“Quite a bit,” Demeter replied. “We were wondering if we could speak with . . . ” She hesitated like she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “…Mr. Sunshine, please.”
Really? I thought, unable to suppress a groan. Oh, Apollo was never going to live this down.
The group of kids exchanged a glance. “He doesn’t usually talk to old folks, man. Sorry.”
Demeter’s mouth dropped open. “Old . . . people. Uh . . . I see.”
I didn’t. Physically, all the gods stopped aging at the end of maturity, so we didn’t look older than twenty-five unless we wanted to. How were we considered old compared to him? I looked down at the deep maroon carpet flecked with pieces of grass and sighed. Good gods. I missed the Underworld.
“Why don’t you tell him his Aunt Ceres is here and see what he says,” Demeter suggested.
“Yo, Mr. Sunshine!” one of the youths called, running down the hall to an office with yet another beaded curtain. “Your Great-Aunt Sarah is here.”
A vein in Demeter’s forehead twitched, and I smiled despite myself. It was nice to see Demeter knocked off her pedestal. Even by these creatures.
Apollo tore out of the office so fast he got tangled in the beaded curtain and ripped it down in his haste to get free. My eyes narrowed when I took him in. His matted red hair was cut short, he had a scruff of a beard beginning on his face, and he wore clothes with holes and patches on them.
“Why does he look homeless?” I murmured.
Demeter shook her head. “Not homeless, ironic.”
Oh good gods.
“Demeter!” Apollo managed to get mostly untangled from the curtain and moved forward in jerky motions while he tried to shake it off his foot.
“I let you live in my realm after the fall, and this is how you repay me?” Demeter’s eyes blazed. She looked around, like she was considering moving to a more quiet location, then dismissed Apollo’s inebriated followers with a snort. “You started your own cult.”
“I meant to send tribute, throw your name in services every now and then, I just get so . . . distracted.”
As if to underscore his point, a half-naked girl peeked her head out the office door. “Mr. Sunshine? Are you coming back?”
“Uh . . . not right now.”
A chorus of disappointed wails rose from the office, and my eyebrows shot up.
Apollo’s face turned beet red and he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then cracked one eye open as if hoping we wouldn’t be there.
“I see.” Demeter’s voice was like ice. “You think you can poach my followers.”
“There are seven billion people on this planet. You can’t have them all!” Apollo protested. Demeter compressed her lips into a thin white line, and he stammered an apology. When he noticed me, his face drained of color. “Aw shit, Demeter. There was no reason to get him involved. I’ll mention your name every harvest, I promise. I’ve got some girls—erm . . . priestesses, I mean, I can send your way. Don’t make me go to the Underworld.”
“Harvest?” Demeter demanded. “What harvest?”
I held up my hands in a placating gesture. “No, you’re welcome to live forever as far as I’m concerned. No need to come to my realm. Ever.”
“How many priestesses do you want?” Apollo asked Demeter. “Hey girls?” He called a little louder.
“Yes, Mr. Sunshine?” The girls emerged from the office in various stages of undress.
“Oh please, don’t bother.” Demeter had a look on her face like she’d like to remove her eyes and scour them with bleach. “There’s more important things going on right now, and as it just so happens, you owe me.”
Demeter explained what was going on with Zeus, and Apollo turned even paler.
“Uh, yeah, that sucks about your kid and all, but that isn’t really my scene. I’m a lover not a fighter, and uh—”
Demeter walked up to him until they were standing nose to nose. “Do you like living in my realm?”
“Do you want to continue?”
He nodded again.
“Then you’d best come with us.” When Apollo nodded again, Demeter wrinkled her nose and touched her fingertips to him, establishing the bare minimum of contact to teleport. She reached behind her to grab my hand, and we disappeared in a flash.
Apollo is the god of prophecy and oracles, music, song and poetry, archery, healing, plague and disease, and the protection of the young. He’s also frequently depicted as a sun god, though that’s technically Helios’s role.
Apollo, and his twin sister, Artemis are children of Zeus, but their mother is Leto. Hera tried to prevent their birth and failed when the floating isle of Delos took them in and allowed Leto to give birth.
The twins were complete opposites, however they were both archers. Apollo’s most notable kill was a giant Python that had set up shop where he wanted to create a shrine. He also protected his mom by giving a Titan who tried to carry her off the Prometheus treatment, and killed Niobe’s daughters when Niobe claimed to be as beautiful as Leto, and he killed a Cyclops who assisted in the killing of Apollo’s son Asclepius (you know him as the reaper, Zachary). He was also a major player in the Trojan War.
Apollo might have been a mother’s boy and the golden child of Olympus, but he was also a major dick. When Cassandra wouldn’t sleep with him, he cursed her with visions of the future that no one would believe. Daphne narrowly escaped the same fate by turning herself into a laurel tree, as did several other men and women Apollo pursued. He entered a music contest with a satyr, and flayed him alive when he lost. Fun fact, he’s also the reason crows are black (they used to be white).
Apollo pops up all over the place in Greek mythology. There’s tons to explore there. If you want to learn more about him, click here.