Hephaestus TV was doomed.
That was all there was to it. Ratings would plummet all the way to the pits of Tartarus, angry fanmail would start flooding in any minute now, Olympus would be in an uproar over the new episode, and it would probably have to be canceled due to lack of support.
Hephaestus sighed and sunk back into his chair, already feeling a headache coming on. All those years to get his TV show to where it was now, completely flushed down the drain. Was it worth it? Possibly not. Hephaestus was not nearly as understanding of godly nature as well as mechanics (and human for that matter), but he knew the other Olympians well enough to foresee that their thick skulls wouldn't get the message. Wouldn't sympathize with what the lad had said.
No wonder Kronos mistook a boulder for Zeus, Hephaestus mused, fiddling with scrap from a dismantled automan. Olympus, Zeus's head was heard. Hephaestus had to use his own hammer to crack that skull—
The flutter of wings distracted him from his train of thought, and the god didn't need to glance up to know who was there. And why.
"Hephaestus," the newcomer greeted but his normally easy, carefree tone was tense and guarded.
"Hermes." Hephaestus squinted up at him. "Have my supplies arrived so soon?" he asked, trying to stall because, Gaea, he was not looking forward to the next few hours.
Hermes smiled, but it was nowhere near even reaching his eyes. "I'm afraid not, Hephaestus. I'm here on a different matter of business."
The crippled god sighed tiredly and snuffed out a flame in his beard, nodding. "Of course, you are," he mumbled.
Hermes straightened a little. "Father has called a meeting. He requests your presence on Olympus along with the rest of the Council." Something flickered in his blue eyes, and Hermes's jaw locked. "'Percy's Birthday' was quite an episode, Hephaestus."
Tense would be a cute and laughably misleading word to describe the mood in the renovated Hall of the Gods. The air crackled and swirled and darkened, and even up on Olympus, Hephaestus could feel at least a dozen natural disasters brewing.
As the owner of Hepheastus TV made his way to his La-Z-Boy throne, he studied each of the Council members' faces. Dionysus appeared bored, constantly swishing his glass of water (no doubt, originally meant to be wine) around in circles but when violet eyes met Hephaestus's, a look of mild interest flashed across his face. The same reaction could be said for Ares.
Hera was watching him coolly, like a bug she couldn't wait to squish, and Hephaestus scowled at her. Aphrodite was wearing her typical stormy grey eyes for him, but she continued to bite her lip when she thought no one was looking and her normally complacent smile was…off. Somehow.
Even Hades had received summons. The god of the dead sat in his new, black throne, eyes and face drawn back and long, slender fingers drumming on the armrest. Demeter's lips were pursed, her brows wrinkled in slight confusion, and Hephaestus had to remind himself that she wouldn't know what in Tartarus was happening because the goddess didn't even watch TV. Something about how unhealthy it was.
Hephaestus settled into his chair, continuing to watch the others. Zeus still appeared to be searching for words anyways. Hermes had put Martha and George on silent and, for once in a long time, seemed to be focused solely on what anyone else had to say. Artemis's silver eyes had an odd glint to them, and Hephaestus found that if he looked closely at Apollo's, his golden ones would match. Athena's face was completely unreadable, as smooth as marble and just as cold. Poseidon's was the perfect opposite and without a doubt, the most expressive out of all them.
The sea god's eyes were a dark, terrifying shade of green, his knuckles were white from either gripping his armrest or trident, and Hephaestus could hear his teeth grinding. Anger flowed off of Poseidon in waves, and the younger god couldn't keep eye contact for more than a few seconds.
"Hephaestus," Zeus started, and the god of forges couldn't decipher the tone of his father's voice. Frankly, Hephaestus couldn't guess what any of them were really thinking – minus Poseidon of course. Even for someone as unpredictable as him, the sea god was an open book when it came to his favorite son (it was only a rumor, but Hephaestus wouldn't past him. Poseidon was oddly attached to the boy.)
Zeus opened his mouth to speak again, but his eyes moved away for a second in order to address the entire Council. "My thanks to each of you for attending. I am aware of how untimely and sudden my summons are." He straightened in his throne. "However," he continued, eyes darkening further into a rainy grey, "I fear we have important matters to discuss."
"Zeus?" Demeter prodded when her brother didn't continue right away.
