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"Yes child, I have returned."
"But you can't exist here, you'll destroy the world." Gaia said with a note of sadness.
"I know little one, I'm merely dipping my toe in the pool. I'll be leaving soon."
Gaia spoke up, more insistently, "The world is already being effected by your presence. Civilizations will begin to fall if you don't leave immediately."
"My little godling, you always were an impatient one. I can stay one more day with no lasting effect. The pieces are now in place. I just have to set them in motion." the visitor said.
"But won't your being here draw grandmother." Gaia said with some wory.
"Chaos will do as the mood strikes her. The twilight had to be postponed, if I had stayed away, all would be lost. Talk with the fates, they will confirm that this was necessary." he looked away grimly.
"I understand Grandfather. It's just hard for me to be objective when my godhood is screaming at the wrongness of your being here." Gaia said with a timid look.
"I know child, and I promise that once the new structure is set into motion, I'll be on my way." He said sadly. "Sit and talk with me for a time before I have to finish my work here and leave."
Gaia gave a nod and sat with her ultimate Grandfather, enjoying his companionship for the first time in millennia.
* * * * *
Ganymede materialized unseen to mortal eyes in a brothel. He looked around the main room with an appraising eye. He observed the last of the unattended harlots helping the Madame clear tables. The women worked to the music of moans and slapping flesh from the occupied rooms of the brothel.
The women chatted idly of the business of the day as the work was quickly completed. As the last of the harlots left to get a night of sleep. Ganymede decided that he would talk to the Madame.
In a flourish of scarlet light and golden sparkles Ganymede appeared. Meg stopped in her tracks and stared at the beauty of the young barely teenaged boy... god... standing before her.
"Lord?... May I help you?" Meg asked with uncharacteristic hesitance.
"Please, call me Ganymede. And yes you can help me. Let's sit, this might take a while."
"Yeah, sure. Can I get you a drink or anything?"
Ganymede laughed a somewhat bitter laugh and said, "M'lady, I would be honored to provide drinks. I've had years of training."
Meg was taken aback by his response but nodded and sat across the table from Ganymede as he produced two goblets of wine. "M'lady, I have recently been given the duty of protecting you and establishments such as yours. I have come to you so I might get to know your needs."
As soon as the words left his mouth, a leer crossed Meg's face. Ganymede felt a spark of fear, deep within himself. It was the same spark he always felt when someone approached him with THAT look.
"No." he said quietly. The near whisper was more effective than a scream. Meg felt appropriately ashamed when she realized what her automatic response had been.
"I will tell you this because I need to do the right thing to help those who are my responsibility. Zeus found me when I was a child and he became enamored of me. As he was king of the gods, he was able to take me and make me into a minor god so that I could be his toy for all time. My body was made to be unchanging. The way you see me now, I have been for the past 1500 years. I was his own personal whore. Today I was given the responsibility to watch over those who are used for sex. My official title is 'Ganymede, God of Harlots'."
With a look of shock and a voice filled with awe Meg said, "Then, you're my God?"
Ganymede smiled and his eyes softened as he felt, for the first time in his life as a god, worship. "Yes M'lady, I am the god of you and all those in your employ. Now all I need to know is what can your god do to help you?"
* * * * *
Cupid finally relaxed as another wave of nausea left him. He called out across Olympus, //Asclepius!// and then bent his head into a basin retching again.
Asclepius appeared behind Cupid and quietly began to assess his condition.
"Cupid, there is an enchantment on you." Asclepius said.
"What? What is it?" Cupid asked between deep breaths.
"It appears to be a spell from one of your arrows... no... my mistake... two of your arrows. Obsession and Infatuation." Asclepius said timidly. "They are working in direct opposition to your new godhood."
"But... how? Can you fix me?" Cupid asked as Asclepius materialized a cold wet cloth.
"No, but you can. As I said, the spell is contrary to your new godhood. The godhood is cleansing your system. By morning all the effects of the enchantments should be gone."
"Is there anything I can do to speed it up? I feel rotten."
