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Mars strode from the chamber of the gods and down the hallway, furious as he'd ever been. He ignored the stares and looks of the other gods, major and minor, as he marched past. It was unusual for the god of war to be in such a temper. Whenever he became angry, he whipped up a war to soothe himself.
But no war or battle, no matter how fierce, could stem his ire this time around.
He had just returned from the conclusion of a rather satisfactory little battle–complete with lots of blood and gore–when Zeus, the supreme god, had called in Mars to chastise him about his son's conduct.
That was something Mars didn't need. He had enough stress to deal with right now, what with countries wanting wars against other countries. He already had more than he could handle.
Then his son pulls a stupid stunt like this.
Mars snorted. It wasn't that Cupid hadn't had the right to do what he did. That snot-nose Apollo had it coming after all, Zeus' son or not. Mars didn't care that Apollo did handle the sun every day, making sure day would come. Sure, that was important. But Mars could see where Apollo telling the god of love he was a rotten archer would definitely get Cupid angry.
Mars seethed. Dumb comment from Apollo or not, Cupid should have had better control over his reactions.
Still, the idea that Cupid had arranged it so Apollo would fall in love with Daphne, the river goddess, did have its element of humor, especially because Daphne didn't give two cents about Apollo. Mars had great satisfaction envisioning the scene–an impassioned Apollo on his knees, pouring out his unrequited love, and a disdainfulDaphne turning her back on him.
Serves the little twerp right.
Even as satisfied as Mars was with the vision of a chastened Apollo, the boy was Zeus' son, and no matter how far Cupid had been provoked, he should have held his temper. His boy was the god of love, after all. Mars sighed. It went against to the grain to punish Cupid for something that wasn't his fault.
But Zeus was right. Gods needed better control.
Mars found his golden-haired, blue-eyed son in his palace, dressing up in a mortal outfit. A suit and tie looked wonderful on Cupid, but he still had problems fitting the suit's coat over his wings. Still, Mars couldn't help but admire what a handsome figure his son cut, and again he cursed Zeus for charging him with Cupid's punishment. He loved his son and he hated to discipline him.
"We need to talk," Mars told the younger god.
Cupid made an impatient face. "I'm on my way down to visit Psyche. Can't this wait?"
Mars shook his head, marveling again that his son had fallen so hard for a mortal woman. Well, it took all kinds, he supposed.
"Son, I understand you got into it with Apollo recently." No sense beating around the bush. Mars liked to get to the point.
Cupid shrugged and brushed an infinitesimal speck off his wing, before admiring himself in the mirror. "He told me I wasn't any good as an archer. I needed to prove him wrong."
Mars was hard-put not to smile. "Son, I understand you have to meet a challenge, but shooting arrows of unrequited love at another god is not a good way to get your point across. So to speak. His father is furious."
Cupid shrugged again. "How did I know it would work so well? My arrows never worked on his sister."
"Diana's immune to a lot of things, arrows of love included," Mars said thoughtfully. "Probably because she's goddess of the hunt. She, at least, doesn't need to prove her prowess with arrows."
"Maybe she and I need to have a competition," Cupid said facetiously.
Then, in a blinding flash of inspiration, Mars figured out how to best teach Cupid the lesson he needed to learn. Some time ago, Mars had had some fun pitting a couple of mortals against one another. As a result, the two mortals hated each other so much, trying to turn it around would be a true challenge for his impulsive son.
"Okay," he said. "As much as you may have thought you were in the right, you need punishment. And your punishment is to make Diana fall in love."
Cupid smiled. "Come on, Dad! I can't work miracles! I told you my arrows don't do anything with her."
His father chuckled. "Not Diana the goddess," he said. "The particular Diana I have in mind is a mortal, and your challenge is to put her into the arms of the person she resents the most."
With a grin, Mars held out his hand. A folder immediately appeared and settled on his palm. He opened it, glanced at the contents with satisfaction, then handed it to Cupid. The god of love looked inside the folder, then burst out laughing. Mars loved to hear his son laugh–it was a musical and happy sound.
Copyright © 2005 by Erica DeQuaya.