See part I for disclaimers
Reclaiming Destiny II
Marion D Tuttle
The warrior sat on the small window seat, watching the first cold grey fingers of the new day stretch across the sky. Her eyes turned next to the young woman lying in bed, fast asleep. A smile touched her lips as she remembered the night she and Gabrielle had just shared. For the first time in a long time she felt like she and the bard were connected again. For that she was immensely grateful, she was going to need Gabrielle's support in the days to come. The re entrance of Ares into their lives was something she could deal with. But Eve's choice to go out on her own, that one she was going to have a problem with.
Thinking that she should really wake Gabrielle up, but not having the heart to disturb her just yet she moved quietly to the door. Closing the door behind her she found herself looking at the door to Eve's room. Emotions warred within her, she hadn't told her daughter last night of her plans to help Ares. She had concentrated on Gabrielle and then...well they had gotten rather distracted. She rapped lightly on the door, when she heard no movement from inside she pushed it open slightly "Eve?" She called out
"I'm over here Mother." Eve was sitting in the shadows, looking down into the courtyard. "How did things go with Gabrielle last night?"
"Very well, Eve I want to talk to you..."
"I think I know what you want to talk about Mother, Ares wants his Godhood back and your going to help him, aren't you?"
Xena was surprised at how perceptive her daughter was, but then the thought occurred to her 'Why should this shock you? She is your child after all.' "Yes Eve I am, I want you to understand...."
"I think I do, you feel like you owe him for what he did. And I know you still feel a little guilt over the way things played out. But to help him get his powers back after he killed Eli?"
Xena had known this conversation was not going to be an easy one. With Gabrielle it had been different, although the bard was never a fan of Ares she had seen things in her time with Xena that made it easier for her to understand. All Eve had to go by was a very limited set of events. "Let me try and explain this to you, your right in a way I do feel like I owe Ares. Had he not saved you and Gabrielle you both would have died. I'll always be thankful to him for that no matter what, I can't deny that. You also are right about the guilt I feel over the Gods."
"Mother they left you no choice."
"That's my point exactly Eve, they left me no choice. They attempted to kill you before you were even born. They could have stopped what happened at any time by just agreeing to leave us in peace and allowing you to grow with no interference. But they either couldn't or wouldn't do that. As a result I was left with no choice but to kill them unless I was willing to sacrifice you. So I am not helping Ares out of gratitude or guilt. I am helping him because I believe people have the right to choose their own destiny."
"I don't understand."
"The Gods took away my choices, in truth I could have choosen to lose you but I was not going to lose another child. I believe in Eli's teachings, so does Gabrielle and we are so very proud of what you want to do. But Eve not everyone is as honest as you in their faith. Some people may take Eli's teachings and try to use them against people. Believe it or not that is where Ares comes in. I know you have choosen the path of peace, but that's just it, you choose it. Sometimes people do have to fight for what they believe in, or to keep from being taken advantage of. That is why I want to help Ares."
She let her Mother's words sink in to her, in some strange way what she had said made sense. "I think I do understand now...but I don't think I can help you..."
"That's fine, I would prefer you to stay as far from Ares as possible. Just because I have agreed to help him doesn't mean that I trust him. I do have one thing I would like to ask you though." She took a deep breath before going on. "I know you are anxious to get started on your new life and get Eli's teachings out. But would you promise me that you will stay here until Gabrielle and I get back?"
"Of course Mother!" Hugging the older woman Eve went on. "I wouldn't think of leaving until I can say a proper goodbye to you and Gabrielle."
Feeling that her emotions were close to the surface right now Xena thought it best that she get back to her own room. She didn't need to be showing any signs of weakness in front of Ares, she still wasn't completely convinced that he didn't have some sort of trick up his sleeve. Back in her own room she was surprised to find Gabrielle up and dressed. She was pouring heated water into the mugs they used to mix their herbs for tea in. Handing one to Xena she said "Here you go, I thought you could use something warm before we go to face Ares."
"I thought you were sleeping."
"Yeah well, I knew if I let you know I was awake you wouldn't have taken the time you needed to talk with Eve. You did go talk to her right?"
Xena shook her head at the bard's smile. "How do you do that?"
"Know what I need and find a way to give it to me even before I know I need it."
