The characters belong to Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.
This story contains explicit descriptions of male/male sexual relations, bdsm and sexual violence and incest. Please skip the story if these subjects disturb you.
This story is a sequel to Just Like Old Times and is part of the Brotherly Love series.
You can find more stories by MB at her site Millefiori by MB
Send feedback to email@example.com
If Wishes Were Horses
Joxer was alone in the temple, kneeling in quiet prayer. Ares materialized before him, taking him by the hands and raising him to his feet. Joxer was filled with warmth and happiness, struggling to find words, then Ares was kissing him and Joxer thought he would die of bliss. After endless moments the kiss ended and he looked down into Gabrielle's beautiful eyes.
He tried again to speak, but everything was slow, as if he were under water, and the words just wouldn't come out of his mouth. Gabrielle smiled sweetly and he could hear her voice clearly in his head.
"Such a good brother."
Blood rushed to his cock and he was lying naked over the altar. Excitement spread through his body as Gabrielle hit him again and again, stinging blows from a leather strap, and then she was pushing his legs apart, pushing her cock inside him and it hurt and it felt wonderful and he rubbed his own cock against the soft cloth beneath him.
"Come for me, Joxer," she said, her voice low and gritty in his ear. Her beard tickled his neck deliciously and her hot breath sent shivers down his spine.
"I love you..." He came with a muffled cry, his orgasm ripping through him, burning away the misty remnants of the dream.
Joxer lay curled on his side, panting and trembling. As his head cleared, he slowly became aware of hot semen on his stomach, chill room air on his face. He weakly collapsed back against the broad, warm body behind him, closing his eyes, trying to slow his breathing. "I was dreaming," he gasped.
"I know." Jett smiled as he released Joxer's softening cock and licked semen from his fingers.
Joxer hazily tried to recall the dream. It started just like the one he always had, where he was in Ares' temple. But he'd been dreaming of Gabrielle - hadn't he? No, Gabrielle didn't have... He felt his face burning. He'd never dreamed that before - well, not about Ares, anyway.
Jett laughed. "You're blushing, Jox." He smiled at Joxer for a moment, then ducked down below the covers. Joxer gasped as hot breath and cold lips touched his stomach; Jett was licking him clean, his warm tongue finding every drop of semen that was left from Joxer's climax.
Joxer stretched bonelessly out on his back, enjoying the soft bed, the cool air and Jett's warm body moving against his. Unbelievably, Joxer felt the blood begin to flow to his groin again, his cock stiffening as Jett continued his ministrations.
He moaned as the busy tongue began to move on his cock. "Jett, no, not again," Joxer protested.
"Why not?" The reply was muffled by the blankets and Joxer gasped when cool fingers touched him.
"Stop it," he murmured half-heartedly.
But Jett was pushing his thighs apart, moving between them, his mouth on Joxer's cock. Joxer sighed with pleasure, abandoning resistance; it had been so long since anyone had done this to him, even longer since Jett had done it. Jett, who knew exactly what Joxer liked best. He pulled the blanket away with a shaking hand so he could watch, see everything his brother was doing.
Jett grasped his cock at the base and swirled his tongue slowly over the head, alternating between licking and sucking. Joxer was rapidly growing harder and harder, and he lay perfectly still, clutching the sheets, unwilling to move for fear Jett might stop. He did stop, just the same, lifting his head to look at Joxer, his thumb sliding back and forth over the slick head.
"It feels good, doesn't it?" Jett said softly.
"Yes," Joxer agreed breathlessly, his hips twitching as Jett moved his slippery hand.
"You don't really want me to stop."
"No," Joxer gasped. He didn't want Jett to stop; it felt so good.
Jett smiled and turned his attention back to Joxer's erection, his hand moving on the shaft, his mouth and lips and tongue focused on the sensitive head. Jett was probing his tender entrance with a slick finger, and Joxer gasped with mingled pain and pleasure, arching up into Jett's mouth as he pushed his finger in.
This climax was less explosive than the one that had woken him from his dream, more like gentle waves of pleasure rocking through his body. When Jett finally crawled up his body to lie on top of him, Joxer was so sleepy he was barely conscious.
"I love the way you taste. It's been so long - I've missed it, missed you," Jett murmured against his lips.
Joxer smiled in contentment and, without opening his eyes, raised his hands to Jett's head, carding his fingers through the soft hair, pulling him closer. He tasted himself in Jett's mouth, bitter and familiar. Jett moved to the side so his entire weight wasn't on Joxer and pulled the blanket up over them. They snuggled together, kissing lazily until sleep overtook them.
When Joxer woke again he found himself alone in bed. The light coming through the high window was dim and gray, but judging by the laughter and conversation coming from the common room below, it had to be later than it seemed. He realized that there were also delicious cooking smells coming from below and he was hungry. He stretched lazily, wincing as numerous dull aches and pains gave testimony to his nocturnal activities. He wondered where Jett had gone.
He sat up, dragging the blanket around his shoulders, and looked for his clothes. It was really noisy downstairs. It must be people who had come here for shelter from last night's storm and the continuing rain, he reasoned. On the heels of that thought came the realization that Xena and Gabrielle might be among them. He grimaced at the thought of their reaction to finding him here with Jett.
As if on cue, Jett opened the door and poked his head inside. "Ahh, the dead awake," he said drolly. "Let me guess - you're starving?"
Joxer raised his eyebrows haughtily, but was betrayed by his rumbling stomach.
Jett laughed. "Get dressed and let's go eat."
