Author: Athea (
Series: War God I, part 14
Guises of War

Joxer felt like stretching. His chest ached and he tried to raise his hand to scratch an itchy spot above his heart. He felt someone warm by his side and feminine voices nearby. Why am I sleeping with women in the room? Why is my hand so heavy?

A familiar voice, roughed and husky sounded by his ear. "Wake up, love. Open those beautiful brown eyes for me."

His eyes felt glued shut and they itched too but Ares needed him so he'd try. "Ares." The room was dark but he could see his lover blurred above him. Blinking, he cleared his eyes and peered more closely. Ares had never looked so worn out before. He appeared to have been awake for days and gone through a battle to boot. But they'd been at Harmonia's party ...

"The party?" Why was his voice so faint? Joxer coughed and managed to press his hand to the sore spot on his chest.

Ares gentled his lips over the hand, taking it into his own. "We had some trouble at the party. You were ... hurt. But you're going to be all right, Joxer. Aunt Hestia has something to tell you."

The young warrior raised his head and saw Hestia and Harmonia beaming at him from the foot of the bed. He was lying naked in bed with Ares while his aunt and daughter watched them. What in Tartarus is going on? He clutched the soft green blanket closer to him and Ares held him tighter in a grip of iron.

He listened in disbelief while Hestia and Harmonia took turns telling about the party ... his death ... his death? ...finding he and Ares in the cave in the mountain ... removing the dagger ... his immortality . .

"Wait." Joxer held up his hand, wondering why it took so much energy to do that. "I'm what?"

Hestia smiled sheepishly and shrugged. "I knew that Ares wanted to give you immortality but hadn't gotten around to it - "

"Zeus gave his permission two days ago. He wanted to get to know Joxer first." Ares' voice was matter of fact. "I hadn't taken the time to do anything about it." His eyes were haunted with a pain that called to Joxer.

"I fed you Hesperidian apples the evening you met Harmonia. I know I should have asked you first, Joxer but the two of you were just so right together. After Ares told you he loved you in front of me, I knew I had to act." Her eyes glowed with loving remorse and a hint of unrepentant fervor. "Can you forgive me, Joxer?"

Immortal. Joxer opened his mouth and closed it again. Eternity with Ares. A smile began with a quirk at the corners of his mouth and grew with every passing moment until he could feel it stretch from ear to ear.

"Gives a whole new meaning to forever." He said it to Hestia but his eyes never left the lover who hovered over him so protectively.

Ares' eyes closed and reopened, glowing with a fire of need and acceptance. "Forever."

"Oh, good. I'm going to take Harmonia back to her mother's. Aphrodite is probably searching for her frantically." Hestia smiled in satisfaction.

Ares let go of Joxer's hand and rose from the bed. Hugging his daughter close, he smiled ruefully at his aunt. "No one must know that Joxer is alive and that I'm all right. Let them all think that I've gone into seclusion after you talked me out of suiciding. Zeus, alone, needs to know. He'll have to know about the valley but hold him off for a day. Joxer needs to rest."

"So do you, Daddy." Harmonia leaned up and kissed his cheek. "You look like you could sleep for a week. I'll keep quiet."

"I know you will, Princess. Stay with your mom and stick close to home. I love you very much. Be safe." Ares rested his cheek on her head for a moment then stepped away.

"I'm glad you're all right, Joxer. You're going to make a great immortal." Harmonia giggled and held on to Hestia while the two of them winked out.

Ares swayed wearily and turned back to the bed, hesitating before sitting down on the cover and reaching for Joxer's hand. His eyes stayed lowered and his shoulders slumped. The young warrior began to wonder just what Ares was thinking. He tugged on his hand, bringing those haunted eyes to his. Such pain still alive in those dark eyes.

"Arry, it's all right. You would have gotten around to it." Joxer put all the certainty he had in his voice, willing Ares to believe him.

