Ares finished the last scroll in the left-hand pile and sat back to rub his eyes. "How in Tartarus does he keep up with all the paperwork?" He asked the ceiling. Stretching his arms wide, he heard the bones crack and the muscles pop. Looking back at Zeus' desk, he found a new pile of petitions waiting for him. Moaning softly, he reached out a hand for the top scroll. "Damn pharins are collecting them faster than I can read them. Where are the Muses when you really need them?"
"Working as liaisons with the temples." Joxer strolled into the study with a tray of aromatic food that made the dark god's stomach growl. "They really are taking most of the requests and petitions. You just get the hard ones." He set the tray down in the only clear spot on the desk and squeaked when his lover pulled him down into his lap.
Long moments were spent in serious tongue fucking before Ares pulled back with a sigh of relief. Flashing back on Joxer's comment, he smirked and reached for a cup of steaming soup. "Some hard ones, I really don't mind getting."
Joxer just grinned and proceeded to feed him bite-sized hunks of fresh baked bread covered in slightly melted feta cheese. Ares devoured the entire tray of food while also nibbling on his lover. When it was all gone, Joxer laid his head on the dark god's shoulder and absentmindedly stroked through the dark curls on Ares' chest.
"Ares, I'm not pulling my weight around here. There's so little I can do without being able to control the elements." His voice was low and unhappy.
The dark god rested his cheek on the silky ebony strands of the newest god on Olympus. "You're up with the sun every day. You've single-handedly restored three temples. Asclepius sings your praises for your help in his healing temples. And you've kept me sane in an insane world."
Joxer raised his head and looked uncertainly at his lover. //Is it enough? People are still dying every day. Just for the lack of food and shelter.//
//I know, love. But just think. If it had been winter, the casualties would be triple what they are now. The cold and damp would have killed even more than the whirlwinds, floods and earthquakes.// He tried to put all his love and belief in his lover into the thought.
The beloved face softened and Joxer kissed him tenderly, returning the love tenfold before pulling away. Settling in an adjacent chair, he held out his hand for the quill pen. They worked in near silence for another hour. Ares read the petitions and gave them to Joxer with the name of the god who'd be handling it. The young god would write whatever Ares told him to on the outside of the scroll and place it on another table for the pharins to deliver later.
Ares finally finished the last scroll and stood to stretch. Joxer laid it aside and looked expectantly at his lover.
"Yes. We're done for today. I want to check in with Athena before we head back to the temple. She's been absentminded lately." He frowned. "Artie said she's getting over Metis' death but I'm not so sure. She hides her feelings as well as I do."
Joxer grinned at him and he cuffed him gently. "All right, all right. As well as I used to hide my feelings. I never realized being happy would be so detrimental to my tough mean persona."
They left Zeus' temple at a slow walk. Ares couldn't spare the energy to zap them anywhere. He had to save it for the trips to his temples which he spaced out to every other day. The dark god shook his head at the damage still apparent on the usually pristine hillsides of the home of the gods. Half demolished temples and uprooted trees still outnumbered repaired homes and replanted gardens.
"Cycrops and I finished Fortuna's temple this afternoon. Tomorrow, we thought we'd work on Tyche's roof. Her place is pretty much open to the elements right now and she's been staying with Auge." Joxer said absently while assessing the damage to Hermes temple.
"You know, considering how badly Uncle Poseidon treated Cycrops, I'm surprised Athena talked him into helping any of us out." Ares attention was still on that last batch of petitions.
"We've had time to talk the last three days and he seems to be a pretty easy going fellow. He's a really good carpenter. I've learned a lot about wood and how to make sure something is structurally sound." Joxer said smilingly.
Something in his voice caught Ares' attention and he looked a question at his young lover. "Do you think that's something you'd like to explore more thoroughly?"
Joxer tilted his head and returned the look. "As in, become the god of? I don't know. It's satisfying to work and see something you've built standing straight and strong. But it's just wood and iron, not ..."
Ares understood his struggle to explain. //Alive. Wood belongs to earth but it's not like a living tree. Don't worry, there's no hurry for you to choose.//
//That's it. There's only the memory of life in the wooden planks. Not like when you touch a tree. Like the ones in Artemis' grove.// Joxer got a rather dreamy look in his eyes.
"Joxer!" Ares put a shocked look on his face. "Have you been going behind my back and visiting the huntress?"
