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This story contains explicit descriptions of male/female sexual relations.
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I'll kill him, that's what I'll do. As soon as I find him his ass is mine.
The thought traveled through Gabrielle's mind as she climbed over a broken marble pillar. For the past two hours she had been searching for her younger brother Peter, scrambling through underbrush and brambles. Now she stood, her summer dress torn, legs scratched, and basically pissed off.
I'm in Greece! she thought as she settled onto the pillar, carefully avoiding the broken edges. I'm eighteen, in a foreign country, and I'm stuck babysitting my brother. Why the hell is life so unfair to me?
"Peter, when I find you, I'm going to lock you in a closet until Mom and Dad get back from Delphi!" She screamed, the sound echoing through the shallow valley.
For two days she and her brother had been alone, their parents deciding to leave them and travel to Delphi alone. Instead of sitting on the nearby beach and flirting with everything in swim trunks, Gabrielle was stuck looking out for her pain-in-the-ass brother.
"That's it! If you want to stay out here all day, that's you! I'm heading back to the villa!" With that and a toss of her blonde head, Gabrielle began to rise from her perch. The gravel beneath her gave way, and she fell hard on the pillar, slicing her thigh in the process.
Great! Now how in the fuck am I supposed to get out of here? Gabrielle cursed mentally as she felt along the jagged cut, the blood flowing freely down her leg.
"Need help?" A deep, and amused voice asked behind her.
Startled, she tried to turn, but the gravel and her injury worked against her, and Gabrielle felt herself begin to fall. An otherwise perfect ending to an already fucked up day, she thought as she braced herself to hit the ground.
Instead she fell against a very hard, very muscular chest.
Stunned, Gabrielle allowed herself to remain in the warm embrace of her savior, feeling his strong arms around her. Home. The word rose unbidden in her thoughts as a familiar smell of leather and male engulfed her senses. Familiar?
"Are you all right?" the words rumbled deep in the man's chest, bringing her out of the daze she found herself in.
"T-thank you," she stammered, attempting to balance her weight on her good leg and push away from the stranger. Expecting to be released, she was surprised when the arms tightened.
"You can't stand on your own, so don't try," he answered in response to her frightened glance.
It was that glance that made Gabrielle hold her breath. Perfect. The phrase fit him. Slowly she took in the deep brown eyes, the high cheekbones, mustache and straight nose. Everything about his face was perfect. And everything about his body, if I can judge from what I'm feeling, she thought, tightening the arms that were flung around his waist.
"Can I take a look?" the stranger asked, his eyes wide and concerned.
"Uh, sure," Gabrielle answered, feeling the blood from her cut making a slow path down her leg. Before she could say another word she found the man kneeling behind her, felt his hands travel up her leg, lifting the short dress so he could examine the wound.
"Hey, damn it!" she yelped as she felt him pressing the flesh around the wound.
"It's not too serious," he answered. She heard a tearing sound and felt a piece of cloth being wrapped tight around her thigh. "This should last until we can get you home. Where do you live?"
Dazed by the feel of his hands resting against her leg, Gabrielle almost didn't hear his question. "At the top of the hill. The villa," she answered, turning her head slightly to look down. It was at that moment, looking into his eyes, that several things snapped into place. Firstly, there was an unknown man kneeling behind her with his hands on her leg, without his shirt, and they were both speaking English.
"Are you from around here?" she asked as the man rose to his feet, swallowing when she realized that she barely reached his chin.
"Originally," he answered as she swung her into his arms. "Calm down, how do you expect to get home if you can't walk?" he laughed when she started struggling. "Much better," he added when she ceased. "I grew up around here until I was twelve, then my parents moved back to California."
Gabrielle barely heard anything, so absorbed was she in the feel of his arms holding her. The sense of familiarity came back full force. The soft hair of his chest rubbed against her torso, creating a friction that was maddening through the thin silk of her dress.
"We're from Los Angeles," she said when he stopped, noticing how he carried her though the rough terrain without breaking a sweat. I wonder what it would take to get him to sweat.
The rumble of his laughter went through her, leaving her feeling giddy. "Visiting relatives? Or touring?" he asked.
"Living, actually," Gabby answered, smiling. "We just moved here."
"I hope you enjoy the country, it's beautiful."
So I'm learning.
"Here you go," the man said as he set her down at the door of the villa, letting her drag down his body before releasing her. "Have someone look at that leg. Wounds and hot weather don't work well." Then sighing, the man turned his head slightly. "I guess I'll see you around," he said before starting down the path.
"Wait!" the panic that seized Gabby almost made her heart stop. "I don't even know your name!"
"Aran," he answered, bowing slightly. "Until we meet again, Gabrielle." And with that he started walking.
