there, a wayward thought supplied, bringing her heart to a flush that rose to her cheeks where a sweater draped gesture rose, cupped against chilled skin and here she breathed soft and slow. Her breath plumed upon the pane of glass casting her reflection back onto her, hazed out by city smog and tainted edges bruised in the smoke. Bastet's apartment was the third floor of a six story complex with an open concept, her wares of perfumes, ointments, balms and paraphernalia of antiques she's collected over the years haphazardly arranged. They're preserved for both beauty and quality, their aesthetics ones of home and a time lost; cats and hawks, serpents and crocodiles, cows and even jackals stationed prettily about her abode. If there's such a canine curiously near her bed, she pays it no mind and instead drapes a throw across pointed ears and a golden wreathed neck more often than not.
She's stalling for time, she realizes, prying herself away from one of many windows overlooking the bustling roads already populated by earlier risers. Bastet often rose betwixt morning and noon, rarely compelled to rest any longer unless accompanied to bed by another, such creatures of flesh they were, and she was no different. Other times her companions woke her, mewling eagerly among her heels and twining tails around her calves, their yowls often ripe and rich with secrets of night and day. Their eyes were her own and their exotic faces glancing onward from shadow her representatives to both Gods and mortals. Each held a pharaoh's name, the three of them; Khufu, Hatshepsut, and Cleopatra -- each also of an exotic breed. Bastet counts them as her beloved servants and familiars and soothes their eager mewls to please with generous affections and sends them away to do her will. She thought of bringing one with her to the Conclave, but she also doubts any of them would appreciate such felines invading their personal barriers and prying into their sometimes secretive natures.
Another time, she promises silently and is answered with barely perceptible nods.
Whilst she dresses, her mind wonders. Death soured the dawn, but the day remained, and with it the eternal inquiry of the Colossus' location permeates her musings. Bastet lingered as a mysterious facet to the collections of Gods', her motivations often a hidden intent and her desires cloaked under melancholy and gentle claims. Only her sister, perhaps, knows of her inner workings, and maybe him, but what does he know other than his own faults and vices. Her mind briskly evades his likeness and instead she ponders upon the others of her pantheon. She hasn't seen them for quite sometime, occupied by her clients and visiting their homes or inviting them indoors on her own hospitality. The tea house is but a distant memory now...
Bastet dresses efficiently, her cosmetics are kohl-lined eyes smudged and spiked lashes, and dabs a delicate perfume upon her nape and wrists. It's something concocted to remind her of home and reminds herself to fulfill her order for The Jade Jaguar. Less the owner come calling upon her again. The woman was a stickler for detail, never quite pleased, beautiful as she is impatient and deadly as many women of these vices are. Bastet procures her mobile not long after, and checks upon her messages briefly to ping one to her sister before exiting her apartment on the sounds of her heels muffled against plush carpeting: "on my way, see you soon. xo".
She's not quite late, but neither is she early. Already some have arrived and have occupied themselves, so she thinks their names to herself, counting each and adjusts her long coat and tumbling locks of braids and twisted ends before she finds Hathor already seated. An air of disturbance toils about her, it's ripe and striking, just as she is visually donned in white with splashes of color. Bastet is careful in her approach, languid and unhurried before she elegantly folds herself to be seated next to her, one leg crossed over the other. The room harbors a rather musty odor to which she is thankful for the waft of perfume that greets her nasal with every move she makes, however nothing could be done for the lingering bits of food or mottled carpeting, such as they are. Though, another glance of the conference room produces the thought of if it's just the setting. Lovely...
Bastet sweeps her gaze low before she speaks, plunging her glasses down upon the slope of her nose gracefully before tucking them up high on her crown among the chaos of her tresses. She poses her words carefully, knowing full well the temper the boils beneath bronze skin.
"I'd ask how you slept, but something tells me it was shit. Nightmares again, love?"
I wonder what this is Conclave about, Mėnuo thought as he waited at a red light. The last one about who started world war two was certainly eventful. Watching himself and others get blamed was tiring. Who could have guessed that mortals are naturally able to start conflicts like that by themselves. Though it did dawned on him that the Conclave was about the missing Colossus. Mėnuo did think about where that thing was sometimes since moving to Seattle. Wondering who could have taken it but, it did not worry about it after figuring out it was somewhere in Seattle.
