Author: Athea (
Series: War God I, part 10
Elements of War

Joxer tramped through the snow watching for further damage. The ice storm that had roared through the valley two days before had snapped tree limbs and broken shrubs down to the ground. He was keeping careful count and tracking the damage for later when he could start pruning. Some of the evergreens looked worse that they appeared. Some of those limbs that pressed to the ground would spring back when the ice melted.

He just wished that he could spring back from the ice in his own life. Ares had been gone for three days and Joxer had been cold the entire time. Not walking or wood splitting had tired him enough to sleep or warmed him entirely. He spent long hours pouring over gardening texts that the Muses had loaned him from the archive. Dreaming over what he could do in the spring made him forget for a moment or two that he was alone.

Stopping at the rise above the valley near the hot springs, he smiled at the crystalline wonder spread out before him. The sunlight glowed in a thousand ice fires, suspended from frozen limbs and ice laden branches. So much beauty and so destructive at the same time, he thought while he caught his breath and headed towards the springs.

He'd headed here on purpose this time, prepared with a towel. Ruefully, he admitted to himself that he was hoping that coming here would bring Ares home like the last time. It was silly but he was getting desperate. He'd agreed to wait here rather than on Olympus because it was safer and he didn't want Ares distracted if he had to fight.

He stripped and slipped into the water, letting the minerals take away the tension that was his constant companion. Pillowing his head on the stone edge, he let his body float among the fizzing bubbles. Finally, he relaxed and let his mind free to wander among the memories that he hoarded so jealously.

Each day on Olympus had been fraught with nervous tension. Some of the gods had treated him as Ares' pet, some as an oddity to be tolerated, while others had accepted him as the god of war's companion and thus worthy of respect. The women had fawned over him or propositioned him or laughed at him. He smiled wryly, par for the course.

After the first display of jealousy, Ares had relaxed and accepted the comments with an occasional clenched jaw or an eyebrow quirk. Joxer had enjoyed himself the more because it didn't feel real. He was just an actor in a play until Ares and he were alone, then life became real again.

Sighing, he slid his hands through the water, creating bubbles that tingled against his skin. Wishing very hard, he concentrated on the Ares that he knew. Remembering his grace on the dance floor, Joxer smiled at the feeling in the pit of his stomach. He felt weightless in the water just like he felt in Ares' arms. Almost, when Ares held him, he felt he could fly.

"Joxer." A hesitant voice broke into his thoughts.

His eyes flew open to find a strange woman kneeling by the side of the pool. Her features were vaguely fox-like, framed by long flowing brown hair. She was dressed in a gray and brown gown that hugged her limber body like a second skin.

"Who are you?" Joxer flushed in embarrassment.

"Ninea. Mountain oread. Stayed, I did when Ares came. Watch over all when he is gone. He says to look out for you. Good for him, you are. Always so lonely." She smiled but it faded quickly. "Place, there is, deep in the mountain. Much energy from battle. Safe place."

Joxer sat up and reached for the towel. Climbing out of the pool, he dried himself hastily, motioning her to keep talking. She watched him with an appraising look in her eyes before continuing.

"Much time ago, he comes with much energy. Very, very much." She gulped. "More than ever before. Always he shares with my mountain. But different this time. Too much."

"Evil?" Joxer finished pulling on his boots.

"What is evil?" She shook her head in puzzlement.

Joxer hesitated. How could she not know what evil is? He searched through his vocabulary looking for a word she might know. "Bad. Wrong. Negative. Opposite of good."

She shook her head. "Energy just is. There is much or not much. No good or ...evil." She stumbled over the word. "When much, Ares shares with the others. But this time, there is no one and he lies on the earth. Felt you in the water, I did. You must help him."

"Of course, I will." Joxer stood and offered her a hand up. She rose gracefully, standing only as tall as his chest. It was only then that he noticed that she was barefoot in the snow.