For a long moment Gabby stared after him, taking in the sight of him walking away in tight blue jeans, the sun almost caressing his bronzed skin. If only they made them like that at home, she thought wistfully.
When Aran was no longer in view Gabby turned and opened the door, feeling a rush of cool air from the interior. When did I tell him my name? she thought...
Ares watched as the maid attended to the cut on Gabrielle's leg later that night. After all these years, he had finally found her. Licking his lips, he watched as the woman left and Gabrielle began to undress for a shower, his eyes darkening as he took in her body. Over a thousand years and she's hardly changed, he thought. In fact, the only change he'd noted was that her green eyes were now a dark, vibrant blue.
"Stop drooling Bro, and just jump the girl," a high voice said from behind him.
Turning, Ares watched as Aphrodite materialized in a tight black dress that revealed more than it hid.
"Hasn't anyone ever told you that the thrill is in the chase?" he asked, knowing that his sister never chased anyone. Or had to be chased, he added with a smirk.
"I heard that!"
"What do you want 'Dite?" Ares growled, sending a shiver up Aphrodite's spine.
Smiling, she patted the god on the shoulder. "Just checking on you. I haven't felt emotions like these coming from you in so long, I was worried. I see you've found your little blonde." Smiling, she watched as Gabrielle shed her underwear and turned on the shower. "I wonder if she still tastes like strawberries," she mused, licking her lips.
Ares growled again. He'd never forgiven his sister for snatching Gabby when he wasn't looking and having a 'girl talk' session with her. One that had nothing to do with talking.
"Calm down, no need to play the 'Big Bad God of War' with me," she laughed, holding up her hands. "I thought we had the policy of share and share alike. I let you have Joxer, remember?" 'Dite pouted, crossing her arms over her straining breasts.
Ares grinned at the memory. It was the one time he was able to get Gabby and Jox together, and his vision blurred at the memory of that night.
'Dite smiled. "I see I've got your attention. But I'll leave your little plaything alone, for now. I wonder if this means that Xena and Joxer are back? Later Bro," she said, disappearing in a flash of pink.
Some people never change, he thought, once again turning his thoughts to Gabrielle. He watched mesmerized as she began to soap up, remembering the baths they'd shared. Physically, she was the same old Gabby, but mentally he felt the differences. This Gabrielle had known none of the hardships that traveling with Xena had brought. In fact, this Gabrielle was still a virgin, something he planned to change in the near future. The young woman he saw before him knew nothing of real hardship, had never experienced a war or lost someone close to her, and yet she had the same spirit as that of his beloved.
Smiling to himself, he recalled her thoughts at the temple ruins. Her reaction to him was all that he could have hoped for and more. Silently he thanked the fates for bringing them together. If not for her blood spilling on the foundations of his temple, he would never have known she was there.
Turning, Ares smiled to himself, thinking of the dreams he would give her. He had lost her once, he didn't plan on losing her again, and this would just be the beginning.
The smell of incense and wax invaded her senses, the feel of cool silk sliding against her back contrasting with the warm hands running down her body. Dazed, Gabby kept her eyes closed, glorying in the moment. Warm, moist lips left a trail of fire down her neck. Reaching for her partner, she discovered that her hands were tied to the bed with cloth.
"Not yet," he said, answering her moan of frustration.
The sensations continued, the feel of a warm mouth closing over a nipple, of soft body hair rubbing against her already sensitized flesh, the gentle hands that scorched paths of desire across her body. Finally, the feel of those lips on her own, teasing her, remaining a hairsbreadth away from her own before plunging in, a warm tongue finding hers.
If this is a dream I don't ever want to wake up, she thought as a large, hard body settled on top of her.
"But you will," the man answered, before sucking and biting at the flesh between her neck and shoulder.
I don't want... don't want, but thoughts were becoming harder to hold on to as he continued, never letting up, moving slowly over her, surrounding her with his scent.
"Patience, little one," he answered, ceasing his nibbling. "Open your eyes."
Reluctantly, she did so, knowing she would see no one there, or else a blur, something that had no real face or form. Instead, she looked into deep brown eyes glowing with passion...
It was the only word that came close to what she was feeling, but just barely. With a growl she searched the room for the voice that had interrupted one of the best wet-dreams she had ever had... and saw her brother. "What the hell do you want?" she asked, glancing around to see if there was anything heavy enough to throw at him close at hand.
Peter, with all the gumption a twelve year old could muster when faced with the anger of an older sibling without the backing of adults squeaked "Breakfast," then turned and ran, slamming the door behind him.
