Apology by Melskim
Disclaimer: I do not own anything. This story is for entertainment only.
A/N: This is a Xena & Ares story. There's a little bashing of Gabrielle, not too much, though it's more conflicted feelings.
Time Line: Set right after The dirty half dozen, with some allusions of the Deliver, Dept and Maternal Instincts.
I said to Agathon I would not interfere and I kept my word. She was mad at me, not only because I had given some wanna be warlord the metal of Hephaestus. No, she was mad because I mention—compared her to him, brought back memories of our time together. But I know she knows I did interfere. I could have just help his case in the forge room; but no, she had said the word. No one could understand what our eyes said. And I just left, knowing better than anyone, that he was nothing compare to her. He had said something true, not that I will admitted to anyone, but I do have a soft spot for her. I always had it, but is not what he thought. No, is not just lust, is something else, something that runs deeper.
Here I am in the halls of war, like every time, she 'beat me'. I love seeing her win. I'm in my throne waiting for my brother. Even though I 'borrowed' some of his metal, he help me with this, as a favor for my sister of course. Her sword was broken she needed other one. My thoughts were interrupted from a flash of red light.
"Welcome brother." I greeted him.
"Ares" he said dryly, "It's done," he added placing a beautifully made sword in the table near us, it was right as her old one, but the metal was his, no one will ever break it again, the hilt bath in gold and blue gem stones, I took it from the table and blade it, the balance was perfect.
"Thank you Heph." I said looking at him, he looked at me, shook his head and disappeared.
That night, I was in her camp, Glafira and Darren were gone already, that pair… what a waste of good warriors, but my princess had a hand in that, so they were to be left alone... For some time. I corrected my thoughts again.
She felt my presence, as always, these last years I teased her with that. She was in her bedroll. Instantly she opened her eyes and stood up. The bard was slept, she made her way to the woods carrying her trusted chakram. I followed her.
We were in a clearing in seconds, she turned to look at me, she was more than mad, her eyes were cold ice, flickering in anger.
"What do you want?" She spatted bitterly, she threw me that look, the one that made the bravest warrior tremble. I smirked.
"That's how you greet old friends, Xena?" I said with a grin, she looked at me again angry, of course but she also flinched, she meant me not to notice. But hey, I know her. She can't hide a thing from me.
"We are not friends" She said evenly. "What is it? You have other wanna be, you want me to meet?" She said dropping a note of sarcasm.
"No." I said more serious, walking to stand only an arm lent from her. "I notice you lost your sword." I took another step, and lift my hand to her cheek. She jerked my hand away. "I thought you would need another one." I continued nonchalantly. From thin air at my back I took the new sword enveloped in a red cloth. I place it in her hands, like I had done with many weapons before. "This is for you… for the trouble."
She eyed me warily and discovered the sword from the cloth. I heard her gasped "Why?" She looked at my eyes for the first time, I smile to myself.
"I know you liked that one." I took a step up to her, and again I lifted my hand to her face, whispering. "Heph, made this one especially for you, the same metal of the chakram, this one won't break." I leaned to her stroking her cheek with the back of my hand, her skin, so smooth. "Besides, what is my warrior princess without her sword." She had both hands in the sword, she looked at me again, all the magic from the low whispering words was over, of course, I screwed up again let her believe she is just a warrior for me.
"Of course, I should know better by now." She pushed the new sword into my hands and turned her back. "You just want to see your prize warrior in full action, well that's not gonna happened Ares. I'm not going back." She started walking away from me. I appeared in front of her and took her hands. She could be so frustrating.
"Hey, hey, that's not what I mean Xena."
"No?" she asked knowingly, spinning around. "You don't want me back?"
"Dammit Xena!" I was starting to lose my patience. "Of course I want you back… with me." I looked to the ground beneath us, not meeting her eyes. "Don't get me wrong, I liked you back then, you were amazing, unstoppable, and unbeatable but… this new Xena... I like her even more." I lifted my face to meet her eyes, I got her off balance I think, she eyed me warily again, narrowing her eyes with mistrust.
"What trick are you playing this time?" She spaded at me. I frowned, but I wanted to keep it cool with her.
"No tricks, my dear" She laughed sarcastically. "You don't believe me?"
