Disclaimers: The Xenaverse is owned by Universal/Renaissance, created by Rob Tapert.

Summary: Ares comes to the Underworld with a proposition for a reluctant Hades.

Author’s note: Set after series 5 finale

Rating – M, for profanity

Drama

 

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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

 

He marched through the Elysian Fields on a mission, hiding his feelings well. It wasn’t long before he found who he was looking for.

"Uncle "

A robed figure turned to face the newcomer. "The bitch finally kill you too?"

The God of War smiled. "Not exactly. I came to see you."

"How nice. Lovely view, isn’t it?"

"Something tells me you’re not appreciating it much."

"What do you want, Ares? Come to gloat? Gloat away. I’ve got all eternity Of course I had all eternity *before*, but *she* changed all that and now I’m bloody well stuck down here."

"What’s the difference? You hardly leave the place anyway."

Hades glared at him. "That was different! I could come and go as I chose."

"And you usually *chose* to stay down here."

"I like it down here. There’s no one to bother me "

"So what’s changed? I mean-"

Hades’ icy stare stopped Ares mid-sentence. "You know damn well it’s not the bloody same!" he snapped. "So why are you here?"

"What’s the rush, Hades? Got somewhere to be?"

The other God’s icy stare became colder.

Ares paused and softened his tone somewhat. "You used to love this place. You told me once that it was-"

"My only solitude ..." Hades said quietly. "Cronus knows why on Earth I confided in you..."

"Because I’m an outsider, like you."

Hades wanted to protest that he had anything remotely in common with Ares, but the God of War had a point.

"I never got on well with the other Gods ..." Hades admitted "...and Olympus It’s just too perfect up there."

"Tell me about it. Well that’s one thing we agree on, Uncle."

"Hooray. My life has meaning again."

"You’re dead."

"Get stuffed."

"Well if that’s the way you feel, Hades, I’ll leave . If you ever want your life back, give me a holler." Ares made a move to disappear.

"Wait " Hades called, knowing better than to trust Ares, though he couldn’t let this pass.

"Thought that’d get your attention."

"This better not be one of your tricks, Ares."

The God of War smiled. "And what if it is? Not a lot you can do about it, is there, Lord of the *Dead*."

Hades kept his temper in check, then he laughed, the reaction startling his nephew somewhat.

"Bloody ironic, isn’t it? And I designed this place for the Dead And the Angels sent me down here. I don’t know what they did with the other Gods, but they sure as Hades are havin’ their fun with me."

"Look on the bright side, Uncle."

Hades’ annoyance increased. "Which would be in this case?"

"They could’ve sent you to Tartarus."

Hades visibly shivered.

"So," Ares said after a pause, "You want your life back?"

"How?"

"Ambrosia."

Hades’ interest perked. "You have some?"

Ares nodded, producing a small sac, with the sparkling amber jelly. "It’ll restore your life as well as your powers."

Hades could scarcely believe this turn of events, but kept his eagerness in check.

"So, Ares, what’s the catch?"

"What makes you think I want anything?"

Hades gave him a look.

Ares smiled. "You know me too well, Uncle. There is only one favour I ask."

Hades tilted his head slightly. "Which is?"

Hades listened as Ares began, slowly "...Some of the other Gods, lead by Apollo have banded together and are after Xena again."

"Understandable."

"And she’s lost her God killing powers."

"Good luck to them," Hades said. "The bitch was hard enough to kill without her powers."

"You can hardly blame her, she was protecting her child."

Hades glared at Ares. "And I was protecting my wife and sister! I can’t believe you turned your back on your own kind."

"Sometimes you do crazy things when you’re in love ... You know, some God actually *kidnapped* his to be wife while she was picking flowers ..."

Hades glared at Ares, part of him angry, the other part trying to stifle a reminiscent smile.

"What do you need me to do?" Hades asked, reluctant.

"I need you to help me protect Xena and Eve."

"*What??!!* Are you out of your fornicating mind??!!"

"I knew you’d explode," Ares said, calm. "Breathe."

Hades was too angry to even grant the smallest smile to Ares’ jest. "That woman and her child are the cause of all this!"

"That woman ... Bitch ... I thought you two were on friendly terms."

Hades glared at Ares. "That was before her child posed a threat to my family. What was I supposed to do? Sit on my bloody arse and do nothing?!"

"Fine," Ares said. "She did what she had to do, you did what you had to do, but now she needs your help."

"Forget it."

"You’d rather stay dead, a shadow of your former self. You’ll never be able to hurl a fireball again."

Hades glared at Ares. "You think that’s all I care about?" Though Ares could see his words had cut deeper than Hades wanted him to see.

"When was the last time you saw Persephone ... Celesta?"

"I saw my wife last month," Hades said.

"Before you, di-"

Hades Antarctic glare stopped him mid-sentence. "Yes, before that."

"And Celesta?"

"She came to me just the other day ... Though she can’t come often... The mortals need her and ..."

