Title: Dream Lover

Author: Smenzer

Rating: PG

Pairing: Ares/Gabrielle

Archive: Yes, please. Let me know if you take it, OK?

Teaser: A pre-Xena Gabrielle dreams of a handsome man. But what will happen when she finds him & realizes it's the God of War?

Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. They belong to Studios USA or

Whoever owns the Rights to Xena: Warrior Princess.

Author's Note: This story takes place before Gabrielle met Xena.

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Gabrielle blinked, startled to find herself surrounded by fog. She had no idea where she was or how she had gotten there. The last thing she remembered was falling asleep in her own bed. She glanced down at herself and saw she was still wearing her nightgown. The dense fog, as thick as clumps of white cotton, swirled around her as it caressed her with dampness. Shivering now, both from cold as well from fright, she turned around and around.

"Hello? Is anyone there?" She called, but her voice sounded small, muffled by the fog. Not knowing what else to do, she slowly walked in a direction picked at random. The ground was uneven beneath her bare feet and she almost stumbled several times. Dark shapes appeared out of the fog and Gabrielle relaxed when she realized they were only trees. The fog began to clear then and she saw she was in a forest, a forest clearing to be exact. "How did I get here?"

Only a thin layer of fog hovered above the ground now, hugging her ankles. Walking to the center of the clearing, she tilted her head back to see the sky. A full moon hung in the sky, shining like a great yellow disk. As she watched, the very upper tip of the moon turned bright red. Then the crimson color, as red as fresh blood, began to drip down the moon's surface.

Gasping, Gabrielle sunk to her knees on the cold ground. As frightened as she was, she couldn't take her eyes off the horrible sight. Her heart thudded loudly in her ears as she breathed too fast. More and more of the moon was covered in blood until no silver light remained. There was only the red.

"Surely it will drip off the moon and cover me as well!" Her panicked mind thought. She had never heard of such a thing happening before and could think of no reason for it now. How could blood get onto the moon?

A moment later Gabrielle realized she was no longer alone. A pair of black boots stood in front of her. She absently noticed they were well made and shiny. Raising her green eyes, she saw black leather pants, a fancy scabbard with a sword hilt sticking out the top. Two leather belts circled the man's waist, one being the sword belt. Both were decorated with silver, the regular belt having a fancy silver belt buckle that seemed to be the head of a beast. Her eyes traveled higher up his impressive frame, finding well muscled arms and a black leather vest. Where the vest parted on his chest, she saw the faintest hint of hair. Expensive gauntlets decorated with silver and red gems circled both wrists. Then her eyes went all the way up ho his face. Wavy black hair, soft chocolate eyes, neatly trimmed beard and mustache. A silver earring sparkled in one ear.

"Who ... who are you?" she asked as she gazed up at him, all of her fear vanishing.

"Come to me, Gabrielle." He spoke in a soft voice. "We belong together, for I am your destiny. When the moon is red, you will come to me."

"But how can I find you if I don't know who you are?" she asked, confused.

"Come to me...." He said, then vanished.

Gabrielle rose to her feet, twirling around. There had been no flash of light, no nothing. One minute he had been standing there as real as anyone else, then he had just disappeared. "As if he had never existed."

The fog started to roll back in and everything, even the red moon, was lost to sight. Only his voice drifted to her on waves of air currents, seeming to come from everywhere at once.

"Come to me, Gabrielle."

***

Gabrielle awoke, surprised to find herself in her own bed. She stared up at the ceiling a moment, the dream fresh in her mind. Sitting up, she glanced around the room. Everything was as it should be. The rough pine dresser was against the wall with her scrolls on them, the window was partly open as she had left it the night before. Throwing off the rough, home spun sheets, she scrambled to her feet. The wooden plank floor was cool to the touch. Hurrying to the window, she slammed it shut. Turning so her back was to the window, she spoke to herself.

"I have a destiny."

She said the words slowly, trying them out. Then excitement built up when she realized what they meant. "I don't have to stay here in Poteidaia anymore!"

Her bedroom door flew open and her sister hurried in. "Oh good, you're up. Mother wants you to come and help us bake bread. If you're going to marry Perd, you better learn how to bake."

