By Delenn
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All of Amphipolis was used to this: Xena coming home in the middle of the night, Cyrene worried half to death. Xena's eyes had a wild sparkle to them, her dresses were much to short on the bottom, and low on the top.

Tonight half the neighborhood was waiting in Cyrene's tavern when they heard Xena was missing at some hour of the night; it was a regular occurrence now. Xena stalked through the door. Cyrene saw her daughter walk in and started to scream "Where have you been? Do you realize what time it is? It's the middle of the night for gods sakes, Xena! I swear Lycues was a horrible influence on you! Why do you disappear every night since Lycues' death? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? LOOK AT HOW YOU ARE DRESSED! That dress is worse then usual!"

Cyrene then grabbed Xena and shook her, trying to get more information. However tonight was a month after Xena's sixteenth birthday. Xena was already six feet tall, a strong and beautiful girl. And Xena had different ideas then being pushed around by her mother. Xena said in a cool voice "Mother, let go of me."

Cyrene said, still half screaming, though no longer shaking her daughter. "NO!"

Xena calmly said, hiding how uncomfortable she was at her mother’s strong touch. "Let go mother, I don't want to hurt you."

Cyrene mocked her to the usual neighbors, still keeping a firm grasp on Xena "You don't want to hurt ME?"

She laughed then continued, turning to the young woman in her arms, "That is funny Xena, you're sixteen! You've never been out of the village! And you're worried about hurting me?"

Xena growled, trying to discretely get out of Cyrene’s grasp. "Shut up."

The villagers prepared for the Worst, knowing that Cyrene didn’t take insults lightly. Cyrene smacked Xena as hard as she could across the face, letting go of her as she did so. A welt began to swell up on Xena's cheek, but other then that, Xena showed no sign of injury. The neighbors were starting to get worried, a few of them had been on the receiving end of Cyrene's punch/smack, it could knock over a grown man. But this sixteen-year-old girl hadn't even flinched.

Xena was hurt, emotionally, sure her mother had occasionally slapped her lightly, or shook her for information, but she had never punched her. ‘How could mom do that? I'm her daughter!’ Xena wondered. Suddenly an over whelming rage welled up inside of her, what did the bitch think she was doing hitting her? Xena turned to leave, stopped mid-way to the door, and flipped back to her mother, placing a well-delivered kick to Cyrene's stomach. Yep, this was why she had worn this dress today.

Cyrene flew across the room, and into a table. She was too stunned to feel the unbelievable pain. Cyrene stood up and screamed "AS LONG AS YOU LIVE UNDER MY ROOF YOU WILL SHOW ME PROPER RESPECT!"

The crowd was now worried, where did a sixteen year old girl learn to do flips like that, or for that matter, kick with such force? Xena turned to really leave, just before she reached the door she turned and stated "You were always an awful mother anyway. Try again with Ivaia, and Luke. I'm sure they will be more of a success then me, Daddy, Toris and Lycues were. Well know one thing; I was all you had left! Daddy's gone, you drove him away. Toris is gone, thanks to you forcing him to be the man of the house. Lycues is dead because you tried to make him your baby boy. And now I'm gone, because you suffocated me. I'm sure Ivaia will forget about me, she can be an only child. You need never worry about her awful example of a sister, or brothers. We are gone, you drove us away. Don't worry about the children that were mistakes, we are all gone. Start anew with the perfect baby girl you wanted. You are a bitch, I pity Ivaia."

Xena then turned and walked out the door. Nobody realized that that would be the last time Xena would come home or even speak to Cyrene for over 10 years.

Xena bolted away from the town as fast as she could, not sure where she was going. When she reached the forest that marked the outside of Amphipolis Ares appeared. He immediately asked, having sensed his princess in some-type of distress, "Xe, what's wrong?"

Xena's legs chose that moment to give way on her, much to her dismay. Ares caught her, a look of true concern in his eyes. Xena leaned her head on his chest and started crying. Ares was horrified, what had happened to his princess? She NEVER cried, they disappeared a second later.

