by Beckers
(inspired by XENA's final episode of Season 5 - "Motherhood")


"Hephie, wait." Aphrodite called to The God of the Forge. He and the others moved to begin what they felt were
necessary proceedings. She was nervous, frightened and a little sad. She knew it was inevitable - this fight for the
existence of the gods - but she had hoped oh so hard to avoid it. Or, at least, to be able to soften matters. But Athena,
her powerful (some said "power-hungry") sister, was so determined ...

He broke from the group a bit reluctantly but smiled at her when his truest loved, in a shimmer of pink, moved gently
down the stairs and approached him. Ah, Aphrodite. Hephestus loved her like no other and when this entire mess was
taken care of he and she would settle down and marry. No more my place-your place. It was long over-do.

"Don't go with them." she whispered into his ear when his strong arms encircled her in a comforting hug, "I have a very
bad feeling about this, Hephie."

Hephestus pulled Aphrodite back a bit to look at the mixture of confusion and concern in her grim expression. "Darling,
it will be over quick. I promise." He averted his eyes, then turned his head a little. This time is wasn't an automatic reflex
to hide the scars, which Aphrodite thought so "cute", on his still handsome face but because Hephestus thought he
understood her misgivings. "I know how you feel about the bard but I promise, if I can manage it, she will be spared. I'll
try to reason with the others. I mean, once Xena and her daughter are gone ..."

"No ..." Aphrodite lifted a hand to gently cup his face, "I mean, I have a bad feeling in here," Softly, she placed her other
hand on his exposed upper chest, right over his heart. The Goddess of Love then gave a shuttering exhale of breath, "I
think something is going to happen to you ... and the rest." she looked over his shoulder where Damos and Discord
were in deep discussion. Funny how those two couldn't stand one another otherwise. "The rest can - like - sink in the
Aegean Sea for all I care but you ..." Quietly, she melted into his embrace, unable to express herself better than with a
touch. "I care for you too much to say goodbye so soon." she whispered.

Hephestus gently rubbed Aphrodite's back and felt warmed when her head rested on his shoulder, "What can happen,
Dite?" he asked softly, "We're gods and they're mortals."

"But Xena's not just an ordinary mortal. She can do things and has connections. My brother, Hercules, says ..."

"Never mind what Hercules says ..." Hephestus pulled her back again and look into the love goddess' eyes, "I'm telling
you all will be well. Trust me." His lifted hand caressed underneath Aphrodite's chin, "And when we get back ..." He left
the thought dangling, a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. "Now, let me see you smile." he urged.

With the briefest of chuckles, Aphrodite did as she was told, allowing the warmest smile she could manage. He always
did manage to make her feel better during bad situations.

"'phestus!" came a call from Hades, "Are you coming or not?" The God of the Underworld asked irritably.

Aphrodite clutched her lover all the harder, "Please ..." she pleaded gently, suddenly frightened again.

"It will be all right." Hephestus promised one last time and leaned forward to affectionately kiss his love. He then drew
back slowly, feeling her swoon with both passion and fear.

Reluctantly, Hephestus parted from Aphrodite.

"I love you forever." she whispered, something intangible tearing at her soul.

"I love you too." he answered as he turned from her. Then added, "Forever." and Aphrodite never saw the uncertainty
and - yes - fear in his expression.

Then Hephestus was gone, joining the others as they prepared to leave Mount Olympus for Greece and the mortal
world. Aphrodite watched as Discord handed the fire and forge god his chain and ax. Aphrodite's eyes remained on the
spot where the gods had stood even after they disappeared.

"Relax." The words came from Athena, behind her. She was sitting on what was once Zeus' throne. The look on the
goddesses face was enigmatic "We will be the victors, Aphrodite, and the gods will live forever."

The Goddess of Love slowly swiveled and looked at the Goddess of Wisdom, War and Weaving. "If you says so." she

"I know so." Athena spoke with a confidence that didn't reach her eyes.

Only a few minute later they felt the first of two tragic quakes.

"I will grieve forever." Aphrodite thought just before the second quake, when she felt - for the first time in her godsly life
- a heart that was truly and irrevocably broken.

Aug 20, 2000
Like to tell me what you think?
Appreciate it! Beckers