"But I didn't. I made you a target and left you alone. If Hestia hadn't ..." his voice broke.

Joxer tried to sit up but all his muscles felt like wet noodles. Ares' strong arm was there immediately, supporting him with his strength. Joxer decided to put off this little discussion for a moment.

"I need a bath. I feel like somebody's been hitting me with rocks." He clutched Ares' arm and levered himself upright in the bed. If he could just get the two of them into the tub, maybe he could get Ares to relax. The dark god nodded stiffly and helped him out of bed. "You need to lose some clothes, Arry."

Ares gave him a faint smile and nodded, supporting him into the spa and over to the tub. He settled him on the steps and began to methodically strip. Joxer caught the bloodstains at the same time Ares did. The dark god tried to hide them but Joxer grabbed hold before he could pull it away. Their eyes met and held.

"Mine?" Joxer asked quietly.

Ares just nodded.

"We're going to have to cut down on our battles or we won't have any clothes left." Joxer quipped. "That's the second vest you've ruined in the last week. I'm assuming that my favorite cream shirt is history?"

"I burned it." Ares admitted, his hands shaking slightly as he continued to undress. Joxer considered that statement while he admired the bronzed body of his lover revealed by the falling clothes. Normally, when the two of them were naked and alone in the bath, they'd both be sporting aching erections. But not today.

Ares helped him into the hot steaming water and he relaxed with a sigh of relief, the heat soaking into all his muscles. The dark god was silent beside him, soaping Joxer's arms and legs with quiet economy. But when his hands washed his chest, they faltered, coming to rest over the sore spot above his left nipple.

Joxer opened his eyes in time to see two tears glide down the beloved face so close to his. He pulled him in tightly, holding the bowed head with both hands and forcing his eyes to meet his.

"This was not your fault. You are not going to lose me. And if you even think about sending me away for my own good, I will do something drastic to that beautiful body of yours." Joxer put all his love and determination into his vow. "I love you. I will stay with you forever." He kissed him gently. "Face it. You're stuck with me." He hardened the kiss by thrusting his tongue into that spicy mouth. "Live with it."

Ares stilled while Joxer was kissing him, his eyes enigmatic. Then a small quirk flitted over his lips before becoming a real smile. "You'd hunt me down?"

"Count on it. Hunt you down, tie you up and make mad passionate love to you until you gave up and let me stay." Joxer said with a smile.

The glow was back, the one that always melted Joxer into a puddle of romantic goo. "That sounds incredibly kinky, love, and if I weren't so tired and you weren't so sore, I'd take you up on it."

Suddenly, Joxer could barely keep his eyes open. Ares finished lovingly washing him and quickly soaped and rinsed himself before helping the groggy warrior out of the tub and rubbing him down gently with a warm towel. Steering him back to bed, they settled down under the cool sheets and warm blanket. Joxer fell asleep with his head on Ares' chest, the strong heartbeat lulling him into a dreamless sleep.


Two days later, they were back at Aphrodite's. She and Harmonia were both still hugging him while from the corner of his eye, he watched Ares pick up Hera and return her fierce embrace. Tears were evident in more than one set of eyes. The room seemed crowded with people but Joxer saw all the doors were closed and locked.

"People!" Zeus spoke over the buzz of conversation, gathering all eyes to him. "We're here to welcome back Joxer from the seeming dead and try to reconstruct the party in hopes that someone saw something that will help us identify the rogue. No one saw the dagger launched or you would have told me. So, we need to run through the moments just before Joxer collapsed. Everybody take the positions you remember being in."

The milling around was confusing for a few moments while he and Harmonia walked to the table where the punch had been that night. A strange feeling of deja vu came over him and he could almost hear the music and chatter from that night. Harmonia's hand was cold on his arm and he encouraged her tremulous smile with one of his own. Poor kid. This has to be hard for her. Thinking that one of her relatives is a murderer.

