AresJoxerCupidStrife - Annuette




Ficlet: Break true
Author: Ann
Fandom: Hercules/Xena ‘verse
Pairing/character: Cupid/Psyche, Cupid/Strife
Warnings: Angst, mentions of slash and het
Rating: PG
Sequel to Break Even

Summary: Left alone, with little to no company and only her own thoughts and fantasies to occupy her time, the times she had spent not crying or infuriated, she had spent analyzing and thinking: fantasizing about Cupid crawling back to her, about holding everything he loved from him--their baby--to punish him as he had unwillingly done to her.

Thanks to ravenlullaby for the great beta and prompting!

There was no ‘we’, not anymore.

Not since Psyche had felt the first stirrings of the baby she carried within her; its first kicks should have been a joyous occasion but soon after she felt them her powers had begun to change. The godly gifts she had been struggling to learn to use had become more erratic and uncertain. Hera had assured her it was the baby attempting to use its godhood, the goddess had tried to convince Psyche to share the news with Cupid, but Psyche hadn’t wanted to bother him, her husband was distracted and distant of late, immersed in his work-or so he said.

Psyche knew better.

She had felt something was wrong herself; the worry, the gnawing churn in her stomach and ache in her heart all told her, despite Cupid‘s reassurances, that things weren‘t the same anymore. At first she had tried to hide from it, tried to push what she felt aside and believe Cupid and Hera who had reassured her that it had to just be her pregnancy causing flights of fancy and paranoia. She couldn’t hide from it any longer, though. She’d known that something was wrong between them from the moment Cupid had become distracted. Her godhood was centered around the mind: around emotions and manipulation of them. New as she was to it, to being a goddess, how had Cupid thought to hide how torn he was within?

He was cheating on her.

That she hadn’t guessed; Psyche had thought maybe Cupid had grown bored of her, unhappy at being tied into a marriage for eternity while the other Gods and Goddesses enjoyed brief affairs with each other and mortals. She had never doubted that he wanted the baby, he made his love for it clear enough. In fact his obvious affection for their child only enhanced the lack of love she felt from him. He didn’t love her anymore, he loved someone else.

Strife

Olympus was a place of gossip and even though the deities tended not to mix with her, given her new status and recent mortal lifestyle, that didn’t mean they completely held their tongues when she was around. More often than not, Psyche had heard a malicious whisper about herself, about her once mortal status, but now they’d changed to sneering comments or even pitying ones about her marriage. She had heard Strife’s name mentioned many a time and had, over the months since Cupid had changed, managed to piece together just what had happened between them. To find out just what had gone wrong and sent Cupid into her arms, if only for a brief time.

Psyche had hoped that she misheard or that perhaps Strife was a one time mistake. But she had listened, she had kept quiet and let them forget she was there close by and she had learnt the truth.

She was the mistake.

The popular consensus, despite how much some of the deities seemed to revile Strife, was that Cupid and Strife were the better couple and that she was the interloper.

The truth had sickened her. She had raged, cried and hurt over it and throughout all, Cupid had barely been around. He hadn‘t even noticed, or worse hadn’t cared enough too even to appease his own guilt. She had grieved the loss of her husband and her marriage and held the child within her close, promising all her affection to it. She hoped for a girl; hoped she could see more of herself than of Cupid in the baby when it came. She didn’t want the reminder every time she looked at her baby, she didn’t want to see what she had lost every day of her life.

Psyche’s hands shook as she curled them around her hairbrush which she held tightly in her lap, just underneath her rounded belly. It wouldn’t be long now before the baby came. Perhaps not even one more moon, Asclepius believed. She wondered whether things would change when the baby came whether Cupid would see his family and rush back over, filled with apologies and love. She hoped it would be so and still wished for it to be true but she doubted it would happen; much as she hated herself for it, she knew she would accept the apologies and that she’d forget all this heartache and worry for just one more chance.

She forced herself to ignore such illusions.

She could have made Cupid be faithful, to admit the truth and stay by her side. Not with the powers she had been given but with tears and manipulations, by going to Hera and demanding that her cheating spouse and his lover be punished. Hera had been burnt enough by Zeus, from what legends mortals told and what gossip flew around Olympus and Psyche knew she would be sympathetic and would force Cupid to stay faithful to her. Though what tactics Hera would use, Psyche was unsure.

Psyche knew she could have even used their baby. She couldn’t deny that the thought had crossed her mind. Left alone, with little to no company and only her own thoughts and fantasies to occupy her time, the times she had spent not crying or infuriated, she had spent analyzing and thinking: fantasizing about Cupid crawling back to her, about holding everything he loved from him--their baby--to punish him as he had unwillingly done to her.

She hated him now and yet she loved him too.

Psyche felt Cupid before he flashed into the room. She saw the glow of happiness around him, his half smile which faded as he saw her and was forced back into place as he attempted to play at normality. He didn’t hate her; she couldn’t sense any kind of dislike for her coming from him despite the mistake that had brought them together. She couldn’t sense anything from Cupid anymore; no love and lust, no affection and happiness when he was with her.

Just nothing.

She started as he placed a hand on her shoulder and rubbed it lightly; she looked up, her breath caught, hope flaring briefly but dashed all too quickly when she his reluctance and the effort it took to play at being affectionate. For a moment she hated him again--he wanted to scream at him and lash out with everything she had. To hit and hurt and tear him up inside as he was doing to her by faking his affection, trying to assure her of nothing.

The polite affection was worst than indifference or revulsion. Cupid was too polite, too formal as he picked up her brush and stroked her hair. An overly familiar motion which Psyche had once loved soured by the obvious lack of emotion felt by her husband.

“You okay, babe?”

She hated the endearing word, hated that she had to swallow back a sob as he leant forward with concern and regret in his eyes. Psyche could see the self-loathing, see it eat Cupid up inside as much as it did to her, and she looked away-- she couldn’t do this. She didn’t deserve this.

Neither of them did.

Cupid wouldn’t let her go and she doubted he would let Strife go either. If he did, if the mischief god were to leave or break away from Cupid, Psyche believed she may have stood a chance at keeping her husband but whilst Strife was alive, Cupid would never be hers; his body and his heart, they’d belong to someone else.

She didn’t deserve to have to settle for that; to live under the false hope and raise their child within a fake family. If it hadn’t been Strife, it may only have been another. Psyche remembered the rush of glee she’d once felt believing Cupid was in love with her, even believing Hercules was in love with her. She didn’t want to have to give up that feeling, by hoping for something that would never happen.

If love couldn’t pretend to love you, how could it really?

As Cupid wandered into their bedroom Psyche felt the baby kick at her stomach and the memory of that happiness she had felt, that she deserved to find again, suffused her. It strengthened her and she did the only thing she could do, what was right for her, Cupid and the baby. The one thing Cupid was unwilling to do, she flashed to Hera and respectfully asked that her and Cupid’s marriage be dissolved.



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