Author Topic: Wise Counsel (AU)  (Read 605 times)

Ayden

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Wise Counsel (AU)
« on: February 14, 2014, 07:40:18 AM »
[size=9]November 18th, 2012[/size]

The Amazon was teeming with life, even at night, as the creatures of the day took their rest, and the creatures of the night came alive, all of them vying for survival in the wild untamed beauty that was still untouched by mankind. One creature stood apart from the rest in his solitary, self-imposed isolation. One creature who was different from all the rest, neither man nor beast. One creature who had been born of a race so old they had nearly been forgotten by the rest of creation, fading from the memories of men long ago. They had waited long to return to power, to return to the hearts and minds of men. One of them had come to call the Amazon his home, and it was there he had waited for the great war between heaven and hell to be finished, and for men to remember. It was there he now rested,along with the creatures of the forest he so loved, weary and wounded and heartsick with worry over a woman he was slowly starting to love.

He had laid himself down on the cool grass to rest, but unable to sleep, laid awake staring up at the stars in the night sky, wondering if he was doing the right thing, choosing the right path; wondering if the future that had been foretold to him would surely come to pass, or if he was fated to be forever alone, forever an outcast from his own kind, forever apart.

Few beings make such an impression upon a place as an Olympian. It was virtually impossible to miss the arrival of any of his kind close by, but this visitor was particularly difficult to ignore. Tall and beautiful, but filled with a steel will few could consistently stand against - even her husband had given in, finally - Hera emerged from the darkness around her eldest son, looking down at him expectantly. "I really do wish you and your father could at least hold a civil conversation every now and then," she commented mildly. "Not that I mind being the bearer of news. It's the only chance I have to see you at all these days."

"Mother!" Ares exclaimed, rolling quickly to his feet, obviously startled by this sudden and unexpected visit from her, of all people. He had not yet found a shirt to replace the torn and bloodied one he'd left with Ayden, the wound incurred in his scuffle with the Fates not yet healed. "What are you doing here?" he asked, not displeased to see her, but presuming she had most likely come to scold him about one thing or another.

"Is a mother not allowed to visit her son?" Hera asked him pointedly, though he was right about there being an ulterior motive. She had not, however, come to scold him, but to bring a suggestion as to how he might, finally, win back his father's approval. "Don't think your activities have gone unnoticed, Ares. The breaking of the Fates has sent ripples through the world, consequences that are long overdue."

"Is it enough to make up for Troy?" he asked, unable to hide the bitterness from his voice. He thought it had been long enough that his sins and mistakes should be forgiven by now, but Zeus was not one to forgive easily. "There is still one left," he reminded her, though without her sisters, Clotho's power had been severely diminished.

Hera's expression darkened momentarily at the mention of Troy. That particular disaster had begun with an insult she had taken deeply to heart, which was why Ares had been pulled into it in the first place. He had always been a good son to her, and her past mistakes had plunged him into any number of bad situations. She brushed that aside, however, leveling her silvery gaze on her eldest child. "I would suggest that destroying the Spinner will gain, if not Zeus' love, then his gratitude. It would be a good place to start. If you then present him with a mortal worthy of you to be your consort, you may yet regain your welcome on Olympus."

Her suggestion caused his expression to change, a brief look of surprise on his face before it was quickly hidden behind a mask of grief and bitterness. He knew he'd made plenty of mistakes, but what father does not forgive their own child and welcome them home, after a time? "Did he send you to speak for him, or did you come of your own accord?" Ares asked as he settled himself back upon the cool grass.

"We have discussed it," she informed him, though that hardly answered his question. She had been working on Zeus for millenia to forgive the mistakes of their past reign, but only now, with Hades threatening to destroy the Earth they loved so well, had the King of the Olympians begun to soften in his view of those children who had stood against him at one time or another. A sharp look lanced down to Ares. "I do not act as messenger for any being, as you well know."

