"I suppose," he replied, uncertainly. His own conquests had not been all that unusual. He wore a thoughtful, puzzled look on his face, wondering if there was something he'd missed all these years, something that mortals knew of lovemaking that he did not. Perhaps it had been too long, after all. Almost in order to save himself from embarrassment, he took hold of her hand again and started onto the beach.
Drawn along once again, Ayden leaned into him as they walked, stroking her free hand against his arm. "Did you know there's only two animals on Earth that have sex for reasons besides making more of themselves?" she mused quietly, not entirely sure where she was going with this comment, or that she was right. "One of them is a chimp, but they don't have sex for pleasure or to bond. It's an alternative to fighting for them. Humans are the only ones who indulge in sex purely for the joy of it. Isn't that odd?"
"I suppose," he repeated, with that thoughtful look still on his face. She wasn't precisely correct. The Olympians made love for pleasure, but they weren't the same as humans or any other living creature on Earth. "Did you know that Lucifer fell from heaven in part because he wanted to cavort with mortals?" It might not be a completely relevant question, but there was a good chance she didn't know that little tidbit. And once again, he didn't realize that Lucifer was as naughty a word as Michael.
She stopped abruptly, sighing as he mentioned yet another angel that had done a great deal of harm. "Baby," she said quietly, so careful not to sound sad or angry that she didn't even notice the endearment she opened with, "mentioning the things that murdered my family is kind of a mood killer, you know? Probably best not to bring them up in conversation at all, unless you want me to cry all over you again."
"It is?" he asked, arching a brow at her, clearing not having considered this before. He had only been mentioning what he thought of as fact, not realizing how it might have affected her until she pointed it out. He frowned, looking a little ashamed and embarrassed at his mistake. But of course, mentioning Dean and Sam and those who'd been responsible for their deaths would be painful for her. Why hadn't he realize it earlier? "I'm sorry, Ayden. It didn't occur to me."
"I know." She squeezed his hand, managing a faint smile to try and reassure him, but her eyes slid away, turning to look out over the sea as the sun dipped below the horizon, leaving the sky painted with fading red and orange. It was hard not to remember the moment she'd lost everything whenever certain names were mentioned, and for a moment her vision swam, tears threatening to fall and reopen old wounds she had been ignoring for years. But she wouldn't do that, not to him. He hadn't known.
He circled her in his embrace, easing around behind her to wrap his arms around her waist, leaning close to touch his cheek to hers as the sun dipped lower on the horizon. "Your brothers and mother must be in heaven, Ayden. I'm certain of it," he told her quietly in an attempt to comfort and reassure her. "I know it is hard to believe, but I have lost some loved ones over the years, as well. Children, mostly. One of my sons was killed in battle." Though he may not have been the most faithful of lovers, let it never be said that Ares had not been a loving father. He loved each of his children and still felt the loss of those who were gone. He wanted her to know that, though he was immortal, he, too, had suffered his share of grief.
She leaned back into his arms, forgetting the beautiful view as her head turned toward his, eyes closing, resting her forehead against his jaw as she smoothed her hands over his arms at her waist. "No parent should ever have to bury their child," she murmured, not wanting to spout condolences, or express an apology for his loss. To her, they always sounded false, the platitudes that people clung to in the wake of a bereavement. Her palm gently touched his cheek as she breathed him in. "I didn't mean to suggest that you don't know how it feels," she added quietly. "I just ... it's still raw, and I'm still scared. It's just something that's going to take time for me, that's all." She sighed impatiently. "Everything takes time."
"If you wish to talk about them, I don't mind listening," he assured her as he held her close, the last rays of daylight quickly fading below the horizon, the sun seemingly sinking into the ocean. "You will be safe in Sioux Falls," he reassured her, not quite realizing she was probably more scared for the safety of her loved ones - himself included - than for herself. "It gets easier with time, but I still miss them sometimes."
"What's the point in being safe if no one else is?" she asked quietly, but there was no rancor in her words. It was just a plain statement of fact. But he had helped her greatly by pointing out that her visions were as useful when they didn't come as when they did; she wasn't so inclined to worry quite so much. "I don't think I'll ever stop missing my mom, and Sam, and Dean. I mean, the old Dean. This Dean is still my brother, but it's not the same."
Ares listened quietly and patiently while Ayden let go of some of the grief and the worries she'd been carrying on her shoulders, understanding her grief as much as he could without being human. "Give him time, Ayden. He is not of this world. You are as much a stranger to him as he is to you, perhaps more. He has lost everything, just as you have. But you can find strength in each other, and perhaps in time, you will become as close to him as you were to the Dean you lost."
"I hope so," she breathed out carefully, turning her eyes to the last of the setting sun's rays as they faded over the sea. "I let myself get my hopes up, even though I told myself not to. Dean, my Dean ... he needed me, he needed to have a little sister to look after, and Sam did, too. But this Dean ..." She shook her head, unhappy with herself for even feeling this, much less sharing it. "He doesn't need me. He's got Nim, and Ellen and Bobby. None of them need me; I'm just another person to worry about, another person who can get hurt. More responsibility, on top of everything else."
Ares arched a brow, realizing something that perhaps Ayden had not, something she might not be able or ready to realize. "You're wrong, Ayden. He does need you, and for the very same reasons that you need him."
She frowned, twisting her head to look up at him in confusion. "What do you mean?"