In the time it took Joxer to dress and put on his armor, the crowd in the dining room had begun to thin. Most of the people who had sought shelter from the weather had ventured back outside; the sky was iron gray and threatening, but the rain itself had stopped for the time being.
Jett shook his head as he watched Joxer wolfing down his breakfast. "You're gonna choke to death eating like that."
"I'm hungry," Joxer mumbled defensively around a mouthful of bread. "Besides, it's good."
Jett leaned over and speared a slice of meat from Joxer's plate. "Hmmm. Listen, when you get done we're going shopping."
Joxer paused. "Shopping? In this weather? What for?"
Jett's lip curled as he raked his eyes over Joxer's armor. "Clothes," he said shortly.
Jett ruthlessly cut him off. "Don't argue with me."
Joxer pursed his lips. "I like my clothes," he muttered sullenly. He took another bite, chewing slowly before looking up into Jett's dark eyes. "And my armor too. I know people make fun of it, but I like it."
"Well, it's definitely you." Jett's expression softened and he reached over, lightly touching the back of Joxer's hand. "Listen to me, Jox. That stuff is gonna get you killed. It's too noisy, too conspicuous. It makes you a walking target."
Joxer sighed; Jett was so overprotective. He should have known his brother would have some practical reason for disapproving of the way Joxer dressed - he didn't care about how things looked, just how they performed. He looked down at his armor with a little regret then looked back at his brother and nodded. "Okay, Jett, whatever you say."
Jett traced his finger over Joxer's hand and Joxer stared, mesmerized by the slow movement, then looked up at his twin's wild dark eyes. "You're such a good brother," Jett murmured softly.
Joxer felt a shocking thrill at the words and stared down at his plate, unable to suppress a smile. He could tell he was blushing by the heat in his face and he finally risked a glance at Jett, who was watching him squirm with evident pleasure.
"There's something else I've been thinking about," Jett continued conversationally. "If you want, I'd like to get you a horse."
"A horse?" Joxer asked incredulously.
"Yeah. It would be more trouble for you, but traveling on horseback would be a lot faster and more fun. The guy next door, Strymon, is the innkeeper's brother. He breeds really good horses; I got Luck from him last time I was here, right after I got out of prison. He has a sweet looking mare he'll sell me." Jett speared another slice of Joxer's meat. "We can have a look at her later if you're interested."
"Okay." Joxer's smile threatened to split his face, then faded slightly as he thought about his brother's horse. Joxer had only gotten a glimpse of Luck grazing in a paddock when Jett pointed him out on their way back into town yesterday, but Joxer knew horses and that glimpse was enough for him to know they were talking about a lot of money. "Uhm, Jett, you know..."
"Trust me, I can afford it."
Joxer stared. He'd forgotten how Jett could do that, almost as if he were reading Joxer's mind. He'd forgotten a lot of things, Joxer thought, as he shook his head and resumed eating his breakfast.
After a day spent wandering around town, Joxer was sure they had visited every single merchant and shopkeeper in Mantinea. Jett had instructed that all his purchases be delivered to Stamatios' inn, with the exception of the clothes and boots Joxer now wore. His steps slowed as he glanced down at himself with a bemused half-smile. He would never have chosen these things for himself, but he had to admit they looked and felt good. The clothes were dark linen, simple and plain, but comfortable and well made, and the long, heavy leather vest provided more protection than his old armor. He grinned, remembering how Jett had rolled his eyes at the materials and colors Joxer had picked out. Even though he knew exactly what Jett had in mind, Joxer had continued looking at the bright, showy things just to watch his brother's reaction. It had been just too good to pass up, and well worth it, particularly when Jett had finally caught on to what Joxer was doing. The whole day had been good, he reflected. That was another thing he'd forgotten - just how much fun it was to be with Jett.
"C'mon, Jox," Jett said, pulling him from his reverie. "Let's go over and see the horse before it gets too late."
"Oh yeah," Joxer said, hurrying to catch up with Jett's long strides.
The mare was a dark bay, taller and heavier boned than Argo, but still with a graceful air. She looked, in fact, exactly like Jett's horse, and the irony was not lost on Joxer. He watched as she danced around the paddock, obviously frisky from the cool air. It had been a while since he'd ridden, but he'd been well trained in his childhood and he was confident he could handle her.
Jett had gone to the barn to get Luck, leaving Joxer and Strymon alone. "She's beautiful," Joxer said, "just like Luck."
"Well, thank you, sir," Strymon said, smiling with pleasure at the compliment. "Their dam usually throws chestnuts, but these two took after their sire. She's a real sweetie," he continued. "I think she'll be just what you need."
Joxer nodded, a little embarrassed by the man's respectful tones. He wasn't used to people talking to him like that. Of course, he wasn't usually dressed in such finery, either. Jett had made Joxer change right there in the tailor's little shop and had given the man a handful of dinars to take care of disposing of Joxer's old clothes, armor and hat.
Joxer flushed as he remembered how Jett had cut him off every time he'd tried to protest the expense, finally asking the merchant to excuse them. When the poor man had left them alone Jett had slammed him against the wall and stood right in front of him, Joxer's shirt front twisted tightly in his fist.
"Joxer," he said, his voice low and deadly. "Just shut the fuck up, all right? You're getting new clothes. You're getting new shoes. You're getting something to replace that crap you call armor. Now, stop arguing with me, do you hear?"
Joxer smiled. Jett had already spent a small fortune on him today, and he could well imagine how many dinars would have to change hands to procure this horse. But he wasn't going to argue, oh no.
