They all just sat there in thought for a while when Aphrodite suddenly sat up straight and looked at where Joxer was talking to Jett. She caught Joxer's eye and flicked a glance to Jett. He looked confused for a second then smiled and gave a small nod. "Make sure to say Bliss thought it was a good idea. That should get them both onboard if they try to object to it."
"Dite, gorgeous goddess of my heart, what are you two talking about?"
"Hephy, we have come up with a brilliant plan to get Cupid and Strife together. . . Though . . . Jett you are interested in getting to know Phonos better right?"
Jett gave an out of character squeak, paled and put his head back between his knees. Joxer grinned and Ares said, "I believe that was a yes." There was a muffled squeak from the vicinity of Jett's knees.
"That could work," Ares said thoughtfully. "I had mentioned the possibility to Strife earlier. Neither one of them thinks that I know about their feelings so if I tell them to do it they'll complain but do it anyway."
The next morning Joxer took Jett out to show him around Olympus so Ares decided to put the plan in motion. He called the two gods in question to appear before him; they tried to make excuses to leave as soon as they realized who else was there. "Will you two please shut up?" Ares said in a quiet voice. "Now I've got a job for you two knuckleheads. I don't know what problems you have with each other and, frankly, I don't care. You will be working together. Are we clear on this?" Ares had been pacing in front of his throne but as he finished speaking he stopped and glared at the two fidgeting gods before him. He was met with two enthusiastic nods.
He sat on his throne and leaned forward. "I want you two to find out if the feelings between Jett and Phonos go deeper than admiration and if they do I want you to get them together. The natural way. Those two are so paranoid that it would throw everything off if they found out about any tampering."
"I'm not sure who would be scarier then," Cupid said pensively. "Phonos or Jett."
"You're right there Cuz . . . That would be a tough call."
"Jox is showing Jett around Olympus today. They were talking about dropping in on Heph and trying to get him to stop for lunch. You'll have to move a little carefully with Jett; this whole thing has him a little unsettled."
"I'll say . . . In less that a day he finds out that his brother is marrying a god and that the primary god he worships knows his name. If he'd been anyone else he'd still be in shock," Strife said.
"I have a war that needs looking after so I'll be on my way." Ares flashed out before either one could think of an objection. He also knew that if he stayed much longer Strife would start to clue it to the fact that he was being set up.
"Well," said Cupid. "I guess we need a plan of action. Did you want to come to my place so we can get started?" The God of Love held his breath as he waited. He hoped he hadn't sounded nervous when he said that.
Strife paused. He wasn't sure he'd be able to control himself but it wasn't often that his uncle asked him to do these personal jobs for him; he'd just have to suck up and deal. "Sure Feathers. I suggest we start with Phonos though. That'd give Jett some time to adjust to the whole thing."
As they discussed it the two walked to Cupid's temple. Neither one wanted to lessen the time that they spent together on this; with both of their denial issues they didn't get to spend much time together. Each one was enjoying spending time with the other god and secretly hoping that it would last past what it took to complete Ares request.
"Strife," Cupid said as they sat down. "You know Phonos better than I do . . . how do you think he'd react if we just straight out asked him about his feelings for Jett? Then we could work with him to get them together."
"That could work. We can get Jox to feel his brother out on that front. Jett would be far more likely to talk to him about it than either one of us."
"Okay. So do we show up at Phon's and ask him or have him come here?"
"Go to Phon's. If we show up outside his place he'll feel like he has more control of the situation. That should make him more receptive to the whole topic; also we'll be less likely to end up stabbed, shot, etc."
"That hadn't occurred to me. Should we go today or wait a day or so to let Jett calm down?"
"Hmmm….I…" Strife never finished the thought as the god they were discussing flashed into the room. "Hey Phonos. We were just talking about you. Have a seat?"
The God of Murder flicked his eyes to Strife then back to Cupid as he gingerly sat on the edge of a sofa. "Dad asked us to find out your feelings for Joxer's brother Jett. He figured we could give you advice on how to get to know him better or even court him if that was what you wanted."
Phonos's head snapped towards Cupid so fast that his neck would have broken if he had been mortal. "Calm down Phonos . . . I promise I'll just give suggestions. That is if this is something that you want?"
