The Charade
  Author: Leone
  Part: 3/3
  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.

  Dedicated to Kimbo. You know why

  Part Three

  Janeway, Chakotay and the doctor watched Ares and Strife with
  interest and curiosity. They wondered about the problem Strife
  had mentioned but didn't ask for two reasons. One, none of them
  wanted to interrupt the two gods. Secondly, it was obvious that
  the God of Mischief didn't want them to know.

  Janeway and Chakotay stared in shock and fear as Ares' face
  suddenly twisted in fury. He hissed something in a deadly tone of
  voice, then vanished in His customary flash of blue light, leaving
  Strife to deal with the two mortals and the hologram.

  While Janeway and Chakotay stared at Strife in silence, the
  doctor decided to ask a few questions. Being a hologram he
  wasn't easily impressed by anything. Not even gods. "What
  happened?" he asked. "Why did Ares get so angry?"

  Strife just barely resisted the urge to sigh as He moved over and
  sat down in the chair Ares had occupied when He turned up. He
  snickered silently to Himself at the sight of the captain and
  commander's openmouthed shock. Then He turned His attention
  back to the doctor and answered his question partially. "Someone
  is starting a war that Uncle Ares *doesn't* want to happen. That
  always pisses Him off."

  "So, He went to stop that war," the doctor concluded.

  Strife nodded in agreement. "Yes, Uncle is gonna stop that war
  whether these people want Him to or not," He said with a cold
  smile that sent shivers through the two mortals. They got the
  distinct impression that Ares would do something drastic if He
  was disobeyed in this matter. Strife's next words confirmed it.
  "And if these foolish mortals refuse to cooperate, they'll discover
  what it means to anger the God of War. And trust Me, that is
  *not* a pleasant experience," He added.

  Not even the doctor doubted Strife's words. The look of fury on
  Ares' face as He left had been terrifying. He had looked like He
  wouldn't hesitate to kill at the slightest provocation.

  Strife leaned back in His chair and materialized a goblet of wine.
  He took a sip of the wine, then put the cup on the table and
  turned His attention back to the other three. "Uncle Ares said that
  He was telling you why He fathered Tom," He said.

  "Yes, He was," Janeway answered. "But there's something I
  don't understand."

  Strife lifted a quizzical eyebrow. "What don't you understand?"

  Janeway met His eyes for an instant, but like all mortals she
  could hold the gaze of a god for long. "Lord Ares told us that
  Eugena Paris had two miscarriages after giving birth to her
  youngest daughter," she started. When Strife nodded in
  confirmation, she asked, "So what made her think that she would
  carry this child to term?"

  "You must remember that Eugena Paris was Greek," Strife began
  His explanation. "She knew that if Uncle Ares agreed to give her
  a child, He would also make certain that the baby was born."

  "I see," Janeway said thoughtfully.

  While Janeway considered this information, Chakotay asked a
  question of his own. "Did Lord Ares really have no contact with
  His son until Tom turned fifteen?" he asked doubtfully.
  Somehow he couldn't imagine that Ares would accept that.

  Strife laughed out loud. When He got His amusement under
  control, He looked at Chakotay. "You are very perceptive,
  Chakotay," He said, then answered the question. "No, Uncle
  Ares didn't stay away from Tom until his fifteenth birthday."

  "When *did* Ares visit Tom, then?" Janeway asked.

  Strife shrugged. "I'm not sure," He answered contemplatively,
  "but knowing Uncle Ares, He probably visited Tom every day
  since his birth." Mischief glanced at Janeway. "He *is* the God
  of War, after all, and able to stay invisible to mortal eyes when
  and if He so desires."

  "So Ares visited the Paris household to watch Tom every day
  until his fifteenth birthday?" Chakotay asked in disbelief.

  "No," Strife admitted. "He only came to the Paris household
  invisible until Tom was… four or five, I think. After that, Uncle
  Ares let Tom see Him." Strife paused to take another drink of
  wine, then continued. "Uncle Ares brought Me with Him once,"
  He recalled. "Tom must have been… oh, about ten…" He trailed
  off into memory.

  In the past

  With twin flashes of light, Ares and Strife arrived in a child's
  bedroom. Ares looked at the curtains to be sure they were closed.
  Seeing that they were, He then moved across the floor to the door
  and turned the lights on before walking over to sit at the edge of
  the child's bed.

  For a moment, Ares just sat and watched the face of His sleeping
  offspring, fully aware that the God of Mischief still stood in the
  middle of the room, scrutinizing Him. Ares ignored His nephew
  for the moment as He lifted a hand and gently stroked His son's
  blonde curls. "Tommy," He called quietly, attempting to wake
  the boy.

