saga/title/fandom: Love and Mischief Saga: Seeking Balance chapter 10 (Hercules/Xena)

author: Scribe

rating/genre:(NC-17) - Comedy/Romance/Drama

warnings: slash, sexual content, language, male pregnancy

summary: This story begins before the events of Cupid's Little Helper. An offshoot of the Love and Mischief Series. (Ares/Joxer)

comments/disclaimers: I did not create the characters here, I don't own them. I derive no profit from this effort. I mean nothing but respect for the creators, owners, and the actors and actresses who portray them. Archive? Yes, but tell me where.Notes: I love writing Cupid/Strife. I do a lot of it. I've only done Ares/Joxer as peripheral to the Love and Mischief Series, and one song fic. I feel like I'm neglecting the boys, and thought that since I had made it clear in Cupid's Little Helper and Tha Birds, an' Tha Bees, an' All That Othah Good Shit that Ares and Joxer were a couple, and had a child, that it would be only logical to tell THEIR story, too. So here goes. This story begins before the events of Cupid's Little Helper, and will most likely cover some of that ground from a different perspective. F'rinstance, what was it like when Cupid gave Ares a glimpse of the agony that Strife had gone through? We'll see. Ares and Joxer are together in my Love and Mischief series, and a few readers expressed curiosity in their back-story, so here it is. I'm not up on the finer points of hydras, so here's my personal take on them. They are large creatures, usually larger than an elephant when fully grown, and they resemble a legless, three-headed dragon. Their body scales are incredibly thick and tough, thinning and becoming a little more fragile up the necks. If one head is cut off, two will grow in its place. The only way to kill them is by destroying the brains, WITHOUT cutting off the heads. Also the blood is like poisonous acid. http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/scribescribbles and http://www.angelfire.com/grrl/foxluver

Chapter 10

Aphrodite was picking at her dinner, frowning in thought, when she suddenly sat bolt upright, a smile streaking across her face. Her husband watched her indulgently. "That must be a good one."

She concentrated, then her smile softened. "A first time. Oh, Heph--it's Ares and Joxer! I am SO right about them. Now, if Ares will just tone down the bull-headed 'I don't need love, sex will do me just fine' attitude..."

Joxer woke up with an odd combination of discomfort and comfort. For one thing, his ass ached, and so did the muscles in his thighs--particularly the inner ones. On the other hand... He stretched luxuriously, grinning with his eyes closed. This sort of relaxed, smug feeling could only come after a night of kick-ass sex. He'd have probably achieved this state just from the encounter in the bathing chamber--but then there'd been the rug, and the bed. He couldn't come any more after the second time, but he could still enjoy the sensations that Ares caused. *Boy, has he got stamina. He claims that no one, god or otherwise, can do it forever, but I dunno. He could make a pretty good run at it from my standpoint.*

"You aren't one of those people who are disgustingly cheerful as soon as they get up, are you?"

Joxer opened his eyes to find Ares, on his side and head propped in his hand, regarding him. Joxer couldn't help it--the smile got bigger. "Fraid so, unless I don't have any tea, or I'm, like, routed out of bed by a bandit attack, or something."

"I can take care of that." Ares swooped down on him.

Joxer had honestly thought that he wouldn't be able to achieve an erection for at least a few days--and he'd been willing to live with that, given what he'd had in exchange. Ares quickly showed him that he was perfectly capable, though. The feel of soft beard rubbing over various interesting, and interested, areas of his body had Joxer twisting, moaning, and hard in very short order. Joxer, in dazed amusement, wondered how he had ever thought that a 'butch' man would never suck cock. Ares DEVOURED him. Joxer knew that the next time someone referred to the partner giving head as the 'passive' one, he was going to laugh out loud. In fact, he DID giggle.

Ares glanced up at him from his lap, one eyebrow cocked. "I have to admit that's a unique reaction."

"I can't help it," said Joxer breathlessly. "It's not that it's funny, but your beard is tickly."