That was little answer, and he had to assume that she had come of her own accord. Was his father so ashamed of his son that he would not come see him for himself, or was he just too proud? Ares' demeanor softened at his mother's reply. He had no reason to be angry with her, though she had not always been pleased with him in the past. "I have only ever wished to please him and make him proud," Ares pointed out. "I do not know why he hates me so."

"Because you are the living testament who laid down judgement on his infidelities in my defense," Hera told him, her voice quiet but strong in the deafening stillness of the rainforest around them. "You stood for me and my honor when he could do nothing but insult and degrade me, and though you have fallen, you drew yourself up once more before he ever considered such an action for himself. We are petty in our jealousies, Ares, and your father can be pettier than most."

"I am not jealous any longer, Mother," he admitted, gravely. He'd had millenia to think on things and to reflect on his choices. Yes, he'd been jealous of Hephaestus; his love for Aphrodite had been true, and he'd felt cheated of that love by his own father and disgraced in front of his own people. And yes, he'd been jealous of Athena. He had felt it had been his rightful place to be his father's champion, and yet Zeus had favored a daughter not born of Hera over his eldest son. But all of that was in the past and no longer mattered. What Ares wanted now was to prove his own worth and be allowed to make his own choices and live his own life, not as an outcast, but as an Olympian.

"You have made a good beginning," his mother told him, as certain of that as she could ever have been. "You have his attention. But to leave a battle undecided, unfinished - to leave an enemy free and unhampered by injury or mutilation - these are not the ways of the God of War. Whether your heart has been touched or not, you cannot allow it to soften you in war. The Spinner must die."
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Ayden

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Re: Wise Counsel (AU)
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 07:41:30 AM »
She was only telling him what he already knew. The battle was not yet over; indeed, it had only just begun. "I know," he agreed. "And I will do it. Alone." This was one battle he did not want to get Ayden or anyone else involved in. It was too dangerous, and she was too precious to him.

The fate of entire nations had been known to turn on the cusp of just such a decision. There was knowledge in Hera's smile, knowledge she did not share for she knew he would discover it on his own in time. "She has grown well," she said then, seeming to change the subject to offer her own approval. "A little reluctant when it comes to change, perhaps, but I am sure you will be able to work on her there. Do tell me when you'd like the archangel removed. I'm sure it can be arranged."

Ares quirked a brow at his mother's insight. So, she'd been watching him, at least, and already knew about Ayden. He wasn't sure why he should be surprised by that, really. "The archangel," he echoed, frowning in obvious distaste. "It is complicated, Mother. She is troubled by disturbing dreams and nightmares - visions - and it is only the archangel who keeps them at bay."

"It is only the power that radiates from him," she corrected him thoughtfully. "Tell me, how do you think Apollo kept his Pythia at Delphi from succumbing to madness? He was never there in person, but each of those women was connected to him. You have laid your mark on her, Ares. If the archangel was to die tomorrow, I do not believe she would be in too much danger." She turned to meet his gaze once again. "Of course, you do know the answer that will guarantee her absolute control over what she sees and what she does not."

There was that look of surprise on his face again, not so much shocked that she'd instigate the death of an archangel, as there was no love lost between their races, but that she was so obviously hinting at the very same solution he had already come to regarding Ayden's visions. "Are you saying she does not need Gabriel any longer?"

"Not as such, no," Hera agreed, still pensive in thought as she held his gaze. "Without his influence, her visions will become more intense, certainly, but her sanity will not be threatened unless you abandon her without giving her protection to another of us. I am not entirely familiar with the ways of the seer, but this one was born to a world that was dominated by Heaven and Hell. It may take a change of an entirely fresh kind for her to be able to control her gift."

"What kind of change?" Ares asked further. He'd already had a few thoughts of his own, but wasn't sure what the other Olympians might think or if they'd be willing to help, especially that of his father. He believed that obtaining his mother's help, however, was the first step on the right path.

"The kind that gave your son a wife, despite his mother's interference," the Queen of the Olympians said calmly, carefully not making overt mention of their race's greatest and most closely kept secret. Though it had made its way into a few of the myths that humanity treasured, most other supernatural beings considered the nectar of the gods to be some form of metaphor, and Hera was happy for it to remain so. "You should know what I'm talking about. Your sister takes care of it, after all."