She headed out into the forest, moving surely up the hillside with Joxer close behind. He concentrated on not tripping and falling instead of the frightening picture of Ares silent and not moving. All that power and strength stilled in silence. Fear leant wings to his feet and he kept up with the oread once he decided to follow in her path. She left little or no tracks in the snow, running lightly over the surface.

Suddenly, she disappeared and Joxer almost fell over when he stopped abruptly. He searched for an opening or fissure in the cliff face that she might have entered but he could see nothing.

"Ninea! Ninea! Where are you?" He called.

"Here. Come." She appeared before him and grabbed his hand impatiently.

"I need an opening in the earth, Ninea. I don't think earth is one of my elements." Joxer resisted her tug. Actually, the thought of being totally surrounded by earth made him queasy.

"Silly human. Ninea fix." She closed her eyes and concentrated, her free hand pointing directly ahead at solid rock.

Joxer watched in awe as the cliff split in two and an opening appeared as if by magic. It wasn't very wide and he allowed her to tug him into the tunnel with a very real wish that he survive the next few moments. When daylight disappeared, he found all his senses reduced to touch and smell. Her small hand pulled him steadily forward and he concentrated on moving through the stone.

He tried not to think about the mountain above his head or the tons of stone and soil that would be his tomb if he got stranded here. His breath came faster and he found his heart beating so quickly that it thundered in his ears. The smell of earth cloyed his nostrils until he felt as if he was choking on it. He was seriously on his way to a hell of claustrophobia when he felt a change around him.

He put out his other hand and couldn't feel a wall to either side or even above him. A current of air fluttered around his face and he took a deep breath. Hints of water vapor floated in the scents about him.

"Ninea, I need some light. Can you do that?" He tugged on her hand.

"No fire." He actually felt the tremor in her hand.

"Okay. That's all right." He wondered what her other element was if not fire. "Where's Ares?"

"Here." She pulled him over to what might be the center of the chamber. "Careful, Joxer."

Joxer knelt and used both hands to feel for the body. For one panicked moment, he felt nothing but then the solid shape materialized beneath his searching fingers. Thankfully, he laid his head on the broad chest and listened for a heartbeat. It was slow, very slow but steady.

"Ares. Wake up, Ares. I need you to wake up and say something, love." Joxer shaped his body with his hands, checking for breaks or wounds. His vest was stiff with something dried and he really hoped it wasn't blood, at least not Ares' blood.

He had all his arms and legs, his hands were complete with all ten fingers and his breath came and went with great regularity. There was a bump on his head but nothing liquid was coming out. Joxer stretched out by his side and pulled him into his arms, being sure to leave most of his body still touching earth.

Laying one hand on his heart, he leaned over and kissed the cold lips. Putting all his love and desire behind the caress, he pulled back to whisper his name again. "Ares. Come back to me. Don't leave me alone. I need you."

Still no response. Joxer shook his shoulders gently and called his name commandingly. "Damn it, Ares. Wake up. You're scaring me, here, man. Open those beautiful brown eyes and look at me. Not that I could see you, of course but I expect you could see me."

"Yes, Joxer. Ares sees in the earth, like Ninea can." Her voice came softly from the tunnel behind them. "Why he not wake up?"

"I don't know, Ninea. I wish I did. Do you think it would be dangerous if we moved him?" Joxer kept stroking the cool cheek beneath his fingers. The flesh was the same temperature as the stone beneath them. It seemed to suck the heat right out of his body and he shivered.

"Joxer cold?" She sounded unsure.

"Yes. I am. Aren't you?" His teeth chattered slightly and he hugged his cloak closer around him.

"No. Ninea not cold. Earth is warm here. Energy keep it nice and warm." She sounded so matter of factly that he wondered what she was talking about. It sure felt cold to him. What could she mean about the energy?

He laid a hand on the stone and felt the heat sucked from it into the earth. "What energy, Ninea? I don't feel anything."

"Here, Joxer. Beneath." She sounded so puzzled that he hated to disappoint her but he couldn't feel a thing.

"Wait. Ninea open the earth. Maybe then you can feel it."