Joxer pantomimed handing her a goblet and they stood for a moment before she tugged at his hand and screamed. He felt like an idiot folding to the floor while Harmonia followed him down. It was disorienting to feel the floor and see the bright lights quickly obscured by Ares' dark head bending over him. For a moment, he was back in time, wondering what the pain in his chest was, the only reality his lover's anguished eyes.

Then he blinked and frowned. A memory teased at the edges of his consciousness. He closed his eyes and felt someone kneel at his other side. Asclepius said something about him being dead. When he opened his eyes again, Hestia was peering over Ares' shoulder with a smile.

"Who was standing behind Ares that night?" He asked, finally catching hold of the memory of a dark shape behind his lover.

"Oh, very good, Joxer." Hestia spoke approvingly. "The actual dagger throw would have been easy to conceal if a distraction had been arranged. But the rogue had to be close to you to take in Ares' reaction and his grief. Think, Joxer. Who was it?"

He concentrated for a long moment before shaking his head and sitting up. "I'm sorry. There was light and then there was Ares and all I saw was a vague shape behind him before the light went out."

The buzz in the room silenced at his words and he saw Ares shudder once before he closed himself off again. Joxer swore silently. Just when he'd almost gotten him to open up and relax with him, this had to remind him all over again of the pain. Damn! Damn! Damn!

Conversations were breaking out all over, the gods arguing over who was where at that moment.

"Pan had just chased Euterpe out onto the porch." Erato mentioned.

"I was talking to Astraea about a trial in Athens next week." Hera volunteered. "We were over here. I remember seeing Auster waving to Zephyrus before leaving by the south door."

"Ares was almost to me when Harmonia screamed. Behind him Athena was talking to Tyche." Zephyrus frowned. "Why aren't they here?"

Zeus sighed and motioned for silence. "Because they are on a very short list of goddesses who might be the rogue."

The silence was deafening. Joxer looked around at the gods and goddesses who he'd come to know over the last few weeks. If these were the vetted ones, then how many were left that could be the rogue? He tried to remember which of the women Hephaetus had mentioned. Artemis was here, frowning at Zephyrus. She and Athena were close even though they fought constantly. This must be hard for her.

That reminded him of Harmonia who'd also had a few bad days and he turned to her to see if she needed reassuring. But she had an unaccustomed frown on her face, her head cocked to one side while her unfocused gaze looked over Ares' shoulder. Joxer shot a quick look at his lover who gave a slight shake of his head when their eyes met. The dark warrior could only hope that Harmonia would remember something that pinpointed the rogue so they could go on from there.

"Daddy, she was tall and dark and her face had no expression at all. She almost touched your shoulder then she backed away when you took Joxer and disappeared." Harmonia sounded puzzled and Ares reached a hand to her.

"Who had no expression, Princess?" His voice was calm, but Joxer heard the tension in his tones.

"Ate. She comes to all the parties since her mourning is over." Harmonia answered matter of factly. "She's quieter now but sometimes she smiles as if she's forgetting."

"You don't forget the loss of a child, sweetie. But in time the pain does turn into acceptance." Aphrodite's eyes held memories and Joxer saw her share a look of remembered pain with Hera.

"Unless the pain leads to grief so strong that it triggers a psychotic episode." Ares voice was faint and Joxer saw with a shock the grim lines that seemed carved into his face. He and his father locked eyes and Zeus nodded once.

Joxer and Harmonia were sent to set up a drinks table while Zeus gathered the others for an update on the rogue's activities. He found himself alone with the young girl while they waited for the water to boil.

"Joxer, can I ask you a question?" Harmonia sat on the hearthstone and laced her hands around her knees.

"Of course, you can ask me anything."

She hesitated a moment then rushed into speech. "Do you remember being dead? Did it hurt? Tell me to mind my own business if you don't feel like answering."

He smiled gently. "I don't remember a thing, Harmonia. I was at the party then I was waking up in bed wondering why you guys were there."