  Tom just sighed and rolled over to lie on his side. His
  subconscious informed him that it wasn't his mother trying to
  rouse him, therefore it couldn't be time to get up yet.

  Ares resisted the urge to sigh Himself, raised His voice slightly
  and tried again. "Tommy. Wake up." This time He got a reaction.

  Tom's eyes fluttered, then opened and he looked up at the God of
  War, smiling when his tired mind registered the identity of his
  visitor. "Ares," he said, sitting up. Then he maneuvered himself
  into War's arms for his usual hug.

  Ares wrapped His arms around Tom and held the boy to Him in a
  gentle hug. After a moment, He loosened the embrace and drew
  back enough to meet Tom's eyes. Unlike other mortals, Ares'
  son was able to meet and hold War's gaze for longer periods of
  time. "Tommy, I brought someone to meet you," He said with a
  glance towards His nephew.

  Tom turned his head and saw the tall man standing in the middle
  of his bedroom. He slid out of Ares' hold and crawled out of his
  bed. Once he was standing on the floor, he walked over to the
  stranger, Ares following behind him. "My name is Tom," he said
  when he reached the man. "Who are you?"

  Strife looked down at His cousin with a smile. "I'm Strife."

  Tom cocked his head with a slight frown marring his smooth
  forehead. That answer wasn't good enough in his opinion. "What
  are You god of?" came the next question.

  Strife's eyes sparkled with amusement. "How do you know that
  I'm a god?" He parried.

  The look on Tom's face clearly said that *that* was the stupidest
  question he'd ever heard. "If You weren't a god, my daddy
  wouldn't have brought you here," he said with the confidence of
  someone who knows they're right. Then he repeated his
  question. "What are You the god of?"

  Strife hid His surprise with difficulty and glanced at His uncle.
  The shock on Ares' face told Him that the God of War hadn't
  broken His promise to the boy's mother.  After a brief moment,
  Strife shrugged it off. It wasn't His problem. He turned His
  attention back to Tom. "I'm the God of Mischief," He replied.

  Tom considered this for awhile, then asked, "So if I need help
  with some trick, You're the one I should ask?"

  Mischief laughed. "That's right. You like to play tricks on
  people, don't you?"

  Tom beamed at Strife. "Yeah. It's so much fun," he answered,
  then frowned again. "Unless they find out it was me. Then it isn't

  "No, I suppose not," Strife agreed, then He winked. "Next time
  you wanna play a trick on someone, let Me know. I'll make sure
  no one knows that you did it," He promised.

  "Really?" Tom asked, his whole face lighting up in joy when
  Strife nodded 'yes'.

  Ares had listened in silence to the conversation between His
  nephew and His son. Now He decided to break in and ask a
  question of His own. "Tommy?"

  Tom turned and looked up at his beloved daddy. "Yes?"

  "Who told you that I'm your father?" Ares asked with a slight
  frown of concern. If any of the other gods or goddesses had told

  Tom's blue eyes widened in obvious surprise. "No one told me,"
  he answered.

  Ares' frown deepened. "Then how did you know?"

  A worried expression appeared on Tom's face. "I don't know. I
  just do."


  Strife went silent, still amazed that Tom had known who his real
  father was. He picked up His goblet and drank the last of his
  wine, then looked at His audience. They seemed as stunned as
  He had felt twenty years earlier when His cousin had revealed his
  knowledge of his paternity.

  The doctor's office was quiet for several minutes while Janeway,
  Chakotay and the EMH tried to digest this piece of information.

  "Tom knew who his biological father was, without anyone
  telling him?" Janeway finally asked, wanting to make sure she
  hadn't heard things.

  Strife nodded in confirmation. "He told Us that he had known for
  years," He replied. "Tom actually knew that Uncle Ares was his
  father from the first time he met Him."

  Before anyone could comment on this, the office door opened
  and Eris entered, looking exhausted. She glanced at the
  foursome, noting that Strife, not Ares, was keeping the two
  mortals and their holographic doctor company.  "Tom's change
  is complete," She informed them. "She should awaken in about
  an hour."

  Janeway blinked in surprise. "That was fast," she said, getting a
  nod of agreement from her first officer.

  "Not really," the doctor answered. "We've been in here for four
  hours," he told his superior officers, not needing to check the

  "It seems much shorter," Janeway remarked, then frowned in
  concern. "What about the ship?"

  Eris smiled tiredly. "Tuvok has the bridge," She said. "And Ares
  made certain that you won't run into any problems in the near

  "That's very kind of Him," Janeway said as she rose from her

  "Kind?" Eris repeated. "I suppose it is. Now, come with Me."
  She turned and left the office again, this time followed by
  Janeway, Chakotay, the doctor and the God of Mischief.

  The End