By Joseph Anderson

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures, etc. No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfic, which may not be sold and if copied must contain all notices of copyright.

This takes place between the episodes The God You Know and You Are There.

No explicit sex or violence but there are adult concepts and language.

Gabrielle tiredly carried the skin of water up from the river. She glanced over at Xena who was brushing Argo. The rest of the camp wasn't set up yet. She looked at their guest who was buffing her fingernails. The bard set the skin down and said, "Don't bother helping. You just sit there."

Aphrodite didn't look up. "Okay, honey."

"I was being sarcastic."

This time the goddess looked at her. "Oh, I know, babe." She smiled and got up. "I was being magnanimous like and overlooking it." Aphrodite picked a small pebble up and carefully set it out of the way. "There!"

Gabrielle looked over at Xena who was watching with a hidden smile. The bard shook her head and proceeded to clear the rest of the stones where the bedrolls would go. "Thank you. That was a big help." The goddess waved her hand airily.

After the camp was made Xena and Gabrielle looked at Aphrodite who was staring dejectedly into the murky forest.

Gabrielle said, "You'll have all your powers back in no time. Right, Xena?"

The Warrior Princess grunted.

"See. Xena says so too."

The goddess smiled wanly at the two mortals. "Sure, honey. You go to sleep now. I know you need your z's."

Xena was taking her sword and scabbard off. She glanced over. "What about you?"

Aphrodite shook her head. "Caligula didn't suck up everything. I'm not mortal, thank you very much!" She shivered, "As if!"

Gabrielle and Xena smiled at each other. The bard said, "Long as you're okay."

"I can use some time alone to think." She looked sharply at the two smirking women. "You got something to say?"

Xena said innocently, "No, no...you get in some quality thinking."

"Mortals...why do I bother with you two?"

"Uh... because we're all you have?" Gabrielle instantly regretted what she said. "Aphrodite, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." Aphrodite was alone because of them...and vulnerable. Caligula was nothing but an incubus who would never dare approach an Olympian if Athena lived let alone Zeus. Approach was the wrong word. A maniac raped Aphrodite thanks to them.

"Don't worry, sugar. Go to bed."

Gabrielle opened her eyes to soft sounds. She looked over and saw Xena was listening as well. Both quietly rose in the moonlight. They found Aphrodite sitting wrapped in a blanket while ghostly images moved in front of her and low voices emanated from the air. She noticed the friends and the images and sounds froze. "Sorry. Didn't mean to wake you guys up."

Xena said, "Go on. It's all right."

"Do you wanna watch this with me?"

The naked need in her voice caught both women unawares. The goddess heard it too and instantly said, "Never mind."

Gabrielle sat beside the goddess. "Please. We'd love to." Xena sat on the other side.

Aphrodite didn't respond but looked back at the image that restarted. The wedding ceremony was progressing. Hera looked haughty and Zeus was a regal presence. Aphrodite commented, "Hera was such a bitch. The way she treated Hephaestus it's a wonder he turned out so good. Had to prove she could have a kid all by herself since Zeus did. When Heppy wasn't a pretty boy she threw him off Olympus. Poor Heppy!"

They watched the limping God of Artisans and the beautiful Goddess of Love kiss and accept congratulations from the other gods. Ares was smirking and Gabrielle realized how much Cupid resembled him. The last to approach the bride and groom was Athena, gleaming helmet pushed up to reveal her bright eyes and perfect face.

Aphrodite said, "I was glad Theny and Heppy put it behind them. It was sticky for a while but they did. For me, I guess." Athena and Hephaestus embraced in a formal way, looked at each other and then really hugged.

Xena asked, "They didn't like each other?"

Aphrodite shrugged. "Athena like totally overreacted to something."

"Erechthonios?" Gabrielle said. Xena looked at her in surprise.

"Yeah," Aphrodite nodded. "It all worked out. Hey, Erechthonios was a great kid. Plus which, Theseus was descended from him. Hello...Athena shoulda thanked Heppy in my humble opinion."

"Oh, come on," Gabrielle said.

"What's the story?" Xena asked.

Aphrodite and Gabrielle looked at each other. The goddess sighed and said, "Theny went to visit Heppy in his workshop...wanted a new sword or something...whatever. He hit on her and she shut him down." She paused and said, "Well, he was really horny...I mean REALLY horny. So he just...you know...came on her."

