by Vickey Brickle-Macky10/22/2000This is my second Xena/Ares fiction. This one is going to be a long one as it has kind of taken on a life of its own during the writing of it and even I don´t know what the outcome is going to be yet. So stayed tuned. During season five there were several key places in the story line that if different actions had been taken the events following the original action would have been drastically altered for good or bad. This story starts with the premise of what if Xena and Ares had sealed their bargain during the siege instead of being interrupted? How would that have changed the course of Xena´s life and everyone else´s?Disclaimer: Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Ledgendary Journeys are owned by Rennaisance Pictures and Universal Studios. I'm just borrowing the characters, not that I wouldn´t want to borrow Ares on a permanent basis.NC17 Some strong language, arguments, tasteful sex between Ares and Xena and no real violence.
Xena left Gabrielle still working on the preparations for defending Amphipolis while she headed determinedly towards Ares' temple to discuss their "deal". Part of her was already feeling guilty for how she was going to be deceiving him if Gabrielle came through with their plans. It was all going to be a matter of timing. She had to keep Ares distracted, and for now keep him firmly as an ally until this siege was over and they could deceive Athena into thinking she had killed Eve and called off her troops. You would think after all this centuries of being existence that the gods would know ever trick in the book and be able to see through mortal plans. Sometimes Xena thought that the Greek ones had to be the dumbest bunch in the book because of how easily she could manipulate them and thwart their plans. All of them had weaknesses and she was getting to know them all very well and exploit those weaknesses as need be, like now with Ares.He used to be different, and less easy to manipulate. Now it was becoming almost too easy. A mere mortal shouldn't be able to handle a god, but she did. His weakness she had discovered was her. She got to him as he had admitted on many occasions like no one had mortal or goddess. He wanted her badly. She could see it in his dark eyes every time they meet. The last three years it had been growing steadily worse, his wanting her. Then too now, it wasn't a simple relationship between them anymore like it had been. Yes, he still wanted her as his warrior queen, commander of his armies to fight by his side. Somehow now, it went deeper, more personal. He wanted the two of them together forever as a couple. He wanted her to be the mother of his children, and now he was willing to take responsibility for Eve and raise her as his own under his protection against his fellow gods.
If Gabrielle's plan failed then she was going to have to take him up on his offer. She didn't see any other way to get Athena to back off since she was top god now that Zeus was out of the picture. Ares might be strong enough to protect her and her child and maybe her friends and family too as the other gods would go after anyone she cared about to get back at thrating their schemes and plans. She had seen them do it too much not to underestimate them. Part of the package deal she knew would be her having to become an immortal too. He would not accept anything less than that. She was violently opposed to that idea seeing how the power corrupted those mortals that had became gods. It would also take her off this path she was on, sidetrack her from her mission tied to Eli's cause. For her own sake as well as everyone else's she could not join with Ares.Though part of her wanted to give in completely to him for old times sake. She had very pleasant memories of time spend in bed with him before he betrayed her trust, and her love and admiration for him turned to hate and disgust. If this had been a couple of years earlier before the mess with Callisto, him using the Furies drive her mad, plus numerous other events of trying to use her, manipulate her, play games with her mind and soul, trying to destroy or sometimes out and out kill people she cared about, maybe, there might have been a chance for them. Now she didn't trust him, didn't believe anything he said, or think he would keep his promises. With that in mind she didn't feel too bad about what she was going to do. Besides, gods didn't have real feelings anyway. They just thought they had. Like she should really believe he had real feelings for her like he kept trying to claim recently? Nah, not mister love them if they were useful to his plans and leave them if they weren't.Xena entered the quiet, dimly lit temple. The usual priestesses and servants were nowhere around. No doubts they were either hiding or else giving aid to Athena's group. She sensed Ares wasn't here yet, probably checking on the battle preparations outside of town. She knew this temple well. Since childhood she had been coming here. Then in the years since she had known Ares personally she had spent much time in it's inner sanctum. Keeping her determination up she went past the altar and walked down the corridor to the secret rooms set aside for Ares' personal use. Opening the door to his chamber she looked in and saw he hadn't arrived yet. Good.Entering the plush room she made her way to the rather plush lounger on the dais. Quickly she disrobed, taking off her armor and weapons and set them carefully aside, just within range if she needed them. Standing there naked, the chill in the room made her aware of her vulnerable state. Luckily, there was a dark sable bathrobe, probably his, on the lounger which she pulled off and put on, wrapping the oversized robe around her. She tried not to think of what she was doing as she settled herself seductively on his lounger and waited for him to appear. She could not afford to get cold feet, not now. Nor could she afford to lose her head either. She had to stay in control of her mind, heart and body. Not an easy task where Ares was concerned, she had to admit. She was almost getting feelings for him again, she shook her head. No, no, no, not again! Every time she opened just a little to him he hurt her again and again. Today was simply a business transaction, no more, she kept reminding herself.Her senses began to tingle. She felt him before he actually materialized. Bathed in his usual blue light he blazed in, seemingly distracted, focused on the battle, and probably about their deal. He walked across the room with his back towards her and was going after the goblet of ambrosia laced wine he had left on a stand. It was clear he was not aware of her being there, so much the better.She decided to let him know she there after he picked up his goblet and was about to take his first sip of his drink. "Hello, Ares. Thought I might find you here." She told him pleasantly, slowly sitting up then getting to her feet slowly and seductively to stand with the fur wrapped loosely around her, shoulders bare, and with one bare leg showing enough to let him know that she wasn't wearing anything else.Ares turned around sharply staring at her opened mouthed