"I think a bowl of ambrosia should settle your stomach and then a good nights sleep." Asclepius stood again and turned to go.
Cupid immediately materialized a bowl of ambrosia and began to eat.
"Thanks Ace. I owe you one." Cupid said between bites walking Asclepius to the door.
Asclepius stopped in his tracks. He turned to Cupid and looked deep into his eyes. "Yes, you do. And as head of the house of love, you can actually repay me."
Cupid was stunned by the bluntness of Asclepius' statement, "What can I do for you Ace?"
"Cupid, I'm lonely... I would really like to have someone to share my life with. If you can do this for me, I'll consider all past and future debts paid in full."
Cupid slipped from stunned to shocked. "Ace, it was a figure of speech. There has never been any debt between us in my mind. I promise that I will do all that's in my power to find you someone that you can share your life with."
Ace nodded and walked out of Cupid's temple. Cupid felt the ripple through his godhood. He had intellectually understood the nature of his new godhood, but for the first time he felt the power and responsibility of the God of Romantic Love.
* * * * *
Cupid awoke with a start. He sat up in bed and stared around his bedchamber as if he'd never seen it before. The light seemed brighter somehow. He looked at the sleeping figure next to him, expecting to see his beautiful wife. Instead he saw an average looking woman drooling on her pillow. He gazed steadily at this stranger sleeping next to him as he tried to put the pieces together.
Then he realized. In a distant memory, like a half-forgotten dream, he remembered scratching himself with one of his arrows as he looked at the mortal Psyche through her bedroom window. That was where it all began. The years of his life, walking through an obsessive haze seeking her attention and approval. But a scratch of one of his arrows should only last for a week at the most on a god.
He stretched his memory further and recalled Psyche pricking him with his arrows as part of their sex play. [The Bitch!] It all made sense now. He had been held captive of his own arrows enchantments for YEARS! Since they were arrows of obsession and infatuation, they would be amplified by his former godhood, keeping him under the enchantment for as long as she wanted him to be.
He bolted out of the bed and flashed to his mother's new temple. He needed answers and knew that she would be able to provide them.
* * * * *
Joxer woke up in the bed next to Ares. He thought back on the night and smiled. He and Ares had shared a bath. He was embarrassed but Ares didn't seem to notice. He thought that he would pass out before he had removed the last of his clothes and stepped into the water.
Between the heat of the water and Ares own casual attitude, he finally found himself able to relax. They had lounged in the bath for almost an hour talking about anything and nothing.
Now Joxer was thinking back on some of his deepest desires and compared them to the reality of the night before. There was no comparison. Given the choice between the sexual relationship that Joxer had once dreamed of and the easy companionship and camaraderie of the previous night, Joxer would happily keep their relationship as it is. There was such a feeling of contentment, but there was more than that. Ares had treated him with respect, as an equal, and as a friend.
Joxer looked across the bed at his friend and smiled. Ares had always taken him seriously. One day, when he was feeling particularly depressed he went into Ares' temple and began to pray to Ares. But this time he ignored the formal structure of prayer and just sat and talked to Ares like another person. When Joxer had talked himself out and was just kneeling at the alter, Ares appeared before him with a curious look on his face. Joxer nearly passed out from fear until Ares sat upon his throne and began to talk. Ares talked to him in the same no nonsense manner that Joxer had used.
At the end of Ares tale of woe there was an uncomfortable silence. Then Joxer said "You win." Ares simply gave a tiny barely-there smile and nodded once before disappearing.
And that's how it began. For years they had been having their bitch-n-gripe sessions when either of them felt the need. There wasn't much said between them beyond the sharing of their troubles. Although it was never said, Joxer knew that he had been given an incredible gift, and an incredible responsibility. He had never told another living soul of his meetings with his god.
Now here he was, sharing a bed with Ares, even though it was in the most platonic of circumstances. Whether it be by the hand of their mysterious visitor or the hands of the fates, he couldn't dare to ask for anything more. At this moment he was the happiest that he had ever been.