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Hephaistos called Cupid to his private office. Cupid appeared shortly thereafter and plopped into a chair across from his step-father.
"What do ya need, daddy Hep?" Cupid asked casually.
"I need to talk to you about Psyche." Hephaistos answered in his most calming tone.
Cupid bristled immediately. "She..."
"Stop!" Hephaistos said, preempting Cupid's hissy fit.
Hephaistos looked Cupid straight in the eyes and said, "I know that Joxer talked to you about your feelings about what has happened, what we are going to talk about now isn't you, it's Psyche."
Cupid calmed down a little and asked, "What do you want to say about her?"
"What was her life like before you married her?" Hephaistos asked, once again in his calming tone.
"Her father was going to sell her to the highest bidder..." Cupid said without emotion.
"And how do you think that made her feel?" Hephaistos asked, trying to lead Cupid into thinking about someone else.
"Bad, I guess." Cupid answered.
"I would think a little more than bad. Imagine how you would feel if you were being sold... by your father... to a stranger with the right amount of money..."
Cupid thought about it and said, "I guess I'd feel pretty worthless, and alone."
"Exactly, now, do you remember the first time that you spoke to Psyche, what you said to her?" Hephaistos prompted.
Cupid's temper sparked again, "I was under the influence of a love arrow, I..."
"Cupid, this isn't about you. What was the first thing you said to her?" Hephaistos prompted again.
"I told her that she was beautiful and I loved her and wanted to marry her." Cupid mumbled.
Hephaistos sat forward in his chair and asked, "And how do you think that made her feel?"
"Okay, being a mortal, I guess that having a god tell her that he wanted her would make her feel special and wanted and loved." Cupid said quietly.
Hephaistos nodded and continued, "Given those circumstances I can see why she would choose to marry you. It's hard to imagine anyone in those circumstances behaving any differently."
Cupid glanced up at Hephaistos' and said, "Yeah, I guess I can see that."
Hephaistos decided it was time for the next stage, "So after you were married, what was her life like?"
Cupid looked puzzled and asked, "What do you mean?"
"Who were her friends? What did she do for fun?" Hephaistos asked with raised eyebrows.
Cupid thought for a few moments then answered, "I don't know, I don't think she had any friends... or fun."
This looked like the perfect time to jump right into it. "What would have happened if you had left her? Back in the beginning I mean."
Cupid answered without thinking, "She would have been alone, she might have been made mortal again."
"And if she were made mortal, she would have been sent to the mortal realm to be alone, or with her father." Hephaistos added.
"But that doesn't excuse what she did to me!" Cupid's rage started to boil up again.
Hephaistos calmly answered, "Cupid, this isn't about you. Can you begin to understand why she didn't want to lose you?"
"Yeah, I can see that but..." Cupid began but was interrupted.
"You talked to Joxer yesterday?" Hephaistos asked, hoping to deflect Cupids anger.
Cupid was stunned for a second by the seeming non sequitor. "Yeah, a couple times."
"And how was he?" Hephaistos asked, leading Cupid to discover this himself.
"He was fine, he helped me a lot." Cupid answered, still somewhat stunned.
Hephaistos decided to drive in the final nail, "Would he have been as much help last week?"
Cupid stopped to think about Joxer as he was before his godhood. He couldn't really put into words what was different about him, but something fundamental had changed. Finally Cupid answered, "I don't know, I don't think so."
"So what changed?" Hephaistos led.
"He became a god, I guess something in his godhood helps him to be more understanding or something."
"Do you think he was calling on his godhood while he was talking to you? And do you think he knows what it's doing?" Hephaistos asked, knowing they were almost there.
"No, he isn't calling it, and I don't think he knows. It's just doing it by itself." Cupid answered cautiously, sensing where this was leading.
"You're right, it's the same with all made gods, the nature of the godhood guides the actions of the made god until they are shown how to recognize it." Hephaistos said with a hopeful look in his eyes.
"So the godhood of manipulation would lead Psyche to control others, and she was already afraid of being alone or sent back to her father." Cupid was speaking as he put the pieces together.
"You've got it! Now you understand!" Hephaistos said with excitement.
"But the things she did to me..."
Hephaistos waited for Cupid to figure it out.
"...were all types of control and manipulation." Cupid said with wonder.
"Yes, and now that you know that, we can take steps to set things right." Hephaistos said happily.
Cupid looked up with shock, "Grandmother! I've got to stop her, she's going to do something really awful to Psyche."
"Wait, no she won't." Hephaistos interrupted, "I talked to her and the others that were going to take revenge on your behalf. They understand now and they'll leave her alone."
Cupid dropped his head into his hands and asked, "Daddy Hep, this is such a mess, how am I going to fix this?"
"The first step is to teach Psyche how to recognize the influence of her godhood. She has been led by it for the past five years, so it's going to take some work. And I'm leaving it up to you to see that it gets done."
Cupid looked up, disbelieving, "Me? Daddy Hep, I don't want to be in the same room with her, much less train her in her godhood."