For a moment, Joxer looked startled but then the mind laughter leaked through into his thoughts and he stuck out his tongue at his lover before taking off in a run for Athena's temple. Ares laughed out loud and chased after him. They attracted a swarm of zephyrs that danced between them on the white path that led between the temples.
Slowing, Joxer let Ares catch him into a hug. While the zephyrs darted about them with high-pitched giggles, they exchanged a slow kiss. Ares finally leaned back far enough to address the tiny gods. "All right guys, I'll bet Chloris is looking for you. It's almost dinner time."
"Do you want to talk to Athena alone? Would I be in the way?" Joxer still sounded uncertain to his lover's ear. Ares really hated that feeling of disbelief that still occasionally surfaced in their lives.
"She's family, Joxer and so are you. Of all my sisters and cousins, she's the one I'm closest to. I've always looked on her as my little sister even though she's about a hundred years older than I am. The other kids made fun of her because she was always reading. But when I was very little, she'd read aloud to me." He smiled reminiscently. "She made the old scrolls come alive and all the old adventures seem real."
"Wow! That's so neat. Like Nana when she'd tell me stories. Except she couldn't read." Joxer's eyes lit up with pleasure. "You've never talked about when you were a child."
"In a thousand years, my love, you'll have heard all the stories at least once. We haven't even been together a year as yet." Ares ran gentle hands down Joxer's arms.
His young lover glowed with contentment. "I know. It seems like you came to help me only yesterday. But then it seems like ... forever ago."
"We've got forever, now." Ares pulled him into his arms and kissed him tenderly, enjoying the spicy taste that always said 'Joxer' to him. Feeling himself grow hard, he broke the kiss with a groan. "Later, love. After we make sure that Athena's all right."
"I'll hold you to that." Joxer grinned and stroked himself across Ares' groin just once before stepping back.
Ares returned the grin with a muttered, "Tease," and a quick pinch to his ass. Joxer jumped and smothered a chuckle as he followed his lover up onto the temple portico. They entered into a book-lined room surrounding a central fireplace. It appeared empty except for the great white horned owl perched near the fire.
"Hi, Archimedes. Is Athena home yet?" Ares spoke gently to the half asleep owl.
"Who-o-o, yes. Home." The sharp beak snapped twice at the end of the word.
"How does she seem to you?" Ares had a great deal of respect for the wise old bird. "She seems so quiet these days."
"Tired. Who-o-o, yes." He bobbed his head twice.
A muffled shriek from beyond the inner door interrupted their conversation and Ares instantly headed for the sound. //What was that?//
//Could something or someone be left over from the war?// Joxer was right on his heels.
Flinging open the heavy oak door, Ares stopped in shock at the sight before him. A half-naked Cycrops was struggling with a disheveled Athena, half on and half off her bed. Two laughing faces turned at their entrance and quickly changed to dismay.
"What in Tartarus is going on?" Ares really didn't mean to roar but shock triggered his fight reflex.
Athena wiggled out from under Cycrops with a deepening frown on her face. "Well, if you'd knocked before bursting in here ..." She sounded angry and stood by the bed with her arms folded and one foot tapping impatiently.
"We heard a cry!" Ares couldn't decide where to look. He couldn't believe at how little she was wearing.
"We got a little carried away." The tall dark sailor stood behind her now, his hands gently settling on her shoulders.
Joxer had one hand on Ares' arm, tugging surreptitiously backward. "Well, so long as everything is all right. We'll just be going now."
"Wait a minute. What is this, Athena?" Ares couldn't believe his eyes. Athena couldn't have ... couldn't be ... A lover?
"What does it look like, Ares?" The dark goddess leaned back against Cycrops, her ivory skin gleaming against his dark glowing skin.
"Oh, gods." Ares couldn't wrap his mind around the implication. "He took advantage of you while you were healing."
"Don't be an idiot, Ares." Athena looked like she was going to come over and punch him out but Cycrops held her back. "I chose him because I love him. I've loved him for what seems like forever. If anyone took advantage, it was me."
Ares opened and closed his mouth. His image of her warred with what he was seeing now. But they'd always been friends and he didn't want to antagonize her anymore than he already had. "Are you ... okay?"
She covered one of Cycrop's hands with one of hers and smiled tremulously. "I've never been happier."
"I see. Well, then, I guess we'll see you tomorrow." He faltered and made a half-hearted gesture of farewell.
Athena sighed and released herself from Cycrop's embrace before coming over to Ares and giving him a hug. He returned it gingerly. //She was never a hugging person before.// He thought in bewilderment.