Gabrielle groaned and fell against the pillows that were piled behind her, closing her eyes and desperately trying to recall the dream, but it was no use. Whatever sprite delivered the dream was not coming back. With a sound of barely restrained fury, Gabby untangled herself from the sweat-soaked sheets. The movement brought a swift but subtle fragrance from the bed, the smell of him.
"I really need to get laid," she thought, rising from the bed and moving to the bathroom. "Now I'm hallucinating."
Ares stood at the foot of the bed, watching with eyes that still held the flames of desire. He cursed her brother, a few more moments was all he had needed. Closing his eyes, he allowed the vivid scene to wash over him, the large bed, silk sheets, incense and candles were all elements that were taken from her mind of what a seduction would be like. As were the restraints. Ares smiled to himself as he thought of the elaborate ties that had restrained her in the dream. "I would never have thought of you as being into bondage," he said as she disappeared into the tiled bathroom. He would definitely have to remember that when the time was right.
The sudden flash of light announced the arrival of another god.
"What now Dite?" he asked as he turned, and stood face to face with his son.
Cupid stood wearing red swim trunks and nothing else. "She was right, you have found her." The grin he wore gave Ares the desire to rip his son's wings off one feather at a time.
"Yes I have," he answered, his smile predatory. "And if you don't want to spend the next few centuries with your uncle in Tartarus, I suggest you tell you mother to mind her own damned business."
"Sure Dad, whatever you say," Cupid turned, starting across the wood floor. "One more thing," he added turning back, then pausing.
Ares, who had stood watching him, turned to see what had caught his attention. What he saw was a naked and glistening Gabrielle emerging from the bathroom.
"Cupid," Ares began, his eyes boring a hole through the younger god's chest.
"Okay, Okay, I'm going. Chill out." With that the winged god vanished in a shower of gold.
Sighing in frustration, Ares turned his dark eyes to the young woman who walked around the room, oblivious to his presence. I'll have you again, he whispered, sending the thought in a current that swept through the room, lifting Gabby's head. It's only a matter of time.
Two days later Gabby sat in the warm sand of the beach, letting the cool water wash over her feet. Two frustrating days stuck with a little brother, a cook who couldn't understand that she was allergic to almonds, and a maid that did almost nothing now that her parents were gone.
Where the hell are they, anyway? she thought, shivering as the water swirled beneath her, teasing the edges of her swimsuit. Last night she had received a call from her parents, saying they would return home soon. Like that really says a lot, she thought, pulling the wide brimmed straw hat she wore lower over her eyes. The late June heat rolled over her, caressing her skin, which was gradually changing from cream to burnished gold.
Sighing, Gabby laid flat, allowing the sun to wash over her, and pulled her hat over her eyes. The light filtered through the cracks, making pink and orange slashes across her lids. The heat reminded her of another caress, and she found herself drifting in the memory of a dream that seemed too real.
I wonder who I was fantasizing about this time, she thought. Usually they consisted of models or someone she saw on TV, but that was wrong. She recalled the eyes that had looked so deeply into hers and remembered where she had seen them before. Aran.
"I hope you're thinking about me."
Startled, Gabby jumped up, ripping her hat off and staring into the eyes she knew, and which seemed to know her too well. "And if I was?" she asked, the challenge clear in her voice. It was then that she looked down, and noticed that he only wore a pair of brief swim trunks. The sight of all that golden, toned skin made her swallow.
Her only answer was a deep chuckle that sent shivers through her body.
"Do you really want to find out?" Aran asked, moving closer, crowding her against one of the many tree's that lined the sand.
Gabrielle felt her back come up against the rough bark of a palm, halting her retreat. Then she saw nothing as Aran's dark head bent down and nibbled at her lips. The first touch was teasing, a breath traveling over her lips. Then he descended, and she found herself caught in a whirlwind that picked her up and tossed her into the storm.
Ares almost cried out in triumph as he felt her arms close around him, drawing him closer. It had been far too long since he had held her like this, and he felt his control slipping as a foot massaged its way along his calf. Goaded by her passion, he pushed her harder against the palm, his hands roving down her back and grabbing her buttocks, then lifting her against him.
The sudden sensation of weightlessness brought a gasp from Gabrielle. Instinctively, she wrapped her legs around Aran's waist. The feel of his length pressing against her with only a thin scrap of nylon separating them forced a groan from her. That, coupled with the feel of Aran biting a path down her neck was almost too much to bear.
When Ares felt her legs wrap around him he almost lost what little semblance of control he had left. It took all his strength to resist lowering her to the sand and taking her before she could voice any protest. But this was not what he had planned for their first coupling. He wanted to make her fantasy reality, and it was that thought if anything that gave him the strength to let go. There would be time for the beach later.
