Chapter Two: ... Sort Of
Disclaimer: See first chapter! Own nothing I do ... or is it I don't?
A/N: Forgive my butchering of the Simi speaking and agape, (love in Greek), seemed fitting. Hopefully it doesn't mean adult love and that would be just wrong. It seems right that Gabrielle would know Atlantean.
Xena was pretty sure that she had somewhere along the way fallen and hit her head. Or maybe eaten something with a mind altering potion in it. Or maybe this was some strange hell dimension. Looking to her companion who happened to have a look of shock on her face, as they followed the young boy to the edges of the woods, she could see that the younger woman was thinking along the same lines as she.
For there leaning against the tree was Ares the god of War. It wasn't so much that Ares was leaning against the tree. Ares liked to lean, in a authoritative and cocky way looking upon the world as if it was filled with amusing play things. No, that wasn't unusual at all. What was was that Ares was smiling. Yes, smiling. Not sneering or smirking. And what was even stranger was the type of smile the god had on his face; it was an affectionate and loving one.
"Now, agape, what did I tell you about playing with your food?" Came the lightly scolding tone.
Gabrielle's eyes widened as did her mouth, Ares sounded like an amused father. She turned her wide blue eyes towards Xena but the look on her companion's face was blank. If she didn't know better she would think that her best friend was in no way as weirded out as she was but Gabrielle knew better. She knew it was all Xena could do not to walk over to Ares and check if he was possessed or something.
Both women's attention turned from the god leaning against the tree to what must be the demon standing sulkily and not too far from Ares. She was lovely in this little child quality that seemed to pore out from her being. She was slight and pale and was dressed in a similar outfit to Ares, even her horns (if one took a closer look) were encased in a leather covering. If one didn't know better they would think that this little demoness was Ares younger sister or daughter. "Not to finish to quickly or eating them would be pointless." The demoness pouted.
"That's a good girl."
Ares beamed proudly.
"But akri isn't making them pee their pants playin enough?"
She whines. "You know when the Simi is hungry she don't gots the time to play."
"The Simi?" Xena mouthed to Gabrielle; she frowned when a look of confusion became deeply etched across the other woman's face.
"It's Atlantean, roughly meaning baby."
Now that was just weird. So Ares was treating the demoness as a daughter, not a sister. Honestly the latter would have been less strange.
"However, akri means my Lord and Master."
"Ahh that's more like the bastard."
Xena murmured as they continued to follow the boy towards the strange couple.
"Why Xena," The god who had shown that he had not noticed their approach, stood up correctly and smirked at his former/sometimes lover. "didn't your mother teach you better manners than that?"
Gabrielle couldn't help but be sadden by the change in his demeanor when he looked at them.
It was subtle but she'd known Ares long enough to know that she had never seen him so relaxed and happy as he was while he was speaking with the demoness.
"Of course she did. She also taught me to-" Whatever witty comeback that Xena had been sure to say was shut off by the excited squeal that sounded through the forest.
"Xena? You're Xena? My akri speaks lots about you and the Simi no like how you hurt her akri and she would barbecue you. But my akri says 'No Simi you can't barbecue Xena or her loud mouth friend'."
"Hey!" Gabrielle protested, offended but highly amused by the Simi's rapid-fire and strange way of speaking. Also by the look on Xena's face.
Simi continued on, not at all hearing Gabrielle's cry. "'they be quality people' And the Simi think, quality people that wear leather? The Simi didn't know about that 'cause no quality people wear leather 'cept for the Simi, her akri, Herccie and his nummy curly-haired friend and Strife. Okay, maybe not Strife. Strife is semi-quality people. He can get annoying sometimes, always trying to hog Simi's time with her akri and take her pretty and her sparklies. Simi wants to sauteed him sometimes, but akri say 'no Simi you can't eat Strife, he'll give inny-degstone'. What is inny-degstone?" She asked.
"Umm..." Was all Gabrielle could get out not quite sure how to answer that or if she even should.
Xena just blinked, her hand tightening around her chakram. Not really because the demoness seemed harmful. Well, correction she was. To her eardrums. She stood corrected about there being no one in the world who was perkier and spoke more and faster than Gabrielle.
