What Now The Future Brings

by Vickey Brickle-Macky 10/21/2000



This is my first Xena fiction--I'm usually doing Beauty and the Beast or Forever Knight stories. I've never felt compelled to write Xena until recently when the events of the 5th season really started to bug me story wise and it was a real big disappointment to find out that Ares wasn't the father of Xena's child. I'm also a long standing Ares fan. This takes place right after the ending scenes of "Motherhood" and before start of 6th season.

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.

Some strong language, arguments, implied sex between Ares and Xena and no real violence. A little Gabrielle bashing.

        They were camped by the sea, the four of them. Ares waited at camp while 'his' ladies went on ahead to the shore itself. None of them were fully recovered from the events on Mount Olympus several days ago. The larger world itself was just beginning to realize that something was different, something had changed just beyond the fringes of their awareness and understanding. The mortals were just beginning to realize that their gods were gone. Not all the gods were dead, but those that still remained were diminished in strength and abilities. Fading away to nonexistence unless they chose like him to be mortal. They no longer had the power to control mortal lives the way they always had. Mankind was going to be able to be self determining of their own fates rather than have their destinies determined by the gods as they always had been.

        It hadn't just been Xena's doing that had signed the God's death warrants and was now ushering in this "Twilight of the Gods". He was fully responsible too. It would have been so easy to let Gabrielle and Eve die, as they bled to death on the floor of the audience chamber on Mount Olympus. And they had died, the divine spark had left their bodies. He had felt it and he had seen that when Xena's sword passed harmlessly through Athena's body. Xena had lost the ability to kill gods. Athena had seen it too and immediately took gleeful advantage of the situation and would have killed Xena if he had not interfered. He did it for love, for love of her, of Xena. He also had to admit he had a soft spot of Gabrielle and Eve as they had also been his once too. Though never in the way Xena had been, and he hers.

        He had known fully what he was doing as he leaned against the pillars, wrapped in chains that robbed him of his powers. That had been her doing, but he didn't care, it was justice for what he had done earlier in helping sic the Furies and Hope on Gabrielle to fill her head with revenge and madness for Eve killing Joxer. He had distracted Xena so she couldn't interfere when Gabriella sought out Eve to kill her gloated on by the unseen gods. She had realized she had been duped and ran in but not fast enough to stop Gabrielle from stabbing the weakened Eve in the back. Xena had hesitated just long enough then tore between protecting her child and killing her companion. The charkram had sliced against Gabrielle's head, not killing her instantly as it could have. Gabrielle crumpled to the ground next to Eve, they were both still alive but starting to die from their wounds. Xena gave to their keeping to Aphrodite as Hades, Athena and Strife started loping their fireballs and engaging Xena. After Xena killed Hades and Strife, he and Athena had left to regroup. It had been Aprodite that had transported Xena, Eve and Gabrielle all to Olympus to end the battle one way or the other.

   He still didn't understand how that had happened. Who the unknown other player was that could grant Xena such powers and abilities. There was much more going on than he was seeing, a larger game plan than even his family was aware of. He still didn't have a grasp of who or what this god of Eli's was that was causing people to flock to his side rather than to the old gods as they had always done. But whatever this god was it had power, enough to give Xena the ability to defend her daughter and physically hurt and kill his fellow gods and goddesses. And in some unknown way he was somehow part of this grander plan. He had seen that with Eli--he had known, dammit he had known, and welcomed my killing blow as part of some greater destiny for all of them. He and that turncoat Callisto who was now some sort of heavenly being that he didn't even understand. She had been his creature like Xena, and then one of them, a goddess, now she was something other, part of this new god's creatures. It was getting very confusing and terrifying for all of them.

        So what plan did it serve for him to be fully mortal with no hope of regaining his immortality or powers? What was he going to do now? He was the God of War and no matter what Eli's followers thought there was still going to be a need for him. Mankind was not going to overnight turn into peaceful sheep, people couldn't change their basic natures. So who was going to be the new kid on the block and take his place? He suspected that they were soon going to find out as there had to be a balance between good and evil and so far he was only seeing the good.

        As far as what he was going to do next, he didn't have a clue. He'd be a warrior, but he wasn't sure how he'd really hold up when confronted by a mortal adversary. He could fight, but most of his was show backed up by his powers, and not real abilities, and skills like Xena had. In a real fight he would lose big time and he knew it. He liked his skin such as was now-- intact. This pain thing he could do without. He had had enough of pain before when Dear Departed Daddy Dearest had turned him mortal as punishment on several occasions. His arm was still sore from where Xena had cut him during the battle. Now he had to do the eat and sleep things again, and to know what it was like to be really bone weary tired and ache all over.

