"You see, there he goes again, spying on her." Hera pointed to the image on the wall as she spoke.
"He's a big boy. I can't tell him what to do anymore." Zeus glanced at the wall, "If he's happy just watching her, then let him be. She's definitely well worth watching." And before Hera could lose her temper, he quickly added, "Just look at all the antics that she had gotten into, and yet she's still alive to tell the stories. It's amazing how she has managed to survive for this long."
"It's not right." Hera said in disgust. "You need to find him something to do and get him away from her. I don't like the influence that she has on him."
"Come on Hera, he's been staying out of trouble ever since he took a shine to her."
"That's just it. He is the God of War, but what has he been doing lately? Nothing! That's what, not a thing." Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the blonde image on the wall; "you better do something quickly before I decide to take matters into my own hands."
Zeus sighed, "all right, what do you want me to do?"
"Get him away from here for a while, send him on a long journey somewhere. Maybe by the time he gets back, he would have also gotten over his obsession of her."
"And just where do you think I should send him?"
"Somewhere far, far away. I'm sure you'll think of something." She smiled in satisfaction.
Ares was sitting in a tree watching Gabrielle. He doesn't know why he felt the constant need to check up on her, but she has been occupying his thoughts for a long time now. He needs to know that she is okay, he wants to see how she spends her days, but most of all, he has the overwhelming desire to know that she hasn't met someone else. He shook his head in dismay, how in the word did she do this? Here he is, the god of war, hiding in a tree just trying to catch a glimpse of her.
Ares watched as Gabrielle tried unsuccessfully to land a free falling back flip. Instead of landing of her feet, she had landed on her rear. She got up and dusted herself off. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Bend those knees, come on, you can do it, just whip those legs." Ares muttered to himself. It was as if Gabrielle had been listening, she jumped into the air, turned upside down, quickly kicking those legs across, and this time, landed perfectly. Ares smiled and was rewarded with the clear, tingling laughter ringing across the camp.
Ares was still smiling when he turned and saw his father taking a seat beside him on a neighboring branch. His smile disappeared. Zeus being here has to spell trouble.
Zeus shot his son a brief smile and turned his attention to Gabrielle. The bard had a huge smile on her face as she tackled the flip once more. Again she landed on her feet, and her smile grew even wider. "She is quite a sight."
"What have I done now?" Ares sighed and asked.
"I don't know. What have you done?"
"If it isn't because of something that I have done, then why are you here?"
"Why are you here?"
"Okay, your mother thinks that you are spending way too much time watching over the bard. She thinks you are neglecting your duty as the God of War."
"Is there some place in particular that she wants me to start a war?" Ares asked without any real enthusiasm.
"No, not really, she just wants me to send you away for a while. Give you time to get over the bard."
"Look father... I'm just curious about her, that's all. I..." Zeus put up his hand before Ares could continue.
"I am not the one that needs an explanation. I can see for myself why you are so fascinated with her." He smiled as he watched Gabrielle try to do the flip again, only this time with more height. "But you mother had demanded that I send you on a journey, and I've been trying to think of somewhere suitable. I think I've finally find the answer."
"What are you talking about?" Ares asked with unease.
Zeus smiled and waved his hand, a portal appeared. Ares looked at the portal and shook his head, "Come on father, you can't be serious."
"I am most definitely serious. I'm sending you on a millennium journey around the world. This should be interesting."
"What exactly is a millennium journey?" Ares frowned.
"You are going to travel to the year 2000 and watch the celebration around the world." Zeus smiled and was very pleased with himself. The idea had just come to him. Sending Ares into the future wasn't something that he planned on doing, but now he's totally taken with the whole thing.
"Umm father, please..." Ares started as Zeus waved his hand again and he felt himself traveling toward the portal. "Father..."