Gabrielle felt his withdrawal before he released her. Desperately, she clutched at his hair, trying to drag his lips back to hers before he ended it. But it was no use. Gently, and slightly unsteadily, she felt herself lifted away and lowered. Her legs however refused to cooperate, and she found herself leaning against the palm.
For a long moment the only sound to be heard was that of their heavy breathing and the crash of the surf.
"Not yet, my sweet," Ares whispered, tracing a line from her lips to her breasts, watching as her eyes closed and she leaned into the caress. Then, before he could lose what control he had left, he turned and started down the beach.
Gabby heard his soft footfalls and forced her eyes to open. He was so real, so...so... But there were no words that could describe it.
It's just like him to leave me when I'm damn near simmering, she thought, picking up the sun hat which had been knocked off in their embrace. The thought, coupled with the sense of familiarity that clung to him, made Gabrielle stop. For a moment a scene flashed before her eyes: a waterfall, irises, then nothing. Shaking her head, she started towards the water, knowing she would need something much colder to cool her desire.
"So what bug's up your butt?" Peter asked at dinner that night.
After Aran left her, Gabrielle had been absorbed in her thoughts. The foremost of which being why she seemed to know him, and how he seemed to know her so well. She could have sworn she had seen his face before that day in the ruins, but when she tried to focus on it, there was only a whisper of a memory there.
"Nothing, squirt," Gabby sighed, picking at the pasta on her plate. "Just wondering when our parents are going to remember that they have children."
Peter grumbled something unintelligible, then settled into his food. Deciding she had pretended to eat long enough, Gabby pushed away from the table and headed to her room.
"What! What do you mean you're going home?" The shout rang through the villa, startling Peter as he came racing through the door to the study.
"It's all right dear," Gabrielle's father soothed, trying to calm his frantic daughter. "The company has called us back to the States for two weeks at the maximum. Something's happened that can't be avoided."
Gabby stood, at a complete loss for words. Her parents returned in the middle of the night, only to announce that they were returning to the States. Something inside her cracked. They can't take me away from him, she thought.
Noticing Gabrielle's frantic look, her father's expression softened. "If you want to stay here, you can, sweet. They only need Mom and me at the company, remember? We're the ones who work for them, not you and your brother."
"But I want to go home!" Peter cried, launching himself at his father. "You won't leave me here, will you?" he asked, looking at his father expectantly.
"No, I won't, if you want to go home with us, but it's only for two weeks, then we're coming back here."
A loud sigh escaped Gabby as she settled onto the couch. She didn't have to leave after all. The relief that washed through her was overwhelming. Two weeks without her parents or little brother to aggravate her. Two weeks to do some serious studying of Greek, so she could understand the people in the small village near them. And two weeks to find Aran, she added, licking her lips.
The next day Gabby watched as the rented car took off down the road, carrying her family to the airport, and out of her hair. Two weeks. It was almost too good to be true. Gabby had to resist the urge to start spinning when the car was completely out of sight. Now all she had to do was find out where Aran was, and what he really wanted.
At the thought of Aran some of her enthusiasm left as a headache which had been teetering at the edge of her mind flamed into life. Better be careful, she thought as she headed into the villa, Don't want to burst a blood vessel.
Unsteadily, Gabrielle made her way to her room and dropped onto the bed. With the pain had come dizziness, and the combination was overpowering. Closing her eyes, Gabby sought out relief in sleep.
"What do you think you're doing?" a voice asked behind her.
In her dream Gabby stopped, but could not face the voice as strong arms wrapped around her from behind. Ares. The name breezed through her mind, along with memories of another life, another time...
Desperately, Gabby attempted to move, speak, do anything as a hundred memories flooded through her. A warrior woman... a husband...hate ...betrayal... a lifetime flashed through her in what seemed to be an instant. And through it all there was one thing that was constant, a beacon helping to guide her. At first all she could see were eyes, dark and piercing, first filled with loathing, then with love...compassion...
Then they stopped, and she found herself in the arms once more, feeling the hands gently trace along her arms, leaving trails of fire along her skin.
"It's been a long time," the man said.
"I couldn't get away before today, and I doubt Xena would have enjoyed that kind of show," she answered. Xena? who the hell was Xena? Gabby thought.
The man behind her laughed, and the sound vibrated through her body. "You don't know her too well then," he answered, warm lips seeking the nape of her neck. "If there's one thing she loves to do, it's watch."
Gabby ignored the byplay between the two people. Okay Gab, you've had dreams like this before, its just an overactive imagination. Take a look around and you'll probably find yourself in the middle of anatomy class without any clothes on.
With that calming thought Gabrielle opened her eyes and looked around. She definitely was not in an ordinary dream. A river ran beside her, the sunlight flashing on the small waves. Huge trees moved in the slight breeze, and a warm sun beat down, casting shadows in the leaves. You're definitely not in Kansas anymore, she thought.
