By Aurora

Copyright Disclaimer: All characters that have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess belongs to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing for this fan fiction.

Subtext: None--what, are you kidding me?

Violence: A little--what do you expect? This is XENA

Sex: None--just 'cause there's no sex, doesn't mean there can't be kissing.

Rated G

Date Written: June 4-5, 2001

E-mail: axbfeaurora@hotmail.com

Authorís Note/Summery: This story is written as an alternate ending to "Motherhood." When Ares doesn't give up his immortality and Gabrielle and Eve die, Xena is so struck with such grief that she wants to end her life and Ares realizes that he has to do something to bring them back.

Xena thrust her sword into Athena's stomach with wide eyes, waiting for the Goddess of Wisdom to feel the pain of her mortality even though she was still a god. But a grin grew across Athena's lips and her eyes glowed with pride.

"I don't feel a think, Xena. You've lost the power to kill gods."

Athena stepped back, the sword pulling out of her stomach without leaving a mark. Fear grew in Xena's eyes and her heart came to her throat as she looked behind her to see Gabrielle and Eve lying on the ground motionless. Ares, who was still standing unable to move because of Hephaestus' chains that bound him, could see the pain in her eyes knowing that the two most important people in her life were dead. He hated to see her like that but there was nothing he could do.

Athena took her sword and swung at Xena just as she turned around to meet the blade with her own sword. They exchanged swings and powerful blows with their weapons until Athena shot a ball of energy at Xena, sending her hurling backwards and the sword flying from her hands as she hit the ground.

Xena tried to stand but fell back. Athena walked up to Xena. "It's a shame it had to come to this, Xena." She raised he sword and brought it down but before it hit its victim, Xena swiftly kicked the goddess' stomach, pushing her back for a moment.

Xena hastily stood up and grabbed her sword. She knew that there was no way for her to beat Athena, not with her power to kill gods now gone. Xena glanced one last time at Gabrielle and Eve before leaving Olympus in a flash. She was never one to flee before but it was her only option, either that or be killed.

Athena and Ares watched as Xena ran, soon disappearing from sight. Athena put her sword down. She didn't bother going after Xena because she had done what she had come to do and that was to kill the one who would bring about their death. Xena was no threat anymore.

Athena looked over at the chained Ares. "Well, aren't you glad you stayed with your family? She would have killed you if Eve hadn't died." Ares was still looking at Gabrielle and Eve; the hurt of Xena's face when she realized they had died kept reappearing in his mind. "She wouldn't have killed me." He said looking at his sister. "I know she wouldn't have."

"Oh, really?" She chuckled. "I think your faith in her is a little misguided."

"No, no it's not. You just don't know her as well as I do."

Athena walked over to Ares and released him from the chains. "Well, it doesn't matter much now what Xena thinks, now does it? You're with the people you should have always been a part of in the first place--your family, no matter how small that group may be now. Forget about her. She only made you weak." Athena walked away from Ares and over to the bodies of Eve and Gabrielle. "Let's get ride of you once and for all." She said to the lifeless forms before her, raising her hands in the air.

Ares saw what she intended to do and rushed over to her, grabbing her arm. "No." She looked at him angrily. "Let me give them a proper burial."

There was silence for a moment until she finally spoke. "Fine. Do what you will with them." She disappeared but as she left, the sound of her voice echoed through the air. "You've lost your backbone, Ares."

When Athena was gone, he walked over to the bodies of Gabrielle and Eve and knelt down. He laid a hand on each of them and then looked up. "I'm so sorry, Xena." He said and then disappeared.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ares appeared in the Halls of War, a place he knew that he wouldn't be bothered. Eve and Gabrielle were lying on the cold stone floor. Their bodies had already lost a lot of heat and they were cold to the touch. Ares stepped back from them and sighed before pointing his hands toward a dark part of the room. Charges of light exploded from his hands and filled the once dark area with a bright light. When it faded, two magnificent coffins now stood in the room.

