<< So this is the way it will end >> Ares thought.

He stepped over the bodies of fallen soldiers. Roman soldiers. Antony's men and Brutus' men. Some lay gasping out their final breaths, in pools of their own blood. Some sat staring with unseeing eyes, in shock, cradling hacked off limbs. Others sat stupefied by the idea of the Egyptian navy decimating the great Roman army, of the loss of two of Rome's finest generals.

Ares stepped over bodies until he reached the form of what had been Marcus Junius Brutus. Brutus lay face up, his eyes fixed, staring up at the place where Xena had stood, in Cleopatra's garb, and with his dying breath had given her game away to Marc Antony.

Ares knealt beside Brutus' body, and closed his eyes. Brutus had been a fine warrior, a great general, and one of the few decent men that the god of war had dealt with. He had done great service to Ares by killing off the bastard, Julius Caesar. Even though he was a Roman, Brutus had saved Greece by his actions. And despite what Zeus thought  - HAD thought - of him, Ares loved Greece and would protect it, no matter what.

He stroked Brutus' cheek and whispered, "Vale" to the dead general and conjured up a coin with the mark of Mars and slipped into the Roman's mouth. Charon would recognize it and take him personally to Hades, and hopefully his uncle would judge the mortal's actions to be good enough to keep him from Tartarus, despite Brutus' murder of Cleopatra. << The fact that Brutus gave the bard bitch the beating she so richly deserves should be counted as something >> Ares thought.

Ares strode over more bodies until he reached the true object of his quest - the body of Marcus Antonius.

He looked down at the Roman and thought, << So this is the way it will be >>

Ares remembered the words that Antony had uttered as he stood impaled upon the point of Xena's sword:

"I did love you."

<< And so it always ends >> Ares thought. << Another man who loves you... Who would have given his soul to have you love him, is dead >>  He thought back to Borias, who loved Xena more than life itself. Even when Xena chose to conquer Corinth over Borias' love, Borias still chose to save her, if he could, and ultimately to lay down his life protecting her and their unborn child.

"You win my trust, my love, and then you betray everything," Antony had said.

Ares stared down at the fallen triumvir, whose blue eyes stared, fixed, into the grey morning that was beginning to break over the sea. The words of the fallen mortal echoed in his ears, unwillingly recalling to his mind the way that Xena had humiliated him at Amphipolis. He had  been ready to lay down his life in protecting Xena and Eve, and she had used his feelings to turn him against his own family, only to betray him in the end. And Ares had to endure the smirk from the annoying bard, who thought it only well and good that Xena had used his love to get what she wanted without having to give up anything in return.

Ares knealt beside Antony and touched the place where Xena had run the Roman through with her sword.

<< And the next time, it will be me >> Ares thought. << And how will it end? It doesn't matter... It will end with me looking into her eyes, and with my dying breath I will whisper her name, and then it will be over... Ares, God of War will join the list of men who have lived and died for love of Xena... Who died to protect her... And it will end with her saying to the blonde bitch, "I felt nothing"  >>

The rain had put out the fires from the burning ships, and the smoke from the cooling embers drifted high upon the approaching dawn.

<< So it shall be >> Ares thought.

He stood, and with a thought, made his way to Alexandria.