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Foul Mood

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Ares was in a foul mood.

Daddy dearest had once more sided with brother dearest during one of their fights. What had started as a bad day, had slowly turned worse and worse. First was Cupid asking to baby-sit Bliss for an hour during breakfast. The dark god swore that boy was Strife's and not Cupid's. He had almost burned down his temple in just the first five minutes. Then it was two kingdoms declaring peace from what promised to be a spectacular war. Now this. Hercules had interfered in one of his schemes and called *daddy* to help.

He was in a foul mood.

And if he didn't do something about it now, tomorrow he'd be even worse. And he had promised to spend the day with Harmonia tomorrow. He saw so little of his daughter he liked to enjoy those days he spent with her. But not even the thought of her was enough to lift the war god's bad humor.

He was in a foul mood.

Ares thought of tormenting Xena and annoying sidekick, until he remembered they were somewhere in the East . . . Chin? No. India. He loved to cross Xena. She was a good match. He bored of mortals who couldn't keep up with him. Not Xena. She was competition. Fighting her always made him feel better. But she wasn't here to fight.

He was in a foul mood.

He decided to bring the constant buzz of prayers in the back of his consciousness forward and listen for any worthwhile prayers. Eliminating the usual: "Guard my son in battle", "Hail Ares" and "Give me glory in the battle" left only one prayer. Joxer.

His foul mood was lessening.

Listening to Joxer hear his prayers was always interesting. He was the most loyal worshiper he'd had in his entire godly life. Since he could talk, he had prayed. And while the most inept of his warriors, he was in his top ten list. He fought, not just against soldiers and warlords, but against his family, friends and himself.

War wasn't just what was fought in a battlefield. War could be fought against anything. And Joxer had held a battle longer than anyone else had. Against his clumsiness, his lack of skills. His feelings. He was a true warrior, even greater than Xena. War is not death; it's life. To cope with it, to carry on, to lose and get up. The greatest war is against oneself. And not one mortal, or immortal for that matter, fought that battle with more courage and valor than Joxer did. He made him proud.

His foul mood was gone.

Ares opened a window to look at Joxer while he heard his prayer.

"Lord Ares, first of all thank you for letting me live another day.
Help me be a better warrior so I may serve you better.
Help me be stronger so I can help those less strong.
Help me cope with those who can't cope with me.
Help me. . . oomph"

Ares chuckled when Joxer tripped over a root and interrupted the prayer. But he didn't chuckle at Joxer, but at his fear that he might have offended him by falling while praying. And at his thousand and one apologies.

"Umm. . . sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah. Appropriate enough, help me stay on my feet."

Ares actually laughed out loud at that. Not a superior laugh, or that out of the expense of another misery, but a deep belly laugh. He wondered why nobody had noticed this kid's sense of humor.

His mood had gone from foul to good.

Tomorrow he would spend a great day of father-daughter bonding with Harmonia.

He was happy.

Realizing this, he decided once again, that as for making him feel better, no one did a better job that Joxer. And his friends wondered why and how he stayed alive.

Simple. You really think Ares would let him die?