"Why should I?" she challenged, I took a couple of steps to be right in front of her, my face right next to her. I lifted her chin, her precious eyes looking at me. She is so beautiful. In my smooth voice I spoke in her ear. She was trembling from anticipation. I know she didn't want me to notice, so I didn't say a thing. Her heart was beating fast, as mine; she is the only one able to make my heart beat.
"Because, you are the only one capable of best me and I love you for that. You are not just some warrior for me Xena; you are my equal in every way." She was looking at me, I leaned and kissed her lips slightly while vanishing. "Till next time, Xena" my voice echo in the wind for her, only for her.
I was left standing there, during his speech; I had let myself close my eyes, filling the warm of his breath in my skin, so intoxicating. Some times, I don't understand him. One moment he is tormenting the human race and giving me a headache and the next he is giving me a new sword, praising my new ways. I shook my head, carrying my chakram and his gift. I headed back to camp. I would try to sleep… yes! As if I could do that… some times I could bet… No going there Xena, that is the past.
The morning after I went fishing for breakfast. When I got back Gabrielle was already awake, pacing. She seem somehow nervous.
"What is it?" I asked.
"Ephiny wants me to go to the tribe, some trouble with a new challenger." She was worried.
"Xena… I…" She stared, "I want to go with the amazons for some time." I understood, even if she was a new amazon princess. I also knew that somewhere in that note, they have said Amazons only. I know I'm not amazon… Though I was offered to be one once, in another life-time. An amazon at heart Cyane had said. I think, I looked at her too much time, lost in my thoughts "Are you mad?" She asked me sheepishly. I smiled
"No, of course not Gabrielle" I went to her and hugged her. She clenched herself in my body, I smiled again. "It's alright, Ephiny would be glad to see you, and I think I can use the time to visit my mother."
"We can pack and start moving, one of the amazon patrols is near here. From there I can go."
"You can come with me." I started packing, while she cooked.
"Thanks Gabrielle, but all that sisterhood thing is not for me." And certainly it wasn't. I always love my freedom, the not depend on anyone. I was used to it.
"Though you know a lot about them." Gabrielle continued to inquire.
"In my travels I came across with them I learned from them. Not your tribe, but the northern ones I was with Borias at that time." I sighed and told her I knew the amazons, but my mind was behind the fact how I had came to know them and what I'd done to them. We started moving after finishing with the new day shores.
"The northern ones? There are more amazons tribes? While you where there with Borias?" She asked.
"It's a long story" I retorted.
"My favourite kind" She said with a bright smile. That was one of the selfish reasons to travel with her. She was so full of life and wonder, something I had lost so long ago.
"Let's do something, we are near the patrol already, when you return I'll tell you everything you want to know. I have to think about it first." I answered her with a smile on my own.
"Ok, Xena" Gabrielle said warily knowing that there was something not too good behind that travel, from the way I had reacted. "Well, this is my cue. I'll miss you."
"Me too." I said somehow already missing her. I think I've got used to travel with her. I got to the road in no time, I had left her in the woods, I knew she would be protected there. Amazon lands, no one trespass without notice. "Is just you and me, uh? Girl." I said to the wind patting Argo.
We met again a moon afterwards. We got word of Caesar, the bastard wanted to conquer Britania, I wouldn't allow that to happened, never. How foolish... If I just had let it pass...
During the next couple of months, many things happened. Painful events for her and for me. If I just had listened to him, destroyed that temple… I sighed. What is done can't be change.
We were on our way to Athens, when a messenger near his death came on my search. From the land of Chi'in, Lao Ma's messenger. The green dragon had risen and I knew what I had to do. I had to pay my dept. So, I embarked myself in the long journey to that land again. To my past... to my beginning.
Xena had left her in the port, she told her she needed to go to Chi'in to kill a man, she was against it, but Xena left anyway. I don't know why but she called for me. I've never thought she would call, not to betray her, I knew this was an opportunity, the bard was a good bargain chip, but I couldn't do that to her.
"I have to stop her." she said.
"You know little girl that every favor comes with a prize, don't you?" I told her. I had to know what she was willing to give.
"I know, you bastard" she said angrily.
