//Cupid!// Hephaestus called with anger from his throne room.
"Yeah Daddy Hep?" Cupid said sadly as he appeared in the room.
"Would you explain to us why you deserve retribution from Bliss... Better yet, explain it to Bliss." Hephaestus said sternly.
Cupid looked around the room at Bliss, Jett, Apollo, Anteros and Hephaestus. He walked to Bliss and knelt down to his level. "Bliss, I've been wrong by not spending time with you and not playing with you like I should." Cupid said sadly.
"You feelin lizardy in your tummy?" Bliss asked seriously.
"Yeah, and I'm not sure how to make it go away." Cupid said with tears coming into his eyes.
"You gonna get a spankin and say your sorry." Bliss said in a no-nonsense tone.
"I am?" Cupid asked with wide eyes.
"You are." Hephaestus said with finality in his voice.
Cupid stood and walked before the throne of his father.
"I never thought I would have to do this to you again, but I think it's long past time. Drop 'em." Hephaestus said sternly.
"You want me to..." Cupid asked with a tremble in his voice.
"Jett is the only one in this room who hasn't seen it before, and I think he'll restrain himself. Drop 'em." Hephaestus said louder.
Cupid took down his pants and Hephaestus pulled him across his lap. "I'm going to tell you what each swat is for, and you're going to say you're sorry to Bliss. And if I don't believe that you're really sorry, I'll give you another and another until I do believe it. Do you understand?" Hephaestus asked gruffly. "Yes." Cupid said quietly, feeling the burn of humiliation on his face. "This first one is for not bringing Bliss home every night. Do you have any idea how it makes a child feel when their parent doesn't come to collect them?" Hephaestus said with compassion for Bliss. ::SMACK:: The sound echoed through the room and everyone but Hephaestus was surprised at the power behind the swat. A perfect bright red handprint raised immediately on Cupid's bare white butt. "I'm sorry I didn't come home to get you at night Bliss." Cupid said in a wavering voice. "This one is for not taking time to play with your son. Do you have any idea how much he misses those private times when his father takes an interest in what he likes to do?" Hephaestus said with a little growl. ::SMACK:: And another perfect handprint was raised. Jett was ashamed to feel himself getting turned on by this and adjusted himself surreptitiously.
"I'm sorry I didn't take the time to play with you Bliss." Cupid said with tears in his voice.
"This one is for not reading stories to your son. No one can take your place in making him feel safe and loved that way." Hephaestus said gruffly.
"I'm sorry I didn't read to you at night." Cupid said sadly.
"I didn't believe that one. You collected Bliss from Hestia or from me and your mother and took him home. Instead of spending the time to read him a story, you just put him to bed and went to do your own things. Think how it made Bliss feel to be picked up and dropped off like a parcel of groceries." Hephaestus said in a near scream.
::SMACK:: This one sounded louder than the others and left it's own distinct handprint, raised slightly from the others on the tender skin. Jett was watching in fascination, breathing shallowly and feeling a tingle spread through his body.
"I'm sorry Bliss, I love you and didn't think that you would miss the stories." Cupid said while crying.
"This one is for not eating meals with your son. How is he to have a sense of family when his own father won't take the time to sit down with him at a meal and find out how his day was?" Hephaestus said, red faced and angry.
::SMACK:: Both the formerly white cheeks of Cupid were now an angry splotchy red color. Jett was biting the inside of his mouth trying to distract himself from his arousal.
"I'm sorry Bliss. I knew ::sob:: knew other people would feed you and didn't think ::sob:: you'd miss the time with me." Cupid tried to say through his tears.
"This one is for not taking Bliss out and teaching him about the world. How is he to understand what's around him if he isn't introduced to it. It's you're responsibility to see that he is trained in the ways of the world." Hephaestus snarled.
::SMACK:: Cupid's whole body flinched at the impact. A tremor ran through Jett's body as if the echo of the sound impacted him too.
"I'm... I'm s... so... sorry Bliss. I should have t... taken you ::sob:: out and showed you ::sob:: things." Cupid said with tears streaming down his face.
"This one is for not helping Bliss to learn his power. No one is more competent to train him in his godhood. And it is your duty to do so." Hephaestus said in another snarl.
::SMACK:: Jett adjusted himself again and felt a tear running down his own face. His was a tear of frustration.
Cupid broke down into a fit of crying. After a moment he said, "I'm sorry for n... not training you to use ::sob:: your power."
"And this last one is for ignoring your son to the point that you didn't notice what you were doing to him." Hephaestus yelled.
::::S M A C K::::
Cupid broke into a full gale of tears. Finally he said, "Bliss ::sob:: I'm sorry I didn't notice that I was ignoring you." And he broke into another round of tears. When they calmed, he continued, "And if... if you'll f... forgive me, ::sob:: I promise I'll never do it again."
Bliss had tears running down his own face, he ran to his daddy and hugged him around the neck, which he could easily reach since Cupid was still across Hephaestus' lap.
"Is your lizardy feeling gone now?" Bliss asked with worry.
