Disclaimer: Hello. This is my first Xena Fanfic so please go easy on me as I roll with it. I was and still am a massive fan of the series so the last thing I want to do is cause any injustice or offend anybody's views of the characters/story. I am aware I don't own any of the characters, their likeness or the rights to the show. This is simply for fun. Some elements were inspired by a fanfic written by Silvermoonlight GJ which inspired me to start this (Thank you :) Note: The story is based between the seasons 3 and 4.
Aphrodite lounged back in her chaise, watching as her entertainment left the room, picking up his clothes that had been flung across the floor in a what had been and explosive night on the way out. She lifted a hand behind her head and used the other to wiggle her fingers at the handsome young man as he closed the door gently behind him, keeping his smile visible to show that he was pleased and secretly hoped for a repeat. They all did. They all wanted more.
But Aphrodite rarely allowed her 'visitors' to become a regular occurrence. She liked to keep it mixed up to prevent herself from falling into a tedious monotony. What was the old cliché? There's more fish in the sea? Well Aphrodite always liked testing the waters. It kept her mind occupied when she had no work to do. Like last night she'd appeared before a scruffy young man who'd been down on his luck. Aphrodite had watched as he'd lost his job and his lover had dumped him for his boss. She had taken pity on him and slaked her thirst for a distraction in one by showing him his worth by tidying him up and by showing him the love of the goddess. He awoke a new man, brimming with good looks, charm and confidence. It did her heart good to know she'd helped a mortal and got something out of it herself.
Sometimes being the goddess of love was great; the perks, the powers, the unending line of lovers and immortal life. But with immortality came eternal boredom and Aphrodite regularly found herself lying about her room from time to time suffering unbelievably painful bouts of boredom.
Aphrodite sighed loudly, wriggling until she was fitted snugly into her chaise and closed her eyes. But she didn't have long to relax because she felt his presence. She knew who it was before she heard him speak.
"What do you want, Cupid? Can't you see mommy's trying to get some beauty sleep?"
She heard him chuckle. "Are you fishing for compliments? You know you don't need it."
Yes, she knew that she was eternally beautiful but she liked hearing it nonetheless. Her mouth stretched into a smile. "Sounds like somebody wants something from me."
Cupid's tone sounded surprised. "How do you always know?"
"I'm your mother. It's my job to know." She opened her eyes slightly and smiled at his expression. "Don't frown, Cupid. You'll ruin your pretty face with those ugly lines."
He scowled. "I'm not pretty. Don't say that. It's emasculating." As if to feel more masculine he stood up straight and puffed out his muscular bare chest.
Standing six feet tall, Cupid was an impressive specimen of the male species. His body was powerfully built; filled with unerring strength and power, but his strong appearance couldn't hide the softness and gentle soul that was visible through his eyes that came with having love as an occupation.
"Whatever." Aphrodite waved her hand uncaringly. "What did you come for? Unless," she sat up suddenly, noticing that he'd styled his hair differently today. His blonde curls had been slicked back and his feathers looked particularly pruned and tidied. Even his clothes looked extra nice. He was wearing new sandals. "Have you finally decided to have another baby? Have you dressed yourself up to woo Psyche again?"
Cupid's head fell back as he let out a loud, exuberant laugh. "Right mom, like that's going to happen."
Now it was time for Aphrodite's turn to scowl. "Don't laugh at me. I just want to see you happy." She crossed her arms tightly over her chest and turned to look out of her window.
Cupid quietened realizing that he might have actually hurt his mother's feelings. He looked at her and saw that despite all the scolding to keep him from frowning, her face was screwed up in annoyance. He smiled gently, coming to kneel by her so that their heads were level.
He touched her shoulder. "I'm sorry, mother. I was just jesting." He brushed his hand through his hair, letting out a puff of air between his lips. "You know Psyche and I haven't been thinking about that, mom. Bliss is too much to handle and he's just one baby. We're not ready for another just yet. And besides I've been too busy with work."
Aphrodite looked at him then, surprised. "You're still trying with the kings?"
Cupid shook his head. "Nah, that worked itself out in the end. Even without my arrows. It turned out that the kings wanted their children to fall in love because they wanted to join the kingdoms, but made it look as though they were fighting so that their children would keep meeting in secret."
Aphrodite's eyes grew larger. "The kings knew about their children meeting?" she twisted one of her platinum blonde curls around her finger as she looked into thin air. That was very smart. Too smart for a mortal, she pondered to herself.
