DISCLAIMER: Xena & Gabrielle [who don't appear here :( ] and any other characters featured in the actual TV series are copyrighted to MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures; just borrowing for this story. All other characters and story is mine. Please contact me before using any of my stuff. Thanks.
VIOLENCE DISCLAIMER: Let's see: Hera, Ares, Athena and Sophia. Of course, there's violence! A sword fight here, a fist fight there, nothing more than the show. I wish my family reunions were this exciting ;)
ON-GOING SERIES WARNING: This is one of Sophias solo adventures. If you are reading this and have no clue to who Sophia is, may I suggest you read Sophia's Family & Sophia's Choice. This entry takes place after "Sophia's Choice."
Image Isn't Everything
'You know, sometimes I don't get my family. They all have these images of themselves; ones that they created or ones humans have given them. And they would do anything to live up to the facade. Well, almost anything....
I know for a fact Mother will always be known for her wisdom, Auntie for erotic love and sex, Father for War (a fact that he simply loves) and Grandmother for her violent jealousy. Let's face it, people like to pigeonhole and stick labels on others. And even if those labels aren't 100% true, you're stuck with them for life, and in the case of my family, for all eternity.
I have to admit there was a time that I believed in those images as well. And those images allowed me to be blind to who they really are. But I hope to correct that some day and show the world the gods I know. Even if it means hiding my notes so that Father can't burn them. He loves his image. But I think this tale will help set the record straight. This took place several seasons ago, when my hatred was strong, almost too strong for my own good...
Sophia rubbed her temples in earnest, trying to ease the pounding in her head. As she sat on the ruby colored cushioned chair, the youngest Guardian could barely concentrate on the meeting that was taking place.
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, looked around at her three Guardians, a genuine smile plastered on her face. "You three simply amaze me. You guys did so well maybe I should have you work together more often."
Karis smiled. At 6'2", with sandy blond hair, hazel eyes and a heart of gold, the young man was the heartbreaker of the three. "That assignment was easy. Too bad they all don't turn out this well."
Argus shook his head. He was a bit shorter and older than Karis, but no less handsome. With his Olive skin, gray eyes, ebony hair kissed with white, and body chiseled out of marble, he attracted stares wherever he went. But it was his wisdom and compassion that made him one of Aphrodite's favored. "My friend, if love was always that easy, there would be no need for us Guardians." He looked over to Sophia and watched as she continued to rub her temples. "But it looks like one of us could use some time off. Another headache Sophia?"
"Huh, what?" Sophia opened her eyes and gazed upon her friend. "What did you ask?"
The Goddess' concern for her niece showed through her eyes. "You have another one? Have you been to a healer?"
Sophia lowered her hands. "I'm fine. Just a little stressed out."
Karis shook his head. "That is what you said yesterday and the day before and the day before that."
"Get off my case Karis," she growled at the head Guardian, "I said I'm fine."
"Temper, temper Sophia. I'm just concerned about you."
"Don't be." Wanting to change the topic, Sophia looked at the goddess. "So what are our new assignments?"
"Well, for Karis," the goddess turned to the Head Guardian, "I want you to help one of my devoted servants. Rufus lives in Thrace and he is in love with a young woman in who doesn't seem to know that people can't live by books alone. I want you to help him."
"I'm on it."
"And Argus, there is an older couple that I want you to help. It seems like the husband has forgotten the need to show his wife just how much he loves her. I think a little jealousy would work."
"I'll do my best."
"And Sophia," the goddess waited until she was sure that she had Sophia's undivided attention, "you are going to Athens."
"Athens? What's there?"
"Rest and relaxation. You are going on vacation."
Sophia's eyes grew wide. "What? I don't need a vacation!"
"Yes you do. For weeks, your have had a problem with your temper; not to mention, those headaches. If the headaches are stressed related then you need to relax. And if they aren't, Athens has the best healers in the world. Besides, you can visit your mother."
*I thought this was suppose to be a vacation,* the young Guardian mused to herself. "Do I have a choice?"
"None babe. In fact, I'm going to be looking in on you. So you better be there."
