saga/title/fandom: Love and Mischief Saga: Seeking Balance chapter 11 (Hercules/Xena)
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 11: Beginning
Ares released Joxer, who staggered a couple of steps. Ares caught his arm. "You're going to have to get used to this, Joxer. As a god, it's going to be your main form of transportation."
Joxer sat on the bed, rubbing his head. "Ooo, I'm not sure about this. Can't you just send me back to earth, and we'll forget this all happened?"
Ares sat beside him. "Look, I can understand that you're reluctant--there are times I really wish I was just a simple mortal warlord. But that's not how it is, Joxer. You are now divine, and you're stuck with it."
"Couldn't Zeus make me mortal again?"
Ares chewed his lip. "Look, considering how this happened, I have to feel that the Fates are heavily invested in it." He scowled. "Though why the Trippy Trio never said anything to ANY of us escapes me. Usually they delight in making cryptic pronouncements, then watching us run around, trying to figure them out. Tartarus, maybe they HAVE said something about it, and it was just so obscure that we couldn't interpret it. Now that we've been blindsided, they'll probably chortle about it, and pick out every little nuance and twist that we SHOULD have caught. Strife explained something he's planning for the future called 'term papers', where people have to come up with the most outlandish meanings that authors are supposed to have hidden in their works. I think the Fates are a lot like those Lit Professors he talks about."
"Huh. Well, if they're THAT bad, I'm not surprised they're lit. I'm sure that doing something like that would make a lot of people want to burn them at the stake."
"The point is, if the Fates decreed it, it's impossible for even Zeus to reverse it. We're talking end of the world shit here, Joxer. You don't fuck around with the Fates. If they've woven you into the Tapestry of Life as a god, then you're a god--end of story."
Joxer stood up. "But it's NOT the end of the story, Ares! The story never ends. See, that's one thing I learned from Gabrielle. The..."
"You don't mean to tell me that witch actually knows something worthwhile?"
"Will you let me finish?" Joxer snapped.
Ares blinked at him. "You know, Joxer, I think that being a god may have made you a bit more forceful."
Joxer was flustered. "Uh, I'm sorry. I just wanted to explain..."
"I like it."
"Oh." Joxer cleared his throat. "Uh, anyway... No story ever REALLY ends, the teller just stops telling it. Things continue, things change; people have to keep on keeping on. Now, Zeus either takes away the godhood, or leaves it in place. Either way, the story goes on." He dropped back down on the bed again, shoulders drooping. "Either way, I have to deal with it. It's MY story, because it's happening to me." He sighed, then looked over at Ares. "Sorry. I babble sometimes."
"If you think that's babbling, you've obviously never listened to Dite on a sugar rush. No, Joxer, you're right, and I apologize. It ISN'T that simple for you. It's just that I've had to deal with it all my life, so it's never really been a question of what I was going to do."
"That's right," said Joxer softly. "You never had a choice."
Ares shrugged. "Neither does anyone else, god or mortal. Iphecles didn't ask to be born king, Salmoneus didn't choose to be a scam artist... Wait... that's not a good example--he probably DID. Even Zeus didn't' have a choice of being what he is." He rubbed the back of his neck. "It's just that some people are easier in their fates than others, I suppose, and can make more or less of it."
Joxer nodded. They sat in silence for a few moments, then Joxer said, "Can I ask you a question?"
Ares shot him an amused look. "I haven't noticed you being reticent before."
"It's the only way to learn anything," he paused, thoughtful, "unless they have a scroll available, but I've noticed that they don't HAVE scrolls on a lot of important stuff, and sometimes READING about something just won't help that much. Like trying to learn another language? You can read all the vocabulary you want, but if you don't LISTEN to someone speaking it, then you'll never get the pronunciation right, and that can be DANGEROUS. Did you know how that in Chin if you go UP at the end of one word it means 'friend' and if you go DOWN it means 'piece of shit'?"
"Fascinating. You had a question?"
"Oops--side tracked again. Yeah. Why are you being so nice to me?"
Ares stared at him. Finally he said, "Why shouldn't I be?"
"It's not fair to answer a question with a question."
"I'm a god--I don't have to be fair."
Joxer frowned. "Well, if THAT'S the attitude a god has to have, I SURE don't want to be one!" He stood up and stalked out of the room.