He felt her brush by him before he could stop her and the sound of gurgling water appeared by his ear. The stone split and a small pool of water gushed up to soak his arm and that of the dark god who lay so quietly by his side. This water felt like the hot springs, all tingling and effervescent. He felt a rush of warmth and strength pour into him.

He suddenly felt drunk, all control lost to the feeling of hazy ebullience that filled him up and overflowed into the air around him.

"Wow! That feels great. Your other element must be water, Ninea. How did you do that?" He took a deep sip of the bubbling water and immediately felt refreshed and invigorated.

"Do what, Joxer?" She sounded close but Joxer still couldn't see her. "The energy is all. Absorb it I do from earth and water."

"Sure." Joxer didn't understand but he wondered if Ares had felt this. "If Arry tried to absorb all of this, he's going to have one Tartartus of a hangover. It feels like fizz in my blood."

"Energy comes from earth." She helpfully told him.

"And he's lying on the earth so he's absorbing energy. Okay, that means he won't come out of it until we break the connection." Joxer thought fast. "We can do that. Help me roll him over on top of me. We'll use my body as a buffer. Don't let any part of him touch the ground."

The next few moments were interesting while they maneuvered Ares' limp body onto Joxer's, taking care to prop all his parts off of the earth. It was harder than it seemed since his arm kept wanting to slide off Joxer's chest. And one foot kept falling off onto the stone. But finally, he was cradled on Joxer, each body part nestled on one of Joxer's.

"Um, Ninea, could you close off the pool? It's still making me tingle and that may interfere with bringing Ares back." Joxer could feel the gentle fizz disappear with the closing of the stone. The cold spread through him quickly and he shivered. The only warmth came from Ares and his breath gusted gently against his throat.

Joxer felt the ice seep slowly through his body, cutting off the circulation and making him drowsy. If he was going to get through to his lover, it needed to be now.

"Ares. Wake up, love. I need you, Ares. I love you so much. Come back to me. Please, Arry. Don't leave me alone like this." Joxer put all his longing and love into his plea.

Silence filled the great cave and for a moment, he wondered if he would die here, leaving Ares as the dark god had feared. Then the breath on his throat changed into a sigh.



The beat of the heart under his ear was familiar. Ares wondered why that was, listening to the steady pounding. Why was it beating so fast? Now, there was a voice speaking in his ear, asking him to do something. He knew he should answer but he didn't have the energy to do so. Why didn't the voice go away and leave him to sleep?

But the panic in the familiar voice was breaking through his torpor and he roused enough to move his head. He had to speak up to reassure him. The fog in his mind couldn't tell him why, just that he had to. That this voice must never be hurt in any way, only protected.


The heart raced beneath his cheek and the voice almost shouted in his ear. "Ares. Wake up, love. Talk to me."

"Sleep. Talk later." Ares sighed.

"No, don't sleep, Arry. You need to wake up. It's dangerous for you to sleep now." Joxer hugged him closer and the tears in his voice got through to the sleepy god.

Ares roused enough to look around, wondering why it was so dark. "Joxer, where are we?"

"Ninea came and got me when you passed out in your cave in the valley." Joxer held him carefully. "When I got here, you were totally out on the stone floor and you wouldn't come to."

The little gasp in his voice, clued Ares into the fear that Joxer had experienced. "You were so cool that I pulled you off the stone in hopes that I could warm you up and stop all the energy from drugging you."

The fog of sleep was dissipating and Ares began to remember what had led him here. The battlefield and the pocket of energy that had all but destroyed him. He shuddered and began to think in earnest. He and Joxer had to get out of here. The energy levels were still way too high for a normal battlefield reaction.

"Ninea, are you still here?" Ares searched for her without touching the earth.

"Ninea is here, Ares. Frightened me, you did." The voice came from the darkness to his left.

He turned his head towards her, wincing as a sore spot on his head came into contact with Joxer's chin. "Thank you for bringing Joxer to me, Ninea. That was very brave of you. How does the energy feel to you?"

"Much. Too much. Hurts like loud noise in my head."