Sophia woke up and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. As the Mahogany skin Guardian rose off her pallet, her dark brown eyes took in the sight before her. No matter how much time she spent in the Parthenon, she could not get over its simple yet elegant beauty. Dark gray marble walls, floors and ceiling surrounded the young Guardian and small olive trees stood in each corner of the inner sanctum and various weavings and artwork hung upon the walls, adding a bit of color to the area. Although the beauty of the inner sanctum of Athena's Temple was simply breath-taking, something else drew Sophia's attention, the scent of fresh bread.
*Breakfast,* she thought to herself as a big toothy grin spread its way across her face. On a table were her favorite items: a loaf of fresh baked bread, roasted pork, goose eggs, grapes and figs. The young woman jumped off her bed and headed to the table, her mouth already drooling in anticipation for the culinary delights she was about to devour.
The Goddess of Wisdom watched and shook her head as her daughter made her way to the table. Without saying a word, Sophia sat down, grabbed a hunk of warm bread and stuffed it into her mouth. As she chewed she finally looked up at her mother. Without slowing down she spoke. "Good morning, Mother."
"Don't speak with your mouth full. Honestly Sophia, do you eat when you're traveling?"
Sophia swallowed before speaking. "Yes, but nothing is better than a home cook meal," she took a bite of the roasted pork, "even if you did just wave your hand and it just appeared out of thin air."
"You know you could have this everyday if you just would..."
Sophia rolled her eyes. "Mother, please. I came here to visit with you, not to argue." It was almost four years ago that Sophia chose to be Aphrodite's Guardian instead of becoming Athena's Sage. And that decision had become a source of tension between the two women. "I am a Guardian. I wish you could just accept that."
"I could if I thought you were happy, but you are not." Sophia opened her mouth to argue, but the Goddess raised her hand. "And don't tell me otherwise, I can see it in your eyes." Her tone softened as she looked at her daughter. "Sophia you have loss so much weight since the last time I saw you and how about those headaches you have been experiencing?"
"How did you know? Have you been reading my mind again?"
"No, Aphrodite told me. She's concerned and so am I."
"Mom, I'm fine, really. Yes, I'm on the go all the time, and yes I have headaches. But that is all do to stress. That is why Aphrodite demanded that I take some time off." She gave her mother a smile. "So you can fatten me up and nurse me back to health."
"Are you sure it is job related?"
"Yes I'm sure. I've been under a lot of pressure lately."
"I know all about it "Athena crossed her arms over her chest. "I don't know what Aphrodite thought she was doing, sending you to get Gabrielle and Xena together. Of all the nerve..."
Sophia could feel her anger beginning to boil as a dull pain began to creep across her cerebrum. She took a deep breath before speaking. "That assignment was moons ago Mother. Besides, I volunteered for that assignment. I'm a Guardian. It is my destiny. And if that means I get to make sure that the love of my life is happy and safe with her true soulmate, then so be it." Sophia got up. "I need some air, please excuse me."
Athena watched as her daughter placed on her armor & weapons and headed to the door. "Sophia wait." She waited until her daughter turned around. "Please forgive me. I'm just worried about you."
Sophia smiled. "I know. And I love you for it. Don't worry, I'm fine." She walked out the doors of the inner sanctum, through the sanctuary and out of the Cedar doors.
The streets of Athens were full of hustle and bustle. Wagons, chariots and horses rushed past each other as pedestrians quickly walked into shops and taverns, eager to do their business as peddlers shouted out prices and haggled with customers. All this activity did not help the slow ache inside of Sophia's head. The Guardian began rubbing her temple, hoping that the action would help.
But as the noise of Athens' grew louder in her ears, Sophia knew she needed to retreat. She headed to the Temple's stable. She smiled as she entered into her horse's stall. "Hi Thunder. I see that they have been taking good care of you, as always. Ready for a ride?"
The ivory horse nodded and reared up on his back legs. "Okay boy, I get the picture. Let's go." She placed her black leather saddle on Thunder, hopped unto her steed and rode off.
After a candlemark of riding, she finally came upon a quiet and secluded meadow. She pulled the reins and jumped off of Thunder. "Go and eat boy," she told her steed once she removed the tack. She watched as Thunder found some sweet grass and began to nimble.