"So when do we tell her?" The woman asked, reaching behind her to bury her hands in long hair.
"Whenever you're ready," the man answered. Ares, Gabby thought, His name is Ares.
Gabrielle woke with a start, several things coming into focus at once. The sun, which had barely been above the horizon when she laid down, was now sinking in the west through the large bay windows of her room. She was no longer wearing the light robe she'd thrown on to see her family off, and something soft was pressing into her hip.
I can't believe I slept all day, Gabby thought, trying to find the bothersome object in the growing gloom. Then her hands found it, and turning on the beside lamp, she saw the object, or objects as the case turned out to be.
In her hands she held a bouquet of irises, their soft purple blooms dusted with liquid. Tied to the flowers was a sealed card. With shaking fingers, Gabrielle opened it, knowing who it was from.
"The time is right," the card read, "If you want to meet, meet me in the ruins at eleven. Aran."
Gabrielle looked at the clock, Seven, she thought as she climbed out of bed, heading for the bathroom. She would be there.
Ares watched, overjoyed, as Gabrielle took pains with her dress. The dreams she'd had were only an echo of their time together, before Fate had torn them apart. Damn those three bitches to Tartarus anyway, he thought, reliving the events that had changed her life, and his own, so drastically...
A warm body was pressed against his own, short, soft hair brushing his chest. Smiling, Ares left a gentle kiss on his beloved's forehead. For two years they had been stealing moments like this one, moments when both of them felt peace. Two years hiding their love from others, of trying to keep what they had between them strong. Ares grinned as the thought of their first night together, Gabrielle's shy inquisitiveness which had become unbridled passion before they were too exhausted to continue without sleep. The perfection of that night still had the power to arouse him, which it was rapidly doing.
"Too tired," Gabrielle mumbled as she felt his rising desire pressing against her thigh. "Need sleep."
Even as she said these words she brought her knee up into his groin, brushing his arousal with it.
"Tease!" he'd cried, turning her over, trapping her under his large body. He enjoyed these moments even more, when he could abandon his grim nature and behave like the child he wished he still was.
Trapped beneath his large body, Gabrielle ceased to struggle, throwing her arms over her head and grabbing the wooden headboard. "Too tired to fight," she laughed, the sound half smothered in a yawn.
Ares laughed at the woman who lay beneath him, wondering as he always did how the two of them had fallen for each other. For years he had chased Xena, blinded by what he had felt for her, never noticing the young woman whom she had taken under his wing. Then, when they had finally found one another, he wondered how he could have ignored her for so long.
In the middle of that thought he flexed his spine and entered her, feeling her warm heat surround him. He watched entranced as she closed her eyes, lifting her hips to meet him. Slowly the dance began, each moving gently, savoring the feelings, until there was no room for restraint between them. Ares felt himself beginning to lose control, closing his eyes he buried his face in the curve of her neck, sucking on the flesh there, leaving bruises in his wake.
Damn, Ares thought, increasing his speed. He hated leaving Gabrielle when she was obviously so close to completion, her hands pulling his mouth to hers, her legs wrapped around his waist...
Sighing, Ares stopped, drawing an agonized and angered groan from his love. "What is it?" she panted, her hips still moving slightly.
Ares ignored the temptation and disengaged himself. "Dad," he whispered, leaving a soft kiss on her lips before rising from the silk sheets of his bed.
Gabrielle nodded, and rising herself, headed to the tub that always held hot water. Smirking to himself, he waited until she had submerged then turned the water ice cold.
"Ares!" Gabrielle cried, scrambling from the chill water.
"That's for thinking of finishing without me," he said, before disappearing in a flash of light. It was the last time he would see her alive.
"Yes, Father," Ares said, bowing slightly as he stood before Zeus in the main hall of Olympus.
Zeus, who could never be accused of tip-toeing around an issue, came straight to the point. "Your relationship with this woman troubles me greatly, Son."
Ares shifted warily. His father rarely lowered himself to acknowledge his first born unless the matter was grave. "Xena?" Ares asked, hoping that was whom Zeus was speaking. It was common knowledge that Ares was obsessed with the warrior woman, but only he and another knew that his seeming obsession was a cover to keep his relationship with Gabrielle a secret.
Now Zeus turned to his eldest, anger clouding his features. "You know of whom I speak," was all he said.
Ares lowered his eyes now. Somehow their secret was known, and he knew there would be much to pay for. Getting involved with a human was forbidden to the Olympians.
Everyone but dear old dad, Ares thought, a picture of his half brother entering his mind. To 'see' them as his father called it, was bad enough, but to actively sustain a relationship...
