Sweet Child Of Mine
"War is the Father and King of all." - Heraclitus
The room was dark. The roaring flames in the fireplace cast the only light in the room. The midwife gently stroked the face of the young woman on the bed. “Soon, my dear, very soon.” She said calmly, though she was more nervous than she cared to show. It had been a difficult labor from the beginning and the birth was going to be worse. It was time. The child was not going to wait much longer to view it’s New World. “Push!” The midwife commanded.
The screams of the young woman seemed to echo through the walls and carry on for miles after. Hours later, the midwife presented the young woman with a beautiful baby girl with midnight hair and crystal green eyes. The infant seemed so peaceful for the pain that the mother had gone through. The relatively peaceful silence was broken by footsteps coming down the hall into the room. A tall man dressed in all black appeared in the arch of the doorway. He calmly walked over to the bedside and looked down at the mother and sleeping infant. An all too uncommon smile spread across his face. He reached down and lightly touched the baby’s face. Suddenly he felt a cold hand on his arm and turned around to see the midwife standing there with a distressed look on her face.
“I am sorry my Lord, but I’m afraid that she is dying.” The midwife gave another affectionate look then turned away. The man’s face went from a warm expression to the cold hard surface it usually was. He sat down on the edge of the bed.
The young woman lightly opened her eyes; she smiled when she saw him. “Isn’t she beautiful?” She said in a very weak voice.
The man smiled once again. “Yes, she is. Very beautiful.”
The young woman closed her eyes again. “You have to promise me that you will be there for her, Ares. Be a father to her, not just some name.” Ares looked once again at the sleeping child nestled in her mother’s arms.
“I swear to you by the River Styx that she will know her father.” The young woman opened her eyes once again and reached her hand out to him. Ares gladly took it in his; she then closed her eyes for the final time.
The halls of the temple, to most, would be cold and uninviting, and Jade stood in the massive throne room remembering the hours of the childhood trouble she invoked here. It was mostly at Strife’s expense. A sad look suddenly came over her face. She didn’t realize how much he had meant to her until Callisto killed him. “What’s wrong?” Ares questioned placing a hand on her shoulder.
I was just reminiscing. That’s all.” Ares smiled, slipping past her and taking a seat on the throne.
“You can’t live in the past, Jade.”
“I know, father.” She sighed heavily. “I was just.... I don’t know. Why is it that you wanted to see me?”
“When you decided to leave the safety of my temple, I agreed because I didn’t want you to feel like a prisoner. I promised your mother before she died that I would take care of you.” Ares said sliding into his throne. She smiled, watching her father settle into his great throne. She could remember so clearly when she was small coming into this very room and finding him in one of his foul moods. Strife would hide behind the pillars in hope that Ares wouldn’t take a shot at him. She would fearlessly walk into the throne room in the direct path of her father’s brooding figure. With no fear, she crawled into his lap. More times than not, his massive arms would wrap around her and she would settle there and fall asleep. A flash of white light shortly interrupted the fond memory. A woman in a tight black dress and pale face appeared next to her father’s throne.
“Discord. What an unexpected surprise.” Ares said with wicked glee.
“I see the brat’s here.”
Jade clenched her fist and gave Discord an evil glare. She refused to let her aunt downplay her like that. After all, she was the daughter of the God of War. “Discord, I have something I want you to do for me.”
Discord rolled her eyes. “What is it?” she huffed.
“Take this to Dagnois, everything else will be explained.” Ares replied, handing Discord a rolled-up piece of parchment.
Jade crossed her arms, “Bye-bye, Auntie.” Jade said sarcastically. Discord left with a huff and a flash of light. Jade couldn’t help herself and smiled. Ares gave her a stern look.
“I really wish that the two of you would get along.”
“Then you should start with her. If she hadn’t tried to kill me when I was nine, maybe there wouldn’t be such hostility between us.” Jade smiled one more time before becoming serious again. “Dad...”
“I know. Where were we?” Ares murmured “All I’m saying is I don’t want you to go through life without doing something. You can’t just wander the rest of your life.”
Jade walked up to her father, his dark features mirroring some of her own, and sat down on his lap like when she was little. “Don’t worry Daddy, I won’t. I’ll find something to do for the rest of my life.” She hugged him tight; his beard tickled her face and made her smile.
Ares looked at her. “I need you to do something very special for me.”