Zeus's eyes bore into the blacksmith's. "Matters concerning Hephaestus TV." His hands curled into fists. "For the sake of those who have not viewed your latest episode, will you be so kind as to replay it for us, Hephaestus?"
The Hall was deadly silent, the only sounds being made were the crackling of Hestia's fire and the grinding of Poseidon's teeth. Gods either leaned back into their thrones or sat on the edge stiffly, and Hephaestus mentally prepared himself for the arguments to come.
Zeus's eyes were a bright, electric blue humming with energy. "This is horrendous," he stated gravely, not quite losing his temper but not quite keeping it either. "An utter embarrassment. I do hope you will be removing it from your channel, Hephaestus."
The god closed his eyes briefly and breathed out. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't. "Percy's Birthday" was out for all of Olympus to watch now, no take backs. The only person who could possibly stop it now would be Hermes, and even then it'd be too late.
Hephastus shrugged his uneven shoulders, huffing. "I don't see what's wrong with it," he said gruffly. "Half of my show thrives on controversy. Aphrodite and Ares's affairs, Hades and Persephone's marriage, rumors of Demeter's cereal not being organic, conspiracies…" He glanced at the eldest gods quickly. "…Big Three gossip."
Grey eyes narrowed. "This is different," Athena said icily. "This is seeing Percy at his weakest, exposing to all of Olympus both his wavering loyalties…and crumbling sanity."
Poseidon glowered at her, but Athena continued before he could speak. "In exactly forty-two minutes, you have completely destroyed what faith and security Olympus found in Percy Jackson. What if there's another war? Percy said so himself, there's always another enemy. What can Olympus look to for hope now?" She clasped her hands together. "What did you hope to gain in showing the world that the Hero of Olympus is not the perfect hero any longer?"
Hermes stared at Athena with a disbelieving look, and he pointed at her with a trembling finger. "That," he started tightly. "You watched the same exact thing I did, and that is what worries you?" Hermes's playful eyes were serious now and just looking into them sent chills down Hephaestus's back.
"Show some compassion," Hermes hissed. "You just saw a seventeen year-old demigod, one you owe your life to, almost kill himself, and you worry about how it will – strategically – affect people?"
Artemis raised her chin imploringly. "What about him, Athena?"
Hephaestus could practically see the gears in Athena's head moving, working out a way to get out of the hot seat. But before she even spoke, Ares threw his hands up. "The kid's not dead. Isn't that all that really matters here?"
Although Ares was siding with her, Athena wrinkled her nose in distaste. "This isn't a matter of just bloodbath, fool. It affects morale, politics, unity" – she shook her head in disgust – "Percy was practically the Hercules of this generation. Now everything has changed due to one gun, Hephaestus TV, and a broken war hero."
Too late, Athena seemed to have realized her mistake. Poseidon rammed the butt of his trident into the ground. "You forget that my son did not choose to be one of the Fates' chess pieces. He did not intend to become an icon. Twice he was dragged into a war. And what thanks has my son gotten?" He sea green eyes held each of their gazes boldly, fury bubbling just below the surface. "What thanks have you given any of your children?"
The Council shifted in their thrones and traded looks. Wherever this was going, it was clear that none of them would enjoy it.
Poseidon stared at Apollo and Aphrodite. "Hal saved a girl using his gift of prophecy, and you punished him. You destroyed his life for being a hero."
Hephaestus stiffened at that and looked on as Apollo, slipped off his sunglasses, normally sky blue eyes a darker tint and face oddly serious. Hephaestus had to remind himself that yes, although his half-brother was immature and rarely took anything seriously other than whatever boy band was popular nowadays, Apollo was still a god. No amount of ridiculous haikus or teeth whitening strips could change that.
Accusations flew out of Poseidon's mouth as he turned to Dionysus, and Hephaestus remembered just how easily riled the old sea god could get. Funny, he had honestly thought Poseidon was mellowing out. Pity.
"You lived at Camp Half-Blood," Poseidon said. "You had a luxury none of us had, but you didn't even care about Castor until he died."
Dionysus smiled tightly, violet eyes flashing. "I wouldn't point fingers so quickly, Uncle," he drawled. "After all, you only claimed Peter because you were getting desperate. Running out of options. He wasn't anything more than a pawn to you at that point, and only after he retrieved Hades's helm and Zeus's bolt did you even acknowledge him as a son."
