Gabrielle had traveled with them for about a year. She had decided she wanted to settle down and have a family of her own, so she had married Virgil. They still saw a lot of each other. Aunt Gabrielle was the only one who still called Xerxes Joxer and the only one Xerxes would let get away with it. Gabrielle had admitted during the last visit that Xena and Ares were doing a great job with the twins.
An even bigger surprise was that Ares and Hercules had called a truce, at least for the time being. It wasn't that they were bosom buddies, but Ares tolerated Hercules visiting his niece and nephew.
Aphrodite took all the credit for the change in Ares, saying it was the conquering power of love, just not in Ares' hearing.
It was late afternoon and Xena and Ares decided to spend the night in one of Ares' temples. They had just finished a meal provided by Ares.
"I totally put that Cyclops' eye out with my fireball," 8 year old Xerxes argued.
"But I'm the one that made him trip when I went invisible. We wouldn't have gotten him otherwise," Cyrene said.
"Big deal, whoopdee doo for you. What can invisibility really do in a fight?"
Rather than answer him, Cyrene went invisible and proceeded to fight with Xerxes, who had a difficult time getting shots in when he couldn't tell from which direction his sister was coming from.
"That's enough," Ares said. "If you destroy another temple, you're going to rebuild it with your bare hands."
It was enough to make them pause momentarily but not threatening enough to stop fighting in the middle of a good match.
"Xerxes, Cyrene," said Xena in her low warning voice.
That's all the twins needed to hear. They knew their mother meant business when she had that tone of voice. Although they weren't sure which parent was the better disciplinarian when angry, they both knew their mother was the bigger threat of the two parents. They knew how to play their father. They hadn't figured out how to play their mother.
"Why don't you two go take advantage of the great outdoors," Ares said.
"Dad," Xerxes mouthed back. "We're traveling heroes. We're almost always in the great outdoors."
The doors blew open with a gust caused by Ares.
"Okay, okay, you've made your point," Xerxes said, running out with Cyrene at his heels.
"I thought we could use some alone time," Ares said, invading Xena's space.
Her arms found resting places on his shoulders and she played with one of the curls. "Is that so?"
There was crashing and banging outside. Cyrene and Xerxes had taken their fight outside.
"Maybe we'd better hold off," Xena advised, "until they're asleep."
Ares blew a sigh of frustration, but he clearly agreed.
"They're a terror the both of them," Xena said, taking a seat on Ares' throne. "Twin terrors."
"Yeah," Ares agreed, "but they're our little terrors."