"In that case, we can…" I stood there looking at her, something was stopping me. Finally I said "Sorry, I have better things to do."
"Why not? You always…"
"Why, I can do many thing to her don't get me wrong, but betrayer her…." With that I vanished. Leaving her in that port, where a couple of days before Xena had sail to pay an old debt.
"I'm not betraying her, I just want her safe." I said to myself, I turned to find a ship, maybe I'm not too late, and I can stop her from losing herself to darkness again. A flash of light illuminate even more the space behind me. I turned hoping Ares had changed his mind. But no, it was not him.
"You want to go to Chin, to stop her… I can help you." The woman before me said. A goddess to be certain, in golden armor.
"Who are you?" I asked.
"Athena goddess of wisdom" she said solemnly.
"Why?" I asked, if I had learnt one thing in my travels with Xena was never trust a god.
"Umm… let just said Gabrielle, I don't like the idea of Xena going back to my dear brother. That is what is going to happened after the warrior princess taste blood again… you know that, don't you?" she looked at me, pausing to make her words sink in my brain. "You know. That's way you were willing to ask Ares's help."
"What do you gain from this?" I didn't trusted her, she had something in her.
"Me?" She laughed. "You are not so naïve as my brother says." she sobered again. "Just the satisfaction of knowing my brother would never have what he wants." I believed her, I knew the stories of sibling quarrels between the Olympians.
"Ok, I accept your offer." And I traveled with her, in seconds I was in the land of Chin, nothing I have ever seen before, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. And I betrayed her, she was captured and chained. I tried to apologize, she told me she didn't hated me, she knew why I did it, but she told me she was angry and felt betrayed. We managed to escape… she managed to escape, using some foreign powers. Powers of light and I understood, she was willing to kill in the name of love. People we met over the years always said, the warrior princess had a highly sense of loyalty, one till that moment I haven't seen for others but myself. Now that I think it, that's way she helped Ares when he was mortal. She had served him, she must have done it out of that same sense of loyalty.
In our way to Greece, she was quiet, we didn't talk much, she most of the time was in the deck, watching waves crash against the ship. I had betrayed her.
I was lost in thoughts, these last months had been too much, first the deal with Agathon and Ares mocking about our past and telling me he wouldn't interfere, but he wanted me out of it, he wanted me safe? He cared? Then the sword, that night, he actually told me he like me good more? I don't understand him. And Gabrielle... Gabrielle and I were together but apart, she had betrayed me, even for the right reasons, she had betrayed me.
"Hello dear" he appeared one night before the ship got to port in Chin the travel had been long.
"What are you doing here? Aren't you a bit far from home?" My voice in its normal bitter way to greet him.
"Umm… yes, we can say the same thing about you, don't we?" He totally confident in a playful manner.
"My reasons are not your business" I replayed harshly.
"Of course not sweet" He turned to leave, but stop in mind step and turn around to face me one more time with a grin, "You know Xena, you should pick your friends better, blondie is one your trail" He disappeared. Since the incident with his sword and Sisiphus he is acting different… I can't afford thinking about that.
End of flash back
Caesar... Gabrielle's first kill... Hope... Ming Tien... Ares. Too many things had indeed happened.
When we arrived at the Centaur village it was to take part in the new treaty of the amazons and centaurs. We found Callisto instead. She wanted to go after the children. But I had the feeling something or someone was behind it all.
"What makes you think you can trust this child?" I confronted Gabrielle. She gave me some lame reasons, which I backed down rapidly. I didn't trust this kid, why Callisto would had shared her planes with a child. It wasn't logic.
"That is not true. Xena, you were always so quick to blame her, weren't you? Well, she is _not_ evil! She's not!" Gabrielle shouted.
And it made click to me. "Hope? The child is Hope?" My expression was complete bewilderment.
Hope was in the picture again and I was betrayed again, by my 'best friend'. He said I should pick my friends better, maybe he was right. Gabrielle kept talking. I retorted mechanically with options to get rid of her.
"She is not a child! She is a body-- a vessel-- an instrument for evil. That is all!"After hearing her programing that thing as her daughter a had to say it.
"You are wrong! Xena, Hope is the victim here! That is why I sent her to Kaleipus' hut, so she would be safe from Callisto." My heart stopped, Was I hearing right?