The mare skittishly trotted along the fence, her long black mane and tail blowing in the strong north wind. As she came to where the men were standing, she slowed, finally coming to a stop and arching her neck over the fence to nuzzle Strymon's shoulder.
Joxer cautiously raised a hand for her to smell. "What's her name?" he asked.
"Well, I let my boys name all the foals and they called her Lady Luck, 'cause she looked so much like her brother, but..." The man looked around to be sure they were alone, then continued with a chuckle, "just between you and me, I call her Tyche."
"Tyche," Joxer breathed, smiling. He stroked the silky, dark neck, thinking of all the times he'd envied Xena, wishing that he'd had a horse of his own. He had always planned to get one sometime, when he had the funds, but he'd never thought it would be one so fine as this.
"Ahh, here comes your brother now," Strymon said, giving Tyche a final pat. "I've got a few things to do. I'll talk to you boys later," he said, gripping Joxer's hand and then heading back into the barn.
Tyche really was a dead ringer for Luck, Joxer thought as he watched Jett leading his horse out to the small enclosure. His dark coat gleamed in the afternoon light and he pranced alongside Jett, quivering with excess energy. As soon as Jett released him into the paddock he bolted, tail high, and Tyche turned on her haunches, thundering after him.
"Well, what do you think?" Jett asked, leaning a booted foot on the lowest rung of the fence, watching the horses bite and kick at each other as they frolicked around the enclosure.
"Look at her," Joxer said. "What do you think I think?"
Jett laughed softly. "I thought you'd like her."
Tyche eventually stopped playing, lowering her head to graze and Luck ventured over to the twins, blowing from his exertions. He raised his head over the fence, his harsh breath ruffling Jett's hair.
Jett closed his eyes and lifted his face toward Luck. "Such a good horse," he crooned.
Joxer laughed out loud and Luck jerked his head up in alarm.
"What?" Jett asked defensively, scowling at Joxer.
"Nothing," Joxer said with a wistful smile. "I'd just forgotten how you get with your horses."
Apparently forgiving Joxer his outburst, Luck lowered his head to Jett's caressing hand, and Joxer tentatively reached out, grinning with pleasure when he was allowed to stroke the velvet black muzzle.
Ares silently materialized some distance away from Joxer and caught sight of Gabrielle, who was standing with her back to him a short distance away, watching the figures leaning on the fence. Ares grinned with anticipation. It had been far too long since he'd had a little fun with Xena or Gabrielle; he was going to enjoy this.
Gabrielle stood beneath the overhang of the inn's porch, her body swaying slightly as she appeared to debate whether to charge forward or stay put. Ares cocked his head as he took in the scene from her point of view. Joxer and Jett were standing close together, identical in their dark clothes, both of them idly stroking the horse in a very intimate tableau. Ares watched for a moment before leaning close to her ear. "Jealous, Gabrielle?"
She turned on him with impressive speed. "Ares," she hissed. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, right now, the same thing you are. Watching Joxer and Jett. Isn't it wonderful to see brothers who are so - close?" he asked with a leer.
Her lips tightened. "So it is Jett. He's supposed to be in prison," she said, deliberately ignoring the innuendo of his remark.
"He was pardoned and released. He's a free man," Ares said. "And now I suppose Joxer will be traveling with him, instead of tagging along with you and Xena.
"Joxer wouldn't..." Gabrielle stared at the twins in dismay, then turned to Ares, her eyes narrowed. "Why should I believe anything you say?"
"Because it's the truth?" Ares paused, raising an eyebrow. "I'll tell you something else that's true, Gabrielle. You are jealous. You can tell yourself it's about good or bad, right or wrong, but the fact is, you don't want Joxer traveling with Jett because you want him with you, traipsing along behind you, eating his heart out and feeding your ego."
"No, that's not true!" Gabrielle said hotly, her face flushed, "Joxer is a good friend, and I don't want to see him hurt." She closed her eyes, calming herself with a visible effort. "What are you doing here, Ares?"
"Actually, I'm here to deliver a message to Jett." Ares smiled blandly, stroking the hilt of his sword.
Gabrielle raised an eyebrow skeptically. "You? A delivery boy?"
"Well," he said with pretend reluctance, dangling the bait, "it did fit in with my plans. It seems a worshipper of mine is here and I wanted to talk to him."
"Whatever you're planning won't work," Gabrielle said coldly. "Xena is here and she won't sit still while you and your warlords cause trouble."
"Gabrielle, I'm hurt - you're so quick to judge me." Ares rocked back on his heels, hand held over his heart. "Besides, you forget, not all my followers are warlords." He paused, waiting for the inevitable spark of curiosity before continuing. "The follower I'm here to see is your very own Joxer."
Gabrielle looked as if she'd been slapped and Ares laughed out loud. No matter how Joxer yearned and pined for the woman, her peace loving ways had never swayed him in his devotion to his god. The fact that Joxer worshipped the God of War was something Gabrielle tried hard to forget, and Ares never tired of reminding her.
With a final mocking smile Ares bowed, then turned and strode across the grass toward the twins.
In a replay of the previous evening, Joxer found himself relaxing at the table by the fire, warm and content after a delicious dinner and plenty of wine. He frowned slightly, staring into his cup and thinking of Ares' visit. He had come with a message: Jett was to leave in the morning and head for the coast. Strife wanted him in Pylos before the next full moon.
Joxer had been unable to tear his eyes away from the God of War, and his heart hammered madly when Ares nodded at him in a silent greeting. Joxer had been dying to ask about the things Jett had told him last night, about Ares visiting his father, checking in on him every night, but he had been unable to do anything more than stare in awe. It had taken a while for the meaning of the message to sink in. Jett had to leave first thing in the morning.