Finally, the light turned green and Mėnuo continued his drive to university. It was not hard for him to make up an excuse for why he had to leave his restaurant. He at least was sure his staff did not suspect that anything was wrong or off. Either way, Mėnuo had no reason to worry about them as he drove into the university's parking lot. He did spot what was he was worried about. Mainly dreading but, her car was there and yep, she is coming out of it. Saulė, his ex-wife and no doubt that their children are either on route or already here. Mėnuo took a deep breath as he watched Saulė leave the parking lot and got out of his car. Time to see what this is about and hopefully not to be seated next to her like last time. He does not need to feel that level of awkwardness today.
Entering the conference room and noting that some of the gods were already here. Stopping in his place once, his eyes laid on Saulė before turning his eyes to an empty chair far from her. Mėnuo sat down in the uncomfortable chair and thought it would have been nice to have a better conference room than this. However, he knows that options are not always available with being mortals and all. Instead of talking, Mėnuo chose to remain silent as the other gods showed up and wait to see what reason they had for gathering for this Conclave.
Squinting against the glow of the sun, he casts a critical eye over the sight laid out before him, like Leonidas or Alexander the Great surveying the field before battle. It’s early morning, so the air is still blanketed with a light layer of mist, and there’s a gentle breeze rustling through the trees.
Gods, this is almost too easy, Zeus thinks, feeling the corner of his lips curl up into a smirk.
Bastards won’t know what hit him ‘em.
Instinctively, his fingers tighten around the grip, patent leather feeling warm, rough and familiar against his palms. By now, it’s almost become something of an extra limb. It moves exactly how it wants it to move, and does exactly what he wants it to do. With a single shot, he could annihilate his enemies, crush them until there’s nothing left but dust.
Drawing in a deep breath, Zeus makes some final readjustments. Knees slightly bent. Feet shoulder-width apart. Spine straight. When it comes to these things, posture is key.
Now, all that’s left to do is take the shot.
With one final glance towards his target, he lets his lungs empty of air, pulls back his arms, and swings.
The ball goes sailing through the air, following its designated trajectory until suddenly, a gust of wind knocks it off course.
Without taking his eyes off the ball, Zeus allows his consciousness to expand beyond its mortal confines. His powers may have been neutered by the Colossus, but if he listens, really try to, he can still hear the wind speaking to him.
So he reaches out to it, coaxing the wind to whip up another gust to put the ball back on its original trajectory. It’s been awhile since Zeus has done this, though —– influencing the weather. Safe to say he’s a little rusty, and for a long moment, it seemed as if nothing was going to happen at all. But then, he feels the air currents shift, a breeze coming in from the northeast, and watches as the ball veers back on course to tumble gracefully to the green, less than a yard away from the hole.
Still got it.
“Whoa. Nice shot.”
“I try. So who’s up next? Bill?”
“Are you kidding? At this rate, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to catch up. How about throwing the next two holes? You know. For an old friend.”
“Nooot a chance. You were the one who wanted to make it a competition, remember?”
“Shut up, Vic. You know what, Dean? You’re just too damned good. And what the hell was that zig-zag shit you were doing with the ball just now?”
“Just the wind, Bill. You know how it gets in Seattle this time of year.”
“Some kinda wind…”
“You can say that again. Speaking of which: I hope you didn’t forget about our agreement. Loser buys drinks —– isn’t that right, Vic?”
“Shut up, Vic.”
“Hey, at least somebody remembers. But, uh, fair warning, Bill: I’ve got expensive taste, and that ‘94 Screaming Eagle we saw on the way in? It’s looking pretty good right about now.”
To Zeus, there really is no better way to spend your morning than getting trashed.
I mean, come on —– he’s the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company. Sipping Black Label and Sauvignon Blanc with executives at brunch is just part of the job, just like slogging through inch-thick contracts for acquisitions, or doing lines off your expensive mahogany desk.
Or taking on that pretty, blonde intern from California as your personal assistant and protégé after a totally fair and unbiased screening.
(Her name’s Sheila, and phew! Get a load of this resume: double major from MIT in management and business analytics, minor in marketing strategy, and we can’t forget to mention her scarily in-depth understanding of consumer behavior, but we’re kind of getting off track here, so we’ll get back to her first-class credentials another time.)
What he’s trying to say is that there’s nothing wrong in letting loose every once in a while. Life under the Colossus is dull enough as it is. No gods. No powers. No nothing. None of his ilk really knew if and when things were going to go back to the way they were, and yeah, it’s fucking terrifying to think about; but that’s just the thing!
Since they could all die at any moment, doesn’t it make sense to always live life to the fullest?
Unfortunately for Zeus, however, that meant that he was going to have to go easy on the wine. There’s been talk floating around about another Conclave for the past few weeks, and wouldn’t you know it —– an email from the Morrigan eventually found its way into his private inbox the evening prior.