Poseidon opened his mouth to counter the wine god's word, but found with a sickening, guilty admittance that his nephew was right. Instead, he took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair. The other Olympians watched quietly as the sea god slowly and eerily calmed himself. "I admit my wrongdoing. But I do not regret my words," he said finality.
Martha and George slithered along Hermes's iPhone, hissing things only their master could hear, and Hermes nodded almost imperceptibly. "Nor should you," Hermes said to Poseidon. He stared down at his winged feet. "We've ignored our children for far too long."
Aphrodite swallowed but didn't lose her composure. "I wasn't aware that Piper…had I known…"
Hermes nodded again. "My point exactly. Each of our children have suffered at one point." He gave Poseidon an open, completely understanding look. "Some more than others. And although we can't always be there for our children and help them, we could've spared Percy some of his troubles." A small smile played at Hermes's lips, he gave Hephaestus a sidelong glance. "To answer your question from earlier, Athena, I believe Hephaestus aired it in order to get a point across."
A few threw him a questioning look.
"You needed to hear it," Hephaestus said, crossing his arms. "You wouldn't've listened to me, but to the lad…" He tilted his head. "Well, as I recall, he's managed to sway the Council on more than a few occasions."
Hermes took over again, bringing them back to the matter at hand. "I can't say anything about spending more time with our children and bonding with them. Gaea knows I can't tell you how to aren't them, but I do expect your children to move out of my cabin by tonight."
From his dark throne, Hades finally spoke. "I agree with Hermes and Hephaestus. And Poseidon, I suppose," he added as an afterthought. Others nodded in union, even Athena herself couldn't help but be swayed. A feat Hephaestus would have to applaud later because Hades was looking at Zeus, his dark eyes challenging. "Well, brother, what is your verdict?"
Zeus pursed his lips, clearly not appreciating Hades's tone of voice or Poseidon's watchful gaze, but nevertheless, he said solemnly, "We made an oath. A reward Percy Jackson paid for with much effort and sacrifice, and we are honor bound to keep it."
"And what of the children?" Hera asked.
"Father," Athena started, "we cannot come at their every beck and call. Heroes must make their own paths and fight their own battles. It is what makes them stronger, wiser. If we coddle them whenever they stub a toe or suffer mistreatment in the mortal world, then we've already broken them."
Although reluctant, the Olympians didn't make any move to argue. Athena's words rang true. Despite all of Chiron's training and godly blood running through each of their children's veins, it ultimately wired down to the half-bloods whether they became heroes…or not.
"Understood," Zeus said slowly, weighing his daughter's words. He shared a secret look with each of his brothers that was too quick and guarded for Hephaestus to decipher. "But that does not restrain us from watching. It never has."
There was so much to do. So much hate mail to rifle through, so many things to repair, so any duties to attend to, but Hephaestus and the other Olympians didn't leave. Martha and George remained on silent, Apollo's iPod and Aphrodite's mirror lay unused on their armrests, Dionysus's wine magazine was folded up and tossed over his shoulder, and even Ares had put his sword away, though he glared at anyone who gave him questioning looks and told them to stop staring or else he'd take it right back out and do something he wouldn't regret. But no one bothered to call him out on his bluff. No one even bothered to say anything.
For once in a long, long, long time, the fourteen most powerful beings sat together in silence, no petty quarrels to be had or serious matters to be discussed. They all sat diligently, watching Camp Half-Blood from above, even the ones without children because.
Percy Jackson, Hephaestus mused. Lad's constantly altering customs and laws up here. Though I can't complain. His pressed his lips together in thought as he watched Leo light his hair on fire, eliciting a surprised laugh from a girl with dark hair. You might just make us a family yet.
(Cautiously glancing to his left and right, Hephaestus shut his eyes and claimed his two children.)
I wasn't planning on making this, but since you all asked so nicely, I couldn't resist.
Posting my next story might be a little slow because I don't have any of Rick Riordan's books to compare to so I can make sure my fanfics aren't clashing with his plot, and I'm working on my own story and doing school, but I'll try to finish writing the first chapter of "Accidental Heartbreaks." It'll be focusing on Rachel, Reyna, and Calypso (probably Annabeth too) and how they each fell for Percy.
Thanks for reading.