Jove sat in his cushy chair, looking out through the floor to wall windows behind his desk at a sparkling Manhattan skyline. His index finger sat between his two unopen lips in contemplation. It was a clear night, stars making eyes at their imitators in the streets below, which he didn’t particularly like given the news he’d heard.
It had come in a sealed envelope, one whose weight he’d tested, seeming to know it’s contents before taking his lightning bolt shaped letter opener to the seal. It had told him his brother was back in town.
He’d told everyone else to go home: told Manny and his crew to be careful carting that shipment through the east side, told Victoria to tell his wife he’d be home late, to which Victoria told him his wife wouldn’t be happy. Jove knew he wouldn’t be happy either.
“Long time no see,” came the rotund voice behind him.
“I didn’t say you could come in yet,” said Jove.
“No, but I figured you didn’t tell me I had to leave either, but look what happened there.”
Jove listened to the soft footfalls of his brother traipsing around the large office.
“Quite a setup you’ve got here,” said his brother, and Jove turned to see him handling an antique black dagger from the display wall. “Not exactly the same empire though. Not as grand.”
“We’ve had to find other ways to be relevant,” said Jove.
“And crime is the answer?”
Jove shrugged. “We couldn’t be at the forefront of people’s hearts and minds the way we were before. We had to find a new way to be a part of their lives, had to find a niche, even if that meant mostly going unseen.”
“Mm,” said Pluto. “I guess Iustitia’s dead then.”
“Long time ago. She understood. We’ve accepted so many sacrifices over the years, she figured she could make one. She did it so we could be comfortable.”
A sharp sound rang out as Pluto pushed his thumb and snapped the blade of the dagger in half, staring at it before gingerly setting it down. Jove’s mouth crinkled a little. That had been made from the metal of a meteorite, and was irreplaceable.
“And why, tell me, did you think I’d share her line of thinking?”
Jove steepled his hands in front of him. “It’s just marketing. We make our public face more acclimatized to the sensibilities of the time.”
“You made me the fall guy so that you could grow a criminal empire to preserve your meager existences!”
Jove stood up silently. He walked over to the bar and poured whiskey into a crystalline glass. There was a time when he would have offered a glass to his brother, or anyone else standing in this room, no matter how much they yelled at him. But he was no longer that man, and he simply took a sip.
“Not much to be done about it now,” he said, relishing the fire in his throat.
The rage in Pluto’s face simmered as he cut the tension with a smile. He moved over to a couch in the middle of the room and took a seat.
“I was just a man trying to do his job back then, you know. You all knew it. We were a family. Now, without a care, you’ve made me into the devil, my true self shunned from existence, somewhere even beyond our Underworld. Well, I’ll tell you, Jupiter, I saw things while I was out there. I met things. They were ugly to my sight at first, not fully formed. They were these concepts that people had, archetypes that were important to them, but that they’d never bothered to worship. I started calling them the Unnamed, and I became sympathetic to their plight. We realized we could help each other.”
Jove stopped with his glass sitting in his lips, moving it back down without taking a sip.
“Oh? Now you’re interested.”
Jove gulped down his shot of Whiskey and emphatically placed the glass back on the bar top. “There’s little you can do.”
“Mm,” said Pluto. “Well, I must be on somebodies mind. Otherwise, how could I be talking to you right now? Maybe your attempt at relevance has finally hurt enough people that someone has a wonder if those banished and forgotten will ever have a shot at vengeance. And that’s the beauty of this whole thing, really.” He stood from his spot and brushed his suit, stepping closer to Jove.
“Because The Lord of the Dead has met the Unborn and, since you’ve prescribed it to me already, plans to rain down hell on this city you’ve crawled into. And all of that will be your fault.”
They held each other’s gaze for a moment. Pluto pulled away first.
“Well, just wanted to stop by, check in on big brother. I’ll be seeing you, Jupiter.”
And he walked out, closing the door behind him.
Jove turned back to the window and stood looking out, hands in his pockets.
His mind was running. He thought about calling Juno, telling her that she needed to get to a safe house, but all she’d want to do right now was accuse him of more infidelity. Mostly he thought about what Pluto had said. He almost chuckled to himself, thinking about how, out of everything his brother had mentioned, he was stuck on one thing.
No one calls me Jupiter anymore.