"What?" Jett asked.
"I didn't say anything," Joxer said, glancing up in surprise.
Jett rolled his eyes. "You don't have to say anything, Jox. I can see that you're thinking and whatever it is has you upset. So what is it?"
"Uhm, well, I was just - uhm..." Joxer floundered, thinking this would be a great time for Jett to use his uncanny mind reading skills.
Jett frowned. "What?"
"Uhm - I was wondering if maybe I could go with you," Joxer said, trying to act nonchalant. "I mean, to Pylos. Uhm - when you leave tomorrow."
Jett squinted at him appraisingly. "It would be a distraction," he said softly, almost to himself.
Joxer looked down, his face flushing. "Oh, okay - uhm, never mind then," he whispered.
"Jox, that's a compliment," Jett said, leaning forward and lightly stroking his wrist. "I'd love it if you came with me."
"Really?" Joxer looked up, immediately caught by Jett's intense stare.
"Oh yeah," he whispered, rubbing the inside of Joxer's wrist with a fingertip before sitting back in his chair. "Really."
Joxer felt a rush of warmth and he grinned happily. "Well, okay then. Uhm... I guess I should just..."
A bright flash of light erupted next to the table, and Strife stood there, impossibly tall, his black hair in a wild disorder. Joxer tried to hide his disappointment; for just a second there he had thought it was Ares returning. Then his stomach lurched as he saw the way Strife was looking at Jett. Joxer could feel the raw, sexual hunger of the god and blood rushed unbidden to his groin. Belatedly realizing he was being disrespectful, he started to rise from his chair, but Strife stopped him with an upraised hand.
Joxer sank back into his seat, disappointment forgotten. It was rare for him to be this close to a god and his skin tingled from the aura that seemed to surround him. Strife and Jett were talking, but the sense of their words wasn't sinking in. Joxer just sat and stared, dreamily wondering how it would feel to actually touch him, what it was like to be the lover of a god. He'd bet it was something amazing, feeling that tingle all over your whole body. His thoughts only served to make his cock harder and he flushed, trying to get his disobedient erection under control.
"...he looks yummy in the clothes you bought him."
Joxer snapped to attention. They were talking about him. Strife was grinning at him, a positively predatory look in his eyes.
"Yes, yummy indeed," Strife repeated, circling around behind Joxer, examining his appearance from every angle.
Jett watched, a small smile curving his lips. "You act like you've never seen him before."
"Never like this," Strife said, his breath tickling Joxer's neck. "Never when he knew it was me."
Joxer sat motionless and ventured a glance from the corner of his eyes. Strife's face was just inches from his own. His eyes were wild, madder even than Jett's, and Joxer quickly looked away, whimpering softly as cool fingers trailed over his neck.
"Delicious," Strife murmured silkily. Joxer shivered and wondered if he were going to come in his pants. He felt mingled relief and disappointment when Strife moved away, circling around the table. The god dragged long white fingers through Jett's hair as he passed behind him and Jett briefly closed his eyes at the touch.
"I've gotta get back," Strife said.
Jett rose. "Here, Jox, you'll need this," he said, tossing his money pouch to Joxer.
"What do you want me to do?" Joxer asked as he caught it in both hands, surprised by how heavy it was. He stared at the soft leather for a moment, then looked up. He was all alone; Jett and Strife were gone.
Joxer realized he'd probably had too much wine when he found himself stumbling on the stairs. He grasped the railing, walking carefully, determined not to fall. He entered his room and stared, dumbfounded. It looked like Ares was standing in front of the fire. Joxer pinched himself. Surely he wasn't that drunk.
"You're not that drunk. I'm really here," Ares said, his voice low and quiet. "I wanted to talk to you."
"You - you wanted to talk to me?" Joxer's voice sounded weird in his ears and he cleared his throat.
"Yes, you, Joxer." Ares stepped toward Joxer, and though it was hard to tell in the firelight, he thought Ares looked sad. "You're full of questions about what Jett told you last night."
Joxer gaped, unable to speak, wondering how Ares had known. Then he mentally kicked himself - Ares was a god. Joxer's god. Even if he didn't know what Jett had said about him, Joxer's own prayers would have clued him in.
Ares smiled wryly.
"Well - uhm - is it true? What Jett said?" Joxer finally managed. "Did you really visit my Dad to make him stop hitting me? Did you really say..." he trailed off uncertainly, his courage failing him.
"Yes, it's true." Ares sighed. "I should have been more careful about what I let Jett reveal to you."
"You mean you were never going to tell me?" Joxer asked, puzzled. "Why? Why didn't you want me to know that you cared about me?"
"I didn't want you to know because I didn't want to contaminate you, make you hard. You're too valuable to me the way you are," Ares said flatly.
"Me? Valuable to you?" Joxer laughed in disbelief.
Ares stepped even closer, his face dark and intent. "Yes you, Joxer. You're valuable to me because of your worship, your love."
"But, all warriors worship you." Joxer paused, his voice growing soft. "Better warriors than me."
Ares shook his head impatiently. "I have lots of followers, Joxer. Warlords, soldiers, mercenaries. But think about it," he said, "how many of them do you think actually worship me?"
Joxer stared. Every warrior in Greece worshipped the God of War. Well, nearly all; some were followers of Athena, but the majority of them followed Ares.