Ares pounded his fist on the bed. *Fuck! Well, that went well. Why couldn't I just tell him that I like him?" He smoothed his hand over the sheets, remembering last night, and this morning. *Or maybe MORE than like him?* He shook his head quickly. *He's a good lay, he's an amusing companion, he's a decent guy. But love?* He snorted softly. *What would be the point? Loving someone who doesn't love you back is something that had to be invented in Tartarus. No, I don't have to love him.* He stood up and started for the hall. *But I DO have to go apologize to him.*
Joxer was where Ares expected to find him--in the garden. He was on his knees in front of what was barely recognizable as a flowerbed--it was so overgrown that the flowers themselves were tiny, and almost hidden by weeds. Joxer was weeding, sharply jerking up clumps of plant matter and tossing them, here, there... Ares stood behind him. "Joxer..." A clump flew over Joxer's shoulder, striking Ares' leg. Ares noticed a faint trail of silvery sparks following it. *Tartarus! He's already starting to manifest. I'd better get him calmed down before he does something. Knowing him, he'd beat himself up if he accidentally blasted someone.* "Joxer, slow down. You're pulling the flowers as well as the weeds."
Joxer stopped cold. "Crap." He sighed. "I shouldn't do things when I'm angry--it makes me careless. And I guess I can't let that happen, now that I'm a god."
*You have no idea how right that is.* Ares knelt beside him. "You know, a lot of us who are born to it never really grasp that." He put a hand on Joxer's shoulder. "And you've learned it your first day. I'm proud of you, and I'm sorry I upset you."
Joxer looked over at him, expression solemn. Finally he smiled faintly. "Why do I get the feeling that apologies from you aren't exactly common?"
"That's because I'm never wrong." Joxer folded his arms. "Okay, seldom wrong."
The smile returned. "Oo, and I think THAT might qualify as ANOTHER apology. Two in one day. Maybe the Fates should be notified?"
Ares sat back on the grass. "You damn sure don't make things easy. You asked me a question earlier. Do you still want an answer?"
Joxer sat beside him. "Questions don't really go away, just like stories don't end."
"Okay." Ares scratched his beard. "Joxer, I don't see it as me being particularly NICE to you. I'm doing the right thing. You got hurt protecting me. You're my follower..." he paused, "you WERE my follower. I had a responsibility."
"Oh." Joxer drooped slightly.
Ares leaned around to peer at his face. "The explanation doesn't suit you?"
"No, no. It makes sense." His voice dropped. "I sort of figured that was what it was."
He pulled his knees up and hugged them. "Oh, it's just that I would have liked it if someone was nice to me because they WANTED to be instead of because they felt obligated," he sighed, "or wanted something."
Ares felt stung. "Are you saying that you think I was nice to you because I wanted to get into your pants?"
Joxer plucked a blade of grass, twirling it between his fingers. "Weren't you?"
"I... I wasn't thinking of that, Joxer. I just... Do I strike you as the sort who'd do something he didn't want to, just to get some nooky?" Joxer seemed to consider this. "You have to THINK about it? Damn. What sort of reputation have I got lately?"
"It's not that. Heck, the thought of you having to go out of your way to convince someone to sleep with you is kind of silly." Now Ares felt a prick of pride. He'd long ago learned to take worship in stride, but genuine admiration was different--it was much harder to come by. Joxer was continuing. "I'm just pleased that I was there to help you when you wanted someone." He got on his knees again and began pulling weeds, more carefully now. "I'd better finish what I started."
Ares watched as Joxer carefully thinned out the greenery, and thought, *I didn't want just anyone--I wanted YOU.* But he didn't say anything. The only people in his life that he'd told he loved were his blood. Those instances were few, and usually consisted of a quick, half-embarrassed, half-irritated mumble. After all, he was War--how could anyone view him loving someone as anything but a weakness? And showing weakness was DANGEROUS. *This type of weakness would be most dangerous to the other one involved. When you're a god and you acknowledge that you love someone, it might give them SOME protection, but it also might paint a big, red bull's eye on them. Better not risk it.*
Ares blinked. "Pardon?"
"Geraniums. See? These are geraniums--red. And those are delphiniums--blue. You could hardly tell before with all the weeds, but there's really quite a nice little bunch of flowers here. Now that I'm a god, am I going to have to get my own place?"
*Move out? I hadn't thought about that. What if Zeus sends him to the House of Love?* A horrible thought occurred to Ares. *Or the House of Intellect. Shit, he CAN'T put Joxer under Apollo's directive!* He kept the unease out of his voice. "Not necessarily. The newer godlings usually stay with the deities who rule their respective houses, at least at first."