"I see you understand the nature of the summons now," Zeus sighed, coming to stand before his son.
Ares lowered his eyes, wondering what his punishment would be. "Yes Zeus," he answered, his voice low.
Ares looked up when he felt a heavy hand rest on his shoulder. The look in his father's eyes made his blood run cold. It was then that he felt it, a slight mistiming in the flow of space, something that he had overlooked. A time loop, he thought, how long have I been here?
"Father, what have you done?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
"A debt was called, and I had to answer it," Zeus began, but by then, Ares was gone.
"I'm sorry," he said to the empty chamber. It was then that he felt the cry, and it tore his heart.
"Gabrielle?!" Ares called, flashing into the small house he kept in northern Greece, the place where he and Gabrielle went to escape. Desperately, he tried to reach her, searching for her life string, a trace of her energy, anything that would tell him she was alright. But he felt nothing.
By the fates no, he thought, frantically moving from room to room, anger and fear waging a battle within him. Please, let her be alright, let her be alright, letherbealrig-
He found her in their bedroom, a small pale form on the bed. She was lying down, the sheets drawn up to her chin. The smell of blood hung in the air.
"Gabrielle?" Ares whispered, sitting down. It was then that he felt the wetness seep into his leathers. Her skin, which was usually a golden brown, was pale, and he knew if he touched her, that the heat of her life would be gone.
"No," he said, refusing to believe what was before him. She's alright, he thought. She's just asleep. She has to be asleep.
"NO!" The cry was torn from deep within the war god as he gathered the body of his beloved into his arms. He knew the moment he touched her. Stomach wound. She had died in pain, and he hadn't felt it, hadn't been able to protect her. "No," he said again, his voice a broken whisper as tears fell freely from him. Slowly he rocked back and forth, cradling the body of his love in his arms. It was the first time he had cried, and he vowed to himself, it would be the last. Oblivious to the passing of time, he sat until a slight shift in the room announced the presence of another god.
"Leave me," he said, his voice flat. "Leave us."
"I'm so sorry, Arry," Aphrodite said, her voice gentle, as she laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, which was shrugged off. "I could feel your heart breaking from Germania."
Ares didn't hear her, all he heard was the promise he had made to her after their first night together, I will never let anything hurt you again...
"Who did this?" he asked, lifting red, puffy eyes to his sister, unaware of the pain she saw there, and uncaring.
Dite' only shook her head. "I don't know sweetie," she answered. "I wish I did."
Ares looked down, gently stroking the face that had smiled so often at him, something that no one else had done. "Will you help me bury her?" he asked, not looking at his sister.
Silently, Dite nodded. They both knew petitioning Hades for her soul would do no good. As an Amazon, Gabrielle went to the Forest House, the Amazon afterworld, and there was no bargaining with Alta, the Keeper of the Dead.
With a flash of golden light, the two disappeared, carrying Gabrielle's body to her final resting place.
Ares recalled the aftermath of that day. He had told Xena, and allowed her to vent her anger on him, hitting, screaming. She didn't know, could never understand, that her words, her accusations, could never cut as deeply as his own. At her bidding, he did show her where he had buried her, a small hill overlooking the land that was her right as an Amazon Queen. He'd left her there to say her goodbyes, allowing himself to sink into a despair that no one had been able to penetrate. For two thousand years, he had remained in that seeming stasis, as time passed and peoples disappeared. Cities had sprung up where small villages once stood, but the grave of his beloved still stood, the land around it undisturbed, thanks to his intervention. The area had been brought from the Dolge in the tenth century, and since then had passed from name to name, until in the early 1920's Ares decided to give it to the state as a wild preserve on the condition that it never be reduced or sold. The forest and the hill stood as silent watchers, remnants of a past that would never come again.
Ares awakened from his thoughts to an empty room. Shaking off the last tinges of remembrance, he willed himself to the ruins, mentally checking the path, making sure that everything would be perfect so that Gabrielle could find her way to him without incident. As an afterthought, he willed torches to line the path leading to the remains of his temple and waited, anticipation tightening his muscles. She's finally mine again, he thought as he waited, And I never plan on letting her go again.
Gabrielle walked carefully along the winding path from the villa to the old ruins. She'd been surprised when her family had discovered them on their first day at their new home. The local authorities allowed them to pass on to whoever owned the property, since there were no real buildings left, only support columns, none of which were over three feet high.
As Gabby walked to their meeting place she mused on the dream she had had, wondering what it meant. Her friends would call it a 'past life regression,' but she barely believed in things like that. The only thing that nagged at her was the sense that she had really been there, that it was more of a memory than of a dream. Pushing aside the thought, she stopped as she noticed the small flames lining the path as she reached the edge of the ruins. He certainly can be romantic, she thought as she followed them to her lover. On the end of that thought, so faint she did not hear it, was another: Just like he used to be.