"Yes, it's all better now. You know I meant what I said, I'm sorry I haven't been spending time with you, and It's not going to happen anymore." Cupid said through his tears to Bliss.
"I know daddy. It's all better now. You been spanked and you said you're sorry. So you'll feel all better now." Bliss said seriously and wiped his eyes.
"I've still got to say sorry to some other people, but I won't be gone long and I'm going to spend every spare minute with you." Cupid said with a glimmer of happiness showing through his tears.
Bliss just held him tight again as Hephaestus watched the whole scene with a tender smile.
Jett let his power flare for a moment to see that all was as it should be. //Zeus, drop 'em// He thought as he flashed out.
Finally Cupid cried himself out and got off his stepfather's lap. He pulled up his pants, picked up his son, and looked around to see Anteros engaged in conversation with Apollo. He turned back to Hephaestus and said seriously, "Thanks daddy Hep. I'm sorry you had to do that."
"I do what needs to be done, it's my job as a father and as a king." Hephaestus said without malice.
"Have you decided what you want for retribution?" Cupid asked cautiously.
"No, your mother and I are still working on it. If we don't come up with anything else, you may be getting another spanking." Hephaestus said seriously.
"Whatever it takes, whatever I have to do to make things right Daddy Hep, I'll do it." Cupid said with certainty then sniffed back a tear.
"Ready for the next one?" Apollo asked calmly.
"Who's next?" Cupid asked nervously.
Joxer looked around the war camp and felt that something was missing. [They might still be able to pull together and go to war.] He thought with frustration.
//Ares? I need to divide the ranks. Maybe Discord could help me?// Joxer thought to his husband.
//It would be better if you didn't call her. By the time she finished there wouldn't be enough soldiers left to be of any use.// Ares thought back with frustration.
//Do you have any suggestions then?// Joxer asked, sensing something else in his husband.
//I've found a misplaced money pouch can work wonders at turning comrades into enemies.// Ares suggested with underlying worry showing through.
//What's wrong?// Joxer asked with his own worry.
//It's Cupid, I'll tell you about it when we get home. Are you about finished?// Ares thought, still sending worry.
//Yeah, just let me do this and I'll be done. Love you.// Joxer replied.
//Love you too. See you soon.// Ares thought then retreated from Joxer's mind.
Joxer quickly selected a favorable candidate who seemed appropriately quick to anger and with a small flash of power, his money pouch was elsewhere. Joxer planted a little seed of an idea in his mind and stood back to watch.
As the fight was commencing, Joxer received a call.
//Joxer, can you come to Apollo's temple? We need you to help Cupid.// Apollo asked professionally.
//I'll be right there.// Joxer replied. [Maybe I'll be able to stop Ares worrying.] He thought to himself.
"You want me to do what?" Joxer asked in a disbelieving tone.
"Cupid feels that he was wrong to depend on your help when he should have been helping you instead." Apollo said clearly.
"But that's just stupid. Cupid was going through some really tough things and I was happy to help." Joxer said, confused.
"But from Cupid's point of view it was a failure on his part to be a proper god. If you call for retribution on him, you will help to heal him." Apollo said, tired of explaining it.
Joxer thought for just a moment and said, "Fine, Cupid want's to train me in my godhood? I've got just the job for him. Ares and I have been talking. He says I should have a temple in the mortal realm. I only know how to make small things..."
"So you want Cupid to help you make your temple? I don't think he'll feel that it's enough payment." Apollo interrupted.
"No, I want him to train me to do it the way I want it to be. He doesn't create anything. He feels he failed me by not teaching me when I needed to learn, then here's his chance." Joxer said shortly.
"I don't know. Jett has been using his power to see if the retributions are sufficient but he isn't answering any calls right now. I'll leave it between you and Cupid to decide what's enough." Apollo conceded.
"Good, come on Cupid. I know just the place where I want to build. And remember, it's my temple, I'm going to do it my way." Joxer said determined.
"Joxer, you can't do it like that. It's not even close to level."
"Level is boring, it's my temple and I don't want it level, besides if I make the other one slant the other way, then it kind of evens out."
"But then water won't drain off the roof, there'll be a trough in the middle."
"Not if I tip the entire temple just a little that way."
"Jox, you do that and the floor of the entire temple will be slanted."
"Okay, what if I make this beam and that one a little shorter."
"Then we're ready for a roof."
"Make the picture in your mind and feed the power into it. This isn't like making something small like a bowl, you don't have to 'pop' it all at once."
"Looking good, just keep going."
"I got it."
"Uh... Jox? Did you mean for it to be that color?"
"Yeah, I think it's kind of pretty."
"I haven't seen that color since Bliss was a newborn... and I didn't want to see it then."
"Let's go inside. Watch your step."
"Ewww. Where did THAT come from?"
"It isn't real, it's made of stone. Think of it as sculpture."
"That's just nasty, Joxer."
"It's my temple."
"I think the throne is going over there."
"That sounds good. Go ahead and picture it... Whoa Jox, it's like waaaaay uneven."