Ares' yell caught Gabrielle's attention. She jerked her head around just in time to see Ares being sent through the portal. Acting on instinct and not giving herself time for second thoughts, she flipped through the air and followed Ares through the portal. Gabrielle would have been proud of herself if she had taken the time to notice how well she did that flip. Zeus saw her go through and laughed, "well, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. Hera is going to be pissed." He watched as the portal closed after the young woman.
Gabrielle felt her stomach churn as she landed hard on the ground. She sat up and looked around. The first thing she saw was Ares gaping at her. "Just what in the name of gods are you doing here?"
"I don't know. I saw you... and I just followed." Gabrielle stammered.
"You followed me?" Ares' amazement turned into an amused grin.
"Oh, cut it out. I just wanted to see where you were going." She blushed and looked away from him, turning her attention to her surroundings. She saw that they had landed on a patch of grass, but it's nothing like she had ever seen before. This was manicured lawn leading to paved roads. She looked across the horizon and was amazed to see tall buildings and moving objects with wheels in colorful metal containers. "Just exactly where are we?"
"Umm Gabrielle, you had just followed me into the future. I believe this is the year 2000." Ares said. This is turning out much better than he could ever anticipated. The idea that she had actually followed him was an intoxicating one. He silently thanked his father.
"It was Hera's idea to send me on a long journey. Although I don't think she would be pleased when she finds out that you are here with me." His smiled grew as he caught her muttering words like `moronic' and `the stupidity of the gods' underneath her breath. "Look at the bright side Gabrielle, this could be an adventure of a life time."
"Alright Ares, do your thing, send me back."
"Sorry Blondie, but I can't," he said without a bit of regret.
"What do you mean you can't? You are a god, however pitiful. Just send me back and you can go on to do whatever it is that you are here to do."
"I believe my purpose is to observe. And I meant what I said; I can't send you back. Only Zeus has the power to send you back, and for some strange reason he has decided to let you stay here." He continued at the dismayed look on her face, "just stick with me, and when this is all over, he'll send us home."
"This is all your fault."
"Just how did this become my fault?"
"Well, just what did you do to piss off Zeus and Hera?" She demanded.
"I don't think you really wanted to know." Ares said evasively. He wasn't about to admit that he has been spying, no, watching over her.
Gabrielle got up and noticed a group of teenagers were passing by and giving them strange looks. She looked at what they were wearing and grimaced, the future must indeed be a strange new world. One of the young men stared at them and finally unable to contain his laughter turned to his friends and said in voice loud enough for all to hear, "look at leather boy and Sheena!"
Ares got up and started to walk toward the youth, but Gabrielle yanked on his elbow and pulled him back. "Do you still have your powers?"
Ares waved his hand and the youth tripped and fell. He smiled, "I believe I do."
Gabrielle gave him a harsh look, "just put us in some clothes similar to what they are wearing."
Ares looked at the group and then back at Gabrielle, "but I don't like what they are wearing."
"Will you stop whining?" Gabrielle was fast losing her patience. This is definitely going to be a day she would remember forever. "We can't go around looking like we do right now. Come on, let's just try to blend in and hopefully this miserable day will be over soon, and I can go back home."
Ares waved his hands again and had created matching outfits of denim shirts, cargo jeans and sneakers for both of them. Gabrielle pulled at the shirtsleeves and instinctively rolled them up to her elbows. She shifted around a little and decided that she liked what she's wearing. She smiled at Ares, "thanks, they are actually really comfortable." She bounced on her feet a couple of times; "these shoes are great. Too bad I don't have my sais with me, they'll fit right into these, what do you call them?" She pointed at the pockets of her cargo pants.
"They are called pockets." Ares watched her and shook his head; "you are really getting into this, aren't you?"
"Well, since I've no other choice than to ride this out, I might as well make the most of out of it." She looked at him in trepidation, "Ares, you are going to take me back right? I mean when it's time for Zeus to send you home, you won't just leave me here?" There was a slight tremor to her voice.
