16 THIS PRETTY MUCH SUMS IT UP...

"Sorry to disappoint you but that Lunatic's taken! It' s because of her that my son is dead. She might not have twisted the knife but she's as equally to blame for his death as Hope is! She's mine! "

"Uh uh...wrong Blondie Sweetheart!" the God stressed , instantly wiping out the smugness and determination from Xena's face, her expression changing in less than a blink from complete shock to utter disbelief, unspeakable revolt and of course a considerable dose of irritation.

She just darted at him questioningly, every muscle on her body flinching:

"You conniving bastard! Are you out of your freakin' mind? Has Zeus hit you in the head with a lightening bolt or something?" she exclaimed the instant she realized who he was actually referring to.

Ares gasped audibly, ignoring nonetheless that piercing stare the Warrior Princess was now directing straight to his neck as if she wanted to choke him or something.

"Tsk tsk tsk! Come on Xena, you're smarter than that. Hear me out ok? This might just be our only chance!"

"Really? Let's see...you kill Gabrielle, something goes terribly wrong and suddenly you can't bring her back anymore...me, I get stuck with you till the end of eternity maddened with grief...kinda conveninent wouldn'y you say so?" she inquired, shooting him an even nastier look than before.

The God just watched her gesturing edgily awhile before he decided to answer , only a faint flicker of emotion in his eyes.

"Are you done?"

The enraged Warrior pressed her lips together and finally stopped her pacing, planting both her hands on her hips in support, waiting for Ares' brilliant plan.

"Fine...enthrall me with your knowledge War God. "

Moving a few steps closer, the Olympian stopped but inches from her, the tip of his fingers beginning to glide down her beautiful visage, his thumb massaging her lips softly, subtly calming her before he decided to find some new occupation, his hand moving towards some loosen strands of hair which he carefully tucked behind her ear.

"She won't really die...It will be a setup...A mastermind one...But the entire plan needs focus Xena...impeccable focus. As for the timing... FLAWLESS. No screw ups. No one else can't know about it- you will only tell Blondie what she needs to know in order to do her part right when the time comes. Do you understand?"

She nodded quietly, without as much as uttering even the slightest sound as if she were some sweet little girl listening to her father, an anxious look in her eyes, waiting to hear the rest

"Now..." the God restarted his face dangerously calm, straightening out his shoulders and throwing his head back a little, his gaze pinned to the wall before him as if trying to find the right words in order to better express the details. "The most important thing of all all, is to trick the Fates- they are Zeus' ears and eyes. They know everything that moves, so our main goal is to make them believe that everything is unfolding according to those possible versions of truth that they're weaving there, doing everything without arousing any suspicions..."

"Tricking Destiny Ares? And just how do you want us to do that?"

"Tricking Destiny, cheating Death, whatever it takes...It won't be simple, but it is possible...All we have to do, is choose the most plausible pattern of yours and Gabrielle's lives, and blindly follow it...They will logically assume their damned prophecies are just taking their natural course...we on the other hand, we'll make sure that we turn everything into an exquisite Athenian Stage worthy performance, convincing Zeus that one of his main problems has been solved, and thus buying us more time to deal with the real thing..."

"All you've given me thus far are theories Ares. I need facts, details..." she burst out, a note of wonderment in her voice, somehow feeling that the God was dancing around the subject.

"Hold your horses! Gods you can be such a pain in the ass sometimes! " Ares barked back irritated by her obvious lack of trust despite the efforts he was making to help her.

"Well...let's see...first of all, we should focus on choosing the right scenario, right?"

"Right" came the silent answer of the Warrior Princess who just nodded in agreement.

"Ok...and according to the Bard's character, given the fact that Hope's her daughter..."

"Wouldn't work...too much history there. She wouldn't think twice about plunging a dagger into her heart"

"The dagger...that's very interesting that you've mentioned it...it will prove to be very uselful. We' re going to need it in order to kill..."

"Hope" Xena finished the sentence in a thick voice.

"Callisto" Ares contradicted her, an all-knowing smile on his face...

The Warrior Princess just gave him a puzzled look.

"You see, in order to make Dahok loose interest in Blondie, he should be offered a better deal instead..."

"You've lost me..."