They were mahogany wood, polished to a shinny finish. All along the edges were elaborate swirls and curves in the wood. On the top of Gabrielle's coffin, the inscriptions 'Gabrielle, the Battling Bard of Potidaea' was written in Greek and on both sides were pictures of scrolls and sais. Eve's coffin was much the same except the top her hers read 'Eve, the Messenger of Peace' and there were symbols of peace along the sides.

Ares knew that Xena would want them to rest in coffins that honored them. He did it all for Xena. He picked them up and placed them in their coffins, closing the lids. He then turned around and magically produced a mirror in front of him so that he could watch Xena.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was dark out that night; there were no stars in the sky. Large, gray clouds about to burst because of all the water they carried covered the blackness. A cool mist had set over the land. Xena was sitting in a grassy meadow near the ocean. She watched the waves gently crash to the shore and then go out again. But her mind was not concentrated on the ocean or anything around her, for that matter. All she could think about was Eve and Gabrielle. Everywhere she looked, she saw their faces and heard their voices. She couldn't believe that they were gone and the pain she felt without them was unbearable. She couldn't eat, she couldn't sleep, she couldn't do anything but cry.

Her eyes were red and swollen; lines ran down her cheeks indicating the path her tears had taken. She had never cried so much in all her life. Xena was wracked with grief, her entire world had fallen apart and there was no way she could fix it. There was only one way that could relieve her pain and that was to take her own life. There was no other way out of her sorrow but death. She had nothing left to live for.

Xena stood up and unsheathed her sword. Through the mirror, Ares could see what she intended to do and he knew he couldn't let her go through with it. Xena screamed with grief at the top of her lungs and just as she was about to plunge the sword into her stomach, Ares appeared and pulled it from her hands.

"Ares! What do you think you're doing?! Let me be!" Xena quickly ran over to her sword and picked it up but Ares grabbed her and pulled her into his arms. "Let me go!" She screamed, the pain she felt was apparent in her voice. "I can't do that." He said soothingly, trying to calm her. "It will be okay." He whispered.

Xena sniffed and started to cry. "No, no it won't. They're gone! I will never see them again and...it is my fault!"

"No..." He whispered. "...if it's anyone's fault, it would be mine." He rested his head against her, rocking her gently.

He really did mean what he said--it WAS his fault. If he hadn't distracted Xena that night during the storm then the Furies never would have caused Gabrielle to injure Eve and Xena would have never had to throw her chakram at Gabrielle to stop her. He felt very bad for being the cause of Xena's pain. His guilt hurt him very much.

"I killed Gabrielle." Xena cried. "Not you. It was MY fault."

"Shh." Ares said as they vanished.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They materialized in the Halls of War. Ares let Xena go and she looked around, wiping her eyes. She saw the two coffins and walked over to them and removed the lids to find the lifeless bodies of her best friend and her only daughter inside. A hand went to her mouth and her eyes closed, beginning to cry again.

Ares just watched, not saying a word while Xena reached down and kissed both of their foreheads. "Gabrielle...I'm so sorry. So, so sorry." She said, touching her cold hand. She then looked at Eve. "Eve...I wish that I had been there while you grew up. I'm sorry for the pain that I caused you, having to live with the belief that your mother didn't want you anymore."

Suddenly, there was a bright light around the coffins. Xena stepped back in awe. Ares had no idea what was going on. Both of them watched as the spirits of Gabrielle and Eve rose into the air. They glowed transparent, swaying back and fourth above their mortal bodies.

"Gabrielle? Eve?" Xena gasped.

"Yes, Xena." Gabrielle answered. "We've come to say goodbye."

Tears trickled down Xena's cheeks. "Gabrielle, I'm sorry. It's my fault you're dead."

"No, Xena. Don't blame yourself. It was the Furies. I forgive you."

"Mother..." Eve started. "...it's not your fault we're dead. You did all that you could to save us but sometimes it doesn't always work out the way you wanted. We will miss you but don't go through life blaming yourself."

Xena sighed. "I miss you both so much."