For the second time since she'd arrived, she hinted at a way to solve Ayden's problem with which he was in complete agreement, except for one small problem. Ayden had only known him a few days. What if she said no? "It's too soon," he explained. Though it wasn't too soon for him, he thought it would be too soon for Ayden.

"Of course it is." His mother turned to face him fully, meeting his gaze with those wise eyes of hers. Though she had gained a fearsomely bad reputation in many ways over the millenia, Hera was, first and foremost, a devoted wife and mother, with all the wisdom and patience such roles entailed. She was the truest example of the matriarch the Olympians had.

"I advise you to approach things differently this time," she told him through a half-smile. "Court her as a mortal might. Give her your time, your thoughts, your affection, but do not smother her with them. Every woman needs time alone, to understand her feelings, her desires. The time you spend apart from her is as valuable as the time you are with her - it is then that she will begin to understand how she needs you. You must exercise patience, Ares. She is young in the world, yet she knows the world's greatest secrets. She needs a confidante, a friend, and yes, a lover, who will not ask her for the only thing she has that is all her own until she is ready to give it. Do not hide your flaws. A seer will see far more if you lay yourself open to her, and love you better for those flaws you embrace as your own."

She paused then, holding his gaze to make absolutely certain he took in what she then said. "Perfection is nothing to a mortal heart. She is not Aphrodite."

"I am far from perfect, as you well know," he quickly pointed out, slowly absorbing what she was telling him, though her advice confused him a little. "How can I protect her if I am not with her?" he asked, though this was only one thing that confused him.

"You will never be far," his mother told him, fully aware of what he had already done to connect himself with the object of his hopes. "You have marked her with yourself. As her heart grows stronger in love for you, there will come a time when she does not even need to say your name for you to know that she needs you. Watch her all you like, shadow her every hour of every day, but do not let her know it. The illusion of privacy with her thoughts and emotions is a special gift that you can give her."

"But is that not deceitful? I do not wish to build a relationship on deceit, but honesty. Truth, love, loyalty, fidelity. I do not wish to be like..." He broke off before naming any names, though his mother would more than likely know he had his father chiefly in mind. He frowned further, as he tried to make sense of what she was telling him. Though he'd had many lovers, he had never really courted a woman, and he had never had a wife.
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Ayden

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Re: Wise Counsel (AU)
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 07:42:17 AM »
"Ares, if you are with her every moment of every day, she will never know if she loves you," Hera told him bluntly. "You must have seen it already - the desire that overwhelms her when you are close, even if she suppresses it and pushes it aside. Lust is very easy for a mortal to mistake for love, and that little one, I think, will fear making that mistake." She sighed quietly, wondering exactly how to explain the concept of building love between man and woman to a being who had been born to master the epitome of masculinity in the ancient world. "You are not your father. But neither is this the world we knew. A woman is not given in marriage in this land, but chooses her own path. The seed is already sown, my son. It will take a very great misstep for you to lose the love she does not yet recognize in herself. But she will need significantly more than a few days to learn it."

He tried to take this all in, absorb what his mother was telling him as well as he could. He had never seemed to understand women, though he had loved plenty of them, and now that times had changed, they confused him even further. "She offered herself to me, Mother, but I am trying to be patient. I do not want to make the same mistakes again." He paused a moment, the frown on his face deepening, unsure if he should tell her his whole heart, though she knew him well enough to read the signs. "I love her, Mother. I wish to make her my wife."

"Sex is not purely the expression of love or marital fidelity in these changed times," Hera tried to explain to him what she had observed in the past three years since they had resumed their place. "It is a means of sharing affection, of strengthening the ties that grow into love. If she offers herself again, if the desire takes form, then by all means indulge, but do not expect an outpouring of loving words to follow. Not the first time, nor even the second. For some, it takes months of such closeness for the heart's feeling to be recognized and spoken, but you have the advantage of knowing that she will love you, in short time. The safer she feels to be herself in your company, to share herself with you, to be vulnerable in every sense when you are near, the more tender she will become and more quickly, too." She made no comment on the statement of his intentions toward the girl they were discussing; it was patently obvious to anyone who knew what they were looking for.