"A different mother for his Destroyers, one with a darker soul...and a father of godly seed through whom he could sire a new race, a new, dominant species to rule the world, praising the name of the Dark God..."

He paused a bit, allowing her brain to process the information.

"Are you kidding me?!" Xena's resonant voice soon filled the air as a whirl of disjointed thoughts started spinning inside her head, throwing her emotionally completely out of balance. "Do you actually think that Dahok is going to buy that?! Making him believe that you'd betray your own kin in order to father six little monsters?"

"He will, once he sees just how serious and responsible I am about it..."

By now, the Warrior's Princess' eyes were ready to pop out of her head:

"What are you saying...?"

"Fuck his precious daughter, get her pregnant-thus vulnerable- win their thrust, that's more than enough to keep the Bard of the hook for awhile..."

"You Son of a Bache! I swear, you wouldn't miss one single opportunity to stick that..."

She instantly stopped though the instant the God raised a hand silencing her.

"Xena...unless you have a better idea...And stop playing jealous will ya, it's not like I'm raring to stick this unique piece of art in some psycho, evil mosnter's cunt, ok? "he added pointing proudly towards his cock.

"She had human form the last time we met Ares, so don't worry it won't be too much of a sacrifice..."

"Hey! Have a little respect will ya? When it comes to women I'm rather selective! I don't go bedding right about anyone, ok? I have my standards... "

"Oh shut up already Ares! You'd even fuck a statue if it had a hole!"

"You do have a low opinion of me don't you?!"

"Not low...reallistic!" Xena ended with a smirk, turning her back on him and heading towards the chesterfield, sinking in it, arms folded across her chest.

"Yeah, well no wonder I can hardly convince you to take dinner with me these days!" he exclaimed, profoundly disturbed by her remark.

"Anyway...get to the part where you get to kill Gabrielle ."

"Well...first thing's first...Hope and the child!"

"You are willing to kill your own child?"

"Oh that won't be me, that would be Gabrielle. I couldn't actually kill them because of the pact that I'll be forced to make with Dahok."

"What pact?"

"Well...you know...pledge myself to him, marry/fuck Hope whatever, father her children in exchange for your life...you name it" he articulated with a false, nervous laughter that Xena instantly recognized.

"That's very generous of you Ares, but I can take care of myself" the Warrior Princess replied rolling her eyes.

"No you can't...you're a threat to him...he will wipe you out from the face of the earth faster than you can blink once..."

"And just why would I be such a threat to him Ares, may I ask?"

There was a long heavy silence. Xena got up and walk over to him, sensing his distress.

"Ares!" she commanded, cupping his chin, forcing him to look at her.

"The Fates spoke of a child..."

"What child? What? Hope..."

"Yours."the God murmured, running his fingers through his short dark hair.

"Solan?".

"The Messanger of Peace. The Bringer of Twilight?"

"How...? When...? Are you sure...? " the questions began cascading from her mouth, her eyes widened in amazement, and right out of nowhere, her expression turned to horror as the idea struck her worse than lightening. "Don't tell me..."

"No it's not Dahok..."

Another long pause. She just stood there staring at him almost afraid to ask, hoping deep inside her soul that his answer would be positive, that he was the one meant to be the father of her child.

"You?"

Hearing her, Ares just smiled bitterly.

"Yeah, I wish..."

"Well spit it out already!" she urged him to talk, her patience reaching the bottom.

"I don't know. Ok? The prophecy speaks about a child not begotten by man, a child of pureness and light..."

"That would bring about the end of the...Gods..." she completed the phrase, almost chocking on the last word, suddenly realizing that he was too included in the category.

Trying to lighten up the mood a bit, Ares just began joking on the subject:

"Zeus has already went ballistic about it...Hey, you know how I've always said that you'll be the end of me? I guess I was right all along!"

That only managed to cause even more tension.

"Anyway, ...you can debate the details of your babyshower later with Aphrodite. Right now, we already have our hands full with this Dahok situation..." he promptly suggested, trying to change the subject.

"W...wait..." she sputtered, suddenly realizing that she was missing something."If Zeus knows this, how comes that I'm still alive?"

"The vows in front of the Fates? I practically had to convince him that once I help you save Gabrielle from the big bad wolf, you're pretty much mine, and that any child you might have, it will be with me..."