They reappeared in Ares' personal chambers, in his palace, on Mount Olympus. Ares sat Xena down, and held her for a minute while she cried. When she had quieted a little he gently asked again "What happened, princess?"

Princess was his pet name for her, it was his way of promising that when she was older, she would be a queen.... his queen. Xena managed to stop crying and told Ares the whole story "...Then I left. I just couldn't stay there, you know?"

Ares nodded and brushed back a lock of hair from Xena's face. Outside he appeared calm and comforting. On the inside he was steaming, Cyrene had hit Xena? HIS Xena? The most perfect and wonderful person he had met through all the centuries that he had been on this earth. Actually, if he thought back, he could trace Xena's whole bad attitude to Cyrene. Most recently it was the birth of Ivaia, Luke moving in with them, and most devastating for Xena, Lycues' death. Cyrene was also the reason that Xena had so many small problems. As a matter of fact, Cyrene was a down right lousy parent. ‘Just like my parents, couldn't be worse. And look how I've turned out’ he thought bitterly, he, the God of War, Xena was doing the same thing, becoming rather violent. The fact that Xena had to have everything put away perfectly traced back to how, when she was little, Cyrene used to tell Xena to clean her room, give her an hour, then take and give away any things that were not put away. Or how Xena never cried, unless the most disastrous thing happened, could be traced back to Cyrene telling Xena that she was weak and a crybaby when she cried, and giving her chores to do. That was why instead of crying Xena would often worked on flips or something like that. There were endless things. Xena trusted Ares and would tell him all about things like that, never leaving out when she was to fault. Actually she always was too hard on herself, another thing that could be traced back to Cyrene. And Cyrene had the NERVE to hit Xena now? When she was crying inside, just because she didn't show hurt on the outside! He reassured Xena "It's okay, just stay here until you feel better then you can go back and try to explain to Cyrene."

Xena shook her head her voice had an icy chill to it, "I'll never feel good again. But if you think I should, I'll go back and ‘try’ to explain everything to Cyrene."

She trusted him explicitly he realized that. What had he done to earn such trust? Ares felt something change in Xena though, and he had to believe that she really never would feel completely good again. A part of her would always be angry, he could hear it. He frowned, it had taken HIM ages to even consider being nice to another person again, and he didn't even want to think what something like this could do to his beloved Xena. As much as war hated to admit it, he liked Xena the way she was, sure he had plans of her leading his army, but he didn’t want to lose her to bloodlust, like he had lost himself. Xena asked quietly, a little shaken up, "Could I stay here tonight? I don't feel like going home yet."

Ares nodded, his poor Xena, "Sure, Xe, want me to take you to your room? Call ‘Dite maybe?"

Xena said, surprisingly calm, "No, I mean, could I maybe stay here, tonight, with you? We could talk or something. Maybe I'll talk to ‘Dite tomorrow."

Ares smiled, he kissed Xena's forehead and asked "What would you like to talk about, my dear?"

Xena smiled, and snuggled closer in his arms, she felt safe around him.

The next day Xena walked in the door of her family’s house, ready to apologize, forgive, and come back home. Finding her worried mother, being asked where she had been all night, and Ivaia hugging her and exclaiming how wonderful she was, like usually happened when Xena stayed out all night. Instead she met the hard eyes of Luke, her mother's boy friend that Xena hated. He said "What are you doing here? I thought you had left. I was already moving stuff into your room."

He pointed to a pile of things next to the door "Those are your things, if you want them better grab them before I throw them away."

Xena took a deep breath, she had promised Ares that she would try to go back home, and said "Actually, Luke, I've come to apologize for hitting mom, and come home." Luke turned to her and sternly said "I won't stand for you living in my house. Because of you Cyrene is at the healers, she hasn't been well all day. You want to stay out all night at sixteen, wear dresses that no decent woman should wear, let alone a mere girl, and you want to pretend to be a warrior? Well then be my guest, but don't be trying stuff like that in my house. I wouldn't have a slut like you near my daughter if my life depended on it. Go live with all the guys you spend all night with. I never want to see you in this house again. Now get OUT."