"What?" Xena said with disbelief.

"You know men. Male gods are like that but way more, even a nice one like Heppy. Like for example, the way I'm cosmically sexier and more beauteous than either of you. I mean, you're hot for mortal chicks but next to me you're a pair of cow flops. Well, male gods are that much hornier than mortal men." She smiled sweetly, hoping they understood. She put it as nicely as she knew how. They were just looking at her. The goddess continued, "Anyways, so Theny was like totally grossed out and ran out of there and threw her cloak on the ground. Cus it, you know, had his Olympic jism on it. Erechthonios was born from that."

"Oh," Xena said.

"Theny was all responsible, like always, and took him as her son."

"Well..." Gabrielle said.

"Okay, so she wasn't thrilled. She gave him to Gaia to take care of, told her to keep him in a box with a couple of snakes and not let anybody know about him."

"That is the most..." Xena started to say.

"Hey!" Aphrodite said. "Theny didn't have to take him at all but she did. And she made sure he was okay. She's a virgin goddess, Xena. That was a big part of her whole gig. All of a sudden she's got this kid because Heppy sprays cum all over her."

"What about Hephaestus?" Gabrielle asked.

Aphrodite shrugged. "What about him? It's the woman's responsibility. I mean, really, it was Athena's fault. She goes alone to Heppy's place. What's he s'posed to think? Virgins...puhleez!"

"Figures," Xena muttered.

"Men are...well...men."

"Bullshit." Xena was disgusted.

"Oh, Lyceus never did that with you, I suppose."

"Never! He was my brother! Just because you gods are a bunch of ..."

Aphrodite held her hands up in mock alarm. "Okay, honey. I know what teenage boys are like. Boy, do I know what teenage boys are like! But okay. If that's your story you stick to it. Though I hafta say, the way you talk about Lyceus...ya gotta wonder."

Aphrodite was oblivious to the look on Xena's face. Gabrielle grabbed her friend's arm and led her a few steps away. She thought Xena's head might explode. She whispered, "Consider the source, Xena. And remember, she saved Eve and me. And you did kill her family." Finally Xena nodded.

The goddess blithely continued, "Anyway, Gaia had him in the box and told her two maids never to open it."

"I see where this is going," Xena said. Her face was still red.

"Yep, dumb bimbos looked in the box. They dropped dead in fright from the snakes. I never got that."

"Extra-scary magic guardian snakes," Gabrielle suggested.

"I guess. Anyway, so the cat was out of the bag, or the baby was out of the box, and Athena acknowledged Erechthonios and brought him to Athens. He grew up and became king. Happy ending."

"Except for those maids scared to death," Gabrielle opined.

"Well, yeah, except for them. But they brought it on themselves, sweet pea. Poetic justice thingy."

The images had been continuing as they spoke showing the wedding reception. Then it changed and revealed two gods in the great throne room on Mount Olympus, Athena and Prometheus. Aphrodite held her hand up freezing it again.

The Warrior Princess studied the goddess. "You don't want to see this?"

"No, you don't want to see this," Aphrodite replied.

Xena looked at the frozen image and then glanced at her friend, "Gabrielle, you know a lot of these stories. Do you know what she's talking about?"

Gabrielle said, "Oh, I'm sure it's nothing. Boy, am I beat! Let's get some shuteye."

Xena looked at her friend and the goddess and then back at the image. "Let me see it."

"Aphrodite's right. Seeing it won't change anything."

"Show it to me. I won't help you until you do."

"Xena..." Gabrielle started to say but the goddess cut her off.

"Fine!" Aphrodite's eyes were angry.

The image restarted. Athena and Prometheus went to stand before Zeus's throne. Prometheus's manner...it rubbed Zeus the wrong way. Prometheus was a Titan, an elder god. He saw the inevitable and supported Zeus. But Prometheus thought Zeus was a punk...Xena could see it. As Zeus tried to look majestic the Titan barely hid his smirk. Athena was listening dutifully to her father. Her mother was Metis, Wisdom, another Titan. A prophecy said a child of Metis would be greater than its father. Zeus tried to avoid Metis because of that but his lust overcame his caution. His own father Cronos had swallowed his children after they were born because of a similar prophecy. Zeus tried to learn from his father's error. When he got Metis pregnant Zeus's solution was to simply swallow her. But eventually Zeus had a headache. To relieve it, Hephaestus split Zeus's head open, freeing Athena who leapt from his brow fully grown and armed. Zeus claimed she was born solely of him. It made Xena cringe. She knew it wasn't metaphoric. She had a strong stomach but picturing all of that was a lot even for her.