"Really?" Ares tested the assertion by scrubbing his chin over Joxer's belly, while dancing his fingers along the warrior's inner thighs. Joxer howled. While he was in the middle of that bray, Ares swallowed his cock and sucked--HARD. Joxer's body arched helplessly, caught between two powerful forces--sex and laughter, and he came. Ares wrapped his arms around the limp, panting, giggling man, then rolled them both over so that Joxer lay on top of him. He then humped against Joxer in a leisurely manner till he achieved his own orgasm. By then Joxer was regaining his breath. Ares, playing with Joxer's hair, said, "And I don't do tea. You'll just have to wait till we get over to Aphrodite's place." He smacked Joxer's ass, then flipped him off, onto his back. "Get dressed. I promised Bliss I'd come by and visit today."

Joxer got up. "And you want to take me along?"

Ares was pulling on his pants, and he paused. "You COULD stay and work on your garden, but I know that Dite would like to see you." He frowned a little. "You'd rather garden than see my grandson?"

"No!" He looked around. "Clothes--I need clothes. I mean, I know Dite is a clothing optional sorta gal, but I'm pretty sure Hephastus will be there, and if Bliss is, I'm sure the little guy doesn't need any further education from ME. He hasn't gotten hold of his father's arrows lately, has he?"

"He's been warned about that very sternly." Ares waved his hand, and Joxer was dressed. Joxer looked down at himself, then looked at Ares. "Do you mind the pink? I just thought I might as well make Dite happy--she'd probably try to get you into pastels, anyway."

"I don't mind the shirt, but pink leather pants?"

Ares flicked a finger, and the pants were plain black leather. "There, pink and black. Strife calls that a fifties color scheme, for some reason." He took Joxer's hand, and flashed away.

>

Bliss was sitting on an adult sized chair, which meant that his legs stuck straight out in front of him (they were still too short even to DANGLE). He crossed his plump arms, leaned back till his little white wings were squashed, tucked his dimpled chin, and gave his daddy a mutinous look. "Don' wan' it, Daddy. Taste nasty."

"I know, baby, but you NEED this if you're going to grow up big and strong, like Daddy." Cupid again offered a spoonful of quivering pinkness.

Bliss shook his head. "I g'o up skinny an' cool, like Stwife."

Strife, on the other side of the table, giggled madly. "Stop it, Strife! Don't encourage him," snapped Cupid.

"Hey, don't blame ME, cuz," Strife protested. "I ain't doin anythin. Tha kid comes by his naughtiness naturally.

"Strife is right, dear," said Aphrodite. "No one REALLY likes it." She wrinkled her nose. "Lord, the struggles I used to have to get YOU to eat it. Ares had a little more success, but then, he IS the God of War. Have you tried mixing honey in it? That used to help with you."

Strife materialized a square of honeycomb, held it over the bowl, and squeezed till the honey leaked out. "Give it a stir, Cupe."

Cupid stirred the honey in, thinning the glop in the bowel. "Don't you dare wipe your hands on anything around here. I don't want to end up sitting in stickiness."

"Perish tha thought." Strife dropped the wad of wax on a plate. "I'll chew that latah--even bettah than that gum stuff they have in tha future." He proceeded to lick the honey off his fingers.

Bliss pointed. "Daddy, Stwife usin' bad manners." Cupid was staring as Strife chased a golden droplet down one long finger, pink tongue working industriously. "DADDY!" Cupid blinked. "Huh?"

"You gonna 'pank Stwife?"

Strife had slid the finger into his mouth and was sucking on it with every evidence of enjoyment. *Only if he asks me nicely. Oh, geez, I didn't SAY that, did I?* "I'm not in charge of Strife's manners, Bliss, and you know very well that it's different for grownups. Now, take a bite for Daddy." The chin went down again. Cupid sighed. "Mom?"

"I just changed clothes, sweetie."

"Mom, you've ALWAYS just changed clothes. If you waited to do anything till you HADN'T just changed clothes, nothing would ever get done."