        He was asking himself it was worth it, was it going to be worth it--he hoped so. His actions were now setting whatever that was yet to come into being. He was now the turncoat God--that was how he'd be now remembered by all. For the love of a mortal that probably didn't give a damn about him anyway, he had brought Eve and Gabrielle back to life without Athena's permission sacrificing not only himself, but the fate of his fellow gods by his actions. Gods, he hoped this was going to be worth it and he just hoped his sacrifice for her hadn't been in vain. Yeah, for the bigger picture he still wasn't sure whether he had done the right or wrong thing. But for the more immediate future of his and Xena's maybe life together it was. And that was what he wanted--a life with her, by his side always, mortal, immortal, he didn't really care just as long as they were together--that's what counted, what mattered.

        Somewhere along the line of knowing her and being in her life, she had taught him to love, to care, to feel. And she couldn't see it. She still thought it was a trick, some kind of plan within a plan like he usually had when they met. This was not trick. He loved her, he really loved her with all the depths of his being. And his feelings hadn't changed with his mortality in fact they were more intense and painful, these feelings, these emotions within this body. He had never been this fully mortal before because he had always retained some of his powers. Now he had none. His heart was now bleeding as much as his wound had bled. He was beginning to see everything in new ways, with new understandings, and it scared him. Being fully mortal was a terrifying experience and no wonder mortals had prayed to the gods to endure just living day by day.

        How was he going to convince Xena that he was sincere? That he was willing to change to be whatever she wanted of him for her love. So far he didn't have a clue. Then he was also going to have to convince Gabrielle and Eve that he was sincere too.

        Gabrielle was still skeptical with good cause, and Eve? Eve was in shock still trying to figure out what and who she was. Xena had done that too once but somehow he sensed that Eve's struggle to find herself was going to be harder in view of all the other prophecy stuff that had been heaped on her head as well as her divine origins. If he hadn't seen Xena infused by the spirit of Callisto with his own eyes he wouldn't have believed it either. This immaculate conception stuff was still bothering him, at least if he got Xena pregnant they'd have fun doing it and she definitely remember it. But to get a woman pregnant that way was plain cheating in his book. And he was still trying to figure out why it had been necessary to do it at all? Then pick of all women, Xena, as the vessel for this? Why his warrior princess, why not some nobody pleasant woman, someone completely unknown? So far this was not making a whole lot of sense and he had had twenty five years of thinking this over and still wasn't any closer to an answer. They were still missing pieces to this puzzle and he wanted to understand and not be left in the dark like this.

        He looked back down the hill to where the three woman still sat overlooking the water. They needed this, this peace this quiet. They all did. He knew that their battles weren't over. This was just another small bit of space between, the quiet before more storms. Sunset was just beginning across the waters and he saw Xena rise at last from where she had been sitting with Gabrielle. They would be coming back soon.

        Eve was still playing with the grasses by her, not seeming aware of anything or anyone. She had been this way for awhile since she had been told the truth in Eli's temple by Callisto. She was no longer the fierce warrior she had been, she wasn't much of anything, she just existed because she had to because Xena and Gabrielle said she had to. If it had been up to her she would be dead. Living and going on no longer mattered to her, nothing did. Her spirit was broken and she didn't want to regain it because she felt she didn't deserve to for all that she had done. Her eyes were so haunted. It hurt to look at her or to be looked at by her now, remembering what she had been, so proud, so much a warrior with the potential of surpassing her mother's skills, but sadly there had been no heart, no compassion, no feelings for others there. He could only care about and guide the warrior, but not the woman.

        He still found it hard to believe that he never connected Livia as being Xena's daughter. The girl growing up had been so much like his warrior princess that he had been drawn to her like an arrow shot from a bow. Hoping to not make the same mistakes with her that he had with Xena to make her perfection, to make her into his lost love. To make his Xena and his heart be reborn again. For he had really believed Xena dead and as far as he knew the child was as dead as the mother had been. In his grief he had believed all had perished. He had believed the surface deceptions and never bothered to go beyond the appearances and see if they were all really dead. He was still holding a grudge over his being deceived like that.

        He had finally come to terms with her being dead and forever gone from his life. Then out of nowhere she returns as beautiful as ever. When he saw her alive he almost lost it. His heart leaped for joy, so happy he was she was back, back in his life, and they might have a chance to repair all the damage they had done to one another and start anew. But it was not to be as she had found out that he had been pursuing Livia/Eve, training her, guiding her, and even having a few minor flings with her.