in disbelief she was there , just holding his cup in mid drink before he remembered to take a drink and almost choked on it as he drank in the sight of her obviously willing, and waiting for him in his bedchamber. The sunlight was streaming down , bathing her in it´s glow so that all he could see was her spotlighted in it , a willing sacrifice to his most wanted heartfelt desires. He hadn't been expecting her to really come and honor their deal that much was clear in his expression as he tried to regain his composure. The only thing he could manage was, "oh, yeah." His eyes racked her up and down, liking what he saw as he tried to hide his anticipation and excitement as well as not choke on his drink as he threw it down in large gulps.While she still had him at a disadvantage she walked forward down the few steps to the floor and asked sweetly with a bit of a challenge to her voice and eyes," So, are we going to seal this deal, or what?" Her crystal blue eyes met his dark ones, daring him, inviting him, teasing him, the spider inciting her victim into the web she was weaving, trying to get a firm commitment from him before she allowed him too much nearer. Xena slipped the wrap deliberately from her shoulders and pulled it down to her waist, revealing all to his hungry eyesTaking another sip of his drink and beginning to be both eager, and more than a little nervous that she was actually doing this, his hand holding the goblet was trembling, she noted. She smiled inwardly, enjoying getting the reactions she was getting from him like he was some nervous schoolboy on his first date. This was not the confident, sure of himself, especially in the bedroom Ares, she was used to dealing with. Gods, he was nervous, almost afraid, probably of blowing it more than anything, she thought trying to understand what was going on with him he was finding it hard to talk as he drank in her beauty. Ares replied huskily, "Sounds like a plan," as he threw his cup backwards not caring where it landed. He was in too big of a rush as he walked forward hurriedly, unbuckling his sword belt and pants belt flinging them off on the floor as he came nearer and near to his treasure.He was zeroing in on her, his hands going around her waist to draw her closer and kiss her when she put her hand firmly on his chest keeping him back. He looked at her questioningly, frustrated as she levelly, fully in control of the situation still, asked with a raised eyebrow, "One thing, can I trust you to keep you end of the bargain?""Yeah, sure," Ares agreed quickly, as he tried to push past the very solid, firm, not to be dislodged hand on his chest keeping him determinedly back even though speech was beginning to be difficult for him as well as rational thought. His desire for her was rising with the nearness of her. Hell, he would agree to anything now, and be damned with the consequences afterward if she´s just let him kiss her. Though in the back of his mind he knew that this was Xena after all, and she would back out just as quickly as she had in the past under similar circumstances if he gave the wrong answers.Xena carefully played the seductress, staying serious yet tempting as she kept her eyes focused on his as she asked him, "because I wouldn't want there to be any confusion." The hand still kept him at arm´s length, she wasn´t moving it until she got a commitment from him.At this point he would have said, done anything, promised anything to keep her there. Gods, he wanted her. So close, so close, but not close enough, damn! Though he kept praying that he wasn't going to blow it by saying something stupid. "No, no confusion. I side with you against gods. Save Eve. Gotach!" He agreed eagerly as he still tried to move forward and kiss her again and pull her towards him."Excellent," she replied pleased at his response and with a triumphant smile, she grabbed him roughly by the front of his studded leather vest, spun him around hard surprising the hell out of him and making him whoop "ohh momma!" as she slammed him down on his back on the lounger hard before he had time to think or react. He landed with a stunned thump, almost out of breath by the force she had used to thrown him down.His hands started to go up in protest, but fell to his sides as she climbed in on top of him and started licking and nibbling up and down on his chest, teasing his nipples with her tongue. Her eyes full of passion and invitation just for him, the way he had always wanted it. Oh baby, what you do to me! He was beginning to lose control of the situation, but he didn't care. 'oh yeah, baby, have at it,' he thought to himself and sensation after sensation rippled through him under her expert manipulations and touches. The feel of her bare breasts against his chest sizzled through him as she worked herself higher up his chest with her tongue until she captured his lips with hers. His arms automatically went around her, one hand tangling in her silky raven tresses to pull her tighter to him. Their kissing and loving making became intense as she worked on him, getting him aroused to a fever pitch almost.Damn, he felt good, she thought to herself, but it was getting harder and harder to play act when her own body´s responses were starting to kick in for real. It was getting difficult to try not to get too into this and to keep her head clear as she waited for Gabrielle's fireworks to start. She dimly heard muffled explosions outside the thick walls of the temple, but the one she had been waiting for that would have taken out the outside wall to this room had never came. She stopped their passionate kissing to jerk upright out of his tight grasp to ask, "Did you hear something?""No, nothing," he replied not really giving a shit about anything but her and what they were doing. Frustrated with her lack of total interest in what they were doing, he pulled her back down to him and resumed their kissing and fondling one another where they had left off.Abruptly, she jerked up again, "I´m sure I heard fighting," she exclaimed, her head bouncing back up as she looked wildly around, trying to listen as well as trying to pull away from him, but, there was no way she was going to get away, not now he decided."Perfect!" he muttered pleased, pulling her back down very firmly in a passionate kiss. He always liked to make love to the sound of a battle being waged. Lovemaking and battles always seemed to go together so well, the blood, the sound weapons clashing and meeting, the cries of the dying and the victors as well as the passion of the conflict all merging somehow as almost music to his ears and senses. "Where were we?" he added as he intensified his lovemaking to really get her into the mood.She never noticed when with a flick of hand Ares had locked the door, sealing the room so they wouldn't be disturbed. No more distractions, he decided as she began to lose herself in him and loosen up. Her resolve to not go through with their bargain began to leave her as their mutual passion rose. What had started out as a game which she thought she could easily win was no longer a game. He was very, very serious and had long since reached the point of no