"You have nothing to worry about, you are definitely going home with me." He promised.
Gabrielle looked at him and was embarrassed by the intensity of his gaze. She tried to break the tension by changing the subject, "perhaps we should check around and see what's going on. Do you know where we are?"
Ares tilled his head and closed his eyes for a second. He reopened them, "we are in Sydney, Australia and the date is December 31st, 1999, and it's 11:00 p.m."
"Umm, Sydney? 1999? What are those?"
"Beats me. Come on, let's see what we can find."
The two walked off the grass onto the paved road and traveled along the waterway. Gabrielle stopped occasionally and looked around in amazement. At one point she gaped and stood totally still, "just what in the world is that?" She pointed toward a structure with tall white sails, which from a distance looked like it was floating on the harbor.
Ares used his powers again, "that is the Opera House, some sort of place where people can gather to listen to music." He shrugged.
"Oh..." Gabrielle said lamely, not really understanding, but decided that it wasn't that important. They were approaching the strange structure and Gabrielle was amazed to find tons of people gathered around the steps of the Opera House. They continued on pass the building and walked toward the Harbor Bridge. "What are those things?" She pointed toward the cars that were travelling along the road.
"They called them automobiles or cars. It's based on the same principle as the wagons that we use." Ares shrugged; the crowd was getting so thick that they could hardly move around at all. "Just what is going on here?" He demanded. All of a sudden the crowd started to holler and the count down had started.
Gabrielle moved closer to Ares and instinctively grabbed his hand in fear when a loud noise signaled the beginning of fireworks. Ares pulled her in and shielded her from the crowd. But curiosity got the better of her, and she turned her attention back to the sky. After the initial shock wore off, she actually enjoyed the display of fireworks. She leaned back against Ares and watched in amazement of the spectacular display.
When it was all over, she turned and grinned at Ares, "that was, that was... I can't find words to express that..." she laughed at herself.
Ares was thoughtful for a moment, "apparently, we had just witnessed the beginning of the new millennium."
"So, this is what Zeus wanted you to see?"
"Don't know, but," he stopped short when he notice the portal reopened itself. He wasn't sure that he was ready to go home yet. But the decision was taken out of his hands as he felt himself being sucked in. He gripped Gabrielle's hand tightly and pulled her along with him.
They landed on the streets of Cairo still holding hands. Gabrielle looked around and a sense of familiarity washed over her. "I feel like I've been here before." She whispered.
"Yes, I believe you have. This is Egypt." Ares consulted his magic guidebook. He pointed up the hill; "we probably should go this way." The two walked up Pyramid Road toward the Pyramids of Giza.
The centuries old pyramids remained a sight of wonder. Gabrielle took a deep breath and questioned softy; "do you know why are we here?"
"My guess is that this is a continuation of us exploring of the millennium." He frowned, "strange, the date is December 31st, 1999 again."
"But I thought we just..."
Ares was thoughtful, "Gabrielle, you are not going to believe this, but it seems this strange world travels in different time zones."
"Time zones?" She looked at him in bewilderment.
"Well, it simply means that while it is night time in Greece, it's day time in California."
"What is California?"
"I have a feeling that we will find out in time."
The pyramids put on an elaborate show as it ushered in the new millennium.
No longer afraid of the loud noises, Gabrielle took full advantage this time and just set out to enjoy herself. She sighed when it was over. But she jumped when the guy next to her pulled out his cell phone and started punching in some numbers. "What is he doing?"
"He is using the telephone." Ares frowned again, although his powers allowed him to know what's going on, it's still hard for him to comprehend all the modern devices.
"Telephone, it's a device which carries you voice over wires so that someone else far away can hear you." He repeated what he read from the modern device manual.
Before Ares could say another word, the portal appears again. "Come on Gabrielle, just hang on, I think it's time for us to leave Egypt." Ares took hold of her hand as he felt the force of the portal pulling them in once more.