"As happy as you are with Joxer after all the lonely years, that's how happy I am with Cycrops, now." She murmured in his ear before stepping away and smiling at Joxer. "We can talk tomorrow."
"Good night." Joxer was tugging him out the door with a wave at the dark sailor and a grin for Athena.
She shut the door behind them with a decided slam and the sound of the bolt sliding home was loud in the silence. Joxer led him out of the temple with a goodnight to the owl who appeared to be laughing at them with little puffs of "who-o-o-o, who-o-o". Ares' thoughts spun like whirlwinds into tangled knots of when and why and how long.
They arrived at their temple in silence. Joxer respected his confusion and guided him gently around obstacles until they were safely home. He was pushed into the chair by the fire and his lover knelt to remove his boots.
"They're lovers." There, he'd said it out loud. "Athena and Cycrops are lovers."
"They looked happy. He was very gentle with her. Just like you were with me when I first came to you." Joxer handed him the ever-filled goblet from the hearth.
Ares' thoughts stilled while he remembered their early lovemaking. His gaze softened as he looked at Joxer in the firelight. The light tan from their island stay had not yet faded and he glowed in the dim light. His dark hair was longer now, brushing his collar in sable curls. His eyes gleamed wine dark while his smile lit the room with it's radiance.
The dark god leaned forward and set the goblet down before cupping the intelligent face between both hands. "They can not possibly love each other more than I love you. Every day we're together is a precious gift."
"Then be happy *for* them. I know it was a shock but doesn't Athena deserve happiness as well." His lean long fingered hand came up to cover Ares' right hand while his left began a slow massage of Ares' thigh.
"Yes. Of course she does. It's just that aside from Aunt Hestia, she's been a virgin goddess longer than any of the others. I just never expected her to ... take a lover." It still felt odd to be calling Athena a lover.
"You never thought that maybe..." It was Joxer's turn to hesitate. "Since you both are gods of war that maybe you'd end up together?"
"What! Are you kidding? She's my little sister. Okay, only half a sister but still." Ares couldn't believe Joxer would even ask such a question. "Besides, no one could ever take your place. And that place is by my side. Always."
Joxer's smile lit the room and he leaned up to tenderly kiss Ares with passion and desire. They caught fire quickly, stripping each other eagerly on the soft rug by the fire. The goblet barely survived their energetic rolling around and Joxer's panting gasps went straight to Ares' groin. Grabbing the oil they kept by the fire, he lovingly stretched his lover while deep- throating his succulent cock.
"Oh, gods, Ares. Now. Please, now." Joxer begged with both hands gripping his lover's head almost painfully.
The dark god laughed around the pulsing organ and felt it spasm in reaction. Pressing hard against the base of Joxer's cock, he watched him shudder to a lower level of arousal. Withdrawing slowly, he feathered a lick to the weeping crown. "Ambrosia, love."
Joxer opened his eyes and blushed. Ares loved it when his young lover blushed. He felt seven feet tall and incredibly turned on by his ability to disconcert him with the truth. Pulling him towards him, he withdrew his fingers from the puckered opening and nudged his own rock hard cock to the entrance.
"Now, love." Joxer's whisper was half out loud and half a thought, sending ripples of desire through the god of war both physically and mentally.
"Now." He agreed and began the long slow slide into the heated depths of his lover. Almost, it felt like the first time. But this was better because they were both sure of themselves and each other.
"Mine." Joxer wiggled a little to seat him more deeply.
"Yours." Ares agreed and began the gentle rhythm of long slow slides in and out of the tight channel. Heat flared within and without as their minds melded together in tune with their bodies. Time ceased to mean anything while they rocked together towards fulfillment.
Sweat slick skin gleamed in the firelight as hands gripped and moved up and down over chest and hips. Small moans filled the air as they neared completion and Ares watched with awe as Joxer's face glowed ecstatically beneath him. Then, their eyes locked and their thoughts merged into one as they pulsed out their joy.
//Mine.// Ares murmured, collapsing on Joxer's chest.
//Yours.// Joxer held him close and tightened his inner muscles one more time to wring a little more pleasure from his lover.
Ares rolled them over to their sides and licked at the spot beneath Joxer's left ear, sending a shiver down his satiated lover. //I hope they love half as well as we do.//
Cycrops rolled them to their sides so he wasn't crushing Athena. "Did you mean it, love? About forever?"
Athena smiled and stroked his cheek before reaching up to pull him down for another kiss. "Always and forever, Cycrops."
End chapter two