Once she saw that her horse was happy, the Guardian laid down and looked up at the sky. "Nothing like a glorious day. The only thing that would make this better is..." *having someone to share it with.* "Oh be quiet Sophia. You're a Guardian. You made the choice. Deal with it." The young woman closed her eyes.
"You know, you have the right to change your mind."
Sophia quickly drew her dagger and opened her eyes. "What are you doing here?" she sneered.
Ares crossed his arms as he stood above the Guardian. "Just wanted to see what my daughter was up to." Without withdrawing her weapon, the Guardian stood up.
"Let's get one thing straight, I'm not your daughter."
Ares ignored her remark and eyed the dagger. "You might as well put up that weapon. I know that Hephaestus made that dagger, but it still can't kill me."
"Maybe not but it can still hurt."
Ares narrowed his eyes at his daughter. "I didn't come here to fight with you."
"Too bad. That's the only thing you're going to get from me."
Ares shook his head. "I've been watching you. You're good. You would even be better if you stopped denying your dark side."
"Ares, as I told you before, I'm not ignoring it. I just refuse to let it take over that's all. Now if you will excuse me..." She began to walk off.
The War God grabbed her arm. "I've notice that your losing your temper a lot. And those headaches..."
"How do you know?"
"You would be amazed about how much I know about you Sophia."
Curiosity got the better of the Guardian. "For instance?"
"You want to make the world a better place. And you think that love is the key. But you're wrong. To shape the world, you must take control of it."
"Peace through force? You should really change your tune. You been playing that worn out song for so long now. Love is the way."
"Really? Love is supposed to make the world better? Then why is it that you have a broken heart? You know I can get her for you if only ..."
Sophia instantly reached out with her right hand and grabbed the War God by his leathers; her rage reaching its breaking point. "This is your first and final warning, stay out of my head." She pushed him away. "You know nothing about love, so don't dare give me a lecture. It's a concept you can never understand."
It was then a sharp pain ripped through her skull.
Ares shook his head. "Another pain?" All he received for an answer was a glare. "Fine. Have it your way." The God took a couple of steps backwards, never taking his eyes off his daughter. "I will see you later. Count on it." In three flashes, he was gone.
Slowly Sophia rode Thunder back towards the outskirts of Athens. But the pain was too severe, and the agony caused the Guardian to stop riding halfway home. "Come Thunder, looks like we're walking. After two candlemarks, the Guardian finally made it back to the Parthenon.
Agena, the head Priestess, waited by the Cedar doors and watched as Athena's daughter slowly made her way up the steps. Concern shined in her eyes and she saw the look of pain reflecting from the Guardian's face. "Sophia are you okay? Did something happen? We've been worried sick."
"It's just a headache." Sophia forced a smile upon her face. "I'll be fine."
"Should I get you some herbs?"
"No. They won't help."
"Maybe it's time for you to see a heal..."
"Stop nagging me!" The Guardian shouted. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Sophia regretted them. "Sorry Agena. I've just been stressed, that's all. Please accept my apology."
The regal priestess smiled. "Only if you go and lie down this minute and let me send for the healer."
The Guardian knew that the priestess had her. "Fine. I'll let the healer check me out. But I'm telling you, it's only stress."
"We'll see." Agena escorted the young woman back to the inner sanctum.
"Where's Mother?" Sophia asked as she scanned the room.
"Athena had some business to take care of." Agena then pointed to the bed. "Now go and lie down."
Within moments, the headache was gone, but another type of pain came walking through the door. The healer came in and examined the Guardian while Agena looked on. "My Priestess, I see nothing wrong. I have no idea what is causing these headaches." The old woman turned to Agena. "I suggest she gets some sleep. Here are some herbs to help her rest easier." The healer packed up her things and left, bowing before she headed out.
Sophia looked at the Priestess. "Told you so. I'm fine." She started to get out of bed. Agena rushed over and grabbed the Guardian by the shoulders, forcing her to remain still.
"You are not going anywhere. At least, not until your mother comes home." She then handed the medicine to the young woman. "Take this."
Sophia sighed and swallowed the herbs. 'Next time I'll vacation in Amazonia.' The Guardian pulled the covers over her head. Within moments, she was asleep.