        She blamed him for not knowing--that wasn't one of his powers--never had been. In many ways he was just as blind to seeing past appearances and knowing what was going to happen next as any mortal--she never had caught on to that. A god was supposed to know these things according to her--yeah, right. His Dad maybe could do that and some of the other gods but he had never had that ability unless it had to do with war and war of the sexes didn't count.

        After Xena found out she could only see red over what he had done to her daughter in her absence, what she had become. And they fought bitterly. Instead of a joyous homecoming, it became a pitched battle between them. Xena mad at him for putting her and Gabrielle in that ice cave and not being able to wake up for twenty five years and missing out on seeing her daughter grow up and guiding her. It was the blood thirsty, power hungry monster that her daughter had become that hated her guts and wouldn't believe she was her daughter and who she was that really had her upset as well as she couldn't believe that he didn't know, hadn't suspected a thing. According to her he should have--and grudgingly he had to admit he should have known too. He'd almost suspect it then shake it off because as far as he knew Eve was dead. Watching her grow up he wanted Livia to be Xena so much and she wasn't. It was because she reminded him so much of her. Now he understood why.

        So now what? he asked himself watching the trio approach. Where do they all go from here? There had to be reasons why this all happened, as well as reasons for the future. Before he would have been able call on the Fates to help him sort out what needed to be done but they could no longer hear him or else they chose not to answer--he wasn't quite sure about what had happened to them. So he would have to wing it and hope he got it right this time.

        He unfolded himself from the ground to stand and meet them. None of them looked too great, nor should they after what they all had been through. Their bruises and cuts were healing, but the scars on their souls were going to take longer to mend if they ever could be mended.

        "The rabbit's almost done," Ares told Xena as she walked towards him with a slight limp. She acknowledged his words with a brief nod, no more, and then turned to watch Eve come trailing in slowly behind her to sit again some distance from the group as she had been doing.

        "Good. I see you remembered how to cook," she almost smiled, looking up at him grateful for his presence and willingness to share the camp tasks.

        "I'm relearning. Since I've known you I have spent more time as a mortal than I have ever had to. I have discovered I do like to eat," he replied, turning the meat once more, and stirring the ashes of the fire where the tubers had been cooking to see if they were ready, which they were, then speared them to get them out of the fire to cool so they could eat them.

        "It smells wonderful," Xena complimented, as she took her belt knife and picked up one for Eve and handed it to her. Eve looked at it and eventually picked it up and ate sparingly of it only because her mother was watching her, making her eat.

        Xena gave one to Gabrielle who took it almost absentmindedly and began eating. Ares helped himself as did Xena, Their companions may not have been hungry but they both were. The rabbit was done finally and portioned out, followed by some dried fruit and wine. Deep silence hung heavy between them all as the twilight deepened into evening and the stars came out. Only the sounds of the night creatures could be heard over the crackling of the campfire.

        "So where are you heading from here?" Ares finally asked, hating the silence and how depressed they all were.

        Xena shook her head, not meeting his eyes. "I'm not sure yet. Maybe back to Amphipolis to see if my mother is still living or if anyone I knew is. I would like her to see her granddaughter. I still have not gotten used to being twenty five years ahead of myself. The world is so changed from what I knew and I am so out of place," she said looking up at the stars then over to Gabriella who was listening with her head down.

        Ares wasn't sure what to say to her that didn't sound flippant or unkind. He had been alive for many thousands upon years, but outside of his brief stretches of mortality here and there he hadn't really had true awareness of time passing. It was not something important to an immortal. On some level he was becoming aware of what she was saying as time had stopped for him when he had put her and Gabrielle in their ice coffins. Everything had stopped with her 'death' and had restarted when she had come back. The intervening years had just passed with no remembrance or significance to them, just as most of the previous centuries had. He hadn't even thought about it before this. How could he explain to her that he had lived yet not lived without her being in his life? Would she believe him? Would she even care? The only words of comfort he could offer were, "it'll just take awhile to adjust."

        She nodded, a little reassured. "I know. We can't go back in time because 'now' is where we are supposed to be. I don't think if we could go back that what has just happened could have really been altered that much," she said with a finality in her voice.

        "No, I don't think so either. We all tried to change what was prophesied and it backfired. I for one have learned you can't change fate to suit your own ends," he said with a sigh, stirring the ashes and adding more wood to the fire.

        Xena looked at him and quirked and eyebrow. "That's a new one for you. You who used to change the rules to suit your ends however you could."