He had finally pinpointed her location with his hearing. She was crouched in a tunnel. "It should begin to dissipate soon, Ninea. Until then, I need you to listen for it and come to tell me when it is completely absorbed. Will you do that for me?"

"Ninea come. Joxer and Ares go now?" Her tones were almost cheerful at the thought of getting her mountain back to herself.

"Yes, little one. We're leaving." Ares gathered his strength and got a firm grip on Joxer's shoulders. "Joxer, hold onto me. This could be a rough trip."

"Wait, Ares. Should you be using so much of your strength?" Joxer sounded worried.

"No choice, love. I need to get out of here and there is no way in Tartarus that I'm leaving you behind. Hold on." Ares visualized the bed in the cottage where he and Joxer had spent so many happy hours. Focusing on it and forcing all else from his mind, he moved them from the cave to the cottage.

"Yeow, the light hurts." Joxer's voice had a cringe in it that Ares couldn't help but agree with. After the darkness of the cave, the bright light of the candles and fire was too much.

"Keep your eyes closed and wait for them to adjust." Ares felt the pounding headache grow impossibly larger.

Joxer's hands stroked up and down his back soothingly and Ares realized that he was clutching the young warrior's shirt tightly. Forcing himself to let go, he rolled off him and to the bed. His stomach roiled and he fought the urge to be sick. He felt Joxer leave the bed and return a few moments later with a damp cloth.

"You've got a lump on your head that may be making you nauseous, Ares." Joxer's voice was low and soothing and his touch was gentle.

He managed a small nod, biting back the surge of pain. "It's not helping. But it's the backlash from the energy that is causing me the worst problems. Can you get me to the fire?"

Joxer hesitated a moment then wedged his arm about his shoulders and helped him sit up. The room spun and his stomach spun with it but Ares just held on to his willpower and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He rested there a moment, his head cradled against his lover's shoulder and those strong arms holding him tightly.

"I'm glad you're here, Joxer. I think you may have saved my life."

"Can even a god be killed, Ares?" His hold tightened.

"We return to the elements just like mortals, Joxer. It just takes longer. Gods have been trapped when they tap into energy levels greater than they can control. I don't know how that feels but this may be close." Ares felt his stomach clench and knew he had to get to the fire, now.

Joxer practically carried him to the hearth and held him while he thrust his hand into the flames with a silent cry of help to his aunt. Pulling back, he collapsed on the rug with Joxer's arms still cradling him. "Don't let go, Joxer."

"Never." Came the fierce reply.

"Goodness gracious. What have you been up to, young Ares?" Hestia's voice was warm with concern.

"Backlash." Was all Ares could manage before his stomach clenched again and he rocked in agony on the hearth rug.

The next few moments forever remained a blur when he thought back on them. Efficient hands stripped him and he felt the tangled webs of power inside him reach out for the bright flame that was Hestia. Warmth raced through him as his body convulsed and the tendrils touched another source of power. It flowed from him, into her and he heard her cursing through a sunburst of heat and light before he passed out.


He awoke to dim light and the soft murmur of voices. The bed linen felt cool and clean beneath him and the pain in his head was gone. His stomach no longer roiled with tension, instead it just felt empty. Slowly, he stretched, checking for any other damage he might have taken in battle without noticing. Everything felt fine.

Turning his head and opening his eyes, he saw the top of Joxer's head by the side of the bed where he leaned back. Hestia sat on the hearth in her favorite position, talking animatedly about something or other. Her flame bright eyes catching his movement, she smiled.

"Finally awake, I see. And hungry, I'll wager." Her cheery accents brought a smile to his face.

"Ares?" Joxer turned and leapt up to hover over the bed, being careful not to jar or touch too hard, although his hand reached to him.

But Ares craved that touch now and he pulled Joxer down to him, needing the feel of the solid body against his. The young warrior sobbed once before burying his head in Ares' neck and clutching his wide shoulders. Ares rocked him gently and kissed the ear closest to his lips.

