by Joseph Anderson

Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renaissance Pictures and King Features. No copyright infringement is intended with this fan fiction, which may not be sold and must contain notice of copyright.

This vignette takes place after the episode Amphipolis Under Seige.

Xena hurried along the forest path, wanting to get back to her baby. She knew Eve should be all right with Gabrielle and Joxer, of course. But danger was everywhere. She carried the two rabbits she had caught. Entering the camp her heart stopped. Running up she dropped the game and knelt by the bard who, along with Joxer, was slumped against a tree asleep

“What happened?” she said frantically and grabbed at her friend, who didn’t wake up.

“Hi hon, what’s shaking? They’re okay…I just wanted to see who all the fuss was about.”

Xena whirled and felt sick. It was Aphrodite with Eve cradled in her arms. One of the gods….a god who was going to die because of her daughter…had her.

“Please…” Xena whispered pathetically. She’d managed to protect her baby from the armies of Artemis and Apollo, and even Athena herself. She’d tricked Ares into turning on his family to help her. Hercules had killed his own father Zeus to protect Eve. But one of them had her…one of THEM had her… “Please Aphrodite….” What argument could she use? Didn’t a goddess have the same right to self defense as anyone else?

Aphrodite appeared surprised. Walking up she held the baby out and Xena snatched her away. She examined Eve, suspecting a trick.

The beautiful deity said, “You told Athena she was the only god you respected. Figured you were just feeding her a line.” She looked away, pulling her gown close around her as if she were embarrassed to be so exposed. Then she said in a voice with more than human pain, “What’d I ever do to you? I played some harmless games because I liked you. I never hurt you. I never hurt anybody. Remember, Love Goddess…duh!” She stamped her feet and demanded angrily, “You think I’d hurt your baby? Who you LOVE. Get it? Why do you think you even feel that way about her? Or feel that way about Gabrielle and your mother? Because of ME! I invented love and then I put it into the hearts of people. And you're afraid to let me near your baby?”

Xena held Eve tightly, the words searing her. “I…I…”

“Yeah, whatever,” Aphrodite said shortly. “Artemis’s army is coming after you again but don’t worry. Heppy’s sending his own army to stop ‘em. He’s another god you don’t have any use for, I bet. Poseidon sent one too but I’ve got’em all too busy banging each other to cause you any problems.”

“Aphrodite…” Xena started to say. She heard her friends stir, then make frantic sounds and run up beside her.

“Don’t do this!” Gabrielle said vehemently to the goddess. Xena cringed.

The Love Goddess said, “You too, huh?”

“I’ll bet you’re here to help us,” Joxer said hopefully. Gabrielle made a snorting sound at his stupidity.

Aphrodite smiled and reached a hand out to stroke his cheek murmuring, “my boy, Joxer.” She looked in Xena’s red face. “Gotta bail.”

The warrior princess asked, “Will we see you again?” Gabrielle looked with surprise at her friend.

Aphrodite said, “I dunno, Xena. I dunno how long I have and there’s a lot to do while I still can. Trying to set up stuff so I don't have to be there. It’s been real.” The goddess blew a glowing kiss that landed on the baby's forehead. Then she disappeared in a flash.

“Xena, what is it? Why do you look like that?” Gabrielle asked her friend. She looked at Joxer who was staring at the ground, holding his cheek where Mighty Aphrodite had touched him.

The End