return. There wasn´t anyway short of knocking him out that she was going to be able to stop him.Once he was sure he now had her undivided attention and there were going to be no interruptions from any quarter. He had made his clothes vanish, and her fur wrapper had long since been discarded to fall in a heap by the side of the bed . Now he wanted to get her as worked up as she had gotten him. He smiled amused at the thoughts of what he was going to do to her to achieve that. Before she could protest, he flipped her over on her back, and began his own pleasuring of her making her moan and squirm as well writhe in passion tinged agony from what he was doing to her. He wanted to arouse her to heights she had never been before and he was succeeding as she became putty under his skillful touches of tongue, lips, and hands. She came multiple times, each one more intense than the last until she thought she couldn't take it anymore before he finally did enter her. Before he had just wanted to conqueror her, make her submit not caring about her feelings, to own her totally, make her his completely. This time she sensed was different as there was a gentleness and caring that hadn't been present before. She reacted to it and even though there was an urgency to their lovemaking there was a connection, a joining, a wanting, and an answering response within each other for both of them. Before had just been sex, fantastic sex, she had to admit, but this was much more, and then some coming out of the deepest part of both their beings to meet, merge, and join in perfect harmony. Minds, bodies and souls were intertwined together and for the first time she knew what it was to be loved by both a man as well as a god as Ares had dropped all his barriers with her. He was wide open to her, his soul, his heart, his love, all feelings for her, everything was completely vulnerable, open, trusting to her."You didn't believe me, did you, when I said I loved you? I do, Xena, with all that I am," he told her with a slight chuckle in her mind as he brought higher and higher. "And I will keep telling you over and over as many times as I can until you believe me and you realize too that you love me," he told her as her kissed her, willing her to feel his all the levels of his love."Ares,...I didn't think you could love," she said, almost apologizing for doubting him as well as forgiving him. She was accepting too, that he wasn't lying, couldn't lie to her on something this important to both of them and the future. "but you do, ... you really do," she replied awestruck at what she was feeling from him. She was now ashamed for doubting him."I tried to tell you that even Gods can change and this God wants to change for you," he told her. He smiled inwardly letting her see his joy, his happiness of the sheer joy of being with her like this or any which way he could, if she would let him.. He also let her know that he was not upset that she had doubted him as he knew she had. That was a given. He had done her wrong too many times for her to trust or believe anything he said or might do contrary to what she was now used to. At least he was getting the opportunity to change her mind. He wasn't even getting upset that he had seen her plans with Gabrielle in her mind, and knew what she had planned to do, along with not going through with their deal. That was so typically her. He had expected something anyway though the ingenuity of it amused him. As soon as he had seen that there had been explosive devices planted outside he had made sure that they wouldn't go off by making them vanish from their hiding spots to explode elsewhere out of town. Let the annoying blonde figure that one out, he thought laughingly.That he was amused, not mad about the bombs floored her. This was not the Ares she was used to dealing with. It was the Ares she had known was under all the layers of pompous parading and bravado he put forward as a face to the world. She had always been able to see this side of him when no one else could, and this time he was letting her in fully and completely. Finally, she opened up to him to let him understand why she had held back from him. He accepted his mistakes and it hurt him that he had so deliberately hurt her over the years. It was going to take work on both their parts to repair the hurts to both sides, but with this new openness and awareness of each other it was possible now to reach new understandings and build a new relationship. If she would let to happen.Her heart softened and she began to love him back with the same intensity of feelings he was giving her. Finally he knew love and acceptance from the one person that he cared about above all others. They were both wrapped in a cocoon of sensation where one merged into the other, no ending, no beginning, just being, floating, soaring, swooping on the rainbow sparkling pathways that felt like flowing energy, a letting go with some orchestrated piece of indescribable celestial music. That was what it felt like, just so, the ecstasy that was their merging of bodies, minds and souls, with no beginning, no ending and a wanting to give it all of away to each other. There was laughter, and joy, freedom such as neither had never known in that final release for both of them and a bonding more deeper than they had before joining them as one in a blinding, searing, golden haze of inward light and love.Slowly they drifted back downward, both more than a little shaken by what had happened, but accepting, welcoming this new bonding, this new merging of their spirits. Xena vaguely felt Ares collapse upon her, his head resting wearily, but happily upon her chest, totally spent and if not more than a little drained by what had happened. Even gods have their limits. She couldn't have moved if her life depended on it, nor did she have any wish to in the afterglow of feelings as she slowly came back to earth from the dizzying heights they had reached.Ares finally managed to lift his head and look up at her. The dark eyes were warm, joyful and if not a touch still dazed by what had happened. "Ohh,... yeah, hi," he managed to say with a soft smile.Xena opened her eyes and looked back at him not a little dazed still herself. "hi, yourself. You okay?" she asked a bit amused that a god should be as wasted as he appeared to be. She reached a hand out and ran her hands tenderly through his short cropped hair, missing the curly long locks, but reassuring herself that he was real and what had happened had really happened."I think," he grinned just a bit devilishly, as he looked around at her and himself, " yeph, still here, not hallucinating, not a dream., he added starting to recover, but not moving off of her either. He wanted to continue to savor still the joy of just being with his love like this, bare naked, flesh to flesh. And he could fully admit to her now that she was his love. Hell, he wanted to shout it from the heights of Olympus, to the entire world, how much he loved this woman, his warrior princess, his everything. As she was that to him, now and forever. They had had a bond before but what they had now was way beyond anything like it had been. 