Dawn had just broke, and the forest was full of noise. This was Iolaus’ favorite time to hunt. It was so peaceful. After the trouble with Dahak, he needed the peace and quiet. It had been way too long since the Golden Hunter had been able to do this. If it wasn’t one adventure, it was something else. He stopped and cleared his head of the bad memories. This was his day, and by the gods, he was going to enjoy himself. He heard a twig snap behind him. He slowly turned around and aimed. The arrow went flying into the brush. Iolaus went chasing after it. He pushed through the brush to the clearing. The arrow was sticking out of the oak tree in front of him. Puzzled, he looked around. Nothing... He thought. Another twig snapped and something struck him in the back of the knees. Iolaus fell flat on his back. When he opened his eyes, he saw a young blonde woman standing over him. Her Amazon war staff pointed directly at his throat.
“Gabrielle?” Gabrielle quickly removed her staff and helped Iolaus up. “I am so sorry, Iolaus, but I thought you were,” She smiled “well...someone else.”
His heart pounded against his chest. “No...I should be the one to apologize. I almost…” He could barely get the words out. Gabrielle was lost. Then she saw the arrow sticking out of the tree.
“Don’t worry, I was already hiding when that happened.” She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He looked deep into her eyes. She had this way of putting everything at ease. It almost scared him the way she made him feel.
“So, where’s Xena?” Iolaus asked, quickly changing the subject.
“I don’t know. She said she had something important to do and told me to wait in town for her. Where’s your hero?”
Iolaus chuckled. “He’s in town visiting a friend.” He placed an arm around Gabrielle’s shoulders. “I bet if we hurry, we can get some breakfast.”
“Great! I’m starving.”
They started walking towards town. Gabrielle began to relate the latest events in her life as they walked, trying to get through them all so she could listen to some of Iolaus’ stories.
The small house was alive with the sound of laughter. A dark headed child played with a ball outside. It almost saddened Hercules. He tried not to think about his own children, but at times like this, it was almost impossible. "Are you all right?” a voice called to him.
“I’m fine, Nemesis. Are you sure you don’t need any help?”
She came out of the house smiling. “No.” She took a seat next to Hercules. “He really enjoys you being here.”
“I know. I just wish there was more I could do.”
She placed a hand on his arm. “You’re doing all you can by just spending time with him.” The child made a sudden turn and ran to the porch where Nemesis and Hercules sat.
“I want to go exploring.” The child said.
“I don’t know, Evander." Nemesis sighed.
“I don’t see what harm it could do.” Hercules gave her a sympathetic look. He understood her fear of Ares coming after Evander again, but Evander needed the freedom, too.
“Oh, all right. But don’t go too far.” The child, as soon as hearing the words, was off down the path that led to the woods.
Evander followed the path deep into the woods, probably farther than his mother wanted him to go. He stopped and looked around he was deeply intrigued by the sights and sounds that this place had to offer. He watched the birds flying high and the rabbits running. Evander then froze dead in his tracks. Before him stood a black wolf. The wolf’s yellow eyes seemed to glow, but he did not act like he was going to attack him. “Don’t worry, he won’t harm you.” A woman’s voice called from behind some trees. She came out of her hiding spot. She was dressed in a short black skirt and top. Her midnight hair flowed down her back and her green eyes shined. She carried a silver bow and had a quiver of arrows across her back.
“I’m sorry Orion scared you. He really is gentle.” She ran a hand across the wolf’s ear and patted him on the head.
“My mother told me not to talk to strangers.” Evander said, still mesmerized by the wolf.
“Well then, my name is Jade and you have already met Orion. What’s your name?”
“Evander.” “All right, we're no longer strangers. Would you like to walk with me?”
“No, I have to go home.” He sounded disappointed. “Hopefully, the Fates will let us see each other again.” Jade reassured him.
Evander ran off. He couldn’t wait to tell Hercules about the wolf.
Jade watched him run home. Her face was emotionless.
"You just blew it, brat.” A voice came from a near by tree.
“I don’t think so, Discord.” “That little goon is going to tell his mommy, Nemesis, and uncle Hercules that he saw you. Last time I checked, you weren’t in good graces with either of them.”
“Neither are you. Anyway, he’s not going to tell them he saw me, he’s going to tell them that he saw a black wolf. That’s all.” Jade waited a few minutes to let it sink in. “When is Dagnois army marching through here?” She asked.
“Tonight. Why?” “You tell him that Nemesis and her son are mine. I’ve got a score to settle.”
The sun set low over the hills. Gabrielle was sitting in front of the fire telling Evander the story of how the Xena and Hercules had broken the chains that bound Prometheus and returning his gifts to mankind.
“Evander, it’s time for bed.” His mother called to him. Evander reluctantly got up and followed his mother into his bed room. After Evander left, Iolaus took a seat next to Gabrielle.