Hephaistos put on his stern fatherly voice and said, "Cupid, this isn't about you. It's about Psyche and what's best for her. You don't have to train her, you can find someone else to do it. But it is your ultimate responsibility to see that it's done."
"But why?" Cupid asked in a small voice.
"Because you're the reason she was ever made a god, so she is your responsibility for as long as she needs you." Hephaistos said with an air of finality.
"How long is that?" Cupid asked with a streak of fear in his voice.
"Until she is a self sufficient god, with control of her godhood, with relationships, and with the respect of others." Heph said in the fatherly voice again.
Cupid looked at Hephaistos and felt like he was a cherub again, "This could take millennia."
Hephaistos nodded, "And then you'll be done."
* * * * *
Leaving the great hall, Joxer was shaken to his foundation. He thought about his actions the past few days and realized that it was all true. He was becoming a bad person... god... whatever. He absently walked over to a fountain and stared at the flowing water as he thought about the horrible, spiteful things he had planned for Psyche and knew that even though he hadn't done them, he would have if it had not been for Hephaistos' intervention.
He looked deep within himself and decided that the only way that he was going to make peace within himself would be to talk with Psyche, and see that she was not harmed. After that, he needed to spend some time with Xena and Gabrielle. He needed to know how much of his feelings toward them were real and how much was his new godhood wanting to play.
//Ares, I'm out of the meeting// Joxer thought.
//Do you remember where Hestia's temple is?// Ares asked.
//Yes, did you need me to get something from her?// Joxer responded curiously.
//No, she is going to train you to transport yourself.//
//But... I thought you were going to do my training.// Joxer replied with an air of disappointment.
//I will do most of it. But Hestia has trained nearly every god of this generation in transporting. It is best that she handle this aspect of your training.// Ares said and Joxer could almost feel a smile through the mind-speak.
//I guess I'd better go then. See you later?// Joxer asked hopefully.
//Yes, I should be done here well before sundown.// Ares replied with the smile again.
//See you then.// Joxer sent before heading off for Hestia's temple.
* * * * *
Joxer walked into Hestia's temple where he could smell something cooking... a stew maybe. He heard voices coming from one of the rooms so he went in and saw Hestia sitting, holding Bliss on her lap and talking with his brothers.
Hestia looked up at Joxer and said, "Good, now we're all here, we can begin." And she set Bliss on his feet by her side.
She told them to look around the room they were in carefully, then after a few moments she led them to the next room.
"Bliss, honey, transport yourself into the next room dear." Hestia said in her grandmotherly tone.
Bliss did as he was asked and a moment later walked back in through the doorway. Hestia explained visualization and power utilization. She finished by telling them how to bring it all together and transport.
Hestia looked at Joxer and said, "Jett, you can be the first to try."
Joxer looked at her with surprise, "I'm Joxer ma'am." he said timidly.
"Yes, of course, now go ahead and try to transport into the next room..."
* * * * *
Cupid walked into his new office. The office of the head of the House of Love. As he looked over the scrolls on his desk he muttered to himself. "The work's only been let go for two days, how can I be two weeks behind?"
As he was plowing through the pile of scrolls he came to a decision, "Anteros!" he called.
Anteros appeared, his silver/white wings shimmering in the light from the window. Cupid kept his gaze on the scroll before him and said, "Ter, I could really use your help getting through all this work."
Anteros was stunned for just a moment, then came back to himself and asked, "Since when has the mighty Cupid needed anyone's help? Especially mine?"
That made Cupid look up into the defensive face of his younger brother. "Since now, I don't know how mom kept up with all this work. When I was dealing with infatuation, I didn't need anyone's help to get my job done, but just look at all of this. You're better at this kind of stuff than I am. There is a lot of work to do and I need help... especially yours."
Cupid could see the turmoil going on in his brother's face then saw him reach a decision. Anteros pulled up one of the backless chairs that the winged members of the family favored and proceeded to work.
* * * * *
The sun was setting as Joxer walked out of Hestia's temple with a limp, holding a wet towel to the side of his face. After this day, he could look fondly back on his days as a mortal, walking to get where he needed to go. He had transported himself inside a wall, into the fireplace and into the fishwell... twice.
Bliss had laughed so hard that he nearly choked.
The only consolation that he could give himself was that his brothers hadn't done much better. Jett had transported himself into the same wall Joxer had and into a fountain. Jace had transported himself up a tree and couldn't make himself concentrate to transport himself down. He was up there for half an hour.
And in the entire time that they were there, Hestia didn't get their names right even once. Joxer had felt the spark of mischief coming from her. She knew their names, she was just playing with them, so Joxer figured, 'why not?' and let her play. What's the harm?
* * * * *
Cupid materialized in his home temple. Psyche noticed and began a verbal assault, "Where have you been? I haven't seen you but a few minutes in the past two days... "
Cupid had so many emotions boiling inside him, he didn't even know what he was feeling. So without any emotion in his voice, he said some of the most feared words in the realm of relationships, "We need to talk."