The prince of Celosia had had no interest in the princess of Smantra until their kingdoms had started 'fighting'. She'd heard nearly every day about the progress of Cupid's 'mission' to make the prince and the princess to fall in love, but for some reason had found it hard. He'd expressed his worry that his arrows had become powerless because when he'd shot them with them, they'd seemed to have no effect. Aphrodite could understand his stress. For him to think that the very thing that required his being didn't work, only to find out after all his efforts that they were already in love must have been frustrating to say the least.
"Seemed I was unwittingly outdone by the humans. I think that I shouldn't have perceived them as blind to love as I'd originally thought." Cupid shrugged and then looked at the floor, suddenly feeling like a child. "They'd seen more with their mortal eyes than I could with my own."
"What's this, Cupie?" Aphrodite smiled, putting her finger under her son's chin so she could lift his face and hopefully wipe the concern from his thoughts. "What's my boy really worried about?"
Cupid averted his eyes. He didn't want his mother to see the weakness and doubt he felt in his soul. "I'm not sure, but, maybe it's coming close to the time of the foretold prophecy?" he felt his mother's finger drop from his chin and looked at her. He saw the anxiety in his mother's pale blue eyes and felt a twinge of guilt for making her worry.
He reached out and held her hand. "What I mean is, maybe the humans are becoming more…able." Cupid said for lack of a better word. "Think about it, mother. If they are able to find love without guidance from the very source, then maybe they can figure other things out for themselves too? What if they don't need us anymore?"
Aphrodite stood from her chaise. It no longer felt comforting to her. Even her son's own reassuring touch felt as cold and stony the fear that had settled in the pit of her stomach. She walked to the window and looked out, watching the mortals as they passed without as much as a glance in the direction of her temple. It irked her to think that what Cupid had said had some truth in it though she didn't want to admit it.
Over the past decade she'd felt the prayers and wishes from the mortals dwindling and becoming less and far in between. It seemed to Aphrodite that the mortals were becoming less interested in asking for her help and guidance and chose venturing out to look for love themselves. She hadn't thought that there was any harm as they were still finding love and thus empowering her, but the lack of work had worried her and made her feel unimportant and…needless.
What if they don't need us anymore?
Cupid frowned. He wanted to hit himself. Why did he have to mention the prophecy? It always threw every god and goddess he mentioned it too into a panic. He should've known to keep him mouth shut instead of bringing it up to his mother. Despite her ostentatious persona he knew she was just as sensitive as any other woman, mortal or immortal, that he'd come across. But despite his regret over mentioning it, he couldn't help but think of it. It was prophesised by the fates that there would come a time where the gods would no longer be needed. What if the time was drawing closer quicker than any of them realized?
Even if it were true then it didn't matter to Cupid. He knew that he would continue doing his job, right up until the last moment where he would pierce a heart with his arrow of everlasting and eternal love to ensure that love, in its most pure and truest form still existed in the world.
He rose to his feet, straightening out beside his mother. "Mom?"
Aphrodite looked up at her son and was surprised to see happiness and amusement in his eyes. She couldn't help but smile. "What are you so happy about, Cupie?"
"C'mon mom, please, I'm not a toddler anymore. Its Cupid, not Cupie!" he supressed the need to frown at his mother's pet name for him as a baby and put his hand on her shoulder. "I wanted to talk about the reason I came here."
Aphrodite had almost forgotten that her son had turned up for a reason. She had to admit that she was intrigued. He hardly visited unless he really needed to or each needed a favour from the other.
She moved away from the window and instead went to investigate the altar and started looking amongst the presentation of gifts and tributes left to her by her most devoted of followers and believers. She grabbed a handful of grapes and popped one into her mouth. "Shoot." She said.
Cupid rubbed the back of his neck uneasily. "That's the thing. I can't."
Aphrodite raised a perfect eyebrow at him. "What do you mean?"
"Well you already know about the two king's pretend war and the wanted secret love? Well you can understand my frustration over hearing that I'd been unintentionally duped. I used all my arrows and…well, I accidentally broke my bow." He finished quietly, looking away.
Aphrodite almost choked on the grape she had in her mouth. She grabbed a goblet and quickly filled it with wine. "What?" she rasped after taking a generous drink. "You broke your…how can you? How is that even possible? The bow was created for you by Hephaestus. How could you break it?"
Cupid stomped his foot, feeling very much like a child being told off. "Look, it was an accident, okay? I didn't mean to do it. Here, look," he lifted his hand in front of him and Cupid's bow appeared in the air before them. He grabbed it and laid it in both his hands.
Aphrodite looked over the bow, and despite that she was angry that he'd broken it, she was impressed that he'd even been able to seriously damage one of Hephaestus's weapons. She could imagine the look on his face when he finds out. He'd boasted the talent of forging the most powerful, indestructible weapons known in existence. It would do him good to be taken down a peg by his own shoddy work.