Now, he doesn’t know what the Conclave was going to entail, or even how the Morrigan managed to get her hands on his personal email, but one thing’s for certain: he was going to show up on time and make a good impression.
…Well, he’d try to, anyway. It’s been a rough few centuries, him trying to fix things with his family. Call it a work in progress.
And that’s how Zeus ended up here, sitting in a wicker chair at some country club bar, nursing his glass of wine like it was the last one he’d ever get to drink. He was unusually quiet, and Bill, perhaps sensing an opportunity to usurp Zeus’ position as the de facto leader of the trio, began to loudly recount his trip to Monte Carlo. It didn’t help that he was already three drinks in — Bill has always been a cheap drunk — and the way his voice carried across the patio earned them a few dirty looks from the staff.
Zeus wasn’t thinking about Bill, though. He was busy trying to figure out a way of smoothing over tensions with the rest of his Pantheon, especially Hera. The last time they saw each other at the Conclave in ‘39, things did not pan out well, and the last thing he needs is a repeat of that.
But maybe there’s something he can do, you know? Extend the proverbial olive branch. Show her and everybody else that he was no longer the unbalanced, megalomanic narcissist he used to be, though he’s still working on the “unbalanced” and “narcissist” parts.
Question is: what’s something everybody likes?
Excusing himself from Bill and Vic’s company, Zeus pulls his phone out of his pocket to dial in the number for Sheila. The call goes through after only two rings.
Atta girl. So efficient.
“Yeah, hi, Sheila. It’s me. Listen, I need you to —– no, I haven’t been drinking.”
“Yes, I do remember that I have a meeting in an hour. At the university. Thank you for reminding me, by the way, even if it was completely unnecessary. Look, I need you to run a quick errand for me. Those danishes Paul brought to the office last week… find out where he got them from, because I need to place an order.”
His drive to the university is more nerve-wracking than it has any right to be. He’s got about six or seven boxes of delicate, very flaky pastries strapped into the passenger seat of his car — no bag, because the cashier at the patisserie said they were moving towards a minimal waste policy — and with every turn he makes, he fears that they might all end up tumbling out and coat the inside of his car with powdered sugar.
But Zeus follows all the rules of traffic, uses his turn signal, stops when the light turns amber instead of stepping on the gas like he usually does, and manages to get to the university without a scratch upon his person or the danishes.
Now, to find the conference room.
Easier said than done when you have your arms full of baked goods. It takes some wandering around and quite a few looks from curious students before he finds himself standing outside an unmarked door in a quieter part of campus.
Is this the place?
No, it couldn’t be. This was a glorified broom closet.
But behind the door, Zeus could sense the telltale buzz of magical energy, of the ichor that ran through each and every one of their veins.
So this is what it’s come to… He wrinkles his nose, already imagining the stench of mothballs wafting through the air. Maybe the Morrigan could use some help with planning the next time they hold a Conclave. And a little more funding certainly couldn’t hurt.
He’s here for a reason, though. Zeus has to remind himself of that when he realizes that he’s still standing there, waiting. Now that he’s finally here, a vague sort of trepidation has come over him, like a spider creeping up his spine, but he quickly shuts out any doubts he might have before they get the chance to coalesce, and pushes open the door with his foot.
Sleep. Sleep was not something that Hermes cherished, nor sought. Why spend time in slumber, when there were so many frivolities to enjoy in the waking world. His life as a god had been hectic, forever darting from place to place, at the behest of both his own desires, as well as the whims of others. Yet, the realm of unconsciousness was the one place where he could truly fly once more. Where he was able to carousel off with the winds. So, perhaps at the behest of one patron of sleep, or as the result of a lively party, did Hermes pass into these unfamiliar lands.
On this occasion, it was by the hands of the latter that the former messenger of the gods found himself scrunched up in a bathtub, legs hung over the side and head resting uncomfortably against the faucet. Muttering to himself as he slept, Hermes slowly peeped open one eye when he was dragged from his stupor by a familiar voice. He was instantly met by the sight of one very naked looking Heracles, which prompted a small, croaky laugh. The guy spent half of his life in a state of undress, so it wasn't a surprise, infact it was a sight which he welcomed wholeheartedly. "What's up Brotato Chip? You are so naked. Wait...am I?" Looking down, Hermes was surprised to see that he was still wearing his boxers. This was probably the first time he had woken up at Casa De Acropolis wearing more than just his birthday suit. "What happened last night? Last thing I remember was Pol showing everyone his party trick..."