Simi continued when they didn't answer her, bouncing in place, her wings flapping in her excitement as she chattered on happily. "Simi thinks it means that I shoulda barbecued. Discord, who is quality peoples cause she gives me sparklies, says not to worry about Strife that he's a butt head, which is funny cause his head does look like a squishy butt. Not at all like Herccie's butt which is nice and rounded."
Ares' indulgent smile immediately switched into a deep scowl. "Simi." His tone not at all happy and very much like a father who had quickly reached his limit. "How the hell do you know how Hercules' butt looks like?" He looked as if asking the question would cause him eternal pain.
Simi rolled her eyes.
"Saw him while he was bathing. Mmm-mm good.Duh."
"I'll kill him!"
The listeners were shocked by the vehemence and anger in Ares' tone, all for different reasons. The little boy because he was used to seeing the god smiling and laughing while Gabrielle and Xena because the tone was over coated with an overprotectivness. That wasn't at all related to Xena and power play.
"No you won't akri, 'cause I'll never talk to you again the Simi won't."
"I thought I told you to stay away from that pain in my side."
"The Simi no wanna. Herccie is good to the Simi. He tells her stories ... sure he tells the Simi no more than you do, akri but he's sexy akri. Real nice on the eyes." Came the happy, yet firm, reply.
It was Xena who interrupted the conversation with a crack of laughter. Ares looked like he was suffering from some facial tick and it was the funniest thing she'd ever seen.
Simi turned towards her with a wide grin, while her akri just pinched the bridge of his nose and summoned patience. That war in Carthage he was going to save for the next decade? Yeah, that just got moved up. "This is Xena, right?" She asked the little boy sweetly.
He nodded with a blush and a grin. It seemed as if someone had a crush.
"Yes, Miss Simi."
"Good, good." She clapped her hands together after she patted the little boy on his head and smiled at him.
"Beat it tyke."
The boys eyes widened and he scrambled to his village.
Simi rolled her eyes before asking,
"And you're Gabby, right?"
"The Simi is so glad to meet you even if you're wearing the leather. Like the Simi said before she wanted to barbecue you because you hurt my akri but the Herccie said you be quality people and if the Herccie said so then the Simi gotta believe. You have any sparkly weapons to give to the Simi, the Herccie said you would." The bouncing demoness continued to bounce as she waited expectantly for presents she believed that they had for her.
Xena blinked as the information of the last minutes sunk in. Clearly she had been wrong, and that this was Ares daughter. The way the other female was able to pull emotions that Xena was sure Ares had never even heard of let alone much less capable of; it was near astounding. Apparently Simi knew Hercules and Ioalus and they'd told Simi about her, apparently saving Xena from being eaten. And now the slight thing was waiting for a weapon and the warrior princess didn't like at all the way her chakram was being eyed.
As if sensing the problem Gabrielle slowly made her way to Simi, placing a delicate hand on the pale arm. "How about you show me where the blacksmith in this town is and we'll have him make something special just for you." She said with a smile.
Simi let out a happy squeal as she threw her arms around the human for a bone-crushing hug.
"Good, good. The Simi has so much cool ideas!" She said as she proceed to try and dislocate Gabby's arm as she tugged her towards the village.
Leaving Xena and Ares alone in the woods.
"So ..daughter?" She asked, still with a hint of disbelief and suspicion in her tone.
Ares stiffened but the only people who might have noticed the change were already gone.
"Yup." He nods with a smirk. "Ask Herccie. If you don't believe me."
She would be.
"When did you ... get her?"
"Ahh some millennium ago. The place where she was was crumbling, killed her mother and all her family. She had no one, I was there. I took her in." He stated as if it was as simple as that. And to him it was.
However for Xena, that didn't even touch an appropriate explanation to all the questions she had but it seemed that Ares wasn't inclined to answer them. The bastard. He was already walking towards the village, following the cloud of dust his daughter had left behind in her hurry to go.
Xena hurried to follow him. Even for her long legs, he always seemed to be ahead of her. "How come you never told me?" She asked the question that had been burning in her mind the moment the possibility that Simi might be something good in his life became well, a possibility. She was sure that the question was just one of idle curiosity and not because of some hurt that was from lingering connections.
Ares paused in his stride to give the woman he still loved with all his "blackened" heart a measuring look. And he gave her an honest answer, an honest answer that he knew would be misconstrued as something else. That is why he gave it.
"You never asked."