"But aren't most of the new godlings BORN, not made? They'd stay with their parents, right?"
"It can be tricky, Joxer. Cupid was designated House of Love, so he went to live with Aphrodite and Hephastus."
Joxer stopped what he was doing, and looked at Ares with dismayed sympathy. "I hadn't thought of that." He laid a hand gently on Ares' arm. "Your son was taken from you."
Ares felt his heart tighten as he remembered the pain of that time. "It isn't really like that. Dite lived here with him for a couple of years before she moved back to her place. Dite and Heph have never tried to keep me out of Cupid's life, never talked me down to him. They've made me a part of his life, involved in the important decisions."
"But he's your child, and you couldn't raise him. That hurt, Ares." It wasn't a question--it was a statement of fact. "It must have been very lonely when he went to stay with Aphrodite. "You must have been so lonely when they went away."
"Eris asked me to take over Strife not long after. Strife is very good at filling your time. He's infuriating, but seldom boring." Ares was quiet for a moment. "You know, it HAS been pretty quiet since that maniac moved out."
"You miss him."
Ares frowned. "No, I don't. I just can't handle massive doses of peace and serenity."
Joxer looked around the garden. "Well, when I get through with this place, any time you need a little peace, you can just come out here. It'll be something to remember me by."
The squeezing sensation was a little stronger this time. "You planning on going somewhere?"
Joxer shrugged, not looking at him, as he wiped his hands on the grass. "I can't stay here forever. After all, I'm not your relation, or your pet, or your... whatever. I suppose I'll have to go somewhere, sometime."
Ares reached over, cupping the back of Joxer's neck. "We don't have to think about that right now." He massaged, working at the tensed muscles, making his voice persuasive. "Can't we just let that go for a little while?" Joxer's eyes closed, as he leaned back into the touch. Ares realized that the new immortal wasn't worrying about holding himself up, trusting instead to Ares. "Have you ever had sex outdoors?"
Joxer smiled slightly. "Yes. You know, twigs can get in VERY uncomfortable places."
Ares pushed him back gently onto the grass. "There aren't any twigs here, and you've never had sex with ME outside." Ares knelt, straddling Joxer's thighs. "Open your shirt." Joxer reached for the buttons, but Ares caught his wrists, pinning his hands at his sides. "Not like that."
"I can't very well reach them with my teeth."
"Do it with your mind."
Joxer laughed a bit nervously. "Yeah, right."
"I'm serious, Joxer. You're going to have to start learning these things, and it might as well start now."
"Think about it. Picture the buttons sliding free of the holes, then concentrate. SEE it happening. Go on."
Joxer sighed, then closed his eyes. His face scrunched up in concentration, brow furrowing. After a moment he opened his eyes. "It's no use."
"I didn't think you were a quitter, Joxer." Joxer frowned, and Ares decided to push a little harder. "I KNOW you're not a quitter. You'd have given up on being a warrior long ago if you were, what with everyone telling you you couldn't do it, you were no good at it. This is something I believe you can do. Try, Joxer."
Joxer's jaw firmed. Ares believed he could do it. He pictured the buttons of the pink shirt sliding out of their holes. Nothing. Ares voice was impatient. "Damn it, don't you WANT me to make love to you?"
*Make love? HE SAID MAKE LOVE!* Joxer gritted his teeth and PUSHED. There was a ripping sound, and suddenly several tiny somethings pattered down on his chest, and he felt a breeze.
Joxer opened his eyes and looked down at himself. The pink shirt had been ripped open down the front--the little touches he'd felt were the buttons raining down on him after they'd been popped off. Not only that, but the lacings on his breeches had been torn open. At this angle he could see pubic hair peeking out, and the curved base of his half-hard cock. He looked quickly up at Ares, who shook his head. "Wasn't me." He squeezed his hands, and Joxer realized that Ares was still pinning his wrists down, and the grip had never eased. "No, you did that all on your own. I wasn't expecting you to be able to do more than get the top couple of buttons undone." He smiled slowly. "A person would think that you had some sort of inspiration."
"Let's say 'incentive'." He sighed, relaxing against the grass. "I'm tired. I feel like I've been working like a mule for about two days."
There was a tinge of disappointment in Ares' voice. "We can wait, then."