Ares shook his head and Joxer felt pinned by the intense dark eyes. "Oh, they pray," Ares said with a smirk. "They pray for victory, for success, for vengeance. They make offerings in hope that I'll be swayed to give them what they want, make sure their side wins. That's not worship." He paused, stepping even closer, and Joxer had to look up to meet his eyes. "You're so innocent," Ares continued, his voice soft like a lover's. "You think everyone loves me the way you do, but you're wrong. You're the only follower I have who prays just because you want to. Just because you love me."
Joxer was stunned. It had never occurred to him that his prayers and offerings were in any way different from those of Ares' other followers.
"Let me show you how different." Ares moved closer, lightly touching his fingertips to Joxer's cheek.
Joxer's eyes closed as memories, suppressed for years by Ares' power, overwhelmed him. It all came rushing back to him, scores of incidents over the course of his life when Ares had intervened on his behalf, personally answering his prayers, then carefully wiping Joxer's memories. And, he remembered, oh gods, that kiss. Joxer felt as if it were happening to him all over again, the feel of Ares' arms and lips and tongue and the ecstasy that had filled him, joy and pleasure unlike anything he had ever known in his life.
Ares' hand dropped to his side and Joxer stared at him in awe, dumbfounded by the revelation. Ares had revealed everything, including the extent of his own loneliness and fear. Fear that if Joxer knew how much Ares cared he would become hard and ruthless in his efforts to please the God of War, losing his capacity to love. Fear that something might happen to Joxer, sending him to Hades' realm before the natural span of his life was over. And, worst of all, an ever-present dread that Joxer would turn away from him, that every prayer might be the last. Joxer could see so clearly now, as unbelievable as it was, why he mattered to Ares, why his love was important, rare and special.
"Never. You'll never stop being my god," Joxer whispered, slowly shaking his head. "I will always love you, Ares. Always."
Ares was smiling, just a little, but it was a real smile and he was so beautiful that Joxer felt his heart would break just looking at him. "Even when I'm dead, you'll still be my god, and I'll still love you," Joxer stated emphatically. He had never been more sure of anything in his life. "I promise. Always."
"Always is a long time, Joxer," Ares said, his voice low and husky. "I'm going to hold you to that promise." He raised a hand, lightly pressing his palm against Joxer's chest, right over his heart. Joxer's skin burned where Ares touched him, and joy surged in him, so sharp and pure that it was almost painful.
Amazed at his own temerity, Joxer lifted his hands to Ares' dark, curling hair, plunging his fingers into the softness and pulling the god's head to his own. Hard arms wrapped tightly around him and he was crushed against Ares' chest. Soft lips touched his and he opened his mouth eagerly for the seeking tongue. Time lost meaning - it might have been hours or just an instant. It was incredible, sheer bliss and Joxer felt as if he were flying.
Blearily opening his eyes, Joxer found himself alone in the room. He lay atop the covers of the bed, fully clothed, freezing cold. Some time must have passed, for the fire had burned low. He slowly licked his lips, smiling as he imagined he tasted the lingering essence of Ares' mouth.
Strife's temple in Pylos was secluded and discreet, invisible from the nearest road; the god used it as an operations base, not a gathering place for his worshippers. It was so silent Jett could hear the sound of his soft footsteps on the stone floor as he walked to the niche where he knew there would be a decanter of wine. Jett shivered; the chill night air was more humid here by the sea, and Strife had taken him in just the clothes he was wearing at dinner.
"It was mean to leave Joxer that way," Jett said over his shoulder as he poured the garnet liquid into a goblet.
"Trust me, he'll be fine," Strife said from close behind him. Jett shivered again as warm lips touched the back of his neck.
"Why didn't you bring him, too?" Jett turned and took a sip of wine, impassively watching Strife over the rim of the cup. "I could see that you wanted to. Do you like that idea? Both of us?"
"Mmmm, yeah. Sometime," the god said with a leer. "But right now I want to be alone with you."
"You never intended to wait for me, did you?" Jett asked with a smile. "Why did you ask Ares to deliver that message?"
Strife shrugged and grinned, his dimples showing. "Ares wanted to see Joxer - I gave him an excuse - it all worked out." He playfully cocked an eyebrow at Jett. "Enough about them, though. I have something for you."
Strife gestured dramatically and an ornate box appeared, hovering midair between the two, and he slowly lifted the heavy lid. Inside was a dagger, simple in design but elegantly made, gleaming in the soft candlelight. Strife reached in and lifted it from the velvet folds of the box. "Hephaestus," the god said softly. "I had him make it just for you." Strife closed the lid on the box and it disappeared.
Strife held the dagger up between them, staring at it raptly. "It's special - almost alive," he breathed. He moved then, so fast it was almost a blur, the long blade slicing through the air. Then he abruptly stopped, his intense pale eyes boring into Jett. Strife held the dagger up against his mouth and Jett could see a drop of bright blood welling where the sharp tip pierced his lower lip.
Jett set down the goblet and stepped close, taking the dagger from Strife's hand. "Mmmm, it does feel alive," he whispered, licking the blood from Strife's lip. "It's beautiful - I love it."
"So glad," Strife breathed, his breath hitching as Jett dragged the flat of the blade down his chest, all the way to the bulge in his crotch.
Jett drew back and stared into Strife's wide, dilated eyes, sparkling in the candlelight. "Let's break it in."
Joxer shivered in the pre-dawn cold as he ventured downstairs for breakfast, grateful when he saw Stamatios had already built a welcoming fire. He sat at the table he'd begun to think of as his and sleepily rubbed his eyes. He hadn't realized how much he'd miss sleeping with Jett after just one night together again. He'd had another vivid dream of Ares and it seemed like he'd tossed and turned all night in the cold bed, finally giving up on sleep and going down to see what there was to eat.