Xena couldn't move, she couldn't speak, and her heart was breaking. She didn't know what to do. She didn't feel safe, she didn't feel loved, and she didn't feel happy. She did the only thing she could think of, she whispered "Ares, help me."

Luke closed his eyes, ‘What did the slut say?’ When he opened them again Xena and all her things were gone.


She collapsed into a sobbing heap. Ares frowned, it scared him to see his princess in such pain. Ares picked Xena up, carried her to the bed, and gently set her down. He tried to be comforting, but it wasn’t something he was used to doing, "Just stay here, Xe, don't worry about anything for a little bit. Trust me, in the morning everything will seem better."

Xena nodded, still crying. Ares held Xena for a moment. Then lightly kissed her forehead, then each cheek, where she had been crying. He whispered, amazing himself "I love you."

Then his lips just barely brushed hers. Xena whispered back "I love you too."

Something unexplainable drew their lips into a passionate kiss, their hearts meeting. Ares pulled back abruptly, got up and paced for barely a minute. Xena looked at him questioningly, Ares stopped pacing and addressed Xena in an almost formal manor. "I have to go away for awhile, Xena, I'll be back tomorrow. If you want to talk to Aphrodite, or leave, just call her."

And disappeared. Xena couldn't help it, she suddenly had millions of unanswered questions, she called "Ares, wait, come back."

Ares didn't appear, however he did say, "I can't Xena, I need to sort some things out. We'll talk tomorrow, just relax for now."

Xena lay down on her stomach and fell into a restless sleep.

Ares reappeared in Aphrodite’s palace, he wasn’t exactly sure why he was there, but he assumed it was because she was one of the few gods he got along with. She was sitting on a pink couch having a manicure. “No, no, that’s like totally the wrong shade of pink! Like think the color I’m wearing… I want this to like totally MATCH!”

Ares asked teasingly “Should I come back when you’re not in one of your pink obsessed moods? Oh wait, you’re ALWAYS in those moods.”

Aphrodite looked up at the sound of her brother’s voice, careful not to move her hands in the slightest so as not to mess her manicure, “Hey bro, like what’s up? You like totally better not’ve come here to like harass me about the color of like my temples again, have ya?”

Ares said, sitting down on the overly pink couch next to his sister “No, I just came here to… well… talk?”

Aphrodite smiled delicately, “Like that’s totally what I’m here for, what can I do for ya, Stud muffin?”

Ares gestured to the priestess doing Aphrodite’s nails “Could we talk in private?”

Aphrodite giggled, batting her eyelashes sweetly so as not to anger her brother. “Nope, sorry bro but looks come before family. Kirin will be done in a flash though, and then I suppose I can wait a bit before my hair appointment… After all allowances can be made for my fave bro!”

Ares couldn’t help but laugh at his beauty-obsessed sister; he shrugged, “I suppose I can wait… I don’t have anything better to do or else I wouldn’t be in this pink travesty you call home to talk to my ditzy little sister.”

Sitting back on the pink couch and throwing a few pink lacy pillows out of his way Ares waited for his sister to finish her manicure. Aphrodite turned to look at the God of War angrily, pointing a well-manicured finger, from the hand that had already dried, at her brother, she warned. “Just because you’re like totally my fav bro does NOT mean that you can insult me. You watch it, I just might make ATHENA fall in love with you…”

Ares sat bolt upright and stared at his sister in shock at her proposal of making his most hated enemy fall in love with him. “You wouldn’t!”