"You sent her to Kaleipus' hut?" I repeated her words in anger. How she could be that stupid? I raced to the hut to my son, I heard the fighting, my heart beating faster as I came closer.
Inside the hut, Hope was with a knife approaching Solan, I launched to disarm her, but I was too late, she stabbed him in front of me. "Solan!" I heard myself screaming. But the knife was taken from her hand, before it went farther, Ares appeared from the ether and lunched a fireball towards Hope. She collapsed to the wall. "Solan!" I run to my child, Ares was there with a severe look in his face. "Solan, baby." I cradled him in my arms, he was still breathing, Ares knelt besides me. "How… why?" I asked, unable to believe he had saved my son… I would have done anything for this, to repaid him.
"Xena, I… let me take you two somewhere safe… his wounds… he doesn't have much time." I looked at my baby. He was right, I looked back to Hope, but she was not there anymore. I shook my head 'No'.
Ares conjured the basics, he knew I didn't want to move him. I noticed after some time, he had closed doors and windows. We both started treating his wound, it was not much deep, but in the stomach. He would had bleed to death if we were not quickly enough.
"You won't die on me." I kept repeating. Ares was behind me now, he had used his little powers of healing in his wound, it has closed, but he was unconscious. "Your mom is here. You will come with me. You wanted that, don't you?" Ares placed a hand in my shoulder.
"He will survive, Xena. He is a tough boy." I came back to reality, he has been there all the time. I looked up to him. Standing there as something surreal.
"Why... why did you save him?" I asked in a quite voice averting my eyes from the boy in the bed.
"He is your son." He simple said, placing a hand in my cheek, brushing my tears away and continued. "Once, I promised you, he will be safe…" He said kissing my forehead.
"Thank you Ares" I said turning my head overwhelmed to kiss his palm. "Thank you" He just nodded and disappeared. The doors opened and Gabrielle and Ephiny stepped inside the room.
"We hear the explosion hours ago, we couldn't get through the hut, there was some kind of invisible shield around it." Ephiny said, I knew they were both looking at me, I didn't turn around. I still had my little boy to watch over.
"Is he…" Gabrielle tried to ask after a long time of silence.
"No, he is alive… not thanks to you." I snapped back. "Hope stabbed him, but a friend came to help" I said turning, my voice low and dangerous fill with hatred and anger, a feeling I haven't had in nearly 3 years. She had betrayed me once again. I smirked at that one.
"Xena… I… she…"
"No Gabrielle. You lied to me, you betrayed me again… Get out!" The cold in my voice ripping any kind of farther conversation.
"Xena…" She tried again.
"I almost lost my son because of you… Get out! NOW!" I yelled at her, Ephiny took her by the shoulder and dragged her out. I felt a hand reaching mine and turned to see blue eyes staring at me. My heart skipped a beat and I hugged him.
"I'm so sorry…Solan… I'm so sorry" I said holding him tightly. He hugged me back.
"You are my mother." the boy half-asked, half-stated. My heart melted in his words.
"Yes, my son." I kissed him in the forehead, and cheeks and eyes, holding him. "I'm so sorry" I felt paces nearing again, it was Ephiny's walking into the hut.
"Xena…" she said. I was happy, my son was alive and calling me mother, but the ones that had a hand in this would pay. No one will put him in danger, Callisto and Hope must be stop. "Xena… Callisto is coming, for the children"
"I know Ephiny. I'll be there in a minute, they will be stop." She nodded smiling at Solan and left.
"Ok, baby I have to go, I have to deal with some things, when I return we will go... together." I said to him, I didn't want to leave him, but I had to.
"Mom" he said looking to me.
"Yes, Solan." I think, I had never felt so happy in my entire live than in that moment, when he called me mom.
"I always wanted you to be my mother." I hugged him with a smile and then I felt it, I felt him, like a pleasant shiver down my spine, filling me. He became visible and I smiled.
"Here is not safe" he said. "Callisto is coming… and you know what she wants." He said looking at me, an arm lent from me. He turned to see my son. "Hi, kid, how are you feeling?"
"Better, sir" Ares laughed.