"I'm fine, Joxer. Really. Everything's going to be all right." He soothed the tremors from the beloved body beneath his hands and felt the familiar tingle start again in his groin. Grinning wryly, he banked the need to bury himself in the warmth that blanketed him. Not even Hestia's good nature would sit still for a mini-orgy and he needed to talk to her.

"Come and eat, boys. You'll both feel better." Her no-nonsense tones came briskly from the table where inviting scents wafted to the suddenly starving god.

"Come on, love. Let's eat something." He whispered in Joxer's ear before biting it gently. "You're going to need your strength."

Joxer bit him back and raised his head. "Promise?"

Ares gave in to the need for that sultry mouth so temptingly close. Those firm lips parted readily and he tasted the familiar spice that was Joxer. Long moments passed in languid tongue sucking, before Hestia's laughter reminded him that they had an audience.

"Don't make me come over there and throw a bucket of cold water on you two." She snorted and hefted the pitcher of spring water.

"We're coming, Aunt Hestia." Ares tenderly pushed a grinning Joxer off his body.

"That's what I'm afraid of, young man." Her dry tones made Joxer laugh while he held open Ares' red silk robe for the dark god to put on.

His hand slipped down to squeeze Ares' manhood while he pretended to help him close the robe. Ares bit back a groan and firmly set him aside while he tied shut the wrap himself. Joxer innocently turned to the table and the dark god firmly pinched his ass, making him jump.

Hestia just shook her head at their antics and handed them well loaded plates before shooing them to the rug before the fire.

"What do you have against furniture, Ares? You've plenty of room for a couple of chairs." Hestia settled on the hearth with her own plate.

"It gets in the way." He admitted with a shrug, sitting down on the rug at her feet.

"Now that, I believe." She snorted at his innocent look.

They ate in silence, Ares savoring every bite. Nothing had ever tasted so good. Joxer handed him his own half-eaten plateful and took his to fill up again. After three servings, the dark god finally slowed and sighed. Replete at last, for food anyway.

"Now, Ares, are you going to tell us what happened out there? And why you came back with Chaos Energy clinging to you?" Hestia's eyes flared brightly.


He nodded, his mind going quickly over the events of the last few days. "It was a border dispute with three warlords who all claimed one section of an Arcadian forest. Artemis told me about it. Her dryads had complained to her about wanton tree cutting. There's never been a war in that area before, according to the Archives. I went to check it out and ran into a full scale battle."

Looking at Joxer, he wondered if he should tone down the next part. The young warrior's steady gaze made him choose truth. Again. This really was getting to be a habit.

"One of the warlords has been a worshiper for generations. Part of the Meleager branch of the family. When I appeared, he offered me a place in the battle. I accepted, of course, it's always better when I can be on the scene openly. There was a lot of good up-close fighting. I remember watching the death count go up when I noticed a warrior who stood back and watched. That seemed odd, especially since he was wearing a full face shield when no one else had one."

Ares paused to take a sip of water. "While I was distracted, one of the warriors slipped a sword through me. That made me mad and I waded back into the battle while I healed but still kept an eye on the lone warrior. An hour or so later, the fighting had moved to a small grove and the stranger appeared again, only this time he had his sword out and he was toying with one of my warriors. He'd already wounded him in three places and the poor guy was almost down for the count when I came to his rescue."

The dark god gripped the goblet in his hand and replayed the fight briefly, one more time. "I never really got a hand on him. We fought for a bit but he moved like the wind, here one moment and gone the next. He spun around me and skewered my warrior to the ground, disappearing in the next moment. I didn't stop to think how odd that was, I just dropped to my knees to remove the sword and see if I could help him."

"And when you touched the sword, the Chaos Energy came swirling through." Hestia shook her head.

"Exactly." Ares could barely get the word out, remembering the rush of power that had overtaken him.

"Excuse me." Joxer's tones were hesitant. "What's Chaos Energy?"

He and Hestia exchanged a quick glance and he motioned to her to make the explanation.