He only had one more question for her really, which took him full circle back to the beginning. "What do I do about the angel?" he asked. Gabriel seemed to be his main problem at the moment, though he did not wish to chase the angel off if Ayden truly needed him. "He is the last of his kind. He would make a formidable ally." If he could get over himself, and for Gabriel, that was asking a lot.

Hera nodded, the softness of her wisdom sharpening into thoughtful consideration of a fresh conundrum for a swift moment. "He is, as you say, the last of his kind - his is the only voice that could unify what is left of the angelic choir and stabilize Heaven," she commented. "When Hades is gone - and he will go, be it in a year or many - the Underworld will require either a new god, or to return to the state it has settled in during our absence. There is a King of Hell waiting in the wings; we would need a King of Heaven to balance him out. An archangel would do nicely, don't you think?"

Ares seemed to consider this a moment. Though he was a skilled tactician when it came to battle, intrigue, politics, and scheming were not his forte. Had Gabriel matured enough to accept and fulfill a destiny he had never expected or even wanted? With the Fates nearly out of the way, they were all free to choose their own destiny, mortals and immortals alike. "Perhaps he would help me with Clotho, though he deems us foolish to even try."

"I would wager it is jealousy that makes him difficult," she mused quietly. "Jealousy and fear. We have supplanted the order he has known, and now that the girl is aware of us, his usefulness is limited. We who are immortal fear death; he is immortal. Perhaps offering the hand of an ally will bring him to his senses. Perhaps not. If only his Father had made the angels capable as we made you, Hebe might have been able to convince this Gabriel of his misplaced loyalties."

"It would not hurt for her to speak with him, though I would not trust him alone with her." In point of fact, Ares did not trust Gabriel at all, nor any angel, but the archangel was the last of his kind and his choices were limited. He had been spared Raphael's fate, if only because of his alliance with the Winchesters. Heaven was in chaos. The orphaned angels needed a competent leader, if Gabriel was up to the task.

"I do not think placing her in the position of intermediary will help," Hera said quietly. "Trust will not be given to you if it is through her that you act. Just as you would not give your trust to him, if he were to act through her."

"I am not very good at negotiations," Ares pointed out, doubting himself and his abilities. He was a warrior, first and foremost, and preferred to do most of his talking with a spear or a sword, and yet, it seemed he had grown in maturity and wisdom over the years. "I suppose it would not hurt to try," he admitted. The worst the angel could do was refuse. They both had more to gain than lose, it seemed, if only Gabriel would see things the same way.

"War does not end with a battle won," his mother reminded him. "It ends with the diplomat, the one who draws the lines that shall not be crossed, the truce that will not be undone. That, too, is yours to command, Ares. You were not made merely to kill." She flicked her silvery gaze toward him with a sly smirk. "You've grown too reliant upon your spear, my son. Loosen your tongue from its silver sheath."

"My spear speaks louder than words, Mother," he reminded her, though he was willing to try. After all, things were going well with Ayden. Maybe there was hope for him yet. What did he have to lose? "I am grateful for your guidance," he told her, adding with a small frown that hinted at the loneliness he was feeling these past years. "I have missed you."

"Save your sword for the velvet sheath that awaits it," she murmured, a last piece of advice from a woman who knew the deep, abiding love he hoped for. The back of her hand brushed his briefly - the highest Olympians were not greatly demonstrative when it came to familial love. "You have been missed, too. It is almost time for you to come home."