Stretching his arms above his head — his muscles protesting against the sudden movement — Hermes slowly hauled his aching body from the bathtub. He was going to be sore for a week after sleeping like that but at least he hadn’t ended up on the rooftop again. Ignoring the very unclean looking floor, he meandered over to Herc, giving him a small nudge in the side with his foot. "Time to get up man. Wouldn't wanna miss all the fun at the Conclave now would we?" Giving him a small wink before strolling out of the bathroom, Hermes immediately found himself colliding into a smaller someone with a sudden oof.
"Sorry, didn't see you there..." Cupping a hand to his mouth to stifle a yawn, Hermes glanced down at the very awake looking redhead, her returning gaze all smiles & spiritedness. It took his groggy brain a few moments to get into gear, but eventually it began to come back to him. She was one of the many merrymakers that had found themselves at Casa De Acropolis last night. Sally 'the masseuse' - that was it. From what he recalled she had been very flexible. “Oh, Sally...right. What are you still doing here?” It was a shame they hadn't shared the bathtub together because she was pretty damn hot. Though for all he knew, they had. It really was all a bit of a blur.
“Well, you asked me to watch you sleep—” Hermes did not remember this, “—to make sure that your friends didn’t draw...um what was it. Oh, ‘phallic imagery’ on you!” She peered down at the palm of her hand, where he had apparently drawn a picture for reference (y'know, just in case she didn't recognise it...) Smiling at him, she showed him the crudely drawn image, prompting a small laugh from the messenger god. Wow, this girl was peppy. “Anyway, I went out to get you coffee. Thought you’d need it before your mission!”
Slinging an arm gently around her shoulders, Hermes began to lead the girl slowly down the hallway, trying his best to maneuver her away from the rest of the household. “Thanks Sal. You did a great job! - I am completely penis free. Well, you know, not completely.” He gave her a small lopsided smile as he wrapped his fingers around the styrofoam cup she'd brought for him. If there was one thing he loved about humans, it was the invention of coffee. Well, that and some of their more...illicit creations too. “...Wait - what mission?” Backtracking, Hermes frowned at his own stupidity. What had he said this time? It really did get difficult to keep track after the fifth drink or so.
“Your space mission! You said you were flying to Mercury today...”
“I did? I mean, I did! Yep, very important business.” Furrowing his eyebrows as he walked, Hermes tried to recall what he had said. He briefly remembered something about being an astronaut. That was always a risky play so he was surprised that it had worked. Normally he went with one of the safer options like an actor or royalty. Either way, he should probably get this poor girl out of here before he was actually forced to sign up to NASA. He was pretty sure that the moon was outside the remit of The Colossus.
“Look Sal. I’m leaving earth today…forever." He widened his eyes dramatically as they reached the front door, adopting his best solemn demeanour. It he must play along for a while longer, so be it. "It’s gonna be a pretty emotional goodbye with the boys, so it might be best if we were alone. Between you and me, Jackson is very sensitive about his crying face...gets all red and blotchy y'know? Thanks for the coffee though, you're a star!” Taking a sip from the cup, he nodded happily at the rush of caffeine. "Mm, good stuff."
Sally looked somewhat put out but just shrugged her shoulders, clearly have complete faith in the idea that he was in fact an astronaut. “Oh, of course - bye Harry! Good luck with the aliens!”
Hermes gave her a hesitant wave as he shut the door, letting out a sigh of relief when she was finally gone. Brushing a hand through his tangled mess of hair, he glanced around the apartment. Although turning up to the Conclave in just his boxers would be pretty funny, he probably should try and find his clothes.
Yet before he could look, his attention was diverted by the smell of cooking food wafting over to him from the stovetop. Thank the gods that Apollo could actually cook - if it weren't for him, they were all apt to starve. "Mornin' blondie. What's cooking?" Leaning against the kitchen counter, his blue eyes glanced over the mess of empty bottles, red solo cups and other more questionable items. Picking up one of said cups, he gave it a suspicious sniff before deciding that it was definitely not water. Maybe on another day a hair of the dog would've been desirable but no way was he touching that stuff before the Conclave. He decided to grab a piece of sausage instead, biting into it and nearly burning his tongue in the process. Shit that was hot.
"Dude, you haven't seen my clothes have you? I have no idea where I left them..." Frowning in concentration, Hermes began to pick his way through the piles of clothes and people, treading carefully over the remnants of chaos that had been left in the wake of last night. The place was, as always, a complete mess and he had no luck in finding anything that was either his own or something he would want to wear. "Ah, fuck it." After a few minutes, Hermes gave up, giving Apollo a quick wave before traipsing out of the door. He would just head home in his boxers and shower there...the breeze would wake him up at least.