'Xena, my love, you are mine and I ain't letting you go for no one!' he thought to himself."You think?" she laughed, shaking her head amused at him."That is when I can think, my love," he said planting a kiss between her breasts with a wicked gleam in his eye."Ohh, I'm not all in here myself," was all she could manage to say as the touch of his lips on her flesh sent shivers through her again. She cocked an eyebrow at him, wondering what he was up to as she wasn´t quite ready for another go around but maybe with the right persuasion?"Yeah, I noticed," he grinned back, thinking of maybe starting a round two, but also starting to come back to himself and the situation outside of his chamber. "But I think we need to talk before someone barges in," he said reaching down and grabbing the throw and then rolling off of her to lie next to her in the narrow lounge, propping himself up a little on the pillows as he tossed the throw on top of them, covering them.She was already missing the feel of him, but she curled up next to him as he lifted his arm so she could slide in and lay her head upon his chest, her hand entwined in his dark chest hairs. His arm went possessively around her shoulders drawing her even closer to him, for once she didn't mind, didn't spook and jump up offended as she usually did."By now we are both being missed. I'm surprised that Sis hasn't popped in to find me," he told her kissing the top of her head.She lifted her head a little to looked up at him, "Yeah. I know Gabrielle is already going into panic mode by now, especially since the bombs didn't go off. I do apologize for that," she said knowing he now knew all about them. "It was insurance, and not very nice on my side. I didn't believe you before," she said with a sigh, still a little embarrassed about how she had planned to get out of sealing their deal, Though at this moment she was not regretting doing so. It felt so very right being here with him like this. They couldn´t have done before because of too many things done back and forth. It had just taken a crisis situation like this to push them together and noninterference from outside to make sure it happened and they went through with it. It could have so easily gone the other way."Do you now?" he asked warily, his eyebrow raised waiting as he looked down at her, her hand resting comfortably on his chest. Waiting for the Xena he was used to, to crush all his hopes and feelings back with one of her barbed comments."Yes, I do believe you that you love me but you also seem to have this knack for complicating my life. I had one very definite set of plans before I came here,...now, I'm not sure of anything. I didn't think it would go this far ,and the way it did," she told him truthfully. She was feeling a bit lost now as the ball was now in his court so to speak and she wanted to see if he had really meant what he said about protecting her and her daughter as well as calling off the attack, or whether it was more deception just to get her in bed.He chuckled, "truthfully, neither did I. I was prepared for almost anything though. I had visions of your mom popping in and catching us and you bolting," he laughed. "But I made sure of that by locking and sealing the room. Even Athena would have a had time coming in. I definitely did not want us to be disturbed once I got you interested. And I will say you appeared to be very interested and you cant deny that you weren´t?" he added teasing her a little which she took for once good naturally, blushing a little. "Even now, no one can come in unless I let down the barriers.""So that's why we haven't been bothered. I had wondered," she said, not totally dismayed by his confession. "So now what? What happens next?' she asked getting serious again. "You are still going to honor our agreement?" coming right to the point. She had to know. Too much was at stake."Yes, my love, I will, now more than ever since I now have a very personal stake in the outcome of all this. And by the way, as soon as we began sealing our deal I put shields around your mother, and Eve so that Athena's people wouldn't harm them while we were occupied," he told her, really surprising her with his caring and commitment to this new alignment."You did? Thank you," she said gratefully and meaning it as she shifted a little to sit up and lean back against the back of lounge to talk to him easier. He moved a little too to make more room for her. He was totally blowing her away with how he was already beginning to protect her family now as she had already begun to worry about her mom and her daughter. "So they are okay?" she asked knowing that he could look in on them with a thought."Yes, they are back at the inn with Gabrielle, worried and slightly puzzled as to where you are. Since the explosives didn't go off, Gabrielle has backed off, and is waiting to see what Athena is going to do," he told her, and then doing a bit of mental shifting to focus on Athena he told her, "Athena is still outside of town waiting for me and not too happily, I might add, as she can't break through my shields, and knows what you and I have been up to. Ohh, is she pissed as my getting with you weakens her position as top God since dad died," he told, her enjoying seeing Athena so frustrated and unable to do anything. "As to what happens next, damned if I know. I wasn't expecting what happened to really happen, you know. Before I had just vague plans, now I see I have to do better than that now that I really do have a family to worry about," Ares told her seriously, his eyes saying all as he closed the slight distance between them to kiss her gently, then he released her to go lay back against the pillows. "And I do mean family in all senses of the word," he told her."You really are taking the deal to heart, aren´t you?" Xena questioned, studying him closely, and deciding he really was."What? You rather I not?" he asked turning his head to raise a worried eyebrow, not understanding her."No, it not that. It´s such a turn around for you. I´m having a hard time dealing with it, okay? You get used to a person being one way. Habits I guess," she apologized, hoping she wasn´t pissing him off.He shrugged, "yeah, we kind of got into that, didn´t we? But what I´m trying to tell you and hope you will accept is that I want to change. I don´t want to be the Ares´ you know and despise. I want to be the Ares´ you can be proud of and maybe even love. Or is that so unbelievable? I have come so damned close to losing you for forever, Xena, both by my own stupidity, and by the actions of others, out of my control like Cesaer, that it woke me up. Then when you got pregnant with Evethat really shook me bad. As it should have been our child! I wanted it to be our child more than anything! The idea that someone else got you knocked up drove me nuts. That´s why I was hard on you because I was so angry someone else had touched you and I didn´t have enough guts to tell you how I felt," Ares confessed, and watched her to see how she was taking it."So that´s why all the games and temper tantrums you were having were all about?" She said, cocking her head to regard him with sympathy, the missing pieces falling