"I went to see Hephaestus and Jett was there with his brother. When he saw me he made a funny noise and ran out. I think he's afraid of me. I don't want him to be afraid of me. . . ."
"We'll help with whatever you decide to do Phon," said Strife. "If it helps I'm pretty sure he's not afraid of you. I think he's just a little overwhelmed."
Both Cupid and Strife were surprised at the open and hopeful look Phonos had on his face as he said, "Really? You don't think he's afraid of me because of my godhood?"
"No Phonos," said Cupid gently. "It's not because of that. I mean this guy threatened Dad. I think it's because he wants your approval and isn't sure how to deal with the fact that you know who he is?"
"He likes me?" At the nods from the two gods sitting in front of him Phonos said, "I've always thought he did good work . . . and he looks good in black. I was never sure how to talk to him so I never openly approached him. Do you think he'd be upset if he found out I helped him every once in a while or sent jobs his way?"
"I don't think so," said Strife. "But let me talk to Joxer first. In fact I'll talk to him about it after dinner tonight. Why don't you come too Phonos? You're a member of the House of Aggression so you have a place at the table. It might help Jett get over his awe of you."
"I'll come too," said Cupid. "If you need help I'll be right there and it'll keep Dad off your back Strife; with me there he can't claim we're not trying to finish the job he gave us."
Strife had a faraway look on his face for a second then smiled, "Unc says he'll arrange it so that you sit next to Jett, Phonos. He suggests that you try talking to him."
After some more encouragement Phonos went off to finish his work for the day; Strife debated for a minute. Cupid hadn't told him to get lost yet so maybe he did have a chance. He'd love to explore that further but . . . "I have some things to do near Athens before dinner. I really should get going."
He noticed Cupid looking at him and wondered what it could mean. Strife was very surprised when Cupid said, "Mind if I tag along? I have a job to do in that area too and it's been ages since we spent any time together."
Strife blinked and nodded. He couldn't believe that the other god would willingly spend time with him. The God of Mischief decided to enjoy it while it lasted. Cupid slung an arm around his shoulders while saying, "Come on. Let's get started."
They reappeared outside of a stately manor just outside Athens; Strife looked around and said, "Hey. . . I have a job to do here. I'm supposed to cause the stable master enough problems that the lord of the manor has to departure for at least a day; more if possible."
"Really. I'm supposed to get the head maid to fall for the stable master. . . Maybe we can work together on this."
"Maybe. . . Did you have anything in mind?"
"Nothing definite. She already thinks he's attractive, but thinks he's a bit stuffy. I thought that if she had some errand or something that would take her out to the stables or if she saw him having difficulty and felt compelled to help him. . . I'd rather not do this with arrows if I can possibly help it."
"Hmmm. . . Is that her over there?" asked Strife as he pointed to a woman who was hanging out some linens.
"Yes. She likes to make sure the master's bed linens get washed properly so she does it herself."
"Does she have any background with horses?"
Cupid blinked and turned from his contemplation of the maid to look at his cousin. "Yes actually. Her father was the local animal healer. The only reason she's not one as well is that she didn't think anyone would trust a woman with their animals."
"Good. I can work with this. Cupe I'll need a little help from you. Here's the plan." Strife proceeded to fill Cupid in on the plan he had come up with. The more he heard of the plan the bigger Cupid's grin got.
By the time Strife had finished relating his plan to Cupid the grin was threatening to overwhelm his face and the God of Love was firmly telling himself that he could not molest his cousin on the job no matter how sexy he looked while plotting. He settled for draping an arm around Strife's shoulders and saying, "That's perfect. They'll have to acknowledge each other that way."
Strife could only nod as he was too busy enjoying having Cupid's arm around his shoulders.
Argon was brushing out Niger's coat. He quieted the lord's favorite stallion when he shifted restlessly. The stable master knew that he should hurry up and get Niger back to his stall but Lyta was hanging the master's linens at the moment. Argon sighed and wished he was as good with girls as he was with horses. He finished his task with a sigh and started to lead Niger to the stable; a nice girl like her would never want to talk to a guy like him anyway.