The two twirled around and landed again, this time in the City of Lights. Gabrielle looked around and turned to Ares, "do you know where we are?"
"We are in Paris." He pulled her up and looked around. They had actually landed on the Arc de Triomphe, and with a direct view of the Champ Elysees. Gabrielle shuddered as she looked down on the magnificent tree-lined boulevard. "So this is the future?"
"I guess." Ares used his powers again, "come on, we are suppose to go to this place called the Eiffel Tower."
Gabrielle wrapped her arms around herself and asked as her teeth started to chatter, "Ares, do you think I could have something warmer to wear?"
Ares looked at the bard; her lips were turning blue from the cold. "So climate changes too along with time zones?" He shook his head in wonder and waved his hand and Gabrielle was once again engulfed in warmth inside the leather jacket that he had conjured up for her. "I always thought leather was a good thing." Ares smiled as he zipped up his own leather jacket.
Gabrielle remained speechless after witnessing the millennium celebration put on by the Parisians. She thought of the spectacular display that she had just seen and shook her head in astonishment, "Xena would never believe this." She laughed; "I still can't believe this."
"I thought I'd seen everything, but this..." Ares said.
"Hey, where can we go next?" After witnessing three fabulous displays, Gabrielle was ready for more.
Ares smiled at her; "you don't want to go home?"
"Not yet, I'm having too much fun." She was hopping up and down like a child.
"Fun, with me?" He taunted softly and watched as the color traveled all the way up to the roots of her hair.
"It's the adventure, not the company!" She said defiantly.
"You know, there is another name for Paris." He looked at her teasingly.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"The City of Love!" He said mockingly.
But this time Gabrielle refused to back down, "well, in that case, we should hurry up and get out of here before your sister shows up."
Ares chuckled with amusement. "Okay, let see, where should we go?" Once again he pulled out a huge guidebook and turned the pages. "Well, if you want to see more millennium celebrations, we have to travel toward the west."
Gabrielle leaned over and looked at the unfamiliar printing. She understood the body of water, but was lost with everything else.
"We should go here." Ares pointed along the eastern seaboard of North America. "We can probably go to either Toronto or New York."
"What do you think?" Gabrielle returned.
Ares shrugged, "it doesn't make any difference to me, but hey, New York is also known as the Big Apple."
"I wouldn't mind having an apple right now." Gabrielle said and realized she was actually quite hungry.
"Okay, New York, here we come." Ares said in louder tone, "all right Father, send us to New York." The portal reopens, and without hesitation, the two jumped right through it.
The two landed in midtown among crowds of people who were there listening to Christina Aguilera.
"Don't tell, it's December 31st, 1999, right?"
"Exactly." He heard the rumbling of her stomach, "Come on, there's still time to feed you first."
The two stopped outside a Starbucks coffee shop. "It looks like they have food, come on, let's go inside."
As usual, there's a long line for coffee. They waited for their turn, but didn't know what to order. Gabrielle saw a lady holding on to a steaming up with whipped cream on top and decided that's what she would like. She heard the word mocha, and repeated it to the girl at the counter. Not knowing what else to order, she pointed toward the scones and asked for two of those as well. Ares on the other hand did not like the look of whipped cream and ordered the first thing on the board. "Coffee?" He said timidly. He magically whipped up the required currency and paid for their purchases.
They took their drinks and sat down at a corner table. Gabrielle took a sip of her drink and smiled, "this is good. I never had anything like this before."
Encouraged by her words, Ares took a huge sip of his coffee and almost spit it out. "What in the world is this?" He grimaced as the bitter taste remained in his mouth. "This is the most foul tasting liquid I've ever had." He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pushed the cup away.
Gabrielle tentatively took a tiny sip and had to agree with him, "here," she gave him her cup, "take a sip of this, you'll like it." Ares looked at her in distrust, hesitated briefly, but decided to go for it. He took a small sip and decided he likes her drink much better.