"We miss you too. But we will be together one day." Gabrielle said.

"Goodbye." Eve said with sad eyes.

They began to fade and Xena reached out her hand. "Wait...!" But they were already gone.

She stood their in silence until the grief once again became too much to bare. She fell to her knees wailing. "Why?!" She hung her head as the tears filled her eyes once more.

Ares looked on at her. He hated to see the one he loved in so much pain. Seeing her hurt made him hurt. He knew that he had to find a way to bring them back. She would eventually die; he knew that--either by deliberately killing herself or from a broken heart. Ares left Xena there alone and vanished.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

He materialized in the underworld and walked down a long hallway to a room next to where Hades once lived. He walked in and found a woman dressed in garments of white sitting at a table. She had dark brown curly hair and there was a tall candle burning next to her.

"Celesta." Ares said, walking up to her.

She turned around. "Ares. What are you doing here?" She asked sadly, tears in her eyes. She obviously was hurt by the loss of her brother, Hades' death.

"I need your help."

Celesta stood up. "With what?"

"You have to bring Gabrielle and Eve back from the dead. It hurts me to see Xena in the distraught, emotional state that she's in and I fear that she will eventually die because of heartache."

"I can't do that, Ares."

"Why not? With Hades gone, you are the only one I can think of who could help."

"I'm sorry but I can't. I would if I could but I can't." She sighed. "Ares, I only bring death not life. There's nothing I can do."

Ares looked away and sighed in frustration. "Well, if you can't help then what can I do. I HAVE to do something."

Celesta looked around, searching her mind, trying to think of what Ares could do. "Ares, there is only one thing that I can think of that you could do to restore their lives."

"What?" Ares asked eagerly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ares was back in the Halls of War in minutes. He found Xena huddled in a corner of the room. She had obviously cried herself to sleep. Without disturbing her, he walked up to the head of their coffins and placed one hand on Gabrielle's head and the other on Eve's. He sighed and looked once more at Xena. "I'm doing this for you."

Ares closed his eyes and a blue light started to glow from his hands, filling their bodies with a blue mist. Xena opened her eyes and looked around when she heard the crackling of energy as it went into Gabrielle and Eve. She saw Are standing over their coffins, his hands on their heads and a blue light radiating from the coffins. Xena slowly stood and quietly walked near to him.

Ares could feel himself weakening. When the light faded, Ares practically fell to the ground with exhaustion. He knelt down as Xena walked up to the coffins and saw Gabrielle and Eve open their eyes. They sat up weakly and looked at Xena, who was speechless. Tears of joy and happiness filled her eyes. She leaned over and grasped her friend and daughter in a loving hug.

"I-I can't believe you're here." She cried.

"I missed you, Xena. Very much." Gabrielle said.

"Yeah, me too, Mother."

"I don't ever want you to leave me again." Xena released them from the hug.

"But how did it happen?" Gabrielle wondered.

"Why are we back?" Eve asked.

Xena stepped back form the coffins as Gabrielle and Eve got out of them. Xena looked at Ares who was standing up. What she saw in his eyes was love and tenderness. She just looked at him in amazement. "H-How did you do it?"

Ares took a deep breath. "I gave up my immortality to save them."

"But why?" Xena asked. "You could have lived forever."

"Because...it hurt me to see you in pain. It hurt me to see the one I..." He paused, not sure if he could continue. "...the one I love unhappy. My godhood means nothing if you are gone."

Xena didn't say a word. She couldn't believe that he had done such a selfless act. She walked up to him and hugged him, a hug filled with thankfulness. When she stepped back, she brought a finger to his chin and pulled him closer, kissing him lovingly.

His heart soared while he was with her. When they finally parted, Xena looked deep into his eyes and she didn't see the cruel God of War anymore. "Thank you, Ares. Thank you so much. I'm forever grateful."

Ares leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek and then smiled. "I love you, Xena. I just want you to be happy."

Xena smiled back, not being able to move her eyes away from his gaze.