"The Angels have forbidden her to see you."

"How did you know that?"

"I did my homework."

Hades hid his pain, though Ares could see it in his eyes.

"Yet she came to you the other day ... Just what do you think the Angels would do if they discovered that-"

Hades looked at Ares, horrified. "You wouldn’t ... And they wouldn’t hurt her ... she..."

Ares cocked his head slightly. "You know better than to put anything past me, Uncle."

Hades glared at him.

"And you know, the sooner you agree to help me, the sooner you can make love to

Persephone again."

Furious, Hades punched him.

Ares rubbed his face. "Not bad."

"Bastard!" Hades spat. "You think that’s all I love her for?"

"No, but bet you miss it."

"Fornicate you."

"You know, you really should wash out your mouth, Uncle."

Hades swore at his nephew again.

"So what’ll it be, Uncle? Immortality or an afterlife without sex?"

Hades glared at him. "Shove it, Ares."

"Hey, I was kidding ... "

Hades spoke after a pause. "And if ... *if* for some unforeseeable reason, I do decide to help you, what then? The Twilight will come and then what, we’ll all be up shite creek anyway, and I’ll probably end up back here and have you to keep me company for all eternity."

Ares smiled. "I should be so lucky."

Another pause followed. Hades paced around the soft Elysian Grass before he turned to the God of War.

"All right, Ares. I will help you."

Ares stared. "You will? ... You miss being in bed with her that much?"

"Go fornicate yourself," Hades said. "I’ll help you, *if* and only if Persephone and Celesta will be spared from the Twilight."

"I don’t know if I can arrange-"

"Then take your deal and shove it where Apollo doesn’t shine."

Hades’ tone brooked no argument.

"I’ll be right back," Ares said. "Don’t go anywhere."

Hades glared at him.

Momentarily, Ares returned. "They’ve agreed."

"They?"

"The Archangels. They promise that you, Persephone and Celesta will be spared from the Twilight if you help me save Xena and Eve."

"Agreed, Ares, but if this is one of your tricks, I’ll feed your balls to Cerberus."

"I don’t doubt it." Ares handed him the Ambrosia.

Slowly, Hades began to eat it.

"Delicious, isn’t it?" Ares said.

Hades swallowed, then nodded. "If you want the truth, I prefer chocolate."

Ares chuckled. "So my uncle is a closet chocoholic?"

"Honest to Hades truth."

Both Gods shared a smile, before disappearing, Hades feeling his powers returning and although it was refreshing and invigorating, all he could feel was relief that the ones he loved would be safe.

* * *

Xena spun around as Apollo hurled an enormous fireball toward her, Gabrielle and Eve. Hitting the dirt, the ball missed, though barely as she felt its searing heat, and its impact on the Earth shaking her entire body. Vines grabbed Gabrielle, as Demeter tried to throttle her, cutting into the Bard’s skin. Xena’s Chakram sliced through. The Goddess of the Harvest hurled a fireball in the Warrior Princess’ direction, which to her dismay was deflected by the Chakram. Xena, her daughter and Bard dodged fireballs, though their troubles were not over, as priests of the Gods converged upon her and Xena looked worried. They began to surround Eve. Xena hurled her Chakram, killing one of them, who almost killed Gabrielle, the Bard darted away, though it looked like this was their swan song.

"Could it get any worse?" Gabrielle asked.

In a ball of flame, Hades appeared.

Xena stared. "No, it couldn’t possibly get any worse." Her jest masked her worry and she was too worried to wonder how in Hades, Hades could be here.. She and Gabrielle ran to rescue Eve, though Apollo hurled a fireball in their direction, missing them, but throwing them to the ground. Xena’s face twisted in pain as her ankle snapped. The priests converged on Eve. Hades opened his hand, creating a green fireball, and seemingly aimed it at Eve. Xena stared in horror, there was nothing she could do as Hades released his fireball. The green ball of energy took out four of the priests. His next fireball, five. Another deadly fireball appeared in his hand.

"Leave," he demanded.

One of the priests spoke up. "Lord Hades ... Why..."

"I have my reasons. Leave or die."

Respecting Hades, the remaining priests retreated. Xena stared, though still unsure of Hades’ motives. He hurled two more fireballs, at the two startled Gods, rendering them unconscious.

The Lord of the Underworld approached Eve. The wounded girl tried to scramble away from him.

"I’m not going to hurt you," he promised.

Eve looked confused.

"Trust me," Hades said, gently.

Despite her fear, Eve could see no ill intention in the God’s eyes, though still, she was confused. Gently, Hades picked her up and carried her to her mother.

"Hades?"

The Lord of the Dead gave a smile.

"Change of heart?"

"Not exactly, Xena."

He placed his hand on her broken ankle, closed his eyes for a moment and healed it.

"I thought Gods could only heal with the blessing of Athena."

"The Goddess of Wisdom is indisposed at the moment, Hades said, "and so I’ve inherited her healing powers for the time being." He used them to heal Eve and Gabrielle’s wounds.