Lyta sighed as she looked across the courtyard to where Argon, the stable master, was brushing down the lord's favorite stallion. He was attractive and good at his job but he was so arrogant. Every time she'd talked to him he'd looked anywhere but at her; his answers were short and he left as soon as he could. He was the same with the other maids. Looking over at him she decided to give him one more chance; after that she'd set her sights elsewhere.
Lyta was startled out of her thoughts by some angry buzzing and a panicked equine scream. She looked up to see Argon frantically trying to calm Niger while attempting to shoo a large swarm of angry bees away and leading him to the stable at the same time; he wasn't having any luck whatsoever. Suddenly the rope on Niger's halter gave way and he bolted knocking Argon into a nearby puddle. Niger ran straight towards where Lyta was standing and she barely had time to scramble out of his way let alone try to save the laundry. As it was she tripped and fell getting out of the way.
Argon groaned internally; she'd never want to talk to him now. She probably thought he was an incompetent moron who didn't deserve his job. Maybe he should offer to help her with the laundry later. . . If he could actually get the words out when he was trying to talk to her this time. He stopped to help Lyta up before taking off after Niger again; he really hoped she hadn't noticed the blush under the mud on his face.
Argon didn't have that kind of luck because she had noticed. Blinking after him Lyta had a sudden realization. Argon wasn't arrogant. He was just almost terminally shy around girls. Well that changed everything; she looked down at the mud streak on her arm and the linens that were trampled on the ground. "Oh to Tartarus with it," she muttered. She proceeded to gather the laundry into the basket and dropped it at the laundry room. She's trust someone else to do it this time. Entering the still room she made a large batch of a salve that her father had taught her to make that would be good for bee stings and bruises.
Taking the finished salve she went towards the stables, confident that Argon would have returned with his charge by now. She found him talking to the lord of the manor. "I don't know what happened my lord. The bees just came out of nowhere. He has several bee stings and a slight strain but he should be alright in a day or so though."
"That's fine Argon. I have three days before I really have to leave so I can give you until then at the latest." As he turned he spotted Lyta approaching; "Ah Lyta, is that some of that wonderful salve of yours?"
"Yes sir," she said. "Argon it will work on your bee stings as well as Niger's. It's also good for bruises." She shifted a little nervously and added, "Would you like some help with him?"
Argon blinked at her and his cheeks colored. The lord of the manor noticed and smiled to himself. "Lyta why don't you help Argon with Niger and I have a proposition for you as well; for sometime now I have been considering getting an animal healer as a member of the permanent staff. I know you have the qualifications. I'll give you three days to think about it." The lord then turned and strolled back to the house. Being forced to delay his trip would be worth it if he could get those two together. He couldn't wait to tell he wife about this and that she was right. Those two were perfect for each other.
Nearby, yet unseen by the mortal eye, stood two gods. "Well Feathers that's my job done. Did you need to do anything else to get those two together?"
"They should be okay. I'll check on them in a few days to see how things are progressing." Cupid draped an arm around Strife and pulled him in for a hug. "Thanks for the help. This wouldn't have been nearly as easy or as fun if you hadn't been here." He then leaned in and gave Strife a kiss on the cheek without thinking about it. He froze as he pulled back. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that without permission. I'll just go…"
Strife grabbed him before he could go anywhere. "I think it's time that we sat and had a talk don't you? Why don't you come over to my place and we'll have a talk before dinner. After all we did promise Phonos that we would be there to provide back up."
Cupid nodded and let Strife flash them over to his temple. He took a seat on a rather comfy looking chair that had a really narrow back. It looked like the sort of chair he would make for himself. . . Oh. . . That would certainly explain a lot. Maybe that was what Strife wanted to talk about.
Strife had freaked out a little when he realized he'd forgotten to hide the chair first but then he realized that if this conversation went the way he was hoping there would no longer be a reason to hide it. He settled for saying, "Do you like the chair?"
"Yes. I'm going to go out on a limb and say something and I want you to let me finish before you stop me alright." Cupid waited for Strife's nod before continuing. "I've admired you for a long time but I never thought that you'd want anything to do with a god who didn't have much of anything to do with War or Aggression. That's one of the reasons I didn't fight the arrow too hard when I got with Psyche. Recently I've come to realize that I have deeper feelings for you and couldn't think of how to tell you. At the time it seemed like you hated me because you never seemed to stick around when I showed up somewhere."
