Disclaimer: I don't own Xena, Ares, Eve, Gab, or any of the rest.... c'mon, people, d'you really think I do?
Violence: Two people die... but it's not a messy death. It's no worse than the second-last scene of Motherhood (which is what this is modelled on).
Sex: Nope.
Subtext: Yeah. I write subtext. And post it on shipper sites... not. *grin* Gab isn't even conscious in the beginning of this- and she only gets a few brief mentions. Almost like she's not there...
Rating: PG.
Summary: A slightly different song-fic take on the end of Motherhood- mush. (But there is a plot in there somewhere!) Do not read if you're in a happy mood.
Dedication: This is dedicated to Kevin Smith, who sadly passed away on February 16th 2002. We miss you, Kevin.

You Don't Know What Love Is

By XenaAmber (xenaiscool@hotmail.com)

"You healed them without my blessing! That's impossible!"

"I gave up my immortality to save them," Ares' voice echoed around the destroyed Hall of Olympus where he had just witnessed an immense battle between Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, his sister and myself... his love.

"What?" The fallen Goddess spluttered.

What indeed? My ability to kill gods lasted only as long as my daughter lived. And Eve was not looking so good.

I'm sorry- but I've got a thing for her," he replied, his voice calm. As for me, I was... stunned. He was for real. I could see it all to clearly now- the sweat on his newly mortal face, the slight frown, a look on his face I had never seen before... fear. All those times I had insisted- both to him and to myself- that it was some new game of his... it wasn't. I just stood there, staring at him until a movement from the corner that Eve and Gabrielle were now sitting up in distracted me and I ran to embrace them.

"Ares, you idiot. Your immortality is your life force. You can't survive without it, not unless I'm alive. Otherwise, you die..." As I released Eve, I turned at Athena's words just in time to see the Goddess' hand go limp. It was too late. Even as she let out her final breath, I saw Ares collapse to the ground. No. The joy I had felt a second ago was now a deep, chilling fear. I forgot all about my daughter and went straight to him, crouching down and lifting his head towards me.

"Guess this is it..." He mustered a smile; even as he felt the blood stilling in his veins, he couldn't help but put a brave face on things.

"Ares... thank you." Way to go, Xena- nice choice of words there. Suddenly, there was so much to say and so little time to say it in. I had no words left.

"Xena, I did love you. Always remember that- me." I could barely hear him, he spoke so softly, in deference to Death or so that Eve and Gabriele didn't hear, I don't know. I had to lower my head even closer to him to hear, but the next thing I knew, my lips were on his, in a moment of oneness, beauty that I will remember until I too die.

But all too soon his lips stilled and that hand that had found its way into mine went limp. Lifting my head is reflex, I saw him flop backward, lifeless and still. I blinked several times, forcing back my tears as I saw the look of contentment on his face, the joy of pure joy.

That was all he wanted... me. Through all of the games, the manipulations, the lies, those times he told me he loved me- whether he said the words or not- and now this final, desperate sacrifice so that my family and I could live. And that one kiss had made him happy.

Now, the tears came. I couldn't- wouldn't- stop them.

Last night I saw you, as I stood in the rain,
Brought me right back, to that feeling again,
I tried to hide the tears in my eyes,
But you didn't see, as you walked on by...

Last night (I assumed it was morning now) you said it. Told me you loved me. Granted, you were there as a distraction, but... the rain hid the tears in my eyes from you, an injured Eve and half the Olympians.

Tried to forget you, I tried to move on,
But the deeper I feel it, the harder I fall,
Nothing else matters at all, let me tell you...

Oh yeah. I tried to forget... but I never could. And the only thing that matters is that you died for me.

You don't what love is 'till you lose it,
You don't know what love is 'till it slips away,
Leaves you alone in the dark,
Takes you and tears you apart
You don't know what love is 'till it breaks your heart...

I took it for granted that you'd always be there, always with a smart-ass reply, that grin. I took it for granted you'd always be following me. Irritating, yes, but flattering. Always the charmer.

Sometimes I think back, when our love was new,
The crazy things that we used to do,
How could a love that's so right, turn to something so wrong?
I still can't believe that you're really gone...

Back when I first met you... we were pretty wild. But it was... good. We're too similar, you and I. That's what the problem is- was.

I wish I could stop all these thoughts in my head,
I wish I could take back those words that I said,
It's a lesson I'll never forget, let me tell you...

All these silly arguments. You think they're important, but I wish I could take them back. But I don't want to stop thinking about you...

You don't what love is 'till you lose it,
You don't know what love is 'till it slips away,
Leaves you alone in the dark,
Takes you and tears you apart
You don't know what love is 'till it breaks your heart...

Why do we love? Some cruel game the Fates play on us (is they're still alive, that is)? Or is it just mankind's path to our own self-destruction?
But then, if it is, why does is feel so damn good?

Love has no season, no beginning or end,
No rhyme or reason to the way the story ends,
No way of knowing how a broken heart mends,
Still we keep falling, time and time again...

How is it that just as I get the courage to admit that I feel something- much more than something- for you, you go and die on me? Just ten minutes ago, you were immortal and well and now... I'll never be able to tell you.

You don't what love is 'till you lose it,
You don't know what love is 'till it slips away,
Leaves you alone in the dark,
Takes you and tears you apart
You don't know what love is 'till it breaks your heart...

Oh, Ares... how ironic that just as a new age of love is dawning, War is killed by that same force. Fitting. Gods, but I wish you were still here...

'Till it breaks your heart...


Notes: This was inspired by reading on MaryD's Shipper Heaven site that the original plan for the end of Season 5 was to have Ares DIE at the end of Motherhood, not just become mortal... and as he dies, Xena "gives him a loving kiss". So... Amber got the fic bug. I seriously could picture this so well when I wrote it, and the image has been stuck in my mind ever since. The song I used is called "You Don't Know What Love Is" by Jessica Simpson... which I LOVE. I am not crazy about her, but I adore the song... give it a listen if you get chance.