"All energy is connected to the four elements just as mortals and immortals are connected. But energy comes in many shapes and sizes just as we do. Small energies fuel us all, like food and drink. Emotional energies fuel our ability to control the elements and do some of our tricks. Like materializing from a fire." Hestia winked at Joxer before growing sober. "Chaos energy is at the top of the energy list. It's wild, uncontrollable power that exists in small pockets everywhere on our world. Some speculate that it's left over from the creation. No one has ever tamed it or used it, at least no one that I've ever heard of. How in the world did you survive, young Ares?"

"It blasted the warrior to nothing just before it got to me but I'd already established a link and all I could think of was getting away. The power stayed connected even through the de-materialization and journey to my power storage. I remember hoping that it didn't bring the mountain down on my head and then I was surrounded and filled with power." Ares shuddered. "It was overwhelming and nothing I could do would stop it so I just stopped fighting and let it have me. I didn't expect to survive."

"Actually, you shouldn't have survived. All the tales we have in the Archives talk of mortals and gods being blasted back to their basic elements whenever they disturb Chaos Energy. That's why we mark the spots of known trouble so no one comes into accidental contact with it. It disturbs the energy flow for weeks." Hestia hesitated. "Zeus mentioned that we have a rogue operating. Could this have been a trap for you?"

Ares captured Joxer's hand from where it had been rubbing his knee. He needed to touch him as much as his lover needed to be touched. Part of him wanted to ignore the whole situation and just celebrate being alive, but the other parts wanted to solve this puzzle that had almost killed him.

"I'd say it was a certainty. Normally, after a battle, I go to Olympus to release the excess energies that I've linked to during the fighting. Had I done that this time, anyone who'd come to share would have been blasted right along with me. It wasn't just an Ares' trap but a setup for the others as well." His voice was grim and he caught a look of concern from Joxer that calmed him into further speech.

"My usual pattern would have led me to Olympus but this time some homing instinct brought me back here. Thank goodness I didn't come back to the cottage." He shuddered again and gripped Joxer's hand painfully tight. The energy would have killed Joxer. What would he have done then? "Ninea wouldn't have gone for help for quite a few hours. She doesn't seek out others easily. The Chaos Energy had time to dissipate."

"Where did it go?" Joxer asked hesitantly.

Hestia shrugged. "No one really knows. Normally, it destroys everything in its path, and then vanishes. The pocket where it rested is clean of all traces of anything but the normal elemental energies. There have been reports that for miles around the discharge spot they experience great growth. If you were to ask me, I'd say that being released allows it to integrate with our power but what changes it, I haven't a clue."

"Could it be that when it flowed through Ares, he tamed it?" Joxer asked them both, splitting his question between them.

"I wasn't up to any energy taming, Joxer. I let go all control and let it flow right through me." Ares shook his head, remembering the scalding hot energies that had burned through his body and mind.

"And yet," Hestia's eyes were speculative, "you were the channel that fed it into the mountain. By just letting go and allowing it the freedom to move, you may have unconsciously been the mutating force. The dead warrior took the initial discharge and you immediately moved it and set it free. Fascinating. It would be interesting to experiment."

"You can experiment all you like, Aunt Hestia. I'm not volunteering. Once was enough. I still feel a little singed around the edges." Ares shook his finger warningly at his unrepentant relative.

"Just a thought, dear boy." She grinned at him then made a face. "That reminds me. Thank you very much for calling me and leaving poor Joxer and I to clean up after your attack. The energy link was enough to extinguish a couple hundred of my fires with the overflow surge."

"You always said I could come to you with anything, Aunt Hestia." Ares reminded her with a grin. "Besides, you are the only one who knows about the valley and I really don't want anyone else knowing. So, you're elected to go to Father and tell him what happened. It's too late to set up a watch at the Transfer temple to see who shows. The rogue would have expected me there hours ago."

"Goodness gracious, yes. I must go and tell him all about it. I'll start the preliminary entry for the Chaos Journal. You'll need to finish up later. We won't be able to enter it until the rogue has been taken care of." She stood up and shook out her robes before stepping back into the fire. "Try and get some more sleep after you burn off all that excess energy. Take care, dear hearts."