A short while later, Hermes had successfully gone home, showered, fed Ares & Zeus, and then hauled it all the way across town. He was always one to take things at his own pace but luckily his own pace was pretty damn speedy, so he wasn't all that late. In fact, it kind of seemed like he might be on time. That would definitely be a first. He found the Conclaves terribly boring, only attending them in the hopes that there would be some juicy drama, so being timely wasn't really on his list of priorities.
After getting lost half a dozen times, and also stopping to flirt with a very cute looking teacher's aide, Hermes eventually found the conference room. It for sure wasn't the most upmarket place they'd held these gatherings in, but he didn't really care either way. He paused for a moment to pat down a couple of stray hairs, before pushing open the doors, his gaze instantly straying over to two very familiar faces. Thank god it wasn't just him and Ares - the guy would probably try launch him out of a window before the meeting had even started.
“Hey Kor Kor! Hey Hippo!” Darting over to them, full of energy, you would be hard pressed to realise that Hermes had been dead asleep not so long ago. Peering over Kores shoulder, he couldn’t help but smile to himself when he saw his name taped to the cheap plastic chair. “Oh, looks like we’re sitting together. You lucky duck!” Hermes grinned at her as he plopped himself down on the seat. Shrugging off his jacket, he slung it over the back of his chair, before turning to face his fellow Grecian gods.
“Don’t tell anyone, but I brought snacks!” Leaning conspiratorially towards Kore, he showed her the packet of gummy worms that he'd quickly grabbed on the way here. Bringing a finger to his lips to emphasise his point of keeping it a secret, he opened the bag, before popping one into his mouth. "Oh no, they're sour..." Hermes scrunched up his face at the taste, shaking his head in surprise.
Damn those sour gummies - they got him every time.
The roaring engine of a black charger announced its arrival, peeling from one street corner, whipping itself into one lane. It didn’t show any signs of slowing down as the driver behind the wheel came full force into the parking lot, the car in question once again proving its monstrous speed as it went airborn. The moment it came into the parking lot, the emergency brake whipped it once more to the side and, as if something straight out of a Fast and Furious movie, the charger perfectly parallel parked close to one of the main buildings of the University of Seattle.
It rested in the lot for a few minutes, the engine still red hot with raw power and the driver pressing on the gas pedal just to let out some steam. It wasn’t until an additional five minutes did it cease and a leather-clad woman exited. Her entire outfit consisted of black pants, a slightly lighter blouse, and a tight leather jacket, which again she appeared to be straight out of some cheesy action flick.
Athena was anything but cheesy.
Her day wasn’t exactly what one would call ideal. Between having to testify at the courthouse at what might as well be the crack of dawn, she also had the semi-displeasure of getting questioned by Anubis, who granted wasn’t hard on the eyes, but he was good at his job. And that meant a bad day for anyone on the receiving end of his harsh, yet fair, line of questioning. Their game of intellectual tag was fun, but Athena could only think about how she hadn’t eaten anything all day. And how she hasn’t slept in two days. She was exhausted and, if she was being honest, in a mood where her patience was astronomically low. For those who know her, that meant she was going to be extra bitchy to those she didn’t like.
And to that one special person who, under normal circumstances, she had low tolerance levels for, might very well find themselves under her shoe after she kicked their ass. But hopefully, Ares won’t have to be embarrassed this early in the day.
“Of course, knowing him, he might just do that to himself with no involvement on my part.”
Setting the alarm for her charger, Athena strutted into the building where the conclave was set to happen and, rightly so, her mind drifted to the last time they were all called for one of these inconvenient meetings. And what an interesting occasion it was. The Morrigan, who apparently made herself defacto leader of calling the conclaves, had gathered the gods together in hopes of wondering who started the second, great world war. Athena couldn’t blame her nor does she blame her now, but it did raise some questions for the goddess of Wisdom and War.
If the reason for the last conclave was to gather intel about who caused World War II, then what could the reasons for it now be? Immediately, Athena had to wonder if something happened that none of them were aware of. And if that was that case, Athena might even venture a guess that one of gods from the many pantheons could secretly be up to no good.
As she walked into the room where some of the Gods and Goddesses were, she saw Ares and her eyes narrowed with suspicion. She knew he was always up to no good and his temper always made him sloppy. But he hasn’t done anything foolish in a while. Nevertheless, she couldn’t stop herself from being cautious whenever she saw him. If there was one thing she learned from the many years being close to him, it was to never underestimate the Greek God of War.
