When

Note: I really thought this story was complete. I have been rereading my older stories over the past few weeks and discovered although it was marked as "complete" the last chapter seemed to be missing. So I will add a new chapter to finish it. I've been trying to finish older ones anyway lately.

000

Ares reappeared where they had left Gabrielle with the horses, the blonde bard turned warrior resting on the ground on a thick cushion of white blooming flowers. The God was clean once more, the thick horrid red goo that had looked so much like blood gone from his body and clothes. His thick black hair gleamed as did the silver studs on his black leather outfit. Without wasting another moment, he knelt by the ill blonde and placed his hand on her arm, the one that had been jabbed by the tiny seed. Healing was not his thing but he had to try. Gabrielle's breathing was shallow and tiny coughs made her shake on occasion, her eyes not opening as she lay prone. The coughs suggested the roots had entered her lungs and he frowned.

The god closed his eyes and concentrated on healing her with his powers. He imagined all of the root-like plant material snaking through her body gone. He willed them gone. He would not allow them to stay. His power easily entered her body and just like that, she was healed.

He sat back on his heels, surprised how easy it had been. He had thought his inexperience at healing would have caused some minor hiccups but with Apollo dead, well, maybe the powers were looking for a new home? Ares frowned at the idea. He didn't want word to get around he could heal people! It would be embarrassing! He was War, not some healer. Still, he was grateful it had worked to heal the blonde. For some reason there was a soft spot in his heart for her. Maybe it was because she had never feared him as most did.

Her eyelids fluttered and he held his breath.

Then her eyes opened, her gaze slowly focusing on him. He could see the confusion on her face and he pondered how much she actually remembered. She had suffered a fever and had been delirious, seeing things not there. "Ares? What's going on?"

"One of those floating heads infected you with a dart. You've been ill. Do you remember?" Ares watched her carefully for any sign she may still be ill but saw the color was coming back to her skin. He breathed a silent sigh of relief.

Gabrielle slowly sat up, wrinkling her nose at the horrid stench that hung in the air. "Vaguely. It's all very fuzzy. I do remember those nasty heads though. But wait, how did I get better? I thought people infected turned into one of those awful trees?"

"I healed you." He admitted as he stared into her blue eyes. They were like deep blue pools. Funny how he had never noticed before.

"You healed me." Gabrielle stated as she stared at him uncomprehending. "Why would you heal me? I mean, you're the God of War. I didn't even know you could do that…"

Ares shrugged as he tried to act cool about the whole thing. For some unknown reason his heart was pounding fast and he just told himself it was from hacking at that tree. Yeah, that was it. Cutting a tree down with a sword was hard work and therefore required lots of muscle power, which got the heart pumping. It had nothing to do with possible feelings for this mortal. "I guess I can. Truthfully, I didn't know I could do it either…"

"Yes, but why heal me? You let thousands upon thousands die in wars but you heal me? I don't understand why you'd do that." Gabrielle watched him carefully, her strong gaze locked on his face looking for the slightest clue. "Of course I appreciate it. Thank you, Ares."

"Yeah, well, maybe I didn't want you to die…" Ares admitted as he cast his gaze down at the white flowers suddenly finding them mighty interesting. "I like you, OK?"

"You like me?" She repeated.

"Yeah! What's wrong with that?" His gaze returned to her pretty face and those amazing blue eyes. He plucked one of the flowers and boldly stuck it into her short blonde hair, right behind her ear. "It's normal for a man to like a woman you know and in case you didn't notice, Gabrielle, I'm a man."

"But…" Her eyes grew wide and her hand lifted to feel at the flower that was now tucked in her hair. "I thought you liked Xena!"

"I admire Xena, yeah. She gets my blood lust pumping." Ares admitted as he thought of how glorious the Warrior Princess could be. She could effortlessly do thing others could never ever do or even think of doing. "But blood lust and desire are two different things. A lion feels blood lust for his prey, right? He dreams of sinking his teeth into that warm carcass and eating his full. But guess what? He doesn't take his prey out on a date now does he?"