Athena eyed the Goddess of Love and shook her head. "Doesn't it worry you that you may catch a cold in that outfit?"
Aphrodite looked down at her wardrobe. Even thought the pink two-piece lacy lingerie and the matching sheer wrap left little to the imagination, she knew she was one of the few who could pull off the very erotic look. "Hey don't knock me because I'm gorgeous. Besides, I thought that you wanted to talk about my Guardian, not my great fashion sense."
"Yes, I do." Athena crossed her arms. "You told me about these headaches. Have you noticed any pattern?"
"Like a certain time that the headaches strike or how often they come? What is she doing when they hit?"
Aphrodite shook her head. "They don't seem to have a set pattern, they just pop up whenever they want. When she first became my Guardian, Sophia would have a bad headache once or twice a year. But then they became more frequent. It seems like now, every few weeks, she gets one. And they all seem to happen when she is working."
Athena sighed in frustration, but the Goddess of Wisdom was determined to get to the bottom of Sophia's problems. "Aphrodite, I need to know as much as possible about the times you noticed the headaches, especially the past year or two." Aphrodite's eyebrows furrowed as she thought about Sophia's activities. "The only thing that I can come up with is the fact that the headaches came while she was working under extreme situations."
"Extreme situations? What do you mean?"
"As you know my Guardians work to help others through various love problems. The easiest cases involved helping two people in rediscovering their love for one another. Unfortunately, most of the work is much more complex. Most of the time, my Guardians are dealing with the much darker issues that involved misconstrued ideas about love."
"The usual," Aphrodite began counting off on her fingers, "obsession, extreme jealousy." The Goddess of Love paused as she warily eyed her sister, "and abuse."
Athena's eyes narrowed in suppressed rage. "After what happened in Poteidaea and you dare let her..."
"It is because of her experience that she has been able to help others. Athena, I would never force Sophia to do something I didn't think she could handle. Besides, Sophia always volunteers for those problems. She thinks she can make a difference, and she has."
"But she is throwing too much of herself into her work. And if these headaches are due to stress, then maybe you need to tell her to back off a bit."
"That is why I sent her to you, remember?"
"Well hopefully, she won't want to get back to work any time soon." Aphrodite nodded her head in agreement. "Athena, there is something else that I have to tell you."
"What is it?"
"As we both know, Sophia's has a temper. But lately, she has lost control of that temper more often. She hasn't become violent or anything, but she has come to the edge a few times."
Athena sighed. "When she became a teenager, she couldn't control her temper. I had to stop her from killing someone with her bare hands when she was a teen. The only thing that seemed to calm her down was going to Tartarus."
"Well, she has already been there three times so far this year."
"WHAT!?" Athena sternly eyed her half-sister. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"I thought that she told you."
"She didn't. " She looked across the room, her eyes settling on her brass armor and spear. Those two articles identified her as the Goddess of Wisdom and War. But right now, her wisdom was failing. *Headaches and fits of temper.* "Aphrodite, do they happen at the same time?"
The goddess' eyebrows furrowed as she thought about the question. "Sometimes the rages happen before the headaches, sometimes after. But they do seem to come together. Do you think that they're related?"
"I hope not. Because if they are," she looked again at her armor, "it may mean that we have to involve the one person that she hates the most."
"You are coming here to ask me for my help?" Ares threw his head back in laughter as he sat in his silver throne. "I don't believe this. You come to my stronghold begging me to help you." Ares stood up. With his long ebony hair and equally dark eyes, he was a handsome god. But his good looks hid a chaotic and bloodthirsty soul. The only thing that gave away his true nature was his well-oiled black leathers and his mocking smile. A smile he loved giving his half-sister. "Why should I Athena?"
Athena glared at the War God with her piercing gray eyes. "Because my daughter..."
"She's my daughter Ares. I raised her, I gave her life."
"But it's my blood that flows through her. And now it seems that my spirit is finally making itself known."
Athena took a deep breath to calm herself. "She has always had your spirit Ares. But now, it is starting to rage out of control. You know I can only heal non-life threatening wounds and pain. There will come a time my healing powers will stop working, and I can't teach her how to control and use that darkness. Only you can." She looked around Ares throne room. It was dark and gloomy with a few torches lit which barely gave enough light. "Do you really think I would be here if it wasn't important?"