Ares let out a breath he didn't know he had been holding as he caught sight of Gabrielle on the shallow trail leading into the ruins. The town that had once stood there held him in high regard, placing his temple in the center of the small village. The torchlight turned the fine material of Gabrielle's gown into a shower of gold that whispered over her form from neck to ankle. The swirling silk hinted at what lay beneath, caressing her for an instant with every move. The modesty of the gown pierced something in Ares heart that had long ago been frozen, and served to enflame his ardor even more. A faint scent rose from her, drifting from her hair, which she had kept unbound, tumbling in waves down her back. Irises, he thought, a small smile playing on his lips. The flowers had been Gabrielle's favorite, and his own.
Gabrielle's heart missed a beat when she caught sight of Aran, his body thrown into relief from the small torches. He wore snug fitting black slacks that did little to hide the power she knew he held, and a black silk shirt that glittered in the half light. Gabby took in all of him, drinking in the sight of him, knowing she would never be able to get enough of him. Self-consciously she smoothed the dress she wore, knowing it would do nothing. She had chosen the gown because of the way it moved over her, teasing without really teasing. She hoped he appreciated it, even though deep inside she knew he did.
For long moments they stood watching each other, content to look at each other, to take in the fullness of one another. It was Ares who spoke first.
"Are you ready, my pet?" he asked quietly, moving to stand mere inches away from her.
Even with him this close, Gabby knew no fear, despite the fact that this man was practically a stranger. Somehow she knew that he would never hurt her, and that he would allow nothing to hurt her so long as he was near. Silently, she nodded, her hand coming up to trace the contours of Aran's face.
That silent gesture echoed one that he remembered from millennia ago, nearly bringing Ares to tears. The fact that she didn't flinch from him made his heart sore, and he reached out for her hand.
Gabrielle hesitated only slightly before taking the hand that was offered to her, allowing herself to be lead to the center of one of the ruins. She watched as Aran moved what appeared to be nothing more than another pillar, and gasped as a section of the stone floor moved, revealing a stairway leading into the earth.
Without a word the two continued, Gabrielle slowing slightly to look at the paintings that adorned the walls, depicting glades, nymphs and satyrs cavorting in clear waters. The untouched beauty of the wall moved her to tears.
It wasn't until a hand touched her face that Gabrielle realized that they had stopped. She found herself in a room that seemed to leap from her fantasies. A fire roared on an old hearth, giving little warmth, but bathing the room in golden light. Pillows and cushions of black and red were piled upon a dais, which was surrounded by platters of fruit. A decanter of liquid stood nearby, and the stone walls were covered with materials that shimmered in the light.
Stunned, Gabrielle turned to Aran. "How did...?"
The smile that he turned on her was blinding. "I wanted this to happen in the place where we first met. I found this place the day after I met you." Moving closer, so that he stood pressed against her, he added, "It's amazing what can be done when you have incentive."
Then his lips met hers. Soft, insistent, the teased, then dived, his tongue making sweeping forays into her mouth, teasing her tongue into journeying into his. The feeling was heady for them both, and Ares moved Gabrielle back until the back of her knees hit the stone of the dais. Gently he bent her back until she was lying down, then pushed her until she was in the middle of the many cushions. Ares stood then, and began to remove his clothes slowly, his eyes never leaving her face.
Gabrielle lay in silence, watching her lover unrobe. The silk slid from his broad shoulders to pool behind him, revealing the bronze chest that she remembered from the beach. Entranced, she watched as the rest of his clothes fell away, and she saw him in all his glory. Slowly, she traced his body, watching as his muscles tensed when she focused on him. The action gave her a sense of power. Her eyes moved from his face to his sculpted chest, flat stomach, and lean hips. When she saw his manhood, she experienced a moment of fear. She had necked with some of her boyfriends, but she had never seen a man's naked desire. His size frightened her, half remembered whispers from her friends about the pain.
"Don't worry," Aran said, moving slowly towards the bed, "I'll never hurt you."
Gabrielle watched as he walked, then began to crawl across the pillows like a jungle cat, slow, methodical. She realized that even now, at this late moment, he was giving her time to reject him, to run, and the thought filled her with love. Love. It was the word that had teased at her conscience since meeting this man, something that she had shied from. She loved him, and she knew she would love him no matter what happened between them. Gabrielle said nothing, she only reached for him when he neared her, drawing him down into a kiss that said more than words ever could.
