I'd like to call this a kind of vent/rant on my part because I'm sick of hearing about a certain wistful 6th season possibility some people just can't get out of their stubborn heads. I think you'll be able to tell which one. Any constructive comments are welcome at the e-mail address provided.
This is dedicated to my wonderful online friends and family: Eptalk - All we need is love! *Grin* Martman - Viva the Relationship, bro! I tip my sword to you. Nightsong - distance means nothing with a friend like you, thanks for caring so much. Pixie and LA - I count myself lucky to have the support of my big sisters, thank you so much. And finally to my best friend D - for you, all the 'right ones'.
Beyond a large grove of trees and sweet-smelling wildflowers, Xena watches as her beloved sidekick and her daughter frolic in the cool waters of a lake not far from Crannon. She is unbelievably beautiful, as always. Even if all she does is repair that delicious leather garb she is always traipsing around Greece with.
I want her. There is no doubt about it. For a month I have been following them on foot, waiting for a chance to make my entrance and pay my respects to my best warrior. The only warrior, really. Her tanned skin is so perfect, so luminous even I have trouble keeping my feet from running to her, and my hands from reaching out to caress her. Her hair is slightly lifted in the breeze and its darkness reminds me of her own vicious dark side, the part of her that makes my blood run fast and hot, my insides tight and oh so aware.
Her eyes seem to slice through the air as surely as the cold steel of her sword. They search, strike you down and penetrate your soul with one easy glance. In that moment, you know whether you are lucky enough to escape or if you will be tasting your own blood as it flows from your silent scream of agony. I shiver as I watch her hands examine their work on her battle suit and armor. I imagine them running over my chest in abandon, tracing a slow, sensual trail farther down. Lower, lower...
She suddenly feels my thoughts, detects the scent of my sweat in the air. Xena slowly picks up her sword lying by her side the whole time. Expertly, she carries out some readying thrusts and holding the sword in a tight unyielding grip calls out into the bush where I am. That low, honey coated voice seeking my presence.
"Come out Ares, I don't feel like playing games with you today."
Slowly but purposefully I step out from behind the circle of trees I was watching her from, holding my hands up to show that I carry no weapons. I smile as easily as I can, eyes never leaving hers.
"Ah Xena, you simply can't keep my name off your lips for too long." I look at the sword and then back at her. "Feeling a little on edge are we?"
"I want you out of this camp NOW, if not sooner. Unless you want your guts all over the grass."
All that rage laying beneath the surface sends chills up and down my spine, her flashing eyes and thin bodice make me lick my lips in wonder before I continue.
"Come now Xena, is that any way to treat the one who saved your precious Gabrielle and Eve? I think I have proved the power of my love for you; the least I should get is a little tenderness." I look her up and down, drinking up every inch of tantalizing warrior princess.
"So you came through for once in your worthless existence. All praises to you...now leave."
I carefully come closer with quiet steps, so as not to alert the women playing mindlessly in the water that I am here. This meeting is strictly between the two of us, and we will be needing plenty of privacy. I stop when the frigid tip of her weapon grazes my chest. I smile at the tingle that causes the hairs on my body to stand on end.
"I think before I do that we have something to settle. Maybe you didn't understand me the first time - I saved Eve. I saved the irritating blonde. Truly, you owe me this time. And I'm here to collect."
I know she is watching me unflinching, guessing by now what it is I want. What I've wanted for a long, long time. Her eyebrows narrow and her lip curls in a snarl. Perhaps it is meant to scare any other man, but it only serves to excite me more.
"Ares, you had just better hope I'm not hearing what I think I'm hearing. I hate repeating myself and this is the last time I will do so: I will NOT have a child with you or be with you in any way involving you touching me. Unless of course, I'm pulling my sword out of your lifeless body and kicking it into the bushes."
I stroke my beard thoughtfully. "It doesn't mean anything to you then, that I saved the two people in this world you love the most. That it is my love for you that made it possible?" I circle her as I speak, being sure to lean in close to and whisper in her ear. "You know I still live inside you, that I'm part of you. And I also know you still want me, even though I can't hope to convince you to side with the winning team. Tell me Xena, aren't you getting hot at the thought of what we could be doing now? Mortal as I am, I can still...fulfill...your...desires..."
Faster than I think possible, she grabs the base of my neck and swings me hard into a nearby oak tree. My smile gets wider and I stare at her cleavage, so very close and unprotected.
"Ah, that's more like, I knew you'd see it my way."