"Cupid, I love Bliss madly, but he FLINGS, and that stuff is just about impossible to get out of my hair. I'll try, though." She bent down, putting her face on level with Bliss. "Hi, baby!"

"Hi, Gan'ma!"

"Aren't you just the cutest, sweetest little thing?"

"Yeah!"

"Aren't you going to eat for grandma?"

"No."

Dite stamped her foot. "And I called myself 'grandma' for you, you ungrateful cherub! Strife?"

"Dite, do ya remembah that one time ya got me ta change his diapah?" Dite turned green, and Strife nodded.

*FLASH*

Ares and Joxer appeared. "How's my grandson?"

"He's being a pill," said Cupid tartly. "It's time for his weekly dose of..." he spotted Joxer, "uh, his weekly tonic, and he's being difficult about it, as usual. Is Ace SURE this stuff can't be taken as a suppository?"

Strife fell out of his chair laughing. He climbed back up, snorting. "Sorry. Just hadda mental image of what my Mom's reaction would be ta that." He waved. "Hiya, Joxie." Joxer smiled back, waving. Strife bounced out of the chair and hurried over to the mortal. Then he put his face close to Joxer's and gave him a minute examination.

Joxer got nervous. "What?"

Strife grinned, shrugging. "I think maybe yer eyes are slantin a little bit." He punched Ares on the shoulder. Joxer flinched, waiting for Ares to bat his nephew across the room. He was surprised when the War God just blushed. Strife said, "Well, I got work ta do. There's a boat leavin fah Rome, an' I wanna make sure it has a full load o' rodents an' vermin." He rubbed his hands together. "Gotta do my bit fah export." He frowned down at his hands for a second, then gave his palm a long, lavish lick before disappearing.

"Cupid," Ares started. Cupid was staring at the last few blue sparks that marked Strife's disappearance. "Son?"

"Huh?"

"I need to have a few words with you and your mother in private."

Cupid shook his head slightly. "Can't it wait, Dad? Heph isn't here to watch Bliss, so one of us..."

"I'll do it," Joxer volunteered. "I have experience. I can't tell you how many times Xena and Hercules have gone forth to battle bandits or warlords, and I've been delegated to stay behind and protect the women and children. I WANTED to help them, but they always explain that mine is the most important job, so..." They were staring at him. "I know games and stories."

Cupid looked at Bliss. "Bliss, if I leave you with Joxer for a few minutes, will you behave? No getting into Daddy's arrows, or Grandma's potions?" Bliss nodded, looked confused, shook his head, looked confused again, then shrugged.

Joxer, understanding the little boy's dilemma, said, "Don't make it a question."

Cupid shot him a look, then said, "Okay, I DON'T WANT YOU to play with those things. And no flying, okay?"

"'kay, Daddy."

"Good boy."

Ares, Cupid, and Aphrodite left the room, headed for a nearby audience chamber. Joxer went and sat at the table with Bliss. "Hi."

"Hi." Bliss gave him a sunny smile.

"So," Joxer poked the bowl that had been left behind. "That doesn't look like vegetables."

Bliss crinkled his nose, looking a lot like his grandmother. "That ammy-rosy-brosy-yucka. Taste nasty."

"Most stuff that's supposed to be good for you does." Joxer cocked his head. "You're a pretty big kid, Bliss. Why don't they let you feed yourself? I bet you'd eat it if you could feed yourself."

"May--be."

Joxer pushed the bowl closer to the godling, who stood up in the chair. "Go on. Won't they be surprised if they come back in and it's all gone?"

Bliss was stirring the pink stuff, his eyes gleaming. "Sure will."

"I want to know if either one of you has put a whammy on me."

Cupid shook his head, and Dite made her eyes big and round. "Why would you suspect that, Ares?"

Ares figited. "Just certain circumstances. Are you SURE?"

"Dad, duh? I have to AIM, okay? I'd know if I'd shot your butt," Cupid assured him. "Mom?"