into place now. "You were jealous? I suspected it, but there were so many other things going on with Eli and the Chakhum that I didn´t want to see it. And we both said some pretty nasty things to each other that fueled the fire furthergods, what a mess we have been making," she said realizing what had been going on."No shit," he agreed with a slight grin, agreeing with her assessment. "Admit it, we´re both hot heads? But I´ve learned. And I´ve learned hard and I promise not to try and make the same mistakes I have been making with you. There´s just too much a stake now. You, Eve, us, if you let there be an us," he said hoping still.She sighed looking at him. "Ares, ." Despite the loving making and the openness they had been sharing on every level she was still unsure. "I made this bargain, made you commit. I guess I do have to hold up my end. It will be hard, but I will try. I will at least give it a shot. I do keep my word. I know that´s not what you been wanting me to say, not the words you want to hear, but it´s the best I can do for right now," she said, knowing how much he really want her to say out loud that she loved him and that she was doing this for love not because of she had to honor her end of the deal,He just looked at her sadly understanding that this was the best he was going to get for the moment. "Kind of figured that. I will take what I can get. For now I guess we play it by ear. But I do want you to know I am not giving you up or letting you out of the deal, not now," he told her firmly, letting her know she wasn´t going to weasel out of this."So what are you going to do with me, and Eve now that we are under your protection´? Had you thought of that? Or was just getting me in bed the end all of your plans?" she questioned, pushing a little to see if he squirmed or not.He frowned and stared back hard at her, but kept his cool, he knew what she was trying to do. He wasn´t going to let it happen. "Believe it or not, yes, I have been thinking about it quite a lot. In fact way before you had Eve, actually. Like when I found out about it. I worried for you constantly wandering around like that. Worrying if you were going get hurt, if you were being taken care of, needed anything. I did keep an eye on you. If anything bad had come down I would have been there, believe it," he told her, enjoying her disbelief."I wouldn´t have known by the way you acted. Every time we saw one another we got into a fight," she reminded him.He looked pained, "yeah, I know. My big, stupid mouth and mad it wasn´t mine, okay? I just handled everything wrong," he said, not meeting her eyes. "I get around you and sometimes I can´t think straight as you make me crazy because I do care so much about you and want it to be right between us, and it never is except for brief moments like this," he told her glancing up to met her eyes.She smiled and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. "Yeah, but at least we´re talking. That´s a start. So what else did you have planned?"He leaned back and looked up, "I had all sorts of ideas. I dismissed my usual places as being too depressing for a kid. And you´d hate it. So I thought about setting you up in your own home, somewhere safe, lots of trees, sunshine, that sort of thing. Where ever you wanted. Your sidekick could stay too as long as I could be around in your life and be welcomed as a part of it, not the usual
greeting I get when I show up. It would be so nice to actually be wanted around, instead of dreaded and loathed. That gets real tiring," he said, with a weary sigh.
"And now?´ she asked, rather touched that he had thought about and with her comforts and needs in mind, not his."Pretty much the same, but with me around a lot more. A whole lot more. Especially for the protection angle. As I´m not sure how the family is going to take this. Sis is royally pissed now and the rest are going to find out real shortly. I´ve stuck my neck out big for you this time and I may even lose my immortality over this one, which would not be cool as then I really couldn´t protect you and Eve without my powers. My family does not play nice and your children threatens them," Ares told her."The first thing we have to do is to get Athena to back off and call off the siege. The people here don't deserve this. It isn't their battle it's ours. Then we can sort out us," she said starting to get up.His strong arm held her down and she gave in and laid back down on his chest. he relaxed then as he wanted to finish this discussion before they got back to the real world outside and had a few more things to tell her. "True, we have to put an end to this. You know this isn't going to be easy. My whole family is going to be majority pissed at me for quite a while, but with time they should cool off once they see that Eve is no threat. What they had been doing, pushing you into action, defending your kid was. They were making the Twilight themselves. I am not going to put you in the line of fire, I can't not when you are now carrying my child," he told her carefully and as gently as he could because he was already bracing himself for her reaction."I'm what?" she yelled, jumping up angrily staring at him. She was furious at him, herself for this happening."I said, you're pregnant. That was part of the deal too, remember? I protect you and Eve, and you give me a child of my own. I can already feel him. What? You think that I wasn't serious about that part? The one thing I have always wanted from you was a child. From the moment I saw you that thought was always in my mind for us," he told her rather bluntly, getting unsure now because of her reaction. He had thought she'd be happy with the news."Ares, I just had Eve not that long ago. I wasn't quite ready to go through another pregnancy so soon. Gods, I was not expecting this to happen," she said rather dismayed and really upset now as she sat on the edge of the bed looking at him."If you hadn't gotten pregnant, I would have been surprised. Hell, you got pregnant with Eve without sex so this should come as a big surprise?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow."No, ... I guess not," Xena replied, taking a deep breath to calm her nerves as she tried to accept her new circumstances and what bearing Ares' child would mean to her life, his, and the world too. Finally she couldn't help but laugh, at what a simple act as making love could do to chance one's entire destiny and path.Ares was puzzled by her outburst. One minute she was at the verge of tears and about ready to bolt, the next she was laughing. He was getting real confused. "So what's so funny?' he had to ask as he sat up in the bed looking over at her, edging back a little in case she wanted to deck him."Just everything. My worst nightmare becoming true. And now that it has happened, I'm just a bit shell shocked, that's all. The reaction of my family and yours to this added bit of news ought to be real fun, you know this don't you?" she asked turning to him."Yeah, barrels of it," he admitted grudgingly, seeing where she was coming from. "So, how do you feel about it?" he had to ask, bracing himself for more rejection despite what they