SIghing out, Athena’s demeanor changed when she saw Zeus, her beloved father pull up from behind her, announcing proudly that he had brought what he called danishes. Cracking a smile, she approached him with a slightly less sour attitude and swiped one of the danishes as she proceeded further into the room. “Don’t mind if I do~” Athena shot her father a short wink.
She traversed the room to find where she was supposed to be seated, but before she could, that homebody God, Shango, whom she had seen in various dumpsters and park benches around town, had brought up the last conclave. “Dial it down a bit, Shango. Everyone knows the last Conclave was a poor excuse to get the pantheons back together.” She eyed him up and down, giving the Yoruban God of Fire and Lightning an approving look. “I’m happy to see that, at least from where I'm standing, your fashion sense has improved in the last seventy years.”
It didn’t take long after Hermes poked fun at how he stayed on the floor and a few others leaving Casa De Acropolis until Heracles finally decided to get up. He was grateful for Hermes leaving so he could give himself a quick shower. Spending a few hours on top of a toilet bowl had left a lasting impression on his body odor, which was to say there was a lot of it and even by Herc’s standards, it was putrid.
After he cleaned himself, he spent some additional time grooming himself all over from head to toe. By doing so, the Divine Protector didn’t begin to think about just how much time he sacrificed for a presentable body. In other words, as he glanced down at his phone, he realized he was late. Not that he was one to be punctual, but in the event snacks were going to be a thing, there was no way in hell that he was going to miss out on the best grabs.
In the quickest run he ever took off in, Heracles ran to his room in his birthday suit, found the closest thing he could that resembled pants, which thankfully were his blue jeans he wore yesterday that didn’t smell of booze and mistakes he’ll regret later and his favorite silver hoodie. He didn’t bother with socks cause socks were for squares. He did, however, slip on his favorite air jordans. Why fuck with a classic, right?
As he made his way out his room, he shouted out to Apollo. “See you at the clave, sunshine!” He added a yahoo for good measure and was long gone, the sound of his Yakuza motorbike roaring out of the neighborhood. He had zipped through the streets of Seattle and in no time, the God of Strength had made it to the University of Seattle, feeling great as the cold wind had spent a solid ten minutes pressing against his bare chest. It was such a test of will that there were moments he thought he would pull over to zip up his jacket, but Heracles wasn’t a pussy. Hardened nips or not, he never gave up on a challenge. And guess what? Heracles was #winning right now.
About a minute after arriving, Heracles heard the faintest sound of a familiar, if not frustrating, voice announce something about danishes. There was a similar energy to his own but it made his ire grow. “Zeus…” He muttered lowly, teeth gritting but he took in a breath. He didn’t have to think about Zeus or how much he wanted to punch that man. He didn’t have to entertain any negative thoughts. Today was about the good vibes and nothing but.
After reassuring himself, Heracles took off into a sprint, kicking the doors open as he jumped through it, tucking his arms and legs, rolling, and then kicking off his legs to momentarily launch himself into the air. He landed on his feet and his jacket sprung open, showing all who cared to watch him his bare chest.
He waved to them all, smiling. “Hello everyone!” He saluted those already inside and went along his business.
His first instinct was to scan the room for his squad, his bros - his family. And he found a few of them. He saw Hermes over by Kore and that Hypnos fellow. He almost went to them, but then, like the easily-distracted, attracted-to-shiny-things kind of man he was, Heracles found another that caught the sparkle in his sapphire eyes.
And on the receiving end of his new priorities came a strut of confidence towards unlikely potential friends, maybe good times. Who knew? “Good morning, ladies~” Heracles gave Bastet and Hathor a bright smile, which he hoped came across as charming. A lot of the times, he’s been told that it was more on the goofy side. “Come here often?” Oh yeah, because nobody has ever used that line.
Once the house had emptied and the leftover breakfast had been stowed in the fridge, Apollo piled the dirty dishes in the sink and returned to his room, in need of a shower and some clothes. Still fighting off a hangover, he stepped out of last night’s boxers and shut his door behind him. In his bathroom, he waited while the shower heated up, admiring his reflection in the mirror. Sure, he looked way better two centuries ago, but who didn’t? Herc dragging him to the gym did have it’s perks he supposed.
The sunrays that he’d summoned had disappeared behind the clouds once more by the time he’d stepped back into his room, drying himself off with a towel that had long ago surrendered to the pains of a machine wash. His room was a mess, though, he had to ask, when wasn’t it? White sheets and a down comforter were strewn across his bed, the aftermath of his night with Britney? Wait, that wasn’t right. Bethany? Bella? Eh, whatever, the mortals he slept with were hardly ever important.