"Oh. I thought maybe you went to the Elysian Fields or something." She sounded disappointed.

"Nope. Just ... nothing." Joxer shrugged. "Which is part of the problem. Dying was easy. Ares had the hard part."

"He's not taking it at all well, is he?" Harmonia sighed. "He's all controlled and closed off like he was before you came. He really hates not being in control of life. And he never trusted anybody before you."

Joxer sighed and tried not to look discouraged. Hestia's brisk accents from behind him brought his head around.

"Harmonia. Your mother would like you to serve the cakes that Hera brought. I'll bring in the hot water when it's done. Joxer, wait a moment and you can carry in the tea tray." She started preparing the tray and Joxer reached down the cups from the top shelf. "Now, you can tell me why you're frowning, young man."

Joxer didn't even hesitate. "Ares has closed himself off from me. It's as if he's afraid of me. I know that sounds silly. I mean, he's not afraid of anything. But ..."

"Not necessarily true, Joxer." She stilled her busy hands and contemplated him. "For the first time in centuries, Ares let his guard down and fell in love. Matters totally out of his control took you away. I have never seen him so devastated. If you had been killed, I think we would have lost him too. He may very well be afraid of letting you back inside. It's up to you to convince him."

"How do I do that?" Joxer asked plaintively.

"I don't know. You're the one who loves him." Hestia managed to look prim and proper while winking at him. "He probably need some major reassurance. I'd ask Aphrodite. As the oldest virgin in the world, I'm not equipped to give out that kind of advice."

Joxer blushed and resolved to get the goddess of love aside as soon as possible. He belonged to Ares but Ares was his as well and it was time the god of war remembered the love they had and always would have. He smiled and began to plan a siege for his lover's heart.

Ares kept track of his young lover using a casual surveillance that involved the mirrors on the walls and any shiny surface available. He couldn't shake the fear that Joxer would disappear and he wouldn't be able to find him. His anxiety levels had risen to new highs when Joxer left for the kitchen only to fall again when he came out with the tea tray followed by Hestia and the teakettle.

He felt something settle inside of him when he saw the tender grin that Joxer sent his way. He knew he should be paying attention to Zeus' plan for bringing Ate out into the open but he couldn't concentrate. He hadn't been able to keep a train of thought beyond a few moments. He hadn't been sleeping. Every time Joxer moved, he woke up. The young man tired easily and he still wasn't one hundred percent fit.

But then, neither was he.

"Ares." Zeus' tones were patient and the dark god brought his attention back to his father. "I'm a little worried that you are not up to this."

Ares shook his head. "I'm up, just a little tired."

"Nightmares?" Zeus asked with a quirk of his eyebrow.

"Nothing to worry about. I'll be ready when you need me."

"Of course you will." Zeus went back to talking to Zephyrus and Ares tried to pay attention, moving to where he could watch Joxer out of the corner of his eye.

He and Aphrodite were talking earnestly and Ares wondered what the mother of his child found so fascinating in Joxer's tale. He hoped she wasn't pestering him for details about his 'death'. Ares repressed a shiver of distaste. This room and its occupants were beginning to close in on him. He moved restlessly and almost started when his mother came up beside him.

"Dearest, you look terrible. Why aren't you sleeping?" Hera looked worriedly up at him.

"I'm fine, Mother. Really." Ares tried to put some life into his voice but knew he'd failed when her eyes narrowed.

"No, you're not fine. But you need to get at least one night of uninterrupted sleep. Have you thought of going to your power place and soaking up some energy? That always helps me." She asked hopefully.

Actually, that didn't sound like a bad idea, Ares nodded slowly. "Thanks, Mother, I hadn't thought of that. The Chaos Energy should have dissipated by now. Maybe I'll give it a try tonight."

"You do that, dear. Now, I must go over and congratulate Joxer on his immortality. Such a dear boy." Hera patted his cheek and headed for his young lover.