The bow itself looked in pitiful shape. It looked as though it had been run over by Zeus if he were able to transform into centaur and then throw a handful of his lightning bolts at it just for good measure. The string had come out completely and was hanging on at one end as a bent thread; the grip looked as though it had been squeezed so hard that there were finger moulds in the decorated gold, and one of the ends had snapped completely off, leaving a clean break.
"Yikes, Cupid. What happened to make it look so beat up?"
Cupid rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously. He didn't know how much to say to his mother. He didn't even know what had happened himself. He shrugged. "I have no idea. One moment it was working, I was doing my job, and then the next – SNAP! The end came off and it felt as though the gold was melting in my grip."
In truth the experience had frightened Cupid a little. The bow had been his constant companion through his job. And now, looking down on the twisted and broken metal, he couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness knowing that he was the cause of its bad shape. He could remember still feeling irritated about not knowing the king's secret plot and later, whilst he'd been trying to take aim at a teenager who'd felt the spark of attraction for a girl on the farm he'd been working on, his arrow had shot off in a different direction and he'd just lost his temper. Everything had started going downhill from there.
Aphrodite couldn't tell what her son as thinking about but she could tell however from his dark expression that he wasn't happy. She rested her hand on her son's shoulder and squeezed it gently to get his attention. He snapped out of it and looked up at his mother, his light brown eyes expectant.
"Cupid, it'll be fine, alright? Just go and tell Hephaestus to forge you another one. Maybe he'll make you another. I mean c'mon, that bow was over a thousand years old. Maybe he has stronger metal….erm, stuff now to make you another? It shouldn't break."
Cupid smiled. "Yeah, I'll go and make sure he's not too busy first. You know how he can be. Thank you mother." He said to his mother over his shoulder as he left.
Aphrodite nodded, happy that she'd been able to help her son. She went and sat on the edge of her chaise again. She suddenly felt exhausted and couldn't understand why. She realized that she wasn't really as used to work as she used to be, but she quickly attempted to think of something else because it just reminded her of the depressing thought of not being needed.
She looked around her temple. It was too quiet. She always liked the quiet, when she wasn't too busy with her entertainment. But something about being in the temple by herself today just made it feel strange. She shook off the weird ominous feeling and lay back against her chaise once again, closing her eyes to attempt to get some sleep. Gods, she knew she hadn't had any last night.
~ X ~
Cupid half jogged down the steps leading to the forges of lower Olympus. He very rarely came to these parts. Not only because the forges were horrendously loud, but also because it was too close to Hades and the Underworld. Just thinking about the Underworld made his skin crawl. He couldn't imagine trading his job with Hades. He wouldn't be able to cope with it. To go from seeing love every day to watching people enter a place of eternal rest, knowing that they couldn't love just made his heart sad.
He turned until he reached a balcony overlooking the Olympian forges. Without needing to look, Cupid spotted Hephaestus working away at a giant anvil; lifting a massive hammer over his head and bringing it down hard against the metal, sending orange sparks everywhere.
"Hephaestus!" Cupid cried over the roar of the lively forges. Nearby, a lava geyser burst, spitting globs of lava into the air. Cupid leaned back and watched as the globs dropped to the sand and cooled almost immediately into a type of red rock that looked almost like a ruby or a diamond.
He began to descend the staircase. It seemed out of place to have a black tiled staircase in the middle of a blacksmith's but Cupid had heard that he'd requested it because of his deformity. Unlike the other gods, he lacked the ability to fly and hardly transported anywhere by using his powers. Cupid knew Hephaestus and apart from his own mother, considered him the most human of all of the Olympian gods, excluding Hercules who actually was half human and half god. He'd observed him over the years using tools and walking and talking the way that mortals did. He came to the conclusion that it had been the result of his banishment; lack of being around other godly individuals and spending his time forging had caused him to lose more and more of his godly prose over time.
Cupid put his hands together, cupping them around his mouth. "Hephaestus!" he shouted.
Hephaestus lifted the hammer again, swinging down against the metal to smash it as hard as he could. More sparks flew as the metal crashed against metal and almost engulfed him in an orange wave. He lifted his hand to shield his eyes, waiting until they'd gone before he double handed his hammer and lifted it again.
Hephaestus's ears pricked up suddenly. He thought he heard something over all the roaring of the fires and forges. He shook his head. It was probably the geyser, he reasoned. Nobody came down to the forges to see him. Why would they? After Hera banished him, most of the other gods and goddesses didn't even consider him a god anymore, just their blacksmith. Over the years the only one that visited him regularly was Zeus and that was only when he needed more lightning bolts. Since he'd recently been down, Hephaestus deduced that he was just hearing things.