The dream had seemed so real, and different from the ones he'd had since he was a child. Those were always in a temple, but this time Ares had stood before him in his room here in this inn and he'd touched him, and they'd kissed... Joxer's face grew hot and he ducked his head to hide his blush.
"Here you go, Joxer," Stamatios said cheerfully. Joxer quickly smiled his thanks as he took the tray of hot bread and cheese.
Joxer had been stunned and disbelieving at Jett's revelation that Ares had intervened on his behalf with his father all those years ago. The very idea was ridiculous and yet - something had happened. He closed his eyes and he could almost see Ares as he had looked the night before, his dark eyes glittering in the firelight; feel the soft hair in his hands, the hard body pressed against his; the low, husky voice saying... Joxer's eyes flew open and he shook his head, trying to dispel the images in his mind. He had seen Ares from time to time over the years as he traveled with Xena and the god had never indicated that he felt anything special for Joxer.
No, Joxer thought sadly, it was just a dream. A very nice dream, but just a dream all the same. Ares may have had some reason for wanting to keep Joxer safe when he was a child, but all that last night - that was just a fantasy, probably inspired by a combination of seeing Ares yesterday, and the incredible sensations he'd felt when Strife came for Jett, and too much strong wine.
Yes, that made sense. Joxer remembered the intoxicating feeling that buzzed along his skin when Strife had touched him. Being so near the god, and knowing how close Jett and Strife were, had just gotten his thoughts going in that direction. If the truth be told, Joxer had always been a little envious of his brother's relationship with his god, and last night he'd gotten a first hand taste of what that relationship was like. It was no wonder really. All that business about Ares being lonely and Joxer's worship being special was just how he wished it could be, how he knew it was with Jett and Strife. Disappointed to have found such a plausible explanation for his nighttime 'visitor,' Joxer stared glumly down at his plate, and determinedly pushed all thoughts of Ares out of his mind. He couldn't afford to indulge himself in wishful thinking - he needed to figure out what to do.
He was undecided as to a plan of action. Strife and Jett had disappeared before he could find out what they wanted. Should he wait for word? Take the horses and head for Pylos? That seemed like a reasonable plan, but Joxer hesitated, knowing that he would be an easy mark traveling alone with two valuable horses, despite his new, less conspicuous clothing. As much as he hated to admit it, he knew he wouldn't be able to defend Tyche and Luck from thieves. He couldn't travel with Xena and Gabrielle, either, because they were going in the wrong direction. Perhaps he could stay on here, maybe helping Strymon and Stamatios with chores in exchange for room and board until Jett returned, or he received some kind of instructions as to what to do next.
Gabrielle's unexpected appearance in the dining room at that moment was a welcome distraction from his uncomfortable thoughts, and Joxer eagerly waved her over to join him.
Ares couldn't believe it. After all this time he'd finally revealed himself to Joxer and the idiot was convincing himself it was all a dream. He had a good mind to show up and... He took a deep breath. No. That would take care of itself. The problem now was Gabrielle. He could feel Joxer's mood spiraling downward, the happiness and confidence he'd gained from his reunion with his brother rapidly eroding in the wake of Jett's disappearance, and now, Gabrielle's carping.
Ares pounded his fist into the top of the altar, absently rubbing his knuckles as he watched the huge marble slab split apart and fall to the stone floor with a satisfying crash. Well, he could certainly fix one thing. Jett was going back. Now.
Ares appeared in Strife's temple with a characteristic show of light. He stopped dead, his eyes widening in shock as he took in the scene. "What the fuck are you doing? It looks like a slaughterhouse in here!"
"Enjoying the afterglow," Strife said with giggle. "Shoulda come earlier; ya missed the best part."
Ares stared down at their bodies, lying tangled together, covered in gore. He'd expected to find them having sex. He hadn't expected to find them looking like corpses on a battlefield. Strife had several daggers lodged in his chest and was covered with wounds, a few of which were still bleeding.
Ares bent his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You two are so fucking weird."
"Oh yeah," Strife said, licking his lips and moaning with pleasure as Jett reached over and began pulling the daggers out of his chest.
Ares rolled his eyes. "Get cleaned up and take Jett back to Mantinea. Joxer needs him."
"Uh uh," Strife said, shaking his head. "I can't leave again, things are too tense here. I shouldn't have left before."
"I don't know why you obsess over these political things the way you do..." Ares gritted his teeth at Strife's stubborn expression. "Fine, I'll take him then, but he's going back," Ares growled.
"What's wrong with Joxer?" Jett asked, pulling the last knife from Strife's body and slowly licking the blade.
Ares pursed his lips. "That goody goody Gabrielle picking at him again," he said sourly.
"She can be such a bitch sometimes," Strife said. He stretched and yawned, negligently waving his hand at Jett.
"I should've blasted her to ashes before he ever met her," Ares muttered. "Would've saved him the pain and trouble - and I'd probably still have Xena, too."
Jett, now clean and dressed, got to his feet and walked to Ares' side.
"Aren't you going to clean yourself up?" Ares asked Strife, his lip curled in distaste as his eyes roamed over the blood and gore that covered his nephew's body.
"Nah." Strife grinned. "I kinda like it. Besides..." He paused, wagging his eyebrows suggestively and trailing a long finger along his hardening cock. "I think I have a little left in me."
"You'll need this then," Jett said, throwing a dagger with deadly accuracy.
Strife threw back his head and laughed maniacally, clutching his chest where the handle of the knife protruded.
Ares closed his eyes and shook his head, grasping Jett by the arm and transporting him back to the inn in Mantinea.