As she spoke, a voice emerged from the darkness, a voice only he could hear, echoing from many miles away, calling out in soft distress. "Ares ... no ...."
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Ayden

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Re: Wise Counsel (AU)
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 07:43:39 AM »
The smile that lit his face at his mother's words and caress, however brief, was dispelled as soon as he heard that familiar voice calling his name. She sounded as though she needed him, and he had promised to heed her every summons. "She is calling me," he said, as he pushed off the ground to his feet, forgetting he was still only half-dressed. He tilted his head as if to hear her better and to judge whether or not she was in danger.

"Then you should go to her," Hera told him, her smile amused but proud of the quickness with which he chose to honor his promise made to his mortal love. She paused, raising her hand to touch his cheek gently. "You were made for greatness, my son. You will find it." With one last nod, she faded from view, returning to her own place on Mount Olympus and to her husband's side, leaving their eldest son alone in the heavy gloom of his Amazon forest.

But he did not stay there for long. As soon as his mother disappeared to make her return to Olympus, Ares followed his heart, answering the call from his beloved, whom he had promised to protect and never to abandon. In the space of a heartbeat, he had left the rainforest behind and was on his way back to Ayden's side.

The room he found himself in was dark, scant light allowed in via the cracks in the blinds that covered the window. It was nothing special, a guest room in a motel outside Salt Lake City, the first stop on the journey back to Sioux Falls. The king bed was shared by the indistinct lumps that made up siblings, a brother and sister, lying back to back on top of the covers, as was their habit. But the sofa was where his attention was drawn, to the thrash of slender limbs caught in a cheap blanket as Ayden dreamed, tears escaping to wet her cheeks as she called for him again, responding to some nightmare that would not relent.

He found her easily enough, recognizing her form and her voice, even in the darkness, and went to her, his heart aching at the anguish with which she called his name, as though he were dead or dying. He knelt down beside her, touching her cheek with gentle fingertips, his voice softly beckoning her from the brink of her nightmares. "Ayden, beloved, wake up. You are only dreaming."

Whether it was his touch or his voice that roused her, she came awake with a start, green eyes snapping wide in the darkness as she gasped, made just a little bit wild by whatever had been haunting her dreams. In the brief moments it took for her shake off her nightmare, she was tense, shocked to be awakened at all, only to recognize him and lurch up from the pillow, pressing herself into his arms with a quiet sob of relief. "Oh, thank god," she whispered, clutching tightly to him in the darkness, unaware of Hope's eyes on them from where the younger girl lay. "You were dead, and I couldn't do anything ... she killed you ..."

"Shh," he whispered, holding her close and stroking her hair, his voice soft and soothing. "It's all right. I'm here. It was only a dream." Though with Ayden, there was no such thing. Her dreams were not just random dreams, but visions, warnings of a possible future. Ares knew they were both a gift and a curse, and though the dreams themselves couldn't physically hurt her, they were just as troubling as though they were real.

Perhaps it was only a dream this time, perhaps it was the aftermath of shock and pain and fright from a hunt that had almost claimed her life, or perhaps it was the new intensity of foresight his mother had warned him of only an hour before. Whatever had caused her distress, it did not seem to want to abate, leaving her trembling and sobbing in his arms, fighting to be quiet for the sake of the pair she still believed to be sleeping so close by, clinging to the one person who could reassure her that everything was well. Ayden had cried like this before, of course, but never with anyone there to comfort her. Ares had found a place no other had taken, the role of comforter and protector against her own fears in the dark of the night.

It was a role he was not accustomed to and was not very familiar with. Even as a father, his children had mostly been raised by their mothers and it had been them who had done most of the comforting and consoling. He was not, however, unfeeling or dispassionate, and his heart went out to her, wishing to comfort her and soothe her as best he could. It troubled him that she worried over him, that she had dreamed of his death, not because he was afraid of dying, but because he didn't want to cause her any pain. He held her for a long time, for as long as it would take for her tears to subside, whispering quietly, rocking her to and fro, stroking her hair, brushing soft kisses against her brow. He wondered where Gabriel was and whether or not he was watching over her, as he had promised, but then, maybe his mother was right - this was Ares' place now, not Gabriel's any longer.