It didn’t take long for Apollo to get dressed, and head out to the garage, where his car was waiting. The red, two door beauty had been a gift from Zeus, a replacement for the car he’d wrecked last year. That had been an unpleasant time for sure. He didn’t envy the mortals and the time it took them to heal.
The car was only one of many gifts he’d received since Zeus’ apology tour had started, but easily a favorite. Of course, nothing could compare to his original ride, the “Chariot of The Motherfucking Sun” as he’d taken to calling it. Alas, nothing short of a miracle was bringing his baby back to him, so good ol’ Sgt. Pepper would have to do.
He might’ve waited for CoCo, or made sure Dio and Ben weren't passed out somewhere upstairs, awaiting a wake up call, but today, just for this morning, he’d like to be somewhat selfish. If he drove alone, he’d have a free seat coming back, and his dream had reminded him of somebody who he desperately hoped would make an appearance; somebody who wasn’t dead, just missing. Just missing.
Seattle University wasn’t a foreign location to Apollo. He’d graduated as Alexander Calimeris last year, with a degree in music theory, and he regularly attended frat parties here with the rest of the squad. His fifteenth music degree so far by the way, but who’s counting?
Once he parked, he took a detour, putting off the Conclave and any potential disappointment off for a few moments longer. The drive hadn’t cleared his thoughts. If anything, it had muddied them. He strolled across the quad, his eyes focused on his shoes as they charted an ambling course towards a dwindling patch of sunlight. He snapped his fingers and watched as it began to grow. Could he see that? Does he know I’m here now? Would he care?
He kicked at the grass, once, twice, a third time. Self-pity and longing, now those were some friends he hadn’t spoken with in a while. He and happiness had been doing quite alright, with some occasional parties with jealousy and rage every now and again. These two were unwelcome intruders in the sanctuary of his thoughts. All hot and bothered over a few nights, a century ago. When did I turn into Hera?
Everything had been fine, until he heard about the Conclave. The Morrigan’s summons had brought memories of the last godly reunion rushing back, and with them, a face that seemed determined to hang around his subconscious,
Apollo sighed, and did what he could to recenter himself. Closing his eyes, he began to count backwards from five, a trick Ben had taught him, inhaling and exhaling as he did, continuing past the end of his countdown, until he was back to his usual, more chill, less obsessive, state of mind. Sunbeams… lyres strumming… calm breezeeeee, okay we are good
Confident in his ability to keep his head on straight, Apollo set off towards the Conclave, each step bringing him back to his usual self. He held the door for a couple of sorority girls, and flashed them an impeccable smile, earning him a look that he recognized all too well. He grinned, now certain that he was bringing his A game to this meeting.
Throwing open the door to the conference room, Apollo made an entrance typical of the sun god. “Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, me!” Apollo committed to his act with a fittingly melodramatic bow. As he brought his torso back up, he blew a kiss to his sister, who only rolled her eyes. “Arty, always the critic,” he said, shaking his head.
Eyes landing on Zeus and his danishes, Apollo snatched one up and took a bite, one graceful, fluid motion. “Ooooh, thanks Pops,” he said through a mouthful of pastry. Spinning on his heel, Apollo surveyed the room, realizing very quickly that the one person he’d so desperately wanted to see today, was absent. The disappointment stayed inside, his smile still as bright as his old domain.
Crossing the room, he nodded to Ares and saluted him with his free hand, before taking a seat. His sister might ignore the seating charts, but Apollo found a certain pleasure in gracing his older brother with his audacity. “So, uh, we gettin’ this little party started or what? Who the hell are we waiting for?” Apollo called out, very much aware of who the hell he was waiting for.
“Well, me, I’d hope.”
CASA DE ACROPOLIS → SEATTLE UNIVERSITY
QUEEN OF THE GODS
The first cries of a baby girl rang out, echoing off the walls of the OR. Dr. Karen Bailey smiled, though it was hidden behind her surgical mask, and cradled the just-cleaned newborn in her arms. Cooing softly, she carried her over to the mother, who reached out a hand to touch her child. Dr. Bailey leaned forward, allowing them to meet for just a moment, before handing the child off to a nurse. “Alright Emily, Dr. Han is going to finish up here, and get you ready to go hold your baby girl, okay?”
“Okay,” Emily said, her voice tired and raspy, and Karen Bailey exited the OR, scrubbing out and washing her hands before heading out into the halls of the hospital.
