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Cupid stood before the new main temple of his grandmother. He had visited his mother earlier and after telling her all that happened she referred him to his grandmother with a little piece of advice. "I'm the goddess of marriage, I don't see yours surviving this. From the way you sound, you don't need counsel, you need vengeance. I think Hera will fix you right up."
Cupid walked into the antechamber and saw his grandmother talking in hushed whispers with Jett while gazing into a scrying pool. Hera was dressed in tight black leather pants and a red top that was something between a corset and a vest. Her auburn hair was swept back from her face but flowing down over her shoulders to the middle of her back. When she looked up at Cupid, her blue eyes seemed remarkably large and beautiful.
Cupid gaped for a moment then said, "Grandma, you look HOT! I mean Great! I mean Wow..."
"Thank you Cupid, but please stop. Anymore would just be disturbing."
When Cupid started to explain all that had happened, Jett made as if to leave. Hera just put a hand gently on his arm and shook her head, then turned her attention back to Cupid's rather dramatic telling of Psyche's misdeeds. When he finally finished his story he looked up to see a distant look in his grandmothers eyes. There was such a look of ferocity in those eyes that it sent a chill up Cupid's spine.
Finally she spoke. "Cupid, as tempting as it is to seek immediate gratification, I think this situation requires some careful thought and planning."
At Cupid's puzzled look she continued, "This was not a case of faulty judgment or giving into a temptation. This was calculated exploitation over a period of years. As such, it requires a bit more finesse than just turning her inside out."
Cupid nodded his head and asked, "So, where do we start?"
Hera nodded her head and called mentally, //Joxer?//
* * * * *
Joxer was actually enjoying himself. He had thought that he might feel bad doing things to his supposed friends but it actually felt pretty good.
Strife had been right about the mixture to feed Argo, she loved it. It was kind of complicated, but absolutely guaranteed by Strife to produce the desired results. Xena wouldn't be sneaking up on anyone for at least a day and a half.
Unseen to mortal eyes, Joxer glanced over at the river where Gabrielle was washing off after an unfortunate fall into a mud puddle [smirk]. He examined her lithe form as she slowly washed herself. The sunlight made her reddish blonde hair sparkle. Joxer noticed her hand begin to drift lower. He shook his head and thought to himself, [what was I thinking? I wanted that?]
He went back to work on her clothes which were drying on a rock. He applied a liberal amount of the potion that would attract every insect in the area.
Joxer heard the call but had no idea who made it. He really had no idea what to do about it so he made his own call.
//Are you done already?//
//No, someone just called me and I don't know who it was.//
//I'll be right there.//
A moment later Ares appeared in front of him. Ares looked deeply into Joxer's eyes and said, "It was mother. If you're ready to go, I'll take you to her."
"Just a second" Joxer said as he walked over to the campfire. He picked up a handful of dirt and sifted it onto the fish that were laying beside the fire, waiting to be cooked. "Okay, I'm ready."
Ares laughed and opened his arms. Joxer moved into his embrace and they flashed out.
* * * * *
Joxer and Ares appeared in Hera's temple to see an obviously upset Cupid. Halfway through the story, Ares was ready to go and rip Psyche a new orifice or two but one look in his mother's eyes convinced him that the best course of action would be to stand back and watch the master at work.
Hera then turned her attention to Joxer. "So, if you'll just perform the divorce, we'll create our plan and get to work."
"No." Joxer said flatly.
A chorus of, "What!?" came from all the occupants of the room.
"Cupid, how is this going to effect Bliss?" Joxer asked quietly.
Cupid was still dumbstruck by Joxer saying 'No' so just shrugged one shoulder.
"Have you talked to Psyche about this?" Joxer asked even more quietly.
"No, why would I, after what she did, she doesn't deserve... anything." Cupid sputtered.
"I agree," Joxer said calmly, with a bit more self assurance. "But this isn't about her, not really. Cupid, you've been thinking about this less than a day. In fact, I don't know if you've been thinking at all, you've been feeling."
"But Joxer, after what she did..." Cupid sputtered out in an unbelieving shout.
"Cupid, take the time to do the right thing. Sit down and discuss this with someone." Joxer said reasonably.
Cupid looked at his grandmother and his father with a bit of a puzzled expression on his face.
"Cupid. Discuss. As in two-way communication. Talk it out with someone, then make your decisions. Nothing has to be done today. Take the time to do this right. Do what's best for Bliss AND best for you."
Cupid finally seemed to understand what Joxer was saying to him. He got up and walked to leave. "Thanks Jox, I guess I've got some thinking to do."
Joxer nodded and Cupid left the room.
Jett pulled Joxer to the side and asked him, "You don't think they should divorce?"
Joxer looked surprised, "Get serious, of course they'll divorce. But Cupid is going to need to know that he did the right thing, for the right reasons. If he were to divorce her right now, it would give her a hook she could use later to possibly guilt him back to her."
"Jox, how'd you get so smart?" Jett asked with an evil little smirk on his face.
"Hey, I'm a god!" Joxer answered with a chuckle.
Joxer and Jett walked back to the center of the room where Ares and Hera were talking.
