Title: Mother Knows Best Author: Smenzer Email: Smenzerberranzan@aol.com Rating: PG Pairing: Ares/Gabrielle Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK? Teaser: Hera advises Ares on love Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or Whoever owns the Rights to Xena: Warrior Princess. This is just for fun. No $$$ is being made.

"Ares! I want to speak with you, now."

The God of War raised his dark haired head from where he had been resting on his carved stone throne. Floating before him in his dark temple was his mother's disembodied eyes. Such a sight would have scared even the most bravest of mortals, but Ares had seen it too many times before. The giant eyes floated up near the ceiling, red flecks running through the green of her eyes.

"We have things to discuss, Son." The eyes informed him.

"Yes, Mother." Ares rose and adjusted his black leather pants. He never sat on his throne the way he should, but carelessly lounged with one leg thrown over the chair's wide arm and his back against the other arm. From this position, he could quitely observe everything in his temple. A soft beam of pale light shone down on him from an upper window as if by magic, illuminating him for all to see. Of course, no one could see him unless he chose them to see him. Often his worshippers thought they faced an empty throne. The only other light sorce in the large dark temple were dimly burning candles and torches, their smoke filling the air with insence.

"I told you not to sit like that. Don't you ever listen to me?" The eyes complained. "It's bad for your back. You're a God, not one of those mortal scumbags! Act like one!"

"Yes, Mother. I'm sorry, Mother." Ares wanted to scowl but didn't dare. Hera's temper was legendary. She was even worse than Zeus. He tried to think what his Mother could possibly want to talk about, but came up blank. Maybe she was going to rant about Hercules again. It certainly was one of her favorite topics. Sighing, Ares finished adjusting his leather vest and his sword scabbard. His appearence had better be perfect or she'll never let him hear the end of it. He did love to lounge in his throne but unfortunately it tended to affect his clothes so it was no longer perfectly straight on his muscular body. Smoothing back his wavy black hair, Ares popped out for Mount Olympus.

He appeared a few minutes later in the hall outside his Mother's audience chamber. Hera was, afterall, the Queen of the Gods. The wide white marble hallway was spotless, Ares' reflection clearly visible in the polished floor. Lush green plants potted in gold containers, brought much needed color to the corridor. Pausing a minute, Ares took a deep breath before pushing open the gold doors and entering the chamber.

Hera sat regaly on her throne, her back straight. Her brown hair was neatly piled on top of her head and her brow was encircled with a think gold circlet: her crown. She wore a flattering dress that reached to the floor, white in color and trimmed with priceless jems near the throat. A dark cloak rested about her shoulders, more for looks than to protect her from a chill. Being a Goddess, it was impossible for her to get cold.

Ares walked into the room and approached his mother. When he reached her, he bowed at the waist. She may be his mother, but was still a Queen. "Mother."

"Son, I am concerned about you." Hera told him as she looked up at him from where she was seated on her throne. "All you do is work. You don't have a social life."

Ares blinked. This he had not expected. Ever since his mother came back from Tarturas she had been acting strange, going on about love and stuff. For awhile there, back in his temple, he had hoped his old mother had returned. That one he knew and understood. He knew what she wanted from him and that was to beat up Hercules, which he enjoyed. Of course, Hercules often won but Hera never really blamed that on him. She just sent more monsters or whatever after the half-mortal brat. Now suddenly Ares found himself on strage unfamilar ground. He wasn't sure what Hera was saying or how he should respond to this unexpected statement.

"Mother?" he asked, hoping she would elaborate her apparent complaint.

"All you do is wage war." Hera told him as she wrung her pale, long- fingered hands together. "I'm afraid that is my fault. And your father's. We pushed you to be the God of War, even when you didn't want to. Now it's the only thing you do. I didn't realize that before, but now that I've returned from Tarturas I see it so clearly."

"That's my job, Mother. You know that." Ares informed her matter-of-factly. "Someone needs to control mankind's agressive forces or chaos will reign. There will be mass murders and far worst."

"I know that, Son." Hera rose from her throne and grasped Ares by his forarm. She gently led him across the room to the large outer balcony doors. Standing on the balcony, they gazed down at Hera's rose garden. Her prized peacocks strolled among the ever blooming bushes. She smiled as a brilliant blue butterfly fluttered past them.

Ares was shocked. He gripped the curved railing before him until his knuckles turned snowy white. He was afraid he would leave deep grooves in the smooth stone from gripping it so hard. He had never seen his mother smile, not in that way before. An evil grin, yes, but not a genuine smile. What in the world had happened to her down in the black pits of Tarturas that could change her so much? And why in the world was she bugging him about a social life? It made no sense!

"But you don't have a social life. You can't wage war all the time." Hera explained to her son. "There are more important things to life than just doing your job."

A funny feeling settled in Ares' stomach. He had the sudden insight that his mother was going somewhere with this conversation, that she had this planned out ahead of time. "But I DO have a social life!"

"Oh, really?" His mother asked, turning to look at him. "With who?"

"I beat up Hercules all the time." Ares countered. "I talk to my warlords and then there's Strife and Discord."

Hera frowned, the age lines on her face becoming more apparent. "Giving warlords orders does not count, nor does brawling with your brother as a social life."

"Half brother." Ares reminded her.

"And Strife and Discord are very poor choices of friends." Hera continued, choosing to ignore his outburst. "No, Son, what you need is to get out and to see more people. Tell me, Son, do you have a girlfriend?"