Ares barely kept the smirk off his face when he saw Joxer notice his mother coming towards him. Aphrodite laughed in his face and moved out of the way with a short nod to Hera. At least they weren't hissing at each other any more. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Hera give Joxer a hug and begin to talk to him. Wishing he could hear what was said, he kept one eye on them while he listened to Zeus.

It wasn't one of the more enlightened sessions, he'd ever participated in with the other gods. They were stuck between wanting to call Ate in for counseling and setting up a trial where they could test her abilities. Ares kept the grimace off his face. They obviously weren't thinking straight. If Ate had used his grief to add her fourth element, she was out there somewhere right now practicing with it.

"Father, what were Ate's elements?" He broke in on Auster's blustery diatribe.

Zeus thought a moment. "Earth and water."

"Did we ever decide which one her third was?" Hestia popped up with a cup of tea, which she insisted Ares take.

The others moved in a group to the refreshment table, everyone stocking up on the drink of their choice while they debated the elements. Ares sipped his steaming tea and enjoyed the mellow blend of chamomile and mint. "Lemon mint, Aunt Hestia?"

"Very soothing. I thought about putting in some valerian but I didn't want you to fall asleep in mid-conversation." Hestia smiled up at him. "But I know you have some at home and you might want to take some tonight. You need to get at least one complete night of sleep before tackling this problem with that crafty brain of yours."

"I know. Mother suggested my power storage for a nap."

Hestia thought a moment then nodded decisively. "Good thought. Take Joxer with you. He'll be able to absorb energy now. In fact, he may have already when Ninea brought him to you in the cave. He told me that she opened a hot spring into the cave and it gave him a real boost when he was figuring out how to wake you up."

"Really?" Ares quirked an eyebrow and began to consider the ramifications of that ability. Hestia gave a satisfied smile and wandered off to talk to Zephyrus.

Joxer appeared at his side with a handful of grapes. He ate one then brought another to Ares' lips. The dark god accepted it and managed to give a tiny lick to the salty fingers. Joxer smiled quietly and ate another grape. For a moment, the rest of the gods went away and it was just the two of them in a pocket of simmering silence while they devoured the grapes.

For the first time since the party, Ares felt a stirring of desire. "Mother thinks we should go to my storage cave and see if we can soak up some of the energy."

Joxer's eyes widened. "Can I do that now?"

"Well, you are immortal. Not a god, yet, but the apple changed some of you and part of that change is the ability to absorb more energy than a mortal can."

"Will it bring back bad memories if we go there?"

Joxer looked so serious, it was all Ares could do to keep from holding him close and smoothing that frown from his forehead. "At first, perhaps but perhaps if we make some better memories there it will chase away the bad ones."

Smiling, Joxer fed him the last grape. "I'd like that, Arry."

It was an hour before they could get away. Zeus had finally noticed Ares' complete inattention and restless stirrings. He seemed to realize that the walls were closing in on his son, that and the fact that Joxer was hovering protectively over him, almost glowering at anyone who approached the tired god.

They went straight to the cave and Ares felt himself begin to relax. Creating a light for Joxer, he sent it hovering up to the ceiling, enjoying the cry of delight from his young lover. The light glinted off the crystals embedded in the cave walls and reflected off the mineral deposits that dripped from the ceiling in frozen waterfalls. Joxer turned in a complete circle, trying to take in the entire cave.

Ares quietly opened the stone floor where he could feel the bubbling water of a hot spring. Testing the depth with his senses, he was satisfied with the two feet of water. If Joxer's element was water, he'd need to immerse himself in it. Ares was looking forward to touching earth with all his senses.

Joxer noticed the small pool and came over to kneel beside it. "It's beautiful here. What should I do?"

"You need to get in the water and concentrate on soaking in the power. At first, it will just seem like water but eventually, with practice, you'll notice the difference between energy and water." Ares was already half stripped in the cool air. "I'll be putting as much of my skin as I can in contact with the earth to absorb its' energy."