With a cheery wave and a wink, she disappeared into the flames. Ares immediately lay back down on the rug and pulled Joxer down with him. It had been too long since he'd had a Joxer-fix. The dark warrior met his lips with a fervency that spoke of love and fear and unfulfilled urges. Long moments passed in soft moist kisses and Ares slowly undressed Joxer to naked splendor.

Shrugging off the red robe, he drew them together until warm flesh met warm flesh and they both sighed. Ares loved the feel of Joxer, all satin skin over iron hard muscles. His strength had improved with their sparring and mock battles with snow balls. Love making had toned his coordination to a high level and his flexibility was better than Ares' own.

He moved his hands slowly over the broad shoulders while his mouth traveled down the long neck with sharp nibbles and raspy licks, lapping at the sweet, salty flesh and inhaling the clean scent of arousal. He settled between the long legs that curled around him while Joxer's hands tormented his supersensitive hips and lower back, hardening his cock and heating him to the boiling point.

Joxer's soft sighs turned to moans when Ares' hands settled on his hips and his searching mouth found his cock. The flaring head wept a single tear of clear liquid that Ares savored like the rare vintage it was. Lightly blowing on the flesh he'd just moistened, brought Joxer's hips up involuntarily. Ares just grinned and settled down to lick the young man to distraction.

"Ares!" Joxer's voice rose an octave while his fingers combed restlessly through the shaggy dark curls before holding on and thrusting his hips helplessly into the voracious mouth.

The dark god smiled around the twitching cock that was now pulsing out his life force into his keeping. He gently rolled the velvet balls between his fingers and listened to the moans with satisfaction. His tongue lapped the last of the cream from the dark curls beneath his cheek before trailing up the long body to taste the firm lips of his satiated lover.

"Wine of the gods, Joxer." Ares smiled down at the dark eyes that gazed up at him with so much love. Reaching for the oil that warmed by the fire, Joxer bathed the dark god's hands with the sweet smelling, golden oil. Then reaching down, he slowly stroked Ares' iron hard cock with the slick balm while he tasted himself in the depths of Ares' mouth.

"Fill me with your life, Ares." Joxer's voice broke. "Make us one, again."

"Always, Joxer. If I have any say in the matter, I will never leave you." Ares promised fiercely, twisting his fingers deep inside the heated depths of his lover. Removing his fingers and pausing, he caught Joxer's eyes with his and watched the flash of pain/pleasure that accompanied his long slow slide into the tight hot channel.

Resting for a moment, they kissed languidly, both adjusting to possessing and being possessed. Ares wondered just who really owned whom when they were joined like this. Energy pulsed between them like a ball of fire, racing back and forth until he couldn't tell whose energy was whose. Must ask Joxer what it feels like to him. That was his last coherent thought before the need to move and thrust overcame his willpower and he began the race to the peak of pleasure.

Joxer matched his every move with an up thrust of his own, stroking his returning erection with an oil slick hand. The gleaming chest heaved beneath Ares and the small brown nipples begged for their own caresses. Leaning in to latch onto the one over Joxer's heart, Ares changed the angle of his thrust and the young warrior gave a shout at the dual stimulus.

"Oh, gods, Ares. Do that again." He panted, moving restlessly beneath the dark god's hands.

Ares grinned and switched to the other nipple while continuing to tease the first to a hardened peak with his roughened fingers. Joxer's legs tightened around his waist and Ares decided to increase the pressure by sliding his hands down the heaving sides and coaxing the long legs over his shoulders.

This gave him the leverage he wanted to increase the stimulus on that inner spot that was making Joxer moan out his need for more. He smiled and gave him more, feeling the urge to merge himself completely in the warm well of love that enclosed him so lovingly. Fire burned away the last remnants of icy backlash while he plunged into Joxer and added his hand to the hardened cock that moved against his sweat-slicked stomach.