Aphrodite said, "Daddy ordered 'em to create humans. He wanted dumb naked animals."

The gods disappeared from the throne room and reappeared on Earth. A third figure joined them, pushing a wheelbarrow full of clay.

"That's Epimetheus, Prometheus's brother. Real moron."

As Athena and Prometheus stood fastidiously aside the other Titan began fashioning a figure out of the clay. After it was crudely wrought Prometheus took over and the crude figure assumed a refined look.

"Here we go," Aphrodite said.

Athena stepped forward and laid her hand on the clay figure's chest. A golden glow emanated from her hand and enveloped the clay man who began to twitch and move.

Xena said, "She created mankind? I thought it was a myth."


The figure was a naked man with matted hair and a body wet and slick with clay. It looked stupidly around and shambled off, clumsily fell and gashed its foot. The thing's eyes held a look of dumb pain as it wept. Epimetheus laughed but Prometheus and Athena were watching with serious faces. They looked at each other and then up at the sky.

"What are we seeing?" Xena asked.

Aphrodite said, "If mortals could think they'd be dangerous. Daddy overthrew Cronos and did not want the same thing happening to him. Crossing Zeus could get you chained in a lake of fire, condemned to bear the world on your back, you get the picture."

Athena and Prometheus spoke quietly; then Athena said something to Epimetheus. His eyes got wide and he shook his head. Prometheus spoke sharply and Epimetheus reluctantly went to get the pathetic naked figure. Terrified, he led the limping crying brute back and then ran away disappearing from view. The naked creature huddled and rocked holding its injured foot. Prometheus raised the figure up. He laid a hand on the forehead and the creature stopped weeping. Prometheus and Athena glanced up at the sky again. There was distant thunder.

The bright-eyed goddess took his face in her hands and studied it. He looked blankly at her. She kissed him on the lips. There was a crack of thunder as lightning struck a tree splitting it. The goddess held her kiss until the creature's eyes widened and she released him. The man looked at her with understanding and fell to his knees. He kissed the hem of her garment. Another bolt of lightning struck near them. He cowered in fright but Athena spread her robe around him. Lighting began hitting all around them with deafening cracks. Glowing armored figures with hidden faces materialized. The two gods calmly waited.

"I've seen enough," Xena said. Her face was red.

Aphrodite sarcastically said, "Ya think so, Xena? This is who you killed to save a mass murdering slut." She waved a hand and the scene froze.

Xena stoically said, "She forced it on me."

Aphrodite snapped, "I know, but you could be a little sad about it. They were my family, Xena. Hephaestus was my husband! You think Hades wanted to kill you? Heppy? Theny? They showered you with gifts your whole mortal friggin life! Where do you think your 'many skills' came from? Huh? You snuff 'em out and never look back!"

"You helped me!" Xena was defensive. It was better not to dwell on bad memories. Considering her past, she knew more than a little on the subject. You put it all in a box, screwed the lid down tight and never let it out. She remembered Erechthonios. Xena imagined Athena inside of Zeus straining to get out. Her mouth tightened. It was different.

Aphrodite looked at the ground. "Yeah, I did help you. Zeus was right: Give mortals minds and they'll kill us. Athena was right: Your kid meant the Twilight. I betrayed Athena like she betrayed Zeus. It's my turn next. I better keep my eye on Bliss." She laughed slightly.

Gabrielle asked, "Do you regret it?"

Aphrodite smiled at her. "No, honey. I'm Goddess of Love. I had to help you just like the Goddess of Wisdom had to help that poor schlump. The instant Zeus commanded the creation of man it was sealed. We're all just following the script. Daddy shoulda known."

Xena said, "I don't accept fate."

The goddess rolled her eyes. "I know, sweetcheeks. You're fated to say that." She glanced back at the images. "Go back to sleep. I'll turn the sound down."

Xena and Gabrielle walked back to their sleeping rolls. Looking back, Gabrielle saw Actaeon surprise Artemis and her attendants bathing. It was an accident but that didn't matter. The goddess would turn the young hunter into a stag. His own hounds tore him to pieces. Aphrodite was quietly crying for her sister.