"You have a point." Ares stepped down from his dais and came eye to eye with the goddess. "But I have certain conditions that have to be met."
"Of course you do. What are they?"
"First, I want to be part of her life."
"That's not my decision to make. I can't force her to accept you."
"No, but you can influence her. After all, it's your fault she wants nothing to do with me."
The goddess narrowed her eyes at her half-sibling. "Have you forgot the past? She has every right to hate you."
"And I bet that every single day you reminded her about the past. May I remind you that you're the one who kidnapped my daughter and kept her away from me all those years."
"She's my daughter! I saved her, gave birth to her, and made sure she was safe from the likes of monsters like you!"
"I'll show you whose a monster!" Ares grabbed his sword and swung it.
Athena jumped back and pulled out her sword. "So you want to fight?" Thunder and lighting shook the earth as their swords clashed. The tremendous sound and light woke up the Guardian. With a start, Sophia sat up in her bed, knocking a candle off the table by the bed.
Aphrodite shook her head. "Sophia, you're suppose to be resting."
"What's going on? Why are you here?" Sophia turned around and peeked out of the window. Lighting flashed and lit up every dark corner and alley in the city below the acropolis. Sophia turned her attention back to the sky and noticed that there were no clouds. It wasn't a thunderstorm. It was a Thunder Battle.
She turned to face her aunt. "Okay, who's fighting?"
Aphrodite shrugged her shoulders and began to clean up the mess. "No idea."
The goddess stood up holding the candle in her hand. "Are you calling me a liar?"
"Yes." Sophia grabbed the candle. "You never do any form of manual labor unless your lying or avoiding telling someone something. Now tell me what's going on. I've haven't heard thunder like this since the last time Mom and ..." She stared at Aphrodite and watched as the goddess avoided her eyes. "That's it. Mother and
Ares are at it again." She grabbed her aunt by the arm. "Take me to them."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea."
The goddess sighed. "Fine. But it's your neck." The goddess and her Guardian vanished and in a shower of glitter and light, reappeared in Ares' throne room.
Both Ares and Athena looked at the duo. "Sophia what are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same thing of you Mother." She walked over and pushed the swords apart. "So what's going on?"
"Hello Sophia. Make yourself at home. Mi casa es su casa."
Sophia turned and growled at the god. "I want nothing of yours."
"You may not want it, but you need it. I know that your darkness is giving you trouble." Ares pointed at the Goddess of War. "Your aunt came to ask me for help."
Ignoring Ares' jab at Athena, Sophia turned to her mother. "Is that the reason you're here? I don't want his help."
"Sophia, listen to reason. You inherited his temper and darkness. And only he can teach you how to control it fully."
Sophia glanced at the War God. She watched as he cocked an eyebrow. She could feel both her anger and stubbornness grow. "I rather go nuts."
Ares chuckled. "That's the least of your problems daughter." He slowly walked over to her. "If you don't let me help you, your rage is going to build. Your headaches will become worst and they will eventually lead you to a very painful and unpleasant death. But before that happens, you are going to wage war on anyone who even looks at you funny. Is that what you really want?" He tried to place his arm around her shoulders, but she brushed him off. "I'm willing to help you."
"How much is it going to cost me?"
"Let me be a father to you. Let me train you for your true destiny. No child of mine should be a Love Guardian. You are destined for greatness."
Sophia slowly shook her head in disbelief, as the pain started once again. "Do you ever listen to yourself Ares? Be a father to me. You are sick. I'd rather be dead than to have you in my life."
Ares took a step back. "Do you really hate me that much?"
Sophia stared at the god. She stated her answer calmly, ignoring the thumping in her head. "Yes."
Ares turned and walked to his dais. He sat down upon his throne and stared at his daughter. "So be it."
"Ares, Sophia, please don't do this..."
"Mother, it's over. I've made my decision. I just want to go home. Now."
"I DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!" Instantly, a sharp pain went through her mind. Sophia grabbed her head and fell to the floor, screaming in sheer agony.
Both goddesses raced over to the fallen Guardian. Athena looked up at Ares with tears in her eyes. "Ares you got to stop this!"