"I know, go sit in it. Try it out."
"Uh... I'm not real good at sitting at the moment."
"Just give it a try, I want to see how it looks."
"Arrrgh. The thing nearly tipped over... the bottom is round."
"Yeah, Pretty cool huh?"
"I think it's safe to say that it's the only one of its kind... and the first 'rocking' throne I've ever seen."
"How about an altar over there?"
"Are you thinking granite or marble?"
"Joxer, that won't even... I know... it's your temple.... Let me see what it looks like."
"There, I think that's pretty good."
"It looks pretty stable, I guess without legs you won't have to worry about the stress on the tabletop... but it isn't level."
"What is it with you and level? I already made the floor level because of you. And level is no fun. THIS is fun."
"Joxer? What is that?"
"I don't really have a name for it... but it's fun."
"It's frightening... Oh Gods! It moved."
"You made a living thing?"
"No, it just moves."
"You're the one who's supposed to be teaching me. So. I'm. Not. Telling."
"Okay, I got that. So what do you want next?"
"I need some plants to liven up the place."
"Okay, plants are living things so they're a little different... it moved again."
"Don't worry about it. Now what about plants?"
"It's best to find the ones you want somewhere else and bring them here. Creating living things is really hard to do and if it's something that already exists, it's just easier this way."
"I can do that... found 'em. And I think... over... there."
"Those are weeds Jox. But the flowers are nice."
"If you touch them you'll itch for a week... The altar needs something..."
"It moved again... Jox? It's getting closer."
"Leave it alone... How's this?"
"Joxer, your altar is floating in water."
"Why is your altar floating?"
"Because it's pumice, and that's one of the things that pumice does."
"I can't argue with logic like that."
"Good. How do I do something complicated like a tapestry."
"Honestly, I just tell my priests what I want and they get someone to make it."
"I don't have time for that. I can make the tapestry but I can't get the fine detail."
"That's something you'll only be able to do with practice. If you want, I can look in your mind and help you focus on it."
"Yeah, let's do that."
"Why are the cows doing that?"
"I guess they were bored."
"No matter how bored cows get, they don't do that."
"You're so literal. Just focus."
"Are those holes?"
"I need to know so I can visualize them."
"They're pictures of holes."
"Oh Gods Joxer, what are those? No don't tell me."
"They're just dried figs."
"Why are they that color."
"Because they'd clash with the snake otherwise."
"Pull back and look at the whole picture at once."
"Oh, that snake... Joxer, you're sick."
"Yeah, now help me focus."
"I hate to ask, but what are the things that look like little pickles?"
"They're little pickles... Now focus... you're supposed to be teaching me, remember?"
"There... it's done. Thanks Cupid... that's exactly what I wanted."
"You wanted that? And it's not lev... never mind. It's still a little bare. You need some more stuff on the walls."
"Like that, maybe?"
"Uh... Jox? It's customary to stuff and mount the animal's HEAD."
"I gotta be me."
"How about some shields and weapons on that wall?"
"Hmmm. How about a mural?"
"It's just easier if you get a mortal to paint it for you."
"I suppose... I can do that... I know just the man... I'll have to get him out of the asylum first... yes, thank you Cupid."
"Uh... No prob... Aaaaaah! It touched me. That... that... whatever it is... touched me!"
"You're a god, it couldn't hurt you if it wanted to. But since it bothers you, I'll put it in the other room until we're finished."
"I was thinking about some stairs over there."
"You don't have a second floor."
"I know, just look..."
"Where does the door go?"
"Twenty feet off the ground?"
"Yeah, you got wings, wanna try it out?"
"This is going a lot faster than I expected. So what do you think of the room?"
"Needs more plants."
"Ragweed, stinging nettles, razor grass, and creeping nightshade."
"Way to go Cupid! It's about time you got into the spirit of things!"
"I've never understood the whole mischief thing, and I don't think I understand it all now, but maybe I'm beginning to get it."
"Okay Cupid, let's do some gardening..."
"Hmmm... it needs a little color."
"I got it... What do you think of those?"
"Oh God's, they smell like rotting meat..."
"Yeah, that's payback for the 'whatever it is' touching me."
"Ooooh, so the angst kid is giving out paybacks now?"
"No, this is good. We're done. If you feel like you can get a payback on me, we must be okay. What do you think?"
"I think you're right. Thanks Jox, helping you make things that were uneven and illogical helped. Spending an afternoon in your sick, twisted, bizarrely-freakish company was enough to make me feel punished." Cupid said in a teasing voice with a smile.
"I enjoy your high-and-mighty, formal, stick-up-the-butt, company too Cupid." Joxer said with equal teasing and an answering smile.
"Now I get to go back to 'Pol and take my next treatment." Cupid said, making ready to leave.
"No you don't. You promised to help me finish my temple, we have one more room to do." Joxer said seriously.
Cupid put on a pouting expression. Joxer glared at him for a moment until a smile broke out across Cupid's face.
A few moments later a voice could be heard from the other room. "Aaaaah! Get that 'whatever it is' away from me!"