Apollo began to stand. Hades turned to face him.

"Hades, why-"

"Xena did what she had to do," Hades said, somewhat reluctantly, "and so did we. This changes nothing."

The Sun God looked apologetic. "But Hades, what-"

"I don't know what will happen," he said, truthfully. "Time will give us the answers."

Apollo nodded slowly, pondering Hades words, as he leapt into his chariot and ride it into the skies.

"I guess I should thank you, Hades," Xena said, "but you still haven’t told me why-"

"Hades, you traitor!!!"

The Lord of the Dead spun around to face a fuming, fully recovered Demeter. "I always despised you for taking my daughter, but this ... this is beyond forgiveness!"

"You never even forgave me for taking Persephone." Hades said.

"And I never will, but less for this. Betraying your own kind? To save your miserable hide, no doubt!"

Hades became angry, though kept his temper and fireballs in check.

"I’m doing this to-"

"Spare me your excuses!"

Demeter released a fireball. Hades swerved. The Goddess of the Harvest released another. Hades retaliated, both fireballs colliding in mid air.

"I’m doing this to save them!" Hades snapped, swerving yet again.

"Save who?!" Another fireball materialised in Demeter’s hand.

"My wife and sister. That’s the only reason I agreed to help Xena. You may hate me for taking Persephone and I tried to make peace with you, but you weren’t interested, and you know what? I don’t care anymore. I love Persephone and I love my sister, and I’ll do what I have to protect them." Hades blinked. He rarely admitted his feelings so vehemently, though he’d had enough.

Demeter swallowed. Somewhat reluctantly, she dissipated her fireball.

"That’s why I hate you, Hades ... For years I tried to force myself to believe you took Persephone against her will ... But the love she has for you ... and the love you have for her... You gave her more than I ever could..." A tear escaped.

For the first time, Hades found himself pitying her. "You’re her mother," he said, his tone softer. "There are things that only a mother can give her daughter." He glanced at Xena, then looked back at Demeter. Gently he took her hand as she sat on a rock, to gather herself.

"Ohh, Hades ... All this time ... I’ve known you were the prefect husband for my baby ... But ..."

"You were afraid you’d lose her."

The Goddess of the Harvest nodded.

"I never took her from you, Demeter. When she realised how much I loved her, she loved me in return and wanted to stay with me."

"I ... I know ... Thank you, Hades..."

He looked at her, surprised. "What for?"

"Looking after my baby ... I admit when you died ... I felt, well..."

"Happy?"

Demeter looked guilty. "Well ... Also sad ... And I could not bear to look upon my daughter’s grief stricken face ... And I found myself wishing you were alive ... to comfort her..."

Hades smiled. "So did I..."

"I’m sorry, Hades, I..."

The Lord of the Dead smiled. "You had every right to be angry with me, though I’m glad we had this little chat."

"As am I. Thank you again, Lord of the Underworld."

"Don’t mention it, Mother."

She gave him a look. "Don’t push it."

Hades smiled, as Demeter dematerialised. The Goddess of the Harvest had some thinking to do, as Hades stood and walked to Xena.

"Thank you," the Warrior Princess said.

"I never wanted to harm you or Eve ... I ..."

"I understand, Hades."

The God smiled. "I don’t expect you to forgive me, Xena."

A pause followed. "I do, Hades."

The Lord of the Dead looked bewildered.

"One thing I’ve learned is that one can only move on if they forgive."

"Thank you, Xena."

Gently, he took her hand. "May the next time we meet be under less strenuous circumstances."

Xena smiled as Hades turned to leave. Gabrielle watched as his deep red robe flowed behind him in the wind. Xena turned to her and smiled. "I bet you’re cooking up a story."

"What makes you say that?" The Bard asked with a smile.

* * *

Hades walked through the lush forest, appreciating the scenery. Sensing a presence, he stopped and turned as Archangel Gabriel appeared behind him.

"I have come to thank you. I realise it was not an easy thing to swallow your pride. Your love or your family is admirable and as promised, they will be protected, Hades, Lord of the Underworld."

"Thank you, Gabriel, Archangel of the Dead."

A gentle smile touched the Angel’s face before he disappeared.

Hades walked on, soon to be greeted by Ares.

"Now that wasn’t so bad was it?"

Hades gave him a look.

"You know, Hades, I could just as well have chosen to resurrect Zeus or Hera or Athena or-"

"Thank you, Ares," Hades said, though not without some reluctance.

"And you and Xena are friends again and everybody’s happy."

Hades sighed. "Fine, Ares. You were right."

"And you were a stubborn bastard."

"You can hardly blame me, but everything worked out, didn’t it?"

Ares gave a smile. "Yes, it did and you know what?"

Hades looked at him. "What?"

"You can have sex now."

"Get stuffed, Ares," Hades said, shaking his head with a smile before disappearing to the Underworld in a dazzling ball of flame.

 

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