"I don't have to do anything." He began to inspect his fingernails. "But you, Aphrodite and Sophia have to leave."
Aphrodite looked at Ares and then Athena. "We'll deal with him later. Right now, we have to take care of Sophia." Athena wrapped her arms around her ailing daughter, and all three women disappeared.
Hera shook her head as she watched as pain wrenched her grandchild. She gripped the balcony railing as she looked down upon Athens. "Hermes come here."
Instantaneously the winged messenger of the gods appeared. "Yes Hera?"
"Take a message to my son. Tell Ares that I need to see him immediately."
"As you wish."
Within a few moments Ares flashed into view. "You wanted something Mother?"
Hera took a calming breath before she replied. "What do you think you're doing?" "I'm standing here. Hermes said you wanted to see me."
"I'm not talking about now!" The iced blue eyed goddess pointed towards Greece. "Your daughter needs you. And yet, you sit in your stronghold and do nothing. Why?"
The events of the past few weeks played in his mind. Everyday, the Guardian's mind racked with pain, while Athena and Aphrodite did everything in their power to soothe it. But they couldn't do anything about the rages. After overturning every table and chair this morning, Hephaestus had to come and chain Sophia so she wouldn't hurt anyone. And time after time, Athena begged Sophia to change her mind about Ares, and each time Sophia refused. "She doesn't want my help."
"That doesn't matter. She is your child..."
"She has rejected me! She made her bed, let her lie in it."
Hera crossed her arms. "You have no right to demand anything from her."
The War God sneered at his mother. "I liked you better when you were mean. Ever since you got back together with Father, you've become soft."
The Queen of the gods tilted her head. "Really?"
"Yes. The old you wouldn't care about the brat. Sophia is denying her true self, becoming a do-gooder." He stepped closer towards Hera. "And so are you."
Hera nodded. "You're right. I have been way too nice." She watched as Ares nodded his satisfaction. Then she sent a fireball straight at him, crashing him into a wall. Slowly and calmly she glided over to Ares' crumbled form. "Now, you are going to save my grand-daughter's life. You are going to make nice with her mother." She reached out and grabbed his ear, forcing the god to come to his feet. "Because if you don't, you are going to see a whole lot of the old me. Do I make myself clear?"
Ares coughed up some smoke before answering. "Fine. Whatever you say."
"My pleasure." In a blaze of light and smoke he disappeared.
"LET ME GO!" Crystal brown eyes became black with rage. Sophia yanked at the chains once more.
Athena shook her head. "This is for your and everyone else's protection."
A sinister smirk graced the Guardian's features. "I'll go straight to Tartarus."
"And on the Elysian Fields. We can't take that chance. If only you would let Ares..."
"Too bad," Ares popped into the room, "because Daddy's home!"
Seeing the god only made Sophia' madder. She lunged at him, but the chains held.
Ares swaggered up to the Mahogany woman. "Boy are you steamed. Are you as mad as you were the day we met at the temple?" He watched as she once again tried to lunged at him. "I bet you would love to get your hands on me." He slowly nodded. "You'll have your chance. But for now," quickly and brutally, the War God slugged Sophia's jaw, knocking her unconscious.
Just as quickly, Athena clobbered him from behind. "How dare you strike her!"
Ares slowly rose to his feet. *Make nice with Athena, make nice with Athena.* "I had to. That's the only way to get her away from here without a fight."
"Where are you taking her?"
Ares' patience was running thin. "You know, I could let her go and let her run amok here in Athens." *In fact, that sounds like a great idea.* The picture of Sophia destroying the city block by block brought a smile to his face. But just as quickly, the image of Hera chasing him around the known universe caused him to snap back into reality. "I'm taking her some place where she can't do harm to others or herself." He watched as Athena crossed her arms, waiting for an answer. He shook his head. *I HATE playing nice.* "The Arabian Desert."
Athena narrowed her eyes. "But you have no powers there."
"All I need to do is pop in and out." He bent down and picked up his unconscious spawn. "Just make sure you have plenty of ice for the both of us when we get back." Before she could question him any further, he disappeared with his 'package'.
Sophia woke up and tried to shake the cobwebs off. Once she became fully alert, she took in her surroundings. Now she was unchained and sitting in the middle of a desert. Slowly she stood up. Dunes of sand was all she saw in front of her.