Aphrodite giggled, fixing her hair with her free hand before lowering it to her lap in a lady like manor. “Try me Stud muffin…”

Ares sighed, reminding himself that he had come here voluntarily. “Alright, I’m… Sorry…”

Aphrodite giggled, waving away Kirin, who had finally finished “See? That totally wasn’t hard! Anyways, like what did ya want to talk to me about?” she rearranged a few lacy pillows and then leaned towards her brother, her face cupped in her hands. “I’m all yours…”

Ares stood up and started to pace, running a hand through his hair, Aphrodite watched him for a moment then stated. “What’s up, bro? And like ‘nough with the pacing already you’re totally giving me a headache.”

Ares stopped pacing and sat down again. With all of his usual confidence he answered “I think the headache is from the polish fumes you breathe in while getting your nails done, sis, sorry to tell you.”

Aphrodite tapped one of her long pink nails on her leg, waiting for her brother to get over the insults and actually tell her what was wrong. “Yo, bro, ya know I love ya, but I like totally don’t have all millennium. Hair appointment?”

Ares finally continued, “It’s Xena…”

Aphrodite immediately looked up, somewhat confused, “Your little warrior babe? What’s she got to do with it?”

Ares stood up and started to pace again “Everything! She had a fight with her mom and she’s staying at my temple…”

Aphrodite nodded to show she was listening, but figured it was better not to get her brother sidetracked at the moment. Ares continued, finally managing to spit it out. “We were talking and… We kissed.”

Aphrodite let out a squeal and jumped up, ready to hug her brother, if she hadn’t remembered her still semi-wet nails in time. “Oh that is so sweet! Like FINALLY! I’ve so totally been waiting for this! I HAVE to mark this down—“

Ares stopped his sister in mid ramble “Aphrodite- Focus, no marking this down, none of your mushy ‘oh this is so great’ stuff, okay?”

Aphrodite sat back down dejectedly, until she noticed the confused look on her brothers face, “Okay, so what’s really buggin’ ya?”

Ares sighed and sat back down “I DON’T KNOW! That’s the problem! I’ve wanted this for awhile now, and I can’t figure out what’s wrong.”

Aphrodite looked confused for a moment then she smiled and giggled, “Ooh, I get it! War’s scared of Love!” she carefully refrained from any ‘I was right’ comments, that could be saved for later.

Ares turned to his sister abruptly “I am NOT in love!”

Aphrodite put her hand on Ares’ shoulder “Of course you are! It’s SOOO obvious! So like stop acting so totally macho and just admit it, you’re in love!”

Ares sighed, realizing he had already lost this battle, ‘Could I REALLY be in love?’ he questioned himself. Finally Ares asked the question that had been bothering him “I just don’t know, Dite, she’s so young…”

Aphrodite patted her brothers shoulder sympathetically, “Bro, we’re ancient in their terms, all mortals seem ‘so young’ its nothing to stress ‘bout. All right, well let me tell ya something Stud muffin, and this IS my job so I should know, she is so OBVIOUSLY in love with you! Even more so then how obvious it is that you’re in love with HER. So stop all the chit chatting with your li’l sis and go down there and talk to her!”

Ares got up and tuned to leave. Suddenly Aphrodite’s voice rang out “Hey bro, wait just a sec.”

Ares turned just in time to be engulfed in a hug from his sister, who exclaimed “I’m so totally happy for ya bro! After all these eons you’re totally in love! I have to admit I’d almost given up on ya.”

Ares pried his sometimes blonde sister off of him and disappeared, feeling slightly dizzy from her perfume and all the pink, he had even more things to workout now then before.

Luke carried boxes of his stuff to what used to be Xena’s room. Cyrene stopped him in the kitchen “But Luke, what if she comes back? I don’t want to have no room for her if she apologizes and respects our rules.”

Luke sighed, what was it with this mothering instinct? “Take care of Ivaia, Cyrene! I’ve had to deal with her while you were at the healers! Xena isn’t coming back into my house, no apology can make up for what she did to you. Now take care of our child, woman, and leave me to moving my stuff.”

