The water ripples and churns. A series of ficlets. 61 - Do you trust me?
21 May 2007
X/A – season… 3? 4? Definitely post TLW, but pre LDITE (and Animal Attraction, for that matter.)
Mnemosyne's cool, carefully blank expression infuriated Xena.
"What do you mean, Ares is lost?" she said, a crack in her voice escaping her tightly reined control.
Mnemosyne's perfectly graceful gesture indicated Ares, seated on the bedroll beside them, vacant stare fixed on the ground, and Xena felt her bones creak under the strain to stay still and not snap that thin, calm wrist.
"He lost in every sense of the word. Lost in his head, he cannot hear us. Lost in geography, he can not find us. Lost in himself, he cannot remember us."
"Why?" Xena snapped.
"That is my wrong," Mnemosyne admitted. "I was not careful enough in my guarding of the waters of memory, and enough was stolen from my temple to, when ingested, render Ares in this state."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing, I am afraid. I am bound to my temple, where I must continue to protect mankind's memories—"
"You sure did a good job of it."
"I took him to Olympus when I discovered what had happened," the goddess continued, unperturbed, "and Aphrodite suggested that you would be most successful in the task to recover his memories."
Mnemosyne raised a hand and uncurled her fingers. A pebble lay in her palm, smooth and entirely ordinary had patterns of light and dark not swirled across its surface. "This is a fragment of his memory. His sense of self, to be exact. It was all I was able to recover before the water completed its effect."
She held the stone near Ares, and it shattered into a shower of dust that settled into his skin. He stirred and expelled a sharp breath.
"He should be able to function well enough to follow you in your quest now."
"What makes you think—"
"Will you abandon him?"
Xena winced. "No."
"Aphrodite chose you because you care about him. Is this not true?"
"Yes," Xena said quietly. She turned her head to find Ares fixing her with a confused, entirely too open look. "I care."
"Then I will leave you. Thank you, Xena."
"Wait! Who did this to him? How will I find the rest of the pebbles?"
"I am sorry. I do not know."
Xena crouched in front of Ares to catch his attention after Mnemosyne's departure.
"Ares?" she said tentatively.
He blinked at her slowly. "Yeah—" he croaked, and cleared his throat. "Yeah. Who are you?"
She stood quickly so he wouldn't see her face. Reaching into Argo's saddlebag, she pulled out her water-skin and tossed it at him, flinching when he fumbled and dropped it on the ground.
Ares screwed the cap back onto the skin. "I heard you talking to the other person. About regaining memories. You were talking about me, weren't you?"
She reached out a hand to help him to his feet. "Yes. I'm here to help…" she paused when her palm began glowing. A hazy outline of a pebble appeared and quickly filled in with the familiar shifting patterns.
When it was complete, Ares took it from her hand. It immediately exploded into the dust that melted into his skin.
He looked up at her. "That was… trust," he said uncertainly.
His eyes widened, and a slow smile grew on his face. "I remember you, Xena."
She nodded, relief coursing through her veins. "Good. We've got more of those to find."
"Okay. I trust you."
-To be continued.-
AN: We are nearing the end of the series.