Joxer lifted his knee till his thigh pressed up against Ares' crotch, then he rubbed it back and forth slowly. He watched as Ares' dark eyes grew almost black. "I didn't say I wanted to wait. I just want to go slow."
"I can do slow." Ares proceeded to prove that he could, indeed, go slow. He helped Joxer remove the rest of his clothing, then stripped himself. For the first time, Joxer experienced what it was like to be oiled by will power. One moment he was dry, the next a generous layer of slickness coated the inside of his back passage, and Ares first finger was slowly sinking inside.
Ares took a long time preparing him, probing and stretching gently till Joxer was relaxed and open, and whimpering with pleasure. Then he rolled the slender man over and moved up between his spread legs. Joxer buried his face in the sweet grass, feeling his throbbing cock caressed by hundreds of soft, cool blades as he was filled with hot, hard flesh.
It went on for a long time. Ares fucked him slowly and gently, kissing his neck and shoulders, sliding his hands over every stretch of smooth skin that he could reach. When he felt close to bursting, and Joxer was moaning and thrusting back at him, he rolled them both over onto their sides, gripped Joxer's cock, and stroked him to completion as he came. Joxer trembled as he felt the hot, liquid gush, and his body clenched automatically. The internal muscles rippled, squeezing the last drops of Ares' seed from him. Joxer took hold of Ares' hands, drawing them to fold over his belly, then holding them there. They were both very still, neither wanting to lose the physical connection. Even though he'd softened, Ares' cock remained inside Joxer's body for long minutes while Ares cuddled against the new godling's back, marveling at how RIGHT this cuddling felt.
Clotho had long ago learned to do her job automatically, while her sisters, Lachesis and Atropos had to pay attention to what they did, since any little slip could have far reaching consequences. Clotho had only to be sure that she did not snap or fray any new thread through clumsiness. To do so might end a life prematurely, or weaken it so that Atropos was forced to sever it before its appointed time. She did what she had to do, but took little interest in the new threads that flew from her distaff.
Sometimes, though--very rarely--there was something REALLY new. Today something caught her eye. There was a glint in the web of threads that spun off from the distaff, and she peered at them more closely. The last time she'd seen one of those had been...
She sat up quickly, her voice rising in delight. "Sisters! Come see."
"What is it, Clotho?" Atropos snipped a thread, and on earth, the last rung but one on a tall ladder snapped. She was weaving the cut end of the thread into the tapestry even as people began to gather around the still form that lay on the ground at the foot of the ladder.
"There's a new thread."
"Of course there is." Lachesis twined two threads together, and Cupid's arrows struck two young people, binding them together for life. From now till Atropos cut one or the other, they would run together. "There are ALWAYS new threads."
"But this one is special."
Lachesis frowned, scanning her recent work. "I don't see anything unusual."
"Of course not, silly! It's very, very new. It won't reach you for some time yet--months."
Atropos shrugged. "As she said, sister--there are always new threads."
"Not like this one. The last time I saw one like this, Passion and Mind brought forth Joy."
The other two gasped, and Lachesis said, "A godly child!" They stopped their work immediately, smiling, and came to examine the new thread. Clotho carefully pushed the other threads aside, so that they could see it clearly.
"Ah," breathed Atropos, "See it shine!"
"But look," Clotho didn't quite touch the fragile new life. "There's darkness here, too. Just a little, like a shadow. This child will be a blend of dark and light."
"Who are the parents?" asked Atropos.
Lachesis shrugged. "You know better than that, sister. It will be a while before I could even make a good guess. There are many, many threads that it is close to. It is, of course, bound with the mother's thread for now--this one. My, my. I've seldom seen such a pure color. If we wait a few months, the new life will be strong enough for us to trace the mother's thread, and learn who she is--and perhaps the father. For now, though, we must leave it be. We dare not disturb it."
They all three nodded in agreement, and went back to their work--it could not long be neglected. There were already people who had suffered more than they should have, waiting for Atropos to end their lives. There were important decisions that had been put off till Lachesis resumed weaving.
"One thing we can do while we wait, sisters," said Atropos. "We must begin to consider what godhood this new divinity is to assume. We'd best begin to think on it now."
"Yes," Lachesis agreed. She laughed softly, and her sisters gave her a questioning look. "I was only thinking--I hope that the mortals never learn that there are forces which rule destiny that even WE do not comprehend." She shook her head. "Bless them, they WILL expect things to make sense."
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