Aphrodite spread a hand over her bosom. "I'm hurt that you'd suggest such a thing." Both of the men stared at her. "Oh, all right--so I'm devious. But not this time. Again, why do you ask, Ares?"

Joxer wiped pink goo off his face, getting his eyes clear so he could see Bliss, who was chortling happily. "Okay, so I guess THAT'S why they don't let you feed yourself." He instincitively licked his lips, and said, "Oo, ick. No wonder. That stuff tastes like... like cheap perfume." He scraped some off his cheek and tasted it again. "Cheap perfume mixed with honey."

Bliss had dropped the spoon back in the now half-empty bowl. "You eat it."

"No, thank you."

Bliss gave Joxer a shrewd look. "I eat it, if you eat it."

"Spoon for spoon?" Bliss nodded. Joxer made a face. "Well, if you really NEED to eat it... It won't make me sick, will it? No, wait a minute--I'm immortal now. Okay." He dipped up a spoonful and offered it.

"You first."

"Big surprise." Joxer forced down a bite, then dipped up some for Bliss. Bliss kept his bargain and swallowed it, with many a grimace. They traded off several more bites. "You know, this stuff isn't so bad. You sort of get used to it. It'll never take the place of custard with strawberry sauce, but..."

"JOXER! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Joxer squeaked, and dropped the spoon as Cupid entered, with Ares and Dite right behind. "I... you wanted him to eat." Ares and Dite were staring at him. "Yeah, I know--I'm a mess. The kid has quite an arm. When he learns to use a sling, he's going to be deadly. Anyway, I had it all over my face, and he's right--it DOES taste nasty, at least at first."

Cupid thumped down into a chair, holding his head and moaning. "All my fault. Grandpa is going to neuter me."

Now Joxer was bewildered. "Well, I'm sorry if I ate too much of his breakfast. Isn't there more of it for him? I mean, after all--you're gods. I figured that running out of food wasn't a problem with you."

Cupid groaned and thumped his head on the table. Ares said shortly, "Stop it. He doesn't understand."

Aphrodite, who seemed to be caught somewhere between hilarity and horror, said, "Joxer, sweetie, do you know what that was?"

"Cupid said it was a tonic." Cupid thumped his head again. "You ought to at least wear a helmet if you're going to do that."

Aphrodite patted her son on the back. "We're all a little to blame, hon. We shouldn't have left it here with a mortal, but it honestly never occured to me, and I'm positive it wasn't deliberate."

"No," Joxer protested. "I wouldn't just dunk my face in food. I mean, I've fallen face first into a few soup bowls, but I was really, really drunk then, and they were my own meals. Bliss just got a little, er, enthusiastic."

Ares sighed. "He really DOESN'T know. Joxer, that pink shit is ambrosia."

"Am...? Oh, ammy-brosy-rosy-yucka." He smiled at Bliss. "I see what you mean now. That's a pretty good name for it, and..." His eyes shot wide open. "Ambrosia?" Ares nodded. "As in 'food of the gods'?" Ares nodded again. Joxer's voice was rising. "As in 'eat it and you're a god, whether you want to be or not'?"

"Yes."

"I DON'T WANT TO BE!" Joxer fainted.

Ares caught him before he could hit the floor. Cupid sat up. "I guess he DIDN'T know about it. I've never seen a mortal confronted with the possibility of divinity react like that."

"Yes," Ares was easing Joxer down on a sofa. "Well, he may not have a lot of PRACTICAL sense, but he's smart enough to realize that there's a lot of baggage that comes along with a godhood. Dite, what the Tartarus are we going to do now? Zeus would be pissed enough with him just being immortal. Now..." Ares stroked Joxer's hair. "I'd rather not have him tossed up to the moon, or chained down in Asphodel."

"The old goat tries that," said Dite grimly, "and he won't be getting anything from anyone, male or female--under the age of eighty-five. And you know the normal life span of mortals these days--his pickings will be SLIM."