"Oh, Lila! I have the most wonderful news!" Gabrielle breathed, her green eyes sparkling like emeralds.

"Please, Gabrielle, not that bard thing again!" Lila rolled her eyes. Strolling across Gabrielle's tiny bedroom, she flung open the closet door. Reaching inside, she pulled out a skirt and blouse. "Now hurry and get dressed!"

"I have a destiny!" Gabrielle explained as she held out the white skirt of her nightgown and twirled around. Her long blonde hair flung out behind her, the early morning sunlight turning each strand into spun gold. Stopping her spin, she hugged herself. "Isn't that wonderful? It came to me in a dream this morning. I was in this forest clearing and he came to me, my soulmate! He was handsome and tall and regale. You should have saw him. And those eyes! I have to find him!"

"It was only a dream, Gabrielle." Lila shook her head, a sad look in her eyes. "You have to get your head out of the clouds and out of those scrolls! They will be the ruin of you yet. You know what Father said about you and that bard thing. He'll have a real fit if you start blabbing about some imaginary lover!"

"He's not imaginary!" Gabrielle retorted angrily. Her hands clenched into fists. "I saw him! He told me to come to him."

"And did he leave a name? Say where he lives?" Lila asked, a smile on her lips.

"Well, no..." Gabrielle admitted.

"See? I told you he's not real!" Lila smirked. "Now forget about this mysterious stranger and being a bard. A women's place is in the home, cooking and cleaning and caring for her babies. Proper women do NOT go strolling through forests and being bards!"

"You're only repeating what Father said." Gabrielle told her sister's back as Lila left the room. "Some of us have our own original thoughts, you know."

***

Gabrielle kneaded the stiff bread dough, her mind a million miles away. The thing was, she just didn't fit in. Oh, at first she had been too young to notice. But the older she grew, the gap between her and her peers grew greater. She just found life in Poteidaia so ... so ... boring!

"Always the same old thing." She sighed as she folded the bread this way and that, pounded on it with her fists. Why did she have to bake bread for anyway? Why not just buy fresh loves from the baker? Besides, that's why the baker had a shop! And making bread took so long. First there was measuring  and mixing and kneading and pounding, then letting it rise, more pounding ... ugh! It just seemed such a big waste of time. Then one had to worry about the right temperatures in the oven, pulling it out without burning yourself. Would it be too hard, too soft, too chewy, goo in the center? Gabrielle paused for a moment and lifted her hands before her green eyes, frowning. Her hands were a real mess, coated in a thick layer of flour. It would take forever to get off. The darn stuff acted like glue! "Ah, if only I could see the world!"

"There will be no such talk in this house, young lady." Her father's voice said.

Gabrielle spun around only to find him standing behind her. "But why can't I be a bard, father? You know I can write! There's so much more to the world than this little town. I want to see the great cities, like Athens! The ocean with it's great white winged ships, to have an adventure!"

"I know you think I'm being cruel to you, daughter." Her father explained as he gently pushed her into a wooden chair. "But it's for your own good. It's just too dangerous for a lone women, even a group of women, to travel by themselves. There are crude men in the world who would dishonor you if they could. Some would even kill you. I'm sure you've heard the stories of warlords who raid villages. A lone woman traveling by herself would be an easy target. You will feel better after you are settled with a husband and a home to care for. Perd is a good young man and he'll take care of you."

"But a woman is more than just a baby maker! For I have a mind, too!" Gabrielle protested. It was so unfair that men could travel just because they had an extra piece of flesh on them.

"Gabrielle, I don't know where you get these ideas from." Her father stared at her, a confused expression on his face. "If you would just try harder to be like the other young ladies..."

Gabrielle rolled her eyes. "They are so boorish! Thinking of only clothes and putting charcoal on their eyes, gossiping about the village boys at the well. They never had an original thought in their entire life."

I'll see you later. I need to go to town." Shaking his head, her father went outside to do his work. Out of his two children, Gabrielle was the one he didn't understand. Sometimes he thought her life would have been easier if she had been born male.

Sighing, Gabrielle rose from the chair and started to pound on the mass of dough. She would use the time to think up a plan to find her soulmate. Although her mother could force her hands to make bread, she had no control over her thoughts. And that suited Gabrielle just fine.