Ares' heart soared at that moment. Gently, he continued to kiss her as his hands sought out the buttons of her dress, his fingers moving feather soft over her skin. Then the gown was no longer a barrier, only a golden flash floating to the floor. For a moment he looked down at her, taking in a sight he had never hoped to see again. Her skin was flushed pink, the firelight casting a golden sheen on her pale skin. He smiled then, an expression of such tenderness that Gabby almost cried at the sight of it. That smile said everything she needed to know: He loved her just as she loved him.
Slowly, Ares began to trace small circles over his lover, drawing lines from her neck to her chest, circling her breasts, never touching the nipple. Shocked by this intimacy, Gabby tensed, unsure of what to do. A look from him said enough, and she willed her muscles to relax, closing her eyes, feeling his hands continue their exploration over her, tracing her stomach, hitting the spot that made her yelp. The gentle caress tightened her stomach as he moved lower, then relax as he moved to her legs, his fingers drawing long lines over her thighs.
Gabby started slightly when she felt herself being lifted, then settled on her stomach. Gentle hands lifted her hands, drawing them over her head. She felt her long hair being settled over her shoulder, revealing the pale line of her back. Then she felt the hands again, tracing the contours of her, as if he wished to memorize every inch of her. The sensual foreplay was driving her crazy, and her muscles began to tense of their own accord.
Ares was in Elysium. He enjoyed the satin soft feel of his lover's skin, the smooth paleness of it. It had been centuries since he had last performed this act, and millennia since he had taken any real pleasure in it. It wasn't until he felt her muscles begin to contract rhythmically that he remembered that this was a totally new experience for her. Smiling, he willed a small jar of oil into being, warming it before pouring a small amount into his hands. Starting at her shoulders, he began to massage away the tension he felt there, exerting only enough pressure to press the muscles into relaxing. His large hands moved slowly, spreading the oil in ever larger circles. He traveled from her shoulders to her back, then moved to her legs, stopping to pay extra attention to her calves before moving to her feet, watching the way the oil made her body glisten in the light.
Gabrielle lay, eyes closed, senses soaring. Never in her wildest fantasies had she ever imagined something like this. He treated her like she was fine porcelain, something that he could break easily, and she reveled in it. When he turned her over again, she was too relaxed to do anything but murmur, "thank you." Sleepily, Gabby opened her eyes, searching the brown eyes that watched her, then moved lower. In his hands Aran held a long strip of black silk.
Gabrielle raised on eyebrow, even though the sight heated her blood. "And what do you plan to do with that?" she asked as she lifted her hands above her head, crossing them at the wrist.
Ares smiled down at her, the captured her wrists, tying them swiftly and securely, then attaching the end of the silk to a ring in the wall above their heads. The sight of Gabrielle defenseless beneath him raised his arousal to fever pitch, and he knew the time for foreplay was over.
Without a word, he bent to kiss her, his lips no longer teasing, now there was raw hunger, even though it was still gentle. He moved over her, tracing kisses down Gabby's neck, then to her breasts.
Gabby arched off the bed when she felt the warmth of his mouth surround her nipple, then the suction, which just bordered on pain. Yes, she thought, he hands straining at the silk that bound them. Her confinement only increased her pleasure, and soon she was gasping beneath him.
Slowly, Ares kissed a path back up her body, stopping at her eyes before moving again to her lips. Gently, he positioned himself between her thighs, feeling her legs wrap around his hips. The motion brought a groan from him.
"Shhh," he whispered, when she moaned, rocking her hips against the hardness that pressed against her. Then, with infinite patience, he entered her, felt her surround him. He tore through her maidenhead, but she felt no pain, he had taken it from her, wanting nothing to ruin that time, that moment. Looking down into her eyes, he saw that the blue depths that he remembered had turned a smoldering black.
"I love you," Gabrielle whispered, her words carrying her heart.
It was only then that Ares began to move within her. Gently, he moved over her, felt her flow against him. Slowly they began, but it did not stay that way, passion overwhelmed them both, and soon they were crashing into each other.
Gabby reached the peak first. She had struggled to keep her eyes open, loving the look of pleasure on Aran's face, knowing that she was the one to put it there. Then she saw nothing as her body convulsed, throwing her into an orgasm that seemed to go on forever. Shivering, she felt Aran climax, and a peace descended on them as he settled on her, his weight comforting.
Lifting weary hands, Ares untied the knots that held Gabrielle's hands, massaging the wrists to remove the small pain he felt there. All the while he kissed her neck, her shoulder, his love bathing them both. Rolling over, her carried her with him, so that she was lying on him, her head pillowed on his chest. "I love you," he whispered.
Gabby looked up, watching the play of emotion on his face, then settled her head on his chest again, tightening her arms around him.
Nothing would ever separate them, she vowed silently. Nothing.