Oh, so THAT'S what this is about. Ares fumed. Good ol Mom came back from Tarturas with a new outlook on life and had patched up her marriage with Zeus. Now she expects ME to do the 'house with the white picket fence and dog' routine.

"Of course I do! I have lots of girlfriends!" Ares replied. "I'm good looking, am I not?"

Hera raised one eyebrow, her green eyes steadily gazing at her son. "And tell me, who are these mysterious girlfriends of yours? I would like to know."

Ares' stomach tumbled around even more. What was he going to tell her? She wanted names! He stuck his chest out proudly and leaned against the stone railing, acting confident and at ease. Only being in thousands of wars gave him the ability to act so smooth when his nerves were totally shot! He had to act cool. "Well, I talk alot with Aphrodite...."

Hera rolled her eyes. It was obvious her son didn't have ANY girlfriends. "I know you and Aphrodite are good friends, but I meant someone you're not related to."

"Oh." Ares thought for a minute and a name popped into his head. "Xena!"

"Xena. That Warrior Princess of yours? The one that throws that....thing around?" Hera asked as she pretended to look out over her garden.

"Yeah, that's her."

Hera was quite for a moment, her lips pressed together as she thought. She slowly turned from her son and headed down a pair of marble stairs that led into her garden. She was pleased to see Ares followed her without any urging on her part. A secret smile spread across her face. Ares may be a great Warrior and a handsome God, but it was clear he was clueless about women. Oh, he thought he knew about women, all men thought they did. She paused for a minute, bending to sniff a pink rose. She gently gripped the underside of the delicate fragrant blossom, bringing it closer to her nose. Releasing it, she stood and gazed down one of the winding stone paths. "And you love this Xena?"

"Of course I do!" Ares replied, sure of his answer.

Hera turned around quickly, facing Ares. Her gown rustled noisely and the hem scraped across the stones. "Why? Why do you love her?"

"Because she's the best warrior around, that's why!" Ares replied. "Why else?"

Hera half expected that answer, so it didn't surprise her at all. "And does she make your heart race when you see her?"

"When she does her thing and kills stuff, yeah." Ares stared at his mother, unsure of what she was up to. Why was she asking all these questions?

"So you think the ability to kill things is a desired trait for your future bride?" Hera shook her head. "Son, you have enough violence in your life, in your job. You should not have it in your home as well. I do not believe this Xena is a good match for you. Nor will I accept her as the future Queen of the Gods!"

"Wait a minute!" Ares said, his full attention on his mother now. "What bride? I'm not getting married!"

"Perhaps not immediately. But I would like you to start dating a suitable young women, one that would qualify to be Queen." Hera turned and heading down the path, blooming red, pink and white roses on either side of her. After a short distance, she reached a delicate wraught iron table and sat down on one of the matching chairs. A kidney shaped pool was before her, the waters reflecting the blue sky and fluffly white clouds. Large dark green lilypads rested on the water's calm surface while pale pink spikey flowers drifted among the pads. The air was thick with the hum of bumblebees, dragonflies and butterflies. The pool had a calming effect on the Queen of the Gods. She had built this pond after her return from Tarturas: a tiny slice of the mortal world residing on Olympus. Whenever she felt her old habits returning, she came here. She hoped the place would have a similar effect on her son.

Ares caught up to his mother. He stopped before the table, his muscular legs spread wide apart for better balance. He felt under attack, even though Hera was showing not a drop of her legendary temper. "And what's wrong with Xena?"

"For one, she's been with too many men to be Queen. She is like Zeus and all his mortal fluzzies! My only son cannot marry someone like that. Besides, you don't truely love her. You admire her warrior skills, perhaps. Her courage in battle, the stratedgy. But that does not mean you love her."

Ares was silent. Everything his mother had just said was true. He DID like Xena because of her skill with the sword, her stratedgy, her prowess in battle. She was a worthy opponent. But if that wasn't love but admiration, then who did he love?

Could it be he had never experienced love?

Hera saw his bafflement and patted his arm. "Don't worry, son. We will find you a worthy date."

"But how? Xena is the only woman I know." Ares protested.

"Not exactly true." Hera replied with a smile. "You do know one other."

"I do?"

Hera only knodded her head and pointed to the pond. The image of a young woman slowly formed in the water. She was busy chatting as she walked alongside a very familar horse. The sunlight sparkled in her golden hair that cascaded over her shoulders. Something caught her attention and she stopped to apparently peer up into a tree, happily pointing at something. A moment later a tiny red bird became visible. Her unseen companion was apparently not interested in bird watching and didn't stop or even pause on the horse but kept going. When the bird flew away, the blond woman had to run to catch up with her silent traveling companion.

Ares groaned.

Gabrielle.

Gabrielle would never go out with him, netherless marry him! She hated his guts!

Didn't she?

"She won't go out with me!" Ares protested, his shoulders slouching in defeat. "She hates war and fighting and all that. I'm amazed she even eats meat and fish!"

"Well, you'll just have to prove her wrong in hating you. Show her your charming side, the side you hide from everyone."

Ares fumed. He felt like there was a dark cloud hoovering over his head. He knew it was useless!

"Now go! I expect you to be dating her soon."

The audience with his mother finally over, Ares rushed down the too sweet smelling path, almost choking on the fumes. A peacock got in his way and he angrily kicked at it. But the bird was too fast and easily avoided his boot. But his temper soon faded and he started to worry in ernest.

How in the world was he going to get Gabrielle to date him? And matters would be made considerably harder by Xena's overprotective mother hen act.

Heading for his temple, Ares felt the beginning of a headache blossoming behind his dark eyes.

It was going to be one of those weeks.....