had just shared."Numb is the word. Before with Eve, I didn't know I was pregnant beforehand. Still haven't figured all that out, the how and the why of it. But I believe you, have to believe you. Though I'm surprised that in previous times you didn't get me this way in view of what you just said," she replied, raising an inquiring eyebrow."It wasn't the right time. You weren't ready, and neither was I. A child then would have been like all my others and I never wanted that, not with you. I long ago decided that any child we had would be special, cared for, loved by both of his parents, because you are that special and precious to me, Xena," Ares told her taking her hand. "I want a life with you, our children. I've never wanted that before. I've never had anyone I cared about as much as I do you. And I promise you this child will be loved and cared for, protected, just like his big sister," he told her kissing her hand."Pretty sure it's a boy, already?" she asked amused at his conviction of what the child's sex was already going to be."Yeph. It's a God thing," he grinned back. "But we have lots of time to talk about it after we get Sis off your back. This is not going to pleasant in the least," he said getting up and with a snap of his fingers they were both dressed.She looked down and her clothes all in place as well as her weapons, and reaching up felt her combed and brushed hair, and laughed, "Thanks. There are times when I do appreciate your powers.""Yeah, that trick does come in handy when one is about to get company, like now," he warned looking up as simultaneously Athena sparkled into view, and Gabrielle and Cyrene with Eve in her arms burst in the door of the chamber.All three of their visitors had 'ohh shit' looks on their faces as they took in the two of them together one sitting on the bed, the other standing next to her, his arm affectionately on her shoulder, and the very rumpled bed. They could sense from both Xena and Ares a determined united front as they turned and faced their visitors."I see you two went through with your 'deal'," Athena spat angrily at both of them. Her face was a mask of fury as she took in everything and saw that she was too late to prevent their alliance."Yes, we did," Xena replied levelly standing up, facing down Athena, daring her to start something.Her answering before he could surprised Ares who thought that even now she would deny anything had happened, especially with her friend and mother in the room listening too."Ares?" Athena questioned coolly with a hint of anger in her voice not believing he´d actually do this or they both would. How dare he jeopardize their existence by sleeping with the enemy. She wanted to know from his lips the truth of the matter. She stood there with folded arms glaring at her brother and his 'pet mortal'."Yeph. It's a done deal," he smiled, wrapping an arm possessively around Xena's waist for effect which she didn't protest or remove knowing that they had to appear to be together for Athena to buy it.She would have normally removed it, but she let it stay as the next few minutes were critical for both her and her child's survival. Any hint of problems between her and Ares would be picked up on and exploited to Athena's advantage and that wasn't going to happen, not now."I see," Athena said disgustedly looking at them both, and knew that they weren't lying, and that they had sealed their bargain. She was furious as the mortal woman had again outsmarted her. It was a lost cause as Ares would fight her and anyone else for this woman. Despite the threat of the Twilight and Zeus' death, Xena still had allies on Olympus for favors she had done various gods. "So the woman and her child are now under your protection 'brother'?" she asked bitterly."Yes, Xena, Eve, her family, and her friends are all under my protection. Wouldn't want to give you any loop holes to get to her through them, would we?" he smiled back at his sister, surprising her that he had also included other mortals under his banner, just when she was about ready to blast them into nothingness--damn him, she thought. "You can now remove your troops, Sis. The war is over. You lost and I won," he said smartly, taking Xena into his arms and soundly kissing her before all and for her part Xena wrapped her arms around him and returned the kiss,."Grrr, you're not going to hear the last of this, Ares. I'm calling a Council meeting on Olympus in an hour--be there!" she yelled at him furiously, as she vanished in a blaze of angry blue light, or at least it sounded angrier to Xena's ears as she came up from their kiss."I think my Sis is a bit preeved at us right now," he told Xena looking down into her worried eyes.She nodded, "I kind of got that impression too," she said. "You think it's a good idea to have her this mad at us?"He shrugged, "it happens. She'll get over it eventually. Long as she pulls out and leaves your town alone it'll be worth a bit of her wraith. I think your mom and Gabrielle have a few questions for us," he motioned, looking past to her to see the two women staring at them, not having moved from by the door for fear of Athena doing dire damage to either one of them.Ares and Xena broke apart and nervously faced them. Gabrielle was understandably pissed and angry at Xena for going through with her bargain with Ares. Xena's mom on the other hand wasn't sure what to say or how to feel about this change of heart on her daughter´s part. Especially after all the things she had said about Ares and that she wouldn't go with him if he was the last man on earth--god or not."So you did do it after all you said you wouldn't let this happen--ever!" Gabrielle almost shouted in the face of her friend coming towards her, her balled fists kept tightly at her sides not trusting herself not to take a punch at Ares smiling at her, daring her to make a big scene.Xena saw no point in lying to her friend, and understood her pain and anger. This was not the way it was supposed to have gone down. But now that it had and with Ares added news she had to keep her end of the bargain up. "Yes, it did. And I am not sorry it did," Xena replied, catching both Gabrielle and Ares off guard.He looked at her with new respect and pride. He had fully expected her to double cross him once Athena had left, but here she was standing up for what they had done. Prudently, he kept silent for once, not adding in any smart digs as he wanted to ohh so very, very badly. maybe, he was learning, he thought as he smiled smugly at Gabrielle.Gabrielle stepped backwards stunned, her eyes going wide and horrified. "You're not...sorry?" she gasped in disbelief looking at her friend. "Xena? Goddammit, you slept with him--that monster, and you're not sorry?" she questioned horrified and dismayed at her friend´s change of heart."No," Xena replied, her eyes downcast, feeling her friend's pain full force. "I... I love him," she admitted in a quiet voice and you could have heard a pin drop in the chamber."You what?? You...love him?" Gabrielle questioned, her mouth hanging open taking in Xena's words which were a like a slap across the face and her soul. "No, no, no...this is a bad dream. I'll