“I wonder where Herc is.”
As if on cue, Hercules threw open the door. He was slightly out of breath and his eyes were alert. “Dagnois’ army is marching on the valley.”
“What?!” Iolaus jumped up. “I thought he was two valleys over.”
“What’s wrong?” Nemesis asked.
“A Warlord is marching on the village.” Nemesis nearly collapsed under the weight of the words. Hercules gave her a steady arm and helped her sit down.
“Don’t worry, Iolaus and I will head him off. I don’t think he’ll even make it out here.”
“I’ll stay with you.” Gabrielle chimed in. In his mind, Iolaus let out a sigh of relief. He knew Gabrielle could take care of herself and had been in some serious battles, but he also they didn’t call Dagnois a butcher for nothing.
In all honesty, Hercules thought, if Xena hadn’t shown up... He suddered at the thought of what might've happened as he watched Xena bandage Iolaus’ shoulder.
“We need to get back to Nemesis and Gabrielle.” Iolaus said, wincing as Xena pulled the bandage tighter.
“I sent a messenger to tell them that we’re on the way.” Hercules said propping his left leg on a rock.
“HERCULES!” A young boy yelled from the across the field. Hercules grabbed the boy as he ran toward them.
“Nemesis...the house...burned to the ground...” All their faces went pale.
Smoke was still coming of the wrecked ashes of the small cottage. Gabrielle ran straight into Iolaus’ arms. Her face and clothes were darkened with soot. Blood was dried on her left temple. "I couldn’t save her...” She sobbed into Iolaus’ shoulder.
“It’s all right, Gabrielle.” Xena tried to comfort her.
“Just try to tell us what happened.” Hercules said.
“Everything was fine after you left...Nemesis had calmed down, and I was telling her about the time when you and Hercules met -with some editing-.” She added that for Iolaus’ benefit. “When all of a sudden the door burst open,” She placed a hand on her forehead.
“What happened after that?” She looked into Iolaus’ blue eyes. “I don’t know. I can’t remember. All I know is that I couldn’t save her...”
“What about Evander?”
“He wasn’t in the house.” “What?”
“I know it’s weird, but I have a feeling that he wasn’t in the house when it went up.”
Hercules sat alone on the hill. He stared out into empty space. Burying Nemesis had caused the memories of his family's death to resurface, and all he wanted to do at that moment was to be alone with his thoughts. He was grateful though, that Gabrielle was right and Evander wasn’t in the house. He couldn’t possibly think how he’d be if they'd found him in there.
"Are you all right?” Xena’s voice came from behind him.
“I will be.”
She sat down next to him, but didn’t say anything else. She understood what he was going through, and wanted him to feel that she was here for him with out prying. “I found this just outside the house.” She finally said after a long period of silence. She handed him an arrow. As soon as he saw it he took it from her. “Come on, we have to talk to Iolaus.”
“Do you recognize it?” Hercules said holding up the arrow in front of Iolaus’ face. Iolaus took a good look at the arrow.
“I don’t believe it.” He took the from Hercules. The tip was of solid silver imbedded into a black shaft with dark green feathers. “She couldn’t have killed Nemesis.”
“No Herc, I know Jade, and she couldn't have killed her.”
“Who’s Jade?” Gabrielle asked looking up at Hercules and Iolaus.
Hercules sighed. “She’s Ares’ daughter.”
“Jade’s loyalties maybe with her father, but she’s not a cold-blooded killer.” Iolaus crossed his arms in front of his chest.
“She is Ares’ daughter. She would bend over backwards to appease him! Even if it means killing the innocents.” Hercules words cut through Iolaus like a knife.
“And you didn’t try to do that with Zeus?” Iolaus picked up his sword and walked off into the woods.
Gabrielle and Xena both stood speechless as they watched Iolaus storm off. Hercules sighed heavily.
That was smart. He thought, and then looked over at the two women.
“Sit down, and I’ll try to explain.” He steadied himself on a fallen tree trunk.
Jade watched as some of Daginos’ men passed through an area of the forest where she and Evander just been. She carefully aimed at the leader on the horse. The arrow imbedded itself in his chest, knocking him down. The other soldiers continued to look through the brush, as if nothing had happened.
Wrapping her cloak around Evander, who was still asleep, she mounted the horse and road off. She stopped the horse and looked back. Daginos’ men were no where in sight. She slid down off the horse. “Are you all right?” She looked up at Evander, who was still rubbing his eyes. “There’s a stream just over the ridge. We can have something to eat, all right?” He nodded. She lead the horse over the ridge and helped Evander off. “Sit here.” She pointed to a large rock. Evander sat crossed legged on the rock and watched Jade pull a spear off the horse.