Gabrielle sat hunched by the fire, unable to get warm. Why had she said those things to Joxer? She knew she was right, but she'd gone about it all wrong, and hadn't changed his mind at all. If anything, he was more determined than ever to go off with Jett, and she had managed to hurt him in the process. Again.
The door opened, letting in a blast of cold air and she quickly turned to see who was coming in, smiling with relief when she saw it was Joxer.
"Joxer," she called. "I'm so glad you came back - I want to explain." Maybe this time she could make him understand that she'd only said what she did because she cared about him. Maybe not the way he wanted her to, but she did care.
He walked up to the fire, staring down at her, his face an impassive mask. "I'm not Joxer."
Gabrielle felt an icy shiver of dread. "Jett?" she whispered.
"Yes. Where is he?"
"I don't know," she said, clutching her coat tightly across her chest. "He left, I guess to go for walk." Jett's gaze seemed to cut right through her and she shivered again.
Jett turned without another word and left the inn.
"Joxer?" Jett's voice called softly.
Jett was very near. Joxer knew he didn't stand a chance at successfully hiding from his brother, he never had, so he just stood still, his arms folded over his chest, and waited for Jett to find him. After arguing with Gabrielle he'd stormed off without taking the time to get his vest or anything and now he was freezing in just his shirt. No wonder she thought he couldn't make his own decisions.
"Jox," Jett whispered. "Why didn't you answer me?"
"I came out here to think," he said. "Just leave me alone, Jett."
"Is that really what you want?"
Yes. Joxer frowned. No. He sighed, staring at the misty cloud that hung in the cold air.
Jett moved in closer and Joxer could feel the heat of his body. "I can't leave you alone, Jox, don't you know that?" Joxer shivered as Jett's warm breath flowed over his ear. Jett's hands were on him, sliding over his hips and up his sides, over his chest, gently cradling his face. Jett kissed him then, and it was sweet, so sweet.
Joxer tried to think about Gabrielle, about his hurt and anger, but he couldn't focus, not when Jett was kissing him like that. He stopped trying to think then and opened his mouth, kissing Jett back, hungry for the familiar, tantalizing essence that was unique to his brother. He ran his palms over the warm leather that covered Jett's back, holding him close, then raised his hands to Jett's hair, burying his fingers in it, gripping it tightly and using his hold to slant Jett's mouth against his own. Jett moaned softly and some tendril of control inside Joxer snapped. He yanked at Jett's clothes, and his brother immediately began to help him, stripping as quickly as possible between lengthy, wet kisses.
"Suck me," Joxer said, opening his pants with shaking fingers.
Jett slowly dropped to his knees, staring into Joxer's eyes the entire time. Then he turned his attention to the hard cock in front of him, greedily taking it into his mouth, and the hot, wet suction drew a moan from Joxer's throat. Jett was pulling at his pants and then hard fingers dug into the skin of his buttocks, and it felt as if Jett were swallowing his cock whole. He shook his head, good, yes it felt good, but he wanted more, he wanted to be closer, needed it, needed to be inside Jett.
He grabbed Jett's hair, pulling him away. Jett stared up at him with bright eyes, an odd smile on his lips. Joxer stared back, realizing he had no oil. He shook his head again, trying to clear the fog of need. His cock was slick with saliva and Joxer decided that it was good enough. Joxer circled around behind Jett, falling to his knees and pushing his brother's shoulders down.
He entered with no preamble, shoving in as hard as he could. Jett groaned softly, bracing himself against the force of Joxer's thrusts. Joxer felt his knees slipping on the muddy ground and he gripped Jett's hips tighter. Oh yes, this was so good. Jett couldn't stay up on the slippery ground and Joxer fell with him, barely breaking his rhythm. He leaned forward, grasping Jett's shoulder with one hand, using the additional leverage to thrust even deeper, harder. A tiny part of his brain was appalled at his behavior, but he ignored it. He didn't care. This was so good, it felt so good, and he just didn't care.
It was over too soon. Joxer came hard, groaning with pleasure and collapsing over Jett's back. He was panting, his shirt clinging damply to his sweaty skin, his heart hammering wildly. Jett moved to his side, and Joxer slowly rolled off his back, putting his arm around Jett's waist, holding their bodies close together.
Jett put his hand over Joxer's and moved it down to his cock. It was hard and straining, and slick with what Joxer assumed was pre-come and mud. He lightly stroked it, laughing breathlessly as it leapt at his touch.
"Don't tease," Jett groaned.
Joxer bit Jett's shoulder, hard, licking at the sweaty skin. Jett gasped and covered Joxer's hand with his own, stroking the length of his cock with a firm grasp. He could tell Jett was close and Joxer let him have his way, both their hands moving together, stroking Jett the way he wanted it. Joxer's own cock was still half-hard and he thrust experimentally, trying to aim for the place inside that would drive Jett over the edge. Judging by Jett's whimper of pleasure, the move was successful and he repeated it. And then Jett was coming, his semen arcing onto the muddy ground. Joxer continued to stroke Jett's cock, his touch becoming lighter and gentler as it softened in his hand.
They lay quietly together for a moment then Jett squirmed around, turning to lie face to face, mud, semen and the gods only knew what else smeared between their bodies. Joxer rolled onto his back and took Jett into his arms, holding him close. Jett was still breathing fast when he kissed Joxer, his mouth soft and easy now that the desperation was past. Joxer's arms tightened as he kissed Jett back, and he felt his brother's body trembling slightly.
"Are you all right?" Joxer whispered. "I hurt you, didn't I?"