        Ares looked embarrassed, and meekly met her eyes, "yeah, I know. I can't do that anymore. As a god I could get away with stuff like that--now I can't. There isn't going to be any divine reprieves for me--not this time. I play the games I used to and I'm dead--really dead this time. I'm not ready to die yet. I've got to figure this mortality thing out. Before I played at being mortal, now there's no playing--this is it--endgame. Somehow I have to make it right this time," he confessed sincerely, and stared off into the flames of the fire.

        Xena heard his words, but she wasn't sure what to make of them, whether to believe him or not. Too many times she had trusted him, and then been betrayed. The only thing she did know was he was scared, and this was as close as he was going to come to admitting it in front of Eve and Gabrielle. To her, face to face he could say it, but he wasn't going to drop the bravo easily or the arrogance. He was now weak and vulnerable and wasn't coping with it too well.

        "Xena, I'm going to turn in and get some sleep," Gabrielle announced tiredly, not having anything she really wanted to say and too much already on her mind she didn't want to say quite yet when she was this tired. Standing up and brushing the dirt off she went over to where her bedroll was a few feet away and started laying it out. As soon as she was through she got under the covers and laid with her back to them without a word.

        Eve did the same not saying a word to anyone, laying hers close by Gabrielle's, looking back over her shoulder every once and a while at Ares and her mother still sitting by the fire. The haunted, tired look was still in Eve's sad eyes, and it had both Xena and Ares concerned. When she was done she finally said, "good night, Mother, Gabriella," pointedly not saying good night to Ares and crawled into her bed and threw the covers over her head.

        Xena sighed at her offspring's rude manners, and glanced over to Ares who was seeming to take it all in stride. If Eve's coolness towards him was bothering he wasn't letting it show. Xena didn't even want to know how close he and Eve had gotten in her absence. And she doubted if either were going to tell her. Maybe that was for the best. They all had issues with one another which were not going to be worked out and resolved for awhile.

        She was tired, but she was restless too as she could tell he was. The food had at least helped their bodies, but otherwise her spirit felt leaden. Ares got up suddenly and walked away from the fire towards the sea, sensing he wanted to be left alone she let him and didn't follow.

        The crescent waxing moon was rising above the tree tops across the rise, its silver light starting to brighten the landscape. She could hear wild dogs barking in the distance, but they were no threat with the fire. Except for the four of them they were quite alone on this isolated shore line. They had come here because it was away from other people, mortals who had no idea of what major events had just happened to their world. Away from people that might recognize them too. None of them were unknown nobodies, ordinary people, their destinies had never allowed them to be, but now they all had to figure out how to be just plain people if they could.

        After Eve's birth that is all she had wanted to be, plain ordinary, raise her daughter, and put down roots somewhere she wasn't known--yeah right--not too many places she wasn't known. If the Gods had just left her alone, none of them would be in this fix now, the Gods hadn't and so most of them were gone and now they just had to wing it with their lives and cope with the aftermath as best they could.

        Now she had a grown daughter she wasn't sure what to do with. A bloody warrior like herself that had suddenly been shown the truth about herself and her divine origins, and was being led on a spiritual path that none of them fully understood. Eve couldn't even defend herself now, and didn't want to, deliberately leaving herself wide open and vulnerable. It wasn't even the same as when Gabrielle couldn't defend herself. It was much worse as Eve wanted to die and let herself be a target which meant in a fight someone was going to have to watch her daughter's back as well as their own. Eve wouldn't even fight or defend them if they went down either. She'd just sit and stare and do nothing. And considering how badly people wanted her dead for what she had done as Livia, all the killings of women and children and whole villages it was very dangerous for all of them.

        After they stopped by her mother's village and maybe Gabrielle's home village to see if any of their people were still alive they should really think about going to another part of the world where Eve couldn't be recognized or them. She wasn't even sure how many people knew that she was resurrected and back. She didn't want the cycle of violence to continue. She just wanted to be able to put her sword down for awhile and not have to watch her back. She really did want to just settle somewhere and grow old.

        Then there was Ares. He had been remarkably quiet, and very nontalkive for him. So far he hadn't made any mention of plans for himself or with them. He was just hanging with them. Actually, it was more hanging with her as Gabriella and Eve were not happy with him traveling with them. He was being tolerated because she had invited him along to keep an eye on him.

        She still had feelings for him, and it was clear he still cared otherwise he wouldn't have saved her daughter and her friend and sacrificed his own family and immortality. He had finally told her point blank that he loved her, and meant it. Though she hadn't handled it well. It was still bothering her that she had given him such a very lame "thank you" on Olympus after what he had done and given up. She should have said more, but she had been too stunned, tired and in shock from the events of the battle with his family. Up until now there hadn't been any breathing room to sit and think and figure out what to say to him. And she still didn't know what to say to him.


Continued in Part 2



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