“I hope you like fish.” She pulled off her boots and wadded into the water.
“I love them. Uncle Iolaus was trying to teach me how to fish, but I don’t think I’m any good.” Jade turned around and smiled at Evander. It had been a while since she had thought about Iolaus. It was a memory she didn’t mind stumbling across every once in a while.
“I’m sure all you need is practice.” She through the spear. Picking it up out of the water admiring the three large fish at the end of it.
“You were always good at that.” A familiar voice called out.
“Uncle Iolaus!” Evander shouted and hopped off the rock.
Iolaus smiled at him. “Why don’t you go get us some sticks for a fire?” Evander smiled and ran off.
“How did you find us?” She asked, resting the spear on her shoulder.
“Luck, I guess. Jade, Hercules is looking for you.”
“He thinks I killed Nemesis, doesn’t he?” She asked as she waded out of the water.
Iolaus pulled the arrow out of his belt. “We found this.”
“That doesn’t mean I killed her.” She placed the spear against the rock.
“I know that.”
“I saved Evander and tried to save Nemesis. I knew what was going to happen long before it did. Unfortunately, Discord was a step ahead of me. She was the one who caused the house to burn.”
She gave him a half-hearted smile. “She’s going to use this to turn my father against me. Discord can’t kill me, but she can lie and have me killed.” Iolaus looked into her green eyes. For as long as he had known Jade, she had never been afraid, but he knew he saw fear in her eyes.
The sun set, and Evander had fallen asleep. “I can’t believe he’s asleep again, after you said he’s been out of it for most of the day.” Iolaus said placing a blanket over him. “I don’t think the Morphus sleep has warn off yet. At least I think that’s what Discord used.”
“It would explain Gabrielle’s memory loss.”
She gave him a grin, “Do you love her?” He only looked at her. “The only reason I asked is I heard her mention your name when I pulled her out of the house.” I don’t know. We have so much in common, and I feel so different around her...” He sat down next to Jade.
“I know what you’re thinking. We were over long ago.” She placed a hand on his face.
“We were forced to be over.” “Look at me, Iolaus! If I had come out at first and told you that Ares was my father, would you have even given me the time of day?”
“I don’t know.”
“Admit it. You wouldn’t have. Of all the gods, next to Hera, Hercules hates my father the most.” Iolaus looked at her. She was right, he probly would have run if he knew in the beginning. She leaned back against the large rock and looked out over the water. “I could block your memories.” Iolaus looked at her. The fire light graced her face, he remembered how amazed he was to find out how much power she had.
“I know you could.” He was quiet for a moment. “...But let's not talk about this anymore tonight, all right?” Jade smiled. She was glad he didn’t want to bring up the subject again.
The sun rose over the ridge. Iolaus slowly sat up and looked around the camp site. Evander was still asleep, spraled out across from him. Jade’s bedroll was empty.
She must be looking for breakfast. He stood up and stretched. “Evander.” Iolaus knelt down and lightly touched him on the shoulder. “Come on, wake up.” The young boy flopped over and rubbed his eyes. He smiled up at Iolaus and then looked over his shoulder and gave a bigger smile.
“I thought you would’ve been here sooner.” Iolaus called over his shoulder.
Hercules sighed and leaned against a tree. “You needed a chance to cool off.” Hercules looked at Evander. “Where did you find him?” Iolaus stood up and looked at Hercules. He knew what he was going to say when he told him that it had been Jade who had saved Evander.
“Iolaus, hunting was scarce. I guess we’re going to...” Jade stopped when she saw Hercules.
“I see.” He said looking form Iolaus to Jade.
“No, you don’t.” Jade spat. Xena and Gabrielle appeared behind Hercules when they heard the argument.
“Evander, why don’t you go with Gabrielle?” Xena asked the young boy. Gabrielle took his hand and walked away. Jade looked at Xena. Then back at Hercules.
“I’ll leave, now.” She turned and walked toward the horse.
“Not until you pay for what you did to Nemesis.” Xena drew her sword.
“Xena, you don’t want to do that.” Iolaus looked at the two women. Ignoring Iolaus, Xena took a running start at Jade. Jade slowly turned around and held her hand straight out. It was as if something hit Xena in the stomach, sending her flying backwards.
“I didn’t kill Nemesis! Why would I want to take that away from Evander?”
She mounted the horse. “She'll be fine in a few minutes.” She said, looking down at Xena. Jade turned the horse around.