Cyrene nodded, “I know Luke, I didn’t mean to anger you, it’s just… I can’t believe she did that, said that, she is my oldest girl!”

Luke sighed, and left Cyrene to her ramblings with Ivaia. Taking yet another box he started to ascend the stairs. ‘Damn, trashy, bitch. Making Cyrene so upset, well at least I have her room to store my stuff in, finally. That Xena won’t know what hits her if she sets foot in my house again, little slut. How’d she get away with her stuff so quickly anyway? Oh well, all the better, Cyrene will never know she came back! I’m rid of the one thing that stood in my way of ruling this household, like a man should.’

Carrying the box to her room and setting it down, he contemplated the decoration ‘It looks like something a girl would be in, well I suppose that’s no surprise, I’ll have to tell Cyrene about changing it when I go down.’

Unpacking a few of his things Luke headed back downstairs. Reaching the bottom he stated “Cyrene, we should do something to that room, it has to much of a girly feel.”

Cyrene looked up and shook her head violently, “No, we’ll leave it the same, it holds precious memories of before my girl turned into that.”

Ivaia, who sat on her mommies lap, asked, a lisp slipping into her speech. “Dadee, where’d Zeenah go?”

Luke shifted under his daughters stare, hoping that the girl would out-grow the childish lisp soon. “She went away, baby, don’t worry, I’m sure she’s fine.”

Inwardly Luke thought ‘Like I could care how she is, I better put on a performance for Iva though, she is so sensitive, my little girl.’

Ivaia looked up at her mommy, she only stumbled over names, and she did try hard to avoid that. “Momee, why’d sister go away?”

Cyrene pulled the child up, heading towards the kitchen to make dinner, “Shh, enough questions, Iva, mommy’s tired. Just forget it, all right? Come on, you can help me with dinner, I’ll let you shell the snow-peas.”

Luke sighed, watching them walk into the kitchen, he could only hope that Ivaia would soon forget about Cyrene’s other daughter.

Xena woke laying on the bed, she tried to go back to sleep, but found that impossible, soon becoming bored she called out “Aphrodite! Come cheer me up, will you?”

In a flash of pink hearts and sparkles the goddess of love appeared with a hairdresser behind her, complaining. “STOP that! You know it will mess up your ‘do if you aether while I’m cutting! HONESTLY, you immortals!”

Aphrodite waved her hand and rolled her eyes, sitting next to Xena. “What’s up, Chicka?”

Xena smiled “I’m bored…”

Aphrodite smiled “Well we totally have to fix that! Want a haircut?”

The hairdresser shook her head “Stop moving, Aphrodite, you KNOW that I can’t fix your hair right if you move while I’m setting it!”

Aphrodite sighed, sticking her hand a few inches from Xena’s face, “What do you think about my manicure?”

Xena laughed, pushing the offending hand a little farther away from her face. “I like it, Aphrodite, a haircut sounds nice.”

Aphrodite giggled happily and the hairdresser murmured, “Just a moment, I have to finish her first!”

Xena ran a hand through her waist long raven hair… thinking of what she wanted to do to it, certainly she wasn’t planning on braiding it anymore, like Cyrene had insisted.

The hairdresser finished with Aphrodite, who sat on a plush chair she made appear, and suggested, “Do you want bangs?”

Xena nodded slowly, “And I want it short… Not to short though… Just to past my shoulders I think.”

Aphrodite sighed, she never had been one for really long hair, and said “Yeah your cut was totally in need of an over-hall! That seems like a cool idea…”

Xena smiled, tucking her hair up to the length she wanted. “It’s better to fight with it this length.”

Aphrodite shrugged, her hair was very short, very curly and strawberry blonde at the moment, it‘s one of her new fads “Whatever works… So what’s up with you and the stud muffin of war?”

Xena rolled her eyes, “Nothing!”