wake up soon. Yes, I will," she said talking to herself out loud, stumbling back from Xena not wanting to look at her, not even wanting to be in the same room with her."Gabrielle, you got to understand. I always did love him. I just didn't want to admit it to anyone, let alone myself, until today. What happened was mean to happen. It's right," Xena told her trying to talk to her friend as Cyrene and Ares looked on, keeping out of it."No, it's not. It can't be after all we've been through. What about you not needing any man or any God to protect you. That you could handle this. We could handle this. Remember all that before you came here?" Gabrielle angrily asked, her green eyes flashing real fire now as she confronted Xena."I do. But I was wrong. And I am not backing out from this Gabrielle and not just because of Eve. I have other concerns too now," Xena stated."What the bastard got you pregnant too?" Gabrielle shouted angrily, just guessing at that, not really suspecting it as a possibility."Yes. He did. I am," Xena confirmed, looking down then up at her friend, her eyes begging forgiveness."Ohh, shit...," her friend said staring at her, hurt written across her features. "How can you be sure? Nothing happened before.""He made sure this time. Before he didn't want it to happen. As to knowing, it's a God thing and I believe him. But it will be okay, I promise. Things are slightly different between us then there were before," Xena told, looking to Ares with trust and affection in her eyes towards him."I see," her friend said seeing the loving, almost worshipful look she was giving Ares. "Dammit, Xena, he's put you under some sort of spell, warped your mind, used his powers on you, something," she went on trying to come up with some sort of rational explanation for her friend's sudden change of heart. She wanted to shake her, snap her out of what had control over her mind and had her in grasp turning her from the person she loved and respected to whatever she was now. Gabrielle was dumbfounded by this total switch in behavior and feelings towards Ares by Xena. There had to be a logical reason for it as Xena was not play acting. She was serious and that was what was scaring Gabrielle. She heard Xena speaking, but she couldn´t believe the words she was saying."No, he just opened up to me in ways I can't even describe. I know him now, in a way I've never known anyone else. We merged, bonded, hell, I don't even know what to call it what did happen and neither does he. It never happened to him like this before. And that's not going to change," Xena tried to explain despite Gabrielle's head shaking, trying to cover her ears, and denying of what she was hearing."No,...I won't listen to this garbage, It's got to be some sort of sick trick on his part. Xena, this is Ares. There's always some sort of underhanded trick going on with him," she argued.Xena shook her head, "not this time. No tricks, just him, me, and no barriers between us. The way it was meant to be," she said taking his hand and squeezing it reassuringly."Okay, if that's the way you want it. I give up. He's all yours, so's your life, whatever," Gabrielle told her, fighting back her tears as she turned and fled out of the room before Xena could stop her."I need to go after her," Xena said weakly, appalled at her friend's opposition to this new alliance of hers. But Ares hand stopped her."Let her go," Cyrene said speaking up finally. "I'll talk to her. She needs to be alone, to think. She'll come around, eventually. You too have been friends too long for her not to accept this, if this is what you truly want" she told her daughter, questions in her eyes as well."Maybe you're right, Mom," Xena told her coming over and taking her daughter from her. "Hi, Evie, miss me?" she asked the wide awake child. Eve just gurgled back, her eyes brightening as her mom held her. "And you, Mom, you okay with this?" Xena asked, wanting her approval.Cyrene just shrugged, "I guess. Whatever makes you happy, Xena. If you want Ares, I don't have any complaint's. He is a god, but I may have preferred, Apollo, or Hermes," she said sweetly."Hermes, with the wings on the feet? ohh, please, Hermes??" Ares questioned, beginning to laugh, wondering about her mother's taste in gods.Cyrene stood up straight. "I saw him once and thought he was kind of cute, so there," she threw back at him not caring if he was a god or not. So this was going to be her son-in-law, the God of War?? She had known for sometime that this might happen since Xena had gotten involved with him as a teenager. There always been something more between the two of them than just normal god-mortal relations. She had watched the way he had looked at her daughter. It had always been as a man in love, and one never quite knowing what to do about it because of his pride and reputation.Ares just shook his head, grinning at her. He liked Cyrene. She had spunk, and a lot of her was in Xena. She killed her husband over Xena, and no one in town messed with her. She was one tough lady, like her daughter. She had almost been a warrior once, but backed out because she fell in love with Xena's father and decided to make love not war and settle down with kids.
"So you approve?" he had to ask."Yeah, I guess. But if you hurt my daughter or break her heart again, I will come after you, mister, God or not, got it?" she told him standing her ground with him, her arms folded determinedly across her chest."Yes, mam," he told her and mean it, backing up a step. He was almost grateful that she wasn't a goddess. He'd hate to see her really mad. She'd have given Hera a run for her money. And his mother had been a real bitch. Thought he had to admit he did miss both his parents. Things on Olympus had not been the same since they were gone. "I give you my solemn promise that I will love and take care of your daughter as well as your granddaughter and keep them safe from harm," Ares told her."Good, you do that and I'll have not have any problems with you," she said, satisfied with his answer. "Xena, do you want me to keep her or what? What are your plans now?" she asked her daughter."I'll keep her with me for the time being. As to plans, I honestly don't know what I, 'we' are doing next," Xena replied turning to Ares to see what if any plans he had.He saw Xena's eyes on him and told her, "I thought I'd check and see if Athena has pulled back her troops and then in awhile I need to go to the Council meeting. This one I'd better not miss. If you want you can come along?" he told her, seriously since this would no doubts be about her and Eve."Me? To Olympus?" she asked, considering whether it would be a good idea or not. She had been there before, so it wasn't any big deal. Yeah, it's be real good to give her side of things and stand up to the other gods that she was sure she was going to now be seeing a lot of. On the other hand, there was Gabrielle still to deal with and the townspeople too. It was a real toss up what to do. Maybe she should go and maybe take Eve too to show them they were all nuts being afraid of an innocent baby. "Okay, Ares, I'll go. Something tells me it'd be a mistake if I don't make a