"So this coffee thing really isn't so bad after all."
"You just have to know what to order." She took a bite of the scone, "umm, this is good too. You see Ares, aren't you glad that I'm here?" She said without thinking and immediately wished she could have taken it back.
Ares looked at her and said simply, "yes, you have no idea how glad I am." Gabrielle blushed and dropped her scone in surprise. They turned as they heard the loud noises outside; the countdown had begun. Not wanting to miss the celebration, they rushed outside just in time to see the ball dropped in Times Square.
"This is so exciting. Now what? Where do we go next?" Gabrielle turned to Ares and asked with a huge grin on her face. The thought of the future no longer frightens her, and the chance to see and experience more was definitely an exhilarating feeling.
Ares was caught up in her excitement. "How about San Francisco?" He consulted his magic guidebook. "If we leave now, we still have 3 hours before the celebration begins."
Gabrielle nodded as the portal opens up again. This time it was she who grabbed his hand and ran toward it.
They landed along the Embarcadero in San Francisco amid a huge gathering of people. "Can we get more mocha?" She asked.
"Sure." With Starbucks along every block of the financial district, it was easy for them to find one. This time Ares got smart and ordered mochas for both of them. They took their drinks and walked slowly along the embankment in companionable silence. They stopped when the countdown started and turned their attention skyward. Once again they watched as another part of the world brought in the new millennium.
This time when the display of fireworks stopped, Gabrielle turned to Ares and echoed softly, "Happy New Year!"
Ares grinned and replied just as softly, "since you are following the crowd" He leaned down but before he could do anything, Hera's voice boomed above their heads, "Ares, you get back here right now."
Gabrielle stepped away from him with a guilty look on her face. The portal opened once again and sucked them through without pause.
Ares and Gabrielle reappeared in Greece before an amused Zeus, an angry Hera, and a distracted warrior princess.
"Xena!" Gabrielle ran toward her friend and hugged her. "What are you doing here?"
"I've been going crazy searching for you. I managed to find enough clues to trace them back to him." She pointed to Zeus. "Where have you been?"
"Oh Xena, you wouldn't believe it. I've been on the most magical journey." Gabrielle stopped when she felt Hera gazing at her in disapproval.
Hera stared at Gabrielle with her cold, light colored eyes. "I tried to send him away from you, and what do I find, you, you following him all the way to the new world." The sight was actually quite scary, but Gabrielle refused to back down. "It wouldn't have happened if you didn't try to meddle in with your crazy ideas."
Hera started to move toward her with murderous intent, but Ares stepped in between the two women. "Mother, I'm back. I didn't want to go, but I'm glad that I did." He pulled Gabrielle behind him since he knows his mother's temper too well. "This isn't her fault. If you need someone to blame, you only need to look within yourself. In any event, I'm now back, in one piece, no harm done to anyone, so let's just drop the whole thing."
Hera stared at Gabrielle and had to agree that she did instigate the entire fiasco. "Just keep her out of my sight, or I won't be responsible for what I might do to her." She said angrily and disappeared in a cloud of lights.
Ares turned to his father, but Zeus interrupted him before he could say anything, "well, I see that you have enjoyed your little adventure. I'll see you in Olympus." He gave Gabrielle an amused look and then he too, disappeared.
"Uh, hello Gabby, just what is going on?" Xena waved her arm in front of Gab's face.
Gabrielle broke her gaze from Ares' and turned back to Xena, "I'll tell you later."
"Ares, you get up here now!" Hera's voice thundered across the sky. Ares sighed; "well, I guess I'll see you later." He smiled at Gabrielle and nodded briefly at Xena, then he too, disappeared leaving behind tendrils of smoke.
"Oh Xena, did you know that there is this thing called mocha and..." Xena cut her off when for the first she noticed what her friend was wearing. "Gabby, what is this disgusting thing that you have on?"