In the Dark

By Sara

Disclaimers: First up, don't own em', wish I did but what are you going to do? Don't bother suing me Renaissance - Rob Tapert - or anyone else connected. I have nothing to lose, and really don't you think it's slightly petty to bother a simple fan fic writer?

Disclaimer 2: I want to take a sec and thank BB (you know who you are, dear) for all the wonderful help for this story. I owe the good stuff to her. The bad stuff belongs to my stuffed Koala, Kipling. He made me do it!

Disclaimer 3: last one, promise (I know, more disclaimers then story.) This story happened because a character acted so OUT of character during the baby-arc. Hades really wussed out and I was rather peeved about it. But then I realized that HEY! I can write what I want, so here.

Disclaimer 4 (I lied) Please write me and tell me what you think. Positive e-mails are loved, cherished and answered. Honest criticism is good, too. Not as good...... but I can deal. BUT if you just wanna be nasty your e-mail will be sent to my moat dragon and the curse of the boweevels will be cast upon you. Consider yourself warned. And away we go...........................

A sudden glaring light and Athena appeared in the darkened throne room of Hades. With a snarl she waved her hands irritably and the room's torches lit with a giant whoosh, illuminating a slumped figure sitting on the ornate throne of the Lord of the Dead.

"Hades!" she thundered.

Not even deigning to look up her brother said "Athena, I already told you, you can see your chosen if you like----"

"You know that's not why I'm here. What are we going to do about that woman? Why didn't you send me men, arms, SOMETHING to help me stop her? What are we going to do?"

"Nothing." came Hades tired voice. "We will do nothing. Go away Thena, just, go away."

At her brother's words Athena stopped her frantic pacing, struck momentarily dumb by both the defeat and self-loathing she heard in her brother's voice.

"What do you mean, nothing? That, that woman and her child" and here Athena's voice rose to a screech "killed Zeus! They are going to be the death of us all. Don't you care, Hades? Don't you care that unless she is stopped we are all going to die? You, me, even you precious Persephone?"

Here Hades looked up. With anger glinting in his dark eyes he stared at his sister and with a flash of barely concealed hatred thick in his voice he growled "Persephone is gone, and she isn't coming back." his words echoed in the room. The light from the torches flickered, throwing dark shadows crazily across his face.

Athena's jaw dropped. The love between the moody god of the dead and his wife was legendary among the other Olympians.

"Gone, what do you mean gone? Has Demeter taken her back?"

"No!" Hades thundered. "No." this time quietly, the defeat returning. "Demeter has nothing to do with this. This is my doing. I tried to kill Xena and her child. An innocent child,," his voice trailed off.

"You did what you had to do, that harpy killed our father!"

"Wake up Athena, Zeus doomed himself. In his arrogance he killed himself. Stop blaming Xena. She did nothing but try and protect her child. It's over."

Athena couldn't believe this, she wouldn't. "We are gods, Hades. We are--"

"No more!" Hades broke in. "You are supposed to be the goddess of wisdom, Athena, act like it. Everything has an end. Mother knew it. Hercules knows it, Even Zeus faced it in the end. It's time to accept it." Hades stood up now, and facing his sister he her grabbed her shoulders, shaking her gently. "We are supposed to be the examples that mankind follows. We are supposed to be above petty mortal things. You" and here Hades gave his sister another shake, "are supposed to be the goddess of wisdom, of justice, of doing the right thing even when it's hard. People come to your temples for justice, fair justice, Athena. You are the impartial judge of kings, and look at you! You are trying to kill an innocent. To save yourself you are willing to kill a child! If that is a price we are willing to pay for our immortality we don't deserve to continue. It's over Athena. Make your peace with it." As his words died away he slumped back into his throne.

Athena stood gaping, forced into temporary silence by her brother's tirade. Finally she asked, "And this has what exactly to do with Persephone leaving?"

Hades gave a grim laugh and shook his head. Staring down at his hands he spoke, "Millennia, since the very beginning of time, I have been the Lord of the Dead, keeper of a balance that Zeus himself never dared to upset. But Athena, for all those souls that I have judged, that I have sent to either their reward or their punishment, I have never killed." A deep sigh shook his frame. "It has always been different for you, Athena. You have always fought with your champions. You seem to enjoy the fight almost as much as Ares. Sometimes I wonder who between you is really the more bloodthirsty."

At this Athena started to interrupt again, "It was needed, she must die,"

"Just be quiet Athena, it wasn't necessary. No one truly understands the prophesy. How is a child going to kill us? Cry us to death? Maybe use her dirty diapers as her mother uses her chakrum? Tell me, my wise sister, how?"

"She killed Zeus,, she" Athena was again stopped by her brother.

"Hercules killed Zeus, Athena! Weren't you watching? Xena was too busy trying to have a baby to do much more then scream! It was Zeus' choice to force Hercules' hand. Even Hera knew what had to be done. Does the fact that your own mother was willing to let the child live mean anything to you? She even joined with Hercules, the person she has spent decades hating in order to stop Zeus! Why do you refuse to see that?" With a sigh, Hades saw that his sister would never except this. She would
fight Xena with all her power, until one of them was dead. In his heart he already knew the outcome, Athena might be fighting for her own survival, but Xena was fighting for her child and there was nothing fiercer. His sister would die, eventually. It was just a matter of how many mortals she would take with her. He tried one last time to reach her.

"Athena, think. How many times has Xena beaten us? Tricked us,,, and saved us. We, I, owe her. She restored my kingdom when it cost her a love, and even saved Celeste at great risk to herself. She protected Ares when he lost his godhood even after everything he has done to her. She defeated Dahok for Zeus' sake! When we were helpless she again saved us and the world. Maybe it is fitting that she bring about our end. Persephone saw that. That's why she has left. After trying to kill Xena and Gabrielle here in Tartarus she couldn't stand to look at me anymore. She, the one person who never saw me as soulless, the woman who never judged me when I judged a soul harshly, but instead stood with me, who comforted my heart in the dark hours saw me lose my soul. She is with Demeter now, and nothing I do will bring her back to me. And.. I don't want her to come back. Not to this, to me. She will be safe with Demeter, mortals will always need the seasons, she will go on. I can only guarantee her death, for our time is done." As Hades' words faded away into the cavernous room the look of despair lifted for a moment from his brows, and acceptance rested there.

Seeing this, Athena's hand flew out and struck the side of her brother's face. "You Traitor! You sniveling worm! How dare you! I should have known you had no backbone. Very well Hades, hide in your hole. I WILL kill Xena and her unholy brat, and then, dear brother, I will deal with this betrayal!" Practically spitting Athena threw her brother one last look of disgust and vanished from the room.

Hades shook his head. He really hadn't expected anything else from his headstrong younger sister. But in angering her, he had protected his secret. Persephone would live. With a snap of his fingers, Hades brought his viewing glass to his side. Gazing deep into the shining screen he saw Persephone kneeling by her mother picking flowers and laughing. The sun shone brightly
putting every detail of the picture; her dark silken hair he had always loved to brush, her green eyes dancing with laughter, the soft coral of her dress that clung to her slightly swelling stomach.....A feeling of peace came over Hades. It was enough. And in the dark the Lord of the Dead willingly awaited his fate.

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