"It comes from years of knowing and loving you. You know your not the only one with 'many skills'."
"I see that." She answered as she pulled the smaller woman into the circle of her arms. "And to answer your question, yes Eve and I talked. She wasn't really too happy to find that we were going to help Ares at first. But I think she has some understanding now of why I feel like we should do this."
Feeling the warmth of her warrior's arms Gabrielle planted a reassuring kiss on her lover's lips. "I'm sure she does, now what do you say we get going and and see what this plan is all about? I'm sure Ares is already pacing the length of the stables waiting to see what you have to say."
True to her prophecy, they found the former God of War wearing a trench in the floor. Looking up upon hearing them enter he was on the verge of making a comment about them taking their own sweet time, but thought better of it. He knew he was on thin ice here and any smartass remarks might get him left to fend for himself. "Xena, Gabrielle, I see your ready to go. Where is the precious little bundle?"
Xena was at his throat in a flash. "I warned you Ares! Eve is not getting anywhere near you."
He backed away hands up and palms out in a gesture of submission. "Hey I just assumed she would be coming along that's all."
"Well you were wrong."
Ares stepped back, straitening his leather from where Xena had grabbed him. "Ok then, are we ready to go?"
"Not before you tell me what this plan of yours is, I said I would help you Ares, but make no mistake I am not going to war for you."
"Not a problem Xena, if this works out then we shouldn't have to spill a drop of blood."
Both woman looked at each other with a mix of trepidation and wonder at the calm of the man standing before them. He looked and sounded like Ares, but he wasn't thinking like him. Maybe he had changed. Xena was the first one to ask. "So what exactly does this plan of your involve? Ambrosia?"
"No, unfortunately I tried that, remember? There are a lot of legends about places that Ambrosia is kept. Some of them are true, but as I have sadly learned most of them are false. Fake trails set up by Zeus himself to keep mortals from finding the Ambrosia." He looked down at the flooring "There is only one way to get my Godhood back and that is to find the cave where my Grandfather Kronus is buried."
Xena and Gabrielle both were shocked at what he was saying. "Ares you know that no mortal knows were to find that cave, unless you know where it is then I don't know how you think...."
"Your forgetting, there is one person that knows where it is, my dear little brother. I'm sure he is still around, defending those that can't defend themselves and all. That's where you come in Xena, it's not likely that Hercules would help me if I went to him. But if you were to talk to him. Tell him what I did to save Gabrielle and Eve...He would be more likely to agree."
It was true Xena hadn't thought about Hercules being able to find the cave. "Even if we can find Hercules Ares, I highly doubt that he is going to agree to this."
Ares looked between both women, he knew very well that there was no way is plan was going to work without Xena's help. Hercules was not going to do anything that Ares asked him to do. He needed Xena to get him to agree on his behalf. "I told you, all I want from you is your promise that you will try your best. If it doesn't work I will still consider the scales balanced between us. You will never hear from me again if that is what you want."
Before Xena could answer Gabrielle spoke. "This will square things between you and Xena? What about me Ares?"
Ares raised a brow, "What about you?"
Xena was interested in hearing what the bard had to say too. "That's what I said, you have done your fair share of interfering in my life too. Yes it's true you saved me from dying, but what about everything before that? All the mind games, You promised Xena you would never interfere with her again well I want the same guarantee."
The warrior had to admit, she was proud of her bard. Gabrielle had come a long way over the years and she was starting to think strategically. Ares had promised no interference in her life, but that had left the door open for him to mess around with Gabrielle's and that of course would have a direct effect on Xena. This way he would be held by his word to stay out of both of their lives.
Ares looked at the younger of the two women with grudging respect. He knew what his answer would have to be if he wanted their help. Still he couldn't help but feel a pang of disappointment that she had cut of the only route of interference he would have had. He couldn't help but wonder what might have been if some of the stunts he had pulled on Gabrielle to try and convince her to become Xena's successor would have worked. He raised his hands in an effort to show he accepted their terms. "Alright, no interference with either of you." He held up one finger "Unless you ask for it."
"We won't be asking." Xena answered.
"Just in case."
"Well since we seem to be in agreement now, let's get started. The sooner we find Hercules the sooner be through with this."
TBC all comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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