"A child of War could never be the Messenger of Peace..."

"That pretty much sums it up, yeah..."

At this point, the Warrior Princess was shocked...why was he doing all this for her...? To control her? To get something out of her...By all Gods, he was already holding all the cards, had he wanted to literally own her, he could have acted behind her back, blackmailing her and pushing her into a corner without the slightest effort...

"What if Gabrielle has a change of heart? What if she can't kill Hope? Once she hears that her own daughter's pregnant..."

"Oh she will...You just leave that to me" he retorted, taking her hand gently into his, caressing the fine silky skin before placing a soft, featherlike kiss on top of it. "...She still owes me a little favor..."

Xena just eyed him suspiciously, silently wondering what could Gabrielle possibly owe to the God of War, but without actually bothering to ask anything about it. She knew Ares far to well to be able to tell when it was useless to push him for intel.

"Well, it seams that you have it all covered..." she added, inhaling deeply as their gazes remained locked on each other, and she could barely restrain a frustrated sigh when, closing in the distance between them even more, she began feeling his warm breath on her face, like the lightest caress ever imaginable.

Without even realizing what she was doing, her mind in a blur and her temples almost exploding with stress, she just wrapped her arms around his waist and placed her head on his chest, looking for that old familiar comfort of his embrace just like she had always done on so many various occasions in the past, when she felt that the situation was getting desperate.

Without a second thought, Ares chastely kissed the top of her head, encasing her protectively into his arms while slowly brushing her hair with the tip of his fingers, whispering lowly against her ear, words that one could never imagine coming from any War God's lips.

"Don't worry, Luv, everything will work out perfectly, we just have to be extremely careful, ok? Do this by the book...I just need you to promise me that if by any chance things don't go as planned, you won't do anything hasty. Whatever happens, we can fix it, ok Sweetheart?"

She just nodded lightly, her head still buried into his chest, the elegant fragrance of his cologne gradually relaxing every single muscle of her body.

"Say it out loud. I wanna hear it" the God insisted, and with good reason. He was very much aware who he was dealing with, her immeasurable stubbornness having given him migraines more times that he was able to remember.

"I promise" she whispered lowly. " Ares..." she continued, tightening her grip on him even more, making his pulse race even faster than before.

"Yes Sweet?"

When she spoke her voice was ragged and broken.

"About the child...we'll figure something out for that too right?"

From the moment she finished uttering the phrase till the instant Ares started caressing her hair again, it seamed like an eternity had passed. He didn't know what to say...When he said it though, lifting her head up with the tip of his fingers too see her beautiful cerulean eyes, he just let that cocky, sexy smile of his take over his lips, whispering comfortingly, hoping he himself that maybe, just maybe they would manage to find a proper solution to that problem too.

"Of course we will, my Princess. We always do, don't we?"

She smiled back affectionately, that one of a kind, special smile of hers that could have brighten up even the cloudiest of his days.

"Thank you" she murmured, pressing delicately her lips to his own, making him flinch, and soon, that candid, appreciative kiss gradually turned into one of those deep, bruising ones that they always loved to share.

" I love you..." she couldn't stop the words from leaving her mouth the instant they parted, desperately needing to breathe...

By the time the same line left his lips, the world itself was dissolving around them into the shape of an electric blue, blinding vortex meant to transport them back to the forest where Gabrielle was waiting with Seraphin.

The instant they materialized, they just exchanged one more glance before Ares vanished back on Olympus, busy with putting the plan into motion.

The God winked at her, biting his lips lustfully.

"Come on Xe...Let's get this show on the road! It's high time we show this scumbags who's in charge!"

She just chuckled softly, partially bemused by his incredibly self conceited attitude.

"I'll see you later!"

"Don't wear any clothes!"

She wanted to smack him but he was already gone., so she just rolled her eyes, for the tenth time or so that day...How in Gaia's name was she so crazy in love with that arrogant Bastard, was beyond her...

THE END

xxx I REALLY WANNA THANK ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN REVIEWING OR READING THIS STORY, BEARING WITH ME TILL THE END, I REALLY APPRECIATE IT, GUYS xxx ( My next story, "Dreams" is almost ready so, don't go anywhere:))