stand now. I want to take Eve too," she told him, and he arched an eyebrow, questioning her sanity at wanting to take her child into the lion's den of gods."Are you sure about Eve?" he had to ask, not that he was objecting but he wasn't sure whether he could protect them both if it happened to turn ugly up there."Yes, if we're in this together we're in it all the way. I want to prove that she has no powers. That your family is panicking for no reason. Let's let them see her, meet her. Let them see that she's no threat to anyone. What you backing off the deal?" she questioned with a frown trying to read him."No, no way. It might work. I hope so for both your sakes. This might be the only way to show them Eve's no threat and that we're serious about this. You aren't backing out, are you?" he questioned, suddenly afraid that she still might change her mind."No. I keep my promises," she told him and handed him the baby showing how much she did trust him.He had only held the child once before that she knew of. He wasn´t going to tell her he had been checking on the little girl a lot since she had been born, at least every couple of days when Xena was either sleeping or not aware of him. Each time Eve had been happy to see him, totally unafraid and they had had a great old time. They had been developing a bond of their own unknown to Xena. But what Xena didn't know was that her daughter did have abilities. They were well hidden and undeveloped, but there was something there, an unknown quality from the other group he wasn't familiar with. Eventually he was going to have to tell her about what he knew. They only thing he did know that since the baby's conception Xena had been stronger and more dangerous to his kind that she had been before. She could hold her own with any god, she just didn't know that, and he sure wasn't going to enlighten her either, not until he was sure about her and their relationship."Hi Eve, remember me?" he smiled at her and the child giggled back happily. Her chubby hands getting a firm hand on edges of his vest as she snuggled next him happy to see him, now becoming very content with her small world now that he was holding her. "See I told you she likes me," he told both her mother and grandmother who had been holding their breaths waiting for Eve's or his reactions. "I have been around one or two kids before," he added, having a firm grip on her as he smiled down at this small child that was so much a part of Xena. "Hi sweetheart," he told Eve and she giggled back.Cyrene cocked her head unbelieving but then finally smiled at him, reassured that her granddaughter was indeed safe in his arms. She was starting to look more favorably on this union. She so much wanted her daughter settled down and safe, not that Xena's life was ever going to be any way normal, not with having the gods of Olympus as in-laws, still she could only hope that she could be happy especially since there was going to be another child coming in the future. Another grandchild and this one part god. Though she still wasn't sure what Eve was yet as even with her limited senses she could tell that her granddaughter was different in some way. She still hadn't gotten a good explanation of who or what Eve's father was, and knowing Xena she never would. Ares didn't claim responsibility for Eve, and the only thing she had gotten out of Gabrielle was some fantastic story about angels and Callisto being one now and giving Xena the child. Right, sure. She really was going to buy that story like some simple peasant women. Wrong. Maybe one of these days she'd get a straight answer. "She does appear to like you, Ares," Cyrene finally said."Yeah, she does," he said smiling down at the little girl with eyes the color of her mom's but not quite the shape, those reminded him of Callisto as he could see her also in this child which sometimes unnerved him. "She's a good kid," he told her as he found Eve playing with his pendant, examining it very carefully, but not yet putting it in her mouth."I get to be your Daddy now, Eve. What do you think about that, sweetheart?" he told her not really expecting an answer, but when he asked the question she looked up with her perfect sky blue eyes, and smiled at him broadly, giggling as she touched his chest with her small hand right above his heart. From that moment on he was totally lost and vowed no one, God, or man, was going to hurt 'his' kid. "I guess that's a 'yes'," he told Xena staring down in wonderment at this small girl.Xena and her mother were just watching, staying back to give him, and the child time together. The women smiled and shook their heads incredulous when Eve touched his chest smiling up at him. She saw the loving, protective way he was now looking at her daughter, and how he accepted formally responsibility for her. Any lingering doubts she might have had about Ares were quickly being dissolved by the way he and Eve were getting along."I hate to be a party popper, but isn't it about time we checked to see if Athena has called off her people?" Xena finally asked him.He looked up slightly embarrassed, having forgotten all about that, really. He was having too much fun playing with Eve since he had sat down on the bed with her and was letting her stretch and play. He had even conjured up a soft chewable ball for her to play with. "Yeah, right," he said recovering and refocusing on the here and now as well as his duties. "We best be going if we're going to make the meeting on time," he told her rewrapping Eve in her blanket and settling her on his shoulder as he stood up and walked over to where Xena stood with her mother."Cyrene, we will back later tonight, and let you know how things went," he reassured Xena's mother."Thank you, I'd appreciate that, knowing, that is. Just be careful all of you," she said giving her daughter a quick kiss on the cheek and then giving Eve one too. She even gave Ares one too, before he could react and then laughing quickly vanished out the door."Mother," Xena gasped at her mom's boldness.Ares stood there a little stunned looking after his future mother-in-law with a grin on his face. He quickly recovered and told her, "your mom's a hoot. I guess that means I get the family seal of approval?"Xena smiled back," yeah, I guess you do. Sure we can do this?" she asked, wanting to know before they took off."It was going to have to happen sooner or later. We might as well get it done so we can hopefully have some piece and quiet. You really haven't had any for quite a while, have you?" he asked seriously."With my life the way it's been, no. I'm not even sure what peace and quiet would be like anymore," she told him truthfully."I want you to find out. You'll soon have two kids to worry about. I will make you a safe place where you and Eve can be happy. But we can talk about that when we get back," he told her, as he bent over and gave her a quick kiss which she returned. "Now we gotta go before we get too distracted. You do know I want a rematch," he grinned at her devilishly."We'll see," she grinned back mischievously as she took his hand and they vanished in a shower of bright blue light to reappear in Athena's camp.