"Is there still Chaos Energy around?" Joxer removed his boots first and was unbuttoning his shirt.

"If it is, it's no longer Chaos but simply energy. The levels here are still really high. This will be interesting." Ares finished undressing and knelt to rearrange the stone and earth into a comfortable bed.

Joxer eased into the bubbling, gently steaming water with a sigh of relief. He and Ares kept eye contact while they both settled into their chosen element. The god of war extended one hand and Joxer's met it. And finally Ares was able to completely relax into the warmth of earth. Expanding his consciousness, he extended out into the mountain, reacquainting himself with every stone, crystal and piece of earth.

Beneath it all, the steady beat of Joxer's heart anchored him and kept him from losing himself in his earth connection. Two hours passed in a steady soaking up of energy until Ares felt Joxer shiver and he began to pull himself out of his trance. It took a few moments and when he finally opened his eyes and turned his head, he could see that Joxer had submerged up to his nose.

With a laugh, he tugged on Joxer's hand. "Cold, love?"

"I've turned into a prune." Joxer stood up and let go of Ares' hand. Levering himself out of the water, he gathered up both their clothes and boots and looked expectantly at his lover.

Ares sat up slowly, letting the earth shift back into place within his body and soul. Standing, he gathered Joxer into his arms and transported them to the cottage. Letting go, he stepped back and watched while Joxer let the clothes fall but kept hold of a small bag that clinked.

Joxer blushed. "Aphrodite sent us a present. For later."

"Am I going to enjoy it?" Ares smiled tiredly.

"Yes. We both will." Joxer smiled back and stepped forward to kiss him gently. "Let's take a nap and eat later. Your mother told me that soaking up energy would make us tired. Although, I feel pretty good right now."

Ares headed for the bed. "You're young, Joxer. Wait a few centuries and we'll see how you feel." He crawled under the sheets and sighed with relief at the feeling of the solid mattress beneath his back. Joxer leaned over him and pulled the blanket up to his chin, taking the opportunity to kiss him again. Just a brief nuzzling of flesh to flesh but it flashed through Ares like a lightening bolt.

"Wow!" Joxer must have felt it too. "I think I'm going to like this energy thing. Go to sleep. I'll be right here."

Ares still felt connected to Joxer and that allowed him to slip into a deep sleep between one thought and the next.


He woke slowly, letting his mind drift up from the darkness into the light that flickered over his closed eyelids. It was warm under the covers and he sent out his senses to find Joxer. He was nearby and the sound of his heartbeat soothed him almost back to sleep. Just one stretch and he'd roll over and snooze some more. But his arms wouldn't move and he tried again to bring them into his sides. No movement.

"Oh, good, you're awake." Joxer whispered in his ear. "I've been waiting for you."

Ares forced his eyes open and looked over at his grinning lover, then at the velvet lined manacles around both of his wrists. Tugging experimentally, he gained about a handsbreath of slack before they stopped him cold. He felt something uncurl deep inside him, something cold and hard that had lodged there since Joxer ... died.

"Hephaestus made them for Aphrodite. They're guaranteed not to hurt the wearer. I need you to tell me if they start. Causing you pain, I mean." Joxer's naked skin burned him all along one side.

"Why?" Ares didn't think he'd be able to handle a sentence at the moment. His cock had developed a mind of it's own and was hardening in time to his lover's heartbeat.

"For the last two days, you've treated me as if I were a glass bubble that would break if you breathed too hard on me." Joxer brushed the back of his hand lightly over Ares' right nipple, teasing it with small circles of motion. Leaning over, he breathed on it and watched it tighten before reaching out with just the tip of his tongue and flicking it to pulsing life. "Now, you can't touch me too hard or hold me too tightly or hurt me in anyway."

