The Charade
  Author: Leone
  Part: 2/3
  Rating: PG
  Codes: P, VOY/X: WP
  Archive: Got my other stories? Go ahead. Otherwise, ask

  Disclaimer: Nothing but the story belongs to me. Star Trek
  belongs to Paramount and any characters from Xena: Warrior
  Princess belongs to Renaissance Pictures. (Except the gods, they
  belong to themselves)

  Summary: Sequel to "The Choice". If you have read that one,
  this won't make much sense.

  Part Two

  The God of War entered the doctor's office, followed by the
  CMO and the two most senior officers on Voyager. The first
  officer was the last to enter the room, and therefore the one who
  closed the door after them.

  Ares saw the doctor's slightly worried expression and reassured
  the hologram. "Don't worry, Doctor. Asclepius will be here in a
  moment. If any of the crew should need medical attention, He
  will take care of it."

  Thus calmed, the EMH moved to his desk and sat down, not
  considering the fact that his was the only seat in the office.

  War, however, noticed and with an elegant wave of His hand, He
  produced three more chairs. He waited until Janeway and
  Chakotay were seated, then sat in the last available chair, making
  Himself comfortable. He knew this would take some time. "I
  promised to answer the questions you have as a result of Tom's
  little slip before he fell asleep," He remarked. "I must warn you,
  however. If I find the questions too personal, or intrusive, I will
  tell you so, and not give you an answer." Seeing three nods of
  acceptance, He asked, "So, who will begin?"

  Not surprisingly, Janeway was the first to speak. "How can You
  be Tom's father?" she asked.

  Ares lifted an eyebrow in obvious amusement. "Kathryn
  Janeway, didn't your mother ever tell you about the birds and the

  Janeway flushed in embarrassment. She hadn't thought of how
  her question would sound. "Let me rephrase that," she said
  without answering. She considered it for a moment, then asked,
  "Why are *You* Tom's father? I mean, I always thought he was
  Owen Paris' son," she added.

  Ares sighed. He had suspected that question, but since He hadn't
  read her mind out of respect for Tom, He hadn't known for
  certain that she would ask.  "Well, there's a story behind that,"
  He replied, then added, "And an explanation why everyone
  thinks that Owen Paris is Tom's father."

  "Will You tell us?" Janeway requested respectfully.

  Ares grimaced slightly. It wasn't something He was particularly
  fond of remembering, but He had to if He were to tell His
  audience the story of how He came to father Tom Paris. "If I tell
  you, you can't repeat it to anyone." Ares looked at each of His
  companions seriously, holding their gazes until they nodded in

  When He was satisfied that none of the three from Voyager
  would reveal the secret, Ares started His story. "I don't know if
  any of you know, but Tom's mother was born and raised in
  Greece, and although she later turned her back to most of what
  she'd been taught as a child, she never stopped believing in Us."
  Ares gestured to Himself, then the goddesses in the main area of

  Ares waited until He had the attention of Janeway, Chakotay and
  the doctor again before He continued with the story. "When
  Tom's mother was 23, she met Owen Paris and the two of them
  fell in love. Owen Paris courted Tom's mother for a year before
  she agreed to marry him, and eleven months later, she gave birth
  to the couple's first child, a daughter. Tom's mother gave the girl
  the Greek name Cathleen, which means 'pure'."

  Ares was quiet for a moment while He summoned three goblets
  of wine. He handed one each to Janeway and Chakotay, knowing
  that the doctor couldn't ingest real food or beverages. War drank
  from His own cup, then spoke again. "About a year and a half
  after Cathleen's birth, Tom's parents had another daughter. This
  one received the Greek name Doreen. It means 'beautiful'," He
  informed His audience.

  Ares took another drink of His wine, then materialized a small
  table and put His goblet on it with an air of distraction. Then He
  went on. "It seemed that those were the only children the couple
  would have. For the next few years, Mrs. Paris got pregnant
  twice more, but miscarried both times. She would often pray to
  Hera, the Goddess of Marriage and Childbirth to give her a son,
  but all her prayers went unanswered. Then one day, a little more
  than thirty years ago, I received an unusual appeal for help." War
  looked at His enchanted audience. "It wasn't the fact that it was a
  request for assistance that was surprising. I get those daily. No, it
  was the source of the plea that amazed Me. It was enough to
  make Me investigate in Person..." He trailed off, lost in

  In the past

  Ares arrived in the room that was the source of a prayer for help
  from someone totally unexpected, without His usual bright flash
  of light. Invisible to mortal eyes, He studied the dark-haired
  woman who was kneeling on the floor, wondering what exactly
  she needed His help for. Well, there was only one way to find
  out. Unless, of course, He read her mind, which He had no
  intention of doing at this point. She would have to tell Him what
  she wanted. With a flex of His powers, Ares let Himself become

  At the flash of blue light, the dark-haired woman looked up.
  "Ares," she said in surprise. She hadn't really expected Him to
  answer her prayer, and certainly not in Person.

  "You don't usually ask for My help, Eugena," Ares said, "So, I
  decided to visit you, and hear what it is you want."