"You know I love it when you do that," Jett said in a low murmur.
Joxer smiled tiredly. Jett's muddy hands were in Joxer's hair and he briefly wondered how they were going to get it all cleaned up. He could just imagine what they'd look like when they returned to the inn and his smile faded at the thought of explaining his appearance to Gabrielle and Xena.
"I'm freezing, Jox," Jett said softly. "Let's go back." Joxer nodded, untangling himself from Jett's limbs, only then realizing that his own hands and feet had grown numb.
Jett moved away and Joxer unsteadily rose to his feet, pulling up his pants and tucking his spent cock inside. He looked down at himself and groaned. "Look at us! We've got mud all over us. On our clothes, in our hair..."
"Don't worry so much, Jox," Jett said mildly. "When we get back, I'll get Stamatios to take care of these clothes and heat up some water so we can clean up."
As it turned out, no explanations were necessary. Jett brought them through the kitchen entrance and Stamatios merely clucked in dismay at their appearance before he began bustling around preparing a bath. Once they were clean the twins huddled by the fire, wrapped in blankets and drinking hot, spiced wine.
"Your friend asked me to give this to you when you came back," Stamatios said, handing Joxer a scroll before refilling their goblets from the pitcher that was warming by the fire. Joxer stared at it for a moment. "It's from Gabrielle," he said, looking at Jett.
Jett raised an eyebrow. "Well?" he finally asked when Joxer made no move to open it.
"Oh." Joxer hastily unrolled the parchment, his eyes darting over the familiar handwriting. "They're gone," he said softly. "She wanted to say good bye and apologize..." Joxer was stunned. He couldn't believe that Gabrielle would actually apologize for her harsh words, would go out of her way to invite him to catch up with her and Xena, to travel with her.
Jett plucked the scroll from his hands. He read it silently, then looked searchingly at Joxer.
Gabrielle didn't want him with her though, Joxer thought sadly, not really. She just didn't want him to be with Jett. He had been a fool, chasing after a dream, tagging along with Xena and Gabrielle in the hope that one fine day Gabby would wake up and realize that she loved him as much as he loved her. He'd had nothing better to do, nobody else he wanted to be with. But things were different now. Now he had the opportunity to be with someone who really cared about him, really wanted his company. He understood why Gabrielle disapproved, wanted him to turn his back on Jett and stop worshipping Ares, he really did. But what she couldn't understand was that Joxer could no more stop loving them than he could stop loving her.
"Jox? I have to leave for Pylos in the morning," Jett said softly. "Are you coming with me?"
"Yes, I'm coming with you." Joxer turned to his brother and gave him a little smile. Suddenly he frowned. "Wait a minute. How did you get here, anyway? I thought Strife wanted you with him. Didn't he take you to Pylos last night?"
"He did." Jett stirred slightly, nestling closer to Joxer's body. "Ares came for me because you were so upset."
"What?" Joxer asked in disbelief.
"He came to Strife's temple and brought me back. He said you needed me." Jett looked at him calmly. "What happened between you and Ares, anyway?"
"What do you mean?" Joxer asked. "Nothing happened. Why?"
Jett shook his head and moved the blanket aside, exposing Joxer's chest. "Something happened."
"What are you talking about?" Joxer frowned and looked down at his chest.
"I'm talking about this." Jett traced a fingertip over Joxer's skin. Exactly where Ares had touched him in his dream, Joxer realized, as he stared down at Jett's hand. He again felt the burning warmth, the sheer joy that had consumed him at Ares' touch, as he gaped in astonishment at the image of a sword that marked his chest, its outline bold and dark against his pale skin. The tip of the blade pointed directly at his heart.
They rose before dawn. Joxer was still fuzzy with sleep as he left Jett in the courtyard with the horses and slowly walked into the silent temple. He advanced toward the altar, threading his way between the few soldiers who knelt quietly in their morning prayers. He was incredibly nervous, even though today was just the same as the hundreds of other times he'd come to worship. Ahh, but it wasn't the same. Joxer's hand involuntarily rose to his chest; nothing would ever be the same again. As much as he wished he'd known all along, Joxer couldn't blame Ares for keeping his secret, hiding Joxer's own memories from him. Not after he'd experienced the depths of emotion Ares had shared with him.
Joxer knelt, bowing his head and mentally reciting the requisite prayers, soaking in the familiar atmosphere of the temple of war: the scent of incense that was almost strong enough to overpower the tang of sweaty, unwashed bodies, the quiet clanking of armor and scabbards as soldiers dropped to their knees on the unforgiving stone floors. It was all so familiar, and at the same time strange and new. For the first time ever, Joxer knew his prayers were being received, and that they mattered.
When he completed his devotions he continued to kneel, grinning foolishly. Before when he finished his prayers he would have left the temple, the ritual complete. But now it felt as though something more was needed. He was still for a minute, then he stood and approached the altar. He wished he had something special to offer, something profound, something to show Ares how sincere he was, but he had nothing appropriate.
Joxer stood there uncertainly for a moment before he realized: nothing he could leave would mean as much as what he'd already given. He smiled and raised his hand to his lips, then pressed his fingertips against the cool marble of the altar.
Joxer made his way back to the entrance of the temple, pausing on the top step to search out his brother. He spied Jett waiting patiently in a corner of the courtyard with Luck and Tyche, using their bulk to protect himself from the cold wind. The horses stood close together, sharing their warmth, half asleep. Joxer felt a surge of happiness at the sight of them, knowing they were waiting for him, and he grinned broadly as he trotted down the steps to join them.