Slowly, very slowly, she calmed in his arms, her trembling ebbing away until she was still in the circle of his embrace, breathing in and out with a steady flow. The dream had been vivid, but lacking the sense of dislocation and stark reality she knew from her visions, reassuring her in a way that it had been just a dream. Reluctantly, she lifted her head, brushing roughly at the tears that lingered on her cheeks. "I'm sorry," she whispered to him in the gloom. "It's just a nightmare, it's nothing to worry about. I'm just being stupid."

"You have nothing to apologize for," he reassured her in as quiet a voice as he could muster, which was saying something for a man who was not accustomed to being quiet. He took her face in his hands, smoothing his thumbs against her cheeks to wipe away her tears as he gazed into her eyes, his immortal heart swelling with a tenderness he had not felt for over two thousand years. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked quietly.

"Would it help if I did?" she asked him in return, genuinely wanting to know the answer. Guilt was beginning to rise in her gaze as she realised that she had called him unconsciously once again, from whatever he had been doing, and there had been no real need to do it; worse, that her nephew and niece, quiet as they were, had to be awake and listening to every word spoken. "It wasn't a vision. It was just a nightmare." But clearly, it hadn't been just a nightmare to her.

"I don't know," he replied with an uncertain frown. Though he was immortal, he, too, had to eat and sleep, just as any human, though to a lesser degree. He, too, had dreams and nightmares, but he was no seer and had never experienced any visions or portents that warned of future danger. "If you wish, I will stay," he told her, pushing her hair back from her face. He glanced briefly to the siblings who were either asleep or pretending to be asleep nearby. "Or we can go somewhere else, if you prefer," he added, in a hushed voice.

"Someplace else," she nodded, the words escaping almost the moment he offered that change of location. "I don't care where, I just ... I want to be near you tonight. If you're not busy with something else. I know you've got better things to do than stop me from having a panic attack."

He pressed a finger to her lips to silence her before she could talk herself completely out of spending the night with him. "Shh, we can go anywhere you like," he whispered. She didn't really have to drive back to Sioux Falls with Hope and Sam; he could take her there himself, so long as she trusted the siblings with her car. He glanced over at the supposedly sleeping duo, sensing that they weren't really sleeping at all and wondering if he should say something before they left.

Ayden followed his glance over to the bed, better able to spot the glimmer of light on Hope's open eyes and know they wouldn't be worried over her unless she did not come back at all. Her fingers gripped Ares' bare arm as she raised her tearful eyes to his once again, swallowing before she spoke. "I just want to be with you," she confessed in a low murmur, given courage by the darkness and the lingering distress of her nightmare. "But I need to be in Sioux Falls in a couple of days. Is-is that possible?"

"I can take you anywhere you want to go, Ayden," he repeated, assuring her that she could indeed be in Sioux Falls in a few days, even he took her away with him tonight. But not to the Amazon, no. He had another place in mind, a place he had not visited in a very long time.

"Just go," Hope's voice broke into Ayden's silence. "We'll see you back at the Yard in a coupla days."

The older woman blushed in the darkness, unconsciously inching closer to Ares as she was given the blessing to leave her niece and nephew, who had been watching her struggle with the aftermath of their successful hunt for a full day already. They knew she needed a little peace, the kind of peace only this particular Olympian could give her, so she had no cause for concern. "All right," she whispered, holding Ares' gaze. "Let's go."

Sam either continued to pretend to be asleep or really was asleep, letting Ayden decide for herself and letting Hope reassure her that they understood. As much as he respected Ayden, this was not the same Ayden he'd known back home in the future, and like Hope, he knew she needed this time alone with Ares to work things out for herself. As for Ares, once he had Ayden's leave, he didn't waste any time. With a single touch of fingertips against her cheek, he willed them away, and they disappeared from the motel room, as if they'd never been there at all.

[size=9]((Looks like big momma Olympian is keeping a watchful eye, don't it? Many thanks to Ares' player for this scene!))[/size]
[img:177bd0de6b]http://i.imgur.com/EgsDTYG.gif[/img:177bd0de6b]