Ares watched the slaughter going on before him with little interest, his thoughts were not focused on the warlord he was watching, as they should have been, instead his thoughts revolved around one person, one woman. ‘It can’t be love, Dite can’t be right! She’s just upset over that temple of hers an army trampled. I’ll NEVER hear the end of that either. Ugh why does this even bother me?’

His thoughts were gladly interrupted by someone screaming his name in help, “Oh god of war save me! Help me win this war!!”

Ares rolled his eyes, slicing the man in two with one swipe of his sword. Warlords were so pathetic lately. This brought his attention back to Xena. ‘Not her, she’ll slaughter these idiots and claim their men for her own. She’ll rule the world with my guidance, I can SEE it. Whole nations will tremble at her feet… Now that’s something to be there for...Xena…’ He made himself visible to the troops, who were looking at the body of their commander. “I have a new leader for you, stay.”

The army nodded slowly, they weren’t the smartest, but they could follow orders and were exceptional fighters… No one there would think to overthrow his princess, not that she couldn’t handle each man. A flash of light alerted Ares to another’s presence. “You’ve really done it this time, brother!”

Ares snarled “Did you come here to be target practice Apollo?”

Apollo rolled his eyes “Enough with the threats, Ares, I’m here on your behalf this time. Could we go someplace less… bloody?”

Ares shrugged, the disgust he felt for the god evident in his voice, “Lead the way…”

Apollo nodded and disappeared along with Ares.

Athena paced the great hall of Olympus, waiting for her father to appear. She twirled a lock of shoulder length reddish brown hair in her hand, briefly wondering weather she should grow it out or leave it as is. She did not like to be kept waiting, but how could you hurry the king of the gods? Finally, much to Athena’s relief, Zeus appeared in his throne, obviously in a bad mood. “Hera has tried to kill my youngest son again, will that woman never quit? What is it, Athena?”

Athena bowed her head respectful for her father’s power, he could, after-all, blast her on the spot, and so she attempted to appease her father to her cause. “I am sorry about your queen, my father, she has no right to disobey you.”

Zeus waved his hand slowly, signaling for her to sit. “Thank you. What is it you want, daughter?”

Athena took her seat gratefully, “Thank you father. I wish to inform you about my brothers happenings…”

Zeus sighed wearily, he was tired of hearing his children complain about each other. “Which of your brothers, child?”

Athena sighed, wondering if she should have waited to bring this up. “Ares, father, he has—“

Zeus interrupted her “What does this have to do with you or I, Athena?”

Athena continued, praying she could play on this, “Well my brother has a mortal female interest, and I do not see it fitting…”

Zeus growled slowly “How many times must I tell you to stay out of things like that, Athena?”

Athena quickly backed up, knowing quite well how her father felt about subjects like that. “No, no, father. It is not like that. This mortal… I hear he is going to make her an army…”

Zeus waved his hand, gesturing her to continue almost patiently, “And?”

Athena shuffled her feet, unsure if she could pull this off, “You know how loyal Ares has always been to your queen, I hear that this woman and him are planning to do harm to your youngest son.”

Athena thought viciously ‘Youngest recognized son that is…’ Zeus sighed, just what he needed, “Very well, thank you for informing me, Athena, bring this woman here and we shall see what threat she poses.”

Athena nodded slowly, trying not to let her grin show “Yes my father, I shall do as you request.”

As Athena disappeared Zeus noted, “My child seems to know more then she is telling… I shall have to keep an eye on this.”

Xena finished her drills and got a drink of water, trying not to wonder about her family. It was surprisingly easy to forget about them… But she was tired and hot and alone; she was bored being alone, and angry… very angry.

An energy washing over her being alerted her to the new presence, even before there was a flash of blue light. “Well, you took your time coming back.”

Ares sighed, crossing his arms over his chest, “I told you that I had things to do.”

Xena shrugged, walking around him and consequently forcing him to turn around. “No, actually, you said that you had to work some stuff out…. So did you?”

Ares watched her move with interest, “Well, there was a war and…” he stopped himself and changed sentences “You changed your hair. I like it.”

