Disclaimer: "Food For Thought" is © by Fantango. All characters that have appeared on Xena: Warrior Princess belong to their respective owners Renaissance Pictures/Universal Studios/Studios USA. No profit is made or intended from the writing of this fiction.

Couple: X/A
Rating:
Drama, Romance.

Setting: Season 2
Summary:
A short one shot taken from Xena's POV in 'Ten Little Warlords' about her thoughts on Ares' mortality and the kiss that almost happened aboard Sisyphus' ship; including an alternative version in Chapter #2.

AN: I have to give a huge thanks to my buddy 'Xentrya' for kicking my butt into gear by nagging me to post my fics. Thanks mate!


Please review! You don't know how much it means to an Author to get a review on their Fanfic and know whether you're enjoying it of if there's room for improvement. Believe me; it makes us want to write more for you.


"Oh, look, the weapons our Host promised us. How generous..."

His voice cascades in that old and familiar fashion of sarcasm I've heard lashing the air on so many occasions before, yet as we work our way towards the bed, its crimson sheets scattered with the faintest of shadows flickering by candlelight, I find myself more conscious than ever of the vulnerability herald behind his attitude, and it's like peering straight through a pane of glass.

"A dagger and a mace... to kill the Monster? It doesn't take an Oracle to see that Sisyphus expects us to use them against one another." My mind's made up on this fact and it sticks as hard as glue.

I'm determined by nature, or perhaps it's what he's taught me that provides my soul with an excuse for acting so stubborn, a trait I know he deeply yearns at times could melt into a sea of openness as I pull back the covers, shredding them into two long strips of white.

"Take your shirt off."

A demand I've seldom used, but the desire's there in my tone and he just gazes at me for a moment in what becomes a trace of dismembered belief before casually obeying the order like a loyal solider on the field, eventually figuring it nothing but a delusion of grandeur created inside the mind, or better said his own.

He's sitting before me now, releasing a groan of pain, or was there something else... A discernment perhaps?

I don't get a chance to debate this theory though as the question promptly leaves my lips, softer than what I'd initially expected.

"What?"

"Well..." A mortal Ares begins, lightly shifting his weight to adopt a comfier position.

The uneasiness however gives him away, yet still he refuses to budge, relishing it seems in the magic that my fingers proceed to weave, their soft tips gently fondling each section of newly discovered skin.

"You're in her body but you still have your touch. Warm, firm, passionate... Yet, at the same time gentle."

His breath becomes almost laboured then, but that doesn't deter him from continuing to reach for my hand or dare to compare me with someone else, a concept he's suddenly grown aware will disgust me as I swiftly draw my palm away, rejecting the offer of his tender kiss.

"Now, Callisto... She's all animal. You know, she starts like a cold fish, but... you press the right buttons... Hold on, it's quite a ride. Mind you, my experience with her is... rather unique. She was in your body at the time."

Oh Zeus, he's bragging now and that's supposed to make me feel, what... impressed or better? Better that he still aches for me by his side, to feel the need of my body warming his bed at night, that there's some destined sign from the Fates that we belong together not just in war and conflict but in the essence of, dare I say it... Love... only to live in the grandest knowledge that the simplest method to achieve this plight to my constant dismissals was to switch our bodies, convincing himself that maybe the Lunatic of 'Psychos R' Us' could prove a better, more complacent and willing protege than ever before without having to fully surrender the privilege of viewing my features.

You're right, it doesn't feel better.

In truth, I actually sense a tiny streak of jealousy gripping my heart in a strangely possessive kind of way that I carefully succeed to deny and conceal, dexterously masking it with a beat of extreme nausea as the distinct image of him and his sordid Whore indulging in an act of defilement, where my figure has become the main star, invades the farthest spectrum of my mind while I complete the final touches to his bandages.

"When I get my body back, I gotta' remember to take a _long_ bath."

"You know, when we were... downstairs fighting..." He quickly arcs up, totally ignoring my previous comment with a silent scoff in order to stretch a point that's just waiting to take flight. "I saw that old sparkle in your eyes, Xena."

He's right and I know it enough to gift him a firm stare in result, that's for sure.

"Even being in Callisto's body can't hide that. You enjoyed it."

There's a brief pause before the sounds exit his throat on a following string of disgruntled envy, threatening to crack the bones that make up the structure of his slightly tensed jaw.

"What surprises me is I didn't."

Another pause in thought, and before I realize, he's already jumping upon the option of an informative and helplessly sincere approach.

Posing as a victim has always been a second favourite on his styled list of manipulation, so why change it now?

"You know, it's always come easily, the... the bloodlust, the hate... This is the first time I've had to suffer the consequences."

"Spare me, Ares."

"You don't trust me?"

Is it that obvious I wonder, taking the time to look him directly in the eyes, their brown pools mirroring an honesty with which I prepare to claim as my own.

"I can't blame you, after all I've put you through. But a taste of mortality has really opened my eyes. And who knows? Once I regain my sword, maybe things'll be..."

He hesitates a minute, as if trying to find the right word for what's resting on the tip of his tongue.

"Different."

"A kinder, gentler God of War? We both know that's not gonna' happen." I heavily challenge, unable to perceive a world where War has accepted a life without destruction and mayhem, all those things Ares recognizes I'm fighting against.

"You changed, why not me?"

It's a good argument, one I am certain _he_ truly believes.

"I never lied to you, Xena. Oh, deceived, manipulated, yeah. But, a God need never lie." He admits, clearly stressing the last part of the sentence in an attempt to persuade my darkest convictions otherwise with a truth we can both understand.

By the blood of Kronos how I hate when he does that, using our past as a means to bargain, the whole conversation forcing me to stand my ground, eager to shut him down on the spot.

"But that's just it, Ares. You're not a God anymore. So as much as I'd like to believe you, even if you believe it, all bets'll be off once you get your Godhood back. And that's if you do."

"I think you might be surprised..." His notes contradict in a wave of euphuism, offended by the outcome of my reply as he gradually begins to lean forward, finding my eyes tracing the contour of his lips.

"About the change you can inspire in a man... or God."

At this moment I know we are about to kiss, and what's more, is the reality that I want it.

I want to believe him and I want to taste him; to feel his fire heating my core until we are both but sinners cooking in the kitchen of Hell, but our bodies react before my mouth, like we're a couple of teenagers who've just been caught doing the naughty, an ironic situation indeed, considering what could have escalated as Gagnon abruptly enters the room.

And before I know it, I'm standing in front of Ares, guarding his Mortal life with my own. And that's only the beginning...

"So that's where I put that thing. Sorry for the interruption."

"Yes, yes you should be." I fight to hold down a growl I know could erase an entire army from existence in a matter of minutes, dangerously wishing it had been my axe and my blade sticking out of this Cockroaches' spine as the Warlord lumbers away, leaving a Warrior Princess and her Mortal Beloved in peace.

For an instant we exchange expressions. Nothing needs to be said and nobody moves, for I know what lies in his heart as he does mine; doesn't mean I have to admit it though.


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