Was he finally going crazy? After all this time working by himself, was he only just starting to hear things? Was his mind finally going? He didn't care if it was or not. He spent every waking moment in lower Olympia, working at the forges. As long as he was deemed fit enough to do his job, that's what he'd do until the end of existence. Seeing as he was immortal, he found he'd be doing the job for quite a while. He didn't care. It was what he was best at.
He gritted his teeth as he lifted the mighty hammer over his shoulders, over his head and crashed it down with such a force that even he felt the floor move under his feet. He was impressed with himself. Not only had his skill improved with centuries of practice, but he was extremely close to finishing the repair plates for his chariot.
Hephaestus started, dropping the hammer in mid strike. It fell near the anvil, its head burying deep into the sand. He turned, an insult and a planned list of profanities at the ready for whomever had disturbed him, but they all fell died on his tongue when he saw Aphrodite's winged boy standing before him, a nervous smile planted on his face.
"Cupid?" finally overcoming the show of seeing him, Hephaestus moved forward and pulled the boy into his arms, squeezing him in a bear hug.
Cupid felt his eyes were going to pop out of his skull if Hephaestus didn't let him go soon. He wriggled until he felt the metallurgist loosen his grip and finally let him go. "Yeah it's me."
Hephaestus clapped his hand heavily on Cupid's back, almost winding him. "What brings you down here, boy? You hardly ever visit the forges of Hephaestus anymore. Finally gotten bored of flying around and shooting people with those arrows, huh?"
Hephaestus laughed out loud at his own little joke. He'd always thought Cupid's job to be ridiculous for a man of his stature and position. He'd always believed that he should have been made to work with him in the forges, or at least a given a different job seeing as the forges were his own punishment; a punishment he knew was his own to bear for being born deformed.
He watched, intrigued, as the boy brushed his hand through his hair and then rubbed the back of his neck. He knew that gesture. He'd known Cupid since he was a little cherub so he knew when he had something to say. More especially when he had something that he really didn't want to tell.
"Well, the thing it, Heph…" Cupid trailed off, really not wanting to mention the broken bow to his friend. But he had to. He couldn't do his job otherwise. He couldn't allow the world to go on without love just because he didn't want to admit that he broke his bow.
He lifted his hand out in front of him and the broken bow materialized in his hands. He held it carefully as Hephaestus looked over it, all the while watching his friend's face for any sign of anger.
Hephaestus couldn't believe his eyes as he looked over the bow. It had snapped at one end and when he reached out to take it from Cupid, he felt his fingers slide into what looked like a mould of a hand around the grip. He turned it this way and that, trying to figure out how it could have happened. It was unheard of for his work to break, be it under duress of either mortal or immortal or some other force. He himself was the only one he knew that could remould his weapons or shape metal into whatever he wished. To think that there was someone else out there with the power to bend metal they way he could was worrying.
He felt Cupid's eyes on him and looked up to see a worried expression on the boy's face. He pointed to the broken bow. "How did this happen? Who broke it?"
Cupid bit his lip. "I did. But it was an accident, Heph. I didn't do it on purpose, I swear." He squirmed uneasily under the scrutinizing look that Hephaestus's was giving him.
Hephaestus didn't need to see to know that his own eyes were bugged out. He tried to maintain his composure and turned his face to look at his hammer still buried in the sand. "That's impossible." He muttered mostly to himself.
Cupid noticed the strange look that passed over his friend's features but he didn't press him for an explanation. Hephaestus wasn't like Aphrodite or Cupid; he wasn't one that could easily express his feelings or voiced his thoughts. He usually worked things out quietly to himself. Cupid often found him deep in thought during one of his breaks. He could see that now was not an exception. Cupid could tell that his friend was deep in thought. His dark eyes had a faraway look that told everybody else that he wanted to be alone.
He could take a hint.
Cupid patted Hephaestus's shoulder lightly. "Hey, do you think you could make me a replacement bow? The world isn't absent of love yet, but if I don't get back to work soon things will slowly turn to chaos." He chuckled.
Hephaestus looked up suddenly. He'd nearly forgotten that he still had company. "Oh, aye, boy, I'll get right on a replacement. It should be done in a week. Two at the most."
Cupid felt his mouth open. "Two weeks? Can't you make it sooner? In two weeks the mortal realm could become a feeding ground for sin and debauchery!"