The news seemed to shock Gabrielle somewhat at first and then a smile spread across her lips. Her eyes twinkled happily and she suddenly threw herself forward at him, wrapping her arms about his neck. This unexpected move started the God and he fell over backward into the flowers so he lay on his back, the blonde on top of him. He gazed up at her, grinning. "You know, I could get used to this easily…"

Gabrielle blushed at the position they were in, as it was somewhat compromising. Even after all she had been through, she was still innocent in some ways and didn't let things affect her. She still believed the best of people and wanted to help them. The whole Dahok thing hadn't stained her and her heart was still pure. Xena had gone evil and had come back, but that had never happened to Gabrielle. Yes, she was a warrior now but one with a good heart. She placed a hand on his chest, clearly preparing to rise and to get off of him.

Ares sensed her intentions and quickly reached upward, locking a hand behind her neck. Effortlessly he pulled her head downward and pressed his lips against hers. He could imagine her lovely eyes widening in shock and he grinned inwardly. He didn't want to scare her though, so he let the kiss end. He had told her his intentions in the best and most clear way. Then he let his hand drop back to the field of flowers.

Her hand rose to her lips, feeling them. And just as he had expected, her eyes were wide as can be. "You kissed me!"

"That I did." He grinned. "You wanted to change me and maybe you did. I guess you got more than you bargained for, huh?"

"It's not funny!" Gabrielle insisted as she saw his wide grin. "You're a God!"

"Me being a God never bothered you before." He pointed out. "So why should it bother you now? Admit it, Gabrielle. Inside that head of yours you always thought I was hot, didn't you?"

"What? No!" Gabrielle blushed furiously, her face turning as bright red as a ripe tomato.

"I rest my case. Your face proves my hypotheses." Ares grin grew even wider, enjoying her discomfort. "Hey, I don't blame you. I look good! Why go for some mortal loser when you could have me? It's perfectly normal to be attracted to someone. There's nothing to be embarrassed about."

"I know that!" She replied, her face still red. "It's just… just… you snapped this out of the blue at me!"

"Did I? Hmmm…I seem to recall feeling on your leg when we were in bed at that farmhouse?"

Her eyes grew even wider. "I thought you did that by accident!"

"Nope." Ares laughed, his mouth open wide to reveal perfectly white teeth. His silver earring shook from his laughs, the metal glinting in the sunlight. "Really Gabrielle, you're so innocent sometimes! I'm going to enjoy dating you. I bet I can get a reaction out of every little thing I say or do."

She hid behind her hands for a moment as she tried to calm herself.

"You do want to date me, don't you?" He asked feeling a tad worried. He wanted to have some fun teasing her but he didn't want to scare her away, either. He sensed she grew calmer, her breathing growing steadier.

She lowered her hands, her cheeks still very pink but not as red as before. "I … I'd like that. I never dated a god before so I have no idea what to expect…"

"We'll have fun. I'll take you fantastic places." Ares promised with a smile. "Just think, Gabrielle, with my powers we can go anywhere you want to in a blink! We can visit far off lands, even places Xena never heard of. We can have picnics on top of clouds even."

"Really? Is that even possible?" She gazed at him in wonder, the nosy bard with the endless questions awakening inside her.

"Of course it is!" Ares declared boldly, knowing he had her hooked now. "I'm a real god, Gabrielle. I can do a lot more than just fling fireballs at warlords or pop around. Did you know I have a vacation place on Mars? It is my planet you know…"

She smiled at him for a long moment, content. The awful stench was getting to her though and she sighed. "We really should bury those poor people…"

Ares watched her get up, missing her weight and warmth on him already. He had to be patient and take things slow with her. She was like Xena, experienced in all sorts of lewd activities. And that made him glad actually. Maybe in the future he would offer her Ambrosia and make her a divine being like him. They were short on gods due to Xena killing most of them and jobs were going undone. Yes, she would make him very happy someday in the future. He rose and followed her out into the body-littered field, planning on helping by blasting a huge hole in the ground with his powers. He wanted to get this finished with as soon as possible so he could focus on his future with Gabrielle.

She reached out then and took his hand, holding it. His heart leaped at the simple action and he felt good, really good.

Yes, the future was going to be bright.