I look up at her, but instead of seeing desire and some degree of gratefulness I see furious, unguarded rage. Her eyes have darkened to a hard, steel-colored appearance. I'm not sure if I gulp out of fear or anticipation.
"You can still claim to love me, you sick deluded bastard? I'd rather have my skin peeled off and hacked into tiny slivers than to spend one second, much less one night with you."
OK, now I'M getting somewhat peeved. I suppose in that instant my love for her is driving me to madness. Yeah.
"How can you refuse me now, after what I've done for you?! It's not like you can get better from your Amazon whore!"
Before the words are even out of my mouth she deals me a blow with her left arm that produces a sick crunching sound in my face. My jaw must be broken, and the right side of my lip begins to bleed, steadily trickling down my throat.
"Don't you ever, EVER talk that way about her. After your ways left me miserable in the dust, she was the one who stepped in to heal my soul, to share my life. You are not worth a tenth of what she is to me. And she gives me so much more satisfaction than you ever did."
She releases her grip on my neck and I slowly drop against the tree trunk, letting some air back into my lungs. I look at her as I rub the dull ache she inflicted, wiping the blood off my face. She begins to walk off now in the direction of the lake, snubbing me.
"This is the last time I will explain myself to you, EX-god of war. I LOVE Gabrielle, with my heart, my mind AND my body. Give up your sorry hopes that I will return to you, because it will never happen. It's done between us, finished. And I have never been happier."
Slowly, I lift myself off the ground, making one last attempt to appeal to her womanly emotions. The wench has become an incurable thirst, a fever that gnaws at the core of my existence. And I will not just let her go.
"I promised you the world and all its riches once; gave you the power to command the mightiest of legions and rule on high for eternity. But more than that, when I put you and the bard in the icy tomb, I promised you my love…."
"Hah! Your LOVE," she laughs. "In your love you talked me into nearly killing my best friend when you knew I was most vulnerable to hate. In love you impregnated Hope to get a share in world domination alongside Dahak. In love you corrupted my only daughter into following my path and almost got her to serve you mindlessly, like I did. And again in love you practically blackmailed me with her identity by offering me a chance to have your spawn in exchange for your silence to the gods. Yeah Ares, I could see where I would feel LOVED by you." She practically spits out that last one at me and turns her back to go.
"All I wanted is you by my side and I did whatever I could to make it happen. What I've done in the past doesn't change my feelings for you. I told you I loved you Xena, can't you see that? That emotion is real, and they were words straight from my heart."
She pauses in mid-stride and stands stone still for a moment. I smile to myself in victory. I've got her. She's turns around to face me and I know the next words out of her mouth will be a confirmation of her love.
"They were the wrong words, Ares."
Then she simply turns and walks away. I stand quickly; feeling like my whole body is convulsing in spasms. I must truly be pale and I break into a sweat. My face twists into a mask of pure rage as I reach inside my vest and whip a dagger at her retreating form.
If I can't have her, no one will.
All at once, I hear a zing of metal rush at me and the cloth above my right shoulder is pinned to the oak tree. At almost the same instant I hear a clang from Xena's position; a sai has cut off my throw to her back. I don't have to look up to know that its mate is what's holding me back against rough bark.
"Xena, are you alright?"
Gabrielle, wet and naked is gripping the warrior's arm in concern. She stares into cerulean eyes that look back at her in love, eyes that should be looking at me that way. Then, she turns to me, a scowl of disgust on her features and eyes flashing with hot fire.
"I'm fine Gabrielle, nothing I couldn't handle, but thanks for the assist." She smiles so sweetly at the smaller woman it makes me want to vomit. Eve runs up now, a small towel covering her own drenched form. She also has a special glare reserved for me as she comes closer.
"Mother, what is HE doing here? I knew Gabrielle saw something going on over here when she ran out - I just didn't know what kind of vermin we were dealing with."
I sneer at her.
"We were having a short conversation. Very short. And he's leaving now."
What else can I do? I pick myself up and try to show some dignity as I stalk off into the woods. I can feel their eyes fixed on my back with hate and disgust. My chance lost again.
Night falls soon after, and I make camp. I've treated my cuts with some salve and settle in for the night. The sounds of the forest are unfamiliar and bothersome, even after nearly a month of getting used to it. I feel wretched, disheveled…humiliated. My heart is sick with the thought that they will be making love tonight. That Xena will be screaming her name in ecstasy instead of mine. I want to plot revenge, the flames of the fire by my bedroll feeding my wrath. But I know I've lost. Too many mistakes. It's hopeless.
For the first time in my life, I cry.
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