"So, do you need any help making plans?" Joxer asked Hera.
Hera gave Joxer a look, not Aphrodite's 'Duh' look. Hera's look was more like, 'you stupid, stupid man, I feel really ashamed for you for asking such a question'.
Ares, having been on the receiving end of that look on more than one occasion, put his arm around Joxer's shoulder, and after a goodbye to his mother and Jett, flashed them out of Hera's temple.
* * * * *
Ganymede was putting the finishing touches on his new room in the house of Debauchery when he felt that warm sweet worship feeling again. He couldn't resist the impulse and transported himself, unseen, to Meg's. There on his alter were eight candles, and spread across the alter cloth were various pieces of jewelry and a small vial of fragrance.
There was a small gathering of working girls and one guy, listening to the unfortunate woman from the night before giving a dramatic retelling of the events. As the story progressed the warm sweet feeling continued to grow.
In the past, there were times when Ganymede had bemoaned his existence. He had wished that he weren't a god, he craved the release of death. The realization was beginning to blossom within him. What he lacked before was a purpose. Feeling this worship, he understood that it wasn't the warm fuzzy feeling that was making him feel so good in the depths of his soul. It was the feeling of being needed and appreciated; knowing that what he did changed peoples lives for the better.
* * * * *
On a forest path in the middle of nowhere (literally) Hercules and Iolaus were making their way to what seemed to be the north.
Hercules was beginning to become concerned and said, "I don't believe it but I think we're lost. We should have been to Pyrhia by now."
Iolaus looked up at his big friend and said, "We aren't expected, there's no hurry to get there."
"Yeah, but I don't like not knowing where I am."
"Herc, would you do something for me?"
"Stop and listen."
"Okay, what am I listening for?"
Hercules heard the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. In the distance he could hear the gentle tinkle of water in a stream. He could just barely hear the sounds of birds calling, far, far away.
"Now take a deep breath, what is the smell?" Iolaus asked with an almost hypnotic quality to his voice.
Hercules smelled the peaty smell of fertile earth, then he noticed a hint of moisture from the stream. It was the smell of life.
"That's all I wanted, we can go now if you want." Iolaus said as he adjusted his pack.
"What was that all about?"
"I just thought we needed to stop and enjoy what we have right here, right now. Just for a little bit I want to enjoy what we have in front of us instead of worrying about what's ahead of us."
Hercules considered that, then said, "People depend on us. I have to keep going."
"Yeah, we help people, because of the things we do, some people are alive that wouldn't be otherwise. Some others are living happier lives because of us. But I want to be happy sometimes too. And what would make me happy right now is to set up camp, take the rest of the day off and enjoy the moment."
Hercules knew that there was some reason that he should object. People somewhere needed him. Then he looked into Iolaus' blue eyes and simply unslung his pack.
Hercules walked off the path into a clearing and began to set up camp while saying, "You're right, we deserve a day off."
Iolaus beamed. Maybe this would be his chance to get his big friend to loosen up a little.
* * * * *
Cupid had wandered around Olympus for hours, in a more or less stupor until Joxer's words came back to him, 'discuss this with someone'. There was only one person Cupid wanted to be with at the moment. And that is how he came to be here. In front of a door in Hades' great hall.
Cautiously, Cupid knocked on the door. Strife opened the door and started with surprise at Cupid before him.
"Hey Cupe, what'cha doin here?"
And once again the story fell out of him. As he finished telling Strife about what Joxer said, he started to cry.
Strife pulled Cupid into a hug and rocked him until the crying stopped. They sat there for minutes, saying nothing, just holding on to each other. Then Cupid shifted himself into position and began to kiss Strife.
Strife reluctantly pulled away and looked him in the eyes.
"Cupe, yer still married to Psycho."
"I know but before..."
"Cupe, I don' wan it ta be like it was before."
"What do you mean? We were happy."
"Cupe, ah been dead fer a year now. Bein dead gives ya time to think. What da ya think we were like before Psycho?"
"We had fun, the sex was great."
"Ah got no complaints bout the sex, nevah did, but that's all we had."
"No, I love you Strife."
"N I love ya too Cupe, but don'cha see? We nevah told anyone we was togethah, I was a dirty secret. Whatevah we did, it was cause YOU wanted ta. I don want that, I want a partnah, not a mastah."
"But I never thought of you that way..."
"Sure ya did. Ya nevah said it outloud but'cha said it every time ya'd sneek inta my room... n every time ya'd leave me in the middle of the night so Unc wouldn' find'ja."
"I didn't realize..."
"I know, neithah did I, but now ah do and it ain't gonna happen no more. Ya called all the shots, n I ain't hangin it all on you. Ah let'cha. I ain't sayin I don't want'cha Cupe. Ahm jus sayin, it can't be like it was. Let's take it slow n mebbie it'll happen. Till then, ahm always here fer ya."
Cupid let a small resigned smile cross his tear streaked face and nodded. "I guess I got some thinking to do."
"Yeah, if ya need me ya know where ta find me." Strife said with his own sad smile as Cupid left the room.