  Eugena bit her lower lip, hesitating for a moment. Then she
  gathered her courage and said, "I need Your help to give my
  husband a son." She couldn't meet Ares' eyes.

  It took most of Ares' control not to reveal the surprise He felt at
  Eugena's words. After an instant of silence, He spoke. "Eugena,
  look at Me." He waited until she obeyed, then said, "You should
  ask My mother for assistance, not Me. I'm the God of War, I
  can't help you with this."

  "Lady Hera doesn't answer my prayers. I've had two
  miscarriages, and haven't gotten pregnant since the last one,"
  Eugena told Ares. She swallowed and gathered all her courage,
  then told Him exactly what it was she wanted Him to do.
  Looking straight into the dark eyes of War, she said, "I'm asking
  You to give me son and to let everyone think that my husband is
  his father."

  "Let Me get this straight," Ares said. "You want Me to father
  your son, and then expect Me not to have any contact with him?"

  Eugena lowered her eyes and nodded, indicating that that was
  what she meant.

  "I see," Ares said, then went silent as He considered Eugena's
  demand. For that was how He thought of it, no matter how she
  had phrased it. After several minutes, He finally spoke again. "I
  have a few conditions that you must agree to if I am to fulfill
  your request." He met her eyes and, seeing that He had her full
  attention, named His terms. "First, My nephew Asclepius will
  deliver the child."

  When Eugena nodded her acceptance, Ares went on. "Second, I
  will name the boy." Noting the protest on Eugena's face, He held
  up a hand before she could voice it. "It's non-negotiable," He
  said firmly.

  Eugena hesitated for a moment longer, then nodded reluctantly in
  agreement, knowing that she didn't have a choice. She saw the
  satisfied expression on War's face, but didn't comment. She just
  waited for Him to reveal the rest of His demands.

  "Third, if at any time, your son feels that he can't ask your
  husband for help, I *will* do My best to assist him in any way I
  deem necessary." Ares waited for Eugena's reaction to this.

  Eugena didn't protest. In fact, she was relieved. She remembered
  how there were things that her brothers didn't feel they could
  discuss with their father. Especially when they reached puberty.
  She was glad that there would be someone her son could talk to
  if he felt he couldn't speak with Owen.

  Ares read Eugena's thoughts and was pleased by her reaction. He
  waited until she turned her attention back to Him, then informed
  her of His last condition. "Finally, I reserve the right to tell our
  son who I am when he turns fifteen."

  "No!" Eugena's sharp protest was immediate and instinctive.
  Then she saw Ares' eyes turn to ice, suddenly reminding her that
  He was the God of War. She swallowed nervously and softened
  her tone of voice. "I mean, that isn't really necessary, is it?"

  "Yes, it is," Ares contradicted her. "As My son, he will have
  certain rights that I can't give him until I've acknowledged him."
  Noting Eugena's sudden panic, He reassured her despite His
  anger at her protest. "I will only need to claim him as My son in
  front of the Olympian Pantheon, and he must recognize Me as
  his father. The mortal world doesn't need to know."

  Ares didn't point out that as a demi-god, the child would also be
  immortal, and have some kind of godly powers. That was the
  reason He wanted Asclepius to deliver the boy. Ares planned to
  suppress both the immortality and the godly powers immediately
  after the birth.

  War also failed to mention that He had no intention of obeying
  Eugena's wish that He didn't have any contact with his son until
  he reached fifteen. Instead He waited for her to agree to let Him
  tell the boy the truth about his paternity. He didn't really need
  her consent, but wanted it nonetheless.

  It took a while, but finally Eugena sighed in defeat. "As You
  wish," she said, accepting the fact that she didn't have any
  options if she wanted Ares to give her a son. Then she gave Him
  a quizzical look, silently asking whether He would grant her

  The ice in the dark eyes melted when Ares smiled and reached a
  hand out to help her up from her kneeling position. Once she was
  standing, He pulled her into His arms, bent his head and captured
  her lips in a gentle kiss, telling her without words that He would
  give her the son she wanted.


  A bright flash of light startled Ares out of His memories. He
  stopped speaking and looked at the new arrival, frowning when
  He saw whom it was. "What is it?" He snarled, annoyed at being
  interrupted, but knowing that His nephew wouldn't disturb Him
  unless it was important. Even *Strife* wasn't that insane.

  The dark blonde god didn't even flinch at this sign of Ares
  threatening anger. Although He did apologize, it was more out of
  respect for His uncle, than because of any sense of fear. "Sorry to
  bother You, Uncle, but there is a... slight problem."

  Ares narrowed His eyes dangerously. "And You can't take care
  of it Yourself?" He inquired. When His nephew shook His head
  'no', Ares asked, "What's the problem, Strife?"

  The God of Mischief hesitated and threw a quick glance at the
  three from Voyager, clearly indicating to Ares that He didn't
  think it was something Their audience should know about.

  Ares considered His nephew's silent message for a moment, then
  decided what to do. "Tell Me what the problem is," He
  requested, switching to ancient Greek, knowing that Strife was
  the only one present that would understand Him this time. He
  also knew that even Voyager's universal translator wasn't
  programmed to recognize the antique language.