Xena rolled her eyes. “Yeah, well, I had to do something. Besides, its better for fighting.”

Ares nodded, accepting that theory easily. “That’s true, much easier to fight with your hair that length. Xena, I’m sorry I left you so… abruptly…”

Xena glared daggers at him “Abruptly? Oh, please, I’m not some priestess waiting for your every breath!”

Ares rolled his eyes “No, of course not, that’s why you’re special… You’re not dead yet.”

Xena still glared “Ha, ha, very funny.”

Ares sighed, “Xena, let me explain… I-I just wasn’t sure how to deal with you.”

Xena lined up a row of stinging comments, and was about to fire them off when she finally looked - really looked - into his eyes. What she saw differed from his attitude and words; she saw that he really did care. “I- it’s okay…”

Ares simply stared at her, wondering at her change in attitude. He saw a future with her as her, as the title she picked, the Destroyer of Nations. But he saw something else, he saw her there, by his side. It was an interesting thought ‘One that Aphrodite is never going to hear…. Oh, gods, I’d never hear the end of that!’ That thought jolted his memory to the army he had waiting. “Xena--“

Xena crossed smoothly over to the God of War and kissed him, effectively stopping whatever he was going to say. His hands running along her back, and hers massaging his neck, when the fiery kiss finally broke Ares twirled Xena up in his arms and announced, “We’ll have to try this exit again sometime, princess,” before kissing her again, as they disappeared in a flash of blue light.

Athena glared at her father “What do you MEAN, you don’t see a problem!”

Zeus affectionately patted Athena’s shoulder. “Athena, darling, this woman is just some passing fling. I admit Ares could make her treat him with a little more respect. But, honestly, daughter, she’ll be gone in a week or two and you’ll have to find something else to fret over.”

Athena glared at her father as much as she dared. “And what would you know about it!? He’s training her to fight!”

Zeus sighed loudly, “Athena, your brother doesn’t train females well. He doesn’t believe they can properly fight. I know all about this, once he has her in his bed she’ll be gone--“

Athena cuttingly announced “Like all the women YOU sleep with! Please father, as much as I hate Ares, I have to give him a bit more credit then that.”

Zeus glared at his oldest daughter “Out, Athena, I don’t have time to deal with your theories today.”

Athena nodded carefully. “You’re right, father, I shouldn’t have bothered you with this.”

Zeus nodded “That’s right. Now go along with your duties, Athena, we’ll talk again at a meeting.”

Athena thought ‘I came to you too soon, father, you’ll understand later though… And that’s when you’ll help me!’ carefully keeping her voice even she said, “Yes, father.”

And disappeared, leaving Zeus to shake his head over “Disrespectful children… Even my favorites… I just can’t get a break!”

Xena stretched luxuriously in her leather outfit, before focusing entirely on the god of war in front of her. “What do you want to show me?”

Ares lazily stretched out his hand “I told you before, it’s a surprise…”

Xena stifled a yawn and took the offered hand… It wouldn’t do her any good if she appeared too tired; it was late as it was. In the customary whirlwind of blue light they disappeared and reappeared on a hilltop overlooking an army camp. Xena looked around the camp with interest. “What’s this?”

Ares grinned at her question. “This, my dear, is the key for you to destroy Corteese.”

Xena turned to Ares, her face an unreadable mask. “You mean…. Is this my army?”

Ares just nodded, the grin vanishing from his face quickly. “Of course. Would you like to meet your new second in command?”

Xena glowed at the thought of her own army. “Why?”

Ares shrugged, stepping away from her, “Because you are a wonderful warrior, and will make a great leader. Now, I’ll let you get started.”

Before Xena could comment, he was gone. “Fine, just up and leave.” She surveyed the scene before her “My own army, eh… I could get used to this….”

Letting out her newly perfected war cry Xena drew the attention of her troops. “I’m Xena, and you’re my army… I think its time we got acquainted.”




The End

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