Emily Baker had been her last surgery of the shift, an emergency C-section at the last minute. She’d been up all night, slicing and sutchering, filling out paperwork, but the little Baker girl was the only baby she’d delivered today. Her years on earth had done little to dim the light that began to warm her everytime she aided a mother in meeting her child. It was divine, the first cries of a child as it’s soul adjusted to the cruel plane of mortals. Beautiful, the way a mother’s eyes lit up when they landed on her newborn. Of course, the warm never lasted long. It was a mercurial high, fleeting yet oh so enchanting.
Once inside her office, Dr. Bailey slipped off her lab coat, and she was Hera once more. Her short, platinum hair was disheveled, no longer the sharp, severe cut it had been when she arrived last night. The overnight shifts were unpleasant, and Hera shuddered to think about how they’d make her feel if she was truly mortal. She pushed through the exhaustion that was beginning to creep its way up her legs.
As Hera strutted out of her office, and down the hall towards the exit, her colleagues smiled and waved. Some offered kudos for some complex surgeries that had been completed since they last spoke. Dr. Bailey was a well respected OBGYN, and one of a handful who specialized in maternal-fetal surgeries. Of course her colleagues loved her, and she loved their love.
Outside, a cab pulled over for the Queen of the Gods, and saved her from the Seattle breeze tugging at her coat. “80th and Burke,” she instructed the driver, checking her watch to confirm that she wouldn’t be late to this Conclave.
Conclaves, gods, those had been something. They’d grown fewer and farther between as the years turned to decades, and the decades turned to centuries. As much as she despised most of those attending, this was an invaluable chance to get her own eyes on her fellow deities. The information that could be gathered here could prove useful, and she still needed to talk to Hephaestus about some funding for the hospital. His mortal alias was the newest mayor of Seattle, and he’d promised her more money from the budget would be directed to the hospital. Figures, once she actually needs his help, he turns off his phone.
No matter. She’d certainly see her youngest son in a little less than an hour, and she already knew Ares was attending. In an effort to keep her sanity in check, Hera made a very pointed effort to avoid any and all thoughts of who else might be there. Ares (and Hephaestus) held the most important place in her heart, and that was why she was going today. To be a good mother. Or at least, that’s what she told herself.
Forty-five minutes later, Hera sat in the back of a different taxi, heading for Seattle University. Of course The Morrigan couldn’t have splurged for somewhere a little less… dingy. Maybe she should start arranging these meetings? Hera had always had an eye for party planning after all.
The pantsuit she’d put on at her apartment hugged her frame tightly but, not uncomfortably so. There was no way she would have shown up right after her shift, clad in sneakers and scrubs. Hera insisted on making an entrance, especially at big gatherings like this, and everyone knew the first step to a killer entrance was a gorgeous outfit.
Casually ignoring a No Smoking sign that was plastered on the window, Hera pulled out a cigarette and set it alight, rolling down her window and exhaling the nicotine laced smoke out into the city. The taxi driver glared at her in the rearview mirror, but he didn’t say much else. The aura of authority that she exuded was evident to mortals as well as gods. This was not a woman to be trifled with.
By the time she’d burned the cigarette down to it’s filter, she’d paid her driver and was standing outside, leaning against a stone pillar. Mortals who passed her gave her curious looks. Who was this woman, dressed in pink, a lost member of the royal family choking down a cheap cigarette? The smoking was a guilty pleasure, truly. Most everything she owned was absurdly expensive, the highest quality items for the highest quality goddess. When it came to cigarettes though, she’d developed a taste for the cheaper ones, thanks to her last husband.
Flicking the remains to the ground, Hera brought the toe of her shoe down, smothering the embers between her foot and the concrete. Show time.
Now, Hera had found that, while a gorgeous outfit can really make for a killer entrance, a perfect setup makes a more memorable one, and Apollo really did tee her up perfectly, though she was sure he didn’t mean to.
“So, uh, we gettin’ this little party started or what? Who the hell are we waiting for?”
“Well, me, I’d hope,” Hera replied, her voice haughty and full of a self-importance that put most gods to shame. Heads turned as she made her presence known, mostly staring daggers at her. She smiled, as if the hatred of others fueled her. In some ways, it did. “I know everyone was just dying to see me after all, sorry I’m a little late. I had the busiest night, and ugh! Surgery is hard fucking work.” Hera let out an exasperated groan, reveling in the uncomfortable silence she’d created. She waved at Ares, beaming at her baby boy, but didn’t get up to get closer to him. Antagonizing Apollo was more fun if it was a slow burn. As she scanned the room her eyes caught Zeus’ and they narrowed and she glanced away, the first genuine reaction she’d had since arriving. She found a table on her own, and took a seat, hopeful that her former husband had learned his place.