“You did it again, didn’t you?”
A divine voice echoed in the Great Hall of Heaven, which was still pure white all over, except the floor was completely covered in water as far as the eye could see.
In the middle of it all, Cupid was lying over an inflatable neon-pink raft that floated motionless in front of a large screen suspended in the air - many times larger than the largest screen ever created by human hands.
He lifted his heart-shaped sunglasses to look at the source of the voice - an angel with the body of a woman. Instead of a head, however, she had two large rings embedded with multiple eyes circling each other in perpetual movement, and white-feathered wings on either side of them.
“Ugh. It’s just Jophiel.”
He lowered his sunglasses again.
“You should really quit that bad habit of yours, Cupid.”
“I assure you I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You don’t, do you.”
“Then how do you explain that?”
She pointed her hand at the floating screen.
In there, six teenagers at a camping trip were making room arrangements and discussing if staying with each other would be better or not.
“Hm?” Cupid casually took a sip from the heart-shaped straw on his coconut drink, dismissing her with a hand gesture. “Oh. That’s just a personal project. Heaven can be quite a dull place sometimes, so I like to keep myself busy.”
She looked at the screen again.
“Isn’t it a little too big?”
“That’s what she said.”
Jophiel crossed her arms.
“...Doesn’t your job keep you busy enough?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes not. Time isn’t real, after all.”
“I’m being serious, Cupid.”
“So am I,” Cupid sat up, moving his glasses over his head.
“Angels get to preside over all of nature, but for us Cupids, we have only one job, and we go back and forth through humanity’s tiny lifespan so many times it drives us crazy. We watch over every person that ever lived or will ever live and make sure they remember to be human. To be special. It’s not easy, but it’s also not hard. It’s a paradox.”
“You’re the only one that complains so much.”
“I’m just telling the truth, darling.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Don’t you think it’s unfair, though? Angels and Archangels get special treatment, even other Cherubs like you get to be close to God. But somehow, at one point, Cupids got demoted to the bottom of the list. Why is that, I wonder?”
She only offered him silence, because she knew Cupid was going to keep talking anyway.
“I’ll tell you why, my friend. It’s because the human perspective of us changed. We stopped being divine, majestic creatures and became, what, little fat babies in diapers that shoot arrows and say ‘be my valentine! Be my valentine!’ …Terrible.”
“...It’s not their fault.”
“Besides, you could get special treatment if you wanted to. You just have to ask God.”
“Why not? Don’t you want God’s Blessing, too?”
Cupid sighed dramatically.
“You wouldn’t understand, Jophiel. Asking for God’s Blessing goes against everything I stand for. It’s my job as a Cupid to make people fall in love, not make others love them. Following that principle, I believe in earning things, not begging for them.”
“That’s a very human way of seeing things,” Jophiel scoffed.
“Oh, shut up.”
“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? Rather, does God know you’re doing this?”
Cupid sat up, stretching his back and cracking his neck.
“I imagine God knows. God knows it all, after all.”
“Perhaps, but God gives us all free will for a reason.”
“Hah. That sounds like a personal problem. If I were God—”
“Cupid, you better stop before you say something blasphemous.”
Cupid scoffed, but knew when to shut up. He hated Jophiel’s unannounced visits to his realm. No other Heavenly Being liked dealing with him, but somehow only Jophiel kept coming back to talk to him, and they had developed an usual friendship through the eons.
Part of him knew he owed someone an explanation— not to mention, he would never waste the opportunity to hear himself talk.
He stared at the screen in front of him playing simultaneously the lives of the six students he brought back to life.
To Jophiel’s surprise, Cupid was smiling fondly.
She looked at the screen again, examining the humans that drew this expression out of him.
“...You know you’re not supposed to bring more than one back at a time.”
“Then why did you do it?”
He shrugged nonchalantly.
“Because I was bored, why else?”
When he finally looked at her, all her eyes were judging him in silence.
“...W-What? Don’t look at me like that. Being glared at with ten pairs of eyes is ten times worse than any regular glare.”
“I know you must’ve had a good reason.”
Cupid looked away from her and back at the kids, pointing his hand at the screen.
“...Look at them. So young and foolish. So full of love and wonder. Don’t you just want to mess with their innocent little hearts?”
“I’m kidding. I said don't glare.”
Jophiel sighed, exasperated by his attitude, but still as patient as ever. She floated close to him to observe the screen from his same perspective, but no matter from where she looked, she couldn’t see whatever Cupid saw in them.
“Are you punishing them for something?”
“What?” He recoiled. “How dare you. I’m a beautiful, sinless Heavenly Being. I would never dream of doing such a thing as ‘punishing’ a human.”
“Really? Even though you’ve said numerous times to me how you wish you could ‘wring my nonexistent neck like a sponge’?”
“Well, that’s different, my friend. You annoy me quite a bit. More importantly, you’re not human.”
“I suppose that’s true.”
Her answer was so matter-of-fact it drove Cupid mad. Jophiel was serious all the time: there was no point arguing with her.
“Anyway, it’s not punishment that I’m after. Quite the contrary… I’m helping them out.”
Her twenty eyes blinked at the same time.
“Aren’t you making them compete against each other over something ridiculous?”
“Fufu. On the surface, yes.”
She gave him a confused look. Cupid seemed proud of this.
Finally, he stood up, leaving behind his drink.
He slowly approached the screen by gently floating above the surface of the water, reaching out to place his palm over its ethereal yet tangible form.
His eyes had an unusual passion within them, and it dripped out in the fond way he spoke.
“They’re all good kids, yet none of them were ever loved above anyone else by… anyone else, and there’s a good reason for that. I’m simply taking extreme measures to help them realize why. Once they do, they’ll each call out to me on their own. Just wait and see.”
Jophiel stayed behind floating in place, quiet for a moment.
Then she laughed.
Cupid turned to look at her, annoyed.
“What’s so funny?”
“...Nothing. It’s just hard to believe the rumors about the rogue Cupid were true.”
“Rumors!? What rumors?”
“...That you truly love humans more than anyone else.”