Cupid was looking around. "Are you SURE Strife left? This smacks of something he'd do."

"Not intentionally," said Dite firmly. "He likes Joxer, and he's dealt with Zeus extensively. He wouldn't wish that on someone he liked, not even with the bonus of divinity thrown in. No, it just happened. Shit does."

"What?"

"Happen. Shit happens--at least that's what that funny peice of sticky paper that Strife brought back from the Halls of Time says."

Ares was watching Joxer in concern. "Dite, he's sweating--bad."

"Oh, dear. Cupid, take Bliss to his room. I don't want him to see this." Cupid scooped the little boy up into his arms and carried him out of the room, with Bliss protesting loudly that he wanted to stay with his new sitter. "Ares, you've never seen a mortal take ambrosia. You need to be very calm about this..."

"Shit! Any time someone tells me I need to be calm, I know that it's probably going to be fucking natural to be anything BUT."

"I know, but in this case getting upset won't help." The still unconscious Joxer had started to tremble. "I'm glad he passed out. This is the unpleasant part."

"What's happening to him?" Joxer's arms and legs had begun to twitch, his head tossing. Ares sat, pulling him into his arms and trying to still the tremors. "Damn it, Dite! Go get Apollo, or Ace. Get both of them."

"It won't do any good, dear. This is natural."

Joxer was thrashing now, movements so violent that Ares was having trouble holding on to him. "NATURAL? He's having a fuckin SEIZURE!"

"It's his godhood manifesting for the first time. We're born with ours, and we begin absorbing our energy in small, gradual doses. Poor Joxie is getting several years worth of power all at once, and it HURTS. But it will only be another minute, Ares," she said quickly, seeing his grim look. "See? It's stopping now."

Sure enough, the shaking was easing. Soon Joxer lay limp in Ares' arms. "DAMN it, Dite! Is this what being a god is going to be like for him?"

Aphrodite materialized a small bottle, uncorked it, and waved it under Joxer's nose. "Not if we teach him how to handle it. It will get easier, once his godhood is determined, and channeled."

Joxer coughed, and opened his eyes. "What happened? I feel like I've been through an earthquake." He winced apprehensively. "Did Zeus find out about the apples and ambrosia? If he did, and this is the worst he's going to do, I'm not happy, but I can live with it."

Ares materialized a glass of wind and held it to Joxer's lips. "Drink." Joxer took a mouthful and then swiftly spat it back into the glass. "Joxer."

"That has ambrosia in it," Joxer protested. "I can taste it."

"Just a little, and you're going to need it to build up your strength. You might as well get used to it--we ALL have to eat it."

"You mean that I'm going to have to go through that on a regular basis? How do you people STAND it?"

"No," Aphrodite explaind. "The first time is a little rough for mortals. You'll be all right now, and Ares is right. If we don't eat at least a little regularly, we sort of fade. You know--decline?"

Joxer reluctantly finished the wine, then sat up. "You know, I DO feel a little perkier. Okay, you say I'm a god now?" The other two nodded. "God of WHAT?"

"We don't know," said Aphrodite. "You have to be officially designated. Zeus will need to consult the Fates, then make a formal declaration, and present you to the Pantheon. Once that's done, the power will be channeled, and you can learn to control it."

Joxer paled. "You mean that I'm going to have to go face to face with Zeus?"

"There's no other way."

"Couldn't we put this off for, say, a century or two?"

"I suppose we can wait a little while, don't you think, Dite?" Ares asked. His eyes were telling her that she'd better agree.

Aphrodite chewed her lip. "It can't be for too long, 'Res. The longer you wait, the more energy is going to build up. He could get like someone wearing wool on a cold, dry day. Then he reaches for something metal, and ZAP! Energy's natural state is flux, and god-energy is at least a little sentient. It's going to be looking for some outlet."

"Don't worry," said Joxer. "I'll exercise a lot."

Aphrodite didn't miss the sudden gleam in Ares' eyes, and forced back a smile. *Yeah, and I think you'll have help.*


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