"Aw Cupe. I just didn't know how to talk to you. Not many of the other gods outside of the House want much to do with me. I thought that I'd stay out of your way so I didn't have to face the rejection. At the best I figured you'd at least let me play with Bliss every once in a while. I never figured we'd end up somewhere like where we are now."
"How about we take this slow then? See where things go from here with out doing the whole avoidance thing."
"That sounds great to me Cupe. We should head over to Unc's for dinner now and then you have to pick up Bliss don't you."
Cupid nodded and the two of them flashed out. He wondered why Strife had suddenly started to giggle right before they left.
Dinner at the House of Aggression was never dull. Especially when you were trying to keep an assassin from running out of the room with out seeming like that was what you were doing. "He won't bite Jett. All you have to do is sit there. Maybe talk to him a little but nothing that would make you any more uncomfortable."
That sounded reasonable to Jett but. . . "Do I look alright….I don't want him to think I'm desperate….I need more weapons…I don't have enough weapons to be meeting with the God of Murder." Ares looked from his future brother-in-law to his fiancée and sighed. Joxer grinned at him and shrugged.
"You look fine Jett," Joxer said. "I'm sure you have plenty of weapons and besides we'll be eating dinner soon and don't tell me you couldn't think of at least five ways to kill a person using what you would find on the dinner table." Jett seemed to relax a little after that statement.
Joxer grinned to himself when he thought of the conversation he had with Hera earlier. She apparently thought Jett and Phonos would be a cute couple and was going to make sure that they had *lots* of time to work out their issues. She also didn't want Jett and Joxer to be sad so she was going to make sure Jayce was around to enjoy it too. He had told Ares this and he was waiting to see what Hera would come up with.
"Mother sends her regrets," Ares was saying, "but she can't be here tonight. She has sent several of her best apple pies though and I was given instructions to make sure you, Joxer, and Jayce each get a big helping of them…She was muttering something about the three of you being too skinny or something….." Ares grinned at the indignant looks on the two identical faces in front of him. As soon as he was sure that Jett wasn't looking he winked at Joxer, whose face lit up with realization of just what sort of apples those pies were made of.
The dinner guests started arriving at that point and everyone took their seats. Joxer noticed that Strife and Cupid not only seemed happier than they had in weeks but they appeared to have gotten over that little problem they were having. He wondered how long it would be before he and Ares were invited to the wedding.
Phonos looked over at his favorite follower of all time. He looked at Cupid who smiled encouragingly at him and turned to Jett. "Hello Jett. How do you like Olympus so far?"
"It's nice. I never expected to be here. I guess I'm still processing the fact that I'm here and that my little brother is marrying the God of War."
"I guess that could be a little unsettling. I have a couple of people I need to kill after dinner if that would help make you feel better. You have such a way with killing. It's a real joy to watch you."
"Really? You like my work?"
"Yes. I've even sent some jobs your way just so that I could watch you work….well that and you're really very good at it."
"I'd be honored to help you with some of your work. I'm sure you're much better at it than I am though."
"Yes, but only because I'm a god though."
Across the table Ares sat back in his chair and sighed contentedly. All of his important people were happy and all was once again right with his world.
Jayce watched the pacing figure in front of him and turned to talk to his brother. "You'd think he wouldn't be so nervous. He should know by now that they love each other."
"You would think so," said Joxer. "I don't think he cares at the moment though."
Jett snorted and looked at the pacing God of Mischief. "You thought Phonos and I were bad. Once we finally started talking to each other things moved pretty quickly. Strife and Cupid have been at it for years. I never thought it would take them a decade to get to marriage."
"Yeah. Your anniversary is next week isn't it. What are you guys doing?"
Jett just smirked at his brothers and went back to watching Strife pace.
Ares poked his head into the room. "It's time everyone."
The triplets escorted their friend out of the room. Ten years ago this event would have never occurred to them but now, now they couldn't picture life any other way. Jett and Joxer shared a look behind Jayce's back. Now if they could just get Jayce to settle down life would be perfect.