"Is Ares for you, Solan" he said patting his head. "Hey, Xena…Dite… she told me, she could take care of him for a while."
"I don't want him to be…" a flash of pink light filled the room cutting my saying.
"Warrior babe! Don't worry, sweet cheeks can cope with me some time, right Solan?" She turned to give a smile to my son. "I'm your aunt Aphrodite."
"Mom, you know the gods…" Solan said in astonishment, looking from Aphrodite to Ares and back at me.
"Only the good ones…" Ares joked with a width grin.
"Don't flatter yourself." I look over the goddess of love and then back to my son "Ok, Solan, Aphrodite will take care of you."
"Come on kiddo, we'll have lots of fun" the goddess took his hand and started vanishing "But, you mister are going to stay in bed" that was the last I heard her say.
"You need help… with our little friend out there?" Ares asked nonchalant knowing the answer perfectly. It was good, though, to know at least someone was willing to help. The funny thing... that person was Ares.
"No, I can handle her." I took a step to him. Hesitated a little, and kissed him on the lips, "Thank you." I said. He didn't see that coming.
"Hey, I'm at your service, remember? Go and make me proud." I smiled shaking my head, totally Ares, always looking forward for a good fight. He vanished.
I knew from Ephiny, Gabrielle poisoned Hope during the fight with Callisto. I shook my head, shivering. I have drown her to the limit of killing her own daughter. A vessel or not, I know Gabrielle thought she could safe her. She was better with her people. I miss her though... sometimes.
Now I'm traveling with my son and Argo. Solan was healed, Aphrodite had asked Hera to heal him and I was grateful. After ten years, I finally could be a mother to my son.
"Hey Mom, why don't we take a break here, there's a river near, right?" He asked from the saddle, I was walking, holding Argo's reins.
"Yes, there is, we can fish and rest." He nodded, jumped from the saddle and run down the hill. I was so happy to have him.
We were playing in the water when I felt him. This time, after the longest time, his presence was not unwelcome.
"Come out Ares." I shout to thin air in a playful tone.
"Hello Xena" He appeared right behind me in the water, placing his arms around my waist and kissing my shoulder, then he took a step back and I turned to face him.
"Hi Ares" the boy said after coming to the surface. I disentangled for his grip. I had to remember, this was Ares, deceitful, convenient Ares.
"Hi kid, are you taking good care of your mother." He teased. Gods! This was the Ares of so long ago…
"Yes, I try, but she doesn't let me, she is always… over me" he chuckled.
"Oh… yes. I've seen it." He turned to me. "Hey Xena, I was wondering, if you don't have anything to do… you know wrongs to right… warlords to beat…"
"Yes Ares?" I asked with truly curiosity, he was acting weird, shifting from one foot to another under the water.
"Well I was thinking we can go weekend off?... I know this island…" Then it hit me, he was nervous! That was a first.
"Can we go, mother! Please!" Of course Solan jumped with anticipation, he like him. That was disturbing. Well Ares was really charming when he wanted to be. I remember also, gods! I know that first handed.
"Will see… why don't you go and built a fire Solan for…" I didn't had the chance to finished my sentence. In a second we were in the shore, dry and the fire was built and we had food made. "Or we can have lunch" I turned to see Ares, he had a smile in his face and his arms crossed in his chest. "What are you doing?" I whispered to him, he laughed.
"I just wanted to spend some time with you and well Solan is a nice kid… he likes me, you know?" he whispered back and I laughed.
We ate quietly talking, Ares sitting by my side and Solan in front of us; he was having a good time. He was talking to Solan about tracking and hunting. When we finished our lunch, Ares said he had things to do; Solan didn't want him to go. The bastard had won him. I smiled and he vanished promising to my son we would come back.
"Ares is really cool mom," Solan said smiling picking up the water skins.
"Yes, but you know he is the god of war, right sweetie?" I asked him worried.
"Yeah… that's his job" he replayed running to the river.
That had been this afternoon, we made camp there. I wanted to go and see my mother, have her meet her grandson.
Solan is sleep already, so peaceful. He was my first light, he still is.
A/N: Review please if you like it or you didn't. Maybe I could made a second chapter... Gabrielle should be in it. I think their rift should had taken longer than in the actually line of the show.