The characters as well as the story idea belong to me. The characters Xena, Gabrielle, Ares, ECT. do not belong to me, and I am just borrowing them. No copy write infringement are intended. However the other characters are made up by me, and thus are copy righted by me. Please do not use this story on your web site, web page ECT, without first asking me and receiving my permission first, you may however use this story for private use, but please use it with all disclaimers.
Gabrielle snored softly. The fire had dimmed to glowing embers but the moon had risen and flooded the clearing with enough light to see by. Quietly Xena got up, grabbed her saddlebag and headed off down the trail.
Once out of sight of the camp she stopped, pulled a dress from her bag and shed her leathers. She swung a black hooded cloak around her shoulders, hid her clothing and the bag in the bushes and continued on her way.
They were a day's ride from Amphipolis; Xena had picked the campsite because she knew Ares had a temple nearby. Since the siege she had been troubled by vague feelings of guilt, even though she felt her actions had been justified. In spite of the awful things Ares had done to her in the past she was beginning to believe him when he said he loved her.
She needed to finish what she'd started.
Another would have thought the temple deserted; Xena felt the War God's presence all around her.
"Ares, I need to talk to you."
He materialized in a flash of light.
"What is it now, Xena? More dolls you want me to save?"
"I came to apologize, Ares. You kept your part of the deal. You thought you were saving Eve. I owe you for that."
"I came to ask you to alter the deal we made."
"Alter it how?"
"I can't give myself to you totally, Ares. I don't love you. But I will fight beside you if you fight for the innocent, on the side of right. No more toying with mortals for sport, including me."
"Xena... " Ares glanced down at the floor, uncertain how to continue. He swallowed, inhaled sharply and looked up. "All along I've loved you but I couldn't admit it. Now... things aren't the same anymore. I may only have half a mortal lifetime left, and I want to be with you."
"Why did you torment me the way you did? It's hardly a way to show love."
"The God of War can't take an ordinary woman as a consort--she has to be special. I never toyed with you, Xena. I was testing you. I had to make sure you could survive all I threw at you, that you were... worthy."
"And after all that you expected I would be yours? You have a warped mind, Ares."
Sighing, he held out his hand. "I accept the alteration of the deal. It will be good to fight beside you, if nothing else."
"I haven't finished yet. Remember when Sisyphus stole your sword and I helped you get it back?"
"How could I forget? But you didn't do that for me. You did it because people couldn't control themselves without me."
"Considering you had me trapped in the body of my worst enemy what did you expect?"
Ares' eyes darted away in embarrassment.
Xena's gaze softened. "I became quite attached to the mortal Ares. I was a little sad when you got your godhood back. You were so different as a mortal."
"I keep telling you being a God is different. You never seem to understand."
"You still have your powers, even if you're not immortal anymore. But I think... you have changed... " She hesitated. "And I lied to you, after the battle. I did feel something. I think I was as disappointed as you were when the wall blew in."
The War God raised an eyebrow.
"I told you I can always feel when you're around because you make my skin crawl."
Ares looked hurt.
"Well, that's true. Whenever I am close to you, whether you're visible or not, my skin does crawl. It's like tiny charges of lightning running all over me--and it sets me on fire."
His brows drew together in confusion. "Are you saying... ?"
"I can't give myself to you body and soul because I don't love you, but.. I can give you half--and it isn't the soul part."
The cloak slid from her shoulders as she moved forward, revealing a slinky crimson dress, low cut and slit up the sides almost to her waist. She touched his face, her fingertips brushing softly over his skin and coming to rest on his lips.
"This time let's not take any chances. Take us somewhere where we won't be interrupted."
Xena returned to camp as Gabrielle was starting breakfast.
"Where have you been? I was getting worried."
"I don't know where I've been, Gabrielle."
"What do you mean? Did you hit your head, black out, what?"
"Oh no, I remember every single detail of last night. I just don't know where I was." She looked a little dreamy, then sad. "I haven't had such a wonderful night since... Marcus died."
"Xena! You've been with a man!" Gabrielle grinned.
Gabrielle looked puzzled, then surprised. "You've been with a wo--?"
"No! No. He's male all right, completely, thoroughly, marvelously male--he's just not exactly a man."
Understanding dawned on Gabrielle's face, and shock.
"You've been with Ares!"
"Xena, are you crazy? Ares--'God of War' Ares--'put you on trial for your life' Ares--'trapped you in Callisto's body' Ares--'got the Furies to drive you insane' Ares--that Ares? Wait. I know. He got Aphrodite to put a spell on you. Or Cupid owes him a favor, or--or--the Furies did it again--"
Calmly Xena looked at her. "Gabrielle, it was none of those things. He's different now, almost mortal. And... I like him. You know, when I was in Callisto's body we almost--if we hadn't been interrupted by a warlord we might have... " Her voice lowered as she questioned herself. "I wonder what that would have been like?"
Xena came back to the present. "He's promised to fight with us from now on."
"You trust him?"
"He swore on the waters of the Styx. No God can break that oath with impunity. But I think I would have believed him anyway."
"Because he loves you?"
"Yes. Because he loves me."
From his palace on Olympus Ares eavesdropped on the exchange between the two friends. She may know when I'm around, but it's a good thing she can't tell when I'm only watching. He looked pleased with himself. All things come to he who will but wait.