Interview with Athan Michael, Demigod Son of Hermes
It’s summer in Seattle, and after sitting in traffic for an hour, I’m ecstatic when I find a blue Nissan pulling out of a spot near Pike Place Market. The sun is playing peek-a-boo with fluffy cumulous clouds, and by late this afternoon, I’ll be glad I’m staying in a hotel with air conditioning.
I cross the street and make my way down Pine Street. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is on the corner, and I can see a young man wearing a white apron stirring a large vat of what, I’m guessing, is curds and whey. But I don’t really know. Whatever is in that milky substance has been rated the best local cheese for over a decade, and I’m craving a grilled cheese sandwich. Or maybe some macaroni and cheese.
My meal planning hits a major derailment when the young man I’m meeting crosses the store to greet me.
“Raye?” Athan asks, extending his hand.
He has quite possibly the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen, and I think I stare a little too long to be appropriate before I take his hand.
“It’s nice to finally meet you,” I say. Or at least I think that’s what comes out of my mouth.
He’s tall, like six four, and I’m guessing just under two hundred pounds. He’s thin, but not skinny, and his shoulders are broader than I thought they would be. He’s lean, but still chiseled like an Olympian athlete.
“The pleasure is all mine,” he assures me.
He points toward a table at the back of the store. Past the small round tables that are bar height, with metal backless stools. The wooden rectangle has actual seats around it, and a cup and phone sitting on it. I wonder if he’s just that trusting, or if he doesn’t care.
“May I order for you? I’m going to get the mac-n-cheese . . .” He cocks an eyebrow and smiles.
No kidding, I think my brain short-circuits. I can see why Krista hated Hope, and why Obelia was jealous. But I’m happily married, I remind myself, and I have an interview to do.
“That would be great. Thank you.”
I set up my laptop, and grab the old-fashioned Dictaphone I borrowed from my dad. Good thing, too, I doubt my memory will be at its best.
Athan returns a few minutes later with two plates of steaming, gooey white cheese and penne pasta. It looks divine. He sets a diet Dr. Pepper in front of me, as well, leading me to wonder . . .
“You posted something about it on Facebook,” he says.
“Nice. You did some homework, too.”
He holds up his hands with a guilty smirk. “My father says it never hurts.”
We eat and chat about the Market, the weather, and I show him pictures of my kids. And then we get down to brass tacks.
“You’re sure you don’t mind?” I ask. I’m going to be invading his privacy for sure with the list I got from my friends.
“My life’s an open book,” he says, leaning back in his chair.
I push record on the black contraption, and bite my lip as I look over my list.
“Let’s start easy . . . What’s it like being the son of Hermes?”
His lips lift, just on the left side, and he leans toward me. “Well, I don’t really know anything different, but I would say it’s pretty cool. He’s nicer than most gods, I’m told. And he does take me to some awesome places.”
“Like the Underworld?”
He frowns. “Do you want me to go there?”
I realize my gaffe and shake my head. “No.”
“I will say that I’ve only had a few experiences when he’s been like a god, and not like a dad. Most of the time, we get along great. We’ve had nice talks. We go out to dinner.” He shakes his head. “He’s been on a vegan kick lately, and I can tell you there is no good substitute for cheese.”
His lunch recommendation makes me laugh. “That’s why we’re here?”
Athan nods. “I like mac-n-cheese.”
Of courses he does.
“How many gods have you met?”
“Whoa. Like I have to count?” His face wrinkles up in concentration. “Eleven, no twelve. But only a few of them were Olympians. Do you want me to name them?”
“Will that reveal spoilers?”
He looks at me like I’m an idiot. “You know it will.”
“Right, Then no, thank you.” I look down the list. I asked my Renegades what questions they wanted me to ask him, and some of them are a little odd. “Can you fly?”
“Who would you like to play in a movie?”
He picks up the white plastic fork and twirls it on its tines. “Like what character, or which actor?”
“Character.” I hope that’s what Sara meant. I should’ve asked her.
“I like the Jason Bourne movies. Or maybe a super hero. All those Avengers are awesome.”