Ares had a lump in his throat that made speech almost impossible. He felt as if the cold fear that had gripped him was dissolving in the heat of Joxer's caring touch. Swallowing hard, he managed one word. "Good."

"When we first started making love, all those months ago, I thought I'd never be able to do what I'm thinking about right now." He licked his fingers and began to rub the nipple he wasn't suckling. "Three days ago, you asked me if I wanted to make love to you." Joxer's right foot was slowly running up and down Ares' suddenly erogenous shin. "I'm ready, now."

Ares forced his eyes to stay open when all they wanted to do was close so he could concentrate on all the different sensations bombarding him. He could feel a smile stretching his face while he watched Joxer move to suckle his other breast. The wet fingers were now moving ever so slowly down his chest, counting his ribs down to his solar plexus.

If he looked past the dark head, he was quite sure he'd see the long red lines that Joxer's fingernails were leaving behind, tiny trails of fire that made him stretch and flex. Joxer moved slowly, continuing down his body with the familiarity that long nights of loving can bring. A lick here, a pinch there, until Ares was quivering with the need to touch his lover.

Joxer worshipped his cock until it wept, then deep throated it and deliberately swallowed until the dark god climaxed. Ares lay shaking with reaction but Joxer had never stopped moving his hands down his body and now his hands were oily with the fragrance of lemon verbena. Slowly he massaged the tension from Ares' feet, pressing the tender arch and working the kernels from between his toes. Laying down that foot, he began on the other but this time he moved on up to the ankle and calf.

Digging into the tense muscles, he worked the long muscles into quivering limpness. Moving from side to side, he massaged Ares' legs into stillness. He'd pushed the long legs as far apart as they would go, leaving Ares feeling open and vulnerable. But Joxer's hands never stopped touching him and Ares jumped when he poured a small pool of oil on his stomach.

"I love touching you." Joxer's voice was contemplative. "I never realized how starved for touch I was until we became lovers and you held me tight. Awake or asleep, it didn't matter, you just kept touching me." He moved the oil across Ares' stomach in long strokes that stretched up to his nipples then back down again. "I came to expect it. When you were away, I'd hug your pillow so I could pretend it was you. At least it smelled like you. Spruce and sweat and that unique scent that I could follow in a crowded room right to your side."

Ares was hard and aching again. Joxer laughed and on every other downward stroke, he grasped the proudly rising cock and slicked a slippery caress up and down, just once before moving back to his massage.

"You need to let go of any guilt you may be feeling, Ares. I know who you are and what you do. It will take a thousand years before you've told me every story from your past." Joxer's fingers slipped lower this time and caressed his fragile balls tenderly before sliding further to press gently into the puckered opening. "But we have a thousand years and more now. Together."

Ares felt hot and cold at the same time. It had been a very long time indeed since he'd felt this caress and known how it would be followed. Fire and ice ran along his nerve endings and he shivered with a sudden longing for Joxer's mouth. As if his lover could read his mind, Joxer moved up his torso and gentled a kiss of pure longing on his lips. Delicately, he nuzzled Ares' lips apart and dipped inside with his spicy tongue. Darting a caress across the roof of his mouth, he mated with Ares' tongue, all the while he kept up the gentle stretching of the tight muscle below.

Sighing, he left Ares' mouth with a quick nip to his swollen lower lip. More oil on the dark god's stomach and now there were two fingers scissoring back and forth in the tight channel. Ares was pulling rhythmically on the restraints, the only thing that was keeping him sane while the delightful torture continued. Joxer's hand was slowly bringing Ares' cock to iron hardness.

"I love your cock. It feels like silk to my tongue and tastes like exotic spices when you give me your seed. When you're inside me, you're all power and strength, giving me the gift of your energy." Joxer removed his fingers and those strong hands were lifting his hips to pillow them on his rock hard thighs, stretching his tendons tight and opening him further.