Ares chuckled and watched as his sire quickly turned to face him. "Finally awake." Even from five paces away, he could see the red hot glint in her eyes. Then, she took off towards him at full steam. "Let's get started!" He waited, popping away at last possible moment.
Sophia skidded to a halt, keeping herself from running into a dune. But before she had a chance to turn, Ares reappeared behind her and dropp-kicked her into the sand.
Without hesitation, the young woman turned over and growled, jumping right at the god.
Ares once again waited until the last second to reappear behind her. 'Not this time.' Sophia reached out and grabbed his leg, pulling the god off his feet. Then she jumped directly on his abs, knocking the wind out of him. As he tried to regain his breath, the Guardian bent down and pummeled the War God.
Once again, he departed out of view. Sophia looked around, but didn't see him. "Come on! Face me coward!"
"I'm no coward," Ares stated as he emanated eight paces in front of his daughter.
"Really? The day you disguised yourself as some unknown soldier when your army attacked Athena's temple, I guess you were just playing dressed up, huh? And then you ran with the rest of your men, when Athena came." She watched as he just stood there. "What are you waiting for? Where's the fireballs? I thought that's how you like to fight, far away so you have plenty of time to run!"
Ares shook his head. "No fireballs. Not this time." Then he charged.
Sophia was ready. At the last moment she knelt down, caught his arm and executed a perfect hip throw, causing the god to land hard on his back.
For 18 candlemarks the two exchanged blow after blow. Finally, as the sun began to rise the next day, Sophia fell to her knees and sucked down air into her lungs, ignoring her bruised ribs and the metallic taste of blood in her mouth.
Next to her, Ares collapsed likewise. "Say when."
Sophia managed to lift one finger and nodded. Then without warning, she delivered a wicked shot that sent Ares flat on his back next to her. "When," she managed to state before collapsing across him.
"Ow!" Sophia yelled out as Athena placed the water bag on top of her head.
"It'll keep the swelling down. I hope you two had enough fun for a while."
Aphrodite placed a steak on Ares' eye. "Yeah. It'll be a while before I can use her for a jealousy assignments."
Ares held back a sneer and looked at Sophia. "We need to talk. Now we can do this the easy way, or" waited until Aphrodite struggled to lift the chain, "the hard way." He took the steak off his eye.
"I know you hate me. And you have every reason. But like it or not, you need me. And I'm going to teach you how to control those rages of yours, because I don't think you can survive another round in the desert."
"I hope you're not expecting anything in return."
He unconsciously placed a hand on her shoulder. "Maybe one day," Ares whispered, not realizing he spoke his thoughts out loud. But once he did, the War God quickly stood up and pulled on his leathers. "One day, you'll realize how stupid this whole Guardian thing is, and take your place at my side!" He slapped the steak back on his eye, and in a flash he disappeared.
Aphrodite chuckled. "Looks like there's a chink in his armor."
Sophia narrowed her eyes. "You think I care?" She gingerly stood up. "I need to check on Thunder, be right back." She hobbled her way down into the stable. Once there, she pulled out a brush and began to brush the white steed.
"Thunder, you won't believe it. Ares has found a way to wiggle his no good hide into my life. He wants to teach me my powers. Fine. But I promise you, as soon as I learn what I need to learn, he's out of my life." After a few more strokes, Sophia patted Thunder one last time. "See you in the morning. That is, if I can move." Slowly, and with much soreness, Sophia limped out of the stable, not discerning she had an audience.
Ares appeared next to the white steed. He opened his hand, letting Thunder take the red apple from his hand.
"It must have felt good helping your child like that." Hera walked up to her son. "Just like it must hurt to hear her say that she wants you out of her life. You have time Ares to change her mind. I know you want to be a good father."
Ares crossed his arms. "I admit nothing." With that, he vanished.
Hera shook her head at her son's stubbornness. She then held out her hand and waited for the golden apple to appear. "Want another one Thunder?"
"He doesn't like those kind." Ares' disembodied voice proclaimed.
All Hera could do was chuckle as she rub behind Thunder's ear.
Written and ©Copyrighted by: Paully Adams
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