“Do you have a favorite?” Maybe I shouldn’t have asked that. What if he’s not a Team Cap? Then Sara really won’t like him. And I might have to kill him. Ugh. I’m actually nervous for him to answer this.
“I like Wolverine. Does that count?” He purses his lips.
I nod, and shoot the next question off. “Why do you like Hope?”
The silence is heavy and a little uncomfortable. I reach for my drink and take several swallows, and then twist the cap back on.
Athan lets out a long sigh. “At first it was just the challenge. She was the first girl, in a while, to totally blow me off. But she has an innocence about her and naivety that’s endearing. Don’t get me wrong. She’s super tough. She’ll kick your as— butt. But only if she has to, you know? Mostly she’s just trying to make it through, but she’s kind. And everyone is on equal footing with her.”
“Did you like her right away?”
“No. It was so gradual that I was in the middle before I realized it. At first I was just trying to figure out if she was a demigod. But then later, honestly, I hoped she wasn’t because I didn’t want to have to take her in.”
“But by then you knew she wasn’t mortal.”
“By then I suspected she wasn’t, yes.”
I glance down at the list, wanting to ask another question, and see this jem staring back at me. “Oh, someone wants to know, do you end up with Hope at the end of the series?”
A slow smile spreads over his features. “Gods, I hope so.” His eyes twinkle. “Can’t you tell me now?”
I shake my head, and glance back down at the paper. There is no way I’m disclosing the end to him, or anyone else right now.
“If you could have anyone else’s job who would you choose?”
“Job? You mean like I’m psachno and Xan’s a tool?”
I laugh so hard, I bump the table and my drink tips over. I grab it as it falls and set it back up on the smooth surface.
“Nice catch,” Athan congratulates me.
“I can’t believe you called Xan a tool?”
“But he is.”
I don’t want to ask the next question, and part of me wants to call him out for not answering the previous one, but I’m running out of options.
“It that it?” he asks.
I take a deep breath and ask Brittiani’s question. “One of my Renegades wanted to know what it’s like to be in Xan’s sexy shadow?”
Athand stares at me with those green eyes, and I can’t tell if he’s offended or mad, or what.
“Girls really think he’s sexy?” he asks.
I can’t help it. I roll my eyes. Are they oblivious? “Do you feel like you’re in his shadow?”
He pushes his chair away from the table a few inches and stretches his long legs out in the aisle. He doesn’t frown, but his face has lost some of the softness it had just moments before. “I guess I used to feel that way. I came to the conservatory pretty young, and Xan is not only big physically but he’s got a pretty big personality. I’ve always respected him, even when I didn’t like him. He’s a good man.”
The little shop door rings and an elderly couple walks in. The man places an order and his wife points at something on the menu. He apologizes and reorders with a chuckle.
“Someday, I’d like to be like that,” Athan says. “I’d like to be a grandpa, still married to my sweetheart, still doing fun things, and taking care of her. When she’ll let me.”
“I think we all want something similar.” I think of my husband and kids back home, and my heart swells with love. “I have one more question for you, and then I’ll let you go.”
“If Darth Vadar and Kohn got into a fight and Vadar couldn’t use his light Saber and Kohn couldn’t use his healing abilities who would win and why?”
He stares at me as if I’ve grown three heads. “What?”
I repeat the question, then add, “It’s from Lela. She always asks me questions like this.”
I don’t know why he’s acting surprised by this. Maybe I should’ve sent him a list of the questions beforehand. Maybe I’ll do that with Xan.
“Are you going to answer it?” I can’t help but feeling a little defensive of the question. I like Lela and her off-beat questions.
“I’m just surprised. Yes. Well. I’m going with Vader. He has the force, so he could just raise his hand and do that throat-crushing thing he does.”
It’s a good answer. I would’ve gone with Vader, too.
I’m working on a coloring book that will come out February 2017. This is Hope and Athan having breakfast (at the end of book 2), but I thought it was fitting for this interview. Feel free to download it if you want to color… but please don’t share.