"Now, it's my turn to give you a gift of energy." Slithering sounds told him that Joxer was oiling his own cock and Ares waited breathlessly for his next move. "I love you, Ares. I need you to tell me you're all right with this."

Ares had to swallow that lump wedged in his throat but he managed, his eyes never leaving the burning gaze of his lover. "I love you, Joxer. Complete me. Make me whole again."

"Always. Just as you complete me."

Ares felt the nudge of warm flesh and then the push that brought Joxer inside of him. "Oh, gods."

Joxer stopped instantly and began to pull out but Ares pulled his legs in tight around the slim waist and clamped down with all his inner muscles. "Don't you dare. Just give me a moment. You feel huge ... and it's been a long time."

Joxer stilled and rubbed Ares' hips with slow caresses, his dark eyes worried but determined. The god of war relaxed all his muscles one by one and accepted the burning sensation of the throbbing head inside him. "That feels incredible, lover. More."

"You've got it, Ares." With a push, he slid in further, pushing a trail of flame ahead of him. "Oh, gods, you're so tight. And hot." He was panting when he finally stilled, buried to the hilt inside of Ares. His hands were gripping his hips so hard that Ares knew he'd have bruises in the morning.

But none of that mattered because Joxer was safe inside of him. Just who belonged to whom here? He didn't realize he'd said it out loud until Joxer laughed. "We belong to each other and we always will. You told me once that you wondered who was the possessed when you were inside me." He leaned up and kissed him sensuously, whispering against his swollen lips. "Right now, you possess me. I can't tell where I end and you begin."

Ares returned the kiss with a soft moan. "Move, Joxer. I need to feel you taking me hard."

Joxer laughed again and began the long slow pull out before slamming back in. Ares used the restraints to anchor himself when Joxer hit his pleasure spot over and over. The pleasure rose higher and higher until his head was thrashing back and forth on the pillow and he felt the tendons in his neck swell in the effort to stay conscious.

They were both groaning now and Ares let go the last remnants of his control to explode into oblivion, hearing Joxer's shout of completion a moment later and feeling the molten stream of his seed shoot deep within him. His mind went gray and fuzzy for a moment. Joxer had fallen forward onto his chest and Ares had the odd feeling that, manacles or no, his lover was all that held him on the bed.

He felt weightless and almost bodiless, lying there under the warm blanket of his lover. For a moment, they merged into one body, mind and heart. The beats of their hearts synchronized into one cadence and their skin combined into one flesh. Earth, air, fire and water, all their elements flowed together into one vast energy field of power.

Ancient, timeless, yet new.


//Ares?// Joxer's voice sounded quietly in his head.

//It's all right, Joxer. I've heard tales of this.// Ares thought back reassuringly. //It's happened a few times in the history of the world. When two souls merge into one.//

//Do you mind?// Joxer pulled up just enough to see his eyes.

//Never. Love you too much to mind being this close.// Ares poured all his joy and delight of Joxer into their bond, watching the dark eyes go liquid with love.

//Love you, too.// And all the feelings came pouring back magnified tenfold.

Basking in the warm feelings, Ares tried to raise his hands to hold Joxer only to pull the manacles tighter to his wrists. His lover smiled and slowly pulled free, stopping Ares' moan of disappointment with a fervid kiss. Deliberately, he chose speech over thought.

"I'll let you free if you promise not to keep me at arm's length."

Ares grinned mischievously. "I promise. If you promise to surprise me again some day."

Joxer unhooked the manacles and slid them off, rubbing away the red marks left from Ares' frantic pulling and kissing away any pain. "I promise too. Unless you'd like to surprise me some time?"

Ares laughed out loud and rolled his smirking lover under him before attacking him with tickling caresses. "When you least expect it, Joxer, I'll hold you to it." Stilling his hands, he brushed a kiss across the smiling lips. "We need to clean up before I die of hunger."

"No dying allowed, Ares. Promise me." Joxer eyes were serious.

//I promise, love. Forever, remember?//


End part 14