“Jade, wait!” Iolaus called after her. Jade closed her eyes for a moment and kicked the horse into a gallop. Iolaus looked down at Hercules, who was helping Xena up.
“Go...I’m not going to stop you.” He sighed. Iolaus ran off after Jade.
“You didn’t tell me she could do that.” Xena said, standing up. Hercules checked to see if she had any broken ribs.
“I think you’re going to be fine.” He took a breath. “I didn’t know she could do that. Jade doesn’t use her power all that much, so I’m not sure what exactly she can do.”
“What did she mean when she said she didn’t want to take Nemesis away from Evander?” As if it was for the first time, Hercules looked at Xena.
“Jade’s mother died in childbirth.”
Jade wasn’t sure when the rain had started, her mind was somewhere else with no time to think about that. Through the sheets of rain, Jade saw a light in what seemed like a house. As she got closer, the house turned into a barn. “I hope the owners don’t mind if we stay the night.” She patted the horse on the neck. She pushed through the barn doors and pulled the into a stall.
“You half-gods have got to learn to slow down.”
“I don’t see why. Some mortals have no problems keeping up.” She smiled at him. "Why did you follow me, Iolaus?”
Iolaus walked over to her. He pushed a strand of wet hair out of her face. “You can read minds...you tell me.”
She leaned in and kissed him, long and slow, savoring the moment. The last time they had kissed like that was to say good-bye. She let her hands travel up his arms and rest on his shoulders. Her fingers curled around a blonde ringlet. “Don’t do this, Iolaus.” His arms tightened around her waist, pulling her closer. All sense of will power left her as he kissed her again. Without thinking, his hands found the laces to her bodice, and tugging gently, they came undone. Gently, he picked her up and carried her into the next stall.
“This was a mistake.” Jade said, sitting up on her elbow. She placed a hand on Iolaus' bare chest.
He smiled up at her. “Maybe...but I have to admit, it’s one of my better ones.”
“Iolaus, I’m serious. I’m going to, if not already, be in deep with my father. Who knows what Discord has told him.” She rolled over and got up to put her clothes back on. Jade walked out into the main part of the barn. Iolaus wrapped the blanket around him and followed her.
“Jade.” Ares’ voice filled the entire barn. In a flash of light, Ares stood in front of her.
“Father, I was just on my way to the temple.” “I bet. All I asked was for you to go and protect Evander from Discord, and what do I hear, you killed Nemesis and burned the house down. Ares looked over her shoulder at Iolaus. “And this doesn’t help you any. I try to be a good father. I protect you and take care of you, then you go and disappoint me like this.” Ares let a lighting bolt fly, hitting Iolaus square in the chest.
“Come here, we have to talk, privately.” Ares grabbed Jade around the throat and then they disappeared.
Iolaus strolled back to the village. Hercules was clearing the rest of the rubble away. To Iolaus’ surprise, Hercules smiled at him when he saw him.
“She...well, Ares wanted a private talk with her.” Hercules gave Iolaus a worried look. “She’ll be fine.” Iolaus reassured him. I hope.
“Did you find a home for Evander?”
Hercules smiled. “Yeah, Jason said he’d look after him.”
“Jason?” Iolaus smiled. “Isn’t he a little too...old to um, look after a little boy?”
“He’s going to have help. I told him that we’d stay a week or more every month to help.”
Hercules placed a hand on Iolaus’ shoulder. “Come on, I told Xena and Gabrielle we’d meet them at the tavern.”
The hunter looked out the tavern’s window at the midnight sky. “Iolaus?”
“Hmm?” He turned to see Gabrielle standing next to him.
“You’re thinking about her aren’t you?”
“She isn't a murder, Gabrielle.”
“I know.” She placed a hand on his shoulder. “Hercules changed his mind, too.”
“After Jade reminded him how her mother died. I couldn’t imagine it. I mean look at Jade and Evander. From what I hear, they are nothing like Ares.”
Iolaus smiled. “Don’t be so certain, Evander and Jade both have their mean streaks.”
“Do you think you’ll see her again?”
“I don’t know.” He smiled again to himself and placed an arm around Gabrielle’s shoulders.
“Let’s go join the rest of society.”
The characters of Iolaus, Xena, Hercules, Gabrielle, Evander, Jason, Ares and Discord are all
property of Renaissance Pictures and the show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior
Princess. No infringement is intended. This story was inspired by the H:TLJ episode "Two Men and A Baby" and by
CCAmazon's Ares-crazed Smithsonian roomate. Thank you!