They exploded together in a long moment of shared release before Ares collapsed onto Joxer with a sigh of absolute contentment. Joxer's legs slipped bonelessly to the rug and they cuddled before the fire, unwilling to let go. Joxer massaged his shoulders and kissed the sweat soaked hair beneath his cheek. Ares responded with a sleepy purr and a raspy lick at the hollow of his throat.

"I never want to lose you, Ares." Joxer's voice was hesitant. "Was the blood on your vest from the warrior who stabbed you?"

Ares raised his head from his comfortable pillow of Joxer flesh and smiled gently. "It's all right, Joxer. You can always ask me anything. And yes, the blood was mine. When stabbed, I bleed. If I'm hit, I'll bruise. I can even be knocked out, although that doesn't happen very often. You know how hard headed I am."

Joxer gave him a mock frown and stuck out his tongue. Ares promptly captured it with his own and sucked it into his mouth. He would never get enough of the honeyed taste of his lover. But he could tell that Joxer had more questions so he let go reluctantly.

"Immortals heal almost instantaneously. Even demigods, like Hercules, heal more quickly than do mortals. If I took a direct stab to the heart, I would pass out and appear pretty dead while my body healed itself. I try to avoid those kind of wounds but it has happened. That's when we need a little extra help. That's where Asclepius, the god of healing and others like him can come in handy. He has a knack for sharing his energy with another that aids the healing process. I always try to make sure that he gets any extra I've got to spare."

"You talked about sharing with the other gods after a battle." Joxer looked curiously up at him.

Ares shifted to his side and drew Joxer with him, still lodged within his body. He felt a small aftershock shake them both and Joxer twitched closer with a sigh. Ares pulled a pillow over so they could rest their heads side by side and settled down for this long overdue talk.

"Remember I spoke of the energies that come from the dark side. Fear and hatred are very powerful forces that are released in battle from all the participants. I gather those energies from the fighting and bring it back to Olympus to the Transfer temple. The others can come and share the power without having to experience the bloodshed. That way we all benefit from the energy." Ares watched Joxer's face carefully.

The young warrior looked back seriously. "But they're not willing to share in the fighting itself? They just take what they need after you've done the work."

"It's my job, Joxer. They have their own work that brings extra energy to Olympus. The problem is the sheer scale of power that a hundred or a thousand men release on the battlefield. They generate more than it seems they should. Poly has a formula that explains it but I've never understood it." Ares shrugged sheepishly. "I have the strength to link and carry it back to be shared. In all modesty, there is no one else who has demonstrated the ability to match my capacity." Ares struggled to explain. "Aphrodite links to energy with every orgy she attends but it is generated by rarely more than twenty individuals. Not beyond her capability to link and bring back."

"Ninea said that energy wasn't good or bad just much or not much. So, if we could get a thousand lovers together, they might create just as much energy as the battlefield for you to take to Olympus?" Joxer said hopefully.

"Aphrodite would love it." Ares laughed gently at the picture Joxer had painted in his imagination. "However, most lovemaking doesn't begin to generate the energy that a mob lusting after the blood of an enemy can create. It's magnified tenfold. I don't know why, Joxer. Especially now, I wish everyone made love like we do with passion and energy."

"Make love not war." Joxer said slyly.

"Bite your tongue." Ares gave him a tender swat on one firm ass cheek.

"I'd rather bite yours." Joxer leaned in to suit his actions to his words. They shared a long slow kiss that laid the conversation to rest, at least temporarily.

"Tomorrow, we'll check in with Father and see how he wants to handle this situation. Until then, we need a bath." Ares eased slowly out of Joxer and kissed away the small twinge of discomfort. "I'll wash your back if you'll wash mine."

"Only if we put in the spruce bubble bath." Joxer rolled up and kissed him back. "A bubble battle would be a great end to a very odd day."

"You've got it, love." Ares pulled him to his feet and hugged him close. Thanking the universe for the willingness of his lover to accept his explanations and most importantly, himself. He was indeed a lucky god.

End part ten