Being banished to the forges made it hard for him to keep his cool, but Hephaestus rarely allowed himself to lose his temper with the boy. He was one of the few he reserved his temper with because he genuinely cared for him. But his mind was in too much of a whirl to think straight and he turned, red faced to glare at Cupid.
"Creating godly weapons takes time boy!" Hephaestus snapped. "If you think you can do any better then go ahead and try. If not then you have two weeks. You'll just have to find another way to keep love present in the world until you get your bow."
Cupid backed away slightly, confused about his friends sudden outburst. "I'm sorry, Hephaestus. I didn't mean to make you angry. It really was an accident." He said quietly. He smiled gently when he saw Hephaestus's frown fade and his expression returned to normal. "Don't worry about the bow; take your time to make it perfect for me."
Hephaestus felt bad for snapping at the boy, but he couldn't help it. It had just risen out of nowhere. He looked up at Cupid. "What are you going to do until I'm finished?"
Cupid crossed his arms and reached up with one hand to scratch his stubble in thought. There was one thing that he could think of though he didn't like the idea. But he couldn't be picky and he hardly had any other choices.
He sighed wearily. "I'll have to talk to my mother."
~ X ~
Aphrodite yawned and stretched, extending her body along the chaise. She always liked a good nap, no matter how short it was. She blinked furiously, lifting her hand to cover her eyes when a strange blinding light flickered through one of the temple windows. Annoyed, she turned over to try and get comfortable again but her attempt was to no avail. Now she was awake she found it difficult to relax again. Defeated, Aphrodite forced herself from the comfort of the chaise and started walking around the temple.
Her eyes drifted around the interior, over the furniture, the art hanging from the walls, the statues made to honour her. Aphrodite approached the statue closest to her and examined it closely. Her likeness had been carved into the smooth marble; the lines of her face and slender neck close to real life. She couldn't help but feel a mix of amusement and rapture when she looked over her chest and saw that whoever had crafted the statue had been overly generous. She stood beside it and cupped her own breasts and then the statue's to compare sizes.
"Hmm. Not far off." She mused with a smile.
She continued looking around the temple and saw a mirror close by. Sparing a couple of seconds, she straightened out her curls, readjusted her filmy robe and checked her reflection, making sure to look really close to make sure she wasn't getting any bags under her eyes.
Aphrodite straightened when she felt his approach. She turned with a hopeful smile on her face. "So? What did he say?"
Aphrodite thought her son looked worn out. She didn't know how long she'd been asleep, but from the look on his face she could've guessed that she'd been asleep for a while. Cupid didn't look altogether happy, which made her panic.
"He said he can make me another bow."
Aphrodite waited, as if expecting something else. She gestured with her hands. "And?" she prompted.
"Yeah, he said it could be finished in two weeks."
"But Cupid, that's too long! The world could turn inside out if you don't get your butt down there and shoot the mortals. Y'know, with your arrows."
"I know which brings up the subject of my job. Mom?" he rubbed a hand down his face, dreading asking the question. His mother was known all over for creating love. Apart from him, no one else knew love better than Aphrodite. He shouldn't be afraid but he was. He knew that his mother sometimes got lost and started playing with love, creating unwarranted circumstances and unnecessary difficulties and problems.
Aphrodite noticed her son's hesitation. He just stood there, his light brown eyes doubtful. "What is it Cupid? Why do you keep looking at me as though I'm going to explode?" Aphrodite suddenly brought her hands to her hips, sizing herself up; she inspected her physique self-consciously in the mirror. "Do you think I'm getting fat or something?"
Cupid rolled his eyes at his mother's vanity. "No, mom. I need your help."
Forgetting her reflection, she turned until she faced her son instead. "Ex-squeeze me? You never ask for my help. It must be serious if it looks as though its causing you physical pain to ask me. Flattered by the way that you think I'm going to screw it up before I've even started. Typical…"
"Whoa, whoa, what are you blaming me for? I haven't said anything yet." Aphrodite waited with her hands on her hips. He sighed. There was no way out of it. He had to admit that he needed the Goddess of Love, metaphorical warts and all. "Mom, I need your help until I get my bow. I have backup resources; mini shooters and such, but I'll need you to help me spread and amplify the love for it to be effective."
Aphrodite turned towards the window where the blinking light was flashing through again. She was tired of having nothing to do. Tired of feeling unwanted. Helping Cupid wouldn't just be helping the mortals with their love problems. It would be helping her out of her work drought.
She smiled broadly, practically buzzing with the excitement when she thought of the opportunities that working with her son, Cupid; God of Desire would present themselves when mixed with the powers of the Goddess of Love.
She turned to her son. "Sign me up, Cupie!"
Thank you for reading. Please review if you can. Constructive critisism is welcome.